Fr. Matthew Zimmer

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Fr. Matthew Zimmer

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Fr. Matthew Zimmer



Assignment for Next Wednesday

Go to the Vatican website and open up the document

Fides et Ratio

Either Google

“fides et ratio” and follow the link or go to this web address:



Outline the entire document, print out your outline, and bring to class

next Wednesday

The outline should follow this model:

Introduction – know thyself (1-6)

Chapter 1 – The revelation of God’s Wisdom (7-15)

Jesus, revealer of the Father (7-12)


Read Chapter 4 (36-48)

Be ready for a quiz over this chapter if it seems like you didn’t read it


In Class Assignment

Split into groups

Put your names (first and

last initial

)on one sheet of paper

Using complete sentences, answer the following questions

Have I ever been challenged on some element of the faith? What was it?

Has there ever been a time when I couldn’t answer a question about the faith? What was it?

For each person, write one question about the Faith that you wish you knew the answer to next to your name.


Apologetics, What is it?

1. Pick a topic that you are passionate about and know a lot about.

2. Pick a partner: Convince your partner why it is important to be passionate about your topic.

3. 3 groups to volunteer to demonstrate their persuasive discussion.

4. What two elements are necessary to be an effective apologist?

5. In regards to conveying a message in a persuasive and effective way, what did you learn?


What is Apologetics

Although it might sound and look like it, apologetics is NOT apologizing in the sense of “being sorry for the faith”

We are not sorry for what we believe

The faith comes from God and therefore it is good

Comes from the Greek word


which means “speaking in defense”


= the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of



What is apologetics

Apologetics is a discipline

Word originally was used in a courtroom setting – prosecutor delivered the case against the defendant and the defendant offered the


As a discipline, there is a structure to good apologetics

This is not simply a matter of spouting off truths but rather putting forth a rational argument


What is apologetics

Apologetics is about defending a position

Strictly speaking, apologetics can be used for any position

3 Types of Apologetics:

A. Natural Apologetics:

Existence of God, God’s attributes:

B. Christian Apologetics:

How God’s presence is known.

C. Catholic Apologetics:

God’s intention to build the Church and empower the Church with His own grace and authority so that the jaws of hell shall not prevail against it.

We are going to try to focus on C.


What is apologetics

Apologetics is about using reason

We are given intellect/reason by God

We should be able to use our intellect to defend His teachings


Why Study Apologetics?

There are challenges to the Faith in our lives

Some will come from non-Christians

E.g. There is no God

Some will come from non-Catholic Christians

E.g. Marriage is not a Sacrament

Some will even come from Catholics who don’t always accept the teachings of the Church

E.g. Contraception is fine

It is important to be able to explain the Faith to those who ask

It is even more important to know that there is a reason why the Church teaches what she does


Why Study Apologetics?

Even the Bible tells us that we should be able to defend the faith

“Always be prepared to make a defense (




to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet 3:15)

Note the gentleness and respect – apologetics is not about beating down an opponent

“You are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense (


and confirmation of the Gospel.” (Phil 1:7)


Why Study Apologetics?

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense (


) of the Gospel.” (Phil 1:15-17)

“When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense




will be or about what you are to say.” (Luke 12:11)


History of Apologetics

The notion of defending the Faith comes about from the very beginning of Christianity

One of the most important examples is Paul debating with the Athenians in the


(Acts 17:16-34)

Unlike defending the Faith against the Jews in which Paul uses the Old Testament, here Paul uses philosophical language

Argues against the inconsistency of the Athenians in their beliefs

Result of his argument: some believed, some scoffed, some converted. These will happen to us as well.

