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quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
OK, I've found the post I wrote earlier. Turns out I has hit "Edit" for one of yours. Oops! Eeker



Hey Moderator: HELP!!!! OOps! Eeker Big Grin

I just edited Carole's post: Posted 05 November 2005 06:01 AM

Sorry! Frowner

pax!
jb

p.s. I just did that so you wouldn't feel alone with your own finitude.
 
Posts: 100 | Registered: 30 January 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
In experiencing my own little sufferings I have come to see that Christ is in the midst of them, somehow there can be found great beauty there, though these suffering swould seem to be the result of evil. But I appreciate discussions of evil, indeed, great evil exists, and the only way I've figured out how to deal with it is to confront it in myself, and it's all there. I usually end up saying to myself that I don't know how it happened, I don't know nothin', but here we are, such as we are, God have mercy.

I believe, help my unbelief.

Somehow I feel that if I could understand it better, my belief would be stronger, but I always end up more confused!
Carole


Christ is in the midst of them, somehow there can be found great BEAUTY

A lot of what we have been discussing has been debated for centuries, pre-dating Christ, even. One might suppose He would have bothered to provide us rational discourse in response to our theodicy issues. For example, why did this tower fall on those people? Why was this man born lame? Why did you let my brother, Lazarus, die?

This is another clue, perhaps. He came. He suffered with us. He emptied Himelf of all Godly attributes that would have exempted Him from the punishments we experience. He healed. He forgave. He loved. He emphasized , right relationship, wo/man to wo/man, wo/man to God, wo/man to creation.

He taught us what to value and how to order these values and rid ourselves of inordinacy and disorderedness.

He told us death was not the final word. That sin was not the final word. The He was the Word, the Alpha and the Final Word, Omega. (That's why I emphasize a semiotic metaphysic. JUST KIDDING.)

Our attraction to authentic beauty, when we see it, and our keen aesthetic judgment, is an integral part of human pragmatic rationality, a large part of the affectivity- leading with the heart, following with the head. My head tells me to make the sign of the Cross and beg for mercy, too, before it ever goes out to talk metaphysics with the good old boys of thomism and girls of carmel.

Still, I would say we all strive for AMDG, ad majorem Dei gloriam, the greatest Glory of God, and that entails ongoing conversion, per Lonergan, affective and moral and social and religious and ... ... cognitive. And these all inform and transvalue one another.

pax,
jb
 
Posts: 100 | Registered: 30 January 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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JB, I've read over your posts and am not exactly sure if, in the end, you're objecting to anything in particular I've written, except to point out that there are other ways of looking at things, which I surely concede. Your point about many today objecting to the idea of Original Justice and the notion that the first parents were not to experience death is well-taken, but I do think those are essential components of revelation. These assertions are not so unreasonable, for, if we believe that the soul is immortal and the body is not a separate entity, then it's not too great a stretch to affirm that the immortality of the spiritual soul was to include even the body, though in a manner that we perhaps cannot even begin to conceive. Perhaps Christ's resurrected body gives us a hint of what this could have been like . . . that there could have been a kind of "death" with a continuance of the body in a more spiritualized state, even interacting with those who have not yet died. Holding too closely to the "evidence of our eyes" and a strict, scientific paradigm, here, constrains the imagination, imo.

It seems to me that many of the critics of the traditional doctrine assume that the advent of human spiritual consciousness was, in keeping with the usual evolutionary trajectory, gradual and emergent -- sort of like a light bulb slowly coming to light. To them, this calls into question concepts like Original Justice or some deliberate rejection of divine law. I'm not sure why that should be, especially since it seems we still have to account for a beginning to moral evil, no matter how things came about. And if, OTOH, these process-oriented folk happen to be wrong about gradual emergence (which is a distinct possibility), then they are even more hard-pressed to explain why Occam's Razor would favor their approach rather than the traditional explanation. As you know, it does seem that the human race descended from a single female; research on mitochondria strongly suggests this, and this would further strengthen the traditional teaching that moral evil, as well, had its beginning with our first parents. It could well be that their spiritual consciousness was more fully possessed by them than many surmise.

Another point I had intended to make in the opening session is that moral evil does indeed affect the natural world -- e.g., weather patterns, pollution, the behavior of animals, and so forth. The rippling consequences of moral evil do not just apply to human moral behavior, but touch upon everything that human beings come into contact with. This could be one way of understanding why some continue to speak of certain natural phenomena as evil, though I think that's a misuse of the term if evil is understood to be the deprivation of the good.

A point was made earlier about how it seems out of character for a good God to have so punished the first humans for their misdeed. As I tried to point out in the opening post, however, this is understood to have been no small indiscretion, and the "punishment" need not be taken to be any kind of act of God. What seems more likely is that, in the absence of reconciliation, the offenders were left with the consequences of their actions, which is precisely what happens to us as well, is it not? That's not about an unloving God so much as a just God -- the very one Who also takes the initiative in extending mercy as well for those willing to accept it.

