Leah Libresco, please write, and write faster…

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No one’s thrown a leg of lamb at my head yet, but I’m getting a little nervous.

In all seriousness, it’s been a week since the internet found out I’m converting.  I gave an overview in my “why I’m converting” post that I plan to flesh out, and I’m ok with the pace I’m going at.  I do have a day job, and a New Yorker subscription I don’t want to fall behind on, and a lot of reading recommendations from everyone on the internet ever (and, I’ll confess, all of those will get bumped to the back of the line when Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction arrives on my doorstop next week).

When I was an atheist, I didn’t feel a ticking time-bomb urgency to explain and explore every part of my metaphysics (and arguably, the situation was more timebound then, since that’s how I lost the boyfriend).  If you think I’m wrong, I’ll still be wrong in a month, and you’ll have more data to use in your attacks.

I’m pretty cool (I mean, c’mon, I have armor), but I really doubt that I’m such a threat that I need to be addressed immediately.  So I’ve not got a lot of patience for the people who are reading only the About Me and the conversion post and then launching into rebuttals.

Especially when JT, Adam, and Camels with Hammers are trying to suss out what I actually believe and attack where I’m strongest.  And because they want my best shot, they’ve all been quite understanding that I want to reply to them, but will need time to do it well.

So, patience.  More posts are coming, but my conversion-logic won’t be the only thing I write about.  If you’re a new reader, you can take the time to browse the archives for debate fodder (or philosophy of medicine digressions).  Or go outside, enjoy the nice weather, and read Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid or Arcadia or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  I’ll still be here when you get back.

About Leah Libresco

Leah Anthony Libresco graduated from Yale in 2011. She works as an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative by day, and by night writes for Patheos about theology, philosophy, and math at www.patheos.com/blogs/unequallyyoked. She was received into the Catholic Church in November 2012."

  • Pedantic Classicist

    Leah, I am a somewhat-new, on-again, off-again reader and I appreciate much of what you have written. I appreciate your honest attempts to try to think through different philosophies, etc (honestly, who actually TRIES OUT being a stoic or a philosophical gnostic? how cool is that??). I had been reading some of the turing test stuff as it was going on and I think it’s fascinating (in fact, I do wonder if you’re just pulling a fast one on us, and this conversion isn’t perhaps the FINAL turing test…). Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am happy you are planning on coming into the Church, and hope you will find a permanent home here. Please, do take your time and try not to let all this unexpected pressure get to you. And be assured of the prayers of THIS quasi-skeptical, existentialist, oft-surrealist, “ethnic” Catholic. ;)

    Valeto vel optime in Christo Iesu. PC

    “Now come the days of the king [errr, queen]… may they be blest.”

    • lethargic

      Ditto what P Classicist says. God bless and supportive prayers going up …

    • http://www.jrganymede.com Adam G.

      I’ve wondered about that Turing test thing myself.

  • Steve

    Leah, I am a little ticked off by your very public conversion. You are free to do and say what you want but don’t you see how the religious are stoked about this? Just this morning, one of my co-worker told me: “See, you are wrong. Some day, you too will convert.” as if I am obviously stupid and can’t see the Truth. Yesterday, you were a prominent atheist blogger now you are a top atheist blogger. When many atheists told you, you were not an atheist at all, should you at least have the courtesy to tell the media you were not really a proper Atheist? You may have said you did not believe in a God or Gods but clearly you believed in things that most Atheists definitely do not believe into. By having such a public conversion, you make us all look bad. You speak as if you contemplated both sides properly and settled on the side that can only be right. Hence every other atheists have to be stupid for not seeing the Truth. Reality is that it took many of us (I included) years to become non believers (I was catholic btw). If I ever believed in objective morality, there is no way in the world I would have become an Atheist. What I am trying to say is that you are an out-lier when it comes to Atheists (I hope so) and it is not cool that you are pretending to be representative of all of us. Think of how Catholics would be pissed off if some catholic blogger that did not even believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ decide to call herself an Atheist and the press you make a big deal of her? That would not be cool for the Catholics. So what are you doing it to the Atheists?

    • leahlibresco

      I don’t pretend to represent everyone. When I was an atheist, I said I hoped the data would compel everyone to agree with me and I say the same thing now. I don’t think atheists are stupid and I don’t think I was dumb for not switching sides earlier. For one thing, both sides have a lot of smart people, so I expect and observe that both sides will have non-obviously stupid arguments, whether they’re right or wrong.

      It’s true that some of my atheist friends said I wasn’t a real atheist, because I believed that morality is objective, but I disagreed with their characterization of atheism. I didn’t believe in any sentient beings that existed above humans (though I could revise that if aliens show up). I think that suffices.

      • Steve

        What ticks me off is not your conversion but rather that it is used as a tool against the community of non-believers. Please don’t tell me you do not realize that. How many used-to-be believers do you know are being plastered all over the news? Yet, many (most?) atheists used to be believers at some point during their life. I am sure you don’t think of atheists as stupid but the media uses your story in an attempt to show that the community of non-believers is mistaken at best and stupid at worst.

        Unfortunately, it takes only one thing to be an atheist, a lack of belief in God or Gods. I wished it included a clause that their reasoning is internally consistent. I know of other atheist I wished would not label themselves atheist either. They may not believe in a God or gods but they believe in a lot of weird things.

        To me, what matters is not what you believe but rather how you came to these beliefs (or lack of thereof). Clearly, you did not think about your previous stance enough since you made the switch. For a lot of us though, we did and our conclusion is very different from yours.

        I don’t have anything against you Lhea, but I do have something against the prominent atheist blogger or the top atheist blogger that nobody ever heard of until a few days ago because she converted to Catholicism. If it had said “Lhea Libresco, an atheist blogger from Patheos, converts to Catholicsm”, nobody would have given you grief. By being labeled prominent and top atheist, you are indeed representing us Lhea, whether you like it or not and whether we like or not.

        • calahalexander

          For the record, tons of people had heard of Leah before she converted. She was a well-respected blogger amongst atheists and Catholics alike. It’s unfortunate that you hadn’t heard of her, but she already had quite a following. Leah is well-known and well-respected for her intellectual integrity, not for her conversion. The conversion just happens to be a by-product of that intellectual integrity.

        • Hidden One

          Some of us wish that being a Catholic blogger, apologist, speaker, journalist, etc. required “a clause that [one's] reasoning is internally consistent”. We’re not picky enough to require every Catholic to meet that standard.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

          There are corners attempting to exploit this, but this too shall pass. It’s called a news cycle. It’s painful, and it’s bloody, and it lasts a few days, and we’ll pass on to the next soon enough.

          If those who follow her blog cared for her only as an abstraction, Catholics would prefer she remained an atheist. This way she better stands in opposition against stupid Internet atheism. Mark Shea, love him or hate him, regularly went out of his way to thank Leah Libresco for not being a stupid Internet atheist.

          Now if you and I cared about Leah-the-person, our reaction would primarily be one in which we noticed how much closer or father she is now in relation to objective truth.

        • http://markdohle.multiply.com/journal Mark Dohle

          I find this interesting Steve, how you are reacting. I guess you don’t see how atheists (some, and who knows…. perhaps all behind close doors) are constantly making fun of all believers, be they Christian or whatever. Mocking contempt is the norm for atheists who write about their beliefs towards those who disagree. Which is fine with me, it is merely human and atheist (in spite of what they are constantly telling us) or not smarter nor are they more rational than believers. There are all types in any group. Village atheists just seem to get most of the coverage. I am glad for Leah’s conversion and her courage to come forth. I am not sure it was that easy.

          Also by the way, I do respect atheist, at least those who are respectful of others, you are probably among that group.

      • Giovanni Tardini

        I am not glad because we (Catholics) “won” a clever girl, so that it would make my point stronger – “if there are so many intelligent Catholics, it must be true”. No. I don’t gain my certainty from the average intellectual level of my “party”. This does not make a position right or wrong. I have met many uneducated people with a huge certainty in life and with an incredible understanding about human destiny or behavior. And very intelligent people supporting trivially crazy anthropology.
        I think neither believers nor atheists can delegate their personal decision to an external method without involving all of their reason, personal history and present experience. There’s no recipe, that’s why there are many clever people on both sides. However I am glad when a truely seeking person discovers faith, also because he/she can bring interesting thoughts for my life – also atheists do, but it is different if the person is sharing your own path.

    • http://www.twitter.com/fodigg Matt

      @Steve: Leah does not owe you anything, and it’s not her fault your co-worker is acting like a self-satisfied asshat.

    • deiseach

      So what are you saying? When she changed her mind, she should just have slunk off quietly into the night, or altered the focus of her blog to be about knitting patterns and kitten pictures?

      Granted, she could have stuck to mathematics, graphs, steampunk and cooking and it would still be interesting, but she would have had to stop talking about philosophy and morality. And then people would be asking “Hey, Leah, how come you don’t talk about that stuff anymore?” And what would you advise her to do – say nothing? Pretend nothing had changed? Or say “I can’t talk about it and I can’t tell you why I can’t talk about it”? And that would just have stoked even more fervid speculation.

      Leah did not go looking for publicity, and yeah, it’s been a bit unfair to her to suddenly hold her up as the poster girl for conversion. But come on – there has just recently been a conference for ministers of religion who come out about being atheists, and that was splashed all over atheist blogs and support was asked to be given to the spokeswoman there. So, six of one, half a dozen of the other.

      • Paul Moloney

        “But come on – there has just recently been a conference for ministers of religion who come out about being atheists, and that was splashed all over atheist blogs and support was asked to be given to the spokeswoman there”

        Ironically, a story which got a lot lot less attention that Leah’s. My assumption for this is that, honestly, someone becoming an atheist these days is a lot less important news than someone converting to Catholicis for Catholics, a religion its safe to say has a siege mentality in many places including Ireland.

        P.

        • leahlibresco

          I think the news media is a capricious beast.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

            Show me where you said that as an atheist. (Thanking you now would clearly be another instance of exploiting your conversion.)

        • Ted Seeber

          Actually, I’d say that those with a siege mentality are a *small*, *tiny* minority we more normal Catholics call Radical Traditionalists. It is extremely sad to the rest of us that groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Obama Administration seem hell bent on proving the RadTrads right.

        • Patrick

          I don’t think this phenomena is about siege mentality or capriciousness.

          Consider, what reaction is elicited from athiests amongst themselves when the ministers came out as atheists? A sigh of relief against the threat of impending theocracy? A smug chuckle as even religious ministers see the truth? Perhaps a ribbing at the pitiful fools sitting in the pews listening to these ministers, confounded by their leaders suddenly embracing reason. That said, it is true that there are no few instances of Catholics behaving in a mirrored fashion concerning Leah’s conversion.

          Even so, that was not my reaction, nor that of many of my brethren. I’ve just found out that I have a long lost sister! What terrific news! Throw a party! Open the champagne! She’s a blogger? That’s great! She’s geeky? That’s wonderful! She groks math? All the better!

          In the end, it isn’t about adding or subtracting membership to a given thought system or administrative hierarchy. Instead, this is about family, and celebrating.

      • Steve

        The story you are referring about was not about preachers coming out as Atheist but rather their experience coming out as Atheist. Many are shunned, go though divorce, etc. I am personally familiar with stories like that (I have seen a man cry because his daughter did not want to see him after he came out). Nobody is shunning Lhea. As a matter of fact, many atheists told her she should admit she is not an atheist in her heart. In other words, other atheists helped her to come out. I am very happy for her. If she thinks this is where the truth lies, then this is what she needs believe. The problem is that we have been witnessing in the past few days a negative PR campaign and she is at the center of that.

        • Hidden One

          Either she was an atheist or she was a liar.

          Either call her a liar straight up or admit that she was an atheist.

          PS: You don’t get to define that word.

        • Oregon Catholic

          What about all the atheist ink spilled over priest pedophiles. Don’t pretend atheists didn’t try to paint the whole Church with that brush.

          • Paul Precod

            I don’t really know exactly what you’re arguing, in full, but I can say with confidence that by definition if you support an organization that you know is doing something wrong, you bear some responsibility for that wrong. That’s why thousands of Catholics quit in disgust.

            If there were an atheist organization (e.g. FFRF) which covered up pedophiles, it would simply disappear overnight and our donations would switch to one of its competitors. I understand why there is a difference between a church and a lobby group, but I’m making the point that there IS NO ANALOGY in the atheist for world for what happened, and happens in the Catholic Church.

            Given that there is no analogous situation in the world of atheist organizations, and sociologically could not be, I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.

          • Ted Seeber

            Paul, what about Nambla?

    • Mark H.

      “Think of how Catholics would be pissed off if some catholic blogger that did not even believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ decide to call herself an Atheist and the press you make a big deal of her?”

      I’d be much more bothered if that person continued to identify as a Catholic blogger.
      I’m bothered that prominent government officials and celebrities who dissent from the teachings of the Church are used as examples of typical Catholic thinking and beliefs.
      I understand how you think losing one of your own makes you look bad, but nobody owes you the loyalty of their beliefs. I wouldn’t expect the hypothetical Catholic blogger from your example to remain a Catholic. What do you expect Leah to do? Should she not follow her beliefs out of loyalty to other athiests? Or convert, but not go public? I think she’s making an honest attempt to seek the truth and follow where it leads her.

      • Steve

        Actually, I know quite a few “Catholics” who do not believe in the resurrection of Christ at all. I call them “cultural” atheists. Some still believe in God, some don’t or are not sure. Catholicism is part of their tradition. I have been asked why I call myself an Atheist. Apparently, it’d be perfectly fine to call myself a Catholic even though I don’t believe in any tenets of the faith. My own brother is having his 3 daughters baptized this week-end. For all purposes, he is an atheist though. He will never say that though.

        • Hidden One

          By its very definition the only dogma of atheism is that God does not exist. Catholicism has a lot more than one such non-negotiable.

        • Ted Seeber

          Has it ever occurred to you that maybe he stays quiet about his faith around you *because* you are the militant evangelical atheist?

    • Ted Seeber

      “Reality is that it took many of us (I included) years to become non believers (I was catholic btw). If I ever believed in objective morality, there is no way in the world I would have become an Atheist. ”

      Ok, I really want an explanation of this one. How can one believe in an objective reality (well, enough to accept miracles like the quantum mechanics that goes into how a computer chip works, anyway) and NOT believe in an objective morality? The two go together like peas in a pod.

      • Ron K

        How does one follow from the other? Why can’t one believe, for instance, that morality is just the collection of values by which human society directs itself and indoctrinates its children, without ascribing any objectivity to them, while still thinking that there is objective truth, outside of human experience?

