Apologetics, Philosophy, Theology

Converting to the Catholic Faith & Discerning Truth

Edith Stein QuoteBecause it is the 500th year of the Protestant revolt, I have been reflecting upon my own conversion into the one, true Catholic Church. In doing so, I have been frequenting Protestant Facebook pages, especially of the reformed Calvinist position because that is where I made my last stand as a Protestant. In addition to looking at what these Calvinists pages are saying about Catholicism, I have been re-reading arguments attempting to refute the Catholic faith and listening to debates between Catholic apologists and Protestant polemicists.

During this period of reflection and examination I have been asking myself a simple question – how was it that I was able to see the truth of the Catholic faith and escape the errors of the Protestant revolutionaries?

First, and most importantly, it is by the grace of God. It is only because of the abundant mercy of God that I have dedicated my life to truth. God moved me to follow truth no matter where it leads, and like St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross says, “My longing for truth was a single prayer.”

Second, because the journey in pursuit of truth takes a lot of time and heartache, I diligently studied and worked for several years pursuing this lofty end. I began as a practical atheist living only to fulfill my carnal desires. From there I moved toward following Christ throughout various Protestant sects, and finally found the ‘pillar and bulwark of truth’ in the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Third, I noticed something important along the way. There is a distinctive pattern truth travels in the sea of error. Truth speaks accurately of error while error misrepresents and distorts truth.

What do I mean by this?

When you encounter a view that is true, it exposes and refutes the opposition clearly and honestly. The opposing view can be found properly and accurately articulated within the context of the refutation because the truth has nothing to hide while refuting the error. The truth, however, cannot be accurately articulated within the expression of the erroneous position otherwise error would expose itself.

This situation directly applied to my conversion into the Catholic faith. When I began to read Catholic theological and philosophical literature, especially arguments refuting Protestant positions, I could see that my Calvinist views were being accurately represented. Saint Francis de Sales’s work, The Catholic Controversy, thoroughly and systematically refutes the strongest case for Calvinistic theology, which is why he was able to bring Calvinist Geneva back to the Catholic faith. This, by the way, is a little historical note that Calvinists like to sweep under the rug in order to boast of John Calvin’s anti-Catholic demagoguery.

The same situation, however, did not take place when I would read Protestant literature attempting to refute Catholic teaching. When I read James White’s work, The Roman Catholic Controversy, I could not find the Catholic faith in this polemic. What I did find were straw men, misguided polemics, question-begging assertions, and repetitious platitudes. White’s book is for people interested in sophistry rather than truth.

If the Catholic faith is as heretical and evil as Protestants claim it to be, why can’t her teaching be defeated without fundamentally misrepresenting the tenets of Catholicism? Why does history need to be distorted in order to justify the spirit of rebellion that brought forth the downfall of Christendom? Why do Protestants sound like the new atheists when they pontificate about Church history?

Five years after my conversion I am yet to read a credible refutation of a single position officially taught by the Catholic Church. I have read many platitudes, slogans, clichés, and lies, but nothing credible, honorable, or charitable. I am reminded of this every time I browse through the memes of these Calvinist Facebook pages or listen to debates.

Truth cannot be defeated and her enemies can only lie in order to remain puffed up in their sinful autonomous pride. While Protestants celebrate their 500th year of rebellion against the true Church, Catholics should look to those great Counter-reformers that combatted the heresies of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Beza etc. The writing of Saints Robert Bellarmine and Francis de Sales, fully informed by the zeal for truth, are a great place to start. There isn’t an argument offered by the pretended ministers of their day or ours that has not been methodically defeated. It is our duty as Catholics to carry on this legacy to combat the pretended ministers of our era; men such as Paul Washer, James White, R.C. Sproul, Voddie Baucham, Sye Ten Bruggencate, K. Scott Oliphant and many others must be exposed because their heresy encourages people to reject the Body and Blood of our Lord so necessary for salvation.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Apologetics, Augustinian Intellectual Tradition, Metaphysics, Natural Theology, Philosophy, Saint Augustine

The Augustinian Argument for the Existence of God

The Augustinian Argument for the Existence of GodI have been spending time highlighting arguments for the existence of God presented by Edward Feser in his book, Five Proofs of the Existence of God. Thus far, I have covered his presentation of the Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic arguments. The third argument presented by Feser is the Augustinian proof.

Here is the Augustinian proof, which is taken from the book mentioned above, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Pg. 109-110:

