Of the Manichaeans
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But if you ask what corruption is, consider to what it seeks to bring the things which it corrupts; for it affects those things according to its own nature. Now all things by corruption fall away from what they were, and are brought to non-continuance, to non- existence ; for existence implies continuance. Thus the supreme and chief existence is so called because it continues in itself, or is self-contained.
In the case of a thing changing for the better, the change is not from continuance, but from perversion to the worse, that is, from falling away from essence ; the author of which falling away is not He who is the author of the essence. So in some things there is change for the better, and so a tendency towards existence.
And this change is not called a perversion, but reversion or conversion; for perversion is opposed to orderly arrangement. Now things which tend towards existence tend towards order, and, attaining order they attain existence , as far as that is possible to a creature. For order reduces to a certain uniformity that which it arranges; and existence is nothing else than being one. Thus, so far as anything acquires unity, so far it exists. For uniformity and harmony are the effects of unity, and by these compound things exist as far as they have existence.
For simple things exist by themselves, for they are one. But things not simple imitate unity by the agreement of their parts; and so far as they attain this, so far they exist. This arrangement is the cause of existence , disorder of non- existence ; and perversion or corruption are the other names for disorder. So whatever is corrupted tends to non- existence. You may now be left to reflect upon the effect of corruption, that you may discover what is the chief evil ; for it is that which corruption aims at accomplishing.
But the goodness of God does not permit the accomplishment of this end, but so orders all things that fall away that they may exist where their existence is most suitable, till in the order of their movements they return to that from which they fell away. Thus, when rational souls fall away from God , although they possess the greatest amount of free-will , He ranks them in the lower grades of creation, where their proper place is.
So they suffer misery by the divine judgment, while they are ranked suitably to their deserts. Hence we see the excellence of that saying which you are always inveighing against so strongly, "I make good things, and create evil things. So in some copies it is written, "I make good things and form evil things. Such are the things which God arranges when He says, "I form evil things," meaning things which are falling off, and so tending to non- existence — not things which have reached that to which they tend.
For it has been said, Nothing is allowed in the providence of God to go the length of non- existence. These things might be discussed more fully and at greater length, but enough has been said for our purpose in dealing with you. We have only to show you the gate which you despair of finding, and make the uninstructed despair of it too.
You can be made to enter only by good-will, on which the divine mercy bestows peace, as the song in the Gospel says, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good-will. If you do not yet see this, I know nothing else that I can do but to discuss the things already said with greater particularity. For nothing save piety and purity can lead the mind to greater things.
For what other answer will you give to the question, What is evil? But either that it is against nature, or that it is hurtful, or that it is corruption, or something similar? But I have shown that in these replies you make shipwreck of your cause , unless, indeed, you will answer in the childish way in which you generally speak to children, that evil is fire, poison, a wild beast, and so on. For one of the leaders of this heresy , whose instructions we attended with great familiarity and frequency, used to say with reference to a person who held that evil was not a substance, "I should like to put a scorpion in the man's hand, and see whether he would not withdraw his hand; and in so doing he would get a proof , not in words but in the thing itself, that evil is a substance, for he would not deny that the animal is a substance.
For who with the least tincture of learning or science does not see that these things hurt by disagreement with the bodily temperament, while at other times they agree with it, so as not only not to hurt, but to produce the best effects? For if this poison were evil in itself, the scorpion itself would suffer first and most.
In fact, if the poison were quite taken from the animal, it would die. So for its body it is evil to lose what it is evil for our body to receive; and it is good for it to have what it is good for us to want. Is the same thing then both good and evil? By no means; but evil is what is against nature, for this is evil both to the animal and to us.
This evil is the disagreement, which certainly is not a substance, but hostile to substance. Whence then is it? See what it leads to, and you will learn, if any inner light lives in you. It leads all that it destroys to non- existence. Now God is the author of existence ; and there is no existence which, as far as it is existing, leads to non- existence : Thus we learn whence disagreement is not; as to whence it is, nothing can be said.
We read in history of a female criminal in Athens, who succeeded in drinking the quantity of poison allotted as a fatal draught for the condemned with little or no injury to her health, by taking it at intervals. So being condemned, she took the poison in the prescribed quantity like the rest, but rendered it powerless by accustoming herself to it, and did not die like the rest. And as this excited great wonder, she was banished. If poison is an evil , are we to think that she made it to be no evil to her?
What could be more absurd than this? But because disagreement is an evil , what she did was to make the poisonous matter agree with her own body by a process of habituation. For how could she by any amount of cunning have brought it about that disagreement should not hurt her? Why so? Because what is truly and properly an evil is hurtful both always and to all.
