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G. Fallen Human Nature Login/Join 
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My Goodness. I've been OOC (out of commission, i.e. bed-ridden) for a week and I come back to a virtual summa theologica of discourse on the nature of evil and Original Sin!

I'm putting my toe into the discussion, not because I know anything about it but because Phil offered us (way back, 4 Nov) to share our thoughts, with ..."no requirement of theological expertise to state them."

I'm not a Catholic, only came back to Christianity (in the form of Anglicanism) four years ago, but have had been peering into the world of Catholicism for some time now, with great interest and, I must say, some disgust. (Apparently my curiosity is high enough, however, to sway my thinking this part year towards considering converting...scary!)

As I said, I know little about the doctrine of "Original Sin", though have got the impression from cynical ex-Catholics and others that this is a major reason why NOT to be Catholic (or Christian). In order to inform myself more deeply on these issues, and not to be swayed or jaded by others' opinions, I have printed out several of the articles recommended in this forum and will take them back to my bed -- some light reading whilst I convalesce!

I did, however (before I got stuck into the incredible dialogue on these issues in this forum), appreciate Phil's concise perspective on the nature of evil (moral) and the myth of Original Sin. For all the difficulty we may have with looking at the nature of evil and the Shadow sides of ourselves (e.g. Naomi's Nov 3 post), it is illuminating to be reminded that human beings are inherantly good (and I didn't know that this is principle doctrinal difference between the Protestants and Catholics -- thanks for clarifying that, Phil), as is God.

Like Naomi, I've often wrestled with the "polarity" of good and evil in the world, and seem unable to get beyond the "old theodicy", as Phil describes it, that everything is God: good/evil, yin/yang, light dark -- as I understand the Hindus believe. If this is so, if God is both Good/Evil, God/Devil, then what hope is there in ever believing that God/Good will prevail?

So I want to sit with this concept of Original Sin, read my articles and see what epiphany may want to surface about all this. Any thoughts from anyone on these matters are welcome.

Speaking of which, I understand there are 18 of us on this forum? Where are the other voices? It would be wonderful to hear from you!!

Peace,
Joan

PS I'm with you, Carole: an illuminating course and a great forum for helping with the arduous task of waking up from our fallen sleep. Thanks, Phil and others.

PPS Looking forward with great anticipation to the resolution of this "crisis" in this week's lesson.
 
Posts: 5 | Registered: 19 September 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Like Naomi, I've often wrestled with the "polarity" of good and evil in the world,
and seem unable to get beyond the "old theodicy", as Phil describes it, that everything is God: good/evil, yin/yang, light dark -- as I understand the Hindus believe. If this is so, if God is both Good/Evil, God/Devil, then what hope is there in ever believing that God/Good will prevail.
_____________________________________________

I can't help but respond to this. I have found no matter what the path to God or what the individual perceptions, no matter what the religions, there is a deep desire, a longing, an attraction built in to our genetic code that is always reaching toward the Light, reaching toward Love, even in darkness, and when it makes itself known through the human heart, it is all the more beautiful in its revelation. Christians are not exempt from the darkness, as we discover every day. When the clouds move across the face of the moon, the appearance of the silvery light in a night sky has inspired poets for centuries. Its barren landscape reflects the light of the sun and illuminates our own. The world of spirit knows no limits.
God works in the human soul and the human heart penetrating through the boundaries of all religions and beyond them across the earth. I have listened to stories of people making connections in the most remote God-forsaken spots on the earth. My answer would be that the assurance comes through FAITH in the outreach of God's Divine Nature and the promise of unconditional love. It also comes in our keeping our hearts open to all those who appear to be outside of God's grace because of some belief system. We all carry the sins and darkness of others as well as our own, and it is when we seek their well being as believers that transformation is possible.
To believe that God will not triumph is unthinkable to me, and I would venture to say, it is impossible. If someone were to destroy everything that exists tomorrow, the creative power, the energy of love, and the movement of God would be in the ashes already creating and beginning again. The promise of life in the existence of God is infinite, eternal, magnificent, and incredibly personal. God has placed something of His own Spirit within us.
Slowly, it will be awakened, one by one by one.

Love, Naomi
 
Posts: 74 | Location: Iowa, called Heartland | Registered: 08 February 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Joan and Naomi, thanks for your recent contributions to the discussion. Some of the discussion about polarities and Eastern viewpoints reminded me to a thread we have about Deepak Chopra on the shalomplace.com forum. Chopra, as I'm sure you know, comes out of an Eastern perspective, which he's augmented with science and other religious traditions into a New Age perspective. He seems to be monistic in his view of God and creation (see session 2), and that approach always runs into big problems when trying to deal with the problem of evil. The quote below is by me, from one of the exchanges, and demonstrates what I'm talking about.

quote:
Missing from Chopra, too, is an accounting for the existence of evil. Like other Easterners, he speaks often of attachments, mistaken identity, illusions, etc. All fine and well, nevertheless one must ask why ultimate intelligence extending itself into the universe has become so confused about its identity, and why it has attached itself to its own projections? This is always the undoing of monism, imo; I don't think the contradiction here can be overcome with even the most clever of sophistries. And even if one were to succeed, one would still be left wondering why we should have any confidence that such an intelligence -- which so badly confused itself in the first place -- can extricate itself from its confusion using even Dr. Chopra's books for guidance. How liberating would it really be, after all is said and done, to detach from one's delusions, only to realize that the "field" was the confused agent to begin with?

