Previous William Thomas Sherman Info Page postings, quotes, observations, etc.
An awesome, mighty, and galvinizing force that empowers and rewards virtue. But how, consistent with wisdom, is virtue to be empowered and rewarded in this life (leave aside the next?) Granted, we do or would have our own ideas and surmises on the subject, and yet are such ideas and surmises wise?
Earlier we had questioned why some Church Fathers were so harsh on the classical philosphers? In fact, Lactantius is prepared for this objection and, in Books V and VI of his Divine Institutes, lists, we should note, at least two pressing reasons for this:
1. Educated fellow Christians have been known to relapse owing to the misguided influence of the followers of philosophy.
2. Philosophy offers no heart or head to the body, and in consequence inevitably leads to polytheism.
[Chapter 10]...What! can any one imagine that there was any virtue in him who was fired with madness as stubble, and, forgetful of the shade of his father, by whom he was entreated, was unable to curb his wrath? He was therefore by no means pious who not only slew the unresisting, but even suppliants. Here some one will say: What then, or where, or of what character is piety? Truly it is among those who are ignorant of wars, who maintain concord with all, who are friendly even to their enemies, who love all men as brethren, who know how to restrain their anger, and to soothe every passion of the mind with calm government. How great a mist, therefore, how great a cloud of darkness and errors, has over-spread the breasts of men who, when they think themselves especially pious, then become especially impious? For the more religiously they honour those earthy images, so much the more wicked are they towards the name of the true divinity. And therefore they are often harassed with greater evils as the reward of their impiety; and because they know not the cause of these evils, the blame is altogether ascribed to fortune, and the philosophy of Epicurus finds a place, who thinks that nothing extends to the gods, and that they are neither influenced by favour nor moved by anger, because they often see their despisers happy, and their worshippers in misery. And this happens on this account, because when they seem to be religious and naturally good, they are believed to deserve nothing of that kind which they often suffer. However, they console themselves by accusing fortune; nor do they perceive that if she had any existence, she would never injure her worshippers. Piety of this kind is therefore deservedly followed by punishment; and the deity offended with the wickedness of men who are depraved in their religious worship, punishes them with heavy misfortune; who, although they live with holiness in the greatest faith and innocence, yet because they worship gods whose impious and profane rites are an abomination to the true God, are estranged from justice and the name of true piety. Nor is it difficult to show why the worshippers of the gods cannot be good and just. For how shall they abstain from the shedding of blood who worship bloodthirsty deities, Mars and Bellona? Or how shall they spare their parents who worship Jupiter, who drove out his father? Or how shall they spare their own infants who worship Saturnus? How shall they uphold chastity who worship a goddess who is naked, and an adulteress, and who prostitutes herself as it were among the gods? How shall they withhold themselves from plunder and frauds who are acquainted with the thefts of Mercurius, who teaches that to deceive is not the part of fraud, but of cleverness? How shall they restrain their lusts who worship Jupiter, Hercules, Liber, Apollo, and the others, whose adulteries and debaucheries with men and women are not only known to the learned, but are even set forth in the theatres, and made the subject of songs, so that they are notorious to all? Among these things is it possible for men to be just, who, although they were naturally good, would be trained to injustice by the very gods themselves? For, that you may propitiate the god whom you worship, there is need of those things with which you know that he is pleased and delighted. Thus it comes to pass that the god fashions the life of his worshippers according to the character of his own will, since the most religious worship is to imitate.
[Chapter 15]...The other part of justice, therefore, is equity; and it is plain that I am not speaking of the equity of judging well, though this also is praiseworthy in a just man, but of making himself equal to others, which Cicero calls equability. For God, who produces and gives breath to men, willed that all should be equal, that is, equally matched. He has imposed on all the same condition of living; He has produced all to wisdom; He has promised immortality to all; no one is cut off from His heavenly benefits. For as He distributes to all alike His one light, sends forth His fountains to all, supplies food, and gives the most pleasant rest of sleep; so He bestows on all equity and virtue. In His sight no one is a slave, no one a master; for if all have the same Father, by an equal right we are all children. No one is poor in the sight of God, but he who is without justice; no one is rich, but he who is full of virtues; no one, in short, is excellent, but he who has been good and innocent; no one is most renowned, but he who has abundantly performed works of mercy; no one is most perfect, but he who has filled all the steps of virtue. Therefore neither the Romans nor the Greeks could possess justice, because they had men differing from one another by many degrees, from the poor to the rich, from the humble to the powerful; in short, from private persons to the highest authorities of kings. For where all are not equally matched, there is not equity; and inequality of itself excludes justice, the whole force of which consists in this, that it makes those equal who have by an equal lot arrived at the condition of this life.