  1. There are three possible accounts of abstract objects such as universals, propositions, numbers and other mathematical objects, and possible worlds: realism, nominalism, and conceptualism.
  2. There are decisive arguments in favor of realism.
  3. There are insuperable objections against nominalism.
  4. There are insuperable objections against conceptualism.
  5. So, some version of realism is true.
  6. There are three possible versions of realism: Platonic realism, Aristotelian realism, and Scholastic realism.
  7. If Platonic realism is true, then abstract objects exists in a “third realm” distinct from either the material world or any intellect.
  8. If Aristotelian realism is true, then abstract objects exist only in human or other contingently existing intellects.
  9. If Scholastic realism is true, then abstract objects exist not only in contingently existing intellects but also in at least one necessarily existing intellect.
  10. There are insuperable objections against the claim that abstract objects exist in a “third realm” distinct from either the material world or any intellect.
  11. So, Platonic realism is not true.
  12. There are insuperable objections against the claim that abstract objects exist only in human or other contingently existing intellects.
  13. So, Aristotelian realism is not true.
  14. So, Scholastic realism is true.
  15. So, abstract objects exist not only in contingently existing intellects but also in at least one necessarily existing intellect.
  16. Abstract objects such as universals, propositions, numbers and other mathematical objects, and possible worlds are all logically related to one another in such a way that they form an interlocking system of ideas.
  17. The reasons concluding that at least some abstract objects exists in a necessarily existing intellect also entail that this interlocking system of ideas must exist in a necessarily existing intellect.
  18. So, this interlocking system of ideas exists in at least one necessarily existing intellect.
  19. A necessarily existing intellect would be purely actual.
  20. There cannot be more than one thing that is purely actual.
  21. So, there cannot be more than one necessarily existing intellect.
  22. An intellect in which the interlocking system of ideas in question existed would be conceptually omniscient.
  23. So, the one necessarily existing intellect is conceptually omniscient.
  24. If this one necessarily existing intellect were not also omniscient in the stronger sense that it knows all contingent truths, then it would have unrealized potential and thus not be purely actual.
  25. So, it is also omniscient in this stronger sense.
  26. What is purely actual must also be omnipotent, fully good, immutable, immaterial, incorporeal, and eternal.
  27. So, there is exactly one necessarily existing intellect, which is purely actual, omniscient, omnipotent, fully good, immutable, immaterial, incorporeal, and eternal.
  28. But for there to be such a thing is just what it is for God to exist.
  29. So, God exists.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Political Economy

Our Luxurious Lives

Old Fashioned Water PumpA few months back I wrote a post called “Our Land of Plenty” in which I reflected on the superabundance of food available to us in the United States. I pointed out that we today have access to a greater amount and greater variety of food than the people of any other civilization in the entire history of the world.

In this post, I’d like to continue on that theme by calling attention to how luxurious modern western life really is.

While there are always going to be some discomforts, our lives in the United States today are more comfortable than almost any other people’s from the beginning of time. Yet how often do we take the time to consider and appreciate this fact? I would venture to guess that the answer to this question is “seldom to never.” Oftentimes, instead of being thankful for how good we have it, we like to complain about those things in our lives that aren’t perfect.

For example, we gripe when the weather is warm and muggy, and we forget that we have the unprecedented option to escape to air conditioned areas indoors. We also complain when it’s cold outside, and fail to appreciate that all we really have to do to make ourselves more comfortable is to turn up the thermostat. For most of us, there’s no gathering wood, no starting fires. It literally takes a turn of the wrist for us to perfectly control our climate.

Then there’s transportation. Most of us gripe about having to drive in a car for a few hours to get somewhere. We forget that in order to travel the same distance, our forefathers—if they were wealthy enough to do so—would have had to hitch up a carriage and spend several days on the road, staying at inns along the way. On those same lines, we like to gripe about 15-hour airplane flights to Europe while forgetting that a mere two centuries ago, that same trip would have meant several months at sea with a very real possibility of dying. Our travelling ancestors had bigger worries than lukewarm, in-flight meals.

Another modern convenience I think we often forget to appreciate is indoor plumbing. The fact that we, even as middle class  or working class people, can take a hot shower in our own homes every day would have been totally unbelievable to even the wealthiest aristocrats of the middle ages. In this regard—as in many others—the poorest among us are living better than even kings of centuries past.

Returning to the topic of food, I think we also take for granted the convenience of modern refrigeration, which allows us to safely store many products that were often eaten partially spoiled in past times, leading to serious health problems.

One final point I’d like to mention is our ubiquitous access to the internet. We live in the information age. The answer to almost any question—whether important or not—is instantly at our fingertips on a wide array of devices like desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. While bibles and other books were once kept chained up because they were so expensive to produce, we today have a world of information at the flick of our index finger or even at our verbal command.

Let’s face it. At least from a physical perspective, we in the 21st century western world have been born into the easiest possible time and the easiest possible place to be alive. Ever.

In general, we today lead more comfortable lives than any other people in history. But among its many other lessons, history shows that comfort isn’t the best way to improve a people’s character. The greatest generations are born out of times of hardship rather than times of luxury.

There are a couple of morals to this story. The first is that we ought to have a better appreciation for how good we have it. Instead of whining about how low the water pressure is, we should be overjoyed to have hot water flowing into our homes at all. Instead of complaining that we’ve only got leftovers in the fridge, we should be thankful that we can even safely store food.

The second lesson is that we should realize that our present conditions are a perfect recipe for molding us into a soft, indolent people, and that in order to keep ourselves from becoming this, we need to begin practicing such things as fasting, mortification, and self-denial. If our current environment won’t shape our character in a positive way, we have to make an extra effort to do so ourselves.

Thirdly and finally, we should all recognize and consider the fact that we might not always have it as good as we do now. The recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and especially in Puerto Rico have shown how quickly all of our creature comforts can be taken away. There may well come a day when we don’t have our perfectly controlled climates, our hot showers, our ease of travel, and our instant access to information. Let’s not make our happiness dependent on our modern conveniences and easy way of life.

I’d like to close by paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton, who once said that the best way to appreciate anything is to realize that it might be lost. To that end, let’s appreciate our modern comforts, and let’s also realize and be prepared for the possibility that we might not always have them.

