Catholic vs. Atheist - 2019-02-05 - Michael

Author Recorded Tuesday February 5th, 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

Michael reached out to me by email. His mother was at one time a Byzantine Catholic Nun for 13 years before meeting Michael's father, who had studied at Catholic Seminary. He lost his faith as a young adult and now identifies as Atheist. • Support the CVS Podcast: • Be a guest on a livestream:

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hi my name is Michael 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 well I am in more recent years I kind of came to conclusion that I was an atheist my mother used to be a byzantine catholic nun for about i think 13 years and my dad also studied at a Catholic seminary in Pittsburgh to be a priest my father is very interesting guy highly educated very well educated for his Bachelor security majored in classics and I think minored in philosophy and he taught me logic philosophy and all that of stuff when I was a kid I used to read his own college books that he had on a shelf and some Landers I understand and grasp of things theological and philosophical it was things to him reading those books was a little bit more advanced for my age to be able to grasp certain things but uh in a sense it was because of him and how he taught me that I went on my own and kind of came to the conclusion myself that to start to stray away is that as he always told me that one of the pillars of Catholicism is logic and he always taught me to approach things logically my parents both of them always told me question your faith and one of two things will happen you'll grow stronger in your face or you won't split away from it but either way you'll find an answer to your questions that's kind of how I how I viewed I look at an objective Oh interesting yeah I I agree with your parents that's a good approach I think everyone should question why they believe what they believe but I just want to get a little bit more biography can you paint a little picture of some of the earliest memories that have to do with religion or with God can you just reach back as far as you possibly can to some of the earliest impressions like the smell of incense at church when you were very young or maybe being on your knees beside your bed praying with your mother or something like that can you talk about the earliest memories that you have related to religion please oh yeah I mean a lot more so my earliest and strongest memories and as you know Catholics go to church early in in the morning and when your kid like but uh my dad or wake of the Blake is suck this but you like 7:00 a.m. in the morning on Sunday and he's gonna wake up and I'm like I'm like why we have to get the church I'm like 7:00 a.m. didn't start till 8:00 as we got it get good seats and I'm like God doesn't care where you sit in the church just as long as you're there but my dad always found a way to be kind of even when you're frustrated kind of yelled a joke with it laughed off but some of my earliest memories were my earliest memory I remember and this is clearly it's rare for someone to remember this far back sometimes but this one of my few memories at this age that I have is baptized I think it was like 16 or 18 months so it was usually it's you're you're just a couple months old and you're baptized but nians a little bit later I remember being have my head put in the water and then in poured water of the priest put on form water over me and me crying not knowing what is going on because you're having water report on you are splashed on you and and to my knowledge I'm trying to kick scream and as any child would because you you're scared and don't know what's going on but years after that I mean even though church was never a thing with me it was that I do have good memories of of sometimes being there because of the people that were there and had friends that I used to play with there or or a lot of times that after church family and the and other parishioners would go I would go and fill out just two breakfasts at this other place is kind of like a every Sunday after church thing and all that that was that was pretty nice and yes there was incense and a lot of things I do remember Christmas or Easter vigilance or something like that a lot of your strong the strongest memories are tied to two important events need whether it's secular or not when Christmas is the mass is time for Christmas so that's going to be a part you're going to associate that it's going to be part of part of your memory same with Easter Vigil I sometimes help my dad build a fire pit at the church to be as part of the Easter Vigil we had there and burning of the the calls for Ash Wednesday or something like that but my dad made especially my dad made an effort to kind of make it memorable so it influenced us and it influences me in certain way to be able to develop you know as I was growing up I remember he used to always take me to do certain things whether it was religious or not classical music concerts clays like the Pirates of Penzance and different things like that years later I asked him why did you take me off all those things he said I want to call through you I wanted you to be aware that there is a world outside of where you live and these are the things that are part of that and including Catholicism is full of it and it is full of that as well and he wanted to because where I live and where I live presently is he's had moonshine capital of the world I mean probably