This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal

This is my last post for the Patheos Atheist Portal June 18, 2012

Update: I’m starting to work through the comments section and respond here.

For several years, a lot of my friends have been telling me I had an inconsistent and unsustainable philosophy.  “A virtue ethicist atheist whose transhumanism seems to be rooted in dualism?  Who won’t shut up about moral lapses as wounds to the soul and keeps trying to convince us it’s better to be sinned against than sinning?  Who has started talking about mortifying her pride and keeps pulling out Lewis and Chesterton quotes?  C’mon, convert already.”

I could see where they were coming from, but I stayed put.  I was ready to admit that there were parts of Christianity and Catholicism that seemed like a pretty good match for the bits of my moral system that I was most sure of, while meanwhile my own philosophy was pretty kludged together and not particularly satisfactory.  But I couldn’t pick consistency over my construction project as long as I didn’t believe it was true.

While I kept working, I tried to keep my eyes open for ways I could test which world I was in, but a lot of the evidence for Christianity was only compelling to me if I at least presupposed Deism.  Meanwhile, on the other side, I kept running into moral philosophers who seemed really helpful, until I discovered that their study of virtue ethics has led them to take a tumble into the Tiber.  (I’m looking at you, MacIntyre!).

Then, the night before Palm Sunday (I have excellent liturgical timing), I was up at my alma mater for an alumni debate.  I had another round of translating a lot of principles out of Catholic in order to use them in my speech, which prompted the now traditional heckling from my friends.  After the debate, I buttonholed a Christian friend for another argument.  During the discussion, he prodded me on where I thought moral law came from in my metaphysics.  I talked about morality as though it were some kind of Platonic form, remote from the plane that humans existed on.  He wanted to know where the connection was.

I could hypothesize how a Forms-material world link would work in the case of mathematics (a little long and off topic for this post, but pretty much the canonical idea of recognizing Two-ness as the quality that’s shared by two chairs and two houses, etc.  Once you get the natural numbers, the rest of mathematics is in your grasp).  But I didn’t have an analogue for how humans got bootstrap up to get even a partial understanding of objective moral law.

I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology.  They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else.  Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both.  I didn’t think the answer was there.  My friend pressed me to stop beating up on other people’s explanations and offer one of my own.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “I’ve got bupkis.”

“Your best guess.”

“I haven’t got one.”

“You must have some idea.”

“I don’t know.  I’ve got nothing.  I guess Morality just loves me or something.”


“Ok, ok, yes, I heard what I just said.  Give me a second and let me decide if I believe it.”

It turns out I did.

I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant.  It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth.  And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth.  I asked my friend what he suggest we do now, and we prayed the night office of the Liturgy of the Hours together (I’ve kept up with that since).  Then I suggested hugs and playing Mumford and Sons really, really loudly.

After I changed my mind, I decided to take a little time to make sure I really believed what I thought I believed, before telling my friends, family, and, now, all of you.  That left me with the question of what to do about my atheism blog.  My solution was to just not write anything I disagreed with.  Enough of my friends had accused me of writing in a crypto-Catholic style that I figured no one would notice if I were actually crypto-Catholic for a month and a half (i.e. everything from “Upon this ROC…” on) .  That means you already have a bit of a preview of what has and hasn’t changed.  I’m still confused about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, I still need to do a lot of work to accept gifts graciously, and I still love steam engines.

Starting tomorrow, this blog is moving to the the Patheos Catholic channel (the url and RSS will remain unchanged).  Meanwhile, I’m in RCIA classes at a DC parish, so you can look forward to more Parsing Catholicism tags (and after the discussion of universalism we had last week, I think it will be prudent to add a “Possibly Heretical” category).

This post isn’t the final word on my conversion.  I’m sure there’s a lot more explaining and arguing to do, so be a little charitable in your read of this post and try to give me a little time to expand my ideas over the next few weeks.  (Based on my in-person arguments to date, it seems like most of my atheist friends disagree two or three steps back from my deciding Morality is actually God.  They usually diverge back around the bit where I assert morality, like math, is objective and independent of humans.  As one of my friends said, “Well, I guess if I were a weird quasi-Platonist virtue ethicist, this would probably convince me”).

And how am I doing?  Well, I’m baking now (cracking eggs is pretty much the least gnostic thing I can do, since it’s so, so disgusting to touch, and putting effort into food as more than the ransom my body demands for continued function is the second least gnostic).  I’ve been using the Liturgy of the Hours and St. Patrick’s Breastplate for most of my prayer attempts.  and, over all, I feel a bit like Valentine in this speech from Arcadia.

It makes me so happy… A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Libby
    • leahlibresco

      Oh yay!

      • I had never heard of your blog before; I found it today via BadCatholic.
        I just want to say that I admire your strength. I will be praying for you! Please pray for me when you say your evening prayer.

        • jason

          Welcome to God’s eternal kingdom.
          Remember that Christianity is a journey. A life long relationship with God. It will take time to fully understand all of his teachings.
          I will pray for you and wish you wise council as you search for answers.

          • Mark

            Good words, Jason. It truly IS a journey, but it will take all eternity to fully understand all of His teachings. We humans keep forgetting that God is beyond our full comprehension. That is one thing that always annoys humans.
            As you undertake the journey, be aware that now is the most exciting but also the most difficult part. Exciting because it is new and wondrous and full of great blessings and realizations. Difficult because now is when the enemy will be after you with a vengance, he does not like to lose his prizes to God.
            It is a great walk after all. Prayers be with you. Always keep your eyes on God, even when you weaken and fail Him. He understands, and loves all of us always in spite of ourselves.

          • Paul Precod

            Elsewhere you claim that Einstein said: “I now see the necessity of God.”

            Please provide a citation as evidence that Einstein said such a thing.

            “The Big Bang proves God” is such simplistic logic that it has likely been independently debunked several times today, at least once or twice by children under the age of 10.

          • Here’s a teaching no-one understands: Mark 26:11 “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me with you.” That’s Jesus talking, and he’s saying that he’s not omnipresent or immortal even though he’s meant to be God.
            The whole of Matthew 24 is about Jesus answering when the End of the Age will come about. Jesus lists some signs and portents and winds it all up with: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” Then the generation did pass away and none of those things had taken place. Most noticeable of which, the Age didn’t End!

        • Austin


    • Christina

      Nice! I would like evening prayer that much more praying with him – although I fear I’d concentrate that much less 😉

      Welcome to the Church Leah! You’ll be in my prayers.

  • Sara


    Welcome home, Leah! 🙂

    • Lauren M.

      Oh, yes, Leah. Welcome home!! 🙂 God bless you in your continual search for the Truth.

  • Welcome. I know this was hard, and will continue to be so. Don’t worry if the Catholics make it as for difficult for you as the atheists. We only do it to people we love.

    • I second Mr. McDonald’s remarks; don’t be disturbed if fellow Catholics make things just as hard for you as atheists. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Truth is Truth, nonetheless, and it is found in all its fullness in the one, holy, Catholic & apostolic Church, to which God has, in His great mercy and love, called you. Welcome home.

      • deiseach

        Oh, yes. Fr. James Martin, SJ, has a very funny (because it’s true) post up about that and I have to admit, I’d be one of those thinking he was a bit on the liberal-veering towards cafeteria Catholic-side (“Excuse me, Father, but you’re a Jesuit, aren’t you? Mm-hmm, we all know what the Jesuits are like nowadays; instead of dying for the faith in Canada they’re drinking their fancy coffee and writing up their blogs and appearing on tv comedy shows!”)


    • Zack

      Yes, you only do it to people you love. The teaching is “Love thy neighbour” and “Love thy enemy”, so your favoritism is misplaced. Jesus ate with a tax collector on the principle that a Doctor attends the sick (he then said “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” so maybe he started liking tax collectors after all). And, for the most part, Atheists have been Christians in the past and are being compassionate themselves; we escaped the self-flagellation of the boxed-in religious mindset while you still think it’s the only way to be. It may look hostile, but that’s disagreement for you. The difference is you’re taught that not believing in God is all it takes to make you a bad person. Atheists would argue that if there really is a God, he shouldn’t be such a wimp over whether people believe in him or not; he’s God, he should be able to cope with that.

      • Doug

        He’s not “such a wimp”, he just accepts people’s position on him and then gives them what they want: relationship with him, or seperation from him – forever.

      • Philip Donald

        Zack, you have a very woodenly literal understanding of the Bible. In your first post you misinterpret the genre apocalyptic within the Gospel of Matthew and attribute it to Mark. If you are going to attack a Catholic from Scripture, at least learn how to interpret it. The Bible is not a history text book and just like we study great literature in order to interpret it more faithfully, so too one needs to study Scripture to interpret it faithfully. Do a New Testament survey course and you will be astounded. Study it as literature under an atheist professor (there are many atheistic New Testament scholars). But please, until you have done so, rather argue from philosophical standpoints or anywhere else where you are better informed. Jesus interaction with those trying to trap him with regards to tax collectors is also a very nuanced text and when you understand the context you will appreciate it more. In fact, you don’t even need to study the Bible as literature. Just do a course on Palestinian Judaism in the 1st century.

  • Amy Henry

    Gutsy post, Leah. I’ve never read anything like it. Wow.

  • So, so happy for you, Leah! I’ve been praying for you before, and I’ll ramp it up even more. The adventure has just begun!

  • Welcome home my friend. You will be in my prayers. God love you.

  • Wow. This is quite the post to start the day!

  • Laura

    Welcome Home, Leah! Enjoy the ride!

  • 🙂 God bless you and your journey, Leah! You have more than a few people (myself included) praying for you!

  • Naomi

    And she who seeks will find. Welcome.

  • Leah – it’s an honor to have you on board Noah’s Ark. I myself am of that same peculiar strain of “Catholic atheist’ – I went from cradle Catholic to Nietzschean existentialist and eventually right back to the doors of Rome. My conversion was also intellectual long before it was spiritual or emotional, and I think you’ll find many in the Church who are similar.

    The Breastplate hymn is a fantastic place to start. I wish you well in the coming weeks, especially with the exciting task of defending yourself to your perplexed/angry friends!

    Godspeed ,

    • Matt, I took a similar path you did, from lapsed cradle Catholic to secular humanist existentialist through dabblings in whatever the culture offered, back to Christianity, then through fundamentalist and charismatic denominations back to the Catholic Church. Leah’s post is a great joy to me. God bless you and strengthen you all.

  • Welcome home Leah!!! Tears of joy for you!

  • joannemcportland

    Oh, Leah. How glad I am for you and for the rest of us! Your journey to the Church, and your world’s reaction to it, is a good bit like my journey back to it, and I can’t tell you what it means to me to have your thoughtful, intelligent, humorous, and best of all joyful reflections on that journey as backup. The Arcadia quote is awesome. Thanks, and welcome to the neighborhood!

  • Found this via Deacon Greg. Welcome home! Very, very happy for you.

  • Eli

    …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.

    • leahlibresco

      No, but this is one of the reasons I wasn’t playing in the Turing Test. (The other was that you all know my references and voice too well for me to be able to write anonymously at this point). What kind of evidence are you looking for? I hope I haven’t come across on this blog as someone who does trolling posts.

      • Eli

        First reply didn’t work apparently, so let’s try again…

        Isn’t the Turing test basically an attempt to see who can be the best troll? (Wiki “concern troll.”) Also, it’s not like the philosophical tradition is immune to trollish behavior. That was basically Socrates’s schtick, right? So this isn’t necessarily anything to be upset about, especially if you’re doing it above the table.

        • Ted Seeber

          I think you missed the whole point of the Turing Test- both the original and Leah’s version.

          The point of the original was to get AI researchers to understand the difference between thought and spirituality, and the practical limitations of their science.

          The point of Leah’s was do do the same, but replacing science with philosophy, which also has some severe limitations since telepathy isn’t very common among human beings (those who are about to jump on me and say telepathy doesn’t exist at all, well, then why do we have a word for it? Which is another entirely different idea of the word “reality” that many materialists completely overlook without consideration).

          • Eli

            “The point of the original was to get AI researchers to understand the difference between thought and spirituality”

            …are YOU a troll? I would love to see you produce even one citation supporting this claim.

          • Ted Seeber

            I would have thought it was quite obvious from the way the Turing Test was set up: between a mechanical intelligence and an organic one, over a blind terminal.

            The entire difference that we call spirituality, is the ability to *communicate*.

          • echidna

            The Turing test had nothing to do with spirituality. It was about whether it is possible for machines to “think”, or at least appear to be thinking.

          • Eli

            “The entire difference that we call spirituality, is the ability to *communicate*.”

            Aha. So you’re just inventing your own definition for words. In that case, I counter your assertion with my own: the original Turing test was about the difference between thought and chickens. What – you don’t use the word “chickens” to mean “the ability to communicate”?

            (Also, re: more evidence – I’m satisfied. The blog has moved to the Catholic portal, and that suffices for me.)

          • mobathome

            Ted Seeber says: “those who are about to jump on me and say telepathy doesn’t exist at all, well, then why do we have a word for it?”

            Yeah! Just like we have a word for nothing, which proves that it isn’t nothing at all.

      • texas+ranger

        I still hope you troll 🙁 You left home, but you will be back eventually. There is no running from reason.

        • Ted Seeber

          What if she’s running TO reason?

          • Um…Huh?

            Then she’s running the wrong way. How’d kangaroos get on Noah’s ark? Why aren’t dinosaurs mentioned in the bible? Slavery’s moral but homosexuality isn’t?

          • Margaret Catherine

            That’s evangelical fundamentalism you’re describing. Not Catholicism. (Except for the last part, which applies to neither.)

          • Ted Seeber

            Noah’s Ark, like most old testament stories, is a children’s allegory based on a half-remembered history that happened long before it was written down- Catholics don’t read the Bible that way.

          • Um…Huh?

            Oh yes, allegory. Catholics pick and choose parts of the bible to read and believe as dogma. Priests and other learned religious thinkers tell you what’s a fairy tale in the bible and what isn’t because in our modern age of science some passages become impossible to support. I had a priest tell me that evolution is ok to believe in for a Catholic. (And it is true – there is overwhelming evidence.) Well, if that’s true, and humans and other primates evolved from common primate ancestors, then the story of Adam and Eve and the talking serpent is allegory? If that’s so, then original sin is allegory and so is the need for baptism or “salvation.” So then what’s the point of Christianity itself? Oh and I notice how no one wants to comment on the dinosaur thing. One common fundamentalist explanation is that the devil put the bones there to test us. Not sure what the Catholic explanation is.

          • Peggy Hagen

            The Catholic explanation is that the dinosaur bones are dinosaur bones. There was a “first man” and ‘first woman”, there was a Fall and original sin, but we need not read the Genesis account (nor anything prior to Abraham) as literal, historical truth. The discussion is nothing new for Christianity but goes back at least as far as Augustine in the 400s, as covered here:

          • Peggy Hagen
          • Stephen Agnew

            “How did kangaroos get on Noah’s Ark?”

            – I believe two of them hopped onto it. All of the continents were connected before the flood, i.e. Pangea. The flood broke the continents apart and the resulting ice age created land bridges that allowed animals to migrate to different continents.

            “Why aren’t dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible?”

            – They are mentioned and described in the book of Job, and in other parts of Scripture. The book of Job describes a dinosaur that sounds exactly like a Brontasaurus, and also describes a sea creature that scares the crap out of me! @_@

            “Slaver’s moral…?”

            – Scripture never says that slavery is moral or immoral. It only speaks to how a slave should behave. However, Jesus says to treat others as you would like to be treated, which sounds like it would mean to not own slaves.

          • wakarimasen

            Leah, it’s one thing if you want to worship human morality and call it “God.” But are you aware that, at the end of the Permian age (about 250 millions years ago), about 90% of all life on earth died out? Scientists think much of it may have suffocated to death. Do you seriously see this as evidence of a moral god? Would you have allowed this to happen if you were in charge of the Universe?

            What about the fact that female praying mantises bite the heads off the male mantises right after they have sex with them? Or that many animals viciously destroy other ones before eating them? What about the fact that many Catholic priests and Protestant ministers have sexually abused lots of children? What about all the violence that has occurred between groups of different faiths? How do you see a moral god existing in all of this? Wouldn’t any decent human being have prevented these things or changed them if they had the ability to do so? Perhaps it’s actually God who gets his morality from us!

            Apart from all of this, what evidence is there that a Fall occurred? It seems much more likely that life forms on this planet have been destroying each other from the very beginning. If you see that as moral, I hope you’ll change your mind.

            Also, before you swallow the story of Jesus’ resurrection, you should consider that almost no one living in the West today believes witchcraft is real, but we have tons of first-hand eyewitness statements and court records from the Salem Witch Trials in which fairly well educated people (from not so long ago), including state officials, were convinced otherwise, and about 20 girls and women were executed on this basis. We don’t have any documentation like this in the case of Jesus’ resurrection, just stories written by unnamed authors who provide no evidence for their claims. For all we know, the Gospels are works of pure fiction intended to encourage a sect of non-conformist Jews after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. And as for St. Paul, there is no proof he was an actual person. We already know several of his letters were forged. For all we know, he is a fictional hero. Wow, a guy who persecuted Christians all of a sudden has a conversion experience and now is its biggest advocate–Buddhism has a similar character–the Buddha’s own cousin hated him and tried to kill him several times but ultimately converted to Buddhism. Shouldn’t we all become Buddhists?

            I hope you’ll think about all of this.

          • wakarimasen

            One more thing: Given that Christians forged several letters and passed them off as those of Paul (see Bart Ehrman’s book “Forged”), do you think a moral god was in any way involved in the production of the New Testament?

        • vkay

          You’re reason for not believing in God is because you don’t understand how kangaroos got on the ark, why there was slavery, and why there weren’t any dinosaurs in the bible?

          First off, dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago, and the first (believed to be dinosaur) fossil was discovered in 1676. So, my guess would be they may have found bones/fossils back then and thought they were something else, or they had no name for them. Perhaps that’s why we don’t read about them in the bible.
          Like Ted mentioned, Noah’s ark was allegorical.
          And the topic of slavery…I really believe that’s something you should look into further.
          In the bible, St Paul speaks of slaves and slave owners, and commands that the “slaves” be treated as brothers, to be treated fairly and with respect, not to do with as they please. This was also a matter of the times. And St. Paul also insisted “there is neither slave nor free . . . you are all one in Christ Jesus” in regards to salvation (Gal. 3:27-28).
          Even in places where slavery wasn’t done away with, the slaves had equal access to the sacraments, and many clerics were from slave background (as well as 2 popes, Pius I and Callistus). There had also been several Christians who sold THEMSELVES into slavery in order to emancipate others. The Magisterium had condemned unjust slavery early on, otherwise known as chettel slavery. But there was also “just tide slavery”, this included forced servitude of prisoners of war and criminals, and voluntary servitude of indentured servants. But so many people, in America for example, tried to argue and defend OWNING slaves because all they read into was “slave trade” being unacceptable.
          There’s more, but I feel like you get the point, and you could/should do some research for yourself regarding slavery, and even what the Church actually teaches about homosexuality, because that’s another huge topic that many people don’t understand.
          God Bless.

          • Michael B

            No no no no no… my personal reason for not believing in chrisitanity is the simple fact that there is no such thing as god. Simple as that. Provide evidence that he exists, provide some repeatable experimental framework for detecting him, that’s your burden of proof.

            All that suff about slavery and dinosaurs? That’s just the easy stuff you can use to make fun of people who believe in silly things.

          • vkay
            Do not confuse survival of the fittest with evolution, read Job 40 &41. Also, Einstein said that just because you can’t detect it does not mean it does not exist (excuse me for this paraphrase).

            There are many thing that are undetectable such as dark matter. Dark matter is term used to explain why the expansion of the universe is accelerating and not slowing down however nobody has any idea what dark matter is only its effects so the universe is still growing at an accelerated pace.

            To my knowledge no one has ever actually seen evolution, ie. several generation of bacteria has never been seen to coalesce in to a multi-celled organism, such as a hydra. No, bacteria only experience what Darwin called survival of the fittest. As said earlier science requires observation and so far the only evidence for evolution is circumstantial and can only be inferred. However, I must admit evolution would be difficult to prove requiring thousand maybe millions of year of observation of one organism into another. Still, evolution could be elevated if two phenomenon could be observed. First, the creation of life in a test tube and I don’t mean manipulating existing life because manipulation is what we have observed for many generation with bacteria and dogs. Second, that created life has to multiply.
            One more thing. This blog is apparently heavily versed in philosophical terms which leads me to the conclusion that there are a lot of students in philosophy here. There used to be a time that science led philosophy but it seems that time has passed.

            I’m a practicing engineer and I see the Power of God everywhere. God Bless.

          • Um…Huh?

            One can observe evolution through the fossil record and obtain a timeline through radioisotope dating. One cannot physically or directly observe evolution because human lives are to short relative to the process. For the same reason, one cannot observe a glacier move.

            “I see the Power of God everywhere.” How do you know it’s not Ra, the Sun God of Egyptian times or Zeus? Because you were born to Christian parents or in a predominantly Christian Country?

            Today is June 22, and is the anniversary of the date the Catholic Church forced Galileo to recant heliocentric theory. The also forced him to live under house arrest at the end of his life for suggesting that the Earth revolved around the sun. From Galileo’s wikipedia page: Biblical references Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 include text stating that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place” etc.

          • Fletch

            The whole point is that it’s all allegorical. If you accept that we evolved naturally, which undeniable evidence suggests, and that we can witness evolution in our lifetime with no need to evoke the hand of god guiding the path, then all your arguments fall apart. You have the burden of proof to show that humans could not have come up with each and everything in the bible. People have been making up things that gods say for thousands of years. Presumably, if you are Christian, you think that other religions were invented, like the obvious cargo cults and Mormonism. That they have not properly defended their religion. Well you haven’t even begun to shoulder your proof for god. Why doesn’t Genesis say that god created the universe then billions of years later, through the laws of nature god instilled, matter started interacting in such a way that formed the first life on earth, and billions of years later humans arose. So what is god some idiot that doesn’t understand what human nature is? People who study psychology of people and animals and neuroscientists are looking at how behavior is related to our brain. Animals and people have similar behaviors ingrained, explainable by evolution. So god who is all powerful and all knowing should know that he created them so they have no real choice and decided to punish them for his ineptitude. The whole story is ridiculous. Look at your religion from an atheist’s point of view. Human beings, being naturally disposed to religion, as indicated by all “false” religions that spring up in practically every culture, came up with yet another religion called Christianity. I can believe that a human being existed that said some of the things the Jesus in the bible is reported to have said. This does not mean there is a god. If the miracles in the bible are what makes the whole story believable well then you are just credulous. Imagine an incidence of a similar event in modern times with strong eyewitness evidence. Would it be believable if say, a group of people said that they witnessed aliens that claimed to be sent by gods and who performed miracles for them, later forming a large group of followers, some who claim to have seen the aliens too. They all swear up and down that it’s true and there is no reason to suspect any ill motives on their behalf, claiming the aliens said that god loves everyone no matter what they do. Would you drop your Christianity and convert to the alien religion or would you meet the claims with as much skepticism as atheists do?

          • Greg

            @vkay The quote you supplied (Gal. 3:27-28) to support your position, isn’t referring to slaves as horde workers, but rather an allegory to them. Paul does refer to slaves directly however, when he tells them explicitly to ” submit unto your masters as unto the Lord”. Nowhere in the Old or New, does any writer mention to eradicate slavery.. But this is one of many problems with religion, more specifically, those that use the Bible to support their belief. If “God” wanted to communicate with us, why did He/She/It, give us a book which no one understands? Ie, “that’s my interpretation”.

          • Wouter

            >> If “God” wanted to communicate with us, why did He/She/It, give us a book which >> no one understands?

            Now that’s a question I appreciate. I feel sorry for giving you another bible quote, since it’s not common terrain for us. Yet the bible provides kind of an answer to your question: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. ” (1 Corinthians 1:18) In short, you need God’s help to understand the bible. Without God’s help it sounds like nonsense.

            Of course things get a little tricky here. How do you ask help from something you don’t believe in? Well, the key is your willingness to sincerely consider and investigate the existence of God. This includes reconsidering your world view and accepting the chance that you might have to admit your misunderstanding.

            If you’re not willing to do so, there is no sum of evidence that may ever convince you. No one will be able to persuade you. It’s that simple. However, if you really are willing to consider Gods existence, then just ask for help. “God I don’t believe in you, but if you do exist then show me.” And then you just wait. If he exists and he is like the bible claims him to be,* then he will show up. If not, there’s no reason to change your world view and you’re just fine.

            I believe that this willingness is not so much a rational thing as it is a matter of what the bible calls the heart. For instance, in similar cases some people say sorry more easily than others. Why is that? I’d say some people are humble enough to admit their mistakes, while others cannot handle the idea of being wrong. It devastates their self-image. It points out they cannot live up to their own standards. It shows their fallibility. And that hurts.

            Like I said, truly considering God’s existence includes the chance of admitting you’re wrong. Similar to saying sorry, it means that you risk your self-image. It means that you might face your own fallibility. At the very core it simply means you might hurt yourself, and not just a little bit. The author of this blog was brave enough to take that risk and overcome her fear, as were many others. In contrast, the fury with which many atheists attack Christianity gives away that they are not even close to overcoming their biggest fear.** Then the question is of course: what about you?

            I hope this helps you at least a little.

            Sincerely yours,

            *You might argue of course that you don’t want the biblical God, considering the massacres described in the Old Testament. My first response would be that God did so in order to prevent even worse. The people destroyed were infamous for their severe immorality and perversity, as well as their destructive way of living. Think of child sacrifices, complete lack of hygiene, rampant sexually transmitted diseases. However, that’s just the Christian perspective and this might be way too easy for you. Apart from that, this again is a rational argument. It won’t convince you unless you’re willing to change your mind…

            **Indeed, the fury of many Christians (ir)rationally trying to defend God’s existence gives away their fear as well. Personally I see strong indications for the existence of God, but we simply cannot scientifically proof God, hence the bible verse. Anyone who says we can is fooling himself, trying to make his faith look stronger.

          • Wouter

            >> since it’s not common terrain for us.
            That should be: since I assume it’s not common terrain for both of us.

          • Antman

            I love it when people ask “Why God doesn’t reveal himself in a more direct way?”. What would be the point of Faith if we there was indisputable evidence for God?. We would all be drones under complete control by a higher power. We were designed with consciousness and autonomy. This sort of debate can only please God as we are all individually searching for the Truth! Keep asking questions..keeping searching…

        • You now have left human reason and have Sanctified Reason. God’s Blessings to you now and into Eternity.

          • Jason


            What was it that Einstein said after Hubble’s discovery of “red shift”? It went something like, “I now see the necessity of God.” This is the logical conclusion. It is the cosmological argument for the existence of God: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. The universe has a cause. What is that cause? It is God. No other cause explains the beginning of the universe.

            You talk about reason, but do you actually make use of it?

          • Salience and Dirt

            You’ve just regurgitated the classic Kalam Cosmological fallacy. It requires special pleading – that being, you apply characteristics to the whole but not a principle component of your argument. In this case, it’s the necessity of creation pertaining to god. If the universe requires a cause then why does it not also apply that god needs a creator as well, and that creator a creator, etc.? If god doesn’t need a creator because of the “nature of god”, then where is this nature proven? If your argument for the nature of god falls back on the bible, then you are simply using a circular argument. Why would this lack of necessity for a cause not also exist in nature (something that quantum mechanics actually demonstrates is true)?

            And here you are scoffing at others for not using reason.

            As for the Einstein quote – he never said it. In fact, Einstein’s views on religion were fairly clear
            “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

  • Wow. Great to have you. Did I mention wow? Because right now that’s about the only thought I can form.

  • What happy news! As a fellow convert, I always feel a special kind of joy when I hear news like this. My prayers are with you!

  • Dennis Mahon

    God bless you, kid – I can only imagine the turmoil you’re going through. Be well.

  • julie

    Welcome home Leah!!! I too am a convert of 23 years. Enjoy the ride, it will be a bumpy one at times, but well worth it!! Will be praying for you sister 😀

  • Michael

    Welcome to the PARRR-TAY! We ain’t perfect, but (save for God) perfection is boring (why do you think all the Saints are different???). BTW I have some relatives (Cradle Catholics) in DC so if you want some refernces just drop me a line. Enjoy RCIA (I loved teaching it when I was involved).

  • Praying for you in this blessed time. I went through many of the same tensions when I left atheism behind as well. Some of them resolved in unexpected ways, such that I advocate for positions that I once aggressively opposed as an atheist, and some of the tensions remain unresolved even today. What I know is enough.

  • I was very happy to read this news today! I hope your journey is fruitful and fulfilling. I’m a fellow convert (Tiber Swim Team, class of 2003), albeit from Lutheranism, but if there’s anything I can do to help please let me know.

    Also, have you ever read the excellent apologetics blog Shameless Popery? The author is a lawyer (from the DC area, I believe) who is entering the seminary.

  • Leah, you are so brave and diligent! I want to first compliment you on your integrity throughout these last two years that I’ve been reading your blog. You intelligently argue and meander through ideas that engage those who consider themselves faithful and those who consider themselves atheist/agnostic and I have greatly respected you for it! You challenged me on many ideas, while always leaving a door open. I have and will continue to pray for you during this journey. I wish there was a less cliche way of putting that…

    God bless you for your bravery in letting in those nagging thoughts and honestly reflecting on them!

  • Great post! Thankful to hear the news. I would also encourage you to consider the Lord’s Prayer and Sermon on the Mount, along with simply reading what Jesus taught for himself in the Gospels, as you continue to grow in your new understanding.

  • Star Foster

    Brave post! I wish you much joy in your journey of conversion.

  • Hooray, Leah!!!

  • Brian Ottis

    Leah, welcome home 🙂 There’s no doubt that heaven is loudly rejoicing over this. I was linked to this by Devin Rose and reading your story was an incredible gift this morning. I wish you the the warmest blessings and I will pray for you.

  • Rosemary

    Welcome! I crossed the Tiber in 2004, and I’m still exploring the width and depth of this new and exotic land.

  • Joe

    Welcome to the Family Leah!!!! What a happy day!!!!!

  • This is great news Leah! I have been praying for you for some time and am glad to see how God has been working in your life. There are so many treasures in the Church, this will be a difficult but extremely grace-filled time for you!

  • Welcome home, Leah! We’re so happy to have you as part of our family. I love the Liturgy of the Hours, too 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more about your conversion!

    • Leah, when I read the last week that you were using/praying the Liturgy of the Hours, I thought “Uh, oh. That can’t be good! It won’t be long now–one way or the other.” My prayers as you continue your quest!

      • Me too, Brian. I saw that and Leah’s comment about reading Lewis’s book on Psalms and had the same reaction (I even went to her blog to check and see if I had missed a conversion post!).

        What a journey you’ve been on, Leah. You’ll be in my prayers as well.

        • leahlibresco

          I figured the odds were low that many people would catch that before the announcement went up, and the conversation was too interesting to stay out of.

          • There are just a few of us who caught on. 😛

  • Charlie

    Been following your story, and couldn’t be happier. In case you’d like some navigation of Catholic moral theology in conversation with one of the best known atheist approaches to ethics, I think you might find my new book of interest:

  • JQ Tomanek

    My prayers and thoughts.

  • “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.

    • enness

      The problem is that what many people consider obvious is not always so cut-and-dry upon examination.

    • leahlibresco

      Stephen, my response to that would be “What does it mean to live well and where did you receive this knowledge from?” You’re positing some kind of value system or heuristic that let’s us check if we’re going along with the “point of living.” I ended up decided that the point of living for humans, our telos was best expressed in the Catholic faith. Can you give me a firmer idea of what “well” means for you and how you come to that definition?

      • WotanAnubis

        I don’t think much about morality, I admit.

        Still, I do have a hunch that an organisation that officially promotes the notion that condoms help in the spread of AIDS for purely ideological purposes doesn’t really think much about morality either.

        • This has been addressed so many times it’s almost ludicrous that people keep bringing it up but:

          The short answers is because condoms have had little to no effect on the spread of AIDS (particularly in Africa) and there are good reasons to think that the ‘throw condoms at the problem’ solution has actually increased the spread of AIDS.

          • That’s not what that article says at all. It says the exact opposite – that condoms have been able to stop the spread of AIDS in many countries, but not in Africa because of the cultural stigma they have there.

          • WotanAnubis

            So, erm, have you actually read that article or just stopped at the headline and the opening paragraph?

            Condoms work (like they did in Thailand and Cambodia according to your own article). Yes, there are other factors, because nothing in life is simple, so only throwing condoms at the problem won’t work. Education and all that is important, too.

            So how is the Church’s stance that condoms shouldn’t be used at all, ever, the correct one when it comes to AIDS?

          • Chris Lang

            Recent research indicates that what has spread HIV/AIDS in Africa is the high rate of concurrent sexual partners–it is common for Africans to have more than one long-term sexual partner (a wife but a girlfriend or two on the side), and while Africans will use condoms for one-night-stands, they do not use condoms in their long-term sexual relationships. But it is also true that condoms are not highly reliable–the best information available indicates that they reduce the chance of HIV infection by a factor of 10 or 20, and they are less effective at preventing the transmission of certain other sexually-transmitted infections. Therefore, the safest approach is celibacy (chastity) or monogamy.

        • Ted Seeber

          Mathematically, condoms *do* help in the spread of AIDS:
          a) 3 out of every 100 condoms has a manufacturing defect that renders it useless for preventing aids
          b) thanks to propaganda, many promiscuous people use condoms because it gives them a sense of security
          c) if you have 400 sexual partners in your life and they’re all promiscuous, AND you are in Africa where 25% of the nation has AIDS, you will have broken a condom with at least 3 of them who have AIDS, and thus, will get AIDS yourself, while continuing your bad behavior and thus spreading AIDS to between 3-9 other people.

          Sorry to burst your bubble.

          • eric

            omg, this is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever read.

            just because 3 out of every 100 condoms has a defect, doesn’t mean that one person with 400 sexual partners (highly unlikely, btw) is going to get AIDS. I mean, well this is just ridiculous to even hypothesize. I’m not going to even go any further, because one, it will probably make me furious after the hysterical laughing subsides.

            Also, Africa is not a nation, you idiot – it’s a continent. Stupidity and ignorance are way easier to spread than AID’s – I’m sorry you tested positive.

          • Ted Seeber

            Magic Johnson is the perfect celebrity example of my math.

          • eric

            Magic Johnson is an anomaly and didn’t use condoms. He’s the perfect celebrity example of why you should use condoms.

          • EG

            You are wrong. Even with your ridiculous example, a person is very unlikely to contract HIV with 3 exposures, even through anal sex. And come on, 400 partners??????

        • Stephen Agnew

          I find it interesting that circumcision…found in the Old Testament and promoted by God, greatly decreases the spread of aids. The God who created us actually knew what was best for us thousands of years ago. Imagine that 🙂

          • John

            How kind of God to create AIDS and then make so I can cut off part of my body to reduce the chance of contracting the stupid ass disease he created in the first place.

          • Todd

            How kind of God to give man a foreskin and then tell him to cut it off. If God knew anything he wouldn’t have given man a foreskin at all. For a supposedly all knowing God he doesn’t have a hell of a lot of foresight.

            Let’s also not forget that circumcision helps men in other ways than helping to prevent AIDs, many of which even primitive man could figure out.

          • Michelle

            There is definitely some mis-information going on with this subject. Please educate yourself before making assumptions. When Jesus came to earth he put an end to these types of “requirements”. Not only with circumcision but also with eating “unclean” animals. He basically explained that if it comes from God, it’s not unclean. Also, God did not give man AIDS. Man gave himself AIDS and every other disease by engaging in immoral behavior. We were given all the information we needed in how to live. If we had followed God’s law, we would not have this messed up world.

          • Original Sin?! God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. They did not have knowledge of good and evil before they ate the fruit. So how would they know it’s good to obey God?

      • Keith Collyer

        oh come on, you should be able to do better than this. Why does morality have to “come from” anywhere? Why does there have to be a point of living? Asking those questions pre-supposes an answer – and there really is no reason to suppose that one exists.

        • Stan Williams

          Keith: And that you expect a logical response presupposes an ordered universe. And what is the purpose of seeking order (as you are demanding) if not to extend life? That leads you to wanting to follow rules to sustain life. And that is what morality is. It’s intelligent, ordered, and benevolent to humanity. It can’t be random else it would be ignorant, disordered, and destructive to humanity. Your demand for logic and order leads to something that wants you to live. Call it what you want, but we call it a God that loves us. What do you call it? Equivocate if you want, but…you can’t outrun what is true.

          • Aaron Maxwell

            We also have the words “fantasy”, “lie”, “delusion” and, my favorite, “incredible” which, FYI, means the opposite of “credible”, which is to say “not credible”.

          • wakarimasen

            Stan, does a god who wants us to live allow upwards of half of all fertilized human eggs to be spontaneously aborted when he could simply prevent fertilization from happening in the first place? Does he allow millions of his followers, including many infants and children, to be tortured and killed (e.g., the Holocaust)? Does he allow millions of people, including babies and children, to be wiped out by tsunamis and epidemics? Would you allow any of this to happen if you were in charge of the Universe? If so, or if you think these events can be safely ignored, I hope you’ll reconsider and become a humanist.

      • Justin

        Do you have to describe exactly what it means to be “well” in order to believe that there is objective facts when it comes to morality? What does it mean to be “healthy”? Why should we want to be “healthy”? This doesn’t mean that there aren’t objective answers in medicine. You don’t have to know the best answer in order to believe that there is one. If we define morality and ethics as pertaining to the well-being of conscience creatures then we can look at “right” and “wrong” objectively and determine, given our current knowledge, what would likely be the best decision in a given scenario. Don’t let the religious folk trick you into thinking that you cannot have objective morality without a god. They are describing Absolute morality. One that would exist even if we weren’t here. What would the word “morality” mean if there was no life? Would it still be there? I don’t see how…and I would say that if you think that morality can exist without life existing then I don’t know what you are talking about when you say “morality”. Morality means nothing to things that cannot experience.

        • BrA

          To answer your questions about Absolute morality, you need to have a good grasp of Aristotle’s teaching on Actuality versus Potentiality. In the hypothetical situation of a morality without living beings, we are not dealing with morality as an actualized reality, but rather as it exists in potency. Morality, since it is for the well being of a particular living being, the rational one,is based on the form that makes the living being what it is. If the form can be conceived without the being coming into existence, then you have the potency for a morality that is not yet actualized. So now postulate God, and say that He contains within His mind all the forms of created reality He intends to make. Even for the billions of years when there was no life in the universe, morality existed potentially, insofar as rational animals existed potentially in the mind of God. So while morality does mean nothing to things that cannot understand or experience, if you hold to an absolute God then you can have an absolute morality even in the absence of moral creatures. I hope that helps. But I would suggest that you try to grapple with Aristotle’s understanding of Act and Potency if you really want to grasp this hypothetical. Personally, I don’t find hypothetical situations contrary to fact all that helpful in this case, since moral creatures do exist.

          • RealityCzech

            This is a misinterpretation of Aristotle’s philosophy. If anything, God would be pure actuality, because in order to have potential one has to have matter. Last time I checked, God isn’t supposed to be bound by a physical form. And if God were pure actuality, all he would do is sit there and contemplate his own perfection. The only part of Aristotalean metaphysics that really meshis with Abrahamic religion is the fact that, according to Aristotle, the universe needs a ‘prime mover’ of pure actuality in order to explain things like the growth of the universe. So, in that sense, Aristotle considered an entity that is necessary for the universe to function as it does. However, that entity’s very nature prevents it from caring in the slightest about anything but itself. Much love to Aristotle, the man was a genius, but his metaphysics are bulky and at times nonsensical. The early medievals loved his metaphysics (mostly due to gross misinterpretation of the prime mover), but now he is mostly remembered for his work on logic.

          • BrA

            I thank you for at least considering my argument. It is a point well taken, but I (and the scholastics) are not placing any passivity in God (or the Prime Mover for that matter). The Prime Mover is pure actuality not because he is immaterial, but the opposite. Because, by definition, he cannot have any potency, he cannot have any matter.
            Now I assume your remark regards the potency of morality in the structures of form? Well here is my answer to what I think your problem is. So, again, the Prime mover is first because He is unmoved yet moves all other things. All other things are moved movers, and therefore depend on the Unmoved mover for any actuality whatsoever. Thus, all moved movers depend on the Unmoved mover for existence and change. From this follows the principle, nothing is in the effect that is not in cause, at least in a latent manner. Moved movers receive the actuality of the Unmoved mover in a limited form, which includes in it potency. These forms are different ways of participating in the Unmoved mover. The potency I am talking about does not lie in the Unmoved mover, but in the created forms that participate in the Unmoved mover.

            Now you are right to say that the Unmoved mover contemplates Himself, but that does not mean he is ignorant of moved being. insofar as He knows Himself, He knows all the ways His actuality can be participated in, and thus can be said to know all the forms. For more, see Aquinas Summa Theologiae, Prima pars, question 15, articles 1 and 2.

            Also because the Unmoved mover can see all creation in Himself, He can also be said to care for it, albeit in an analogical fashion to what we call “caring”. That would require an even longer foray into analogy theory that I do not have the space for, nor is it really appropriate here. If you would like to continue this conversation, I could e-mail you. But suffice it to say, while Aristotle’s philosophy is “bullky” (as you put it) I think it accurately reflects the metaphysical reality of the world, and further if you admire his work in logic, much of this follows from it, since his logic is imbedded in his idea of science. I would also like to see why precisely you think the medievals misinterpret Aristotle, because I think you can argue they knew him very well. In fact, Aquinas was known to have corrected Latin translations of Aristotle, though he did not know Greek, because the translation did not accurately portray Aristotle’s thought elsewhere.
            I am sorry, this is probably bulky too, but if you are interested in chatting I love to talk Aristotle, because I think he is correct and it can be shown by arguments and reason to be so.

      • Consider chess. There are certain fundamental ‘rules of the game’ that define it. An 8×8 board, 8 pawns per side that move in certain ways, two rooks per side that move in other ways, castling, the initial configuration of the pieces, etc. Now, there is no rule that you can’t sacrifice your queen in the first few moves of the game. It’s illegal to move your king to a threatened square, but it’s perfectly acceptable by the rules to stick your queen in front of a pawn at the start of the game.

        However, if you want to win the game, you shouldn’t do that. There are almost no situations (at least, assuming evenly-matched opponents) where giving up your queen at the start will lead to your victory. Similarly, it’s rarely a good idea to move your king out to the center of the board. It’s usually a bad move.

        Note words like “shouldn’t” and “bad”. They are value judgments. They prescribe ‘oughts’. Yet they are not part of the ‘rules’ of chess. From where do they come? From the combination of two things – first, the rules and structure of chess, and second, from the player’s desire to win the game. They are *strategic* rules.

        We have physical laws, and we have human desires. “Oughts” – strategic rules – morals – arise from those two things. Some basic game theory, and voila – cooperation, etc. I contend that I am ethical and moral, that people in general are ethical and moral, because the alternative is running naked in the woods fighting over scraps of food. That’s not ‘subjective’ at all.

        (Note that *if* this model is correct, humans could evolve instincts for morality, in the same way that we’ve evolved instincts for physics. At least, physics at one gee and one atmosphere. Click on my name above for an essay expanding on this whole analogy and its consequences.)

        • John M

          I like, that was enlightening, for a former chess player. I gave up chess, because there are lots of other non zero sum games to be played in life, with a better payoff.

        • Fred

          Ray, The problem with your analogy is that many of the “games” are themselves pretty morally horrid. I’m reading an account of the Parker massacre by the Comanche in 1836. One of the women the Indians captured (a girl really, she was 17) was pregnant when they captured her. They beat her, sexually abused her (not just her “owner” but all the friends he shared her with), and enslaved her. By the time her baby was born, she knew enough of the Comanche language to beg for the life of her child. The Comanche decided taking care of the child would keep her from her slave labor, so they took the child from her, strangled it, and handed it back to her. When it still showed signs of life, they took it back, tied a rope around its neck, and dragged it behind a horse through a prickly pear grove. Those were not aberrant acts by evil individuals. They resulted from moral norms of the tribe, the “rules” of their “game.” Since those rules functioned quite well for the Comanche–they had a large military and trade empire that stretched over five modern states and which they ruled for several centuries, had stopped the Spanish colonial expansion dead in its tracks, and kept the Anglos out of their territory for a century, even rolling back territory the Anglos had taken–by your definition, they were behaving morally when they tortured a seven-week-old baby to death. If there is no objective morality, if morality is only any set of constructed “rules of a game,’ then you have absolutely no basis for condemning the Comanches’ behavior. Is that really what you believe? That if the circumstances are right, if the “rules” demand certain acts, however much suffering they cause, those acts are moral? Because that is the unavoidable logical entailment of your argument.

          • Fred

            And by the way, the argument that “they were only defending themselves from an invasion of their territory” won’t do. The Comanche themselves had conquered their territory from other Indian tribes, which they treated in the same manner as they treated the Parker girl. As I said, that was the moral norm of the tribe.

          • Fletch

            Your example, if it is even true that such behavior was normal, is an exception to the rule not the norm. All societies have certain acts that the people see as intolerable. Incest is a great example. In ancient Egypt sibling marriages were common. But this is not the norm. We know most civilizations have an incest taboo. However so do most animals. Well is it really wrong for a brother to marry his sister? How about for a lobster to procreate with its sibling? Is it possible that a society could say some god other than Yahweh pronounced the incest taboo and this false religion’s self satisfied members trumped this as one of the reasons their god must exist. Mob mentality and plain old human psychology explain things just fine. No magic man needed.

          • You didn’t read the essay, did you? 🙂

            Chess theory moves on. A grandmaster from the 1800s would struggle against most strong players today because we’ve learned better chess strategies since then. Similarly, we learn better ways of getting along with each other and organizing our societies. Slavery was progress compared to ‘slaughter everyone you conquer’, but we’ve since learned that slavery is a net drain on the society that practices it. (Slaves can’t be creative or solve problems, they have to be supervised and secured, etc. etc. Even the slavery-in-all-but-name of the communist states prevented them from being able to match the freer societies. We’ve also learned that women are people too, and just as capable as men (even in chess, btw: )

            The rules of the game haven’t changed (the basic laws of physics) but we’ve found better strategies for working within them to achieve human goals.

            Other examples of moral progress, of finding better solutions as time goes on: and

      • miker42

        Leah, you asked Stephen, “What does it mean to live well and where did you receive this knowledge from?” On the topic of receiving moral knowledge, I have asked myself on occasion, “What does it feel like to have an instinct?” We can observe birds doing their instinctual mating dances, among countless other types of instinctual behavior you find in the animal kingdom, and it makes me wonder, does acting instinctually feel different, like maybe an irresistible compulsion, from any other type of behavior?

        I think it reasonable to assume that humans are driven by some instinctual behaviors. The obvious example is sexual attraction. While we can certainly modify our outward behavior to be polite and considerate in our modern society, I think something instinctual happens deep down in our brains when we see someone we find attractive. We don’t choose to be attracted to someone. It just happens.

        I don’t think there is any reason to think morality is any different. There is good reason to think that humans who don’t behave morally, in general, reduce their own chance of survival when attempting to cohabitate with a social human species that depends on cooperative behavior for its survival. The fact that you feel a compulsion to be good or live well is not good evidence that this compulsion is the result of a force acting upon you from outside your brain when we have evidence that human behavior is the result of the human brain. We know that when a human brain changes, from an accident, disease or operation, so does human behavior.

        The idea that there is some external moral force acting upon us, like gravity, is supported by the worst kind of evidence, if we can even call it evidence. Ancient myths passed inconsistently from generation to generation is terrible evidence for some external moral force that is invisible and can’t be tested, especially when we know that our moral compulsions can be changed by changing our brains. See lobotomy.

        When you say, “I guess Morality just loves me or something”, I think you jump to the conclusion that morality is an external force because you just can’t help it. Well you just can’t help acting instinctually either, and at least we have very good reason to think we have instincts. So what does it feel like to have an instinct? Does it feel like an external compulsion that you just can’t resist? If it does, is it really external or just a product of our own brains? Of course our morals are a product of our brains.

        • Will

          But if that is the case, then when evolutionary purpose would an instinct toward morality serve when you consider that morality often compels us to act against our own best interests? (e.g. giving money to charity, sacrificing your life for someone else, etc.)

          The instincts you reference in your opening paragraph serve clear purposes, such as a mating dance for the purpose of sex and procreation. If you maintain that morality is just another instinct, then it would also have to serve some sort of purpose. What would that be?

          • miker42

            Morality serves survival. I don’t think morality compels us to act against our own best interest if the survival of our social group is in our best interest. As a social species, we tend to view people as either in our group or out of it. Our family, friends, team, college, country, gender, race, etc… We cooperate with those in our group and protect ourselves from the possible threat of those not in our group. The benefit of our increasingly more global community is that it is easier today to view more people as in our group then it was in the past.

            If you have an instinct to care for those in your group because that is in your best interest, then some amount of compulsion to sacrifice for them would be expected. I find that often, the charities that people give to are charities that serve a cause that has touched them personally, thus making that charity a matter of survival for that person’s group. For example, for a person who has had cancer and not known anyone who has been affected by AIDS, it is more common to hear about such people giving and raising money for cancer charities and less common for such people do to the same for an AIDS charity.

            A tragic consequence of religion is that it clearly defines people as outsiders to ones group. In general terms, outsiders are competition for resources and possibly even a direct threat to our own survival. I think we can argue that we would feel morally justified to kill a tiger that was attempting to kill members of our family. Similarly religion draws a line that defines people as either inside or outside that group, and goes on to define outsiders as threats to that group’s survival.

      • Galen

        For me, living well means the things that make me feel happy, in the broadest, most asperational sense. And I’ve found that living for “humans” in general isn’t the way to do it, because even if I do something “good” I feel bad for enjoying it (as that makes it selfish). So now I live for myself, and if helping out humans (in general or certain specific humans) makes me feel happy, then I’m all about it.

