On Being Made For Infinity

There is an ache within atheism an awful lot like unrequited love. There is a nameless and uncomfortable burning within nihilism, agnosticism, and all the lonely fashions of post-Christian man that rings of being rejected. But before I bother you with all that, let’s go on a walk, you and I, around the Point in the hopes of arriving back again, full of understanding.

It'll be easy, I promise!

The pain of unrequited love — of being spurned or friend-zoned — isn’t confined to the mere absence of a loving relationship. It is the absence of everything. A man lacking food is hungry. A man lacking sleep is tired. But a man lacking his lady is destroyed. The entire world is darkened, saturated by absence. There is something about this failure to be loved that invades every aspect of his life and makes getting up in the morning a misery. He will be called hopeless, pathetic, told all sorts of things about fishes, seas, and getting up and moving on — to no avail. You’ve heard his cliches. “Life is not worth living without her,” “She’s all I want,” and:

That’s what I’m talking about! A lack of love doesn’t limit its misery to the romantic side of life — it ruins your peanut butter sandwich, it makes everything crap, and the everyday bitter.

But this would all make complete sense, if Love is infinite in quality. Leaving off the philosophical argument for this, let’s just look at our own experience of the thing. Clearly, there is no man on earth who would say, “I am loved far too much,” nor a single married couple who would claim “we’ve reached the limits of our love.” Nor, I would venture to guess, does any one imagine there is a limit at all — “This much love and no farther.” We naturally treat love as an infinite. What the Song of Songs claims isn’t mystical hyperbole, it’s an entirely practical expression of human existence — “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.” Well of course. You cannot fill an infinite space. You cannot pay for something infinitely priced. Love is infinite.

But if this is true, then the misery of the lover makes a sad sort of sense. He does not crave a singular thing, he craves an infinity. He has a longing for the everlasting. He wants the evermore. If that desire is unmet or refused him, of course it will saturate his very being! Of course it’ll ruin his peanut butter sandwich! He — in a very real way — misses everything.

God, how fascinating that we have some grasp of the infinite! There is nothing in nature, no concrete example of the everlasting that we could develop our notion of infinity around, yet it is as primordial as beer, written on hearts. The most ancient of myths had this in common — the idea of immortality, the infinite life.

We don’t logic our way into believing that beauty is infinite, we first of all experience it, for what man can conceive of a thing too beautiful? Whenever we experience beauty there is a natural lifting of ourselves into the infinite: We don’t feel sated by beauty — “this all there is” — we feel a sweet sort of erotic desire towards it — “more, more, more!” And what more appropriately human way to describe the infinite than “more, more, more”? We are strangely haunted by the never-ending, we homo sapiens.

Allegory of Immortality by Giulio Romano

Is it a coincidence that very things we associate with infinity are our definitions of Who God Is? God is Love. Love is infinite. God is Beauty. Beauty is infinite. God is Goodness. Goodness is infinite. We’ve all heard these definitions of God, but do we grasp what they mean?

Stay with me: When we perceive infinities — as noted — we are thrust until the feeling of evermore. If you don’t believe me on this point, listen to this:

YouTube Preview Image

Is it anything but sensible that our minds and hearts immediately associate this rather insane experience of longing with a Singular Being who can fulfill our longing for “more, more, more?” In the manner of Lewis, the statement must be made: If I find in myself infinite desires, I can only conclude that there exists an infinite satisfaction — a Heaven.

“You are Beauty! You are Beauty!” When St. Francis cried this from Mt. Verna the mystical and the practical were combined. Think of our infinite desires as holes in the heart. What can fill an infinite need except an infinite reality? We desire evermore beauty — well there is Beauty, and we call Him God. Do not accuse the Theist of irrationality — it is only logical to conclude the existence of a Being towards who our infinite desires are aligned. The atheist must confront the question that if there is no infinite satisfaction, why is heart filled with infinite desires? Is it a mere cruelty?

And thus out from the Mordor of verbiage we come back to the Point. The problem I have with atheism, materialism and all the rest is not so much that they are false ideologies, as that they demand I be content with the limited. Our desire for beauty cannot be infinite, for an infinite desire constitutes an infinite satisfaction, and there is no such thing as Heaven. I must be content with living a life that is exhaustible, a life where love has its bounds, truth is caged and beauty stops at a certain point. For if what we can scientifically see is all there is, then there is a limit to all. Religion frees us to plunge unimaginable depths — atheism denies our propensity for infinity and demands we play in the shallows.

It’s a lot like unrequited love in that sense — it never is allowed to enter into infinity. Or rather, atheism is much like the lover who — having been rejected — struggles to convince himself that he never really loved, that his infinite desire does not exist. (And thus it is common to hear arguments that goodness is relative or that love is mere chemical reaction amongst my atheist friends.)

But Christian, the call of your God is this: “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” Christ bled and died that we might have infinite love, infinite goodness, infinite beauty, and the infinite satisfaction of our hungry, pining hearts. We are to be infinitely fulfilled. We are meant for unimaginable ecstasy. Let us never cease to plunge the depths.

  • Mark

    Powerful, thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/techmage89 Paul Fox

    This, I think is the answer to the problem of pain. The theist must answer the problem of pain, but the atheist must answer the problem of love, but pain is finite, while love is infinite.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

      Why is pain a problem?

      • http://www.facebook.com/techmage89 Paul Fox

        Look up the “problem of pain” and “problem of pleasure.” They’re fairly well-known arguments against for the existence of a good God, that take similar forms.

    • James H

      This, I think is the answer to the problem of pain.

      Sorry, you’ve lost me there – totally.

    • Alexandra

      Can you explain what problem atheists have with love? I don’t really understand what you’re saying.

    • David

      He’s using it as the title for an argument: “the problem of pain”. I think he’s referring to the “problem of evil” or another argument that is equivalent.

      The “problem of love” is this blog post, Alexandra.

      If you guys really didn’t understand this comment, you really should spend some time studying some of the more significant arguments for atheism and theism.

      • Alexandra

        Can you point me towards what it is you think are the more significant arguments for atheism and theism, then?

        • http://www.facebook.com/techmage89 Paul Fox

          In a nutshell, all theists who believe in a good God (or gods) have to confront the problem of pain or the problem of evil, i.e. if God is good, why is there pain or evil in the world. It is an empirical obstacle, since we know that pain/evil exist.

          Atheists have to confront the problem of pleasure (traditionally), but I think the problem of love is a much harder one, i.e. how can love exist? This is also an empirical obstacle.

          There are a *lot* of arguments for atheism and theism, it being debated for many thousands of years, practically to the beginning of recorded history. Just look at major thinkers throughout history to find them.

          Aquinas deals pretty thoroughly with the issue, but obviously a lot has been said since him, and he isn’t totally comprehensive even of what came before.

          • Alexandra

            Thanks for explaining. I guess I really don’t see why it is hard to understand why love exists. It makes a lot of sense evolutionarily. I don’t think this issue really goes both ways. Yes if you believe in a loving god you have the huge question of pain, but not believing in a god doesn’t mean that there is no mechanism to explain love. There are plenty of explanations and we’ll probably develop better ones as we understand neurology better.

            There are tons of arguments on the theism vs atheism debate and I guess this one is more compelling to theists because to me it is almost completely irrelevant. In no way is this a “significant” arguement to an athiest. There don’t have to be philosophical answers for why the truth is what it is. We know the truth and philosophy should stem from that, not motivate or propose something that isn’t true. This is backwards logic.

