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How a group of California nuns challenged the Catholic Church

Immaculate Heart College Art Department c. 1955. Photograph by Fred Swartz. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.
File 20171130 30912 dfi9ep.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Immaculate Heart College Art Department c. 1955.
Photograph by Fred Swartz. Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

(The Conversation) — California in the 1960s was the epicenter for spiritual experimentation. Indian gurus and New Age prophets, Jesus freaks and Scientologists all found followings in the Golden State.

But among those looking for personal and social transformation, the unlikeliest seekers may have been a small community of Roman Catholic religious: the Immaculate Heart Sisters.

Theirs was, as I discovered in my research on the order, a compelling spiritual saga, culminating in a showdown with the Catholic hierarchy. The story of that conflict spotlights the impact of the California dream on a Church in transition.

Who were the Immaculate Heart Sisters?

The Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was founded in Spain in 1848. Twenty-three years later, at the invitation of the bishop of California, 10 sisters came to the United States.

Initially, the nuns worked with the poor, but pivoted later to education. In 1886 they began teaching in Los Angeles. Over the next several decades, they staffed Catholic schools, started a convent, and founded a high school and a college. The college, though, closed in 1981 due to financial problems. Among the high school’s most famous graduates is Meghan Markle, the fiancee of Prince Harry.

In 1924, the order separated from Spain. The women renamed themselves the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The “new” order flourished: By the 1960s, it had 600 members, most of whom were teachers. And by 1967 almost 200 sisters worked in Los Angeles’ Catholic schools. More served in their own order’s educational institutions.

Led by broad-minded mother superiors, their order and their college were intellectually rigorous and open to diverse perspectives. They welcomed female speakers such as social activist Dorothy Day to campus as well as Protestant, Jewish and even Hindu religious leaders.

Changes in Rome

Meanwhile, change was stirring at the Vatican, the center of world Catholicism. In 1959, Pope John XXIII had invited Roman Catholic leaders to discuss the role of the Church in the modern world. From 1962 to 1965, this Second Vatican Council debated Catholicism’s future. Centuries had passed with little change in Church teaching, ritual, community life and worldview. But now the council would, in the words of the pope, “open the windows and let in the fresh air.”

Catholic leaders reviewed everything from interreligious dialogue to the role of the Church in the modern world. They even updated the traditional liturgy. The language changed from Latin to the vernacular, priests faced the people and popular music was welcomed into Mass.

The debate over Vatican II’s achievements continues today. At the time, many Catholics were excited by the innovations, but others preferred the Church as it was. They were not eager to see the council’s intentions put into practice.

James Francis Cardinal Mcintyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles, U.S., left.
AP Photo/Mario Torrisi

Among these conservatives was James Francis Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles.

Challenging the Church hierarchy

Following the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, the Immaculate Heart Sisters decided to review and renew their religious life. In 1963, the sisters began a multi-year study of their spiritual practice, community structure and mission. They met regularly to talk and pray about the future of their order.

According to Anita Caspary, the order’s head at the time, the nuns were inspired by the Second Vatican Council; the spirit of the times (that is, the 1960s); and the growth of diverse populations that were roiling Southern California.

Sister Anita Caspary.
AP Photo/David S. Smith

She later wrote that in this “historic moment of faith and freedom,” the community saw itself as “part of the women’s struggle for equal status in the mid-20th century.”

Many of the council’s directives did indeed reflect cultural shifts, such as reaching out to the modern, secular world, that had inspired the sisters. But the women also were inspired by trends closer to home. For example, Caspary and her community were intrigued by humanistic psychology, the psychological school that emphasized personal growth and fulfillment and which had a significant West Coast following.

Until the 1960s, the women had followed Church rules that governed their religious as well as personal lives. Now, rather than assume that they all needed to pray, study or meditate in the same way or at the same time, they encouraged individual experimentation. When they did worship together, they wanted the freedom to decide when, where and how to do so.

Likewise, the sisters sought relief from Church mandates that controlled their daily activities, ranging from what they wore and what time they went to bed to which books they were allowed to read.

Sisters of the Immaculate Heart College preparing for a spring festival.
Image courtesy of the Corita Art Center, Immaculate Heart Community, Los Angeles.

On October 14, 1967, the sisters celebrated what they called Promulgation Day, the announcement of plans for their order’s renewal. A new vision for their lives and their work, the document, for example, said that sisters who taught in religious schools would be allowed to pursue teaching credentials and graduate degrees to professionalize their work. Those who did not feel the call to teach could find other careers.

Additionally, each sister could choose the length, time and type of her individual prayer, and group prayer would be shaped by the community. They no longer had to seek permission from the mother superior for the small decisions of daily life. They would be free to set their bedtimes, see a doctor or make a quick trip to the store.

Opposition to the sisters

Two days later, on Oct. 16, a delegation of six sisters sat in the office of Los Angeles’ Cardinal McIntyre. Furious with the sisters’ plans for renewal, he first asked about about their dress: Did they indeed intend to wear street clothes to their classrooms? Caspary said they might, and an angry McIntyre ended the meeting.

