Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-04-12 - Nick Stumphauzer Part 2

Author Recorded Friday April 12th, 2019

There are 47 episodes in the Versus:Atheist series.

Recorded February 9th, 2019

Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-02-09 - Greg

Recorded September 11th, 2016

Catholic vs. Atheist - 2016-09-11 - Renaud

As we learned in part 1, Nick has given himself a year to disprove his Atheism. So in this second conversation Nick asks me a few questions about my faith and I share some of the benefits of what I believe to be an unmerited gift from God.


Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-04-12 - Nick Stumphauzer Part 2

Author Recorded July 30th, 2016

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Nik some Howser part - what do you been up to what do you want to talk about I'm out yeah I'm gonna put now where nothing seems crazy to me I'm open to anything maybe except flat earth so I really want to hear what pushed you over the edge of creationism what happened last Friday as I listened to a sermon by a Catholic priest who is also a young earth creationist the topic of his sermon was about Mary but he just mentioned in an offhand way that one way we can know that evolution is not the case is that there's only one Immaculate Conception and it's Mary and so if Adam were conceived in the womb of a nonhuman creature then he would had to have been immaculately conceived conceived without sin because he was without sin until he fell from grace and the church teaches that Mary is unique in her Immaculate Conception she is the Immaculate Conception and so that was enough to tip me over the edge so what do you mean specifically by Y on our special creationism I mean I do believe in the scattering of the languages and tolerant label and I do believe that there's a catastrophic worldwide flood that Noah survived by the grace of God with his ark I do believe these things like all this sort of sunday-school storybook versions of all the stories I do tend to believe them and take them literally in that way my church encourages me to exercise prudence and moderation and to look at the science and to be reasonable but my basic default position is to sort of go with that Sunday School version so I don't have a timeline in terms of matching my young earth model to all the science and the bones and the fossils and geology and anthropology and the history of civilizations and all this sort of thing I haven't done that and I'm not interested in doing that a lot of the people do that people that are interested in that really hairy complicated analysis of mountains and mountains of data in the natural world I'm not interested in that doesn't interest me at all I always think about the problem of induction and how hard it is to figure out the pattern there many ways too much models to data and as you can see you just by surveying sort of the landscape of young Earth Creationism and old earth creationism and intelligent design and theistic evolution an atheistic evolution and they're all doing the same project they're all matching the data to fit their model and I hope they enjoy that but that's not the kind of stuff that I enjoy interesting so what distinguishes your method of achieving truth to what you've distinguishes theirs well first of all I've come to monotheism through solipsism so I have a deductive approach that brings me from solipsism to monotheism and if I'm wrong then I'm not wrong because if I'm wrong when I say that I'm not God then I'm God and God is not wrong so that means that God is God so we're back to monotheism and then from there it's about you know the history of Jesus Christ who is he what claims did he make what did the Jews prophesy about the Messiah is he the Messiah yes or no was he a Muslim yes or no and then once we're into Christianity then I examine the authority of the Canon of Scripture the authority of the Catholic Church or the sacraments and everything else and then I end up being a Roman Catholic so I have divine revelation I have an infallible Church and an infallible God that gives us the infallible church and I have dogmas so you have Natural Sciences you have philosophy above that and above that EF theology and above theology you have God himself so my deductive approach now that I'm in the privileged position of being a Roman Catholic I can point to the dogmas as absolutely certain more certain than anything else more certain than my sense is more certain than my reasoning more certain than anything else and I can adapt everything I can interpret everything all the data in terms of those dogmas so the dogmas take precedence for me I think that there is such a peace that you must experience to have that framework that cognitive framework that you can hang your hat on and I definitely Envy that and I envy you and I and I do hope to be able to reach that point where navigating this world is not traumatic for me yeah I was just listening to a couple of lectures on my way to work on my way from work and at lunch and I could just feel my spirit soaring I could feel my soul being uplifted and it's the same thing when I do spiritual reading I don't want necessarily to feel consolation all the time but I do get a lot of consolation from spiritual reading and occasionally from a good path lecture or talk or sermon hmm I was recently having a conversation with a Lutheran pastor friend of mine and I always thought that the difference between Lutheranism and Catholicism had its roots just in transubstantiation and that was it and he said no that's that is a snowflake on the glacier that is barely scratching the surface of our differences and he made the argument that it was actually the instantiation of