Last night at Claremont McKenna College, Stephen Davis and I moderated an exchange between Bishop Robert Barron and William Lane Craig. You can watch a video recording of the event at Bishop Barron’s Facebook page. (It looks like you don’t need to be signed in in order to view it.) Michael Uhlmann is the gentleman you'll see introducing the participants, and Joe Bessette and Brandon Vogt organized the whole thing. The event was sponsored by the Claremont Center for Reason, Religion, and Public Affairs, with the assistance of Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Prof. Craig’s Reasonable Faith.Earlier in the day, Bishop Barron, Prof. Craig, and about twenty other scholars participated in a symposium. The topics for discussion were a paper by Bishop Barron on divine simplicity and a paper by Prof. Craig on the penal substitution theory of the atonement. An audio recording of the symposium was made and my understanding is that it will be made available at some point.
UPDATE: Photos from the afternoon symposium have now been posted at Bishop Barron's Facebook page. The post also indicates that audio from the symposium will be posted soon. I will update this post again when it is.
UPDATE 1/17: Audio from the afternoon symposium has now been posted at the Word on Fire website (scroll down).
Do you have anything to say about Craig's arguments against realism about abstract objects and against divine conceptualism?
I remember reading somewhere that Craig once said how he has nothing against Scholastic realism but is against Platonic realism mostly, even though he also has goes against general sorts of realism as well, so it should be interesting to see if his work has any bearing on A-T versions of that.
It was a really enjoyable dialogue. Thanks for your participation in it, Dr. Feser!ReplyDelete
Bishop Barron thinks its pssoble thsre is no one on hell. A heretic.ReplyDelete
I'm not familiar with his work, can you point to where he says this? And in what way does he mean possible? Like logically possible?Delete
John Smith: Bishop Barron thinks its pssoble thsre is no one on hell. A heretic.Delete
You've got a few typos there, so I'm not quite sure what you mean. No one in Hell is a heretic? Or perhaps you mean that the Bishop is a heretic, in which case I assume you're using "heretic" in the modern sense of "a person who says something I don't like". Out of idle curiosity, can you name somebody you know is in Hell?
Here's his position, and I agree that it's both heretical and a rationalization to the point of sophistry. Us not knowing the fate of any individual for absolute certain != it being a live possibility that there are absolutely no damned whatsoever. That idea makes a joke out of the entire concept of hell, and of the urgency of repentance:Delete
Well, it seems to me that only a sophist and a heretic could accuse Bishop Barron of being a heretic and a sophist himself judging from what he wrote.Delete
1- Even IF it were heresy, he may not have fallen into the sin of heresy. The necessary qualifications for calling someone a heretic here have not been met. We need to stop with this horrible habit among certain Catholics (predominantly those tending towards radical traditionalism) of calling anyone a heretic without appropriate qualification.Delete
2- As far as I know, it is not a heresy to hold there are no people in hell. He does not deny that people *can* go to hell -- meaning he does not really defend apokatastasis/universalism per se --, and to my knowledge neither does he hold that there are no people in hell -- he just says it's a possibility. Von Balthasar himself thought we could *hope* no person would go to hell, though he advised against *affirming* it.
Personally, I think I would agree that it is *possible* that no human is in hell, but I think that view would be extremely improbable nonetheless, since I think that it's immensely plausible that at the very least the worst sinners are in hell. None of this means people should be lax when it comes to salvation anyway.
But I don't think what he defends is a "heresy", and I certainly think we can't call him a heretic.
Isn't Judas in hell?Delete
What is the substantial difference between claiming that a heresy is possibly true and claiming that it is in fact true *with respect of the heresy*? Apokatastasis is false. It is no good to put a maybe or an "I hope" in front of it.
Consider for instance a bishop who comes out and says that his opinion is "maybe Christ is not God incarnate". Nor is it any good to say "I hope Christ is not God incarnate."
It is no more permissible to teach that a heresy is maybe true than it is to teach that it is true. Nor is it permissible to teach that one ought to hope that a heresy is true. Everyone who has even a passing concern with Orthodoxy understands that the reason people do this is because they are more anxious about keeping people Catholics by pretending to be nice and accommodating then they are about sticking to Orthodoxy.
You seem to hold the strange opinion that apokatastasis is condemned on the basis of a mistake about *certainty*. No. The councils did not condemn apokatastasis because Origin was too confident: they condemned them because there are people in hell.
We need to stop with this horrible habit among certain Catholics (predominantly those tending towards being treacly nice guys) of accepting anyone or anything unqualifiedly provided that they show enough effeminate uncertainty about their questionable beliefs.
Perhaps we can just settle on calling it sententia haeresi proxima. Perhaps that would be sufficiently hedged for you.Delete
We need to stop with this horrible habit among certain Catholics (predominantly those tending towards being treacly nice guys) of accepting anyone or anything unqualifiedly provided that they show enough effeminate uncertainty about their questionable beliefs.Delete
Isn't Judas in hell?
No idea. The suicide would count against him but at least he did understand the true evil of his deeds and repent. That must put him ahead of unrepentant anti-theists e.g. Hitchens or Rand.
iopwoe, If in Christ there is not "male and female," on what basis is "effeminate" a condemnation. I don't recall masculinity as a dogma,Delete
It seems a very post-modernist tendency to declare someone kafir, that is to make a declaration of takfir, at the drop of a hat.
I do remember being taught back in the 50s that rash judgment was a sin and that we cannot commit the sin of presumption by declaring that this or that person was surely in hell (or heaven) based on our own public knowledge. In fact, Catholics used to be mocked for teaching that even a deathbed repentance could direct a person to heaven. Now it seems the alinskyite tactic of turning one's own beliefs against the target is taking root. But summum ius summa injuria.
From what I remember, apokatastasis was far more radical than mere universalism, since it held that even demons would be saved. On that basis, I do not know if we can say that it is not possible for all human souls to be saved. And certainly there is a difference between affirming that 1) it is IMPOSSIBLE for people to be condemned to hell, all will be saved and 2) it IS possible for people to go to hell, however, contingently speaking no one actually goes to hell. 2 is not the same as the "possibility" of 1 or the possibility of apokatastasis. 2 rejects that people cannot go to hell or that it's a necessary fact that all will be saved; it merely states that as a matter of contingent fact all human souls may be saved. The only way for 2 to absolutely not be open to faith would be if the Church actually proclaims as a matter of faith that at least some people are in hell.
And as I said, I believe that at least the very worst sinners are in hell. But I don't think we can rule out 2 as "heresy" simply because apokatastasis has been condemned.
And yet again, since there is a resistance on your part: we need to stop this horrible habit of calling anyone a "heretic" -- especially publically -- even if they hold a view that may seem heretical. The qualifications have not been matched, sorry. I know it can be great fun to posture as Inquisitor, tho -- I've done it before. But it's problematic.
OQ & TheOflorinDelete
The word translates St Paul's μαλακός. 'Softness' works:
3. (of persons, modes of life) soft, mild, gentle
-1. (in a bad sense) soft, yielding, remiss
-2. faint-hearted, effeminate, cowardly
-3. incapable of bearing pain
-4. (of music) soft, effeminate
-5. (of reasoning) weak, loose
Good Lord, the whole faith is "problematic".
"The qualifications have not been matched"
You have said this already. What are they? Seems to me to be error (material heresy) and will (formal heresy). I believe him to be clearly in material heresy, since it's contrary to scripture and Church teaching that hell be empty of men altogether, and since he's a Bishop it beggars belief to think he doesn't hold this belief willfully. The Church admits of degrees of heresy: I don't have to claim that he's in a state of grave error. But it's error nonetheless.
I mean, for God's sake, if no one is at all in hell to whom did Christ descend? If no one at all is in hell, who does John see thrown into the lake of fire? If no one at all is in hell, who are the goats? Who is at the left hand of the son?
On that alone you have sententia haeresi proxima, as Augustine makes very clear. I see no help in shifting modal register and speaking of it being "possible". Maybe if we limit ourselves merely to some conceivable world talk *then* one might skirt sententia haeresi proxima but to *what* end? That is an exercise in imagination only, not talk of God and the world.
Also the problem with apokatastasis is not that it includes "all free creatures" (demons eg). The reasoning that frees demons applies to men as well. It's the reasoning as such: that God simply will not damn people.
Possibility in the sense of what flows from God's revelation and nature (potency) seems contrary to this conclusion. Possibility in the sense of "could be imagined" is not error but is facile and conducive to further error. And it is obvious that this is the point: many nice-guy Christians have noted that hell makes people uncomfortable, and thinking of the Church as akin to a social club they think that they will get or maintain as many members as possible by *suggesting* that *maybe* *perhaps* things are such that they don't have to be uncomfortable. At best case this is facile and an error of education. We know that men lose their discomfort by exposure and replacement with alternative response. The right hope for men is what Christ says it is: the taking in of Christ and his brothers. We have *so much hope given to us by the faith*. Why this strange twaddle about what is "possible"?