There are countless other examples in the New Testament of various authors (especially Paul) defending the faith to others such as the Jews


History of Apologetics

The early Church Fathers also spent a lot of time with apologetics

By Church Fathers we mean the early Theologians of the Church who taught and wrote about the Faith in roughly the first 8 centuries of the Church

St. John Damascus is considered the last Church Father in the Roman Catholic Church

After the Apostolic age there was a great need for apologetics for two major reasons


Heresies (especially Gnosticism)


St. Justin Martyr

One of the most important of the early Apologists

Lived around 100-165 AD

Converted to Christianity from Platonism

Had studied Philosophy looking for truth

Major apologetic works

Dialogue with


the Jew

– used messianic prophecies from Hebrew Scriptures to prove that Jesus is the Messiah


– two works in which he appealed for the civil toleration of Christianity and argued that it was the true philosophy

Not particularly consistent but given his early writing that isn’t surprising


ST. Clement of Alexandria

Lived around 150-215 AD

Continued to use arguments from both philosophy (especially Plato and the Stoics) and Jewish writings



, an apologetic work that was much more sophisticated than the earlier attempts



Lived around 185-254 AD

Considered the most important of the 3


century apologists

Most important work was






Replied to the critiques of Christianity made by


Offered a historical defense of the Resurrection

Showed that the miracle stories of paganism are far less credible than those of the Gospels


St. Augustine

Lived 354-430

Bishop of Hippo

Converted from


(dualistic philosophy of good and evil gods) to Platonism and then to Christianity

Wrote many apologetic works

Highlighted the importance of faith and reason working together

“For understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou


understand” (





“For faith is understanding’s step; and understanding faith’s attainment”


St. Anselm

Lived 1033-1109

Bishop of


Focused on the priority of faith

“For I do not seek to understand in order to believe but I believe in order to understand” (





Comes up with the ontological proof for the existence of God

Starts with idea of “that than which nothing greater can be thought”

Infers the being (


) of God

Not the strongest argument, but evidence of attempts to “prove” the existence of God


St. Thomas Aquinas

Lived 1225-1274

Aristotle had been recently reintroduced into Europe by the Muslim philosophers

Aquinas created a Christian philosophy using the structure and logic of Aristotle

Seen primarily in his



Thoughts on Faith and Reason

Some truths about God are discoverable through reason or through faith

Some truths about God are discoverable only through faith

Even those truths discoverable through reason are commended to faith as reason is finite and faulty


Method of Apologetics



= the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of


This class will use the classical method of apologetics to look at various Church teachings

We’ve already followed that in some manner in looking at the history of apologetics

We will use

Scripture and Tradition

heavily in the various questions we look at

We will also use both

Faith and Reason

as we look at the various questions


Fides Et Ratio


= Faith

Ratio =


“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.”

Blessed John Paul II – introduction to

Fides et Ratio


Fides Et Ratio

While Blessed John Paul teaches the importance of both faith and reason, he continues to stress the primacy of faith in matters of Theology

“It should nonetheless be kept in mind that Revelation remains charged with mystery. It is true that Jesus, with his entire life, revealed the countenance of the Father, for he came to teach the secret things of God. But our vision of God is always fragmentary and impaired by the limits of our understanding. Faith alone makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently.”

(p. 13)


Fides Et Ratio




(“I believe that I may understand”)




(“I understand that I may believe”)

Both of these are important for Blessed John Paul

“There is thus no reason for competition of any kind between reason and faith: each contains the other, and each has its own scope for action.” (p. 17)

This is also not purely theoretical but practical

“No less important than research in the theoretical field is research in the practical field – by which I mean the search for truth which looks to the good which is to be performed.” (p. 25)


Fides Et Ratio

Paul in the


“Frequent allusions to popular beliefs deriving for the most part from Stoicism”


n ancient Greek philosophy from early 3


century BC

Saw philosophy as a way of life to remove destructive emotions

Since he was speaking to non-Jews, he realized that Christians needed to use language they could understand

Gentiles wouldn’t accept “Moses and the prophets”

They could accept natural knowledge and the voice of conscience

We might have to use language appropriate to our situation as well


Fides et Ratio – Philosophy

Christianity adopted philosophy early on

There was a danger to this

Philosophy is properly understood as practical wisdom and an education for life

Some of the “philosophies” of the time (and even now) were considered to be reserved for those who were “perfect” (e.g. Gnosticism)

