Sunday, January 20, 2019

Washburn contra the “new natural lawyers”

I highly recommend theologian Christian Washburn’s excellent article “The New Natural Lawyers, Contraception, Capital Punishment, and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium,” from the latest issue of Logos.  Is there anything new to say about the “new natural law” (NNL) position on capital punishment?  There is, as Washburn shows.

Washburn begins by noting an odd parallel.  John T. Noonan’s influential book on the history of Catholic thinking about contraception showed that the Church’s teaching against the practice has been consistent for two millennia.  And yet Noonan nevertheless proposed that the teaching could be reversed.  Similarly, NNL scholar E. Christian Brugger’s book on capital punishment shows that the Church’s teaching on the legitimacy in principle of capital punishment has also been consistent for two millennia.  And yet Brugger nevertheless proposes that this teaching could be reversed.  

Part of the oddness of this is that both Noonan’s position and Brugger’s are perverse.  In Catholic theology, the more ancient and consistent a teaching concerning faith and morals, the less plausible can be the case for a reversal of that teaching.  Hence both Noonan and Brugger end up taking a position that is precisely the opposite of what the results of their historical investigations can support.

But another oddity here is that Brugger himself, and other NNL writers, see the perversity in the case of Noonan.  In an influential 1978 paper, Germain Grisez, the father of NNL theory (working together with the great Catholic moral theologian John C. Ford, who was not a NNL theorist), argued that evidence like that cited by Noonan in fact shows that the Church’s traditional doctrine against contraception has been taught infallibly.  Other NNL thinkers have followed them in this judgment.  And yet where capital punishment is concerned, Grisez and other NNL writers draw the opposite conclusion from the same sort of evidence!

Indeed, it’s worse than that.  Washburn notes that the evidence for the traditional teaching on capital punishment is stronger than that cited by Grisez in favor of the traditional teaching on contraception.  For example, the number of Fathers and popes who can be cited in defense of capital punishment is larger in each case than the number that Grisez cites in favor of the traditional teaching against contraception.  Furthermore, the NNL writers apply their standards of evidence in an inconsistent way.  For example, Grisez cites the Roman Catechism as evidence that the traditional teaching against contraception is part of the ordinary magisterium, but he and other NNL writers downplay the fact that the traditional teaching on capital punishment is also found in the Roman Catechism.  Indeed, the Roman Catechism presents more by way of citations from authoritative sources in defense of traditional teaching on capital punishment than it does in the case of contraception.

In short, if Grisez, Brugger, and other NNL writers were consistent in their application of the standards they deploy in criticism of Noonan, they would uphold traditional teaching on capital punishment no less than traditional teaching on contraception.  The reason they don’t apply these standards consistently is, of course, that traditional teaching on capital punishment conflicts with Grisez’s personal theology, whereas traditional teaching on contraception does not.  The NNL theory is allowed to trump the evidence from tradition in the one case, even while it is claimed to be supported by the evidence from tradition in the other.  For Grisez and company, the attitude is “NNL über alles.”

In defense of his proposal that the Church could reverse her traditional teaching on capital punishment, Brugger claims that a doctrine cannot be said to have been taught infallibly by the ordinary magisterium unless it has been explicitly taught in a definitive way by all the bishops.  Joe Bessette and I criticize Brugger’s criterion in By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed, and Washburn has some criticisms of his own.  First, he says, this criterion of Brugger’s is “a theological novelty” having no support in the tradition.  Second, it is so stringent a standard that it would render impossible a proof of any doctrine from the ordinary magisterium (including doctrines the NNL writers would want to uphold).  Third, it conflicts with the teaching of Pope Pius IX’s Tuas Libenter, which cites the constant consensus of theologians as evidence of a doctrine’s being an infallible part of the ordinary magisterium.  (Cf. my Catholic World Report article “Capital punishment and the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium.”)

Washburn also points out that while Brugger concedes that the evidence from the Fathers, Doctors, and popes all supports the traditional teaching that capital punishment can be legitimate in principle, that evidence is in fact even stronger than Brugger’s survey indicates.  For example, when considering the teaching of the Fathers and the popes on the subject of capital punishment, Brugger tends to focus on statements pertaining to the question of the status of capital punishment under the Christian dispensation.  But Washburn says that Brugger neglects important patristic and papal statements about capital punishment in the Old Testament, some of which refer to the practice as having been a part of “divine law” or “sacred law.”  As Washburn points out, a practice that is part of divine or sacred law can hardly be intrinsically evil (as NNL theory says capital punishment is), whatever one says about its status under the Christian dispensation. 

Washburn also thinks that Brugger fails to consider the weight of the evidence from canon law and the policies of the popes concerning the use of capital punishment in practice.  I think he is right about this, and to what he says, I would add the following point.  Suppose that canon law and the popes had for centuries officially decreed that abortion or contraception is morally permissible, that these practices were approved of and widely adopted in the Papal States, etc.  This would hardly be consistent with the Church’s claim to be an infallible guide to faith and morals.  For she would have been directly leading untold numbers of Catholics into grave moral corruption for centuries.  Yet Grisez, Brugger, and other NNL writers, who claim that capital punishment is always and intrinsically evil, in effect hold that canon law and the popes did exactly this sort of thing where that practice is concerned.

(Note that it is not a good reply to this to point out that there have been many popes and bishops who were guilty of murder, adultery, fornication, simony, etc.  Of course there have been, but they never taught that these things are good in official magisterial statements, made them official policy, incorporated them into canon law, etc.  The Church’s being an infallible moral teacher is compatible with churchmen being personally corrupt, but not with her having officially taught grave moral error century after century after century.)

In my CWR article on capital punishment and the ordinary magisterium, I emphasized the weight that the teaching of the Doctors of the Church has in Catholic theology, and Washburn makes some important points about that matter as well.  He notes that at least 18 of the 35 Doctors taught that capital punishment can be permissible in principle, and in addition to the Doctors I cited in my article, he cites the Venerable Bede, Peter Damian, Bonaventure, Albert, and Lawrence of Brindisi.  Washburn is also critical of the strained – and indeed, sometimes manifestly absurd – reinterpretations of biblical passages that NNL writers have to come up with in order to try to reconcile scripture with their position.

Anyway, as they say, read the whole thing.


  1. If we are to take the statement by Christ that, “The gates of hell will not prevail against [His Church]”, then we have to admit the legitimacy (in principle) of capital punishment.

    I like Dr. Feser’s parallel with contraception. I think something further could be drawn out. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that contraception was not in fact sinful. Well the Church’s prohibition on contraception would hardly be leading anyone to Hell. For it is uncontroversially NOT sinful to refrain from using contraception. Therefore, in protecting His Church, if Christ is to allow any temporary error on the part of the magisterium, He is more likely to let the Church err on the side of caution. Of course, any such errors will only be of a temporary promulgated by a minority or a narrow majority of clergy.

    On the contrary, permitting murder (which is what capital punishment is if it is intrinsically evil), even in principle, for 2000 years, will almost certainly lead many faithful to Hell.

    I fail to see how Christ could allow His Church (assuming He has established one) to descend into such corruption.

    1. Scott,
      As proven in a previous post, Peter was never in Rome. The tradition of Peter being in Rome is third century legend that eventually became an dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.

      Christ did not create an institutional church, which is self evident when one understands that Greek word ekklesia, which means an assembly of like-minded believers, which is exactly what a Jewish Synagogue represents.

      Fun fact: The English word church does not come from the New Testament but is derived from the Greek word kuriakos, meaning “belonging to the Lord.” When the Goths (a Germanic people) invaded the Roman Empire in the fifth century, they heard the latter used in reference to places of Christian worship. Not understanding the difference between the building and the congregation, the Goths probably derived their word for both from the Greek word kyriakon, which became the German word Kirche. Later, this word became the English word church.

    2. @Gerald Haug

      "Peter greets the Christian churches of Asia Minor on behalf of 'she who is in Babylon.' Some scholars speculate that Peter may have been referring to his wife. And yet, most agree this 'she' is more likely another local church, probably the Christian church in Rome. Why Rome? For one thing, it is unlikely there was any church in the historical city of Babylon at this time. And, it is very likely Peter was writing this letter from Rome. Also, Peter's Jewish readers would recognize "Babylon" as the traditional metaphor for those opposed to God's people. Rome, in that time, was the geographical and political source of that opposition. Peter may have been protecting the Christians in Rome by using Babylon as a stand-in."

    3. Many people falsely assume that Babylon was a code word for Rome. In Adumbrations or Comments on the General Epistles, Clement of Alexandria (150–215) specifically made this mistake when commenting on 1 Peter 5:13. He wrote, “Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter publicly preached the Gospel at Rome before some of Caesar’s equites . . .”

      When the Bible refers to Babylon figuratively, as in the book of Revelation, it is always a reference to Jerusalem. For example, the whore of Babylon is described as a former bride who was unfaithful and become a harlot (see Revelation 17). In Scripture, only Jerusalem has been a former bride — never Rome.

      Unfortunately, Greek New Testament texts were translated into Latin by men with limited understanding of Jewish symbolism, and the word “Babylon” was often considered a euphemism for Rome. This error further fueled the suggestion that Peter ruled in Rome.

    4. @Gerald Haug from Meyer's NT commentary.

      "It is clearly quite arbitrary when some scholars, like Capellus, Spanheim, and Semler, understand Babylon here as a name for Jerusalem, or even for the house where the apostles were assembled on the day of Pentecost."

    5. Not sure your point. The quote is from a source that is nearly 150 years old. Peter wrote his epistle in the first century, and the only thing that matter is to what "Babylon" was he referring. Studying the Bible it is clear that Jerusalem has been referred to as "Babylon" in both the Old and New Testaments.

    6. @Gerald Haug Peter says that "Mark" is with him (1 Pet. 5:13). Since we know that Mark was with Paul at the end of his career in the mid-60s (2 Tim. 4:11), it seems likely that Peter is writing from Rome—not Jerusalem.

    7. Cogni, don't respond to the troll.

    8. Gerald,

      This post is not about Papal primacy (neither is my comment). Please stop thread-jacking.

      Everyone else,

      Please do not engage with Gerald. He tends to blow up the comment section with unrelated material. Please be charitable to other commenters who want to have a discussion related to Dr. Feser’s post.

    9. @Cogniblog,
      That Mark went to Rome is established in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Here we find Paul in his final hours of imprisonment in Rome, requesting that Timothy [who was in Ephesus] bring Mark to him, for Mark was “very useful to me for ministry,” and “to bring his cloak, his books, and the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:11, 13).
      If, as some claim, Mark was also in Rome with Peter, why would Paul need Timothy to bring Mark to Rome?

