"You walk into a classroom. On the blackboard, the teacher has written on the board “You have one hour to find out what the color of the box is”. You are given 4200 books which were written thousands of years ago—all of which stating that the box is a particular color."
I suspect that the idea of colour comes from the idea of "bald is not a hair colour" ...
But as far as I know, NOBODY is given 4200 books to start his search in. Everyone starts out either without one or with one or two or three or four different ones.
There are people who freak out over not knowing whether Judaism or Christianity is the truth, torn both ways - but in their case it is one common book OT (Torah-Nebiim-Ketubim, a k a Tenakh) and two alternative continuations (NT with Church Fathers=Christianity ; or Mishnah and Gemarah=Talmud=Judaism as we know it). Not 4200 different ones.
And "what colour" is not a question which can have 4200 adequately different answers anyway.
But the practical response would not be to state "How is this fair?" from the hypothetic scenario of 4200 books. A man is not mankind. A soldier does not have the duties of a whole army. Otto Carius wasn't reproved for not beating Stalin at Stalingrad, he was decorated for the 150 tanks he did shoot down - and God is not less fair than the Führer who was his military and civil commander back then.
The man I think of had so to speak two alternatives, not 4200. Other men also, obviously, are not dealing with 4200 alternatives. It is rare to deal even with 150 false religions before finding the true one.
Here is from CMI's answer, courtesy of Shaun Doyle:
"if an exclusivistic religion like Christianity or Islam is true, that automatically falsifies all religious claims that contradict it. That’s why studying the exclusivistic religions is the best way to start any search for religious truth—if any one of them is true, then that automatically ends your search."
Problem is, in a sense every religion is exclusivistic.
Hinduism is not exclusivistic of Odinism or of Lithuanian neopaganism - but then again, though technically different, they are not really contradicting each other. Their take on paganism is like certain Anglican takes on Christian confession : if you are Italian you are supposed to be Catholic, even if it is erroneous to some degree, if you are Greek you are supposed to be Orthodox, even if it is also erroneous to a somewhat less degree than Romanism and so on ... in that view your origin primes objective truth as to your duties.
This is called branch theory - and it is condemned by the Catholic Church. To Pope Pius XI you are supposed to be a Roman Catholic on Earth, before you die and until you do, if:
- you descend from Adam and Eve
- Christ died for you
- AND you live after this event, after Pentecost day (Acts 2) and some little delay perhaps for Apostles arriving your place.
To him, branch theory is essentially Paganism. And Paganism is as exclusive of this exclusivist Catholicism as broad minded Anglicanism is, when it comes to a Swede or an Englishman for instance being a Catholic.
To me, my steps before arriving at Catholicism were, externally speaking, rather few:
- I was taught God created all by ma
- never denied that but forgot it while being engulfed with Evolution theory and Big Bang and Heliocentric astronomy (and comic book related dreams of supermanship and of space opera too)
- got back to living with ma after living with grandparents for a while, she got more serious and taught me Christianity was true:
- we were about as undenominational and eclectic as people in Haarlem in 1600. One Sunday Salvation Army, one Sunday Mass (Novus Ordo, but in a worthy manner), one Sunday a sect that split off from Catholics after Vatican II into the Protestant direction (think like a mix of Neocatechumenate and Pentecostals) ... sometimes it was a question of when we woke up, sometimes of having a late service after a Sunday outing, sometimes of liturgic mood ... I visitied Calvinists and a Synagogue briefly, but neither of them was my liturgic mood, and ma took a cue from me, since I was young and innocent - and I also heard her tell me about branch theory (as at least one alternative or even as the main explanation for diversity of confessions, even before I was very aware of question) and of "Apostolic Succession" as she had gotten the concept, with some errors of fact, not her fault at least back then, involving a deal of denominational history between Catholic "roots" and Salvation Army "fruit" ...
- this was interrupted, and after a few years I had to make decisions, had lost contact with Holy Mass by moving from Austria to Sweden, found Pentecostal liturgy (because despite their stance against "rites" they really have such) irksome emotionally, I was also sure that if martyrdom was a duty of Christians who live in certain conditions and cannot escape them, it is not such a universal duty that it is wrong to have a Christendom defending the rights of Christians, I was also not into Salvation Army since these had betrayed ma, I delayed and delayed and then became Swedish state Church Lutheran;
- this involved getting baptised and getting a bit of Lutheran catechism, which in my case was pro-Jewish and pro-Ecumenic, but not pro-scepticism or pro-evolutionism per se;
- after a while I learned a bit more of the Reformation, and found it was in many ways too like the Revolutions I hated (French and Russian more than American, though I started to be queezy about George Washington too, especially since Lafayette returning from aiding him against George III had contributed to sparking French Revolution) - I decided High Church was a good idea, staying separate from Rome and keeping the identity, but with a view of negotiations and later reunion, if possible (I could have joined the Our Lady of Walsingham movement, if I had instead been in England and had had my High Church preferences) - I also learned from Eco's Name of the Rose I had been wrong about Inquisition, which had been one of my arguments for Reformation, despite Christianity being basically Catholic;
- then I found I had hurt myself spiritually by this delay, let's not get into details, and decided to "Rome" as soon as possible;
- which I also did after "Rome" had delayed the "Roming process". I came to Rome before John Paul II / Wojtyla had returned from a sacrilegious meeting in Assisi, which I did not consider sacrilegious back then, and I was received in Communion with him before Monseigneur Lefèbvre had been declared outside that same. May 1988 I made my first Confession to the priest who had given me my last catechism lessons, June he had made the consecrations. Back then I accepted what my father confessor told me, that he was basically all right but exaggerated since going against obedience.
