I seem to be doing many of the right things: praying for more grace (an increase in the gift of faith), reading spiritual books, listening to EWTN, reading the Bible, receiving the Eucharist at least weekly, praying (though perhaps not as much as some), trying to obey God and refrain from sin … So I’m trying to live as a devout Christian, as some call me, yet I feel like a closeted agnostic, and it appears to me that I am believing in spite of the evidence, rather than because of the evidence:
Atheism seems to me more plausible. For every argument I’ve seen in favor or in defense of the Church, I can point out some uncertain premise (rendering the argument unsound) or an equally plausible alternative theory (rendering it unnecessary). My pain and the absence of God I feel then tips the scale in favor of atheism, after noting how well materialism accounts for the world. The agnosticism I feel pushed into is of the technical sense: It seems to me impossible to know Christianity is true without private revelation or experiencing a miracle. Knowledge it seems to me is true, justified belief with practical certainty, and although my beliefs in the Church – as demonstrated through my actions – may be true, I lack this certainty, and it seems to me only the aforementioned occasions or a deficit in intellect can supply it.
Trent Horn and others have recommended advanced philosophical works to me – Trent has implied one of his recommendations will likely answer objections I have to various philosophical proofs for God’s existence, but I lack both the time and money to read them. It also seems to me that having to spend this much effort to prove to oneself that God exists in fact demonstrates that He does not – or else, it seems bitterly unfair to make us body-spirit hybrids and then make us so numb to spiritual reality.
So what can I do? Are we not supposed to know the Church is correct? (Perhaps I should read again the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on knowledge.) How can I believe with the help of the evidence, instead of in spite of the evidence? Put another way, what solid evidence is there? How can I have confidence that the historical record – or narrative put forward by Christians – is correct about Jesus’ Resurrection? How can I continue studying history when I lack both time and money?
In resolution to all these problems (i.e. answering all these questions), it seems to me that God will heal me miraculously if I refrain from sin long enough – if I seek first His kingdom long enough – but I am tempted to despair of my ability to refrain from sin (to last this long), and history makes me think I must not rely on God for any material blessing in this life, since He is willing to let people die in concentration camps, be born with worse disabilities than mine, etc. (The material blessing in this case would be the healing of a crippled and mutilated body, crippled in some ways and mutilated in another.) But Jesus tells us we must believe if we are to receive healing (Matthew 9, Matthew 13, Mark 11), so I am in what might be called a cruel situation psychologically: Studying reality leads me to think I shouldn’t expect it from God, but studying the Bible leads me to think I must expect it from God.