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Summary Against Modern Thought: You Need God To See God

Previous post.

You can’t do everything on your own: be sure to first review last week for an understanding of what that means.

THAT NO CREATED SUBSTANCE CAN, BY ITS OWN NATURAL POWER, ATTAIN THE VISION OF GOD IN HIS ESSENCE

1 However, it is not possible for any created substance, by its own power, to be able to attain this manner of divine vision.

2 Indeed, a lower nature cannot acquire that which is proper to a higher nature except through the action of the higher nature to which the property belongs. For instance, water cannot be hot except through the action of fire. Now, to see God through His divine essence is proper to the divine nature, for it is the special prerogative of any agent to perform its operation through its own form. So, no intellectual substance can see God through His divine essence unless God is the agent of this operation.

Notes Hence, “if you seek Him you have already found him.”

3 Again, the form proper to any being does not come to be in another being unless the first being is the agent of this event, for an agent makes something like itself by communicating its form to another thing. Now, it is impossible to see the substance of God unless the divine essence itself is the form whereby the intellect understands, as we have proved. Therefore, it is not possible for a created substance to attain this vision, except through divine action.

4 Besides, if any two factors are to be mutually united, so that one of them is formal and the other material, their union must be completed through action coming from the side of the formal factor, and not through the action of the one that is material. In fact, form is the principle of action, while matter is the principle of passion. For the created intellect to see God’s substance, then, the divine essence itself must be joined as an intelligible form to the intellect, as we have proved. Therefore, it is not possible for the attainment of this vision to be accomplished by a created intellect except through divine action.

Notes This ties to what we have been saying about the highest forms of knowledge, i.e. that which comes directly from God, as insight or (sometimes) intuition. I.e. induction, of a sort.

5 Furthermore, “that which is of itself is the cause of that which is through another being.” But the divine intellect sees the divine substance through itself, for the divine intellect is the divine essence itself whereby the substance of God is seen, as was proved in Book One [45]. However, the created intellect sees the divine substance through the essence of God, as through something other than itself. Therefore, this vision cannot come to the created intellect except through God’s action.

6 Moreover, whatever exceeds the limitations of a nature cannot accrue to it except through the action of another being. For instance, water does not tend upward unless it is moved by something else. Now, seeing God’s substance transcends the limitations of every created nature; indeed, it is proper for each created intellectual nature to understand according to the manner of its own substance. But divine substance cannot be understood in this way, as we showed above. Therefore, the attainment by a created intellect to the vision of divine substance is not possible except through the action of God, Who transcends all creatures.

7 Thus, it is said: “The grace of God is life everlasting” (Rom. 6:23). In fact, we have shown that man’s happiness, which is called life everlasting, consists in this divine vision, and we are said to attain it by God’s grace alone, because such a vision exceeds all the capacity of a creature and it is not possible to reach it without divine assistance. Now, when such things happen to a creature, they are attributed to God’s grace. And the Lord says: “I will manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

27 thoughts on “Summary Against Modern Thought: You Need God To See God Leave a comment

  1. Yair but.
    Let’s not allow all this high-falutin’ discourse distract us from the fact that “the existence of God can be known with certainty by the light of natural reason alone” as is the consistent traditional knowledge of the Faithful, explained by Ole Tom himself, and defined by Church authority as “de fide” doctrine.

    However, just because we can know for certain THAT God does/MUST exist it does not follow that we automatically know WHAT He is.

    Many, many degraded people and cultures conjure gods to their own image and fancy. It’s only God’s own knowledge of Himself, the Logos, that can explain the nature and purpose of Creation in general and Man in particular.

  2. “Many, many degraded people and cultures conjure gods to their own image and fancy.”

    It’s easy to think so, contemplating the pantheon of supernatural beings arrayed around any Catholic church in Paris, Rome, or New York, all in human form, and most bearing the ethnic appearance of the Europeans who made them. But then take in the edifice in which you are standing, a cathedral that represents the pinnacle of inspired architectural creation. I can’t bring myself to call the culture that created these masterpieces “degraded”, despite the barbaric cruelty that came with the program.

