Recently I got into an online conversation with an atheist – maybe an agnostic. He was bringing out some fair criticisms of Catholicism, and I tried to defend the idea that however full of warts the faith may be, it’s still good on the whole. He seemed to argue still that it was on the whole horrible.
The dialogue then turned to him wanting to see if I had any evidence for my faith, and I was not ready to bite. I’m all for conversation, but I’m wary of the comment-box, flame-throwing, ad-hominem arguments with atheists. I’m open to them, on a good day, but it literally consumes my thoughts both on and off the computer when I do. He accused me of avoiding the discussion and kicked me off his comment section. Oh well.
It got me thinking, though, that it might be good to circle back around and remember why it was I chose Catholicism to begin with. When people ask me about why I became Catholic years ago, I give a fuzzy answer: “The Pope… sola scriptura… something something…”
It’s not that I don’t remember. It’s just that after you’ve settled a thing, you stop thinking about it. Like if someone asked me why I chose a job thirty years ago. There was a clarity to it when I first made the decision, but now I might need to dig a little deeper into the caverns of my memory to give a good answer. Otherwise it might be something like, “Cool experiences… money….”
So I’m circling back again. Last time I blogged on WordPress, Catholic-bashing was all the rage, and it seems things haven’t changed. Maybe it’s time to revisit the past.
Still, I’m hesitant. This is public. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone, in a culture like ours, will listen – I mean really listen – to someone they disagree with. It’s difficult even when we’re trying to be sincere.
But maybe I can clear the air a bit here before I dive into “101 Reasons to be Catholic!” Let me address some of the prejudices the reader (and myself) might possibly have before this series commences. That way we don’t have to fight about them later. We can fight about them here! 🙂
The Church is Not Pure Evil
Seriously, some people have almost a primordial disgust for the Catholic church. It’s like an instinct. “We hunger. We desire to procreate. We hate the Catholic church.” They can literally see nothing good in it.
I get it. We’re in a time now, especially, when no one trusts institutions. But the Catholic Church is the largest charity in the world. It also has the ability to reform over time. Western civilization has Catholicism to thank for so many of it’s values – if not all of them.
A billion-person religion with a 2000 year history is bound to have some dark spots. But the quiet, toiling priests, sisters and brothers don’t make it to the front page of the New York Times. When they do, oftentimes they are misrepresented. Think AOC and Fr. Damien.
We are flawed to be sure, but we are not evil.
The Catholic Faith is Steeped in the Bible
If a Catholic person doesn’t know his/her Bible, that’s not the fault of the church. We have a gazillion theologians in history to expound it for us. The church holds forth daily readings in the Mass for the laity to chew on in the Old and New Testaments.
When I converted from Protestantism, it was partly because I read my Bible more closely, and it’s not like I read the Bible superficially before. I have a Bachelor’s in Bible from an accredited Bible college. No joke. That’s what they’re called.
So if you want to have a conversation with me, I’m happy to crack open the Scriptures. It supports my faith.
The Catholic Church is Fine with Science
Catholic theology goes hand in hand with science. We need to understand how the world works to best understand how to take care of it and love each other.
A good example is how many churches responded to the Covid 19 pandemic. Bishops around the world closed the doors to public Masses even though they had never done this before. Why? Because science has taught us more about viruses, while our faith teaches us to protect the most vulnerable.
Another example is Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. He took the latest and most established science on climate change and other environmental issues and drew out how Catholics should live in light of the dire state of our planet.
I could rattle off a list of priests, sisters, and other deeply religious people who have contributed greatly to the sciences.
And please, please don’t bring up Galileo. That was 500 years ago. Get over it.
The Catholic Faith is Faith, not Science
Some people hold the Catholic faith to such a high standard, it could never be reached. Miracles are part of the proof of the faith, and supernatural things don’t happen often. That’s why we consider them supernatural. Yet if a thing can’t be proven in a laboratory or tested in some measurable way, it’s discarded by some.
This has a name: scientism. If that’s something you ascribe to, that’s fine. Just know it’s a dogma like any other. No one can prove that all we ought to believe in and all we can trust is what can be proven scientifically. I think some jobs require a screwdriver to get at truth instead of a hammer.
But I Really Do Care about What You Think
I really don’t think everyone who disagrees with me is pure evil either. Behind a computer screen I may not come off this way, but I gain a lot from conversations I have with people I disagree with. They just need to be had in good faith. No ad hominem’s. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. No calling each other idiots. No allusions to Hitler. Just a good conversation.
All right. Here goes.
Read the rest of the posts in this series here.
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