Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-02-17 - Nick Stumphauzer

Author Recorded Sunday February 17th, 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

Nick is a director, writer, speaker, and performer. The Prodigal is in pre production and will follow Nick for a year as he makes an intellectually honest attempt to return to a belief in God after five years of staunch atheism. • Support the CVS Podcast: • Be a guest on a livestream:

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hi my name is Nick Stone poser and you are listening to Catholic versus atheist tell us a little bit about yourself if you would please who you are what you believe and how you came to believe what you believe sure so I am 20 year olds ex Roman / Byzantine Catholic from Michigan I'm a filmmaker and a magician I've been so for the last 12 years and I have a deep passion for performing and the art that goes into presenting something like a movie or a magic trick when I was about 15 I started to try and make the Catholic faith my own and delve into the apologetics and I was so excited by the nature of sophism and debate the back and forth the the intellectual chess match but I was very much Pro God and I wanted to actually write a letter to Penn Jillette so that I could convert him and I have this in my in my journal I when I was 15 I believe that is like if I could just get in five minutes with Penn Jillette I can convert him to Catholicism and through the process of studying the five ways and an Psalms arguments and going through theology class we had a point in class where our teachers started talking about objective truth and the objective truth exists and it is knowable and I had a lot of respect for my theology teacher I thought he used the smartest guy in you know in the world and that summer I was with my grandpa who was also the smartest guy in the world to me when I'm 15 and he made a comment about objective truth he said I don't believe that there is such thing or that we can know it and over the last five years I started to understand more of what he said what he meant I believe was a loose form of agnosticism but at the time it felt in direct conflict with her head outlined and this just spun me into this epistemic black hole and I immediately just hit bedrock and started questioning solutely everything and tried to work my way from the ground up and it was this tailspin that I was put in that really shook me out of Catholicism into about a year of just trying to figure everything out and so I would read know all sorts of books from anyone from Peter Hitchens to Christopher Hitchens to you no Alister McGrath and watch all these debates between William Lane Craig and Sam Harris and just I ingest it as much content as I could and I think the nail in the coffin for me really was Darwin's dangerous idea which is Dan Dennett book and it was then that I started to see the deterministic and biological underpinnings of the world and that to me was sort of the last nail in the coffin of my belief in God and so it's kind of a brief overview how I went from sin about a year and a half and then since then I would call myself an agnostic atheist so if you don't mind can you just talk a little bit about your first memories having to do with religion yeah some of the earliest that I can remember would be attending Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine Catholic Church and when I was very little I mean we're talking three and four years old I wanted to be an altar server and the the priest there said you can be an altar server when you're five so when I turned five years old I became an altar server and I served every single Sunday which was it's a very complicated liturgy compared to the Roman Rite so for a five-year-old that was actually pretty notable and so I remember putting the incense and the Candela and handing it to the priest and the kneeling and the standing and the carrying of the candles around the church and all the in the East we call it the smells and bells of the liturgy so that that goes very early on into my mind do you think that you had a relationship with God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit do you think you were in love with God at any point in your life that's a very so I would say if I'm being intellectually honest no I think I thought I did but I was really just going through the prescriptions say these prayers out of this book right attend Mass do all these things and so I was very much more concerned about the perfectionism of the acts of doing the things saying the prayers correctly posturing myself as a holy person but in the sense of the relationship that I might have with my my dad or my sister or you know anyone who have ever dated in my life I would never say that I had that type of relationship looking back I do remember some emotional experiences at some more charismatic events that I've been to over the years but I was never a charismatic Catholic it always made me very uncomfortable I was far more traditional and so there I'd say there was maybe only a handful of times driver got very emotional in those settings was there a negative reaction from your parents and did you go through a dark period of rebellion as most teenagers do yes to the first part no to the second so I am still repairing the relationships that were splintered by my atheism and I probably will be for a very long time because my mom and I had a strong connection because of our love of Jesus our prayer we would pray for each other we would sit next to each other at Mass we would talk about the sacraments and all these things and so the faith is the most important thing to my mom and so when her son broke off from that it was it was truly catastrophic now in terms of the rebellion I had more of an intellectual rebellion as opposed to a moral rebellion so I just wrote I wrote so much and when I was 18 I published I guess you would call it a memoir a book is a little bit generous called the Agora and it's it's on my website and it's just sort of the culmination of about four years of my idea stick thoughts and I did that under a pseudonym and I would hand out these papers in these essays and whatnot to my friends in my Catholic high school but I think there was a point in there where I I did fall into a pornography addiction for about a year and a half from the end of my junior year for about a year and a half there and that was definitely born of that Dostoyevsky line or he says without God everything is permissible and that was just like the excuse that I needed because the social temptation and the axis was so powerful I don't think it was rationally justified it was just kind of a nudge that I needed I don't know if you can necessarily say that would have been a rebellion it could fall into that category though for sure yeah you're so young there's not really a lot of arc in your character development and I'm not saying that to denigrate you because of your youth I think it's a wonderful thing youth but there's a lot ahead of you you know in terms of intellectual journey in terms of faith journey and it's very typical for people to stray and then come back but can you just talk to me and my audience a little bit about this prodigal project what is the prodigal what is the documentary what motivated it what do you hope to get out of it and what's it all about basically so it's good that you preface that with this discussion of an arc in character because though I had the idea for a little while I had to earn some humility before I could make this film so this is gonna be my second feature documentary and it's gonna be a story of me over the course of the year attempting to disprove my atheism and to return to a belief in God now I say God and not Catholicism because I'd like to start at just answering the question is there God in which to believe you know then maybe we'll make a sequel about okay now what God is it but I had to get to a point where I was honest enough with myself to know when I was lying to myself when am I being dishonest when am i ignoring the perturbations of my conscience of my heart that says you find that convincing that might be true and for so long I was just kind of a dogmatic atheist I don't know that I would say that I was it ever incorrect but I was not an honest atheist in that you know if I was reading an article somebody sent me about God I would dismiss it as quickly as I could because it became uncomfortable if any part of it was you know convincing or starting to change my mind and I began to notice this about myself and through a lot of mindfulness meditation and just maturity I think I realized okay I'm in a place now where if I actually devoted time and attention to this question and I saw the answer I would accept the answer and I wouldn't just try and hold my ego where it is because I've been putting out as an atheist for five years so that's really where this film is stemming from it's going to be a human story about me and I know prodigal refers to money and the use of money but obviously in the parable in the Bible it's the son coming home and that's obviously very symbolic for me as we've discussed the relationship with my family specifically with my mother you know I'm out in the wilderness now I'm spending my inheritance and I'm just curious am I gonna come home or am I going to conclude something else mm-hmm it's all very postmodern oh that's so self referential I mean some of the innocence is tainted by a self-awareness that you're a character in a forthcoming documentary and there's gonna be an arc and it's all a little bit less innocent than anything we've seen prior to say the twentieth century we do live in a special time and I'm not trying to denigrate you your project or even post-modernism even though I think it's silly but there is a reality a certain self-awareness that we have in the communication that we have and the internet and all these sorts of things that are giving us access to information there's a speed and a rapidity with which we can get answers to questions and we're just overwhelmed basically by information by so-called news and entertainment and that the blurring of the line between news and entertainment and it's the same thing with religion I mean I a sincere Catholic I get accused of being a pole or being a fake Catholic on my channel on my youtube channel by atheists who think that I'm far too silly to be a genuinely religious person it just so happens that I have a penchant for the absurd I don't take myself seriously and I certainly don't take a theism seriously so I like to joke around but even in the realm of religion there is that blurred line between when is it serious when is it farcical when is it just pure entertainment there is a certain component for example to the content that I put out with my podcast that is just meant to be silly there's a component that's just meant to be entertaining there's a component that's meant to be taken very seriously and that is meant to be food for thought and there's another supernatural component that is sort of an open secret about my podcast which is that I'm praying for my guests I purchase a perpetual Mass for all of my guests for example I purchased a perpetual Mass for you so every day there will be a mass said for you and your family and so this is something that is very serious I took it very seriously and that's part of the reason why I don't mind losing an argument an intellectual argument to an atheist for example I don't care if I lose the argument that's really speaking of Penn & Teller this is really the magic of my podcast is that it's just a distraction it's an open secret that I could care less about the intellectual content I'm praying for you I've got a mass being said for you every day it's spiritual warfare it's the good angels against the demons and my guardian angel is in solidarity with your guardian angel well I'll tell you what from what I believe about the nature of hell I am still afraid of Hell and I have changed the on the superficial beliefs but I cannot change the underlying gut instinct of I really hope when I close my eyes for the last time that is not where I end up I interviewed a convert from atheism to Catholicism he mentioned that there was a sort of period in time where he wanted to believe but he couldn't intellectually commit and that there was a certain point in time where he toyed with the idea of just faking it til you make it fake it til you make it is a sort of trick that he was taught in Alcoholics Anonymous you just commit to a higher power fake it till you make it and the results will come this is one of these sort of approaches of the 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous now I'm not endorsing these programs I don't think that they are Catholic in any way but on the other hand I think there are saving elements of religious truth outside of the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church so I'm a bit conflicted about that I'd just like to hear your perspective on this sort of fake it till you make it approach it's it's really tough for me because I do feel like Toto who pulled the curtain back and I saw the Wizard and if I just go through my life pretending there's not a wizard I I do feel like I would be just internally destroyed so I don't know that I could do that personally and I think that people who do who have actually seen the wizard whether that they were atheist became Catholic or vice versa I would question my ability to trust them as a person if they could lie to themselves like that seamlessly and just move through life without issue yeah I guess a better analogy the magician would be your father is accused of a horrible crime all of the evidence is stacked against him but in your relationship with him he explains to you that well son it doesn't look good but I promise you there's a perfectly reasonable explanation and I didn't do the crime okay can you see how someone that's religious might have a similar situation where you know what it looks ridiculous to put your faith in Pope Francis or it looks ridiculous to put your faith into the Catholic Church or it looks ridiculous to put your faith even in Jesus Christ but there's some sort of intimacy there that speaks to the heart and then you are able to make a choice based on the heart based on a relationship if I believed that my dad was innocent it wouldn't be a choice it would be because I know he's innocent there's something more than what's going on in my mind and I trust that more and I think it's more true than the evidence that's going on in my mind I've done an extensive amount of research on psychedelics Terence Mckenna and Stanislaus Groff I do a lot of work on that and one of the things that that has opened me up to is this notion that things are a lot more strange than they might seem and the reductionists and the materialists that are often in my camp of the atheists are doing a disservice to the human journey of finding truth by reducing everything to what can be put under a microscope which is what I did for a very long time I think the world is a lot stranger than we might give it credit for because if we thought about that all the time we'd be functionally useless as humans you know we have to reduce things down to bite-sized pieces that we can digest and move through day to day life but if I had that experience with my dad and I had that internal voice that said he's innocent believe him I would be ok with saying there might be something else going on here that the evidence doesn't necessarily point to very briefly then would you say that you are more comfortable with the notion of mystery than your comrades in arms with in atheism yeah I think I probably would be and I think that comes from a lot this idea of agnosticism where it does take a certain amount of arrogance to say I know there is not I know this is impossible I think with the same amount of arrogance that it takes to say I know there is right I know there is a God so this notion of mystery I think I do embrace more just by virtue of my agnosticism do you have a background or an interest I should say in Western philosophy is something you're considering diving deeper into yeah so I find it really easy to get off in the weeds with philosophy scarily so like if you read the wrong books I mean there's a reason why people sent Cohn suicide letters people sent him letters saying after reading your work I'm going to end my life because I no longer have purpose to this for me in my journey I was really really really eager to find a way out of the blackness of hard solipsism even though it's not as dark as nihilism it's pretty lonely being the only being okay so when you're in that place which sounds somewhat similar to where I'm at now in nihilism you were in solids isms you have this existential angst this loss for purpose you know if no one else is actually real than what if life doesn't have an objective foundational meaning then what and there's kind of this life line that was tossed to you but do you think that it was a lifeline of truth or a lifeline of comfort something that helps you stay afloat it was just a comfort that I lepton it was like I had gone so deep into my atheism that I had become God and it was so uncomfortable that as soon as I had that lifeline I just was very eager to take the leap of faith I did not care that it was not a rational leap of faith on my part now having said that I am completely secure intellectually that I am NOT God in that God is God of course now 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 cannot be wrong therefore if I'm wrong I'm not wrong therefore I'm not God therefore God is God so there are actually deductive arguments that prove that I as a contingent being cannot be God that solved the sort of problem of hard solipsism in a way that I didn't think was possible at the time because I didn't have the philosophical understanding so what you believe now you believe is intellectually objectively true do you think it was an accident that you happen upon this set of books this set of whatever it is that got you here everything that happens is the will of God no we need to make that all-important distinction between God's positive will things that he ordains and his permissive will things which he allows for example evil he allows obviously because he can bring a greater good out of it I don't believe at all in randomness