I doubt I'll be posting more on this thread for the next few days, as I have the next session to write first. If there are any more questions or comments, I'll get back to them later next week. Meanwhile, carry on . . .
 
Posts: 3542 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by JB:
quote:
In experiencing my own little sufferings I have come to see that Christ is in the midst of them, somehow there can be found great beauty there, though these suffering swould seem to be the result of evil.

[jb snipped]

Somehow I feel that if I could understand it better, my belief would be stronger, but I always end up more confused!
Carole


Christ is in the midst of them, somehow there can be found great BEAUTY



Confused? Carole, you do not sound confused re: what it is one must do --- practical knowledge abounds in your words! In other words, one can easily discern that, through your docility to the Holy Spirit, wisdom abounds in you!

My favorite author on semiotics, John Deely, has had a lot to say about John of St. Thomas, someone I'm trying to delve into more deeply.

Jim Arraj provides this quote from John of St. Thomas at innerexplorations.com:

quote:

Wherefore it must be noted that love can be considered in two ways:

a) First, as it applies itself and other powers to action. This love is restricted to the executive or efficient order. It applies the agent to act.

b) Secondly, as it applies and unites the object to itself, assimilating it through fruition and making itself thereby connatural and proportionate to the object. Love experiences its object with a sort of loving taste, according to the Psalmist," Taste and see." In this way the one loving takes on the condition of his object, that is, through the affective experience the object is rendered more conformed, proportioned and united to the person, more suitable to him.

… the Holy Doctor presupposes that the gifts perfect a man so that he may be prompt to follow the impulse of the Holy Ghost. From this he proceeds to show how the gifts are distributed throughout the intellective and appetitive powers.

Among these, he notes that it is the special province of the gift of wisdom to judge. Its judgment is unique, proceeding from a special impulse, by which the mind is elevated to judge with promptitude, and by which the soul is united and subjected to God from a connaturality and experience of divine things.

This is an adequate description of the gift of wisdom.

The gift of wisdom does not judge from any knowledge derived from study and reasoning about causes [jb's note: like metaphysics, for instance Wink] or even by a light which manifests them in themselves. It judges from a connaturality and union with the supreme cause which is possessed as it were through experience.'


pax, amor et bonum
jb
 
Posts: 100 | Registered: 30 January 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
JB, I've read over your posts and am not exactly sure if, in the end, you're objecting to anything in particular I've written, except to point out that there are other ways of looking at things, which I surely concede.


Yes, that's a fair characterization. I have been circling 'round the same issue from different perspectives, perhaps more agnostic toward any given approach than most who write on these topics, and who likely tend to be more heavily invested in, as well as competent in, one metaphysical approach versus another than me.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
Your point about many today objecting to the idea of Original Justice and the notion that the first parents were not to experience death is well-taken, but I do think those are essential components of revelation. These assertions are not so unreasonable, for, if we believe that the soul is immortal and the body is not a separate entity, then it's not too great a stretch to affirm that the immortality of the spiritual soul was to include even the body, though in a manner that we perhaps cannot even begin to conceive. Perhaps Christ's resurrected body gives us a hint of what this could have been like . . . that there could have been a kind of "death" with a continuance of the body in a more spiritualized state, even interacting with those who have not yet died. Holding too closely to the "evidence of our eyes" and a strict, scientific paradigm, here, constrains the imagination, imo.


Well, I set forth which elements of the Fall Myth I think were essential to revelation and which accidental, already. I do agree that we must be very careful about constraining our imaginations for that, itself, goes against the very tenets of science.

We have to be open to the possibility that some aspects of reality are only accessible via indirect evidence and that, in time, through ever more robust statistical models and such, our confidence in certain hypotheses (that might not seem falsifiable/verifiable through normal empirical experience) might increase significantly as a result. Without this type of flexibility, theoretical and quantum physics will be forever thwarted.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

It seems to me that many of the critics of the traditional doctrine assume that the advent of human spiritual consciousness was, in keeping with the usual evolutionary trajectory, gradual and emergent -- sort of like a light bulb slowly coming to light. To them, this calls into question concepts like Original Justice or some deliberate rejection of divine law.


You are spot on there. Even from an emergentistic perspective, explanations of consciousness, in techno-speak, remain boith epistemologically and ontologically open. Translation, we really do not know SQUAT***note below*** about how the human brain works or evolved. I lean toward Terry Deacon's idea of the coevolution of language and brain from a biosemiotic emergentistic perspective.

But there are about ten other approaches, all plausible in various degrees, to me (Penrose, Searle, Chalmers, Rand, Dennett et al come immediately to mind). We have some idea of how syntactical operations might work and algorithmic and computational functions, but when it comes to nonalgorithmic and noncomputational and semantical consciousness, holy cow --- how folks can be so dogmatic is beyond me. Well, not really, for I suspect they begin with their evaluative hermeneutic/worlview and then try to fit their positivistic-philosophic, presciptve-descriptive accounts to foregone conclusions.

