Quote: Reason’s last step (love it)

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Blaise Pascal was a scientific genius. He was pretty smart about other stuff, too.

“Reason’s last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.” – Blaise Pascal

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Catholic debating pro-life April 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm

…On the other hand, this means it is impossible to prove God either. And then the question becomes, Why would you believe in something you can’t prove? Not being able to disprove something is not a good reason to believe in it. Also, why believe in the Catholic God? Why not make your own God and believe in that, if you can’t disprove it?

Obviously I am Catholic and believe our faith, I’m just interested in seeing responses. I am very interested in disproving the sterotype that those who are religious are illogical and blind to the truth, so I’d like to see someone formulate a good answer to these questions.

Carol May 28, 2010 at 9:00 am

“Why would you believe in something you can’t prove?”
The short answer is: because he’s real. The long answer fills volumes upon volumes of books.
“Not being able to disprove something is not a good reason to believe in it.”
I beg to differ. We live our whole lives “believing” in things that have not been proven. That is how it must be. Can you “prove” that a light is red? Yet you still stop at it.
God is undeniable; just look around.
The truly blind are the ones who refuse to acknowledge a reality greater than themselves. It’s akin to my toddler claiming Chicago doesn’t exist because he hasn’t been there. Don’t get suckered into thinking you have to reason like a fool in order to convince a fool of anything.

Catholic Pro-lifer June 4, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for responding, but this seems like bad logic too.

Your “short answer” does absolutely nothing. It proves nothing. I have no more reason to believe in God now than before.

“I beg to differ. We live our whole lives “believing” in things that have not been proven. That is how it must be. Can you “prove” that a light is red? Yet you still stop at it.”

I stop at it because a empirical data, as well as my sense of sight, tells me light is red. No empirical data supports God’s existence (I believe this even as a Catholic. Empirical data cannot prove God.)

I have a good reason for believing a light is red. You have given me no good reason for God’s existence. Without a good reason, I don’t see why I should believe in God.

God is undeniable; just look around.
“The truly blind are the ones who refuse to acknowledge a reality greater than themselves. It’s akin to my toddler claiming Chicago doesn’t exist because he hasn’t been there. Don’t get suckered into thinking you have to reason like a fool in order to convince a fool of anything.”

This is nothing like your toddler saying Chicago doesn’t exist because he hasn’t been there. People HAVE been to Chicago, and there is empirical evidence Chicago exists. Nobody on the planet can empirically prove that God exists. Furthermore, if I had no empirical evidence proving the existence of Chicago I think it would be perfectly logical and defensible not to believe in Chicago. A better analogy would be your toddler saying Atlantis doesn’t exist because there isn’t good enough evidence that it does.

This reasoning is not foolish; you need to actually confront these questions if you want to convince anybody of God’s existence.

For the record I am a devout Catholic and am undergoing no crisis of faith. I fully and completely believe in God and the Catholic Church. I’m just trying to see if people can successfully defend it.