if by randomness we mean a violation of the principle of sufficient reason or if by randomness we mean an uncaused cause but I do believe obviously in randomness in the sense in the pragmatic sense that we cannot see the mechanism by which the principle of sufficient reason is satisfied and therefore we cannot predict with reliability so things like quantum physics I studied quantum physics at University and I know that it's a statistical science because there are hard limitations on our ability to know and yet that so-called indeterminacy in no way violates the laws of physics it is a science and there are statistical outcomes that are very reliable the technology that you and I are speaking on right now would not work if quantum physics were unpredictable in that way it is very very predictable it's one of the most well established Sciences in the Natural Sciences in quantum mechanics so it is a science there is a predictable outcome it just happens to be a statistical outcome so somebody who ends up in hell was the active or permissive will of God it's obviously the permissive will of God that someone goes to hell someone chooses against God He willed our existence out of a pure and infinite love and what he wants for us is everything that's good which is himself he is the source of everything that's good so he obviously wants us to go back to him we came from him and he wants us to go back to him that's our mission he wants us to love him and love is by necessity and by definition a free act of the will and so he does not positively will he does not ordain that anyone should be lost obviously that would be monstrous so if somebody did happen to read all the incorrect books just by virtue of where they were raised the ignorance of their parents whatever it might be and at age 32 they realize life is meaningless or whatever it is and they eat a bullet do they go to heaven or do they go to hell god only knows but we we know that God is infinite in His mercy is infinite in his wisdom and infinite in his love and we have to leave it in the hands of God but what God positively wills what he ordains is that we obey the Pope and that bishops that teach in union with the church that is to say the Living Magisterium you have to listen to the church because God said you have to listen to the church is God there by bound to the rules that the church imposes on you no he's not so if someone has extenuating circumstances in God of course knows every extenuating circumstance and if someone has mental illness and the genetics and environment were such that they killed themselves but that suicide did not entail a hatred of God or a hatred of life it just happened to be a sad and tragic confluence of all kinds of dark stuff stemming of course from sin both original and actual God understands all of that and we don't need to worry about the eternal salvation of anyone except for ourselves and those that are in our care under our Authority what would it look like if you David were incorrect if you were wrong there's a three pole spectrum of doubt and faith and reason that I use to position myself in the one true religion and all three components are necessary I can't just have faith I can't just have reason I can't just have doubt and I can't just have any combination of two I need all three and I need all three in a balanced way I can doubt not in an active way because that's forbidden by the church I cannot actively doubt that the Catholic Church is the one true church because I'm Catholic so I'm not allowed to doubt it but I can play with the ideas just like st. Paul does in the Bible like in today's second reading st. Paul says if Christ was not raised from the dead then we are the most foolish of men so he is allowed to use a conditional in order to explore a doubt what would it mean what are the logical implications he can use a reduction to absurdity to explore your faith and it's not an active doubt st. Paul did not have an active doubt that Jesus Christ rose from the dead but he examined it he's turned it over in his hands examining it looking at it what would it mean if the opposite were true and it's a way of firming up your faith it's a way of strengthening your faith so it's the same thing with my daily examination of my faith I can doubt that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and then I'm back to a sort of Protestant religion and then I can look at the Bible and someone can critique the Bible the authority of the Bible and take that away from me and then I'll end up in a sort of monotheism and then from there we can apply more doubt and remove belief in God and then I'm back to solid citizen so it's really arbitrary where do we stop doubting I came to faith through radical doubt through the radical doubt characterized most famously by Rene Descartes applying my skepticism led me to her determinism and then hurt solipsism and then by the grace of God I was brought out by Rene Descartes but all of this to say that there is no reason to arbitrarily limit the amount of doubt if someone wants to attack my Catholic faith I'm willing to go with them to doubt it to go back to a sort of Protestant Christianity and then to doubt that and to go back to a generic monotheism and from there to go back to hard solipsism so I I have no fear of doubt doubt is my friend and it has to be balanced and counterbalanced by both faith and reason and even you yourself have faith in the other you have faith in the real world otherwise you wouldn't be talking to me right now so you have to acknowledge that you do have a certain amount of faith so what is this active doubt that you've specified that the church does not permit like what's the difference between that and what you just described that you're allowed to have I know a girl who is a very very devout convert to the Catholic faith she like you had sort of a commitment to these externals and she was very involved in the community and this and that and her prayer life it was all very palpable and all very real and intimate and she for some reason had a disappointment in her personal life and it was connected with a series of prayers that she