Romans 1 and Atheism?


#1

I've seen Christians(especially evangelicals) claiming that Romans 1:18-20:

(18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.)

...means that all atheists secretly believe in a God and are rebelling against him, and that atheists don't exist. I can emphatically say from experience that this is NOT the case.

But then in context

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

...It sounds like Paul is saying people can KNOW God is formless and monotheistic, and that pagan gods are wrong, just by looking at the 'heavens', and that once again all pagans secretly hate the Abrahamic God.

My question is: does it mean all of these absurd-sounding implications? is Paul saying "all atheists are misotheists"(misotheism=hatred of gods).


#2

[quote="All_Father, post:1, topic:330900"]
I've seen Christians(especially evangelicals) claiming that Romans 1:18-20:

(18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.)

...means that all atheists secretly believe in a God and are rebelling against him, and that atheists don't exist. I can emphatically say from experience that this is NOT the case.

But then in context

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

...It sounds like Paul is saying people can KNOW God is formless and monotheistic, and that pagan gods are wrong, just by looking at the 'heavens', and that once again all pagans secretly hate the Abrahamic God.

My question is: does it mean all of these absurd-sounding implications? is Paul saying "all atheists are misotheists"(misotheism=hatred of gods).

[/quote]

Sorry, I only have time for one post, so I won't be able to respond to your response, if you give one, but here's my response to your question.

The knowledge of God is self-evident in the fact that we exist. Since something cannot come from nothing (an easily-knowable logical conclusion) it is necessary to recognize that there is an external force which created us.

I know this sounds like a God of the Gaps arguemnt, but it's not; it's a positive assertion that there is no alternative but a god who formed us.

What those verses are saying is not that Atheists know there is a God and just chose to ignore him; I know there are some who genuinely don't believe in a god of any form (though these are the minority of so-called atheists, most self-professed atheists would be better classified as agnostics). What those verses say is that such people have closed their hearts and their minds, and embrace a falsehood as true. They reject any proofs which do not fit in with their concept of reality. They have taken something which is self-evident and rejected it as false. This doesn't mean that they believe, just that they are wrong in their disbelief, and if they'd open their minds to the Truth for a while and go into it without their biases, they'd come out as believers on the other side.

As for the comment about pagans; the pagan philosopher Aristotle arrived at the conclusion of a single, monotheistic God through pure exercise of reason; so it is evident if one thinks about it objectively. That is not to say that all pagans hate God, though my experience seems to suggest that they recognize the existence of God, and hate him because they think he's trying to "force out" their false gods.

Hope that helps, sorry it's so short and inadequate an answer.


#3

Actually, if read in context, it is clear St. Paul was addressing heathens whose sins, such as temple prostitutes, were an affront to God. Paul is merely saying that the goodness of God and what he expects of man is evident in nature and the natural law. He is not addressing atheists at all in this passage. Atheism was rather rare in those days. He was preaching to Gentile peoples who had only known their own forms of paganism before they heard the Gospel preached by St. Paul and others. I hope that helps. :)


#4

Okay that makes sense I guess. Another Q: If God's invisible qualities are "evident", and the catholic stance is that those in "invincible ignorance" may be saved, then what's the fate of say, someone who switches directly from polytheism to materialism/atheism, without ever hearing of Christ? Do catholics say that only theists can go to heaven?

And how would "natural law" or whathaveyou confront some forms of deism, in which God exists but doesn't reward or punish anyone, or even care for that matter?


#5

=All Father;10910284]I've seen Christians(especially evangelicals) claiming that Romans 1:18-20:

(18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.)

...means that all atheists secretly believe in a God and are rebelling against him, and that atheists don't exist. I can emphatically say from experience that this is NOT the case.

But then in context

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

...It sounds like Paul is saying people can KNOW God is formless and monotheistic, and that pagan gods are wrong, just by looking at the 'heavens', and that once again all pagans secretly hate the Abrahamic God.

My question is: does it mean all of these absurd-sounding implications? is Paul saying "all atheists are misotheists"(misotheism=hatred of gods).

It seems to be that atheist have to be exceeding smart [prideful too]

or extremely hard-headed [closed to objective realities] [ALSO driven by excessive; out of contro pride]

Evidence of God is "ALL Around us," so yes, Paul is right it is an denial of god; god's and God. Any of the which would likely cause a change in there life-style.:shrug:


#6

From the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas’s take on natural law, sacred law, and all things involved (this link goes to Q2, if you want to read it entirely):

[quote=“Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q.2, Art. 1”]Article 1. Whether the existence of God is self-evident?

Objection 1. It seems that the existence of God is self-evident. Now those things are said to be self-evident to us the knowledge of which is naturally implanted in us, as we can see in regard to first principles. But as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, 1,3), “the knowledge of God is naturally implanted in all.” Therefore the existence of God is self-evident.

Objection 2. Further, those things are said to be self-evident which are known as soon as the terms are known, which the Philosopher (1 Poster. iii) says is true of the first principles of demonstration. Thus, when the nature of a whole and of a part is known, it is at once recognized that every whole is greater than its part. But as soon as the signification of the word “God” is understood, it is at once seen that God exists. For by this word is signified that thing than which nothing greater can be conceived. But that which exists actually and mentally is greater than that which exists only mentally. Therefore, since as soon as the word “God” is understood it exists mentally, it also follows that it exists actually. Therefore the proposition “God exists” is self-evident.

Objection 3. Further, the existence of truth is self-evident. For whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition “Truth does not exist” is true: and if there is anything true, there must be truth. But God is truth itself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) Therefore “God exists” is self-evident.

On the contrary, No one can mentally admit the opposite of what is self-evident; as the Philosopher (Metaph. iv, lect. vi) states concerning the first principles of demonstration. But the opposite of the proposition “God is” can be mentally admitted: “The fool said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 52:1). Therefore, that God exists is not self-evident.

I answer that, A thing can be self-evident in either of two ways: on the one hand, self-evident in itself, though not to us; on the other, self-evident in itself, and to us. A proposition is self-evident because the predicate is included in the essence of the subject, as “Man is an animal,” for animal is contained in the essence of man. If, therefore the essence of the predicate and subject be known to all, the proposition will be self-evident to all; as is clear with regard to the first principles of demonstration, the terms of which are common things that no one is ignorant of, such as being and non-being, whole and part, and such like. If, however, there are some to whom the essence of the predicate and subject is unknown, the proposition will be self-evident in itself, but not to those who do not know the meaning of the predicate and subject of the proposition. Therefore, it happens, as Boethius says (Hebdom., the title of which is: “Whether all that is, is good”), “that there are some mental concepts self-evident only to the learned, as that incorporeal substances are not in space.” Therefore I say that this proposition, “God exists,” of itself is self-evident, for the predicate is the same as the subject, because God is His own existence as will be hereafter shown (3, 4). Now because we do not know the essence of God, the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs to be demonstrated by things that are more known to us, though less known in their nature — namely, by effects.

Reply to Objection 1. To know that God exists in a general and confused way is implanted in us by nature, inasmuch as God is man’s beatitude. For man naturally desires happiness, and what is naturally desired by man must be naturally known to him. This, however, is not to know absolutely that God exists; just as to know that someone is approaching is not the same as to know that Peter is approaching, even though it is Peter who is approaching; for many there are who imagine that man’s perfect good which is happiness, consists in riches, and others in pleasures, and others in something else.

Reply to Objection 2. Perhaps not everyone who hears this word “God” understands it to signify something than which nothing greater can be thought, seeing that some have believed God to be a body. Yet, granted that everyone understands that by this word “God” is signified something than which nothing greater can be thought, nevertheless, it does not therefore follow that he understands that what the word signifies exists actually, but only that it exists mentally. Nor can it be argued that it actually exists, unless it be admitted that there actually exists something than which nothing greater can be thought; and this precisely is not admitted by those who hold that God does not exist.

Reply to Objection 3. The existence of truth in general is self-evident but the existence of a Primal Truth is not self-evident to us.
[/quote]

Helpful?


#7

Do catholics say that only theists can go to heaven? - No, Catholics say that only God, Jesus sits in judgement when all are sorted as sheep of his flock or goats sent to hell at the end of time. They are not judged by the Church, or the people. They are not assigned classifications of sinfulness. They are not accepted nor condemned by the labels they assign themselves, but once their life is over they are judged upon if they are taking care of the little ones, outcasts, marginalized, and the poor and only judged by God who does care.

Everyone wants to argue labels, but any such labels are meaningless. Only doing right actions is meaningful. When people learn of the teachings of Jesus they need to do them; if not, they will have turned His friendship down and will be judged according to the extent they know this, if they know only a few things are good and others are bad then Jesus will judge them justly from what they know in their hearts to be good and right.


