On the Morality of Walking on The Grass


#1

This has nothing to do with walking on the grass, frankly, and everything to do with how the Catholic Church apprehends its relationship with science.

Let's say the powers that be look around and realize a lot of people are walking on the grass. They study the Fathers, Scripture, Councils, etc., and decide that the opinions are evenly divided. So they turn to the scientists, who all inform them that it is indeed healthy for people to walk on the grass. So the Magisterium follows the scientists' findings and issues a letter or something to all the bishops, who are informed they should tell their flocks that it is indeed a fine thing to frolic on the lawn.

Years pass. The scientists study. They come to the horrifying realization that they were Dead Wrong. Walking on the grass is hazardous to one's health and ecologically a disaster, etc. It causes bug bites and so diseases are incurred and adolescent rebellion and Woodstock and the people who make "Keep Off the Grass Signs" are now unemployed, so the economic impacts are dire and profound in many ways that are irrelevant but entertaining anyway. They present the results of their studies to the Magisterium.

What does the Magisterium do, as it has already ruled? Does it reverse itself? More specifically, is it possible there are issues that are actually scientific issues that the Church has invested itself in, when it should not, because they are not issues of faith and morals but rather of science? Or because the Church says such and such is an issue of faith and morals, it then becomes one?


#2

The Church has never, and will never, command Catholics to belive in any scientific theory. Even if she ever did attempt to do so, such a command would not be binding.

The Church generally phrases her teaching ,where it touches tangentially on scientific matters, in a way that ASSUMES the general scientific consensus of the day. This is not declaring that the scientific consensus is true.


#3

[quote="Petergee, post:2, topic:314326"]
The Church has never, and will never, command Catholics to belive in any scientific theory. Even if she ever did attempt to do so, such a command would not be binding.

The Church generally phrases her teaching ,where it touches tangentially on scientific matters, in a way that ASSUMES the general scientific consensus of the day. This is not declaring that the scientific consensus is true.

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#4

wrong thread...


#5

[quote="Tomyris, post:1, topic:314326"]
This has nothing to do with walking on the grass, frankly, and everything to do with how the Catholic Church apprehends its relationship with science.

Let's say the powers that be look around and realize a lot of people are walking on the grass. They study the Fathers, Scripture, Councils, etc., and decide that the opinions are evenly divided. So they turn to the scientists, who all inform them that it is indeed healthy for people to walk on the grass. So the Magisterium follows the scientists' findings and issues a letter or something to all the bishops, who are informed they should tell their flocks that it is indeed a fine thing to frolic on the lawn.

Years pass. The scientists study. They come to the horrifying realization that they were Dead Wrong. Walking on the grass is hazardous to one's health and ecologically a disaster, etc. It causes bug bites and so diseases are incurred and adolescent rebellion and Woodstock and the people who make "Keep Off the Grass Signs" are now unemployed, so the economic impacts are dire and profound in many ways that are irrelevant but entertaining anyway. They present the results of their studies to the Magisterium.

What does the Magisterium do, as it has already ruled? Does it reverse itself? More specifically, is it possible there are issues that are actually scientific issues that the Church has invested itself in, when it should not, because they are not issues of faith and morals but rather of science? Or because the Church says such and such is an issue of faith and morals, it then becomes one?

[/quote]

The church would issue a statement that "walking on the grass" does not conflict with church teaching. However, it is not a matter of faith or morals, so the church wouldn't rule on whether "walking on the grass" is safe.

A better example might be a medicine. The church could say that taking a medicine is not sinful, even if it could potentially cause horrific side effects. The potential benefits of the taking the medicine, or of "walking on the grass", however, must outweigh side effects.


#6

I'm sure the church leadership would kindly remember those allergic to grass and rule that Catholics can walk on the grass, but don't have to.


#7

[quote="runningdude, post:5, topic:314326"]
The church would issue a statement that "walking on the grass" does not conflict with church teaching. However, it is not a matter of faith or morals, so the church wouldn't rule on whether "walking on the grass" is safe.

A better example might be a medicine. The church could say that taking a medicine is not sinful, even if it could potentially cause horrific side effects. The potential benefits of the taking the medicine, or of "walking on the grass", however, must outweigh side effects.

[/quote]

Ok. There we go. Medicine is a better example; thanks you. Let's say Study 1 says that medicine X, if taken, has horrible side effects of a moral nature, for example that 75% of the people who take it will soon kill someone. The bishops rule against taking it. Then Study 2 shows up, proving that it was not medicine X at all, only the coating or something, and that medicine X cures cancer 100% of the time. Here the bishops would be inclined to reverse their ruling? Or would they stop at saying "people should not take medicines that incite murder, such as we currently believe medicine X does, in our present understanding"? That would give them an out when the second study comes rolling in. All this is of course simplified, and the studies would be extensive.


