On Non-Christians

Does Science Say God Does Not Exist?

According to Science, God Does Not Exist—this is likely one of the most bold and, dare I say it, rather foolhardy things I have ever read, and I simply felt I had to respond. I see a fundamental problem with the very title, but I let the article I am debunking first speak. The article is written by someone called Austin Cline, which I found on It is an old article, written on June 25, 2019, but I think it deserves a response because I find that this line of reasoning embodies what is wrong with a lot of atheistic apologetics. Let us begin.

In the debate over whether God exists, we have theists on the one side, atheists on the other, and, in the middle, science. Atheists claim there is scientific proof that God is not real. Theists, on the other hand, insist that science, in fact, has been unable to prove that God does not exist. According to atheists, however, this position depends upon a mistaken understanding of the nature of science and how science operates. Therefore, it is possible to say that, scientifically, God does not exist—just as science discounts the existence of a myriad of other alleged beings.

As noted above, there is so much wrong with the very basis of this line of reasoning. Yes, science does not prove and never will prove that God does not exist. This, I think, is not only because God does, in fact, exist, but also, more importantly, because Mr. Cline does not understand the nature of the question, “Does God exist?” The God-debate is not, and never has been, a question pertaining primarily to natural science in the first place, nor should we expect it to do so. Rather, the question is philosophical. The reason for this is that God is not part of the physical or natural universe. On the contrary, He created the laws of physics to begin with. Therefore, He should not be expected to be subject to being proved or disproved by natural science in the first place. Yes, it is true that God can interfere with the natural sciences through miracles. However, that is not the way we ought to expect our main source of evidence for God, as that is philosophical, not scientific. This problem will emerge again throughout the article.

To understand why “God does not exist” is a legitimate scientific statement, it’s important to understand what the statement means in the context of science. When scientist say, “God does not exist,” they mean something similar to when they say “aether does not exist,” “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does on the moon does not exist.”

All such statements are shorthand for a more elaborate and technical explanation, which is that this alleged entity (or God) has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe anything or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful.

What should be most obvious about the more technically accurate statement is that it isn’t absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of the entity or force in question; instead, it’s a provisional statement denying the existence of any relevance or reality to the entity or force based on what we currently know. Religious theists may be quick to seize upon this and insist that it demonstrates that science cannot “prove” that God does not exist, but that requires far too strict of a standard for what it means to “prove” something scientifically.

Statements such as “psychic powers do not exist,” or “life does on the moon does not exist”, though perhaps perfectly legitimate as scientific statements, do not hold up to philosophy. Philosophers almost always would say something more to the effect of “I do not know if there is life on the moon”, unless there is proof to the contrary. But be that as it may, with the same stroke I could say “love does not exist” or “honor does not exist” or even, (dare I say it) “the laws of logic do not exist”. And before anyone tries to argue that the universe seems to follow the laws of logic, I challenge you to prove it without appealing to the laws of logic, which would render your reasoning cyclical.

Anyway, science cannot prove these things either because, unlike aether or life on the moon, God is not a scientific concept because He invented science, rendering this reasoning irrelevant.

In “God: The Failed Hypothesis—How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist,” Victor J. Stenger offers this scientific argument against the existence of God:

In the upcoming argument, pretty much every premise has a problem with it, so I will have to deal with them one at a time. This will be fun.

1. Hypothesize a God who plays an important role in the universe.

God does play an important role in the universe. He made it in the first place, and He is constantly working in our souls. He did other things as well, such as inserting Himself into our history, dying, and rising again. However, apart from miracles, many of God’s actions are not actually scientific or deal with the laws of physics, because, as I said, God invented physics in the first place. Therefore, we should not expect any repeated consistencies in any even miraculous actions God does, as His main concern is with our spiritual wellbeing. Nor indeed do I think it is fair to God to do so. So yes, I agree with the first premise, but I am not sure I agree with what was probably intended by it.

2. Assume that God has specific attributes that should provide objective evidence for his existence.

As there are—for instance, His Omnibenevolence as is shown by the fact that we live in a moral universe where human beings are naturally disposed to praise good and punish evil or His Omnipotence, as is shown by the splendor of the universe, or His Oneness and Simplicity, as is shown by the general unity and fine-tuning of the universe. But, I assume, these people are not going to go with any of these.

3. Look for such evidence with an open mind.

That is good, and I applaud these people. However, if Mr. Stenger is looking by the method of the natural sciences for a being who is not part of the natural sciences or subject to them (He invented them), I think he is very much limiting his resources.

4. If such evidence is found, conclude that God may exist.

Very well. That is fair enough.

5. If such objective evidence is not found, conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that a God with these properties does not exist.

That is also fair enough. I agree with more of this than I expected. However, I am still somewhat afraid what they mean is “scientific evidence”, which is narrowing a field of study. But let us continue.

This is basically how science would disprove the existence of any alleged entity. If God existed, there should be concrete evidence of His existence—not faith, but tangible, measurable, consistent evidence that can be predicted and tested using the scientific method. If we fail to find that evidence, then God cannot exist as defined.

“Not faith”—I have heard atheists cling to that a lot and put an insane amount of emphasis on the words “faith” and “believe” as if to claim that we have no evidence because we use that term. Seriously, I beg of you, write to me if you wish: give me a single example of one situation, outside of religion, where anyone would use the word “believe” to mean “accept a claim without any evidence to back it up”. I doubt it will be easy to find such a circumstance.

Now, as for tangible and measurable evidence, why should I expect that when trying to consider an intangible and immeasurable Being? Yes, we do have evidence based on His actions in the universe—we are evidence based on His actions in the universe. However, I have the feeling these people are looking for something else. But seriously, I would like to see Mr. Cline’s tangible scientific evidence for the validity of the laws of logic, or his tangible scientific evidence for the validity of the laws of arithmetic, or even his tangible scientific evidence for the statement, “If God existed, there should be […] tangible, measurable, consistent evidence that can be predicted and tested using the scientific method.” None of these can be substantiated tangibly.

Of course, nothing in science is proven or disproven beyond a shadow of any possible doubt. In science, everything is provisional. Being provisional is not a weakness or a sign that a conclusion is weak. Being provisional is a smart, pragmatic tactic because we can never be sure what we’ll come across when we round the next corner. This lack of absolute certainty is a window through which many religious theists try to slip their god, but that’s not a valid move.

That is true, and I can respect that, because scientists are always dealing with only a limited supply of data, for which reason science always has to change as new evidence presented itself. However, with equal truth, I would argue that God, quite wisely, for this very reason, did not concern Himself with making Himself scientifically verifiable according to rules that were not put forward until the Seventeenth Century. Instead, He went for a method that could be used just as effectively by Aristotle as it could by Mr. Cline if he got his epistemology right. Philosophy does not have this same doubt that natural science does. Not everyone can understand the theory of general relativity, but they can understand the theory of the Prime Mover or that effects come from causes, thus leading to one necessary Uncaused Cause. That is a thing that is not contingent on scientific development. Now one can disagree with the choices of evidence God decided to give us, but in that case, all you are doing is disagreeing with your Creator. You are free to accept the evidence that you are given or not, but I do not think it is wise to refuse evidence before you just because it cannot be illustrated by fancy equations on whiteboards.

 In theory, it may be possible that someday we will come across new information that will lead us to further explore the God hypothesis. If the evidence described in the above argument were found, for example, that would justify a rational belief in the existence of the sort of god under consideration. It wouldn’t prove the existence of such a god beyond all doubt, though, because belief would still have to be provisional.

