Interview airing today!

Happy All Saints’ Day! My interview on EWTN’s Catholic Answers is airing today at 7PM EST.

You can see the listing for the segment here, and can listen online by either clicking “listen live” on the page linked to above, or just going straight here at 7PM.

If you want to listen on an old-fashioned radio instead of the interwebs, there are a list of EWTN stations here.

Not sure yet whether it’ll be available after the fact, but I think so: you can subscribe to the Catholic Answers podcast by going here.

Hope I didn’t say anything too stupid! But as my father pointed out recently, it’s hard not to say anything stupid if you talk for an entire hour. That was certainly true of every day of my life as a teacher.



103 Comments on “Interview airing today!”

  1. Lori says:

    I really really hope it’s available afterward! Mass tonight for All Souls Day is at the same time and I’ve sure been looking forward to your interview!

  2. jason taylor says:

    It’s hard not to say anything stupid on the radio simply because any question worth answering will take about a paragraph to answer.

  3. Dante says:

    Thanks for all the info Steve. I will hope to listen sometime tomorrow.

  4. Daniel says:

    Steve, I thought you did a good job putting up with Patrick Madrid’s aggressiveness and arrogance. I can’t believe he brought up the canards of:

    1. bad relationships with dad
    2. narcicism
    3. god didn’t make you this way
    4. maybe someday you’ll have like women

    You seem so intelligent and introspective. It breaks my heart to see you blinded by the delusion of Catholcism. At the risk of seeming banal, have you read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins or listened to Stephen Fry (a former Catholic was is gay) -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEhtOhwL8xk

    1. Juanito says:

      The host was not Patrick Madrid. Sometimes the truth hurts some hypersensitive people. As you sisters like to say: Get over it.

      1. Daniel says:

        oops, thanks Juanito, it’s so easy to get Patrick Coffin and Patrick Madrid confused. Yes, the arrogant aggressive host is Patrick Coffin.

        How do you know that what Coffin is saying is true?

    2. Literary Critic says:

      @Daniel – Wait, so you’re really actually suggesting that Richard Dawkins of all people is worth reading?

      One would think that if you were going to try to offer the determinist, materialist critique of theism and Catholic Faith, you could at least offer up somebody worth reading like Camus or Nietzsche. But Dawkins?

      Sheesh. Where can a Catholic find a smart atheist to argue with these days?

      1. Nietzsche is peachy. Dawkins is…mawkish?

        But let’s keep it nice and not call each other dumb.

  5. Juanito says:

    Steve,

    Great interview! Patrick was quite thorough. I appreciated the question about “becoming OSA” (as it were) and how for some it is not realistic, but still not impossible. With God all things are possible, for sure. However, at what cost to become OSA, the therapy, constant battle, etc. Sure, if God calls you to it, but what if God calls you to carry your cross bravely? At what point do you embrace that cross and at the same time live an OSA life, get married, have kids, etc.? Anyway, just some thoughts. Feel free not to comment.

  6. Christine says:

    You did a great job!

    And, as a teacher, I can relate to it being hard to talk for an hour without saying something stupid. I think you managed to do that, however, in your interview.

  7. Marcia says:

    Just finished listening to the interview. Thank you for your courage. I think the “Holy Spirit “, has definite plans for you! As far as “Our Lady”, she is awesome.
    You should go to Medjugorie. Not to see a miracle or any such thing, just being there in prayer is all that matters.
    I once had a friend who told me that if you have a devotion to Jesus, He will lead you to His Mother. If you have a devotion to Mary, she will lead you to Her Son.

    God bless you on your journey.

  8. Midget says:

    I feel you could have talked a lot long. I am a mother of a gay daughter. As a former DRE at my parish who went through a divorce I was very confused because my daughter chose to come out while living with her father. There was a 10 year period that my daughter and I were never able to communicate. I was not able to talk with her when she lived with her father and then found out she had moved to central Indiana and that she had a life mate.. She was never a bad person and trhis is hard to understand when and why? I have been doing a lot of self questioning. Not that I feel like i ad anything to do with her becomming gay but rather how one discovers this and the pain with it. Since we know God allows children to be born with physical and medical issues why do we not accept the possibility that hormones can get messed up either at birth or over time. I got to thinking that when babies are born we do not take hormone tests to determine our sex. If the doctors just look at you and label you whatever the doctor sees; how do we really know that is what the baby shouold be labeled or if the hormones dictate otherwise. To me if things get messed and are generally labeled birth defects than why couldn’t gay fit into this castegory. I don’t believe my daughter is less than what God intended for her to be but it bothers me that the rest of the world labels her along with the church just because she is different than me. just because we can’t understand some ones actions doesn’t mean they are wrong. Thank for opening the door and the discussuis. I will listen….

    1. Juanito says:

      I’m with you Midget. I believe SSA is a mental disorder, like a birth defect. Not sure if one is born that way, or just inclined that way? OTOH, I have met some very girlish guys and I cannot believe that behavior was learned. And some mannish girls who could pass for boys. It’s a mystery. For us it’s a cross to bear manfully. For the pagan culture it’s a lifestyle that needs to be embraced, and mainstreamed. It will take a miracle of grace to convert your daughter and all those lost in the “gay” lifestyle. The dominant culture enables them, not the Catholic Church’s teaching. Anyway, it’s good that the Church is still consistent in Her teaching regarding SSA and other issues.

      1. LifeAccordingToLuke says:

        “I believe SSA is a mental disorder, like a birth defect.” What a disgusting, ignorant, arrogant, hurtful statement. All of you disgust me.

        1. Captain Obvious says:

          @LifeAccordingToLuke: If you’re disgusted by commenters on a certain blog on ye olde interwebz, then why in the world do you continue to visit the said blog?

          Is it that you are chained in a platonic cave, forced to watch shadows dance on the wall shaped like Steve’s nose?! :-O

        2. Mark from PA says:

          I agree with you Luke, that is a pretty awful statement. I wonder if people think about how insulting they are being when they say stuff like that.

      2. wagz says:

        Amen 2 ur last statement! 😉

        1. wagz says:

          @Juanito

          When I said “Amen to your last statement!” I was refering to this posted on Nov2:

          Juanito
          November 2, 2011 at 7:32 pm
          I’m with you Midget. I believe SSA is a … Anyway, it’s good that the Church is still consistent in Her teaching regarding SSA and other issues.

    2. Dear Midget,

      Thanks for writing. You have been through some difficult times.

      I’m not a fan of “labelling” either, which is why I tend to refer to myself as “having SSA” rather than “being gay.” I know that some gay activists (not all) consider homosexuality to be one of a person’s single most important defining characteristics, but that’s not my view.

      I’m not sure what you meant when you said “just because we can’t understand some ones actions doesn’t mean they are wrong.” I think I understand homosexual desires pretty well — at least my own. That’s precisely why I do think they’re wrong, because I understand them.

      Happy to continue the conversation at your leisure, either here in the comments box or through email — my address is steve[dot]gershom[at]gmail[dot]com.

      Peace,
      SG

  9. Pat says:

    Great for you to give witness on the radio to following Christ and avoiding the temptations of the Devil. Sexual temptations along with drug or alcohol addictions are some of the hardest ones to overcome. There is Grace in chastity.

    I think there are more mixed and same-sex attractions in the world then are ever recorded. A blog like this is fairly anonymous to allow feedback and encouragement to you and others who read it to continue on your path of seeking God’s Grace from someone who has been there. When I decided that I needed to test my gay feelings as a young adult which had grown mostly out of innocent childhood sin, I unleashed a heroine type addiction. I say only through God’s Grace and the sacraments of the Catholic Church was I able to slowly diminish those desires. Like a recovering alcoholic, they never fully go away, but they do diminish over time. I married, because I prayed to God to help me, and found a woman who I could share my past openly, but then not have to talk about the gay past again unless it was necessary – in other words, it didn’t become a part of our marriage. Also, having chastity in marriage is very important to continue to develop sexual self-control and allow God’s ideal for a conjugal relationship to blossom. I even find that I have to be careful about attractions to other women now. God blessed us with a son, and being a father is another Grace that slowly makes the snares of the devil all the more clearer, but also the father/son experience has brought further healing of the past, and of course self-sacrifing love.

    I could go on and on about with more detail, but I leave you with this: Remember the “Our Father” prayer – everytime we repeat Jesus’ words, we are asking for “thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. In other words, some of Heaven is possible on earth as long as we follow Gods Will as has been carried down through Jesus and his Holy Church.

  10. Daniel says:

    This whole issue would be a lot issuer if you took God, a being for who there is no evidence, out of the equation. People are people, no matter whom they love.

    1. (1) Re: “no evidence” — bold statement. Are you familiar with the 2,000 years of writing on the subject? Have you discovered something that invalidates all of it?
      (2) I never said people weren’t people. Not sure what you mean.

      Peace,
      SG

      1. LifeAccordingToLuke says:

        There is almost a thousand years of writings about William Tell. He is fictional.