    10. @Cogniblog,
      Catholic like to emphasize faith and reason, while Protestants emphasize faith, reason, and logic. Protestants are masters of Abductive reasoning, while Catholic pride themselves in inductive reasoning. All inductive reasoning is speculative and unprovable. Abductive reasoning is a mixture of deductive and inductive reasoning and is much more precise. Thus modern scholarship brings the precision that Peter was in Asia Minor, while Paul was in Rome.

      Remember Catholicism rises and falls on the fact of a ministerial priesthood and Peter being the first pope. If he was not in Rome there is NO guarantee that the Catholic priesthood is valid and the Mass is NOT what Catholics claim.

    11. @Gerald Haug Bart D. Ehrman says in Forged, page 68, scholars have long realised what the reference to ‘Babylon’ means in 1 Peter 5:13. Babylon was the city that had defeated Judah and destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in the sixth century BCE. By the end of the first century Christians and Jews had started using the word Babylon as a code word for Rome, the city that was the enemy of God in their own day, which also destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in the year 70. The author is claiming to be writing from the city of Rome, but using the code 'Babylon' is an anachronism during the lifetime of St. Peter.

      I don't agree with the conclusion that Ehrman presents (1 Peter is a forgery) but it is universally agreed by contemporary scholars that whoever wrote 1 Peter wrote it fron Rome.

    12. @Cogniblog,
      Peter was most likely in Babylonia (Iraq). Remember that Peter was the Apostle to the circumcised (Gal. 2:8), and the number of Jews in Rome was relatively small. Why was he in Babylon? Because history records that in the first century, as many Jews lived in Babylonia as in Palestine.

      Even wikipedia acknowledges that Catholic sources say that 1 Peter could have been written from Antioch (see So Rome is NOT universal.

      Dating the books of the Bible is a difficult task. Typically most Protestant scholars are pre-millennial in their eschatology and therefore date some of the books after 70 AD. However, through extensive research, I date ALL the books before 70 AD. This means that 1,2 Peter was written before 70 AD. Peter's literary style would indicate Babylon can only be a reference to Jerusalem or Babylonia. After all Paul directly refers to Rome multiple times in his epistles. Furthermore 1 Peter is written to the churches in Asia-Minor, which means even less of a reason to obfuscate the name of Rome with Babylon.(You might have a case if the 1 Peter was written TO Babylon, but it was written FROM Babylon TO Asia-Minor)

      Also, I don't put much stock in what Bart Ehrman has to say. I have read his books and his scholarship skews towards the most pessimistic view of the Bible. He has a fairly big axe to grind against Christianity.

    13. Also, I don't put much stock in what Bart Ehrman has to say. I have read his books and his scholarship skews towards the most pessimistic view of the Bible. He has a fairly big axe to grind against Christianity.

      This is a subtype of ad hominem called poisoning the well. It might be true that Ehrman has a pessimistic view of the Bible. That does not devalue his ability to analyze the meaning of words!

      Peter was most likely in Babylonia (Iraq).

      It is impossible for Peter to have written 1 Peter fron the mesopotamian city, because Christian missionaries weren't there in the first century.

      This means that 1,2 Peter was written before 70 AD. Peter's literary style would indicate Babylon can only be a reference to Jerusalem or Babylonia.

      I disagree that the association of Babylon with Rome implies that it was written after AD 70. The Jews were pastorial people who viewed any world commercial alpha city as "Babylon"... because Babylon was the first alpha city. So if Rome was an alpha city during any time in the first century, then the Jews would refer to Rome as Babylon during any time during the first century.

    14. 1. Preterist eschatology requires the book of Revelation to be written before 70 AD. The proof of this fact is lengthy and beyond the scope of the combox.

      2. Hermeneutics dictates if a book is not figurative (Psalms/Song of Solomon/..) or apocalyptic (Rev./Daniel/...) then it should be read literally. All epistles should be read literally.

      3. Jerusalem in 64-67 AD, when 1 Peter was written, was WAY more apostate than Rome.

      4. The Jews were both pastoral and agricultural.

    15. Preterist eschatology requires the book of Revelation to be written before 70 AD. The proof of this fact is lengthy and beyond the scope of the combox.

      Okay but this isn't a discussion about preterist eschatology.

      Hermeneutics dictates if a book is not figurative (Psalms/Song of Solomon/..) or apocalyptic (Rev./Daniel/...) then it should be read literally. All epistles should be read literally.

      Because there were no Christians in Babylon during the first century, that means your hermeneutic is wrong.

      Jerusalem in 64-67 AD, when 1 Peter was written, was WAY more apostate than Rome.

      Apostasy was never the criterion that earned the typology of "babylon." It was being a global alpha city. No matter how bad the people in Jerusalem were, it was never a global alpha city and therefore never Babylon.

      The Jews were both pastoral and agricultural.

      That only strengthens my point.

    16. Acts 2:9-11 says that at Pentecost in 30 AD there were "Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, ... visitors from Rome... Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

      Mesopotamia is the Roman word for the former Babylonia. Emperor Hadrian captured Mesopotamia from the Persians and annexed it to the Roman Empire in 116 AD.

      Therefore, the Gospel had spread to Babylon, Persia, and even India by the first century. Just like the Romans, the Mesopotamians(Babylonians) heard the Gospel in 30 AD. In 57 AD, Paul traveled to Rome to strengthen that church, while Peter traveled to Babylon to strengthen that church in around 65 AD (1 Peter).

      Conclusion: There is ZERO case for Peter ever having been in Rome. Consequently, Catholics are DEAD in their trespasses and their is NO salvation possible for them, for without Peter they have no papacy, magisterium, sacraments, priests, or authority.

      Jesus will say: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matthew 7:21-23).

      God's will is always that we leave an institution that practices lawlessness.

    17. @Gerald Haug while it could be possible that there was some missionary activity in Babylon, it is almost certain that Peter himself did not live there or ever visited there. 1 Peter references Silvanus (Silas) and Mark, and it is known by all church historians that Silvanus and Mark had their main stay of operations in Rome.

      You mention that in 2 Tim. Paul instructs Mark to go to Rome, implying that he wasn't in Rome. That is likely the case. But it ignores that generally speaking Mark lived in Rome. That is why when Paul wrote Colossians during his first imprisonment he has to send Mark to Asia Minor from where he is writing (in Rome).

      "My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)" (Colossians 4:10)

    18. Catholics claim, WITHOUT proof, that Peter went to Rome in 37 AD.

      According to the Bible, Mark went to Cyprus with Barnabas(his cousin) after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:39). That would be around the year 48/49 AD.

      "According to the Coptic tradition, Saint Mark was born in Cyrene, a city in the Pentapolis of North Africa (now Libya). This tradition adds that Mark returned to Pentapolis later in life, after being sent by Paul to Colossae (59/60 AD) (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24.

      Some, however, think these actually refer to Mark the Cousin of Barnabas), and serving with him in Rome (2 Tim 4:11); from Pentapolis he made his way to Alexandria. When Mark returned to Alexandria, the pagans of the city resented his efforts to turn the Alexandrians away from the worship of their traditional gods. In AD 68, they placed a rope around his neck and dragged him through the streets until he was dead."--Source Wiki:Mark the Evangelist

      Coptics make no mention of Mark serving with Peter in Rome.

      So, who are these scholars that claim Mark was with Peter in Rome? Where is the data? Many alleged scholars such as Bart Ehrmann and others love to speculate but where is the data. Legends about Peter and Paul were legion in the Roman Empire, that is why tradition and fanciful thinking by Catholic apologists are NOT sources of reliable scholarship.

    19. @Gerald Haug

      1. Colossians was written during the first imprisonment
      2. Paul was first imprisoned in Rome.
      3. Paul says Mark is with him in Colossians.
      4. Therefore Mark was in Rome.

      Which premise do you disagree with, kind sir?

    20. @Cogniblog,
      I agree with all four point. Notice there is ZERO mention of Peter. Thanks for proving my point!

      How did Mark get to Rome? Nobody knows, but it is possible that at the first imprisonment he arrived with Barnabas. After all Barnabas was the mentor of both Mark and Paul.

      My point is that I want PROOF that Peter was in Rome, not wishful thinking. Catholics are notorious with their fanciful speculation. Look at the hagiography which is mostly fiction. If they lie about their saints, it only stands to reason that they lied about Peter. After all, Peter is the ur-Saint that starts the whole causal chain of Catholic lies.

    21. The information in Colossians combined with the fact that Paul asked Mark to go to Rome proves that Mark, generally speaking, did a lot of his ministry work at Rome. So the fact that Peter mentions Mark is with him tells us that

      1. Babylon couldn't be Jerusalem, because there's no information of Mark having a ministry in Jerusalem.

      2. Babylon couldn't be Babylon, because there's no information of Mark having a ministry in Babylon.

      When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains must be the truth. We have eliminated Jerusalem and Babylon from the three possible interpretations of Jerusalem, Babylon, and Rome, so whatever remains must be the truth.

    22. @Cogniblog,
      That was totally illogical. You have not addressed the phase space of ALL possibilities. At a minimum Mark had a ministry with Barnabas, Paul, and Peter. There could be others. The Apostles travelled from place to place, so it is possible that Peter went to Babylon without Mark.

      I guess Catholics love to talk about reason because they cannot DO reason. You only confirm how corrosive Medieval Thomistic thinking is to the more advanced and more precise thinking required in deductive and abductive reasoning.

    23. "That was totally illogical. You have not addressed the phase space of ALL possibilities. At a minimum Mark had a ministry with Barnabas, Paul, and Peter. There could be others. The Apostles travelled from place to place, so it is possible that Peter went to Babylon without Mark."

      The options of what Babylon can mean are not infinite. J.P. Holding narrows it down to Jerusalem or Rome. I have added literal Babylon in order to give yours the most charity possible.

      Is it possible that it was Jerusalem? There's no evidence that Mark had any operations there while it is known that Mark was at Rome at least twice. In fact, the Book of Acts strongly suggests that the apostles avoided Jerusalem after Paul's miserable experience there. So there are a lot of reasons why Rome is a good idea and Jerusem and Babylon are bad ones.

      May the blessed virgin Mary show her grace to you. Her mercy is endless and she wants to be your mother.

    24. So let me summarize your point. In effect, your saying that Babylon could still mean literal Babylon. Thank you for agreeing with me!

