Christianity as myth?


#1

Forgive me if I’ve posted this in the wrong forum-- please direct me to a more appropriate one if there is.

I have a casual friend who calls herself agnostic, though she is honestly seeking truth. She grew up in a devout Baptist home and says she really WANTS to believe in God and in Christianity in particular, but doesn’t know if He (God) exists at all. She is very well educated, a history PhD, and her feeling is that Christianity is myth, much like other, older religions were myths. She has pointed out many historical parallels between Christianity and older, pagan religions as well as sociological/psychological reasons for people desiring the comfort of a religious belief.

The interesting thing about all of this is that she has said that if Christianity is true at all, then she believes Catholicism is the way to go-- she believes Catholics hold beliefs authentic to those of the earliest Christians.

I am used to discussing the finer points of Catholic doctrine with Protestants, but this is new to me. Can anyone recommend some sources I could read (or refer to her)? She is not hostile at all and really wants to know the truth-- what can I tell her?

Thanks so much.


#2

I recommend she read The Everlasting Man by G. K. Chesterton. He talks about mythology and Christ, as well as other philosophies that attempt to deny Christ as the center of human life. The book can be purchased through Ignatius Press.

As to similarities between pagan myths and Christianity, much of what is proported to be similarities turn out not to be. This topic has been discussed on the board before. Try a search on the subject. And there may be articles in Catholic Answers website library or in This Rock magazine.

C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity may be helpful to your friend, as well.


#3

OK,… so she WANTS to believe. That’s about three-quarters of the battle…!

Ask her if she’d be willing to simply DO SO (believe) for a short finite amount of time, in the way that is Catholic. Take here to mass (daily!?) to strengthen the “other than intellectual” portion of her proto-belief.

If she is very intellectual, you might want to have her read the Compendium of the Catholic Catechism (isbn 978-1-57455-725-1), while having the BIG BOOK (the actual Catechism, isbn 1-57455-109-4) nearby, and perhaps the “Handbook for Today’s Catholic” (isbn 0-89243-671-9) which is a quick’ish read concerning the “basics”.

The “problem” with the “highly educated”, of course, is that they can build GREAT walls which won’t fall by other than direct revelation. They MAY demand actual materialist proof. That of course is impossible to provide.

It sounds like the “just another myth” wall might be the most formidible in her case.

Explain the absolute uniqueness of God, as opposed to all the gods (little “g”) that history tells us about, and how God simply nullifies the possibility of the existence of those gods.

Then go for the Fatherliness of God. Then what “the Son of God” means. Then what the “Holy Spirit” does…

…and how this supports the ONENESS of God, as God, and is not a polytheistic misinterpretation of the REAL God.

Once I accepted that I have my own free will, and that God has arranged everything to be “most wise” so as to teach me and others best, then I didn’t feel that I was “giving up” any control of anything which I didn’t have full control of anyway by accepting His existence.

The “control” issue is usually very prominent with the “intellectual”.

When someone can see the existence of God, then it’s a huge freedom to find out that there are wise ways of behaving (as according to the Magisterium) that take the dis-comfort of “not knowing how to behave” away.

Mahalo ke Akua…!
E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.


#4

Both excellent recommendations!

I would also say to your friend, it is atheism that is the largest (though not greatest) myth. It has no facts to support it. It is simply a story made up to explain, in a way that satisfies the wants and needs of the atheist, the existence of the world and us in it.

And a ver dull and uninspiring story it turns out to be.


#5

You’re lucky that your friend at least WANTS to believe. I “do battle” with atheists in various forums for the intellectual and spiritual challenge, and it’s a lot harder to deal with than agnostics.

There are many paths for your friend. Basically she needs to start a conversation with God. I would first share with her the power of prayer, especially in solitude. Let her know that she can start praying for people in her life. Tell her she needs to ask God to heal others she knows that need help. Then she can then take her prayers and apply them toward herself. She can also ask for forgiveness, clarity, healing and so on. She needs to build a relationship she feels comfortable with.