Even when the cardinal’s men persuaded him to continue the conversation, he refused to accept the order’s plan for renewal. Instead, he berated their defiance and doubted their commitment to religious life. As of June 1968, he told them, they would no longer teach in the city’s Catholic schools.

Over the next six months, the sisters and the cardinal presented formal cases to emissaries from the Vatican. Each side also sought support from Church colleagues and from the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, many newspapers played up the conflict as if the entire fight hinged on whether or not the sisters wore their traditional habits or street clothes.

By spring, the message was clear: The Vatican would support the cardinal. According to official pronouncements, the women’s experimentation went too far. They had not, in other words, worked within the guidelines of the male hierarchy.

Rather than give up their vision for religious renewal, however, 350 of the order’s 400 sisters began planning a new lay community outside the Church.

A new vision

By the start of 1970, many of the Immaculate Heart sisters had decided to renounce their vows and reorganize as a lay community. The new group, the Immaculate Heart Community, was open to laypeople as well as clergy, men as well as women.

In the intervening years, most of the innovations that the sisters sought – including professionalizing standards, experimenting with community worship and giving sisters control of their daily activities – were adopted by Catholics across the country.

The Immaculate Heart Sisters drew on their time and place to create a new vision of religious community. Their sources ranged from the reforms of the Second Vatican Council to the writings of California’s humanist psychologists. They also included women’s liberation, the anti-war movement and the countercultural wave that rolled outside their convent door.

The California dream and its promise of new possibilities was central to the spiritual journey of the Immaculate Heart Sisters. It continues to inspire a new generations of seekers in and out of the Church.

(Diane Winston is associate professor and Knight Center Chair in Media & Religion at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.)

Read more about the past and future of the California Dream. This series is published in collaboration with KQED.

About the author

Diane Winston

40 Comments

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  • Their web site says it all: “As a diverse and vibrant community, we are formed by insights from eco-feminist and justice spiritualities.”

  • The closing line on this article should actually be edited to read:

    It continues to inspire a new generations of seekers …..out of the Church.

  • This one subtitle in the article says it all:
    “Who WERE the Immaculate Heart Sisters?

    Their innovations were so marvelous that their vocations dried up and they no longer exist as a Catholic Religious order: absolute decimation and self-destruction.

    That’s a wonderful outcome! They did just a terrific job!

    With “successful” outcomes like that what does failure look like?

  • Does rather seem that they’ve worked out how to be decent, moral people rather than programmed, nonthreatening tools of the religious hierarchy, doesn’t it?

    After all, isn’t inspiring others to to live a full, moral and exciting life (the only one we know we have) without harming others something we should all aspire to?

  • Interesting how people who seek to lead ethical lives within an established framework come to find the framework isn’t all that ethical. It’s a very tough call people make when they take a good hard look at their own operating systems. I was raised Catholic, and I dearly loved my Catholic family members and many of the priests and nuns who educated me. But as usual, I found myself confronting enormous contradictions between church teaching and reality. And on balance, I had to let the church thing go. It was scary. I was all alone (or so I thought at the time). And I was very young. I was completely astonished when my mother found out I wasn’t going to church any more, and instead of some argument about whether there was or wasn’t a “God”, which was what I expected, she was terribly angry and said accusingly, “So, you’re giving up your religion?” “My religion?” This was simply our family’s religion. Apparently the veracity of it wasn’t the important thing at all, but the tribal cohesiveness was. This made no sense to me at all. I loved my family just the same. I had simply come to realize that some of the things we all purported to “believe in” were iffy, at best. And I didn’t make a scene about it either. I wasn’t out to “convert” anyone to my way of thinking.

    I think that’s one of the worst things religion does – convince people that their entire ethical framework depends upon the religion. Like without the religion I was suddenly free to go murder people at will, and I would instantly start pursuing that agenda. Seriously?? I think my mother was astonished to find I was still the same girl I was before. Pleasant, cheerful, and eager to please my family. Just without the religion bit.

  • Te high school Meghan Mrrkel attended is still Catholic and still progressive and feminist. So they did leave a legacy

  • Yes, if “programmed, nonthreatening tools of the religious hierarchy” was what they were previously.

    However, if you believe that, either:
    1) you are unthinkingly swallowing the secularist, outrageously uninformed and biased mischaracterization of religious life, or
    2) you have no personal knowledge of religious life yourself and its vocation as spouses of Christ, or
    3) both.

    Don’t judge what you don’t know or understand… That’s what the psychologists involved in the IHM “renewal” did and – on their own testimony – they all regretted the destruction of the Immaculate Heart Sisters.

  • My father was a priest – I have a sister who was a nun.

    I have no vocation as a spouse of Christ

    I rejoice if they are inspiring a new generation of seekers outside the church.
    If that is judging – I’ll keep on judging.

  • This is not a question of those who must leave the priesthood or religious life for some reason and then inspire others in the Faith once they return to the lay state.

    It’s a question of destroying the entire order of the Immaculate Heart Sisters, which had 600 nuns when the “renewal” began — 300 of which left within the first 2 years of the so-called “renewal” process. The remaining 300 left in the years that followed….”And then there were none…” None!

