Hi everyone. I hope I’m posting this in the right sub-forum. If not, feel free to move it to the right one. This is gonna be a very long post, with quite a lot of questions, I’ll be grateful for any answers, even if they don’t address all the questions. Also, remember that I am absolutely not here to criticize anyone’s beliefs, please don’t interpret my questions like that, I’m simply interested and curious. Please only read on if you’re okay with questions about your faith.
I’ve recently become interested in Catholicism, especially after discovering the videos of Father Barron on youtube, a very wise and likable Catholic priest. Further, considering that almost all Catholics I’ve met (who are mostly also from other cultures, as I’m Scandinavian) have been very happy, humble, kind-hearted and confident people. So, I thought there must be something great about this religion, or branch of Christianity.
Upon further reading, there are many appealing things. Like the seven holy virtues and the seven deadly sins, I nodded myself through them when I read them, there’s so much wisdom in that. How it captures the essence of the primitive animal parts of us who should be controlled, or else it will devastate both ourselves and society, and the noble altruistic things that are above that, which make us human. And the stability of the Catholic Church, the rites, the art, it’s all very appealing. Also, the fact that most Catholics accept science and feel it’s compatible with belief.
I’m curious to learn more, so I have many questions, both on morals and theology:
One thing is contraception, while it seems that most Catholics don’t have any problem with it, Catholic priests and the Pope condemn it, don’t they? I agree that it’s not a good thing to have sex with strangers, but I don’t think sex should only be for making kids, after you’re married. As long as you are in a serious relationship with someone you deeply love, shouldn’t sex be a natural part of that? And isn’t availability of contraception a good thing? I think both pro-choice and pro-life people can agree that the ideal thing is as few abortions as possible, and a solution to that is contraception.
Another thing is homosexuality. Is that really a sin? I know Paul condemns it, but he also condemns women speaking in church, and men having long hair (too bad for Jesus). As far as I know, Jesus and the other disciples didn’t condemn these things, couldn’t it just be that Paul had a personal bias against that? Actually, I find it hard to believe that Jesus, who was such a great man, would have a problem with homosexuals loving each other.
I can understand that it doesn’t feel right that a church or other religious institution should be forced to marry homosexuals, if they believe marriage should be between one man and one woman, but don’t you guys agree that they should have the same legal rights, both financially and for adoption?
On a similar note, can women become priests, bishops, etc? Even pope, for that matter? If not, why not?
Then, there’s some theological questions. First of all, free will seems to be a very definite part of the religion? Or is it really? But isn’t free will very unlikely from a scientific perspective? As far as I’ve read, from science’s perspective, everything is either pre-deterministic, or there is some chance involved, at quantum level, which can sometimes affect things on bigger scales, and thus “change what is destined to happen” so to say.
Then, there’s life after death. This is the big one. I don’t think that we will cease to exist, like some people believe. To me, reincarnation has always seemed like the most logical thing. And maybe also that we are all the same consciousness, experiencing one life at a time. But maybe not.
What is the most convincing reason to believe in heaven and hell, instead of, for example, reincarnation?
And what exactly are Heaven and Hell? Did we exist in heaven before our earthly life? Was this the Garden of Eden? It is said that we cannot fully enjoy joy without agony, so was the fall from grace our own choice, to experience an incomplete world (this), to better enjoy Heaven once we return? If so, will every soul eventually get to Heaven? Could this cycle have been repeated an infinite number of times? Like the Hindu belief that there have been an endless number of universes and life cycles before this one?
Are angels real? If so, are they spirits they didn’t choose to have an earthly life? Can angels, saints and other dead people who go to Heaven watch over us? What about demons and Satan, are they also conscious spirits, or simply symbols for the animalistic and evil sides of us?
What about hell? Do you believe it is a place of eternal torment, temporary torment before coming to heaven, eternal extermination (sort of like what atheists believe), or simply a place without God and the parts of us that make us do good? Sort of like Earth, but with only sociopaths? It seems like this latter thing is what CS Lewis believed, and that the door to hell was locked from the inside? So is hell a place simply without God, but anyone can leave it, if they let themselves be filled with God and his attributes? And then, will they go right to heaven, or have a new life on earth first?
Continued, in reply number 1