Monday, September 26, 2022

"Crossan Out" The Resurrection: A Defense Of A Bodily Resurrection


That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man. (Pope St. Pius X, para. #2, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, on the doctrines of the Modernists; Emphasis mine).

The "Jesus Seminar" was begun by New Testament "scholar" Robert Funk in the 1970s. It was Funk’s desire to rediscover the "historical Jesus" that was hidden, he believed, behind almost 2,000 years of Christian traditions, myths, and legends. The Jesus Seminar was created to examine the Gospels and other early Christian literature to discover who Jesus "truly" was and what He "truly" said. There was a dichotomy between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of Faith." This teaching spread rapidly in the early years of the Vatican II sect. It wasn't uncommon to hear the invalid "priests" coming out of Vatican II sect seminaries speak of "belief in the Resurrection;" but meaning not a physical rising of Christ from the dead, but only "spiritually" or "metaphorically."

Pivotal in this endeavor to undermine belief in Our Lord's physical Resurrection (and Divinity) is one John Dominic Crossan (b. 1934).  A once-devout Roman Catholic Irishman, he joined the monastic order of Servites and pursued the priesthood at Stonebridge Priory in Illinois, being ordained in 1957. In 1969, he left the priesthood, citing a desire to express his speculative theological views within the realm of academia without ecclesiastical repercussions. It sounded like a "persecuted theologian," but it was an excuse to "marry" Margaret Deganais, a professor at Loyola University Chicago with whom he had pursued and initiated a sexual relationship while he was a priest. Crossan also was a proponent of artificial contraception.  He went on to be a professor at DePaul University, where he taught heresy for 26 years.

For Crossan, the risen Christ is, optimistically, an ephemeral apparition, not a person possessing a transformed body. What’s important for Crossan isn’t substantiating the concrete physicality and historicity of Jesus’s Resurrection but coming to an understanding of how we may now positively construe the Gospel authors’ articulation that Christ is “risen” through their parables about Resurrection, which, like Jesus’s original parables, carried metaphorical import. Understanding the Resurrection as a meaning-laden parable enriched the early Church through its implications, not the least of which was “Jesus is Lord.” 

Therefore, Crossan affirms the Resurrection and the enduring Lordship of Jesus understood not in categories of a concrete, literal-historical Resurrection but in terms of a parabolic narrative (initiated by Jesus and advanced by the Apostles) not literal history. Christ was not raised from the dead except insofar as the Apostles wanted to carry on with His Message; so He "lived on." It is also possible that some of His disciples hallucinated, and saw a vision of Jesus which was how He "lived on" in those who turned their experience into a parable about "rising from the grave."

This, argues Crossan, is the original Christian way. But as we shall see, it is little more than a contemporary progressive way of addressing the Resurrection without having to subscribe to an antiquated and impossible world view replete with miracles, supernaturalism, and literalist commitments to Scripture. In short, it is the way of unbelief masquerading as “faith.” Here, we find another one of Modernism’s ideological commitments: anti-supernaturalism or, simply, Naturalism. Crossan rejects the idea of the miraculous through a redefinition of miracle as “a marvel that someone interprets as a transcendental action or manifestation.” (See Crossen, The Birth of Christianity, [1999], pg.303). 

Note that the onus falls on interpretation and that the miracle is not stated to be an act of God  but only attributed to be of God. Crossan says as much: “There must be . . . certain individuals or groups who interpret that marvel as an intervention by ancestors, spirits, divinities or God.” (Ibid) What was once a theological discussion has become an anthropological discussion for Crossan.

Jesus talked about resurrection and ascension, but these are metaphors of power, justice, and allegiance, not historical happenings. Jesus was crucified to death, and His discarded remains were consumed by wild dogs, says Crossan. (See Crossan, Jesus, A Revolutionary Biography, [2009], pgs.123–126). In essence Crossen is an atheist who sees Jesus as little more than a "special person in history" Whose life inspired His followers to write metaphors about Him. Resurrection, then, is all metaphor, simply metaphor, and really “one—but only one—of the metaphors used to express the sense of Jesus’ continuing presence with his followers and friends,” admits Crossan. (See Crossan and Richard G. Watts, Who Is Jesus?: Answers to Your Questions about the Historical Jesus, [1996], pg. 121).  Pope St. Pius X taught that Modernism leads to atheism. Certainly this suffices to show superabundantly by how many roads Modernism leads to the annihilation of all religion. The first step in this direction was taken by Protestantism; the second is made by Modernism; the next will plunge headlong into atheism. (Pascendi Dominici Gregis, para. #39). 

Crossen has reduced the Bible to a bunch of stories containing very little truth (the product of the so-called "Jesus Seminar"). He reduces the Resurrection to a metaphor. Although he talks about his "faith" and his "belief in the Resurrection" they have been stripped of all supernatural meaning. Bottom line: Crossen is, indeed, an atheist. Below is part of an interview Crossen gave to Alicia von Stamwitz in 2020:

Stamwitz: You approach your research from a strictly historical perspective. How does that affect your faith?

Crossen: It has strengthened my faith and made it far more viable. If you have faith but don’t have the historical background, you really have superstition.

If you are happy with a rather traditional don’t-ask-questions type of faith, my research is going to bother you the same way that a two-year-old will be bothered if you tell him there’s no Santa Claus. But at a certain point kids grow up, and at a certain point adults should grow up with their religion, too. What faith means for me is always asking questions. Borrowing from Socrates, I’d say the unexamined faith is probably superstition.

Stamwitz: And what’s your take on the Gospel’s accounts of miracles such as the healing power of Jesus?

Crossen: Anthropologists make a distinction between curing and healing. A good illustration of this is the movie Philadelphia. The character played by Tom Hanks isn’t cured. We know he’s going to die. So why do we feel good at the end of that movie? We feel good because he was healed. He was healed because his partner, his family, his colleagues — they all supported him. There was a whole community around him.

What I see Jesus doing when he heals people is bringing them into a new community. He takes in people who may see themselves as a burden or an embarrassment and brings them in. That’s all. However it’s done, somehow in this new community they are not a liability or a shame. They belong. I think that’s what actually happened. (See; Emphasis mine). 

Two things become apparent: (1) Crossen's "faith" is "asking questions" that make Christ into little more than a wise man, like Confucius, who was remembered through metaphorical stories; and (2) he rejects the supernatural, including God. There are no miracles, because the supernatural order does not exist. Within the "progressive Christianity movement" (Crossen and company are often given that appellation), the Resurrection is either:
  • metaphorical with no reality
  • the result of the hallucinations of Christ's disciples leading to metaphorical stories
  • spiritual but not physical (for those few who have not completely rejected the supernatural) 
What then, was the message that the Apostles wanted to pass on? "To love others unconditionally" (whatever that means), and make the most of this world.