Oil is beneficial to our bodies, but very much the opposite to many six-footed animals. And is not hellebore sometimes food, sometimes medicine, and sometimes poison. Does not every one maintain that salt taken in excess is poisonous? And yet the benefits to the body from salt are innumerable and most important. Sea-water is injurious when drunk by land animals, but it is most suitable and useful to many who bathe their bodies in it and to fish it is useful and wholesome in both ways.
Bread nourishes man, but kills hawks. And does not mud itself, which is offensive and noxious when swallowed or smelt, serve as cooling to the touch in hot weather, and as a cure for wounds from fire? What can be nastier than dung, or more worthless than ashes? And yet they are of such use to the fields, that the Romans thought divine honors due to the discoverer, Stercutio, from whose name the word for dung [ stercus ] is derived.
But why enumerate details which are countless? We need not go farther than the four elements themselves, which, as every one knows , are beneficial when there is agreement, and bitterly opposed to nature when there is disagreement in the objects acted upon. We who live in air die under earth or under water, while innumerable animals creep alive in sand or loose earth, and fish die in our air. Fire consumes our bodies, but, when suitably applied, it both restores from cold, and expels diseases without number. The sun to which you bow the knee, and than which, indeed, there is no fairer object among visible things, strengthens the eyes of eagles, but hurts and dims our eyes when we gaze on it; and yet we too can accustom ourselves to look upon it without injury.
Will you, then, allow the sun to be compared to the poison which the Athenian woman made harmless by habituating herself to it? Reflect for once, and consider that if a substance is an evil because it hurts some one, the light which you worship cannot be acquitted of this charge. See the preferableness of making evil in general to consist in this disagreement, from which the sun's ray produces dimness in the eyes, though nothing is more pleasant to the eyes than light. I have said these things to make you cease, if that is possible, giving the name of evil to a region boundless in depth and length; to a mind wandering through the region; to the five caverns of the elements — one full of darkness, another of waters, another of winds, another of fire, another of smoke; to the animals born in each of these elements — serpents in the darkness, swimming creatures in the waters, flying creatures in the winds, quadrupeds in the fire, bipeds in the smoke.
For these things, as you describe them, cannot be called evil ; for all such things, as far as they exist, must have their existence from the most high God , for as far as they exist they are good. If pain and weakness is an evil , the animals you speak of were of such physical strength that their abortive offspring, after, as your sect believes, the world was formed of them, fell from heaven to earth, according to you, and could not die.
If blindness is an evil , they could see; if deafness, they could hear. If to be nearly or altogether dumb is an evil , their speech was so clear and intelligible, that, as you assert, they decided to make war against God in compliance with an address delivered in their assembly. If sterility is an evil , they were prolific in children. If exile is an evil , they were in their own country, and occupied their own territories. If servitude is an evil , some of them were rulers. If death is an evil , they were alive, and the life was such that, by your statement, even after God was victorious, it was impossible for the mind ever to die.
Can you tell me how it is that in the chief evil so many good things are to be found, the opposites of the evils above mentioned? And if these are not evils , can any substance be an evil , as far as it is a substance? If weakness is not an evil , can a weak body be an evil? If blindness is not an evil , can darkness be an evil? If deafness is not an evil , can a deaf man be an evil? If dumbness is not an evil , can a fish be an evil? If sterility is not an evil , how can we call a barren animal an evil? If exile is not an evil , how can we give that name to an animal in exile, or to an animal sending some one into exile?
If servitude is not an evil , in what sense is a subject animal an evil , or one enforcing subjection? If death is not an evil , in what sense is a mortal animal an evil , or one causing death? Or if these are evils , must we not give the name of good things to bodily strength, sight, hearing, persuasive speech, fertility, native land, liberty, life, all which you hold to exist in that kingdom of evil , and yet venture to call it the perfection of evil? Once more, if, as has never been denied, unsuitableness is an evil , what can be more suitable than those elements to their respective animals — the darkness to serpents, the waters to swimming creatures, the winds to flying creatures, the fire to voracious animals, the smoke to soaring animals?
Such is the harmony which you describe as existing in the race of strife; such the order in the seat of confusion. If what is hurtful is an evil , I do not repeat the strong objection already stated, that no hurt can be suffered where no good exists; but if that is not so clear, one thing at least is easily seen and understood as following from the acknowledged truth , that what is hurtful is an evil.
The smoke in that region did not hurt bipeds: it produced them, and nourished and sustained them without injury in their birth, their growth, and their rule. But now, when the evil has some good mixed with it, the smoke has become more hurtful, so that we, who certainly are bipeds, instead of being sustained by it, are blinded, and suffocated, and killed by it.
Could the mixture of good have given such destructiveness to evil elements? Could there be such confusion in the divine government? In the other cases, at least, how is it that we find that congruity which misled your author and induced him to fabricate falsehoods?