    • Ted Seeber

      One can be extremely immoral and live quite well- given an adequate security system.

  • keddaw

    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?

    • Oh, I really MUST hear the reasoning behind that claim. I’ll pop some corn.

      • keddaw

        Then strap yourself in and grab a 15oz soft drink from NYC. Oh, you can’t. 14oz then. Quotes are from

        Under virtue ethics*, one of the virtues of the thinking ape is reason and enquiry. These are not the only virtues, probably not even the greatest, but they suffice for what is to follow. Should you not agree with them being virtues then call them wisdom or honesty.

        Should one follow this virtue (along with the others), ideally using the scientific method and scientific scepticism, one might well be considered to have lived a ‘good’ life. However, should one’s scepticism also leave one in doubt as to the existence of all gods, and especially of Jesus’ divinity and resurrection (as I’d argue it must) then Catholicism says this damns you to eternal separation from God i.e. hell.

        This seems particularly unjust (one of the virtues!) as one has not ‘chosen’ not to accept God’s merciful** love but has been true to the virtues but will suffer for eternity because one did not abandon honesty/wisdom/reason and accept without evidence.

        “[A] willful[sic] turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end” is what following virtue ethics might lead to, although wilful seems overkill if one is simply following one’s virtues. There is, in my reading, no scope for one to change one’s mind after death, when the evidence might demand it. As the Catechism says “Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.'”

        If someone wants to explain this away I’d be very appreciative, but it cannot simply be “God is in your heart and if you don’t open your heart to Him you’re wilfully turning away from God” (and so deserve eternity in hell?) I can tell you categorically this is not true, if there was evidence I’d believe – although I prefer to open my brain than my heart – although you might think this somewhat precludes faith, but faith isn’t a virtue in my view. It’s also not true because on meeting Him after death I’d be happy (existing after death at all would make me happy!) and not turn away from Him. It would be churlish for Him to then reject me. And yet that is the Catholic view.

        * A philosophy I vehemently decry, but I’m more likely to get Leah to see that under VE, Catholicism is bad than to see that VE is the source of her philosophical problems that led her to Catholicism. She currently has more staked on VE than Catholicism as far as I can tell.

        ** Accept my merciful love (before you die and discover if I’m real or not) or suffer for eternity!

        • AMY

          the thing you missed is the conditions necessary to cause sin to be mortal, or DEATH to the soul, which quantifies the degree of the sin and therefore, the degree of the separation from God. Ignorance may spare you such a severe separation. Willful means you must understand before rejecting. the Mercy you mock really does make allowances for your ignorance and patiently waits for you to reach the point of discovery. Keep thinking.

          • keddaw

            This would only apply to people never exposed to Catholicism (although that was a nice internal Catholic debate, especially regarding purgatory/limbo for unbaptised babies..) if our virtue ethics-following person has had access to the full teaching of the Catholic Church and, using reason, honesty, and wisdom, does not accept the divinity of Jesus and the existence of Our Father in heaven due to a lack of acceptable evidence then (s)he’s damned for eternity.

        • Edwin

          You misstate the Catholic position. Rejecting God is only a mortal sin if on some level you know that God is real but reject Him anyway.
          We all have beliefs that we hold on to for irrational reasons. You presumably think that belief in God is such a belief, so it shouldn’t be a hard concept for you to understand. If those irrational reasons are morally culpable, then a “sincere” belief may be a sin. An obvious example is a racist who sincerely believes that people of other races are inferior and it’s OK to kill them. So under certain circumstances, it’s possible that atheism might lead someone to damnation. But that’s certainly not something that should be assumed about atheists in general. Charitably, one should assume that other people are acting in good faith and seeking truth with all their hearts.

          • If I knew that God was real then I would most certainly reject him anyway, and I would be proud to do so.

            However, I don’t think he’s real, on any level… does this mean I still might get into Heaven? 😉

          • SpiritualMan

            Hi Jennifer,
            God loves you so much, if you don’t believe him so be it but he still loves you unconditionally. He does not ask you to believe him, just live your life the way you live it now. The most important is for you to LEARN the lessons of life. The things that we could not have learned had we not chosed to come in this physical world. All of us will ultimately go to heaven, not because we did good but because heaven is where came from. We are ONE with GOD. GOD is the ocean! A collectivve conciousness of love and light. We are the droplets, plucked from that OCEAN to experience the physical world and enveloped inside an avatar called human body. By this, we experience pain to appreciate glory, we experience sadness to appreciate joy, we experience sorrow to appreciate bliss and most importantly, we experience separation to experience oneness.

            I was born in a very religious family. My parents were devout catholic. When i was in college I used to go to church two to three times a week but later in my life I realized I started to question how the bible describes God. I did not question the existence of God but I question how he is being described in the bible. Since that time I started to seek the truth. I am now convinced that GOD is love – Uncoditional love. When I realized this, everything now makes sense to me. How true it is when the Bible says “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and everything shall be added unto you.”
            So Jennifer be just be who you are but I urge you to seek the truth. Try to listen to your inner voice and open up your heart.

    • leahlibresco

      I’m not really sure what to make of the idea of hell, keddaw. It’s the first argument I got into in my RCIA class (I’ll be discussing this in more detail later). The other criticisms are a little too vague for me to reply to. Feel free to keep replying here or to wait to level more specific critiques as I delve in deeper on this topic.

      In the meantime, can I ask what kind of metaphysics you go with? And how you picked?

      • Christina

        I know this is probably not the right spot, but an experience I had a few years ago really helped me to begin to understand how hell is the most merciful thing God can do.

        A group I was in organized a great hiking trip, only a short distance away was an easy hike to a beautiful overlook where we had mass and a light picnic dinner. One person who joined us that day, for whatever reason, did NOT want to go on a hike and wanted a real dinner (not sure why she came in the first place). She complained the whole way there, was sullen the entire hike, and complained about everything (the sun was too bright, the rocks too high, the whole thing ridiculous, etc). We had no power to return her to her solitude like she wanted, but tried our best to help her be happy by sending person after person to cheer her up, yet she refused to be consoled. In the end we left early to get her home.

        I know from experience, that to be alone when you are depressed is a hell of it’s own kind, you cycle in your depressed thoughts until the darkness overwhelms. Yet, we could not FORCE her to be happy, we could only provide her with the means to be less miserable, and being in a group of happy people was making her MORE miserable than being alone. Yes, when she got home she probably continued to rant with wailing and gnashing of teeth against how horrible those happy people were. She probably hated us all the more bitterly and, in fact, didn’t come to another event. Since then hell made sense as a mercy, since some people will only be “happiest” when they are miserably alone.

        • Keith Collyer

          Wow, talk of twisted! If you think one person’s misery makes hell a mercy you are one sick puppy. Get help!

          • Christina

            You have misunderstood what I wrote, but I’m afraid I do not possess the talent to re-explain any clearer. The best I can think to do now is to reword one of the sentences, “God cannot FORCE someone to be happy, he can only provide her with the means to be LESS miserable. Ergo, hell is a mercy so that those who WANT to be miserable don’t have to deal with the added misery of seeing the Joy of those in heaven.”

          • Pareidolius

            No matter how you cut it, the RC god is an abusive, neurotic sociopath. And if your god cannot make someone to be happy then it’s not really a god at all, is it?

          • Ted Seeber

            Talk about utterly misunderstanding the concept!

          • MichelleMarie

            No, he cannot “make someone happy”. He gave us free will. And you are exercising it in your choice to ignore the basic tenets of a religion that you are trying to debate.

        • Mike B.

          This is a very disturbingly sick way to view the world and your fellow humans. You think torturing a depressed person for eternity makes sense? What if this girl just didn’t like camping? Maybe she had a bad day, or she was sick or tired? Your answer is to throw her in a burning lake of fire for eternity?

          “Wow, that girl is being mean and not acting happy. Guess that means she’ll only be happy if we torture her for eternity!”


          • bearing

            I think a simpler way to look at it is this:

            Posit for the sake of argument that there are some people who don’t *want* to be in the presence of God.

            Ok, well, then, God won’t force those people to join him. Not forcing people to do what they don’t want to do = a form of mercy.

            Hell being, essentially, separation from God, those people are, by definition, in hell.

            This is a theoretical understanding. We cannot be certain that any person is in hell.

          • Ted Seeber

            Hell isn’t torture. It is in fact the distinct *lack* of torture.

          • Mike B.

            “Hell being, essentially, separation from God, those people are, by definition, in hell.”
            You’re kinda glossing over the whole “torture” aspect of hell, aren’t you? It’s not simply a separation from God – it’s explicit and eternal (and according to your bible, excruciating) punishment for a finite crime.

            “This is a theoretical understanding. We cannot be certain that any person is in hell.”
            Same goes for the idea that anyone is in heaven, or that souls actually exist, or the existence of any god(s).

          • Mike B.

            “Hell isn’t torture. It is in fact the distinct *lack* of torture.”

            Citation please? I provided citations from your bible – can you do the same to support your statement?

          • Ted Seeber

            I’m not a Bible Worshiper. I go with the definitions of Pope John Paul II. All the “torture” of hell is leaving a soul alone with it’s regrets from this life.

          • Edwin

            You’re assuming that hell is torture imposed by God for all eternity.

        • You have to remember that God supposedly has the power to do anything whereas you did not. God supposedly can make the unhappy happy. He can fix the broken. If nothing else, he can make a version of heaven that is all roller skating (or whatever) instead of camping, just for that person. But he apparently doesn’t do this. You could argue that this is because he wants to respect our right to be unhappy, I suppose, except the concept of hell isn’t just ‘letting us be unhappy’, it’s placing us in an eternal state of anguish (or at least, privation). How could that be moral?

          • Christina

            God has given us free will and thus, has bound himself to not impose his will over ours. He has chosen to be humble and allow us to participate in his plan. We are taking part in His act of creation through our choices.

            Further, my story wasn’t to say “if you don’t like hiking you’ll go to hell,” but to show how it can sometimes be a mercy to allow someone to be unhappy alone. It fails as an analogy because she might have been happy reading a book. So, to make it more exact you’d have to equate the hiking trip not to a specific activity, but to seeking truth, virtue, goodness and beauty. As even most pagan philosophers agree, choosing the virtuous life is the only way by which you will be happy. No one can force to choose this however, certainly not God who has given you the ability to choose in the first place. However, to reject truth, goodness, virtue and beauty is to reject being happy and to choose to be in hell.

          • “God has given us free will and thus, has bound himself to not impose his will over ours. He has chosen to be humble and allow us to participate in his plan. We are taking part in His act of creation through our choices.”

            This strikes me as an attempt to eat our cake and still have it in the fridge waiting for us when we get home. If he’s given us free will, yet all of our actions operate in his plan, how do we have free will? He’s still creating us to have free will and then punishing us for our free choices, even though our “bad” choices also supposedly work for the benefit of his plan. That’s not moral.

            “Further, my story wasn’t to say “if you don’t like hiking you’ll go to hell,” ”

            I realize that, I was just trying to continue the metaphor.

            “it can sometimes be a mercy to allow someone to be unhappy alone.”

            But unhappy eternally in a state of painful privation? When you have the power to ease their suffering in any number of ways–literally in any way you can possibly think of? You will not convince me anyone would choose to be in a state of anguish for eternity and that it’s perfectly moral to tell them “nope, sorry, you made your choice” when they complain, no matter how long they’ve suffered. This gets even more problematic if you believe people should be condemned to hell not only for acting without virtuousness, but for lacking belief, considering the imperfect methods He has supposedly chosen to reveal Himself.

          • Ken

            Right. The bipolar and depressed and physically crippled and mentally retarded people who anti-socially live in their own personal hell are there because they choose to be. And after they die, they get to go to the real hell as punishment. Yep, gimme dat ol’ time religion.

          • Ted Seeber

            Who told you that God has the power to do whatever he wants?

          • @Ted:
            All-knowing, all-powerful, and all-benevolent/good is a pretty common conception of a monotheistic god-figure.

          • Ted Seeber

            @Matt- only if you’re an American Fundamentalist. And even then- all-powerful and all-benevolent/good are mutually exclusive categories. One cannot be all powerful and all benevolent/good, the benevolence and goodness limits the power- especially if one is all-knowing.

            The *traditional* God is omniscient (all SEEING), omnipotent (all CAUSING) and benevolent (Good/Caritas/Loving). His power is thus limited by rationality and his knowledge of past/present/future.

            Sounds to me like your definition of God comes from one too many televangelists.

          • @Ted: I don’t see much functional difference between all powerful and all causing, or all knowing and all seeing. If he’s all causing and all seeing, he still is morally responsible for the state of, well, everything.

        • Christina

          RE Matt:
          “If he’s given us free will, yet all of our actions operate in his plan, how do we have free will?”

          I don’t know. I do not understand everything about how God works. I do know that God exists and that he loves me, I have seen enough evidence for that. I’ve seen how I could choose Good or Evil, so I know I have free will. I’ve seen how he has taken some of my most egregious choices for evil and still brought good out of them, so I know He can. I don’t know how those pieces add up, but just because I don’t understand that level of math doesn’t mean it’s false.

          “When you have the power to ease their suffering in any number of ways–literally in any way you can possibly think of?”

          The problem with this is a misunderstanding of what makes us happy. A person can have every material good in the world and still be miserable. Money, cars, sports, health, and trips to Paris do not make us happy. The ONLY way for us to be truly happy is to choose to live a virtuous life seeking Truth, Goodness and Beauty. Anything else, even if we had an infinite amount of it, would only leave us empty and in despair.

          It’s also a misunderstanding of how Christian’s view the next life. We don’t see it as a continuation of this life with wings and harps. It is somehow essentially different and the choices we make in this life are permanently imprinted on us. Somehow, once we die, we have already made the choice and it sticks. Again, I don’t know how, or why, but I’ve seen enough truth in Catholicism in other parts to believe it on this part. I believe St Thomas has a lot to say on the topic, something about seeing God and being given full knowledge.

          • That’s your opinion. Those things you listed, they make a lot of people very happy, at least some of whom spend their money establishing charitable organizations of various sorts. If those things don’t make us happy, then why does the Vatican have all those things in abundance? Why do they have so much money, so many private automobiles when the laity takes the bus, the best medical care money can buy?

            The problem with seeking Truth, Goodness and Beauty is that they are not only subjective terms that vary across time and culture, they are also impossible goals to attain. Which would lead to depression and leave us empty and in despair.

            Besides, those are not the only things a supposedly omniscient and omnipotent God could do to ease someone’s suffering.

          • underground.apostle

            not a single detractor in this thread, has taken the time to understand the things they posit as proof of God’s non-existence, or injustice.
            as G.K. Chesterton put it: “thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world, rather they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims, which are not true.”
            no argument will be sufficient for the person who isn’t willing to listen, little argument is required for someone who is.

          • @Christina:
            I still disagree, but thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

          • Christina

            @Matt, thank you for asking those questions politely.

            Another note, the Christian god is both all-powerful and all-good. Thus he is not “a god who can do everything”, but “a god who can do any good”. Taking away someone’s free will to force them to endure heaven would be an evil thing to do.

            As “The Other Weirdo” pointed out, some people only want that which will make them less than perfectly happy. Christian’s believe that in the next life it will become very clear how incomplete that is, how depriving, yet their character will be fixed into choosing that lesser good over the greater Good.

            Perhaps hell is filled with all of those things: money, houses, cars, etc…yet to look at it would be like looking at the lives of those stars who have everything yet who live in despair. In other words, you are given what you love most and for whatever reason you will never choose differently. I heard it explained once that there isn’t really a “later” to choose differently. That eternity doesn’t mean “a really long time” but a pulling out of time into “now”. I’ve always thought of it as we live in a 1D time now, and come heaven we’ll experience a 2D time.

          • Ted Seeber

            OtherWierdo- the Vatican doesn’t have material wealth in abundance. For an organization of a billion believers, it seems to have a yearly per capita income of less than a dime.

          • HumanistJohn

            Any deity that would base what we spend eternity doing off of such a short time span is just plain cruel. Why would a god do such a thing? It would be like seeing a 2 year old kick another child and then imprison that 2 year old for the rest of it’s life. It makes absolutley no sense and no merciful god could act in such a way. To tell yourself otherwise would require one to disregard logic not to mention compassion.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            You seem to think that eternity is an endless time. It is not. It is more like a timeless end. We spend our lives in a space-time continuum consequent to the existence of mass-energy. That’s just plain general relativity. But as a result, we find it difficult to deal with the timelessness that would persist non-materially. IOW, eternity is not a really, really long time; nor is time a short snippet of eternity. They are two different things. Does this help?

          • Bryan

            “I heard it explained once that there isn’t really a “later” to choose differently. That eternity doesn’t mean “a really long time” but a pulling out of time into “now”. I’ve always thought of it as we live in a 1D time now, and come heaven we’ll experience a 2D time.”

            Another way of looking at this is from the stand-point of a reader of a book v. the characters of that book. Within the context of the story, the characters live in linear time, but as a reader, the entire “history” of the book exists as a single entity and “eternity” to the characters actually exists outside of their time. If you can extrapolate this concept to humans being “within the story” and the after-life, or eternity or heaven/hell being what God sees as the reader of said story, the eternity falls ever farther away from the idea of just being a really long time. It’s a pale analogy, but one that has helped me.

          • Bryan

            Something I have wondered concerning the character v. reader analogy…if I can properly describe the abstract, inner working of my head so that others can actually follow…assuming time doesn’t exists “after”, does that mean from the eternal perspective, that every human that has ever died, or who ever will die in the future, all perished at once? Said another way, does this mean that St. Augustine and Pope John Paul and Adam and Eve aren’t standing around waiting for the rest of us to show up, playing harps and praising God to pass the time(or engaging in some other activity in Hell, if that was their final destination), but rather they died, and once on the eternity side of existence, immediately saw the rest of us arrive virtually at the same time, since from the eternal perspective, there was no “time” within which to wait, and all history, past, present and future, exists simultaneously, much like the sum-total contents of a book exists all at once to the reader? It would be interesting to finally arrive at eternity only to discover that Adam and Eve had only just arrived, as well, as far as they were concerned, then to immediately turn and see all of your children and grandchildren standing there, glad to have finally arrived so that they could see you again after so long. It almost hurts your brain to try and wrap your head around the idea.

        • Oh, wow! That’s a great explanation. And to draw it further, let me add this observation.

          The grudging hiker can’t be made happy. Left alone, she is miserable; consoled, she is miserable. She carries her misery in her. This thought leads C. S. Lewis to speculate that heaven and hell might be something of the same place: only the occupants’ receptivity to the company would differ.

          What’s appealing about this possibility is that it accounts for the self-inflicted quality of damnation, removing it from the realm of “God’s fault” altogether. For C. S. Lewis it also has the strength that it accounts for the polyvalent use of fire imagery in the Bible: God’s love, spiritual cleansing, and eternal damnation are all depicted with images of fire. It also has going for it the fact that it accounts for the resurrection of all the dead and the re-creation of the heaven and a very real, very material earth anticipated by the prophets, apostles, and our Lord himself.

        • Slothmorse

          Christina, What a marvelous story! My grandson asked me about Hell recently and I tried to explain (poorly, I’m afraid) that it was a rejection of God. I’ve copied and pasted your story and will try to tell Mike what you’ve explained. (Hope you don’t mind — I’m a writer, so I have a bristly feeling about “fair use” of written stuff.) Thank you so very much.

      • Ted Seeber

        My favorite reasoning for Hell comes from Pope John Paul II, and is kind of a mashup between the Eastern Orthodox/Jewish Sheol and the Western notion of hell.

        Hell is mercy. If your soul is so incredibly addicted to sin, by your own free will, that being in Heaven/God’s presence is painful then Hell is provided for you to *not be in God’s presence*. In other words, every atheist who is an atheist because they are so angry at the concept of evil that they can’t believe in a good God who created evil, should *want* to go to Hell.

        • underground.apostle

          that is beautiful.
          the argument against God based on hell and evil, is always a rejection of the anti-intellectual protestant understanding of hell and evil, that we are all painted as believing by those who don’t look any deeper.
          it is a step in the path of logic, to conclude as you have above (pre-supposing a loving creator that is).

          • Ted Seeber

            My favorite way to totally blowing a Protestant Fundamentalist mind:

            If my Lord Jesus Christ sends me to Hell for all eternity, I shall happily go to minister to the poor souls there.

        • Edgar

          Hell is mercy? Sounds like something Htiler or Saddam would say to rationalize the suffering of people who are not on their side.

      • BHG

        Leah–I suggest listening to the podcasts and seeing the videos of Fr. Barro–you will find them excellent. He has one on “Is Hell Empty or Full” that will help the wrestling with this [particular concept…KNow you are much in the prayers of many

        • Rachel

          I think it would be valuable to remember in this discussion of evil and hell that evil is not a thing in and of itself, rather it is a lack of a thing- good. An analogy would be to say that darkness is not a thing in and of itself but the lack of light. We give names to these lacks that we encounter.

          Also, Hell’s torture is the separation from God that is brought about by the individual’s choice to reject God. God never does the rejecting. (Representations of hell as flames and brimstone are not necessarily incorrect, but are probably not the most true.)

          And God is both all powerful and all good. Whatever God does is good. He cannot do evil because whatever God does by definition is good.

          Lastly, Satan is not the opposite of God. He is the opposite of St. Michael. This is often forgotten but worth mentioning I think. God has no opposite.

      • keddaw

        Even if hell is, as many Christians would like it to be (because the original, “infinite pain for infinity” version is somewhat at odds with a benevolent god), a simple separation from god through your own choice that still leaves two massive, unanswerable problems:
        1. Science increasingly (and philosophy generally) is against the religious understanding of free will.
        2. You have to believe without evidence. If you wait until death then go “ah, big man, you DO exist” it’s too late, you’re doomed regardless. You have to believe with no/little evidence. And if you do believe you’re supposed to be happy despite knowing that many of the people you cared about (which should be most of humanity if you claim to be a Christian!) are suffering without ‘God’ because they didn’t believe, most of whom never had the opportunity to believe (in the Catholic ‘God’).

        deiseach, I claim that Leah has been looking for an excuse to believe based on her articles, her insistence on virtue ethics, her appreciation of the ‘philosophy’ of Chesterton et al. that’s hardly unfair. Some people look into the abyss and seek reassurance, some see the beauty in the void, and some see a reflection. I think Leah, in part based on her view of humanity, sought reassurance and found, in many ways, a kindred spirit in the church. It’s easy to ignore the bad parts of a philosophy when much of the rest of it appeals – see non-religious republicans.

        “Hell is mercy” m’kay…

        Leah, my metaphysics: moral error theory, materialism, pragmatic libertarianism (which, in the current state of things, means supporting non-libertarian ideals!). Just had a conversation regarding the bible – Lot and Job are interesting stories, not sure there is actually a moral to take away from those other than “I am the lord your God, I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Of course, you can ignore the OT and simply pay attention to Jesus, but then you’re not a real Catholic… (But a better person).

        • keddaw

          And how I got my worldview? Logic, reason, introspection, philosophy, neuroscience, physics, biology, psychology and a sheer bloody-minded approach to seeking what is true and provable and avoiding what is sham, conjuring tricks, manipulation, psychological tricks, fallacious reasoning, innate bias, wish fulfilment, assumed authority, unquestioning loyalty, blind faith, infinite rewards, infinite punishment, self-aggrandisement, self-diminishment, appeals to emotion rather than reason, requirements to believe without evidence, presumption, assumption, human exceptionalism, paternalism, and magic.

          • powdereddonuts

            @keddaw, I would say that is a pretty solid basis for a well-lived life my friend.

        • Edwin

          You keep assuming that Catholics believe that all non-Christians go to hell.
          They very clearly and explicitly do not believe this.
          You and most of the other atheists here are arguing against fundamentalism.
          This applies to your appeal to the OT as well–Catholics have been wrestling with the more disturbing parts of the OT (not that the NT lacks some of those as well) for 2000 years. St. Augustine laid down the principle that Scripture is always to be interpreted in a sense that promotes faith, hope, and charity, and if the literal sense of a passage doesn’t do that then the passage should not be taken literally. This is one of the most basic classical Christian hermeneutical principles, and the fact that you don’t seem to have heard of it indicates, again, that your acquaintance with Christianity is probably limited to fundamentalists.

          • keddaw

            No, I’m assuming the Catholic Church means what it states in the catechism, never mind the Bible, I couldn’t care less what contraception-using, blaspheming, fornicating, transubstantiation disbelieving, common or garden Catholics believe.

            The catechism states that:
            To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”
            The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell
            God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.

            There is another part that asserts people without access to Catholicism who seek to follow god’s laws to the best of their available knowledge might be saved, but since most people don’t do that, it seems that under house rules most people who have never had access to Catholicism will be in hell, not all but most.

            I willfully deny the divinity of Jesus and the existence of a Catholic god without decent evidence. I have had access to Catholic materials, in spite of that I live what even most Catholics would consider to be generally a good life and yet this Church teaches that I am doomed upon death to eternity in hell. I would immediately change my mind after death, or before, if evidence of the Catholic god was forthcoming, it seems arbitrary to say that the moment of death is the cutoff for both forgiveness and belief/faith, and unjust for one to see the truth and accept it when it is too late to make any difference, that just seems unnecessarily cruel, ironic for such a benevolent and merciful god, no?

          • @keddaw

            I would immediately change my mind after death, or before, if evidence of the Catholic god was forthcoming,

            If that is true, and if you still don’t end up converting eventually, that qualifies you for an invincible ignorance exception. Or in in sin-classification language: If that is so, you’re lacking clear knowledge (one of the necessary criteria for mortality of sins, along with grave matter and full consent) so your disbelief can at most be a venial sin.

          • keddaw

            I disagree, but regardless, belief is not the same as worship… I’m afraid I’m wired in such a way as I can respect people/things but am unable to worship.

      • Hell is the fire of God. Heaven is the fire of God. They are both the same “place”. Which one we experience depends on us, not God. We are free creatures, which is a pretty cool gift. But one of the results of freedom is the freedom to reject God’s love.
        As a 2 year old Catholic myself, let me welcome you aboard the barque of Peter. This boat aint perfect, but shes the only one floating.


        • Bryan

          An interesting take on a very similar concept is C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce”. It doesn’t treat Heaven and Hell the same, but it does treat Hell and Purgatory as being the same place, and posits that the difference lies in whether or not you can let go of your sin and move on. If you can, the place you were in was only Purgatory; if not, it becomes Hell.

      • Nobody goes to hell who doesn’t want to be there. To be in the unavoidable presence of God forever when you want to be your own god and do what seems right on your terms? That’s hell. It’s God taking our choices and actions seriously, and giving us what we think we want. Otherwise, we are wishing that an unloving and unjust and over-indulgent God would not respect our freedom & choices. “I want all the goodies and fun but with no consequences whatsoever in who I become & what I am”? Fail. As St. Augustine said, “My love is my weight”– he’s not talking about diets, but how what and who and how we love brings us– ultimately– to our proper place in eternity. The key to this mystery– ultimately– is love. Does anybody love the cancer killing a loved one? Do we say “Hurray for crystal meth (or bath-salts)!” if our kid is rotting before our eyes? Do we cheer for rapists or pedophiles or home-invaders? Why not? If we can be that morally serious & truly loving and hate that which harms/ destroys us or others, why should God, our loving Father, love less, instead of infinitely more; and so hate that which harms and kills us body and soul? Contra the squish liberal Christians, Jesus taught this doctrine clearly.

      • Mike Silva

        I think the quickest take on hell is that those there are happier there than if they were with God. They chose no God over all God, and God respected their choice.

      • Alex Scott

        This is one area where I find Eastern Orthodoxy (full disclosure: I’m Episcopalian, not Orthodox; I’m just a fan) has a much more reasonable view.

        First, they define Heaven and Hell differently. They view each as a subjective, internal response to the presence of God, especially after the Second Coming. One who has lived a good life and exercised love feels that presence and love as eternal bliss. One who has shut themselves off from love feels that presence as eternal torment. St. Isaac of Syria* describes it as the scourge of love, or remorse–Hell is the sense of total, absolute regret.

        Second, they stay vague on how “eternal” this punishment is. St. Isaac mentions that sin had a beginning, therefore must have an end. Hell is a result of Sin, and whether it has an end, one cannot say. St. Gregory of Nyssa* was more universalist. He believed in apokatastasis, the universal restoration of everything to God’s original purpose. Orthodoxy as a whole doesn’t go as far, but don’t like to give any definite answers about who goes there or for how long. As Kallistos Ware puts it, it’s not Orthodox to believe there is no Hell, because that would deny Free Will and its consequences. On the other hand, there’s nothing stopping you from hoping it will be empty. Some Orthodox saints were even known to pray for everybody, saved, unsaved, born, unborn, no matter what.

        Personally, I don’t see how Hell could be compatible with a loving God unless it’s somehow redemptive. Like, I could see someone, in the world to come, could take that everlasting regret as the final kick in the pants they need to reconcile with those they’ve harmed. But one can never say for sure. I can only hope.

        * incidentally, both Gregory and Isaac are pre-schism, and are both considered saints in Catholicism as well as Orthodoxy, so I doubt you’d have much trouble studying them within the Catholic Church.

    • Question: If there is no objective morality etc. how is she making the wrong choice? She is simply choosing what is “truth” for her, is she not? There can be no “wrong” if it is all subjective.

      That said, hell is the most just thing in the world. You get exactly what you want, what you will, if you will.

      • AnalogousGumdropDecoder

        Non-existence of objective morality is not the same as absence of object truth. The reality of a deity is either true or it isn’t.

      • Keith Collyer

        unless you are not a christian, have never been baptised, etc., etc. Of course, that is always your fault.

        • Peter Samwel

          Keith, this is not the teaching of the Church. If you insist on disagreeing with her, at least disagree with what is actually taught rather than your own misinformed construction.

          • underground.apostle

            seriously, you have to do more than watch dogma, and read Baptist tracts if you are going to debate the merits of the most sought after, and adhered to system of belief that has ever been conceived of.
            how many people have ascribed to your budding philosophy now?
            the good thing about you atheists is the same as the good thing about protestants, you are all of an individual mindset, reinventing the wheel for yourselves over and over. you cannot compete with multi-millenial collective scholarship on these matters. you can’t even begin to contrive an argument that has not been dealt with, and overcome by our ranks. that must induce claustrophobia, to be intellectually boxed in like that.

    • Sarah

      “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?”
      Well, I suppose that statement would be true if Hell were a place or actual thing. As it stands however, the Catholic Church teaches that Hell is the privation of being, meaning the complete absence of God. It is not a part of creation, but the absence of such. I had that question about Hell too, when I was learning about Catholicism. Hope this helps.

      • Sarah,

        That is an excellent and concise answer. Exactly what the magisterial teachings say.

        • VHerz

          “Privation of being” can mislead us if we are not clear what’s meant. Obviously, we cannot mean “privation of any sort of existence” and also say someone “is” in Hell, or that Hell “exists.” But you’re not wrong, we just need to press for more clarity. I’ll only be able to flag that need, not adequately meet it. Here’s a go at it, however—take what’s good and leave what’s not. Whatever exists, is something (thank you, Plato, for the Republic!), but we can distinguish between what sort of thing it is, and its obtaining. Now, something can be a sort of thing, yet be it badly. I think the classic example is a tooth with a huge cavity is still a tooth, but not such a great one! Its integrity is compromised. Likewise, someone in Hell exists, and is a person, but a bad one. Their integrity is compromised. Being a person, they are an agent, they are rational, and so by nature are to be oriented to the Good (thank you, Aristotle!). However, someone in Hell is freely, but irrevocably oriented away from the Good. They have chosen against all hope, against all reason. That is still a terrible privation of being, the rotting of the will, and so a divorce from the ground of being, God, but they do not have an utter lack of existence, as that would be absurdly contradictory. Hope thet helps.

          • VHerz

            And Leah, we are very happy for you! God is so good.

    • Richard Bell

      Hell is essentially a place where God is not, where Love is absent. All of the depictions are attempts to express the horror and despair of such a place. The reason for Hell is the existence of free will. God loves us unconditionally, but we cannot enter Heaven if we do not love him back. If you refuse God’s love, God will not force you into His Kingdom, out of respect for your personal sovereignty.

      The flipside is that someone that disagrees with the christian idea of a loving god would be hard-pressed to enjoy being in the christian idea of heaven.

      • Mike B.

        Does anyone read the Bible anymore, or do they just pick whatever soft and fluffy idea of “hell” that makes them feel most comfortable.

        There, let me start you with a few passages:
        Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
        Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”
        Revelation 14:10 “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone”

          • Where does it say those passages are symbolic only?

          • Mike B.

            Oh good – I guess we can just say the whole thing is symbolic then? Or maybe just the outlandish bits? Let’s have a go…

            The idea of a “soul” is just symbolic… of course people can’t live forever, and there is no evidence to indicate our consciousness exists outside of our brains.

            Jesus didn’t actually “rise up to heaven”… heaven is just a symbol of our ideal world, and having this Jesus “rise up” there is symbolic of our own attempts to be “good” in this world.

            You think there is an actual “God” listening to prayers? No, no… God is just symbolic of the kind of relationship we should create with our fellow humans. Of course there isn’t real magic in this world – just look around!

            Isn’t it obvious that all of the magical bits of the bible are just symbolic? You’re right… this symbolism thing is awesome!

        • Peggy Hagen

          I’d sooner have the fire, than what Robert Bell (accurately) describes. Not seeing the “soft and fluffy” there.

        • Mike, the vast majority of all Christianities throughout church history aren’t about ‘just reading the Bible.’

          Yes, the Bible says some things that *seem* to contradict some Christian beliefs. *And that is OK,* because part of the Christian tradition from the beginning has been seeing the Bible as only part of the whole.

          You’re forcing a totally different interpretation to our entire religion by mocking us for not “reading the Bible.”

        • Jason

          I’m a recent Christian convert. This story has helped me immensely in understanding what Hell might be like. And I’m pretty sure the author (Julian Barnes) doesn’t have any religious faith at all.

      • Edgar

        @Richard Bell “…we cannot enter Heaven if we do not love Him back”.

        Is God’s ego so little that he requires adoration? Why would he need our love, if he is all powerful?

    • Joe Cool

      Of all the crazy, zany, and downright silly things this Church teaches, I have always found the doctrine of hell to be one of the most logical and believable. If God really is love (NB: not just “loving”, but actually is Love Itself), and we have free will, then I simply can’t reason my way out of a knowledge of hell. And believe me, I’d love for it not to exist; I don’t want that sword of Damocles hanging over me. For if God is Love, and we can freely choose to (or not) accept this love, then surely, we can place ourselves apart from the source of all love? For there to be no hell, either God is not love (in which case, he’s not the Catholic God), or we can’t freely choose Him (in which case, we can’t love him back, since to love requires a free choice).

      If you don’t believe me on hell, look around at the world as it is now. Note the quality of people who routinely or habitually reject love and friendship, and choose self destruction. Are they happy? If they make the ultimate choice to completely reject all love, how on earth will that make them happier?

      If Chesterton didn’t say it, he should have: hell is the most natural belief. Heaven’s the one that’s unbelievable. And as our Irish pastor (may he rest in peace) used to say: “Hell is an eternity of saying me; heaven is an eternity of saving thou.”

    • deiseach

      Oh, come on: if it’s unfair, unjust and unreasonable for believers to claim that people became atheists just because they wanted to throw off the shackles of morality and behave in a decadent, self-indulgent manner, then it’s just as unfair, unjust and unreasonable for you to say that Leah wanted to “fall under a spell”, particularly given the way she has addressed issues on this blog.

      That is, she did not present herself as seeking for an emotional or ‘spiritual not religious’ encounter, but rather used reason and ‘does this satisfy the standards of philosophy?’ to examine claims. She wasn’t telling us “I want to be happy!” but “I want something that will stand up as truthful to examination”.

  • As one Atheist-to-Catholic convert (I’m actually a revert), congratulations, Leah! Don’t worry about your struggles accepting some teachings, I faced a lot of that when I came back to the Church. God bless you, and I’ll be praying for you!

    • AnalogousGumdropDecoder

      “Don’t worry about your struggles accepting some teachings…”

      RED FLAG!

      • Yeah, if only someone had told me about that red flag when I was struggling with believing in the theory of Evolution. Instead, I judged (based on all my best experience) that the thing had the ring of truth and didn’t worry about my struggles accepting some of its more complex and difficult doctrines. Who knows, if I had received timely warning, I might still be a Special Creationist.

    • Pareidolius

      Yeah! Just pick out the ones that you like and forget the all the hatey, slavey, feary stuff. The Catholic church is all flexible and stuff and really doesn’t care, just as long as you put money in the plate! Your version of Jesus/God says everything about you and nothing about Jesus/God.

    • AD

      I would, instead, encourage you to simply never stop seeking out truth; if there are some Catholic teachings that you disagree with, then check out some Protestant churches/beliefs. Don’t just settle! I think you’ll quickly find that many Catholic practices are built on tradition and can seem impersonal–that is why I switched.

  • pat floegel

    Very happy for you…..enjoy the journey!!
    Martyrs Song by Todd Agnew expresses God’s joy when you go to Heaven, however, it can be aptly applied to a conversion as well.

  • Leah!! I don’t know what else to say, really…”congratulations” or “welcome home” seem too trite, since what you’re really embarking on is a difficult journey that will doubtless bring you heartache from atheists and Catholics alike. But joy, too, I hope. In any case, I kind of want to hug you right now, even though that would be extremely weird for both of us. I’m so happy to have someone of your intellectual integrity make this kind of public transition. I can’t wait to see what you write about now.

  • GP

    Thanks for sharing your truth and honesty. You have begun your faith journey well and I, along with many, will keep you in faith and prayers with much love, respect and admiration. The Catholic Faith with all its human imperfections will forever be the greatest faith there is because of the awesome and beauty mystery of God’s love, grace and mercy for us all. We may not all agree to what it teaches but the power of the Holy Spirit fills us with the wisdom and awe we need to be who we are, and as faithful as can be.

    Many blessings of peace, love and joy as you continue in your faith journey.

    • Keith Collyer

      funny, that’s what all the other faiths say.

      • Ted Seeber

        Trouble is, none of the other faiths live up to it, including atheism, which seems to have a *specific intolerance* for certain forms of evidence.

        • Keith Collyer

          atheism is not a faith and anyone who thinks it is is seriously deluded. The “certain forms of evidence” that atheism has an intolerance for are those that are, well, not evidence. And why should atheism have to “live up to” anything? it isn’t a faith, it isn’t even a system of beliefs (except in the simplistic case of a single belief). . I am sure that there are people who are atheist because they haven’t looked for evidence, but they are probably far outweighed by those who have, and found it non-existent or full of “true” statements that contradict other “true” statements. Face it, the only evidence for god is that other people have told you there is a god. If you claim to have personal experience and god has talked to you, be grateful that god did not tell you to kill people, or you would be treated as insane. Why is it that people who claim god told them to do good things are wonderful people, yet those whom god told to do bad things are mad? Why do people for whom good things happen (like passing exams) praise god, rather than their own efforts and those of their teachers, when those to whom bad things happen do not blame god? belief in god is simply untenable in the face of thinking

          • Ted Seeber

            “atheism is not a faith and anyone who thinks it is is seriously deluded”

            If atheism isn’t a faith, then atheists should stop evangelizing.

            “The “certain forms of evidence” that atheism has an intolerance for are those that are, well, not evidence. ”

            There is nothing that is experienced by man that is not evidence.

            “And why should atheism have to “live up to” anything? it isn’t a faith, it isn’t even a system of beliefs (except in the simplistic case of a single belief).”
            A single belief is still a faith. And I say again, if atheism isn’t a faith, stop evangelizing.

          • Bryan

            “belief in god is simply untenable in the face of thinking”

            C.S. Lewis held this very same view until he actually thought about it. The very idea that there is a “good” and “bad”, in and of itself, proves the existence of an all-good Being. While there are disagreements on the details of where the line between good and evil exists, the idea that there is such things is fairly universal, even if they aren’t called by those names. How a person attains virtuousness or moral standing or righteousness or goodness or rightness follows a very generic static pattern of behavior, and the opposite of such behavior is generally accepted as being the opposite of virtuousness/morality/righteousness/goodness/rightness. Again, there are grey areas in between, but there is a virtual universal acceptance of the dichotomy, in general. The idea that there simply is no “good” or “bad”, that all actions are good if the actor thinks it is, regardless of the actual act, just isn’t very prominent. Anyone who claims they DO believe this is generally either lying or is a sociopath, because when you get down to it, there are certain crimes that can turn the stomach of even the most ardent universalist; brutal, serial rapes, child abuses, human dissections, torture…certain acts are simply unacceptable to society , at large. Since this is true, there MUST be a standard by which we can make the determination of “goodness” and it must exist outside of our realm of perception. I do an injustice to the logic of Mr. Lewis, so I encourage you to read “Mere Christianity” and “The Problem of Pain” if you really desire a logical and honest look at why an all-good God must exist and why suffering, likewise, HAS to exists in the face of an all-good God.

        • Jim

          Would those “certain forms of evidence” happen to be anecdotes and unverifiable subjective experience?

          Because I can guarantee you there is not a single form of “evidence” for the Catholic faith that does not exist for Hinduism, Sikhism or any number of other faiths.

          Also all those other faiths think your faith doesn’t live up to those ideals either, that’s why they’re proud hindus, sikhs, jainists and not catholics because catholicism just doesn’t offer what they’ve found following the one true faith etc

          That thing being, that it provides all the same emotional comforts and placations of existential anxiety that the other faiths provides, except it just happens to be from their immediate or proximal culture.

          • Paul

            i love how there are no responses to these 2 extremely logical comments above me.

            The only evidence for god existing is that people have told you he exists.

          • Ted Seeber

            The only evidence for anything is that people have told you it exists.

            ALL evidence that isn’t personally gathered is anecdotal. The evidence that atheism rejects is MUCH more specific- any possible evidence for God is rejected.

          • underground.apostle

            “i love how there are no responses to these 2 extremely logical comments above me.”
            -i apologize for my tardiness
            “Because I can guarantee you there is not a single form of “evidence” for the Catholic faith that does not exist for Hinduism, Sikhism or any number of other faiths”
            -you cannot guarantee there is not a single form of evidence, because i can guarantee over twenty
            “Also all those other faiths think your faith doesn’t live up to those ideals either, that’s why they’re proud hindus, sikhs, jainists and not catholics because catholicism just doesn’t offer what they’ve found following the one true faith etc”
            -in the case of hindus, they believe in a more over-arching theme complete with tenets that apply to Catholics whether or not Catholics ascribe to them, and is relatively unconcerned with whether or not they do. from the hindu perspective, i’m just a catholic hindu, and if i’m a good one i reincarnate up, if bad, down.
            you know as little about other world religions as you do about Catholicism, and have shown yourself unable to turn down your own volume enough to hear the counter to your argument. were you to act like a thinker, and listen to your fellow participants in the great discussion of mankind, you would likely go the way of most others who possess intellectual honesty, the way of the cross.
            you have never entered the ring with regards to this issue, you stand on the outside throwing rocks at those who are participating, then hiding behind false maxims. i am doing the same thing, but i already fought this fight and won my salvation. when i took the challenge i was spouting off the same tired misconceptions as you and your ilk, when i actually looked for truth beyond the walls i had built on sand, it blew me away to learn that i was wrong. you are wrong, and the things you believe are simply false.

  • Amazing post and an amazing journey. I wish you well on your faith journey.

  • Having gone down exactly the same road–nearly twenty years of calling myself an atheist, then becoming Catholic–I can tell you that you just survived the hardest part: telling the world. Who knows what’s in store for you next? May blessings fall upon you like rain.

  • Congratulations and welcome!!

  • Thrilled to hear this, Leah. Also, I’m so impressed that you’re putting intellectual honesty first, making this move despite the fact that you’ll probably take some heat from it. Can’t wait to see where your journey goes from here!

    Also, this is random, but: I also love St. Patrick’s Breastplate, and I often listen to the version that Lisa Kelly sings, which you can find on iTunes (called The Deer’s Cry). Great way to start the morning.

    You’ll continue to be in my prayers.

  • enness

    I’ve got to be honest and say, with some embarrassment, that I have not been following your blog (I have been missing out, I’m sure, and I’m going to have to go back and bring myself up to speed), but I doubt that there is a soul in this corner of the blogosphere who hasn’t at some point heard OF you; you are well-loved for your intellectual honesty. In any case, the little bit I know is enough to understand the magnitude of the news. The journey may not necessarily get easier from here but I believe it is not one you will regret taking. Welcome!

  • Niña Futura

    El camino, la verdad y la vida -Vida en abundancia- Hay fiesta en el cielo! Bienvenido!

  • 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.

    • leahlibresco

      There are variations on some moral commands across culture (those some of these are just surface details, not major disagreements: see here). But our reaction isn’t “Let a thousand flowers bloom;” we want some moral systems to triumph because others are misguided and abhorrent. To me, that suggests that there is a real, objective thing we’re groping toward, and different cultures get closer or not, but we can use the different errors to try and spark productive fights and get less wrong.

      • Something like ‘the desire for a more Moral morality implies the existence of the object of that desire?”

      • But Leah, is it not enough that we are biased by human experience, and much of human experience translates across societal barriers? Is it not enough that our desire to be healthy makes us attracted to beneficial systems? And that our empathy encourages us to seek fair systems?

        The fact that we feel these things doesn’t necessarily mean those feelings were instilled in us by a higher being. It could be entirely incidental. Admitting such wouldn’t necessarily mean morality was without worth or that a broadly beneficial and applicable system of morality could not be found.

      • Jim

        How does preference suddenly equal objectivity?

        Do you think food in a modern 5 star restaurant tastes as bad as food from 2000 years ago? Does the fact food is getting better in taste mean there is some objective “perfect” flavour? Or substitute music or any other human subjective experience.

        No, people have generally similar preferences because they have generally similar genetics and generally similar societal programming. People are capable of honing many subjective experiences. Our musical preferences are far more developed than they were in the past. Food is much more complex and tasty. Our story telling is far more complex and varied. There are far more genres now than there were even 200 years ago. Is there a perfect, objective story that all authors are trying to tell just because stories are more developed than they were 6,000 years ago?

        For hundreds of thousands of years it was totally acceptable to murder and eat babies. Or at least it was ridiculously commonplace by modern standards. Go look up the wikipedia for infanticide and then the sources for the archaeological evidence for this. Do you think its more likely that A) for no apparent reasons humans all over the world got way better at sensing “true”” morality. Or that B) developments in agriculture, as well as culture such as jewelry making, stone carving and other arts that helped foster tribal association, helped make life less brutal and made it easier for humans to co-exist and share resources rather than fight and starve.

        Unfortunately as tribes got bigger they started to form larger regions that eventually coalesced into nations, and our evolutionary instinct to brutalize enemy tribes if they are either perceived as threats or hogging vital resources kicked back in hence even larger scale national genocides after the time we decided to stop murdering and eating our own children/neighbors/love rivals children for the protein.

        It’s no god or religion that has made the world a more “moral” place. It is trade and technology and science that has made life peaceful and easy enough so that we don’t have to be worried about a mongol hordes coming over the hills to rape and pillage. No one wants to get a spear through their neck when they can have a 40 inch plasma TV, central heating and cold beers in the fridge.

        Also what has any of this got to do with Catholicism? How is that some portal to the “true” objectivity, given how much less brutal modern secular societies are than the societies Jaweh was a fan of back in the olden times (The ones where he encouraged mass genocide and infanticide of enemy tribes). Also given how there are many secular philosophers that predate catholicism that came to insights that the catholic church has only recently stumbled upon (such as gay people don’t deserve to be killed). That organisations like the holy roman empire and the catholic church actually banned and burnt books of those secular philosophers as “pagan” and heretical.

        • cowalker

          Your questions are what Jesuits are for. Anything can be rationalized. (Eg. the ancient Hebrews weren’t “ready” for the higher morality of Jesus so Yaweh dumbed it down in the OT.) Jesus also introduced hell in the NT, I guess because Israel was ready for that concept too. It sounds from reading the comments that lots of folks nowadays are ready to move on past “hell,” but I’m not sure how they’re going to find an authoritative source for the next level.

        • Jason

          “It’s no god or religion that has made the world a more “moral” place. It is trade and technology and science that has made life peaceful and easy enough so that we don’t have to be worried about a mongol hordes coming over the hills to rape and pillage. No one wants to get a spear through their neck when they can have a 40 inch plasma TV, central heating and cold beers in the fridge.”
          And it’s too bad that the same trade, technology and science have enabled unprecedented exploitation and devastation of most non-human entities on this planet– and hundreds of millions of humans along the way. If you think contemporary society is any more moral than those preceding it, you need to think again. In terms of sheer scale, our modern West is the most violent and destructive civilization that has ever existed on this planet. The developments of the past centuries haven’t made us one bit more moral; they’ve only allowed us the convenience of shoving the casualties of our immorality farther out of sight and mind.
          And for the record, I’m no more moral than anybody else! 🙂 That’s part of why I’ve chosen to believe, myself.

      • Paul Moloney

        “To me, that suggests that there is a real, objective thing we’re groping toward”

        Er, no it doesn’t, because all these cultures have a salient fact in common; they’re all human cultures, formed from a single species that evolved. That all societies whose members are of a single species evolve very similar moral codes (for every good reasons; after all, a society with absolutely no code again killing would end up swiftly depleted) doesn’t strike me so bizarre an explanation that we need to conjure up God(tm) as an explanation.


      • mmortal03

        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.

  • Contrarian

    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.

    • leahlibresco

      I would ask, useful by what metric? To say that some human-constructed thing (whether math or morals) is useful kinda presupposes some goal or purpose that is human-independent that you think this constructed thing serves. In the case of math, you might say that the equations are a constructed thing that are useful as a reference to the objective natural world, but I think, when it comes to morality, the definition gets recursive really fast. What is morality useful for except being good?

      • Contrarian

        Why must the goal be human-independent?

