Catholic official says that angels exist but are wingless

December 21, 2013 • 10:33 am

“HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?”

That’s the question you should always ask believers when they make an unsupported assertions, ranging from “God is loving” to “Our souls live on after death.” The answer will always be one of two things: “The Bible says so,” or “I just know it to be true.” Neither of those are rational answers, but they satisfy the religious.

It is in fact the “how-do-you-know-that” query that really distinguishes New Atheism from Old. While atheists have always decried the lack of evidence for theism, it is the infusion of scientists and science-friendly people into atheism, starting with Carl Sagan and continuing on to Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Pinker, and Dennett, that has made us realize that religious dogmas are in fact hypotheses, and you need reasons and evidence for accepting them. If you have none, then you have no reason to believe in God.

Nevertheless, religious dogma does change, but not because theology has found better reasons. It’s because a.) science has shown the dogma to be false (Genesis, Adam and Eve, creation, the Exodus, etc.) or b.) secular morality has shown that the tenets of religious belief are no longer supportable (hell as a place of fire, limbo, discrimination against gays, the Mormons’ refusal to let black be priests, etc.)

But I fulminate.  The best “how do you know that” moment of the month is one I learned from a Sky News article: “Angels exist but have no wings, says Church.” In it, we learn that a prescient priest has decided that angels, like worker ants, are wingless:

Angels really do exist but do not have wings and are more like shards of light, according to a church official.

Catholic Church “angelologist” Father Renzo Lavatori [JAC: great name!] says the celestial beings are back in vogue thanks to various New Age religions.

But he insists that the traditional portrayal of angels as hovering, winged cherubs rather misses the mark.

“I think there is a re-discovery of angels in Christianity,” Father Lavatori said at a conference on angels at a lavishly-frescoed Renaissance palace in Rome.

The angels conference is being hosted by Rome’s Palazzo della Cancelleria”You do not see angels so much as feel their presence – they are a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase,” he added.

The senior clergyman was taking part in a debate this week on angelic art by the Fondazione Archivio Storico, an Italian art foundation.

HOW DOES HE KNOW THAT? Here’s the results of a search for “angel” in the King James Bible (there are 10 pages of references). While they don’t appear to be explicitly wingéd, they are definitely anthropomorphic, wear clothes, and have bodies, e.g.:

Revelation 10:10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.

Shards of light don’t have hands. The Bible tells us clearly that angels look like people and can ascend and descend, whether with wings or under some other power.

And clearly cherubim, which are for all purposes angels, have wings—big ones!

Exodus 25:20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.

1 Kings 6:27 And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house.

2 Chronicles 3:11 And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub.

Also, seraphim, which are classed as angels in the Holy Taxonomy of Divine Beings, are also wingéd:

ser·aph  (srf)

n.pl.ser·a·phim (--fm) or ser·aphs

1. A celestial being having three pairs of wings.
2. seraphim Christianity The first of the nine orders of angels in medieval angelology. [JAC: If you want to learn about the LOLzy study of “angelology,” second in theological nonsense only to baraminology (the attempt to discern which “kinds” or organisms God created), go here or here.
If seraphim are angels, then, and have wings, as the quote below shows, then father Lavatori is simply wrong. Or “wings” may simply be a Biblical metaphor for “shards of light”:
Isaiah 6:2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
So where did Father Lavatori get the idea that angels were shards of light? I’d love to ask him that question, for the words “shard” or “shards” do not appear in scripture.
Sky News  gives more information, revealing that while Father Lavatory knows that angels aren’t anthromorphic, he also knows that the devil is real (though he doesn’t say whether Beelzebub has horns, hooves, and a tail):

Father Lavatori said the popularised image of angels is a necessary result of their being “back in fashion” but is dismissive of all the angel art around Christmas.

“There is space for that, but you have to understand that these are not real representations. Angels do not have wings or look like cherubs,” he said.

The widely-published Catholic clergyman is also a “demonologist” and says angels are more needed than ever.

This is because increasing secularisation and materialism in society have left an “open door” for the devil, he said.

“There is a lot more interference from diabolical forces. That is why you see queues of people outside the exorcists’ offices in churches,” he said.

