The Seven Greatest Threats to the
Catholic Church in Modern
The philosophy of relativity is a direct reaction to the skepticism of the Enlightenment philosophers (such as David Hume). These philosophers questioned all modes of knowledge and debated how it is possible for a person to know anything (especially the role of faith and divine knowledge). Skeptics often attempt to reduce epistemology into one of two camps: empiricism, the belief that knowledge can be attained only through the senses (the way of modern science), and rationalism, the belief that reason is the ultimate starting point for all knowledge.
Skepticisms withering attack on epistemology has lead
the masses to believe that truth is impossible to attain. As a result, a generation of
Americans has appeared who no longer believe that anything can be known for sure. In reaction to skepticism, the general public will
often take one of two solutions. One solution to this dilemma is to abandon all hope in
the existence of truth and embrace agnosticism. The
other more common reaction to skepticism is to adopt a pragmatic empiricist philosophy
that will only accept wisdom from the senses (by way of science) that yield immediate
workable results. Both reactions have become
embedded in mainstream
One effect of adopting pragmatic empiricism as a solution to
skepticism is the wholesale assault on rationalism and its subsequent abandonment. The general public, who has unwittingly bought into
the epistemology of empiricism, is no longer aware that rationalism is an avenue to truth. Nowhere is this more obvious then in the demand,
Prove to me that God exists. Unfortunately,
no general answer can be given to the satisfaction of the modernist because no empirical
evidence exists to prove Gods existence. Gods
existence cannot be seen with a telescope, microscope or any scientific instrument. No one will ever see God as an old venerable man
smiling down from the clouds. For the
modernist, this lack of physical evidence is enough to discredit organized religion. The modernist, confronted by lack of empirical
evidence, will then either accept religious agnosticism or reduce faith to the realm of
emotion. Since Gods existence cannot be
proven, argues the skeptic, that must mean religion can only be validated by faith. And what is faith for the modernist? Faith is a feeling; an encounter with
the spiritually sublime that is an intimate private affair.
Since God can only be known by this quasi-faith, the modernist will reject
the proposition that knowledge of God is an absolute truth.
God becomes a relative truth that cannot be defined and pressed on others to
believe. As a result, worship of God
deteriorates into a vague personal experience.
Organized religions demand that the community worship God
in a public union (such as at mass) begins to look silly and unnecessary to the modernist. Dogma and religious doctrines become laughable.
Evangelization of non-believers looses all of its force and credibility to the modernist. After all, why force your personal faith
on someone else, who has a right to believe what ever they want to believe? It is this overzealous use of pragmatic empiricism
at the expense of rationalism that has strangled the life out of the Catholic Church in
A second effect of pragmatic skepticism is a declining sense
of morals. This occurs because pragmatism answers skepticisms incessant howl
by declaring that knowledge is found by adopting whatever works. On the surface, pragmatism seems like an ideal
solution to skepticism. When challenged to
explain why we believe anything, the pragmatist simply says, I believe this because
it works. No other justification is
necessary. For example, science works so that
must mean it is true. An unfortunate byproduct
of pragmatism and empiricism is that it fails in application to rational questions such
as, how should a man act to be morally good?
Pragmatism will often answer this question by focusing on society at large. Pragmatic empiricists will say that morals are
defined by whatever allows society to continue to exist and function properly. For example, uncontrolled homicide would cause
irreparable damage the social structure; therefore homicide must be immoral. Unfortunately, many of the Judeo-Christian morals
suffer under application of pragmatic morality. Sex
is a good example. What are the effects of
sexual actions on society? Sex causes
pregnancies, spreads disease, and intensifies interpersonal relationships. Sex is also incredibly pleasing for most people. The harm that sex does cause can seemingly be
controlled by birth-control, abortion, and medicine. As
a result, a modernist who adopts the pragmatic-empirical philosophy has little moral
justification for taming the sexual appetite of the individual. Every type of perversion
and moral incongruity can be justified as long as it does not hurt anyone else in the
process. The spread of modernism explains why
morals are decaying rapidly in the west. Homosexuality,
artificial birth-control, and abortion were once unthinkable evils in the Christianized
Western world. These practices are now largely
supported in the
Adherents of modernism have commented that rationalism is the driving force against religious belief. Ultimately, this is untrue because it is the force of empiricist philosophy manifested in nominalism and pragmatism that provides the bulwark of modernist human beliefs. The evidence to support this hypothesis is manifest in the modern deification of science. Science, a materialist access to knowledge, is often touted as the only true way to rationally understand the world. The use of the word rational in this statement is simply a modernist synonym for intelligent. The definition of rational is divorced from its true meaning: the access of knowledge through reason. For a modernist, the only reasonable way to view the world is thorough scientific empiricism; hence he calls his approach reasonable and rational. In truth however, the modernist philosophy is not rational; it is explicitly empirical.
The error of empiricism latent in the modernist heresy is troubling because it attempts to cast religious belief as irrational (an ironic twist of words) and unintelligent. The modernist reaction to relativism manifested in empiricism seeks to discredit religion as a fantasy at best and psychological delusion at its worst. The only cure for the error of modernism is a healthy dose of rationalism. In order to combat this error, a Catholic evangelist must first understand that relativity has its place in matters of opinion; but one must understand that not all propositions are matters of point of view. Rational thought, manifested in philosophical proofs, is a reflection of the truth in the world. The world is what it is; either our various beliefs about it are right or they are wrong. Either light exists or it doesnt. There is no in-between; light doesnt exist for one person and not exist for another simply because one person refuses to believe in it. If a Catholic can press the point on the difficulties of relativism, the evangelist should be able to turn the tide on empiricism as well. For if truth exists, surely our rational thought process plays some role in finding that truth. Rational proofs are a way to truth; provided they are logical and the propositions true. It is imperative for a modern Christians evangelization strategy to be familiar with the merits of unified rational thought and empirical observation. Catholicisms strength has always been its utmost respect of the total human: both body and soul. For the soul is manifest with rationalism and intelligence, and the body with empirical materialism. It is this unity that must drive our search for truth.
The next editorial will focus on the second error of modernism: tolerance of error.
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