Who is your god?

By Tom Quiner

One of my best friends is a liberal. I think she’s okay with that label.

She is one of the finest people I know, a truly beautiful human being.

She is a lifelong Roman Catholic whose Church holds a central place in her life. Her faith has been her rock in getting her through life’s vicissitudes.

I respect her and I love her.

I am truly amazed at how differently we see the world. She would agree on that statement. To her credit, she took me to coffee once and asked why I’m a conservative. She sincerely wanted to understand why I view the world the way I do. She listened respectfully, asked me some questions, and she came away knowing me even better than before, and I came away knowing her even better.

We got into a fascinating conversation over dinner a few years ago. She was over for dinner with some of my family. The conversation turned philosophical. My wife asked her brother if he believed in the idea of absolute Truth, with a capital T.

Essentially, his answer was no. My friend agreed.

My wife, Karen, and I were amazed. As Roman Catholics, we believe in Truth as revealed by scripture and Tradition to Mother Church.

My friend said she has her truth, but that someone else may have their own truth. Even more, she didn’t feel she could impose her “truth” on someone else. Even more, she disagrees with her Church on critical social issues, and votes for candidates who wish to impose anti-Catholic policies on secular society.

Karen responded that that didn’t make sense. For example, either Jesus is the Christ, or else he’s a liar or a lunatic. There is no gray area. He is either the Son of God or he is a bad man. This example, though, didn’t sway her.

On the other hand, in another recent conversation, I made the politically-incorrect statement that I did not believe in the “theology” of global warming, aka climate change.

She was stunned.

As a liberal, she views it as settled science. As a liberal, she has faith in the liberal elite and the priests of Secular Humanism regarding the absolute Truth of man-made global warming/climate change. Even more, she is willing to impose this view on others through various liberal political schemes.

[For the record, some 1000 international scientists from around the world dissented on the so-called science behind climate change in a report presented to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.]

So what is the difference between a conservative and a liberal? My friend might bristle at this, but it seems to me the difference is: who is your authority? Who’s truth do you embrace?

Who is your god?

Who is your God?






  1. lburleso on August 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I understand the value of having a diverse set of friends, for intellectual, spiritual, and practical reasons. But my vision of a “best friend” – or even a very good friend – is someone who agrees on the most critical social and spiritual issues of our day.

    How you can include someone in your inner circle of best friends that is fighting against our already-difficult attempts to correct True evils and injustice is beyond me.

    Your use of complementary style toward this individual in the same article that insists on absolute truth is confusing, unconvincing and makes you sound just as relativistic as she is.

    Sorry, Tom.

    • quinersdiner on August 26, 2013 at 10:54 am

      I respectfully disagree. Jesus told us to go out to the world and tell the Good News. It’s hard to do that in isolation. The Catholic Church is fertile ground for evangelism. Too many Catholics don’t understand why their Church believes the way She does. It’s up to us model our faith to our friends who embrace part of the Truth, but need to be exposed to the fullness of the faith.

    • JoeC on August 26, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Yea, Tom. Come on. Get on the hate train.

      Just look to Jesus. He knew who the enemy was and judged / condemned those around him at every turn.

      Oh wait….

  2. Mike Manno on August 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Good article, Tom, I understand all too well what you are dealing with and I disagree with the previous comment … we can not just cut out of our lives those who disagree with us. Agreement is not a prerequisite for friendship, after all, look who Jesus hung around with.

  3. lburleso on August 26, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Perhaps I did not communicate my position well enough.

    Please understand that I do not advocate for isolation or cutting out dissenters. My issue was simply with the label of “one of my best friends”.

    To reiterate: “I understand the value of having a diverse set of friends, for intellectual, spiritual, and practical reasons.”

  4. kurtedjohn on August 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I have no god. But, I do have faith. I have faith that there is no god. I say “faith” because just as one cannot prove the existence of a god, on cannot prove there is no god. So, everyone has some type of faith. My faith is that things are as they appear. (I have faith that I am not in some type of dream state and have no actual knowledge of reality.)