See my point above. Also, I would note Mr. Cline did not actually even address a single philosophical argument for God’s existence.

It may also be possible that the same could be true of an infinite number of other hypothetical beings and supernatural forces. Zeus or Odin, Christian or Hindu—every possibility of a God or gods is up for exploration.

But then again, most arguments for classical theism actually preclude the existence of Zeus or Odin, both of whom had causes of their own—the former having the Sky and Earth of his grandparents and the latter having a cow for his grandmother. Therefore, neither of them work in the theory of the “Prime Mover” or “Uncaused Cause”. 

Finally, for such a proposition as “God exists” to have meaning to science, we need to define what “existence” in this case means. When it comes to God or a series of gods, their existence is dependent on evidence that they have had or continue to have an impact on the universe. In order to prove impact on the universe, there must be measurable and testable events that could best or only be explained by whatever this “God” is we are hypothesizing. Believers must be able to present a model of the universe in which some god is “either required, productive, or useful.”

God might explain why we see a chain of causes and effects throughout the universe in a better way than an infinite string of causes would. God might also explain the reason the universe is finely tuned. I could elaborate on these reasons, but I see no reason why I should when Mr. Cline seems unwilling to bring them up.

This is obviously not the case. Many believers work hard trying to find a way to introduce their god into scientific explanations, but none have succeeded. No believer has been able to demonstrate, or even strongly suggest, that there are any events in the universe that require a supernatural being to explain.

Instead, these constantly failing attempts end up reinforcing the impression that there is no “there” there—nothing for “gods” to do, no role for them to play, and no reason to give them a second thought.

The fact that you feel that way is noted. Feel free to explain if you wish. You say we “constantly fail”—in other words, we do put forth evidence, albeit evidence you do not find conclusive. Therefore, you are aware that we have evidence but rather than addressing any of it, you just go ahead and argue that science proves God does not exist from the assumption that we have no evidence. If I thought there was no evidence for God’s existence, I would be an atheist. Prove to me that my evidence is wrong, and even if you cannot prove to me that God does not exist per se, I will cease to believe. I eagerly await for you to address any of it.

 So far, everyone who has tried to scientifically prove that God exists has failed. While it’s technically true that this doesn’t mean that no one ever will succeed, it is also true that in every other situation where such failures are so consistent, we don’t acknowledge rational or even serious reasons to bother believing.

And here the word “scientifically” is brought up again. The only way I could scientifically prove God exists is by pointing to various historical miracles. Although I find some rather convincing, I do not think they are necessary to show God exists. Nor indeed has Mr. Cline proven that a supernatural Being should be subject to the natural scientific method.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians

The Catechism On Muslims

This is an issue I have wanted to write about for a while now, but for some reason have never gotten around to it. I once ran into this passage some time ago and I was confused myself. The issue is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Muslims. Although I do not argue with what is meant by this passage, I do contend it was needlessly vague and probably ought to be revised. So let us jump into it. What does the Catechism say on Muslims? 

The quote says the following:

The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

CCC 841

One common objection I have heard to this quote is the idea that “they adore the one, merciful God”, being in some way heretical because they do not acknowledge the trinity or else people read it as a claim that Muslim worship is equal to Christian worship or something. First of all, the Jews do not believe in the Trinity either and I have trouble supposing that Moses, Elijah, and Abraham were idolaters. To quote the Catechism of St. Pious the Tenth about infidels “though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ, nor as to come; for instance, Mohammedans and the like.” (Those Outside the Communion of Saints, Q. 3, Emphasis added) So yes, Muslims do worship God. They have a number of extremely erroneous beliefs about God and many worship God in very heinous ways such as beheading the followers of Christ, but they still worship God. They are better off being numbered as heretics rather than idolaters. You can disagree with this statement, but all you are doing is disagreeing with the Magisterium.

Nevertheless, on first glance, I do see why someone might be confused by this paragraph. In the first place, how is “the plan of salvation” extended to Muslims who do not acknowledge the divinity of Christ? The Church teaches, of course, that she is the sole means of salvation (Lateran IV, Const. 1). Second, some might object to saying they are in the “first place” when we owe salvation first to the Jews. So, how can this be reconciled? 

This is actually a quote from the dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, promulgated in the Second Vatican Council. Here is a lengthier quote from the document:

In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

Lumen Gentium ¶16

This deserves some unpacking. In the first place, the line “we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh” is clearly talking about the Jews and they are mentioned before the Muslims, so I suppose the group of “those who acknowledge the Creator” is not including religions that were founded by the Creator. This is actually covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well, so see paragraph 839 for more details.

The second problem, however, is likely greater. In what sense does the plan for salvation include Muslims? Does the Second Vatican Council deny the doctrine that the Church is the sole means of salvation? The short answer is no, it does not. This is shown just two paragraphs before, the same dogmatic constitution states: “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved” (Lumen Gentium ¶14), so the document therefore clearly did not attack the doctrines of the Catholic Faith in that area.

What Lumen Gentium is doing, however, is reaffirming the doctrine on invincible ignorance. This is not a new doctrine. As early as 1863 by Pope Blessed Pius IX, who stated:

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.

Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 7

So is there salvation outside of the Church? No, there is not, but some people can be part of the Church implicitly without realizing it. To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church again, “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.” (¶1260) However, if one is aware that Christ formed the Catholic Church to save us all but then refuses to be part of it, I think it is fair to say such a person is going to hell.

So let us look again at the quote about Muslims. So, in what sense are they included in “the plan of salvation”? They are in the sense that everyone who tries to act justly is. Turning back to the paragraph in Lumen Gentium, it can be noted that that section of the document does not talk solely about Muslims. Let me quote this at length:

¶14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.” All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

¶15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.¶16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Emphasis Added)

So let me break this down. First, the document reaffirms the teaching that the Catholic Church is the sole means of salvation but then explains, first of all, that Catechumens are already part of the Church, in a way, through desire. Then the document recognizes non-Catholic Christians such as Protestants and Orthodox and all the good things within their doctrine that they have taken from the True Faith, followed by a call for Christian unity. Finally, it brings up non-Christians. The document commends the Jews for being the first to receive Divine Revelation, even before we did, and the Muslims for maintaining many Christian ideas. Then, it speaks of those who are not particularly religious, saying that they can still be saved, if they are nonreligious through no fault of their own.

Then finally and most importantly, the document says “Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.” In other words, Lumen Gentium is saying that we do still mean to bring them to the Catholic Church. However, the Church still recognizes the good things in those religions that we share and also recognizes that individual members of that faith may be part of that faith through no fault of their own, wherefore they are included in the “plan of salvation”.

Now once again, I grant that if someone just reads the short quotation in the Catechism, he might not understand this, and I think there is a fair argument that that paragraph should be revised to explain the context. Nevertheless, to say this is contrary to the idea that the Church is the sole path to Salvation is inaccurate. 

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Chivalric Apologist

On Non-Christians

Responding to the Atheistic Slogan: “There Is No Evidence”

One of the most common atheistic slogans a theist will hear (and, to many theists’ perspective, very often one of the most difficult) is the statement that “There is no evidence.” This is doubly difficult for theists when atheists claim that they do not need to defend this view in any way since one who affirms the negative never has the burden of proof. Now, although this is technically true, they are still placing a rather major burden upon themselves, seeing that now for any argument theists bring forward, they now have to defend the idea beyond all reasonable doubt that every single supposed argument theists bring up is not “evidence”, which is harder than it sounds.