        You could ask the question differently — If there were no humans, would there still be truth? would there still be morals? Why can’t one answer yes to one and no to the other?

        • Ted Seeber

          IF there is objective truth outside of one’s experience, then objective morality HAS to exist. There has to be one way which is right, and another way which is wrong. Moral relativism doesn’t fit the model that there is a single objective reality outside of one’s experience.

          It is more an argument from skepticism than for Catholicism, but the fact is if there is an objective reality, then there MUST be an objective morality.

          Now, of course, some local cultures might develop *additional* rules for living that match local environmental conditions, such as the natives of Paraguay who won’t eat red fruit because all of the native red fruit is poisonous, or the water temples of Bali where the religion perfectly balances the rainfall and the economic conditions on the island to insure proper irrigation of agriculture.

          But that’s not what I’m talking about when I say a universal objective morality. I’m talking more about things like “children and the continuation of the species are a universal good and thus heterosexuality is better than homosexuality” or “murder is wrong”. Things that objectively everybody can agree on, and if you don’t agree, it is because you are not being objective.

  • Jon H

    I really admire your tolerance for the amount of inquiry you must be getting at this point. You seem very willing and able to tackle all kinds of arguments. As a Christian (I’ll refrain from advertising my flavor) whose high school experience has been watching people drop from Christianity like flies, I must say your current situation is incredibly intriguing. While reading some of your older posts, I was struck by the similarity of sentiments to many of my atheist or newly-atheist friends. Recently, after we suffered through a horrible movie at the theater, two atheist friends and I proceeded to have a four hour conversation about Christianity, our beliefs, and our reasons right in the parking lot; no one wanted to disrupt the conversation my moving! I can say that their attitudes and even some some specific objections match yours.

    The one thing I will say regarding flavors of Christianity is that Catholicism is not a terrible starting point for whatever it is you’re trying to do, but I would just like to caution you against slipping into therapeutic moralistic deism, which I think is self-explanatory (and mighty popular!)

  • Alexandra

    I have to agree with the frustration at the public conversion and not being prepared to back it up. I know as a reader, I would have preferred if you had somethings written up before you came out. Especially now that you’re going on CNN and being labeled as “one of the most prominent atheist bloggers on the Internet.” Not being prepared to explain your reasoning to your atheist readers and then the CNN move was a pretty lame betrayal to your atheist readers. You could have made this exit a lot more gracefully.

    • leahlibresco

      That’s a fair critique. I was trying to balance having stuff prewritten against the kinda-dishonesty of continuing to blog as an atheist while stalling to write the explanation. I struck the best compromise I thought I could, but I don’t think it was ideal.

      • JackOCat

        I don’t think you have anything to feel critical about yourself
        You are a blogger who focuses on spiritual topic or lack there of: a conversion is like hitting the jackpot. I think you should maximize the publicity of this event as it probably won’t happen for you again. Build up your profile now and then in a month from now focus on sustaining your new elevated readership.

        I’m an Atheist but obviously not a new style one because I think it is great that you are following your path and stirring things up.

    • deiseach

      “I would have preferred if you had somethings written up before you came out”

      Try reading through the archives of this blog for her explorations of the topic.

      “going on CNN and being labeled as “one of the most prominent atheist bloggers on the Internet.”

      Not her fault; every news media is going to label whomever they interview as “the most prominent X about Y”. It’s rather an in-joke, but the amount of times Fr Thomas Reese, S.J. gets quoted in newspaper articles when asked for a comment about anything to do with Catholicism (ranging from the Pope’s latest encyclical to the U.S. bishops possibly re-introducing the Friday fast as mandatory) makes him seem like the only Catholic priest in America with a telephone so that the reporters can ring him up and ask him questions. No tv programme is going to introduce a guest as “a fairly obscure atheist blogger who decided to enter on the process of conversion to Catholicism, which only made a splash inside the bubble of the Catholic blogosphere and some atheist bloggers who were acquainted with her blog”.

      Making her exit gracefully? Ah, you mean, in emulation of the grace shown by various freethinkers, agnostics, atheists and rationalists who said she never was a real atheist at all (even though those same persons have been lecturing the rest of us that there is no such thing as a ‘typical atheist’ and there are no rules of conduct you have to abide by to be considered an atheist), that her decision must be down to brain damage of some kind, that she is too unattractive to get a boyfriend or girlfriend, that she is sexually-confused (what this has to do with being or not being an atheist, I have no idea, but it must be a particularly trenchant point otherwise why would the commenter make it?) and that she is stupid, deluded, and only doing this because she craves affirmation from weird cultists.

      Yes, that’s a graceful way to react, sure enough.

      • Alexandra

        TL;DR

        Are you Leah’s spokesperson? She responded, you didn’t need to.

        • deiseach

          I posted before seeing Leah’s response. No, I’m not her spokesperson, and yes, I probably should shut up.

          I’m just a little fed-up of seeing the rationalist response to all this boiling down to personal insult and not even reading the points being made, but rather reacting to assumptions. For people who don’t believe in all that ‘psychic woo’, they certainly exhibit remarkable abilities of telepathy and mind-reading in discerning her true motives.

          Leah, I promise I’ll pipe down after this, but going by the reactions in the comments thread, you might want to cast your net wider for a few more patron saints than merely St. Catherine of Alexandria. Perhaps someone like these prepared for calm discussion saints?

          • Alexandra

            It’s important to remember that the accusations you make against your opponent can typically be thrown right back at you. In accusing me of reacting to assumptions, you’re reacting to an assumption.

            I didn’t say anything that indicates I haven’t read Leah’s posts, CTFO.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous
          • deiseach

            Going to listen to all these uploads for the rest of the afternoon. Will be extremely chilled out. If never heard from or of again, reason will be because have melted into puddle of bliss :-)

          • http://ecben.wordpress.com Will

            Not to mention all these supposed exponents of “nationality” piling on with ad hominem attacks on “TheCAtholicchurch”. (Does the phrase “ad hominem” mean ANYTHING to you guys?

            It was that infamous rightwing reactionary who said “The question is not whether the Catholic Church is perfect, but whether Catholicism is true.”

      • Jesse Weinstein

        I asked this back a few posts ago, and failed to get any useful responses, so I’ll try again here.

        Leah (or deiseach), as you both have suggested reading the archives of this blog to get a better answer about Leah’s conversion — could you suggest some particular posts (or even merely keywords) regarding the issue of: “Why does Leah consider the factual (primarily, but not exclusively historical) claims made by Catholic doctrine to be sufficiently likely for her to accept them?”.

        I really hope (and expect) that such previous posts exist — but I’m not a regular reader of the blog, and don’t know where to look to find them.

  • Ashley A

    Leah,
    If you are interested in learning more about Catholicism, as a cradle Catholic who wished I would’ve known about this earlier, one of the most compelling and interesting theological pieces the Church has produced is Pope John Paul II’s Talks on the Theology of the Body. I know you probably are inundated with suggestions, but I fell completely in love with JPII over this stuff… it somehow seems up your alley to me. You can get a copy of the transcripts (which he gave weekly over several years) but I found this great audio course downloadable for free at giftfoundation.org . I have never learned so much about my faith and the beauty of the truths it is able to explain. I will pray for you and your journey. By the way, I am in no way involved with Theology of the Body, just a young Catholic mom who came across your blog. It may help you understand the church’s teaching on homosexuality as well.

    • http://www.theforkstrikes.wordpress.com SAK7

      Ashley… just a quick note of agreement. Theology of the Body knocks it out of the park and will go along way to addressing much of Leah’s questions on sexuality. I can’t begin to touch on the depth of layers one can uncover in TOB.

    • Hidden One

      The thing about Theology of the Body is that it was written with the understanding that Thomism was presupposed. After all, Professor Wojtyla had taught Thomism! This si something that oen needs to be aware of when exploring TotB, particularly because most commentators do NOT have a background in philosophy (never mind Thomism) and this unfortunately causes them to misunderstand them. In lieu of a deep study of Thomism, I recommend the lecture “The Light of St. Thomas on the Theology of the Body” by a Dominican priest (available for free as a podcast on iTunes).

  • Scott Maddox, CPA

    ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ is written by an Atheist, Rebecca Skloot.

    • leahlibresco

      And she is awesome!

  • Steve

    Just want you to know I’m a new reader because of the waves your very public conversion made–I have a keen interest in hearing your explication of your conversion–but I’ve been enjoying what I see on all fronts. Non illegitimati carborundum es!*

    I’m just grateful for another voice to learn from. Thanks for all your efforts, past, present, and future.

    *Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

  • http://last-conformer.net/ Gilbert

    I see you’re still taunting your European readers about weather. *sulk*

  • TA

    Leah, you’re wasting your time here. You’ll never be anything more to these people than a potential broodmare. Why else do you think your newfound church asserts you’re going to hell if you die unrepentant as a practicing member of the LGBT? To the Vatican, you are a moral defect, whether you want to admit it or not. There are bishops in your church who would never allow you to take communion, if they had it their way, just because of your sexuality (assuming, of course, you don’t “repent” to the church’s position). If you’re intellectually honest, and do not roll over for these people and become a doormat, you’ll end up like Anne Rice. It’s probably too late for you to reverse and maintain any credibility w/the outside world, but keep that in the back of your mind in the coming years.

    • KL

      your newfound church asserts you’re going to hell if you die unrepentant as a practicing member of the LGBT

      Except it doesn’t assert that. At all. It asserts that sexual activity between members of the same sex is objectively disordered, as well as that dying in understood, obstinate, and unrepentant mortal sin generally will mean that one dies out of a state of grace (e.g., chances of heaven are not looking good). However, it is and has always been the position of the Church that one CANNOT determine whether a person is in a state of understood, obstinate, and unrepentant mortal sin. Only the agent him- or herself (and of course God) is in a position to know. So the Church can say, such-and-such action with such-and-such knowledge, intentions, and circumstances is a sin — but it can never definitively say whether your action fits that category.

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

      Can you back up your claims with quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

      • TA

        Is this some type of joke? Are you a practicing Catholic? Well, I come from over 1,500 years of it in my family history. It was made known to me before confirmation, and it is why the church puts such a permanence on last rites, that if you die unrepentant for a sin, the wage of that sin is death, hell. You have to know this. You should also know, if you are a practicing member of the church, the most recent statements from the Vatican continues to assert that being a practicing LGTB is a sin, which means if you are a baptized Catholic, member of the church, and you die without repenting for being a practicing LGTB (since the church considers it a sin in an of itself), you are going to hell. Here are the words of your church on what they call the ‘sin of homosexuality.’
        http://www.tldm.org/News9/PopeHomosexualsDestroyThemselves.htm
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/09/pope-denounces-gay-marraige_n_1334504.html

        And since you asked for a citation from the Catechism, here you are.
        http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2358

        The wolves in sheep’s cloth posting exculpatory congratulations on this board might be able to lie to this young lady that they have her best interests at heart, but she needs to know what she’s getting herself into. She’s joining a church whose leadership and authority considers her to be suffering from a “disorder” for being who she is (under the guise of relativizing her sexual orientation as a lifestyle choice).

        • Hidden One

          Wait a second. I’m a heterosexual. If I choose to be celibate, does that make me a non-practising heterosexual? Do I have to “practise” my ‘sexuality’? Am I denying myself by not having sexual relations with a member of the opposite sex? If not for a month? A year? My lifetime? The next ten minutes?

          I think that there’s a problem in the comment that I am presently replying to that lies below the surface level reasoning.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

          According to the Catechism, depression is also listed as a disorder, and with the same technical definition.

        • KL

          I’m a practicing Catholic and well aware of what the Church teaches. And yes, as I said above, unrepentant sin puts one in danger of eternal separation from God (what is often called Hell). However, while the Church must (and does) educate its members about the spiritual dangers of various actions, she does not and cannot pronounce judgment on the state of anyone’s soul. There are very specific criteria that must be met for an action to qualify as mortal sin, and it is impossible to determine whether those criteria are met from observation. Again, only the agent and God can actually know. The Church or her representatives can observe that particular actions and particular circumstances appear to fit the criteria, but they cannot definitively say whether they in fact do. See the Catechism, ss. 1854-1864 (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm).

        • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

          Okay, here’s the citation you gave:

          “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

          Where does this say that “all homosexuals are going to hell”? I don’t see it.

        • Oregon Catholic

          I think being able to get this:
          “being a practicing LGTB is a sin, which means if you are a baptized Catholic, member of the church, and you die without repenting for being a practicing LGTB (since the church considers it a sin in an of itself), you are going to hell.”
          from the passage you link to in the Catechism explains a lot about why you are no longer Catholic, but it has nothing to do with what Catholicism actually teaches.

        • Peggy Hagen

          No, let’s get to the heart of the matter. You have family records going back to the 500s? As the daughter of a genealogist – that, sir, is awe-inspiring.

          • Paul Prescod

            If you can trace your ancestry back to the point that you have let’s say 100 ancestors then you can make many statements with confidence about 1 of them. If you are a standard, white European then isn’t it most likely that you have thousands of European ancestors from the 500s? And if so, isn’t it highly likely that at least one of them was Christian?

      • Jenny

        @JoAnna: Conditions required for an act to be a mortal sin (the kind that keeps you from heaven) according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

        1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131

        KL does not deny that that the Church considers sex outside of marriage to qualify as “grave matter”. Only, that the Church does not presume to know whether the individual person truly understands/accepts that the act in question is “grave matter”.

        • KL

          Whoops, posted my reply before seeing yours. Thanks for your helpful clarification!

        • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

          Jenny, I’m well aware of what mortal sin is and its conditions, thanks.

          I asked TA for a statement that proves his/her assertion that Church teaching states that “All homosexuals are going to hell.” As expected, he was unable to provide one, as the Church does not presume to dictate which individuals are going to hell – only God can read the heart and mind of a sinner upon his/her death.

    • Giovanni Tardini

      Whenever one identifies being Christians with following a bunch of rules, a lot of facts will remain unexplained:
      1) why should these rules ever remain unchanged?
      2) why would people bother about belonging to any confession, when all they need is to learn a few books and possibly merge them into one’s own collection of moral principle?
      3) why would such an ideology survive 2000 years, with a huge amount of sinners at every level of its “hierarchy” (including the low ones, btw)?
      The Catholic church does not relate salvation for all those with the minimum “sins coefficient”. It says everybody is a sinner, and none who sincerely regrets any of his sins will be denied forgiveness. And while the Church does call some “saints”, it never says “this and that person are certainly damned”. They condemn the sin, not the sinner. The fact that priests are bound to keep anybody’s sins secret is a consequence. Some of them (s. Johannes Nepomuk) payed with life to defend that.

