20 Jun 2017

Francis not yet a manifest heretic? This is serious!

by Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi
Heretics praying for "Cardinal" Bergoglio

Heretics praying for "Pope" Francis.
Yesterday I read a certain article on the recent letter sent to Francis by the Dubia Cardinals. (In case you haven’t read the letter, here is it: Full Text of Dubia Cardinals’ Letter Asking Pope for an Audience.) On the comments section of the article, one commentator said the following:

“...Bergoglio knows full-well he is guilty and is refusing correction. There is only one recourse: the Cardinals must formally and publicly denounce him for heresy and seek an immediate retraction. If Bergoglio refuses, then his heresy is manifest and pertinacious, and he must be formally deposed. I don't care if the denunciation comes from only the four of them, but come it must, and soon.”

These comments are just funny. “If Bergoglio refuses, then his heresy is manifest and pertinacious.” So? So, up till now — with all the atrocities Bergoglio has committed from 2013 till now — his “heresy” is still not “manifest”? And will never be unless he refuses to answer the cardinals! This is serious. But I don’t blame the person commenting — the blame goes to the innumerable lying “Catholic” journalists around the world who, by their manifest lack of interest in what the Church really teaches with respect to manifest heretics, are just helping to harbour Bergoglio. The commentator was merely saying what he learnt from these journalists. 

What we should all note is the fact that the cardinals themselves — I mean even the Dubia Cardinals themselves — also have serious problems with Church teachings. They don’t accept all that the Church teaches, rather they pick and choose what they want to believe, and reject the rest of Church teachings. That’s why we notice that Bergoglio has even openly and officially contradicted some of the dogmas of the Church but these cardinals have no problem with that. Let us note that the war Bergoglio is leading right now was actually a war started by the other Vatican II popes—John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. Some of these Dubia Cardinals were cardinals during the pontificates of some of these popes, and they had no problem with all that they did and taught. They are all products of Vatican II and that's why in one way or the other they always try to defend the errors of that heretical Council. All this clearly shows that — as far as Church teaching is concerned — anyone who depends on these cardinals will simply remain in error. In order to know what the Church really teaches, we must then go back to the pre-Vatican II period.

However, we commend the cardinals’ courageous effort. See, for instance, If the dubia go unanswered, the consequences could be catastrophic.  

The articles below are well documented cases of what Francis has done and still does, what he taught and still teaches. Of course these are in no way all, but these few documented cases tell us who the man really is. Some of the articles also tell us who is a manifest heretic and what the Church really teaches regarding manifest heretics. Let us review them:

19 Jun 2017

Discernment of Situation


by Douglas Farrow (March 2017)
Francis and his fellow heretical "Jesuits"
“In other words, how are we to reckon with a situation, nicely timed to the quincentenary of the Reformation, in which being Catholic begins to look quite a lot like being Protestant?” (Douglas Farrow, March 2017.)

“Is the pope Catholic?” used to be an answer, not a question. Alas, it has become a question; or rather it has become five questions, in the form of the dubia put to Pope Francis by four of his cardinals. In good Jesuit fashion, Francis seems to be making his reply by other means—since responding directly to dubia is apparently distasteful, as even the Prefect of the Holy Office Gerhard Cardinal Müller has now said. Thus far, the replies (comments about pharisaical doctors of the law, and that sort of thing) are not very reassuring. Actually, very little one hears from the Vatican these days reassures.

This leaves those of us who are struggling with “discernment of situations” (to use the phrase from Familiaris Consortio that was taken up by Amoris Laetitia) in some perplexity, not so much in the matter of marriage and family life as in the life of the Church herself. Reckoning with a pope whose own remarks seem somewhat erratic is one thing. But how are we to reckon with a situation in which the administration of the sacraments, and the theology behind their administration, is succumbing, with his blessing, to regionalism? In other words, how are we to reckon with a situation, nicely timed to the quincentenary of the Reformation, in which being Catholic begins to look quite a lot like being Protestant?

The trauma of the two synods on the family, which led to Amoris and to the dubia, is a trauma for which Francis himself is largely responsible. The ongoing rebellion against Humanae Vitae and Veritatis Splendor is something that he has permitted, if not encouraged. And the flaws in Amoris are of his making. His unwillingness to respond directly to the dubia is not, then, a matter of taste only. In any event, the very fact that the dubia have been put—and they have been well put, whether or not they should have been put publicly—has carried the whole difficulty beyond matters of taste. Cardinal Müller’s denial that there is a doctrinal problem here is unconvincing.

Before I go any further, it is necessary to say something about the assumptions underlying these remarks. When I first criticized the synod’s Instrumentum Laboris in my online article for First Things, “Twelve Fatal Flaws,” I did not know how far the pope himself was in sympathy with the working document. Within a few days that sympathy was evident, just as it was evident that the synod was divided on important issues of faith and practice, with some leading bishops clearly concerned about Francis’s own views, attitudes, and actions. This is hardly the first time in the history of the Church that such a situation has occurred. Indeed, we encounter it in Acts. Which is to say: Being Catholic does not mean refusing to be critical of the bishop of Rome. There are times when one must be critical, and this is such a time.

By divine providence, the papacy has evolved over the centuries into a more vital feature of the Church in its daily function than it was in earlier eras. Modern technology has had something to do with that. But by the same providence, the papacy has been allowed to fall, at various points, into the most frightful parody of itself. We may be very thankful that this is not the case today. It is not merely poor history, however, but a false and dangerous papolatry—Catholics, not Protestants, should be the first to say so—to fancy that the Vicar of Christ is somehow above criticism, as if he were Christ himself.

Certainly the doctrine of infallibility entails no such thing, whether about the person of the pope or about particular papal documents. Infallibility is a guarantee regarding the magisterium, of which the pope, in and between ecumenical councils, is the primary guardian. The pope is not, however, its master. The Church has but one master, our Lord Jesus Christ. When on any serious matter one papal statement is in conflict with another, it is the task of the whole apostolic college to sort things out. As the First Vatican Council makes clear, this must be done with the pope, not apart from him, but there is nothing in the deliverances of that council or any other to the effect that the pope may not need sorting out. St. Peter himself needed sorting out, from time to time.

