Catholic, Day, Faith, Journal, Life, Love

Pensées from Pascal

Berkeley, Friday, August 2, 2019 4:22 PM

Transcripts from Blaise Pascal’s Pensées:

“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. I say that the heart naturally loves the Universal Being, and also itself naturally, according as it gives itself to them; and it hardens itself against one or the other as its will. You have rejected the one, and kept the other. Is it by reason that you love yourself?

It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason.

Faith is a gift of God; do not believe that we said it was a gift of reasoning. Other religions do not say this of their faith. They only gave reasoning in order to arrive at it, and yet it does not bring them to it.

The knowledge of God is very far form the love of Him.

Heart, instinct, principles.” (Pascal, 1670, 277-281)

References

Pascal, B., 1670. Pensées, WF Trotter (trans.) in 1958, introduction by TS Eliot. The edition I read was from Dover, 2003.

Academia, Catholic, Day, Faith, Journal, Life

Journal 7/5/’19

Berkeley, Saturday, July 6, 2019 4:54 PM

It is to make up for 5/7/’19, when I did not write in the blog. I will see, if I can continue writing everyday. I love how it expands my curiosity, and I have a space to write down my ideas, learnings, or to clear my mind, but the my time is getting more constrained.

It caught my attention a sign from a Catholic community in a good university from Baltimore, which says: “Why to go Greek while you can go Roman?”

It is not the first time that I have heard that, another time in a conversation in Berkeley, my Catholic interlocutor, referred to university as the Greek thinking.

Booth are wrong in trying to define theses cultures. Romans were not primarily religions. But it is a time when we learned much more about God and defeated paganism. During the Greek time, our believes in divinity were still in early stages, thinking on several gods, who even cannot agree with themselves.

Epicurus (341-270 BC), I think was atheist. He is well know for his philosophy on pursuit of happiness , which, although, sounds appealing, it is a too selfish purpose in life, as C.S. Lewis (1955, p. 143) described.

Not Socrates (c. 470 – 399 BC), neither Plato (c. 427-347 BC), nor Aristotle (384 – 322 BC) were atheists. They were were great thinkers, and seekers of the truth, who challenged the believes of the time. They have had a great contribution to theology. See the Third Man Argument. Tell me if any does not have an internal voice who dictates what to do.

In the medieval times, in the born of the current universities, the Catholic Church had a strong influence for they creation, and for teaching the independence of thought. There was a good marriage of thinking in the so called greek thinking, Roman thinking, and elsewhere thinking. University is a synonymous of universal. Does Catholic come from the Greek word katholikos, which means universal as well?

Despite those words, by no means a university should be restriceted to a doctrine, with these I am not saying that universities as we know them today were born from Catholic influence, and so they should continue to be. What I am illustrating the good marriage between the greek philosophy and an elsewhere thinking in a universal learning.

That is the meaning of university, enlightenment, thinking, free thinking, not necessarily authority restricted to a government or to a religious doctrine.

Knowledge must be presented to students as it is. It is the place where we seek for the truth, and from where we multiply ideas informing to our communities or society.

Furthermore, knowledge is one of the six or seven gifts from spirit of God, or Holy Spirit (Is 11, 2-3). The debate between 6 and 7 gifts is because some translations included piety as a gift, where others none. We should go to the original text to clarify that.

Then, it would be foolish for an illustrated person in knowledge to think that everything can be explained just by reason, and what is not know is just uncertainty. While those claims are correct, we will be too poor to reduce our sevens gifts and our lives just to matter and knowledge. So those who claimed that God is dead, did so just in their limited knowledge.

Cited References

Isaiah. The Book of Isaiah (unknown date). Isaiah lived lived around the early 700s B.C. and the late 600s B.C. The book is an anthology of poems composed chiefly by the Isaiah, but also by his disciples. Some came many years after his death. I read it from the New American Bible. Revised Edition2011. Catholic Book Publishing Corp., N.J.,

Lewis, C.S., 1955. Surprised by joy: The shape of my early life. First Harvest edition published in 1966.