      • Giovanni Tardini

        but most of all: why should God become a man at all?
        “Mesiter non era parturir Maria” (Dante, Divine Commedy,Purgatory III)

        • PJ

          The same and only reason God does everything/anything: Love. Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of Christianity.

  • rachel

    leah,

    as a convert myself, i totally support you in taking some time to sit with all this for awhile before having to defend every nuance of your faith. it’s been four years for me and i STILL couldn’t answer most of the deluge of questions.

    but i remember the time of my conversion as being so dizzingly freeing…. having your entire worldview altered is refreshing, and good. and i hope you take space to live that without needing to defend it. ultimately it all rides on an impenetrable mystery, for better or worse.

    also, i am a queer christian (catholic-loving, but not catholic) person. glad to know i am not alone!

    blessings.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      Agreed. As Patrick Coffin is wont to say, “Get on in, the water’s terrible!”

  • Owlmirror

    Hi, I have a formatting question/request:
    Do you have access to the CSS for your blog, or can you apply a personal stylesheet? I find the low-contrast text, especially in the blockquoted material (gray-on-gray) to be hard/annoying to read, and would appreciate all-black text, if that’s something that is not hard for you to change.

    I did try changing my browser settings, but that overdid it, and it made other parts of the page disappear (there does not seem to be any granularity as to how browser color settings are applied).

    Yours for greater readability…

    • Horne Fisher

      The contrast between blockquote background and text is certainly on the low side. Setting the color to #4E4E4E or lower on the “blockquote p” selector would bring it within the acceptable range. As Mark Shea’s blockquote paragraph text is set to #000000 (black), I’d guess the CSS of Patheos is configurable on a per-blog basis.

      Contrast reference: http://www.snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html

      • leahlibresco

        Yes, but not by me. I’m still pushing to not get blockquotes in italics, b/c then I lose the original italicization).

    • http://last-conformer.net/ Gilbert

      Owlmirror, this weekend I’ve been teaching myself Greasemonkey by writing myself a user script fixing this and some other Patheos design choices I dislike. I won’t be publishing it generally but if you read this answer and use Firefox and care enough feel free to contact me and I’ll be sending you a copy.

  • Lynette

    Love the Video! Thanks

  • Kristen inDallas

    What “morality” pointed toward for you, was what “truth” points to for me. I am a new reader, basically Catholic in my mind, but still figuring out the “practicing” part. Wanted to say I admire your honesty here and in all the posts I’ve read so far. I imagine a lot of the media buzz has just as much to do with a general shock and admiration from those of us who have gone way too long without hearing someone that makes a living off of having opinions that is still willing to say “I don’t know.”

  • David

    I saw your story on CNN. I think a lot of people are analyzing your conversion too closely. They want logical answers, and logical reasons for why you converted. But really – religion is about emotion, and faith. The antithesis of logic.

    You can give any answer you want for why you converted. But really its because you have a gut feeling deep down that you want to believe, you want to be a Catholic. That feeling has probably been there for some time, and you have societal pressures that you finally decided to give in to. I imagine it is probably a relief – you are now in accordance with family and friends – and the additional belief that now you have a supreme being looking after you. Reality probably isn’t as difficult to face anymore.

    It also sounds like your initial “atheism” wasn’t based on sound principles. You believe/d in a soul? God and soul basically go hand in hand – it doesn’t surprise me that you are just shoring up your beliefs now.

    • Phillip

      Do you have any evidence to back up your claim that every conversion to religion is based on emotion not on logic? Simply stating something doesn’t make it true.

      • Steve

        True but most conversion from non-belief to belief seem to have a strong emotional component attached to them. Conversion from belief to non-belief will often take years. That’s what it took for me. I did not even realized when I became an Atheist. One day I realize that the possibility of God, the Christian one in particular, was just too unlikely. I had not choice but to admit I was an Atheist. It was not a choice but rather a position by default.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

          Broad strokes do not bring us closer to truth.

    • Hidden One

      Leah has logical reasons, as you should know from reading recent blog posts of hers. No stereotyping.

    • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

      I know that it seems obvious to say that religion is completely emotional, but I don’t see it that way. Could you please provide some supporting commentary?

  • kenneth

    Why is it worth anyone’s time to get steamed about Leah’s conversion or the rationales offered for doing so? It’s one person’s personal journey which at the end of the day does not make either atheism or Catholicism any more or less tenable positions for anyone else. Nor is the move all that surprising to anyone who has been paying attention to her writings over the past months. She was “atheist in name only” for some time. Atheism doesn’t, or shouldn’t, by its nature, depend on charismatic figures to hold it together. There almost seems to be a worry that her public departure will “shake the faith” of other atheists or something. Catholic apologists, of course, will continue to crow about this as a validation of their canard that their religion is the only rational answer to anything. Let them have their day in the sun. They have few left. For every arrival, they have four or five departures and hundreds of millions more whose Catholic identity is purely nominal or entirely self-defined.

    • Steve

      Actually, if somebody had a really good answer to explain why they decided to become a Christian or a believer of any religion, I would gladly listen to it. I would be the 1st one to convert if there was just one good reason.

      • http://sylvietheolog.wordpress.com Sylvie D. Rousseau

        Would truth be a good enough reason for you?

        • Steve

          Of course. What’s the truth?

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

            Oh, you Protestants. Always quoting scripture.

          • http://sylvietheolog.wordpress.com Sylvie D. Rousseau

            I was expecting this quote and rhetorical question.
            Pilate knew the truth more than he pretended and was induced by the circumstance to write it on the cross for every nation forever. And he was adamant not to remove it: What I have written, I have written. Ironic vengeance on those who forced him to condemn the innocent.
            Like Pilate, you know in your conscience what the truth is, though it is possible you lack more or less the love of truth that would save you.

      • kenneth

        There is no good reason that can be imparted from one person to another through argumentation. Religion is not something you arrive at via intellect, and I think that may be the ultimate determining factor in Leah’s conversion process. One can find the reasoning of one faith (or none) to be more or less persuasive, but ultimately you’re either called to it or not.

        • Erick

          Actually, Catholics believe that one can arrive at belief in God through rational thought and intellect.

          We do not believe that God became man because some book said so. We believe because it’s a historically attested fact. We do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead because some book said so. We believe because it’s a historically attested fact.

          Of course, whether you think the witnesses we rely on are trustworthy and credible is up to you. But that’s another argument entirely.

          • Steve

            “We believe because it’s a historically attested fact.” If that was true, everybody would be Christian. There is good evidence that Christian sects started during the 1st century but there is no solid evidence that Jesus ever existed and even less evidence that the event of the gospels actually took place. If you disagree, please list the supposedly historically attested facts.

          • Oregon Catholic

            Steve, this is a comfortable assertion for you to make – of course I’d believe if only someone could show me the truth. Judas Iscariot lived with Jesus for 3 years, was privy to all his teachings, was the recipient of his love, watched the miracles that were performed, and he still rejected and betrayed Jesus. This is one of truths about humanity. We have the ability to deny or reject Truth even when it’s right in front of us. We have the ability to prefer our lies to seeing the truth. Usually because the truth demands too much from us that we’re not willing to give.

          • Erick

            “If that was true, everybody would be Christian.”
            Steve, plenty of historically attested facts have been denied by people — the Holocaust, the moon landing, 9/11 are just some examples. So that argument is false.

            Like I said, whether you actually believe that Catholic sources are credible or not, is a different argument.

    • http://askepticalhumanist.blogspot.com/ Dan Fidler

      Bang on Kenneth! Like atheism, religion is a personal choice. She has chosen hers and I applaud her for being true to herself. It is not our place to question her, at least not right now. Let her get her moorings. If she goes off her rocker, we’ll be there. But I have a suspicion that whatever she decides in the end, it will be well thought out. But it will be her decision, and her’s alone.

      • kenneth

        If she goes off her rocker, she’ll be fire spinning with my people at Pagan Spirit Gathering! :)

        • leahlibresco

          Man, fire spinning? Way to catch flies with honey.

      • Steve

        I disagree, atheism is not a choice, at least for most people. I never chose to be an atheist, particularly given that most of my family members and friends are not atheists. I call myself an atheist because of intellectual honesty. For me, the possibility of the Christian God is as likely as Santa Claus.

  • David
  • http://www.offthewrittenpath.com Andrew

    Leah, your spiritual/philosophical journey is your own and I wish you luck on it. The only thing that bothers me is that it seems to have generated a fair amount of good press for the Catholic church at a time when many of us in the secular/progressive world are fighting it on all fronts: to ensure proper health care for women; to secure full rights for LGBT people; to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable in the civil court system for the ongoing sexual abuse scandal. (In other words, Adam’s point #4). I realize it’s not really your fault, and that a public process was unavoidable, but as public as you’ve been with your conversion, I hope you are equally as public in disagreeing with your new church on causes you find important.

    • kenneth

      I don’t think Leah’s conversion is going to elevate the credibility of the bishops and Rome all that much. Even most lifelong Catholics are at odds with them on these various issues you mention. They’re happy for any positive news coverage they get and I’m sure they consider any high-profile conversion a feather in their caps, but they have roughly the same moral authority and credibility as the Mexican cartels these days, and no one conversion story is going to change that.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

        The same moral authority and credibility? Really?

        • http://www.offthewrittenpath.com Andrew

          Yeah, it was really a rude exaggeration to insult the cartels like that.

          • kenneth

            The cartels at least are honest enough not to make any pretense about being a moral authority, let alone the supreme moral authority as they carry out their depredations. Their finances are also more transparent than Rome’s!

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

            Clever.

  • Dennis Mahon

    Hang in there, kid.

  • http://NONE CATFIXER

    I’m a little envious that a little kid is getting so much attention! Just kidding!
    Since you love philosophy so much you should read papal encyclicals. If you catch them contradicting each other you might then disprove the doctrine of papal infallibility.

    • Andrew

      Umm…yeah, papal encyclicals are not infallible. That is not a teaching of the Church.

  • Erick

    First of all, welcome Leah! May God grant you all love, peace, and happiness as you continue through your conversion.

    I just wanted to give a couple of thought on a couple of issues with Catholicism you said you are struggling with… just another point of view of how an ordinary, lay, cradle Catholic has interpreted the teachings (one of many you’ll get I’m sure).

    1) Catholicism, being a 2000+ year old community, has had many teaching methods and teachers, many nuanced thoughts and thinkers, many faithful and not so faithful members. It’s said that people don’t really hate Catholicism, only what they think Catholicism is. It’s a fair thought to remember as you wade through to Truth and as you are criticized in your conversion. Remember that outside of Christ himself, there is not one teaching method; not one teacher; not one thinker; not one school of thought; not one bishop; not one saint that has encompassed the totality of Catholicism. Be aware that some thoughts are just that — thoughts — and are not actual doctrine or dogma.

    2) I know you haven’t gotten a good handle on Heaven and Hell yet. As a Catholic, it is doctrine/dogma that Heaven and Hell are not places. Rather they are states of being.

    The way I’ve interpreted it: God’s love for us is so unceasing that it continues to encompass all in the afterlife. In fact, this is what the afterlife is for us — being in God and God being in us. For those who have ordered their life according to God’s will, then being in God and God being in them must constitute a state of utmost bliss — what we call Heaven. But for those who have turned away from God’s will, then being in God and God being in them must constitute the opposite — utmost misery, Hell. To me, it’s akin to a woman who hates goodie-two-shoes but all the men she ever meets are goodie-two-shoes good guys. She must feel very tortured. Or perhaps it’s like being stuck in an elevator with an overly friendly person you don’t like. Feels like a punishment, right? Yet it actually isn’t.

    There are questions about non-Catholics in this scheme. I think a lot of people are confused about what the Church actually says. Officially, the Church does not know, and we leave their fate to God. What the Church does know is following the faith leads to God. I personally think of it this way: Getting to heaven is like climbing a mountain. Heaven is the summit. Catholicism is the mountain climbing gear that will help people climb the mountain. Catholics have gear. Non-Catholics don’t. But this does not mean that all Catholics will make it to the top. And it does not mean that all non-Catholics will fail to reach the top.

    Anyway, I’m praying for you as you navigate this time in your life. You’ll face a lot of challenges in this future you have chosen for yourself. May God grant you strength, courage, and wisdom in Faith.

  • http://thecornerwithaview.blogspot.com Julie Robison

    Leah,

    This has nothing to do with this post, but I’ll be in NYC at the end of July and I’m going to try to see Peter and the Starcatcher because I think I remember you seeing it with your family(?)! The trailer looked awesome.

    I’m so exhausted after work et al. that writing has definitely taken a backseat since my engagement. I’ve also been sidestepping your combox for a while now because I simply don’t know what to say. The arguments are all the same, revolving in a blender of misconceptions of pre-conceived notions about a fallen world where grace flows abundantly. The joy is this, though: people read you because they too are seekers of truth. If we Catholics rejoice, it is not a na-na-na in the face of other people. Our joy does not take away from others, because it is celebratory! Another believer comes to the feast!

    I’m so happy you’re converting, but don’t be too hard on yourself: time is on your side. You shouldn’t be ready to answer every question thrown at you – but if you look into every question thrown at you, a deeper understanding and comprehension of our beautiful and deep faith will stir within your pen, mind and heart.

    And nice armor!!! You’re going to need it. ;)

    Jules

    • leahlibresco

      Oh excellent! I really hope you get to see it; it’s simply a delight. And I miss your blogging, but your engagement is just wonderful enough to allay my wrath. :)

      I’ve been trying to take answers slow — no rebuttal posts without a day’s lag to make sure I’m being thoughtful and to make sure I can’t feel pressured into immediate replies.

  • http://askepticalhumanist.blogspot.com/ Dan Fidler

    Leah,
    Good on you!

    I am an atheist. At 21 I was baptized in a christian church but felt that religion just wasn’t right for me. I stayed in the church for years before coming to the realization that I didn’t belong and it wasn’t speaking the “truth” to my inner compass. It was a long process to get where I am now, but I am happy and content. I am a good person and serve my country in the U.S. armed forces. I believe my moral and ethical compass is where I need it to be so I can be a responsible member of society.

    You seem to be a good person as well. You are honest with yourself and others and are willing to take the weight of the storm for what you believe in. No matter the opinions of others, you did exactly what was right for you. You listened to yourself and followed what you believe. I don’t think anyone on either side of the debate needs to discuss with you about your rights and wrongs. You did what was right for you and I commend you for that.

    I think I speak for many when I say I am very interested to see your progression in your faith. I wish you good luck and fortune. I will be adding your blog to my favorites. You might not convert me, but you definitely have me hooked! :-)

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      Are you really congratulating someone on a journey to utter complete falsehood?

