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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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ATHEIST COMMANDMENT 1

“Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.”
caveman-thinking-16476-large

First, the problem here is that atheists are not “open-minded.” They begin with the absolute premise, which many of us would judge as false, that there is no God. This means that they violate the very first so-called new commandment they propose. Second, they tend to reduce truth and knowledge to empirical proofs. They find satisfaction with numbers and that, which can be seen and measured, but are utterly distressed by philosophical arguments, the prospect of divine revelation and by subjective witness. They look at the ordered universe and refuse to acknowledge that there is any agent behind the order.

When it comes to changing beliefs, they do not mean what they say. They have deified science which is a kind of self-preoccupation. This they refuse to change. A worldview might shift, but not the underlying secular faith. It presumes that man has the capacity to fully understand the universe. There is no proof to show that this assumption is true. Indeed, while the various string theories are understood, albeit in a contradictory manner between theories, only a very small portion of the human race has the intellectual genius to appreciate the math. Who is to say that there are not mysteries too complex for men and the wiring in their heads? We already use machines to store information and to calculate where human brains fall short. When the atheists talk about the willingness to abandon faith, they are speaking in a dictatorial manner to people with religious beliefs. They insist there is no evidence for God and the various religious creeds. Consequently, they judge people who refuse to abandon such faith as backward (stupid) and stubborn.

Catholicism has a greater appreciative for the whole human experience. We would not reduce knowledge or truth to what computers might tabulate. That is why the Church embraces the arts as also a medium to communicate the Gospel. Catholicism teaches that there must be a complementarity of truth. If something does not correlate between the disciplines then something is wrong and must be adjusted. We find truth in philosophy, in theology and in science. Philosophy allows for a rational reflection upon truth and the nature of things. Theology permits a reflection upon the elements of faith in divine revelation. Science offers insight in understanding the makeup of the world where we find ourselves. They ask different questions but there is an overlap. That is why Catholics speak of intelligent design but do not insist upon a fundamentalist or literalist interpretation of Genesis and creation. That is why we speak of the Bible as a book to help us go to heaven, not as a book that tells us how the heavens go. Philosophy would have us ask questions like: What is the nature of man? Is there a God? Theology or Religion would ask: Who is this God that has revealed himself to us? Does God care about us? Science would ask: How do the organs of the body work together? What is this world or creation where we find ourselves? How do things work? There are some questions that certain disciplines can and cannot answer.

2 Responses

  1. Militant atheists are among the most annoying people on earth and I despise them. They represent other atheists/agnostics very poorly, and this is very upsetting because you end up with blog posts like this, which treat ALL atheists & agnostics as if we are waging a war with religion, which is certainly not the case, and only a fool would think all of us are.

    I consider myself an agnostic. I currently believe that the universe can be fully known, that every bit of matter is influenced by every other bit of matter in one way or another, and if you were to change even the smallest aspect of the universe, be it adding a proton or removing a photon, a butterfly effect would occur, changing every other bit of matter in existence. I also think it is very possible that there is a God. There may be a heaven, hell, purgatory, limbo, or some other afterlife, and I may have a chance to reunite with deceased members of my family.

    If God is out there and wants me to know he’s there, I truly hope that He gets through to me. I would be overjoyed if He does, and I would readily adopt the appropriate faith. But so far, I have not been contacted or reached out to, as far as I know at least. It would be very kind of you if you could pray for me in finding the appropriate faith if there indeed is one. And I truly hope that in future blog posts, you refrain from grouping people with similar beliefs and mindset as my own with people who are actively attacking the Catholic Church and religion in general. They are terrible people and simply do not represent us.

    FATHER JOE: The post is intended to be one of a series. I have spoken about the topic of atheism before and I suppose I presumed wrongly that the distinctions to which you refer would be understood. Seeing that is not the case, let me spell out that the post targets a certain kind of atheist who loves to impugn faith matters and mock people of faith. Just as not all Protestants are anti-Catholic, not all atheists are enemies of religion or believers. Catholicism regards faith as a gift. It would be wrong to harass people of good will who do not have that gift. As a Catholic and a priest, I cannot honestly say that I am completely open-minded or receptive to arguments against theism. However, I do feel that dialogue is possible and that a level of human respect should be preserved. The commandment cited is one of a series that was published near Christmas and judged by Adam Savage of Mythbusters. Many prayers!

  2. Nine. Nine straw men, including, interestingly, one about Catholics. If you are going to attack atheism, I would begin by accurately representing it. Otherwise you just look silly.

    FATHER JOE: Not sure what mean. Peace!

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