  11. Daniel says:

    oops, in my previous post “issuer” should read “easier”

  12. Roxy @ TSKGS says:

    I was listening to Catholic Answers Live on my way home from work and was so delighted to catch your interview! Just wanted to say I’m a big fan 🙂

    Roxy
    This South Korean’s Got Seoul

  13. Greetings Steve, I heard your interview last night. I believe it was with Patrick Coffin, not Patrick Madrid as someone wrote earlier. Am I correct? (The two are often confused). Just wanted to encourage you in your cross. This is a tough situation and I have struggled as a Catholic to put words to it and sort through it in light of also truly loving my brothers and sisters in Christ (even those who don’t believe) as Jesus would, without compromising the Faith. I’m grateful for your insight! A while back, I began to realize…we all have crosses. Some have the cross of terminal illness, or the death of a child. Some have the cross of addiction. I loved what you said last night about how not being attracted to women..isn’t the deepest part of who you are. It isn’t the Defining Thing when you look at who you are. First and foremost, we are children of God, all of us. Other things fall into the equation to varying degrees. Because of your closeness to God, you are helping us see more clearly. Again, thank you.

    1. LifeAccordingToLuke says:

      Gayness is only a cross because a bunch of you are making up that you know what the creator of the universe thinks (arrogant madness) and you condem it. Otherwise, no problem. You are the creators of this misery.

  14. Joe says:

    Do let us know when it’s replayed somewhere else. I didn’t catch it and would like to hear it. Thanks.

  15. Daniel says:

    @Joe, you can find all the Catholic Answers live podcasts here -> http://www.catholic.com/radio/podcast/podcast

    Doesn’t look like Steve’s is uploaded yet though.

  16. Marcia says:

    I went to a Holy Hour this morning. You came to mind along with an incredible thought, perhaps from the Holy Spirit. I would be happy to share it with you, but not on this blog. I hope to hear from you.

    Marcia

  17. B says:

    Wow, you can’t get a break! I have a relative with ssa who has chosen the path of chastity for no other reason than to spare his mother any pain. Faith doesn’t enter his equation. It happens.

    1. LifeAccordingToLuke says:

      Whu would his Mother have any pain if Faith wasn’t involved?

  18. Daniel says:

    I had to look up what SSA and OSA mean. Same-sex attraction vs Opposite-sex attraction.

    Jesus (assuming he existed) spent the vast amount of his life with men, and slept with them every night. He never said a word about against homosexuality. But he did say to love eachother.

    It is so sad that religion creates prejudice against against humans loving other humans.

    1. Who said anything about love? I was talking about gay sex. Very different concepts.

      1. Daniel M says:

        Isn’t it part of the church’s teaching that sex is (or at least ought to be) unitive, in other words, an act of love between two people? My best friend is a gay man who has been in a committed relationship with his husband for many years. They love eachother deeply, and their sexual lives together is part of that love. I’m not saying the only way to love someone is to have sex with them. But why would you want to seperate sex and love? That doesn’t sound very Catholic to me.

      2. LifeAccordingToLuke says:

        Claiming to know the will of the creator of the universe is arrogent madness. To harm and destroy the lives of millions of humans based on your claims to this knowledge is immoral and wicked. ‘Gayness’ is natural by its very definition. You say you are about peace and love – but your actions show otherwise. You are judgemental, controlling and domineering and your ‘love’ and (self)’righteousness’ is a cancer upon humanity.

  19. B says:

    But Jesus WAS a faithful Jew, and when he broke Sabbath to heal it is well documented. homosexuality was prohibited by Jewish Law punishable by death, so wouldn’t Judas have mentioned that bit in his betrayal? Also in Jewish culture men and women moved in single sex circles. Jesus was pretty radical for the times because he counted a few women among his friends. Besides, when did love start to equal sex? I love my friends, but I’ve never had sex with them. Holy cow!

    Also, denying the existence of Jesus is like denying the existence of Julius Ceasar. He existed, whether you believe he is God or not, he did live.

    1. Daniel M says:

      Please see what I just wrote to Steven. I’m not saying the only way to love someone is to have sex with them. But why would you want to seperate sex and love? That doesn’t sound very Catholic to me.

      Whenver I reference something Jesus reportedly said I always include “if he existed” since I do not take this for granted. I don’t take the historicity of Jesus as a fact, if you want a very well researched treatment as to why I’ll refer you to Dr Robert M Price’s work called “The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man”.

      One thing is for certain, if Jesus did exist he did not have a problem with homosexuality.

    2. LifeAccordingToLuke says:

      But if he wasn’t the ‘son of god’ then his opinion carries no more weight that yours or mine.

  20. Joe says:

    Daniel,

    One, even accepting the position that the Bible says nothing about sexual ethics (which is incorrect), the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. More directly, going from “Jesus spent time with disciples” to “Jesus had sex with men/approved of homosexual relations” is completely absurd.

    Two, morality (or Any topic) is not comprehensively dealt with in the Bible, nor has any decent philosopher ever really claimed anything of the sort. It’s the modern atheist straw man, and unfortunately even some Christians actually buy into it. Catholics especially have never held that we can understand the whole of philosophy, morality, God, or anything transcendent by solely reading the Bible.

    Three, “prejudice” has nothing to do with whether something is right or wrong. It’s a silly, modern, shallow, go-to criticism for everything that seems out of touch.

  21. Mike says:

    Steve– I appreciated your candor and thoughtful comments during the interview with Patrick Coffin.
    Why is it that gay activists are so unwilling to recognize that someone who may have SSA, may choose to follow his or her conscience and not engage in their lifestyle?

  22. Joe says:

    Thanks for the link, by the way. The interview is up. Listening now.

  23. Joe says:

    Daniel,

    Not meaning to pick on you or anything, but I was also reading your earlier comment. You wrote “You seem so intelligent and introspective. It breaks my heart to see you blinded by the delusion of Catholcism.” Did you ever stop to think that he’s Catholic Because he’s so intelligent and introspective? I mean, seriously.

    Also, Dawkins (and the rest of the “New Atheist” crew) is kind of a hack as far as philosophy is concerned. There are plenty of intelligent atheist philosophers out there. He is not one of them.

    1. Daniel says:

      @Joe. It fascinates me how religionists still put out these canards about Dawkins being an unsophisticated philosopher or whatever.

      PZ Myer’s has dealt with the issue 5 years ago with his Courtier’s reply: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/the_courtiers_reply.php

      It doesn’t take a degree in embroidery and a PhD in textiles to see that the emperor has no clothes.

  24. Joe, and Daniel too, I would recommend, as a counterpoint to Dawkins (if you really want to be fair about all this) that you read “The Godless Delusion,” which Patrick Madrid co-authored as a response to “The God Delusion.”

  25. Marge says:

    Thank you for your willingness to be interviewed. We need to be able to hear and then discuss all aspects of same-sex attraction with no polarizing barriers. Thank you, dear brother of mine in Jesus Christ’s family.

  26. Lauren says:

    I caught the interview and I thought it was pretty decent. Thank you for being honest and open.

  27. Justin says:

    Hey Steve, I have to say, even if it does sound rather cheesy, that you were absolutely charming. You came off as very humble with your “aww-shucks” persona. Kind of a refreshing change, actually, from all the polished broadcasters they usually have on. You sounded real. You were articulate and erudite, too, just as in your writing.

    My theory about the lisping issue is that boys with lisps were teased and bullied for being different, which spawned an inferiority complex which sometimes blossomed (probably due to other factors and pre-dispositions) into SSA. It then became a stereotype. Kids can be cruel; for years I was labeled as “gay” even though I felt quite attracted to girls and gayness never even crossed my mind, just because I was different. I sometimes wonder if being labeled “gay” in a sense made me so, or contributed to it, internalizing the concept. What would have happened if no schoolmate had ever called me gay? Just my personal thoughts.

    @Daniel, if you’re a devout atheist you might want to work on that name of yours — it means “Justice from God.” Anyway I will listen to atheists when they manifest the same noble virtue as our saints.

    1. Daniel says:

      @Justin,

      You wrote:

      “Anyway I will listen to atheists when they manifest the same noble virtue as our saints.”

      Been meaning to respond to this vitriolic and ignorant comment.

      Ever heard of Susan B Anthony? Norman Borlaug? Andrew Carnegie? Bill Gates? Brad Pitt? John Lenin? Robert Ingersoll? Thomas Paine? Thomas Jefferson? The list is enormous.

      And unlike the “saints”, these are all people who actually did things to demonstrably help people in the only world we actually know exists.

      Oh, the arrogance of believers!

  28. “Claiming to know the will of the creator of the universe is arrogent madness. To harm and destroy the lives of millions of humans based on your claims to this knowledge is immoral and wicked.”

    To the first sentence, I would say that we can in fact know the will of the Creator. In the Catholic Church, we find this in many different ways — through Scripture, through the oral stories passed down from generation to generation, through the Holy Spirit. And much of it can be determined outside of any faith base, purely through natural law.

    As for the contention that there is intent to harm and destroy millions…you might need to clarify. Actually, I think God’s truth leads to authentic freedom rather than condemnation.

    We are all, first and foremost, children of God. That’s what most defines us. Even the non-believer.

    And nobody said anything about not accepting the homosexual. Jesus most definitely would and does. The act, though, another matter.

