As young Catholics living in today’s world, if we don’t know our faith, we are in serious trouble. Many people who enter college as Catholics do not leave as such. And, to put it bluntly, we as a generation are leaving the Church for some rather dumb reasons. As sort of a rebuttal, here are 5 of the most common arguments I have witnessed that often result in a young person’s faith being shaken:
1.) “The Bible Says A Lot of Things…”
What happens when the young Catholic discovers that the same Bible containing Romans 1:27 (a classic go-to verse for defending the scriptural basis for the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts) also contains such passages as 1 Corinthians 11:14 (which apparently condemns men having long hair), or Leviticus 11:12 (which prohibits man from eating things like shellfish)?
It would seem that a phone call to the Pope is in order, because clearly the Church has missed some serious issues in Her teaching and needs to be corrected immediately.
Often overlooked by those who make this argument is the fact that the Catholic Church Herself put the books of the Bible together. Why put together a book that contradicts our own teachings?
By this logic, are we to just completely ignore when the Bible condemns anything on the grounds that it is morally objectionable? (Sure, the Bible says we shouldn’t steal from other people, but it also says we shouldn’t eat shellfish, so you know…)
Are we really so arrogant to think that our generation is the first to notice these apparent contradictions in Scripture? Any person who spends just 20 minutes reading the Bible can tell you that apparent contradictions abound in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture, and this issue is as old as Scripture itself. In Her wisdom, the Catholic Church has provided guidelines for reading and interpreting the Scriptures, and I for one trust the 2,000 year old wisdom of the Church over my 21 years of something hardly resembling wisdom.
- **For the record, it is often put forward by scholars that Leviticus 11 prohibits the Israelites from eating certain animals because these were associated with pagan worship. To protect His people from falling into idolatry, God makes this law.
- And I think that 1 Corinthians 11:14 actually is speaking more to the fact that men are to dress like men and women are to dress like women. Given the fashion of the times, men having hair the length of a woman’s was a disgrace, but this is clearly not meant to be interpreted in a strictly literal sense for all of the following ages.
Lesson Learned: Given the fact that the Church put the Bible together, I think they have a pretty good handle on things. Never be afraid to question, but always let the Church be your guide.
2.) Saint Augustine Was Pro-Choice
Know-it-alls of our day will use the fact that Augustine said that life does not begin until the child in the womb is three months to try and prove that the Church’s understanding of and teaching on abortion has changed over the centuries. Two things to take note of here:
- Augustine was not a pope making an ex cathedra statement. Translation: just because Augustine is a canonized saint does not mean that everything he said is 100% true.
- To say that this implies that Augustine, or the Catholic Church was ever okay with abortion is just flat-out dishonest.
Lesson Learned: Saints are people we know are in Heaven. Though the benefit their lives and writings have provided the Church and the world cannot be overstated, canonization does not mean every word they spoke is law.
3.) Science Can Explain Anything Religion Tries To
This is an easy one that any self-respecting scientist or theologian will tell you point-blank. Science is concerned with the natural realm. Faith deals with the supernatural realm and therefore science cannot answer for it, and can certainly never prove nor disprove the existence of any god.
Lesson Learned: Science and Religion are not enemies; they ought to work together. As Blessed JPII said, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes”
4.) But Galileo!
I will refer you all to chapter 10 of Dinesh D’Souza’s book, What’s So Great About Christianity, entitled, “An Atheist Fable: Reopening the Galileo Case” (which can be read in part on Google Books, here).
Aside from the fact that he insulted the pope by referring to him as a “simpleton” throughout his Dialogue which publicly proclaimed his view that the sun was the center of the universe, there were 3 other greater issues with this action:
- Galileo, as a practicing Catholic who respected the Church, had previously promised the Church he would not publicly teach his views on the sun being the center of the universe until the evidence was clearer. Back then, science and religion had a lot more overlap, and this was not such an extreme request for the Church to ask of Galileo. He went ahead and did it anyway.
- His proof was faulty. We all know now that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, but Galileo’s Dialogue did not prove this definitively, and even made some false statements about the natural order of things.
- Most importantly, rather than sticking to science, Galileo took the opportunity to challenge Church teaching on Scripture, asserting that the Bible was “largely allegorical and required constant interpretation to excavate its true meaning” (p. 108).
While Galileo was found guilty for promoting his heliocentric views, he was never accused of heresy and never tortured or held in a dungeon as is often asserted. He was forced to recant and was placed on house arrest, which he served for five months in the palace of the archbishop of Siena, and allowed to visit his daughters at the convent of San Matteo. He died of natural causes in 1642.
Lesson Learned: The Church is not anti-science nor anti-progress. She is cautious of hastily leading people to following things that lack adequate proof.
5.) There Are Bad People In the Church
Yes, yes there are. Throughout history, we have even had some pretty horrific popes. I mean seriously—bad, bad people.
Fortunately for us, The Holy Spirit is not to be vanquished by even the most terrible of evils that mankind can perpetrate. This is a story to which we already know the ending. Good wins out in the end. Though the men and women of the Church will never be perfect, and history will be a story of ups and downs until the end of time, the Teaching of the Church is guaranteed perfect. How? Jesus said so, in Matthew 16:18 when He established His Church. “The powers of death shall not prevail against it”.
Lesson Learned: Don’t let it shake your faith when people point out the corruption in the Church. Be horrified at it, of course. Work to prevent it, of course. But do not place your faith in men, place your faith in Jesus, and remember His words in Matthew 16:18.