by Joshua Fahey Tuesday, October 15
I have seen a number of arguments against the existence of God. My favorite is the one about God creating a rock to heavy for Him to lift; my least favorite is the argument that we can explain everything without God so we don’t need Him.
After I hit puberty I would have depressive episodes, and (like how flies are generated from meat) suicidal thoughts as well. I even had a plan, overdose on sleeping pills in a bathtub with a device that would drop a toaster in after the pills kicked in (I may have read one too many suicides gone awry after poor planning). I also planned that this would happen in college, because however much pain I was in, I didn’t want to cause pain for anyone else and I saw this as the least painful way for my family. I even thought I had considered the possibility of God (I was having doubts around that time too), if there wasn’t a God I would no longer exist. If there was a God, then a merciful God would understand and I might go to heaven, most likely through purgatory. Then a kink appeared in my perfect plan, I found out that suicide was a mortal sin (that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ thing) so now that I had full knowledge if I went through with my plan and God happened to exist, I would go to hell. And I supposed that hell would be just as bad or worse than here, only forever. All this led to investigating whether God existed or not while at the same time following all the rules that I could (without learning anymore, that got me in trouble last time). During this time I had to read a book for school in which I came across all of St. Thomas Aquinas’s proofs for the existence of God, with a nice foreword saying that this does not prove the existence of the Christian God, just God in general. Then the author of the book went on to give ‘proofs’ for the Christian God, which may not have been beyond reasonable doubt, but certainly showed me that Christianity, Catholicism in particular, was reasonable. So armed with this I searched the internet for atheistic proofs (I had lived long enough to know that I was easily convinced).
With that background you can see why I wasn’t impressed at all with the argument that we don’t need God, therefore He doesn’t exist. The only other two arguments I found that had merit were the boulder one, and the problem of evil. My thoughts on the boulder one was that I couldn’t wrap my head around it to completely understand it. On the problem of evil, it seemed perfect, with this I could complete my plan. But something kept nagging at me that maybe this Aquinas person had an argument against that too. So I searched the internet again (this was while we had dial-up), I couldn’t find anything by Aquinas but I did find an argument against the argument of evil. It was ‘The Mystery of Free-Will’, and I wasn’t convinced however it did succeed in showing that the problem of evil was more nuanced than it first appeared.
In college I ended up reading Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis and that helped me understand the problem of evil much better. I also read Theology for Beginners by Frank Sheed and that helped me understand the boulder argument. I was convinced in my head by this point that I shouldn’t commit suicide. But the way for me to beat my depression needed something in the heart, and Chesterton was my red pill. But that’s another story.
Joshua Fahey is a Chestertonian, a bachelor, a brother to eight siblings (not including in-laws), a writer of magic buttons for magic boxes, a poet, and a dabbler in many different types of knowledge.