“Pope Francis talks more about the devil than about angels and I think rightly so. But it’s still early, he will get round to the angels too.”

The Independent notes that Lavatori “has risked the wrath of the world’s Christians” by making such a presumptuous claim. That means that Christians want their angels to have wings. Can that faith get more ridiculous than this?

BUT—we do know from the LOLcat Bible that cat angels have wings:

ohhaimarybig

EM-ELLIS-XMAS
No nomming in Heaven!

h/t: Barry

150 thoughts on “Catholic official says that angels exist but are wingless

    1. Ya’ know, after Dr Coyne’s first query of “how do ya’ know that ?” then this one is always.always.always my follow – up query: “How can Any Alleged Godly ‘nd Holy not ‘ust be entirely embarrassed by this, your idiocy / your mentally clinging to utter magic and superstition and millennially ages’ old parchments of only – men’s statements … … as any sort of reasonable … … ‘reality’ ?”

      Blue

      1. I think your follow up question is confusing – for example, what is a “not ‘ust?” You may be better off without it.

    2. Surely it is painful when someone addresses the issue of defining the supernatural in a quantitative manner. The more a religious person hears about definitive statements made about the transcendent the more likly a dissonant prerogative will emerge.

      Not everyone thinks of angels the same way; but if noone talks about it, people can just walk around thinking of some nebulous ideal of what an angel is. But once someone pins part of that ideal down, the constraint will not be universally accepted…and that will be either painful or embarrassing or both even if a religious person will not admit it.

      1. Yes, there is an implicit (and sometimes explicit) agreement among people who believe in angels, demons, spirits, God, and Higher Powers from another level of reality that it’s forbidden to describe or even think concretely about such things. Never go into details unless in the presence of an audience or attitude which is warm, approving, and uncritical. When skeptics ask for specifics and look for flaws and contradictions their the curiosity is deemed rude, if not downright dangerous.

        People are supposed to try to believe in such things. A critical approach is translated into a moral criticism of that — and thus a criticism of hope, love, and whatever the hell else the faith belief is presumed to be inspired by.

        There’s even an argument for atheism out there which points out that believers don’t seem to really believe their own assertions because they treat their beliefs like fiction, in that all the details are glazed over like they are in stories. An atheist asking “how do you know that angels don’t have wings?” is equated with a child interrupting “The Little Engine That Could” and asking how the teller knows this is true, where the trains lived, how do they talk, etc. You’re not supposed to care because it’s all irrelevant.

        1. Actually, I can recall lots of sermons whose purpose was to try to highlight this dissonance in the audience, to point out how the audience of supposed believers don’t act like they think god is really real, not real like their brother or boss or dog is real. Basically we go about our lives as any non-believer would except on the edges we may say a prayer or show up at church. We act like people who hope or wish that there is an afterlife, but not like people who really think there is. A few of these sermons were effective. I’m not quite sure how, since it seems at first brush like it’d have the opposite effect, but I guess the preacher painted a vivid image of what life would be like if we REALLY believed that god was real, like we believe in our dog or bank account, and that vivid image made us feel it for at least a moment the way you can feel for a moment that a movie is real. Also he made us feel guilty about it and it seems that any emotion, being real enough itself, tends to emotionally validate whatever is being said.

          I can recall being slightly embarrassed that my own sect made excuses for why there were not modern day miracles, why we don’t handle poisonous snakes, why we use medicine instead of laying on of elder’s hands. There are small sects that do these things, and they look ridiculous even to most other Christians, but at the same time they cause the rest of believers dissonance because if we really thought all of this was real wouldn’t we be doing the same?

          Anyway, the apparent unbelief of the supposed believers is a common enough topic among believers to lend support to the idea of a fairly widespread unreality to belief.

        2. Which is INFURIATING because although their day-to-day lives are are lived, for the most part, as if religion weren’t true, they don’t seem to be able to see that and try to enact legislation affirming all the crazy religious bullshit:

          “I go to church a few times a year, don’t rely on divine intervention to solve my problems, but, dammit, god is a matter of NATIONAL SECURITY!”

