I am an atheist and I have some questions for you Catholic folk


#1

Hello everyone my name is Laura :)

Let me open with something to explain myself. I am an atheist but I am not like the majority of most atheists. I do not like the works of 'popular' new atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris. I think they are openly provocative merely for the case of shock. To me, this seems immature and does not strengthen their arguments in anyway. Additionally, I am well versed in scripture and am vastly knowledgeable about the Historical Jesus. I have read many scholars in this field: McGrath, N.T. Wright, Crossan, Borg, Ehrman, Ben Witherington, Gunther Bornkamm and Dunn to name a few. I want to state this in my opening post to show I understand Christianity, as well as Catholicism, and am not trying to cause trouble.

There are some problems however. As much as I ponder Christianity there are many severe problems in the belief. I will present them to you and hope you can answer. Some questions are addressed specifically to Catholicism whilst others are in regards to Christianity in a wider sense.

  • The Catholic Church's position on contraception is not strong

This is a big issue to me. The Catholic Church states that contraception is wrong because it is not letting life have the opportunity to start because the sperm is ejaculated with no hope of conception. This is just not a good argument! The main problem is sperm is nothing more than DNA and is not a living organism. But even going with the falsehood that sperm is anything more than DNA the argument is not good enough. Sperm is 'dying' and being recycled frequently in a male's body: it doesn't matter if you ejaculate. So wouldn't it be better to end your life to stop millions of sperm 'dying'? Isn't this point slightly ridiculous?

  • What about the people who never hear of Christianity

There are people who were born before Christ who never heard his name. There were people who are born in distant lands who never hear of the word of Jesus. Why is God punishing them and not sending them to heaven? Isn't this God's fault? The fact that these people are born in the way they are is no problem of theirs. The world is, after all, God's plan.

  • Why does the Catholic Church practice what Jesus forbids

The Catholic Church has glorious ceremonies. The churches are lavishly built and the sermons are delivered through extravagant garments. But Jesus talks down about this very thing! He says that the rich should give to the poor and not covet to themselves. So, why does the Catholic Church ignore this? Why do they keep millions of money they make in the Vatican to themselves?

  • Why is the Catholic Church against homosexuality

There is not a single reference in the Gospels that says homosexuality is wrong. Not one. I should know because I've read all four :P . The only references against homosexuality is in Saint Paul. But Saint Paul often gets things wrong: he is only human. He talks down to women and says some very derogatory statements about them. So why do we take his message against homosexuality as if it is divine word? Shouldn't we rate women as second-class citizens by that logic?

I have many questions but these are my main ones.

Please answer with kindness :)

Remember what Jesus said: 'respect thy neighbour'


#2

Hi, welcome to CAF.
What have studied that led to this conclusion? I happen to believe that the position is logically valid and sound.
{snip}


#3

I’m sorry? I thought I made my argument clear in my original post? If something is not clear please let me know and explain :slight_smile:


#4

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:1, topic:305933"]
{snip}
- What about the people who never hear of Christianity

There are people who were born before Christ who never heard his name. There were people who are born in distant lands who never hear of the word of Jesus. Why is God punishing them and not sending them to heaven? Isn't this God's fault? The fact that these people are born in the way they are is no problem of theirs. The world is, after all, God's plan.

[/quote]

This is a small sample of the Church's teaching on this matter.

What did you think the Church's position was?
{snip}


#5

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:3, topic:305933"]
I'm sorry? I thought I made my argument clear in my original post? If something is not clear please let me know and explain :)

[/quote]

Your argument was very clear. However, it is a strawman of Church teaching.


#6

This doesn’t help the people who were born before Jesus’ time. As there was no Church to save them, obviously.

So I am still puzzled by this. What happens to the people who were born before Jesus who never knew him? Do they not go to heaven, merely because they were born at the wrong time.

EDIT:

Oh wait I see. So people who act in a way God would approve of in their heart.

But the problem still remains I’m afraid.

What if they never acted in their heart the way Jesus did because they had no way of thinking of it themselves. They are clearly at a disadvantage compared to people now, who have the morals of Jesus to help them.


#7

It is not clear what the “problem” is. God will judge everyone individually on their willingness, and actions, to repent of evil and to do good.