      Atheism before relativism.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

        … written to an atheist, not as one.

      • http://askepticalhumanist.blogspot.com/ Dan Fidler

        No, and you either missed or ignored the point. I am congratulating someone on being honest with her beliefs. Like you do not want anyone denying yours, she should not be denied hers. I’m happier that she is happier.

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

          Honesty should be praised but only because truth should be pursued. Would you praise a man with well-trimmed nails who was an absolute rake around the ladies?

          • Tara S

            Thou art prettily-mannered, for a troll, sir. Pray tell, dids’t thou study with Erasmus of Rotterdam? Knowest thou the proper placement of knife and fork, also?

    • Tara S

      Veritas omnia vincit! Awesome Dan. The pursuit of truth is every bit as important as the assumed possession of truth. Even if Christianity is True, it doesn’t do us any good to proclaim it without understanding it. Perceiving how it IS true is crucial, and if the pursuit of that understanding might sometimes lead a person out of the ranks of the Church, that is not actually such a bad thing. Maybe it is just that the Truth is leading you out of a flawed perception of what Christianity is supposed to be, in which case the Truth can lead you back into the church again….assuming that is where the purest version of truth is. If that’s not where the most pure truth is upheld and defended, then it’s better that we know that. The Truth is the thing. God is Truth (Truth as in Beauty, Truth as in Goodness, Truth as in Factually Accurate) or He’s nothing at all. Hurray for Truth!

  • http://campus-agape.org Joseph Kovitch

    I applaud your courage to be authentic. I resonate with your hunger for mystery. I find your journey compelling and your honesty a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale religious conversation. Have you read any of Teilhard de Chardin? I would suggest “The Divine Milieu” – I am a spiritual companion to students at Case Western Reserve U and other younger creatives in the Cleveland area (Ohio) – your inner religious dialogue and the questions you ask resonate with most of the folk I have encountered in coffee houses and pubs…The question, “Can’t we get beyond sex and discover a higher moral conversation like our accountability to cosmic love and compassion in a world of poverty and war???” is always lingering…
    If you ever decide to travel to the Cleveland area – would love to have you join a conversation with some cultural/spiritual creatives rooted in an Episcopal/Catholic/divine doubter community…As an ordained spiritual leader in the Christian community I celebrate your journey…keep musing and stirring the questions of faith and Church!! My prayers are with you. Let me know if you begin broadening the conversation with folks beyond your blog…peace.

  • David

    Andrew, the way you speak about the Catholic Church, one would think you and your friends were up against the Empire in Star Wars. The Catholic Church is for proper health care for women; the Church is for universal health care. The Church is for the full civil rights of all, and indeed, members of the Church, be they clergy or laity, should be held accountable for the sexual abuse of children. The Catholic Church is with you far more than you might think. It may well be that certain institutions and members within the Church fail to live up to its full teaching, get too involved in politics or do a terrible job of communicating the breadth of its teaching to outsiders, but I can assure you, a thoughtful consideration of what the Church is actually for would I think pleasantly surprise you, even if you still disagreed with it on many other issues.

    • Alexandra

      In practice, the Church hasn’t shown us that they are actually for those things. They’re more about trying to reinterpret what religious freedom means, accuse the nuns and Girl Scouts of “radical feminism”, rally against secular marriage equality, and shame the victims of the sex abuse scandal. My Catholic high school’s motto was “Not words, but deeds” and examining the Church by that standard, I see it failing pretty hard.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

        Who’s trying to change the definition of “religious freedom?”

        Such a motto is a motto for a reason, and for the same reason commandments are commandments. They’re hard to follow; we have to make sure we remember them.

    • http://www.offthewrittenpath.com Andrew

      The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the church’s vocal and right-wing leadership, has been inordinately outspoken and involved in U.S. politics, and has been very clear on what they think on those issues. I realize that Catholicism is diverse and many Catholics are more liberal (including, thankfully, many in the Seattle area where I live, and hopefully Leah, once she settles in), but the leadership is not. Moreover, the leadership’s recent reaction to American nuns (who dare to value social justice over the bishops’ social agenda) has made it very clear what they think of dissent.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

        “Vocal and right-wing?” Who? The Democratic Party at Prayer? BWAHAHAHAHA

        • http://www.offthewrittenpath.com Andrew

          Well, THAT video clearly doesn’t have an agenda. Also, being from February 2010, it clearly takes into account the bishops’ behavior during the vast majority of the Obama administration.

          Oh, wait.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

            The Democratic Party at Prayer is a joke older than Voris, dude.

  • http://jwwartick.com/ J.W. Wartick

    Leah,

    I wanted to let you know that I have been praying for you and thanking God for you. Please feel free to ask many any questions (via my email, which I assume is visible to you; or through my web site).

    -J.W.

  • http://www.theforkstrikes.wordpress.com SAK7

    Strange to see all the comments warning Leah of the perils and pitfalls of the Catholic Church. One might think a woman such as this is fully aware of all the above referenced positions of the Catholic faith and it’s Magesterium (and likely much more). Choosing this particular flavor of theism wasn’t a yellow pages accident but clearly a long process involving much struggle and, ultimately, a leap of faith across the gaps of her incomplete understanding. A much safer approach surely was to be had. Any alternative approach, quite frankly, would have been a safer and easier path. Leah is either an addled brained broodmare as suggested above, or one tough, bright cookie willing to endure much in the name of Truth.

  • calahalexander

    Leah, I loved you when you were an atheist. I love you now. I’d still love you if you went back to being an atheist, or became a Buddhist or a Hindu or an….anything. I’m pretty sure that’s how most of your readers feel, even the ones chomping at the bit for an explanation, so don’t get down over the sudden deluge of naysayers. Go decompress and watch Doctor Who or something. (BTW, you looked gorgeous in your interview.)

    • leahlibresco

      Calah, this is so sweet.

      • http://paraphasic.blogspot.com Elliot

        Now if only series 7 were out already!

    • kenneth

      We’d even love you if you were, you know……Canadian! :)

  • David Inc

    Leah, I would encourage – No hold on, let us drop “would” :) -I encourage you to pick up and read Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity” in the next few months. It might be that the book will be assigned to you as part of the RCIA program along with Robert Barron’s “Catholicism”, I hope so. If you wish to get a fairly good grasp of the Gospels and the Bible’s grand narrative in a short period of time, I suggest you pick up N.T Wright’s two most recent books, “Simply Jesus” and “How God Became King”. I recommend you check out Wright’s website and download the lectures available there for free. http://www.ntwrightpage.com/ – Wright, along with Ratzinger is up there as one of the best communicators of what Christianity is. Here is a lecture, one I think you will like, that gets to the very heart of Christianity, the Resurrection, and what it means for us all and the world. It centres very much on the question of how we can know anything. – Faraday lecture 2007: Can a Scientist believe in the Resurrection? – http://media.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/WebMedia/NTWright.mp3
    Enjoy! ;)

  • Brett

    Leah,
    I could go on for days building arguments in favor of your decision to switch from Atheism to Christianity AND I could go on for days building arguments against your decision to select Catholicism, however; being one of many immersed in the frenetic pace of life and out of respect for your time, I will try to keep my comments and advice to a minimum.

    First, a question for you: The Jewish tradition distinguishes between arguing for the sake of victory/ego (which it doesn’t value) and arguing for the sake of God/truth (which it does value). What is your deepest intention for arguing/blogging? Truth or $omething else?

    A little bit of my Worldview: Similar to Karen Armstrong you could define me as a “Freelance Monotheist”, however; I have a strong foundation in Buddhism and Gnosticism. Above all else, I believe in one God and I am an open-minded seeker of truth, regardless of which door truth chooses to reveals itself.

    Advice, a Challenge, and a Prediction: As you continue your Bible classes in pursuit of full membership into the Catholic Church and BEFORE you make it official take some time to step aside from the noise, possibly a solitary respite to the mountains or a beautiful Caribbean island and bring along an open mind (as free as possible from your conditioned existence) and the following two books: Dr. Elaine Pagels, “The Gnostic Gospels”, and Willis Barnstone and Marvin Meyer’s “Gnostic Bible”.

    Next, take a journey back in time to the beginning of Christianity and read carefully how Dr. Pagels describes not only the apostolic succession of Peter and the religious and philosophical differences between Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity, but also to the social and political motivations of early orthodox Christian leaders who used deception, persecution, martyrdom, and perceived authority to organize themselves into what eventually became Catholicism. Use the Gnostic Bible as a reference for pondering Dr. Pagels claims and if after doing this you are able to present clear, convincing arguments that Catholicism is where you want to place your bets, then, I will likely join the same effort and throw my hat into the Pope’s ring. Of course, I predict you will see the light and you will continue pursuing your beliefs in Christianity but NOT as a member of the Catholic Church. Game on!

    • http://www.jrganymede.com Adam G.

      The Pagels book has been widely debunked. Not really an authoritative source.

      • Brett

        Adam G, How can you just make a statement that Pagels book has been “widely debunked” without showing proof? Her book has NOT been debunked as it remains the first, widely recognized, authoritative account of the Nag Hammadi finding in 1945. It is the primary resource for an introduction into Gnosticism used regularly for decades in prominent schools of religion. Check your facts.

  • David Inc

    Brett, I will go one better, forget secondary sources, you should encourage her to read the primary sources. Let Leah read the early texts of the Church herself and make up her mind. They are all available in good English translations, online and in print. As for the claims you make, the Christians who were being persecuted and martyred during that time were those proclaiming in public Jesus to be Lord and not Caesar, not the Gnostics who spent their time working on their own private spirituality and were politically and socially disengaged. If you are a Gnostic and you believe the material creation is fundamentally deficient, and the only path in life and way to escape the world is to acquire more and more spiritual knowledge, then why would you bother challenging Caesar? But if the creation is fundamentally good and something new under the sun has taken place, the reign of the true Lord, then you have reason to spill your blood and shake the foundations of the system, which is precisely what happened.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      She was a Gnostic, and sometimes she relapses.

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

        Oops — saw you were responding to Brett.

  • josephine

    Leah, would you email me your birth information: month/day/year, time and place? We all have our unique identity and within yours there is an answer as to why you have been driven to find spiritual or religious answers to life questions.

    • deiseach

      Oooh, if you’re going to erect her horoscope, Jospehine, what system are you going to use – Western or Eastern (Indian, which precesses the equinoxes)? House Placidus system? Including the Arabic Parts or not? And the major asteroids like Ceres?

      I have a very amateur interest in astrology, so I’m fascinated to know what you might discover :-)

      • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

        Personally, I use Indian, Lahiri ayanamsha, whole-sign/whole-house, the Part of Fortune, and I avoid the asteroids as factors that excessively complicate.

  • Someguy

    You should die. How dare you convert to a bunch of indoctrinated retarded religious nutjobs. Instead of being rational, logical, and reasonable; you converted to stupidity.

    i guess you don’t like thinking for yourself anymore. Go back home and become a housemaid, go pleasure your man, ignore science, and just die off. the world is a better place without you

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      Can we keep him?

      • calahalexander

        Oh hahaha, THIS made me laugh. Best response ever.

    • Game of Trolls

      You attack her for ignoring science, yet you reveal yourself to be completely oblivious to the extensive research showing that reverse psychology never works.

    • http://www.jrganymede.com Adam G.

      Your attempt to fake being an atheist is not convincing. Your portrayal is too crude.

    • http://ecben.wordpress.com Will

      THAT will show her! Your display of rationality and intelligence is as powerful and convincing as…the people shouting Bible verses on the subway!

  • Alex

    If you’re serious about this, then would you mind emailing the guy who runs the Planet Atheism blog aggregator and getting Unequally Yoked taken off it?

  • http://catholicboyrichard.wordpress.com Richard G Evans

    Although I have only recently come across your story and blog, I am a Catholic Christian who returned to the Church after 35 years away. During that time, at various times and seasons of searching, I was a married evangelical (Assemblies of God) minister for 12 years and an LGBT activist after my divorce in 1991 for around 15 years. To a much lesser extent, my story too captured the fancy of many and still does. But I have learned that some of those same folks, both on the side of religion and those not so inclined, can turn on you on a dime when you least expect it. So be prepared as best you can.

    When the one who I call God stepped in, I eventually returned to my Catholic roots, but not without much internal struggle, particularly in sorting out such issues as SSA (same-sex attraction) and Church authority. If I may offer one piece of free advice it is to go slowly and move carefully. You are in uncharted water at least for now. That will not always be the case of course. But currently you are “big news,” and sometimes that can distract from the real work of inner conversion and journeying you have yet to do. God is far more interested in developing your character through prayer, meditation on Sacred Scripture, entering into the richness of the Mass and Sacred Tradition, and the like.

    You are obviously very intelligent and gifted, and of course the Church (and the secular world as well) loves to publicize what is, in reality, a very personal path you are taking. Turn down some of the interviews for now. Write slowly and at your pace, as you yourself said you plan to do. In short do as you are doing. And know that many are praying for and with you. God bless.

    And congratulations and welcome home!

  • Giovanni Tardini

    By the way, I had started reading “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” but honestly I found it too full of words. It tries to be “for everybody”, but in fact all interesting parts are for experts (which is perfectly ok, but then you should cut a lot). There’s lots of comments, I started skipping them, in particular most of the Achilles’ dialogues are boring and do not really help to a qualitative overview over the following arguments.

    • leahlibresco

      Well, I’m glad you tried it! I know it’s a pretty gonzo style; it worked well for me, but isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

      • Giovanni Tardini

        I tried it a few months ago. The topic sounded very attractive, I love logic (as I love math and languages) and epistemology although I am no expert, I have developed to a “pragmatic” physicist. I love music and the math associated to it – but I know very little beyond Fourier decomposition. Paradoxes attract me, e.g. Escher’s pictures, albeit in a naive way (I never studied the underlying theory). I must confess the volume I came across was a translation and this can make it pretty unreadable, but I was expecting more from the “Bach/Escher” part, which turns to be rather a source of inspiration and quotes. But if one is already familiar with computational logic, Goedel and the likes, it can be very interesting, the book looks abstract and general enough, while trying to keep entertaining.

  • Cous

    This song is going to be stuck in my head all day now.

    • leahlibresco

      I’ve been pretty egregiously humming it at work.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    I have a few solidly-Catholic rocket-scientist type friends- and they say that someone who is really, really thinking about all this stuff will either be an atheist or a Catholic….I’m glad you went the Catholic way (but I will not be reading the comboxes…Jen F’s occasional atheist posts at the NCRegister are just too much…and yours probably will be worse)

  • sentinel1513

    Prayers for your journey! It’s not easy but it is rewarding. Have you read G. K. Chesterton? His story and logic is not different from your own.
    Peace

  • http://theroundearthsimaginedcorners.blogspot.com Rosemary Z.

