Doing Comment Triage [check back for updates]

Doing Comment Triage [check back for updates] June 18, 2012

I really appreciate all the warm messages of support that I’m getting in the announcement post from this morning, but I’m concerned that the critical comments are going to get buried, so I’m using this post to highlight the ones I’ve responded to so far.  If I haven’t gotten to yours yet, and still haven’t in a few days, feel free to still ping and remind me.  I may be waiting because I’ve got a post lined up that responds to your comment or I may have just lost track of it.

You know I’m a pugilist at heart, so please understand that I appreciate argumentative comments at least as much as I do messages of support. If you want to pick a fight with someone, you have to respect them, if not flat out love them, and think that they’re capable of responding to reason. So many thanks and just make sure you’re specific enough with critiques to give me something to bite into.

The person’s name links to their comment, which I’ve blockquoted or excerpted here.  My replies are below them at the links. Oh, and I’m only throwing links in here if I tried to write something at least a little substantive, so nothing that’s just a “I’ll get to this later” in this list.


…is this a troll? I feel like the post-”Turing” timing is too suspicious for this to be legit. Also, c’mon – “I guess Morality just loves me or something”? Really?

I dunno – I’m calling troll until I see definitive evidence one way or the other.

Stephen Newport:

“where does morality come from?”

It comes from the human desire to live…. well.

Consider the fact that morality does not have to come from “above” or have to be engrained in the webbing of physics to be reasonable, useful and good. Granting the foundation of morality in any god puts you at great risk of defeating the purpose of it all when you are told to do something that clearly goes against the point of living, on this planet in this only life…. well.


I always wonder how non-religious people took the leap away from rationality and embraced religion, I guess this is as good an example as any.

It’s a shame you didn’t re-examine your first principles when the result is engagement with a personal god, i.e. virtue ethics is a really poor choice in both pragmatic terms and in logic; even if there is an objective morality (there isn’t) it doesn’t even begin to suggest a deity; even if there is a deity there is no evidence it cares for humans; even if a deity cares for humanity there is no evidence it resembles anything as muddled as the god of Catholicism.

Perhaps you’ll revisit those ideas at some stage and realise your conclusions are so far from rational it’s unbelievable, but I think you always wanted to fall under the spell of religion (esp. Catholicism) you just couldn’t find a reason to justify it to yourself, but now you have. I hope it makes you happy.

PS. In a world of virtue ethics, where objective morality comes from god, surely the very concept of hell rules out the god of Catholicism?

Traveling Txn:

So what if morality is not a universal thing? What is its only something we construct within our societies. I think the historical evidence is pretty strong for that hypothesis seeing how there are wide differences in what different cultures consider moral once you get away from the big ones (ex: is it ok to kill?). Even on the big ones, that is not very universal since in many cultures the taboo against killing only extended to members of the group and not to outsiders. I think you can also look at how morality in western society has changed over time to show that there is not a universal morality since if there was it would be unchanging. I dont see how the question of where do moral come from leads you to a god much less a specific branch of christianity, but I suppose if that path brings you happiness then enjoy the journey, just dont stop questioning.


Oh, this is sad news Especially the analogy to mathematics: it’s just something we made up that sometimes turns out to be useful. Why couldn’t the same be true of morality? It’s something we make up that’s useful in running our societies.


Leah —
I found this to be really fascinating to read. For me, it was utterly unexpected, even though I’ve been following your blog for a while. I would have to say that I disagree with you for a variety of reasons, but it’s fascinating to see a conversion in action. You’ve probably wrestled with yourself over this tremendously, but I would wonder if you had considered a few things:
1. This appears to be a God-of-the-Gaps type explanation. Even if we really could not explain the origins of morality, why would that force us into accepting the existence of a magical being of some kind?
2. Why Catholicism and not some kind of virtue ethic deism? It seems awfully convenient that the religion of your immediate culture is the one which you chose. It’s not obvious (to me, anyway) why any of this would have anything to do with Jesus, the Pope, or any of those kinds of things. It seems that the most you could claim is that Morality is a Person and therefore some vague sort of god exists.

3. How do you deal with the Euthyphro Dilemma?

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  • Contrarian


  • Aaron M

    I’m going to hijack this post immediately, because I had this argument with Leah on Palm Sunday, actually.
    Contration wrote said that morality is like math, something we make up because it’s useful. The better analogy is physics. Math is not something that we make up because it’s useful, because (a) it’s often not useful and (b) the hypotheses imply the theorems without any reference to an actual universe inhabit. Intelligence beings in another universe with different physical principals would still derive 1+2+…+n=n(n+1)/2, but they might not have Newton’s Laws or the Special Relativity. Physics is the better analogy- does it matter if quantum mechanics is “true” so long as it makes accurate verifiable predictions? My belief is that a moral system is valid so long as it is useful, but there’s no way we can verify non-falsifiable beliefs, such as the afterlife, so feel free to choose whatever non-falsifiable beliefs that make you happy.
    If Leah is happier believing that Truth derives not from abstract principles but from a man who lived 2000 years ago, go for it. My problem with the Catholic Church is not so much specific dogma or its history but that the whole hierarchy is antithetical to my beliefs about the relationship of humans and God. I pray that Leah will continue to be a strong and thoughtful advocate for what she (and not the Pope or her priest or anyone else) believes in.

    • Contrarian

      The point of comparison is to contest the Platonic analogy Leah made between math and morality. Math is invented by humans and has continued to exist because it (sometimes) serves a useful function in better understanding the world. Likewise, morality is invented by humans and continues to exist because it is “useful” (although we must be wary of amphiboly).

      I think that mathematics is a better analogue than physics of morality exactly because of your point (b), that there’s no reference to objective reality. There’s no truth in mathematics, just consistency. There’s no truth in abstract morality, either, because it’s on the “ought” side of the is-ought divide.

      • I think morality is more like game theory than physics. I attempted to post a chess analogy at the old thread, but maybe it’s held up in moderation? Anyway, boiled down: There’s no rule in chess that you can’t sacrifice your queen for a pawn at the start of a chess game, but if you want to win the game, you shouldn’t do that. That “shouldn’t” is a *strategic* rule – ‘ought’ doesn’t arise from ‘is’, but from ‘is’ *and a goal*.

        If physics act as the ‘rules of the game’ in the universe, and humans have goals, then strategic rules would *have* to arise. I think we keep finding better and better strategies (historical moral progress, e.g. rejection of slavery, rights of women, etc.) in much the same way as chess theory progresses.

        • Alex

          I like the comparison to game theory. It has the same issue that morality does in that the ‘end goal’ is arbitrary, but that there is still an objective means the achieve that end goal. The difference (and this is why I also like the physics comparison) is that game theory can derive this means without any reference to reality a priori, but the means to acheive the goals in morality are not derived from a priori facts.

      • Daniel Lasris

        Math is not man made or made up! Math is a constant and can be seen in everything and can explain everything. Religion cannot explain anything that is not already explained. Science works to explain everything through evidence and procedure to find that evidence. If Science cannot explain something, it investigates and looks for the answer. Religion does not do this. Religion refutes all scientific evidence to explain through blind faith and belief.

        Leah is moving backwards and does not even realize it. How can you you go from reason to fantasy?

        Morality is inherent in all human beings at the time of birth and no religion or God(s) are need to explain or enforce morality. Look around and ask people that were born and lived a life without indoctrination where they get their morals from? I am an atheist and my morals are better than most Christians. To go from Atheism to Catholicism is the biggest backwards leap in all of humanity.

        On the other hand, if she is happy with her new found ignorance, then I am happy for her! Good luck Leah, you will need it!

    • What, then, are your beliefs about the relationship between humans and God? If Catholicism contradicts your beliefs on that matter, I’d be interested to hear what they are.

    • Actually, from the philosophical self-description of Leah I’ve read elsewhere, this doesn’t seem like much of a “transition” or “conversion,” actually. Dualist? Transhumanist? You were looking for something transcendental, I wager, even if not consciously, before coming to this point, Leah.

      And, this is why “atheist” is such an incomplete label. Hundreds of millions of Buddhists in Theravada and other traditions are “atheist,” too.

      For that reason, after my primary self-label in this part of my life as “secular humanist,” I use something like “philosophical naturalist” or “anti-metaphysician” next.

    • underground.apostle

      what then if she truly and honestly arrives at the same truths as her pope, priest, and for that matter, the great majority of intellectuals who have existed EVER? then is she no longer being honest according to your standards?

  • Rita

    Welcome home, Leah! You will be in my prayers.

  • anon101

    I’m curious how your position on gay marriage and abortion are going to change over time. Since you choose a non-literal sect go Christianity already why didn’t you go for sect with moral values? Or is it the transubstantiation that does it for you?

  • CK

    I’m 42, kept the Catholic faith all my life, but discovered that 12 years of Catholic school had taught me Cultural Marxism instead of the Faith. As you journey on, bear in mind that you are going out as an intellectual missionary to a whole lot of uncatechized Catholics. I had to do a lot of research to not only find the Church’s real teachings and, even as someone highly motivated to believe, I still had a hard time accepting them. I finally had to admit faith and reason go hand in hand. I wrote a letter to an atheist using only empirical evidence to support the most controversial teachings of the faith. You can find it here if you are interested:

    And Catholic Answers Magazine has published my short “conversion” story here:

    • Slothmorse

      I agree with CK in that there is a great deal of political/social chaff that will have to be sorted through to get down to the actual religious kernel of the Church’s teachings. If someone came to my particular parish at your stage of the exploration, Leah, I would probably steer him or her to another, more stable situation. (Our rector is a Zen Bhuddist/Christian with a bent towards Mostlem equivalency and a penchant for throwing in Zoastrian prayers — and, no, this is not a joke. I’m on the vestry and *I’m* not laughing.) Find some good guides — there are still committed, intelligent, faithful and learned clergy and lay persons out there.

