Reason a Catholic girl became an atheist woman

I had a very interesting conversation with a woman who grew up Catholic, but was a self-proclaimed atheist. The conversation was so enlightening to me, that I felt like passing it on.

This woman was raised in a highly religious home, with parents who fully accepted all the teachings of the Church. They took their daughter to mass on a weekly basis, and sent her to Catholic school.

Around 8th grade, the girl expressed an interest in becoming a nun. A nun at her school recommended that she begin her examination of herself by reading the Bible. Being a rather precocious youngster, the girl figured she’d start at the beginning and move forward from there. And that’s where the problems began.

When she reached the story of Lot and the three visitors in Sodom, her problems began. She saw someone just like her handed over to a mob to be raped by her own father, who was considered a righteous man.

At first, she tried to discount this story as being part of the Old Testament, not the New Testament in which the loving Jesus is found. Yet she thought to herself, it’s the same Bible, and it all needed to stand or fall together. She found other “dark passages” in the Old Testament, such as Psalm 137. As a teenager, her faith began to further unravel, as she continued to study the Bible. By the time she had entered college, she decided she was an atheist. She said that she had looked into other religions, and found them facing the same problems as Christianity.

She continues to have an interest in religion, but more from a sociological perspective. Her family is religious, and many of her friends, but she married a man who is an atheist and they are raising their children to “think for themselves.”

To me, this story was notable in that her atheism began from an honest attempt to learn more about the Catholic faith. Rather than the strident venom of atheists like Richard Dawkins, I found her story to be tragic and borne of a legitimate revulsion against injustice in one of the “dark passages” of scripture.

I learned one other thing from her that I hadn’t previously known. I had referred to her as a “non-believer,” which she said is pejorative. She corrected me that she is an atheist, and that’s a conscious choice of belief, not simply a lack of conviction or faith. She said she’s done “due diligence” to come to her atheism, and wishes that Christians would do the same with theirs.

In the context of this conversation, debating or rebutting things she said wasn’t appropriate. I just thought it would be interesting to pass on. To me, the fact that she didn’t have someone to walk her through the OT is an utter tragedy.

We have. And by God’s mercy, we have come to a completely different conclusion.

However, thanks for sharing her story.

Atheism is itself a “religion” or belief system. As such your friend will see life through that lense and as she experiences mystery will be challenged to understand that which is beyond our human understanding. The good news is God uses the ordinary situations of our lives to call us to humility - for some that path begins by denying there is a path!

Atheism is a disbelief, your friend is not just a non religious, she is like all the other atheists, they don’t decide by choice to be “atheists” in one day, their disbelief is a conclusion of what they got to and “figured” out over and over by the researches, wondering, and the thinking they did.

This is sad indeed. I agree with the OP that the reason she fell through the cracks was because she had nobody to guide her through the Old Testament. Hopefully, she will come back to the faith along with her child and husband.

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

She grew up in a faithful Catholic home, and was attending weekly Mass, and no one could discuss the OT and any troubling passages with her? She didn’t bother to ask the nun who told her to read the Bible? (surely the nun had read these passages before) Many people I’ve met who claim they became atheist from the dark passages of Scripture, they never actually researched deeply the passages, or looked at the explanations from Catholic apologists. They read about them from websites (and the internet is full of atheism) and take their explanations at face value.

Where is Lot declared a righteous man? I don’t remember anywhere where he is declared righteous. And in the story of the angels and Sodom, it doesn’t say anywhere that what Lot did was right or just. It just states what he did. Same with the following story about Lot’s daughters and their alcohol-fueled raping of their father to get pregnant. It just relays the facts of the story. I would assume because the author would expect normal people would naturally find the actions abhorrent, just as people would reading Lot’s actions in Sodom.

Here she is correct in one aspect, that the Bible is a whole. There is no separation of the God of the OT vs NT. But that doesn’t mean that we should not work to understand better the passages that seem strange or dark to us. Take Psalm 137 for example, it is hyperbole in predicting a coming destruction upon the Babylonians for the atrocities they had committed against the Israelites.

Atheism is a disbelief, your friend is not just a non religious, she is like all the other atheists, they don’t decide by choice to be “atheists” in one day, their disbelief is a conclusion of what they got to and “figured” out over and over by the researches, wondering, and the thinking they did.

That reminds me of those occasions when those of us in the West are told we have an accent when in “fact” we have none and everyone ELSE has an accent. Of course, we ALL have an accent, it is simply a matter of perspective.

