Scared that I'm Iosing faith in God

Hi, I’m a new member and I hope I am posting this in the right forum. I hope that I’m not offending anyone by this post. Anyway, to give you a little background, I used to believe with no doubts that God was real. I was never baptized as a Catholic, but I went to a Catholic high school and I told myself that I was going to do it one day. I thought that Catholicism was the right religion for me. In a way, I still do, but I am starting to have doubts in religion and God. I will list you three reasons as to why.

  1. The concept of Hell. How and why would a loving God send people to a place where they will be tortured for all eternity? Imagine that you’re a parent and your child does something REALLY bad, would you want them to burn forever? No one asked to be born, so basically God involuntarily entered you into this game called life and if you don’t play by His rules then you will burn in Hell.

  2. Evidence. There’s not a lot of evidence that some things in the Bible actually happened. Things like the Exodus, Moses existing, the Genesis story, the Great Flood, and the Plagues in Exodus. If God wanted us to believe in him, then why didn’t he make it clear to us that all of these things happened? Why would someone be punished after death for not believing things that there isn’t sufficient evidence for?

  3. Why would God allow bad things to happen such as the Holocaust, slavery, world hunger, and world poverty? I’ve heard the “free will” argument, but would a loving God really sit by and do relatively nothing to stop these events from happening? Did He ignore the people praying on slave ships or the people who prayed who were destined to die during the Holocaust?

Thank you to anyone that responds. I want to believe in God and the Catholic faith, but those things are a roadblock to me.

I’m not a theologian, but I can help you with what I know. Correct me if I’m am wrong. :o

  1. Hell is only for the unrepentant- as in, people who do not accept God’s love even though they know much about him (Christian or not).
    vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm
    catholic.com/tracts/salvation-outside-the-church
    catholic.com/quickquestions/what-happened-to-those-who-committed-a-mortal-sin-before-the-sacrament-of-confession-
  2. There is evidence of many locations and details in the Bible. It is actually more present than you may think.
    everystudent.com/features/bible.html
    patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2014/08/14/is-there-evidence-jesus-was-a-real-person/
  3. Truly, those who committed such acts may not have repented. They may have committed their twisted actions in this life, but gain nothing in the end. Free will is not something that God can distort too much, or it is not free anymore. While not impossible for someone to repent perfectly following those acts, it would seem unlikely from an outsider’s perspective. One day, those who suffer may rest in warmth and happiness after this life ends. :heaven:

God bless. I certainly hope this helps quell your doubts :).

With regard to hell…God honors our free will. If we turn our backs to him and do our own thing, He will not interfere with our choice. He doesn’t force us to love Him. He gives us sufficient chances to repent.

Suffering: The holocaust, for example, took place because wrong philosophies got into people’s minds and they followed that instead of God’s commandments. God is in control and He is infinitely perfect.
All the good who suffered unjustly will be in God’s hands for all eternity.

Romans 8:18 “The sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us in the life to come.”

It is easy to twist things to make it sound like God is unfair. Remember that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, our Lord Jesus Christ died a painful death for us, and then came the Resurrection.

He gives us the grace we need to pick up our cross and follow Him.

Your not alone. I wrestle with such thoughts as I’m sure many others do. As to hell, my understanding is that there is one unforgivable sin, and that is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. That act is a willful ongoing rejection of God. Even so, I understand your point that even that would be not enough to merit eternal torture. Maybe Gods judgment is much stronger than we know as humans. It haunts me because I have plenty of sin and if I don’t go to confession, I’m not under grace and could go to hell. Very scary.

The free will argument is tricky because if God knew where you were going to at death when he made you, it doesn’t seem free. It only would seem free if you said God knew what you were going to choose but allowed you to live it.

An Atheist wrote to me," why doesn’t God just show himself and get it over with". It’s hard to argue against that but somewhere inside me I just can’t believe all that is before us is a cosmic accident. I just don’t know why it all had to be so hard on us. So much suffering. I would say to keep seeking God, and maybe you will get the peace that some who give all for Christ have.

