Apologetics Archive

One God Less (continued)

Posted July 18, 2024 By John C Wright

Part of an ongoing conversation:

The “One God Less” argument says that Christians, by not worshipping the 4,000 other gods worshipped by pagans of East and West, are atheists toward all gods but one. Atheists merely worship one fewer god out of all the unworshipped gods than Christians.

A wry reply would be to say all men are theists, and that monotheists merely worship one god more than an atheist.

A sharper argument would be to note the false equivalence being assumed. The reasons for worshipping or not worshipping one of more of the these pagan gods is not necessarily the same the reason to worship or not worship the God of Abraham, whose prophets and apologists make a unique claim.

None of those 4,000 gods nor their prophets, priests, nor their visionaries who speak for them, have ever claimed any such god to be the eternal transcendental creator, or made any claim even remotely like that. No other God calls himself I Am Who Am.

There are religions based on Christian and Jewish thought, various spin-off groups or heresies who copied this idea later, but no none aside from the God of Abraham makes such a claim.

The god of Zoroaster comes close, but he is only one of two gods, twin to an evil God of equal dignity to himself.

Brahma did not make the Hindu universe, for the Hindu universe is an eternal wheel always existing.

The Chinese gods did not make the universe. The Japanese gods made the Japanese Islands but not the universe. The Greek gods came from the Titans who came from Earth and Heaven who came from chaos. The Norse gods came from a primordial man who was licked out of a salt lick by a Divine cow. And so on.

Please note the odd parallel between this and arguments about Christ as opposed to Buddha, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Confucius, Abraham, Vyasa, Homer. Buddha did not claim to be Brahma, nor Mohammed to be Allah, nor Confucius to be the Jade Emperor of Heaven, nor Abraham to be Jehovah, nor Vyasa to be Indra, nor Homer to be Apollo. Jesus Christ, by claiming to be divine, makes an outrageously different claim, different in kind and not in degree, from any prophet or sage or poet speaking of the gods or on behalf of the gods.

Likewise again, the Roman Catholic Church makes a claim that is rare, if not unique, among all denominations: that she is one, true, universal, and apostolic. Lutheranism, Calvinism, Wesleyans, and other Protestant denominations, or Christian Science, or Mormonism, can name their founder and list the date of their founding, usually in the Sixteenth or Eighteenth Century.

(However, note the Eastern Orthodox Churches can make a similar claim to the Roman Church, and have an apostolic succession as ancient; but also note this is more a schism than a heresy. Agreement on major points of doctrine is overwhelming; disagreement is only over form of government. In this one sense, it is the same Church.)

This does not detract from the main point, which is, when dealing with the claims of the Christian religion among pagan polytheisms or Eastern mysticism, we are dealing with a unique claim; likewise when comparing Jesus of Nazareth with prophets and sages; likewise when comparing the Roman and Byzantine Church to the various denominations breaking away from them.

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Types and Stereotypes

Posted July 13, 2024 By John C Wright

Men from earliest times like to pigeonhole other men.

The Gnostics of ancient times divided men into three kinds: those ruled entirely by desires of the flesh (hylics); those ruled by the mind (psychics) who are confused but questioning; and finally those ruled by the spirit (pneumatics) who have achieved enlightenment. The carnal men were born damned with no hope of salvation; the mental men were Catholics and mainstream Christian, who have hope of being enlightened if they foreswear ancient teachings and convert to Gnosticism; and the Gnostics were enlightened and elect, and could not lose salvation, which was certain and sure.

The Calvinists, if I understand that odd heresy, were akin to Gnostics, but having only two types: the reprobate, born to inevitable damnation, and the elect, born to inevitable salvation.

Me, I have never liked categorizing men into such easy categories. Such activities always seems presumptuous. How odd to think one knows one’s brother better than he knows himself. The idea that we know where personality traits come from is an idea that any father who has raised children should regard with suspicion.

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Secular Reasons for Spiritual Success

Posted July 8, 2024 By John C Wright

The core secular reason for the success of Christianity can only be that Christianity portrays and accurate model, and accurate account, an accurate representation, of human life and its place in the universe.

The Gnostic model, like the Marxist model, portrays all life as a darwinian struggle between the enlightened and the benighted. There is nothing but a struggle for power. There’s no love between husband and wife, no mutual self-interest between employer and employee, no possibility of Amity between the races. There’s no justice between high and low, rich and poor. That’s not accurate.

Gnosticism says truth as a private matter, esoteric, not open to public debate or verification. That’s not accurate.

Marxism portrays man as collective. That’s not accurate.

Christianity says the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In other words the humble view is the wise and honest view. That is accurate. Read any history book.

Christianity says self-sacrificing love is more satisfying than selfishness. That is accurate. Read any primer on psychology.

