Finally, to sum it all up--Catholics value educated Priests and Bishops, claiming that some backwoods hick from Arkansas cant simply get slain in "the spirit" and become a preacher of any authority. The counter-argument to that is that one can not learn the principles of God through any secular education...one only learns to be critical of organized religion and to imagine that God is a definable concept rather than a living reality.
Of course, a counter-observation is that whereas the Spirit has revealed the Truth to so many (dare we say "countless"?) individuals, all of whom ended up with vastly different versions of that "Truth". What good is a Holy Spirit who cannot keep its story straight?
As Thomas Paine observed in the first part of his Age of Reason:
quote:Every national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet, as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.
Each of those churches show certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say, that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say, that their word of God came by divine inspiration: and the Turks say, that their word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from Heaven. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
As it is necessary to affix right ideas to words, I will, before I proceed further into the subject, offer some other observations on the word revelation. Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man.
No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.
It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication- after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.
I maintain that Paine was much to optimistic about that first stage of any revelation. The first thing that that person receiving that revelation would do would be to try to understand it. It is at that point that the revelation first becomes hearsay, having been irreparably corrupted from the very start.
Back in the 90's an evangelical Christian and post-graduate student in physical geology was very active on-line running a discussion board on science and religion -- he was strongly opposed to and critical of YEC. Most of that fell by the wayside when he received his PhD and his life priorities changed (eg, career, raising his family), but there was much wisdom in his web pages so I reposted some of them on my old web site with his permission. Recently I contacted him again for permission to repost them on my present site and this time he declined. Honoring that, I will not reveal his name here and will also not provide the title of the page I got this quote from (emphasis added):
quote:I've read many of the materials written by young-earth creationists such as Steve Austin, Thomas Barnes, Carl Baugh, Duane Gish, Ken Ham, Henry Morris, John Morris, Gary Parker, and Harold Slusher among others. I'm also very familiar with the material put out by Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research and the Creation Research Society. In addition, I've even attended lectures and seminars by several well-known young-earth creationists.
In general, I've been dismayed by the lack of scholarship, research, and ethics displayed by these men who claim to be devout Christians. They totally misrepresent mainstream science and scientists, ignore evidence contrary to their claims, and display an amazing ignorance of even the most basic fundamentals of science and scientific inquiry. Their materials are aimed toward laypeople who are in no position to evaluate their claims. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but who is better qualified to judge the accuracy of K-Ar dating, an evangelist who reads creationist literature and has never taken a physics or geology course in his life or a Ph.D. in isotope geochemistry (who may also be a devout Christian) who has spent 25 years studying K-Ar dating in granites?
You set up a comparison between "educated Priests and Bishops" and "some backwoods hick from Arkansas" (be careful to call him a "hillbilly" instead of a "red neck" in order to avoid a shotgun blast in the face -- see Ozark on Netflix). Certainly there is value to having teachers who have actually studied the topic over somebody all hopped up on stuff that is virtually guaranteed to be wrong (again, refer to the Holy Spirit's proven track record of giving notoriously bad gouge).
There's also the practical organizational considerations. If you allow your lay members to try to interpret Scripture for themselves, then your church will end up tearing itself apart, splintering into many different mutually antagonistic churches based on disagreement over interpretation. Therefore, you make your priests the authorities in matters of interpretation and you act against the heresy of having a different interpretation.
Of course, the far more practical reason for those practices was the rarity of books, placing them and the ability to read out of the reason of the laity. That situation changed with the Gutenberg press, which coincided with Martin Luther and the beginning of the Protestant Reformation -- indeed, Luther's local protest went Continent-wide when someone printed off copies of his "99 Theses" and distributed them.
With the Gutenberg Bible, anyone could read the Bible for himself and interpret it for himself. That resulted in precisely what the Catholic Church was trying to prevent: the splintering of churches over picky little disagreements. Ed Babinski's cartoon from 1986 illustrates that rather well:
So, knowledge versus ignorance. We've already learned that ignorance does not work, yet that we continue to see too many people choosing ignorance.
And just to nip in the bud that tired old lie that Thomas Paine was an atheist, he wrote in Age of Reason:
quote:I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.
I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.
... [massive ellipsis] ...
As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism- a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is as near to Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious, eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
The effect of this obscurity has been that of turning everything upside down, and representing it in reverse, and among the revolutions it has thus magically produced, it has made a revolution in theology.
That which is now called natural philosophy, embracing the whole circle of science, of which astronomy occupies the chief place, is the study of the works of God, and of the power and wisdom of God in his works, and is the true theology.
As to the theology that is now studied in its place, it is the study of human opinions and of human fancies concerning God. It is not the study of God himself in the works that he has made, but in the works or writings that man has made; and it is not among the least of the mischiefs that the Christian system has done to the world, that it has abandoned the original and beautiful system of theology, like a beautiful innocent, to distress and reproach, to make room for the hag of superstition.