        To avoid amphiboly, we should distinguish between the phenomenon of moral behavior (that is, human behavior which follows to some extent a set of explicitly stated preindicated rules), which is what requires explanation, and abstract moral systems, which are (like mathematics) human-created and self-contained (hence devoid of content referent to the objective world).

        So a little more precisely, in that abstract moral systems predict the phenomenon of moral behavior, they are useful in the same pragmatic sense that mathematics is useful, as a reference for describing the objective natural world.

      • Leah,

        I think someone who doesn’t find morality useful should question their own ideas of what morality is. Morality is what guides an individual to live life well and healthfully and what guides groups of two or more to live peaceably and fairly together. Morality is supremely useful. After all, what use is good if the good is not useful?

        • Kevin Edwards

          Stephen, I think you’ve found a synonym. Morality is supremely useful, relative to some criteria for usefulness, which quickly becomes recursive as Leah mentioned. In other words, Leah is finding supreme utility in Christianity.

      • Contrarian

        By the way, have you read Frans de Waal’s work? I immensely enjoyed Good Natured. It describes how aspects of morality (what I called “the phenomenon of moral behavior”) are present in other animals’ social interactions. I don’t recall that it made pretensions of the sort of evolutionary justification for moral law that you found unsatisfying.

        • leahlibresco

          I read some excerpts of his in the same college evopsych class where we read selections from Demonic Males which suggested to me that horrendously immoral behaviors were evolutionarily stable strategies.

          • Contrarian

            I don’t know how much I broadly trust the field of evopsych — how many results are mere just-so stories? But yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if some horrendously immoral behaviors are evolutionarily stable: predation seems one. Anyway, since you mentioned evolution and morality, I thought you might find de Waal’s book interesting.

      • guest

        “To say that some human-constructed thing (whether math or morals) is useful kinda presupposes some goal or purpose that is human-independent that you think this constructed thing serves”
        no it doesn’t. It could work just like evolution, things happen and turn out to be useful, not the other way round. We invented tons of things that turned out to be very much not useful. And morality changes over time, (people used to believe that the bible supports superior races and slavery) You don’t have to assume an underlying purpose. That argument sounds like one of those creationist arguments to me.. you should know better, shouldn’t you?
        “What is morality useful for except being good?”
        But isn’t the good/bad category dependent on the culture (to a certain degree)? I thought Morals and ethics are systems to allow humans to live together. We always categorize, everything. fruit or vegetable? friend or foe (that’s why stereotypes and prejudice are so common and hard to overcome)
        My actual question would be: why catholic? and which branch of catholizism (and why not another of those 200+ sects of christianity) 1.5month is short, but if you think that’s it, good luck! (cudos, it took me over a year from first acknowledgment of my lack of faith to actually considering myself a heathen and leaving the RC church) I think I’ll keep reading, I would like to know how you integrate all the discrepancies and moral misguidings of the bible into your worldview! 🙂

        • Try 30,000+ Christian sects/denominations (World Christian Encyclopedia 2000). That’s what makes Catholicism so attractive- it’s the original.

          • Chris

            Not exactly. Where did the Old Testament come from?

    • Matt

      Actually, speaking as someone with about 80 credits of collegiate mathematics, I’m not at all convinced that Mathematics is something that people “made up,” so much as it is something we discovered conceptually and created a symbolic framework around. Naming conventions, of course, are utterly meaningless. Is two-ness somehow different if we all agreed that the word to describe the extant two-ness was potato? Of course not! The system is simply a way of concretely and universally defining and explaining something that exists in and of itself.

      • Contrarian

        Speaking as a PhD student in mathematics, I’m of the opinion that math is ultimately invented, not discovered. It’s emergent, not preexistent, in the same way that (say) a chess opening is ultimately invented, not discovered. We’ve (more or less) written down the rules and we’re in the process of discovering their implications.

        Anyway, the point is that math studies patterns that needn’t correspond to observations; it’s self contained and makes no reference to the external world. For instance, the idea of “two-ness” is a concept that we originally invented to describe behavior common to quantitative manipulations of groups of “two” objects; it’s useful for describing observations. But can you make a case that, say, the theory of hyperbolic Dehn surgery somehow corresponds to a pattern of observations?

      • Contrarian

        What’s the distinction between “invention” and “discovery,” anyway? When Watt invented his steam engine, he stumbled upon a particular configuration of the natural world. When Columbus discovered the Americas, he stumbled upon a particular configuration of the natural world. What’s the difference?

        • Trevor

          For the nth time, James Watt did NOT invent the steam engine !

          • Contrarian

            Yeah, I know. Like all inventors, he incrementally improved it. That’s immaterial to the point.

        • Alan

          The Americas were there whether Columbus found them or not – the steam engine did not exist in some sort of ideal form to be found by man when Savery first constructed one.

    • Lily

      We didn’t “make up” mathematics. Yeah, we came up with symbols to represent mathematical concepts, but math is the study of concepts found in the real world, similar to the study of science. Aside from quantity, the golden ratio, and other concepts found in the natural world, quantum physics is showing more and more that math is an integral part of reality

      • Contrarian

        I very strongly disagree. As a historical tradition, mathematics began as a study of concepts found in the natural world and is continually informed by problems that arise from attempts to describe natural phenomena, but mathematics is not, intrinsically, the study of concepts found in the real world. Mathematics is (in some imprecise sense) the “study of patterns and interrelationships.” It is divorced from empirical content beyond the foundational empirical observation that logic is a useful tool for building quantitative models.

  • Welcome home sister!! How exciting for you. Be assured of continued prayers 🙂

  • Anna

    Welcome home! It won’t be easy, from either the atheist side or the Catholic side, I’m sure – plus, just as you’ve discovered that Truth is a Person, well… so is evil and he won’t be too thrilled with this decision. Be ready for attack, but know that that battle isn’t equal – it’s been won and in your favor. Looking forward to reading your posts on your journey!

  • Andrew

    I’m really impressed with this post. It’s honest and respectful. St Bernard said that the three most important Christian virtues are, in this order: humility…humility… and humility. This post tells me you’re living this much better than most of us.


  • Hi Leah,
    I am not an atheist for the reasons you list above. I believe in objective morality and can’t square that with atheism. I am also, however, an ex-Catholic. I look forward to reading your future posts, because I really want to know how and why you went from “I think there is a God because of moral philosophy” to Catholicism, and not a general deism or some other faith or denomination. I wish you happiness in your journey.

    • David

      “I believe in objective morality and can’t square that with atheism.”

      That’s easy enough to square. You just need to remember not to presuppose an objective morality that would remain valid in the absence of the kind of entities (like humans) that are capable of happiness or suffering. An objective morality is logically possible (without making the claim that we have yet worked it all out) only because humans (and other sentient creatures) exist, and there are facts that are objectively true about the kinds of behaviours that cause those creatures to suffer, or to flourish. If there were no conscious beings in the universe, there would be no morality, though there would still be, say, the laws of physics and mathematics, even if no one was around to discover them.

      Objective morality does not need to presuppose gods, it only needs to presuppose humans (or equivalent beings).

      • Contrarian

        That’s not objective. You’re shoving your leap of the is-ought divide into the requirement that morality must make conscious beings capable of happiness and suffering flourish instead of suffer.

        • Um…Huh?

          What on earth is “objective morality?” Sounds like a bunch of psychobabble. Mexican-flavored Chinese food anyone? How about some concealed democratic communism?

  • Paul O.

    Really loudly,
    “Awake, my soul …”

  • anodognosic

    Being argumentative and bitter is precisely the wrong reaction here. I mean, the “our team, their team” thing is ultimately bullshit, and in the end, personal quests for meaning trump all that pettiness. So while it’s hard to take this as happy news exactly, it’s hard not to respect the magnitude of such a change and the real thought and risk that went into it. So good on you, Leah. Good on you.

    • Contrarian


    • leahlibresco

      Anodognosic, I really appreciate this.

    • David

      “personal quests for meaning trump all that pettiness.”

      I don’t know, I think personal quests to find out what’s actually true about reality are more important than personal quests for meaning. If your quest for meaning leads you to believe things that are false, then that is only going to be not-a-problem as long as those false beliefs don’t come into an ugly collision with reality (for example, if you are a Christian Scientist, and your quest for meaning leads you to believe that God will heal you of disease if you pray hard enough, but that using medicine is unethical, and your child gets ill with a fatal-if-not-treated but otherwise curable disease, then your quest for meaning has crashed into reality in a tragic and entirely preventable fasion.)

      So, yes, one shouldn’t be needlessly confrontational, but neither should one shy away from debate, or shirk one’s duty to understand reality as accurately as possible.

      • Jeremy

        So, yes, one shouldn’t be needlessly confrontational, but neither should one shy away from debate, or shirk one’s duty to understand reality as accurately as possible.

        On atheism where exactly does this duty derive from? Ultimately the universe doesn’t care whether you strive to understand reality or not.

        If your reasoning faculties are the result of mere chance + time, and not order, how can they be relied on?

        • Tom

          Jeremy, I was waiting for someone to ask that question. +1

          Leah, I admire your courage and relentless discerning nature. I’ve become less and less like you the older I get as I can no longer even stand to have arguments/debates about trivial things like sports, because few people ever come to the table looking to learn Truth (about anything). I am an inherently skeptical person but also a practicing Catholic because I was raised Catholic and (literally) everyone living and passed that taught me / raised me from the Catholic mold understood truth. These “examples” seem vindicated almost daily as I go about my life and this happens despite a large variance in political leaning. Had I bad/difficult experiences I might not still be Catholic. I have had moments in my life where I have felt the presence of God (rare and fleeting) but where I can vividly remember thinking “this was not of me”. I have atheist friends but I have never felt them to be true to their stated characterization and often insufferable (maybe I hold them to a different standard). I embrace logic, reason, and the scientific method and the idea that Atheists have a monopoly on those tools infuriates me (as equally as when theists play God). One author I would recommend getting acquainted with is JRR Tolkien. He was very influential in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity (although Tolkien was Catholic). Specifically, I find his work ‘The Music of the Ainur” to be a powerful cosmology metaphor. Also, in reading his biography by Humphrey Carpenter there was one resonating theme (for me) in Tolkien’s ethos: that in myth and legend Truth is reflected and observable. I believe this wholeheartedly, so while I believe many biblical stories are myth (Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale) they reflect a real Truth. Also, I believe you would love the book “How the Irish Saved Civilization”.

          I am inspired by you, Leah. I encourage you to discern from your supporters and detractors whether they seek to learn/share or push agendas/scold. Try to filter out the second group (easily identifiable by their lack of humility).

        • Personally I think the duty to understand reality as accurately as possible comes from the understanding that a) reality is important and b) engaging with reality allows us to make the world a better place. Personal quests for meaning, while important, don’t get to trump reality. We live in a world where these ‘personal quests’ have wide-reaching effects, and don’t happen in a vacuum.

          Jeremy: “If your reasoning faculties are the result of mere chance + time, and not order, how can they be relied on?”

          My reasoning faculties can be relied upon precisely BECAUSE they are the result of evolution (which is not mere chance – that’s a common misconception) and time. If they couldn’t be relied upon and were not useful, then I wouldn’t have them.

          If I can flip the questions for a second, how can you rely on YOUR reasoning faculties if you believe they were dropped into your head randomly by a dude in the sky? How can you be sure He didn’t make your reasoning very flawed, just because He could (the will of God being so mysterious, and all)?

  • Hi Leah: I had much the same journey you did, except on a lower intellectual plane :-). The Church is big and contentious and full of rotten people — just like anywhere else. But in my experience, it is what we strive for that makes the difference, not what we are. The Church has the Truth, but it doesn’t make us particularly good at doing anything about it. So don’t expect a perfect Church, and don’t expect everyone to agree, and don’t expect that you will never be exasperated by people who “just don’t get it” — just expect that you will find, when you look for them, an amazing number of people working at holiness. Because this is Christ’s Church. Welcome home!

  • Laurel

    Way cool! I look forward to reading about your journey!

  • Leah,

    First – welcome home!

    Second, given your background with philosophy, I would encourage you to read John Paul II’s Love and Responsiblity with regards to questions on sexual morality. He writes beautifully and discusses many philisophical concepts in this area. While there are others who work to interpret Pope John Paul II’s works on this topic, I think you should go straight to the source. It is very deep, and given all of his philosopical terms used, is difficult for some to digest. But, I suspect you could handle it quite well. From there, you can look at how others have interpreted it, but read JPII before any others.

  • Ron

    Welcome home sister!!! I came into the Catholic Church last year…wish I had done it years before. I pray one day we can meet. God bless you richly!!

  • Leah, congratulations for your courage! Truth-seeking is never an easy job, but it’s always worthwhile. Know that you have a family to support and pray for you during this time of transition…on earth, in purgatory and in Heaven. (Weird, right?) 🙂

    Have you read anything by the philosopher Edith Stein? You may enjoy her…she’s now a saint by the name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Jew turned atheist turned Catholic turned nun).

  • Welcome home fellow geek and best wishes as you continue on your journey!

  • Dear Leah, I’m new to your blog. Thanks for sharing this experience. It rings true to me, by which I mean, yes, I too feel that there’s something personal about ethics.

    But the reason someone pointed me to your blog was because you mentioned MacIntyre. So, I have to ask, what your comment about MacIntyre above meant and why do you think there is something wrong with MacIntyre.

    • leahlibresco

      Oh, I wasn’t saying there was something wrong with MacIntyre. It’s just frustrating to be an atheist trying to work on virtue ethics, and pointing to MacIntyre as another atheist who thought virtue ethics were the way to go only to have your friends point out: “You know he converted to Catholicism, yeah?”

      • Nolan

        I believe Massimo Pigliucci is an atheist virtue ethicist. Just sayin.

  • Your post left me sitting here in tears. So very glad and grateful for your journey. I pray the same for my own children. Thank you for the post.

  • Carrie

    Congratulations and welcome home!

  • SDG

    “‘Give me a second and let me decide if I believe it.’ It turns out I did.”

    Well said.

    I can hear rolling atheist eyeballs out there (and saddle up, cuz they’ll probably be here sooner or later loaded for bear), but the reality is, not only is this an realistic and perceptive description of how both believing and unbelieving worldviews find us, but it’s entirely reasonable — if Christianity is true — for us to find that belief is simply a fact about us, and that by means of it we have access to religious truth. Faith is a form of knowledge by experience.

    Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga in his series on belief and warrant has extensively developed the philosophical basis for faith as a means of knowing God. His thesis is that mankind’s religious and moral sensibilities are faculties that provide meaningful cognitive access to truths about the divine; that through an innate sense of the divine as well as through grace and the aid of the Holy Spirit we are able to form beliefs about God that are both true and warranted, apart from the question of apologetical arguments from, e.g., the existence or character of the universe, etc.

    There was a time in my life when my attempts to wrestle through apologetical arguments this way and that left me, for awhile, at a loss. Yet in the end when I stared down into the abyss of a universe without God, I found that God was, and is, still there. He just is. I still love apologetics, particularly cosmological arguments about the universe’s origins and ordering. But I appreciate more fully now that God is not a conclusion I’ve reasoned to. He has made himself known to me. That’s the bottom line.

    • CBrachyrhynchos

      Where you see an abyss, I see an infinity of beauty that can’t be meaningfully named.

      • SDG

        CBrachyrhynchos: I get this, I do, but a) the infinite beauty of the universe doesn’t help me sort out the meaningfulness of my moral ideas about life, genocide, duty, kindness, betrayal and so forth; and b) beauty itself, like morality, poses additional problems that, for me, run straight to God as well.

        • CBrachyrhynchos

          If it works for you, blessed be. It’s not something I can share because I’m called in a different direction.

          • SDG

            CBrachyrhynchos: Perhaps. We are all works in progress. Perhaps when we arrive at our destinations, we will know where and how we have been led, and how well we have or haven’t responded.

    • Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)

      SDG: No faith is not a form of knowledge by experience. Faith is a form of belief when you have no knowledge, no experience. For example, I believe that gravity exists because when I let go of something, it drops, when I bounce on a trampoline I come back down. Those are experiences which lead me to believe that gravity exists, but what, other than your faith, tells you that God exists? Nothing, because you don’t really have any experience with God. Certainly not in the way you have experiences with gravity. At best you have this rather undefinable feeling that tells you that God exists.

      Now if you’re going to claim that you have witnessed a miracle – why did you classify that event as a miracle? Mostly because you didn’t know how it happened so you just assigned it to the class known as “miracle”, but just because you don’t know how something happens doesn’t mean it’s super natural – think of all the physical process that we know how they happen but in previous generations they were considered to be miracles. So you define this unknown act as miracle because of your faith, but you have faith because of this miracle. Do you see the circularity in that?

      If faith were truly a form of knowledge by experience, then you should be able to say what experiences would be counter evidence to your faith. If, like most staunch Christians, your answer to that is “Nothing”, that, too, should be a big red flag that your faith is not “a form of knowledge by experience”.

      • SDG

        Cory Albrecht: How do you know my belief in God isn’t grounded in direct apprehension via cognitive faculties functionally properly in a congenial epistemic environment according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true belief?

        What experiences would be counter evidence to my faith? Well, my specifically Catholic faith would be challenged in a number of ways. For example, if the Catholic Church ceased to exist — if e.g. every bishop in the world were successfully assassinated, so that apostolic succession could not continue, yet the Second Coming and Last Judgment did not imminently ensue — that would seem to constitute a formidable defeater to Catholic faith.

        Likewise, if it could be shown historically that, for example, Jesus of Nazareth never lived, or that he was not in fact raised from the dead, then that would obviously be a formidable defeater for Christian faith.

        • Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)

          Cut all the big obfuscatory words – can you show that you are actually perceiving God in the same way that you can show that you are seeing or hearing something?

          Next, how is the Catholic Church ceasing to exist through assassination evidence that God does or does not exist? That massive assassination would only be “evidence” if you accept the presupposition that the Second Coming would definitely happen in that situation. Whether it would or not is a product of your faith, not because you have any evidence that it will. Also, it would be very easily to rationalize it away by saying the Catholic Church was not really the True Church with apostolic succession. Voilà, problem solved, it’s no longer counter-evidence and you can continue to erroneously think your faith is based in experience. Now whether or not you, personally, would rationalize like that, I do not know, but I am sure you have seen any number of end-times Christians who go and rationalize like that and understand the point I make.

          As for the historicity of Jesus, outside the Bible, what evidence do you have the Jesus actually existed?

          • SDG

            Cory Albrecht: The words are big, but they aren’t obfuscatory, though I admit I semi-facetiously employed them as if they were. They are useful and appropriate philosophical jargon taken verbatim from the source I cited in my original comment, Plantinga’s series on belief and warrant, which I recommend for a fuller discussion than I can provide here.

            You ask whether I can show that I’m perceiving God. I never claimed to be able to show it to anyone but myself. You seem to be presuming that unless I can show you my perception in a way that’s convincing to you, I can’t rely on it myself. I can’t see the epistomological basis for this presumption. There are many things that I can perceive directly that I may not be able to show to you. For example, whether or not I am thinking of the color yellow right now, or whether I love my wife, or even whether I exist as a subjective self at all.

            Likewise, I’m not sure how you can show me, or even yourself, that any of your sensory experiences offer you any veridical knowledge of non-subjective reality, i.e., that you are not in an epistomologically perverse situation, like a brain in a vat, or Neo in the Matrix. I agree that you are warranted in believing your sense experience to offer veridical knowledge of non-subjective reality, but I don’t see how you could demonstrate that to anyone.

            The historical case for Jesus’ life and work is formidable. The historical record regarding the existence, spread and shape of early Christian belief and praxis, and its impact on the surrounding history and culture, don’t readily admit alternate historical explanations. N. T. Wright has developed this argument at length in his ongoing series Christian Origins and the Question of God.

          • SDG

            P.S. “Next, how is the Catholic Church ceasing to exist through assassination evidence that God does or does not exist?” It isn’t. That’s why I said specifically Catholic faith.

          • BrA

            Cory Albrecht (@Bytor),
            Part of the problem here is that there is a misunderstanding of the kind of knowledge given by faith. In traditional Christian and medieval thought, knowledge is brought about in part by means of a light that illumines the object known. In the case of our senses, the light is physical provided by Sun, fire, or other photon emitting objects. In the case of the intellectual understanding of the world, the objects of understanding, consisting of formal natures, are understood by being grasped under the light of natural reason. Thirdly, the intellect grasps the object of faith in as close to an essential way as it can, by means of a third kind of light, that is the light of faith. The believer in fact has a true experience of God by means of the light of faith that is not mere sentimentality (as I am sure Leah can confirm). But we also cannot explain the experience to one who does not have, or does not use, the light of faith. What we can do, as Thomas Aquinas points out, is show that what we believe is at least not contrary to natural reason, even if it is beyond natural reason.

            As to the need to provide a way to falsify the proposition, that is a standard for knowledge proposed by Karl Popper, and I will not accept that standard unless you are willing to argue why falsifiability is a prerequisite for knowledge. Personally, I am an Aristotelian, and hold that knowledge is a grasp of the underlying distinction that gives form to anything. I have knowledge when the concept in my mind corresponds to the reality I see. In the case of the object of faith, God as He is in Himself, I cannot show you how the concept in my mind corresponds to the reality because you do not have the light by which you yourself can grasp it. But I can argue by natural reason how your objections are either false or at the very least, not logically necessary.

            Lastly, as to whether there is evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible, I can give you a quick reference to a Jewish source. Josephus in his book, “Antiquities”, book 20, chapter 9 you will find at least one reference.

      • Ted Seeber

        Ah, but I’d point out that *Catholic* objective morality, thanks to the councilor method of peer review, is based on the laws of mathematics and physics, and is *discovered* as opposed to “legislated”. That is to say, Canon Law bears a lot more resemblance to, say, the law of gravity than it does to the American Constitution (yes, I know a few conservatives who would disagree, but the Constitution was legislated by free masons and deists, not discovered and debated over a thousand years).

        I wouldn’t be Catholic still if I didn’t experience God directly. I wouldn’t be Catholic if Catholicism were not based on faith built up by rational experiences.

        Of course, my definition of rational is different than yours- for instance, I’m perfectly willing to believe in a statue that comes to life for only one person in the room and talks to them- I’m not willing to reject such an experience as irrational merely because it is subjective.

  • Tiff

    Welcome home Leah! =) As a member of the Tiber Swim Team (’05), I’m still learning the Church’s teachings and have a hunch I’ll be continuing to learn them until the day I die. =)

  • math_geek

    To borrow from you and Lewis Carroll for a bit…

    “Oh Frabjous Day Callooh Callay!”

    It’s not an easy path, but I think it’s worth it.

    • leahlibresco

      The best way to respond to good news. (or, in this case, Good News).

  • You seem so sweet and real. I hope you continue to seek the Lord. And I hope you will become a diligent student of Scripture. Ask the Lord for understanding and read for your life. God bless you!
    (2Timothy 3:16ff) 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
    17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
    2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
    2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.
    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
    4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

  • May God bless you and continue to guide you and perhaps most importantly may he protect you from the convert burnout that often comes to known converts on the Web. Sometimes we make celebs of one another and the expectations can be crushing, as crushing as anything that comes from those of our former persuasion. From a fellow convert and (two decade Protestant minister) I wish you the very best on your continued journey ‘home.’

  • agh

    This is what happens when atheists become manically obsessed with finding “objective” morality. At least you didn’t decide to join the Ayn Rand cult instead…

    • leahlibresco

      I told one of my pomo friends, “Well, you were right. Truth was a gateway drug.” And he replied, only partly in jest: “I told you so.”

      • MaxDWolf


        I saw this term somewhere for the first time about a week ago and have seen it 2 or 3 times since. Are you referring to “postmodern/afro/homo” or something else?

        • leahlibresco

          Sorry to get jargon-y! Yes, pomo means postmodernist.

    • doguhnew

      How can the Ayn Rand “cult” be a cult? It’s kinda hard to have a cult when you don’t believe in collective behavior. You obviously know nothing of individualism. Perhaps god can help you find a dictionary.

    • Here’s a checklist:
      See how your own movement stands up, while you’re at it.

  • Dan

    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?

    • SDG


      “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?”

      Not so. “God of the gaps” arguments take the form “We can’t currently understand how phenomenon X could have happened on its own therefore God must have done it!” The moral argument is completely different: Moral insights necessarily require a transcendent basis. Further scientific discoveries cannot possibly provide a valid basis for moral insights. It’s a qualitatively different argument.

      “How do you deal with the Euthyphro Dilemma?”

      Like this.

      • yeah, I made essentially the same argument in my philosophy 101 course and the TA gave me a C-. Only less than A grade I ever got in the Philosophy department through 54 credits. Monotheism doesn’t have the same problem that a polytheistic universe does in regards to the question ‘is it good because the gods command it or do the gods command it because it’s good’. That question only matters if you have gods that disagree with each other.

      • James

        That argument fails the dilemma. You still can’t say that he embodies goodness without defining by what standard he embodies it. Saying Yahweh is born with it doesn’t get you anywhere, because you still have to say how he got it, from whence it came. To say he is “just good” is no better than saying Stalin is “just good.”

    • 2. Why Catholicism and not some kind of virtue ethic deism?

      I feel so incredibly rude and obnoxious, but THIS. Why not Unitarian Universalism? Why not the United Church of Christ? Why not Reformed Judaism? Why not Baha’i?

      • SDG

        Elizabeth (and Dan): Why Catholicism in particular among the theistic and deistic options? It’s an entirely valid question, but presumably you noticed Leah’s comment:

        “This post isn’t the final word on my conversion. I’m sure there’s a lot more explaining and arguing to do, so be a little charitable in your read of this post and try to give me a little time to expand my ideas over the next few weeks.”

        Presumably the question you ask is one Leah will be getting to in future posts.

        I don’t know Leah from Eve, and I’ve only read her blog a few times, but I’m guessing that her earlier investigations of Catholicism, her time in RCIA classes, etc. have informed her thoughts about the relative plausibilities of different religious accounts of God out there. (It’s not a hard question to answer, FWIW. At least, I wouldn’t find it so!)

        • Edgar

          The thing is once you have made a choice, you tend to stick to it for fear of being foolish. So in a way your mind is no longer open, and you will think thoughts to rationalize your choice, and sidestep, or even avoid, anything that doesn’t fit the mould.

    • leahlibresco

      Ok, all of these are longer questions than I’m doing in a first pass, but I’ll obviously be writing more on these topics over the next few weeks, so poke at me more specifically when those posts go up. For right now, all I’m really giving you are precis/topic sentences. So…

      3. Not super coherent, I’ll admit, but I’m thinking of God and Morality as the same thing, so the paradox kind of collapses a little on itself. I don’t think what the ‘Good’ is is arbitrary, and I also don’t think a triple-omni God has the power to not love and be Goodness. That’s what knowledge will do to you.

      2. Catholicism isn’t really the religion of my immediate culture, at least for most of my life. The very short answer as to why not Deism is that it seems too hands off for the way Goodness would treat us, especially when we so badly need its help. The why Catholicism is mostly based in the fact that, while I’ve been fighting with Catholics for the last two years, they had a lot of times where they or the books they recommended exposed a major error I was making and helped me live better when I changed my philosophy or behavior on smaller scale things than this.

      1. It wouldn’t. I didn’t just name the thing I didn’t understand God. I decided that I had a sense of what kind of thing was needed as an explanation (an agent, not just a table of truth statements) and the explanation I decided on turned out to look like God.

      • Ferny

        I think the fact that you’ve chosen Catholicism largely out of your cultural milieu almost invalidates your whole project. If morality is universal and objective, your attempt to follow it should probably a bit more informed than who your friends are, right?

        The correct answer I think is Islam for your interaction with God.

        • Maiki

          Islam is much more like a truth table than an agent than Catholicism, though — which is exactly what she is not looking for.

          • Dave

            I’m incredibly proud to know a friend who has the courage of HER own convictions and the guts to have a difficult conversation about them. And doubly proud that I can use this as an excuse to talk about Islamic theology.

            Without speaking for anyone else, it seems likely that Leah doesn’t feel a calling to Islam’s message. Catholics and Muslims share a variety of practices and core theological tenets, but disagree in a bunch of ways about the relationship between Man and God, how precisely to relate reason and the Good, and oh yeah, the role of Platonic conceptions of the good (I mean, for goodness’ sake, Shia Islam alone is full of intense debate about how to relate Platonism to Islam — the odds that they’d agree exactly with Platonism through Augustine and the later Catholic Church is pretty low).

            (That being said, “Islam is much more like a truth table” isn’t really that accurate — and though I know this certainly wasn’t intended, it could be seen as an offensive statement that impugns the Qu’ran, God, or both depending on context. Truth and God is a complicated conversation in Islamic theology. For that matter, Islam has lots of sources for theological guidance, like hadith, where there are varying degrees of certainty that the account is accurate.)

          • Jon H

            This is an amazingly false statement that just goes to fortify Ferny’s problem with regards to the power of cultural influence.

        • Ted Seeber

          No, because from what I see of Islam- Islam *demands* a God not limited by human reason. Where Catholicism *demands* a God that follows his own rules. This was the major argument over Pope Benedict’s Regansburg lecture- the one that had Islamics all over the world murdering priests and nuns. Catholicism insists that God created a universe that first *makes sense* and *has rules* that even God is not (or chooses not to be) powerful enough to break.

          This is also the reason why, after an early Islamic heresy created algebra and was killed off by the Ottomans for it, the Islamic world has not been able to advance scientifically; because Allah isn’t faithful in the same way that the Catholic God is faithful.

          • Dave


            Regardless of these theological questions, violence in the name of God is never justified. But your comment just isn’t a sufficient depiction of Islam’s discussions of rationalism. The Regensburg lecture was condemned by Islamic scholars due to its inaccuracy, as well as its use of late medieval polemic to justify inaccurate interpretation of the Qu’ran. The example provided by the polemic quote is roughly analogous to claiming “oh look, the Old and New Testaments disagree — obviously Christianity is irrational”; needless to say, that’s a bad argument.

            Islam affirms that God, though all-powerful, is good, merciful, and created a world that man can understand not only through revelation and creation, but also reason applied to same. (To take it reduction ad absurdum, the study of hadith and the Qu’ran would lack purpose if reason was without value). I’m unfamiliar with any sources indicating that the Ottomans were responsible for the decline of the mu’tazilite school, and I question whether a viewpoint that lasted for over 500 years before it inspired al-Khwarazimi to create algebra could rightly be called just “early”.

            By and large, the reason the Islamic world fell behind in science was due to a failure to adapt its highly-successful medieval institutions to changing circumstances (see Timur Kuran’s _Long Divergence_) and as a result a failure to develop large companies that could do capital investments in promising technologies. (See in particular the chapter discussing Ottoman trade rules for further discussion of this point). I know it’s appealing to straw-man other faiths to make our own seem better, but that just isn’t so.

          • reda laghzaoui

            who told you that in Catholicism, God follows his own rules? mostly he does. But sometimes he shows his strength in miracles. Even the Virgin Mary does.

      • Dan

        What I meant when I said that Catholicism was the religion of your immediate culture was that it seems to be the religion of your current social group (at least from what I’ve read on your blog.)
        Why not construct your own religion wherein this Morality/God/Person/Vague Whatever is a supremely intelligent, all powerful being that loves you, but the Bible isn’t there? I mean, how does one select Catholicism over the system which you’ve already developed on your own, semi-independently of Catholic theology?

        • leahlibresco

          Well, the short answer is that’s what I was trying to do (minus god) but studying Catholic theology kept exposing problems and fixing them (again, this is before I believed)

          • Ferny

            But the question is why Catholic theology in particular? Have you compared your moral observations with non-Catholic theological systems?

            If you’re looking for absolute objective morality and your converstion is to the one that you have the closest cultural affinity with, it seems to invalidate the whole premise of conversion.

      • > I don’t think what the ‘Good’ is is arbitrary, and I also don’t think a triple-omni God has the power to not love and be Goodness. That’s what knowledge will do to you.

        I’m not seeing how this resolves the dilemma as it’s conventionally phrased. This appears to be saying that there is a pre-existent standard and God (being omniscient) knows it. As far as I can tell, the debate usually goes like:
        A: Euthyphro.
        B: Ah, but God’s nature is the Good.
        A: In virtue of what is God’s nature the Good? If it is because it confirms to Goodness, then this ideal of goodness does not require there to be a God. If it is because it is God’s nature, then any God would be good. (See for example).

        It looks like what you actually wanted to solve is the problem that the ideal of goodness had no way to communicate with humans so while there might be one, we’d have no way of knowing it. A revelation from God could solve that problem, but it doesn’t solve the dilemma.

        • SDG

          Paul Wright:

          “This appears to be saying that there is a pre-existent standard and God (being omniscient) knows it.”

          God does not know the standard. God IS the standard — eternal, necessary, absolute, perfect (i.e., possessing an infinite fullness of being that admits no privation, limitation, partiality, process or qualification of any kind).

          • You seem to take the Ockamist horn: God’s nature is good because it is God’s, and God is the standard. But this seems arbitrary: if God happened to approve of eating babies, doing so would be good.
            Douhat has strung some words together and waved his hands a bit (“ground” is always a useful one in these arguments) but has not really made a case against someone like Morriston (“Must There be a Standard of Moral Goodness Apart from God? (2001) 3 Philosophia Christi 127-138, or see the series I linked in my previous comment).

          • SDG

            Paul Wright: I think I would rather call myself a Thomist than an Ockhamist. “If God happened to approve of eating babies” is like saying “If the law of noncontradiction happened not to be true” or “If the sum of one plus one happened to be negative infinity.” It doesn’t reckon on the concept of an eternal, necessary, absolute, perfect being. The Ground of Being could no more approve of nihilistic acts than being could be nonbeing. “God is love” is as necessarily true in precisely the same way that “A = A” is necessarily true.

          • I’ve got a feeling we might be going in circles here 🙂 But assuming that God is the same in all possible words (whatever that may mean), I think I could still use Morriston’s argument. Morriston on the Platonist horn: “Even if, per impossible, God did not exist, there would still be the same standard of goodness”. Wright, on the other horn: “If, per impossible, God had different standards, by your argument they would be good”. That is, you seem to have settled on the horn where good is defined by God’s nature. While it may be true that God could not be any other way, we are still left wondering why we should take the way God is as defining what good is.

          • SDG

            Paul Wright: How to respond. Which angle to take.

            Here is one approach. I could point out that since, again, God does not “have” standards but is the standard, “If, per impossibile, God had different standards” really means “If, per impossibile, God himself were different, if his essential nature were different.”

            But to be anything other than what God actually is would necessarily be to be less than what God actually is. An infinite fullness of being that admits no privation, limitation, partiality, process or qualification of any kind can only look one way. Imagine it any other way, and you now have privation, limitation, partiality, process, qualification. Alter the Absolute, and it is no longer absolute, but relative. And a being less than what God actually is would not be the necessary standard of good and evil.

            So, no, I wouldn’t say that if God had different standards, those standards would be good. If I were to grant the thought experiment at all, I would say, “If, per impossibile, ‘God’ had different standards, then there would be no absolute morality, and no one would be obliged to follow ‘God”s standards, except ‘God’ himself, if he wanted to.”

            Taking another pass: “Per impossibile” is a dicey convention. We all use it, but it’s not always clear that we succeed in saying anything about anything. I can string together words in patterns like “If, per impossibile, truth were false,” or “If, per impossibile, A > B and A < B," or "If, per impossibile, I exist and do not exist at the same time and in the same respect," but I'm not sure these combinations of words pick out even a fanciful situation that might shed some light on the real world.

            The problem with a proposition like "If, per impossible, God had different standards" is that it starts with the notion of an entity "God" and then begins to predicate properties of him that we can imagine one way or another, as if you could start out with the notion of an entity called "triangle" and then proceed to say "If, per impossibile, a triangle had an even number of sides." That's not a triangle, and it wouldn't function the way a triangle functions.

  • Mark Shea

    Booyah! Leah, in honor of this occasion, I have found what I humble submit is the perfect Youtube clip for you. A thousand welcomes!

  • Kim Whelan

    Saw your blog this am and then Brandon’s. I love his line “Today heaven is roaring with joy. I’m sure Leah’s forebearers are cheering loudest, those great intellectual converts who have paved the way for Leah and so many others—Augustine, Newman, Lewis, Chesterton, and Edith Stein.” I couldn’t agree more. May God Bless You and Mary Keep you!

  • PJ

    This is wonderful news, Leah. Coming into the Catholic faith from typical postmodern hedonism, it took me years of prayer, reading, and reflection to even begin to wrap my head around the tougher Catholic teachings, especially on sexuality. Today, however, I am grateful that I made the effort (though I must ultimately give the real thanks to the grace of God). I recommend keeping close to your breast Augustine’s Confessions. It — he — helped me through.

    Also, attend Mass daily if possible. Seriously, this is important. The Eucharist will sustain you in moments of weakness. It took me a long time to begin daily mass and regular confession — I lost a lot of time and made many mistakes on account of my laziness.

    Buy a nice psalter and pray a few psalms a day at regular times — or follow the Hours if you have the freedom to do so. Make sure you find a solid priest and a lively parish, preferably with some enthusiastic folks your own age.

    God bless and keep you and may His light shine upon you.

    • Cous

      Seconding PJ on frequent Mass (and Communion and confession, once you’ve are received into the Church). Those are your lifelines. Never let go of them.

    • Indeed – the only way to keep to their insane rules is to listen to them every day without fail. Otherwise, you might slip.

      I think this whole thing is weird, and I smell a rat, but if this is a true conversion and you are happy, well, good for you.

    • David

      “Buy a nice psalter and pray a few psalms”

      Why do that when you could buy a nice psaltery and play a few psalms? 😛

  • Cous

    Leah, this is something else…laudetur Iesus Christus! You have been in my prayers, and will continue to be. As a cradle Catholic, I can assure you that your journey is not over, it is just beginning. There will be great challenges, but there will also be great grace, and know that you are never traveling alone. Keep up the Divine Office.
    I’m in your neck of the woods, so if you ever want to meet up in D.C. sometime, just say the word! Also, there’s a great young adult Catholic community in D.C., though I’m sure you’ve already got the hookups for that.

  • Welcome! Enjoy the ride! So glad you’ll be taking us along for it!! I love this: “I guess Morality just loves me, or something…”. Thanks for that.

  • Maiki

    Welcome Home, Leah! I don’t know if the atmosphere has changed in the last ten years (yikes!) since I moved out of DC, but I used to go to St. Stephen Martyr in Foggy Bottom when I lived there. It is my favorite church in the area. They used to celebrate Holy Day Masses in Latin, but still in Ordinary form — it was beautiful.

    I am a cradle Catholic, but definitely have some of the same struggles you do. But I love it here and can’t imagine being anywhere else, faith wise.

  • Kyle

    Wow. Congrats Leah!

  • Welcome, welcome, welcome! A trinity of welcome to you. God bless you on the most interesting journey yet to come. Catholicism offers no dull moment and as you know or will know, it is only as dull as the lukewarmness we are prone to falling into. So keep the salt slaty and the fire burning!

  • PJ

    If I could add one more thing: Remember the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Truly, Thou art a hidden God.” He avoids the proud and the self-righteous but reveals Himself to the meek and mild. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Mt 11:25). Make yourself like unto a babe, so that you may know God the Father through His Word and Spirit.

  • Jared

    Fantastic news! Seriously, this just made my day 😀

  • Martha

    Welcome to the journey home!

    Conversion is a process. I converted to Catholicism before I was convinced of the truth of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. My atheist mom finally said to me, “if you believe them on everything else, maybe you should trust them on this.” It took a few years and lots of study, and I still think differently about the subject than most Catholics, but my head and my heart did ascent to the Church’s teaching. We need people to push the pastoral theology, to ask deeper questions – your conversion is a gift to the Church, especially as it forces Her to delve more deeply into the mystery of the human person. Thank you for being willing to do this – the Body of Christ needs you.

  • Martha Grant

    Woot! One question though, and you may have answered it in another post. Why not Judaism?

    • Scott Elliot

      I’m an observant Jew and a regular reader of Leah’s. It seems to me that if Leah was lead to religion from her quest to discover a universal, objective morality, there was never a possibility that Judaism would be her end-point. Judaism makes few, if any claims to universal morality; it is a particularistic set of laws for a single nation. There are a couple moments in the Jewish tradition, such as the Noahide laws, that might suggest otherwise. But, on the whole, Judaism would not be the Truth that Leah thinks moral discussions have been grasping at. (I wish her conclusions were otherwise, but congratulations Leah!!!)

  • TSgt Ciz

    Turns out God fills an open mind and heart with the same frenzy that nature fills a vaccum.

    I made essentially the same observation while hospitialised in the military. It is our desire for a more complete understanding of right and wrong that sets us apart from all else in creation. Funny how that same thirst for knowlege of right and wrong was our path out of Eden.

  • Ray

    I’ll miss the old Leah.

    Given how overwhelming is the stream of Catholics willing to shower you with love in reward for you new-found conversion, I have little hope you’ll be tempted to return. (Not that I think atheists are above similar tactics, or even that I doubt that the love you are being showered with is genuine.) I know I should probably take Anodognosic’s advice and not be argumentative, but oh well, I can’t help myself.

    It seems like you’re seeking evidence regarding the father, son, and holy spirit only in the areas where you, and the rest of humanity are most confused, without checking for consistency with the areas where the potential confusion is the least. Experience tells us unequivocally that apparent violations of the laws of nature that can be explained by human trickery are routine, and genuine miracles are either rare or nonexistent. Likewise, supernatural and otherwise dubious claims are a dime a dozen in ancient literature of all religious affiliations. Are a few philosophical musings on the nature of morality really sufficient to take the empty tomb story at face value? Or to trust an institution that claims divine knowledge, but has repeatedly made historical and scientific claims that left them with egg on their faces? And then there’s this:

    “I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person”

    Have you considered the possibility that the person in whom you see the moral law is YOU? Would someone with access to the same moral law as you burn heretics, persecute homosexuals, ban books, and discourage the use of condoms in AIDS-stricken Africa?

    • “Would someone with access to the same moral law as you burn heretics, persecute homosexuals, ban books, and discourage the use of condoms in AIDS-stricken Africa?”

      You’re confusing the objective moral law with the failings of its adherents. Please don’t judge the truth of morality based on those who fail to live up to it. A moral code is difficult to adhere to by necessity, because doing the right thing is rarely easy or effortless (if it were, we’d have utopia).

      You also lack knowledge of proper historical context in re: burning heretics and banning books. You have ignorance of Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality (persecuting homosexuals is a sin, see para. 2358 of the Catechism), and you don’t seem to realize that condoms have done very little to help those in AIDS-stricken Africa, so opposing their use is not analogous to “OMG WE WANT AFRICANS TO DIE!”

      • Word.

      • TychaBrahe

        If Catholics believe that the Pope is the heir to the thrown of St. Peter, and the Vicar of Christ, divinely chosen to lead the Church, then the Pope’s edicts must have the force of moral law, mustn’t they? To drive a wedge between the Pope’s statements about moral teachings and moral law seems to me to violate the concept of who the Pope is and what the Pope represents. Granted, the Pope hasn’t spoken ex cathedra since declaring the Virgin Birth to be dogma, but surely when he says that using condoms is anathema, he is speaking on behalf of the Church, and presumably of God.

        In fact, if you look at studies, you will find that most Catholics do not follow the Pope’s pronouncements on matters of ethics and morality. Most Catholics engage in premarital sex, use contraception, and are accepting of gays if not gay marriage.

        • Ted Seeber

          “If Catholics believe that the Pope is the heir to the thrown of St. Peter, and the Vicar of Christ, divinely chosen to lead the Church, then the Pope’s edicts must have the force of moral law, mustn’t they?”

          Yes and no- and this gets EXTREMELY complex. I’ll just throw out this bone: The Doctrine of Infallibility, discovered to be true in 1874 (!), is more about when the Pope is Wrong than about when the Pope is Right. The ultimate force of moral law in Catholicism is *always* the collective experience of trying to live out the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostles, as shown in the minor Catholic/Materialist/Objective trinity of Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture and Holy Science.

          What the Pope has for breakfast has no bearing on moral law. What the pope does as a private individual has no bearing on moral law. It is ONLY in keeping with that philosophical base provided by Tradition, Scripture, and Science that the Pope is infallible.

    • Sarah

      As a Catholic, I would love her just as much if she chose never to convert. But because of my faith, I believe she has found the fullness of truth. Shouldn’t that put us Catholics over the moon for anyone who converts?! We’ll be (hopefully) waiting for you, Ray.

    • deiseach

      Ah, Joanna, how you bring me back to the happy days of my first heretic-burning. Why, the sizzling of the sausages as we roasted them in the embers to the background of agonised screams, the smell of the acclerant, the carnival atmosphere as all our friends and neighbours gathered for the merry occasion – it was the best thing I saw that year I turned nine!

      The book-burning, homosexual-persecuting and AIDS-killing had to wait until after my Confirmation at the age of twelve.

      • Ray

        My point exactly. You do not follow the moral law of Torquemada, even though you call it by the same name. There are as many moral laws as there are people to follow them. You think you are following the way the truth and the light, but the only person you are following unconditionally is yourself.

        • Ted Seeber

          Torquemada didn’t follow the moral law of Torquemada. That’s why he was excommunicated.

  • Paul Moloney

    “I’m still confused about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality”.
    I’m not sure what’s confusing about it. The Catholic Church’s teaching on it is perfectly simply; any expression of homosexuality is intrinsically evil. You do not appear the type who’d be confused by this, so I have to assume even now you find this belief uncomfortable.


    • nice try but not quite – the teaching is quite postive – sexual acts belong within the institution of marriage ordained by God and revealed by nature to be the lifetime union of a male and female. Everything else is verboten.

      • Paul Moloney

        “the teaching is quite postive ”

        The idea this is positive to anyone born gay (or indeed, to the family and friends of gay people) is, of course, daft, condemning them to lives of shame, celibacy, lovelessness and fear. It’s the same spin that would claim that at least cancer has weight loss benefits.


        • “condemning them to lives of shame, celibacy, lovelessness and fear.”

          It’s telling that you see these four words as synonyms.

          • David

            Does he? It reads to me like they are four different bad things that follow from being gay and accepting the church’s position on being gay.

            But if, as I suspect you may be doing, you are trying to claim that celibacy is nothing to be ashamed of (since it seems to be a major part of being a priest), then I just note that it is only okay if you volunteer for it; if you want to enjoy an active sex life, but can’t, because of shame and fear, then that’s very clearly a bad thing, distinct from the shame and fear themselves.

          • Paul Moloney

            It’s telling you _think_ I think those are synonyms.

            (Sorry, would have replied sooner but the blog has a weird “don’t post too often” function.)


        • Garth

          I am a Catholic who has always been attracted to men. I am committed to celibacy.

          And my life is most assuredly not one of shame, lovelessness, or fear. Why on earth would you think it would be? If anything, I am far more loved and loving than I ever was before coming fully into the Church. I am happier and more fulfilled. I am a better person.

          I do emphatically find the Church’s position to be positive and life-giving. I guess that makes me ‘daft’ in your view?

          I am reporting my experience. I am not telling you that anyone in my position would experience the same, because I don’t know all those people. Why do you feel entitled to make generalizations about my life that just aren’t true?

          • Garth said it better than I possibly could have.

          • Paul Moloney

            “I am a Catholic who has always been attracted to men. I am committed to celibacy.”
            Why do you think God made you attracted to the same sex while most are attracted to the opposite sex? What happens if you fall in romatic love; do you simply deny those feelings?


        • Ted Seeber

          “The idea this is positive to anyone born ”

          The trick to finding it as a positive, is to stop there. Gay people are no different than heterosexuals in the regard of finding the gift of life to be good.

    • leahlibresco

      Understanding what is not the same as understanding why. And ‘any expression’ is, to the best of my knowledge, overstating it. Forbidding romantic and/or sexual same-sex relationships is not forbidding certain queer aesthetics or traditions (cf Wilde)

      • Paul Moloney

        Let’s not split hairs; if replacing it with “any romantic expression” makes you feel better, go ahead.

        So this means you’ve decided to adhere to a belief whose purpose you don’t understand? That I find odd, to be honest, expecially when this belief has real-world effects for many other people. But then, I just can’t get my head around the idea of converting directly from atheism to Catholicism (that is, converting to a very definitive and specific set of religious rules and beliefs). Going from atheism to a vague deism, I do get…

        At the end of the day, whatever the outcome, hope it means you stay a good person. My wife is a Catholic, but her inate decency means she simply disregards her church’s rules on homosexuality and was bridesmaid at her childhood friend’s gay partnership. But of course, in the eyes of many Catholics that means she isn’t a “true” one. Has never bothered her, frankly.


        • Paul,

          Your personal issues need to be resolved elsewhere with a therapist, not to rain on someone’s parade.

          • Paul Moloney

            “Your personal issues need to be resolved elsewhere with a therapist, not to rain on someone’s parade.”

            When you asked yourself “what would Jesus do?”, was that really your answer?


          • WWJD?

            He turned over the money-changers tables for blaspheming His Father’s House.

            You really need to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and not Bill Maher’s version of Christianity.

            And yes, that really is my answer. Do your research or stop being obtuse you tool.

        • Not that this will make you feel any better, but, in response to your question:

          “So this means you’ve decided to adhere to a belief whose purpose you don’t understand?”

          St. Augustine would answer with a resounding “YES!” :

          “Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.”

      • Anna

        I highly recommend the Theology of the Body Institute’s classes. Intellectually solid, but like a retreat too since there’s adoration, daily Mass, all kinds of good stuff.

