Catholic vs. Atheist - 2017-01-13 - Stephen Poitras

Author Recorded Friday January 13th, 2017

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

Stephen is an old friend. We have enjoyed many a game of chess, and many a game of squash. This was a great opportunity to get to know each other a little better on another level.


Catholic vs. Atheist - 2017-01-13 - Stephen Poitras

Author Recorded July 30th, 2016

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hi my name is Stefan and you're listening to Catholic vs. 80s talk a little bit about yourself who you are what you believe in wine believe it working stiff family man raised I guess Catholic at least culturally Catholic I believe in love you know the pleasures of life I believe in death I believe in evolution I believe in science I'm pretty scientific minded I have a scientific background I believe in love I have for my children my family basically anything you can experience or test yeah pretty much everything I can experience her test yeah was there a time where you believe in the God that I worship not really no I never felt anyways right i mean a it was taught to me did you go through the motions of going to church as a child very little you know sort of a christmas make sure here absolutely it was ostensibly a Catholic school I guess we didn't reset a prayer every morning it's just by wrong tree would repeat every sodemogi pamela got a lot on the line and did you not pray at night motor back very rarely were you invited to play by your mother for example no no who would you say has more faith your mother or your father I'm my father now and when Tyler's disease my mother is actually went to a very she was trained as a nurse and was educated by nuns and lived in a convent essentially and there was pressure on her to become a anonymous and directly at least in her no one is forcing and twisting her arm and she was part of this generation that in Quebec especially that really rejected Catholicism right she's of that generation so she rejected it wholeheartedly and to this day she's very anti church and my father who deceased but he was out of much more curiosity about the subject especially in the last years of his life okay so he would start going to church on his own right the cell I'll go have a look and see what's going on and listen to what the priests eyes would say so and but as I was growing up he never really went to church this later on in his life and I'm an adult and I already moved out of home that he would start attending church service and release in a while so it was never an issue of conflict between your father and your mother not a big deal no no it was just growing interest near the end of his life yeah the approaching death was that a backer I it was even before he knew he was sick this interest is growing in local heart I guess as he approached death was spirituality something that he was attached to the in terms of hope of an afterlife or something like that I don't I don't get that sense no maybe it was but we never discussed it and it wasn't like a deathbed conversion or anything like that no no no the death was it was it was a cancer and we were very violent and fast so I don't think he had any energy to even contemplate the higher order of things and maybe he did yeah I don't know you know he didn't discuss it do you feel more like your mother or more like your father in your personality I'd say more like my father I want to see me again can you talk a little bit about your home life with your wife and kids and what role the church plays are not sure well my wife is a practicing Catholic and she wants you know to raise our children as Catholics so she attends church services she tries to convince the children to go with her and once in a while and she's very involved in her church and she raises our children as Catholics yeah but what effect has that had on you just in terms of the state's day living well you know she likes to say a prayer before meal for example I think that's fine right often a prayer of thanking God for the bounty that we have and asking God to help others that aren't so fortunate right and I agree with that wholeheartedly there any min the sense that I am grateful for the bounty that I have in my life right abundant food warmth clothing security and I'm very thankful for that so I don't mind thanking God even though I don't really know what that means you know or even really care that much I'm like to be thankful right for what I have and I like to you know feel for others in art so for sure and hope that things turn out better right so again to me god I don't know what if you had any role in this or whatever it doesn't matter to me right I just want to express if I like expressing that hope you know in your heart of hearts and maybe some of your darkest loneliest moments have you ever reached out to God out of desperation you know you don't believe yeah yeah I've done not sure when things are really good I tend to reach out to God so to speak to be thankful right like what what have I done to deserve this okay and when things are going bad I swear at God quote-unquote hey why are you doing this to me so self-pity anyway but it's not like in a time of desperation I don't call out for help and that's most never been something strangely that but I've done okay the time of desperation i damned god okay and good times i'm thankful yeah so how do you explain your existence where do you think you came from yeah although I mean that's something I've thought about quite a bit right from the point of view of science obviously right and I've studied geology in a lot a history of time you know the dust that was this planet before it consolidated and became a planet and how there was no oxygen on this planet is just a ball of hot magma until it cooled off and had a crust and eventually water and eventually oxygen and