      Therefore we are in violent agreement. The most likely spot where 1 Peter was written was Babylon (Mesopotamia, Iraq). This makes perfect sense since 2 Timothy and 1 Peter were written roughly around the same time, one from Rome and the other from Babylon.

    25. Gerald, why do you think anyone would believe and take seriously even for a second an outspoken and proud liar such as you?

    26. The Decretum Gratiani is the cornerstone of modern canon law. As a whole, it addresses various aspects of church jurisdiction, offenses, and legal proceedings, as well as administrative issues like baptism, feast days, confirmation, and the consecration of churches. Though never an official edition of canon law, it was standard for nearly 800 years until superseded in 1918 by the Code of Canon Law, the Codex Iuris Canonici.

      Prominent Roman Catholic historians testified how Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals and the Decretum Gratiani affected church history. Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, who taught church history for 47 years as a Roman Catholic, made these important comments:

      In the middle of the ninth century—about 845—there arose the huge fabrication of the Isidorian decretals . . . About a hundred pretended decrees of the earliest Popes, together with certain spurious writings of other Church dignitaries and acts of Synods, were then fabricated in the west of Gaul, and eagerly seized upon by Pope Nicholas I at Rome, to be used as genuine documents in support of the new claims put forward by himself and his successors. That the pseudo–Isidorian principles eventually revolutionized the whole constitution of the Church, and introduced a new system in place of the old—on that point there can be no controversy among candid historians. The most potent instrument of the new Papal system was Gratian’s Decretum, which issued about the middle of the twelfth century from the first school of Law in Europe, the juristic teacher of the whole of Western Christendom, Bologna. In this work the Isidorian forgeries were combined with those of the other Gregorian (Gregory VII) writers . . . and with Gratian’s own additions. His work displaced all the older collections of canon law, and became the manual and repertory, not for canonists only, but for the scholastic theologians, who, for the most part, derived all their knowledge of Fathers and Councils from it. No book has ever come near it in its influence in the Church, although there is scarcely another so chockfull of gross errors, both intentional and unintentional (Johann Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, The Pope and the Council (Boston: Roberts, 1870), pp. 76–77, 79, 115–116).

      Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits these are forgeries. It explains that the forged documents’ purposes included enabling the Church to be independent of secular power and preventing the laity from ruling the Church. In other words, their purpose was to increase the power of the Pope and the Catholic Church.

      Conclusion: The Entire Catholic Enterprise is built on lies and forgeries.

      As I tell my Catholic friend. You have the freedom of choice, but not the freedom from consequences.

    27. Gerald, why do you lie so much?

    28. @ Scott Lynch,
      the whole discourse on Peter not being in Rome is to show you that the Devil rules the Catholic church. Christ's TRUE church is protected. For example, God used Islam to eradicate counterfeit Christianity throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Similarly, materialism and buggery are destroying Catholicism in the West. God protects His Church, the counterfeit He leaves unprotected. There is NO salvation possible for the unprotected because they are NOT in God's house. 1 million Jews died unprotected by God in Jerusalem in 70 AD. Don't repeat their error.

      Correct your worldview and the peace and protection of God will rule your heart. Otherwise fear, distress, depression, and hopelessness will finally overcome you.

  2. The Washburn article is excellent.

    It is often interesting taking an assertion to the extreme to see if it maintains its integrity. If the current Magisterium is teaching us that capital punishment is immoral, that must also mean the following:

    1. It would have been immoral to execute Hitler.
    2. It would be immoral to execute a man who has murdered many and who promises to murder more if he escapes his cell or the prison.
    3. A murderer may repeatedly murder prison guards and we must continue to only place him back in his cell.
    4. A nomadic tribe in Mongolia must not execute a heinous murderer and rapist and instead must transport him in a mobile jail cell everywhere it travels and for the rest of his life. This despite this burden being an existential threat to the tribe.

    I have come to tears over this. I never questioned the Church until now. I thought I found this institution that wouldn't bow to sentiment and wouldn't reverse its long held beliefs on serious moral topics. I believed all the old books I read on it. "Guarantor of the Faith", "The Rock".. "immutable". I know things can change, but this??? I can't handle it - I know, I know, my Faith should be stronger, there is more to the Faith than its teaching on capital punishment...but I can't quite disregard what this implies. What is the Church teaching me now as "good" that will be taught as "bad" to my grandchildren? Or the reverse? I really can not stomach it.

    What Fastiggi says in one of his comments to your Catholic World Report article almost shocks me:

    "It’s up to the Magisterium, guided by the Holy Spirit, to discern which positions are subject to revision and which are not. I have great faith in the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Magisterium."

    If this is true, the Catholic Church is not what I thought She was.

    1. Re-reading the Fastiggi quote again and it can be read in a different light that doesn't imply the Magisterium can change whatever it wants. I probably jumped the gun there. Regardless, I am in personal crisis.

    2. Patrick,

      Just remember, the Catholic Church was shrouded in much more doubt over the Arian heresy 1700 years ago that it is today with capital punishment. If the Church prevailed then (and through countless other controversies), you can trust that it will prevail through this controversy.

    3. Thanks, Scott. You are right, though the absolute nature of this revision (reversal) will make reigning it in quite messy. It seems like such an unforced error, if some of us are right in that it is an error in communication.

      I've got a serious conscience problem and am trying to right it. I know at some point I've got to push my intellect out of the way, but so long as one side is doing such a poor job in its defense, I simply can't.

      To Mr. Feser, we on the side of disbelieving the Church could have erred for so long thank you kindly for your fighting spirit.

    4. If the current Magisterium is teaching us that capital punishment is immoral, that must also mean the following:

      Patrick, take heart: to the extent that some members of the Catholic leadership (by which I include the current holder of the papal chair, the current cardinals and bishops and priests, and the current theologians) are trying to teach what is inconsistent with settled Church doctrine that had already been infallibly taught, they fail to speak magisterially, and in fact set themselves in opposition to "the Church" properly considered. (Since there is one Church and therefore one doctrine, it is impossible that the Church's magisterial authority asserts both A and not-A doctrinally). And it makes no sense for anyone in leadership to claim that what the Church has already taught doctrinally" can only be decided by NEW magisterial teaching, that would imply that we can only be sure of the content of already existing ordinary magisterial and infallible by the action of the extraordinary magisterial teaching defining it precisely: i.e. there is no such thing as an infallible ordinary magisterium. If it is impossible for the people of God to know what the Church has taught magisterially, there is no longer such an ordinary magisterium. It may take a certain sort of judgment about the history of a teaching to decide that X has been taught infallibly by the ordinary magisterium, but that judgment is not entirely a theological one so much as a historical one enlightened by faith, and as history all of us Catholics can claim access to its evidence and its persuasiveness.

      However, it is far more realistic to understand the current Pope (and the two prior popes) to be asserting a strongly held opinion about the prudential aspect of applying the DP in today's world, a conclusion that is not protected by the charism of infallibility. To that extent, what the popes (and other teachers) say should be listened to with respect, but does not lay claim to guiding our consciences and intellects in any definitive way: they can be wrong, and we are permitted to think they ARE wrong without offense to the faith. Benedict (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger and in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) said just that, and he did not retract it as pope.

    5. Patrick:

      To Eastern Catholics such as myself, such non-dogmatic vacillations on the part of the Holy Father are not binding. In such matters I'm more bound to my patriarch.

  3. @Patrick

    Your condition is understandable, but it's an overreaction. A little knowledge of history is helpful, as is some sense of proportion. This brief homily is useful in that regard.

    1. That was excellent. Thank you.

    2. Great homily on the Pope Formosus and the Cadaver Synod. Thank you for the link.

  4. Washburn's article is a spectacular contribution to the Church and her teaching in this matter.

    I would particularly note how important it is that we reflect on one point he makes: there are certain ways of understanding the consensus of Catholic teachers on a point of teaching that would render the notion of an infallible teaching presented to the Church as infallible through the Ordinary Magisterium to be null, to be an empty set and impossible of application with respect to ANY teaching. For instance:

    Brugger argues that in order for a doctrine to be proposed as something to be definitively held, the consensus of theologians is inadequate; the “bishops themselves must explicitly and authoritatively
    teach the same.”

    This second point is a theological novelty. If true, it would render any proof from the ordinary universal magisterium impossible without a written or recorded statement from almost every bishop in the world. This condition has never been met for any doctrine, including contraception, outside an ecumenical council.

    And of course something taught by an ecumenical council does not fall into the category of a teaching taught "even when they are dispersed throughout the world," as Vatican II described the Ordinary Magisterium in respect of an infallible teaching. (One might also note that EVEN WITHIN an ecumenical council that produces a clear dogmatic teaching, normally the vote on that dogma won't have been absolutely unanimous, or there wouldn't have been disputes about it necessitating the council. Somebody's point of view loses the debate.)

    The other aspect of infallible teaching by the Ordinary Magisterium that bears the same note is that of application of unanimity: " The third condition is that the bishops agree in one judgment about a doctrine." One must understand by this "agreement" not a mathematical statement in which one finds every single bishop has issued an explicit statement, and every single bishop's position is in clear agreement on the point. If that were the sense of "agreement" intended, there would never be ANY teaching of the bishops that qualifies as infallible, for ALL teachings have had their controversies in which some hold a contrary position. This goes for all of the disputes in the early Church which eventually became the occasion for definitive teaching in ecumenical councils, such as on the errors of the Arians, Donatists, Monophysites, etc. There would be no actual teachings that qualify as infallible under the Ordinary Magisterium. No, the "agreement" required is of another character. What that character is may be a little obscure, or difficult to state precisely, but I think it may be referred to as a "moral" consensus that is nearly or effectively complete. At the least, it is not necessary to find that every bishop has stated a position, but that the bishops who have stated a position are (almost completely) in agreement. (This goes also for finding consensus in the Fathers and Doctors and theologians.)

  5. One comment that Washburn makes that needs a little clarification or correction is: " There are a number of steps in the practical order in identifying these 'non-defining acts,' since the universality of the teaching must be established both synchronically and diachronically." One might imagine, then, that Washburn is indicating that the criteria set forth for identifying an infallible teaching requires not only a consensus in all of the bishops of the Church at a given time, but all of the bishops of the Church throughout all times. This is not true, and it would render nonsensical the underlying content of there even being such a thing as infallible teaching (by the Ordinary Magisterium), for once a teaching has been made infallible under the applicable criteria at any given moment in Church history, no LATER lack of consensus can affect the certain and definitive character of the infallible teaching.