Christ's Resurrection: The Miracle of a Physical Rising from the Dead
(For this section I wish to credit various theologians whose works I have condensed, most notably, Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology, [1955], 2:172-183. I take no credit for what is written.---Introibo). 

The physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a dogma of the Faith. The Fourth Lateran Council teaches that all men whether elect or reprobate, “will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear about with them” in imitation of Christ. The Creeds and professions of faith and conciliar definitions do not leave it doubtful that the Resurrection of the body is a dogma of faith. We will rise as Christ rose. The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the Creed of the Eleventh Council of Toledo, and the Creed of Leo IX all affirm this dogma of a physical Resurrection.

In the decree Lamentabili Sane, Pope St. Pius X condemned the following propositions of the Modernists:

36. The Resurrection of the Savior is not properly a fact of the historical order. It is a fact of merely the supernatural order (neither demonstrated nor demonstrable) which the Christian conscience gradually derived from other facts.

37. In the beginning, faith in the Resurrection of Christ was not so much in the fact itself of the Resurrection as in the immortal life of Christ with God.

This dogma is well attested:

Five Proofs of a Physical Resurrection.

1. The Empty Tomb.  One of the most fully substantiated facts surrounding Jesus’ resurrection is the empty tomb. Most New Testament scholars, even some liberal scholars, agree that solid historical fact stands behind the gospel claim that witnesses found Jesus’ tomb empty on that first Easter morning. Far from being a myth or legend, the report of the empty tomb has a very early date, fits well with what is known of the times archaeologically (concerning burial customs and tombs), and was never challenged, let alone refuted, by the contemporary enemies and critics of Christianity.

If the Jews or Romans had produced the body of Jesus, Christianity would have been disproved immediately. Therefore, the disciples could not have proclaimed a bodily resurrection unless Jesus’ tomb was indeed empty. In ancient Judaism, the concept of resurrection was considered only bodily in nature, not spiritual. The empty tomb requires an adequate explanation. For 2,000 years, Christians have argued that the only consistent explanation for the empty tomb is Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead.

2. Jesus’ Post-crucifixion Appearances. It was recorded that numerous people had intimate, empirical encounters with Jesus Christ after His death on the cross. A variety of people interacted with Him at various times and places. Witnesses of the Resurrection claimed to have seen, heard, and touched the resurrected Christ. The same Person Whom they saw executed three days before was now alive and in their midst. These “in time and in space” physical appearances were reported soon after the actual encounter and cannot reasonably be dismissed as mythical or psychological in nature.

3. The Apostles’ Transformation. The Acts of the Apostles describes a dramatic and enduring transformation of eleven men from terrified, defeated cowards after Jesus’ crucifixion (as revealed in the Gospels) into courageous preachers and, eventually, martyrs. These men became bold enough to stand against the hostile Jews and Romans in the face of torture and death. Such radical and extensive change deserves an adequate explanation, for human character and conduct do not transform easily or often.

Considering that the apostles fled and even denied knowing Jesus following His initial arrest makes their courage in the face of persecution and execution even more astounding. The apostles attributed the strength of their newfound character to their direct personal encounter with the resurrected Christ. In Christ’s resurrection, the apostles found their unshakable reason to live and die.

4. The Growth of the Catholic Church. Amazingly, within 400 years Catholicism dominated the entire Roman Empire and, over the course of two millennia, the entire Western civilization. The One True Church developed a distinct cultural and theological identity apart from traditional Judaism in a short period of time. This was attributed to Christ's physical Resurrection and the transformation of believers that followed.

5. Sunday as a Day of Worship. The Jews worshiped on the Sabbath, which is the seventh day of the week (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). However, the early Church gradually changed the day of their worship from the seventh day of the week to the first (Sunday aka "The Lord's Day"). For the early Catholic Church, Sunday commemorated Jesus’ physical Resurrection from the dead. His being raised to eternal life transformed worship and distinguished the Catholic Faith from traditional Judaism. Apart from the Resurrection, no reason existed for early followers of Jesus to view Sunday as having any enduring theological or ceremonial significance.

Debunking "Spiritual" Resurrection.
The theory of a spiritual (and not physical) Resurrection is woefully inadequate with the Divinity of Christ. According to this theory, the soul of Christ rose and appeared to the disciples with the help of some picture presented to the imagination. There are two insurmountable problems:

(1) This theory, which satisfies neither Modernists nor Catholics, does not explain the facts; for pictures in the imagination cannot be touched or felt.

(2) This theory makes Christ responsible for a fraud, because He allowed Himself to be touched, and He ate in the presence of the Apostles, precisely to convince them that He was not a spirit or a specter, but the living God-Man in the Flesh.

As St. Paul tells us, "But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:12-14). It is a decidedly physical Resurrection.  Crossen, once a devout Catholic priest and now a complete Modernist/atheist apostate, uses the language of Christianity stripped of its meaning to bring others into apostasy. 

Do not be deceived. Let us say with St. John Chrysostom:
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

The Third Commandment Reconsidered


To My Readers: This week, my guest poster Lee gives me a much needed break so I may concentrate on my work and family obligations. He has written a thought provoking post on the Third Commandment which I'm sure you will enjoy. Please feel free to leave comments, as always. If a comment or question is directed specifically to me, I will answer as usual, but it may take me a little longer to respond this week.

God Bless you all, my dear readers---Introibo

The 3rd Commandment Reconsidered
By Lee

Prior to Vatican II, the third commandment was taken seriously. Catholics had it drilled in their head to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days with punctuality and reverence. It was never tolerated to miss Mass or else it was a mortal sin. When Mass was over, the general customs were different from country to country but the thing to do was to either go home or to a relatives place and spend time with one another. Shops and businesses were not open. Emphasis on football games or some other Sunday past time was not as popular. If you had to work it had to be for a necessary reason which was also stressed. The third commandment was important to people back then because it was one of the Church's six precepts to assist Mass on all Sundays and Holy days throughout the year.

In the last fifty or sixty years all the opposite things I mentioned have flipped in the Novus Ordo Church and the world has followed its lead. Holy days are no longer obligatory in many dioceses and so it's not uncommon for a bishop to say that it should be fulfilled on the following Sunday. People no longer have any problem working on Sundays so long as they get paid well or if it's just getting caught up on something which would require a few hours of work which could otherwise be put off for another day. Many businesses or shops are open and the excuse you'll hear for staying open is "if I don't open on Sunday I could lose my business" or "due to the economy it's necessary to be open" yet some of these same places will be closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. 

Sporting events or games have become a distraction to such a degree that one could waste their whole day on Sunday thinking nothing about God and worrying about whose fantasy team is doing the best. Novus Ordos and even some Traditionalist Catholics who live within an hour of time from church, have no scruple of missing Mass. To sum it up, the Third Commandment has been watered down to a recommendation instead of a strict obligation.

