Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thoughts on Tradition

Our discussion is now moving towards tradition and authority. Doesn't it always? Where do we get truth and how do we know when we have it? Those are always big. My words are in bold. CD host is the indented and not bolded.
Catholicism is a religion. It is not a political party.

I agree. The proper political analogy to Catholicism would be something like "Western Democracies", a political ideology not a political party.
Actually the best comparison to any political entity is by an anti-type. That is Catholicism can be understood as being what political entities can never be. Protestant churches act as political institutions. It is when I understood that that I realized that they could never give me what I was trying to get from them -transcendent truth. Catholicism is about grace building on nature. Politics is about the clash of human ideas.
On the other hand the Conservative Bishops like Cardinal Dolan in the United States are a political faction within the church. His battles Carol Keehan about who speaks authoritatively on the matter of Catholic healthcare is a political battle for control.
A political faction is precisely what bishops like Cardinal Dolan are not. Bishops teaching in unity with the pope are a gift of God. Carol Keehan is not a bishop and she is not really in unity with the pope in her teachings. Equating the two is losing track of the truth and just looking at the issue as a political debate. We can't do that. God gives us leaders. We need to follow them.
So we don't find something that will please the largest number of people. We pursue the truth of God as revealed by Jesus and clarified by His church.

The people we are discussing are the vatican authorities and the Bishops. They are the ones doing the "clarifying". They have to make the choices between alternatives. They have to resolve "apparent conflicts" between one aspect of the deposit of faith and another. They are the ones that recently had to decide after centuries that Jesus didn't really reveal the doctrine creation and instead was actually preaching traducianism.
You seem to see some problem here. We look to them for leadership and they give it. Did the bishops actually say  traducianism is a part of the deposit of faith or are you putting words in their mouth? You have to be careful there. But yes, they would be the ones to clarify such matters. I have a suspicion that you are trying to impose and either/or on them and they are not accepting that.

We don't persecute anyone. We believe sex is ordered towards procreation and that sodomy is a distortion of sex. the question is whether or not that is true.

No its not. By and large that it is not the question at all, no one cares much what the Catholic church believes is the order of sexuality. The question is the church actively engaging in activities designed to use state pressure to make the lives of gay people worse. Support for expulsion from the military, bans on adoption, bans on teaching, bans on receiving partnership benefits, no protection against employment discrimination, etc... If it were not for churches using state power to coerce people to their religious views, this whole argument would be far far less heated.
 Actually it is about truth. The state can and does ignore the church. In fact, the state is abusing its power to try and force the Catholic bishops to change their teachings. It is doing that precisely because the Catholic church is right. If it was wrong nobody would care what it teaches. But the truth of what she says is confirmed by people's consciences. They know it. So they want to stop it with force. All the coercion is by the state against the church.There has been no coercion the other way at all. So you are living in a fantasy world.
Tradition is actually on the side of a truth first, evangelism second approach. Catholics were just not following their own tradition for a time.

That's an arbitrary definition of tradition. It turns tradition into whatever you want it to be. I'm going to use an objective definition: whatever Catholics were doing is the Catholic tradition.
I think you are misunderstanding here. I was not defining tradition here. I was saying that what the protestants were doing in  the 70's is very much in keeping with the totality of Catholic tradition. So when the Catholics started doing it more recently they were becoming more Catholic. Sure they were looking more like evangelicals too. That is not that important.

The definition "whatever Catholics were doing is the Catholic tradition" is a bit problematic. Catholics can fall into sin. That does not make that sin part of Catholic tradition. There is often a distinction made between tradition and Tradition. I don't like that because capitalization does not really work for me to make a word different. But there is sacred tradition. That is historical Catholic teaching weighted by authority. The teaching of the council get greatest weight. Then authoritative pronouncements by popes. then doctors, saints, bishops, etc. But then individual teachings are weighed by how long and how strong the church has believed them. Something that has been reiterated by many popes over many generations would be stronger than something taught by one pope in a less authoritative manner and not really brought up again. We do have the notion of infallibility but that is really just the highest peak of this hierarchy.

So saying "whatever Catholics were doing is the Catholic tradition" ends up putting Hans Kung in the same category as Cardinal Ratzinger. Both did what they did as Catholics. Both were celebrated by some Catholics and ridiculed by others. But one was endorsed by the magisterium and one was criticized by the magisterium. So even though both strands of thought were part of Catholicism one is part of Catholic tradition and one is not. It becomes even clearer as time goes on. Who get canonized? Who gets quoted in official church documents? These are all important clues as to which ideas are being embraced by the church and which ones are being left behind.
For example on the Church's relations with the Jews. Antisemitism was a very old error. Just being old does not make it part of sacred tradition

Anti-Semitism the belief that Jews are genetically defective so that baptism is not fully effectual in making them part of European civilization, I'd say was mostly opposed by the Western Rite Catholic church. Yes there were Catholics who believed in the Aryan Christ, but it I wouldn't consider this part of mainstream Catholicism. Particularly if you consider the personal anti-Semitism of Pius IX and Pius XII, the fact that they didn't really do very much I think indicates how inhospitable Catholicism was to a racial religion. 
So you get the example. That is great. The cheap shot at Popes Pius IX and Pius XII is unfortunate. Pope Pius XII has been attacked more recently so I have done some reading and I know the accusations of anti-Semitism against him are horse-pucky. My guess is the same is true for Pope Pius IX.
If you replace "antisemitism" with being "anti-judaic" then I'd say of course it was part of the tradition. And this is a good example to work because we are both opposed to it so there isn't any disagreement about the actual policy. The bible itself screams anti-judaic theology:
Hebrews: Judaism is the burned out dead husk of a formerly valid religion
John: Jews are used as the symbol for those who knowingly reject the wisdom of God / light.
Paul: Judaism as an ethnic covenant has passed and via. rebirth in Jesus gentiles are entitled to the promises of Old Testament.
The New Testament says Judaism is to be rejected in favor of Christianity. No surprise there. 
Replacement theology was part of Catholic theology precisely because it was a consistent teaching of the church. Pius IX felt justified in using state power in Italy to persecute his Jewish population because of tradition not in spite of it. After WWII the Catholic complicity in the Holocaust was a major source of embarrassment. So the teaching changed a little but the emphasis changed a lot. The tradition was, and still is, anti-Judaic.  
I am surprised you seem to swallow every anti-Catholic legend out there. You can think critically about the Catholic church but you can't think critically about this. Seems a little slanted to me.

http://catholicinsight.com/online/christianjewish/article_264.shtml
http://www.catholic.com/documents/how-pius-xii-protected-jews
I think it was pretty much a disaster for Nancy Pelosi.
http://old.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-120.shtml

I don't see that as being a disaster for Nancy Pelosi, why because the church hierarchy disagrees with her? She acknowledged this disagreement in the original statement. 
If I declare that the earth is flat and acknowledge that NASA disagrees with me does it follow that I didn't make a fool of myself? But it is worse than that. If she said the NY Times believes something and the NY Times editorial board disagreed with her then nobody would say that is OK because she knew they would disagree. That would make it worse. Somehow she feels she can disagree with the church hierarchy about church teaching and not get that she is rejecting the Catholic faith. She should just admit that the Catholic faith is pro-life and she rejects the Catholic faith. That is honest.
The USCCB are to put it bluntly, lying. The definition of abortion changed. Their implication that the definition of abortion was consistent with the one in the middle ages is simply false, and provably false. One just has to read the very passages she points to in speeches on this topic. As for "uninformed" I have yet to hear any matter of factual knowledge we possess today that was not present in the middle ages that substantially changes the theories of that time.
The definition of abortion changed. But what is called an abortion now was called contraception then. But both abortion and contraception are immoral. So what the USCCB says is true. Pelosi is confused. I thinks she wants to be confused. She wants to be able to throw up her hands and declare the issue to be so complex. It is not. The Catechism clarifies matters quite nicely. Again, we have a living magisterium. Catholics are not supposed to just declare their interpretation of scripture and tradition to be right. They are supposed to take leadership from their bishops and pope.



33 comments:

  1. Randy --

    This entire response is remarkably question begging to the point about politics within the church. Pretty much this boils down to while the activities the church is engaging in may look like politics, they aren't politics because God is guiding them. Even if that were true about God's guidance I'm not sure how that changes things from being politics. They are still political just your invisible friend likes one side and doesn't like another. The same way as biblical wars are still wars, just one side has divine favor.

