Gemma DiGiorgio: Miracle cure? [Kill Em With Kindness]

rm991
Posts: 9
Joined: 2007-04-27
User is offlineOffline
Gemma DiGiorgio: Miracle cure? [Kill Em With Kindness]

Hello,

I have seen this miracle reported in many places in the web. Gemma DiGiorgio a girl born without pupils who can see because Padre Pio miraculously cured her. I even saw a video where she clearly can see.

At first I was puzzled. After looking at pictures of her eyes and by some chance finding in Wikipedia I think that this is a case of aniridia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aniridia), not of missing pupils. As clearly stated in this article "Some patients have partial aniridia with relatively preserved vision". Because they have no iris they have problems seeing under normal lighting. In fact in the video I saw of this woman she has to wear dark glasses when going out. Also compare the eyes in the wikipedia article and a picture of her at http://www.michaeljournal.org/stpio.htm.

 

Further searching shed some more light on this case. This link http://books.google.com/books?id=8bfyRG0EePIC&pg=PA333&lpg=PA333&dq=gemma+pupils+pio&source=web&ots=I_yt6fokqc&sig=2OJc5fpomG_ss4tKwruzMgHfmio seems to indicate that she does have pupils but no iris as I had suspected. The ophthalmologist who examined her initially also states that her vision was uncertain when she was 3 months old not that she was blind for sure and would never see as was later claimed. Also she is considered legally blind.

I think this is just a case of a pious people exaggerating a disability because they want to believe in miracles.

Does anybody have more information on this case?

 

 

 


Textom
Textom's picture
Posts: 551
Joined: 2007-05-10
User is offlineOffline
All arguments from miracles

All arguments from miracles are non causa pro causa anyway.  Even if somebody is actually able to prove that a miracle happened, it's not evidence that God was a cause for the miraculous event.

"After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up." -Stephen Colbert


Little Roller U...
Superfan
Little Roller Up First's picture
Posts: 296
Joined: 2007-06-27
User is offlineOffline
Textom wrote: All arguments

Textom wrote:
All arguments from miracles are non causa pro causa anyway. Even if somebody is actually able to prove that a miracle happened, it's not evidence that God was a cause for the miraculous event.

This.

Could you imagine the uproar by Christians if such a miraculous event occured, but was proven to have been caused by Allah or Zeus? 

Good night, funny man, and thanks for the laughter.


Archeopteryx
Superfan
Archeopteryx's picture
Posts: 1037
Joined: 2007-09-09
User is offlineOffline
Whenever you see a believer

Whenever you see a believer using the word "miracle", you should automatically be skeptical: It's a loaded word.

 

"Miracle" is a word that believers apply to statistically improbable situations that they consider highly positive or beneficial. Alternatively, they attribute no such word to statistically improbable situations that are highly negative or put them at a disadvantage or are somehow associated with "sin".

 

A man flying home to spend Christmas with his family has his flight canceled due to an unexpected outbreak of poisonous snakes on the plane. This is a highly improbable event, but is most likely chalked up to bad luck.

Then, in a startling turn of events, all of the snakes die simultaneously! Flight uncancelled! It's a miracle!

Halfway home, the plane is suddenly struck by three consecutive bolts of lightning, sending it crashing toward the earth. Highly improbable, but very bad! No miracles here!

The plane crashes and everyone dies except for the man being examined. He stumbles out of the plane, completely ignoring that 300 other people have just died, and proclaims that his being alive is a miracle! Highly improbable + positive? Yep! Miracle!

Arriving at his doorstep, the man is suddenly struck by a hailstone they size of his own head, nearly killing him. No miracles here! Just freaky nature!

The doctors give hime a 1% chance of survival, but he somehow recovers! Nevermind the fact that the doctors were purposely giving low odds to protect themselves! This is a miracle! 

 

It could go all day. You see how it works. 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


rm991
Posts: 9
Joined: 2007-04-27
User is offlineOffline
Archeopteryx, I really like

Archeopteryx, I really like the way you describe miracles. I'll think of that next time a believer brings up miracles to me.

I got interested in the case because a catholic guest to the infidel guy brought it up to counter Reggie's "god hates amputees" argument. After looking in the web I did not find a single skeptical article about it
(actually I found one in italian which I could barely read). While reading something completely different I ran into Aniridia. The picture in the wikipedia article was so much like the pictures I had seen of that girl that I thought it surely had to be the same thing.

Like other supernatural claims it's impressive when you are told the story. When you actually look at what is happening in full detail you see the embelishements believers add in that make it look impressive. They don't do it to deceive most of the time. In their minds it is a miracle so they describe it from that perspective.

 


Archeopteryx
Superfan
Archeopteryx's picture
Posts: 1037
Joined: 2007-09-09
User is offlineOffline
Interesting thing about the

Interesting thing about the amputees...