          • Taylor

            If you follow atheism to it’s logical ends, there is nothing except material. All else is merely an invention of the human mind. There is no such thing as good, truth, or even philosophy. Heck, as an atheist how can you even trust your own brain if you it is merely a construction of random incredibly improbable events throughout time?
            I also have to ask, do you believe that matter can neither be created or destroyed?

  • Cleo

    Ha, a satisfying post. Thank you :)

  • Alexandra

    This is an interesting idea, but you’d probably be better off to ask an atheist what it feels like to really believe to the point of claiming knowledge of the fact that there only is one life. As one of the resident atheists, I’ll share.

    My atheism is at the core of the reason I became a geologist. The earth, and our knowledge of it is to me is beauty and infinity. We can explain the earth, and we can continue to learn about it and never run out of fascinating new beauties. The earth has been here for much longer than we can fathom and will continue to exist beyond that. Knowing that I get to be a part of that infinite system is fulfilling. It fills me with wonder and awe and appreciation for this life and the material world. That “Being” that you say is the what our infinite desires are aligned towards, for me as an atheist, is life. This life. The only one I get.

    Knowing that this is it, knowing how very precious our limited life in this seemingly infinite system is compels me to love as much as possible and work towards building a better world for my fellow humans. My relationships with people, my goals, and my research fill me with the same kind of feeling of satisfaction that all of us are searching for, the same satisfaction that you find in God. Some atheists, and hell probably a lot of theists, are searching and frustrated, I was for many years, but I’ve found my “love.” I love this life, I love my husband, I love learning, and I get so much satisfaction out of the scientific research that I do. I love my cat, and someday I’ll have children that I love and carry my existence on in the material world. The day that I really acknowledged my atheism was the day I found what would satisfy my “infinite desires.” And it’s right here in the material world.

    In no way do I demand that anyone else believe the same things that I do and find happiness the way I do. But I will demand that people do not act in ways that opposes justice and what brings more good into the world. If believing in a life after this one brings people the satisfaction they are looking for, I think they should go right on ahead, but there is satisfaction in my world view too. Don’t make the mistake in assuming that atheists are all just angry unfulfilled and missing out on some part of the human experience that you are enjoying.

    • Anonymous

      Alexandra,

      Very thoughtful comment. Thank you. May I ask you something? You said:

      “carry my existence on in the material world.”

      Am I to understand this to mean that you have a desire to exist — in some way — after you die? Or is “my existence” just a placeholder for “my memory”? How, exactly, do you desire to continue to exist in the material world after you die? Obviously, you would exist. It would be as human compost. Why desire more than just to be great compost? Why the need to perpetually “have the stage” so to speak? If you do exist, and that existence is something we would call non-material, what is the status of that kind of existence? Do non-material things exist?

      Kindly,

      Brent

      • Alexandra

        Oh no, I don’t have any desire to live on. I don’t wish there was an afterlife, it’s like my memory, and even then that’s not what it is. It’s something I made, a mark on the material world. Making a contribution to humanity. I only believe in the material world, and it’s amazingly fulfilling.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks Alexandra. I agree that the material world is incredible. What did you mean by:

          “It’s something I made”

          Do you mean to say that you hope to live a life that makes a lasting impression on the material world in such a way that your particular impression continues to impress after you die — on your behalf? (particularly, that your children would do this)

          • Alexandra

            Hmm, no not really in so much as that I want to be remembered or that there is some kind of impression of me. It’s just in contributing something to this world. It has nothing to do with any illusion that I’m special, just that as a human I have a duty to try and contribute to the greater good of the future of humanity. Specifically through raising children that would have that same value and work at the same things.

        • Connie

          Your words paint the picture of an almost perfect existence, in which you are devoid of any real suffering or conflict. Joy and satisfaction comes from the limited enjoyment of life’s little pleasures. As long as you have them to enjoy and contemplate your enjoyment is fulfilled. I would say that since you are certain that all the pleasure and fulfillment you seek is available to you here on Earth, then truly you have no need for God or to seek anything more. But truly, do you stop there? In all your searching in geography, in all your learning, are you not seeking to fulfill the need for that something more? or do you deny the existence of there being any other possible need or desire for something beyond our Earthly experience?

          Contemplating the Earth and it’s existence is very fascinating and fulfilling, but when contemplated in the light of an infinite creator, who simple ‘is’-and ‘was’-and ‘is to come’- really lifts the soul with awe and wonder for all that has been created or simply ‘exists’.

          • Alexandra

            I disagree, but thanks for your thoughts!

          • Connie

            Yeah, you too. I would love for you to elaborate on your view.

    • Amanda

      Alexandra, I don’t think you are an atheist. You are so right when you say: “The earth, and our knowledge of it is to me is beauty and infinity”. This is God! It seems like you are happy because you have a core value of filling your life with the beauty and infinity of our world. You just are missing the connection that this is God, this happiness comes from God. I know your a good person and I’m sure you’ll come around sooner or later :) …especially cause you are interested in debating on these types of posts. It shows you care about things and don’t just sit back and let things happen you don’t think are right. You are just the type of person we need to help show others how to take control of their lives and find TRUTH and HAPPINESS. The strongest Catholic is the person who questions their faith and seeks to understand why we believe what we beleive. Your truly welcome over anytime :)

      • Alexandra

        I think what you experience as God is the same thing as what I experience as life yes. I think I understand why theists believe there is a god is because the feeling of wonder and beauty you get when you think about how fantastic the world is. I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools but never had faith. It never occurred to be as if it could possibly be a true story. I can absolutely understand how people find solace in the idea of a god, but I see the evidence and know that there isn’t one.

        I’ve realized that that feeling of wonder really is what is God to theists, mostly through talking to people on this blog. I’m learning a lot from you all, but I think that Marc is doing every a disservice when he claims that atheists can’t experience that same wonder. He can call it God, but I call it life. Indeed it only makes sense that everyone, theist or atheist, would be able to experience God if there really was a god. We’re not angry unfulfilled people.

        • Amanda

          I agree. EVERYONE can experience happiness, aka God. Love is infinite like Marc said. Real love isn’t limited to people who beleive in God. It doesn’t matter if you beleive in Him or not. And I know you and athiests are not angry unfulfilled people. I know many personally. And how I see it is that they just don’t realize the core of this love and happiness comes from God. You are soo close Alexandra, basically as close as you can get to letting your self have faith, but still procaiming to be an athiest.

          There are two sides of the Catholisism. First, Reason (which you are very capable of). Reason explains things like there is TRUTH in our world and that God does exist. If reason is solid then faith comes next. This is harder and takes a lot of trust and certitude in God. It includes things such as beleiving 3 persons in one God, and that a peice of bread is turned into Jesus by a preist. These things can’t be fully understood by us and can’t be explained through reason, but bc we have certitude in God being real, we believe it.

          PS, for anyone else reading this, if Alexandra ever becomes Catholic, I called it :)

          • Anonymous

            When you say “Happiness aka God” and equate the two, you essentially re-define happiness as God, thus re-defining all happy people as deists, eliminating happy atheists from your worldview.

            But you can’t just re-define stuff and expect to get at a true perspective.

            Try it with the Reagan-era school lunch defintion of ketchup is a serving of vegetables. Include ketchup in school lunches, school lunches will have vegetables, including vegetables makes meals healthier, school lunches with ketchup will be healthy. Except, of course, you know that is not how healthy lunches happen.

            Re-defining God as happiness, just because faith makes you happy, does not turn happy atheists into theists.