    But more importantly, the context of this debate was in your critique of atheist morality. Within atheism it can't even be suggested that God can guide anything, due to problems like non existence. Within a Catholic context, or even a Christian context these issues of authority being granted by God are meaningful. But I don't see this as coming down to authority since I don't see this direction as being fruitful at least in the atheist context. In other's they are important.

    Catholicism is about grace building on nature. Politics is about the clash of human ideas.

    I think you realize you are question begging there. Lots of human ideas claim to be transcendent truths. I don't see anything particularly unique about the Catholic ones that make them really transcendent, and quite often they are tied to western society in a way that makes them also impossible to be transcendent.

    Bishops teaching in unity with the pope are a gift of God. Carol Keehan is not a bishop and she is not really in unity with the pope in her teachings. Equating the two is losing track of the truth and just looking at the issue as a political debate.

    Well yes. My assertion, and the point in the debate originally, was that materially this looks like politics and how Catholic doctrine was decided politically. Whether one side has magically properties or not was irrelevant to the earthly political dimension, as well as something I don't agree with. Besides, assume I said that I have it on good authority that Carol Keehan was personally authorized in her opinions by the Invisible Pink Unicorn and the IPU overrides Yahweh.

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  2. Did the bishops actually say traducianism is a part of the deposit of faith or are you putting words in their mouth?

    Pope Anastasius II "it is heresy to say that the intellectual soul is transmitted with the seed". Remember the intellectual soul being what makes us human and not animal.

    Pope Benedict XVI "embryos are dynamic, autonomous individuals"

    I'm putting words in their mouths, they have never been honest enough to say that after 1500 years of condemning traducianism as heresy they were wrong since the Pope subscribes to it. The church's teaching for 1500 years couldn't have been more explicit: sex creates something morally equivalent to a vegetable that over time becomes an animal and then a human. There is no way to back off from a teaching that explicit and say that the modern doctrine doesn't involve change.

    But we shouldn't be guessing here the Catholic Vice President of the United States and at the time the Catholic Speaker of the House stood behind a statement that Pope Benedict XVI and his predecesor on a vital matter of faith and morals was preaching heresy. I understand that according to Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for that to happen. So I'm sure there is eventually going to be some sort of gooblygook about how the modern position isn't asserting that sex creates humans even though it clearly is. And it is going to boil down to "mystery", which is the typical word for believing blatantly contradictory things. But to an outside objective observer, which is the viewpoint that makes sense here if we are going to assert that Catholic doctrine is consistent to a non-believer, that isn't going to hold water.

    To claim that the magisterium doesn't change doctrine must mean that in an objective sense doctrines don't change. Otherwise it is a meaningless statement.

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  3. This entire response is remarkably question begging to the point about politics within the church. Pretty much this boils down to while the activities the church is engaging in may look like politics, they aren't politics because God is guiding them.
    I agree that you can beg the question on either side of this. Is the church what she claims to be? It is more a question of faith than reason. But it takes faith to say No as well as faith to say Yes. To analyze morality in purely historical and political terms does assume a relativism that Catholics would reject.

    Even if that were true about God's guidance I'm not sure how that changes things from being politics. They are still political just your invisible friend likes one side and doesn't like another. The same way as biblical wars are still wars, just one side has divine favor.

    The politics is still there but it is not the important thing. The truth becomes central. Politics becomes a issue of how people reacted to the truth being proclaimed. Jesus was political but that aspect of Him is minor compared to what he taught us about who God is and who man is. It is possible to look at Jesus and only see politics. But you need to have great faith in atheism to do so.

    But more importantly, the context of this debate was in your critique of atheist morality. Within atheism it can't even be suggested that God can guide anything, due to problems like non existence.

    This is a separate post. So a bit of a new topic. Atheist morality has gotten bogged down in the question of moral absolutes. If they exist you have problems. If they don't you have problems. So you waffle. Try and side-step both sets of problems. That is understandable. Not logical but understandable.

    If you say there are moral absolutes then a further question is can they be known with any certainty? I think that is actually a bigger problem today. The protestant answer to that is weak. the Catholic answer to that is much better but many people don't get the distinction. They conflate the two.

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  4. I think you realize you are question begging there. Lots of human ideas claim to be transcendent truths. I don't see anything particularly unique about the Catholic ones that make them really transcendent, and quite often they are tied to western society in a way that makes them also impossible to be transcendent.

    Not begging so much as explaining. You were saying a lot about Catholic history but not in a Catholic way. In fact you seemed to focus on the strands of thought that didn't go anywhere. We are barely aware of those.

    Well yes. My assertion, and the point in the debate originally, was that materially this looks like politics and how Catholic doctrine was decided politically. Whether one side has magically properties or not was irrelevant to the earthly political dimension, as well as something I don't agree with. Besides, assume I said that I have it on good authority that Carol Keehan was personally authorized in her opinions by the Invisible Pink Unicorn and the IPU overrides Yahweh.

    But that is complete question begging on your part. To assert there is no God and if there is He is irrelevant because only the politics matters.

    BTW, I know your IPU comment was a joke. Still it shows you don't really understand the Catholic notion of God. Maybe just explaining Catholic tradition is not enough. Maybe I need to go further back and explain what we mean when we talk about God.

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  5. Pope Anastasius II "it is heresy to say that the intellectual soul is transmitted with the seed". Remember the intellectual soul being what makes us human and not animal.

    Pope Benedict XVI "embryos are dynamic, autonomous individuals"


    This is the classic either/or box people try and force Catholics into. T=Catholics beleive that the human soul is not an epiphenomenon of the human brain. That it is something that God gives us in a separate act of creation. That is what I think Pope Anastasius II was talking about. Pope Benedict is not denying that. So what is the problem?

    I'm putting words in their mouths, they have never been honest enough to say that after 1500 years of condemning traducianism as heresy they were wrong since the Pope subscribes to it. The church's teaching for 1500 years couldn't have been more explicit: sex creates something morally equivalent to a vegetable that over time becomes an animal and then a human. There is no way to back off from a teaching that explicit and say that the modern doctrine doesn't involve change.

    It does involve change. It just that the change is of the nature of a development and not a corruption. We would not say "over time." We would say it is created at conception. There was a time when Catholics thought that process took longer and had stages. We don't think that anymore because we are scientific. We accept the truth of science and incorporate it into our teachings of faith and morals. Precisely what we are so frequently accused of not doing.

    I don't think that the product of sex was ever that disrespected. Semen has been respected since the time of Onan back in Genesis. We don't respect it like a human life but it is not exactly a vegetable either. Comparisons with a vegetable might be made. Even calling semen "seed" is along those lines. But the analogy is going to be limited.

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  6. But we shouldn't be guessing here the Catholic Vice President of the United States and at the time the Catholic Speaker of the House stood behind a statement that Pope Benedict XVI and his predecesor on a vital matter of faith and morals was preaching heresy.

    Biden and Pelosi are religious nitwits. I agree that if you judge the Catholic faith by those two you would not be impressed. I cannot explain what they say about their faith because it makes no sense to me. Even intentionally taking an irrational position for political reason it seems you could do a lot better than that. I am not sure why you bother with anything they say.

    I understand that according to Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for that to happen. So I'm sure there is eventually going to be some sort of gooblygook about how the modern position isn't asserting that sex creates humans even though it clearly is.
    You think Catholics deny the link between sex and the creation of human life? We are the ones asserting sex needs to be respected in large part because of its role in procreation. Just because we believe a human being is more that a collection of cells does not mean we deny anything about how that collection of cells came to be.

    And it is going to boil down to "mystery", which is the typical word for believing blatantly contradictory things.
    No, it is a word for describing something so beautiful and complex we could not know it completely. Falling in love is a mystery. It is not a contradiction. We fully accept the law of non-contradiction. You have not demonstrated one.

    But to an outside objective observer, which is the viewpoint that makes sense here if we are going to assert that Catholic doctrine is consistent to a non-believer, that isn't going to hold water.

    Actually it is remarkable consistent. Think about it. The church is 2000 years old. You can look at the didache from the late 1st or early 2nd century and see the same position on contraception, abortion, and infanticide we have today. Have their been disputes and clarifications and differences ind details? Sure. But quite frankly I am amazed at how little guys like you come up with. You do a great job of finding all our most embarrassing moments. But you don't come up with much. You fail to find any real problems.

