The best way to stop getting answers is to stop asking questions

As an atheist, what is the nature of your atheistic convictions? What exactly do you object to? Religion is usually the first answer, which immediately leads to the next question - which religion? And believe it or not there are important differences between religions that should affect how honest and conscientious athiests view and interact with them.

Genuine critical thought and sober rationality demand no less.

Particularly online but also in academic circles, atheism has an outsized presence, and usually a largely American-based presence. To take for example the popular website Reddit, the Catholic section had about 5,000 subscribers fairly recently, while the Christian (protestant American) section had about 50,000 subscribers. Atheism however had a whopping 1.4 million subscribers.

To put these numbers into context, Catholics in the US account for a quarter of the population, protestants half the population, and atheists three percent of the population of the USA. The takeaway here is that almost all of the atheist rhetoric you are likely to find on the internet is aimed towards rebutting the evangelical and fundamentalist protestant beliefs common in the US, which are very different creatures from Catholicism. They have a different and much shorter history, often strikingly different beliefs such as creationism and young earthism, Biblical literalism and so on, as well as a different praxis entirely, to begin with.

In reality, few atheists in Ireland actually know all that much about the Catholic faith beyond the usual media-generated falsehoods and the many historical fabrications. Sad to say, from a Catholic perspective, atheists are far from alone in this shortcoming - more than a few professed Irish Catholics know little enough about Catholicism themselves!

What this means in practical terms is that many of the talking points you may have absorbed or learned online simply do not apply to Catholicism. Criticising the Old Testament for example is rather pointless - Catholics follow the New Testament, hence their identification as "Christians".

While a useful reference point and a plentiful source of foreshadowings, with a few exceptions like the Psalms, much of the Old Testament has been fulfilled by Christianity. For example, did you know that divorce was permitted in the Old Testament? Not any more.

Likewise talking about creationism or the denial of evolution is completely pointless. The Church is fine with both of those things. In fact, there are no areas of established scientific inquiry the Church disagrees with, since, as St Thomas Aquinas put it, truth cannot contradict truth! Aha, you may say, then all the Church does is amend its beliefs to match the prevailing scientific understanding! Well yes, just as scientists do, especially since such things are not primary competencies of the Church.

Now you're begining to understand the deep-rooted connections between the Church, science, and the modern world.

Only in the areas of faith and morals does the Church assert supremacy and an unchanging vision, and it does not wield this authority like a weapon, but rather like a doctor gently trying to advise patients how best to achieve full health and happiness. The Church is, after all, a hospital, not an elite club or a courthouse.

From a secular perspective, Catholic ethics are of a transformative nature, not of a dissociated nature. Similar to virtue ethics, they are a system of moral reasoning which focuses on personal changes resulting from the choices of a moral actor. In a similar fashion, the end result of truly following Catholicism is to become good as well as doing good, to develop a properly formed conscience which informs everything we do and ultimately think.

By positing that humanity exists in God's image, the Church tries to guide us towards becoming more Christ-like in mind, body and soul, which means in one sense more fully ourselves, forming and developing the best parts of ourselves, and to help others to achieve their potential to know and love the good, leaving none behind. There is nothing inherently objectionable to this ethical framework or the means by which the Church attempts to guide the faithful, as many former atheists have discovered.

Even hardline and outspoken atheists such as Richard Dawkins who have previously insisted that other atheists and agnostics publicly "ridicule and show contempt" for the religious, in particular using the example of Catholic bread and wine transforming into the body and blood of Christ, have reversed their opinions almost completely.

"As recently as 2015, Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) was arguing that children needed to be protected from the religious views of their parents, and made a series of alarming comments regarding the rights of parents to educate their children in the tenets of their religious faith. By 2018, however, Dawkins was warning that the “benign Christian religion” might be replaced by something decidedly less benign, and that perhaps we should take a step back to discuss what might happen if the evangelical secularists are successful in destroying or banishing Christianity.

Other atheists and agnostics, from Bill Maher to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, have echoed Dawkins’ sentiments. This is a radical shift in only a handful of years—and the fact that atheists are sounding the alarm should be a warning to Christians about the consequences of our ongoing secularization.