          • Jake E

            I’m sorry, you’re understanding is incorrect. Think of this from a Christian’s mindset:

            Everything was made by God, including happiness. While we believe the greatest kind of happiness exists in the belief in him, we certainly do not believe that simple happiness is confined to believers in any way. Humans are naturally happy people, there is no debating this fact.

          • Amanda

            Actually thats your opinion that happiness doesn’t come from God. And you are defenitly entitled to your opinion. But everyone has opinions. But there is only one reality. Happiness is either a reflection of God or it isn’t. It can’t be both, right?? So we know its either one or the other. One of us is right one of us is wrong. There is a truth to this.

            If i have an opinion that gravity does not exist, and you say, no no Amanda, gravity does exist. You are right. When i go jump off a building i will find out you are right. Your opinion is truthful, your mind agrees with reality.

            If i think that stealing is alright and say, it’s my opinon, I;m entitled to my opinion and you have to respect that; well thats not going to fly with very many people. You see there is a line.

            Whether God is the source of happiness, is not a matter of opinion. You don’t decide what reality is :)

          • Alexandra

            That isn’t the point that arlocrescent is making. (S)he is saying that you’re redefining what it is to be an atheist, you’re not acknowledging that I am an atheist. That I do not believe that my experiences are God. You’re saying that I if an atheist is experiencing what is, in your opinion, God they’re actually just half way there to theism.

            That’s simply untrue. Atheism isn’t a phase. It’s like me saying that you’re so close to recognizing that God isn’t real, you’re actually just a delusional atheist. Not only is it false, it insults the intelligence of the theist or atheist.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks, you said it better than I could!

          • Alexandra

            Ha! I thought you said it much better. :) I was really pleased with your response, you articulated it really well.

        • Feeneyja

          I’m curious, where does this life in which you find infinite beauty and wonder begin? That is what I don’t understand in your understanding of life. For someone who believes in God, His infinite goodness is the beginning, but that beginning always was and so is infinite. I don’t know how one can understand that without a God. And this amazing, infinite beauty that is life is the very reason we so ardently protect it. The simple beauty and infinite complexity of a union that produces another life. In my classes in developmental biology, the more I learned about the development of new life, the more awed I was. For I realized that us humans could never conceive of such a plan on our own.

          • Amanda

            ^Reason

          • Feeneyja

            But that is what I don’t understand. What IS the reasoning?

          • Alexandra

            Are you asking what I think the origin of life and the universe is? I think we have reasonably good scientific explanations for that. Part of what is so fantastic to me about that is that our understanding is really just developing and there are things that we will discover in thousands of years to come that I could have never imagined. I can accept that there are things beyond what I can know in my life, but I don’t think that indicates the existence of a god.

            To me, the fact that none of this world was designed is even more wonderful and awesome than the alternative that it was designed. I’ve noticed that study and appreciation of science tends to send people to extremes as theists or atheists. People see the beauty and awesomeness of the world and either see amazing uncontrolled chaos or the hand of a loving designer.

            I see that a deist worldview is reasonable, I don’t think it is compelling or necessary. Sure, there might have been something that set everything into motion, but I don’t think it’s probable. I see no reason to believe in a personal god, and certainly not the Christian God. Making a compelling argument for a personal god is hard enough, the idea that that god is the Christian God is a huge stretch.

          • Connie

            It is a pleasure to discuss this with you. Your views are very well thought out.

            So, I would like to turn the discussion back to the topic of fulfillment, and that natural desire for satisfaction. In time, every action and feeling has it’s end. Marc argues that our endless longing for an endless fulfillment is the mark of God in our lives. Scientifically speaking it can be argued that there is a part in our brain that is inclined to the idea of God, blame it on evolution or on the magnificent design of God Himself-the desire is there. I would like to use a shoe analogy, if I may.

            The shoe did not come to be because it wanted a foot to dwell inside it, but because a food existed that needed a shoe to fit into. As as theist, I view our soul as God’s shoes. Without God, man would not have had a reason to exist, but because there is a God man has been created as a dwelling place for Him.

            If you will follow my shoe analogy, without a foot (attached to a person) inside the shoe, the shoe is immobile or lifeless-without purpose or use, it becomes just another object in the room-perhaps it would become a makeshift hammer or bug killer, but it would not live up to it’s initial glory of aiding man in his steps. That being the case, the shoe would have lost its initial use and therefore worth-maybe it could go into a museum somewhere for footless people to gawk at the wonder of human being with feet. Any who, sorry.
            Man without God loses his initial dignity of being created as vessels for the divine. This being our purpose-our souls are not satisfied unless we are actively living out our intended use. The way the shoe does not ‘feel’ satisfied until it is helping some young man run a marathon-unless it is living out it’s purpose-it finds it’s existence worthless/pointless. Therefore, we have that endless longing to be infinitely united to that for whom we were made or came to exist, because here on Earth in the temporal it cannot be satisfied, because we where made for the infinite and not for death.

            So, Here on Earth, we are full of temporal enjoyments for fleeting moments in time. But!! no problem, because my next coffee break is in 15 minutes -therefore I argue that my enjoyment is not fleeting, but merely put on hold in a moments dissatisfaction. And my initial desire for infinite fulfillment is in fact being met because I have that great date with my hubby tonight after I get yelled at by my boss. Wrong, these moments in time do not satisfy because my enjoyment actually does end when I get a $200 parking violation, or my neighbor commits suicide. But thankfully I have that next moments enjoyment before the next bad things happens to keep me going until the end.

            My argument for infinite fulfilment is just that, truly, nothing on this Earth satisfies like an infinate God- for He whose presence fits perfectly into my soul.

          • Paul Wendlandt Iv

            Your argument is based on a false premise, the existence of god. Thus, your argument is by definition faulty.

          • James H

            I think you win the prize for biggest question-begging post ever on this blog!

          • Connie

            ;) you’re welcome! :D

          • Connie

            LOL! jaja…

            I argue for God, because I believe in God and therefore consider it to be a TRUE premise. However, you do not believe in God, and therefore it is a FALSE premise.

            It was never about God but about infinite fulfillment. I would love to hear your thoughts about that.

          • Paul Wendlandt Iv

            The awesome thing about truth is that it is true whether you believe it or not.

            God is not a truth. God is a logical fallacy. And until you can fix the inherent logical fallacy of god, you cannot base an argument off of his existence. You are basing your argument on something inherently flawed, so it stands to reason the rest of your logic is as well.

          • Connie

            well, if you don’t mind, I will respond based on faith. We are not born with the knowledge of what is best or true nor how to choose what is true. There are certain indicators, such as, that does not make me happy or feel good, and this does. But even then the outcome is not always desirable-so in these instances we learn via trial and error, but there is never a clear guarantee of truth. For man to know what is best or true, man would have to unanimously agree on truth. This being impossible. Man cannot know what is best, and he is left to conclude that what is truth is left to the individual desire of every man. A world lived through this principle brings chaos and disarray, thus, we are forced to conclude that there must be a unifying truth, a sole truth, that would cause man to live in peace. Since there is no such unified truth that can be found in man, we must look to that which is greater than man, God. “If God’s point of view does not exist, then there is no truth beyond our subjective perspective.”(Robert Spaemann).

          • Paul Wendlandt Iv

            Why yes, yes I do mind. Faith has no place in a logical debate.

