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Peter123

Help My Unbelief

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Peter123

Hello Everybody,

I converted to the Catholic church in college 4 years ago, my problem is that I realized that I don't believe in Christianity anymore. I have two reasons: 1. I think Christians have an inaccurate understanding of the human person and 2. I'm only 40% sure the Resurrection happened because history is hard to be too sure about (I was an American history major in college).

The part about human nature that I think is inaccurate is that Christianity believes people are much more rational than we actually are. That when shown the truth, people know it is truth, they just refuse to go along with it because of moral defect. That goes against what I know of people. People are rational, but we are also all a mixture of history, birth and logic. People don't believe in Christianity, not because they are sinful, but because they don't think it is correct.

 

When I told a priest about my troubles, he said "you must have chosen to stop believing." I don't think that's correct. I chose to acknowledge that my beliefs changed and that I'm not entirely happy about it, but I did not say "I choose to reject God almighty even though I know it is true."

 

I'm Catholic, I pretend to believe around friends, I just don't believe that Catholicism accurately describes God's nature at this point.

If Christianity can't get human nature right, how can it get God's nature correct?

 

A little help please.

 

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Gary david
21 minutes ago, Peter123 said:

Hello Everybody,

I converted to the Catholic church in college 4 years ago, my problem is that I realized that I don't believe in Christianity anymore. I have two reasons: 1. I think Christians have an inaccurate understanding of the human person and 2. I'm only 40% sure the Resurrection happened because history is hard to be too sure about (I was an American history major in college).

The part about human nature that I think is inaccurate is that Christianity believes people are much more rational than we actually are. That when shown the truth, people know it is truth, they just refuse to go along with it because of moral defect. That goes against what I know of people. People are rational, but we are also all a mixture of history, birth and logic. People don't believe in Christianity, not because they are sinful, but because they don't think it is correct.

 

When I told a priest about my troubles, he said "you must have chosen to stop believing." I don't think that's correct. I chose to acknowledge that my beliefs changed and that I'm not entirely happy about it, but I did not say "I choose to reject God almighty even though I know it is true."

 

I'm Catholic, I pretend to believe around friends, I just don't believe that Catholicism accurately describes God's nature at this point.

If Christianity can't get human nature right, how can it get God's nature correct?

 

A little help please.

 

Hi. I have read your thoughts and wasn't certain just how to respond to them. I needed to look within myself to even begin to attempt an answer here. I can only answer your question against myself. If I looked for proof of the resurrection I know I would fail miserably. I could not prove anything about it. It all becomes quite meaningless without a grain of faith. Finding God is not so easy looking for proof of His existence in books or even words from others. If I ponder my existence and all that is around me and attribute this to nature or happenstance, it makes no sense at all. Yet if I am still and just look at a single flower I can see the hand of God allowing this to be. I guess the journey to finding faith in God will be found in the smallest of things and of thoughts. I see that without my faith in God the other alternative is to put my faith in dust for that's all there is here on Earth. Faith is just like a seed. You plant it with love because you love and no other reason. Kind of like helping a child in trouble because you cared enough to do that and what is returned is the expression of God's love within yourself, a feeling difficult to express. It really does begin with the smallest of things. Faith will also be found when life is given a very difficult trial, but better to have faith before that might happen, but as long as faith is found that's all that really matters.

  Well I could obviously go on here for a very long time but I think I have given you a general idea about where I stand on your question. These are my personal opinions and I am sure there are others far more qualified to answer your question better than I. I certainly hope that this even in the smallest way may help you on your lifes journey.

  May you find God in everything. God bless you.....

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Seven77

 I'm not sure that you really know what the Church teaches  about human nature.  Perhaps it is your perception about what is taught about human nature. Human beings have the capacity to make decisions, we have free will. We can choose to accept truths or reject them. I think we take this into account. Now, we can know what is true… And we can either conform ourselves to these truths or not. It is a choice to believe or not to believe.

This is where faith comes in. Ultimately we need the gift of faith that we may truly understand. .We need divine assistance  to arrive at what cannot be obtained by reason alone. And-- again, you have free will. You can choose to believe or not.