  3. If you are speaking of the saints, they were actual human beings, so it makes sense to depict them so. Some of them have African features because they were African: St. Benedict the Moor and Sr. Martin de Porres, for example.

  4. Well said, YOS. Of course, there are many, many more African, Asian, Indian, Polynesian, etc. saintly types who are rightly revered by their cultural/countrymen and all others that know of them and their heroism.

    Just as, I suppose, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Min, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mandala, and a host of others that I can’t be bothered to recall just now, are celebrated by all the ideological disciples of Marx and Darwin.

  5. @ Oldavid,

    “Many, many degraded people and cultures conjure gods to their own image and fancy.”

    Yes, silly thunder gods, tree spirits and other primitive stuff. Quite unlike Christianity, which you can tell is true because of obviously believable and 100% not-made-up stuff like talking snakes, burning bushes, and people walking on water.

    “ideological disciples of Marx and Darwin”

    Evolution isn’t an ideology.

  6. @ noisyfish
    “Evolution isn’t an ideology.”

    All right then. “Evolution” is an anti-science, anti-reason, superstition.

  7. Oldavid,

    I’m not getting into another off-topic argument about evolution, but I’ll just say that claiming in 2018 that evolution is superstition is as laughable as claiming that the Earth is flat (as the Bible does).

  8. …claiming that the Earth is flat (as the Bible does).

    “The Bible” makes no such claim. Certain texts tracing back to ancient Sumeria were naturally written from a POV of a flat plain, putting things in terms that related to folks’ common perceptions. The Greeks had not yet invented geometry and the resultant proofs of sphericity. Accounts written today would no doubt assume the Big Bang or biological evolution in their choice of words (as well as “sunrise” and “sunset,” the “ends of the Earth,” the “four corners of he earth,” and other phrasings that future trombones will take as evidence that Late Moderns claimed the world is flat.) But AFAIK Judaism never taught geo-flatness, nor Christianity after them. It was only with the Modern advent of naive literalism among fundamentalists and atheists that anyone ever brought it up.

  9. On the flat Earth belief, like many beliefs that are proved wrong by science through the years, the bible must be reinterpreted. John Lennox speaks about this. Humility in faith is important.
    Shame that Christianity often doesn’t look like that, rather more like a political movement. Which it isn’t. It just shares some of the views, many, from the right. Easy to see why it is a temptation for some phonier people to pretend to have the power of God behind them.
    They will be judged.
    The true non believer will be forgiven.

  10. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “The Bible makes no such claim.”

    You say this, but promptly refute yourself:

    “Certain texts tracing back to ancient Sumeria were naturally written from a POV of a flat plain, putting things in terms that related to folks’ common perceptions.”

    So, it does say the Earth is flat.

    “It was only with the Modern advent of naive literalism among fundamentalists and atheists that anyone ever brought it up.”

    The Bible looks bad (slavery) = not meant to be taken literally, even if a common belief at the time it was written.

    The Bible looks good (resurrection) = meant to be taken literally, even if impossible.

  11. No, Joy, The Bible doesn’t need to be reinterpreted; it needs to be appropriately interpreted. It wasn’t a science text book, it is something that everyone in every age and culture (except organised idiots pretending they are smarter than God) can relate to according to what they can readily see but that does not really contradict the observations allowed by cumulative technology.

    It’s nothing to do with Flat Earth twaddle which is an invention of the likes of Noisyfish. Even though the Earth may appear flatish to a farmer or sailor it was never any kind of dogma. In fact, some clever Greek (name I forget) is recorded as having calculated the radius of “spherical” Earth way BC (again, I forget the date) by looking at the path of sunlight down deep wells separated East/ West mainly. Even more astonishing is that his calculated size/radius of the Earth was within experimental error and pretty darn close to what our best modern technology can determine.

    Anyhow, God-haters make gratuitous accusations left, right and center because they know that a sustained barrage of nonsense allegations will wear down an ordinary man.

  12. “Certain texts tracing back to ancient Sumeria were naturally written from a POV of a flat plain, putting things in terms that related to folks’ common perceptions.”