 

Nicholas Kaminsky

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Culture, Philosophy, Traditionalism

Identifying the Ideological Enemy of the Catholic Church

Jacobin Revolutionaries“Hence we find Liberalism laying down as the basis of its propaganda the following principles:

  1. The absolute sovereignty of the individual in his entire independence of God and God’s authority.
  2. The absolute sovereignty of society in its entire independence of everything which does not proceed from itself.
  3. Absolute civil sovereignty in the implied right of the people to make their own laws in entire independence and utter disregard of any other criterion than the popular will expressed at the polls and in parliamentary majorities.
  4. Absolute freedom of thought in politics, morals, or in religion. The unrestrained liberty of the press.

Such are the radical principles of Liberalism. In the assumption of the absolute sovereignty of the individual, that is, his entire independence of God, we find the common source of all the others. To express them all in one term, they are, in the order of ideas, RATIONALISM, or the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of human reason. Here human reason is made the measure and sum of truth. Hence we have individual, social, and political Rationalism, the corrupt fountainhead of liberalist principles [which are]: absolute freedom of worship, the supremacy of the State, secular education repudiating any connection with religion, marriage sanctioned and legitimized by the State alone, etc.; in one word, which synthesizes all, we have SECULARIZATION, which denies religion any active intervention in the concerns of public and of private life, whatever they be. This is veritable social atheism.

Such is the source of liberalism in the order of ideas; such, in consequence of our Protestant and infidel surroundings, is the intellectual atmosphere which we are perpetually breathing into our souls. Nor do these principles remain simply in the speculative order, poised forever in the region of thought. Men are not mere contemplatives. Doctrines and beliefs inevitably precipitate themselves into action. The speculation of today becomes the deed of tomorrow, for men, by force of the law of their nature, are ever acting out what they think. Rationalism, therefore, takes concrete shape in the order of facts. It finds palpable expression and action in the press, in legislation, and in social life. The secular press reeks with it, proclaiming with almost unanimous vociferation, absolute division between public life and religion. It has become the shibboleth of journalism, and the editor who will not recognize it in his daily screed soon feels the dagger of popular disapproval. In secularized marriage and in our diverse laws, it cleaves the very roots of domestic society; in secularized education, the cardinal principle of our public school system, it propagates itself in the hearts of the future citizens and the future parents; in compulsory school laws, it forces in the entering wedge of socialism; in the speech and intercourse of social life, it is constantly asserting itself with growing reiteration; in secret societies, organized in a spirit destructive of religion and often for the express purpose of exterminating Catholicity, it menaces our institutions and places the country in the hands of conspirators, whose methods and designs, beyond the reach of the public eye, constitute a tyranny of darkness

In a thousand ways does the principle of Rationalism find its action and expression in social and civil life, and however diversified be its manifestation, there is in it always a unity and a system of opposition to Catholicity. Whether concerted or not, it ever acts in the same direction, and whatever special school within the genius of Liberalism professes it or puts it into action – be it in society, in domestic life, or in politics – the same essential characteristics will be found in all its protean shapes – opposition to the Church – and it will ever be found stigmatizing the most ardent defenders of the Faith as reactionaries, clericals, Ultramontanes.

Wherever found, whatever its uniform, Liberalism in its practical action is ever-systematic warfare upon the Church. Whether it intrigue, whether it legislate, whether it orate or assassinate, whether it call itself Liberty or Government of the State or Humanity or Reason, or whatnot, its fundamental characteristics is an uncompromising opposition to the Church.

Liberalism is a world complete in itself; it has its maxims, its fashions, its art, its literature, its diplomacy, its laws, its conspiracies, its ambuscades. It is the world of Lucifer, disguised in our times under the name of Liberalism, in radical opposition and in perpetual warfare against that society composed of the Children of God, the Church of Jesus Christ.”

– Fr. Felix Sarda Y Salvany, Liberalism is a Sin – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Apologetics, Metaphysics, Natural Theology, Philosophy, Theology

The Neoplatonic Argument for the Existence of God

The Neoplatonic Argument for the Existence of GodIn an earlier post I mentioned some of the names that have done important work to undermine the credibility of new atheism and its presuppositions of metaphysical naturalism, epistemological scientism, and moral nihilism. The individuals highlighted were Wolfgang Smith, David Bentley Hart, and Edward Feser. I proceeded to focus on the work Feser is doing because he has systematically dismantled the new atheist movement, while successfully defending the legitimacy of natural theology.

Feser has accomplished this in a variety of ways. Most significantly is his ability to articulate classic arguments for the existence of God and then proceed to refute the objections offered against their reasonable authenticity. To that end Feser has used reason to the glory of God against those who have reduced it to an idol.

In his most recent work, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Feser explains, develops, presents, and defends the Aristotelian proof, the Neoplatonic proof, the Augustinian proof, the Thomistic proof, and the Rationalist proof. The presentation of the Aristotelian proof has already been highlighted, so now it is time for the Neoplatonic proof.


