At the invitation of Professor Robert, I'm starting a new thread.
Dr Bob, you are continually trying to draw clear distinctions between Catholicism and other (especially Christian) religions. I grant that Catholics are (a little) different, but, as they still fundamentally believe in the magic, invisible daddy in the sky, there is really NO difference.
Two points: The Bible (whether or not you take it literally) is the foundation of your (and all Christian) religions. A cursory examination of the Bible reveals a SMALL handful of usable tenets along with pages and chapters FULL of utter nonsense. The fact that any religion would base itself upon such a holey book, makes that religion as creditable as Joseph's golden tablets from God which he, unfortunately, misplaced.
God: I will be heartily disagreed with here, but I find the idea of God to be completely understandable. Here we have, at the dawn of civilization, various groups of totally ignorant people trying to put words, meanings, and causes to all manner of things which they couldn't possible understand. Combine this with a clever but ruthless set who have come to realize that, if they ascribed words, meanings, and causes to the world around them, people would actually BELIEVE them (as they no other source of information). These priests could and did use this power to govern the people - insisting that everyone in the tribe bow before them.
Then came the age of knowledge. We could start to actually understand all these things that the priests had, up till then, kept to themselves. As the power base for all civilized people rested with these priests, they were (and, of course, still are) wildly defensive of their position.
There is, however, NO CONCEIVABLE REASON for any educated person to believe in the supernatural - aside from these historic pressures.,
"There is, however, NO CONCEIVABLE REASON for any educated person to believe in the supernatural - aside from these historic pressures.,"
I always wondered why/how very highly educated and intelligent people fall for cults. In particular Heavens Gate and Jones Town.
Some people just want to belong somewhere. They feel alone, and these cults give them a community, and after a while they get brainwashed into believing whatever the leader says.
Mind manipulation, conditioning and brainwashing can do wonders on the willing, and the unwilling.
Hmmm - Serious depression maybe ...
I'm not sure that I'm "continually" trying to draw distinctions; we share a lot with our fellow Christians. However, what I see people on the ThinkAtheist forums objecting to in 90% of the cases are the theological strands that emerged in the Great Awakening traditions in the U.S. (which in turn drew on Calvinist traditions to some extent). Those are distinctly anti-Catholic viewpoints, and are relatively extreme outliers in Christendom.
The Bible is not the foundation of all Christian religions, nor is the religion "based on" the book. That's a position that emerged in Calvinist protestantism with "sola scriptura". It's generally dismissed as somewhat juvenile by the Catholic and Orthodox faiths which make up the large majority of Christendom. From our perspective, we wrote and compiled the book. As I wrote in another thread, it's best to view the Bible as carefully selected works which depict the unfolding of man's understanding of God over time, in much the same way as one could compile a similar text on physical science, beginning with Archimedes and Aristotle in the "Old Testament" and continuing with Newton and Maxwell and Einstein and Bohr in the "New". Is everything that Archimedes wrote literally accurate? No. Are some things that he wrote still perfectly valid? Yes. Does the progress of understanding over time mean that science is flawed? No. Is it illustrative? Yes.
I think a second hang up you seem to have is with "the supernatural", whatever that is. I think the word comes from modern new-age neopaganism. You seem to want to associate Christendom with that sort of animistic druidism (magic and faeries and whatnot), even though Christendom has joined you in condemning such nonsense from its very beginning (back when such nonsense was actually mainstream).
Add in a healthy dollop of historical fiction that has no basis in sound sociology, and what you have constructed as "religion" is this sort of odd thing that begins with our least educated Christian brethren, then adds in supernatural stuff being controlled by chanting from God-given books under the direction of a nefarious set of elder magicians. It's very Hollywood. It makes me think you are watching too many movies.
Of course you should not believe in that! As far as I know no one believes in that, other than perhaps a few who enjoy it for entertainment value.
this sort of odd thing that begins with our least educated Christian brethren, then adds in supernatural stuff being controlled by chanting from God-given books under the direction of a nefarious set of elder magicians
So correct us. Instead of perpetually posting what Catholicism isn't, why don't you post what is is? Not all of it, but how about some of the more salient points? At present, and I'm sure it's not doing you justice, you are coming across as some kind of "New Age Catholic" with tenets that do not appear to coincide with those of the RCC or the Pope. You have an interested audience here, so how about correcting our evidently incorrect perspectives with some positive information, rather than this continuous set of denials?.
No, as things go I am a traditional Catholic, and I am doing my best to represent the actual beliefs of the Church. Pope Francis would consider me orthodox. Benedict would as well, though we would have had brotherly discussions over proper emphases. Now, I am at times translating and adjusting for modern American English and usage as it seems to be employed here. Catholic theology, like any discipline, has its own specialty language that expresses complex phenomena in shorthand to insiders, and is made worse by multiple translations.