    3. Agreed. Although the fundys agree with this delusion too. The Catholics have the balls to talk about it as if it were a reality. I just don’t understand how someone can hear themselves talk this way and think – Yeah this is normal.

      1. That was awesome.

        hard part was after the test? The trucks have to move backward still, but closer together so Van Damme doesn’t wind up under one of them? Or slowly come to a stop together?

        1. I don’t know, and I’d love to see the raw footage, or a “making of” clip, or the like.

          I remember from the news article where I first came across the link that he was wearing an harness, but only as a safety backup. I imagine the trucks did the same thing but in reverse order; it’d be the obvious answer.

          And, while Chuck’s video is, of course, impressive, I gotta say that Van Damme winds this round hands-down. Chuck just supplied the face and the hat, with digital compositors doing all the heavy lifting. Van Damme was the real deal, and the simplicity and elegance of the feat was almost as impressive as the substance.

          b&

              1. Well, of course, regular leather wouldn’t be able to support such stresses, so Van Damme was forced to capture Chuck Norris, skin him alive a couple times (letting him re-grow his skin between skinnings), and then tan said skin to make the leather for the pants.

                Cheers,

                b&

              1. You mean Jesus Gonzales, Jose and Maria’s boy? The one who’s working on his EE at Loyola Marymount? He did quite well in his Latin classes at Xavier Prep, as I remember. Sharp kid. First in his family to go to college, but I’m sure he won’t be the last.

                b&

        2. My best guess…

          The trucks slowed & stopped while The Muscles from Brussels remained in the splits. Then stepladders were produced or he simply went head first forward. I read that safety lines were used which I assume were attached to a rig on the roof of the right* truck. These lines [& my imagined rig] were digitally airbrushed from the final movie.

          * The right truck is driven straight back along a white line, while it is the left truck which switches white lines

          An advertising blog reports:-

          A Volvo rep confirmed that the spot was done in just one take, and if the actor had gotten a leg cramp while filming, he would have been protected by plenty of safety lines that were not visible in the final video. He also was aided by small platforms on the trucks’ side mirrors that helped prop up his feet. But none of this takes away from the badassery of doing a perfect split between two massive moving vehicles.

          Jean-Claude Van Damme returning to a standing position would have been spectacular from an almost 180 degree split. Spectacular, because I don’t think the human leg can possibly have enough muscle development to achieve that even assisted by an inward push from the trucks. Also the amount of control required to rotate the hips, knees & ankles correctly so as not to flip forward or back to a lower centre of gravity [ie head down] seems impossible to me too.

          1. I never had a very high opinion of JCVD (or any other musclebound action hero with the possible exception of Arnie), but he just shot up in my estimation.

            But equally impressive is the control of those trucks. Backing up an artic like that without the trailer section skewing off sideways is amazing.

            Oh, and the Enya (?) track – excellent, lends an air of serenity to the whole clip.

        1. If you think “ten cubits” equates to a four-significant-digit metric equivalent, I’ve got an Ark to sell you….

          I suppose the 2 Chronicles quote could be ambiguous, with the “twenty cubits” describing either the total wingspan of two cherubim combined or the wingspan of a single cherubim (as I interpreted it, with the implication of more than just two cherubim). I’d have to read more of the passage in context, and I’m not sure I have the stomach for that much Bible Babble on the Solstice….

          b&

      2. That Chuck spot was really fun to watch. I found the color of his beard to be sufficiently unbelievable that the rest seemed believable by comparison.

        It did not escape my attention that Norris uses military planes and soldiers for his Christmas greeting.

        1. Yeah. Perfectly appropriate for a right wing Christian & NRA spokesman. Back in ’07 he wrote [using his big crayons?] that we would tattoo an American flag with the words, “In God we trust,” on the forehead of every atheist & deport all liberals.

        2. Yeah…Van Damme looks his age, but he also looks like he might still have a chance at getting a spot on an Olympic gymnastics team, which is amazing. Chuck, on the other hand, just looks like what he’s always been — a cartoon caricature.

          b&

  1. While atheists have always decried the lack of evidence for theism, it is the infusion of scientists and science-friendly people into atheism, starting with Carl Sagan and continuing on to Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Pinker, and Dennett, that has made us realize that religious dogmas are in fact hypotheses, and you need reasons and evidence for accepting them.