The Catholic Church's position is de internis Ecclesia no iudicat. I don't think the Church has ever said Judas' soul is in hell. If so, we don't know officially know his destination, but the Scriptures say it would have been better had he not been born. So, the probability would speak for his damnation given he despaired and committed suicide.Delete
Though Catholics are not required to believe in the Fatima apparitions, they are approved private prophecy. The Blessed Mother showed the shepherd children a vision of hell where poor sinners go and said the number of souls going there is like snowflakes, for example. Other saints, like St. John Bosco, also had visions of souls going there. So, it doesn't seem like a sparsely populated location.
I don't see how positions like those of von Balthasar or Bishop Barron's can be orthodox vis-a-vis the Catholic faith.
Also Miguel, I had forgotten to note that heresy is what Ed calls it as well: "hairesis".Delete
On grounds of the probable implications of Christ's "better had he not been born" condemnation of Judas, one could call Judas' damnation sententia certa and given the historical opinions on the matter by the fathers perhaps sententia fidei proxima, but that would take more judgement. It is not fides ecclesiastica as far as I know. If sententia fidei proxima, then the denial of it amounts to sententia haeresi proxima. If it's merely sententia certa then the denial of it would be sententia de haeresi suspecta.
The bigger problem is with calling someone a heretic, not calling a certain view heretical. You seem to have understood the point since now you appear more careful to not simply call the bishop a heretic. Formal heresy requires pertinacity, and I don't think bishop Barron has any intention to contradict Church teaching. We cannot, and should not, call him a heretic. Especially considering his status as bishop and his record of good faith.
I agree with you that at least some people are in hell -- the worst of the worst. However I am not convinced that Catholics must believe that at least some people go to hell. Is there any Church teaching that clearly states that "at least some people are in hell", any infallibile teaching or anathema that really makes any sort of universalism untenable and out of the question? I don't think there is. What I said about demons was just to make the point that apokatastasis is quite radical when compared to average universalism.
I think you are underplaying the modality of what I said. The sort of universalism that is condemned by the Church is that which actively argues for the fact that God will not, and would never, condemn anyone and all will be restored. But not the weak universalism which I think best represents Balthasar and what Barron defended -- namely, that it is a very real danger and possibility indeed that people go to hell, someone can freely condemn himself to hell for eternity, and it could be the case that some have been condemned; however, as a purely contigent fact, we might come to find out that every human has been saved and that hell is therefore contingently "empty" in this regard. So Balthasar said that the catholic could *hope* all would be saved.
I don't think you have successfully showed that such a position is heretical and untenable for a Catholic. It has not been condemned. Do I think it's a plausible position? No, I think it's false, and while it would be nice for a hope, I personally don't even think much of it since I take it to be very probable that hell is not empty and at least there are some people in it. I think it also makes more sense with the data you pointed to. However, the relevant passages could be interpreted differently, and as far as Church exegesis goes, it does not seem impossible for a Catholic to hold the "weak universalist" view. Tradition would make it a very implausible view, but not an outright impossible and anathemized one (and there have been Church Fathers who held certain forms of universalism, too). I don't think we can call the weak universalism a heresy. The moral subtlety is extremely important; it culminates in a contingent universal salvation without denying any dogmas. In particular, the idea that Catholics might *hope* that all will be contingently saved, without outright affirming it, is an even subtler one, and even further away from heresy, I would say.
I think the position which Feser calls "heretical" would be akin to strong universalist ones -- i.e., eternal damnation is incompatible with the goodness of God, there is no hell, no one can go to hell, etc. Not the weak one -- namely, eternal damnation is compatible with God and is a real possibility for people, people can go to hell, but we may find out that actually everyone ended up being saved (contingently).
And of course, to actually debate Scripture passages, Church tradition, and their interpretations when approaching this subject, one would have to also interact with Balthasar's arguments and exegesis. The man was not an incompetent theologian and, in light of the differences between his modally weak *hope* and the universalisms that have been rejected and condemned by the Church, it remains an open position for the Catholic. Plausible? I don't think so. But not heretical.Delete
Maybe so on Judas, it's my understanding the Church has never taught definitively that he is in hell. If I am wrong, however, I would amend my understanding. The probably certainly speaks for it.
Without looking into the empty hell theory more, I can't know what the exact theological categorization would be, but it would seem to be some type of soteriological error or heresy. The traditional view among theologians is that the majority goes to hell or at least the majority of souls outside the Church. The person holding the opposite position would be materially in error or heresy, but not pertinacious until proven so either by external profession (e.g., "the Church says or the Council of Florence says, but I say...") or defection or obstinacy after correction by the proper authorities, at least so far as I understand things. I agree that some of the errors in circulation today are so obvious vis-a-vis Tradition that it is hard to see how those advancing them are not formally in error or heresy. It seems to me Dr. Feser has run into this re: the death penalty debates. But we also live in time of great confusion and crisis in society and the Church. In normal times, I think the relevant authorities would step in to make a determination on the matter.
Heretics like Luther clearly broke from the Church, but others, like the Modernists, attempted to stay within the fold, speaking and acting in an ambiguous and duplicitous manner. So, it is not always clear where people are at and to avoid the chaos of private judgment, especially with respect to hierarchs, it seems reasonable that the authorities would need to step in. The problem is, what happens when the authorities don't step in or even appear to be corrupted themselves? I can't answer that question, but assume God in His providence would resolve the issue over time, assuming time left before Christ's return.
Even with formal heretics, though, I don't think the Church holds definitively that such souls are damned at death. Objectively, it's Catholic dogma that anyone outside the Church at death is condemned, but subjectively, the Church isn't normally privy to God's judgment as to whether a person repents through a special grace granted at the moment of death. It's probably not the normal course of things, but can't be ruled out altogether either. I recall a sermon by a traditional priest where he told the story of a saintly priest's anti-Catholic mother, who was given a special grace at the moment of death and was saved, due to his prayers for her. Of course, the story is based in private revelation, but offers an example to illustrate the point.
You should read the Spe Salvi encyclical. Because if you believe Pope Benedict XVI, of all people, is crossing into heretical territory, then I think you might want to reflect on what orthodoxy indeed is.Delete
What is the exact form of hope called for by Benedict? What *is* permissable is to hope that every man come to Christ. But this is obviously highly unlikely given both the way of the world and the obstinacy of the wicked.
Also, heresy is just a species of error. No Pope is perfect, which is why scripture and the consensus of the fathers is important *even for a declaration supposed ex cathedra*. You and the other fellow over load the importance of the term: we know from polling that only a bit over 30% of paritioners think, for instance, that the Host is the real body and blood of Christ. About 30% hold the straightforward Protestant opinion that communion is merely symbolic.
This means that heresy is *extremely common*, and it doesn't help that tons of people are nervous about policing it at all. If a child kept insisting that 2 + 2 = 5 it is no favor to them or the world to not correct the error.
Sorry but that's not a heresy.Delete
There is no dogmatic teaching stating how many people are in hell
Now Fr. Barron also is not asserting that certainly there are no people in hell, but entertains the possibility that hell might be empty (save the fallen angels) due to the redemptive action of God.
As he puts it in one of his articles:
" Catholic doctrine is that Hell exists, but yet the Church has never claimed to know if any human being is actually in Hell. When the Church says that Hell exists, it means that the definitive rejection of God’s love is a real possibility. "
This in line with Hans Urs von Balthasar who was certainly not an heretic.
It's time to stop throwing words like "heretic" around.
Having an opinion that does not contradict explicitly a dogmatic teaching is not heresy.
The same scriptural grounds that put the fallen angels in hell (Revelation 20) put men there also. Are we to say, pace Balthasar's learned and Barron's nice guy wishful thinking, that John had revealed to him the condemnation of angels to hell but that he was mistaken about the damnation of the damned? On what grounds? Any? Any other than 'I don't want to hurt the fee fees of the wicked'?
For that, you'd have to actually interact with Balthasar's arguments, wouldn't you? And consider what he says about the specific exegesis of those passages. As I said, he was not even close to an incompetent theologian (and neither were some who were actually proponents of universalism). One would have to engage in Balthasar's arguments and analysis of the biblical text and interpretation, same for tradition etc.
What one *cannot* do, however, is simply dismiss the position as "heretical". It is not heretical. It has not been condemned. And it is not even universalism. As I stated, the modal subtlety is very important, and so is the fact that hell always remains as a possibility. Balthasar was certainly aware of the problems with apokatastasis and the relevant condemnations. Geez.
So you want me to read "Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?" or more than that?
I am just saying that the position is not heretical. It has never been condemned, it is not universalism, and Balthasar had an idea of what he was talking about. It is, I believe, an open position for Catholics, even though I don't particularly endorse it, and I myself said that I think it's a lot more plausible that at least some people will be condemned, and I also think that this makes more sense of the biblical text; we just can't totally rule out Balthasar's view or declare it "heretical", much less call bishop Barron or anyone who holds it a "heretic". That is all I've argued for. We can say biblical passages X Y and Z and certain traditional comments W S and P seem to point to the view that at least some people are in hell, though there are, of course, different interpretations to these things; we can say that a certain interpretation is more plausible than another, and so on. But we can't say that no catholic is allowed to have Balthasar's hope or that it's a heresy. It's not. It's not even universalism.Delete
If you wanna study the issue in depth, go for it, Balthasar's book would be a good exposition of the idea. I don't consider myself an expert to recommend a bibliography on that subject. I don't even think hell is empty, as I said. But I mean, if you really wanna argue that Balthasar's position is completely untenable, then of course it would be helpful to first read what Balthasar actually wrote.
