Sunday, November 15, 2009

Starving for the Catholic faith


I bought a product from Catholic Answers a few months back, and they've been spamming me for support ever since. Here's a recent excerpt from the desk of Karl Keating:

"As you know, Catholic Answers is the largest apologetics organization in North America."

"If you could make a monthly pledge right now, we would be even more secure as we meet the needs of millions of Americans who, as I mentioned earlier, are starving for the Catholic faith more than ever before. Click here to make your pledge or send your donation."


I didn't realize that in the age of the Internet, satellite TV, and mass media publications via the big chain bookstore in town, people were starving for information about the Roman Catholic Church. Why not just go to the official Vatican website? Here you can get Rome's official answers, and not the interpretations of those answers by the largest apologetics organization in North America.

And besides, for free I've got the Internet insights of a host of Roman Catholic apologists bookmarked in my favorites.

America isn't starving for information about anything. We're a culture over-stuffed with enough information that's only a mouse click away. It's like saying the obese family that regularly goes to the all-you-can-eat restaurant can't find any food. Perhaps one could argue the all-you-can-eat stuff isn't good food, so we need Catholic Answers to serve the gourmet feast of information. If that's so, then all those Catholic websites I've bookmarked are.... not healthy food.

On a related note:

Catholic apologist John Martignoni only wants 10 cents a day:

"If just 1 in 10 of you will respond to this email, I could cut out one or two of my part-time jobs (I currently work 5), hire some full-time help, and invest in some equipment which would drastically increase our evangelization efforts by drastically increasing the amount of apologetics materials we can develop."

"I don’t know of any other organization that reaches so many people with the truths of the Catholic Faith on such a small budget, nor one that raises money the way we do – asking for such a small amount, only through email, and only twice a year. I hope those facts, along with the results of the work we do, will be enough to persuade you to support our mission – to spread the truths of the Catholic Faith and to save souls for Christ and His Bride, the Church."

Of course, the oddest plea for support comes from this guy. To send him a 100% tax-deductible donation for what appears to be his for-profit business, you send the donation to John Martignoni, who does run a not for profit business. Martignoni then forwards the money to the other guy. Well, this might be worth it, because contrary to the work of Catholic Answers, this Romanist states:

"I think it is accurate to say that I offer the most wide-ranging, comprehensive selection of Catholic apologetics available online (for free: no one pays a cent to read my blog), in addition to my books. It's been literally a constant labor of love for over twelve years now, since I began my website in early 1997."

If you're itching to send him some $$, you can send it directly to him via Paypal. But keep in mind his website states in all caps, "DONATIONS THROUGH PAYPAL (NOT TAX-DEDUCTIBLE)". So to send him the 100% tax deductable donation, make sure it gets filtered first through Mr. Martignoni.

Gerry Matatics also needs some support, because unlike Catholic Answers, Gerry defends real Catholicism:

"I don't believe anyone else in the entire country does quite what I do full-time, traveling and speaking about real Catholicism and exposing counterfeit catholicism, and does it as much, and yet as inexpensively, as I do. I’m hoping I can interest one hundred recipients of this letter in each sending a sacrificial $100 donation, thus enabling me to raise the $10,000 (100 donors x $100 each) that I need to continue and complete my megatour this fall."


By the way, if you enjoy what I do and want to make a donation, click here and here.

15 comments:

Burk Braun said...

Just an idea, but I think what they are starving for are effective apologetics. The obese are indeed starving- for healthy food and healthy habits. Similarly, Catholics (and Protestants as well) are starved for healthy, rational thinking, always looking for it in the wrong places, seeking reason and finding dogma and theism.

Which is to say, searching for reasons for what they wish to believe, when there aren't any. There are no, and can be no, effective apologetics, which is why the field keeps saying the same things over and over to its unsatisfied customers.

Carrie said...

I don’t know of any other organization that reaches so many people with the truths of the Catholic Faith on such a small budget,

Looks like a good debate b/w Martignoni and Matatics. Who has the smallest budget.

Rhology said...

PLEASE donate to Matatics. I desperately want him to come thru my area; it's on his future list.

Andrew said...

Burk, there have been many apologists, both Catholic and Protestant, that dwarf you in intelligence and reasoning ability. The two that come to mind immediatley for me are Chesterton and Bahnsen. The problem is that you can't see it because you reject the very source of sound reason. I refer you to the Bahnsen/Stein debate for a full demonstration of the absolute illogicality of your world view.

James Swan said...

