(10-05-2015, 11:10 PM)mis Wrote: I was born a Catholic and raised in a strong religious household, had to attend Sunday mass, and even went to Sunday school up until high school.
I'm pretty happy with the progressive changes that we as a religion have made, mostly in that we become more tolerant of others and it's less about redemption and more about saving.
What would you have to say to someone who still wants to believe in a higher power, but not in the faith of it? It's pretty hard to keep faith when all you really have to rely on is yourself in the world, yet preachers and followers say to you every single day to "believe in God's work" or "God has a plan for everyone". When you hear about the stuff that happens every day in the world, from disease to conflict, I find myself questioning what this "plan" is for people staring down the barrel of a gun or having their bodies literally torn apart from the inside. Some people live lives without worry, while others fear if they can even survive the day. In other words, why is he so unfair?
I think it's important to understand that God is not in competition with creation, that is, he himself is not contingent and that by the nature of non-contingent things (of which there can only be one) he is the ground for the contingent universe.
It's also important not to reduce him to a watchmaker who creates things and remains indifferent to them, because this conflicts with the ontological truths about -what- can exist outside of the purely physical.
In fact, I must hold that all
other such gods of different religions simply do not cohere with these truths as well as the Christian concept of God does.
So, by the nature of God he is always acting, to say that the unmoved mover can remain indifferent is to say that circles can be squares.
Now to the point, you say "all you really have to rely on is yourself in the world," and I can understand why.
However, God is not a fussy taskmaster, I point to the thought of aquinas to exemplify how serious Christians think about God:
Page 24, article 1: Whether the existence of God is self evident. Reply to Objection 1:
"To know that God exists in a general and confused way is im-
planted in us by nature, inasmuch as God is man's beatitude. For man naturally desires
happiness, and what is naturally desired by man must be naturally known to him. This,
however, is not to know absolutely that God exists; just as to know that someone is approach-
ing is not the same as to know that Peter is approaching, even though it is Peter who is ap-
proaching; for many there are who imagine that man's perfect good which is happiness,
consists in riches, and others in pleasures, and others in something else."
To elucidate, any being and any inference upwards to conscience partakes in God, the only danger is (and this is VERY important) when people become obsessed with scientific fact as means of explanation, because the only choices left for such a person are:
1.) consciousness cannot be defined empirically (that is, it is not composed of matter), therefor it is an abstraction upon the experience of mere self-awareness
2.) consciousness exists, but
it exists only because of physical phenomena and nothing more
Both of these lines of thought are jointly and commutatively put to death the is-ought problem and the categorical imperative, and the second view is not even scientifically sound.
So Christianity, is not a club, we don't claim to know the truth, and we don't claim exclusive rights to the truth, it was given to all mankind.
The "divine science" as aquinas calls it (referring to a kind of generalized philosophically-imbued theology) deals in the study of divine revelation, and those who are captivated by it do worship and services, not because it's a rule, but because of a genuine fervor for the truth.
Even in the bible we see the theme of an unintrusive God: "the bush burned and was not consumed," and then we have the Christ who embodies ultimate human unity with God by the chalcedonion (and thereby catholic) definition of hypostatic union.
On the problem of evil, most catholics (including me) believe that worldly unjustness (or what may be perceived as unjust) is a necessary feature of ultimate good.
Now this has more rigorous philosophical basis than I can put forward but this idea is also reflected in scripture (Genesis 50:20, after joseph's brothers wrongfully beat him and sold him, he became the pharoah's right-hand-man after being imprisoned wrongfully) and by the church fathers (Augustine says (Contra Julian. i, 9): "There is no possible source of evil except good." ), and also by aquinas (This quote extends to the end of my post):
"It must be said that every evil in some way has a cause. For evil is the absence of the good, which is natural and due to a thing. But that anything fail from its natural and due disposition can come only from some cause drawing it out of its proper disposition. For a heavy thing is not moved upwards except by some impelling force; nor does an agent fail in its action except from some impediment. But only good can be a cause; because nothing can be a cause except inasmuch as it is a being, and every being, as such, is good.
And if we consider the special kinds of causes, we see that the agent, the form, and the end, import some kind of perfection which belongs to the notion of good. Even matter, as a potentiality to good, has the nature of good. Now that good is the cause of evil by way of the material cause was shown above (Question 48, Article 3). For it was shown that good is the subject of evil. But evil has no formal cause, rather is it a privation of form; likewise, neither has it a final cause, but rather is it a privation of order to the proper end; since not only the end has the nature of good, but also the useful, which is ordered to the end. Evil, however, has a cause by way of an agent, not directly, but accidentally.
In proof of this, we must know that evil is caused in the action otherwise than in the effect. In the action evil is caused by reason of the defect of some principle of action, either of the principal or the instrumental agent; thus the defect in the movement of an animal may happen by reason of the weakness of the motive power, as in the case of children, or by reason only of the ineptitude of the instrument, as in the lame. On the other hand, evil is caused in a thing, but not in the proper effect of the agent, sometimes by the power of the agent, sometimes by reason of a defect, either of the agent or of the matter. It is caused by reason of the power or perfection of the agent when there necessarily follows on the form intended by the agent the privation of another form; as, for instance, when on the form of fire there follows the privation of the form of air or of water. Therefore, as the more perfect the fire is in strength, so much the more perfectly does it impress its own form, so also the more perfectly does it corrupt the contrary. Hence that evil and corruption befall air and water comes from the perfection of the fire: but this is accidental; because fire does not aim at the privation of the form of water, but at the bringing in of its own form, though by doing this it also accidentally causes the other. But if there is a defect in the proper effect of the fire--as, for instance, that it fails to heat--this comes either by defect of the action, which implies the defect of some principle, as was said above, or by the indisposition of the matter, which does not receive the action of the fire, the agent. But this very fact that it is a deficient being is accidental to good to which of itself it belongs to act. Hence it is true that evil in no way has any but an accidental cause; and thus is good the cause of evil."