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


Well, there is Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, who wrote a short book entitled “Dare We Hope that All Men Be Saved?” some decades ago. It is still in print, and I see that Amazon has it available. I read it some time ago. My recollection is that he seemed hopeful but not certain.


Of course, this question was asked of another poster, so it’s a little tricky to pick it up from here. However, I really enjoy the conversation so I’ll give it a shot.

What I was, am, asking is, at what point do atheists need proof to believe something is true or to at least be willing to give it a go?

Obviously, most of us are not going to question everything we are told all day long. However, a police officer might. A judge…

Let me try to be more succinct using my previous analogy.

If person A claims to have found migraine relief by using essential oils, and there has been no scientific studies to back up their claim*, would/should person B, a migraineur, take their claim seriously and use essential oils to see if they find relief from their debilitating migraines?

*my son is attending a university in the Midwest and the students were asked to present on a topic. One group was presenting on the benefits of essential oils and were asked to stop their presentation because essential oils have not been scientifically studied, according to the professor, and therefore were not considered to be a suitable topic. I haven’t verified if the professor is correct, however I’m using his professional opinion for this post.


He has the right to think what he wants. Only God can know the true answer.


The belief in God is not a guaranteed passport to heaven. You are judged in your actions in how you’ve treated people especially those who are least among us as written in Matthew 25:31-46 - The Judgment of the Nations. Perhaps, this is where your father is basing his rationale. God doesn’t automatically condemn people to hell. If you’ve earned enough good deeds, there is still purgatory where people can make up for their sins.

Bible Passage

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ "Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ "The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

"Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ "They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ "He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


Not necessarily because they rejected God but because they failed to do his commandments.

Aren’t we also ultimately judged on our actions specially towards those least amongst us despite our beliefs in Him? Didn’t Satan and 1/3 of the angels believe in God and yet they were thrown in hell, which was made for them, not necessarily because they refused to believe in Him but because they refused to obey Him by not doing God’s will and his commandments?


So… a citation is unreliable because it comes from catholic.com…? :thinking:

Well, his resume might be impressive. Whether it’s impressive with respect to being in step with Catholic teaching is a whole 'nother question… :wink:


This is the dictionary definition of agnosticism: “a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena”.


Do you have anything to add to my question?

But yes, I can not claim to know (ie a-gnostic). I don’t know (since I can’t prove it). I’m clearly not a theist as well, right?

I don’t know. I don’t believe. I’m agnostic. I’m atheist.


Yes. A “citation” is most definitely not referring to posts on a message board.

What do you think about my original question?


I’d think that most responses to this inquiry would have been exhausted by now. What exactly are you looking for that you didn’t already get?


Out of the 200+ responses here, only a handful of honest, empathetic answers (including these, and yours). Its not been very helpful at all. I’m not the one who keeps responding.


Here is a LINK to a rather detailed history by Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. In it, he outlines the teaching about who can be saved, and how thar doctrine has developed over the years. Near the end he summarizes like this:

“Who, then, can be saved? Catholics can be saved if they believe the Word of God as taught by the Church and if they obey the commandments. Other Christians can be saved if they submit their lives to Christ and join the community where they think he wills to be found. Jews can be saved if they look forward in hope to the Messiah and try to ascertain whether God’s promise has been fulfilled. Adherents of other religions can be saved if, with the help of grace, they sincerely seek God and strive to do his will. Even atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice.”


Connect the dots, my friend. :wink:

The OP says his father thinks he will go to heaven, even though he’s a Catholic who is now an atheist. @JimG pointed to one ‘Catholic’ who would agree (on account of his misguided support for universalism). The link discusses, among other things, that ‘apokatastasis’ – that is, the teaching that all go to heaven – is incorrect.

So… yeah. What makes that ‘unreliable’? :thinking:

Which question? About ‘resumes’? I already answered that one.


Appreciate the link but yeah that’s a lot. Cliff notes anywhere by chance? Thank you for responding to my question (I’ll look into him more).


What dots? (And what are you winking at? Someone being eternally tortured?) Also, I’m the OP. I (think) I agree with your interpretation of Catholic teaching. I’m asking for catholic rebuttals to that thinking.


LOL! 255 posts later, I’d forgotten. :wink:


Hilarious. You’re going to hell and I’m laughing out loud in all caps at your sincerity. Wink wink wink


Sorry, looks like it’s beating a dead horse at this point. Thank you all for your comments :+1:


You don’t believe in God, right? So… you don’t believe in hell, right?

And, I’m laughing at my mistake. Not yours. :wink:


The context of the wink seems to imply something else.

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