[Chapter 21]...But we, on the contrary, do not require that any one should be compelled, whether he is willing or unwilling, to worship our God, who is the God of all men; nor are we angry if any one does not worship Him. For we trust in the majesty of Him who has power to avenge contempt shown towards Himself, as also He has power to avenge the calamities and injuries inflicted on His servants. And therefore, when we suffer such impious things, we do not resist even in word; but we remit vengeance to God, not as they act who would have it appear that they are defenders of their gods, and rage without restraint against those who do not worship them. From which it may be understood how it is not good to worship their gods, since men ought to have been led to that which is good by good, and not by evil; but because this is evil, even its office is destitute of good.
[Chapter 22]...We must also give a reason for this, that no error may remain. For this is especially the cause why it is thought that religion has not the power of God, because men are influenced by the appearance of earthly and present goods, which in no way have reference to the care of the mind; and because they see that the righteous are without these goods, and that the unrighteous abound in them, they both judge that the worship of God is worthless, in which they do not see these things contained, and they imagine that the rites of other gods are true, since their worshippers enjoy riches and honours and kingdoms. But they who are of this opinion do not attentively consider the power and method of man, which consists altogether in the mind, and not in the body. For they see nothing more than is seen, namely the body; and because this is to be seen and handled, it is weak, frail, and mortal; and to this belong all those goods which are their desire and admiration, wealth, honours, and governments, since they bring pleasures to the body, and therefore are as liable to decay as the body itself. But the soul, in which alone man consists since it is not exposed to the sight of the eyes, and its goods cannot be seen, for they are placed in virtue only, must therefore be as firm, and constant, and lasting as virtue itself, in which the good of the soul consists.
~ Lactantius (c. 240?-c. 325? A.D.), Divine Institutes, Book V
It's a wonder, is it not? He spends millions and millions of dollars on films, tv shows, commercials, and other advertising trying to be humorous and yet has never succeeded in actually being funny even once. Oh well, it's evidently the same idea as "he gets to be interesting too;" only in this instance he gets to be funny too -- just one more of the many prerogatives of being a filthy rich criminal.
THE FRIEND OF COMMON SENSE,
In the course of your life you have or will encountered many if not all of the arguments of Hell enumerated below. Although not disposed at the moment to address these at length, we'll at least mention a suggested reply or two.
What is physical is most real.
Response: The physical requires harmony and order just like anything else in order to insure its stability and survival. Therefore, assuming the premise, order and harmony are at least as necessary as anything physical in order for something to qualify as most real.
It's size that matters most.
Response: See "Principle of Least Action"
What matters is girls and money without those you are nothing.
Response: And yet one can have girls and money and still be worse than nothing.
When it comes to deciding what is real, what matters most is what most people think.
Response: Not if most people are uninformed and or irrational.
One person's Reasoning, when you get right down to it, is just as good as anybody else's. Therefore quality of reasoning is irrelevant.
Response: A very convenient excuse for someone who isn't rational or very rational to start with.
Because some people are fakes and are successful; all people who are successful are really fakes.
Response: Again and similarly, a convenient argument for someone without talent and ability.
Control what people think and you control reality.
Response: This assumes, and probably wrongly, that someone does not already control what you think.
Virtue and mercy must at last forgive, but the devil can beat people up; therefore the devil is stronger and has greater authority with people than virtue and mercy.
Response: This is only true of and for people who are willing to surrender their soul over to the devil.
Let them invent and make; we then will later steal, and if need be kill, in order to have what they invent and make.
Response: But what happens when then there is no one left to kill or steal from?
Throw the devil a bone now and then and he will preserve and protect or at least not harm you.
Response: This conclusion flies in the face of all actual experience, and the truth is we have never seen it really work even once -- in all of history -- for any of these people (who believe such.)
All these others (i.e., common folk and dumb people) now do things demonistically; so I suppose God would abandon them to Hell just so he could save elitists like you -- I don't believe it! Response: And yet the sort of person who uses this argument thinks nothing of slaughtering poor animals.
Bears have fangs, sharks teeth, etc., therefore God wanted man and the animals to kill each other and one another.
Response: When animals do kill it is for bare subsistence. How then do you inflate this to justify your having a billion dollars?
Everyone (that is, with any intelligence) agrees that they don't like and don't want to have anything to do with him. Where, however, we all (in one way or other) crucially differ is in how best to get rid of and or keep him at a goodly distance.
"IN THE SHADOWS OF LIBERTY: Charles Brockden Brown and the Rise of American Gothic," for which in .pdf, see: http://www.gunjones.com/Brockden-Brown.pdf
Can you imagine or conceive of religion without spirit people? Or else accept or condone an idea of religion where spirit people do not occupy a particularly central and governing role in human affairs? (If so, why? If not, why not?)
There's enough here to keep us happy forever. But not enough, unfortunately, to keep the very bad out for all that very long.