Deacon does a nice job from a semiotic perspective setting forth what he calls the computational fallacy, genetic fallacy and memetic fallacy of Dawkins, Dennett, the Churchlands and others. Human experience is too richly textured and if our brains were so simple we could understand them, then we would be so simple that we couldn't (don't have the attribution, but I got that quote from Jack Haught).

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
I'm not sure why that should be, especially since it seems we still have to account for a beginning to moral evil, no matter how things came about.


How about moral evil became possible when human rationality emerged, which is to say, when our open-ended processors became sophisticated enough to gift us with what we experience as free will. How we settle the origins of consciousness would not change that, as you say, no matter how things came about.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
And if, OTOH, these process-oriented folk happen to be wrong about gradual emergence (which is a distinct possibility), then they are even more hard-pressed to explain why Occam's Razor would favor their approach rather than the traditional explanation. As you know, it does seem that the human race descended from a single female; research on mitochondria strongly suggests this, and this would further strengthen the traditional teaching that moral evil, as well, had its beginning with our first parents. It could well be that their spiritual consciousness was more fully possessed by them than many surmise.


From any number of paradigms and metaphysics, I have no problem with the emergence of moral evil with the dawn of human consciousness. The problem, rather, is in the improbable notion that we weren't prey for any number of carnivores.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

Another point I had intended to make in the opening session is that moral evil does indeed affect the natural world -- e.g., weather patterns, pollution, the behavior of animals, and so forth.


Of course and so would our finitude.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

A point was made earlier about how it seems out of character for a good God to have so punished the first humans for their misdeed. As I tried to point out in the opening post, however, this is understood to have been no small indiscretion, and the "punishment" need not be taken to be any kind of act of God.


For starters, when we call God "good," we have to admit that we have said, on one hand, a whole lot, otoh, not very much at all Eeker How high Her ways are above ours ... ... And, we have any number of meanings we can derive from suffering --- as pedagogy, as redemptive, you know the litany. Many theodicy issues arise, in my opinion, from ambiguous and equivocal God-concepts which, once properly predicated and suitably nuanced, vanish. Nonetheless, bottomline, the best theodicies always retain an element of mystery. Abandonment to Divine Providence and Trustful Surrender are two devotional approaches to sorting through primary and secondary causality, eh?

So, I wholeheartedly agree --- even if some of our responses look terribly contrived and rationalized with extreme jesuitry to those who engage our tradition superficially.

pax,
jb

Note: I do not deny the marvels and advances of modern neuroscience but my point remains.
 
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From any number of paradigms and metaphysics, I have no problem with the emergence of moral evil with the dawn of human consciousness. The problem, rather, is in the improbable notion that we weren't prey for any number of carnivores.

I did note above that "there could have been a kind of 'death' with a continuance of the body in a more spiritualized state, even interacting with those who have not yet died." So granted, yes: carnivores, accidents, etc. Not necessarily a problem. Wink

How about moral evil became possible when human rationality emerged, which is to say, when our open-ended processors became sophisticated enough to gift us with what we experience as free will.

That point was pretty much made in my opening conference, it seems to me, although I didn't use the term, "open-ended processors." Wink

I have been circling 'round the same issue from different perspectives, perhaps more agnostic toward any given approach than most who write on these topics, and who likely tend to be more heavily invested in, as well as competent in, one metaphysical approach versus another than me. . .

I do believe the metaphysical system I've been presenting in this series does have very strong standing in the Catholic tradition, and that some aspects of what I've shared have even been doctrinally affirmed (e.g, parts of what I've written about the soul, the Fall, the consequences of Original Sin, and a few other areas). Some of your "agnosticating" and commentary, JB, might leave those who do not know better with the impression that I have somehow, in this series, arbitrarily chosen one particular metaphysical viewpoint among many that have equal standing in the Church, and that's simply not the case -- e.g, you've mentioned process approaches and views that reject the Fall. There really has been, in Catholicism, a strong consensus on metaphysical issues developed via blood, sweat and tears through the centuries, and I've been trying to present a simple introduction to this understanding. Just needed to state that, mostly to affirm the credibility of what I've been offering, as some of the exchanges might easily suggest otherwise, imo.
 
Posts: 3542 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Phil, I have been following your offerings for several years now, and I find you always in your integrity and very grounded in your faith. I find you open to listen and to discuss from almost any angle of spiritual development. I would like to say that nothing I have said reflects on what you should or should not be including.
I simply allowed myself the indulgence of expressing my own heart longings for spiritual vision. As Jesus ascends to God, something of my spirit wants to go with him.
There are many people in leadership roles who simply refuse to engage in mutual dialogue about these kinds of issues.
We are blessed through your willingness to do so, Phil. You described your offerings, and we are learning from what you share. You are a witness as to what it means to be grounded in your faith.
I have told many people that there are still a few in the church who are keeping dialogue open.
I would never underestimate the value of that!

