What’s Your Basis for ‘Reason’ and ‘Morality?’

 

A Catholic cathedral in France taken by my nephew Luke Renoe. This visual art hangs in our home, a marker of transcendence.

I was transported back to the 1980s and ’90s on my drive to university this morning listening to a podcast. I could hear myself making the same arguments to my high school students then. Kate Cohen in a Washington Post article was pushing back on “religious exemptions” used by some to exclude themselves from the mandate of law. Ms. Cohen then suggested as someone who is “not a believer” she would like exemptions from “religious laws.” Cohen’s basis for her belief? It is “in contravention of reason and morality.”

Now those who follow me on social media, my websites, and teaching videos know that I have deep respect for other points of view. But everyone who knows me also realizes that my first response will always be to ask straightforward questions. So here are the questions I would ask Kate Cohen.

“How do you define ‘reason’ and ‘morality?’” “What is the source or origin of those concepts, ‘reason’ and ‘morality’?’” And most important of all “Who gets to answer these questions, then, apply them?” Again, those who know me know that these are questions I ask everyone all the time, whether in high school, undergraduate, Ph.D. studies, or casual conversation.

And my answer will always be the same: the standard for ‘reason’ and ‘morality’ must have a transcendent source. If there is no outside, supernatural origin for decision-making about right and wrong, then we are left with human definitions, sources, and decision-makers. And if we are left solely with humans at the helm we are left with a haunting question, “Who will decide which humans decide and how will those decisions be made?”

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  1. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Physicist Sean Carroll and Philosophy professor Russ Shafer-Landau discuss “The Reality of Morality.”

    • #31
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Gotta remember though.  Saint Thomas Aquinas endorsed the torture of heretics and believed that Christians in heaven would enjoy watching the damned in hell suffer enormously.  

    So, perhaps Saint Thomas Aquinas was a bit off the rails when it comes to moral philosophy.  Maybe.

    Of course he was. He isn’t G-d.  You’re a bit off the rails too, and so am I.  And Aquinas knew more about ethics than either of us.

    • #32
  3. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    An additional speculation from Berlinski? If God got up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decided that torture, rape, and murder were good things, would that automatically make the right and moral, or would be decide that given His life choices that God is a pretty reprehensible character?

    The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma: We don’t have to choose between “Morality depends on G-d’s arbitrary whims” and “Morality is higher than G-d.”

    The classical approach, rediscovered by contemporary philosophical theologians like Robert Adams and C. Stephen Evans, is that morality is rooted in the perfect character of G-d. It’s not higher than G-d, and there’s nothing arbitrary about it.

    That sounds like the priest who said that God could not be evil because it was not His nature. He didn’t point out how that assumption is supported.

    Of course I didn’t point it out. Was there some need to at the time?

    Do you want to know how it’s supported? Read some good books on it. Definitely the Bible for the real backstory, but you can take your pick of Aquinas, Anselm, Evans, Adams, or someone like that for a more direct look at the question.

    Gotta remember though. Saint Thomas Aquinas endorsed the torture of heretics and believed that Christians in heaven would enjoy watching the damned in hell suffer enormously.

    So, perhaps Saint Thomas Aquinas was a bit off the rails when it comes to moral philosophy. Maybe.

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother? 

    Of course, I did read a lot of his Summa Theologica before reading his comment on his work. I always thought it would take a sick person to want to see the endless torture of another, but maybe he was having a bad day. 

    • #33
  4. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    An additional speculation from Berlinski? If God got up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decided that torture, rape, and murder were good things, would that automatically make the right and moral, or would be decide that given His life choices that God is a pretty reprehensible character?

    The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma: We don’t have to choose between “Morality depends on G-d’s arbitrary whims” and “Morality is higher than G-d.”

    The classical approach, rediscovered by contemporary philosophical theologians like Robert Adams and C. Stephen Evans, is that morality is rooted in the perfect character of G-d. It’s not higher than G-d, and there’s nothing arbitrary about it.

    That sounds like the priest who said that God could not be evil because it was not His nature. He didn’t point out how that assumption is supported.

    Of course I didn’t point it out. Was there some need to at the time?

    Do you want to know how it’s supported? Read some good books on it. Definitely the Bible for the real backstory, but you can take your pick of Aquinas, Anselm, Evans, Adams, or someone like that for a more direct look at the question.