    It does not follow that I must have, “…faith in the liberal elite and the priests of Secular Humanism regarding the absolute Truth…” I have faith that truth is found in nature. The truth about human nature is found in history and our own experience. Therefore, people do and will disagree about what is true. Given that we live in a world where people will disagree about what is true, I take the position that individuals are sovereign, and that social interactions should be peaceful and voluntary, and that individuals can voluntarily cooperate with one another to form governments to use force to protect their lives, liberty and property, and to resolve disputes. The use of force by governments should be limited to the same force that would be considered moral and just if used by individuals.

    • karensiena on August 26, 2013 at 11:55 am

      I appreciate the intellectual honesty of your statement Kurt. “I have no god. But, I do have faith. I have faith that there is no god.” Most atheists I have encountered will deny that faith has anything to do with their position.

      If I believe in evolution, I have to have faith in what the theories of evolution say, I have to have faith in the scientific methods and conclusions.

      If I believe in the big bang theory, I have to have faith in the science because I wasn’t there when it happened. And even if I was there at the moment of the big bang, my perceptions of it could be skewed by any number of things.

      Regarding truth: two opposing things cannot be true. If I say Jesus is the Son of God and rose from the dead, and you say that is not the truth, we can’t both be correct. Our friend said that the debate is over on global warming and that science has proven it, and we say that is not true. Only one of us is correct. it is illogical to say that both are true because each of us believe it.

      That is what is so troubling about so many Christians today, this concept of my truth and your truth. It isn’t intellectually honest. It is politically correct, but not honest. It is illogical.

      I appreciate your intellectual honesty Kurt.

      And Lee, the world is won by beauty, the world is won by gentleness and love. We love our friend, deeply, and that does not change because of her beliefs. And yes, she is a very good friend. I wouldn’t have much relationship with family if they had to believe as I do.

      • lburleso on August 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm

        The only explanation for the rampant misinterpretation of my comments, even after re-explaining, is that our definition of “friend” and/or “best friend” is not the same.

        What do you people not understand about having different levels of friendship and closeness with another person? And where did I mention not loving anyone? At least give the courtesy of thorough reading and consideration before replying like you would on a teen Facebook page.

    • JoeC on August 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      I agree that stating “no god exists” requires its own burden of poof. You leave out a third choice. You can just not believe the evidence supports that a god exists. It requires no burden of truth.

      You will have a hard time finding anyone today who believes in the Roman God Zeus, but there was a time when most of what we considered to be the civilized world did believe in him. The number of gods that have command gone is a lot.

      I do believe that you can have universal truths without religion. “Thou shalt not murder” was around long before the Christian Bible and most would consider that a universal truth. A society or groups that did live by these universal truths (morals if you will) would tend to flourish while those who went against them would fall by the wayside over time.

      • quinersdiner on August 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm

        Interesting point, Joe. You may have more in common with St. Thomas Aquinas than you think! We may need to develop your thesis a little more in the weeks to come. Thanks for writing.

  5. violetwisp on August 26, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Do you think your friend would have disagreed with critical issues in the Catholic church when popes had slaves, heretics were tortured and books of science were burned? Perhaps you would have continued believing in the absolute Truth of the Church in those days and supported these now immoral acts. Surely a quick glance at these areas tells you there is no absolute truth and no objective morality. And for this reason alone, we have to weigh up positive and negative outcomes of our actions – not rely on other people’s ever-changing interpretations of one of the many out of date ‘holy’ books in existence.

    • karensiena on August 26, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      The Catholic church has always had sinners in her midst, but has never taught or advocated for the sinful acts you mentioned. The Church is bigger than any of it’s individual sinful members. I am sure glad about that, because I count myself as one of the sinners in the church. The fact that the Church has survived Catholics is proof that Jesus’ promise that the gates of Hades will not prevail against it has proven true.

      • violetwisp on August 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

        “The Catholic church… has never taught or advocated for the sinful acts you mentioned.” You surely aren’t serious. Here’s a very small selection.