Now, there is conflict between the tradition as it appears in Trent and later councils, in papal or magisterial documents right through to the previous pontificate, and what is said or implied in Amoris; or rather, there is a conflict within Amoris, which both holds and does not hold to the tradition. If there were no conflict, there would have been no dubia. Since the conflict touches on the sacraments themselves, and not merely on pastoral judgment with respect to the sacraments, it must be resolved, however painful the process. But, like Francis, a good many bishops lack the will to resolve it. In fact, some of them have gone altogether soft on the sacraments, or on anything resembling sacramental discipline, and, sadly, they are appealing to Francis for justification. If ever a discernment of situation were called for, it is called for now.

The first of the dubia asks whether “it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio [in a marital way] without fulfilling the conditions” laid out in Familiaris Consortio. The burden of the others is to enquire whether we may now safely set aside the teaching of Veritatis Splendor that neither circumstances nor intentions can render a bad act good, and that no manipulation of conscience can do so either.

Some prelates have already answered the first question with a yes, and are acting upon that answer. Others are saying no, or (like Cardinal Müller) saying in effect: of course not—the question need not even be asked. But it does need to be asked, as developments from the Americas to Malta make clear, and not only in the present form. It needs to be asked with respect to contraception, for example. Indeed, the refusal to ask it in that connection has led to the present situation. It also needs to be asked with respect to suicide and euthanasia, as we are discovering here in Canada.

I want to dwell for a moment on the Canadian situation. In Canada, regionalism is, so to speak, in our DNA. I will not go back as far as the notorious Winnipeg Statement, by means of which our bishops, in response to Humanae Vitae, took the doors to the internal forum right off their hinges, permitting the faithful to decide freely for themselves, without any fear of sacramental discipline, whether contraception is or isn’t a grave sin. I want instead to make clear the current situation, in which bishops in the eastern provinces have (with a few exceptions) taken much the same posture toward assisted suicide and euthanasia. The choice of these newly legal practices is discouraged but not forbidden. To choose them over natural death is not (or not necessarily) a barrier to participation in the sacraments of reconciliation, Eucharist, or healing. Much less is it an impediment to a church funeral.

The contrary stance, which some of us urged upon the bishops from the outset for the sake of both the Church and the country, has been rejected by Cardinal Lacroix in Quebec City and by the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly. The former’s rejection appeared on Facebook during the media firestorm generated by a document from the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories—a model guide for clergy that stresses both pastoral readiness to accompany anyone who desires accompaniment and sacramental discipline for those who purposefully persist on the path to the mortal sin of suicide. Those western bishops, to their credit, have taken a similarly clear stance with respect to divorce and remarriage, while the primate and most of their colleagues east of Montreal appear to want no part in such countercultural shenanigans.

For the latter, not much has changed since 1968, apart from the near-complete collapse of their churches’ political and cultural relevance—that, and the fact that they can now appeal to the pope, rather than fight against him. Witness the Atlantic bishops’ “Pastoral Reflection on Medical Assistance in Dying” (yes, they actually use the preferred political euphemism), which, while making several sound points about the sacraments and rejecting suicide in principle, works its way toward this sorry conclusion: “As people of faith, and ministers of God’s grace, we are called to entrust everyone, whatever their decisions may be, to the mercy of God. To one and all we wish to say that the pastoral care of souls cannot be reduced to norms for the reception of the sacraments or the celebration of funeral rites.”

In other words, the most important thing in discerning situations is not this principle or that, but, well, discerning situations. Which is not really very difficult, because in the final analysis there is only one situation: Whatever your decision, we will commend you to God.

This unprincipled accompaniment forgets divine justice in its rush to divine mercy. It forgets that God himself, “when giving counsel, is present with those who attend to moral discipline” rather than with those who ignore it, as Irenaeus reminds us. It is Winnipeg all over again. There, the bishops made themselves chaplains to the contraceptive culture; here, to the culture of death. But here they justify themselves, as they could not there, by what is perhaps the single most problematic remark by a pontiff given to problematic remarks: “Pope Francis also calls us to practice this ‘art of accompaniment,’” they write, “removing our ‘sandals’ before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5).”

This Levinas-like expression is lifted from Evangelii Gaudium, §169, as quoted by the Synod on the Family’s final report. Let us stop to think about it.

At the burning bush, Moses fails to discern his situation. He is told to take off his sandals because, standing in the presence of YHWH himself, he is standing on holy ground. Now, by way of the doctrine of the imago dei and the link between love of God and love of neighbor, we can and do arrive at a concept of the sanctity of the human person, a sanctity derived from the holiness of God himself. This derivative character, however, is the very thing at stake at present.

When Moses returns to the holy mountain with his people, they are warned first and foremost to acknowledge no other gods and to make no idolatrous image. That commandment, together with the commandment against killing, is broken when we embrace suicide or euthanasia. Why? Because we claim that our lives are ours independently of God, that we possess them in such a way as to have the right to their disposal. We do likewise at the other end of life when we embrace contraception and abortion. We do it in the middle, as it were, when we claim the right to determine our own “gender identity” or to “marry” a same-sex partner. Throughout the West, all these actions have now been approved in law—steered through Parliament, in Canada, under Catholic prime ministers absorbed in the idolatry of our age.

What irony there is, then, in this appeal to Exodus to justify the kind of “pastoral accompaniment” that refuses to discipline sacramentally those who have chosen the path of self-assertion and self-destruction! It is scandalous (I do not use the word lightly) that an assembly of bishops should take up this analogy, which transfers the concept of “sacred ground” from God to man, and use it to deny the clear moral judgment of the Church against suicide and euthanasia.

