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Orthodoxy - Chapter IX: Authority and the Adventurer Summary & Analysis

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Chapter IX: Authority and the Adventurer Summary and Analysis

At this point, even if the value of the individual beliefs of the Christian religion have been proven, it has not yet been shown why one must accept the doctrines. In other words, even if it is good and useful to believe these things, it is not clear why one must accept them within the religious context in which they have been presented. The first and most obvious response to this is simply that it would not be intellectually honest to believe in these things without justification, and since their justification comes from religion, one must accept it as it is.

Critics of Catholicism and Christianity in general offer many arguments against the Church, often based on a number of small facts. This method, in general, is a valid one—it is perfectly reasonable to have a number of small arguments for a position rather than one, all-inclusive argument. However, the specific arguments they give are flawed, because the facts that they assume are simply untrue. Thus, for example, many agnostics take issue with Christianity's central assumption that man is fundamentally different from ordinary animals (namely, man has a soul, and the animals do not). If this were true, it would certainly be a hard argument for Christianity to combat, but simple observation will show that humans are really nothing like animals, and most of all in intellectual areas.

Likewise, many agnostics urge any number of historical arguments against the Church, citing the negative effects of the Church on the psyches of people living in its dominion. Once again, though, this argument is not really based on anything factual. The dominance of the Church in the Middle Ages, as bad that period was, was the only thing which kept civilization afloat and allowed it to eventually re-emerge later. Historically, when a civilization like Rome falls, nothing arises again out of it, but Europe provides a stark counterexample to that trend, and it is difficult to not believe that Christianity had some role in it.

Another stumbling block for agnostics is the Church's insistence on the existence of miracles. However, objections to the occurrence of miracles generally amount to little more than begging the question. Many miracles are known, for example, on the testimony of peasants, and their testimonies are discounted on one of two bases: either the peasant is untrustworthy because he is a peasant or his story is impossible because it involves miracles. The modern democratic man can hardly believe that a person is less honest simply because he is poor, but if the testimony is not believed simply because it asserts that a miracle occurs, then the skeptic is simply assuming materialism to be true and not allowing historical evidence to counteract it. After all, few people dismiss the same kind of testimony when it comes to natural events, such as famines or wars.

The final reason for accepting the authority of orthodoxy is that all men seek a living teacher, and the Church has proven itself to be one. When a person or institution consistently provides answers to questions one has, it earns one's respect and trust, and one clings to it as a teacher. The Church throughout the ages, has proven this. Unlike other religions, which rely merely upon Scripture for guidance—Scripture which was written once and for all thousands of years ago—the Church is unique in its ability to continually converse with the world and provide answers.

Finally, Christianity is unique in that it recognizes that the true state of mankind is one of happiness, and sorrow or grief are merely transitory, passing feelings. The ancient pagans were joyous about the little, trivial things of life, and were terrified by the big things: Their gods were arbitrary and despotic and, they thought, their lives were chaotic and merciless. The Christian, on the other hand, may grieve over passing and trivial things, but can joyously rest in confidence that God has a plan for him which will result in his true happiness.

This section contains 686 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
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Orthodoxy from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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