    And, indeed, Washburn recognizes this, at least in some respect: "Moreover, they were perfectly clear that 'such teachings, once given, cannot later be contradicted by the Church as a whole'..." The sad reality is that there are heretic Christians, and indeed heretic bishops, effectively EVERY teaching is disputed by someone (otherwise we would not have 25,000 sects of Protestants), and we find them throughout history, and so the reality of these disputants cannot mean that a teaching they dispute is not taught infallibly.

    What IS true that Washburn is noting in mentioning "both synchronically and diachronically" is that some of the criteria for locating infallible teachings are to be understood as referring to all of a category of teachers over time: We don't ask merely that all Fathers alive at one moment of time were in agreement; rather we seek to find agreement among them within the whole body of the Fathers throughout the centuries of the Fathers. Similarly with the Doctors - though not quite in the exact same way. Less so for the theologians, because we would never even ASK for proof of infallibility if there wasn't a dispute that needed to be dealt with by reference to "what has the Church laid down on the matter, and how authoritative was it?" Hence a dispute arising at one specific period within the body of theologians would make us not ask for complete agreement with respect to those theologians within that period of dispute, but we would look rather to consensus that existed before the dispute arose.

  6. May be a bit off-topic but I'm curious: What should be the stand of a natural law theorist on Immigration?

    1. A rich country should use its resources to help an impoverished country the best it can so long as it does not harm the public good of the rich country.

    2. Matthew, you can try here for a discussion:

  7. Edward Feser, what is your position on religious freedom as a natural right?

    1. I am very curious about this myself.

      I have read Pink's and Lamont's defense of Dignitatis Humanae, but I am simply not convinced by either. The latter's is a stronger case, but he still seems to err in fundamentally asserting there is a natural right to error, even if merely for the sake of public order

      No such right exists, because right is just another way of stating obligation, and obligation can only tends towards what actually exists. Since error, strictly speaking, does not exist, there can be no right to it.

      I really wish Dr Feser would give us his own take on the whole matter in a blogpost.

    2. You can't punish people into not believing. That would be reducing a human being to an animal. So as a consequence of human beings being intellectualists, one must both assert a right to free speech and a right to religious, philosophical, or metaphysical beliefs. Otherwise you are acting like a voluntarist.

  8. There is not a natural right to error, but those in error do have rights. That’s why we don’t coerce people into getting baptized nor do we baptize other people’s children.

  9. Certainly they do. They have a right not to be coerced into accepting the true religion, but that does not entail a right to practice their false religion. Such a thing, as with all evil, can be at best tolerated.

    1. I would argue that the state can only restrict their practices insofar as they violate the natural law.

    2. I would pose it rather that the state can only restrict their practices insofar as they disturb the common good (of which the state has the care). And what we get from Dignitatis Humanae is that a person merely holding a false religion does not disturb the common good sufficiently to justify restraint, there must be some overt activity that itself causes a significant disturbance to the common good. DH proposes that the disturbance must rise to the level of damage to "the public order", but I in my estimation the expression is so vague there that it fails to be any more informative than just referring back to the principle, which is the common good as a whole.

      So, while there is no right to hold error, there is an implied "right" not to be interfered with for merely trivial effects of holding error. (Although I would cast it from the other direction than call it a personal "right": it is RIGHT FOR THE STATE not to interfere with error for trivial detrimental effects, because there are opposite, countervailing bad effects from the effort to find, classify, and punish such effects of error - you only get a sufficient trade-off of those latter bad effects if the effects of the error are significant. This however leaves it open to situational conditions as to when religious error of X type starts to have serious effects: in a multi-religion state like ancient Rome or modern US, there are different effects (on the common good of which the state has the care) from someone leaving the Church for some heresy than is true of 13th century Italy or France.)

      And the reason for this is that the pursuit of truth is a human right properly, and the attempt to pursue truth honestly will often land us in error without any moral failing on our part (given our clouded intellects). Hence the necessary freedom in the intellectual assent to what it perceives as true in the (honest) pursuit of truth, even assent to error accidentally arrived at, must be left alone by the state unless the error damages the common good more than quelling the error diminishes the common good (especially, damages free pursuit of truth). So the right to pursue truth freely implies a sort of "right" not to be interfered with merely on account of arriving at error instead of truth.

    3. No, it is not a right for the state. It is a right for the person not disturbing the public order not to be molested by the state.

      I think the definitive line for damaging the common good is if the religion in question requires violations of natural law as part of its practice (for example, human sacrifice). What other objective way can a person harm the public good other than by violating the natural law?

    4. Suppose, for example, a heretic from another country enters into a Catholic state and starts teaching error, and does so not by honestly engaging what the Church actually teaches and disputing it with honest arguments, but by playing fast and loose with the truth; and that in doing so he convinces many simple and unlearned souls to abandon Catholicism, and he induces unnecessary doubts in many others. (For example, he lies about the Church teaching us to "worship Mary", and lies about Catholics being "cannibals", and he lies about believing and obeying the pope "in everything".) It could be appropriate for civil authorities to restrain him, even though neither he nor the people he convinces do anything that is a violation of natural law. Dignitatis Humanae quite explicitly refers to unjust means of persuasion as something the civil law can speak to in dealing with religious error.

    5. I would argue that at least he is. He would be guilty of slander and libel against an institution.

    6. Isn't bringing the state into this, by itself a concession to liberalism? Why subscribe to the liberal notion that the state has a monopoly on coercion? Let local communities decide whether they want to tolerate idolaters.

      That said, I don't understand how idolatry or heresy, so long as either are practised in private, impact the common good.

    7. (contd.)

      However, local communities can plainly decide whether or not they ought to tolerate the _public_ exercise of heretical or idolatrous doctrines.

    8. No, the distinction between public and private spheres is found within medievalists. Thomas Aquinas, for instance, claimed that the state is entrusted to handle these matters.

    9. Sure,the public/private distinction is licit. But does 'public' equate to 'under state monopoly'? I don't think so. Medieval societies didn't have what we would consider a state today. That degree of centralization didn't exist in the middle ages.

    10. Sri, it is true that for medievals like Aquinas, "public" didn't equate to "the state" as we moderns understand the state. However, as Aquinas used the concept in talking about punishment, public authority meant "those who have the care of the common good" and is reserved to a select few, not "the community at large". In an aristocracy, it might mean the local baron; in a democracy, it might mean the magistrates elected by the people (even in a DIRECT democracy you still have delegations of authority to smaller groups: in Athens a jury was selected by lots, the whole city did not sit for a trial); in a monarchy, it would mean first the king and then his marshal, his chancellor, his officers and so on. But the fact that in today's world we have lower communities with some authority and greater communities of communities (i.e. states composed of counties) with plenary authority doesn't discommode the CONCEPT of "those who have the care of the common good" in the least. It just means that there are layers of differing authorities.

      Thus, whether the decision not to tolerate a foreign religion is made by the authorities of the city versus the authorities of the county or state is less relevant than whether SOME authority can (or cannot) have legitimate power to refuse toleration of a foreign religion.

    11. earlier I said

      even though neither he nor the people he convinces do anything that is a violation of natural law.

      Geoconservative replied

      I would argue that at least he is. He would be guilty of slander and libel against an institution.

      I agree, slander and libel are against the natural law. So let me clarify: he would not be doing something in violation of the natural law in respect of his non-Catholic religion, it is not his RELIGION that violates natural law. (Unless his religion advocates lying to Christians to get them away from the Church - perhaps something countenanced by Islam, maybe?)

      The easier case, of course, is one where the foreigner is a follower of Moloch, and where he says "Of course, in the modern USA, I would not argue that we should engage in child-sacrifice, that would be contrary to local mores". But what he means (and I have seen this sort of argument used, explicitly) "If, however, I and my co-religionists succeeded in changing the US culture, then, yes, of course we would advocate child-sacrifice, that's what our religion holds is ideal." I don't think that the Catholic state should tolerate such religious tenets and proselytizing, and the mere fact that he is not NOW disturbing the public order with present-day child-sacrifice does not mean his behavior and beliefs are compatible with public order.

    12. Tony, thank you for the explanation, I largely agree with you. That said, it seems to me that decentralized forms of authority delegation are generally better than more centralized ones (monarchies and parliamentary democracies), especially when it comes to questions of whether to tolerate a certain ideology in the public sphere, because the local community is more susceptible to subversion than a centralized institution, and because the propagation of harmful ideologies occurs at the level of the local community. For a centralized authority to do this is rather like using a chainsaw to trim one's nails.

    13. You might not have a right to believe and practice error per se, but you have a right to follow your conscience per se.

  10. [Martin Luther] advice would be that Aristotle's Physics, Metaphysics, On the Soul, Ethics, which have hitherto been thought his best books, should be altogether discarded, together with all the rest of his books which boast of treating the things of nature, although nothing can be learned from the either of the things of nature or the things of the Spirit.

    Moreover no one has so far understood his meaning, and many souls have been burdened with profitless labor and study, at the cost of much precious time. I venture to say that any potter has more knowledge of nature than is written in these books. It grieves me to the heart that this damned, conceited, rascally heathen has with his false words deluded and made fools of so many of the best Christians. God has sent him as a plague upon us for our sins.

    Why, this wretched man, in his best book, On the Soul, teaches that the soul dies with the body, although many have tried with vain words to save his reputation. As though we had not the Holy Scriptures, in which we are abundantly instructed about all things, and of them Aristotle had not the faintest inkling! And yet this dead heathen has conquered and obstructed and almost suppressed the books of the living God, so that when I think of this miserable business I can believe nothing else than that the evil spirit has introduced the study of Aristotle.

    Again, his [Aristotle's] book on Ethics is the worst of all books. It flatly opposes divine grace and all Christian virtues, and yet it is considered one of his best works. Away with such books! Keep them away from all Christians! Let no one accuse me of exaggeration, or of condemning what I do not understand! My dear friend, I know well whereof I speak. I know my Aristotle as well as you or the likes of you. I have lectured on him and heard lectures on him, and I understand him better than do St. Thomas or Scotus. This I can say without pride, and if necessary I can prove it. I care not that so many great minds have wearied themselves over him for so many hundred years. Such objections do not disturb me as once they did; for it is plain as day that other errors have remained for even more centuries in the world and in the universities.

    Source: An Open Letter to the The Christian Nobility by Luther

    1. That's a valid opinion to have, if a wrong one.

    2. Martin Luther probably knows more about Scholasticism and Aristotle than anyone on this blog other than Feser. A smart person would study Luther's objections instead blindly drinking the A-T kool-aid.