Catholicism and the church as the religion of the state of Rome that was sort of the divergence from what Christ had intended and so he said as a confessional is Luther in the actual church the most true version of the church is solafeet a Sola scriptura you know by the gospel alone and he said a few other things but do you have any any thoughts on that or anything that might be able to clear up the distinction for me yeah I mean you can look at Luther look at his life before his revolt look at what he did after his revolt and you know ask yourself if this is a good and holy man if this is a man that you want to follow and look at the contradictions in his own teachings and look at his hatred towards those who are following his advice most closely you know it's wing glee and Calvin and anyone anyone that picked up his ball and ran with it just look at how he mocked and ridiculed and despised them look at the man look at how he behaves and what he taught and come to your own decision and look at the history of the church and where he falls in that time line now there is something you mentioned about the worldliness of the church in Rome in the city of Rome and elsewhere there is something to be said for that critique there is a lot of worldliness in the church even today there's worldliness in the church that's the human component so when you see people buying the offices in the papacy and in the bishop tricks and buying the power buying the privilege and then having a life of luxury and and wealth and corruption and sex and sin I think it's fair to say that that church is corrupt and that church is worldly now there's a very very very important distinction that needs to be made between the use of the word church as pertaining to the members and then the word the use of the word Church which is that mystical body of Christ which is the mystical and spotless bride of Jesus Christ the church is by her own definition a perfect society meaning that all of the means of salvation are there and the church of course is one Holy Catholic and apostolic and that holiness is real it's not just a fancy label it really is holy because Jesus Christ is holy and Christ and His Church are one this is a deep mystery as st. Paul said so we really need to hold in tension the fact that the church is one holy catholic apostolic and that it is at the same time a hospital for sinners but the way I like to resolve that tension or at least give a way to distinguish the baby from the bathwater is to point to the other two components of the church we don't only have this messy ugly component in the church militant we also have the church suffering in purgatory which is being purified and of course the church triumphant in heaven which is fully and completely purified so there's no excuse really to isolate our vision to the church militant to point to the pedophile priests to point to the Pope's who are rich and vain and perverted in many ways there's no excuse to focus only on that one third of the church we need to realize that we are in need of purification that's why the church is the hospital for sinners not a museum for Saints and so when we look at purgatory and we look at heaven we see a three-stage process that's enabling us to stand before God because nothing impure can stand before God I always thought that Catholics and Lutheran's were extremely similar and I guess I think the division runs far deeper than I had ever perceived yeah I mean the the central issue for me if you want to have sort of my bullet points on it that the top bullet point for me is Authority where do the Lutheran's get their authority where do they get their cannon of Scripture where do they get their Bible they got it from the Holy Roman Catholic Church there's absolutely no way for them to deny that or provide any sort of counter explanation it's it's just a historical fact to remain Protestant it is not a problem of the intellect it's only a problem of the will it's only because they do not want to become members of the of Babylon it's just how they see it right they really have a hard time I think the problem is humility they have a lack of humility they're not willing to stoop to be part of something that is so embarrassing the Holy Roman Catholic Church is very embarrassing here below now once you have that humility and once you are dead to self and it's no longer you who live but Christ who lives in you then that's not a problem you know you you can very easily be the subject to mockery and ridicule and scorn by the world and by the Protestants and by everyone else who hates the Catholic Church because you have that pearl of great price and you're willing to suffer and die with Jesus Christ it's a joy it's a real joy fascinating I would love to get this pastor on your show I think I might reach out to him and see if he's interested his name is pastor Christopher Thoma yeah so are you like naturally drawn to Lutheranism because of the good music that's what I think of it i think about johann sebastian bach is one of my favorites and he was a Lutheran no I am I am not drawn to Lutheranism I've been more steeled in my atheism over the last several weeks since we've last talked I've been exploring more coming back into literature and what not and I don't know if it's just the sources that I've been reading but I happened it seems that every source and resource that I have experienced thus far has only pushed me further into my atheism despite them being religious Christian or Catholic sources so I am curious to see where this next year takes me so I can't remember actually the last time we spoke if you touched on some of your anxieties that have to do with mortality and existential angst and this sort of thing to the