Taken from Neo-Scholastic Essays, The New Atheists and the Cosmological Argument, Pg. 130, 131:

  1. There must be a first principle of all if there is to be an explanation of the orderly existing world, or why anything at all exists rather than nothing.
  2. If the first principle of all were composed of parts, then those parts would be ontologically prior to it.
  3. But in that case it would not be the first principle at all.
  4. So the first principle is not composed of parts, but is absolutely simple.
  5. If there were a distinction between what the first principle is and the fact that it is, then there could be more than one first principle.
  6. But in order for there to be more than one, there would have to be some attribute that distinguished them.
  7. But since a first principle is absolutely simple, there can be no such attribute.
  8. So there cannot be more than one first principle.
  9. So there is no distinction in the first principle between what it is and the fact that it is.
  10. So the first principle is not only absolutely simple but utterly unique, what Plotinus called “the One.”

Taken from Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Pg. 80-82:

  1. The things of our experience are composite.
  2. A composite exists at any moment only insofar as its parts are combined at that moment.
  3. This composition of parts requires a concurrent cause.
  4. So, any composite has a cause of its existence at any moment at which it exists.
  5. So, each of the things of our experience has a cause at any moment at which it exists.
  6. If the cause of a composite things’ existence at any moment is itself composite, then it will in turn require a cause of its own existence at that moment.
  7. The regress of causes this entails is hierarchical in nature, and such a regress must have a first member.
  8. Only something absolutely simple or noncomposite could be the first member of such a series.
  9. So, the existence of each of the things of our experience presupposes an absolutely simple or noncomposite cause.
  10. In order for there to be more than absolutely one simple or noncomposite cause, each would have to have some differentiating feature that the others lacked.
  11. But for a cause to have such a feature would be for it to have parts, in which case it would not really be simple, or noncomposite.
  12. So, no absolutely simple or noncomposite cause can have such a differentiating feature.
  13. So, there cannot be more than one absolutely simple or noncomposite cause.
  14. If the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause were changeable, then it would have parts which it gains or loses – which, being simple or noncomposite , it does not have.
  15. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause is changeless or immutable.
  16. If the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause had a beginning or an end, it would have parts which could either be combined or broken apart.
  17. So, since it has no such parts, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause is beginningless and endless.
  18. Whatever is immutable, beginningless, and endless is eternal.
  19. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause is eternal.
  20. If something is caused, then it has parts which need to be combined.
  21. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause, since it has no parts, is uncaused.
  22. Everything is either a mind, or a mental content, or a material entity, or an abstract entity.
  23. An abstract entity is causally inert.
  24. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause, since it is not causally inert, is not an abstract entity.
  25. A material entity has parts and is changeable.
  26. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause, since it is without parts and changeless, is not a material entity.
  27. A mental content presupposes the existence of a mind, and so cannot be the ultimate cause of anything.
  28. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause, being the ultimate cause of things, cannot be a mental content.
  29. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause must be a mind.
  30. Since the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause is unique, everything other than it is composite.
  31. Every composite has the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause as its ultimate cause.
  32. So, the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause is the ultimate cause of everything other than itself.
  33. If the absolutely simple or noncomposite cause had potentialities as well as actualities, it would have parts.
  34. So, since it has no parts, it must have no potentialities but be purely actual.
  35. A purely actual cause must be perfect, omnipotent, fully good, and omniscient.
  36. So, there exists a cause which is simple or noncomposite, unique, immutable, eternal, immaterial, a mind or intellect, the uncaused ultimate cause of everything other than itself, purely actual, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, and omniscient.
  37. But for there to be such a cause is just what it is for God to exist.
  38. So, God exists.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Theology

The Kingdom of God Must Be Defended Like Any Other Kingdom

Saint Thomas Becket - The Kingdom of God Must be DefendedThe Socratic Catholic blog has not spent much time addressing the heterodox teachings of Pope Francis, especially as they have been espoused in the document Amoris laetitia. There are a number of reasons for not covering this kind of material, most of which is the fact that there are already a variety of traditionalist Catholic web pages and periodicals doing exactly this in great detail.

It seems, however, that the Church is entering into a period where a reluctance to address heterodoxy within the ranks of the Church, or even remaining silent on these issues, is no longer a realistic option.

There is a great line in the classic movie, Becket, which perfectly summarizes our situation. When facing his accusers the Archbishop says, “The Kingdom of God must be defended like any other kingdom.”

Is this not a great truth that has been all but forgotten in our time?

God can accomplish all things, but it is for our benefit that He has chosen to work through those made in His image and likeness.

We must work tirelessly to defend the truths delivered once and for all time to the Apostles by Christ Jesus our King. A defense of these truths is necessary against foes outside of the Mystical Body of Christ, and also from within.

With that being said, a courageous group of signatories have issued important corrections to the Holy Father of the Church, Pope Francis.

Let us pray that this course of action might be beneficial and produce great results.

And let us never forget to also pray for Pope Francis.


Here is a link to the official web page correcting the heterodoxy of Pope Francis: Correctio Filialas

Here is a link to the official document: Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Apologetics, Metaphysics, Natural Theology, Philosophy, Scholasticism, Thomism

The Aristotelian Argument for the Existence of God

Aristotelian Argument for the Existence of GodAlthough atheism still exists as a basic presupposition of our modernistic culture, its credibility has been thoroughly exposed as fatuous. The new atheism of our current era has had its intellectual legs cut out from underneath it, and in actuality, has been demonstrated to be an illusory superstition from the very outset of its opportunistic endeavor. And despite the overall cultural embeddedness of atheistic pretension, it has been intellectually and spiritually routed by numerous minds dedicated to the perennial truths of wisdom. Indeed, atheism resides in the convenience of mantra, rationalistic sophistry, and a will to ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness’ as Saint Paul tells us in the book of Romans.