Just an idea, but I think what they are starving for are effective apologetics.

Perhaps, but this isn't what the Newsletter spam says. It says CA is "reaching the millions of people who are starving for the truths of the Catholic faith." Now, there are plenty of Roman Catholic websites putting forth basically the same information already, probably requiring a lot less money. No one with a computer is starving for any Roman Catholic information, and besides, the Vatican has a website including a myriad of papal documents as well as the Catechism. Why not skip the middle man, and simply read what the alleged Holy Spirit led magisterium says for herself?

James Swan said...

I refer you to the Bahnsen/Stein debate for a full demonstration of the absolute illogicality of your world view.

This MP3 used to be online for free. If Burk is interested, I can make it available for him as a download. I believe I have it saved somewhere on my server.

James Swan said...

Looks like a good debate b/w Martignoni and Matatics. Who has the smallest budget.

I know this was meant to be funny, but I doubt any of the bigger name Catholic apologists would ever debate Gerry in person. As wacky as Gerry is, he would probably tie them in knots.

Andrew Suttles said...

"...nor one that raises money the way we do – asking for such a small amount..."

Asking for money is a novel approach for Romanists. The sale of indulgences must really be down. The Pope should start offering triple digit years out of purgatory for donations. This worked well for him in the past.

Andrew said...

This MP3 used to be online for free. If Burk is interested, I can make it available for him as a download. I believe I have it saved somewhere on my server.

It can also be listened to on the Greg Bahnsen youtube channel. I think it's in about six parts.

Burk Braun said...

Thanks to all for your interest!

Is this a fair representation of this debate?

Thanks for the citation- it is a classic of the genre, to be sure. Theist Bahnsen claims to suppose that there is a god, and thence goes on to assert that no reason, logic, nature, or morality could exist without that supposition. More specifically,

"In advance, you see, Dr. Stein is committed to disallowing any theistic interpretation of nature, history or experience. What he seems to overlook is that this is just as much begging the question on his own part as it is on the part of the theist. who appeal to such evidence. He has not at all proven by empirical observation and logic his pre commitment to Naturalism. He has assumed it in advance, accepting and rejecting all further factual claims in terms of that controlling and unproved assumption.
Now the theist does the very same thing, don't get me wrong."


But as to logic and reason, there is not a single supposition that Stein and Bahnsen fail to share- everything Stein takes as axiomatic, Bahnsen does as well, otherwise reasoned discussion couldn't possibly take place. But then.. then there are the extra theistic suppositions that Bahnsen allows himself which are gratuitous. There is neither reason for them, nor a shared axiom. Bahnsen gives himself the axiom of god, plus the assertion that everything existent and good flows from it, and where, pray tell, is the reason in that? I'll tell you where- nowhere. His argument is the purest whisp of wishful thinking and circularity.


"Dr. Stein wants to use the laws of logic tonight. I maintain that by so doing he's borrowing my world view. For you see, in the theistic world view the laws of logic makes sense, because in the theistic world view there can be abstract, universal, invariant entities such as the laws of logic. Within the theistic world view you cannot contradict yourself, because to do so you're engaging in the nature of lying, and that's contrary to the character of God as we perceive it. And so, the laws of logic are something Dr. Stein is going to have to explain as an atheist or else relinquish using them."

More idiotic hectoring. It does seem as though Bahnsen's case boils down to either pure assertion (god made the world, therefore he exists), or an analogy with logic (logic exists and is both immaterial and abstract, thus my idea of god also exists because it is also abstract and immaterial, despite being creator of all material things, etc. and so forth.). Logic is inherent in the universe we find ourselves in- in the very material universe. Two rocks can't exist in the same place, so we induce from that and countless other empirical experiences the rules of logic which are sure guides to all sorts of material and conceptual phenomena. There is no god required or evident in their origin or ongoing workings, except one imaginatively implanted by the over-heated theist. Logic does not have to be justified, other than its inductive discovery by man (with the added observation that evolution has equipped us mentally to learn and deal with logic reasonably well, as it also does the learning of language and the like, for obvious reasons). It simply is part of our universe, wherever that may have issued from, whether god, superstrings, a vacuum, or whatever.


"The laws of logic can not be avoided, the laws of logic can not be accounted for in a Materialist universe. Therefore, the laws of logic are one of the many evidences that without God you can't prove anything at all."