The first question one must ask is: what is evidence? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary dictionary, evidence is defined as the following:

Evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

There are various types of evidence one might hear termed, as are classed, for example, in legal proceedings, including direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, hearsay evidence, documentary evidence, opinion evidence, and many others. Each type of evidence bears a different level of weight. However, none of them necessarily prove anything. Note the word indicating in the definition. Indication does not entail proof. For example, one piece of evidence for Earth being flat would be the fact that there is no sense of slipperiness on Earth’s surface, in general, as one tries to walk. This is real evidence of Earth being flat. However, most still take the position that the Earth is round, not because there is no evidence otherwise, but simply because the evidence for a round Earth, at the moment, seems to massively out-quantify any evidence to the contrary.

With this in mind, I can only quote the famous atheistic Oxford graduate of philosophy and theology, Alex O’Connor, in saying, “In the context of the God discussion, I think it is a ridiculous claim to suggest that there is no evidence for God.”

There are various bodies of evidence for God’s existence. One is contingent beings. Another is moral facts. A third is the fine-tuning of the universe. A fourth is the existence of miracle claims. Now, there are various debates, discussions, and dialogues about how this evidence ought to be interpreted (as well as many things that do not begin with “d-”, such as arguments, questions, and quarrels), but the evidence still exists.

Now, there are multiple kinds of evidence. Here, I would like to deal with two forms: direct and circumstantial. Direct evidence, in court, is evidence that supports an assertion directly without any need for inference. For example, if I were to say that it was sunny when I wrote this sentence, that would be direct evidence and could be assumed to be true provided only my witness is reliable.* Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, relies on inference. For instance, if I were to walk into a living room and see a litter box, I might suppose a cat lived there. However, that is not direct proof. Still, it is good evidence that can lean one toward being more likely to believe there is a cat living there rather than less. It is rare in the case of legal courts that any defendant can prove something with absolute certainty (a concept that some philosophers have claimed does not exist). Therefore, the jury must only go with what is the more reasonable of the two options.

With this in mind, I see why some might think that the evidence for God’s existence is inconclusive or not strong enough to lead one toward belief. However, it is absurd to imagine that there is no evidence for God whatsoever and the proposition is utterly indefensible and intellectually bankrupt. 

But what about empirical evidence?

At this point, an atheist will probably have no choice to admit this, but some might still argue that there is not empirical evidence for God, as opposed to philosophical evidence, and empirical evidence is necessary to rationally hold a view. In can anyone is confused, empirical evidence is evidence that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure, which is used in the sciences. I think this fails because there are many propositions one might hold to be true without empirical evidence. How are we to know that our senses are reliable in the first place to pick up on empirical evidence? In fact, the proposition, “All truth claims can only be declared through empirical evidence” is oxymoronic because that statement cannot be proven through empirical evidence.

So yes, there is evidence. There is a question about how this evidence could be interpreted, but it is intellectually indefensible to suppose that there is no evidence.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

*I neither confirm nor deny whether my witness is reliable in regard to the sun at this time.

On Non-Christians

In Defense of Testimonial Evidence For Miracles

What I have found while running this blog is that whenever I appeal to miracle evidence for God’s existence, a lot of atheists (though not all) seem to have a rather dismissive or even emotional response and refuse to even respond to the evidence. When they do that, I frequently can think of no other explanation than that they do not know much about it and are unwilling to admit their ignorance (although really, if they just admitted they do not know everything, I would not fault them) or else they are just so close-minded and wrapped up in their own conception of reality that they are unwilling to have an honest discussion with a theist about the possibility of miracles (in which case I wonder why they often comment on a Catholic blog). I appreciate honest discussion, but when people dismiss my arguments without discussing them or make a straw man claim, usually based around accusing me of making a circular reasoning or proof by assertion argument I never said, it can get irritating, in my opinion. I hope there is some better explanation as to why they are doing so, but if so, I wish they would explain it.

This is not, of course, to paint all atheists with the same brush. There are quite reasonable atheists who give actual reasons why they dismiss miracle claims worthy of note. Various epistemologists have argued that testimonial evidence is not enough to back up a miracle claim. If that was what they meant, it could have been said better, but that could be where some of the aforementioned impolite atheists were going with their arguments.

This is problematic to the Christian viewpoint, of course, since the main miracle claim of Christianity—the Resurrection—relies primarily on testimonial evidence. Other Church-approved miracles often do as well, such as the miracle of Fátima, which I firmly believe is easily enough to prove the existence of the supernatural. I believe there are other miracles, such as Eucharistic ones, that have been scientifically tested, as well as miracles such as Guadalupe where Juan Diego’s tilma has been miraculously preserved when it ought to have disintegrated. These are not backed up solely by testimonial evidence. Nevertheless, these are miracles for another time. For now, I will go into the value of testimonial evidence. Let us consider the objections.

Objection 1: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. However, testimonial evidence is, under no circumstance, extraordinary evidence, since testimonial evidence can easily be wrong, misrepresented, or misremembered. Therefore, as most religious miracle claims are based either primarily or solely on testimonial evidence, none can be considered sufficient evidence since any miracle claim is, by default, extraordinary.

To this, I respond that I agree to an extent. That is to say, I agree that it would take less evidence for me to believe someone who told me that it rained the other day than that flying hippos had fallen from the sky. However, what I always find is that atheists frequently say is that, “Testimonial evidence is not evidence.” I mean no offense to these atheists, but I think this is absurd. If one is going to claim that testimonial evidence is not evidence (and therefore a contradiction of terms), one must also claim that almost every other historical event. Without testimonial evidence, no one would know that Hannibal crossed the Alps in 218 BC, or that Constantine legalized Christianity in February of 313, or that Columbus was thought to have discovered America in 1492 even though people were there beforehand and he thought that he had discovered a new route to India, or that Lucy Pevensie thought she discovered Narnia in 1940 even though Digory and Polly had first (that last example about Narnia might be fictitious but oh well).

In other words, the idea that one cannot trust any testimonial evidence also rules out historical findings. It also, I might add, rules out journalistic or forensic findings. Obviously, nowadays testimonial evidence is not generally considered to be as reliable a means of determining what actually happened as, say, DNA evidence. However, it still is considered evidence, and the more witnesses who corroborate the story, the more credible a story seems.

Girls walking into wardrobes and finding other universes is very scientific.

To this, of course, an atheist might respond, “Well, I am not technically believing these things solely based on testimonial evidence because from what I have observed in the world, it seems plausible that a man could cross mountains on elephants or that a young girl could walk through a wardrobe into another universe”—maybe not this one but I am not letting go of the Narnia joke yet—“but then it becomes a question of timing and method, since, unlike a man rising from the dead, it is already plausible from my understanding of nature (I, as an atheist, happen to believe that Aslan rose from the dead since I believe the deeply Christian Narnia books are historical texts for some reason, but I still do not think a man could).”

Which one of these can an atheist more easily believe?

First of all, I think this still proves that testimonial evidence has some weight or else the fact that Polybius and other historians recorded Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps would not affect the credulity that it actually happened. So I would not think it should be hard for an atheist to grant that the biblical and historical accounts that reference the Resurrection should at least make it more plausible that it actually happened than it would otherwise be.