    <ahem />

    I have a Mr. Epicurus on the other line, says he has a riddle for you….

    And, once again, I am utterly flabbergasted at how an adult can say such things in public, in seriousness, and not expect to be ridiculed in response.

    It would be one thing if he was a kindergardener. Or if he was engaging in literary analysis of the type that has people arguing over whether or not vampires sparkle or the top speed of a given spaceship. Or, hell, even if he was arguing the artistic merits of different forms of a popular motif.

    But, that he’s serious…well, either he’s in dire need of institutionalization; or he is utterly incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and fact (and thus equally in need of institutionalization); or he’s just making shit up for fun and profit (and thus in need of a different kind of institutionalization).

    Any way you slice it, this man should not be roaming the streets unattended.

    Cheers,

    b&

  2. This is because increasing secularisation and materialism in society have left an “open door” for the devil, he said.

    This is brilliant.

    As a secularist I find it oddly satisfying to think of myself as a gate-crashing demon.

    I will take your soul and drag you down to hell….muahahahah!!

  3. The widely-published Catholic clergyman is also a “demonologist” and says angels are more needed than ever.
    ____

    Why are demons increasing? Aren’t the Shards of Light doing their jobs properly? They are behaving more like Blobs of Murkiness. God needs to send them to a Work Smarter not Harder seminar.

    Goodness, after all of these centuries you would think that Catholicism would get/do something right!

    1. Or, Jesus, could just get cellphones for the angels, and they could call Catholic special forces exorcists to the scene in their black helicopters.

      What? Angels can’t use cellphones? And, despite the desperate and urgent need to fight demons, the Church doesn’t have any way to do battle with them?

      Why, that almost sounds like it’s nothing but a fraud, that the Pope is an humbug. Say it ain’t so!

      b&

    2. As an ex-Catholic who knows darn well that only an ever-dwindling percentage of Catholics actually believe in literal angels and demons; I never quite understand why the lunatics like this one are given a public platform from which to spout their embarrassingly silly stories.

      But then again, even enlightened and modern Catholics (those that use birth control and think homosexuality is perfectly okay) believe in some dodgy stuff too, so perhaps they don’t want to be accused of being the proverbial pot calling the kettle a darker shade of off-white.

    1. “Lavatori.” Lavatory. Lava, from a volcano. “Lava,” a U.S. soap with pumice (from volcanoes).

      Ergo, a toilet is an upside-down volcano.

  4. “Father Lavatory knows that angels aren’t anthropomorphic”

    Best typo over for the Father’s name. 🙂

  5. “Angels really do exist but do not have wings and are more like shards of light.”

    Perfect for a camera trap. Expecting empirical evidence in 3… 2… 1…

    0… -1… -2…

    1. yeah, now that everybody has a camera smartphone there should be an abundance of video evidence. It must be our materialism that scares the angels off.

      1. We took a haunted house tour in Salem, Massachusetts. The guide showed us a house which she claimed often showed “spirits” when photographed. I took a picture, and they were there. (Obvious refractions from a nearby street light.) When I showed the guide, she gave a very unconvincing, “ooh, spooky.”

          1. Yeah…it’s always amusing when novice photographers of a certain gullible mindset discover “abnormalities” in their images that any experienced photographer would look at and think, “Gee, what lousy technique to have such goofs.”

            b&

        1. I have to shake my head when the same people who see a scene from a movie or tv show that includes lens flare and orbs radiating from, say, the sun and think nothing of it – ie, understand that it is an effect generated by the camera – proclaim evidence of spirits when looking at the same effects in home movies or pics.

          What idiots.

          1. I believe the technical term is, “maroon.”

            Or, in other contexts, “mark.” There’s lots of money to be made from such as them…though, ultimately, only in a parasitical manner, as their stupidity ultimately costs society more than the charlatans profit from them.

            b&

  6. Dear Jerry,
    with all repects, the first three citations are not descriptions of angels, in Exodus is an instruction how the temple shall be built and decorated, Kings and Chronicles gives descriptions of how Salomo built and decorated it.
    Anders Eg

  7. To “wing it” means to improvise with little
    preparation. So perhaps Father Lavatori was winging it about angel wings. It was just his flight of fancy. Little did he know that there would be such a flap about it.

