This question sometimes rings in my head and the answer soon follows: “Because a book that was found in the dessert said so.”
I know that sounds grossly simplified, but sometimes I feel like that is the answer and that is the only reason we Catholics do what we do. When I hear it stated like that, it doesn’t sound like a strong reason or very logical. How do we derive our confidence from “a book found in the dessert?”
Given the intricacy of the existence of the universe, it would be irrational not to believe that there must be something bigger than the universe that causes it. Rational thought leads to God. (according to thousands of year of philosophy, anyhow)
There are any number of gods to choose from, generally with most things the simplest explanation is true. The simplest explanation is that this god would have been known from the beginning of the world (as that would have been “closest” to Him in time.) So what are the most old or long term belief structures?
All ancient religions, other than Judaism are polytheistic, and other than Hinduism have all gone the way of the dodo. Monotheism is certainly more rational than polytheism, if one is to believe that a god is greater than man, instead of god is basically super power man. (as polytheism tends to determine God from man, rather than man from God.)
So Judaism stands alone as an ancient religion; however, Judaism had a split that led to the Judaism of today (Judaism that is not in any way temple centered) and the Catholic Church (circa 90-110 AD Ignatius of Antioch) as the new covenant, full revelation of the same God from the beginning, Messiah as promised of Judaism. Judaism of today is not really related to Judaism of biblical times, whereas Catholicism is in almost every way.
Well sure, if that were truly the sum and total of the foundation for our faith. But it’s not.
First, there is a God. The universe exists, and unless you want to believe in infinite time, or flexible, variable laws of physics, then there must be a God. (Note: Both of those are illogical impossibilities which are more implausible than the existence of God.)
Second, God is not a detached clockmaker. He created the universe out of nothing. He doesn’t need anyone or anything. Creation was a purely selfless act of giving. And He has to actively will the existence of every single atom of creation, at all times. If He stopped willing their existence, they would simply “pop” out of existence. So it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for such a God to create mankind, and then leave them wandering blindly without any guidance or knowledge of Him. That would be just cruel, and a God who creates out of pure love is not cruel.
Third, since we know that He wouldn’t leave us alone, how has He communicated to us? Look to the world religions which claim to have received communication from God. Compare their claims against what we know about the God who is purely spiritual, purely good, and completely self-sufficient, who needs nothing and is completely self-contained and immutable. We can reject those whose claims do not match up with these known qualities that we just discussed.
When you go through this process, you’ll arrive at the conclusion that it must be one of the monotheistic religions. Then the question is between those three, and the evidence, in my faith, hope and opinion is clearly the Catholic faith.
Last point, our faith doesn’t rest on the Bible. The Bible, as the inspired word of God contains authority and truth. But the Church and the Christian faith was born before the NT was written. The NT came through the Church.
Really. What else is there? Everything else doesn’t make as much sense. Atheism? Problematic on so many levels, why is there a universe, etc. Deism? Why would a god make such an ordered universe for no reason, doesn’t make sense either. Buddhism? Too many logical issues. Islam? Started out a Christian heresy… Mythological religions? well, mythological… Judaism, well, the Messiah has come, and he started Catholicism. Catholicism is to me, as Marc Barnes once said, “the only thing that makes the world make sense.” And not just satisfactorily so, but delightfully. Catholicism is not a book in the desert; its existence points to the existence of its Founder.
Two points of disagreement: (1) Zoroastrianism is a surviving monotheistic religion founded in the 6th century B.C. which influenced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; (2) the Judaism of the present bears more than a passing relation to the Judaism of the past, particularly the Pharasaic sect, except for the absence of the Temple. Synagogues existed in ancient times, as well as the Oral Law and the Written Law (Torah). Judaism is founded on the Law, oral tradition, and the application of the Law to an evolving society and culture.
I had the chance to be raised a Catholic and had a good catholic education. Then I could enjoy the Sacraments. Then as a grew up and questions began to rise, i could do some research, but ultimately it was God who told me (smacked it itno my face actually :D) not to fear.