    For unknown reasons, that song reminded me powerfully of

    United Breaks Guitars
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

  • http://theophor.us Ignatius Theophorus

    I’m as programmer. If you want some sort of rudimentary poll, I can probably get one together for you relatively quickly. Let me know.

  • BenYachov

    I should warn you Leah that Dan Fincke/Camels with Hammers is largely going to be a wasting of your time with his objections.

    He is clearly gearing up to launch a full onslaught against Theodicy, except if you read THE LAST SUPERSTITION(& I notice you list it among the books you read) or any works found in it’s Bibliography like those of Brian Davies(REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL) you would know from a Classic Theistic Perspective, God cannot, given His nature of Subsistent Being Itself (ipsum esse subsistens) be coherently conceived of as a Moral Agent. Or more accurately God is not something that cab be unequivocally compared to a human moral agent at best He is analogously like a human moral agent.

    Fincke is going to assume God is a moral agent (unequivocally compared to a human moral agent) from the get go & base all of his challenges on that unexamined assumption.

    Don’t fall for it. As a Thomist I reject all modern Theodicy (i.e. the idea God is a moral agent that has to make a moral defense of his actions such as allowing Evil).

    God is metaphysically and ontologically good but not morally good the way a human is morally good.
    http://www.aquinasonline.com/Questions/goodevil.html
    I will be keeping my eyes open here.

    • Owlmirror

      So, so, sophistimacated…
      Hm.
        “God cannot, given His nature of Subsistent Being Itself (ipsum esse subsistens) be coherently conceived of as a Moral Agent.”
      Does “cannot … be coherently conceived of as a” mean the same thing as “cannot be a”?

        “God is [...] not morally good”
      Isn’t that exactly a concession of the failure of theodicy?

      • BenYachov

        >Does “cannot … be coherently conceived of as a” mean the same thing as “cannot be a”?

        Not really. I cannot be a Medical Doctor because I didn’t go to medical school or receive any formal medical training but given my human nature and intelligence it is conceivable I could have become one & thus be one. OTOH if I was a silk worm given the nature of a silk worm or a human born without a full brain I couldn’t coherently given that nature be conceived of as a medical doctor.

        God isn’t a moral agent because of some arbitrary exemption from the moral law. Like an absolute human monarch who is above his own laws & subjects. Rather God is not a moral agent pretty much the same way Plato’s Form of the Good is not a moral agent. Could we say Plato’s Form of the Good isn’t really Good because it didn’t stop the Holocaust? Given the nature of the Form of the Good it isn’t coherent to say that. Anymore then I can say my good root beer isn’t good because it didn’t stop the holocaust.

        >Isn’t that exactly a concession of the failure of theodicy?

        Well I have no problem saying all Theodicies could potentially be failures. In fact I often for argument’s sake assume it.
        Modern Theodicies presuppose a post-enlightenment Theistic Personalist view of God not a Classic Theistic view of God. A Classic Theistic God needs a Theodicy like a fish needs a bicycle given he can’t coherently be described as a moral agent.

        http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/09/classical-theism.html
        http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-man-and-classical-theism.html

        • Owlmirror

            > “I cannot be a Medical Doctor because I didn’t go to medical school or receive any formal medical training but given my human nature and intelligence it is conceivable I could have become one & thus be one. ”

          Ah, I think I see what you mean.

          Daniel Dennett describes a nested hierarchy of the possible (Chapter 5 of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea). Thus:

          (Logical
            (Physical
              (Biological
                (Historical
                  (Actual)))))

          So your example of you being a medical doctor is something historically possible (but not actually the case). I would phrase the example of a silkworm/brainless human being a medical doctor as logically possible, but physically impossible (no brain, no mind capable of learning medical knowledge).

          But since God is not physical, the only applicable terms are logical ones. So “cannot … be coherently conceived of as a” appears to map to “logically impossible”.

          ======

            > “Modern Theodicies presuppose a post-enlightenment Theistic Personalist view of God not a Classic Theistic view of God.”

          Well, Leah phrased her belief as being in a person, so that’s the concept she’s going to have to defend. If she genuinely preferred something as abstract and conceptual as classical theism, I don’t see why she would have converted to Catholicism in the first place.

          If you’re going to give up on God as a person, you might as well give up on person-God-based religion, and call yourself a pantheist.

          • BenYachov

            God as “Personal”. Brian Davies points out calling the Godhead “personal” was

            first done by a Unitarian heretic post-reformation. It is not part of historic

            Christian language. The Hypostasis’ of the Trinity are called “Persons” but not

            the Godhead. God cannot be compared to creatures in an unequivocal manner, nor

            a wholely equivocal manner but only in an analigous manner. God is “personal” in the sense that He has Intellect and Will but not personal in the sense He is some type of disembodied human mind unequivocally compared to our minds only more Uber.

            >If she genuinely preferred something as abstract and conceptual as classical

            theism, I don’t see why she would have converted to Catholicism in the first

            place.

            We experience God as Personal even thought God is more than a mere human person.

            God can be understood analigously with the abstract and conceptual intellect but

            He is experienced as personal and relates to us on our level. That is of course very natural.
            God is Transendent Unknowable & Inconciveable in strict unequivocal terms. But

            let us compare our relationship to God with the following imperfect analogy. An

            animal can relate to us & have a relationship with us but it can’t really

            concieve of the world the way we do. No does it relate to us on our level.

            From the viewpoint of an Animal a human being is just another animal only more

            dominant. It would experience our actions toward it from the viewpoint of another mere animal interacting with it.

            When I yelled at my late beloved Cat to get out of my chair the Cat didn’t understand English and intellectively conclude “Oh he is saying get off the chair in his funny Human language”. Rather the Cat’s brute Instinic moved her to relact to me as she would to any other aggressive animal.

            God is not in out class. God in His nature is so radically different from us that Davies said God plus the Universe by definition does not equal two. But naturally he would relate to us on our level. So I don’t really get this Classic theism = Impersonal God/Tao type thingy.

          • BenYachov

            >But since God is not physical, the only applicable terms are logical ones. So “cannot … be coherently conceived of as a” appears to map to “logically impossible”.

            I might agree with you here tentatively of course till we find more common ground.

            Anyway read the Feser links on Classic Theism vs Theistic Personalism. One of the many problems with the Theistic Personalist “god” is it’s idolatrous anthopomorphism. The TPG is simple too human and not at all divine. It renders the Incarnation of Christ both pointless and redundant.

          • BenYachov

            >If you’re going to give up on God as a person, you might as well give up on person-God-based religion, and call yourself a pantheist.

            Rather I know it is heresy to claim God is unequivocally compared to a human person. Calling God “personal” without qualification solves nothing. It’s a false choice between believing in an Anthropomorphic disembodied human mind with unlimited preternatural powers on the one hand vs believing in The Force. I choose Classical Theism as the only rational third choice.

          • Owlmirror

              > “God as “Personal”. Brian Davies points out calling the Godhead “personal” was first done by a Unitarian heretic post-reformation.”

            Who?

            According to the OED, the first person to use the phrase “personal God” was . . . Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1829, Aids to Reflection (&c). “A good, wise, living and personal God.”

            Is that in fact who he meant by “a Unitarian heretic”? That’s amusing.

            Interestingly, I see that the Catholic Encyclopaedia is also cited: “The Gnostics, although their doctrines varied in details, denied the existence of a personal creator.”

              > It is not part of historic Christian language.

            So what? The various books of the bible, and the works of many early theologians, take it for granted that God is a person.

              > The Hypostasis’ of the Trinity are called “Persons” but not the Godhead.

            So God is not called a person, except for when God is indeed called a person.

            As long as I’m looking at the OED, I note that a citation from 1300 states: “His goddhed es in trinite.” Given the use of a personal pronoun like “His” (He, Him), which Christian theologians continue to do — including, I note, yourself — I repeat that this takes it for granted that a person is being referred to.

            But feel free to refer to God as “it” (or “It”, if you must).

              > God is “personal” in the sense that He has Intellect and Will but not personal in the sense He is some type of disembodied human mind unequivocally compared to our minds only more Uber.

            This is terribly confused. It seems that you want to have it both ways: God is not like a person at all, and God is indeed like a person, only better. This is a contradiction in terms, and I suspect it explains why Thomistic theology, like all theology, makes no sense.

            How can God have intellect or will if he isn’t (or hasn’t) a mind? Intellect and will are characteristics of minds; you cannot separate them off and say that God has one without the other. That’s like saying God is handsome but without features.

            This also undercuts your claim that God cannot coherently be conceived of as a moral agent, since intellect and will are necessary and sufficient for agency. Or do you mean that God is an amoral agent?

              > We experience God as Personal even thought God is more than a mere human person.

            What does “experience” mean, there? Is it like imagining an imaginary friend? Or is it more like visualizing a fictional character? Or maybe sometimes one and sometimes the other?

              > He is experienced as personal and relates to us on our level.

            If that were actually true, everyone would “hear” God speak in English, or rather, in their own language.

              > But let us compare our relationship to God with the following imperfect analogy. An animal can relate to us & have a relationship with us but it can’t really concieve of the world the way we do. No does it relate to us on our level.

            This analogy is far less perfect than you perhaps realize. As you note, it’s possible to “communicate” with a nonhuman animal on an emotional level; to use body language and vocalizations to convey mood, and perhaps a bit more. That’s certainly relating to them on their level.

            If God could indeed relate to us on our level, then not only would God speak in our own language, but in exactly the vocabulary and terminology best suited to our understanding. Children would hear simple talk; young adults would hear something more sophisticated; and the educated would hear the most abstract and complex communications.

            But of course, there’s nothing. A remote and abstract God cannot relate to anyone — and neither can a non-existent one.

              > God in His nature is so radically different from us that Davies said God plus the Universe by definition does not equal two.

            That sounds like pantheism, or perhaps panentheism. It’s hard to know without context.

              > But naturally he would relate to us on our level.

            Persons relate; nonpersons/the impersonal do not.

            Is God a “he” or an “it”?

              > So I don’t really get this Classic theism = Impersonal God/Tao type thingy.

            The “God” argued for by Aquinas’ 5 ways is not personal at all. Those are all about the substructure of reality, not a person that can relate to anyone. It is indeed logically impossible for “existingness” to be a moral agent.

            But as soon as you start claiming that God has “intellect” and “will”, and “relates” to us, well, what you’re saying contradicts your previous statements.

            ===

              > One of the many problems with the Theistic Personalist “god” is it’s idolatrous anthopomorphism.

            The Classic Theism “god” can be accused of being idolatrously abstract.

              > The TPG is simple too human and not at all divine.

            It depends on how “divine” or “god is defined, doesn’t it?

            How would you define the term? I admit that I have a tendency to use “person” in my definition of “god” — because that’s what is either explicit or implied about the god of religions.

              > It renders the Incarnation of Christ both pointless and redundant.

            And the argument against the god of classic theism is that it would render the putative incarnation of Christ both pointless and logcially impossible.

            ===

              > Rather I know it is heresy to claim God is unequivocally compared to a human person.

            The first 3 chapters of Genesis (and probably more, as well as various verses here and there) are heretical, now?

            Can you cite the specific condemnation of comparing God to a human person?

              > It’s a false choice between believing in an Anthropomorphic disembodied human mind with unlimited preternatural powers on the one hand vs believing in The Force.

            Why is it a false choice?

              > I choose Classical Theism as the only rational third choice.

            Choosing an implicit or explicit contradiction in terms cannot be rational.

      • BenYachov

        >Does “cannot … be coherently conceived of as a” mean the same thing as “cannot be a”?

        Let me put it another way. There is no real distinction between God’s nature and His Attributes. God is Absolute Perfection. God is Simple in His Divine Substance without parts or Passions. We can say God contains all perfections since He is the metaphysically ultimate source of perfection in created things. In short God is perfect. But does that mean because God is perfect & the metaphysically ultimate source of perfection in things he must therefore have perfect muscle tone? Well no. God cannot be coherently said to have perfect muscle tone given His nature. In order to have perfect muscle tone God would need muscles. But if He had muscles he would have parts and his substance wouldn’t be simple. Thus he would not be Absolute Perfection and thus not God.

        • BenYachov

          So many mistakes Owlmirror. Where to begin?

          >Who?
          Brian Davies, Catholic Thomistic philosopher, theologian and Dominican Priest. Author of THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL.

          >According to the OED, the first person to use the phrase “personal God” was . . . Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1829, Aids to Reflection (&c). “A good, wise, living and personal God.”
          >Is that in fact who he meant by “a Unitarian heretic”? That’s amusing.

          No, “John Biddle (b. 1615), who in 1644 was brought before the magistratesof Gloucester, England, on a charge of heresy. His ‘heresy’ was claiming that God is a person. Biddle was explicitly defending Unitarian beliefs about God, already in evidence among Socinians
          outside England.2″(Davies 2006, pg59)

          >Interestingly, I see that the Catholic Encyclopaedia is also cited: “The Gnostics, although their doctrines varied in details, denied the existence of a personal creator.”

          Fallacy of equivocation. The Gnostics denied the good god of light was creator and attributed creation to the demiurge. Also if applied to Classic Theism denial of a “personal” creator amounts to denial of a creator with intellect and will. Denying a personal creator in the classic sense is not the equivalent of denying a Theistic Personalist/Neo-theist idol.

          >So what? The various books of the bible, and the works of many early theologians, take it for granted that God is a person.

          Since when do Catholics follow the Bible alone without Tradition & Church? Also where does the Bible the Bible tell us to do so? It tells us the opposite (2 Thes 2:15, 3:6 and 1 Tim 3:15, Matt 16:18). Sorry we Catholics reject Sola Scriptura.

          > The Hypostasis’ of the Trinity are called “Persons” but not the Godhead.

          >So God is not called a person, except for when God is indeed called a person.

          No the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are called “persons” in the Latin Church not the Godhead. The Eastern Church calls them Hypostasis. It’s the same thing.

          >As long as I’m looking at the OED, I note that a citation from 1300 states: “His goddhed es in trinite.” Given the use of a personal pronoun like “His” (He, Him), which Christian theologians continue to do — including, I note, yourself — I repeat that this takes it for granted that a person is being referred to.

          That does not follow. By that silly logic the pronoun here is masculine therefore God is a Male and has a Penis. Augustine said the Divine Nature Has no sex nor gender even thought Holy Writ uses the masculine pronouns. Jesus is Male but He does have a fully human nature which he got from His female mother. The maleness in Jesus resides in His humanity not His Divinity.