eventually you know unicellular beings and then eventually multicellular organisms and eventually more and more complexity right so a belief of where I come from is that soup you know where did that seat come from I don't know or Alchemist or another question that would you really don't know would you say it but just I just have to add that I'm not uncomfortable not knowing that like it's the same other end of life right when i die and i know i will die right I'm not anxious about knowing what is in the afterlife I'm assuming there's just nothing right I'm here for a discrete period of time and whenever I make the best of it because it's only go out for me another 40 years and then how do you explain morality if there's not no lasting consequence to the choices you make I tend to look at it evolutionarily you know like I do choices to help my offspring you know essentially and I think that as you're building organisms the best way to do is just to help each other out for the survival of the entire species right but I know that there's weaknesses in that argument obviously because we're destroying the planet we live on right as collectively that's what we're doing you know there is certainly some choices that feel better than others as well right and I know that when I hurt people it doesn't feel as good is when I help people her name why is that I don't know right is that just again like a biology the evolution that you know we're no or not I'm on but I know that there is evil right we see it every day we see you know there's a terrible war going on in Syria right now and we see the refugees flooding trying to escape and we see ourselves or western world doing not very much about it right so that makes me feel guilty as well right like why am I not doing more to help my fellow citizens I feel cheap you know this is in my nice comfortable bubble of the Western world and the war mouse with a nice job and my family it doesn't feel good to do nothing right so I could do nothing which is an ok choice I could do hurt people which be the worst choice nor only on this and I could even better I mean I could help actually make an effort and sacrifice myself to help others which is you know I realizes the right choice but i don't really do it that much there's a principle in christianity which is to deal with your immediate surroundings like if you have kids so your first responsibility is to your wife and kids and even jobs your responsibilities to go to your job so there's a sort of danger that some people fall into where they think that it's in Africa or Asia that they need to be helping those poor people over there so I think you're doing a good job and you're doing a lot you contribute and yours sacrificing but I want to talk a little bit about the universe in geological time and I think you will agree that there was a time in the universe where there was no biological life right for sure man and I think you will agree also that there's the time in the future were biological life no longer sustainable on this prior to me in the emerging leaders I don't know like wouldn't necessarily say that entropy you've heard of entropy yeah yeah I've heard of entropy for sure and will be universe peter out i guess i don't know but yeah maybe it'll peter out do you think that life comes from non-life meaning that molecules yeah i ended i fell into bad that i think is possible yeah okay yeah i think it's possible it's extraordinary right yet i think it's possible there's a point in life in time when there was a very simple life on this planet and it went on for a long time nothing happens for a billion years the planets 4.5 billion years old the first life appears about a billion and a half years ago and then nothing happens for a billion years except these very simple simple simple life forms until two of these life forms sort of fused together maxima apparently by that right what else could it be what else could it be all right i love and then and the odds of this happening is like incredible but it happened do you think that the physical universe is eternal that it's infinite in time in both directions or do you think there's a beginning in time and or an end in time for the physical universe again way beyond my knowledge of science right and i think both both are possible and i don't know which one is right missus okay you don't favor one viewer then I who might answer these gears okay certainly someone must have thought about this familiar at least philosophic I'm sure someone has yeah typically I'm sure someone has I'm not sure if I told you it's untenable to have infinite time behind us in the past if you read to somewhere and you know this to be the other doctor there's a proof the others no softball proof and it has to do with cause and effect see your amount of science you believe in cause and effect yeah well do you think your mind is only an epic phenomenon of your brain activity or is there a supernatural component to your mind I think my mind is controlled by my body okay I think that for example the bacterial flora in my gut affects my mind saying I have no doubt that it affects your mind but is there anything beyond the physical no well I mean there's sure there's a cultural that affects my mind right I mean I'm a product of the culture i live in but how does that get plumb because your mind to people like user your five senses yeah which is physical sure so are you a materialist do believe in the supernatural or not no I don't believe this if you don't believe in us or not no it's not no do you believe in randomness true randomness now I think there's some sort of order right things obviously organize themselves it's like this cloud of Stardust that we had from a billion years ago has ordered itself to us I mean it's not exactly randomness but it doesn't mean it's God exerciser you know necessarily well know that and what I don't