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Old 02-11-2010, 12:49 PM
 
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So we have:

Hormonal Birth Control = not natural

Barrier Methods= not natural

Surgical Methods = not natural

Natural Family Planning = Natural (there are many non-Catholics that believe this as well)

Any further discussion on what is or is not natural would probably be better served in the "Family Planning" forum.


Any further discussion on the difference between Catholics and Protestants...
well, I believe we have another thread started on that already.

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Old 02-11-2010, 01:08 PM
 
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And condoms are not an acceptable part of NFP (either religious or secular).
I certainly understand that barrier methods are not an acceptable part of NFP from a religious perspective, since they are not permitted by RC rulings on the subject, and possibly not by certain other denominations. However, you cannot pronounce them unacceptable to secular NFP. Acceptable to who?

Quote:
So we have:

Hormonal Birth Control = not natural

Barrier Methods= not natural

Surgical Methods = not natural

Natural Family Planning = Natural
Sorry, I have to object yet again. The whole problem here is that a discussion of RC teachings on birth control keeps sliding into general pronouncements outside the bounds of church teaching. Which methods are permitted to RCC members is a church teaching. Which methods are/are not natural is a separate question, and not really a religious question.
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Old 02-11-2010, 01:15 PM
 
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Like I said I think these questions are better suited in "Family Planning".

The use of condoms is deemed unacceptable to even secular Natural Family Planning.

The form of birth control where it is acceptable to use condoms is called Fertility Awareness Method.


I'll provide the appropriate thread in "Family Planning". http://www.mothering.com/discussions...nfp+difference

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Old 02-11-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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So, Smokering, you basically cannot see the logical difference between periods of abstinence and the use of ABC? I understand your issues, my husband has the same ones, stating that avoiding pregnancy is avoiding pregnancy no matter how one chooses to avoid. And I agree to a certain extent though I think it is very important to point out that the Catholic Church does not teach that it is OK to avoid pregnancy indefinitely or at all unless there is a seriously grave reason for doing so - obviously this is where a lot of people get tripped up because it is easy to justify almost any situation as grave if you just don't want any more children at the time you are avoiding. From my own reading there is are wide differences between what some "teachers" within Catholicism promote about avoiding pregnancy with NFP - some state financial reasons are enough, others say that protecting a breastfeeding relationship is enough, some promote only serious situations in which the mother's life would be in jeopardy or if the woman is in a very abusive marriage that needs to be repaired prior to safely having a child brought into it.

With all this said, the 4% of Catholics who are using NFP per the Church's direction, some of them are probably avoiding for reasons that may not be grave at all, but I think a lot of priests turn a blind eye because at least they are using NFP, does that make sense? So, more pertinent to the discussion is not whether NFP is morally superior to ABC but are the intentions of its use really moral or not? And that is a much harder thing to define and really can vary from couple to couple based on their specific circumstances.

From where I sit, I think there is a far and away huge difference between couples choosing to abstain to avoid pregnancy and those who choose to have sex whenever they want and use ABC to avoid pregnancy. Obviously if you cannot see the difference no argument is going to effectively change your mind. If my DD at 16 came to me and told me she was interested in sex with her boyfriend you can be sure that her father would then see a vast difference in abstinence and ABC!

I agree that promoting the benefits of NFP does not really answer the question you have, which is why NFP as birth control is acceptable and other barrier methods are not? And to give a poor analogy I would say to compare it to throwing a party - if you want to have a party and don't have enough money to buy the food and supplies you need to serve your guests then you just shouldn't have a party, not put the party supplies on a credit card and go for it anyway.

So to sum up, my understanding is that if a Catholic couple is using NFP exactly like ABC without a genuinely grave reason to avoid conception then they are morally in the wrong according to Catholic teaching. (CCC 1749-1761 discusses human morality - http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a4.htm)

(Just want to reply to the post up thread about vasectomies. If a Catholic man or woman choose to become medically sterilized with full knowledge that the Church's position is that it is morally wrong to do so, then they will be in a state of mortal sin until they make a genuinely remorseful confession to a priest. The point here is that they are truly sorry for their act and repent, it isn't like you can do whatever you want and then go see a priest and get a "get out of jail free card", you have to be heartily sorry with the intent to not repeat the same error in the future. You do not have to have the procedure reversed once a valid confession has been made but I do know of some Catholic couples who have had reversals because they felt morally obligated to do so.)

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Old 02-11-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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JPII's Responsible Parenthood is applicable to this discussion:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP840801.htm

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Old 02-11-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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And one more CCC link pertaining to human sexuality, look specifically at 2368, 2369, 2370 and 2399.

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm

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Old 02-11-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Charbeau View Post
So, Smokering, you basically cannot see the logical difference between periods of abstinence and the use of ABC? [...]
From where I sit, I think there is a far and away huge difference between couples choosing to abstain to avoid pregnancy and those who choose to have sex whenever they want and use ABC to avoid pregnancy. [ ... ] If my DD at 16 came to me and told me she was interested in sex with her boyfriend you can be sure that her father would then see a vast difference in abstinence and ABC!
If I understand Smokering's argument, part of the problem is using "abstinence" and "NFP" interchangably. They are not identical. To use your example, if your sixteen year old daughter were having sex with her boyfriend but using NFP, would you say, "Oh, that's fine, she is practicing abstinence"?
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Old 02-11-2010, 04:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
If I understand Smokering's argument, part of the problem is using "abstinence" and "NFP" interchangably. They are not identical. To use your example, if your sixteen year old daughter were having sex with her boyfriend but using NFP, would you say, "Oh, that's fine, she is practicing abstinence"?
No, of course not! But abstaining from sex during fertile periods is different than having sex using ABC during fertile periods, which was the point I was trying to make.

