My brother told me that because all religions claim to be correct, there is no way of knowing which is true, so choosing a religion is based on an “aesthetic” preference. What should I say?
Well, you can admit that there are a lot of people who do choose a religion for no other basis than an “aesthetic” preference. However, he is wrong when he says there is no way of knowing which religion is true. Proving that to him however, may take some doing on your part with the assistance of God’s grace working in both you and in your brother’s heart.
It could be a good book may help. “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis is one that has helped many (to faith in God and/or Jesus being God). Lewis was not Catholic however, so it won’t go into why the Catholic Church is the true Christian church.
In principle all religions that worship the one true God are correct… except if God Himself told us how he wished to be worshipped. As a matter of fact he did. Jesus claimed to have been sent by God and to be God and He resurrrected to prove it. His religion is the only true one. This is the Catholic religion which existed from the beginning. As Jesus said he would protect it from error, it could not have gone wrong.
All religions do not claim to be correct. I know a Baptist minister who claims that no one denomination has all of its doctrines correct. He says it is arrogant to think that your religion is correct in all of its doctrinal positions. His view is not uncommon. I asked him which of his doctrines are false. He thought that was a dumb question, because if he knew he would not believe them. I said, if you do not know which of your doctrines are false then neither can you know which are true. There may only be three denominations that claim they have the sole possession of truth in doctrine. These are Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses and Catholicism. Whatever ones religion it is not an aesthetic preference or choice, but generally a person’s choice based on intellectual examination of the teachings or precepts of religions. The one that seems right or most right is what gets chosen.
That sounds right. IIRC theres a document at www.kofc.org that says that people are drawn towards Truth, Morality and Beauty.
FAITH AND BEAUTY
Throughout history, the Catholic Faith has produced great works of beauty, as naturally as the sun produces reflections on the water: in music, poetry, painting, sculpture, dance, plays, novels, and architecture. For instance, those medieval Gothic cathedrals that look like stone turned into angels ready to take flight from earth into heaven – they were built by faith: faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They were built to house the celebration of the Eucharist, to glorify Christ’s presence there.
The Catholic Faith naturally produces beauty because the God who is both the object of this faith and its author is the ultimate source and inventor of all beauty, both in nature and in the mind of the human artist.
The greatest beauty produced by faith is holiness. The most beautiful thing we will ever see in this life is the character and life of a saint, because nothing more closely resembles God. The most beautiful sight that ever appeared on this earth was Jesus Christ, divine beauty in human flesh, “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14) – like the “grace” of a great dancer or football player. His “moves” were perfect! The Gospels are the most beautiful of all works of art because they are portraits in man’s words of the Word of God, the God-man, the Author who became a character in his own story.
Yet the divine Inventor of all earthly beauty, when he became a man, “had no form or beauty that we could desire” (Is 53:2). A man tortured and dying on a cross does not look beautiful. Yet this is the most beautiful thing that ever happened: God dying for us, for our sins, out of incomprehensible, infinite love. The Cross is supremely beautiful because it was the supreme work of love, and love is the supreme beauty.
If Christ were hideous morally, & spewed utter nonsense, faith in Him would be a form of masochism. He does attract - unsurprisingly, since He is is the very Person for Whom all creation exists. So there is an aesthetic element in conversion - but it is not the foundation of our identity as Christians. Our adoption by the Father is far nearer to being that.
So it is based to an extent on perceptions of what is aesthetically pleasing - but there is much more to it than those. That’s why we must be faithful & believing when things get ugly - because the aesthetically pleasing is not as central to Christianity as the Cross. There is nothing aesthetically attractive about the Cross - but it was not too hideous for Christ to carry & to suffer on, so we cannot refuse it if we desire to be His.
Wouldn’t that also make atheism and agnosticism aesthetic choices?
Besides, your brother’s comment assumes there is no evidence which one may use to evaluate the various claims. That is simply not true. There may or may not be enough evidence to prove any of the various claims, but there is certainly evidence which can help one assess the claims.
If you’re settling an insurance claim, all the parties claim to be correct, but you don’t say you’re making that choice on the basis of aesthetics.
The nature and purpose of human life, the universe, and reality itself are, perhaps, a titch more important than insurance, n’est-ce pas?
You should say “Hail Mary, full of grace…” etc.
I said something similar to my mother once during a time when I was searching outside of Christianity to learn the truth (long story and not the point) and her reply was, “If I’m right and Christianity is true, what have you got to lose by not believing in it? Everything. If I’m wrong and it’s not true, what do you have to lose by believing in it? Nothing. What other religion can you say that about?” That, of course, is not her only, or even her main, reason for being Christian, but it was the one she knew I’d listen to at the time and, considering that I still remember it, she was right.