Theologian Thomas Slater S.J.

A Manuel of Moral Theology for English Speaking Countries:

On Hearing Mass of Precept-

"Ecclesiastical laws of the early Christian centuries show us that the precept of hearing Mass on Sundays dates from the earliest times. This obligation is grave, for Innocent XI condemned a proposition which asserted the contrary...

Besides hearing Mass it is a laudable thing to spend some time on Sundays in other acts of piety and prayer, as all good Catholics do. Still there is no other positive obligation besides that of hearing Mass which binds under sin. It is not a sin, then, to omit evening service or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; and when it is impossible to hear Mass, there is no strict obligation to have private devotions instead. In order to fulfill the precept of hearing Mass according to the mind of the Church, the whole of Mass must be heard, in the proper place, while bodily present where it is being celebrated, with devout attention. Something must be said on each of these points.

The whole of Mass must be heard, so that at least a venial sin is committed if one be willfully absent during any portion of it. The sin will not be grave unless a notable part of the Mass be missed. What is a notable part depends partly on its importance, partly on the length or quantity. Inasmuch as the essence of the Mass in all probability consists in the act of consecration, to be voluntarily absent during the consecration would be mortally sinful ; one would not have heard Mass. Certainly it is a grave sin to be willfully absent during both the consecration and the communion. Up to the offertory is called the Mass of the catechumens, and as this forms a kind of introduction to the Mass proper, to come in only at the offertory probably does not amount to more than a venial sin. 

We may take it as a general rule that a mortal sin is committed if a third part of Mass be missed, and less is sufficient for a grave sin when any action of special importance in the sacrifice is in the portion missed. In case of involuntary absence during a notable portion of Mass there will be an obligation of making it up by hearing that portion of another Mass if there be an opportunity of doing so on the same day. The consecration, however, and the communion must always be in the same Mass. There is no obligation to make up small portions of the Mass which have not been heard...

One would not hear Mass so as to satisfy the precept if he were stationed apart at a considerable distance from the place where it was being celebrated, even though he might be able to see and hear what was being done. He must be morally present so as to form one of those who are together hearing and offering up the Holy Sacrifice. It is not necessary that he should be able to see the priest or the altar, nor even to hear what is said. It will be sufficient if he follows the principal parts of the Mass. So that a person could hear Mass if he were stationed in a side chapel of a great cathedral while Mass was being said at the high altar, though he might not be able to hear or see anything that was going on. 

Similarly, if Mass is being said for a large army or crowd of people, those on the outskirts of the multitude may hear Mass, though they are at a great distance from the altar. If the church is full and large numbers cannot get inside, still these latter may hear Mass being celebrated inside. On the other hand, if while Mass is being said in a church, someone were posted on the opposite side of a wide street or square, he could not hear the Mass so as to satisfy the precept, though he might be able to see what was going on through the open door.

It is necessary to have the intention of hearing Mass, and it must be done with the requisite attention. The Church prescribes a human action to be performed in the service of God, and so there must be the necessary constituents of a human act. The act, then, must be voluntary; there must be the wish or the intention to hear Mass. So that one who was forced to be present against his will, or who came to church merely as a companion to another, or to hear the music, would not hear Mass.

Attention is an act of the mind by which we advert to what is going on. This is attention in the proper sense of the term, and is called internal to distinguish it from external attention, which is the avoidance of any external action which is in- compatible with internal attention. Thus if one is distracted during Mass and thinking of other things, but does no external action which is incompatible with hearing Mass, he has external, but not internal attention. If during Mass he engages in a prolonged conversation with a neighbor, or reads a profane book, or paints, he has not even external attention.

The Church commands at least external attention while Mass is being said, otherwise the precept will not be fulfilled. All, too, admit that voluntary distractions during Mass are venially sinful, just as they are during ordinary prayer. It is a disputed point among theologians whether internal attention is also necessary for the observance of the Church's law. The more common opinion holds that it is. The contrary, how- ever, is probable, for actual attention does not seem to be an essential element of prayer; the form of Extreme Unction, which is a prayer, is certainly valid even if said by a priest without internal attention. The Church's law, therefore, which directly provides for external decorum in the service of God, would seem to be fulfilled, provided that there is at least external attention while hearing Mass. This opinion does not foster the careless hearing of Mass, but it does serve to relieve the scrupulous conscience from needless anxieties.

We have here to do with a positive precept, and any serious inconvenience or loss, spiritual or temporal, affecting one's self or one's neighbor, which would follow from hearing Mass, will excuse the faithful from fulfilling the obligation.

So that the sick, the convalescent who could not venture out of doors without danger, those who have to take care of the sick, mothers of families who have little children to attend to, those who live at such a distance that it would take them more than an hour to walk to church, all these are excused from hearing Mass regularly.

On Servile Work-

In order that all, and especially the poor, may have the opportunity of fulfilling their religious duties, the Church has forbidden servile work to be done on Sunday. Servile work is the rougher and harder sort of manual labor which is done by common workmen and laborers, and which used to be done by slaves. It comprises ploughing, digging, building, sewing, and similar occupations. It is distinguished from liberal and from mixed work.

Liberal work is done mainly by the intellect, and comprises writing, studying, painting, and so forth. Mixed work comprises a class of occupations which are neither exclusively liberal nor servile, but which are done indifferently by all conditions of men. In this class are hunting, fishing, traveling, and similar occupations. Of these only servile work is forbidden on Sundays, and in determining what is servile work, and therefore for- bidden, we must consider not only the nature of the work itself, but also the way in which it is done, the light in which it is commonly regarded, and other circumstances. Thus it is usually held that although the rougher work of the sculptor is servile and unlawful, the more delicate is liberal and may be done on a Sunday. 

Similarly, fishing with rod and line is not unlawful, but going out to sea with a fishing-smack and plying the trade in the ordinary working- day way is forbidden. In the same way one who lives by photography should not ply his trade on a Sunday, but it would not be wrong for an amateur to do the same work on that day by way of recreation and amusement.

This part of the precept of keeping the Sunday holy also binds under pain of grave sin. If, however, the matter be light, the doing of a little servile work on a Sunday will be only a venial sin, and none at all if there be good reason for it. According to the common opinion, it would be necessary to work for well over two hours at something which is forbidden in order to commit a grave sin. Still longer time would be required for a mortal sin in doing servile work of a lighter kind, which had for it some sort of excuse on the ground that it helps on the cause of religion and charity. Making rosary beads or scapulars belongs to this category.

