Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Catholic Church (an RDA-file)

It’s been a while since I did anything on my Religion Decision Aid (RDA) project, but then I stumbled over what I believe to be one of the pillars of “Catholic theory”. The Catholic Church up until today still relies on St Thomas Aquinas proofs on the existence of God. Aquinas’ proofs are published in his work “Summa Contra Gentiles”, so naturally I was curious about his evidence on the matter. As a scientist, I had an open mind… even open to the possibility that reading this stuff could forever turn me into a slave of Catholicism. Curiosity killed the cat they say… but what the hell!

This scripture in old fashioned language is a bit hard to grasp for me so I had to read it over many times… What Thomas Aquinas’ and the Catholic Church’s teachings eventually boils down to in my mind is; Desire – knowledge – happiness!

1. Desire for the first truth and cause
The last end of all man and of all his deeds and desires is to know the first truth and the first cause, namely God. Thomas further says that the men or “intelligent substance” desires happiness at the end. Happiness for men, Thomas says, is to know God! I’ve noticed in old people, that although they did not seem like very god fearing people before, they cling to a hope that there is “something”… just in case maybe? Hedging your bets! So for now I’ll give this the benefit of the doubt.

2. Knowledge - a way to happiness
Ultimate happiness can only be obtained through knowledge of God, but knowledge to what level and extent?! According to Thomas the common “knowledge” among most Christians is the general and confused knowledge of God through "opinion" or "demonstration". Way superior though is knowledge through "faith". Whether you are of the “shallow” type or you have 100% faith, Aquinas says that this is still not enough for man to be happy. Since faith is as far as a man can get in this life – you can not be happy! How sad isn’t that?! Maybe Catholics are just too demanding and expect too much??

3. Nature’s way
Aquinas says that nature does nothing in vain, so man's natural desire for happiness will be fulfilled at some stage. As no man can shun death, happiness must be fulfilled after this life! As man’s concept of truth is only through speculative science, a man's life would be in vain unless he can reach the ultimate knowledge and happiness after life. According to Aristotle and Aquinas, man's knowledge through speculative science is limited and proportionate to his capacity. “Proportionate to man’s capacity…”; this sounds very much like Chris Argyris' theory X to me (meaning basically that man is not very competent), and in this case man can not expect to get much joy out of life! In this day and age I feel this is a very negative way of seeing things… even for an ultra conservative Catholic Church!

Conclusion and RDA-rating
I deduct from this that NO catholic person can be happy, which means I would shun Catholicism more than death in the first place! The beginning and the first truth… according to science that I put my trust in is the big bang. Being a Darwinist… I have therefore already fulfilled my desire of knowledge of the first truth and cause. This ultimate knowledge can sink inn at any time during life, and you can thus reach a state of ultimate happiness and stay happy for most of your life also. Clearly this is much more enjoyable than being a depressed Catholic. Besides, before you discovered the ultimate happiness you were probably too young and immature and oblivious of the fact that you were unhappy! That means also that being an Atheist and Darwinist, your life is not in vain. It’s amazing and ironic that the teachings of the Catholic Church in fact give you a better argument to be an Atheist?! Imagine the catholic slogans; “Become a catholic, be depressed and live a long painful life in vain”! Still, there are quite a few Catholics/masochists out there…? I hope they’ve got something else and better up their sleeves!!

Thomas Aquinas made use of Aristotle’s rationalism to give his own theories some oomph. Aquinas, Aristotle and not to mention the Pope and numerous saints, although bold and famous names, does not bring the Catholic Church high up on my ranking. I've always wondered though, whether they sing "When the saints go marching in" in the Vatican... maybe when a new Pope is elected?!

Since nature does nothing in vain, this was Aquinas' and the Catholic Church's proof that there is something after death. However, they do not provide much information about exactly what happens after death (unlike Hinduism)... which leaves Catholics in "limbo" whether you are baptized or not! Only that you will "know and be happy"! With some goodwill this adds some amount of credibility, since nobody have so far reported first hand on the "ultimate knowledge and happiness" and what it entails!!

I was surprised that this is still the proof of God in this day and age. To me this is only a weak explanation that is crowbared to serve the purpose, but no proof! I believe in evolution, that I belive can be proved scientifically. Nevertheless it does not exclude the possibility that a God was behind the Big Bang or at some point in time. Either way you come short and can't prove it! So why can't the Catholic Church or any religion just tell it like it is - you have to choose whether you want to believe or not! Belief is so far as far as we can get in this life, but still not in vain!

Come to think about it, I really have to fill out my RDA scorecards in order to get some sense of all this. As for now they seem to make a cluster “not very high up on the ranking", which is not very specific. I promise to work it out... some time soon!!


Anonymous said...

Nice summary, best i've seen in fact.
Yes, you're evil, bad, rotten and worthless UNLESS you devote every second and cent on US you'll live in hell forever.
Makes me sad to see how that crap is still working.
PS, Buddhism has similar tenets, which is why Buddhism is also a sad religion.

Jonny said...

Thanx man... reading the stuff actually made me want to hunt down all the ancient scriptures and disect them... with an objective mind of course :-)

beaverboosh said...

Hey dude,
It's a great reminder of how many tenets are fundamental truisms. The leap from this juncture to organised religion, in this case Catholicism, takes the (historical) patience of a vintner in Burgundy in a summer of hail storms.
A very “god nytt år” to you and yours!
P.S. Mrs BB is singing me “Nå er det jul egen”!