Catholic, Day, Faith

Daily journal, which actually evolved as a post on sources and debates between theists and atheists

Berkeley, Monday 20, 2019 11:40 PM

Yesterday, I slept extremely late. 2:40 AM.

I should get rid of that habit because the morning start late as well then.

I checked the newspaper at breakfast. Opened a framed cork board that I bought for pining up my schedule and to do list. Still I need to get some nails for hanging it in the wall.

I stayed at home in the morning. I prayed, read Thomas Aquinas, comment on a post from a friend, had lunch, and left to campus.

I did grading during the afternoon, and took a 20 minute nap.

I submitted my grading, and tried to buy 100 percentage chocolate, but the Berkeley Student Food Collective store is close until May 28.

I was able to get to the Poulet to get some food for dinner.

It was interesting to listen a podcast from William Lane Craig, who is prominent Christian Philosopher, apologist, and created a program called Reasonable Faith. He is a very good debater. You can check out many of his debates against the Atheist. What I was listening was about his story on how he met his wife and his life with her. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/when-bill-met-jan/

Video 1. William Lane Craig about time for leisure and time for his wife Jan.

The lesson was great about the time commitment that he put aside for his wife. This time was nights and weekends. He respected the commitment. Then, his wife, Jan, give a lot to him, while she was more flexible during finals. The limit time pushed Dr. Craig to be more effective at work.

Furthermore, Jan have committed to to support him a lot in his academic path. Prof. Craig tried to reattribute that by learning some of the topics that Jan was interested such as finances. However, they made the project of Reasonable Faith together, https://www.reasonablefaith.org/, were both of them lead it. Dr. Craig is Professor of Philosophy at Biola University, and one of the 50 most influential contemporanian philosophers.

I definitely have a lot to learn from Dr. Craig, and I am grateful with him for evangelizing in a short assessment I did. However, still for the protestants, I do not have a clear reason, why they left the Catholic Church, which track back his origens to Jesus, who delegated it to Peter. The Catholic Church also acknowledge the Judaism, as it is based in the Old Testament, and acknowledges that Jesus came to correct it. Beyond this clear data and evidence, one can push for reforms, but I did not see the need to leave from it, unless there is a major event.

I skimmed, or passed quickly, an interesting dialogue between Bishop Barron and Dr. Craig from 2018. Both are very respectful, and they agreed to made it a dialogue rather than a debate. Both are very active evangelist. From them I have learnt about the Apologetics, and Bishop Barron have opened my curiosity about Saint Thomas Aquinas, who I am reading currently.

Video 2. Dialogue between two very active Evangelists

In that dialogue, I learned that both of them wake up at 5:30 AM.

I learned about a bit more how to pray, and they opened my curiosity about the Fathers of the Church.

Further, I learned from Bishop Barron, about Dr. Peter Kreeft, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, at Boston College.

Dr. Peter Kreef is a charismatic speaker, who was raised as Calvinist. He thinks that the best two things in his life was to convert to Catholicism and to marry his wife. Following a short introduction about him. He has the fame to be a prolific and productive author. I have not read his books yet, but just here I have mentioned three excellent contemporanean authors. He had studied Thomas Aquinas, and write a book, which extract the best from Aquinas’ books. It could have same some time, but I happy, I am reading piece by piece Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, which consists on 4 volumes in 5 books. I also got 2 volumes from Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.

Some things to read, in separate time, without hopefully investing too much time on these videos, which I can say are illustrative.

Video 3. About Professor Peter Kreef

I have seen plenty of debates of these people among others, against the Four Horsemen of Atheism: clockwise from top left: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris.

Video 4. Ciudad de las Ideas 2010. Debate Does the Universe have a purpose?. The origins of the future
Video 5. Ciudad de las Ideas. Debate: Hitchens, Harris, Dennett vs Boteach, D’Souza, Taleb.

I reviewed more carefully video 4. Dr. Craig is a great debater. I think they got a great team in 2010, and had strong points against the atheist. Many atheist fear Dr. Craig in general, if you search him in the web. He is a great Evangelist. I sustain my theory that as we continue evolving we continue understanding and exploring our question about God. D’Souza in 2009 also had strong arguments that made me reflect, and I think made reflect the opposition as well. He was debating at that time against three out of the four Four Horsemen of the New Atheism. I need to read more about them as well. Those are men of morals, who have not allowed themselves to humble and seek for God, and for wisdom and understanding through prayer. They limit knowledge to science, and everything else is uncertain. I disagree that it is a holistic view of the Universe, and our purpose. There are morals, wisdom, and knowledge that does not come from science. Check Saint Catherine of Siena.

Video 6. Video 6. St. Catherine of Siena. CATHOLICISM The Pivotal Players by Bishop Barron.

Still, as I said, I will read a bit more about Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris to can talk about them. Bishop Barrons endorsed Christopher Hitchens (+) as a unique character, defending his values, and a person of morals, and passionated about what he defended. In a random search, some heaters accuse him from alcoholism. He, as seems, a transparent man, did not hold back, and spoke about the benefits of alcohol consumption in his life. He said “alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing.” I do not agree with that, but I after skimming that article, I admire his efficiency. He has been a highly productive writer. He said he never had missed a deadline. He had never arrived late. He produced thousands of printable words per day. He gives about 4 lectures per month. Still, I do not know that much about him.

Video 7. Bishop Barron on Christopher Hitchens

Richard Dawkins rather seems a bit arrogant. Still, I do not too much about him. All of those are some impressions, on some procrastination, where I build my arguments and faith.

About Andres Roemer, organizer of the event Ciudad de las Ideas, seems to be an interesting character. He did his PhD in Public Policy at UC Berkeley. He had brought those debates to the public discourse as he explores his own believes. When I watched the 2010 debate, (Video 4), I though that he should have been more prepared about the introduction to the speakers. I thought he just was a showman. In that introduction to the speakers he praised Dr. Dawkins, and kind of asked to the others who you are and what books you have read. I think the moderator should introduce himself to the speakers. He also praised too much Prof. Michio Kaku. I am not against praising them. They deserve due to their hard and influential work. However, he had 6 speakers, so please treat all of them equally respectful.

Richard Dawkins have declined to debate against Professor William Craig for several occasions. Why?

Dr. Sam Harris seems to be a rational persons, however, lacks of emotions or passions in his debates. Still, I do not that much about him, and his writings, rather two videos that I have seem him, which I even passed quickly. He did debate against Dr. William Craig in 2011 at University of Notre Dame.

Video 8. Is Good From God?. Debate between Dr. Sam Harris and Dr. William Craig

Dr. William Craig also debated Christopher Hitchens, on April 4, 2009 at Biola University, about the question Does God exist? It seemed to me a great debate. Both are good debaters. I did not watched all the arguments in detail, but Dr. Craig seems that was much more convincing. I did not check if there was a verdict. I think he won the debate from what I saw. Beyond that the point is that they bring important questions to the table and to rationality of faith, and hopefully to open some seeking to God to the unbelievers, who have not search for Him, and rather want a probe, often in the podium.

Video 9. Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens.

I forgot to mention from the debates from Ciudad de las Ideas, video 4 and video 5, that I do not like the center agnostic please. I hope that they take the decision to move forward to a side, but they cannot argue that both sides are wrong. Dr. Michio Kaku did that in 2010, and Robert Wright did that in 2009. The parts I listened from Dr. Wright were not that convincing. At least I would prefer to take a position.

I have not read that much about Dr. Daniel Dennett. there is a TED talk I watched few minutes of it some time ago. This is the second time that I see him in a debate (Video 5). He looks a respectable man. His age made him look with some wisdom. I cannot recall the video, I saw long time ago , in video 10, I see in the beginning he said let’s teach about religion. It can be in that TED talk or in other, were he still took an insulting position to religions. Well, that is his position. He is one of the 4 horseman of the new atheism, who have not allowed themselves to go beyond rationality and search for god in the prayers.