The Atlantic Episcopal Assembly’s pastoral statement, it grieves me to say, reads like a document either entirely ignorant of Veritatis Splendor or deliberately opposed to it. Here, indeed, “freedom is exalted almost to the point of idolatry” (Veritatis Splendor). Here the focus is on situations “which are very complex and obscure from a psychological viewpoint,” but “in such a way that it objectively changes or casts doubt upon the traditional concept of mortal sin.” Here is an “attempt to adapt the moral norm to one’s own capacities and personal interests,” even to “the rejection of the very idea of a norm.” Here it is forgotten that “Christian moral teaching must be one of the chief areas in which we [bishops] exercise our pastoral vigilance, in carrying out our munus regale.” Here “the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuals but also for the whole of society,” is not recognized. Here is not that “evangelical simplicity,” that following of Christ, which leads to “a more genuine understanding of reality” and draws out “the distinctive character of authentic Christian morality, while providing the vital energy needed to carry it out.” Here is only scandal, the scandal of bishop against bishop, and of bishops permitting their priests to offer the sacraments where mortal sin is being committed.

The pope, for his part, seems untroubled by this scandal. Perhaps he is unaware of it, or of his own role in it. Or perhaps, since the bishops are not only using his words but following his example, he thinks it no scandal. Perhaps he, too, mistaking real compassion for false, thinks Canada’s western bishops hard-hearted Pharisees. I don’t know. I do know that the Church has been under extraordinary pressure to compromise the sacraments and, just so, to change the Gospel that is embodied in them. And that from Rome, as from our own primatial see in Quebec City, we hear at best an uncertain sound on the trumpet.

Some are saying that the Church is entering a time of crisis, the likes of which we have not seen since the fourth century. If they are right, this removal of apostolic sandals before the autonomous man is just one indicator of that crisis. Another is the disunity among the bishops over these matters. That, as Cyril of Jerusalem observes in his fifteenth catechetical lecture, is a sign of Antichrist and of the second advent. It is “a sign proper to the Church,” because it goes to the core of the Church.

My own effort to read the signs of the times (along the lines laid out in my book Ascension Theology) is not entirely conclusive about the scope of the present crisis or the point we occupy in the history of salvation. Things have happened in recent days—both a sudden acceleration of the mystery of lawlessness and a marked increase in fractiousness within the Church—that impart a new sense of urgency. What is certain is that we are living in a long period of apostasy and of purification. In St. Peter’s words, “the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God.”

It can be no surprise, then, that the sacraments are under renewed attack. For the sacraments are the means by which the Church is ordered and by which she distinguishes, on a practical level, between good and evil. (What is the point of forbidding the evil of divorce, if not to uphold the good of marriage and its witness to the covenant of our salvation? What is the point of forbidding suicide and euthanasia, if not to uphold the sanctity of life and the good of honoring the Lord and Giver of Life?) The sacraments, of course, are much more than that. They are instruments of grace by which God communicates to us his own life through participation in our Lord Jesus Christ. They are not rewards for goodness, but the means of sharing in the God who is good. That is why they are holy sacraments, and it is their very holiness that makes them the object of attack.

If the sacraments were merely means of moral and ecclesial order, or rewards for goodness, it might very well be “pharisaical” to deny them to those deemed somehow disordered, given that we are all disordered, each in our own way. We might then appeal for greater flexibility in sacramental discipline, tempering our concern for justice by our concern for mercy. But the sacraments are not ours; they are Christ’s—just as our bodies are not strictly ours, but have been reclaimed by God in Christ. We do no justice to the mercy of Christ, we show no mercy to those who would enter the justice of Christ, if we change the conditions for reception of the sacraments to conform to private decisions about good and evil.

The regionalism that we are currently witnessing in the West, under the rubric of “discernment of situations,” is the result of a failure to discern both the nature of the sacraments and the situation of the Church. The old gods, sex, mammon, and death, are reviving and reasserting themselves as the gods of autonomy. They are beginning to press their hands on the faithless and the faithful alike. They are groping even for the holy sacraments, that they might defile them. In this situation, do we really need more talk about the internal forum and “the sacred ground of the other”?

Surely what we need to hear is that God himself, and God alone, is the source of our sanctity. We need to hear that God is equally and indissolubly, without shadow of turning or contradiction, the God of mercy and of justice, of goodness and of judgment, of love and of holiness. If we do not know and recognize him thus in the sacraments, we become like those of whom Irenaeus wrote—those who, by trying to divide God, deprive themselves of the benefits both of his justice and of his goodness. We fail to discern our situation.

I, for one, do not hear this from the priest in my own parish. I do not hear it from the wise men to the East, on either side of the Atlantic, who seem to imagine that good and evil are one thing here and another thing there. I do not hear it, at least not clearly, from the Holy Father in Rome. He seems to be disciplining us, “for a short time, at his pleasure,” and we must respect him as best we can. But how much more must we respect the Father of spirits, who “disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness”?

The Book of Hebrews, which the Church has recently been reading in its daily lections, is all about discernment of situations. At its climax, in chapter 12, it not only places our Eucharistic feasts in their proper context, but reminds us of the right response to discipline and warns us against the error of Esau, that paradigm of failure to discern:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled; that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

No doubt there is something different, in every sentence of this paragraph, for each of us to attend to, but its final line stands out as a query to us all. The sacraments are the birth rites of the Church and the birthright of Christians. Are they somehow being sold or sold out? And if so, for what?

It is only just, I think, to invite the Atlantic bishops, among whom I number at least one friend and father in God, to be the first to answer.

Douglas B. Farrow is professor of Christian thought at McGill University. This article was first published in March, 2017, by firstthings.com.

Please note: 

  • While we praise Prof. Farrow’s courage to point out Francis’ errors in this good article (something which millions of "Catholic" intellectuals out there simply can't do), it’s also important to point out his flaw—acknowledging a manifest heretic as pope. Also, his comparing of the scandal of Francis’ “papacy” to the “papacy of the past” is just ridiculous! (See the article: Why does Father Paul Kramer still maintain that Francis is not the true pope?)
  • One of the Dubia Cardinals, Carlo Cardinal Caffarra, has written a letter to Francis, signed by the other three cardinals, asking for an audience to discuss deep concerns over the scandalous "apostolic" exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love.) See: Full Text of Dubia Cardinals’ Letter Asking Pope for an Audience.