I have had my own serious doubts in the past, but mine stemmed from a very different place. I had already come to intellectually accept God and Jesus and Their Holy Catholic Church. I could answer any apologetic answer such as the ones you present with flawless theology.

However, my doubt was more primal. My faith simply vanished. While I will answer your specific concerns, I want to share first that merely knowing the answers is not enough. Faith is a gift; why it should be withheld from some is something I still cannot fathom.

What I will say is that what, in part, brought my faith back, was a willingness to totally devote myself to God, even with no faith. I had to leap forward and hope it would come.

When I was a senior in college, I injured my neck. I made a promise that if I never walked again, my faith would be intact (when it turned out all I had to do was where a cone for 3 months, I happily complied :), but I made myself trust God in the event of the worst.) While that personal example has a happy ending, I could tell plenty that that don’t.

  1. The concept of Hell. How and why would a loving God send people to a place where they will be tortured for all eternity? Imagine that you’re a parent and your child does something REALLY bad, would you want them to burn forever? No one asked to be born, so basically God involuntarily entered you into this game called life and if you don’t play by His rules then you will burn in Hell.

God did not create a game. He created us with the express purpose to love. Those who choose to hate, choose their fate. Those who choose to hate would be miserable in Heaven; Hell is a concession to our choice, something that God never wanted, and never wanted us to want.

  1. Evidence. There’s not a lot of evidence that some things in the Bible actually happened. Things like the Exodus, Moses existing, the Genesis story, the Great Flood, and the Plagues in Exodus. If God wanted us to believe in him, then why didn’t he make it clear to us that all of these things happened? Why would someone be punished after death for not believing things that there isn’t sufficient evidence for?

There are many forms of literature, and truth can only be discerned by properly understanding the genre. Philosophers such as Saint Augustus as early as the 380’s taught that Genesis was allegorical; that it was not meant as mechanical description of the world’s beginnings. While there is archeological evidence to support some aspects of the other stories, the Catholic Church has no position as to whether every element is historical.

  1. Why would God allow bad things to happen such as the Holocaust, slavery, world hunger, and world poverty? I’ve heard the “free will” argument, but would a loving God really sit by and do relatively nothing to stop these events from happening? Did He ignore the people praying on slave ships or the people who prayed who were destined to die during the Holocaust?

These are things we must trust that God never wanted. We must also trust that God is powerful enough that even something he never wanted will bow to his will.

Thank you to anyone that responds. I want to believe in God and the Catholic faith, but those things are a roadblock to me.

As for Hell, please read the following: chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/282508/jewish/What-Happens-After-We-Die.htm It’s Jewish, but it’s something that makes a lot of sense to me. Does it oppose our Catholic teachings? Perhaps, but not necessarily. So much of religion is based analogies and allegories. This applies to your second point as well. What was the flood, for example? Did it rain water for 40 days and 40 nights, or was it something else, like “raining” radiation, just to throw out one possibility.

We live in a world of good and evil, and God allows bad things to happen. Why? I do not know, but I tend to believe that for our world to flourish the way it has over the past few hundred years, evil is necessary. If God was to suddenly abolish evil, and he could, our world would collapse almost instantly. Never trick yourself into thinking that we live in a world of good versus evil, which would imply two Gods.

LOVE! :heart:

Thank you for all of your answers. You all have made some good points and I thank you. I am going to look more into evidence that supports Catholicism. I have another question that isn’t about doubt but about a biblical event. When Jesus was being crucified, why did he ask God if He was forsaking him? According to my understanding, Jesus IS god and knew beforehand that he would be sacrificed for humanity.

Because now He is one with all of those who have hit the very depths of Despair, He does not ask anything of us that He has not already gone through Himself.

There is a short piece that I believe explains it very well in the following book -

From Sinai to Calvary - loveandmercy.org/Eng-FSC-Reg.pdf

PART 5 - THE FIFTH WORD “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” pg 18

Hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading
Josh

This to address “why hell?” which is a good question.

Jesus said that a person cannot serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and dispise the other. That is Jesus’ teaching, verily God himself.

