Response to Mary’s Immaculate Conception

Reader Scottie has forwarded me this response he received via email from one Pope Michael, no affiliation with the original monks emailed.  We are pleased to receive critique and feedback on our posts here.  It is a bit late now, and the points raised in this response require deeper evaluation.  For now, I will simply post it here.  Please feel free to comment on this or the original post.

Dear Scottie,

This one is interesting.  First of all, four people were born without Original Sin.  Jesus, being God did not have Original Sin, obviously.  Secondly, the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without original Sin as a special privilege from God.  However, she did have to cooperate with these graces, and objectively speaking could have sinned.  What if she had said no to the Angel at the Annunciation?  Mary cooperated most perfectly with Almighty God in her salvation.  She simply got a benefit most of us do not have, which God may do.  Two others were born without Original Sin.  Saint John the Baptist was purified at the time of the Visitation, and thus born without Original Sin.  For this reason we celebrate the Birthdays of Jesus, Mary and John the Baptist and no other Birthdays in the Church.  I believe the Prophet Jeremias was also sanctified in this manner.
We all must cooperate with God in our salvation, because God will not save us without our cooperation.  This would deny free will, as the Calvinists apparently do.  I wish I had a copy of the special I saw on the History Channel about two years ago on how Protestant thought has influenced the modern world.  Calvin’s doctrine of justification had some surprising results.  He taught that we were either saved or not no matter what we do.  One group, and I forget the name, that spun off from this sinned like mad, because it simply does not matter under Calvinism.  This reaction is logical and dangerous and proves the falsehood of the the Calvinistic proposition of justification.  Remember also that Adam and Eve were not conceived in sin, but they sinned anyway, so being free from Original Sin is not a guarantee of salvation.
Yes it is well written, but it is what they do not say.
I hope this helps.

Pope Michael

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The Argument from Contingency

It just occurred to me that earlier, after Sarah did not adequately respond to Brett’s objection to my Cosmological Argument, that I got too caught up in correcting Sarah to answer Brett.  Effectively, neither of us stood up to his objection, and I will admit, I misunderstood it.

Until now!

Brett wrote:

“If the universe never had a cause for its existence, if it never began to exist, but it exists now, then it is infinite. Given infinite time, every possibility is allowed to be actualized, including the possibility for everything to cease to exist. ”

Please explain how that same argument doesn’t apply to the “eternal cause” of the universe.”

Now, Sarah replied to this objection in a non-sensical way, and I got too caught up in all the non-sense to actually read Brett’s words for myself. The answer to his objection lies in God’s being the necessary being. This is a feature of both Plantinga’s Modal Ontological Argument, and more relevantly the Argument from Contingency.  Dr. Peter Kreeft, of Boston College, sums up the Contingency Argument here:

Why must there be a first cause? Because if there isn’t, then the whole universe is unexplained, and we have violated our Principle of Sufficient Reason for everything. If there is no first cause, each particular thing in the universe is explained in the short run, or proximately, by some other thing, but nothing is explained in the long run, or ultimately, and the universe as a whole is not explained. Everyone and everything says in turn, “Don’t look to me for the final explanation. I’m just an instrument. Something else caused me.” If that’s all there is, then we have an endless passing of the buck. God is the one who says, “The buck stops here.”If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a great chain with many links; each link is held up by the link above it, but the whole chain is held up by nothing. If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a railroad train moving without an engine. Each car’s motion is explained proximately by the motion of the car in front of it: the caboose moves because the boxcar pulls it, the boxcar moves because the cattle car pulls it, et cetera. But there is no engine to pull the first car and the whole train. That would be impossible, of course. But that is what the universe is like if there is no first cause: impossible.Here is one more analogy. Suppose I tell you there is a book that explains everything you want explained. You want that book very much. You ask me whether I have it. I say no, I have to get it from my wife. Does she have it? No, she has to get it from a neighbor. Does he have it? No, he has to get it from his teacher, who has to get it. . . et cetera, etcetera, ad infinitum. No one actually has the book. In that case, you will never get it. However long or short the chain of book borrowers may be, you will get the book only if someone actually has it and does not have to borrow it. Well, existence is like that book. Existence is handed down the chain of causes, from cause to effect. If there is no first cause, no being who is eternal and self-sufficient, no being who has existence by his own nature and does not have to borrow it from someone else, then the gift of existence can never be passed down the chain to others, and no one will ever get it. But we did get it. We exist. We got the gift of existence from our causes, down the chain, and so did every actual being in the universe, from atoms to archangels. Therefore there must be a first cause of existence, a God.

 

If there is no independent being, then the whole chain of dependent beings is dependent on nothing and could not exist. 