    So, it does say the Earth is flat.

    Only to a fundamentalist like yourself. That an author took it for granted in writing his poetry because it was “the settled consensus science” in that time and place means nothing. You must have been hell on wheels in poetry class. Remember Babbage’s letter to Tennyson! As I said, if those passages were written today, they would use modern tropes and idioms, and in a few thousand years people would chuckle over their naivete.

    The Bible looks bad (slavery) = not meant to be taken literally, even if a common belief at the time it was written.

    Pretty much all ancient literature would “look bad” under that charge. Where does it say that chattel slavery is required, as Early Moderns once claimed, let alone the kind of condition translated as “slavery” into English. Do you recall the types of slavery described by Aristotle? So what did the “bible” say about slavery, aside from ordinary background in the milieu it was describing.

    The Bible looks good (resurrection) = meant to be taken literally, even if impossible.

    How does that “look good” rather than “look impossible”?

  13. I only honoured your first paragraph:
    Matthew 12: 32
    “whosoever shall speak a word against the son of man,
    It shall be forgiven him.”

    God will forgive your honest errors. As he will forgive the honest non believer.
    God knows the innermost working of your heart. Yours being the same as everybody else’s.
    What Swordfish said about the flat Earth and general knowledge is essentially true.

    As to lessons on bible interpretation, this is not something I need help from by a man who thinks that the bible may only beinterpreted by a Catholic. This is contrary to truth, small t and big one.
    These are things which I have known since I first had lessons in such things at about fifteen. Although you might think this is all news, it really is old news. Sometimes, a staggering and preposterous presumption from seeingly intellectual types can lead one to have to go and check the known and the obvious. Only to find that some people tell lies, if it is expedient to do so.

  14. Durn tootin it’s old news. Augustine lived 354-430, around 1600 years ago. This was long before any of the 16th century hoo-hah. Perhaps obsessions with matters “Catholic” would benefit by giving thought to the Coptic and Orthodox churches, who have been guardians of the Holy Traditions since who flung the chuck. Perusal of Basil, Macrina, John, Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin, Irenaeus, Clement, et al. would prove instructive. The most thorough early discussion of reading the Scriptures is Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine. https://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/augustine/ddc.html

  15. YOS,
    YEP! I was responding to the man who spoke to me, not you.
    OLD NEWS BUT GOOD NEWS!
    Strange how it’s so interesting, the study of another. I find it interesting too!
    Isn’t it strange how Catholics seem to think they’re wrong when they’re right?
    There were certainly people who interpreted the bible in a way that confirmed the ignorant view that the Earth is flat. It certainly isn’t a big deal. The bible not being a book of science, nor written in plain prose being obviously a text which requires a deal of skill in interpreting.
    It’s all Bertha’s fault…

  16. on chucks, chunks and soup.
    So the bible isn’t inerrant. Man had a hand in writing it! Then, a part in interpreting it.

    Some are better than others at interpretation. Some don’t even try! Some are comparing it to their own information, finding it doesn’t conflict with the mainstream.

    Seemingly some do enjoy the false notion that telling a metaphor from a literal sentence is difficult. That is trickery.

    Who wasn’t a person, He was a helm!
    Knew someone Who made one on the basis of it. Probably ‘seen’ the real one, but I glaze over. Maybe at the Wallace collection in London, or Leeds armoury, or ……
    Another Who called himself Redwald, had no sense of humour at being called Rad weld.

    Just so much squabbling in steel and a load of whacking.
    In reality, in those days, far more blows would have been avoided. Not like with virtual reality.

    I now understand why the AAF were always so involved. Right wing, Christian, green eye!
    Still hoping to win old battles long since decided.
    The English ones, Right wing, a mixture of faiths. (well probably only me who believed in God.)

    I was just there to make soup and look pretty, don’t blame me. Did use potato (ILLEGAL but I didn’t know), as a thickener, in the leek soup though, fiddled about with it for a long time, frozen, unfrozen, let’s just say I didn’t fancy it once it was finished. It was a big hit! Alas no recipe anyone would want to copy!