          The Bible speaks of God’s Hands, feet and Head does that mean God literally has these organs? As Norman Geisler a Protestant thomist once quipped. The Bible speaks of God “enfolding us in His wings” does that mean God is a giant chicken?

          Your hyper-literal fundamentalism is amusing. It affirms the old Catholic chesnut scratch an Atheist find a fundamentalist. But it means little to Catholics.

          >But feel free to refer to God as “it” (or “It”, if you must).

          Why would I do that?

          >This is terribly confused. It seems that you want to have it both ways:

          Translation: I Owlmirror am too lazy to study any theology or philosophy beyond the lame nonsense I read in THE GOD DELUSION. So what I have not bothered to try to understand I will mock and ridicule rather then own up to my own ignorance. Sorry pal but the distinction between unequivocal, equivocal and analogous comparisons are rather fundamental here.

          >God is not like a person at all, and God is indeed like a person, only better. This is a contradiction in terms, and I suspect it explains why Thomistic theology, like all theology, makes no sense.

          Sorry no! Wow you haven’t even the slightest concept of logic do you? Saying God is unequivocally compared to created beings and at the same time & in the same relation not unequicocally compared to created beings would be an example of a contradiction. To be A and Not A at the same time in the same relation is a contradiction. Didn’t you know that?

          Thus how is it a contradiction to say God is not unequivocally compared to a human person but is analogously compared to a human person? Since when are the terms “unequivocally” and “analogous” synonyms?

          Terrible illogical thinking.

          >How can God have intellect or will if he isn’t (or hasn’t) a mind? Intellect and will are characteristics of minds; you cannot separate them off and say that God has one without the other. That’s like saying God is handsome but without features.

          Your question presupposes an unequivocal comparison between humans and God so it is a category mistake & a non-starter at the get go.

          >This also undercuts your claim that God cannot coherently be conceived of as a moral agent, since intellect and will are necessary and sufficient for agency. Or do you mean that God is an amoral agent?

          Davis said in a sense God is a amoral agent since He doesn’t have obligations to us and He is not a human being who can exist within a human moral community. Also again you are making an unequivocal comparison not an analogous one. It would help if you went to the CE and looked that up instead of boring me with your sophistry and obvious ignorance.

          >What does “experience” mean, there? Is it like imagining an imaginary friend? Or is it more like visualizing a fictional character? Or maybe sometimes one and sometimes the other?

          I thought I explained it. So you maintain Animals don’t experience us as other animals or do you want to say with a straight face they are our equals with intellect and relate to us on that level? Seriously?

          >If that were actually true, everyone would “hear” God speak in English, or rather, in their own language.

          It simply means when I relate to God I precieve Him as another human person even thought He is objectively infinity above that. After all how can I conceived of him as more then what I can conceive? Obviously if God choose to speak to you He would use your language. He didn’t speak to Moses in Chinese after all. This is unremarkable.

          >This analogy is far less perfect than you perhaps realize. As you note, it’s possible to “communicate” with a nonhuman animal on an emotional level; to use body language and vocalizations to convey mood, and perhaps a bit more. That’s certainly relating to them on their level.

          Of course but the point is an Animal can not communicate on the intellectual or conceptional level like we can with each other. So we have to go down to it’s level. This makes my point.

          >If God could indeed relate to us on our level, then not only would God speak in our own language, but in exactly the vocabulary and terminology best suited to our understanding. Children would hear simple talk; young adults would hear something more sophisticated; and the educated would hear the most abstract and complex communications.

          So far you are correct.

          >But of course, there’s nothing. A remote and abstract God cannot relate to anyone — and neither can a non-existent one.

          If Intellective created beings like our selves can relate to non-intellective animals on the emotional level using “body language and vocalizations to convey mood etc” then why can’t the Transcendent Ineffable Divinity use mere intelligence to to relate to us? That doesn’t make any sense? You are giving me a fallacy of special pleading and a contradiction.

          >That sounds like pantheism, or perhaps panentheism. It’s hard to know without context.

          Actually Classic Theism has a lot more in common with Atheism, Pantheism and Panentheism(philosophically) then the post enlightenment mechanistic Deism that fuels Theistic Personalism. But that is the ancient teaching. Neo-theism is the novelty.

          >Persons relate; nonpersons/the impersonal do not.

          Animals aren’t persons yet we human persons relate to them on an emotional level etc. You just said it. How then can something Transcendent with intellect & Will which is more than a mere human person not have the ability relate to us? Inconsistent much?

          In the strict sense God is neither a He nor it. but we can’t unequivocally comprehend what God is so Scripture and logic tell us to use a personal pro-noun since that is higher then the non-intellective impersonal one.

          >The “God” argued for by Aquinas’ 5 ways is not personal at all. Those are all about the substructure of reality, not a person that can relate to anyone. It is indeed logically impossible for “existingness” to be a moral agent.

          He is not a human person. Your fallacies of equivocation are getting tedious.
          I feel like Richard Dawkins talking to someone with a 5th grader’s understanding of biology and a handful of Young Earth Creationist tracts. I’ve studied this for a good deal of my life. You haven’t devoted more than 5 minutes to it.

          >The Classic Theism “god” can be accused of being idolatrously abstract.

          No making God in your own image is idolatry. We are made in God’s image but as Davies and other Thomists have said for centuries the opposite is not true.

          Your problem is obvious. Rather then learn anything substantial about Classic Theism you have put on the hat of a Neo-theist religious apologist and are arguing with me for a God neither of us believes exists because you don’t want to do the heavy lifting and deal with Classic Theism on it’s own terms. You use ridicule from base ignorance & not knowledge or logic. Hope that works out for ya.

          >It depends on how “divine” or “god is defined, doesn’t it?

          Yes and you seem hell bent on exclusively & dogmatically defining God in extreme anthopomorphic terms not making any effort beyond the superficial to learn otherwise. You have to critique the God I believe in not the one you wish I would believe in to fit your one size fits all anti-fundamentalist polemic.

          >How would you define the term? I admit that I have a tendency to use “person” in my definition of “god” — because that’s what is either explicit or implied about the god of religions.

          I don’t use subjective definitions if I can avoid it. I go to the academic and offical ones when I can. I believe in dealing with what a tradition formally believes rather then what I want it to believe. For example I wouldn’t be caught dead using the polemics I would use against a reductionist materialist Atheist with a Platonic Atheist. They are two different things.

          >And the argument against the god of classic theism is that it would render the putative incarnation of Christ both pointless and logcially impossible.

          You are clearly just saying that for the sake of naysaying. It’s not like you could make a real philosophical argument to why this is the case. Of course the catagory errors you display make it impossible for you to make such an argument even if we ultimatly live in a godless reality.

          >The first 3 chapters of Genesis (and probably more, as well as various verses here and there) are heretical, now?

          Are we talking the Catholic and Patristic understanding of Genesis or your subjective nonsense? I can radically re-interpret the Koran to affirm the deity of Christ but no Muslim would buy me interpreting the Koran outside Muslim tradition. So why should I care for your non-Catholic view of scripture?

          >Can you cite the specific condemnation of comparing God to a human person?

          I already mentioned John Biddle above.

          >Why is it a false choice?

          Don’t you read English?

          >Choosing an implicit or explicit contradiction in terms cannot be rational.

          Calling something a contradiction which objectively isn’t one because you are too lazy to do any homework is not rational either.

          • BenYachov

            >That’s like saying God is handsome but without features.

            The term “handsome” implies physical characteristics so is a category mistake. You can’t be handsome without features. But you can be beautiful without physical features. Physicists talk about beautiful and elegant theories of physics all the time. Can’t ideas or concepts be beautiful? Do they need physical features for this to be so? God can have intellect, will and beauty without having physical features. But God is Intellect Itself, Divine Will Itself, and Beauty Itself. It’s not hard.

        • Owlmirror

            > “John Biddle (b. 1615), who in 1644 was brought before the magistratesof Gloucester, England, on a charge of heresy. His ‘heresy’ was claiming that God is a person.

          O really? Specifically for claiming that God is a person, and not for denying the Trinity? I am now suspicious of Brian Davies’ honesty.

          I suppose that Davies — or perhaps his source — might have been playing games with grammar: God is a — as in, one — person, rather than three persons, is a heresy to orthodox Trinitarians.

          Online, I find Guibon Goddard’s Journal, which for January 1654-5 has the following:

              “Resolved, that this House doth agree with the Committee, that the said book is full of horrid, blasphemous, and execrable opinions, denying the Deity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost.”

          Not a word about claiming that God is a person as a heresy.

            > Biddle was explicitly defending Unitarian beliefs about God, already in evidence among Socinians outside England.”

          And Unitarianism is specifically a denial of the Trinity.

            > Fallacy of equivocation.

          It’s amusing that you accuse the Catholic Encyclopaedia of committing the fallacy of equivocation

            > Denying a personal creator in the classic sense is not the equivalent of denying a Theistic Personalist/Neo-theist idol.

          Fallacy of equivocation, indeed.

            > Since when do Catholics follow the Bible alone without Tradition & Church?

          Tradition & Church also take it for granted that God is personal. Find me a single proclamation of the Church — rather than works of theologians — that denies that God is personal. Go ahead.

            > No the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are called “persons” in the Latin Church not the Godhead.

          If they’re persons, then the Godhead is personal.

            > That does not follow.

          Sure it does. If it didn’t, people would have been referring to God using impersonal pronouns from the beginning.

            > By that silly logic the pronoun here is masculine therefore God is a Male and has a Penis.

          Hey, Christians are the ones who refer to God as Male Father, and Male Son.

          If you think it’s silly, stop being a Christian. Be a pantheist, or a deist, or maybe a Platonist.

            > Augustine said the Divine Nature Has no sex nor gender even thought Holy Writ uses the masculine pronouns.

          That might be reasonable, if “Holy Writ” ever switched to use neuter and/or feminine pronouns (or nouns). But it doesn’t.

          Misogyny? Laziness? Failure of imagination among every single contributor to the bible?

          Or did they take it for granted that God had some essential maleness, just as they took it for granted that God is a person?

            > Jesus is Male but He does have a fully human nature which he got from His female mother. The maleness in Jesus resides in His humanity not His Divinity.

          So? His maleness is incorporated into God.

          Otherwise, you might as well call Jesus the daughter of God. Or, if you want to go sexless, the bud. Or the clone. Or the copy.

            > The Bible speaks of God’s Hands, feet and Head does that mean God literally has these organs?

          Metaphorical organs are not fundamental to the concept of God. Being a person is indeed fundamental to the concept of God. Otherwise, you’re anthropomorphizing.

          Would you agree that every single writer of the bible, and the Church, was and is committing the anthropomorphic fallacy, since they all take it for granted that God is a person?

            > Your hyper-literal fundamentalism is amusing.

          I’m glad that you agree that your religion is amusing. But if you think it’s wrong, you might as well reject it, flat out.

            > Why would I do that [refer to God as "it"]?

          Because you want to be consistent with your concept of God as not being a person?

            > Translation: I Owlmirror am too lazy to study any theology or philosophy beyond the lame nonsense I read in THE GOD DELUSION.

          It’s interesting that you’re willing to lie about me. I have, after all, directly read the lame nonsense written by Aquinas, Augustine, Swinburne, Craig, and Plantinga, among others.

            > So what I have not bothered to try to understand I will mock and ridicule rather then own up to my own ignorance.

          Oh, no. I mock and ridicule because I’ve tried to understand, and I therefore understand, all too well, how ridiculous theology is.

            > Sorry pal but the distinction between unequivocal, equivocal and analogous comparisons are rather fundamental here.

          I’m sure they are, to theologians who are trying to excuse a fundamentally nonsensical theology: You need to commit the fallacy of equivocation.

            > Thus how is it a contradiction to say God is not unequivocally compared to a human person but is analogously compared to a human person? Since when are the terms “unequivocally” and “analogous” synonyms?

          The problem is not that they are directly synonyms, but that they are being deployed like a squid uses ink: To obscure what you’re saying while you jet away without clarifying anything at all.

          “God is not unequivocally compared to [exactly like] a human person, but is analogously compared to [sort of like] a human person.”

          OK, fine. Strip away everything physical about a human, and you’re left with nothing at all — unless you’re a dualist, in which case, you’re left with at least a mind. So what are you “analogously comparing” to a human person, if not a mind?

            > Your question presupposes an unequivocal comparison between humans and God so it is a category mistake & a non-starter at the get go.

          Translation: More squid ink!

            > Davis said in a sense God is a amoral agent

          An interesting concession! In more than one way, too.

            > since He doesn’t have obligations to us and He is not a human being who can exist within a human moral community.

          This is special pleading by fiat, and it looks like it’s trying to — very sneakily — assert that “might makes right”.

          What other moral reasoning exempts an agent from having obligations?

            > Also again you are making an unequivocal comparison not an analogous one. It would help if you went to the CE and looked that up instead of boring me with your sophistry and obvious ignorance.

          If you can’t explain something clearly — or even strive to approach a clear explanation — then, maybe you don’t really understand it yourself. And I suspect, with theology, theologians don’t really want to understand it.

            > I thought I explained it.

          You didn’t explain anything. There’s no evidence that anyone has actually “experienced” God, so I don’t see how you can explain it, other than conceptually. Well, I’m asking you to expand on the concept.

            > So you maintain Animals don’t experience us as other animals or do you want to say with a straight face they are our equals with intellect and relate to us on that level?

          My question was about humans “experiencing” God. Don’t throw out this ridiculous red herring.

            > It simply means when I relate to God I precieve Him as another human person even thought He is objectively infinity above that.

          So, a little bit of imaginary friend; a little bit of fictional character?

            > Obviously if God choose to speak to you He would use your language.

          So of course, everyone who claims that God has chosen to speak to them all agree that God says the same thing in their own language.

          Oh, wait. No, they don’t. That’s why there are so many religions, schisms, and heresies.

          Why would God choose not to speak a person? Why would God choose to say opposing or inconsistent things to different people?

            > If Intellective created beings like our selves can relate to non-intellective animals on the emotional level using “body language and vocalizations to convey mood etc” then why can’t the Transcendent Ineffable Divinity use mere intelligence to to relate to us? That doesn’t make any sense?

          Well, it doesn’t make sense if it isn’t a mind, or doesn’t have a mind.

            > You are giving me a fallacy of special pleading and a contradiction.

          You acknowledge that you are committing special pleading, and contradiction?

            > Animals aren’t persons yet we human persons relate to them on an emotional level etc. You just said it.

          Ah, but you just said that animals do not relate on an intellectual level.

