Deum Verum de Deo Vero

July 6, 2013 — 4 Comments

“On Science, Christianity, and Atheism”

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Atheism is in vogue these days, yet I’ve decided to remain Christian. In this post I’d like to explain why I believe in Jesus Christ despite the recent attacks launched by the so-called “new atheists” against the Church.

1) Science and faith are different yet interconnected ways of knowing. They complement each other, but they are not the same. Some atheists posit that science is increasingly explaining things over which faith used to have a monopoly. I disagree. Science is purifying superstition, not encroaching on faith. It does not encroach on faith because it cannot encroach on faith. They are separate affairs to a certain extent. Science describes the mechanism behind a process, but faith describes the meaning of the process. In other words science answers the questions how and what, but faith answers the question why. I, personally, am more interested in the question why, but my personal interest in that question does not mean that I am opposed to the scientific way of thinking. Actually, I encourage science to tackle the questions how and what. Likewise, I encourage theologians and philosophers to tackle the question whyCatholic Answers has a wonderful video that briefly explains this topic: http://www.catholic.com/video/can-science-prove-or-disprove-the-existence-of-god .

2) Miracles do occur. There are a few “impossible” events associated with the life of Jesus. First, he was born of a virgin. Second, he broke the law of the conservation of matter. Third, he rose from the dead. These are improbable activities to say the least, yet the biblical sources claim that they did occur. Furthermore, the four different accounts in the gospels coincide extraordinarily and were written within one or two lifetimes after the death and resurrection of Christ. The question is the following: why were Jesus’ disciples so willing to spread his message and die for him if the gospel stories written about him were false? Very few people choose to willingly die for something that they don’t believe in (a lie). Yet the early Christians did die, and the died for what they believed to be true. I trust their decisions and the traditions that they share with us through the Scriptures and through Church tradition. I’d recommend C.S. Lewis’ Miracles for further information.

3) According to some interpretations of the latest research in physics, the universe has a beginning, which begs the question, “How did something arise from nothing?” This question has become unscientific because “nothing” is non-observable or non-empirical, thus impossible to explain by the tools of scientific inquiry. We need philosophy or theology to answer it. Only an infinite and all-powerful being such as God could give rise to such an event. For a more complete analysis of the issue, I suggest a visit to the following site: http://www.catholic.com/blog/trent-horn/does-physics-disprove-the-first-cause-argument .

These three argumentative sketches are the objective sources of my decision to believe in Christ as he is presented by the Catholic Church. Perhaps in another post I’ll discuss the subjective dimensions of my belief.

For more information on the topic of science, religion, and atheism, check out the following link: http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/proofs-for-gods-existence-part-i-6821. You can also read the outstanding book Answering the New Atheism by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker. If you would like the atheist perspective, then check out The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. For a video debate, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeQ6LWyKunY

May God bless you and your family. Let the peace of Jesus into your life today!

Please leave a comment if you have a question or a statement to share.

4 responses to Deum Verum de Deo Vero

  1. 
    Mike Marcinkowski July 7, 2013 at 1:17 am

    Hi David, Great blog! Thanks for sharing your thoughts…I think you have opened up a tremendous forum to promote discussion on important topics. Your post here made me think about why some people would choose to be atheists, and I honestly believe that one of the biggest reasons people do not believe God exists stems from a misconception of the character of God: “I would rather believe that no God exists than believe that there is a God who would allow the kind of pain and suffering that I have experienced or witnessed occurring in our world.” I can understand this train of thought because I must admit that there have been times in my own life when I have wondered how such a loving God can allow such terrible things to happen… Let me make two points on this issue: 1.) Whether or not I believe in God has no bearing on whether He exists. Just because my understanding of God does not fit my limited conception of who I think God “should” be, does not mean that as the created being, I have the option of creating a God of my own choosing or dismissing the one true God. God is God whether or not I believe in Him. God is also God whether or not I am fond of His character. Even if God were a maniacal, evil, dictator, I would still have no choice but to be His created being. 2.) Praise God! He IS a good, good God who loves EVERYONE on this earth beyond measure. Though there are terrible atrocities on this earth that happen on a daily basis, God does not cause ANY of them to happen. He is our Savior, our Way out, our Peace in the Midst of the Storm. John 10:10 says that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come to give life and give it abundantly. Once I realized that it is just this simple: God = good; Devil = bad, a lot was cleared up for me. I would challenge any atheist to cry out in sincerity to the God who may or may not exist (from their perspective) and say, “God, if You are really out there, show me something, let me feel Your love. Let me experience You!” and I have no doubt that the Living God will do what no other “god” has ever been able to do. He will show up because He has been there all along…just waiting for that moment to enter into a relationship with us. Looking forward to reading more of your posts David! God bless.

    • 

      Hey Mike,

      Just wanted to weigh in on your comment specifically because I think you made some interesting points but, as a non-Christian, I think some of them need clarification. Moreover, I wanted to ask you some questions and raise some potential objections.