16 Jun 2017

The Vatican's View of Evolution: The Story of Two Popes

 by Doug Linder (2004)


"Big Bang theories become a problem for Catholic theology only when they consider “the moment of creation.”  That, at least, is what Pope John Paul allegedly told Stephen Hawking and other physicists during an audience that followed a papal scientific conference on cosmology.  (Some scientists dispute Hawking's account, and say that the Pope suggested no limitations on their inquiry.) The Pope told the physicists they should not inquire into the Big Bang itself because that was “the work of God.”  Stephen W. Hawking, in his “A Brief History of Time”, reported that he was among those physicists whom the Pope privately addressed.  He wrote:

"I was glad then that he did not know the subject of the talk I had just given at the conference—the possibility that space-time was finite but had no boundary, which means that it had no beginning, no moment of Creation."

The relationship between the papacy and scientists has sometimes—just ask Galileo—been testy.  Interestingly, however, the Catholic Church has largely sat out the cultural battle over the teaching of evolution.  One of the reasons Catholics have remained largely on the sidelines is the well-established system of parochial schools in the United States, which make state laws relating to the public school curriculum of much less concern to Catholic clergy and parents than to Protestant clergy and parents.  A second reason is that the Catholic Church, at least in the twentieth century, takes a more flexible approach to the interpreting Genesis than do several Protestant denominations.  

H. L. Mencken expressed admiration for how Catholics handled the evolution issue:

[The advantage of Catholics] lies in the simple fact that they do not have to decide either for Evolution or against it.  Authority has not spoken on the subject; hence it puts no burden upon conscience, and may be discussed realistically and without prejudice.  A certain wariness, of course, is necessary.  I say that authority has not spoken; it may, however, speak tomorrow, and so the prudent man remembers his step.  But in the meanwhile there is nothing to prevent him examining all available facts, and even offering arguments in support of them or against them—so long as those arguments are not presented as dogma.  (STJ, 163)

A majority of American Catholics probably sided with the prosecution in the Scopes trial, but—with one notable exception, defense attorney Dudley Field Malone—all the major participants in the controversy, from the author of the Butler Act, to the defendant, the judge, the jury, and the lawyers were either members of Protestant churches or were non-churchgoers.  Catholics tended to be viewed with some skepticism in Dayton; local prosecutor Sue Hicks discouraged William Jennings Bryan’s suggestion that Senator T. J. Walsh of Montana, a Roman Catholic, be added to the prosecution team.  (SOG, 131-32)  The Catholic Press Association did take enough interest in the case, however, to send a top correspondent to Dayton to cover the trial for diocesan newspapers.  Writing from Tennessee, reporter Benedict Elder wrote, “Although as Catholics we do not go quite as far as Mr. Bryan on the Bible, we do want it preserved.”  (SOG, 127)

Pope Pius XII, a deeply conservative man, directly addressed the issue of evolution in a 1950 encyclical, Humani Generis.  The document makes plain the pope’s fervent hope that evolution will prove to be a passing scientific fad, and it attacks those persons who “imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution …explains the origin of all things.”  Nonetheless, Pius XII states that nothing in Catholic doctrine is contradicted by a theory that suggests one specie might evolve into another—even if that specie is man.  The Pope declared:

"The Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experiences in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter—for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God."
Pius XII
In other words, the Pope could live with evolution, so long as the process of “ensouling” humans was left to God.  (He also insisted on a role for Adam, whom he believed committed a sin— mysteriously passed along through the “doctrine of original sin”—that has affected all subsequent generations.) Pius XII cautioned, however, that he considered the jury still out on the question of evolution’s validity.  It should not be accepted, without more evidence, “as though it were a certain proven doctrine.”  (ROA, 81)

Pope John Paul II revisited the question of evolution in a 1996 message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.   Unlike Pius XII, John Paul is broadly read, and embraces science and reason.  He won the respect of many scientists in 1993, when in April 1993 he formally acquitted Galileo, 360 years after his indictment, of heretical support for Copernicus’s heliocentrism.  The pontiff began his statement with the hope that “we will all be able to profit from the fruitfulness of a trustful dialogue between the Church and science.”  Evolution, he said, is “an essential subject which deeply interests the Church.”  He recognized that science and Scripture sometimes have “apparent contradictions,” but said that when this is the case, a “solution” must be found because “truth cannot contradict truth.”  The Pope pointed to the Church’s coming to terms with Galileo’s discoveries concerning the nature of the solar system as an example of how science might inspire the Church to seek a new and “correct interpretation of the inspired word.”

When the pope came to the subject of the scientific merits of evolution, it soon became clear how much things had changed in the nearly fifty years since the Vatican last addressed the issue.  John Paul said:

"Today, almost half a century after publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis.  It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge.  The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favour of the theory."

Evolution, a doctrine that Pius XII only acknowledged as an unfortunate possibility, John Paul accepts forty-six years later “as an effectively proven fact.”  (ROA, 82)
John Paul II
Pope John Paul’s words on evolution received major play in international news stories.  Evolution proponents such as Stephen Jay Gould enthusiastically welcomed what he saw as the Pope’s endorsement of evolution.  Gould was reminded of a passage in Proverbs (25:25): “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  (ROA, 820)  Creationists, however, expressed dismay at the pontiff’s words and suggested that the initial news reports might have been based on a faulty translation. (John Paul gave the speech in French.)  Perhaps, some creationists argued, the pope really said, “the theory evolution is more than one hypothesis,” not “the theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis.”  If that were so, the Pope might have been suggesting that there are multiple theories of evolution, and all of them might be wrong.