Why does darkness agree with serpents, and waters with swimming creatures, and winds with flying creatures, though the fire burns up quadrupeds, and smoke chokes us? Then, again, have not serpents very sharp sight, and do they not love the sunshine, and abound most where the calmness of the air prevents the clouds from gathering much or often? How very absurd that the natives and lovers of darkness should live most comfortably and agreeably where the clearest light is enjoyed!
Or if you say that it is the heat rather than the light that they enjoy, it would be more reasonable to assign to fire serpents, which are naturally of rapid motion, than the slow-going asp. Besides, all must admit that light is agreeable to the eyes of the asp, for they are compared to an eagle's eyes. But enough of the lower animals. Let us, I pray , attend to what is true of ourselves without persisting in error , and so our minds shall be disentangled from silly and mischievous falsehoods. For is it not intolerable perversity to say that in the race of darkness, where there was no mixture of light, the biped animals had so sound and strong, so incredible force of eyesight, that even in their darkness they could see the perfectly pure light as you represent it of the kingdom of God?
For, according to you, even these beings could see this light, and could gaze at it, and study it, and delight in it, and desire it; whereas our eyes, after mixture with light, with the chief good, yea, with God , have become so tender and weak, that we can neither see anything in the dark, nor bear to look at the sun, but, after looking, lose sight of what we could see before. The same remarks are applicable if we take corruption to be an evil , which no one doubts. The smoke did not corrupt that race of animals, though it corrupts animals now.
Not to go over all the particulars, which would be tedious, and is not necessary, the living creatures of your imaginary description were so much less liable to corruption than animals are now, that their abortive and premature offspring, cast headlong from heaven to earth, both lived and were productive, and could band together again, having, forsooth, their original vigor, because they were conceived before good was mixed with the evil ; for, after this mixture, the animals born are, according to you, those which we now see to be very feeble and easily giving way to corruption.
Can any one persist in the belief of error like this, unless he fails to see these things, or is affected by your habit and association in such an amazing way as to be proof against all the force of reasoning? Now that I have shown, as I think, how much darkness and error is in your opinions about good and evil things in general, let us examine now those three symbols which you extol so highly, and boast of as excellent observances.
What then are those three symbols? That of the mouth, that of the hands, and that of the breast. What does this mean? That man, we are told, should be pure and innocent in mouth, in hands, and in breast. But what if he sins with eyes, ears, or nose? What if he hurts some one with his heels, or perhaps kills him? How can he be reckoned criminal when he has not sinned with mouth, hands, or breast? But, it is replied, by the mouth we are to understand all the organs of sense in the head; by the hands, all bodily actions; by the breast, all lustful tendencies. To what, then, do you assign blasphemies?
To the mouth or to the hand? For blasphemy is an action of the tongue. And if all actions are to be classed under one head, why should you join together the actions of the hands and the feet, and not those of the tongue. Do you wish to separate the action of the tongue, as being for the purpose of expressing something, from actions which are not for this purpose, so that the symbol of the hands should mean abstinence from all evil actions which are not for the purpose of expressing something?
But then, what if some one sins by expressing something with his hands, as is done in writing or in some significant gesture? This cannot be assigned to the tongue and the mouth, for it is done by the hands. When you have three symbols of the mouth, the hands, and the breast, it is quite inadmissible to charge against the mouth sins found in the hands. And if you assign action in general to the hands, there is no reason for including under this the action of the feet and not that of the tongue.
Do you see how the desire of novelty, with its attendant error , lands you in great difficulties? For you find it impossible to include purification of all sins in these three symbols , which you set forth as a kind of new classification. Classify as you please, omit what you please, we must discuss the doctrines you insist upon most. You say that the symbol of the mouth implies refraining from all blasphemy.
But blasphemy is speaking evil of good things. So usually the word blasphemy is applied only to speaking evil of God ; for as regards man there is uncertainty, but God is without controversy good. If, then, you are proved guilty of saying worse things of God than any one else says, what becomes of your famous symbol of the mouth?
The evidence is not obscure, but clear and obvious to every understanding, and irresistible, the more so that no one can remain in ignorance of it, that God is incorruptible, immutable, liable to no injury, to no want, to no weakness, to no misery. All this the common sense of rational beings perceives, and even you assent when you hear it. But when you begin to relate your fables, that God is corruptible, and mutable, and subject to injury, and exposed to want and weakness, and not secure from misery, this is what you are blind enough to teach, and what some are blind enough to believe.
And this is not all; for, according to you, God is not only corruptible, but corrupted; not only changeable, but changed; not only subject to injury, but injured; not only liable to want, but in want; not only possibly, but actually weak; not only exposed to misery, but miserable. You say that the soul is God , or a part of God. I do not see how it can be part of God without being God. A part of gold is gold; of silver silver; of stone stone; and, to come to greater things, part of earth is earth, part of water is water, and of air air; and if you take part from fire, you will not deny it to be fire; and part of light can be nothing but light.