Early Christian writers warn not to subordinate the truth of Revelation to the interpretation of philosophers


Fides et Ratio – Philosophy

The first task for Christians was to proclaim the Risen Christ

They still desired to deepen their understanding of the faith

“The encounter with the Gospel offered such a satisfying answer to the hitherto unresolved question of life’s meaning that delving into the philosophers seemed to them something remote and in some ways outmoded.” (p. 38)

This is, in part, why we have as much equality as we do in the world – Christianity was for all, not just the “perfect”


Fides et Ratio - Philosophy

Although wary of an incorrect use of philosophy, many of the early Christian writers began to use philosophy, especially Platonic, to make their arguments

This methodology of “Christianizing” philosophy would be used throughout most of the Church’s history

The study of philosophy was what led St. Augustine to Christianity and he worked to make the two work together

“In him too the great unity of knowledge, grounded in the thought of the Bible, was both confirmed and sustained by a depth of speculative thinking.” (p. 40)


Fides Et Ratio - Philosophy

Even though they used philosophy to make their arguments, early Christian writers didn’t blindly accept everything that the philosophical systems put forth

“What does Athens have in common with Jerusalem” – Tertullian


Fides et Ratio – Philosophy


is here that we see the originality of what the Fathers accomplished.

They fully welcomed reason which was open to the absolute, and they infused it with the richness drawn from Revelation.

This was more than a meeting of cultures, with one culture perhaps succumbing to the fascination of the other. It happened rather in the depths of human souls, and it was a meeting of creature and Creator. Surpassing the goal towards which it unwittingly tended by dint of its nature,

reason attained the supreme good and ultimate truth in the person of the Word made flesh

. Faced with the various philosophies, the Fathers were not afraid to acknowledge those elements in them that were consonant with Revelation and those that were not. Recognition of the points of convergence did not blind them to the points of divergence

.” (p. 41)


Fides et Ratio - Philosophy

The function of reason is NOT to pass judgment on the contents of faith

The function of reason is to find meaning, to discover explanations which might allow everyone to come to a certain understanding of the contents of faith

There is a fundamental harmony between the knowledge of faith and the knowledge of philosophy

“Faith asks that its object be understood with the help of reason; and at the summit of its searching reason acknowledges that it cannot do without what faith presents” (p. 42)


Fides et Ratio - PHilosophy

Thomas Aquinas is given a high place of honor in this entire process

“The Church has been justified in consistently proposing Saint Thomas as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology.” (p. 43)

Faith has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it

Faith builds upon and perfects reason

Aquinas sees two types of wisdom

Philosophical wisdom which is based upon the capacity of the intellect to explore reality

Theological wisdom which is based upon Revelation and which explores the contents of faith


Splitting Faith and Reason

Thomas held that although there is a link between philosophy and theology, there is also a need for a certain level of autonomy between them so they can perform well in their respective fields

Unfortunately, this legitimate distinction became a separation from the late Medieval period on

Due to the separation, there has been the tendency to completely remove either Faith or Reason from a person’s understanding of the world


Fides Et Ratio – Removing Faith

When Faith is removed, we enter into rationalism


= the idea that human reason is the sole source and final test of truth

Tendencies of rationalism

Philosophical speculations are taken as scientific facts

Science is falsely supposed to be in opposition to religion

Either completely rejects religion and revelation or pushes them off to the sidelines as something having no place in the public sphere

Some philosophies that fall under Rationalism are Atheism, Materialism, Pantheism, Nihilism, etc.

“Deprived of what Revelation offers, reason has taken side-tracks which expose it to the danger of losing sight of its final goal” (p.48)


Fides et Ratio – Removing Reason

When Reason is removed, we enter into Fideism


= the idea that unaided human reason is incapable of reaching any certitude and human knowledge consists entirely in an act of faith

Tendencies of Fideism

Distrust in human reason

Science and Religion are seen as complete opposites

Some philosophies that fall under Fideism are Agnosticism, Fundamentalism, etc.