    Even the psychologists running the “renewal” program stopped it after 2 years into a 3 year grant because they realized they had destroyed the order, when they had genuinely thought they were going to help build it up — and along with the IHM, their methods also destroyed a number of other religious communities.

    In fact, these very psychologists admit that they led the Sisters into unchecked sexual promiscuity, encouraging them to give into “urges” without foreseeing the sexual destruction their counsel would let loose within the order.

    These are not “moral, decent” developments. And this article is celebrating it without even addressing the facts which led to the complete dissolution of the IHM Order.

    The Bishop became alarmed after 300 IHM Sisters petitioned to leave the Order in just 2 years’ time. That’s not renewal, it’s destruction of a religious order with an entirely different vocation than that of seculars.

    A natural secular standard cannot be applied to a religious community, wherein its members are called to extraordinary holiness of life and union with God.

    By trying to do so, these psychologists destroyed a thriving order and its entire mission within the Church.

  • I have no knowledge of “the facts which led to the complete dissolution of the IHM Order.” other than those in this article and your comments. I therefore have no position on that detail.

    “a thriving order and its entire mission within the Church.” – by what criteria was it “thriving”?
    You are assuming that it’s “mission within the church” was valuable – valuable to whom? Teaching people that they should live in fear of a fictional being and the structure that thrives on that fear is not valuable to any but the controlling authority.

    “A natural secular standard cannot be applied to a religious community, wherein its members are called to extraordinary holiness of life and union with God.” I agree – the artificial and irrational construct of “God” – let alone of union with an unlikely being of dubious reality is incompatible with secular standards. I welcome service which benefits humanity – I can’t see how promoting myths and enslaving minds benefits more than a tiny but powerful minority of humanity.

  • I can see now from your reply that 1) you do not believe in God and 2) you evidently do not even believe in history, a history knowable and readily available to the entire human race.

    As to the first, I am sorry to learn that you think of God as a “fictional being” and a “dubious reality”. I can assure you, His reality is anything but dubious and fictional. There are countless proofs of His existence.

    For one, the scholastic proofs posited by St. Thomas Aquinas, which no one has ever been able to refute with honesty and intelligence; and secondarily, the proofs of His existence through miracles and divine revelation during the course of history; and His clear intervention in the lives of countless people.

    Even science itself is proving more and more there must be an Intelligent Designer as ongoing discoveries uncover more and more the mind-boggling irreducible complexities in His creation.

    My family and I can attest to His omnipotence in situations where all human solutions are despaired of, not to mention His manifestations in the spiritual realm wherein He makes Himself clearly and undeniably known to those who love Him.

    But “For those who do believe, no proof is necessary; for those who do not believe, no proof is possible…” And yet, I hope one day you come to know this God of Infinite Power and Love, for He is knowable, and it is possible even in this life to experience His Presence and accompaniment.

    As to the latter, and your concerns about “service which benefits humanity”, I would suggest you study in history the transformative impact of Christianity and Religious Orders on the world and the well-being of the human race.

    Countless hospitals, universities, schools and charities were founded by religious orders to embrace and serve the needs of humanity — NO OTHER culture or “religion” has equaled the work of Catholicism in this regard, OR EVEN COME CLOSE.

    My grandmother was one of its beneficiaries…entering a Catholic sanatorium with TB (where she was cared for by devoted nuns free of charge) at a very young age with 2 children deprived of her care.

    She entered the sanatorium in despair and while there for nearly 9 years, separated from her family, the religious atmosphere transformed her despair into love and hope and peace and — yes, even joy, and gave her an eternal vision. She died a saint.

    And as for the historical Christ — He existed without a doubt, and preached He was the Son of God without a doubt — and on His teaching were built entire Civilizations of art and culture and beneficence toward mankind in the services provided by so many religious and priests.

    Only a willfully prejudiced mind would deny the excellence and fruits of Christian Civilization — and would you maintain that all the 2,000 years of Christian history is based on a madman who “claimed” He was God…..? And all His Apostles were madmen, too, for having written the Gospels and gone to their deaths for preaching Christ….?

    Lastly, given that you do not believe in God and do not even hold the Catholic Faith, to comment on the merits of any religious order, as regards their internal governance, vision, purpose and ideals would be akin to me passing judgment on the interior workings of an Ashram or Synagogue, as if I were qualified to do so. I would be a fool for attempting to comment on what I do not know or understand.

    I am truly and sincerely sorry that you do not know the God of the Ages, the God of Love and Mercy and Judgment, the God Whom we may call “Abba, Father….” , for He is truly a God of Love and paternity, of Whom it is rightly said: “Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.”

    May you know Him, even as He knows you…..I will keep you in prayer.

    God bless….

  • Also, further to my reply, you can read the history of the IHM demise at the link below, together with the firsthand testimony of the psychologists themselves who deemed their intervention was a disaster and ruinous for the IHM Order, as well as other Orders.

    Any article on the IHM Sisters that does not include such firsthand testimony is hardly objective or reliable.

    https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/non-serviam-sale-of-shuttered-convent-recalls-sisters-revolt

  • You present a good case against religion – a very good one.
    I’m sad for you that you didn’t develop a relationship with Jesus.