    And sex and love don’t need to be separated, but sex entails more than the sexual act. I think that’s part of the issue here — our misunderstanding of what sex is. Usually disagreements like what we are observing here come down to different starting points/definition. The Church embraces both the procreative and unitive purposes of sex, not one over the other. Both together.

    I’m wondering why those who disagree with how Steve is living out his life as a man with SSA appear so venemous and angry. What is behind that? I see no wrong that he is doing.

  29. Mark from PA says:

    Steve, I took note of Daniel’s 4 canards that he mentioned. I thought of them also. You did mention it somewhat in the interview but I think you needed to more strongly refute the notion that a poor relationship with one’s father makes a guy gay. Most people don’t believe this anymore. I think a problem that some gay men have is that their dad’s picked up that they were different when they were young and distanced themselves from their sons. So the poor relationship didn’t cause the child to be gay. My take is that because the dad perceived the son to be effeminate or even gay, if this dad disliked gay people this had a negative effect on his relationship with his son. If the dad unconditionally loves his son and accepts him as he is and is not prejudiced then I think the son will be more emotionally healthy.

  30. Justin says:

    “Claiming to know the will of the creator of the universe is arrogent madness. To harm and destroy the lives of millions of humans based on your claims to this knowledge is immoral and wicked.” I think we can safely assume that if there is a Creator, if he has a will, and if he expects us to follow it, that he would reveal that will to us and provide a reliable way to know it. Otherwise, we can’t logically be held responsible for disobeying a dictum we had no knowledge of. This is not arrogant madness, it’s simple philosophy and logic. From our perspective, God loves us, and as creator knows how the world works, and so manifests, by way of his law, the best way to live in this world so that we might have ultimate happiness. Your argument is like saying it’s arrogant madness to think that a manufacturer would ship a product with a manual and instructions for use. In fact, it’s arrogant madness to think that a loving God would not reveal his will to us so we might know how best to live.

    As a man with SSA I do not think my life is harmed or destroyed by either God’s will or God’s will as expressed by the teachings of the Catholic Church. Indeed I think it prevents me from harm — from AIDS, from a life of self-destruction, from becoming a hollow shell of what I am now, from self-hatred, from drug abuse, from many things. I am scared by the things I would be capable of doing if I let myself go down that road, and thankful that I’m in the safe, safe place I am now. Thanks be to God I know the truth.

    Some think that they are happier living a gay lifestyle, but ultimately, one way or another, I think they’ll be proven wrong. They may be happy now but this doesn’t mean eternal happiness.

  31. Justin says:

    @Mark, I’ve heard this argument and I’m not sure I buy it. My dad, for example, is emotionally distant from everyone. Equal opportunity. Your theory is harder to sustain when you factor in what is usually joined to this, an overbearing/overinvolved mother. Are you going to argue that because the boy is different, at the same time the father is withdrawing the mother is starting to dote on him/control him for the same reason?

    I find in my interior life that the biggest ache inside of me, one which is inextricably tied with my SSA, is the ache for a father. When I seek after men, I am looking in some way for a father, for someone to make me masculine. My lack of an emotional relationship with my dad is essential to my SSA. I don’t think this would be true if the bad relationship with the father came from the SSA rather than the other way around. In that case it would be incidental.

  32. Mark from PA says:

    Justin, is your dad still alive? Could you try to become closer to him? Have you ever talked to your dad about this? Since I think homosexuality has a biological/hormonal basis I don’t think relationships with one’s parents cause homosexuality. However, from what I have read, hormonal influences prior to birth may have an influence so the mother actually has more of a contribution to a boy’s sexuality although this is beyond her control. My brother loved baseball and sports when he was a kid. I was indifferent to sports and remember as a young children how I liked to play with paper dolls and color. This was just the way I was. I think my dad tended to spoil me and baby me when I was a child as I was the youngest. I think a bad relationship with one’s father can really wound a child and can contribute to promiscuity but doesn’t really affect a person’s inborn sexual nature.

  33. Lori says:

    Thank you for the link to the interview. Steve, I think you did a really great job – congratulations!

  34. Joe says:

    Daniel,

    Dawkins doesn’t have to read every obscure philosophical book ever written. He also doesn’t have to be the brightest person who’s ever lived. He Does have to actually address the god of classical theism though—the god of Aristotle and Aquinas’ philosophy—before I or anyone else even start to take him seriously. That’s not exactly asking a lot, seeing as it was Their philosophy that dominated Western thought for thousands of years and is the philosophical foundation for the Catholic church’s beliefs.

    The link you gave shows nothing that real philosophers haven’t already addressed. Stop, step back, and actually do some research on the topic. I know it’s convenient and easier just to eat up the new atheist nonsense and brush everything else away, but at the end of the day it’s just nonsense.

    I read yours; you read mine: http://www.american.com/archive/2010/march/the-new-philistinism

    1. Daniel says:

      @Joe, this whole canard that atheists don’t understand “sophisticated” theology or philosophy is nothing but a red herring.

      Notwithstanding that atheists know more about religion than Catholics do (http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/09/28/survey-atheists-know-more-about-religion-than-believers/), it doesn’t take much more than a 9-year old’s level of intelligence to see through the BS of religion:
      http://www.towleroad.com/2011/10/mason-crumpacker-is-a-ridiculously-smart-9-year-old-girl-who-became-moderately-famous-this-month-after-chancing-into-a-conver.html

      In this debate, Jerry Coyne goes head to head with a “sophisticated” Catholic theologian, John Haught. Coyne “wins” the debate so clearly that Haugt was too embarrased to allow the video to be released.
      http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/the-video/

      I have read Aquinas and Augustine and Aristotle. It doesn’t matter though because this is a very very simple argument. There is no evidence that your sky-daddy exists.

      1. Asking again that we play nice. Arguing reasonably and even heatedly is fine, and might get us all somewhere. Openly mocking your opponent’s beliefs isn’t, and won’t.

      2. Tara S says:

        Daniel –

        You are quick to dismiss the intellectual abilities of Aquinas et al, without having read them. I am curious…are you aware that Thomas Aquinas correctly posited the basic mechanisms of genetic heredity and evolution way back in the 13th century, by way of a thought experiment regarding original sin? The classical philosophers were highly intelligent people who were not afraid to follow the use of their reason, wherever that reason might lead them. They were not people of a sort to be deluded by irrational fairytales of a “sky daddy.”

        It seems unreasonable to me that you would dismiss their conclusions simply because those conclusions have also been adopted without reflection by some people you may have come across or heard of, who have little imagination and make no use of their own reason.

        In my estimation, we humans rely a great deal on analogy and allegory to understand and give meaning to our existence. So if there was some kind of order and purpose and unity (which we call God) to this universe, wouldn’t it make sense that, if we were supposed to be a conscious and participatory part of that purpose, that we would be led to understand it by way of allegory and story? That, if these incredible things we take to be fact *are* fact, they probably happened as much because they tell us the story of what our purpose is, as because they were necessary occurrences in and of themselves? This is why you will find reasonable people who are devout in their faith. We don’t accept myth as fact. We simply start from the position that nothing is impossible, and go from there.

  35. viego pobre says:

    Justin,
    you might be interested in reading this man’s story, he had to learn it the hard way.

    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles8/Lee-The-Truth-About-The-Homosexual-Rights-Movement.php

  36. Nick says:

    Steve,
    I finally got to listen to your interview and I think you did a wonderful job! I liked the way that you thought about things before you spoke and didn’t let the way a questions was framed overly determine your response. It’s also really refreshing the way you are kind and honest even when replying to people who don’t agree with you in the combox. There is so little gentleness in the world today, and it is wonderful to see it. You’re great! God bless you for doing what you do!
    Nick

  37. wagz says:

    @Stevegershom For what its worth, especially to the haters who’ve posted here, I just want to commend Patrick Coffin for an excellent interview; I found him insightful, and firmly founded on his Catholic faith, and that makes him a rare gem among people who work in media. So Godspeed to Patrick! And may God continue to bless you abundantly, Steve, and may this blog be a blessing to it’s readers as well.

  38. Justin says:

    @Mark, yes, my dad is still alive. Trying to connect with him is like trying to beat my head against the wall. Once he actually told me “I don’t understand you and I’m too old to try to now.” That hurt a lot. He doesn’t talk about his interior life whereas I can’t wait to share it with people I’m close to. The few times I’ve gotten insight into his interior life, though, it’s been dark, so sometimes I wonder if I’m better off not knowing about it. Whenever I try to be “real” with him, to express how I feel or discuss something intimate, he stabs me in the back with some critical comment and I regret it in a surge of anger.

  39. Ann Marie says:

    God made us all in His image and likeness and God doesn’t make junk! also, God doesn’t hate the sinner He hates the SIN. He also gave us a free will to choose what we do in life. I’m sure there a thousands of people struggling withSSA who don’t act on those feelings. Those are the ones who should be commended not ridiculed. Imagine their struggle to stay within their religion’s teaching. I am not a PHD nor a college grad, I’m just a mother who is saddened and appalled by the way people treat homosexuals. Think before you harm someone, think….why would anyone want to choose that life and know that they would be persecuted and even killed? Stop the violence against people who are different than you. Jesus tells us to love one another. Remember He also said “what you do to the least of my brethan you do to me”. Imagine if God did to us what we do to Him? He teaches us to accept one another. At the end of our lives we have to face Him and everyone of you cowards will have to answer to Him. May God bless us all and forgive us our sins. AMEN

  40. Joe says:

    Daniel,

    It’s not a red herring, but it doesn’t really matter at this point in the discussion. You’ve already started with that always-endearing “sky daddy” rhetoric. and you clearly did not read what I sent you. There’s nothing “simple” about what’s being discussed. To make that claim is just absurd.

    Before I go, though; doesn’t it trouble you just a Little bit that you think you can just brush aside thousands of years of philosophy by saying something as sophomoric as “there is no evidence that your sky daddy exists?” Like the generations of theists who have come before you had never considered such a watertight argument.

    1. Daniel M says:

      @Joe, I did read the piece about “The New Philistinism”. Your psychic powers have failed you once again! It was nothing but an ad hominem attack on the new atheists and a red herring to avoid the real crux of the argument — please provide me with evidence that your deity exists.

      I realize that it’s just a comic; but the picture in Feser’s piece of “Ha! Are you kidding me?!? I don’t need to read this to know it’s not true!” sums it up the vacuousness of his argument. We have empirical evidence that shows atheists know more about the bible than Catholics do! I would be willing to bet my mortgage that If you polled atheists and Catholics on “what is the cosmological argument for the existence of God” that more atheists would know that as well.
      There was nothing in that piece telling me what’s wrong with the “Coutier’s reply”. It was basically “ha ha, the new atheists are SOOO stupid – so tell them to shut up” Just pure obfuscation. A big fat red herring.
      I (shockingly) don’t actually own a copy of the God Delusion so I can’t really verify this glaring gaffaw that Richard Dawkins supposedly made on page 77 or whatever. But I did research his “criticism” of Dan Dennett and honestly — I’m not seeing anything wrong with Dennett’s distillation of the cosmological argument. Sure it’s a simplification of the many variations the argument can take. But honestly, it’s the same old god of the gaps nonsense we’ve been hearing for centuries.

      Why is calling it a sky-daddy so insulting to religionists? I honestly don’t get that. Does not the first line of Jesus’ famous prayer say “Our Father who art in heaven”?!?

      I’m not saying that the nature of the universe is simple, just that the question I’m asking is simple — please provide me with evidence that your sky, er, i mean deity, exists. It is a simple request. What do you mean when you think this brushes aside thousands of years of philosophy? Do you believe that philosophy has provided this evidence?

      As for the past generations of theists — I do think in some sense that before Darwin and other advances in human knowledge — it may have made more sense to be a theist. But that aside, the argument from popularity is a logical fallacy.

      1. Tara S says:

        Daniel – I have an odd request. Will you please prove to me (with even one piece of irrefutable evidence) that neither you nor I are a brain in a Matrix-style jar?

        There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can empirically prove that I am a person in a body, and that the things I see and experience have any existence in reality. In the same way, there is nothing that can prove or disprove God. The quality of “being” – is it an accident or a design? Is this universe morally and spiritually empty except for the things we imagine in our own heads? How could anyone design a mathematical or physical proof to answer that question?

        Now, if God were as limited as you appear to imagine Him, certainly I can imagine pointing the telescopes around until we found Heaven (“Guys! There it is! I can see His big old beard!!!”).
        But maybe you are missing something important in the God question. Everything in this universe is very intricately and beautifully and coherently ordered, from a smaller scale than the atoms to a larger scale than the galaxies. Is it totally impossible that the way we are supposed to live and treat each other is just as intricately and beautifully designed? And if it is *not* impossible, where do we go from there? If it is *not* impossible, then isn’t the question of “how do we find out what that order and design might be?” more important than “can you prove it?”

  41. @Daniel and @Joe, I’ve been following comments here and I can’t help but think of the blog I and an atheist friend presented for about four months, An Atheist and a Catholic. This is beginning to feel more like the sorts of discussions we had over there. Our blog ended in part because of the frustration level over things going round and round and round. We found bits of common ground, but it all goes funny at some point when you are starting with two vastly differing points of view. Daniel, you said: “We have empirical evidence that shows atheists know more about the bible than Catholics do!” The thing of it is, just because a Catholic isn’t actively studying his or her faith (though I’d argue they would have a much richer faith experience if they did) doesn’t mean they don’t know their faith. Faith isn’t just about something to be studied in order to be grasped. It’s not something to be mastered through the intellect alone. It’s something to be lived. So, even if you have evidence of this, even if it’s true not enough Catholics are actively studying their faith and understanding every last precept, that doesn’t mean their faith is unimportant, has not benefited them and others around them. We will never give you what you want: proof of God’s existence. That question is outside the bounds of science, which deals only with the natural/observable anyway. But…is that really the point here? A man with SSA has come forward to share that one can live a life of faith and bear this burden and, at the same time, live life fully in abundance and joy. If you don’t believe in God or have faith, then I’m not sure your comments are relevant. Since the existence of God is beyond the realm of science maybe your issue with the Church should be taken up elsewhere, and this blog can simply be what it seems to have been intended to be: a place for Steve to encourage others who are Catholic and are SSA to gather, and a place for those of us who are not SSA but who want to find a way to better express our own thoughts on this issue (like me) to learn and grow in our understanding.

  42. Justin says:

    @Daniel,

    What does it matter whether more Catholics or Atheists know the cosmological argument for God’s existence? The truth is the same whether Catholics are ignorant or not. Even if it is true that a large percentage of Atheists know the cosmological argument, that doesn’t prove anything. A lot of Atheists reject the argument for reasons other than reason. Just because Atheists are aware of it and reject it doesn’t prove that it is invalid or unreasonable, it just proves that Atheists do not accept it.

    1. Daniel M says:

      @Justin Got sucked back into this thanks to Patrick “the lesser” Coffin…

      The reason I brought up the fact that atheists know more about religion than Catholics do is that Joe had throw out the tired old red herring that atheists don’t know enough about theology and/or philosophy to critizice it. I wasn’t trying to make an argument from popularity — just trying to point out his red herring.

      “A lot of Atheists reject the argument for reasons other than reason.” I’m not following you here… what argument am I rejecting? and why?

  43. Yo, SG:

    I am absurdly late seeing this thread, but a reader of my blog asked whether I had seen the blogosphere interest burst in our interview. I hadn’t. I did hear from many people on the side, though, by email and callers to the show. Some alchemic combination of my questions and your answers seem to have hit a nerve in some of your combox interlocutors.

    It’s the height of irony to be hatefully called a hater. Comes with the territory. To those who misunderstand the teaching of Christ, who have never experienced the fruits of His Passion, or who don’t believe at all, I extend my sincere prayers.

    God loves us so much, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

    Next month, fyi, I’m interviewing Melinda Selmys, ex-atheist lesbian-turned vibrant Catholic mom, about her book “Sexual Authenticity: Intimate Reflections on Homosexuality and Catholicism.” I pray her story is a blessing and an encouragement.

    Keep up the great blog, and Godspeed your plow, Mr. G.

    Patrick the Lesser

  44. I love this Patrick:
    “God loves us so much, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

  45. @Daniel,

    I can’t find the actual comment that prompted my response but it came through on my email. It’s this section where you speak to your atheist heroes:

    “And unlike the “saints”, these are all people who actually did things to demonstrably help people in the only world we actually know exists.”

    I’m thinking you haven’t been introduced to the saints’ stories. All of those who have been officially recognized as such through canonization, without exception (and there are 40,000 of them I believe), “did things to demonstrably help people in the world we actually know exists.” There’s a rich heritage of this in the Catholic faith. Check them out; I can assure you you’ll be inspired. 🙂

    1. Daniel says:

      @Roxane, it’s kind of the same old same old isn’t it? Religionists just can’t seem to fanthom that those who reject their beliefs do so because they have examined them and find them lacking. I am familiar with the lives of many “saints”. I find their stories pathetic at best. I have no doubt that many of them have done good in the only world we actually know exists — but at Christopher Hitchens famously challenges: “name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.”

      My goal is not to say no saint has done good but to point out how ignorant Justin’s original post was about there being no noble and virtuous non-theistic individuals.

      1. Tara S says:

        @Daniel – “I am familiar with the lives of many “saints”. I find their stories pathetic at best[…etc]”

        This is quite tiresome. It does not appear to me that anyone in this forum is challenging your right to believe what you will, nor has anyone taken much umbrage at this rather insulting habit of lumping all “believers” and “religious” in one set of uninformed, arrogant, and deluded people.

        You yourself have stated frankly that virtue can be practiced as well by the non-religious as by the religious. Please take a moment to consider the implications of that statement. It can be reversed. Virtue can be practiced as well by a person who believes in spiritual things, as by a person who does not. And not merely virtue, but reason, logic, and clear-sightedness as well. If a religious person finds that the moral code of a certain religion makes sense to him, and if in following that code and creed he finds that his personal experience shows it to be true, why does this offend you so much? It does not seem to me that you are displaying much of the reasonableness and clarity which you seem to assume is a unique benefit of being a non-religious person.