Video 10. Let’s teach religion. Ted Talk. Dan Dennet

Regarding the other speakers in the ciudad de las ideas. I did paid more attention to the 2010 event. Rabbi David Wolpe looked passionated and emotional. Honestly, I skimmed so I cannot recall his arguments. He seems that took personally a point. He as the others next speakers, I know even less than the ones I referred before, but it is fair to at least give my impressions.

Douglas Geivett seemed that had some points and was well prepared. I might look further about him. Michael Shermer seems to be an author that I will also look further more. He was in the atheist site, but raised some interesting points. I cannot recall the arguments by Matt Ridley, while he seemed a good scientist, I got an impression that the fields of Theology and Philosophy looked unfamiliar to him, same as to Dawkins in that debate. It might be just an impression as I do not that much about those authors.

In the debate from 2009, the speakers that I had left to mention were Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Nassim Taleb. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was passionated but it got personal and lost. I did not watched in detail the 2009 debate, beyond some strong points from D’Souza. Rabbi Boteach seems that did not acknowledged well the theory of the evolution. That is a mistake. The theological debate cannot be traced back centuries. He need a good scientific background. In general the current theological thinking is that the theory of evolution also supports God. At least, in my personal opinion, there is not conflict between science and God. The problem is that some scientist want to reduce knowledge and wisdom to science. I do not think that Nassim Taleb did that well, but again I just skimmed the debate.

Back to the Catholic professor champion, Dr. Peter Kreeft, he interestingly highlighted very good points about Muslim in a conversation in this topic against one of his former students. (Video 11). That video came across, and I myself, have read few pages (56) of the Koran. I mentioned this, because my impressions from the 2009 debate are not because of the religious affiliation of the speaker that I mentioned. Well, I can be able to talk more about Dr. Kreeft, after I learn more from him, and to talk after the Koran after I finish it. However, I do agree that it rescue some good points from the Old and New Testaments. Interestingly, Dr. Kreeft was playing the role of defending Muslim in that conversation. Beyond what they have covered there, which again, I just skimmed, in one of the curiosity procrastinations to learn about Dr. Kreeft, I respect the five times of praying from the Muslim in a day, and their strength during the fasting period, which I can tell from some Muslim friends. [Following an update on 5/21/2019]: However, I have some questions and thoughts: why Mohamed restricted his followers to read the Old and New Testaments? Why did he tried to ‘correct’ them? Those changes and restrictions of Bible, which is catalogued as Divine, made me skeptical from Mohamed. Was there any divine intervention to him, or was it just his idea? Why to restrict his followers to read the Bible? (Aquinas, ~1250)

Video 11. Conversation about Muslim by two Catholics Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer (Catholic at that time)

Finally, actually second last, a debate that I really enjoyed the part I watched. It was in the early years from Dr. William Lane Craig, June 27, 1993. The debate was about Atheism vs. Christianity: Which Way Does the Evidence Point?, where Dr. Craig debated Frank R. Zindler, at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL.

Video 12. Atheism vs. Christianity: Which Way Does the Evidence Point?. Dr. Craig vs Frank R. Zindler.

Finally, a Catholic defensor champion, Ann Widdecombe. She participated in 2009 in a debate in London, about The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World (Video 13). I just watched her opening speech, which was kind of a rebuttal to Hitchens as well. The panel of speakers was conformed by Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens on the atheist site, against Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe over the defense of the Catholic Church. Ann Widdecombe speeach was very conving. Since, then I look forward to learn a bit more about her as well.

Video 13. Debate The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World, London, 2009

The content of this post obviously changed from a report from the day, to a report of sources to authors about theism and atheism. Those influential authors, and those debates, have expanded my curiosity and knowledge about God, and hopefully have prepared me better to explain my arguments to support my faith and the Catholic Church, in addition to my personal experience, which is an important argument as well.