When it comes to convincing PhD’s and the academically inclined about God, they usually respond to philosophy and science first. She can be directed to St. Thomas Aquinas teachings and his proofs of God’s existence. St. Anselm had some mighty powerful proofs as well, along with St. Augustine. St. John of Cross has some pretty heavy theology written. I find it unreadable at times, but I’m no Ph.D. She might like it.

Share with her the lives of the Saints. Saint Thérèse de Lisieux is wonderful, as is St. Francis of Assisi. Seeing examples of real people leading extraordinary and God filled lives are great ways to “show people the money”.

The following link is an official Catholic web site that all Catholics should refer to, and I have the link the “Existance of God” page (New Advent).
newadvent.org/cathen/06608b.htm

Also, this book is one of the best connecting the science world and faith
amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0268034710/qid=1129923252/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1?v=glance&s=books&n=507846


#6

I think the idea behind atheism is that religions have no facts to support themselves. Atheism isn’t a story, it’s a rejection of stories that have no basis in fact.


#7

Atheists define “fact” as “non-religious”,… for the specific reason to de-legitimate the very idea of religion.

The omnipresent fact that religion exists in all human societies is a huge thorn that atheism simply chocks up to “religion is psychosis and all human societies are inherently psychotic”.

Why would they actually WANT “normal” human society to be psychotic?

So that they can take on the role of “universal HEALER” of humanity…!!

THAT is the story that atheism constructs.

They take a normal impulse of humanity and turn it into a SICKNESS so that they can have an inexhaustable “humanitarian” excuse to extort what they want from any society they might find themselves in, constrained ONLY by their own limitations of desire.

This anti-human social manipulation can only work if people are convinced that “fact” only means what the atheist defines it to mean, and the way they’ve done that has been by linking effective engineering with a belief that ONLY material science is valid because it alone brought them these “fabulous machines”…!

The atheist ceases to be an atheist when his machines fail to make him comfortable.

The religious ceases to be religious when his machines make him comfortable.

Are we born being comforted by machines?

We are born religious.

Do we live being conforted by machines?

Perhaps, and that makes us atheists.

Do we die being comforted by machines?

What machine takes away the reality of death? We die religious.

Mahalo ke Akua…!
E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.


#8

Atheism is an absence of belief. Atheists act like normal people in society, except there is a lack of anything spiritual or religious. They often claim they are more enlightened and moral than Christians/Hindus/Jews etc… because they are free to think for themselves w/o rules or “superstitious beliefs” to weight them down. Many are ex-Christians, sadly.

It is truly sad that it is their own beliefs that are weighing them down, not the other way around. The notion of Heaven and the soul is something they just don’t accept, and consequently hold twisted beliefs steming from that.

I have trouble dealing with these people, but at the same time I have learned a lot from their questions for me. So many of them are naturally inquizative and generous, but others are just beyond sarcastic and hostile toward Christians.


#9

This is a common misunderstanding. For atheism, as much as any religion, is about saying something regarding the existence of the world and us in it. Atheism is but one answer to the questions “why is there something rather than nothing?”, “is there meaning to my existence?” and all the questions that follow.

Atheism also has no facts to support itself. It also has no basis in fact. It is simply a belief system erected to explain what is unknowable by any material means.


#10

But when one pushes a little, this is never the case (as I think you acknowledge with your other comments). What they believe is that there is no God (even though they sometimes deny that this is what they believe). What they believe is that creation and life and humanity came about in a particular way. Whatever the details, they are certain that this particular way does not involve any God or gods.


#11

Thanks. They have been very helpful to me just for my own understanding of what Christianity is and what it isn’t.

I would also say to your friend, it is atheism that is the largest (though not greatest) myth. It has no facts to support it. It is simply a story made up to explain, in a way that satisfies the wants and needs of the atheist, the existence of the world and us in it.

And a ver dull and uninspiring story it turns out to be.

