"How does a person value to choose to value a certain thing, idea, or way more than another?"

For example, let’s say that Catholics believe what they do not because it is rational or divine (Even if they are, it still needs to be valued for truth or divinity), but because it is compatible with their deepest values: IE value for others, and a desire for ‘home’ and ‘belonging’. They are often biologically less fit, or fit for long and stable lives (Few sexual partners, little risk, following the law, etc.) Often times, the people drawn to Catholicism are burdened, hard lives, sad, lonely, etc and Christ gives them peace and escape from the problems they cannot overcome.

In contrast, the psychopath has no empathy for others (Biological so not a choice to ‘feel’ for others.) which leads to personal desires over anything else, to a ruthless degree. This drive puts them in a short life path, but with a host of evolutionary benefits (Which is why it exists, it is not a disorder but an advantage for the majority of our brutal history.). This person can never be a Catholic but in name, since he cannot love others or really care about anyone but himself.

This contrast makes me think about the decision to value. It doesn’t seem like it can entirely be an act of personal will, it has to be, in some sense, a part of our nature. If that is the case, it seems in contrast to Catholic teaching (I’m not a Catholic anymore), but I am curious to see how this question is resolved in your minds.

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Psychopathy is still a disorder, in the sense that it is not ordered so as to align with the compassion and pity of God by natural impulse. Being evolutionarily advantageous has nothing to do with whether a condition is disordered in a more meaningful sense.

In my case, I subjected my values to the Church when I came to believe that Jesus is God and therefore more fit to tell me right from wrong than my own fallen nature is.

And love is definitely an act of the will. Feelings can aid loving actions, but aren’t necessary for loving actions. In fact, it often expresses the most love when we perform loving actions despite lack of helpful feelings (or indeed, even in the presence of counterproductive feelings).

A psychopath could definitely be a true catholic. Their approach would probably begin from the direction of truth rather than goodness (since they can understand rational ideas more naturally than they can intuit morality or cultivate helpful emotional states), but they could certainly still be truly Catholic.

I agree. The person has a mental disorder. God would expect them to practice their Catholicism to the extent they could. If that means they simply follow all the Church rules with the expectation that it will benefit them in some way, then they have done all they can do in God’s viewpoint.

I would say it takes faith. Pagan warriors converted, who were used to killing for sport and changed their lives. For humans, such changes are impossible, but with God all good things are possible.

I think you raise some interesting questions. I’m not Catholic. I was raised in Orthodox Judaism and my values may be partially formed from that but not all of them.

I began doubting God and religions in general in my late teens and it was very traumatic for me. I loved my religion…I just stopped believing it was true, that God was true…and I fought a long hard battle to regain it. I didn’t want to not believe, I just reached a point where I eventually realized I couldn’t believe. I wanted the truth. I valued the truth and I couldn’t force my self to change my values any more than I could force myself to believe.

In a way, I’m still searching. I’m agnostic because I can’t rule God out. I just can’t rule Him in, either but I’m fascinated by the fact that so many others do believe and believe strongly in their faith. So I enjoy this forum as well as a few others where I’m still striving to figure out why I can’t have faith. It seems apparent that it isn’t a matter of Will as I would have willed myself back long ago. So instead, what causes strong faith in one person and weak faith in another and no faith in a third?

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It’s a hard question, one for which I don’t have a transferable answer. My life was changed by direct experience of God. That came from outside of me and it can’t be explained sufficiently. So I always feel a bit at a loss for how to help others over at least that first step of knowing God is real. For me while I struggle with later steps, that first step is so undeniable to me that I could never walk backwards over it again.

I’ve said a short prayer for you that God will give you the same experience. I hope He does.

In the meantime I believe it’s admirable that you stick around and keep searching. I believe the fact that you value the truth is key, and you need to hold on to it (as if I’m anyone to give you advice, you being older and wiser than me in many ways). I’d just mention that from the Christian perspective, God does promise that if you seek, you shall find – so keep seeking. It just may be in God’s timing, not yours, that the finding happens – but it’ll be the right timing, when it does.