 

In more abstract philosophical language, the proof goes this way. Every being that exists either exists by itself, by its own essence or nature, or it does not exist by itself. If it exists by its own essence, then it exists necessarily and eternally, and explains itself. It cannot not exist, as a triangle cannot not have three sides. If, on the other hand, a being exists but not by its own essence, then it needs a cause, a reason outside itself for its existence. Because it does not explain itself, something else must explain it. Beings whose essence does not contain the reason for their existence, beings that need causes, are called contingent, or dependent, beings. A being whose essence is to exist is called a necessary being. The universe contains only contingent beings. God would be the only necessary being—if God existed. Does he? Does a necessary being exist? Here is the proof that it does. Dependent beings cannot cause themselves. They are dependent on their causes. If there is no independent being, then the whole chain of dependent beings is dependent on nothing and could not exist. But they do exist. Therefore there is an independent being. His line of argument leads one to see that, if anything exists at all, there must exist some thing for which non-existence is impossible.  This is called a necessary being, and in both the Contingency Argument and the Modal Ontological Argument, this being is called God.

So the possibility of not existing that I applied to the universe in my original post on the Cosmological Argument does not necessarily apply here for the reason that it only applies to contingent things.  More importantly, and more certainly, my quote that Brett used only applies to material things.  A computer has the possibility of not existing precisely because it can be smashed or burned or taken apart or recycled into soda cans.  All of these things destroy the computer not in the sense that its atoms go out of existence, but in the sense that its computer-ness is taken away, producing something which is not a computer.  The same thing goes for all material things, like trees, Democrats, and razorblades, etc…

Brett, I hope that answers your objection

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A Critique: “Same-Sex Relationships as Self-Centered: Deconstructing the Argument” by William Lindsey

This morning, I read an article by William Lindsey at The Open Tabernacle titled, “Same-Sex Relationships as Self-Centered: Deconstructing the Argument“.  While I found the conclusion and purpose of the argument(s) therein to be appealing (indeed, I more or less agree with his views on the moralityof homosexual relations), I could not help but notice two ways it could be better.

First of all, Lindsey interprets a quote by then Cardinal Ratzinger in a way which I found dubious.  By dubious, I mean scarcely supported elsewhere in the article, and “not what I would have said”.  Cardinal Ratzinger wrote:

This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent. – Cardinal Ratzinger

Now, Lindsey interprets this quote of Cardinal Ratzinger’s as saying that homosexual couples do not contribute to society, unlike heterosexual couples, which can produce offspring.  Therefore, homosexual relations can be said to be “selfish”.  To support his interpretation, Lindsey presents a quote from Archbishop Victor Sanchez Espinoza of Puebla, Mexico, who “used this rhetoric of gay self-indulgence to critique Mexico City’s new gay marriage law”:

…the union between persons of the same sex is only of interest to the couple and does not provide this fundamental contribution to society. – Archbishop Sanchez Espinoza

My concern is with whether the Archbishop intended this statement as a reference to “self-indulgence”, in the theological style of the Church, or to selfishness, as a more political appeal.  I might be tempted to see the two as essentially different, and this is a potential threat to Lindsey’s reasoning.  Lindsey makes the leap from homosexual inclinations to homosexual relations without considering the possibility that Cardinal Ratzinger could make an important distinction here.  The Cardinal describes homosexual inclinations as being essentially self-indulgent.  Yet, an inclination cannot be sensibly described as selfish! It may seem, then, that Cardinal Ratzinger is not saying that homosexual relations do not contribute to society (that is the business of politics, and not theology), but rather, that homosexual inclinations are self-indulgent; which is to say, that an inclination to engage in sexual activity with one’s own sex can be construed as a desire to engage in sexual acts with an image of one’s self.  That is what I might say the Cardinal means by a “self-indulgent” inclination.

Furthermore, Archbishop Espinoza’s reference to contribution to society (which is the primary referential basis for Lindsey’s premise that “self-indulgence” refers to selfishness, which is the penalty of being a couple incapable of reproducing) , in light of my potential interpretation of Ratzinger’s words as a reader, becomes much more political than theological.  If the Archbishop was speaking of theology, I might ask, why did he base his obection to gay marriage (a political issue) on his concern for “contributing to society” (a political concern)?

Mr. Lindsey, what I recommend for you to do in light of this potential objection is to shore up your defenses before you get blasted by an opponent who actually believes homosexuality is “disordered”.  As for me, I mean only to help you fortify it by offering you this critique.   What you need to do is not offer a justification for your interpretation of Ratzinger’s quote on a grammatical basis (such as mine), as this is no time for a scripture-style exegesis.  After all, Ratzinger is still alive!  Without a doubt, there exists somewhere on the internet an explanation of Ratzinger’s views on the nature of homosexual inclinations and what he means by “self-indulgence”.  Find it, and if it agrees with your interpretation, reproduce it alongside Espinoza’s quote.  That will render this counter-argument of yours irrefutable, as Ratzinger’s view really will be wrong.  If it does not agree with your interpretation, then you are confusing this argument for another.  Ratzinger would not be speaking to homosexuals not being able to reproduce or contribute to society in this case, but rather, he would be making a similar philosophical case to the one made by Catholics against masturbation. (Ex. Peter Kreeft) In that case, your article would not apply to the argument used by Ratzinger, but to a different argument made by Archbishop Espinoza to protest Mexican gay-marriage legislation.