        You were perfectly right to protest when an individual seemed to lump all atheists together as a monolithic group of wrongheaded people, or suggested that an atheist (as such) was incapable of the same kind of virtue as a Christian. In fact, I agreed so much, that I find I must follow your lead and protest when I see you treating people with religious beliefs in a like manner.

        1. Daniel says:

          @Tara

          You wrote:
          “It does not appear to me that anyone in this forum is challenging your right to believe what you will,”

          Maybe, but the Catholic church (and I would guess many in this forum) are quick to point out that I will go to hell eternally for my beliefs.

          You wrote:
          “… nor has anyone taken much umbrage at this rather insulting habit of lumping all “believers” and “religious” in one set of uninformed, arrogant, and deluded people. ”

          I wouldn’t lump all believers into all 3 categories of uninformed/arrogant/deluded but I’ve yet to meet a religionist who doesn’t fall into at least one of those categories. I have blogged about this in the past (see here -> http://www.edmontonatheists.ca/2011/05/why-are-there-still-catholics/).

          You wrote:
          “If a religious person finds that the moral code of a certain religion makes sense to him, and if in following that code and creed he finds that his personal experience shows it to be true, why does this offend you so much?”
          So truth is relative? Don’t tell Patrick Coffin that! What I care about is, how do you know said creed is true? Personal experiences do not make something true. What offends me is people pretending to arrogantly know the truth about things they can’t possibly know — such as that a god exists and (even more arrogantly) that they know this deity is against humans having sex with eachother if they happen to have the same genitalia.

          You wrote:
          “It does not seem to me that you are displaying much of the reasonableness and clarity which you seem to assume is a unique benefit of being a non-religious person. ”

          I don’t assume this at all! There are many examples of very intelligent reasonable clear thinkers who are theists. They just happen to be wrong on that last part!

          1. Tara S says:

            @Daniel – I am glad you agree that people can be intelligent even if they don’t agree with you! I gladly concede the same point. 🙂

            I think there may be a slight mistake regarding hell and hell-worthy offenses. It’s not my understanding of Catholic belief that a person whose conscience persuades them against the church, or who truly does not believe in God, would be “sent to Hell” as it were, for simply not getting what the fuss is about. That would be like damning a blind person for not believing in rainbows (not to suggest there is necessarily blindness in lack of faith in Catholicism, it’s just the only analogy I could come up with on short notice). Just because a person doesn’t “get” the idea of God, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing things they know to be wrong and hurtful, which is really the most sure way to drastically separate oneself from God. If somebody can be a living example of 1 Cor 13 (“Love is patient, Love is kind..” etc) to everyone around him, then he’s drawing as close to God as he is able to, and that’s really the point. In my understanding of the Catholic faith, we’re all just supposed to get as close to God as we can, despite our flaws and personal issues. Even misunderstanding Him, even not believing in Him at all, is not a fatal impediment to that goal.

            As for us: calling ourselves Catholic certainly does not automatically mean we are going to do the work to get closer to God, or that we will see the truth in basic things like “whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.” Neither does believing in jogging make me healthier if I don’t actually go out and jog. But proper jogging is still generally a healthy thing to do, even if there are people out there doing it wrong. Likewise, I hope and believe that most Catholics do make a sincere effort, and as a result are better people than they originally were.

            Now, none of this means that I think truth is relative. Certainly not – but like Thomas Aquinas, I believe that truth is truth, no matter where you find it. If you look for truth everywhere and anywhere, you are much more likely to find it. This is why I have no problem dissecting Catholic values from the position of actual utility. Yes, I believe they are correct and divinely transmitted – I believe it from the bottom of my heart. But I only believe it because those values appear to me to be rational, logical, coherent, consistent, and geared toward the benefit of the human person. To use a flagrant tautology, if Catholicism isn’t true, then it isn’t True. If it doesn’t stand the test of reason, and doesn’t share the earmarks of all the other truths, then there has been a mistake somewhere, and Catholicism is wrong. The thing is, I’ve never yet found a contradiction between what Catholicism asks of me, and what, upon deep and reasoned reflection, makes a great deal of good sense. In my mind, Truth is the independent variable and Catholicism is the dependent variable. Truth is good and true, and Catholicism is only good and true insofar as it matches the Truth. I have never found a discrepancy between the two. (Now, between Truth and us people *within* the Church, even up to the highest pontiff, of course there have been discrepancies between ourselves and what is true and good. We are all just folk, sadly, and we fail repeatedly.)

            I think it is confusing for people of faith, who are no more able to deny the existence of God than you are able to admit it, to believe something which makes us feel wonder and awe and humility, and to be called arrogant for it. It is an odd feeling. Certainly, if our beliefs were a nasty form of supernatural trickery (Like, “If you don’t choose God-Door #3 then alligators will eat you, haha, aren’t we smart”), I could see your point. But I don’t think that’s the case with most of us.

          2. I dig your analogies, both jogging and algebraic. Well said.

  46. Theresa says:

    Steve,

    I just had a chance to listen. You did a great job in my opinion, and I was struck by how masculine your voice is… something I’m guessing Patrick Coffin was also struck by based on his lisp question.

    Anyway, I will remember you in prayer. I can only imagine how difficult of a road you walk. I can’t relate to SSA, but I too am broken (as we all are!). Working to conform my life to one of prayer and work (ora et labora) has been the only thing that gives me a shot at living a virtuous lifestyle. Every hour of the day accounted for… and everytime my mind has too much time to wander (say falling asleep).. pray! The rosary for me, but I’m sure other repetitious/meditative prayers would also work well. Leaving only Sunday for rest & recreation. Anyway, just sharing what has helped me. God bless you, Steve. I am betting that your reaction to this is pleasing Him.
    T

  47. @Daniel, I don’t doubt for a moment that most atheists come to their position through being very thoughtful about it. Up to a point, the atheist worldview can make a lot of sense. But the thinking doesn’t go quite far enough. If you keep going with seeking to answer the really big questions, you’re going to bump into God sooner or later. And when you do, watch out. Your world with be turned upside-down in a good way. At least I hope that you will probe long and deeply enough to get there. If you allow people like Hitchens to guide you, you might end up stuck at the top layer. I wish more for you than that. Keep probing. You’ll be glad you did.

    I also don’t doubt that the non-believer can come to important life truths. What is missing, it seems, is gratitude. The believer has someone to thank, daily. We thank God for every moment of existence. It’s a glorious way to live, a true fulfillment of the gift of life. You, too, have been given a profound gift in your very existence, but unable to get to the point of recognizing that you didn’t just spring into the world by chance, you live in this world, each moment a gift, and can never get to the point of thanking the one to whom you owe it all.

    I’m with Tara. If we’re going to be fair about this, let’s be honest first. We are all human together.

    1. Daniel says:

      @roxane,

      You wrote:
      “I don’t doubt for a moment that most atheists come to their position through being very thoughtful about it. Up to a point, the atheist worldview can make a lot of sense. But the thinking doesn’t go quite far enough. If you keep going with seeking to answer the really big questions, you’re going to bump into God sooner or later. ”

      No, you’re not. You’ll come up to limits of our human understanding and the only (not arrogant) answer at this point is “I DON’T KNOW”. What are you doing here is called the god of the gaps.

      “…At least I hope that you will probe long and deeply enough to get there. ”

      How do you know that I haven’t probed deeply? This is so insulting and judgemental. Again it’s the arrogance of believers who think that the reason people like me don’t believe is that we just haven’t looked hard enough. There are so many stories of ex-believers (like me) who came to atheism because this is exactly what we did — probed deeply into religion and found that beneath the veneer of ritualism/tribalism/traditions/authority there is nothing.

      You wrote:
      “If you allow people like Hitchens to guide you, you might end up stuck at the top layer. I wish more for you than that. Keep probing. You’ll be glad you did.”

      I could just replace Hitchens with the Pope and send it right back to you. I’m a freethinker which means I try to think for myself. Yes, I might find something Hitchens says to be a good point or idea. But I’m also free to disagree with him (which I do). Remind me what happens again when a Catholic disagrees with the Pope???

      You wrote:
      “The believer has someone to thank, daily. ”

      How do you know this?

      You wrote:
      “…but unable to get to the point of recognizing that you didn’t just spring into the world by chance”

      No one who understands the fact of evolution would say that humans sprung into the world by “chance”.

      You wrote:
      “, you live in this world, each moment a gift, and can never get to the point of thanking the one to whom you owe it all.”

      Who do I owe? And how do you know this? Maybe we all owe Allah for our existence and He will be very angry with Catholics for not thanking Him.

      You wrote:
      “I’m with Tara. If we’re going to be fair about this, let’s be honest first. We are all human together.”

      Agreed! We are all human together. This is the basis of humanism. None of us know whether a god exists. And even if a god did exists, none of us know what this deity wants. To say otherwise is madness. (Oh ya, which makes papal infallibility the utter heights of arrogance and madness).

      1. Tara S says:

        @Daniel: A-ha! I see. That is why you were calling the “arrogant” card. Yes, it is hurtful to be informed that one one hasn’t dug deep enough into the fundamental questions of life. It’s not fair, and it’s usually not true! Probably it was coming from an honest mistake, rather than arrogance. Like when I thought you were calling us all dumb and vapid for being Catholic. Whoops! That was my bad.