The “faulty translation” theory, however, suffered at least two problems.  Most obviously, the theory collapsed when the Catholic News Service of the Vatican confirmed that the Pope did indeed mean “more than a hypothesis,” not “more than one hypothesis.”  The other problem stemmed from a reading of the passage in more complete context.  In the speech, the Pope makes clear in his speech that he understood the difference between evolution (the highly probable fact) and the mechanism for evolution, a matter of hot dispute among scientists.  John Paul said, “And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution.”  He recognized that there were “different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution” and different “philosophies” upon which the theory of evolution is based.  The philosophy out of bounds to Catholics, the pope indicated, is one which is “materialist” and which denies the possibility that man “was created in the image and likeness of God.”  Human dignity, the pope suggested, cannot be reconciled with such a “reductionist” philosophy.  Thus, as with Pius XII, the critical teaching of the Church is that God infuses souls into man—regardless of what process he might have used to create our physical bodies.  Science, the Pope insisted, can never identify for us “the moment of the transition into the spiritual”—that is a matter exclusively with the magesterium of religion.

Most scientists would be content to let Pius and John Paul have their “ensoulment” theory and walk away happy.  Not Richard Dawkins, however.  In an essay on the Pope’s evolution message called “You Can’t Have it Both Ways” the controversy-loving biologist accused Pope John Paul of “casuistical double-talk” and “obscurantism.”  (SAR, 209)  Dawkins took issue with the Pope’s declaring off-limits theories suggesting that the human mind is an evolutionary product. In his address the Pope said: "[I]f the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God…Consequently, theories of evolution which…consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man."

In his essay, Dawkins paraphrased the Pope’s statement:  “In plain language, there came a moment in the evolution of hominids when God intervened and injected a human soul into a previously animal lineage.”  Dawkins expresses mock curiosity as to when God jumped into the evolution picture: “When?  A million years ago?  Two million years ago?  Between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens?  Between ‘archaic’ Homo sapiens and H. sapiens sapiens?”  Clearly, Dawkins finds the divine intervention implausible.  He suggests that the ensoulment theory becomes a necessary part of Catholic theology in order to sustain the important distinction between species in Catholic morality.  It is fine for a Catholic to eat meat, Dawkins notes, but “abortion and euthanasia are murder because human life is involved.”

Dawkins contends that evolution tells us that there is no “great gulf between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom.”  The Pope’s insistence to the contrary is, in the biologist’s opinion, “an antievolutionary intrusion into the domain of science.”

Dawkins makes no secret of his distain for the distinction so critical to the Pope John Paul’s 1996 speech on evolution:

"I suppose it is gratifying to have the pope as an ally in the struggle against fundamentalist creationism.  It is certainly amusing to see the rug pulled out from under the feet of Catholic creationists such as Michael Behe.  Even so, given a choice between honest-to-goodness fundamentalism on the one hand, and the obscurantist, disingenuous doublethink of the Roman Catholic Church on the other, I know which I prefer."  (SAR, 211)

Popes have had considerably less to say recently on the subject of the origin of the universe than they have on the subject of human origins.  In 1951, interestingly, Pius XII (who so grudgingly acknowledged the possibility of evolution) celebrated news from the world of science that the universe might have been created in a Big Bang.  (The term, first employed by astronomer Fred Hoyle was meant to be derisive, but it stuck.)  In a speech before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences he offered an enthusiastic endorsement of the theory: "…it would seem that present-day science, with one sweep back across the centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to the august instant of the primordial Fiat Lux [Let there be Light], when along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, and the elements split and churned and formed into millions of galaxies."  (ME, 254-55)

But the Pope didn’t stop there.  He went on to express the surprising conclusion that the Big Bang proved the existence of God:

"Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, [science] has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the world came forth from the hands of the Creator.  Hence, creation took place.  We say: therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists!"

The man who laid the groundwork for the Big Bang theory, astronomer Edwin Hubble, received a letter from a friend asking whether the Pope’s announcement might qualify him for “sainthood.”  The friend enthused that until he read the statement in the morning’s paper, “I had not dreamed that the Pope would have to fall back on you for proof of the existence of God.”  (ME, 255)

Other people, including Belgian astronomer Georges Lamaître and the Vatican’s science advisor, had a different reaction.  They understood that the Big Bang in 1951 remained very much a contested theory and worried what might be the effect if the Pope pinned the Catholic faith too much on its proving true.  They spoke privately to the Pope about their concerns, and the Pope never brought up the topic again in public.

Big Bang theories become a problem for Catholic theology only when they consider “the moment of creation.”  That, at least, is what Pope John Paul allegedly told Stephen Hawking and other physicists during an audience that followed a papal scientific conference on cosmology.  (Some scientists dispute Hawking's account, and say that the Pope suggested no limitations on their inquiry.) The Pope told the physicists they should not inquire into the Big Bang itself because that was “the work of God.”  Stephen W. Hawking, in his A Brief History of Time, reported that he was among those physicists whom the Pope privately addressed.  He wrote:

"I was glad then that he did not know the subject of the talk I had just given at the conference—the possibility that space-time was finite but had no boundary, which means that it had no beginning, no moment of Creation."

SOG= Summer for the Gods by Edward J. Larson (1997)
SAR= Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? (edited by Paul Kurtz)(2003)
ROA=Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life by Stephen J. Gould (1999)
STJ= H. L. Mencken on Religion by S. T. Joshi (2002)
ME= Measuring Eternity by Martin Gorst (2001)


13 Jun 2017

Some modern definitions of philosophy are false.

by Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi  

Most modern philosophers always rejoice to assert that philosophy has “no universally accepted definition” — and take this statement as a licence to try divorcing the discipline from what it really is. Hence they have diverse — and quite contradictory — opinions about what philosophy is. William James, leader of Pragmatism and of the psychological movement of functionalism, says “philosophy in the full sense is only man thinking, thinking about generalities rather than particulars”; John Dewey, founder of Pragmatism, a pioneer in functional psychology, and a leader of the progressive movement in education in the United States, says it is “thinking which has become conscious of itself”; Ludwig Wittgenstein, of the analytic school, says it is “The logical clarification of thought”; Martin Heidegger, the ontologist, says it is “the correspondence to the being of being”; Alfred J. Ayer, the leading representative of logical positivism, says “Philosophising is an activity of analysis”; Bertrand Russell, the logician and founding figure in the analytic movement in Anglo-American philosophy, says it is “...the attempt to answer ultimate questions, not uncritically as we do in ordinary life and even in the sciences, but critically after exploring all that makes that such questions puzzling and after realising all the vagueness and confusion that underlie our ordinary ideas.”, and so on.