Love, Naomi
 
Posts: 74 | Location: Iowa, called Heartland | Registered: 08 February 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I must say, I'm so VERY appreciative of this group. It is slowly dawning on me that my reluctance to believe, or fully ingest, the "fall myth", my resistance to it has to do with not wanting to assume full responsibility for my actions, from resisting seeing the full potential for evil within me, from wanting to remain a "victim", from not wanting to be free. From being afraid of freedom, it's awsome responsibility and consequences......it's so much easier to "stay asleep" and walk in darkness, in ignorance......

I am on my knees....

Thank you so much for this series, Phil, and thank you to all who are participating.
Carole
 
Posts: 35 | Registered: 28 September 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

I did note above that "there could have been a kind of 'death' with a continuance of the body in a more spiritualized state, even interacting with those who have not yet died." So granted, yes: carnivores, accidents, etc. Not necessarily a problem. Wink


Rather than get stuck here, I'll bookmark it for future exploration ...

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

RE:How about moral evil became possible when human rationality emerged, which is to say, when our open-ended processors became sophisticated enough to gift us with what we experience as free will.

That point was pretty much made in my opening conference, it seems to me, although I didn't use the term, "open-ended processors." Wink


Yes, but your sticking point was that an emergentistic account somehow, necessarily, rooted moral evil in matter.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

I do believe the metaphysical system I've been presenting in this series does have very strong standing in the Catholic tradition, and that some aspects of what I've shared have even been doctrinally affirmed (e.g, parts of what I've written about the soul, the Fall, the consequences of Original Sin, and a few other areas). Some of your "agnosticating" and commentary, JB, might leave those who do not know better with the impression that I have somehow, in this series, arbitrarily chosen one particular metaphysical viewpoint among many that have equal standing in the Church, and that's simply not the case -- e.g, you've mentioned process approaches and views that reject the Fall. There really has been, in Catholicism, a strong consensus on metaphysical issues developed via blood, sweat and tears through the centuries, and I've been trying to present a simple introduction to this understanding. Just needed to state that, mostly to affirm the credibility of what I've been offering, as some of the exchanges might easily suggest otherwise, imo.


Well, just to be clear, when we say "equal standing in the church" or speak of some "consensus on metaphysical issues," that would only refer to a sociological datum and not a magisterial determination. Let's be clear that the Magisterium does not concern itself with the positivistic, philosophic and metaphysical realms. Its foci of concern are, rather, theistic and theotic, which is to say, strictly theological, which is to emphasize Catholicism's very catholicity.

Ratzinger, now Pope Bendict XVI, himself, is an augustinian and not a thomist. In addition to the augustinian and thomists, I have been equally impressed by the scotists and the pragmaticism of Peirce. Then there are the phenomenologists, existentialists and analytical philosophers, all with a different angle on human nature. Even within thomism, nowadays, a thousand flowers bloom in aristotelian thomism, existential thomism, analytical thomism, phenomenological thomism, transcendental thomism and others. All of this before we even mention process thought of Tielhard, Whitehead and Hartshorne.

So, let me affirm the credibility of what is being offered while drawing the critical distinction between the philosophical and metaphysical schools of thought, themselves, and their theological applications.

All that said, Thomas Aquinas is a paragon of how science and philosophy can be harmonized with faith. As such a paragon, I can think of no equal in all of Christendom! As a philosophy, though, thomism is not considered a privileged epistemology or ontology.

Finally, there is the additional matter of discerning the essentials from the accidentals in church dogma before we begin the exercise of harmonizing faith and metaphysics.

It is to be expected that we will not resolve the issue of original sin to the satisfaction of all comers, whether in an introductory presentation or in scholarly journals. Take it from the Pope:
quote:
“[t]he inability to understand ‘original sin’ and to make it understandable is really one of the most difficult problems of present-day theology and pastoral ministry”

The Ratzinger Report


pax!
jb
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
As you know, it does seem that the human race descended from a single female; research on mitochondria strongly suggests this ...


That is a controverted and not at all a settled or consensus hypothesis. See the work of Francisco Ayala in this series by The Vatican Observatory.

A more accessible discussion of this can be found in the publication for general readership, the Jesuits' America Magazine.

pax,
jb
 
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Phil mentioned earlier the concern that he has for a proper understanding of human nature vis a vis metaphysics is primarily oriented toward his interest in spirituality. Our theological anthropology will have a great bearing on same, indeed.

One way I look at it is analogous to one of those 12 Step Slogans: For the steps to work, you've got to work the steps.

For human nature to work, you've got to work human nature.

Someone once asked me what the difference was between humanization and divinization. I suppose that could be recast as: If theosis is divinization, then what is humanization?

I think Lonergan's invitation to authenticity answers this question. The more authentically human we become, the more God-like. This affirms an incarnational view that we and all of creation are basically good.

So, when it comes to making choices, fundamentally, the most basic of these choices is to accept our humanity and to work human nature. The Army slogan captures this, I believe: Be all that you can be! and the old John Powell book does, too: Fully Human! Fully Alive!.