I have learned, still a bit, about these group of Apologetics, which seems to be the people contributing with knowledge to Christianity. I think that there are also branches of apologetics in Christianity, which you can explore by Googling Christian Apologetics. To finish this with one quotes from a site, which seems to be discontinued, Catholic Apologetics Academy: “”always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15-16). It also encourages us to “earnestly contend for the Faith” (Jude 1:3).”

References

Regarding videos, I embedded here, so you can further check in YouTube for the source. Regarding some citation in the text, those were mainly from websites, except full book names that I also mentioned in the text, the author and name of the book. Links to websites, when I referred to them are embeded. Finally, a reference to an audio interview is also embedded.

I acknowledge that this is not the best way to cite. I ended up writing a long post of many sources I have checked over the last 3 weeks. I do not want to invest more time, on formatting the citations, and there might not be need for it here. I am glad I put these sources here for some reference at some time. However, I will focus next on my own work, and on some of the reading material I mentioned here.

[The following reference updated on 5/21/2019]:

Aquinas, T., 1975. Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God, translated by A. C. Pegis. University of Notre Dame Pess.

Faith

Faith

Berkeley, May 13, 2019 10:22 PM

Here I want to post some of the questions and comments that I have in my mind, at my current stage on my faith journey.

My opinions are not of a Theologist. I am Roman Catholic. I do believe in God.

I do beleive that we come to this world with a purpose.

Of course, we or I, make mistakes. A daily goal is to acknowledge them. To reflect. To renounce to oneself, and to connect with what are we called to do.

I beleive that the relationship with God, as any other evlove with time, understanding, and reflection.

We cannot not know God, if we do not accept Him at first.

I do beleive that thinks had a beginning. We, through science, have found the bing bang to understand the origin of the universe, and the evolution theory to understand our DNA, and our origens, and the origins of the species.

This is of course a fragile path to talk, where many would see these as probes of God non existence. At my point of understanding, I believe that we need to accept the grace of knowledge. Science is not the only gift or knwoledge we have.

Again I am posting more question that answers, as I myself have a long way to keep maturating my faith. But as I said in a relationship, you learn from the experience, virtues, grace, and knowledge.

I do beleive that science has helped us to understand better the world which was created with purpose.

Same as the own purpose, we should not contradict with our inner self, in the way that we go, or that the world might go.

Experience, daily experience, facts, courage among many are the reasons that I believe in God.

I do beleive that about 2K years ago, Jesus came to correct many of our actions as humans. I am a Catholic, because I believe that Jesus came. I believe that Peter was with Him. I see as fact that Peter founded the Church, and I even have visit his tomb, as the one from St. Paul as well.

The church has expanded for some reason, and it cannot just mere fortune that it has come that far.

Still, we need to stay informed, knowledgeble, educated, not only in science, but in philosophy, history, and far more to be able to speak our experience.

I remain Catholic while there are things that I do not understand. I do not see why celibate is required for the priests. I think that priests have a challenging and demanding job, but I beleive that woman is the complement of man, and viceversa. I also do not have enough knowledge yet, to understand why women is not in the priesthood.

The Catholic Church has been facing plenty of scandals those recent times, which are terrible: child sex abuse.

First, it does not reflect the doctrine of the Catholic Church. It is urgent to investigate deeply the roots of these several cases that happen. What had led to them? My solidarity with all the innocent people who got their lives affected with those problems.

Even with those evil leaks, I still beleive that the Catholic Church has been a major institution to teach us about God over last 2 thousand years. There have been several desviations, cirsis, abuses of power, in the history, but still great minds and spirits have made corrections.

I have been on my way to learn about God and life, and the truth, and simplicity, through the Catholic Church, that is why I stay, and I support it. I do not have a closed mind.

I do think that we need a major update on theology in the daily doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Many Saints have show us the way to faith by life example. Thankfully, we are diverse, and many of us have plenty of questions.

