For a while now, I have considered myself an atheist of sorts. But it seems as if an internal intuition keeps compelling me to rejoin the faith community. At times of anxiety I often suddenly feel as if I can just pray and become calm; however, I purposely stop myself (despite an intense feeling) because of my lack of religion. Frequently I feel like and ask about going to church and partaking in its traditions, but this is stopped by what I believe to be irreconcilable differences about the theology. The bottom line is, I want to return to Catholicism. I feel God’s presence and will, I sense how powerful community is. But there are a number of significant roadblocks in the way.
1) Why does God allow suffering to exist in the world?
-I’ve seen answers from the Catechism, this very website, and many other sources. And I am not satisfied with them. Why would an all-powerful and all-loving creator feel the need to “test” his children with temptation (referring to the fall of man in Genesis), willing to rain fire and condemn an entire species to misery for something he established? Why do we seem to exist for his pleasure alone and not ours? He can easily remove all crime from this world for the sake of his people. but he chooses not to seemingly out of pride (you play bad due to an imperfection that I can fix, but you will still be the full one to suffer for it). It doesn’t add up. Honestly, it seems like an endorsement of crime just so we can learn to follow him and sacrifice much, almost deriving pleasure from teaching a lesson that hurts innocent people.
Murder, theft, systemic crime, poverty, etc. These can be attributed to human fallibility. But what about hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, cancer, and so on? Why does God afflict us with these ailments? Again, apologists say it’s to “test” our strength/faith. But when I see friends and family die needlessly, I don’t see God’s tough love. I see something that a truly benevolent creator would have never created in the first place. I don’t know any decent human alive who would make all members of a species suffer to test loyalty, or to avenge the sins of parents from thousands of years ago.
2) Why is politically opposing civil same-sex marriage so central to the faith?
-I understand and am willing to follow the church’s teachings on this matter. Marriage only being between a man and a woman. However, who are we to force this belief on other people? Furthermore, many scientific organizations/studies have demonstrated that children raised by LGBT parents are not likely to show any sort of deficiency long term, nor are they less likely to be heterosexual. Thus gay and lesbian families can provide great homes for needy children. What matters to me is not gender, but love. This should trump any argument people make for “divinely inspired design.”
3) Why is “God” necessary for "good?"
-More specifically, why would good people go to hell simply for not believing in Catholic doctrines? I know many friends and fellow citizens who are dedicated to their communities. I myself have founded and am in charge of many volunteer youth groups and civic clubs (helping to raise much for charity). Despite the fact that we are honest people who want to make the world better, why does the church warn that we will be damned for not attending mass or eating the body and blood? For worshiping a different deity or none at all? If one is truly all-loving and all-knowing, it seems as if helping others and demonstrating character should be enough to earn everlasting life.
I do not ask these questions to be hostile. As I’ve stated above, I want to return to the Catholic Church. Every day I feel a strong urge to (sort of like a craving for food), but these obstacles are simply too strong and expose too many holes in what I would profess.