#8

=wmw;10910878]Do catholics say that only theists can go to heaven? - No, Catholics say that only God, Jesus sits in judgement when all are sorted as sheep of his flock or goats sent to hell at the end of time. They are not judged by the Church, or the people. They are not assigned classifications of sinfulness. They are not accepted nor condemned by the labels they assign themselves, but once their life is over they are judged upon if they are taking care of the little ones, outcasts, marginalized, and the poor and only judged by God who does care.

Everyone wants to argue labels, but any such labels are meaningless. Only doing right actions is meaningful. When people learn of the teachings of Jesus they need to do them; if not, they will have turned His friendship down and will be judged according to the extent they know this, if they know only a few things are good and others are bad then Jesus will judge them justly from what they know in their hearts to be good and right.

HERE IS THE OFFICIAL TEACHING OF THE CC

  1. ALL salvation must and does flow through the CC as the Only church and faith founded personally by God

  2. ONLY those that God chooses NOT to give the opportunity to:

  3. Know Him

  4. Know of His One Faith; One church

  5. THROUGH NO fault or lack of effort on their part

  6. MIGHT in God’s Mercy still attain heaven

FROM THE Catholic catechism

780 The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men.

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation

God Bless ALL!


#9

I get that. But the semantics of "seek God" seems confusing, if say, someone only hears of one false conception of God(let's say, African Tribal religion or something) and eventually converts to atheism/materialism, are they then going to be in more trouble for concluding there is no God to seek? Would they be more likely 'in trouble' than the members of their tribe that sought to please "Bobo the chicken god" or whatever?

this would, then, mean there is no "will" to follow if they don't believe in a God. Just as there might be a deist that thinks this God has no "will" to follow as it doesn't care about us.


#10

No, not necessarily. It would depend on why the person decided his god was not a god and perhaps coming to conclusion from that that there is no God. If he decides his god is a false god, that’s a step in the right direction and may lead him to the truth, or at least to realizing that what he thought was God, in his limited view, was no god at all.

I think you are laying your own world view on an imaginary person who would have no formal sense of theology or the will of man vs. the will of God to ponder. He would not have any Enlightenment sensibilities since he would never have heard of that, either.

It is the heart God judges and our intentions, not our lack of knowledge. God does not hold anyone responsible for what he could not know. This is where natural law, the sense within all persons that there is a code of right and wrong, kicks in. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this point. I would encourage you to read it merely so you will have the answers to your questions from the most reliable source we have.


#11

Many atheists, at least as I see them, are lazy, apathetic, shmoes. But, seriously, the kind of atheist you describe isn't too uncommon, either. Kevin O' Brien, a Catholic former atheist, used to describe himself as an "idol smasher" - someone who recognises lies and just beats them to a pulp.

There is only one person more admirable than the one who pulverises lies: the one who affirms and worships Truth.

Your theoretical man who was born to people who worship a chicken god who then becomes an atheist, as with everyone, depends on the reasons he becomes and atheist. If they just stop giving a smeg about the point of their lives and say "screw it, I don't care if there's no God, so there is none", I think it likely God's going to just lay it out on him - though anything is possible over the course of years.

But if he's an "idol smasher" - if he comes to realise that the chicken god is a false idol - not just emotionally horrifying, but really and truly a false god who has no power to save anyone from anything or to give anything - and he rejects anyone who has such a god or God because something is untrue about that god or God - well, I don't know. It's definitely possible, though, because a hatred of lies is a Godly thing.

It would seem strange to me, though, if at some point along his "idol smashing" he shouldn't want to know what the Truth was in comparison to all these lies. A love of Truth is infinitely greater than a hatred of lies.


#12

[quote="Della, post:10, topic:330900"]
No, not necessarily. It would depend on why the person decided his god was not a god and perhaps coming to conclusion from that that there is no God. If he decides his god is a false god, that's a step in the right direction and may lead him to the truth, or at least to realizing that what he thought was God, in his limited view, was no god at all.

I think you are laying your own world view on an imaginary person who would have no formal sense of theology or the will of man vs. the will of God to ponder. He would not have any Enlightenment sensibilities since he would never have heard of that, either.

It is the heart God judges and our intentions, not our lack of knowledge. God does not hold anyone responsible for what he could not know. This is where natural law, the sense within all persons that there is a code of right and wrong, kicks in. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this point. I would encourage you to read it merely so you will have the answers to your questions from the most reliable source we have.

[/quote]

^ This. Read this. She's spot on.


#13

PJM - The question was how is one condemned that doesn't understand the authority and grace available from the Catholic Church.