          • David

            If you claim a logical fallacy, explain it. Otherwise this is intellectually dishonest. Right now, you are assuming a premise in exactly the same way, because you have not explained your reasoning for that premise. The argument that this blog post presents does not prove the existence of God — it is only one element of a wider series of philosophical arguments, logical arguments, experiential arguments, and, I should add, personal experiences that can’t be evidenced. If we could prove God’s existence, we wouldn’t have been debating this for centuries. Theists simply hold that when you combine all those arguments, and their personal experiences of God, it appears to them more likely that God exists than doesn’t exist. Without addressing all those things collectively, this is just an attempt to dismiss someone without truly hearing them out.

          • Paul Wendlandt Iv

            I dislike these margins, so I will post my response as a comment to the blog, rather then to your comment

            It starts with

            @david

          • Anonymous

            It doesn’t matter how it began. It is here. Enjoy.

          • Alexandra

            Exactly. Because this is the only one you’re going to get.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

            I disagree. How it began is the only question that really matters. How can I enjoy something that I know has no purpose? If the Universe really was random, why would we enjoy it? If this is the only life we have, then why not end it? Why not spare ourselves from the hurt? We won’t regret it, as we are gone. We’re all going to die anyway. It seems to me that from the Atheistic perspective, life can be nothing more than procrastination, in that we just keep putting off death, for no good reason at all.

          • Alexandra

            This makes no sense whatsoever. Atheists acknowledge that this is our one life and it’s fantastic and we need to savor it. Christians just seem like this is some waiting room on their way to heaven. If anyone has motive to just end their life, it’s the Christians, not the atheists.

            True, I won’t mind being dead, because I’ll be dead, but as long as I’m still alive I want to actually live in this world and enjoy it fully.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

            Have you ever asked yourself why you want to live in this world and enjoy it?

          • Paul Wendlandt Iv

            Yes, Yes I have. The reason is “because life is fun”.

            As an atheist, I know I have one life. Because god is bogus, and my life is intrinsically meaningless.

            But I choose to give my life meaning. To give meaning to the meaningless.

            To me, life is about adventure. Hitchhiking, going new places, meeting new people, and trying to get people to stop being so stupid (and thinking there is a god. yeesh. stupid.)

          • James H

            These indents are getting crazy.

            OK: What happens if life stops being fun? What if you suffer bereavement, long-term illness, or life-changing injury?

            You might want to think about that, before those situations arise.

            Remember, none of the world’s religions developed in the age of anaesthetics.

          • Jake E

            Let’s be mature, shall we? Don’t be like most of the douches on here and resort to calling entire theologies that have existed since man’s evolution “stupid”. After all I don’t see anyone calling your belief system stupid.

            Have maturing and respect, if not for us then for the sake of the credibility of your argument.

          • Paul Wendlandt Iv

            Explain to me how any of the religious beliefs are not stupid. I could go through every single religion and point out the logical fallacies, the impossibilities, and the ignorice.

            Do you want me to? I can you know, I can start with the norse myths and work my way up to the Abrahamic god.

            “the frost giant Ymir sweated the gods from his armpits” Thats right, in norce myhology, the gods came from a giants smelly pits.

            Shall I continue?

          • jake E

            Nice job using an example from a religion not being discussed, bro.Totally proved your point.

          • Kateri

            You’re right that atheism does motivate one to enjoy life as much as they can while they have it. But Catholicism does not encourage a waiting room mentality. For a Catholic, this one life is a mission in which the goal is salvation for ourselves and for the world. By salvation I don’t mean getting a ticket to heaven, I mean shedding everything that destroys us inside and becoming the people we are really meant to be; good, holy, strong, humble, etc. For Catholics, we are motivated to use every moment of this life in order to grow as people and to align ourselves to Goodness at all costs, even if it is painful. What we see lacking in atheism is that it does better to motivate seeking personal happiness and contentment, rather than the brave call to Sainthood. It would be foolish to sacrifice a happy life for a painful saintly life if it all ends in the grave.

          • srn

            to what end?

          • Jake E

            Your grandmother gives you a gigantic Thanksgiving Day feast. Don’t worry where it came from? What about that out all the effort and thought and Love that went into it? It is only right to acknowledge and to understand blessing.

          • Anonymous

            Uh, it came from grandma. I love grandma. Are you saying I should love the grocery store?

          • Jake E

            No, not in the slightest because the importance is in the fact it was prepared and made for you, not in the store, clearly, but I digress.

            You say you love your grandmother. Awesome, therefore I would assume that you would value the effort she put into the work she did for you. You would honor her by knowing that the making of the feast was no simple task, because you love her. Can you imagine someone who sat down to grandma’s feast and didn’t even think about grandma? Theres a phrase for people who do this, ‘bad grandchildren’.

            It is simply foolish to not think of where this world cake from because it is so beautiful and its making is no simple matter.

          • Alexandra

            But where is the evidence that anyone but my parents made me? Or that there was a creator of the universe and earth? There really isn’t any. It isn’t probable that there is a creator and it is even less probable that that creator cares about me and what I do with my life.

            I’m grateful for life and amazed by creation, but there is nothing to indicate I need to be directing my gratefulness towards anything in particular.

            You’re making the assumption that there is reason to believe that all things are created by a being. We know that grandma made the dinner, but we also know what physical forces made the earth. There’s no evidence that someone made it for us because of love and we owe them gratitude.

          • jake E

            That was not the purpose of my comment. I was responding to the one who said we shouldn’t care where the earth came from.

    • Foiled Circuitous Wanderer

      “But I will demand that people do not act in ways that opposes justice and what brings more good into the world.”

      On what basis do you make this demand of others? Why do I have any obligation to accede to your preference for “justice” and “more good”? (We’re leave aside for the moment the deeper problems of defining “justice” and “good” in the first place.)

      Surely you recognize that “because the universe is really cool” doesn’t really cut it as an answer. What if I’m an anti-intellectual type who’s bored to death by science and finds vastly more satisfaction in, say, slaughtering my enemies and appropriating all their women and chattel? There is, after all, no denying that being a Genghis Khan has its satisfactions, regardless of whether he or his ilk ever get around to supporting scientific inquiry as a late-career sideline.

      The point being that any reasonably clever person can come up with a rational, internally consistent justification for their preferences, and that includes the crudest, most self-serving sort of materialist, “Darwinian” moralizing. So you’re doing fine when you’re just sticking to explaining that you don’t need God to make your life meaningful. Where you trip up is when you start making “demands”, because, if you’re a complete materialist, you have no more substantial grounds for insisting that others adhere to your preferences, than anybody else has for theirs.

      None of this of course is an argument for the existence of God, or any kind of morality. It’s just that I scratch my head when atheists (of which I am one) seem to think that a particular mash-up of crypto-Christian/utilitarian ethics, which they happen to find personally pleasant and attractive, has some defensible standing as a default moral code, and the imprimatur of “reason”. It doesn’t.

      • Alexandra

        Have you read The Moral Landscape? It helped me a lot with understanding what morality is and why we can make claims as to what is good and what we should demand of other people. I haven’t finished it, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far. Sam Harris is the kind of New Atheist that everyone can like.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730520187 Aaron Lopez

      “My atheism is at the core of the reason I became a geologist.”

      That’s very interesting. One of the founders of modern geology, and the inventor of stratigraphy, was a Catholic priest and bishop. He, like many other Catholics, was compelled to find out the structure of the natural world.

      In fact, the reason Western Civilization gave birth to modern science (defined as the systematic discovery of the natural world, as opposed to simply ‘natural knowledge’) was because of Catholic Christianity. Nicolas Steno, the founder of modern geology, was one of them.

      “The earth, and our knowledge of it is to me is beauty and infinity.”

