June 23, 2010


Anyone even remotely versed in current theories of knowledge is aware of the difficulty of knowing anything, objectively speaking. For this reason, I become impatient with the "scientific" arguments against the existence of God: it is nothing but arrogance to declaim that "God does not exist" and expect that to be understood in any definitively factual way. For that reason, atheism is as much a leap of faith as theism, and should be understood and treated as such.

Again, via Nietzsche, the important questions: what is the root force of this faith? What are the implications of these beliefs?

Of course, it should be assumed that whenever someone says "There is no God" that he is actually saying "I believe there is no God". Positivism is its own destruction.

All that said, I've got no problems with atheism . . . as long as it understands itself as faith.


I still read the Bible occasionally . . . though, after 12 years in Catholic schools, I usually feel there are a lot of other things to catch up on. I don't object to the idea of God, it is just my current belief that the question of his existence is uninteresting and irrelevant. I did not leave the Catholic Church because of some crisis of faith (that came before I actually left), I left it because I object to its political structure.*

I do believe that the Christian God we see often in the Bible (the "jealous God") is worthy of our rebellion. It occurs to me that the behavior described therein would not be tolerated from a human being.**

I've been thinking about Buddhism lately.

* Incidentally, I believe the answer to the Church's current problems with pedophilia is not to allow priests to get married, theoretically allowing them some sort of sexual release (since when is marriage, or any kind of sexual relations between adults, a solution for pedophilia?). The best answer would be to ordain women and let them get into the power structure: if women had been in the power structure when the problems started to surface, there is good reason to believe that the cover-ups would have been nipped in the bud.

** I want to write on this more, but not before I revisit C. G. Jung's Answer to Job.


Matt said...

excellent points - I hadn't thought about atheism as a faith, but you're right on the money. Good start . . . keep going. Feel like there's a lot more here.

PS remind me to get you your sleeping bag/pillows this weekend.

josh said...

I don't think the argument for allowing priests to marry is about providing the opportunity for "sexual realease." It's about creating a larger pool of candidates for the priesthood. In my opinion, the pedophile priest problem is the direct result of the Church not having enough priests and thus feeling compelled to recruit and keep any willing Catholic male no matter how troubled he might be. Pedophiles are persons with a severe mental illness. They're not just normal guys who become sexually interested in children as a result of celibacy or bachelorhood.

Allowing women and/or married men into the priesthood would allow the Church to be much more selective. Of course, there's also the issue of the Church hierarchy trying to maintain the facade of infallibility. That has played a role in the unwillingness to get rid of problem priests. But, I think if the Church had a larger pool of candidates for the priesthood, it would at least alleviate some of the pressure on the Church to tolerate the troubled seminarians who go on to become problem priests.

Bill Zink said...

Yeah, that's it, of course, but I have heard it proposed exactly how I stated it. I think the priest was African.

Anyway, I think there are several good solutions. I think it makes the most sense to ordain women, especially if you want to keep the vows of celibacy as a tradition in the church. If you are interested in keeping the celibacy tradition, you could also expand the role of the lay ministry.

I would never even consider being a part of the church again unless they start ordaining women. Not that I'm looking at going back, but that would be the biggest obstacle.

Josh - do you think the tradition of celibacy is worth keeping?

comfortstarr said...

If you say atheism if faith, what's your definition of science? Is the force of gravity a concept of faith or science? I suppose you hold that atheism is based on the absence of proof, as opposed the observation of proof. I somewhat buy that, but I think the practical difference is not that much. If I've understood your post correctly, then it seems you'd be fine with "intelligent design" taught inside a science class--but maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Bill Zink said...

CLARK TOOK THE BAIT! I've got a long response to this. I will post it soon as GOD II

Matt said...

I should also point out that the Church's emphasis on celibacy are for a coupla reasons: to "live as Christ" did (by Church teachings, an unwed, celibate male), to take the Church as a bride (yeah, I don't get it either, but it's still thrown out there a lot), and for the practical reason of administration: you can't tend to your parish if you're trying to tend to your family.

It is for these reasons I think that whatever a priest advice might give you about the married life probably should be taken with a grain of salt.

Oddly, if I gave a damn about what the Church did anymore, I"d support priestly celibacy - for male AND female priests. I definitely think women priests/women in the Church hierarchy would straighten shit up post haste.

josh said...

Bill, the question of whether celibacy should continue to be a requirement for priests is a good one. I'm not entirely sure where I stand on the issue, but I don't have any major objections to priests being allowed to marry. The concern Matt brings up about not being able to tend to your parish while taking care of a family seems to be sufficiently undermined by the fact that Protestants have always allowed clergy to marry and don't seem to be the worse for it. Moreover, I suspect we'd continue to see most (if not all) of the Catholic religious orders continue to require a vow of celibacy. It's not as if the Church would lose the tradition entirely. I'm guessing that diocesan priests would be the ones primarily affected by a change in the policy on celibacy.

While I personally like the tradition of a celibate clergy, I just don't think it's practical. Even if the Church allowed women to enter the priesthood, it probably wouldn't solve the priest shortage as long as celibacy is a requirement. Likewise, I don't think increasing the involvement of the laity would help much since a priest is required to perform the Mass.

I'm curious, though, why the male-only clergy is a deal breaker for you as far as even considering a return to the Church. I certainly think women should be allowed into the priesthood. But, I also understand there are practical reasons for maintaining the male-only tradition. The Catholic laity, in general, tends to be more conservative than the laity in the Protestant denominations which allow women to become clergy. Nonetheless, there is still quite a bit of controversy re: female clergy among the laity in these denominations. So, I'm at least somewhat sympathetic to the Church's concerns about having female priests. While some Catholics would certainly welcome the change, I suspect many would be resistant. Keep in mind, the Church continues to lose members to Evangelical and other Protestants in places like South America. The Church also has critics within, e.g., Opus Dei, who believe the Church has already strayed too far from its traditions. While traditionalist Catholics aren't a major force in the Church in the US, they are very powerful in other parts of the world and within the Church hierarchy. So, I don't think the Church's concerns about making too many changes too fast is entirely unjustified.