As for bishop Barron's own position, I don't know to what extent he agrees with Balthasar's arguments. Just that his position would be close to Balthasar's conclusion.Delete
***So you want me to read "Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?" or more than that?***
Haven't I answered your question? I don't want you to do anything besides stopping saying "heresy" to views the Church has not condemned as heretical, and to stop suggesting bishop Barron or anyone who holds similar views are "heretics". That's all I want from you.Delete
But if you want to actually read Hans Balthasar's book before saying Hans Balthasar's position is heretical, then that's great. Go for it. It's generally good to understand a position before condemning it.
Barron also thinks Christ did not know he was the Messiah until he learned it later. A position condemned by the Church and it calls into question Christ's possession of the Beatific Vision. This is a clear heresy that Barron embraces.Delete
TheOFloinn: It seems a very post-modernist tendency to declare someone kafirDelete
I would've thought more a modernist tendency — setting oneself up as an authority equal to the real authorities.
I do remember being taught back in the 50s that rash judgment was a sin and that we cannot commit the sin of presumption
Not to mention problems of scandal (accusing people generally known to be orthodox of holding, even willfully so, to serious error) and of impiety (accusing bishops and even popes). Nor is Pope Benedict's view on this matter particularly obscure, so there is the plain old offence of arrogance in spouting off without doing any research first.
Further, knee-jerk severity is no better than pusillanimous laxity — it is simply the flip side of the same error. Indeed, in this day and age, it also often supplies aid and comfort to the complaisant, by providing examples at the other extreme against which to rebel.
Iwpoe: But this is obviously highly unlikely given both the way of the world and the obstinacy of the wicked.
Whenever someone makes probabilistic claims, I always like to see the math. Exactly what were the calculations that led you to an "obvious" result of <50%?
The same scriptural grounds that put the fallen angels in hell (Revelation 20) put men there also. [...] Any other than 'I don't want to hurt the fee fees of the wicked'?
I don't even know what that means, but trying to treat the most mystical and mysterious book of the Bible as though it were a time-travelling census report from the future is probably not the soundest exegesis.
Amos: Barron also thinks Christ did not know he was the Messiah until he learned it later. [...] This is a clear heresy that Barron embraces.
I'm glad that we have now established that accusing bishops otherwise known to be orthodox of heresy does not fall under the purview of random Internet commenters. Let us now observe that accusing bishops of embracing heresy — while technically not entailing that they actually are heretics — is still not responsible behaviour. The correct procedure to adopt is — as it so often is — one of humility. We shall ask, "Where have I gone wrong in my understanding of this matter?"
Humility leads us to charity, and charity leads us to clarity. Not meaningless paraphrases of "later" (later than what?). Not being mind-readers, we cannot claim to know what somebody "thinks", only what he says, and that by producing verbatim quotations and actual citations. It's not enough to claim condemnation by the Church — again, citations are needed.
"Barron also thinks Christ did not know he was the Messiah until he learned it later. A position condemned by the Church and it calls into question Christ's possession of the Beatific Vision. This is a clear heresy that Barron embraces."Delete
I have searched around for evidence of that, and all I found were ambiguous declarations and suspicions. For instance, that he had said that Jesus learned about who He was from Mary when she told Him the story of Israel, etc - declarations of the sort that could be rhetorical or intended merely to illuminate Jesus's humanity without asserting that he really did not know any of this information, etc. I have found no clear evidence of your claim. Prudence and charity would demand us not jump to conclusions about that, and indeed I believe it is far more likely that bishop Barron was just being rhetorical and not actually proclaiming his belief in a heresy. Geez.
Why so much interest and haste in declaring a bishop to be a heretic? Have you properly looked at all the evidence and all the issues in question to reach a really solid conclusion? Have you thought of the scandalous consequences of saying such things about a well-known bishop with a record of orthodoxy and good faith?
This is a horrifying habit that has sprung up among Catholics with self-declared traditionalist dispositions.
Why so much interest and haste in declaring a bishop to be a heretic? Have you properly looked at all the evidence and all the issues in question to reach a really solid conclusion? Have you thought of the scandalous consequences of saying such things about a well-known bishop with a record of orthodoxy and good faith?
This is a horrifying habit that has sprung up among Catholics with self-declared traditionalist dispositions.
I agree. Declaring someone a heretic in the past would have taken a time both to study the statements made the by the alleged heretic, but also to assess the person in other ways, find out plausible alternative explanations for the alleged heretical statements, and only later make a condemnation of heresy with regret as to how a bishop may have gone so astray.
It was a sensitive and careful process that needed to be done by the proper authorities.
While pointing out that someone is a heretic from statements that may seem to obviously contradict doctrine may sometimes have it's use and be good, it can also sometimes end up being a type of rash judgement.
Bishop Barron's beliefs concerning Hell in his own words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8zhnooySk4Delete
Thanks for Barron's video about the dogma of hell. I can testify that this is pretty much the understanding I hear in Eastern Orthodox circles too, by the likes of Kallistos Ware and David Bentley Hart.
Am i the only one for whom the video doesn't work?ReplyDelete
Callum, I think that the heretics in hell cannot get it either. Maybe if they had the benefits of the video they would not have been heretics, or in hell. However, one could instead posit that anyone who thinks the thought that they are not in hell are thereby not in hell, rendering realism about hell (or inhabitants of it) moot, whereas those who believe that they are in hell are there - in thought but not in any other sort of reality - thus making their hellish experience "ideal" in a wonderfully twisted sense of the word.Delete
OK, I'll stop. I got the video without a problem.
In the introduction when he says WLC and Barron are the two most influential Christian defenders today and Feser turns around;
" ah, excuse me? Have you even heard of my blog?!"
I thought of that too :DDelete
I gotta say, I love the metal detector analogy.ReplyDelete
I would've loved to hear Dr. Craig's thoughts to your objections to his philosophical arguments for the finitude of the past. Especially when he cited oddities about "actual infinites" in response to one question.
Perhaps that would've taken you into technical territory, but it would have been great to see Craig respond directly to your concerns.
Did you by any chance ask him in private conversation?
Thanks for engaging in such a great dialogue.
Gotta say, there is such a contrast between their two styles... You could say that their styles complement each other, I guess. I also wish the format allowed for more interaction.ReplyDelete
Also, very interesting that Dr. Craig seems to have no interest in inter-Christian debate. I really don't understand why.
He is of the Big Tent school: the big flabby tent school.Delete
To emphasize the point, I am kind of shocked, actually, at how disinterested he is about what separates us as Christians.ReplyDelete
That's not the right way to put it. He's not "disinterested" about what separates Christians. See his Defenders class where he goes into various different views about justification, atonement, Christology, and so forth. He surveys different views, but has no qualms about saying which one he ultimately agrees with.Delete
However, he is disinterested in *debating* with fellow Christians. This more has to do with the fact that he feels his calling is to contend for the faith with unbelievers or those of different faiths.
I have to agree. I really, really, dislike how comfortable Protestants can be about 'mere Christianity', as though there could be such a thing as "bare essentials" when it came to being a follower of Christ and his Church. No one, especially a philosopher, should be disinterested in chasing the truth all the way down, as it were, and then sharing it with as much joy and vigor as possible. A fortiori with regard to the Faith. Sure, debates aren't toools for conversion, but they do get conversations happening and minds ticking over.
I for one am baffled at the lack of challenge from both sides. Christian unity is surely a top priority thing. More Christians should be talking about it more often.
Cool - you moderated a debate between two non-Catholic heretics. Both of whom squirm at Young Earth Creationism, btw.ReplyDelete
I am sometimes bound for un-moderated debates with non-Catholic heretics.
Here I ended up blocking two.
To claim that denying YEC is a heresy *is* itself a heresy.Delete
And whilst defending YEC is not a heresy proper, it is still greatly problematic, not only because empirical observations overwhelmingly favour evolutionary theory, but also not least because it lays the Faith open to ridicule.
Fr. Barron is a catholic bishop and not heretical.Delete
If you think he is, than you do not have proper understanding of Catholic doctrine and what heretical means.
"To claim that denying YEC is a heresy *is* itself a heresy."Delete
According to what D E F I N I T I O N?
Trent on Patristic consensus?
"And whilst defending YEC is not a heresy proper, it is still greatly problematic,"
While being the position of all Church Fathers and Scholastics, as well as the obvious sense of the Bible?
"not only because empirical observations overwhelmingly favour evolutionary theory,"
What is the carbon 14 content of sth from uppermost and something from lowermost layer of Göbekli Tepe, Mr. Empiric smart guy? What kind of mutation is needed before we get cultivated wheat?
"but also not least because it lays the Faith open to ridicule."
You know the crucified man with a donkey head inscribed "Deus Christianorum" or even "Deus Iudaeorum"?
If exposing oneself to ridicule is "problematic" what are you doing pretending yourself Christian ... wait, since you are "Anonymous" in actual fact you aren't pretending so.
