Catholic Humanism


One fundamental difference between Catholics and Protestants is in how we view humanity. I thought it might be interesting to test this a bit.

Do you agree with the following statement:

“The will is so wholly vitiated and depraved that it is incapable of producing anything but evil.”


disagree entirely. the soul/will can produce that which is not evil, but remains unsanctified unless the good is performed in the knowledge of God. There are good people who are not catholics, much less even Christians.




Is this quote saying that the defect is in human nature itself?

The first thing to understand is that up to now humanity has lived under a curse, and that curse is that we have never been allowed to trust our nature. We have always been told, “Trust your nature and you will go wrong.” Mistrust, restrict, control-don’t go according to your feeling. We have been told that human nature is somehow basically evil. This is stupid; this is foolish and poisonous. Weren’t we created in God’s image? Human nature is not evil, human nature is divine. And if the evil has arisen, it has arisen because of restrictions. Now let me explain it to you.

You never see animals going to war. Of course there are fights sometimes, but they are individual fights-not world wars with all the crows of the East fighting all the crows of the West, or all the dogs of India fighting all the dogs of Pakistan. Dogs are not foolish, neither are crows. Yes, sometimes they fight, and there is nothing wrong with it. If their freedom is violated they fight, but the fight is individual. It is not a world war.

Now what have you done? You have repressed humanity and you have not allowed individuals to be angry sometimes-which is natural. The ultimate, total result is that everybody goes on gathering his anger, goes on repressing his anger, and then one day everybody is so full of poison that it explodes in a world war.

ANd who is responsible for these wars? Your so-called saints and moralists, do-gooders, the people who have never allowed you to be natural.

What has happened to man? Has he fallen lower than the animals? Then who is responsible? Only one thing is missing from the animals, and that is that they don’t have saints and organized government. That is the only. The religious people are always saying, “Do not be angry, don’t have sex, repress everything.” And that is the real reason why there are so many wars today…


I must note that my degree is in military history and your latter point is not one held by professionals in the field.


Actually, having worked at a boyscout camp on lazy summers when i was a bit younger, I can tell you for fact that animals most certainly go to war. Every afternoon at 3 pm sharp we would gather at an area we had blocked off as “the battle zone” to watch as thousands of large black ants poured out of the ground while four feet away TENS of thousands of smaller red ants would issue forth to meet them. In the middle of the two ant farms, they would hold massive battles and often leave nearly a thousand dead ants behind when they were done. We humans are by far not the only ones to understand and employ violence.


The seemingly obvious reason is because of bad people, but what made the people bad?


These were individual ant colonies fighting to get land/food, fighting for survival. That is very different from our kind of fighting.

If you still disagree with me, are you saying that are intelligence is comparible to that of ants?


Please keep on topic—feel free to post a new thread on warfare in the animal kingdom or wars resulting from religious oppression as you like, but we should honor the Forum rule of one topic per thread.


With all respect, you are not dealing with something believed by all protestants. The statement is about total depravity of Calvinism.


Actually, the statement is by John Calvin himself.

And since there is nothing believed by all Protestants beyond the fact that Christ is Lord, there would be precious little to talk about with Protestants in this Forum unless we engage beliefs held by a significant subset of them.

Your exception is duly noted—do you agree with Mr. Calvin’s statement?


Do you agree with this statement:

"The divine image is present in every man. It shines forth in the communion of persons, in the likeness of the unity of the divine persons among themselves.

Endowed with “a spiritual and immortal” soul, the human person is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake.” From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude.

The human person participates in the light and power of the divine Spirit. By his reason, he is capable of understanding the order of things established by the Creator. By free will, he is capable of directing himself toward his true good. He finds his perfection “in seeking and loving what is true and good.”

By virtue of his soul and his spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an “outstanding manifestation of the divine image.”"


Catholic teaching is that the will was weakened as a result of original sin but not “wholly vitiated and depraved”.

I agree with the Catholic teaching. :slight_smile:



Yes, I agree. CCC #1702-1705

It really stands in contrast to the words of Calvin. I appreciate the positiveness of our Catholic teaching; it is very uplifting.



You caught me, Nita—that’s exactly where I pulled this from; I just removed the paragraph numbers.

When my wife and I attended the Pentecostal church, we were struck by how the Calvinist view of total depravity was drilled from the pulpit—“You cannot trust your conscience, which is vile and depraved”, etc.

Now, it is quite true that you won’t hear that in a Methodist or an Episcopal sermon, but I think there is surely a fault line running through Protestantism on this score, with the Lutherans and Presbyterians and Pentecostals and Baptists largely taking Calvin’s view and the Episcopalians and Methodists largely taking the Catholic view.

I highlight it because it seems to undergird many of the arguments featured herein.

How many times have we heard stated that wicked Popes invalidate the Catholic Church?

Or that good works count for nothing at all?

These are all echoes of this neo-Gnostic view of the material world as inherently evil, man himself being totally corrupt, etc. It is similar also to the Pharisaic view of purity in some ways.

My wife used to leave the Pentecostal church Sundays crying hysterically, convinced that she was worthless in the eyes of God. It’s ultimately what drove us to investigate other denominations (she’d been in the choir at this church for 5 years, so leaving wasn’t easy) and ultimately come home to Rome.

The Catholic view of human dignity as introduced in the Catechism excerpt I provided undergirds much of the Church’s teaching and reflects Christ’s manifest love for us despite our sins and our failures. I simply cannot imagine a Catholic priest delivering a homily featuring the “We are all worms” refrain our old pastor employed in the last sermon we heard him preach before we left Pentecostalism behind for good.

But having reviewed the “total depravity” quote with which this thread began, I know he didn’t invent this view but merely regurgitated it.


Glad you and your wife are home Teflon. Welcome.

Being a cradle Catholic, it’s hard for me to imagine what it would have been like to be taught that I was “totally depraved”, or that their was no point to doing good works. What’s amazing is that even with such teaching there are still good, caring people in those faiths. A very good friend, now deceased, was Presbyterian. She was a wonderful Christian woman. Both she and her husband were very involved in charitable works.




what a twisted perspective, in my not-so-humble opinion.

closed #18

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit