I am a 49 year old seeker of truth who has not found any good evidence to believe the teachings of the Church, or any religion for that matter.
I have to decide soon what program of study to take for first year university. I initially picked a theology program (at a Catholic college) thinking I might find some answers there. I talked to a priest recently and told him I wanted to study patristics, textual criticism, apologetics, etc. in order to try to sway my secular friends but in the back of mind I was hoping to convince myself of the truth of the church teachings. He told me I wouldn’t be able to convince them through these methods if that was my goal.
So, if four years of these studies isn’t enough to convince anyone, can someone give me one good reason to believe?
If not, I think I will switch to a biology program.
Faith is a gift, and there is nothing you can read or hear that will “convince” you. If you are truly sincere in your search, I would suggest that you pray to God, or pray to “whatever is up there”, and ask that being to reveal to you the truth of what you are searching for. Be persistent, i.e. pray whatever prayer you pray several times each day, and you may be suprised at what happens…
Do you believe in Biology? I would guess that you are already convinced of the reality of the material world and want to understand it better so you would benefit from your courses.
Do you believe in God? Do you believe that he revealed himself to the Jews and that he revealed himself through Jesus? If the answer is yes, I think the course of study shown above might be useful to you.
If you don’t believe that God exists, you need to sincerely pray that, if he exists, he will reveal himself to you.
If you believe that there is a God, then you should consider the claims of Christians that God revealed himself through Jesus and that we can know him by faith. We can have a relationship with God. Again, prayer is the answer. Sit before the tabernacle in a Catholic church and ask God to reveal himself to you.
Once you know God, the course of study would be quite interesting to you. I think there are compelling reasons to accept that the Catholic church was established by Jesus. But learning about God and his church isn’t enough. You don’t learn to swim from books only, you have to get into the water.
Read the gospels, go to mass, talk to Catholics about their experiences of God, their relationship with Jesus, how they have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. If you were to attend a university like Franciscan University of Steubenville you would meet people who would share this with you but you may find this in local parishes too.
It seems to me that God is giving you a desire for him. You would not be searching for him if he wasn’t already calling you.
I’ll share one thing that happened to me which helped me to know God’s presence and power. I was diagnosed with a very serious medical condition that required surgery but it couldn’t be scheduled for 5 months. I was terrified both because the symptoms were distressing and I was phobic about hospitals and surgery and didn’t know if the surgery would have a good result. I couldn’t imagine living through five months with that level of fear. How could I continue to work, etc? I was visiting someone who lived where there was a chapel on the grounds and I couldn’t sleep so I went down to the chapel and prostrated myself on the floor in front of the tabernacle and begged Jesus to help me because I couldn’t live with the fear. When I went back to bed I didn’t feel any differently. When I woke up in the morning, the fear was gone. I went through the next five months, the surgery, nine days in the hospital with no fear. I felt cheerful in spite of everything, even not knowing how things would turn out. I also had two very good experiences with other people in the hospital.
I know myself pretty well and I know I could not have psyched myself into being calm, much less cheerful. I also came to feel that God had a reason for me to be in the hospital at that time.
So, for me, this was a confirmation of my faith in a God who cares about me.
What church teachings do you need to be “convinced” of?
Theology is great.
The Study of God.
I think you’ll also need the
Catechism of the Catholic Church
THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
"I Believe"—“We Believe”
We begin our profession of faith by saying: “I believe” or “We believe.” Before expounding the Church’s faith, as confessed in the Creed, celebrated in the liturgy, and lived in observance of God’s commandments and in prayer, we must first ask what “to believe” means. Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life. Thus we shall consider first that search (Chapter One), then the divine Revelation by which God comes to meet man (Chapter Two), and finally the response of faith (Chapter Three).
The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:
May God Bless you on this journey.**:signofcross:
and for good measure
providing scripture evidence for the teachings of the Catholic Church scripturecatholic.com/
Ah, Pascal’s Wager. Few holes in that, unfortunately. It assumes the Catholic god is the correct god - what if you are really worshiping in the wrong way and offending God even more? It also assumes that “faith” by fear of consequences will net the same benefits of faith by love. If you follow this and the Church is wrong, you will lose something, such as time praying, tithing money, etc.
His argument goes something like this (I’ve never read it in detail, so excuse my summary):
If #4 is true, you live your life, die, and that’s the end. If #3 is true, the same thing happens. However, if #1 or #2 are true, eternal life or torment is at stake.
Based on rudimentary statistics, there’s a 50/50 chance that God exists; pretty high odds for betting one’s status for eternity.
Weighing the odds, and that’s what Pascal’s argument is all about, losing time praying and some tithing money vs. an eternity of torment? That’s a no-brainer.