It's probably impossible to "post what Catholicism is" when it's a topic that fills whole libraries; at very least it exceeds my limited skills, so instead I'm trying to explain individual topics as they arise.
Anyways, I thought I was pretty clear above about what Catholics do feel about the Bible, fundamentalism, and several other topics above. We would agree with some of the posters here, though perhaps be a touch less strident or antagonistic. The Bible should not be interpreted literally in its entirety; in some things it does present a historical record, in others it is presenting poems and songs and moral tales. It is always doing so in a manner that is to some extent conditioned by the culture and language of the respective authors, but that doesn't mean that what is written is invalid any more than what Newton wrote of calculus is invalid just because we mostly adopted Leibnitz's notation.
You seem to want to associate Christendom with that sort of animistic druidism (magic and faeries and whatnot), even though Christendom has joined you in condemning such nonsense from its very beginning (back when such nonsense was actually mainstream).
Condemning it in one breath, and substituting magic with miracles and faeries with angels in the other.
Thanks. Very readable reply.
"The Bible is not the foundation of all Christian religions, nor is the religion "based on" the book"
What else would you says it is based upon? Oral tradition? I just try to imagine a religion which worships Jesus in which there is no Bible. I can't. As far as I know the Bible is the ONLY book of that era that even mentions Jesus. To my mind, there would be no Christianity without the Bible.
"view the Bible as carefully selected works"
I can certainly understand why Catholics want to disavow the Bible as a sacred book. "Carefully selected" is not a phrase I would use. A little care might have prevented some of the many, many inconsistencies and contradictions.
"sort of animistic druidism (magic and faeries and whatnot"
"Nonsense" - I agree. But essentially identical to sacraments. angels and saints, souls, heaven, hell, and whatnot. All "supernatural". All nonsense which is mainstream even today in Catholicism. You can ascribe all the pejorative terms you like to these beliefs, but they are all religious and Catholic beliefs.
I say, "magic, invisible Daddy in the sky", you say, "God" - or do you? Have you actually talked about God? You can't escape nor soft-petal THAT belief. Well, come to think of it you can. But any double-talk you come up with is not going to release you, Catholics, or any religious people in general from this CORE belief - a supernatural prime mover, the personal, omnipotent being for which there is not a spec of physical or logical evidence and which, above all, is totally unnecessary.
I think you want to think about the Bible as an anthology. The chapters aren't written in the same style or necessarily coherent, but the editors tried to capture seminal works to depict an overall story. We would not "disavow" it as a sacred book, though. We spent so much time putting it together and preserving it as a sacred book, after all. We just never expected anybody to read it literally absent any sort of instruction.
So yes, Catholicism also relies on a parallel teaching tradition that is partly oral, and captured and refined through myriad other texts through the centuries. Conciliar documents, writings of learned men and women, instruction passed down from teachers. In some ways you can think of Catholicism the way you think of a university, since universities were modeled on monastic centers of learning. Universities preserve books and even seminal texts, but not all truth and learning comes from books or their wouldn't be professors <g>.
Many texts outside the bible mention Jesus of Nazareth, of course, from the apocryphal and pseudepigriphal texts to contemporary secular historians like Flavius Josephus.
You are aware that Josephus's mentions are almost certainly a later forgery, quite likely by Eusebius?
The relevant paragraph sounds like it is written by someone who believes that Jesus performed miracles and was the son of god. Josephus was a Jew. Also if removed, the narrative flows better. The VERY next line after the paragraph in question goes on to say "and there were other calamities besides this' (that's not a direct quote but that is the sense of it), it goes far better with the paragraph BEFORE the Jesus paragraph than it does with the Jesus paragraph.
Also Origen, a Christian apologist who preceded Eusebius, used Josephus to back up his arguments. But he NEVER quoted this paragraph even though it would have been a slam dunk for the argument he was having. The only reason there can be for this is that it wasn't there at the time.
Interesting. Thanks for the information!
We just never expected anybody to read it literally absent any sort of instruction.
You know this how, exactly? It's that "we" again. The collective.
In some ways you can think of Catholicism the way you think of a university
Like Liberty University perhaps?
I can see how you'd like a warm loving god to exist. I can see how pleasant it might be to think there is an afterlife of some sort or another. But wanting something to be true doesn't make it so. And until someone somewhere can provide some kind of testable evidence, I fear we are going to meander along on this subject, never really getting anywhere, Professor, because at the end of any progression, we are going to meet the insurmountable barrier of credulity. There is really no hard evidence for a god at all. That's why it's called faith. You have it, I don't.
If your collective could keep its involvement in society limited to what you feel your members should or shouldn't do, I wouldn't have a problem. But when your members belief system impinges on my way of life, even though I am hurting no-one at all, either spiritually or physically, then we are going to be in conflict.