    To claim that the magisterium doesn't change doctrine must mean that in an objective sense doctrines don't change. Otherwise it is a meaningless statement.

    Again, change happens. We claim that change is always development and never corruption. Bl John Henry Newman tried to make that claim objective and testable. It is a challenge. There is always some subjectivity. But you should give his book a try.
    http://www.newmanreader.org/works/development/index.html

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  7. So they want to stop [Bishop's speech] with force. All the coercion is by the state against the church.There has been no coercion the other way at all. So you are living in a fantasy world.

    First off I said church coercion against the state. I said encouraging state coercion against gay people and gave a list of example in the original version of the quote. As for state coercion to stop Bishops from speaking, baloney. Nothing of the sort has been attempted or even suggested. There are all sorts of churches that preach all sorts of crazy ideologies and they are free to do so without being troubled in any way.

    There is often a distinction made between tradition and Tradition. I don't like that because capitalization does not really work for me to make a word different. But there is sacred tradition

    This is key.

    Tradition / Sacred Tradition can exist in the way that has nothing to do with Catholic teaching and practice as some sort of unknowable thing that exists externally. But then you can't make positive claims about it, like the behavior today is more in keeping with tradition than what the church was doing in the 1970s. You have no way of knowing if that is true or not. The statement becomes meaningless.

    What is knowable is Catholic practice and teaching at any given point and time. What you were calling "tradition". For statements about sacred tradition / Tradition to have meaning and context they must be about earthly activities and teachings.

    So saying "whatever Catholics were doing is the Catholic tradition" ends up putting Hans Kung in the same category as Cardinal Ratzinger. Both did what they did as Catholics. Both were celebrated by some Catholics and ridiculed by others. But one was endorsed by the magisterium and one was criticized by the magisterium.

    Exactly one won the debate and one lost. Hence Ratzinger's positions are Catholic tradition while Kung's are part of Catholic culture. The same way that John McCain's foreign policy positions are part of the US culture while Barack Obama's are policy.

    What I have an objection to is claiming that Pope Anastasius II's position that was upheld till the 19th century isn't Tradition.

    As far as the Pius IX and XII stuff. Here is a article for Pius XII, which I think is fair. Pius IX isn't complex: Pius IX ordered Jews back into the Rome ghetto, the last in Europe, and barred them from owning property, having careers in the arts or sciences, teaching in schools or receiving public assistance and medical care.

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  8. If I declare that the earth is flat and acknowledge that NASA disagrees with me does it follow that I didn't make a fool of myself?

    You are begging the question again with the earth is flat. You are assuming she's wrong because the authority said so. There are plenty of cases of scientists taking positions that were at one time rejected by NASA that are now accepted. NASA can be wrong.

    But it is worse than that. If she said the NY Times believes something and the NY Times editorial board disagreed with her then nobody would say that is OK

    That's not what she's claiming. She's analogy would be claiming that the NY Times editorial board in 1900 believed something and the NY Times current board saying they don't believe that so therefore the board in 1900 didn't believe it.

    Somehow she feels she can disagree with the church hierarchy about church teaching and not get that she is rejecting the Catholic faith.

    She believes there are a collection of sacred traditions handled down to the apostles by Jesus. She defines that as the sacred tradition. She doesn't subscribe to prima ecclesia, that the tradition is whatever the pope says it is. She believes strongly in "Sacred Tradition" and she believes the current hierarchy is teaching in opposition to it. I don't see her objections as substantially much different than the SSPX objections.

    There is a strong inherent conflict in that the church does not have a pure position of prima ecclesia. For example if the Pope were to declare that Yahweh was no longer God, and Zeus was; that would be ineffectual.

    Catholics are not supposed to just declare their interpretation of scripture and tradition to be right. They are supposed to take leadership from their bishops and pope.

    True but the Bishops and Pope are supposed to be teaching the faith that was handed down to the apostles. Where it gets interesting is when there is a credible claim those two are in conflict.

    Indulgences as they were practiced during the time of Luther, being another example. You had a credible claim from a well thought of theologian, with some popular support that the teachings on indulgences were a scam and the Pope at the time went to the mat on that one.

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  9. The definition of abortion changed. But what is called an abortion now was called contraception then. But both abortion and contraception are immoral. So what the USCCB says is true.

    Good! I'm glad you are admitting there was change here. Major progress. But remember the USCCB (link) accused her of misrepresenting the history. If we are now agreed that she was accurately representing the history and they just disagree with the previous teachings of the church they are confirming not denying what she said.

    Nancy Pelosi made historical determinable as a matter of fact not belief. The USCCB made counter historical claims which are decidable as a matter of fact not belief. Their claims contradict and both sides indicate they believe their claims contradict. I've done the investigation and she's right and they are lying. The USCCB is entitled to their opinions they are not entitled to their own facts. This is not a question of faith, it is a question of fact.

    This is really key. A factual statement would have been something like "Nancy Pelosi's history about church teaching on the connection between sex, pregnancy and human life was substantially correct. The position held by the church today is different from the position through most of its history. While Nancy's Pelosi's position would have been normative in the 12th or possibly even the 17th century today the alternative position in it is heresy, see CCC 2270-5." Then they would be accurate with regard to fact, while making the faith claims they want to make.

    This is very much like the situation with Galileo. The Pope has 100% authority to determine whether believing the earth rotates around the sun is heresy. He has 0% authority in determining whether it is true or not. If the pope wants to make claims to truth about the movement of celestial bodies then he meets Galileo on an equal playing field.

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  10. OK now addressing your responses in the middle of my sequence.

    I agree with you that treating the church like any other entity is assuming relativism. That's a fair criticism.

    I think the best way to approach this is to separate off the issue of what's "important" (i.e. the "truth") from form. I'm perfectly fine if you want to say that X "looks political" or "would be political in another context". I do get that's a somewhat biased compromise but I'm not sure what the alternative is. Any claims that presuppose the Church is what it claims to be are just question begging. You mentioned you were a math guy. You understand you can't assume what you are trying to prove even if you know it to be true.

    Otherwise all we can do contradictions from within the Catholic frame. Which is sort of the approach when we first started when I was discussing the moderate position. There I didn't get to use atheism as a given since most abortion moderates are not atheists. Understandably you weren't interested in discussing that, because I was defending positions I thought were faulty and the discussions were about which specific faults did or did not hold up.

    If you say there are moral absolutes then a further question is can they be known with any certainty? I think that is actually a bigger problem today.

    I'd say no. There are moral absolutes that can be known with high probability but none with certainty. Even the societal morality cannot be known with certainty.

    In fact you seemed to focus on the strands of thought that didn't go anywhere. We are barely aware of those.

    I don't think that's quite true. Anti-traducianism is Aquinas. The battle over contraception is quite contemporary and involves essentially the entire Catholic population today. The question of whether morals Good vs. Evil had its origins in Good vs. Bad is one the primary Catholic / Modernists debates of the last 300 years. The proper relationship between the state and the church is one of the primary debates of the last 600.

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  11. It does involve change. It just that the change is of the nature of a development and not a corruption. We would not say "over time." We would say it is created at conception. There was a time when Catholics thought that process took longer and had stages. We don't think that anymore because we are scientific. We accept the truth of science and incorporate it into our teachings of faith and morals. Precisely what we are so frequently accused of not doing.

    We've talked about this before, the claim that science asserts humanity of fetus comes down to an assertion. You couldn't find a clear scientific definition. And when we had that long series of threads about fetus being human you ran into major difficulties. If a 2 day human fetus is different than a 2 day old chicken fetus why can I get the human from blasting the chicken fetus with human RNA and visa versa? Why does this human fetus have non human properties all the way up to 8 months? Humans don't have fur they have hair, human fetuses grow lanugo a fur. The fetus is human only if you ignore all the science that says it isn't human and define it to be human by fiat. But that's not important, we've covered that.

    What's more important, is that you've been completely unable to name anything that happened in terms of science 150 years ago. There have been scientific breakthroughs in other areas that changed church positions. The science with respect to the earth orbiting the sun became overwhelming and the church changed its position. But nothing similar has happened on the fertility front with respect to biology Our science has more or less confirmed the science of the middle ages adding details and nothing more. What's changed is not science but the politics.