"Fr. Barron is a catholic bishop and not heretical."
Presuming good standing with Bergoglio means you are Catholic, I suppose, or do you have other arguments for his being orthodox?
I am not recalling all the details, but I found a little piece of mine where I had found some against him.
After looking, I found the context was, Robert Barron had been intimidated by Bill Maher - a man who takes "Father" Coyne and even Zeitgeist seriously.Delete
You are one confused individual.Delete
You are one cowardly one - intellectually because you prefer ad hominem over argument, and personally as you hide under anyonymity.Delete
I noted, by the way, you had no answer on my quizzing.Delete
"What is the carbon 14 content of sth from uppermost and something from lowermost layer of Göbekli Tepe, Mr. Empiric smart guy? What kind of mutation is needed before we get cultivated wheat?"
If you had said, "empirical evidence says roses have green petals" I might want to check you for Daltonism (green-red colour blindness, due to a mutation).
In fact you said "empirical observations overwhelmingly favour evolutionary theory". So, I wanted to check how much you know on Empirical evidence.
It's corresponding to positive for Daltonism.
Now, I can answer this.
Göbekli Tepe starting with 9600 BC or 11,600 BP - means, more or less, 24.58 % of present atmospheric and recent samples carbon 14 content. Ending 8600 BC or 10,600 BP. This is taken from a measure of 27.741 % of modern carbon 14 (or 27.741 pmc).
If the samples started out with 100 pmc, it takes 10,600 years before they reach 27.741 pmc, because in 10,600 years they reduce to 27.741 % of original content.
It takes similarily 11,600 years before they reach 24.58 % of original carbon 14 content.
Now, if the original content was 42.42 pmc (I'm taking the older date), how many years would it take before it reaches 24.58 pmc?
42.42 * x = 24.58
x = 24.58 / 42.42
x = 0,5794436586515794
x = 57.944 %
If this had been for a sample starting out with 100 pmc, we would have had 57.944 pmc, which is the test value for 4500 years.
You can do similar exercises with a starting point at 47 - 48 pmc for the younger date:
47.5 * y = 27.741
y = 27.741 / 47.5
y = 0,5840210526315789
y = 58.402 %
Insert this as pmc value, since the calculator takes 100 pmc as original value, you get 4450 years.
And here is where I go to for Empiric Evidence about carbon 14 related to dates:
Carbon 14 Dating Calculator
Now, what mutation is needed before you et cultivated wheat? One which is to wheat, like Daltonism to man, but worse.
In wild wheat, each grain is dropping from the sheaf as it matures. A good bargain for the plant, in self sowing, but a nightmare for a farmer.
In a certain mutation, wheat looses this capacity. Mature grains stay on the sheaf - a good bargain for the farmer, but an extinction nightmare for the plant. Dropping a whole sheaf is not a good sowing economy. Especially as it won't drop before it rots, which means the grain is already spoiled and won't grow.
This mutation can be traced back to Göbekli Tepe, as I found out the other day. This video shows a BBC clip on that matter.
So, between Cain and Abel, who would have been sacrificing wheat?Delete
Abel, since the sheep or goat or ancestral-to-both could have been grazing whild wheat, not having concerns about how harvestable it is to a farmer.
Cain must have sacrificed non-wheat plant material, so "fruit of the earth" must refer to sth else than wheat. My hunch is, potatoes.
Other non-answer from Anonymous:Delete
"According to what D E F I N I T I O N? Trent on Patristic consensus?"
I mean, when we deal with heresy, we deal with a crime in the Church Law. Nulla Poena Sine Lege. So, normally, there is no heresy without a definition excluding it from orthodoxy.
Well, Hans, you’ve got so many things wrong right there that Anon doesn’t even know where to start... and neither do I.Delete
This guy sounds almost like one of those delusional sedevacantists who think they have the whole Church Tradition on their side against all existing bishops and theologians for decades and decades, and it's up to them as inquisitors to keep the faith alive (among few individuals).Delete
Hopefully he's not; just saying that the way he acts kinda makes it seem like it.
As for YEC, any honest and serious interpretation of Humani Generis recognizes that Old Earth, and even standard evolutionary theory is open to Catholics -- with one caveat, which is the issue of our supernatural soul created immediately by God, and monogenism. Besides that, HG pretty much explicitly allows for the possibility of a natural explanation of our bodies as was being developed at the time (contra YEC), while simultaneously advising caution and saying that the natural explanation at the time had not been proven. In other words, it does not condemn it, rather it leaves it as an open possibility. It is absurd to suggest denial of YEC is a heresy.
And that's even just taking HG into consideration, without mentioning what subsequent popes have said on the subject. But seeing that our friendly commenter has an ax to grind and no qualms or fear of scandal or imprudence in calling a bishop of the Church a heretic, we can't expect much.
It's kinda funny that in this day and age he believes the earth is like 6000 years old, though.
So, just to clarify: Catholics are free to believe either in YEC or Old Earth creationism and evolution (provided they accept the special creation of the soul and monogenism, Ed himself has written on these topics in the past anyway). There is no heresy in either view.Delete
"Well, Hans, you’ve got so many things wrong right there that Anon doesn’t even know where to start... and neither do I."Delete
Well, that is a non-starter.
"This guy sounds almost like one of those delusional sedevacantists who think they have the whole Church Tradition on their side ..."
Delusional sounds a bit like how Pharisees did their social interactions.
I do think I have the Church Tradition on my side, and would be willing to argue it in detail if you have any real objections.
"against all existing bishops and theologians for decades and decades, and it's up to them as inquisitors to keep the faith alive (among few individuals)."
You are aware your hierarchy is not considering the Sede bishop lines as all invalid, I hope?
Therefore, your point of "all existing bishops" is very moot.
Perhaps even in the Novus Ordo establishment, you are judging too exclusively from US Episcopal conference, and ignoring men like Laun (an Austrian placed in Kazakhstan). I don't know what he would say, but I would like to hear.
"As for YEC, any honest and serious interpretation of Humani Generis recognizes that Old Earth, and even standard evolutionary theory is open to Catholics"Delete
Except the document (in the relevant paragraphs) doesn't say one word about what we are free to believe positively. It says negatively we are NOT free to believe Adam's soul evolved, which I don't think is a definition, since I think it is repeating a definition (Syllabus or Vatican Council of 1869-70).
Except that the document is NOT a definition. Therefore cannot give us any rights we didn't have. It pretends to do so on a basis of "social experiment".
What it says on this point is basically "let the geeks fight it out, with one proviso, and let everyone submit to the decision of the Church".
Note very well, he is not saying "future decision of the Church". He just says "decision of the Church". He is very aware the debate could finally prove what I contend that the relevant decision is by Trent and as per consensus of Church Fathers foreclosing all licitness of Evolutionary or Old Earth belief.
The document is as such is not a decision, even if you treat it like that, it is a deliberate non-decision. A "who am I to judge".
"Besides that, HG pretty much explicitly allows for the possibility of a natural explanation of our bodies as was being developed at the time (contra YEC)"
Allows for it being defended in debate. No explicit allowal for it being believed.
"while simultaneously advising caution and saying that the natural explanation at the time had not been proven."Delete
It had not and has not been proven as even a natural one.
Its "advice of caution" as you put it is quasi a draconic rule of "don't touch it if you ain't no geek".
As in fact I am a geek, experse sacrae scripturae et naturalium scientiarum, though not an expert in the vernacular sense, my debate is therefore explicitly allowed by the document.
And as both geekitudes were required for the debate, and it is a debate for or against evolution, this very much allows for a debater also saying denial of YEC is heretical. That is clearly within the freedoms actually outlined by that document. By that non-judgement.
And you treat it as a judgement forbidding a debater on the Biblical side of the issue and Creationist side of the divide to appeal to Trent and Church Fathers and to Mark 10:6 (a reference which even a heretic like Kent Hovind could spot, which at least technically, and on many points outside the Creationist issue he is).
"It is absurd to suggest denial of YEC is a heresy."
"HG" - it is a nick name for me too - says you are free to try to prove that from either Bible or Sciences. It does not say you are free to presume it from the document.
Its reception is a prototype for Montini's dispensation allowing hand communion and then episcopate after episcopate starts treating it as forbidding Communion given in the Mouth.
Except, the turns around "HG" are even more absurd, since it does not explicitly say one is allowed to believe Evolution and Old Age.
"And that's even just taking HG into consideration, without mentioning what subsequent popes have said on the subject."Delete
As said, "HG" has not defined your point for you. Clear Antipopes from Roncalli to Bergoglio have also not done it, and their opinion is more likely to prove them Apostates than your being Orthodox. But their statements have been statements of opinion, not formal judgements.
They have well known that a formal judgement in your sense (as opposed to appealing to Pacelli or possibly Pius XII) would be about as arousing as Amoris Laetitia proved to be.
"But seeing that our friendly commenter has an ax to grind and no qualms or fear of scandal or imprudence in calling a bishop of the Church a heretic, we can't expect much."
I do have an axe to grind, whether I am friendly or you are generous in irony.
I do however not consider me as calling a bishop of the Church any such thing, since I do not consider Robert Barron as a bishop of the Church.
