Answering an Atheist and Asking for Fairness and Accuracy

011113-pope-2Susan Jacoby, an author and atheist wrote a column in last Sunday’s New York Times entitled “The Blessings of Atheism.” In it she proposes that atheism has a lot to offer, especially in times of tragic loss and that it frees human beings from having to ask and answer difficult question. As you may imagine, I am not so sure that asserting a question can be avoided means that it has actually been avoided, or that what she calls blessings are in fact blessings.

I would like to excerpt her article and make a few comments. Her original writing is in bold, black italics. My comments are plain red text. These are excerpts. For the full article CLICK HERE

In a recent conversation with a fellow journalist, I voiced my exasperation at the endless talk about faith in God as the only consolation for those devastated by the unfathomable murders in Newtown, Conn. Some of those grieving parents surely believe, as I do, that this is our one and only life. Atheists cannot find solace in the idea that dead children are now angels in heaven. “That only shows the limits of atheism,” my colleague replied. “It’s all about nonbelief and has nothing to offer when people are suffering.” …..

Just a minor quibbles here, the Christian faith does not teach that “dead children are now angels in heaven.” Human beings never become angels, we always remain quite human.

Secondly, I am not sure that what her friend said should be allowed to represent what all Christians think of atheism. I for one do not hold that atheism “has nothing to offer.” People generally do not cling to philosophies that offer them nothing. Atheists clearly do have reasons for holding to their philosophy and it must offer them something. For some it is their response to the problem of evil or the seeming absurdities of this world. For others it is merely that the existence of God is inconvenient to their moral life, or worldview. For still others, it is a way for detaching from what they see as the problems posed by belief (e.g. our concepts of sin, guilt, judgment, and so on). Yet others have many complaints about the Church. I am not trying to speak here for atheists, or put words in their mouths, but the bottom line is people usually hold to things for a reason.

Ms. Jacoby goes on, in a part of the article not reproduced here, to trace the origins of her atheism to the problem of evil and suffering. She saw a friend die a lingering death from polio back in the 1950s. Being dissatisfied with the answers faith provided, she detached from faith and sees atheism as an alternative to believing in a God who would allow such things to happen.

So it would seem that atheism does have something to offer her. She seems to think that the non-answer of atheism is an answer and that denying the existence of God means she can avoid struggling with the questions related to evil and suffering. As we shall see, I propose that here solution offers neither an answer, nor an escape from the problem of evil.

[But] it is primarily in the face of suffering, whether the tragedy is individual or collective, that I am forcefully reminded of what atheism has to offer. When I try to help a loved one losing his mind to Alzheimer’s, when I see homeless people shivering in the wake of a deadly storm, when the news media bring me almost obscenely close to the raw grief of bereft parents, I do not have to ask, as all people of faith must, why an all-powerful, all-good God allows such things to happen.

I am not sure why Ms. Jacoby considers herself free of having to ask this question. I think the problem of evil and suffering is something that perplexes every human being on the planet, and Ms. Jacoby cannot so easily exempt herself from the questions surrounding it. While she may not direct them to God, she cannot ultimately avoid the universal human struggle to inquire into the meaning of all things, including evil and suffering.

Human beings seek meaning, seek reasons. I am not at all convinced that her demurring from the question of suffering is either possible or authentic. The only truly authentic “refuge” from this question is to insist that life and this world really has no meaning at all, to insist that everything is ultimately meaningless, absurd, and pointless. But I have never met a human being, let alone an atheist, that “brave” to live in a world of utter meaninglessness. And hence even Atheists search for meaning, something to work for, base their lives on, something by which to navigate. They too seek answers.

