Wednesday, October 7, 2020

High School Youth Group, October 4th - The Catholic Response to Atheism - Session 1, Introduction (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 In this opening session, we review the class calendar for the year and discuss the theme of this year's youth group: The Catholic Response to Atheism.

Listen online [here]!


Corpus Christi Catholic Parish

410 22nd Ave NE

Great Falls, MT 59404


High School Youth Ministry Calendar 2020-2021


The Catholic Response to Atheism

and the Dogma of the Trinity


“The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.”

                        Psalm 13:1


            The following calendar is a schedule from September through December 2020 of when the High School Youth Group will meet at Corpus Christi Parish.


            We are trying something new this year, and Youth Group will meet at Corpus Christi Church on Sunday mornings from 10:40am to 11:20am unless otherwise noted. Meetings begin shortly after the 9am Mass. The Youth Group Calendar will follow the religious education calendar, including joining in the monthly Eucharistic Processions and other devotions.



September 20th         ------------         *First Day of Class. Parent meeting with Fr Ryan

September 27th         ------------         *Eucharistic Procession

October 4th               ------------         Introduction to the Question of God’s Existence

October 11th             ------------         *Rosary in the church. For the month of the Rosary

October 18th             ------------         Safe Environment Class, Students MUST attend

October 25th             ------------         *Eucharistic Procession

November 1st           ------------         Why do atheists reject God’s existence?

November 8th           ------------         The proofs of God’s existence, From Contingency

November 15th         ------------         The proofs of God’s existence, From Order

November 22nd        ------------         That than which nothing greater can be thought

November 29th         ------------         NO CLASS, Thanksgiving Break.

December 6th            ------------         Did the world have a beginning? Big bang theory.

December 13th          ------------         The Catholic understanding of the Creation account

December 20th          ------------         Creation and Evolution


CLASSES RESUME ON JANUARY 10th (will conclude May 2nd)


Corpus Christi Office: 453-6546


Youth Leader: Father Ryan Erlenbush 406-855-9027 

Assistant Leaders:       Bill and Elizabeth Wilder


High School Youth Group – Fall 2020 – The Catholic Response to Atheism

October 4th - Session 1 – Introduction to Philosophy of God and Natural Theology

“The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.”  -Psalm 13:1



I. Introduction to Corpus Christi High School Youth Group

A. Calendar of the year. Important dates: October 18th, Safe Environment Presentation; November 29th, No Class, Thanksgiving break; December 20th, Last Class of Fall, resuming January 10th and continuing until May 2nd.

B. Course structure: Class on Sundays between Masses, about 10:40-11:20am. Eucharistic Procession and Adoration with Religious Ed program on the final Sundays of the months.

C. Students are expected to consistently attend classes, and participation in monthly Eucharistic devotions is mandatory.

D. Parents and other adults are welcome to sit in on classes.



II. Topic for the year: The Catholic Response to Atheism

A. Proofs for God’s existence

B. The two main objections to God’s existence

C. The Catholic Faith and science

D. After Christmas, we will consider also the dogma of the Trinity



III. Course Objectives

A. To come to a better understanding of who God is and how he created the world.

B. To recognize the rational foundations of our faith.

C. To be better equipped to bring atheists to the Catholic Faith and to answer their objections.



IV. Does it take faith to believe in God? How his existence is proved by human reason

A. Natural Theology or Philosophy of God is the study of questions like God’s existence taken only from what we can know by human reason alone. Setting aside all that God has revealed to us about himself and his plan for our salvation, and without any reference to the Bible or Church teachings, we can use our reason to prove that there is a God, that he loves us, and that we ought to love and serve him. It does not take faith to believe that God exists.


B. Some things that can be proven by human reason alone: That God exists, that there is one God, that he is infinitely good and has perfect knowledge, that he created the world, that he remains active in the world even today, that man has a soul which will live even after bodily death, etc.


C. Some things that cannot be proven by human reason alone: The Trinity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is truly God and Man, that God has revealed himself to us, that God wants us to be happy forever with him in heaven, that the Catholic Church is the true Church, etc.  (interestingly, although we can prove that God created the world, we cannot prove by human reason alone that the world had a beginning)


D. Why this is helpful: If we can prove that God exists and that he holds us in existence and loves us, then it is not unreasonable to begin to search out whether he has revealed himself to us. Thus, we can lead someone from atheism to a quest among the various claims made by different religions – and the claims of Christianity and of the Catholic Church will show themselves to be compelling in a way that no other religious claims are. We can’t “prove” that the Catholic Church is right, but we can show Church teachings are reasonable, and this can help people to be open to the gift of faith.



V. The real reason why many people are atheists – and the best answer we can give them

A. Most people who don’t believe in God really are just rejecting his laws. Because they don’t want to follow natural law and they don’t want to believe that what they are doing is sinful, many people choose to reject God’s existence and decide not to believe in heaven or hell.


B. The best response we can give is to be saints! These people are searching for happiness, but true joy and fulfillment is not found in sin. If we who believe in God and practice our Catholic Faith give a joyful witness, this will show atheists that they will be truly happy when they return to belief in God.



VI. The two main objections to the existence of God

A. “God of the Gaps” – New scientific knowledge has answered all the questions about nature, there is no longer any need to appeal to “God” as a creator.


B. The Problem of Evil – If God is all good, there would be no evil or suffering in the world; but there is evil and much suffering, therefore there is no God.



VII. Is God’s existence something that is obvious and immediately clear to all?

A. God’s existence is something that can be proved, but it isn’t inherently obvious


B. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” – Nope, it isn’t self-evident that there is a Creator, let alone that he gave all men rights.


C. Although it is not self-evident or immediately clear to all that God exists, once it is proved that God exists, this truth cannot rationally be denied.


D. If we could see the Divine Essence clearly, then it would be a tautology that God exists – his very nature is pure existence and it is simply impossible and even irrational to say that God doesn’t exist. However, we do not see God in himself, but only in his works (in the universe he created) – therefore, we must work to prove his existence, showing the cause from the effect.



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