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Faith is a gift from God.
If someone doesn’t get the gift, there could be a lot of reasons why, ranging from it’s just the challenge God gave them in life, to God giving them the gift and they rejected it. It’s up to each person to figure it out.

Those who got a big gift of faith likely did not get such a big gift of something else. I have plenty of faith. And plenty of hope. But I lack charity.

It’s fine to keep searching as long as you’re respectful, and Patty, I’ve never seen you being anything less than respectful here.


“How does a person value to choose to value a certain thing, idea, or way more than another?”

In a word: Discipline.

My process of choosing to value things, ideas and ways more than others:
I have always wanted my life and the lives of my wife, kids and students, as well as all others, to be filled with peace and joy, yet when I first tried to help others and myself do what is necessary to have greater peace and joy, my way was impatient and often mean. I would try to get others to do what maintains peace and builds joy in a community by being impatient and mean. This ended up hurting my marriage severely to a point of us feeling as though our marriage was broken beyond help.

Then I was challenged to try patience and kindness, rather than impatience and meanness, to which I discovered a bit of development in peace and joy in myself and all relationships in my life.

At that point in my journey, I did not understand that patience and kindness are indeed the greatest as declared in 1 Corinthians 13:4 & 13, yet through discipline I was willing to grow more in patience and kindness seeing as it was more beneficial than my ways.

Eventually, growth in patience and kindness lead me to recognize that God exists, He is the Holy Trinity, and the Fullness of His Church is the Holy Catholic Church. And thanks be to God, with greater patience and kindness my marriage is stronger than ever and grows with each passing day with no end in sight!

A summary of how to choose to value something different than one naturally feels/thinks:

  1. Define your greatest goals: for me it is the greatest peace and joy possible.
  2. Understand the rules to obtain your greatest goals: for the greatest peace and joy possible, it is the greatest patience and kindness possible.
  3. Discipline yourself in following the rules to obtain the goal, while knowing that you may go through difficulties to get to greater state of being.

I’m inclined to agree with this. I’ve always assumed that the reason God gave me such substantial help over the first step (believing in Him) was that I wouldn’t have gotten there without that specific help. So a reflection of my weakness. And I admire those people whom God seems to declare strong enough to do without it, and I look forward to seeing what glory He plans for them in Heaven. :slightly_smiling_face:

I have a friend like that, incredibly compassionate and earnest, but apparently just can’t believe. I do have hope though that God will ultimately bring him (and each person, like Patty) to the joy and peace of faith, even in this life.

But yes, in the meantime, I certain admire and have sympathy for those struggling outside of the gift of faith. And feel helpless to help, since the gift God gave me was so direct and not some dry philosophical explanation I can just repeat to someone else. I suppose all I can do is ask God in prayer to do for others what He did for me.

If this ever happened, I wish He’d wack me up the side of my head next time. I’d love to have a sure undeniable sign but honestly, nothing that I know of nor intentionally denied! :hugs:. It would be a great help if He’d do so. I’m now at the point where it would take a strong sign from God. I feel as though I’ve done all I can, prayed all I can and read all I can so it’s definitely up to God now. He knows where I live! :joy:

Seriously though, those that have been given a divine gift that gives them knowledge are incredibly fortunate. I also know many never have but believe anyway. I just seem incapable. My brain is either wired differently or I’m expecting something impossible. One thing though…I no longer blame myself nor God. I just accept that this is what it is.

Thanks for your prayers. I’ll never reject those! :heart:


It’s not always that they rejected it.

Mother Theresa had a huge helping of the gift of charity. But she didn’t have faith. She struggled with it her doubts for decades. Obviously it wasn’t a case of her rejecting God when she was going out and doing his work in the public eye every single day. It was just the cross God gave her.

So, you can still be like Mother Theresa :slight_smile:


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