Serious sin is nothing more than serving another master(s); our bodily passions, or our intellectual pride.

This is where trust in Jesus is important, as in the picture given to us from St. Faustina, where it says,“Jesus, I trust in you.”

By this a person admits that Jesus knows more than they do, and follows his directions even to the point of not understanding why. For our passions are firey, and our intellectual stubborness is strong, and both are well capable of misleading us.

Obviously if a person is serving another master at the moment of death, they may well continue in that direction at death. For why would they change since they have been loving that master all along. Why would they change since the master they are serving is giving them the satisfaction they want. And to change masters would be contrary to what they are use to and want so much.

The choice of hell is not all that sophisticated, in fact it is more like falling off a log. We simple do what we have been doing all along…serving the same master.

For example, if one is favored to looking at God in a very distasteful way, then the question is, why would they suddenly switch tracks at death and chose to be with him in heaven? If they find him that awful on earth then why would they want to be with God forever in heaven?

Hell is a natural outcome of the person one has been serving all along.

God doesn’t send them anywhere they don’t want to be. In the bible I don’t remember it stating that God sends anyone to hell. It says it separates the good from the bad using various images such as goats and sheep, tares and wheat, and so on. It even says how bad hell is in the image of hell fire. But it doesn’t specifically say that God sends them to hell. I believe it is because it is a natural choice for those who lived that choice in their life…and they want it. And it isn’t that they chose pain, but rather that they want to serve what they have been serving all along. And so it is about hating the other master so much that anything is worth avoiding him.

That is why it is so dangerous to start calling God names even tho we may be unable to explain things.
It is about serving Jesus, and that calls for trust.

May the Good Shepherd fill you with peace.

First of all, pray.

  1. You think God wants people to go to hell? He sent his only Son in the world to die horribly on a cross to save us! If anyone goes to hell, they choose to go to hell. God gave us free will.

  2. He did make it clear. It is in the Bible. Since the Bible is infallible, we know these things happened. Every saint believes in the infallibility of the bible. Many of them have performed miracles.

  3. You think God wants that? Did Gid create the world like that? No, he created the world in perfect harmony and peace. Then humans rebelled and sinned against God, this creating original sin as a punishment. If someone isn’t punished, how will they know not to do what they did again. Sometimes, punishment is good and necessary.

Also, suffering can make people holy. Some people offer their suffering to prevent people from going to hell. I will give you a paragraph from a website I found:

We live in a world that flees from suffering. Since the time of our youth, we have been raised to view suffering as an impediment to happiness; that the less we suffer, the happier we will be. This belief is common not only to secular society, but also to religious groups and philosophies as well. Even certain eastern religions were founded on the principle that suffering is the primordial evil in life, from which mankind must escape (for example, the central tenets of Buddhism; the “Four Noble Truths”). For many people, suffering is viewed as an evil without value, and thus any means should be taken to avoid even a common cold. Yet, in the writings of the saints, we find an entirely different reality; that it is precisely suffering that strengthens us, humbles us, and forges us into saints. But more than this, we discover that suffering is of such inestimable redemptive worth, that nothing equals it in heaven or on earth. As Our Lord told Saint Faustina; “If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.” (p.1805)

More quotes by saints:

Saint Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, p.27
“I understood that to become a saint one had to suffer much, seek out always the most perfect thing to do, and forget self. I understood, too, that there are many degrees of perfection and each soul was free to respond to the advances of the Our Lord, to do little or much for Him, in a word, to choose among the sacrifices He was asking. Then, as in the days of my childhood, I cried out: ‘My God I choose all!’ I do not want to be a saint by halves. I’m not afraid to suffer for You. I fear only one thing: to keep my own will; so take it, for I choose all that You will!”

