Yesterday’s multiple reactions to “Habeas Corpus” and the reasons for believing in Jesus’ Resurrection have given me the ambition of attempting, for brevity’s sake, to comment on all of them in one fell swoop. But first a necessary preliminary remark : I have, in several previous posts, raised the question about the pointlessness of Dialogues of the Deaf between confirmed atheists and non-atheists. Televised debates between Richard Dawkins and Cardinal George Pell are the classic example. Their only real value, apart from entertainment similar to that of the corrida or the gladiatorial arena, is to perhaps provide reasons for Believers on the Brink to reaffirm, or definitively renounce, their faith. No confirmed believers are going to change their opinion, no matter what I say, any more than the comments of my mainly new readers – a sincere welcome to you all – which I have respectfully perused, have in any way shaken my convictions. We have no hope of converting each other. The Franciscan University video, presented in one of the comments (Mysterium Fidei, 10:32am), of a dialogue between three of its Professors and Robert Spencer, explicitly concludes with the regretted admission of the impossibility of genuine dialogue between Christianity and Islam. Gung-ho atheists and Catholic apologists face, I fear, the same impossibility.
Mysterium Fidei (10:05am) : Pope John Paul 2 was no more an historian than I. The Pontiff’s “apology” for the Crusades, quoted in the video, is motivated by the same reasons he had to recognize what I called our “past crimes”. The question is particularly pertinent and topical on the very day Barack Obama launched his justification for attacking Islamic State. More will undoubtedly be said about this new “Crusade” in the coming months.
Siena (7:28am) : I will leave Ahmet to respond to this attack on the Qu’ran as historically false. But this second new reader raised the question of my own possible opinion about whether Jesus really existed; I have in other posts said that I have no serious reason to question the fact. Which does nothing, of course, to corroborate claims of His supposed Resurrection or other “miracles”.
Jim (12:20am) : Jim believes that no Christian apology is needed for the Crusades. Many Christian historians would agree with him (but keep in mind my earlier comment about the Crusades and Pope JP 2). And Jim, I’m proud of the fact that as a kid I was in fact a “paper-boy”, one of the many details I did not include in the autobiographical chapters of my book. (I also delivered ice, at 4:30 in the morning, to kitchen ice-chests in Kogarah, driving a horse-drawn wagon. Fair dinkum !)
Mysterium Fidei (10:47am) : The fact that certain pious books written by believers are considered “classics” of French, Spanish and English literature has the same apologetic weight as the respect world-wide for the writings of Voltaire. One day, this Blog . . .
Jim (4:21am) : Jim seems to think that for someone to possess a right, it has to have been given by somebody, e.g., the universal right to believe or not believe. No one decreed that I have the right to urinate. But at the Marist Brothers’ school we attended together, Jim, I was on one memorable occasion refused that right, in spite of its imperious necessity of being recognized . . .
Mystrerium Fidei (9:47am) : 1. We have an ontological value beyond that of pigs. Whoever said we were “just animals” ? Not me ! But like them, since neither they nor we have an immortal “soul”, we definitively cease to exist at death. I never met a pig which could read this Blog. Maybe like some humans, they just prefer not to. 2. I am not a “programmed machine” and find a viable basis for justice and law in the intrinsic value of every human being. Neither Francis nor Adolph had any need of a “moral law-giver” to tell them what was right and wrong in their treatment of fellow human beings. Behavior is not right or wrong because it respects or violates the laws of a divine “ultimate authority” and “transcendental source”. Human laws are made because rational people recognize, and demand respect for, their own and others’ rights.
Jim (4:40am) : Jim wants to “return to (his) central topic” : the First Cause and his patented Six Steps. He wants to avoid, even if we accept the existence of his “God”, the nasty examples this Blog offers of how silly and incredible religious belief and practice are. “Ridenda Religio” is the point – not Five Proofs or even Six Steps.
Mysterium Fidei (10:54am) : Redemptorists in Parish Missions used to try to scare us into toeing the straight and narrow by saying that death could strike us at any time. I always thought that Jesuits, like my Paris Professors in the Institut Catholique, were a cut above fire-and-brimstone preachers. Do you seriously believe that the possibility of sudden death is news to us, that we need a reminder and that you need to put the fear of God into us ? MF, this is not your most intelligent contribution (the others are … a cut above), but I am happy to have you join us on the Blog nonetheless.