 

God can never heal an amputee, but did you know that scientists have found a way to heal them? I'm not talking about prosthetics either.

There was a TEDtalk about it not too long ago. They studied animals that are able to regenerate body parts and how they are able to do that biologically. From whatever mechanism they found (it's been a while ago since I've seen it) they created a sort of organic goop that they spread on lost body parts so that they would grow back.

I don't know that they've grown back an entire arm or leg or anything at this point.  But I know that they grew a horse's face back, they grew back the tip of a man's finger, and they're now trying it out on burn victims as an alternative to skin grafting.

 

It's okay, God. We'll take this one. Eye-wink 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


HumanisticJones
HumanisticJones's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: 2007-02-07
User is offlineOffline
Quote: It's okay, God.

Quote:
It's okay, God. We'll take this one.

Heck, while we're at it, I'll go ahead and take care of the Theist response as well... "Finally god has answered our prayers.  We have been praying for a cure for amputated limbs and now god has answered that prayer with this new medicine.  Thank you Lord!  ...what's that atheist?  Why no I don't think that years of scientific study played more of a part in this than my prayers to God thank you very much." 

The Regular Expressions of Humanistic Jones: Where one software Engineer will show the world that God is nothing more than an undefined pointer.


hmm231 (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
miracles

I've seen alot of miracles. I've even heard of legs growing back. what does everyone else think? what would you say to christians who do supernatural unexplainable things? Is it real? I can't think of a rational explanation.


Desdenova
atheist
Desdenova's picture
Posts: 410
Joined: 2008-11-14
User is offlineOffline
rm991 wrote:Hello,I have

rm991 wrote:

Hello,

I have seen this miracle reported in many places in the web. Gemma DiGiorgio a girl born without pupils who can see because Padre Pio miraculously cured her. I even saw a video where she clearly can see.

At first I was puzzled. After looking at pictures of her eyes and by some chance finding in Wikipedia I think that this is a case of aniridia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aniridia), not of missing pupils. As clearly stated in this article "Some patients have partial aniridia with relatively preserved vision". Because they have no iris they have problems seeing under normal lighting. In fact in the video I saw of this woman she has to wear dark glasses when going out. Also compare the eyes in the wikipedia article and a picture of her at http://www.michaeljournal.org/stpio.htm.

 

Further searching shed some more light on this case. This link http://books.google.com/books?id=8bfyRG0EePIC&pg=PA333&lpg=PA333&dq=gemma+pupils+pio&source=web&ots=I_yt6fokqc&sig=2OJc5fpomG_ss4tKwruzMgHfmio seems to indicate that she does have pupils but no iris as I had suspected. The ophthalmologist who examined her initially also states that her vision was uncertain when she was 3 months old not that she was blind for sure and would never see as was later claimed. Also she is considered legally blind.

I think this is just a case of a pious people exaggerating a disability because they want to believe in miracles.

Does anybody have more information on this case?

 

 

 

It is strange that the Vatican does not recognize this miracle.  No mention of it at all on the official Vatican website pages concerning Pio.

http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20020616_padre-pio_en.html

The ' miracle ' that made him a saint is documented on the link below.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=1018&CFID=26014035&CFTOKEN=38058655

It takes a village to raise an idiot.

Save a tree, eat a vegetarian.

Sometimes " The Majority " only means that all the fools are on the same side.


thingy
SuperfanGold Member
thingy's picture
Posts: 1022
Joined: 2007-02-07
User is offlineOffline
hmm231 wrote:I've seen alot

hmm231 wrote:
I've seen alot of miracles. I've even heard of legs growing back. what does everyone else think? what would you say to christians who do supernatural unexplainable things? Is it real? I can't think of a rational explanation.

Since when was "I've heard" considered substantial enough evidence that explanations need to be given in defense?  I don't think your questions are even worth answering until you've provided something remotely resembling evidence to the claims that you're making and have heard.  As to these miracles you claim to have seen, care to elaborate a little on what they may be and what testing was done to provide evidence they were in fact miracles?  Extroadinary claims require extroadinary evidence, you have provided anything but.

Organised religion is the ultimate form of blasphemy.
Censored and blacked out for internet access in ANZ!
AU: http://nocleanfeed.com/ | NZ: http://nzblackout.org/


OhMan
atheist
OhMan's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: 2010-08-02
User is offlineOffline
Can I please get a link to

Can I please get a link to that video or a source?

Thanks.


Jeffrick
High Level DonorRational VIP!SuperfanGold Member
Jeffrick's picture
Posts: 2372
Joined: 2008-03-25
User is offlineOffline
READ!!!!!!!!!!!!

OhMan wrote:

Can I please get a link to that video or a source?

Thanks.