Ven. Mary of Agreda, Mystical City of God, Book VI, Chp. V
Words of the Queen: “I remind thee that there is no exercise more profitable and useful to the soul than to suffer…Therefore, my daughter, embrace the cross, and do not admit any consolation outside of it in this mortal life. By contemplating and feeling within thyself the sacred Passion, thou wilt attain the summit of perfection and attain the love of a spouse…I find so few who console with me and try to console my Son in His sorrows…”

Diary of Saint Faustina
“Jesus says; 'My daughter, I want to instruct you on how you are to rescue souls through sacrifice and prayer. You will save more souls through prayer and suffering than will a missionary through his teachings and sermons alone. I want to see you as a sacrifice of living love, which only then carries weight before Me… And great will be your power for whomever you intercede. Outwardly, your sacrifice must look like this: silent, hidden, permeated with love, imbued with prayer.”

Website:religious-vocation.com/redemptive_suffering.html#.VI-VJopOKnM

Remember to pray. As St.Padre Pio said, “Pray,hope, and don’t worry”

He was quoting PSALM 22:

Psalm 22 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)

Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility

To the choirmaster: according to The Hind of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

22 [a]My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

2
O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

3
Yet thou art holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4
In thee our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

5
To thee they cried, and were saved;
in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.

6
But I am a worm, and no man;
scorned by men, and despised by the people.

7
All who see me mock at me,
they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;

8
“He committed his cause to the Lord; let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

9
Yet thou art he who took me from the womb;
thou didst keep me safe upon my mother’s breasts.

10
Upon thee was I cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.

11
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is none to help.

12
Many bulls encompass me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

14
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax,
it is melted within my breast;

15
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue cleaves to my jaws;
thou dost lay me in the dust of death.

16
Yea, dogs are round about me;
a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced** my hands and feet—

17
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;

18
they divide my garments among them,
and for my raiment they cast lots.

19
But thou, O Lord, be not far off!
O thou my help, hasten to my aid!

20
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life[c] from the power of the dog!

21
Save me from the mouth of the lion,
my afflicted soul[d] from the horns of the wild oxen!

22
I will tell of thy name to my brethren;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee:

23
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
all you sons of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!

24
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted;
and he has not hid his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

25
From thee comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

26
The afflicted[e] shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live for ever!

27
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.[f]

28
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

29
Yea, to him[g] shall all the proud of the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and he who cannot keep himself alive.

30
Posterity shall serve him;
men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,

31
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
that he has wrought it.

It seems to me the Psalm is being fulfilled with the crucifixion of Jesus .**

You misunderstand hell. People in hell are there because that’s where they WANT to be. They chose to reject God. They don’t WANT to be with God.

Hell is no fun, but nobody in hell wishes he was in heaven. That would be WORSE to them.

Nobody in the afterlife regrets his choices. Nobody in hell wrings his hands and wishes he had made different choices.

People in heaven chose to be with God, and people in hell chose to NOT be with God. Everyone got exactly what they chose, and everyone is completely satisfied with the outcome. Nobody is dragged, kicking and screaming, into hell, protesting that there has been some mistake.

Don’t feel sorry for people in hell. And don’t pray for them. Your prayers are offensive to them. They don’t want your prayers.

You should read the (very short) book, The Great Divorce, by (the Anglican) C.S. Lewis. At four bucks (in either print or Kindle), it’s a great deal. It is the story of a passenger on a bus ride to heaven, with various stops along the way.

I have a little bit of a problem with some of what you said. I don’t think that anyone would willfully take an eternity of fire and torture over an eternity of peace. There are a lot of people out there who used to be religious but lost faith for various reasons. For instance, lack of evidence. I remember one thing that hit me the hardest was when I saw someone pose a question asking what proof do we have that God exists over the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. That one really made me question God because I have never seen Him with my own eyes and I have never conversed with Him. If someone did actually believe in the Tooth Fairy and I had to debate that person on whether God exists or not, I couldn’t say I have anymore evidence than the person I’m debating does of his beliefs. Imagine being around during the Exodus, you’d literally have to believe in God because you would have seen Him part water with your own eyes. Why doesn’t God do miracles like that anymore?

Satan did and so did the rest of his followers.

What makes you think there are no more miracles.

Blessed are those who do not see and still belive.