      • I second CK and Slothmorse that you need to be cautious about the political and social chaff. Also, your conversion story about finally realizing that you can’t define a system from within the system–that is actually a common route to Truth. I’m sure you’ve seen it in CS Lewis, but perhaps not Arthur Leff’s review of Knowledge and Politics. If you are not familiar with it, you might find it helpful now. A Professor Unger wrote a book called Knowledge and Politics that wrestled with the ‘where does right and wrong come from’ question. Having hit the same blank you did, he ended the book, “Speak God.” Professor Leff reviewed the book by answering as the Devil. The link is long, so google Memorandum from the Devil, Yale Law School.

    • MountainTiger

      I hesitate to ask, but as someone who sees “Cultural Marxism” slung around from time to time, I have never understood what it means. I have met avowed Marxists, but I have never met a “Cultural Marxist.”

      • underground.apostle

        marxism as it’s “positive” attributes can be thought to have an application in society apart from its inherent Godlessness and proclivity towards evil.

      • Slothmorse

        I see “cultural Marxism” as a slang term to describe those who enjoy the fuzzy-good-feeling of showing solidarity with the “working class” (as if the rest of us don’t work), but don’t want to give up their Prius and subscription to Smithsonian magazine. Sorry, sorry, that’s unkind of me. I’m working on not being angry at facile, shallow people who are trying to hijack my faith because it looks “cool” to try to arc-weld, say, Shintoism with the 15th century British monasticism — “they’re all the same.” Grrrr. Please help me not to be angry, because I am! *You* try being a Vestry memmber with someone who thinks that there’s no difference between Daiwa and Easter! (“It’s the light of god, after all”) Must. Stay. Calm.

        • Slothmorse

          Leah, I’ve corrected my e-mail address (typo in the original). Anyway, calmer now. Don’t let those of us who are involved in the nuts-and-bolts of keeping the bills paid and keeping the heat on (do you *know* how much it cost to replace one single pump in a 110-year-old church?!). It’s just like room-mates snarling over underwear on the shower rod. In the end, God works out the details.

  • anodognosic

    Not that I expect that you’ve sprung forth with a fully formed theology, but I’ve always been most interested in your epistemology, and I am wondering how that has changed, in particular with regards to the Bible, and how you might expect it to change as you move forward.

    • +1 on this. I’m particularly interested in your view of the Bible and how it’s changed/changing for you post-conversion.

    • Contrarian

      +2 Especially the epistemology.

  • Lizard

    Quote “I don’t know”. (please insert Unicorn) Now it all makes sense!!! What was I honestly thinking, being an Atheist?!!! Silly me. There’s only one way to find morals, look to Unicorn for HE is the true answer!

    • MattyD

      Your choice of the word “unicorn” is a good one, in that it helps illustrate exactly what she was NOT talking about. If you read her post, she describes having *experienced* a facet of morality that felt true to her, NOT having constructed an explanation to fill a gap. Since unicorns, to my knowledge, do not have a history of having been experienced by human beings, they bear no resemblance to what she’s describing. Second, she describes having experienced a sense that morality had person-like traits, (“I guess morality just loves me”). which is not something the resembles the common understanding of unicorns. 3) She seems to describe an experience that seems to correlates with the experience of millions or billions of other humans, including thousands of brilliant writers, philosophers, etc, who have wrestled with the implausibility of their experience but have come away persuaded none the less. Which is not true of unicorns. I suspect the reason you reject what she’s saying is because you haven’t experienced it yourself. But don’t assume that your exclusion from this experience has any bearing on whether it’s a reality.

      • anon

        Reality doesn’t care what “felt true”. Brains form beliefs about Satan; convincing fictions, not facts.

  • Maureen

    Congratulations on your conversion! I am fascinated when I read of when atheists and anti-Catholics convert. Thank you for taking it public and taking the heat from those who do not believe as you do. You have the support and prayers of this cradle Catholic. The Heavens are rejoicing!!

  • Gerry

    I tried .. but I can’t get the relevance of a grossly overs-sized helmet to this topic.

  • J. R. P.

    Just a thought: your conversion, despite it being executed in a public forum due to your circumstances, was one based on a private revelation. That’s awesome, and it’s probably the way it mostly works – my reversion many years ago was also a sort of personal encounter and recognition – but one of the crucial aspects of my continuing conversion was to move to the public revelation, which is the content of faith (depositum Fidei). It is this that gives faith legs and strength – a foundation and anchor, but also a motive force – without which the other thing turns to sand, I perceive. RCIA will acquaint you with the outcomes of the Church’s reasoning – the “mind of the Church”, but it’s very hard-pressed to give you the underlying syllogistics to allow you to “think with the Church” (sentire cum Ecclesia).

    Unlike the modern (protestant) notion, where all religion is a private affair, the depth and character of the Church’s teaching is intentionally universal: that is, public. And, here’s the first rub: the Church teaching ought to be both known and assented to. The problem is, there is a fairly large amount of it, and the critical mind, withholding assent until some arbitrary point that “all is known”, will never make it through it all. So, instead, consider every small assent a victory and a step in the right direction in the short term, and never stop becoming more and more converted to the Truth.

    I can only affirm to you (as yet another witness) that that reasoning exists, it is consistent, it is consonant with lived experience, and it is universal in the sense that the critical, centermost parts (often labeled ‘dogma’) are true for all times and in all places. It is by faith that I can also identify it as the Logos – the Divine Wisdom. That said, you will find it is _not_ consonant with modern philosophy or what you might see on TV. Beyond that, nobody can do your thinking for you, and if you take away one message from all this, let it be: the real heavy lifting is yet to come.

    In the purely intellectual sphere (separated from the assent of faith – and remember, we have to know _that_ the Church teaches X, before we can assent to it), it holds in many ways the same space as (sound) philosophy or, indeed, mathematics.

    There are axioms that ought to be studied (such as the broad Laws of Thought, rejected by post-moderns to the detriment of their capacity to reason, or specific articles of faith such as the inerrancy of scripture and tradition, from whence by direct derivation most of the notions of authority – like the authority to confect the Eucharist – obtain). These axioms intrinsic to the Faith are not unfounded presuppositions, but building up to them requires a relative complexity that is hard to demonstrate to the neophyte.

    There is a methodology to be studied (Thomistic-Aristotelian philosophy is your safest bet, being untainted by the post-Duns-Scotistic errors of the moderns, and usually mediated these days by Maritain, who could be said to have resuscitated it as a living philsophy in the face of modern’s errors in the early 20th C), and after that, you can get to the practical theologies: Biblical theology, moral theology, mystagogy, Christology, Mariology.

    Finally, Systematic, Dogmatic and Mystical theology is the – I’m reaching for an analogy – quantum chromodynamics of the Faith. Sure, like the Bible, you can read any of them as a lay person and get something out of them, but for the expert, their content obtains a precision not at all unlike math, given the existing depositum Fidei.

    These things do not come in some pre-packaged form, the way we active Catholics get them is partly by going to school, and mostly by reading a lot: the saints, the philosophers, the great theologians and especially the Doctors of the Church, the Church Fathers, the Councils, etc. Doing so will purge you of the enlightenment notion that everybody between the Plato and before Descartes in the 16th C was an idiot.

    I would classify the early stage of faith as an ‘early assent’. What you’re really assenting to is the beginnings of a trust-relationship, which is of (pardon the use of a word hated by moderns) obedience, in the sense of ob-audire. That trust relationship is the key one in Augustine’s formula “faith seeking understanding”, but it’s not the only relationship that enters into the fullness of Christian life.

    The flaw of early assent is that you can’t then stand up and give a reason for your faith, which while fine for protestants, is less cool for Catholics, so we still have work to do. This work lasts approximately precisely as long as our lives do. It’s like it’s designed to work that way.

    • Geste

      To summise:

      Bullshit taste better when you eat it in small bites.

      • mrmandias

        Your surmise would be equally inaccurate as a summary.

      • Your comment about short comments is probably true.

    • J.R.P said it much better than I could. If I might add, if we now take it as a given that God exists, then all the proposed study is only necessary because that is what YOU (Leah) needs! I am a doctor, reader, thinker, philosopher, in short, someone like yourself. But logically, God would not have made himself accessible only to people who know big words, like us. Pray the hours and let Him teach YOU.

      One of the gifts of the Roman church is the Rosary. Contrary to what you might hear, it is a meditation device. The genius is that in normal meditation, your mind is free to roam in the light and in the dark. You can lose track of your foundations and even time itself. The Rosary guides you in the light. Like a guide rope in one hand and a sheer cliff opposite, it keeps you safely on a path and defines your journey. Its fixed length prevents you from coming out of your meditation disoriented. If I can be of further help, feel free to email me.

      • A fantastic insight and one I agree with.

        God (all of the Trinity), Mary, and the Communion of angels and saints are all persons who listen to us and we should listen to, especially to God acting in our lives, which all the rest help point us towards.

  • PJ


    Although I am a Catholic and not an atheist, I am curious as to the spiritual dimension of your conversion. Or was it purely intellectual? My own conversion was intellectual. Indeed, it took nearly two years before I began to mature in prayer and encounter the Living God. My heart of stone was eventually replaced with a heart of flesh, but the process was (in retrospect) agonizingly slow. Thankfully, even in our immaturity, “the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26). What is important is to guard against is vain imagination, which attempts to create a god-idol in our own image. Crucify yourself, and you He will reveal Himself to you. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

    • @PJ – only two years to move from head to heart? You must’ve been on the autobahn of spirituality. For myself, I was convinced almost twenty years ago of the truth of Catholic metaphysics and anthropology – and the morality that flows therefrom. I still struggle with the idea that God is a person with whom I can have any kind of relationship. I’m entirely stuck in my head.

      @Leah – I’ve long admired your integrity, and I think it’s a tremendous gift that it was insight into the personal nature of morality that seems to have led you to this decision. I hope you have the chance to expand more fully on that insight. There’s a deep truth there that, though it may ultimately be beyond human understanding, is well worth exploring. At least, it eludes my understanding, but I hope I might learn more from your journey.