Some of the minds that have contributed to the systematic dismantling of modern atheism hinted at above are Wolfgang Smith, David Bentley Hart, and Edward Feser. There are, of course, many others that can be mentioned because these men are merely participating in a tradition of thought inherited from the legacy of Western perennial wisdom. This tradition reaches all the way back to Plato and Aristotle, Plotinus and Porphyry, the Patristics, the Scholastics, and finally up to those who would not bend their knee to the mechanistic Weltanschauung or the postmodern metanarrative relativism that followed.

Wolfgang Smith, the philosopher and scientist par excellence, has showed us that we do not need to sacrifice even an inch of our traditional inheritance to the Goliath of scientistic presumption. Instead, Smith makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled traditionalist. David Bentley Hart, an Eastern Orthodox theologian, has triumphantly defended the tenets of classical theism against the ferocious misapprehension of those atheists erroneously proclaiming the death of God. Finally, Edward Feser, working within the Neo-Scholastic tradition of thought, has effectively established the fact that atheism is a pernicious superstition, rather than the most reasonable interpretation of reality atheism claims itself to be.

And while I am indebted to all of these great thinkers, it is Edward Feser’s thought that I would like to focus on at this time.

Throughout the extensive argumentation found in his work, Edward Feser has entirely destroyed any and all respectability the new atheist movement might have feigned to possess in their many publications of vociferous prognostications. The task of refuting the new atheists began with his great work, The Last Superstition, and has been extended in several publications that followed. His latest work, Five Proofs of the Existence of God, presents classic arguments of natural theology that demonstrate the necessary existence of God. These arguments are the Aristotelian argument, the Neoplatonic argument, the Augustinian argument, the Thomistic argument, and the Rationalist argument. Moreover, Feser dismantles the stock objections to these arguments and thoroughly defends the veracity of natural theology against those critics from the traditions of the so-called Enlightenment. I am reluctant to say that Feser’s work is the ‘last word’ regarding the positive legitimacy of natural theology and theistic ways of arguing for the existence of God, but nonetheless, Feser’s corpus is formidable. To get a glimpse of just how formidable Feser’s work is, all one must do is examine the arguments as he presents them.

Beginning with this initial installment, I will provide each classical argument in their syllogistic format as formulated by Feser. This is useful for a number of reasons, but most importantly is to pin the atheist against the wall with his own irrational slogans. If an atheist is going to reject the conclusion of the arguments, incredulity is not going to be sufficient for the task. Simply rejecting the conclusion that God exists because “I can’t see how X,” or “Science has shown X,” or the puerile reaction “What caused God,” is a desperation of the will, not an exercise of the intellect. The atheist, if he is going to live by his creed of the supremacy of reason must show which premises are in error, why they are in error, and how they invalidate the conclusion that God exists. Mindlessly appealing to the “quantum enigma” (which by the way Wolfgang Smith has solved in favor of the traditionalist) or the materialistic fallacies of Neo-Darwinian dogma do nothing to even wrestle with perennial truth.

Without further ado, here is Edward Feser’s presentation for the Aristotelian Argument for the existence of God.


Taken from Neo-Scholastic Essays, The New Atheists and the Cosmological Argument, Pg. 128:

  1. That the actualization of potency is a real feature of the world follows from the occurrence of the events we know of via sensory experience.
  2. The occurrence of any event E presupposes the operation of a substance.
  3. The existence of any natural substance S at any given moment presupposes the concurrent actualization of a potency.
  4. No mere potency can actualize a potency; only something actual can do so.
  5. So any actualizer A of S’s current existence must itself be actual.
  6. A’s own existence at the moment it actualizes S itself presupposes either (a) the concurrent actualization of a further potency or (b) A’s being purely actual.
  7. If A’s existence at the moment it actualizes S presupposes the concurrent actualization of a further potency, then there exists a regress of concurrent actualizers that is either infinite or terminates in a purely actual actualizer.
  8. But such a regress of concurrent actualizers would constitute an essentially ordered causal series, and such a series cannot regress infinitely.
  9. So either A itself is purely actual or there is a purely actual actualizer which terminates the regress of concurrent actualizers.
  10. So the occurrence of E and thus the existence of S at any given moment presupposes the existence of a purely actual actualizer.

