Brian: Now we have a conversation going :-)
*Me: Yes we do!! And for that reason, I am giving our discussion its own article place on my blog. I understand that all your comments are coming from an Atheistic view point and you need to understand that all my responses will come from a Catholic Christian point of view. I understand that you often will not agree with me and you need to have the same understanding of me. If we can both do that, we can continue to have a civil and hopefully enlightening discussion. I have BOLDED some of Brian's text that I am specifically responding to.
To that end, I am going to respond to your comments from the original blog post: http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/2012/03/msnbcs-united-in-godlessness-up-wchris.html
Brian: Christians(in general) come from a standpoint that we are born wretched evil sinners and that only through the grace of god and the murder of Jesus are we given the hope to be made whole. I was Catholic and this is how I was taught. It is a fundamental reason that I left the Church and later dropping the belief in a deity has a lot to do with this line of thinking.
As for you last statement, rather question; "What have you got to lose?" I would think that you can do better than to throw out Pascal's Wager. The problem here is that it supposes that there is only the Christian deity and leaves out all other deities ever conceived of. Mathematically speaking, the probability that the Christian god is actually the correct god, let alone that your version of that god is the exact correct one is very slim. What if we both are wrong? Osiris is much worse on non-believers than the Christian god is. In this case I revert back to my favorite statement by Aurelius.
I believed for most of my life. I left for moral reasons. I found that I couldn't be both moral and a good Christian at the same time. The two do not mix."
*Me: I can’t speak for all Christians, but I was under the impression that “we are born evil wretched sinners” was more of a Protestant theology. The Catholic Church teaches that we all have Original Sin that we need to be baptized for, but I don’t know of any Catholic teaching that claims we are “evil”. Could you point me to where that was taught to you? And as to your comment about “the murder of Jesus”…Jesus was not murdered, He became God Incarnate to willingly give up His life for love of mankind. He was not murdered, he was a willing sacrifice (John 10:18). And to your last comment about moral teaching not “mixing” with Christianity, how so? What moral teaching do you find don’t mix with Christianity?
Brian: BTW, as a real Atheist I hold no belief in any deity simply for lack of evidence. That is not to say that I do not rule out the possibility of one actually existing.
I do have to point out the your statement, "and have no idea to whom you give your gratitude to." is flawed from an Atheist standpoint. Why must there be a who to qualify the gratitude?
I don't think that we are that different. In fact, I don't think that 99.9% of humanity is that different, no matter their faith or lack of faith. It is exactly that similarity, in spite of respective beliefs, that lends great credence to my lack of faith. And when I say lack of faith, understand that I do have faith in a great many things. Based on historical evidence, I have faith that the son will rise. Based on my children's actions, I have faith in their professed love for me. It is by that standard that I hold no belief in a god.
*Me: Oh I agree that “Based on historical evidence, [in my case the Bible & the Church] I have faith that the son [Son] will rise again”- I know that isn’t how you were intending to make your point, but I just can’t pass stuff like that up! *grin* I don’t understand your view that people being alike leads to your not having faith in God. To me, that is the reason I believe we ALL come from God.
Brian: I asked god once, many times, for grace, for salvation, for anything. There never was an answer. I would say that even if you do believe, spend a year as a professed Atheist. Heck, spend six months as one. I think it would open your eyes.
*Me: Here is where we part ways Brian because I simply on all counts disagree with you here. As an ex-Catholic you had grace abundantly (that is not to say grace isn’t given to non-Catholic Christians). There is grace given every time you went to mass…every time you went to Confession and most especially every time you had the Eucharist. You may not FEEL it with the warm-fuzzies, but it’s there none the less. And salvation is a process we go through from the moment of our baptism to the moment of our death. I know some protestant groups will disagree- they subscribe to the “once saved always saved” theology which I rejected years ago after a good study on John 15 (the Vine & the Branches). But in the bible, Jesus says we must pick up our crosses (Mark 8:34) and follow Him to the end. Some do, others fall away along their life’s journey. God never promised life would be easy or without suffering, what He did promise was that those who endured to the end would be rewarded with Salvation and eternity in Heaven. That’s His promise to us.
And as for your suggestion that I "try to be an Atheist", I couldn't even if I wanted to because my faith is as real to me as my arms and legs. I could no more cut them off myself than I could cut off my faith from God. That is not to say our faith isn't tested, our life is one long test on assorted fronts. As I've already mentioned, Jesus didn't tell us to "pick up our crosses" if He meant us all to live on Easy Street our whole lives. Our crosses are our struggles and sufferings that we endure here on earth. The reward comes at the end, with blessings and graces poured out along our way IF we do as He asked "follow" Him WHILE we carry those burdens. Life is a struggle and a gift at the same time with the sweetest most wonderful reward to be had at the end of our lives. Jesus carried his cross and we must carry ours. He had help along the way, and we have help along the way too.
My prayer for you Brian, is that one day you will see that and know how very, very much God loves you and does exist. He's got blessings and graces and a final reward waiting for you too, if you'd just pick up your cross (perhaps your cross is that of Saint Thomas-'doubt'. He doubted yet he endured to the end to become a Saint) and follow him, enduring lifes struggles along the way. I am praying for you Brian.
O God, the everlasting Creator of all things, remember that the souls of unbelievers were made by Thee and formed in Thine own image and likeness. Remember that Jesus, Thy Son, endured a most bitter death for their salvation. Permit not, I beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy Son should be any longer despised by unbelievers, but do Thou graciously accept the prayers of holy men and of the Church, the Spouse of Thy most holy Son, and be mindful of Thy mercy. Forget their idolatry and unbelief, and grant that they too may some day know Him whom Thou hast sent, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Salvation, our Life and Resurrection, by whom we have been saved and delivered, to whom be glory for endless ages. Amen.