I know it isn't convenient and will take a bit of time but all three links I posted above regarding human morality and human sexuality from the CCC really spell out the Catholic position exactly, better than I can do myself.

Here are pertinent bits in quotes:

Quote:
1749 Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil.

I. THE SOURCES OF MORALITY

1750 The morality of human acts depends on:

- the object chosen;

- the end in view or the intention;

- the circumstances of the action.

The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the "sources," or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts.
and

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The fecundity of marriage

2366 Fecundity is a gift, an end of marriage, for conjugal love naturally tends to be fruitful. A child does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment. So the Church, which is "on the side of life,"151 teaches that "it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life."152 "This particular doctrine, expounded on numerous occasions by the Magisterium, is based on the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act."153

[...]

2368 A particular aspect of this responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. [B]For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality:

When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts, criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.156
2369 "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood."157

2370 Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.158 These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:159

[...]
There is obviously more in the links but I tried to pick out the most applicable text. I can't remember how much we are allowed to quote sources in threads, so I am trying to not overdo it.

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Old 02-11-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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Well obviously someone is looking for an "out" here.

And condoms are not an acceptable part of NFP (either religious or secular).

It is so black and white. They are a BARRIER method for a reason.

No one is forced into being Catholic. You have a free will.

One thing that really perturbs me is when people have this strange desire to be Catholic, but your intent is to find a loop-hole in the things you do not agree with to justify yourself.

These issues are clearly stated in Humane Vitea. Get a copy.

The Title of this thread is CATHOLIC CHURCH AND BIRTH CONTROL.
The things stated in Humane Vitea are part of our CORE BELIEFS.
I'm not entirely sure what you're referring to here. There are no Catholics left in this discussion who are trying to find loopholes. Smokering is a Calvinist. Mamabadger is Orthodox. I'm a non-contracepting, non-NFP using, practicing, traditional Catholic who happens to really enjoy a philosophical discussion on the objective merits of NFP vs. ABC for non-Catholics. It is not entirely related to the original topic, but that is permitted in RS. For me, this discussion has given me a new perspective and new insights into another topic - what I would consider the perversion of Catholic teaching into the NFP-lifestyle, which I think is equally wrong.

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Old 02-11-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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Your right that I didn't realize how off track this topic got. And didn't realize that Smokering was a Calvinist as I wrote that. And in no way was referring to you xekomaya

I totally agree with you. I think that there is a perversion of Catholic teaching.
I'm not going to hold myself responsible for judging other Catholics on whether or not they have a valid reason for using NFP. That's a very intimate place to put myself I would think.
I've also enjoyed the discussion on NFP vs. ABC. And think I've said my peace from both a religious view and a natural view.

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Old 02-11-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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I'm not going to hold myself responsible for judging other Catholics on whether or not they have a valid reason for using NFP. That's a very intimate place to put myself I would think.
Just to be clear, I am NOT personally judging anyone for whatever choices they make in regards to NFP/ABC. I was simply trying to point out the actual Catholic teaching per the CCC and to make it clear that per Catholic teaching if a couple is choosing to employ NFP without considering the moral component and are using it for pure contraceptive purposes indefinitely then it may really not be much different than using ABC as was pointed out earlier in the thread by either Smoke or MamaBadger.

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Old 02-11-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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Just to be clear, I am NOT personally judging anyone for whatever choices they make in regards to NFP/ABC. I was simply trying to point out the actual Catholic teaching per the CCC and to make it clear that per Catholic teaching if a couple is choosing to employ NFP without considering the moral component and are using it for pure contraceptive purposes indefinitely then it may really not be much different than using ABC as was pointed out earlier in the thread by either Smoke or MamaBadger.
Very much agreed Very good points!

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Old 02-11-2010, 06:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

1. Firstly, this idea that sex is both unitive and procreative seems far from obvious to me. Clearly it is sometimes unitive and sometimes procreative, and sometimes the two coincide. But it is very clearly not always unitive and procreative in nature, by the very design of God. He gave sperm a short life expectancy; He gave women a cycle with only a few (observable!) fertile days out of the month. He instituted the design by which women can't get pregnant again once pregnant (well, fraternal twins from double ovulation aside!), and the design by which women remain sexually capable long after they are able to conceive. In short, if God had intended to make unity and procreation - even the possibility of procreation - synonymous, He failed spectacularly.
I only have a minute after reading all this thread I've missed - but this is a misunderstanding of why and how the CC understands sex to be unitive and procreative. I suspect you will have to look into the source documents to get at the heart of this - someone like Christopher west just won't cut it.

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Old 02-11-2010, 07:00 PM
 
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Wow! Such a long thread and I haven't read through all the posts.

I am a Traditional Catholic mother of nine children and I home-school them all. I am tired, overwhelmed, stressed out and on anti-depressants. Everyday I struggle with a plate load of life that exceeds most normal people's capacity of dealing with stuff.

Many, many times I have come close to deciding to birth control. I wasn't raised Catholic so my decisions not to are doubly hard when I am confronted by my protestant family. I am ridiculed and teased and it hurts. I hate what people think, because in truth, it really does matters to me what people think.

