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

Truth of the Bible

123. From the natural point of view I find the stories of Adam and Eve, of Noah and the Ark, of Lot's wife, of Samson, of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, of Jonah and the whale, etc., very difficult to believe.

I am not surprised. And to me they would seem often enough quite impossible from the merely natural viewpoint. If I were expected to believe in these things as being the result of any merely natural laws or forces, I would refuse to do so. They become credible only when they are attributed to some cause outside merely natural forces; and to me they are credible only because Almighty God Himself has stepped in with a special manifestation of His infinite power. Every reasonable man has to admit that God could cause such things to happen; and a Christian is obliged to believe that He did so, wherever the Bible obviously intends to declare such events to be matters of historical fact.

124. Must these be accepted in the literal sense?

We have to believe in the inspiration and truth of the Bible. But we have to believe in the truth intended by God, not in the first superficial idea that comes to our mind. In other words, we have to believe in the Bible rightly interpreted. Of various passages we must ask whether God intended them to be taken as literally true, or whether they are meant to convey the truth in a metaphorical way. Normally speaking, presumption stands for the literal sense, and no details are to be taken as metaphorical without sufficiently grave reason. It must be noted also that an historical event may be described in such a way that figurative expressions abound. In such a case, we have to accept the account as substantially historical fact, but need not accept every secondary detail in a similar way.Now let us take the examples you give. Are we obliged to believe that God intended all the cases you give to be taken entirely in their literal sense? There are certainly metaphorical details blended with the history of Adam and Eve. But we are obliged to believe in the substantial accuracy of the narrative. The Catholic Church insists on our acceptance of those basic facts which are at the very foundation of the Christian religion. We must believe that God did create all beings apart from Himself; that the creation of man was a distinct action; that the first woman was formed from the first man; that the whole human race is descended from the first pair, Adam and Eve; that this first pair disobeyed God, and by their sin put themselves and all their posterity into a state of evil from which they needed redemption by Christ. We have to believe in the historical interpretation of these fundamental details in a spirit of obedience to the Church, and because there are no sound reasons for thinking otherwise.Personally, also, I see no sound reason for rejecting the historical character of the accounts of Noah and the Ark; of Lot's wife; of Samson; and of the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews. There is no room for a metaphorical interpretation of these things. It is possible to accept the story of Jonah and the whale as a kind of parable, truly typifying the burial and resurrection of Christ, just as the parable of the Prodigal Son truly typified God's mercy towards sinners. But I cannot see any real need to do this. I would have no difficulty in accepting the story of Jonah and the whale as literally true once I was certain that the account was intended by the original writer in that sense.

125. Is it not absurd not only that God should want to try Abraham's faith, but that He should order Abraham to kill his own son?

God did not test Abraham in order to secure further knowledge concerning him, but in order to give Abraham an opportunity of performing a meritorious act of obedience which Abraham would not otherwise have received. The trial was not necessary from God's point of view. It was necessary from Abraham's point of view. It was God's immutable will, based upon His infinite knowledge of all things, that Abraham should first be asked to offer his son; and then that he should be freed from the necessity of sacrificing that son in actual practice. But even had God intended Abraham to kill the boy, God, as supreme Lord and Master of life and death, would not have exceeded His rights.

126. Can you believe it true that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, so that he refused to release the Jews from Egypt?

The expression, "God hardened the heart of Pharaoh" occurs only after the repeated statement, as in Exodus VIII., 15, "And Pharaoh hardened his own heart." The context shows that God did not positively harden Pharaoh's heart, but that He merely permitted Pharaoh to harden his own heart. Pharaoh himself admitted, in Exodus IX., 27, "I have sinned this time also. The Lord is just. I and my people are wicked." Pharaoh knew quite well that he could have yielded to God's commands and released the Jews.

127. Do you believe that God sent the plagues upon Egypt, and above all, had the innocent children of the Egyptians killed?

