Are Catholics lemmings?

I was recently talking with a non-Catholic about the role of the Pope and how (forgive me if I word this wrong) what we are “supposed” to believe has already been established for us. It was difficult for me to explain that the Pope tell Catholics what the stances are on different teachings. He really did not understand why Catholics need that and said he prefers to think on his own and make his own decisions.

How do I properly explain this to a non-Catholic without making it sound like Catholics just do whatever they are told and cannot think for themselves?

I struggle with this thought as well.

The pope doesn’t tell us what to believe. Christ tells us what to believe. We do have free will to accept Christ or reject Him. “Making our own decisions” is hardly a reason to reject Him.

The Holy Father through the Church and the Holy Spirit are able to interpret the Bible and the various Letters of the Early Church Fathers and instruct us on any doctrinal issues, non Catholics, have preachers who give there version of the Bible and expect the rest of the Congregation to be swayed by their preaching. If he thinks that we cannot think for ourselves, you could ask him why does he not think for himself when driving, why bother with the red, orange, green lights, after all he is not going to be told what to do when driving either. If he needs his tax Form filled out, does he not seek advice or does he go it alone if he has a query, even a Golf Club has a lot of Rules and Regulations, but we don’t let the Club Secretary well I can think for myself I don’t need your Rules and Regulations, and of course the same goes for the Armed Forces, trying telling that one to your drill Sergeant, of course Catholics think for themselves if not you would not be having a discussion with him about Religion etc.

What IQ are these people, who think one can go through life with no Rules or Regulations, or we don’t use our brains, spare me,

The only lemming I see is him in asking such a silly question.

Found a simple explanation on Catholic Bible 101 ( I have put a little bit of it below but suggest reading the whole article as it contains references to the Bible and an explanation of the fact that the Church came first and then the Bible. The article is too long to put here, but is short enough to read comfortably.

What authority does the Church have in our lives? Isn’t it just me and the Bible alone? Why do I need a man-made institution like the Church to tell me what to do? Well, for starters, who can properly interpret all of the passages of scriptures, written thousands of years ago, in different languages with different idioms, nuances to words, & in a vastly different culture? Well, the Church was there at the time, while we were not. Even people who believe in scripture alone have bibles with explanatory footnotes in them, which are not inspired words. If we live to be 100, and study the bible every day, we will not have the knowledge of a 2000 year old institution like the Church. The great thinkers and scholars of the Church, like Ignatius, Jerome, Augustine, Thomas of Aquinas, etc., have already figured it all out for us. To not listen to them would be as silly as not listening to Einstein when trying to understand the theory of Relativity. …You don’t learn to fly an airplane on your own, without a teaching authority, so why would you think you can get to heaven on your own without a teaching authority? If you want to go to the moon, you have to go to a launch site and get on a rocket. You can’t get there all on your own. It’s the same with getting to heaven. You have to use the Church, and its teaching authority from Jesus, at least according to the Bible.

Further reading on the Pope and Papacy is on this site at The link should take you to the index so you can read at leisure.

Looking at your OP, I suggest making note of the Biblical references and the time lag between the Church and first Bible as I suspect that the discussion will quickly turn to “Where in the Bible …” and it will be helpful to be ready. Please remember to pray before resuming the conversation (I have learned that prayer is essential before, during and after).

Hope this helps.

May God bless you.

Conscience is a necessary guide but by itself is an imperfect guide unless it is properly informed. Apostolic Tradition (Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition) is an excellent guide for properly informing the conscience but only if it is interpreted correctly. The Magisterium (the pope and bishops in communion with him) was established by Jesus Christ to properly interpret Apostolic Tradition so that our conscience might be properly informed. It is good and necessary to know, love and serve God in accord with our conscience; it is better to do so when our conscience is properly informed.

There is a lot of room within the teachings of the Church for different view points, etc, etc. Not everything is spelled out, and even to figure out how to apply what is requires us to think. That said, when a thing is known, it is known. It’s not a matter of whether we “need someone else to think for us,” it’s that God has revealed something to humanity, and to deny the truth of such a fact (once we know that God has revealed it) is silly and wrong.