Why then should part of God not be God? Has God a jointed body, like man and the lower animals? For part of man is not man. I will deal with each of these opinions separately. If you view God as resembling light, you must admit that part of God is God. Hence, when you make the soul part of God , though you allow it to be corrupted as being foolish, and changed as having once been wise, and in want as needing health, and feeble as needing medicine, and miserable as desiring happiness , all these things you profanely attribute to God. Or if you deny these things of the mind , it follows that the Spirit is not required to lead the soul into truth , since it is not in folly; nor is the soul renewed by true religion, since it does not need renewal; nor is it perfected by your symbols , since it is already perfect; nor does God give it assistance, since it does not need it; nor is Christ its physician, since it is in health; nor does it require the promise of happiness in another life.
Why then is Jesus called the deliverer, according to His own words in the Gospel , "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed? Therefore, according to you, God , since part of God is God , is both corrupted by folly, and is changed by falling, and is injured by the loss of perfection, and is in need of help, and is weakened by disease, and bowed down with misery, and subject to disgraceful bondage.
Again, if part of God is not God , still He is not incorrupt when His part is corrupted, nor unchanged when there is change in any part, nor uninjured when He is not perfect in every part, nor free from want when He is busily endeavoring to recover part of Himself, nor quite whole when He has a weak part, nor perfectly happy when any part is suffering misery, nor entirely free when any part is under bondage. These are conclusions to which you are driven, because you say that the soul , which you see to be in such a calamitous condition, is part of God.
If you can succeed in making your sect abandon these and many similar opinions, then you may speak of your mouth being free from blasphemies. That God is the supreme good, and that than which nothing can be or can be conceived better, we must either understand or believe , if we wish to keep clear of blasphemy. There is a relation of numbers which cannot possibly be impaired or altered, nor can any nature by any amount of violence prevent the number which comes after one from being the double of one.
This can in no way be changed; and yet you represent God as changeable! This relation preserves its integrity inviolable; and you will not allow God an equality even in this!
Let some race of darkness take in the abstract the number three, consisting of indivisible units, and divide it into two equal parts. Your mind perceives that no hostility could effect this. And can that which is unable to injure a numerical relation injure God? If it could not, what possible necessity could there be for a part of him to be mixed with evil , and driven into such miseries?
For this gives rise to the question, which used to throw us into great perplexity even when we were your zealous disciples , nor could we find any answer — what the race of darkness would have done to God , supposing He had refused to fight with it at the cost of such calamity to part of Himself. For if God would not have suffered any loss by remaining quiet, we thought it hard that we had been sent to endure so much. Again, if He would have suffered, His nature cannot have been incorruptible, as it behooves the nature of God to be.
Sometimes the answer was, that it was not for the sake of escaping evil or avoiding injury, but that God in His natural goodness wished to bestow the blessing of order on a disturbed and disordered nature. For this goodness of His to the hostile race proved most pernicious to His own subjects. Besides, if God's nature could not be corrupted nor changed, neither could any destructive influence corrupt or change us; and the order to be bestowed on the race of strangers might have been bestowed without robbing us of it.
Since those times, however, another answer has appeared which I heard recently at Carthage. For one, whom I wish much to see brought out of this error , when reduced to this same dilemma, ventured to say that the kingdom had its own limits, which might be invaded by a hostile race, though God Himself could not be injured. But this is a reply which your founder would never consent to give; for he would be likely to see that such an opinion would lead to a still speedier demolition of his heresy.
And in fact any one of average intellect , who hears that in this nature part is subject to injury and part not, will at once perceive that this makes not two but three natures — one violable, a second inviolable, and a third violating. Having every day in your mouth these blasphemies which come from your heart, you ought not to continue holding up the symbol of the mouth as something wonderful, to ensnare the ignorant.
But perhaps you think the symbol of the mouth excellent and admirable because you do not eat flesh or drink wine. But what is your end in this? For according as the end we have in view in our actions, on account of which we do whatever we do, is not only not culpable but also praiseworthy, so only can our actions merit any praise. If the end we have regard to in any performance is unlawful and blameworthy, the performance itself will be unhesitatingly condemned as improper.
We are told of Catiline that he could bear cold, thirst, and hunger. This the vile miscreant had in common with our apostles. What then distinguishes the parricide from our apostles but the precisely opposite end which he followed? He bore these things in order to gratify his fierce and ungoverned passions ; they, on the other hand, in order to restrain these passions and subdue them to reason. You often say, when you are told of the great number of Catholic virgins , a she-mule is a virgin. This, indeed, is said in ignorance of the Catholic system, and is not applicable.