The standing of Nestorius on saying for the first time on Constantinople "let's not call Her Theotokos, just Christotokos" was better than Robert Barron. He was in succession of Patriarchs sharing same liturgy, in Communion with a Pope of Rome not put in any kind of doubt by any Catholic then. Nevertheless, a layman shouted heretic, and a Council agreed with the layman.
"It's kinda funny that in this day and age he believes the earth is like 6000 years old, though."
I am reminded of how C. S. Lewis was one day told "you aren't in broad daylight in the 20th C. going to introduce the Devil with horns and horse hoofs are you?"
Hooves, I suppose.Delete
As C. S. Lewis could deny believing the horns and horse hoovs, I deny believing 6000 years old as well as denying to believe it 5778 years old. I am neither a Protestant nor a Jew.
If we speak of like 7200 or 7500 years old (Roman / Byzantine martyrologies as used by the Church - the "unknown ages stuff" from 1994 is NOT a valid Roman liturgy), now we are talking.
And, as he could remark that the Devil existing is precisely equally likely in the 20th C and in broad daylight, so, I also, am denouncing an attempt of appeal to "chronological snobbery".
Pius XII, if you prefer to call him that, was not involving naive belief in superiority of 20th C over every preceding one, at least in science and philoosphy of science as an explicited prerequisite for the debate he suggested that geeks should fight out.
"Catholics are free to believe either in YEC or Old Earth creationism and evolution"
IF "HG" is even a document of the Church Catholic geeks are free to debate either.
"There is no heresy in either view."
That "HG" was not remotely pretending to judge on.
"provided they accept the special creation of the soul and monogenism"
Well, already a problem of Old Earth.
We must also accept that the monogenism comes from Adam.
So, was Göbekli Tepe built by pre-Adamites on your view? Were soulless higher primates doing that?
If so, your are seriously embarrassing monogenism.
Or was Adam prior to 9600 BC? If so, you must either contradict the dating methods (which are your reason for Old Age) or go one further against the Bible and say the genealogies are full of large holes.
Or was Adam prior to 9600 BC? = prior to Göbekli Tepe which is dated to 9600 BC (at its start)?Delete
We're used to have an atheist troll come by once in a while. But this time we're dealing here with a sedevacantist troll! Well, that's a new one!Delete
OK, me being a sede troll (technically incorrect, since I don't have either hairyness or strength of Grendel - and since supporting Pope Michael is something other than Sede proper) is all you can say in defense of WLC and Robber Baron of Theology both squirming at YEC and the latter even caving in to Bill Maher on that account?Delete
Short on arguments?
[I think h in Short in previous try was deleted rather than forgotten.]
Oh, so you’re a schismatic then...Delete
But you know that’s still anathema, don’t you?
Who's anathema depends on who's schismatic.Delete
If you are heretics, you are also directly schismatics.
I'd say, if you accept Bergoglio's view on what is required for valid marriage, you are a heretic.
So do some you would not otherwise call even schismatics, like Bishop Laun.
The Barron-Craig debate, is it also on youtube?ReplyDelete
I agree that right now secularism is the common enemy of Catholics and Protestants (and of the Eastern Orthodox, etc.) and that we should all get together in fighting it with all our forces.ReplyDelete
But, at the end of the day, the truth is that this very secularism that dominates Western culture today is ultimately a result of the Reformation. I recommend Brad S. Gregory’s excellent The Unintended Reformation: https://www.amazon.com/Unintended-Reformation-Religious-Revolution-Secularized/dp/0674088050
As much as I admire bishop Barron, I must admit some sympathy with WLC’s perplexity at Barron’s emphasis on beauty as an apologetic strategy. Beauty certainly moves the imagination and emotions and may be the springboard for penetrating intellectual questions, but by itself it seems inadequate as a response to the questions and challenges presented by the “nones”.ReplyDelete
Speaking for myself, while I found Barron’s “Catholicism” series to be both beautiful and in some ways moving, I am confident that, as an apologetic effort, it would have had little purchase on my former agnostic self.
The worst sinners may or may not be in hell. It depends on whether they have sincerely repented before their deaths.ReplyDelete
We know some didn't.Delete
Baruch 3: There were the giants, those renowned men that were from the beginning, of great stature, expert in war.  The Lord chose not them, neither did they find the way of knowledge: therefore did they perish.  And because they had not wisdom, they perished through their folly.
This means Hell (as we understand it, not simply Sheol) is not empty.
And yes, these giants were men, since descending, like Grendel according to the poet, from Adam ("Caines cynne").
Not fallen angels.
When I tell Christians that I believe that it is it is wrong and foolish to believe any truth claim “by faith”, they complain. “You obviously don’t understand the word ‘faith’. We all use faith in many areas of our lives.”ReplyDelete
A typical evangelical Christian’s definition of faith: Faith is trust based on past performance. It is faith in a person, not so much the claims about that person. It is based on personal knowledge of that person gained by personal experience.
Skeptic: But don’t you believe that faith is a gift from God as the Apostle Paul claims in his Epistle to the Ephesians?
Christian: Yes. The faith that leads us to personally grasp hold of the promises God made to us in Christ Jesus is something that is given to us.
Skeptic: So if we combine these two statements we have this: Faith is trust based on personal knowledge about someone (or some thing); a personal knowledge that is given to us as a gift from God.
Isn’t this statement saying that it is impossible to believe in Jesus as one’s god unless Jesus has gifted you the knowledge (about him) to believe? If that is true, what is the point of Christian apologetics? If only God can flip the switch in the human heart (brain) to believe, why do Christian apologists go to such lengths to debate evidence in an effort to convert skeptical non-believers? And why do Christian apologists accuse skeptics of being biased against “good” evidence, when what they really believe is that no amount of good evidence will ever convince the skeptic to believe in Jesus as his or her Savior? If faith is truly a gift from God, debating evidence is pointless.
So why do Christian apologists persist in doing it?
If faith is truly a gift from God, debating evidence is pointless.Delete
This is merely muddled and confused, in multiple ways.
(1) It fails to recognize that evidence has multiple functions in reasoning, not only to establish that something is true, but also to show that something is consistent with rational principles, that objections to something are unfounded or problematic, that different fields have certain analogies, and so forth.
(2) It fails to recognize that debate, broadly considered, has multiple functions, not just leading to belief (in fact, debate is a notoriously poor means if your end is specifically causing people to believe something); for instance, debate is very useful for publicization, clarification, addressing common misconceptions, opposing certain kinds of confusions.
(3) It fails to recognize that receiving gifts often requires prior conditions, such as openness to receiving the gift in the first place, or a willingness to do certain things that the gift presupposes. This is a general feature of gifts. Nor is it difficult to find Christian apologists who take their apologetic work to be entirely preparatory, so there's not much excuse for ignoring this feature in context.
In short, your argument betrays an artificially limited and very narrow view of how reason and evidence works, one that is obviously not shared by Christian apologists in general.
"one should be very much moved to pause and consider that perhaps this indicates" is an extreme weakening of the premise; whereas your conclusion, "either refutes Christianity or considerably reduces its plausibility", is vastly stronger than such a weakening would be. I suppose you could be ironic; but then the strong premise needs justification, particularly since both the Catholic and the Orthodox Church have insisted that cultivating a cultural upbringing is a necessary part of the Church's mission for well over a thousand years now, so one would need an explanation of why it's a problem for them that, in fact, there is a cultural upbringing component to Christianity, as they have been saying.Delete
Also, if you choose the third response, then even if you don't think being raised in a certain culture of a certain country tends to determine your religious belief, but instead that you have a choice and simply exercise your free-will in degenerating with the rest of your culture beyond salvation, you have to at least admit that being raised in such a culture makes you vastly more likely to morally degenerate beyond salvation--in which case, that means God actually chooses to allow certain people to grow up in cultures that make them less likely to be saved. But if that is so, then it would seem to contradict the Biblical claim that God "desires all people to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4).ReplyDelete
Unless, of course, God doesn't equally desire all people to choose to be saved, but I think I'd be hard-pressed to find a Christian comfortable with affirming that.Delete
Check out Molina on that one.Delete
How do Christians respond to the argument against Christianity from the demographics of religious belief? It runs, in my formulation, as follows:ReplyDelete
Religious belief does, to an enormous extent, tend to reflect the beliefs of one's culture and upbringing. Billions of Indians, Chinese, Russians and so on do not believe in Christianity, and citizens of these countries just generally don't.
Given these tendencies, one should be very much moved to pause and consider that perhaps this indicates it is more likely that one's cultural upbringing is what determines their religious beliefs rather than their rejection of "the Holy Spirit's universal call/witness/courtship of the unbeliever".
I would expect there to be a great deal more of thoroughgoing Christian belief occurring more-or-less equally throughout various countries if the latter were the case.
I know of three responses to this objection:
first, it might be said that really this disparity doesn't exist except superficially, since a more-or-less equal number of people meet the qualifications for salvation even if their "belief" doesn't manifest the same theologically-developed expression as Christians in other regions who had more evangelistic contact.
The problem with this response, according to WLC, is that the New Testament definitively states that pretty much no one will have the kind of theologically-ignorant-but-still-sufficient-for-salvation-"Christian"-belief I described.
