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The murderer at the door

Astonishing%2015.jpg

Lying is always at least venially sinful. The standard objection to this claim is the dreaded “murderer at the door” example, which is supposed to show how “intuitively” implausible the hard-line position on lying is. In this post over at my own blog, I explain why the “intuitions” in question have no force. (By the way, if it is venially sinful even to lie to the murderer at the door, then a fortiori it is at least venially sinful to lie to your children about Santa Claus. Q.E.D.)

Comments (139)

Cool comic book cover.

Agree that it is always sinful to lie. One has no need to lie if one is always prepared for death.

The Chicken

For the true geek, that's Marvel's Astonishing # 15, July 1952. This was pre-Comic Code of America censoring of horror stories in 1954.

The Chicken

One final question: what is the status of the liar's paradox? Sin or not?

The Chicken

I've never understood the problem here. Lying is withholding the truth from those who have a right to it. Murderers at the door and the Gestapo have no right to it, so no lying is involved.

QED.

Matteo is quite right: Joshua 2:1ff, Hebrews 11:31

Michael Bauman, what lie did Rahab tell? My NIV says Rahab told the inquirers, "Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from." (Josh 2:4) That doesn't seem to be a lie.

Masked Chicken,

For knowing that, you deserve the Commenter of the Year Award. Or would, if there were such a thing. (As you know, in those days Marvel was known as "Atlas," after the name of the company's distribution arm. The proud Atlas globe is visible on the cover above at the lower left. Am I embarrassing the both of us yet?)

Matteo,

QED in your dreams. I responded to just that dodge at some length in the second to last paragraph of the post. That is not what "lying" means -- otherwise saying absolutely nothing to someone who has a right to information from you would count as a lie -- and there are other problems too, as I note in the post. (It's a good idea to read things before you comment on them.)

I'm with Matteo. You'll forgive me if I use the term wrong, I hope—but wouldn't it be better to say that lying is a sin, prima facie, but not absolutely, hence the problem of the monster at the door.

Wouldn't it be better to view this as example there is a hierarchy of rather than equally competing values? I mean, I rarely post here—I'm usually fairly (or strongly) intimidated by all the bloggers and commenters here, or if I do feel comfortable, someone else has usually already made my point, and better—so I am only timidly putting this here. But, it just strikes me as obvious that, given the Nazi @ the door example, it's just obvious that lying / deceiving to save the innocent is not only not wrong, but good.

Lying in general is wrong, but when a conflicting value, like defending the innocent . In the same way, it's wrong to do lots of things as general practice—like killing—but justifications can be made. Or what about personal property?

I think I got this example from Frank Beckwith: You're obligated to not withhold someone's rightful property... if you borrow something, you must give it back. If you borrow your neighbors chainsaw, and he comes to collect it one night and says, "I need my saw back because I need to kill my wife..." Should you return his property? Well, no. Right? Don't the stakes have to be at least considered?

Furthermore... for some more fun examples—also from Beckwith, I think, lying can be non-verbal too. What about bluffing in poker? Immoral? Wearing camouflage? Faking shots in basketball? All those are with the intent to deceive people, but really... do we want to say Christian basketball players can't fake shots? I don't want to sound too sarcastic with these funny examples, but I think they are helpful.

I read over your other posts, and, if I read it right—your position was that, if there is that monster at the door, one ought:

You could instead say nothing, or try to distract him, or say something that is vague or ambiguous or subtly off-topic but not untrue. You could threaten him, since he is himself threatening someone under your protection. Indeed, you can do more than threaten him if you are certain that his attempt at murder is imminent.

It seems to me that any of the alternatives you offered could all be considered sinful in the right circumstances (or wrong circumstances, I suppose), but they are offered as right alternatives... anything to get out of lying. I think that just seems strange. I mean, you can kill him as long as you don't lie to him? It reminds me of the Southpark movie (which I don't recommend) where the mothers are up in arms over foul language and will use any and all means to stop it, with the explanation, "Gratuitous violence is okay, as long as nobody says any naughty words."

I don't know if I am disagreeing with you, misunderstanding you (likely) or both.

Hello Robert,

It seems to me that any of the alternatives you offered could all be considered sinful in the right circumstances (or wrong circumstances, I suppose), but they are offered as right alternatives...

Yes, speaking ambiguously (for example) might be wrong in some circumstances but not others, because it isn't wrong in itself in the way that lying is.

With respect, it seems to me that you (and others) keep failing to address the point that natural law theory claims that lying is wrong intrinsically, and (as I emphasized in the post) gives a reason for claiming that it is. People keep saying "But what about such-and-such circumstances, what about such-and-such consequences," when the whole point is that some things (not all, but some) are wrong inherently, regardless of circumstances or consequences. Now you might disagree with that, or disagree that lying is an example, but so far you don't seem to me to giving a reason for thinking otherwise, but rather only speaking in a way that assumes otherwise, thus begging the question against the natural law theorist.

As I say, others are doing this too. And what's really annoying is when those others are people who sympathize with natural law, and yet refuse to acknowledge the cognitive dissonance!

I think that just seems strange. I mean, you can kill him as long as you don't lie to him?

Sure, because killing in self-defense is not inherently wrong, but lying is. And don't say "But that just seems weird to me," because that isn't an argument, just yet another expression of "intution," and I've already explained why the appeal to intution by itself is no good.

Perhaps you are misled by the fact that killing someone, even justifiably, is always a big, dramatic, consequential act, while lying often is not. But that by itself doesn't prove anything. Stealing five dollars from the cash register is not a big, dramatic act, but that by itself doesn't show that it isn't wrong.

Ed,

I cheated. I consulted the Grand Comic Cover Database. Really nice site.

I think I can clarify the moral situation. In a situation, if one is presented with the case where to do something is evil and to do the opposite also leads to an evil, then one has what moralists call a perplexed conscience. The murderer example is one such case. To lie is always sinful. To tell the truth, in this case, is to cooperate in murder, also sinful (there are nine ways to cooperate with sin). In just this perplexed case, moralists say to do what you think best. Thus, lying, while still sinful, is an option just in this perplexed case, IF one is morally certain that silence, equivocation, etc., will be taken by the murderer to be equivalent to affirming. If not, one is bound to try these alternatives.

The Chicken

“I rarely post here—I'm usually fairly (or strongly) intimidated by all the bloggers and commenters here”

I for sure know one who can turn the intimidation setting to ‘high’  But if it don’t kill you, it’ll just hurt like hell for a while and leave you the wiser.

“QED in your dreams.”

That’s funny, and I should know, Ed, because you could have used it on me yesterday had I phrased my comment differently when supporting Dr. Torley’s counters to the natural law take on lying.

As usual, your latest post on lying and natural law (which, I think means the entirety of Aquinas’ work) is characteristically sharp and highly logical. And the distinction between deceit and a lie was made very clearly. And you are right that those who say their moral acts are informed by natural law (NL) should be agreeing with you, at least in principle.

But…while the Aristotelian foundation of NL is a practical way of going about the day’s affairs, I am ultimately not essentialist. And as I understand NL, it sees human creatures as essentially separate from other creatures, with rationality being the mark of distinction. This is not apparent to me, and I am a retired professor of structural engineering, so you might think I would be more open to ‘form’ as an ontological ultimate.

Actually, it is probably just the very scientific discipline of structural analysis and design that shaped my ‘show me’ or agnostic temperament. Yet this is not where I started out in life; my upbringing in the Catholic Church with all its art, symbolism, mysteries, and (negatively for me) rules is where I was grounded in my preference for mythos over logos. (Maybe explains why I retired from engineering, too.)

And as I mentioned in the W4 Santa blog, I see this as somewhat central to the discussion of lies and deceit. Logos – logic, rationality, words – can be sharply turned on itself, as evidenced by the history of philosophy (and blogging). I hold it to be a profoundly interesting thesis that the aim of logos is to create mythos – that serious philosophy is an attempt to use well-crafted words to magically draw meaning out of uncertainty. So I vote for the mythos, where analogy, metaphor, ambiguous symbols and archetypes hold greater weight than mere words.

That being the case, while the distinction between lies and deceit has been clearly put forth in Ed’s eloquent words, and the formal ruling of NL on the two exists, I am still swayed by the spirit rather than the letter of laws.

FWIW

Jeff:
You asked "What lie did Rahab tell?"

--She said she did not know where the spies came from (v4), but she did (vv. 8ff). She knew they came from Israel and that God had sent them.
--She said the spies went out after dark (v5), but they had not gone out at all because she hid them (v4).
--She said she did not know where they went (v5), but she did -- she hid them (v4).
--She told her countrymen that if they left quickly, they could overtake the spies (v5), but they could not because she hid them (v4).

You might also consider how Jesus willingly and intentionally misleads his brothers in John 7: 8 where Jesus tells his brothers that He is not going to the festival, but goes anyway, in secret (v 10).

Michael, about your last point: the early Church Fathers explained that what Jesus said was true: he was not going up to the festival - at that time. He was not going at the initiation of the festival, not at the height of it. He wanted to let the initial furor die down before going to it. He did in fact NOT GO when they went, which was why they were asking him.

Ed, I have been a little amazed at the fact that none of the objectors has come forward with a critique that is actually based on Natural Law. There is in fact an argument that can be made that at least makes the clean-cut conclusion a little more problematic.

First, it is not true univocally that the faculty of speech in us has a distinct natural end as such, because it cannot be said univocally of a part that it has a nature of its own. Being only a part, it participates in the nature of the whole human being, and thus participates in the end of the whole human being. Parts that exist as an organized, distinguishable component of the whole have distinct sub-ends of the whole organism: thus, the heart has the end of pumping blood and regulating some hormones, which sub-functions are ordered to the end of the whole human person. The eye is organized to see, and has its specialized function to deliver visual information to the brain. That is it's "natural end" so to speak. But if the eye is damaged, the good of the whole organism may require removing the eye, which is contrary to the "nature of the eye" insofar as that sub-function exists, because the sub-function is to see; but when cancer is present the "natural" order and good of the eye gives way to the good of the entire organism because the "nature" of the eye is a nature only analogously compared to that of the organism.

It is still less the case that the faculty of speech has a "nature" as such, because it isn't really an organized sub-component of the whole being: it is a capacity that comes about through the separate capacities of several different component parts: the tongue, which is also necessary for eating; the vocal cords, which are also used for making music and other sounds; and the mind which forms concepts and thoughts which are expressible. Therefore, we can only speak in a derived or analogous sense of the "natural end" of the faculty of speech. And that end must be understood in the context of the natural end of the whole being within the order of the end of man.