Keep in mind that the descriptions of torture and fire are an earthly metaphor to describe a spiritual reality. What hell (or heaven) is actually like is beyond our ability to comprehend.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. [1Cor 2:9]

We cannot even conceive of heaven, and likewise cannot conceive of hell. So we use parables and metaphors.

If you read the (very short, and inexpensive) book I recommended (The Great Divorce) then I think you will come to see how someone could prefer hell over heaven.

Imagine being around during the Exodus, you’d literally have to believe in God because you would have seen Him part water with your own eyes. Why doesn’t God do miracles like that anymore?

Throughout the Old Testament (and into the beginning of the New Testament) new revelation was accompanied by miracles, which established the validity of the revelation. All revelation has now been revealed (since these past 2000 years) - there is no “new” revelation (and there never will be). The last revelation was the resurrection of Our Lord, which was attested to by the miracle of speaking in (known) tongues, which has never happened since.

In modern times there are personal revelations (sometimes accompanied by modern miracles). Think Lourdes or Fatima. But these are never to be considered to be a doctrine of the Church. The Church permits us to accept them, but never requires us to accept them.

God gave us freewill to accept or reject his love. God does NOT send anyone to Hell. People freely choose to go there by committing a mortal sin and dying in that state.

If God is God, then you should believe in him regardless of whether or not you approve of his behavior…just because he is God.

The idea that god is only worth believing in if he acts the way a person thinks he should is weird to me. Who gets to declare that God is only God if he does things that we feel warm and fuzzy about?

If you stamp your foot and declare “I won’t believe in God unless he makes everything nice and easy and keeps everyone safe.” well, then you are not really dealing with lack of belief in God, you are dealing with unwillingness to accept that a lot of really scary stuff happens.

It’s like this. Say you have a friend or family member that you like…and then one day for some reason they start acting horribly. You can choose to break association with them, but that doesn;t mean they don’t exist anymore. Same thing with God, if God exists, then God exists even if you don’t like him anymore. You can close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears and say “la la la la, I don’t see you, I can’t hear you, that means you don’t exist.” but in reality it changes nothing.

Amen.

Every morning I pray the Our Father…

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

His will not mine.

Throughout the day I reflect on his will being done and the lessons I’m being taught and the blessings I’m receiving

No matter how rotten my day turns out the cross I carry is no where near the cross Jesus carried for me.

  1. Your concept of God seems somewhat faulty. God doesn’t send people to hell. We ALL deserve Hell but by His grace, we can be saved. Notice, I said “can” be saved, not “will” be saved. Imagine you are on a ship full of people that wrecks and starts to sink. Suddenly, rescue boats appear and start throwing out life preservers. In order for a life preserver to save you, YOU must make the decision to actually DO something (i.e., reach out and grab hold). You could simply decide that you don’t need a life preserver and that you are a good enough swimmer to reach safety on your own, but you end up drowning. Who’s fault is it that you drown, yours or the lifeboat because they didn’t MAKE you take hold of their life preserver.

  2. Can you actually see the wind? I doubt you’d say it didn’t exist simply because you didn’t physically see it. Actually believing in the Biblical events you described wouldn’t be enough to save you anyway. Even if they are all allegorical stories, there is sufficient evidence to prove that Jesus actually existed.

  3. Where do the concepts of good and evil come from if there is no God and therefore no absolute truth? If there is no God, we have no place judging the horrible events in history such as the Holocaust because we can’t call Hitler “evil” because “evil” is relative.

The reason why there is a hell is because God is a righteous judge. Your number 3 is a good example as to why a hell is created. Suppose there was no hell, and Hitler faked his death… then he escaped justice and those people just died. Hell exists so that people like Hitler can not escape justice.

Your second one is the hardest one. We don’t know for sure if there is/is not evidence for some stories in the OT such as Exodus… The book of exodus could have been writen very figuratively…meaning the 10 plagues such as the killing of the 1st born could have actually been some assassin that went in and slain the high elect/council of Egypt; maybe the Egyptians destroyed all evidence due to it being an embarassment to their history; or maybe the google sites that are claiming their is no evidence are completely lying…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.