Still, what you mean is that this continence is worthless unless it leads, on right principles, to an end of high excellence. Catholic Christians might also compare your abstinence from wine and flesh to that of cattle and many small birds, as likewise of countless sorts of worms. But, not to be impertinent like you, I will not make this comparison prematurely, but will first examine your end in what you do. For I suppose I may safely take it as agreed on, that in such customs the end is the thing to look to.
Therefore, if your end is to be frugal and to restrain the appetite which finds gratification in eating and drinking, I assent and approve. But this is not the case. You cannot surely be so blind as not to put the man of the little lard and wine above this glutton! This is the true view; but your doctrine sounds very differently.
For one of your elect distinguished by the three symbols may live like the second person in this description, and though he may be reproved by one or two of the more sedate, he cannot be condemned as abusing the symbols. But should he sup with the other person, and moisten his lips with a morsel of rancid bacon, or refresh them with a drink of spoilt wine, he is pronounced a transgressor of the symbol , and by the judgment of your founder is consigned to hell , while you, though wondering, must assent.hireremodel.com/1322.php
Manichean | Definition of Manichean at ysapukulof.tk
Will you not discard these errors? Will you not listen to reason? Will you not offer some little resistance to the force of habit? Is not such doctrine most unreasonable? Is it not insanity? But, you reply, the apostle says, "It is good , brethren, neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine. For at the time when the apostle wrote, the flesh of sacrifices was often sold in the market.
And because wine, too, was used in libations to the gods of the Gentiles , many weaker brethren, accustomed to purchase such things, preferred to abstain entirely from flesh and wine rather than run the risk of having fellowship, as they considered it, with idols , even ignorantly. And this is not a mere theory, but is clearly taught in the epistles of the apostle himself. For you are in the habit of quoting only the words, "It is good , brethren, neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine," without adding what follows, "nor anything whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended or is made weak.
This is evident from the preceding and succeeding context. The passage is a long one to quote, but, for the sake of those who are indolent in reading and searching the sacred Scriptures, we must give the whole of it. For one believes that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eats herbs.
Let not him that eats despise him that eats not; and let not him that eats not judge him that eats, for God has received him. Who are you that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he stands or falls; yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regards the day, regards it to the Lord.
He that eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he that eats not, to the Lord he eats not, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no man dies to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both lived, and died and rose again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you set at nought your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God.
For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. Let us not, therefore, judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block, or occasion to fall, in his brother's way. I know , and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus , that there is nothing common of itself: but to him that esteems anything to be common, to him it is common.
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But if your brother be grieved with your meat, now you do not walk charitably. Destroy not him with your meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then our good be evil spoken of. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he who in this serves Christ is acceptable to God , and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things whereby one may edify another. For meat destroys not the work of God.
All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak. Have you faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who condemns not himself in that thing which he allows. And he that distinguishes is damned if he eats, because he eats not of faith : for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself. Is it not clear that what the apostle required was, that the stronger should not eat flesh nor drink wine, because they gave offense to the weak by not going along with them, and made them think that those who in faith judged all things to be pure, did homage to idols in not abstaining from that kind of food and drink? This is also set forth in the following passage of the Epistle to the Corinthians: "As concerning, therefore, the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols , we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, but to us there is but one God , the Father , of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ , by whom are all things, and we by Him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge : for some, with conscience of the idol unto this hour, eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
But meat commends us not to God: for neither, if we eat, shall we abound; neither, if we eat not, shall we suffer want. But take heed, lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that are weak. For if any man see one who has knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not his conscience being weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols ; and through your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience , you sin against Christ.
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh forever, lest I make my brother to offend. Again, in another place: "What say I then? That the idol is anything? Or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table and of the table of devils.
Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man what is another's. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols , eat not for his sake that shows it, and for conscience sake: conscience , I say, not your own, but another's: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? For if I be a partaker with thanksgiving, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether, therefore, you eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offense, neither to the Jews , nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God : even as I please all men in all things not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many that they may be saved.
Be followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. It is clear, then, I think, for what end we should abstain from flesh and wine. The end is threefold: to check indulgence, which is mostly practised in this sort of food, and in this kind of drink goes the length of intoxication; to protect weakness, on account of the things which are sacrificed and offered in libation; and, what is most praiseworthy of all, from love , not to offend the weakness of those more feeble than ourselves, who abstain from these things.
You, again, consider a morsel of meat unclean; whereas the apostle says that all things are clean, but that it is evil to him that eats with offense. And no doubt you are defiled by such food, simply because you think it unclean. For the apostle says, "I know , and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus , that there is nothing common of itself: but to him that esteems anything common, to him it is common.
