I’m an atheist. My Catholic father thinks I’ll go to heaven


Then you’re not an atheist, you’re a nontheistic agnostic.

Atheists emphatically deny even the possibility of a deity existing.


Jumping into your conversation here.

Obviously, there has to be a tipping point for finally walking away from one’s faith.

What do you think the difference is between believers and non-believers?

A glass half full vs half empty approach to life in general perhaps?

I just read a comment today by an atheist who said if God was real he would be on Facebook or twitter making his presence known. My immediate thought response was “he is making his presence known and it’s called nature!” (I see God when I hear the wings of a hummingbird or shadows on the mountains).

That’s two people seeing the same situation with two different viewpoints. I’m curious what you think makes people decide to be a believer or not.


For me, it began at about 17 years old and I didn’t call myself agnostic until about 40 years old. It was a long slow slog with multiple attempts to try and believe. I just don’t and I don’t know why. The best I’ve come up with is that somehow my brain just isn’t wired for God belief. While I’m not autistic, I am at the borderline…does that matter? I don’t know. I do know that I loved my belief in God and did NOT want to lose it. I’d welcome it back and I know many folks that hold out that hope for me.

At this point, all I remember is not feeling God anymore, not seeing God and not hearing God…all of which I begged for…something! I’m very serious when I say that nothing traumatic happened, no deaths in the family, I wasn’t mad at God…I just felt like He faded away…never to return. After about three years of crying to my Rabbi, talking with my family and friends, I began to reach out to other religions. Mainly Christianity. Nothing. I then went on a many year quest to study about why I lost my faith, reading others that lost and found it again. Reading about those that had and lost it like me. That’s when I discovered that there WERE other people like me though most of them (not all) were glad to be rid of it.

I’m still fascinated by people’s beliefs and why they believe. For now, I just seem incapable of belief in the supernatural. It just doesn’t click. I respect and even sometimes envy those that can have such strong beliefs. It’s a comfort I had and now don’t but I accept it.

Yes, it would be lovely if God gave everyone some absolute sign of His existence but He doesn’t…for whatever reasons. I don’t demand some booming voice from the sky. So many have had a personal event that assured them of His existence, I’ve never had that. So many feel God working in their lives, I’ve never had that. Some just trust that He’s there, I don’t have that. I just don’t have faith.

Sorry, that was looooong!


Your father should’ve read Lumen gentium a bit more carefully in seminary, then. :wink:

So, if there were a point at which you (as a Catholic) said, “yep, this is truth” and then later said, “nah… not so much”… then you kinda fall into this category. There are definitely mitigating factors – “escape clauses” if you will – but your father’s idea that “since you don’t believe in God, you don’t reject Him” isn’t one of them.

There are other conversations that we could have on the topic, but your father’s idea just doesn’t hold water. Maybe – as other posters have suggested – his love for you makes it difficult for him to entertain the proposition that your rejection of God means that his belief system says you’ll spend eternity separated from God. :man_shrugging:

There are atheists of many stripes. They tend to get ticked off when we tell them what (and what not) they believe. :wink:


Thank you for sharing. It seems there is the constant wearing away of our faith if we are not actively working to preserve it.

Have you ever read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis?

I think Lewis does the most brilliant job at illustrating (through letters between a junior devil and a senior devil) how our faith can begin to wear down and completely lost if we are not careful.

I highly recommend it. I would love your thoughts. It’s a thin book but deep in meaning.


I read it many years ago and honestly don’t remember it. Thanks! I’ll find a copy and read it again. If you’d like, I can PM you when I’m done.


Yes, I would like that.


The day will come when we will all find out.




The wager is simple. One is either right or one is wrong. What is one willing to bet?


Your dad is flat out wrong.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. - Mark 16:16

If you do not get saved, you will burn in hell forever. I suggest you pray to God and get saved.


My bet is our dead bodies end up in a box, shroud or casket or cremated or disposed of via some related process. At this point we won’t know because our existence will have ceased.