back in 60 some some people that were working the factories here didn't even know how to write their names so you have a rural area you there's not very much opportunity for a lot of a lot of blue-collar people and one of the things is my parents come from Pennsylvania and dad's Pittsburgh side about an hour and a half south of Pittsburgh my mom's from the other side of the state and there's a lot more culture up there there's a lot more mixture of different the same difference the sexes and different wings of the Catholic Church Orthodox face from my mom's side and you have different things you have different influences because you have different cultures different countries and people from different things coming together down the further south you go the less that the less that is I mean my mother used to be able to speak and read Russian and because her parents are Russian and when she came down here for the course of the years she lost language because there's no one here speak if the only the only people here or the at the time in 78 for the dukes of hazzard people there but it was that's what it was like but I grew up with the sharp contrast to that and teaching me a lot my dad used to be a Latin teacher so they had couples with the Catholic Church there and my all this different stuff so when I went outside to play with friends when I went outside to go to school or something I was always kind of felt kind of outside of it because my mom and dad taught me it was from a different part of the United States or more a much different area than than what these kids are used to I mean where my parents are from you you had culture you had you had education a lot of focus on that a lot more than down here but how old are you today if you don't mind my asking oh I'm 29 years old okay are you an only child no I grew up with two older sisters they are kind of like they're kind of like me in a sense that except they're more bold and straightforward and in-your-face about it and I was I was - kind of a slow gradual shift away from religion as as far as them they're just like like kick in the front door and say hey look I'm here but especially in my middle sibling my older sister holy crap and she she was mad everybody knew it this was this was a girl that was always in your face when it came to religion with them because one thing about my parents is that they were also it was also kind of like you have to do it you have to go to church you have to do this it was never the choice was never given it was always a it's not a democracy dictatorship but um speak softly and carry a big stick here but but no it was it was kind of like that was like you have to go you are going to go and that forcefulness is kind of what clash with my two older sisters personalities especially my my middle sister and older sister and it's kind of like when you force that's the problem one of the problems with some not the problem that's religion but the problem with people who tried to administer it into a society or anything when you force something and you can see like the Roman Empire or anything else before something people fight back people that will rebound if it's not something that you can gradually introduce into their society and let them come to conclusion as to where if they actually take them by the shoulders sit him down and say here you go this is your life from now on but um my older sister she cheers the first go I she's like nope the excuse the first one do I remember my oldest sister I'm the youngest of three but my oldest sister she she never had our village bone in her body she her personality was that like it's just focused around her she was and wasn't anything like any religious I mean when I looked at the Catholic face from what my dad taught me as academic he approached it from an interesting way it was not a religious like a faithful way that was my mother I mean that was my mother that was I I remember she had in the Byzantine Catholic faith which is Catholic but it's more probably more related to the Orthodox in its imagery and it's and how they do things I had like an icon here one of think one of us st. Michael sitting on my dresser and that one was a picture of him I seen the picture before of a guardian angel watching there were two kids walking over rickety bridge I had one of those there that a crucifix in my room I think I don't know any other Catholic it didn't have a crucifix in the room but I remember she was more like not the logical side of it like my dad logical in it and while she was the more face based don't like don't always think about something sometimes it's just you have to believe and have faith in something she's more of the face based my dad was more the academic and logical side so but that was in a sense that's a good balance of things that balance itself out but like my dad always said approach with an academic sense like which was easier for me to grasp aside it's it's easier to answer it so it's easier to approach certain questions that way like like did God flood the earth and all that other stuff well if you believe that no and all the other stuff yeah okay sure and then it says the water has receded and then there was land and all that now the academic side of me and the logical thinking to say okay at the entire world is covered in water where did the water recede to if there was nothing but water around anywhere how did that have the power dissipate were to receive to like you're on a beach at the night the water the water