Well, this depends on what you mean by "accounted for". If you mean a causal explanation by which some known precursor turns into logic by a documented process, then neither disputant has an account. If you mean making up a super-person totem figure and pinning every as-yet mystery on his mysterious properties, then the theist has indeed "accounted for" logic, and the atheist has not.

cont..

Burk Braun said...

"They are contingent, they lose their necessity, universality, and invariance. Why should a law of logic, which is verified in one domain of experience, by the way, be taken as true for unexperienced domains as well? Why should we universalize or generalize about the laws of logic- especially in a materialistic universe, not subject to the control of a personal God?"

This is how induction works- from the particular to the general. Logic is indeed an extensive abstract system, all supported by its self-consistency and then ultimately by its consistency with properties in the universe. Everything is logical .. except religion, which accommodates itself by creating an imaginary realm of the "supernatural" in which to locate all its illogic.

Also one might ask by the way how Bahnsen comes up with the idea that god is the source of all logic. The old testament, where the activities of creation take place, offers precious little logic at all, and no explicit story of the creation of logic. Thus logic could just as well have pre-existed god as god pre-existed logic.


Stein: "If I said, "How did that car that's parked in the parking lot - the red car - how did it get there?" And you say "General Motors made it," that doesn't explain how the car got there."

Actually, this is a much better answer than "God made it", since there is no dispute that GM exists, and we have quite extensive empirical knowledge about how GM causes cars to be made. So Mr. Stein gives up rather too much here. Of god we know nothing useful in explaining the world, let alone logic.


"When asked about Hume, and the skepticism that he generated about induction or the uniformity of nature, we don't hear an answer coming forth."

Let me supply one. Hume was speaking about absolute certainty- that we have no right to it, even in the most well-characterized physical "laws". And he was correct, since all such conclusions are based on limited evidence from the past. But our knowledge is all probabilistic, we being satisfied for our practical and even theoretical needs with less than absolute certainty. The 99.99999999% certainty of the sun rising tomorrow is quite enough to base whatever we wish upon it, whether our morning routine, or finer calculations of space probes travelling through the solar system.

And likewise with the atheism that Mr. Stein propounds, which is not 100% certain that there is no god, but that the idea is lacking in remotely plausible evidence, let alone sufficient evidence, let alone preponderant, let alone 99% evidence or anything of the sort.


"The answer is that God created the world, and this world reflects the uniformity that He imposes on it by His governing, and our thinking is to reflect the same consistency or logical coherence that is in God's thinking."

Well, if one goes by the book of Job, or countless other parts of the bible, consistency and coherence is not god's strong suit.


"Not all will own up to Him as their heavenly Father. Not all will submit to Him. Some continue to rebel. Some continue to devise their fools' errands and rationalizations of why they don't have to believe in Him."

Now we get to the heart of the matter- the hectoring and Islamic-style demand to submit to the priest's fanatasy figure- the totem of absolute power and domination by which the priest gains worldly power by the insinuation of special relations. I understand why the priest would want to perpetuate this cult and do so in as hypnotic and petulant a way as possible, but why anyone would want to take him seriously ... that is another matter.


"Well, it's very relevant, because what I do in that doctoral dissertation is to show that there are some people who know the truth and yet work very hard to convince themselves that it's not true."

Doctor, heal thyself!

Rhology said...

Burk,

Why not take your off-topic rant to a relevant thread?

Besides, it's not as if we haven't been over similar ground before, and you've proven incorrigible. You think you have sthg new to share?

Andrew said...

"And likewise with the atheism that Mr. Stein propounds, which is not 100% certain that there is no god, but that the idea is lacking in remotely plausible evidence, let alone sufficient evidence, let alone preponderant, let alone 99% evidence or anything of the sort."

The problem is that you guys claim there is no evidence, but then disallow any and all claims of evidence. It's really quite a convenient way to argue. That way you can sound convincing while avoiding the impossibility of having to prove a negative.

Burk Braun said...

Hi, Andrew-

Yes, this is a core epistemological question. As I said, the theist has an account, just not one that proceeds from known and commonly accepted premises to logical conclusions. The theist accounts of "everything" and "logic" and so forth derive from no facts and provide no enlightenment. When attempts have been made to ground the origin/nature of something in theism, about which we do have facts, or would soon have facts, the attempt has failed miserably. Examples include the solar system, lightning, the design of biology, and the soul-dependent nature of consciousness. In short, everything about whose nature or origin which we know anything has nothing to do with god.

James Swan said...

I don't have time to go into a full discussion on the Bahnsen debate. It is off topic.