Then just reading the Scripture, it is clear to me. But not because I was raised a Catholic; as I said, I could have jumped out of the boat.
If you look more into philosophy, the systematic theology, the fathers, and so on, you find it all makes sense (as far as we can understand).
The rest is faith, which I accepted.
Oh and I have to say, it also is a great source of Joy, even in doubt and suffering, as it should be!
We can test some “book from the desert” by trial and error.
That could get tedious and repetitive with each new generation so we invented religion, the Catholic one, where you can learn from others who have walked through the desert and found water.
We have the option, of course, to question, mess up, get lost , and/or jump ship in trial and error and come home again.
But it is much simpler to learn from the wisdom of those who came before you. The saints are a good place to start. Perhaps read about how many of them struggled in their secular world and used the desert books and prayers to navigate and find meaning on the rocky path.
It is my opinion that while some “questioning of reality” can be healthy, there is way too much of a nihilistic questioning of reality these days that is a destructive fashion, leading to more nothing.
Just a little bit of faith can create more truthful reality than a symposium of nihilistic questioners. And yes, that is my opinion.
Look around. Ask your elders. Read more GKChesterton.
I guess didn’t realize we had a theoretical physicist on the forum. If you could please explain to everyone why it is completely illogical for the top scientists in the world who devout their incredibly brilliant minds to a lifetime of studying the laws of physics and who have come to agree that a universe appearing out of nothing is indeed possible, it would be extremely appreciated. I do not wish to simply hear that nothing can’t create something and that it is common sense, I wish to hear your reasoning for why it is illogical when so many scientists say it does not break the laws of physics. Not saying either one happened, people are free to believe either one, I just wish to know why it is completely illogical.
Can you please share with everyone on this forum how you know that everything would pop out of existence if God did not continuously will things to remain in existence? If one was to agree that God created everything in the universe, how do we know that he has to continuously keep things there? I understand that if God did not wish for something to exist then he would rid of its existence, but I suppose I am confused as to what makes you positive that he has to keep things in place at all times. On a side note, even if God did have to continuously keep things in existence, why could he still not be a watchmaker? Who’s to say that God doesn’t keep things in existence but only allows things to work by the laws that he has set into place? The only interaction with the universe would be to allow it to remain in existence without any interference from himself, would this not be a watchmaker God?
What do you mean God is not cruel? Did God not destroy the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ? You could argue that God would allow the cities to be spared if there were 10 good people in the town, but unfortunately there wasn’t. However, what if there was only 5 good people? From the perspective of the 5 hard-working people who tried to live good, were they not killed by God for the actions of others? How is this not cruel? Did the God of the Bible not allow slavery? Did God not flood the Earth, drowning all but 2 lucky members of each animal? Did God not wipe out entire cities, leaving streets in ruin, and leaving no survivors? Did God not kill people by having animals attack people? Did God not permit people to kill men while keeping women and goods for themselves to plunder and rape?
You explained how because God has to keep the universe in existence, he has not left us, which I’ll agree with if you can assume that he does indeed have to keep us in existence, but why exactly does that mean he must communicate with us? If you believe that Jesus was God incarnate, then God is not completely spiritual. Purely good? Read the Bible and tell me that God is purely good. You will find all of the these listed in my previous paragraph. To be honest, I don’t understand how someone can claim that God is good or evil. To call God good or evil is to rate God on a scale that is greater than himself, to compare him to an absolute truth of the universe as to what is good and evil. If you do not believe that the other religions who claim to have communicated with God are real, then how can you really know anything about God? If you actually believed they communicated with him you would say so, but instead said that they made the claim to have communicated with him. In order to know something about God then you must have knowledge that we have communicated with him. How do you know which ones actually communicated with him and which ones didn’t? This creates a problem because you would have to know something about God in the first place in order to determine which ones really communicated with him, based on what they said about him, in order to then learn something about God which you somehow already knew!
