Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why Catholics are Right.

Q.  How do you know Catholicism is right?
A.  I don't.  But I choose to believe.

This might sound like an unfair leap to make, to draw the conclusion that it is right without absolute assurance.  I think if we are going to be honest with each other, everyone eventually chooses what to believe.  We choose to believe that some things are moral, and some are not.  We choose to trust people who's opinions reinforce our own, and think other people are wacky or stupid. 

I myself struggle with my faith, some times a lot. I wonder if I am really right.  And for some reason I seem to be a glutton for punishment.  I invite Jehovah's Witnesses over, and try to get them to convince me that I am wrong.  I listen to the Thinking Atheist podcast, and visit, and look up what other people think about the strong Catholic arguments.... and I find that consistently people argue against an inaccurate portrayal of what Catholicism is, instead of the truth!  I am repeatedly disappointed, I guess because when they set up Catholic arguments to look like straw men, so they can easily knock them down, they make themselves look like idiots instead!  I want meat, an intelligent refutation to the things I believe.  I guess I am surprised that the anti Catholic rhetoric out there is so weak.  Atheists even openly acknowledge that their strategy is to mock Christians out of the marketplace of ideas rather than to engage us.

So, here I am, throwing down the gauntlet.  I invite atheists and whoever else wants to to read this article, and dissect it, and tell me why I am wrong.  If you find yourself unable to comment on the blog, then send me an email!

First off, I admit that there are some pretty compelling arguments for atheism. In time maybe I will write whole entries on each of these arguments, but I won't waste time here.  I think the following arguments are very strong;

If God is all good and all powerful, than why do bad things happen to good people?
Why does God authorize atrocities in the Bible?
Scientists believe that humans have been on the planet for 200,000 years.  So why did Jesus only come 2000 years ago?
Why doesn't God heal amputees?

Interestingly, these arguments all make certain assumptions-  like that God's ultimate desire for us is that we be happy, and that we are reading the Bible the way that we should (see Bible Reading), etc.  But none the less, these are things I struggle with and frankly I find quite compelling.

That said, I am totally convinced of the truth of Catholicism anyway.  Because the more I think about it, the more I think the facts play in Catholicisms favor.

First thing you need to know is that Catholicism sees no contradiction between Christianity and the Theory of Evolution... so that is not a problem.

The thing is, evidence clearly shows that Jesus lived and rose from the dead.  And he continues to work through the Church!  Again, I will probably have to write a whole entry on each of these topics to flesh them out, but here are the things that convince me that the Church is right.

The way the New Testament is written.  Read Paul or Mark or John-  you cannot believe that they did not believe what they said.  They did not make it up-  no one would make up the gospel of Mark, and have such a strange series of events and characters who wander into the story never to reappear, and do not really play into the narrative as a whole.

Apostles travelled as far as Spain, Iran and India to spread the news that Jesus rose from the dead, and 11/12 of them died for saying so.  They profited nothing.

2000 years of non contradiction by Catholic Popes on matters of faith and morals.

The Shroud of Turin.
The Miracle at Lanciano.
Incorruptibles. (At least 96 of them!)
Stigmatists like Padre Pio.
Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mother Teresa.  Christopher Hitchens wrote an Article arguing that she was not really a saint.  The man was a genius, but his arguments remain weak. I suppose that if you buy the line that the only way to end poverty is to hand out birth control and provide abortion, than Mother Teresa certainly did not do her job. Mother Teresa is only one example of thousands of Catholics around the world sacrificing everything for love. No one else can make a comparable claim.

Saints. the Catholic Church has more than 10,000 canonized saints. That's just a number... until you realize that every year in Christianities history 5 more people were canonized.  Each one either lived a life comparable to Mother Teresa, or died for their faith.  And the canonization process includes unexplained miraculous phenomenon indicating the sanctity of the individual in question!   Miracles that past the test of the Devils Advocate! (the guy who tries to prove that the persons life is a sham... used to be an office in the Church.)

Skeptics will point out that such and such an incorruptible may have been embalmed, or that such and such a miracle does not stand up to scrutiny....  but I think skeptics ought to apply their critical reasoning processes to themselves as well as others.  Are they arguing that in the thousands of documented miracles in the Church that could not be explained by science and stood up to harsh scrutiny that all of them are faked?  The Church has been running this scam for 2000 years, and no body squealed?  This takes a greater leap of faith than to believe that some of them are real.  And only some need to be real to prove the package!

So, in my opinion, it appears that it is the skeptics, not the Catholics, who are deceiving themselves and being intellectually dishonest.  I've made a straw man for you to knock down-  show me a contradiction in Church teaching.  Duplicate the shroud of Turin.  Duplicate Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Bring the evidence to bear! 

This is why, despite the compelling arguments of the Atheists, I find myself trying to understand them within the context of Catholicism, rather than letting them lead me to reject the Church.  I choose to believe.  And I will live out of my conviction.


  1. Nobody 'chooses' what to believe. You can choose to act on those beliefs, but you don't 'choose' a belief. If you want to see how this works, try and believe that you can fly after walking off of a cliff. I don't think you'll get to far in that belief.

    I'm not sure how the argument about pain and suffering in the world is making an assumption that God's ultimate desire is for us to be happy; it is the Christians themselves who claim that their God is all loving, knowing, caring, and powerful. No assertions are being made, at least not from the atheist or skeptic viewpoint.

    Evidence for Jesus... as far as I know, all of the "evidence" for Jesus is not evidence at all. Forgeries and what-not. I'm not going to say that Jesus never existed, because I don't know. But it certainly has not been established that he DID exist.

    You use the argument of miracles; first, you say that God does not heal amputees, you question why God allows bad things to happen to good people, etc.
    But then you turn right around and say that unexplained miracles have happened. So God just does what he wants? I won't say that because there is pain and suffering in the world means there is no God. But I will say that I think it would be safe to say that God is an under achiever.

    You admitted that you don't know that Catholicism is right. You 'choose' to believe it. Choosing to believe something doesn't make it right, and that is one of the reasons why I'm NOT a Catholic, Muslim, or follower of any other deity.

    1. In my opinion, not knowing you, you have 'chosen' not to believe- you have chosen skepticism. Otherwise you could not list a reason for not believing! People always choose what to believe, based on evidence, arguments, presuppositions, etc. Honestly, I think of all my assertions, this one is the hardest one to refute!

    2. I don't think it is a matter of "choosing to believe" or "choosing not to believe." What IS the matter, in my opinion, is choosing to be open to the evidence, and/or LACK of evidence.

      From an atheists view point, there is no Heaven or Hell or God or Satan. There is no evidence for none of these. My personal view is this: If there is an all loving, all caring, and all knowing God, then we simply would not have the pain, torture, grief, and suffering in the world. An all loving, all knowing, and all powerful God WOULD stop the pain and suffering. People often blame Satan for these things; an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God could AND WOULD destroy Satan to keep pain and suffering from happening.

      I don't "choose not to believe" but I DO choose to find the correct answer to my questions. For instance, a cousin of mine posted a video on facebook where in the video, a car was being submerged by a flood, and the driver inside could not get the door open. People were trying to save her, but they could not get her out of the car. When the car was practically submerged, the car door "MIRACULOUSLY" opened and she was saved. She was convinced that this was Gods doing. If she had done a little research, she would have discovered that the car door would not open until the pressure had been equilized. it was not Gods doing; it was mere physics at work. But she was convinced that this was evidence of God.

      I'm at work at the moment and I'm running out of time, but would love to continue the conversation when I actually have more time to put all of my thoughts into one post.

    3. Hmm... I feel another blog post coming on! I need to address your arguments at greater length, and might as well get it our of the comments section, which nobody usually reads. Next time I get a minute I'll tackle the all loving God argument.

      I totally hear what you're saying, and as I mentioned I struggle with doubts because of the things you're talking about. To me the crux is, though, the evidence that Jesus really did rise from the dead. This to me proves everything else (existence of God, Heaven, Hell, etc) since Jesus taught us those things.

      At the moment I am convinced that the Gospels and letters of paul are legitimate eyewitness testimonies. If I was in court, and needed evidence, and had 12 different eyewitnesses describe essentially the same thing, I would count that as pretty strong evidence- strong enough to make a decision!The fact that the writings are in essential agreement about the key fact- that Jesus rose from the dead- is evidence. The fact that the apostles and early disciples made all kinds of sacrifices to travel all over the known world telling people what they saw, and most of them got killed for it... speaks to their conviction. So there is evidence supporting my claim, whereas there's not supporting the claim that Jesus did not rise- despite the fact that there was plenty of opposition who could have easily pointed at Jesus' corpse to show that it was false.

      I am also convinced, although less so, in the auithenticity of the shroud of Turin, which is physical evidence for the claims of Christianity. Then there's all the other miracles I've mentioned. I chose miracles that are scientifically verifiable and unexplainable, unlike the story of some girl escaping a flooded car. There's plenty of credulity for supernatural causes out there, and I confess that I am skeptical about most of them. But the supernatural seems much more credible an explanation for the shroud and others, and I think it is only people who choose not to believe in the supernatural who dissagree. Rather than basing that opinion on evidence, you choose ahead of time that supernatural cannot be considered, and deny or ignore the evidence presented!

  2. You have doubt? You can do one of two things:

    You can be like all of the other believers who are also "struggling" with doubt and run back to your comfort zone where it is safe; you can rationalize with the answers that are giving you doubt in the first place, you can not ask questions, and not follow the evidence, wherever it may lead. You can plug your ears, eyes, and wish that these doubts would just go away.


    You could accept doubt as a reasonable response to your beliefs. You can acknowledge these doubts, and question yourself abut these doubts. You might not like some of the answers, but at least you would know that they are the right answers; you would know because you know, deep down, if you are being honest with yourself or not.

    I'm not trying to "deconvert you", but I am going off of the original post where you said you want to understand the atheist view point. These are not so much arguments as they are simply reasons why I (and many others) do not believe in any God, whether they were former believers themselves or they've been atheists all along.

    Again with Jesus, I think you would have to go a long way to show that any resurrection happened; after all, it is not even certain that Jesus was a real person, much less the son of God. I have looked for evidence for Jesus, and have found none so far. The Bible or the Gospels are not evidence for Jesus; nobody wrote about Jesus outside of the Bible until many years after Jesus's supposed death. Even in the Gospels, they were probably referring to a more "spiritual resurrection" rather than a literal rising from the dead and ascending into the skies kind of resurrection.
    The Bible and the Gospels are not evidence for anything. That would be like saying that the novel "Twilight" is evidence for shape shifters and vampires living in Forks. Or that Superman actually has countless eye witnesses because people saw him themselves in the films. I'm sure that you would agree that there is no evidence for Superman or the characters in Twilight; The Bible is no different.

    The difference between believers and non-believers I think is that the second that there is something that has not been explained, or maybe CANNOT be explained, the believers will say that it is God. "We don't know, so God did it!" This just boils down to the God of the gaps argument. That's all it really is. I am perfectly satisfied in saying, "I don't know the answer." That is what drives science; finding answers, getting new questions because of those answers, and trying to find MORE answers to the newer questions. Invoking a supernatural God, even if this were true, would not solve anything at all. While maybe not as extreme as my cousin, your reasoning is just like hers in the sense that if you don't know what the answer is to something, or what was responsible for something that happened, you will assume that God did it, and say that the supernatural is a perfectly reasonable explanation.

    I have never seen something happen that was supernatural. Everything that I have witnessed, everything that I know, is natural and has a natural cause. There are some things that may be UNEXPLAINED, but something that is unexplained does not translate into God or supernatural. The supernatural cannot be considered as a reasonable explanation because it is not REASONABLE in the first place.

  3. Peter, where's your response? I thought you were "throwing down the gauntlet"?! :p

  4. Hold your horses. Both have better things to do than just comment on blogs!

    I think your arguments about the gospels being intended spiritually are unfounded, and an honest read will obviously indicate otherwise. They discuss the missing body, Jesus eats fish to prove he's not ghost, Thomas puts his fingers in the wounds, etc.

    It is also clear that the authors do not intend their books to be taken as fiction. John says "I know it's true, cause I was there" and Luje explains his attempts to make an orderly account. If we are not going to believe written work as evidence about someone, I dare say evidence for Plato or Alexander the Great or any number of historical people can be disputed!

    There is a funny assumption on the part of detractors that Christians want to be Christian, find it a nice idea. Frankly, I'd prefer not to be. I hate the idea of hell, and would do away with it if I could. I am greatly inconvenienced by some ethical considerations. I actually think it would be easier to drop the whole thing.
    People seem to disrespect you if you have doubts. I have a hard time respecting people who don't! I think the evidence, like the miracles listed, (shroud, stigmata, etc) is so compelling that if an athiest does not doubt upon reading about these, then I suspect that he is the one ignoring evidence to confirm his ideas!
    That's the point of this exercise. In my own research, I have not found compelling counter arguments to the miracles. Surely there is an educated skeptic out there somewhere! But when I visit pages like, or listen to the thinking athiest, I hear misrepresentations, and not arguments that represent the facts.
    My hope was that someone would reply to my challenge and put a serious dent in my convictions. My guess is that most skeptics think the shroud or lanciano are so ridiculous as to be laughable and not worth the time. But as I said, to me, these things educate all my other opinions!

  5. Just a small little comment and I don't want to get to get to involved in this argument. But Lucas your bringing up all these points of how people believe in evidence that you don't, and that is exactly what faith is. To believe something without being able to reach out and touch that. Here is an example... Antarctica, I doubt you have ever been there so how do you know its there? FAITH! And you haven;t necessarily given any reason why God doesn't exist, your just CHOOSING not to believe. We can see some, if not always reliable, evidence that God is real but not believing has an absence of evidence.

    What I see here is that it is more difficult to believe in God because you don't see the evidence and you may find it harder to trust in faith. You are a wrestler with these topics, like many are, and have chosen to not side with God until there is a time where you could reach out and touch it. I would just like you to give some evidence to back up the assumption that God is not real.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I've seen Antarctica on maps and globes. It's visible from space. We know of many different animals from there. My boss moved there after he retired. I can fly there for myself right now if I wish, and even send you some pictures just in case YOU don't believe Antarctica exists. And lastly, I'm not being threatened with eternal torture for not believing Antarctica exists. That is rational belief based on evidence. That is very different from the faith based claims of believers who have no evidence for their belief.

      They not only claim to know God exists (if he's a supernatural being, then no, they couldn't know this) but they also claim to know what he wants, what he's thinking, and why he does things and demands things. THAT is dishonest, and it is so obvious that God is nothing more than a tool created by men to control men.

      Lastly, I have plenty of evidence that the Gods of Abraham do not exist. The God of the Bible for example: this God is said to be all loving, all knowing, and all powerful. If this were true, then Satan would not exist. Yet, people play the Satan card whenever asked about evil. An all loving, knowing, and all powerful God could AND WOULD destroy Satan. God does not exist. God is supposed to be all powerful but cannot defeat Iron chariots. God does not exist. God is all loving but creates Hell, a place of eternal torture for finite crimes. God does not exist. I could go on.

      The problem for you is that I do not need to prove God does not exist. I am not claiming that he does not exist. My claim is that there is no evidence to believe he exists, therefor, there is no reason to believe that he exists. The burden of proof is on you, the one making the positive claim that he does exist. I'll put it this way: if someone came up to you and told you that they had been abducted by aliens, would it be their job to prove that it happened, or would it be your job to prove that it didn't?

    3. Your saying some good points, but God doesn't destroy the devil because with true love comes freedom. There is a reason for everything and he isn't going to 'brainwash' us into following him. An example is you, you have the choice to choose him or not, because imagine if he never gave you that choice, not one person would be a true follower of God! And why don't you read peters entry on this?

      And what we are saying is that you can see pictures of all the miracles which is like the same thing, so what your saying is that you are choosing to believe in Antarctica but you don't choose to believe in God. And what this argument is revolving around is that you refuse to see our point of view and you are showing that you don't see what we see, while on the other hand we are listening to you and understand what you are hearing but we also choose to believe this.

      And what you are doing is not choosing to believe in the evidence, I agree that the car 'miracle' is not real, but look at the lady of Guadeloupe... But the whole thing is you haven't said a single thing to back any of this, you are being very close-minded and you have cut God off. You are creating a paradox, first you say we don't choose God and now you are bringing this up. If you want to have a valid debate won't you please see both sides.

      And with all these miracles, if you don't believe that it is Gods doing, than please recreate it, and I am not talking about the car incident I am talking about the legitimate miracles that the church has defined as real. Like the Shroud of Turin. On my behalf get one of your fellow atheists to recreate it, and if YOU can't how could they have done it so long ago? I believe it was God!

  6. But you have never been to Antarctica, you are basing you arguments off of a minimal base, you are just believing what people tell you so why cant you believe in what people tell you about God?

  7. If an all knowing, all loving, and all powerful god did exist, he would know EXACTLY what it would take in order for me to believe him. Instead of giving me evidence, he is going to send me to hell instead. Infinite torture for a finite crime. That is not an all loving and caring God. And again, according to believers, Satan exists. God would know from the get-go what Satan would do. Yet, there is all kinds of pain and suffering in the world. And instead of realizing that this all loving, all knowing, and all powerful god does not exist, they instead blame the misfortunes of the world on ANOTHER imaginary character who has no evidence for his existence either!
    Now I'm not saying that because there is pain and suffering in the world means there is no god. What I am saying is that if a god exists, he certainly isn't all loving and powerful and knowing. Maybe there is a God, and he's just a giant ass?

    Now back to Antarctica: The thing is that Antarctica is is a real place on the earth. It exists in reality, the only thing that is relevant. If you're saying that it is possible for Antarctica to not exist because I have never seen it, ok, fine. Under that mindset, it is also just as equally plausible to say that God created us just 5 minutes ago and put all of our memories in our brain, and the life we've lived is just an illusion. I see your point of view. I get it. There is just no evidence for it. Therefor, there is no need to accept it. If you are going to tell me that I should not accept the fact that Antarctica exists because I have never been there, then you also should not believe in god because you have never seen him.

    Lady of Guadalupe. Can you explain to me why that is a miracle please? Or the shroud of Turin? Why are these miracles? What is supernatural about them? How come we never see any miracles today? If God wanted to perform a miracle, why doesn't he do something useful, like feed the hungry? Or grow back an amputees limb? The closest thing I can think of as miracles is modern medicine and the fact that we've gone to the moon. Obviously, these aren't miracles; this is science. Science has made amazing technological achievements and advances, science has cured diseases and illness, science has flown us to the moon, and even landed a rover on Mars. MARS. Yet, religion is so focused on things like Jesus being seen on a slice of toast or some guy hallucinating and claiming to see the Virgin Mary to notice the TRUE 'miracles' going on in todays world.

    I can't believe in God. Sorry. There simply is no evidence for any personal God. I knew that religion and God were a load of bull the second that I found out that you get into Heaven not by being a good or moral person and not on the achievements you made in your lifetime, but for believing it without evidence. That's when I realized it's all fake.

  8. I really don't appreciate your comment about God being an ass. Obviously he is much more intelligent than you or I and I doubt we can understand his brain except for what he has done, Jesus can do all of that but he doesn't just do them when you need it. He knows what you need and he gives it in a way that is not translatable now but you grow from it.

    Lady Guadeloupe is a miracle that occurred a little while back, you can research the whole thing but in short an image of Mary showed up on a saints cloak in the presence of another. The shroud was an artifact which was a cloak with an image of Jesus shown on it but it wasn't normal since supposedly it was created from an extreme amount of light.

    But for you to understand this fully and to be fair in this argument by not being ignorant, I would like you to research all of this so you understand our perspective, and you seem to not believe in God because you don't fully understand all of these things and therefore making it extremely difficult to fairly debate this topic!