There is no difference in what I posted with the CCC; so, I see your post as being in agreement, but are going beyond the question and trying to convince the OP that he can't claim such ignorance and needs the Church to free him from the sins he already understands and avoid others that he may be unclear in understanding.

I will clarify what I had posted as being in agreement by adding that all those that are not condemned by Jesus are also apart of His flock which is the Catholic Church.


#14

=wmw;10929336]PJM - The question was how is one condemned that doesn’t understand the authority and grace available from the Catholic Church.

There is no difference in what I posted with the CCC; so, I see your post as being in agreement, but are going beyond the question and trying to convince the OP that he can’t claim such ignorance and needs the Church to free him from the sins he already understands and avoid others that he may be unclear in understanding.

I will clarify what I had posted as being in agreement by adding that all those that are not condemned by Jesus are also apart of His flock which is the Catholic Church.

I’m not exactly certain of your position?

Because their is BUT One God

One God can have ONLY One set of faith beliefs

And Commands, Protects and Promises the entireity of Gods Truths can be found ONLY within the CC.

Those holding on to other sets of faith beliefs ARE at GREAT risk of no salvation IF God has made it possible for them to know Him and His truth. SINGULAR.

I’m on vacation so do not have regular computer access.

God Bless,
Patrick PJM


#15

I had to learn about a mechanical, dead conception of the universe. The atheistic worldview is built one brick at a time over history, a labyrinth of "observations". It's some Baudrillard ****, so many have utterly confused their map of the territory with the territory itself. When I was an atheist it was simply that no human is credible, least of all the men in the Catholic Church. As a child I presumed the enterprise of science on its cultural terms, as this enterprise that is to be worshipped, this enterprise is the key to the future, is the definition of modernity. Mankind used to live in a dream, but we're finally getting started. I must have been very young when I "realized" all science is just derived from, are high order abstracts of, "physics", and so for my prepubescent mind Reality too was just physics, and I spent all of my life chasing this knowledge to its nihilistic, misanthropic ends, and was a miserable person. Eventually science discredited itself to me the more I learned, but even then, definitely not Christ. Definitely not the Catholic Church. By now I hated everything, even though I believed in love, all of my paradigms of knowledge made love unlikely. The presumption of atheism and scientism should be taught to children, in some way that they don't become gibbering numbskulls like protestants. See, I still have this hatefulness in me as I try to get started in a real life. Just a nightmare. Pray for me.


#16

SurfsUp, I understand your angst, although it wasn't atheistic scientism I was caught up in, but a cult-like "movement". When I left it I too was bitter and angry for having been deceived. But, as Jesus said on the cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." When people have their heads filled with nonsense, no matter how well-intentioned, they cannot see the truth. At one time I was just as bad as anyone else in that group and deeply regret many of my actions during my time with them. But, I gave it all to Christ who disarmed me with love and forgiveness. We must do this in order to move on and be holy and do good as Jesus would have us be and do, yes? :)


#17

The argument from design proves there’s a God. I don’t need to see the guy in Japan who designed my watch to know that he exists. We can design a watch, but we can’t design a universe, or a cell, or an atom.

When I was an atheist, it was mostly because I was angry about suffering and at bad believers, worshipped the god of science, and didn’t want to give up my cherished sins.


#18

=mathematoons;11009491]The argument from design proves there’s a God. I don’t need to see the guy in Japan who designed my watch to know that he exists. We can design a watch, but we can’t design a universe, or a cell, or an atom.

When I was an atheist, it was mostly because I was angry about suffering and at bad believers, worshipped the god of science, and didn’t want to give up my cherished sins.

Nicely dome my friend!

may I suggest adding a bit more charity and tollerance:thumbsup:

God Bless you. Thanks


#19

[quote="PJM, post:18, topic:330900"]
Nicely dome my friend!

may I suggest adding a bit more charity and tollerance:thumbsup:

God Bless you. Thanks

[/quote]

How is it intolerant and uncharitable to say how I thought when I was an atheist, or to use St. Thomas Aquinas and one of his proofs for God's existence? Are you saying you know more about atheism than a former atheist?

Perhaps you should follow your own advice. This is why I post so rarely anymore.


#20

Ok to be honest "didn't want to give up my cherished sins" and " suffering" doesn't sound like an actual atheist, but more of a misotheist("mad at God").

If you ACTUALLY don't believe in God, there couldn't be anything to sin against, nor sins, now could there?

And being upset about suffering implies that God is obligated to do things how we want him to; it also sounds like Joel O'Steen "prosperity gospel" when the Bible allows God to be sovereign.

Not trying to say a 'No True Scotsman' though.


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