None of this occurs to Chopra, however, or if it does, he's not much bothered by it. No doubt, he would sneer at the Judeo-Christian doctrine of creation as (ontological) "dualism" (which it is, and happily so). Yet only such "dualism" adequately establishes creation as "real being" with God as its Creator, the One to Whom we are to give an accounting for our lives, and the One who is all-good and not confused about anything. And only Christianity adequately accounts for how creatures come to share in the divine nature itself without resorting to monism, but through Christ's incarnation, death, resurrection and the gift of the Spirit. Yes, that "dead white male in the sky" [Roll Eyes] is the One who makes that possible, and who even graces the good that Chopra does.
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've just posted the next session on "Restoration in Christ" -- a day early, but there's been a "lunging at the bit" to get there for the past couple of weeks or so. Smiler
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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She had, from her conception, been prepared for this important role through a special dispensation by God that protected her from the influence of Original Sin.

Would you speak a little more about Mary, Phil? Anyone?

Thanks, Carole
 
Posts: 35 | Registered: 28 September 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Carole, I'll reply sometime later today or tomorrow on the "Restoration in Christ" thread. Maybe you could pose the question there as well.

The "short" answer, here, has to do with the Immaculate Conception. Do a Google on that one and I'm sure you'll find some good stuff.
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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For general info: A footnote regarding terminology like coherent, congruent, etc

When we use these terms, they typically refer to:
1) logical consistency - is an argument fallacy free with terms that are not self-contradictory

2) internal coherence - does everything hold together as we move from one aspect of a position to another

3) interdisciplnary consilience - as we move from one discipline of science, incl theology, to another, do the ideas expressed in a position comfortably dovetail and are we using as many disciplines as possible

4) hypothetical consonance - how does this hypothesis comport with other prevailing hypotheses about similar subject matter

5) external congruence - specifically asks whether or not the positivistic facts incorporated into our metaphysical and theological hypotheses are congruent with what
we know from science

These are just a few of the criteria one uses before applying what used to be known as the scholastic notations. In the margin of a seminarian's notes, one was encouraged to engage some critical thinking and note whether or not a proposition was:
1) possible
2) plausible
3) probable
4) certain
5) uncertain
6) implausible
7) improbable
8) impossible

Since the positivistic-scientific realm cannot yield data, in principle, that would be contrary to revelation, over the centuries, as science advanced, many doctrines have been forced to divest themselves of positivistic elements and to jettison philosophic-metaphysical baggage that was not part of essential revelation.

The thornier the scientific problem, of course, the more latitude for wide-ranging speculation of how physical and physiological facts might impact one doctrine or another. Nothing is more integrally related to discussions of human nature than the emergence of consciousness. Since this science is still very new, many philosophies of mind exist, none of which could impact theological speculation, in and of themselves.

We do see a lot of folks drawing philosophic and metaphysical and theological conclusions from scientific data and hypotheses, but they are not being scientists when they do this. They are being philosophers, metaphysicians and theologians -- and, too often, not very good ones.

What Phil and I have both been decrying is the wily-nily crossing over of these human realms of concern by many scientists, philosophers and theologians without these folks explicitly acknowledging what they are doing, betraying, nonetheless, to anyone paying attention, their own prejuidices and a priori commitments.

This is not to suggest that one might not otherwise appear (or in fact) be consistent and coherent and consilient and consonant in their hypothesizing without, at the same time, being adequately externally congruent. Happens all the time. Neither is it to suggest that all external congruence is of the same quality. We have an audience out there of people of very large intelligence and profound goodwill, with no a priori bias toward one metaphysic or another, and they are looking at the facts we use about human consciousness (which however young the science, we do know something about from neuroscience and evolution, fossil records, genome mapping, etc) and they are deliberating over competing accounts looking not just for the possible, but for the plausible, and, one day, as knowledge grows in any given area, the probable and even the certain. In other words, we are closing in, always, just not always as fast as we'd like or as some might think, who have already rushed to closure. When we do, the science will not change anything essentially theological or vice versa. If it appears to, it is only because someone was calling something revelation that was not. All in all, it is better to keep God/de out of physical and metaphysical gaps from the get-go, in principle.

Not to be misunderstood, this is to contextualize the conversation within a larger ongoing debate --- such as creationism in Kansas schools --- and not to characterize our own discussions in anyway. (Phil and I came of age in a science curriculum over-run by secular humanists, who confused these realms, much like the fundamentalists do from the opposite angle. I call some of our old professors: Enlightenment fundamentalists. No animus toward them, mind ya; just wish they'd think it through!)

pax,
jb
 
Posts: 100 | Registered: 30 January 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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JB I sometimes think that bringing our full consciousness to the kinds of issues you describe is like our own liturgy of worship and loving care toward what we believe. So many people, as you describe in your post, can be careless with what they say. Relationship helps to hold us accountable.
If that is true, you are leading the community in reverent awareness!!

Naomi
 
Posts: 74 | Location: Iowa, called Heartland | Registered: 08 February 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We do see a lot of folks drawing philosophic and metaphysical and theological conclusions from scientific data and hypotheses, but they are not being scientists when they do this. They are being philosophers, metaphysicians and theologians -- and, too often, not very good ones.

Exactly, and as Naomi puts it, there is a call to reverence for all these disciplines in pointing out appropriate boundaries for each.

Interestingly, Time magazine has a good reflection this week on precisely this topic re. "Intelligent Design"
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1126751,00.html
 
Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Posts: 3516 | Location: Wichita, KS | Registered: 27 December 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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