In any case, to the OP, classroom education probably isn’t going to convince you of much. Faith is…well…a matter of faith. Pretty much everything you need to know is in the CCC. Read that first. Go to mass. Pray for faith.
If you still need more convincing or explanation, keep doing those things and read on your own…many things are online…but keep in mind that not just one theologian or resourse is going to give you all the answers; some matters of faith cannot be explained in human terms and are, necessarily, matters of faith.
That’s the beauty of the Catholic faith; St. Anselm’s motto, “fides quarens intellectum”…faith seeking understanding.
Peace and blessings to you from Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
If you have a science mind and want a practical major try engineering.
If you want to help your brother and try to make the world a kinder and holier place, try theology.
If it is about you, then yeah try science. If it is about everybody else, then yeah the church needs you.
If you want one reason to believe, I can’t help you. If you want thousands, try Jesus Christ and His Church.
If you need to shrinkwrap gospel down to a postage stamp then I can’t help you, nor can anyone else here. But if you are willing to open your mind to all the wonderful possibilities that God loves you and He loves the other billions of people here and He needs people to go out into the harvest for the workers are few, then try religion.
Yeap, Pascal’s wager isn’t the best argument for belief; however, it is still an argument nonetheless. The fact is, that someone who God has not called will not ever come to Him. So, we can debate why one should or should not believe all day and aside from planting seeds, it will only be God who effects belief in an individual. God bless.
You already do believe something about the fundamental origins of everything. Assuming only that you accept that the world around us actually exists, then you must have some belief as to how and why the world exists. So, can you give one reason to believe what you already do believe about the how and the why of the existence of this world?
The point is that the atheist position is not, as so many people assume, the logical fallback position, the Occam’s Razor position. Rather, it rests every bit as much on faith (belief in things not proven) as does theism. So any belief in atheism must be scrutinized every bit as closely as any belief in theism. Belief in a world without God must be every bit as justified as belief in a world with God.
Thank you all for the replies. As I suspected it all comes down to faith of which I have none, although I have done all I could to obtain this “gift”.
Every religion is based on faith even Buddhism, but at least Buddhism holds out the promise of discovering the truth of their doctrines on karma and rebirth by obtaining the fourth level dhyana (meditation) at which point you will see your past lives.
Love.Where does it come from, if not from God. What is it, if not God. Why does it exist, if not because of God.
Empathy, this is seen in other species besides homo sapiens.
Of course there’s also Scott Hahn’s newest: Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith
Yup, I’ve read this one. It’s an apologetics book aimed for defending the Catholic faith as opposed to other forms of Christianity.
I recommend Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.
see David Hume’s “Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion”
What is it that you are looking for? What church teachings do you need to be “convinced” of?
The Apostles’ Creed would be a good start.
I would think that studying the lives of the saints would give you an idea as to why
So, can you give one reason to believe what you already do believe about the how and the why of the existence of this world?
I believe in the scientific method and empirical evidence. Scientists don’t have all the answers to the universe, but they’re ok with that. They’re working on them.
The point is that the atheist position is not, as so many people assume, the logical fallback position, the Occam’s Razor position. Rather, it rests every bit as much on faith (belief in things not proven) as does theism
You’re assuming I’m a “strong” atheist whereas I simply lack belief in the existence of any gods. I am not making the claim that the Christian God does not exist.
To echo Carl Sagan, “claims require evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”
No, I think you misunderstand. If you lack the belief in the existence of any gods, and if you accept the existence of the world around you, then you must believe that the world around you exists because of, is explained by, some other unproven reason.
For the sake of this argument it doesn’t even matter what exactly you believe that reason is. The point is, as soon as you say the explanation isn’t God, then you are claiming indirectly that the explanation is something else. But what reason do you have to make this claim? Such a claim is every bit as much based on faith as a claim of God. If I find a lawnmower in my bathtub and I claim that no human action caused the lawnmower to be in my bathtub, then I am also making the claim that some non-human action caused the lawnmower to be in my bathtub. Once I accept that the lawnmower is indeed in my bathtub, then I acknowledge that there must be an explanation behind that reality.
So why do you have the faith to believe in a non-God explanation, but not the faith to believe in a God explanation? Why do you hold the latter explanation to a higher standard of proof than the former explanation, when you should hold them to equal standards? To ask in terms of Sagan’s question, what extraordinary evidence do you have for your extraordinary claim that the existence of the universe has a natural (not supernatural) explanation?
The existence of love, as another poster said. Also the existence of evil, which, as the Church teaches, goes beyond reason. Both of these realities are transcendent, in their own ways. Also the undeniable fact of suffering which the Church deals with and the ultimate lack of control we have over our lives and destinies, culminating in death, which the Church also deals with.