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 has 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.
Worlds Apart: Existentialism
Continuing from last month when Naturalism was examined, I'm going to be explaining various worldviews. What is a worldview? In the simplest terms, a worldview may be defined as how one sees life and the world at large. In this manner it can be compared to a pair of glasses. How a person makes sense of the world depends upon that person’s vision, so to speak. The interpretive lens helps people make sense of life and comprehend the world around them. Worldviews also shape people’s understanding of their unique place on Earth. This month the worldview of Existentialism will be explained.
As stated in last month's post, a well-thought-out course, or worldview, needs to answer seven ultimate concerns that philosophers identify as “the big questions of life:"
1. Ultimate Reality: What kind of God, if any, actually exists?
2. External Reality: Is there anything beyond the cosmos, or is what we perceive all there is?
3. Knowledge: What can be known and how can anyone know it?
4. Origin: Where did humanity come from?
5. Morals and Values: How should I live, and what things are important in life?
6. Problem of Life and Resolution: What is wrong with the world? How can humanity’s problem be solved?
7. Destiny: Will I survive the death of my body and, if so, in what state?
(Sources were many, and of special mention:
Dooyeweerd, Herman. Roots of Western Culture: Pagan, Secular, and Christian Options.Trans. John Kraay. ; Harris, Robert A. The Integration of Faith and Learning: A Worldview Approach. ; Sire, James W. Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept, . I take no credit except for the compilation and condensation of the material into a concise post.---Introibo).
Existentialism is not a full-fledged worldview, but it exists as an outgrowth of other worldviews to the point that it is considered a worldview unto itself. Existentialism is either atheistic (major proponents include John Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Friedrich Nietzsche) or theistic (major proponents include Gabriel Marcel [Catholic], Karl Jaspers [Protestant], and Martin Buber [Jewish]). Atheistic existentialism is a parasite on naturalism; theistic existentialism is a parasite on theism.
BASIC ATHEISTIC EXISTENTIALISM:
It answers the worldview questions on Ultimate Reality, Knowledge, Moral and Values, and Death, the same as Naturalism, to wit:
Matter exists eternally; God does not exist. Death is extinction of personality and individuality. Through our innate and autonomous human reason, including the methods of science, we can know the universe. The cosmos, including this world, is understood to be in its normal state. Ethics is related only to human beings. In other words, atheistic existentialism affirms most of the propositions of naturalism except those relating to human nature and our relationship to the cosmos. Indeed, existentialism’s major interest is in our humanity and how we can be significant in an otherwise insignificant world.
Atheistic Existentialism and External Reality
The cosmos is composed solely of matter, but to human beings reality appears in two forms— subjective and objective.
The world, it is assumed, existed long before human beings came on the scene. It is structured or chaotic, determined by inexorable law or subject to chance. Whichever it is makes no difference. The world merely is. Then came a new thing, conscious beings—ones who distinguished he and she from it, ones who seemed determined to determine their own destiny, to ask questions, to ponder, to wonder, to seek meaning, to endow the external world with special value, to create gods. In short, then came human beings.
Now we have—for no one knows what reason—two kinds of being in the universe, the one seemingly having kicked the other out of itself and into separate existence. The first sort of being is the objective world—the world of material, of inexorable law, of cause and effect, of chronological, clock-ticking time, of flux, of mechanism. The machinery of the universe, spinning electrons, whirling galaxies, falling bodies and rising gases and flowing waters—each is doing its thing, forever unconscious, forever just being where it is when it is. Here, say the existentialists, science and logic have their day. People know the external, objective world by virtue of careful observation, recording, hypothesizing, checking hypotheses by experiment, ever-refining theories, and proving guesses about the lay of the cosmos in which we live.
The second sort of being is the subjective world—the world of mind, of consciousness, of awareness, of freedom, of stability. Here the inner awareness of the mind is a conscious present, a constant now. Time has no meaning, for the subject is always present to itself, never past, never future. Science and logic do not penetrate this realm; they have nothing to say about subjectivity. Subjectivity is the self’s apprehension of the not-self; subjectivity is making that not-self part of itself. The subject takes in knowledge not as a bottle takes in liquid but as an organism takes in food. Knowledge turns into the knower.
Atheistic Existentialism and Human Origins
Human beings are complex “machines”; personality is an interrelation of chemical and physical properties we do not yet fully understand. For human beings alone existence precedes essence; people make themselves who they are. Atheistic existentialism is at one with naturalism’s basic view of human nature; there is indeed no genuinely transcendent element in human beings, but they do display one important unique feature. To put it in Sartre’s words, “If God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and . . . this being is man.” This sentence is the most famous definition of the core of existentialism. Sartre continues, “First of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself.” (See Jean-Paul Sartre, “Existentialism,” reprinted in A Casebook on Existentialism, ed. William V. Spanos, , pg. 278).
