Monday, October 7, 2013

God and Reason

You know what? I want to have another one of those longish philosophical discussions with you blog readers.  It just so happens that I'm due to give a presentation on the proofs for the existence of God sometime next year, so let's go with that as our topic.


The Catholic Church teaches that the existence of God can be known with complete certainty, from the natural light of human reason alone.  In fact, all elements of the Catholic faith are reasonable and logical, because both faith and reason come from God.  Since they have the same source, they do not and cannot contradict each other.  [If it seems like science and religion are contradicting each other, then you either have bad science or bad religion.]

"Even though faith is above reason, there can never be any real disagreement between faith and reason, since it is the same God who reveals the mysteries and infuses faith, and who has endowed the human mind with the light of reason.  God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever be in opposition to truth." (Vatican I)

The Church's teaching on faith and reason is contrary to at least two different groups.
  • The Authoritarians, who teach that all elements of faith must be accepted, without any reasonable proof.  An authoritarian would say something like, "God exists and you have to believe in him, because I said so."
  • The Sentimentalists, who put all matters of faith into the realm of feelings.  They say that internal experience or private inspiration is the only way to come to faith.  A sentimentalist would say something like, "I know God exists, because I can feel it in my heart."
By coincidence, the new atheists also oppose these groups.  The new atheists agree that religion and science, faith and reason, should not contradict each other.


Kuhna said...

Ooh, this should be interesting, and I mean that sincerely.

Vast Universe said...

I think it's important to mention individual spirituality. One does not have to practice a particular religion to be spiritual.

And there are always the Agnostics. Those do not believe in God, but do believe in something else out there and perhaps in some other type of purpose for life.

Most of my differences with religious people are due to the fact that many reject proven scientific fact, especially evolution.

Katie said...

I want someone who knows and I mean really knows and understands evolution to please explain it to me. Tell me exactly what it is and what it means, I want to fully understand it.

Anonymous said...

Katie, I majored in comparative vertebrate zoology/anatomy/evolution in college.

Evolution via decent with modification is nothing more than organisms with detrimental genes not surviving long enough to pass those 'bad' genes down to their offspring.

An individual animal itself does not evolve - only populations do, because it acts on genes that survive in the population's gene pool.

Take the classic moth story. the moths come in two colors - black and peppered. These moths settle on tree bark, and their favorite trees are white. So black moths resting on the white tree bark will stick out, and birds will eat them, while the white moths are hidden enough not to be seen. Thus the black moths will not pass down their black genes, and so the proportion of white genes in their gene pool will increase.

Now a dirty factory has sprung up near the trees, and its pollution settles on the tree bark and makes them look black. Now the black moths can hide while the white moths stick out. The birds eat the white moths. The white genes are no longer being passed down, while the blakc genes are surviving and being produced in the babies of the black moths.

This is MICROevolution - evoliution that occurs in a SINGLE population.

MACROevolution is evolution that occurs when ONE population's gene pool splits into MULTIPLE gene pools - this can happen in a number of ways. Say a herd of dear is separated by an earthquake.

The two populations (of ONE species) cannot mate with each other for whatever reason. Thus, their gene pools will shift (through MICROevolution) and change differently and independently. Their gene pools might change so much that, if somehow they were brought together again to mate, they would not be able to. They have become SEPARATE SPECIES.

Anonymous said...

I made a mistake in my wording.

I said "Evolution acts on genes that survive in the population's gene pool"

This is false. Evolution does not 'act'. Evolution is not an active process. Evolution does not change things. Death and reproduction change things.

The result of these changes is evolution.

The result of the changes is a fluctuation of gene frequency in a population.

Thus 'evolution' is a fluctuation of gene frequency in a population.

Katie Nelson said...

@Anon at 12:55 and 12:59: Nice lol

Anonymous said...

Except evolution really isn't proven scientific fact…

Anonymous said...

What is your point? It's not proven 'fact' because evolution is not the kind of thing that can be classified as 'fact'.

Individual organisms that die before they reproduce do not pass down their genes. That's a fact.

If these genes are not passed down, then they will diminish in percentage in the gene pool. That's a fact.

If the gene pool changes, then physical attributes may change. That's a fact.

I don't see how you can argue against any of these points.

The thing that connects the dots of these facts is called evolution. Evolution explains facts. Things that explain a slew of facts, with lots and lots of evidence, examples, experiments, and confirmation - are called theories. Scientific theories. Not hypotheses, not guesses, and not speculation.

Anonymous said...