Unfortunately for those who would USE this critique of the NL argument, the natural end of man as such is a common good, and (as we shall see in the eschaton) involves an inter-relation of each man to the whole economy of the blessed realm. This order - as shared - essentially relies on communication of what is true, adhered to by the intellect and loved in the will. Consequently, for man as rational animal, the faculty of communication is MUCH more directly tied in to the natural end of man as such than physical sight is. Aristotle and St. Thomas rightly call man fundamentally a social being, and society exists only insofar as communication is possible.

Given the fact that (as Ed says) the faculty of communication is intrinsically is ordered to conveying truth, the only possible way to pose a possible out that might allow a lie to the Nazi is to suggest that the faculty of communication is, itself, subservient to a higher need in the nature of man, and can be sacrificed - even destroyed - for that need. But I don't see that working: it is possible to say that you may have to NOT COMMUNICATE at times, in order to serve more immediate needs (just as you may give up the use of the faculty of sight if necessary). You may even have to destroy the tongue or vocal cords for a higher need. But given that you are to communicate, you are going to use the faculty of communication. And thus you are going to utilize its "nature" insofar as that can be said to exist. To use it for lying would be comparable to using the capacity for sex in order to torture someone: rape as torture. Which we know is intrinsically wrong for the raper because it is a mis-use of the sexual function, contrary to the nature of sex. Or, a little more like the Nazi situation, lying to him would be comparable to a woman sexually seducing the Nazi to turn him away from his goal of collecting Jews. Nobody I know of contends that committing adultery with the Nazi would be the morally upright (possibly obligatory?) way to protect the Jews.

Okay, Edward:

I got through your whole post (the other post—the post above being one paragraph was no big deal!).

First I want to point out that saying my use of strange/weird was obviously not an argument. I immediately, in the following sentence, explained this as my own confusion. It wasn't presented as some grand refutation. I am genuinely confused in trying to follow your argument.

However, In skimming through most of the comments, I think I've tracked down some point of departure. I don't think I accept your differentiation between lying and deception, whereas the former is always wrong and the latter, not. (Though this does explain why you didn't respond to my slightly comical examples of deception.)

You said,

Natural law theorists typically distinguish lying and deception, because either can occur without the other. I can lie and know that you will not be deceived, and (as the example given earlier shows) I can deceive without lying. And it is only lying -- deliberately speaking contrary to one's mind -- that is claimed to be intrinsically wrong, while deception is wrong only depending on circumstances. That is why broad mental reservation, evasion, etc. can be OK in some circumstances, while lying never is.

I don't see why I should accept that literally accurate sentences meant to cause confusion or actual deceit escape the charge of lying. You use the distinction between lying and deception to dismiss the 'outs' for the monster at the door (X is fine because you deceived him, but didn't lie.

But if is the lying, not the deception that's wrong—is it wrong to say factually false sentences in a way that's intended to be sarcastic, and not deceive? If I use sarcasm for comedic effect (however poorly) with no intent to deceive—and no expectation that it would, would communicating "deliberately speaking contrary to one's mind" be wrong in this case?

It's true that certain Old Testament figures employed lying as a means to a good end, (eg. Rahab, Judith, et al.), but you'll notice that in the New Testament, which is the perfection of the Old, lying is never resorted to by Our Lord or by the Apostles, (M. Baumann's jackass interpretation of John 7:8 notwithstanding), even though they faced their own nazis-at-the-door scenarios.

One NT situation that has always bothered me is Jesus' statement that some then alive would not die before they saw him in his glory. (Haven't looked up the verse just now; that's from memory.) As God, he must have known that his disciples would interpret that to refer to his setting up an earthly kingdom. I assume it gave rise to the expectation in the early church that Jesus would return within that generation. So why did he say it? It seems such a pointlessly confusing or even misleading thing to say to those who were trying to understand and follow him, not even to "bad guys."

(M. Baumann's jackass interpretation of John 7:8 notwithstanding)

That's uncalled for.

Lydia:

Would you be thinking of Matthew 16:28? "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

If that's the case, wouldn't Matt. 17:1-8 meet that?

It seems, given a sufficiently astute interrogator, that attempts at deception will only answer the question whose answer one is attempting to hide. Lying, particularly a deceiver whose wits are outmatched by a vicious interrogator, is therefore the best, if not foolproof, way to prevent knowledge from passing to someone who either has no right to it.

... has no right to it or will do positive harm if they receive it.

George:
Jackass or not, He said He was not going (v.8) and then He went (v.10). He did not say He was going later. He said He was not going. Period. After saying directly and forthrightly that He was not going, He went. He went secretly.

Obviously your ethics and His do not match. So much the worse for yours.

Imagine that, George. His ethics are closer to those of Rahab the harlot than to yours.


Robert, yes, I've always thought the transfiguration interpretation was the best answer, but I'm not sure it satisfactorily answers the fact that the disciples apparently _did_ believe Jesus would return extremely soon, perhaps in a generation (one learns this, e.g., from the end of John where John says that some thought that he would live until Jesus' return, as well as from numerous indications in the epistles and Acts). There's some worry that this was because of what Jesus said in Matt. 16, so that _they_ did not take that, even in hindsight, to refer to the Transfiguration. And if that's so, then Jesus must have known that they would misunderstand even over the long term, which is somewhat worrisome.

So Lydia, which of the following do you think is the proper conclusion to draw from that puzzling prophecy? A) Jesus lied. B) Jesus was in error. C) Lydia doesn't understand it.

Michael,
I have long known that Protestantism is a joke; but I never knew that Protestants actually believed that Jesus Christ was a liar. Now I know.

I can only hope Mike stops responding to you. George. Really, what's the point?

Michael, I have long known that Protestantism is a joke; but I never knew that Protestants actually believed that Jesus Christ was a liar. Now I know.

You need to apoligize for that rhetoric, mister.

Oh, George, I'm quite open to the possibility that there's something I don't understand. In fact, it seems to me the weakest link in the criticism is the premise that the disciples expected the soon return of Christ *because of* that statement of Christ's. If I had to pick a place to reject the criticism, that would be the place. But I do find it the argument a bit puzzling and bothersome. Surely that's permitted, right?

When the murderer asks "Is anyone here", he is asking if anyone is there that he may kill. And the answer to that question is very simply "No there is no one at home" that you may kill.

When he asks "Do you know where the Jews are" (that I may kill), you reply "I do not know where any Jews are" that you may kill. Ad nauseum.

If that response is either morally problematic lying or deception, then to the trash with Aquinas. We already gave Rothbard the bad faith smackdown this week, here's to number two.

Before Plato placed absolute Truth in the heavens using Socrates’dialectic, and Aristotle disseminated it into the natural sciences of various substances, there was paradigmatic mythos of what was the Good in life. It was the stuff of the mythologies chronicling Greek heroes and warriors, the Good was human excellence, virtue, duty to oneself, and it was being taught by the Sophists. Before Socrates, the Good was prior to Truth, but after, it was Logos over Mythos, as it is today.

The murderer at your door calls for the response of your humanity, and I submit that the case of defending another, the good act, the virtuous act, the fulfillment of your duty to yourself, these trump the demands of mere truth.

Robert K and just thinking,
Don’t be so sensitive. I like to rattle the cage of the Protestants. What’s wrong with that? We wouldn’t want everybody getting too complaisant around here, would we? Besides, I don’t like Protestantism. I think it’s bad for the family, bad for society, and bad for the country. And if the Protestants are going to start suggesting that Our Lord was a liar, they’re going to hear about it from me.

It would seem to me that most obvious parallel is Jesus breaking the Sabbath to heal a man. The Sabbath and the prohibition against lying were both in the Ten Commandments. If the Sabbath could be broken to do good by your neighbor in need, then surely lying is acceptable as well.

Michael,

Really, the Author of Truth told a lie?! He did not say he told the truth, but that he is the truth. Do you not see the absurdity of your hypothesis that Jesus lied? If he lied about that, what else could he be lying about? Are you saying he sinned, bearing false witness??

The Chicken

Robert K and just thinking, Don’t be so sensitive. I like to rattle the cage of the Protestants. What’s wrong with that? We wouldn’t want everybody getting too complaisant around here, would we? Besides, I don’t like Protestantism.

I'm not being sensitive. I just don't think Michael should respond to your childish shenanigans. "I like to rattle cages" really equates to "I like to call names." And because it seems you're not likely to jump up the discourse to something at least reasonably respectful, prolonged conversation is relatively pointless. You may be right in the discussion, I just don't know, so this might not be the case of throwing pearls before swine. Maybe more the case of a gold ring in a pig's snout.

You didn't just challenge interpretations, unless jackass is a technical term I am unaware of.

"Catena Aurea" confirms that Lydia's supposiiton is accurate

I say to you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.


JEROME; Having thus called upon His disciples to deny themselves and take up their cross, the hearers were filled with great terror, therefore these severe tidings are followed by more joyful; For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy Angels. Do you fear death? Hear the glory of the triumph. Do you dread the cross? Hear the attendance of the Angels.

ORIGEN; As much as to say; The Son of Man is now come, but not in glory; for He ought not to have been ordained in His glory to bear our sins; but then He shall come in His glory, when He shall first have made ready His disciples, being made as they are, that He might make them as He is Himself, in the likeness of His glory.

CHRYS. He said not in such glory as is that of the Father, that you might not suppose a difference of glory, but He says, The glory of the Father, that it might be shown to be the same glory. But if the glory is one, it is evident that the substance is one. What then fear you, Peter, hearing of death? For then shall you see Me in glory. But if I be in glory, so also shall you be. But in making mention of His glory, He mingles there with things terrible, bringing forward the judgment, as it follows, And then shall he render to each man according to his works.

JEROME; For there is no difference of Jew or Gentile, man or woman, poor or rich, where not persons but works are accepted.

CHRYS; This He said to call to their minds not only the punishment of sinners, but the prizes and crowns of the righteous.

JEROME; But the secret thought of the Apostles might have suffered an offense of this sort; The killings and deaths you speak of as to be now, but the promise of your coming in glory is put off to a long distant time. He that knows secret things therefore, seeing that they might object this, requites a present fear with a present reward, saying, I say to you, There be some of those standing here that shall not taste death until the Son of Man come in his is kingdom.

CHRYS; Willing to show what is that glory in which He shall come hereafter, He revealed it to them in this present life, so far as it was possible for them to receive it, that they might not have sorrow in their Lord's death.

