Why I’m Still Catholic (And Alive)

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.

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3 thoughts on “Why I’m Still Catholic (And Alive)

  1. God bless you, dear friend. Frank Sheed, Chesteron, Aquinas, Lewis… you certainly have some good reading material!

    You might be encouraged by these words of Our Lord to St. Gertrude:
    “… the exceeding love which makes Me seek the salvation of men obliges Me also to believe that in all the good which My elect desire, they desire Me, because all good proceeds from Me. For example: if any one desires health, rest, wisdom, conveniences, or any other advantages, My goodness often makes Me believe it is Me whom they seek in these things, that I may give them a greater reward; unless they deliberately turn their intention from Me, as by desiring wisdom that they may satisfy their pride, or health that they may commit some sin. And it is for this reason that I am accustomed to afflict those who are dearest to Me with corporal infirmities, with mental depression, and other trials, so that when they desire the goods which are opposed to these evils, the ardent love of My Heart may reward them with greater profusion.”

    All the best.

    • Thank you for your kind words. Although through my journey I’ve been led to believe that God doesn’t afflict evil, but instead uses evil to do good. But what do I know? I’m far from sainthood. Once again thank you, and may God bless.

  2. To put the words in context, Our Lord has revealed to certain mystics that He does not enjoy seeing us suffer, but it is necessary for our souls. Any affliction comes from God’s providence. God bless you and take care.

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