Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaking Bad And Grundy's Morality Challenge

Grundy blogs at  Diety-Smeity. I found this challenge on his blog.
If you believe the only way to explain common morality is by appealing to a higher power, it must be that you can't think of natural, human reasons to be good. If you could, then those reasons should be all the explanation you need. To defend your position, I ask you to submit a moral situation for which only God can be the explanation for why a reasonable person would do the right thing. In return, I will offer an entirely human answer for the moral choice I, and likely many others, would make.
This challenge misses the mark by a lot. The first statement is false. The problem is not that I can't find human reasons to be good. In fact, the very fact that I acknowledge something as good means I see reasons for doing it. So where is the problem?

G.K. Chesterton said, “We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. What we want is a religion that is right where we are wrong.”

That really sums it up. What if our reasoning fails? What if we conclude something is good and it is not? The classic example is Hitler. Really anyone doing something immoral. People have reasons for what they do. They convince themselves they are doing the right thing. They can be very wrong.  So how does one know when he has made a serious moral error?

If you use reason alone you are in a lot of trouble. Anyone who has argued with someone who has arrived at a wrong conclusion through reason can appreciate how sure of themselves they can be. Whether you argue politics or religion or even sports it is not at all uncommon to have two rational people totally sure they are right but we know at least one must be wrong because they contradict. They can debate endlessly and it almost never resolves it.

So we want to do good and avoid evil. We don't want to be the guy who thinks he is doing right but ends up doing evil. We can't trust pure reason. So it helps to have something outside yourself to check your reason against. Something that is likely to be right when you are wrong. For GK Chesterton that something was the Catholic Church. For many Christians that something is the bible. The church works better than the bible here because the bible can be twisted but even that is better than nothing.

The truth is we think we are right all the time. We know that is not a rational position to take but we like our thinking because it is ours and we don't like to be corrected. We don't really believe we will go that far wrong. Sure Hitler went very wrong but that is just an extreme example.

It makes me think of Breaking Bad. On that show the main character makes a lot of moral choices. They all seem reasonable. You can make an argument for any of them. Still they get him, bit by bit, further and further into immorality. I am only at the end of season two and he has done some pretty horrific things. He has completely lost his moral center and there really isn't much that he would not do at this point. There are still three season to go.

His reason is corrupted by some hard circumstances and some deep wounds. Nobody wants to judge him. Still we don't ever want to become the kind of man he becomes. How do we avoid it? One key is a moral anchor. Walt has none. No religion to be right when he is wrong.

Making important choices actually makes it harder for him to discover his error because it would involve facing the fact that he has done some horrible things. He can't admit that to himself and he certainly can't admit that to his family.  So instead of getting out of the drug business he gets in deeper.

I know it is fiction but it shows how evil can grow and get out of control. We need grace. Nobody plans to be a drug addict. Nobody plans to end up in jail. Nobody plans to get divorced. It starts with a few bad choices and it gets out of control.

40 comments:

  1. So...you're not taking the challenge then?

    It seems problematic that you place your morality in the hands of an "infallible" Pope. Unquestioning trust in authority is what lead many Germans to sign off on Hitler's actions. Is there no point when your own judgment would over rule what the Pope says you should do or should not do? Why isn't the Pope subject to the same errors in judgement you are? I believe the Catholic Church has changed their minds about things in the past...does that mean they were previously incorrect or currently incorrect or that morality changes over time?

    I have so many questions. :-)

    Also, Breaking Bad is a great show and an interesting character study. I was left very uncomfortable during this season's cliff hanger. No spoilers, don't worry.

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  2. I am not sure what would satisfy your challenge. Would I need a situation where reason fails? How could I prove to you your reasoning was wrong? I could show pro-life atheists and pro-choice atheists and try and show one must be wrong. Proving you are wrong when your own opinion is your only criteria for good and evil seems like a pretty safe challenge on your part.

    Not all the pope's teachings are infallible. There have been bad popes. I could imagine going against a pope but that is not so realistic. The truth is the pope almost never has addressed my exact situation. Papal teachings help form my conscience. Then I am on my own.

    I am glad you have questions. God bless you.

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  3. The challenge is simply to offer a moral situation that only God, or I suppose the Pope, can correctly inform.

    How do you determine a bad pope or when to go against the pope?

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  4. The key out for you is the word "correctly." You can arrive an an answer. It is not always right but you will always think it is right.