But it is folly to discuss passages of Scripture with you; for you both mislead people by promising to prove your doctrines, and those books which possess authority to demand our homage you affirm to be corrupted by spurious interpolations. Prove then to me your doctrine that flesh defiles the eater, when it is taken without offending any one, without any weak notions, and without any excess.
It is worth while to take note of the whole reason for their superstitious abstinence, which is given as follows:— Since, we are told, the member of God has been mixed with the substance of evil , to repress it and to keep it from excessive ferocity — for that is what you say — the world is made up of both natures, of good and evil , mixed together. But this part of God is daily being set free in all parts of the world, and restored to its own domain. But in its passage upwards as vapor from earth to heaven, it enters plants, because their roots are fixed in the earth, and so gives fertility and strength to all herbs and shrubs.
From these animals get their food, and, where there is sexual intercourse, fetter in the flesh the member of God , and, turning it from its proper course, they come in the way and entangle it in errors and troubles.
- Chapter 1.— The Supreme Good is that Which is Possessed of Supreme Existence..
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- Manichean - Dictionary Definition : ysapukulof.tk?
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- Manichaean | Definition of Manichaean by Merriam-Webster;
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Flesh, you say, is made up of pollution itself. For, according to you, some portion of that divine part escapes in the eating of vegetables and fruits: it escapes while they undergo the infliction of rubbing, grinding, or cooking, as also of biting or chewing. It escapes, too, in all motions of animals, in the carriage of burdens, in exercise, in toil, or in any sort of action.
It escapes, too, in our rest, when digestion is going on in the body by means of internal heat. And as the divine nature escapes in all these ways, some very unclean dregs remain, from which, in sexual intercourse, flesh is formed. These dregs, however, fly off, in the motions above mentioned, along with what is good in the soul ; for though it is mostly, it is not entirely good.
So, when the soul has left the flesh, the dregs are utterly filthy, and the soul of those who eat flesh is defiled. O the obscurity of the nature of things! How hard to expose falsehood! Who that hears these things, if he is one who has not learned the causes of things, and who, not yet illuminated by any ray of truth , is deceived by material images, would not think them true , precisely because the things spoken of are invisible, and are presented to the mind under the form of visible things, and can be eloquently expressed?
Men of this description exist in numbers and in droves, who are kept from being led away into these errors more by a fear grounded on religious feeling than by reason. I will therefore endeavor, as God may please to enable me, so to refute these errors , as that their falsehood and absurdity will be manifest not only in the judgment of the wise, who reject them on hearing them, but also to the intelligence of the multitude.
Tell me then, first, where you get the doctrine that part of God , as you call it, exists in grain, beans, cabbage, and flowers and fruits. From the beauty of the color, say they, and the sweetness of the taste; this is evident; and as these are not found in rotten substances, we learn that their good has been taken from them. Are they not ashamed to attribute the finding of God to the nose and the palate? But I pass from this. For I will speak, using words in their proper sense; and, as the saying is, this is not so easy in speaking to you. Let us see rather what sort of mind is required to understand this; how, if the presence of good in bodies is shown by their color, the dung of animals, the refuse of flesh itself, has all kinds of bright colors, sometimes white, often golden; and so on, though these are what you take in fruits and flowers as proofs of the presence and indwelling of God.
Why is it that in a rose you hold the red color to be an indication of an abundance of good, while the same color in blood you condemn? Why do you regard with pleasure in a violet the same color which you turn away from in cases of cholera, or of people with jaundice, or in the excrement of infants? Why do you believe the light, shining appearance of oil to be a sign of a plentiful admixture of good, which you readily set about purifying by taking the oil into your throats and stomachs, while you are afraid to touch your lips with a drop of fat, though it has the same shining appearance as oil?
Why do you look upon a yellow melon as part of the treasures of God , and not rancid bacon fat or the yolk of an egg? Why do you think that whiteness in a lettuce proclaims God , and not in milk? So much for colors, as regards which to mention nothing else you cannot compare any flower-clad meadow with the wings and feathers of a single peacock, though these are of flesh and of fleshly origin. Again, if this good is discovered also by smell, perfumes of excellent smell are made from the flesh of some animals. And the smell of food, when cooked along with flesh of delicate flavor, is better than if cooked without it.
Once more, if you think that the things that have a better smell than others are therefore cleaner, there is a kind of mud which you ought to take to your meals instead of water from the cistern; for dry earth moistened with rain has an odor most agreeable to the sense, and this sort of mud has a better smell than rain-water taken by itself. But if we must have the authority of taste to prove the presence in any object of part of God , he must dwell in dates and honey more than in pork, but more in pork than in beans.
