Catholicism to Atheism


#1

I was baptized, raised, and confirmed as a Catholic. However, recently, my college education as well as a few philosophical and scientific works have led me to atheism.

I am a 19 year old political science and philosophy double major. I am not, however, sure that I want to return to Catholicism or even Christianity as a whole. However, I am never one to cage myself at one side of the spectrum without examining the details of the other side, and thus, I am here.

I have examined most of the proofs supporting God’s existence. My problem with those is that they do no service to Jesus as the Son of God. It seems almost as if “Intelligent Design” does as much service to the thought that a green lobster created the universe as it does the thought of God the Father creating it.


#2

So what is it you’re looking for?


#3

Well, this is the Apologetics forum, so I’m looking for somebody intelligent to defend the faith in a way that will make it appealing to return rather than what my close friends would do, which would simply be stating “Well if you don’t come back you’re going to hell and burning for eternity, how’s that for a reason”.


#4

Well, what they say would be true.

This is typical for your age. I was there once too.

You have been given the gift of the knowledge and truth of Catholicism. So you already know it. It is good to search for the truth without preconditions. So continue your search.

But, before you leave now exactly what you are leaving. Most don’t.


#5

Well, where do you want to start?

Proof of God’s existance?


#6

I’ve studied Aquinas, Augustine, and a few other philosophers who did God some justice including Descartes (though his argument is worthless compared to others).

I do not know enough of the Big Bang theory to accept or condemn it, so for now, I must rely on my study of philosophy.

Rationally, I can see why one would believe there is a God. I admit, even in this bout of atheism, that there may be a God, but I have chosen to live my life based on the assumption that there is none.

However, my problem is not with the existence of God, or the infinite creator. My problem , and what has led me to atheism, is doctrine - the idea of Jesus as the savior, the concept of “sin” even existing, or there being a God that not only created the universe, but oversees it today, judging our sins and dividing humans based on how faithful they were as mortal beings.

Due to the combination of the lack of scientific progress and the the increased rate of gullibility of the population in metaphysical philosophy that would inevitably be a product of a non-scientific environment, it seems irrational to believe in an ancient text rather than contemporary advances in science.

I am aware that faith is only faith because we can’t reason our way to conclude that, for instance, the blessed sacraments are actually the body and blood of Jesus during every Mass. Such things are only derived from the Bible, which Catholics must accept wholeheartedly.

However, I am fixed into the atheist mentality and, at least for me, it would be extremely difficult to return without disregarding my new intellectual standards of proof and rationality being present in my commitments. Thus, I figure that I would have a better chance addressing intelligent people rather than my friends.

I am very unwilling to chalk this up to being a “phase”, for most events that have been known break such a “phase” have already happened in my life. I am, of course, talking about near-death experiences, familial deaths, and other events that have made me want to believe that this life is not all we have.


#7

Humility must replace arrogance.

Sin is a manifestation of free-will. If God denied us free-will, we would be robots programmed. This would not be love. God loves us so that He allows us to decide for ourselves. He permits evil to exist.

Now how does He reveal himself? It is like sitting on a fence. On one side is God one side atheism. Now God could show himself and this would convince everyone that He exists. So there goes free-will. He could show Himself to you right now to convince you, but of what value would that be?

Faith is opening one’s mind and heart to God. If you are truly open you will find Him.

Faith and reason cannot be opposed for they flow from the very same God. Science by its own definition has a limited say about the universe. Don’t limit yourself to this narrow view.


#8

Here’s some book recommendations that might help you:

Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ron Tacelli
The Science before Science by Anthony Rizzi
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith by Steven Barr
What’s so Great about Christianity by Dinesh D’Souza
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
A Meaningful World by Ben Wiker et al

Unfortunately alot of us were in your position at your age - you can be so seduced by the secular culture especially in a secular academic setting. Alot of teens and young adults lose their faith when in these settings…but the good news is that as you mature and especially as you really dig into why Catholics and Christians believe what they believe, you’ll find that on balance, belief in God is definitely the most reasonable thing to have. I’ll pray for you.


#9

By any Christian’s belief, this is true - faith and reason do flow from the same God. However, if you are an atheist, this belief cannot hold because the atheist does not believe that God exists.

My view right now is this - in the theist eye, yes, science is limited, but in the atheist eye, it is indeed narrow, but the only universal concept that we can adhere to.

The atheist view, to my knowledge, seems to be this. Anybody can make a religion. It just so happens that Judaism, which is the precursor to Christianity, caught on and was adapted by the most powerful and influential part of the world at the time. However, the view is that the number of believers cannot be a reasonable piece of evidence - to this, I agree, since plenty of other people believe in Lord Krishna and bathe in the Ganji just as Catholics are doused with water as a rite.

There has to be some factor that I’m missing that gets intelligent and accomplished scientists to remain as Catholics or even other denominations. However, even this defense is in favor of atheism, for though there are indeed intelligent scientists that are Christians, arguably the greatest scientists that have ever lived were secular, such as Einstein, who even called the idea of a God that oversees human affairs “childish”.