extent that you're comfortable talking about just talk a little bit about existential angst please yeah the language that I'm using now is the trauma of being and I think Freddie Mercury had a great quote I don't know if he said this in real life or if it was just in the you know the recent film Bohemian Rhapsody but he said being human is a condition that requires a certain amount of anesthetic which I find to be poignant and a slippery slope so I try and make sure that you know I don't reach for the anesthetic though I I do commiserate with his feelings there so I am afraid of hell though I don't believe it exists and that seriously shapes how how I live I don't engage in casual sex I try and be chaste I try and be polite and a lot of that which was thrown at me has stuck from a young age and I do still fear hell despite the intellectual belief not being there and so I struggle with a fear of death constantly you know over Hima we've talked about this as well my experience with high amounts of THC has sort of ripped a hole in my perception of reality and I'm still working on suturing that back up a little bit day by day so there's a lot of growth and transformation there and sort of how I see existence and in reality and the void looking back at me and I think to anyone who hasn't experienced psychedelics or marijuana that those words probably be nothing but to those who have they probably understand a little bit of the trauma that can come from staring into the void with the aid of these substances so I think that I'm better than I've ever been mentally and emotionally but I've also never been where I am at the moment I'm in definitely a different terrain and I'm interested how this year is going to take me to different places so my whole trip into the dark world of existential angst and this intense anxiety was triggered by experimentation with marijuana and magic mushrooms the Church teaches that these are you know gateways to the demonic and they're an opening and I believe that yeah it's interesting that that's you mentioned psilocybin mushrooms I'm actually playing on incorporating them in the the journey here of the prodigal because I believe that any discussion of God that is without psychedelia is an anemic discussion I think that the religions of the world prior to the monotheistic religion so these have always been you know an aspect of their ritual whether it was ayahuasca and Peru or peyote in Mexico and psilocybin in these different places however after listening to out Jones I'm Joe Rogan and him say that you are ripping a hole into another dimension where demons come through it definitely gave me pause for sure for sure I mean I I would have to recommend that you stay away from drugs but I would focus on the positive side of what you're going through which is you know st. Augustine said that the desire to believe is already belief and the desire to praise already prayer well maybe maybe that's sort of what the mission of this film has to be which is to go through the motions act it out have that desire that genuine desire because if I truly am trying to prove myself wrong then that takes the form of having faith having belief I am trying to do it in a non-religious way so that you know I don't pick a religion and then go for it I'm trying to do it in more of just a you know focus on the entity of God and move toward that and then the religion will come second but I do you have any advice for me if I were to you know follow a sticky note checklist of pursuing a belief in God what would be a couple of the things that would be on there my first intuition tells me focus on your death think about the fact that you could die at any moment you don't know how you're gonna die you don't know when you're gonna die think about the futility of life and think about the vanity of life think about judgment and think about your sinfulness and your unworthiness and think about how ungrateful you are to the God who created you out of nothing and gave you the freedom to choose good or evil and how you chose evil many times and you're not in a state of grace you're in a state of sin so if you die you go to hell so you have to think about that and on the more intellectual side I would just think about the fact that you exist are you the source of your own existence yes or no am i existence itself is my essence existence think about that think just turn it over in your mind you know in the worst case scenario by meditating on the fact of your existence the bare fact of your existence you know the worst case scenario you end up some sort of Buddhist but you have dabbled in Buddhism no oh very much yeah and it's interesting you mention that so for the last several weeks since we've talked I've been experiencing what you outline there that's called ego death I've been experiencing that as I'm falling asleep at night where there's no longer a Nick there it's similar to what I experienced when I was high out of my mind on THC where I'm just looking into the void and there is only there is only being there is no more Nick and that's been inexplicable I'm not really sure what's going on there mm-hmm not not a very pleasant experience I know what it's like I don't if you've seen that movie by Kubrick 2001 yes I'm not a fan but I think there's some sort of black obelisk or something do you remember that yes okay well there was something like that that was a sort of image about what I am like as God like when I was a solipsist I was God and I was just this if you can picture black on black so I was the black sort of obelisk in a black space and of course there's no space in no time there's just the raw fact of my being but it's sort of like this black on black image where I can't see anything