want to do is ascribe things that I don't know as being divine right something to you know like that's ours I don't want to having with this where I'm heading with this is that if you are a materialist and if you're an atheist you are obligated rationally to be a determinist meaning that there is no free will there is no morality there is no responsibility there is no praise there's no blame to the extent that there is praise and blame it's just the working out of that deterministic sister what and if it if I'm an atheist I must be a determinist as i right what is the VI was a determinist believes that there is no uncaused affect every effect has a cause the acs doesn't have god so therefore all of his causes are natural which means that everything is subject to science everything right every thought that you have every feeling that you have is in principle measurable in your brain activity in principle everything in principle is subject to natural science and what this does is eliminate personal responsibility picture that Judge climbing down as gavel and saying death sentence for you buddy it's true a big machine working itself out there is no real guilt in the criminal and there's no real judgment in the judge nothing has any meaning it's just a perfectly well oiled machine running its course if you don't have the supernatural right the problem with atheism is that they want to have their cake and eat it too they want to deny God and deny the supernatural but have quantum fluctuations true randomness and have free will and to be able to be self-determining and have morality and all these such things the problem is that you can't have both you can have God in morality and freedom or you can have everything being a hundred percent natural it's very binary in your mind or any other it's not binary in my mind it's binary by definition by definition right yeah because there's no wiggle room there's no way to escape it either everything is determined by a natural cause and effect or not and if you're willing to say not you're racing with supernatural by definition if you value free will and if you value morality you owe it to yourself to start looking at the supernatural because that used by definition involved a morality this is all like mental masturbation ready for me it just like would Jesus be talking about these things that would he didn't know helping others yeah he would generally he'd be in his heart loving I hope that it's clear to my friends at least that philosophy and playing with ideas is my hobby and if I am pushy and annoying with my hobby I hope that doesn't give Jesus Christ a bad name right now yes we're waiting me it's leading me to God I mean this is the whole point this is the reason that I've converted one of the contributing factors i guess i could safely say jesus said seek and ye shall find and when I am exploring philosophy or even other religions when I talk to someone with another face I feel like I'm exploring God and I see God mainly in people I'm most interested in people and in people's minds and people's hearts and people's stories particularly their love stories and the relationship with God and how they see differently and when two people district you look something they can't both be right they could both be wrong but they can't both be right I think my day of love and friendship has to do with allowing the other person to be kudiye and to appreciate that and to let them have free expression of their perspective on truth to me love and truth are very closely related and what's most disappointing in a friendship is when someone doesn't accept my expression of truth as I see hit that's a very frustrating thing for me that's a very upsetting so I think my ideas love has to do with freedom truth and also catering to basic needs do you help people you love are you a charitable person do you and your concept of loving people and love it you know being a Christian when you see someone that the Metro cold shivering you help them you feel a need to help them is that why either you give them money knowing that from my perspective it's not the money it's the love behind the money it's the Prairie and the money this physical world is still transient and so passing and God allow suffering and I can alleviate sufferings of those closest to me that's my primary duty and if I brought home every homeless person from the metro that I met which I'm inclined to view my marriage would end very quickly I could do that but I choose not to so I give money to the poor and I give my friendship to the poor I talk to them a listen to them and I pray for them that's my mission of the Christian is to pray for the true and lasting conversion of people pray for the Holy Souls and purgatory those have passed on like your father I bought you of Perpetual mass for you and your family and that includes your parents and that includes your deceased father so that means that if he's in purgatory right now he's getting massive said for him every day helping him get at perkatory even now he is grateful to me for that gesture of love and he will pay that forward so god only knows how all of this plays out but i think that prayer is a very charitable act and i take it seriously and I think getting my friends to heaven I can't think of anything better and who goes to heaven for what happens when we die I guess that maybe that would give my question will bad what happened your soul is separated from your body so your soul is a supernatural spirit that has no part it's simple and it is created at conception that full that he gave you is then transformed by you and judged by him afterwards no he he gives you a soul which is subject to the domination of Satan because of the original sin of Adam and Eve the soul that he gives you is worthy of hell that's why we need baptism so you get baptized by the church and if you receive that sacrament worthily and if you live your faith and your faithful to your baptismal vows that were made on your behalf by your parents you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus from original sin and from actual sin you committed that's why people used to delay the baptism until later in life ok so then God looks at this and he judges you the soul you're just confronting the truth about who you are the choices I made so I go to God and I say listen I I didn't do bad that didn't be much good I'm just sort of a normal Joel what are you going to do with me now no it'll be you'll be horrified by all of your failings all the things you did wrong when you did evil what did i do evil yeah oh yeah really yeah and you'll be horrified because your eyes will be open and you'll see it okay and you'll be horrified about all the opportunities to do good that you didn't do no my god I'm aware of yeah and you will see all the graces that you've received okay and you'll be in awe of the goodness of God and how he gave you everything that we gave you okay and then like because the outcome is heaven or hell those are the two out colors of the chunk okay yeah they are they equally populated we don't know okay we don't know I like to think that there aren't many people in hell but if you look at the writings of the Saints a lot of them are saying that there are a lot of people going out and it horrifies me to think that that that's the case but I accept it if it is the case i like to think that people go to heaven that people love God they say yes to God but ultimately the Church teaches that it is the choice of the individual I do you love God and you say yes to God and you let God into your heart or you don't and I think that that kind of selfish spiteful hatred is extremely rare you talk about the bell curve I think it's extremely rare I like to see the bulk of humanity suffering the purgatory but I'm actually going to heaven masochist recitative know you want to be people suffer no it's not because I want the I lightning thing no no it's not because I want that it's because the holiness and the perfection that you need is remarkable the reason it's remarkable is because it's rare I don't want people to suffer in purgatory that's why I'm praying for the souls in purgatory I don't want your father to be in purgatory but if you don't experience purification before you die you have to experience it after you die that's what purgatory is so it's not a sadistic wish on my part I don't wish anyone hell I don't wish anyone purgatory I which everyone goes straight to heaven but to do that you need to do certain things that which is all sanctification here below so that we have the sacraments right and for that we have in prayer for that we have selfless heroic virtue so neither your bleep right these are the teachings of the church and you believed it would ya what does that mean for you to have a belief for me conversion was playing with the same ideas but just having those assumptions change and then the same logic applies but you get different results it's just the logical consequence it's just like I was talking about determinate of it Renee theists when you examine the basic fundamental assumptions that we all make you may change your mind about the assumption and then everything else will change I like to use the example of someone who sees video footage of their beloved husband walking clearly and obviously into a whorehouse okay the sort of natural and excusable reaction would be oh my god this guy's cheating on me and he's unfaithful and imagining all kinds of worst-case scenarios but there are actually other explanation as possible we can write a story right now that would explain it away right religious faith is just well I don't believe that he's unfaithful I think there's a perfectly good explanation for why went into that place and in my mind his reputation is not solely by the fact that he went in there so it really is about who you trust and why and I trust god I know who God is and I trust God and that knowledge of God came about because of asking the tough questions existential questions Who am I where do I come from what is morality do you think your life is important yeah yeah I think every human life is important I think everything is important but would it make much of a difference if he died or whether you die in five years or whether you had already died five years ago would it make much difference the most important thing in terms of the timing of my death is that I die in a state of grace it's not a completely black and white thing got to do whatever you want but if you want to go to heaven probably it's best to strive always to do what's safest you know you can survive jumping out of an airplane without a parachute I think it's better to put on the person so that's what I'm trying to do and what happens like that you've heard of miscarriages right the church says very clearly that we leave that in God's mercy and that we trust fully in His mercy I'm comfortable with whatever reality is I'm very comfortable with it even if i go to how uncomfortable with it you know it's gonna be really horrible but I trust God and I believe that if I end up in hell that's the best thing that could happen objectively speaking subjectively it's going to be the worst thing that could happen that's why I'm trying to avoid him I love once a book about a German guy who had escaped it Tibet during the Second World War and he ended up being a teacher to the Dalai Lama on to present Alabama when he was five six seven years old and he describes people digging a hole so every time they'd see a bug they kneel down take the bug put it aside keep digging the hole you know different faiths have different ways of seeing all these questions that you'd be honored deeply about right to someone from the outside looking at the couch right I think