    No, there was not. 

    Not really. Speculation about the nature of a being that may or may not exist doesn’t really interest me that much. 

    • #34
  5. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    An additional speculation from Berlinski? If God got up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decided that torture, rape, and murder were good things, would that automatically make the right and moral, or would be decide that given His life choices that God is a pretty reprehensible character?

    The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma: We don’t have to choose between “Morality depends on G-d’s arbitrary whims” and “Morality is higher than G-d.”

    The classical approach, rediscovered by contemporary philosophical theologians like Robert Adams and C. Stephen Evans, is that morality is rooted in the perfect character of G-d. It’s not higher than G-d, and there’s nothing arbitrary about it.

    That sounds like the priest who said that God could not be evil because it was not His nature. He didn’t point out how that assumption is supported.

    Everyone starts with assumptions. It’s an essential part of reasoning. The Christian assumption is that God is the Great I Am. His essence is Being Itself and He Is all Perfections: Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Mercy. . . it is against His nature to be inconsistent, so the answer to that perennial question asked by the kids in religious ed class: “Can God create a stone so big He can’t lift it?” is “no.” He is All Powerful. He can’t be evil, because evil is a lack of Goodness (God Himself). It’s binary logic.

    • #35
  6. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother? 

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    • #36
  7. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    One difficulty in basing morality on the opinion of God is the problem of conflicting revelation.  

    Mike says to his friend that God told him they should go to the nearby Elementary School and kill everyone in that Elementary School because that Elementary School consists of wicked people who have violated the law of God.

    Jim is one of Mike’s friends, but Jim says, in response, that God told him that they should go to the nearby Elementary School and volunteer to teach the children in that school their multiplication tables.  

    • #37
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    One difficulty in basing morality on the opinion of God is the problem of conflicting revelation.

    Mike says to his friend that God told him they should go to the nearby Elementary School and kill everyone in that Elementary School because that Elementary School consists of wicked people who have violated the law of God.

    Jim is one of Mike’s friends, but Jim says, in response, that God told him that they should go to the nearby Elementary School and volunteer to teach the children in that school their multiplication tables.

    I’ve never had that problem. Augie, have you ever had that problem?

    If your reason convinced you that all those people had to die, would you kill them? Note that I  don’t have to explain the reasoning any more than you have to explain the revelation.

    • #38
  9. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    One difficulty in basing morality on the opinion of God is the problem of conflicting revelation.

    Mike says to his friend that God told him they should go to the nearby Elementary School and kill everyone in that Elementary School because that Elementary School consists of wicked people who have violated the law of God.

    Jim is one of Mike’s friends, but Jim says, in response, that God told him that they should go to the nearby Elementary School and volunteer to teach the children in that school their multiplication tables.

    I’ve never had that problem. Augie, have you ever had that problem?

    If your reason convinced you that all those people had to die, would you kill them? Note that I don’t have to explain the reasoning any more than you have to explain the revelation.

    It’s good that you’ve never had that problem.  I’ve never had that problem either.  

    But think back to the 16th and 17th centuries when Christians of contrasting theological views were killing each other.  

    Some people attempt to understand God’s commands and come up with the idea that they need to kill a bunch of people.  After all, the Hebrew Bible God commands the Israelites to kill infants and children.  

    Other people attempt to understand God’s commands and come up with the idea that they need to help people in need.  

    • #39
  10. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    An additional speculation from Berlinski? If God got up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decided that torture, rape, and murder were good things, would that automatically make the right and moral, or would be decide that given His life choices that God is a pretty reprehensible character?

    The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma: We don’t have to choose between “Morality depends on G-d’s arbitrary whims” and “Morality is higher than G-d.”

    The classical approach, rediscovered by contemporary philosophical theologians like Robert Adams and C. Stephen Evans, is that morality is rooted in the perfect character of G-d. It’s not higher than G-d, and there’s nothing arbitrary about it.

    That sounds like the priest who said that God could not be evil because it was not His nature. He didn’t point out how that assumption is supported.

    Everyone starts with assumptions. It’s an essential part of reasoning. The Christian assumption is that God is the Great I Am. His essence is Being Itself and He Is all Perfections: Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Mercy. . . it is against His nature to be inconsistent, so the answer to that perennial question asked by the kids in religious ed class: “Can God create a stone so big He can’t lift it?” is “no.” He is All Powerful. He can’t be evil, because evil is a lack of Goodness (God Himself). It’s binary logic.