REMIG; What is here said, therefore, was fulfilled in the three disciples to whom the Lord, when transfigured in the mount, showed the joys of the eternal inheritance; these saw Him coming in His kingdom that is, shining in His effulgent radiance, in which, after the judgment passed, He shall be beheld by all the saints.

CHRYS; Therefore He does not reveal the names of those who should ascend into the mount, because the rest would be very desirous to accompany them whither they might look upon the pattern of His glory, and would be grieved as though they were passed over.

GREG; Or, by the kingdom of God is meant the present Church, and because some I of His disciples were to live so long in the body as to behold the Church of God built up and raised against the glory of this world, this comfortable promise is given them, there be some of them standing here.

ORIGEN; Morally; To those who are nearly brought to the faith, the Word of God wears the form of a servant; but to those that are perfect, He comes in the glory of the Father. His angels are the words of the Prophets, which it is not possible to comprehend spiritually, until the word of Christ has been first spiritually comprehended, and then will their words be seen in like majesty with His. Then will He give of His own glory to every man according to his deeds; for the better each man is in his deeds, so much the more spiritually does he understand Christ and His Prophets. They that stand where Jesus stands, are they that have the foundations of their souls rested upon Jesus; of whom such as stood firmest are said not to taste death till they see the Word of God; which comes in His kingdom when they see that excellence of God which they cannot see while they are involved in divers sins, which is to taste death, forasmuch as the soul that sins, dies. For as life, and the living bread, is He that came down from heaven, so His enemy death is the bread of death. And of these breads there are some that eat but a little, just tasting them, while some eat more abundantly. They that sin neither often, nor greatly, these only taste death; they that have partaken more perfectly of spiritual virtue do not taste it only, but feed ever on the living bread. That He says, Until they see, does not fix any time at which shall be done what had not been done before, but mentions just what is necessary; for he that once sees Him in His glory, shall after that by no means taste death.

RABAN; It is of the saints He speaks as tasting death, by whom the death of the body is tasted just as it were sipping, while the life of the soul is held fast in possession.

Re: Bauman's blasphemy, I refute it thus:

1. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2)
2. Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1), therefore
3. Jesus Christ cannot lie.

The argument is valid, which means you cannot reject the conclusion without rejecting one of the premises. So, which one of (1) or (2) do you reject, then, Michael?

I really dislike dialectics.

Which is the point I try to make in my posts above about mythos.

Ed,

Is there no way for a member of the western tradition to argue that logic is not automatically infallible w/r to the Good, to God?

"The Sabbath and the prohibition against lying were both in the Ten Commandments."

Where is there a prohibition against lying? There is not, actually; the prohibition is against something else: the prohibition is against lying-that-is-immoral, in much the same way that the other prohibition is not against killing, but rather against killing-that-is-immoral.

Morality is a unity, a gestalt; it's not a check-off list.

Where is there a prohibition against lying?

It would seem to me that most obvious parallel is Jesus breaking the Sabbath to heal a man.

The Sabbath commandment:

Remember that you keep holy the sabbath day. 9 Six days shall you labour, and shall do all your works. 10 But on the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: you shall do no work on it, neither you nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your beast, nor the stranger that is within your gates.

The pharisees claimed that in order to "keep it holy", the following "works" were prohibited: ...weaving two threads, separating two threads, tying, untying, sewing stitches, ...writing two or more letters, erasing two or more letters, ...and transporting an object between the private domain and the public domain, or for a distance of 4 cubits within the public domain.

For reminder, a cubit is the length between your fingertip and your elbow - say 18 inches.

But none of that is in the Bible: what God says is to keep the day holy and not work. Jesus insists that the Pharisees got the concept wrong, and that he WAS keeping the Sabbath. He was not saying that he was abolishing the Sabbath, or that he was breaking the Sabbath because was God and God can do that, or saying that it is OK to break the Sabbath for a higher good. He was saying what God set the Sabbath for, and saying that he was meeting that purpose, keeping the Sabbath.

There is a superficial basis for theorizing that the commandment against "false witness" does not prohibit all false statements, or even all lies. "False witness" could be taken more juridically, and thus be limited to situations where you are witnessing to what another did or said. But I don't think that the Jews read it that narrowly - even those who were not being pharisaical, that is.

JT, I don't buy your "mythos vs logos" dichotomy, so your comments on it are not gaining any traction in my mind, at least. I am not even sure I have grasped the entire idea of what you mean by the distinction. But that's OK, you needn't explain it. Any theory that proposes that the Good and the True and the Beautiful are not convertible with Being, probably won't convince me of much. But in any case, it would take a treatise in 6 volumes or so to convincingly do so by dealing with (and re-characterizing) all the points that the Aristotelian realist framework successfully explains, and I don't think you can put that in a combox.

When he asks "Do you know where the Jews are" (that I may kill), you reply "I do not know where any Jews are" that you may kill. Ad nauseum.

Eli, you are giving a part of the concept of "mental reservation." Are you aware of the developed arguments about it, including the difference between broad and strict reservations, and the moral implications? Your theory has been brought up before, and part of Ed's commentary has included references to the substance of the idea, if not the explicit term.

If there are no clues in the potentially ambiguous words that you use to indicate a possible qualification that you withhold, then the technique is morally identical to a lie. That is to say, if the only meaning to your words (taken without the extra words you withhold) available under the standard usages of the language is a sense that is contrary to the meaning you hold in your mind, then this is a lie.

Eli, you are giving a part of the concept of "mental reservation." Are you aware of the developed arguments about it, including the difference between broad and strict reservations, and the moral implications? Your theory has been brought up before, and...

Yes, thank you, Tony. Folks should keep in mind that every apparent "problem" for the natural law view of lying has been discussed to death in the natural law theory literature over the course of centuries. I don't expect everyone to have read it all, but I do expect people to think twice before assuming they've found some magic bullet. Same thing goes for pretty much all things Scholastic. If you think you've come up with some original killer objection to divine simplicity, final causality, or whatever, you can be 100% certain that some dusty Scholastic tome somewhere has devoted 20 pages to answering it. The point isn't that such tomes are infallible. The point is that the Aristotelian-Thomistic-Scholastic tradition(s) are not the invention of one or two guys in a philosophy dept. somewhere, but a vast and ancient labyrinthine structure that you could spend a lifetime studying and still only scratch the surface of.

I do what I can here and there to haul out some of the treasures, but I'm just one guy, and I simply cannot spend four hours a day in comboxes. If anyone really wants to know what the tradition has to say about all these arcane side issues, grab a manual and blow the dust off of it!

Ed, George:

Now we know how, in your case, the Catholic mind works: (1) When the actions of Christ refute your specious arguments, simply re-affirm your arguments. (2) Never let even the Son of God Himself alter your theories; alter the Son of God in order to fit your theories. (3) When even the actions of an ancient harlot refute your theories, and when, for those very actions, that ancient harlot is rewarded and lauded by the Bible itself, ignore it all and keep your theories intact. (4) When the anti-Biblical nature of your theories is pointed out, insist that those who reject your errors play by your ground rules anyway.

"So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God" (Matthew 15:6).

That's why there was a Reformation, boys.

Yes, Michael, fine, thanks, whatever. Now, back to the question. We know from scripture that:

1. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2)

and

2. Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1)

Since you're a scripture-loving kind of guy, one would think you would agree with (1) and (2). But from (1) and (2), it follows that:

3. Jesus Christ cannot lie.

And you deny (3), since you claim that Christ lied.

Now, since you evidently grasp the concept of logical consistency -- for example, you're always telling us Catholics that our views are (somehow or other) inconsistent with scripture -- you can surely see that you cannot consistently deny (3) and at the same time affirm both (1) and (2). Hence my question: Is it (1) you deny, or (2), or both?

But if you deny (1) or (2), you'll be "making void the word of God." So maybe it's the importance of consistency that you deny? But then you'd have no basis for criticizing us Catholics for our saying things that are inconsistent with scripture (as you claim we do-- falsely, but that's what you claim).

So, you've put yourself in a real pickle. Of course, there's an obvious solution: Stop denying (3). There is no need to deny (3) in any case, since as others have pointed out, there is an obvious way to read the passage from John that doesn't entail that Christ lied. Plus, denying (3) is blasphemous, given (1) and (2). That's a pretty good reason not to deny it.

So, again: What's it going to be, Michael?

Mr. Feser or one of you other philosophically-minded types (not me, that's for sure):

I was hoping on of you would address RobertK's question way up at the top:

"Furthermore... for some more fun examples—also from Beckwith, I think, lying can be non-verbal too. What about bluffing in poker? Immoral? Wearing camouflage? Faking shots in basketball? All those are with the intent to deceive people, but really... do we want to say Christian basketball players can't fake shots? I don't want to sound too sarcastic with these funny examples, but I think they are helpful."

How DOES one answer his question? I seriously doubt anyone would say the deception in camouflage or poker faces or fake-outs in sports are intrinsically immoral. What about in war - like the famous example of the inflatable 1st army in England before D-Day? Other disinformation tactics fed to a wartime enemy? Where does one draw the line?

And if it is okay to deceive in the sports/games/camouflage examples, then why not to the Nazi's? Or is it okay to DECEIVE the Nazis, but just not LIE to them?

This is all so confusing to someone not trained in thinking this way.

Mercury (and Robert),

None of those things is immoral. To see why, some background points need to be set out.

First, natural law theorists typically distinguish lying and deception, because either can occur without the other. I can lie and know that you will not be deceived, and (via evasive or ambiguous speech, broad mental reservations, and the like) I can deceive without lying. It is only lying -- directly and deliberately speaking contrary to one's mind -- that is claimed to be intrinsically wrong, while deception is wrong only depending on circumstances. That is why broad mental reservation, evasion, etc. can be OK in some circumstances, while lying never is.

As I've also noted, polite expressions like "I'm fine, thanks" are not lies even when the speaker is feeling bad. Why? Because of the meaning convention assigns to such expressions, and the conventions determine that they have different uses in different contexts. Compare: "Cat" usually refers to cats because the conventions of English usage determine that it does. But of course, given those conventions, it can also refer to a hipster, if uttered by (say) Sammy Davis Jr. or Frank Sinatra in 1960s Vegas. The overall context determines what is meant. Hence, if I say "The cat is on the mat" when someone asks me where Tabby ran to, everyone knows that what I mean to say is that there is a feline on a certain floor rug, and if I say it while knowing that Tabby is not there, I have lied. But if I point to Sammy Davis or Sinatra and say "There's a cool cat!" it would be silly for someone to say "You liar! That's not a cat, that's a man!" Given the facts of English usage, "cat" in that context refers to a kind of man, not to a feline.