 

 

            OhMan check the dates and the names on this post;  THEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!       See if you can get an answer to your question.

"Very funny Scotty; now beam down our clothes."

VEGETARIAN: Ancient Hindu word for "lousy hunter"

If man was formed from dirt, why is there still dirt?


OhMan
atheist
OhMan's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: 2010-08-02
User is offlineOffline
Lol yeah but I was holding

Lol yeah but I was holding out hope. My googling skills are poor and I can't find the video. I found another website with a link to a video, but the link is a 404. Sad Sad I need that video so I can use it as a source!


rebecca.williamson
atheist
Posts: 459
Joined: 2010-08-09
User is offlineOffline
nevermind

I don't know. I couldn't understand the launguage in the video so I got nothing. It looks like her eyes are such a dark brown that you couldn't see the pupils anyway.

If all the Christians who have called other Christians " not really a Christian " were to vanish, there'd be no Christians left.


OhMan
atheist
OhMan's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: 2010-08-02
User is offlineOffline
Huh? You found a video?

Huh? You found a video? Link!! Please!!


rebecca.williamson
atheist
Posts: 459
Joined: 2010-08-09
User is offlineOffline
OhMan wrote:Huh? You found a

OhMan wrote:

Huh? You found a video? Link!! Please!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6ju4HeobGM

 I think I saw that there are three other videos for it on youtube above this one. This one is in spanish and I only know spanish cuss words and a little bit of others.

If all the Christians who have called other Christians " not really a Christian " were to vanish, there'd be no Christians left.


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
I would be more impressed if

I would be more impressed if she didn't wear sunglasses and if she ever gave the camera a clear shot at her eyes.

I'd be even more impressed if they had a neutral eye specialist examine her.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


jcgadfly
SuperfanBronze Member
Posts: 6789
Joined: 2006-07-18
User is offlineOffline
mellestad wrote:I would be

mellestad wrote:

I would be more impressed if she didn't wear sunglasses and if she ever gave the camera a clear shot at her eyes.

I'd be even more impressed if they had a neutral eye specialist examine her.

 

I guess you and I are just not as easily impressed as some. Maybe we just don't know enough Catholicism and CliffJumper should help us.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


mellestad
Moderator
Posts: 2927
Joined: 2009-08-19
User is offlineOffline
jcgadfly wrote:mellestad

jcgadfly wrote:

mellestad wrote:

I would be more impressed if she didn't wear sunglasses and if she ever gave the camera a clear shot at her eyes.

I'd be even more impressed if they had a neutral eye specialist examine her.

 

I guess you and I are just not as easily impressed as some. Maybe we just don't know enough Catholicism and CliffJumper should help us.

Gag me with a spoon.

He, like many, sounds reasonable right up to the point where everything is fucking woo-woo god magic.

Except bad things, those are woo-woo Satan magic.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


OhMan
atheist
OhMan's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: 2010-08-02
User is offlineOffline
Yep, this is excellent. All

Yep, this is excellent. All evidence points towards Aniridia. Much obliged!


Tim W (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
Padre Pio and Gemma DiGiorgi

I would suggest taking a look at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2698893/posts and read about the circumstances of how Gemma began to see.  Was it just a coincidence that Gemma began seeing when she was on her journey to see Padre Pio?  This is not the only miraculous case atributed to Padre Pio and the power of his prayers.  There are hundreds of similar stories related by people whom Padre Pio healed physically and/or spiritually.  In accepting and cherishing the Catholic faith, these people regard lying and fraud as sins against God and their fellow men.  If just coincidence is involved, there sure were a lot of people who attested to these coincidences, including those who heard Padre Pio tell them of intimate details of their lives during their confessions (names, places, events, times, dates, etc.) which he could not have known through natural means.    


rm991
Posts: 9
Joined: 2007-04-27
User is offlineOffline
Re: Padre Pio and Gemma DiGiorgi

 I had read something very similar when I made the initial post. Was it coincidence? Maybe. Maybe it was in their trip that her grandmother noticed for the first time she could under the right lighting see something. Remember that this is just an article. People embellish stories when they become convinced they are miraculous or paranormal. Also pious reporters embellish what they are told. Thinking that religious people do not lie because they believe is a sin is so naive. If that was so there would hardly ever be lies since most people are religious. Have you never heard of pious fraud? We know thousands of cases of this. People fabricate miracles and make up stories or most likely change and embellish them because they think it is for the "greater glory of God" or because they bring people to the faith.

 

Also it matters when the article was written. Did they talk to them right after it happened or most likely several years afterwards. Have you never found how wrong you were when remembering something that happened several years before?  I found an article here http://www.cicap.org/emilia/pupille.htm (it's in Italian) where they mention inconsistencies in the few details of the story in the several reports he was able to dig up. For example who was it who had the dream. In short the reported circumstances are difficult to verify but if you compare her pictures to the pictures of people who have aniridia you will see that they look exactly the same and their vision, when they have any, is also difficult unless they are under a low light which is why she has to wear sunglasses when she goes out. The things I mentioned in my original post we are able to verify. I would give them a hundred times more weight than any reported circumstances which might point to a strange coincidence (which do happen) at best.