I want to use birth control, I am so tempted sometimes it's just insane. But I converted to the Catholic Faith and when I converted I chose to believe everything it teaches....EVERYTHING. I cannot pick and choose what I want to believe.....it is all or nothing. When I became a Catholic my birth control pills went in the trash. God has a plan more important than my own.

When I look at my children each and every one of them is so happy to be on this earth. Every time I have a brand new baby to hold I look into it's eyes and see a soul created by God. An individual human being that will grow and everyday has something new to contribute to a world that says "There are too many children."

There is one thing I know and that the only person I can depend on is God. I can't depend on myself because I am not strong enough. I am weak and tired and I know that only God knows what is in store for me. Children are a gift. Each one has an infinite capacity to love and to be loved. God sends us children to remind us of innocence. I know that the only way to heaven is to be like a little child. To love and to be loved.

 

 

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Old 02-11-2010, 07:19 PM
 
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You probably should read it, but you won't like it It does make a lot of the arguments people are making here. It is a directive for Catholics - not a logical argument so while it will give you the official attitude, it won't be what you're looking for.
OK, so... where is the logical argument I'm looking for? Catholic doctrines are meant (in some cases, this being one of them - no?) to be infallible, which means they must be true, which means they must be logical. So why have all the arguments presented in this thread either proven illogical (in the formal sense) or simply reverted back to "This is what we believe"? Surely there are Catholics who like to follow the formal logic of an argument - where do they go to get answers, if even Humanae Vitae is a "how-to" rather than a defense of the position? Surely the Catholic theology of the body is unpopular enough, and has been attacked enough, to make a logical layout of its position worthwhile - one that doesn't rest on contentious assumptions that beg the question (ie. natural is better) or irrelevancies (ie. marriage is about holiness and humility). Isn't it one of the great points of CC pride that the Magesterium can infallibly teach the truth, thus arming the lay Catholic with a greater degree of epistemic certainty than the lay Protestant? I don't buy this:

Quote:
The official acceptance of NFP is so recent by Catholic standards there haven't been any great apologists that have sunk their teeth into it yet.
It's been accepted for, what? A few decades at least. That's long enough to write a book. And screeds of literature have been written about it: but those works have reiterated Church teachings, not defended them.

Quote:
It really hinges on our interpretation of Natural Law that sex and procreation are such a divine gift that we have no right to alter the act itself. Another main point is preserving the integrity of the unitive & procreative as they are in the woman's body -- not making an act that could be procreative, not.
I've already addressed this upthread - it relies on creating an artificial distinction between discrete sexual acts and sexual practice in general. Why is it OK to alter sex-in-general but not this-sex-act-in-particular?

Quote:
but if those benefits aren't good enough reason for someone to do it, I'm not sure if a more objective argument can be fashioned, or even needs to be.
Well, I think it needs to be. Are you saying a logical argument for approving NFP while condemning ABC cannot be made: that it is a non-rationally-based doctrine? That's a heck of an admission in light of this thread, and I'm not sure the other Catholics debating here would agree with you. (And FTR, I have no problem with people deciding their own conscience will not allow them to use ABC. If something feels like a sin, then in a sense it is; and if someone feels she is sinning she should stop, at least until she can inform her conscience to find out whether she is really sinning or simply succumbing to societal pressure/incorrect theology/whatever. I'm sure the motives of many Catholic NFPers are impeccable, and that their holiness might indeed be endangered by using ABC. But that's not really relevant to what I'm discussing.)
Quote:
It has been shown in studies that although women on the pill have normal looking temperature patterns, they don't relate to ovulation occurring, if it does occur, so this wouldn't work.
Thanks for the info - that's good to know.

Quote:
Again, I disagree. Catholics say using abortifacients is wrong. Period. Yes, I believe that it is possible that one day all couples will understand and love what we are saying and perhaps come to join us in our spiritual work. Do I think they are living a sinful life? No. Would I share what I believe if they asked me? Absolutely.
You do not think they are living a sinful life when they do something the Church declares is sinful? Then your opinion is a private judgment, not an accurate reflection of the Church's teachings. I am discussing the logical consequences of the Catholic teachings here, not the attitude or niceness of individual Catholics. If using ABC is a sin, and sinners are people who sin, then those who use it are sinners. QED. Whether or not you would tell people that is irrelevant. I'm not claiming that you or Catholics in general are pushy or rude about your beliefs; I'm saying that those beliefs inherently condemn non-Catholic contracepters, and, that being the case, that non-Catholic contracepters are entitled to go "Oi, how are we sinning? Give me the logical arguments".

Quote:
Why? Would you have LIquese defend her position on not eating pork and then pick it apart in a 10-page thread?
Probably not. It doesn't really interest me as a topic. But she's a savvy wench: I'm sure she knows posting a belief in RS leaves it open to being debated. Also, she's not making statements like "Well, couples who eat pork aren't behaving in a truly loving manner to each other", "I truly believe eating pork degrades women" or "If people can't handle the tapeworm, they should abstain from pork in order to avoid separate the nutritive and parasitic aspets of pork-eating". I'd be inclined to respond if she did. If you find my style of argumentation aggressive or disturbing, you have no obligation to continue to engage me.

Quote:
I cannot defend my position.
Then, with respect, why are you continuing to engage me when I have made it clear that what I'm looking for is a defense of your position, and when you find this offensive?

Quote:
well, I'm sorry you find it offensive. I guess that's why you're not Catholic.
Er, no. There are many other ad more basic reasons: but I won't get into those on this thread. I will say that the thinking on ABC is symptomatic of some larger issues I have against the Church.