had been saying to get a certain outcome and she said okay well it seems like prayer doesn't work so she neglected her prayers and when she stopped praying it took three or four weeks before she had completely lost faith in everything so that's an example I think of how you can have an active doubt and that active doubt even though it seems harmless at the time within a month she lost her faith completely now she's a militant atheist I look at that as a point of data in my assessment of what is ultimate reality and I say I'm gonna keep wrangling you know what I don't want to lose my faith I love my faith it's like the pearl of great price I want to hold on to it and the way to hold on to it is to listen to the church and the church commands me to have a prayer life and to partake of the sacraments worthily and not to entertain active doubt like she did and like I am tempted to do when I'm looking at the Eucharist which looks like a piece of bread in the hands of a man dressed up in robes so do you can you see perhaps how that prescription from the church against active doubt might sound to atheist ears that if I just take this one step the whole game falls apart because my conversion was existential I have a different perspective on religion generally than your average Joe Blow has a sort of default philosophical position which is more akin to naive realism and it's not to aggrandize my story or to puff myself up I am nothing you know I'm nothing God is everything but there is a certain depth that I have philosophically and existentially that a lot of converts don't have and certainly a lot of cradle Catholics don't have where things are just taken for granted and there's a lot of naive assumptions things that have never ever ever been questioned and that's why I encourage a theists and even people that already have a secure worldview to doubt everything and to doubt it in a way that is constructive and that is not disruptive which means that they need to approach their doubt responsibly you can continue in your faith journey and in your devotion whatever that devotion is but you can still reach down to that bedrock what is the bedrock upon which your faith is built and I can tell you that I'm very very very confident in my faith because I've plumbed the depths and I continue to reassess and reevaluate and to dig and to put myself in touch with that bedrock foundation every day and pretty much all day every day and I can still enter into the mindset of solipsism and it's still a psychedelic and trippy when I do that I try not to do this too often because I think there is a danger in this but I am able to enter into a solipsistic state of mind where I see everything as a video game everything as an illusion Maya as the people in the East say so I hope that answers your question but I do have another question for you which has to do in an indirect way with what I'm talking about and that is the religions of the East Buddhism in particular because I see a very very very strong connection between my heart solipsism and atheistic Buddhism so can you talk with that yeah so it's funny because that seems to be the trend that I see happen a lot somebody is religious and then they become an atheist and then they adopt secular Buddhism because it's hip to be a secular which is exactly what I did yeah Buddhism I think there's there's so much great about it but so it could have been the substance that I used to reach the state of ego death but I have felt what I think they describe as Nirvana and ivana and ego death and I will tell you it is hell that is why I fear the Catholic hell because if it's anything close to what I experienced that one day I do not want anything to do with it so I'm I don't get with the drawers because from you know my brush with that it seems pretty horrible but I do find a lot of wonderful nuggets and they're about consciousness and the attachment to things the attachment to emotions to outcomes you know I do mind my diva pasta 20 minutes every morning mindfulness meditation and I don't know what I'm missing but it doesn't click with me like it does with other people I think for the most part it's kind of just this Pinterest cultural hipster craze where it's you know it's cool to be a Buddhist because they're nice calm people and they eat white rice hmm have you looked into Zen Buddhism at all I think so yeah most of my knowledge of Buddhism comes from close friend of mine who is quote/unquote trained in Buddhism and then all of what sam harris has documented in waking up and sort of his meditative practices do you mind revealing what the psychedelic drug was so I miscalculated by a factor of eight keen on a concentrate of THC so it was a liquid form of marijuana and it was you know supposed to be a rather enjoyable period of a few hours and because it was roughly 550 milligrams as opposed to like 25 milligrams for about three days I was incapacitated and the acute point of a few hours was pure ego death where there was no more Nick there was just existence and there are no words that I could ever use to describe the agony of just being and I'm it's it sounds like from a little bit of what you said you understand very much what I'm saying yeah and I actually overdosed on THC myself many years before my conversion and it was hellish it really was hellish yeah it's probably the worst experience I've ever had was overdosing on THC but I was eating hash and I didn't realize it takes a while to kick in so I just kept eating it you know as I was young and stupid and had a hippie party music festival and oh man basically we've had the same experience you and I we've confronted the same abyss of being and it's dark it's very dark so there's an experience I had where I broke my wrist biking on them on the mountain there's a mountain in Montreal called Mount Royal and I just fell off my bike and broke my wrist and I was in denial for two weeks I'm like no it's not broken and then my arm turned green and like okay maybe I should go to the hospital so denial is a very powerful thing right but ultimately when push comes to shove we human beings can be pushed into reality so I went to