Sections in this entry
I grant that He dwells more in a fig than in a liver; but then you must allow that He is more in liver than in beet. And, on this principle, must you not confess that some plants, which none of you can doubt to be cleaner than flesh, receive God from this very flesh, if we are to think of God as mixed with the flavor? For both cabbages taste better when cooked along with flesh; and, while we cannot relish the plants on which cattle feed, when these are turned into milk we think them improved in color, and find them very agreeable to the taste.
Or must we think that good is to be found in greater quantity where the three good qualities — a good color, and smell, and taste — are found together? Then you must not admire and praise flowers so much, as you cannot admit them to be tried at the tribunal of the palate. At least you must not prefer purslain to flesh, since flesh when cooked is superior in color, smell, and taste.
A young pig roasted for your ideas on this subject force us to discuss good and evil with you as if you were cooks and confectioners, instead of men of reading or literary taste is bright in color, and agreeable in smell, and pleasant in taste. Here is a perfect evidence of the presence of the divine substance. You are invited by this threefold testimony, and called on to purify this substance by your sanctity. Make the attack.
Why do you hold back? What objection have you to make. In color alone the excrement of an infant surpasses lentils; in smell alone a roast morsel surpasses a soft green fig; in taste alone a kid when slaughtered surpasses the plant which it fed on when alive: and we have found a kind of flesh in flavor of which all three give evidence. What more do you require? What reply will you make? Why should eating meat make you unclean, if using such monstrosities in discussion does not? And, above all, the rays of the sun, which you surely think more of than all animal or vegetable food, have no smell or taste, and are remarkable among other substances only by their eminently bright color; which is a loud call to you, and an obligation, in spite of yourselves, to place nothing higher than a bright color among the evidences of an admixture of good.
Thus you are forced into this difficulty, that you must acknowledge the part of God as dwelling more in blood, and in the filthy but bright-colored animal refuse which is thrown out in the streets, than in the pale leaves of the olive. If you reply, as you actually do, that olive leaves when burnt give out a flame, which proves the presence of light, while flesh when burnt does not, what will you say of oil, which lights nearly all the lamps in Italy? What of cow dung which surely is more unclean than the flesh , which peasants use when dry as fuel, so that the fire is always at hand, and the liberation of the smoke is always going on?
And if brightness and lustre prove a greater presence of the divine part, why do you yourselves not purify it, why not appropriate it, why not liberate it? For it is found chiefly in flowers, not to speak of blood and countless things almost the same as blood in flesh or coming from it, and yet you cannot feed on flowers. And even if you were to eat flesh, you would certainly not take with your gruel the scales of fish, or some worms and flies, though these all shine with a light of their own in the dark.
What then remains, but that you should cease saying that you have in your eyes, nose, and palate sufficient means of testing the presence of the divine part in material objects? And, without these means, how can you tell not only that there is a greater part of God in plants than in flesh, but that there is any part in plants at all?
Are you led to think this by their beauty — not the beauty of agreeable color, but that of agreement of parts? An excellent reason, in my opinion. For you will never be so bold as to compare twisted pieces of wood with the bodies of animals, which are formed of members answering to one another.
But if you choose the testimony of the senses, as those must do who cannot see with their mind the full force of existence , how do you prove that the substance of good escapes from bodies in course of time , and by some kind of attrition, but because God has gone out of it, according to your view, and has left one place for another? The whole is absurd. But, as far as I can judge, there are no marks or appearances to give rise to this opinion.
For many things plucked from trees, or pulled out of the ground, are the better of some interval of time before we use them for food, as leeks and endive, lettuce, grapes, apples, figs, and some pears; and there are many other things which get a better color when they are not used immediately after being plucked, besides being more wholesome for the body, and having a finer flavor to the palate. But these things should not possess all these excellent and agreeable qualities, if, as you say, they become more destitute of good the longer they are kept after separation from their mother earth.
Animal food itself is better and more fit for use the day after the animal is killed; but this should not be, if, as you hold, it possessed more good immediately after the slaughter than next day, when more of the divine substance had escaped. Who does not know that wine becomes purer and better by age? Nor is it, as you think, more tempting to the destruction of the senses, but more useful for invigorating the body — only let there be moderation, which ought to control everything.
The senses are sooner destroyed by new wine. When the must has been only a short time in the vat, and has begun to ferment, it makes those who look down into it fall headlong, affecting their brain, so that without assistance they would perish. And as regards health, every one knows that bodies are swollen up and injuriously distended by new wine?
Has it these bad properties because there is more good in it? Are they not found in wine when old because a good deal of the divine substance has gone? An absurd thing to say, especially for you, who prove the divine presence by the pleasing effect produced on your eyes, nose, and palate! And what a contradiction it is to make wine the poison of the princes of darkness, and yet to eat grapes! No doubt he would be appalled to learn that there is still a strong Manichaean streak in many modern religions today - especially in their fundamentalist forms.