Christianity is first and foremost the revelation of God. We know about the nature of God because he has revealed it to us in and through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  We can arrive at truths about God, that he must be all-knowing, all good, all-powerful, that he is the "unmoved mover," etc. Pre-Christian philosophers arrived these conclusions. But it is only because God has revealed himself to us, that we can really can understand something of who he is. He knows himself perfectly and shares this knowledge with us so that we can actually come to participate in his very life and be in relationship with him.

 I guess this leads to your other question. Can we actually know the truth? We can because it exists. There  is real historical evidence for the existence of Christ. Did the   Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ occur? There are eyewitness accounts testifying to these things. Why did people die for these beliefs? How is it possible for it all to have continued for 2000 years plus?

History is too difficult to be sure about? I'm not sure about that.

Here are some things that you might find helpful:

 A study on the theological virtue of faith by a professor of philosophy at Christendom College, Dr. Cuddeback:

https://instituteofcatholicculture.org/talk/de-fidei/

Another good one by the same philosopher, on human nature and virtue:

https://instituteofcatholicculture.org/talk/human-nature-and-the-virtuous-life/

And for good measure, great article about the historicity of the resurrection by Father Robert Spitzer:

https://www.magiscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Evidence-of-Resurrection-NT-Wright.pdf

God bless you.

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Peter123
9 minutes ago, Seven77 said:

And-- again, you have free will. You can choose to believe or not.

This is the crux of the matter, this is the Catholic understanding of human nature, but not my experience of human nature. People are constrained in what they believe. Most Mormon's stay Mormon for a reason. I'm a weirdo convert, I'm abnormal. Most people don't do that. Most people don't change their minds on important things past a certain age.

Why the above is threatening to my faith is that if my conception of human nature is true, than God put in place a poorly thought out path to salvation. I remember reading in the Gospel when Jesus told the 70 to go out and preach. I thought to myself "that will barley work for convincing anybody." And I think I'm right, 2000 years later and there are less Catholics than Muslims.

 

Thank you for your replies and links.

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Seven77
33 minutes ago, Peter123 said:

This is the crux of the matter, this is the Catholic understanding of human nature, but not my experience of human nature. People are constrained in what they believe. Most Mormon's stay Mormon for a reason. I'm a weirdo convert, I'm abnormal. Most people don't do that. Most people don't change their minds on important things past a certain age.

Why the above is threatening to my faith is that if my conception of human nature is true, than God put in place a poorly thought out path to salvation. I remember reading in the Gospel when Jesus told the 70 to go out and preach. I thought to myself "that will barley work for convincing anybody." And I think I'm right, 2000 years later and there are less Catholics than Muslims.

 

Thank you for your replies and links.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying exactly. Do you believe that you have a free will? Why or why not? Let's start there.

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Peter123

I believe that people have a lot of free will, but that it is more constrained than believed in Catholicism.

 

To use an analogy: sports. What sport did you play growing up? What sports do you think are good sports? Which once's do you even know about? I played soft ball and soccer as a kid, because they were common. I think baseball is a good sport (I'm American, from New England), but I don't feel all that attached to horse racing. I currently golf sometimes. 

 

As an American I have contact with many other sports I could play, for example boccie, curling and mauy thai, but since I as an individual don't have close familial or friend contact with those sports, I've never been all that interested and picked them up. Some like Gaelic Huerling sound fun, but I'm too nervous to start. 

 

The context in which I live did not eliminate my ability to pick up boccie or Gaelic Huerling (although I can't horse race), but I'm much less likely to pick them up than if I was born in Ireland or if I was my Italian-American cousins. 

 

To bring the analogy home, people have a lot of free will, but it is conditioned by their context. I find Catholics speak of converting and repenting as if it was obvious, but for most people outside of their context it is not obvious. Why this all matters for God is that 1. either a lot of people go to hell for a circumstance of birth, or 2. even if it doesn't count against them, their circumstance makes it very difficult to participate in the god ordained religious lifestyle they should be on.

 

Does that make sense? Thanks for helping, it means a lot.

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BarbaraTherese
Quote

To bring the analogy home, people have a lot of free will, but it is conditioned by their context.  