Yes. Our speculations as to what God would or would not do are not evidence. I might be inclined to say, "Surely God would not permit cancer!" But God has permitted it. The prudence of man's limited intelligence is not the measure of God's wisdom. As for the innocent Egyptian children, we must not view them merely as individuals. It is essential that they be viewed as social units. One nation as a nation was grinding another nation down in abject slavery and immense suffering- a nation whose services God wanted for a special purpose. The offending nation was punished as a nation, the parents suffering through their children. Those individually innocent children had their lives in this world curtailed, but they continued their existence in the next where they received just treatment from God. Meantime, if those children lacked some of the joys experienced by others who live longer, they also escaped many of the sorrows and afflictions of this world. In any case, a created being is completely owned by its Creator, and we have a right to life only so long as our Creator decrees.

128. I could go on almost forever quoting extraordinary things believers in the Bible must accept.

You could. But nothing would be gained by doing so. It would be surprising if an account of an omnipotent God's dealings with men did not contain extraordinary things. Once God's rights and God's power are in question, the extraordinary cannot be advanced as disproof of the events recorded. The Bible certainly cannot be proved untrue in that way.

129. Did the flood recorded in Genesis really occur?


130. So you believe that God repented that He had made man? In what sense do you understand that expression?

From the viewpoint of the human beings to whom God spoke. Naturally, in addressing a message to men, God speaks in a way which is intelligible to them. Now, when a man makes a thing which will not fulfill the purpose for which he made it, he destroys it, and sets to work again. Men did not fulfill God's will, and in quite a human way God says that He regrets having made man, and predicts mankind's destruction by the flood. But there was no change in God. There is a big difference between changing one's will, and willing a change in the destiny of others. God had always willed that if man did good, man would not be destroyed; and that if he did evil, he would be destroyed. The change was in the fortunes of men, not in God. The words, "God repented," therefore, are to be understood metaphorically according to human analogies, and from the aspect of the effects experienced by men.

131. To my mind the flood is simply a myth.

Your only reason for terming it a myth is the fact that you cannot see how it happened according to forces which no one claims to have been responsible for it, and according to conditions arbitrarily appointed by yourself. That is not a rational position. You should first ask what exactly is claimed concerning the flood, and what forces are supposed to have caused it.

132. Do you believe that rain for forty days could cover the whole earth with water above the highest mountains?

The Bible attributes the flood, not only to the rain, but also to an invasion of water from the sea. Moreover, the flood did not cover the whole of the earth, but the whole of the particular region where it occurred. The interpretation of the flood as local is not opposed to the expression in the Bible referring to "the whole of the earth." That is quite a usual expression for the whole of some given region. Thus, the famine in Egypt is described as a famine "over all the face of the earth."

133. The water could not remain banked up in a given region even to the height necessary to cover the mountains.

You forget that the Bible declares God to have been the cause of the flood. God is omnipotent. He can suspend, dispense with, and regulate the physical laws He established as He pleases, and without the slightest difficulty. Imagined difficulties by one who thinks only of created natural laws, leaving out the direct power of God, are of no value. The only way to refute the account of the flood is to refute the historical character of Genesis on other grounds: or to show that there is no God, or that He is not omnipotent. In other words, you must show that the cause alleged by Genesis either does not exist, or could not accomplish what is attributed to Him. But it is of no use to say that you do not see how it could happen in accordance with merely natural factors, when we grant that merely natural factors could not account for it. The waters were maintained in position by God's power during the time willed by God. This involved a miracle, insofar as God acted in a way outside the ordinary course of nature. But an omnipotent God who can create a universe can do with that universe, or any part of it, what He wills. The question is not as to whether God could do it, but as to whether He did do it. The Bible says that He did. There is positive evidence for it. There is no evidence against it. The flood is not a myth. It happened.

134. How could Noah build an Ark capable of holding two animals of every kind in the world?

The flood did not cover the whole face of the earth, but the whole area of that locality in which men existed. Animals, created prior to man, could have spread much farther afield, or could have been created according to their specific kinds in various places over the face of the earth. If we consider all types of animals in the whole of the world, there is a difficulty as to how the Ark, with its known measurements, could accommodate representatives of every type. But there is no need to imagine such conditions. Innumerable varieties of animals could have existed outside the flood area, and not come into contact with the disaster. It is sufficient that types of those animals in the locality subject to the flood were represented in the Ark.

