On finding God

Okay, so not the Scripture but the Catechism but surely apologetics. Mods, if you find this is the wrong forum category please move the thread.

The Catechism starts with a section on how to get to know God. The so called proofs for God’s existance doesn’t give me much. I fail to see proof there (and even if they did convince me, they don’t necessarily point towards the Christian Gods more than any other opinion about a god or gods).

Then comes this.

38. This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also “about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error”.

Exactly what is included in “God’s revelation” here?

I should be enlightened about truths, of two kinds: religious and moral, both in things that I can understand, and those that really are beyond me. Well, sure there are things that I don’t understand. I just wonder why the Catechism was written in this way.

Regarding moral things, there are things in the teachers of the Catholic Church that everyone agrees on (don’t steal, don’t kill). That’s in most religions, and all the big ones. So those are in themselves not a good reason to turn to the Christian God. Then there are teachings of the Church that many people in the modern world don’t agree with. Some of them make me very much doubt that the Catholic understanding of God - if he exists - is the correct one. That is not a path for me to find God.

Then there’s personal experience, of various kinds. Knowing how we humans search for patterns and generally interpret random events and proof of some kind of system, I am very sceptical of this. Yes, I have some kind of experience that I could interpret as answer to my prayers… if I want to. But there’s so many other ways to interpret them, including wishful thinking and creating emotional experiences in my own head.

In short, I fail to logically find Christan faith credible. Still I find myself drawn to it, for reasons that I can’t explain. A wellknown atheist once said that many atheists don’t understand that religion exists because humans have an evolunary created need for religion. Hence religion is natural, but (in his opinion) not true. I kind of want him to be wrong. If you, people on this forum, can come up with something that can make me think he is, then I will be truly impressed and grateful.

The proofs of God are the traditional idea that, from reasoning on our existence and the creation we see around us, we can come to the faith that God exists, because something caused creation. However, that’s the limit: we know only that a Creator exists, and that the Creator has certain qualities that make him divine.

Beyond that–for example, that God is specifically the Christian God, you need revelation. The Trinity is one such mystery that we only grasp or believe through revelation.

Also included is a greater assurance of religious and moral truths. For example here, we can consider natural law. All cultures have similar prohibitions: murder, the wanton killing of other human persons, is wrong. They disagree on what qualifies as a wanton killing, or who is to be considered human, but in general you cannot just kill anyone who is human. Similarly, we need to respect the property of others (no stealing), some respect for the marriage of others (no adultery), and certain times when truth is demanded (no false witness).

So we have basic moral truths that are similar–but what is their proper form? That is harder to identify, because the moral truths of each person do vary–as a consequence of sin. Our minds and wills are clouded and corrupted, so that we no longer know and desire only what is good. Thus we need revelation to show us in a pure form what the natural laws entail. In theory we could get there simply with human abilities, such as reason and observation of the consequences of inadequate ideas, but in practice we need revelation to give us that clarity of vision and that assurance that we need to “get it right.”

As for your desire to believe, you may be feeling what St. Augustine once said, from his own experience: “our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in thee.” We were made for God, in God’s image and likeness, and will find no total fulfillment until we once again bear that likeness in us.

You say you fail to find the Christian faith credible.

You don’t need to start by finding everything credible. You only need to have the humility to admit that just because you don’t find something credible doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true.

With that humble start you can seek after the God who has promised you in Scripture that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

So just start to pray a simple prayer from the heart each day. For example: “God, as you know, there are many things I don’t understand. If you’re there, please reveal yourself to me in a way I can understand.” Approaching Him humbly means reading the Gospels with an open heart rather than a critical mind. Also, be open to accepting an invitation to go to church or to a prayer meeting if someone invites you.

God cannot resist the humble. If you approach Him with humility and continue pressing in, He will respond by granting you some type of grace. If you make good use of it, He’ll grant you more. Soon things that previously made no sense to you will start to make sense.