See this for more information on the Mandela Effect

Now, even if an atheist grants this, he might argue that this is still far below the bar of credulity and give examples to other incredible events which have been attested by eyewitnesses but are usually considered to be inaccurate. For instance, there was a politician named Nelson Mandela. I am mostly unfamiliar with him, although I imagine some of my readers might be (since, of course, I am several decades younger than many of my readers). Still, for this discussion, I do not actually need to know much about him, except that he supposedly died in the Eighties only he really did not. This has led to a fair amount of outlandish speculation, such as that this is actually the result of a time-travel paradox because two timelines were running parallel to each other and merged or something along those lines. If that sounds like a plot point straight out of Doctor Who, that is because it does.

Whether anyone actually believes this sort of thing or not is a question up for debate, but allegedly over five hundred people believe they remember the news of Nelson Mandela’s death and funeral. But there are fairly reasonable explanations for this. Nelson Mandela was in prison at various points in the 80s. At the same time, a man named Samora Machel, a man who, like Mandela, was another African man who opposed the apartheid, died in a 1986 plane crash. Hence, people who may not have been paying attention to such things may have mistakenly confused the two figures.

Nelson Mandela (Left), Samora Machel (Right)

Another example is that a lot of the time, when people are dealing with traumatic events, they can misremember things more easily. For instance, if one is in the middle of a violent riot, someone might be led to believe that a statue was destroyed when it was really just struck or something. This I freely grant.

However, I think miracle claims can supersede these instances, however. Someone can be confused about news reports as to who actually died, but one cannot so easily be confused as to how their friend came back from the dead, made a fire for them, and cooked fish. To say all the apostles hallucinated the entire experience for an extended period of time, not to mention, according to St. Paul, five hundred people, especially since they presumably were not on an acid trip, would be perhaps more incredible than a miracle unless an atheist can find a specific logical contradiction in the idea of a transcendent and supernatural being that is more compelling than this, which I think would be hard to do.

And keep in mind, the idea that Jesus simply swooned and revived later, I think, is equally incredible since the Romans knew what they were doing and, frankly, the idea that after receiving the most brutal death of His day, Jesus could convincingly return with no injuries further than a few scars in his hands and side is likewise a miracle in and of itself.

And yes, for other miracles, such as the Miracle of the Sun at Fátima, it may not be quite so extreme, but as I said, thousands of people, including many atheists and people who were unaware of the prediction miles around, saw the miracle in the sky. People do not just magically end up in a trance-like state because a few young children said a miracle would happen. Again, this seems so incredible that I just might rather believe in a miracle.

So yes, I understand being skeptical about testimonial evidence for miracle claims, but I think when the evidence gets massive enough, it can outweigh evidence to the contrary. The only way I think one can say that it does not is if one can prove God does not exist, and even most atheists would rather say, “There is insufficient evidence for God’s existence” than “there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Objection 2: With all claims of miracles made, there is inadequate witness testimony. Witnesses must be well educated and intelligent. They should have a reputation to lose and nothing to gain from their claim. There must be a sufficient number of witnesses in order for a claim to be considered. Humans love the fantastic and naturally desire to believe in miracles, while theists seek to promote their religion. Hence, any miracle can be dismissed.

To this, I respond that although the objector would be right to claim that miracles require adequate evidence, I would contend that some miracles have as such. As an example, Paul writes that Jesus “was seen by more than five hundred brethren at once: of whom many remain until this present, and some are fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:6, DRA) Now, even if we treat the Bible as simply a historical text, this is a sweeping claim to say that almost five hundred people, living at the time this was written, could testify to the same event and it is easily falsifiable—and as far as we know, not a single one of them ever recanted. If this really were untrue, I would expect a much smaller number of supposed eye-witnesses.

Now one might claim that people have a natural desire to believe in miracles—I wonder how that got into the human psyche—that is true, but I think that can be weighed out by negatives for making out a miracle. In the case of the disciples of Jesus, other than the sheer probability that not a single one would recant, why would they lay down their lives for something they knew to be a lie? In short, this could be a good enough argument to dismiss some miracle claims, but not out of hand.

Objection 3: Many miracle claims were made by the uneducated at barbarous times. Such claims made by peasants, fishermen, and the illiterate are inadequate for credibility in a miracle claim.

To this, I respond that this strikes be as being very close to an ad hominem—“You are uneducated and therefore you cannot recognize that your friend did not actually rise from the dead or the sun did not dance in the sky.” It does not take a brilliant scientist to know these things do not happen.

Nor does this disprove modern miracle claims, which still exist in recent history. I referenced the example of the Miracle of the Sun at Fátima. Yes, it was predicted by three illiterate children, but in this case, I think it actually strengthens the miracle’s probability. Three children—not astronomers or meteorologists—predicted that a miracle would occur at a specific time and at that time, the sun danced in the sky and the rain suddenly dried up all at once, as was witnessed by tens of thousands of people, including both atheists who had come to mock and people who had not even heard of the miracle (see more information here). I can think of no more plausible explanation for these events than a miracle.

Objection 4: Miracles of other religions can be seen to rule each other out. Miracles from Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam, for instance, preclude the miracles of Christianity. As such, rather than picking at random, one should deny all miracle claims.

To this, I respond that I think this entire argument assumes the assumption that all miracle claims have equal evidence, which I dispute. I do not intend to defend everything here, as that has been done elsewhere. However, it would be interesting to see atheists rank the credibility of miracle claims from major religions. Even if they find none of them to pass the bar of credulity, I can only imagine any open-minded atheist would find some miracle claims more credible than others. To quote atheist-turned-deist Antony Flew (who obviously does not believe in the resurrection):

Anthony Flew

“The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity, I think, from the evidence offered for the occurrence of most other supposedly miraculous events.”

Habermas, Gary R., and Flew, Antony. Did the Resurrection Happen? A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew. United States, InterVarsity Press, 2009, 85.

So again, I do not think this argument is very strong unless one is going to say that every miracle claim has the exact same level of credulity.

Objection 5: Many times prior to this point, people have assumed that mysterious events were the result of supernatural events. For instance, the Norsemen believed that thunderstorms were the result of Thor throwing a temper tantrum. Therefore, even if these so-called miracles have yet to be explained, can it not be that they may be in the future by future scientific developments?

This is possibly a picture of the Marvel version, but oh well.

To this, I respond that I think the sufficiency of the “God-in-the-gaps” line of reasoning. Now, in the case of thunderstorms, these are a general occurrence that even the Vikings could tell was in line with the natural world as they knew it, even if they got the cause wrong. However, events such as a man rising from the dead are just a thing that does not happen and goes against every principle we know about the natural fate of the dead. So yes, we should try to be skeptical about miracle claims to an extent, but this staunch “No event could ever prove that God exists because we do not know everything about science” approach—which, if some atheists were honest, would probably be what they would say—frankly seems to me unscientific.

What the atheist is doing here is a case of the fallacy of the argument from ignorance, which asserts, in this case, that a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true. A claim is falsifiable if evidence can be presented that can disprove it. As an example, the theory of evolution, as we understand it, could be falsified if fossilized modern animals. Similarly, atheism can be falsified if one can prove God exists. However, if one keeps on insisting that I am making a “God in the gaps” fallacy, then what will satisfy them? I, like Descartes, personally fall into the philosophical line of thought that a person can hardly have indubitable certainty about everything, except, of course, “I think therefore I am.”

So if an atheist is going to remain an atheist, he has two options—either he must admit that no amount of evidence could satisfy the “God-in-the-gaps” objection and prove God exists or else set some sort of standard for when supernatural claims can be proven true. This includes a bar of evidence to satisfy a miracle claim.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians

The Fundamental Inconsistency in Atheistic Criticisms on Divine Morality in Scripture

I know that title was a mouthful, but I could not think of a better one. At least I am not the man who used the phrase, “The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute” in the opening crawl of a movie meant for eight-year-olds (I am joking—I love The Phantom Menace). Take that to mean I respect the reader’s intelligence. Let us start this article another way—this quote works.

