Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Theologian in Training

Atheism

Recommended Posts

Theologian in Training
As most of you know, I have started an apologetics class here in the parish, and, down the line, because of it is growing in popularity, plan to deal with atheism. I have read a lot of book on atheism and by prominent atheists, Sam Harris "Letter to a Christian Nation," Richard Dawkins "God Delusion" etc. but nothing compares to speaking to one directly. I have not been around long enough to know if we have any on the board, but would welcome conversation and dialogue to any degree by any atheists, former or current.

thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr.Cat
[quote][b]Saint Thomas Aquinas[/b] ( [url="http://saints.sqpn.com/saintt03.htm"]http://saints.sqpn.com/saintt03.htm[/url] )
"On the contrary No one can mentally admit the opposite of what is self-evident; as the Philosopher (Metaph. iv, lect. vi) states concerning the first principles of demonstration. But the opposite of the proposition "God is" can be mentally admitted: "The fool said in his heart, There is no God" (Psalm 52:1). Therefore, that God exists is not self-evident." (Summa Theologica)
[url="http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm"]http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm[/url][/quote]I went through a phase in my life where I went first through agnosticism, secondly through atheism, finally into anti-theism, until the phase came to a close. The whole phase took in my estimation about five to seven years. In my personal observation, some people take this as a shock, and still others refuse to believe it.

People who are agnostics and atheists have their own reasons for believing/disbelieving and criticizing/doubting, which it is possible some of these people don’t even really know why themselves. In my personal experience they could all follow back to the question, “is God self-evident?”

Too much could be written though, just a small reflection.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Theologian in Training
[quote name='Mr.CatholicCat' post='1660636' date='Sep 21 2008, 06:59 PM']I went through a phase in my life where I went first through agnosticism, secondly through atheism, finally into anti-theism, until the phase came to a close. The whole phase took in my estimation about five to seven years. In my personal observation, some people take this as a shock, and still others refuse to believe it.

People who are agnostics and atheists have their own reasons for believing/disbelieving and criticizing/doubting, which it is possible some of these people don’t even really know why themselves. In my personal experience they could all follow back to the question, “is God self-evident?”

Too much could be written though, just a small reflection.[/quote]

But, usually when something is self-evident, it is true without proof, however, there exists many proofs for the existence of God, widely debated, to be sure, but proofs nonetheless. How would that fit then?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cmotherofpirl
My atheism was a direct result of the problem of pain and evil. How can any God permit the horrors of pain and suffering of his supposed children.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Theologian in Training
[quote name='cmotherofpirl' post='1660703' date='Sep 21 2008, 09:22 PM']My atheism was a direct result of the problem of pain and evil. How can any God permit the horrors of pain and suffering of his supposed children.[/quote]

That seems to be one of the biggest issues that atheists seem to have, more common, it seems, than anything else. Why is that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cmotherofpirl
[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1660705' date='Sep 21 2008, 09:25 PM']That seems to be one of the biggest issues that atheists seem to have, more common, it seems, than anything else. Why is that?[/quote]
Because if God is "love" then what kind of love results in pain of innocent children?Have you ever seen a 5 year old who was hydrocephalic and strapped to a chair for life, or cared for a retarded teenager in a wheelchair who enjoys attacking their caretaker for fun, or watch a child suffer and die from a brain tumor? Where is God when babies are raped, or parent tortured?
Pain is the biggest argument against a loving God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Theologian in Training
[quote name='cmotherofpirl' post='1660719' date='Sep 21 2008, 09:38 PM']Because if God is "love" then what kind of love results in pain of innocent children?Have you ever seen a 5 year old who was hydrocephalic and strapped to a chair for life, or cared for a retarded teenager in a wheelchair who enjoys attacking their caretaker for fun, or watch a child suffer and die from a brain tumor? Where is God when babies are raped, or parent tortured?
Pain is the biggest argument against a loving God.[/quote]

So, how did you reconcile that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cmotherofpirl
[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1660737' date='Sep 21 2008, 10:00 PM']So, how did you reconcile that?[/quote]
Hope, that God is real, that there is a plan, and Someone loves us, and an acceptance that we will never really understand. To be Puddleglum in the world of the White Witch.