          I agree that my statement was terse and unqualified, though, and could be clarified and expanded to include nonhuman animals. I would argue, for example, that animals do have minds, and wills, and might even be said to have intellects, albeit intellects that cannot understand abstractions or complex language.

          But the point of my statement was about what God is supposed to be — or be “like”.

            > How then can something Transcendent with intellect & Will which is more than a mere human person not have the ability relate to us?

          If it doesn’t have a mind, or is not a mind, it doesn’t have anything to have intellect or will with, and so cannot relate.

            > In the strict sense God is neither a He nor it. but we can’t unequivocally comprehend what God is so Scripture and logic tell us to use a personal pro-noun since that is higher then the non-intellective impersonal one.

          Finally, a justification for one pronoun over another! But not a very good one.

          — Logic says that relying on scripture is merely an argument from authority, and tradition.
          — Logic also says that accuracy is more important than tradition, or authority.
          — Logic does not say that one pronoun is “higher” than another
          — “It” does not necessarily refer to the “non-intellective”. Consider the following examples:

          • The mind is capable of abstraction. It can generalize from multiple examples.
          • The mind can be rational. It can make inferences from axioms.
          • The mind can be analytical. It can break problems down, and build solutions from the parts.
          • The mind is capable of introspection. It can strive to know itself.

          If God exists, it is most accurately referred to by “it”.

            > He is not a human person.

          It is not a human person, or not a person at all?

            > Your fallacies of equivocation are getting tedious.

          Theology is based on fallacies of equivocation.

            > I feel like Richard Dawkins talking to someone with a 5th grader’s understanding of biology and a handful of Young Earth Creationist tracts.

          Or rather, I’m like Richard Dawkins, and you’re the YEC. Dawkins argues from empirical reason; YECs argue from religious fanaticism.

          You may be less fanatical than a YEC, but religion is the problem, here. Would you really be making these arguments, if you weren’t already religious?

            > I’ve studied this for a good deal of my life. You haven’t devoted more than 5 minutes to it.

          Again, interesting that you pretend to know what I have studied or not.

            > No making God in your own image is idolatry.

          Only if you redefine “idolatry”. Were sun-worshippers making God in their own image? Were the Pythagoreans, who held numbers sacred, not idolaters?

            > We are made in God’s image

          How can this be true, if God is not in some sense a person?

            > but as Davies and other Thomists have said for centuries the opposite is not true.

          But this brings me back to Leah: If she is conceiving of “Morality” as being a “person”, is she not making a mistake, according to Classic Theism? Especially if, by Classic Theism, God is an agent but not a moral agent?

            > Rather then learn anything substantial about Classic Theism you have put on the hat of a Neo-theist religious apologist and are arguing with me for a God neither of us believes exists

          Actually, I’ve put on the hat of a atheist who strongly suspects that Classic Theism is as incoherent as all other theology.

          You can try to disabuse me of this suspicion, or not, as you wish.

            > because you don’t want to do the heavy lifting and deal with Classic Theism on it’s own terms. You use ridicule from base ignorance & not knowledge or logic.

          The more I learn of Classic theism, the more ridiculous and illogical it looks. And your equivocation doesn’t help.

            > You have to critique the God I believe in [...] I don’t use subjective definitions if I can avoid it.

          How can I critique that which is undefined?

            > You are clearly just saying that for the sake of naysaying.

          What, and you aren’t?

            > It’s not like you could make a real philosophical argument to why this is the case.

          The incarnation is pointless no matter what definition of God that you use. And it’s logically impossible because a human cannot be both wholly a human and wholly more than and other than a human.

            > Of course the catagory errors you display make it impossible for you to make such an argument even if we ultimatly live in a godless reality.

          You, above: “Saying God is unequivocally compared to created beings and at the same time & in the same relation not unequicocally compared to created beings would be an example of a contradiction.”

          Your own words prove the incarnation to be a contradiction, and therefore logically impossible.

            > Are we talking the Catholic and Patristic understanding of Genesis or your subjective nonsense?

          Ah, so the bible is subjective nonsense. OK.

            > So why should I care for your non-Catholic view of scripture?

          Why should I care for your Classic Theism?

            > Don’t you read English?

          Do you write English?

            > Calling something a contradiction which objectively isn’t one

          So far, I don’t think you’ve clarified whether God has a mind, or not. Obviously, if you sometimes think or argue that it does or as if it does, and sometimes argue that it doesn’t, or as if it doesn’t, there’s a contradiction that you’re simply refusing to acknowledge.

          ====

            > The term “handsome” implies physical characteristics so is a category mistake.

          I agree. That is precisely what I was trying to convey: “intellect” and “will” imply a mind that has those mental characteristics, so you are making a category mistake by using them as though they could exist without a mind.

            > Physicists talk about beautiful and elegant theories of physics all the time. Can’t ideas or concepts be beautiful?

          But those are personal judgements about facts — the facts are what they are; they do not have beauty and elegance inherently. They are perceived to have those qualities by the physicists who understand them.

            > God can have intellect, will and beauty without having physical features.

          But “intellect” and “will” don’t require physical features (unless you’re not a dualist). But assuming that you are a dualist, “intellect” and “will” are still properties of a mind.

          I’m not sure where beauty comes into it. “Beauty” is a judgment, not an inherent property. Saying that it is an inherent property is yet another category mistake.

            > But God is Intellect Itself, Divine Will Itself, and Beauty Itself. It’s not hard.

          It’s not hard: God is multiple category mistakes.

          • BenYachov

            >O really? Specifically for claiming that God is a person, and not for denying the Trinity? I am now suspicious of Brian Davies’ honesty.

            Davies said Biddle was the first to call God a person. If you disagree then cite some orthodox patristic source that is earlier than Biddle that explicitly calls the Godhead a person, just one will due. Put up or shut up.

            >Not a word about claiming that God is a person as a heresy.

            The footnote in the book to the citation is as follows:

            “For more on this see Philip Dixon, Nice and Hot Disputes: Tlie Doctrine
            of the Trinity in the 17th Century (T&T Clark: Edinburgh, 2003).”
            Your dispute is with these two academic professionals. You have shown me nothing to refute Davies. Davies already mentioned in his Book Biddle was a Unitarian.
            So you are not telling me anything new or controversial.

            >It’s amusing that you accuse the Catholic Encyclopaedia of committing the fallacy of equivocation.

            Fess up! You don’t even know what a fallacy of equivocation is do you?

            >Fallacy of equivocation, indeed.
            Indeed. You seem to think badly prooftexting the CE will somehow erase 20 years of learned Catholic Theology in me? Weird.

            >Tradition & Church also take it for granted that God is personal.

            How do you know that is true? What is your source? I know God has intellect and Will but no Church Father teaches God is unequivocally the same as a human person.

            >Find me a single proclamation of the Church — rather than works of theologians — that denies that God is personal. Go ahead.

            Why do I have to do all the heavy lifting? I know what the Church teaches. I’ve read Ott and Denzinger. The Roman Catacheism and the Councils. You show me where the Church teaches God is unequivocally a person the same as a human person. Off the top of my head the Council of Ephesius condemned the Nestorian heresy that said Christ was a human person. If the Second hyposasis of the Trinity can’t be a human person then logically according to your e reasoning neither can the other two persons & thus the Godhead can’t be a human person. Thus God can not be unequivocally personal.
            Checkmate!

            >If they’re persons, then the Godhead is personal.
            (see previous)
            Yes the Godhead has intellect & Will and is analigously compared to a human person but not unequivocally. So what is your point again?

            >Sure it does. If it didn’t, people would have been referring to God using impersonal pronouns from the beginning.

            Except I never said God is impersonal nor do I believe it. That is your hangup not mine.

            >Hey, Christians are the ones who refer to God as Male Father, and Male Son.

            So you do believe God is a giant chicken after all? Well good luck with that.

            >If you think it’s silly, stop being a Christian. Be a pantheist, or a deist, or maybe a Platonist.

            Or I could be a Catholic Christian but of course I can’t be a fundamentalist Christian. Since they only arose in the 19th cenutry I prefer the type of Christianity that came about during the first century.

            >That might be reasonable, if “Holy Writ” ever switched to use neuter and/or feminine pronouns (or nouns). But it doesn’t.

            ?????????? Is there any point here?

            >Misogyny? Laziness? Failure of imagination among every single contributor to the bible?

            ???????? ditto!

            >Or did they take it for granted that God had some essential maleness, just as they took it for granted that God is a person?

            What does this have to do with your inablity to grasp Classical Theism or your rather comical attempt to prop up a wacky verson of Theistic Personalism neither Swimburne nor Plantinga would touch?

            >So? His maleness is incorporated into God.

            The Council of Chacedon says Christ human nature does not mix or confuse with His Deity. Now you are channeling Monophysite heresy. Hysterical!

            >Otherwise, you might as well call Jesus the daughter of God. Or, if you want to go sexless, the bud. Or the clone. Or the copy.

            I see the 60′s where not kind to you.

            >Metaphorical organs are not fundamental to the concept of God. Being a person is indeed fundamental to the concept of God. Otherwise, you’re anthropomorphizing.

            Argument by special pleading. Never the less God is only personal in that he has intellect and will. You have not shown otherwise.

            >Would you agree that every single writer of the bible, and the Church, was and is committing the anthropomorphic fallacy, since they all take it for granted that God is a person?

            No I would not agree. Even if I denied God tomorow I would not agree since how could I know the authors didn’t intend to use biblical anthropomorpahism analigious and or metaphorically?

            >I’m glad that you agree that your religion is amusing. But if you think it’s wrong, you might as well reject it, flat out.

            I am not a fundamentalist. You are a fundamentalist. At least in the way you interpret the Bible.

            >Because you want to be consistent with your concept of God as not being a person?

            Two questions for ya. What are you smoking & where can I score some?

            >It’s interesting that you’re willing to lie about me. I have, after all, directly read the lame nonsense written by Aquinas, Augustine, Swinburne, Craig, and Plantinga, among others.

            Swimburne and Plantinga are both Theistic Personalists. Craig’s view is a hybrid of Classic Theism & Theistic Personalism since he is a semi-temporalist and denies the Strong Simplicity view. So you read Aquinas and Augustine threw the lends of some Protestant non-Catholic non-classic theistic authors & I am supose to be impressed? No this merely explains to me the basis of your ignorance. Have you read Davies? No? How about Nick Trakakis? Herbert McCabe? Gilsion? Feser? Oderberg? DZ Philips? Heck have you even read the Agnostic Thomistic Scholar Kenny? Obviously not.

            So I pegged you as a know nothing & I am vindicated by your own words. Nice try.

            >Oh, no. I mock and ridicule because I’ve tried to understand, and I therefore understand, all too well, how ridiculous theology is.

            Sure pal whatever you say.

            >I’m sure they are, to theologians who are trying to excuse a fundamentally nonsensical theology: You need to commit the fallacy of equivocation.

            God is not a person in the unequivocal sense. Get over it kid.

            >The problem is not that they are directly synonyms, but that they are being deployed like a squid uses ink: To obscure what you’re saying while you jet away without clarifying anything at all.

            Translation: Ouch my head hurts! Make the bad man stop trying to make me think. It’s ruining my buzz!

            >“God is not unequivocally compared to [exactly like] a human person, but is analogously compared to [sort of like] a human person.”

            Very simplistic but an improvement. Was that so hard?

            >OK, fine. Strip away everything physical about a human, and you’re left with nothing at all — unless you’re a dualist, in which case, you’re left with at least a mind. So what are you “analogously comparing” to a human person, if not a mind?

            Intellect(knowing), Will(faculty of volition moved by intellect). It’s not hard.

            >Translation: More squid ink!

            Rather you can’t hold your booze so you are having a piss.

            >An interesting concession! In more than one way, too.

            Not so fast I qualified it with “in a sense”.

            >This is special pleading by fiat, and it looks like it’s trying to — very sneakily — assert that “might makes right”.

            ???????? Out of left field.

            >What other moral reasoning exempts an agent from having obligations?

            God cannot coherently be thought of as a moral agent. You are concieving him as a moral agent who has somehow dispensed himself from morality. Sorry that isn’t even close to what I am saying.

            >If you can’t explain something clearly — or even strive to approach a clear explanation — then, maybe you don’t really understand it yourself. And I suspect, with theology, theologians don’t really want to understand it.

            You are a lazy child.

            >You didn’t explain anything. There’s no evidence that anyone has actually “experienced” God, so I don’t see how you can explain it, other than conceptually. Well, I’m asking you to expand on the concept.

            I was giving an explaination on how God could be precieved as being like a human person to a believer while not objectively being a human person. What I said was clear. It’s not my fault you can’t read English. Your afraid to read the Catholic Encylopedia on Analogy for fear of Squid ink. So what hope is there for you? None really. I’m afraid you will be an ignorant person for life.

            >My question was about humans “experiencing” God. Don’t throw out this ridiculous red herring.

            My analogy explains how we can experience God as “personal” without him being a human person. You have no answer.

            >So, a little bit of imaginary friend; a little bit of fictional character?

            Whatever makes you feel special.

            >So of course, everyone who claims that God has chosen to speak to them all agree that God says the same thing in their own language.

            Then why bust my balls over it?

            >Oh, wait. No, they don’t. That’s why there are so many religions, schisms, and heresies.

            Since God is not a moral agent he is under no obligation to create a world without many religions, schisms and heresics as long as that world partakes of being in some way.

            The Best of All Possible Worlds is a faulty concept.
            http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/boapw.html

            >Why would God choose not to speak a person? Why would God choose to say opposing or inconsistent things to different people?

            This is not a coherent question. Are you assuming all religion contain God’s voice & speak for Him? Are you claiming Catholic Christian revelation contains contradictions?

            >Well, it doesn’t make sense if it isn’t a mind, or doesn’t have a mind.

            Why can’t it be Something infinitly greater than a mere mind?

            >You acknowledge that you are committing special pleading, and contradiction?

            No you are playing Gnu’Atheist troll games. Rather then have a civilized conversation to learn what I believe, you would rather be a dick.

            >Ah, but you just said that animals do not relate on an intellectual level.

            Yes so?

            >I agree that my statement was terse and unqualified, though, and could be clarified and expanded to include nonhuman animals. I would argue, for example, that animals do have minds, and wills, and might even be said to have intellects, albeit intellects that cannot understand abstractions or complex language.

            My analogy is simplicity itself. We can relate to animals on their lower level. They can not relate to us on our higher level. They would precieve us as other animals. God can relate to us on our lower level. We would precieve him in personal anthopomporphic terms. Thus he would appear as a person like us to us even thought He is not a person like us. Really how is this hard?

            >But the point of my statement was about what God is supposed to be — or be “like”.

