What Are We Distracted From? This is the great question of our age, because we know we are being distracted. We can break down that question into six parts, six First Questions.
The last post explained the very First Question, and its Answers, on Reality. Today: Purpose.
This initial set of three First Questions comes from the philosopher Walter Watson's book The Architectonics of Meaning (1985)1. Watson uses “archic analysis” to pinpoint these almost mutually exclusive definitions of today’s religions and ways-of-life, in philosophy and literature, and even art and science. Using Four Questions and Four Answers within each, his analysis results in 256 distinct combinations. Here we start to isolate today’s religions and draw their dividing lines.
Question 2: Purpose (Principle, Cause): – What one function impels the universe, God, and/or humans within Reality to the most good and beautiful?
Purpose describes what the religion exists for, which drives or motivates the universe and everything in it, including humans. It marks what goals and motivators we are distracted from.
As Watson writes, “An end of purpose or function is present in the text so far as the text has within it something that causes it to function, a principle of its functioning.”
Creative – The driver is the act of creating, or being a creator, out of nothing.
- The supposition that God made things, which means they are good, falls within this Answer.
- Watson: “This power that we ourselves have of causing or functioning is what is usually meant by free will… We may suppose similar principles to exist in other things. God, for example.”
Elemental – The driver of things is change itself; the mode of people and the universe is to change, with no other reason or cause. “An uncaused cause.”
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1995)2 (#285) states that with these religions, “the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him.”
Comprehensive – The driver is the functioning of people and things because they are part of a larger whole.
- This is Pantheism. According to the Catechism (#285), Pantheism is when the development of the world is the development of God.
- The supposition that a god made things because they are good falls in this Answer, since it implies something of greater significance that the god exists.
Watson’s fourth Variable is called “Reflexive,” which is the idea that the functioning itself causes more functioning, and is not caused by anything else. Watson writes that for Reflexive principles, “the functioning of any principle can always be treated as an end for which the principle is required, and the principle as actualizing itself in the functioning.” For our purposes, we can now eliminate this Variable as providing a primary driver. However, Christianity often merges the Creative and the Reflexive, for example, in incorporating Augustine and Aquinas, respectively. This, and Aquinas, will come into play in a subsequent Question, when we discuss the fact that God is primarily Creative, but has that Purpose is driven by a pre-ordained Design.
In summary, this second of three First Questions provide three Answers each, which Watson assigns to each major way of life and religion today.
Modernism (including Hedonism, Existentialism, modern Sociology (e.g., Max Weber), etc.)
- Modernism focuses on our drive and requirement to create our own impression of the world. For example, the influential Weber, emphasizes the creation of authority through charisma.
- Another modern example is Darwin, who theorized that species originate by self-variation.
- Existentialism is defined primarily by its creative principle, in its definition of humans as “condemned at every moment to invent man.”
- In The Great Heresies (1938)3, Hilaire Belloc writes that Modernism’s creative spirit is deceptive and conflicting. “[Modernism] is not troubled by apparent contradictions within its own body so long as the general alliance is one for the ending of all that by which we have hitherto lived. The modern attack [on Christianity] is materialist because in its philosophy it considers only material causes. It is superstitious only as a by-product of this state of mind.”
- Marx also falls under the Creative Answer, since the creator is man himself as a worker and participant in the economy.
- Deism supplies an impersonal God as the creator of the primary reality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church2 describes the Deity as a watchmaker who leaves humans be.
Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Gnosticism
- God is the Creator of the universe, from nothing. He created heaven, earth, and mankind. Watson writes, “To be created in the image of God means in this context to be also a creator, with the freedom to obey or disobey the commands of the creator.”
- Humans, created in God’s image, are tasked with the free will to create our own destinies in life, to be holy or sinful.
- Watson cites Augustine: “He argues that what is superior or equal to man [Noumenal reality] will not compel him to sin, and what is inferior to him cannot, and consequently he sins only by his own will.”
- (Some Protestants, such as many Calvinists, reason that humans have no free will, but that can be considered to be caused by a different Answer to the fifth Question… so more later.)
- The basic components of the universe, such as energy, atoms, quarks, protons, neutrons, etc., appear to change, but in actuality, and seen from its Objective perspective, they never do.
- In Buddhism, the motivator of its string of moments [Existential reality] in the universe is a continual change originating from no particular entity.
- Lao Tzu’s an inherent layer of reality underneath [Substrative reality] the illusion of perception is a hidden reality that appears, changes, returns to its origin, and cycles back again.
- Watson quotes from the Tao-te ching: “All things come into being, and I see thereby their return.”
