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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History, Saints

The Murder of Saint Thomas Becket

Saint Thomas Becket QuoteThe Murder of Saint Thomas Becket (emphasis added)


“No more certain is the state of Thomas’s mind. The memorialists believed unanimously, although with varied insistence and consistency, that he was prepared, even anxious, for martyrdom. In such a case he should not flee from city to city, but given an example to his flock. He wished to follow the royal road, that trodden by his Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles. However that may be, he was undoubtedly not prepared either to go tamely into captivity or be pushed around and arrested by soldiers who were of only middling baronial rank. Henry himself had, more realistically, entrusted the task to earl, William de Mandeville. It was sacrilege to touch God’s anointed; and there was Thomas’s pride and dignity. This being so, only the utmost restraint on the part of the barons could spare him from injury or death. And that patience and forbearance were not forthcoming – in the circumstances were out of the question.

Yet it does not seem that their original intention, as they are supposed to have confessed later, was to capture Thomas and use greater force only if he resisted arrest, and that their immediate aim was merely to remove him from the Church. According to Edward Grim, and he should have known, the barons, when they caught up with the archbishop, demanded once more that he abrogate his sentences on the prelates, and, when he refused on the grounds that they had given no satisfaction, threated him with death. Thomas replied that he himself was willing to die, but forbade them to harm any of his men, whether clerks or laymen. They then tried to arrest him. Benedict and fitzStephen believed that one of the assailants, identified by Guernes as Reginald fitzUrse, shouted, ‘Run away: you are a dead man!’ And, when Thomas refused, menaced him with his sword and, with the point, dislodged his cap from his head. Then one of them, this time almost certainly Reginald, grabbed him by the border of his cloak with the help of others, pushing and tugging, tried to hoist him on to William de Tracy’s back. Thomas was outraged. Not only did he lash Reginald with bitter charges of ingratitude and shameful conduct, he even called him, according to Grim, a pimp (leno). He also resisted physically, shaking him off so fiercely that Reginald almost fell to the ground. With Edward Grim holy on tightly, Thomas could not be moved. Herbert of Bosham rhapsodizes over this feat of strength. Thomas was a second Samson, Paul, Jesus Christ in the temple, boy David!

In Grim’s view the barons wanted to get the archbishop out of the church either to kill him in a less sacred place or to carry him off as a prisoner. But the plan failed. Thomas’s resistance and the increasing number of onlookers, including townsfolk coming to evensong, made his rescue possible. The situation had got out of hand. While Hugh de Morville kept the watchers at a distance, the others struck in turn. When Thomas realized that he was close to death, he adopted a submissive pose, his head bent forward, his arms stretched out and his hands joined as in prayer. ‘I commend myself to God, the Blessed Mary, St. Denis and the patron saints of this Church,’ he said. Perhaps he also named St. Aelfheah, the martyred archbishop.

Grim believed that it was the baron whom Thomas had addressed as Reginald who struck the first blow. And he was most likely right. FitzUrse had been the leader all along, had clashed physically with the archbishop and had been called foul names. Grim thrust out his arm to ward off the blow. But the swung sword sliced off the top of the archbishop’s head. And cut through the clerk’s arm to the bone. Later that night at Saltwood William de Tracy is supposed to have claimed that he had cut off John of Salisbury’s arm. If he did say this, it would seem that he was doubly deceived. In the heat of the affray the baron’s could see no more than the onlookers. He was, however, probably the one who felled the archbishop to the ground, either, as fitzStephen and Benedict thought, at his first attempt, or, as Grim, followed by Guernes and Anonymous I, believed, with his second blow. Thomas subsided to his knees and then his hands, and finished flat on his face, with his head to the north and the altar of St. Benedict to his right. Grim alone reports that, as he collapsed, he murmured, ‘For the name of Jesus and the protection of the church I am ready to embrace death.’ While he lay there, a third knight, identified by fitzStephen and Guernes as Richard le Bret, delivered the coup de grace. He struck the archbishop such a fierce blow to the head that he completed the severance of the crown and also broke his sword in two on the pavement. As he struck, he shouted, ‘Take this for love of my lord William, the king’s brother!’ Finally, the subdeacon, Hugh of Horsea, put his foot on the victim’s neck, thrust the point of his sword into the open skull and scattered blood and brains on the floor. ‘Let’s be off, knights,’ he cried. ‘This fellow won’t get up again!’ Some of the biographers note, and it was a disturbing feature, that the only one who tried to help and protect the victim was a complete stranger to them all.”