Public trading is also forbidden on Sundays, as well as judicial proceedings in the exercise of contentious jurisdiction, and the solemn and public taking of oaths (Can. 1248).
English municipal law goes farther than the law of the Church in its provisions for the due observance of the Lord's Day. Thus not only is Sunday a dies non for the sitting of courts or the meeting of public bodies, but contracts such as are within the ordinary calling of tradesmen, workmen, laborers, or other persons of the same sort, made and completed on Sunday, are void, and abstention from work and even from play is required by a series of statutes.

Although these provisions of the civil authority do not impose an obligation in conscience under pain of sin, yet indirectly they have caused the Sunday to be observed among us with greater strictness than is absolutely required by ecclesiastical law.

As we saw with regard to the hearing of Mass, so in this matter too, if the precept cannot be observed without serious inconvenience, it ceases to bind. And so, work in foundries or in agriculture which cannot be stopped without grave in- convenience and loss may be done on Sundays. Work, too, in the direct service of religion, or necessary works of charity connected with the care and nursing of the sick, or the burying of the dead, are not forbidden. Custom permits of the sweeping of the house and the cooking of meals, and certain other more or less necessary occupations on Sunday. Finally, ecclesiastical authority can, for good reason, dispense in the observance of this law. Not only Bishops, but priests who have the cure of souls, have discretionary power to give dispensations in particular cases. (Pgs. 169-175; Emphasis mine)

Thoughts on the way to Church

​"​If there were three men such as you, my kingdom would be destroyed" said devil to St. John Vianney. In his classic work The Sermons of the Cure St. John Vianney had some wise words to say in his sermon, 'thoughts on the way to Church:'
"And you, fathers and mothers, what are your dispositions when you come to church, to the Mass? Alas! We must admit it with sorrow that most frequently the fathers and mothers that we see are coming into the church when the priest is already on the altar, or even in the pulpit! Ah, you will tell me, we came as soon as we could. We have other things to do.

Undoubtedly you have other things to do. But I know very well, too, that if you did not leave until Sunday the one hundred and one things in your homes which you should have done on Saturday, and if you had got up a little earlier in the morning, you would have done them all before holy Mass, and you would have arrived at the church before the priest had ascended the altar. It can be the same thing, too, with your children and your servants: if you had not been giving them orders until the very last stroke of the Mass bell, they would have arrived at the church at the beginning. I do not know whether God will receive all these excuses easily; I hardly think so.

We have work to do, you tell me.

Well, my friends, if you were to tell me that you have neither faith, nor love of God, nor the desire to save your poor souls, I would believe you much better. Alas! What can anyone think of all that? .... There is a great deal to lament in what is to be seen of the dispositions of the majority of Christians! A great many seem to come to church only in spite of themselves or, if I dare to put it that way, as if someone were dragging them there. From the house to the church, temporal matters only are discussed. 

A group of young girls together will talk about nothing except style, beauty, and all the rest of it; the young men only of games and amusements or of other matters which are more evil. The fathers or the masters of households will chat about their property or business, about buying and selling. The mothers are preoccupied only with their households and their children. No one will go so far as to deny that. Alas! Not a single thought will be given to the happiness they are about to have, not a single reflection on the needs of their poor souls or those of their children or their servants! 

They enter the holy temple without respect, without attention, and a great many of them as late as is possible. How many others do not even go to the trouble of coming in at all, but stay outside, in order to find better ways of distracting themselves? The word of God does not trouble their consciences: they look around at those who are coming and going.... Dear God! Are these really the Christians for whom You suffered so much in order to make them happy? And this is all they think of it? ....

With dispositions like that, how many sins must be committed during the services? How many people must commit more sins on Sunday than during all the rest of the week! ....

Listen to what St. Martin has to tell US.... While he was singing the Mass with St. Brice, his disciple, he noticed the latter smiling. After it was all over, he asked him what had made him smile. St. Brice replied: "Father, I saw something extraordinary while we were singing the holy Mass. Behind the altar I saw a devil and he was writing on a huge sheet of parchment the sins which were being committed in the church, and his sheet was rather full before the Mass was finished. So the devil took the sheet of parchment between his teeth and tugged it so hard that he tore it into shreds. That was what made me smile."

What sins, and even mortal sins, we commit during the services by our lack of devotion and recollection! Alas! What has become of those happy times when Christians passed not only the day but even the greater part of the nights in the church, mourning for their sins and singing the praises of God? See, even in the Old Testament, see holy Anna the prophetess, who withdrew into a tribune in order to leave the service of God no more. Look at the holy old man Simeon.

See again Zachary and so many others who passed the greater portion of their lives in the service of the Lord. And note, too, how marvelous and how precious were the graces which God bestowed upon them. To reward Anna, God willed that she should be the very; first to recognize our Lord.

The holy old man Simeon was also the first, after St. Joseph, to have the happiness, the very great happiness, of holding the Savior of the world in his arms. The holy Zachary was chosen to be the father of a child destined to be the ambassador of the Eternal Father in announcing the coming of His Son into the world. What wonderful graces does God not grant to those who make it their duty to come to visit Him in His holy temple as much as they possibly can....

The sanctification of Sunday and Holy Days is a duty and obligation. It's easy to be lukewarm and dismiss either some of the Third Commandment or the whole thing. The world could care less whether we fulfill our obligations. Within the past few years, there has been talk of taxing people every mile they drive on Sunday. If that ever happens, it's nothing more than a punishment for the laxity of obeying God's law.   

Distinguishing what is necessary and what isn't necessary work can at times be a tricky decision depending on the circumstances. We could always justify in our heads whether something is necessary when it's really only for our convenience. I think Fr. Thomas Slater gave some good rules to keep in mind when determining those factors. If one is in doubt it is best to consult a priest and ask him.

My suggestions: For those who cannot get to a Mass on Sunday because of extreme distance, just be sure to make an effort to reflect on the readings in the missal for that day, say the rosary, and study either a little of the catechism, Scripture, or some other religious book approved by the Church. For those who have to work on Sundays, try to make an effort to have your boss not require you to work on that day. If they don't allow it and you cannot get another job, be sure to make an effort to either get to Mass, or if not, at least try to get some prayers in that day when you have a break. God must glorified and His day must be remembered. If this Commandment is forgotten, the rest of them follow.

Monday, September 12, 2022

A Flat Denial


Traditionalists live in confusing times, and how can it be otherwise without a pope? There will be controversies that cannot be settled definitively, and we should allow divergence in opinion where possible. That divergence in opinions is to be expected, given the circumstances. I find it more than unsettling, however, when certain Traditionalists advance strange ideas that have nothing to do with the Faith, and only serve to make us look bonkers. Case in point: I read where one Traditionalist claimed that we are being "brainwashed" to believe the Earth is round, dinosaurs existed, the moon landing took place, and the Titanic was sunk. Unfortunately, these ideas are almost always linked back to our Faith, as if they were necessary to be a true Catholic.  