 


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
This brings up the old

This brings up the old question, why God only seems to 'cure' case where the the problems are purely internal or, or at best, a case like this where actual regrowth of tissue is such a small amount that it is still somewhat arguable?

IOW, "why does God not heal amputees?", ie where the miracle would be indisputable and massively counter to normal processes?

He is claimed to have done more impressive things in older times, IOW, when there also has been plenty of time for accounts to be embellished, not necessarily deliberately, but in a very human manner, as they are passed on?

A God would clearly have the power to heal the distress of someone who has lost a limb, or even a hand. But this story is the best that Xians can dig up when asked why can't he replace actual body tissue in a 'miracle'?

Why is it almost always something that is known to occasionally be subject to 'remission', ie spontaneous recovery, or little more than an internal pain which might be the symptom of something nasty and 'incurable', but then goes away. Or often, when you follow up the story, just faded in intensity, which can happen so easliy in such cases.

Why are the only 'indisputable' miracles recorded so long ago, or not quite clearly backed up with solid evidence???

Could it be a bit of wishful thinking and/or unconscious elaboration (or perish the thought, conscious fabrication to support the faith, ie "lie for Jesus&quotEye-wink?

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


bfish
Posts: 28
Joined: 2011-08-01
User is offlineOffline
finger tip regrows

BobSpence1 wrote:

This brings up the old question, why God only seems to 'cure' case where the the problems are purely internal or, or at best, a case like this where actual regrowth of tissue is such a small amount that it is still somewhat arguable?

IOW, "why does God not heal amputees?", ie where the miracle would be indisputable and massively counter to normal processes?

 

I think that the "amputee test" is probably not a great one for atheists.  The first (there have been many) exceedingly well documented regrowth of an amputated fingertip was in 1932 (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC402335/?tool=pmcentrez) and while it was not attributed to a miracle or scientific intervention it establishes the possibility for humans to regrow tissue spontaneously in response to an amputation.  I'm not comfortable with the idea that god does not exist because amputees don't regrow limbs (nor am I comfortable with acknowledging existence because amputees do).

From a theist position where bad things only happen to sinners, the loss of a limb could be considered some kind of punishment thus making regrowth unlikely even if miracles were common.  It could also be perceived as causal by a theist...the limb was removed because it was fated to be removed so regrowth would be senseless.

From an atheist position if amputated limbs could only regrow through the actions of a god, well, this seems like a pretty small test for the existence of an all-powerful being who created everything, can destroy all at a whim, and demands constant worship.  I think that it fails to answer the fundamental question--why would such a being exist and why would it be so difficult to detect this being.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
I certainly don't disbelieve

I certainly don't disbelieve in any Gods just because whole limbs never regrow, but if they did, and then only in a context where there was serious prayers or other explicitly religious rituals, it would raise serious questions.

So it is not a symmetrical situation - the absence of such regrowth doesn't  indicate much at all, except as a serious question for those who believe God does cure serious diseases, but for some reason only those which don't require such massive visible and physical manifestations.

You could extend such speculation to the question of why we don't have the capability to regrow lost limbs, since various other creatures can. Again doesn't indicate God doesn't exist, it is only a problem for those insisting that he not only exists, but is "Love" personified. It is why the idea of 'original sin' was presumed, as an attempt to explain why this is so.

One of the most pernicious aspects of religion is the common assumption it engenders in many societies, not so much in the West (although you did bring it up), but very common in Africa, that someone suffering some serious affliction must somehow deserve it, and should therefore be shunned. It is related conceptually to the Eastern idea of 'karma'.

The propensity for a significant part of the population to believe in such an entity, despite all these problematic issues it raises, is just another of the many curious byproducts of our intellectual evolution, as documented by Dawkins. The fact that it seems statistically correlated with dysfunctional aspects of society, as documented in the now well-known study by Gregory S. Paul just reinforces the idea that it is a response to fears and anxieties about life. Intellectually, it has zero merit.

With all these issues which arise when you posit such an entity, and no positive evidence for such a being, there simply is no reason to take the idea seriously.

The burden of proof is all on the Theist, and this definitely a case where 'absence of evidence' is 'evidence of absence'.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Evangelion
Evangelion's picture
Posts: 22
Joined: 2008-12-08
User is offlineOffline
Hagiography in the Catholic

Hagiography in the Catholic tradition tends to emphasise that miracles (typically) attend two things: 1) the true faith and 2) a life of extraordinary sanctity led according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and these only in the rarest instances.