When the religious right calls scientists agents of evil or claims that those who believe in evolution are in league with the Devil, they are adopting an essentially Manichaean world view. To see things in black and white without realizing that there can be shades of gray, or that not everything is part of a moral dichotomy, is what philosophers call the Manichaean fallacy.
The danger of Manichaean thinking is that it can lead to terrible conclusions. If you believe that you are on the side of absolute good, and that your opponent is on the side of absolute evil, then it is a small step to conclude that any action you take against them is morally justifiable. Manichaeism is the philosophical underpinning behind the most reprehensible idea I know of: that the end justifies the means. That little notion has been responsible for more human misery than just about any other premise.
Once you've demonized the opposition, you can take their land, their property, their freedom, even their lives and still believe you're a good person. How can you not be, when you're on the side of absolute good?
This principle explains the detention, and torture, of suspected terrorists, because the term 'terrorist' has taken on a Manichaean connotation equal to that of 'Nazi' or 'devil-worshiper'. That puts them in interesting company, as the Mullahs who run Iran certainly do, and Osama bin Laden obviously does. Manichaean dualism also strikes me as intellectually lazy. If you make blanket condemnations, you don't have to do the hard work of trying to understand your opponent's arguments, or of making the difficult distinction between those who are truly malicious and others who are merely misguided.
You also never question the actions, and intentions, of your own side. If I were an evil person, this kind of laziness would offer me a great place to hide. When your enemies are quick to condemn your entire nation, or religion, it's not likely they will go after you or any other individual villain.
Moreover, you can probably count on your own countrymen to shield you, no matter what you've done, since they are, after all, being lumped in with you. Collective guilt is a huge mistake; it makes it much less likely that the actual people responsible for atrocities will be called to account. Besides, collective guilt is just another manifestation of the Manichaean fallacy. Nations and religions and ethnic groups are not evil; only individuals are. But the greatest danger of Manichaean thinking is that it begets more of the same.
If your enemies appear to hate and vilify you, then you are more likely to feel the same way about them. And I am afraid this may be happening right now, to us. I'm sure that great evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins have far more experience contending with creationists and fundamentalists than I do, so I suppose I ought to listen to them when they say that we shouldn't debate with those who oppose the teaching of evolution or who argue that a creationist view deserves equal place in science education, because doing so gives our enemies a platform and an air of credibility.
But every time I hear such an argument, the ghost of the Manichaeans haunts me. Refusing to talk with your opponents sounds like George Bush refusing to talk to the Iranians; if it isn't Manichaeism, it's the first step on a very slippery slope that leads there. And it's also lazy: it makes no distinction between those who will never be convinced - either because they believe without thinking, or are using fundamentalism cynically for political purposes - and those who could be convinced that what they believe and what we as scientists know to be true can peacefully coexist.
It also feeds the Manichaean fervor of the fundamentalists, who can then argue that, if we aren't agents of evil, why are we refusing to meet them on even terms? If you think I'm reading too much into Dawkins' objection, his most recent book, The God Delusion , makes me pretty sure I am not.
The book takes a very intolerant tone, scorning not just religion but its believers. Calling religion "nonsense" may be commendable candor, but I don't think it serves science well, especially today, to drift towards a Manichaean view of religion.
I think many people who adhere to religious beliefs have done horrible things in the name of the God they profess to worship, but I also think many others have done much good for the same reasons. To lump both groups together is to forgo any possibility of a dialog, or maybe even an alliance. And it is just such an alliance that the great biologist Edward O. In it, he suggests that people of faith may in fact be the natural allies of biologists when it comes to matters of ecosystem conservation, climate protection, and the preservation of endangered species.
His arguments are well reasoned, impassioned, and wonderfully anti-Manichaean: he looks for connections between people the way he often has between fields of inquiry; he is inclusionary rather than divisive. Whether you agree with him or not, his approach is uplifiting. Science is under siege today as it has never been before in my lifetime.
MANICHAEISM: AN OVERVIEW
Genomics is partly responsible, since the vast knowledge this branch of biology has provided forms the basis for many of the things that cause religious believers the most unease. As a consequence, we often appear to be surrounded by calls for the banning of this and the restriction of that. But if we let our defensiveness lead us to dualism, adopting an 'us-versus-them' viewpoint where 'they' are a nebulous group that is the object of our blanket condemnation, then we are doing exactly what we profess to disdain.
If we demonize the opposition, substitute scorn for understanding, ridicule for dialog, and disregard individual differences in the name of some purity of approach, it doesn't matter how much we console ourselves with the thought that we are, after all, on the right side.
There is one thing the failure of Manichaeism in all its guises should teach us: you are what you do.