Our knowledge of course not only should cover the Bible, but starts to make relations between reason, theory, faith, phylosophy, experience. I am about to read the Summa Contra Gentiles by St. Thomas Aquinas. One of the greatest minds in the teological history.

Regarding, the Eucaristy. It is of course a time of transcende, love, forgiveness, reflection, connection and peace. I do beleive that during the liturgy a space for Q & A should be openned after the homily.

Again, teology is not field. I know that priests studies for about 10 years for becoming priests. Hwoever, questions evolve over time. The liturgy part is the teaching part. We as the community, need to be as weel good students. I think that the space for 2 or 3 questions should be open. It would elevate the speach of the priest, who is more advanced than us in the knowledge of God, but also will help Him to assess how is the community advancing. How clear is His speach. How come that a lesson does not have interaction. Then the second part of the mass is the Sacrament, where of course only the priest can performed.

Many questions and comments will comment in my life journey. At least as student, I usually ask questions. Normally, those have contributed to me to clarify a topic, and perhaps to the class as well. Rarely, perhaps only twice, the interloculor did not liked to receive questions. I have not been expulsed from class for asking. And if that is would be the case, still I will continue in my journey.

Dante (1275-1321), who was born the year after Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) died, I think expressed his opinion and curisioty about the Church doctrine. While I have on my list, and now in bookshelf plenty of books to finigh. The first volume of Dante’s Divine Comedy: infierno has a wornderful graph, which should encourage us a dig deeper in the understading of our faith. Or at least it touched me:

The path to the City of God by Dante

While I still have to finish the book, I am currently, in the canto III. My interpretation up to now, which I should correct when I finish the book, is that Dante, who is the pilgrims, has an awaking in his life. He stops to reflects about his misgivings, acknowledge them, and want to life with purpose. The pilgrim is in the vestibule where there is an entrance door to the upper hell, you can see in the top left gate of the graph. That is the door that either many people leave the church or did not wanted to enter, because did not wanted to explore further in their inner selfs. In all these unknown questions that we cannot answer now. Or just the ones who did not wanted to accept our own mistakes.

The pilgrim, Dante, decided to cross the river and take the hard path towards the City of God, which I think, its name came from the book by Saint Augustine (354 – 430). So he crossed the river, and it is allowed to first stay with the virtuous man and unbaptized. However, he had the courage to walk further to the limbo, then lustful, etc. up to the City of God. I will be able to talk further about those, as I can make time for reading it.

My final words, in this post with my current knowledge, is that we have to have the courage to believe and prepare to profess in our daily life. Even best if we are in the academic or science world. Those are also gifts from God. Wake up your joy. It is not an easy path. While preaching is not necessarily my message, which I also keep learning to defend the faith. Here is a message to not take the exit door. I also have struggled with my faith. I was born Catholic, but I was away from God from mid 2008 to mid 2009. About a month a half ago, while still my faith in God was part of the question, my continuity as Catholic also was part of it. In prayer, in confession, in writing, in reflection, the answers come. I do believe that He is the way, the true, and the life.

Even Saint Thomas Aquinas, the most prominent Theologist of all time, asked all his life all the question about God (Barron, 2019), and answered them in a very productive life, where left us several books for our further understanding. See Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologica.

References and further reading/watching:

Aquinas, T., 1975 Summa contra gentiles. Vol1-4. Translations by Pegis, A.C., Anderson, J.F., Bourke, V.J. and O’Neil, C.J.

Aquinas, T. 2012. Summa Theologica. Vol 1-5. Authentic Media Inc, 2012.

Augustine, S., 1972. The City of God, trans. H. Bettenson.

Barron, Bishop. 2019. Saint Thomas Aquinas. CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players – Volume I. Word of Fire. https://www.wofdigital.org/videos/aquinas-4k

Dante, A., 2003. The divine comedy, vol I: inferno. Translated by Musa M. Penguin Books, US.