Disbelief is a belief to accept non belief. It is the equivalent of no accent. Those of us who have faith in a God have in fact also “figured” it out by our experience, wondering , researching , logic and “thinking it out”. Please, an atheist cannot fall back on the position that they have actually discovered “reality” any more than the believer can tell you he touched the hand of God and can “prove” it. And, Im certainly not saying everything is relative, but atheists certainly also have “accents”, an accent on their perception of life. Simply because an atheist chooses to start with the assumption that reality must be based on the evidence of a scientific manner does not mean you “know” truth. That supposition in itself is an assumption and a “religion” of scientism, a belief that every question in life must be able to be answered with the use of a photo tube, chronometer, or spectrometer. This assumption requires a valid argument that it is a worthy premise from which to build the argument that there is or is no God. And, to answer the most important questions in life, such as “why are we here?”," what is our purpose?" , “who put is here in the first place?” , materialistic logic just cannot address these questions very well, if at all. These questions are very real ,and require an answer. To argue that the world just started from chance is not exactly a “proven” fact , and it certainly doesnt answer the questions of our purpose in life. The point is, to simply state that the atheism is the result of “figuring things out” is the exact same as saying you have no accent. It is really just a perspective devoid of appreciating the fact that there are other perspectives in life that your “ears” cannot detect.

2 Peter 2:7

This is why I find Catholic Bible studies to be important and I think more Parishes should have them and more often.

If my Father or Sister had attended a Catholic Bible study instead of a Protestant one, they might still be Catholic.

My parish has them twice a month on Sunday at 7:30 PM with the Pastor. Which actually isn’t really a bad time.

Though I also think it would it would be nice to have then Sunday mornings (early before one of the Masses) during the other two weeks.

Twice a month Sunday evening and twice a month Sunday morning would be very nice for Catholics who want to study the Bible (I’m going to recommend to my Pastor that we try this one day).

I also think Parishes should also do a better job of advertising RCIA and how its not just for non-Catholics.

I stand corrected, thank you. My point to the acts of Lot are not declared right still hold.

“and if he [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” - 2 Peter 2:7-9

I would agree; nowhere does Scripture condone what Lot did–it merely relates what happened. But Scripture is perhaps unique among ancient writings in that it does not attempt to hide the flaws or even the terrible sins of its “heroes,” King David being a prime example of this. The description of Lot as a righteous man is not a stamp of approval on everything he did in his life, but rather highlights the fact that everyone, even the “righteous,” is a sinner and in need of redemption.

Sorry, didn’t see that you had already posted the reference.

The cynic in me thinks this woman was trying to sell you a bill of goods. Could it be she was trying to shake your faith by pointing out disturbing facts in the bible?

Assuming, the above is wrong, and the woman was giving you an honest account, my first question would have been how she had solidified her belief through out her adult life. Hopefully, she has not allowed the decisions made as a young girl to rule her life. The Old Testament is a series of books documenting the actions of people. Some are holy, some are good, some are a mixture of the two. Lot’s actions are not portrayed as stemming from God, or as illustrating just actions, so why would they have shaken and destroyed her faith? If she was as precocious as she claims to have been she would have noticed those facts. Her story appears, to me, as being yet another atheist blaming religion for their lack of belief.

Finally, because she rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, did not mean that she had to reject God. There are other religions she can still explore.

I don’t understand how you can call atheism a “disbelief” either. Science can’t prove that God does not exist, nothing can, so you must believe that He doesn’t…

I’m not disputing the fact that one can come to the conclusion of atheism for himself, some people do, some don’t. I’m just saying that atheism is a belief system after all the same way IMHO. Or if it a “disbelief”, than I’d like to call myself a disbeliever of atheism :slight_smile:

Not to be disrespectful of a Father losing his daughter, but this story is very old and very unoriginal. This is the most common reason (…perhaps the only reason?) for why people reject the faith. They decide that there is something in it in which their pre-conceived idea of morality is superior to. Her reasons are not tragic or noble. They are arrogant.

There may be more to her story to yet unfold. Maybe she will return someday.

I’m actually more scared of the people who go in the opposite direction, i.e., justifying clearly immoral actions based on anachonistic reasoning. For example, there are people here at CAF who believe that burning heretics to death was (and, in some cases, still is!) morally justified.

But only one that can be traced back to Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church. Just thought I’d add that huge fact.

Valid point. I agree. I pray that the Holy Spirit guide her back to the church.

I’d be interested to see the results of this ‘due diligence’.

I suppose her due diligence is hundreds of times in volume vs. what we must do when we buy or sell companies, considering the importance of the matter.

Would be interesting to compare pictures of the data rooms.

She did all of this while a teenager? Oh, then the purpose is simple, it’s called rebellion.

Who hasn’t done that?

There are as many religions as there are individuals, but only one that can be traced back to Jesus. The Roman Catholic Church. Just thought I’d add that huge fact.

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