Hi Peter 123 and welcome to Phatmass,

We are, in an ideal sense, completely free to say Yes or No to anything whatsoever.  If someone has some exterior type force forcing/inclining them as it were them into one direction or the other, then the will is not completely free.  This is what The Church calls: 

" The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders"  CCC #1860 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a8.htm

Quote

 I find Catholics speak of converting and repenting as if it was obvious, but for most people outside of their context it is not obvious.

 I can hear what you are saying - "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." Hebrews Ch 11 http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__P11Q.HTM is the context for the faithful Catholic.  The context for one not gifted with Faith is different.  I think that we Catholics can take for granted our Faith without realizing the free, great and totally unearned gift that it is.  We can become unable to hear what the other is saying i.e. their own particular context as very different from our own.  We can become unable to step out of our own context and empathise with the other.  This is a Catholic failing rather often I tend to think, while I am in no way whatsoever even remotely close to even an iota of infallibility.

Be that as it may, The Good Lord can and will indeed empathise with the other.  There is a beautiful and telling line in The Psalms........... praise The Lord my soul "Put not your trust in princes, in mortal man,who cannot save." (Psalm 146)

Quote

Why this all matters for God is that 1. either a lot of people go to hell for a circumstance of birth, or 2. even if it doesn't count against them, their circumstance makes it very difficult to participate in the god ordained religious lifestyle they should be on.

 I do not believe that "people (will) go to hell for a circumstance of birth".  It is almost to state that The Good God is not Just.  

However, the following is where I stumble and my question to you please @Peter123 -

What is this "religious lifestyle they should be on?"  How do you define this "religious lifestyle"?

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BarbaraTherese

Catholic Dictionary https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33656

FREE WILL

Definition

The power of the will to determine itself and to act of itself, without compulsion from within or coercion from without. It is the faculty of an intelligent being to act or not act, to act this way or another way, and is therefore essentially different from the operations of irrational beings that merely respond to a stimulus and are conditioned by sensory objects

_________________

 

I am wondering if your core problem is not so much free will and The Resurrection as a way of life you find too difficult?

Have you read The Catholic Catechism: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

 

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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Peter123
5 hours ago, BarbaraTherese said:

What is this "religious lifestyle they should be on?"  How do you define this "religious lifestyle"?

I was not clear enough. The religious lifestyle is Catholicism. Even though people outside the church are saved (I'm not a Fienist), they are at the same time deprived of the good thing that is the life of the sacraments. 

5 hours ago, BarbaraTherese said:

I am wondering if your core problem is not so much free will and The Resurrection as a way of life you find too difficult?

 

Not really. Catholicism is easier than the alternative that I'm contemplating at the moment which is Sri Vaishanvism. Since I'm Catholic I get to confess my sins and be forgiven, in Hinduism there is not corresponding way to get rid of bad karma. Plus I'd have to really restrict my diet and be a lacto-vegetarian as well as look like a weirdo because I converted to Hinduism.

 

I'm currently looking into Pope Francis' comments on Karl Rahner, I'm finding that helpful because it begins to make sense of a diversity of religions.

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BarbaraTherese

Since you regard the life of The Sacraments as a good and yourself as a Catholic and finally, because you are looking into Pope Francis' comments on Karl Rahner, I think you are on a positive/safe road.  I am including in "The Sacraments as a good" that you do believe in the Real Presence.  If you do believe in the latter, then surely you believe in The Resurrection, without which our faith is foolishness.

Seems to me that you are searching for Truth as Truth first has to be searching for you.  At the moment, you might have difficulties only here and there and are trying to sort things out for yourself?

I don't understand what you mean about the lifestyle of a Catholic.  Do you mean committing yourself to The Ten Commandments and the Five Precepts of The Church as your way of life as well as confessing The Creed..........or do you mean something else?

Incidentally, I am not well educated and have no idea what a Fienist and a Sri Vaishanvist might be except that they are (possibly) not Catholic/contrary to Catholic teaching.

Prayer for your hopes and intentions, please keep me in your own prayers.

57 minutes ago, Peter123 said:

I'm currently looking into Pope Francis' comments on Karl Rahner, I'm finding that helpful because it begins to make sense of a diversity of religions.