- In Hinduism, the driving energy of the universe is a principle that all things change, cycle, and return to where they came from, as in the doctrine of reincarnation. ”Like the rivers from and to the sea.”
- Gnosticism takes many forms in its drive to overwhelm the Catholic Church. In one of its forms, an elemental Purpose drives things to evolve without the intervention of God. Similar to Hinduism, total acceptance of fate is a common implication here.
- For Confucians, individual people are driven to function within the whole of their Pantheistic heaven. Mankind’s goal is to be in harmony with heaven.
Thus, the Creative unequivocal Answer about Purpose helps define the Abrahamic / Judeo-Christianity religions, and distinguishes them from other religions.
This Answer eliminates most of the Eastern religions and the Modernist way of life, but does not differentiate Catholicism from other Western religions. The differences between Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, and Gnosticism require Answers to more Questions, to be covered in the next four posts.
In fact, Question 3 will continue to help elevate the Abrahamic religions above the other ways-of-life, especially Modernism.
To synopsize the Christian Answers to the three Questions, the Holy Spirit revealed these Answers to St. John the Evangelist, which he wrote in the first paragraphs of his Gospel. Its distinguishing Truth inspired nearly all priests to recite this at the end of billions of Masses from the 1100s until the 1960s. (Special thanks to the Anne Barnhardt podcast team, Episode 165 https://s194.podbean.com/pb/89b8428bb9b963337e5df1d7970ef786/62c8dd22/data3/fs94/1742339/uploads/Barnhardt-Podcast-165-2022-01-27.mp3?pbss=a2122c72-6980-5371-803e-5a8860fc0d0b (29:45 – 39:30), for bringing this holy passage to the forefront to make this point.) Here are the passages that crystalize the Creative Purpose.
 All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
 But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name.  Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
To further reveal our Creative Purpose, Scripture and Tradition guide us, as follows:
The Holy Bible 4
 And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness: and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.  And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them.
 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.  For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him.  And he is before all, and by him all things consist.
The Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566) 5
The Creed, Article I: "Creator"
For God formed the world not from materials of any sort, but created it from nothing, and that not by constraint or necessity, but spontaneously, and of His own free will. Nor was He impelled to create by any other cause than a desire to communicate His goodness to creatures. Being essentially happy in Himself He stands not in need of anything, as David expresses it: I have said to the Lord, thou art my God, for thou hast no need of my goods.
As it was His own goodness that influenced Him when He did all things whatsoever He would, so in the work of creation He followed no external form or model; but contemplating, and as it were imitating, the universal model contained in the divine intelligence, the supreme Architect, with infinite wisdom and power-attributes peculiar to the Divinity -- created all things in the beginning. He spoke and they were made: he commanded and they were created.
The Creed, Article I: God Preserves, Rules and Moves All Created Things
Not only does God protect and govern all things by His Providence, but He also by an internal power impels to motion and action whatever moves and acts, and this in such a manner that, although He excludes not, He yet precedes the agency of secondary causes. For His invisible influence extends to all things, and, as the Wise Man says, reaches from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly. This is the reason why the Apostle, announcing to the Athenians the God whom, not knowing, they adored, said: He is not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and are.
The Creed, Article I: Creation Is the Work of The Three Persons
Let so much suffice for the explanation of the first Article of the Creed. It may not be superfluous, however, to add that creation is the common work of the Three Persons of the Holy and undivided Trinity, -- of the Father, whom according to the doctrine of the Apostles we here declare to be Creator of heaven and earth; of the Son, of whom the Scripture says, all things were made by him; and of the Holy Ghost, of whom it is written: The spirit of God moved over the waters, and again, By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1995) 2
285 Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by responses to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient religions and cultures produced many myths concerning origins…
- Some philosophers have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or that the development of the world is the development of God (Pantheism). [Comprehensive]
- Others have said that the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him. [Elemental]
1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him. “Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.” (St. Irenaeus)
St. Thomas Aquinas 6
In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God. (Summa Theologica I, q.2, a.3)
1. Walter Watson, The Architectonics of Meaning, 1985, University of Chicago Press
2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995, Doubleday
3. Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies, 1938, Cavalier Books.
4. The Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims Version, 2009, Saint Benedict Press [Original published 1582-1609]
5. The Catechism of the Council of Trent, (J.A McHugh, O.P., and C.J. Callan, Trans.), 1923, Middletown, DE [Original 1566]
6. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica I, (Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Trans.), [Online] Available from: http://www.documenta-catholica.eu/d_1225-1274-%20Thomas%20Aquinas%20-%20Summa%20Theologiae%20-%20Prima%20Pars%20-%20EN.pdf [Original 1265-1274]