Two things need to be made clear: (1) conspiracies do exist, and (2) the government and powers-that-be do tell lies. There's no way the Alzheimer's patient in the White House won the 2020 election--to give but one example of lies and conspiracy. There is even a crime of conspiracy, and each year thousands are convicted. A problem arises when people see conspiracies and lies everywhere, and/or attempt to tie ideas to the Faith which are not at all connected. I know someone who believes in "Bigfoot," an ape-like creature alleged to live in the Northwestern states here in America. This creature has been "sighted" since the 1960s, so it stands to reason that there are multiple Bigfoots ("Bigfeet"?) as only one such being couldn't possibly survive so long. I do not believe in Bigfoot. However, Bigfoot has nothing to do with maintaining the Traditional Catholic Faith. Whether or not you believe in Bigfoot does not make you either a heretic or a sinner. If you want to debate the issue, please don't drag the Faith into it.

So why am I writing a post about the Earth not being flat? There is a Flat Earth Society that's been around since 1956 (See and the term "flat-earther" has become a pejorative label for anyone not towing "modern thought" no matter how wrong and/or immoral. I'll be using the term descriptively--those who honestly believe the Earth is flat. Within the last fifteen years or so, flat-earthers have gained followers on the Internet, and there is a wide diversity of theological beliefs within the flat-earth movement — conservative Protestants, New Agers, deists, pantheists, and now even some Traditionalists. The object of my post is to show the scientific, theological, and historical errors of the flat-earth ideology. While conspiracies do exist, let this be a pertinent reminder of the old axiom, In medio stat veritas ("In the middle lies the truth")--and not to see them where none exist.

What Flat-Earthers Believe
In the flat-earth cosmology, the earth is flat and round. The North Pole is at the center of the earth. There is no South Pole. The edge of the explored earth consists of an ice wall that we call Antarctica. This ice wall not only limits the earth as we know it, but it also keeps the oceans contained. There is disagreement among flat-earthers how far Antarctica extends. Above the earth is a dome in which the stars are embedded. The dome rests on Antarctica beyond the ice wall. The dimensions and exact shape of the dome are debated among flat-earthers. In many versions, the dome is a hemisphere, while others prefer a dome with greater radius at the center (over the North Pole) than at its edges, so that it resembles the roof of a sports arena. 

Each day, the dome spins around an axis passing through the earth’s North Pole. This causes the stars to move in the sky. The North Star is located almost directly over the North Pole, so it remains nearly motionless while the other stars go in loops around it. In most flat-earth models, the sun and moon are above the earth but generally below the dome. They also orbit around the axis of the North Pole each day, which accounts for their daily motion. The sun and moon move at a slightly different rate from the dome, which accounts for their motion with respect to the stars. Since the sun and moon are always above the earth, they never rise or set. The sun and moon merely appear to rise and set due to perspective. The sun is like a spotlight shining down on the earth. When locations are under the spotlight, it is day; when the spotlight passes a location, it is night. There are variations on this theme, but I trust I have accurately portrayed the basics of the flat-earth cosmology.

Next ensues various conspiratorial stories about how everyone knew the Earth was flat, and it wasn't until 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered that the Earth, despite the beliefs of the Catholic Church and Spanish royalty, was round. However, the Earth wasn't really round, and the powers that be (Jews, secret societies, pick your bugbear) somehow convinced the Church and society of this fantasy. Why would they do that? Once more, many whacky theories abound; to weaken belief in the authority of the Church and the Bible, to brainwash the masses to accept other falsehoods, etc. (Of course, I am here only dealing with Traditionalists who fall for this nonsense, not New Agers and others who accept the flat Earth cosmology, but have different stories as to why this "lie of a round Earth" was propagated---Introibo). 

Ironically, those who believe that a flat-Earth was common knowledge prior to Columbus, have accepted a lie themselves; one devised and disseminated by Protestants, and which is vehemently anti-Catholic.

Distorting History
The idea that Columbus discovered a round Earth, and prior to that people thought the world was flat (like I was taught in middle school and high school) is wrong. According to Dr. Jeffrey Burton Russell, Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara:

It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat.

A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters--Leukippos and Demokritos for example--by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans.

Nor did this situation change with the advent of Christianity. A few--at least two and at most five--early Christian fathers denied the sphericity of earth by mistakenly taking passages such as Ps. 104:2-3 as geographical rather than metaphorical statements. On the other side tens of thousands of Christian theologians, poets, artists, and scientists took the spherical view throughout the early, medieval, and modern church. The point is that no educated person believed otherwise.

Venerable Bede (who lived circa 673-735 A.D.) refers to the Earth as an “orb” and says that “it is not merely circular like a shield or spread out like a wheel, but resembles more a ball.” This idea was repeated by philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers throughout the Middle Ages. (See St. Thomas Aquinas in the very first page of the Summa Theologica writes, "...the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion: that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e., abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself.”

Back to Dr. Russell:
No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the earth was flat.

The idea was established, almost contemporaneously, by a Frenchman and an American, between whom I have not been able to establish a connection, though they were both in Paris at the same time. One was Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), an academic of strong antireligious prejudices who had studied both geography and patristics and who cleverly drew upon both to misrepresent the church fathers and their medieval successors as believing in a flat earth, in his On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers (1834). The American was no other than our beloved storyteller Washington Irving (1783-1859), who loved to write historical fiction under the guise of history. His misrepresentations of the history of early New York City and of the life of Washington were topped by his history of Christopher Columbus (1828). It was he who invented the indelible picture of the young Columbus, a "simple mariner," appearing before a dark crowd of benighted inquisitors and hooded theologians at a council of Salamanca, all of whom believed, according to Irving, that the earth was flat like a plate. Well, yes, there was a meeting at Salamanca in 1491, but Irving's version of it, to quote a distinguished modern historian of Columbus, was "pure moonshine. Washington Irving, scenting his opportunity for a picturesque and moving scene," created a fictitious account of this "nonexistent university council" and "let his imagination go completely...the whole story is misleading and mischievous nonsense."(Ibid).

Letronne was adamantly anti-Catholic:
The myth of Middle Age belief in a flat Earth, originating during the 19th century, has two individuals to blame, acting almost concurrently yet independently. Frenchman Antoine-Jean Letronne sought to disparage the Catholic Church in his 1834 study “On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers“, seeking to depict the clergy as anti-science and ignorant. Meanwhile, American essayist Washington Irving, in an effort to embolden the myth of Columbus, introduced to the United States the erroneous concept that Europeans thought the folk figure was acting in defiance of popular opinion; Irving’s work has become a staple of the American education system, even after it has been widely debunked as incorrect. (See; Emphasis mine). 