    A bad pope can be determined by previous Catholic tradition. Some popes were involved with sexual or financial scandals. Many saints have criticized popes for showing weak leadership. Recent popes have been very good so that does not come up much.

    Still the doctrine of infallibility is limited by 4 conditions. Here is the short version.

    When the Pope (1) intends to teach (2) by virtue of his supreme authority (3) on a matter of faith and morals (4) to the whole Church, he is preserved by the Holy Spirit from error.

    http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/papac2.htm

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  5. So you think morality is subjective?

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  6. So you admit that we come to our own assessments of morality which may differ from one another, yet you think morality is objective. You can imagine going against the pope on a moral issue and the church has been incorrect in the past, yet it is the definitive guide for morality.

    I have nothing more to add.

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  7. Morality is not simple. There are some important things we need to get right. I won't differ from the pope on those. I even have a consistent method for determining when a moral question is that category or not. When it is not then opinions may differ. Even the pope can be wrong on those issues. The church, as church, cannot be wrong. Any individual within the church can be wrong but when the church speaks as church it cannot be.

    So the church is the definitive guide to the basics. When we get to real life the questions can get complex. We build our own personal morality on the morality of the church which is the morality of Christ. Still it is our own. We all build our houses on the same rock but the houses reflect our individual character.

    Can morality be individual? Sure. God's will for your life is different from God's will for mine. Morality is just living in harmony with that will. Suppose God wants you to go write music. If you understand that is God's will for your life then it is immoral for you to not write music. But that does not make it subjective. It does not depend on your opinion. It is between you and God but it is still objectively real.

    Now when we talk about morality we don't often talk about the personal case. We often are only referring to just those laws that all humans are bound to obey. So that can confuse things even more.

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  8. Hey Randy, first, I must say it is very manipulative of you to put breaking bad at the top here, now I have no choice but to add you to my feed reader :)

    Seriously though, there were a few things about this post that jumped out to me.

    "We can't trust pure reason"

    I'm not sure what else I can trust other than reason. You suggest the church and the bible, but these are both flawed options. There are terrible things in the bible that we would agree shouldn't be followed, and as you pointed out yourself, there have been bad popes. So how do I decide which parts of the bible I follow, and which popes I follow? We arrive back at reason.

    "The truth is we think we are right all the time."

    I know that some people (maybe a lot of people) think this way, but I definitely do not. I know I've been wrong in the past, and I know I'll be wrong again in the future. The best thing to do then, is to try to find the places where I am wrong as fast as possible and fix it. The best way to do that is to look at where I disagree with people, try to figure out why they think what they think, look at how I came to my conclusion, and then decide if their idea is worth dislodging my own. I never just assume I am right unless my idea has stood up to this kind of scrutiny multiple times. And even still, if someone comes along with a new argument I'm always willing to reevaluate again. The only way to accomplish this as far as I can see is through reason.

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  9. Thanks for reading Hausdorff. I am glad you like the Braking Bad reference. The show is interesting in a number of ways but especially in the way it portrays moral choices.

    I'm not sure what else I can trust other than reason. You suggest the church and the bible, but these are both flawed options. There are terrible things in the bible that we would agree shouldn't be followed, and as you pointed out yourself, there have been bad popes. So how do I decide which parts of the bible I follow, and which popes I follow? We arrive back at reason.

    The church can help. Catholic tradition can help us read the bible rightly. It can also sort out which popes were good or bad.

    Faith must purify reason and reason must purify faith. If we use one and discard the other we get in trouble. The truth will always be consistent with true divine revelation and with sound reason. So we should not be afraid of either. If the Catholic church really is who she says she is then she will never ask us to believe anything contrary to reason.

    You are right that if no divine revelation is trustworthy then we have a problem with what to trust. In the area of science we can trust experimental data because that will purify our reason. Once we get away from the material world into the areas of morality and the purpose of man we end up with nothing solid to anchor our reason. So we end up with endless human opinions and no real knowledge.

    I know that some people (maybe a lot of people) think this way, but I definitely do not. I know I've been wrong in the past, and I know I'll be wrong again in the future. The best thing to do then, is to try to find the places where I am wrong as fast as possible and fix it.

    With all due respect, everyone says this. Everyone is sincere and tries to do this. But we still have many smart people arrive at contradictory opinions. The truth is reason can lead us to false conclusions and we will be 1000% convinced we are right. It is the other guy who is doing this reason thing wrong. Except he is doing exactly the same thing as you.