In some sense, then, that's where many of those insidious -isms come from. They find their origin in our trying to go aganist human nature rather than working with it. The great hymn in Phillipians offers Jesus as the exemplar for, in aristotelian terms, though He was in the form of God, He did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, but rather took on our form .... That's a great affirmation of our form, of our human nature.

Our nature, in psychological terms, whatever the underlying metaphysics might be, includes cognitive, affective, moral, social and religious dimensions (to stick with Lonergan's categories). These interact holistically ---body, soul and spirit (to use classical tripartite language) or with head, hearts, hands and health (to use the 4-H lingo) or whatever your paradigm of choice may be.

There are two more terms I'd like to introduce: apophatic and kataphatic. Really, they carry a fairly simple concept. They are words that describe how it is we are describing reality. We can describe a reality, affirmatively or positively, kataphatically, by stating what a reality is (actually) or is like (analogically, and sometimes even metaphorically). We can describe what a reaility is not or is not like, too, apophatically, negatively. This is what they mean by the via positiva and via negativia of theology. Really, they are just one apporach with two different aspects. That approach can be called an attempt to increase descriptive accuracy.

It goes without saying, then, that an attempt to increase descriptive accuracy is integral to our positivistic, philosophic, metaphysical, theistic, theotic, descriptive, prescriptive and evaluative enterprises. We want to move toward truth and beauty and goodness and love and God.

Human nature, properly conceived, does not present us with choices, in our approach to reality, between apophatic and kataphatic approaches, between speculative and affective approaches, between head and heart. As we approach reality, we approach it with all that we are, with our human nature.

Disorder ensues when we try to approach reality claiming to be something we are not. We can claim to be something we are not and can try to be something we are not but cannot really pull it off. At any rate, here are a few -isms that can result from not working human nature:

an overemphasis on the affective and kataphatic is pietism

an overemphasis on the speculative and kataphatic is rationalism

an overemphasis on the affective and apophatic is quietism

an overemphasis on the speculative and apophatic is encratism

and some claim we know way more than we really do, which is somewhat of a naive realism

and some claim we know way less than we know, which can take the incoherent form of nihilism or even a radically deconstructive postmodernism

and so on and so forth ...

When we do engage in theological anthropology, we are obliged to eschew any notions that a) we are God Eeker as well as any notions that b) we are not God-like Confused along with c) the belief that we radically need God Roll Eyes (looking toward heaven) and that d) God provides this need Smiler as per e) our Credo Wink and the mournful fact that f) we willfully work against this whole scheme, sinfully Frowner .... ... and that, in essence, is what is not negotiable about human nature Big Grin, which laughs and drinks when it is not thristy!

pax!
jb
 
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JB, from the "America" article you cited:

Original sin has been defined as the need for salvation by Christ that is universal to all human beings and acquired through natural generation.

OK, but that's a very superficial definition and understanding, imo, with no reference to the Fall, but to "generation" instead. In fact, there was nothing in the article that seemed to take the doctrine of the Fall seriously. Instead, the usual datae of evolution and biology were considered normative on this matter.

Continuing with this approach, one would have to say that Jesus' nature miralces didn't happen, and he didn't rise from the dead, either -- at least not in any kind of literal way.

The doctrine of original sin is the theory developed by Western Christianity, from Paul through Augustine and beyond, to cope with the problem of evil. This tradition looks to the Book of Genesis, Chapters 1 to 3, for an explanation of creation, seeing there a story of how God’s good work was corrupted by human sin. This explanation sufficed for over 1,000 years. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, however, it was undermined by geology’s discovery of deep time, followed by the Darwinian revolution in biology

From Paul to Darwin in 1,000 years? And the Jews before Paul didn't believe in the Fall and dire consequences for the human race? Note, too, that Darwin's theory somehow sets the standard for accountability, the presumption being that the doctrine simply could not stand in an evolutionary universe. Roll Eyes

As a result, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had to admit in 1985 that “[t]he inability to understand ‘original sin’ and to make it understandable is really one of the most difficult problems of present-day theology and pastoral ministry”

This is taken to be an admission of some kind by Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) that the doctrine is no longer intelligible, when, in fact, it seems to be recognizing a need for better pedagogy.

We all sin because we have all inherited—from the very first living things on earth—a powerful tendency to act selfishly, no matter the cost to others. Free will enables us to override this tendency, but only sporadically and with great effort; we more readily opt for self. This tendency in all of us is what our tradition calls “the stain of original sin.” It is not the result of a “Fall” in our prehistory, since we were never more selfless than we are now.

Well, if he says so . . . Roll Eyes

But note very carefully how he places the ability to overcome natural selfishness in the will per se -- presumably the "natural will" -- and how the will is simply unable to sustain loving or just actions. This is true, but what is missing from the account is any notion that such might not have been the case with our first parents by virtue of the unimpeded flow of "natural grace" available to them because of their undefiled relationship with God. But, then, to acknowledge this possibility would go against the evolutionary, emergent perspective of the author, which trumps everything, and provides the standard to which traditional doctrine must give an accounting. Recognizing that it is precisely grace (natural and supernatural) which DOEs provide the will with the power to sutain loving and just actions, is it really too far a stretch to assert that something like this could have been more readily available to our human ancestors as well? I don't see why not!