      Meanwhile, thank you for your blog and your example. You’ll continue to be in my prayers.

      • Jim Kennedy

        “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” -John 14

        • Geste

          I am damn sexy. page 20 line 5

  • J. R. P.

    I guess, rereading, I forgot all the rest of the Transcendentals (Truth was what I focused on above). Goodness (charity in act), Beauty (in art, nature), Unity (in love and communion), and Being (life in God) are all also intrinsic to the Catholic act of Faith, not just the intellectual content.

    My goodness, where will we find the time? It’s like it would take forever to learn and appreciate all the good things. For me, it’s the logic of the Incarnation that permits us to have all ‘the nice things’.

  • PJ


    You give me too much credit. I am still a poor sinner who can barely stick to his daily prayer routine. But whereas before I was dead, now I live — if only as a spiritual infant.

    I was greatly helped by the writings of the eastern Christian monastics, both modern and ancient, especially St. Isaac of Nineveh, St. Silouan, and Archimandrite Sophrony. The teachings of an Orthodox priest, Father Stephen Freeman ( also helped mightily.

    The knowledge of God comes only through love, humility, and poverty of spirit. To know Christ, you must become like Christ. “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” What are His words? “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

    I’ve always found the ancient kenotic hymn from Philippians to be a key to the Christian life:

    “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
    But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
    And was made in the likeness of men:
    And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself,
    And became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

    “Let this mind be in you.” Christian life is the process of emptying yourself out so as to make room for the Spirit. We die to self so as to live to God. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

    Archimandrite Sakharov wrote a book entitled, “I Love Therefore I Am,” on the spiritual teachings of Elder Sophrony. It is valuable:

    “God is love,” thus He is known only in, through, and by love. And love is living for the Other with joy and thanksgiving, after the pattern of Christ and His holy apostles, saints, and martyrs.

    • God is indeed love. It’s because I’m not very good at loving my neighbors that I have trouble loving God. I’m proud enough to be pained by the slowness of my progress in learning to love.

      Thanks for the Eastern resources. Looks intriguing and, hopefully, helpful!

    • Have you read and (St.) John Cassian?

      I would recommend him myself.

  • Dear Leah,
    I just read of your attending RCIA classes. Congratulations! When you get to the studies of Saints, please consider the saint I promote, Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. Here’s our website: I write the President’s Message and post the “thank yous” (see “Prayers and Sharing”).
    May you continue to be blessed!
    Your brother in Christ,
    Joe Cunningham
    Philadelphia, PA

  • Kenneth Gould

    If you’re still fielding questions; do you believe Hemant Mehta deserves to go to hell?

  • Armand Tiede

    what exactly is she smoking? JESUS CHRIST! “It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth”??? So? Who gives a flying Muhammed’s ass about what anybody believes? Just because one feels like believing that X is true doesn’t make X true. This person was never a true atheist. And even if she was, her way of thinking & reasoning was clogged by religious BS

    She is regurgitating the same old ‘Morality’ argument. “Without God I can’t be moral blah blah blah…so therefore God exists and now I’m a catholic”.

    I sincerely hope she wouldn’t be raping kids now that she is a catholic.

    p.s. If there’s a God (which I’m 100 percent sure there’s not), is there anything that stopped Moses, King David, the God of the Bible etc from raping virgins and wiping out entire nations in the Old testament? Also, if we are strictly talking about the Christian God, then what’s stopping Christians from killing and raping when according to the New Testament, any and all sin will be forgiven with the exception of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which will never be forgiven? (Source: Matthew 12:31-32)

    • Kenneth Gould

      “This person was never a true atheist. ”

      Let’s not do this, please. It’s one of the main lines on the Blag Hag’s comment, linked on the next post in this blog.

      • Geste

        Who exactly gives a toss what blah hag says….. Something you may not realise but because it is written therefore it must be doesn’t fly with atheists.

  • Sean

    It’s hard for me to engage with the reasoning that caused you to convert, because there are just such comprehensive differences in our assumptions. (For example, I’m such an epistemic pragmatist that I believe mathematical laws are known through experience!)

    But I do want to highlight some things, including the expanded version of Euthyphro I hold to. It seems to me that there are four options:

    1) Morality is defined using God. Two problems here. First, defining morality according to God’s nature or desires does not prove anything about morality as it is commonly understood. You are simply defining the word in a convenient way. In order to prove that your definition of morality corresponds with what other people mean by the term, you have to show where the connection comes from. This leads to problem 2, which is that you now *cannot* know that morality exists without knowing certain attributes of God’s first.

    2) God is defined using morality. This induces the same problem, but in reverse. If you define God as Goodness, you must either be willing to accept that God is not a person, or prove that Goodness is a person. You claim to believe this, but I don’t see why. In fact, I don’t even understand what this would mean. It seems to me to be a category error to take a property of human behavior (or a value judgment) and attribute agency to it, or even “existence”! (I guess that this is why I’m not a Platonist. I can see how redness can be *instantiated* in an object, but to say that redness “exists” is literally incomprehensible to me, unless it means only that redness is instantiated at least once, i.e. at least one object is red. The concept of redness also exists, within human minds, but that does not imply that the property of redness exists in the same way that I do, much less that it is meaningful to talk about it as if it was a person!)

    3) God and morality are not defined in terms of each other, but can be shown through purely logical means to be related. I have never seen this done, at least not without being horribly muddled. In order to prove God’s existence this way, you’d have to prove the existence of morality without referring to God, then show that God’s existence necessarily follows, said God having been defined without moral terminology in the first place.

    4) God and morality are not defined in terms of of one another, and are shown to be related empirically. Trying to prove God’s existence in this way either amounts to having empirical evidence for God, or empirical evidence that Goodness is a person. In the former case, morality is not needed to prove God’s existence. In the latter case, I still find the idea to be somewhere between fuzzy and incoherent.

    There’s a fad of saying that the way out of Euthyphro is to declare goodness to be part of God’s nature. I don’t see this as relevant to my understanding of the Euthyphro dilemma (outlined above). Either you are defining terms in such a way as to make the connection between God and goodness a meaningless tautology, or you are asserting the existence of a logical link between terms defined separately (which is never actually provided), or you are invoking empiricism, which IMO does not actually support any such link.

    I’m also puzzled by the attraction to Catholicism. A single, unified telos does not seem to me a particularly likely (why should I accept the existence of such an “ultimate” purpose to anything?), nor has anything in the Catholic tradition recommend it to me as the one true faith it purports to be. Above all, I have trouble believing that there is moral value in *believing certain things*, independent of whether or not one has the good reason to believe them true! Certainly Christianity has always tended to claim that the quality of your afterlife hinges on maintaining certain beliefs, potentially under threat of hell. Which is a pointless threat to someone who doesn’t believe in it. And if someone actually wanted to go to hell, the compassionate thing to do would be to treat whatever mental illness they have, or at worst annihilate them. I would not lock someone in a torture chamber so they could inflict unlimited amounts of pain on themselves, just because they hated themselves and really wanted to be locked away.

    Finally, I do not understand this desire to embed morality as deeply as possible into the fabric of reality. If it lives there, we just have to discover that. If morality lives at some more human level, e.g. as a technology/adaptation for fostering cooperation, we may as well learn to live with that. I don’t know what it means to decide that morality is a person, just because you want it to be objective and have no other way to make that work. Whatever it is, it doesn’t strike me as good reasoning.

    • Another Euthyphro fad going around is the conviction that in Euthyphro Plato argues that one cannot define good in terms of God’s will. It’s an easy mistake to make, since he argues that you can’t define good in terms of doing the gods’ will, but the number of that noun is key. In the dialog, Plato has Socrates point out that given multiple gods, if they disagree, then clearly their will cannot be “the good”. And if they agree, it must be because they all agree with some higher good.

      Deploying Euthyphro against a monotheistic religion which holds God to be perfectly good (to be the Platonic good) misses the entire point.

      • AHBritton

        @Darwin Catholic,

        It is generally acknowledged in the philosophical literature that the modern “Euthyphro Dilemma” is only inspired by the dialogue from which it gets its name, but is not identical to the original which deals with piety and polytheism obviously.

        So this isn’t really a criticism of the modern philosophical argument.

  • Blerina

    Welcome home my dear sister!!! God has been waiting so long for his precious daughter to come to Him and finally call Him “Abba Father”…..There is a party in Heaven where angels will be rejoicing and trumpets shall make a joyful noise as one dear soul will be receiving the special grace of the Sacraments. I, myself, have gone through a long journey of conversion from being Atheist to Protestant to Catholic and I know now I’m finally HOME. You will always be in my prayers.

  • PJ

    Sean and Armand,

    You do not know of what you speak. What you describe is not the apostolic faith. You have thrown together a few crude caricatures and straw men nothing more. You do not understand Scripture in light of Catholic tradition. Scripture is prayed and meditated upon, not read like a textbook. It requires patience and meekness to unravel, as well as the assistance of the holy fathers and mothers. If you wish to understand the faith, go find a holy and righteous man or woman who is steeped in prayer and alive with the Spirit, and they will show you the love of the Trinity — but you will need humility. Every Mass, the priest sings four little words that speak volumes about Catholicism: “The mystery of faith!” Mystery: This is the word that one of Catholicism’s wisest theologians of the 20th century used in place of “God.” Appropriately so. You speak as though you are yourselves gods, yet by your very reckoning you are but blood and bone and gray matter. The vanity of man is astounding. At least the true Christian is aware of this, and thus humbles himself before the Tremendous Mystery of reality. Be still and open your heart and you too will know that the universe is Personal, and that reality is grounded in the One Who Is Love.

    • Sean Patrick Santos

      Please allow me to defend this for a moment, because you really don’t seem to have engaged with I actually said.

      “What you describe is not the apostolic faith.”