– Frank Barlow, Thomas Becket – 


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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Apologetics, Pope Saint Pius X, Theology, Traditionalism

Pope Saint Pius X: Pascendi Dominici Gregis

– Pope St. Pius X – Pascendi Dominici Gregis –

Pope Saint Pius X - PascendiThe Modernist as Apologist

35. The Modernist apologist depends in two ways on the philosopher. First, indirectly, inasmuch as his subject-matter is history – history dictated, as we have seen, by the philosopher; and, secondly, directly, inasmuch as he takes both his doctrines and his conclusions from the philosopher. Hence that common axiom of the Modernist school that in the new apologetics controversies in religion must be determined by psychological and historical research. The Modernist apologists, the, enter the arena, proclaiming to the rationalists that, though they are defending religion, they have no intention of employing the data of the sacred books or the histories in current use in the Church, and written upon the old lines, but real history composed on modern principles and according to the modern method. In all this they assert that they are not using an argumentation ad hominem, because they are really of the opinion that the truth is to be found only in this kind of history. They feel that it is not necessary for them to make profession of their own sincerity in their writings. They are already known to and praised by the rationalists as fighting under the same banner, and they not only plume themselves on these encomiums, which would only provoke disgust in a real Catholic, but use them as a counter-compensation to the reprimands of the Church.

Modernist Apologetic Methodology

Let us see how the Modernist conducts his apologetics. The aim he sets before himself is to make one who is still without faith attain that experience of the Catholic religion which, according to the system, is the sole basis of faith. There are two ways open to him, the objective and the subjective. The first of them starts from agnosticism. It tends to show that religion, and especially the Catholic religion, is endowed with such vitality as to compel every psychologist and historian of good faith to recognize that its history hides some element of the unknown. To this end it is necessary to prove that the Catholic religion, as it exists today, is that which has founded by Jesus Christ; that is to say, that it is nothing else than the progressive development of the germ which He brought into the world. Hence it is imperative first of all to establish what this germ was, and this the Modernist claims to be able to do by the following formula: Christ announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, which was to be realized within a brief lapse of time and of which He was to become the Messias, the divinely-given founder and ruler. Then it must be shown how this germ, always immanent and permanent in the Catholic religion, has gone on slowly developing in the course of history, adapting itself successively to the different circumstances through which it has passed, borrowing from them by vital assimilation all the doctrinal, cultural, ecclesiastical forms that served its purpose; while, on the other hand, it surmounted all obstacles, vanquished all enemies, and survived all assaults and all combats. Anyone who well and duly considers this mass of obstacles, adversaries, attacks, combats, and the vitality and fecundity which the Church has shown throughout them all, must admit that if the laws of evolution are visible in her life they fail to explain the whole of her history – the unknown rises forth from it and presents itself before us. Thus do they argue, not perceiving that their determination of the primitive germ is only an a priori assumption of agnostic and evolutionist philosophy, and that the germ itself has been gratuitously defined so that it may fit in with their contention.


 

– 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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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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Saints, Theology

Silence & Sainthood

“At the heart of man there is an innate silence, for God abides in the innermost part of every person. God is silence, and this divine silence dwells in man. In God we are inseparably bound up with silence. The Church can affirm that mankind is the daughter of a silent God; for men are the sons of silence.”

– Cardinal Robert Sarah, The Power of Silence


While reading through Cardinal Robert Sarah’s book, The Power of Silence, I am pushed to ask myself how it is that men in the world might achieve moments of silence with God. When surrounded by calamity, how can those of us living in the midst of unending spiritual attack achieve an inner calmness that patiently waits for the silence from which Benedictine Monk Reading Sacred ScriptureGod works?