      This sounds wrong. It sounds wrong because we know the universe now has a beginning (incidentally, also discovered by a Catholic priest, George Lemaitre), therefore it’s also possible it has an end. Therefore, knowledge too has a beginning and an end. Thus, knowledge is finite.

      What you may be referring to is our relative capacity to know EVERYTHING, which we may consider ‘infinite’, but that is disingenuous to the discussion at hand, where Marc’s term ‘Infinite’ really means infinite. It necessarily means bigger than the universe.

      “That “Being” that you say is the what our infinite desires are aligned towards, for me as an atheist, is life. This life. The only one I get. ”

      That’s a little big pagan mixed with Catholicism. Catholics too believe in one shot at life here on Earth. If you’re implying that all we think about is heaven and how useless this material world is, you’re confusing us with gnostics. Like I said, Catholics helped propel modern science. We love the natural world as much as anyone, perhaps even more.

      “Knowing that this is it, knowing how very precious our limited life in this seemingly infinite system is compels me to love as much as possible and work towards building a better world for my fellow humans. My relationships with people, my goals, and my research fill me with the same kind of feeling of satisfaction that all of us are searching for, the same satisfaction that you find in God.”

      While it’s commendable your goals compel you to act this way, it is not the same satisfaction we Catholics find in God. If you notice the language you’ve used here, all you’ve used is ‘Me, my, my own’. Life is about you and you alone (it doesn’t mean you’re selfish, it simply acknowledges the limits you’ve imposed on yourself). For Catholics, life is about God. God is about His Creation. We are compelled and genuinely want to love each and every aspect of it. Our language isn’t ‘Me, my, my own’, it’s ‘We, our, His own’. Where you’re only concerned between your birth and your death, we’re concerned for humans throughout all of history. We want them all to grow into the perfection God requires us to be. So no, it’s not the same.

      ” If believing in a life after this one brings people the satisfaction they are looking for, I think they should go right on ahead”

      As a scientist searching for truth, I hope you wouldn’t believe what you said. St Paul, our Christian saint, actually said to us, if none of what we believe is real, why the hell do we do it. If this guy who can believe in God and the Incarnate Word says ‘Don’t do stupid things if they’re not true’, howcome you, as a self-styled rational person, suggest otherwise? Makes you think.

      Thanks for sharing though. Much appreciated.

      • Alexandra

        I find a lot of what you said really offensive and judgemental.

        My language of me and I was an attempt to not claim knowledge of what other atheists experience or think. I care about humanity as much as any Christian.

        Catholicism is not responsible for modern science. Individuals who were Catholic are. Being of the Church was not only one of the only options, but also joining the priesthood was one of the best ways to have enough free time to contemplate the earth and science. 90% of the National Academy of Sciences is atheist. I don’t presume to know that the early geologists would be atheists if they know what we do now, but it’s certainly probable. Being openly atheist was a great way to lose credibility, and a lot of time it is today still.

        • David

          The funny thing about physics is that the more I discover, the more I believe in God. Some of the very same things that convince other scientists to become atheists simply fuel my own belief. Quite a few of my fellow physicists are theists, and those who aren’t are often… um… let’s say, not very philosophical. The kind of people for whom discussing constructivism and the potential subjectivity of meaning doesn’t even compute, because they are so incredibly concrete in their thinking. I try, and I end up banging my head because they simply don’t get it.

          Many of the greatest of us were not so, because creativity is at the heart of new discovery. But a lot of people become scientists as much out of being a neat-freak than out of a sense of wonder. I wouldn’t generalize — I simply want to express my experience of them and throw that into the mix.

          • Alexandra

            So the most creative scientists are more likely to be theists? Those of us that are just exceptionally logical and lack creativity are more likely to atheists? Is that your argument?

  • blake

    Great post Marc! We would never know that we were finite creatures if there was no such thing as infinity. Kinda like Lewis’s famous line: ““If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”

  • Daniel Joosten

    Great post, as almost always, and I wholly agree. But allow me to play devil’s advocate, if I might. Indeed, this is a question that, if I did not have faith, I would probably be very hung up on. Why is it required that an infinite desire have an infinite satisfaction? Is it not possible to have desires that simply cannot be satisfied? Now, obviously, there is a God who fills them, but just how is it logical that they must be filled?

    • Paige Deaner

      I know very few atheists who believe there are any desires that cannot be satisfied. They just think- if one has tried to satisfy a desire and came up lacking- that one did it wrong!

      • Daniel Joosten

        Perhaps (I can’t speak for atheists), but my question is more to the logic of the situation, the required outcome, so to speak. I’m just not understanding why a desire, by function, necessitates a satisfaction. I mean, is it not equally possible, from a purely logical point of view, that there can be a desire that has no satisfaction?

        • Alexandra

          Yes I think that Marc was using the word “logical” a little too loosely here.

        • Daniel Joosten

          Perhaps. But I’d like to know the reasoning behind the statement before I make a judgement. There could well be a good argument why.

        • Josh

          I think the main argument to be had is an instinct that drives us to continue. To be sated (fundamentally) would go against a self preservation that is innate. In fact one could argue that through natural selection anyone who didn’t have such innate desires would cease to be driven by any other desire. Thus being pushed out by those who would wish to continue to seek fulfillment.

  • Anonymous

    awesome! you are wise beyond your years :)

  • Thomas Herge

    This ties in marvelously with a discussion my student group had about love last night, in which we realized that it is precisely unrequited love which makes all Christians priests like Christ, and thereby we transform the world.

  • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com/ Christian Ohnimus

    that was . . . powerful

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KDQFQTMD56CJAKMLXRFYUDNCPQ Montague

    One way of saying it is “I’m right because the world I inhabit is so much bigger than yours.”

    Oh the tragic comedy of this whole matter (there’s gotta be a German word for it!) That one Hitchens quote or whatever about religion (an insulting lie, it is, to claim us trying to limit the world!). Ho ho ho.

    Anyway, this was a matter first (well, not really, because it is in every particle of true Christianity and ought be imprinted on every man’s soul) shown to me by people like Augustine and Boethius – but wait! No, it was Narnia first that imparted the idea of actual infinity in time and bliss. But Plato has built that up in a whole system for me.

    Irony of ironies! That the medieval eternity-based universe is just that much bigger than Darwin’s eons could ever be!

    Anyway, keep up the good work. It’s good to see sanity, eternity, reason and passion from someone who isn’t dead yet. From one grey-haired (not) mac-wielding sage to another,

    - CMB

    • Fisherman

      Shadenfreude?

  • Amanda

    Perfect!

  • John

    Perhaps you mean “plumb the depths?”

  • Fisherman

    Pictures of Hobbits make everything better.

  • John

    this is insulting. You’re saying that atheism is the result of not having a romantic relationship. Which seems like one small step down from name-calling. And you’re main issue with atheism is that it expects one to be satisfied by the limits of life. This is so arrogant and uninformed. I am an atheist an I am in love with life, I am daily fascinated at the immense size of the world and its people. I dont need a god to be fulfilled, a full life with opportunities to do new things and meet new people is so fulfilling. If you dont think the world is interesting and exciting then you probably havent experienced enough the world.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kickintheface Jacob Timothy Michael Hughes

      You entirely misunderstand the point here.

    • Daniel Joosten

      I apologize if I misinterpret what you mean, but you said that marc’s main issue with atheism is that “it expects one to be satisfied by the limit of life.” And then you say right after that “I am in love with life.” By saying you are in love with life, aren’t you saying that you are satisfied by the limit of life? Now I don’t think that this is the point marc was getting at, necessarily, but regardless, you seem to be agreeing with marc that atheists are content with the limit of life. Now the issue that you have with this is that you feel being satisfied with the limits of life is enough and that you don’t need more, which is an entirely different argument. But again, that is just how I understood you, and if I’m wrong, I apologize.