    Blessed are the soup makers. No carrots, they spoil the colour.
    (they didn’t use num chucks).

  17. @ Ye Olde Statistician,

    “You must have been hell on wheels in poetry class.”

    Not so, I love poetry: “The boy stood on the burning deck, his pocket full of crackers. One fell down his trouser leg and blew off both his knees.”

    There’s a serious point here. Why would an all-powerful God choose easy-to-misinterpret poetic language to convey his extremely important, life-or-death message? Why would he choose to convey his message in a way which is totally of its time? Why would he choose to convey his message in a book anyway? If you think the clarity of his message doesn’t matter, just look how many millions of Americans have adopted Young Earth Creationist beliefs, and look how may different interpretations of Christianity there are.

    “Pretty much all ancient literature would “look bad” under that charge.”

    Again, this is supposed to be the perfect Word of God, not just any ancient literature.

    “Where does it say that chattel slavery is required”

    It condones it. That’s enough to establish that this particular ancient literature doesn’t hold any moral high ground. If it was the Word of God, it wouldn’t lay out rules for slavery, it would absolutely say: THIS ISN’T ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR!!!

    “How does that [resurrection] “look good” rather than “look impossible”?”

    I was under the impression it was supposed to be a good thing. In any case, you know perfectly well what I mean – maybe the ‘good bits’ in the Bible were meant poetically as well as the millions of bad bits.

  18. “There’s a serious point here. Why would an all-powerful God choose easy-to-misinterpret poetic language to convey his extremely important, life-or-death message?”

    Swordfish, your question is a proper one which is something that fundamentalists cannot answer for you.
    It does depend on which bible verse you ‘prefer’ as to who you believe is saved.
    I believe this one, and for good reason, though not linked with any written word. However, when I discovered this verse, it spoke to me. If the bible doesn’t do that, it isn’t the end of the story.
    Nor should dogmatic certain people pretend that it is. It just makes them angry.

    “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all humanity, specially of those who believe.”
    1 Timothy 4:10
    You are closer to the truth than others might think.

  19. Why would an all-powerful God choose easy-to-misinterpret poetic language to convey his extremely important, life-or-death message?

    Do you suffer the fundamentalist confusion that God personally materialized and sat at a scribe’s table and scribbled these books. Not even the muslims hold that God personally wrote Qur’an. (The Prophet wrote it, taking dictation from the messenger Gabriel.) Although they do take it far more literally than the Jews ever did, let alone the Christians. Augustine wrote:

    In all the sacred books, we should consider the eternal truths that are taught, the facts that are narrated, the future events that are predicted, and the precepts or counsels that are given. In the case of a narrative of events, the question arises as to whether everything must be taken according to the figurative sense only, or whether it must be expounded and defended also as a faithful record of what happened. No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be taken in a figurative sense. For St. Paul says: “Now all these things that happened to them were symbolic.” …
    If, then, Scripture is to be explained under both aspects, what meaning other than the allegorical have the words….
    Augustine of Hippo, On the literal meanings of Genesis I:1-2

    Note that allegorical and figurative readings were the default. Naive-literal readings were a maybe.
    So, why would an all-powerful God choose a mode of expression common in the ancient world, rather than one easier for trombones to grasp? Even as the very languages themselves, with their idioms and expressions became obsolete, the Talmudic rabbis and the Church maintained the fundamental meanings.
    ###
    Why would he choose to convey his message in a way which is totally of its time?

    Who would he have inspired to write it? Writers out of their time? Who would have understood it?

    Why would he choose to convey his message in a book anyway?