Quote:
If you are looking for scriptural texts, I think you know that is disengenous. You are very educated in Catholicism, and you know quite well sola scriptura is not our way. And so the theologically irrelevant arguments don't cut it, nor do the Catholic arguments.
I'm not very well educated in Catholicism, but I do know that even the most developed Catholic theologies are said to be present in "seed form" in the Scripture, and that the Church claims its core doctrines to be infallible, which implies truth, which implies logic. So it should be possible to trace the arguments logically from a Biblical point. I'd accept an argument based on a philosophical point too, potentially.

Quote:
ETA: I would disagree that NFP is promoted in any way in the CC. Often misunderstood,yes. Promoted, no.
Er.. really? It is endorsed by the Pope, no? Thousands of books and leaflets and blog posts have been written by lay and clargy Catholics praising it to the skies, no?

Quote:
Again, I disagree. NFP requires a lot more work and togetherness on the part of the couple than does condoms and other ABC methods.
Another red herring. What does "work and togetherness on the part of the couple" have to do with openness to life? Is the real crime of condoms that they're easy?
Quote:
It is so black and white. They are a BARRIER method for a reason.
Um... because they prevent sperm from entering the vagina? I'm sorry, I don't qite get the moral implications of the word "barrier", even when capitalised. It's a descriptive term.
Quote:
No one is forced into being Catholic. You have a free will.
Not a terribly compelling thing to say to a Calvinist, you know...

Quote:
One thing that really perturbs me is when people have this strange desire to be Catholic, but your intent is to find a loop-hole in the things you do not agree with to justify yourself.
I have no desire to be Catholic.
Quote:
The Title of this thread is CATHOLIC CHURCH AND BIRTH CONTROL.
The things stated in Humane Vitea are part of our CORE BELIEFS.
Then they should be able to be defended using rational argumentation. Which is what I'm seeking on this thread.

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Old 02-11-2010, 07:47 PM
 
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Like I said Smokering~ You obviously have deep rooted issues with our Faith. Myself and the others linking very specific reasons behind our beliefs fall on deaf ears in this conversation at this point. Really your issues with the Catholic Church are better suited in a new thread. Try: "Differences between Calvinist's and Catholics". We believe what we believe and have very clearly stated reasons. You believe what you believe. As everyone else has stated. Read Humane Vitae. If your really as interested as you sound, as your spending a lot of time on the thread "exploring ideas" then you would take the time to pick up a copy or an easier read http://www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.co...aw&edp_no=3789 Peace out

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Old 02-11-2010, 07:51 PM
 
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I'm reading it right now. And it is not true that your stated reasons for belief fall on deaf ears - I have not only heard them but provided counterarguments to refute them.

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Old 02-11-2010, 07:57 PM
 
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You do not think they are living a sinful life when they do something the Church declares is sinful? Then your opinion is a private judgment, not an accurate reflection of the Church's teachings. I am discussing the logical consequences of the Catholic teachings here, not the attitude or niceness of individual Catholics. If using ABC is a sin, and sinners are people who sin, then those who use it are sinners. QED. Whether or not you would tell people that is irrelevant. I'm not claiming that you or Catholics in general are pushy or rude about your beliefs; I'm saying that those beliefs inherently condemn non-Catholic contracepters, and, that being the case, that non-Catholic contracepters are entitled to go "Oi, how are we sinning? Give me the logical arguments".


.
My opinion is NOT a private judgment and IS an accurate reflection of the Church's teachings. We are not called to judge others, we are called to live our lives according to God's will. If that, then this does not work here. Prove to me that our beliefs inherently condemn non-Catholic users of ABC.You might take it personally, but it has nothing to do with you.

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Old 02-11-2010, 08:04 PM
 
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Probably not. It doesn't really interest me as a topic. But she's a savvy wench: I'm sure she knows posting a belief in RS leaves it open to being debated. Also, she's not making statements like "Well, couples who eat pork aren't behaving in a truly loving manner to each other", "I truly believe eating pork degrades women" or "If people can't handle the tapeworm, they should abstain from pork in order to avoid separate the nutritive and parasitic aspets of pork-eating". I'd be inclined to respond if she did. If you find my style of argumentation aggressive or disturbing, you have no obligation to continue to engage me.


Then, with respect, why are you continuing to engage me when I have made it clear that what I'm looking for is a defense of your position, and when you find this offensive?



Then they should be able to be defended using rational argumentation. Which is what I'm seeking on this thread.
Point One: I don't find your style aggressive or disturbing, I find it profoundly lacking in an understanding of spirituality. It may be more fruitful for you to study why people are faithful to something we can't fully undertand or explain, not continuously engage in round-about "discussions" so that you can prove that there is a wrong or right position.

Point two: You may look all you want for a defense of the Catholic position, it doesn't mean I have to provide it for you. You clearly have no intent on listening , you simply want to argue and pick apart what people have to say. I don't find your methods offensive, I find them childish.

Point three: Why should they be defended using your definition of rational argumentation? Your method may not be appropriate to the topic at hand. In fact, it could be detrimental to your ability to hear what is being said. Sometimes it is better to listen than to just read words and fire off an immediate response.