    3. If I were to take Martin Luther's objections seriously, I would have to, for the sake of consistency, disregard his writings as well, for he was a vile heretic who taught idiotic and dangerous doctrines.

      Of course, nobody really says that everything Aristotle wrote was in line with Christian thought. No Thomist who read Aristotle would say that. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have some true things in it.

    4. I guess I should have added that Martin Luther knows more about A-T and theology than anyone on this blog.

      All Martin Luther did is expose all the metaphysical and theological cruft that accumulated during 1000 years of Medieval superstition, ignorance, and fictional tradition, and political anarchy.

    5. Unless you have read Denifle's Quellenbelege die abendländischen Schriftausleger bis Luther über Justitia Dei (Rom. 1,17) und Justificatio ; Beitrag zur Geschichte der Exegese, der Literatur und des Dogmas im Mittelalter. Mainz: Kirchheim, 1905, I would be a little less bold in your judgment.

    6. Martin Luther was a nominalist crank and an extremely bad philosopher at that. As with pretty much all Occamites, he did not know Aristotle and Aquinas from a bull's foot, and that shows both in his ridiculous objections to their philosophy and in his recovering of old heresies long put to rest by the Church Fathers (something which inevitably followed from misreading Augustine all over due to his grotesque nominalistic distortions).

      Voluntarism, along with its child nominalism, is the root of all modern evils. First it obliterated what was worthy in Islamic thought, and then set its claws in Western philosophy, in turn leading to the Protestant revolt and all subsequent tyranny and diabolical attacks against the Church of Christ up till modern-day secularism. Brad Gregory's The Unintended Reformation is an excellent account of all these unfoldings.

    7. Luther wrote,

      “Where God build a church, the Devil puts up a chapel next door. … It is almost incredible. What infamous actions are committed at Rome; one would require to see it and hear it in order to believe it. It is an ordinary saying that if there is a hell, Rome is built upon it. It is an abyss from whence all sins proceed. … Rome, once the holiest city, was now the worst. Let me get out of this terrible dungeon. I took onions to Rome and brought back garlic.”

      It looks like nothing has changed in 500 years. How can anyone respect a clergy where over one third commit buggery?!

      Correction! Occam was a conceptualist NOT a nominalist! (see As usual Catholics expose their ignorance. Evangelical Protestants are conceptualists NOT nominalists. Atheists are nominalist.

    8. @Anonymous, I doubt that you have read Denifle's "Quellenbelege die abendländischen Schriftausleger bis Luther über Justitia Dei" either. This book is written in both German and Latin.

    9. Conceptualism is just the first step towards the full-blown nominalism so common nowadays, but suffers from the exact same problems as the latter, not the least of which being the fact that it is self-defeating and absurd from the get-go, as Dr Feser so masterly explains in several of his books.

      Which, as it turns out, is exactly why Luther's confused and confusing mind tended to side with theological nonsense regarding topics long-settled by the Magisterirum of the Church.

      He did not know Plato and Aristotle; he did not know Augustine and the rest of the Fathers of the Early Church; he did not know Aquinas and the other pre-Ockham schoolmen. He only knew the Occamite strawmen he was spoonfed by his teachers; just like you.

    10. The treatment of the problem of universals is the most notable application of the famous principle of parsimony that came to be known as Occam's Razor. Occam declared that "plurality is not to be posited without necessity." The principle of parsimony lies at the heart of Physics and Science. If Occam's Razor were not true, nobody would be able to do science.

      In contrast Aristotle, as demonstrated by Galileo, so clouded the church that science was delayed by 1000 years.

      A-T, for those who do not live in denial, has been proven to be the inferior metaphysics.

      @Anonymous, I can only assume that you do not speak or read German, Latin, know anything about math, physics, theology, or philosophy. Better leave the thinking to the adults.

    11. Guys, don't bother responding to Gerald. He has demonstrated he can't hold relevant or charitable conversation.

      Gerald...seriously, get lost. You aren't welcome here, and simply because Ed moderates with a light hand does not oblige us to suffer your polluting multiple threads with your comments.

    12. @Gerald,
      I do read German and Latin which is why I suggested the volume by Denifle to you. This volume deals directly with Luther's knowledge of the Medieval theological tradition. I would gently suggest a little more humility as a number of the readers of Dr. Feser's blog are professors of either theology or philosophy. They can often read two ancient and two modern.

    13. I, the other anonymous, have an undergraduate degree in physics and a PhD in maths.

      Galileo did no such thing and your claims regarding scientific progress are laughable, as any historian of science will tell you (recommended reading: James Hannam's God's Philosophers). Also, A-T metaphysics does not in any way depend on science's conclusions and is just as defensible today as it was in the thirteenth century.

    14. James Hannam writes "In 1988, Daniel Boorstin's history of science The Discoverers referred to the Middle Ages as 'the great interruption' to mankind's progress." I could not agree more.

      An Amazon reviewer writes: "Hannam's book cannot really challenge the obvious: that nothing in Medieval thinking had an importance for the development of modern science remotely comparable to that of ancient Greek mathematics or of the growth of rigorous experimental science in the Renaissance. At one point Hannam acknowledges that Archimedes's work was incomprehensible to the best medieval minds. His argument about how the doctrine that God is free to do as he pleases freed Medieval philosophers from slavish acceptance of Aristotelianism is neither coherent nor compatible with what almost all other Catholic apologists have written on the same subject.... Source:

      In short, James Hannam is a revisionist historian. NO thanks! I rather study from a REAL historian like Daniel Boorstin.

    15. Yeah, keep blindly trusting non-specialists on the matter at hand and Amazon reviewers with an axe to grind against the Church. That'll get you far into crank territory indeed.

      Go away, you silly troll.

    16. @Anonymous,

      I will quote you directly from Hannam's Amazon page: "James Hannam took a Physics degree at Oxford before training as an accountant." His qualifications in writing a historical text are a flat ZERO. He is an accountant, not a historian. In contrast Daniel Boorstin was a history professor at the University of Chicago.

      Seriously were do these alleged Anonymous's get their Phd's. A Phd in Underwater Basket Weaving from Sister Silly University does not count.

      I rest my case. Another Catholic checkmated by logic and reason.

    17. Haug, you crank, what you did right there is a textbook example of lying by telling the truth. Why did you omit the next sentences which explicitly state Hannam did a PhD at Cambridge in the history and philosophy of science? But hey, thanks for clearing up any doubts that confused readers and honest seekers might still have regarding your reliability (or lack thereof).

      In any case, Hannam's book, which is a concise but rigorous introduction to the subject summarising the academic state of the art, has been praised by several leading historians of science. This is in contrast to Boorstin's pop hit, which barely even mentions the Middle Ages; but when it does it simply repeats the same old long-debunked nonsense such as the Flat Earth Myth (an infallible sign one is not qualified to write on medieval scholarship).

    18. @Anonymous, I apologize for the oversight of not reading Hannam's entire bio. As a former mathematician, I am impressed with ancient scientists such as Thales, Archimedes, Euclid, Pythagoras, but cannot find any significant scientific development during the Dark Ages. Catholics claim great innovation during this time, I claim the exact opposite. I lived in Europe for 4 years and one can still see the engineering achievements of the Romans. The achievements of the Dark Ages superstition, feudalism, corruption of the Latin Vulgate, sin and corruption throughout Catholicism.

      The case against Catholicism is overwhelming!

    19. Props for admitting you didn't read it. Now it'd be great if you admitted you didn't read a history of science book written by an accredited historian of science either. Nor did you read any book on Church history written by an accredited Church historian.

      You say you lived in Europe for four years. Well, Europe is one relatively big and diverse continent. You also said you didn't see any medieval engineering achievement, but tell us then: have you never seen one of those whatchamacallit... gothic cathedrals? Yeah, not impressive enough, it seems.

    20. I have read plenty of church history books, by both secular, Protestant authors, and a few Catholic authors. As a researcher, I know that every side has an axe to grind. That is why one must read from multiple perspectives.

      Regarding Gothic cathedrals, I think they are butt-ugly compared to the Roman and Byzantine architecture that preceded it.

    21. You're free not to like it. But saying those aren't engineering marvels is nonsense. Also, there're plenty of romanesque basilicas in Europe as well, which were of course generally built in the erlier half of the medieval period, in addition to countless instances of Bizantine art especially in Italy (of all places).

      Regarding Church history (as with the history of science, like your comment made crystal clear for anyone who knows the slightest bit about the material), your problem seems to be that you selectively read only authors who generically agree with the conclusions you already hold. The issue here being the fact that those folks will tend to ignore the Catholic arguments (soundly grounded in classical philosophy and in Catholic Tradition). And that's how you end up with people like Bart Ehrman, who dominate mainstream Biblical studies and (very) Early Church history but who don't even realise they're simply following the Occamites and the Reformers in assuming stuff they ought not to assume, in turn begging the question against Catholics, and, not surprisingly, finding out their Protestantised image of the Christian Faith is an incoherent mess.

    22. I have listened to the Catholic arguments and they all ring hollow. For example, the Catholics have frequently misinterpreted the church fathers and distorted church history (even the Orthodox make this claim). Catholic metaphysics is left lacking, considering that 100% of the church was neo-Platonic until the time of Aquinas. Catholic hermeneutics has been fundamentally bankrupt since Augustine - the four senses of Scripture method comes from the Greeks not the Jews.

      Catholic theology is riddled with inconsistency such as Pope Francis blessing homosexual unions and then declaring mortal sin if a man uses a rubber when having intercourse with his wife. Catholic clergy is an affront to God, with liberal Jesuits, bitchy nuns, homosexual, effeminate and alcoholic priests.

      There is NOTHING worth redeeming in Catholicism. It has so corrupted authentic Christianity and strayed away from the core teaching of the Gospel with novel doctrine that there is NO salvation possible for those who trust it.

    23. Catholic theology is riddled with inconsistency such as Pope Francis blessing homosexual unions


    24. Pope Francis was named the Person of the Year by the LGBT magazine The Advocate.-Source:

      Also before he was Pope Francis:
      2010: He comments positively on civil unions. When Argentina was debating legalizing gay marriage, Francis—then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio—reportedly proposed civil unions as an alternative option. ”We believe that we must propose more comprehensive civil union rights than currently exist, but no gay marriage,” Bergoglio’s spokesman, Federico Wals, told Argentina’s Infonews. Source:

      Catholic Church is a cesspool from top to bottom.

    25. @Gerald, I think that you should be a little cautious in your claims as a supporter of Luther, since Luther's own claim was that Lutherans (and all humans) were by definition totally depraved. You must admit that you too are totally depraved.