Atheists and skeptics know the truth, completely or in part, of the existence of God. So, what explains their atheism? Either they acknowledge the reality of God and refuse to worship Him, or they have disbelieved for so long that their consciences have become dull and they no longer feel the guilt of their sin or the conviction of the truth of God, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

Knowing that even the most ardent atheists actually know there is a God, even though they are willfully choosing not to acknowledge this truth, should give the witnessing Christian great confidence. Armed with the knowledge that the unbeliever knows the truth, that the Holy Spirit is speaking to his or her heart, and that God is active in the witnessing process, should encourage all believers to be bold in their witness for Jesus.

Atheists may not believe in God, but, according to His Word, they cannot say they never knew that they should.


I don’t believe that anyone can say with certainty where you’ll be. Man spends too much time trying to figure out what God will do rather than doing what He says.

I have been in a similar position. I was not an atheist but definitely wrestling with questions about God and the rest. I ended up at a Conservative synagogue. It was a place a peace where I could work through my questions and do some soul searching without pressure or arguments.

Their love and grace were important elements of my homecoming. I used to teach in the Alpha program and forbid my partners from impressing their beliefs on others for this reason. While they mean well most prohibit the individual from drawing their own conclusions and many fall away later on. The Spirit does the work. He prepares the soil to receive the message. Not man.

Our group included a number of homeless men. I used to converse with someone in my neighborhood but the pastor wasn’t aware. My hands-off grace-filled approach (with lots of prayer) resulted in 9/10 finding permanent homes and employment. Confessions of faith from all. One foregoing the occult and another giving up alcohol and gambling. He was addicted to both.

Love covers. I don’t have answers for you but I have infinite trust that if you decide to seek the truth a path will be given to you to find it. :slight_smile:


There we go. Fixed that for ya. You’re welcome. :wink:


Since humans are both body(mortal) and soul (immortal), then we are already immortal from conception. The soul can’t die. It lives forever, (memory intellect and will) fully intact forever. It’s true our body (Mortal side) ceases to exist …temporarily. However, Body reunites to the soul at the resurrection of the dead at the end of time. Where the soul was since death of the body occurred, then both body and soul reunite and are either in heaven or hell. Purgatory ceases to exist because there are no more births or deaths. Those at the time who are in purgatory go to heaven.

I know you don’t believe in this, but then that’s also part of one’s wager, the bet, … true?


Do those souls who would have gone to purgatory had the person died before the final resurrection go to heaven in an unclean state or do they only get hell when the resurrection happens?


As Revelations teaches nothing unclean enters it

As for Purgatory, and the passage just linked to, a person who is in the book of life, goes to heaven after they die, whether purgatory is first or a straight shot to heaven, THEY go to heaven. Only THEY (in the book of life) go to heaven. All others don’t.

That doesn’t mean God capriciously sends anyone to hell and keeps THEM out of the book of life because that’s what He wanted to do from the beginning. God desires all to be saved. We OTOH God gave us ALL free will. And our choices have consequences. God knows before the foundation of the world, what everyone’s final choice is.


I think I understand your answer although it didn’t exactly answer my query. I understand the Catholic position to be: only those whose name is written in the Book of Life will ultimately go to heaven but most will go there via purgatory to rid the soul of the stain of sin which cleanses it and makes it clean for entrance into heaven. My question deals with the millions of people in the resurrection whose soul needs cleansing but there is no purgatory anymore. How do those souls get clean to enter heaven without purgatory?


There maybe some confusion here

Purgatory doesn’t ultimately save everyone.

Re: Purgatory (footnotes at the end)

[1031] The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

606 Cf. Council of Florence (1439):DS 1304; Council of Trent (1563):DS 1820; (1547):1580; see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336):DS 1000.
607 Cf. 1 Cor 3:15; 1 Pet 1:7.
1 cor 3:15 , 1Pet 1:7
608 St. Gregory the Great, Dial . 4,39:PL 77,396; cf. Mt 12:31

In short

Anyone who dies in mortal sin doesn’t go to purgatory. Mortal sin mentioned in scripture. They who die in that sin go to hell. Purgatory is only for those who die in a state of grace ( no mortal sin on the soul at death ) and thereby need final purification before heaven.

Where does it come from, that those who die in “mortal sin” go to hell?

Some of many passages that describe mortal sins and the consequence which is why they are called (mortal / grave / deadly). Hell is the consequence

Galatians 5: 19 - 21
Ephesians 5:3-5
1 Corinthians 6:9-10

For added info

Re: the book of life from scripture

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