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Old 02-11-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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We are not called to judge others, we are called to live our lives according to God's will.
That's a bait-and-switch. Read my post again. I didn't say the Catholic teachings automatically lead to placards and hate marches; I said they condemned contracepters by logical implication. You have yet to address that argument, which I'll repeat here:
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If using ABC is a sin, and sinners are people who sin, then those who use it are sinners. QED.
Which premise do you take issue with? Does the Catholic Church not teach that using ABC is sinful? Does it not teach that those who sin are sinners? You seem to be claiming ("if/then doesn't work here") that Catholic doctrines are not subject to the laws of logic - is that really a road you want to go down?
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Point One: I don't find your style aggressive or disturbing, I find it profoundly lacking in an understanding of spirituality. It may be more fruitful for you to study why people are faithful to something we can't fully undertand or explain, not continuously engage in round-about "discussions" so that you can prove that there is a wrong or right position.
I don't think requiring beliefs to be logical shows a lack of understanding of spirituality. The reasons presented so far in this thread for approving NFP while condemning ABC are demonstrably illogical. The fact that a belief is religious does not give it a get-out-of-jail-free card for rationality; and my issue with the Catholic position is not that it cannot be fully understood or explained, but that all the explanations provided so far are illogical.

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Point two: You may look all you want for a defense of the Catholic position, it doesn't mean I have to provide it for you.
You don't have to, but that is what I'm asking for on this thread, and I don't particularly want to continue engaging with you if you won't provide it. I have limited time and energy.
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Point three: Why should they be defended using your definition of rational argumentation? Your method may not be appropriate to the topic at hand. In fact, it could be detrimental to your ability to hear what is being said. Sometimes it is better to listen than to just read words and fire off an immediate response.
"My" definition of rational argumentation? I didn't invent the laws of formal logic. And the Catholic Church implicitly, and probably explicitly, accepts them. If you want to claim that logic is irrelevant to Catholic doctrine, feel free to make that argument (using logic of course, because logic is necessary for communication... which you might find is a problem for your position); but so far the argument has not been made. And it would have to be EXTREMELY compelling, given the enormous implications of tossing logic out the window.

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Old 02-11-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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I always find these conversations fascinating...the vast majority of Catholics I know and grew up with use birth control. They fully consider themselves Catholic and many are very active in the church etc...however, they feel the can only handle and provide for a certain number of children and have no problems using modern methods to achieve this.

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Old 02-11-2010, 08:29 PM
 
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OK, so... where is the logical argument I'm looking for? Catholic doctrines are meant (in some cases, this being one of them - no?) to be infallible, which means they must be true, which means they must be logical. So why have all the arguments presented in this thread either proven illogical (in the formal sense) or simply reverted back to "This is what we believe"? Surely there are Catholics who like to follow the formal logic of an argument - where do they go to get answers, if even Humanae Vitae is a "how-to" rather than a defense of the position? Surely the Catholic theology of the body is unpopular enough, and has been attacked enough, to make a logical layout of its position worthwhile - one that doesn't rest on contentious assumptions that beg the question (ie. natural is better) or irrelevancies (ie. marriage is about holiness and humility). Isn't it one of the great points of CC pride that the Magesterium can infallibly teach the truth, thus arming the lay Catholic with a greater degree of epistemic certainty than the lay Protestant? I don't buy this:
I don't know if the argument you're looking for exists. I assume, since you're a Calvinist, you also accept a lot of the Age of Reason stuff- that logic is universal and can be taught to anyone. It has been such a long time since I've studied philosophy. When someone is not going to accept your foundational position, whether honestly or dishonestly, it is not always possible to get to the same place. The big issues can usually be reasoned out in multiple ways, but the finer the point the harder it is. At some point you have to say "Unless you find a way to accept X premise, it is what it is"

Catholics do believe that our beliefs are at least present as a "seed' in scripture, as you say, but we don't take passages and try and twist, turn, or divine answers to modern situations out of them. The direct answer to stem cell research, life support, or ABC will never be found in full form in the bible. So what we do, is take our fully and biblically informed conscience - which we believe are a gift from God for this very purpose - and make the best decisions we can with the best education we have.

Is it right to contracept? Maybe, maybe not. At the very least, we don't believe the sex ACT should be altered. We do believe it 'can' be right to alter the pattern of sex - fully abstaining for various reasons has generally been accepted, and having sex more than normal to TTC is accepted too. Then the Catholic Church says - "Well in a situation that would otherwise call for abstinence, since we now understand the body's naturally infertile periods, can periodic abstinence be used in place of total abstinence?" And the Church sees benefits to allowing married couples to continue to have relations in serious situations.. and since it has been deemed acceptable for couples to have relations during naturally infertile times (like pregnancy) the Church permitted periodic abstinence or NFP.

If you don't accept our view of Natural Law & that the individual sex act is sacred enough that it shouldn't be altered, I don't know what else to say. The CC is pretty consistent on this though - I know you mentioned lube a few pages ago, which is permitted on the grounds of correcting a deficiency so to speak, but toys or role playing are generally not (although I can't say the Holy Father has ever spoken directly about sex toys :-p) on the grounds of interfering as well as the risk of concupiscence.

So I DO think the Catholic position is rationally based doctrine, but if you don't accept the un-alter-able-nes? (sorry lol) of the individual act as an extension of Natural Law then I can't personally make an argument to take you any closer. You probably believed that murder was wrong before you ever read a logical proof of it, and I'm sure you've seen a lot of the "novelty proofs" that prove murder is wrong without calling Natural Law. Perhaps some great apologist will come along who can make the argument against ABC without calling on our view of Natural Law, that person won't be me.


ETA: And afaik, (I could be wrong), the permissibility of periodic abstinence is not infallible doctrine.