Christianity says that what the world calls torture, death, defeat is glory and triumph. That is accurate. Read any dialogue of philosophy. And so on and so on.

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Wright on Christianity (Gosney Interview)

Posted June 2, 2024 By John C Wright

An interview with Steven N. Gosney of Crimelaw, a friend and a fan, on the deep topics of faith and fealty.

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They Do Not Destroy Their Offspring

Posted May 28, 2024 By John C Wright

For my beloved readers, I happened across this writing from an Early Church Father, called The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus.

I literally never heard of it before. I am familiar at least with the names of most early writings, and have read many, but somehow this one escaped my notice until now. My loss!

Scholars date it to the earliest strata of extrabiblical Christian writing, perhaps the first written work of apologetic ever.

Tradition says it was written from a disciple of an apostle (“Mathetes” means “disciple”) to a Stoic philosopher curious about Christian beliefs and ways. From the style and subject, some speculate this disciple was Justin Martyr. The recipient may or may not be the same Diognetus who was tutor to the philosophical Emperor Marcus Aurelius. But nothing is known for sure.

The questions answered, apparently posed by Diognetus in a letter we do not have, include inquiry into why it is Christians despise death,  reject Greek idolatry and Jewish ritual alike, and why they love each other. He also asks why Christian practices are only seen now, and not known from antiquity?

This is quite a reasonable question. If the single and all powerful creator of the world always had in mind that the Christian way of life on earth was how best to serve heaven, should it not have been known for all time?

This last question, that Diognetus asks about the novelty of Christian practice, argues that the earlier dating of the document is a more likely guess.

But in particular two chapters in the middle struck me profoundly, and reminded me of the standards of life to which we Christians are avowed. I repeat it here for our general edification.

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Note on Christian Shock

Posted May 20, 2024 By John C Wright

To read the writings of pagans and heretics is instructive if only for the reason that it highlights the remarkable nature of the Christian worldview.

We hold that the cosmos, human life, and all meaning in life comes from love, for God is love; takes its being from love, for God is “I AM”, that is, the necessary being and source of being; and is aimed toward love, for God is the summit and final cause of all things.

Evil hence is temporary, enduring for a short span while it is cured, punished, and corrected, and moreover is merely the beginning infinitesimal fragment of our existence, which is eternal.

Evil itself is a perversion or a disease of love, love misdirected or out of proportion. It is not a thing itself. It has no substance, and ultimately, no power. Nothing is nothing.

Considering the pain and woe of life, the tragedy of being born, and the inevitability of death, this is a shocking sentiment.

We should be more amazed at God.

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John C. Wright on Crimelaw on Christianity

Posted May 5, 2024 By John C Wright

An Interview with CRIMELAW starring Steve Gosney, who is a friend as well as a fan. We discuss the Credo and some objections to Catholicism.

What do Catholics Actually Believe? 


https://rumble.com/v4s0e9h-john-c.-wright-on-christianity-tuesday-8-pm-est-livestream.html

 

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05 Epistles to Ansgar: On Faith

Posted April 21, 2024 By John C Wright

21 April AD 2024, Good Shepherd Sunday

Dear Godson,

Over these several letters, I mean to discuss the source, the substance, and the spirit of our faith, which is to say, why we believe, what we believe, and how we are to live our belief in practice.

Because myriad confusions surround the matter, let us say what faith is, and what it is not.

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Pascal and Marcus Aurelius

Posted February 24, 2024 By John C Wright

Two great figures of times past, Pascale and Marcus Aurelius, pagan and Christian, address the wager of the unknowable in nearly equal terms.

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Faith and Works in a Science Fictional Universe

Posted February 6, 2024 By John C Wright

From  2014, but perhaps of current interest:

I have been asked to write a brief essay about how my faith informs my work, and what is the general relation of Catholicism to Science Fiction.

Unfortunately, I cannot.

This is not because I have no opinions on the topic, but rather because they cannot be told briefly.

I must give something of my background story to explain how I came by my answers, in order to give the answers fully. I beg the indulgence of the patient reader:

Few men have ever hated as much as Christ as I have, before turning to love him. Before I was a Catholic, I was an atheist, and not an atheist who kept his opinions to himself, but, rather, a vituperative, proselytizing, aggressive, evangelist of atheism, who sought at every opportunity to spread the Bad News that God Was Dead and Christians were Fools.

But there was one area sacrosanct from my proselytizing effort. I did not use my science fiction stories to preach nor promote my worldview.

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Epistle to Ansgar, Letter 04: God the Holy Ghost

Posted January 30, 2024 By John C Wright

28 January AD 2024, Feast of St Thomas Aquinas

Dear Godson,

This day is the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the schoolman who, for once and all, reconciled faith and philosophy, church and science.