    • Kristen inDallas

      While that isn’t untrue… it lacks context, and in doing so comes off as far more judgemental than church teaching actually is. The teaching is that any sexual act that isn’t aimed at both union and reproduction is a sin. That includes homosexuality and a whole host of heterosexual behaviors on par with each other. Those in turn are included with a bunch of other sins like gluttony, sloth, jealousy….
      There is no official list ranking homosexual acts any worse than any of the other mortal sins (some people invent their own ranking schemes, and generally put their own sins on the bottom, but that doesn’t make it the true teaching). Point is, actions are sinful if they seperate us from the good of our productive relationship with God, and in that sense are “evil”, but the person who sins is not “evil”… just fallen, as are we all. My favorite thing about the catechism (as opposed to most protestant doctrines) is that it is pretty even handed and logical when it comes to defining sin. Not a single person could read it and honestly find no room for improvement. I get skeptical of religious types that spend all their time condemming one particular sin, and let many of the others slide. While their are some Catholic people who may have that tendancy, the official teaching does not.

    • deiseach

      “Intrinsically disordered”, not “intrinsically evil”. Catholics are not permitted to believe that matter is intrinsically evil. See article 2357 of the relevant section of the Catechism.

      And “any expression of homosexuality”? Is intrisincally evil? Which would make all homosexual men and women irredeemably damned? Better tell that to Dante, who in Canto XXVI of the “Purgatorio” has gays amongst the saved souls purging the temporal effects of sin (and nobody has ever piped up to say “He’s wrong, being gay means you are Hell-bound no matter what!”):

      “31 There I can see that every shade of either group
      32 makes haste to kiss another, without stopping,
      33 and is content with such brief salutation,
      34 just as, within their dark-hued files,
      35 one ant will put its face up to the other’s,
      36 perhaps to inquire of his path and fortune.
      37 When they have ceased their friendly greeting,
      38 before they take a new step to continue,
      39 each one makes an effort to outshout the rest.
      40 The new ones cry: ‘Sodom and Gomorrah!’
      41 and the others: ‘Pasiphaë crawls into the cow
      42 so that the bull may hasten to her lust.’

      74 ‘Blessed are you, who, to die a better death,
      75 here take on board the knowledge that you gain.
      76 ‘Those, who come not with us, all offended
      77 the same way Caesar did, for which, in triumph,
      78 he once heard “queen” called out against him.
      79 ‘Thus they move on crying “Sodom,”
      80 as you heard, in self-reproach.
      81 And with their shame they fan the flames.
      82 ‘Hermaphroditic was our sin.
      83 Because we did not follow human law,
      84 but ran behind our appetites like beasts,
      85 ‘when, in our disgrace, we move off from the others
      86 we shout her name who made herself a beast
      87 inside the beast-shaped rough-hewn wood. “

  • AshtaraSilunar

    Well, I don’t agree with you, but I wish you well!

  • Welcome home to the Catholic Church, Leah! I am so very happy for you! Your announcement made my day!

  • Lily

    As a Catholic, reading this made me really happy. I’ll be praying for you.

    Also, everyone should love steam engines 🙂

  • Matthais777

    Dear Leah,
    I just sort wanted to say that i’m very sorry to hear this. I read your blog from your first post till now once i found you, and while i didn’t always agree with you, i enjoyed your thoughts and your opinions. Now that you’ve accepted catholisim, i hope your ready to accept what that means. Especially since you’ve chosen Catholisim.

    It means, By definition, you must reject the GLBTQ community, like myself.
    It means, by definition, you must believe that i and my fellow non-believers are going to hell. Whether that means eternal seperation, or eternal torture, you still believe that our actions deserve that.
    It means, by definition, you believe in the cannablism of a long dead man through the eurachrist in the process of transubtatiation.
    It means, by definition, you believe in the subjegation of women through denial of abortion services, birth control, and the right to hold postion of authority on spiritual matters.
    And leagues more.

    If you do believe these things, then fine, i suppose that everything i’ve read up to this point was by a diffrent person, a kinder person who this world will be a lesser place to have loss. The woman that convinced somebody to stop calling the GLBTQ community browncoats, who did some really intresting tests on theology that intregued my scientific intrest to no end. But i urge you, to remember that catholisim is not your only choice out there, and it comes with a LOT of baggage with it, and a lot of beliefs that i cannot seem to reconcile with your previous statments, unless, again, you’ve changed so vastly in such a short amount of time. All I ask is that you please, for lack of a better way of saying it, listen to reason.
    Either way, i wish you happiness, and i wish that you inflict as little harm with your new found delusion as possible.

    • Matthais777

      And to cut off the protests of “But we’re not like that!” your not catholics according to the pope and the hierarchy of the catholic church, i’m pretty stinkin sure your not actually catholics. Christian, maybe, but not catholic.

      • Every single item in your list is actually opposed to official Catholic doctrine as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. How can you say that Catholics who act against the teachings of their own faith are the only ones who are Catholic? It makes no sense.

        • Andrew

          You should tell the Pope and all the other men who actually run the catholic church, because they disagree with you. They disagree with you to stoop low enough to blackmail governments to not pass legislations that have to do with these things. Some people who call themselves catholic may think different than the catholic church, this does not speak to the actions of the Church itself.

          • “You should tell the Pope and all the other men who actually run the catholic church, because they disagree with you.”

            They don’t, and you’ve provided no proof to the contrary (nor have you provided proof of alleged “blackmail” on the part of the Church).

        • Andrew

          Link for Blackmail. Use google, there’s other incidents and links to be found. This took me 10 seconds though.

          The Church is very anti gay, and saying “love the sinner hate the sin” doesn’t soften the blow. You are still saying an entire group of people cannot have the things they want with each other because of the way they are born. I went to seminary for 3 years. One of the students was not permitted to keep studying there because they SUSPECTED he was gay(he was/is). Doesn’t matter that he wanted to be a priest, he was gay. This is the church I have experienced, how lucky for you that you have been blind enough to not see the evil that is done daily in it’s name by the hierarchy who control it.

          • Ted Seeber

            The Washington Post is not a primary source for Catholic Teaching.

    • Actual Catholics can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure the Church has not stated that Universalism is heresy. This means that Leah does not “by definition” have to believe you’re going to Hell.

      • The Church teaches that individual Catholics cannot say with certainty who is and who is not going to hell or even who is in hell. We can say, “Objectively, if you do X you are in danger of going to hell if you remain obstinate in your sin” and “All evidence we have indicates that X died in a state of unrepentant mortal sin, so it is very possible that X is in hell” but we can’t say for sure. Only God knows the heart and mind of a human being at the moment of their death, and only He can make that judgement call.

        • Matthais777

          Help me out then, cause i’m really trying to understand this decision here… but then why bother? I mean, i’m a Bi-sexual Athiest who’s uttered the unforgivable sin, who’s living happily “in sin” for over 4 years with my Pagan girlfriend. By the tenents of christianity, i am as solid of a candite for hell as you can get without being, to quote eddie izzard, a “Murdering fuckhead”. Don’t you kinda have to throw out the entire point of the entire religion if i still qualify to reach heaven? Cause, frankly, that’s diffrent from any of the priests i talked to.

          Also, in what realm did the catholic church (NOT individual catholics, whom again, i don’t think are actually catholics because they reject the teachings of the church, just like i stopped being a methodist long before i stopped being a christian cause i rejected the wisdom of the conferance and it’s teachings) did it suddenly become okay to use birthcontrol for women, for women to hold postions of spiritual authority, transubstatiation not be the basis of the euchrist, and GLBTQ relationships and acts become not inherently sinful? Or did i wake up from a coma and we’re talking about a diffrent catholic church?

          • Jared

            Sin is always an act. Because of this, variables like state of mind and ignorance, which cannot be known to anyone other than the person performing the act, can alleviate the severity of sin. Therefore, it’s impossible for any person to know if someone living in sin is hellbound, because that involves not only a person’s actions, but knowledge of his or her soul. Also, none of us “qualify” for Heaven. We’re all sinners. It is through God’s mercy and sacrifice that we can enter into paradise.

            Birth Control can be used for medical purposes. Transubstantiation is the basis of the Eucharist. The doesn’t make it cannibalism (though by calling it that, aren’t you saying that Catholics are right?)

            What exactly do you mean by spiritual authority? Doctors of the Church and Nuns are highly regarded and typically better at living the Christian life than I am. (Of course, given the recent news, I suppose I should point out I’m talking about devout nuns who actually believe Church Doctrine).

            For the rest of it, you’re confusing the Church rejecting ideas with the Church rejecting people.

          • Jim Kennedy

            the unforgivable sin “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is dying while obstanantely refusing to accept the freely offered grace of God, so no you’re not outside of the love of God, nor are you unforgivable. You’re human, and God loves you and will always love you. What you choose to do about that will determine your end. But that’s between you and God. He has given all of us freedom, because he wants our love freely given, not forced.

          • Ted Seeber

            The unforgiveable sin isn’t an utterance, it’s a willful decision.

          • Matthais777

            You’re all kinda missing the point. I know i’m not “Unforgivable” (I’m the son of a methodist pastor for stars sake…) the point is i don’t WANT to be forgiven. I’m FINE with an eternity that i don’t have to spend with the Godking and his servants. I find his morality and his reign morally repugnant, and frankly, i find him and his people rather evil. Part of the reason why is i find this rapist “Choice” of “Love me or I hurt you” (Yes, i know he “Let’s me hurt myself” that’s a argument for another day.) disgusting. But, Here’s the catch.

            You HAVE to believe, as part of catholic dogma, that i, for these opinions, deserve eternal torture. I’m not arguing whether or not these parts of dogma are correct or not, i’m saying that i can’t fathom how one jumps from a view on my end of the “God does not even exist” pond to the other. How do you reconcile the beliefs that i’ve seen evidence of in leah’s posts with the catholic dogma she now has to follow? Females will always be lower in spiritual authority because they cannot be bishops, cardnials, or the pope. Period. Bread and wine become flesh and blood. Period. The infalliablity clause of the pope. Those who die without jesus in their hearts or refuse the validity of the holy spirit (Like me) no matter their life are doomed to an eternity of torture (You can fluffy bunny your way out of it being torture, though i don’t think the catholic church does, but it’s still a “No going back eternity” thing biblically, again, correct me if catholics believe diffrently) These are the beliefs of a catholic, things you swear you believe when you take your catachism.

            You find me morally reprehensible, i find you morally reprehensable. As i understood Leah’s stance on ethics and life, she did not find you morally good either… except now she does. And I can’t figure that out. I’m sure she’ll go more indepth later, but i’m kinda shocked at it none the less.

        • CBrachyrhynchos

          There is a stark contrast between the admission that the Church can’t judge souls, and the frequent declaration of cultural and spiritual warfare on people called to a different spirituality.

          • Ted Seeber

            Except, when you examine it, most of the “cultural and spiritual warfare” you would cite, is an attempt to love people into heaven.

          • Matthais777

            When your gonna love me into heaven by the edge of a metaphorical sword, All i can say is “Love? You keep saying that word, but i do not think it means what you think it means.”

            I’ve refused to bow before your tyrant king, and if your a happy citizen of it, then fine, whatever. All i ask is you leave me and my family out of it, and you can’t seem to do that, and you get really pissy when i tell you that yes, oddly enough, i find YOU guys to be the morally repungnent ones and no, i will not be joining you in kissing the feet of the godking.

          • Edwin

            Matthais, you and every other atheist in this discussion seems convinced that Catholics believe you’re going to hell for your beliefs.

            In fact this is not what the Catholic Church teaches.
            You have no business telling Leah what she’s obligated by Catholic dogma to believe, when you don’t have a clue what Catholic dogma actually is.

          • Matthais777

            Then please, i beg of you, correct me. I will not have on my mind the fact that i might be spreading false information. My sources where my pastor father, a priest i spoke with, catholic co-workers, college studies on the matter, and personal readings. If i’m wrong and do not understand these central tenants, then i’ve got a lot of studying to do to get it right. Transubstationation of the eurachrist, Women not as priests, bishops, cardnials, or the pope, the existance of a place designated “Hell” which unbelievers and deniers of the church will be sent/go to/end up in after our deaths (The level of nastiness of this place depends on who you talk to, but it’s usually bad) and the ability for the pope to issue dogma as infalliable due to his ability to speak with God and transmit these things to the people (He is of course, human most of the time and perfectly capable of human mistakes, but when he acts in the name of God he becomes infallible as he issues doctrine). These are 4 catholic specific things (well, not hell, but catholics have things like purgatory that make their hell a little diffrent) that i understand to be true about Catholics. If i am wrong about these things, please correct me and i will apologize for being wrong and spreading misinformation. I’d normally ask for sources, but i understand that’s a pain so i’ll leave it to your fellow catholics to verify your statments.

            Please note however, that i’m looking to see if i’m WRONG. I don’t want apologetics explaining why these things are okay, I’m looking for where i’m wrong. If you’re only going to offer me apologetics, then bugger off. If I’ve been clearly mistaken and spreading misinformation about basic catholic beliefs, PLEASE INFORM ME SO I CAN STOP. If you can’t, then shut up about how i don’t “Get it”.

    • S.

      Unfortunately, Matthias, you ask too much. Being catholic and listening to reason are two mutually exclusive activities.

      • St. Thomas Aquinas, Father William of Ockham, Blaise Pascal, Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and many, many others disagree with you.

        • S.

          Really? Do you seriously want to get in to a counting game about the number of intellectuals who accept and reject religion. I doubt it. I think we both know what the outcome would be. Lets just say that there is a proven inverse correlation between degree of religious faith and level of intelligence.

          • Jared

            It didn’t look like a counting game to me. You claimed reason and the Catholic faith were mutually exclusive. JoAnna listed several brilliant, faithful Catholics.

        • S.

          Is that the Thomas of Aquinas that wrote: “Slavery among men is natural, for some are naturally slaves”

          Is that the William of Ockenham indicted for heresy by the catholic church in 1324, and who had to go on the run to avoid execution?

          Is that the Blaise Pascal whose autopsy revealed long-term brain damage and hallucinatory tendancies?

          Is that the Copernicus about whom the Magister of the Holy Palace (the catholic chuch’s chief office of thought poilce on the 1540’s) said “We must stamp out this Copernican doctrine” and who was threatened with trial and execution?

          Is that the Gregor Mendel whose experimentation techniques have been so discredited that they are now used in statistics courses as text book examples of flawed science, due to confirmation bias?

          Is that the CS Lewis who was an athiest for longer than he was a Christian?

          Is that the GK Chesterton who described England’s expulsion of all Jews from the country in the 13th century as a “just and conscientious” decision taken by a monarch (Edward I) who was a “tender father of his people” and who believed in the continued expulsion of Jew to the Middle East even in the modern age?

          • S.:

            Thomas Aquinas was referring back to a claim made by Aristotle in the Ethics, which is not so easily dismissed. The claim was that some people are servile by nature and cannot bring themselves to take a governing role. In point of fact, if this were NOT so, then one would have to believe the unlikely claim that there is no virtue to being a follower; and in point of fact, when we say that someone is a natural slave, in the Aristotelian scheme, we must note that its better examples include Kent, the noble knight from Shakespeare’s King Lear, as well as Bates from Downton Abbey, and Jeeves in Jeeves and Wooster. (This is, of course, to take a more general view of the concept than some Aristotelians do. But what sort of society has ever existed that insisted that everyone must be a statesman or a philosopher-king?)

            Say what you like about William of Ockham, he was on the run for uncertain reasons. SOME scholars think it was because of a heresy charge, but notably, they have no idea what the charge WAS, and there’s a good bit of evidence that he was lumped in with the Joachim of Fiore followers known as the Spiritual Franciscans, who, among other things, advocated “holy ignorance” and “holy poverty” to such a degree that they formed a heretical cult of anti-material monasticism. If anything, they were ANTI-intellectual. So if Ockham’s a heretic, he’s a heretic against rationality, not irrationality.

            Hallucinations do not preclude a beautiful mind. Hey, isn’t that the title of a movie about a famous mathematician, who hallucinated? Fancy that.

            With regard to Copernicus, from Wikipedia, citing Feldhay (1995): “It was argued that mathematical numbers were a mere product of the intellect without any physical reality, and as such ‘numbers could not provide physical causes in the investigation of nature.'” Say, isn’t that first premise EXACTLY what the intellectual atheists in this very forum were saying just above? Connected to an argument against Copernican methodology? Fancy that. Seems “rationality” does not just inhere in atheism. And in point of fact it takes a bit of understanding of Ptolemy to know what the hubbub is about. So let this educated Catholic give you a little history of science, yes?

            Ptolemy argued everything orbited the Earth in perfect, non-concentric circles. Mercury, Venus, and the Sun were all locked together in the appearances, but all the other planets seemed a different case, which Ptolemy though could be explained by three tools:

            Some planets were concentric with the Earth; the basis of their orbit was a circle around the Earth as center. But since they all had funny behaviors, he tried to explain them with “epicycles”, circles ON that circle. Now we’ve got things moving around a circle representing an actual massive body, but ALSO around a circle ON that circle with no massive body at the center. Weird enough.

            Some planets, furthermore, were not explicable by a concentric circle. So he put them on a circle ECCENTRIC to the Earth, that is, not around the Earth but a bit off, to account for the appearances; it was not around any massive body, but deviating from the concentric. That’s another odd thing.

            Finally, since some planets were STILL misbehaving, he added the ultimate mathematical contrivance, the equant, a point exactly halfway between the eccentric and concentric centers which seemingly explained all the appearances. He treated it as a cause, but this was not tied to any physical body. It was just math, no causal explanation. People accepted it, because it was predictive and the best explanation they had, but it didn’t satisfy Copernicus, who basically put the Sun at the center and re-ordered the orbits as concentric circles. But, uh, fun fact — he kept the equant! Which was the major problem in the first place! This is what the Dominicans were complaining about: mathematics detached from physical causes, explaining the universe in the same way Platonic forms try and explain abstraction.

            Vis-a-vis Mendel: Yeah, sure, but ain’t it funny how he managed to discover genetic variation ANYWAYS?

            As to Lewis, I wasn’t aware length of belief in theory indicates strength of belief in principle. Some people have been Scientologists all their life.

            As to Chesterton, you may not like his politics or his economics, but he produced reasoning and literature I have yet to see from the likes of any atheist internet commentator. So, to quote his favorite playwright, Shakespeare, in the person of my favorite role, Sir Toby: sneck up.

    • If I get the chronology right, the interesting woman who convinced Mark Shea to stop the brownshirt-talk was already an undercover Christian.

      • leahlibresco


      • Mark Shea

        A fact I was unaware of.

      • Ted Seeber

        Not only that- but living the faith in a way Mark wasn’t (sorry Mark).

    • Valerie

      Yes, Thank you, Matthias. I looked into Catholicism, only partly because my husband’s family is completely catholic, and no desire to be a part of the church could make me turn a blind eye to all you listed AND the other blatant issues (sorry, gotta say it, the abuse cases). If someone can look past all of that and still feel they belong, or worse yet, look at all of that and agree with it, then … Fine I guess. But I could never….

      • Ted Seeber

        Let me know what you do when an employee of yours is accused of a crime.

        • Kris

          I would cooperate fully with the authorities.

          • Ted Seeber

            Even when the authorities claim that because your employee committed a crime, then you are guilty of the same crime?

          • Matthais777

            Depends, did i faciliate the crime? Did my actions allow the crime to happen? Did my actions cover up the crime and protect the criminals? Then yes, i’m responsible and should pay for it. If it happened despite my best attempts, and i co-operate fully with the police, doing everything i can to make sure the criminals are punished, then nah, i’m not aiding and abetting.

            Now which was it the catholic church did again? I honestly don’t blame the pedophiles on the church. That was those individuals sick actions. I do blame the church for playing the shell game with authorities to protect those individuals.

        • Valerie

          I wouldn’t cover it up. I wouldn’t transfer then and protect them from justice. The Catholic church wouldn’t be viewed as guilty if they didn’t work so hard to protect predators. Defending that behavior is disgusting.

  • S.

    I’m guessing that after spending long enough in the cesspool of catholic bigotry, sexual and gender repression and perversion and insanely outlandish belief demands, you’ll be back. Good luck over there. You’ll need it.

    • S.,

      Like many of your ilk, you fail to provide evidence. . . of any sort.

      • S.

        Actually, my “ilk” are actually quite partial to the “E” word. Not a favorite topic among catholics though.

    • deiseach

      Okay, I’m going to do it. I’m going to tell you the truth, S.

      You know who or what ever made me feel “sexual and gender repression”? It wasn’t the Church, it was secular society. Valentine’s Day is such a commerical operation that the underlying message “You haven’t got anyone to spend it with? No-one to send you cards, buy you flowers or dinner? Loser!” “You can’t fit into the latest size dress because you are too big – at the age of seven? Fat loser!” “No boyfriend or husband ever? Okay, so you’re lesbian, that’s cool – oh, you’re not? Loser and pathetic, lonely, friendless loser at that!”

      Believe me, all the messages I got about the myriad ways I was failing in being a straight woman came not from the Pope but from liberated women’s magazines and newly-secular Irish society.

      • S.

        .. and how did it work out for you when you turned to the teachings of the catholic chuch for help? Words of wisdom and comfort from your local priest?

  • Wow, Leah, welcome home! I am very happy for you.

    I’ve been following this blog for a long time, and often comment about it to friends and family. Thank you for your tremendous honesty and courage! May God keep you in his/her hand!

  • Jeni

    Welcome to the Church! Very pleased to read this 🙂 God bless you! Offering prayers for your conversion process!! So exciting!! <3

  • Leslie

    Welcome Home! We will pray for you as you put down your roots. God bless.

  • Great great news, but can’t say I didn’t see this coming the moment I started reading you. My husband did RCIA at a DC parish, too. Glad the Catholics have a rich intellectual tradition to share with your brainy self.

  • David F

    Bravo Leah. I can relate as I converted from Atheism at 37. You’ll likely receive some flak for this, and complete conversion is a slow step wise process (at least it was for me). Faith and understanding grows in time and then, eventually, comes peace and joy and the whole Galatians 5 list. Just stay strong and pray. We’ll happily pray for you as well. Congratulations. You have such a wonderfully reasonable mind and balanced approach; can’t wait to see what fruit will come of this.

  • CBrachyrhynchos

    Good luck to you. They are not convictions I can share given the sum of my intellect, conscience, and mystical experience.

  • “…tho’ he is under the world’s splendour and wonder,
    His mystery must be instressed, stressed;
    For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand.”

    – Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”


  • mikespeir

    Will you be able to work up the same level of gutsiness when later you realize the Catholic rationalizations ring hollow too? Hope so.

  • Te Deum laudamus! Maybe we can talk a bit about universalism some time. 😉

  • Mark H.

    I’m really happy for you Leah. I’ve always admired the thoughtful and reasonable way you dealt with topics. You’re able to bridge the gap between people of different beliefs and encourage civil discussions. You did it as an atheist, and I believe you’ll be able to do it from the Catholic side, too.
    There’s no such thing as a perfect Catholic. We all struggle, and we all fall. Don’t get discouraged. Seek out support when you need it (that’s one of the problems I had, trying to do it on my own).
    I’ll be following your journey 🙂

  • I guess I don’t understand. You want virtue ethics to be true, but could not reconcile that to atheism. So, you rounded up some pro-deist/Christian arguments you found agreeable and now you’re a Cafeteria Catholic? I’m not judging, just trying to get handle on it. I have to say that I would expect most atheists to abandon virtue ethics under those circumstances. It doesn’t seem rational to me to do otherwise.

    You’ve spoken in praise of holding to certain beliefs because of a gut feeling, is this one of those instances? I’d find it far more understandable that you simply discovered that you held a core belief in a deity (albeit one comprised predominantly of virtue) than you suddenly found pro-Christian arguments compelling because you couldn’t resolve inner conflict. The former seems like a true conversion, the latter like abandoning uncomfortable and incongruous reality with a tidy fiction.

    Also, why Catholicism when it seems like your belief runs more toward deism?

    Again, I’m not trying to harsh, I’m just very curious about this. Of course, I wish you luck in your re-conversion–that you find what you need, no matter your final destination.

    • Gabriel Austin

      Matt writes: “I’m not judging,…” and proceeds to go ahead and judge. It is part of the problem of those who dislike the step taken by Leah; not dislike Leah, but dislike the step. Much of which amounts to “How blind can you be?”
      To Leah I recommend simply accepting that we are ignorant of most aspects of the world. To those who don’t accept this, please explain gravity; please explain quantum mechanics. There are even more mysterious aspects of the universe, including its origin, the origin of life [not of species which is a different subject], its purpose, and such like. Some [many] mysteries just have to be accepted. Like most if us, I can survive on this earth without understanding quantum mechanics. [“If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t”. Richard Feynman].

      • I don’t believe I did judge her. I paraphrased her reasoning as I understood it, complete with my objection to such, and then asked her to clarify. I also pointed out the potential pros and cons I saw as best as I could anticipate her answers. I expressed a desire to understand her reasoning and closed by wishing her luck. Wanting to understand is not the same as wanting to condemn.

  • Sarah

    Reading through the Welcome Home comments made me tear up. It’s the same thing the priest said to my father in confession after he said, “Bless me father for I have sinned; it’s been over 20 years since my last confession.” WELCOME HOME!!!

  • PS Don’t feel let down if you’re rcia isn’t as intellectually rigorous as you are….sometimes you’ve got to do your own stuff for that, but I’m sure you’re heart can still benefit through the spirtual side.

  • Harmony

    Hi Leah,
    I’d encourage you to seriously look into the mainstream Catholic pro-gay advocacy groups and their arguments, if only to feel more confident rejecting what they have to say, because sadly what you’ll find is very weak commitment to parts of the Faith that are too valuable to give up. But more importantly, do also consider the perspectives held by pro-gay but still very traditional Catholics. Fine places to start are the homilies of Fr. James Alison,, and the resources and community pulled together by Stephen Lovatt, a.k.a. Pharsea, . At least it was such people who rescued me from loss of faith over the arguments on sexuality, most of which are simply unworthy of belief.

    • What’s the point of being Catholic at all if you don’t adhere to the teachings of the Church?

      I think, and hope, Leah has more integrity than that.

      • Not all teachings of the Catholic Church have the same level of authority. There are infallible teachings and non-infallible teachings of the Catholic Church. In theory it could happen that a non-infallible teaching of the Church is changed. This gives a warrant for some people to stay within the Catholic Church while still disagreeing in some teachings. Not a very comfortable position.

      • Harmony

        JoAnna, the Church has never required adherence to all its teachings. That would be absurd — most of us don’t even know many of the infallible teachings, let alone understand and adhere to them. The requirements are actually quite reasonable and forgiving, and they depend on the “rank” of the teaching, roughly speaking. As Stephen Lovatt notes, the way the teaching of the modern hierarchy on homosexuality is formulated dates back no earlier than the 1980’s, so it should not be imagined that the way the Catechism puts it is the Church’s perennial teaching. As Fr. Alison notes, the present teaching is considered a “third order truth”, to which the level of assent is “obsequious obedience”, meaning practically, “do not lampoon in public.” Fr. Alison disagrees with that teaching but gives it and the hierarchy utmost respect. Before the 1980’s, the teaching was extremely vague, entirely mediated by cultural attitudes — precisely the sort of thing that could be developed by the Tradition’s moral theology in unexpected ways in light of genuinely new anthropological discoveries such as that not all humans are innately heterosexual.

    • Gabriel Austin

      Why do we so often hear from pro-gay advocacy groups and not from such as the gay Catholic group COURAGE? It seems to me that COURAGE is far more worthy of belief than Fr. Alison. Fr. Alison believes that celibacy is impossible. Have our priests, bishops, nuns, saints been lying all these centuries?

      • Courage is not at all a group for gay people. It is a group for people who struggle with same sex attractions. Very major differences in the way you understand yourself, and gay people, even chaste ones, can often feel deeply unwelcome there. Gays are simply not the target audience.

        • Ted Seeber

          If gays don’t have SSA, then what is the reasoning behind homosex?

          • The operative word here is “struggle.”

          • Ted Seeber

            Oh, I get it. Yeah, the church doesn’t do very much for those who have decided to surrender instead of fight. They have their own religion already.

      • Harmony

        Your comment is pure hyperbole. Fr. Alison clearly does not claim that celibacy is impossible – only that it is not in every gay person’s case morally required.

  • What a miracle. Prayers for you and yours.

  • Tess

    As a fellow Catholic, welcome home! I am awed by your courage in making and announcing this decision. The Church is lucky to have you. God bless you!

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    I look forward to your future posts in hopes that you explain your reasoning a bit more. It seems that you were convinced by some type of moral argument, but considering that I’ve never found those the least bit convincing, I’m curious what I might have missed (if anything.)
    And the leap from “Morality is a person who is God” to “Therefore, Catholicism” is a very large one that I hope you explain in more detail in the future.
    I wish you a exciting journey in the future and may your mind always stay open.

    • Dan

      I bet she was also seduced by beauty.

  • Anthony Esolen

    Dear Leah:
    God bless you, and welcome!

    I got me flowers to strew thy way,
    I got me boughs off many a tree,
    But thou wast up by break of day
    And brought’st thy sweets along with thee.

    The sun arising in the east,
    Though he give light, and th’ east, perfume,
    If they should offer to contest
    With thy arising, they presume.

    Can there be any day but this,
    Though many suns to shine endeavor?
    We count three hundred, but we miss:
    There is but one, and that one ever.
    from George Herbert, “Easter”

  • Been reading your blog since long before my own conversion (from traditional Christianity to Paganism with a side order of modern Gnosticism), back when I was thinking about heading in a more atheist direction than I ended up taking. Always happy to see someone discover a spiritual home and make their own religious choices. May you enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed my conversion. (And may it be a bit faster.)

  • This is absolutely fascinating – I’ve seen trillions of Catholicism->atheism conversions, but no Atheism->catholicism ones yet.

    Let the world know what happens from here on!

  • Lizzie

    Childhood Catholic to atheist to Anglo-Catholic revert here:

    The thing to remember in any conversations, especially with those who adhere to scientism, is that for many atheists, there is no logical argument available that will persuade them. Your conversion is a choice, not just of your reason, but of your heart. We believe that God led you here. They will not. It will always be unreasonable to those who will not see. And you know what? In the end, their unreasonableness of your answering this call simply does not matter.

    There are many teachings of Catholicism that will seem strange. And the simple truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect Catholic. Relax, pray, and enjoy your conversion, for conversion is a process that will last all your life.

    Please explore Benediction spirituality to help you in your conversion.

  • I’ve popped in on you from time to time and have been totally impressed with your writing and your intellect. I haven’t been a true follower of your blog because, really, I’m not smart enough…no false humility here- for me to understand what you write would take so long for me to read that I just couldn’t put the time in. However, the Lord blessed me with a great bullshit detector and even if material is over my head, I can usually tell if it’s crap or not. Your stuff is definitely not crap. You are brave, beautiful and honest. Thank you for sharing your journey with us- we are utterly blessed to have you in our church. Welcome home sweetie!!!!!

  • This absolutely made my day. I felt like crying and jumping for joy at the same time. I am so thrilled for you. You’re in my prayers, Leah.

  • Elaine

    Wow, awesome! You’re so brave! I’ll definitely be praying for you… good luck! 🙂

  • Slow Learner

    There is a level on which this is very much not a surprise – you have told your readers many times that some of your viewpoints and arguments have been identified as “very Catholic” by those around you.
    However, what gets me is the objective reality aspect – whatever you feel about Catholicism’s fit with your philosophy, how do you reconcile that with the fact that Catholicism, and Christianity in general, make some serious claims of fact, some of which are known to be false? I’m especially thinking here of the severe doubts over whether Jesus existed at all, and then some aspects of doctrine like transubstantiation where the Church makes claims that don’t fit with the evidence.

  • Denise

    How does something like this happen? And some people say this is no God. Seriously, you’re very courageous for wanting to know the Truth and follow Him. And it so cool you prayed the Office then listened to Mumford and Sons!

    • Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)

      @Denise: So if the author had converted from Atheism to Hinduism, you’d accept that as evidence that Vishnu, Kali, Ganesha, Shiva and all those gods were real?

      • Ted Seeber

        Uh, they ARE real. To Hindus. And in fact, the problem I see in Hinduism is atheism, since almost all of their deities are what we Catholics would call Saints (maybe not saints that were once human, but not creators either).

        • Kris

          And Ted, your god is real to YOU.

          • Ted Seeber

            Partially true. But then again, my real God (being a Catholic) is YOU too. And the desk. And the computer. And that rock. And the law of gravity. And everything else that exists, visible or invisible.

      • Denise

        @Corey. Good question. If she had converted to another faith I would have acknowledged that Leah is responding to God on her journey to discover the Truth. God meets us where we are in life and draws us to Himself, and Wisdom can take us through many paths to get to Him. Leah’s response takes incredible courage and before that a sincere humility. I had never heard of her blog before this post, but I will be following it now because I’m certain I’ll be learning a lot.
        p.s. in my original post I meant to say … And some people say there is no God … and it’s so cool you prayed the Office then listened to Mumford and Sons. Stupid autocorrect.

  • Reading some of the vague comments, I wasn’t sure if this was the right thing for you to do … and I’m at least nominally a Catholic. But I can see with the way you seem to be seeing morality then the conversion makes sense for you, and in a way that it doesn’t for me (I don’t see morality as being a person, which is why, for example, I can stay mostly Stoic about it, which as a Virtue Theory likely fit into your view fairly well).

    For natural law questions, Edward Feser is really good, so if you find and read his blog you might get some idea. He’s very, very detailed regardless of whether you think he’s right or not. That might clear up some of that. When I’ve looked around at Catholic theology specifically, I’ve found things like the Catholic Encyclopedia to be very, very dense, and so not all that great for getting simple answers.

  • Brian

    There is so much soul fulflling beauty in Catholicism. That you’re embracing the beauty and truth of the Church makes my heart sing with joy. God bless you, Leah. And welcome home.

    • Keith Collyer

      yeah, like burning at the stake, covering up paedophilia, preferring over-population over sexual safety, hatred of homosexuals and too many more to mention. Beauty in each and every one

      • S.

        Let me help .. the Provisional IRA, slavery, the Spanish Inquisition, mass child rape, rabid support for the Nazis in WW2 as well as the principle of the Holocaust. “Soul fulfilling beauty”.

      • Gabriel Austin

        Keith Collyer reproaches the Church for “preferring over-population over sexual safety” Leaving aside the myth of over-population [which always seems to apply to the poor and those people over there], condoms do not provide sexual safety. Even the condom manufacturers admit this. The failure of condom is like playing russian roulette. One leaky condom and you’re dead. The most aggressive of homosexual advocates speak of “safer” sex. This must be like safer russian roulette.

        • S.

          ” .. condoms do not provide sexual safety.. ” I guess it’s true what I heard. People as ignorant as you do actually exist.

          • CK

            For mountains of scientific evidence that back up the Church’s view, read this:


          • Kris

            Oh, CK. Thanks for the laugh. Your source is prefaced by this:

            ” WARNING: In order to completely and accurately describe the subject matter, this document contains explicit information about human sexuality which is not appropriate for minors or for persons who are morally vulnerable to such material.”

            Are you REALLY asserting that a sexually active person is LESS safe if they use a condom? You will claim that the only real safety is in abstinence, but abstinence is not reality for the majority of the population, even among priests. Your church’s stance on this is disgusting at best.

  • Keith Collyer

    I perfectly understand why you are doing this. You spotted an inconsistency in yourself, so you have naturally no difficulty at all in accepting the mass of inconsistencies that form Catholicism. You have gone for a god of the gaps argument in a big way. You can’t explain something, so it must be god. Now explain how this zombie (rising from the dead) cannibal (you know eating the wafer really is eating the body of christ not some metaphor, don’t you?) cult makes any sense

  • Kim

    Congratulations on finding a path that you feel right for you. As a biologist I just wanted to point out chimps and other simians have a moral code they follow yet they have no religion. In family groups they have been observed sharing, they don’t kill each other and they are shunned by social group members if they steal. They will kill members of other tribes/social groups (not too different from man). There has been cases of altruistic behavior with in groups. End result of everyone playing nicely in the kiddie pool means better survival for the group and higher chance that you or your relatives will survive to reproduce. This system does give rise to a moral ethic or truth.
    I am an agnostic. I could never be Christian. First I know the bible is the most edited book on the planet. Second I have read a good portion of the bible and found it riddled with hate, murder, incest, violence and God basically getting revenge on many ,many people. You never hear the tales of LOTT and his daughters in Church or of the she bear that kills Children from the pulpit. Plus the very idea that a wafer and wine are actually blood and body Christ, sorry I can do DNA test on the wafer and yup just as I thought wheat. My second issue with it is the fact that the Church and many christian sects condemn the act of homosexuality. In nature homosexual acts are common and natural in the animal kingdom. I have an issue with any religion that uses its doctrine to suppress a population of people. The bible has been used for centuries to justify slavery as well as the suppression of women.
    How could I follow a religion that stood by and did nothing while millions of Jews died during WW2 just so they could secure land and power in Italy. They hid pedophiles in their ranks for years and even blamed the children for tempting them. Yet they claim infallibility and later changed it to infallibility in concern to scripture.

    I can understand the want for there to be something more to give life more meaning than what we see around us. Perhaps it is human nature to search for meaning where there is none. Maybe there is something more but I have never seen any evidence. There has been no grace offered to me ever.
    I don’t mean to sound like I am bashing but people have a tendency to only look at the good things. All the things I mentioned can be easily looked up.
    I wished I could have a faith and have spent years searching but the only thing that fits is agnosticism. Do I think its comforting to thing we all are just a bag of chemicals that evolved by lucky chance and billions of years of time, No. It could be my selfish side that wants to believe there is more and that there is purpose to this suffering. The only purpose I can find is to try to help people and lessen the suffering around me. I do not need a dogma or fear of a god to do this. I just have to have empathy and realize that others can feel pain, hopelessness, sadness and a myriad of other feelings. I am able to say you are just like me and I want you to be happy too. Good luck to you.

    • MRL

      Congratulations on finding a path that you feel right for you. As a biologist I just wanted to point out chimps and other simians have a moral code they follow yet they have no religion. In family groups they have been observed sharing, they don’t kill each other and they are shunned by social group members if they steal. They will kill members of other tribes/social groups (not too different from man). There has been cases of altruistic behavior with in groups. End result of everyone playing nicely in the kiddie pool means better survival for the group and higher chance that you or your relatives will survive to reproduce. This system does give rise to a moral ethic or truth.

      ergo: God.

      • MRL

        my fake “end tongue in cheek” HTML tag didn’t show up there.

        after “ergo god” there should have been an “

        • MRL

          LOL at me for doing it twice.

          • Kim

            No not god Natural selection. The chimps that do not follow “group” norms are shunned and as a result often die and do not breed. That selective pressure eliminates the anti social chimps and favors those that support the group as a whole. There is a very large social aspect as well in learning the groups morals. Another similar example is the breeding of foxes in Russia. In eight generations they go from wild terrified of humans to having dog like qualities and the want of social interaction.
            The interesting thing with man is that we want our moral code to have more value and meaning as well as for others to be like us. We questioned at one point, where did morals come from. At a point in our history we had no answer. So we invented God and religion. If moral law was universal then the Aztecs would not have been sacrificing human to various gods. If Moral law was universal then there would be no differences between our moral culture and other moral cultures around the world. This just isn’t the case. Their are variations in morals. Some places it is acceptable to have more than one wife (various middle eastern countries) or husbands (India). Look at even the laws in which it is acceptable to take a life. In the US capital punishment exists as well as in China. The laws for which one can be executed are different as well.
            If a universal moral law existed, then even children without input from parents should intrinsically have it. This isn’t the case as seen with both feral and closet children. They have absolutely no morals and will gratify current urges. They will steal a liked item or wanted food. When at puberty they will masturbate frequently. They often use violence to avoid a situation. When these children are educated and taught societal norms, they often obtain a limited grasp of the subject.
            So what can we glean from the above,
            1) basic morals have societal and genetic components
            2) if not taught, human children lack socially acceptable morals
            3) just because something doesn’t have an obvious answer adding god doesn’t answer it. Its funny one can use the word God and Just because interchangeably when asked a hard question and both are equally unsatisfactory answers.

          • JJ

            I am reading this comment thread with great interest, learning a great deal, most definitely truth-seeking, while also most definitely hoping that the God side is right. Kim’s 3 arguments there seem devastating though. Any good Catholic response?

          • JJ, since you asked (though long ago, and if you ever see this), Kim’s arguments are not devastating at all. Catholics assume the rationality of nature and that morality “bubbles up” through it to humanity. It’s called natural law. Revelation (particularly Jesus) then fills out the teleology behind the mechanism because purposes cannot necessarily be inferred from mechanism alone – AKA nature is hard to interpret. Citing feral children does nothing other than demonstrate that humans naturally need socialization because we are not just biological creatures but bio-cultural ones. Everything else scientific (but not atheistic) Kim states is exactly what Catholic natural law would assume as well. We come from nature, but nature points us towards more. Through nature a species evolved to be capax Dei – capable of relating to God. The specifics of evolutionary science and human biology/anthropology are just interesting knowledge the remarkable path that we took.

    • SpiritualMan

      To all of you here specially those who are truth-seeking individual, try to read true accounts of near-death experiences. Read them with an open mind. It will cost you nothing to read, just give it a try. Please note these are true experiences of thousands people. There is no dogma, doctrine or whatever in here, just a real touching experience. Here, you might find the answers of your questions that religions could not give. Just type NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES in google and you will find countless website. GOOD LUCK!!

      • Well, my favorite NDE stories are the ones that involve Euphoria and seeing a Tunnel of Light. I like them because trainee pilots being spun around in Centrifugal G-Force Simulators report Euphoria and seeing a Tunnel of Light as the blood is swished out of certain parts of their brains before they faint and the machine is turned off.

        Douglas Adams: “I prefer the awe of knowledge and understanding to the awe of ignorance any day”

  • Donalbain

    While I wish you well in your religious choice, I cannot support the Catholic Portal on Patheos while it is headed by the vile, hateful Anchoress writer. I think you will be a horrible fit for that group of people, who seem to blog about nothing else other than how gay people and women who control their own bodies are evil. Good luck and I hope being a Catholic makes you happy, and I hope that you can prod a change in the Catholic Portal, but for me, this is the end of reading your blog.

    • “who seem to blog about nothing else other than how gay people and women who control their own bodies are evil.”

      I will give you $100 if you can provide a source for the above quote from any Catholic Patheos blog.

    • Does she live in a lair and keep toads as pets as well?

      Methinks thou portrays with hyperbole too much…

  • Congratulations! I am looking forward to reading your upcoming posts.

  • 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 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:

    • Keith Collyer

      surely the church’s real teachings should not be hidden? catholicism is supposed to be one of the world’s leading religions, not bloody scientology

      • Lily

        Our teachings aren’t hidden, there’s just a lot of really fail Catholic education out there. It’s unintentional; often times those teaching don’t know what they don’t know. Thankfully, it seems to be getting better 🙂

  • Andrew

    Hi Leah,
    Welcome to the fold! As a Christian who has struggled with the evolutionary explanations for both morality and sinful behavior, I’m intrigued by your rejection of evolutionary psychology on not-necessarily-theistic grounds. Can you refer me to one of your writings on this subject? Thank you!!

    • Andrew

      In view of the fact that you now have many hundreds of people to respond to, I’ve done my own homework and clicked on the “evo psych” tag in your word cloud. I look forward to reading all the blog entries / discussions posted there. Thanks!

  • K Scott

    Welcome home at long last. It will be a rough ride for you, from Catholics and nonCatholics alike. But the course of true Love never did run smooth. As a convert myself, I can say I am happier, healthier, and a better person since I came fully into the true Church.

    I see your musings on the subject of hell, in some comments above. One way that is helpful for me to understand hell is as an act of Divine Love. Crazy to say, huh? But the truth is that God loves us so much that He is willing to make a place where we can go to be away from Him, if we will it. If He made us all go to heaven, that wouldn’t be respecting the dignity of our free will. Hell is a place of self-exile, perhaps much as C.S. Lewis represents it in THE GREAT DIVORCE. Mysteriously enough, God loves us enough to let us reject Him forever, that is, to let us go to hell.

    But the good news is that we don’t have to.


  • Jay

    I notice that I am confused. My initial response was the same as Eli’s, that this just had to be a prank, or a test, or some kind of not-entirely-serious response. But trolling all of her religious readers would devastate them and would also destroy her own reputation, so I doubt Leah would do that. I also considered that maybe someone logged in as her and is writing in her name while she’s out of the country or something. But the post and comments sure do sound like her voice, and she linked to it on Facebook as well, so that hypothesis seems unlikely as well. So I’m provisionally assuming that Leah is serious here, even though that doesn’t erase my confusion.

    Leah, I admire the courage that it takes to write something like this. It’s never easy to admit that you think you’ve made such a fundamental error about how your understand yourself and the world. And I respect that this is probably a highly emotional time for you, as you’re having to grapple with what I imagine you see as an overhaul to your lifestyle and your very person. But if this sequence of events is what lead you to jump from atheist to Catholic, I can only assume that you either haven’t fully thought through your conversion, or that you never really grokked the atheist arguments that make religious hypotheses so unlikely in the first place. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding some critical part of this process for you, so please correct me if I’m getting it wrong, but here are the major concerns I have with what you’re saying.

    I understand the frustration in trying to reconcile objective morality with a naturalistic worldview. When we think about morality-qua-morality, it sure does feel like there’s something “real” out there, and that people can be right or wrong about it. But then, it’s hard to see where morality slips in among the quarks, so what’s going on? This is a complicated issue, and I’d recommend the Metaethics sequence for help in unraveling some of the confusion here. But let me step back and ask a more basic question. What is more likely: that you are confused or mistaken about your metaethics, or that a super-powerful ontologically basic mental entity exists, conceals almost all evidence of itself, but is yet the font of morality and wants you to live your life in a manner that would otherwise seem insane to you? For lack of a better phrase, come on.

    I’m pretty sure you understand at least the basics of Bayesian probability, and I’d say that in jumping from “I feel loved by Morality” to “therefore, God seems like the best hypothesis,” you’re making what is essentially a mathematical mistake. You’re not recognizing how exceedingly unlikely your prior is. I understand that quasi-Platonist and dualist-and-yet-atheist virtue ethics doesn’t sit so well with you. Well, maybe you should reconsider quasi-Platonist dualist virtue ethics. Seriously, changing your metaethics isn’t that scary, and it’s certainly a less fundamental change than the one you’re contemplating now.

    And even assuming that the feeling of “being loved by morality” points to a lover, why postulate “God”? Why not give equal consideration to the Dark Lords of the Matrix who run the simulation we all live in, or super-powerful designer aliens who interact with our minds in lawful, naturalistic ways? Why jump straight to an ontologically basic mental entity, rather than first considering entities (unlikely though they may be) who are at least not ruled out by our knowledge of particle physics? And even assuming something like “God,” why jump to Catholicism? Why take as your starting point the religious tradition that, among other things, will try to convince you that your very understanding of love and sexuality is a rebellion against nature? You at least acknowledge that you’re still confused about the Church’s stance on sexuality, which is encouraging. But if the Church’s views there are problematic, what is the chance they got the rest of it right?

    As someone who has spent so much effort defending atheism, you have to understand how distressing it is to read this post. Again, I respect the courage it takes to write this, and I hope that courage will extend to an honest willingness to reconsider what you’re saying. And I also recognize that you have more to say on this subject and that I’m maybe missing something. So I’d be interested in talking further with you, either on your blog or in private, at the very least so I can have a better understanding of what you’re thinking at this point.

  • Juliana

    Oh Hell yes. Welcome to the Church, Leah!

  • Leah,

    I’m glad you’ve given up on atheism. Sadly, you’re not going to find certainty in Rome, since this institution is based on a dualistic wedding of Christian theism with Greek philosophy, undermining the important distinction between the Creator and the creature. The God who is Morality (aka. Righteousness) has revealed himself to mankind in the Holy Scriptures. I earnestly suggest that you seek Him there, and find fellowship with others who are following Him as He has revealed Himself there. There are churches you may join which are following God himself and not their own autonomous reasoning.

    • LOL….you do realize that “the institution based on a dualistic wedding of Christian theism with Greek philosophy” is the institution that has determined which books comprise the New Testament, in which God has revealed himself to mankind, right? If you’re not going to find certainty in Rome, then you’re not going to find certainty in the canon of the Scriptures.

      • No, actually, it’s not. The patristic church which didn’t determine, but *recognized* which books were of divine inspiration, is a far cry from today’s Roman Catholic church. Rome was once one true church among others, but now has so far degenerated over the centuries, by “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”, that sadly she is become a “Synagogue of Satan.” The testimony of the ancient church to the divine origin of the Holy Scriptures is impressive, but the ultimate proof that the Bible is God’s Word is in the books of Scripture themselves.

        • By your logic, the Book of Mormon is also the Word of God because it claims it is.

          • Not so. The Bible is not the word of God just because it claims to be. I assume you didn’t read the article I linked above.

          • You said, “the ultimate proof that the Bible is God’s Word is in the books of Scripture themselves.”

            And Mormons claim the ultimate proof that the Book of Mormon is God’s Word is contained in the Book of Mormon. Ergo…

          • Saying it doesn’t make it so. We don’t just take the word of the church councils that these books are the word of God. We can verify that they did a good job recognizing the books which are of divine origin by examining the books for the same marks that they were looking for.

        • The “patristic” Church, as you call it, is recognizably the same Church as the Roman Catholic Church today. Exactly the same in all features, no…but just as the sapling is the same tree as the adult version, it is the same Church. Almost all Catholic dogma today is pretty clearly traceable back to the first 300-400 years after Christ.

          As John Henry Newman stated, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”

          Even if the Church only “recognized” which books are of Divine inspiration, it had to be protected from error in order to do that. We aren’t going to decide this argument in a combox, but I’ll just encourage Leah and other inquirers to dig as deeply into history as possible, with as unbiased sources as are possible.

          • The first guard against error is a knowledge of the Scriptures. The second is a knowledge of church history. I maintain that both will drive the reasonable inquirer away from the papacy. So yes, let her study away. The Roman Catholic church barely resembles what it was prior to Vatican II, let alone before the Council of Trent.