  • “By the 1960s there were 600 professed Sisters in 68 elementary schools, 11 high schools, one college, and two hospitals.” (Wiki)

    This was was the thriving state of the IHM Sisters before the disastrous interventions that destroyed them.

    So now they have ONE private school. An amazingly prosperous “legacy”….

    And, I also read an article recently in connection with the announcement of her engagement to Prince Henry stating that Meghan Merkel commented she had not learned very much during her education there. If I can find the article, I will provide a citation. Her having attended school there is of no significance or merit in and of itself.

    BEFORE: http://www.anitacaspary.com/uploads/5/7/9/1/57917505/6162158_orig.jpg

    AFTER: http://www.anitacaspary.com/uploads/5/7/9/1/57917505/________64916.jpg

  • I fail to see a “good case against religion” in this person’s comments. What, saying that religion tries to “convince people that their entire ethical framework depends upon the religion?

    Where does religion teach that? Catholicism certainly doesn’t. Individuals may say such things, but formal religion doesn’t teach that.

    Only people who have not truly studied religion — in this case Catholicism — make such baseless statements. They comment on what they do not actually know — only on what they THINK they know.

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen — the famous TV personality who gained the admiration of the entire nation with his program and its teachings on the Faith for years said the following: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

    In fact, to illustrate why your comment concerning religion is incorrect, Catholicism CLEARLY TEACHES that there is a natural law written in the heart of each human being by virtue of the soul infused by God when it was created.

    It is this natural law which informs the healthy conscience that murder is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that neglect of the helpless, a baby or the elderly is wrong. Formal religion may help to educate concerning these matters, but the natural law is what informs the conscience first and foremost.

    This natural law guiding the conscience is independent of any formal religion.

    That is why every human being alive will be judged by God based on their fidelity to the natural law written in their hearts, guiding them as to what is morally right and morally wrong, even those who have never had the benefit of formal religion.

    However, the natural law written in ones heart can be progressively obscured by sin, by lacks of generosity, by unbridled sensuality and immorality. The “conscience” no longer guides because it has been darkened by sin. This is where formal religion can provide guidance and support (although God Himself will try to enlighten the soul as well) — to right a darkened conscience which has habitually violated the natural law and bring it to repentance.

  • I, too, am sad that this person has never discovered the joy, the adventure and the blessedness of knowing Christ personally. Once He is truly known, He is loved.

    However, I do fail to see a “good case against religion” in this person’s comments.
    To explain why I say that, I will restate my reply to Croquet_Player above:

    Saying that religion tries to “convince people that their entire ethical framework depends upon the religion” is simply not true.

    Where does religion teach that? Catholicism certainly doesn’t. Individuals may say such things, but formal religion doesn’t teach that.

    Only people who have not truly studied religion — in this case Catholicism — make such baseless statements. They comment on what they do not actually know — only on what they THINK they know.

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen — the famous TV personality who gained the admiration of the entire nation with his program and its teachings on the Faith for years said the following: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

    In fact, to illustrate why this commentor’s assessment is wrong, Catholicism CLEARLY TEACHES that there is a natural law written in the heart of each human being by virtue of the soul infused by God when it was created.

    It is this natural law which informs the healthy conscience that murder is wrong, that stealing is wrong, that neglect of the helpless, a baby or the elderly is wrong. Formal religion may help to educate concerning these matters, but the natural law is what informs the conscience first and foremost.

    This natural law guiding the conscience is independent of any formal religion.

    That is why every human being alive will be judged by God based on their fidelity to the natural law written in their hearts, guiding them as to what is morally right and morally wrong, even those who have never had the benefit of formal religion.

    However, the natural law written in ones heart can be progressively obscured by sin, by lacks of generosity, by unbridled sensuality and immorality. The “conscience” no longer guides because it has been darkened by sin. This is where formal religion can provide guidance and support (although God Himself will try to enlighten the soul as well) — to right a darkened conscience which has habitually violated the natural law and bring it to repentance.

  • “I can see now from your reply that 1) you do not believe in God and 2) you evidently do not even believe in history, a history knowable and readily available to the entire human race.
    As to the first, I am sorry to learn that you think of God as a “fictional being” and a “dubious reality”. I can assure you, His reality is anything but dubious and fictional. There are countless proofs of His existence.
    For one, the scholastic proofs posited by St. Thomas Aquinas, which no one has ever been able to refute with honesty and intelligence”
    Throw a couple at me and I’ll try to respond.

    “ and secondarily, the proofs of His existence through miracles and divine revelation during the course of history; and His clear intervention in the lives of countless people.”
    Your idea of clear is not the same as mine – care to provide evidence of miracles and revelations that prove the existence of God – and I mean prove, not can be interpreted that way through faith

    “Even science itself is proving more and more there must be an Intelligent Designer as ongoing discoveries uncover more and more the mind-boggling irreducible complexities in His creation.”
    No it isn’t. Just try explaining how an intelligent designer runs the urethra through the prostate, creates a totally unnecessary choke risk by confusing the air and food intake systems and is happy with koalas that have the pouch opening in the worst possible place for protection of the babe they are “designed” to protect. (Three of many).