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  10. "if no divine revelation is trustworthy"

    I had a few things I wanted to point out, but I think this is the key right here. We are obviously going to disagree on this point, and it will lead to the disagreements in all of the others. If you have a divine revelation, how do you go about deciding whether or not it is trustworthy? How do you know it is not coming from the devil instead of God, isn't it possible you are being manipulated? How do you know the feelings you are having are not the result of a tumor?

    Further, how would someone like me, who has never experienced a divine revelation, determine whether or not they are trustworthy? I would have to trust the person having the revelation in 2 ways, first I would have to trust that they are not lying to me trying to manipulate me, and second I would have to trust that they are able to tell the difference between a revelation from God and something else that they are mistaking for it.

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  11. These are all valid questions. The general reply I would make is to ask how you come to trust anyone or anything. I trust Jesus. I do not trust Mohammad. Why? Reason plays an important role. Jesus' claims were less self-serving. They were more in line with previous revelation. Then there is the nature of the claims. Jesus' teaching of total, self-sacrificing love is something so amazing and so simple no human could have made it up. Mohammad's ideas of holy wars and 40 virgins are the stuff a man would make up.

    Anyway, it goes beyond reason. It becomes a choice. It is like choosing a wife. Just knowing that there is nothing irrational about marrying her is not enough. It takes an act of the will that is motivated by her beauty and her goodness. You choose to spend the rest of your life with her forsaking all others. You give yourself away.

    Choosing Jesus is similar. A choice based on pure logic is not enough. What you give up is too personal. He wants your soul. What He will do with it is much better than what you will do with it but it is yours.

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  12. The whole idea that no human could have made it up I just find amusing. It's not like selflessness and generosity didn't exist before 2000 years ago.

    The comparison of Jesus and getting married breaks down a bit because I know for sure that my wife exists. I have zero evidence of Jesus. I know you will probably say that you do because you talk to him or something, but I've never had any such experience.

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  13. The whole idea that no human could have made it up I just find amusing. It's not like selflessness and generosity didn't exist before 2000 years ago.

    He did what you would expect a God-man to do. That is to take the best of human understanding about God and take it to a whole new level. His teaching leaves you in awe when you first hear it and continues to amaze as you reflect on it year after year. Try reading Matthew 5 and see what I mean.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat%205&version=NIV1984

    The comparison of Jesus and getting married breaks down a bit because I know for sure that my wife exists. I have zero evidence of Jesus. I know you will probably say that you do because you talk to him or something, but I've never had any such experience.

    Zero evidence? Now that is amusing. Would you say there is zero evidence Julius Caesar existed?

    At some point you need to find Christian tradition trustworthy. That is where Catholics are more consistent and coherent.

    The key is to scrutinize atheism as well. Atheists just assert that somebody wrote the New Testament at some point and then Christians just accepted it. They just ignore the huge problems with that. When did this happen? Who was involved? What was their motive? How were they able to convince so many in an environment of persecution?

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    1. Sorry I should have been more clear. When I said zero evidence of Jesus, I meant I have zero evidence that he exists right now. He may or may not have existed in the past as a historical figure.

      As to the sermon on the mount, I have read it, I honestly wasn't that impressed with it. I found it to have a fairly equal mix of good and bad advice honestly. I actually thought that in matthew 5 there were mostly stuff I didn't like all that much, although in matthew 6 and matthew 7 there were some good pieces of advice.

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    2. Even that is not zero evidence. One can say he does not believe in life after death but to say there is zero evidence is quite a bit stronger. I can go into any group of over 10 people and ask about dead people appearing. You always get stories. People claim their loved ones and sometimes others came and talked to them. Not just a few crazies but lots of people. You can dismiss these stories but that is your choice. Still you objectively can't say there is zero evidence.

      Appearances of Jesus and Mary are off the scale. There are so many. Some are easily dismissed. Some not so easily. Again, to say zero evidence is not really interacting with the facts. It is either denying them or just being unaware of them.

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    3. Fine, I've never seen any good evidence. There are also plenty of people who say they have been probed by aliens, but I would also argue that there is no good evidence that this has ever happened.

      You say that some of the appearances of Jesus and mary are not easily dismissed, point me to one and I'll look into it.

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    4. There are many. Fatima, Lourdes, Guadeloupe, etc. They all have some serious supernatural phenomenon behind them.