Not all are called to be monks secluded from the world in pursuit of mystical ecstasies few ever reach; and yet, we are all called to be Holy in an unholy world. Indeed, all of us are called to be Saints. I cannot accept the idea that we are all called by God to know and love Him through Jesus Christ while only some are meant to do so in a saintly manner. This would mean that mediocrity in pursuit of God is a normative way of life for many in the Church.

To be sure, there are gradations of sainthood within each individual calling.

There is only one Saint Benedict.

There is only one Saint Francis of Assisi.

There is only one Saint Dominic.

There is only one Saint Bonaventure.

There is only one Saint Thomas Aquinas.

There is only one Saint Robert Bellarmine.

There is only one Saint Francis de Sales.

There is only one Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux.

There is only one Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

We are not meant to be another Saint fill-in-the-blank. We are called to be the first and last saint as we are created to be in union with God through Jesus Christ.

My brother, my sister – you are called to know, love, and serve God as a saint.

Holiness must be achieved in the stillness of the inner life while surrounded by the spiritual toxins of a fallen world.

It can be achieved, however, because we have the litany of the saints proving it can be done.

What will this take? How can we remain at peace in our heart and mind while surrounded by the chaos of a culture intentionally created to squander holiness to the distractions of materiality?

The answer is simple, but the path is not easy.

We can achieve union with Christ in a saintly way through the discipline of the narrow way that Christ taught, and the saints relentlessly pursued.

This kind of discipline, as so many saints instructed, is achieved gradually in little steps. Start small. This week go to daily Mass. Take it one day at a time. If you miss a day, don’t skip the rest of the week because of a single failure. Get back on track the next day. The devil relishes in mistakes that are projected into the future as inevitable defeat.

After consistently getting to daily Mass, take another step toward holiness with a new practice. Get to daily Mass and pray the Rosary everyday.

After consistently getting to daily Mass and praying the Rosary everyday, take another step toward holiness with a new practice. Get to daily Mass, pray the Rosary everyday, and read the Sacred Page.

And this continues until the habit of pursuing Christ is formed into holy sainthood.

There is no temporal good that can measure in comparison to Christ.

Discipline will lead to silence, which inexorably leads to God.

 

– 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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Apologetics, G.K. Chesterton, Philosophy, Theology

Chesterton Weighs Sola Scriptura and it is Found Wanting

G.K. Chesterton Portrait“The usual protest of the Protestant, that the Church of Rome is afraid of the Bible, did not, as I shall explain in a moment, have any great terrors for me at any time. This was by no merit of my own, but by the accident of my age and situation. For I grew up in a world in which the Protestants, who had just proved that Rome did not believe the Bible, were excitedly discovering that they did not believe the Bible themselves. Some of them even tried to combine the two condemnations and say that they were steps of progress. The next step in progress consisted in a man kicking his father for having locked up a book of such beauty and value, a book which the son then proceeded to tear into a thousand pieces. I early discovered that progress is worse than Protestantism so far as stupidity is concerned. But most of the free-thinkers who were friends of mine happened to think sufficiently freely to see that the Higher Criticism was much more of an attack on the Protestant Bible-worship than on Roman authority. Anyhow, my family and friends were more concerned with the opening of the book of Darwin than the book of Daniel; and most of them regarded the Hebrew Scriptures as if they were Hittite sculptures. But even then, it would seem odd to worship the sculptures as gods and then smash them as idols and still go on blaming somebody else for not having worshipped them enough. But here again it is hard for me to know how far my own experience is representative, or whether it would not be well to say more of these purely Protestant prejudices and doubts than I, from my own experience, am able to say.

To this I owe the fact that I find it very difficult to take some of the Protestant propositions even seriously. What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense. The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests and some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on. I can understand the spectator saying, “this is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.” But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll off the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of the particular creed? To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible.  To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man on the street.”

– G.K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion –


 

– Lucas G. Westman

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