""One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to live as like a Narnian as long as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."
From under the Mercy
When all the best arguments seem lost
When belief seems forced
When atheists have cleared the sky of God
When I wonder what the point could possibly be
if He didn’t exist
if He didn’t rise
if it’s all a fable
a contrivance of power-hungry men.

I begin to think it would be easier
to join them
and be content with my pretty rocks.

But then I remember a voice
A cherished teacher of my childhood:
Puddleglum.

Deep in the witch’s lair
powerful spells lace the air
and four friend waver.

The sun is but a lantern, only darkness reigns
Narnia is a distant, shadowy dream….
What is Aslan after all, but a bigger better cat
You’ve dreamt up on your own?

“One word, Ma’am”
and burned Marshwiggle begins to clear the air.

“Suppose we have only dreamed. Then all I can say is that, in that case,
the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones.”

“We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right.
But four babies making up a game can make a play-world
which licks your real world hollow.

“That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world.
I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it.
Not that our lives will be very long,
but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place
as you say.”

Maybe the world really is devoid of God
Maybe Jesus never died for me.
Maybe they are right.
But you know what?
The mythos of Christ licks their world hollow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Barbarus
[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1660737' date='Sep 21 2008, 09:00 PM']So, how did you reconcile that?[/quote]

[quote name='cmotherofpirl' post='1660747' date='Sep 21 2008, 09:17 PM']Hope, that God is real, that there is a plan, and Someone loves us, and an acceptance that we will never really understand. To be Puddleglum in the world of the White Witch.[/quote]
To add to this, or to say it in another way, I'd say the way to reconcile pain is to see that it has a purpose. Not a purpose in terms of "making me a better person" but that our pain can be joined with Christ's pain and suffering and so gain meaning from this. John Paul II wrote a wonderful encyclical on suffering that addresses this question. Salvifici Doloris, I think.

In my experience, one of the things many atheists have in common is some sort of religious background that failed them in some way. People didn't live out Christianity perfectly, or intellectually the faith they grew up in didn't hold water, or they were damaged badly by someone they trusted in a religious setting. While many atheists bill their beliefs as being logical and rational, at the root in many cases it is emotional. They were failed by faith in some way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr.Cat
The Summa Theologica ( [url="http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm"]http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm[/url] ) written by Saint Thomas Aquinas ( [url="http://saints.sqpn.com/saintt03.htm"]http://saints.sqpn.com/saintt03.htm[/url] ) states existence of God is not self-evident but rather we know of God through reason. This has a lot of implications, some being that it does indeed take a “leap of faith” to believe in God and to know God. It also challenges human faith, for if God is not self-evident then we must receive our ability to understand Him from Him, pointing to supernatural revelation.

Some atheists could have a false perception of God, thus when searching for that false perception they find nothing. They fail to see God’s true relationship and interaction in the cosmos, thus in a sense their conception of God is truly non-existent. If someone believed that freedom of speech in the United States gave them the freedom to shout “fire” in a crowded theater, when upon attempting found they had no such freedom, what may be the reaction of that person?

If someone under a false impression of prayer did not pray correctly or did not know what to expect from it, then they could be lead into despair or at least frustration. In some sense we still wish our Divine Lord to be who the Jews were looking for, the words of Christ still ring true, “[b][color="#FF0000"]My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence.[/color][/b]” ([b]John 18:36[/b])

If someone looked for this conception that God would smite down heathens and criminals or to bring about a utopia on Earth for all to enjoy then they most likely will not find this conception of God compatible to reality. Some Protestants give the impression that God sends them “[i]secret communications[/i]”, sometimes to the point they give some the impression that if you don’t receive this then it is out of the norm.