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Old 02-12-2010, 04:56 AM
 
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I don't know I'd say logic can be taught to anyone - I think it's an extension of God's character, and that humans naturally have a sense of it to varying degrees: but that doesn't mean everyone is necessarily capable of understanding formal logic. It'd help if it were taught in schools more, though... Anyway.

I realise that any argument between Catholics and Protestants (or Catholics and anyone else, really) will ultimately come down to a presuppositional argument based on the authority of the Magesterium, the legitimacy of the CC and so on. In that sense, if the Catholic position of NFP were a first principle of sorts, it could validly be accepted without argumentation. However, if argumentation were used to officially support or explain it, then the theology - and by extension the entire CC - would stand or fall by those arguments.

After half a dozen pages of back-and-forth, it seems the Catholics have changed position from "NFP is OK and ABC wrong because X, Y, Z" to, as X, Y and Z were refuted, "NFP is OK and ABC wrong because the Church says so" - an authority-based, not reason-based, belief. Would you say this is an accurate representation of the teaching? (I haven't finished Humane Vitae yet - got distracted cooking. So far it's been mostly general preamble.)

If the latter, it raises an interesting question as to how the Magesterium developed the teachings, if not by reason. Special revelation?

I assumed the teachings about ABC and NFP were infallible because they have implications of mortal sin. Seems like something with such serious implications ought to be backed up by infallibility; but I'm not quite sure what the criteria for infallibility are, so. This clearly isn't deemed a matter of conscience, take-it-or-leave-it doctrine, though... Anyone know? (ETA: I found one source online that said "some Catholics consider" the teachings about contraception - not necessarily NFP - meet all the criteria required for infallibility. It didn't say what those criteria were, though.)

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Old 02-12-2010, 05:08 AM
 
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Bluegoat: I found the bit about unity and procreation in Humanae Vitae:

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The reason is that the fundamental nature of the marriage act, while uniting husband and wife in the closest intimacy, also renders them capable of generating new life—and this as a result of laws written into the actual nature of man and of woman. And if each of these essential qualities, the unitive and the procreative, is preserved, the use of marriage fully retains its sense of true mutual love and its ordination to the supreme responsibility of parenthood to which man is called. We believe that our contemporaries are particularly capable of seeing that this teaching is in harmony with human reason.
It's pretty much what I was led to expect by this thread, down to the implication that in sex involving ABC the "sense of true mutual love" is somehow broken - which is not defended, just handwaved to "human reason". It also seems strangely to imply that "natural" sex always renders a couple capable of "generating new life", even when it made the point several chapters previously that this was not the case.

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Old 02-12-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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If the latter, it raises an interesting question as to how the Magesterium developed the teachings, if not by reason. Special revelation?
I am not certain, but I think the teachings partly derive from doctrines which are being left unspoken here (maybe not quite doctrines, in every case, as much as attitudes or perspectives) about sex, marriage, and childbearing.
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:07 PM
 
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Bluegoat: I found the bit about unity and procreation in Humanae Vitae:


It's pretty much what I was led to expect by this thread, down to the implication that in sex involving ABC the "sense of true mutual love" is somehow broken - which is not defended, just handwaved to "human reason". It also seems strangely to imply that "natural" sex always renders a couple capable of "generating new life", even when it made the point several chapters previously that this was not the case.
You probably need to look at "Theology of the Body" I would say.

To sum it up in one sentence, I would say - "All natural truths are also theological truths." I'll also say that it is not a work that will be easily understood from a position which says every philosophical argument can be reduced to a syllogism. It has I think a more Augustinian or PLatonic character.

The trouble with formal logic is that it is very limited in how it can be used in discussions of any real import. Not because reason is limited (although there is a kind of truth to that) but because we are, and human reason is. Which is why Plato and even Aristotle use not formal logic, but dialectic as the highest form or argumentation in philosophy, and I think why 20th century philosophy has been so limited in scope - it admits only syllogisms which soon become nothing more than word-play.

God, we know is perfect unity. Many things are true according to God's reason which are beyond the reach of human logic - the Trinity is a good example. You cannot show mathematically how three can be one, and it seems to contradict the law of non-contradiction, even if you delve into what substance is, or persons, and other obscure theological issues.

That doesn't mean that we must abandon reason, or that the Church simply makes things up by some inspired guess. Philosophy and theology have other methods, and in theology Tradition and Scripture provide a guide. And these methods are not just available to those who make the decisions in the Magestirium, but to all Christians. They do, however, take more time and work than simple use of reason.

I mentioned dialectic, which is one very worthwhile tool. As well, the Augustinian method, which involves the exploration of the inner world, the microcosm, as well as the outer world. As he points out, we see the macrocosm externally, and we must "figure out" what natural laws are moving it. In the case of our own bodies and souls, we have extra insight.

THe pagan neoplatonic philosophers developed these things into a real method, and Christians refined it to fit Christian understanding. In order to attain the highest knowledge of God, we must first train our bodies and minds through habit. Good living, and even fasting, and prayer. Then there is reason - we are required to study. But to attain a real first-hand knowledge, we go beyond that even to a mystic unity, and this is accomplished through unceasing prayer, and then God brings us to that experience of unity. Some Christian saints became talented at this, but many people never achieve it. Among the pagans, even Plotinus only experienced it a few times.

What does this mean concretely for those trying to understand theology? It isn't simply a matter of following some "rules" of logic. First of all, they can be warped by our tendency to concupiscence, and secondly they are not adequate to God's reason. So when we try to read something like "theology of the Body" we don't just look at its logic. We have to hold it in our minds and try to look at the world through that lens, maybe even live it (we are after all whole people, not minds stuck in foreign bodies). We need to disciple ourselves to it before we are in a position to accept or reject it. (In fact this is true of any comprehensive worldview - which is why philosophy takes imagination.)