    What's interesting though is that since Humane Vitae, the last two generations arguably has been a period where the science has been relentless attacking the new Catholic notion of life and supported the old; while confirming the Pope's vision of what the alternative of a culture of life would look like. Today we are generating human tissues inside bacteria is a mainstream part of the economy, the products of which (drugs) are consumed by essentially the entire global population. In 2003 we cloned the first mammal. In 2009 we cloned the first extinct mammal. In 2004 we had the first serious attempt at a human clone.

    Last generation we started producing human beings without a sex act ever having taken place. That's now mainstream and we are looking about 1m couples using this procedure with about 200k successful pregnancies per year (lots of twins and triplets). Dignitas Personae is having to argue that embryos even those created without sex are worthy of fully human treatment but that's going to get harder to maintain at the methods being used for bacteria (i.e. selective RNA). and cloning get inter mixed with the fertilization procedures that have become mainstream.

    The science of the last 2 generations is relentlessly dehumanizing in every respect. If the science is leading anywhere it is to abandoning the idea that human life is sacred.

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  12. I don't think that the product of sex was ever that disrespected.

    They were explicitly invoking Aristotle's notion of soul from de anima (link to part 3). That notion is that without the ability to sense touch and respond via. movement an animal, is soulless. There is a distinction made between the intellectual and animal soul as well, with the intellectual soul implying that a body has anything other than material components. The criteria for an intellectual soul is the ability to form an abstract image (i.e. to imagine an apple in the abstract not just a particular apple). Using a terminology that implies that the product of sex is not important enough to even be alive is rather profound disrespect.

    I am not sure why you bother with anything [Pelosi and Biden] say.

    3 main reasons:

    1) The focus has been abortion. And for the traducianism view's most notable proponent and the one whom I learned this argument from is Nancy Pelosi.

    2) They are specific notable liberal Catholics. Both of whom speak on matters of ethics and Catholic dogma. In particular they are faced with the real tasks of making moral choices as liberal Catholics and defending them to a Catholic constituency. People like John Meier while intellectual interesting in their Catholicism aren't confronted with practical issues.

    3) They have real power. For example with the HHS mandate and Sister Keehan. Kathleen Sebelius puts out a guideline and there is an uproar with about 60% of Catholics opposed. Joe Biden and Sister Keehan side with the anti group and the next day the president over rides Sebelius. Biden and Keehan think the new policy is acceptable, Cardinal Dolan doesn't. So we get a real test here, and what we find is that we now have 68% of Catholics in favor a 30+% swing. Joe Biden has the moral authority and the backing of the Catholic population to conduct the kind of negotiation that Cardinal Dolan would like to, but lacks the backing of his own constituants. Biden can speak for at least the leftmost 2/3rds of the church. Nancy Pelosi similarly can speak for the leftmost 1/3rd of the church.

    I understand you don't think the church is a democracy and so consider the opinions of Catholics mostly irrelevant. But they do effectively act as proxies for what the religious opinions of about 50m+ Americans are.

    You think Catholics deny the link between sex and the creation of human life?

    I think you misread my comment. The new position is that sex creates humans; while the old position was it creates a vegetative matter that might overtime become human.

    We fully accept the law of non-contradiction. You have not demonstrated one.

    Yes I have.

    The product of conception has a human soul (new position).
    The product of conception does not have a human soul and won't for a long time (old position).

    That's a pretty clear cut contradiction.

    You do a great job of finding all our most embarrassing moments. But you don't come up with much. You fail to find any real problems.

    I can hammer you on real problems too mostly prior to 200 CE. We just have been focusing on the middle ages vs. today.

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  13. Bl John Henry Newman tried to make that claim objective and testable

    And lets apply his 7 fold test.

    1) Preservation of Type -- The old theory had a 3 fold division of the soul originated by Pythagoras and culminating in the doctrines of St. Augustine. The new doctrine completely rejects the entire Aristotle theory and instead uses the an opposing theory similar to Plotinus' that the soul has no meaningful material effects but is the true or greater reality, an immortal spirit which exists inside each human....
    (0)

    2) Continuity of Principles -- This is to say the same abstractions. I think the previous point addresses this one. (0)

    3) Power of Assimilation -- Agrees with other principles. The new system assimilates far better with the rest of Catholic sexual morality. It however assimilates far worse with Catholic metaphysics moving far closer to Gnostic ideas of the soul. Call it 1/2.

    4) Logical Sequence -- Nope the church goes back and forth on this issue too often. Sometimes being incredibly strict, sometimes conflating abortion with adultery or fornication (the underlying cause) and other times being indifferent. Much more in common with fashion than logical sequence.

    5) Anticipation of Its Future -- Yes. I think the intent of the original proponents especially Pope Pius IX was to achieve the viewpoint that now exists.

    6) Conservative Action upon Its Past -- Absolute not. Total unequivocal rejection of the past.

    7) Chronic Vigour -- Nope. This idea met resistance starting in the 1870s. There was a widespread belief within 100 years that it would be repudiated. When it failed to be, there has been massive rejection by the faithful and desertion by priests at all levels. Chronic sickness.

    So on Newman's 7 point scale I give the Humane Vitae morality a 1.5. It should be rejected as heresy using his system.

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  14. First off I said church coercion against the state. I said encouraging state coercion against gay people and gave a list of example in the original version of the quote. As for state coercion to stop Bishops from speaking, baloney. Nothing of the sort has been attempted or even suggested. There are all sorts of churches that preach all sorts of crazy ideologies and they are free to do so without being troubled in any way.

    Again, you are not paying much attention. Take your adoption example. You say the church is pressuring the state to deny gay couples adoptions. That just means they are being consistent about their teaching and they care about children. Complaining about this essentially means you are saying they should not teach what they teach or that they should not care who children are placed with. That is denying Catholics freedom of religion.

    But what happens is much worse. In your fantasy world gay couples are denied the right to adopt. So over compensation kicks in and gay adoption not only becomes allowed but required. Anyone not doing gay adoption is not allowed to do any adoptions. Children get hurt. The state does not care. They are not being rational. They are being anti-Catholic.

    So people have to stop being Catholic or lose their job. That is how freedom of religion should work? Do your worst but understand this. If you destroy freedom of religion then all other freedoms will disappear as well. Religion is the most personal and foundational freedom. If you lose it then everything else is gone. Even if you are an atheist you should care about freedom of religion. Instead you are willing to sacrifice every freedom to enforce political correctness. So you can champion today's approved victim group and trample on someone else and create tomorrow's approved victim group.

    The Catholic church will always get stronger when it is persecuted. That is its nature. Jesus was at his strongest when He was on the cross. We are too.

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  15. What I have an objection to is claiming that Pope Anastasius II's position that was upheld till the 19th century isn't Tradition.

    I didn't claim that. What you quoted from Pope Anastasius II is perfectly Catholic. "it is heresy to say that the intellectual soul is transmitted with the seed". The soul is not part of the body. Some will say that the soul is simply a set of brain functions that we have used a certain language to describe but it is not fundamentally different from other biological functions. It is embedded in the DNA and it evolved the same way all other traits did. Catholics would say that is heresy. It seems Pope Anastasius understood that a kernel of that truth.

    As far as the Pius IX and XII stuff. Here is a article for Pius XII, which I think is fair. Pius IX isn't complex: Pius IX ordered Jews back into the Rome ghetto, the last in Europe, and barred them from owning property, having careers in the arts or sciences, teaching in schools or receiving public assistance and medical care.

    The article I linked says this about Pius IX:
    Numbers 1 (hatred of Jews), and 3 (maintaining Rome's ghetto), are flatly contradicted by the historical records. In 1846 the new Pope embraced the new positive ideas of the day. In April 1848 he ordered the Jewish ghetto in Rome to be abolished, its gates removed, and soldiers to be stationed there to protect the inhabitants, who, he declared, were not foreigners. He also abolished irritating impositions such as the requirement for Jews to attend the local Sunday sermon. Is this hatred of Jews?

    My guess is the Vatican did investigate these charges. They are very careful about the canonization and beatification processes. I think they did check with real historians and found the charges to be anti-Catholic rubbish. It is not uncommon for baseless charges to be made against prominent Catholics and for them to be accepted and repeated without question by thinkers who don't normally believe everything they hear. You seem to be one of those thinkers.