    “My family and I can attest to His omnipotence in situations where all human solutions are despaired of, not to mention His manifestations in the spiritual realm wherein He makes Himself clearly and undeniably known to those who love Him.” I’m sure you can – that does not mean that your memories and interpretations are evidence for a deity.

    But “For those who do believe, no proof is necessary; for those who do not believe, no proof is possible…” And yet, I hope one day you come to know this God of Infinite Power and Love, for He is knowable, and it is possible even in this life to experience His Presence and accompaniment.
    “As to the latter, and your concerns about “service which benefits humanity”, I would suggest you study in history the transformative impact of Christianity and Religious Orders on the world and the well-being of the human race.
    Countless hospitals, universities, schools and charities were founded by religious orders to embrace and serve the needs of humanity — NO OTHER culture or “religion” has equaled the work of Catholicism in this regard, OR EVEN COME CLOSE.
    My grandmother was one of its beneficiaries…entering a Catholic sanatorium with TB (where she was cared for by devoted nuns free of charge) at a very young age with 2 children deprived of her care.
    She entered the sanatorium in despair and while there for nearly 9 years, separated from her family, the religious atmosphere transformed her despair into love and hope and peace and — yes, even joy, and gave her an eternal vision. She died a saint.”
    Look – good people do good things and bad people do bad things. Catholic (and other religion) institutions have inflicted gross harm on many people, and then covered up the abuse. That doesn’t make Catholicism evil any more than the fact that some catholics doing good things means Catholicism is good. Your juxtaposition of some good and religion is untenable.

    “And as for the historical Christ — He existed without a doubt, and preached He was the Son of God without a doubt — and on His teaching were built entire Civilizations of art and culture and beneficence toward mankind in the services provided by so many religious and priests.
    Only a willfully prejudiced mind would deny the excellence and fruits of Christian Civilization — and would you maintain that all the 2,000 years of Christian history is based on a madman who “claimed” He was God…..? And all His Apostles were madmen, too, for having written the Gospels and gone to their deaths for preaching Christ….?”
    No – the Christ (even Jesus of Nazareth) did not exist without doubt – though the probability is that there was an itinerant preacher around whom stories accumulated. Do you really think that a man is “the Son of God” because books written long after his death claim he said so? – I’ve a bridge you might be interested in….
    As to his teachings – they also lead to great wickedness – genocide, the (ongoing) downgrading of women, the wilful destruction of knowledge, and the abuse of many thousands in every way imaginable to man.
    Where have I suggested madness?

    “Lastly, given that you do not believe in God and do not even hold the Catholic Faith, to comment on the merits of any religious order, as regards their internal governance, vision, purpose and ideals would be akin to me passing judgment on the interior workings of an Ashram or Synagogue, as if I were qualified to do so. I would be a fool for attempting to comment on what I do not know or understand.”
    Which bit of “I have no knowledge of “the facts which led to the complete dissolution of the IHM Order.” other than those in this article and your comments. I therefore have no position on that detail.” Do you not understand?

    “I am truly and sincerely sorry that you do not know the God of the Ages, the God of Love and Mercy and Judgment, the God Whom we may call “Abba, Father….” , for He is truly a God of Love and paternity, of Whom it is rightly said: “Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.””
    It may well so be said – rationally it is absolute nonsense of course. But if you want to pretend that good things are due to God you have to accept that bad things are also – unless you deny that he is capable of overcoming the wickednesses he knowingly set in motion.

    “May you know Him, even as He knows you…..I will keep you in prayer.
    God bless….”

  • Having watched, and laughed at, Michael Vorbis(?) on YouTube I’m reluctant to click the link – and since I’m commenting on the result rather than the process I’ll pass.

  • It’s just a factual article that gives a very revealing, firsthand history – not written by Voris, whom I can never bear to watch either 😉

    Also, I thought of you when I came upon this video by a formerly atheist, brilliant scientist who unfolds just some of the proofs for God’s existence. You might like it:
    https://youtu.be/dsbj7EN1Uzs

    Praying for you. God bless!

  • About this bridge……..

    I’ve just spent 40 minutes listening to a very clever man justifying his irrational belief by standing logic on it’s head.

    The result – spurious logical- sounding irrationality dressed up in some scholarship. – argumentum ad verecundiam

    He starts with the old silliness of telling us the universe had a beginning, and that therefore there must be a beginner. Reality is we know there was a rapid expansion of a singularity, we don’t know if this was THE BEGINNING or just a beginning and there is no logic to support a beginner – and if there were a beginner (why there should be is not addressed) who began that beginner. We don’t know – but he makes an assumption that suits his personal beliefs and expects us to ignore the lack of justification.

    He then says he doesn’t like the vagueness of Hinduism and the Koran (has he heard of the Hadith?) and tries to make a case for the Bible being an accurate forecast of the real world.

    He claims it is amazing that Moses got so much right. In reality we know that Moses didn’t write Genesis – in fact there is no independent support for the idea that Moses ever existed – and his statistical evidence is an awful mix of reinterpreting the biblical stories in hindsight, treating later works as though they were written without any knowledge of the earlier ones (certainly wrong), selectively reading the verses he can fit to his preferences and ignoring others which don’t support them (confirmation bias) and treating words used (presumably by Maimonides) as though they were dozens of centuries older than we have any reason to believe they are.