God bless.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis

“…If you are really a product of the materialistic universe, how is it you don’t feel at home there?” - C.S. Lewis

I believe C.S. Lewis said it well here -

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” - C.S. Lewis

I believe It’s the same with God, instead of trying to look at the sun, I believe we should turn around and have a look at all that the sun illuminates for us. I believe many people are like that when it comes to God, they try to stare into the sun and say “I can’t see anything”, instead of looking around at what the sun illuminates for them. (Thus the importance of spiritual reading such as the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the Saints etc). I think this is what they are getting at in the CCC you quoted above.

I hope you don’t mind AtDawn if I share with you some apologetics that have helped me. :slight_smile:

I believe to follow the concept of a purely material universe to it’s logical conclusion, pulls the rug out from under the New Atheists. As John Lennox say’s, If as they claim, there is nothing in the universe except matter and energy, some of which blindly and randomly evolved into the human mind, then how can we rely on our minds in the first place to arrive at this conclusion? Our minds are themselves, according to this Darwinian view, mere random purposeless movements of atoms, unable to recognise truth, or beauty, or goodness, to know anything, or to do science for that matter.

And yet other scientists of undisputed intellectual stature with diametrically opposed views concur that, ‘The reason why what is in my little mind can understand a bit of what is out there is because both of them are traceable back to the same grand designer.’

C.S. Lewis I believe also explains it very well.

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.” - C.S. Lewis

“The theory that thought is merely a movement in the brain is, in my opinion, nonsense; for if so, that theory itself would be merely a movement, an event among atoms, which may have speed and direction but of which it would be meaningless to use the words true or false.” - C.S. Lewis

I believe another poster also put it well when he said “I believe in God because I believe in free will. If all we are is matter, then all our actions are due to the laws of physics and random movements of particles. The concept of an immaterial soul allows for the possibility of free will. That’s what really allowed me to grab on to faith in God. I made the decision to decide that I had free will. If I am wrong, then nothing really matters and I can’t control my thoughts and ideas anyway.”

I also like this quote from C.S. Lewis -

Please continue to next post -

And this one by John Lennox regarding the ‘God of the Gaps’ idea, as if God is an explanation for what science can’t explain yet -

“Be careful not to confuse scientific statements, with statements by scientists.” - John Lennox

I would also like to share with you some Eucharistic Miracles that I have come across.

*What are Eucharistic Miracles? Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, Jesus has proven beyond any doubt that He is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. Why did He have to prove this to us? It is because at certain times in history, there were heresies that denied the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. On other occasions, some priests doubted the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And yet, on other occasions, the Holy Eucharist was abused by believers and non-believers alike.

What follows are some of the Eucharistic Miracles that took place throughout the history of the Catholic Church. All of these have received the full approval of the Catholic Church.*

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Eucharistic Miracles of the World - therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/engl_mir.htm

I would like to draw particular attention to three Eucharistic Miracles that have been subject to many scientific studies.

**Eucharistic Miracle of Poland, Sokólka, October 12, 2008 **

Sokólka, October 12, 2008 (Part 1) – (PDF: 1.41M)
Sokólka, October 12, 2008 (Part 2) – (PDF: 1.31M)
Sokólka, October 12, 2008 (Part 3) – (PDF: 1.41M)

**Eucharistic Miracle of Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1996 **

(note: The scientific investigations into this Eucharistic Miracle were instigated by Pope Francis then known as the Argentina Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio).

Buenos Aires, 1992 - 1994 - 1996 (part 1) - (PDF: 1.46M)
Buenos Aires, 1992 - 1994 - 1996 (part 2) - (PDF: 1.42M)
Buenos Aires, 1992 - 1994 - 1996 (part 3) - (PDF: 1.25M)

Eucharistic Miracle of Italy, Lanciano, 750 A.D.

Lanciano, 750 A.D. (part 1) – (PDF: 186k)
Lanciano, 750 A.D. (part 2) – (PDF: 194k)

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The Sacred Heart Image (St Margaret-Mary Alacoque) -

http://s7.postimg.org/4jx43bm1n/Christ_7.jpg

This is the revelation which took place in June 1675 when St Margaret Mary was before the Blessed Sacrament (The Holy Eucharist). Our Lord said to her:

**"Behold this Heart, Which has loved men so much, that It has spared nothing, even to exhausting **(Crucifixion) **and consuming Itself, **(Last Supper, Eucharist) **in order to testify to them Its love; and in return I receive from the greater number nothing but ingratitude by reason of their irreverence and sacrileges, and by the coldness and contempt which they show Me in this Sacrament of Love. **(Referring to how people treat His real presense in the Holy Eucharist). But what I feel the most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me that treat Me thus. Therefore, I ask of thee that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honour My Heart, by communicating on that day and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise thee that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its divine love upon those who shall thus honour It, and cause It to be honoured."