    26. @Gerald Haug: Pope Francis was named the Person of the Year by the LGBT magazine

      I found the source here. Thank you. But being approved of by sinners does not make someone wrong. So this is the logical fallacy of Red Herring

      You misinterpreted this report, kind sir.

      First, in the report, the Pope never blessed the gay couple directly. Rather a French priest blessed the gay couple and the Pope instructed him that he should bless them in the same manner one would bless a divorced and remarried couple.

      He said that the Roman Catholic Church should treat all people under grave sin in an equitable way, which is consistent with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In fact, the Pope's actions were required by the Bible, which commands priests to "bless, and do not curse." (Romans 12:14)

      [Pope's comment on civil unions]

      Could you give me the context of this comment?

      there is NO salvation possible for those who trust it.

      Did you die, received from Michael a book of everyone who was Catholic, have Michael personally escort you to Hell and checkmark every Catholic you found there, became resurrected, and possess the book with every single name in it checkmarked?

      If you don't have that, then you don't have proof that there is no salvation in the Roman Catholic Church.

    27. @Anonymous,
      I believe you claimed that some of the people on this blog had degrees in the theology. I seriously doubt that. I have yet to see anyone properly articulate anything from Scripture.

      Let me reiterate that I am NOT a Calvinist. Luther was a Calvinist. Not ALL Protestants are Calvinists. Now to the typical canard of Catholics that then say sola-Scriptura is not workable because it causes disunity. Let me say this.

      When Jesus taught his disciples from Scripture it still caused disunity. The Jesus and the apostles had disunity with the Pharisees, Sadducees, Judaizers, and many other heretical sects. It is peoples hardened hearts that is the problem, NOT Sola Scriptura.

      Various outspoken Catholics in the media voice support for the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” voluntary abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, torture of terrorist suspects, women’s ordination, the use of drones as military weapons, and many other issues.

      In reality, the Catholic Church is an amalgam of ideas held together by coercive force. It is a union but not a unity as required in John 17:20–26. This union lowers understanding, replaces rational inquiry, and crushes private judgment. It forces submission to one head in Rome, compelling all to participate in one repetitive rite and enslaving the mind and spirit into a mishmash of contradictory, absurd, and blasphemous opinions.

      Supernatural unity — not merely external union — is at the heart of Christ’s Gospel. Therefore unity is the true mark of the “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” Christ founded.

    28. Proof that there is NO salvation in the Catholic church:

      First salvation in the Old Testament was Always by Faith, never by works. Since God is unchanging salvation in the NT is also by faith and never by works. In contrast, Catholic salvation is a sacrament (or works based) salvation. Here is were the hammer falls.
      From the Catholic catechism.

      “. . . we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed to attain eternal life . . .” (CCC, #2010)

      The word "merit" means that we EARN graces for our and others salvation. Thus the CCC confirms that Catholics have a works based salvation, even though the Catholic church wants to deny this.

      The ONLY way a Catholic can get to heaven is if he leaves the Catholic church, which is exactly what I did. Since I was baptized a Catholic, the Catholic church still considers me for all intensive purposes a Catholic. So I can only recommend that you go to a good Bible believing church.

    29. Jesus NEVER blessed people when they were in sin. Thus it is SIN for a priest to bless a homosexual union. Jesus blessed people who demonstrated faith or repented. He would NEVER have blessed homosexual unions. Similarly, Jesus does NOT bless the Catholic church because He never introduced a ministerial priesthood, papacy, sacraments, Transubstantiation, Marian dogmas, etc.

      Catholics fundamentally are too stupid to read their Bible correctly. I remind my PhD Catholic friend that he is a moron on a regular basis. He also commits theological malpractice regularly.

      So blessing a homosexual couple is UTTER sin, UTTER insanity. Deuteronomy 28 clearly says that by obeying and honoring God in your life (not by being perfect, but by listening to His Word and by honoring Him), you will be blessed going in and blessed going out. Disobedience and wrong theology brings a curse on a person. Thus look how cursed the Catholic clergy is. Examine their alcoholism, depression, pedophilia, homosexuality, drug use, apostate beliefs, etc. A person with an ounce of discernment would run from the RCC as fast as possible.

    30. Catholics fundamentally are too stupid to read their Bible correctly. I remind my PhD Catholic friend that he is a moron on a regular basis.

      "Whosoever shallsay, 'thou fool,' shall be in danger of hellfire." (Matthew 5:22)

    31. Proverbs 18:2 -- A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

      Proverbs 1:7 ESV --- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

      Paul did not consider the Judaizers his brothers (Even though the Judaizers believed in the resurrection). Similarly, I do not consider Catholics my brother. Why? The Catholic catechism says that Muslims worship the same god as Catholics. Since, Protestants do not worship the same God as Muslims, ergo we do not worship the same god as Catholics. Conclusion: Catholics and Protestants are NOT brothers. May I add that a fool takes a verse out of context as in Matt 5:22.

      Matthew 5:22 ESV --- But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

      Consequently, since Catholics are NOT my brother, I can say that Catholics are fools for listening to the false theology of Rome. An yet another Catholic distorts Scripture and commits theological malpractice.

    32. @Gerald Haug if it is possible that Jesus's clear and simple warning that anyone who calls another person a fool will go to hell forever and ever cannot be taken literally in consideration of other verses, then is it possible that Paul's words that salvation is by faith alone cannot be taken literally in consideration of other verses?

      You did not give me proof, kind sir, but rather your interpretation that all Catholics are going to Hell. But in order to know whether your interpretation is correct, I would need you to procure for me that book from the Archangel Michael if you will.

    33. Gerald, the more you post here, the more clear you make it that there is something wrong with you psychologically. You are not convincing anyone here of anything.

      Normal, healthy people don't go on and on and on the way that you do. You are "leaking information" as some people like to say.

      Please. Find something constructive to do with your time besides leaving these relentless, repetitive, unenlightening comments of yours.

    34. Cogniblog, just stop wasting your time with this guy. If you ran into some wild eye ranter on the street you would know within a minute to walk away and not to engage. Apply that same lesson here.

    35. @Anonymous perhaps you are correct so I will cease. Thank you for you sage advice.

    36. Matthew 12:34
      “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”

      Jesus had no problem addressing false teaching and warning false teachers. He did not consider these false teachers his brothers. Notice what Jesus says: "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt 12:50) Perhaps there is something we can learn about the importance of identifying what is true and addressing what is false. When Jesus returns, He is coming for His Church. Muslims and Catholics worship the same god and are NOT part of His church. Either are Mormons, JW's, liberal Protestants, Buddhists, Hindus, and others part of Christ's Church.

      Romans 16:17-18 ---Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. Paul, Peter, Jesus NEVER taught a centralized teaching authority. In reality they taught the opposite. Thus further evidence there is no salvation of Catholics who have a distorted eclessiastical model that is NOT biblical.

      There are more than enough priests and philosophers using smooth and flatter speech to deceive the masses. If a person cannot understand Scripture independently of a teaching authority, he or she is in no position to know if he or she has been listening to smooth and flattering speech. JPII was the master of smooth and flattering words. On October 27, 1986, with due permission of John Paul II, the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhist monks of his sect placed a small statue of Buddha over the tabernacle of St. Peter Church in Assisi.

      Philosophers are the master sophists and the Bible warns: "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."(Colossians 2:8) . A-T is a case study in building on the human tradition of Aristotle and it is a philosophy that has held Catholicism captive and has obfuscated the spiritual realm and the earthly realm.

      Regarding my mental sanity: I can assure you it is top notch. I have an A+ marriage, multitudes of friends, sharp intellect, good health, and do not drink alcohol, or need medication, do drugs, and have traveled extensively. Fluent in German, solid in math, physics, fluent in theology, church history, and Copleston's guide to Philosophy and quite knowledgable with the writings of Plantinga and William Lane Craig. Furthermore, my wife does not mind me ranting against her Catholic family. Just for the record I rant against liberal Protestants as well.

      Many Catholics struggle with their faith -- I don't. Even Mother Theresa had a dark night of the soul. Why? Because she and multitudes of Catholics have hitched their faith to a counterfeit Christianity that will leave dead in their trespasses.

      No my friends, you guys are suffering from delusion. Your affective dimension has been corroded by the emasculating influence of Catholicism that you are in no position to correctly assertain my mental health. Seriously, a person who listens to council from a church filled with buggery, depression, pedophilia, Jesuit subversion, feminism, and forged documents is in no position to challenge my mental health.

    37. correctly assertain my


    38. Yes, you can challenge my spelling. Thanks for the correction :-).

    39. Gerald, why do you lie so much?

    40. I don’t agree with your accusation that I am a liar. How did you come to the conclusion that I lied?

  11. In addition, we typically arrive at truths with an admixture of some error. Our right to pursue and hold the truths we duly discover has a backhand protection of the error we accidentally arrive at interspersed with truth. We are to be permitted to hold such error in order that our grasp of what IS true is not defeated; thus state restraint of error (such as false religion) must be limited or qualified so as to respect our right to hold the truth that is mixed with error. (cf Christ's admonition to let the weeds grow along with the grain, and sort them out only after the harvest.)

    1. St. Thomas would have told you that truth mixed with error is not truth. State restraint of false religion had less to do with your right to believe what you wanted than with your right to propagate falsehood and tear the truth out of the hearts of the more fortunate.

  12. It is interesting to note that Noonan's contraceptive arguments were preceded by and to some extent very similar to his arguments for a change in the Church's usury doctrine. The tactics deployed (and in usury largely accepted) against ancient Church teaching are nothing especially new.

  13. If the Bible is a Catholic book, how can Catholics, who do not allow bishops to marry, account for this passage: “A bishop then, must be blameless, married, reserved, prudent, of good conduct, hospitable, a teacher . . . He should rule well his own household, keeping his children under control and perfectly respectful. For if a man cannot rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:2–5).

    1. If the bible is a protestant book, how can protestants, who do not have celibacy, account for this passage: "12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”" (Mat 19:12)

    2. Matthew 19:3-12 is a discourse on marriage. So one needs to read verses 10-12 in this light. The Rabbis had accumulated sayings about unhappy marriages, such as a "man is saved from hell for his sins been expiated on earth". Jesus is using the analogy of the eunuch to stress the importance of marriage.

      The Apostle Paul as a member of the Sanhedrin had to have been married. Probably his wife left him when he became a Christian, and as a result he became a eunuch for the kingdom.

      These verses have nothing to do with bishops. They have everything to do with context.

