Struggling to hold onto my faith (and failing)

I was raised Catholic but left faith behind in college when I started to see it as irrational. Many years later, about six months ago, I decided to return to the faith after learning more about Catholicism and finding that it made more sense than I had previously thought.

Since then, I’ve been in a near constant struggle to hold onto this faith. While I find the general Catholic philosophy to be not only logical, but true based on my experience of life, there are other aspects I find problematic and as of yet I haven’t been able to reconcile them.

One is the teaching on Original Sin in light of evolutionary biology. Unless I’ve been misinformed, Original Sin is a dogma, which means the Church cannot be wrong about it or it would destroy their infallable authority. Original sin requires monogenism, that all of humanity descended from one single couple. Based on what I’ve read, this is simply not what happened. I don’t understand biology, but people who do understand biology claim that monogenism is incompatible with what we know about our biology. I even read a journal article by two Catholics - a scientist and a theologian - making this claim, that monogenism isn’t possible, yet saying that this simply means the Church needs to adjust the details of what they teach Original Sin to be. But this is a dogma - if the Church was wrong about a dogma, they lose their divine authority.

Another problem I have is more philosophical than scientific. I find it increasingly irrational that God would “work” this way, that he would make his existence not at all obvious, or that we would have no solid proof even for the story of Christ’s Resurrection. How can God hold us morally accountable for not following his will, when our understanding of his will is coming from a disgustingly corrupt human institution, and ancient documents which make all kinds of unverifiable claims that we’re supposed to accept despite the lack of corroborating evidence? I cannot bring myself to believe that God would require us to have blind faith in other people as a prerequisite to having faith in him. Much of what we understand/believe about God comes from other people, so our faith is ultimately in them - not in God.

I absolutely want to believe in God - I even want to believe in the divine authority of the Church - but my rational mind is screaming that it doesn’t add up, and I can’t keep ignoring it. Please help me.

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I’m sorry that you are struggling ,and I really recommend speaking with a priest OP :confused: I will remember to pray for you,God bless.

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Polygenism is not acceptable. Pius XII wrote about evolution and polygenism:

“For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.”

"For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.

http://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis.html

Catechism

382 “Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity” ( GS 14 § 1). The doctrine of the faith affirms that the spiritual and immortal soul is created immediately by God.

Faith – not blind
Faith is a gift of God, so it is possible for it to vacillate depending upon the state of grace. To maintain faith, hope, and charity requires cooperation with grace.

Catechism

156 What moves us to believe is not the fact that revealed truths appear as true and intelligible in the light of our natural reason: we believe “because of the authority of God himself who reveals them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived”.28 So "that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit."29 Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability “are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all”; they are “motives of credibility” ( motiva credibilitatis ), which show that the assent of faith is “by no means a blind impulse of the mind”.30

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c3a1.htm

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Dear OP,
Please, talk to a priest. And remember, judge a kingdom not by it’s subjects but by it’s king (Christ).

I’ll keep you in prayers brother (or sister!).
May you know the peace of Christ, and experience his profound love for you.

Pax in Christi,
RHIC

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Yeah… That’s the point.

Evolutionary biology tells us that polygenism is true.

The Church teaches that we cannot believe in polygenism.

Hence my conflict.

I don’t see how it’s helpful to simply state Catholic teaching when I already made it explicit that my problem is reconciling this Catholic teaching with science/logic.

So, if I lose faith because the faith appears to go against reason, it necessarily means I must not be cooperating with grace and so it’s my own fault. It follows, then, that to “cooperate with grace” would be to deny reason. To deny reason is to have blind faith.

Can you point me to a specific source that says monogenism is false?

Maybe you missed this about Adam being the first with a human soul, not necessarily a different body than other hominids without a rational soul.

… in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.

Faith
Your logic on blind faith does not follow what I posted from the Catechism. It is not blind just because of not knowing a particular logical reasoning (some things are mysteries). There are signs of divine Revelation. Catechism posted before:

Thus the miracles of Christ and the saints, prophecies, the Church’s growth and holiness, and her fruitfulness and stability “are the most certain signs of divine Revelation, adapted to the intelligence of all”; they are “motives of credibility” ( motiva credibilitatis ), which show that the assent of faith is “by no means a blind impulse of the mind”.30

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Very good post!

Take advice from those already in this thread giving you resources.

Also to note that even with doubt Id rather be in the good than to risk being a nonbeliever and face the Lord when judgement comes and he says that its too late.