            Come again?

            >If it doesn’t have a mind, or is not a mind,

            What if he is something more than a mind?

            >it doesn’t have anything to have intellect or will with, and so cannot relate.

            Your kneejerk materialism betrays you.

            >Finally, a justification for one pronoun over another! But not a very good one.

            If you really read Augustine or Aquinas (which I doubt) you would know both explained that Holy writ often used vulgar metaphor to explain Divine Truths to primitive people.

            >— Logic says that relying on scripture is merely an argument from authority, and tradition.

            This is not logic this is mere assertion even if God doesn’t exist.

            >— Logic also says that accuracy is more important than tradition, or authority.
            — Logic does not say that one pronoun is “higher” than another
            — “It” does not necessarily refer to the “non-intellective”. Consider the following examples:

            ditto!

            >• The mind is capable of abstraction. It can generalize from multiple examples.
            >• The mind can be rational. It can make inferences from axioms.
            >• The mind can be analytical. It can break problems down, and build solutions from the parts.
            >• The mind is capable of introspection. It can strive to know itself.

            >If God exists, it is most accurately referred to by “it”.

            So my mind is an “it” by sophistical fiat? That is not philosophy. That is mere bullshit.

            Accept all this “agrument” is without any meaning to me since you still are making an unequivocal comparison between God vs Man not an analigious one.

            >It is not a human person, or not a person at all?

            The Godhead is Three Divine persons/hyposasis’

            >Theology is based on fallacies of equivocation.

            You lack the skill, learning and education to teach me otherwise. You can ridicule and be a ponce. Nothing more.

            >Or rather, I’m like Richard Dawkins, and you’re the YEC. Dawkins argues from empirical reason; YECs argue from religious fanaticism.

            No I argue from philosophy. Dawkins is a philosophical illiterate! Tell Dick 1949 called they want their Postivism back!

            >You may be less fanatical than a YEC, but religion is the problem, here. Would you really be making these arguments, if you weren’t already religious?

            You are a fundamentalist without god belief. You are just as ignorant, scared, hostle and paranoid as any YEC religious fundie I’ve argued with. You have made a host of emotive appeals but not rational or sound argument. If I denied God tomorrow I would still think this about you.

            >Again, interesting that you pretend to know what I have studied or not.

            You have studied 3 Theistic Personalists and two classic Theists reinterpreted in light of the personalists. You don’t know classic Theism at all.

            >Only if you redefine “idolatry”. Were sun-worshippers making God in their own image? Were the Pythagoreans, who held numbers sacred, not idolaters?

            So many tangents and very little intelligent argument from you.

            >How can this be true, if God is not in some sense a person?

            You are so confused. It’s your own fault for refusing to read the CE on analogy. God is analigously a person so he is in some sense like us. But He is not unequivocally like us. Why is this so hard to comprehend for you?

            >But this brings me back to Leah: If she is conceiving of “Morality” as being a “person”, is she not making a mistake, according to Classic Theism? Especially if, by Classic Theism, God is an agent but not a moral agent?

            No because she is using common popular termonology. I am using technical terminology. She is not in anyway mistaken. She is merely not as precise as I am with my discriptions. I’ve been a Catholic for 44 years and a theologically informed one for 24 of them. Obviously not to toot my own horn or put down a very very intelligent young lady who likely has a higher IQ then Moi. But she is just starting out.

            We can say via the doctrine of the Divine Simplicity God is The Moral Law Itself but that doesn’t follow He is any type of Agent moral or otherwise. God can be called Strength Itself but that doesn’t mean he has perfect muscle tone.

            God is Being Itself but God is not a mere being alongside other beings.

            >Actually, I’ve put on the hat of a atheist who strongly suspects that Classic Theism is as incoherent as all other theology.

            This all but admits to me you know nothing about classic Theism. You suspect it is incoherent? If you knew it was incoherent you would be giving me the arguments as to why. Instead you have been pretending it is the same as Plantinga or Swimburn’s Theistic Personalist “god”.

            So you have been bullshiting me.

            >You can try to disabuse me of this suspicion, or not, as you wish.

            Sorry but you have already made up your mind all Theism is bogus even those theistic traditions of which you are profoundly ignorant. You aren’t even interested in learning what Classic Theism is in relation to Theistic Personalism if even for the pure joy of learning something new even if you don’t agree with it.

            I can’t deal with that level of willful anti-intellectualism. It’s just sad.

            >The more I learn of Classic theism, the more ridiculous and illogical it looks. And your equivocation doesn’t help.

            You haven’t learned anything on classic theism. You still kneejerk compare creatures to God unequivocally.

            >How can I critique that which is undefined?

            A better question is, why have you been trying so hard to do so?

            >What, and you aren’t?

            So I was right.

            >The incarnation is pointless no matter what definition of God that you use. And it’s logically impossible because a human cannot be both wholly a human and wholly more than and other than a human.

            That is true if you are a monophysite heretic.

            >You, above: “Saying God is unequivocally compared to created beings and at the same time & in the same relation not unequicocally compared to created beings would be an example of a contradiction.”

            >Your own words prove the incarnation to be a contradiction, and therefore logically impossible.

            Only if I was a monophysite(look it up Gnu!) heretic & not a Chacedonian Christian. Jesus has two natures united in one Divine Hypostasis. Not a single nature that is both divine and human at the same time which would be a contradiction.

            >Ah, so the bible is subjective nonsense. OK.

            The Bible was not meant to be used alone without Tradition and Church. I am not a Protestant. Accept it.

            >Why should I care for your Classic Theism?

            If you wish to convince me it’s wrong then the burden is on you to learn something about it. Because I can’t be moved by mere ignorant ridicle.
            If you really don’t care then stop arguing or learn to do it correctly.

            >So far, I don’t think you’ve clarified whether God has a mind, or not.

            So far you have refused to learn the difference between analogious comparisons in the Thomistic Sense vs Unequivocal comparisons and you kneejerk only use unequivocal comparisions. So I have no means to explain it to you. You have to take Biology 101 before you can learn what is punctuated equalibrium don’t you?

            >Obviously, if you sometimes think or argue that it does or as if it does, and sometimes argue that it doesn’t, or as if it doesn’t, there’s a contradiction that you’re simply refusing to acknowledge.

            This too you is writing English?

            >I agree. That is precisely what I was trying to convey: “intellect” and “will” imply a mind that has those mental characteristics, so you are making a category mistake by using them as though they could exist without a mind.

            No I am trying to argue analigously. You are stuck in uneqivocal land with irrational rants about how it’s all squid ink or whatever.

            >But those are personal judgements about facts — the facts are what they are; they do not have beauty and elegance inherently. They are perceived to have those qualities by the physicists who understand them.

            It would have helped if you had told me you where not a realist. Sounds like you deny univerals.

            >But “intellect” and “will” don’t require physical features (unless you’re not a dualist). But assuming that you are a dualist, “intellect” and “will” are still properties of a mind.

            I am a hylomorphist dualist. Obviusly the only dualism you are equated with is that stupid Cartusian crap.

            >I’m not sure where beauty comes into it. “Beauty” is a judgment, not an inherent property. Saying that it is an inherent property is yet another category mistake.

            These are your metaphors not mine. You obviously reject any form of realism or universals. I am a moderate scholastic Realist.

            >It’s not hard: God is multiple category mistakes.

            Which God? Your Theistic Personalist Swimburn Plantinga “god” or the Classic Theistic God you merely suspect is wrong but refuse learn anything about becase of fear of squid ink?

            You are a hopeless anti-intellectual.

  • Kelly Harrison

    Leah, in your words, what does ‘conversion’ mean? I’m fascinated by your discussion and admire you greatly for your openness and courage. But I’m not sure I understand what just happened.

    BTW, thank you so much for putting your life (at least the part you chose to share) online. Its quite compelling.

  • Rosemarie

    Brian Davies discusses God and Evil.

    http://vimeo.com/35461059

  • Brett

    Adam G, How can you just make a statement that Pagels book has been “widely debunked” without showing proof? Her book has NOT been debunked as it remains the first, widely recognized, authoritative account of the Nag Hammadi finding in 1945. It is the primary resource for an introduction into Gnosticism used regularly for decades in prominent schools of religion. Check your facts.

  • Mike Dennis

    Leah,
    I am an atheist and mathematician who has enjoyed following your blog and your spiritual journey for about a year now. I have particularly appreciated the sensitive and respectful treatment you have accorded to atheists and religionists alike. My initial reaction to your conversion was curiosity about where this would take you, maybe a bit of bemusement, but overall, hey, that’s cool. As to the commenters who have lambasted your choice of Catholicism, I had little patience. People choose the spiritual path that suits them. You obviously have a taste for costumery and pageantry; maybe that aspect of the church caught your fancy. But after a couple of weeks of thinking it over, I find myself more puzzled and even irked by your choice. As I write this, I am intensely aware of my concern to keep faith with the spirit of open-mindedness you have promoted and encouraged. I know that what I will say will strike some as anti-Catholic bigotry, and for that I sincerely apologize in advance.

    Last week Andrew Sullivan invited Sister Janine Gramick to answer reader questions on his blog. Her clear discomfort with many of the tenets of modern Catholic teaching prompt me to wonder why she doesn’t just leave the church. But I do understand: when you’ve invested your whole life, dedicated yourself so completely to an institution, you can no more cut yourself off from it than you can amputate a limb. Really, it is quite admirable, her refusal to turn her back on a church whose theology she has obviously outgrown.

    SO WHAT THE F**K IS YOUR EXCUSE? Especially since your stated philosophical basis for your conversion rests on a Platonic ideal of objective moral truth. With apologies to the millions of truly good people in the world who are Catholic, and especially to those who might be reading this, the institution of the Catholic church is a fetid swamp of moral bankruptcy. Its obsession with sexual behavior that the leaders have denied themselves, its anti-woman, anti-gay positions all seem completely at odds with many of the views you have expressed with such passion and conviction. But the real source of its moral decay is the same problem that afflicts the leadership of any institution or nation whose leaders enjoy unchecked power: the inevitable pressure for power to protect and extend its prerogatives. All of these forces are in play in the sick scandal of the pedophilic priests and the church leaders who have protected them. In the name of protecting Mother Church they have countenanced and enabled the rape of hundreds or perhaps thousands of children.

    Really, this is the night-soil in which you have planted your standard in the quest for moral truth? It strikes me as a profoundly un-serious thing to do.

    • BenYachov

      Mike Dennis,

      I see no reason to take your lunatic ignorant ranting seriously. It is simply a brute historical fact secular public schools are worst than the Catholic Church in America in terms of sex abuse and covering it up. The media’s silence would be comedy if it where not so tragic. What about hypocritical liberals like yourself? Here in NYC some self-righteous liberal hypocrites like yourself ofter tries to pass laws lifting the statue of limitation on child sex abuse so lawyers can go after religious and private institution money coffers with abandon. Yet they always contain a provision to exempt public schools employees. I guess it’s only rape if a Priest does it eh but not a teacher?

      >the institution of the Catholic church is a fetid swamp of moral bankruptcy.

      Somebody has either been reading to much Chick Comics or Dan Brown.

      >Its obsession with sexual behavior that the leaders have denied themselves,

      Nonsense! The Priest who married my parents fell in love with a Jewish woman who was in the process of converting to the Church. He wanted to love her lawfully so he resigned the Priesthood and got a dispensation from his Vow of celibacy. No problem and no worries.

      >its anti-woman,
      If God doesn’t really exist to you genius then pray tell why do you object to us not allowing women to be Priests to a non-existent god? Someone once asked me “Don’t you think it is unfair Mormons didn’t let blacks in their priesthood?”. My answer is “No why should I care? I don’t believe it a true priesthood anyway.”

      Tis silly.

    • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

      Why yes, CCC 972 does say we should hate all women. Why do you ask?

      • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ Sockpuppet

        Fool! CCC 973 says we’re supposed to deny this vehemently in the presence of the gentiles, admitting it only in the privacy of our own harems! Present yourself to the Inquisition for cranial readjustment!

        • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

          Fool! I am the Inquistion, in the middle of a delicate sting operation; Canon Law exempts us from oversight. Anyway, I have one of Tetzel’s Last Pardons in my possession, handed to me personally by Dread Shadow Pope Sixtus VI. These pre-emptively forgive all sins before they happen! For such accusations, you will pay with your life, and I shall enjoy it.

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ Sockpuppet

            Fool! Such trinkets are void before the mighty power of the Swiss Ninja Death Guards, of which I am a member, and your accusations carry as little force as your moral authority! But waste your little words on me no longer, for I am immune to reason. We shall decide our truth in the ancient manner —

          • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com/ The Ubiquitous

            — trial by ordeal? So be it. I claim my castrato as my second.

  • grok87

    Hi Leah,
    Welcome to the faith. I’m going to be brash and give you some advice that you probably won’t take. I wouldn’t worry about writing up the “justification” for why you decided to convert. God works in mysterious ways. As CS Lewis had Aslan say in the Silver Chair chapter 2 “”You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.
    I think what your readers really want is for you to share your faith journey as you go through the process of conversion (and of course as Christian’s we are all always in the process of converting- it’s a lifelong process).
    And I’d recommend Kathleen Norris’s book “the Cloister Walk”
    best,
    grok

    • BenYachov

      >I wouldn’t worry about writing up the “justification” for why you decided to convert.

      grok87 is correct. Mark Shea said it best “There’s a reason Saul of Tarsus was sent packing to Antioch to go learn the ropes of the faith in peace and quiet for nearly a decade before he was sent on his mission. People need room to breathe, pray and think. I pray for Leah that she gets that.”

      Do give in to the temptation you have to answer right away. Take your time.

  • BenYachov

    edit: Don’t give in etc…….

    I so need a secretary!

  • Anne

    Coragem! Só lhe digo para ter coragem.

  • David

    I’m an agnostic/atheist, though mostly defined by personal apathy. Why do I have to choose? But I’ve been to Catholic Mass and Wiccan ceremonies, Baptist Bible study, synagogue, panel discussions of evolutionary psychology, and I’ve chanted Krishna while reading the Bible. I’m fascinated by the whole process of human spirituality. I think I’m a spiritual voyeur.

    I have a friend who has just converted to Judaism and become “One of the people who wrestle with God”. Surprising that someone in middle age who would make that kind of decision. It’s exciting to watch.

    All blessings of a Bountiful Universe to you and yours. If you want to write and explain or describe your process, I’ll be happy to read it. But no rush. Thank you for sharing your thinking. Carry on.

  • Brent Brown (@IBrentBrown)

    Now you’ve done gone and made me order “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” :-D

    • leahlibresco

      Blog mission accomplished!