Washington Irving also has ties to the anti-Catholic movement. According to sociologist Rodney Stark:
By the fifteenth century (and for many centuries before) every educated European, including Roman Catholic prelates, knew the earth was round.  The opposition Columbus encountered was not about the shape of the earth, but about the fact that he was wildly wrong about the circumference of the globe.  He estimated it was about 2,800 miles from the Canary Islands to Japan.  In reality it is about 14,000 miles.  His clerical opponents knew about how far it really was and opposed his voyage on grounds that Columbus and his men would all die at sea.  Had the Western Hemisphere not been there, and no one knew it existed, the NiƱa, Pinta, and Santa Maria might as well have fallen off the earth, for everyone aboard would have died of thirst and starvation.

Amazingly enough, there was no hint about Columbus having to prove that the earth was round in his own journal or in his son's book, History of the Admiral.  The story was unknown until more than three hundred years later when it appeared in a biography of Columbus published in 1828.  The author, Washington Irving (1783–1859), best known for his fiction — in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow he introduced the Headless Horseman. Although the tale about Columbus and the flat earth was equally fictional, Irving presented it as fact.  Almost at once the story was eagerly embraced by historians who were so certain of the wickedness and stupidity of the Roman Catholic Church that they felt no need to seek any additional confirmation, although some of them must have realized that the story had appeared out of nowhere.  Anyway, that's how the tradition that Columbus proved the world was round got into all the textbooks. 
(See; N.B. Stark [d. 2022] was a self-described "independent Christian" who was never Catholic or V2 sect). 

There were two other influential men who made sure the false story about Columbus and alleged medieval belief in a flat Earth made it into the history books. Once more, I cite Dr. Russell:
But now, why did the false accounts of Letronne and Irving become melded and then, as early as the 1860s, begin to be served up in schools and in schoolbooks as the solemn truth?

The answer is that the falsehood about the spherical earth became a colorful and unforgettable part of a larger falsehood: the falsehood of the eternal war between science (good) and religion (bad) throughout Western history. This vast web of falsehood was invented and propagated by the influential historian John Draper (1811-1882) and many prestigious followers, such as Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), the president of Cornell University, who made sure that the false account was perpetrated in texts, encyclopedias, and even allegedly serious scholarship, down to the present day. A lively current version of the lie can be found in Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers, found in any bookshop or library. (Ibid). 

It should be no surprise to learn that both Draper and White were anti-Catholic bigots. According to scholar Ronald Numbers:
Scholars have long debated how best to characterize the historical relationship between science and religion and no generalization has been more seductive than that of conflict. Indeed the two most widely-read books in the history of science and Christianity bear the title “conflict” or “warfare”. The first of the books to appear, in one sense, was John William Draper’s book The History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. This appeared in the mid-1870s and was in fact less of a dispassionate history, which it wasn’t, than a screed against Roman Catholics and what they had done to inhibit scientific progress. Draper argued that the Vatican’s antipathy towards science had left its hands steeped in blood. (See; Emphasis mine). 

As to White, Co-Founder of Cornell University, we discover the following:
Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) was an American historian, who in 1865 co-founded Cornell University, the first purely secular institution of higher learning in the United States.  This led to strong criticism of him for separating learning from religion — criticism that came mostly from competitors at Protestant institutions of higher education.  In response, White decided to write a book showing that both religion and science would be better off once “dogmatic theology,” a subject not included in the curriculum at Cornell, was fully overcome.  “I will give them a lesson which they will remember,” he wrote to his friend Ezra Cornell in 1869.

White delivered this “lesson” to his opponents over the next 27 years, during which he published 27 articles, which he finally brought together in 1896 in a two-volume work called History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.  He begins the book by praising Draper for “his work of great ability” and then goes on to repeat many of Draper’s errors, including one that is widely believed to this day: the flat-earth “dogma.”  White claims that until Christopher Columbus’s time the majority of Christian thinkers had insisted on biblical grounds that the earth was flat, and that the flatness of the earth was practically a dogma of the Church.  In reality, only two Christian authors of record, the early Christian writer Lactantius and the relatively obscure 6th-century Greek traveler and monk Cosmas Indicopleustes, had ever argued that the earth was flat. Whereas, by contrast, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Albert the Great and many other ancient and medieval Christian theologians testified to the rotundity of the earth, as did such major popular writers as Dante and Chaucer. (See; Emphasis mine). 

Traditionalists who believe that the flat Earth was taught or supported by the Church prior to Columbus are themselves buying into a conspiratorial twisting of history by anti-Catholic bigots to discredit the Church. 

Does the Church Teach a Flat Earth?
Never has the One True Church issued any infallible or authoritative decree regarding the shape of the Earth. The only theological "proof" is in the form of Bible verses used originally by a nineteenth century Protestant Fundamentalist, biblically literal interpretation of the world—that the Earth is flat, was created in six literal days, is only 6,000 years old, and is headed rapidly toward the apocalypse. Here are some of the texts used:

  • The "Four Corners." Apocalypse 7:1, Apocalypse 20:8, and Isaiah 11:12 speak of the "four corners" of the Earth.  Two problems: Flat-Earthers see the world as flat and ROUND so it has no corners. Second, it is an expression, an idiom of the time, meaning "all of the Earth."
  • Heights recorded teach a flat Earth. Daniel 4:11 says, "The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth." Flat-Earthers reason that on a spherical earth it would not be possible for a tree to be visible from the entire Earth, but such a tree could be visible anywhere on a flat Earth. For those who read the context, this takes place in  Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and therefore does not need to correspond to reality. In St. Matthew 4:8 allegedly teaches a flat Earth, because when Christ was tempted by Satan, "Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory." Those who wish to argue for a Biblical flat Earth point out that all the kingdoms of the Earth would be visible from a tall mountain only if the Earth is flat. According to theologian Haydock, "We cannot comprehend how this could be done from any mountain or seen with the human eye. Therefore, many [theologians] think it was by some kind of representation..." (See A Comprehensive Commentary on the New Testament, [1859], pg. 1253). 
For Traditionalists there is absolutely no Biblical or theological proof for a flat Earth.

Does Science Show a Flat Earth?
There are many scientific proofs that the earth is round which I cannot possibly cover in a single post. If you were to ask the average person on the street, "How do we know the Earth is round?" most would answer, "We have pictures from space." Sounds totally reasonable, and I agree it is proof.

However, in most Flat Earth cosmologies, the Earth is a flat disk covered by a dome that contains all astronomical bodies. Therefore, there are no satellites. There are no astronauts. We haven’t been to the moon. Then what about all those images from space, such as the International Space Station (ISS) and the photos and videos of astronauts on the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s? Obviously, they all were faked. NASA is a sham organization that has lied about everything it supposedly has done. Flat-earthers spend considerable time and effort attempting to debunk all things from NASA and arguing against NASA.