Taken From Five Proofs of the Existence of God, Pg. 35-37

  1. Change is a real feature of the world.
  2. But change is the actualization of a potential.
  3. So, the actualization of potential is a real feature of the world.
  4. No potential can be actualized unless something already actual actualizes it (the principle of causality).
  5. So, any change is caused by something already actual.
  6. The occurrence of any change C presupposes some thing or substance S which changes.
  7. The existence of S at any given moment itself presupposes the concurrent actualization of S’s potential for existence.
  8. So, any substance S has at any moment some actualizer A of its existence.
  9. A’s own existence at the moment it actualizes S itself presupposes either (a) the concurrent actualization of its on potential for existence or (b) A’s being purely actual.
  10. If A’s existence at the moment it actualizes S presupposes the concurrent actualization of its own potential for existence, then there exists a regress of concurrent actualizers that is either infinite or terminates in a purely actual actualizer.
  11. But such a regress of concurrent actualizers would constitute a hierarchical causal series, and such a series cannot regress infinitely.
  12. So either A itself is a purely actual actualizer or there is a purely actual actualizer which terminates the regress that begins with the actualization of A.
  13. So, the occurrence of C and thus the existence of S at any given moment presupposes the existence of a purely actual actualizer.
  14. So, there is a purely actual actualizer.
  15. In order for there to be more than one purely actual actualizer, there would have to be some differentiating feature that one such actualizer has that the others lack.
  16. But there could be such a differentiating feature only if a purely actual actualizer had some unactualized potential, which, being purely actual, it does not have.
  17. So, there can be no such differentiating feature, and thus no way for there to be more than one purely actual actualizer.
  18. So, there is only one purely actual actualizer.
  19. In order for this purely actual actualizer to be capable of change, it would have to have potentials capable of actualization.
  20. But being purely actual, it lacks any such potentials.
  21. So, it is immutable or incapable of change.
  22. If this purely actual actualizer existed in time, then it would be capable of change, which it is not.
  23. So, this purely actual actualizer is eternal, existing outside of time.
  24. If the purely actual actualizer were material, then it would be changeable and exist in time, which it does not.
  25. So, the purely actual actualizer is immaterial.
  26. If the purely actual actualizer were corporeal, then it would be material, which it is not.
  27. So, the purely actual actualizer is incorporeal.
  28. If the purely actual actualizer were imperfect in any way, it would have some unactualized potential, which, being purely actual, it does not have.
  29. So, the purely actual actualizer is perfect.
  30. For something to be less than fully good is for it to have a privation – that is, to fail to actualize some feature proper to it.
  31. A purely actual actualizer, being purely actual, can have no such privation.
  32. So, the purely actual actualizer is fully good.
  33. To have power entails being able to actualize potentials.
  34. Any potential that is actualized is either actualized by the purely actual actualizer or by a series of actualizers which terminates in the purely actual actualizer.
  35. So, all power derives from the purely actual actualizer.
  36. But to be from which all power derives is to be omnipotent.
  37. So, the purely actual actualizer is omnipotent.
  38. Whatever is in an effect is in its cause in some way, whether formally, virtually, or eminently (the principle of proportionate causality.)
  39. The purely actual actualizer is the cause of all things.
  40. So, the forms or patterns manifest in all things it causes must in some way be in the purely actual actualizer.
  41. These forms or patters can exist either in the concrete way in which they exist in individual particular things, or in the abstract way in which they exist in the thoughts of an intellect.
  42. They cannot exist in the purely actual actualizer in the same way they exist in individual particular things.
  43. So, they must exist in the purely actual actualizer in the abstract way in which they exist in the thoughts of an intellect.
  44. So, the purely actual actualizer has intellect or intelligence.
  45. Since it is the forms or patterns of all things that are in the thoughts of this intellect, there is nothing that is outside the range of those thoughts.
  46. For there to be nothing outside the range of something’s thoughts is for that thing to be omniscient.
  47. So, the purely actual actualizer is omniscient.
  48. So, there exists a purely actual cause of the existence of things, which is one, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporeal, perfect, fully good, omnipotent, intelligent, and omniscient.
  49. But for there to be such a cause of things is just what it is for God to exist.
  50. So, God Exists.


 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

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Creation, Holy Scripture, Philosophy of Nature, Theology, Traditionalism, Wolfgang Smith

Wolfgang Smith & The Pitfall of Astrophysical Cosmology

Wolfgang Smith on the Big Bang vs. Christian Faith“We propose now to look at the big bang scenario from a theological perspective. Leaving aside the question as to whether this cosmology is factually correct, we shall treat it as a kind of myth or icon, a symbol to be read. What, then, does the big bang signify? What above all strikes one is the idea of a temporal origin: the notion that the universe ‘did not always exist.’ This is not to say that ‘long ago’ the world did not exist, for time as we know it refers to cosmic events and cannot therefore antedate the universe itself: ‘Beyond all doubt,’ says St. Augustine, ‘the world was not made in time, but with time.’ What big bang theory affirms, rather, is that the universe has a finite age; the question, now, is whether this implies an act of creation ex nihilo. I would argue that, from a strictly logical point of view, it does not. But this is actually beside the point: we are now ‘reading the icon,’ a task which is not simply a matter of logical analysis. In its iconic import, I say, the big bang picture does overwhelmingly suggest what Christianity has always taught: namely, that the universe was brought into being some finite time ago through a creative act. As Pope Pius XII declared in 1951, in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Science:

‘In fact, it seems that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial Fiat lux uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation…Hence, creation took place in time; therefore, there exists a creator, therefore, God exists!’