Carol June 6, 2010 at 2:00 am

Don’t you see how insane it is to request proof of a spiritual realm by physical means???
Why does everyone these days expect somebody else to do their thinking for them?
Try reading Descartes` “Meditations on First Philosophy”.
PLEASE stop with the “devout Catholic” thing. You’re making the rest of us look bad. No. I think it’s beautiful that you’re able to follow a “God” that you simply have faith in. But really, maybe you need to take a look at your prayer life. How much time do you spend meditating on the word of God (the Bible) or listen to the wisdom to the Church Fathers? You see, a “devout Catholic” should feel the presence of God and therefore see the audacity in expecting Him to perform a dog and pony show for the hoards … yet, even so; He DOES. He reveals himself every day and in every way possible yet still is spit on and denied. A “devout Catholic” would have studied the early church history: the Bible; the early church Fathers and Doctors; the lives of saints and therefore understand that the answers are most certainly out there; but nothing in short form can possibly encompass the grandeur of what it REALLY means to call oneself “Catholic”. It’s worse than putting the “Grand Canyon” on a postcard. (FYI: I am speaking to my younger self with these words – I improperly called myself a “devout Catholic” for decades never fully comprehending the injustice of what I was purporting.)
Empirical: “based on what is experienced or seen rather than on theory.” (Cambridge International Dictionary of English)
For millions of people throughout history; God has been experienced; God has been intimately involved in our lives. It is only a recent phenomenon that it has become socially acceptable to ridiculously question the existence of God. It takes a far greater leap of faith to believe that all of the infinitely vast variables that HAD to occur in order for us to not only exist, but to be AWARE of our existence occurred in just the right way, at just the right time. Wake up. Show me the “empirical data” where someone has created life from nothing; where someone has created something from nothing. And what about all the mistakes? Where are the “failed” life-forms? Hmm? One might try to point to the fossil record, but if you really study it, you will see that there are not just huge gaps in evolutionary science where no record exists at all, but there are also huge leaps called “mutations” where an organism suddenly develops a new trait entirely. These are not what I’m referring to when I say “failed”. I mean show me the animal that has teeth in its stomach or its spleen where its brain should be. (No pot shots at me on that one please.) Do you see what I’m saying? And juxtaposed: why aren’t we seeing evidence of us evolving? We have thousands of years of history; yet here we are; still the same.
As for the “red light”; there is no way in the world for you to prove to me that your “red” is the same as my “red”. It is however a scientific fact that each person’s eyes DO perceive color differently. So what you call “red” may be what I experience as “blue”.
And as for your “Chicago” issue: vast numbers of people have experienced and do experience God on a daily basis; some more concretely than others. The Preacher “Andy Stanley” refers to circumstances called “defining moments”; that is, moments in our lives when the unexplainable becomes overshadowed by the undeniable. God does take direct action all the time; just because people refuse to see these things for what they are does not make them any less true.
Do you not feel the Holy Presence in the Eucharist? You can not make another person to feel that, no matter how hard you try. That’s why Jesus said “I have called you, and you are mine.” If you don’t; if He doesn’t just take your breath away with awe; then you need to fast and pray more. Pray for discernment and wisdom.
As for logic and wisdom: read Proverbs. I wish I had read it when I was younger (and taken it to heart).
Seriously, if you want to take up the torch and defend the faith don’t look for a quick answer in a blog. I’m sorry if my answers don’t satisfy, but it really does come down to getting real about what you CALL real.

Catholic Pro-lifer June 6, 2010 at 7:35 pm

“Don’t you see how insane it is to request proof of a spiritual realm by physical means???”

So why should I believe in a spiritual realm?

“PLEASE stop with the “devout Catholic” thing. You’re making the rest of us look bad. No. I think it’s beautiful that you’re able to follow a “God” that you simply have faith in. But really, maybe you need to take a look at your prayer life. How much time do you spend meditating on the word of God (the Bible) or listen to the wisdom to the Church Fathers? You see, a “devout Catholic” should feel the presence of God and therefore see the audacity in expecting Him to perform a dog and pony show for the hoards … yet, even so; He DOES. He reveals himself every day and in every way possible yet still is spit on and denied. A “devout Catholic” would have studied the early church history: the Bible; the early church Fathers and Doctors; the lives of saints and therefore understand that the answers are most certainly out there; but nothing in short form can possibly encompass the grandeur of what it REALLY means to call oneself “Catholic”. It’s worse than putting the “Grand Canyon” on a postcard. (FYI: I am speaking to my younger self with these words – I improperly called myself a “devout Catholic” for decades never fully comprehending the injustice of what I was purporting.)”

You have no idea how insulting this is.

I go on Protestant blogs working at Catholic apologetics. I read the Bible and pray the rosary daily. I read the wisdom of the early Church fathers and I am a great admirer of Doctor Peter Kreeft, a Catholic philosophy Professor, and Thomas Aquinas, the great Early Church Doctor. Please do not imply that I don’t study or take my faith seriously. That was incredibly rude.