Would God, who described Himself as the Good Shepherd with us as His sheep, just release us with no guidance, in the hopes that each one of us will just happen to stumble across the truth in such an important matter as our salvation? I mean, thinking for ourselves is good and we all should, and most of us do, do so. But in the matters pertaining to salvation, expecting us each to figure it out ourselves would be like handing a random guy off the street a pair of wire cutters and telling him he has 5 minutes to figure out how to defuse this bomb or he’ll die. Because at the end of our lives, we will face judgement, and we can go to hell, and this is too serious an issue to just figure out ourselves and hope we get right. The shepherd, who leaves his flock to chase down one lone sheep, would hardly use such a system.

I’m not!

I am however a sheep…following the voice I know, which is that of the Good Shepard!

Peace and all Good!

there are certain things Catholics must believe and actually all Christians must believe. Are you a lemming because you believe Jesus is God and died for our sins? Are you a lemming because you believe that God has given us a certain morality to follow? Are you a lemming because you believe revelation has given us something to follow? Are you a lemming because you follow Christ?

Every person has something they believe because someone believed it before them or people have told them they should believe it. This modern idea that we should question everything and come to know things by ourselves is destructive to the Christian world view. God has called us to follow him and in faith we respond to that call. We aren’t Christian because after examining all of the possible positions we see the Christianity makes the most sense, rather God calls us to follow him and we respond with belief.

So we kinda are lemmings, we follow God where ever he calls us even if we don’t know where we are going.

What are we all running out to do that he is asking? I don’t remember anything in my life time like that.He evangelizes to us but its not forced on us or do we listen blindly. The Holy Spirit is our guild as it is with the Pope .

Even in faith the old says goes you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.
Catholicism is not a cult. Every catholic has free will to do as they choose.

If he truly believes he can rely on only his own thinking, then he doesn’t need the Bible either.
If he admits that he needs the Bible to “think” and “decide” in accordance with God’s truth and will, then:

1) ask him what happens when 2 believing and educated Christian leaders/pastors state that: ***conflicting doctrinal statements are true
(eg. Jesus always had a human and a diviine nature vs. Jesus was only human during the crucifixion - His divine nature was no longer present at that time.
This is just one example of such doctrinal conflicts that have arisen in the 2000 years of Christianity.)

***conflicting moral decisions/acts are or are not in accordance with God’s revealed willl
(eg. sex outside of marriage is okay if you love each other vs. sex outside of marriage is a sin; abortion/homosexual acts/divorce…)

  1. ask him, whether he thinks Jesus/God knew whether such conflicting views about what was true and what was morally right, would arise during the passage of time after His death.
    If he/she agrees that Jesus would/did know this, then

  2. ask him whether he thinks it not only possible, but highly likely, that Jesus who is Truth, and who was so concerned for us to know truth, would have provided a means for His followers to know absolutely/infallibly which of two or more conflicting interpretations of His teachings is the true one.

  3. ask him what Church does believe and teach that Jesus provided just such a gift to His followers - and claims to be that Church.

Jesus did whatever he was told by the Father, even to his own death.

God speaks through the legitimate authority of the Church, and that includes the Pope. I imitate Christ, and do what I am told.



Lemmings?! LOOOOOOL Let him see how much we Catholics debate in these forums then let me see him tell us we are LEMMINGS! :rotfl:

Your question might more easily be understood in a larger context. In other words, at the bottom line, it is only in small part about Catholics as such, and very much about humans as such. It is ultimately about how belief and the need for authority work in the human mind, as well as how pre-cognitive and pre-verbal patterns are set up in the human infant and child, and even the fetus. This, layered with family and social values, peer pressure, and such factors as advertising, all have influence.

In that sense we are, all and each of us, to some extent, such figurative lemmings, including your friend. If it wasn’t true, and we all thought for ourselves, there would be no national cultures, well, if you can put the American people in that category at all, or soon the world. So there are different categories of lemmings even within a large group. Here we have Liberal and Conservative lemmings, or ethnic lemmings, or religious lemmings of a great variety.

