A message from our Diocese: In a letter that Bishop Joe S. Vásquez received from Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat, Bishop of St. Thomas Chaldean Diocese in Southfield, Michigan, our diocese has been invited to join St. Thomas Chaldean Diocese in prayer to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede for the Christians in Iraq […]
Ascension Press has put out a amazing short video on the call to the priesthood. It is a must see! It features two great young priests – Fr. Mike Schmitz and Fr. Joshua Johnson – who both work in Campus Ministry. You can learn more here.
Top 75 Pope Francis’ Quotes “Jesus is the gate opening up to salvation, a gate open to everyone.” “God’s forgiveness is stronger than any sin.” “To change the world we must be good to those who cannot repay us.” “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are […]
My 7 year-old daughter can’t get enough attention. Frequently, she will pretend she is a superstar on TV, while singing a song into a play microphone. She loves to have others watch her perform, whether it is acting, making others laugh, or singing. Like a lot of folks, she wants to be famous. Our world loves […]
Daniel Dennett, one of the “four horsemen” of contemporary atheism, proposed in 2003 that those who espouse a naturalist, atheist worldview should call themselves “the brights,” thereby distinguishing themselves rather clearly from the dim benighted masses who hold on to supernaturalist convictions. In the wake of Dennett’s suggestion, many atheists have brought forward what they take to be ample evidence that the smartest people in our society do indeed subscribe to anti-theist views. By “smartest” they usually mean practitioners of the physical sciences, and thus they point to surveys that indicate only small percentages of scientists subscribe to religious belief.
In a recent article published in the online journal “Salon,” titled “Religion’s Smart-People Problem,” University of Seattle philosophy professor John Messerly reiterates this case. However, he references, not simply the lack of belief among the scientists, but also the atheism among academic philosophers, or as he puts it, “professional philosophers.” He cites a recent survey that shows only 14% of such professors admitting to theistic convictions, and he states that this unbelief among the learned elite, though not in itself a clinching argument for atheism, should at the very least give religious people pause. Well, I’m sorry Professor Messerly, but please consider me unpaused.
Since I have developed these arguments many times before in other forums, let me say just a few things in regard to the scientists. I have found that, in practically every instance, the scientists who declare their disbelief in God have no idea what serious religious people mean by the word “God.” Almost without exception, they think of God as some supreme worldly nature, an item within the universe for which they have found no “evidence,” a gap within the ordinary nexus of causal relations, etc. I would deny such a reality as vigorously as they do. If that’s what they mean by “God,” then I’m as much an atheist as they—and so was Thomas Aquinas. What reflective religious people mean when they speak of God is not something within the universe, but rather the condition for the possibility of the universe as such, the non-contingent ground of contingency. And about that reality, the sciences, strictly speaking, have nothing to say one way or another, for the consideration of such a state of affairs is beyond the limits of the scientific method. And so when statistics concerning the lack of belief among scientists are trotted out, my response, honestly, is “who cares?”
But what about the philosophers, 86% of whom apparently don’t believe in God? Wouldn’t they be conversant with the most serious and sophisticated accounts of God? Well, you might be surprised. Many academic philosophers, trained in highly specialized corners of the field, actually have little acquaintance with the fine points of philosophy of religion and often prove ham-handed when dealing with the issue of God. We hear, time and again, the breezy claim that the traditional arguments for God’s existence have been “demolished” or “refuted,” but when these supposed refutations are brought forward, they prove, I have found, remarkably weak, often little more than the batting down of a straw-man. A fine example of this is Bertrand Russell’s deeply uninformed dismissal of Thomas Aquinas’s demonstration of the impossibility of an infinite regress of conditioned causes.
But more to it, the percentage of atheists in the professional philosophical caste has at least as much to do with academic politics as it does with the formulation of convincing arguments. If one wants to transform a department of philosophy from largely theist to largely atheist, all one has to do is to make sure that the chairman of the department and even a small coterie of the professoriat are atheist. In rather short order, that critical mass will control hiring, firing, and the granting of tenure within the department. Once atheists have come to dominate the department, only atheist faculty will be hired and students with theistic interests will be sharply discouraged from writing dissertations defending the religious point of view. In time, very few doctorates supporting theism will be produced, and a new generation, shaped by thoroughly atheist assumptions, will come of age. To see how quickly this transformation can happen, take a good look at the philosophy department at many of the leading Catholic universities: what were, in the 1950’s overwhelmingly theistic professoriats are today largely atheist. Does anyone really think that this happened because lots of clever new arguments were discovered?