What I also find interesting, is this occured in 1675 before any Eucharistic Miracle could be scientifically analysed as thoroughly as the ones above have, and in the Eucharistic miracles linked above we find that it’s not just any human tissue, but more specific, heart muscle tissue (Cardiac Muscle Tissue) and in Argentina and Lanciano, from the left ventricle of the Heart, which is the muscle that gives the heart it’s beat!

And I am in agreement with Ron Tesoriero in his book ‘Unseen - New Evidence’

If you get a chance to purchase the two books linked in my signature ‘Reason to Believe’ and ‘Unseen - New Evidence’ I believe they will help you greatly, I also believe the other books I quoted out of such as John Lennox’s ‘God’s Undertaker’ and C.S. Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ are also very good.

I hope this has helped :slight_smile:

God Bless

Thank you for reading
Josh

Well said. :thumbsup:

I think it would be kinda stupid for evolution to fool man in such a way-seeing as the rest of nature seems to operate rigidly according to truth/laws. Humans may lie, but nature? I think such theories are highly speculative-and an example of man fooling himself, perhaps.

Anyway, Christianity asserts that reason, a Mind, necessarily exists behind the order apparent in nature, as opposed to mindlessness producing said order, and that goodness is foundational as well, which is the source of the goodness we can all identify and participate in, but didn’t create ourselves. It also gives a good explanation for the existence of the evil that we all experience and probably participate in as well.

And of course there is the personal encounter with God, Jesus Christ. With sincerity of heart and mind approach God by lifting your mind in conversation and petition to Jesus. Your mind was made for the truth, and God draws you to that truth, for He is the Truth , the Way and the Light. That’s the amazing power of grace, a gift from God. The attraction is not accidental, follow the lead you won’t be disappointed!

you must believe in order to understand.

Thank you all for your input!

Yeah, that seems like the traditional idea in catholicism. Didn’t already Aquinas somehow reason this way… I don’t really buy it, though. Even modern physics and chemistry involve elements of uncertainty and coincidence (which Albert Einstein had difficulties in accepting. Einstein: “I, at any rate, am convinced that He [God] does not throw dice.” Niels Bohr: “Einstein, don’t tell God what to do.”) I haven’t exactly spent sleepless nights over this question, but to me the scientific models are quite enough in this respect. I don’t need a God to explain the existance of the universe or of life.

Aah. I see! That’s the point of that division. What, then, is really implied with “revelation”? My personal experiences? Discussing with other people? Listening to priests? Reading the Bible?

That seems like the more grown up version… the kiddy version of Christianity, “be good and unselfish in this life so you can be rewarded in the next”, never seemed appealing to me.

Then of course, I could find many other explanations for these feelings of mine. But… oh well.

Aye, therein lies the rub.

You see, I have prayed - in some way. The plans for prayer I make up always seem to fail. I don’t follow them up in the long run, but sometimes it has been more spontaneous. I have experienced some things that I could very well interpret as answer - if I want to. The question is, do I want to? I can find so many other explanations for these experiences, which I find more credible. Human beings long for patterns. We search for them, everywhere. We exaggerate it. That’s part of being human. As for mental experiences (or whatever I should call it), I could very well be making it all up, in my head.

If I decide to be a Christian. If I go about the walks of life, trying to detect answers to my prayers. Then most surely I will find such signs. If things go my way, then that’s a “proof” that God is watching over me and He has answered my prayers. If the opposite - I have seen people explain everything in their lives, such as positions they applied for but didn’t get, with “it wasn’t God’s will that I should have that job”. I’m sure that’s a great way of learning to be content with life, which probably is a good portion of learning how to be happy. But does it have much to do with truth, per se? or is it just… wishful thinking.