tide the tide comes in the water rises and during the day it recedes back into the ocean but if there's water if the whole plant is covered in water from my mouth and hi there's no place for her to recede - this isn't always perplexed me my dad was always kind of an enigma to me because I asked him I said dad do you believe the story if this the stuff in the Bible it's focusing on focusing more on the Old Testament than the new but still in general he said they're just a collection of stories but I can never get a yes direct answer yes or no direct answer out of him which is interesting which is buddy but yet he still really just got still police got exist and stuff like that growing up with Catholic to me was kind of this kind of skit was kind of odd to me because I remember my mom telling me one time and I'm sorry to go off-topic here but my mom telling me what my mom talked telling me this kind of triggered memory but my mom I was in my room it was I was about to go to sleep and this is the middle of summertime I was about to go to sleep my mom was telling me about the devil and this is course is scared the crap out of me what she told me but I don't think she realized that that I don't understand metaphor but um at the time but she um she said the devil can come in through your window only if you leave it open she was talking about the window to your soul not the actual window that I kept shut because of that reason of one pot summer the whole two months that was one hot summer because I was the kids because I opened the window I was afraid if I the window for even the second most bender come in and get me but um religion to me then as I started to stray away from it I use and logic and that using this reason to feel like one compartment that the Bible like especially the Old Testament because holy Holy Mary Mother of God that that's just a horse gel things I mean God if you say he's omnipotent if you say he's on the Phoenicians nipa Tintin and all that you can't really attach any human emotion to him or any number to him because logically if you're let's just say he does exist it wouldn't make any sense to attach it to him I mean the fact that he created the earth and all that in six days is complete garbage because I mean says he rested on the seventh why would have being that's omnipotent need to rest and - why would he need to take him six days to create something or think of it when he's omniscient he's just snap his fingers and all it's done and it's been in a small amount of time that's a measure for what the humans here well he's not he's not in time at all he created time out of nothing right so you need to understand that there's a literary technique that's employed in the Bible called attribution or condescension where we put words into God's mouth and action into God that don't properly belong to God but it's just a nice way of making the story a little bit more palatable and so if you read any of the early church fathers they were at least as smart as you are and just as logical if not more than you are and they knew that God does not get any he's not I don't think he would be all look well he the first principle in any monotheistic religion is God is infinite in every perfection so he is incapable of any evil ever so all of the saints interpret scripture this way well this could be a literary technique that they use but I tend to write it but I would say he he said in the first person admitted first person I created good name one is I don't think God is I don't think I'm is on the benevolent in the sense in that loving sense because with love comes jealousy as well but I defy were to be to go back and be a religious person I would say he's not he's not on the benevolence but he would be all understanding that way you can approach something without having that contradiction and the things I'm all loving but I tell you to go and murder these bunch of media nights or something like that that doesn't fit but if you say I'm all understanding you still can't justify that but you can say oh this person did something bad you can equate it to to like a judge or a court saying we understand that you've committed this crime out of out of out of an emotion or have something like that we understand that but you you still come in at the crime you still broke the law so still have to be punished but you can you come from a you approach from a different angle rather than all love being and kind of and kind of showing in the same in the same book that you have a nasty and evil side this is the problem of evil you know the only thing for it allows evil to prevail this we could men to do nothing kind of finest year I mean but guys not a man the reason that God allows so much evil is that he is omnipotent he can bring a higher good out of evil and if you read the Saints throughout the past 2,000 years you'll see a lot of them emphasizing the fact that the evil that God allows here below that outrages us and that makes us so shocked and horrified if we put it into with heaven the heaven that awaits us even the worst life here on earth it's only a hundred years long it's not a big deal and it's like one uncomfortable night at a bad time it's just it's just not really that big of a deal and once you get to heaven you'll put it into perspective and you'll see that what we think is outrageous and shocking and horrible here and too much to bear is really not that much to handle and if we can just be patient and get through this short life we will see once we're