        Regarding papal infallibility, as awesome as it would be to have an infallible Pope, I think the Catholic understanding of infallibility is actually really restrictive, and applies only to certain kinds of proclamations. Honestly, if those proclamations didn’t seem to be coherent or to make sense, I’d be right there with you. But in my mind the fact that the doctrine does still make sense (at least in my opinion) after 2000 years bodes well for the argument that those proclamations are, by necessity, correct. Of course that is a HUGE area for contention, and I’d never ask somebody to take that on my say-so.

        I will tell you a secret. I don’t know either. I don’t know and I can’t. I have only a primate’s brain and some animal senses and (if we theists right about God) a broken soul that I only vaguely understand and dimly experience. And yet I believe, both because of things I can explain and things I could never explain. I believe more strongly in God than I believe that I’ve actually got a hand attached to my arm.

        I do agree; as for knowing, that can never be – not on this side of the grave. But I am still compelled to believe. My reason and my experience demand it of me. As for you, you’ve never seen my arm, so you’ve no reason to believe that I have a hand attached to it at all. And you haven’t experienced what I have, so I would be unjustified in judging you for not sharing my beliefs about God.

        1. Daniel M says:

          @Tara.

          Thanks for the reply Tara. Been meaning to respond but life gets in the way.

          You wrote:
          “And you haven’t experienced what I have, so I would be unjustified in judging you for not sharing my beliefs about God.”

          It’s nice to hear that you don’t judge me. This means that you are more moral and more enlightened than your own deity who calls unbelievers fools and plans to send down his wrath upon atheists like me (see Romans 1). Make no mistake, your church teaches that I will suffer in hell eternally (just ask Patrick Coffin). I’m glad you are more moral than your church but what does that say about this institution you believe in?

          The reason I brought up papal infallibility is that we just finished agreeing that we’re all humans. And yet your Church takes a human and puts them on the pedestal of Vicar of Christ incapable of making errors on faith + morals. What utter arrogant madness to believe a human could ever be infallible (even though yes I know it is of limited scope + only under certain conditions…).

          I’m not trying to dismiss your personal experiences as unimportant or meaningless — they are not. The problem is that personal subjective experiences are not necessarily a pathway to truth. Any deity worthy of being called a god would understand the nature of evidence well enough to know this. Your personal experiences ought to be insufficient evidence, even for yourself, to justify metaphysical claims about a deity.

  48. @Steve, do you get the feeling we’ve hijacked your combox? I hope you don’t mind. On the one hand, it seems we’re completely off the point. And then again, doesn’t it always come down to this when discussing anything in which faith is inevitably confronted, as is the way you approach your own SSA? So I think/hope it’s relevant.

    @Daniel, thanks for taking time to respond. I understand how you might feel I’m being arrogant. We’re working within the limits of online conversation, though, so all I can say in my defense is that this is far from my intent. If my certainty about God’s existence, and my expressing that, makes it feel thus to you, I’m not sure what to say. To me, God isn’t just about belief, it is about knowledge. I know God exists, and the evidence is plentiful, but the journey toward God (or away from God) is unique to each person. So I submit to the fact that there is a chasm between us and that it might skew how you receive my words.

    You said: “You’ll come up to limits of our human understanding and the only (not arrogant) answer at this point is “I DON’T KNOW”. In fact, believers also believe there is much we don’t know and can’t know in this life. We call it mystery. It is not filling in gaps with God. It is acknowledging that God’s mind and ways are greater than ours.

    You said: “How do you know that I haven’t probed deeply?” I know little about you, of course, but what I can say in answer to this is, you’ve read the arguments making the case against God. Have you also read works by former atheists, such as C. S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity,” that arrive at a different conclusion? Not the Pope, but someone who has traveled a similar road as you? I think doing so would help you realize what I mean when I say you haven’t probed deeply enough, and you’d realize that it’s not arrogance but concern that leads me to say that.

    You wrote: “I could just replace Hitchens with the Pope and send it right back to you.” True, except the Pope is the vicar of Christ, which would make him more credible in my eyes.

    You wrote: “’The believer has someone to thank, daily.’ How do you know this?” It would fill the combox to explain how I’ve arrived at my position, but if you read Lewis it will make more sense.

    You wrote: “No one who understands the fact of evolution would say that humans sprung into the world by “chance”.” Okay, fair enough. Then let’s go back even further…what about the world itself? Explain to me how it all happened? Big Bang? Great! That theory was first arrived at by a Catholic. Please tell me what/who set it all in motion? If we’re not here as a result of randomness, then we’re here as a result of an intelligent force. It’s either one or the other.

    You wrote: “Who do I owe? And how do you know this? Maybe we all owe Allah for our existence and He will be very angry with Catholics for not thanking Him.” Hmmm…well, if I understand correctly, Catholics and Muslims believe in the same God, though our idea of how that God interacts with us is different (very rudimentary but for the sake of keeping it reasonable while invading Steven’s space…). So, I don’t think Allah is angry with me or my Catholic friends, since I honor Him as a Catholic.

    You wrote: “Agreed! We are all human together. This is the basis of humanism.” Weee! Common ground. This is really the basis of Christianity too.

    @Tara, you do a beautiful job of explaining our approach as Catholics. Thanks! I can’t see your most recent comment here but read it through email. I agree what you said about hell.

    @Steve again…I don’t think Catholics are out to condemn anyone. We are here to do what we can do to grow closer to God. It is this closeness (or lack thereof) that will either compel us toward the God of Light, or make us repel from Love. In that way, it will be our choice, more than God’s condemnation. Our God is a God of mercy. I believe that the more we know about God, the greater our faith, the more responsibility we bear. In that way, I have my work cut out for me. But I would never pass up an opportunity to share the Light I have known and come to love with others whenever possible.

    1. Tara S says:

      @Roxanne: Thanks! I like your thoughts as well, especially regarding the actual differences between Christianity and Islam (same God, slightly different approach). Gack, we really are jamming the combox aren’t we? 🙂

    2. Daniel M says:

      @Roxane

      You wrote: “We call it mystery. It is not filling in gaps with God. It is acknowledging that God’s mind and ways are greater than ours.”

      See what you just did? You jumped from mystery to god. This is textbook GOD OF THE GAPS! And it is the extreme of arrogance. We don’t know, i.e., mystery, means we have to work to find out. Arrogance is to say: “well, I don’t know, therefore god did it!”

      To be honest I don’t find you or Tara, based on your comments here, to be arrogant on a personal level. What I’m trying to point out is the extreme arrogance of your beliefs. I was a Catholic not that long ago so I shared the same beliefs and I know I wasn’t trying to be arrogant, it’s just that when you analyze what you are actually saying you are making claims to know things you can’t possibly know.

      You wrote: “Have you also read works by former atheists, such as C. S. Lewis’ ”

      Yes, I have read pretty much everything C.S. Lewis has wrote. His trilemma and argument from morality do not hold up to critical scrutiny. Based on many of his writings, in particular his book “A Grief Observed”, I’m not the only one to read him as never really leaving atheism. In fact, it reminds me a lot of how Mother Teresa was ousted with strong atheistical tendencies. I think many believers, especially when they are praying, understand that there is really nothing there but their own thoughts.

      You wrote: “True, except the Pope is the vicar of Christ, which would make him more credible in my eyes. ”

      This is a logical fallacy of appeal to authority. I thought you agreed that we’re all humans. No one gets an automatic truth trump card. The truth value of anything you, me, the Pope, or Christopher Hitchens says depends not on our office in life but on the strength of the evidence supporting the claim.

      You wrote: “Then let’s go back even further…what about the world itself? Explain to me how it all happened? Big Bang? Great! That theory was first arrived at by a Catholic. Please tell me what/who set it all in motion? If we’re not here as a result of randomness, then we’re here as a result of an intelligent force. It’s either one or the other.”

      No, this is a false dichotomy. The choice is not necessarily between randomness and god.

      Stephen Hawking has written that “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Hawking writes. “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

      Lawrence Krauss, a physicist, talks about how the sum of energy in our universe is 0. In other words, we are nothing from nothing.

      These physicists are proposing models where the universe is a necessity, a natural consequence. I don’t pretend to understand much of this. I’m humble enough to say I don’t know. And the physicists will be the first to say that they don’t know for sure either, more research is required.

      We don’t know what set it all in motion or if that’s even a valid question. It may be that asking what caused the big bang is like asking what’s north of the north pole? It’s a question we can write in English but it makes no sense to the real world.

      You are playing the god of the gaps card again. It’s a game that Christians throughout history have continuously lost.

      And let’s be honest, this is nothing but a red herring. If we could prove, tomorrow, that the universe was caused by purely naturalistic mechanisms, would you stop being Catholic? I doubt it.

      This is what is so disingenuous about discussions with believers. You are putting forth arguments, your “god of the gaps”, that are probably not the reasons you yourself are Catholic.

      You wrote: “Hmmm…well, if I understand correctly, Catholics and Muslims believe in the same God”

      Yes and No. Islam does not believe that Jesus was god and savior. So I’d be careful assuming that Allah will be all too happy about you believing that a mere mortal was a deity when Allah is pretty clear that he’s the only game in town.

      1. @Daniel, just a couple things.