      Beyond that there are many that have one or two reliable witnesses. Atheists often commit the "No True Scotsman" fallacy by simply labelling all the witnesses unreliable.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

      For example, St Faustina Kowalska would be a reliable witness under normal circumstances. She was a polish nun. They are not known to be big liars. But the second she claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus then many people chose to label her as unreliable. I am not just talking atheists. Many Christians had the same reaction. Pope John Paul II was not one of them. That is why he canonized her.

      At the end of the day the big question is whether there is any evidence that would convince you? How many witnesses would it take? Is there any scientific analysis you would believe? If Jesus met you like He did St Paul would you dismiss it as an overactive imagination?

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    5. Interesting that you said Jesus isn't a story anyone could make up and followed up with that he did what you'd expect him to do.

      There is a lot of stuff that would convince me that God exists. Statistical evidence of prayer working, scientific evidence that the fundamental laws of the universe could be different and that ours is the only universe, and personal divine revelation are a few examples. What would convince you that God doesn't exist?

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    6. I expect Jesus to be smarter than me or any human before or since. He has filled that expectation.

      Statistical evidence of prayer working? Is that like praying for $1 million and if it does not appear God does not exist? There have been a few studies of this. I don't like the double blind ones. You turn God into your lab rat and wonder why he does not run through the maze.

      The studies where people pray and everyone knows what is happening normally show some benefit. People say it is psychosomatic. That is really just a word for it and not an explanation. God works and gives you the choice to beleive or not.

      Scientific evidence that the fundamental laws of the universe could be different and that ours is the only universe? Not sure that is even possible.

      Personal divine revelation? What would that look like? How likely would you be to decide that you must have imagined it?

      What would convince me that God does not exist? That is hard. Maybe if some alien of great intelligence came down and demonstrated that world was just his toy. To say that God does not exist and nothingness is really God? That I will admit I find implausible on so many levels that it is hard for me to imagine one piece of evidence that would do it.

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    7. If one church or faith lived longer or were less susceptible to disease that would be evidence of prayer working. If some crusade had a perfect record of holy wars won, that would be compelling. Or a scientific experiment could be set up, but you don't like those...possibly because they rule out subjectivity.

      If evidence that our fundamental laws could be different and that ours is the only universe is not possible, then the fine tuning argument will forever be pointless. Too bad, since I consider that the best argument for God.

      If there is a God and he is omnipotent, that making a believer out of me is surely within his power--hence the possibility of a divine revelation is God is real.

      You brought up the point that nothing may convince Hausdorff that he is wrong, probably to show he is close minded on this subject. It doesn't sound like you are any more open minded (Id say less so) so why bring it up? I'm only pointing out double standards here, which there have been many.

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    8. It boils down to faith. Christians admit they have faith. Atheists don't. So I am not saying Hausdorff is close minded. I don't consider myself to be close minded. I am saying atheism is not more rational. It involves just as much faith. We don't live in a world where the ultimate questions can be answered fully by reason. God's existence or non-existence is not provable. God chose to let faith play a role. Or of you are atheist you have to believe yet anther huge coincidence. You are used to that.

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    9. I understand the desire to believe in something larger. What bothers me are the world's current religions that give believers a false sense of objective knowledge. Believe what you want, but know that it is just a belief, nothing necessarily true. Absolute faith is what most atheists don't have.

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    10. You don't think atheists have absolute faith? They seem really sure of themselves. Atheism itself fulfills a person's desire to believe something larger. This is why we have so many zealous atheists. People who feel there is some virtue in loving atheism and hating theism with great strength.

      Over-zealousness is a human problem. Replacing Catholicism with atheism does not make it go away. In fact, it becomes harder to control because you don't have clear moral teaching or authoritative leaders to appeal to.

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    11. Atheism isn't a replacement for religion, it is something different. I know for myself, when I left religion, I was pretty uninterested in the whole thing for about 10 years. What got me interested recently and made me into a 'zealous atheist', is that I looked around see all of the harm religion does. Evolution denial, priests raping children and being covered up, the church telling people condoms don't work, etc. This isn't based on faith, it's based on what I see in the world.

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    12. BTW, I do agree with you that some atheists are overly full of themselves, but I would argue this is a symptom of them being humans rather than being athiests. :)

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    13. How do you see atheism fulfilling the desire to believe in something larger?