135. To contain types of all animals in the world the Ark must have been of a tremendous size, probably larger than the Berengaria. What was its probable tonnage?

Allowing for the local character of the flood, the Ark would not have to be of so great a size as you think. As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us the size of the Ark. It was 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet deep. It was, therefore, much smaller than the Berengaria, which was 883 feet long, 98 feet wide, and 57 feet deep. We can scarcely estimate comparative tonnage, as the Berengaria was of steel, with immense inner constructions and heavy engines. Its gross tonnage was 52,226. But the Ark was built of wood. I would say that in size it would have been much about the same as the average 6,000-ton steamer of today.

136. With two of every living thing on the Ark, the food problem would have to be considered. Many of the animals would have eaten the others, or would have died themselves.

The animals taken into the Ark for the sake of preservation were duly preserved, and emerged safely after the flood. Noah took on board stores of suitable food, at least sufficient to preserve life, even though it were possibly not the normal diet of every given animal. Keep in mind that the number of animals was far fewer than many imagine, for they were local specimens only. And here is a remarkable fact: In 1609, Peter Jansen, of Horn, in Holland, built a vessel according to the dimensions of the Ark as given in Scripture. And it was found that, even if a quarter of the space were given to storage of food, there would still be left more than 50 cubic feet for each 7,000 pairs of animals. But it is doubtful whether there were 7,000 pairs of animals in the Ark. And the provision of food for the duration of the flood was not so great a problem as is imagined.

137. If only the human beings in the Ark were saved, all men today must be descended from Noah and his family.

That is true.

138. Is it necessary to believe that there were no human survivors except those in the Ark?

That is not an article of faith. The opinion could be held, though it is the far less probable opinion, that not all men were drowned in the flood, but that some races had proceeded far afield, and had escaped it. Personally, I do not accept that opinion, which raises far greater difficulties than the ordinary view.

139. Anthropologists say that the Australian aboriginals are the most ancient of all peoples. In that case, they must have been in Australia when the flood occurred, contemporaneously with Moses.

That would not affect the doctrine of the flood, for Moses wrote of the flood many centuries after it occurred. I might mention that anthropologists are growing more and more modest in their attempts to gauge the antiquity of various races. They admit that many of their earlier speculations have failed to allow sufficiently for all the factors involved. Moreover, expert opinion declares that the Australian aboriginal belongs to the Caucasian group of peoples, and that his presence in Australia is due to migration from Asia.

140. You see no difficulty in accounting for the presence of the aboriginal in Australia, and the Indian in America?

No great difficulty presents itself. America was almost certainly joined to Asia in the remote past, at least in the North where Alaska almost touches Siberia. Australia, too, was probably connected by continuous land with Asia where today we have the numerous islands from Cape York to Singapore. But actual union between the countries would not be necessary. From time immemorial men have traveled vast distances in skiffs, or on rafts. In our own times, natives travel great distances in primitive boats made of the bark of trees, or of hollow logs. The difficulty of getting to remote places by water is not regarded today as any serious objection to the doctrine of a common source for the human race.

141. In Exodus XX., 5, we are told that God is a jealous God. Do you believe that to be true?

Yes, in the sense intended. Wherever there is love, there must be some kind of jealousy, for jealousy is but zeal on behalf of the object of one's love. But, just as there are different kinds of love, selfish or unselfish, so there are different kinds of jealousy. The more one loves, of course, the more one tries to exclude whatever could come between himself and the object of his love. Where a man, however, is usually jealous of others who would take from him one whom he thinks necessary for his happiness, God is jealous of all that would prevent Him from giving happiness to the souls He loves. To bring this home to the Jews, as His chosen people, and the particular object of His love, God spoke to them through the prophets in a way they could understand. He told them that Israel was wedded to Him; that He had espoused His chosen people; that idolatry, or worship of false gods, was simply "adultery" in His sight. And just as a man is jealous of his wife lest another should rob him of his exclusive right to her affection, so the Jews understood that, on the religious and spiritual plane, God insisted on His exclusive right to their devotedness and love. God's very justice demanded such a return for all the benefits His love had lavished upon them. His use of the human term "jealousy," therefore, was meant to bring home to them on their own level His exclusive claim to their spiritual allegiance. But in God, the term would have to be understood in a way proper to God, and not in a way proper to men.

