Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Conversion Story (And Why You Can Too!) (version 2.0)

Version 1.0: written by [redacted], March-April 2012
Version 1.1: added version history, fixed some minor errors, added further details to Answer 1 and Answer 7, added text to three links, converted to blog format

Version 1.2: fixed more minor errors
Version 1.3: fixed a quote attribution (St. Ignatius to St. John of the Cross)
Version 1.4: extended introduction, added the quote by G.K. Chesterton, added another philosophical proof (argument from desire)
Version 1.5: added a viewing resource section, first entry Catholicism
Version 1.6: fixed two minor references to email (version 1.0)
Version 2.0: expanded and modified parts of entire post

Quick note: This is not a regular blog post. This was originally an email to some friends about why I believe in God.

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And how! (☞゚∀゚)☞

Often times, Christians have a very difficult time explaining why they believe in God. I am no exception, though I would say I am better than some. The following Chesterton quote provides an explanation for this trend:

"But a man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds that something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it. And the more converging reasons he finds pointing to this conviction, the more bewildered he is if asked suddenly to sum them up. Thus, if one asked an ordinary intelligent man, on the spur of the moment, 'Why do you prefer civilization to savagery?' he would look wildly round at object after object, and would only be able to answer vaguely, 'Why, there is that bookcase... and the coals in the coal-scuttle... and pianos... and policemen.' The whole case for civilization is that the case for it is complex. It has done so many things. But that very multiplicity of proof which ought to make reply overwhelming makes reply impossible." - Orthodoxy, "The Paradoxes of Christianity."

Really, the problem is there are so many reasons at once the Christian has difficulty pointing to any particular one at all. I have tried to solve this (for myself) in the following blog post - first, by telling you my story, and then by telling you individual reasons that point me toward God.
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First off, I want to be clear about something. There will be no empirical proof of God's existence. Why? Because there is none and there never will be any, and thank God for that. I explain more about this at the bottom of this post.

Secondly, this is my story. As such, I'm not going to make an argument that will convince everybody. Heck, I'm not even really going to make an argument, per se. I'm just sharing why I believe. There will be a philosophical Q and A of some of the questions I've asked and gotten answers for, but that'll be about it. Hopefully by the end I will have established at the very least it is reasonable to believe in God.

So let's begin where I begin.
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FAITH AND GROWING UP

Like many others my age growing up, atheist and theist alike, my parents made a half-baked attempt at indoctrinating in us in religion. I am what is often referred to as a "cradle Catholic" ...I was baptized, had my first communion, all that. It was a big cultural thing where I'm from. Faith, growing up, was about the least heroic and inspiring thing I could ever see in any of the people around me. For my parents, it seemed as though it was simply another chore we had to do - go to Church on Sunday, pray as fast as we can before meals, stuff like that. I didn't learn anything about God from them; I went to Catholic school for that. There, it was just a job. If I learned the basics I could go up a grade and relearn them in more complicated language. I think the only influence on my life who was actually a real Catholic - who actually cared - was my Grandma. If you knew my Grandma, you would know she's about as gentle and unobtrusive as can be, and probably figured my parents would prefer to be in charge of bringing me up in the faith.

Well, this only taught me two things, really: that religion was a chore, because everyone around me lived like it was just a cultural obligation, and that religion was boring, because I had to learn it in school. So I treated it like that.

Then came 8th grade. I started going through a phase where since I wasn't really good at anything people cared about, I started trying to be good at being a hardhead. Any conservative ideology, including religious observance, I ate up like a sponge. If I couldn't "be good" like everyone else because I was cool, or good at sports, or a really good student, I would "be good" by being a more moral person than everyone else. Really, my problem was just low self-esteem, but when you're in the 8th grade you know jack crap about who you really are, and all you care about is knowing you're just as good as everyone else.

In high school, things got kinda better for me. For some reason, instead of hating me and ostracizing me as people once did, in high school most people really liked me. That still didn't change much for me, as I still had low self-esteem, so I was still playing the "hardhead with higher moral principles than you." This led me to try and be kind of involved with the Catholic group in high school. If I would have been honest with myself, I would have known that I was really just a lazy kid who had no interest in his faith. But because my self-esteem relied on me believing that I was "morally superior to you," I instead went on a few Catholic retreats, prayed a little "harder" than most other people, kinda took part in the mass a little more. Just enough to get noticed...after all, it was a precarious balance between showing I was more religious than everyone else and actually getting involved in something I considered quite boring. And of course, I felt better about myself when I chose to get involved in something boring just to be better than other people. Haha! Ha! Ha...ah...

SEEDS OF DOUBT

Well, it was also around this time that I began to seriously have doubts about my Catholic religion. There was no philosophical basis for it, really...it was just this intellectual nagging at me that what I was doing was incredibly fake. Yes, yes, it was. I still think it was fake because I was trying to be something I wasn't. But back then, what I thought was that the whole ritual was kind of fake. There would be these...hmmm, moments of clarity, you could say, when I would look around myself at mass, see people not paying attention, teachers trying to look interested, and I would view myself in this light and think "this is just utter nonsense!" I don't think there was ever a time in all that where I really believed that the bread and wine at mass really became anything other than bread and wine touched by a priest. Of course, if I didn't believe in God anymore, I no longer had any reason to believe I was better than other people at school, so I would bury these thoughts like a cat turd in a sandbox.

So, I must have put on a really good show for everyone in high school, because when I graduated they actually gave me a medal for (essentially) being a good Catholic. It's called the Bishop's Cross, and I still have it. Heck, even if I became an more or less permanent atheist I'm pretty sure I would have kept the thing. It's pretty sweet.

When I was looking for colleges, I can't really say at the time I was super interested in it. My search was pretty lazy, but I knew there was something special about a certain college (BGSU). To this day, I really don't know if it was something about the brochure, or the fact that it was close to home but not so close that I would have to live at home, or a genuine experience of God really tugging at me. I just knew I had to go to BGSU, or college would really suck. So I did.

THE FALL OF MY FAITH

I was quickly roped into a Catholic group on campus called Creed on Campus. I never really intended to join a Catholic group, as I considered my job well done in High school and I could just go on feeling good about myself for at least going to Sunday mass, unlike the rest of the heathens on campus. Heh. Anyway, by some kind of divine intervention, either literally or figuratively, I got involved in this group and made a lot of friends. I still don't know how. By the end of the year, though, I was really getting tired of the cognitive dissonance in my head. Sometimes when I would look around at my fellow Catholics, I would think to myself "I can't be the only one here who doesn't actually believe in this stuff" and of course I would bury that thought down and be like "Haha! Funny trick, brain. Yeah, I believe in this. Of course I do. Yeah..."

Well, that summer I started playing video games...a LOT more. I have always been an enthusiast, but this was always tempered by my father's limiting of my game time. While I was emancipated my freshman year of college and could play as much as I wanted, this, too, was tempered by the fact that I was making friends and stuff. By the summer, I returned home and was working full time, and had very few friends I could spend time with. I was super lonely. So, on my off time, I would play video games, specifically a browser-based MMORPG called RuneScape.

By the time I returned to school, I had made a ton of agnostic/atheist friends on this game and had some serious doubts about Catholicism. Specifically, prayer. This fundamental belief that we can commune with God somehow was thwarted by the feeling that in prayer, I was doing jack. In fact, I think I had this feeling since I was in high school, too. I decided to finally express my doubts to a Catholic friend of mine, who was unfortunately not full of answers. In fact, she seemed to kind of have the same doubts. Well, that was it for me. Game time!

For the next year and a half, I would go to mass faithfully on Sundays, sometimes even attend the Catholic group, but mostly on my own I would do whatever I wanted. I was living like there was no God, and for some time I enjoyed it. I remember one time, sitting in mass, I was watching the consecration of the Eucharist and in a moment of truth a voice in my head (mine, I thought) said "I am an atheist." Well, I was momentarily stunned and then horrified, and of course buried that deep down. Remember, I was still pretending I was a believer because it made me feel like I was still OK. I do believe atheists can be good people now, but back then I had a completely different idea of atheism.

THE SPRING OF MY CONVERSION

Well, at some time during this year and a half, I began to be very lonely. Of course then I didn't realize it, nor did I know why. I just thought I needed more online friends, not real life contact. Still, I was miserable on the inside. My online friends saw more and more of me, and I think I spent more time as my online persona than I did my true self. I was entirely lost within my online personality. Sometime during this I became internet famous as Jek Nexus, a video maker and "high level" on RuneScape, and this, of course, gains you the adulation of adolescents from around the world. Even though my fanbase was, on average, about 6 years younger than me, I fed off of this because of my deep-seeded self-esteem issues. I was so lonely though. Having fans and friends on the Internet was only a band-aid to my inner problems...they masked it while it got worse and worse. Then, something happened.

I had met a girl online who was from Pennsylvania, "only" about a 6 hour drive away. Her name was "Kayla", and I thought she was my soulmate. She was very attractive, nerdy, had some faith (I still valued this even though deep down inside I was hiding the fact I had none), and most important of all, was really nice to me and thought I was swell. I met her in September, and by October I was already talking to her on the phone almost every night. I would text her during class sometimes, and she would text me back. It was like I had a girlfriend without actually having one. Looking back on this with more mature insight, I am quite sure she knew I liked her, and I thought at the time she liked me, but she continued to pretend like we were only friends. But she knew, which was why it made her nervous to give me a phone call in November.

By the time that November rolled around, I was already very, very upset. Kayla was already being very distant and "busy" and even though I was kind of stupid back then, I wasn't a moron. I knew something was up. And then the phone call came: she had a boyfriend. I was crushed...destroyed, even. I had put all my trust, all my hope, all my feelings...into this girl. And of course she hurt me, she dealt me a blow that became a nightmare over the next few months. I didn't know why it hurt so much, but I do now. I had made Kayla my God.

I didn't know this back then, all I knew was that I was hurt. There were times I really, really wanted to die. I started playing RuneScape less and less, and spending more and more time at the Catholic parish nearby, and at the student group I was by this time only marginally attending. I really only wanted friends...people to talk to besides the people on the Internet like Kayla who only hurt me over and over, and I was slowly discovering that when I actually made an effort to be friends with people in the real world, I actually satisfied some of those lonely feelings I had. By God, I actually felt better when I had some real, personal contact instead of internet chat! By April, I was ready to quit RuneScape, and I did. To this day, I have never logged in to that game again.

There is a lot more to say about this time in my life, but I'll keep it simple and talk only about the things that led to my conversion. During my depression following the November let-down, I rekindled a few old friendships and made some new ones. These people, of course, kind of knew that I was incredibly depressed, and like good Catholics, just ascribed it to a poor relationship with God. I played along...but this time, I was actually kind of curious about the faith. I felt as though I never really gave it a shot. It was always a half-baked sort of faith where I "kinda" tried to learn about it, I "kinda" lived it, and of course I believed I knew everything about it. This time, though, I knew I was wrong. So I began to do some reading.

AN INTRODUCTION TO OLD, DEAD BRITISH GUYS

My first foray into Christian literature was C.S. Lewis. My friends liked him a lot, so I thought "Why not me?" Within a few months I had read several books by him, including "Mere Christianity" which I was surprised to see was clear, rational, and intellectually pleasing to me - and about God, of all things. I got so many answers to many of my age-old questions - answers that I couldn't help but feel as if somehow I had already known. And I corrected many of my misconceptions about Christianity. I will explain some of these later in a Q and A format.

My hunger for more knowledge of God was proven to be insatiable. It was like a hunger I didn't know I had was suddenly being fed, and so of course this hunger just got stronger. At the same time, I began to have an active prayer life and also attended mass almost every day. I couldn't get enough of it, I just loved it and I can't explain why. I really can't. This is one of the biggest problems in explaining the allure of God to those who don't know it. It's just there.

Not only that, but my belief in God was also changing me as well. I was growing in patience, generosity, love of others, and I was really happy doing it, too.

PROBLEMS

Well, this was destined to not last forever. Eventually I began to have questions that weren't being answered again, and the good feelings I had were mostly gone. Needless to say, I was concerned. I remember clearly one time, during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, standing up in my disbelief and walking out in tears. I just felt so ridiculous sitting there, and I ran out to the pond where I was accustomed to praying and just walked around it, crying for a while. A good friend came to talk to me, which was nice, but inside, I felt as though I was back where I started.

I didn't know why I could no longer pray. I was really concerned that my whole conversion was just some kind of illusion based off of my emotions. But I knew two things: I was not happy as an atheist, and being Catholic changed me. I had tried to change myself without God, and it didn't work. Somehow when I prayed and believed, I was changed.

I returned to my books in earnest. It turned out that there were answers for me...I was just looking in the wrong places. I was reading the easy books on God, and I was ready to graduate. God must have withdrawn his support from me to make me search harder. I had slacked off. What I needed most was to search for Him - because that would change me for the better. And it did.

In this "dark night of the soul" as St. John of the Cross calls it, I purified my desire for God. My desire before was superficial and selfish. I only wanted God because He made me feel good. I didn't love God. And God wants to be loved.

NOW

I suppose all that's left to say is that I have continued searching for the truth, and for God. And I believe I've found Him. It sometimes disturbs people who are not believers in God when I say I really can't foresee having doubts about Him again. I know that God must exist - the universe makes no sense without Him. But I am always interested in further dialogue between atheists and believers. How can I say I'm interested in the Truth if I am unwilling to listen to other's perceptions of it?

In conclusion, I really don't think that any atheist can be convinced of God's existence. If you don't want to believe in God, you can find a reason not to. If you do, and you continue to do so, you will find Him if you are really looking. Sometimes, He finds you.

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For a list of my questions and reasons why I have chosen to believe in God, read on to the next section. For a list of philosophical proofs of God's existence that I have found compelling, scroll to the bottom. I have also included a "further reading" section at the bottom, for those who still want more.

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Questions I have asked and Answers I have received

1.
Q. Why doesn't God just prove himself to non-believers? Can't I just pray for God to show himself to me so that I can believe? Is He that selfish?
A. It's easy to forget the implications of being an all-powerful, all-knowing deity looking for love. Love must be a choice, after all, and I think if God appeared to all of us, we would really have no choice but to believe in Him and follow Him - we would be too terrified not to. God doesn't want mindless, terrified slaves. He wants us to love Him, and in return, that is good for us (as I've tried to show in my story how well loving God worked out for me). God, of course, has appeared in many forms in the past, but this has always seemed to be a very selective calling, and done very delicately. I think I understand this best when I consider what it would be like if God had never appeared to anyone at all - we would have absolutely no record of God working throughout history to speak to mankind by extraordinary means. In addition, demanding God's appearance in order that we may follow Him presumes that seeing someone is necessary to love and obey them, or that it is, in fact, somehow helpful. God's appearances have always been depicted as terrifying occurrences done to people who already believed in His existence - and as many atheists often say, it is a poor reason to believe in something out of fear.

2.
Q. You keep saying that God loves us. Why? Isn't it rational to have the deist view that God just created the universe and stepped back, rather than doing it "because He loves us"?
A. God needs nothing from us. That is a necessary corollary of being all-powerful. As such, I can see why deists could believe God would create the universe and then do nothing. However, this also explains nothing. My main problem with this view is that it is easily disproven with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. There is plenty of historical evidence for Jesus, such as the 2,000-year existence of Christianity, which would be pretty odd if He didn't actually exist, and I think it would be intellectually dishonest to just dismiss it as some elaborate hoax. Something happened. Many ancient writers such as Josephus and Pliny the Younger also left accounts of Jesus’ existence. This is why I can't buy the deist view that God would create the universe for no purpose at all - because obviously He did, if He was willing to die a human death for it. And if He died a human death for humanity, then He must love us. That is why I believe God is interested in our love, over anything else.

3.
Q. Why does God have rules? Am I going to Hell because I don't want to follow all these Christian laws?
A. Well, why do laws exist? Good laws, I think, are designed to create good citizens. If we had no laws, there would be absolute anarchy. Not that it wouldn't be fun for a few days, but after a few busted windows and stolen cars, I think we'd get sick of it. Since the Ten Commandments were given to Moses, I think God has always tried to give us laws not because He is some kind of eternal supercop, but because He doesn't want to leave us to just "figure it out." The laws are for our benefit, not His. If you really think about it, if everyone followed the Ten Commandments, we'd probably all be better off.

4.
Q. Why does God seem like a real jerk in the Old Testament? What about laws about slavery, and the orders from God to kill people? What about the she-bears eating those kids (Kings 2:23-24)?
A. Haha, that last one is my favorite example. This is one of the big problems with not putting the OT in its historical perspective. Let me just speak broadly first. The common expression as beings created by God is to call ourselves "children of God." As children, we don't learn right from wrong right away. When we are young, we have different rules, rights, responsibilities...when we grow up, we have less of those. We're called to more - more responsibilities, less rules. Think of this in light of the Old Testament and New Testament. God didn't change from the OT to the NT...we did. In our youth in Genesis, Exodus, etc., God was slowly trying to build us up for more. In the NT, Jesus came and "fulfilled" those laws, and called us to more. Think of Matthew 5:3–12 as God sitting us down for a talk as teenagers and giving us the car keys if we promise not to wreck it.

Another thing about this question is that the Bible can only be properly understood in its original language and original context. This is why the Catholic Church often emphasizes Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic when speaking about the meaning of a passage. If you want to see a great example, click this. Another great example is talked about in this article. A response to questions about Abraham being asked to kill his son can be found here. People love to take odd bible verses out of context and hail them as examples of God's cruelty (and thus, His non-existence at least as a good God), all while forgetting that the Israelites were often evil people who needed to be slowly converted - but still treated themselves and other people better than other nations! Moses, after all, wasn't a king, and had to slowly bring the Israelites to conversion...which is showing its fruition in Christian society today. Even now, Christianity and other religions are sometimes used as justification for horrible policies and behaviors - however, are the religions really to blame, or is it a misogynistic/violent/intolerant culture? Would people act the same if there were no religion? Considering religion has also been used to justify good actions that were culturally opposed (e.g. slavery/emancipation), I am thinking yes to the previous question.

5.
Q. Why would a God who loves us send anyone to Hell?
A. It's not so much that God sends us to Hell, as we send ourselves to Hell. C.S. Lewis says "the gates of Hell are locked from the inside." I really think Hell is little more than a necessary corollary of two other beliefs we couldn't do without: our free will and God's love. God doesn't want mindless slaves. He wants love. Who ever said a rapist loves his victim? I'm pretty sure no one. I hope so, anyway. What is God if we have no other possibility than to live with Him in the heavenly marriage forever? I'd say He's a rapist. Hell is merely the result of our free choice to not love God. Simple as that. How do we love God? We simply follow our conscience as best as we can towards Him - seeking Him always. We make no presumptions about who goes to Hell, not even atheists - we just know how to go there.

6.
Q. Doesn't evolution disprove God?
A. On the contrary. I think if that were true, it would be equally true that it proves He exists, which is of course nonsense. The Bible is not a science book. In fact, it's not even a book. It's a library. There are many literary genres within its pages - historical, metaphorical, How to Be Hebrew for Dummies...it's all there. Heck, if Genesis were really meant to convey a historical truth about the origin of mankind...why would there be two contradictory stories right next to each other? Hahah. That would be bizarre.

7.
Q. If God is all-powerful and all-good, why does evil exist? Seems like a contradiction to me.
A. Not really, if you consider that God is also all-loving. Love, understand, does not mean kindness. It means willing the best for another. What if you were omniscient and knew how to prevent all evil? What if preventing one evil meant causing another? It is against God's nature to cause evil...evil is simply the absence of God. Just food for thought, that's not really my argument.

Obviously, God has a prerogative not to interfere with free will if He wants us to love Him. Sure, He could prevent people from doing evil, but in the end, that person will probably just do it again. Do we want God to control us? He has no interest in puppets, He wants us to love Him (see question 2 above).

That said, what about natural evil? What about hurricanes and tornadoes? I suppose you could say that nature has been given a free will as well. Before the Fall, nature had a perfect order as we had a perfect order - we had absolutely no inclination towards evil (concupiscence). God gave us dominion over the world, and as we were in perfect union with God's will, the world was as well. But as soon as our forefather and mother no longer wished to be under His dominion, nature changed as we did. We could not both get rid of God and have God's protection. We cannot be imperfect and have a perfect world. The habitat must match the species.
Furthermore, pain can be good for us. Just take a look at my story. There's even a piece of it I have not told: my mother passed away when I was 16 - she is not better off living here on Earth than she is in heaven, and I know for me I have gained a great deal of emotional and spiritual maturity as a result of greiving her death.
C.S. Lewis has a much longer and clearer explanation of this "problem" contained within his book The Problem of Pain.

8.
Q. What about other religions? Are they just all wrong? Is God sending them to Hell for not being Catholic?
A. Haha, nawwww they won't go to Hell, at least not just for not being Catholic. This is another one that puzzles me - I don't understand how having lots of religions proves there is no God, or even how it makes it more troubling to believe in Him. I think the pervasiveness of it throughout the world's cultures is further proof of His existence. Surely an all-good, all-powerful, all-loving being would be so mysterious that many religions would crop up around trying to figure Him out?

Many saints of the Catholic Church have surmised that God is so mysterious that God is "that which no higher thing can be thought." It does seem like a cop-out, doesn't it? Yet, if you think about it, an omnipotent, omnipresent, all good, all loving being, with perfect justice and perfect mercy is...well, a bit incomprehensible. We need to have enough humility to admit that.

Also, no. The Catholic Church doesn't believe people of other religions go to Hell simply because they believed in another religion. Jesus gave two commandments that were the most important - Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself. Essentially, if you had never heard the gospel, but were genuinely striving to love God in your own way and loving others, you have loved God and thus would likely go to heaven. Let me make it even more simple. Everyone is born with a compass to Jesus - so long as you have been following it to the best of your ability, you would probably go to heaven. See this for more information.

9.
Q. What the heck is with prayer? Don't you find it the same as doing nothing? What's supposed to happen?
A. Prayer is the thing I always most misunderstood. I think my reconciliation with the important practice of prayer happened when I realized what communing with God really meant. It's not usually a voice in your head, nor is it really some kind of supernatural feeling. It is emptying yourself to God so that He can fill you. Prayer does nothing to change God, it changes us. We ask God things because it makes us ready to receive what God wants to give. I can say very little more without ceasing to make sense. All I know is, that when I go to pray, I return slightly different, even better, than before. What else can I ask for? I suppose you have to experience it yourself.

It would be a gross simplification of the above to say that prayer is an "exercise in making yourself feel good" as I have heard from at least one person who has read it. Prayer often doesn't feel good, and often I don't want to pray. But I do it any way because it's good for me. Giving my time and energy to speak to God empties me of my own desire to go do something else. That's what the emptying part is all about.

Further Philosophical Proofs of God's Existence I Find Compelling

First mover, first causer:
Since every action has a cause and an effect, everything that exists has something else that moved it. Why do we exist? We can talk about how we came from a father and mother, and they came from their father and mother...back into time, when we split off from primates, back into the primordial soup from whence we came...and still not really explain why we exist. Going back farther, to the creation of the earth in just the right place in the Universe at just the right time to provide an environment for life...but why? We still don't have the first cause, the reason for our existence. So we can go back further, to the birth of the Sun, and further back to the death of other stars that allowed the creation of our sun, and back farther to the explosion of our Universe into being with the Big Bang. But what caused the Big Bang? Even if we explained that, we still have not explained why we exist. We can keep explaining causes forever and so on, ad infinitum, which in the end explains nothing. There must be a being whose nature is simply to be being itself, whose nature is simply to be eternally creating. This is the only way to solve the infinite regression. God is being itself, the great "TO BE." He says this himself to Moses, when Moses asked Him the very reasonable question of "what god He was"...after all, there were many "gods" in his time. God answered, "I AM WHO AM." Being itself.

Argument from intelligibility:
Something interesting about the Universe is that it can be explained in a language we can understand. Science has always been able to unravel the mechanics of the Universe, our brains always being able to comprehend the language the Universe is written in. It is odd that if the Universe is all the product of some happy chance, that we are there to unravel it in an intelligible manner. Cardinal Josef Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) has a more complete and clear formulation of this argument in his book, Introduction to Christianity.

The odds:
The odds of intelligent life (us) being created by accident is "low."

Argument from desire:
"In my life, and I assume my experience is pretty consistent with most human beings, I have desires. I desire food, I desire sex--and even more than sex, I desire intimacy with another, I desire comfort and to be liked and to be safe. Some desires are passing and can easily be satisfied (I want that cookie. I ate that cookie.) or even dismissed (I want that cookie. No, it is not worth the calories). But some touch at the very root of who I am as a human being—and most especially the desire for love. I want to be loved. I need to be loved, and I need (even though this does not always come “naturally”) to give love. Every person that I have ever met, from people in jail to people on death beds to high schoolers who just seem to care about parties and Jersey Shore, all want love. And we want to experience a love that is selfless, that does not end, that keeps on going deeper and deeper. Unlike all of the surface desires that I could ever experience, this desire for a love that does not end cannot be satiated. That is why we are so struck, confounded and saddened by the death of someone we love deeply, because we don’t want this love to end, and even though we should be “used” to it by now (you’d think that evolution would have weeded out this irrational desire, no?), our world is shattered when we encounter death. I am hungry, and there is food. I hold my breath for 20 seconds, desire oxygen, oxygen thankfully exists, and I take in a great big inhalation of life giving air. I desire love that doesn’t end, and it makes sense that there is the possibility of that desire being fulfilled." - An anonymous Catholic priest

The argument against empiricism:
I said earlier in this post that I would provide no empirical proof for God's existence. Many people claim that this is unacceptable. But why? Suppose I say I love someone. What kind of evidence would constitute enough proof of that? Can one even prove such a thing? Would one say "I will not believe you until I have absolute conclusive evidence that this is true!"? I think not. There are many, many things that we take without empirical proof. I think the most important one for the atheist to consider is whether his reason is even grounded in objective reality...please provide evidence. :-)

Argument from morality:
What are our moral principles grounded in? The atheistic worldview holds that what exists in the material world is all there is. There is no empirical proof of God in the world, but there is no empirical proof of right or wrong either. I can't prove good, nor can I prove bad. If I ground my moral principles in God, however, I can know. If I don't, well...I suppose I still have my own reason, right? I can think about what the reasonable thing to do is in a situation. Mentioning the whole "moral compass instilled by God thing" aside, if there is no God, why would I do that? Why should I be bound to reason alone? Why not some other value, like progress? Or narcissism? Stalin, as an atheist, knew this when he said "The idea of a concentration camp is excellent" in response to the idea of eradicating "counter-revolutionaries and traitors" in Estonia. "Might makes Right" is the only logical conclusion to atheism. After all, if there is no God, there is no way that I can even say with any conviction that it is "good" that I exist - and so in the name of "progress", one may be entirely justified in removing me.

Further reading:
Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis
Surprised by Joy, by C.S. Lewis
The Rage Against God, by Peter Hitchens
The Godless Delusion, by Patrick Madrid and Kenneth Hensley

For viewing:
Catholicism, by Fr. Robert Barron

Much love in Christ,
"Dream"

Gloria patris, in saecula saeculorum!
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"There's no way of telling people that they're all walking around shining like the sun."
-Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

2 comments:

  1. awesome post, good man. one small thing...i believe it was St. John of the Cross who put into words the notion of "Dark Night of the Soul". perhaps st. ignatius refers to it in his excersices. still, i love this.

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    1. You are correct! I'll have to fix that.

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