  8. Catholic Church “angelologist” Father Renzo Lavatori says the celestial beings are back in vogue thanks to various New Age religions.

    “New Age” meaning “supernatural bullshit on a personal basis, without the traditions.”

    Yes, belief in angels is one of the many precious aspects of a “spirituality” which we’re supposed to respect. It’s the sign of a sensitive, mystical, genuine soul who seeks higher things than found in this crass world and believes that LOVE is soooo important that surely there must be beings and entities who were formed for this very purpose.

    It’s like children believing in Santa Claus way, way past the age when they should be suspicious. They’re fixing their identity at an earlier, purer stage of development and assuming that the adults will be both enchanted and a little envious.

    I know people who believe in angels. And I know even more people who don’t believe in them themselves, no, but think the “possibility” of this belief and respect for it is a legitimate counter to cruelty and harshness in the world.

    They can’t separate the niceness of the belief from its truth. Asking how they ‘know’ angels have wings is like asking them how they ‘know’ that being kind to others is nice. There’s something monstrous in the question itself.

    Conflating categories again — both to form the belief and then to protect it.

  9. I’ve been teaching my girls about the contents of the Bible using the Brick Testament, in which the Bible is illustrated by amazing Lego scenes and the text is clear and not bowdlerized.

    If you want to see how absolutely nasty angles are, check out Revelations: http://www.thebricktestament.com/revelation/index.html

    I don’t know why people are so fond of these murderous, torturing creatures!

    1. I too have enjoyed the Brick Bible. You should read some of the LOLzy reviews on Amazon where Xians are upset that it is too violent for children. Ha! It is the bible and it is violent. Think about it before you indoctrinate perhaps!

  10. The trouble is that atheists lack the humility to accept that Catholics are always right about everything.

    That is the only attitude that the Church finds acceptable….

  11. This way of thinking mimics what I was taught in Catholic Sunday school 40 years ago.

    We were told that angels don’t have wings, but they are just artistically represented that way to symbolize their speed and how quickly they can supernaturally move from place to place. The “evidence” for this was that the “angels” that were seen at the empty tomb had no wings and just looked like ordinary humans with very bleached clothing. Also, the angel guests of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah just looked like normal people, too.

    This conveniently distanced them from the mythological winged cherubim/seraphim in Babylon (and in other places in the OT) as Jerry correctly points out.

    A clever way of making the doctrine seem more “reasonable” on the surface. It doesn’t really work, but they’re giving it the old college try.

    1. Oh, but this is from an official church “angelologist.” A research scholar who studies these things.

      Whenever I read some high-minded assertion that “science came directly out of the Church” and reassurances that humanism has its roots in Catholicism, I always think of these angelologists, demonologists, and official exorcists — as well as reports of miracles and healings from saints. When it comes to claims which could genuinely be considered religious, THIS is what a happy co-existence between science and religion would look like.

      Except the “experts” would be publishing in science journals and making a case to nonbelievers. Not playacting at it.

  12. If they’re wingless, are they beakless or lacking in distal keratinous rhamphotheca?
    Considering that I’ve just been posting a message to Prof.Ceiling Cat concerning the evolutionary history of beaks … I am seriously worrying about Hili reading my mind before I’ve had time to make it up, and then transmitting the results to Chicago.

    1. The visual documentation I’ve seen of angels suggests a decidedly mammalian relationship, not avian. They’re clearly more closely related to bats than birds.

      Then again, one assumes that they’re intelligently designed, not evolved, and thus completely alien. As such, the genetic engineers who created them could make any old bizarre modification they wanted without respect to anything else, even logic.

      For example, the same visual documentation shows entities with huge wings that’re nevertheless incapable of terrestrial flight. Either said wings are decorative; or angels are native to a planet with much higher air density and lower gravity; or they’re figments of an overactive imagination.