#8

Sex is an act both physical and spiritual. We need to use our bodies as God intended them to be used. You can’t argue that the sperm is just liquid

  • What about the people who never hear of Christianity

The Church has never said that we can have no hope of their salvation. In fact, it has taught for years that every person who has ever lived has had the opportunity to be saved

  • Why does the Catholic Church practice what Jesus forbids

Just different ways of presenting the faith; Jesus did not forbid wealth. The Church does not teach that vestaments ect. are essential to Christianity, but simply that they did not contradict it. Remember what Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew about obeying the ceremonious Jewish leaders- the chair of Moses

Finally, St. Paul is not derogatory about women. People all had their unique position in society in those days, somewhat different from now, but just as with you question about ceremonies and vestaments, different cultures…


#9

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:1, topic:305933"]

There are some problems however. As much as I ponder Christianity there are many severe problems in the belief. I will present them to you and hope you can answer. Some questions are addressed specifically to Catholicism whilst others are in regards to Christianity in a wider sense.

[/quote]

FYI, forum rules specify one topic per thread. You have mulltiple, unrelated questions. They should be separate threads.

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:1, topic:305933"]
- The Catholic Church's position on contraception is not strong

This is a big issue to me. The Catholic Church states that contraception is wrong because it is not letting life have the opportunity to start because the sperm is ejaculated with no hope of conception. This is just not a good argument! The main problem is sperm is nothing more than DNA and is not a living organism. But even going with the falsehood that sperm is anything more than DNA the argument is not good enough. Sperm is 'dying' and being recycled frequently in a male's body: it doesn't matter if you ejaculate. So wouldn't it be better to end your life to stop millions of sperm 'dying'? Isn't this point slightly ridiculous?

[/quote]

You are right, it is a ridiculous argument. Thankfully, that is not at all what the Catholic Church teaches nor is what you have presented in any way the basis of its teaching on contraception.

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:1, topic:305933"]
- What about the people who never hear of Christianity

There are people who were born before Christ who never heard his name. There were people who are born in distant lands who never hear of the word of Jesus. Why is God punishing them and not sending them to heaven? Isn't this God's fault? The fact that these people are born in the way they are is no problem of theirs. The world is, after all, God's plan.

[/quote]

Again, it seems you are not as familiar with Catholiism as you believe you are. This is not what the Church teaches. In fact, just the opposite.

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:1, topic:305933"]
- Why does the Catholic Church practice what Jesus forbids

The Catholic Church has glorious ceremonies. The churches are lavishly built and the sermons are delivered through extravagant garments. But Jesus talks down about this very thing! He says that the rich should give to the poor and not covet to themselves. So, why does the Catholic Church ignore this? Why do they keep millions of money they make in the Vatican to themselves?

[/quote]

Christ did not forbid "glorious" ceremonies, nor building beautiful buildings, nor wearing such garments. You are misinformed regarding the idea that the Church "keeps" millions of dollars to itself. The Catholic Church, in fact, is the largest single charitable organization in the world, going back almost 2000 years when for almost that entire period it was the only organization caring for the poor, sick, widowed, orphaned, and destitute.

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:1, topic:305933"]
- Why is the Catholic Church against homosexuality

There is not a single reference in the Gospels that says homosexuality is wrong. Not one. I should know because I've read all four :P . The only references against homosexuality is in Saint Paul. But Saint Paul often gets things wrong: he is only human. He talks down to women and says some very derogatory statements about them. So why do we take his message against homosexuality as if it is divine word? Shouldn't we rate women as second-class citizens by that logic?

[/quote]

So your argument seems to be that it isn't in Scripture, except for where it is in Scripture, but where it is in scripture, scripture is just wrong. Not much of a logical argument, that.

This is where reading Scripture with no real understanding of Christianity becomes a problem. The decoder ring is not on the right setting.

Always we read scripture from within the Church, not from outside it. Scripture is only one aspect of divine revelation. Homosexual sex acts are wrong for the same reason contraception is wrong. And that is not "dying sperm". Feel free to start a thread on each topic to discuss them.


#10

How does God judge these people though. They clearly are at a disadvantage compared to us in their actions.