but I have this impression that I'm an oblong sort of rectangular shaped really solid dense piece of metal or evany or whatever it is and after coming to God I realized that there's some sort of symbolic value to this rigid body that's like of a certain length width and breadth the notion of a ruler you know we can think about a ruler in two senses what one like the schoolteacher gives you a ruler to draw straight lines with and it's a standard of measurement right there's that idea of rectitude '''l you know righteousness is built into that straight line and then on the other hand of ruler that's our idea of the ruler one who rules one who is the king so we have the standard the standard of measurement the standard of righteousness the standard of straightforwardness the standard of truth the standard of morality and we also have that notion of a ruler someone that's sovereign when I was a hearts all obsessed it was very bleak it was very black and it was very lonely very very lonely and not a nice place to be but even in the depths of that darkness there was this notion of a ruler of a standard basically of a sovereign king and I was not happy being that king and I was very very very happy when I was able to cede my place and to give that to the one true God now the one true God as it happens is triune so he's not lonely he's not a black ruler sitting in a black universe he is full of life and love and peace and joy and happiness and everything else right so it really is a night-and-day situation where now I have the sun shining on me the glory and the joy and the life of the Trinity and it's wonderful and I'm going to enter into that and I'll be discovering that for all of eternity if God willing I make it to heaven it does so beautiful picture man it does that black rectangle in the dark sky does that resonate with you at all not quite I would say this is more of just an experience of raw terror at the awareness of existence you know where you're just coming to terms with your own existence and that you are not I guess in the black on black example there is no difference between me and existence there is only existence and that you know what I experienced that it's sort of like if I had to pick some sort of religious type thing maybe it'd be pantheists you know which is the heaviest of all of them but it's I sort of do understand that and having experienced it like there is truly no difference between Nick and anything else because Nick is an illusion there is only existence and I I wanted to know sort of how much stock do you caught in the sensation of being convinced yeah I don't trust myself this is one of the central teachings of the Catholic Church is that you should not trust any human being ever not even the Pope but you know you can sort of trust those who admit that they're not trustworthy you can trust those who do not point to themselves but who point to the example of the saints or the example of Jesus Christ and if one of my favorite images of the church is just a series of people pointing to those who are just a little bit higher up on the hierarchy and I'm not speaking about the hierarchy in terms of deacon priest bishop cardinal and pope i'm talking in terms of the hierarchy of holiness so you could have a pope who is a miserable sinner who is pointing up to a child who is a holy and faithful Catholic right so you can have that sort of hierarchy where on one hierarchy the Pope is higher but on another hierarchy the one that I'm talking about the Pope is lower than even a child with a simple faith in God so there's a sort of comfort that I take in that chain of holiness and the hierarchy and the intermediaries and the fact that we have saints of all different degrees and levels and certainly I place myself at the lowest echelon of the hierarchy of holiness but it's comforting having all those in between me and God Almighty because it can be very overwhelming to put you're in the position of a for example a Muslim a good Muslim sees God is completely transcendent there's absolutely no way that God will come down onto earth and to have sort of bridge that gap you have to just resign yourself to the fact that he's the boss he's up in the sky it's his way or the highway and we can't discern his ways we just need to go with his arbitrary will and he's a little bit of a dictator very distant very cold and he's certainly not a father so I want you to connect if possible to that sort of chain is very human and God himself chose to take on a flesh and to be human in all things but sin but to wrap up this part to episode can you talk to the listeners about something you're excited about something positive just talk to us about the very short term future for you for yourself sure well I think I'll talk about probably the most transformative book that red I just finished it since the time that we talked last I read it it was a twelve hundred page book called Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and I think that the ejecta Vista Lassa fee is the closest thing to a religion that I could possibly adhere to and then this has had a very positive impact on my life and I can see it having a compounding interest over the years and the central tenet is this I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man or ask another man to live for mine on its own it might sound harsh and immoral but I encourage whoever's listening to read Atlas Shrugged because I think she makes a very good case for rational self-interest as the highest moral virtue that we can have as humans and for me it's been very liberating and clarifying as a person moving through my life like I love you got some questions and I'll tell all you got to do it all you got to do you got to do