    Is there such a thing a a being possessing active, evil will? That is not just a “lack” of goodness. 

    • #40
  11. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Django (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    An additional speculation from Berlinski? If God got up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decided that torture, rape, and murder were good things, would that automatically make the right and moral, or would be decide that given His life choices that God is a pretty reprehensible character?

    The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma: We don’t have to choose between “Morality depends on G-d’s arbitrary whims” and “Morality is higher than G-d.”

    The classical approach, rediscovered by contemporary philosophical theologians like Robert Adams and C. Stephen Evans, is that morality is rooted in the perfect character of G-d. It’s not higher than G-d, and there’s nothing arbitrary about it.

    That sounds like the priest who said that God could not be evil because it was not His nature. He didn’t point out how that assumption is supported.

    Everyone starts with assumptions. It’s an essential part of reasoning. The Christian assumption is that God is the Great I Am. His essence is Being Itself and He Is all Perfections: Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Mercy. . . it is against His nature to be inconsistent, so the answer to that perennial question asked by the kids in religious ed class: “Can God create a stone so big He can’t lift it?” is “no.” He is All Powerful. He can’t be evil, because evil is a lack of Goodness (God Himself). It’s binary logic.

    Is there such a thing a a being possessing active, evil will? That is not just a “lack” of goodness.

    Of course it’s not just a lack of goodness. That’s why he still exists and has a will. But the evilness of the will is not a positive thing in itself; it’s a defect.

    • #41
  12. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    An additional speculation from Berlinski? If God got up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and decided that torture, rape, and murder were good things, would that automatically make the right and moral, or would be decide that given His life choices that God is a pretty reprehensible character?

    The Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma: We don’t have to choose between “Morality depends on G-d’s arbitrary whims” and “Morality is higher than G-d.”

    The classical approach, rediscovered by contemporary philosophical theologians like Robert Adams and C. Stephen Evans, is that morality is rooted in the perfect character of G-d. It’s not higher than G-d, and there’s nothing arbitrary about it.

    That sounds like the priest who said that God could not be evil because it was not His nature. He didn’t point out how that assumption is supported.

    Everyone starts with assumptions. It’s an essential part of reasoning. The Christian assumption is that God is the Great I Am. His essence is Being Itself and He Is all Perfections: Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Mercy. . . it is against His nature to be inconsistent, so the answer to that perennial question asked by the kids in religious ed class: “Can God create a stone so big He can’t lift it?” is “no.” He is All Powerful. He can’t be evil, because evil is a lack of Goodness (God Himself). It’s binary logic.

    Is there such a thing a a being possessing active, evil will? That is not just a “lack” of goodness.

    Of course it’s not just a lack of goodness. That’s why he still exists and has a will. But the evilness of the will is not a positive thing in itself; it’s a defect.

    And because the hypothetical perfect God can’t can’t exhibit that defect, He can’t be evil? 

    No, I’m not ridiculing, just being stubborn. Peace. 

    • #42
  13. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    In the Hebrew Bible we read about God commending the Israelites to kill infants and children.  In such a situation, wouldn’t the good thing be to disobey God’s command rather than to go ahead and do what God commands?

    • #43
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    One difficulty in basing morality on the opinion of God is the problem of conflicting revelation.

    Mike says to his friend that God told him they should go to the nearby Elementary School and kill everyone in that Elementary School because that Elementary School consists of wicked people who have violated the law of God.

    Jim is one of Mike’s friends, but Jim says, in response, that God told him that they should go to the nearby Elementary School and volunteer to teach the children in that school their multiplication tables.

    I’ve never had that problem. Augie, have you ever had that problem?

    If your reason convinced you that all those people had to die, would you kill them? Note that I don’t have to explain the reasoning any more than you have to explain the revelation.

    It’s good that you’ve never had that problem. I’ve never had that problem either.

    But think back to the 16th and 17th centuries when Christians of contrasting theological views were killing each other.

    Some people attempt to understand God’s commands and come up with the idea that they need to kill a bunch of people. After all, the Hebrew Bible God commands the Israelites to kill infants and children.

    Other people attempt to understand God’s commands and come up with the idea that they need to help people in need.