Example, someone says that there is going to be a plague in your town on Friday and to be inside your home to stay safe.
You either can just question them and wonder until then OR you can stay inside on friday.
If it were false, at least you played it safe
Now if it were true and you werent inside, OH snap…

The Church has been around for 2 millennium, in Matthew 16:18(i think) Jesus gives the keys to his Church to Peter and says the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I mean weather you doubt or not, that in itself is enough for me to take my chances and stay on the goodside in the Church Jesus instituted for us.

Grow in your faith, even if its the size of a mustard seed. Love the Lord, he will surely show you his mercy.

I understand your concerns - on the surface, reconciling the Church’s teachings on Adam and Eve with science can seem tough, and you’re not the first person to struggle with it. However, I do think that it is possible to reconcile the Church’s monogenism with science’s polygenism. It comes down to the difference between a human and a homo sapien. A homo sapien is the biological species, while a human is a homo sapien with a soul. Now, since the soul is not physical, and is the only main difference between a human and a homo sapien, then biologically we would be indistinguishable. It would even be possible for a human and homo sapien to breed - which would account for how Adam and Eve’s two sons could go on to have families. They mated with other homo sapiens. Therefore, it would be be true that Adam and Eve were the first to humans - the first two homo sapiens to have a soul. And yet what science considers to be polygenism would still be true.

But doesn’t the church teach that everyone alive inherited Original Sin from Adam and Eve, and thus would have to be related to them? How can we believe that everyone alive today came from one man or one woman? The idea is not as impossible as it might seem. There’s something called mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam. Basically, everyone alive today can trace their lineage down to a single woman (since our mitochondrial DNA is inherited from our mothers) and one man (since the y chromosome can only come from our fathers). Now, this doesn’t mean that mitochondrial Eve was the first ‘woman’, it just means that her contemporaries’ families didn’t exist in an unbroken line to the present. It’s also true the mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosomal Adam probably lived hundreds, maybe even thousands of years apart. But the point is that the idea of everyone currently alive coming from one woman or one man is not fantastic.

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Thank you for sharing your journey. I will keep you in my prayers!

If I may give my opinion, your struggle seems to be a result of trying to prove the totality of God with science. Trying to prove the Creator by the creation could be misleading, as the Creator is greater than the creation. If you created a painting, regardless of how well or poorly it was made, it would not be fair for someone to use the painting as a measuring stick to measure your humanity.

With regards to solid evidence of His resurrection:
I suggest you look at the “aftermath” of His resurrection as proof of His resurrection. In the 1st C. AD, no Jew would be willing to leave everything, be persecuted and killed in gruesome ways (as his Apostles did, and may other martyrs) to spread the gospel taught by a mere impostor. Jesus NOT resurrecting would have made him an impostor, but the fact that the Apostles did travel and gave up their lives for the gospel only proves that Jesus did resurrect.

Being Catholic involves believing before understanding. God wants you to trust and believe him first (Faith), then He will reveal his teachings to you accordingly (through the guidance of His Church). Using Abram as an example, when God asked him to " Genesis 12:1 Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you" and “Genesis 12:4 Abram went as the Lord directed him”. Abram believed first. He didn’t ask God for explanations or to convince him (hence he is called the “father of faith”, not the “father of convincing.”) John C6 is another example. 5k disciples demanding explanation for these “hard teachings” left Jesus, and even thought the Apostles did not understand either (eat my flesh and drink my blood) they chose to believe; they later understood the teaching at the Last Supper. Our Blessed Mother who did not asked for explanation to believe the message from God, but rather said "“Luke 1:38 Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

All comes down to having Faith. Some people have Faith with very little convincing and others require more, which is fine because if your intentions are good God will answer. Keep in mind these two verses:
Hebrew 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
John 20:29 "Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

I encourage you to take God by his word. His word passed down from Apostles to Bishops in his C.Church. Believing the Church teachings=believing Him. *Luke 10:16 Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me…" Suggest spiritual retreat, pilgrimage, a place with silence, pray, contemplate, study and hear what God is asking of you. Don’t be discouraged. I believe the very fact that you are going through this since you left the “world” to follow Jesus is a sign that you are in the right path, and the devil is doing all that he can to prevent you by planting these doubts and fear. Stay strong and persevere my friend. Matthew 24:13 “But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”

God bless

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Alright, OP, as a highly rational person myself, I’ll take a stab at some of your issues.

First, as a paleontology major, I can tell you that monogenism isn’t just possible, it is highly probable. Nothing in science is capable of proving monogenism impossible or polygenism necessary. I repeat, science is incapable of proving either. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Second, God can hold morally accountable for failing to follow His will even if we had no idea He existed. It is His right as Creator and King of the Universe to do so. Be glad that He is also merciful and loving, that He is willing to forgive those who never had the chance to hear His word.