    It was the writers who chose to write on scrolls (not “books”) rather than on mud bricks. Beside:

    They [gentiles] show that the demands of the Law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.
    — Paul of Tarsus, Romans 2: 15-16

    Everything in those days was expressed in poetic language. Empedocles wrote what Sagan called the first science text using poetic forms. It was a long time before secular literature began using prose for anything.

    look how many millions of Americans have adopted Young Earth Creationist beliefs

    In ancient times, no one had any facts to indicate anything older, though Augustine insisted the 7-day thingie was not literal: Creation by its nature was instantaneous. Later, with the rise of science, people like Newton started looking at the ages of patriarchs in Genesis as something other than figurative, and began treating them as if they were scientific “data.” YEC as it is practiced today is an artifact of the scientific revolution, just as the Second Great Awakening in the American backwoods was contemporaneous with the rise of science as a profession, just as the First had followed Newton. The very word “scientist” was coined in 1834.

    look how may different interpretations of Christianity there are.

    While there are only five or so interpretations of quantum mechanics. Only one interpretation goes all the way back and, except for some procedural and administration matters is held in common by two-thirds of all self-professed Christians: i.e., the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. A great many of the other interpretations have to do with the rise of nationalism as princes sought to bring the church to heal, through sponsor-a-heretic (as in Saxony), concordats (Spain, France), or flat-out nationalization (England, Sweden), and hence aid the State or the Dynasty.

    “Where does it say that chattel slavery is required”

    It condones it. That’s enough to establish that this particular ancient literature doesn’t hold any moral high ground.

    In what manner does it condone it? And what sort of slavery did it “condone”?

    If it was the Word of God, it wouldn’t lay out rules for slavery, it would absolutely say: THIS ISN’T ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR!!!

    Why would it say that? Just because you disapprove?
    https://thomism.wordpress.com/2017/07/23/the-cheap-grace-of-condemning-slavery/

    I was under the impression it [resurrection] was supposed to be a good thing.

    Even though it’s a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles?

    maybe the ‘good bits’ in the Bible were meant poetically as well as the millions of bad bits.

    Especially if they were written in poetic form. For example, today’s reading included:
    “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
    whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. ”
    which follows a familiar Hebrew poetic form. It also illustrates that poetry can be remarkably straihght-forward and that Christ in that context referred to himself as a slave.

  20. “Do you suffer the fundamentalist confusion that God personally materialized and sat at a scribe’s table and scribbled these books.”

    I was under the impression that God was supposed to be involved in the creative process. My mistake.

    “So, why would an all-powerful God choose a mode of expression common in the ancient world, rather than one easier for trombones to grasp?”

    The question remains: why did he choose to communicate an eternal message in a way which is (partially) intelligible only in a particular historical and geographical context (creating further issues with translation)?

    “YEC as it is practiced today is an artifact of the scientific revolution,”

    No, it’s a direct result of the inclusion of an untrue version of the history of the Earth in the Bible. Shouldn’t God have forseen that such a thing would happen?

    “A great many of the other interpretations have to do with the rise of nationalism as princes sought to bring the church to heal, …”

    I would suggest that all interpretations of Christianity have the same ultimate aim of controlling people. (Probably also creating cushy jobs, and getting free money.) If some countries tried to bring the church to heel, that was because it had too much power. Three cheers for Henry VIII.

    “In what manner does it condone it? And what sort of slavery did it “condone”?”

    We’ve already had this conversation. laying out rules for slavery is condoning it according to the dictionary definition of ‘condone’. Trying to weasel out of this by pretending that Biblical slavery is really indentured servitude didn’t work for you last time because the UN convention on Human Rights defines this as slavery.

    “Why would it say that [slavery is wrong]? Just because you disapprove?”

    Yes, but also because most people disapprove of it. If human morality moves on and leaves God in the dust, that’s evidence that God is fictional.

    “Even though it [the resurrection] is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles?”

    So you’re arguing that it was a bad idea to include the resurrection in the Bible? Stop playing games!

  21. I was under the impression that God was supposed to be involved in the creative process. My mistake.

    Fundamentalists and atheists commonly make that mistake. Augustine explained it quite clearly, but Fr. Georges Lemaître, originator of the Big Bang Theory, also addressed it:
    “The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less – some more than others – on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or as ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors of historic or scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if errors relate to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them.

    The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all.”

    why did he choose to communicate an eternal message in a way which is (partially) intelligible only in a particular historical and geographical context (creating further issues with translation)?