God’s decision to create a material world was inescapably a decision to create breakable, mortal beings. Moreover, one of the iron laws of God’s universe is Darwinian natural selection, which enforces selfish behavior on the part of all living things as the price of survival and evolutionary progress—even though, as a practical certainty, this selfishness eventually entails sin on the part of moral creatures. Life cannot evolve any other way.

Note now that Darwin's theory is, here, considered a "law," which reinforces selfishness (not necessarily so) and therefore "explains" moral evil.

Instead, we have imagined that God had a choice, that the world could have been different. But ours is not just the best of all possible worlds; it is the only possible world

Like I said, if he says so . . .

------------

OK, over and out! I'll get back to this discussion after the next session is written.
 
Posts: 3542 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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re:
quote:
This is taken to be an admission of some kind by Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) that the doctrine is no longer intelligible, when, in fact, it seems to be recognizing a need for better pedagogy.


Isn't that a typical ratzingeresque ploy?

Dear CDF:

re: certain magisterial teachings in moral theology: why is there a moral difference between NFP and birth control?

Yours truly,
Joe Catholic


Dear Joe:

There is a difference. However, articulating it in a compelling manner to a person of average intelligence is an almost insurmountable pedagogical challenge. Can I get back to you on this?

Sincerely,
The CDF
 
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quote:
But note very carefully how he places the ability to overcome natural selfishness in the will per se -- presumably the "natural will"


There is no one metaphysic of grace, such as the thematic grace of transcendental thomism vs grace as transmuted experience per Gelpi. Thus, there is no implicit (much less explicit) denial of grace, natural or supernatural. It is THAT we are graced and not HOW we are graced that is essential. HOW is accidental.
 
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Continuing with this approach, one would have to say that Jesus' nature miralces didn't happen, and he didn't rise from the dead, either -- at least not in any kind of literal way.


Caricaturization. Wrongful extrapolation. Sweeping generalization. Not every process thinker is a John Shelby Spong. Wink
 
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Originally posted by JB:
Caricaturization. Wrongful extrapolation. Sweeping generalization. Not every process thinker is a John Shelby Spong. Wink


It seems to me the primary error made by writers like Domning (a professor of anatomy) and the process writers in general is that they believe human spiritual consciousness emerged gradually. The traditional teaching suggests otherwise, which, to them, implies dependence on a static cosmos. Not so fast! For one thing, God could have simply given the spiritual soul as something of a "special creation" to highly evolved humanoid ancestors when the time was ready, which is what my opening session maintains. This is not even taken seriously by Domning, but with what evidence to the contrary? The critical difference between human and animal consciousness is that we are conscious of our consciousness and it seems they are not. To be conscious of one's consciousness either exists as a potential or it doesn't; there's nothing in-between, and it is this that makes free will and reason be what they are for humans. So it seems that something more akin to the flipping of a switch than the gradual illuminating of a light bulb would be just as compelling a metaphor for human emergence, though one seldom finds this possibility being treated seriously by many process-oriented philosophers of the stripes of Dr. Domning.

This is not to say that there's nothing of value in process approaches. Personally, I like the way they write of the evolution of creation in relation to God. Marvelous! So I know they're not all Bishop Spong types . . . but a great many of them are, as you well know from your interactions on other forums.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Phil,
 
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Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
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Originally posted by JB:
Caricaturization. Wrongful extrapolation. Sweeping generalization. Not every process thinker is a John Shelby Spong. Wink


Look, I have tried -- successfully, I believe -- to explain how a traditional understanding can be upheld even in an evolutionary universe. You have tried to show that there are other explanations, but the problem with some of them (like Domnig) is that they generally end up denying the Fall, original sin, and then many go on to deny other traditional teachings as well.


Well, perhaps we need to back way up and ask which of these "traditional" teachings are essential and which accidental, a distinction I referred to previously.

Further, when we say "traditional teachings," we need to separate out the positivistic, philosophic and metaphysical from the theological and theotic, however much they are otherwise necessarily intertwined.

Finally, there are problems with all the explanations, but, in my view, none so fatal as to warrant their cursory dismissal, none so coherent and accessible as to be universally compelling, as if every person of goodwill would readily embrace it, if only they could engage in fallacy-free logic with large intelligence.

If you hold, as it seems you do, that "the Fall" is an indispensable element of the tradition, then that will be a stumbling block for dialogue with many other perspectives. So, it may be that simple. We have an impasse, which is good to locate. That helps us move on to the next topic.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
Re. your comment re. Ratzinger/birth control. What's the relevance of that?