          • By the way, God has providentially preserved His church through all ages, as you suggest. But this does not hinder that she may sometimes err, or that every particular church will be preserved. On the contrary, Scripture prophesies that there would be a great falling away.

  • Nothing upsets the unbeliever as much as defenses of Christianity based on intellectual skepticism and internal experience.

    Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 473

  • “Our Hearts are Restless Until They Rest in You” From the Confessions Saint Augustine of Hippo.

  • deiseach

    Numfar, do the dance of joy!

    I’m torn between saying “Welcome!” and “Are you really sure you want to do this? Maybe you’d prefer to be Eastern Orthodox, or hey – how about one of the 22 Eastern Catholic churches like the Syro-Malabar? They’re Catholic and in communion with the Pope, they’re just not Latin Catholics!”

    Because you are now going to be responsible for the Crusades, the Inquistion, the Witch-Burnings, the clergy sex abuse scandals, the other physical and emotional in orphanages and industrial schools scandals, people dying of AIDS in Africa and women dying on the floor because they can’t get abortions (I’m leaving out the whole gay/lesbian/bi/transgender bullying, suicides and murders topic because you already know more about that issue than I do).

    Yes, you personally. It’s all (going to be) your fault. Welcome aboard the barque of Peter – now grab a bucket and start bailing!


  • Steve Schlicht


    What evidence did anyone present for the existence of the RCC deity over all of the other purported God(s)ess(es)?

    Where does the Catholic God get morality from?

    The OP reflects an emotional plea, a mere assertion right along with Lewis and Chesterton, and not a critical analysis of the potential and pragmatic source of morality, ethics or even the posited existence of a God or that Catholicism is the correct basis for moral quandaries.

  • Cheyloe

    Welcome home, Leah!

  • tina

    You must not have been a “real” atheist. Just kidding. You’re taking a beating in the atheist world or at least on my FB page. I know many good, liberal christians.

  • Thadeus

    Happy for you! Welcome home!!

  • Michael

    Leah, might I suggest that you take up reading C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”. It’s a wonderful book from Lewis that starts with proofs for Natural Moral Law and Christianity on a step-by-step level. I think it might strengthen your conversion by moral law.
    Oh, and I’ll be praying for you as you make your way through RCIA to come home.

    • S.

      I am sure praying for her will do the world of good .. oh, what’s that? Every study of the power of prayer has proved that it is of NO value whatsoever? There is not one shred of scientific evidence of prayer ever having worked, even one time? Oh.

      • Why do you expect the physical sciences to prove the metaphysical? That seems awfully illogical.

        • S.

          Quite simple really.

          Plenty of other examples. Either prayer works or it doesn’t. The results are observable. Even someone with the scientific understanding of a catholic should be able to figure that out.

          • But you avoided my question altogether. Why do you expect the physical sciences to prove the metaphysical? It’s like trying to prove, through science, that your mother loves you.

          • S.

            “It’s like trying to prove, through science, that your mother loves you.” .. If – for example – she locks you in a closet, sexually abuses you and burns you with cigarette ends, then, yes, I think it is scientifically observable that she doesn’t love you. Why do you people ignore observable facts and promote deluded fantasy and then claim that the rest of us are blind because we rely on that which you hate the most .. evidence. ?

            Anyhow, your “ilk” will be pretty much gone in one or two generations anyhow, so it doesn’t really matter.

          • MichelleMarie

            Hmm… weird. I’ve been Catholic all my life and I’ve only ever experienced love. Really. I’ve gone to mass *at least* every Sunday – so that’s thousands of masses – listened to thousands of homilies, have had hundreds of confessions guided by dozens of priests. It is the single most consistent source of love, light, wisdom, beauty, and truth in my life. Sometimes, privately speaking, that truth is a little unwelcome because it goes against my own egotism, misguided pride, and knee-jerk reactions, but it has, at least thus far, always proved to be wise and right if I give it time and introspection.

            But my evidence doesn’t count, I guess. I’m honestly confused about where these insane claims come from.

            Undoubtedly, there are sinners in the church (I’m one) – in fact, everyone is. Undoubtedly, sometimes these sinners choose evil. Undoubtedly, there have been rough historical patches (nothing NEAR the horrors of wholly atheist institutions, though. Through that favourite chestnut of atheists, the Spanish Inquisition, about 100 people died over 300 years. How about them millions purposely starved by Stalin in the Ukraine? ). No one, NO ONE in the church will deny that.

            But the wonder is, in the long run and on a macro scale, the sin of these individuals doesn’t prevail – the love does (as a Catholic I believe this is God). And it’s that that I’ve experienced, all these years, FWIW.

    • Dietrich

      “Mere Christianity”, where Lewis uses the trilemma to prove the divinity of Jesus. If you buy that argument, the teachings of Catholicism should be easy.

  • Hooray! Congratulations and welcome home! I haven’t been a steady reader but have dipped in from time to time and was always impressed with your ability to reason and your unflinching quest for truth, even when truth got uncomfortable. So I’m not surprised to hear that you’re coming over because as my favorite atheist to Catholic saint, Edith Stein, once said: Who seeks truth seeks God. Prayers during the exciting and rocky road ahead.

  • mikespeir

    Humankind evolved under constant threat. Nature has endowed us such that we’re constantly stalked by it, even when there is no present danger. If she hadn’t made us prone to jump when there’s no need, we wouldn’t jump when there is. So this innate skittishness has been vital, essential to the survival of our species. But it’s uncomfortable. We’re always running from it. To the degree we succeed, we’re “happy,” happiness being defined as the relative freedom from this gnawing sense of threat.

    We run from it along two broad routes, routes that intersect a lot. First, we attempt to make ourselves more secure. In other words, we’re always seeking power. Second, we anesthetize ourselves to our insecurities. Each of these ramifies all over the place, so I’ll prune away some of the branches for brevity.

    We’re communal creatures. We seek “safety in numbers.” It makes us feel secure to be surrounded by a force field of people with whom we’ve agreed to agree. Religion takes full advantage of this. Christianity, in particular, has had thousands of years to polish it to a high gloss. But let me warn you of something I’ve noticed, something I was blind to as a Christian. This “warm fuzzy” you get in the company of those with whom you have agreed to agree can be mistaken for belief itself. It is not.

    Furthermore, Pascal was just wrong. He had the thing backward. The chasm he mentioned isn’t an artifact of a Creator, left so we’ll long for him. Oh, sure, there is a psychic hole within us. It’s that very haunting insecurity that has been so uncomfortable and yet so very necessary to our continuance as a species. But it’s “God-shaped” only in the sense that we craft our gods in an attempt to fill it. To the degree we’re successful, we can in fact feel happier.

    Here’s the bottom line. Since it’s ultimately about survival, it’s all about security. That thing we all seek and never can quite find? It’s not, as I was taught, God. It’s security; or, rather, a release from our feelings of insecurity. Christianity has grown quite handy at catering to this need. But however much happier she may feel in her new religious digs, the thinking person will continue to find herself assaulted during quiet moments with the existential, the evidential deficiencies of the Faith. The dissonance can rip her mind to shreds, easily overwhelming all the “feel good” she gains in the company of her new co-religionists.

    Good luck, but I think you’ll be disappointed in the long run.

    • Warm fuzzies are for little kids, and people who don’t have much depth of experience with religion.

      • mikespeir


    • Lily

      I’ve only gotten those “warm fuzzies” once in my 23 years of being Catholic . The rest of the time I have the same range of emotions as I have in school, waiting for the bus, getting in arguments with friends, etc. I’ve never really felt the presence of God as such. I still believe in God; feeling don’t have anything to do with it.

  • JC

    Welcome aboard the good ship (ark, really) Catholicism. I hope that you find the answers to your questions now that you will be studying the Church from within and not only from without. May God grant you peace and joy, and also understanding and faith.

  • Hey Leah – beautiful post, love the way you write and think. It is plain to see that you are one who, above all else, is in Love with Truth. What an adventure, eh? Higher up, further in, and all that! You are in my prayers. Welcome home!

    A brother in Truth, in Christ, and in His Church,
    JonMarc Grodi

  • Jennifer

    Big smiles for you, Leah! God is good. He meets each of us exactly where we are and says simply, “I love you. Come follow Me.” He’ll take care of everything else along the way. God bless you richly, dear lady!
    P.S. Remember to enlist the help and prayers of your Guardian Angel. A truly great ally and helper!

    • guest

      really? is that what you are telling parents of starving children? why is this argument only made to people who are already in a good position? (or just won some sports event?)

      • How do you know she’s in a good position?

  • jen

    I’m not Catholic (I’m Lutheran) but I’m happy for you just the same. I’ve really enjoyed reading what you’ve had to say over the last few years and seeing the process of all of this. (Your Quick Takes are always among my favorites because you find the best things to mention.) May the rest of your journey bring you joy and I look forward to seeing what you have to say over on the Catholic channel.

    Blessings to you.

  • Kristen inDallas

    Yay for you! There is nothing quite like a quest for truth and meaning. One step at a time…

  • Welcome. Be patient with yourself… The Church herself still learns, grows and longs… You are in good company and I will keep this next leg of your jouney in prayer.

  • Emmanuel

    Hey wow this is a big deal! I am really excited, as is the whole Church of all of time and space and beyond, and will be praying for you. One condition though, mind saying a prayer for my grandfather who is being baptised on the 2nd of July? Many thanks!

    As for your arguments – I have not thought of that before, but it strikes an accord with Chesterton’s Everlasting Man, which I am reading atm. I suspect you have read that? Perhaps I can suggest you enlisting his prayers during your time [of trial perhaps ;p] at RCIA, I believe his cause for sainthood has already begun.

  • Metaphid

    Well, when it comes to “moral truth,” you’ve picked a doozy of an institution to attach yourself to. Sheesh. Best of luck.

  • Max

    May best wishes on your quest for truth, God bless you!

    As for your struggle with Catholic teaching regarding SSA, do not forget that there may be a “3rd way” in the debate. Namely, getting government out of licensing marriages altogether. The argument comes from a Libertarian perspective. Message me if you would like to discuss this more!

  • I disagree with your rationale for renouncing atheism for reasons that have already been adequately explained for previous comments. There’s no reason why our moral systems, whether based in virtue, or utilitarian calculus or a categorical imperative should have to be based in some higher reality. Isn’t it enough to say we created morality for ourself simply because we like it? That it is a way of elevating ourselves above the simple desire to eat, sleep, and reproduce and make our lives more worthwhile? Even if that isn’t the case and you do want to posit an absolute, metaphysical basis for ethics, there is no reason why that basis should be at all connected with the existence of an afterlife, or a crucified Jew from Roman-occupied Palestine.

    Furthermore, if you’re concerned about the ultimate origin of morality, then the presence of a god simply moves the problem back a step. Why should you care what God thinks about your conduct? Christianity does not avoid the is/ought problem. There is no reason why a being’s status as the creator of the universe should give it absolute authority over your life. Morality has a degree of arbitrarity to it even if you admit the existence of a supreme being.

    That being said, I understand that your rationale cannot be adequately explained or responded to in this forum, and your conversion was undoubtedly a deeply personal process. What I can’t accept is your specific choice of religion to go into. The Catholic church is probably the most morally corrupt institution on the planet, and is responsible for the systematic marginalization of women and gay people worldwide, the rape of children millions of AIDS deaths in Africa to name a few of the most egregious examples. Even if you ignore that, you are still faced with the fact that in converting to Catholicism you have completely surrendered your powers of moral deliberation. Pope Benedict is explicitly anti-gay rights, anti-women’s rights and anti-science, and as a Catholic you are required to give him absolute authority over your moral deliberations. You can’t possibly be a serious ethical philosopher if you put yourself into this situation.

    I urge you to consider other churches. If the liturgical and scholastic tradition of Catholicism appeals to you, then consider the Anglican church instead. I can respect a religious person, but I cannot respect a person who, having stood in a position where they can see the monstrosity that is the Catholic church, would willingly submit them self to it.

    • Ted Seeber

      ” Isn’t it enough to say we created morality for ourself simply because we like it? ”

      That’s one of the big reasons I reject atheism personally. Because that is NOT enough. That would be great for a libertarian theology of one hermit, but the rest of us have to live in civilization- and that means coming to some form of a shared morality with other people. “Because I like it that way” is no reason to *join in a community of fellow moralists*. It’s a reason to make up your morality on the fly and if it hurts others, well, then you must just like hurting other people. Since other people don’t like being hurt, that’s a great way to end up alone and in a pauper’s grave.

      BTW, the American Fundamentalist Christian’s “Because the Bible Says So” is equally a superficial and ridiculous reason for morality. You’ve just confirmed my suspicion that most atheists learned their morality at the feet of the televangelists- the only difference is that they have different “likes”.

      Did it ever occur to you that Anglicanism is no better? Having split off from Roman Catholicism because the King didn’t like wives who gave birth to girls?

      Now let’s get into your complaints to see how false they are:
      anti-gay rights: LEGITIMATE gay rights are covered by the Courage Apostolate which is supported by the Vatican- I’ve been on protests for them on the subject of AIDS research and against gay bashing and real bigotry. This same sex marriage stuff is really anti-heterosexual bigotry and isn’t legitimate.

      anti-women’s rights: Then why does he pray to Mary? No, what is anti women’s rights is feeding women POISON to take away their FERTILITY and give them CANCER!

      anti-science: There’s a reason why Pope Benedict XVI is known in Europe as the Green Pope, and why Vatican City became the first carbon neutral country in the world. I suggest you look it up.

      So basically, you come across as a superficial git whose morality depends entirely on what feels good at the moment rather than what is right and just; and you can’t even get your facts straight. Is there any reason *ANYBODY* should listen to you? Of course not, because morality is just subjective individual likes. If I decide tomorrow not to be Catholic and that I like gay bashing, that’s just fine with you right?

      • I strongly disagree with the implication that it’s impossible for humans to agree on a moral framework without a god-figure supporting and enforcing that moral framework. That society functions at all, across a myriad of different political and religious beliefs, is proof that it is not the moral free-for-all you’re implying. And if religion DOES provide a definitive support of morality, then why are there still moral debates, conflicts, and failings among the religious and within their own communities? If it doesn’t fix the problem, then what’s the point?

        • Ted Seeber

          It’s not an implication, it is an observed fact. It’s the reason for the Protestant Reformation, for the Treaty of Westphalia, for the trouble in the Kashmir Valley, and so many other problems that I can’t even begin to name them all.

          And the United States, as a society, cannot be called functional. At all.

      • “‘Because I like it that way’ is no reason to *join in a community of fellow moralists*. It’s a reason to make up your morality on the fly and if it hurts others, well, then you must just like hurting other people. Since other people don’t like being hurt, that’s a great way to end up alone and in a pauper’s grave.”
        You’ve just answered your own question. The fact that people don’t like being hurt and will respond accordingly is exactly the thing that knits us into a moral community which deliberates over just conduct, rather than the collection of narcissistic individuals you have described. That, and empathy. Most human beings have a powerful intuitive sense of how their actions will affect others. For those people who lack this, or overrule it for selfish reasons, we have the police.

        “BTW, the American Fundamentalist Christian’s “Because the Bible Says So” is equally a superficial and ridiculous reason for morality.”
        The only difference between “because the bible says so” and “Because the pope says so” is that the pope is still alive, so we can see the moral failures that undermine his authority. At least the bible and the protestants who depend on it hide their morality’s flawed origins in the past.

        “Did it ever occur to you that Anglicanism is no better? Having split off from Roman Catholicism because the King didn’t like wives who gave birth to girls?”
        Genetic fallacy. Just because the Church of England came from a homicidal king’s desire to get a divorce doesn’t mean that it currently embodies that character. In any case, your history is wrong. I can’t really blame you for that, as it is the most common understanding of the history of the Anglican Church, but protestant currents existed in England before Henry VIII. All he did was to grant them the legitimacy of the state.

        ” This same sex marriage stuff is really anti-heterosexual bigotry and isn’t legitimate.”
        Are you serious? Did you actually just say that? Allowing two people who love each other to commit to that love for the rest of their lives is somehow oppressing heterosexuals? Forgive the cliche, but if you don’t like gay marriages then you are free to not have one.

        ” Then why does he pray to Mary? No, what is anti women’s rights is feeding women POISON to take away their FERTILITY and give them CANCER!”
        I’m not sure if you’re referring to contraceptives or abortificants here, but you’re equally wrong on both counts. First, women feed themselves these drugs and are perfectly capable of assessing the risks themselves. Second, I don’t know why you put ‘fertility’ in all caps-taking it away is kinda the point of these things, but I assure you it can be restored fairly easily if a woman decides she wants to have a child. Third, there is no scientific evidence to support what you are suggesting.

        And praying to a long-dead supposed virgin mother is not an endorsement of women’s rights. In fact, the idea that Mary is made holy by her ability to have a child while remaining a virgin has some deeply problematic anti-sex misogyny built into it.

        “There’s a reason why Pope Benedict XVI is known in Europe as the Green Pope, and why Vatican City became the first carbon neutral country in the world. I suggest you look it up.”
        I didn’t know about that and if it is indeed the case, then it is indeed a good thing. But eliminating the carbon emissions of a handful of blocks of Rome does not offset the damage caused by promoting the idea in Africa that condoms cause AIDS. That little bit of anti-science has killed millions, and whatever protests you might make about it are rendered ineffective because at the end of the day, you still grant absolute moral authority to the person making these pronouncements.
        Also I’ll remind you that the church didn’t acknowledge that Galileo was right about the solar system until 1992. If that’s not anti-science then I don’t know what is.

        • Ted Seeber

          The problem with all of that is it isn’t “Because the Pope says so”. And your science about Condoms is utterly false, proven wrong by objective tests in Consumer Reports.

          As for Galileo- what you’ve missed is that he was wrong. Still. His math was off.

          • Is the pope not infallible under Catholic doctrine?
            What consumer reports are you referring to?
            Galileo’s math was off, yes. In fact, his model of the solar system still had fundamental errors beyond mere arithmetic. But the Church only acknowledged the truth of helio-centrism 20 years ago.

          • Ted Seeber

            The doctrine of infallibility is mainly about when the Pope IS wrong, rather than when he is right. Basically, he’s right in such a small number of circumstances that in 2000 years there have only been 7 times that the Pope could even remotely be called infallible.

            The Consumer Reports I’m referring to is the magazine, which basically said that the best, most expensive condoms in the world have a 3% failure rate. The ones that Planned Parenthood sends to the third world to prevent AIDS has a 40% failure rate.

            Finally, on your charge that the church only acknowledged the truth of helio-centerism 20 years ago, then why was Copernicus’s model mentioned as a possible alternative explanation that the Church had already accepted *during Galileo’s trial*?

          • Chris

            RE Galileo being wrong, take a few minutes to read this essay by Isaac Asimov.

            FWIW Galileo was still tied to the idea that God created the universe to a degree of “perfection” that required the orbits to be perfectly circular. This is wrong, yes, but orders of magnitude less wrong than heliocentricity.

            It also doesn’t explain why it took the RCC 350 years to say “oops, we had that one wrong”…

  • Dear Leah,

    I found your blog only a day or so ago, but you immediately became my Favorite Internet Atheist. My personal faith is very mystical but I enjoy exploring it intellectually; I am a fan of virtue ethics; I am always on the lookout for a smart atheist blogger who can approach issues of religion with respect.

    A small part of me is disappointed that you can no longer be that blogger, but a much larger part of me is happy for your happiness! In one of life’s odd coincidences, you are the second blogger I have encountered just as they were leaving their former system of beliefs for uncharted territory. The other was Jason Stellman of Creed, Code, Cult, and he received an enormous amount of pushback. Another blogger I follow, Daniel Kirk, wrote him this open letter Anything pastoral or supportive I might say is already there (although the parallel, of course, is not exact).

    I am a cradle Catholic and I chose to leave the faith very deliberately, given a number of deep political, moral, and theological disagreements. Nevertheless, I wish you well in the Church; I know from experience that it can nurture spirituality and provide a good theological framework. I am very interested to read your further writing and reflections. I may no longer be Catholic (baptism aside), but I do believe in that we are all members of a universal Church, and so: with all my heart, welcome!


  • Izzy

    Sarah, how do you square misogyny of the RCC with moral beliefs? It just puzzles me.

    • I’m not Sarah, but the answer is simple. There is no misogyny in the RCC.

      • S.

        There is no misogyny in the RCC. A woman priest told me.

    • Ted Seeber

      In fact, I’d say there is a lot more misogyny in Planned Parenthood and the 1970s era aging feminists-who-hate-children than there is in the RCC.

  • I’m late to the party but welcome home (Tiber swim team 2007 for me). I have discovered that the inside is way bigger than it looked from the outside.

    Also, I now have to find another reasonable atheist to follow to keep my ‘open-minded’ credentials. 😉

    Finally, I have some excellent Catholic friends in DC (orthodox) including some who are connected to the USCCB and while I know you don’t know me please feel free to drop me an email and I will happily make the introductions.

  • Leah,
    Please give Eastern Christianity a chance before you “jump into the Tiber.” I was baptized in the Roman church but I found my home in the East. Here’s a nice place to start if you want to have a look:

    Best wishes to you and all your readers.

  • And here I was, about to link to you as an example of the “honest unbeliever with no axe to grind.” It probably wouldn’t have been much of a post, anyway. ^_^

    Congratulations, Ms. Libresco! I know you’re not officially in the door yet, and you have all kinds of difficulties to resolve. These things take time, and sometime’s they’re quite painful. Still, the Prodigal Son’s dad didn’t wait for him to get in the door before running to embrace him. In that spirit, permit me to offer you a pre-emptive but heartfelt welcome home, and the assurance of my and my family’s prayers.

  • Junshin

    All right! Remember…according to the Simpsons, “Catholic” heaven is way more fun than “protestant” heaven. 😉
    Seriously though, Welcome Home!
    If you ever get a chance to visit, the monks at the They do an awesome vespers–in the dark!

  • Leah. Welcome to the deep end of the pool. I wish you the best of luck….and for the love of God, don’t stop questioning things. Ever.

    I reverted back to the Catholic Church after a similar study of my atheist assumptions….and coming back to the Church was something I never thought I’d do.

    btw…it took me 8 months of philosophical study to accept their teachings on homosexuality..and yes, the Church is dead right on that count as well. My email is there if you want to get more details on my conclusions here.

  • Cafeeine

    It’s always hard to follow your search into paths that will cause controversy, so I think you should be commended in following what you see as the truth, despite the inevitable confrontations. As an atheist, I obviously don’t agree with your current path, but it’s always through deliberation that we can come at the truth, no matter where the road takes us in the meantime. Keep following your search where it takes you with an open mind.

  • datadev1

    I can’t help but feel like I am hearing from someone who has such great potential and self worth which has been clean for so long has just fallen off the wagon returned to drug use. As a former addict aka Catholic I’m very saddened. Acceptancee is such a powerful draw. Good luck to you.

  • Ted Seeber

    “This post isn’t the final word on my conversion.”

    And with that sentence, I know you’ve crossed the Tiber- not just from atheism into theism, but from American Fundamentalism (which the atheists are *RIGHT* to criticize) into Catholicism. No Once Saved Always Saved garbage for you- no sudden assurance of salvation beyond which you cannot sin even if you kill hobos for fun and have a homosexual lover on the side. Nope, you’re into the “working out my salvation in fear and trembling” camp- where you can be morally certain of salvation in the end if you persevere. Or to paraphrase CS Lewis in _The Great Divorce_, if you make it to heaven, then it was just purgatory. Only if you stay there is it hell.

    Your doubts are natural and believe me, every Catholic I know shares them. Oh, maybe not the same subject- but the doubts in general. Obedience is what carries us through when our own spirits fail to live up to the ideals.

  • fats

    oh great, another intellectual woman that will probably make my brain explode… lol
    Welcome to the ride of your life in His Church.. having converted from atheism at age 30, about 36 years ago, i can attest to the fact that it NEVER gets boring or old.

  • Ken

    Leah, unlike Athena springing fully formed from Zeus’ forehead, the Catholic faith requires time to germinate and grow in each believer. And, I doubt it ever becomes fully formed in anyone during their lifetime. It can be a struggle because the faith puts its believers at odds with so much of today’s conventional wisdom. Hang in there. You have many people praying for you and who will be delighted should you complete your journey home to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

    • Ted Seeber

      If it became fully formed in anybody’s lifetime- there would be no need for purgatory.

      For all who claim some other denomination would be better, are you forgetting why this blog is called “unequally yoked”? Hint: a big part of Leah’s conversion is wanting to be EQUALLY yoked with a future spouse!

  • Welcome Home, Leah!! God bless your journey!!

  • Patrick

    Congratulations! I’ll pray for you forever.

  • Ned Carter

    If you have decided to draw your morals from the god of Catholicism, I pity you. You want to know where morals come from? You want to know how we get them? It is simply empathy and sympathy. We KNOW that murder is wrong because we do not want to die (therefor making someone else dead is wrong). We know that being abusive hurts. We know violence is wrong because we do not want to b violated. We know that lies are wrong because we have been lied to. We know that hurting someone emotionally is wrong because we experience it. We do not need the god of the crusades, the inquisition, the current church of hiding pedophiles, the current church of teaching ignorance of sex. AIDS kills people, AIDS is preventable, catholics refuse to help… what moral teaching is that? Babies born into the poorest families starve and die, preventable by a nickles worth of plastic… the church teaches they should die because god loves all babies, and hates sex not for procreation… what moral teaching is that? Pick a better compass. Child rapists, murderers, gluttonous officials wearing clothes that cost more than VILLAGES MAKE IN A YEAR… you should probably look into the word MORAL, i think you misunderstand its meaning.

    • Ted Seeber

      Condoms won’t protect you from AIDS: All it takes is a manufacturing defect and you’re back in danger.

      • S.


        Pure drivel. Just because a load of agenda-ridden crap is accompanied by some colorful charts does not make it any less agenda-ridden crap.

        • S., can you dispute the data provided?

          • S.

            Look around this thread and the internet in general and you will see plenty conflicting data. You and I both know that there is far more available data that conflicts with what the CRS says than confirms it. Admittedly, volume of data is not necessarily – of itself – a validation of the premise upon which the data is based, but I think it is a bit disingenuous of you to challenge me on where the contradictory dta is. I suspect we are both internet-savvy enough to go and find it if we want.

            More to the point .. Tell you what, JoAnna, why dont you do what no catholic seems prepared to do .. answer an unqualified yes or no to the question .. do you believe that NOT using a condom provides more protection against the diseases of which we speak than WEARING one does? Any chance of a one word answer?

  • Douglas Naaden

    Congrats! Vivo Cristo Rey!

    If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me

  • Thank you for the courage, humility, and intergrity it took to do this, and thank the Lord for gently and patiently leading you home. Yes, welcome home, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

  • Wow, and welcome.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg

    First of all, I wish you the best on your journey.

    I don’t think that religion offers a viable answer to where “good” comes from, but given how hard the question is, many roads need to be explored.

    I also hope that you will stay engaged with the atheist community. Although I’ve never liked your dualism, I know that I need to be reminded of how unsatisfying my own materialistic view is. Please continue to keep me questioning that.



  • Bill M.

    Congratulations to a woman of integrity.

  • Nelson de los santos

    Bienvenuta a casa!

  • Stephen Blakeman

    God bless you. Welcome home!

  • Matt

    Welcome! I’m a cradle Catholic, but I’ve had a conversion of sorts this past year as I’ve grown more serious about my faith! I’ll try to keep you in my prayers as you continue in your journey! The best advice I have is that conversion is not a one time affair; every day you must strive to convert yourself more and more to Christ. This past year I’ve found the sacrament of confession to be the key to doing this.

    I agree that the teaching on homosexuality can be hard to understand at times, but what helps me to understand it best is thinking the Church’s teaching on sexuality as a whole. In light of the Church’s teaching on contraception, the teaching against homosexual acts isn’t discriminatory, it is just the application of the same principal, as laid out in Humanae Vite (definitely a recommended read if you haven’t already). Of course the most important thing to remember is that we must love everyone! Anyway, I’ll leave you to learning about all the aspects of the Catholic faith!

    God bless you!

  • Mary

    If this is a repeat, sorry, my internet went wonky in the middle of writing…

    Welcome Home Leah! Continued prayers for you on your journey.

    As I’ve been reading the comments, most friendly, some not, I have been struck, being the professional historian, on the attacks that you’re joining the Church of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the burning of heretics, up through the Holocaust… My urge is to provide the historical context that is often completely ignored… or counter with mentioning St. Francis of Assisi, St. Maximillien Kolbe, and countless others.

    But you know what, I’m not going to do that. Members of the Church have done, and I’m sure, are continuing to do as I write this, horrible things in Her Name. And in some sense, I, we, all of humanity are responsible for that because we all have responsibility to our fellow humans. I would like to think that I’d be the Catholic who would have opened her doors to the fleeing Jews in Nazi Germany, but I’m not so sure, and I know I’m the Catholic that too often ignores the homeless that people the streets of DC.

    But the Church is the best place I’ve found to help me counteract these tendencies in myself, and to forgive them in other people precisely because, given a different historical location in time and space, I would perhaps be doing the burning, or even be the burned. It is the place I can show mercy, despite myself, because mercy has been shown to me.

    So I am humbled to hear of another joining on the path of God’s Mercy, and I look forward to hearing more of whatever Leah chooses to share of her journey.

  • Elizabeth

    Welcome Home! I came back to the Catholic Church about 11 years ago… And I’m never leaving. May your journey be blessed and beautiful.

  • Welcome home!

  • Dear Leah,

    I am very happy to hear this news, and I wish you all the best for your new journey. I imagine this must be quite a difficult experience in so many respects (epistemologically, spiritually, mentally, socially) and I wish you the strength to make it through. I wish you all the best, and my thoughts and prayers will be with you.


  • Sebastian

    Hey Leah,
    Vieles könnte ich ertragen,
    Ohne nur ein Wort zu sagen.
    Aber als ich dies erfuhr,
    Ging’s mir wider die Natur!

    Freely translated: Never mind that you – through some kind of belief in dualism and absolute morality – would convert to theism. I would get that. An atheist becoming a theist? Well, I don’t really understand it, but I can accept it. Okay. May happen.
    But: Catholicism??? That is impossible!
    Recently there were calls to Catholics that they should leave the church when they don’t really support its teachings and then you convert to Catholicism? So… either you are not “a true Catholic” or you went from atheism to some sort of personified Morality to virgin birth. Seriously? Virgin birth? Saints? Bodily ascension of Mary into the heavens? Rising of the dead? The Holy Trinity? Crackers turning into ACTUALL flesh of a dead Jew? And then the whole doctrine of Christianity: Christ as a blood sacrifice to himself (God) in order to create a loophole so people can get into heaven even though Eve took the apple from the snake? I could go on and on. What about hell? Abortion? Homosexuality? Condoms? Premarital sex? Celibacy? Sexism? The Pope?! Do you now entrust *the Pope* with moral questions?
    Please clear things up for me. Why Catholicism? It doesn’t make any sense. You would know that. You were already freed from indoctrination. You were able to see the outrageously insane beliefs of Catholics for what they are. And now you believe all that because of Morality?
    I really don’t want to come off as hostile against you. I’m not. I just want to understand.
    Whatever your answer, I wish you all the best!

    • Ted Seeber

      If the Doctrine is true, why would one want to be “freed from indoctrination” into lies?

      • Sebastian

        I would not want to be *indoctrinated* at all. Truth or otherwise. Only then can you freely choose what you want to believe.

        And as a sidenote: How is not believing in, say, virgin birth (and saying so) a lie? It could only be one when I secretly believed it to be true but denied it due to some sinister agenda of mine.

  • Congratulations on the continuation of your journey. This is very exciting! I just finished the RCIA process and am coming from an evangelical background.

  • Steve

    Certainly I’ll be interested to hear your explication in depth as the weeks go on; I’ve been reading Chesterton to understand this mindset for years now, but may as an artifact of his time, while his writing is delightful, he’s awfully short on reasons. So, maybe a modern voice can at least bring clarity to the matter.

    As an atheist who wishes desperately that the fairy tales were true, I laud your courage to at least respond to the call in your heart, however you arrived at that motivation, and then follow through and share that with the skeptical community you once belonged to.

  • I actually agree that Christianity (or religions in general) makes the most sense of morality. But what about everything else? This is a subtle base rate fallacy. It’s like someone saying that surviving some disease given altruistic aliens is higher than surviving some disease given random chance. But the prior probability of altruistic aliens is exceedingly low, and that conditional isn’t enough to raise belief in altruistic aliens to a respectable level.

    It may be true that P(Morality | Christianity) > P(Morality | atheism), but this doesn’t mean that P(Christianity) > P(atheism). You would need to take a — *ahem* — catholic approach to all of the evidence.

  • George

    He died for you, even if you were to be the only one. You will find that those last few questions you have will come to light. Just keep your heart open first and your mind will soon follow. When I converted, I had them too. I said to my self that I will except all the teaching, even if I cannot rap my mind around it. Than was key to full understanding over time. Truly the Holy Spirit is there to help.

  • Ellen

    Welcome, Leah, and best wishes on your journey. The Church needs thoughtful people like yourself, and if you read Church history, many of her most powerful advocates began as questioners and challengers.

  • Freedom2Be

    Welcome. Wherever you are or choose to be on your spiritual path, or a path of non-belief, welcome.

    Regarding Catholicism and homosexuality, a book quoted in part below might help. Keep also in mind that many nuns stand firmly with LGBTQ people of faith. Take care and keep in touch,
    -F2B (“Freedom Toobe” on Facebook)

    A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality
    By Gareth Moore
    Continuum International Publishing Group, New York, 2003
    see also

    p 281
    If we summarize the results of our investigations, the conclusions are simple to state and substantiate the thesis put forward in the preface: if we look for cogent biblical or natural-law arguments against homosexual relationships and acts in general, we can’t find them: there aren’t any. There are plenty which look faithful to Scripture and compellng in their logic, but noone which actually are. We must be careful in assessing what this conclusion does and does not entail. It does not entail that it is good to be gay and that Christian moral teachers who teach otherwise are wrong. It entails that there is no good reason for thinkng otherwise. Somebody may yet discover a cogent proof for the immorality of homosexuality, but if the application of fine minds has not discovered one after all this time, we are antitled to think that there is no such argument to be found.

    • Here’s where Mr. Moore goes wrong:

      “I don’t agree with the cogent proofs presented for the immorality of homosexuality” =/= “Cogent proofs presented for the immorality of homosexuality don’t exist.”

      • MaxDWolf

        Nonetheless, the onus is upon those making the claim to provide said proof. I’ve been exposed to enough such attempts that I may be forgiven my skepticism that such a proof is just out there waiting to be found.

  • Hi Leah.
    From one convert to another,
    Welcome home!
    Now, the fun begins. 🙂

  • JackOCat

    Curious for more about why you specifically chose Catholicism over a more progressive/tolerant/inclusive Christian sec? Is it the tradition/history, formal hierarchy, theological study community?

    I’d also like to hear about your how you reconcile your presumably progressive views with the following: Institutionalized Misogyny (No female Priests etc.), Dangerous views on birth control (woman’s health/AIDS/Over population), Anti-homosexuality(Marriage), rampant corruption at the highest levels of the church and your churches belief that non Christians suffer forever in hell.

    Are you planning on being a moderate Catholic who ignores the church’s directives on the above issues and just picks and choose\ which parts of the religion works for you? I’m not judging, just curious.

    • Why don’t you find out what the Catholic Church actually teaches (and why) as opposed to what you think it teaches? For example, the Catholic Church does not teach that non-Christians suffer forever in hell. In fact, the Church teaches the opposite (see here).

      • JackOCat

        He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. -Mark 16:16

        We can trade interpenetrations on verses like the above until the end of time, but the fact is that throughout the crusades and inquisition (which in some parts of the world lasted until the 20th century) many people were read these sorts of excepts and then told exactly where they were about to be spending the next several trillion years or so… before being promptly sent there.

        Maybe that is not your interpretation, but it has been the interpretation of much of the church hierarchy for the past 1000 years or so.

        • The Catholic Church does not adhere to the doctrine of sola scriptura (scripture alone). Perhaps you should learn more about Catholicism, and what it actually teaches, before you condemn it.

          • JackOCat

            I guess you have it all figured out. An ancient tome of wisdom that can be reinterpreted as needed so that your point of view is correct in all discussions. Anyone who points out controversy with your sect regarding its current policies or those of the preceding millennia clearly just doesn’t know enough about it. I understand now. Thanks for the clarification.

      • MaxDWolf

        You seem to be ignoring the “if” part in there. I am a non-Christian not because I am ignorant of the promises of Christianity, but because I am unconvinced of the claims. Further, I revel in such things as are described as sins (such as non-procreative sex). I’m pretty sure my fate in the hereafter according to your faith will not be a pleasant one.

    • leahlibresco

      Tomorrow’s post!

      (Well, it’ll at least be a start on this)

      • Emily

        I would also really like to know this. I would’ve liked to convert to Catholicism, frankly, but I can’t in all honesty sign on knowing that I will continue to disagree with, and outright disobey, some teachings. (Sexuality-specific ones, not shockingly. I think it would make me a *less* compassionate person to have to change my mind about homosexual relationships and start saying they are sinful and wrong, or to say that couples should not take chemical or mechanical precautions to avoid having children even if it’s not something they can handle at the moment for a variety of reasons. My conscience is pretty strong on these issues, I don’t find the idea that our consciences can be warped by sin and must be reshaped to fit with abstract reasoning about natural law to be anything but horrifying and lacking in empathy in these cases.)

        Apparently, lots of people raised Catholic are fine with disagreeing with these…but can you really, officially convert while holding in rebellion against church teachings? Are other denominations an option, or is Catholicism your only possibility? Or do you plan to re-form your conscience on these issues, and if so, how do you explain that? Do you think your moral intuitions are wrong?

        Honestly, I don’t say this to be argumentative. I say it as a non-Catholic Christian who feels like I’ll never be able to take that step.

        • JackOCat

          Your conflict is what I find most fascinating about the Catholic Church and to a lesser extent the Anglican Church. They are so centralized and authoritarian that it fascinates me that entire countries practically can continue to identify with the church while completely ignoring some of its centralized directives. (E.G. Latin America and Contraception)

          With the more decentralized flavours of Christianity it seems much similar physiologically and ethically to just agree to disagree with a given preacher on a certain issue knowing that across that church’s clergy almost nothing is going to be entirely consistent.

          On further thought, I guess the Catholic Church has the confession practice which I guess is a sanctioned way to clear a lot of the conflicting behaviour of one’s conscience, though it would not really help for people who fundamentally disagree with a directive.

          • Emily

            Yes…you can’t really *repent* for something you are not sorry for.

  • Don Gwinn

    I think I’ll just reserve judgment on this. I haven’t read all the comments, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that this announcement immediately follows the “Turing Test” project where people tried to pass as atheists, as Catholics, etc.
    And now, the atheist blogger has announced that she’s actually a Catholic and will presumably start trying to use Catholic language to discuss Catholic concepts . . . . . she will attempt to convince people that she’s a genuine Catholic . . . . hmm.

    None of that proves that this lady hasn’t converted or that she isn’t a Catholic . . . . it’s just that everything you’re saying right now is indistinguishable from what you’d be saying if the whole thing was actually an elaborate Turing Trolling you were doing on a dare.
    Just saying.

    • leahlibresco

      No, I was just waiting to wrap that up before I announced. I was running this year’s competition while I was out of the country, and I couldn’t announce til I got back, because I was sure as heck not doing this while I was on vacation or about to go. So Turing filled the gap, and the announcement came right after.

    • Cous

      Given that she got Patheos to put her in the Catholic Channel (see the breadcrumbs at the top of the page for confirmation), it would be an elaborate hoax indeed…also, I don’t think Leah would betray her readers’ trust this extensively, making multiple posts that reinforce her assertion that she is converting, referencing real-life conversations (as confirmed by friends in the comboxes), etc. However, you are quite justified in waiting a little longer to pass judgment.

  • MJP

    I am a little surprised at how happy this made me. I first came across your blog about a year ago, when I was finding myself increasingly drawn to Catholicism after many years of agnosticism. I have never commented, but I have read your blog regularly. It seems to me that you have truly been reaching out to God with an open heart and mind, and it distressed me to imagine that He would not reach out to help you along. I have been amazed to discover that God really does provide the soul with the daily bread it needs, and I hope you will find the same. Also, keep praying the Liturgy of the Hours! It is great…

  • Andrew Alexander

    What do you mean?! You’ve got utilitarianism! Universal ethics!

  • To sum up: Leah, who-was-never-really-a-proper-atheist-and-is-now-a-believer-in-God-but-oh-no-please-anthing-but-Catholicism!,is moving her blog to the Patheos Catholic portal and will continue to challenge both sides of the debate. Must be the end of the World! Oh, Leah! Cue Roy Orbison!

  • I’ll be praying for you!

  • Ken

    For some TRUTH about Pope Pius XII and his actions to protect the Jewish people, please go to:
    All of the criticism of the Church I read here brings Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s words to mind:
    “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

  • Mallory

    Wow! Great post, thank you so much for sharing Leah! May God bless you as you continue to search for the Truth! Also, yay for Mumford & Sons and hugs 🙂 I hope it was “Awake my Soul.”

  • Tom C

    God bless you Leah! My wife converted 6 years ago, and from personal experience I tell you that the Holy Spirit is very close to you right now! Pray and expect miracles to happen as your prayers will be answered – maybe not the way you expect so keep your eyes open. Explore the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux and ask for her intercessions. My wife cried at the beauty of her writing, and we received PROOF of her intercession.

  • S.

    Published today ..

    Leah, this is what happens when your loving, caring new catholic friends encounter someone doing the opposite to what you just did .. welcome to their world ..


    I am 16 years old and an atheist. I was raised Catholic, my father is a Catholic, my mother a Lutheran, and I went to Sunday School, all of that, for quite some time. My great-uncle is even a Catholic priest. For a time, I was happy being Catholic. My brother always enjoyed it, and it’s just the religion most of the people in our small town practice. But, I always had my doubts. It wasn’t until age 12 that I really started to lose faith in it. I never told my parents; I thought it wasn’t a big deal.

    About two years ago, I was to be confirmed in the Catholic church. That was when things started going downhill. I didn’t want to lie; it was disrespectful to the religion, myself and my family. I knew my father wasn’t the person to consult about religious matters; he’s a very single-minded man. Instead, I went to my mom. I told her I didn’t want to be confirmed in my father’s church, and she asked me why. I told her I did not believe in any of it, and she kind of started to poke fun at it. She tried negotiating with me! At first, she asked me if I would at least believe in some sort of god. Then she offered to let me be a Lutheran…completely missing my point. When I asked her to be serious, she just said that we would talk about after I was confirmed. I tried dropping the topic on my father…it didn’t really get anywhere. The priest in confession was more open-minded than they were, but he still only suggested I talk to my parents about it. In the end, I had to lie to the church and get confirmed, and now, some people will not believe me when I say I’m an atheist because I was confirmed. It felt forced, and I felt terrible.

    I understand they may think it’s just a phase. I get that. It’s been almost four years since I’ve reached these conclusions. I believe this. I’m fine with my parents having different beliefs. What I’m not fine with is when they yell at me for not knowing certain terms I was supposed to learn in Sunday School and getting upset when they ask me to go to church. I go for Easter and Christmas out of respect, but I can’t stand going any other time. It just doesn’t feel right.

    They make fun of me. They yell at me. They don’t accept me. I’m comfortable with what I believe in; my friends all accept it, and they know it’s not a phase because they accept me, even the Christian ones. The way things are going with my parents, especially my father, just doesn’t feel good for our relationship. Every time they poke fun at me, I feel myself getting farther and farther away from them. They won’t accept who I am, and it’s beginning to make me feel like they don’t care about me. Sometimes, and I don’t want to sound sensitive, it makes me cry in private. I want to be an open-minded, accepting person. They’re just making me resent the Christian religion and…well, people in general. That’s not what I want. That doesn’t make me happy, and I’m not happy. Yet, they do not notice. One of my teachers noticed how it was impacting me, and she’s been comforting to a degree; she’s just not my mom. They don’t even see that I’m upset; they don’t even notice when they’ve gone too far or say anything when I feel like crying. If they do, then that just makes me feel like they hate me. What should I do? How do I make them understand? At the very least, how do make myself happy? I can’t take this.

    I really need this advice from someone who knows what they are saying. Thank you; this is greatly appreciated.

    • Yes, 100% of Catholics sin and fail to live up to the teachings of their Church. That’s why we have the sacrament of Reconciliation. Some Catholics acting horribly does not then invalidate the Church’s teachings.

      Given that you believe data is the plural form of anecdote, here’s another:

      • S.

        Once again JoAnna, you just don’t get it. You are becoming tiresome. The letter is not intended as an anecdote and your patronizing and incorrect statement about my belief that data is a plural of anecdote is stupid. I feel unlikely to learn anything of importance from a website ridiculously entitled “CatholicSistas”, so if u dont mind, I’ll backburn getting educated there.

        The letter, far from an anecdote, is just one example of something that both you, your frankly scarily twisted pro-catholic co-posters on this thread, and I know is a very prevalent view among you catholics (and among moslems/jews/hindus etc, since all of you can be lumped together when it comes to your level of tolerance of opposing views) and thats why I inserted a copy into the conversation. Its a mirror to your whole religion and all its sad adherents who accept its preposterous, sadistic teachings, not to just one set of cruel, crackpot parents.

  • Pareidolius

    We all just want to be loved unconditionally by someone, especially if love and cherishing has been on the thin side in our family lives. The god concept, even an impersonal, vague, new agey god can fill that hole . . . for a while. That longing and seduction can overwhelm reason. I searched for a long time for that and only stopped when I realized that the universe really is meaningless and that’s okay. It was in that existential meaningless that my own meaning, my personal meaning became utterly inviolate. No gods would judge me. I wasn’t doing it wrong. I wasn’t sinful or bad. Sadly, I would die and cease to exist, but I was alive now, a part of the impossibly vast, ancient, amazing and frankly rather hostile to life universe. A tiny fragment with the astonishing emergent property of consciousness and self-awereness. The universe is enough for me now, and the peace and belonging I searched for thrives in the scientific underpinnings of the cosmos. I know a lot about longing, fear and human frailty, but I’m truly sorry you chose an institution with an incredibly tiny vision of the universe based on conformity, oppression, judgement and cheap magic tricks.

  • texas+ranger

    Well, morality fits very well in our evolution of tribal nature. Read about sacrificing oneself in animal kingdom, or south american tribes in 19 century. When electricity and chemistry starts to break free in our brains, shit happens! Simple brain injury can change our morals, sexual orientation, everything. Also I’d love to know why people assume morality is law, not something closed in our heads. It obviously is VERY adjusted when one is growing up, because it’s extremely subjective, but still, no one is “equally moral” like everybody are equally pressed to earth by gravity.
    If “moral laws” are so weak, then I don’t want to know how weak is someone who “invented” them.

  • Forgive me for withholding my “welcome home” until you’re actually received into the Catholic Church on some Easter Vigil, but it certainly is welcome news that you’ve made the decision to seriously discern the Catholic faith.

    I’m happy to see that you’ve seen the light on virtue ethics. I also agree that there is a solid connection between one’s metaphysics and one’s ethical system. I encourage you to explore the mystery of the Trinity. IMHO, Frank Sheed has supplied the clearest explanation of the Trinity at the apologetic level, but perhaps you might want to go deeper.

    In The Everlasting Man, Chesterton describes the Christian as possessing a key. That was certainly true of my own return to the Church. The Catholic key opened so many doors of Truth. But even more fantastic than enlightenment, was my discovery that my conversion was more than a mere search for Truth, it was a love story.

    You’ll be in my prayers.

    Peace, Bob

  • Do I continue to evolve past the crazy traditions and superstitions of primitive cultures? Embrace science, skepticism, critical thinking, curiosity, reason and common sense?

    Nah, Praise Jeebus!

  • JoyfromIllinois

    Congratulations, and welcome! Have really good people to guide you – those that love and live the Teaching. It’s a good sign to start with the Liturgy of the Hours and St. Patrick breastplate. I’m sure you will enjoy Scott Hahn, Fr. Robert Barron, and the writings of Blessed JohnPaul II and Pope Benedict. In Conversations with God by Ferdinand Fernandez is very good. The Saints are great roll models, and EWTN is a gem. Many blessings, and welcome home. You are in my prayers!

  • David Ferguson

    Grace abounds. Praise God!

  • A friend of mine recommended this entry to me, probably because I just recently posted my conversion/deconversion story online. (

    I don’t really understand where your conviction that moral law has to be part of the fabric of the universe comes from. The way you described is basically special pleading. It’s almost like you said “morality HAS to be absolute, it simply can not be dependent on the human brain or on a collective understanding on what types of things are helpful and harmful.” You didn’t really give us an exemption for why your new position doesn’t require evidence.

    I think about it this way – if we learned that God really existed, and that he supported baby-rape, would you worship him? No? Why not? If morality comes from God and if God supports baby-rape then you should have no problem with baby-rape. The reason we wouldn’t worship such a God is because morality actually exists outside of any sort of God you can conceive of. That’s right, we already have the moral tools to judge deities. My hypothetical situation beats your overblown sense of moral objectivism. Morality is objective… just not in that way and to that extent.

    At any rate, in our world right now Atheism isn’t for everybody. It’s hard to be an oppressed minority. It is even harder to publicly talk about atheism on a regular basis. Your position is usually negative, and people often feel as if you are attacking them. I suspect that the reason for your new-found religious conviction is not a purely logical one. In fact I suspect it is primarily an emotional one. As someone who used to be a very strong Christian it is very hard for me to judge anyone for this. As a christian you might have an easier life. You’ll just have to live with the nagging feeling that the things that the people around you are saying are faith-based rather than reality-based.

    Also, how do you know you chose the right religion? Catholicism in particular has a very long history of doing just about everything wrong. If you really have to satisfy your religious cravings I’d suggest Unitarian Universalism. Then you can believe in god… or not… but still no one will judge you or make you feel unwelcome.