Any man who says there is conflict speaks in ignorance, or in malice, either being too literal in his interpretation of scripture, or too hasty in calling the ever-changing guesswork of science factual. It is to be noted that true Churchmen and true scientists themselves see no such conflict, nor appearance of conflict.

The same Holy Ghost who inspired Moses and the prophets, and inspired the saints and apostles, was He who moved softly across the face of the deep when creation was formless and void, brooding as a dove over her chicks. The Creator will not take amiss any disciplined and honest investigation of the artwork and architecture involved in the making of stars and atoms, sea and sky, microbe and mastodon, the geometry of the leaf, the lifecycle of galaxies, the engineering of the inner amoeba.

Thomas Aquinas would approve of any intellectual approach to these great things that kept its aim and nature in mind: science is meant to topple the idols of false beliefs about nature, not to erect them.

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Collectivism and Objectivism

Posted January 27, 2024 By John C Wright

I am a fan and admirer of Ayn Rand, as much an admirer as one can be who thinks the object of his admiration is wrong and evil. I feel the same way about Thomas Hobbes, proponent of absolute government. He is wrong and evil, but he uses admirably precise logic to reach his wrong and evil conclusions.

Ayn Rand was an atheist, and rejected God with disgust. She was, however, a passionate adversary of all offshoots of Marxism and irrationalism. Hence, she was able to diagnose the disease of secular collectivism perfectly, but not see the related disease secular individualism infecting her.

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The Fruit without the Root

Posted January 25, 2024 By John C Wright

Tradition, of itself, is inadequate to justify itself. A tradition can only be justified, or, if unsound, criticized, from its own roots.

Of late, more and more of our agnostic or atheist conservative brethren, seeing the confused if not diabolical current state of the world, and foreseeing it fate if current trends continue, confess that the secular philosophy of the classical liberalism of the Age of Reason seems woefully inadequate to mount as robust defense against the Seven-Headed Beast nihilist philosophers, dogmatic subjectivists, cultural vandals, puritanical sex-deviants, socialist plutocrats, totalitarian anarchists, and pro-jihad atheists, variously referred to as Progressives, Postmoderns, Pervertarians, Wokesters, Critical Race-Hustlers, Cultural Marxists, and Morlocks.

Public men of letters including such figures as psychiatrist Jordan Peterson, mathematician James Lindsay, and ancient Akkadian emperor Carl Benjamin, with a degree of reluctance more or less, have admitted with a degree of candor more or less that only the Christian tradition embedded into our laws and customs stand a chance of fighting the foe.

These men admit that Christian tradition alone is robust enough to fight the Antichrist. But they are secular men, and godless. They see the fruit but doubt the root.  Such is their conundrum.

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Epistles to Ansgar Letter 03: God the Son

Posted January 18, 2024 By John C Wright

This letter is two or three weeks late, but Ansgar is a babe in arms as yet, and may not notice the delay. 

25 December AD 2023, Feast of the Nativity

Dear Godson,

This day is Christmas. So holy is this day that all witches curses fail, nor may stars and planets in adverse conjunctions shed malign influences. For this is the day, foretold since Eden, when Our Lord, the Messiah and Savior of the world is born.

Because the tradition to exchange gifts on this day has had so profound an effect on the surrounding culture, among Christians and nonbelievers alike, it is easy to forget the meaning of this central miracle, a miracle beating at the heart of human history, that this great day commemorates.

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Spies and Scientists in the Unseen World

Posted January 7, 2024 By John C Wright

I received a charming but disturbing compliment to one of my columns on Wokeness being a materialist restatement of Gnosticism. She writes:

I absolutely LOVED your article. Me, swimming somewhere between theosophist mystic and evangelical Christian and alchemical magician and ascetic world hating environmental evolutionist, I have to say, you brought this to absolute clarity! But I am not a gnostic! I know the whole schematic and I detest it. But it drives a molehole throughout our entire existence yes.

I believe in a God that is Good although he may be unreachable and a Savior that gives us a chance to redeem ourselves by following in HER footsteps. I believe in that bridge back to Paradise and it starts with me.

My comment: I am as pleased with flattery as any man of below-average dignity, so I am glad she liked my column. I rejoice to hear that she detests Gnosticism, which I regard as a satanic parody of all that is good.

However, the waggish and casual blasphemy with which she ends her note prompts me to issue a warning, which I think may be of use to my beloved readers,  or to any who have ears to hear.

The unseen world is unseen.

That does not mean we have license to invent any fables as tickle our fancy about it. The unseen may be listening.

What little we know of it comes from visions and dreams and intuitions we have gathered on our own, or from revelations, accompanied by signs and wonders, from sources in the unseen world, or spokesmen allegedly representing those sources. It is a twilight world, one glimpsed in a darkling looking-glass.

What, then, are we to make of the unseen?

In particular, what are we to make of visions or visionaries that are rare, unusual, or even contrary to what generations have held true about the unseen world?

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