What do I need to know when talking to my Atheist Friends?
We live in an age of widespread atheism. College students are often exposed to atheism under the guise of science and philosophy. Sometimes they are told outright that an educated person no longer needs the "crutch" of religion. In the last century, billions of people lived under regimes where atheism was the state religion. Elsewhere, socialist parties governed with a totally atheistic mentality, even if they didn't write it into their constitutions.
However, atheism as a philosophy or political system is relatively new. In past ages, the occasional person who didn't believe in a divine power was considered an oddball and a frivolous thinker. Why has the modern age produced so many atheistic ideologies? What philosophies of the early modern age (1500 - 1700) planted the seeds of the atheistic systems of the last two centuries?
Before we begin to study modern atheism and the many disguised ways it is promoted today, it will be helpful to examine some preliminary topics that will give us the tools to critique modern atheism:
1. The Pursuit of Truth and Belief in God;
2. Why the Search for Truth can Go Astray;
3. Proofs for the Existence of God.
The Pursuit of Truth and Belief in God
Among all creatures in the visible world, only human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. Because we are made in God's image, we have spiritual souls that enable us to know and contemplate truth. The power of the soul that can know is called the intellect. The intellect's object or goal is truth.
The intellect was made for truth. Even ancient thinkers recognized that man naturally seeks truth. Man is never satisfied in his quest for truth and understanding. God gave man this power to know and understand truth so that he would seek and find the ultimate Truth: God Himself. As St. Augustine observed, "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You."
God reveals Himself to human beings in three ways. He does this through:
1. The Material Universe. The material universe is the artwork of God, the Divine Artist. Just as we can learn a lot about an artist by studying his paintings, so we can learn a lot about God by studying His universe.
2. The Natural Moral Law. This law is written in our hearts. With our God-given reason, we can recognize the demands of the eternal moral law. Many people call this the "voice of conscience," in which God speaks directly to our hearts.
3. Public Revelation. This includes both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
Obviously, those who haven't received the benefit of public revelation, or who refuse to accept it, have only the created material universe and the natural moral law to guide them. However, by examining the universe and the demands of the natural law, any reasonable person is able to know God's existence and power. Therefore, as St. Paul tells us in Romans, even pagans have no excuse for denying God's existence:
Romans 1:19-20: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
But didn't original sin do irreparable damage to the human intellect? It's true that because of original sin, man's intellect has been wounded and often causes him to err in his pursuit of truth. But even with a darkened intellect, man retains great power for arriving at truth. This is why St. Paul held the pagans accountable for denying God.
Included in this booklet:
* INTRODUCTION TO ATHEISM
* FINDING THE TRUTH (Included above)
The Pursuit of Truth and Belief in God (Included above)
Why the Search for Truth Can Go Astray
Proofs for the Existence of God
* THE ROOTS OF MODERN ATHEISM
* THE ENLIGHTENMENT
* ATHEISTIC SYSTEMS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
* REFUTING THE NEW ATHEISTS
Are Science and Religion at War?
Limitations of the New Atheists' World View
* INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
* THE ROOTS OF THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT
The Human Potential Movement
* REFUTING NEW AGE BELIEFS
Refuting Hindu Pantheism
Father Frank Chacon, and Jim Burnham. Beginning Apologetics 4: How to Answer Atheists & New Agers. Farmington, NM: San Juan Catholic Seminars, 2000-2010. Print.
To order one or more of the Beginning Apologetics books by Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham, see San Juan Catholic Seminars' website.