Nowadays most people are aware of Jesus. I’m an Atheist but that’s my decision. If Jesus thinks I have acted wrong it’s my own responsibility. I had the morals of Jesus and the Church to help me but I ignored them.

Someone who was born before Jesus does not have this luxury. They have no guidelines in either the messages of Jesus, the Church or the New Testament to which they can follow. For this reason, they may act completely wrong. Look at the Ancient Greeks, they worshipped false idols, had homosexual relations and did not act in a ‘Christian’ way. However, they had no Christian guidelines to help them in their actions.

God will individually judge the actions of all. How is it fair that someone acted in a way that was not Christian will be punished merely because he was born in the wrong time and had
no Christian examples to help him.

Now you can argue back that they can think and act Christian in their own heart. They can think and act like a Christian independently. However, they have no Christian guidelines to help them. They are clearly at a disadvantage compared to us.


#11

Catholics dont believe that just because someone is not christian they are going to hell


#12

Go to link below for a more in depth look at homosexuality and the Catholic Church
catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality

Every human being is called to receive a gift of divine sonship, to become a child of God by grace. However, to receive this gift, we must reject sin, including homosexual behavior—that is, acts intended to arouse or stimulate a sexual response regarding a person of the same sex. The Catholic Church teaches that such acts are always violations of divine and natural law.

Homosexual desires, however, are not in themselves sinful. People are subject to a wide variety of sinful desires over which they have little direct control, but these do not become sinful until a person acts upon them, either by acting out the desire or by encouraging the desire and deliberately engaging in fantasies about acting it out. People tempted by homosexual desires, like people tempted by improper heterosexual desires, are not sinning until they act upon those desires in some manner.

Divine Law

The rejection of homosexual behavior that is found in the Old Testament is well known. In Genesis 19, two angels in disguise visit the city of Sodom and are offered hospitality and shelter by Lot. During the night, the men of Sodom demand that Lot hand over his guests for homosexual intercourse. Lot refuses, and the angels blind the men of Sodom. Lot and his household escape, and the town is destroyed by fire "because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord" (Gen. 19:13).

Throughout history, Jewish and Christian scholars have recognized that one of the chief sins involved in God’s destruction of Sodom was its people’s homosexual behavior. But today, certain homosexual activists promote the idea that the sin of Sodom was merely a lack of hospitality. Although inhospitality is a sin, it is clearly the homosexual behavior of the Sodomites that is singled out for special criticism in the account of their city’s destruction. We must look to Scripture’s own interpretation of the sin of Sodom.

Jude 7 records that Sodom and Gomorrah "acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust." Ezekiel says that Sodom committed "abominable things" (Ezek. 16:50), which could refer to homosexual and heterosexual acts of sin. Lot even offered his two virgin daughters in place of his guests, but the men of Sodom rejected the offer, preferring homosexual sex over heterosexual sex (Gen. 19:8–9). Ezekiel does allude to a lack of hospitality in saying that Sodom "did not aid the poor and needy" (Ezek. 16:49). So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the "abominable thing" that set off God’s wrath.

But the Sodom incident is not the only time the Old Testament deals with homosexuality. An explicit condemnation is found in the book of Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. . . . If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

Natural Law

People have a basic, ethical intuition that certain behaviors are wrong because they are unnatural. We perceive intuitively that the natural sex partner of a human is another human, not an animal.

The same reasoning applies to the case of homosexual behavior. The natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. Thus, people have the corresponding intuition concerning homosexuality that they do about bestiality—that it is wrong because it is unnatural.

Natural law reasoning is the basis for almost all standard moral intuitions. For example, it is the dignity and value that each human being naturally possesses that makes the needless destruction of human life or infliction of physical and emotional pain immoral. This gives rise to a host of specific moral principles, such as the unacceptability of murder, kidnapping, mutilation, physical and emotional abuse, and so forth.


#13

Point 1:

Jesus doesn’t forbid per say but he DOES state that you shouldn’t hoard money. Charity to the poor is something Jesus regularly talks about.

You are right that the Catholic Church gives much money to poor areas. That’s great! However, you cannot deny that the Catholic Church makes much money and keeps it through the Vatican. I’m afraid this is a fact and you cannot argue it down.