  • JoyfromIllinois

    @ Bob L. Beautifully stated! Thank you!

  • seba

    I wonder, WHY ON EARTH CATHOLICISM? As an atheist you should know roman catholic church history, dark ages, bible fabrications, happy gangbangs in 16-17 century monasteries, great prostitution bum during nicean council, badmouthing philosophers/races by church fathers and saints (poor Lucretius and jews), burning and changing what didn’t fit dogmas (Origen, another poor fellow who got excommunicated yet some of his works were fabricated to turn his followers :)) – you are looking MORALITY IN THIS MESS? Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism everything is more moral than christianity, open your eyes poor girl.

  • “They usually diverge back around the bit where I assert morality, like math, is objective and independent of humans. ”

    I am confident that you will not see this one comment lost among so many others, but just in case you do, allow me as one ex-atheist to another to offer my congratulations. One thing that drove me out of the barrenness of atheist into the warmth of the Church was that I took it as obvious, a self-demonstrating proposition, that objective morality must exist.

    My argument for the objectivity of morals was that (1) if twice two is four is true no matter who observes it, the observation is independent of the observer (2) likewise, if murder is the unlawful slaying of a human being with malice aforethought without justification is also true no matter who observes it, it likewise is objective.

    When a savage kills a stranger on the grounds that he is a stranger, and in the savage’s eyes undeserving of the name human, we do not say that the savage is looking at things from a perspective of equal value to our own, we say that man is a savage with no respect for human life, that he is as backward as the Hottentots who have no word for any number higher than three.

    To shift the ground of the argument slightly, I noticed that even when meditating withing myself or questioning another to investigate the philosophical claim that morality was subjective, we both were forced by the nature of the inquiry to assume that both and each of us were being honest and practicing the mental integrity which true philosophical inquiry demands, to value the truth as true even if uncomfortable. Where did this moral obligation come from? I submit that it is innate to all observers, i.e., objective, for if it were not, it could not be an assumption that all inquiries make before the inquiry begins.

    All philosophers must assume logic is valid even to ask the question of whether logic is valid. Here, also, all philosophers must assume a standard of absolute honesty even to ask the question of whether honesty is just and right.

    If you cannot even ask the question without assuming the answer, it is an axiom and not a conclusion.

    P.S. You are smarter than I am. I could not reason my way to God, despite all my philosophy. I had to be mugged with visions and supernatural events before I would believe. Trust me, the path of reason is smoother and better.

    • MaxDWolf

      “When a savage kills a stranger on the grounds that he is a stranger, and in the savage’s eyes undeserving of the name human, we do not say that the savage is looking at things from a perspective of equal value to our own, we say that man is a savage with no respect for human life, that he is as backward as the Hottentots who have no word for any number higher than three.”

      Did you really have to stick that repulsive bit of racism in there? (Also, periods are your friend)

  • Heyren

    Mumford and Son???!!!?!!! That alone speaks volumes!! However, while you’re on your absolutist moral journey, perhaps you could nip over to sub-Saharan Africa and check out all the great things that have come about because of your new found church’s god-directed, morally-driven, dogmatic insistence that the wearing of condoms is an evil that will send people straight to hell.

    • Ken

      Your atheism precludes you from seeing that the ultimate objective in life avoidance of suffering because you do not believe anything awaits on the other side of death. Catholics have a different view point. So, yes…some of the Church’s teachings will result in suffering while on earth. That temporal, finite suffering is salvific when joined to the suffering of Christ. It is a path to heaven where that suffering will be forgotten in the beatific vision.

      • Ken

        Sorry…that first sentence should have read: …the ultimate objective in life IS NOT avoidance of suffering….

  • Greg

    I honestly doubt you’ll see this little comment amongst the droves already here, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway.

    First off, welcome to the Catholic church!

    Moving along, as a fellow atheist-turned-Catholic, I had some issues with the church stance on subjects like homosexuality as well. I actually didn’t come to terms with it until I did a paper for school on another one of the church’s controversial teachings, contraception. When you start looking at things like dependency ratios, psychological impact of missing parents (of a specific gender) on children, and the likes, you can make a rational argument on how it’s harmful to the society at large. Because many of these same issues apply to homosexual intercourse, which is by it’s very nature non-procreative, you can begin to understand while God might have made rules against it.

    Just a directions you might want to take your research on the subject. I hope I was helpful, and again welcome to the church!

  • Ryan

    I am sorry to see an atheist leave the skeptic community. While there’s no evidence supporting Christian claims and I don’t think Christianity represents morality at all especially the bible, I do wish you luck in the future with searching for truth!

  • Rick

    Wow. I couldn’t be less impressed with your reasoning. Your conclusion seems entirely illogical. Why not just admit that you decided to convert for emotional reasons?

  • Matt

    Morals come from empathy for other humans as learned through our own experiences. If you evaluate the morals of various societies you see that there are no standards – even murder has been accepted as moral in various cultures through the ages. Morality does not come from ‘a source’ – it comes from within yourself when you have learned hurt through experience and made the personal decision not to continue dispensing pain and suffering on others.

  • Mike

    Leah, as a former Catholic, and one who explored many religions before eventually becoming an atheist, I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming. Your writing has been expressing the Catholic world veiw, from my perspective, for a very long time. It has been interesting to see the actual process of conversion from atheist to Catholic in real time. The Catholic church as an organization isn’t much more corrupt than most others, it has just been around longer. That isn’t to say that it isn’t very corrupt. It is. Though I find the actual teachings of the church, such as original sin, to be morally repugnant, I wish you luck with your chosen faith. I just hope that you keep a critical eye on everything that is taught to you. Don’t accept anything without questioning its impact, logic, and the evidence for it. And please, remain honest.

  • Congratulations!
    Let’s pray that some of your ‘thinking’, intelligent followers from your previous blog are provoked into thinking about their own worldviews

    • Oh, dear! The vitriol and the squirming of these so-called intellectuals is palpable. They can’t reel off the hackneyed caricatures of the Roman Catholic Church quick enough! How silly of me to think that intelligent people might be less likely to repeat the same old rubbish when it came to the Church!

      Before I converted (not from atheism) I often reflected that the ignorant attacks on the Church made it possibly the most misrepresented institution in the world. I think the problem is that most people know exactly what the problems are with the Church without actually having a clue what they are talking about, but, for some reason, notwithstanding they know that they haven’t got a clue what they are talking about, when it comes to the Church they seem to believe that they have a right to repeat “facts” about the Church that they neither know nor really care whether or not they have any semblance of truth.

      The second worst aspect of this is that these people will never investigate what the Church *actually* believes, or why, preferring instead the distorted versions, while at the same time having a vague doubt that intelligent Catholics (if there are any) can’t possibly accept these silly caricatures.

      The worst thing is that if they actually took the time to investigate what the Church believed they would be blown away by the beauty of the Church, its beliefs, its worldview, its Tradition and its founder: Jesus!

      • S.

        ” .. they seem to believe that they have a right to repeat “facts” about the Church” .. typical catholic interpretation of the principle of free speech, as practiced by some of its most celebrated adherents whom we are supposed to be “blown away” by (I will take a pass on the rather obvious opportunity for some smutty, but still relevant, comments brought about by your turn of phrase) .. Hitler (dont even start on the ‘he was an atheist’ crap), Mussolini, Franco – just to name a few from this century – countless other muderers and repressive tyrants from the last two thousand years . . what beauty!

  • Faramir


    Just a quick note of encouragement. I haven’t followed your blog regularly – I usually come over when Mark Shea links to you – but I always found you to be very intelligent, reasonable, and charitable. I haven’t had a chance to look through the comments yet, but I imagine there are atheists bombarding you with questions and insults from every direction as well as plenty of Christians treating you as a “win” for their side. I urge you to not pay too much attention to them (although that means you may not see this comment, hmm…), take it slow, and don’t let anybody either guilt or shame you or push you further or faster than you want to go.

    Continue to pray (you said you’re praying the Liturgy of the Hours, which is great – make sure you are also talking to God in your own words, telling him what you’re feeling, what you don’t understand, what you’re scared of – of course He already knows all this, but it’s good to tell Him anyway), read the Bible, study the Catechism, ask questions, and begin to get to know Jesus, the one who is the Truth you have been seeking (John 14:6). I am a former Baptist who entered the Catholic Church a little over 2 years ago, so we are coming from very different backgrounds, but I know there will be plenty of scary and confusing moments for you as you make this journey. Just remember that the most frequent command in the Bible is, “Do not be afraid!” (see for example Joshua 1:9, Luke 1:30)

    So don’t rush, don’t give up, wrestle with the tough questions, and stay focused on Christ so that when you are standing before the baptismal font and the priest asks you, “Do you believe in God the Father almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” you can give a sincere and confident “Yes.” I look forward to being able to call you my sister in Christ and I pray that you will come to understand why Jesus says to those who follow him, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

  • Hi Leah! I jumped into the Tiber while I was a sophomore at UW-Madison (Came into the church Easter Vigil 2001.) I will share that I was lead to Rome after studying Judaism, Anglicism (?), Buddhism, Islam and a bit of plain evangelical protestantism, as well as trying to understand atheism. (I am a scientist by education and a former biological sciences teacher as well.) It’s been over 10 years since I was received into the church and it really has been a learning and growing experience. I, too, struggle with some of the teachings but I kind of look at myself as a toddler in the Faith, (I have a 4 yo, a 2 yo and one on the way, so parenting analogies are strong with me.) There are things that I do not understand right now, but I have the faith that understanding will come with wisdom and age: My 2yo may not understand WHY she can’t run in the parking lot, but she will when she is more mature. My 4yo may not understand WHY she can’t have candy for dinner, and gets mad at me for not allowing her something that will make her sick, but eventually she will learn why.

    My best advice for you would be to grab a copy of the CCC and maybe even Scott Hahn’s “Rome Sweet Home.” RCIA may not be theologically rigorous as it is designed to best meet people where they are, intellectually. I have been working through GK Chesterson’s “Orthodoxy” and that’s another heavy one.

    For the detractors: What’s the harm in believing? If there is no God, there is no harm/ no foul for believing. And another thing, please remember that all men (meaning humans) are fallible. We will Sin, in fact, we are drawn to sin. The Church holds all that is pure and true, sadly though, men and women (in Her Name) have twisted teachings for their own benefit.

    Pax Christi and many prayers on your journey!

  • HumanistJohn

    Congrats on rejoining the faith. Now you have doctrine to support hating people. You must be so proud.

    • MattyD

      “Doctrine to support hating people” is almost the exact *opposite* of her conversion story as described in her post. Did you actually read it?

    • Wally

      “Congrats on rejoining the faith. Now you have doctrine to support hating people. You must be so proud.”

      The amazing thing about statements like this is that those making them are usually unable to see the glaringly hypocritical irony that they exhibit, even after having it pointed out them.

  • Welcome Home Leah! you will be a light for many, (no pressure eh?)
    God bless

  • Rose

    This post is incredibly brave, and I truly hope that you’ve found what you’re looking for.
    That said, it leaves me with a (partially selfish!) concern for the future. Although obviously Catholics have never lacked for spirited internal debate, it does distress me that there is, ultimately, a foundational answer key in the Catechism. I do hope we won’t be deprived of the intrepid grappling that has made this blog so compelling.
    All my best.

  • How sad. To retreat into irrationality and religious superstition is a tragic circumstance. I know not what sort of existential pressures made you abandon reason, but you do have my sympathy.

    • What makes you think taking a stand against a prevalent belief in no God as opposed to a God is easy? Au contraire: it is easy to separate yourself from God, and to deny the existence of God, than it is to take that stand.

      Look at the secular society today: atheism is “cool” whereas Christianity, and especially my own beloved Catholicism, is ridiculed. Stepping out of the cool kids’ group and into a group rejected by society is NOT an easy decision, no matter how you cut it. If atheism really were reasonable or really was regulated by reason, the Founding Fathers of America (geniuses, we can agree) would have founded this country based on the idea that God did not exist, and would have heavily regulated religious practices far beyond that of the “no established religion”… but of course they didn’t, since they were mostly Christian (and the occasional Deist).

      So if you are a fan of the Founding Fathers, and you consider their work…reasonable, you must also consider their religious beliefs reasonable, for they were not afraid of making those beliefs the foundation of the American founding.

      I guess my only question is: why is it sad? “How sad.” you say…why? What is so great about being an atheist? You say that like you’re leaving, as I said before, some kind of cool kids’ club. When you ask someone what being an atheist is like, they don’t rattle off a list of things that they get to do that no one else does… I can imagine a little kid who’s proud as punch of being a member of the atheist club, reciting this to an inquirer: “Well, we get to break the ten commandments, we don’t have to go to church EVER, and we eat meat on Fridays EVEN WITHOUT A DISPENSATION!”

      What’s the big deal? Is that really it? Is that what makes you sad, that Leah Libresco will be endeavoring to go to a church on Sunday, that she will be endeavoring to follow the ten commandments in the pursuit of Christian perfection, that she even will endeavor to abstain from meat on Fridays? Does THAT make you sad? Because if that does, then you truly do have much about which to be sad.

      • “Look at the secular society today” Are you actually living in the US? The country where surveys show atheists are as mistrusted as sex offenders?
        “So if you are a fan of the Founding Fathers, and you consider their work…reasonable, you must also consider their religious beliefs reasonable,” Do you apply the same logic to slavery?
        “Is that what makes you sad” I think it’s rather that Leah will be supporting an institution that many consider corrupt and harmful to society (see contraception, spread of aids, prevention of abortion, child molestation etc etc).

        • I don’t know that atheists are mistrusted as sex offenders. I don’t know that anyone is mistrusted as a sex offender other than, well, a sex offender. My point was that atheism is viewed as cool in society, whereas Christianity is mocked and ridiculed.

          As for the Founding Fathers, George Washington freed his slaves before he died. No, I do not apply the same logic to slavery, because slavery involves an undeniable breach of human dignity. Christianity and a belief in God, however, does not.

          As for your final point, that’s what’s so courageous about what Leah Libresco did. She took a stand for something she believed was right, even though society doesn’t approve. As for your four points which are supposed to summarize the reasons people don’t like the Catholic Church, I remind you that contraception, abortion, and child molestation (or any sexual abuse) are mortally sinful by the laws of the Church, and are thus condemned. As for the spread of aids, it’s not as if married Catholic couples who do not use contraception or abortion are the ones causing aids to be spread about…

      • Jason

        Stop it. Yes, some of the Founding Fathers believed in some sort of God, but they DID NOT form this country based on their values or any type of religion. The whole reason why people came to America was to flee the persecution of the Church of England. They were a diverse group of people that featured Puritans, Quakers, Catholics, Anglicans, and more. Yes, religion was used heavily in their lives, but why does that automatically make it the reason why we succeeded? Don’t you think it was the fact that we had Democracy and people had the right to be free that propelled us to be who we are? Or are you saying that the only reason why this country made it was because one portion of it believed in your God. Yes, the Founders were incredibly smart but we have to still recognize that this was in the 1700’s where they still didn’t have the tools and evidence to explain life as we know it. I view the Bible and religion as a way that people in the early ages explained everything. Each culture has their different reasoning. Now, however, we have the necessary tools and knowledge to piece together how this world came about.

        Second, have you ever thought why Christianity is ridiculed? Maybe it has something to do with the talking snake, the man that communicates with a burning bush, or the man that separates an entire sea and walks on the bottom? Also, what world do you live in, because in my world atheists are always targeted for being hateful people but yet you haven’t seen one war or major conflict started by atheists. I’m an atheist, and I spend 4-5 hours a week tutoring children in the area of mathematics. I don’t do it because I’m fearful of eternal damnation but because I feel it’s a good way to give back and I can see the effects on the kids. Atheists always get judged and portrayed as evil people for no reason but because they don’t believe in a God. Who says believing in a God makes you a good person?

        And lastly, I would argue that in the world we live in it’s easier to conform to what your parents and grandparents are telling you to believe in than to step back and actually look at the facts. I think in this case to blindly follow a religion is a lot easier than to look at the facts, and I mean the factual evidence that has been reviewed and found true but hundreds of peers and professionals, and form your opinion. I believe there is no God because of the overwhelming evidence against it, while you believe in God because a book written over 2000 years ago, and was edited by numerous people, tells you to. What’s easier?

    • MattyD

      “To retreat into irrationality and religious superstition is a tragic circumstance.” Very true, Michael! But what does that have to do with her conversion? I can’t find any indication in her post that she is 1) retreating, 2) irrational, or 3) superstitious. I see just the opposite on all three counts. Unless you’re assuming that non-empirical belief of any kind is inherently irrational, superstitious and a retreat. Is that what you’re assuming?

  • katy


    I must admit that I used to read your blog awhile ago but stopped simply because I lacked the time to keep up with so many blogs. So I obviously have missed a lot. Haha. Anyway, I am beyond thrilled for you and will be praying. Welcome home!

  • Welcome home Leah!
    I spend 40 years as an atheist myself and next month will have spent 10 years as a Catholic blogger. Conversions always fill me with joy as it reminds me of my own joy. Going from atheism to Catholicism is sort of a rags to spiritual riches story and it is quite a struggle, but all to the good.

  • Agapito Jr.

    Hi, Leah, I found a post of your announcement of converting to Catholicism through the blog site of Fr. Abe Argionosa, C.R.S.; The Splendor of the Church. It’s a Catholic apologetic blog based on the Philippines. I’m happy about you coming to our Home, welcome ! I’m living right now in New Zealand but I always visit Fr.’s blog for guidance and solidarity with the Church. Read Gospel of Matthew 16 : 13 – 20. He also answers questions in English and Filipino.

  • Wow. Welcome home! This is so great to hear! I hope that your journey to Truth continues to help you grow closer to Christ and His Church!

    Also, DC is a great diocese – I’m here too.

    Praying for you on your journey!

  • eric

    mind boggling, but that’s cool. Just keep your shit out of my shit and we will be just fine.

  • Ian

    I sympathise with your long and difficult quest for an absolute moral basis. It’s one as I shared for many years, but did finally get an a point which, as an atheist, I could find both intellectually and emotionally satisfying. But I have to tell you that inability to cope with the truth provides no rational basis for conversion.
    What you actually seem to be saying is that you yearn for an absolute moral standard and you can’t find one in nature or the observable world, so to make yourself feel more comfortable you are going to accept a giant fiction that makes you feel a bit happier. That’s not philosophy, that’s escapism and denial.
    I do understand what a torment it can be to face the world as it is instead of how we want it to be, but just wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so.

  • 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

  • Well, well, well! I’m browsing the Discover tab on Twitter, and sure enough I’m hit with “Well-known atheist blogger decides to become Catholic”. Of course I clicked the link immediately, and came to your post.

    As a cradle Catholic, I should admit that I do not relate at all to the concept of conversion…yet at the same time, I envy converts to Catholicism…I’ve met several IRL and encountered and read from numerous converts online – they always have new insights and new explanations as to why Catholicism is the one true faith.

    I have to say congratulations to you on coming home to the Church: as I said before I can’t relate to the process, but I can only imagine just how very much thought you’ve put into this move from non-belief to belief.

    Finally, well, come on Catholics, we have a new member, a convert from atheism, so really, this is a Celebration Day. 😉

  • I’m very happy for you Leah, may God bless and keep you on this journey.

  • Kiel

    “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions).

  • So. what really helped me with dealing with faith was going back and looking at the history of epistomology. I used to want factual, emprically replicable notions to be all that my life was based upon. what I realized, though, (mainly through David Hume’s “Enquiry into Human Understanding”) was that human understanding of the world entails a level of faith to even get to the suggestion of scientific, empirically replicable ways to understand the world. Couple that with a loose understanding of the Enlightenment literary tradition and the flaw of human understanding suggests (to me at least) that the enlightenment tradition that glorifies sound reasoning as the objective of all human thought seems remarkably flawed. while I won’t parse out the specifics, because it takes away the intellectual challenge of exploring the ideas for yourself, the general point I’m trying to make is that my search for answers eventually led me to the suggestion that life, and our ability to understand it, is much more complicated than our senses are able to perceive (that’s aristotle) and our ways of learning are similarly complicated. (in lay man’s terms, you can understand something even if it lacks a firm scientific foundation, and should do so as a part of your intellectual development, (and IMO, lol. I don’t want to tell you how to think)).

    maybe some food for thought for you.

  • Jessica

    Welcome home, Leah!! This is a wonderful post! I’m sure you’ve read bits of the the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but hopefully Article 6 will help (2331 and on) in the section Life in Christ. 🙂 God bless you!!!

  • Um…Huh?

    Seems to me many of these comments and those here who “intellectually” defend faith use abstract and often incoherent psychobabble. Metaphysics…dualism…objective morality? All abstract psychobabble.

    “I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology. They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both.” Um…Huh? First WTF is “moral philosophy?” Tangible examples or definitions? How do the “proposed solutions RADICALLY misunderstand evolution?”

    Humans are social animals. You don’t see bees murdering other bees or meercats murdering other meercats. But maybe that’s because meercats have tuned into the “objective moral philosophy” that is out there floating in the ether.

  • As a fellow mathematician and former-atheist-turned-Catholic-convert I have to say:

    Welcome aboard!

    You seem to have just passed a critical inflection point in the most stunning kind of paradigm shift that any human being can make. Just remember to thank God for it, as none of us could have ever made that leap under our own steam…and when things get difficult (as they always do!) remember that the same God that loved you enough to bring you this far will not hesitate to carry you the rest of the way.

  • I suppose you’ll never reach comment 490 (can’t blame you), but I spent all day building a bookcase with my dad (very rewarding work!), so I missed your post. That said, I am very proud of you for doing this, in an admiring sort of way. A lot of what I said in my Atheist Turing response was more or less sincere, and I do believe that the person of totally static belief and understanding has really given up something core to their humanity. So I look forward to your company on the road as we all try to receive a fuller and fuller vision (taste?) of the truth. God bless you, Leah!

  • 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.

  • Telemachus

    Leah, welcome! You will be assimilated! 😀

    Pax Christi,

  • Michael Lucero

    This a crock of shit… Animal dont use “morals” it called reasoning girl ur weak

    • Faramir

      Thank you so much for your contribution. I’m sure your reasoning, eloquence, and overall pleasantness have made a lot of us rethink our positions. Oh, I’m sorry, I must have left my sarcasm mode on…

      But seriously, I love how you think a post that is 100% ad hominem is an argument in favor of reasoning. I think I’m going to get sick on the richness of the irony.

    • Ron

      1st thing is, I wish you well Leah, very well. I’ve enjoyed reading you and maybe fallen in love with your mind. 🙂 I trust you to be doing what’s best for you now and look forward to reading what you post next.

      I’m uncomfortable with the catholic gloating and I admit I’m creeped out by all the “welcome home” stuff – makes me think of being applauded after a $cientology “win”. But then I remember how all groups tend to feel like that: soldiers, clubs, anything where the people end up forming a coherent group. I’ll get over that. And I admit I have serious hangups about catholicism. But that’s not what bothered me enough to make my 1st post here.

      I’m posting because of the bitter sounding “she wasn’t a real atheist or if she was, she was a stupid/weak one” comments and the sneering from certain other atheists. I ignored most of them. Most of them were like a load of “No-o-o-o! Don’t go-o-o-o” cries from Moonies. But the last few sounded too nasty and condescending – like cult-think manipulation to get at someone when they wanted to route out of $cientology. It started for me with HumanistJohn’s “Congrats on rejoining the faith. Now you have doctrine to support hating people. You must be so proud” and Michael’s patronizing offer of sympathy for her “retreat into irrationality and religious superstition …” and the “existential pressures that made [her] abandon reason”. And for me Lucero’s comment is strike 3. So here’s my 2 cents.

      You people who did the snide sniping? You know which ones you are. Your responses weren’t reasonable – abuse never is. She’s doing something you don’t like and don’t understand. She’s not your pet. Deal with it. Preferably without the caricatures and character-slamming.

      And your responses weren’t evidence of how it’s possible to behave ethically without a god; read the posts of more reasonable atheists who explained that bit. You don’t like being hurt, so don’t act like sociopaths and hurt others. You don’t want to be abused, so don’t do it. That’s one of our best arguments for saying we don’t need gods to be ethical. Simple, right? So why did you have to screw it up? Are you that angry or scared or what? What next? You find out where she lives and picket her house?

      One of us has to apologize. I’m ashamed to be associated with people that pounce on someone like that, so it looks like it’s me. Sorry Leah.

      Leah, all the best with your journey or adventure or whatever this is. You make sense to me even if I don’t see me following you into catholicism and all. I’ll be following to see how this goes for you. You’ve got me interested. 😉

      • Lucy

        Well put. I feel like apologizing for the smug Catholics, as I used to be one of them and I cringe to see them wielding their “Truth bats.” You are good to remind us that the fruit we bear counts most. As for the institutional church, someone needs to say, “We’ve got problems AND we have lost credibility.” What I’m seeing instead are variations of, “Yeah, yeah, sheltering pedophiles is a systemic problem for us, but we’re still The Bulwark of Truth, so let’s don’t talk about that, mkay?” There really is much beauty, truth, and goodness in Rome. But many of the posts on here wouldn’t motivate a person to look any further than what yahoonews has to say about Catholicicsm. Anyway, I’m glad you wrote what you wrote.

      • Renee

        Who cares if you disapprove of the disapproval of atheists? I find any honest “conversion” far-fetched. How does someone honestly go not only from atheist to deist, but from atheist to such a specific breed of deist? It’s bizarre, and makes me question her motives and reasoning. There are a number of interesting comments above (and I assume below) which discuss the entirely explicable role of morality (which is a non-fixed concept) in society–and not just *human* socialization. I see no reason that we should leap to the ridiculous conclusion that morality is a god (or even more so God, or the Catholic God). *This* is why she is deserving of derision, and why you should yourself understand the prevalence of it, whether you find the contents of the comments “tasteful” or not. Because, seriously, now she’s just another blithering fool to us who believes in the man in the sky…For some inexplicable reason…

    • Jason

      I agree, animals don’t have morals. They do whatever they can to survive and that is what drives them.

  • Benjamin

    This is not so much a criticism of you as it is of myself. I’ve been a churchgoing Catholic since 1988, and haven’t started praying the Liturgy of the Hours yet, and you, not sure you’re definitely converting, are? You’ve reminded me how much further I need to go in my faith journey, and inspired me to look up the LOTH and start praying it. If you’re looking for other prayers, I also recommend the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

    My start in the Faith was for more selfish reasons. My brother met a girl through a Church youth group, so I got involved figuring it was a good way to meet girls. I met God instead, and almost two decades later, He supplied the girl, my loving wife.

    • WSquared

      Welcome home, Leah! This really did make me cheer!
      I know you’re being bombarded with suggestions as well as well wishes, but I would humbly second Benjamin’s suggestions regarding the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Once you start inquiring into Catholic theology along with praying (the two really go together), then you’ll see why.

  • JAG

    Content aside, this writing is very disjointed and unfocused. But since I mentioned content, it seems like the writer is saying, “Well, being an atheist just got too darn difficult! So I gave it up.” Forgive me if I find that rather uninspired and less than persuasive.

    Atheists are generally people who are content to not have all the answers about moral philosophy and metaphysics. So yeah, if certainty and absolution is what you seek, then theism might be your scene.

    I am ready to be enlightened, however, about how people who regard morality as a product of evolution somehow “misunderstand” said process.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I know it’s very tempting to take the easy way through life, but I urge you to find the truth of your own life, not adopt the “truth” that has been peddled to the masses for centuries.

    Additionally, on the huge chance that this is a joke… Good one!

  • Nolan

    Leah, I’ve got a few questions which might help us understand your rationale, and what your beliefs now really are. I think some have been partially addressed in previous posts and follow up comments, but it might be helpful to have these answered directly. I tried to read all your substantive responses and your last few posts, so forgive me if I missed your answers.

    1. Many people object more to the social policies of the church than the supernatural beliefs, and you seem to continue to object to the church’s view of homosexuality. What other objectionable (from a liberal atheist perspective) views of the church do you continue to take issue with? Birth control? Condom use? Sex before marriage? Abortion?

    2. Your ethics lead you to this conversion, so on what grounds do you believe you are right about your ethical views? Are you able to rule out, with reasonable confidence, that you are simply justifying unsupported intuitive ethical beliefs?

    3. You’re not a deist because you find that sort of God too hands off, and therefore chose Catholicism. But Catholicism is hardly the only consistent choice. As another commenter said, why not be a Unitarian, or a non-Catholic theist? Why take on Catholic baggage?

    4. As a follow up to the above, a conversion to Catholicism seems to bring a lot of theological and philosophical baggage along with it. What more bizarre (from the average rationalist’s perspective) beliefs do you accept and reject? Triune God? Resurrection of Jesus? Adam and Eve? Original Sin? Transubstantiation? Power of prayer? Miracle stories? Free will? Creationism?

    5. From the article responding to Euthyphro’s dilemma, it seems like you think that God does not command virtue, but embodies it. How do you avoid the criticism that this still renders morality arbitrary? God’s nature could have been such that rape and killing were revealed as embodied by him. Without a standard (another teleological standard, or a non-teleological one) above God, how are we to non-arbitrarily, non-circularly rate his nature as “good?”

    • Mael Menoret

      @Nolan, good post with one exception. I believe the Catholic Church has since rejected the idea of literal creation, with the current pope calling it “absurd”.

      That said I would love to know the answer to the rest of these question, especially Transubstantiation. I was raised Catholic and there is no ifs, ands, or buts about it, and the idea of the eucharist is not symbolic. According to Catholic Doctrine the Eucharist, or bread, is the flesh of Jesus. Even though it is still clearly bread, the church claims during the sacrament a miracle occurs where the bread becomes flesh, even though it doesn’t… This has never been demonstrated, ever, not once in 2000 years. Yet the Catholic church claims this happens every day around the world in numerous catholic churches.

      • Cous

        What, the miracle at Lanciano isn’t enough of a miracle for you? But transubstantiation certainly isn’t an “entry point” for believers, it follows from the act of faith in Christ’s assertion that he is one with the Father, and therefore that he’s telling the truth when he says, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” and then later, over the bread at Passover, ” this is my body, which will be given up for you.” Have you read the substance/accidents explanation of it? It doesn’t quite sound like you have.

        • Nolan

          What is the substance/accidents explanation? Also I’m not familiar with the miracle of Lanciano. There are so many miracle stories out there from a wide variety of faiths, that I think that it is fair to have a very high burden of proof for miracle stories. In addition, the miracle stories that have been investigated, in my experience, end up falling short under scrutiny, or at least not surpassing a reasonable burden of proof. Of course it would be an unfair rationalization to use the above as an excuse to dismiss out of hand all miracles, so if you think the miracle at Lanciano is especially convincing, I’m interested in hearing more.

          I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “act of faith.” At any rate, I think it would be uncharacteristic of Leah (in my limited experience) to accept Christ’s assertions through an “act of faith,” as I understand it.

          • Cous

            Sorry, that wasn’t meant to be a dodge of your question, I was responding to Mael who apparently had issues with transub. even as a Catholic. The miracle at Lanciano (you can google it) is one of the best known and most thoroughly tested/documented Eucharistic miracles. But my larger point to Mael is that transub. is like confession – it’s not something the Church proves by pointing to physical changes in the bread/wine or in the person, it’s a proposition we accept after first accepting that, as God, Jesus speaks with divine authority, and therefore that we should believe statements he makes about the apostle being able to “bind and loose” sins on earth and Heaven (confession) and bread being his body (Eucharist).

            Substance/accidents is an Aristotelian framework that is often used in explaining how transubstantiation is possible – before the change, you see whiteness and softness and nutritiveness (accidents) and the substance underlying those features, holding them together, is wheat/carbohydrates. Afterwards, the accidents are still there, which is why the change is totally imperceptible to the senses, but the underlying substance is now God. This is a very brief and unsatisfying gloss, but if you want to do more research it should point you in the right direction. For a more poetic take, consider the first three verses of St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous hymn, Adoro Te Devote.

            I can’t speak as to whether/why Leah herself believes in transubstantiation at this point, but transub., the triune God, the resurrection, the fallen nature of man (not necess the Garden story literally) are definitely central doctrines of the faith whereas creationism, visions, and miracle stories are not. If there’s any other clarification I can give, I’m happy to do so.

      • Nolan

        Thanks Mael. When I say creationism, I guess I’m (perhaps misleadingly) using a broader definition of the term. I would include old earth creationism in there as well, which is what I think Francis Collins appears to adhere to. Really I’m including any belief in God’s creation of life, the planet, or anything reasonably entailed in most (even non-literal) interpretations of the Bible. I believe that some forms of creationism are not officially absurd in Catholicism.

  • So happy for you! Welcome home!

  • Siobhan

    I converted to Catholicism 19 years ago for practical reasons; I was a lukewarm Episcopalian at the time who needed somewhere close by to get my kid into religious ed. No Episcopal church in the city, so I went shopping. Little did I know that this was a MAJOR turning point in my life, and the best decision I EVER made, bar none.

    Welcome home.

  • Brandon Jaloway

    Welcome! I love, love, love this!!! Welcome home!

  • Mael Menoret

    “They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both.”

    How? Who’s “they”? These are some bold assertions you’re making. can you please provide examples of these arguments, the people who made them, and counter examples that demonstrate a, b, and c. Otherwise I will simply have to assume you are spouting nonsense. I have met pseudo-intellectuals like you before. Lazy in their own research, than make excuses for themselves to shield their poorly laid arguments from criticism (hint, hint “be charitable”). No I will not be “charitable”, I expect everyone to back up any claim they make with evidence, not to simply make convincing assertions.

    ex. Many people claim that the earth revolves around the sun, but I generally find that people who make such claims radically misunderstand a.) physics, b.) astronomy, or c.) both. On a completely un-related not I have the flu, so please keep that in mind in your responses.

  • trolltulsa

    Well, whatever flushes your toilet, I guess.
    When you see this supposed god of yours, tell him he has a lot to answer for, and that when humanity progresses far enough, we will hold him accountable for his crimes against us.

    • Faramir

      I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls (including ones from Tulsa), but I’m curious how you plan to “hold accountable” the omnipotent Creator of the universe (assuming He exists), especially considering that it is only by His will (again, assuming the Christian God exists) that you continue to exist at this moment. And how do you plan to judge the one who is, by His very nature, Justice? I don’t think you’ve thought through this plan very well, nor that you even really understand what it is you are saying.

      Oh, and by the way, humanity already had the chance to “hold him accountable”. It happened about 2,000 years ago, and our verdict was, “Crucify him!”

      • Jon H

        God invented ebola, cancer and AIDS, crucifixion is getting off light.

        • Jason

          Don’t forget sin! He made it for he could punish us for having it in our lives!

  • Heather

    I’ve had you at the top of my prayer list for about a year now. This news made my day! Welcome home! 😀

  • awert

    Btw. Am I the only one feeling creeped out reading all those “welcome home” msgs? Seriously guys, have some respect for her intelligence and cut this silly crap.

  • Bryan

    I’m just…so…happy! This made my week, Leah.

  • Well, that was intense.
    I was raised Catholic and I probably still would be if not for the people I kept meeting in the Church. Ponder that, for a bit.
    I sincerely wish you the very best on this new stage in your life’s journey. I wish you emotional satisfaction, spiritual fulfillment, and personal enjoyment of your new relationship with powers beyond ourselves. I would leave you with something my Grandmother told me about her beloved Church: I have never lost faith in my God, my Saviour, the Mother, the Angels or the Saints. I have lost faith in my Church.
    This is the crux of the dilemma that the Church is facing today. Be as you have always been, intelligent, rational, and yet willing to believe beyond yourself. All will be well, all will be well, truly, all will be well.

  • Caecilia

    Dear Leah,
    Just my 2 cents worth. In regards to sexuality or being human for that matter, what have helped me is reading Theology of the Body. Here are some links which you may find useful:

    I pray that it may be useful.

  • Norm

    Leah this is amazing news,not for “our side” but for you personally.You havent joined a club but a family.By that i dont mean the catholic church but as a child of God the extent of which we carnt comprehend of this side of eternity.My prayer is that you do come to know Him personally,not just intellectually,or about Him as a religion,but in your heart.Only then will you understand why people will die for their faith rather than deny Him.Yours in Christ ,Norm

  • The echoes resound even here in New Haven, where your conversion began and where it reached its critical point. Praised be God, Who is Light and Truth, for leading you toward Him on your quest for knowledge. Know that my Dominican brothers and I are supporting you on this new stage of your search for truth, and I look forward to your entrance into the Church back in DC this coming Easter.

    I truly enjoyed reading your story (as I always do with conversion stories), and it reminds me of a quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre: “You have to meet love before you meet morality; otherwise it’s torture.” As you struggled restlessly with a philosophical system that often fell into metaphysical backsliding in a search for consistency, only finding out that the Author of the natural law is also Love could have brought you true peace, or as St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Thanks be to God for granting you the free gift of faith that brings you this peace, and that you had the courage to accept this gift (“jumping out of the system” as Hofstadter would put it) and to proclaim it.

    There was a prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours this evening that said, “Grant that all who seek the truth may find it, and in finding it may they desire it all the more.” I had to smile when it came up– your good liturgical timing strikes again! And speaking of which, you’re always welcome to join us for prayer at the House of Studies– but you knew that already. May God bless you and draw you ever closer to Him. Welcome home!

    • leahlibresco

      I got to say that prayer tonight with your brothers since I went to Vespers at the Domincan House of Studies! I was indeed quite pleased when we got up to it. (I took the day off of work, since I figured this would be a bit distracting, which gave me time to go to Vespers, morning Mass, and a ballroom dance lesson at Arthur Murray, so it was actually a very nice, if hectic day).

      Getting to write this and come out was mostly a joyous occasion for me, as I really didn’t expect to be so happy here. Thanks so much for the support of you and your brothers. I’ll be drawing on you again as we get into arguments in RCIA.

  • David DeAtkine

    I made the journey from a Southern Baptist Tradition to Anglicanism and eventually Rome. Though never an atheist, I struggled for years with the diconjugate reality of my medical training and the problem of human suffering vs the prosperity Gospel/everything is good if you have enough Faith of my upbringing. In the writing of the Church Fathers, the recent successors of St Peter and many other Catholic great minds, incl. GK Chesterton, Ronald Knox, etc. I found a more consistent, and comprehensive view of reality than I had seen elsewhere, though many of the posters here will smirk at that. And I have found that in my Faith there is absolutely NOTHING to fear from a brutal, passionate search for objective Truth — whether it be medical, archeological, political, etc — because Truth ultimately abides in God; and God has graciously met us in Christ. God bless and great joy in your journey.


  • MattyD

    Huzzah!!! And may I say, Leah, I hope you continue to post on your journey, especially regarding those areas where you are confused (or disagree?) with the church, e.g. teachings on homosexuality. You’ve got a great mind and spirit, and I suspect you’d have a lot to offer the public discourse in these areas.

  • As an atheist digital marketer my first thought is “wow, what a great piece of link bait.”

    My second thought is, forget about atheism, do you also renounce skepticism? If so, then your decision isn’t surprising at all. A little sad, but not surprising.

  • SDF

    I don’t know Leah, but I certainly wish her happiness in life. I find her conversion depressing, because when I think of morality, the very last earthly institution I would consider for that list, next to Islam, would be the catholic church. The evil that has been perpetrated on humanity via that institution is incalcuable. The intellectual surrender to banal, cookie-cutter versions of belief, and cheap, trite answers to age old and deep questions about ethics, morality, and the nature of the universe – it’s depressing, like watching a once great and brilliant, well-educated man like my great uncle, succumb to Alzheimer’s.

    • Phillip

      You’re not very familiar with the Catholic intellectual tradition, are you? Catholicism is the last religion you would want to accuse of providing superficial and trite answers to the life’s big questions. There’s a reason why Catholicism attracts many intellectually inclined converts.

  • Paul

    All religious followers rely on blind faith and have no evidence a god exists. Does not matter if you are catholic, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish etc. all religions claim to the right god and teach the right things but all have no proof.

    For example, Christianity bases its beliefs around The bible. More-so the new testament. This section of their bible was not even penned by eyewitness accounts of the so called acts of jesus and his disciples, and all 4 books have different takes on the same events eg, the death of judas, The lords Prayer.

    Atheism is about thinking logically, Not believing something because someone else told me its true.

    I suppose scientology is the truth then and that the evil Lord Xenu came and blew up aliens in a volcano because thier holy book says so.

    • Kyle

      Didn’t you know that Christianity is the BEST CONSPIRACY EVER?

      How else would you get people to suffer and die horrible deaths unless you really pulled the wool over their eyes?

      Clearly they knew that it was all in the name of eventually being venerated by an organization that would oppress everyone who did not agree with them.

  • ThomasL

    So… you compare mathematics with morality as in they both exist outside of us. Morality exists only in the animal kingdom AND IT EVOLVES! For proof I offer the Bible. If those who wrote it thought their moral code superior, then we have come a long way. And how do you jump from ‘your morals align with mine’ to ‘I accept your revelation’? If it gives you peace, then more power to you; I just see you as being intellectually dishonest.

  • CJ Wolfe

    I think you’re absolutely right in the way you’re going about this Leah. You have to believe in the person of Christ- that’s what it means to be a Christian first and foremost. Your comparison of Christ to Morality is also apt. In the questions on law in the Summa, Thomas Aquinas says: “The Son of God is not subject to the eternal law but rather is himself the eternal law.” (I-II Q.93 A. 4) Welcome to the Church

  • Sarah

    Just wanted to say as a former agnostic-now-reverted-to-Catholicism, welcome to the journey home. 🙂 I look forward to reading more of your honest reflections.

  • Mark

    Catholicism? Seriously? Of all the religions on Earth to choose from?

    • Corita

      Heh, I have tried *repeatedly* to find a different one but nothing else makes any *rational* sense to me. Other kinds of sense, maybe, not rational.

  • LaurelhurstLiberal

    People hate cognitive dissonance, so I expect before too long you’ll have figured out ways to justify the Church’s positions on contraception and gay rights to yourself. I hope not, though.

  • Liturgy of the Hours is a great way to start praying. And to continue praying. My blog, Coffee&Canticles, is about nothing but the LOTH. How to’s, Q&A, comments on how to understand the psalms, etc. Would be happy to see you there.

  • Bennett

    Having been through a similar trip from atheism to theism and then on into the arms of Holy Mother Church, all I can say is welcome home. The road’s quite a doozy, isn’t it?

  • Hi Leah, I came across your story on one of my friends’ page and I just want you to know, that regardless of what other people say, I believe you made a wise decision. I would also like to welcome you to the “family.”

    I will be praying for you, that you may inspire others to do as you did and I pray that you find happiness always.

    I wish you all the best. Stay strong! God bless you always!

  • Corita

    Congratulations, Leah. Bless you.
    Who was it that said, “Come on in, It’s awful”?
    That’s how I feel sometimes. But if a thing is true, it is true. What can you do?

  • Welcome home, Leah!!! God bless you.

    And hooray for Mumford & Sons!!!

  • Jill

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog since discovering it about a year ago. When I saw your post yesterday about having a “surprise announcement” in store, I suspected it would be that you would be converting. When I opened up my RSS feed today and found out that was really the case, I simultaneously had both feelings of excitement and disappointment.

    I, too, have seriously considered converting to Catholicism (though currently that seems unlikely). I’ve considered myself agnostic, atheist, or apathetic most of my life. Four years ago, I had never met a person who actually believed all of Catholicism to be true. When I did meet such a person, I was fascinated (and part of me also wanted to prepare myself for what I thought would be inevitable religion/abortion arguments between us).

    I read up on both sides of the reproductive-issues arguments, and ended up feeling entirely wrong in my staunch pro-choice position. Pro-life reading led to Catholic apologetics. I read literally hundreds of the Ask An Apologist questions on the forums. Listened to dozens of episodes of The Journey Home on late-night walks through my neighborhood. Went to mass weekly for over a year straight, and even signed up for RCIA classes. Throughout this I was amazed at how wrong I had been my whole life, and how the Catholic Church seemed to have convincing and satisfying answers.

    But I didn’t convert. I never got to the point of feeling “sure enough” in my beliefs. Now I’m sort of back to where I started, in terms of being basically agnostic, but I’m much more openly “unsure” and skeptical. To convert to Catholicism requires not just acting as if what the Church teaches is true, but truly and solidly believing it to be true in the depths of your mind (soul, heart, etc.). I would be lying if I said “Yes” to the initiation question of “Do you believe in the Catholic Church?”; my best answer would be “It’s possible it’s true”. (And that answer is obviously not good enough to be received into the Church.)

    In retrospect, I feel like I was jumping too easily from “Wow, I was so, so wrong about several issues” toward thinking “I have to become Catholic, because they seem to be right where I am wrong”. I think human beings crave a sense of certainty more than anything else, such that when a person experiences the intense humility that comes with Knowing You Weren’t Right About Everything, all of a sudden a particular “authority” becomes that which they jump to having certainty about–whether that authority is the Catholic Church, the Bible, or the Koran. “I am wrong” does not automatically lead to “XYZ is completely true”. (I have some other particular objections to Catholicism, but this post is already getting quite long.)

    Anyway, I wish you the best, and hope that whatever path you take, you maintain an open mind and spirit of questioning. Good luck!

  • Wendy

    Welcome Home!

  • Natasa

    I’ve read some of your posts that were mentioned on a number of Catholic blogs and really liked your style. However, I never became a regular reader because I’m just not into atheism. I got this news via Standing on my Head. Amazing! So happy for you. This post has made my day. There will be difficult moments on your journey and many people will react in not very gracious ways. But many will be there to support and help you. It is so worth it. Converting to Catholicism from atheism is the best thing I have ever done 😉

  • April

    Heard about your blog from Bad Catholic. You’ll definitely be in my prayers. I’m a convert myself (2008), and I’ve spent pretty much all of the 4 years since constantly struggling with one part of the faith or another. Whether it comes from Protestant Fundamentalism (a product of my hometown) or Atheist Fundamentalism (a product of my “liberal,” secular university), there’s always some kind of rock – or boulder – stuck in my way. Trust me, it would be easy to cave to the pressures around me, but then I would have to live in constant denial of what I know is ultimately the truth.

    I’m convinced that if you’re not constantly struggling with your faith, not constantly having to defend it – even at times perhaps failing to defend it – then you’re doing something wrong. These past four years may have been some of the most challenging, insulting, frustrating, and hurtful years of my life, but they’ve also been THE most blessed, happy, hopeful, peaceful, and loving years of my life. The road ahead will be rough, especially given the public nature of your conversion. Just remember 1 Peter 1:6-7.

  • Eivind

    Isn’t this a bit much effort just for a religious Turing-test ? Good try though !

  • Congratulations! I’ll be praying for you!

  • Michael Straight

    Leah, I think I understand and agree with what you’re saying about your reasons to believe. To me, one of the most powerful arguments for Christianity is that it’s the only thing I’ve found that makes any sense of the way everybody actually uses and tries to live by moral language. Everything else just seems incoherent and circular if you look at it too hard.

    It seems like one of the biggest misunderstandings people have about this subject is that it’s not talking about the question of how we decide which things are right and wrong. It’s more like the question of why we should care about right and wrong. Why should we give a higher priority to our moral judgments than to our other desires and preferences? Why does (almost) everyone talk about morality as if it were something more fundamental than our feelings and preferences?

  • I’m excited to follow your experience of entering the Church. I was born into Catholicism, but your experience of realizing God’s love for you resonates with my own. Essentially, I probed Reality and found a living, loving Person at its core.

    It’s also fantastic to learn that you’re a Mumford fan 🙂
    “You were made to meet your Maker”

  • Ogre

    congrats. KBVM – 88.3 here in PDX or http://www.kbvm on the net. Around 4 to 6 pm .. great radio.

  • This is pretty cool, Leah. I agree with your conclusion that morality is God. After all–truth is that which corresponds to reality. If morality doesn’t correspond to anything, it isn’t true. And the only candidate for a perfect being is God.

  • Great News! Welcome home….

  • Darren

    Wow, I hadn’t heard of your blog until I saw this post on God and the Machine ( It is always wonderful to read of another convert to the Catholic church, especially one who has been prepared to share the journey with the world like this. I converted to the Catholic Church 7 years ago after a long period of thought, contemplation, prayer, and sound religious instruction (from a wonderful priest Father Bray in Merrylands, Sydney). It was quite an experience but one that I have never regretted. You’re in my prayers and I look forward to reading your blog in the future.

  • anon

    >>I believed that the Moral Law …was some kind of Person

    The homo sapien brain just lovesanthropomorphism.

    Father Gabriele Amorth, the chief exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, warned about ignoring Satan, saying, “Whoever denies Satan also denies sin and no longer understands the actions of Christ”. He also said that Satan is active in such current media as the Harry Potter books and films.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church regards the Devil as being created as a good angel by God, and by his and his fellow fallen angels choice fell out of God’s grace.

    Satan is not an infinitely powerful being. Although, he was an angel, and thus pure spirit, he is considered a creature nonetheless. Satan’s actions are permitted by divine providence.

  • patrick

    im not convinced. dress it up in all the language you want, this still boils down to personal credulity. and i think youve thought about this too hard and have got a bit confused. im a bit concerned that you thought to mention gays but not the rampant raping of minors by catholic priests. before you say ‘minority’, think about ireland: a seachange of attitude because of the sheer scale of child raping that went on for DACADES.
    this seems more of a spiritual realisation. rationality will soon kick in and see that spirituality and religion are quite different. ratzinger protecting raping priests and screwing around with the vaticans billions is what religion is. no wonder he tries to obfuscate and focus on a ‘heaven’.
    so you are one of the sheep. about as nourishing as a road puddle.
    still, when sense reasserts, atheists wont judge you.

  • Karabo Bodibe

    As you continue to quesion you will realise the truth about the catholic, hopefully that will not take you back to not believing in God.
    May you grow in the foundation of what the bible teaches, not just mere man.