The second point that I want to make is that your article focuses too much on material benefits that homosexual couples provide for society.  You mention the ability to adopt, take care of elderly parents, etc, and from this you conclude that homosexual couples are not worthless as Espinoza claims, but actually of incalculable value to creation.  This is not a very Catholic thing to say, because it only describes what homosexual unions are good for, as opposed to whether they are good in their own right.  That is, it defends only the extrinsic value of homosexual unions, as opposed to their intrinsic value.  That would be a much more important concept to discuss.

Indeed, this is what I recommend.  Your rebuttal of Espinoza’s argument should not take the form of your listing the material benefits of homosexual unions.  Instead, you should center your rebuttal of Espinoza around the idea that he is not considering the intrisic value of homosexual unions; only their extrinsic value.  After all, heterosexual unions between infertile individuals have exactly the same extrinsic value as homosexual unions, and it would be wise of you to ask why he does not condemn them alongside homosexual unions, as his argument that you quote applies just as easily to them!  You should mention that the real matter at stake is the intrinsic value of love in certain unions between heterosexuals, infertile people, and homosexuals; that is, how they are good in their own right, rather than merely good for.

I hope you do not take my critique as a mark of disagreement with your theology.  As I mentioned before, since I agree with you in saying that homosexuality is not necessarily sinful, we are in the same boat. Consequently, I am only looking after you, that’s all.

Under the Mercy,

-Payton Alexander

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Mary’s Immaculate Conception?

This is a letter I’ve written to Most Holy Family Monastery, a sede vacantist group who’s tracts on the popes and protestantism are really fascinating.  However, in reading their tract on Mary, I had to respond to it.  I hope to receive a reply from them- if I do, I will post it.

Dear Brothers,

My biggest stumbling block in accepting Roman Catholicism has always been Marian doctrine, but in light of your other tracts addressing Protestantism, I was very much looking forward to reading your tract on her.  However, it has left me with even bigger doubts than I had to begin with, particularly regarding her immaculate conception.

In the tract, you state “God saved Mary by preventing her from contracting original sin. Suppose that a man falls into a deep hole in the forest, but is pulled out by his friend. It is true to say that the friend saved the man. Now suppose a man sees a woman walking toward the deep hole, and catches her just before she falls in. He stops her from falling into the hole in the first place, so that she doesn’t get injured or dirty at all. Did he save the woman? Certainly he did. He saved her in a greater way, by preventing her from falling into the hole and suffering any of the harmful consequences.”  Now, when I first read this passage, I accepted it.  “Well, I guess that makes sense.”  But upon reflection, it really didn’t, because it completely cheapens Christ’s redemptive death!

It has been established from the Garden of Eden that “the wages of sin are death.”  God performed the first sin sacrifice when He clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins.  The entire Old Testament is based on the concept that People Cannot Save Themselves; even when God tells them what needs to be done, they forget, or don’t care, or don’t do it right, etc.  God does not preserve His prophets, or even David, whom He loved.  Each of them screws up, and then has to make an atonement for it.  There are entire books of the New Testament dedicated to explaining that without Christ dying for us, we die.  It is a scriptural fact that Sin has to be equaled out for with Death.

Therefore, how would Mary get out of sin if Jesus did not die for her?  Mary was born of Adam (Luke 3 is nearly always cited as Mary’s geneology; some say that it is Joseph’s actual geneological line, whereas Matt 1 is his legal line, but regardless, it is common sense that Mary (a human) was born of 2 other humans, who were descended from the first 2 humans.)  She would then be expected to be born under Adam’s curse like every one else.  Now, if you maintain that Jesus’ death reached back and retroactively saved her, then what was the point of all of those animal sacrifices?  Why didn’t God save all of His chosen people, rather than letting them get smote over and over ad nauseum for not keeping up on their sacrifices?  Under that logic, no one should have been born under original sin, if Jesus’ death was able to wipe it away before they were even concieved.  The thought of this makes me sick, because it changes God from selflessly giving Himself to resolve the metaphysical quandry that has prevented Him from being with His creations, to God randomly deciding that He was tired of dead goats, preserving one backwater Judean girl, knocking her up, trashing her and her fiancees reputations, then murdering their offspring (which is actually Him) for no good reason at all because He clearly could’ve saved anyone He wanted to at any time.  This basically validates all of those stupid “If God really was omnibenevolent and omnipotent no one would ever go to hell!” arguments, because it means that rather than original sin being an insurmountable gap between us and God, it becomes something that can be crossed at any time, with no action at all on the saved persons part, based entirely upon the whim of God.

What are we, Calvinists?

Sarah

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Privatio Boni: What is the Substance of Evil?

Below is a Facebook Chat conversation that I had today with Andrew.  It’s really very interesting, and should be worthwhile to read. 

7:16pmAndrewAndrew 

but are there other more successful arguments out there that reveal more about God’s intentions? I mean, all the arguments I know only give me good reason to believe in God, not to believe that he is all loving or merciful. How do I know he isn’t pure evil?