        First, the Pope. When we revere this man as Catholics, as the Body of Christ, we are not revering the human being that he is. We are revering and honoring the Christ that is in him. He is very much human and would be the first to admit this. He is also very close to Christ. That’s not to say others are not equally close, but he has fostered a special closeness that is worthy of emulation by the rest of us Christ-followers. We need each other as role models, and the saints who have gone before, and our leaders who live exemplary lives and put on the mind of Christ regularly. I can understand how someone who doesn’t subscribe to the faith would be turned off by this. But for faithful Catholics, it is a source of inspiration. We honor Christ that we see in him as we do in one another.

        Second, I’ve been in enough conversations with atheists to understand it’s a very difficult conversation and there are so many misfires because our approaches are so vastly differently. I’d say even an attempt is worth something but it’s likely we’re going to come out short. I appreciate the grace that I see in your latest words. There is a measure of humility in them that I find very generous and I appreciate it.

        I also want to say that I’m thrilled to know you are a baptized Catholic. Even though you reject God now, God still and always will dwell within you. Even though you will call it arrogance on my part for saying that, please know that I mean well. What I, as a believer, take from that…is that Christ is in you too and is waiting with open arms to take you back into the fold, and that if you should ever come to a different position, you will be welcomed like the prodigal son and then some. You are Beloved!

        Finally, I am more interested at this point in your personal story than anything else. I’m curious…what it was that caused you to turn away from God. Oftentimes, something happens in a person’s life to turn them away, and then one step after another becomes one more step away from the God of Love. Even though I know you don’t see it that way and, like other atheists I’ve talked to, probably see this as a great time of liberation, I am curious about what it was. Was it a certain person or event that finally convinced you that this whole God thing is a bunch of hogwash? I ask because I think believers can all learn from the experiences of others who have switched gears.

        One more thing….perhaps you’re right that all evidence against God, no matter how compelling, won’t sway me from my position, at least nothing that I can predict at this point. And I think that’s because, though God also makes logical sense to me (as C.S. Lewis lays out in “Mere Christianity”), God has touched my heart, and that, to me, is the most compelling evidence of all. I have been changed. I have experienced unconditional love. It’s hard to turn away from that. It’s a huge draw and one that I feel I’d be insane to move from.

        And I pray that someday, you will experience this compelling love as well. Let’s just say Christians are all wrong and this is a big hoax. I still believe my life is exponentially better for believing in the God of Love. I cannot turn away from that.

        Finally, Mother Teresa…her Dark Night of the Soul. Yes, she experienced the absence of God, but she never lost her faith. Even when she felt nothing of God, she continued serving Him faithfully. That is not a loss of faith. Many saints have experienced this dryness of soul, and yet they loved and believed despite this. I am friends with someone who knew Mother Teresa for the last decade of her life and she has confirmed this reality of her friend. This is widely misunderstood and I just needed to set the record straight on the Dark Night of the Soul which is not uncommon even when belief remains.

        Wishing you well! Thanks for the discussion.

        1. Did I really say “just a couple things” and “finally” more than once? I guess there was more than I realized. 🙂 Excuse my “brief” response. 🙂

  49. Tara, indeed. I’m waiting for Steve to kick us out. We might be a little like those rude friends who stay too long after dinner when the hosts are ready for bed. (If it makes a difference, I’m grateful we’ve had a chance to discuss these important things, Steve. Thanks…)

    1. Oh, feel free. I’m enjoying the conversation even if I don’t jump in.

      1. Daniel M says:

        Steve, thanks for letting us ramble on. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised with the constructive dialogue we’ve been able to have between atheists and Catholics.

        Full disclosure — I was raised Catholic and have formally defected from the church. Best decision I’ve ever made!

        1. “If one has to choose between different authorities, not they but one-self is ultimate authority for oneself, and this means: there is no authority for him.” Paul Tillich

          @Daniel, this is interesting but short-sighted. I believe that God chose me first, and that it is up to me to choose God in turn. God is my Father just as my earthly father is my father. I learned each of those facts as I came into consciousness. Of course it doesn’t stop there. I can choose whether to disregard the good advice my earthly father has given me through the years. I can turn my back on my heavenly Father and creator as well, but this statement by Tillich really minimizes the truth of our lives and resulting choices. It certainly empowers the individual, and in some ways is right to a point, because ultimately we do get to decide whether we will worship the God of Love and do our best to live the life He wants for us. We all do get to make that choice. I am going with God. You are choosing the absence of God. You see that as freedom. I do not. I see choosing God as freedom, even if it means my life is not my own. In this case, this is a good thing. The God I know is not the prime dictator but the prime liberator.

          I’m not sure if this will post; something’s up with the combox, which is why this isn’t in the right place.

  50. Tara S says:

    @Daniel – “This means that you are more moral and more enlightened than your own deity who calls unbelievers fools and plans to send down his wrath upon atheists like me (see Romans 1).”

    Ach, nein! Das ist incorrect! Although let me just say – when a person comes away with this reading of Christianity, it is deeply reassuring to me that they find themselves NOT Christian, as opposed to some others who find their home in the idea, with a cannibalistic and bloodthirsty glee. But again, and thankfully, this is really and truly NOT most Christians.

    I heard this funny joke about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It said that because the Bible is public domain, you could pump the Old Testament into a word document, then “Find and Replace” the word “Hittite” with the word “Zombie” – and there you go! You’ve got a fascinating novel.

    I have a “Find and Replace” of my own, that is actually found in the instructions of the Bible itself. One of the epistles of Paul says, “God is Love.” As in, they are the same thing. And in 1 Cor 13, Paul goes into very great detail about what “Love” is…love is patient, love is kind…keeps no account of wrongs…etc. So I can basically go through the whole Bible and replace “God” and “Christ” with the entirety of Chapter 13 from 1 Corinthians. In my estimation, to do anything else would be to ignore one of the Bible’s most fundamental and crucial revelations. God…is..Love!

    In other words, when the Bible is talking about gnashing of teeth, and all the dreadful, terrible things that happen to the unbeliever…well, you get the idea. What it is, is a description of what happens to us when we deny love. When we willfully go about refusing to care about the world around us or the people around us, when we take pleasure in our own selfishness, and care nothing for the people who suffer around us. When we spend our life denying 1 Cor 13, we turn our souls (please to grant that we have them, for the sake of argument) into dreadful, unloving and unlovable, black-holes. When we die, if this is all that is left of us, what then? We are what we make of ourselves, and if we make our souls into a Hell and don’t even repent of it, then that is what they shall remain.

    Look at Scrooge from a Christmas Carol – no matter what religion he professed, he turned his soul from its own little Hell, into a devout worship of God (again, read “God” as 1 Cor 13). I am convinced this is the way we are supposed to read it. Jesus talks a lot about what the kingdom of heaven is like, but I can only recall two very direct and very clear instructions about what God Himself *is.* “God is Love,” and God IS (“I am that I am.”) So God is the totality of all Creation and its Author, etc. And the underlying essence of that Creation is harmony, self-giving, cooperation, joy…”love.” To me, the “I am a vengeful God, who will separate the sheep from the goats” is a really reasonable and compassionate warning that maybe, just maybe, we’ve got souls that can be damaged by the evil that we do, and maybe we ought to do EVERYTHING we can to align our souls with the joy and the harmony of love, because our souls aren’t going to die when we do, and it would suck to spend eternity as a sniveling, withered toad of misery.

    I mean, look at any really nasty people that you know. If they were stripped down to their deepest core, wouldn’t they be miserable? Wouldn’t they basically be in Hell?

    When you are looking at something that purportedly describes God, you’ve got to think big – like “universal concepts” big. Because the idea that God is some Gandalf-figure with magic tricks and all kinds of demands is of course total nonsense. If the Bible is right, then “The God of Abraham” is the force that created the whole of all existence, all its crazy math and physics, all its rules, all its galaxies, everything. This would not be a force that deals in puerile revenge or tricks. If the Bible makes any sense, you’ve got to think in BIG terms. And when you do, surprisingly, it actually does make a whole lot of sense.

    Okay. That’s all I’ve got for now. Live Long and Prosper! 🙂

  51. Tara S says:

    @Daniel – One more thing!

    “Your personal experiences ought to be insufficient evidence, even for yourself, to justify metaphysical claims about a deity.”

    To me, that is potentially an illogical assertion. If by “claims” you mean “beliefs,” then what else am I to rely upon, if not my experiences and my own reasoning powers? I can’t begin to imagine what I would use to make an assessment of the world around me, were I not permitted the use of my senses and my mind. I would not even be permitted to believe in the effects of gravity, or the fact that my dog is white and furry. I readily concede the frailties and limitations of both my senses and my reasoning powers, but at the end of the day, they are all I’ve got. If I couldn’t trust them to form my own beliefs, I certainly would not believe in the rules of science, or gravity, or anything else.