It would seem from this animated papal expression of assent that the impact of big bang cosmology upon Christianity is bound to be salutary; but such proves not to be the case. I contend that the new cosmology has in fact exerted a baneful influence upon Christian thought, and has contributed significantly to the deviations and vagaries afflicting contemporary theology; how can this be? The answer is simple: icons can be dangerous, lethal actually, due to the fact that the icon itself can be mistaken for the truth, ‘the finger for the moon’ as the Chinese say. And this is what has actually happened in the case of the big bang: we are dealing, after all, with a scientific paradigm declared by the leading authorities to be factually true. Now, the problem is that in its factual as distinguished from its symbolic significance, the big bang scenario is flatly opposed to the traditional Christian cosmogony based upon Genesis. Take for instance the biblical fact that the Earth and its flora were created before the Sun, Moon and stars: surely this rules out all contemporary theories of stellar evolution, even as it rules out all contemporary theories of stellar evolution, even as it rules out all Darwinist claims. Theologians, as we know, have for the most part responded to this challenge by ‘demythologizing’ the first three chapters of Genesis; but in so doing, I contend once again, they have taken a wrong turn. Placing their trust in a man-made theory, which moreover stands demonstrably on shaky ground, they have contradicted the inspired teaching of the Fathers and the Church. Let it be said once again that the first three chapters of Genesis, taken in their literal historical sense, cannot be denied without grave injury to the Christian faith. The point has already been made implicitly in the preceding chapter: in bringing to light the content of biblical cosmogony, we have at the same time demonstrated its central importance to Christian doctrine. Whatever contemporary theologians may say in their pursuit of ‘scientific correctness,’ the fact remains that the teachings of Christianity presupposes the biblical cosmogony, even as the Redemption presupposes the Fall. It is utterly chimerical, thus, to imagine the doctrine of Christ actually makes sense in a big bang universe; and one might add that the biblical cosmogony has in fact been mandated by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909. In a definitive response to eight questions relating to ‘The Historical Character of the Earlier Chapters of Genesis’ the Commission explicitly denies the validity of ‘exegetical systems’ which exclude the literal historical sense of the first three chapters.

Getting back to big bang cosmology, I would like to point out that this doctrine is evidently all the more compelling to a Christian public on account of its obvious symbolic signification: what could be more wonderful, after all, than a scientific cosmology bearing witness to the primordial Fiat lux! In conjunction with certain other scientific developments, the new cosmology has thus fostered a major movement of reconciliation between the scientific and the religious communities. Book titles such as ‘God and the New Physics’ (by physicist Paul Davies) or ‘God and the Astronomers’ (by the astronomer Robert Jastrow) have come to abound, and it is hardly possible, these days, to keep up with the profusion of seminars and symposia on ‘science and religion’ being held all over the world. And everywhere one encounters the same message of ‘peace and harmony’ from both of the former contestants. There is however a price to be paid on the part of religion: wherever a conflict does arise – as between Genesis and the big bang – it is always Christianity which is obliged, by the presiding experts, to conform its teaching to the latest scientific theory. It appears that a certain fusion of science and religion is now in progress on a world-wide scale, which threatens to transform Christianity into some kind of ‘theistic evolutionism’ more or less akin to the quasi-theology of Teilhard de Chardin.

In a word, the new cosmology is not quite as innocuous as one might think. So far from being compatible with the truth of Christianity, it proves to be one of the most seductive and potentially lethal doctrines ever to threaten the integrity of the Christian faith: a dogma amply capable, it seems, of ‘deceiving even the elect.’ The devil, they say, gives us nine truths, only to catch us in the end with a lie: could big bang cosmology be a case in point? Could this be the underlying reason why an atheistic science has now promulgated – to everyone’s amazement! – a doctrine which, on the face of it, glorifies God as the creator of the universe? It has at times been suggested that there is indeed a connection between a scientific enterprise and the demonic realm; this has been seriously affirmed, for example, by the late Orthodox Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, and again by the Catholic historian Solange Hertz. It is not easy, of course, to document such a connection; but the surmise of demonic influence is neither irrational nor indeed improbable. When it comes to a major onslaught against the Catholic faith, it behooves us to recall the sobering admonition of St. Paul, which may well bear also upon the point here at issue: ‘Put on the armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We wrestle not against the flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ The demonic connection then, of which we speak, may prove in the end to be more than a pious fantasy.”

– Wolfgang Smith, Ancient Wisdom and Modern Misconceptions – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, Politics

Political Revolution is Covert Psychological Warfare

Wilhelm ReichHow is it that the victories in the culture war are so one-side? It seems that for every one or two battles that don’t go in the win column for the political revolutionaries, there are a dozen others that take more territory in their favor. Christians routinely speak of losing the culture and that we now live in a post-Christian era in Western Civilization. How has this happened, especially since Christianity has always had a voice in American society?

It cannot be for a lack of institutions, organizations, conferences, books, articles, etc. There are Christian universities, seminaries, and apologetics programs turning out people to “take back the culture” by the thousands every year. And yet, the revolutionaries and atheistic iconoclasts keep marching forward as though these institutions didn’t even exist. To be sure, the progressive manufacturing centers we call universities are producing activists too, but Christians seem incapable of even slowing down these secular missionaries.

So why has the culture war been lost so badly? Why has Christianity been so thoroughly defeated in the culture of Western Civilization?

There are a lot of ways to answer this question, and all of them are most likely to prove controversial. But there is one reason in particular why Christianity has been defeated. The reason Christianity has been conquered in the West is due to its adherents completely misunderstanding the tactics of the enemy.

Christians have been fighting against the tide of the secular left, militant atheists, and sexual revolutionaries as though it was merely a philosophical dispute which then influences public policy some time in the near future. This miscalculation views the culture war through the lenses of election cycles rather than generational development.