It seems to be analogous is all. Sometimes I am amused by it, but at other times I am sad because it is scandalous. What I mean in particular is this: When a teaching is highly controversial, widely in dispute and mostly inaccessible to large numbers of people of large intelligence and profound goodwill, to claim that the problem lies in an intractable pedagogical deficiency is not helpful. That quote from the Ratzinger report on original sin very much echoed similar statements made by the CDF with re: to the NFP and birth control question. So, that's the connection.

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Originally posted by Phil St. Romain: My explanations have been more coherent and congruent ....


I wasn't talking about your presentation, not directly anyway. The Pope said this:
quote:
“[t]he inability to understand ‘original sin’ and to make it understandable is really one of the most difficult problems of present-day theology and pastoral ministry”


Let's parse this more. 1) There is an inability to understand. 2) There is an inability to make it understandable. 3) It is a problem in theology. 4) It is a problem in pastoral ministry.

1) Whom do you think he is talking about not understanding it? What particular reasons would you give?

2) Whom do you think he is talking about being unable to make it understandable? What particular reasons would you give?

3) This problem in theology? What do you think it is? Is it in academia or CCD classes or where?

4) How, precisely, do you think the problem plays out in pastoral ministry?

Now, look at the quote again, in a different context, with me substituting the terms for NFP & ABC:

quote:
]“[t]he inability to understand the difference between NFP and ABC and to make it understandable is really one of the most difficult problems of present-day moral theology and pastoral ministry”


I see a lot of equivalence there and my answers would be as follows -- to both questions:

1) People in CCD classes, in the pews, in academia, clergy, laity, believers in and out of the church, nonbelievers with access to the same natural law (in the case of the moral issue), all others with access to the same positivistic and philosophic and metaphysical sciences (in the case of the dogmatic issue).

2) The CDF, itself.

Answers 3) & 4) aren't needed to demonstrate where I was coming from.

Now, if you agree with me that the answer to #2, at the very least, includes the CDF (and you can add whomever else), then I think you can see I wasn't speaking about your own, as you call it, coherence and congruence, but a much larger cohort. But if you answer those questions differently than me ... well ... my analogy wouldn't work very well and could lead to a misunderstanding.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain: re: the ridiculous reply you attributed to Ratzinger re. birth control.


Excuse the hyperbole, but I would be willing to defend its overall thrust in another forum. I took license with that literary device to avoid having to write a book on the subject in order to contextualize my analogy to the original sin "situation."
Wink

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

And from the exchanges we've seen on this forum and on the public one at shalomplace.com, it's pretty obvious that many people haven't been exposed to good pedagogy on this topic.


See the above. I believe you've already answered #2, then. That adequate pedagogy does exist. So we likely diasagree there about the CDF's ability to make it understandable.

I think you're a great teacher. And I think I understand what you are saying, far better than I could ever make people understand what I say! And, if I do understand you correctly about the Fall, as I mentioned above, we likely have an impasse. That can make for a source of rich reflection and depthful exchange but probably would not serve your present aims and purposes in an introductory forum. Another matter to bookmark and come back to someday, in person, private correspondence (or an open discussion forum with people who share our intrigue!).

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:

It seems to me the primary error made by writers like Domning (a professor of anatomy) and the process writers in general is that they believe human spiritual consciousness emerged gradually. The traditional teaching suggests otherwise, which, to them, implies dependence on a static cosmos. Not so fast!


We still never cleared up two things: 1) what part of this traditional teaching is essential and what part, accidental 2) the essential dogma vs the metaphysic in which it is couched. But this issue in particular is not that difficult to parse insofar as the speed of emergence of human consciousness is a positivistic and philosophic issue and not a theological one.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
For one thing, God could have simply given the spiritual soul as something of a "special creation" to highly evolved humanoid ancestors when the time was ready, which is what my opening session maintains. This is not even taken seriously by Domning, but with what evidence to the contrary?


Yes, I like the way Jim puts that in his book and the way you presented it, too. As I mentioned, previously, re: human consciousness studies, that issue is VERY open both epistemologically and ontologically. Ergo, we are not dealing with a great deal of evidence one way or the other. I suppose to answer your question, the charitable interpretation would be that it was an article in "America" and not a 5 Volume Metaphysic. The most excellent way to engage the art of dispuation is the way of Aquinas, eh? It may seem that thus and such is the case because of thus and such .... I think the same author in a more scholarly journal would engage thomism more seriously and vice versa with the thomists re: process.

I mentioned someting way back about many folks being so trenchant in their respective metaphysics and that I don't think that is warranted re: many issues, especially given the still nascent state of our study of human consciousness, for instance, which is at the heart of the very trait that makes us a species.

I also observed that sometimes folks seem to have committed to a worldview that obliges them to a priori adopt the particular positivistic, philosophic and metaphysical hypotheses they do and then to defend them so tenaciously. One would think this would not often afflict Catholics because, after all, they have no stake, no investment, nothing whatsoever riding on the outcome of any given hypothesis or theory in those realms (or, at least, they shouldn't, in principle). But I have seen some Catholic scholars engage alternative views with the same pejorative force and that can only be due to other factors, I guess psychological.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
The critical difference between human and animal consciousness is that we are conscious of our consciousness and it seems they are not. To be conscious of one's consciousness either exists as a potential or it doesn't; there's nothing in-between, and it is this that makes free will and reason be what they are for humans.