Now, the same thing is true of expressions like "Fine, thanks," uttered in the usual social context. They have as a matter of convention come to have a standard use as pleasantries. In that context, they simply don't mean "I am literally free of any anxiety or trouble at all." That is why they are not lies at all, given the existing linguistic conventions -- any more than "There goes one cool cat!" is a lie, given the conventional usage. Jokes are similar -- given the context, everyone knows that no lie is involved, because the speech is not meant to be taken seriously in the first place, as it is in a lie.

Now, the poker example is to be understood in light of this, as are basketball and other games. Given the conventions involved, everyone knows that certain words, actions, and expressions can mean other than what they would naturally be taken to mean in a normal context. Just as everyone knows that "Fine, thanks" uttered in the elvator on the way to the office is something you are going to say whether or not you are rested and happy, that "cat" is an expression you might occasionally apply to a non-feline, and that jokes do not purport to present what is really in a person's mind, so too every poker player knows that another player's words or expression do not necessarily reflect what he is really thinking. Hence, though a player might be deceived, he is not being lied to. And only lies, and not deception, are inherently wrong. Same goes for stratagems in war, which is why camouflage, spying, and the like are all fine in principle. That is part of the "game" of war, as it were, and both sides know it.

That doesn't by any means entail that "anything goes." Mental reservations, ambiguity, evasion, deception, etc. can be wrong too. But they are not intrinsically wrong, while lying is, and the reason is that, unlike lying, they do not involve using a faculty in a way that is directly and deliberately contrary to its natural end.

Obviously there are all sorts of further questions one could raise, issues of how all this applies to this or that specific case, etc. Believe me, this stuff has been hashed out in detail, more detail than I can get into here. But those are some of the general principles.

Tony

Last time I consulted a dictionary, good and true were not the same thing. They are not made so just because they can be predicated of God. No?


Ed,

The God that I could see giving up my life for had damn well be more profound than the results of philosophers' dialectics.

God is Love;
Love is blind;
Ray Charles was blind;
Ray Charles was God.

And, following this 'dialectic God' to his logical conclusion...

Ray Charles is dead, so God is dead.

One might quibble a bit over one term not being in the same category as another, like I did for good and true, but hey, what do you expect when attempting to ef the ineffable?

And since the dialectic God is totally explained by the logical system of Natural Law, what implications does Godel's incompleteness theorem hold for the humble friar;s scheme?

JT,

Your "blind" logic fails in many ways. God is love, but not all love is blind, especially since God is omniscient. Also, I think you have an excluded middle in there. Love is a general attribute of God, but a specific attribute of RC, so you have committed the fallacy of the converse accident. Shall I go on?

The Chicken

MC

Yes, please. I would be interested on what you think are the implications of Godel's theorem on NL.

And maybe my take on the Good being made subservient to Truth by the dialectic.

Since not lying is an axiom in NL, it is not subject to the Incompleteness Theorem, which applies to statements within an axiomatic system and not statements of the axioms, themselves. Also, IT, as I undertand it, deals with finite axiomatic systems, not nested infinite systems as in NL. On the bus. More, later.

The Chicken

MC

While waiting for more, I would submit that nested within the system of mathematics is infinity. And, not just one type of infinity, at that.

Not too concerned about lying specifically, just whether Godel's theorem means that NL as a system is incomplete. My googles seem to say it does.

And if you have to go out of the 'system' to find that which completes it, then you should consider the validity of mythos over logos - the spirit over the letter, at least in the case of a systematization of god.

Fortunately, JT, neither Christianity nor NL constitute an attempt to systematize God.

You have forgotten more than I will ever know about Godel's theorem, but even I know that it does not apply to God, it only tries to speak to what can be said (or cannot), but God transcends that.

Hey, as long as we've brought up Godel, I have been dying to ask this: doesn't Godel's entire work rest on definite, specified meanings for the words that constitute the substrate of his theorems? Isn't that a problem? Don't we say that a given word may have several meanings, and infinite shadings of meaning? Does the fact that we don't know how many meanings "justice" may have affect anything?

Tony

I doubt any of us is an expert on Godel. I brought him and the Ray Charles thing up to try and reframe my point that Good reigns supreme over Truth, and that you cannot contain Good within syllogisms as you can Truth.

In fact it is this very fact that in modern times, science - the religion of logos - has usurped human values like virtue and excellence precisely because goodness cannot be measured, but accuracy can.

I cannot see why W4 commenters would disagree with mythos over logos, since it is the placement of rationality over man's nobler qualities that provides a succinct answer to Chesterton's W4 question.

I don't see why anyone would propose that people as heartily Christian as the people here at W4 would deny the importance of mystery, since mystery is built into the foundations of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition. And every time people try to speak about such mysteries as God's perfection, or simplicity, or unity, or goodness, or the Trinity, or the Incarnation, we always preface or follow it up with qualifications about how we cannot (in this life) actually know everything that there is to be known there, and still less can we speak all that can be known. We constantly affirm that logos with respect to our capacity falls short of the reality, which is mysterious.

reframe my point that Good reigns supreme over Truth, and that you cannot contain Good within syllogisms as you can Truth.

But you cannot contain the entirety of Truth within syllogisms, either. By definition, the roots of syllogisms rest prior to syllogism, and Truth underlies those roots. For instance, it is impossible to syllogize the principle of non-contradition.

JT, if one were to grant (as hypothesis) that the Good is prior to the True, would it not also be the case that BEING precedes both?

In any case, the A-T tradition proposes that the Good is just Being under the aspect of the desirable, and the True is just Being under the aspect of the knowable, and Beauty is just Being under the aspect of fittingness. But all the three aspects are distinct to us, because of our limited natures, not three aspects distinctly in themselves. Certainly in God, (especially given that in God even the word "Being" is only analogous to that which we mean when we apply it to other beings), the three aspects rest all simply together. It cannot be said of God that He is desirable before it is said that He is knowable, since logically you cannot love that which you do not know. But we do not posit that God is REALLY knowable before He is desirable, in Himself: we do not assert that the logical order in our minds is the REAL order in God.

Or, what we say of God is finite, and we attest that what we DON'T say of God is infinitely beyond that.

JT,

While waiting for more, I would submit that nested within the system of mathematics is infinity. And, not just one type of infinity, at that.

Infinity is a concept within mathematics and has nothing do do with the axiomatization of the mathematical process. Infinite axioms does not imply infinity. These are two totally different uses of the terms. Infinity is an axiom of some types of mathematics. Some axiomatic systems do not have the concept of infinity. Example: one can do perfectly good math in the set of all numbers from 1 to 10 plus the axiom that any number larger than 10 equals 10 and 1 / 0 equals 10 (this is called a floor function or a ceiling function, if you prefer, in mathematics). In this set, addition is perfectly defined, but infinity is not.

As for the application to NL, there are two Incompleteness Theorems, IT1 and IT2:

IT1: Any effectively generated theory capable of expressing elementary arithmetic cannot be both consistent and complete. In particular, for any consistent, effectively generated formal theory that proves certain basic arithmetic truths, there is an arithmetical statement that is true,[1] but not provable in the theory (Kleene 1967, p. 250).

IT2: For any formal effectively generated theory T including basic arithmetical truths and also certain truths about formal provability, T includes a statement of its own consistency if and only if T is inconsistent.

IT1, by saying effectively generated, refers to a finite set of axioms, as I said, above. Since God contains every true axiom and every statement of God is an axiom (because of divine simplicity), them every possible true statement is included in God and nothing is undecided. God is not, therefor bound by IT1. Statements within NL, to the extent that they refer back to God as the foundational axiom, are also not bound by IT1.

IT2, is equivalent to Tarski's T-theorem:

Tarski's undefinability theorem: There is no L-formula True(x) which defines T*. That is, there is no L-formula True(x) such that for every L-formula x, True(x) ↔ x is true.

Informally, the theorem says that given some formal arithmetic, the concept of truth in that arithmetic is not definable using the expressive means that arithmetic affords. This implies a major limitation on the scope of "self-representation." It is possible to define a formula True(x) whose extension is T*, but only by drawing on a metalanguage whose expressive power goes beyond that of L, second-order arithmetic for example.

Tarski's Theorem is known to be provable by meta-statements. Since God is the infinite regress of all meta-statements, there is nothing within God that is either inconsistent or unprovable within him. Thus, God is the only being who is both consistent within himself and by himself. Actually, that is not true. The Church, being the body of Christ, also shares this property. Thus, the Church, by its nature, shares with God, a unique relationship to the truth and is both consistent within itself and by itself. As such, to the extent that NL contains meta-statements whose anchor is God, it, too, shares in this property and neither IT2 nor Tarski's T- Theorem apply.

Hope that has confused you, enough.

Tony,

Hey, as long as we've brought up Godel, I have been dying to ask this: doesn't Godel's entire work rest on definite, specified meanings for the words that constitute the substrate of his theorems? Isn't that a problem?

This is not a problem, since each meaning can be projected onto a separate axiomatic system and proven within its particular domain of meaning. This is what one does, essentially in any statement that has multiple levels of meaning. It can be done as long as the number of meanings is countable. I used this approach in developing the logic of humor, since it uses word play all over the place.

The Chicken

Please, note: as I have a cold coming on and didn't get enough sleep last night, everything I said in my last post must be considered possibly wrong. Read at your own risk.

By the way, the correct solution to the murderer problem is not to answer the murderer, but knowing he is a murderer, knock him out with the handy frying pan that one has left near the door for just such emergencies.

The Chicken

Sorry I asked :)

Thanks to you both.

Chicken, I suspected that a countably infinite set of meanings was no problem. What I was worried about was that there is no way to prove that there is only countably infinite meanings. If you restrict the meanings to those dreamed up by an actual human being as of any specific date in time, then (since there will have been only finite humans at any date, and they each can have only finite # of thoughts) there will as of that date only have been a FINITE number of actual meanings that have come to be. But assuming time runs indefinitely to the future, nobody thinks that there must be a finite number of meanings possible.

What I cannot come up with is a reason to think that the number of possible meanings is countable. Cannot possible shades of meaning have a character similar to continuous extension? Why not?

Let me take a simple example. Cannot the word "crinch" mean either "a length of exactly one inch" , or "a length of 1.01 inches", or "a length of 1.0001 inches", or ...or "a length of pi inches", or "a length of root 2 inches"... Is it not possible for there to be expressions for any of the irrational numbers?

There is an index, called the F-scale (which someday I will publish, if I live long enough), that I invented back in the 1990's to deal with these questions. F-infinity systems do exist, where every word in the system has an infinite number of meanings. The result, however is infinite entropy in the sense of Communication Theory and the information content goes to zero. Thus, one cannot express anything in such a system.