      Wait — I didn’t let that last one slip, did I?

      b&

        1. A bit of…ah…investigation…on Google images (with “safe search” turned off) suggests that they, do, indeed. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they would appear to serve all the same purposes as their human counterparts….

          b&

        1. Angels would seem at least convergently analogous to insects, having somehow sprouted a new set of (highly modified) limbs. (Giving them one more set than your basic mammal…)

            1. Convergence leaves all the room you could want for extreme differences. 😀

              (But whoever dreamt up angels pictorially certainly knew nothing of evolution. Wings are just way cooler than spiracles and exoskeletons…)

              (Though if you can dance on the head of a pin you’re small enough to respire arthropodically.)

  13. I find this claim of Father Lavatori to be exceptionally slippery. To wit:

    “they are a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase”.

    That will be the only excuse needed for the vulnerable & gullible to see lots of angels. A glint of light from a window might be claimed to be an angel.

    1. I think that phrase is wonderfully vague and useful, a true deepity. It needn’t just be used for angels.

      Why is there no good scientific evidence for ESP?

      “ESP is a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase.”

      How could the Loch Ness Monster avoid detection in such a small lake?

      “The Loch Ness Monster is a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase.”

      Why is God so hidden from the world?

      “God is a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase.”

      Where’s my check?

      “Your payment is a bit like sunlight that refracts on you through a crystal vase.”

      You kinda hate to pursue the matter any further, it sounds so delicate … and deep.

      1. I should also add that the fathers’ claim is not only slippery, but slimy. Even the religious (well, many of them) can see this as a craven attempt to trick people. What’s next? Claiming that the voices of angels can be heard in the static hiss between radio stations?

        1. Don’t be ridiculous. You’ve got to keep evidence in mind. People have been hearing angel voices long before radio. Clearly their voice can be heard in the leaves rustling in the wind.

          1. I guess with everything going digital the voices of angels will be lost from static between stations and records. Thanks a lot science! 🙂

  14. A little bit of interesting trivia about those Seraphim. That middle pair of wings is actually to cover their genitals (“feet” is a biblical euphemism in this case). I’m sure that Father Lavatori would like to avoid discussing that his “shards of light” have junk, and that the seemingly sole purpose of said junk is to require covering up in the Holy Presence.

    For more on this and related euphemisms, see here:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/01/24/weird-ot-euphemisms-uncovering-the-feet/

      1. Thanks. And just a reminder, Doomstadt is lovely this time of year. A high proportion of our visitors never leave.

  15. Aawww! You can clearly see that ceilingly cat go “Birdie, birdie! Nom, nom?”

    No “hell” like “heaven”.

  16. If you’ll forgive a tangential comment: Amira (previously featured on this website) has just just won her semi-final of Holland’s Got Talent, so expect her to be all over Youtube again very shortly. She sung “Ave Maria”, so I think I can claim some marginal relevance to this thread. The presenters appeared to be more nervous than she was.

  17. No nomming in Heaven!

    Which brings me to the question I have had since a young age? Why would an all loving, beneficent God create organisms that had to consume (read kill) other organisms in order to survive.

    1. The more fundamentalist types would immediately answer that is the result of ‘The Fall From Grace’, where death and suffering was brought into the world. Except for herbivores. Herbivores are still ok.

      1. Plants are still living organisms. We should be able to scoop up some earth and get our nutrients direct – that would be a intelligent design.

        1. But carnivores will not see it that way. Reminds me of an old cartoon (by Gary Larson? Not sure). Have to be sketchy on details here, so lets say it was a couple lions in the garden of Eden, and one lion is saying to the other: “Are you telling me I am supposed to be eating grass? Look at these claws! Look at these fangs!”

    2. Oh, that’s easy.

      Because Eve tricked Adam into eating the sin fruit. It’s all her fault, just as it’s always the woman’s fault.

      No, of course it doesn’t make any sense. But what else did you expect from as misogynistic a religion as Christianity?

      Cheers,

      b&

  18. But. . . but CLARENCE GETS HIS WINGS at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life!” How can he even presume to go against that?

  19. “Who are the angels?
    The angels are purely spiritual creatures, incorporeal, invisible, immortal, and personal beings endowed with intelligence and will. They ceaselessly contemplate God face-to-face and they glorify him. They serve him and are his messengers in the accomplishment of his saving mission to all.”