Well, there is nothing wrong about any philosopher defining his discipline from his own perspective. Scholars in other disciplines do the same — and there is no problem. But the point here is that these definitions must reflect what the discipline in question really is. The assertion that “philosophy has no universally accepted definition” may have some elements of truth, but to give the impression that philosophy has no original, universally known, definition — as some modern scholars often do — is false. There is nothing in this world that has no common definition, or at least a common idea. Even nothing has a common, well known, definition — namely something that does not exist.” The word “philosophy” is even onomatopoeic, that is, it defines itself. The word philosophy is a combination of two Greek words: Philein — “to love” — and Sophia — “wisdom”. (φιλοσοφία, philosophia). Hence philosophy literally means “love of wisdom” — a true philosopher is a lover of wisdom. “In ancient times a lover of wisdom could be related to any area where intelligence was expressed,” writes Dallas M. Roark in his piece What is Philosophy? “This could be in business, politics, human relations, or carpentry and other skills. Philosophy had a "wholeness" approach to life in antiquity. In contrast to this, some modern definitions restrict philosophy to what can be known by science or the analysis of language.” (Emphasis mine).

And the origin of the word? St. Augustine writes:

“As far as Greek language is concerned (and the Greek language has the highest international reputation), there is a tradition of two types of philosophy: the Italian, deriving from the part of Italy which used to be called Magna Graecia, and the Ionian, which flourished in the countries still called by the name of Greece. The Italian school had as its founder Pythagoras of Samos, who is credited with the coinage of the actual name of ‘philosophy’. Before his time, the title of sages was given to those who stood out from the rest of mankind by reason of the kind of quality of life which merited praise. But when Pythagoras was asked about his profession, he replied that he was a ‘philosopher’, that is, a devotee, or lover of wisdom; it seemed to him to be most presumptuous to claim to be a ‘sage’.”—“Quantum enim attinet ad litteras Graecas, quae lingua inter ceteras gentium clarior habetur, duo philosophorum genera traduntur: unum Italicum ex ea parte Italiae, quae quondam magna Graecia nuncupata est; alterum Ionicum in eis terris, ubi et nunc Graecia nominatur. Italicum genus auctorem habuit Pythagoram Samium, a quo etiam ferunt ipsum philosophiae nomen exortum. Nam cum antea Sapientes appellarentur, qui modo quodam laudabilis vitae aliis praestare videbantur, iste interrogatus, quid profiteretur, philosophum se esse respondit, id est studiosum vel amatorem sapientiae; quoniam sapientem profiteri arrogantissimum videbatur.” (De Civitate Dei, Liber VIII, 2).
Thus when we go back to the beginning, we see that although philosophers also disagreed among themselves at that time, virtually all understood that philosophers are those who seek the truth or wisdom. That was — and still is — the original, common definition, universally known. Hence in virtually all dictionaries you will always see — among other diverse definitions — something related to the above definition. The dictionary in my computer says — among other definitions — that philosophy is “(a): pursuit of wisdom (b): a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means...”  “In the ...sense in which the term came to be used in Greece in the latter part of the 5th c., philosophy meant the endeavour to understand and to teach how to live well and wisely, which involved the holding of right opinions about God, the world, man, and virtue. It combined religion, morals, and metaphysics”, writes late Paul Harvey in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature. (London: Oxford University Press, 1962, p.324).

Virtually all definitions offered by ancient thinkers, such as Aristotle’s “knowledge of the truth”, are related to Wisdom — Truth and Wisdom have the same goal, and a seeker of truth is a man of wisdom. Hence, among some of the modern definitions mentioned above, Heidegger is on point in asserting that philosophy is “the correspondence to the being of being.” Heidegger was an ontologist. Ontology is the philosophical study of being in general, or of what applies neutrally to everything that is real. It was called “first philosophy” by Aristotle in Book IV of his Metaphysics. The Latin term ontologia (“science of being”) was felicitously invented by the German philosopher Jacob Lorhard (Lorhardus) and first appeared in his work Ogdoas Scholastica (1st ed.) in 1606. It entered general circulation after being popularised by the German rationalist philosopher Christian Wolff in his Latin writings, especially Philosophia Prima sive Ontologia (1730; “First Philosophy or Ontology”). Wolff contrasted ontology, or general metaphysics, which applied to all things, with special metaphysical theories such as those of the soul, of bodies, or of God.

However, whereas in the Medieval Period, St. Thomas Aquinas, who followed Aristotle, identified “Being as Being” with God, Heidegger refrained deliberately from asserting that being of being is God, an attitude simply common to virtually all modern intellectuals and not just philosophers only — the name of God appearing in anyone’s work is considered an embarrassment. This attitude, of course, is understandable. Although Heidegger was raised in a Catholic home, he had some negative influences while a young man both from intellectuals of his day and from bad books. In particular, his study of classical Protestant texts by Martin Luther, John Calvin and others in 1916 led to his spiritual crisis, the result of which was his rejection of the religion of his youth, Roman Catholicism. Heidegger completed his break with Catholicism by marrying a Lutheran, Elfride Petri, in 1917, and he ended up growing increasingly doubtful of the capacity of philosophy to articulate the “truth” of Being. More and more, he tended to regard Western metaphysics as hopelessly riddled with errors and missteps rather than as a useful point of departure. Instead he became enamoured of the power of poetry, especially that of Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin and Rainer Maria Rilke — non-philosophers — to unveil the mysteries of Being!