Very well put. It is quite the leap! A veritable and glorious discontinuity ... flat out astonishing to anyone who examines it seriously!

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
So it seems that something more akin to the flipping of a switch than the gradual illuminating of a light bulb would be just as compelling a metaphor for human emergence, though one seldom finds this possibility being treated seriously by many process-oriented philosophers of the stripes of Dr. Domning.


Which Catholic process philosophers have you found to be of the stripe of him and which not? I would like to follow-up on that.

You know, any theist has to assert some type of metaphysical discontinuity in order to affirm a transcendent God. This isn't up for grabs. Once we hypothesize same and commit to that, it would seem that, by analogy, one might then be open to the possibility that the created order has different levels of discontinuity, too, with an elusive chain of causation, the evidence, for which, being difficult to come by but generating defensible inferences, which are subject to at least indirect evidence.

Nevertheless, some folks appear a priori committed to physicalism, however nonreductive, and prematurely foreclose on other ontologies. The time may come when we can narrow our range of suitable metaphysical models, but our knowledge is still too sketchy for that and, as I said before, it would violate the tenets of science, itself, to get too close-minded. (Others appear a prior committed to monism, dualism, pluralism and all manner of -isms, too, to be fair).

Why should a Catholic care if non-reductive physicalism was right or if irreducible complexity and ID theory were right? The "Design Inference" science is young. Stay tuned.

quote:
Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
This is not to say that there's nothing of value in process approaches. Personally, I like the way they write of the evolution of creation in relation to God. Marvelous! So I know they're not all Bishop Spong types . . . but a great many of them are, as you well know.


I like Jack Haught and Joe Bracken Big Grin

pax,
jb
 
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Posted 06 November 2005 02:13 PM
Now, JB . . . I wonder what's really going on, here? I see the interest in properly nuancing the teaching I'm giving (and I appreciate that), but


I have more free time than you, so I can afford to devote more words to every little nuance Big Grin

Doesn't really reflect any affectivity issues such as Big Grin Mad Roll Eyes

Although, as I did refer to briefly, sometimes the CDF makes me a tad Frowner
But that doesn't animate me or instill any real animus as they truly deserve compassion and the benefit of the doubt, being just like you and me, fallible creatures of an all-loving God Big Grin

If I do have a vested interest in metaphysics vis a vis theology ---ascetical, dogmatic, moral, etc, then it is my commitment to pluralism and catholicity and a certain incredulity at those who engage alternative metaphysics with such pejorative force and even invective. What's that all about? Doesn't make sense and the incivility offends charity, as do the cursory dismissals. Sometimes this frustrates me but we are on the same sheet of music there, as others might not know, who don't have the luxury of thirty years worth of friendship and correspondence. So, it is good that you clarify this.

pax!
jb
 
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I have more free time than you, so I can afford to devote more words to every little nuance Big Grin

- waving a white flag . . . Razzer

Catholic process-type guys I don't especially care for:
- Matthew Fox, Cletus Wessel, Diarmuid O'Murchu (see [url= this link. What I read of Jack Haught years ago was very good.

Protestant process-type guys I don't especially care for:
- every one I've come across: e.g., David Ray Griffin (a Bushophobe among other things); can't recall some of the other names -- oh yeah, Bishop Spong . . . haven't read too many.

My favorite: Teilhard de Chardin, although even he got it wrong about the Fall and Original Sin. Tsk tsk. Smiler

- I'll catch up on the rest later.
 
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Originally posted by Phil St. Romain:
I have more free time than you, so I can afford to devote more words to every little nuance Big Grin

- waving a white flag . . . Razzer

Catholic process-type guys I don't especially care for:
- Matthew Fox, Cletus Wessel, Diarmuid O'Murchu (see [url= this link. What I read of Jack Haught years ago was very good.

Protestant process-type guys I don't especially care for:
- every one I've come across: e.g., David Ray Griffin (a Bushophobe among other things); can't recall some of the other names -- oh yeah, Bishop Spong . . . haven't read too many.

My favorite: Teilhard de Chardin, although even he got it wrong about the Fall and Original Sin. Tsk tsk. Smiler

- I'll catch up on the rest later.


Yes. Well, I haven't really engaged those Catholics, especially the pop-audience writers. I stick to the journals and academic monographs. Many pop-versions are superficial and do harm, imo. On the Protestant side, allowing me an oversimplification, I cannot engage the evangelical cohort with their dialectical imagination and eschewal of natural theology, or the liberal cohort which is worse than those Catholics when it comes to a priori capitulating to physicalist paradigms, sometime secular humanists in disguise, for all practical purposes. Still, I'll put those names on my web-browsing list but not likely my amazon.com list Roll Eyes

later and merci,
jb
 
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