So unless Ms. Jacoby is insistent that nothing has meaning, then she too must somehow wrestle with the basic questions we all wrestle with. Questions that underlie our alarm at the presence of suffering and evil, even before God is included in the question. For example:

  1. Why does anything exist at all?
  2. What is existence?
  3. Why do we value existence over non-existence?
  4. Why is there Love?
  5. Why do we ponder meaning, assign value, grieve loss and celebrate gain, in ways that other animals do not seem to do?
  6. What is justice?
  7. And how do we come to know it and distinguish it from injustice?
  8. Why are its basic concepts so ubiquitous?
  9. And why do humans ponder justice whereas animals do not?
  10. Why does injustice trouble us?
  11. What is suffering?
  12. Why does some suffering alarm us more than other forms?
  13. Why does death alarm us and life please us?
  14. Why are we alarmed at what happened at Sandy Hook?
  15. Why do we say it was wrong or evil?
  16. Why do we seek ways to prevent it in the future?
  17. Where does human wickedness come from?
  18. Why do we call it wicked?
  19. Why do we do such horrible things to each other (things not even animals do) and why does it bother us?
  20. Why do we even have these questions?
  21. Why do we seek answers for them?
  22. Why do we care at all?

I am not trying to be impertinent or playful. But just dismissing “the God question” does not let Ms. Jacoby off the hook. She like all of us, is stuck with trying to make sense out of all this. And there are a ton of underlying questions and imponderables beneath tragedies like this.

I am sure that Ms. Jacoby would have to say, to many of these questions, “I don’t know for sure. I have some ideas but I cannot answer all this.” And that is a fine and honest answer. And you know, I cannot answer it all either.

But then why do we suddenly have to have a clear answer to the God question? Why does Ms. Jacoby say that all people of faith must ask (and I presume answer?) as to why an all-powerful, all-good God allows such things to happen?

Honestly, I don’t have a simple pat answer. And if Ms. Jacoby is ready to answer all the questions above thoroughly and with air-tight completeness that maybe I’ll answer this one. But until then, I don’t know why believers are required to answer such a mysterious and complex question, while she goes free.

To be sure faith does supply some answers to aspects of the problem (e.g. God allows suffering for some greater good or purpose, God draws good from struggles, one moment in time is not the full picture and God will reward those who have suffered, many who are last shall be first, etc.) But none of these are full answers to the great mystery of suffering, evil and iniquity. In many places God is clear that we cannot comprehend all his ways, and believers are content to recognize in humility that we only see a very small part of the picture.

But Ms. Jacoby’s implicit insistence that we must have an air-tight answer to “the God question” is no more binding on us or reasonable to demand than that she should also have air-tight answers to the thousands of other questions that underlie incidents like Sandy Hook. Neither can she reasonably claim to be wholly free of having to ask these questions and both answer them to some extent and admit that she does not have complete answers either.

It is a positive blessing, not a negation of belief, to be free of what is known as the theodicy problem. Human “free will” is Western monotheism’s answer to the question of why God does not use his power to prevent the slaughter of innocents, and many people throughout history (some murdered as heretics) have not been able to let God off the hook in that fashion.

Her assessment is not fair or correct. Theodicy is not “Western monotheism’s answer” to the problem of suffering or evil. The Church does not have a simple answer to the very deep mystery of suffering. Theodicy is surely one of the factors in a framing of the discussion, but the truth of human freedom is held in tension and balance with God’s sovereignty. This is what orthodoxy does, it often holds competing truths in balance and tension. Human freedom is part of the picture, but it is not alone the answer, and we do not propose it as such.

Hence, her statement as written is incorrect.

Her parenthetical remark about the murdering of heretics is gratuitous, and displays the negative animus she brings toward believers and the Church. In this she tips her hand. I will agree that if she will not mention those murdered as heretics, I will not mention 100+ million who were murdered in the last century under the aegis of Atheistic Communism and other secular philosophies.

The atheist is free to concentrate on the fate of this world — whether that means visiting a friend in a hospital or advocating for tougher gun control laws — without trying to square things with an unseen overlord in the next. Atheists do not want to deny religious believers the comfort of their faith. We do want our fellow citizens to respect our deeply held conviction that the absence of an afterlife lends a greater, not a lesser, moral importance to our actions on earth.