The second answer, this one given by Dr. Craig, is that God predetermined that those who are raised in a more Christian culture are the ones who He foreknew would choose Christianity, and those who aren't raised in a Christian culture are placed there because God foreknew they wouldn't choose Christianity even if given the evangelistic contact and Christian culture that is so typical of Christian belief.
But this is just shamelessly, preposterously ad-hoc to such a ridiculous extent that I find it hard to believe a man so deeply intelligent & philosophically sophisticated as Dr. Craig would propose it (do I have him wrong?).
The third response is something like this: people from non-Christian cultures who don't subscribe to Christianity are this way because their cultures are degenerate and they imbibed this degeneracy, making them incapable of salvation. But this seems to imply that one's culture of birth--which he has no say in being raised in--determines that he will be degenerate and consequently unsaved. A Christian born in the Bible belt, in this case, would have great cause to shout in relief, "I sure am glad I wasn't born in India, since if I were I'd be rendered morally incapable by my debase culture of accepting or desiring salvation. Whew!" But isn't that really unfair and insufficient to answer the objection?
I think this argument, if right, either refutes Christianity or considerably reduces its plausibility.
(had to repost this because blogspot's comment system is stupid)
1- First of all, the case for Christianity must always be assessed in its totality. So objections should also be considered in light of positive arguments for Christianity -- the personal character of God and religious experience; plausibility of God seeking a loving relationship with us through the Incarnation, suffering alongside us; the historical evidence for the Resurrection; miracles and extraordinary events in the lives of the saints, etc. Even if one finds no good response for a given objection, still on the whole the case for Christianity may be stronger.Delete
2- Is the implausibility related to the idea that these people will be condemned? Because you didn't make it clear in your post. If so, then I think it's pretty much a non-argument; what people should keep in mind is that God's judgment is always completely and perfectly just, and will take into account absolutely every variable at play in our lives. With regards to the first response, I strongly disagree with William Lane Craig, and there have been many theologians who held that a great many people are saved by ignorance (for example) and don't see any contradiction in that with the New Testament. Heck, there are theologians who think the New Testament supports universal salvation (I don't think it does, but it only goes on to show that there are different interpretations and passages). The first response is to me is a view I hold and find extremely plausible, and also sits well with Rahner's idea of the "anonymous Christian".
That being said, I don't think you give enough credit to Craig's response in the second one. It could seem a little ad hoc, but surely God's knowledge of everything and Providence could make the idea a little more palatable. Especially if one accepts molinism. So I think it would do the job, especially if one thinks there are independent reasons for christianity to be true. That being said, I accept the first response.
The third one I find really implausible.
I would say several things: 1) To evaluate the truth or falsity of a belief based upon how it arose would be the genetic fallacy ( to see why this argument is fallacious, imagine a parallel argument: Bob believes in the big bang, he was born in 20th century America. If he were born in ancient Greece he would believe that the universe arose from the struggles of the gods.) 2) We could try to save this objection by reformulating it as follows. A) Christianity claims that God is just. B) Christianity holds that if people in a certain culture haven’t heard of Christ, they are damned for that reason. C) But it is unjust to say that people are damned just because they haven’t heard of Christianity. D) Therefore, If Christianity is true, then God is not just. E) But that is a contradiction, therefore F) Christianity isn’t true. But I see no good reason to believe B, since in fact large branches of Christianity such as Roman Catholicism do not believe this. And though I’m inclined to accept C, I do not have a good counter argument to Craig’s second point that you raised above and, in fact, think his Molinism to be quite justified.Delete
You have my argument very wrong. It wasn't a genetic inference from the origin of religious belief to its falsehood.
Rather, it is an argument against the Christian claims that 1) God is all loving, 2) He desires all be saved, and 3) the Holy Spirit universally "courts" everyone to offer all humans equal means of salvation, and it adduces the fact of geographically disproportionate Christian belief to challenge these claims.
In the argument I'm saying that if it is true that the Holy Spirit is offering Himself to everyone by "calling/courting/witnessing" to all of humanity equally, then it would seem to be highly likely that we would observe a more-or-less equal representation of Christian belief across the world.
Instead, what we see is that Christian belief is confined to regions with Christian cultures and significant evangelistic contact.
Thanks for your response!
"Is the implausibility related to the idea that these people will be condemned?"Delete
In a way, yes. The argument attempts to show that at least one of the following two Christian doctrines are false or implausible and Christianity is false or implausible by extension: 1) God is all-loving, 2) God desires that all be saved equally and equally "courts/witnesses/calls" to all humans to supply equal and universal means of salvation, and it adduces the fact of geographically disproportionate Christian belief to challenge these claims.
In the argument I'm saying that if it is true that the Holy Spirit is offering Himself to everyone by "calling/courting/witnessing" to all of humanity equally, then it would seem to be highly likely that we would observe a more-or-less equal representation of Christian belief across the world.
Instead, what we see is that Christian belief is confined to regions with more Christian cultures and significant evangelistic contact, which strongly confirms the alternative hypothesis: that Christianity tends to be purely imbibed from one's culture rather than derived from the supernatural witness of the Holy Spirit.
For the argument to work, obviously, I have to show how each of the Christian-friendly explanations for the global disproportionate representation of Christian belief don't work. The first answer I described is, I think, the most plausible, but I am curious as to how you would secure it against William Lane Craig's (and other theologians') hermeneutical arguments against it.
But there's another problem with the first answer that doesn't concern its hermeneutical justification, but rather the fact that it opens itself up to a sociological study which I suspect would strongly disconfirm it. Let me explain:
If it's true there are so great a number--indeed, almost equal in percentage to those in the West--of Christians in the Middle-East and India exist, only in the "anonymous/theologically-clueless-but-still-sufficient-for-salvation" sense (whereby they don't know the name of Jesus, and practically nothing of Christian theology but nevertheless possess an unarticulated sense of God, His offer of salvation, and the human's sinful condition), then shouldn't we see millions of Indians rejecting idolatry and refusing anything that smacks of polytheism?
Why would almost all Muslims in the Middle East, for example, continue praying to Allah and deeply believing in the ruthlessness and bloodthirstiness of God, and His hatred of the unbeliever, if it really is the case that "anonymously" and "quietly" they're actually Christians who just look like Muslims? Surely if one had the Christian God revealed to Him to some extent -- however small -- he would reject as untrue conceptions of God so entirely antithetical to the Christian conception.
"there have been many theologians who held that a great many people are saved by ignorance (for example) and don't see any contradiction in that with the New Testament."
But this just creates the same problem in reverse! If one is saved by his ignorance, then one is made drastically less likely to be saved if he is not allowed this same kind of ignorance. But if it is true that God wants all men to be saved equally, then why would He make some 100% likely to be saved and others far, far less likely by virtue of depriving them of an ignorance of Christianity!
Yes, it appears that I did misconstrue your argument. I didn’t catch that part about the geographic distribution of believers. Nonetheless, I think that the point that I made about salvation being available to people even though they haven’t heard of and believed in Christ explicitly is a valid answer. As long as God gives each man enough grace to be saved, as indeed Catholic Christianity says that he does, then the relative geographic distribution of Christians doesn’t seem to me to be a problem.Delete
Momified, The use of the word "determined" in your comment is equivocal.Delete
In one sense, "determined" can mean as it does in "determined outcomes" where the cause definitely and without fail produces the effect directed at: B follows A necessarily. Catholics (at least those who are properly educated) do not claim, and have not claimed, that all those who have not heard of the Gospel are damned. What "determines" their punishment, if they are damned, is their sins, which are voluntary.
The historical evidence shows that the religion that people accept is NOT "determined", in that sense, by their culture or their upbringing. Every person who rejected the faith of their fathers for a new faith shows that they can depart from their cultural background by free will. Every people who became Christian did so because of those who stopped believing their old religion (or non-religion) and chose to accept Christianity.
Your premise is faulty.
That billions have not yet converted shows that they have not been shown the truth with sufficient support, or that they have willed to turn their back on the truth. Neither one of those options is some kind of evidentiary problem for Christianity: most of the world didn't believe in Christianity in 300 AD, nor in 600 AD, nor in 1000 AD...So what? More workers for the vineyard are needed.
I don't see any problem at all. Culture and the nature of religious affiliation and ritual of course plays a role in how there isn't the same proportion of Christians in every region of the world: God calls all to himself, but not all are able to respond perfectly or even adequately to such a calling because they don't have the means to do so: the Church is not particularly present where they live; their culture has misrepresentations of Christianity; they cannot understand or make sense of it with their background knowledge; etc. How would they be able to perfectly interpret a calling of the Holy Spirit if they don't have the theological apparatus? To give a radical example, what would a native american in the 1100s do with a calling towards a religion he never even heard of and doesn't even have access to? Yet nevertheless the call, a religious experience, or something of the sort can still fulfill a purpose to, for instance, bring someone closer to certain virtues (and in the process closer to God). Hence Aquinas discusses the possibility of miracles in other religions, and gives as an example purported miracles involving vestal virgins in ancient Roman religion as a way of calling people to virtues of chastity, humility, etc. But if someone lives in a place in which Christianity is not well understood or influent, then she may not be able to accurately discern whatever signs as explicit callings for Jesus Christ, the Church, and so on. Man is *also* a product of his own environment and relies on culture (and public knowledge and custom) to interpret and understand his experiences.Delete
Thus, the current situation of the world is coherent with the faith. And would also be expected by it, actually. Jesus first manifested Himself fully to His Apostles, and it was then up to the Apostles to spread the faith and doctrine around the world; where they managed to convert a significant amount of people (e.g. Rome) they were then able to influence the culture better, and so people in these regions had more opportunity to be evangelized and also to have the appropriate cultural and theological exegetical tools with which to discern their own religious experiences or callings. It is unsurprising that the proportion of Christians is not equal in every part of the world, therefore.
