Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Do Catholics "blindly follow" the Vatican?

This is one of the best rebuttals to the "Catholics blindly follow the Vatican" myth I've ever read. I use it often, so I thought I'd share. Thanks, Monica!

I think the sentiment you expressed is one held by many- that Catholics blindly follow the Vatican, and never use their brains.

Once a person accepts certain premises that then draws him or her to the Church, they do not cease to think for themselves. However, let's take human sexuality for an example, once I accept the premises that lead me to the Church, the Church's view of human sexuality is infinitely logical and well-reasoned. Even difficult teachings, such as those on sterilization for women who risk their lives during pregnancy, or the teaching that gays must remain celibate, fit perfectly with the tapestry of life that the Church teaches. It doesn't make them easy teachings, but their "ease" is totally unrelated to their "reasonableness" or "truthfulness".

And when those premises are accepted, and a person then hears another Catholic teaching, they don't think to themselves, "Well, that makes no sense, but I'll follow blindly." They hear it, and they think, "Yes, this fits. Another piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly." And if a member of the Catholic clergy starts spouting nonsense, well, then a thinking Catholic will call him on it. This happens regularly.

Because of the absolute consistency in Catholic teaching, it is nice to be able to look up the answers in the back of the book, so to speak. But as someone who has gone through (hopefully) a thorough catechism, a Catholic realizes they aren't answers pulled out of thin air, they are well-reasoned under the premises of Christianity. And so, when a question like the infamous "trolley car switch" comes up, we might do a quick google search on Catholic Answers and feel pretty confident with the answer and reasoning provided.

I am not a moralist or a theologian, and so I let the experts do what they are meant to do- look at situations like tubal pregnancies, euthanasia, etc, and reason it out. I am smart enough to then follow their logical explanation and agree that it's logical. In the same way, I agree to let oncologists treat a cancer, because they are the experts. But if a doc suddenly tells me I need to sleep with a quartz crystal under my pillow, I would sense a logical problem and do a bit more digging. I hope that comparison makes sense.

12 comments:

  1. Oh, I love that, too!!!! And, how did you get it to go right to her comment?? I want to learn that!!

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  2. "Once a person accepts certain premises that then draws him or her to the Church, they do not cease to think for themselves."

    I don't know what those premises are but I suspect that I would not accept them and therefore not agree to have my life guided by Church teaching.

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  3. Bill - the premises are that God exists, Jesus is God, and that the Catholic Church was established by Jesus to teach authoritatively. See here: http://www.catholic.com/documents/pillar-of-fire-pillar-of-truth

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  4. My logic and reason have led me to a different conclusion than yours, Bill. Just me because my conclusion is different does not mean I am brainwashed.

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  5. If I accepted those premises then it would not be logical for me to disagree with you. You are not brainwashed. You haven't researched your premises the way I have. There is no God or if there is, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church do not properly represent him. And the Bible tells all these crazy stories about him that are not even close to being accurate.

    You're happy being Catholic. I am not happy being a nonbeliever. You shouldn't change and I can't change.

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    1. You can't prove any of that, Bill.

      You can change. With God all things are possible.

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  6. Let's assume for a moment that there is a super intelligence behind everything. Let me call it God and make it a "he" instead of an "it". Let's assume that it is in his nature to want someone to know that he exists and not just exist alone with no one around to even acknowledge him. I would imagine that we have evolved with an intelligence to be used to seek and recognize him more and more as we grow in intelligence. When the Bible was written, we were that intelligent. The New Testament replaced the Old Testament. It's time to replace the New Testament. We know so much more now. Darwin wrote On the Origins of Species. Carl Sagan wrote Cosmos which describes everything from science. There are newer books and theories. The Catholic Church is stuck on a 2,000 year tradition. That's not progress. Progress is the key to learning more about God.

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    1. "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive." - C. S. Lewis

      “Progress is a useless word; for progress takes for granted an already defined direction: and it is exactly about the direction that we disagree.” - G.K. Chesterton

      Have you ever read C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity," Bill? Or Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"?

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    2. The New Testament FULFILLED (not replaced) the Old Testament, Bill...

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  7. It was Mere Christianity that sold me on Christianity in the first place. But that was then and this is now.

    I say there is no God because the God people believe in most is the God of the Bible. But I believe in something as opposed to real atheist who say there is nothing. Haven't read any Chesterton yet.

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    1. Perhaps you should read it again, Bill. And do read Chesterton! I love his writing so much that I named a kid after him. :)

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