[u]It reminds me of a story about a Protestant community who were doing their “altar calls” that I read in my college classes[/u]: They told the boy that they would see Christ and He would speak to them. He was extremly excited and nervous. The service started, people prayed, people spoke, and time went on. After but a few moments the first boy jumped up and declared He saw Christ and was saved! The community was ecstatic! Time went on with one by one these children declaring they saw the Savior. Then finally it was just him sitting on the pew alone, very confused and frustrated, also feeling very alone and rejected, expecting our Divine Lord to literally appear to him. Everyone was praying, encouraging, and trying to find out what was wrong that he wasn’t springing up like the other children. Until finally, he sprung up and declared that he too saw the Savior, but in fact he admits he saw nothing and heard nothing. From that point onward he likewise believed nothing.

I think some atheists may suffer from something of the similar, when their false conception of God was compared to the world, they found nothing. Regardless of the means that it came about by, which over time the matter becomes compounded by social rejection and exclusion. There exists today an embarrassing intolerance and discrimination towards atheists.

To be shown that God is not self-evident, that it does require a leap of faith, that it does require supernatural revelation, that we learn of the existence of God by the Divine gift of reason, and likewise that we should not look to human faith but rather a Divine Faith. This means believing what we believe for the Church does so teach it, for it was founded by God Himself for this purpose. Edited by Mr.CatholicCat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Didacus
Anyone who have genuine faith have once in their lives asked themselves the atheistic question of 'does God exist'. Without this, it is impossible for someone to have a genuine faith, instead they are simply following blind intuition.

Didace

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Theologian in Training
So, then, without simplifying this, it seems the overarching "remedy" is faith.

It seems for Cmom, it was a matter of having faith and hoping that it is the right thing to do, that, indeed God has a plan

It seems for Mr. CatholicCat that yours was an intellectual conversion, and in those "mental gymnastics," as it were, realized there were limits to the human mind and so resigned yourself to faith in order to explain those things you were unable to understand.

If I am wrong, I am sorry, I am trying to get a grasp on this whole idea, and trying to understand where, for lack of a better word, the "break down" occurs.

Incidentally, I got a small taste of the scourge that atheism seems to have attached to it, when I was at Barnes and Noble, and bought "Introduction to Atheism" "How to be a good atheist" and "God: the Failed Hypothesis," the look on that woman's face said it all.
And, no, I was not in my clerics. Edited by Theologian in Training

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
cmotherofpirl
[quote name='Theologian in Training' post='1660952' date='Sep 22 2008, 09:58 AM']So, then, without simplifying this, it seems the overarching "remedy" is faith.

It seems for Cmom, it was a matter of having faith and hoping that it is the right thing to do, that, indeed God has a plan

It seems for Mr. CatholicCat that yours was an intellectual conversion, and in those "mental gymnastics," as it were, realized there were limits to the human mind and so resigned yourself to faith in order to explain those things you were unable to understand.

If I am wrong, I am sorry, I am trying to get a grasp on this whole idea, and trying to understand where, for lack of a better word, the "break down" occurs.[/quote]
Faith is, after all, hoping on things unseen. There is also a firm conviction that the universe is not a bundle of random energy, that there is a pattern and plan that could not be a result of mere chaos. If there is a plan, than a Planner is out there somewhere. Most people agree to this. It just makes more sense that life is here for a reason and not an accident. Its in our very genes to believe in something greater than ourselves and that notion came from somewhere. If not from God, then where?
Where it breaks down for atheists is this notion of a "personal " God. A God initiating the "big bang" is far easier to believe in than someone loving an individual me. Most people carry around way too much baggage to feel personally lovable. Atheists don't believe in God but at the same time are very angry at Him for not existing.
They also get in trouble with the modern notion of "feelings". Tele-evangelists running around smiling and screaming saying "JEsus loves you" act as if christianity is merely a permanent emotional high where everybody is happy. This doesn't square with the range of normal everyday life of ups and downs to lives of quiet desperation lead by the majority of the planet. Because of their prominence, atheists see most christians in the glare of Tv-evangels hypocrisy and judge all christians the same. It has been pounded into them that one cannot be rational or scientific and christian at the same time, as if truth can be divided. Most actual followers of Christ are not out there publicly displaying themselves so society lacks a comparison to the pharisetical behaviors seen in the media.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...