in heaven that all these evils here really are not that significant whereas if we don't freely choose to return God's love will end up in hell not because God is banishing us to hell but because by not loving God what we're doing is we're orienting ourselves away from God and we're choosing not to go to heaven and to not go to heaven is not very pleasant and if you're oriented away from God to be in heaven would be even more painful so hell is a merciful place for those that hate God those that don't want to be with God that those that don't want to be in heaven so it's a merciful place where those who hate God are allowed to fall away from him for all eternity so God is not evil and he's not the source of any evil of it that's the number one principle I just want you to trust me when I say that if you're going to try and prove a God I mean through God exists I mean the Bible in the Quran or anything else is probably the worst way to do it when it comes to justify no no the Bible is only for those who are fully convinced of the goodness of God anyone else that looks at it is just going to be turned off totally well but the faith in itself is not fact otherwise if it was fact it wouldn't be called face it just because yeah you need you need faith but you need faith even to believe in the real world that the material world exists right so you have to acknowledge that we all have taken a leap of faith some more than others but we all do take that leap of faith because there is absolutely no experiment that we could come up with that would verify that these alleged sense perceptions through which we allegedly perceive sight and sound and smell and touch we have no way of testing the validity of these alleged sense perceptions because the very tests that we would devise rely on those sense perceptions so there is absolutely no way to verify that we even have a material universe that we inhabit much less that there are other beings for example you and I you're hearing my voice now and you know there's absolutely no way for you to verify that that is not just an internal fantasy of yours I'm sure you've encountered solipsism and well yeah the matrix is kind of that movie even the first game I was kind of really brought that kind of way that kind of thought into pathology everybody else to kind of question things I mean I guess I told my dad one time and I said who created God or something like this and yet and you know the old saying God is no beginning in the wind but yet somehow still exists yeah that's nice and his existence yeah that whole thing and I said as a dad that's essentially it's essentially something for nothing in a sense but I said you believe that right said yeah I said well what if I said well what god what if God slowly revealed like he's like in the religious like and religious people say he slowly reveals his truths or his knowledge to us what if he slowly reveals to us that he doesn't exist but what are you doing that what do you do then then I'm God and then and then he said he said that that doesn't make sense I said I said I said we're willing to believe that he has no beginning and any and but yet as no end but yet still somehow exists with no beginning but yet this thing that he slowly this this little paradox doesn't make sense to you I said well one thing is if there is a God and he were to come down come down and say hey let us bless presents enough you know I think my personal thing belief and faith would lose its meaning because in a sense belief and faith is not changed upon 100% knowledge of anything oh what you're saying is exactly 100% what the Church teaches as you said when we meet God when we are confronted with God in heaven there will be no more faith there will be no more hope there will only be love well not even here on earth like Evy or just pop up right here on it was Jesus Jesus is going to come again at the end of time so you can test your theory out okay even if you're dead you're gonna pop out of your grave and you're gonna see Jesus come the second time so don't worry you're gonna have your chance to test your theory but my point is that faith and hope will be obsolete at that moment and it will only be love if you have love of God under contempt of self that's called heaven if you have love of self under contempt of God that's called hell it's all about that orientation which way are you oriented with respect to your creator and so when God comes again faith will be no more hope will be no more it will only be love there are two cities as Saint Agustin famously said to characterized by two loves love of self and love of God so we need to choose wisely we need to choose now while we have time we need to choose to freely and rationally return God's love I mean are you kind of working long lines of Pascal's wager no but he also says in the passe he also makes a point of saying that there are three ways that you can love and serve and fear God you could do it as as a slave with servile fear you can do it as a mercenary I'm gonna earn my wages and I'm gonna treat God like a vending machine I put my money in I put my prayers in I get my golden ticket to heaven so those two extremes are not ideal the ideal way to love God to serve God and to fear God is as a loving son loves a good just and merciful Father so it's a relationship that is respectful it's well-balanced it's not the despair of a slave and it's not the presumption of a hired soldier a mercenary it is the love of a son for a father so this is what Pascal says