Catholics/Facts

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QUESTION: Are facts established by critical examination and understanding?

ANSWER: Can you provide more information and more context?

"Facts" are established in different ways depending on what kind of "fact" they are.  Scientific "facts" are established through the use of the Scientific Method.

Philosophical facts are established through metaphysical inquiry.  In other words Science examines HOW things work, Philosophy examines reality itself along with the presuppositions surrounding how one goes about Scientific testing, etc.  Metaphysical reasoning tries to understand what the NATURE of reality is, while Science tries to understand HOW things interact and what they are made of.

Theological facts are established through reflecting on the Deposit of Faith and using the Sources of Revelation: Scripture and Tradition.  The role of the theologian is to show how what the Church teaches is contained in the sources of revelation and to explain and defend Church teaching.  Something is an established fact if it 1) is explicitly continued in the sources of revelation, 2) if it is implicitly contained in the sources of revelation, or 3) if it is part of the constant teaching of the Church, and 4) if it has been solemnly defined either by pope or council.  

What kind of "facts" are you talking about and what do you mean by "critical examination and understanding?"  

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QUESTION: I think "facts must have demonstrable proof" was the rest of the answer I was searching for. Facts must be objectively verified and be objectively real.

ANSWER: "Facts must have demonstrable proof" is a self refuting statement because the statement is not proven and cannot be proven.  How can you prove what is objectively real?  How can you prove that something has been objectively verified?

In order for your statement to be intelligible certain things have to be assumed:

1) That there is an objective world outside of our mind

2) That we can know this objective world

3) That the objective world follows rational laws that can be uncovered through experimentation.  

4) That these rational laws apply everywhere in the universe and not just where we happen to find
ourselves.

How do you know that the earth is round and is third planet from the sun?  Have you seen this for yourself?  Have you been to space?  Have you done the experiments?  Do you even know how to do the experiments?

Answer: No.  You believe the earth is round because that is what your teacher taught you.  Your teacher believes the earth is round because that is what the teacher was taught.  Your teacher has not done the experiments either but trusts the credentials of those who did.  Have you personally verified the results of the people who did the experiments to prove the earth is round?

Facts must have demonstrable proof therefore is self refuting.  

My point is not that we cannot know anything, nor that we have reason to distrust Science.  My point is that it takes a certain amount of Faith in order to go about Scientific Inquiry.  Despite what people think modern Science is not exempt from Faith.  

In answer to your question: I believe that those who claim to have knowledge about reality--whether philosophical, theological or scientific must present sound, reasoned and intelligible arguments for their claim. If they are able to do this that makes their claim plausible and worthy of belief unless or until further claims build upon it or undermine it.

For example: prior to Copernicus there was good reason for believing that the earth was at the center of the universe.  In the absence of contrary evidence people believed this.  Further study and experimentation showed this belief to be mistaken, and now we have good reason to believe that the earth is third from the sun with the sun at the center.  In the absence of contrary experimentation of knowledge claims we should believe the earth is third from the sun.

Knowledge claims therefore demand evidence----but-----evidence need not be strictly limited to scientific experimentation and verification.  God cannot be scientifically proven, but that does not entail there is no good reason for believing in God or that one cannot show from reason that God's existence is not only plausible but likely.

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QUESTION: I find myself more interested in why the earth, planets, the sun and bubbles are round than the fact that the earth casts a round shadow on the moon. Religious faith is based on "Blessed is he who has not seen and yet believes", science is not. Religion and science have nothing to do with each other. They are separate realms. Science produces hardware. Science avoids metaphysical answers that can not be tested. For humanity there is no refuge from the fascinating mysteries of nature. I am sorry I used the words "demonstrable proof" and did not add the word  evidence. I was mistaken. I shall correct my definition. I think the slow collecting of evidence and history of error have proved there is an objective world outside the mind and we can know this objective world. Thanks

Answer
It is true that religious Faith is based on "Blessed is he who has not seen but believes" but this does not entail that religious faith is not reasonable or that Faith is blind.  That does not entail that there is no evidence supporting religious Faith either.  

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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