“For millions of people throughout history; God has been experienced; God has been intimately involved in our lives. It is only a recent phenomenon that it has become socially acceptable to ridiculously question the existence of God. It takes a far greater leap of faith to believe that all of the infinitely vast variables that HAD to occur in order for us to not only exist, but to be AWARE of our existence occurred in just the right way, at just the right time. Wake up. Show me the “empirical data” where someone has created life from nothing; where someone has created something from nothing. And what about all the mistakes? Where are the “failed” life-forms?”

You raise good points, even if you do it in an abrasive way. These are the types of things I was hoping somebody would post. But the fact that people believed for most of human history that God exists is not a good arguement. People belived for thousands of years that the Earth was the center of the Universe and the world was flat, too. They were wrong. So that’s not proof of anything.

The reason there are no “mistake” creatures around is that they never would have survived. They’ve died off. The only surviving creatures are the ones with traits that fit their environment, such as us. The “mistakes” die off, thus we don’t see them around.
I tell you now, I belive completely in the Catholic God, I am merely arguing the opposite viewpoint. That’s all.

“One might try to point to the fossil record, but if you really study it, you will see that there are not just huge gaps in evolutionary science where no record exists at all, but there are also huge leaps called “mutations” where an organism suddenly develops a new trait entirely. These are not what I’m referring to when I say “failed”. I mean show me the animal that has teeth in its stomach or its spleen where its brain should be. (No pot shots at me on that one please.) Do you see what I’m saying? And juxtaposed: why aren’t we seeing evidence of us evolving? We have thousands of years of history; yet here we are; still the same.”

I believe in evolution (and have studied the fossil record), but only the type of evolution allowed by the Church. Matthew had a superb post on the subject here: http://www.fallibleblogma.com/index.php/can-catholics-believe-in-evolution/

And we’re actually not still the same, even in recorded history. Back I belive in the Victotian era, (possibly before that, I’ll have to look it up) humans used to have six fingers, but eventually the trait disappeared due to rarity.

“As for the “red light”; there is no way in the world for you to prove to me that your “red” is the same as my “red”. It is however a scientific fact that each person’s eyes DO perceive color differently. So what you call “red” may be what I experience as “blue”.”

True; but on the other hand, color is observed because of the frequency of a certain light wave. So if the color you see and the color I see has the same frequency we can conclude that it is the same color.

“And as for your “Chicago” issue: vast numbers of people have experienced and do experience God on a daily basis; some more concretely than others. The Preacher “Andy Stanley” refers to circumstances called “defining moments”; that is, moments in our lives when the unexplainable becomes overshadowed by the undeniable. God does take direct action all the time; just because people refuse to see these things for what they are does not make them any less true.”

What you’ve posted is true, but why do you assume everybody refuses to see things? I’ve talked to atheists who sincerely have prayed and searched for God and honestly believe they got no answer. How do you know they’re lying? Also, nothing you’ve written really answers my questions.

“Do you not feel the Holy Presence in the Eucharist? You can not make another person to feel that, no matter how hard you try. That’s why Jesus said “I have called you, and you are mine.” If you don’t; if He doesn’t just take your breath away with awe; then you need to fast and pray more. Pray for discernment and wisdom.”

Yes, I do feel the Holy presence in the Eucharist. Yes, I pray for discernment and wisdom. Yes, I fast when required by the Church. Please don’t just assume I don’t.

“As for logic and wisdom: read Proverbs. I wish I had read it when I was younger (and taken it to heart).”

Proverbs is my favorite Old Testament book. I read it often.

“Seriously, if you want to take up the torch and defend the faith don’t look for a quick answer in a blog. I’m sorry if my answers don’t satisfy, but it really does come down to getting real about what you CALL real.”

This blog is about Catholicism, right? If so, I expect that the people who post in it are able to defend their faith.

I HAVE picked up the torch and defended the faith. As I said earlier, I go to a Protestant blog often and try my hand at Catholic apologetics there.

This has nothing to do with what I do and don’t call real, it has to do with why I should believe in something there is no empirical proof for. There IS an answer to this, I just wanted to see if anybody would try and give it.