  • Dee

    Congratulations on seeing the light! Now you just have to find a church that feeds your soul. As a lifelong Episcopalian, I would like to point out that we welcome homosexuals, we ordain female priests [since 1978] and we are very tolerant and open. Yet, our service is almost identical to the Roman Catholic one. You get “smells and bells” without the rigid dogma. Give it a try!

    • Follower of Jesus Christ not a follower of religion

      Your church preaches a false gospel and your congregation is being led astray by your church. God does not want us to be tolerant and open. If that was the case, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die on the cross in order to save us from our sins. You need to wise up.

      • Jason

        Woah, wait up. Your username is “Follower of Jesus Christ not a follower of religion”. You do realize Jesus said to love everyone right? I’m an atheist and even I know this.

  • Geste

    Hey Leah, I just dropped by after picking up the news from other blogs, and to be honesty came for the lulz. I haven’t been disappointed lol.

    Whatever break with reality you are undergoing I do hope ends.

    “I just don’t get how people don’t walk down the street without raping everyone without god” therefore Catholicism, is one of they funniest stories I’ve heard all year, enjoy the warm and fuzzy while it lasts, I recommend evangelical after, then try out Buddhism for a bit, and when you get back to realising its all bullshit I will laugh at and with you.

  • Elizabeth

    Dear Leah, I just wanted to say congratulations and welcome! I just converted to Catholicism about a month ago and I am so happy. Don’t let anyone tell you you are abandoning reason or narrowing your mind–the faith is so vast, it contains everything. I keep having this sense of the universe being much larger than I thought it was before. I hope you find much peace and joy. My humble mite of advice from my own experience is: remember you don’t HAVE to do RCIA if it’s not a good fit. I had a priest give me personal spiritual instruction (Rex Mottram-style) and it was awesome (and very efficient–only took a couple of months). God bless you!

  • Dear Leah
    Congratulations and welcome! My own way into Catholicism was through analytic philosophy -and yes, MacIntyre had a large part to play in my conversion as well!- so I recognize much of what you say here.

    My very best wishes.

  • Dan


    Be strong, you’ll need it. Seek comfort with your fellowship. Seek protection within the word.
    Strive to be Christlike, knowing you’ll fail. Know you’ll STILL have your moments/times of doubt…
    Know you’ll fight with the word and yourself at times. Persevere. Lean on Christ when you need
    support. Spend time with your fellow church members.

    Welcome home.

  • Entropysoup

    Alright, clearly you are an intelligent person. As someone with a degree in philosophy, I’m telling you that you are wasting your time and energy thinking your way around this stuff. You think you are being somewhat logical, but you are just playing semantic games with fairy tales. Truly a shame to lose someone so thoughtful to such delusion. Okay, that came off condescending and I’m sorry, but seriously. Catholicism? Gack.

    • Dan

      A shining example of ‘tolerance’ there.

      She’s not asking you to believe as she does. She’s explaining her decision. You do not have to agree, but you should respect …..don’t you ask that of your position (and I mean ‘respect’, since you seem to demand people agree with your response to her)?

  • Sarah

    I’ve read your blog for some time and have prayed for you too. So happy to hear about the evolution of your heart and mind. I converted to Catholicism a few years ago– it isn’t an easy journey but it is beautiful! Will ask St. Thomas to pray for you in your study of the faith. God bless you, peace be with you.

  • @ACatholicPrayer

    Welcome! You’ll be in my prayers!

  • Good luck, Leah. I suspect you are too intelligent and intellectually curious for this to last very long, but I wish you the best.

  • Joshua

    Hello, God bless

    Happy to hear you’ve converted to Christianity, but I would ask, why Catholicism? You need to be born again. When you accept Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior, you receive the Holy Spirit. That is when you are born again. However, Catholicism suppresses these truths and puts a religious system in its place. That isn’t what you want, or need. What you need is Jesus, to have a personal relationship with Him. If you’re going to know God, do it the right way, free of religion. It is a beautiful thing, a miraculous thing, that you have come to believe in God. Now you need to get to know Him..start reading the bible, and don’t put it down. You need to understand His word. God bless you

    • Follower of Jesus Christ not a follower of religion

      Well said Joshua! I left the Lutheran Church after I understood what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through His Spirit that dwells within me. At the age of 42 I was rebaptized and was born again. I am 59 now and have been growing stronger in Christ every day. I was blessed enough to be a counselor at Rock The Lakes (Franklin Graham) this past weekend.

    • Phillip

      You are born again when you are baptized, receive the Holy Spirit, and become a member of the Body of Christ – the Church. That has been the understanding of Christians from apostolic times. Hate to break it to you, but Christianity has been an organized religion from its beginning, under the authority first of the apostles, then under the authority of the bishops/presbyters chosen by those apostles. History shows this. Unless of course you want to make up your own religion. Just don’t pretend it’s authentic historic Christianity.

  • Fernando Villafuerte

    You weak moron…

    Happy fantasies.

  • Phil Spomer

    Good news! You may want to continue ever more deeply into catholicism until you become a Lutheran. I’d suggest lots of Augustine, then maybe C.F.W. Walther. God bless.

  • Wow! What a great addition to God’s army! Welcome, Leah! Our family will be praying for you! 🙂

  • Peter Ford

    Re. the Forms as the ultimate criteria for the virtues ‘down here’ – have you read Plotinus, Augustine, and Aquinas on the eternal law existing as an idea on the mind of God? Most of the actual arguments are in Plotinus, then Aug and Aquinas repeat (but in a Nicene metaphysics) and refine the details. The best introduction to Plotinus is still John Rist, Plotinus: The Road to Reality- the chapters on the One’s knowledge and divine Intellect. Reading Plotinus will put you in a good position to understand the metaphysics of the Trinity as developed by pro-Nicene early Christians as well (Marius Victorinus and then Augustine). The position ends up being that the Forms for the virtues (aka eternal law) are inside the second hypostasis, i.e. (to use Aquinas’ terminology) they/it are/is appropriated to the Son who is the divine Mind.

  • Peter Ford

    On homosexual acts: the Catholic argument is that using a sexual organ in any voluntary sexual act except for vaginal intercourse is gravely wrong for 2 reasons. It’s the misuse of a sexual organ, given that sexual organs are essentially, not accidentally, reproductive organs (this is evident from empirial physiology– the female sexual organ is simply an opening onto a tract leading to the ovaries, the function of which is to produce genetic material, and the terminus of any sexual act for the male is the emission of genetic material). Second, not all misuses of organs are gravely wrong (some might not be wrong at all, depending upon circumstances) but sexual organs are special case because through human sexual acts an immortal soul is brought into being by God. The copulators are merely the cooperators with God, which sacralizes the act. So it’s gravely wrong because it offends against the dignity and purpose of the act. (Use of NFP is Ok for grave reasons not as an exception to this ‘sexual is reproductive’ principle, but because it is still a reproductive type of act that merely happens to be infertile owng to circumstances of the woman’s cycle. God made the cycle both fertile and infertile.)

    • Alan

      Please, they consider it wrong cause no one would blow Jesus in high school.

  • Welcome home.

  • Don L

    Welcome aboard – just in time for the second great persecution…..

  • Andy Varga

    Truth be told, I’d never heard of you, Leah, until a posting crossed my fb stream this morning. As someone who has worked for 25 years in training people in the ministries of the RCIA, I am uplifted and encouraged by what little bit I have read today about your journey! I know better than to make well-meaning (but nonetheless smug-sounding) remarks like “Welcome Home!” — I’d simply say that I’m so happy for you that you’ve chosen journey together with a group of others who have found meaning and purpose and hope in a certain Tradition and who are seeking a spiritual home beyond the life that we can see and know in the here and now. I consider myself a fair-to-middlin’ apologist (in the best sense of that word, I try to make a positive case for what we believe, not excuses for it)… please be in touch if you’d like. Grace and peace to you!

  • steve

    It’s quite obvious that you were never an atheist to begin with. You may think you were but agnostic is probably more the word to describe you. It’s sad to see all these people believe in some miracle split second transformation into belief, but then again these are the same group of people that can’t cope w/ the thought of there not being some infinite overlord watching everyone’s every move. Morality comes from within, not from some magical man in the sky.

  • Peter Ford

    I meant to say “the eternal law existing as an idea IN the mind of God,” of course.

  • jose

    Disclaimer. This is not evolutionary psychology. Darwin’s original take is much more nuanced than the ultra-adaptationist approach of virtually all evopsychs.

    Everybody dances, all cultures have dances. Everybody makes instruments – for music, war, work, etc. We have many universal (more appropiately “species-wide”) features, it’s to be expected since every other species on the planet has as well. Reciprocity is common in all apes, and we have that psychological seed in us as well, it’s the basis of most social interactions among apes, and it comes in turn from an ability of imitation a lot of mammals have. Once you have reciprocity, you need reasoning brain power to extrapolate reciprocity to the whole world, not just the individual in front of you – to make reciprocity an abstraction. That’s when you stumble into morality.

    Reason didn’t evolve explicitly for that. We don’t really know what reason evolved for, tbh. What matters here though is that the fact that we can apply it to our own social tendencies and turn them abstract is an unintended side effect, very much like how you can use your hands to play guitar (that’s clearly not what hands evolved for) or how you can use your glasses to set dry grass on fire. Just by having a complex structure, objects -our glasses as well as our brain- have a variety of unintended uses that makes them much more than the specific trait natural selection favored. I think this is the common, standard naturalistic account of morality.

    There’s a very famous Darwin quote:
    “Plato says in Phaedo that our imaginary ideas arise from the preexistence of the soul, and are not derivable from experience—read monkeys for preexistence.”

    There must be a radical misunderstanding of moral philosphy here.

  • Tucker Latham

    I’ve never been here before, and found this post only through a link on, a conservative blog / news aggregation device.

    That being said, this is a fascinating post, as I’m in somewhat the same boat. I’ve been a negative atheist for longer than I’ve known the definition, but like you, my “moral compass” finds its closest alignment with some religions, Christianity (esp. Catholicism) foremost. I’ve wondered if our “virtues” as human beings came from religion, or vice-versa. This paragraph drew my attention:

    “I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology. They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both. ”

    Without going too much into my opinions on the matter… Could you humor me by expounding on the “radical [misunderstanding]” of evolution and moral philosophy?

    Also, this drew my eye as well:

    “I’m still confused about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, ”

    I assume, of course, that you do not mean that you misunderstand their teachings on this subject, and rather cannot reconcile the Church’s position on homosexuality with, well, the rest of Its positions. Though no theologian, I believe it is consistent, though I find this a stumbling block en route to maintaining a favorable view of certain stripes of theists, who believe much of what they do – Leviticus 18:22 notwithstanding – regarding this topic due to what I believe is a fundamental (!) misunderstanding of homosexuality itself.

  • Tucker Latham

    How did I miss this?

    “And how am I doing? Well, I’m baking now (cracking eggs is pretty much the least gnostic thing I can do, since it’s so, so disgusting to touch, and putting effort into food as more than the ransom my body demands for continued function is the second least gnostic). ”

    Mmm. Unequally yolked.

  • Follower of Jesus Christ not a follower of religion

    Christianity is not the same as Catholicism. Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and on the scriptures of the Bible (God’s word for us). Born again believers do not believe in a religious system such as the Catholic Church which is steeped in tradition, pagentry, idol worship, and paganism.

    • Your Christ is of your own invention. Watch him change as you change, and then tell us who’s an idolater.

    • Phillip

      Looks like you have some Christian history to catch up on. You could start with the ante Nicene Fathers. If CatholicIsm is fundamentally pagan then the rest of Christianity is in trouble as well, because the essential Christian dogmas like the Trinity and the canon of the Bible were defined and articulated by the early Catholic church, the same church that taught baptismal regeneration, the sacrifice of the Eucharist, the real presence, the communion of saints, the authority of bishops to forgive sins etc etc.

  • NostraDennis

    Welcome, Leah. As said several times above, we are ALL works in progress. I will pray for your spiritual journey, and ask that you pray for mine and those of all of us who seek God’s love.

  • Tucker Latham

    awert saith: “how did nature select for the ability to write sonnets, solder circuit boards or swing a golf club? Clearly, such abilities could never be the product of evolution.”

    1) Intelligence
    2) Physical Ability

    Possessing both ensured the survival of the species. Your argument actually supports the theory of evolution.

    • Jonny

      Neither supports squat, both of you should know.

  • blogged

    I can’t quite reach atheism because something created the plane everything exists on. I’m a bit agnostic ala doubting thomas in that sometimes I feel foolish believing in virgin births and a man born of God and demanding that no other way to reach heavan be allowed. But I do believe in the intangeble concept of faith. Faith works. Whether it be in god or yourself. Going forward knowing the forces for good will guide and support you is a very positive and productive way to live. And a life without faith in it’s most basic definition is sad and pointless and without freedom.
    But another concept I have been bantering around is that one could build and gain from a religion based on the life of Jesus without him being a deity. If you just lived in the way he did, you would have an awesome life, do good works and be cared for by the powers of good that exist. Trade good for god and you still have a terrific guide for life. And actually, the way I read the Bible, that’s pretty much what the words in red really mean. Forget the heavens, have heaven in your heart and in your soul in your life right now here on earth. And by the way, nothing against Catholics but I refuse to believe that I need a human between me and my relationship with God. I do not interpret Jesus’s words to Peter as what man has created with a pope and religious hierarchy. In fact I rebel at most of these interpretations people cast upon Bible verses. Usually just trying to engineer their own power or purposes instead of living the simple ways Jesus expressed in his words and actions. Keep boiling it down girl, we were created by something and along with the dust and the light and our carbon forms came love and faith and a system of sin and it’s superior, decency. It’s all you’ll ever need. Noone loved Jesus more than Judas but he failed to understand that Jesus was not here to conquer by sword or lightning but replace Barrabas (us) on the cross. Nothing magic there, but powerful enough to be remembered for 2000 years.

    • Tucker Latham

      “I can’t quite reach atheism because something created the plane everything exists on.”

      I don’t understand – that “something” *must* be “God?”

    • Um…Huh?

      “we were created by something”

      why were we created by something, but God was created by nothing? Who/what created God? If God could always exist then why not the universe?

      Why does existence suggest the presence of God? And what God does it suggest? The one your parents taught you about? Sure was fortunate that you were born into the correct religion!

    • The difference in faith in yourself, and faith in a deity is that one is blind, the other is not. People can know their limits, therefore the faith can be well-placed, where as a belief in a deity is blind. There is no evidence to support any of it.

  • Brineyman

    What a courageous thing to do.

    I think your insight that Morality is Being who Loves is quite profound.

    Truth is an implacable master, and your perilous path exemplifies that fact perfectly. (Implacable, yes, but also beautiful beyond description.)

  • JDW

    The Catholic church is boring, Miss Libresco! 😉 Come hang out with us Protestants! It’s much for fun, the music is better, the food is superior, and the people are far more attractive. And, we don’t have anybody playing middle-man between us and the big guy. 🙂 If you’re going in, you might as well go ALL in!

    • John Stanley


      Another convert tot he Faith — John Henry Newman has stated: “”To be deep into history is to cease to be Protestant”. I challenge you to check out the Church with the same Truth seeking heart as Ms Libresco.

      John Stanley

      • Um…Huh?

        “To be deep into reality is to cease to be religious.” – Um…Huh?

    • Phillip

      ‘All in’ would be Catholicism, the fullness of the apostolic Church rather than a watered down version of Christianity. On the other hand you may be right about the fun. But we go to church to worship the unborn God not to be entertained. And what food could possibly compare with the very flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist – “my flesh is meat indeed”.

  • dave

    Glad to see your search has been rewarded. I only hope your writing inspires others. Welcome

  • Craig

    I would like to correspond with you further if you have time, (big if I’m sure).
    I realize you have many comments here, all of which I doubt you’ll be able to get through.
    I am a believing Christian, and would very much like to discuss these things/thoughts with you.

    Bible believing Christianity works, and there is a definite reason for why it works.


  • Sherwin

    To emerge in History is to cease in Protestantism.

    • Um…Huh?

      To immerse in science is to cease in religion.

  • Chris Bracco

    Congratulations on the discovery (rest assured it wasn’t yours alone!), and welcome! Honestly, there are more answers found in faith, where skepticism is by definition put aside, than in non-belief, where too many of the “answers” only make sense if you ignore others. That may not make a lot of sense right now, but it will…

  • Welcome home to Rome.
    To paraphrase Gilbert Keith: Catholicism has not been tried and found wanting, it has been tried and found hard and rarely really tired. As a cradle Catholic I have had doubts and questions, but that is the cross and test we face. Please pray for me as I will for you that we both continue our faith journey towards to the New Jerusalem. As to the Church’s teaching regarding homosexual ACTS and people afflicted with same sex attraction (like me sinners – very little difference) – a quote from Fulton Sheen may help:
    “There is no other subject on which the average mind is so much confused as the subject of tolerance and intolerance. Tolerance is always supposed to be desirable because it is taken to be synonymous with broadmindedness. Intolerance is always supposed to be undesirable, because it is taken to be synonymous with narrow-mindedness. This is not true, for tolerance and intolerance apply to two totally different things. Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons.”

    “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi” (What you pray is what you believe is what you live)

  • StephenDvd

    Thanks for posting this, as it is very inspiring!

    I came to faith in my mid-30s, but was never an athiest — I practiced Buddhism (“God is irrelvant”) and studied other eastern mystic traditions (Hinduism: “everything is god”). I became a Christian as the direct result of my own arrogance. I thought that I could read the Bible cover-to-cover and, without listening to church propaganda, I was spiritually mature enough to come to different conclusions. I ended up realizing I was wrong about everything.

    I have been a believer for over 20 years now and hold a Master degree in Christian Theology, although I chose not to go into ministry for various reasons.

    But I would recommend that instead of focusing on church dogma and traditions, the best way to grow in Spirit and Knowledge is to emerse yourself in Scripture, starting with the Gospels. It will lead you where you need to go. (It’s also the path taken by St. Paul and many many other adult converts)

    And may God Bless you on your Spiritual Journey!

  • A.) There’s no such thing as an atheist – see Romans 1:18 – 23.
    B.) The Roman Catholic Church is a synagogue of Satan and not a biblical church under the Lordship of the biblical Jesus. See this short booklet:

    • Chris

      Well that particular part of the Bible is definitely wrong, then.

  • Peter Smith

    I made the same transition two to three years ago and embraced Catholicism as well. I have never looked back. My life has become so very happy and purposeful. Suddenly the world makes sense. You used consideration of morality as the trigger for your conversion. I started with science and came to the stunning conclusion that science points to God. Finally I came to the conclusion that God does really exist. Looking back, I see my former atheism as a wasteland, dry, barren, lacking rationality and beauty.

  • TheTruthMatters

    Leah, Here is an awesome taste of what you have been given…………….
    1 Peter 1:3-9
    3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

  • Maureen

    Glad you answered the call, Leah. I know it’s hard to change your mind in public, so congratulations on that, too!

    • Um…Huh?

      yes, it’s so hard to go from a hated minority to an overwhelming majority.

  • Root

    I think it’s interesting that the evidence the author uses for her conversion is just an emergent property. What I mean by that is, like a stage-name might be intelligently designed by a musician for the purpose of pursuing fame and glory regardless of their birth-name, the author’s search for similar wants has led her to emerge her own morality and deity.
    People are really good at creating idols to suit their ideals of glory but the creation of the idol is still an emergence from their thoughts. The more intelligent the person is, the more likely they’ll emerge a new idol or many idols.

    • Jonny


  • Welcome, brother. To avoid inevitable intellectual inconsistency, try Calvin’s Institutes.

  • John Stanley

    You blog was posted at Hotmail…Welcome Home. I truly believe that if one sincerely searches for the Truth — he/she will find it. You are proof of that. God Bless. I might recommend an obscure devotional book…”My Other Self” by Clarence Engler (something like that). Going from atheism to the “Divine Office”??? I commend you….so much for getting just putting your toe in water…

  • Dear Miss Libresco:

    I’ve not read over all the comments, but I hope your former colleagues in uncertainty are being gracious about all this. As for the various protestants stomping your decision to cross the Tiber, don’t get entangled in fresh wars right away, since you are starting out. The basic issue in all of this is “By What Authority?”, and that sorts out a lot of claims and counter-claims.

    We’ve never met, but I’d like to warmly welcome you into the household of faith. By incorporation into the body of Christ, we are now brother and sister.

    For reading and growing in mind and faith, consider:
    Touchstone Magazine
    First Things

    The writings of Chesterton (of course), Tolkien, Anthony Esolen, Peter Kreeft, and bloggers like The Anchoress, Mark Shea, Mike Aquilina.. and that’s just a start.

    God bless!

  • Jon Woods

    This is joyous news. Welcome home Leah.

  • Carolyn Hyppolite

    God Bless you! Welcome to the body of Christ. Hold fast to the Lord and seek His face! I will keep you in my prayers.

    Peace in Christ,
    Carolyn Hyppolite

  • Mike Silva

    New guy here – hello and welcome home, Leah. Here comes everybody! I was struck by the similarity by your moment of recognition and that of C.S. Lewis in “Surprised by Joy”. Please read it if you haven’t already. Oh, and did I mention, welcome home!

  • Mitch

    I’m hoping this proves helpful.

    And I think you’ll find this entire site beneficial.

  • Ronald King

    It is apparent that many people love you, so you have always been a member of the family whether you or anyone else knew it or not. God Is Love.

  • thom

    Welcome to the world of Catholicism. Most of us do not claim to have all the answers. There are some things we just accept. When you reach that point you will find yourself to be very happy. As for your understanding of the teachings about the gay lifestyle I suggest you look at what the church has actually said about this issue. I thinkyou will find it not to be as hateful as the press makes it out to be.

  • Russ Davis

    Dear Leah:
    I regret the cloudy romantic attachment to “catholicism” that turns so many heads, including wonderful Chesterton’s misguided criticism of “calvinism” he clearly failed to understand, as his unsuccessful attempts to criticize it prove. For the sake of an informed approach to your conversion to your relationship with Jesus your Bridegroom I pray you will also consider where a much fuller and far more Biblical view of Jesus Christ is presented than is generally available for “catholicism.” It’s no small irony that some of the current Marion dogma (i.e. it must be believed to be “saved”) is what was once condemned as heresy in a past age when Jesus was exalted over Mary, unlike today where in practice she is practically exalted over Him .

    • Brian

      Russ, you couldn’t have studied Catholicism with any seriousness. Any church outside the Catholic Church can not be the Church of God so why tease Leah with a Devil’s church? Your link is to a heretic. Don’t insult Mary! Try to spell the Mother of God’s name correctly. You are a fool to insult Her. Read the following to understand the Blessed Virgin Mary’s place in the Catholic Church:

      • God surpasses any religious box that we would like to place Him in. Therefore God’s ‘Church’ is everywhere. If you think that Jesus would be pleased to walk among us and see elaborate gold detailing, extravagant cathedrals and men with their weight of gold around their necks and upon their fingers, then you must not know Jesus.

        • Brian

          Odd, since His presence is real in the tabernacle of every Catholic Church. He is not present in other churches. Do you know why? He founded the Catholic Church! He did not start the 39,000+ heretical protestant churches, each with a different doctrine, and each lead by men and women without authority. Those church leaders and their followers all have one thing in common. They protest His Church. Catholics adorn His Church buildings to venerate Him. Of course that is a great and logical thing to do! We love Him and that is one very small way that we show it. The poor also agree and who are you to speak for the poor? Selling all the gold and riches in the Catholic Church will not solve any problems.

          A great answer From Michelle Arnold,
          Re: Shouldn’t the Church sell off its artifacts?
          According to Vatican correspondent John L. Allen Jr. in his book All the Pope’s Men, one reason that the Vatican doesn’t sell off such treasures is that the Vatican doesn’t believe that the treasures are the Vatican’s to sell. They are considered the patrimony of mankind, entrusted to the Vatican for safekeeping, and cannot be sold or borrowed against. Indeed, the Vatican values them at one euro each for purposes of internal bookkeeping and spends a great deal of money to preserve the treasures for future generations.

          If such treasures were sold and the money given to the poor, that money would soon be gone and mankind would be culturally impoverished by the loss of such artifacts into private hands. Besides, it is not offensive to religious sensibilities for a Church to maintain such beautiful treasures for the glory of God. If the Temple in Jerusalem could be richly ordained in order to glorify God and to inspire human worship, the universal Church of God can be richly ordained for the same purposes.

          The Bible says that the poor will always be.
          For the poor you have always with you: and whensoever you will, you may do them good: but me you have not always. Mark 14:7

          You are the one who does not know Jesus! Get to know him and drop your ego!

        • Peggy Hagen

          I think Christ is pleased to see beauty created, in His name and for His glory. Remember the care taken with the Ark and the Temple in the Old Testament.

  • May your Journey Home be full of exciting, beautiful memories. +

  • Brian

    I got here via a Tweet. I never heard of you Leah but after reading your article above and the massive number of readers’ comments it became clear you have a gift from God. You just received another gift, the Gift of Faith. Welcome to God’s team, the winning team! Please take that fire of speech and pen and continue to work the non-believers until they surrender. It is a long road ahead but I am routing and praying for you.

    • S.

      Winning team? Hahahahahahah! Er, I don’t think so ..

      • Brian

        Your reference doesn’t prove anything other than the number of people on the losing team is growing. Quantity doesn’t prove anything. You think statistics are going to scare us? God is our team’s captain!

        • S.

          “Quantity doesn’t prove anything”? “God is our captain”????? What I love about catholics is that, when it comes to showing them up as deluded and ignorant, they do all the work for us. Have fun with your new friends, Leah.

          • Brian

            What I dislike about the ignorant is their inability to debate. Do you have evidence that quantity by itself is a good basis for proof? If so by your on logic one billion Catholics must be correct. They are correct but not by their quantity alone, otherwise we would have to credit the one billion Moslems as also being correct which they are not. Where is your proof of delusion and ignorance? You sound like a left-wing liberal for they ‘debate’ with insults and leave facts, reason, and logic at the door. You are a discredit to your team and an insult to your cause.

          • S.

            Debate? Somewhat ironic that a catholic encourages such an idea. But I am happy to oblige, Brian, since you – to your credit – seem unusually interested in dialogue, despite some rather dogmatic or confrontational statements in just this particular thread such as your statement, that one million moslems are “wrong”, your frankly rather bizarre analargy between myself and “left-wing liberals”, your rah-rah cheerleading about not being scared by empirical data showing society turning its back on religion and the somewhat weird “God is our captain” statement.

            The data I referenced were intended to show a trend, rather than to show any absolute numbers. That trend is undeniable. It shows the continued evaporation of religious belief and – more importantly – the correlation of the rate this evaporation and the ages of the respondents. You do not need to be highly qualified in statistical techniques to extrapolate these trends going forward as the younger the respodent, the higher the level of disbelief. If religious belief were a stock I owned and I was looking at those charts, I would get the hell out right away.

            But, of course, you are right. Declining belief in something does not necessarily – of itself – invalidate the belief. What the data do, however, demonstrate is the increasing inability of religion to convince a population that is generally increasing in intelligence and sophistication of its case. When you combine this trend with the well-established and uncontroversial inverse relationship between the degree of religious belief and intelligence (, I think it is possible to make a scientifically sound deduction that as younger and younger believe in religion less and less as they become more and more intelligent – the logical outcome is that, unless something happens to stall or reverse the trend, that religion will become increasingly irrelevant and carried to, its mathematical, logical conclusion, will ultimately disappear. This is all logic and math. Nothing to do with the validity of the belief. Other than my rather faceitious opening line to this post, I have not commented on the merits of the secular vs supernatural argument here (happy to do so, though). Just logistics.

  • Tanya

    I think we Christians should reign in the cheering and the high fives and just say, Bless you, Sister– as we should to all who seek truth, wherever their journey takes them.

  • Rob S

    So, in other words, you figured out that morality exists,
    that it is not just a figment of your evolution!

  • Lonnie McDanel-Cornwell

    Please read the book, “Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola and George Barna, before joining any denomination. Very important.

    • Brian

      Lonnie, are we suppose to believe Jesus did not build a Church of His religion? So Jesus died to give us a generic vague church which we can do with as we please. You fool. He built the Catholic Church which is the complete Truth and the one and only definite path to salvation. The book you reference was written by ignorant and arrogant men full of pride. Any pagan traditions or practices adopted by Catholics do not dismiss the Deposit of Faith the Catholic Church, the Bride of Jesus, is here to protect. The Doctrine of the Catholic Church is ultimately what is important and not whether or not Christmas trees came from a pagan ritual. Focus on your own salvation and see the Truth of the one and all mighty Catholic Church. Any other ‘truth’ will draw you away from The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

      • Alan

        The only thing catholics deposit is sperm in young boys

  • matt

    Remember as you go through your process of discovery that Christianity as a religion is a construct of man. Man is be definition imperfect. Therefore Christianity as interpreted by us dumb humans is imperfect.

    There will be trials, but faith and a questing mind will carry you through.

    • Christianity is indeed a construct of men, men into whose hands Christ placed the responsibility of divining methods which are good, true, and beautiful for worshiping Him; he wouldn’t have given the keys of Heaven to St. Peter if he didn’t think he was capable. So while I agree that man is imperfect (by a Christian definition; I don’t see why any atheist should believe man to be incapable of perfection-in fact I thought a key difference between atheists and Christians is that Christians believe perfection is not attainable in this world, and atheists do), I insist that Christ did what he did for a reason. In a sense, as much as we have faith in Christ, so too did Christ have faith in us that we would follow his teachings. That said I insist that Catholicism is closer than any other religion or denomination to the religion practiced by the people who lived during and in the years after Christ’s lifetime; in fact, it’s the only religion to have retained so very much of what was done back then, and as a Catholic I would argue that it is the only religion to have been founded during Christ’s lifetime.

  • JesusInMyPants

    Atheism to Catholicism……
    Jesus weeps, then smiles and starts laughing his ass off. Best of luck with that Leah.

  • Michael Jeter

    Bless you, and thank you for allowing me to read of your experience.

  • Too bad you left atheism for a false religion based on false works. You are no better off that you were before.

    • Brian

      Ryan, where is your proof against Catholicism? History written by atheists shows us Jesus existed. The Hindus, Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, and pagans all accept this. Catholicism is the only religion where a prophecy of the arrival of its leader came true! How do you explain that one? If that isn’t enough, thousands of people saw Jesus perform true miracles. They were originally non-believers so why would they lie? Do you think they were paid off or promised to be mentioned in a forthcoming movie or the scrolls? Jesus died and came back and people saw him again! Wow! Do you think this was a massive conspiracy on a level never seen before in the history of man? You can’t explain how this could have occurred. You deny Catholicism yet can’t prove atheism is correct. The Devil loves you.

      How pathetic can one be to think his own self is the result of randomness and chaos, with a beginning from nothing but a fertilized egg, followed by a life without purpose, and an ending without future. Sad. I will pray for your conversion and then you can join the team.

      • Dan

        Brian, it has apparently escaped your attention that Ryan is not an atheist. Asking him to “prove atheism is correct” makes absolutely no sense. If I had to guess, I would wager he is a Baptist or Protestant, since they are generally the ones who accuse Catholicism of being a false religion based on works instead of faith. The rest of your post is likewise filled with nonsensical and presumptuous assertions that not only don’t apply to Brian, but have no foundation in reality. Simply because something is written in a book does not make it true – it has not been demonstrated that the bible is an exception to this rule, despite the objections of fervent believers.

    • Phillip

      False religion? You mean the historic, apostolic, catholic faith called Christianity that is found in the apostolic churches? Or do you mean your own man made, personal version of Christianity that has little in common with the faith of the early Christians?

  • Just to say – in Europe, especially the UK and Ireland, the traffic is not so much “welcome home” as “Please don’t any more quit!” – this is not JUST due to a strong outbreak of rationalism in the face of things like transubstantiation , nor JUST to do with all the abuse cover ups –
    many leaving the RC church are retaining their core beliefs – and some aspects of practice, They have become sensibly detached form the mass abusing, lying and conniving hierarchy that is the priesthood and all aspects of that institution…

    What is hard to see from a UK perspective, isn’t that someone might be attracted to the pomp and ceremony, any of the creeds or the comforts of the dogma, most people know enough about psychology to understand the drivers and the sense of belonging that eases the existential doubts of living with a rational reality…
    no what we don’t get is that people can want to join a church – the particular church (but there are others, like Mormonism and Branch Davidians of course) that carries the worst aspects of religious abuse forward as its major legacy…
    if the Irish can reject the church but keep the faith it seems very odd that anyone not born into that faith might choose to join it…
    but I guess its like poor people choosing anorexia, membership of the Tea Party, or other forms of self harm. Culture and the subtleties of its influence can promote the strangest reactions….

    If we see atheists in America converting to Jainism and Sri Lankan Buddhists turning inexplicably to Shinto – I’d be surprised.

  • Jonny

    Just found your site today… Feels similar to when you meet someone for the first time and you realize after a few minutes of conversation that they’re more like you than you thought would be recognizable in such a short time of knowing them. Which is to say, I find your approach to this entire subject and blog to be tremendously refreshing. I encourage you not to diverge from your use of logic and reasoning in your lifelong pursuit of knowledge and to never be shy about “showing your cards”.
    While many have commented on how tough this journey may be I would offer up the opposite. How exhilarating it must be to experience this like you have. Cheers.

  • chris shannon

    Check out the article below.

    The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality
    Theism and naturalism are contrasted with respect to furnishing an adequate foundation for the moral life. It is shown that on a theistic worldview an adequate foundation exists for the affirmation of objective moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability. By contrast, naturalism fails in all three respects. Insofar as we believe that moral values and duties do exist, we therefore have good grounds for believing that God exists. Moreover, a practical argument for believing in God is offered on the basis of moral accountability.
    Read more:

  • Angel

    I pray you will take the time to get yourself a good Bible, like the King James Version, and sit and read it from front to back. However, there is much that will be veiled from you spiritually. Once you admit you are a sinner, ask God’s forgiveness and thank Him for sending Jesus Christ to pay for you sins He will send the Holy Spirit and Wisdom to you. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God.

    I am not a Catholic, I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Very, very different. You cannot be Catholic AND follow the Bible. It is not possible. God calls you to be set apart, His alone.

    Catholic is a combination of pagan and Christian. Jesus is Jewish, the Jewish Messiah. Through His sacrifice on the cross, a one time event, He paid the price for the sins of the world. He says He is now at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. He also says that no one comes to the Father but by Him and that salvation comes in His name only.

    I pray He will call you and hold you in His hand and that we will meet one day as family.

    May God Bless you Sister and Praise the Lord who is patient to wait for those who will turn to Him!

    • um.. please do not read the King James version of the bible, LOL. Listen to your heart and put it over the words of man. Jesus was not brought into the world to ‘pay for sins’ . He existed as a Way to know God. The words of Jesus in the bible are not many, but those words that ARE there say all that needs to be said. Where it starts to go a bit awry is when other people put their own projections into it and begin to Make God in THEIR Image, instead of acting as one made in the Image of God. Love. Compassion. Acceptance. Amen.

    • Brian

      How about getting yourself a non-heretical version of the Bible and stop pushing errors. The following are some of the English versions of the Bible that Catholics use: Douay-Rheims Bible, Revised Standard, and the New American Bible.

      Your KJV bible had seven books removed by Martin Luther and other heretics who didn’t agree with the Church founded by Jesus. You are a heretic if you follow in their footsteps.

      “The Catholic Bible has 73 books and the Protestant has 66 books. Which is interesting from a numerological perspective 7 is the number of perfection or completeness, 3 the number of the Trinity, and 6 the number of man, of incompleteness, and even of the Beast.” (from Lief Erikson)

      The Bible was written by authority of the Catholic Church, the bride of Jesus. The KJV mutation was written without its authority, by arrogant men of extreme pride. Which do you think is correct?

      • Um…Huh?

        LOL, maybe there should only be 37 books then.

        Please eliminate 36. The Trinity (3) is telling you to eliminate imperfect books (6).

  • Other than the really brainy part, you sound a lot like me. I would say that you sound like you have more of the makings of a Christian Gnostic or at least a VERY liberal Catholic. As far as the anti-homosexuality taught by the RC, don’t try to understand it. It might make you unwell, just take the good for what it is. There is much beauty there. Live ‘christ-like’ and not like so many of the Christians we see these days. Leave out bigotry, condemnation.. there is no room for that in the heart of someone who really believes in the Truth/God. 🙂 Many blessings to you on your new journey.

  • Jill

    Welcome Home Leah…praying for much strength, wisdom and endurance for your upcoming journey…

  • James

    Your argument for “Absolute Morality” does not make sense to me. Virtue is not determined by anyone for everyone. It is determined by someone for himself. It is entirely dependent upon that person’s values. A person may exude virtue to you, but a “Person” cannot be a virtue in itself since virtue is not something that can be objective since it’s entirely dependent upon the person prescribing the virtue.

    Whatever the case may be, I find your situation interesting. Although I am not a Catholic, I have beliefs and values, particularly about sex, that many people associate with the Church. I do not plan on converting to Catholicism given the authoritarian nature of the Church, but I have given a lot of thought of being open to the possibility of dating a Catholic, merely because the de facto libertine atheist simply isn’t compatible with me and also because it wouldn’t be hard for me to teach what the Catholic Church teaches, as long as I don’t have to preach it. That job could be left up to the spiritual leader of the family, which if I do even get married to a Catholic, would be my wife, and I would have no problem with that as long as we allow our children to critically examine the religion and the objections that go along with it.

  • Kathleen Pennington

    Woo Hoo! Party in heaven! Welcome home!

  • Welcome, Leah!

  • Aurora

    Welcome Home, Leah! As a fellow atheist to Catholic convert, I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to hear this. I’ve always admired your intellectual rigor and commitment to truth, and I am honored to call you family. 🙂 God bless you always. You’ll be in my prayers!!

  • B. R. Lind

    I’m a bit late to the party, so you might not see this, but you’ll probably address it in future posts anyway… There appears to be a lot of hand-wringing over the idea that you’re joining the *institution* that is the Catholic Church (thus the cries of homophobia, child rape, the AIDS epidemic in Africa, etc.). Ms. McCreight describes Catholicism as “one of the most despicable, nonsensical, homophobic, misogynistic religions on the planet.” That doesn’t sound much like the Catholicism I’m learning about through your commenters’ exegesis and your meditations on St. Thomas Aquinas and C.S. Lewis and so on. What I’m wondering, I guess, is something like this: to what degree is joining the institution part and parcel of becoming a Catholic? To what degree do you accept “the Church” as a moral authority? You say you’re “confused” about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality – does that mean you’re going to keep working on understanding it until you agree with it?

  • Mobius118

    So, instead of allowing the light of reason to light the way you choose the path of darkness, shrouding yourself with the veil of religious ideology.
    A textbook example of someone fearing the truth.
    Best of luck losing the madness.

  • Deanna

    Hey, liked what you blog had to say. I always get stuck when arguing where morality comes from with atheists. Telling someone that I don’t think that they would be as good a person without a
    Christian cultural base just seems like it wouldn’t help the argument 😉 May God guide you in your journey.

  • Fortuna Veritas

    Some friends you had, haha, I’ve only seen such abuse heaped upon someone’s head by their enemies before.

  • Fortuna Veritas

    In any case, I wish you luck, because you’ve picked a hell of a church to hook up with if virtue is a high priority.

    Just try not to support the bad bishops and corrupt elements of the church hierarchy too much.

  • Ben Rous

    Congratulations Leah! That’s awesome! Very happy for you!

  • KenM

    Welcome to the Kingdom! Thank you for sharing your journey. You have courage. Keep that hand on the heart, even when the test comes. Remember.

    God Bless, you.

  • Richard W. Symonds

    English moral philosopher CEM Joad (1891-1953) also had the courage of his (changing) convictions – atheist to agnostic to theist – then wrote a book “Recovery of Belief – A Restatement of Christian Philosophy”, Faber-1952.

    Joad’s “Transcendence-Immanence” Theory is outlined at the end of the book – but it was largely ignored…until now.

  • ChuckiL

    Welcome and I’ll pray for you to keep your mind open while you continue your studies. Do understand, however that all who profess to be Catholic do not always teach Catholic doctrine.

    One of my classmates in high school is a Catholic priest. During 2008, he devoted much of his time to sending letters to his email list to explain how Catholics could reconcile how the teachings about Murder being intrinsically evil could be reconciled to voting for a supporter of abortion. Of course the Catholic Church teaches that intrinsic evil may never be supported. This Catholic priest’s teachings were in direct opposition to Catholic teaching.

    Welcome. May God bless you.

  • Mark

    Welcome home. You picked the right ‘denomination.’ 🙂 Glad to have you. I will pray for your walk.

    Glad to see you escaped satan’s clutch. Atheism is a total facade he created to divide and conquer. Of course there is no such thing as atheism. That is, everyone has a god. Everyone worships. Everyone has a religion. We Christians just choose to worship our Creator rather than movie stars, rock stars, scientists, naturalists, philsophers, machines, and so forth. And there is no more natural, peaceful, joyful, conflict free, assured, certain way to exist than to give glory to the One who it is truly due: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

    Now the hard work starts. Get your umbrella because satan is going to “make it rain” hard on you. He just lost a great soldier to the other side, and he doesn’t let ’em go without a fight

    Read: 1John 1:6-7

    In Christ,

    Cradle Catholic

  • Verl

    It is interesting to see people who convert to a religion. Most if not all religions tend to be quite incoherent. Arguments for faith tend to be week at best. I understand the difficulty of where morality come from, but accepting whole cloth the nonsense of Catholicism seems a bit irrational.

  • 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.

  • Edith Williams

    Very cool…

  • Teresa

    I found this via a link from Barefoot and Pregnant. Welcome home, even though I’ve never met you. The road ahead may be very hard, but know that people you have never even heard of are praying that you make it to the end.

  • Derrick Medlin

    Welcome home! Somehow, I had been reading your blog of and on for the past year or so. Not replying, just seeing what the ‘non-believers’ had to say about the believers. This is good news to those of us who throw logic out the window and take a leap of faith. You have done a lot of research and reflection on the logical part and came to the same conclusion we did. Welcome to The Body of Christ! You will, no doubt be a great defender of the faith in the spirit of St. Paul’s conversion.

  • Glen Brisebois

    Hi Leah:
    Have you ever read “De Moralitate Atheorum” by Michael Francis Flynn? He phrased it in Thomistic objectio-responsio format. It’s a total riot. You can find it here:

    God Bless,

  • VTA


  • Pol Llaunas

    Welcome to the Church! You will see… the Church it’s like a hospital. It’s full of sick people. Ill people. Weak people. Bad smelling people. That is what you have to expect. They all know they need healing. That’s why they are in the hospital. Well, we do some other things in this hospital: we sing, we get together, we create some art, we develop brotherhood and family ties… This is a place to live, but is mainly a place of healing full of hurt people. Be patient and have fun! Greetings from Madrid, from a typical Spanish Catholic (yes, now you will have a big family, with lots of strange foreign cousins!!!).

  • VTA

    Welcome! Yes, the Truth is also a Person. And that means not just a philosophical position you can settle into, but encounter with that Person.

  • JJA

    I do not know you, but I am absolutely overjoyed to read this. May the communion of saints guide you on the road ahead. God bless you.

  • John T

    What an amazing story you have – wow! I realize you have enough comments here that you may never get to mine, but in case you do … In regards to your processing of certain teachings of the church that you said you were still having to sort through, I thought I would offer this as food for thought.

    The Old Testament Law has two aspects to it – one with respect to morality, the other to atonement. Christ’s work on the cross fulfilled that which pertained to atonement, but it did not negate that part pertaining to morality. The continued purpose of the Law therefore is to define what sin is. It is indeed a crushing experience. One cannot look at OT Law and walk away unscathed. This is why Christ’s work on the cross is so important, because it gives us something that we cannot do for ourselves – freedom, not from sin, but from condemnation. This is a critical distinction. Sin still exists as defined by OT Law, but we are free from condemnation in the once-and-for-all atonement work of the cross. How we respond to that truth is a completely different matter.

    Blessings to you in your continued journey!

  • mcurt2s

    I read your story right before going to bed last night and laughed out loud and cried for joy! This Protestant rejoices with you. Bless you!

    God (or Morality) has initiated with you. The invitation and the journey to go “higher up and deeper in” lies before you. You will never get to the end of His goodness, His love, His glory and wonders.

  • Enrique Marcano

    Dear Leah, the parable of the Good Shepard that leaves the 99 sheeps to look for the 100th lost sheep is a story about you and your meeting with God’s Truly and Burning Love! LOVE TRIUMPH, LOVE IS JOY, AND JESUS SACRED HEART REJOICE WITH YOU! Let him be Your guide and Your life. Do not polute this conversion with intellectual bits and pieces. These are supports but not the fundamental Rock of your Faith. Meditate in His Living Word and use your discernment as your earthy contact cable. You already won a battle but your daily war just start. Go with joy and courage, be brave, my girl. God loves you and bless you.

  • Dear Leah, I’m very happy with the news of your conversion. God bless and welcome.

  • Daniel Maia Teixeira

    Seja bem-vinda à comunhão, sobre a proteção da Virgem Maria. Deus a abençoe.

  • Deus te abençoe! God bless you!
    Bem-vinda à sua Casa! Welcomme to your Home!

  • vegeta

    Meh i just read some of her blog. She just seems kind of hippyish to me. Sounds like she just got caught up in this desire for a magical world and one that has nice clean and cut answers. Thats what religion gives. It gives doublespeak in the appearance of answers to questions. As far as going for the Catholics. Im sure its just comes down to which salesmen wove the best sales story. I mean if you are going for christianity might as well go with the original. They got staying power and traditions. If I had to choose a flavor of christianity it would probably be the old, sexist, child rapists over the douche bags in Tap Out t shirts in their “new and exciting and hip” churches.

  • Hey Leah! Hello from Brazil! I just wanna say that you are right! So, welcome to the Catholic Family!

    If you have a little time, visit my Blog I’d like so much you enjoy it.

    God bless you!

  • Catherine

    Thank you for such a wonderful post that has true sincerity, open-mindedness, and intelligence-all qualities that are desperately needed on the internet.

  • Jfru

    The book,”reasons for God in the Age of Skepticism” by Tim Keller is excellent

  • Milena Fernandez

    Welcome home Leah!!!! Very proud of you.

  • Roberto Oliveira

    Be welcome in the community of Christ!
    I write from Brazil, I’m glad om his conversion!
    I wish much happiness spiritual evolution!

    God bless you!


  • Michael

    Hallelujah! Welcome home, Leah!

    And I understand a little bit how you feel: I was baptized Catholic as a baby but fell away slowly when I was young, and only returned a year and a half ago. I too had some problems, especially regarding the Church’s teachings on homosexuality, as well as gender roles. I believed at the time that I would never change my mind on the positions I held (which at the time were against Catholic doctrine). I was half-right. I didn’t change my mind on the underlying morality I recognized in the positions I held and used to justify my positions (both sexes and all individual human beings are equal in dignity and deserve respect), but I did change my mind on the views themselves.

    In fact, brace yourself, because I found myself changing my mind on MANY things I once took for granted–and if I’d known it a year and a half ago it might have given me more pause (although the underlying moral truths I’ve never changed my mind on). I’m not trying to discourage you from seeking and living according to Truth, just to warn you that, while you can get your feet wet as a start (if the water is too cold for you at first), you do have to go further until you’re completely immersed in the water. You do have to be open to that even if you’re not ready for a total nose dive into that water which–at first, given your current body temperature–would feel like it’s freezing but really isn’t once you get used to it. You can’t just wet your feet and leave it at that, or you might as well stay out of the pool entirely. That’s not what the pool is for.

    But may God speed you on your journey to find Him!

  • Iván

    Welcome Leah. I have never heard about you until now, but from now on I’ll follow you. I’m sure I have a lot to learn from you.

  • Deo Gratias! From Brazil, with love, you’ll be on my prayers. I”ll pray a rosary for you and for the conversion of all your friends.

  • Terry

    Congratulations from a revert ! … there’s a fullness to Catholicism and such a great tradition going back to The Source, that includes a strong intellectual tradition that allows one to see and use reason through the eyes of faith. There is also a great appreciation for mystery, which to me is a great font of humility. The Sacraments provide wonderful places to touch Grace / Real Presence (although certainly one’s prayer life and daily life present such places as well). There are so many treasures to be discovered in all that history, devotions, the witness of the saints, etc., etc., etc. And yes, there are the challenging positions/teachings to wrestle with, just as Christ’s followers did in John 6. You’re going to love it … and RCIA is such a rich place to start! Welcome and congratulations! Come Holy Spirit!

  • R. Craigen

    Hi Leah. A friend pointed to your post here; I’m sorry to add another large comment to your already bewildering collection, but here goes. I’m a Christian (protestant, anabaptist) mathematician. Although I disagree with almost everything else he says, I agree with Reuben Hersh when he asserts that “most mathematicians are garden-variety platonists”, and I happily place myself in that camp. “Garden-variety” because we tend not to subscribe to the classical notion of a separate, literal “realm of forms”, at least not as traditionally described (neither do I believe that Plato or Socrates did). It’s a helpful mental construct; the “realm” of the abstract is quite valid, epistemologically, but does not require a realized ontological location. In fact, granting this is problematic because it opens up a pandora’s box of problems like Russell’s Paradox.

    I like to think that I have deep thoughts about these matters but I don’t. Your story, couched though it is in abstract ideas, reminds me very much of my late wife’s story of conversion in which a strong role was played by a biology professor who was an outspoken atheist and used his class to expound on what was then a hot topic, the “Selfish Gene” theory of Dawkins. Like you, she realized that her inner experience of moral sensibility was stronger than arguments that presumed to subsume morality to practical notions of survival of one’s genetic heritage and natural selection. She was faced with a choice and — at the time — did not have the intellectual equipment to analytically resolve between alternatives.