You are starting to get answers to your questions/difficulties.

 

Do you have a relationship with God?  We call this prayer, although sadly when we say prayer all sorts of stereotypes can put us into various compartments, within various boundaries.  Rather, prayer is relationship, relating to and relating with.

Edited by BarbaraTherese

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BarbaraTherese

 

REsurrectionAndLife.jpg

 

1 Corinthians Ch 15: ............

"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, then empty is our preaching;

empty, too, your faith.

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Peter123

 

On 6/10/2019 at 5:02 AM, BarbaraTherese said:

Do you have a relationship with God?  We call this prayer, although sadly when we say prayer all sorts of stereotypes can put us into various compartments, within various boundaries.  Rather, prayer is relationship, relating to and relating with.

I pray each day. It's kind of strange when most people have doubts about God it is about if He exists, for me it is His nature. That God exists is as apparent to me as that math works or that the world is real. What I struggle with is trying to understand Him.

 

To me it makes sense that an incarnation would happen from a logical perspective of God's nature. If he loves us, he will reach out to us. I think something that I struggle with is the diversity of religions. Why does he allow them? Choices are much more muddied because of that. Hinduism makes sense of the diversity of religions, but I find my Catholicism has more difficulty making sense of it. 

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BarbaraTherese
35 minutes ago, Peter123 said:

 

I pray each day. It's kind of strange when most people have doubts about God it is about if He exists, for me it is His nature. That God exists is as apparent to me as that math works or that the world is real. What I struggle with is trying to understand Him.

 

To me it makes sense that an incarnation would happen from a logical perspective of God's nature. If he loves us, he will reach out to us. I think something that I struggle with is the diversity of religions. Why does he allow them? Choices are much more muddied because of that. Hinduism makes sense of the diversity of religions, but I find my Catholicism has more difficulty making sense of it. 

Hi again Peter

Being a person of prayer daily, I know that your searching will have answers to satisfy and fulfill your quest, your journey with God.

I know what you mean about the existence of God as apparent as "math works" or that "the world is real".  One knows, which is a step beyond belief, but one is unable to explain that very personal experience of God, that is a knowledge.  If God is the Ultimate Mystery and mystery is something we cannot understand, then for me it has been a matter of letting go and letting God be God, The Ultimate Mystery.

I must admit that I have never found The Incarnation logical.  It overwhelms me and it humbles me and all my faculties.  It literally boggles my mind! As for the diversity of religions, I do not understand the why of it all but I do admire the total dedication and piety of many of those who embrace religions other than Catholicism.  I hold quite personally too that The Good Lord does not mind if He is called by other names - we judge by appearances but The Lord knows the heart.   While I do hold that The Gospel as Catholicism answers all questions and puts all things into perspective including on the nature of God and on a philosophical level too.  If Catholicism has difficulty from your perspective of making sense of the diversity (and I think much of your pondering is possibly on a philosophical level), then for me it is a "so be it" at this stage anyway if your perspective is accurate.  Catholicism is organic and therefore it changes, it grows including in knowledge and understanding.  For me, the diversity of religions and the why of it all is another mystery in the Ultimate Mystery of our Triune God.  Basically, I am a simple person and what I cannot understand, for me finds refuge in the Ultimate Mystery of God.

The above probably was not too helpful for you.  I think you are searching on a philosophical level, which is something I rarely grasp, if then.  It is a hit and miss with me........and in all honesty probably more miss than hit :) 

There are far more educated members than me on Phatmass although very sadly some have either dropped out or rarely visit and contribute.  We are far less active than we were. Have you tried Catholic Answers Forums?  Heaps of educated members there on a very active board.

I am hoping that some of our educated members here on Phatmass might be able to offer more than I am able to offer.

God bless and keep you and grant you His Peace and His Joy, fulfillment in your journey.

 

Edit: Peter, you might find the following helpful.  It is the Catholic Catechism simplified on Divine Providence/how The Good Lord goes about caring for His creation.  You might find food for thought in striving to understand God, although to me trying to understand Ultimate Mystery is impossible and a contradiction in terms :) 

https://www.catholicity.com/catechism/divine_providence.html

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