1. NASA means "deception." Allegedly, NASA is not the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, but a derivation of the Hebrew word nasha’ meaning "to deceive." This sounds like a clue from a bad science-fiction movie. If this counts as "evidence" is it any wonder flat-Earthers aren't taken seriously?

2. The Thermosphere. Flat-Earthers argue that satellites must pass through the thermosphere with a temperature above 2,000 degrees Celsius, which would cause them to melt. As a former science teacher, they obviously don't know the difference between heat and temperature, which would take too long to explain here. More obviously, how do they know the thermosphere exists and what the temperature is? Ans. From the same scientists who conspire to make them believe satellites are real. Why would they tell the truth about something that would destroy their deception? Super-smart and super-stupid simultaneously? 

3. Van Allen Belts Would Kill the Astronauts. The Van Allen belts are fast-moving charged particles (mostly protons, electrons, and helium nuclei) trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field. Exposure to fast-moving charged particles pose a risk to living things, but how significant is the risk? Contrary to the misconception of flat-Earthers, the risk is cumulative, so a single exposure to the belts is not deadly.

4. Freemasons. Of course, no Traditionalist whacky conspiracy theory would be complete without invoking Jews and/or Freemasons. It's true that some astronauts were Freemasons, such as Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin (b. 1930), the second man on the moon. Yet, these flat-Earthers claim all astronauts are Freemasons. There's no evidence to support Neil Armstrong (d. 2012), the first man on the moon, was a Freemason. Some flat-Earthers respond with the claim that some astronauts choose to keep their Freemason membership secret. So no evidence of Freemasonry, is just as much proof of belonging to the Lodge as openly claiming such--at least in "flat-Earthdom." Why would Freemasons want to fake the Earth being round when a flat Earth is not Catholic belief? Good question. 

Traditionalists have enough real problems and plots going on without being made to look like weirdos by those who defend strange and false ideas under the guise of our Faith. If you want to believe the Earth is flat, the Titanic never sunk, and Elvis is alive at the local supermarket, go right ahead. Just please don't try to make these ideas--like a flat Earth---square with the Faith.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Contending For The Faith---Part 7


In St. Jude 1:3, we read, "Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints." [Emphasis mine]. Contending For The Faith is a series of posts dedicated to apologetics (i.e.,  the intellectual defense of the truth of the Traditional Catholic Faith) to be published the first Monday of each month.  This is the next installment.

Sadly, in this time of Great Apostasy, the faith is under attack like never before, and many Traditionalists don't know their faith well enough to defend it. Remember the words of our first pope, "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." (1Peter 3:16). There are five (5) categories of attacks that will be dealt with in these posts. Attacks against:
  • The existence and attributes of God
  • The truth of the One True Church established by Christ for the salvation of all 
  • The truth of a particular dogma or doctrine of the Church
  • The truth of Catholic moral teaching
  • The truth of the sedevacantist position as the only Catholic solution to what has happened since Vatican II 
In addition, controversial topics touching on the Faith will sometimes be featured, so that the problem and possible solutions may be better understood. If anyone had suggestions for topics that would fall into any of these categories, you may post them in the comments. I cannot guarantee a post on each one, but each will be carefully considered.

The Cosmological Argument
(In last month's Contending For The Faith post, I wrote about the modern attack on religious belief. In this month's post, I will be writing about one of the proofs for the existence of God; the Cosmological Argument. Psalm 14:1 tells us, "The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The fool's mind doesn't say such, for as the Vatican Council of 1870 teaches,  "Canon 1.  If anyone saith that the One, True God, our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema." It is, therefore, a dogma of the Faith that God's existence can be known by human reason alone. Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." 

The Cosmological Argument comes in many forms. It has been championed by such illustrious philosophers as St. Thomas Aquinas, Alexander Pruss, Timothy O’Connor, Stephen Davis, Robert Koons, William Lane Craig, Edward Feser, and Richard Swinburne, among others. This post comes from the work of the aforementioned philosophers, and I take credit for none of it. I give full credit to those philosophical giants, whose intellects far exceed mine. All I did was take their expressions of the argument, and compress them into the main ideas that can fit in a post.---Introibo). 

A Simple Formulation of the Cosmological Argument

Here are the three (3) basic premises and conclusion:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. 

2.If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. 

3. The universe exists. 

Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God. 

Logically speaking, this is an airtight argument. That is to say, if the three premises are true, then the conclusion is unavoidable. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the conclusion; nor does it matter if you have other independent objections to God’s existence. So long as you grant the premises, you have to accept the conclusion. So if you want to reject the conclusion, you have to say that one of the three premises is false.

Which one will the atheist reject? Premise 3 is undeniable for any sincere seeker after truth because, obviously, the universe exists. Therefore, the atheist is going to have to deny either premise 1 or 2 if he wants to remain an atheist and be rational. The whole question comes down to this: Are premises 1 and 2 true, or are they false?

Premise 1: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

At first, premise 1 might seem vulnerable in an obvious way. If everything that exists has an explanation of its existence and God exists, then God must have an explanation of His existence. However, that seems absurd, for then the explanation of God’s existence would be some other being greater than God, and God is defined as the "greatest possible Being." Since that’s impossible, premise 1 must be false—some things must be able to exist without any explanation.

 The believer will say that God exists inexplicably, while the atheist will say, “Why not stop with the universe? The universe just exists inexplicably.” It seems to be a stalemate. This obvious objection to premise 1 is based on a misunderstanding of what is meant by an “explanation.” According to premise 1, there are two kinds of things: (a) things which exist necessarily, and (b) things which are produced by some external cause.

 Those things which exist necessarily exist by a necessity of their own nature; it’s impossible for them not to exist. Many mathematicians think that numbers, sets, and other mathematical entities exist in this way. They’re not caused to exist by something else, they just exist by the necessity of their own nature. By contrast, things that are caused to exist by something else don’t exist necessarily; they exist because something else has produced them. Familiar physical objects like people, planets, and galaxies belong in this category. So when premise 1 states that everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, the explanation may be found either in the necessity of a thing’s nature or else in some external cause. 

Nevertheless, the objection now falls to the ground. For the explanation of God’s existence lies in the necessity of His own nature. As even the atheist recognizes, it’s impossible for God to have a cause. Therefore, the Cosmological Argument is really an argument for God as a necessary, uncaused Being. Far from undermining the argument, then, the atheist’s objection to premise 1 actually helps to clarify and magnify who God is. If God exists, He is a necessarily existing, uncaused Being.

