Papal Infallibility: the problem of irreconcilable religious certainties

7:00 pm CDT - 9:00 pm CDT

Roeland Park Community Center


Richard Childs, MD
KC Friends of Jung President Emeritus

The 2014 Barbara Cook Memorial Lecture

The Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility was officially proclaimed in 1870 at the Church’s ecumenical council Vatican I. The doctrine was intensely controversial at the time, and it continues to provoke controversy today. This presentation will examine the history of Vatican I and show how it relates to the wider problem of competing religious claims. In recent decades conflict among incompatible religious views has become a threat to civilization itself.

When a person feels absolutely certain about something as grand as the existential uncertainties of life, it makes that person feel good. This good feeling is associated with observable changes in the brain. These changes are very similar to those observed when a person is under the influence of harmful habit-forming drugs or other substances. One can thus get “high” on religious certainty as well as “high” on drugs. The consequences of either of these mental states may be harmful to the individual and to society.

With brief video clips, this presentation will show examples of persons who are under the influence of different religious persuasions.

Americans are justly proud of the “freedom of religion” guaranteed by our constitution. But this freedom can be misconstrued to mean that religion is to be protected from any challenge or critical examination. Religious faith, often regarded as a virtue, is too often a threat to peace and well-being.

How can we protect ourselves from these dangers?

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