List of intelligent Catholics


Does anyone know of a list of intelligent people throughout history who have embraced the Catholic faith in particular (preferrably) or Christianity in general? I know there are a lot, but I’d like to see a list I can forward to someone.

I’m looking for people who have been well-respected, preferrably by Christians and non-Christians alike. The greater number of scientists on the list, the better.

The purpose is to prove to an atheist who has a great respect for science that religion is not merely emotional comfort for non-intellectuals.


If you’re feeling generous you could gift your friend a copy of the 5-volume translation of the Summa Theologica.


Does this Wikipedia article have what you are looking for? It lists Christian thinkers, Catholic and otherwise, color-coded by their religion.


Get Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis! He was an atheist, but converted to Church of England. I have been reading this and thoroughly enjoying it, and have so far found nothing in it offensive to Catholicism. His explanation of how he came to believe in God is so darn LOGICAL… I don’t see how anyone could say he makes no sense or is stupid.


Well, really, am I to understand that Catholicism or Christianity is only worthwhile if embraced by “the intelligent”? :confused:

Isn’t that rather a slap in the face for the millions and billions of people who never perhaps achieved some sort of ‘intellectual’ trophy but who used every ounce of whatever brain, muscle, and soul God gave them to hold and teach the Catholic faith for themselves and their friends/ family and anyone else they encountered?

I often think, like the story of Christ’s rich man and the eye of the needle, it is harder for the ‘intelligent’, especially in more recent times, to come to the Kingdom of Heaven. Like any one who holds ‘something’ he considers ‘his own’ (the rich man credited his many possessions and found them ‘greater’ than Christ’s call); likewise many --not all, but many-- ‘intelligent’ people consider their intelligence ‘greater’ than Christ’s call as well.

I often think of St. Louis De Montfort, who spoke of the many scrupulous devotees of Christ, those who believed themselves (with reason, to be fair) to be intelligent and belittled the ‘common man’ and the 'common practices while themselves trying to come up with the most creative ways to justify going against those ‘common’ things, like devotion to Mary, childlike faith in God, frequent attendance at Mass and the sacraments, recitation of traditional prayers like the rosary. They were so convinced of how bright and clever they were in jettisoning those things which were ‘only good for the less intelligent and worthwhile’ who could not understand the lofty thoughts which ‘improved’ on the word of God and the teachings of Holy Mother Church.

IOW, I am pretty certain that, in any list of ‘intelligent’ Catholics who were called to the Faith, they themselves would list their own ‘intelligence’ dead last in their self-evaluation, and their main concern would be how best to live the Faith they embraced, with heart, soul, mind and strength.


The purpose is to prove to an atheist who has a great respect for science that religion is not merely emotional comfort for non-intellectuals.

Read St. Louis de Montfort. Really.

Your friend is attempting to stack the deck right from the start. Have you seen it?

Right away, the question becomes, not whether religion is true or not true, but your having to ‘prove’ that it is 'not merely emotional comfort for non-intellectuals.

What poppycock! What balderdash! How immensely arrogant that person is in his false assumption and his own ‘criteria’ for worthiness!

Either religion is true, or it is not, and anything else about it–how it ‘appears’, how it ‘feels’, how it is practiced, etc. is totally secondary.

Please tell him you would be delighted to speak on a religion’s truth–but that you refuse to redefine religion merely to meet with his own narrow and incorrect definitions of religion.

God bless.


I dunno…I agree with your reaction to the arrogant friend. But, hey, anything that might open the door. If this tack is what it takes for this person to start a faith journey, then using that to begin evangelizing can’t be a bad thing. If the person is sincere, they will realize what an arrogant horse’s rear they were later on in the process.

I really think Mere Christianity is perfect for a person like the OP described. Plus, it’s fairly short overall, and it’s broken up into essays, so it’s never overwhelming.

However, Larry1700, be aware that this friend may just be baiting you into a useless exercise in which he will just be obtuse and stubborn on purpose. But if his seeking is sincere, then you are doing a real Spiritual Work of Mercy by helping set his feet on the path.


Have him read The Everlasting Man by the truly brilliant G. K. Chesterton and then come back and say that Christians have to be soft in the head to believe in God and Christ.


I understand whee you are coming from Larry, I know people like your friend who think religion is for the simple-minded. I work with someone who thinks religion is about politics and controlling the masses.

Buzzcut has a good suggestion, the Summa takes some reading, as does practically anything by Peter Kreeft (I wouldn’t give him to many people I know).

Actually, we have had many of the greatest minds embrace Catholicism, either as cradle Catholics or who were drawn to it.

If it is a genuine enquiry, you can tell him to check on Google, otherwise, if he is playing with you, don’t waste your time casting “pearls before swine”, back off and pray for him.


Blaise Pascal was a famous mathematician, and a Catholic as well. Although his Wager is not without error, there is a collection of his writings, Pensees, which is quite good.


Dr. Stephen Barr wrote a book called Modern Physics and Ancient Faith…he has a chapter that is FULL of scientists who were Christians and/or Catholics.

He was also a guest on Catholic Answers Live in January called “Are Science and Religion in Conflict?” You can listen to it here. I think he talks about some of the scientists.


All Catholics are intelligent by definition. If not, they wouldn’t be Catholic.:cool:


THe wager was not meant as end all just an intoductory question to get you thinking Pascal’s Pensees adressed the deeper questions once you say yes to the wager. IF the wager was meant as a endall than yes it is sorely lacking but by no means was it meant to be taken that way and in a post modern and secularist world I think it still gets the whells turning in a doubting society. Anyways brilliant man and great Cathololic thinker.


Thank you all for your help. I have passed the information on, and hopefully it will take root.


Dunno if this guy is Catholic, but he’s probably as smart and scientifically inclined as any human alive…and he’s a Christian.


Anything by John Paul II from his time as a professor of philosophy, or by Card. Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, will be great.

Besides, religion can be emotional comfort to intellectuals as well. :stuck_out_tongue:


I think Francis Collins is a deist right now he used to be a rabid atheist so he’s come a long way I don’t think he’s converted to any form of Christiantiy yet but it appears he is open to God and I would love for him to join the catholic church I am sure he could help our cause as an intelligent apologist againt atheistic Darwinism and meanwhile not be descredited as just another fundamentalist literal creationist because he is not that either.


John Paul II Encyclical on Faith and Reason is a tour de force in this arena is quite underated. Peter Kreeft is quite the thinker himself though one would have to be interested more in philospohy than science to really get him.


I take it you mean, besides CA forum denizens.

you could just show him our membership list.


Actually, like many here I consider myself to be an intelligent Catholic, although your friend may dispute that. I am a cradle Catholic, but, like many other cradle Catholics I left the practice of the Faith in my latter teen years, only to return/revert in a search for God ie. a meaning for the reason for existence.

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