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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why I Don't Fret Much About Atheists

If you're already a fan of Bad Catholic, you'll know he delights in making atheists' heads explode.  If you read my last post about his new organization, 1Flesh, you know they're taking on the task of showing the world that Humanae Vitae was right.

The timing couldn't be better.  With the hullabaloo over Obamacare and the HHS mandate, the Fortnight for Freedom vs. the so-called War on Women, people are hungry for answers on what exactly the Church teaches on contraception, why, and what reasonable arguments are there on the subject.  It's no surprise, then, that 1Flesh has gone viral.  Just a few days into the official launch, the site's had so many hits, they're sprawling for a server big enough to handle it.  Their Facebook page, as of this writing, four days into its announcement, has over 2300 likes.  The world is listening.

Needless to say, the world, the flesh, and the devil aren't going to take this lying down.  Haters gonna hate.


In fact, they've already started.

You've probably been expecting this.  In fact, some small part of you has probably been kinda hoping for it.  Come on.  You can admit it.  Some small part of me wanted it, too.  I think it's kind of hard-wired in us, sometimes, to want to ride forth into battle for Truth, Justice, and the Latin Rite.
VOTR Bonus Points if you've seen this movie!
On the whole, though, I'm not really big on arguing with atheists.  With some exceptions, I see no point in it, other than the sheer joy of battle, which is risky to your spiritual health.  As St. Escriva said, it's not wise to waste time throwing stones at the dogs who bark at you along your way.  Oh, the Gentiles are raging again?  Ho-hum.  Been there.  Done that.  It's the same old song and dance (cue Aerosmith).  It amounts to, "Come down, and we will believe!" (cf. Mark 15: 32)


And that's just it, isn't it?  The whole of our faith, its single most important claim, is that Jesus Christ literally, physically rose from the dead one Sunday morning in A.D. 33.  That is the hope in which we are called.  For this hope, we do things that otherwise would seem counter-productive, if not downright masochistic.  We accept and bear our crosses and trials with patience, bless those who curse us, do good to our persecutors, return good for evil, forgive injuries and ask pardon for our own, always putting our own self-interest last.  At least, we're supposed to.  If you don't believe in the hope of a resurrection - what unbelievers call the "pie in the sky" - why wouldn't you baulk at such moral teachings?  St. Paul saw this clearly:
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15: 16-19). 
Either God exists, revealed to us His will through the Scriptures and a teaching Church, and will come to judge the living and the dead unto eternal reward or punishment,
-OR-
Christianity is by far the single greatest crime against humanity ever conceived, and must be destroyed at all costs.  It logically follows.  Debate in these cases, then, comes down to first premises.  You've got to be far more skilled than I to get anywhere in situations like that.

So I cut the honest atheist of good will a lot of slack.  As I've said elsewhere in these pages, faith is a gift.  We can't achieve belief on our own.  And this is why we leave the judging of people up to God.  We can discern the objective matter of a deed, but only God knows the extent of anyone's culpability.  Some of the atheists who hate us because some of us first hated them.  You will usually do more harm than good to a soul by telling him he's going to hell.  Most people today are already in hell.  If you want to evangelize people, start by getting them to admit that, then show them the Way out.

That's for the "honest" atheists, mind you.

There is, of course, another species of atheist.

These are the ones you see and hear about the most.  I suspect they're a great, loud-mouthed minority, like planes that crash, or self-styled pro-lifers who think we can show killing babies is wrong by blowing up buildings and shooting doctors.  A lot of outsiders think most of us are like that.  Let's not make the same mistake about others.

For a small minority, though, these folks sure do get around.  I've not had any here yet, but the blog is young.  (Heck, I don't even get spam yet.)  I don't argue with this type, because they're not interested in debate.  They don't want to improve their understanding, nor do they wish to enlighten others.  They just want to pick a fight.  

It's Envy incarnate:  people who can't stand anybody else being happy, and feel they have a right and/or duty to "bring them down a peg or two."