      I only gave a few general sentences describing my objections to Christianity as I have seen it described and practiced. Some things (e.g. the bit about whether hell is just because some people choose it) are items that I *know*, very well, are simply questions that have arisen in the other thread and are not about Catholicism directly. I apologize if I treated them as if I were describing Catholic dogma.

      Please understand that I am not presuming to describe what other people believe. That said, I wonder whether you feel that the “apostolic faith”, as you understand it, suggests that atheists (if sufficiently virtuous, sincere, modest) can just as easily get to heaven as Catholics. If the answer is “no”, then my objection stands; my understanding of Catholicism is that faith is considered to have moral worth, and that belief is a core element of faith. It is not hell in particular that I object to, but the idea that it is morally good to believe something for *any* reason other than because one has a reason to suppose that it is true. You are not actually arguing against me, but simply stating that I am wrong without argument.

      If we cannot talk about that openly, I am not interested in a condescending statement about how I am not humble or patient enough to understand. The way you are speaking is not open or patient or meek, but rather seems to be talking down to me as someone who obviously lacks the *experience* or *humility* to properly take part in this discussion. I do not appreciate this, not will I accept that you have a better epistemology than I do, just on your say-so.

      I note also that you assume that I have never attempted to do what you ask me to do. While you are correct with respect to me specifically, with respect to Catholicism specifically, what would you tell a former Catholic who had tried precisely the approach you advocate? Do you sincerely believe that no such person exists?

      In the context of philosophical discussion, the main purpose of reason is to provide an *objective* framework for communication with others, one that does not rely on shared *subjective* experiences. I expect that this is why I have heard several times from Catholics in general, and clergy and theologians in particular, that Catholicism can be defended (at least in part) through reason, in particular through natural law arguments. In this, either it is possible to engage in rational discussion of the subject, or else they are wrong and Catholicism cannot be rationally defended. (In fact, if reason cannot be used in this way, between believers and nonbelievers, that seems a heavy blow indeed to Thomism.)

      “You speak as though you are yourselves gods”

      If this is a very passive-aggressive, “poetic” way of calling me arrogant, I don’t appreciate that. But if you literally believe that I am trying to speak as if I were a god, I have no idea what you are talking about. I guess a lot of Christians seem to think that even though atheists don’t believe in God, they put something else in his place, like humanity, or themselves, or science, or government, or something. They miss the point, which is that most of us do not believe that there *is* some specific greatest thing out there. The metaphorical “throne” of God is not empty, or occupied by something else, but rather there is no such throne in our conception of the world.

      I know that I am just flesh and blood. I also believe that all human beings are just ordinary flesh or blood. No matter what religion they belong to, no matter how exalted or despised, none are more holy than me, and *none are one whit more profane*. I can be humble in the sense of recognizing my own ignorance and finiteness. I *will not* be “humble” in the false sense, that of placing myself in submission to another ordinary human being for no other reason than because he asks me to, or his followers ask me to. If he has some special property, some special insight or power or moral knowledge, let him *show* that first. Otherwise, I can only regard him as probably another one of the thousands of leaders of false religions that plague the earth.

      Or her. I have serious concerns about the treatment of gender and sexuality within the Church too, and am not impressed by descriptions of the supposed “complementary” roles of men and women, but that’s a tangent and a whole new can of worms, so I’ll leave them out for now.

      More confusing is how one should show “humility” before the “Tremendous Mystery”. I am well aware of my own finiteness, ignorance, etc. I am certainly aware of ways in which other human beings have done much better than I, and whom I can learn from (without being totally submissive). But I am not aware of any such mystery to subject myself to. What is even being asked here? If there is some Mystery that I know nothing about, then obviously I don’t know what it means to humble myself before it either. I have meditated in an attempt to clear my mind of my own thoughts completely, as part of an investigation into Zen Buddhism. I don’t think that’s what you mean though, and either way the experience did not lend me any insight into the spiritual or the supernatural or a single great Tremendous Mystery at all.

      As far as mystery goes, there are even two more objections. Firstly, if any discussion of “mystery” appeals to me, it is that of Daoism. I’m not a Daoist (at least in the mystical sense, or in truly having “faith” in its ability to describe fundamental aspects of reality), but it strikes me as having communicated more insightful, credible moral truths in my years of study than the Bible has yet conferred. Why, then, should I not be humble and patient in studying the Dao De Jing and the writings of Zhuangzi instead? I have only so many years on Earth. To say that Catholicism will become clear after a few years of devotion is asking me to place it ahead dozens of other major faiths (thousands of smaller ones) and my own philosophical investigations, to drop everything and gamble on one religion, one in which I see nothing uniquely good, at a time when I no longer believe that any of them has much chance of being true. This is an unreasonable request unless Catholicism shows some specific sign of being probably right.

      The second objection is more semantic. To say that something is “mysterious” is not an objective quality, but a subjective quality of the relationship between an object and the person trying to understand it. God can be mysterious “to humans” or “to every sentient being” or “to me personally” or “to my dog” or “to Alize”. God can not be mysterious as an objective quality of God itself, because the word “mysterious” has no meaning except by describing the relationship between conscious beings and a thing being percieved.

      I’m sorry if this has gone on too long. But there are differences between us that are much more complex than you seemed to appreciate. I hope you can respect that, and not keep claiming that we disagree because *you* humble yourself while I’m too arrogant. Even if you didn’t mean to claim that, that was to me the obvious implication of what you said. Take a little care with what you say.

      • Slow Learner

        Pwned. Well played Sean.

      • PJ


        1. I think that you read more hostility into my words that I intended. That’s a difficulty with the internet — tone deafness. Nevertheless, I apologize if I can off as brusque. It was not my intent, though I am prickly by nature. It is a fault of mine, and I regret if I allowed myself to indulge that sinful tendency.

        2. Interestingly, there is much in Daoism that foreshadowed the advent of Christ. You might enjoy this program: “Christ the Eternal Dao” ( St. Justin Martyr, one of the earliest apologists, wrote, “And hence there seem to be seeds of truth among all men” (First Apology). Christ is the Logos, the Word, “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). “In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). He is “the fulness … that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). Man cannot help but know the one in whom he “lives and moves and has his being,” as it says in Acts, and so all spiritual paths contain kernels of truth — but to be Catholic is to be part of the Body of Christ, to be joined to the Word, who is Truth itself.

        3. As for the semantic bit, there’s no use in playing word games. My point was this: I have seen naught but dreadful caricatures of Catholicism bandied about by atheists thus far. There seems no recognition of what Catholicism really teaches: That God became man so that man might become God, as so many great saints have said, including Augustine, Aquinas, Athanasius, and Irenaeus. Or, more truly, “god-like,” for we are remain creatures even after our glorification. This process of ‘theosis,’ as the Greeks call it, is achieved through kenosis, the emptying out of the self — what St. Paul called crucifying the “old man” or the “flesh” — by the spiritual disciplines: prayer, fasting, service, sacraments, and liturgy, but especially by the ministrations of the Spirit, who works despite our sinfulness. Christianity is not simply about loving, but becoming love, for “God is love,” as Saint John the Theologian declared. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (I Corinthians 13:13). The truth of this grand vision has captured some of the greatest minds in history: from Augustine to Aquinas, from Roger Bacon to Francis Collins, from Dante to T.S. Eliot, Dostoevsky Pedro Calderon de la Barca, from Nicholas of Cusa to Carlos Chagas Filho, Igor Stravinsky to Blaise Pascal.

        4. “If he has some special property, some special insight or power or moral knowledge, let him *show* that first.” If you meet a saint, she will not have to show you anything. Her presence will be enough to convince you. There is an old saying, “A saint can save a thousand souls.” I testify to the truth of this aphorism, and thank heaven that I was blessed with such an acquaintance. Nonetheless, your attitude is prideful and motivated from a desire for control and certainty. God and his saints can only be approached in a state of humility, love, and hope.

        5. I recognize your frustration with the elusive quality of some of my statements. I do not recall ever having believed in God prior to my conversion, even as a young child. I was a cynic who sneered at religion, but despised especially Christianity, which I deemed absurd at best and sinister at worst. Looking back . . . I shudder at my ignorance and hate, my vanity and pride. I am still a poor and broken sinner, but I am enlightened — if oh so faintly — by the brilliance of the One Who Is, to whom I give ceaseless thanksgiving with tears and trembling. Please do not shut yourself off from the magic and mystery of the Divine Reality. In the words of Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

        God bless you, friend, and may He be gracious to you and your own, amen.

      • Hugo

        wow, I saved your comment that was really well put

  • Matthew


    I’ve often dropped in on your blog to hear your take on things, but have never commented. I am Catholic. A youngish convert as well. Let me be the 1000th person to welcome you and wish you the best. Since you are no doubt getting all kinds of advice, let me just briefly add my own in the form of biographical anecdote about about a great scholar from the last century, a convert like yourself. His name was André-Jean Festugière, one of the great scholars of Neo-Platonism in modern times. His conversion and later entrance into the Dominican Order he attributed to the simple but profound experience of being loved by his Creator. He famously said the question that delineated ancient thought from what came after was: does God love us? He anguished over that question his entire life, since, being of a exquisitely sensitive temperment, he was very attuned to the world’s suffering. He found the answer in prayer and contemplation of the passion of Christ. Faith is not easy- you have to fight for it. Your journey is not over. Stay focused on God’s love as revealed in scripture and to His speaking to you in the depths of your conscience. Don’t let people bully you into perfect orthodoxy right away if you are not ready. If God is real and desires you to be there, he will guide you there in your time. I guess that is it. God bless.