An individual who thinks for themselves, is astonishingly rare. Here is a quote from a story called Gulf by Robert Heinlein. It makes sense to me. See if you agree, as Heinlein indicates, that what gives man superiority is not his body but the quality of his thought:

"…We define thinking as integrating data and arriving at correct answers. Look around you. Most people do that stunt just well enough to get to the corner store and back without breaking a leg. If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum. He uses one-valued logics. If he is exceptionally bright, he may use two-valued ‘either-or’ logic to arrive at his wrong answers. If he is hungry, hurt, or personally interested in the answer, he can’t use any sort of logic and will discard observed fact as blithely as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking. He uses the technical miracles created by superior men without wonder nor surprise, as a kitten accepts a bowl of milk. Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental process as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.

"That is why there is always room at the top, why a man with a leetle more on the ball can so easily become governor, millionaire, or college president–and why homo sap is sure to be displaced by New Man, because there is so much room for improvement and evolution never stops.

Here and there among ordinary men is a rare individual who really thinks, can and does use logic in a single field–he’s often as stupid as the rest outside his study or his laboratory–but he can think, if he is not disturbed, sick, or frightened. This rare individual is responsible for all the progress made by the race; the others reluctantly adopt his results. Much as the ordinary man dislikes and distrusts and persecutes the process of thinking he is forced to accept the results occasionally, because thinking is efficient compared with his own maunderings. He may still plant his corn by the dark of the moon, but he will plant better corn developed by better men than he.

"Still rarer is the man who thinks habitually, who applies reason, rather than habit pattern, to all his activity. Unless he masks himself, his is a dangerous life; he is regarded as queer, untrustworthy, subversive of public morals; a pink monkey among the brown monkeys–a fatal mistake. Unless the pink monkey can dye himself brown before he gets caught.

"The brown monkey’s instinct to kill is correct; such men are dangerous to all monkey customs.

"Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times, quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily distress, without egocentric bias or thalmic disturbance, with correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption and non-fact. Such men exist, They are “New Man”–human in all respects, indistinguishable in all appearances or under the scalpel from homo sap, yet as unlike him in action as the Sun is unlike a single candle.

~RA Heinlein, Gulf, a short novel in Assignment in Eternity c 1949, '53, '81 RAH

We are living in a time when learning and intellect, therefore expertise, is under attack for economic and other reasons. Our Nation has slipped from 1st to 20th or far worse (47th by one internationals index) on many scales of measure. Opinion is often touted as being of equal validity with learned assessment and scientific fact. Even legislatures are swayed by the necessity of dealing with fundamentalist religious nonsense among their own ranks, something that I believe could not happen in an actual civilized and educated society.

So once again, this is not about Catholics. It may be about a special instance of a general human phenomenon, and not necessarily distributable by any means over a whole category of individuals, even if it may, as it might in any group apply to some.

By non-Catholic are you talking about a protestant of some type?

If one looks back in history, all The Great Heresies note, protestantism is listed in them, believed in going on their own and making their own decisions. Scripture in many places condemns that notion as it does condemn those who follow that route. And there is no expiration date to those condemnations.

Run this by him. #34 See if anything comes of it.

I like this answer. A lot. I’ll even take this a step further…

I don’t know if anyone else ever explains it like this, but this is how I explain it sometimes…

Think of the WHOLE Church like you might think of your local parish/congregation; and the pope is the pastor of the that parish/congregation. As such; he has a DUTY to Christ to teach us, outline what the Church’s teachings & policies are, and make sure we are all on the right path. There is no need to make it any more complicated that it has to be.

The Scriptures have outlined what Christ expects of us; and like any good pastor, the pope makes sure that the Church stays faithful to Christ’s message.

Hopefully this will be of some help to the OP.

This non-Catholic you spoke with not only apparently believes that the doctrinal wheel is to be constantly re-invented with each convert, but also apparently believes that there really is not such thing as religious Truth. Instead, just a multitude of personal opinion.

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