It is good to note that even the title of ‘sages’ (meaning wise men) which the earlier thinkers before Pythagoras were called also has a connection to wisdom. My same dictionary says a sage is “(1): one (as a profound philosopher) distinguished for wisdom (2): a mature or venerable man of sound judgment.” St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224–75), George Berkeley (1685–1753), and Søren Aabye Kierkegaard  (1813–55), all saw philosophy as a means to assert the truths of religion and to dispel the materialistic or rationalistic errors that led to its decline,—which also has a connection to the original definition—whereas some of the above definitions by modern thinkers—as well as their activities—absolutely have nothing to do with the seeking of truth or wisdom, but rather are clearly conscious efforts to divorce philosophy from its own original meaning. Bertrand Russell may also be on point in asserting that philosophy is "..the attempt to answer ultimate questions", but whether philosophers are sincere in seeking answers to these "ultimate questions", as men of wisdom do, is another issue!

“We are awash in a sea of knowledge,” writes Justarius in his article, Philosophy: Love of Wisdom. “We are told every day what we want, what we need, and what we should do. Yet without context or connection, knowledge means nothing. Knowledge is not equivalent to wisdom. Wisdom cannot be told to you. It cannot be found on the Internet. It can only be gained through a personal quest to acquire it. Philosophy is that quest.

“Others may define it otherwise, but to me, wisdom is the synthesis of knowledge and experiences into insights that deepen our understanding of the meaning of life. Both are required because theories without experiences can prove false, and experiences without theories can fail to be universal. Once you begin to gain wisdom, two remarkable things can occur: 1) you begin to understand your purpose and how to achieve it, and 2) you begin to connect your wisdom to that of other people across space and time. Patterns emerge like stair steps and, as you climb up, you will begin to experience the unity of all things.

“...Wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. With the Internet, it is relatively easy to be knowledgeable today; however, knowledge is just a tool. Unless you know how to use it effectively and how it relates to the other tools in your box, knowledge may be either useless or meaningless. Wisdom is not a thing that you can give or be given. It is a by-product of the personal quest for truth and meaning. Philosophy can be understood as the story of people continually asking how and why and what they discovered. Each of them tried to organize their thoughts into a system that would enable them to understand their place in society, the world, and the cosmos. Fascinating, you think. What could be better?

“Well, many people think that modern philosophy is useless or at least impractical. This is partly because they think only of academic philosophers, pondering the five major disciplines of aesthetics, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, and epistemology in their ivory towers. What they don’t realize is that if you walked into the ancient bookstore, there would basically be only two categories: philosophy and religion (and religion contains a fair bit of philosophy too). Philosophy once included all of the sciences (once called “natural philosophy”), much of the humanities (literary criticism, social science, history, etc), and even the entire self-help and business sections (rhetoric, psychology, etc). What happened?”

Justarius says one way to think of it is that philosophy is always on the cutting edge of human thought; that once something becomes explainable or observable, it ceases to be philosophy and become a field in itself. That is true. But I disagree with him that “As these fields mature (that is, the disciplines he just listed), they are beginning to answer old philosophical dilemmas such as free will, consciousness, and the mechanics of morality. Philosophy then is left with the impossible or difficult to answer questions. “What is beauty?” (aesthetics) “What is reality?” (metaphysics) “What is ‘the good life?'” (ethics). These questions may not be “useful” in our materialistic modern world, but they are meaningful. Who wants to live in a world without beauty? Or ethics?”

The truth is that those old philosophical problems have in no way been treated — and in no way can they be treated using the tools of secular disciplines such as psychology, sociology, etc.! Instead, those problems have actually been abandoned in our too-materialistic-modern-world!

St. Augustine writes, in De Civitate Dei:

“...it is sufficient to mention that Plato defined the Sovereign Good as the life in accordance with virtue, and affirmed that he only can attain to virtue who knows and imitates God, — which knowledge and imitation are the only cause of blessedness.  Therefore he did not doubt that to philosophize is to love God, whose nature is incorporeal.  Whence it certainly follows that the student of wisdom (which is the meaning of ‘philosoph-er’), will then become blessed when he shall have begun to enjoy God.  For though he is not necessarily blessed who enjoys that which he loves (for many are miserable by loving that which ought not to be loved, and still more miserable when they enjoy it), nevertheless no one is blessed who does not enjoy that which he loves.  For even they who love things which ought not to be loved do not count themselves blessed by loving merely, but by enjoying them.  Who, then, but the most miserable will deny that he is blessed, who enjoys that which he loves, and loves the true and highest good?  But the true and highest good, according to Plato, is God, and therefore he would call him a philosopher who loves God; for philosophy is directed to the obtaining of the blessed life, and he who loves God is blessed in the enjoyment of God.” — “Nunc satis sit commemorare Platonem determinasse finem boni esse secundum virtutem vivere et ei soli evenire posse, qui notitiam Dei habeat et imitationem nec esse aliam ob causam beatum; ideoque non dubitat hoc esse philosophari, amare Deum, cuius natura sit incorporalis. Unde utique colligitur tunc fore beatum studiosum sapientiae (id enim est philosophus), cum frui Deo coeperit. Quamvis enim non continuo beatus sit, qui eo fruitur quod amat (multi enim amando ea, quae amanda non sunt, miseri sunt et miseriores cum fruuntur): nemo tamen beatus est, qui eo quod amat non fruitur. Nam et ipsi, qui res non amandas amant, non se beatos putant amando, sed fruendo. Quisquis ergo fruitur eo, quod amat, verumque et summum bonum amat, quis eum beatum nisi miserrimus negat? Ipsum autem verum ac summum bonum Plato dicit Deum, unde vult esse philosophum amatorem Dei, ut, quoniam philosophia ad beatam vitam tendit, fruens Deo sit beatus qui Deum amaverit.” (De Civitate Dei, Liber VIII, 8).