  • I hope all your questions will be answered and your doubts resolved. I have only one warning. So many of my friends from our educational background have read and argued their way into the Church, and by and large they make splendid Catholics. The trouble is apt to come when the almost-bridal raptures of Communion and Confirmation are past, and the new Catholic begins to turn up for Sunday Mass in their regular parish church. There’s a tendency to expect to see Pope St. Pius X celebrating the Mass, assisted by St. Tarcisius (boy martyr of the Blessed Sacrament) and St. Thomas Aquinas preaching, St. Catherine at the organ and Pope St. Gregory the Great leading the choir. And then, what the new Catholic actually finds is a fair-to-middling preacher, pews full of kind and well-meaning but wholly unsophisticated ordinary folks, and a bossy person at the electric keyboard (or, worse, the guitar) playing the music SHE likes, often in bad taste and occasionally out-and-out blasphemous. In short, you’ll find the real, ordinary, Catholic Americans of the twenty-first century, who will think you sure are one real smart gal to be able to talk about philosophy and all that, but none of whom will be able to join you in conversation and argument. In that pass, fall back upon your fellow Yalie Catholic converts (or, like me, reverts) and the Catholics you’ve jousted with in the blogosphere. And here’s the kicker, that took me a while to realize: every faithful Catholic is dear to God, even the ones who aren’t terribly bright and argumentative. As heavily as he has blessed and burdened some Catholics with intellect and a taste for philosophical conversation, when push comes to shove it’s charity that’s dearest to Him of all. I’m often shamed by the spontaneous, loving charity of some Catholic whom I don’t consider very clever, but whose practical and generous care for others shows me up again and again. So stick with your educated Catholic friends, and at the same time have eyes open to learn from the great and Christ-like hearts you’ll find here and there among the quite ordinary Catholics in the pews.

  • Dear Leah,
    I wanted to express my happiness and support in this transition period in my life. I have been a lifelong Catholic myself, one who was born and raised Catholic, albeit admittedly from a background of disgruntled parents, family, or others who disliked the Catholic Church for a number of reasons. Now, God made me stubborn, prideful, and (perhaps like you call yourself) a pugilist. I knew God was real and hearing all the nasty things people would say about Him or the Church only served to make me study more and understand more about what felt so real and true to me. That feeling has never left me.

    I started reading you some time ago on and off, but with greater frequency. I’ve been very impressed with your analyses and style, so please keep up with that and with perfecting your craft.

    Like you, I’ve come to also really read more and more Chesterton and he really does seem prophetic in one sense in the way he handles problems. He is also just a pleasant man to read, which is more than I can say of many authors.

    I could go on, but you have enough to read in both praise and critique, so I’ll only say I’ll pray for you.

    I’ll say I find it somewhat funny that so many posts follow a pattern of “Why? But don’t you know? I can see how X leads you to Y, but C(atholicism)??? *shrug* I hope you’re happy…. (but don’t stop questioning [just in case you don’t realize that as a Catholic you won’t question God and be an assumption-monster or something])”

    A couple of thoughts on some comments:

    Traveling Txn says, “I think you can also look at how morality in western society has changed over time to show that there is not a universal morality since if there was it would be unchanging.”

    It’s a point, but it doesn’t really strike at the heart of morality. I’m writing about this now (with varied success) but sometimes a lot of the changes in morality have to do with how we actually view human beings, not necessarily morality just “evolving” which is a dubious claim to me, at best.

    Take the medieval idea of man and compare it to Hobbes, Mill, or Sartre. It seems to me like this author confuses a universal morality with a universal imperative for morality. Hobbes saw this problem, because no one could do a damn good thing. So he decided that the force of law (and someone else) would impose “goodness” on others.

    Contrarian said, “Oh, this is sad news Especially the analogy to mathematics: it’s just something we made up that sometimes turns out to be useful. Why couldn’t the same be true of morality? It’s something we make up that’s useful in running our societies.”

    Arguments from utility aren’t always fun. In this case, if we “made it up” and “it works” it would seem that it’s more accurate to say “it just to happened to work” or “chance.” I’m not sure I would subscribe to a doctor who said, “We’ll try this procedure and hope it works.” But this writer assumes it has been shown to work. With mathematics it’s impersonal whereas morality is personal.

    The problem no comes, in running society, as to what is the human good we should focus on and for what purpose? In the same way we would have to decide on what’s useful and best–an argument not often agreed upon.

    Thanks again!


  • Hugo

    As a new reader and a first time commenter I don’t expect this to hold much weight.
    Just a little background from me, I have never had a religion pushed upon me ever, obviously I came in contact with it from very early but it was never part of my life and I have never actually had a thought that a god may exist, even when I was still very young and (un)fortunate things happened and some people around me were saying “god loves you” or “angels are looking out for you” or “the devil is out for you” I was always skeptical and can never fathom thinking about the supernatural as actually existing.
    Reading your “coming out” post I think you did have a religious upbringing and even though I believe you really were an atheist (for a while) I don’t think a person can ever abandon a religious upbringing (however liberal), it is so encompassing and delivered from birth that it will never be possible to forget it or change the way the mind deals with (perceived) reality. The thing that really drove that point home to me was the part about praying, to me it is the utmost silliest action in any religion, it’s like talking to yourself in a structured way. But I can understand that it means something for believers, I really do, my own children picked up the concept really young, it seems like a very natural thing to do, I probably did it at 4 or 5 too, appealing to a higher power is very powerful but when I’m around I ask them if it works and when they pray for me to take actions (like let them watch TV or get another candy) I try to let them reason out why what they are doing has no effect on me (sometimes I give in, sometimes I do not, I guess I’m more god like that way, perhaps I should always give in so that they know I’m not as evil as god 🙂 ) and as such I hope they too will see reality as it is when they grow up, without reinforcement it will not stick because it is not real.
    I’ll follow your story because I have catholics in my family who are drifting away from the church but as with you I don’t think they’ll ever actually abandon it, your story is compelling because you are so involved and public with your religious thinking so you’ll have to “reason” it out, the people in my family seem to be drifting to mostly ignoring their religion but still keeping it in discussions or certain life events.

  • Jane

    Welcome to the family of God! You are on your way to an exciting adventure. I was an atheist/agnostic for along time and then something happened that is hard to explain, a slow unveiling of God and his truth started to show it’s self. The Bible, God’s letter to us, is the most incredible book ever written. I don’t want to overwhelm you right now, just encourage you on your journey. I also wanted to recommend a book called “Out of a Far Country”. You said you weren’t sure about the homosexual teachings of the church and this book might help. It’s written by a gay man and his journey to God’s truth.

  • RyanG

    I have been a catholic my entire life. My mom went through an incredible conversion experience and there are a shortlist of people that we have to thank for that. If you ever have any questions feel free to ask. Good luck to you.

  • Natasa

    I’m always amazed by how nasty atheists can be when dealing with religious people. The foul language, offensive words, belittling and ridiculing. And this is only your 2nd post. I guess your conversion has touched a nerve.

    God bless and best of luck on your journey. I will be back to see what you are up to.

    • To be fair, you should try converting the other way 🙂

      • Cous

        Indeed; this behavior is not an atheist/believer thing, it’s a human thing.

  • Wokki

    Fascinating read. Thank you for sharing.

    Good Internet resources to tap into in your new faith are Michael Horton’s White Horse Inn, and Chris Roseborough’s Pirate Christian Radio. They reflect the best in Reform / Lutheran thought at this point in time and also highlight sharply the contrast between heresies and Biblical Christianity.

  • WOW !!!

    That’s the first time I’ve heard a conversion story as crazy as my own conversion, except that mine is so personal in nature I can’t actually write about it !!! (grrrrr)

    God bless you, the fact that your intellectual faith triumphed overcomes my own need for evidence, but the acceptance of what has been given is quite the same.

    You’re in for some interesting times !!!!

  • Garry

    One for the spirit! Peace be with you.

  • God bless you! I know where you are coming from I used to be an Atheist also. I know the joy you are feeling, I also know that many will try to ridicule you, that alone is proof as far as I am concerned. My saying is “If Heaven on Earth was possible, we wouldn’t need Heaven” There are things I don’t understand or agree with about my faith, however compared to the things I do understand, it is miniscule. There are many things which I don’t think Man has the ability to understand. Someday we will be able to ask our Father in Heaven, as a critical thinker and truth seeker, I am really looking forward to that day and eternity. Saying a prayer for you and all that resist or haven’t been profoundly touched by the Holy Spirit.
    You sound like me, I knew it all along and it took so much to deny it, I never knew Peace until I accepted Christ as my Savior, then it was as if someone switch on a light and my life was filled with uncountable blessings. your bravery has made my day and is actually causing my eyes to water, recalling my own journey.

  • SSG ret

    By nature, I’m about as Agnostic as one can get. Still, I’ve been smacked between the eyes a few too many times by what can reasonably only be considered God to have any doubts. In a lot of ways the teachings of Buddha fit well. The Buddha reframed from speculating about Divinity and proposed a very Godly path of life. Mostly, it looks like God has shown an aspect of God’s Divinity to various peoples in a way that would most benefit those peoples.

    The Catholic Faith is a good and Godly Path.

    • …Buddhism flatly rejects divinity in all its forms. It rejects the idea of a soul and the idea of self (Atman) as well. The path proposed by the Buddha was one centered around the cessation of Dukkha (loosly translated “suffering”) to a point of seeing reality for exactly what it is- that self and choice are illusions, and that there is no God, nor any eternal existence.

      Point being, if you feel you’ve had an experience with God, that doesn’t fit with Buddhist doctrine.

      • SSG ret

        That is not what I see at the local (Viet Nam)Pagodas, nor is it what they are teaching. In any case the main point is that Divinity is beyond mankind’s understanding. So, we get a dumbed down portion that we can strive to understand.

        • Well, I certainly can’t speak to your experience with actual Buddhists, and you should probably trust them about what their religion says over me 🙂

          That said, I found the quote I was thinking of and thought I would share it- from “What the Buddha taught”, which (as I understand it) is a well respected book written to introduce Buddhism to a western audience:

          “Two ideas are psychologically deep-rooted in man: self-protection and self-preservation. For self-protection man has created God, on whom he depends for his own protection, safety and security, just as a child depends on its parent For self-preservation man has conceived the idea of an immortal Soul or Atman, which will live eternally. In his ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire, man needs these two things to console himself. Hence he clings to them deeply and fanatically.