Her remarks here fail in terms of relevance. Believers are no less interested in the matters she describes than atheists. The Christian faith has had a remarkable role in inspiring countless people to undertake works of charity. The Church has founded and runs a huge number of hospitals, orphanages, shelters, soup kitchens and many other such outreach. Her implicit suggestion that atheists place a higher moral importance on our actions on earth is not only insulting, it is wrong and misinformed. I’d like to see some statistics to back up her claim. Meantime, I’ll continue put the outreach of Christians and other believers up against any group and I’ll bet we have nothing to be ashamed of.

We must speak up as atheists in order to take responsibility for whatever it is humans are responsible for — including violence in our streets and schools. We need to demonstrate that atheism is rooted in empathy as well as intellect. And although atheism is not a religion, we need community-based outreach programs so that our activists will be as recognizable to their neighbors as the clergy.

Fair enough. But I wonder how atheists would do this as a group since there is no real way they consistently come together in large numbers that I know of. Perhaps that will change. But as it is now, atheists do not seem to be a group that come together or act together in any large.

Robert Green Ingersoll, [an agnostic], frequently delivered secular eulogies at funerals and offered consolation that he clearly considered an important part of his mission. In 1882, at the graveside of a friend’s child, he declared: “They who stand with breaking hearts around this little grave, need have no fear. The larger and the nobler faith in all that is, and is to be, tells us that death, even at its worst, is only perfect rest … The dead do not suffer.”

Yeah, well, it’s a kind of the “death as therapy” thinking. Frankly death is a very strange therapy. But I find it is common today among many to esteem death as therapy. For example, some applaud abortion because otherwise the child might be born in poverty, or have a birth defect or something.

But death is a very strange therapy. To folk who talk like this, I wonder how they would feel if someone from the government came to them and said, “It must be tough earning less than $27,000 a year, so I’m going to kill you.” Or if someone lost an arm in an accident, and the doctor said, “Gee, it must be awful having a defective body. Here let me kill you.” At any rate the “death as therapy” movement is pretty active in this country via abortion and euthanasia.

I suppose I can relate to the fact that it’s good when suffering ends. But I’d kinda like to be alive to experience the relief, if you know what I mean. And even if I could say of my father, when he died, “I am glad his suffering is over,” I’d kind of like for him to be alive somewhere to experience that relief. I’m not really sure what good a benefit of any sort is when you’re not alive to experience it.

Too bad that this is the best consolation that Ms. Jacoby could cite. There’s just something about life and existence that seems essential for consolation to really matter. Non-existence just doesn’t “get me right here.” I’m looking for something with a little more heart.

In the end, a simple request of Ms. Jacoby. How about a little accuracy and fairness? Consistently in her article she has misrepresented what we teach. And while she thinks that “the God question” should have an airtight answer for a believer (it does not for it contains mystery) she would not likely insist on such an answer to any number of other questions apart form the God question. So in fairness, please answer, (with an airtight answer), “Why does anything exist?” And for a bonus question, “Why is there love?” Perhaps there is not a simple answer to such questions. And perhaps there isn’t a simple answer to the problem of suffering and evil. And perhaps that’s OK. Maybe we’d like complete answers, but maybe we can live without them too.

24 Replies to “Answering an Atheist and Asking for Fairness and Accuracy”

  1. Good fisk Msgr. She pretty much made up a position and stuck theist’s name on it. Usually, it’s pretty easy to refute the “opposition’s position” when one does that, but she doesn’t even pull that off.

  2. You may disagree with Ms. Jacobys’ worldview , or her philosophy . That does NOT however , in any way offer any validation to theism . The hard (impossible) work of proving your assertion that a god exists , is made no less difficult by your disagreement with Ms. Jacoby’s views . Not agreeing with a fact does not in any way negate its’ truth . Facts are persistent , stubborn things .You can spout on about theistic superstitions offering comfort to the gullible , and making your time on earth worthwile . In the end however , you are left with nothing more than baseless claims , unsupported by a shred of evidence . Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence .

    1. Yes, but straw man arguments ought to be called what they are. You seem very defensive Ray R. What’s that all about? If facts are stubborn and persistent things then creation, the existing world, whatever you want to term it is a “stubborn fact” How do you account for it? What you call “theistic superstition” (by the way ridicule is a poor substitute for an argument too) is one attempt to deal with the “stubborn facts” that we are surrounded and part of an existing world, that manifests design and intelligibility. I do not think one has to be “gullible” (again ridicule suggests to me that you are troubled and must lash out) to conclude to the possibility that design implies a designer, that creation at least points to the possibility of a creator, that existence rests on something. I am not thus left with “baseless claims.” You say all this came from nothing that there is no design or designer. Or perhaps you say that the universe itself is eternal? (Whatever your theory or stance is apart from God). How about a little evidence from you for these claims? I’m dealing with data and reasonably drawing conclusions. How about you? You make the positive, metaphysical claim that there is no designer/creator/intelligence and that the universe explains itself. How about some evidence?

      1. Ray R.
        You believe the way you believe and leave others alone! I believe in the testimonies and witnesses of the Holy saints and the prophets for they were willing to die for what they believe in. I believe in miracles and I believe in Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. I believe in a Designer for the mathematical complexities of the cosmos reveals a logical organized universe. I don’t believe in “random chance” nor “random mutation.” For those “THEORIES” are not logical. I don’t be that there are watches without a watch maker. Ray R., you believe what ever you want but don’t be ridiculing the people of faith for they are more logical than you are!

    2. “You can spout on about theistic superstitions offering comfort to the gullible , and making your time on earth worthwile . In the end however , you are left with nothing more than baseless claims , unsupported by a shred of evidence . Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence .”

      1- By evidence you probably speak about empirical evidence. Mathematics debuks your argument. Mathematics shows truths that are not (and often cannot) be derived from empirical evidence.

      2- Atheists cling often to scientism and logical positivism, and reductive materialsm as well.
      These philosophies, which are the base of their atheism, rather than the consequence, have no ’empirical evidence’ either.
      Actually they are very incoherent and even several atheist thinkers (Nagel, Tallis, to name a few) are actually rejecting such philosophies (which is for them also problematic)

      3- There is “evidence” for theism.
      Not empirical evidence, but as shown in 1 not all evidence can be empirical (indeed in mathematics evidence is not empirical but it’s rigorous logic, since mathematics, except in special cases, deals with abstract entities, not immanent and material ones).

      So the atheist claim that ‘there is no evidence’ is not only a lie, but also attacks several premises of atheism as well (not to mention science… which is based on a key assumptions which are not empirically testable).

      4- Since there is no evidence for atheism and the cornerstone philosophies for atheism are themselves flawed and incoherent, then by your own logic atheism “can be dismissed without evidence”.

      Sure you might try to shift the ‘burden of proof’ on Theism… but burden of proof rests on both theism and atheism, since both make statements about the world and how the world is.

      So you see your own claims are basically self-defeating.

  3. Right you are, Msgr.

    My only thought is that there seems to be an evolution out of our national premise of Protestant principles towards an unstructured, godless depravity. It was Luther’s conviction (enhanced by Calvin) that human beings are completely corrupted and, as a result, are incapable of pleasing God. Said differently, it is the idea that man can never be purified. Well, under this view, it is not a stretch to see man as, to illustrate a point, kind of a demon. The Protestants use this concept for justification “by faith alone’. Clearly, based on this, there is no need for the structure of doctrine, philosophy or reason. It becomes a choice between giving honor and glory to God or mutating belief into a multidimensional array of beliefs, including atheism. Atheism is a natural mutation of Protestantism away from the concept of God. It is “we who are”. it is “unstructured” chaos. . . often an objective of Evil.

    The nice part in being Catholic is that we know that human reason is essentially “good’, although flawed and limited. It is the primary reason for the need of Church guidance on matters of faith an morals. We know, as believers, that it is through our exercise faith and good works that we can achieve eternal salvation. Our rewards are not of this world but in the next. It is “order” in the love and direction of the Holy Spirit that we give honor and glory to God. No depravity here.