        1. Corpus Iuris Canonici – official canon law of the Catholic Church enacted by Pope Gregory IX and remained official law until 1913, “There are even some who for gain act as captains or pilots in galleys or Saracen pirate vessels. Therefore we declare that such persons should be cut off from the communion of the church and be excommunicated for their wickedness, that catholic princes and civil magistrates should confiscate their possessions, and that if they are captured they should become the slaves of their captors. ”

        2. Pope Pius IX in 1866: “Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery”

        3. Ad extirpanda – papal bull issued by Pope Innocent IV in 1252 authorising the use of torture to extract confessions from heretics who were “to be coerced—as are thieves and bandits—into confessing their errors and accusing others, although one must stop short of danger to life or limb”

        4. Pope Clement VI – papal bull Intra Arcana in 1529 instructing Spanish rulers to “compel and with all zeal cause the barbarian nations (of the New World) to come to the knowledge of God, the maker and founder of all things, not only by edicts and admonitions, but also by force and arms”

        5. Galieo was imprisoned for life by the Inquisition for his ‘heretical’ works revealing that the Earth is not the centre of the universe, which was believed to be “distorting the Scriptures in accordance with his own conceptions, presume to interpret them contrary to that sense which the holy mother Church… has held or holds”.

      • karensiena on August 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm

        Hi VioletWisp:

        In response to your last post, I drew upon the knowledge of my friend Matt Halbach, who is the director of the St. Joseph educational center. Here is what he said.

        ‘First off, the Code of Canon Law has undergone many changes in terms of content and character since the time of Pope Gregory IX and his Decreetals from the 12th century. In fact, there was not a single “code” until the Council of Trent (mid-16th century). In fact, it was the code that emerged from Trent that influenced canon law up to the 20th century.

        Second, the excerpted text from the Decreetals is speaking to the treatment of “prisoners of war” who constitute a category of servus or “slave” not to be confused with “chattel” slavery. “The idea of one human being belonging to another as a piece of property is repugnant to the Christian concept of human dignity. By changing the minds of men, masters and slaves, and legislators, the Church contributed indirectly to the decline of slavery in the strict sense in all Christian lands before the thirteenth century” (excerpted from the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol II, “Slavery.”

        For an astounding list of Popes who have condemned chattel slavery throughout the centuries See http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/POPSLAVE.HTM.

        As for the other claims, suffice it to say that it is unclear as to whether these statements, like the quote from the Decreetals, have been taken out of context. I don’t have the time to research all of this. My sense is, though, that they have in fact been taken out of context.

        In general, though, two things are important to remember about church teaching. First, church teaching confines itself to matters of faith and morals. Slavery and violence are, indeed, moral issues and, what is clear is that official church teaching has always opted for the just treatment of the human person. One can find such official teaching in the various ecumenical councils of the Church over the centuries.

        Second, what makes a teaching “official” is one of two things: (1) If the teaching is coming from the Pope alone then he has to be intending to teach “ex cathedra” or “from the chair” which is a euphemism for the intent to make a pronouncement binding on the whole church and for all time. Everything else is papal opinion regardless of how well (or ill) informed it is. Such “infallibility” pertaining to the establishment of a new teaching has been invoked by popes only twice: by Pius IX, in defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin in 1854 and by Pius XII, in defining the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in 1950.(2) As stated earlier, ecumenical councils (or anytime the body of bishops worldwide issues a teaching in union with the pope) it is to be considered “official” church teaching.” (end of statement by Matt)

        In conclusion Violet, I hold to my original statement. The church has always been populated by sinful people. Some of the things that have been said even by people in authority down through the centuries have been in error. But the official teachings of the church have always been inerrant and official church teaching has always respected the dignity and value of the human person. It has always held the fullness of the Truth. (capital T) The gates of hell will never prevail upon this Church. It will be here until the end of time with Christ at it’s head.

      • violetwisp on August 27, 2013 at 3:49 pm

        “the Code of Canon Law has undergone many changes in terms of content and character since the time of Pope Gregory IX” But this is exactly what I was trying to illustrate – the Catholic church has changed a lot. Who’s to say that in 200 years time the liberal attitudes of your best friend will not be the norm within your Church? Especially in relation respecting the dignity and value of people e.g. same sex marriage, women priests, forced birthing.