“The God of the Old Testament,” says Richard Dawkins, “is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”  

This is horrible humor, but it is comforting to know that there was a time, not too long ago, when you could say this to a man without being canceled.

Now, I would probably disagree with a lot of this—well, all of it, except for the sentence arguably because anything can technically be argued. I had to look up what “sadomasochistic” means, but I have no idea how anyone would derive that from the Old Testament. God is pure spirit and therefore cannot derive pleasure from that sort of thing. I was surprised by the word homophobic since he said this in 2006 which is only four years after that Spider-Man movie came out with an absolutely agonizing joke, but that is for another time (I was born in 2005 and have no background for how people thought back then, so I go by movies; anyway, the Bible does not speak much about same-sex relations, save once or twice).

Now, obviously, all I am currently doing is joking about Dawkins’ favorite adjectives without examining the context. I can only assume that whatever Bible verses Dawkins is using are mostly either misinterpreted or taken out of context. I am not planning on responding to any of them.

I know, it is shocking, is it not? I may respond to them in another post, giving a more detailed explanation of every individual misinterpreted passage that people claim to mean God is doing something evil. But this is not that argument. Instead, I would like to talk about the fundamental problem with this statement. That is that there is no reason, given the atheistic worldview, that anyone could accuse God of being evil. Let me explain.

Atheists differ on precisely what their view is on morality. I personally believe that it is impossible for a real moral system to exist without a transcendent Being. However, most atheists with whom I have spoken argue that morality is an evolutionary concept resulting from altruism—the behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense for the sake of the survival of a species. There may be some exceptions, but most atheists seem to see morality as a human invention necessary for society to thrive.

Now here is my qualm with this argument: how can a Divine Being, who is transcendent of human society, how can He be blameworthy for things that are wrong only for humans? After all, God is superior to us infinitely in intelligence and in power. If morality is simply subjective or a human construct (as many atheists claim), how can God be morally reprehensible for breaking it with his own creation? This does not make God evil any more than it would be immoral for an artist to through his own painting into a fire.

Of course, I do not hold that God is as careless about His creation as a human being can be about paint, but at the same time, I think that calls into question the atheistic worldview.

To this, an atheist might say that that is their worldview of morality. What they are doing is making a critique of the theistic worldview. The theistic worldview is that God is the absolute standard for morality. Therefore, if God’s behavior is immoral, He is breaking His own rules.

I doubt that is what Dawkins meant, considering his description (after all, Christians and Jews generally oppose same-sex marriage, so the word “homophobic” would bear no weight on them). However, more importantly, if the atheist is going to make this charge, remember, he is playing by my rules.

None of this is to say that a Christian should not respond individually to whatever interpretation of Scripture makes God an “unforgiving control-freak” (see Malachi 3:7) or “sadomasochistic” (wherever that came from), but all the same, if we are talking about God killing people, from a Christian worldview, why should this matter? God gave life and therefore, unlike us, has the power to take it. He never intended this life on Earth to be our final destination, and if those who died went to heaven, they would be happier than on Earth. If they went to hell, that is sad, but they only have themselves to blame. I wrote on hell here, so feel free to check it out. I will possibly write another one at another time.

So no, the very claim that the God of the Bible is evil is weak, to say the least, and easily discredited by the evidence in favor of the existence of a God and a good one.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians

Proofs for the Immortal Soul

It is hard to define exactly what a soul is, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church says the following: 

The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that “then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God. ¶362

So, one could say the soul is the spiritual element, as it were, to the nature of a human being, the one which is made in the image and likeness of God, which animates the body—the unifying and vivifying principle that accounts for the life and what philosophers call the “immanent action” of all living things. By calling it immortal in humans, we mean that it was made by God to never cease to exist. Some spiritualists (especially spiritual atheists) with whom I have spoken believe the soul dies with the body.

Now, it can be hard for skeptics to understand the logical necessity of the immortal soul, considering that technology has progressed and scientists have been learning more and more about the brain. Still, I hope to fully elaborate how even now the immortal soul is the best explanation for what we see in mankind.

Categories of Soul

Now, human beings are not the only creatures with a soul. There are three categories of souls, vegetative, sensitive, and rational. Vegetative souls empower their hosts to be able to take in nutrition and hydration, grow, and reproduce others of its kind, such as in the case of plants. Sensitive souls can also acquire sense knowledge and use locomotion to both ward off danger and to gather goods it needs to survive and thrive.

Now, these first two are material in nature and are entirely dependent upon the material body for their existence. In other words, when the host dies, the vegetative or sensitive soul ceases to exist.

However, rational souls are capable of everything above and more. They are capable of acquiring intellectual, or “spiritual,” knowledge as well, and of choosing to freely act toward chosen ends.


Now, a Catholic would define death quite simply as the separation of the soul from the body. Another definition, which could encompass all living things rather than only humans, might be the reduction of a composite being into its component parts—provided one does not mind that euphemism for corpses decaying, at any rate.

Now, a spirit cannot have component parts since it is not made out of matter. So one must prove that there is a real “spiritual” nature to a man.

Body and Soul

Now, a man is both body and soul together. A soul of a man gives him the power to know and will. Now, an objector might point out that the brain exists. The soul ordinarily needs a properly functioning brain to be able to come to know anything, but that is different. As an example, there was a neurosurgeon named Wilder Penfield who electrically stimulated the brains of epilepsy patients and found he could cause them to move their arms or legs, turn their heads or eyes, talk or swallow.

So who really did these actions? Surely it was Penfield, not the patient who did these actions. However, it does not seem that anyone could have caused these patients to believe or decide. So it seems that the soul and body together contribute to who a man is.

Proofs for the Soul

1. The Intellect Possesses the Power of Abstraction
Now, one can tell the nature of a thing by examining its actions. Therefore, the spiritual nature of the soul can be determined by any spiritual actions we encounter. One such action is the power of abstraction.

Let me show an example of this: let us say we see a man. Let us call him Archibald. Now, anyone who sees Archibald sees Archibald’s head, neck, hands, and other body parts. With an x-ray, he might even sort of see his intestines. However, from this, a man might abstract the idea of Archibald as a person, and not only this, but go so far as to abstract from Archibald the quality of being a man.

Now, an animal, of course, is able to recognize a material likeness between various men or various dogs or various pigs and so forth. But that is different from abstraction. No dog can abstract the idea of mankind.

Now, imagine a tree—a woody perennial plant having a single usually elongate main stem generally with few or no branches on its lower part. Anyone who understands this understands treeness. Even if every tree on earth were burned down, the idea of tree would still exist.

As I said, action follows being. If the soul has this spiritual power to “abstract” the form of “tree,” or “man,” it must be spiritual. And if the soul is spiritual, it has to be immortal. It cannot be reduced to its component parts.

2. The Soul Forms Ideas of Realities That Are Immaterial
But if this alone is not enough, the soul can determine more than that. There are also “transcendent” abstracts, as it were, that humans can understand, for instance, logical sequence, moral goodness, property rights, philosophical categories like substance, accidents, cause and effect, and so forth.

But these are not sensible realities. They have no color, size, or any other such thing. These are, by definition, immaterially.

To understand a spiritual reality, one must come from a spiritual principle, and a spiritual principle cannot die.