Traditional catechetics teaches that Envy of Another's Spiritual Good is a subspecies of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.  Such sins are all but unforgivable, for it is hard to repent when you reflexively sneer at Mercy itself.  Appeals to reason cannot prevail here.  Even prayer can be doubtful.
There is a sin which is mortal;  I do not say that one is to pray for that (1John 5: 16).
Such people may not believe in God, but they serve a god.  The god who is always most powerful when his existence is denied.

6 comments:

  1. In my Church lady voice... "Could it be SATAN!!!"

    I have seen good people who are atheists and bad people who are "Christians" so the best thing to do is to be proactive in LOVING them not Judging them. I also think that most atheists are just misinformed, or poorly formed people whose faith is in an adolescent phase and has never come to maturity because they focus on hurt and injustice and are as selfish as teenagers. What have you done for me lately attitudes. When are they going to mature depends on their ability to take their vision to new and wider horizons, expand their point of view to see God's not far off, and not indifferent to them. They have to want him... as ask for him. God gives faith to those who ask for it.

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  2. i disagree mary liz. i do not think adult atheists are "misinformed" or "poorly formed people". while some are born out of adolescent angst most are not. your statements in and of themselves are judgements. being "proactive in loving them and not judging them" implies that there is something fundamentally "wrong" with an atheist. that is a judgement.

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    1. Not judging, observations of reactions to why don't you believe?

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  3. I wasn't applying a judgement, really, I was trying to indicate a point of view from the experience I have had with those who call themselves "atheists", just a general observation as to when I ask why they don't believe it comes across as a lack of faith formation... Study into the Scriptures can be crucial in finding a relationship with GOD, however I have met scholarly atheists who can quote the Bible better than me yet don't think it applies to them. Whether the Bible is a "living" book to be internalized and acted upon or a chronology of mythical characters (fairy tale)someone said to me, depends deeply on the level of that own individual's willingness to accept things on faith or their experiences with "RELIGION" as opposed to actual faith conversion. If you thought I was judging atheists as a whole I am sorry, that's not what I was stating. I know some pretty smart atheists and pretty pathetic "Christians", being cautious not to judge them, but observing their actions and saying "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ???" I mean I absolutely hate the scandals and the serious harm caused by pedophiles who were hiding in the priesthood. I think that many atheists see that as a failing of the whole Church. But then they are judging us the way they would not want to be judged, aren't they? What we have to do as a society is LOVE everybody despite their faith beliefs and their lifestyles. You know "Love the sinner, hate the sin." Easier said than done. But that's it. No judgement needed. I let Jesus take care of that.

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  4. i agree faith and religion are different things entirely and often are mistakingly lumped together. my apologies for reading into your words so much. however, if one doesn't believe in god that does not mean one has no faith or that faith is poorly formed. and i agree, one certainly cannot judge the church or christians as a whole by the actions of extreme individuals. it goes both ways definitely. i have lots of issues with the church itself and how it conducts its business. those who are devout and live their faith, there are no issues. mother teresa, to me, is the most beautiful example of someone who lived with genuine faith. the best course of action for society as you pointed out is to love one another. be kind and respectful. teaching tolerance. i believe, from my understanding of scripture, that is what jesus would want.

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  5. It is certainly easy to differentiate the two types of Atheists, as you point out. I recall meeting a girl at Gannon University who was an Atheist and I met here at the Pro-Life Club. Someone who believed killing was wrong regardless of an afterlife. You could talk to her and have a civil discussion but she is not the type who gets the press. Just as abortion clinic bombers give many a bad name, the hatred filled Atheist does the same for their “cause.” I think we are seeing the effects of a society that is losing a religious identity (increased rates of suicide, crime, divorce, etc) but unwilling to accept the true reason (loss of values and morals) and it makes me wonder who is winning right now. I am keeping the faith and will continue to fight the good cause. I always look forward to your next blog. Also, this post reminded me of Dr LaFaro’s joke: Nietzsche (1882), “God is dead;” God (1900), “Nietzsche is dead.” Kayser

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