The Chicken

Chicken, you must be slipping: I think I almost understood that! It does make sense that information content goes down. Thanks.

Ed Feser: So, again: What's it going to be, Michael?

Michael Bauman: [the sound of crickets on a summer evening]

Ed, how many “discussions” are you going to have to have with Michael before you finally admit that the Inquisition was a wonderful institution?

George, maybe Ed and Michael are both right. Jesus lied to his disciples to test out Ed and Aquinas' natural law dogma on small lies only being venial sins. Being His only sin, upon His death, he had a ticket to get in to purgatory, serve His brief time while checking out the digs, and then was purged of the sin as though it never happened. So now He has no lie in Him.

I can't seem to put my finger on the Bible passage that supports this, but it's likely there somewhere.

What I cannot come up with is a reason to think that the number of possible meanings is countable. Cannot possible shades of meaning have a character similar to continuous extension? Why not?

Indeed they can and Merrie Bergmann has a delightful book on fuzzy logic, An Introduction to Many-valued and Fuzzy Logic, that discusses infinite-valued logical systems. Take the statements: Pi is 3, pi is 3.1, Pi is 3.14, etc. One can define a membership function M = x/Pi to define the degree of closeness to the statement being exactly true.

I think we (I) am ruining everyone else's enjoyment by discussing arcana such as this, so I will bow out of this topic of the discussion.

The Chicken

George, maybe Ed and Michael are both right. Jesus lied to his disciples to test out Ed and Aquinas' natural law dogma on small lies only being venial sins. Being His only sin, upon His death, he had a ticket to get in to purgatory, serve His brief time while checking out the digs, and then was purged of the sin as though it never happened. So now He has no lie in Him.

JT, This makes no sense. Since Jesus is God, wherever Jesus is, there is heaven, since, by definition, wherever God is, there is heaven and Jesus is God. Also, since he was a man in all things but sin, there could be no venial sin in him.

The Chicken

Yeah, MC, I'll go with that as I am drawing a blank on where anything is in support of what I proposed.

Your mentioning of the two natures of God just got me to thinkin'. Not that I am much interested in talking mythos over logos any more, here, I but am wondering why no one pointed out that God the Father actually is the mythos of the Hebrew nation - the mysterious all-good, all-knowing, etc. Jesus was literally the the logos - the word, the rationale, the truth og the God-human drama.

From Ed's parallel combox, I think they are saying that lying is bad in NL because it is counter to the proper telos of the various sub forms of the tongue, lungs, lips, brain, and rational soul. If this is the way NL policies are established, I am dying to know how the formal cause of , all of, say, a cows tongue, liver, or brain, to teleologically fulfilled as food for homo-sapiens.

This could easily be taken as a blasphemous abomination denying the natural ends of a creature of God for an essentialist who otherwise never read NL.

And if eating real body parts is in line with the final cause of the various substantial forms like cow livers, hogs heads, lamb chops, what then is so mortally wrong with merely pretending to eat human body parts during sex?

May need to blow a lot of dust off the NL manual that covers that one!

Typo fix

From Ed's parallel combox, I think they are saying that lying is bad in NL because it is counter to the proper telos of the various sub forms of the tongue, lungs, lips, brain, and rational soul. If this is the way NL policies are established, I am dying to know how the formal cause of, say, a cow's tongue, liver, or brain, is ever teleologically fulfilled by being used as food for homo-sapiens.

Chicken, I think JT is just pretending to think these things. He might as well propose that Michael and George agree!

I have mixed in some serious comments and questions, too, Tony.

I have sort of come back to my 1st post about essential ism, and how it uses reason to divide up, label, and ascribe anthropocentric purposes to reality.

As I mentioned, in metaphysical activity, philosophers and theologians use rationality to magically create certainty from the receptacle that presents the phenomenal world.

Along the lines of Godel's distrust of big systematic theories, I am leery of metaphysical systems, like NL, for instance. Such agnosticism as is the stuff of science makes for somewhat less magical explanations of reality.

Such oddities as the murderer at the door, or the mortal sin of non-missionary sex that results from the authoritative system of NL with its unintuitive explanations for how the telos of each substantial form is the basis for determining sinful action are why I agree with Professor Bauman about the need for the Reformation.

Just Thinking, I can sympathize with the thought that the Schoolmen made a game out of casuistic logic that fell a bit farther from good sense. If this were the primary claim for the need for the Reformation, though, I don't it is a sufficient basis. The net result of the Reformation is, primarily, that now NOBODY agrees on basis points of morality, much less on rarefied questions like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Any 5 Protestants whether abortion is wrong, and you will get 6 different answers. ;-). So, we went from confidence about the basics and dispute about the abstruse stuff, to confidence about nothing. This is better why?
Warning: thread jack, no need to reply.

Tony

That is an excellent point, and not at all a deviation from the OP.

In my younger days, I bemoaned the lack of consensus. I remember saying in a faculty break room 'the world needs a Pope' and a fellow faculty peer of the Southern Baptist faith just sneered at the thought. He was right and I was right because of our personally held beliefs, which were largely our parroting of our respective clergy.

Now, I say that the world needed Luther and the reformers, and it also does well to have the Pope. The diversity that seems to scandalize Christianity really shouldn’t when we look at the secular political sphere. Christians can take consolation that it seems to be a universal thing for rational humans to seek unique self-expression.

That’s what makes capitalism strong.

On a recent W4 thread, I was upset by the exchange Lydia and I had w/r abortion. I was defending my agnosticism on the issue (not long ago, I might not have done so), and she was appalled that I did not see it thru her moral lens. I have a very deep concern for animals, that most Christians don’t. This is pluralism. It was like this in ancient Athens, and this is how it is among the billions who share our planet today.

Arguments springing from religious dogma are obviously a global problem now. Is the problem a result of the doctrines of the faiths, the individualism of modern man, secularism’s challenges to traditional religion, the Reformation…If there were one holy catholic and apostolic church would we have no abortion, no murderers to turn away from those we protect, no greed and corruption?

This is what leads me to say our rationality is not at all that noble…reason in service to tolerant compassion seems a better avenue to pursue.

I agree that tolerant compassion should be more available in the world. I think that the crux is how far to take it, and when to say: further tolerance ceases to be compassion, because it is not compassionate to the future victims who are clearly foreseeable. If there was only one, holy, catholic religion that came down to us from the time of Adam, and everyone observed that religion in worship of the one God, there would be no question that rationality and compassion are BOTH at the service of truth and love. And religious pluralism would not improve things.

How does religious dogma foster the creative advance that occurred in the absence of the catholic religion since Adam?

Reword

Creative advance of humanity since Adam is evident. How would the religious dogma of a catholic church foster such creative advance had it been in place since Adam?

Whoa, not a trick question to switch to a process debate - I only borrowed their term 'creative advance'.

What would it be like if there had always been a single religion? Would we still wonder about responses to the murderer at the door? Would there even be a W4 blog focusing on the sins of the world?

Don't be shy.

If there was only one, holy, catholic religion that came down to us from the time of Adam, and everyone observed that religion in worship of the one God, there would be no question that rationality and compassion are BOTH at the service of truth and love. And religious pluralism would not improve things.

Tony

Other than because the Nicene Creed contains as an article of faith that we should believe in one [C or c]atholic Church, what leads you to believe that our human rationality and compassion will best be placed in service of truth and love by a monolothic world religion?

1) Didn’t the horrors of the middle ages give us a glimpse of what this might really look like?
2) Isn’t the pluralism resulting from the Reformation more in sync with democracy?
3) Isn’t the genius fostering competition in the capitalist marketplace a good reason to believe morality, too, can best be advanced in a democratic plurality?

JT, this is extremely off topic, but I will give you a quick answer (I am willing to engage the debate more completely if someone at W4 wants to introduce it as a primary thread).

You are arguing under the presumption of original sin, and man tending to sin and ignorance. In those conditions, there are certain evils that pluralism tends to diminish. I was presenting a more general point: without the presumption of sin and ignorance, pluralism is not of itself beneficial. Since God is one, and the TRUTH is one, if one religion respected the whole of that truth, then any other religion would by definition be a detraction from the perfect body of Truth and would be a diminution of society, not an improvement. Men without sin and ignorance are capable of all of the advancement of knowledge, society, and love that men WITH sin are capable of - and more.

But even within the Catholic Church itself, which I assume is the one you prefer, there is diversity of opinion (various orders. pro-lifers, conservatives, liberals, etc.). There are certainly even those who do not accept all of NL. There are many who would teach that lying is not a sin in all cases.

Diversity seems unavoidable.

There are many who would teach that lying is not a sin in all cases.

These big quote boxes are sooo cool.

On the murderer and lying. I distinctly remember being taught in grammar and high school (Catholic) that you must follow your conscience when choosing right from wrong, and if you choose what you think is right, there is no sin - even for what might otherwise from your situation be considered mortal sin.

Not sure if this teaching has been brought up yet in these comboxes.

Yes, it has, in various contexts. The general rule that "you must follow your conscience" is completed by the qualifier "properly formed." A person who refuses to look up what the law says, and then says "gee, I didn't KNOW that the law said I have to pay taxes on this income" has no excuse. And if a person admits to the truth of the Gospel, and refuses to try to understand the Gospel enough to understand that the commandment against adultery ALSO forbids lust has no excuse for his sins of lust. In perhaps a less emphatic way, a person who has heard in some sermon 5 years ago that "even white lies are sins" but blew it off as being "unrealistic" and never bothered trying to follow up on it and never bothered to understand the basis for the teaching cannot say "my conscience didn't tell me it was wrong" as excuse - he didn't make the effort to inform his conscience appropriately. The Bible is there, and the preachers are out there who preach the truth. People who cannot be bothered to search out what is actually taught are not excused.

On the other hand, a person who has APPROPRIATELY attempted to receive formation for his conscience, and has been led astray by false teachings through no fault of his own, IS excused from guilt. In this sense, his conscience is clean.

Yep, Tony, That's how I recall it.

A big question is the theological beliefs of the minister, pastor, priest, lay religious ed, or nun doing the teaching/preaching. Here, I think, you will find more who do not adhere to NL, and so in our era, the murderer will most likely get fibbed, and the fibber gets to feel noble about it (if it works).

I am not so sure 'follow your conscience' really has been addressed. What most commenters are following is what their common sense tells them - their nature. But, it is true that a well-formed conscience will usually be in line with common sense, as in lying to the murderer at the door.