in his poem say so that counterbalance is your critique of that Pascal's wager because these motivations are imperfect they're very imperfect but they are legitimate ways to begin your journey to loving God as a son would love or as a child would love a loving parent they're not perfect but they are legitimate starting points we have to give people a break because people are very broken people are very wounded people are confused people are drunk literally and figuratively we need to give people a break we need to give them a chance to grow up a little bit during this hundred years on earth so don't be too hard on someone if that's religious just because they fear hell and they desire heaven don't be too hard on well I mean I would joke here in the here in the Bible Belt you have it's Protestant all the way but I heard this one time I heard this many times you said I'm gonna try and get the accent right here but I think I can you know if you don't believe in the Bible you're going you're going to hell and then like I look at them and say well if I'm going to hell I'm taking over I mean that always be my response and look on the faces is just um is blank but because these people their version of Hell in a lot of year in general since most year criminal you must read Christians are above all Muslims to think that hell is is this fiery doomsday of a place which it isn't I mean there's nowhere in the Bible where it says where it says explicitly that these horrible things happen in Hell or this is what he'll scenery is it doesn't really matter what's unpleasant about it just we just need to know that it's not very pleasant boy it was explained to me is always simple but it was always a distance from God cold isolation and distance from God and that's all it is no pitchforks in this in your side no no lens being formed torn from your body you know that other stuff where demons clawing at your face that's that's all divine comedy that's all that's all that is Dante all Gary's Divine Comedy and the in the inferno that's all that it's that's where that comes and that's where a modern concept and what hell is comes from the same if you read the Bible or anything like that or if you are child those stories even I mean you better understand how things were written in a close similarity like when the Bible was translated to to Greek and I think kollene Greek was the Greek that was translated into anything if I'm wrong but a lot of things a lot of things in a lot of things have mr. Ainsley over the centuries even millennia if things got mistranslated and and we I could tell you this if you took the Bible and translate into Aramaic and figured all the way back to travel back in time ago they'll meet Jesus for himself and giving the Bible he was nothing I don't think you would recognize the word that's written in it because it's been translated so many times it's like playing on the telephone things started it starts at one one end you say a word and it gets all the way around and and the kids the the the next the next kid is gonna say it but he's only going to repeat something that he only heard that he or she only heard but he's not going to he's not gonna critique it he's just gonna it just naturally changed it that's why it's not good we wouldn't reckon this says everything that we need to know to be saved is properly interpreted by the Living Magisterium of the church that means the Pope and the bishops who teach in union with him and the whole church throughout the 2,000 years since Christ it is infallible it's this infallibility that is key and if you don't have infallibility then yeah it's just a hot mess like broken telephone game but at the end of my interviews I just asked my guest to give a little closing thought something positive so just to close the show what do you think that you might be able to say to anyone that's out there listening now please for me I would say if you yourself for religious whatever religion you are Hindu Buddhist Catholic Muslim Protestant Christian in general do what my parents told me objectively question your faith and your religions and and your religion itself no matter what you may stray you away from it or it may stray you more towards into it and make it form and make you more resolved and stronger but if you questioned that as for the stance for the same same thing for people like me atheist and sit or secular or anything like that I would say do the same thing but with with life itself always questioned objectively don't accept what's been told to you don't accept always this you if you question things well that's life whether it's your own volition or anything in general always question it this other path that you go that that you go down if you're religious if you question your religion and you in your struggle and you find yourself straight away from your ledge and you turn out like me with like becoming an atheist and that's that's alright too or you could work next before you can go the other way and make you face your honor but you will find answers that you are looking for where you'll find answers that you own that you weren't looking for but you didn't know were there but you that you just found and answer questions that you probably didn't question that makes sense in general when it comes to religion when it comes to anything in real life or life in general always question always be skeptical and always use your head and think of you've got some questions I'll tell all you've got to do is all you got to do to do