    You have to go back quite a way to come up with those. People murdering other people over politics doesn’t require a Wayback machine quite so powerful. Of course, most of the people so moved by their politics belonged to political movements were expressly atheist …

    • #44
  15. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Percival (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    It’s good that you’ve never had that problem. I’ve never had that problem either.

    But think back to the 16th and 17th centuries when Christians of contrasting theological views were killing each other.

    Some people attempt to understand God’s commands and come up with the idea that they need to kill a bunch of people. After all, the Hebrew Bible God commands the Israelites to kill infants and children.

    Other people attempt to understand God’s commands and come up with the idea that they need to help people in need.

    You have to go back quite a way to come up with those. People murdering other people over politics doesn’t require a Wayback machine quite so powerful. Of course, most of the people so moved by their politics belonged to political movements were expressly atheist …

    Nothing wrong with a wayback machine.  Those who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it.

    • #45
  16. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, and a Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    • #46
  17. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, an Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    How do you analyze those parts of the Hebrew Bible where God commands the Israelites  to kill infants and children? 

    Do you think there are situations where the moral thing to do is to disobey God’s command?  Or would the moral thing to do be to kill infants and children, thinking that God, being more knowledgeable than human beings, has some mysterious reasons for wanting us to kill infants and children?

    • #47
  18. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, and a Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    From what I read of him, I do not doubt his Faith nor his intelligence. As for his mystical experience, I’ll go with what might have been my own. Only two, but those were enough. Yes, I was completely sober on both occasions. 

    “… so much straw” is pretty close in my mind for worthless. 

    • #48
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Django (View Comment):
    And because the hypothetical perfect God can’t can’t exhibit that defect, He can’t be evil? 

    Of course Gd can’t be evil.

    • #49
  20. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In the Hebrew Bible we read about God commending the Israelites to kill infants and children. In such a situation, wouldn’t the good thing be to disobey God’s command rather than to go ahead and do what God commands?

    If you want to learn an informed response, let me know. I know a great one. But you would have to spend more than an hour entertaining ideas you don’t agree with for it to be any use.

    • #50
  21. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Django (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, and a Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    From what I read of him, I do not doubt his Faith nor his intelligence. As for his mystical experience, I’ll go with what might have been my own. Only two, but those were enough. Yes, I was completely sober on both occasions.

    “… so much straw” is pretty close in my mind for worthless.

    How well does your mind know 1 and 2 Corinthians, for a start?

    • #51
  22. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, and a Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    From what I read of him, I do not doubt his Faith nor his intelligence. As for his mystical experience, I’ll go with what might have been my own. Only two, but those were enough. Yes, I was completely sober on both occasions.

    “… so much straw” is pretty close in my mind for worthless.

    How well does your mind know 1 and 2 Corinthians, for a start?

    Not at all since I’ve never read them. 

    • #52
  23. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In the Hebrew Bible we read about God commending the Israelites to kill infants and children. In such a situation, wouldn’t the good thing be to disobey God’s command rather than to go ahead and do what God commands?

    If you want to learn an informed response, let me know. I know a great. But you would have to spend more than an hour entertaining ideas you don’t agree with for it to be any good.

    Does it really take more than an hour to figure out whether one should obey a command by God to kill infants and children?

    This doesn’t seem like one of those “edge cases” in morality.

    • #53
  24. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In the Hebrew Bible we read about God commending the Israelites to kill infants and children. In such a situation, wouldn’t the good thing be to disobey God’s command rather than to go ahead and do what God commands?

    If you want to learn an informed response, let me know. I know a great. But you would have to spend more than an hour entertaining ideas you don’t agree with for it to be any good.

    Does it really take more than an hour to figure out whether one should obey a command by God to kill infants and children?

    Sometimes you have to go off the grid. I remember a discussion WFB, Jr. described where a man said to his wife, if God walked in the door right now and said “I’m omniscient and you have free will”, you’d have to believe Him. His wife responded, “No, I wouldn’t. I’d just assume I hadn’t heard him correctly.”

    Exactly what I’d do if God told me to kill someone.

    • #54
  25. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, and a Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    From what I read of him, I do not doubt his Faith nor his intelligence. As for his mystical experience, I’ll go with what might have been my own. Only two, but those were enough. Yes, I was completely sober on both occasions.