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    14. That is the point. When you leave religion and remain uninterested in it then you are not an atheist. You are just a lapsed Catholic or perhaps a lapsed something else. Someone who has stopped going to church.

      Most atheists are very concerned about the alleged immorality of religion. This is ironic because they reject the notion of an objective morality. Still Jesus says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." Atheists seem to do that. Often they seem to have found religion. That is they care much more about religious questions than when they stopped going to church.

      So I would say your recent move to become a zealous atheist probably brought you closer to God. It is a bit like the Catholics who find Jesus and develop a hatred for the Catholic church. It is mostly a good development.

      Anyway, the Catholic church does not deny evolution. It is important to have a religions whose dogmas are true. That is why the doctrine of infallibility matters. Religions can't avoid dogmas and without the grace of God we can't avoid getting them wrong once in a while. Catholicism actually claims to have that grace. Protestants deny they need it. Not all protestants have turned evolution denial into a dogma but way too many have. By dogma I mean you can't reasonably be a member of that church if you deny it.

      Priests raping children and being covered up? Who is saying that is OK? It happens. It does not happen just in religion. It is a bigger problem with public school teacher than it is with priests. Still we have to do better as a church.

      Churchmen will always struggle with sin because they are human. If they were not churchmen but just men would they sin less? I don't see that.

      The church telling people condoms don't work? Not sure what you mean by this. If you mean that sending million of condoms to an African nation won't solve their AIDS epidemic then that is just obvious from the data. If you mean that the church says a condom won't physically prevent pregnancy and disease in a particular sex act then that is false. The church does not say that.

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    15. How do you see atheism fulfilling the desire to believe in something larger?

      Atheism is fashionable. The media love it. They are all over the internet. It is a movement. There is also a larger idea that somehow man will advance if he rids himself of religion. Again that is ironic because the notion of advancing involves objective measures of goodness which atheists tend to reject. Still most atheists do believe atheism is growing and that growth is positive.

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    16. Your definitions are a little strange to me, to me, atheist means that I do not believe in God, and I definitely stopped believing in God long before you would classify me as an atheist. But labels aren't that big of a deal, so I'll move on.

      "Priests raping children and being covered up? Who is saying that is OK?"

      The higher ups in the catholic church who are more interested in covering it up than protecting the children are the ones who say it is okay. This does happen in schools as well, but when teachers are found out they are not sent to a different unsuspecting school with no real punishment. The catholic church continues to protect these guys.

      As far as the condom thing, the only article I could find was the guardian, so what I said is overstated, although as recently as 2009 the pope still says condoms are not allowed to be used.

      The evolution thing, yeah catholics seem to be on the right side of that, but there are plenty of other Christians in america who are not.

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    17. Your definitions are a little strange to me, to me, atheist means that I do not believe in God, and I definitely stopped believing in God long before you would classify me as an atheist. But labels aren't that big of a deal, so I'll move on.

      I think lots of people stop believing on God and don't self-identify as atheist. I think the thing that is labeled atheism is different from what the word actually means.

      The higher ups in the catholic church who are more interested in covering it up than protecting the children are the ones who say it is okay.

      Actually a cover-up implies it is not OK. Nobody covers up behavior they unless they are ashamed of it. We are talking about something everyone involved saw as bad. They still did it. That is deeply disappointing. Still the Catholic church did not teach something was right when it was wrong. That is what she claims. That when she speaks for God she speaks rightly. She never claimed her member were incapable of sin. How could she? There are counter-examples in every era of history.

      The catholic church continues to protect these guys.

      I dearly hope not. They should really have learned their lesson by now. Still it would not matter to the greater question of whether Catholicism is true.

      the pope still says condoms are not allowed to be used

      That is correct. Sex, marriage, and procreation must be interconnected. When people accept that then man and woman will be drawn into a love of radical self-giving. When they don't they get locked in a relationship where they use each other for pleasure but never really love. Love is the greatest good so anything that frustrates true love is going to be bad.

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    18. "The catholic church continues to protect these guys.

      I dearly hope not. They should really have learned their lesson by now. Still it would not matter to the greater question of whether Catholicism is true. "

      That's true that it wouldn't prove Catholicism is false or anything, but I was explaining why I decided it was important to speak out. Although I would argue that it should make Catholics consider not giving the church any of their money. And they are still helping, they are paying for their legal defense, even when they are repeat offenders.

      http://bitchspot.jadedragononline.com/2012/11/17/catholic-church-pays-repeat-pedophile-priest-legal-costs/

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    19. I don't know enough about these cases to comment. An order typically does arrange for a lawyer when one of its members is charged with a crime. I don't think that is a bad policy. In these cases the order itself often has exposure to legal liability. I do wonder whether that plays into it.