This frequent mentioning of God — or Wisdom and Truth which God is sometimes also called or associated with — common to ancient thinkers, is actually what appears to modern secular thinkers to be a real “crime.” Hence they often rejoice to announce that philosophy has no universally accepted definition — an assertion which gives them the licence to choose their own definitions radically unconnected to God, or to Truth, or to Wisdom.

If you turn to Aristotle, as we have already mentioned, you see a definition similar — or rather connected — to that of St. Augustine. He writes, in his Metaphysics (ΤΩΝ ΜΕΤΑ ΤΑ ΦΥΣΙΚΑ):

“It is right ...that philosophy should be called knowledge of the truth. For the end of theoretical knowledge is truth, while that of practical knowledge is action (for even if they consider how things are, practical men do not study the eternal, but what is relative and in the present).
Now we do not know a truth without its cause; and a thing has a quality in a higher degree than other things if in virtue of it the similar quality belongs to the other things as well (e.g. fire is the hottest of things; for it is the cause of the heat of all other things); so that that causes derivative truths to be true is most true. Hence the principles of eternal things must be always most true (for they are not merely sometimes true, nor is there any cause of their being, but they themselves are the cause of the being of other things), so that as each thing is in respect of being, so is it in respect of truth.” — “ὀρθῶς δ᾽ ἔχει καὶ τὸ καλεῖσθαι τὴν φιλοσοφίαν ἐπιστήμην τῆς ἀληθείας. θεωρητικῆς μὲν γὰρ τέλος ἀλήθεια πρακτικῆς δ᾽ ἔργον: καὶ γὰρ ἂν τὸ πῶς ἔχει σκοπῶσιν, οὐ τὸ ἀΐδιον ἀλλ᾽ ὃ πρός τι καὶ νῦν θεωροῦσιν οἱ πρακτικοί. οὐκ ἴσμεν δὲ τὸ ἀληθὲς ἄνευ τῆς αἰτίας: ἕκαστον δὲ μάλιστα αὐτὸ τῶν ἄλλων καθ᾽ ὃ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ὑπάρχει τὸ συνώνυμον (οἷον τὸ πῦρ θερμότατον: καὶ γὰρ τοῖς ἄλλοις τὸ αἴτιον τοῦτο τῆς θερμότητος): ὥστε καὶ ἀληθέστατον τὸ τοῖς ὑστέροις αἴτιον τοῦ ἀληθέσιν εἶναι. διὸ τὰς τῶν ἀεὶ ὄντων ἀρχὰς ἀναγκαῖον ἀεὶ εἶναι ἀληθεστάτας (οὐ γάρ ποτε ἀληθεῖς, οὐδ᾽ ἐκείναις αἴτιόν τί ἐστι τοῦ εἶναι, ἀλλ᾽ ἐκεῖναι τοῖς ἄλλοις), ὥσθ᾽ ἕκαστον ὡς ἔχει τοῦ εἶναι, οὕτω καὶ τῆς ἀληθείας.” (ΤΩΝ ΜΕΤΑ ΤΑ ΦΥΣΙΚΑ, 993b, 19-30).

In sharp contrast to Aristotle, we have already quoted John Dewey, founder of Pragmatism, as asserting that philosophy is just “thinking which has become conscious of itself.” You wonder what he means? Here is it: From Dewey’s book The Quest for Certainty (1929), Later Works, vol. 4 (quoted in the article, The Alexander Technique: Dewey's Philosophy in Action?)

It is false “that what is known is antecedent to the mental act of observation and inquiry ...” ...  It is false “that the object of knowledge is a reality fixed and complete in itself ...” (Page 19.)

“The notion that the findings of science are a disclosure of the inherent properties of the ultimate real, of existence at large, is a survival of the older metaphysics.” ...  We should “Drop the conception that knowledge is knowledge only when it is a disclosure and definition of the properties of fixed and antecedent [i.e. already existing] reality ...”  (Page 83.)

We should accept “the teaching of science that ideas are statements not of what is or has been but of acts to be performed.” (Page 111.)

“... knowing is itself a kind of action, ... which progressively and securely clothes natural existence with realized meanings. ...  There are no sensory or perceived objects fixed in themselves.” (Page 134.)

“... known objects exist as the consequences of directed operations, not because of conformity of thought or observation with something antecedent.” (Page 160.)

We should not “persist in the traditional conception, according to which the thing to be known is something which exists prior to and wholly apart from the act of knowing ...”  (Page 163.)

“The doctrine that nature is inherently rational was a costly one.  It entailed the idea that reason in man is an outside spectator of a rationality already complete in itself.” ...  It is false “that knowledge is ideally or in its office a disclosure of antecedent reality ...”  (Page 169.)

Reality is not “fixed and complete in itself,” not “ready-made.”  In itself it is “unfinished,” “plastic,” “malleable,” “contingent,” “indeterminate.” These adjectives are found throughout The Quest for Certainty and Logic: The Theory of Inquiry.

The mind is not a “spectator.” Knowledge is not “a disclosure of reality, of reality prior to and independent of knowing ... .”  (Page 44.)

“The business of thought ... is not to conform to or reproduce the characters already possessed by objects ... .”  (Page 137.)

“... we know only after we have acted and in consequence of the outcome of action.” (Page 276.)

Dewey simply maintains that objective reality doesn’t exist, only an indeterminate flux that you — or rather society — moulds into being by your own consciousness — or rather the collective consciousness — through arbitrary actions!  Thus he defines philosophy as “thinking which has become conscious of itself”! There are many others out there like him. And what can really be “philosophical” about such characters?

In fact, when we compare the activities of the ancient thinkers to those of the moderns, it would seem that most modern thinkers who identify themselves as “philosophers” are actually doing a radically new discipline, quite alien to what the ancient thinkers did. And really, that is the case. It would be good, then, — in my own thinking — if the moderns choose another name for this new discipline rather than consciously distorting and perverting, because of their personal grudges, the original meaning of philosophy, or concepts of it.