    It is interesting you describe that link as balanced. The website itself did not. It described it as the negative side of the Pius XII. the positive view was presented here.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/piusdef.html

    The case against Pope Pius XII is almost entirely based on a work of fiction. A play written in the 1960's by an anti-Catholic. it just shows how normally objective people cannot be objective when discussing the Catholic church. They immediately go into a mode where every allegation is accepted as true. Nobody bothers to check the facts.

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  16. She[Pelosi] believes there are a collection of sacred traditions handled down to the apostles by Jesus. She defines that as the sacred tradition. She doesn't subscribe to prima ecclesia, that the tradition is whatever the pope says it is. She believes strongly in "Sacred Tradition" and she believes the current hierarchy is teaching in opposition to it. I don't see her objections as substantially much different than the SSPX objections.

    The difference is the SSPX is serious. Pelosi is just trying to sound good enough to fool the average poorly catechized Catholic. Basically she says she hates the church, hates the bishops, hates the pope, and hates every major doctrine that is the least bit controversial. But she consider herself to be a good Catholic because some Catholic scholar somewhere also has the same position. You take her way to seriously. Politicians are terrible theologians and she is worse than most.

    Good! I'm glad you are admitting there was change here. Major progress. But remember the USCCB (link) accused her of misrepresenting the history. If we are now agreed that she was accurately representing the history and they just disagree with the previous teachings of the church they are confirming not denying what she said.

    Nobody ever said there was no change. Just that what we today call abortion was always seen as immoral by the church. She implied the opposite. That was misrepresenting history. They didn't accuse her of lying. They allowed for the possibility that she might have left a false impression inadvertently. It would be cynical to assume she lied to score cheap political points.

    Nancy Pelosi made historical determinable as a matter of fact not belief. The USCCB made counter historical claims which are decidable as a matter of fact not belief. Their claims contradict and both sides indicate they believe their claims contradict. I've done the investigation and she's right and they are lying. The USCCB is entitled to their opinions they are not entitled to their own facts. This is not a question of faith, it is a question of fact.

    Did you even read your own link? The bishops admit some theologians speculated on such matters. But the difference between speculation and church teaching is the approval of the magisterium. So the bishops are right and Pelosi is wrong.

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  17. We've talked about this before, the claim that science asserts humanity of fetus comes down to an assertion. You couldn't find a clear scientific definition. And when we had that long series of threads about fetus being human you ran into major difficulties

    I ran into difficulties? I recall your position being crushed and humiliated. I still don't think you seriously doubt which species a fetus belongs to. Your argument was rubbish. It was quite embarrassing really.

    What's more important, is that you've been completely unable to name anything that happened in terms of science 150 years ago. There have been scientific breakthroughs in other areas that changed church positions. The science with respect to the earth orbiting the sun became overwhelming and the church changed its position. But nothing similar has happened on the fertility front with respect to biology Our science has more or less confirmed the science of the middle ages adding details and nothing more. What's changed is not science but the politics.

    What has changed is that the importance of DNA has been made clear. So the importance of any other event other than conception has been discredited. Conception is a DNA event.

    It is important to note again that we are just talking about the line between contraception and abortion. One is a sin against chastity and one is a sin against life. But both are sins.

    The science of the last 2 generations is relentlessly dehumanizing in every respect. If the science is leading anywhere it is to abandoning the idea that human life is sacred.

    That is a great argument against materialism. If God is excluded and science alone reigns then human life becomes worthless and genocide becomes common.

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  18. So on Newman's 7 point scale I give the Humane Vitae morality a 1.5. It should be rejected as heresy using his system.

    I don't understand your point. Humane Vitae didn't change anything. Contraception was immoral before it came out. So it is a non-example of development of doctrine.

    I did say that there was some subjective judgement involved. That means if you are trying to find contradictions you will find them. But if you are trying to find continuity, can you? That is the question. With protestantism he says No. It can't be done. With Catholicism he says Yes. It is messy and complex but it is a coherent position.

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  19. Again, you are not paying much attention. Take your adoption example. You say the church is pressuring the state to deny gay couples adoptions. That just means they are being consistent about their teaching and they care about children. Complaining about this essentially means you are saying they should not teach what they teach or that they should not care who children are placed with. That is denying Catholics freedom of religion.

    You are shifting the subject here. The original question is, "is the church actively engaging in activities designed to use state pressure to make the lives of gay people worse." You were previously denying that they were engaging in these activities, you are now arguing they were engaging in these activities but they are justified in doing so due to their beliefs that they are advancing child welfare. Why they are doing it, is mostly irrelevant to whether they are doing it.

    But what happens is much worse. In your fantasy world gay couples are denied the right to adopt. So over compensation kicks in and gay adoption not only becomes allowed but required. Anyone not doing gay adoption is not allowed to do any adoptions. Children get hurt. The state does not care. They are not being rational. They are being anti-Catholic.

    So people have to stop being Catholic or lose their job. That is how freedom of religion should work?But what happens is much worse. In your fantasy world gay couples are denied the right to adopt. So over compensation kicks in and gay adoption not only becomes allowed but required. Anyone not doing gay adoption is not allowed to do any adoptions. Children get hurt. The state does not care. They are not being rational. They are being anti-Catholic.


    I don't think I've ever discussed with you what I think the law should be. My fantasy world is that the church flips on this teaching like the Protestant churches did on miscegenation. And 100 years from now Catholic conservatives are arguing that the church was always approving of gay rights, sure there were some theologians in times past that disagreed but it was never a teaching of the magisterium and no the church didn't actually order the burning of gays in the 16th century....

    Another possibility that I'd be very happy with is that this teaching becomes so widely disputed by so many agencies in society that it is just ignored by the Catholic population. Masturbation is still technically a mortal sin, but the societal approval for masturbation has grown so strong that churches are unable to make headway against the societal trend on these issues.

    The situation you are describing where the Catholic church and other churches still preach actively against homosexuals and their teachings are widely followed by religious society, while secular society is left having to defend homosexuals via. the law is not my fantasy world at all. That's very close to the situation we've been living through with abortion for the last two generations. Or the situation we've been living with with regard to alcohol since the 1750s.

    That being said even if this were the situation, there is no insurmountable conflict between gay rights and freedom of religion. There is nothing unique about a church wanting to engage in activities that are disapproved of or criminal and there is an already existing body of law that covers this. The same laws that made it possible for Catholic churches to get communion wine during prohibition would cover them with regard to the gay rights situation.

    (continued)

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  20. (continued from before)

    Assume that homosexuality became a protected class under civil rights law, in precisely the same way race or religion are; which is actually a bit stronger than most homosexuals are even asking for BTW. At that point discrimination solely on the basis of sexual orientation would be illegal for commercial for profit private entities it would still be perfectly legal for churches and religious institutions. So Our Sister of Mercy Orphanage (from here on OSMO) can continue to only give children to heterosexual couples with full protection of law. The state has no ability what-so-ever to challenge the teachings of OSMO . For the state to require OSMO to change their practices or shut down the state would have to have a compelling interest in having every adoption agency provide children to homosexual couples which is a bar they are unlikely to meet. So no, there isn't going to be any persecution.

    What could happen to OSMO is if they had a city or municipal contract to act as primary conduit for handling orphans the additional difficulties created by their failure to obey civil rights law could be taken into consideration and that contract might get awarded to other agencies. Generally Catholic charities are not handling orphans exclusively anywhere: there are too many Protestants, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus... But even if there is some city which is Catholic enough all that would happen is OSMO would become a secondary agency and still likely get awarded part of the contract but not an exclusive, getting quite a bit of money but less money than before.

    Not being awarded a municipal contract is failure to get an award it is not religious persecution. In other areas like hospitals this sort of thing is happening more as churches are appealing to narrowing segments of the population and alienating others they are losing their positions of privilege given to them as institutions that are seen as benefitting the common good. They would in effect being demoted to the role of niche public interest institutions like PETA. No question that would be bad, which is why people like Sister Keehan who actually understand the law work to prevent that sort of thing from happening; while people like Cardinal Dolan in effect does his best to make sure it happens. This is a choice for the Catholic church does it want the freedom to do whatever it wants that comes with being a niche institution, or the power and privileges of being an institution that works in the broad public interest. Right now the church is divided essentially arguing it should have the autonomy of a niche and the privileges of a broad institution; and denying that is not denying freedom of religion in any sense.

