Choose a topic from Vol 3:


Reason proves God's existence
Primitive monotheism
Mystery of God's inner nature
Personality of God
Providence of God and the problem of evil


Immortal destiny of man
Can earth give true happiness?
Do human souls evolve?
Is transmigration possible?
Animal souls
Freedom of will
Free will and faith


Religion and God
The duty of prayer
The mysteries of religion
Can we believe in miracles?

The Religion of the Bible

Historical character of the Gospels
Canonical Books of the Bible
Original Manuscripts
Copyists' errors
Truth of the Bible
New Testament "contradictions"

The Christian Religion

Christianity alone true
Not the product of religious experience
Compared with Buddhism, Confucianism, Mahometanism, Bahaism, etc.,
Rejected by modern Jews
The demand for miracles
The necessity of faith
Difficulties not doubts
Proofs available
Dispositions of unbelievers

A Definite Christian Faith

One religion not as good as another
Changing one's religion
Catholic convictions and zeal
Religious controversy
The curse of bigotry
Towards a solution

The Problem of Reunion

Efforts at the reunion of the Churches
The Church of England as a "Bridge-Church"
Anglicans and the Greek Orthodox Church
The "Old Catholics" of Holland
Reunion Conferences
Catholic Unity
The Papacy as reunion center
Protestant hostility to Catholicism
The demands of charity

The Truth of Catholicism

Necessity of the Church
The true Church
Catholic claim absolute
A clerical hierarchy
Papal Supremacy
Temporal Power
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Catholic attitude to converts
Indefectible Apostolicity
Necessity of becoming a Catholic

The Church and the Bible

Catholic belief in the Bible
Bible-reading and private interpretation
Value of Tradition and the "Fathers"
Guidance of the Church necessary

The Dogmas of the Catholic Church

Dogmatic certainty
Credal statements
Faith and reason
The voice of science
Fate of rationalists
The dogma of the Trinity
Creation and evolution
The existence of angels
Evil spirits or devils
Man's eternal destiny
The fact of sin
Nature and work of Christ
Mary, the mother of God
Grace and salvation
The sacraments
Holy Eucharist
The Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Communion
Marriage and divorce
Extreme Unction
Man's death and judgment
Resurrection of the body
End of the World

Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church

Catholic intolerance
The Spanish Inquisition
Prohibition of Books
Liberty of worship
Forbidden Socieities
Church attendance
The New Psychology
Deterministic philosophy
Marriage Legislation
Birth Prevention
Monastic Life
Convent Life
Legal defense of murderers
Laywers and divorce proceedings
Judges in Divorce
Professional secrecy

The Church in Her Worship

Why build churches?
Glamor of ritual
The "Lord's Prayer"
Pagan derivations
Liturgical symbolism
Use of Latin
Intercession of Mary and the Saints

The Church and Social Welfare

The Church and Education
The Social Problem
Social Duty of the Church
Catholicism and Capitalism

Deterministic philosophy

1095. If I can prove a thing to be scientifically true would you accept it?

Yes. For if indeed a thing can really be proved scientifically true, then that thing is a fact. And there is not a single fact in any order of knowledge which in any way could conflict with the Catholic religion.

1096. Do you admit that the universe is governed by absolutely rigid and invariable laws?

No. One factor in this universe is the free will of man which can result in many unforeseen variations. And, of course, allowance must be made for God's own direct intervention in certain cases with results beyond our normal expectations. Your further questions show that you believe neither in free will nor in the possibility of God's intervention apart from ordinary natural laws. You believe in the theory of absolute determinism. With that I will deal in due course. But let me say here that modern physics, or rather physicists, are tending more and more to abandon the old deterministic and mechanical view of the universe, and to hold that it is constituted on an ultimate indeterminism which undermines all possibility of predicting with certainty its future behavior.

1097. Is the human will free, if we can predict with absolute certainty what a given man will do under certain circumstances?

It could be. To disprove free will, it is useless to talk of a given man. If you could predict with absolute certainty what every man would do under certain circumstances, then free will would not exist. Such universal absolute certainty would argue to a necessity of action in a given direction. But no one can predict with absolute certainty what all men will do. Granted a perfect knowledge of the heredity, education, environment, and circumstances of every man in a given group, it is certain that members of that group have the power to choose contrary to all your expectations and predictions. For they have free will. You want to deny that power of free will. You must ask yourself why. For that happens to be your choice against the evidence. You need not disbelieve in free will. If you disbelieve, it is because you desire to disbelieve. You shut your eyes to evidence and fact, and cling blindly to a theory that suits you. Again, ask yourself why.

1098. As a scientist, I have to work on the hypothesis that human actions are the result of antecedent conditions. I can't make allowance for the unknown factor of free will.