  4. I was an agnostic/atheist for 37 years before I converted. I found no comfort in it rather its the absence of an explanation or comfort: the belief that things just are as they seem and nothing more. It makes lots of things seem pointless and it’s easy to end up at the “eat and drink for tomorrow we die” philosophy. I found it hard to inspired by much for very long and tempted toward cynicism. I certainly wasn’t happy but but my unbelief was sincere, it’s not that readily changed. Faith is a gift.

  5. Well done, Monsignor! I would like to thank you for providing the syllabus for my course in Philosophy next semester: I’ll use (not necessarily answer) your twenty two questions as guidelines for class discussions. “Even with a “shaken” faith, we, Mary and her family, understand that “Our experiences of evil and suffering” have been redefined by her revolution. The Virgin Mary’s revolution restored our original condition of sons of her Divine Lover;” from my forthcoming book, “The Virgin Mary’s Revolution.” Gonzalo T. Palacios, Philosophy Dept. Prince George’s Community College

  6. Excellent post Msgr. Pope.
    I will say that the answer is not simple-pat at all. However, each question- for they are each a part of the problem of evil- is addressed in some fashion by some part of the Christian mystery. The fullness will only be attained at the beatific vision, but it’s there.

  7. Monsignor,
    In a way, I admire atheists because they have struggled with these important questions, even if they won’t always admit it. Jesus did say that He would prefer that we be hot or cold, but the lukewarm He will spit out of His mouth.

    Once, when I was experiencing a crisis of faith (like, “Did I make this all up?”), I decided to reread “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Boy, that did it! That book always convinces me that Christianity is the most logical explanation for why our world is the way it is, and why people are the way they are.

    1. Actually, “admire” is not quite right. I guess I should say that I feel for them.

  8. I was “taken aback” by the very notion of atheistic blessings, since I have always envisioned it as the path to despair and senselessness. The catalyst for her article was the murder of the Newtown children and teachers. She tells us that she is sick of all the God-talk and that some must believe, as she does, that this is the only life we will ever know. An associate of hers contended that this is precisely the limitation of non-belief or rather false-belief. (It may be argued that we all believe in something, even if atheists; it is just that they are blind to their almighty suppositions.) I would concur with the criticism, because nothing then remains of hope. What would she have us say to the grieving parents? “Sorry, your children had their lives violently stolen from them and now they are only worm food.” No, a thousand times no, if such were the case there would be no real justice. An afterlife and the existence of God are two intimately connected corollaries. Such belief, which is more rational than not, preserves both the realization of mercy and of justice. Sometimes the wicked flourish and the good suffer. There must be some opportunity to balance the scales. Christians thus look to God as the Divine Judge and the Divine Mercy. Somehow, some way, God will make it right. Otherwise, if everything we know is simply a mad cosmic accident, then it might be better had we never existed or became aware. But God does exist and he is not a monster.

    Msgr. Pope is somewhat more sympathetic to atheism than I am, although he would concur that such a view fails to suffice and that Christianity offers something richer. I would add that true faith gives us something more satisfying and real. Atheists might laugh at this because they image theists as battling science and truth. They rank religious faith with fairytales and the made-up world of comic strips. They make no distinction between Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin and Jesus Christ. Although, having said this, they would allow depictions and songs for all of these in public places and schools, except for Jesus. Because people take this last “myth” seriously, they would contend that it should be restricted or even wiped out. Although it can function for social benefit, religion and its charity always come with strings attached: about human dignity, the sanctity of life, sexual morality, and so much more. Atheists repudiate standards based upon biblical commandments and many are increasingly resistant to claims from natural law, which they view as a back door ploy to sneak religious values back into the picture.