          The Buddha’s teaching does not support this ignorance, weakness, fear, and desire, but aims at making man enlightened by removing and destroying them, stringing at their very root. According to Buddhism, our ideas of God and Soul are false and empty. Though highly developed as theories, they are all the same extremely subtle mental projections, garbed in an intricate metaphysical and philosophical phraseology. These ideas are so deep-rooted in man, and so near and dear to him, that he does not wish to hear, nor does he want to understand, any teaching against them.”

  • bbtp

    Felicitari! Stramosii voastre sftinte se bucure.

    I was brought up without religion, but converted to Christianity, as you did, through engagement with the philosophical literature as an adult. There aren’t many of us who’ve made this journey in this way. You are in for a bit of a tedium, I’m afraid, since most of your atheist correspondents will have no basis for understanding your thought process, and in consequence, you should expect to receive thousands of letters mentioning unicorns (invisible, pink, both, neither,) flying monsters made of spaghetti (rather than the only flying pasta — penne,) or patiently explaining to you that subjective beliefs are not evidence. But take heart – this will pass very quickly.

    Congratulations on your rebirth in the Lord.

  • Bartolome

    You have been, and are still, in search of the Perfect Philosophical System. Why is that? Why YOU? Surely you have noticed that among people your age, even among the highly educated, a VERY SMALL percentage are in search of the Perfect Philosophical System. Are there experiences in your life history that have led be feel discontented without possessing the Perfect Philosophical System, while most people are very contented without that? Are you sure that the Perfect Philosophical System is what you REALLY lack and want?
    Beyond that, I am sad for you, since, as far as I can see, you will NEVER find the Perfect Philosophical System. You own writing makes this clear. Even as you begin your RCIA process of conversion, you can still see that the Catholic teaching on homosexuality is unjust and makes no sense. It never will make sense. You know in your bones that if two women love each other, want to take care of each other through this life, and want to sleep together and do sexual things together, that there can be nothing wrong with that. The Catholic Belief System is full of moral and metaphysical teachings that evolved and were functional during primitive tribal cultures. It is no accident that the Catholic Church with great zeal promoted the burning of “witches,” and that this still goes on in some Islamic countries. Poor St. Joan of Arc was surely a lesbian-inclined woman, and the Catholic Church burnt her alive, and then later recanted of that, but has never really recanted for all the other anonymous women and men worked to have burnt alive for being possessed by the devil (when in fact they were just gay or schizophrenics).
    You will get a lot of social support for your conversion to the Catholic Church. They are a nervous, desperate, and power-hungry group. And some of them are quite idealistic, kind, and generous too.
    But no lasting peace and fulfillment will come to you from this conversion. Your restless, active mind will keep seeing the injustice, contradictions, cruelty, craziness and foolishness of many of the teachings in the Catholic System. Time will pass. You will keep searching and searching for the Perfect Philosophical System. You will keep studying and studying, always feeling that there is yet one more book, one more philosopher, one more school of thought, that you yet need to grasp so that you can, at least, truly see the Perfect Philosophical System. Eventually you will get old. I predict, looking back, you will regret all the time you sacrificed on your Holy Grail Quest for the Perfect Philosophical System. When they finally wheel you into the nursing home in your old age, will it have mattered that you undertook this Quest? All your blogging–did it help you or anyone? I hope you can find fulfillment in this life. It will pass quickly. The more time you spend in Catholic intellectual circles, the more you will see that many prominent Catholic thinkers, even some who are bishops and cardinals, are complete cynics and skeptics, and who are playing various games and running various ruses. A big project that still underway the effort to create a fusion of Libertarianism with Catholicism, despite the long history of rejection of Libertarianism by the Church. This being done to safeguard the digital dollars of the wealthy from “socialism.” They don’t want to share. At heart, they are followers of the atheist Ayn Rand. So, what do I recommend for you? I would be remiss if only took a negative tack. First, I recommend that you immediately read the novel “Death and the Dervish” by Mesa Selimovic. I think you will see a lot of you in the protagonist, a Muslim monk (dervish). It was written and published in 1966. It is very prophetic. It even foreshadows the genocide in Bosnia that came in the early 1990s. Well, I think I’ll leave it at that. I was going to give you a big reading list, and some activities as well. But I think it best that you just read that novel, and go from there. I wish you well. P.S. I am a Catholic, and go to Mass every Sunday.

  • I admire what you have written in regards to how your spiritual journey started, took a turn, and is now headed.
    Having been an RCIA sponsor for the last four years, I can say that I have loved all I’ve learned, and I can’t get enough…sounds like you may enjoy the same.
    As for the homosexuality bit, the distinction the Church makes is between homosexuals (human person) and homosexual acts (giving in to desires of the flesh that are not according to Natural Law).

    There are some Catholics who don’t agree 100% with Church teaching, but they accept it on matter of Faith, as graced by the Holy Spirit. There is a story that St. Augustine was walking on the beach contemplating the mystery of the Trinity. Then he saw a boy in front of him who had dug a hole in the sand and was going out to the sea again and again and bringing some water to pour into the hole. St. Augustine asked him, “What are you doing?” “I’m going to pour the entire ocean into this hole.” “That is impossible, the whole ocean will not fit in the hole you have made” said St. Augustine. The boy replied, “And you cannot fit the Trinity in your tiny little brain.” The story concludes by saying that the boy vanished as St. Augustine had been talking to an angel. (another good story is his conversion).

    I am not sure if you’ll have the opportunity to read this. As for now, those who are against you, it’s okay to read what they have to say, but don’t be discouraged. On the contrary. You have many of us who are supporting you (I am, for one). There is much more in apologetics I have to learn before taking on larger battles. Set all afire!
    Fraternally and with love,

  • Joe Lawrence

    Leah, I was just on your blog for the first time a few weeks ago. I want to encourage you. I was a cradle Catholic, but a big reason I remained one through college (and now graduate school, etc.) is that the Church has grappled with, and continues to grapple with, the sophisticated ideas you mention on your “about” page. The other big reason it seems you have also discovered: the Church’s insistence that the answer we are looking for, however well we understand it, is a person.

    I assume you can check my e-mail if you like, so if you ever need an encourage word, reading suggestion, or something else, let me know. It sounds like you are doing just fine, though. – Joe

  • The Easter Vigil is my favorite Mass of the year. Here, on the faithful is bestowed the greatest of gifts from the new converts. The new life born in these sacraments of initiation remind us of our conversions, vocations, and purposes. I love your conversion story. I assure you that you are loved by Morality, and His love is a mighty river washing over you. This love is non-rivalrous, and thus is undiluted for His love for each unique being. I have not measured your love, but my love is but a narrow stream compared with His mighty river. Welcome.

  • David

    Congratulations, Leah. You have done what Christ demands, and what is all too rare in much of American Christianity these days: loving God with all your mind. Christianity has an incredible intellectual tradition, and I believe the most coherent worldview and overall best arguments in its favor. I myself am a recent convert of sorts, too. I have lived most of my life with a kind of nominal Christianity but in the last year or so have come to a true “rebirth” in my faith. Christ really is the center of my life now, which is continually joyful as that means truth, love and beauty itself is the center of my life. The recent widespread intellectual conversation between theism and atheism is also what sparked my engagement and conversion. There is just so much great material out there, from the giants of the past that you mentioned (Aquinas, Lewis, Chesterton – also check out Tozer, particularly “The Knowledge of God”), to newer scholarship from the likes of William Lane Craig, JP Moreland, Peter Kreeft, Alvin Plantinga and others.

    But I would give a word of caution… guard yourself against becoming the kind of person that Lewis details in The Great Divorce; the kind who gets an opportunity to either go to heaven or go to a lecture on heaven and chooses the lecture. I have found that the more one learns about God the bigger God gets, and there is great joy in the process of learning about the universe and its Creator. I believe God created the universe the way he did in order for us to have that joy of continual discovery. But there is a difference between researching all one can about a person and truly getting to know the person. And the real joy and point of the Christian life is the personal relationship one develops with Christ. After all, in addition to our minds, Christ also commanded us to love God with all our hearts, soul and strength. So please make sure, as a new Christian, you are coming to know Christ in a personal way. Developing a robust prayer life is one of the best things you can do in this regard. I would very highly recommend Father Dubay’s “Prayer Primer” in order to help you in this effort (I have not read the next step, “The Fire Within”, but I hear wonderful things and will get to that level of advanced prayer when I’m ready).

    Lastly, I’ll remind you of this great quote of Lewis’ from the Weight of Glory, which applies well to you, as your voice is reaching many:

    “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

    God bless you, Leah, and may you find much truth and joy in your walk with Christ.

  • Fortuna Veritas

    I have to admit, Roman Catholicism is a strange choice, considering that you can get the same theology without the corruption in the hierarchy as a matter of public record and something that is still an unaddressed current event.

  • John Schneider

    (You can look me up and see for yourself what I went through last year over Adam and Eve and the Fall…)
    Keep your head on your shoulders and do not let it end up on the fireplace walls of Christian trophy hunters.
    Steam locomotives are one of God’s voices. Don’t ever stop listening to them….they are the best poets and prophets we have.


    Praise God you have come to the knowledge of the truth in Christ Jesus our Lord!I know there are things you will wrestle with about teachings such as Homosexuality but be not afraid.If you will pray asking and believing in your heart God and the Holy spirit will lead you into all truth’s.You have taken the first step now I ask you to be ready to receive the truths that will come to you.If you don’t have one i urge you to get a King James version of the bible and read it completely through.I pray you will be strong in his word and the power of His might!