    He claims that the Bible contains the source of the Scientific Method – when most scholars attribute that to the early Greeks.

    He turns the evidence on its head when he suggests (wrongly) that speciation hasn’t occurred since humans evolved. It has and is still observed. He then uses this erroneous statement to suggest that God created and destroyed species so that the earth would develop to support humanity – whereas the evidence is clear that lifeforms (including homo sapiens/pan narrans) evolved in response to changing environments – not were started in order to cause those changes.

    In all a very sad forty minutes of a very clever man who is so convinced of his beliefs that he can manipulate selected data and his own thinking to arrive, entirely without evidence or logic, at the conclusion from which he started.

  • Hmmmm….let’s see…in this one thread alone you have:

    1) rendered judgment on an internal matter of great consequence within the Catholic Faith, even though you say you don’t believe in God or hold the Catholic Faith, therefore are not qualified to understand the significance, nature or ramifications of the matter being discussed (no more than I would if I were to render judgment, as I have said elsewhere, on the nature and discipline of various communities associated with an Ashram, a Mosque or a Synagogue)

    2) Dismissed the historical reality of Moses and – by consequence – the entire biblical history that goes with that (so I suppose the Ten Commandments ought to be attributed to some brilliant anonymous author — have you ever seen a more perfect plan for humanity than the Ten Commandments….?)

    3) Passed over in silence the fact that Christ declared Himself God, resurrected from the dead (a fact which many atheists stumble upon, since it is historically established, even by non-Christian historians of that period, that this was claimed by the very soldiers guarding His sealed tomb, who were then bribed to be silent on the matter, lest it cause some “difficulties”), seen by many disciples following his Resurrection, including the hundreds present at His Ascension (unless you also want to call the Evangelists delusional liars) changed the entire course of human history and established a religion (actually the prophesied fulfillment of Judaism) that inspired the most enriched and ennobling civilizations since the dawn of Creation, bestowing upon the human person a dignity and protections never before assured them.

    4) Disparaged a scientist so brilliant that at the age of 8 he was reading University level books of science and physics, knowing at that tender age he would become (and is) an astro-physicist, who proceeds in the video in question to apply the scientific method to the 25 separate accounts of Creation in the Bible, using each account to challenge and either validate or debunk his successive conclusions, only to find that they are all in completely perfect scientific accord with one another…

    Further disparaged his scientifically-based/informed (and LOGICAL) conclusion that the universe is not eternal and must have had a beginning — by virtue of his knowledge of its entropic nature, the theory of relativity, not to mention that entropy itself dictates the universe is aging and deteriorating — ergo cannot be eternal and must have a beginning, AND based upon the fact he must know something you don’t since he is an astrophysicist;

    Failed to prove — just as Richard Dawkins does — how “nothing created something” (the classic Dawkins position, enunciated with his own mouth)…

    And as far as speciation is concerned, I had — in fact — a discussion with a scientist who obtained his doctorate at Princeton who explained it is not clearly defined what a “species” is, and the term can be used broadly or narrowly. It is clear that this scientist was referring to the species in the broad sense as delineated in scripture (not — like — one kind of fruit fly becoming another variation of fruit fly). And no, he didn’t say God destroyed the species, but that the changing nature of the planet over time brought about their demise — like, um, the dinosaurs….?

    Oh, but then, perhaps you are an astrophysicist and can disprove all of the above? Or maybe a geologist who can shed light on the entire geological record…..? Or — something I would love to see — an explanation on the problem that basic math represents to the fossil record: i.e. where there ought to be a mathematically greater preponderance of transitional life forms, we only have the “beginning” and “end” discrete life forms in the fossil record. This stumped Darwin too — Hmmmm, I wonder why?

    Given all this, has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you may be so blinded (based on your dismissal of established facts, readiness to judge what you do not know and disparage those who do, and willingness to suspend logic) that God will never be able to make Himself known to you because you refuse to listen?

    Faith is a gift….a GIFT….we cannot have it by choice….we have it when God chooses to bestow it.

    NOTE: I had no faith at 20 years of age. I was one day driven to an extremity after my brothers (who did have faith) railed at me for the lifestyle I was living — assuredly further from God than you and many others will ever be.

    I had no idea what they were talking about and I just didn’t believe anything they were saying I should believe.

    I can remember to this day going to my room crying after their latest attack, looking up through the ceiling of my room at a God I did not know, and saying to Him: “I don’t know Who You are…I don’t know what my brothers are talking about….I don’t understand this whole religion thing….PLEASE reveal Yourself to me…..!”

    Exactly one week later I was over a friend’s apartment and was sitting at the kitchen table. I decided to open a book on the Faith someone in the family had left in my room. I began to read it, and just a moment or two after I had begun doing so, an “explosion” of light poured into my mind from above me — like a bolt of lightning that filled my entire mind and made me understand in a single moment what it often takes others years to absorb, with a depth of clarity and knowledge beyond any human capacity to convey in that single instant of time.