Each of us makes himself or herself human by what we do with our self-consciousness and our self-determinacy. The subjective world is completely at the beck and call of every subjective being, that is, of every person. How does this work out in practice? Let us say that Robert, a soldier, fears he is a coward. Is he a coward? Only if he acts like a coward, and his action will proceed not from a nature defined beforehand but from the choices he makes when the bullets start to fly. We can call Robert a coward if and only if he does cowardly deeds, and these will be deeds he chooses to do. So if Robert fears he is a coward but does not want to be, let him do brave deeds when they are needed.
Atheistic Existentialism and The Problem of Life/Resolution
The problem of life is that people don't "commit to themselves." It is solved when they do so commit. Ordinary naturalists can choose to commit themselves to their families or neighbors, their communities or country, the environment or the world. They need not display overarching egotism or selfishness. However, full-blown atheistic existentialists have already committed themselves to themselves.
Since they themselves make themselves who they are, they are responsible only to themselves. They admit they are finite beings in an absurd world, subject to death without exception. The authenticity of their value comes solely by virtue of their own conscious choices.
BASIC THEISTIC EXISTENTIALISM
Theistic Existentialism shares the same answers as theism to Ultimate Reality, External Reality, Origin of Humans, Morals and Values, and Destiny. It differs on Knowledge and Problem of Life/Resolution.
In short: God is infinite and personal, transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign, and good. God created the cosmos ex nihilo to operate with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system. Human beings are created in the image of God and thus possess personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness, and creativity. Human beings were created good, but through the fall the image of God became defaced, though not so ruined as to be incapable of restoration. "Christian existentialists" see this redemption in Christ. Non-Christian existentialists see it as yet to be.
Theistic Existentialism and Knowledge
Theistic existentialism accepts the basic existentialist premise that there are no rationally discoverable universal truths; knowledge comes to us from lived experience. This conflicts with their stated commitment to morals and values like the Ten Commandments. Each individual simply accepts the Commandments, as they understand them, through an encounter with God in lived experience.
Theistic Existentialism and Problem of Life/Resolution
The Fall of our First Parents was said not to have taken place back there and then in space and time. Rather, each person reenacts in their own life this story. Each enters the world like Adam, sinless; each one rebels against God. The fall is existential—a here-and-now proposition. Edward John Carnell summarizes the existential view of the fall as “a mythological description of a universal experience of the race.” By "living authentically as to how you personally believe," you will be saved. (Existentialism implies universal salvation).
Refutation of Existentialism
Theistic existentialism has found its way into the Vatican II sect, and tried to gain entrance to the One True Church pre-Vatican II. Since atheistic existentialism can be refuted by the proofs for God's existence, theistic existentialism poses the greater threat.
(For this section, I have condensed some material on existentialism from Phillip Trower's work, The Church Learned And The Revolt Of The Scholars, , pgs. 29-40---Introibo).
In existentialism, reason is not just downplayed it is, in effect, abolished. To use it for thinking in the normal way by distinguishing object from object (cat from dog, and cat's tail from cat's body), or objects in the outside world from the thoughts in one's mind (object from subject) is considered wrong. This kind of normal thinking, though plainly designed for us by God, was supposedly introduced by wicked "Greek intellectualism," and is said to falsify reality, which does not consist of separate creatures with distinct natures, but is envisaged as a liquid continuum--like soup. For example, making statements about the nature of God, such as He exists as a Trinity, should be forbidden because they turn God into an "object," and God cannot be considered as an object among a variety of other objects (even if we are unquestionably objects to God).
The fallacy at the root of all existentialist thought is the idea that "experience" can be a path to knowledge on its own, separate from and, in some sense, in rivalry with the use of the mind. In reality, experience is merely the stuff out of which knowledge is derived. Unless we analyze or think about what we have experienced (which necessarily involves the use of abstract ideas and propositions) our experiences will tell us nothing or deceive us. Existentialism also assumes that we all experience reality differently; each has his own version of the "truth." This is why each must be allowed to "do his own thing"; whatever he finds "meaningful" or "relevant." The word meaningful in existentialist talk does not mean true, right, or intelligible, but what gives the individual satisfaction.
The way we can know something is by experiencing it subjectively, in an encounter, with "the other." Most existentialist philosophers were atheists, as there was no God they encountered. Life was simply absurd and meaningless to these existentialists (Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Friedrich Nietzsche to name three of the most famous and influential). There were some who believed in "The Other" (God) who could be encountered through our experiences with each other and in Whom we sometimes need a "leap of [blind] faith." The most famous of these philosophers were Karl Jaspers (Protestant), Soren Kierkegaard (Protestant), Martin Buber (Jewish), and Gabriel Marcel ("Catholic").
Marcel (1889-1973) was an atheist son of a French agnostic. He converted to Catholicism in 1929, at age 40. He followed the Vatican II sect happily. Marcel was friends with Jacques Maritain, whose philosophical writings were going to be censured by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office under Pope Pius XII. Marcel likely would have been next, but both he and Maritain escaped censure with the death of Pope Pius XII and subsequent usurpation of Roncalli. Marcel's philosophy influenced a Polish bishop; Karol Wojtyla. (See Derek Jeffreys, The Legacy of John Paul II: An Evangelical Assessment,).