the doctor and I had two surgeries but for one of my surgeries they put me out with a general anaesthetic it's the first time and the only time so far that I've been put under general anaesthetic and I enjoyed it so much that the first thing I said to the nurse when they brought me out is why did you wake me up why didn't you leave me there because I really really enjoyed it and if you asked me what was it like I can't tell you because I have no memory but I really really enjoyed it I know that much and I think it's a mystical experience I think that it's a contact with God this is like within you know a year probably of my conversion experience I think it's very very significant do I have a good convincing argument to tell you that it's connected no I don't but it's another existential experiential thing this time very very positive but how do you interpret my little story there and what impression does it give you so there was an episode of house where house walks into the clinic and the patients sitting on the hospital bed and the patient pulls out a pocketknife and house thinks he's about to get stabbed and the patient runs toward the wall and jams it into an outlet and electric eats himself so that they have to resuscitate him and when it comes to house asked and you know why the hell did you do that and he said well three weeks ago I got hit by a car and they had to resuscitate me and the doctor said I was dead for ninety three seconds in those 93 seconds for the most incredible 93 seconds of my life and he was trying to get back there so things like that are exactly why at some point perhaps when I'm not under the jurisdiction of my parents because I out of respect for them I'm not doing it in their home I'm gonna be taking about 1.6 grams of psilocybin mushrooms I think there's something there to be explored you know I am familiar with the Tibetan Book of the Dead the work of stanislav grof Terence Mckenna and people who just who died are clinically dead and there is something that happens there and I believe you when you say there is something there is it there there if you came to believe that God is real and that he's infinitely loveable do you think that you would be inclined to love that God that you suddenly discovered what do you mean by love st. Thomas Aquinas said that as soon as we recognize that we can derive benefit from a person we begin to love that person what love is is that desire to move towards the good we all want the same things and all those good things reside in one in the same source even the atheistic Greek philosophers knew that all of these Goods reside in one and the same source and some of them did call that God but even if you don't call it God there is this notion that we move toward with our appetite we move toward that which we desire and of course we can desire a lesser good and that can be less good for our health for example I'm a fond of chocolate and sweets and although chocolate and sweets are good in their place and in the proper proportion I tend to overdo it and that can lead me away from a health so the epicurean philosophers in ancient Greece talked about having a balanced approach to diet and exercise and all these sorts of things we can maximize our pleasure so even the hedonist and the Epicureans understood that there's a certain sophistication to our desires we can't just indulge them at a base level we need to educate our desires we need to balance things in order to maximize our happiness so this isn't necessarily limited to a religious context we can talk about the good we can talk about our desires so God is not just a bigger better man up in the sky but if we extrapolate to God's ultimate goodness there will be an ultimate willingness to love them now do we have a choice in that or is it just our nature well this is the mystery I'm completely comfortable with the tension that exists in that mystery of the free will in the mystery of life itself I mean you and I both stared into the abyss we know that it's overwhelming and that we are nothing and that being itself is awesome and awful so what do you believe is the difference between you and me that makes me an atheist and you a Catholic I mean I don't know I still to this day don't know if I ever really was an atheist and I don't actually know if any atheist so-called actually is an atheist I really don't know that's an open question for me it might be the case but I'm leaning towards the probability the no one really dis believes in God it's just a childish way of indulging in sin now the difference between you and me is not great and there's a Bible story that illustrates this very very sobering Lee there were two sons that were told to go out into the field and work one of them said yes father and then didn't go the other said no father and then did go so in terms of the prodigal son you and I don't know which of us will have the higher place in heaven you and I don't know if God forbid one of us or both of us will end up in hell and which would have the lower place in hell everything is possible and it's very sobering for me to look at you a young atheist and to humble myself and say you know what God I'm not better than this young man I'm humbled by the other I'm taught by my church that it is a mortal sin to place myself above any human being so we we need to be humbled at the end of my interviews I do ask my guest to give a little closing thought a positive message of hope so just to wrap up the show what do you think you might be able to say to anyone that's out there listening now I guess I would just say that if I can put one foot in front of the other and wake up every morning then you should be able to as well there is some reason to keep going forward for the last three years I have been in very dark places and there is some reason to still be here right I have confronted that question I've looked at it from all different angles and I have concluded that at least for today I'm not going to end it and there's a reason for that if you like it will do if you've got some questions at the end I'll tell all you got to do it all you got to do got to do it all you got to do