“Deprived of reason, faith has stressed feeling and experience, and

so runs

the risk of no longer being a universal proposition…faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition.” (p. 48)


Fides Et Ratio


is why I make this strong and insistent appeal—not, I trust, untimely—that faith and philosophy recover the profound unity which allows them to stand in harmony with their nature without compromising their mutual autonomy. The


(speaking truth)


faith must be matched by the boldness of reason




Although it is important to be able to defend the faith using reason, it is also important that we use reason properly

One thing that is often done in arguments is using a fallacy to try to prove your point

This can be done on either side of the argument


= Deceptive arguments which seem to be valid and true but are not

It can be fairly difficult to recognize fallacies although our world is rife with them

Fallacies can be seen on television, in movies, in political debates, in religious debates, on YouTube, and practically anywhere somebody is talking

It should be noted that just because an argument has a fallacy that does not necessarily mean that the conclusion is false (although it might be). It merely means that the argument is not sufficient to prove the conclusion.


Examples of Fallacies from TV


Three general Types of Fallacies

Fallacies of Language

These fallacies involve using words in various ways to try to confuse your opponent or obfuscate (make unclear) what you are actually saying

Fallacies of Relevance

These fallacies are based around trying to turn the argument away from the actual issue into something that is easier to prove

Fallacies of Presumption

These fallacies are based around supposing the truth about some statement that may not be true


Fallacies of Language






Figures of speech



Using a word with the same spelling or sound that has different meanings


You shouldn’t take a course that teaches you how to


. You


too much already.

What is


is good, but to make mistakes is


Therefore it is good to make mistakes.

No U-turn. No, you turn.



Using a phrase in which the meaning is ambiguous (unclear)


You would be lucky to get him to work for you

Because he’s that great or because he never works?

I can assure that no person would be better for this job.

Is it that there is nobody else who is better qualified or that it would be better to hire nobody than to hire this person

If Croesus wages war against the Persians, he will destroy a mighty kingdom

Doesn’t say which kingdom will be destroyed – turned out to be his own!



Taking words or phrases as a whole which should be interpreted separately


Thieves and murderers won’t go to heaven, but I will get to heaven because I’m a thief and not a murderer

You like beef, potatoes, and green beans, so you will like this beef, potato, and green bean casserole

Do you like eggs, pizza, cake, fish, oranges, milk, and yogurt? Together?



Taking words or phrases as separate which should be interpreted as a whole


Bill lives in a large building so his apartment must be large

Men get paid more than women so the male janitor must get paid more than the female CEO

The ball is blue, therefore the atoms that make it up are blue



Using a word or phrase that can be interpreted differently by its emphasis


John is


a depraved murderer

That’s good


is not a



Hey, he may be a murderer but at least he’s not depraved

John is not a depraved


He may be depraved but at least he’s not a murderer

This is really only a problem in written argumentation


Figures of Speech

Wrongly inferring similarity of meaning from similarity of word structure


What is immaterial is not material

What is insoluble is not soluble

Therefore, what is inflammable is not flammable


Fallacies of Relevance

Red herring

Ad hominem









Suppressing the facts


Red Herring

Proving a conclusion other than the one that should be proved


There have been bad popes; therefore the pope is not infallible

Infallibility does not mean impeccability. To prove that the pope is not infallible would require finding a case where he taught something as infallible but it wasn’t.

That guy couldn’t have murdered his wife. He was always nice to me and helped his mom mow her lawn.


Ad Hominem

Attacking the person instead of the argument

This is a very common fallacy in politics and on the elementary school playground


Personal abuse

Attack on character, nationality, or religion

Mud slinging

Name calling

Charges of inconsistency



Ad populum

Appeal to popular prejudices

Basically, if most people agree that something is correct then it must be correct


Most people believe the world is flat. Therefore it must be flat.

Most people in the 1960’s thought that blacks and whites should be segregated. Therefore it was good that they were segregated.