3. The Will Strives for Immaterial Goods
Closely related to the previous proofs, the will also has the power to strive for immaterial goods, such as justice, love, temperance, and hope. One cannot produce such things if he is not spiritual in nature. Therefore, a man must have a spiritual principle to will spiritual realities.

4. The Intellect Can Reflect Upon Its Own Act of Knowledge
A material faculty, such as the power of vision, only reacts in response to external stimuli. But the intellect can reflect on the abstract of knowledge in and of itself. It can only be said to perceive if one aspect of man acted upon another. This only works with an immortal soul.

5. Man Has a Natural Desire to Live Forever.
The existence of acorns necessitates the existence of oak trees. Not all individual acorns will be actualized into oak trees, but if no acorns could be actualized, there would be no oak trees.

Here is another example: the digestive system of animals necessitates the existence of food. Therefore, if there were no food, no animal could survive.

So man has a natural desire to live forever. However, such a naturally ingrained desire, if not actualized, as seen by these examples, could destroy a species.

So if man desires to live forever, it must be possible to actualize that desire. Otherwise would be contrary to everything we see in nature. So a part of man is immortal.

6. The Testimony of Mankind Over the History
From ancient Egypt’s Book of the Dead, almost every culture has testified to the existence of an afterlife. Now, an objector would point out that there are a few exceptions such as Hinayana (or Theravedic) Buddhism, that deny the existence of “spirit,” or the soul. 

However, it should be noted that Mahayana Buddhism which restores the believe in spirit and is by far the largest form of Buddhism, showing which idea is the most attractive to most people. So it seems man is ordered to believe in the afterlife.

7. The Existence of the Moral Law

The final proof is that the moral law can be known apart from Divine Revelation. It is within human nature to reward virtue and punish evil. Since virtue often goes unrewarded and vice often goes unpunished, it seems reasonable that there will be an eternity where all is rectified.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians

A Philosophical Defense of God’s Goodness

I hopefully did not place too many complicated words in the title. In short, this is supposed to be a philosophical defense of it is logical to suppose “God”—the Supreme Act of Being and Prime Mover of the Universe—is all good.

As a Christian, I obviously think God is good. As the Scripture says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalms 34:8) However, I do not wish to discuss Scripture at this time. The first thing I would like to point out that the following argument is a philosophical one. The biblical argument will come another day. I am pointing this since I already would guess that I will receive a comment, no matter what I say, that will go something along these lines:

“Thou wicked Fenian! How dare thou say that thy God is good? Is he not the one guilty of great massacres and genocides in the Old Testament, beginning with the Great Deluge up through the Book of Malachi?”

I do not know of any particular genocides mentioned in Malachi, but the point is taken. I should say this is how I wish people would comment. Real impolite atheists are nowhere near as eloquent. Also, I am not exactly a Fenian, per se, since although I am of Irish descent, it is not really an important part of my culture, so this here rhetorical straw man atheist is not entirely right in his accusation (or her accusation—who is to say?).

The following arguments are adapted primarily from Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Question 6, so feel free to check that out. Aquinas was a greater genius than I will ever be. Without further ado, let us begin.

Objection 1: Good is an ordered thing and there are each individual levels of goodness which can be attributed to an individual but are separate to those individuals. Classical theism espouses Divine Simplicity, meaning everything God has, God is. Besides, good is something that is desired for its own sake. Everyone or basically everyone desires at very least what he or she perceives as good, and that person will only really be content if it is actually a true good, which is an idea to which I think even many atheists might relate. However, all things do not desire God, since not all people even know God, per se. Therefore goodness cannot belong to God.

To this I respond that a natural order or degree of a good results from a caused good. In other words, human goodness is caused by something other than goodness. However, goodness naturally belongs to God’s nature. Since God is the standard of goodness, He is the one who imposes the attribute of goodness on others. Therefore, goodness exists within God as God as the cause. 

As for the idea that all things desire good, but not everyone has even heard of God, I would say that everyone who desires perfection implicitly desires God, from whom all goodness comes. I would actually argue that this is a strong argument for God’s goodness, since basically everyone has a natural attraction toward good and an aversion to evil. Therefore, if God exists and designed human beings, it makes sense that that God would be good. Hence anyone who seeks goodness, seeks God.

Objection 2: It would seem that God is not good per se, for if He is the highest good (which is the only thing possible for a supreme Being), He must add something to the regular good that humans possess, which would make God compound rather than simple as classical theism states, or alternatively imply comparison in levels of goodness with other things, which would place God in the same class as other things, which would be absurd since God is the Creator of all things. Hence, it would be easier to say that God is morally neutral in some way.

To this I respond that by calling God supremely good, what we are implying is a relation, not an addition. In this relation, the lesser goodness of man depends on the supreme goodness of God. Thus, it is not necessary that there should be composition in the Supreme Good, but only that other things are deficient in comparison with said Good.

Similarly, we can say that things of different classes are not exactly comparable with each other. Now when we say that God is not of the same class as other good things, we do not say that He is of a different class but rather that He is outside the subject of class, save that He is a class unto Himself, since God is the cause of every class of things. Thus, by a similar logic, God can be seen in comparison to things that are of Him—namely, His creation.

Objection 3: It would seem that God is evil, for many evils, even pointless evils, exist and God does nothing about them. If God were truly all powerful and all good, evil would not exist.

To this I respond that God did not make evil, as many like to claim. Some might point out thousands of forest fires that kill thousands of koalas and ice-fires that kill thousands of penguins or whatever (what is an ice-fire?), but it should be remembered that the fire that burns is also the fire that warms and cooks. So fire is not evil. Rather, it is the misuse of fire that is evil.

Now, the skeptic might still ask: even if God does not directly create things that are evil, does He not, by making things that can cause evil, when He could have created a universe wherein the contents cannot cause unjustified harm, and yes, God is able to do that. However, God being able to do that does not mean it is necessarily the best thing.

A common thought experiment which I have heard is this: “If you were given a chance to press a button that would split all animal suffering in half, would you do so?” The idea behind this is that if the theist says yes, he would be admitting that it would be better if animals suffer less, and if a theist says no, he would be going against what is (allegedly) a common moral intuition.

The problem I have with this is that I cannot even visualize what this would look like. Is it suggesting that the button would dull animal pain by fifty percent? That could lead the animals to be unaware of potential harm that might come to them from predators or natural disasters. Or would fewer mishaps happen to animals than people because people can benefit from suffering more than animals? But what would that mean? Would the laws of physics be changed? I can hardly even conceptualize what this theoretical world would look like. Therefore, I think it greatly unreasonable to expect God to create a world we cannot even conceptualize and then say we can guarantee it will be better. Perhaps it is ultimately better that our laws of physics are more fixed.

For more information, see my thoughts here (featuring Archibald Asparagus—do not ask; read).

So how is God good?

There are a couple of ways to consider how God must be good. I will give three philosophical reasons why God is good—necessarily, supremely, and essentially.

 First, God is good necessarily, for whatever is good is what is desirable for a being to move toward perfection. Now everything subsists in God insofar as God holds everything within existence. God is the all-powerful source of everything. Therefore, it makes sense that God would be the perfection of everything.

Second, all desired perfections flow from him as the first cause. A skeptic would probably say that evil also exists in the universe and flows from God. However, as I said earlier, it is human nature, when naturally ordered, to praise good and punish evil. Obviously, not everyone agrees on what good and evil are, but everyone or almost everyone is seeking the moral law—making it seem that evil is a lack of something, namely divine perfection (more on the moral argument here). Hence it is logical that all good flows from God.