#8

I think that you are confusing what the Magisterium" does. It js concerned with matters concerning the Catholiicfaith and morals not with scientific findings.For example, I once had grass that also had sticky burrs in it. I did not need to consult the Church fathers,tradition and the "Magisterium: to know whether it would hurt me if I walked on it, nor would the Magisterium ever do that. Nor would the "Magisterium" either teach anything about the effectiveness of any medicine; that is what science is to do. That is what the American Medical Association in the USA is supposed to find out. The company that sold the medicine would be at fault

Now, any individual bishop or a group of bishops might be wrong about prudential matters concerning science, politics, economic practice, etc., but he or they are not the "Magisterium" and they might be right or wrong in their beliefs.


#9

[quote="Tomyris, post:7, topic:314326"]
Ok. There we go. Medicine is a better example; thanks you. Let's say Study 1 says that medicine X, if taken, has horrible side effects of a moral nature, for example that 75% of the people who take it will soon kill someone. The bishops rule against taking it. Then Study 2 shows up, proving that it was not medicine X at all, only the coating or something, and that medicine X cures cancer 100% of the time. Here the bishops would be inclined to reverse their ruling? Or would they stop at saying "people should not take medicines that incite murder, such as we currently believe medicine X does, in our present understanding"? That would give them an out when the second study comes rolling in. All this is of course simplified, and the studies would be extensive.

[/quote]

Even then, the church's ruling on whether the medicine could be taken would be a mere regulation or discipline, and would not be permanently binding. The church can change its regulations as is prudent.

No excuse or "out" is needed, as the safety of a medicine is not a matter or faith or morals, but one of scientific consensus.


#10

Morals are rules, but not all rules are morals.

Walking or not walking on the grass, taking or not taking medicine, etc are rules dependent on the available evidence at the time. They are not matters of morals or the fundamental deposit of faith.

The Church can illustrate where a moral rule might be affected by the effects of breaking a non-moral rule, but the non moral 'evidential' rule is only valid for the time in which it is in use.

Therefore, the taking of a medicine that was once said to be safe like Thalidomide would have been morally acceptable while the evidence suggested that the medicine had no harmful effects but as soon as the evidence says otherwise, the guidance on the moral acceptability changes. Even if the Church had pronounced Thalidomide morally safe it wouldn't have stopped it from changing its mind upon further information.

These sorts of pronouncements are not those of the Infallible kind that affect the Deposit of Faith, so the question of 'embarrassing reversal' does not apply.


#11

[quote="Tomyris, post:1, topic:314326"]
This has nothing to do with walking on the grass, frankly, and everything to do with how the Catholic Church apprehends its relationship with science.

Let's say the powers that be look around and realize a lot of people are walking on the grass. They study the Fathers, Scripture, Councils, etc., and decide that the opinions are evenly divided. So they turn to the scientists, who all inform them that it is indeed healthy for people to walk on the grass. So the Magisterium follows the scientists' findings and issues a letter or something to all the bishops, who are informed they should tell their flocks that it is indeed a fine thing to frolic on the lawn.

Years pass. The scientists study. They come to the horrifying realization that they were Dead Wrong. Walking on the grass is hazardous to one's health and ecologically a disaster, etc. It causes bug bites and so diseases are incurred and adolescent rebellion and Woodstock and the people who make "Keep Off the Grass Signs" are now unemployed, so the economic impacts are dire and profound in many ways that are irrelevant but entertaining anyway. They present the results of their studies to the Magisterium.

What does the Magisterium do, as it has already ruled? Does it reverse itself? More specifically, is it possible there are issues that are actually scientific issues that the Church has invested itself in, when it should not, because they are not issues of faith and morals but rather of science? Or because the Church says such and such is an issue of faith and morals, it then becomes one?

[/quote]

The Church teachings are on faith and morals and not science.


#12

Let's put it this way. If scientists came out tomorrow and said gay sex and abortions were good for your health, the church would not change its teachings on the morality of said activities. The church teaches on faith and morality, and does not consult science on those teachings.

Something similar can be seen with the subject of masturbation. Many people will argue that it is good for your health, and can prevent prostate cancer. That does not change the church's teaching on the morality of masturbation.


#13

[quote="Tomyris, post:1, topic:314326"]

Let's say the powers that be look around and realize a lot of people are walking on the grass. They study the Fathers, Scripture, Councils, etc., and decide that the opinions are evenly divided. So they turn to the scientists, who all inform them that it is indeed healthy for people to walk on the grass.

So the Magisterium follows the scientists' findings and issues a letter or something to all the bishops, who are informed they should tell their flocks that it is indeed a fine thing to frolic on the lawn....
QUOTE]

Tomyris you need to clearly define what the Magisterium would teaching on this matter.

The Magisterium would not really affirm "it is [physically] healthy for people to walk on the grass" because this is not within its charism. This is a purely scientific matter.

Of course in the past, as stated by others, they may have written similar things as a background assumption/worldview to help people understand why a theological teaching
is sound. It would not be the basis of that theological teaching however.

It may happen that the Magisterium may issue arbitrary "positive laws" (e.g. no Catholic is allowed on the grass) which of course is simply a matter of discipline not truth.

Do you have a real-world example in mind?

[/quote]


closed #14

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