    (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, §60)

    “Face-to-face”? Well, purely spiritual creatures don’t have faces, and you cannot attach wings to them, since they don’t have shoulders either.

  20. ah, the RCC is scared of accepting those wingy angels that may or may not have been stolen from other religions.

    It is amazing on how they claim to know such bullshit and then ignore actual reality.

    oh and don’t forget the powers, principalities and authorities, all other variants of angels.

    1. And let’s not forget: if the Olympians are gods, then the Heavenly Host must most certainly be equally divine.

      But, no, Catholics are monotheists. The only way I can figure that can possibly be is because they can’t count past “one.”

      b&

  21. Aw, crap, I’m so late.

    I’m sure it’s already been said, but of course angels don’t have wings. I mean, let’s get real. Wings? That would just be silly. Don’t be adding unbelievable fantasy to an otherwise very reasonable, scientific even, fairy tale.

  22. Definitions of angels and miracles and gods. It is all good. Makes people squirm. It should be decidedly the cause of atheists to extend definitions (beyon FSM) to say what miracles, angles, and demons and whatever else we can think of are. The claims made by them can be made by anyone.

    I love using, ‘my soul’. It wrenches some people who know I am an atheist. ‘Hey, you can’t use that word…that is not allowed’. Pain is in their voice. The mortal soul…ends its life wih my carbon returning to the earth.

    1. Because then how else could you have a polytheistic religion with angels, demons, Satan and a Trinity vainly pretending to be a monotheism?

  23. Where did Lavatori get the idea that angels are “really” like shards of light? Maybe from CS Lewis’ space trilogy, in which the eldila (angels) are described as shifting pillars of light. Like that light refracting through a crystal, you have to be in the right place and looking at them from the right angle to be able to see them at all. So you might see them, but if you weren’t a believer, you would dismiss them as “a trick of the light.”

    So, not very original at all.

    What a surprise.

  24. Jerry:

    it is the infusion of scientists and science-friendly people into atheism … that has made us realize that religious dogmas are in fact hypotheses, and you need reasons and evidence for accepting them.

    Indeed; couldn’t have said it better myself. Although I might have qualified the statement by suggesting that to describe “religious dogmas” as hypotheses was being charitable to a fault when “conjectures” or “wishful thinking” or “philosophick romances” would be more appropriate. However, I expect that the roots of all of those cases dervive from the same mental processes and that they might all fit under the rubric of induction or intuition.

    Which can actually be of more than passing value, hypotheses being arguably the first step in the scientific method, even if it tends to be viewed with a jaundiced eye. But, as a case in point, I’m reminded of some comments by Norbert Wiener – one of the progenitors of cybernetics – where he was describing some seminal contributions by Willard Gibbs to the science of thermodynamics:

    This occurred long after Gibbs’ death, and his work remained for two decades one of those mysteries of science which work even though it seems that they ought not to work. Many men have had intuitions well ahead of their time; and this is not least true in mathematical physics. [The Human Use of Human Beings; pg 10]

    And, as I’ve mentioned before, the British astronomer Fred Hoyle found the solution to a complicated integral that he had been working on in a flash of insight that he described in terms that are virtually identical to those used in St. Paul’s “Road to Damascus” tale.

    But the mental processes seem to be the same, and appear to be some form of computation that happens “underneath the hood”, and normally outside the realm of conscious thought; indeed, one might even be so bold as to characterize that as “another way of knowing”. Although might also emphasize the computer programming aphorism: “garbage in; garbage out” – there might well be “output” from the process that exhibits the attributes of “revelations” of various types, but that is no guarantee that it actually corresponds to reality, the proof being in the pudding.

  25. I think Father Lavatori was reading ‘Out of the Silent Plant’ by C.S. Lewis and got mixed up; it is a much better work of fiction than the Bible, after all.

  26. A thought about feet. Humans are bipedal and our feet are mechanically like brackets. The same goes for other bipedals like kangaroos. Four-legged animals like horses and goats can have hoofs (hooves?), but I don’t see how a bipedal animal can, as there is no leverage in a hoof to help the animal keep its balance.

    The image of the devil as hoofed does not stand up.

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