Monday, April 16, 2007

Bread Into Flesh?

Ok, here is another of those Facebook notes I wrote a little while that made some people mad at me:

So a few months ago I managed to get into a discussion on religion with a Jew and a Protestant, both of whom asked me to explain the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation. If you don't know, that's the belief that when the priest blesses the bread and wine at mass they cease to be bread and wine, and physically become flesh and blood, which we then eat. It sounds a little far-fetched, and neither of them had anything nice to say about it, or the Church that accepts it. Now, here I might add that both of them were far more religious than I am. That gave me the idea to try and convince them that they actually believe Transubstantiation is possible. Sounds like fun eh? So here's how it went...

I told them that the entire doctrine of Transubstantiation relies on two main articles of belief, and that no one who opposed either of them could conceive of its validity. These two ideas are as follows:1- You must believe that God not only exists, but takes an active role in the day-to-day workings of the world.2 - You must believe that God is omnipotent, and is not bound by the strictures man has imposed on the natural world under the guise of "science."I thought that sounded clear enough, and being religious type people, they pretty much agreed with those ideas.

Ok, step two; here's where we resort to logic. First, IF one believes that God takes an active role in the world, then one must also believe that His presence at mass and participation in it is at least possible. Second, IF one believes that God is omnipotent then one must also believe that He is capable of turning bread and wine into a sort of flesh and blood that merely LOOKS, and TASTES like bread and wine to us mortals. Failure to believe He could do that would thus be a denial of His omnipotence. Therefore, IF one agrees with the above articles of faith, then it becomes impossible to deny at least the possibility that Transubstantiation is a reasonable idea.

So, I thought my logic was pretty sound (although I admit to frequently faulty logic characterized by leaps from A-D, rather than the usual A-B-C-D stuff that ultimately makes more sense)...and I told them that I had just proved that they both believed in Transubstantiation. Let me tell you, I have never in my life seen two people so offended, flustered, confused, and angry. One of them kept repeating "but it doesn't change, it just doesn't" with no explanation forthcoming. The other called me an idiot and proceeded to leave both the discussion and the room...

Which leads me to a few questions:

1 - Was my logic messed up?

2 - Is it totally unreasonable to ask that a person responds in a manner that suits the discussion? I mean, one minute we were actually discussing theology within the framework of organized religion and its finer points, and the next I'm being called a jackass by two people who couldn't back up their arguments with any ideas contained within such a framework. If we were discussing Italian soccer, and I described the particular Italian philosophy regarding the distribution of red and yellow cards, responding in terms of NHL hockey makes no sense.

3 - Have we as a society lost the ability to discuss contentious issues in reasonable terms without resorting to name-calling and constant repetition of an "I'm right and you're wrong" nature?

4 - Am I just a dick?

So, that's my little rant for the day. I know, religion is one of those super-touchy issues, but I don't think it should be. Only in discussing society's differences can we ever come to understand and accept them...and only by PROPERLY discussing them can any sense be made...Oh, and by the way, I'm not a religious fanatic, I was only trying to convince them of Transubstantiation for the sake of argument. I like to argue.

Thanks for listening to me again, and please tell me what you think, open discussion is my favourite forum. Ciao.

1 comment:

felonious funk said...

i agree that religion should be discussed and not simply blindly followed. loyalty ad worship is admirable, but not when one is unwilling to test the existence and possibility of a world without their religion, without their god.

thanks for the comment. maybe we will get together and drink sometime. what bugs me the most is how fast she seemed to move on, straight into a relationship. but then i remind myself that she must have found that missing thing she was looking for, that i could not offer, and i'm truly happy for her. doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt tho.