Dawkins has now come out and repudiated his previous belief that Christianity should be banished from society even more firmly. In fact, he told The Times, ending religion—once his fervent goal—would be a terrible idea, because it would “give people a license to do really bad things.”

Despite the fact that Dawkins has long argued that the very idea of the God of the Bible being necessary as a basis for morality is both ridiculous and offensive, he appears to be backtracking. “People may feel free to do bad things because they feel God is no longer watching them,” he said, citing the example of security cameras as a deterrent to shoplifting. One wonders if he has heard Douglas Murray remind people that the Soviets murdered their millions in the firm belief that there was no Judge waiting for them when the killing was over."

In this Dawkins and many other belligerent, high profile atheists have rediscovered what had already been found out by people like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

"Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval.

But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened” "

Indeed, the catastrophic effects of enforced or state atheism are no mystery at this point. With that said, many atheists are of high intelligence, or at least able to objectively examine new information and incorporate it into their worldview. Please do take a look through this site and see whether or not you, like Dawkins, might not become Catholic, but at least might acknowledge Catholicism as a force for good in the world.

Perhaps even a neccessary one.

The scientific case for God

Aside from social and cultural reasons, there are scientific justifications for a belief in a higher power. You may disagree but the contemporary evidence for God, from philosophy, science, and the medical study of near death experiences is substantial.

Without in any way challenging evolution, rather complementing it, we might begin by examining the origin of life itself - there is no scientific experiment or theory which even begins to explain how inanimate chemicals, elements and minerals somehow became self organising and started reproducing. No experiment has ever caused inanimate matter to become animate.

This essay presents a good cross section of further evidence, but does not exhaust the subject. It discusses three principle areas of evidence for God:

The Fourth Topic is concerned with six issues arising out of the scientific and philosophical evidence for God:

Many thanks to Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D for compiling this essay, and more arguments and documentation can be found here.

Evidence of God from Contemporary Science & Philosophy by Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., Jun 26, 2017

"Historians have marveled at the extent to which intellectual debate in those [medieval Catholic] universities was free and unfettered. The exaltation of human reason and its capabilities, a commitment to rigorous and rational debate, a promotion of intellectual inquiry and scholarly exchange - all sponsored by the Church - provided the framework for the Scientific Revolution."

- Dr Thomas Woods


Time for thoughts
Question the beauty of the earth,
the beauty of the sea,
the beauty of the wide air around you,
the beauty of the sky;
question the order of the stars,
the sun whose brightness lights the day,
the moon whose splendor softens
the gloom of night;
question the living creatures that
move in the waters,
that roam upon the earth
that fly through the air;
the spirit that lies hidden
the matter that is manifest;
the visible things that are ruled,
the invisible that rule them,
question all these.
They will answer you:
'Behold and see, we are beautiful.'
Who made these beautiful changing things,
if not One who is beautiful and changeth not?

St. Augustine

Explore Saints and Scholars

Often, a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and distances… and this knowledge he holds with certainty from reason and experience.

It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.

The shame is not so much that an ignorant person is laughed at, but rather that people outside the faith believe that we hold such opinions, and thus our teachings are rejected as ignorant and unlearned. If they find a Christian mistaken in a subject that they know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions as based on our teachings, how are they going to believe these teachings in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think these teachings are filled with fallacies about facts which they have learnt from experience and reason.

Reckless and presumptuous expounders of Scripture bring about much harm when they are caught in their mischievous false opinions by those not bound by our sacred texts. And even more so when they then try to defend their rash and obviously untrue statements by quoting a shower of words from Scripture and even recite from memory passages which they think will support their case ‘without understanding either what they are saying or what they assert with such assurance.’ (1 Timothy 1:7)

You say that truth is to be grasped more by faith than by reason ... Heaven forbid that God should hate in us that by which he made us superior to the animals! Heaven forbid that we should believe in such a way as not to accept or seek reasons, since we could not believe if we did not have rational souls.

- St Augustine, 4th century AD


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