How does faith not rest in the Bible? If you truly believe that the Bible is the word of God, written by man but inspired by God, then how does your faith not rest in that book?
There are a lot of things that are intricate in their existence that have very little impact on our life and that formed through completely natural processes. Cave crystals, mountains, entire continents, etc. all formed through natural processes without any particular meaning or mission. They’re just there.
If you ask for my honest opinion, I would say being Agnostic is the most reasonable view. There are too many factors, agendas, biases, complexities, experiences, hopes and wishes, emotions that sway our world views and cloud our thinking and for many of those factors, we will never know which one or a combination thereof, if any, plays a role. The view that allows for any and all possibilities is the most plausible.
Of course, there are equally incredibly brilliant minds in other fields, such as philosophy, theology, mathematics, public service. I just depends on their interests where to apply the brilliancy of the mind.
It is not possible, but that would require a background in philosophy which is no longer required in our university education. Ph.D. stands for doctor of PHILOSOPHY and you can get such a degree without a single philosophy course. Just keep in mind, science only studies the physical laws it discovers, never where the laws come from (the Creator of the Universe). That is left to philosophy and theology. I suggest, if you want answers to your questions, you study philosophy (eg Aristotle, a man with an incredibly brilliant mind)
Your OP question contains many sub-questions and it is too complex to answer simply. I find this comment can be more easily addressed.
I know what I know and relating it to you would amount to only one more factor for you to consider. So, I’m going to post some questions before briefly giving you an opinion.
I’m not seeking answers here; just asking to stimulate thought:
By agnostic, do you mean giving up?
Is there a difference between being agnostic and having an open mind?
Being agnostic, wherein lies one’s moral compass?
Is it alright to just follow societies laws and to get people to think of you as a nice guy?
Given all the examples you provide as factors leading to bias it would seem we cannot trust anyone, not even ourselves. Who is one to trust?
You mention complexities.
Now, God is who He is. He is thereby simpler than anything one can conceive. This makes Him impossible to contain in thought.
We know Him through our relationship with Him. He is relationally Itself. I know I’m making it complex and that’s why I wanted to ask questions instead of preaching.
The bottom line is that we know God through prayer, through charitable acts, through the sacraments, and contemplation of what He has revealed to His Church.
Now you can sit and wait, like some lovelorn person hoping the beloved will knock on the door. But, unlike the world of human interaction, God does come knocking. Just be sure to open the door.
I wouldn’t waste my time or the opportunity to overly scrutinize the ID and credentials; that is unless what the person presents are not those of the Magisterium and scripture - Oh dear, we are back to where we started.
Bottom line: Just ask Him.
Consider, Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus. ~37 to ~101] . Consider he is NOT a
Christian, so he has no horse in the race.
From my copy, “Complete Works of Josephus”, of which Antiquities of theJews is included
he names in his history, others who were called Jesus
*]Jesus Christ pg 379
*]Jesus son of Phabet pg 467
*]Jesus son of Sapphias pg 497
*]Jesus son of Ananus pg 582
*]Jesus brother of Onias pg 316
*]Jesus son of Gamaliel pg 424
*]Jesus son of Damneus pg 424
*]Jesus son of Gamala pg 10
[/LIST]Since I’ll guess you don’t have a copy of this work, and can’t flip to those pages, I found a link where you can read online, what he says about Jesus Christ. On page 381 which (page #'s aren’t in the following link) is a full page drawing of the crucifixion.
The following comes from Book XVIII, Ch 3, paragraph 3 Antiquities of theJews I left the footnotes operational
*3. *Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
As an aside, Josephus is not trying to prove anything. This is NOT an apologetic. As a Jew, and historian, he records people places and events as an historian of his day would do, as he received the information.
It sounds like you are more interested in the story than your relationship with Jesus.
Accept it as true, carry on as a good Catholic and you will find that your eyes can see.
The relationship, however, is what it is all about.