    It’s not all that unintelligible, except where fundamentalist and atheists try to read an English translation on their own without illumination from the Church Fathers.

    It’s a direct result of the inclusion of an untrue version of the history of the Earth in the Bible.

    Who cares? It’s not essential to salvation. As Augustine wrote: We do not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I am sending you the Paraclete to teach you about the course of the sun and the moon. After all, he wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. But it is enough for human purposes that people know about these matters as much as they have learned in school.”
    –Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Answer to Felix, a Manichean, I.10

    I would suggest that all interpretations of Christianity have the same ultimate aim of controlling people. (Probably also creating cushy jobs, and getting free money.)

    Cushy jobs like feeding the lions? How about Christianity before Theodosius made it official? And in what way were cushy jobs not available when they were pagans? Flamen Dialis, Flamen Martialis, and Flamen Quirinalis were pretty cushy jobs and since these and other positions were offices of the Roman State, your belief about “controlling people” is more arguably true about pre-Christian than about Christian religion.

    If some countries tried to bring the church to heel, that was because it had too much power. Three cheers for Henry VIII.

    Like the myth of “controlling people”, the myth of “too much power” has great persistence; though how anyone could say so with a straight face in the age of the Totalizing State is bemusing. Henry VIII, who started the Star Chambers, secret police, and all the rest, seized control of the Church in England because he wanted to change his woman. But people ever since the absolute monarchs (and esp. since Mussolini) have regarded any power outside the State as “too much.”

    Another view is “It was perhaps equally important that the existence and prestige of the Church prevented society from being totalitarian, prevented the omnicompetent state, and preserved liberty in the only way that liberty can be preserved, by maintaining in society an organization which could stand up against the state.”
    – A.D. Lindsay, The Modern Democratic State

    laying out rules for slavery is condoning it according to the dictionary definition of ‘condone’.

    Ah, argumentum ab dictionario Leaving aside that dictionaries were different back then, to put limits on something is hardly to approve. What the UN thinks in the technological era is not germane. In the time when the human writers were working, various kinds of slavery were endemic. Like oxygen, you could not escape it.

    Trying to weasel out of this by pretending that Biblical slavery is really indentured servitude didn’t work for you last time because the UN convention on Human Rights defines this as slavery.

    But I asked what kind of slavery you referred to, not about indentured servitude or headrights or other practices that seem to be of the same genre. While you’re at it, why not tell us why slavery is wrong (not illegal, wrong) in terms not derivative of other wrongs. [Hint: Sacking the town of Ballymore in Waterford to carry its inhabitants off to slavery in Africa is already wrong from the POV of violence and kidnapping.]

    “Why would it say that [slavery is wrong]? Just because you disapprove?”
    Yes,

    That begs the question. “It’s wrong because I disapprove of it.” is not a reason. And it should be “I disapprove of it because it’s wrong.”

    but also because most people disapprove of it.

    If “most people” jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too? What if “most people” wanted to round up the Jews? Shouldn’t right and wrong depend on more than personal taste or the madness of crowds?

    If human morality moves on and leaves God in the dust, that’s evidence that God is fictional.

    How would you know it had “moved on” rather than retrogressed? If human morality moves on to sacrificing children to Moloch, has it “moved on”?

    “Even though it [the resurrection] is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles?”
    So you’re arguing that it was a bad idea to include the resurrection in the Bible? Stop playing games!

    Just pointing out that it’s inclusion was crazy, since it would have a repulsive effect on both Jews and Greeks. So why would they include it unless they had to?

  22. (Apologies for late reply)

    “Fr. Georges Lemaître: The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all.”

    (Lemaitre got that the wrong way round – if everything in the Bible we’re able to verify is wrong, that means the rest of it is likely to be wrong.)

    I’m genuinely puzzled by this. For most of my life until I read your comment, I was under the definite impression that the Bible was supposed to be the “inspired word of God”, or “inspired by God”, or some such arrangement of words. Now you’re telling me that it’s just a book written by some people? If that’s really what you think, why take it even the slightest bit seriously? I mean, starting with the OT, everything in it is described by writers who couldn’t possibly have witnessed any of the events depicted in it, so the whole thing is just a fantasy. Not to mention much of the NT, like where Jesus is alone in the garden of Gethsemane – if he was alone, no one could have witnessed what happened. Or, the women who saw the empty tomb who were told not to tell anyone about it – so how did anyone know they saw it? Etc.