Enter Fr. Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner was born on March 5, 1904, in Freiberg, Germany. He was ordained a Jesuit on July 26, 1932. In the twentieth century (beginning in the late 1930s), Rahner, along with theologians Henri de Lubac, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar, Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Louis Bouyer, Jean Daniélou, Jean Mouroux and Joseph Ratzinger (later "Pope" Benedict XVI) began a Neo-Modernist movement that despised the Neo-Scholasticism which had served the Church so well. The movement was called "Nouvelle Theologie" (French for "New Theology") by the great anti-Modernist theologian Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, often pejoratively called "the sacred monster of Thomism" by his enemies because of his love of the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and his hatred of Modernism.
In 1946, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange wrote a scathing criticism of the movement (which liked to call itself ressourcement ---"return to the sources"), because they claimed they were "returning to patristic thought." Garrigou-Lagrange demonstrated that the theologians of the movement did not "return to the sources" but deviated from the long-standing theological tradition of the Catholic Church, thus creating a "new theology" all their own, and a disguised resurgence of Modernism. In 1950, Pope Pius XII responded with his great encyclical Humani Generis which condemned many of their errors, such as rejecting the traditional dogmatic formulations that emerged throughout Church history as a result of scholastic theology, re-interpreting Catholic dogma in a way that was inconsistent with tradition, falling into the error of dogmatic relativism and criticizing biblical texts in a way that deviated from the principles of biblical hermeneutics outlined by his predecessors (principally Pope Leo XIII).
Almost all the theologians of the "new theology" were under suspicion of Modernism by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office under Cardinal Ottavianni. Rahner was no exception. Before the death of Pope Pius XII, Cardinal Ottaviani tried unsuccessfully three times to convince the ailing Pontiff to have him excommunicated. In November 1962, "Pope" John XXIII appointed Rahner as a peritus ("theological expert") at Vatican II. The heretic Rahner thus had complete access to the Council and numerous opportunities to share his heresy with the bishops. Rahner's influence at Vatican II was widespread, and he was subsequently chosen as one of seven theologians who would develop Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which created the Vatican II sect with its damnable new ecclesiology. The Church of Christ is not identical to the Roman Catholic Church, but it is a separate entity which "subsists in" the Catholic Church, as well as in false sects.
Rahner's works discuss his idea of the supernatural existential. This term meant that every human being, since Creation, has a supernatural element within him which inclines him, like a magnet, to encounter the "Supreme Divine Other." The supernatural existential takes the place of Divine Grace. Radically different experiences of God lead to different interpretations and theological positions, but all come from and lead to God. According to Herbert Vorgimler, Rahner stated, "I have experienced God directly. I have experienced God, the nameless and unfathomable One, the one who is silent, yet near...I have experienced God Himself, not human words about Him." (See Understanding Karl Rahner, , pg. 11). Rahner teaches that every human being is an "anonymous Christian." The supernatural existential links all humans to Christ through their encounters, even if their religion is a different perception, and even if they are atheists who don't realize they have encountered Him.
As a result of Rahner's philosophically warped worldview, and the false theology driven by it, he was led into serious errors that resulted in apostasy from the One True Faith:
- The supernatural existential is an implicit denial of Original Sin and the whole doctrine on Grace
- The Incarnation and Redemption by Christ are mythological, but are useful narratives
- All Marian Dogmas are myths
- There is no "One True Church" because all religions lead to God
- All humanity will be saved
Lumen Gentium, the Vatican II document Rahner helped draft, teaches the heresy that there is a Church of Christ separate from the Roman Catholic Church. False sects have "elements" of the Church of Christ. To have all the elements, like the Roman Catholic Church, is best. However, having just some elements is good too, and leads to salvation. You can begin to see the connection to Rahner's idea that the more vivid, or the more close your encounter with God, the better it is, but we all encounter Him to one degree or another.
Now, these statements can be better understood:
"All the baptized are in Christ's Church."--Wojtyla, Ut Unam Sint, para. #42
"Proselytism is solemn nonsense."--Bergoglio
"The way to achieve Christian unity, in fact, is not proselytism, but fraternal dialogue..." Wojtyla, "Homily" of 1/25/93
"The Second Vatican Council did immense work to form that full and universal awareness by the Church of which Pope Paul VI wrote in his first Encyclical. This awareness-or rather self-awareness-by the Church is formed a "in dialogue"; and before this dialogue becomes a conversation, attention must be directed to "the other," that is to say: the person with whom we wish to speak."---Wojtyla, Redemptor Homines; Emphasis mine
"...as the Council teaches, 'by his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man'"---Wojtyla, Redemptor Homines; Emphasis mine; See also Gaudium et Spes, para. #22.
Existentialism, as demonstrated, is one of the chief sources of the moral as well as the doctrinal rot in the Vatican II sect. It destroys the metaphysical framework of reality by which the mind ascends to God, reducing everything to a fog and a flux where He is lost. It provides the justification for moral relativism, and universalism (the heretical idea all people will be saved). Existentialism in both its forms (atheistic and theistic) is heretical, and it is a worldview that is self-defeating and thus incoherent and untrue as a comprehensive system of belief, since experience cannot be a path to knowledge on its own.