Carol June 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

You can’t work for the devil and God at the same time. Playing “devil’s advocate” advances God’s cause not one whit.
See, this is what I’m talking about: from Wikipedia. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth)
The myth of the Flat Earth is the modern misconception that the prevailing cosmological view during the Middle Ages saw the Earth as flat, instead of spherical. …According to Stephen Jay Gould, “there never was a period of “flat earth darkness” among scholars (regardless of how the public at large may have conceptualized our planet both then and now). …Jeffrey Burton Russell says the flat earth mythology flourished most between 1870 and 1920, and had to do with the ideological setting created by struggles over evolution. [1]

Yet you believe(d), unquestioningly that the Church held people to this misconception. Spherical perception is easy intuition if you’re looking out over an ocean. Just sail a ship out to the horizon (~9 miles as I recall) have them return and tell you there is not, in fact an edge there. Easier yet hold a long straight line up to a perfect horizon and note the slight curvature.
You speak of “frequency” and you may even be familiar with the electromagnetic spectrum but do you know HOW these things have been measured, do you really know that what is claimed to have been measured is truly what people claim it is? My point is that at some point there is always a leap of faith. We assume correctness without “going there”. This inclination is especially true and dangerous with “facts” we view on television or read in books. As Sartre pointed out, it’s a leap of faith to believe we even exist. Prove it.
Again, your faith is beautiful, but your questions are invalid because they are not from YOUR soul. As you say: you are convinced. You are imagining what someone else might ask or even has asked but you are not the asker (so you claim). You’re simply asking for prettier straw to shove in a contrived “argument”. It’s a waste of time. It seems like the core of your need comes from this desire to “turn” your atheist/protestant friends. Catholicism is wonderful for both these issues. There are such trappings and ceremony that one can come and be “involved” or participate to some degree without their having to get bowled over with His presence. It’s a bad idea for a non-believer to take the Eucharist. They can pray, themselves, and even ask others to pray for them, and maybe one day, through God’s grace, he will reveal himself to their understanding. The more regular they are and the more obedient they are the more they may be blessed. I say again, though, we (you, me ANY person) can not MAKE someone to feel God’s divine presence. BE WARNED too: the Devil is very real and extremely good at deception. When Don Gabriele Amorth was asked how Padre Pio protected himself from the Devil this good advice was given.
Amorth: He learned a “rule of thumb,” which we also find in the writings of St. Teresa of Avila, and which he taught some of his spiritual followers. He noticed a certain timidity when the Virgin or the Lord first appeared, followed by a sense of peace when the vision departed. On the other hand, a devil in sacred form provoked an immediate feeling of joy and attraction, replaced afterwards by remorse and sadness.
If you try to force a holy encounter, it seems you are opening a door for the Devil to enter.
As for your protestant friends: God calls us to where we need to be. Please don’t judge them too harshly. Of course God can reach them, wherever He chooses. Of course there are an infinite number of reasons to be Catholic, you say you know this: then why ask? To quote Padre Pio again: “Keep close to the Catholic Church at all times, for the Church alone can give you true peace, since she alone possesses Jesus, the true Prince of Peace, in the Blessed Sacrament.”
Abrasive? You’re being kind. … Peace be with you.

Catholic Pro-lifer June 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I never said that the Church believed the Earth was flat. I said for thousands of years humas did. I know quite well that the “flat Earth” myth was dispelled long before most people think.

“It seems like the core of your need comes from this desire to “turn” your atheist/protestant friends. Catholicism is wonderful for both these issues.”

Debate is interesting and useful. I don’t think that it’s a stretch to say that the Church needs to be well schooled in apologetics lest they lose too many members.

You seem not to be too interested in debating this (which is fine), and you’re right in that I don’t “really” believe any of this. So I’ll step.

God bless you.

Catholic Pro-lifer June 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Ew.

“Step” should be “stop”.

Catholic Pro-lifer June 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm

While on this subject-a superb arguement for the existence of God. I’ve seen good atheistic refutations of the “common” arguements but none of this arguement. It’s complex and long, but if you get past that it’s excellent.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/THEOLOGY/GODASFIR.HTM

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