I this case, I think "what is natural law" is the subject. What does it mean that the universe works a certain way, that each thing operates according to its logos? What does it mean to try and change the nature of that through technology, which has a logos of its own? Can our capacity for embracing untruth infect such attempts?

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Old 02-12-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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I am not certain, but I think the teachings partly derive from doctrines which are being left unspoken here (maybe not quite doctrines, in every case, as much as attitudes or perspectives) about sex, marriage, and childbearing.
?

I specifically linked to and quoted text from the CCC regarding human morality and human sexuality earlier in this thread.

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Old 02-12-2010, 06:29 PM
 
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After half a dozen pages of back-and-forth, it seems the Catholics have changed position from "NFP is OK and ABC wrong because X, Y, Z" to, as X, Y and Z were refuted, "NFP is OK and ABC wrong because the Church says so" - an authority-based, not reason-based, belief. Would you say this is an accurate representation of the teaching? (I haven't finished Humane Vitae yet - got distracted cooking. So far it's been mostly general preamble.)

If the latter, it raises an interesting question as to how the Magesterium developed the teachings, if not by reason. Special revelation?

I assumed the teachings about ABC and NFP were infallible because they have implications of mortal sin. Seems like something with such serious implications ought to be backed up by infallibility; but I'm not quite sure what the criteria for infallibility are, so. This clearly isn't deemed a matter of conscience, take-it-or-leave-it doctrine, though... Anyone know? (ETA: I found one source online that said "some Catholics consider" the teachings about contraception - not necessarily NFP - meet all the criteria required for infallibility. It didn't say what those criteria were, though.)
No.. I really don't think that is it. I don't feel like you understood what I was trying to say in my last post - not that it's your fault, but I just don't know how to say it better. When I was sharing according to the Magisterium's thinking, I wasn't saying they're the only ones who have the thinking. I agree with it. Not because I have to, but because I do. I think Catholics earlier in the thread were sharing reasons, or benefits with you, partially not understanding what you wanted, and partially because that is how many people make their decisions.

At some point, it is only fair to ask why you believe the sex act can be altered. You don't have to discuss your beliefs, but I think that is the point to which we've come. Each individual act will be unitive, not procreative, or unitive and procreative, but Catholics don't believe we have the right to tamper with the God-ordained result of any individual act. Using a condom one day out of the month is no more contraception than having a headache and not having sex one day out of the month, but using a condom may have tampered with what may have been a procreative act.

Bluegoat's post takes a good shot at where that logic comes from - I totally agree.

Then this whole discussion gets twisted around the idea of contracepting. I could never call NFP good. It is such a serious decision to stand before God with, I don't envy anyone in that position. But, a naturally infertile couple can permissibly continue having sex even in serious circumstances where they couldn't accept a new life, but also are not at 'risk' of it and thereby we see other couples in serious situations may permissibly take advantage of the natural infertile times for the unitive function.

ETA: By permissibly - I mean permissible under natural law

Acknowledging natural infertile times and "tampering" with the natural outcome via ABC are such very different things to a Catholic. I feel like I explained where the logic comes from but if not...

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Old 02-12-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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At some point, it is only fair to ask why you believe the sex act can be altered.
Because I believe we have freedom in Christ, and if our behavior is to be placed under a yoke there needs to be a solid reason of Scripture or conscience for it. That means for some Christians, using condoms will be a sin - if they feel they are disobeying Christ by doing so and yet continue to do so, they are sinning regardless of the objective rightness or wrongness of using condoms. But it also means that for those whose informed consciences are free, no-one has the right to call their actions sin. There are certain principles one can derive from Scripture about fertility (and the related issues of marriage, faith in God and so on), but I do not believe it can be logically shown that altering the sex act is in and of itself sinful; nor limiting family size, nor spacing children (nor, if it comes to that, certain sex acts prohibited by the CC). And the Bible speaks rather damningly of those who would add to the law of God and place people under heavy burdens.

Bluegoat: I'm interested in learning more about dialectic logic, but what you wrote sounds like a very scary and dangerous viewpoint - the kind that allows cults to be born. I agree that formal logic is limited, in that while it can prove the validity or invalidity of an argument it cannot in and of itself prove whether the argument's premises are true or false. Logic itself, however, cannot be warped by human sin. You can't "warp" the law of non-contradiction: you can use it correctly or fail to use it, in which case the argument will be objectively illogical, which sooner or later someone is likely to point out.

I have no objections to the idea that God can reward people who live holy lives by giving them - through natural or even supernatural means - knowledge and wisdom. But I also believe Satan can put ideas in people's minds, and a heck of a lot of cults have resulted in a heck of a lot of deaths by people telling others to take their truth on faith because they're such good men and God told them to kill themselves before the aliens arrived (or whatever). Which is why God gave us the test of formal logic to apply to someone's arguments. The truth need not fear it, as it would be contrary to the character of God to give someone an illogical truth (there's no such thing - and incidentally, I have seen logical formulations of the Trinity doctrine. Complex, but not impossible). And if it fails the test of logic, no matter how right it feels, it is not true (at least, not for the reasons by which it was argued).

I can see that if an argument is proven valid, it can be helpful to do what you suggested and try to see how it works as or within a larger worldview, and so on. But it's putting to cart before the horse to do that before finding out whether it is possibly true - ie, whether it is logical. "God loves man, I love man, therefore I am God" might feel pretty good to some people - it might make them make better sense of the world, and even become better people. But I doubt you'll waste much energy viewing the world through that lens, because you can see at a glance it is illogical.

