Becoming an atheist after Old Testament Study


Hi, I have a Catholic friend who becomes an atheist after a long-period of in-depth study of the Old Testament in its original Semitic languages, in particular Protestant Old Testament scholarship. He got a Masters of Art in Patristic Theology at the University of Bonn many years ago and is very intelligent. He claims that studying the Old Testament does not require one to be a believer just as studying Homer does not require one to believe in Zeus. He also claims that all religions are myths (especially institutionalized religions), there is no God or Heaven, and the Assumption is only a myth. Religion is only a social phenomenon in which people seek psychological comfort. How should I address his concerns logically and bring him back to Catholicism? Thank you!


Logic will be lost on your friend and as Jesus said I thank you father for hiding these things from the learned.
Your friend is only quoting a satanic creed that many have used before him.
If you want to debate him good luck but faith comes through prayer and intercession so that is where you should start, but if you like to debate then
In the Beginning? What is his alternative to the biological makeup of all matter
The life is in the blood? Oxygen and of course Christ shed his blood for sin and attonement
Mitochondrial eve and Y chromosome adam both found to be around 6000 years old based on the rate of mutation.
Prefigurements within the old testament
The Resurrection/ shroud of Turin
catholic miracles
Catholic Saints
Apparitions such as Fatima 70000 witnesses
Zeitoun eygpt Our lady witnesses by 1 million in the late 60’s
The gloves of padre pio
The Eucharistic miracles Lanciano being the best

And many many more signs from heaven for the faithful to draw strength from.
But until he learns that God is spirit and should be worshipped in spirit you will not win him over.
Try offering masses or divine mercy devotions for him and watch how God can turn the greatest fool back into a wise man who understands from the heart not the mind.
He needs prayers and tell him he is acting on the spirit of the world which is now called the enlightenment movement which has given us such classics as Evolution and space.


just pray for him.


Sorry I don’t have a solution for you but I’m also trying to study OT in Hebrew and I love it! :blush:


Have you told him of the Five Ways to prove that God exists?


I can’t fathom this…studying the Old Testament from the Protestant perspective (including some verses in Hebrew) has served to strengthen my Catholic faith, and I’d love to study Hebrew Poetry. Hebrew is the most beautiful written language.


Eg Psalms 51:9
Asperges me etc.
the Hebrew poetic rhythm is beautiful!
“Tehatte’eini be’ezov ve’ethar
Tekabbeseini umisheleg albin”


Do you have some of your favourite Hebrew verses of the OT?


The psalms and proverbs among many others (the shema, in particular). Also valuable as Christian texts.


Ask him to explain to you his understanding of Jesus,


He also questioned God’s benevolence when He requested slaughter of animals as sacrifice, which is in fact (in my friend’s eyes) evil. Sigh …

All I can do is pray for him and offer Masses


Your fried (in the OP) has been infected by the venom of MODERNISM, the synthesis of all heresies. His doubt has been nurtured and could possibly result in spiritual blindness. A book(s) or university professor could have introduced him to modernist views.
This is why modernist professors are so dangerous, because Modernism can destroy ones faith. There are varying degrees of modernists, and you would be shocked to find out how many modernists are teaching religion at Yale and other Ivy League American universities.
The hard way to approach this problem is to refute the source of these ideas.
The easy way, if it can be done gently, is to get him in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Tell him not to read, not to pray, just sit there. Tell him it will only take 5 minutes of his time. He may lengthen that on his own.
What is hidden in the OT is revealed in the NT. “You don’t need to believe in the OT”! is contradictory and illogical.



Here’s an interesting side of Jesus.

Matt 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,[b] 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.

Matt 15: 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”[e] 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

while Jesus words might look one way on the surface, otoh, that looks to me like Jesus is giving the Jews, the 1st people of the covenant, 1st right of refusal to accept the new and everlasting covenant, and He is putting full attention to that goal. Not forcing anyone to believe, but never the less, giving them first right of refusal

What was the success rate? In the beginning, the Church was 100% Jewish.


Paul was not received well by his fellow Jews, and gave up on them, and went to preach to the gentiles.


The kosher slaughtering of animals is done as humanely as possible. It’s jugular is cut and allowed to bleed out and unconscious quickly. It is not done in a barbaric way where it is allowed to suffer (as in today’s modern day slaughter houses). The sacrifices where a foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice.

Then consider how Father God allowed His only begotten to be slaughtered for our salvation. No greater love than this, Jesus lay down His life for us.


There are Catholics who post here and say that the story of Adam and Eve is a myth.


Modernists aren’t really Catholics: They’re just apostates.


We are Catholic, with the mark that we are obedient to our teacher(s), and do not “discover” the truth of Scripture by our hard work and native brilliance. We instead believe our Teacher’s explanation of the Scripture and of reality.
Protestants must do their own interpretation of Scripture because they need to counter what is Catholic, just as Simon Peter tried to turn Jesus away from Jerusalem, but instead he heard the Master say, “Get BEHIND me, you satan; if anyone will follow BEHIND me he must deny himself, deny his own desires for what the Scriptures say, and let me interpret the Scriptures as will be done on the Road to Emmaus for two of my followers.”

Your friend already gave up his following behind his Teacher when he abandoned the Magisterium and Catholic Scholarship to find a “more desirable” interpretation or understanding. Patristic Theology would not have taught him the same conclusions he has reached, but he was somehow won over to a false understanding of the place of historical-critical methods of viewing scripture, as if the meaning of Scripture were in the hands of scholars.

But Scripture is the composition and property of the People of God, under the teaching authority appointed by Christ - Apostolic Authority / Succession. It is a governing council that named what is Scripture with councils and magisterial and papal declarations of interpretations.

Our Church is about believing a Word delivered by a person, in person, from a person you trust, who is relaying it to you in your generation. We do not “believe the Old Testament” because we have analyzed it, but we analyze it because we believe our Teacher, who opened its meaning to us. Words can mean many things, but only the Teacher’s interpretation is correct, (because He is actually the author of it). We have the Teacher’s interpretation because we have the Teacher’s line of faithful students and servants teaching us today what they received to pass on to us.

John Martin


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