That free will exists is not an unknown factor. Whatchoice a free will may make is unknown to you, but that does not affect your science. You may work on the hypothesis that human actions are the result of antecedent conditions, but keep in mind that it is only a provisional hypothesis. Though you can never be absolutely certain how men will act, you can form a fair estimate of practical value how men will most likely choose to act. But you cannot get beyond that probability. Statesmen, diplomats, educationalists, salesmen, and all businessmen work on the principle that a certain motive or stimulus will as a matter of fact sway the will of others in a certain direction. But that does not make them determinists. They recognize that human behavior is very largely automatic and indeliberate. But they know that in any given instance the expected may not result, owing to the further deliberations and a contrary choice on the part of those they hope to persuade.

1099. I have to teach science as I know it.

I am sorry to hear that you are a teacher. The children entrusted to your care are indeed in a sad plight. Your theory of determinism, involving the denial of free will, and of all moral responsibility, is no more than a theory. And because such a theory can have none but the most dangerous consequences in practice, the Church rightly condemns it. So do all right-thinking people.

1100. Human beings have no freedom of choice. All their decisions are as necessary as the exploding of a bomb.

You are talking nonsense. A bomb does not deliberate as to whether it will explode or not. It experiences no inner conflict between motives, and has no conscience indicating one course of conduct as right and another as wrong.

1101. If we knew fully the character, heredity, environment and all the external and internal circumstances of a given man, we could predict infallibly what he would do. That shows that he is not free.

Granted all the knowledge you postulate, you could not predict infallibly what the man would choose to do. It's all very well for you to say so easily, "That shows he is not free." But before any value attaches to that, you have to show that you can infallibly predict in all cases what all men will do. You have not done so, and cannot do so.

1102. If we cannot make that infallible prediction in practice, it is only because we do not know all the factors bearing upon a given individual.

Rather than admit free will, you prefer to fall back on your own ignorance. But because of some imagined force in the unconscious make-up of individual men you are denying a fact of which we are conscious. It is bad enough to base a certain assertion upon what you confess you don't know. But it is worse to fall back to a position which is quite beside the point. Free will, by definition, is a characteristic of the conscious self. To delve into the unconscious is to sidestep the sphere in which free will can alone operate. Free will is a psychological fact. And you must adjust your conclusions to that fact of experience.

1103. An astronomer who meets with new phenomena arguing to an unseen planet does not cry "miracle," and refuse to examine natural factors in the usual way.

There is no need here to introduce the idea of miracles. Free will itself is a natural, and not a miraculous factor. In any case, the behavior of the astronomer does not imply that he refuses to believe in miracles. Rightly he must exhaust all possible natural explanations first. A psychologist, too, may put on one side the idea of free will for the purposes of his science in order to estimate probable behavior, and study the most likely influence upon behavior. But for that it is not necessary to deny or disbelieve in free will. We can say that normal people will normally choose to act in normal ways. But we cannot say that they have not the power to choose otherwise.

1104. Many people are held responsible for criminal acts and punished who are not really responsible.

That is true. But it does not prove that nobody is ever responsible for criminal acts. And it is no argument at all against the fact of free will. There are many people sick in hospitals. That does not prove that there are no healthy people in existence.

1105. We would be better employed in scientifically investigating causes of delinquency than in saying that criminals are deliberately responsible and punishing them.

You have jumped from the irresponsibility of some criminals to the irresponsibility of criminals in general. That's a very bad lapse in logic. Also we have not to choose between scientifically investigating causes of delinquency and declaring criminals responsible. We should scientifically investigate the causes of delinquency; declare abnormal types of men to be abnormal, estimating their guilt according to their degree of abnormality; and declare quite normal men to be deliberately responsible if they indulge in criminal conduct, and punish them accordingly.

1106. A proper education demands that the new generation should be given a wider outlook.

If you impart your outlook to those entrusted to you for their education you will only contribute to their ruin, and the ruin of society. The determinist who teaches that man has no self-governing powers but that he is a mere piece of mechanism compelled to do all that he does do, is teaching a doctrine, not only fundamentally untrue, but one that is horribly degrading. Teach moral responsibility and you teach a great force for good. The consciousness of free will and of the duty to avoid evil has made human character. But the more a child is taught to regard itself as the plaything of irresistible forces the less that child will resist seductive temptations.

1107. People should know how to interpret their conduct and that of others in the light of inherited tendencies and past experiences.

That is true. But they should not be taught that they will find the whole explanation of their conduct in such elements, and that they have no real freedom of action. In his book "The Rediscovery of Man," Dr. Henry C. Link holds up to just ridicule the idea that a man can transfer his responsibility to his glands or his grandfather or to intercranial pressure, compulsions, complexes, or to that spectral warehouse of moral and temperamental junk called the subconscious mind. Too much of this talk tends to permit people to regard themselves as victims of circumstance rather than as their own agents and guardians. They will make no conscious effort, but will simply acquiesce in their vices. Your doctrine will make criminals, not cure them.

1108. The new knowledge will give people a kindlier outlook on those previously believed to be criminals.

Determinism is not new. And it cannot rightly be called knowledge. It is nonsense. If you deny all moral responsibility, as you do, then there is no such thing as deliberate crime. There is only mental or physical disease. Those we call criminals can't help themselves, and are more sinned against than sinning. Logically, according to you, we should rather compensate the poor victim of such disabilities than punish him as a criminal.