  • So interesting. I was just relating to day that I was raised in the Greek Orthodox church by an atheist Greek father (who greatly valued tradition and heritage, if not the Church) and panentheist American mother. I was introduced to the work of Berger and MacInytre around the time After Virtue was first published by a family friend, and I still count that moment as seminal in my conversion to Christianity some 25 years later.

    It became apparent to me that the church, properly understood and practiced, presents the only viable form of community within which “civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained.”

    If you’re of a mind, feel free to visit my nascent blog…

    I’m looking forward to sharing your journey.

  • Deus te abençoe! God bless you!
    Bem-vinda à sua casa! welcomme to your home!

  • Alex Oh

    Hi Leah. Just wanted to recommend a few blogs I think you may find useful/fun read in your new journey:

    Peter Enns Blog (alot of posts on faith and evolution):

  • Sheila

    So. Excited. For you. Welcome Home!

  • robert

    Dear Leah I do hope you and your family are doing well, good health and much joy. That is my wish for all folks of any or no creed. I am a rather eclectic “Christian” though most faith communities would not fully recognized or even accept my title. For honesty’s sake if I must have a label on the hot button items, I am an old Earther who holds that the evidence that supports the validity of the Theory of Evolution to be overwhelming. I do not believe in original sin as viewed in most of the Western Faith communities. I have struggled with doubt most of my life, not really about God, but with me being loved by Him. A gift from my early experience with the Christian industry as it is practiced in the US.

    I wont drone on but will leave it at this, you are a very bright, young, passionate person willing to take a stand and admit a change as you “feel”/discern /? dont know a good word lead. You will experience many differing emotions and thoughts as you struggle through your world view. I hope I can offer some words from the very cheap seats outside the park where many of us sojourn. Don’t join the circus with all its bells whistles arguments and noise. I don’t wish you see you hurt. Stay true to what is calling you. You have real people around you, in your life, and a faith community that can support you. The blog world can take on a life of its own but it is not life, and from what I have seen you know that already.

    The circus I speak of is all the noise and hand waving that often takes place in sound bytes concerning religion. What I say may not make much sense but I do wish you and yours the very best. For what is is worth, God is much bigger then any one communion and is able to reach deep.

  • Reading some of the comments you’re receiving made me think of the chapters in Newman’s novel ‘Loss and Gain’ where his Catholic convert is beset by various strange visitors with various strange pieces of advice on the eve of his reception into the Church.

    Gutenberg version here: Chapter VII is the start. I read it a few hours before my own reception at the Easter Vigil Mass (some years ago now!). It has the merit of both being extremely funny and putting a lot of the critical noise you’re receiving into some sort of context.

    (And I guess by doing that, I’m also making myself into another strange visitor! Oh well!!)

  • Leah,
    I simply wanted to offer a blog recommendation. Entangled States tackles the awesomeness of God, Physics, and everything in between. It’s sure to flex your brain a bit. God bless and best wishes. Josh

  • hey leah, how are you ? congrats on finding your way to the truth and to the Truth.

    i just accidentally came across the article on blaze, and the guy didnt have your actual announcement linked which REALLY pissed me off, but i searched and found it. another quick complaint; it took me a while to find out how to post to you and there is no “contact” info on the individual articles or on patheos in general…at least not that i could find… anyway, you mentioned in one of your posts that you have your own library of “apology” basically, and i would think that you would have heard of these 2 books, but i will mention them in case you havent. #1 “the language of God” by dr francis collins, head of the human genome project, who actually worked his way to belief in Christianity from atheism just as you did and with the same reasoning on morality being part of the process, and he gives a good explanation as to why morality is not evolutionary; and as one of the smartest minds on the planet today, he has tough credentials to challenge in the scientific arena. book 2 is “more than a carpenter” by mcdowell and mcdowell, it is a great book on “reason” and proper deductive thought that argues not just for God, but specifically for Jesus Christ and His deity.
    another point that i would make to you that often never gets thought of in my discussions with atheists is the level at which they think that they are brilliant thinkers, i.e. when one looks at the FACT that every founder of our nation believed in a sovereign God and creator, in addition to such notable guys as newton who made a great argument to his atheist scientist friends in which he showed them a scale model of the solar system and then asked which one of them would believe that it just showed up in his office by magic accident ?? to which he suggested that none of them would believe such nonsense, and yet he stated that they yet choose to believe that the full scale real version of our solar system, which is obviously immensely bigger and vastly more complicated(and without strings holding the planets) could simply appear and begin functioning by mathmatical accident…. in other words he taunted them for what would be considered “pure stupidity” based on western logic were those same arguments to be made in any other sphere other than a religious one.
    so when you have an atheist proclaiming their atheism, you have them claiming a superior intelligence and understanding of the world of science than those such as newton, ben franklin, thomas jefferson, dr collins, etc etc etc…. this is a pretty TALL claim, and all of these various guys basically framed their view NOT on revealed truth in the biblical sense, but instead on revealed truth in the REALITY of the world around us.
    western logic is premised on aristotles “correspondence theory of truth” which is mirrored in Jesus Christs “the fruit proves the tree”.
    the great thinkers that gave us our country UNILATERALLY believed in a an absolute sovereign God that created the universe and morality, and the simplistic ideas of darwin(that people look like apes), would have been ridiculed by them as immaterial and moronic when compared to the grandeur and order of the universe and of life itself(also noted by theologen john calvin). dr collins and his team PROVED the impossibility of the mathmatical probablity of accidental life, and with every new advancement in breaking the gene codes the impossibility goes higher and higher… and it is already in the absolutely FANTASY level.
    i use the example of asking somebody how likely it is that a person could get hired to spin the roulette wheel at a casino when they are 18 years of age, and then when they retire at age 60, they have only spun red and NEVER have spun a black.
    clearly by the end of the first couple of hours, everyone would know that the game was “cooked”; yet evolutionary biologists will tell you that if you hired enough dealers, that it WOULD actually happen, and not only that BUT that you could hire 10 dealers at the same casino on the same day and that ALL of them could spin only red for their whole careers. this is tantamount to the math required to create life accidentally and it is pure foolishness that is hidden or skipped over by atheists for other less quantifiable positions against a sovereign God, whether metaphysical or other.
    the “kiss” strategy answers the question completely of its own accord.(Keep It Simple Stupid). lol.
    i sincerely welcome you to the family of believers, and i would also suggest that you read pope benedict 16s three encyclicals; i have no doubt that you would find them enlightening and they are not very long and can be found on the “holy see” website.
    in truth and liberty, jeff
    ps i am officially a non-practicing protestant, but i am probably more catholic than protestant when it come right down to it.

  • Jon

    Ms Blogger, what you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • Laura

    I know I’m late to the party but I just popped in here to say welcome home! I hope that in between all the questioning of your sanity you are happy with your decision and know a lot of people are happy for you too.

  • John Kelly

    Leah, I worry for you. I am not an antitheist, and I rarely try to convince someone to consider their religious beliefs are wrong, but you are going to end up being an apologist. After that you are going to find out that this stuff looked convincing at first, but it isn’t true.

    I was a very devout Christian, have a degree in biblical studies, and loved God till the last drop of faith I had died. Yes, many atheist arguments truly suck, but mine are deadly, because I know this stuff. I know Catholic theology, Orthodox theology and Protestant theology.

    I know the answer to the morality issue. Atheists spent too long trying to avoid that morality is an archetype because it sounds spiritual but it is not. Morality is an archetype, but it is not spiritual.

    I seriously worry that you will fall in love with God and find out he isn’t there. As a thinking person, if this isn’t the truth, you will figure it out. But then the damage will have already been done.

    • John Kelly

      Okay so absolute morality:

      The presence of absolute morality is due to the universe being absolute at all times. One can not logically extrapolate the existence of God based on the presence of absolutes.

      This may seem wrong as there are many subjective things in the universe. Subjectivity resides on the conceptual level, and is not a part of actual existence. Disorder, change, and subjectivity have no physical properties and no existence on the level of actuality.

      Order is the archetype and the justification of Atheist morality. Nothing coexists with order making it the base foundation of existence. Disorder is mistaken as coexisting with order, but it exist on the conceptual level only and is a name given to an observation of change. Change also only exists on the conceptual level. At the very foundation of the level of actuality lies order. Without order, molecules neither form nor bind. Order enables structure, whicn in turn enables every other level of existence. Order permeates every level of existence as its foundation, including anything that exists on the conceptual level. For this reason, structural order serves as the archetypal basis that justifies having a moral system.

      After establishing a foundation for all things on every possible level, you return to the conceptual level having worked into it from the base level of conceptuality, which again is order, as it always forms the base of every level of all levels of existence. Since morality is from the conceptual level, it begins from the foundation of order.

      After that, everything is broken down into the need to act, and the conflict of interests and needs. That is emotional needs, physical needs, ect. That is where our evolved social nature comes into play, such as compassion, and love, and our need for courtesy and respect.

      All these needs are considered and then behavior is adjusted to be as accommodating to everyone’s emotional and physical needs as possible. This is simply because individual priority must be logically established, and assigning higher worth than others to ones self is not logically possible.

      But the best way to meet the most needs is to ensure that order is preserved in thought process, which is why logic is essential. This is where knowledge truth, integrity and vulnerability come into play for me.

      Please consider this with avoidance of appeal to consequences. Belief perseverance is a common psychological phenomenon that you can look up that causes a human to retain a desired belief even after the initial foundation of that belief is eroded, the individual will use mental gymastics to construct a new foundation. Embrace truth as you live, embrace the order in the universe.

      Because of order in the universe, it is wrong to use faulty logic or misinformation to find a deity, and if the universe is the handiwork of God, then the highest good in the universe must be order. I would find that Athanasius would agree with this, in that he says in his historic work “On the Incarnation” that evil is that which is not, and good is that which is, as God said “it is good” of all things that were made.