This is has been a serious blunder; so serious in fact that Christianity has been thoroughly routed in every institution, including the Church.

The true nature of the radical social project we are encountering is covert psychological warfare. The radicals have infiltrated the institutions that shape the culture and have succeeded in psychologically conditioning the masses through systemic indoctrination to think in categories that undermine truth, beauty, and goodness.

This revolutionary tactic frames the manner in which issues are discussed by predetermining the language that will be permitted into the debate. Christians think they are ‘defeating the enemy’ when in reality they have already surrendered their arms because they have succumbed to the linguistically allowable categories of discussion. As long as the psychological framework justifying this covert operation goes unchallenged Christians will continue debating around the husks.

Political revolution is covert psychological warfare.

To be sure, there are numerous contradictory philosophical persuasions informing this covert operation, but it is incorrect to refute the philosophy without addressing the psychology of revolutionary moral anarchy. Moreover, it is a tactical error to begin with an attempted refutation of the philosophy undergirding this mindset because it will have no affect on the psychological conditioning that has taken place over generations of institutionalized brainwashing. A person does not reason their way into relativism, for relativism is an affront to reason. Adopting the relativistic framework requires an abandonment of reason, which can only take place through psychological manipulation. Using the tools of reason against views that require the abdication of reason is like giving medicine to a dead man.

The subtlety of such an operation is why covert psychological warfare is so successful. Unless people are aware of what is going on, they will not be able to guard themselves against it. Christians have been blindsided in the culture because, for the most part, they think we are in a battle of wits rather than a spiritual war. For evidence of this just take a hard look at mainstream apologetics in American society. What is the first move made against our atheistic opponents? It is most often to surrender the power of the gospel in order to appear “objective.” How many times has it been said that we, as Christians commissioned by the King of kings, should put aside our biases and weigh the evidence neutrally? How often has it been said that we can just set aside the Bible, or the divine deposit of faith, in order to use the tools of pure reason against our spiritual rivals? To ask these questions is to answer them, because these are the methodological mantras of the analytic sages of mainstream apologetics. Forget about conversion, we are being implicitly told that all that must be accomplished in defending the faith is to demonstrate that God most likely exists according to a probability calculus, or that God is the “best explanation” for why things are the way they are, or that Jesus was at the very least a historical figure etc.

Mainstream apologetics has stripped the defense of the faith of its commission to baptize the nations by emptying the gospel of its divine power. These methods are not only an all out philosophical surrender, but they are useless against the psychology of revolution motivating rebellion against the Creator of Heaven and earth.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Culture, History, Traditionalism

Revolution Begets Revolution

Martin Luther 95 ThesesThis year will mark the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s revolt and will be celebrated by many who would consider themselves traditional, conservative, and biblical.

This, however, is a contradiction. Conserving tradition and furthering revolution are fundamentally at odds. Preserving that which has been handed down cannot at the same time be rebelled against in the name of its preservation; therefore rendering Luther’s claim to revive the Church by overthrowing it incomprehensible to the demands of reason.

Moreover, to be biblical means to possess and follow the Sacred Page in its entirety as the Apostolic Church has received it, interpreted it, protected it, and cherished it. Claiming to be biblical while manufacturing a truncated version of the written word of God in order to suppress revealed doctrines that are unbecoming of a heretical schematic, is to advance the machinations of heterodoxy.

Furthermore, the exemplification of revolutionary incoherence is found in the statement most Protestants cherish. The dramatized “Here I stand…” moment exposes the unoriginal futility of individually fabricated ideas. Every heretic in the history of the Church has echoed this spirited mantra in rebellion against divinely instituted authority. A difference between them and Luther is that he murmured the loudest when the same treatment was given in return.

Martin Luther didn’t understand, but soon found out, that revolution begets revolution. Protestant denominationalism, to this day, is a rebuke against the errors of private judgment.

The last 500 years of Western Civilization are an undeniable testimony to the all-consuming nature of defiance against truth. The contemporary culture of revolutionary political dialectics is not inexplicable. It is the natural unfolding of institutionalized principles of rebellion.

The liberally heterodox systems of theology, philosophy, and politics since Luther’s sedition have had a focused mission: seize power away from the Church in order to divide and dismantle Christendom. And all of this for the purposes of reshaping nature and reality according to autonomous individualism guided by the precepts of subjective private judgment.

There are consequences to such projects.

The barbarism of the French Revolution, the body count of Manifest Destiny, the death toll of world war, the cultural destruction in pursuit of making the world ‘safe for democracy,’ and the legal ratification of sexual revolution all testify to what men might strive for when building a world without God and the guiding wisdom of Holy Mother Church.

We are deadlocked in a culture war that has been raging for a long time. The roots of this war, however, weren’t planted in the 60’s. The leftist sexual revolution, the bureaucratic welfare state, and the technocratic military-industrial complex all share the same heritage with the Western cultural revolt initiated by the principle of “I will not serve.”

Historically speaking Martin Luther initiated a series of intricately interconnected events. The spiritual leader, however, has always been the serpent that deceives men into believing in their individual autonomy and their power to rebel themselves into a new order.

One of the most ironic things that will take place during the celebration of Luther’s revolt against the Church is that many will be calling for the reestablishment of Christendom. The irony of this exposes the deceptive nature of the revolutionary mind; they always want to have in their possession what they just overthrew.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

 

 

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