Point 2

What I was saying was simple. Scripture that comes from Jesus, the messiah, is clearly more important than a man’s interpretation, albeit a man who is divinely blessed. Jesus says nothing against homosexuality: there is no evidence that he disapproved of it. Isn’t this important to you?


#14

Well Jesus seemed to think that not believing in the Christian God was a major offence. I think that counts for something.


#15

God judges with perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom. Any disadvantages are taken into account.

Nowadays most people are aware of Jesus. I’m an Atheist but that’s my decision. If Jesus thinks I have acted wrong it’s my own responsibility. I had the morals of Jesus and the Church to help me but I ignored them.

All decisions have consequences, so occur immediately, some are delayed.

Someone who was born before Jesus does not have this luxury. They have no guidelines in either the messages of Jesus, the Church or the New Testament to which they can follow. For this reason, they may act completely wrong. Look at the Ancient Greeks, they worshipped false idols, had homosexual relations and did not act in a ‘Christian’ way. However, they had no Christian guidelines to help them in their actions.

God will individually judge the actions of all. How is it fair that someone acted in a way that was not Christian will be punished merely because he was born in the wrong time and had no Christian examples to help him.

Why do you think God doesn’t take these things into account?

Now you can argue back that they can think and act Christian in their own heart. They can think and act like a Christian independently. However, they have no Christian guidelines to help them. They are clearly at a disadvantage compared to us.

Not my argument.


#16

But what if someone has fallen to low? Do you believe people who believe in false gods, have carried out homosexual sex, have had prostitutes, watch gladiatorial violence and death whilst supporting it would be forgiven? By that, I am obviously referring to the Romans.


#17

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:13, topic:305933"]
However, you cannot deny that the Catholic Church makes much money and keeps it through the Vatican. I'm afraid this is a fact and you cannot argue it down.

[/quote]

Actually, it is not a fact. The Vatican runs a fiscal deficit.

[quote="LauraMajestic, post:13, topic:305933"]
What I was saying was simple. Scripture that comes from Jesus, the messiah, is clearly more important than a man's interpretation, albeit a man who is divinely blessed. Jesus says nothing against homosexuality: there is no evidence that he disapproved of it. Isn't this important to you?

[/quote]

Divine Revelation consists of both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Both are equally important.

Your premise that Jesus did not "disapprove" of homosexuality therefore it must be OK is simply completely disconnected from any understanding of the Law given ot Moses, the Natural Law, and Divine Revelation as a whole. Jesus did not pop out of nowhere. God began His revelation of himself many generations before to help the people prepare for the fullness of revelation in Christ Jesus.

Again, I suggest you start separate threads. These are all separate topics. Please follow forum rules.


#18

Point 1
"How is it fair that someone acted in a way that was not Christian will be punished merely because he was born in the wrong time and had
no Christian examples to help him."

They have natural law and God’s grace still; we all have a conscience, right?

Point 2

The word “hoarding” implies the internal sin of overattachment. Money being in the Vatican bank doesn’t support your claims; the moeny is for good future and present use.

Point 3

Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality because it was so rare among Jews in that age.

Point 4
"Well Jesus seemed to think that not believing in the Christian God was a major offence. I think that counts for something."

Jesus blames nobody for not knowing what they were not taught. In fact, He praises the Good Samaritan, who didn’t even have the full knowledge of the Christian God provided by the Jewish tradition!


#19

Do you need to have a written code to tell you that killing an innocent is wrong? or stealing or taking advantage of another human being? or even mistreat an animal causing it harm!
Those are moral laws that every human being has written in his heart. That is what the Church means by “conscience”.
If you live in accordance with your conscience and you were not fortunate to receive the Good News (that is what Gospel means) we Catholics believe that by God’s grace and infinite mercy they too can be saved.


#20

The good Samaritan is not a good example. Firstly, it’s a tradition only found in Luke. This shows that it might not be historically authentic. It is neither in Mark or Q. Secondly, the story itself is not that impressive. The ‘good’ Samaritan is a case of someone who was Christian in his heart despite not knowing Christianity. The whole point of the story is that he’s a rarity: a GOOD SAMARITAN. Most Samaritans were thought of by second-century Jews as immoral and the fact that one can be good in his heart shows how extraordinary he is.


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