We then reach the second issue which is the main one. Would this mean, therefore, that some of these people can be condemned because they happened to have been born in "the wrong culture"? No. As I said, there should never be any kind of worry regarding the fairness of God's judgment. By definition, God's judgment will be perfectly just, and He will take every variable -- even the smallest ones, the ones we can't even fathom -- in our lives into account when He judges our soul. Recall from Jesus's parable that God will expect more out of those to whom He has given more. Those who truly should know better -- including cultural and social factors, but only God really knows for sure who these people are, down to the utmost individual details and variables -- will be judged accordingly...
Again, I just briefly mentioned problems with Craig's view and the fact that there are many theologians who disagree with him. Historically there have always been many theologians who believed that a great number of people could be saved by ignorance, by the witness of their conscience, etc etc. Pope Benedict XVI is a recent example; in his encyclical Spes Salve, if I remember correctly, he mentions how most average, decent people will probably be saved after experiencing purgatory.Delete
You also seem to be taking the "anonymous Christian" idea by Rahner in a way too explicit fashion. An "anonymous Christian" hindu probably doesn't see polytheism as idolatry, rather he thinks it's a way of connecting with the divine in its many different manifestations, and he isn't aware of the problems with it. The anonymous Christian atheist may be convinced what he calls "God" does not exist, but in a sense he may still honestly seek for the truth and the Good -- the Summum Bonum that Christians would identify with God. It is another thing for him to commit murder, for instance, which would be a very clear violation of the natural law inscribed in our conscience and also recognized by lucid and sane people in society (regardless of religion).
Finally, "if one is saved by his ignorance, then one is made drastically less likely to be saved if he is not allowed this same kind of ignorance". Not really. As stated, God's judgment will be perfectly fair and take everything into consideration. Your worry would amount to "so God's perfect judgment may not be fair!", well, that is nonsense since God's judgment by definition will be perfect and surely cover all such worries - every variable will be taken into consideration, as stated. We should still evangelize because of love of truth, the virtues involved, and also because it's probably how lots of people are saved anyway, as ordained by the Divine Providence. But certainly there can be no worry about someone going to heaven (or hell) simply because of luck or bad luck; God's omniscience and perfect justice is well capable of taking everything into consideration.
It isn't that important to the discussion, but those look like caricatures of Islam and Hinduism.Delete
" Neither one of those options is some kind of evidentiary problem for Christianity: most of the world didn't believe in Christianity in 300 AD, nor in 600 AD, nor in 1000 AD...So what."Delete
But doesn't this capture the central point of his argument: these people are damned because they didn't become Christians, but most had never heard the gospel.
The Reformed view (which I don't necessarily endorse, but which I think does answer the question) would be that history and contingent facts are themselves all part of God's plan, and the means by which He achieves His end. This is perhaps similar to your second suggested retort, but it's anything but ad hoc: this is a theme at the center of most reformed reasoning.Delete
Christian belief is confined to regions with Christian culturesDelete
That seems a bit circular. Where does a culture come from, but from a cult? So regions like the Near East, which were thoroughly Christian, vs. Western Europe, which was very much pagan, were so for geo-cultural regions? Astonishing then, that the former is now muslim and the latter Christian. How did China become Buddhist, or India cease to be Buddhist if the main determinant were how one was raised in his culture?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that other religions have glimpses and partial truths, so it's not as if they had been left entirely adrift.
Why would almost all Muslims in the Middle East, for example, continue praying to Allah and deeply believing in the ruthlessness and bloodthirstiness of God...Delete
So, you don't know much about islam, either.
I was a bit let down with Craig's performance.ReplyDelete
His responses seemed like something in an introductory to apologetics book.
I like Craig for the most part.... but he felt out of place here. Bishop Barron's comments seemed intriguing and profound; Craig felt like he was addressing high schoolers on how to throw out "got'cha" apologetics.
I think it would have been interesting for Lane to slightly modify Barron's "Why aren't you Catholic" question, and talk about what the status of arguments from nature are for Protestants, and how that might differ from the way Catholics see themReplyDelete
Can't seem to view the video without logging into Facebook.ReplyDelete
In general, I would highly recommend not using Facebook as a platform for publishing material. It forces people to use a walled garden platform that is socially and individually damaging and exploitative.
If you can't watch it, replace the "www" in the link with "m".Delete
I think I see how the argument I gave doesn't work, at least if we favor something like Mollinism and realize that in oder for God to create the particular story He wants and fulfill His purposes for creation it's not unlikely He'd have many times at which it'd be necessary to group those He foreknows won't accept salvation together.ReplyDelete
The "anonymous Christian" idea does trouble me a bit, though, since it sounds wildly unbiblical to say an atheist or someone who explicitly denies the Divinity of Christ (i.e. a Muslim, Hindu, etc) or example, could be saved--but perhaps their denial is simply on the basis of an ignorance of His Divinity?
I think your analysis of the anonymous Christian is really lacking in subtlety. Jesus is God, is Love, is the Logos, the Truth. When someone "denies Jesus's divinity" out of an utmost sincerity in the search for truth, or due to gross misrepresentations (for instance, wrongheaded arguments in Islam that a man could not be God etc), are they really rejecting Jesus? If an atheist sincerely fails to understand Christianity but still tries to obey his conscience and the natural moral law, can he be said to have rejected God? The main point here, I would argue, is that God's judgment CANNOT be unfair or unbalanced. God's judgment CANNOT fail to take every variable into consideration. This is something that follows through reason but also through much of traditional Christian -- especially Catholic -- theology. Baptism of Desire has been a staple in catholic theology for many, many centuries. Invincible ignorance too. The "anonymous Christian", I would say, is just a clarification or development of the fact that God cannot condemn someone unjustly; although some may on the surface appear to not be Christians (a hindu, a muslim, an atheist) deep down they may be Christian in essence and in the pursuit of God, and qualify for a baptism of desire, or invincible ignorance. It's one way to look at the matter which I think is very coherent with the Bible, and certainly many theologians have always thought so as I mentioned.Delete
But the main fact is that in Christianity, God's judgment cannot be unfair or fail to account for every variable. Worry about that would be nonsensical, however the explanation turns out to be.
But I am still not satisfied with a related Christian doctrine: why would God create people He foreknows will not choose His salvation but instead will be condemned to Hell forever? Wouldn't it be more merciful for them to have never been made to exist at all?ReplyDelete
After all, the Bible claims, "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." Mat 26:24. In other words, the Bible completely agrees that it is better for a person to never have existed than to exist but choose eternal Hellfire.
I want Christianity to be true and I do find most of Craig's and Feser's positive apologetics actually quite convincing but there are still a few theological hang-ups I'm not sure I'll ever get past. I want to thank you all for answering my previous objection, though, it helped.
Certainly read the more about these topics. WLC is a good shout for the molinist view. Hopefully someone can provide examples for a Thomistic view.Delete
I hope you find intellectual peace as Craig said of himself in regard to Platonism.
Thx, I'll look further into it.Delete
Momified, the view you are espousing is a common mistake about hell. If I remember correctly, Saint Augustine rejected it, and thomists should also, since being is good. I think you should read the following blogpost by Alexander Pruss:Delete
It also talks about your quoted passage.
In sum, I don't think it is better to not exist than to be in hell, even if hell is horrible. And I think both Augustine and Aquinas would agree. This is the gist of this response. And the biblical passage in question does not mean that it is better to not exist than to be condemned; certainly not if taken literally, but also not if we consider that "better" could be translated from the greek as "nobler", and what Jesus actually meant with that saying.Delete
So I believe it is always better for a sinner to at least have existence, and also to have had freedom and his own opportunities. And I think this follows from the fact that being is good. Hell, as bad as it is, is not worse than "non-existence".
Also alternatively one could take Hans Urs von Balthasar's view that in the end everyone ends up being contingently saved. So God ends up not creating anyone he foresaw would end up in hell. For this, one would have to read Balthasar's book on the subject.Delete
I myself do not hold Balthasar's position, however, as I believe at least some people went to hell. I instead reject what Pruss calls the "horrific thesis" of hell which would make it better to not exist than to exist in hell. But just pointing out as an alternative.
And again, consider the whole issue in its totality; the positive evidence for the truth of Christianity should not be ignored, and I don't think it is less persuasive than very specific confused doubts in complex theological issues. The plausibility of God sharing life with us and suffering with us in the flesh; the historical evidence for the Resurrection; religious experience, especially the notable christian mystics and saints; the extraordinary lives of the saints, etc.