142. In Exodus XX., God is recorded as forbidding us to kill, yet in XXXII., as ordering the Israelites to kill even brothers, friends, and neighbors!

The authorized and just death penalty ordered in the latter case was not in conflict with the commandment forbidding unauthorized and unjust killing. You must note, firstly, that this death penalty was ordered by the very God who forbade men to kill unjustly and on their own personal responsibility. And God should know His own law. Secondly, you should note the theocratic nature of the Jewish regime.The Jews had God Himself as their Supreme Ruler even as regards their earthly welfare. Those who abandoned God for idolatry were guilty of treason, and punitive measures were justified. Also, they were giving themselves up to all manner of wickedness and immorality, and did not deserve to retain a life they were so abusing. God, therefore, the Supreme Author of life and death, decreed their extinction, but only after they had been afforded an opportunity to repent and return to Him. Those who refused to repent were to be put to death, and no tie of friendship was to hinder the execution of justice.You speak as though God the Creator were conditioned by and limited to the rights of a creature. God is the Author of life, and we have no right to live longer than He wills. He who makes a thing has the right to unmake it, if it does not fulfill the purpose for which he made it. God has no obligation to keep rebellious men in existence; and He can appoint any given means of removing them from this world; above all, when it is supremely necessary to impress the gravity of man's obligations upon others.All that is by way of explanation of God's command. The absence of contradiction between the two passages you quote is evident quite independently of the reasons for the particular event mentioned in your second reference.

143. If Moses is the author of Deuteronomy, who wrote the account of his death and burial towards the close of the Book?

Moses certainly could not have written those words. Joshua might thus have completed the Book, or else some other inspired, but unknown writer.

144. In Joshua X., 13, we read that the "sun stood still." Quite evidently the writer thought that the world was flat, and that the sun moved across the firmament.

It is not surprising that the writer was unaware of facts not discovered until hundreds of centuries after his time. But that has nothing to do with the inspiration or truth of the Bible. The writer set down the truth as it appeared in the external order. Even had he known that the earth is a globe, that it rotates on its own axis, and that it moves 'round the sun, he would probably and in fact certainly should have described the phenomenon just as he did. With all our scientific enlightenment we still speak of sunrise and sunset, though the sun does not rise, nor "go down." We express the apparent truth in everyday speech without any fear of being challenged concerning our veracity.

145. Did the sun stand still?

Relatively to this earth the sun is always still. It only appears to rise, move across the heavens, and set. The question should be, "Did God suspend the rotation of the earth for a given period?" There is no need to admit that He did so. The prolongation of daylight was a miracle wrought by God, but it could have been accomplished by a prolongation of the sun's rays. We all know how density of atmosphere apparently enlarges the sun towards evening, and how, too, by the refraction or bending of the sun's rays, the sun appears to remain visible even after we know that it must have gone below the ordinary line of vision with the actual horizon. By a miraculously caused refraction of the sun's rays God probably caused a prolongation of daylight, giving an effect which men would naturally describe as the sun standing still.

146. Did Jonah actually live in the whale for three days?

That depends upon the further question as to whether the incident be intended as strictly historical, or as a kind of parable with typical truth only. Catholic interpreters are free to regard it as an allegory. Most Catholic authors regard the story as historical. Granted the intervention of an omnipotent God, no one can say that it would be impossible. However, the Church has defined nothing concerning the interpretation of the Book of Jonah save that it is truly canonical and inspired by God.



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