      You might consider not giving money to some of these orders. Not giving to the church itself is something I would never do. The church is the body of Christ. If you love someone you do not stop helping them when their body has been battered and bruised. Jesus will not let the gates of hell prevails against His church.

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    20. "Not giving to the church itself is something I would never do."

      This actually bothers me somewhat, when you say never, do you really mean never or is it just extremely unlikely? I'd be fine with extremely unlikely.

      Here's my thinking. You've said yourself that people within the church are capable of doing bad things, they are human after all. It's certainly possible for someone with bad intentions to get into the church. Isn't it conceivable that someone could work their way into a church leadership position and use the church for their own nefarious purposes? If this were to happen, wouldn't it makes sense to stop supporting them financially until they get their house in order? You could even set the money that you had planned to tithe to the side and give it all to the church once they fix their problems if you wish, or give it to your favorite charity who you see as doing god's work.

      I would argue that this has already happened, that leaders of the catholic church are using the church for bad things and you should stop supporting them financially, but even if you disagree with me, do you really think such a thing is impossible? Saying you will support them no matter what they do gives them a lot of power.

      One last thought, you probably believe in the devil right? Isn't it possible he would send an agent to infiltrate the church and use it for evil?

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    21. I can get that you don't understand because it is a matter of faith. As Catholics we see the church as an object of faith. It is the same church St Paul calls "the pillar and bulwark of the truth" in 1 Tim 3:15. It is a unique instrument of God. The people in the church are still sinners and can fail quite badly. The church as a whole cannot. It can go through some hard times and do things in a highly sub-optimal way but it cannot fail to accomplish what God has for it.

      So could some evil men take control of the top positions in the church including the papacy? Sure. I think it did happen in the 15th century. But does that mean we can withdraw our financial support or even our obedience and perhaps start another church as Martin Luther did? No. We must trust God to not let a few bad leaders ruin His church. The ship will get back on course. We must do what we can to make that happen but in the meantime we respect the church, the current pope, and the bishops despite the failings. BTW, the 15th century church did get back on course with a reform in the 16th century. Meanwhile those that decided schism was justified just kept splitting until now there is little discernible unity or truth left in protestantism.

      Talking about the current church, I don't see your point at all. Yes, there have been disappointments with some decisions around the abuse scandal. Still I think Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have been amazing. We have many solid bishops. The priests are generally wonderful. Nobody is perfect but at every level people are doing a better job than I would.

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  14. I didn't bring up Matthew 5 to ask whether you agreed with it. That is not the point. A teaching like "love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" is pretty radical. It is either terrible advise or it is so good that humans cannot think at that level of goodness. Same with "if you look at a woman lustfully you have committed adultery." Same with "You are the light of the world." They all seem insane. Either crazy good or crazy stupid but definitely not what you expect a religious leader to say.

    The cross takes that to an even higher level. Could it all have been made up? If it is a lie there is no lie like it. A lie that rings so true in the depth of so many human hearts.

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  15. Ok, I looked up St Faustina Kowalska. I did a quick google search and landed here

    http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=510

    As best as I can figure, throughout her life she had a handful of visions of Jesus. You said you don't think she was a liar, and I would tend to agree, it said that she rearranged her life based on these visions. But how do we know that she is not mistaken? Maybe some of her visions were when she was on the border of sleep and it was really just a dream. Maybe she was having a minor seizure. Hey, maybe she was hallucinating because she was high. (I doubt it's that last one, but it is a possibility)

    Is this really the best evidence we have for Jesus? Something that is impossible for me to independently verify?

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    1. I would not say she is the best evidence for Jesus by herself. I would say the religious experiences of many people do count for something. It is possible to ignore it. Still when you talk to people who have had such experiences and reordered their life around them it is quite convincing. From the apostle Paul all the way down to Heaven Is For Real. The experiences keep happening. St Faustina Kowalska was able to convince Pope John Paul II many years later not only that the visions were real but that the whole church needed to focus on them one Sunday a year.

      There are many levels of this kind of story. Some very compelling and some not. You get back to a liar, lunatic, Lord type argument again. Either there is something real or people do a really good job of pretending they have encountered something real.

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