    But as I said, I was genuinely surprised when you made that claim. I actually felt a weight lift from my shoulders, in a kind of anti religious experience.

    “It’s not all that unintelligible, except where fundamentalist and atheists try to read an English translation on their own without illumination from the Church Fathers.”

    That doesn’t really answer the question. If it’s (somewhat) intelligible with the help of trained experts after only a couple of thousand years (or only about 1,700 for some of it), how intelligible is it going to be in 20,000 years? What about for the 100,000+ years we were around before God showed up?

    “Who cares? It’s [Genesis] not essential to salvation.”

    Wrong. Without the Fall of Man, the entire justification for us needing to be saved by Jesus has gone out of the window. Cue comedy slide whistle sound effect.

    “Cushy jobs like feeding the lions?”

    No, cushy jobs like being a bishop (what *do* bishops do?) rather than doing 12 hours of heavy outdoor manual labour.

    “the myth of “too much power” has great persistence;”

    Because it’s true. An organisation which can put people to death on the grounds of a book of myths written by some people, which they won’t even let ‘ordinary’ people read, has too much power.

    “It was perhaps equally important that the existence and prestige of the Church prevented society from being totalitarian,”

    Although the Catholic Church was in league with fascism. Just to put some reality into your baroque historical fantasy.

    “to put limits on something [slavery] is hardly to approve.”

    I said ‘condone’, not approve, but if you don’t approve of something and you’re God, I would expect you to say so, rather than laying out rules under which this thing you don’t approve of can continue.

    “What the UN thinks in the technological era is not germane. In the time when the human writers were working, various kinds of slavery were endemic.”

    Surely, it would be precisely those evils which were endemic that God would be pointing out? But I forgot! The Bible isn’t the word of God, it’s just what it appears to be, a book of ancient BS, written by some blokes.

    “But I asked what kind of slavery you referred to,”

    Any.

    “While you’re at it, why not tell us why slavery is wrong (not illegal, wrong) in terms not derivative of other wrongs. [Hint: Sacking the town of Ballymore in Waterford to carry its inhabitants off to slavery in Africa is already wrong from the POV of violence and kidnapping.]”

    If slavery is wrong due to other wrong things which must have happened for it to happen, then that’s all the more reason why it shouldn’t have been condoned in the OT.

    “”It’s wrong because I disapprove of it.” is not a reason.”

    Yes it is. What reason does God have, or what reason would he have if he actually dispproved of it, which he doesn’t? He can’t have any reason because he cannot refer to any reasoning to support his divine completely arbitrary rules.

    “If “most people” jumped off a bridge, would you jump off, too?”

    Human nature being what it is, I probably would. I’d assume there must be some reason I wasn’t aware of why jumping off the bridge was a good idea – a terrorist attack, maybe?

    “What if “most people” wanted to round up the Jews? Shouldn’t right and wrong depend on more than personal taste or the madness of crowds?”

    I wouldn’t do that because it’s obviously wrong. Right and wrong do depend on something other than personal taste or the madness of crowds, namely our evolutionary heritage as social animals.

    “How would you know it had “moved on” rather than retrogressed?”

    Because my shared evolutionary heritage says that it’s wrong to keep slaves, wrong to have child labour, wrong to crucify people for minor crimes, wrong to force people to stay in abusive marriages, and so on.

    “If human morality moves on to sacrificing children to Moloch, has it “moved on”?”

    No such thing has happened.

    “Just pointing out that it’s [resurrection] inclusion was crazy, since it would have a repulsive effect on both Jews and Greeks. So why would they include it unless they had to?

    Wow, you’re right! It must be true then! On the other hand, Mark, the first gospel to be written, doesn’t include the resurrection. Later gospels added it along with other knobs and whistles, which indicates that it is a fiction.

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