It does not seem likely to me that a God who has revealed Himself profoundly (by the Incarnation), and Whose Church still exists visibly on this earth and is known (to a greater or lesser extent) to all men, the God I confess, would confirm nothing more than His mere existence by acquiescing to every request of anyone's prayer, no matter their denomination or way of life, since this would bear false witness about more important truths only to verify a proposition about which (for the moment) the greater part of humanity has no serious doubt, and would put eternal goods at risk for temporal benefits.

That being said, I see no reason for miracles not to be in greater currency except, perhaps, that lives of extraordinary sanctity according to the counsels are very, very rare.  A life led according to those counsels, nevertheless, is itself a tremendous miracle.  God, so the Scriptures tell us, desires the worship of hearts, not the service of lips, and a generous heart which responds to God's call to forsake the world, take up its Cross, and follow Him--a pure heart--is a shining witness to the living God's continual working on and pouring grace into the hearts of men. 

Faith comes by hearing, though if the current of man's thought is right belief simply in God can come by reason.  Christians cannot afford to think that this applies any less to the inductive reasoning of today than it did to the deductive reasoning of the past.  The exercise enjoined on Christians is not primarily one of reasoning to dogmas, but rather, as Psalm 94(5): If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.  And if our minds are open to the possibility of God's revelation of Himself (and even the most developed of secular logic leaves at least the possibility of God open) and our hearts are open to listening and responding to Him if He does so (for most of us have hearts of stone), then we ourselves will become the evidence of God so widely sought, and room for doubt will vanish.

But, and this is the sad teaching of the Fall, no one has real insight into his own intentions.  The desert fathers used to say that no one should follow his heart's desire until it was absolutely clean of the passions, the irrational desires that torment fallen man and pull him at his very centre away from God.  But striving for truth, not simply abstract, propositional truth, but the truth of one's own actions, honest introspection and striving to, as St. Thomas puts it, do good and avoid evil: this seems to be the first step towards opening one's heart.

Remember, Man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
The attraction to religious

The attraction to religious belief is just another manifestation of our fallibility, another set of emotionally appealing ideas we are prone to fall for.

It requires a truly open mind, open to recognizing ALL the failings our thinking is prone to, and not arbitrarily exclude 'faith' and the grounds of faith from being examined as thoroughly and critically as any other set of ideas that we are presented with, or drawn to.

Interesting you refer to 'secular logic' . Logic is logic, and I have frequently observed that Theology has had to invent a distorted version of logic in its desperation to find a way to 'prove' that God is even a plausible concept, and to dismiss or explain away the contradictions that scripture is littered with.

Poverty is not a virtue. While over-indulgence in garnering wealth and objects of desire is reasonably considered a moral failing, that does not logically or ethically make a voluntary commitment to the opposite condition a virtue - in fact it is an insult to the millions who find themselves in that state through no fault of their own, and sincerely strive to get raise themselves and their families to a better state.

Chastity is also not inherently a virtue either. As long as due regard is given to avoid the possibility of inadvertant fertilzation, and due consideration to possibly inspiring feelings of betrayal in other people, sexual interactions serve their ancient secondary function of bonding individuals within in a social group.

Obedience, in and of itself, is certainly NOT a virtue. Otherwise we would be obliged to forgive the Nazis at Nuremberg who claimed they 'were just following orders'.

This is an example of the deep distortion of our moral instincts by religion.

EDIT: Religion is so manifestly 'just' another human idea/impulse, subject to all the imperfections, possibilities of good and bad consequences, as any other.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Evangelion
Evangelion's picture
Posts: 22
Joined: 2008-12-08
User is offlineOffline
I see emotionally-charged

I see emotionally-charged religious belief, unfounded in any rational discourse, every day.  I also know people who disbelieve for emotional reasons, for reasons of guilt, despair, or anger at God over shattered expectations or hopes.  I cannot, however, jump from this observation to the conclusion that belief or disbelief is always a thing of the heart.  For different people, different sets of beliefs are emotionally appealing, depending on the circumstances.  For some people on both sides (and these are very rare), belief or disbelief has been grounded wholly in rationality, in spite of any emotional considerations.

It is an unfair and inaccurate characterisation (I might even say caricature) of religion that would be always emotionally appealing.  I see this caricature at funerals all the time: the departed are invariably reported as being certainly in heaven, rejoicing in beatitude with choirs of angels.  Such religion is no religion, it is merely a crutch.  This is not the God who drove John into the wilderness to survive on locusts and wild honey, nor the God who led St. Anthony to his austere desert life of penance and prayer.

When I refer to secular logic, I am not attempting to differentiate in the way you seem to suspect.  I rather mean simply to say, "by a line of reasoning acceptable to those who do not hold religious premisses."