    Do atheists have any lessons to teach us? Yes, although maybe not as they intend. Catholicism argues for intelligent design. We would agree with atheists against certain religious fundamentalists that there can be no blind trumping of science by faith. Catholics would speak of faith seeking understanding and the complementarity of truth: theological, philosophical and scientific. Atheists can also help us to avoid a Pollyanna faith where we too easily extricate ourselves from the problem of pain and death with a “pie-in-the-sky” solution. I remember a woman who had lost her baby. A well-meaning friend tried to console her at the wake by saying, “We just have to accept it. It was God’s will.” Yes, it is true that the mysterious providence of God allows moral and natural evil. But just because he may somehow make the crooked lines straight in the end will not take away this woman’s immediate pain. Often a sympathetic presence is more needed than jargon that makes matters worse. The mother in this episode exploded in a tirade of anger and tears against God. On a similar occasion, a mourner told the child of the diseased mother during the viewing, “Doesn’t she look good? She looks more like she is sleeping than dead.” The person really did not know what to say and so she said something stupid. We live in a world more enraptured by appearances than by the truth. But death illumines such a preoccupation as the ultimate absurdity. What does it mean to look good when you are DEAD? Atheists can motivate us to be “real” in our attitude toward questions of meaning and life. Many people SAY they believe but for all PRACTICAL purposes, they live as if there is no God and judgment.

    While some atheists might adopt Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness, others would contend that if this is our only life then we should make it count for something. We should leave this world better than how we found it. It is on this level that Popes going back to John XXXIII have argued we should find common ground with “people of good will.” Nevertheless, this good will is often absent. Jacoby attacks religion, but where are the meeting houses where atheists meet weekly to promote humanism and works of charity? No, instead when they congregate it is to mock religion with obscenities, throw out slurs, and deify a science that cannot ultimately save us.

    There are serious pitfalls to atheism: notably that they deny God, any direction he might offer and the graces that can sustain and strengthen us. Separated from the true faith, compassion itself can become a type of tyranny. Abortion is the solution to an unwanted pregnancy. Euthanasia is the option for those in great pain or for whom life no longer satisfies. Human life and meaning itself is reduced to pragmatic utility. Relationships become transitory and morality is what we determine or legislate upon. Atheism can also become just as intolerant as the religions about which it laments.

    I wonder sometimes if religious people have had a hand in the emergence of atheism. In light of the world’s absurdities, have we cast real light or just fed people pablum instead of real food? Has our own hypocrisy as Christians distorted the kerygma of faith, making it unappealing for inquirers? Have we so stressed the stigma of guilt for sin that instead of seeking mercy and healing, critics would brush aside the moral categories all together? If there is no God then there is no moral law and no sin. If there is no sin, then there is no need for remorse, contrition or change.

    Jacoby traced her own atheism to a friend’s drawn-out death from polio in the 1950’s. Msgr. Pope is on the mark that she did not answer but eradicated a question that did not make sense to her (why would God allow this?) But, no matter if one believes or not, it is foolishness to brush aside the existential questions.

    Nothing comes from nothing, but the fact that I am asking questions is proof that there is something. What is existence and why are we here? Did someone make us? If so, where is he now? Why is there suffering and death? What is the purpose of things? Where are we going? What is evil and what is its source? Is there justice and what is it? Can we be happy and for how long? I want food and drink and I can satisfy both desires. But I also want to live and to know reunion with those who have died; why would I have this desire if its object could not be obtained? I want to know; why would I have this desire if the source of all meaning would always be denied me?