7:16pmAndrew

nevermind, for some reason I always get into a discussion about philsophy or politics when I talk to you lol

It is really strange

7:17pmPayton

haha, yeah

I don’t know about omnibenevolence

that’s a very tricky one to think about

as a matter of fact, I should stop using the owrd

word

you’re familiar with the Moral Arguments?

7:18pmAndrew

the axiological argument? yes

7:19pmPayton

exactly, I think they may be construed to support God being “all good” (questionable term…)

but only if we combine them with the concept of <i>privatio boni<i/>

italics FAIL

put it into wikipedia

privatio boni

It’s a short article that would take too long to explain

it’s one of the solutions to the problem of evil

7:20pmAndrew

cool, thx

7:21pmPayton

tell me when you’re done reading it, it’s really interesting

7:21pmAndrew

k

7:23pmAndrew

its an interesting way of looking at things

7:23pmPayton

yes it is

I would believe it

that evil is insubstantial

and is, like a shadow, dependent on the good

remember when you asked me about God conserving creation?

and whether this meant He was conserving evil?

7:24pmAndrew

yes

7:25pmPayton

Let’s look at it this way:

even if God had created the universe with evil in it, he would not have created evil

if I pour an amount of water into a glass, am I creating both water, and also emptiness?

7:25pmAndrew

of course not

7:26pmPayton

If I fill the glass halfway, I have obviosly not added half water, and half emptiness to acheive this

and if I conserve it thus, I am not conserving the emptiness, only the water

so God is not conserving evil

7:28pmPayton

indeed, when speaking of creation, the evil is precisely NOT created! lol

that would be its definition

7:31pmAndrew

what do mean by not creating evil?

do you mean evil does not exist?

7:32pmPayton

well, emptiness is the absence of the water. similarly, evil is the absence of good

“privatio boni”

7:34pmAndrew

then we can never truly call a person evil, only their individual actions. For I don’t think a person can be absent of good

7:35pmPayton

I was about to say, “yes, evil would be always extrinsic”. But is that true? Can there be no intrinsic evil?

like intrinsic value? (aka, good)

7:36pmAndrew

Well, if there is intrinisc good, it seems that there would have to be intrinsic evil. For how can we know what intrinsic good is if we have nothing to compare it to?

7:36pmPayton

for example, money has extrinsic value. it’s value lies outside of itself, becuase it is only paper

7:36pmAndrew

what is pure good without pure evil

7:37pmPayton

what does “pure” mean?

Fill the cup halfway with water. is the water only half pure?

surely not

is the emptiness only half pure?

7:38pmAndrew

so what coclusion can we make about intrinsic evil?

7:38pmPayton

well, I’m still thinking about it

I think the evil is not a thing in itself, certainly. But does this prevent it from having intrinsic value?

7:39pmAndrew

I mean, how can we know what is intrinsically good if we have no knowledge of its opposite: that which is intriniscally evil?

7:39pmPayton

the use of the word intrinsic is the key here

I would say “good in its own right”

rather than “good FOR …”

7:40pmAndrew

right, its goodness is not dependent upon anything but itself

7:40pmPayton

well I’m sure that’s saying a bit too much, but yeah, basically

7:41pmAndrew

but how can we make such a conclusion? Wouldn’t knowing what is good in itself presuppose that we have knowledge of what isn’t good in itself?

7:42pmPayton

yes, I think so

it would not presuppose it, mind you. it would IMPLY it

7:43pmAndrew

I am working on the terminology, give me a break lol

7:43pmPayton

haha, yeah

7:43pmAndrew

anyway, I think we can conclude there is intrinic evil if there is intrinsic good

7:43pmPayton

I think “things” would be analogous to the cups with water we discussed earlier

those things which are intrinsically good are cups with any amount of water, and those extrinsically good have the capability of containing water

an intrinsically evil thing would be the absence of a cup entirely

so an intrinsically evil thing is a non-thing

so I don’t think there is intrinsic evil

much less extrinsic evil

but then again, am empty cup cannot be extrinsically good

it is only extrinsically valuable, since it could go both ways. It has the capability of containing water, and also the capability of not existing, or breaking

7:48pmPayton

so let’s amend our analogy. Intrinsic evil is a broken cup, and there is no extrinsic good or evil, since extrinsicness can bring about either

so we say extrinsic “value”, being neutral

or an empty cup

which can break or be filled

but a full cup can also break!

so we might say that even that which is intrinsically good, has the capability of being emptied, or broken as is

7:49pmAndrew

so if God is intrinsically good, can be emptied?

7:50pmPayton
 

I wouldn’t say He is intrinsically good

I would say that He is the mark of what is good

that things are good insofar as they resemble Him

He is not a cup with water, He IS the water

7:51pmAndrew

but if the cup shatters, what happens to God?