I would not argue that poverty is unqualifiedly a virtue.  Any state in which a man finds himself can be turned to the service of God.  Who would give to the poor if all were poor?  And why give to the poor if it were not good that they should have enough?  Providence always positions us in such a way that we can serve Him.  Nor is voluntary poverty always virtuous.  The primary provider for a family, if he makes no further provision, would be gravely remiss in his duties were he to chuck all for a life of austerity.  Nor would a state be well-served by a king who lived as a monk (indeed, in Bede we read of just such a king, Sigberct, whose thanes killed him for his undue benevolence to enemies of the state).  Kings as well as paupers are numbered saints.

Chastity indeed does not preclude the two co-equal ends of the conjugal act, namely the procreative and the unitive, and the Church has always admitted that for grave reasons certain measures may be taken (which do not compromise the integrity of the act itself) to avoid conception, since the unity of the conjugal act may prove most necessary at just those junctures which recommend against conception.  The Church nevertheless contends that the act is of such importance (indeed, if I am to believe my biology it seems to be pretty central to human nature and to life in general) that it entails a committment on the part of both parties to one another.  And I'm certain that I needn't convince anyone convinced of the equal dignity of man and woman that polygamy and polyandry are each abhorrent in their way to that dignity.

Obedience to legitimate authority is virtuous.  Nevertheless, you will find precedent from the very beginning of Christian thought against obeying unjust authorities.  Weren't the first martyrs killed for just such disobedience to civil authority?  And as early as Augustine we learn that an unjust law is no law at all.

It is also worth remembering that these three things, poverty, chastity (in the sense of perfect continence, celibacy, virginity), and obedience, are not meant to be universal imperatives, but are rather addressed to those to whom those gifts are given.  "Let him who can receive receive," and again, "It has not been given to all men..."  So to argue that they cannot be willed universally is to argue what the Christ Himself taught.

Unfortunately you seem to have imbibed an empty caricature of Christian theology and morality in particular.  I can only to shudder to think how many well-meaning people you have encountered who have confirmed you in these opinions.  Nevertheless, you must see them for what they are: inaccurate representations of our beliefs.  Anything I have just said may easily be found in the most basic of Catholic doctrinal and moral manuals. 

We are all fallible.  St. Thomas Aquinas accounts more sin to ignorance than to malice.  St. John Fisher, an English martyr who was watching his fellow bishops all acquiesce to the immoral demands of Henry VIII went farther, saying that we are to presume that all men are acting in good faith.  We must instruct them in their ignorance, not be angry at their failings.  St. Thomas More, a contemporary and fellow-martyr of Fisher's wrote that we are to bear no malice nor ill-will towards any man living, and that if we cannot punish wrongdoers (for he was in civil authority and so charged) without malice towards them, but only for justice's sake, we should hand them over to someone else for punishment.

An awareness of human fallibility is at the heart of Christian charity.  Christ on the Cross:  "Father, forgive them: they know not what they do."

 

Remember, Man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Religion itself embodies a

Religion itself embodies a caricature, a perversion of Truth and Morality. The nature of your reponse displays this.

They are not issues which can derive meaningful from any Authority, any magic book, any imaginary divine being.

"perfect continence, celibacy, virginity" are not intrinsically virtuous in any sense.

Any authority is capable of issuing an unjust edict, so the legitimacy or otherwise of the Authority is not the issue, it is the justice or virtue of each particular edict which is the issue as to whether it is right or wrong to obey or disobey.

You yourself are an example of why I hold these views, so shudder at yourself.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Evangelion
Evangelion's picture
Posts: 22
Joined: 2008-12-08
User is offlineOffline
I am so sorry that you do

I am so sorry that you do not seem able to admit even the slightest virtue in another's position, nor recognise even the smallest flaw in your own.  Your responses during my long lurk had always struck me as those of a more thoughtful man than your latest suggests.  I hope your last post is really the aberration it seems to be.

The nature of my response was no more than to clarify what seemed to be some misconceptions on your part as to the nature of and teachings about the evangelical counsels.  I proposed nothing from authority for your belief; I merely argued from the Church's own authority to clarify what She Herself believes.

I'm not sure why you are stuck on the intrinsic virtue of these things.  Virtues in one sense pertain mostly to broad areas.  Justice, for instance, pertains to giving to each what he is due.  However, in the actual application of justice, what is justice for one will not necessarily be justice for another. 

To return to the question at hand, that of perfect continence: you're right, it will not always be the virtuous course.  The nature of the marriage contract is such as to bind each party to pay the marriage debt, and so one who thinks himself wholly virtuous in abstaining from all pleasures of the flesh might, though he does not violate chastity, violate justice in failing to render to his wife what is her due, namely, conjugal relations. 