Well, I haven’t read this particular atheist yet (I will, not only for atheist/religious reasons, he is interesting in many ways and has written om many other subjects). So I shouldn’t pretend to know what he meant by that… but in my mind, evolution doesn’t fool anybody. It just is.

Man can fool himself, no doubt. And maybe sometimes, it is beneficial for man to do so. If so, a genetic disposition for this specific kind of fooling oneself makes the individual “the fittest” who is more likely to survive, and pass their genes on.

It is wellknown that in times of hardship or crises, people who otherwise aren’t very religious prey. I did that, once. The feeling of not being alone in a crises, that’s just one thing that could make a disposition towards religion evolutionary beneficial, even if religion in itself isn’t true.

Having that said. I’m still searching. Maybe I in a couple of weeks I’ll shake my head and say “this is the silliest thing I ever wasted my time on”, but I’m not there yet… time will tell.

I will go to regular classes about Catholic teachings, starting this autumn. It’s the first part of a pretty formal course for future converts, although I really don’t see myself as a such. But this is just the first part, an orientation, and nobody is expecting me to be “all in” - or so I have been told. Currently I can’t even call myself a believer, and if’d I turn into one I don’t know in which church I’d end up. What originally wakened my interest happened to be things said and written by Catholics, so the Catholic church seems like the right place to ask the questions that arised.

But I don’t know where I’ll end up. The idea that I would convert to Catholicism is, in many ways, the craziest idea that ever got into my head. I also have contact with a minister (or whatever word one should use in English for a non-Catholic priest) in the Lutheran church where I was baptised as a child but never been a believer. I’ll keep that contact. I was very fortunate to find someone in my “old” church who is not afraid of the Catholic church so it is possible to talk about faith-related things with respect, without unnecessary agitation. If ever I get a similar contact in the Catholic church, perhaps I should give my “priest” contacts a piece of chalk each, and tell them that although we’re not in the Caucasus please be very cautious about the use of whatever circles they might draw with it.

Just so you understand, neither the Catechism nor RCIA are meant to be apologetical in nature. Both are instructions in the faith, not “agruments” for the faith. I think you need to be told this so you don’t expect something from either they were not meant to be/do. :slight_smile:

Also, science and reason are not an enemies of faith, most especially the Catholic faith. We are not fundamentalist creationists. Nor do we deny the need for reason. Indeed, we believe that one can know that God exists through reason as well as through faith. We believe that grace builds on nature not that nature is negated by grace. Just a bit of info to help you in your search.

Also, we don’t believe everything is either/or, as in “if this is so this cannot be so.” We embrace paradox because the universe is paradoxical. Many elements of the Christian faith are like that–the are “both/and” not “either/or.” For instance, Jesus is both fully God and fully man not one or the other. It’s a paradox and a mystery–a mystery being that which we cannot fully grasp without conceding that God does things in ways we don’t understand since he is “I am who am”–eternal, all wise, all powerful, all knowing–and we simply are not. :slight_smile:

All the best to you in your faith journey. You have my prayers. If/when you say prayers, please slip in a good word for me. :wink:

=Della;12295966]Just so you understand, neither the Catechism nor RCIA are meant to be apologetical in nature. Both are instructions in the faith, not “agruments” for the faith. I think you need to be told this so you don’t expect something from either they were not meant to be/do. :slight_smile:

Also, science and reason are not an enemies of faith, most especially the Catholic faith. We are not fundamentalist creationists. Nor do we deny the need for reason. Indeed, we believe that one can know that God exists through reason as well as through faith. We believe that grace builds on nature not that nature is negated by grace. Just a bit of info to help you in your search.

Also, we don’t believe everything is either/or, as in “if this is so this cannot be so.” We embrace paradox because the universe is paradoxical. Many elements of the Christian faith are like that–the are “both/and” not “either/or.” For instance, Jesus is both fully God and fully man not one or the other. It’s a paradox and a mystery–a mystery being that which we cannot fully grasp without conceding that God does things in ways we don’t understand since he is “I am who am”–eternal, all wise, all powerful, all knowing–and we simply are not. :slight_smile:

All the best to you in your faith journey. You have my prayers. If/when you say prayers, please slip in a good word for me. :wink:

Della,
I LIKE the message you share, :slight_smile: but have concerns about the way it is expressed.