How later I have been going in diverse directions WITHIN the Catholic confession (including a two year excursion to nearby Roumanian Orthodoxy) is another matter. But it does not prove I was uncautious in my conversion 1988, it proves I have been able to be consistent since, except in the eyes of those who erroneously identify both Catholicism with only obedience to the Pope and Papacy with only sitting in the Vatican. I have never doubted the sacraments are seven, nor that Mass is a sacrifice.
Now, as you can see, my journey has NOT been a journey of 4200 steps. And though it is one good tip to examine exclusivist religions first, another one is to start out as faithfully as possible to the religion you came to through your family (most have a more homogenous background than mine, but you can change that to "religion-S" if appropriate). When Pope Eugene IV at Council of Florence decided every man who was not at all converted to Catholicism before he died was damned (there is a dispute whether "omnino non" or "not at all" would also involve those "not quite" converted, like CSL who went from Atheist to Anglican), the reasoning advocated by Nicholas of Cusa started out with every religion giving its adherents some kind of headstart to the truth (not necessarily meaning the back then still stone dead paganisms of brutal Babylonian, Egyptian or Canaanean type, but the religions known back then) - or enough truth for him to discover, if he's honest, it is not the whole truth, thus not the true religion. Even a very false and backward religion would do that by provoking some initial sane reaction from human nature. And that means, along with fact that the Natural Law is accessible to all who do not shut their heart off from it (as St Paul mentioned in Romans, as cited by CMI), that whereever you start from, you can reach the truth.
Protestant sects may be counted in the 1000's, but the basic denimonations (or indeed the indiviual micro sects) are none of them 1000 steps away from the Catholic origins. Orthodoxy is not quite as obviously in the same position, since it claims to be itself the origin and some of them call "Papism the first Protestantism" - but Romanides is visibly further away from Church Father positions than St Robert Bellarmine was. Plus if Father Kramer is correct, the Russians have had an experience of invoking Our Lady under Orthodox titles and not getting heard and under Roman Catholic titles (like Our Lady of Fatima) and getting heard.
And before a Prot comes to Protest against "invoking Our Lady", may I remind that Our Lady was honoured by the Angel and St Elisabeth and at Cana Christ heard her prayer. For his first miracle.
Here is part of a letter of slight distress, yesterday's article:
I’m a Christian in 10th Grade. ... She said that she doesn’t believe evolution says that we evolved from apes and such ("and that’s why so many people don’t believe") but, instead, she says it says that we just change over time. ...
Here is part of the response, courtesy of Keaton Halley:
Let me encourage you to approach this with the right perspective. First, make sure you are being respectful of your teacher. Even though she does not have a biblical perspective, she is in a position of authority over you and so it’s important that you engage her from a posture of submission and humility. You can ask her challenging questions, but don’t try to embarrass her or attack her personally. I think it’s good that you are talking to her after class instead of turning it into a debate during class, for example.
Now, would that response have been useful to me in 9th grade?
The teacher I was dealing with was a far more dedicated evolutionist.
We were all encouraged, even demanded, to challenge teachers if we thought them wrong, as long as we also listened to their response.
He was giving me about 1 go to few (and I thought and think he knew it) to refute his argument.
His or anyone else there being in a position of authority is disputable, since they were acting together with social authorities that had overridden ma's and my own preferences for my continued education (correspondence rest of ninth grade, then back to class in 10th grade when I would be with people having chosen literary line, as myself). So, though this involves me having been guilty back then by the deferences I did show to teachers and other staff (home parents) at that boarding school, it also involves me having no real obligation to respect these as having a parental authority. Rather, I had a duty to obey them when telling me what my ma would have told me anyway, but to oppose them when telling me the opposite.
Which is what I tried to do on the occasion. And certain networks started turning certain wheels and pulling certain strings because of the opposition which very justly I did give to things like secularism or evolutionism or free sex. Because I really did oppose in my way abortion - even if the girl was raped. Because I really did say condoms were not OK. Because I really did say Sunday should be observed. Because I really did say truth could be known and was not at all atheist or masonic. Because I insisted Holy Bible is believable and transmission by Manuscript Tradition is believable and trnasmission of doctrinal content by Oral tradition complementing but not opposing Bible is believable. And of course, that an honest seeker can find the right religion, which therefore has a right to be exclusivist. People who had been friendly with me, while I was a Lutheran started stepping back when I said "Catholicism is true Christianity".
But before that, I had followed Halley's advice with another teacher, a Christian though an evolutionist, a son of a missionary. I had shown him or even lent him the book "Ur intet" which is the Swedish translation of "From Nothing to Nature" by Edgar Andrews.
That was the teacher whom I asked how we could know that Heliocentrism is true. And decades later I reconsidered his answer as not having refuted the position of St Thomas Aquinas, by a grace of God. Since then I am Geocentric too. Back in my school days, I would rather have said "Galileo had no possibility to prove Heliocentrism and had no right to affirm it against the common understanding of Scripture - and of common sense". But now I add, Newton has not proven Heliocentrism since Galileo either.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
III Sunday after Epiphany*
If you want to know more about this Catholic acting like a complement to CMI and to Kent Hovind, see my blog:
Creation vs. Evolution
CMI Feedback archive → Feedback 2015 : Is God obscure and arbitrary in what He wants from us?
CMI : Countering evolution in the classroom
Published: 24 January 2015 (GMT+10)
* I haven't checked, but don't tell me it's already Septuagesima!