Wednesday, February 3, 2021

High School Youth Group, January 24th -- Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 11, Why Be Catholic? (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

 We consider the philosophical arguments which show Christianity to be the most reasonable religion, and Catholicism to be the most reasonable and original version of Christianity.

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High School Youth Group – Spring 2021 – The Catholic Response to Atheism

January 24th  - Session 11 – Why Be Catholic?

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



I. Calendar: Classes continue until May 2nd. No class on March 7th, 28th, and April 8th.


II.  Review of whether atheists can go to heaven

A. It is not our place to judge either way, but the Lord has only revealed baptism as the means of salvation. This inspires us to spread the Gospel to all peoples, and call all to the sacraments!

B. When an atheist lives a truly good life (following the natural law etc), that is an indication that God’s grace is working in his soul. Surely, God desires the salvation of all.



III.  Monotheism compared to Polytheism

A. If God is the uncaused cause, then he must be pure existence – his very nature is to exist. However, if he is existence itself, unlimited existence, then he must be perfectly simple without any parts and without any potency.  This means that there could not be two Gods, because there would be nothing to distinguish the one from the other.  Hence, monotheism is proven by reason alone.

B. Furthermore, note that the pagan religions do not claim that any of the gods is the Creator, but all the gods are somehow born within an already existing world.  But the monotheistic God is Creator.


C. Again, if God created the world and sustains it, then it is reasonable to think that he would reveal something of himself to us. Not that he has to, but because he clearly loves the world he has made.



IV. Christianity/Judaism compared to Islam

A. Christianity/Judaism insists that God must be the perfection of wisdom and reason. Therefore, God cannot contradict himself nor can he deny himself. God could not one day define one thing as true, and then the next day define it as false – because God’s nature is the source of all reason/logic.


B. The God of Islam, although the monotheistic God of Judaism and Christianity, is a God “above reason.” Islam so emphasizes God’s transcendence as to claim that he transcends even logic. God can deny himself, and he is not bound by reason.  Reason and logic are subject to changing Divine Will.



V. Christianity compared to Judaism

A. Even as Man stands above every animal, so does Christ rise above every man. Whether the Lord was speaking truly or falsely, we must admit that he has claimed what no other man has ever claimed – to be truly God.

B. Comparing Christianity to Judaism, we consider whether Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. And, if he did not fulfil them, then clearly they have not been fulfilled – even after the line of David has been destroyed. Thus, if Christ didn’t fulfill the Old Testament, it seems that no one every will.


C. Modern Judaism and Christianity are two rivals claiming to have fulfilled ancient Judaism. It is a common mistake to think that modern Judaism is the same religion as ancient Judaism – rather, we maintain that Christianity is truly the religion of Abraham and Moses.  This is why we do not encourage participating in modern Jewish religious customs that explicitly reject Jesus as Messiah.



VI. Catholicism compared to Protestantism

A. The Sacraments: If Jesus took on our flesh, it is reasonable to believe that he would use material substances and works to bring his grace to the world. This is the place of the sacraments.

B. The Order of the Church: If Jesus established a Church as his own body, it is reasonable to think that he would establish a single Head for this single Body – which is the Pope.  Further, as a body has order, so the Church has order through the Bishops and priests.


C. Historical proofs: Jesus must have told his Apostles how he desired his Church to progress, and they surely would have told their first disciples. But from the very early days of the Church and even in the generation that was taught by the Apostles, we see both the Eucharist and Holy Orders (bishops, priests, deacons). Therefore, the True Church of Jesus Christ would have belief in the Eucharist and in the Priesthood.






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