7:51pmPayton

He is still there, I suppose

the cup is breakable, but for the purposes of our analogy, I don’t think we should think the same of the water

for when the cup breaks, the water does not also break. It is merely spilled, and cannot really be lost

7:53pmAndrew

unless it lands in a black hole…

7:54pmPayton

LOL

7:54pmAndrew

lmao

7:55pmPayton

yeah, but this was a cool discussion

you know, I think I’ll post it on High-School Apologetics, if you don’t mind, lol

7:56pmAndrew

no problem

If you ever update it lol

 

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Sarah’s Confusing Post

Sarah recently responded to a question posted by a man named Brett on the Cosmological Argument.

“God, or the “eternal cause”, is eternal in time, and infinite in space. Thus He (or it) is infinitely larger than the universe, but is unchanged by the passing of time.” : Sarah

confused-full1I really don’t understand what it is she is trying to say here, and I just wanted to post this in order to distance myself from the inevitable fallout from Sarah’s post. I think it’s extremely confusing and deceptive, and takes up far too much space making unnecessary points, and even more making incorrect ones.

The beginning is good, though. I more or less agree that therein lies the answer to Brett’s question. I would normally take the time to personally dismantle any objections or answer questions, since I’m easily more philosophically capable than Sarah, (though she has me beat in some areas.)

To reconnect with the beginning of my post, I just want to point out what I thought was the most retarded thing Sarah said, which is quoted at the top of this page. Barring consideration of the corporeal Christ, God has no size. He does not occupy space, so I have no idea what Sarah means. Moreover, Sarah does not seem to understand that actual infinites such as she has described cannot exist. You cannot have one physical object which is infinitely larger than another physical object. That simply cannot be. (I will post on this topic later)

The distinction to be made is between actual infinites, potential infinites, and eternity. An actual infinite is a thing which is physically infinite as a measure, not as a property. An abyss would be a good example. Another good example would be a beginningless universe, or a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. A potential infinite can be characterized as something indefinite or potentially infinite. An example would be an endless universe. A universe which goes on forever does not happen all at once as one big infinitely long timeline with two ends. It would have one end (the beginning) and at no given point in it’s history could someone look back and say, “The universe is infinitely old”. No matter how far you go along the line, there is always a finite traversed-distance behind you.

I will post more later.

-Payton

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Refutation: Brett’s Objection to the Cosmological Argument

I’d like to give a big shout out Brett for posting an objection to the Cosmologial Argument.  We love getting responses!  I’m going to take the first crack at answering it- though I’m sure Payton will come along and yell at everyone since the Cosmological Argument is his baby.

Brett writes,

“If the universe never had a cause for its existence, if it never began to exist, but it exists now, then it is infinite. Given infinite time, every possibility is allowed to be actualized, including the possibility for everything to cease to exist. ”

Please explain how that same argument doesn’t apply to the “eternal cause” of the universe.”

The concern he raises rises from the misuse of “eternal” and “infinite”. They are not synonyms. Something that is eternal IS forever- it cannot change. If I am eternally turning on a lightbulb, then I can never turn it off- time is not even a relevant concept in eternity. It is forever in the present tense- it wasn’t, and it won’t be- eternity is.

Meanwhile, infinity is an inconceivably large measure, in this case applied to time. I think that infinite may not have been the best word choice, but it is the word used here, and in all other versions of this argument, so I’ll do my best to explain the difference. Infinity describes a material object or effect. Since infinite time is just an endless amount of time, the effects of time can take place on an object. It is entirely possible for all the atoms of a planet to simultaneously repel each other, or for two comets to collide and form a Bengal tiger, since there are infinite chances for these things to occur. It is also possible for all of the particles in the universe to explode.

God, or the “eternal cause”, is eternal in time, and infinite in space. Thus He (or it) is infinitely larger than the universe, but is unchanged by the passing of time.

Now, how do we know that the universe isn’t eternal? It began- something that is eternal just is , with no beginning. And I am not being a whacktacular fundie for asserting the universe had a beginning; virtually all modern science confirms the universe began to exist.
“It’s also common knowledge that the universe isn’t eternal but had a beginning ten to twenty billion years ago, and that it is expanding.” (Kitty Ferguson, The Fire in the Equations, 1994, p. 89)
“Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (Dr. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 1978, p. 111) (Note: Despite his book’s title, Dr. Jastrow is an evolutionary astronomer, an agnostic, and at best a deist)
“It was apparent that matter could not be eternal, because, as everyone knows, eternal things do not run down.” (Dr. Bert Johnson, So Long Eternal Universe; Hello Beginning, Hello End!, 2001)

Therefore, since the universe is demonstratabely not eternal, even if it is infinite, arguments that apply to it cannot apply to an eternal being or cause.

Sincerely,
Sarah

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OPINION PIECE: Baptism

Hi ya’ll- this site’s been a bit dead for a while, and so while I’m piecing together the final draft of an essay on the biblical basis for logical reasoning, I thought I’d post this school paper as a hold over.  Please note this is strictly my opinion, and my interpretation of scripture.