    I was absolutely transformed, transfixed and compenetrated with the Catholic Faith in a single moment….I received in that instant the GIFT of Faith and Knowledge.

    I dropped the book I had been reading and said…“WHAT a FOOL I have been….”

    From that day forward, I never looked back…the path to God was clear and I have never been the same.

    I HOPE AND PRAY you will one day receive that gift…..ask God to convince you, and be OPEN to a truth you may not know unless it is revealed to you.

    God bless you.

  • 1 – You keep saying so – you don’t say how.

    2 – There is, so far as I’m aware, no evidence outside the Bible for Moses’s existence; nor for the captivity in Egypt, the Exodus or the conquest of the land of milk and honey. If you have such evidence please share it.

    3 – You believe those events happened – you offer no evidence other than a compilation of unsubstantiated reports written many years later.

    4 – I understand logic. Apparently you don’t.

    Your testimony is valid for you and irrelevant to the question of the existence of god(s) since it speaks only of your belief.

  • “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” Jesus Christ

    I really have no words left for — nor interest in debating — someone who can deny biblical events that changed the course of human history and shaped entire civilizations, who treats the Evangelists as delusional liars, the tombs of the Christian martyrs as the tombs of fools who died for their belief in a madman, and summarily chalks the Gospel accounts up to “unsubstantiated reports.

    I will continue praying for you…

    God bless!

  • It’s very simple.

    As far as deity/supernatural………….You believe that which you cannot demonstrate to be true. I don’t.

    Frankly – I’d be a little more impressed if you hadn’t repeated the suggestion that I called anyone a “madman”. I asked you to justify your misuse of the term before and now you repeat it. It does your (lack of) argument no good.

  • Okay….Tomorrow I will go around telling the world I am God. And I will repeat this to entire crowds who will sit spellbound at my feet; I will preach a moral code to be followed and choose 12 people to follow me and found a Church — and I will tell them: “Go forth baptizing all nations, teaching all that I have taught you….whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned.”

    I will also say: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you. If you eat my flesh and drink my blood, I will raise you up on the last day….”

    Then I will say: “I am the Resurrection and the Life…he who believes in me shall never die….” And many other such things.

    I guess if I did that, I would be considered certifiably insane, unless — of course — it were true…

    But if not, I would be delusional, and so would anyone who believed me, then established a Church in my name, offered the Sacraments and the Mass for 2,000 years saying it was my body and blood , as though I were actually God — even though I’m not — so we have ritual cannibalism…at least symbolically (boy are those sick people).

    Hmmm……this could get very interesting.

    It’s really very simple: EITHER CHRIST WAS GOD — EXACTLY WHO HE SAID HE WAS — OR HE WAS STARK, RAVING MAD, AND SO IS EVERYONE WHO HAS FOLLOWED HIM AND GIVEN THEIR LIVES FOR NOTHING FOR 2,000 YEARS.

    Whether you used the word “madman” or not, that’s the inescapable conclusion.

    I will pray for you…..no hard feelings, really….

    God bless

  • It’s really very simple: EITHER CHRIST WAS GOD — EXACTLY WHO HE SAID HE WAS — OR HE WAS STARK, RAVING MAD, AND SO IS EVERYONE WHO HAS FOLLOWED HIM AND GIVEN THEIR LIVES FOR NOTHING FOR 2,000 YEARS.

    Wrong

    There are multiple alternative explanations – just because they don’t fit your preferred false dichotomy doesn’t invalidate them.

    Perhaps “Christ” never existed.

    Perhaps Jesus of Nazareth existed but didn’t make the claims you think he did.

    Perhaps multiple itinerant teachers wandered the known world at that time (look up Apollonius of Tyana) and the stories about them coalesced around one – Jesus of Nazareth.

    Perhaps those who believe have been misled – convinced by a combination of their own situation and the (sometimes wilful) propaganda supplied to gain their trust (and their money).

    Perhaps belief in authority figures is so ingrained in some people that they are incapable of critical thought, not mad just applying reason inaccurately.

    Believe what you want, provided doing so harms only you, but don’t belittle your belief by misrepresentation.

  • Please….you are beginning to sound delusional yourself.

    Everything you say either implicates Christ, historians, evangelists, Christian martyrs or SOMEONE other than you as either being insane, “incapable of critical thought”, purveyors of “propaganda”, “applying reason inaccurately”, initmidated by “authority figures”, ad nauseum.

    And that…..over the course of 2,000 years, with billions of deluded followers offering a fake ritual Mass based on symbolic cannibalism, pretending to obtain forgiveness of sins by confessing them to priests, while actually embarrassing themselves pointlessly for 2 millenia!

    It’s all one big con job!! Oh…maybe just mistaken history based on someone who may never have existed, and/or never asked us to do ANY of this!

    Even Isaiah the Prophet was deluded when his “Suffering Servant” writings predicted precisely the life of Christ as it played out (but then, maybe Isaiah never existed, and the Crucifixion never happened either, and all of it was backwritten to fit with prophesies that were made up….!) Oh my!

    Only YOU stand as a watchword of sanity, credibility, critical thought and an unfailing sense of what is true historical fact….