    Finally there is "firing" issue you mentioned. Catholic workers at a secular institution being fired for refusing to place gay adoptions. Right now the effective law in the US in non governmental jobs is "right to work", employees can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. I've been fired for refusing to engage in a conspiracy to defraud vendors (i.e. refusing to commit a felony). Religion is however a protected class. The employer would have to show that they couldn't get around the employee's objections that placing gay adoptions that it couldn't be accommodated. Again, likely a fairly high bar. So, no what you are describing wouldn't happen. This is a situation where not only is there loss of religious freedom but it would be fully extended to Catholic workers.

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  21. "it is heresy to say that the intellectual soul is transmitted with the seed".

    OK do there exist fetus in human mothers that do not have intellectual souls?

    The difference is the SSPX is serious. Pelosi is just trying to sound good enough to fool the average poorly catechized Catholic.

    How do you know this? Why would she bother? Her district is so liberal and her approval ratings in it so high she could do whatever she wants and easily maintain her seat. At her age she isn't going to run for president. So that is her motive in not just saying the church is wrong?

    Basically she says she hates the church, hates the bishops, hates the pope, and hates every major doctrine that is the least bit controversial.

    I've never heard her say anything like that, not remotely. She generally says she loves the church and seems to delight in the teachings and doctrines. She respects most of the Bishops and speaks highly of them.

    Further, were that her opinion that she hated them, she could have over the years have done quite a bit to harm the church. Nancy Pelosi has gone after religious bodies on the intelligence committees many times. The religions she hates get arrests, assassinations, seizures of assets, counter terrorism, recruiting criminal elements in their society to form death squads...

    She considers herself a Catholic and she thinks they are wrong about stuff. I consider myself a loyal Democrat and I sometimes disagree with her positions on issues that doesn't mean I don't value her leadership.

    Nobody ever said there was no change. Just that what we today call abortion was always seen as immoral by the church. She implied the opposite. That was misrepresenting history.

    Come on. We are repeating ourselves now. I addressed this. It makes no difference to her historical analysis whether the previous teaching considered it immoral. Moreover their letter explicitly excluded the explanation you are giving. The USCCB made claims about history and science not morality. Had they wanted to say what you said, then they should have indicated her historical analysis was absolutely correct but the conclusions she was drawing was incorrect. They didn't say that.

    She's not misrepresenting history by stating the actual teachings of the church. Especially since she's a politician. The push by prolifers is to treat abortion as a homicide, and to claim this has always been the christian position. The very Catholic theologians who attacked these early "abortions" as immoral considered these acts before the fetus "had formed" to not be a homicide. Immoral in some vague sense is irrelevant to the argument at hand.

    If I say for example that Florida became a state in 1845 I'm not misrepresenting history, I'm accurately stating it. Absolutely Florida was part of the US sphere of influence starting in 1783 but being part of the US sphere of influence doesn't make you a state. And if I someone claimed that Florida has been a state since 1783 they would be wrong on the facts.

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  22. I ran into difficulties? I recall your position being crushed and humiliated.

    You recall wrong. You have yet to provide anything other than assertion for your position. Look back. Find any reason you gave which ever proves your contention about the humanity or refutes any of the long list of scientific counter points I gave. You just asserted (not proved) that societies don't have the right to make those sorts of judgements.

    Your argument amounted to "is to" and I said as much at the time. I've asked this question a dozen times. If a embryo is human from the moment of conception why can it take on other forms if hit with non-human RNA? Your cells don't do that. If the fetus is fully human why does it have non human characteristics like fur?

    If the fetus is human prove it. If someone doubted you were human I could rattle off characteristic you had that are uniquely human:
    a) V shape jaw bone with a primate teeth
    b) bowl shaped pelvis
    c) sclera lacks pigmentation and is horizontally elongated
    etc... I could make a list of about 100

    What is the similar list for the newly conceived embryo? You are the one who keeps claiming that your definition is based on science yet you have been unable to name any science that supports your position. Make a list of the uniquely human characteristics this supposed human has.

    What has changed is that the importance of DNA has been made clear.

    Keep going. What is the importance of DNA? In the year 1200 or even 1200 BCE everyone understood that children inherited biological traits from their biological parents. What fundamentally has changed? Discovering DNA (the structure) was learning about the base mechanism by which this occurred no one ever doubted it did. So what has been made clear?

    It is important to note again that we are just talking about the line between contraception and abortion. One is a sin against chastity and one is a sin against life. But both are sins.

    I'd still deny that, but that's an entirely different rabbit hole. The fornication that generally leads to abortion or contraception, or the lust that leads to the fornication are all sins. The question is whether the definition of abortion changed. Once we establish that the doctrines of the 12th century are the authentic Catholic teachings and the current teachings are nothing more than Victorianism... Once we are back to using Catholic language... restoration of menses before quickening then we can start talking about Catholic teachings in their proper context. But that means dropping the Victorian mindset. Right now you are trying to read modern theology back into the past and pretending that the other side are just "theological nitwits" rather than their was a well developed counter case.

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  23. I don't understand your point.

    I worked through the changing doctrine regarding abortion, you DNA based theory and it scored a 1.5 out of a possible 7.0 on the Newman scale for whether it was development or corruption.

    But if you are trying to find continuity, can you? That is the question. With protestantism he says No. It can't be done. With Catholicism he says Yes. It is messy and complex but it is a coherent position.

    OK these needs to be addressed in two very different points. I've been arguing that the modern abortion / contraception position is a violation of Catholocism's own claims to be preaching an unchanging doctrine handled down from the apostles since it is essentially an out of the blue innovation which contradict earlier teaching from the 2nd half of the 19th century. I think the Newman test is a fair test for doctrinal continuity. And the fact that the modern positions fails so badly should give you pause if you actually believe the Newman test is a valid test of doctrinal continuity is important, which is what essentially all Catholics believe.

    Now if we turn to Protestants this cannot be assumed. I'd say in terms of the importance of tradition you would have a scale like: Catholicism -> Episcopalian -> Presbyterian -> Congregationalist -> Baptist -> Adventist

    Newman was writing for Anglicans, and the most Catholicizing Anglicans at that. At its core their great point of disagreement is whether Henry VIII could marry Anne Boleyn. Inertia and the natural centrifugal forces that result from schism is what he what he was arguing with.

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  24. But that is not the bulk of Protestantism. American Protestantism has Anglicans but they represent the extreme. The country was founded by schismatics who wanted to break from the church of England and found its own identity with schismatics from European style Protestantism. America is a child of the Radical Reformation, not the Magisterial Reformation. And in the form of Pentecostalism that American Protestantism has gone out all over the world as the dominant form. The first few paragraphs of the Introduction of Newman's book deal with Radical Reformation: " Or again, it has been maintained, or implied, that all existing denominations of Christianity are wrong, none representing it as taught by Christ and His Apostles; that the original religion has gradually decayed or become hopelessly corrupt; nay that it died out of the world at its birth, and was forthwith succeeded by a counterfeit or counterfeits which assumed its name, though they inherited at best but some fragments of its teaching...allowing true Christianity still to exist, it has but a hidden and isolated life, in the hearts of the elect, or again as a literature or philosophy, not certified in any way"

    That very doctrine that he dismisses in the beginning is where the debate with Protestants needs to take place if the aim is to speak beyond Anglicans. Protestants in the majority take pride in their inconsistency with the Catholicism of 1400, 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 or 200 CE. Paedobaptism is sin, and the religions associated with it are at best a perversion of Christianity. Hugh Nibly who represents the opposite extreme, has a fameous essay on the the events during the first 2 generations of the church after Jesus, the title I think captures the point "When the lights went out". Most Protestants while not willing to go as far as Nibly mostly agree with him. The most influential book to the Protestantism of this decade is "Pagan Christianity" that attacks the offices, functions and forms of church (including Protestant churches) as being an apostasy to the forms of worship and order God commands.