            Baptism is the most important sacrament in the Christian faith.  It is the only one common to all denominations, and is consistently affirmed by scripture as necessary (if not sufficient) for salvation.  However, it is most frequently performed by sprinkling holy water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Why is this incorrect and why does this matter?

 

            In Acts 2:38, Peter commands all the converts to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This command is repeated again in Acts 10:48, making reference to “the name of the LORD.”  Name singular, LORD singular.  Many tri-baptists use Matthew 28:19 where Jesus commands them to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  This was not a command to use a formula, but to use a name.  And what is that name?  Jesus, coming from the Hebrew name “Yeshua”, meaning “Salvation.”  It’s common sense- you can’t be saved without salvation!

 

            Why is full water immersion important?  Well, just like every other Christian sacraments, it’s a metaphor.  It is symbolic of Jesus’ death and resurrection; Christian act it out to symbolize their own death, burial, and resurrection through Christ.  Romans 6:4, in laying out the plan of salvation, it is written “Therefore we are buried with Him by Baptism.”  A corpse is not buried by sprinkling dirt on top of it.  By changing this, the symbolism of the baptism is effectively destroyed.

 

            Baptism is a Christian’s first commitment to the Christian faith.  By stripping baptism of it’s meaning, the newly created Christians lack a foundation to build on.  Without the solid rock of Christ to build on, their faith is left on shifting sand and the slow slide to relativism is inevitable.  

            Baptism is the most important sacrament in the Christian faith.  It is the only one common to all denominations, and is consistently affirmed by scripture as necessary (if not sufficient) for salvation.  However, it is most frequently performed by sprinkling holy water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Why is this incorrect and why does this matter?

 

            In Acts 2:38, Peter commands all the converts to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This command is repeated again in Acts 10:48, making reference to “the name of the LORD.”  Name singular, LORD singular.  Many tri-baptists use Matthew 28:19 where Jesus commands them to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  This was not a command to use a formula, but to use a name.  And what is that name?  Jesus, coming from the Hebrew name “Yeshua”, meaning “Salvation.”  It’s common sense- you can’t be saved without salvation!

 

            Why is full water immersion important?  Well, just like every other Christian sacraments, it’s a metaphor.  It is symbolic of Jesus’ death and resurrection; Christian act it out to symbolize their own death, burial, and resurrection through Christ.  Romans 6:4, in laying out the plan of salvation, it is written “Therefore we are buried with Him by Baptism.”  A corpse is not buried by sprinkling dirt on top of it.  By changing this, the symbolism of the baptism is effectively destroyed.

 

            Baptism is a Christian’s first commitment to the Christian faith.  By stripping baptism of it’s meaning, the newly created Christians lack a foundation to build on.  Without the solid rock of Christ to build on, their faith is left on shifting sand and the slow slide to relativism is inevitable. 

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Kalam Cosmology and Agent-Causation

By far, one of the commonest sort of objections to the Cosmological Argument I see, is that the cause of the universe need not be God.  This is a big intellectual problem for some people.  As for me, I have a handful of arguments that tend to suggest that the famous “first-cause” simply has to be God.

You see, this sort of problem only comes about when we refuse to expand the Kalam Cosmological Argument and leave it hanging peculiarly at “Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence”.   That’s a really vague sort of conclusion for an amazing argument which claims to demonstrate the existence of God, don’t you think?  Actually, that is the precise reason why I and many others abhor the thought of presenting the Kalam Cosmological Argument alone without any extrapolation or expansion.  William Lane Craig does exactly what I do with it, and expands it.  Unlike me, however, Dr Craig does not include his expansion in with the argument proper.  I add on a massive string of minor premises and subconclusions in order to arrive at a familiar sort of conclusion which more or less reads “Therefore, something exists which is so suspiciously similar to the Christian God as to make non-theism implausible.”

Here is the Expanded Cosmological Argument:

“1 Everything which begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.

1.2 The universe began to exist

1.3 Therefore the universe had a cause for its existence

2 The universe is primarily the expansion of time, space and matter

2.1 Therefore time, space and matter were caused.

3  An effect may be no greater than its proper cause

3.1  A thing may not cause itself to exist

3.2 Therefore the cause of the universe is eternal and immaterial.

4  If the cause of the universe was non-temporal, and the effect was temporal, then the cause of the universe was a free-agent.

4.1 The cause of the universe was non-temporal, and the effect was temporal.

4.2 Therefore the cause of the universe was a free-agent.

5 The difference between nonbeing “in reality” and being “in reality”, is an infinite difference

5.1 The difference between nonbeing “in the mind” and being “in the mind” is an infinite difference

5.2 The free-agent in question created something from nothing, and it follows that it conceived something from nothing

5.3 To create something from nothing is an infinite power, and to conceive something from nothing is an infinite act of conception or knowledge.

5.4 Therefore the cause of the universe is an eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent mind, which can properly be called God.”