    You are in complete denial of reality…..

    So I suppose we are in the year 2017 AD (Anno Domini), and the Moses who “never existed” was a mere “legend” in BC (Before Christ), because some other delusional people decided to sunder the calendar 2,000 years ago based on either:

    1) a man who never existed or
    2) an itinerant preacher who actually was not at all important, and completely misrepresented by those who followed him by making up things he said
    3) people who are incapable of critical thought so they figured they would split the calendar on whim, and that’s where this whole “Jesus” thing started…..

    Or…..?

    Excuse me, but you are beginning to sound like the agnostic version of a “flat earther….”, and they really scare me….

    I will carry you in my heart and prayers….really.

    God bless.

  • Oh…and this one really gets me: “Believe what you want, provided doing so harms only you”…

    Wow…..now I am guilty of self-harm because I am Catholic…..

    I have nothing further to say…..

    God bless….

  • “You are in complete denial of reality…..”

    I used to be but I grew out of superstitious belief in my early teens.

    If you could argue against my statements you wouldn’t need to misrepresent them would you.

    Not just the “madness” untruth – you also say “the Moses who “never existed” was a mere “legend” in BC (Before Christ)” when what I wrote was “there is no independent support for the idea that Moses ever existed”. No-one capable of operating a computer can possibly think the two are equivalents.

    When you are reduced to fighting demons that you have invented I question whether you are entitled to speculate about my grasp of reality.

  • Your understanding of English is poor.

    You are not accused of self-harm because you identify as Catholic – the choice of your brand of superstitious belief is as irrelevant as the choice of your toothpaste – you are enjoined not to hurt others by your belief.

  • “No-one capable of operating a computer can possibly think the two are equivalents…”

    Ummm….do you know the definition of sarcasm…..? it’s a literary device to show how extreme one finds another’s position if taken to its conclusion.

    As I said….I am not going to debate any longer…..you really do remind me of flat-earthers, and it’s impossible to debate them, too — they construct their own reality.

    God bless.

  • I’m wondering if you’re aware of how devious you’re being in this debate…?

    You raise several hypotheses – EG: there is no evidence that Moses existed and possibly Christ never existed OR Christ can’t be God (whose existence you also call dubious) even though he claimed to be – and then when your interlocutor follows *your* hypotheses to their obvious conclusions to develop the inferences of such a possibility, you perversely call it a misrepresentation.

    Perhaps you can tell me where those hypotheses would lead if not to those obvious conclusions, and why I’m not permitted to raise those conclusions for examination…?

    And then, on the other hand, you tried to suggest that the mass delusion of billions of Christians for the past 2,000 years is preferable, different or less absurd than saying Christ himself was a madman, which you classify as a wilful misrepresentation… But on your part it’s fine to say that billions of Christians have been deceived since he might never even have existed, or if he did, never taught anything they believe or do, and certainly could not have been God, since God doesn’t exist — or only does for the “superstitious”.

    So you perversely present a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario for the person you’re debating, who simply follows where your suggested hypotheses would lead in order to examine that conclusion for its considerations.

    You are simply – knowingly or unknowingly – setting a trap and trying to call the obvious conclusion a misrepresentation.

    Are you aware of how devious this is?

    This is normally what a debate with a person who’s not anchored in first principles or reality ends up… Just like a debate with a flat earther.

    I wish you well. I am praying for you. God bless

  • Right…..now “provided doing so harms only [me]” doesn’t mean what it says….So now I don’t understand English.

    You have shown yourself to be perverse and devious in debate…

    You obviously consider yourself a paragon of reason and enlightenment, while looking upon the credulous, ignorant masses of Christians and Jews over the course of thousands of years as “superstitionists” (your characterization – definition from the dictionary can be found below for sake of precision in understanding your choice of words) who are either irrational or don’t understand — or who distort — or who fabricate history or science to support their beliefs; and whose beliefs are wholly unsubstantiated “superstition” (again, your word) and “harmful” to others, but somehow not to oneself at the same time, provided the delusion is self-contained and we don’t “hurt others by [our] belief.”

    But, of course, you will somehow deny you actually said any of this in your earlier responses and/or call the obvious and clear meaning of your words and hypotheses a “misrepresentation”, but the record stands and speaks for itself.

    My dear, you’re the one who is harmful to others…

    God bless.

    SUPERSTITION: (since my “understanding of English is poor”, by your assessment, I looked it up in the dictionary to be sure I understood the word you used)
    n. An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.
    n. A belief, practice, or rite irrationally maintained by ignorance of the laws of nature or by faith in magic or chance.
    n. A fearful or abject state of mind resulting from such ignorance or irrationality.
    n. a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation
    n. an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God
    [sorry, it appears the dictionary thinks there’s a God; can’t help that] resulting from superstition
    n. a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary

  • Religion is a form of superstitious belief – as are homeopathy and most other Alt-med practices.

    Superstitious belief leads to a denigration of effective thinking and a tendency to rely on impractical expectation over rational behaviour.

    PS Dictionaries don’t think – those compiling them do, and, in order to do their job properly, are aware of the various irrational foibles that exist. So?

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