Monday, November 19, 2012

I Don't Care What They Say, It's Symbolic.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, sacraments are “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions."

That last bit, “with the required dispositions” effectively gives up the scam. Let me explain.

I personally received this cracker post-transubstantiation.
Still look crackery to you?
As someone who was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church, I’ve heard the pitch for sacraments from priests, deacons, and Joe-believers alike. They all go out of their way to explain that the sacraments are not symbolic, but literal.  Take the Eucharist, for example. During communion, little disks of bread literally turn into the body of Christ. It’s called transubstantiation. Strangely, the bread still looks, smells, and tastes identical to bread after Jesusification. Unlike other sacraments that affect the unseen (your soul or something,) the Eucharist should change if it is literally changing, correct? The Catholic retort ranges from “yeah, but still” to expecting me to believe a piece of bread is changed spiritually rather than materially. I was unaware yeast had a spirit, but who am I to argue--I’m obviously not “with the required disposition.”

The disposition required is complete and utter gullibility. This form of artificial skeptic-proofing is a hallmark of religion and pseudo-science worldwide. I wonder if a Catholic would accept a failed psychic’s criticism of their closed mind or “negative energy.” If unwavering faith in something had any affect outside our own mind, children and mental patients would be seen flying around on a regular basis. If faith in God is required, I would have seen the miracles I honestly believed would occur back when I was a mark believer.

Spare me the magic clauses that put your beliefs beyond honest inquiry. Either show me a wafer that suddenly contains DNA or just call your morbid pageantry what it is--symbolic.


  1. Good catch! I find it pretty funny that they don't realize how much of a "tell" this is to the skeptical eye. It's almost like they are being honest in their dishonesty!

  2. Transubstantiation was perhaps the second thing that turned me off as a young Catholic. I must have 12 or 13 when I first started asking questions about it. My parents told me to "just be quiet", which by that point in time, I realized what code for "we have no idea & you shouldn't be asking". Sadly, my parents still have no idea but cannibalize Jesus multiple times a week while praying that I will come back and join them among those "with no idea"...

  3. Great post Grundy,

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my roommate from grad school a few times. I was asking him about that cracker, and if it literally changed into the body of Christ, or if it was just symbolic. He said it literally changed, so I asked him if we could (theoretically) take the cracker after it changed and test it in the lab, he said no. I then asked if it just changed in such a way that we cannot measure, but some day in the future we might be able to test it if we get better technology, and again he said no. I said that he is describing a symbolic change, and nothing is literally changing, he then said it is somewhere between a literal and a symbolic change.

    I then told him that made no sense, and he somewhat agreed and said he didn't remember exactly what his priest had said years ago when he had learned about this, but he remembered that we can't test for it, but it is a literal change, it's not JUST symbolic. I told him he wasn't making any sense, which he actually agreed to, but just said that he wasn't remembering the details right.

    We came back to this conversation a few times, and it always got back to that point. He insisted that what he heard growing up made sense, but he must just be leaving out an important detail.

  4. This really takes me back to the first time I went to a Catholic mass. I remember asking my parents, "If they really think its his body, why do they want to eat it?" They didn't have any answers that sounded reasonable.