Catholic Science
 
A Catholic Science commentary by the Reverend

Seeing as Halloween is upon us and many of my peers are excited to get into costume and join in frightful festivities, I found it most appropriate to delve into one of the toughest and blackest ages in American and European history: the Burning Era, during which witch hunts were carried out all the time and accused witches and warlocks were forced to confess to evil witchcraft and other dark arts, and then often burned at the stake

.  There are two reasons why this information is significant to you: 1)  Yes, I really did write “which witch” and you KNOW that it is fun to say out loud over and over, and 2)  This era of witch hunts, interrogation, and injustice really laid out the blueprints for the KGB to use in their quest against the endless onslaught of counterrevolutionaries.

Reading the text was tricky as all hell because it was written in the year 1591 and, not only was the language an archaic form of English, but the spellings of words were also radically different from the way they are now.  I’ll illustrate this by displaying the opening statement in its original form and then I’ll translate it to English (more difficult even than translating what Boomhauer is saying on King of the Hill into what the rest of the world is speaking).

DAEMONOLOGIE, in form of ane Dialogue.  First Booke.

[Demonology, in form of a dialogue.  First book.]

Prouen by the Scriptures, that these vnlawfull artes in genere, have bene and may be put in practice.

[Proven by the Scriptures, that these unlawful arts in kind, have been and may be put into practice.]

I AM surely verie glad to haue mette with you this daye, for I am of opinion, that ye can better resolue me of some thing, wherof I stand in great doubt, nor anie other whom-with I could haue mette.

[I am surely very glad to have met with you this day, for I am of the opinion that you can better resolve me of something whereof I stand in great doubt, nor any other [person] whom with I could have met.]

As you can see, the three groups of people likeliest to become aroused by King James’ diction in this book are: followers of the King James Bible only movement (who probably still believe there are witches everywhere and they aren’t the cute J.K. Rowling kind; people who love to read Shakespeare and rely on his tales to inspire them and are now looking for something to scare the shit out of themselves with (in a way that surpasses my sister the Catholic Scientist and zombiephobe putting on zombie makeup); and last but not least, pain in the ass atheists on an endless crusade to discredit religion.  (I think they’re just mad ‘because they would have been at the top of the witch hunt target list.  Oh well, that’s what they get for being spiritual anarchists).

The first section of the book begins with a dialogue between two characters, Philomathes and Epistemon, in which Philomathes is a skeptic in regard to witchcraft and Epistemon uses logic and the Bible to “prove” the existence of the occult art.  Epistemon’s first Scriptural reference is the episode of Saul and the Witch of Endor, who was a medium (1 Samuel 28).

Alwaies for that part, that witchcraft, and Witches haue bene, and are, the former part is clearelie proved by the Scriptures, and the last by dailie experience and confessions.

[Always for that part, that witchcraft, and witches have been, and are, the former part is clearly proved by the Scriptures, and the last by daily experiences and confessions.]

Philomathes seems to already know the first argument that Epistemon is about to make, and he states that the story of Saul and the Witch of Endor won’t help the argument.  He makes a valid argument parallel to what most skeptics use today in regard to debunking myths of paranormal phenomenon, also the same argument that many nonbelievers use to reinterpret Scripture in a more worldly and scientific way.

…Yee may consider, that Saul being troubled in spirit, and having fasted long before… and being come to a woman that was bruted to have such knowledge… he having so guiltie a conscience for his hainous offences, and specially, for that same vnlawful curiositie, and horrible defection… was no wounder I say, that his senses being thus distracted, he could not perceaue hir faining of hir voice, hee being himselfe in an other chalmer…

 […You may consider, that Saul, being troubled in spirit, and having fasted long before… and being come to a woman that was bruted to have such knowledge… he having so guilty a conscience for his heinous offenses, and especially, for that same unlawful curiosity, and horrible defection… was no wonder I say, that his senses being thus distracted, he could not perceive her feigning of her voice, he being himself in another state of mind…]

This basically says that Saul was in terrible shape and nearly out of his mind, that the Witch was not a medium, just a great actress, and the ghost of Samuel was probably just a figment of his imagination.  He continues to state that if there was paranormal activity occurring, that it was the Devil appearing as Samuel, which isn’t possible because God would never allow Satan to appear in the form of one of the Saints.  Is this a valid argument?  Yes.  Does that make it true?  No.  Philomathes uses logic excellently, but Epistemon makes a counterargument that is both theologically correct and grounded in good logic.