One could read it as through there are NO absolutes to be believed and held in the Catholic Faith, and that is FAR from God’s truth.:thumbsup:

And a prayer recommendation:
End ALL prayers with “THY Will be done”:smiley:

Continued Blessings,
Patrick

I’m puzzeld. I don’t see how saying that we embrace paradox and mystery is the same thing as saying there are no absolutes to be believed. I’m merely saying that absolutes, such as the two natures of Christ, are often paradoxical mysteries. :tiphat:

And a prayer recommendation:
End ALL prayers with “THY Will be done”:smiley:

Continued Blessings,
Patrick

Is there any other way to make supplications? Naturally, we don’t need to end prayers of praise with “thy will be done” since we aren’t asking for anything when we do that. :smiley:

Della, RCIA? google Ah.

I’m kind of convinced that is not the place that will give me exactly what I want or need… but it’s a starting point. I’m not exactly sure it’s apologetics I need either - well, partly but what I’d really appreciate is someplace to TALK to people, IRL. Internet is good! but IRL still is something else… RCIA won’t be exactly that. The teaching, the people, the surroundings can point to other places and occasions, perhaps. We’ll see.

I went through confirmation in my Lutheran church, in early teens which was the age when you were expected to. At the time I didn’t find the classes/studying in the least interesting and why I eventually went through with it all I honestly can’t explain. So in a way I want to redo those classes, now that I am interested. The RCIA was by far the most structured and thorough version I could find, around here. The days also fit my schedule, so I jumped at it. Most probably I’ll drop out after the first part, either to return to the agnostic state or to investigate the church I come from and/or other churches. I’ll have to do that, really - investigate where I “come from”. The Catholic church has a strong intellectual history and there’s plenty of explaining the church, faith and teaching in the light of church history which is very, very appealing. That probably can be found in Lutheranism as well. You’ll have to search harder for it, though.

The notion that Christianity does not have to be in opposition to science is another very appealing side of Catholicism. The reason it came up here was because religion traditionally has answered many of the questions about the world that today you really don’t need religion for - to me, that’s what the “proof of God’s existance” are. The various Lutheran churches around me can roughly be sorted into two categories: those who interpret the Bible very literally and reject any talk about, for instance, evolution. I’ve seen people drop out from biology program since it was “so much talk about evolution” - well if you reject the concept of evolution you’ll have to reject modern biology in its entirety, sorry but you have to! The other version is those whose faith depend a lot on emotional things and individual revelations (pentecostal, etc). Those, frankly, I am a little bit afraid of.

OTOH there certainly are things in Catholicism that are difficult for me. I won’t list them here, mainly because I don’t feel like going into a debate about them. Some of them I probably have in common with most people who come from “the protestant camp”, others with most people who approach Catholicism from the secularized world.

(The idea of intercession, and indeed also to pray for things you yourself think you need, has always been one of the things I don’t really understand about Christianity. There has been wars where both sides prayed to the same God about success. I somehow doubt that God would choose side because of those prayers. I am also not sure that God would choose side even if just one side was praying to him. Would he? Should he? And as for intercession, why should a God who is worthy of that title be more interested in someone’s wellbeing just because plenty of people happen to care about this very individual? If someone is isolated and doesn’t have many friends, and hence few people who pray for him or her, who should this person stand lesser chances? Incomprehensible to me.)

You must realize that Faith in the Catholic Church, in Holy Scripture pivoting around the Person of Jesus Christ is a gift of grace. All the reason in the world can not enlighten you to this reality. It can lead you to the doorstep of Christian faith. Our understanding of “Conversion” centers upon our belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our redeemer, God-man, The Son of God. the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity sent by the Father to give us His Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, and makes us adopted children of God by Baptism sincerely received.

We can give reasons for our faith, the doctrines of our faith,philosophy and apologetics and experiences (witnesses) they can all predispose you to accepting the faith, but the supernatural force and influence of grace is the active ingredient necessary and this only comes from an encounter with Jesus Christ. So I would seek to know Christ, and knowing Him is to love Him. Once this happens, the rest flows like living water. All we can do is point you in the right direction, the rest is up to God and you.

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