There are many cases, where the conscience will lead an individual to transcend his natural tendencies, and withhold gossip, not escalate a hostility, etc. Lying to the murderer ain't one of them.

Following a well-formed conscience, the majority of people reject Ed's admonition not to lie as ignoble and unnatural. Such is the nature of a lot of the NL.

beliefs of the minister, pastor, priest, lay religious ed, or nun doing the teaching/preaching. Here, I think, you will find more who do not adhere to NL...Following a well-formed conscience, the majority of people reject Ed's admonition not to lie as ignoble and unnatural.

Or rather, what follows from your statement is "following a conscience formed, with inadvertent error, but with sincere effort and with no fault of their own, the majority..." I have no problem with that: God can sort out the sheep from the goats just fine, with no input from the likes of me. But I would rather not be placed in with the goats for failing to speak the truth about the NL principles when the matter came up.

Tony

I hear that. But whose truth?

There always seems to be a thisy versus a thaty - it's that Hegelian thingy.

My big concern with conservative Catholics is about the relationship between conservative and liberal theologies within the Church? They do coexist, you know. Not all Catholics are A-T, not even that many.

I have been a Catholic as a youth in formation, a young adult committed to the Faith, a middle-aged seeker of what it all means (my wife was raised Lutheran and is far more pragmatic about religion than I was – to my great succeeding development). Now I ask questions as an adult human.

I find no more certainty about human experience in indisputable evidence among Catholics, other Christians, or any other religious or social group.


The most natural interpretation of the Olivet discourse and subsequent history is that of mainstream scholarly consensus: that Jesus was a failed prophet.

I hear that. But whose truth?

I would suppose that the Person whose truth matters is the One Who gets to decide at the end who was following their conscience and who was not - God.

Oh, you mean until that point? JT, I know that people of good will come to different conclusions about moral theology. The fact that they don't agree is no more proof that the truth doesn't exist than that evolutionists not agreeing on whether birds came from dinosaurs or from turtles means there aren't birds. All due respect to Hegel (i.e., 0.00000001%). And if it exists, we have a duty to strive for it even if we are not perfectly successful in our striving. As I say, God will not ascribe evil will to one who strives to form his conscience properly and then follows that.

I don't denigrate anyone of good will striving to find the truth HONESTLY, and that means striving to root out of themselves such pride as will interfere with seeing the truth when it hits them in the face. I know Protestants who are better at following their consciences than I am, and I respect them for that. There may be times when non-Catholics, such as a holy Protestant, will see the true morally upright act better than I, precisely because I still have enough pride to obscure an elephant (at least at times). But I cannot think that this means that morality is somehow a different thing for Protestants or non-Christians than it is for Catholics. But this all requires a vastly different starting point than the right principles about lying.


Did I hear a troll scrape knuckles into the conversation? I suspect that in Jesus' point of view, his preaching being heard and followed by one person means he is not a failure. But that's hardly on topic, now is it?

Tony

I very much agree with your thoughts in last post.

I hope that doesn't affect your status at W4.

just thinking

Not all Catholics are A-T, not even that many.

You've identified the problem. The solution is clear.

Y

ou've identified the problem. The solution is clear.

Okay? Please continue.

Two quick points:

1. The problems in the Middle Ages were because people weren't following Church teaching, not because there was only one Church. In fact, creativity thrives on restriction.

2. Truth is not plural although it may have different expressions (one thing that the existence of the Trinity teaches)...and it is not a democracy.

The Chicken

MC

I can see what you mean about creativity, where a restriction can give rise to creativity in pursuit of more freedom, as in "necessity is the mother of invention." What you overlook is that within a plurality of viewpoints, one will find multiplicities of restrictions with their inevitable giving way to a multiplicity of creative advances toward novelty.

“Truth is not a democracy.” O.K. My dictionary seems to confirm this. However, I couldn't find where 'truth is not plural' showed up there.

I'll leave it to you to uncover a few medieval Church teachings that were followed that maaaby shouldn't have been. Don't overlook Aquinas' theory that females are produced from male embryos that were damaged through some accident in the womb.

I'll point out just one Church practice that may be seen as horrible by some W4 folk with whom I have gained little favor: abortions were common and condoned by the Church following its belief of 'delayed ensoulment' (a soul-less fetus up to as much as 5 months).

Is this delayed ensoulment theory still Truth? Some say yes, some say no, I say mu.

MC

I don't want to interfere with your medieval Church googling, but I surmise from your fine explanations of Godel that you are a fan of logic.

What is the logical analysis of the statement "2 + 2 = 5 for some above average values of 2"

Your 2 +2 statement is too vague to admit an answer. Define plus and average.

Also, poor understanding of biology does not affect the argument, since, if St. Thomas had known better, he would have defined better. Abortion is murder just in the case of a human being. This is the supernatural dogma; the understanding of the natural parts are subject to improvements until they are both clear and true.

The Chicken

Tony:
Since God is one, and the TRUTH is one, if one religion respected the whole of that truth, then any other religion would by definition be a detraction from the perfect body of Truth and would be a diminution of society, not an improvement.


Is there such a religion?

NC

The 2 + 2 = 5 thing was on a T shirt with subtitle 'for extreme values of 2'

The official pronouncements of the Catholic Church on abortion and contraception are not considered to be 'infallible.'

George

For that matter by definition, religion is a cultural response to the unknown. We see this even within the global variations in liturgies, festivals, etc. of just the Catholic religion itself.

For that matter by definition, religion is a cultural response to the unknown

Far from being a response to the unknown, and an even further distance from your claim that religion is a cultural response to the unknown, religion is best defined as a couple of Catholics defined it:


http://books.google.com/books?id=emoQAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA739&lpg=PA739&dq=religion+is+defined+as+a+bond+with+god&source=bl&ots=w0VuJk28W4&sig=K-9d3EszvwnCD6KdcKykaQbI0AY&hl=en&ei=zGHhTKj1BcT7lweElojmAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=religion%20is%20defined%20as%20a%20bond%20with%20god&f=false

The official pronouncements of the Catholic Church on abortion and contraception are not considered to be 'infallible.'

Wrong. Both teachings are infallibly part of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium and both practices have always been condemned.


Vatican One:

Session 3 : 24 April 1870

Dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith

8. Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, andwhich are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.


Wrong.

Both teachings are infallibly part of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium

All the bishops responded to a poll by JP II, but he chose not to use papal infallibility.

and both practices have always been condemned

Maybe the Vatican doesn't look at what all historians and theologians have reported. I found some sources that say otherwise.

FWIW

Oh, and along the lines of the friar's disgust for women, but going all the way to Augustine, check out why certain dogmas were held. For example, why sterilization was considered worse than abortion. There is actually a pro-choice Saint, if I recall.

This is off topic, I know, but to clarify a bit.

Yes, the Ord. and Univ. Magis. is said to be irreversibly infallible like papal ex cathedra.

The historical definition of abortion has changed - immoral (first trimester) else murder, to murder at any time. The Magistarium says it has always condemned it - true, but it has also redefined when it was murder since the middle ages.


My googling for that stuff also showed that NL is not simply what Aquinas taught, but is the human conscience.
So now, back on topic, w/r to lying to the murderer at the door, follow natural law, your personal conscience. Now that sounds right.

Rightly formed conscience, sigh.

The Chicken

Okaay!

But NL is not hostage to the theology of the friar. One of you should have corrected me on that misconception, which is the heart of the debate of this whole post.

I had asked for Ed to comment on this conscience thing earlier at his place.

Dear Just Thinking.

http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/552/Doctrinal_Commentary_on_Ad_Tuendam_Fidem_Joseph_Cardinal_Ratzinger.html

The Catholic Church has always taught, and taught infallibly, that contraception and abortion are serious sins and that teaching is part of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium...

even if Fr Fool or Sister Sinister claims otherwise because that is the teaching of the Teaching office - The Magisterium - whereas what Fr Fool or Sister Sinister is claiming is personal opinion.

The Catholic Church has always taught, and taught infallibly, that contraception and abortion are serious sins

I understand. But their reasons surrounding fertility and reproduction dogma may not be as steady as they imply (much historic and theologic writing here, for sure). Also for sure, the definition of human life of the fetus has been changes, and not that long ago. This has surely helped give ammo to pro-choice arguments, and to a substantial degree weakened the infallibility claim.

JT: "Following a well-formed conscience, the majority of people reject Ed's admonition not to lie as ignoble and unnatural. Such is the nature of a lot of the NL."

I think I know what the problem with natural law theory is.

Now, keep in mind, I haven't studied it extensively ... or much at all, for that matter: most of what I think (or image, if one prefers) I understand about it derives from reading Herr Doktor Professor's disquisitions.

Also, I'm sympathetic to the project -- though, as I have watched in recent months in horror at some of the conclusions to which NLT leads HDP, my sympathy has been slowly evaporating

Here is what/where I suspect the error is (and, it may be related to the late David Stove's view, which he couldn't quite articulate, that there is a serious flaw buried in the philosophy of both Aristotle and Aquinas) -- natural law theory attempts to capture the entirely of morality into a complete formal axiomatic system. Gödel, and all that, you know?

Ilion

Ever since I looked at Kant, that same hunch started nagging me. BTW, if you didn't catch it , a bit up in this combox, we discussed Godel for several posts).

I need to google more on that, to either bring it up more, or lay it to rest as inapplicable (as was highly suggested).

natural law theory attempts to capture the entirely of morality into a complete formal axiomatic system.

Ilion, that simply isn't true. That sounds much more like Kant's thesis than anything that Aristotle or St. Thomas could possibly have written, or any other NLT proponent I have read. NLT requires a given FACT, concrete and material, that humans are THIS way, built and expressed THIS way, as rational animals in 2 sexes with X, Y, and Z conditional realities. If God had decided to create us in 3 sexes, or a-sexual, NLT would give us very different results. If God decided to make us as pure spirits who CAN but don't have to use bodies to express ourselves, morality for us would be extremely different. If God had decided to make us non-social beings, we would have an unrecognizable moral picture compared to what we have in reality.

Furthermore, Aristotle explicitly rejects the notion that "the good act" can be prescribed beforehand down to the smallest detail, because morality involves contingent causes and free agents, whose operation cannot be boiled down mechanistically to a single resolution; and it involves nuanced actions that are better known with habitual readiness to do the right than with formal analysis. NLT requires application of prudence, which simply cannot be expressed axiomatically.

natural law theory attempts to capture the entirely of morality into a complete formal axiomatic system. Gödel, and all that, you know?

