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A Few Questions For Catholics...


Guest WPBloyd
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Guest WPBloyd

Hello, this is my first post here. I'm an atheist and, while I originally meant to start this thread in a Catholic or at least a Christian forum, I found out that atheists aren't really welcome in most of those - so much for peace and good will! These questions arose during a series of discussions I've had with some friends - a couple of them Catholic - and, even though they're indeed directed at Catholics, I'd like others to give their opinion as well, or add something to my observations, if they want to. Obviously, I'll be most happy if some Catholics will help me achieve a better understanding of their ideas about these topics. I discuss these matters with my Catholic friends in an easy, light-hearted, and open-minded way, and I'm hoping to stimulate the same kind of discussion here, I don't mean to offend anyone.

 

1) Hell. From my point of view, this would be an excellent argument to persuade believers that there's something strange in their faith: how can God be "infinite love", yet accept the existance of such a place (or state, or condition, or however you imagine it)? It seems obvious to me that if his love was infinite, he wouldn't allow the existance of such a thing, let alone damn souls for eternity. In the Bible, God is often described as extremely touchy and vindictive, yet some Catholics (like my friends) tend to consider his love so great that he wouldn't really want any of us to spend an eternity far from him, and ultimately imagine an empty hell. So, is there any way (that would make sense within Christianity) to justify the concept of hell?

 

2) Inconsistencies in the Bible and the canonical Gospels. Considering that even the Catholic Church admits that several episodes of the stories told in these books - some of them fundamental - have been added much later, and that the books themselves are full of contradictions and, quite often, describe God as "way too easily annoyed" (to put it mildly, considering the number of wars, genocides, and deaths that according to those books were ordered by him), what's left for believers to just... read and believe in? How far can the Church go in admitting the existance of these issues within those texts, and still claim they were inspired by God? Especially taking into account that for centuries, or even millennia, those books were considered to be the absolute, unquestionable historical truth, word of God, and as such caused quite a lot of sorrow...

 

3) How do you read the Bible? This question stems from an idea I've had recently, being a good reader and having a huge interest in literature: I've understood the Bible has an exceptional poetic value, its imagery is often quite strong, and this allows readers to see well beyond the semantic meaning of the words. This is something which, in my opinion, atheists like me should consider very carefully when criticizing these books. We all know works of literature (novels, poems, plays... even songs) which we dearly love and treasure because their words strike us not only with their meaning, but also their sound and style. I've come to the conclusion that this is a fundamental joy for the believer, when reading texts whose literal meaning would otherwise seem quite controversial, to say the least. The way I see it, their artistic value is what makes every true believer different in her/his faith, and helps them feel a strong and personal relationship with what they believe to have been written or inspired by a deity. Am I wrong?

 

That's all for now, and thanks in advance to those who'll be willing to help and discuss these questions - I bet most, if not all of them, have been asked here before, so I hope this won't be too boring for forum regulars. ;)

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Hello, this is my first post here. I'm an atheist and, while I originally meant to start this thread in a Catholic or at least a Christian forum, I found out that atheists aren't really welcome in most of those - so much for peace and good will!

 

I'm not Catholic, but I can say that Catholics don't rely so heavily on the Bible. Rather they use doctrine, papal authority and decrees, and catechism which is perhaps based on the Bible, but the book itself is not required reading and only the essence is given to the populace in sermons.

 

I may not be saying that exactly right, but I think you get the idea. They are not as dependent on the Bible as most protestant religions are.

 

As for hell, their ideas are different from many protestant religions as well. They include purgatory, and this concept is evolving. I don't want to try and explain purgatory, but it's not hell and it's not heaven. It may be a destination for some souls by some criteria. The criteria themselves are, once again, not biblically based (or the details are not in the bible exactly).

 

Ok, Catholics, what do you expect from an ex-Episcopalian?

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