The more I study God and the Catholic faith, the more I realize that to believe in God is logical. I just use my common sense and it all fits together. Also without God, there really would be no reason to follow any rules at all, because there would be no right or wrong. There would be no sin. People could kill and rape and not have to worry that they could spend their afterlife in Hell. It is also logical to believe in the Devil, because he tempts us to sin as a way to gain more souls. That way, God would lose souls. The Devil would always prefer that we think that he does not exist, because that makes it easier for him to trap us. The Devil is subtle and he is just jealous of God that he lost the war. Also God has left behind all the earth, animals, trees, water, and us human beings as evidence that He exists.:) And the sun and the moon and stars. It would be unreasonable to think that we all were created just from a 'big bang' for no reason at all. It would also be sad.:(
God Bless everybody.:)

Anonymous said...

This is probably going to come off as condescending or mocking, but that is not my intention in the following sentences.

You say you are going to try to prove God. Which God? The Christian God? Which denomination of the Christian God? Catholics, as you know, believe God is three in one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mormons do not believe this. God is not three-in-one for them. Protestants don’t either, nor do Jehovah Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, etc.

The Christian God is further divided into the question is Jesus the Son of God, God in human form, or both? Some groups believe one OR the other, or sometimes both. Therefore, if you try to prove God’s divinity is also intertwined with Jesus, that right there will not represent God to some people, and therefore, could be interpreted as fake.

What about Muslims and Jews? For them, there is only God, no demi-God Jesus. For Muslims, God punishes Christians in hell for idolatry (worshipping Jesus), while Jews believe there is no hell. Which God are you going to prove? The “hell is real, meant to punish you” God, or the “there is no hell, that’s a pagan invention” God? If hell is real, who is going there? The Muslim God sends you to hell for worshipping Jesus, and the Christian God sends you to hell for NOT worshipping Jesus. Going back to Christianity, not ALL Christians out of the 30,000 active sects believe in a hell, so that further complicates how to prove the Christian God.

Hindus believe in many Gods. Which one are you going to prove? Shintos have a more “in nature” feel of God—God is more in the winds, trees, and all life forms then a separate being you can have a personal relationship with.

So, you have to say that all these different ideals of God are just the same being, interrupted differently, God is more of a general term for the universe (like in Pantheism), God is a creator, but he doesn’t act in this world (like in Deism), or the God or you are out to prove is the Catholic ideal of God. It’s physically impossible to prove that all these different ideals of God are correct, because some contradict each other. You worship Jesus, you go to hell. You don’t worship Jesus, you go to hell. Christianity and Islam cannot both be right in that regard. Just saying you are going to prove God, opens up a wide variety of questions, that, quite frankly, no one can answer with 100% certainity, which is why there are so many different religions.

The following website lists all of the Gods humans have worshiped at some point in our existence. I am curious which one you are interested in proving.

Kuhna said...

^Methodists definitely believe in the Trinity, and always assumed most Protestant denominations do.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:37:

So if you didn't believe in God you honestly wouldn't give a second thought or feel any guilt at all about going out and killing everyone you meet? People like you scare me, who believe that people can't have any sense of morality (even though, yes, morality is ambiguous) unless they believe in God and sin and Hell.

There is a reason not to kill and steal and flout every commandment. Because otherwise society would fall apart. Even more-so than it has already.

Anonymous said...

^^Some might. Some, out of a group of I think over a million, might not. Oneness and Apostolic Pentecostals (largely) don't. I've never heard of any JWs or Mormons that do. Gnostics do not

Some call these not "real" Christians because they do not beleive in the Trinity, but it's a dangerous road to travel the "you're not a TRUE Christian" game. Some JWs claim the same thing for thoese that do believe in the Trinity. Who's right?

Vast Universe said...

How does one begin to believe in God? Are you born believing in him? Is it because your parents raised you like that? Is it like an epiphany? An experience that proves God is real? Or the need to justify your existence and life? A regulation of things you can and can't do? When does it start and how? Finally, WHY that specific version of God? Why not another denomination?

I do not understand that in religion, just as some of you have trouble understanding evolution.

Anonymous said...

^religion is, at its very root, biological. Or, at least, it might be. I had to study some journal articles on this for college once (I'm the evolution Anon from above). There's an idea that religion was either evolutionarily selected for, or it was a by-product of some other evolutionary adaptation (the term for this sort of thing is a 'spandrel').

Forms of religion are found in every corner of the globe. If not all religions can be right, then why do these cultures come up with these ideas? Because we are wired to.

There were some simple studies done that show that religion does impact social actions like cooperation, generosity, honesty, and altruism ("prosocial behavior").

"Kin selection allows small groups of genetically related individuals, while religion allows for larger groups of unrelated individual to interact in cooperative ways. These larger groups could then out-compete groups that did not have religious concepts"

Remember, religion can be as complicated as the Bible, or as simple as believing in karma. MANY people, Christian or not, believe in the basic structure of 'if you do good, good will come back to you. If you do bad, bad will come back to you'. That is religion.

I can elaborate more on the studies I had to present, but I'll leave it at this for now.