First Baby Step

Does God exist? Why should I believe there is a God? I’m a fallen-away Catholic who has recently read many books on an anti-Christian subject, evolution, and similar topics but I have many problems with evolution,too. I guess you could call me an agnostic right now. :(:confused:

I would encourage you to read books on the other side. Everywhere you hear the arguments against belief in God and secularism, evolution, etc. The place to start is not mastering all the sciences but, rather, Philosophy, that is, Thomistic Philosphy. Secularists and modern philosphers try to shoehorn all the answers to things in the physical sciences. That’s like trying to use Accounting (I’m an accountant) to disprove something in plumbing. Atheists and secularists have a worldview (an agenda) that drives their notions of things. I have much to learn myself, just getting back into Thomistic Philosophy, but also read the Greek Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Their philosophy ties in with Aquinas and is concerned with universals, First Causes and Final Causes which modern philosophers aren’t. They have never disproved Aquinas but merely asserted that his arguments are false, pushing them off the table. Read Aquinas’ 5 Proofs of the Existence of God, not in the Summa Theologica but, rather, in his Summa Contra Gentiles! This is the full version. You’ll have to rise to it because it uses pure reason and you’ll get into some mental gymnastics and will also have to become intimate with the terminology. That’s what I’m doing.

A few thoughts:

(1) The first is that the time we spend on earth is a time of testing. God is going to judge all of his children one day but first he tests them. And one of the key virtues we’re tested on is humility, which is nothing more than acknowledging the truth about yourself and not thinking of yourself as greater than you really are. The truth about every human being alive is that we have finite rather than infinite intellects. Just because a person doesn’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

For purposes of testing us, God has made our life here on earth filled with many mysteries. Some say they don’t understand why God permits suffering of innocent people or why He permits evil. Some say certain things in the Scripture make no sense to them. A humble person says, “I don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.” A prideful person says, “I don’t understand, and therefore it’s impossible that it could be true.”

Acknowledging the truth about your limited nature is critical because when God tests you with things beyond your ability to understand you won’t necessarily reject it.

(2) If it’s true that there is a God and that you will stand before Him at the end of your life, this is the single most important thing to know about your time on earth. Given what’s potentially at stake, you can’t afford to be wrong about this issue. If it’s true that both Heaven and Hell are realities, you cannot afford to take any risk whatsoever that you end up in the wrong place.

(3) Because relying solely on human reasoning, which is subject to error, leaves you exposed to an unacceptable risk, it would be wise to try to find out if God exists in some other way, such as experiencing for yourself or witnessing the miraculous power of God. People who go to prayer meetings, to revivals or on pilgrimage to holy sites receive miraculous healings every day. The blind see. The deaf hear. People who have been paralyzed for years regain use of their limbs and walk. Why not familiarize yourself with these testimonies?

(4) I’d recommend the following conversion stories from the EWTN program Journey Home:

Edward Fride:
ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/resolve.asp?audiofile=jh_10112004.mp3

Roy Schoeman:
ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/resolve.asp?audiofile=jh_01102005.mp3

Both were atheists before converting and their stories are very powerful.

Good luck and God bless.

Well, evolution isn’t necessarily incompatible with Christianity. I mean Chesterton said: if evolution means one thing turning slowly into another, then it is unproblematic for even the most orthodox. A personal God might do something slowly just as much as quickly. But yes, as a theory, it does have some problems.

More importantly, if you want to know why you should believe, simply, because their are good reasons to. Perhaps you might want to consider them. There is scientific and philosophical evidence for the origins of the universe, scientific evidence of the fine-tuning of the universe for life, the explanation of why something exists rather than nothing, the existence of objective moral values and duties, and historical evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I think the more you consider the more you find that there actually are good reasons to believe and that the supposed problems for belief are not really so serious as are often suggested.

If you are coming to this fairly cold with little experience in considering the evidence for belief, a good book to begin with is On Guard by the Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, amazon.com/Guard-Defending-Faith-Reason-Precision/dp/1434764885/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314414765&sr=8-1

He also has a website with many popular and scholar relevant articles on different topics. reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer

He also regularly debates prominent modern atheists. Many can be found on his website, others on you tube. Here he takes on Christopher Hitchens youtube.com/watch?v=KuB7KMfVems

I have a few concepts I would like to provide.

Regarding God’s Existence
Could you accept any one or more of the following? These are simplified and personal understandings of Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence in Summa Theologica.
a. Things that are in movement required a mover. Therefore, the expanding universe required an initial mover, which itself did not require a mover. This initial mover is called God.
b. Actions have causes. Therefore, the thing credited with the first cause, without itself requiring a cause, is called God.
c. Things have qualities of good, bad, righteous, wrong, true, false, and the like. Therefore, there is one thing that is the best, truest, most righteous, most merciful, etc. This perfect being/state is called God.
d. If a being lacks intelligence, it cannot desire an end result which requires fuller intelligence, unless it is directed by something of fuller intelligence. Since we know and desire something that is greater than our understanding and know how, we must be directed by something of fuller intelligence. We say God is the being providing the direction.

Regarding “Why believe in God?”
Because “Always being patient and kind towards God with all your heart, mind, strength, and soul and towards others, as towards yourself, as Jesus did, according to Scripture, as understood by the Church,” is the best solution to achieving the greatest peace, happiness, energy, knowledge, and understanding for any being and/or society regardless of age, gender, intelligence, economic status, culture, etc.
My recommendations:
If you want the fullest peace in your life (including spreading peace to all others), learn the best patience.
If you want the fullest happiness (including spreading happiness), learn the best kindness.
If you want the fullest energy (including spreading energy), learn to be motivated for God.
If you want the perfect role model, follow Jesus.
If you want more info about Jesus, learn Scripture.
If you want greater understanding of Scripture and Jesus’ Ways, learn Catholicism.

I hopes this helps draw you closer to God. I greatly appreciate you asking these thought-provoking questions! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Of course God exists. There is at least a first cause which is one definition of God. You have to believe that to believe you are here. You should believe in God because he is there:D (because there at least is a first cause and He is proabably something more than that.)

So, we see that there is at least somthing that was the beginning of it all. You might think these are the laws of physics. However, there is beauty and order to this world meaning there should at least be a little bit of an intelligence to it.

Another thing is that longing we can never satisfy. Even when the evolutionary needs are all satisfied we are not truly happy. Now either there is a world after this one where we will be truly happy, or the creator is a sick jerk. Essentially, we either have something to satisfy this longing, or the being that gave us this desire is deriving joy from our stupidity and false hope. If it is the second, then why is there so much good in the world because an evil entity would not allow so much good to occur throughout our daily lives. The evil would be selfish and paranoid and would not allow hardly any good to exist. He would revel in a majority of evil. So, it seems we are made for something more, a better world. This would rule out atheism, agnosticism, and deism.

So, the only way you will pick any religion in particular would be to find if you trust the prophets and Christ’s claims or if you agree with others beliefs. So, good luck and know that you are in our prayers

Welcome Dan! So glad to see you are trying to come back to the faith.

Others in the thread have already given versions of Aquinas’ “Five Proofs”. I’ll try and give you two or three others (watered-down and shortened versions).

First: The Kalam Argument (One of my favorites, which is why I include it)

  1. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for it to exist, to come into being.
  2. The universe began to exist
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its coming into being.
    The obvious trouble here is the second premise. There are strong scientific theories that demonstrate that the universe began to exist, e.g. that it had a beginning (Big Bang Theory). However, we can use some philosophy here to prove the universe had to have a beginning.
    Suppose the universe always existed, that it did not begin. If this is the case, then that would mean that there would be an infinite number of “steps” (think of them like events) in the universe. So, could you ever actually reach a certain “step”? No, not even in infinite time, because there are an infinite number of “steps” before you reach the last “step”, and even with infinite time, you would still have an infinite number of steps to read a certain “end step”. But can you reach the step just before the last step? No, because an infinite number of steps exist before that one, and before that one, etc. to infinity. Now equate the “steps” with days in the universe (just a rough measure of time, mind you). If the universe is infinitely old, then it has an infinite number of days. Can you ever reach today if an infinite number of days preceded today? No, because an infinite number of days came before it. But… we have reached today, so that would have to mean that the infinite number of days before today were completed. But how can they be if there were infinite number of days? So, either the present day has not been reached (because of the problem of infinite number of days before the present day), or the present day has been reached, in which case the universe must have existed a finite amount of time. Obviously, the present day has been reached, so the universe must have existed for a finite amount of time, and thus it must have had a beginning. And from this flows our conclusion (3 from above).
    Now, this proof doesn’t demonstrate the God of the Bible. But it is a strong argument of something “higher” (a cause for the universe that could not have been itself caused).

Second: The Argument from Desire

  1. For every innate desire of the person, there exists a real object to fulfill that desire (you are hungry, there is food; you’re thirsty, there is way; you’re lonely, there is companionship)
  2. There exists in us a desire for something that cannot be satiated by anything in our world, or our time.
  3. Therefore, there exists an object to fulfill this desire that cannot be fulfilled by the temporal world, namely, God
    The first premise distinguishes between innate and artificial desires. Innate desires are things like hunger, thirst, loneliness. Artificial ones are things like wanting a car, wanting the Socks to win the World Series etc. Obviously, the first premise says that our innate, inborn desires must have a real object. The second only calls for honest and deep introspection. You need to look inside yourself and be honest about what your desires are. Naturally, the conclusion follows.
    Once again, this doesn’t demonstrate the Abrahamic God, only an “unknown X” that is “more”. Belief in the one true God comes only through faith, which can be encouraged by, but not based on reason.

I hope this has helped you. If you have any questions, feel free to message me anything.

Do you believe in the difference between good and evil? If so how do you explain it?

Just sounds as though you have more questions than you can handle right now.
Hang in there. You’ll find the answers.

And as far as God is concerned, he’ll hang in there with you too.

My thoughts:

There doesn’t seem to be any major contradiction between evolution and Catholicism, or theism in general. There are, however, contradictions between some of the -ism’s that deny creation and Catholicism and theism in general. For instance, those ideologies that take pure chance and randomness to be so fundamental that they actively deny the necessity of a being who sustains the universe at every moment. These -ism’s enter into the metaphysical domain and thus go way beyond the data that science presents. They area also very silly.

Stay away from “God of the gaps” and other similar intelligent design theories, they are not worth fighting for. Rather, familiarize yourself in a solid Thomistic Metaphysics. I recommend the book Aquinas: A beginner’s guide by Edward Feser as it dispels many of the popular new atheist confusions with regards to Aquinas. There are strong reasons to accept theism and strong reasons to accept Catholicism in particular. But at least in the order of ideas, one comes first and the other second.

And it couldn’t hurt to continue to pray every day.

Ciao,
Michael

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