Third, we call something good insofar as it approaches the perfection of its nature. There are three ways in which a thing can be perfected. In part, it can be on account of the good in its own being—in other words, a being can in and of itself be good. Second, an accident, that is, a property of a thing which is not essential to its nature, can be added in order to perfect a thing. Third, a thing can be perfected insofar as it obtains its end—for instance, a waffle maker that is perfected by obtaining the ability to successfully make waffles. A thing can be good in all three ways. Water can be considered good in and of itself by existence, insofar as it is an intrinsically beautiful thing. Second, it can be considered good insofar as it is wet. Finally, water can be considered good insofar as it washes and quenches thirst. 

Of course, neither water nor waffle-makers have these goods in perfection. Now God has no accidents (a topic which perhaps I can explore to a greater extent in a later article, but for now, know that God is supremely Simple). Similarly, God is the Supreme Act of Being who set everything else into existence, so He cannot be seen as good in regards to any end outside of Himself. Therefore, God must be good in the first sense, intrinsically to His nature. Therefore, God is goodness itself, due to the doctrine of Divine Simplicity.

Now, one objection to this might be that everything that exists is, by its existence, good, wherefore all things are essentially good. However, God’s essence is simple and therefore undivided both actually and potentially, but ours is compound and therefore only actually divided. To put this into laymen’s terms (since many of my readers are not clergy), an actual division of an essence is the way a thing’s intrinsic nature is realized now. A potential division of an essence is the way a thing’s intrinsic nature could exist in the future, which presently only exists as a seed to be evolved. Therefore, created things are not good essentially because it is logically possible for them not to exist.

So yes, God is good and must be good, philosophically speaking. After that long and exhausting article, which was mostly a simplification of Thomas Aquinas, I rest my case. Feel free to read the Summa Theologica if you feel like it. Maybe someone else will understand it better than I do.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians

The Teleological Argument For God’s Existence

Most people, I would note, do not even know what the word “teleology” means. In case anyone reading is not humble enough (or diligent enough) to google it or look it up in a Dictionary as people always did before the internet, since most of my readers remember that (I am still a denarian who does not remember such times—denarian, and there is a word the reader can look up!), I will simply define it. The word teleological comes from the Greek words telos ‘end’ and logia ‘word’. The word teleology more or less means ‘the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes.’

So what exactly is the teleological argument for God’s existence? Briefly, wherever there is order, there is a plan. In an arrangement of means to maintain an end, there is order. The arrangement of means to attain an end is what is meant by a plan. Now, no one would say that Starry Night grew out of thin air, even if he had never seen it before. But the universe has great beauty, variety, and grandeur surpassing the best of human craftsmanship. But if there is such a plan, such a design, is it not reasonable to assume that there is a designer? As with any argument for God’s existence, there will be many objections atheists bring forward. Let us deal with it one at a time.

I don’t know. Maybe the reader just thinks this could be the result of paint cans splattered randomly on a canvas.
Here is a monkey on a laptop—it is the twenty-first century.

Objection 1: According to the infinite monkey theorem a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. Similarly, given a limited number of atoms swirling around for an infinite amount of time in the universe, eventually the universe is bound to produce life and intelligence.

To this I respond that I think the analogy is very unreasonable, first because the intricacy of the universe is far too advanced and second because according to all scientific studies, we are not given an infinite amount of time. Even by some of the longest standards, it seems the Earth is not much older than around 13 billion years. There is such a thing as the multiverse theory, but it remains to be proven. Second, I think this defies probability. Anyone who sees a cellphone intricately engineered would assume it was manmade. But the universe is far more complicated than a cellphone. But with something so complicated, so beautiful, I think it would be highly unreasonable to assume that it was not made by an artist—not unless there is powerful evidence to signify otherwise.

Objection 2: According to the theory of natural selection, the genetic characteristics of the organism which actually interact with the environment and give a reproductive advantage may become more common in a population over time, resulting in populations that specialize for particular ecological niches. Therefore, it does not seem unlikely that individual species would end up evolving in the best possible way.

To this I respond that I meant the universe as a whole and not just animals. Whether star systems can exist by an astronomical version of natural selection, I do not know. But even so, what this objection is basically saying is that survival explains functions. I say rather that functions explain survival. In other words, the first arrival of the feature would already have a function. Functions would account for the eventual survival of the species. 

There are many things in nature that some atheists claim are “useless” or “poorly designed”. One of my favorite examples is the seahorse, which gives up its fins for a tail. However, I have never been able to take these ideas seriously. We do not know why an omniscient God would give a seahorse a tail rather than fins, but we do not know everything there is to know about biology. If we did, I can only assume, considering the data we have already, we would see the massive wisdom in the originally intended habitat of a seahorse for the animal to have a tail rather than fins. We are beautifully and wonderfully made.

To this, a materialist, I imagine, would point out supposedly “useless” aspects of nature. To give examples of the human body, it was long thought that the tonsils and the appendix are useless. The former serve as the immune system’s first line of defense against ingested or inhaled foreign pathogens. The latter serves as a reservoir for beneficial gut bacteria.

Objection 3: It should be noted, however, what great suffering exists in the world. Between fires, vermin, mosquitos, and bacteria, thousands, if not millions, of lives are cut short. Surely, if there were a benevolent God, he must have made a mistake, which disproves the principles of teleology according to the doctrines of Classical Theism.

To this I respond that it should be remembered that these aforementioned things are not in and of themselves bad. Rats have a reputation for carrying diseases, but that is only because they are infected themselves. Female mosquitos use blood so that their offspring might be stronger and more numerous (which, I imagine, is what any mother would want for her children).

I write more on the problem of suffering here, but for now, let us just say that no suffering exists without a purpose. Everything exists within a greater framework and this does not negate the order and architecture of the world, which could only be designed by a Master Builder.

So it is most reasonable to believe that the universe has a designer, just as one would assume that a painting has an artist. Therefore, I think this is the most plausible explanation of the order we see unless powerful evidence is presented otherwise.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Catholics

A Response to Club Schadenfreude’s “You Can See How Crazy Christians Can Be.”

I found an article called “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – you too can see how crazy Christians can be.” In itself, this does not really seem to be the most polite title. I decided to respond to it because… well, I do not really know why, but I see no reason why not—and then, abortion is an important issue. It is written by someone called Club Schadenfreude. I banned her from commenting on my blog a while ago because she was harassing other commenters and thus, in my mind, preventing honest dialogue. However, that is something I really do not like to do, so I thought I might as well make it up to her in a much more temperate climate of responding to a blog post. Without further ado, let us jump into it.

To begin with, she is apparently responding to a fellow Catholic who writes under the name Kristor. See his article here. The article is so short I might as well quote the whole thing here:

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court cheat Moloch of his accustomed cheap comestibles. He’ll have to make do with less. But, as with all natural systems under the orbit of the moon, this is a case of pushing the envelope in one way only to see it bulge out in another. Moloch will be served, adequately, or there’ll be hell to pay, and no pitch hot.

There will be deaths. Not of children in the womb, but of others. Moloch must be fed, by his slaves. Now that he’ll be denied the food of babies from so many “trigger” states, he’ll need to be fed in some other way. His vassals will try to figure out how  to immolate some high profile victims, to sate his hunger and avert his wrath. I suspect they’ll offer up some from among their own company.

It can’t work. It can’t suffice. His wrath shall inevitably consume all his worshippers. There are not victims enough to sate his lust. His servants then are doomed.

