The Human Person and Morality

Monday, November 25, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (91)

Last time, we looked at our experience of beauty as a doorway into looking at God as the Good.  But, of course, there are other aspects of the Good that we experience as well.

Looking at the human person illustrates this, particularly because we are human beings, not just "impartial observers" looking at human beings. When we see this we begin to notice something besides our love of beauty: namely, morality. For we do with moral goods just what we do with all other goods: we presuppose some Ultimate Standard against which we measure moral acts and moral agents. 

A modern reader will almost surely snort at the word “morality”. If human beings are so moral, why do we act like such...READ MORE

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The Human Person and Beauty

Friday, November 22, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (21)

Another way of approach to God is via our experience of Goodness, including the sort of Goodness we call beauty.

St. Thomas notes that human beings constantly make comparisons between things.  This is hotter than that.  That is bigger than this, etc.  Now whenever we make a comparison, we are measuring things against some ultimate or ideal or else the comparison is meaningless. To call a lit match hotter than an ice cube we are comparing the two to some Ultimate Hot such as the Sun. And so we likewise make comparisons about things being “better” or “more beautiful” or “nobler” than other things.  Of course, a lot of this is subjective and we have to be very careful about making mere...READ MORE

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Evolution as Evidence for the Argument from Design

Monday, November 18, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (118)

As we noted last time, both St. Thomas and the sciences insist that we live in a lawful universe.  It is because of this conviction that God has invested nature with a certain inherent lawfulness enabling it to organize and elaborate itself that the Catholic tradition in general and St. Thomas in particular have no big issue with what will eventually become known as “evolutionary theory”.  St. Augustine, a thousand years before Thomas, will take it for granted that God has invested in nature properties that unroll over time (the Latin for “unroll” is “evolvere”).

It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it...READ MORE

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Intelligent Design vs. the Argument from Design

Friday, November 15, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (200)

Last time, we noted the surprising fact that Thomist fans of the Argument from Design and partisans of Intelligent Design don’t see eye to eye.  This confuses many people, who ask the very reasonable question, “What’s wrong with noticing, as Intelligent Design fans do, that a cell is incredibly complex and fine-tuned (compared to, say, a rock) and that if you can’t account for this specialized complexity of a cell by natural means, you should suppose it’s due to supernatural intervention in the normal course of nature?  How is that any different from what St. Thomas Aquinas has to say?”

Actually, there are several problems with that approach, though not with the basic instinct of...READ MORE

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The Physical World and the Argument from Design

Monday, November 11, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (210)

As we saw last time, the First Cause Argument, taken in isolation, gives a solid—but still pretty chilly and abstract—picture of a God who, at least, exists.  But a God who merely exists is not necessarily a personal God nor even a good one.  Indeed, based on the data we have looked at so far, many people can and do conclude that the power behind the universe is something impersonal, like the Force in Star Wars. Such a view of God (technically known as Pantheism) is an ancient opinion which is particularly popular in the West these days because, as an atheist acquaintance said, it is a bit like spiritual methadone treatment. It gives you the pleasures and consolations of religious faith...READ MORE

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Common Objections to the First Cause Argument

Friday, November 08, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (120)

Last time, we talked about the common sense insight that a purely contingent universe has to borrow its existence from Something that isn’t contingent. This very simple insight is so simple that a lot of people who dislike it have spent a lot of time trying to come up with ways to avoid it.  Some people think they can escape the logic of it by supposing that our universe is just one bubble in an infinite foam of other bubbles called the Multiverse, or that some collision between two other universes produced this one.  But this is, of course, mere mystification by multiplication and only pushes back the problem since our contingent universe doesn’t somehow stop being contingent if you say...READ MORE

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The Physical World and the First Cause Argument

Monday, November 04, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (65)

Babies come from mommies and daddies, cars come from builders, and trees come from acorns. And though adults may simply rest content with that explanation, little children inevitably ask, "Where do the parents, builders and acorns come from?" And so we find that everything participates in a "Great Chain of Being" which takes us further and further into the past until we get to the Big Bang itself. In the normal course of events, absolutely nothing in Nature is unhooked from that chain. Everything in this universe is caused by something else in this universe which is caused by something else in this universe and so on and so on and scoobie doobie doobie. Our awareness of this is so...READ MORE

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The Myst-ery of Revelation

Friday, November 01, 2013 12:01 AM Comments (2)

As we head for Advent, which is the time of year in which we recall the events of supernatural revelation found in the Old Testament that lead up to the manifestion of Jesus Christ in the New, it seems to me that it might be salutary to take the month of November to likewise look at natural revelation, which paves the way for the supernatural revelation found in scripture and tradition.  Here is how the Catechism sums things up:

Created in God's image and called to know and love him, the person who seeks God discovers certain ways of coming to know him. These are also called proofs for the existence of God, not in the sense of proofs in the natural sciences, but rather in the sense...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.