    I think Jacoby fails to appreciate that the Christian solution to the problem of pain and death is not a pact answer. It is not resolved in any simple mathematical or doctrinal or philosophical formula. We find the answer in the weaving of our lives into the great story of Christ. We have in Jesus a God who is in solidarity with the mess where we find ourselves. He knows loss, betrayal, pain and death. The innocent Lamb of God suffers death so that we might have a share in his risen life. He does not take away our troubles, nor does he simply make a promise for a better tomorrow. He is with us, right now, saying, “Father, if it is your will, let this cup pass from me. But not my will, but thy will be done.” He is the one betrayed with a kiss, denied by his chief apostle, condemned by his people, scourged as a criminal and crucified on the dead tree of the Cross. He does not take away all our troubles, but he shares them and gives us hope. We are not alone. We are not abandoned. He is with us facing the gunman’s bullets. He is with us in the iron lung dying from polio. He is with us in the AIDs hospice. He is with us homeless on the street. He is with us facing cancer. Because of the incarnation, Christianity gives a unique religious answer to the problem of suffering and death. United to Christ, these dark mysteries are overcome by enduring them with courage and faith. We do not seek suffering and pain for their “own” sake. Such would be a moral sickness; but such is the human condition, something Christ has made his own so that we might know his divinity and life.

    The rest that comes with death is freedom from mortal strife; it is not oblivion. We will be more than just fading memories in the heads of people who will also die. I wonder if atheists ever tell their loved ones, “I will love you, forever!” If so, do they mean to be liars? If the grave is the end of the story then love dies there, too. The Christian faith contends that just as love is eternal, so is life.

  9. The atheists’ answer to a dislike of the color red is to claim that the color red does not exist. Well, everyone knows that the color red exists. I rest my case.

  10. Those atheists/agnostics who accept the Big Bang theory of creation – an extremely large mass at a very high temperature (fifty million degrees+?) suddenly coming into existence about fourteen billion years ago at a point singularity! – need to explain how this mass + energy “happened” to come into existence.
    It seems (at least to me) far more reasonable to assign that creation to an intelligent being, a First Cause, to whom Theists assign the name God.
    Anyway, Genesis says “And God said, ‘Let there be light!” and there was light.”

  11. What I wonder is why God chooses to reveal Himself to some leaving no doubt of His existence and life everlasting while others are left to struggle with some doubt of His supreme design. Many are called and a few are chosen while many fail to respond. Life can still be a mystery in the presence of proof.

  12. I would like to know if Ms. Jacoby includes the tens of millions of babies that have been aborted in this country in her accounting of “slaughter of innocents”.

    St. Ignatious of Antioch pray for us.

    The same people who. Claim that it is impossible for someone to rise from the dead claim that life rose from non-life.

  13. The atheist Ivan Karamazov says;

    “I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.”

    Why then does Ivan remain an atheist? Because though he believes, he does not accept. He is not a doubter; he is a rebel. Like his own character the Grand Inquisitor, Ivan is angry at God for not being kinder. That is the deepest source of unbelief: not the intellect but the will.

  14. 1. Avoiding tough questions, difficult answers and challenges to ones own omnipotence…uniquely atheistic.
    2. Atheists follow the ignorance breeds contempt approach. They are famously ignorant of Christianity…claim to be experts…define it their own way, which is awful and then wonder why they have contempt for religion. They need to educate themselves. They remind me of my right wing friends who openly deny facts because it disagrees with preconcieved notions and use name calling and misrepresentations when I make a valid point…hmmm, sounds like an atheist.
    3. Life is tough. We all experience a range of things. Some good, which we rarely question. Others bad. On questions of suffering or challenge in this world atheists prefer to put their head in the sand and ignore reality. There is safety in having no answer.
    4. Think if atheists applied this to everything. Why study tsunamis and the destruction, death they cause. It’s horrible and better to not know. Lets just never leave near the oceans…where 85% of the world lives. Extend this desire for easy answers and ignorance to anything, not just God, and you have a very Luddite mindset.

  15. perfect post mgr.infact your spiritual words draw my soul to God the more. I love your writeup.padre mgr.Charles.

  16. The most succinct answer to athesim came from Archibishop Fulton Sheen, who, near as I can remember, said, “There really are very few atheists. Most of them end up worshipping themselves.”

    It is a conceit of our vanity that we should be able to understand everything; we have a tendency to reject anything that our minds can’t fathom as irrational, unscientific or whatever. It takes an act of humilty to come to terms with our limits, and therefore come to realize that a god we can fully comprehend or put in a test tube is no god at all.

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