Unfortunately, my perceived future is in an entirely academic world, my plan is to attend graduate school in philosophy or biology and continue as a scholar in both of those areas. That having been said, I will most likely never be released from the will of the “secular institution”.


#10

Unfortunately I do not have the money to pick up the entire list - which do you think, out of those, provides the best defense?


#11

Tap into metaphysics also.

It is true that people can reason truths. There are many truths that are common to other religions. When you go through them all only one has the fullness of truth.

Now as a scientist why on earth would you limit your curiousity to science alone. That is painting yourself into a corner.


#12

why do you rely on philosophy?

As far as the BB theory, its simply a model that tries to describe the cosmos but it cannot explain anything before it proposes everything was a super-massize point with when the four forces were ones (before planks time). It a fundamental sense, its a neutral matter, if you really treat it as science.


#13

I guess if you want to be an atheist, it’s best to start at “square one” - you **have to **accept as fact that matter/energy has always existed; it’s eternal. What proof does atheism, or science, put forth in support of this assertion that you found convincing? (To believe energy/matter didn’t eternally exist, would require belief in a Creator. If you believe in a Creator you are not an atheist.)

From your post it sounds more like it is Christianity you are having doubts about - - - that is, the truths proclaimed by the Christian faiths about God, His actions, His will, deity of Jesus…

Since you’re toying with atheism, I think the first step you need to take is to decide firmly whether or not you believe in God. Once you believe in His existence, then you’ll discover a desire to know the truth about Him; what He is like; etc.

Nita


#14

Modern Physics and Ancient Faith


#15

A basic premise - one cannot desire what they cannot know. Great!:thumbsup:


#16

Yes - and it even could be said that if the Big Bang did indeed happen, it was a creator who initiated it. The possibilities are endless in such a gray area.


#17

In so far as the convergence of the Big bang and Genesis, I would recommend the following books: their focus is not on the mathematical aspect of the theory of relativity but rather on its applications.

  1. [FONT=Verdana][size=3]The Science of God [/size][/FONT]
    by Gerarld L. Schroeder.
Schroeder's main sources are the Kabalists and thus some of  his conclusions are questionable from a Catholic perspective since he seems to  deny Original Sin. Having said that, his vision of science and genesis is  inspiring. 

amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/076790303X/qid=1090554772/sr=8-1/ref=pd_ka_1/104-7282232-7079168?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

  1. [FONT=Verdana][size=3]God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe
    by Amir D. Aczel. [/size][/FONT]
    Great introduction and historical background to the work that Einstein did in order to put together the general theory of relativity.

  2. [FONT=Verdana][size=3]Relativity Visualized[/size][/FONT]
    [FONT=Verdana][size=3][FONT=Arial][size=2]Lewis Carroll Epstein[/size][/FONT]
    amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/093521805X/qid=1090555212/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1/104-7282232-7079168[/size][/FONT]

Wonderful intro to the special theory of relativity and its  implication. Original and thought-provoking.
  1. [FONT=Verdana][size=3]Show Me God: What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God (Wonders, 1)
    amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1885849532/qid=1090555346/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-7282232-7079168?v=glance&s=books[/size][/FONT]

    Great book on the various cosmological facts that lead us to reflect on creation.


#18

I don’t have time to offer too much, but I think you might enjoy a book I’m currently reading by Dinesh D’Souza. It is entitled “What’s So Great About Christianity”. It makes a better case for the faith than any modern writer I’ve tried lately, and the way he does it is really engaging. In particular, I really enjoyed reading the sections on science and the faith. I’d recommend it!

By the way, I’d point out that believing in evolution (micro-evolution, at least) does not prevent or preclude one from also believing in God–the first cause of it all. As far as science can go further back in time with regards to the start of our universe, religion will always be ahead.


#19

Perhaps I can mount a better intellectual argument after reading Dawkins’ book, since he touches on this subject. However for now, I have to say that yes, my problem lies more with doctrine rather than His existence. Even if I did believe in a God, that is only the first step, as you have said. From there, I can branch off into any Christian denomination, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, or even Hinduism. Why should I believe in the New Testament rather than the Torah? Why Catholicism instead of other denominations? Why not just stay with the God belief and be a deist, without assuming that this God is a type of all-knowing adjudicator?

I do not believe in claiming to know what I have not studied - thus, I don’t feel like it’s right for me to take a position on whether God exists or not until I have read the best arguments for intelligent design and the best arguments for Darwinism. As I have said, I’ve spent a great deal of time with Aquinas, Augustine, Lewis, and others - however, I am just now reading Dawkins, Russell, and Hitchens.

Whether I spend my life as a Catholic or an atheist, I want to be absolutely sure I know the better parts of both sides as to not be ignorant. I dislike evangelical Christians who have no notion of Darwinism just as much as I dislike the committed atheists who will tell you that, no matter what, there is no God. Even the most intelligent atheists allow a slight possibility for there to be a God - they, like me, just have a problem with humans who claim to have knowledge of this infinite divinity. Even Dawkins lends some credit to deism as an “improvement” over the Abrahamic religions.


#20

I will certainly look out for this book.


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