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?



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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. 


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?


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

It is really strange


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


you’re familiar with the Moral Arguments?


the axiological argument? yes


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


cool, thx


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




its an interesting way of looking at things


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?




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?


of course not


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


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

that would be its definition


what do mean by not creating evil?

do you mean evil does not exist?


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

“privatio boni”


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


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)


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?


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


what is pure good without pure evil


what does “pure” mean?

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

surely not

is the emptiness only half pure?


so what coclusion can we make about intrinsic evil?


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?


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


the use of the word intrinsic is the key here

I would say “good in its own right”

rather than “good FOR …”


right, its goodness is not dependent upon anything but itself


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


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?


yes, I think so

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


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


haha, yeah


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


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


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


so if God is intrinsically good, can be emptied?


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


but if the cup shatters, what happens to God?


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


unless it lands in a black hole…






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


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.


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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.


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