Reject him! Serve the Lord of Life! Only thereby might you prevent your own ingestion, and dissolution, in the insatiable maw of Moloch.

I might as well give my own thoughts before responding to Schadenfreude’s. I admit this is somewhat dramatic and sensational—clearly not meant to be read by the Pro-Choice but rather to inspire Pro-Lifers. Still, I will not say he is wrong, provided we take “Moloch” in a somewhat metaphorical sense. Now let us get to Schadenfreude’s response.

No Moloch, dears, and no Christian god. I do love the lies of Christians, who have no problem with their god killing children at all. The hypocrisy is wonderful. And it’s always good to see an impotent imaginary god that can’t get rid of another imaginary god.

Lest there is any doubt, this is definably not how anyone should approach apologetics, whether Christian or atheist. Intellectual virtue consists of a character that promotes intellectual flourishing, critical thinking, and the pursuit of truth. Random and on-the-spot accusations of lying, coupled with random, impromptu, and impolite pieces of sarcasm is basically the opposite of that.

Literally, the only people left who are happy with human sacrifice are Christians. We see this in their myths (a babe born in a manger and Jephtha’s daughter for starters), in unfortunately common actions where Christians think their god will heal a child and let the child die, and now in their need to sacrifice women. 

I wonder if she is using the term literally metaphorically. I honestly cannot tell, but if she is not, I greatly doubt that. At any rate, I do not see how she can excludes Muslim and Jews by her criteria—not to mention anyone who actually worships such demons.

But I might as well respond to this actual argument. Remember, God gave life in the first place, but He never intended it to be permanent on Earth. It is our calling to be with Him in heaven. It is easily in God’s rights to take His children when He wills, while it is not within the rights of men who do not have authority over life and death. When you look at it that way, this reasoning could be said to be quite logical, even if it is hard for us to see in this life. Besides, if we are just talking about children here, chances are many of them will go to heaven when otherwise, for all we know, perhaps they would not.

Something I’ve found out recently is that the Catholic Church doesn’t allow baptism for the still-born, nor can a mass be said (more information down in the comments). Why? Because they haven’t taken their first breath and therefore aren’t alive. Now, funny how this isn’t what they claim about abortion at all. Now, Christians other than Catholics might be insisting that they don’t believe in this, but funny how they all read from the same bible, and it also says life begins with the first breath too. As always, the bible and its god is no more than a Rorschach test, showing what the human wants to pretend is true, nothing more. 

This is a clear example of taking a doctrine out of context so as to imply that the Catholic Church is in some way hypocritical, which as it is framed, could be said to be intellectually dishonest if done deliberately. The Catholic Church does not allow for baptism of a stillborn—or baptism for any other corpse. The Church also would not baptize the corpse of a catechumen who dies in a car accident or a baby who was born alive and then got his head chopped off by an evil serial killer of a doctor (sorry to give the reader nightmares, but that was the only example that came to mind). The Church only has power over the living. As for the dead, we entrust them to the mercy of God and hope that they are saved. 

As for banning masses to be said for them, that is not entirely accurate. I will say I imagine it is not done as much because few theologians think they are in Purgatory and they are probably either in Heaven or Limbo. In the comment she links, she claims, “My point about baptism is that if a fertilized egg, zygote, fetus is considered “alive”, then the RCC should be baptizing them as soon as the woman has a positive pregnancy test.” I was under the impression that “RCC” was simply Protestant slang, but that is beside the point. The point is that it seems quite difficult to me to baptize an embryo unless you expect a priest to have the doctor temporarily remove the baby from the uterus for a baptism, which seems very unsafe.

But as for embryos and fetuses being “alive”, science alone tells us that and indeed that a fetus is an independant organism. As for us reading the same Bible, this feels like grasping at straws—either that or not really understanding the root differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. It is true that it is troubling that all Protestants follow the exact same method of learning about God but then cannot agree on anything. I discuss this inn greater depth here. Catholics, however, have a teaching authority to keep them on the same track and follow both Scripture and Tradition, which leads to doctrinal unity.

To this, I foresee the objection that not all non-Protestant Christians are Catholic. The Orthodox Church is still huge and then there are also High Anglicans, who are not quite Protestant, Old Catholics, Sedevacantists, and Beneplenists to name a few. I will simply knock off Sedevacantists and Beneplenists from the list since I think the whole thing results from a misunderstanding of Canon Law (no offense to anyone reading this who espouses such views—I deal with them elsewhere). The Orthodox and Anglicans do not have quite the same tradition, although it is very similar. Hence, it can be noted that there is a lot less doctrinal variation among us than there is among Protestants. I would argue that Catholicism best reflects the Early Church, but whatever is the case, simply stating that “You all disagree with each other and therefore you must all be wrong” is simply unsound logic.

I should probably respond to the last sentence, “As always, the bible and its god is no more than a Rorschach test, showing what the human wants to pretend is true, nothing more.” This is the fallacy of bulverism. Bulverism is a term humorously coined by C. S. Lewis after an imaginary character. It is a rhetorical fallacy that assumes a speaker’s argument is invalid or false and then explains why the speaker came to make that mistake or to be so silly (even if the opponent’s claim is actually right) by attacking the speaker or the speaker’s motive. Now, the objector might claim that Schadenfreude (I can never remember how to spell that) explained why this is wrong before making this psychoanalysis. However, even if Christianity contained an alleged contradiction, it would not follow that we are all liars, unless she expects us to be infallible gods—and, as we know, Schadenfreude does not believe in gods—we could just be much more charitable than to go around accusing people of being liars.

So what does this teach us? First of all, be mindful of intellectual vices which do not promote charity in dialogue and apologetics. Second, when you find a two-thousand-year-old system of faith and think you can refute it by an alleged simple contradiction in a few paragraphs, keep in mind that you might have to do more research before you think you have refuted this organization. Generally, when millions of people hold to a viewpoint, especially one as historically intellectual as Catholicism, I think it is unrealistic to suppose one can refute the idea so easily—which is why I think it is, in fact, irrational, to go around accusing us of intentional deceit.

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor

On Non-Christians


“Believe”—I cannot tell you how many times I have heard atheists use this term against us, supposing that by this word we mean we have no evidence. Sometimes, I think this is an excuse not to respond to the evidence we put forward since when I am talking to atheists, I usually demonstrate empirical evidence for why I believe what I believe. Getting hung up on the word “believe” is simply a fallacy of equivocation. 

However, this is still an issue which I do believe should be discussed. Many people, when they hear the word “believe” in a religious context, imagine the implication of the lack of evidence. The term for this is fideism, the heresy that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths.

I personally find it quite unreasonable to assume this, since I do not believe that outside of a religious context, anyone would assume by “belief” someone meant a blind faith. To prove it, I will show the Merriam-Webster definition of “believe”:


1. a: to consider to be true or honest

b: to accept the word or evidence of

2 : to hold as an opinion : SUPPOSE

As can be seen, there is no mention of a blind faith. “To accept the word or evidence of” rather suggests the opposite. Now, to hold as an opinion, I grant, is not quite so compelling, but the first definition, “to consider to be true or honest” is probably what best embodies Christian faith.

So what is faith, in a Christian context? Let us see the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s definition:

Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity.”


This does not, however, mean faith without reason. To quote another paragraph of the Catechism:

Faith and science: “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”


So faith and reason have never been enemies. There is a reason why many devote themselves to apologetics. Catholics have always taught that faith should rest on reason.

“But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”—1 Peter 3:15

Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor