Tag Archives: religion

I Am [not] An Atheist

Bashing atheists isn’t really my thing, and it’s not what this post will be about.

The thing is, I write a blog for young Catholics (and then I guess for anyone else who wants to read it), and I talk a lot about how much I love the Catholic faith and how great Jesus is and all that…and all along this “God” character is sort of just accepted as a given in my world.  Yes, I was raised by parents that believe in God, and no, I’ve never seriously doubted His existence.

See, to me, Romans 1:20 has always summed up all the proof I’ve ever needed for God’s existence:

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.

Translation: Look around!  This place is stunning!  Human beings are amazing!  Look at all the tiny intricacies of even the smallest organism on the planet!  Believing that this all happened by mere coincidence is a heck of a lot harder to swallow than believing in God.  At least that’s the way I look at things.

Big shock: the author of the Catholic blog believes in God.

But that doesn’t mean that I’ve never had questions; nor does it mean that I can’t recognize faulty logic when I see it, which brings me to this:

By now you have hopefully realized that I did not create the above meme.  Truth be told, I actually find the list of reasons given at the beginning of the picture for why this person is NOT an atheist to be far better reasons to say there’s no god than the one they seem to think packs the most punch (but those can be the topic of another day’s post).  Today we discuss “the burden of proof” and the “scientific method” (which, FYI, was developed by people in the Catholic Church).

Let’s start by acknowledging where the meme is right.  It’s impossible to prove the non-existence of something.  Science will never be able to prove that anything, let alone God, does not exist.

Now, I’m not a scientist and I won’t pretend to be.  But I’m 100% certain that science has no business outside of the natural realm.  If a god exists, then by definition, it’s not a natural being; it’s supernatural.  Since science can only tell us about the natural realm, it’s entirely possible for a supernatural being to exist without natural, empirical evidence (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) for it.  Science cannot disprove god; but asking science to prove the existence of god misunderstands both science and the question of a god.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why not only believe in things that science can prove, then?  Things that we can see with our own eyes, things that we can hear or taste or smell or touch.  These are the only real and verifiable things, according to the logic of the above meme.

Sounds simple enough… but nobody actually lives in that world.  There are tons of things we believe in but cannot prove with the scientific method.  The most striking of these is love.  Love isn’t something we can smell or touch, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t believe in it simply because we can’t examine it under a microscope.  We experience love.  We know the pain of when love is lacking.  Try as we might, we can’t deny the existence of, or the need for, love.  Yet science will never be able to prove that love exists, and it would be silly to ask that of science.

If your only reason for not believing in God is because you can’t prove His existence with the scientific method, not only are you missing the point of science, you’re [presumably] missing out on some of the most beautiful aspects of this life.  Come into the real world, where “real” isn’t limited to only those things which we can smell, taste, see, hear, or touch.

 

Rally for Religious Freedom

Have you heard about the rally for religious freedom happening across the country tomorrow, March 23rd, at noon?  Over 100 cities are participating.

Check out this website to find the rally nearest you.  Come out and support religious freedom for all Americans.

“We wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about.  This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds.  This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block.  This is not about the Bishops’ somehow ‘banning contraception,’ when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago.  Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings.  This is not a matter of opposition to universal healthcare, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding.  This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by governments on its own timing.  Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.”

-A Statement of the Administrative Committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; March 14, 2012

For more information on the rally, click here.  Please continue to keep this issue in your prayers.

Why I Love Jesus AND Religion

[Please, if you would, take a moment right now to pray for a special intention of mine today.  Thank you so much!]

This video was making the rounds on my Facebook news feed yesterday.  You may have seen it:

Now I was a fan of this guy’s last video.  And in this video, he does say some things that are right, and I get that his heart is in the right place.  Where I take issue is that he is not merely saying that Jesus is greater than Religion (which, by the way, I agree with).  He is saying that Jesus hates religion.  And while it may be tempting to play the, “yeah, I think religious people are lame, too” card in an attempt to get more people to hear our message, we need to be careful that our message does not fly in the face of the Gospel.  I don’t have time to cover everything misleading in the video here, but I will try to hit the main points.

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?

…Then I’d say you probably haven’t read the New Testament very carefully.  Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 5:17 when He says,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

The Law, of course, being the Law of Moses, i.e. The Old Covenant, i.e. RELIGION.

In the Old Testament, God actually calls religious people whores

Yes, God called some religious people whores in the Old Testament—when they were being unfaithful to the Law (in other words: when they were disobeying the laws of their RELIGION—their religion given to them by God, by the way)

In the New Testament, Jesus refers to the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites an awful lot, but remember the definition of a hypocrite: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.  Jesus actually told the disciples that they should DO what the scribes and Pharisees tell them.

“…practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice” (Matthew 23:3).

“Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19-20)

Doesn’t sound like Jesus hates religion to me.  In fact it sounds like He takes it pretty seriously.

When individuals use religion as a mask or for personal gain?  Yes, Jesus hates that.  But only because religion is not (and never was) meant to be a mask.  It’s meant to be an aid.

If I’m sick, knowing the doctor is definitely going to be important.  I’m going to need a relationship with him in order to let him know what is hurting me so that he can heal me.  But the fact of the matter is, if there’s no hospital, I’m not going to be able to find a doctor.  If I don’t go in for regular check-ups (even when I don’t feel like I’m sick), I’m not going to remain healthy.  If there’s no medicine when I am sick, my relationship with the doctor isn’t going to be enough to make me well again.  There’s a reason the doctor prescribes medicine, just like there is a reason God gave us the rules of religion.

The Rules

As young people, we’re generally not huge fans of rules.  We like to make up our own minds using our own reason and we hate being told what to do—especially if we are told to do something for seemingly no reason at all (like making your bed in the morning when you’re just going to sleep in it again at night).

At first, we may just put up with the nonsensical rules out of fear of getting in trouble.  When this is no longer enough, we’re faced with two options:

1)   We decide that we know better and we figure that the fun we’ll have breaking the rules is worth the consequences or punishments that will most likely befall us.

2)   We talk to the boss (usually mom and dad) and figure out what the deal is with the rules.  And even if we still don’t quite understand them, we figure that our parents have our best interest at heart, and the love and respect we have for them is enough to get us to obey the rules.

If you paid attention closely, you may have noticed that it all really comes down to some form of love.  When we obey rules out of fear of punishment, it’s because we’re smart enough to love ourselves enough to not want to get punished.  On the other hand, when we break rules, we’re declaring that we love pleasures or laziness so much that we don’t even care that we’ll eventually be hurt by the punishment our actions bring with them.

This is why our faith cannot be merely a set of rules.  Faith, in order to be fruitful, has to be based on the love of a person outside of ourselves—the person of Jesus Christ.  We need Jesus to teach us how and why to love.  We need Him to teach us why the rules are there, and if we don’t understand some of them, we need to know that, like a father, He only gives us rules for our own happiness and well-being.  We can’t know this simply by being told.  We have to know it for ourselves; we have to know Him.

Imagine…

“Show me a religion where you always get to do what you want and I’ll show you a pretty shabby, lazy religion. Something not worth living or dying for, or even getting up in the morning for. That might be the kind of world John Lennon wanted, but John Lennon was kind of an idiot.”

Steve Gershom, ladies and gentlemen.

[I’m writing a paper this week so I didn’t really have time for a post today.  I have always loved that line, though :)  You can check out Steve’s blog here.]