        “The idea of one human being belonging to another as a piece of property is repugnant to the Christian concept of human dignity.” This is simply not true. It’s been debated down through Catholic Church history and the position of the Church wasn’t settled until the middle of the 20th Century. You only have to look at the Bible to see how slavery has easily been justified by the Church.
        Leviticus 25:44-46
        44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

        “But the official teachings of the church have always been inerrant” I just don’t see how this is a helpful way to view things. I’ve given you quotes from primary sources that illustrate there are official teachings of previous centuries that are abhorrent by our standards today. I’m not doing this to demonstrate anything other than that every organisation is subject to change – humans evolve and our perspective on life evolves with it. To pretend otherwise is to blinker ourselves from history.

      • karensiena on August 27, 2013 at 5:20 pm

        The Leviticus quote cannot be used to prove your point about Catholic teaching. It is irrelevant to the discussion.

        I would like to repoint you to Matt’s 2 last paragraphs.

        I stand by my original statement.

    • Mike Manno on August 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      I think the problem you are having is that you are looking so hard to discredit the Catholic Church that you turn over any rock that seems to fit your criticism; and you do so without regard to historical customs, norms, or the moral and legal standards of that day. You also tend interpret words written in the Middle Ages, in another language, as meaning the same thing that today’s words in English mean – or that the words do not themselves evolve in meaning. Further, actions by a pope, or the civil authorities, don’t go the truth of Church teaching – you want to know about some bad popes, I can give you an earful, but they never changed the doctrine or teachings of the Church. You can rant against the Catholic Church, but at least do so in an intellectually honest manner, rather than cherry-picking statements from the long past and trying to blacken the entire Church with them. Try dealing with dogma, the theology that the Church teaches. Heck, following the logic of your posts, what is the United States since George Washington owned slaves?

  6. oarubio on August 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Unfortunately, Tom, and there are those who also don’t understand that there are some good uses of the verb “to discriminate.” Our politically correct culture has tarnished the reputation of several good words. In addition, judging between good and evil does not necessarily make one “judgmental.”…. We need to keep running the good race!

  7. denying change | violetwisp on August 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    […] to Quiner’s Diner for another stimulating […]

  8. Charlene on January 19, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Saying that there is no absolute truth is a contradictory statement in and of itself.

    You cannot say there is “no absolute truth” without adding “except the rule that there is no absolute truth.” But that’s ridiculous. If there’s no absolute truth, then your very claim to relativism is already flawed in your beliefs of “no absolute truth.”

    Christian apologetics, which deals with a lot of subjects like this, is part of what got me to convert to Christianity. It is a brilliant tool for opening up hardened hearts like mine was.

    @JoeC Saying Jesus condemned people is not biblical, and if you are going to make any assumptions about Jesus, then it has to be based on the Bible. Jesus did not condemn anyone. He did not tell anyone they were going to hell. That was not for him, or any Christian, to decide, because anyone can repent at any moment in their life. So Jesus just loved people and helped them out of sin while preaching the good Word of God. But you are right, Jesus did know who the enemy was. The enemy is the devil. The devil is what tempts people into sin and pushes them away from our Heavenly Father. It ties back into the whole don’t hate the sinner, hate the sin deal. Example: Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He commanded the people throwing stones at her to stop, and then he told her not to continue to live in sin. That does not sound like condemning. That sounds like what every Bible-believing Christian must aspire to be. They are supposed to love people but also stand firm in their beliefs, because they are also supposed to help people to God. If you think that Jesus condemned any person at any point in his life, it is glaringly obvious that you have not read the Bible.

    You know, there are so many people who claim that the Bible is untrue because of this and that, but many have never even read it, or at least not all of it. I am thinking of putting on my bucket list, “make a bet with an atheist to objectively read the entire Bible.”

    • quinersdiner on January 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      Well said. Thanks for writing.