    So no, I don't think Newman's argument even address the correct point in the debate with Protestants. If it did however, Catholicism and Protestantism are not doctrines they are whole families of doctrines. I think you would have to take them one at a time to apply the Newman scale and applications would be tricky That being said, lets say by about 200 CE most of the core Catholic doctrines were in place and dominant. So either the church had gone badly off the rails by 200 CE, or the 5 solas (minus sola gratia) are in error. Protestants differ in how deep they think the apostasy went, when it started and where they stand today in recovering the faith. But none claim that Protestantism is mostly the faith of 1400 CE and the Catholic church had just recently introduced a few minor corruptions. That version of Protestantism AFAIKT exists mostly in Catholic apologetics not in the world.

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  25. OK do there exist fetus in human mothers that do not have intellectual souls?

    I think you can say Yes to this and be orthodox. There are cases where a fetus can be malformed in a way that is not survivable. For example, a fetus with no brain or a fetus where the cells don't differentiate. Does such a fetus receive a soul? Catholics are permitted to believe that in some cases the answer is No.

    But excluding the extreme cases you have a point. Ensoulment happens at conception. But to say it happens at the same time as the seed is transmitted is not the same thing as to say it is transmitted with the seed. Depending on what you mean "transmitted with the seed" could be a heresy.

    How do you know this? Why would she bother? Her district is so liberal and her approval ratings in it so high she could do whatever she wants and easily maintain her seat. At her age she isn't going to run for president. So that is her motive in not just saying the church is wrong?

    Pelosi is a national politician. She is not just worried about her district. She wants to assure Catholics that they can vote Democrat and not worry about the abortion issue. She can't do that and remain honest. So I do think her argument is so self-serving and so weak that one wonders if even she believes it.

    I've never heard her say anything like that, not remotely. She generally says she loves the church and seems to delight in the teachings and doctrines. She respects most of the Bishops and speaks highly of them.

    Her position is complex. I don't doubt her desire to remain a Catholic spiritually is sincere. She agrees with much of what the church teaches but she not when it contradicts what the Democratic party says. This is common among liberal politicians. I am sure she speaks highly of Catholic bishops just like she does of Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim leaders.

    But she hates the fact that the church has remained pro-life and pro-marriage. That they keep bringing that up and keep repeating that these issues have huge importance. For example the Catholic bishops stated clearly that health care had some real benefits for the poor but they said those were out-weighed by the problems the new law created with abortion. That was before the HHS regulations on contraceptives came out. My understanding is she was very upset with the bishops over that and it was not the first time. She has been friends with some more liberal bishops but they are getting fewer all the time.

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  26. Come on. We are repeating ourselves now. I addressed this. It makes no difference to her historical analysis whether the previous teaching considered it immoral. Moreover their letter explicitly excluded the explanation you are giving. The USCCB made claims about history and science not morality. Had they wanted to say what you said, then they should have indicated her historical analysis was absolutely correct but the conclusions she was drawing was incorrect. They didn't say that.

    They didn't get into details. They made a broad characterization of her argument. They said "Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion." I think that is fair comment. She presented a distorted picture. They didn't dig into precisely where her errors were but they were talking to the media. How much detail is the press really going to understand?

    This is really key. A factual statement would have been something like "Nancy Pelosi's history about church teaching on the connection between sex, pregnancy and human life was substantially correct.

    But that isn't factual. She has some quotes that seem strong when taken out of context and read to an audience ignorant of the long and strong tradition against contraception, abortion and infanticide. Pelosi is referring to an island of theological speculation and ignoring the ocean of consistent teaching.

    This is very much like the situation with Galileo. The Pope has 100% authority to determine whether believing the earth rotates around the sun is heresy. He has 0% authority in determining whether it is true or not. If the pope wants to make claims to truth about the movement of celestial bodies then he meets Galileo on an equal playing field.

    I don't get the connection here but I give you point for working Galileo in. People attacking the church always try and do that. But you are confused about truth and heresy. Saying something is heresy is saying it is false. So there is no distinction there. The right distinction to draw is the line between science and religion. That does not suit you parallel to the Pelosi case because Pelosi was discussing the Catholic faith and Galileo was mostly restrictign his attention to science.

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  27. Your argument amounted to "is to" and I said as much at the time. I've asked this question a dozen times. If a embryo is human from the moment of conception why can it take on other forms if hit with non-human RNA? Your cells don't do that. If the fetus is fully human why does it have non human characteristics like fur?

    I guess I have trouble taking this objection seriously. If I want to find out if you are human I won't start by asking what would happen if I blasted you with a flame-thrower. It would just be a very strange way to approach the question. It seems more like a rhetorical trick to avoid the obvious. The fetus is not a chicken. It is not a sea bass. It is not a cauliflower. It is human.

    Who says fur is a non-human characteristic? If all humans had fur at one point in their development then it is by definition a human characteristic. It is a non-intuitive fact about a fetus. But so what? What you need is something that points to another answer to the question of when human life begins. Something that points to a change in the essence of what it is. Even then you probably need to admit the species is human. I don't see a way around that. But if you want to save St Thomas Aquinas's reasoning you have to find some point when fully human dignity kicks in.

    Of course, you can't do that and remain an orthodox liberal. Liberals have to support abortion through all 9 months, partial birth abortions, anything. If you say an unborn child is worthy of any respect at any point then you will be suspected as a closet conservative. So the whole Pelosi argument is insincere in that no liberal will accept its conclusion. They put it forward only to obfuscate the logic of the pro-life side. Their side has no real counter argument.

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  28. I'd still deny that, but that's an entirely different rabbit hole. The fornication that generally leads to abortion or contraception, or the lust that leads to the fornication are all sins. The question is whether the definition of abortion changed.

    Actually that is not the question. The question is whether the change is of the nature of a development or a corruption. So the fact that the moral answers were not changing, what was wrong was still wrong, that is huge.

    Once we establish that the doctrines of the 12th century are the authentic Catholic teachings and the current teachings are nothing more than Victorianism... Once we are back to using Catholic language... restoration of menses before quickening then we can start talking about Catholic teachings in their proper context. But that means dropping the Victorian mindset.
    The doctrines of the 12 century are authentic Catholic teachings. The current doctrines are authentic Catholic teachings. They are a deeper understanding of the same truth. Were they influenced by a Victorian mindset? So what if they were? The Holy Spirit leads His church using whatever He wishes.

    Right now you are trying to read modern theology back into the past and pretending that the other side are just "theological nitwits" rather than their was a well developed counter case.

    I am trying to find the modern teaching in the past in a less developed form. It is not hard to do. Try here
    http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/earlychurchfathers/fatherscover.html

    I don't think the other side are nitwits in the sense that they lack knowledge. It is more the case of politics driving theology. That the argument only has to make sense politically and not theologically. So it ends up being pretty silly when judged purely on theological merits. But rationalizations for sin are often pretty silly. That is human nature.

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  29. OK these needs to be addressed in two very different points. I've been arguing that the modern abortion / contraception position is a violation of Catholocism's own claims to be preaching an unchanging doctrine handled down from the apostles since it is essentially an out of the blue innovation which contradict earlier teaching from the 2nd half of the 19th century. I think the Newman test is a fair test for doctrinal continuity. And the fact that the modern positions fails so badly should give you pause if you actually believe the Newman test is a valid test of doctrinal continuity is important, which is what essentially all Catholics believe.

    Actually it was not at all clear to me that you were trying to apply Newman's tests to abortion/contraception. That is very weird. Certainly the Protestant churches have been called inconsistent for accepting contraception. Many protestants have acknowledged that is true.

    1) Preservation of Type -- The old theory had a 3 fold division of the soul originated by Pythagoras and culminating in the doctrines of St. Augustine. The new doctrine completely rejects the entire Aristotle theory and instead uses the an opposing theory similar to Plotinus' that the soul has no meaningful material effects but is the true or greater reality, an immortal spirit which exists inside each human....

    The science has completely changed. That is not to be the focus. Aristotle was wrong. So reflections based on Aristotle's thinking are going to be of limited value. Development of doctrine principles can't be applied to science. Science can declare previous theories completely wrong.


    3) Power of Assimilation -- Agrees with other principles. The new system assimilates far better with the rest of Catholic sexual morality. It however assimilates far worse with Catholic metaphysics moving far closer to Gnostic ideas of the soul. Call it 1/2.

    I don't see your problem with Gnosticism. They never went there.