    If, however, by “claims” you mean “everyone must agree with me about things I can’t prove,” then of course I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have no call to require others to agree with me on things I cannot prove. As far as the fitness of the personal moral code provided to Catholics by the doctrine of the Church, I still think it is the best way for a person to live his or her life so as to weaken the grip of temptation to do wrong and to reduce ignorance of what might lead us to do wrong. I believe it can be discussed as such, in a temporal and immediate manner, and I have no problem trying to convince people that there is solid reasoning behind why I submit to the Church. But as for the “metaphysical” aspects of my belief, I haven’t the faintest idea how I would go about trying to make people see things the way I do. Why should I? I am more than happy to relate what I have seen, and if that speaks to you, then great. If it doesn’t, what am I supposed to do about it? Even if I were correct down to the smallest detail, undoubtedly your experience of these metaphysical things would be different than mine.

  52. Daniel M says:

    @Tara and @Roxanne
    “If one has to choose between different authorities, not they but one-self is ultimate authority for oneself, and this means: there is no authority for him.” Paul Tillich, “By What Authority?”

    @Tara, you’re going to redefine the entire bible. This proves all too clearly that believers take their morality to the bible, not from the bible. If your own moral sensitivity is higher than that of your supposed Source, the odds are good that He is not your Source. Or as Paul Tillich is saying, you are your own authority. You are cherry-picking the bible for what you like. I sense you do the same thing with Catholicism. Ignore the clear teachings that someone like me is doomed to eternal hellfire, and focus on what appeals to you. In some respects I applaud this because you are choosing not to adhere to the evil teachings of the church, but at the same time I find this incredibly disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

    Your attempt to rewrite the bible reminded me a lot of this great cartoon from NonStampCollector:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers/2011/11/24/learning-about-love-from-the-bible

    @Roxanne, C.S. Lewis’ arguments are terrible. The trilemma misses a very important 4th possibility — Legend (read this http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/fiction.html). When I was a Christian, I too was very swayed by Lewis’ ideas. But it turns out that most of his arguments commit the logical fallacy of argument from false analogy. His whole argument from morality is backwards. As the Paul Tillich quote implies, humans bring their morality to their supposed authorities.

    But at this point you have admitted that even if it could be proved god did not exist you would still believe in him — which means there is really nothing more we can discuss. This is the height of self-delusion.

    1. @Daniel: “If one has to choose between different authorities, not they but one-self is ultimate authority for oneself, and this means: there is no authority for him.” Paul Tillich

      Oh, how easy it sounds to just not have to obey anyone or anything. But is that what we really desire? I look at this quote and I can’t help but think it is less that I am doing the choosing and more that God first chose me. Just like I didn’t choose my earthly father, nor did I choose my heavenly Father. Both fathers have guided me, but at some point, it was up to me to decide whether I would listen to their wise advice. We DO get to choose. It is up to us, in the end. God will never force us to love Him, or to set aside all of the arguments that our minds can conjure to think and argue Him out of existence. I imagine God is very amused by our attempts to discount Him. At the same time, again, I don’t mean to belittle your experience. Obviously at some point there was a breach. I would submit to you that the breach was between you and the human beings in your life, because God would never do anything to distance Himself from you. We do that all on our own, and sometimes the people in our lives help us.

      Tara has been doing a great job of keeping people respectful here, but I do need to say that you saying my response that I would believe in God even beyond what seems logical (at least in terms of empirical evidence) is “the height of self-delusion,” well, that seems no less considerate than when Joe called your approach selfish. But it is true that one of us is deluding ourselves. It’s either me, or you. One of the two. Someday, all will be clear. For now, I choose to live my life by staying near to what I believe is God, the Creator of the world, who loved me (and you) into existence and will never abandon us, no matter how much we turn our backs on Him.

      Everything I saw will be offensive to you, I’m sure. Just as the ways you speak of my God are extremely offensive to me (as Tara pointed out). But again, I come back to Jesus’ own words: “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” So I’m not as upset about how you refer to the God you believe is nonexistent.

      Here’s one more thought. I’m borrowing this from a discussion I heard on Catholic radio yesterday. So many atheists point out that there have been many gods through the centuries, and that our God is just one more of many myths. If this is so, why is it that so many were martyred for this God that I believe in? Something about the God I know is extra-special for people to respond in this way. This is powerful evidence to me that God did walk among us, and His name was Jesus. He came to show us how to love and to bring us to the Father. It’s up to us now.

      I do wish you peace, love and light, Daniel. I’m sorry we’ll have to agree to disagree on many points for now but as long as you and I have life, there’s still time. I hope you continue to search out Truth in every way possible. I will promise to do the same.

      1. Corrections: childish, rather than selfish (what you were accused of by Joe)

        And you will disagree with what I say, not what I saw.

        Sorry for the interruption!

  53. Tara S says:

    @Daniel – Happy Friday!

    You say I choose to redefine the Bible because I take what is actually in it, to attempt to understand it. I would not call that “redefining” but simply attempting to understand it in its totality, which is pretty well the only way to avoid the pick-and-choose approach.

    Look, what you say about the the Christian worldview would make a lot of sense if we humans were simply lily-white innocent victims. But if you look around you can see that we are not. Despite all the goodness and beauty and wonderfulness in us, we are still pretty fundamentally messed up, no? I aim pretty high in how I am trying to live, but even so I still fail a LOT. And no matter what societal structures we’ve put up, look at all the people who still suffer and the enormous amount of evil that’s still committed. Obviously we can’t blame it only on the political and social structures themselves. If we could, we probably would have gotten it right by now. So by omission, it stands to reason that something within us (in the aggregate) is pretty stinky. When I forget that simple fact, my faith makes no sense. Why would we need a savior from the sin that is within us, if really we just needed the perfect political system to avoid evil? But that would mean that humanity is the innocent pawn of natural/supernatural forces, rather than active agents in our own world. I think we can all agree that this simply isn’t so. If we *do* really struggle with the sin inside of us, as most people (Christian or not) believe, then it makes sense to me that the stories in the Bible get messy, and that God is sometimes represented as scary. In the Christian worldview, God didn’t make us miserable – we did that ourselves. This is something that Christians and atheists can agree on. And as a further point of common ground, any person who has reached the age of reason knows that there are consequences to our actions. So if, in Christianity, God uses His “scary voice,” He’s not being cruel. He’s explaining the natural consequences of our actions in a manner that is likely to get our attention.

    As an end note, you don’t know how painful it is when, (by innocent figure of speech, I’m sure), you refer to God in disparaging terms. By all means, feel free to call the Bible wrong, the Church flawed, my whole faith and theology utterly and unforgivably mistaken, whatever you please. But when you actually name God Himself and say that He is small and cruel and as bad as the wrongheaded people who sometimes call on His name, it feels really horrible. I still remember somebody in Grade One calling my Mom an bad name – I didn’t even understand what the term meant, but it still hurt for a long time! This is worse. Just so you know!

  54. Joe says:

    Daniel,

    I didn’t know this discussion was still going on. I’ll start with this one because I think it’s at the root of your problem: “…please provide me with evidence that your deity exists.” Without you realizing it, perhaps, that question Assumes an argument before it even gets started. You assume that Only Physical Evidence can be used to prove something. This, of course, is materialist nonsense. Metaphysical, mathematic, and scientific proofs do not require “evidence” in the way you’re framing it here. None of the arguments for any of the things mentioned above even deal with physical evidence. Philosophers have never been troubled by this and still make arguments about truth and falsehood all the time. Empiricism itself is a non-materalist argument, using claims based on Reason—Not “evidence.” This is precisely the method theists employ.

    People who seriously use this sort of “show me evidence!” argument look childish compared to most serious philosophers. It’s amazing to me that these ideas have gotten off the ground at all, and really, it’s only the last 50 years or so that they have. The internet has just made it worse, I think, as young people have gotten a voice, and young people are usually just loud and refuse to listen even when people answer their rhetorical questions. There are intelligent atheist arguments out there; this is not one of them.

    Further, it is not another “god of the gaps” argument. It never has been. God of the gaps arguments assume materialistic and mechanistic views of the world. Classical theists reject those views of the world as being logically incoherent. These classical theists provide logical proofs to make these claims. The fact that you cannot get these things straight show that you really don’t know what you’re addressing here. Materialism is Not the neutral starting point you think it is. Whether or not you believe in God, at least get past that.

  55. Tara S says:

    @Joe – Now, now, there’s no need to call names, with the “childish” and whatnot. We’re all childish thinkers compared to Aristotle & Co, but it’s hardly gracious to sneer at us for it.

    That said, thank you so much for your points! This is partly what I was trying to get at, without being aware of the specific terms or arguments. Materialism and/or physicalism are indeed philosophies whose real “proofs” lay outside the systems they define. They require assumptions that one cannot justify from material data alone.

  56. Rachael says:

    oh my goodness! I got to like the 7th or 8th comment and I was like “wow! there isn’t an atheist or anyone being critical of Stephen’s fantastic, amazing choice to stay chaste…” Praying for you Daniel M and all:)

  57. Celine says:

    Wow, I’ve finally finished reading all of your comments, and just…Wow. I gotta say, I think I’ve become a fan of you, Tara S. Everything you said just clicked in my mind. I can honestly say that you’ve strengthened my faith and knowledge as a Catholic. After reading all your comments, I feel happy/happier being a Catholic and knowing that there are Catholics like you out there 🙂 Thank you, you truly inspired me.

    And Steve! Thank you for…existing! You’re truly amazing 🙂

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