I am new to the forums (just joined today), and I'm still not entirely sure where to post this. I decided to choose the "Prayer Requests" forum, because it seemed the most reasonable, but it's a little bit more than that. Allow me to explain.
I am 26 years old, and I've been on somewhat of a complicated spiritual journey that started in late high school/early college. I was baptized and raised Lutheran, but attended Catholic school from grades 6 through 12. I attended a very large, liberal university for my undergraduate studies, dated a devout (non-denominational) Christian for 2 years, made frequent visits to a good friend at Franciscan University, and acquired a vast variety of (mostly atheist) friends and experiences throughout my college and post-college life. I should also note that I've been struggling with anxiety and depression for many years, and at one point in my life was seeing a Catholic counselor who gave me a copy of the Catechism and was trying to lead me to Christ through the Catholic Church.
I've done lots of research and read lots of books, articles, and blogs, but sometimes it's difficult for a pessimistic, cynical person like myself with anxiety and depression, because I often get worked up and upset, and end up staying up until 4 AM reading or crying/panicking. At the end of the day, all I want to know is the one, universal Truth - there can only be one. I'm a smart, science-minded person, and I don't want to believe in fairy stories if they are not true, even if they will make me feel better. Therefore, I've found myself at an impasse. After researching the various offshoots of Christianity, as well as dozens of world religions and secular beliefs out there, I have decided that the Truth lies in one of two places - atheism, or the Roman Catholic Church. Basically, either God exists, or he doesn't. That's what I'm trying to figure out.
Obviously, since I've posted on this forum, I am leaning toward Catholicism mostly out of hope for the meaning of life, and for something better than what this world has to offer, but I'm willing to accept atheism if I discover it to be the Truth, even if it's not something I desire. I find myself a bit reluctant to post this on atheist forums, only because I feel like many of them (not all of them) would say something along the lines of, "DON'T GO TO CHURCH! IT'S A TRAP FULL OF LIES! RELIGION IS THE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN!" What I am looking for is encouragement, questions to consider, and possible pros/cons for me to weigh, instead of blatant demands to not go the other way because of X, Y, or Z. Does that make any sense?
What I am asking for is this:
(1. What do you believe? (I'd like responses from Catholics as well as non-Catholics/non-religious folks.)
(2. Why do you believe it is the Truth? (Defend your faith, or non-faith.)
(3. Can you recommend any books for me to read? (I'm particularly interested in Catholic apologetics.)
(4. Prayers for my conversion. (One way or the other. I can't live my entire life being stuck on the fence about this.)
If you've taken the time to read all of this, I sincerely appreciate it. One more thing I'd like to add is to please let me know if you think I should be posting this on a different forum for some reason. I just don't want to be wasting forum space on something that seems out of place.
Thank you so much for your time. I eagerly await your responses.