I answered that on Saturday. NL is a special reserved nested infinite axiomatic system and Godel's theorem does not apply. Do I have to confuse you all, again??

Have you noticed how none of the blogmeisters are posting in this thread any longer? I think we have overstayed our welcome.

The Chicken

That's because Lydia signaled for them shun me.

All right, I'm still alive!


MC

NL is a special reserved nested infinite axiomatic system

When you first typed this, I had doubts that it was anything more than personal opinion, but I could not really argue. Before I start looking into Godel's IT reach, what does this phrase mean?


Ilion

made me see something else with a simple 'T': There is the natural law of the bible - the conscience that one has as the spark of Divine Intelligence in man, NL; and there is the theory of a friar who synthesizes an ancient pagan philosophy of forms with a body of scriptures that has been specially interpreted so as to fit the Philosopher, Natural Law Theory, NLT.

There is the monolithic powerhouse of the Western catholic church sanctioning its newly developed magical rational control of reality via this theory in the midieval era, its prideful power in its ability to claim infallibility, and here we are.

Professor Bauman, where are you? Did Queen Lydia frighten you away, as she did all the others?

made me see something else with a simple 'T': There is the natural law of the bible - the conscience that one has as the spark of Divine Intelligence in man, NL; and there is the theory of a friar who synthesizes an ancient pagan philosophy of forms with a body of scriptures that has been specially interpreted so as to fit the Philosopher, Natural Law Theory, NLT.

Oh, good golly. Please open the eyes a little wider. When Ilion says there is "the natural law of the bible - the conscience that one has as the spark of Divine Intelligence in man,", he is ALSO recounting a theory. Those words are not in the Bible, he is theorizing about the Bible. His theory is different from Thomas's, so be it. But does his theory hold together with all the other parts of the Bible? Not by half: the point of Ed's short little syllogism is to illustrate the problem in pointed terms: if you want to say that God is a liar, you have some pretty difficult problems to overcome, including Titus. It may in fact be the case that Michael B and Ilion can make that passage from Titus match up with their idea of lying so that it is OK to say that God lies, but we don't know, because they haven't tried to show us. But don't try to characterize Ilion's little theory as "just simple, home-spun taking the Bible at its word" while simply ignoring Titus - it's a THEORY that is subject to the same broad critique as that of Thomas.

Lydia didn't scare anyone away, because she didn't need to.

There is the monolithic powerhouse of the Western catholic church sanctioning its newly developed magical rational control of reality via this theory in the midieval era, its prideful power in its ability to claim infallibility, and here we are.

I suppose that we should also be wary of Christ's prideful claim to infallibility? The Church's claim isn't prideful if Christ really is infallible, and if He really did place that mantle upon her by His power. You cannot merely suppose that the claim is prideful, as if such a supposition controls reality via some magical a-rational power of Hypothesis.

I hoped Michael B would come back and speak to the positive influences the Reformation brought about. I have said quite a few things about NLT that Protestants strongly affirm (and many liberal Catholic theologians).

He may have left after being goaded to respond to the juvenile tactic of 'solve this biblical logic puzzle.' Or, he may not respond to me because he has been led to believe I am a baby murdering heathen, which is not so.

I am almost certain conscience appears in the bible, or else it is what is meant when the term 'natural law of man' is used.

Conscience - a universal natural law

As narrated in the Bible, during creation God imprinted into the nature of man His Divine Image, which draws man toward everything that is morally good and averts him from everything that is morally evil. This inner law works through the voice of conscience, which justly is called the voice of God in man. Because it is an integral part of human nature, it is active in all people - regardless of their age, race, education, or development.

Indeed, studying the culture and customs of past and present nations, one notes that all people, even the most primitive tribes, distinguish between what is good and what is bad, between good man and evil man, between virtue and vice. They are all agreed on this: that the good is worth striving for, that evil be shunned, and that the one deserves praise, the other, blame. Though in individual cases they may not be one in denominating the same thing good or evil, they are nevertheless agreed as to the general principle that good is to be done and evil avoided. The occasional discrepancy in labeling some actions as good or evil seems to come from the particular circumstances in which a given nation develops. It is a universally recognized principle that one should not do to others what he would not wish them to do to him. Vice everywhere seeks to hide itself or at least to put on the mask of virtue.

The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans explains in some detail how moral law works in man. The Apostle reproaches those who know the written Law of God but willfully violate it. He contrasts them with the pagans who "not having a written Law, naturally observe the prescriptions of the Law. By this they show that the process of the Law is written in their hearts which is witnessed by their conscience and thoughts, which either punish or justify one another" (Rom. 1:14-15). According to St. Paul, on the forthcoming Judgment Day God will judge men not only according to their faith, but also according to their conscience. Thus even the pagans may be saved if their conscience will witness to God their righteous life.

In general, conscience is a very sensitive moral evaluator - especially in children and young people, who are still pure and innocent. If we were not stained by sin, we would not need any external guidance, and conscience alone could precisely direct our behavior. The necessity for written law arose from original sin when man, dimmed by passion, failed to hear clearly the inner voice. In the present condition, both the written law and the inner natural law of conscience are needed; and they both speak of the same: "Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you" (Matt. 7:12).

In daily relationships with people, we subconsciously trust the conscience more than written laws and regulations. Indeed, it is impossible to have laws for every imaginable situation and to foresee how to preclude any attempts at breaking them. After all, shrewd people manage to twist and manipulate even the clearest of laws. So we hope that conscience, which works inside every person, will compel the person we are dealing with to do what is morally good and just.

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/consci.htm#n2

In daily relationships with people, we subconsciously trust the conscience more than written laws and regulations. Indeed, it is impossible to have laws for every imaginable situation and to foresee how to preclude any attempts at breaking them. After all, shrewd people manage to twist and manipulate even the clearest of laws. So we hope that conscience, which works inside every person, will compel the person we are dealing with to do what is morally good and just.

Tony

This quote sums up my point I have tried to hold a connection with since my 1st.

Had this quote been the first comment to Ed's blog on lying to the murder, the matter would have grounded out quickly. Following what I and Ilion (and I am pretty sure Michael B would strongly agree), a good conscience (spirit) trumps law. We act from our heart, and that is how we are judged. Ed wants to bind us the the A-T law, and that is why there was a Reformation.

In daily relationships with people, we subconsciously trust the conscience more than written laws and regulations.

I don't think Fr. Alexander means what you think he means. The written laws he is thinking of are just those: written, in concrete acts of legislation or command by authority. We KNOW such acts are insufficient to tell us all of what we need to know as the good act or the bad act, for all possible acts.

Fr. Alexander is not trying to set up any kind of dichotomy between the law written in our hearts and the law of God, still less is he suggesting that we ought to trust our conscience more than we ought to trust God's law. Heavens, he says nothing of the sort: his comment "we subconsciously trust" is an observation, not a pronouncement of general principle. To the extent that his observation can be drawn into a general principle, it must be qualified by his own point: In the present condition, both the written law and the inner natural law of conscience are needed; and they both speak of the same. The present condition being the condition under sin.

God is the author of conscience, which is the law written in our hearts. That is to say, the Divine Law is expressed internally. Yet we know too that the expression of the Divine Law in us has been damaged by sin: evil in our hearts clouds our grasp of the right. Therefore, you cannot suppose that what your heart inclines toward is surely where the Divine Law prescribes.

Natural law is merely a subset of the Divine Law: it is the Divine Law insofar as that Law relates to the specific nature of man. It isn't some human construct made to obscure God's law. If people think that Thomas's proposed expression of "The Natural Law" obscures the Divine Law, then they are effectively supposing that this proposal is erroneous about what really is the Divine Law insofar as it relates to the specific nature of man. It doesn't mean that there is no such thing as the Divine Law insofar as it relates to the specific nature of man. If there is a better way to express the Divine Law insofar as it relates to the nature of man, GO AT IT. State it so we can all see it and examine it and test it, as we do for St. Thomas's.

If you mean to say, instead, that the Divine Law insofar as it relates to the nature of man simply cannot be known, then this defies exactly what ST. Paul says. Furthermore, since those things that the conscience tells us generally as universally applicable (do good and avoid evil, do unto others as you would have them do) are PRECISELY 2 founding statements of Thomas's expression of the natural law, then it simply isn't true that we cannot know what the Divine Law prescribes insofar as it relates to the nature of man.

There is the monolithic powerhouse of the Western catholic church sanctioning its newly developed magical rational control of reality via this theory in the midieval era, its prideful power in its ability to claim infallibility, and here we are.

Dear Just thinking. You have erred in blaming medieval men in The Catholic Church when it comes to infallibility.

Don't be such a liberal and blame others. Place the blame for an inerrant teaching Church on Jesus and The Holy Ghost. It is all their doing:

Matt 16:18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1 Tim 3…But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Luke 10:16 ] He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

John 14 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever…But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

1 John 2 And as for you, let the unction, which you have received from him, abide in you. And you have no need that any man teach you; but as his unction teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie. And as it hath taught you, abide in him

Matt 28:20 …and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.

Now, I know there are a lot of folks who think that Jesus established a Church that teaches error and that it has led uncountable numbers of souls into Hell but that is a thing that Satan would have done; not Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour.

And, if those who think The Church Jesus established has taught error, they must also think that Jesus sent The Holy Ghost upon the whole Church to teach His Church error or that The Holy Ghost failed like Jesus did and that The Holy Ghost is as incompetent as Jesus must have been.

I don't see any way around thinking that Jesus was evil or incompetent if such folks who think the Catholic Church teaches error are right.

Do folks really think Jesus is either evil or so incompetent that He could not have established a Church and preserved it from teaching error?

Lord, have Mercy.

I don't see any way around thinking that Jesus was evil or incompetent if such folks who think the Catholic Church teaches error are right.

The Church is often called the bride of Jesus. The church is not God, else instead of a Trinity you'd have a Quandary.

I am reading y'all's words and thinking of John Michael Talbot's songs about the bride. Like this one:

“Would You Crucify Him?”

Words and Music by John Michael Talbot
on Firewind

Copyright 1979


I think I get his message as similar to what I mean to say.

Sometimes in the cool of the evening
The truth comes like a lover through the wind
Sometimes though my thoughts have gone misleading
She’ll ask that same old question once again

(Chorus)
Would you crucify him?
Would you crucify him?
My old friends
But would you crucify him?
I’m talking ’bout the sweet Lord Jesus
If he’d stand right here among you once again

She’s asking how many times
Will you look down to the harlot
Looking through her tears pretending you don’t know
But you were once just like her
How can you be now so self-righteous
When in the name of the Lord you throw the first stone

(Chorus)

So now I turn to you
Through your years of your robes and your stained-glass windows
And do you vainly echo your prayers say your pleasing the Lord
Profess the marriage with your tongue
But your mind dreams like the harlot
And if the judge looks to your thoughts can’t you guess your reward
Yet how many times have you quoted from your Bible
To justify your eye for your eye and your tooth for your tooth
You say that he didn’t mean
What he was plainly saying
And like the Pharisee, my friend you’re an educated fool

The church is not God, else instead of a Trinity you'd have a Quandary.