Now, I’m no fool.  I knew that premises 4, 4.1, and 4.2 are absolutely crucial to the argument as they make the leap from a rather unknown cause to an agent-cause.  Indeed, they require a good bit of explanation on my part.  It is, however, my policy to not include any explanations or answers to objections to posts within the posts themselves.  I instead wait for people to object, and then answer their objections.  It saves me a lot of work.  It has recently come to my attention, through communications with a certain member of William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith Team, that the aforementioned permises may not be valid.  Very well then, I shall have to explain them.

First, imagine a glass of frozen water.  The cause of the water’s freezing can be said to be subzero temperatures, an entirely non-personal cause.  Important: Causally prior to the universe, there was no time.   If the subzero temperatures were in existence from eternity, or “atemporally”, then the frozen state of the water would have always been there.  Without time, the effect would have to coexist with the cause.  Where the temperature is below zero, the water is frozen.  When there is no freedom or choice involved, and also no time, but only objects and laws or sufficient conditions which act upon them or not, the cause exists in the same atemporal state as the effect. 

But that’s not how it is, is it?  We know for a fact that causally prior to the universe, there was an atemporal cause for the universe, and yet the universe does not exist in the same state of timeless-ness!  Here we have an instance of an atemporal cause giving rise to a temporal effect.  There are two types of causes for things: causes which are people, and causes which aren’t people.  An atemporal impersonal cause would have to coexist with its effect atemporally, yet we know that the atemporal cause of the universe does not coexist with its effect (the universe) atemporally.  Therefore, the atemporal cause in question could not be of the sort which aren’t people.  Therefore, the cause of the universe was a person.

 However there is a second way to formulate (4):  there are only two sorts of things which can exist immaterially and non-spatially:  abstract objects and minds.  An abstract object (as opposed to a concrete object) are things like numbers, natural laws, and facts.  They aren’t made of anything, and they can only reside in a mind, otherwise they don’t exist.  They are not like concrete objects, which are like stones, chemicals, and physical things.  Unlike concrete objects, which are capable of existing in causal relations, abstract objects are causally effete.  They cannot cause anything.

Minds, like abstract objects, exist immaterially and non-spatially.  They aren’t made of “stuff”, and they don’t really have a specific location.  Before I get blasted for making assumptions, I’m going to admit that I am indeed aware of the fact that I am operating under the assumption of dualism, the notion that one part of a person is their body, and the other part their mind or soul or what have you.  I will defend that position later, but not here.  For now, I will not defend, but rather accept for the sake of argument the notion that the mind is immaterial.  Now, even though the mind is immaterial, it is capable of existing in causal relations. 

Since the thing which was the cause of the universe was immaterial, it must have been either a mind or an abstract object, but since (being a cause) it was obviously capable of existing in causal relations (and by obviously, I mean most obviously…) it had to be a mind and not an abstract object.

The rest of my Expanded Kalam Cosmological Argument follows very convincingly and logically once the key premise that creation was an instance of agent-causation is accepted.  The above two arguments acheive the goal of demonstrating the validity of said premise, thus leading directly and clearly to the inevitable conclusion that the cause of the universe was an immaterial, eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent mind, which can be properly called God.

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Refutation: “Logical Analysis of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God”

the_press_thinks_youre_an_idiotI HAVE FOUND AN obviously illogical analysis of the Cosmological Argument on someone else’s blog, and surprisingly, it is well organized, grammatically correct, and the author has excellent command of literary conventions.  This is good.  Usually, when e-atheists attempt to dissect a theistic argument, they won’t be nearly so clean and neat about it.  Of course, many are, but this is the first I’ve seen on a blog.  Unfortunately, he got the argument wrong, so it’s no wonder he was able to refute it.  I’ll commend him in this regard.  He was able to refute a faulty and illogical version of the Cosmological Argument.  NOTE TO INTERNET ATHEISTS:  I’m not trying to be condescending, but if you find yourself able to refute a famous theistic argument that’s been around for millenia, invented and propagated by Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates, and expounded by philosophers of every culture regardless of religion, chances are you misunderstood or misrepresented the argument.  Yes, it will likely be possible for you to refute recent arguments concocted by wannabe-apologists, but when you claim to have refuted a 2,000 year old argument of classical philosophy, you ought to be careful.  Ask yourself: Am I reallyso much smarter than every other philosopher of the last couple centuries that I alone have found the problem with “x” argument?  Why has no-one else in the last 2,000 years seen this contradiction/problem/fallacy?  If I don’t have an answer to the last questions, why is it that people much smarter than me have confidently presented “x” argument over the years as if nothing were the matter?  These questions make one thing obvious to the honest atheist, either he is a very great snob, or  a very great fool, or the Christian philosophers are all very wicked liars.

 The only reason I call his article obviously illogical is because he sets out to analyze the Cosmological Argument, but actually analyzes an illogical convolution of it that he got from the the GeoChristian Blog.  I shall have to email the GeoChristian himself and inform him of what he has done (inadvertently so, I’m certain, as he seems respectable enough).  However, our little e-atheist here has done what a philosopher would call a “misrepresentation” of an argument.  He claimed to refute one thing, which he calls the Cosmological Argument (mistakenly so), but actually refuted another thing (not the “real” cosmological argument)

http://pseudoastro.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/logical-analysis-of-the-cosmological-argument-for-the-existence-of-god/

To begin, however, I must state as a matter of simple fact, that I have done a better job explaining the Cosmological Argument than has the GeoChristian.  I mean no insult to him.  Perhaps he did not orient his article to adorable little e-atheists with telescopes, I don’t know.