All this trumps in plausibility whatever worries one might have, which are to be appropriately dealt with by trained theologians.
And I think this follows from the fact that being is good. Hell, as bad as it is, is not worse than "non-existence".
While I agree with you there, I think that what also needs to be said is that there are views of Hell out there that do not contain torture or pain and may even be considered "merciful" on some readings.
One such particular view of Hell is that Hell is simply a state of shame, brought about by a rejection of God's offer of salvation and the natural result of having one's sins be exposed in front of God after death, as well as it being the natural result of sin proper without having to have a penalty imposed from the outside (though it is Catholic doctrine that Hell is in fact a punishment/declaration by God.)
The punishment would then be proportional to the sins one commited in this life, so we could imagine Hitler being more ashamed than someone else who doesn't have the deaths of millions of people on his hands.
Some even describe this view as "Neither joy nor sorrow, but simply the shame of being excluded from the kingdom of God.", which would make a lot of the problems people have with Hell vanish.
It certainly wouldn't be a good state to be in, since being ashamed generally is not, but it wouldn't be the painful version either.
What's particularly noteworthy about this view of Hell is that one could have a honest, good and upright atheist end up in it, without it causing much protestation either.
The imagined atheist would simply feel shame for all of the sins he commited, which most likely wouldn't be really that huge, and such an idea could easily be accepted with enough furnishing so that it doesn't even cause one to feel it unjust or terrible a thing either.
It is probably the only view of Hell that can make regular people understand it and accept it and know how it is at least in principle completely just, without even needing a Beatific Vision in order to understand the justice of it or anything.
Another possible advantage of this view of Hell (which the more painful versions may also sometimes share) is that the punishment of shame is proportional not only to the amount and degree of sin one has commited (both venial and mortal) but also to the amount of good one has done in one's life (which may decrease the shame) and suffering one has experienced (which also may lessen the shame).
And, at least as far as I know, it is compatible with Catholic teaching.
But I am still not satisfied with a related Christian doctrine: why would God create people He foreknows will not choose His salvation but instead will be condemned to Hell forever? Wouldn't it be more merciful for them to have never been made to exist at all?
Here's some food for thought:
One way to see this differently, is to see that maybe, humans, as creatures made in the image of God and capable of goodness and love and union with God, are such an indispensable and amazing good, that it would be better for them to exist, even if some of them end up being damned, than for them not to exist.
Humans comprise such a great good, that creating them in spite of the possibility of damnation is simply worth it.
"But I am still not satisfied with a related Christian doctrine: why would God create people He foreknows will not choose His salvation but instead will be condemned to Hell forever? Wouldn't it be more merciful for them to have never been made to exist at all?"Delete
Two points: One is that in some certain ways, depending on exactly how you are framing this question, God is under no obligation to produce any particular world, and, in other ways of framing this question, it can lead to an absurdity for him to create the best possible world (Feser explains why in his Five Proofs book). And second, you seem to be assuming that you can understand why God would create a particular world. One point that is made is that some goods cannot be brought about without some evils. For instance, you can't show compassion if there is no one who suffers or be merciful if no one commits an injustice. Of course that is different to your point, but the point I am making is that God can have reasons for doing things that we may or may not be able to understand.
To worry about that becomes a bit trivial, considering you can determine Gods existence and Goodness on completely separate, and I would say more effective, grounds (such as by the arguments in the Five Proofs...)
It would be interesting to read Bishop Barron's symposium paper on divine simplicity, i.e., the one Ed mentioned in his original post above. Does anyone know if the Bishop's paper has been posted? Thanks.ReplyDelete
In case some people are having difficulties viewing the Barron-Craig discussion via Facebook, I posted it on YouTube.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much, Sir!Delete
In case some have a difficulty scrolling along my debate with some here, I have posted (am posting?) it on blogger.
We're used to have an atheist troll come by once in a while. But this time we're dealing here with a sedevacantist troll! Well, that's a new one!Delete
I think you said that elsewhere, Rick, I answered there.Delete
Repeating same slur (though not a very heavy one), twice, just to stop someone else, seems a bit trollish to me (not in the hairy and Hulk-strong sense).
Hi Dr Feser,ReplyDelete
I loved the symposium that was awesome, thank you for doing this!!! I think you and Bishop Barron should do more of these, especially in order to reply to non-thomist contemporary philosophers.
I would appreciate it however if you or anyone here could layout the reply to the many worlds objection that WLC brought up against divine simplicity. I think that was the only objection that had any bite to it. I am not fully clear on the relationship reply that Bishop Barron gave to it.
Thank you and God Bless you!
I did find my answer on this blog! If anyone is interested here they areDelete
Divine simplicity under fire. I think WLC would accept a debate on thisReplyDelete
I was reading a paper by theologian Christian tapp where he states:ReplyDelete
" properties are to be freed from all earthly limitations
(especially from anthropological connotations) by saying that God possesses them
in an infnite degree/intensity or that the degree in which God possesses them
exceeds all creaturely degrees infnitely. So God is called ‘infnitely more powerful’
than we are, or His goodness is called ‘infnite goodness’, etc. In traditional theology,
this method is known as ‘via eminentiae’. It is frmly grounded in the tradition. But
it makes some assumptions that are by far not unproblematic, and it is disputable
whether it really makes infnity assumptions.
One problem is the presupposition that all these properties come in objective
degrees, that these degrees are objectively comparable, that there exists not only a
maximum degree, but also an infnite one, etc"
His paper can be found here: https://www.academia.edu/29416623/A11_Eternity_and_Infinity_
My question is does Thomistic theology or classical theology presuppose an infinity? I know Aquinas uses elements in his philosophy of neoplatonism but isn’t that just objective truth from the view of reality as act and potency?
I mean if something is unlimited by anything wouldn’t that make it infinite, endless and inexhaustible?
From Act and Potency one can indeed prove that properties have degrees.Delete
Speaking and by extension writing is a human property, and some speak or write more than others.
"I mean if something is unlimited by anything wouldn’t that make it infinite, endless and inexhaustible?"
Supposing it is not limited by itself, of course, like arithmetic and geometry.
I found that was a very interesting event indeed, particularly in that you had two very well known evangelists one from the Catholic and one of the Protestant tradition explain their views and experiences in an honest and congenial environment.ReplyDelete
But when the discussion moved to the tragic phenomenon of the increase in the number of the “nones” (namely the number of people who confess to belong to no religion) I found the opinions expressed to be wildly off the mark - of having lost contact with reality. In the basically non-religious milieu of the educated people here in Europe (and I am certain in the US too) the main reason for non-religiosity is not the rejection of Christ’s message but of the church’s. And in particular the rejection of its dogmatism and cowardice, its incapacity to grow morally and theologically. Christianity grew explosively in the first centuries because it brought to the world a bright vision and personal example. The Christian church then was alive and revolutionary. Christian churches today are reduced to be anxious keepers of relics, literally and metaphorically speaking. Today many a church finds it especially significant to teach people not to use condoms or teach against children learning at school the facts about human sexuality. And often worry about allowing the impression that something she used to teach was mistaken, lest it loses respect or authority– when it is by behaving in this way it is losing them.
As it happens today I was reading John Rawls’s short “On my religion” which he wrote late in life and which was published posthumously. There he describes with perfect honesty how after being a very religious youth he became disenchanted with Christianity. Below I copy a particular telling paragraph:
“I came to think many of [of the doctrines of Christianity] morally wrong, in some cases even repugnant. Among these were the doctrines of original sin, of heaven and hell, of salvation by true belief and based on accepting priestly authority. Unless one made an exception of oneself and assumed one would be saved, I came to feel the doctrine of predestination as terrifying once one thought it through and realized what it meant. Double predestination as expressed in its rigorous way by St. Augustine and Calvin seemed especially terrifying, though I had to admit it was present in St. Thomas and Luther also, and actually only a consequence of predestination itself. These doctrines all became impossible for me to take seriously, not in the sense that the evidence for them was weak or doubtful. Rather, they depict God as a monster moved solely by God’s own power and glory. As if such miserable and distorted puppets as humans were described could glorify anything! I also came to think that few people really accept these doctrines or even understand them. For them, religion is purely conventional and gives them comfort and solace in difficult times.”
Christian churches are failing, and here I readily include my own Eastern Orthodox. When the flock runs away and the sheep get lost in the darkness it’s because their shepherd is failing. It has nothing to do with technology or with scientific knowledge, no matter the nonsense new atheists peddle. How close are today’s churches to the ethos of the early church? How do today’s high priests remind one of Christ? Where is the confession of God modern churches give to the world? The truth is known by its fruit; and how Christian churches today are clutching to the past and even making an idol of it is clearly not giving good fruit.
"So you don't think he's an instance of existence?"ReplyDelete
"Well I do."
*Thomist face palm
Putting this thread back on track. Has Professor Feser replied to Craig's attempted rebuttal? https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/is-it-possible-god-is-not-personal/ReplyDelete
Yes he did reply to itDelete
I think he should reply again. I think there is room to consider if univocal, equivocal or analogous may not even be nuanced enough for this discussion. Maybe a term between univocal and analogous should be considered?Delete