So what reason might be offered for thinking that premise 1 is true? Well, when you reflect on it, premise 1 has a sort of self-evidence about it. Imagine that you’re hiking through the woods and you come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder how it came to be there. If one of your hiking partners said to you, “Don’t worry about it! It just exists inexplicably,” you’d either think that he was crazy or figure that he just wanted you to keep moving. No one would take seriously the suggestion that the ball existed there with literally no explanation.

Now suppose you increase the size of the ball in this story so that it’s the size of a car. That wouldn’t do anything to satisfy or remove the demand for an explanation. Suppose it were the size of a house. Same problem. How about the size of a continent, a planet, or the entire universe? Same problem—merely increasing the size of the ball does nothing to affect the need of an explanation. But couldn't the universe always have existed, that it is eternal? How do we know it's all not simply "just here"? 

There are two very strong evidences of the universe NOT being eternal, but having a beginning, and therefore, needing a Creator. One evidence is philosophical, the other scientific.

From philosophy:
If the universe never began to exist, then there have been an infinite number of past events prior to today. But an infinite number of things cannot exist; therefore, the series of past events must be finite. That is to say, the universe began to exist.

In order to appreciate this argument, we must understand the difference between a potentially infinite number of things and an actually infinite number of things. When we say that something is potentially infinite, infinity serves merely as an ideal limit that is never reached. For example, you could divide any finite distance in half, and then into fourths, and then into eighths, and then into sixteenths, and so on to infinity. The number of divisions is potentially infinite, in the sense that you could go on dividing endlessly. But you would never arrive at an “infinitieth” division; you would never have an actually infinite number of parts or divisions.

By contrast, a collection is actually infinite if the number of members in the collection is greater than any natural number 1, 2, 3… Now the argument under discussion raises no objection to the existence of merely potential infinites, for these are just ideal limits. But if an actually infinite number of things could exist, then various absurdities would result. If we’re to avoid these absurdities, then we must deny that an actually infinite number of things exist. It’s frequently alleged that this kind of argument has been invalidated by developments in modern mathematics. In modern set theory, the use of actually infinite sets is commonplace. For example, the set of the natural numbers {0, 1, 2…} has an actually infinite number of members in it. The number of members in this set is not merely potentially infinite, according to modern set theory; rather, the number of members is actually infinite. 

However, these developments in modern mathematics merely show that if you adopt certain axioms and rules, then you can talk about actually infinite collections in a consistent way, without contradicting yourself. All this accomplishes is showing how to set up a certain universe of discourse for talking consistently about actual infinites; it does absolutely nothing to show that such mathematical entities really exist, or that an actually infinite number of things can really exist. This universe of discourse may be regarded as just a fictional realm, like the world of Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle stories, or something that exists only in your mind.

Moreover, the question is not whether the existence of an actually infinite number of things involves a logical contradiction, but whether it is really impossible. Two points: if there were an infinite amount of events prior to this moment in time, how did we get here? You can't get to the end of an infinite. Second, if you take all the whole counting numbers {1,2,3...}; mathematicians say it's infinite. Now, consider the set of all even whole counting numbers {2,4,6...}; mathematicians say this is also infinite when it only contains half the numbers of  the first set.  How can half of infinity still be equally infinite? Subtract all the even numbers from the original set, and you have {1,3,5...}, and it is still infinite. So infinity minus infinity equals---Infinity?? It doesn't work in the real world. Imagine having an infinite number of red books. Your neighbor has an infinite number of green book. If the books were combined (red and green) you would still have an infinite set of books, the same as when there was half as many! It is therefore probable that an actual infinite number of events is impossible, so the universe had a beginning.

From science:
During the 1920s, the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgian astronomer Fr. Georges Lemaitre decided to take Einstein’s equations at face value, and as a result they came up independently with models of an expanding universe. In 1929, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, through tireless observations at Mt. Wilson Observatory, made a startling discovery which verified Friedman and Fr. LeMaitre’s theory: He found that the light from distant galaxies appeared to be redder than expected. This “red shift” in the light was most plausibly due to the stretching of the light waves as the galaxies move away from us. Wherever Hubble trained his telescope in the night sky, he observed this same red-shift in the light from the galaxies. It appeared that we are at the center of a cosmic explosion, and all of the other galaxies are flying away from us at fantastic speeds! The result is the Big Bang Theory, now accepted by almost all scientists: the universe (matter, energy, and space-time itself) began about 13.8 billion years ago from a singular event. Therefore, the universe began to exist. It follows that if the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause must be a non-physical, immaterial Being beyond space and time… something or someone “out there,” beyond the universe’s limitations.

 The 1st premise is shown to be much more probably true than not, which is all that is needed for a good argument.

Premise 2: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
What about premise 2 then? Is it more plausibly true than false? What’s awkward for the atheist at this point is that premise 2 is logically equivalent to the typical atheist response to the cosmological argument. Two statements are logically equivalent if it is impossible for one to be true and the other one false. They stand or fall together. So what does the atheist almost always say in response to the cosmological argument? The atheist typically asserts the following:

A. If atheism is true, the universe has no explanation of its existence.

 This is precisely what the atheist says in response to premise 1: that the universe just exists inexplicably. Logically speaking, however, this is equivalent to saying:

B. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, then atheism is not true.

Therefore, you can’t affirm (A) and deny (B).

However, (B) is virtually synonymous with premise 2.  So when the atheist says in response to premise 1 that the universe has no explanation, he is implicitly admitting premise 2—that if the universe does have an explanation, then God exists. Besides that, premise 2 is very plausible in its own right. Think of what the universe is: all of space-time reality, including all matter and energy. Once more, it follows that if the universe has a cause of its existence, that cause must be a non-physical, immaterial Being beyond space and time… something or someone “out there,” beyond the universe’s limitations.

Now there are only two sorts of things that could fit that description:
Either an abstract object, like a number, or an unembodied mind. Abstract objects can’t cause anything; that’s part of what it means to be abstract. The number 7, for example, can’t cause any effects. So the cause of the existence of the universe must be a transcendent Mind, which is what believers understand God to be.

A Necessary Conclusion
Given the truth of the three premises, the conclusion is logically inescapable: God is the explanation of the existence of the universe. Moreover, the argument implies that God is a necessary, uncaused, timeless, space-less, immaterial, personal Creator of the universe. This conclusion is as staggering as it is necessary. 

The Cosmological Argument, in its many forms, is a strong, rational proof of the existence of God. It would be good for Traditionalists to study this argument well, so they know it. Then, should a skeptic challenge your belief in God because "there is no evidence," you can say, "Really? Have you heard of the Cosmological Argument? It gives good evidence that God exists. Would you like me to tell you about it?" If he is good-willed, he will hear you out and may rethink his position. If he refuses to hear your answer to him and walks away, he stands condemned unless he repents before his life ends. Those who cannot (will not) see the proof of God in the things of Creation "are without excuse."