At the start, he misrepresents the major-premise of the argument as “Everything needs a cause”.  This is patently absurd, and he tarnishes his own image by proposing to analyze a Cosmological Argument and then throwing forth this madness.  Any idiot can see that this premise lends itself necessarily to an infinite regression of causes, which is plainly illogical.  (If you happen to not be familiar with deep, mysterious, and complicated philosophical terms like “illogical”, because you just so happen to be a silly little e-infidel who plays around with telescopes but tries to talk like he’s played around with Voltaire, you should read my post on the Argument)Actually, the major premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is, “Everything which begins to exist must have a cause”.  Not only is this assertion intuitively plausible, but it is also reinforced by every last scientific observation of any event in the history or future of the universe.  And that’s not an exaggeration.  I mean literally everything we have seen begin to exist has had cause for its existence. Chairs, tables, stars, cells, animals, anything that begins to exist, you name it, it has a cause (for the above: craftsmen or factories, nebulae, mitosis or meiosis, and reproduction, in that order).

Secondly, he says this.  Mind you, he’s not a philosopher, but an astronomer.

“From a philosophical argument, there really doesn’t need to be an explanation for why something exists.”

Actually, there does.  It’s called the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and it is the foundation of the scientific method.  Note how astronomy is also a science! 

Does he want me to prove the principle of sufficient reason?  I’m not exactly sure if I can.   Go out and look at things though.  Black holes, cheap labor, trees, Bill Clinton, antidisestablishmentarianism, you name it.  You will be able to find a reason for their existence if you look for it.  That’s a strong deductive argument, if I’m not mistaken (I’m not mistaken, mind you) Especially if everything one goes out to find turns out to have sufficient reason for its existence, and one is rendered incapable of finding anything which exists just ’cause. (This is exactly what will happen if you go out looking for pointless objects which haven’t even the slightest reason for existing, so don’t bother)

Now, dearest Mr Cosmo-Doubt says there doesn’t need to be an  for why something exists.  Tell me, when he looks through his telescope and sees an image of the Tau-Ceti system through the lens, what does he think?  If there really doesn’t have to be a reason for something to exist, any attempt on his part to conclude that the cause of the image in his telescope is the actual Tau Ceti system is entirely without warrant.  After all, his glimpse of the system doesn’t mean the system actually exists!  It could exist for no reason at all, according to Uglyface McPoopnose! (I ran out of clever names)

Everything which exists has sufficient reason for its existence in and of itself (which is to say, in its nature), or not in and of itself (which is to say, something else).  In other words, when you have something which exists, it either exists because it is in its nature to exist, or because something else made it exist.

He goes on to say, later on in his article, that something could exist “just ’cause”.  Indeed, I would agree, in a sense.   But not really.  I agree with his statement, but not what he means by it. He really hasn’t a clue what that sentence means.  A thing may exist because it is in its nature to be existing.  What this means is that it is impossible for it notto exist.  It exists in every possible world.  But you can plainly see that he does not mean this.  But that is the only option he’s got!  Aside from saying a thing which exists has an external cause for existing (Arrrgh! This be what he’s trying to avoid, lad!) he can only say the above.  There is no other option.

Besides, if things don’t need to have a cause to just mosey on into existence, what’s to stop a giant tiger from “beginning to exist” right in front of my face at this precise instant?  God knows it can’t be needing a cause!  Otherwise we’d be theists!

Or, God forbid, what’s there to stop God from existing right in front of me at this precise instant, hm? If our astro-skeptic maintains that there does not have to be an explanation for something’s existence, I can simply claim that God happens to exist right here in my room, and if he asks me to prove it (explain His existence) I’ll just say He exists just ’cause, so I don’t need to justify my belief, and be done with it! 

So, our little atheo-naut has two choices: thing’s need explanantions, or they don’t.  Either way, I can be right.

I’ll stop there, if you don’t mind.  I don’t need to do a point by point refutation of his entire article, sentence by sentence.  I undermined his major-premise and thus blew his whole essay out of the water.  I’ll sum it up. 

1.) He got the Cosmological argument wrong, that’s not what it actually says.

2.) He was wrong about causation, and he really believes in premise 2 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument deep down.  It’s fundamental to his field. 

3.) His assertion that things don’t require suffiecient reason for their existence is contradicted by mainstream science and metaphysics, and its everyday application leads to obvious absurdities.

4.) If he agrees with the principle of sufficient reason, God’s existence follows logically through the Kalam Argument, and if he disagrees with the principle, un-justified belief in God is warranted to the believer.

So he’s wrong four main ways at least…lovely.

-Payton

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