    3. The passage is not only about marriage it is also about celibacy. Our Lord proposes celibacy as a way superior to marriage.

  14. 1 Tim 4:1-3 "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth."

    The Roman Catholic requirement of celibacy is a sad example of the Church taking something that the Bible encourages and transforming it into a requirement in order to protect its own interests. Celibacy became the official requirement of the Roman Catholic Church due to the practice of nepotism. Church leaders were giving their children positions in the church, despite a lack of any qualifications or training.

    As a result of this forced celibacy we have a church led astray by deceiving spirits and struggling to overcome pedophilia, adultery, homosexuality, and other forms of sexual abuse. Now ask yourself, how do you know what the Catholic Church teaches is not the doctrine of demons (see 1 Tim 4:1)?

    1. Aren't you being a little closedminded?

    2. Even if you are correct that "forced celibacy" is bad, that does not make celibacy bad. Your form of Protestantism does not have celibacy (Eunuchs for the kingdom) at all. So your form of Protestantism is not biblical.

  15. Closeminded? Yet another scandal in the Catholic Church. Sexual abuse against nuns!!

    Living in Denial is a trademark among Catholics. This is no different than the first Century Jews, who believed that God would never destroy Jerusalem. Yet 1 million self-deceived Jews died in Jerusalem in 70 AD, ALL of whom went to Hell. 70 AD marked the end of Judaism as God's chosen people.

    This is the same destiny of all the self-deceived Catholics, who falsely believe that God is going to somehow rescue the Catholic Church. My Catholic friend thinks he will be saved because he has continuity to the first century church. I tell him that he is utterly foolish. God left the Catholic Church a long time ago, and all that is left is a carcass of dead, insipid, and idolatrous religion, which has no continuity back to first century Christianity.

    So Tomislav, your faith has not failed you yet, but as a man in his 20s, give it another 20 years and the dark night of the soul will lead you into despair and depression. God commands ALL his chosen to leave apostate Christianity.

    1. @Gerald Haug are you aware of the number of conservative Protestants pastors who are caught having gay sex each year? There is sexual immorality on both sides, so you're being unfair in singling out Catholics. A fair person would tally up the number of conservative Protestants who have gay sex and the number of Catholics who commit sex abuse and do a comparison.

      I analyzed your post. You made four assertions all without proof.

      * All Catholics live in denial.
      * God left the Catholic Church a long time ago.
      * The Catholic Church is dead, insipid, and idolatrous.
      * There is no continuity with the Catholic Church to first-century Christianity.

      For (#1), do you think all of the holy people who were saints were in denial? Do you think Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was in denial? Or Saint Benedicta of the Cross? Read up on their biographies and come back to me.

      One of these can never be verified (#2). Unless Jesus Christ comes from the clouds and says something, there's no way to prove or disprove God's opinion on the Roman Catholic Church. If I show you a Marian miracle, you could do what the Pharisees did and claim it was done by the power of the Devil. So not even a miraculous demonstration could prove that God is present in the Catholic Church.

      As for the Catholic church being idolatrous, I have found that that's conservative American Protestants projecting their own idolatry so they can cope with their guilt. Their conception of God is far more self-serving and idolatrous than any statue of a saint is. That's why they have problems with greed, porn, hatred, being mean to one other, and being holier-than-thou (a term that comes from Isaiah 65:5). And I would be careful about calling people fools. Do you think it is possible that God will make you feel all the feelings you hurt as punishment? Jesus Christ taught you the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. If you want to be called a fool, call other people fools. If you don't want to be called a fool, then don't call other people fools. The golden rule is the most important commandment of Christianity.

      We have a Marian devotion from the third century. So if the Catholic Church went astray, it went astray at a very very very early age. This makes me skeptical of your claim that "there's no continuity to first century Christianity."

    2. I'll just mention the fact that unless one is committed to something like the latria/dulia distinction, the category of "idolatry" is arbitrary, since the distinction between revering God and revering worthy human beings turns out to be one of degree.

    3. @Cogniblog, Look I was NOT a mama's boy growing up. My mother had little tolerance for many American or Slavic women that moved in emotional sentimentalism. It is clear that you are a sentimentalist. Sentimentalism is a cousin of Gnosticism.

      Consequently, I have no problem calling people morons, fools, dumbass, or hypocrite. My Catholic Phd friend is the poster boy in this regard. He considers himself a Catholic in good staying. I say, how can this be? You practice contraception. Thus you are in mortal sin, and what makes it even worse is that you partake of the Eucharist every Sunday while in a state of mortal sin, thus creating even more sin. You are bringing a curse on your whole family. Thus he is a worldclass dumbass, hypocrite, moron and has no clue what it means to be a Catholic. Statistics show that 90% of Catholic couples practice contraception. Therefore, I can say with great confidence that these Catholics are dumbasses and too stupid to realize that they in mortal sin. Functionally, they are spiritually brain dead.

    4. Marian devotion is a strong cousin of sentimentalism and that is why it flourished in the 1800s in France. I reject your claims about Edit Stein and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Both are shrouded in controversy.

      Edit Stein: Critics argued that she was murdered because she was Jewish by birth, rather than for her Catholic faith, and that, in the words of Daniel Polish, the beatification seemed to "carry the tacit message encouraging conversionary activities" because "official discussion of the beatification seemed to make a point of conjoining Stein's Catholic faith with her death with 'fellow Jews' in Auschwitz".(Source Wiki)

      Saint Thérèse of Lisieux: After her death, her sisters refashioned Thérèse for public consumption, manipulating her legacy and actively stimulating interest in her. Céline concealed photographs of Thérèse, instead creating a new face for her through highly sentimental portraits. Pauline heavily edited Thérèse's autobiography, l'Histoire d'une âme (The Story of a Soul), sanitising it for an audience that preferred saccharine metaphors of flowers and doves over Thérèse's sometimes dark explorations of the human relationship to God. But the Martin sisters achieved an incredible feat with the limited social capital afforded them as petit-bourgeois, Catholic women in late 19th-century, secularist France. They created an international cult. Were it not for Pauline and Céline it is likely no-one would ever have heard of this woman who died at just 24in a poor convent in a provincial town.(Source:

      Yet, again the Catholic masses are duped by sentimentalism to believe a fabricated history of a saint. As I tell my Catholic friend. If you grew a pair, you would learn to think like a man instead of an emasculated cowardly man walking on eggshells.

      An to paraphrase an aphorism: There are lies, damn-lies, and then their is Catholicism.

    5. The Catholic church went off the rails in around 120 AD. This is well documented. The prime mover in this error was the idea of venerating relics, which was common in pagan religions and crept into early Christianity. Veneration of relics was justified because based on an incorrect understanding of Christian eschatology. Get your eschatology straight and then you see the whole enterprise of relics rests in the occult. Get it wrong, well then become an idiot like John MacArthur or relic crusading Catholic.

      As a sentimentalist you are too blinded to think objectively, but the earliest church fathers record NOTHING of Mary's Assumption. Historians recognize that the silence of history show that the Assumption of Mary was a myth that developed over centuries. This myth has now totally emasculated Catholicism. That is why the church is filled with limp-wristed Catholic priests and bishops, who are more knowledgeable about buggery than Bible.

  16. @thePhdPhilosophers,
    Since A-T has no problem with evolution, is it not possible that the final cause of an amoeba is a lion, or wolf, or eagle, or whale, or even something else? If evolution is true, then maybe nothing has arrived at its final cause?

    1. I am not a fan of evolution myself. There has been a bad tendency among Catholics to ignore the Church Fathers on evolution and the age of the Earth because conservative American Protestants are perfervid about it. But the fact is that all of the Church Fathers were Young-Earth Creationists. So your concerns are well-founded.

      And if you took five seconds to research the links on the sidebar and blogroll to your right, you could find that *gasp* there are some Thomists who believe Thomism is incompatible with evolution! So your points have been considered and addressed.

      And Catholics generally speaking don't have that nasty Protestant habit of clinging to one pastor-teacher as the big brother and pledging uniformity and total fealty to him. Edward Feser's writings are not the John MacArthur of Thomism. Thomism has no John MacArthur. Not even Aquinas is the John MacArthur of Thomism (although he is the foundation of it and extremely important). Thomism is a living intellectual movement that has many thinkers and many perspectives but they are all united on a peculiar worldview that has stood the test of time, possibly because it is true! Issues and theses are debated and nobody is told to line up in rank-and-file.

    2. I would never trust a Catholic to exegete the Gospels if he did not properly exegete the book of Genesis. ALL Church fathers believed in a young earth, Jesus, Peter, and Paul ALL believed in a global flood. Now the modern Catholic says that there was no universal deluge. I say what? Are you insane!! Jesus, Peter, and Paul were convinced in the flood. So if they were wrong about the flood then they were total dumbasses and I have NO confidence in the rest of the NT since they are the three major figures of the NT. Thus in one fell swoop Catholics undermine the NT.

      Seriously, Catholics are worldclass dumbasses.

      Also, I don't trust any philosopher to talk about the intersection of science and philosophy who cannot do basic physics, perform an integral, or do basic linear differential equations.

      Flunk those preconditions any philosopher postulating the meaning of matter, substances, forms, essences, etc. is utterly unqualified.

      A-T is NOT a thriving community.It is a fringe topic in philosophy, and philosophy departments are being shutdown at major universities. Most of it is garbage, corrosive, and speculative. NONE of it is provable or probative. It only qualifies as mental onanism.

    3. I used A-T to convince my Catholic Phd friend that playing golf during a drought was a sin. He agreed that my use of A-T reasoning was sound, but we still enjoyed a round of golf. I reminded him many times that he was a guilt-riddled moron and a hypocrite.

      A-T is a weak metaphysics. Final causes can mean about anything a person wants them to mean. Like the final causes of molecules is DNA. My father a conservative Catholic with two Phds would say this is where a philosopher, who knows NOTHING about science says stupid stuff.

      The reason I left A-T and Catholicism was that it was fundamentally too stupid, too hypocritical, steeped in superstition, filled with buggery, sentimentalism, feeble-mindedness.

      I became a young earth Evangelical precisely because it turns a boy into a man and has zero tolerance for feeble-minded wishy-washy thinking.

    4. So, I can say with extreme confidence. NO catechism Catholic will go to heaven. ALL are dead in their trespasses. The only way a Catholic can get into heaven is if they leave the RCC. I give the same council to Mormons, JWs, Christian Scientists, etc. Leave your god forsaken institution and enter the TRUE church lest God smite you for participating in idolatrous Christianity.

