Call to Arms: A Soul is at Stake!


#1

I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to dialogue with my brother-in law who is headed back to Iraq in a few short weeks with the US Army. He was raised Catholic, but after 17 years of liberal “Catholic” education, he is sadly not practicing and teetering on the verge of atheism. This saddens my wife and mother-in-law very much, who have been praying desperately for him. Luckily though, beneath it all he is searching for answers. And I may be his last hope for them.

I need to respond to his points made in the below posted e-mail in a way that, with prayer, will return him to his Catholic Faith. I only have two to three weeks to have this dialogue before he leaves, headed for war. I cannot, alone, hope to have the knowledge to answer all of his objections, but together, I believe we can!

I’m calling on the best and brightest to give me their generous wits in countering the points made below in a charitable way. I will try to synthesize those points in a response e-mail to him.

Above all please pray for him! (and for me in writing the response)

Thanks!

Steve


#2

"Chris hitchens is a bit of a polar opposite to some of the authors i am sure you have read; not unlike the current political climate on the hill. he seems to be trying to fight fire with fire (at least in terms of intensity of mutual intolerance against belivers). i am sure that some of the points in his book could be debunked, but i am sure that some of the topics will debunk some religious beliefs and withdraw some of the credibility of certain religious players of the past.

the main theme i think (the one i took from it) is really skepticism not necessarily a cause for atheism, as he points often to my favorite author of all time: George Orwell. The basis for which i base alot of my stances is “reverse-engineering.” Jesus could have (and i am sure) read the prophecy for which the savior would ride into jerusalem on the back of an ***. Today i could do the same thing and muster up 13 apostles; bringing me 13/50ths closer to a tax exempt status in the US (little humor). Anther reason i am skeptical of the church is the fact that history is written by the winners. the ecumenical councils have the power to authorize which documents go in what books and so on and so forth behind closed doors, just like the ficitonal ministry of information could choose which stories to run in the mass media of the nation of Oceania in 1984. the main character, winston, even had the power to completely erase all information on any single person (like soldiers on the front lines) causing their entire ‘existence’ to be erased, like any of the councils could have done with any pieces of information they may have chosen. besides, the debate we had over interpretation of scripture and translations and what not is an interesting one. so my question would be, why would the church allow the bible to be translated to English and marketed to the the public if only the church is allowed to interpret it? Forgot to close a loop perhaps.

This is an interesting debate that we have, and at this time, with the amount of information on the market, there will never be a definite resolution within our lifetimes. Just as i am sure this debate has raged for 2000 years, and much much longer i assume. Every time one party will come up with a new point of argument the other will come up with a counter point weather concrete or not. the only difference is that atheists generally reference scientifically or empirically proven facts, where science has not proven the existence of God, that is historically where all religions have filled the gaps (Zeus with thunder and lightening when the Greeks had no knowledge of static discharge). i think right now it takes a certain amount of faith to not believe, but probably not as much faith as it takes to believe.


#3

"another reason that i have much less faith than you i think is the fact that i have seen alot of human suffering in Iraq in the name of Allah. the first month we were in western Baghdad our second platoon had a suicide bomber hit their convoy causing several injuries, a man gave his life to do what he though God’s will was. i am sure he was uneducated and brainwashed and so forth, and it was horrible to think about. i saw the after-effects of the Sammara mosque bombing first hand where feral dogs were eating human body parts laying on the ground from the blast. my own convoy was hit 3 times (2 x 82mm mortar IEDs (Abu Ghraib) and one VCIED (Downtown Baghdad, Monsur District). i saw an MP convoy get hit by an EFP (explosively formed projectile; probably iranian) where a drivers brains were smeared all over the radio mount inside of the HMMWV. and lastly another suicide bomber hit a national police checkpoint and i saw charred bit of human scattered around (mostly the bombers). every army or military force in history has always though that God was with them in one way or another… they can’t all be right. these above events bring up the question of weather or not religion does more good than harm, and that is exceptionally difficult to measure on the whole of the world in history, but easy to measure in terms of individual experiences. When i was there i did notice how the Islamic culture is a good model of the Orwellian society in his works of fiction. They control the media, they preach on loud speakers 5 times a day (il Salat) and especially on Fridays (il juma’a Salat), and you can’t out run the sound waves. these people have been indoctrinated for over 1400 years since Mohammed and they only really had oral tradition in the tribal systems before that, they are extremely uneducated as a whole, which is sad.

that brings us to education. for the most part i have had a very good education through 17 years of catholic schools, maybe too good because all science and math and all of my engineering plus the lack of adequate answers to my questions in religion classes in high school have let me to my current stand point. i can remember my first serious doubts in my junior and senior year high school catechism class, when certain topics were simply left to faith and could not be physically explained. and empirically i have noticed that deep believers are very unwilling to read a whole book from the other point of view (my mother would rather read pornography than christopher hitchens, or richard dawkins, or sam harris, or dan brown (fiction); at least she can atone for pornography). they also will take away lessons learned by friends or family in place of personally reading or researching for themselves. by the way i am trying to get through the articles you have given me.

the only thing that could possibly help hold what little faith i have left is entropy (the idea that things tend toward disorder, rather than order). this is the only idea that holds the thread in my mind that there could exist an intelligent creator.

I also think that it comes down to tolerance for me. generally i have noticed that deeply religious are also deeply intolerant even though they may preach differently.

i am really late for dinner at my landlords so i have to go, but i look forward to the rest of our debate to come."


#4

War is hell. More than 50,000 of my own generation died in Viet Nam.

But God doesn’t cause war – men cause it. Men pervert God’s message for their own purposes.

If you abandon God, do you not become one of them?


#5

Is he really asserting a dogmatic position or is he simply trying to cope with the problem of evil in the world?

He also seems to have a tendency to evaluate believers rather than their claims. That’s fairly common in a relativistic society where everything gets treated subjectively.

If he’s really concerned about what is objectively true, then he ought to:

  1. Start learning what the claims of the Catholic Church are (a good start would be to read the Catechism or the Compendium of the Catechism).

  2. Understand what the Church really believes and see the coherence among the Church’s claims.

  3. See whether these claims correspond to objective reality.

Of course, this is only the rational component. This can only dispose one to Faith; it cannot substitute for Faith itself, which is a gift from God.

Therefore, it is also very important to pray for him so that he can accept the grace of Faith from God.


#6

I like to respond in the issue of religion as to justify violence. I am a Soldier myself deployed in Iraq. Indeed, the Iraqi insurgents have use religion to justify their cause.

Many modern thinkers who like to discredit so called organized religion point to the distorted views of Islamic Extremists and sometimes Evangelical Christians who push their own authority to justify violence against abortion.

Pope Benedict XVI in his writings have said that religion cannot be use to justify any form of violence. Religion, he states must focus on “peace to all men.”

The Catholic Church has it her teachings concerning morality, that killing is never justified.

Pope Benedict XVI states, “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”

I ask and will pray for your friend who apparently has been drawn the conclusion that religion cannot be trusted.

Likely for me, I rather put my faith in Jesus Christ who established the Catholic Church than the opinions of a man who apparently does know what he is talking about.

Lastly, a true religious Christian Catholic is the one who lives by his faith. How does one live by his faith. He is to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, and all with his mind. Likewise, he is to love his neighbor as himself, and even love his enemy. He must also obey all the commandments which God has given us. If we sin, we are call to confess and repent, and received the forgiveness of God.

If any Christian tells you anything different than what I tell you, then he is truly misguided.


#7

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