Actually, Lewis thought atheistic evolution a very dramatic story filled with pathos and despair. He said the story of life having struggled out of the primordial goo to intellect and finally dying in obscurity on a insignificant planet in an insignificant galaxy had far more tragedy that the Christian story of a God becoming man and winning salvation for us all through his death and resurrection. All really evocative stories are tragedies, not those with happy endings.

Of course, Lewis was being a bit puckish in his analysis. Atheism is really an escape from the hard questions of life and the terrible struggles of humanity over the centuries. Christianity, OTOH, looks these things squarely in the face and dares to claim to have the solution. I think that’s what bugs atheists the most. :wink:


#12

But when one pushes a little, this is never the case (as I think you acknowledge with your other comments). What they believe is that there is no God (even though they sometimes deny that this is what they believe). What they believe is that creation and life and humanity came about in a particular way. Whatever the details, they are certain that this particular way does not involve any God or gods.

Yes! And they continutally demand proof and evidence for EVERYTHING. Thing is, if Jesus were to come down from out of the sky and start giving them proof after proof (would never happen, I know) of God’s existence, they would convince themselves to be insane. No amount of proof will convine them. It is for this reason many live in denial, and yet they continue to demand for God to prove Himself.

They even look to the masacre at Virgina Tech as proof that God does not exist.


#13

Atheism is the conclusion that God most likely doesn’t exist because there is no evidence that there is a god. I think it’s fair to say that you have no evidence that there is a god.

Someone who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus has no facts to support his disbelief, but he has no reason to believe in Santa Claus either. The burden of proof lies with the one making the positive claim.


#14

I can see this, but only because I can appreciate concepts such as pathos, despair and tragedy. But to a real atheist, what do such concepts mean, other than that the electrical signals in the brain look more like picture ‘A’ than like picture ‘B’? What do pathos, despair and tragedy mean to a bag of chemical reactions?

All of which just points to the near impossibility of fully living out an atheistic life. Even people who believe they are just bags of chemical reactions don’t actually live their lives that way, unlike animals that truly live what they are.


#15

Yet you reject all of the religions that have ever existed except one. Atheists just go one religion further.


#16

But unlike Santa the universe exists. Life exists. We exist. Human nature exists. It is in the realm of religious beliefs to address these facts. And atheism must address these facts as much as religous beliefs must do so. Atheism must supply alternative answers to the fundamental questions that faith purports to answer. A shrug of the shoulders in answer to these fundamental questions is simply not a serious response, and does not deserve serious consideration. So atheism, to be taken seriously, must offer answers to the same fundamental questions that faith claims to answer.


#17

I reject that anybody else in the world is you. Would I be justified in going one step further and rejecting that you are you as well?


#18

Following up on the post about science as an inroad to reach the academically inclined: I just read “The Science before Science”. It’s actually not about science so much as philosophy, and how it is we actually know things (including the existence of God). If your friend has taken any philisophy classes at all, she might find this book interesting, and very enlightening.


#19

I’m sorry but perhaps i have lost out somewhere. True faith is found not by reading different people’s opinions but by the experience of the Holy Spirit. Ask her to visit a church a few times and see what she feels. She can’t find Christ in the books on ebay or amazon. This is not a battle to win her over, this is a journey she needs to find herself.

Books on the history or the modified history of anything event can be accepted or rejected by the person in question. You need to let her find her own way.


#20

Based on your profile, and because I (and many others here) have spent time in the atheist/agnostic camp, I’d like to pursue these questions a little more. You say we have no evidence that there is a God. We say in all sincerity that everything is evidence of God. The gulf between our understandings of the world really is that vast.

Someone who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus has no facts to support his disbelief, but he has no reason to believe in Santa Claus either. The burden of proof lies with the one making the positive claim.

Those who don’t believe in Santa can provide hard evidence for their alternative explanations of “Santa-events”. What hard evidence can you provide for your alternative explanations of “God-events”, which is to say, the existence of everything (and by that I don’t just mean every material thing, but every thing)? You have as much of a burden of proof to show how your explanation of “God-events” is plausible as we do.

So, if not God, then what? Then we can compare the alternate claims, and perhaps apply Occam’s razor to them both.


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