Catholic and Deist


#1

I have a friend who is ‘catholic’ but thinks that the Eucharist is a ‘symbol’, and that God is not that involved in every day life. He cannot see the difference between God helping out those who are more faithful and not helping out those less faithful. He says that he is more of a deist, not an extreme deist, but a desit. I thought that deism was not part of Christianity. He says that it is. Any way to try and bring him back to Catholicism, and get him to understand the power of prayer, and how God is here everday?? Please pray for him and me, Thank you so much


#2

The usual interpretation of deism is that God created the universe and does not intervene in subsequent events. If He takes no further interest in what what happens on earth He certainly cannot be a loving Father who cares for His children - which is the teaching of Jesus. What then is the point in praying or interceding for anyone? In practice deism amounts to atheism because a God who does nothing has no effect on our lives at all!
It seems to be an evasion of obligations:
“If you love me keep my Commandments”.


#3

Indeed. In the introduction to The Portable Atheist, Christopher Hitchens says that he includes writings by deists because they are functionally equivalent to atheists (IIRC). Deism is definitely not a type of Christianity.
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#4

I’m not a deist, but I think the train of thought goes something like this;

God created the universe such as to be reigned by His laws. To respect the laws of God is to bring prosperity and favor and to disrespect the laws of God brings calamity.

Thus the deist still is not an atheist (exactly).


#5

I was once “accused” (if you can call this an accusation) of being a deist. My response was something like this: “I believe God raised Jesus from the dead. Therefore, I’m not a deist. Q.E.D.”

You could ask your friend whether he believes in Jesus’ resurrection, and in the other miracles he performed. You could also ask whether he believes that God, the personal Creator and Sustainer of all, can possibly intervene in the world. After all, if God can create the universe, what’s the prevent Him from doing other miracles?

You have our thoughts and prayers, my friend. :slight_smile:


#6

Punkforchrist (and anyone else out there), He does believe in Jesus, he believes in his resurrection, and the miracles he performed. Yet, he doesn’t believe that God is really around/ intervening. To me, I see him as in believing in the ‘watchmaker theory’. And that it is rare for God to break his own rules of science. He doesn’t really believe in prayer, or why God would listen to a priest blessing the Eucharist to make the bread/ wine into his body/ blood. I once asked him to pray for me because I had a damaged ear. I had to almost beg him for this. Recently while I tell him that my ear has healed, he says that you’ll never know what would have happened if I didn’t pray and that stuff can heal on it’s own.—Being very reluctant to attribute my healing to God/ any sort of miracles after 3 doctors said I’m most likely going to be stuck with it forever.–So it is hard to classify what this guy believes in. A odd mix of things ( and now I understand why he believes in predestination). He doesn’t understand why god would heal some, but not others. (and well most of us don’t). But he doesn’t understand why someone with faith would have their prayers answered moreso then one without as much. ( i know, it seems like a simple concept). He also states that we don’t know how God is going to judge us. Which in some respects is true, but isn’t that why we were given the commandments, the bible, and other moral commandments from Jesus?
—your thoughts?


#7

What are the Resurrection and miracles of Jesus but divine interventions? Jesus also predicted that His followers would work miracles and promised that He would be with them until the end of the world. So how can God not really be around and intervening?


#8

Hello again concerneduser,

I agree with Tony. It seems to me that if one accepts the Resurrection, then that already entails belief in the miraculous. You mention that your friend believes it is rare for God to break the laws of science. Technically, this may be true; however, answered prayers make up only a tiny minority of the goings-on in the entire universe. For the most part, God does work through nature.

Scripture tells us of some (James 4:2-3): “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

This, of course, is a rather sobering message. We are reminded that we often don’t place our trust in God, and that sometimes when we ask God for something our intentions are tainted by our sinfulness. Still, Jesus promises us, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14).

There is a strong emotional obstacle for many (perhaps all) of us whenever our prayers do not appear to be answered. One thing we need to keep in mind is that God does answer prayers, but He does so in His own time. There are instances in which it seems to us that God has not answered us, but it later turns out that God knew what He was doing all along. We might think of Job as the catalyst of delayed answers to prayers.

With that said, reason can do only so much. We can use reason to show that God exists and that it is reasonable to infer that He answers prayers, but faith is required to believe in these things. My advice is that you continue to be a good friend, pray for him, and if he has any questions, to continue to provide answers with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15). The rest you can leave to God. And, of course, keep in mind that your goodness and faith are gifts of God.


#9

have a friend who is ‘catholic’

He is a heretic – don’t listen to him and just pray for him and reason with him.


#10

"* In the introduction to The Portable Atheist, Christopher Hitchens says that he includes writings by deists because they are functionally equivalent to atheists (IIRC). Deism is definitely not a type of Christianity. "*

Mr. Hitchens makes a fine living out of being historically in error. Deism is NOT the “functional equivalent” of atheism. If you read the material on <Deism.com> or <Deism.org> you will read a convincing argument against the atheists’ positions.

At the same time, it is true that Deism is not a part of Christianity. (Although a number of our “Christian” founding fathers leaned very heavily toward Deism, e.g. Jefferson, Paine, Washington, Franklin, etc.) Some Deists claim that they do pray the only sensible prayer to make, to thank God for the world and nature around us.

I admit that I feel a strong intellectual pull toward Deism. It seems to fit the facts of our existence. Clearly someone greater than us put us here. At the same time, I do frequently sense that we have been abandoned to our own devices. Particularly the Deist claim that had God wanted all of humankind to truly know of his love and existence, he should be able to do that without much difficulty, being God, yet he chooses not to. Sometimes I wonder…


#11

If we have free will how could we not be abandoned to our own devices? We can’t have it both ways. Either we are robots or independent beings…

Particularly the Deist claim that had God wanted all of humankind to truly know of his love and existence, he should be able to do that without much difficulty, being God, yet he chooses not to. Sometimes I wonder…

Don’t you think the magnificence of the universe, the beauty of nature, the moral law within, the success of science, the universality of religion, the infinite value of life, the nobility of the human spirit and the power of love point to the existence of the Supreme Being?