      If God is real, using intellectual honesty in an embrace of truth is an embrace of the very goodness of God. I could go into Justin Martyr and the Logos at this point, but the point is, that even if Atheism leads you away from the belief in God, if God was real it still would be an embrace of God’s very nature. Would that God want you to delve into disorder, (faulty logic) in order to keep a belief in him? Faulty logic has to be sin, if God set order as the core principle of existence. Faulty logic has to be downright evil, as it is that which is not, established by Athanasius.

  • God is romancing you, my dear. For some reason (which you or I or ANYONE can’t understand), He’s got His eye on you, and He’s pulling you towards Him. Just relax, embrace it, and enjoy the ride.

    We humans have a habit of attributing everything in our lives to our own selves – we take all the credit. But truth is, it is all His doing. If you’re feeling Him tugging on your heart, it is because He ordained it so. You’re blessed, so just know that.

    Thanks so much for this blog post, as it certainly brought a smile to my face. God bless you, and you will be in my prayers!


  • Dave

    If moral law was always written on the heart of men, by some god . Then why would moral law have evolved, even when among christians. Holy books are a good written records of human moral law evolving.
    To think that us humans would have need of God, to form and objective view of moral law.Is much like trying to suggest that humans would need God ,before being able to obtain an objective view of our building codes or road speed limits etc. And we could even say that maybe gods are also needed, before human can ever obtain any sort of object view, to help deside whether a headache actually exists ,or whether it just always remains all about our own personal subjective view of the matter.

    If god provides moral law to man. Then does man decide whether we are to follow moral law provided by a christian god ,or moral laws provided by the god of Islam .

    Unless Leah is really inclined to want to consider that muslim must just be heartless type of human. Then surely she must need to ask herself,why does God supply different moral law to the Muslims ,than he does to christians.

  • Leah. Proud of you. The intellectual honesty you recently displayed is heartening. A-Theism is as much a faith exercise as Christianity. However, with much less evidence. The scientific proofs for a diety’s absence is completely lacking. I often query my atheist friends, “Where is the scientific evidence to prove your hypothesis that diety is absent?” usually I get no response. Usually a half hearted sentence or two about bad things happening in the world. Your choice to believe that truth is a person is an intellectually supported leap of faith as Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the Life.” And since you have trusted Him he will not let even your intellect down. Blessing and we will be praying for you!

  • Dave

    Ron said…”The scientific proofs for a diety’s absence is completely lacking. I often query my atheist friends, “Where is the scientific evidence to prove your hypothesis that diety is absent?” usually I get no response.”

    But Ron thats just very much like somebody who’s asking, where is the scientific evidence to prove a hypothesis that tooth fairys are absent.Or where is the scientific evidence to prove you hypothesis that aliens are absent.

    We dont have any evidence to suggest that either of these things exist . But yet faithful folk will still try calling it atheist faith ,if we dont just agree to faithfully believe .

    By that regard then the theists are also guilty of much the same type crimes. Because we have no evidence at all available,to help suggest that the Muslim bombers will gain the company of 70 vigins after death. And yet christians have no evidence available to prove that they wont either .

    So should people take up bombing humans,just incase .

    Ron, atleast we can say that our atheism is far more of a evidence based belief.

    If your friends cant answer your questions. You need to also remember how the human ability to learn to think for themselves,has often been suspressed by some faithful folk, who would far prefer people kept thinking like children .

    And not all that long ago, theists could even apply to have certian people burned at the stake. And in places like the USA,atheists are still hated today, even far more than gay folk are.

    So its not been likely to be very helpful in promoting your friends to feel free to learn to think,and provide answers

  • Welcome home, Leah.

  • DavidZs

    Read Sam Harris’s “The Moral Landscape” and you’ll see that objective morality is fully compitable with atheism.
    Actually, it is the only way to have objective morals.
    “Yaweh”‘s morals are NOT objective, they are inconsistent and delusional

    • mmortal03

      To add to this, my post that got lost in the original comment section:

      Leah, the belief in the existence of objective morals, also known as moral realism, is not just a concept for the religious. Most modern philosophers, often times atheists, are moral realists:

      So, you now believe in moral realism, at least this is what I understand you to be claiming. What I don’t follow is this additional jump in your logic where you state that moral realism requires some external person (a deity). This perspective seems strikingly similar to the common appeal by various religious sects all throughout history, where people felt the need to attribute as the source of natural occurrences for which they couldn’t understand to anthropomorphic deities, like sun gods, rain gods, gods of thunder, gods of love, gods of beauty, etc. Have you considered the idea that you’re just anthropomorphising morality here?

      To give you some perspective on my own background, I was raised Catholic and became an agnostic atheist. If I was to somehow convert back to being a religious person, besides finding it very difficult to convince myself that one particular world religion’s god was the real and true god participating in the goings on of this planet, I would probably find myself doing a critical analysis of all the different world religions’ value systems, trying to isolate the virtues or morals that were universal amongst them, and after mixing in some level of modern values, I’d probably end up with some flavor of secular humanism, never changing my mind on there being accessible knowledge to answer the theistic question.

      It just seems so arbitrary that, out of all the world’s possibilities, you’ve selected Catholicism. It also seems especially convenient, given that you’ve been surrounded by it in your social circles. I don’t mean this in a condescending way, simply a descriptive way, that people will latch on to whichever religion they are most surrounded by. Anyway, I wish you the best, whichever paths your journey takes you on.

  • Tom Garito

    RE: Leah Libresco’s last post on Pathoes Atheist Portal

    What if? What if Leah Libresco was wrong in her atheism and wrong again in her embrace of Roman Catholicism.

    I say this in love, but she is wrong a second time. Please listen to the testimony of Richard Bennett at the home page of This powerful testimony by a former Roman Catholic Priest could change her life and your life now and for eternity. I pray to the one true God for Leaha and for each listener to Richard’s testimony and the two short history lessons linked below.

    After listening to the testimony listen to mp3’s of Richard Bennett titled Papal History Part I and Papal History Part II at This is my best shot. May truth prevail.

    Tom Garito

  • Lspimentel

    Welcome to OUR home! Welcome! When others criticize you, remember Saint Paul, at first his conversion wasn’t accepted by jews (nor by christians), but he became one of the most important people in the Church’s History. Find comfort in Jesus arms and in the Community. Saint Mary protects you always! Pax et bonum.

  • Leah, I have a few questions — no accusations or throwing of stones! heheh…

    Have you also considered the Liberal Catholic Church or the Old Catholic Church?

    Both support GLBT, both ordain women, and both retain a very rich history and liturgy. All of which appeals to many persons. Myself included as it turns out. I find they offer the rich spiritual tapestry of the shared catholic history, a deep spiritual sense of connection and community, yet are able to set aside our relatively minor human differences, such as sexual orientation and even hair color! 😉 heheh

    Are you familiar with Prof. Ron Miller, and his distinction between Problems and Mystery?

    I think it is central to a number of the arguments presented by many atheist. Prof. Miller gave series of lectures to the Theosophical Society which included this material. I find it to be an important distinction. I won’t do it justice (if interested, please listen to Miller’s presentation!) but the simple version is that in assuming a Problem exists, an Answer is also assumed, discovered or not. As such “Problems” lend themselves to the scientific method and empirical inquiry. Mystery is of a different character. A Mystery has no “Answer” nor “Solution.” It is not a matter of the answer being as yet undiscovered; there simply is none to be found. (The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament introduces this idea in the book of Job. Carl Jung addresses this in his insightful “Answer to Job.”)

    My guess is that you may find it useful to begin teasing out the differences in your mind between Problems and Mystery. As a fellow “Thinking” type, I found this useful, which is why I offer the suggestion. The “answer” to Mystery is said, by many mystics, to be found in “Unknowing.” This is the mystic’s journey to the Divine Center. So I would also suggest exploring the writings of the great Mystics. Be they of the Sufi, Catholic, or other tradition doesn’t matter so much. Mystics all begin to sound similar as they approach the Divine Center. For good reason. The farther away from the Divine Center (or the “Cloud of Unknowing”) the more separation we see between ourselves. As we approach this Center and draw nearer to It, we simultaneously draw nearer to one another. Therefore, “traditional” religions look very different from one another (consider the exoteric differences between the five great world religions) and often have strong disagreements with one another, and schisms develop even within the same religion over what to outsiders would appear to be relatively minor points. Yet the mystics in each religious community often get along with one another very well, and find they are really all trying to express very similar views of their experiences. Experiencing something of the Divine is more important to them than dogma.

    Have you read James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning”? I think it is right up your alley. Other authors present useful models. I find the main point is to stimulate thoughts regarding our progression through spiritual stages of growth and maturity. To my mind it is deserving of as much attention as Plato or post-modern theology… speaking of which, another really interesting book is by Ken Wilber, “Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World” which I think you may also enjoy.

    I return to the late Ron Miller, who strikes me as the most brilliant theologian in the last 100-years! You’d really like his lectures. He was first a philosophy student, then a Jesuit, then a professor and author (see and especially his series of lectures given to the Theosophical Society). I cannot recommend him enough! And I would also recommend Carl Jung’s “Psychology and Religion.” I found it offered me a few really profound insights which I am still trying to work out, and expect to be struggling with for quite some time.

    Such are my suggestions 😉

  • All I know is that God exists and He loves us!
    Tudo que eu sei é que Deus existe e que Ele nos ama !
    Lo único que sé es que Dios existe y nos ama!
    Tutto quello che so è che Dio esiste e ci ama!
    In Christ

  • All I know is that God exists and He love us!
    Tudo que eu sei é que Deus existe e Ele nos ama!
    Tutto quello che so è che Dio esiste e ci ama!
    Lo único que sé es que Dios existe y nos ama!

    In Christ !

  • I went through a few of your comments, and I didn’t find anything approaching my comment so here goes

    First my background: I am a cradle Catholic, was unobservant for abut 10 years, came back, staying.
    Secondly: and my only question: Why would you convert to the Catholic Church?
    Thirdly, if you are sure you want to come aboard, then :Welcome to the Barque of Peter, Here’s a bucket, start baling.