      Catholic idolatry occurs at every mass. Catholic claim the priest utters the words of institution and by magic the fullness of Christ enters the Eucharist. This is why Eucharistic adoration occurs throughout Europe and parts of the US. If Christ is NOT in the Eucharist then it is pure 100% idolatry. NO exceptions.

      Amazingly, 75% of Catholics do not believe in Transubstantiation. I had to correct my Catholic Phd friend that this was a required belief of Catholicism. He says, ironically I made him a better Catholic. I say, no the final cause of all your stupidity, hypocrisy, guilt, fear, sentimentalism, struggles with your faith has made you a Catholic. Catholicism is for dilettantes and dabblers, not for those who have rigorously studied church history, theology, creation science, philosophy, archaeology, and formal logic.

    5. Also, I don't trust any philosopher to talk about the intersection of science and philosophy who cannot do basic physics, perform an integral, or do basic linear differential equations.

      I have good news for you. I am a Master's student in mathematics and I can do all of these things (once given a refresher). I know what a Wronskian is and I proved Picard's iteration theorem for finding the solution to any first-order differential equation. Don't make assumptions, kind sir, about who I am.

    6. Gerald,

      You are the smartest man that I have ever had the pleasure to read.

      I am particularly impressed that you cite men like Luther, Aquinas, etc. whom you have never actually read.

    7. I have read about 250 of the 3000 pages that comprise the complete Summa. My judgment of Aquinas is firmly rooted in the piss poor syllogisms that run throughout The Summa. Feser and others cherry-pick the best of The Summa, but a large percentage of it is pure garbage.

    8. You have not read the Summa. The Summa was written in Latin and you cannot read Latin. What you have read is a translation of the Summa. Translations are merely interpretations of a text.

      Since you cannot read either German or Latin, then you cannot read Luther.

      A translation may be good, bad, or something in between, but without a knowledge of the original language you will not be able to judge whether it is good or bad.

    9. @Cogniblog,
      Good for you that you are a math major and well versed on uniqueness and existence theorem. Also kudos for being a young earth creationist.

      Now for the manly question, have you taken any courses in tensors? If so do you know how to extended the four dimensional tensor to a fifth dimension?

      If you can do that then we need to have a talk.

    10. No I haven't needed to use tensors in my work. But I did have to learn about the tensor product construction for abstract algebra. So I know that it is a multilinear map that is invariant under coordinate transformations. :)

      You have a right to disagree about Thomism but you should understand how an intelligent person could choose to believe it.

    11. Yes, we have a right to disagree about Thomism. I also have the right to call his work, just like Aquinas did, a bunch of "straw".

      My objection to A-T stems from its ludicrous assertion that God is Simple. The Incarnation is a violation of simplicity. God's distinct attributes are a violation of simplicity. Act/Potency is not a disjunction and thus violates the rules of a formal logic system.

      Final Causes and Powers based metaphysics exists only at certain times under certain conditions.

      A Scripture that puts serious doubt on Final Causes comes in 2 Peter 3:4-6: "...Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation. But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed."

      I doubt many on this blog believe in an actual global deluge. Well the fact of history is that there was a flood and things do change. So Final Causes is a very tenuous thing for it is only applicable at various times under specific circumstance. In short, there was a whole lot of occasionalism necessary at creation, the flood, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and other miracles. In short, I would not use A-T to be a worthy tool to discuss anything about God and His nature. In short it is an apophatic cluster bleep.

    12. @Cogniblog, Tomislav
      An intelligent person may believe in A-T, but a more intelligent person rejects it lock, stock, and smoking barrel.

    13. Sweet Mother of Allâh.

      This subthread is comedy gold. I hope Dr. Feser never bans Gerald Haug from the blog.

    14. Sweet Mother of Allâh.

      Now that's a phrase you don't hear every day!

    15. @Tony

      Heh, I'm sure the Most-Holy Theotokos wouldn't mind me calling her by that epithet.

    16. @Cogniblog:

      «all of the Church Fathers were Young-Earth Creationists»

      Maybe, but they were also geocentrists, and several were flat-earthers (Cosmas Indicopleustes comes to mind). The pertinent question is whether they considered the belief in a recent origin of the world to be of dogmatic importance. The answer is no.

      There is also the issue of the distinction between what the Bible says and what it asserts. A simple example would be Isaiah 40:22, viz., "it is He Who is seated above the circle of the earth" etc. Evidently the text says that the earth is a circle, but that is not what it asserts -- what it is asserting is that the God of Israel is the Lord of the earth.

      Now this distinction can be applied to the Biblical text as a whole -- the Pentateuch and the former prophets (Joshua-2 Chronicles) might say that the earth is a few thousand years old, but that is not what the text asserts, because this section of the Old Testament is not an instance of historiography, as any biblical scholar will point out, but belongs to the genre of epic. The narrative of the Old Testament forms the national epic of Israel, just as the Shâhnâmeh is the national epic of Īrân.

      So the relevant question here is, did the Fathers distinguish between what the text says and what it asserts? Did they all see the biblical text as straightforward historiography, or did at least some think otherwise? The answer to the latter question is yes, at least St. Augustine and St. Gregory of Nyssa could see that at least parts of the text were not historical, despite superficial appearances to that effect.

    17. One should say that Israel began pretty late in the Old Testament, and that it was not a nation in the modern sense.

    18. @Miguel Cervantes, yes, I agree. I was using "nation" in a loose sense, as in an ethnolinguistic entity.

      And whilst Israel indeed began late in the Old Testament, chronologically speaking, the narratives of the patriarchal age were to serve as a prologue to the story of Israel.

    19. A prologue to the history of redemption which the Israelites were meant to serve. It is incidentally also the history of a people. To call it their national history might be a repeat of the mistake that put so many of them out of the narrative altogether, but able to become a nineteenth century style nation just like the rest.

    20. @Miguel Cervantes:

      Why not both? The editors and compilers of what we call the Old Testament intended the Pentateuch and the Former Prophets to be both a national epic and the prologue of the redemption that they looked forward to.

    21. Incidentally it could be, but it cannot be compared to any other national or religious story as fashions in biblical study suggest. Only the Church can understand the intentions of the Old Testament writers because they really were its Old Testament.

    22. @Miguel Cervantes:

      I would distinguish. The Old Testament writers themselves needn't have fully and explicitly understood the patterns they were setting into the narrative, but in the light of the Incarnation, they are clear. What the Old Testament _means_ is ultimately shown in the life of the Catholic Church.

    23. They were pretty explicit about the story not being like that of other nations and spent most of their time pointing out the essentially religious reason for the existence of Israel, that the only remarkable thing about them was that God wanted them to serve him and revealed how.

    24. Sure. That doesn't preclude the narrative of the Old Testament from belonging to the genre of epic.

    25. Or from employing a semitic language so similar to the rest. No matter how many similarities we find whole point of it was unique, alien to and unlike the rest.

    26. To call it their national history might be a repeat of the mistake...

      but it cannot be compared to any other national or religious story as fashions in biblical study suggest.

      They were pretty explicit about the story not being like that of other nations and spent most of their time pointing out the essentially religious reason for the existence of Israel,

      Whatever ELSE is the case, the writers of the Pentateuch and the later books of the OT were certainly conceiving of the people of Israel as "a people", and in their account it is a people bound together both by descent from a common ancestor and by divine decree in a covenant. The former (common descent) is a sufficient basis, all on its own, to call them "a nation", for the word's origin is "natus", birth. God himself tells Abraham he will make of Abraham and his descendants "a great nation". One does not need to add the modern-historical accidentals that in these days usually and typically pertain to nations to (quite properly) think of Israel in the OT as a nation.

      The Old Testament writers themselves needn't have fully and explicitly understood the patterns they were setting into the narrative,

      I don't know how Protestants view this, but the Catholic view of God and human authorship of the biblical texts is that God inspired each author so that each author DID both see and understand the primary sense of the text, and this includes texts which are primarily prophecy of the coming Christ. The moral, allegorical, and anagogical senses are always built on the foundation of the first sense, which the human writer had in mind. So, while the writer of Genesis might not have realized that Joseph being betrayed by his brothers and going down to Egypt is a type of the Christ, he would have grasped the promise of the redeemer to Adam and Eve and the continuation of that promise in Abraham. When God told Abraham his descendants would be a great nation, the writer of Genesis foresaw Israel as a nation, at least in the ancient grasp of that concept.

    27. What led to this discussion was the comment: "The narrative of the Old Testament forms the national epic of Israel just as the Shahnameh forms the national epic of Iran." Again, it's incidentally the history of a people, and one not comparable to any other. The Old Testament is firstly the history of God speaking to men. We also have Adam, Noah and Melchisedec etc, who were not Israelites. This history of God speaking to men, no matter what its culture, genre or historical setting, cannot be comparable to the story of any other people and we have no knowledge of God speaking to mankind elsewhere. No comparison.
      The old error of trying to make the national aspect the first aspect is what led so many in the Old Testament to fall out of the story.

      19th century romanticist nationalism and conservatism see religion as originating with a people, and good for that reason. For us, as for the Israelites, such notion leads to the loss of real faith, even though it may be true of every other religion. That's the point I was trying to make and I agree with you comment.

  17. I will admit that I cannot read Latin. However, I have read and still read "die Luther Bibel regelmäßig". My German is quite good.

    So Mr. Anonymous let me here about your academic qualifications.

    1. @Anonymous, I guess you cannot read German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. By you standards nobody has every read the Bible since we can only read translations. Believe it or not most of what we know about Aristotle and Plato comes via translations, so I guess we really don't know anything about them either.

      Using your logic you probably know more about Playdo than Plato.

  18. @Cogniblog
    You said you weren't going to talk to Mr. Haug anymore. I know I can't stop you, but this is a friendly reminder.

    1. You are right. :)

    2. "I win, I win, I win" said Mad Madam Mim, after cheating blatantly. But she hadn't won, because what she had caught was malignalitaloptereosis.

  19. @Anonymous, I see you are quoting from a cartoon. This confirms your intellectual level is closer to a child than of a person who understands German, Latin, Greek or Hebrew. BTW, Make sure you get enough nap time.

  20. @Cogniblog,
    Proof that the Madonna of Guadalupe is a fake.

    --If Juan Diego never existed, I would be wondering if the evidence for Peter in Rome were also a fake.
    The whole enterprise of Catholicism is built and supported by fake apparitions, forgeries, and manufactured relics. There cannot be any salvation for those that support such a corrupt institution. The fires of Hell await all those who are complicit with the anti-Christ church of Rome.