it's important to make our decision not based on are you vegetarian or not I think we need to go deeper what is the best case scenario and what is the worst-case scenario if there's no difference between the best case scenario and the worst-case scenario then there is by definition no basis for morality period and you can do what you want the outcome will be the same what about cultures who don't have this concept this are they more vicious than catholics when you look at it as an anthropologist you see people who don't have concepts of Heaven and Hell being more violent I see people as people everyone everyone has the same source and the same goal life and death North is light on the corner desks or serve God and the goal is God okay so everyone was created gratuitously my god and everyone is destined forgot everyone and so the window dressing I'm an atheist I'm a Buddhist I miss that's just a very thin veneer over the human heart in that heart of hurt God knows if you love him god knows what you're doing and when you're being social when you're not and when you're sacrificing and when you're not and that the only thing that matters actions don't matter you actions do matter your actions flow from that but in terms of action you know I can't tell the difference Jane atheists in the Buddhist or a Catholic I can't because they're all creatures of God and they're all they all have conscience right I don't think that I'm better than anyone else i don't think that i am more important important or that i do more you know i don't i think we're all nice is actually in both i just am aware so when it comes time for judgment I'll be judged more harshly than at the Buddhist because the Buddhist wasn't aware of what God is and what God wants right what do you think Jesus would do a few is here today in this world that we live in would it be a critic of the church you think in the book of revelation of the last book in in the Christian Bible Jesus chastises the churches because of either the lack of faith or their selfishness or their hypocrisy that's a big one right if you look at the life of Jesus it's always Jesus coming down really really hard on his pee the Jews the Pharisees described a hypocrite right and being very very gentle to the prostitutes and the sinners the regular people because the Jews are the chosen people they've been entrusted with the truth and so they're subject to more criticism and it's the same thing in the book of Revelation when the first Christian churches are growing up there in a privileged position and they should know better and so they're getting chastised by Jesus I think if you read the history of the papacy if you read the history of the council if you read the history of the church in general you'll see that this church is always struggling and it's always full of sinners and as a Catholic I need to reconcile that reality that greedy ugly reality with the other side of the coin which is that it is the mystical body of Christ it's the Bride of Christ it's the perfect society it's infallible so there are two sides to that coin always I think seen this fallen world so I'm very comfortable with that and I think that if Jesus were here today he would recognize the good and he would recognize the evil and he would chastise the selfish hypocrites myself included so I welcome that wholeheartedly and that's part of the day-to-day humility of being Christian is knowing that that judgment is coming you know I could happen right now before you had done the sentence Jesus could come again so we need to be ready that's a sense of urgency that we have questions that we should have how do you feel about the Christians that are persecuted in this world and I get more broadly anyone who's persecuted really and whether they be Jews or Muslims or you know there's a lot of religious persecution and what are you doing do to try to caltrain a door number one is prayer I know you don't think highly of prayer but I think very highly of prayer and Jesus said that the persecuted are blessed and that they should sing and dance and rejoice if they're persecuted for his name for Jesus name I think that Jesus loves the devote to the devout Muslim God knows what his relationship is with that individual if that individual is suffering he sees the suffering of his son and I think that Jesus is to be found most in those that have persecuted those that are suffering those that have betrayed those are their misunderstood and the poor and the weak and that's the way that the Church teaches me to see the underprivileged so I like to ask my guests to just wrap up with a little final thought what would you say to anyone who's listening there's some beautiful things you said right and there's some things that just seemed frankly ridiculous to me and I leave this conversation ceiling no more faith than i did before right i spoke to a woman and she's a Catholic a wonderful woman and they would clean the feet of the homeless people right they bandaged them up they would give him new socks that they had knitted and send them off again that is sacred Rhea she's doing something to help someone it talking about you know whether or not your soul you know is ripped apart from your body but you know things are fantastic and totally useless I think you know Jesus would laugh at us just relax you know and just try to help other people try to lead a good honest life be helpful and you know your life will be over soon enough anyway right make the best of it while you're here right and try to save the planet that's the big worry for me is that this planet is going to implode that's what we've got to avoid a lot more than figuring out if I should be a Muslim or a Christian or a Jew or whatever right this planet this is the ark all you got and I can one of you if you can get rockin questions a piano

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