      “I would rather believe that no God exists than believe that there is a God who would allow the kind of pain and suffering that I have experienced or witnessed occurring in our world.” – This seems to misrepresent the thought process of a non-believer. Atheists or Agnostics do not make such choice like simply choosing what to wear or what to eat or what kind of car to drive. This representation that you’ve provided makes it seem like Atheists and Agnostics are inherently dishonest or unintelligent people who are blinded by emotion and “sin” rather than being sincere human beings who cannot possibly reconcile the amount of evil in the world with the idea that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being who is often characterized as love. The problem with such a view is that it puts an enormous obstacle between yourself and the non-believer. Christians who take this route either don’t understand or don’t want to understand that there are equally sincere, educated, and morally upright people in all the camps. The focus ought to be on the ideas and concepts and evidence, not the character of the person. Once the focus shifts to the earnestness and honesty of the persons involved, the debate is over and it can easily become a mud-slinging contest.

      “Even if God were a maniacal, evil, dictator, I would still have no choice but to be His created being.” – The odd thing about this remark is, that if God were a maniacal, evil dictator, no human being would have any reason to worship him. Classical theism holds that God is only praiseworthy due to His morally perfect and loving nature. As in, devotion to God is conditional upon His perfection, not His mere existence or His being the Creator of everything in existence. This remark stumbles on one of the well known problems of the Divine Command Theory of ethics.

      “Though there are terrible atrocities on this earth that happen on a daily basis, God does not cause ANY of them to happen.” – Depending on what kind of “cause” you’re talking about, I’d ask you to defend this claim. Even if we think of causes as divided into the four classical divisions of Aristotle (http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/4causes.htm), God is still responsible for the existence of evil in three out of those four senses of the concept, arguably all four.

      “and I have no doubt that the Living God will do what no other “god” has ever been able to do.” – What about when those who earnestly seek God have diametrically opposed religious experiences? What about when those who earnestly seek God have religious experiences that endorse conflicting, if not downright contradictory, doctrines and dogma? This is where the problem of religious pluralism comes into play. Why does an experience of God necessarily point to Christianity rather than Judaism or Islam? What if the experience described as “God” is actually just a unique form of cosmic energy or universal consciousness that is found in various New Age belief systems?

  2. 

    Thank you for your comment, Mike. I completely agree with your points. The following verses from Romans 11 come to mind: “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” God “owes” nothing to us, but we owe everything to Him. The good Lord gives us our free will, yet we give our free will back to Him in loving obedience and in faith. I, too, would like for some of my atheist or agnostic friends to cry out to God for help. I am confident that God will respond to them in miraculous ways. Jesus taught us, “Seek and you will find.” If we make a genuine attempt to search for Him, then we will find Him. However, we must remember that we will find Him on His terms. Thanks again, Mike!

  3. 
    Mike Marcinkowski July 9, 2013 at 3:05 am

    I wanted to respond to the person who commented on my post (I’m unsure of the person’s name). Thank you for your post.

    Point #1 — First of all, I appreciated what you said in your first point concerning my conception of why some atheists may not believe that God exists: “I would rather believe that no God exists than believe that there is a God who would allow the kind of pain and suffering that I have experienced or witnessed occurring in our world.” I definitely do not want to attack the character of anyone, and that was not my intent in saying this. I have heard the argument presented first hand by some atheists, and I do not think that this argument makes them any less of a person than anyone else. In fact, I even said, “I can understand this train of thought.” I guess in an ironic way, you have deemed the very folks who have presented this argument to me as “inherently dishonest or unintelligent people who are blinded by emotion and “sin.”” I would argue against this=) I will concede, though, that there are many arguments out there as to why atheists do not believe God exists and I chose to argue one. I admit that I said “the biggest one” because from my limited experience this is the one that seems to rise to the surface the most.

    Point #2 — “Even if God were a maniacal, evil, dictator, I would still have no choice but to be His created being.” – The odd thing about this remark is, that if God were a maniacal, evil dictator, no human being would have any reason to worship him. — As to this point, I was just throwing out a hypothetical. Of course God is good and worthy of praise. My point was that “if He wasn’t,” we still could not deny that He created us or deny that He exists. In other words, His character has no bearing on His existence. Thank God, though, that He is 100% good.

    Point #3 — “Though there are terrible atrocities on this earth that happen on a daily basis, God does not cause ANY of them to happen.” — There are a whole myriad of evils that can be opened up when the gift of free will is given freely, which it was given freely by God. The bottom line is that we live in a Fallen World where there is sickness, death, and a whole host of evils that happen on a daily basis. God does not want us to live in sickness, death, and in the middle of the host of evils. He wants us to take authority over them & to bring heaven to earth NOW. The kingdom of heaven is now…it is not for after we die. If I’m sick with cancer, God did not give me that. If I got hit by a car, God did not cause that. My main point is that God is not mad at us for being sinners and therefore causing bad things to happen to us as a judgment for our sin. God laid all the punishment on His Son Jesus so that we can experience heaven on earth right now! God is love & God is salvation. He did not cause any of the bad things that happen in a Fallen World; He has given us the very way out.

    Point #4 — “and I have no doubt that the Living God will do what no other “god” has ever been able to do.” I don’t know what to say on this one other than — test it out…Jeremiah 29:13-14 is a promise “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” He is faithful to keep this promise.

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