Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God Exists, You Don't Need Religious Texts to Know It.

You and I exist, but we might not have.  Humans exist, but they might not have.  The earth and other planets exist, but they might not have.  Our universe exists, but it might not have.  Phew, that's enough. Seemingly, everything that exists might not have.

Neither we, humans, the Earth, or the universe is the explanation of its own existence. My existence was contingent upon something else--my parents.  I am a receiver of existence. So are my parents.

It is impossible to conceive of a universe in which all things are receivers of existence. It's easy to realize this when we put it into terms.  If all things which existed were receivers of existence, it would go on forever.  One might ask, "What's the problem with this? Can't there be an infinite number of events before right now?"  The answer is simply, "No."  That would mean we counted through an infinite number of events to reach right now. It is impossible to count to infinite.

The Need for a Giver
Logic requires a starting point, or a giver. Contingent existence requires that something exists in its own right.  It "is".  For simplicity sake, let's refer to this being as the "giver".

Often, I hear, "But, what accounts for the giver's existence? Where does the giver come from?"  The answer is something you will have to follow closely.  Since this giver is not contingent, the source of the giver's existence is contained within the giver itself. This means there is something about what the giver is that requires its exist. "What" something is refers to the nature of a being.  My nature is human, which means I possess certain qualities.  One is that I am contingent. We may, or may not exist.  The giver on the other hand must exist. The giver cannot not exist. The giver, is existence.  This is the Primary Truth about "the giver".

(As a side note, it might shock some of you to know philosophers realized this 5 centuries before Christ).

What This Tells Us about Our Giver
Some of you are saying, "So what?  That doesn't mean a whole lot.  So there's a reason we all exist.  It doesn't tell us anything about this 'giver person'."

One thing we can know is that the giver exists without limit. There is no deficiency about being. Deficiencies are that which are not. The giver exists to the fullest of existence.  The giver is infinite.   This means the giver exists in the perfections of all things.  For instance, the giver could not make something exist that the giver is not.  Since we can see and hear, we know that the giver can see all and hear all.  Furthermore, knowledge and charity are found in created things.  This means the giver must know all and love all. That means the cosmic being, far away from us in the order of existence, is also close and personal with us. It knows and loves us.

For Today, This is What We Know
1. We are contingent, and contingent beings require one who is not contingent.
2. A being that is not contingent has a nature requiring that it is existence.
3. A being that is, must exist to the fullest extent of that which are.
4. Perfections which exist in nature, must exist in the giver.  (ex: love and knowledge).
5. The giver of our existence knows and loves us.

Let that sink in for a moment, this much is knowable without Sacred Scripture, and was developed by people that did not know or follow the Judeo-Christian religions.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thinking is really hard and exposes an individual to being wrong!

Thinking is hard.  I mean, it's really hard--and if you do it, sometimes you'll be wrong.  I find the lack of emphasis on logic and reason among my peers mind boggling.  I began reading Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis two nights ago (for a 3rd time).  Here are a few reflections he has on the topic along with my additional thoughts:


"At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as a result of the chain of reasoning."

Many of us don't want to change.  We want to go with the flow.  Our life ought to reflect what we think and believe.  It's much more convenient for us if we don't hold any opinions or viewpoints--because then we can do whatever we want. 

Determining What to Think is Complicated

"[We have] been accustomed, ever since we [were little] to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside [our] heads."

Sometimes, it's really difficult to think about all the moving parts involved with different issues.  Take for instance the current gun rights/control debate.  I've been on 20 different sites and read editorials from probably 40 different individuals with various political affiliations and beliefs.  Many present compelling cases, and mutually exclusive cases.  It's often difficult to reduce their editorial into the positions the author holds.  Does one reject gun control because (s)he believes human dignity requires the freedom to defend oneself, or does (s)he reject it because (s)he believes the 2nd Amendment protects it.  Does (s)he reject it because human dignity requires better protection of innocent lives often killed by individuals using guns?  Does (s)he reject it because (s)he believes the 2nd Amendment no longer matters?  Do both parties accept it or reject it merely because their leaders tell them to do so?

To complicate matters, most of the facts on issues aren't released or presented in individual articles.  For instance, the recent legislation voted down by the Senate wasn't merely about background checks--but that's all people seem to be talking about.  Some democrats and republicans flipped (totaling 9) because they believed the bill was actually pro gun rights.  Wait, what? A bill restricting one's ability to purchase guns is pro gun rights?  Yup, because there were plenty of additional provisions that actually gave gun owners additional rights.  That's the political game.

Merely finding information on a topic is difficult.  Figuring out the political slants, underlying beliefs/assumptions, and biases is even more difficult.  Where people are coming from is an important frame of reference, but we rarely have access to it without spending a lot of time searching.

Thinking Requires that Shift Our Focus
Demon says, "Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favor, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experience."

By stopping to think about something, we have to shift our focus from the "now" into something that seems to have less substance.  We are no longer capable of using our time to pursue present desires, but we must reflect on how we ought to manage our lives.  Removing ourselves from the stream can be very difficult.

So What Can We Do?
[Demon says,] "By the very act of arguing, you awake the [individual's] reasoning; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result?"

1.  If you're Catholic, check your viewpoints against Hers.  The Church is our bastion for Truth, Justice, and Charity.  Figure out if She has an official stance on an issue.  If She does, it's right--you just need to figure out why, and be able to explain it.

2. Discuss your opinions with others, but don't force the conversation on people. As you can see by the Lewis quote above, merely engaging in the discussion might lead them (or you) to Truth.  Practicing our "thinking" abilities will get better at it in the future.  Remember not to have an unwanted conversation with others.  Forcing the issue will likely push them away from your views, even if they ultimately agree with you!

3. Be open minded, and be willing to be wrong (if She has no official stance). Engaging yourself in formulating opinions requires testing them by discussing the issues with others.  This means that you might be wrong--and that's okay!  If you're wrong, change your opinion.  That's admirable and respectable--not something to be looked down upon as it's presented by the modern media and politicians. Sometimes you might be correct about the issue, but incorrect in how you present it. Be open to changes in that regard.

4. Be charitable and loving in your discussions with others.  Even if they are of a different opinion, commend them for their thoughts.  It's difficult to be courageous enough to disagree with somebody and voice it.  "Crossing the aisle" and mending gaps requires respecting the other side.  If you can't respect their opinion, respect what they are doing.  

5. Find role models that exhibit the above behaviors when making and addressing views. Instead of having to parse through all the information, let them do it for you. Remember though, they aren't going to present all the facts.  Find somebody that does the same thing on the other side, and read that too. This will help you formulate holistic views, and protect you from saying something ignorant in discussions with others.