Ad Misericordiam

Appeal to pity rather than deal with the issue at hand


You should hire me because my grandmother is dying.

I should receive an A in this class because if I don’t I won’t get a scholarship.


Ad verecundiam

Appeal to misplaced authority

This happens when somebody who is well known or experienced in a particular area makes a claim about an area in which they are not experienced. Because they are well known, people assume they are an expert.

Be careful of biased opinions in this one, even from somebody who truly is an expert

For example, Bob is an expert on stocks. He recommends you buy


stock. What he isn’t telling you is that he is currently trying to sell all of his


stock and needs somebody to buy them.


Ad baculum

Appeal to force or fear


You know, Professor, I really need to get an A in this class. I’d like to stop in later to talk about that. I’ll be in the building anyway to see my father. You know, the guy who is your boss.


Suppressing the facts

Ignoring any facts that are contrary to what you are trying to prove


Many movie posters include the good reviews. What about the negative reviews?

A friend tells you to wager money on a certain college football team X because they have won all 10 of their games up to this point. Further investigation shows that they have played only lower ranked FCS teams, barely beat them, and are playing Alabama in their next game.

St. Thomas Aquinas says “It seems that God does not exist.”

This comes from the Summa but is in a part where he lays out the argument against the existence of God.


Fallacies of Presumption


Confusion of Absolutes

Begging the question

False cause

Non sequitur

False assumption

Illicit generalization



Argument from silence



Affirming or denying a thing wrongly according to accidental characteristics


You say that you ate the food that you brought. However, you brought raw meat. Therefore, you must have eaten raw meat.

Whether or not it is cooked, it is still the meat you brought

Alcoholic drinks lead to drunkenness and should therefore be forbidden

Good food leads to overeating and should therefore be forbidden


Confusion of absolutes

Interpreting an absolute statement as qualified, or vice versa.


Germans are good musicians; therefore, a particular German is a good musician

True for German’s as a whole, but not necessarily true for individual Germans


Begging the Question

Assuming the truth of the conclusion in the premises

This is also known as circular reasoning


If such examples were not illegal, then they would not be prohibited by the law.

Why are they prohibited by the law? Because they are illegal.

An employer needs a reference from Bob. Bob says Jill can give one. Employer asks how he can trust Jill. Bob says he can vouch for Jill.

Have you stopped beating your wife yet?


False Cause

Assuming cause-effect relationship to before-after effects

Confusing causation and correlation

A and B regularly occur together. Therefore A is the cause of B.


There have been many examples of people playing violent video games and then becoming violent in real life. Therefore, anybody who plays violent video games will become violent in real life.

There have been wars fought over religion. Therefore, all religious people want to start wars.


Non Sequitur

The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises


Cows give milk; But sheep have wool; Therefore, goats chew cud

Men are human; Mary is human; Therefore, Mary is a man


False Assumption

Using an implied premise that is false


All men are smart. John is a man. Therefore John is smart


Illicit Generalization

Making universal statements on insufficient evidence


Tom is driving through Lincoln for the first time. He sees 10 people, all of them are children.

Therefore, Tom says that only children live in Lincoln.


Ad Ignorantiam

Assumption that what cannot be proven is false or that what cannot be refuted is true


You cannot prove that God exists. Therefore God does not exist.

You cannot prove that aliens don’t exist. Therefore, aliens must exist.


Argument from Silence

Assuming falsity from silence

Your opponent doesn’t answer your questions so you assume that you are right and he is wrong


John: Do you know your password?

Bob: Of course I do.

John: What is it?

Bob: I’m not telling you.

John: Obviously you don’t know your password.

We fall into this frequently in criminal trials. When a defendant pleads the fifth, what do we assume?


Refuting a Fallacy

Identify the fallacy

Giving the name shows knowledge of the error

Give a similar, preposterous example of this fallacy

Avoid illicit analogy

Many of the examples I gave were ridiculous

Take the fallacy to a further, condemning conclusion

Show it leads to a

non sequitur

Offer an opposing argument that is sound



Love is a Fallacy

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