 For it is saide in the text, that Saule knew him to be Samuel, which coulde not haue bene, by the hearing tell onely of an olde man with an mantil… the Diuel is permitted at som-times to put himself in the liknes of the Saintes, it is plaine in the Scriptures, where it is said, that Sathan can trans-forme himselfe into an Angell of light… Neither could that bring any inconvenient with the visiones of the Prophets, since… God will not permit him so to deceiue his own: but only such, as first wilfully deceiues them-selves, by running vnto him, whome God then suffers to fall in their owne snares…

[For it is said in the text, that Saul knew him to be Samuel, which could not have been, by the hearing tell only of an old man with a mantil… the Devil is permitted at some times to put himself in the likeness of the Saints, it is plain by the Criptures, where it is said, that Satan can transform himself into an Angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)… Neither could that bring any(thing) inconvenient with the visions of the Prophets, since… Gos will not permit him so to deceive His own: but only such, as first willfully deceive themselves, by running unto him, whom God then suffers to fall in their own snairs…]

Old Testament Scriptures (excluding the book of Genesis) are highly reliable, due to events and people described in Scripture being supported by a substantial amount of archeological findings and preserved secular documents.  Due to that reliability, it is safe and logical to accept at face value that “Saul knew him to be Samuel,” and thus the Witch really was a medium to contacted the spirit of Samuel.  This is believable because mediums are a gifted group of people who, though they may not be accepted by most of the scientific community, are accepted by the mainstream and whose talents are often used in murder investigations.

 Epistemon’s initially correct interpretation of Scripture soon goes awry as he uses valid but untrue arguments to “prove” the existence of witchcraft, and explains in detail what sins “witches” are guilty of and exactly how they’re heretics.  In Chapter VII, he uses the life of Moses to condemn witchcraft.

 …It behooued to be… full of fallacies (to speake in termes of Logicque)… affirming Moyses to be taught in all the sciences of the AEgyptians, should conclude that he was taught in Magie, I see no necessity. For we must vnderstand that the spirit of God there, speaking of sciences, vnderstandes them that are lawfull; for except they be lawfull, they are but abusiuè… Secondlie, giuing that he had bene taught in it, there is great difference, betwixt knowledge and practising of a thing…

 […It behooved to be… full of fallacies (to speak in terms of Logic)… affirming Moses to be taught in all the sciences of the Egyptians, should conclude that he was taught in Magic, I see no necessity.  For we must understand that the spirit of God there, speaking of sciences, understands them that are lawful; for except that they be lawful, they are but abusive (or abuses)… Secondly, giving that he had been taught in it, there is a great difference, between knowledge (of a thing) and practicing of a thing…]

 Sorry folks, I have no intention of sounding ignorant, but I simply do not believe in magic.  I DO believe in miracles, and I do believe in supernatural phenomenon, and that human beings occasionally are able to tap into alternative sources of energy that are uncommon to this world.  I also believe that, through divine assistance or through a lifetime of learning, that human beings can acquire a small piece of supernatural powers that they were not born with.  Despite all that, I do not believe in the things described in Harry Potter to resemble even a fraction of truth, nor do I believe that all those teenage girls in Salem were guilty of witchcraft or Satanic rituals.

 PHI. What punishment then thinke ye merites these Magicians and Necromancers?

 Phi.  What punishment then think you merits these Magicians and Necromancers?

 EPI. The like no doubt, that Sorcerers and Witches merites; and rather so much greater, as their error proceedes of the greater knowledge, and so drawes nerer to the sin against the holy Ghost.

 [Epi.  The like no doubt, that Sorcerers and Witches merits; and rather so much greater, as their error proceeds of the greater knowledge, and so draws nearer to the sin against the Holy Ghost.]

 Unfortunately, Christianity in Europe was nowhere near the Christianity that was practiced by the early church and is practiced by most Christians today.  It says in the Book of Romans (chapter 12) that all men are to be loved and treated well.  Jesus always preached a message of nonviolence, despite the heavy persecution that the early church faced during his days and in the centuries after.  It is unfortunate that Christians of this era picked and chose when they wanted to implement the message of peace and tolerance, that they exchanged the “city on the hill” for “convert or be killed.”

 This is not what we’re about.

 In the spirit of All Hallows Eve, may the spirits contact you tonight! Happy Halloween!

 --The Reverend
 


Comments

11/10/2010 2:27:54 am

No man is wise at all times

 



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