1109. What is the use of discovering principles if we do not apply them?

You surely do not imagine you have discovered a "principle" by denying free will! Certainly there is every reason why a believer in determinism should not attempt to teach it. For according to him, those who believe in free will are compelled by sheer necessity to do so. They cannot do otherwise. Why waste time trying to force views upon them which they are predetermined not to accept? It is an absurd and useless apostolate. Meantime those who do believe in free will should certainly prevent your teaching your absurd philosophy to others. A child should not be taught to ask, "How far have I been a victim of my unconscious tendencies," but, "How far, by conscious and deliberate action, have I brought myself into my present state? And what must I do to eradicate the evil?" Only thus will you help to build character and make a real contribution to the education of the young in any true sense of the word.

1110. It is only that our actions are determined that we can give a certain kind of training that will turn out certain kinds of men.

The same kind of training given to an indiscriminate lot of subjects has never yet turned out the same kind of men. From the same families, environment, colleges and universities, the most diverse types have resulted. That all our actions are determined is as absurd psychologically, as the astrological assumption that all born on a certain day are subject to the same conditions.

1111. You seem strongly opposed to determinism and the new psychology.

Determinism, or the denial of free will, is a by-product of materialism: and for once I am inclined to agree with Voltaire who said that materialism is the most enormous of all absurdities, and the most revolting folly which has ever entered into the human mind. In the driftage from virtue and from obedience to God's laws, men wanted a philosophy which would deliver them from the uncomfortable sense of sin or interior guilt. So they denied free will and moral responsibility altogether. Then the determinist philosophers came forward with a variety of explanations to comfort people when things go wrong. You can blame environment, heredity; or that poor old scapegoat, the sub-conscious. In fact, you can blame almost anything except yourself. The popularity of psycho-analysis is based on the same motive. They are all, more or less, escapist subterfuges to get away from the uncomfortable thought of human responsibility.

1112. Is there any definite proof that determinism is wrong?

The proofs of freedom of will prove determinism wrong, and those proofs are from considerations both intrinsic and extrinsic to man from the philosophical point of view; whilst from the religious point of view, freedom of the human will is a fact revealed by God. The Christian who denies free will denies his Christian religion.

1113. I have no religious prejudices. I am a free thinker.

There is no need to reject religion in order to escape religious prejudices. It is right to abandon prejudices. It is wrong to abandon religion. As a matter of fact you are a bundle of irreligious prejudices. Meantime, why do you call yourself a free thinker whilst, in the same breath, you deny free will? Like all determinists, you cannot be consistent. You cannot even describe your own opinions without contradicting yourself. On your own principles, you cannot think freely. In the end, of course, those who proudly proclaim their belief in free thought yet deny free will merely wish to be able to think wrongly without being accused of doing wrongly. Their free thought enables them to declare that they have no duty to God; and their denial of free will affords self-excuse for evil conduct which they calmly say they cannot help doing.

1114. That is not to say that I have no moral standards.

What do you mean by moral standards? If there is no free will, there is no morality. It is as absurd for you to talk about an immoral man as about an immoral volcano. Or do you hold that you are determined in spite of yourself to behave as if determinism is not true after all? Personally I would say that you are deliberately determined to believe your own system to be true though you know that it isn't.

1115. I accept the facts of psychology.

No one could blame you, did you really do that. But you do not accept the facts of psychology. One of the facts of psychology is free will. And you reject that. I have told you that many scientists reject a deterministic explanation even of the physical universe. Most modern philosophers, in common with all men of common sense, reject psychological determinism. They believe absolutely in the existence of human free will. They know quite well, by their own perfectly reliable inner experience, that before acting there are various courses open to them, and that they are free to choose one way or another; having chosen, they know that it was a voluntary decision, and that they can reverse that decision at any moment. After such deliberate actions, they know that they are responsible. They take credit to themselves if they made a good choice. And after evil actions they experience remorse, and blame themselves. It is in an effort to escape this last uncomfortable experience that people adopt determinism. They desire to do evil comfortably. They have no other reason for their system, in the ultimate analysis. The denial of free will is one more instance of the wish being father to the thought.

1116. Statistics prove that, where religion is most strongly practiced, there crime is most prevalent.

That verdict is absurd on the face of it. For if religion is strongly practiced, the laws of God are observed, and they exclude crime. If crime is prevalent, those guilty of crime are not practicing their religion.

1117. The fear of God breeds delinquency, and delinquency breeds crime.

Reverence for God has never yet bred delinquency.

1118. Christianity is supposed to be uplifting; but like cure-all patent medicine, it fails utterly in practice.

You have a slightly wrong notion of Christianity. It is not a thing you drink like a patent medicine, and then wait for results. Christianity gives to men the power to lift themselves above their evil inclinations provided they correspond with its principles and graces. And Christianity has not failed in practice where men have not failed to practice it. Its success has been very real wherever men have yielded to its influence, and in proportion to the extent in which they have been willing to allow it to influence them.



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