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Probability and Statistical Impossibility

Late last year, Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Metaxas published an interesting piece titled "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God". The article argues that recent scientific discoveries about the universe increase the likelihood that the cosmos is the result of an intelligent designer. Though the article is brief, we recommend a studious reading of it, as it brings to the fore several essential problems with purely materialist theories of the origin of the universe. In this essay, we will examine the issue of probability and the concept of "statistical impossibility" and how it undermines the materialist assumption that given enough time, anything is possible.


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Assault on Constitutive Tradition

Why does the liturgy always bear the brunt of the attacks launched by those intent on remaking the Catholic Church in the image of modernism? What is it about the sacred liturgy that poses such a threat to progressives, such that it suffers from the constant and unremitting tinkering of liberal 'reformers' intent on obliterating all vestiges of the Church's tradition? Of course, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most perfect act of worship and as such is especially hated by the devil, who rages against the Mass with a special hatred. This is obviously the supernatural motive behind progressive attacks. But there is also a very theological reason, and it is bound up with the Church's understanding of Tradition, Divine Revelation, and...


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Council of Ancyra and Celibacy

In a previous article, "The Truth About Priestly Continence and Celibacy in the Early Church", we have shown that from the very earliest days of Christianity it was assumed that ministers of the altar would abstain from sexual relations. It is very true that there were married priests in the early Church, but those priests were expected to practice continence with their wives; i.e., abstain from even the legitimate sexual relations of the married state. We see this reflected in the regional and ecumenical conciliar texts of the period, which all stipulate that priests who are married are expected to live with their spouse as brother and sister. This is so uniformly asserted in the sacred canons that we can safely hold clerical continence to...


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Torture: Historical and Ethical Perspectives

At the time of the writing of this article (December, 2014), United States citizens are reeling from revelations concerning extrajudicial torture camps operated by the CIA. American Catholics who identify themselves as political conservatives find themselves in a difficult spot; conservative thinking associated with the United States Republican Party has - especially since September 11, 2001 - tended to justify the use of torture in the interrogation of suspects with connections to radical Islam on the premise that such methods are necessary to save American lives from future terrorist attacks. However, this stalwart defense of torture flies in the face of statements found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and of recent popes who rank torture among those offenses against human dignity which no...


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What's wrong with Religious Orders in America?

The Apostolic Visitation to American female religious orders - begun under Benedict XVI - has just been wrapped up with the issuance of a Vatican document. The tone of the document leaves one wondering what the problem was to begin with. All of the original problems identified under the Benedictine pontificate (pantheism, paganism, spiritualized environmentalist earth worship, rampant lesbianism, dissent, etc) are simply omitted in the new document, which almost goes as far as to apologize to the nuns for bothering them for the past few years. Nothing to see here folks, move along. To those who love our Church's monastic-religious tradition, this is obviously a huge disappointment. The Vatican has chosen to ignore the real problems in American religious life, which really are the...


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Good, Acceptable, and Perfect Will of God

"Do not imitate this world, but be transformed by the renovation of your minds, and you shall distinguish what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:12).It is a teaching of the Faith that there are unequal degrees of beatitude in heaven. The Council of Florence taught that those in heaven "behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits" (Session 6). This inequality of is predicated upon the inequality in merit among souls. Some fulfill the will of God in a nearly perfect manner, conforming themselves intimately to the image of Christ, merit much glory; others, like the workers called at the end of the day in the parable...


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Ecclesiastical Property Ownership in the Middle Ages

Of the many things that can be said about the Church in the Middle Ages, one of the most commonly asserted statements is that the Catholic Church owned one third of all the land in Europe on the eve of the Protestant Reformation. This is not only stated in works hostile to the Catholic Church, but also in authors and textbooks sympathetic to Catholicism as well. It seems like it is one of those points of history that is generally uncontested. The force of the statement is not in the facts themselves but in what sort of conclusions one draws from them. Both Protestant and laissez-faire economic apologists use this number to beat up the Church with; the former by arguing that the immense quantities of property...


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Catholics and Tithing

How do various Christian groups differ from each other regarding the amount of money donated to their respective churches? Every major study in recent years that I am aware of has verified that Catholics are the most penurious of all Christian groups; typically we are ranked at or close to dead last in giving. What does dead last look like? In most studies it is about 1.25% to 1.5% of gross income (for comparison, the highest was around 6.1% for the Reformed Church in America. Mainline liberal Protestant churches hovered around 2.5 to 3%). The "penurious Catholic" trend was even the subject of a book authored by Charles Zech and printed by Our Sunday Visitor back in 2000 called Why Catholics Don't Give...And What Can Be...


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Status and Contract

In his classic 1937 work The Crisis of Civilization, Hilaire Belloc summarizes the development of Christendom and diagnoses with precision how the rejection of the Catholic Church at the time of the Protestant Revolt is responsible for the social and economic troubles of the modern world. The most pressing economic problem is that the vast majority of people are wage-earners to a small owner class who have a disproportionate control of the means of production. This situation Belloc calls 'Proletarianism.' While modern wage-earners have political rights, full economic freedom eludes them because they are too dependent upon those who pay their wages. Unlike the Communists, who assert that the evil is in private ownership of property, Belloc states the problem is not that capital is...


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Israelite Houses in Egypt

According to the Biblical narrative, the Israelites dwelt in Egypt abount four centuries, for the latter part of that time as slaves. Much effort has been expended seeking for archaeological evidence of the long Israelite sojourn in Egypt. Tantalizing hints about Israel's presence in Egypt are found in certain pottery fragments discovered in Avaris (the biblical Goshen), in certain Egyptian inscriptions, and in some New Kingdom artistic representations. These are but glimpses, however. Full scale, undeniable hard evidence of an Israelite presence in Egypt between 1700-1300 BC. has yet to emerge. We should not make too much of this, however. Much of the physical culture of the ancient Egyptians themselves has vanished; tombs and temples remain, but the houses of the average Egyptian peasant are...


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History of the Catholic Church

  • Council of Ancyra and Celibacy

    In a previous article, "The Truth About Priestly Continence and Celibacy in the Early Church", we have shown that from the very earliest days of Christianity it was assumed that ministers of the altar would abstain from sexual relations. It is very true that there were married priests in the early C…

    Read more: Council of...

Theology & Liturgy

  • Probability and Statistical Impossibility

    Late last year, Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Metaxas published an interesting piece titled "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God". The article argues that recent scientific discoveries about the universe increase the likelihood that the cosmos is the result of an intelligent designer. T…

    Read more: Probability...

Catholic Spirituality

Movie Reviews

  • Paddington (2014)

    So, I really had no intention of going to see Paddington (PG, 2014), the comic film adaptation of the popular Paddington Bear children's books. But my wife and kids hadn't been out to the movies in a while and I thought, eh, what the heck.Paddington is directed by Paul King, who has done nothing rea…

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Economy & Society

  • Torture: Historical and Ethical Perspectives

    At the time of the writing of this article (December, 2014), United States citizens are reeling from revelations concerning extrajudicial torture camps operated by the CIA. American Catholics who identify themselves as political conservatives find themselves in a difficult spot; conservative thinkin…

    Read more: Torture:...