      • CP

        I’d be willing to bet that what’s being addressed here is the presumption that satisfaction with the limits of life is somehow not good enough. That a person “in love with life” can’t be leading a life of meaning. This is a common and insulting comment often thrown the way of atheists-that their lives MUST lack meaning because they are happy with what they can perceive logically.

    • Alexandra

      I do agree with your points, and not to harp on Marc’s age too much, but I mean he’s 18. There really is a limit to how much he can have experienced life and have any idea of what it means to be simply satisfied with the material world. The material world isn’t really limited, it’s pretty infinite for one human with one life. With my now life I will never be able to experience everything that the material world has to offer.

      And who says that just because we have a craving for the infinite that there is an infinite to satisfy it? That’s not a logical statement. We are simply curious creatures with the ability to imagine. It’s what separates us from other animals, and what makes us search for meaning.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=730520187 Aaron Lopez

        Alexandra,

        Marc’s got ADHD. Add +20 to his physical age, bow to his incredible perception, and add ‘Your Grace’ whenever you address him.

        In all seriousness though, there’s a reason why ADHDers get bored easily – people just don’t keep up fast enough. Marc’s got the gift of Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Thomas Edison, if his blog posts haven’t shown as much already. His perception is immense.

        So immense, in fact, he did see a logical connection (yes, it is logical. What you’re referring to is a ‘necessity’) between the infinite capacity of love human beings share, and the Infinite Love in which it derives from. And Marc would also see the logical connection you brought up: humanity’s unique desire for meaning, and the knowable God. In fact, so ingrained is our search for meaning that the atheistic view that life is essentially ‘meaningless’ is actually antithetical to human nature.

        • Alexandra

          Oh please. I have two younger sisters with ADHD. That’s not a mark of being spectacular or having a deeper understanding of life. You’re still limited by your age, there’s only so many life experiences in the years you’ve been alive.

          • David

            I was studying philosophy when I was thirteen. Others never think deeply at all. Let’s not judge a person by their age, but by the content of their discourse. It is incredibly condescending to tell someone that they simply haven’t had enough life experience — an intelligent teenager would be rightfully outraged by that.

          • Alexandra

            And the content of what he says here suggest that it’s quite possible that he hasn’t had enough life experience. The fact that he is 18 just corroborates that.

      • David

        This isn’t a logical argument, it’s a philosophical experiential one. If we wanted to make it a logical one, we could ask the question of why we would have such infinite desires in terms of evolution, but that’s not really the point.

        The point is simply that infinite desire opens up the prospect of an infinite satisfaction quite naturally — it suggests that there is something natural about belief in God, based on these desires. That only begins to be convincing when you combine it with multiple other arguments, but it is a very important philosophical basis for these conversations. Without that basis, it is far too easy for an atheist to dismiss the whole thing as “illogical” or “stupid”. This argument says that it is a natural response and one worth listening to and debating. This shows one reason (of several) that theists feel the existence of God in their every being. That makes it hugely significant.

        • Julia K.

          Precisely.

    • Jay E.

      I do believe atheism is very much the result of not having a romantic relationship… at least in a particular sense. After all, we believe we’re called to a form of “mystical marriage with God”, of which romance is the clearest image…

      • Alexandra

        Can you explain what you mean? Are you saying atheism is the lack of a romantic relationship with God?

    • Dwood2001

      The fact that there is more to explore than you have time to explore is missing the point entirely. This is a philosophical position, based on human experience of desire. It is one way to interpret that desire, and if answered, must be answered in a philosophical context. Unless you can say that you have, “all the love you could ever desire”, then you are not really countering the philosophical position, even if you think you are.

  • FiliaPrima

    Marc,
    Are you familiar at all with Luigi Giussani’s _The_Religious_Sense_?

  • Nathaniel

    The Allegri Miserere was considered the most beautiful piece of music ever written at one time and was only performed once a year, on Good Friday if my memory serves me right. It continually sends shivers down my spine. I got the chance to sing it last year with the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir.

    Also, I think it might be good to point out that the pain of unrequited love is often present in Christians. I’m thinking of things like the dark night of the soul. You’re right about the romantic love thing, but we Christians aren’t necessarily that good at recognizing the signs of God’s love and often feel abandoned, apathetic and ambivalent.

  • Alexandra

    @James H

    I hate these indents too, patheos has the worst commenting format!

    What happens when life stops being fun? Well I’m not sure why the answer to this question would be much different for a theists or an atheist. You can still find joy in life and you can look forward to a time when things will be more joyful, but everyone goes through times that aren’t fun and the reality of it is the same whether you’re a theist or an atheist. What gives you hope is different, but the human experience of suffering happens to everyone.

    The idea that we all do experience suffering and this our one life is what compels me to be a better person and do my best to help other people enjoy their one life. Living with the idea that this is all temporary and the suffering will receive their joy in another life, and the evil will receive punishment makes me feel complacent and takes away my passion for doing good and working towards justice. I mean what’s the point? I can see how theists still find motivation to create a better world, but mostly what I see is theists preaching that you MUST BELIEVE in God instead of that we should just do our best to be kind and just the way that Jesus was. It really misses the point for me. When you don’t have to worry about salvation, you can focus on just being good.

    I think the fact that most (certainly not all) religions developed in ages without anesthetics is an argument for atheism, actually. If there was no way to alleviate suffering, the idea of a god is very placating and makes the suffering feel meaningful, when in fact it isn’t. The idea that our lives, especially our suffering, is meaningless is really hard to accept, and if we can alleviate the suffering we can see that there is nothing but this material world and don’t need the false hope of another more glorious life to come. That’s not especially well argued, I know, but do you see my point?

    • Safia Siora

      Alexandra, you’re the kind of atheist I like, a lot. I’ll pray for you by name because you’re certainly experiencing the living God very intimately; I’m happy for you.

      Explain to me: You’re inclined to live your life in a way that fulfills you, and in a way that passes down the best value judgments to your children. Awesome. By definition, though, your position is no different than the man who defines his fulfillment as the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, yet I’m sure you’ll feel inclined to condemn that particular action, and label it as non-beautiful. Why? Where does your concept of morality or goodness stem from? How do you know that your conceptions are actually most accurately “good”? Or does that not matter to you? What responsibility do you have to the justice of a particular government system if you have no agreed conception of self and dignity upon which to act? Where does your personal sense of “fulfillment” stem from? It’s something deeply embedded within you that gives you peace, right? Something natural and organic? Give me one compelling example (that explicitly denies the possibility of a Loving Creator) of biological and/or evolutionary progress toward this kind of human existence (one where Love and Beauty and Amazement give our lives meaning), and I’ll have to mull it over. See, I know God exists. I was deeply agnostic, and then had a personal encounter with Christ (you wouldn’t believe me if I told you about it), so you can’t dissuade me, but I’m curious as to what you think.

      I hope you have a face-to-face encounter with the Holy Spirit soon. When your body is filled to the brim with Him, and you rest in His peace, there’s nothing natural about it, and there’s nothing else like it.

      • Alexandra

        This is an argument that atheists hear a lot. I don’t really understand where it comes from. Morality is so innate to us, before we even know of God or his commandments.