    4) Logical Sequence -- Nope the church goes back and forth on this issue too often. Sometimes being incredibly strict, sometimes conflating abortion with adultery or fornication (the underlying cause) and other times being indifferent. Much more in common with fashion than logical sequence.
    You need to separate doctrine and practice. The doctrine has been the same while sometimes enforcement was more or less strictly. It is a hard problem and the church has gone around in circles in terms of strategy. It has not lost sight of the goal. Chastity, respect for life, etc.


    5) Anticipation of Its Future -- Yes. I think the intent of the original proponents especially Pope Pius IX was to achieve the viewpoint that now exists.

    Very strange that you feel a pope as late as Pius IX had such power. Modernism was in full swing by this time. If he has really come out with this teaching having no support in Catholic tradition I just can't imagine it sticking. Think of the church's response to Humanae Vitae. You would get than except way worse if this really came out of the blue.

    7) Chronic Vigour -- Nope. This idea met resistance starting in the 1870s. There was a widespread belief within 100 years that it would be repudiated. When it failed to be, there has been massive rejection by the faithful and desertion by priests at all levels. Chronic sickness.

    Actually I think that since Humanae Vitae we saw an initial rejection and now are seeing a slow embrace. Starting with John Paul's Theology of the Body talks in the early 80's the tide has been turning. It is no longer rare to hear a bishop teach against contraception. The current HHS fight would have been unthinkable 30 years ago.

    So on Newman's 7 point scale I give the Humane Vitae morality a 1.5. It should be rejected as heresy using his system.

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  30. But excluding the extreme cases you have a point. Ensoulment happens at conception. But to say it happens at the same time as the seed is transmitted is not the same thing as to say it is transmitted with the seed. Depending on what you mean "transmitted with the seed" could be a heresy.

    Well at the least the early fathers did think it was the same thing. Do humans control ensoulment? If I take 200 eggs out of a woman's ovaries and fertilize them in a dish did I just end up with 200 new souls? The church rejected the idea that humans could make souls the way they make a saddle.

    Her position is complex. I don't doubt her desire to remain a Catholic spiritually is sincere.

    Exactly. She doesn't hate the church.

    But she hates the fact that the church has remained pro-life and pro-marriage.

    Except in her mind it hasn't. She dislikes the fact that the Bishops remained pro-life. Democrats are just as pro marriage as Republicans if not moreso so there is no objections there.

    They didn't dig into precisely where her errors were but they were talking to the media. How much detail is the press really going to understand?

    Quite a bit. The press is familiar with the abortion argument. And this is a major point of interest. Her argument is becoming more common among Democrats.

    But that isn't factual. She has some quotes that seem strong when taken out of context and read to an audience ignorant of the long and strong tradition against contraception, abortion and infanticide

    Hold on a second. The quotes, for example from Aquinas are taken fully in context. You want to add additional context that the issue Aquinas was addressing regarding ensoulment and Aristotle is not the primary issue but rather moral issues are primary even though there is no hint of that in the original.

    Saying something is heresy is saying it is false.

    Using the Galileo analogy there is a problem there. His statements were heretical.

    That does not suit you parallel to the Pelosi case because Pelosi was discussing the Catholic faith

    She was discussing the history of the Catholic faith. That's a secular topic, a secular topic that impacts the Catholic faith, but a secular topic non the less. What various religious figures did or did not say is a question of history, not faith.

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  31. The fetus is not a chicken. It is not a sea bass. It is not a cauliflower. It is human.

    Your begging the question again. The fetus is human because the fetus is human.

    What you need is something that points to another answer to the question of when human life begins. Something that points to a change in the essence of what it is.

    Not really. I didn't think there are essentially differences between humans and animals. But if you want an essentially difference I gave one earlier. 8 months. All non human characteristics are gone and uniquely human brain structures start to form. That is a real change is essence. Whatever is unique about humans is in their brain and you finally have a brain that is human.

    Of course, you can't do that and remain an orthodox liberal. Liberals have to support abortion through all 9 month... If you say an unborn child is worthy of any respect at any point then you will be suspected as a closet conservative.

    Since when do you have to support abortion to 9 months? You are getting into rant mode again. Lots of liberals (essentially all) approve of sharp severe restrictions in the 3rd trimester.

    So the whole Pelosi argument is insincere in that no liberal will accept its conclusion.

    I'm a liberal, I accept the conclusions.

    The question is whether the change is of the nature of a development or a corruption. So the fact that the moral answers were not changing, what was wrong was still wrong, that is huge.

    Nope.... it used to be wrong to believe the embryo had a human soul. Now it isn't wrong. So the moral answers were changing.

    Were they influenced by a Victorian mindset? So what if they were?

    Then they are Protestantism, not Catholicism and rightly rejected just like sola fide.

    I am trying to find the modern teaching in the past in a less developed form. It is not hard to do. Try here http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/earlychurchfathers/fatherscover.html

    Try and find quotes that support your positions on ensoulment. Whatever church fathers considered abortion they condemned. That's clear. These quotes BTW support my position as much as yours. Augustine for example considers life to begin at formation not conception. I.E. the child is alive once it has an an animal soul which happens around quickening. So for example he allows for the notion that vitality does not exist at conception. Remember the debate is not directly on the morality of abortion, but rather the validity of the modern position, that a newly conceived fetus has an intellectual soul. Augustine agrees with Pelosi on ensoulment and agrees with you on the impermissability of abortion. That doesn't help your case of this being a consistent teaching of the church, it hurts it.

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  32. Certainly the Protestant churches have been called inconsistent for accepting contraception. Many protestants have acknowledged that is true.

    Protestants have an even worse time than Catholics since they believe in sola scriptura. Abortion was common place in the empire. During the time when the bible was being written the old Roman custom of seeing abortion as a violation of the husband's property rights was passing out of fashion and the Stoic position that life began with first breath was becoming common so even the moral prohibitions were disappearing.

    And into this climate of a society that makes heavy use of abortion and weakening restrictions the New Testament makes 0 comments on the topic. Protestant views on sexual topics are whatever they happen to think is cool at that given point and time.

    That being said American Protestants were all over the map on contraception prior to the civil war, became generally opposed soon after, and changed their mind by the 1920s. They were not even particularly troubled by abortion when Roe passed, Protestant denominations were adopting pro life positions at the time and abortion was mainly a Catholic / fundamentalist issue.

    Besides you generally want to exclude Liberal Protestant Denomination from consideration, which during the time we are talking about were almost all Protestants.

    The science has completely changed. That is not to be the focus. Aristotle was wrong.

    How could the science possibly change on the soul if it is supernatural and not responsible for specific material effects? If it is not measurable, then there is no science of the soul.

    If you want a soul that is measurable then the science supports Aristotle. The fetus is able to move of its own volition roughly at quickening which is pretty much what Aristotle said.

    CD: Power of Assimilation -- Agrees with other principles. The new system assimilates far better with the rest of Catholic sexual morality. It however assimilates far worse with Catholic metaphysics moving far closer to Gnostic ideas of the soul. Call it 1/2.

    Randy: I don't see your problem with Gnosticism. They never went there.


    Yes they did. Under the old theory the soul was tied very tightly to specific bodily functions. The soul was meaningfully of the body, which is why we have a bodily resurrection. The immaterial soul that has no properties is Gnostic. It is far more consistent with doctrines like a spiritual resurrection, since if the body does nothing for the soul why have bodies at all?

    Yes, to support the Victorian / Protestant theory Catholics had to adopt the Gnostic ideas that Protestantism has been trading in.

    You need to separate doctrine and practice. The doctrine has been the same while sometimes enforcement was more or less strictly.

    I'm not saying enforcement was lax, I'm saying the doctrine was actually different. Again in the early 19th century you had Catholic in America who agreed that restoration of menses was moral. That's a shift in doctrine.

    Very strange that you feel a pope as late as Pius IX had such power. Modernism was in full swing by this time. If he has really come out with this teaching having no support in Catholic tradition I just can't imagine it sticking. Think of the church's response to Humanae Vitae.

    It wasn't controversial with men at the time except among women. Men liked the idea of of putting birth under the medical establishment , which men controlled, and away from women's folk health. Pushing back against women's rights, was fashionable in the 1870s, especially among conservatives.

    Actually I think that since Humanae Vitae we saw an initial rejection and now are seeing a slow embrace.

    I don't agree if you define the church broadly. If you define it only as practicing Catholics then yeah the church may have blown off the leftmost 4/5th and now has a consensus on Humanae Vitae.

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