Another serious problem with trumpeting the current statistics on the beliefs of philosophers is that such a move is based on the assumption that, in regard to philosophy, newer is better. One could make that argument in regard to the sciences, which do seem to progress in a steadily upward direction: no one studies the scientific theories of Ptolemy or Descartes today, except out of historical interest. But philosophy is a horse of a different color, more akin to poetry. Does anyone think that the philosophical views of, say, Michel Foucault are necessarily better than those of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, or Hegel, just because Foucault is more contemporary? It would be like saying the verse of Robert Frost is necessarily superior to that of Dante or Shakespeare, just because Frost wrote in the twentieth century. I for one think that philosophy, so marked today by nihilism and postmodern relativism, is passing through a particularly corrupt period. Why should we think, therefore, that the denizens of philosophy department lounges today are necessarily more correct than Alfred North Whitehead, Edmund Husserl, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Maritain, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Luc Marion, all of whom were well-acquainted with modern science, rigorously trained in philosophy and affirmed the existence of God?
I despise the arrogance of Dennett and his atheist followers who would blithely wrap themselves in the mantle of “brightness;” but I also despise the use of statistics to prove any point about philosophical or religious matters. I would much prefer that we return to argument.
A note from Fr. David Konderla,Pastor & Director of Campus Ministry:Well, it is that time of year when some of you leave St. Mary’s for winter break and others graduate to become Apostles for the Church and world as we say here at St. Mary’s.I must…
A very thought-provoking article. Here is a snip:
Over thirty years have passed since same-sex attraction rushed up from deep within my twelve-year-old frame. This attraction was unbidden and unwanted, yet simultaneously forceful and compelling.
As a Christian, the conflict between my sexuality and my faith would become the deepest and most intense of my life. Now in my forties, I’ve gone from being closeted to openly lesbian to celibate to heterosexually married. The fact that I need to qualify my marital union as a heterosexual one reveals how much the cultural landscape has changed in that time—just as much as my own personal landscape has, though in very different ways.
During my upbringing, I heard a few fiery sermons on homosexuality. These days, I hear declarations of love instead. They make me shout for joy. Amen! It always should have been so! At the same time, however, many pastors have begun accompanying this love with an eschewal of Biblical sexual morality as oppressive, unreasonable, or unkind. Hence, loving homosexual persons also comes to entail affirming and encouraging them in same-sex sexual relationships and behaviors.
Although I appreciate the desire to act in love, this isn’t the genuine love that people like me need. Love me better than that!
This article describes well the goals and path of the Courage ministry. If you are a student at Texas A&M or Blinne and want to learn more about the Courage ministry at St. Marys Catholic Center, contact Fr. David Konderla via our website.
The facts about the USA using torture on terrorists is now becoming news and as expected, there are many arguing the practice of using torture is not only needed, but morally good.
Be that as it may, the Catholic Church is very clear – torture is never acceptable. We hear the counter argument – terrorists have a bomb and we might be able to find out where it is before they kill a lot of people AND we know they are evil and have killed before! But, we are not supposed to act like they do and we don’t determine if something is morally ok by the end alone. Evil means can not be justified by good ends, and when we talk about torture – the good ends (getting information which might save lives) never can justify evil means (torture).
Torture – as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us:
2297 Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.
It goes on to say:
2298 In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.
Benedict XVI – says this about torture:
Public authorities must be ever vigilant in this task, eschewing any means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners. In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances”
The Pope was quoting the Compendium of Social Doctrine when he gave the quote above. Here is what the fuller quote says, in context:
In carrying out investigations, the regulation against the use of torture, even in the case of serious crimes, must be strictly observed: “Christ’s disciple refuses every recourse to such methods, which nothing could justify and in which the dignity of man is as much debased in his torturer as in the torturer’s victim”. International juridical instruments concerning human rights correctly indicate a prohibition against torture as a principle which cannot be contravened under any circumstances.
Now, I know that there are several Catholic writers, theologians and others who blur the distinctions between what constitutes torture and what doesn’t. Violence (moral or physical) is the key here, as the Catechism defines torture. This is a moral absolute and the game of “what if” doesn’t do justice to the situation, because we cannot justify the means by the ends. If we are truly pro-life, then we must be so in all cases, not just abortion and related issues.
If the means do justify the ends, then we have become consequentialists and our basing our morality off of the theory that is founded on utilitarianism and relativism. This is dangerous water to be treading in. What kind of people have we become when we sink to the level of torture? Is this what America ought to condone? Are we not better than this?
Maybe one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century can bring it home for us, when he says:
“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.” – G.K. Chesterton
The Bible contains numerous promises that God makes to His people. Below you will find the top 35 promises God makes to His people. If you have a favorite which was missed, please comment.
- “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
- “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
- “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
- “He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
- “God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
- “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
- “Those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”
- “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”
- “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
- “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.”
-1 Cor 10:13
- “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
- “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.”
- “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
- “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
- “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
- “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”
- “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”
- “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
- “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
- “I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
- “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”
- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
- “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
- “If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.”
- “And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
-1 John 5:14
- “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.”
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
- “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- “Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”
- “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away”
- “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
- John 11:25-26
- “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
- “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
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