        We are social animals and Darwinian evolution doesn’t mean that we’re selfish. A group that supports each other is more likely to survive than one that doesn’t. Groups that cooperate have a better fitness. We care about our young and siblings especially and that makes sense evolutionarily because their DNA is very similar and even if we die, they might make it. Even self sacrificing makes sense evolutionarily because if you have a few people that are willing to give their lives for the group, their fellow species will be able to continue.

        Being selfless makes sense evolutionarily as well because of concepts like you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Symbiotic relationships allow both individuals to thrive. Giving is also a sign of power. If you give something to someone it shows that you have more to give and they are indebted to you. Giving raises your position in a social group and allows you to demand things of them later on. Evolutionarily taking care of each other makes a lot of sense. Cooperation is key to the persistence of a species and particularly cooperative and altruistic creatures will be able to continue to survive and have children.

        None of this denies the existence of a creator, but it certainly explains how we can be good without a deity. We all know goodness and morality because we want to survive and keep our family alive too. The idea of genocide is abhorrent to us because we have empathy for other humans. Not because a god commanded that we do not kill, but because we know the pain that comes with killing and wouldn’t wish that on anyone else. We all just want to be happy and we want other people to be happy too.

        • Neven7

          Alexandra,

          Have you ever thought that maybe its a ‘both/and’ answer and not an ‘either/or’ answer alone? Maybe, just maybe we humans do have a sense of self-preservation AND have a God that loves us and wants to keep us safe. Yes?
          Solely having the “God says thus, so we must obey” argument is lop-sided in that it makes us feel like automatons with no will of our own nor having any real responsibility of our own. So I definitely see your point and it is a good and valid one. But having just the “we will manage on our own without our personal Daddy-God” worldview paints a picture of a very cold “survivalist” world microcosmically akin to the kids on the island in the “Lord of the Flies,” which, as an argument is also a lop-sided half-truth, don’t you think? But in this instance, as regards atheism, it is the kids that disown the “parents” and kick them off the ‘island’ because they “can do it better” and live more happily by being permanently free of them.
          I have a feeling that you already know that family is everything, yes? Please correct me if I’m wrong but if God is a Family (Trinity), why then are you seemingly disowning your Personal, Heavenly “Mommy and Daddy” and want to live on this beautiful ‘rock’ without them… by claiming a stake into the ground whilst proverbially saying, “from now on the world alone is my parent, so who needs Mommy and Daddy anymore? I can live without them. Who needs ‘em? (Even though they’ve sent you many love-letters via different and not-so-perfect messengers, written in the ink of their own blood and smeared with many tears, their living and glowing words jumping out from the pages and entering your heart, lighting your dark nights more radiantly on your island and giving you much more inner warmth than any beach bonfire can?)

          Can you entertain the possibility of both/and instead of either/or?
          At least as a possibility?

          Respectfully.

          • Alexandra

            They idea of morality being evolutionarily advantageous and being from God aren’t mutually exclusive, it’s true, but I simply don’t see where there is any evidence to believe there is a god.

            There is about as much evidence that the Christian God is real as that Batman is real. I can’t prove that Batman isn’t real, but I can’t make a good case for his existence either. So I chose to believe that Batman isn’t real and appreciate the beauty in the stories and media about Batman that exists, but don’t worry about acknowledging that Batman saved people and is worthy of my respect and reverence.

            Sure I can entertain both, but one of them provides compelling evidence while the other is very weak and entirely improbable.

          • Kateri

            It’s fine and reasonable to conclude that the Christian God does not exist, but when atheists completely blow off the question by saying God is no more compelling than Santa Claus or Batman, it suggests to me that they are either not taking the question seriously, or are not being totally honest. Obviously there is not a white bearded man in the sky with a naughty/nice list. That is not what Christianity teaches, even if it sometimes comes across that way in folk religious practice. Let’s move on. If you really look into Christian philosophy, you may very well conclude that God does not exist, but you should be able to admit that it is not entirely ridiculous to reach another conclusion. I can admit to you that atheism is reasonable even though I see God everywhere, because I take you seriously and so we can have a discussion. But if you take a dismissive attitude, then you are not being honest about your own uncertainty and discussion is impossible. When people here are trying to explain that God is Love and your devotion to Love is an unrealized devotion to God, they are not redefining theism, they are trying to show you the real Christian meaning of who God is. They are not asking you to assume that Love created the world in 6 literal days, of course that is false. They are asking you to recognize that theism is about recognizing that Love is real and has its existence outside of ourselves. That Love is not merely a product of the natural world, but that the natural world is a masterpiece emanating from Love itself. That is what theism is about.

          • Alexandra

            I went to Catholic schools for 12 years. I took it seriously for a very long time. Studied catechism, read the Bible, I was even confirmed. But now I see it for what it is: not serious.

            It’s not entirely ridiculous to reach another conclusion, but with enough education on the subject there really is only one reasonable conclusion, and that is that the existence of God is incredibly improbable. I no longer have any uncertainty in my beliefs.

            You talk about Love and all of these things, and you say THAT is God, but you know what that is? It’s love. You can’t present any compelling evidence that says that that is anything but love. I acknowledge that love exists and it’s amazing, but no I do not take the proposition that that is God seriously because there’s no reason to believe it.

            You’re not taking my position that love is just love seriously if you’re trying to convince me that I’m wrong that love is actually God. You’re just asking me to assume that God exists.

            Show me something compelling to believe that love is God instead of simply telling me “You don’t’ get it! Love = God, Love exists, therefore God exists.”

          • Kateri

            Can I prove that Love is more than an advantageous biological adaptation? No. Can I prove that selflessness is better than selfishness even if natural selection did not favor it? No. Can I prove that life is meaningful? No. Can I prove that suffering has the potential to be redemptive, that in our pain we can be aligned with the Ultimate in that through loss there is gain, through defeat there is victory, through sorrow there can be found a more profound joy, through the crucifixion of all that is Good came the restoration of all that is fallen? No. I cannot prove it. But it is written on my heart. This is my foolish faith. I don’t blame you for doubting it, I only want you to see it for what it is.

          • Alexandra

            And I’ve seen it, and rejected it. And I don’t take it seriously anymore, and have no doubts whatsoever that I am correct in my beliefs. So we’re not on the kind of equal footing you are talking about because I have no doubts.

            I respect your world view, and I’m glad that you find happiness in it, but no I have no doubts that it is not based in reality.

          • David

            Only a fool has no doubt about a thing on the reasoning that it is “improbable”. Physicists such as myself would get nowhere with that attitude. Your position has the same problem you claim theists to have.

          • Alexandra

            Does it now? Because if I was presented with evidence that suggest it was probable, I’d reconsider. That is how science is done, but not so much how faith is done.

            Until then, I have no doubt that it is so exceptionally unlikely that I am confident that there is no more merit to the proposition that God exists than Batman does. That’s not foolish.

          • http://www.facebook.com/techmage89 Paul Fox

            But what is love, then? I can find no other satisfying answer to the question.

          • Neven7

            Alexandra,

            Thank you for your reply.
            I want you to know that I am not here to try to convert you or try to convince you of anything. I respect your atheism and even applaud it. But I would like, together with you, to engage this question of love. In your own words – what is love to you?

        • Kateri

          There is a really important distinction to make here. I agree with you that it is possible to explain our behavior of cooperation from a purely materialistic standpoint. Cooperation does aid the survival of a species. But, in this case, cooperation is something subject to the more immediate drive for survival. Tendencies toward cooperation exist in our species only because it has proven to be useful behavior. We will strive for cooperation with or without God in our worldview because it is part of our nature, true, but ultimately there is no deeper meaning or justification for it. Are you satisfied with this? Atheism can uphold morality as a natural tendency of our species that has arisen because it aids our survival. Christianity can affirm that natural history, but also proclaim that morality corresponds to something real. It is a recognition that the inner call to love deeply, however it arose, is a communion with a truth that is beyond us. We have not made morality for our survival, rather, in our evolution we have gained awareness of something that is larger than ourselves. We see love and goodness as infinite, subject to nothing, immutable, beyond the value of anything material, and so we call it God.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=144902595 Libby Marie Barnes

    Marc. You are SO CL.