So, as to the intrinsic virtue of these things: no, unilaterally they are not always good things for everybody in all situations at all times.  But to that I give my wholehearted consent and emphasise that they were not meant for everybody in all situations at all times.  They are gifts given to some for the benefit of many.  The basic advantages of celibacy are set forth quite ably by St. Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians.  The married man, as he says, is concerned for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.  But the unmarried man is concerned for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.  The gift of celibacy has never been understood as one meant to secure a life of strifeless peace for the one so gifted, but rather an opportunity to devote himself more fully to the service of the Lord and of His people, with an undivided heart.

To obedience, I repeat exactly my last quote from St. Augustine.  "An unjust law is no law at all."  Legitimate authority is only legitimate when exercised legitimately. 

So authority is first legitimate in the sense that the one exercising authority is actually entitled to exercise that authority, but its legitimacy depends further on the just exercise of that authority.

But you don't need me to tell you that, and certainly not twice.  It would not take much more than skimming the Fathers and the Councils to find that this is the perennial teaching of the Church.

I shudder for myself because I fall so short of the mark.

Remember, Man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Evangelion wrote:I am so

Evangelion wrote:

I am so sorry that you do not seem able to admit even the slightest virtue in another's position, nor recognise even the smallest flaw in your own. 

You appear to have reacted to my summary dismissal of your churches doctrines in a very extreme and unperceptive and personal way - I made no comment that would have justified such a crude assessment of how I see your position. I was referring to the many errors of fact, both with regard to the nature of reality and the history of the the region the scripture refers to, indicating that it is not worthy to be considered a source of truth. And to the perversion of our innate drives for social behavior based on empathy and compassion, by placing an set of arbitrary dictates from an imagined authority figure as a 'higher' reference for moral behaviour. 

I made no assertion to having no flaws in my position. It is interesting that you read it that way. I am merely putting out my current assessment of what seems to be a reasonable approximation to what is 'true' about the things I referred to.

Quote:

Your responses during my long lurk had always struck me as those of a more thoughtful man than your latest suggests.  I hope your last post is really the aberration it seems to be.

The nature of my response was no more than to clarify what seemed to be some misconceptions on your part as to the nature of and teachings about the evangelical counsels.  I proposed nothing from authority for your belief; I merely argued from the Church's own authority to clarify what She Herself believes.

I really have no interest in the details of what any particular church teaches - they have no warranted 'authority', no basis for knowledge, so their pronouncements are irrelevant. I merely commented on specific issues you mentioned.

Quote:

I'm not sure why you are stuck on the intrinsic virtue of these things.  Virtues in one sense pertain mostly to broad areas.  Justice, for instance, pertains to giving to each what he is due.  However, in the actual application of justice, what is justice for one will not necessarily be justice for another. 

I based my comments on the assumed virtues of those things on repeated hearing comments from the religious - they are the ones who appeared to me to be obsessed with those things, not me.

Quote:

To return to the question at hand, that of perfect continence: you're right, it will not always be the virtuous course.  The nature of the marriage contract is such as to bind each party to pay the marriage debt, and so one who thinks himself wholly virtuous in abstaining from all pleasures of the flesh might, though he does not violate chastity, violate justice in failing to render to his wife what is her due, namely, conjugal relations. 

So, as to the intrinsic virtue of these things: no, unilaterally they are not always good things for everybody in all situations at all times.  But to that I give my wholehearted consent and emphasise that they were not meant for everybody in all situations at all times.  They are gifts given to some for the benefit of many.  The basic advantages of celibacy are set forth quite ably by St. Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians.  The married man, as he says, is concerned for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.  But the unmarried man is concerned for the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.  The gift of celibacy has never been understood as one meant to secure a life of strifeless peace for the one so gifted, but rather an opportunity to devote himself more fully to the service of the Lord and of His people, with an undivided heart.

To obedience, I repeat exactly my last quote from St. Augustine.  "An unjust law is no law at all."  Legitimate authority is only legitimate when exercised legitimately. 

So authority is first legitimate in the sense that the one exercising authority is actually entitled to exercise that authority, but its legitimacy depends further on the just exercise of that authority.

But you don't need me to tell you that, and certainly not twice.  It would not take much more than skimming the Fathers and the Councils to find that this is the perennial teaching of the Church.

I shudder for myself because I fall so short of the mark.

I query 'entitled'. How do you assess that within the church context? And your criteria for 'just'?

The Church has no basis for any moral authority whatever, AFAICS. Insofar as their ideas coincide with properly-based moral and ethical codes, they may indeed be acceptable.

I have zero interest in investigating in detail the ideas of a set of people who use as their reference a bunch of ancient ideas and primitive traditions (the scriptures). I have better things to do, endeavouring to improve my understanding of reality and how best to share this world with others, and maybe contribute a little to improving it. The more I have learned, on occasion, of the ideas of figures within a church, almost invariably I have just lost further any remaining regard for them.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Evangelion
Evangelion's picture
Posts: 22
Joined: 2008-12-08
User is offlineOffline
Shrugging in dark alleys

As I saw it there was not any summary dismissal.  It was more of a shrug.

