Is this apologetic argument of the Host correct? If not, can you help me?

At mass, the host is Jesus real flesh when it is consecrated. I’m trying to formulate a way to best explain this to non-believers who see the host looking exactly the same before and after consecration - i.e. a piece of bread.

My explanation goes something like this…

At the atomic level, the atoms of bread and flesh are the same. Look at both under a microscope and they look exactly the same. At the point of consecration, the atoms of the bread are turned into atoms of flesh. The atoms will look the same under a mircoscope.

At the molecular level, the substance of the host might still look like bread and have the same texture, but the atoms have changed into flesh while still retaining the molecular texture of bread (for the obvious reason that if it looked like flesh, most people would find it difficult to eat).

So magnify it up. Just because something looks like bread, doesn’t mean at the atomic level that its not something else. The host looks like bread, but at the atomic level its Jesus real flesh.

Its been a while since i did chemistry - but is this argument scientifically correct? Do bread atoms and flesh atoms have different numbers of electrons and protons etc?

I am a little confused. I’ll look forward to hearing some wise replies here.

Sorry, that is not the correct Catholic understanding. :o

There is nothing changed at the molecular level when the Eucharist is consecrated. If you held it under a microscope and did all manner of scientific tests, it would always come back looking like bread, not flesh.

This is what transubstantiation is about. The accidents remain the same while the substance changes. The “accidents” are those observable, physical attributes: chemical composition, taste, texture, etc. The “substance” is what a thing is in its essence. This is not scientifically observable.

In most things, it is the opposite. I can get bigger or smaller by gaining or losing weight. I can change the color and length of my hair. These things are accidental to who I am. But my substance remains the same. With the Eucharist, it is the opposite. The accidents remain the same, but the substance itself changes.

Does that make sense?

I personally find the whole accidents/substance stuff far too obtuse.

Look at this simple way. Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist under “the appearance” of bread and wine. No matter how hard you look, the appearance remains that of bread and wine.

I think beyond that, we try to apply too much human analysis to what is essentially not within our grasp.

That said; Joe’s comment above is spot on.

As far as i am aware, a proton is a proton. A neutron is a neutron. And an electron is an electron. The only thing that makes atoms “different” is the number of electrons, protons and neutrons etc.

For example, lets take electrons. Electrons are all universal. You can swap them between different atoms (such as between an atom of gold and an atom of zinc). In other words, there is no such thing as a gold electron, or a zinc electron. Substances like gold and zinc are only gold and zinc because of the number of electrons spinning around the neutron.

So the electrons can change in substance to Jesus flesh …and a microscope would never pick this up. An electron of a bread atom and an electron of Jesus flesh would look the same under a microscope, even after transubstantiation has occurred.

So i’m saying the electrons have changed, the protons have changed, and the neutrons have changed. What hasn’t changed is the number of any of these. So the host still looks like bread …but is now literally Jesus flesh.

That’s all well and good, but that’s not how the Church has articulated it and it is not necessary to explain or defend the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. The Church has never said that any physical change takes place (except for Eucharistic miracles, of course). Quite the opposite. And a change on the molecular level would still be a physical change. The change occurs in the immaterial essence.

Again, I don’t believe you can translate physics into the theology of transubstantiation. It doesn’t work that way. The electrons don’t change. If you go deeper into quantum physics it may well be that electrons can be reduced to simple energy. One could argue that “bread” is merely a linguistic reality. It can be made from many grains, in many ways. It is only “bread” because we say it is. We define it’s substance by purpose, just as we define a table by purpose not by the number of legs or from what it is made . One might argue that God redefines the substance of the Eucharist by its purpose rather than its accidents.
I don’t like any of these arguments as they attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible.
What we do know is that Christ was insistent that it was His Body and His Blood as he was willing to let people leave him without calling them back in any suggestion of an analogy or a verbal confusion.
There are Eucharistic miracles that are beyond comprehension.
To bring God within our comprehension is like trying to fit the sea into a teaspoon. Wise men are often identified by what they do not know.