Third, the Church is not a human institution; it was founded by Jesus and is safeguarded by the Holy Spirit. And those ancient documents are some of the most verifiable in the world (a number of accurate copies from the first few centuries) and there is corroborating evidence if you look for it.

Fourth, and last, I recommend reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. It is both entertaining and helpful for highlighting internal human fallacies

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Science is fact based upon what is observed by the senses. Religion relies on faith and the spirit; it cannot be easily “proved” with the senses. Science cannot prove religion, just as religion cannot disprove science.

Evolution is a theory with facts from science to support it, but evolution is not a study in science, such as biology or chemistry.

(Warning) Here’s a biography about myself: I have doubts and trouble believing too. But I pray daily for faith, especially for faith in the Eucharist, and I read books on faith to help me. I’ve realized I know enough about Church history, the Church’s support for science, how to defend the faith, etc., but my spiritual life is not well-fed by these, nor is well-fed by apologetics, Catholic blogs, and good arguments in Catholic discussion forums. I think it’s safe to say I’m not gifted with faith; I have to work for it or it will disappear like sand struck by a pounding wave.

I’ve found my spiritual life and thus my faith is bolstered best by contemplation, books about mysticism (Diary of St Faustina, Mystical City of God, In Sinu Jesu, etc), approved apparitions, the Mass, and the examination of conscience. These methods work best for me, but each person may utilize different spiritual tools that work best for them.

Have you found any tools or methods yet that help you? Maybe you could rely more heavily on the ones that appeal to your personality.

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I want to sincerely thank everyone who has replied - both for the advice and for the prayers. You’ve all helped me in very real ways, both with showing me that I had been mislead and with giving me things to research and others to contemplate. I found an article through Google on Strange Notions (which I can’t believe I didn’t know existed until now) that discusses this very topic in-depth, echoing and expanding on some of what’s been said here, and thank God I feel like I’ve reconciled myself to the Church again.

This sort of thing has happened several times since I returned to faith - I discover that something the Church teaches is seemingly wrong or illogical or impossible, I have a crisis of faith, but after frantically researching the issue I eventually come to see that I had either been mislead or misunderstood something, and the apparent inconsistency doesn’t actually exist.

It’s clear that the devil has been utilizing these occurrences, as well, because I almost always end up committing sins during these periods of doubt. I effectively lose my faith entirely for a short time, either just in the Church or in God himself, and so certain sins I have a frequent desire to commit I end up giving into because in the moment I stop believing that they’re actually sinful.

I don’t know how best to approach this problem so as to hopefully keep it from happening more in the future. I feel like my faith is still so weak and fragile, because I can lose it to quickly at the first sign of a problem like this, and give in so easily to temptation.

Maybe I just need to be patient about it. I spent most of my life living sinfully, engraining all kinds of bad habits and atheistic thought patterns into myself, so I’m sure it’s going to take time to repair. But if there’s anymore advice anyone has about how to strengthen faith when you’re a very logically-minded person who struggles at times with feeling like some aspects of the faith are irrational, or how to resist temptation when part of you really doesn’t believe what you’re trying to resist is actually bad, it would be very appreciated.

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God left just enough evidence to permit those earnestly seeking him to find him but to so much evidence so to compel those not interested to accept him

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I think it is good that you won’t accept blind Faith and that you seek answers. You point out interesting topics and teachings which seem to contradict science and reason. Truth of religion cannot contradict scientific truth or reason. So either the Church is wrong, which is possible, or you are wrong, or there are explanations which don’t contradict science and reason

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The case for polygenism is a scientific guess based on computer models, nothing more. I fully believe and have no doubt about the creation of our first parents immediately and directly by God, body and soul, as adults, free of original sin.

So you believe Genesis is literal history? With an actual garden, an actual snake, etc? Do you not accept evolution?

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I believe in the special creation of our first parents immediately and directly. Other aspects of Genesis may be figurative, yet tell the true story of the fall of man and original sin.

The creation of Adam in this manner does not only appear in Genesis. 1 Chronicles 1, Tobit 8:6, Wisdom 10:1, Sirach 33:10, 40:1 and 49:6, Hosea 6:7, 2 Maccabees 7:28, Luke 3:38, Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Timothy 2, and Jude 1:14 all implicitly or explicitly state that Adam was the first man created by God in the manner described in Genesis. So it’s not as easy to say that Genesis can be interpreted figuratively, therefore we can just dismiss the immediate creation of our first parents. There is absolutely nowhere in Scripture that even hints at Adam and Eve being some type of irrational hominids who God “zapped” with a soul.

I do not believe that any species changed into another one, no.

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