The actual claims you made in our discussion did not mention anything about your problems with the Scriptures, but addressed directly points I had made about the evangelical counsels, to which specific objections (which were typically misconceptions) I made specific answer.

"Entitled" and "just" will have to vary in their interpretation across circumstances.  I cannot give any but the broadest definitions.  In a monarchy, though it will vary by the laws and customs of each particular people, the first-born son of the deceased ruler is typically entitled to inherit and exercise his authority, the scope of which is limited by both positive law and custom.  In a democracy, this is clearly not the case, and either the people themselves by vote or, in a republican government, the people's elected representatives, are entitled to exercise authority, the scope of which is likewise limited by positive law and custom.  Justice involves rendering to each what is his due, however in each instance there are much more specific considerations that must be made in determining what justice in each particular case looks like.  I meant only to set forth the most general positions, which, absent any particular case, is all I can do.

If you care to express your position regarding the Scriptures in more than the utterly vaguest terms, perhaps this discussion may move forward.  Otherwise, I cannot make answer for every possible objection to every verse of Scripture in hopes that in doing so I will address your particular concerns.

 

 

 

Remember, Man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
There is almost certainly no

There is almost certainly no God, but if there is, he is not Good or Loving.

So I have no interest in giving any special consideration to the opinions of people who base their world-view on patent fallacies.

The israelites were almost certainly never had a significant presence in Egypt, the Exodus never happened, Jericho had no walls at the time the relevant event happened, the Israelites emerged from the tribes of Canaan. All reasonably to very well supported by archaeology. And of course, they are just some of the 'highlights'.

Nothing in the scripture, even take at face value as honest actual testimony, comes close to countering my opening statements.

The Crucifixion scenario is at least as consistent with a non-loving, deceiving God as with a 'Loving' one. No-one was clearly and directly benefited.

I have no respect whatever for the 'Fathers'.

I empathise with people 'on the ground' in the church who are sincerely doing their best to help people.

The Hierarchy I have pretty much nothing but contempt for, intellectually and morally.

I note you did not concede your extreme caricature of my position, as not being "able to admit even the slightest virtue in another's position, nor recognise even the smallest flaw in your own".

Sorry. If this thread was not in the "Kill 'em with Kindness" forum, I would tell you what I really feel about your organization.

 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Evangelion
Evangelion's picture
Posts: 22
Joined: 2008-12-08
User is offlineOffline
I ask for honesty and take

I ask for honesty and take no offence at it.  I would take no offence at further criticism, although I am not sure if the italics were meant to imply that a stream of profanities is lurking behind that "really." 

I wanted to debate in this forum so as to debate civilly, but if I had felt unable to deal with being looked down upon, contradicted, or otherwise disrespected (although I do not say you have disrespected me) or having the Church so despised, I should not have visited or posted on an explicitly atheist forum.

As to my "extreme" caricature, I'm sorry if I did not forthrightly concede that position.  Consider it conceded.  If you took offence, consider forgiveness begged as well.

I would not attempt to argue against archaeological evidence with documentary evidence, but I confess that I am not well read enough in archaeological publications to have a sufficient handle on the relevant excavations to address your positions meaningfully.  Suffice it to say you've given me some reading to do.

The Crucifixion was referred to by Christ as a sign of contradiction.  I would not expect its meaning to be readily apparent.

 

Remember, Man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5809
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Look into the work of this

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Evangelion
Evangelion's picture
Posts: 22
Joined: 2008-12-08
User is offlineOffline
Thanks for the reference. 

Thanks for the reference.  Will look into them.


Lubos (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
Bible and its Historicity

Dear Bob,

by coincidence I had today a lengthy talk with a friend who some time went from being a Christian into being a skeptic. He had some talk about the skeptics pages that he regularly visits, so I ended up tonight coming to yours. Here I came across your argument about Bible`s non-historicity based on Israel Finkelstein`s book "The Bible Unearthed". It`s quite funny because two and a half years ago it was the book that actually sparked my interest in the so-called "biblical archaeology". Reading that book and its arguments prompted me to a decision to try to "check it all out". And after doing some research I came to a conclusion (supported, I believe, in more ways) that the Conquest/Exodus happened ca. 1550 BCE and dating these events to the 13st century BCE (as it is commonly done today) is simply a mistake. The 16th century BCE gives (I believe) a completely different picture as to the "non-historicity". If you`re interested you can have a look at the arguments submitted on my blog at http://lightraysthroughtheforest.wordpress.com/page-1/

Have a nice day, Lubos