I'll add that Jesus knew certain things through special revelation, by experiences other men could not replicate - but he happily provided logical proof that He was the Messiah and Son of God by scriptural arguments. He didn't say "Just mull the idea over and live a holy life and see if it all starts to make sense". Similarly, Paul in the book of Romans used logical proofs to discuss the mechanics of salvation. Whether he figured those out on his own time or whether God imparted it to him in a supernatural, experiential way, he described it to others using formal logic so that its truth could be proven.

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Old 02-12-2010, 11:37 PM
 
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Because I believe we have freedom in Christ, and if our behavior is to be placed under a yoke there needs to be a solid reason of Scripture or conscience for it. That means for some Christians, using condoms will be a sin - if they feel they are disobeying Christ by doing so and yet continue to do so, they are sinning regardless of the objective rightness or wrongness of using condoms. But it also means that for those whose informed consciences are free, no-one has the right to call their actions sin. There are certain principles one can derive from Scripture about fertility (and the related issues of marriage, faith in God and so on), but I do not believe it can be logically shown that altering the sex act is in and of itself sinful; nor limiting family size, nor spacing children (nor, if it comes to that, certain sex acts prohibited by the CC). And the Bible speaks rather damningly of those who would add to the law of God and place people under heavy burdens.

Bluegoat: I'm interested in learning more about dialectic logic, but what you wrote sounds like a very scary and dangerous viewpoint - the kind that allows cults to be born. I agree that formal logic is limited, in that while it can prove the validity or invalidity of an argument it cannot in and of itself prove whether the argument's premises are true or false. Logic itself, however, cannot be warped by human sin. You can't "warp" the law of non-contradiction: you can use it correctly or fail to use it, in which case the argument will be objectively illogical, which sooner or later someone is likely to point out.

I have no objections to the idea that God can reward people who live holy lives by giving them - through natural or even supernatural means - knowledge and wisdom. But I also believe Satan can put ideas in people's minds, and a heck of a lot of cults have resulted in a heck of a lot of deaths by people telling others to take their truth on faith because they're such good men and God told them to kill themselves before the aliens arrived (or whatever). Which is why God gave us the test of formal logic to apply to someone's arguments. The truth need not fear it, as it would be contrary to the character of God to give someone an illogical truth (there's no such thing - and incidentally, I have seen logical formulations of the Trinity doctrine. Complex, but not impossible). And if it fails the test of logic, no matter how right it feels, it is not true (at least, not for the reasons by which it was argued).

I can see that if an argument is proven valid, it can be helpful to do what you suggested and try to see how it works as or within a larger worldview, and so on. But it's putting to cart before the horse to do that before finding out whether it is possibly true - ie, whether it is logical. "God loves man, I love man, therefore I am God" might feel pretty good to some people - it might make them make better sense of the world, and even become better people. But I doubt you'll waste much energy viewing the world through that lens, because you can see at a glance it is illogical.

I'll add that Jesus knew certain things through special revelation, by experiences other men could not replicate - but he happily provided logical proof that He was the Messiah and Son of God by scriptural arguments. He didn't say "Just mull the idea over and live a holy life and see if it all starts to make sense". Similarly, Paul in the book of Romans used logical proofs to discuss the mechanics of salvation. Whether he figured those out on his own time or whether God imparted it to him in a supernatural, experiential way, he described it to others using formal logic so that its truth could be proven.
What I am talking about is not special revelation. Rather, it is an approach which recognises that discursive reason, the kind available to humans, is lnot enough. It is encompassed in God's reason or nature, not the other way around. Philosophy and reason are not identical to logic.

Some things will clearly show themselves to be so far from reason and logic that they are not really tenable, but that is not the case for all statements, questions, or arguments. Most are much more unclear, and trying to reduce them to syllogisms is not useful - it will simply result in missing the real meaning of what is being said.

A good example might be to ask someone to produce a formal logical argument for the existence of love. A convincing one. I would be surprised to ever see such a thing, and yet I have no doubt that love exists, and I even know something about it. I can even have some kind of understanding, through reason, of the difference between discursive reason and that which is above it - discursive reason is the result of being in time and space, and a logic that uses premises and conclusions is part and parcel of that. God, and the angels, do not exist in time and space. To some extent I can imagine what that means for reason. All is one, with no before or after.

Dialectic is indeed a better tool for this than formal logic, which is binary in nature. In dialectic, we find truths that are mutually contradictory, and allow them to lead us to a new unity of understanding. Logic is encompassed in this and to do it well a grasp of logic is absolutely required. (Which is why Aristotle starts with it, but he doesn't stay there. The arguments in his other works could not really be reduced to formal logic.)

As for discipaling oneself to a world view. It is not necessary always to actually live according to it, and in many cases that would be impracticable. But if you really want to understand what Plato, or Hegel, or St Paul really means, you have to at least do so in your imagination. THere really is no other way, and I think this is why modern students, who think their job is simply to criticize every idea they are presented, have such trouble. They can never get far enough along to really begin to understand where the system is coming from and how it works, and they never realize that they too are working from a system with assumptions and programed patterns of thought. As Anslem says, without belief, or faith, there is no understanding possible.

I'd also add, if you want people to dismiss illogical world views without trying them on, you will not get many Christian converts, since Christianity hinges on logical absurdities.

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
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