  • that one guy

    I saw boobies

  • A Catholic Woman

    I am new to this blog and really like it. It’s hard for me to think you’re so young. I am part of a movement of the church called Communion and Liberation, and you’re practically channeling Fr. Giussani! I am very impressed.

  • Jay E.

    An amazing post made all the more infinitely awesome by the fact that the Miserere was its soundtrack. :D

  • Mynacra

    Regardless of what any of ya’ll think, the first thing you need before anything can exist is consciousness. Without it, there is literally nothing. There’s no such thing as a physical world without consciousness to perceive it. My problem with atheists is that they’ve never actually taken the time to contemplate this. We didn’t come from nothing, that’s not logic. SOMETHING happened to get us here, and whether we know exactly what it is or not, that SOMETHING is the definition of God. There’s really only one conclusion though, consciousness. Consciousness is the ability to be creative, the power of creation. This is God, you are God, we are God. =]

    • Alexandra

      Have you actually asked atheists whether or not they contemplate those issues? I’m guessing not because your conclusion is entirely false. You’re just incredibly mislead here.

      We didn’t come from nothing no, and that something isn’t necessarily God.

    • CP

      I don’t agree with your presumption that somethingness is the same as God, but even if I did, how does one make the leap from “something” to “Christian God who wants me to follow the tenets of Catholicism?” Even if it were demonstrable that a divine something exists, how does this prove that the God you worship exists more truly than any other conceivable god?

    • Cal-J

      That sounds a little too, I dunno, is “Kantian” the right word? for my tastes. If you fall unconscious and I slap you in the face, since you weren’t conscious for it, does that mean I didn’t slap you?

  • Olivia

    This gives me hope for our generation, knowing there are people like you :)

  • Aaron David1998

    I remember when I was single and the incredibly incomplete and naive idea I had about what matrimony was like. The reality was so much more complex, sometimes extremely painful, but ultimately so much more than I could have conceived as a single person. I remember what I thought being a parent was like before I had children, the difference is hard to describe. I remember what was life was like when I was an atheist/agnostic, how I wish I would have been open to the spiritual side of life before middle age. I have thought long and hard how to pass on the beauty of Christ’s love to my non-believing family member’s. I think part of the problem is it is such a personal relationship, like marriage. It is hard for those that are not in the relationship to understand how entwined and magnified your lives are. The couple even develops their own language based on shared history which others don’t understand. Christian words were such a turn off to me when I was an atheist, because I didn’t know or share in the history those words came from. I wish everyone could look with open minds at the whole of the gift that God is offering and see the beauty, wisdom and love that is there, but the truth is, some aren’t ready for it and some will never accept. The offer will always be there though, when you are ready.

  • Paul Wendlandt Iv

    @ David.
    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” -Epicurus

    An good quote to get you thinking. Hear is a refutation of god blatantly stolen from debate.org

    http://www.debate.org/debates/It-is-illogical-to-refute-the-possibility-of-God/1/

    1. God is defined as a being who necessarily exists and is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.
    2. Necessarily existent beings are beings who exist in all possible worlds.
    3. Anything that is not logically impossible is “possible.”
    4. It is possible that God does not exist, i.e. there is a possible world in which God does not exist.
    5. If there is a possible world where God does not exist, then God cannot exist in all possible worlds.
    6. God is not necessarily existent.
    7. God does not exist.

    And there you have it.

    • Cal-J

      You people let this stand for two weeks? Wow.

      “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.t Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” -Epicurus

      This challenge rests on several assumptions. First and foremost: “Evil” is an entity to itself.

      If God were to be morally perfect, and all powerful; He must bring an end to evil and injustice, or simply not cause it.

      Our response is that “evil” is not a thing that God causes, or, under his own rules, prevents.

      Evil is the failure of good, much in the same way that darkness is the failure of light.

      It presupposes that there is a contradiction between an all-good, (I’m used to arguments that include the “all-knowing” factor), all-powerful being and the existence of evil. The argument as it stands likewise fails to account for the potential other option: Perhaps God has a morally sufficient reason to allow evil to exist. Some propose that God respects human free will and desires that we freely choose to love him.

      As to your list.

      “4. It is possible that God does not exist, i.e. there is a possible world in which God does not exist. ”

      Problem: You have yet to demonstrate that “it is possible that God does not exist”. You have CLAIMED it is possible, but you have yet to demonstrate.

      I can just as easily claim that “It is possible that there are square circles”, but that would require me to bastardize both the terms “square” and “circle” out of useful applicability. Further, my claim has no bearing on reality.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/U5IKIMDHAVE5KTSWPODOCXQRVE Diamond

    You are so brilliant.

  • Steve

    I just read your post after finding your blog by fluke.
    Marc- you have nailed it. I am over 50 and you just re awakened the passion I have for God for exactly the reasons you put forth in the article. It’s not about bashing atheists- most of your commenters seem to miss your point entirely but who cares- you have a gift for expressing the truth beautifully and I thank you for speaking out.

  • http://www.feminismthecatholicfword.blogspot.com/ Christine Falk Dalessio

    Just came across this… my heart is bubbling over, thank you. “And thus out from the Mordor of verbiage we come back to the Point. The problem I have with atheism, materialism and all the rest is not so much that they are false ideologies, as that they demand I be content with the limited”… yes, yes, and most emphatically, yes!

  • Korou

    Some thoughts I’d like to share on this post:
    Quote: There is an ache within atheism an awful lot like unrequited love.
    Response: Really? Speaking as an atheist, I can’t say I’ve felt it. I have heard a lot of atheists say that they actually find quite a lot of fulfilment in their lives, actually, from work, learning, discovery, and love.

    Quote: The problem I have with atheism, materialism and all the rest is not so much that they are false ideologies, as that they demand I be content with the limited… I must be content with living a life that is exhaustible, a life where love has its bounds, truth is caged and beauty stops at a certain point.
    Response: If atheists are right, if there is in fact no God, then yes, I am afraid this is true. I’m sure all atheists (setting aside certain objections to the moral character of the Christian God, which belong to another discussion) would be quite happy to carry on living after death, especially if their lives were to continue in a better place. But if atheists are right, surely it is better to face up to the truth?

    Quote: For if what we can scientifically see is all there is, then there is a limit to all. Religion frees us to plunge unimaginable depths — atheism denies our propensity for infinity and demands we play in the shallows.
    Response: Here’s the thing: you are not writing that religion is true, therefore we are free to plunge unimaginable depths; you are writing that if religion is not true you would like to believe in it anyway so that you might plunge to unimaginable depths. This is a fallacy of wish fulfilment.

    Quote: Christ bled and died that we might have infinite love, infinite goodness, infinite beauty, and the infinite satisfaction of our hungry, pining hearts. We are to be infinitely fulfilled. We are meant for unimaginable ecstasy.
    Response: (sourly) and there will be icecream forever, I suppose. Look, there are good reasons to believe religion is true – although obviously as an atheist I don’t believe any of them are good enough, otherwise I wouldn’t be an atheist – but believing in God because life would be unhappy if you didn’t – that’s not a good reason.


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