This is how it is explained it to our RCIA candidates/catechumens. Deacon Jeff’s explaination is used for our CCD students.

There are two issues here:

  1. The theology is not well explained in this way, as others have said.

  2. This is poor chemistry! An electron is an electron - they don’t ‘change’. Your science is fundamentally flawed.

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "

Matt. 18:3

I agree. A change as such doesn’t occur. Consider it this way…

Its a bit like when 2 hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom come together to form H20 (water). The physical elements of the atoms haven’t changed. Nothing has actually changed. All thats happened is that the 3 are now joined together. But the matter itself of the electrons, protons and neutrons haven’t changed at all. The matter is still exactly the same, but scientists still say it has now “changed” …when in actual fact it hasn’t.

At transubstantiation, the electrons, protons and neutrons are now literally the electrons, protons and neutrons of Jesus real body. The number (and arrangement) of these in the host remains the same …resulting in the physical appearance of bread.

Let it go Harry. It has nothing to do with electrons, protons, neutrons, atoms or molecules. Its metaphysical, not chemical.

At transubstantiation, the electrons, protons and neutrons are now literally the electrons, protons and neutrons of Jesus real body. The number (and arrangement) of these in the host remains the same …resulting in the physical appearance of bread.

Yes… So what is your point? There is no physical change… Is your point that there is no physical difference between flesh and bread at some physical level? Therefore what?

What changes is immaterial (essence/substance). Bread could miraculously physically change into flesh spontaneously, why would it be a particular man’s flesh except by some Divine command?

Yes, something has changed as you now have liquid water rather than gaseous hydrogen and gaseous oxygen alone. If you’re reducing philosophical substance to atomic quantity and elemental identity then you’re effectively saying that there’s no such thing as a unique substance at all and everything is effectively the same thing, which in turn would make talking about the substance of flesh vs. the substance of bread incoherent. When I eat a piece of bread and the carbon atoms from the bread are incorporated into my flesh after metabolism is my flesh still ‘truly bread’? Jesus as a human being sustained his flesh in the exact same way that we all do ours: by consuming organic material and metabolizing it. Is his flesh in turn truly bread? Every atom on Earth ultimately finds its source from fusion reactions in the sun. Does that mean everything on Earth including bread and Jesus’ flesh is ‘truly star dust’?

PS: You can’t observe atoms under a microscope. :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re probably right. And i don’t profess to know the true answer.

What i’m trying to do is formulate a narrative that would help non-believers come to understand how the Eucharist can be the real body of Jesus …even if the exact manner i lay out here is not the true one (as only God knows the exact manner in which this is done). I’m trying to display how physical matter such as bread, can also physically be Jesus body at the same time …and this be completely in-line with science.

The Catholic Eucharist is a barrier to alot of non-believers. Richard Dawkins always belittles this aspect of the Catholic faith. I’m just trying to formulate a scientific narrative to help people overcome that barrier.

[quote=Harry123] I’m trying to display how physical matter such as bread, can also physically be Jesus body at the same time …and this be completely in-line with science.

I think you are doomed to failure. Can you explain how God can be eternal? How can a sentient being have no beginning? Be a pure spirit? Yet be the creator of the entire universe? I doubt if you will be able to get even that “in-line” with science. :wink:

The Eucharist depends on Faith. It is not unreasonable (if one believes in the Holy Triune God of Catholics) But to a strictly scientific mind i.e. an atheistic one, it is unreasonable.

Is it like a CA radio show apologist said, that “Jesus could, if He willed, appear in any form He wishes.”

So is it safe to say that Jesus takes on the FORM of bread and wine when transubstantiation occurs, while the substance changes into flesh and blood?

I thought my argument was a good one. It helps me see how the Eucharist can be Jesus real body just like He said it is.

Does anyone agree with me? Or should I scrap this apologetic argument altogether?

I think you should scrap it, or at least address the objections posed in this thread.

Harry123**, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s no such thing as an “atom of flesh” or an “atom of bread”. Only elements have atoms, and neither flesh nor bread is an element.

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