You meant to say quartet, but it was a good play on words.

Now, I know there are a lot of folks who think that Jesus established a Church that teaches error and that it has led uncountable numbers of souls into Hell but that is a thing that Satan would have done; not Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour.

So how do you explain Judaism? If they practice and preach Mosaic law and not the New Covenant, aren't they teaching error and intentionally repudiating salvation? Would you then say Moses established a Church that prefers to teach error for a few millennium and was blind to the truth?

Step

Man I was lookin' for that word, but when quandary appeared, I chuckled and let 'er loose.

Who you askin' 'bout the Hebrew thingy?

What he was plainly saying

Yeah, plainly. It is as obvious as the nose on your face. Except all the times that the Bible appears to contradict itself: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares" but yet again "They shall beat their plowshares into swords."

And like the Pharisee, my friend you’re an educated fool

I love it when people call someone else a Pharisee. And "a fool" no less! The irony is so delicious. The same criticism of hypocritical fault-finding for others' faults comes back and hits them squarely in the back of the head. I think we should call it THE BOOMERANG EFFECT. And the song above should be called "Boomerangs R Us." Do you think maybe the author intended just that irony in ending the song on the mention of the Pharisees?

Oh, good golly. Please open the eyes a little wider. When Ilion says there is "the natural law of the bible - the conscience that one has as the spark of Divine Intelligence in man,", he is ALSO recounting a theory. ...
Tony ought to open *his* eyes a bit wider (Ilíon didn't say anything like that, not did JT say he did).

... all that JT said in reference to Ilíon is that in reading the phrase "natural law theory" (which wording I used intentionally), it suddently dawned on him that this discussion (such as it is) isn't so much about "natural law" as about a *theory* of the content natural law -- or, to be more precise, a formal axiomatic system which takes as its subject-matter the content natural law.

The following posts are not all complete at this time (2010/11/16) (*). But, as Herr Doktor Professor has no desire to engage actual criticism of his argument, and as I generally don't continue to hang around when I'm clearly not wanted (**), I'm not really going to say more here. Interested readers are free to follow the links, so long as the links are there.

Truth and Honesty ... and Otherwise (this was written weeks ago, but is topical)
Lying is not intrinsically immoral
Lying is not intrinsically immoral, Part II
What is a lie?

Herr Dokor Professor has some issues

(*) also, I need to leave town (to go out of state), so if I don't finish them soon, it may be a while before I do.

(**) also, I quickly lose interest in intellectually dishonest persons.

Following what I and Ilion (and I am pretty sure Michael B would strongly agree), a good conscience (spirit) trumps law.

JT, Since the topic of this thread is Natural Law, I assume you mean Natural Law in your sentence. But since the Natural Law is just the Divine Law as it pertains to the nature of man, your comment amounts to either
(1) a rejection of Divine Law; or
(2) a rejection of the nature of man; or
(3) a rejection that the Divine Law bears on the nature of man.

What you seem to fail to understand is that when the conscience speaks out (because it is Divine Law internal to man) mostly what it speaks IS JUST NATURAL LAW. Any time it speaks about man as man, it IS speaking natural law, because it is speaking that subset of the Divine Law that is about man. So, somehow you want to abandon natural law in favor of conscience in spite of that being just exactly what conscience speaks out.

Ilion

That sounds right to me. As I see it, we have a conscience that is fused with character and temperament, all formed thru experience.

In my case, the heavy-handedness of authoritarian 'you must believe thus because of
a)this
b)that
c)and most importantly, this other
has been something I have resisted since the earliest days of rel. ed. Formation.

When in second grade I came home from catechism crying, my mother and sisters finally coaxed it from me that I did not want my Baptist father to go to hell. He wasn’t a church man, but respected ,y mothers’ nun-trained deep Catholic faith. I learned much morality from my father that was not in the form of ‘thou shalt because Aquinas’ catechism proves it infallibly so.’ He taught me to question reality (he never intefered with religious matters).

The nuns in later grammar and high school did a much better job in presenting moral principles, which I now know are more personalistic in theological genre. In college, on a work detail in a summer Catholic volunteer program, I spent several weeks living at the Bishop’s residence with several others. I now know he was of a Thomistic persuasion, but all I knew then was that the whole place was stiflingly unattractive to this pilgrim, and within a few weeks, he and I were riding back in his car from an errand and he turned to me saying ‘You really don’t like me much do you?” I assented, and we talked a bit about my then Charismatic interests. Temperamant.


Tony

“So, somehow you want to abandon natural law in favor of conscience in spite of that being just exactly what conscience speaks out.”

No. I want a more personalistic understanding of how Divinity directs men’s conscience than what the essentialist friar has provided the Catholic Church. Looking over it’s new catechism (following a comment in another thread), in the 800-850 range of statements, I am detecting a very personalist take on things (ala Benedict 16), and a decidedly strong emphasis on individually formed conscience. Take a look.

As for your words on Talbot, you may not have followed his metaphor (and/or I may not have it right). It centers on the stoning of the adulteress: in the first half, we see Mother (or Bridal) Church teaching us to be compassionate and that we are not to be hypocritical about sin; in the second half, Mother Church is being viewed with the same teaching in mind for her.

If you’ve never heard it, it is worth buying – he sings beautifully.

"If you’ve never heard it, it is worth buying – he [John Michael Talbot] sings beautifully."

He does, indeed; his music seems Biblically-sound -- and his Catholicism doesn’t usually get in the way (that’s a joke). It's been many years (at least a decade, if not two) since I've (regularly) bought Talbot's albums. This is not a slam on Talbot; I haven't bought much music for at least a decade, and (so far as I know, for I no longer regularly "window shop" at music stores) most of his work was recorded/released more than 20 years ago.

Here is the somg for free on Napster - number 40. Sooo beautiful

http://music.napster.com/john-michael-talbot-music/tracks/10469686

I quickly lose interest in intellectually dishonest persons.

That's a little much, isn't it? I mean, I've been reading his blog posts for years and he can sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion or more likely overstate his conclusion, just like everyone else. There's only been one issue in which I suspected Dr. Feser was being dishonest, and the fact there was only one tells you how extraordinary it was considering how partisan I am.

Some clarity, please. And how was Talbot?

That's a little much, isn't it?

I've explained why I've concluded that he has chosen to be intellectually dishonest (on this matter, if no others).

Let us posit that only on this one matter does he chose to be intellectually dishonest. And the single-issue nature of the choice matters, how?


And how was Talbot?

I didn't care for that one.

As music, is was so-so (he has done so much better). But, maybe that’s me. Just because his music can so easily reach into one’s soul and let lift one’s spirit up to God as worshipful offering, doesn’t mean each piece must.

And as a "message song" it came across as too similar (perhaps as a mirror-image) to a certain type of public prayer (*) and a type of "message song" (**) (of which nearly every Christian artist seems compelled to produce at least one) that always makes my nose curl in a sneer.

(*) Of the public prayer, I’d expect to find it among “liberals,” but it’s also ubiquitous amongst “conservatives” – example: “O Lord, forgive us, we’re all so selfish and hateful … blah, blah, blah” (the reason I’d expect such prayers amongst “liberals” is that when *they* use “we” like this, they mean “you”)

(**) Of the "message song," the theme is *always* “Christians are all always so judgmental, especially when they’re at church, … except for me!

I’m not saying the song was exactly like that, but it had enough of the flavor.

Let us posit that only on this one matter does he chose to be intellectually dishonest

Yes, I have always ached, ached to find some rationalization for my deep-seated, irrational desire to tell the truth to any murderer who might come to my door. You caught me!

You guys likely caught my error yesterday which I just discovered. Would You Crucify Him was #39. Strangely, #40, Woman, is even more directed at the Church as a body that needs to examine itself like we do. I do no want to make it seem that this is all Talbot sang about, but if you did not listen to Woman, it too is beautiful.

Woman, look to the mirror
In the autumn of your years
Woman, you try so hard in hidin'
As you're makin' up at the vanity of your fears

You're paintin' your face in the mornin'
And you touch up your grey-streaked hair with a dye of auburn-brown
With a pencil you're linin' your eyes to a smile
But the years of your hardened heart 'still turnin' your mouth to a frown
Take off your mask..., my lady
The Marriage will come..., so prepare for the cleansing in the Lamb

See the diamonds in that crown you've been wearin'
Now do they resemble the thorns in the crown He did bear?
Did He see you..., clothed in scarlet linen
As you turned out the homeless from your door with only a prayer?

Did you remember the Power, how He Loved those who pierced Him
While you were crusadin' by the power of your blood-stained sword?
Were you sleepin' with kings in a bed that denied Him?
Will you let go the gavel to hold the nail-scarred hands He bore

Woman, look to the mirror
What will He desire in you in the autumn of your years?
Your sins have marred you, but He will bring you beauty again
He will hold you if you'll cry a humble tear

Do NOT post copyrighted lyrics in the combox without permission.

The Chicken

Those lyrics, and others by JMT, are available online at allthelyrics.com

MC

I copied both songs from websites that I easily googled up. Is that wrong to do?

I did not know, and apologize, and they should be erased if it is not allowed.

Again, I am sorry.


Michael

That site looks like it was one of the two sources. Is it legal to use?

Michael and JT,

AlltheLyrics is a lyric hosting site for search and individual display (for research purposes), not for posting to other sites, wholesale. Read the terms of service. I doubt they own the copyrights to most of the songs and probably CANNOT give permission for publishing the full text (fair use, excepted). Full reproduction is a violation of the DMCA. I have a doctorate in music performance and ten years of Ph.d-level training in musicology and have dealt with similar issues. Trust me: posting full lyrics of a copyrighted song on a public site without permission is asking for trouble. You may post small quotes under fair use. Too many misinformed people on the Internet violate copyright laws. Try not to be one of them. Sorry to be so harsh. Fines are stiff.

The Chicken

I would be fine if the web master erases these two sets of lyrics. I meant no harm, and am now informed.

I should have said 'google for the lyrics.'

You could supply a link to when you found them.

... where ...

You could supply a link to when you found them.

Even better.

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