#12

Hi Sonny,

[quote=Sonny1954] I admit that I feel a strong intellectual pull toward Deism.
[/quote]

I can empathize with this, since my view at the time of my spiritual journey was rather deistic.

It seems to fit the facts of our existence. Clearly someone greater than us put us here. At the same time, I do frequently sense that we have been abandoned to our own devices. Particularly the Deist claim that had God wanted all of humankind to truly know of his love and existence, he should be able to do that without much difficulty, being God, yet he chooses not to. Sometimes I wonder…

Paul tells us in Romans 1:20, “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made . . .”

In other words, everyone (atheists included*) knows God to some extent. The evidence of this is that we all use reason and attempt to think rationally, which is a reflection of the order that God has imbued the universe with. I don’t think we could be “abandoned to our own devices”, at least not entirely, since God’s creative act is necessary to sustain the world.

*I don’t mean to say that atheists are insincere. It’s possible for one to unconsciously suppress knowledge of something.


#13

You’re right in that WE can’t have it both ways. But God can. He can make himself so obvious and so spiritually alluring that we would all believe in him and love him without compromising our free will. God could do anything.

Unfortunately (for me, perhaps) the splendors of nature you cite are just that, splendors of NATURE. Science has explained them. It must have been easier to believe before we understood the forces of nature around us.


#14

Free will is not something that must accommodate irresistible spiritual beauty and holiness. It entails the power to defy and reject God. If this seems incredible it helps to realise that free will is a sharing in His power which is made possible by His renunciation of omnipotence. If this seems even more incredible - that the Creator permits evil for the sake of our power of self-determination - it helps to remember that the salient feature of love is self-sacrifice. If God had not shared His power with us He could be accused of selfishness! Not only that. We would be incapable of love - which is the greatest gift anyone can receive. The fact that we cannot fully experience the perfection and glory of God in this life means that we are capable of choosing to live entirely for ourselves. And it cannot be otherwise… We have to be at an epistemic distance from Him to be independent.

Unfortunately (for me, perhaps) the splendors of nature you cite are just that, splendors of NATURE. Science has explained them. It must have been easier to believe before we understood the forces of nature around us.

Do you really believe science has explained the exquisite beauty and immense value of nature? It has explained to a large extent its mechanisms and functions but not its harmony and purpose. The sky need not be blue. Colours are not necessary for the origin and survival of life. Colour-blind animals and human beings get along very successfully. Nor are sounds, tastes or scents absolutely essential. Although we take them for granted, like so many other gifts, these are all luxuries that need not exist from a strictly utilitarian viewpoint.
It is a good exercise to try to design a world in which life exists with the bare minimum of attributes: an economical desert devoid of richness, variety and sensitivity. Much of the greatest mysticism, poetry, art and music has been inspired by the wonders of nature - to which we can apply the words of Wordsworth**:
**“Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:…”


#15

I could fix that for you. But then I could also cut down the old tree in my neighbors yard.


#16

If he finds value in the Catholic tradition to the extent that he identifies as Catholic, why condemn him? There are few Catholics in the US (percentage-wise) that agree with the Church on ALL matters. Most American Catholics see no problem with publically disagreeing with their Church on at least one of the following:

abortion rights
ordination of women
use of birth control
promoting condom use in AIDS-stricken regions
pre-marital sex
homosexuality

So then what makes this particular person’s beliefs so problematic?

And if the Chruch can change it’s stance on, say, the morality of charging interest on a loan, then isn’t it reasonable to think that it may some day change its position on such other issues? Maybe he will turn out to be right in the long run.

Also, what do you mean by, “He cannot see the difference between God helping out those who are more faithful and not helping out those less faithful”?

Best,
Leela


#17

Leela, and to anyone else outthere: what i meant by “He cannot see the difference between God helping out those who are more faithful and not helping out those less faithful” was that if God takes care of us all, and doesent answer everyones prayers but only those who he wants. Then there almost no reason to be faithful…No reason be like Jesus, as we don’t really now how we are judged. If you attribute your healing to the prayer you just said…how come the other person was not healed? They might have even been more faithful to the Lord. Who is to say that those who are more faithful, and seemingly ‘more connected with God’ will get more of the him and be listened to more then an athiest? Are we not loved equally? And yet still, sometimes thos unfaithful win the lottery, and have many good things going for them.


#18

I’m still not sure what you are saying. Does God favor those who believe or not? Does the sun not rise on the evil and the good? Does God’s nourishing rain not fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous? If so. what reason do we have to be faithful?


#19

Leela, that is exactly what I meant


#20

You seem to regard God as a slot-machine! If you knew all the circumstances you would be entitled to judge whether He is just or not…

They might have even been more faithful to the Lord.

Indeed. Good people are usually the ones who suffer, are persecuted and assassinated. Evil people are bound to triumph in this world because they are unscrupulous. There is no answer to the bullet or the bomb.

Are we not loved equally?

We are - initially. Do you think God loves those who hate, reject or ignore Him to exactly the same extent as those who love, seek and obey Him? “Forgive us as we forgive…” God is infinitely just as well infinitely merciful and infinitely loving. He always loves us but if His love is reciprocated it is inevitably greater.

And yet still, sometimes those unfaithful win the lottery, and have many good things going for them.]

How could the world be arranged so that the faithful win the lottery?! :confused: Do you really think it would be a better place even if it were possible?


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