    “… so much straw” is pretty close in my mind for worthless.

    How well does your mind know 1 and 2 Corinthians, for a start?

    Not at all since I’ve never read them.

    Then what it is close to in your mind is not important, your mind being uninformed.

    • #55
  26. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Django (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In the Hebrew Bible we read about God commending the Israelites to kill infants and children. In such a situation, wouldn’t the good thing be to disobey God’s command rather than to go ahead and do what God commands?

    If you want to learn an informed response, let me know. I know a great. But you would have to spend more than an hour entertaining ideas you don’t agree with for it to be any good.

    Does it really take more than an hour to figure out whether one should obey a command by God to kill infants and children?

    Sometimes you have to go off the grid. I remember a discussion WFB, Jr. described where man said to his wife, if God walked in the door right now and said “I’m omniscient and you have free will”, you’d have to believe Him. His wife responded, “No, I wouldn’t. I’d just assume I hadn’t heard him correctly.”

    Exactly what I’d do if God told me to kill someone.

    That’s a great answer.

    Think of the scripture, Proverbs 3:5 (NRSV)

    Trust in the Lord with all of your heart

    and do not rely on your own insight

    That’s an awful idea.  If you don’t rely on your own insight you are vulnerable to being manipulated by people to assert that they are the communicators of God’s word.

    • #56
  27. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    In the Hebrew Bible we read about God commending the Israelites to kill infants and children. In such a situation, wouldn’t the good thing be to disobey God’s command rather than to go ahead and do what God commands?

    If you want to learn an informed response, let me know. I know a great. But you would have to spend more than an hour entertaining ideas you don’t agree with for it to be any good.

    Does it really take more than an hour to figure out whether one should obey a command by God to kill infants and children?

    This doesn’t seem like one of those “edge cases” in morality.

    It’s not simple, and it’s not an edge case. You are oversimplifying what you do not understand.

    • #57
  28. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, an Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    How do you analyze those parts of the Hebrew Bible where God commands the Israelites to kill infants and children?

    Do you think there are situations where the moral thing to do is to disobey God’s command? Or would the moral thing to do be to kill infants and children, thinking that God, being more knowledgeable than human beings, has some mysterious reasons for wanting us to kill infants and children?

    I would ask if one is disturbed by the killing of infants how does Planned Parenthood, or anyone else in the medical profession justify the the killing of infants. Over 60 million abortions have been performed in the United States alone since Roe v. Wade. The Bible is not the sole source of truth, but it’s critics treat it as such. I could make the argument that a secular society that depends upon revenue is suicidal by killing potential earners, and justify their actions by the euphemism that it is a fetus. 

    • #58
  29. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    He also fell into trance or some such state and when he came back among us he said, “Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written seems worthless.” Or maybe it was translated as “pointless”. In any case, if the man who wrote it thought it was worthless, why would I bother?

    I believe he said it was straw, referring to a passage in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.

    Yes, to paraphrase what he said was, what has been revealed to me makes what I have written seem like so much straw. He said this when he experienced a mystical moment when saying Mass. Along with St. Augustine he was one of the greatest theologians in not only the Catholic Church, but in all of Christianity.

    Ayn Rand, an atheist said that St. Thomas Aquinas was a giant among men. I will admit that that I’m a Dominican, and a Thomist in my beliefs, and St. Thomas Aquinas was a Dominican.

    From what I read of him, I do not doubt his Faith nor his intelligence. As for his mystical experience, I’ll go with what might have been my own. Only two, but those were enough. Yes, I was completely sober on both occasions.

    “… so much straw” is pretty close in my mind for worthless.

    How well does your mind know 1 and 2 Corinthians, for a start?

    Not at all since I’ve never read them.

    Then what it is close to in your mind is not important, your mind being uninformed.

    Nonsense. They are not the only source of information. You have convinced me there is no reason to read them. They haven’t done much for you. 

    • #59
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Think of the scripture, Proverbs 3:5 (NRSV)

    Trust in the Lord with all of your heart

    and do not rely on your own insight

    That’s an awful idea.  If you don’t rely on your own insight you are vulnerable to being manipulated by people to assert that they are the communicators of God’s word.

    Good grief. Where in Proverbs 3 did you find the advice to listen to every rando who says he’s giving G-d’s Word? You know what the Bible actually says about that? “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything.”

    • #60
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