    I don’t mean to diminish her mental capacity by referring to her “intellectual equipment” like this: I had, and still have, great respect for her mind. She was a profound thinker, though she followed different modes of thought than I often do. But her conundrum seemed like a modern-day quantum theorist faced with five or so seemingly equally plausible explanations for quantum reality — “many universes”, “fuzzy reality”, etc. How to decide, when there appears to be no empirical test beyond internal sensibility?

    Or a similar paradox we have in mathematics (on a “platonic” plane, if you will): You may be familiar with the fact that the set of real numbers is not commensurate (cannot be placed in one-to-one-correspondence with) real subset consisting of rational numbers. the “Continuum Hypothesis” states that EVERY subset of the reals is commensurate with either the real numbers or the rational numbers.

    This is called a “hypothesis” and not a “theorem” because, well, we don’t know whether it is true or false. In fact, in a sense it is neither, but it’s a limited sense: both statements can be shown to be logically consistent with the prior axioms of the real number system. This is the sense in which we admit that it makes no difference in our everyday approach to using real numbers. Pick one.

    Trouble is, it does make a difference whether the continuum hypothesis is true or false. We must have one or the other (obviously not both) in order to proceed farther with set theory, and the consequences of this are far-reaching in our discipline.

    So what do we do? This is an over-simplification, but what mathematicians generally do is pick the truth of the Continuum Hypothesis. Why? Well, because it’s logical consequences are better. In our case it really isn’t harmful, even if we’ve picked “wrong” in some objective sense. To understand why requires a long digression into the nature of axiomatic systems, and … let’s just skip that. But if one accepts the opposite of the CH, then one arrives at what is, simply, a more awkward system, and it makes life … worse.

    I digress above in order to come back to my wife’s choice. She decided that she simply could not live with a notion of morality that has no objective transcendent basis but was an accident of biology and physics. It was one important step in a long journey back to faith. (And all thanks to Richard Dawkins. Thanks Dick!).

    Like the mathematicians dealing with the CH, she was simply unwilling to live with choosing one of the two apparently interchangeable hypotheses. From an empirical science or purely logical perspective this seems like madness. But … why, then, isn’t it also madness to choose the OTHER alternative? And there lay the point: One must choose. There is a certain point beyond which you cannot make sense of the universe until you choose.

    There is another place in the world where one must make a choice between ontological explanations of a phenomenon: the science of consciousness. There are many views, such as that consciousness arises as an “emergent phenomenon” naturally in an information-processing environment when sufficient complexity is embedded in the system. I regard this as sophisticated hocus-pocus. It is not an explanation at all. Then there is a clever “denial” explanation: Consciousness doesn’t really exist: it’s an epiphenomenum in which the illusion of awareness arises as a biological entity “experiences”, through sensory feedback, interaction with the time-space continuum with which it interacts. In this view, freedom of choice is also an illusion, as the system is entirely deterministic. But this falls prey to the old “turtle paradox”: If the world is supported by a large turtle, then upon what does the turtle stand? “Turtles all the way down!” They cry … but an unsatisfying cry it is.

    I believe Roger Penrose is onto the right view of consciousness: We EXPERIENCE it, for heaven’s sake. So it cannot simply be denied, and whatever explanation we have must be true to what we can extract from that experience. “I think, therefore I am” says Descartes; “It is LIKE something to be conscious”, says Penrose, “but not LIKE something to fail to be conscious.” So consciousness is SOMETHING. Same idea — like Descartes, Penrose starts one step before even accepting sensory data: as rational beings we must first accept the substrate of our own rationality before positing any further ontological reality.

    What you (and my wife) have done, essentially, is a moral analogue of the Penrose/Descartes reduction: we begin with our inner experience and sense of morality — the individual’s experience of what (I’m sure you know) Lewis calls the “Tao” (a term he tailors for his own purpose to refer to that basic layer of morality accepted more-or-less by all cultures consensually or, in some cases, by omission). Unwilling to leave an empirically undecidable question unresolved, we resolve it by answering consistently with inner experience. We are “unwilling” to live with the alternative.

    Which brings me to a significant difference with the mathematicians’ resolution of the CH. While there are mathematical consequences of which alternative we choose in this case, they can be “undone”. A CH-choosing mathematician can at any point simply decide to choose anti-CH, and arrives at a perfectly consistent alternative mathematical system, and life goes on as well as before. But a platonic moralist who suddenly decides that morality is, after all, mere arbitrary biological debris, selects a path with permanent, and potentially harmful, consequences.

    I think, Leah, you have chosen rightly. Welcome home, where perhaps you’ve really been all along.

    • Um…Huh?

      Mathematical gobledegook is the same as philosophical gobledegook. Gobledegook.

      “I digress above in order to come back to my wife’s choice. She decided that she simply could not live with a notion of morality that has no objective transcendent basis but was an accident of biology and physics. It was one important step in a long journey back to faith. (And all thanks to Richard Dawkins. Thanks Dick!).”

      “an accident?” who/what says it was an accident? Was God an accident? (no, he’s always existed.) Well if he always existed, then why can’t the universe and it’s set of physical laws which led to the current universe through billions of years of complex chemical interactions have always existed?

      Inexplicable inner sense of morality, therefore God. Meercats don’t attack and murder each other, but live in a social group, therefore there must be a meercat God. Still don’t follow this logic. Billions upon billions of years of evolution is a difficult concept for the human brain to comprehend.

  • Michael

    Is it a “Jesus walked on water, and priests can literally change grape juice into blood” kind of faith, or something a bit more “pick and choosy”.

  • David

    Pax vobiscum.

    Welcome, Leah. I pray you do not find the waters of the Tiber too turbulent as you swim across. We will try to have a warm towel ready for you when you get here.

    I hope to read how your conversion develops from a matter of the mind to an affair of the heart. God can be quite subtle, but He can also be as blunt as introducing Himself as “I am Who I am, ” with the “like it or not” left implied but unsaid. Now that you have satisfied your mind that morality is a Who, not a what, you’ll need to figure out if you like Him or not. Then you will have to figure out how to work out your salvation with the support team He provides you is this sinful lot of us called the Church.

    I knew a few months back when I first encountered your blog that you would end up as one of us or a blithering idiot (not that the two are mutually exclusive). Between the power of the Holy Spirit and the power of your braein and spirit the blithering idiot possibility rally didn’t seem worth pondering. You swim faster than I expected, however.

    Lest my point be lost in my blathering, let me say again: Welcome! Glad you came.

  • Lynn Kauppi


    Just remember two things:

    1. There are many forms of Christianity. Don’t deny the faith of those that are outside the Roman Catholic Church.
    2. Ultimately faith is not about reason and intellect. It is about loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself.

    I say this as a Lutheran Christian, a heavily intellectual tradition that emphasizes that it is God’s grace that saves us, not our intellectual arguments.

    May Christ be with you on your faith journey.

  • PJ Jedlovec

    Congratulations on your decision! As a fellow math enthusiast (planning on pursuing a PhD) and a passionate Catholic, I welcome you as you take this step towards the fullness of Truth. I just started reading your blog yesterday, but I am already hooked (and not just because of your conversion decision). I can tell that you passionately long for truth and for greatness, and I assure you, the Church is exactly the place for you. It is where you will challenged to achieve greatness, and in doing so all of your greatest desires you have will be fulfilled. The Catholic Church is no haven for mediocrity. It is the place where, by the grace of God, greatness is bred. I thank God that His Church will soon have another passionate defender and seeker of the Truth.

  • CD Hanks

    I went the other way from Catholic to Atheist. What changed for me? I actually read the bible. There is so much hatred, death, murder, slavery, incest, unbelievable statements:talking snakes, asses, bushes and orders from God to kill entire tribes to seize their land, kill dis-obedient children, kill women who married and not a virgin, God actually committing murder, and infanticide including abortion that made it impossible for me to consider faith as a way of life. Please don’t tell me that things changed with Jesus, just not true, many verses in the new testament saying no laws changed. Jesus said you must kill your disobedient children-Mark 7:9-13

    • Um…Huh?

      Allegory. Anything that doesn’t make sense is allegory.

      I went from being raised as a Southern Baptist to Agnostic to Catholic (sorta) then to Atheism.

  • Megan

    welcome home, join us on the journey of not knowing everything, and still struggling daily, but resting in the immensity of God’s love. I’m a female baptist pastor, about to become PhD student, still got questions but find only one place that feels like home.

  • Coming this way by love of virtue! This is very good! That is a very good pathway to go on! Because virtue is the key towards progress, all the time, and understanding them, as there are so many, is always fruitful! It takes some hunting to find some good sermons and writings on it, but they are findable. Sensus Traditionis has some workshops, that can be helpful.

    The way of the saints is the way that shows the purest virtues.

  • Hunt

    You’ve been congratulated by misogynist and general douche Vox Day. Just one of the many gifts Christianity is going to bestow on you in the months and years ahead.

  • Chinwuba Iyizoba

    Well done Leah. The greatest dignity of the human person is the ability to follow her conscience. You have done it, let Christ guide you gently don’t be in hurry. Getting to know Christ is a bit like falling in love, it take time and commitment for love to grow. Catholic teaching of Homosexuality is truth. Here is a article that argues that those who place homosexuality at the center of their identity do so by choice, not by necessity: they choose to prioritize sexuality above other aspects of the self, and to build up an identity from that foundation. Other people may place different concerns – ideology, religion, culture, family – on a more important footing. I will add her that Homo are the only ones known by their bed time habits. Everyone else is a doctor, nurse and engineer.

  • As an Evangelical who sees the hypocrisy in ALL churches, I welcome you to the Family of God, and I apologize for all the Evangelical Christians who are criticizing you for your choice of church. And because of my journey in trying to sort out truth from church doctrine/belief, I give you one passage of Scripture to read; the passage that was a defining moment for me. John 39-40. Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer to us than He does here. He wants to be the ONE to teach us. Once we have spent time in Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, and we have gotten to know who He is and what He says to us, we realize why He tells us to come to Him for all truth. The difference in studying the Scripture and seeking other counsel or asking Him to reveal His truth to us through His Words is powerful!

  • Adrian Ratnapala

    Hi Leah, sorry for adding to your comment triage, but I have a question for you: why do you give short shrift to evolutionary explanations of moral instincts? You don’t provide any argument, or even a hyperlink.

    Human instincts, moral or otherwise, are facts about the physical world. That much would be true even if they had a deeper, non-physical cause. But I don’t see the need for a non-physical cause. It seems perfectly reasonable – almost tautological – that social animals will evolve mental habits that help them live together; why should it be a surprise that we humans have such habits? Why do you need the love of a creator God to explain them?

    Perhaps this is something you have blogged about before, but it if not, maybe you should share your thoughts.

  • Norman

    Welcome home sister.

  • James g

    A friend posted a link to this on facebook so I read it. As a follower of Jesus, I want to encourage you on your journey. I would also like to tell you that you shouldn’t confuse the fact that Christian

  • James g

    Congratulations on this next phase of your journey. Don’t letReligion get in the way of finding God’s love. Religion is man’s rules…God is not an “ism”. Follow Jesus. He was God and taught Love God and Love Your Neighbor Religion has rules… Following Christ has Love.

  • Hello my name is Paulo Eduardo, I’m Brazilian!
    I am very happy with your words!
    Welcome to your real home!
    Hint: read the treaty of true devotion to the Virgin Mary of St. Louis Marie Grignon Montfort!
    Feast in Heaven and on Earth!
    God bless you and Mary is always at his side.

  • Esther

    This is a really lovely post that made me happy. I wish you all the best. 🙂

  • Kathi

    Thank you for having the courage to enter the into the Tiber in spite of your questions! God bless you!

    2006 Swimmer

  • Welcome home my sister! Do not bother with opinions contrary to his choice, always remember that it was God who called him to this ministry. Stay calm, the heart of the Virgin Mary will always give you support.

    “Only the Catholic orthodoxy makes man happy, is placed like the walls around a cliff where they can play a lot of children.” G.K. Chesterton

  • Fernando Cury

    Welcome home Leah!!! Welcome!!!

  • Great news to hear, I am so glad for you. I pray that God changes much more people that were like you. Like the word said, Everyone will know who the true God really is before the end of time. Time is drawing near. Please PLEASE people repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior to avoid the wrath of God that will be poured down to the Beast and those that follow him and his image.

    Welcome to the Family of God.

  • You might want to consider the following syllogism.
    1) If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2) Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    3) Therefore, God exists.

    This argument has been made famous by William Lane Craig. It is an irrefutable logical deduction.

    Congratulations on your new discovery. The journey has just begun.

    One other thought. Life has no meaning, value, or purpose without God and immortality. Only the existence of God and immortality can answer the fundamental existential questions of origin, meaning, purpose, and destiny.

    God bless!

    • Fred

      I’ve heard this argument before….and I just don’t get it. How is (1) an obviously true statement? Why can’t objective moral values exist without a God? And, if it is simply that you need something eternal and objective to validate that something else eternal and objective can exist (and you call that God), how do you get to a specific God from that argument?

    • Chris

      Demonstrate 1.
      Demonstrate 2.
      Demonstrate that “God” in 3 is the particular one that WLC believes in.

  • JD

    Prepare yourself for being humbled to the ground.

  • Be assured of my prayers.

  • L. M.

    I’m a Spanis man. Today, you’re my sister, I’m your brother. Welcome to the Church. I hope you can visit Spain and read our interesting philosophers. Welcome home!

  • Diego Panizo

    Bienvenida! Soy de Perú y me encanta tenerte en casa…

  • Mike

    Great testimony! Recently wrote about two tests that prove what your conclusions seem to be. 🙂

  • Marcilio


  • Guadalupe Antonio Loera

    Welcome to the family. I will keep you in prayer.

  • david

    Hi Ms Libresco, I don’t know a thing about you, I just happened to see an article about your conversion and wanted to offer one little tidbit. Please make Jesus and the Bible the center of your conversion, not any denomination. It IS critical that you get with other believers who also make the Scripture central to their lives, but whenever “official” doctrine conflicts with the Bible, please let the Bible direct you. I think Anne Rice (I am sure you know her story) made the mistake of equating Catholic doctrine with Christianity. What God has given us in Christ (life now, and life forever!) is like a fairy tale, it is more than we could ever imagine, but we still live in the world and are still human. It and we are imperfect, but He is not.

  • Filipe Araujo

    Welcome Home 😀
    Don’t hear they, God will bless your way!
    Brazilian’s Prayers”

  • Emerson Silva

    May God and the Virgin Mary be praised forever for giving us the faith of the Apostles!
    From your brazilian friend!

  • Leonardo

    Welcome Home Leah!

  • Mayla Simões

    Welcome to the Catholicism Leah…I´m so happy with your decision, and here in Brazil a lot of people know about you…”Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee” (St Augustine)…I see an you a new Edith Stein (or Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)… You can count on my prayers..

  • Aragorn

    I really think you came to Catholicism for the wrong reasons. Morality is NOT a person – we’re not even sure that there’s such a thing as objective morality much less personify it. Until you can become comfortable with the thought that it’s okay for morality to be subjective, you would really want to find a source of objective morality. So far, the secular candidates are not holding up as neatly as God in terms of ontological grounding but that is to be expected given the very ad hoc nature of God. In neither case, however, (especially with theim) are you guaranteed epistemic access to it- witness the incredible moral stupidity of the many religious texts.

  • Taysa

    Leah, I’m from Brazil, I am a Christian evangelical, but I’m very happy for the new path, the Lord God has shown a world full of love and happiness, you will have peace … May God bless you always !

  • Sharon

    Leah, welcome to the great big Christian (not just Catholic) family! Best wishes and prayers for you as you begin the Great Adventure.

  • Janet Comby

    Cede Mile Failte, (100,000 Welcomes), Leah !

  • Juliana Poiares

    Go ahead, sweet!
    There are some party in Heaven right now!
    You’re really precious to God and I’m sure that He will bless you more than never.

  • There is the baby, and there is the bath water surrounding. I hope that as you continue to learn more about this Person, this Morality, you will recognize that much is Catholicism and broader Christianity are but used bath water that needs to be discarded. What is precious in the center is Jesus Christ Himself. He can be apprehended without the institutions associated with Christianity. To be more specific and more blunt: you don’t need church to worship and serve Jesus.

    Church and people will disappoint you. Only Christ never disappoints.

    • John

      Mr. Gantt,
      The reason the modern world even knows the name Jesus, is because He founded a Church. How do you think we got the Bible, or how did Christianity grow under severe percecutions before it was even put together in a series of Church councils around the year 400?
      Matthew 16:18
      And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
      Jesus came for all; He is not seperated from His Church. We are weak sinners that depend on Him, the one person who never dissapoints.

  • Jason B

    “I’ve heard some explanations that try to bake morality into the natural world by reaching for evolutionary psychology. They argue that moral dispositions are evolutionarily triumphant over selfishness, or they talk about group selection, or something else. Usually, these proposed solutions radically misunderstand a) evolution b) moral philosophy or c) both. I didn’t think the answer was there.”

    Leah- wishing you the best for starters. As for my comments- I don’t see how you’ve resolved the problem above by jumping to a vague and likely un-testable mystery as the answer, especially when there is zero evidence this mystery (onto which humans project ‘their’ desires and ideals and therefore create) ever told anyone what to do. Intellectual honesty would require, for starters, that you first demonstrate your above proposition to be true- i.e. that evolution ‘cannot’ account for our desire to treat each other well (I’m talking about the average person here, not sociopaths). It seems you’re forgetting just how incredible evolution is. E.g. have you ever studied “endogenous retroviruses”? Not only do we share many of the same retroviral infections with other primates on our genomes in the same spots (proving common ancestry) but latest studies show that viral DNA has been co-opted through life’s history and it takes part in essential funtions of our development (Pfaff etal, Nature, 2012). So to dismiss evolution as not being ‘good’ enough to explain something like morality in the face of such extraordinary evidence seems a bit reckless. Evidence of moral behavior is seen in non-human primates, for example, as well. And, as we’d expect, their morality isn’t as ‘developed’ because they can’t make all of the calculations humans can make in their forethought. So is it possible your writings here, and your Christian conclusion as the truth, might be an indication that your approach to reality is backwards? e.g., similar to, let’s say, a puddle of water becoming self aware and then coming to the conclusion that the universe ‘must’ have been made just for itself (and others like it) because of how so perfectly the hole in which it lays fits every molecule of its wateriness. Just a thought.

    As for the bible: I really hope you’re reading it from the beginning, and coming to your own conclusions, and not just letting people around you tell you what, and how, to think about ‘certain’ parts of it (they don’t have an ounce more access to ‘additional’ knowledge than you do) . And don’t forget there are 1.7 billion Muslims reading their bible who are just as convinced (actually more convinced) of *its* truth as any christian is of their bible’s truth. And new Muslim converts use the same arguments for their faith as you do for yours, and ‘feel’ all of the same feeling you’re feeling right now. Not to mention there are biblical scholars who make a compelling case that Jesus may never have existed at all (not that I believe them -I think the man around whom the stories were built ‘could’ easily have existed). If you can square all of this up with what you consider “truth”, and square it up being intellectually honest, then you’re onto something. But there’s one heck of a premise on which I’m suspecting you’ll have much work to do.

  • Interesting post. I, myself, am a catholic and came to your blog through Vox Day blog. Quite interesting your journey to Christianity. My best wishes as you continue to explore the Everlasting Faith!

  • Ryan

    Hey, I haven’t followed your blog very carefully, but I have read it before, and I guess I am a bit stunned by the turnaround. It isn’t surprising given your unusual moral intuitions, but… I can’t help but think that you are incorrect. I also apologize for not following the earlier comment thread.

    I mean, I would think that the probability that the Bible is divinely inspired AND contains Deut 28:16-68 would have to be low. I would think that the probability that the Catholic church was involved in the Inquisition(and various other immoral acts, including the coverup of child molestation) AND that they are divinely guided by God would be low. I would think that the various theological struggles such as the nature of the atonement and ongoing struggles between the dominant theory(Penal sub and/or Satisfaction) and basic moral thinking would also put the probability as exceptionally low on a basic level given the degree of theological confusion necessary. I mean, right, I guess I understand where you are coming from, but I can’t help but think you are selling your soul to give aid and comfort to one of the more prominant organizations of evil on the planet. I doubt there is anything I could say to cause you to change your mind on the issue, as you’ve been at this for years. This causes my own doubts in my assurance as I figured you were at least on the level of an epistemic peer or higher. It just strikes me as profoundly odd.

    I wish you the best, and I hope that you eventually find the truth. Maybe there is a “moral law” but I cannot see how one could plausibly exist that does not make the notion of a deity seem like a gross absurdity.(I’ve never bought the skeptical theist arguments, as the skeptical intuitions cut way way too deep)

    • Ryan

      Ok, I’ve noticed that you’re going back and looking over critical comments. I might as well elaborate(even though I think you’re swamped):
      1) Do you think you’re putting too much weight on your notions of metaethics being correct? The reason I ask is because metaethics, and metaphysics in general, seems like a field that intellectuals are known for having a very high variance on. If these people are epistemic peers and the variance is very high, shouldn’t your weight on/confidence in metaethics and metaethical answers then be relatively low? Do you think that under naturalism we should expect the trustworthiness of our ethical intuitions to be low(relative to other faculties) thus causing this intuition’s variance with naturalism not to really be a surprise under naturalism? (just like religion is potentially partially explicable under naturalism given a Hyperactive Agency Detection Device.) I just mean that it seems like your strong reasons for converting should be considered an epistemic weakpoint, so while it may be sufficient to just believe something like Dualism, that can hardly be disproven, it does not seem strong enough to believe in a Deity of a religion where there are massive large-scale implications for many other problems, such as evil, such as poor design, such as morally incorrect Biblical teachings, etc. I mean, even just Deism(or something close) may still be minimalist enough to be epistemically permissible… but I don’t think Catholicism qualifies due to the bloated mess of other doctrines you have to accept. Especially if you think a Holy Spirit is guiding that mess of a church. And note: Even though I was a Christian, it has never occurred to me that morality is a person. The notion simply does not make sense to me as if you were talking about how math loves you, as…. how do you even provide evidence for something like that? I mean, surely you don’t believe everyone secretly believes this, and if it’s just your own private tendency, then why not your own private defect?
      2) Have you considered converting to a less odious religion or even a less odious denomination? I think you know that your action is somewhat political, and you will be put up on the roster of “former atheists”, and probably even used in ways against your conscience. Could you look into mitigating actions like announcing yourself as an open apostate, or switching to a significantly more openly liberal theology? (Episcopal? etc)
      3) To be blunt… there’s too much nonsense in Christianity and Catholicism for me to take it seriously and for me to believe others should. You have to accept Christ’s atonement for sin.(and most theories are absurd) You have to accept that sin entered the world without the authorship of God.(which tends to seem absurd as well, particularly given the notion of Original Sin, which…. seems a gross wrong). You have to accept the problem of evil and believe it really has a solution, even though I know that many of the things wrong in this world are so brutalized that it seems hard to believe there really is something to repair. You have to accept that there is a Holy Spirit guiding the Christian church, despite the fact that there have been so many unnecessary wounds done by this church, and a performance that so many inside and outside the church have felt so critical to criticize. You have to accept that every “evil” Bible verse is either not really evil, or not really what God wanted to convey, despite this being the primary vehicle he decided to use to convey himself…. and yeah….. I cannot see how one wades past the baggage without special thinking towards God, simply because what would be expected of a rational agent would be so radically different.

      (Also, just as a correction. Ok, I did once buy the skeptical theist argument, and I hate myself for doing so. I did it defending Calvinism and God’s sovereign right to damn most of humanity to the blackest pits of hell… and…. yeah, that’s a point of shame for me. And… yeah, realizing that this kind of argument can justify anything brings a form of odiousness associated)

  • Gene Gourdeau

    I had not heard of your Atheist blog before. Congratulations on your conversion to Christianity. I was raised Catholic and converted to Evangelical Christianity. I have had people tell me, how could an educated person believe in Christianity. I respond by saying that is why it is called Faith. Our society is consumed with CSI type of scientific evidence to prove things in life. I did see a show on the History Channel on the Shroud of Turin, which talked about scientific studies done on the Shroud (the Christian community believes it covered Jesus in the tomb) and it was very interesting as the scientists included Atheists and believers. See two links following.

  • Laura

    Oh, darling! Welcome with all my heart! Go read chesterton’s book orthodoxy and revel in natural theology at its best–really, our natural sense that good means ssomething real (and wickedness something equally real) deserves our acute attention. God bless you!!

  • Very Welcome!

    Very welcome, Leah! It’s really nice to know about your conversion to Catholicism. I’m pretty sure you’ll find both support and critics in this moment of conversion, but don’t give up ’cause you’ll learn that it’s all worth it after all.

  • As someone who has/is also looked/looking into the Catholic Church, I’m curious as to how much “heresy” you have been told is allowable. You mentioned that you disagree with the Church on issues regarding homosexual relationships and universalism. Does your (future) priest and current RCIA co-students and teachers know about your potential for “heresy”? Are there limits to how much heresy you will be allowed to engage, once you fully enter into the Church? And by “heresy” I include blogging about your adherence to heretical ideas, in a very public fashion. How much of that would the Church tolerate, according to Church members you have talked to? And are you willing to suffer whatever fate heretics suffer?

  • Matheus

    Amazing! Welcome, i will be prayer for you. Que a graça de Deus lhe dê mais conhecimento e forças para seguir seus objetivos. Celebre o amor! Enjoy the Christ’s love ! Matheus G. , Brazil! ( i’m sorry for bad english kkk)

  • Guilherme

    Wrtiting from Brazil…

    Congratulations! Reason triumphs over obscurantism (that’s what new atheism is in the end) again!

    May the Virgin Mary and her powerful intercession protect you from possible trials.

    God love you!

  • bpuharic

    I’m not sure how you can say you’re ‘confused’ about the church’s stand on gays. It’s about as obvious as the Klan’s views of blacks. And just as offensive.

    • jen

      Actually, the Church’s stand on people with homosexual inclinations is nothing like the Klan in any way. The Church simply teaches that the sexual act was created as a complete self gift between a man and a woman in marriage, and that it is not a perfect gift in any other circumstance. Any other circumstance would only serve to cause humans to act apart from their dignity and their worth. As a Catholic, I love my friends and family who have homosexual inclinations. They are no less of people than any straight person, and they deserve the love that all human persons deserve. It is a grave and sad time when a Catholic (or anyone else) fails to give that love to a person based on their sexual orientation.

  • MarlovianDiscosophia

    “…my own philosophy was pretty kludged together and not particularly satisfactory. But I couldn’t pick consistency over my construction project as long as I didn’t believe it was true.”

    I suppose I’m a little late to the party, but this right here hits my position dead center. I’m a Christian whose 11-year internal discussion over faith, belief, non-belief, etc. has ranged me all over the map. From Pentecostal to Mennonite to Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy and back again to my childhood Methodist roots. I’m still not sure where I’ll end up. But Catholicism and Orthodoxy have long had a strong draw on my life and so I know that no matter where I end up, they will influence my faith and perspective.

    Best wishes to you in your continuing journey

  • David.

    Congratulations and Welcome to the Boat !!!!! Jesus is the Captain!!!! i will pray for you… God is good all the time… all the time God is good!

  • Slan21

    I’ll sure continue to read what had become my favorite atheist blog, but..
    Who’ll be there now to emphasize it isn’t enough to just say we’re atheists, that we have to do more. To deal with the philosophical consequences, to nuild other systems, to have great arguments with theists (not with that misplaced pride we see among too many atheists).
    Hope you’ll be fine.
    I can’t help but feel some bitterness now ;-|
    From a faithfull french reader.

  • Força e vitória Leah.
    Welcome to Jesus’ church Leah!
    I read your post in a catholic site from brazil.
    Congratulations for your courage.
    Place your life in Jesus’ hands. There will be many hardships but never give up.
    Paz e bem!

  • Adam

    So to summarize:

    1. The origins of morality can be confusing.
    2. Therefore, Jesus saved me from my sins.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t think Bronze Age men were correct when they wrote about a cosmic system of judgement that assigns humans to one of two “states of existence” depending on their life choices.

    Why is it so hard to understand that morality evolved like intelligence and height? We see examples every day of “good” and “bad” morality. When a young father eats less food than his body requires so his three growing offspring can have the food they need, it decreases his odds of surviving/reproducing in the future…”good” morality, and allows his genes more opportunities to be selected for within the group when his offspring are ready to reproduce. They may be more likely to repeat his generosity with their own children, and so on, and so on.

    But when a thief steals food from an elderly victim & improves his own odds of reproductive success by reallocating resources away from a non-reproducer…”bad” morality, even though his traits such as size, strength, or cunning may be eventually be selected for within the group – his kids will probably be jerks too!

    From here, it’s not difficult to see where empathy, greed, guilt, and selfishness comes from, nor is it difficult to understand why the definitions of “good” and “bad” morality vary so much across cultures and time.

    Personally, I always found the Ten Commandments fascinating as a study in cultural relative morality. Rape and torture aren’t important enough to be included, but 40% of the Commandments are reserved for taking great care not to offend God and His jealousy.

    I would venture to guess that your journey through Christianity will be a relatively short one, due to your religious and dogmatic experience with atheism (based off your other postings I perused while typing this). I’m not an atheist, agnostic, or theist, but I have the same doubts you and everyone else has.

    I hope you eventually find peace and understanding in the fact that heaven and hell aren’t real places for your soul to inhabit and your conversion to Christianity hasn’t done anything more to save you from eternal torture than if you wore feathers in your hair every day. That being said, you might enjoy life a lot more!

    With the feathers, that is.

  • Dear Leah, welcome home to the life-transforming world of faith in Christ and incorporation int0 His body, the Church!

    Bless you abundantly as you learn to walk again with new legs, so-to-speak. I identify very much with you as a fellow convert (I was agnostic as a teen and adult until my conversion). Totally changed my world in a wonderful way.

    May I humbly offer if it happens to interest you, my own (very partial) account of the first beginnings of my own conversion? I wrote several blog entries about it, starting

    (I only address the aspect of my converting from agnosticism to believing that God exists).

    It sounds like there are similarities in our conversions. My own conversion was initially by way of evil. My coming to believe there is a God, and that this can be known certainly, came through examining and thinking seriously (and with Lewis’ wonderful Mere Christianity) about the moral realm of human life, and how any non-theistic accounting of it simply does not make rational sense–is not adequate to actual real life.

    Bless you.

  • Cesar(Brasil)

    Não sei falar inglês. Espero que você conheça alguém que possa traduzir: Que Deus te abençoe e te dê Perseverança!

  • Thaina Oliveira

    hey girl, i’m here to send you some love from Brazil!
    welcome home (: we’ve been missing you in a while.

  • Mauro Alves

    Beautiful! Wellcome home Leah!

  • A very honest and brave post. As many have said, the journey has just begun. Keep thinking, keep praying, keep growing. You’re not the first person whose story has led from deep questions about morality to the source of all goodness.

  • Marcelo

    “Know, then, O beautiful soul, that you are the image of God”, writes Saint Ambrose. “Know that you are the glory of God (1 Cor 11:7).
    Ioannes Paulus PP. II
    Veritatis splendor

  • Maria Marina

    Welcome to Catholicism, Leah. I am Brazilian, learned of his conversion through a Catholic blog. God bless always! We are praying for you! Kiss!

  • Patricia

    Seja bem vinda irmã! Nós, Igreja Católica, estamos muito felizes por sua conversão, e mais ainda o Reino dos Céus. Alegre-se nas tribulações que sofrerás, é o caminho de santidade, logo conquistarás a tua coroa da justiça e serás glorificada no Céu. Deus abençoe pelas mãos da Virgem Maria!

  • swp

    How very sad to abandon logic and reason for faerie tales.

    • Fred

      How very sad to dismiss a tradition over 2000 years old that includes thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Chesterton, Newman, and MacIntyre as faerie tales based on nothing but an unacknowledged, and probably unconscious, non-rational metaphysical choice in combination with anti-religious bigotry.

  • Hi, Leah! I wanted to say welcome and if you are in need of support, contact The Coming Home Network. It’s a fellowship of Catholic converts and those on the journey into the Catholic Faith. My husband JonMarc Grodi commented earlier and he regretted not telling you about it, since he works there! Anyway, feel free to contact him at if you would like to have some support from atheist/agnostic converts to Catholicism. God bless you – we are praying for you! (You should also check out Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog.)

  • Lord Emperor JL the Wise

    Well if you ever get around to reading this hats off to you! Tiddlypum tea, scones, biscuits and all the rest! You know how sometimes you wish you could help people you heard about? Well I wish I could help you with what you’re deciding to do, going against previous thoughts (that in hindsight were never really yours) but what can I say if not this. Jesus loves you whether you love Him or not, and He will never leave you or give up on you, so without being too preachy welcome to the flock! Good luck! Happy providence! As a word of advice, read your Bible everyday and pray (probably been told these things), but as a Christian your measuring rod is the Word of God first and Philosophy second but whatever, I ramble ^_^

  • Michelle

    Welcome home Leah!
    You have no idea how many people is full of joy with your return! For real, i’s really exciting for all of us around the world. I’ll be praying for you (If I had heard from you before I would’ve started earlier), for your fidelity and sanctity! I can’t imagine God’s happiness. He must be truly pleased with you. Congratulations for being so brave!

    “Go forth and set the world on fire.” St. Ignatius Loyola. This is now you’re mission too!

  • Thank you so much for taking this stand! I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to know that people taking a stand for Christ does help some find the truth even from atheism. And it’s especially encouraging to hear you finding a route to the truth that’s based in morality; you’ve said some insightful things about it that even most Christians don’t seem to have thought of. It cannot be easy to do this especially since you already had a reputation to stand on as an atheist.

    I’d like to urge all other atheists including those that also have such reputations to seriously look into this — the stakes can’t be higher. Are you all willing to throw everything you’ve built away for the sake of your own soul? I realize that’s not an easy thing to do.

    And it’s so important to know that any who do come to Christ are welcomed with love by Christians, who are commanded to love even our enemies by Jesus, and we are all sinners who don’t deserve God’s grace, but Jesus gave it anyways. ^^, We were created to have unity or harmony between all humans, and we want everybody to come in to the joy we have found in God’s perfect guidance.

    Personally I’m not a Catholic. I was raised in a church that follows only the Bible, but I didn’t believe it, and I decided to spend many years researching until I could figure out the truth, if possible, and eventually I think I did find it. Or at least the basics; I am convinced that the Bible has to be true, and a lot can then be answered by figuring out what it means to say in the original languages and such.

    As to the many things Catholocism does beyond the Bible, I now think that many of them may be good. I usually worry though that the ritualism it seems to encourage and the heirarchical system with humans are risky; I’ve noticed a lot of people who fell away from the faith into atheism have given ritualism and other things about Catholicism as their reasons. But rituals can be excellent as reminders, which was what many were established for in the Bible. 🙂 And in any case, it may be that different personality types will prefer different approaches.

    I’m still figuring things out like you are. But yeah, I love that you have had the guts to make the decision even though you don’t necessarily understand all the parts of it. I’m praying that your faith will be strengthened and that you’ll “overcome” as Revelation puts it. ^_^

    Thank you again, and also thanks for your stand on truthseeking; I think I’ll be checking out a lot more of what you have here (heard about this from the Blaze). *bookmarks*

  • Thomas W.

    I’m sorry that you let your irrational thoughts rule you over. I hope you come back to the intelligent side. If not, I pity your illogical life.
    Someone who’s smarter than you.

  • Ned Hill

    Former atheist (philosopical materialist) here, now Catholic for 12 years.
    St. Anselm: “I believe so that I may understand.”
    Mark 9:24: “Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief.”
    Catechism of the Catholic Church 1878: “Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God.”

  • Am pleased you have come home to the Church! It seems that God is answering prayers that I have been praying for years–even for those I don;t know!
    Am also journeying in my faith…likely leaving Protestantism for Catholicism. Am slowly taking RCIA classes as well after a brief break.
    BTW, I also like steam engines, especially being a fan of Titanic and her triple expansion reciprocating engines.
    You will be in my prayers!

    Saw a link to your site via

  • Arun

    Why did you choose Christianity & not Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism ?

    Don’t they answer your questions about morality too ?

  • cbfromict

    As an Orthodox catechumen, I wanted to extend all well wishes to you, and my prayers for your journey forward. As many on here have already conveyed, the road is long, and often arduous; but always the LORD provides the portion each needs to carry on (Give us this day our DAILY bread).

    Please know that the road gets bumpy, as the pressures of the world vie for your devotion. May you find yourself in those times responding to Jesus as the apostles did when he asked if they would abandon him like everyone else, “Lord, where else will we go? You have the words of life.”

    Grace and peace,


  • Emilio

    I’ve learned about you on Infocatolica, a Catholic Website in Spain.
    I simply want to share with you my reaction after reading it. I read it after praying the morning office, and immediately gave thanks for you and PLAYED MUMFORD & SONS as loud as possible.
    We’ll know our name as it’s called again, by Someone we know, and Someone who loves us. I know as well what’s the meaning of “emptyness in the valley of your heart” – and I guess why we want to play such music so loud when we are happy.
    I’ll keep sharing more comments with you but I’ll prefer to leave you at the Truth which will refresh our broken minds… this is what I can wish you, the only Joy of my life: the personal meeting with the Truth, with the Hope.
    All best wishes from Spain, where you are always welcome.

  • Reading about your conversion really warmed my heart this morning.
    After having been an atheist for many years, my conversion came about when I was an active participant in the RichardDawkins.Net Forum.
    You can read the story here :
    or an (incomplete) update here :
    That was in 2008. On May 27th (age 65) this year I was confirmed into the Catholic Churchafter 3 years in the French equivalent of RCIA classes.
    I would love to exchange with you, if you are interested .

    • Dan

      Hi Richard!

  • Phil Turmel

    Welcome! Your post makes it clear that the source of morality in the world was a key factor in your conversion. An interesting take on it can be found in a classic book review titled “Memorandum from the Devil”, in response to an atheist philosopher’s book-length failure to find an non-deistic answer. I think you might like it:

  • Hey,

    This will probably get lost amongst the flood of comments, but I highly recommend anything and everything by John “Jack” Caputo. He is wonderful.

  • John

    May the Lord make you an instrument of peace, truth, and love.

  • Denis

    Life is a journey. No news there. Mine was dramaticaly changed when I returned to the great Church and discovered the power of pryer through the rosary. This maybe too big a strech for a new convert but keep it in mind. I pray the rosary everyday and it has made all the difference in my prayer life and my everlasting devotion to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless you in your journey.

  • Rene

    Great Start. To help complete your journey into the ancient unchanging Catholic Faith, may this website calming music and other broadcasts be most encouraging to you

  • Elisangela Vendramin Amaral

    Welcome to the wonderful adventure of being Catholic. I`m from Brazil and I was thrilledwith his testimony. Congratulatios, COURAGE!!!!

  • Dear Leah,
    You have made an excellent decision. Good for you.
    Richard Davis, PhD
    Associate Professor and Chair
    Department of Philosophy
    Tyndale University College

  • Jeff Lintz

    May you see in each moment the touch of His love, and grow ever closer to His heart. You are the apple of His eye.

  • Clara fonseca

    Oh,God! Welcome home Leah!!
    God bless you and your new journey, Leah! You will be in my prayers!
    I’m so happy for your decision!!!

    Welcome home, welcome!

  • Jay E.

    Welcome aboard! The hound of heaven has caught you!

  • If the Roman view of homosexuality troubles you, why not try a different denomination? Episcopalian, for one. Not much different in practice (at least to my Presbyterian sensibilities). For a thoughtful and transformative exegesis of the “homosexual” passages in the Bible, pick up “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality” by theologian Jack Rogers.

  • Lydia

    And without FAITH it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must BELIEVE that he exists AND that he rewards those who earnestly SEEK HIM. Hebrews 11:6
    Homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual…the message is the same. BELIEVE and SEEK HIM. It’s your personal walk w/ Christ. Maintain your focus on Him, and walk with FAITH, encouraging those around you to do the same…

  • Welcome home! Prepare yourself to abundant life =) “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10, 10
    Don’t worry, True will guide you.
    I want to invite you to come to Rio de Janeiro, next year, on July 23-28 to live the World Youth Day.
    You will experience God and His church.
    God bless you!

  • Daniel Farrow


    I’m not Catholic, but I am Christian. And, all I can say is ‘Welcome To The Family’! 😀

  • Theofile

    Leah, welcome!

    Been an intense, zealous Catholic for over 35 years. It’s a wonderful, rich Church that needs to be mined – such treasures.

    Along the way, a fellow Catholic introduced me to the mystical work, True Life in God, written through a Greek Orthodox woman, Vassula Ryden. Having read many mystics, this work is quite unique, and there’s nothing like it. One has to discern who the author is. In my case, my whole essence told me it was the Triune God. If Scripture is the blueprint for my life, this work is the instruction manual. I have learned more about God, how He is and what He wants than anywhere else.

    You can find it all here: If you have any questions, you’ve got my email.

    Pax et bonum,


  • Blessings to you Leah. And yes, steam is great too 🙂

  • this alleged former Atheist is a poster child for what Atheism NEVER WAS…. Our Atheism has always been about freedom FROM RELIGION. Freedom from priestly rape. Freedom from hell threats and heaven bribes. Ethics. While this pseudo Atheist has been about morals, pseudophilosophical gibberish & labelings. For 27 centuries since the first Greek Atheist declared to a temple prostitue: “Atheos” I’ll have none of your sex bribes, Atheists have been proud of their logic and science. Knowing and reasoning in reality. While this pathetic excuse of an Atheist is now siding up with the Nazi Pimp Pope Joe Ratzinger alias Benedick to cover up more evidence of murder, rape, fraud and the death of 6 million women annually denied life saving abortions or deadly disease preventing condoms…. The Vatican must be expelled from the United Nations. World Health Organizations must be made free to emply gynecologists and condom distributors. And this verbose excuse of a papist alleged former Atheist should be encouraged to learn from Catholic Worker Houses where real ethical principles are practiced, feeding the hungry, clothing the unwashed, housing the homeless, visiting the imprisoned & studying war no more…. you won’t find Catholic Workers or Quakers telling people in need liturgical shit or gibberish fictions of what and where a god may be. Rationalizing and verbiage is not Atheism. There is no debate. The god word is vacuous. Alleged deities have names but no title. Capitalizing god does not make Jeebush Jeehobah Ghost Holes 3=1 triintarianism anything but delusion. I doubt if there are many Atheists posting here. How much has this so called Atheist blogger been paid by Banco Ambrosiano? William Murray III was paid 50 thousand dollars to sign his name to LIFE WITHOUT god. And he remains a bribed Atheist working for the CIA in Central America, Dallas Texas William Murray Faith Ministries. All the Presbyterian Eads Family of DR Madalyn Eads Murray O’Hair all have closed ranks behind a formerly shunned Atheist hero to the world. Millions of believers may buy theocratic propaganda invented for an Atheist child given US Supreme Court protection June 17, 49 years ago, but the Eads family won’t tolerate published lies & character assassinations. What ever this blogger boy’s problem, he was not an Atheist gibbering on about philosophy. Our Atheism is predicated upon ancient Greek materialism. Matter & it’s indwelling property energey is all that can be known. Science is knowledge. Faith is fiction. Faiths teach
    ideas exist independent from matter. Alleged souls alleged baby gods born of vaginal virgins. Fake calendars that now are proven to be 4 years off minimum if at all an alleged baby god was born grown up to be an illiterate rabbi carpenter killed temporarily for 33 hours one Palestinian weekend 29 CE. Your fake bible stories do not pass Atheist reasoning. Your recent claim of conversion of an “Atheist” is dependent upon demonstrated Atheism. Gibberish about human trancendentalism might me nice for songs in a Unitarian Universalist congregation or discussion at an Ethical Culture Society, but Atheism remains the only reality on this planet. Until you believers present a rational definition for what a god may be & testable evidence for such an alleged deity, we Atheists remain scientists any belief is only extant in your brains. 843-926-1750 Larry Carter Center, American Atheist

    • An Atheist can never convert. What mathematician has ever converted to 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 ? A delusional college kid maybe, but not an Atheist. Trinitarianism and the entirety of the King James or Douay Latin Vulgate is legally obscene. President McKinley pardoned CC Moore for the crime of mailing obscene bible verses. Like Ezekiel 23:20 or 2 Kings 8:12 … you xian Roman catholics are illiterate, none of you read your fetish bibles, ONLY Atheists actually read bibles. Obsessions with fertilized human ova pretending women don’t need life saving abortions is Vatican criminal propaganda now directed at American voters to deny women health insurance from any US employer or federal government. “Rip open the bellies of pregnant women, let not anyone live but keep the virgins for yourselves, dash the little ones against the stones.” And an alleged Atheist signed on for this bible lie? Only in the mind of a 3 year old terrorized by religious parents 7 circumcised as an infant would buy this murderous insanity called catholicism

      • Contrarian

        What mathematician has ever converted to 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 ?

        Have you ever worked mod two?

        • leahlibresco

          Oh, I heart you a little.

      • Kat

        It’s multipication, not addition.
        1 x 1 x 1 = 1

  • mcewen

    I have been a convert for 30 years and only truly learned my faith after working with those who believed I was a member of the Whore of Babylon Church, they were a good and holy people and they were a blessing because they brought me closer to the church. One became a monk and my bible teacher thought long and hard, becoming a catholic(this was hard since he was the pastor of a spirit filled black church where they did shouted out to the lord, not mumble out the mass like us Catholics). Preach the gospel always and sometimes use words. welcome home and how come you get to see steam locomotives and I do not, I would love to see a steam train on a cold day in the mountains. it must be great. Bless you I will listen to Gospel train(to heaven) now. I have lived under communism where there was no God and there was no beauty, where there is beauty there is God.

  • Hey! Just like everyone else, I wanted to send you a heartwarming ‘Welcome Home!’ from everyone here in the faith! I understand what it is like to struggle with the nature of existence as well. If you are still searching for a greater understanding of Catholic Moral teaching, I recommend going to and looking for BrotherJR on there forums (a franciscan friar). Jimmy Akin, senior apologist at is also a fantastic resource. He is known in the Catholic community as a kind of apologetics terminator because of his vast knowledge, humble writing and speaking style, and almost robotic voice!

    Finally, I heavily encourage you to explore all of the Rites of the Catholic Church. The ‘Roman Church’/Latin rite is only one of twenty-two rites in the Church, many of which have beautiful histories and liturgies. Apart form the Latin Rite, there is the Greek Catholic, Maronite, Byzantine, Coptic Catholic, etc. Many of these rites are similar to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, but align themselves with the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ and Successor of Peter. As a Catholic, you will be free to fully experience any of these liturgies, and be just as welcome at a byzantine Divine Liturgy, as you would be at a Latin Rite Mass. Simply put, the cultural variety in our CHurch is deeply moving, and is a testament to our Global nature.

    Within our Roman Rite, we have two expressions; The Ordinary Form, and the Extraordinary Form. The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite corresponds to the missal (texts of the mass) of Paul VI from 1970. The Extraordinary Form (known as the traditional latin mass) has its roots in the missal promulgated by Pope St. Pius V, and is known as the ‘mass of the ages’. As someone converting to Catholicism, I strongly encourage you to locate and attend a ‘High Mass’, ‘Missa Cantata’, ‘Missa Solemnis’, ‘Sung Mass’, etc. in the Extraordinary Form/Traditional Latin Mass. There is a sort of Renaissance amongst Catholic Youth for a rediscovery of Catholic teaching, theology, and liturgy(worship forms and language). I personally attend St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, MO. It is a Church ran by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest-they are especially faithful men who do beautiful mission work in Africa, and celebrate a beautiful liturgy for the benefit of all the faithful. A short video that can help you understand some of what the Church is dealing with can be seen at:

    Make no mistake; there is varying degrees of…loyalty to the Church in these times. If there is an objective Moral truth, and the Church is the vehicle from which it is conveyed, we need to listen. I am almost certain that you will get mixed message from a number of people who claim to be ‘faithful’ Catholics, but rest assured: on matters of faith and morals, Catholicism is all or nothing. I have attempted to give you solid orthodox sources to explore the faith. Look at the writings of Cardinal Raymond Burke, Bishop Alexander Sample, and Cardinal Ranjith. Also, look at the Holy Father’s writings. We are very blessed to have such a humble, and able scholar as our Pope.

    I know I threw a lot of information out there just now-I really do not know how much you are aware of with what is involved in Catholic spirituality. It is a beautiful thing-there’s something for everyone, really. As you grow deeper in your faith towards the Sacred Heart of Jesus, you can be sure that he will hold you close, and open the history of the world to you in the eyes of his bride, our Holy Mother Church. It is a beautiful thing to be Human, and to be Catholic. I will keep you in my prayers these coming weeks, and look forward to reading more of your spiritual journey.

    Pax Vobiscum,

    Thomas I. (Ozark Catholic)

  • Custador

    Starting out looking for an explanation for morality and ending that journey by joining a global cabal of child rapists and their enablers? Yeah, that’s an irony that I don’t appreciate.

    • Custador

      And I’ll say up-front that I know you won’t see it that way, you’ll say “No no! It was just a few bad man! It wasn’t Catholics in general!”, to which I will retort:

      Bullshit. One of those bad men is now THE FRACKIN’ POPE. The absolute authority in your religion (barring your imaginary friend, who doesn’t really count since he’s so silent) enabled men who raped children to get away with it. Besides that, there are entire countries where not a single Catholic church didn’t have a priest who was raping children. And besides that, absolutely none of those disgusting, evil, child-raping priest would have got away with it if their congregations (including the parents of the rape survivors) didn’t lend them their support and put more trust in their word than they did in their own children.

      Shall I start in on condom use, AIDs in Africa, birth control in general, homophobia and further hypocrisy, or will you just accept that you belong to an evil control cult run by evil old men?

  • Phillip

    Best wishes for your journey, from a recently minted Catholic (Easter Vigil 2012)

    “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new” – Augustine, Confessions

  • Welcome at the faith comunity of the God!!!

  • Jamie


    If I understand you correctly from this post:
    1.) You didn’t know where ‘the Moral Law’ comes from and
    2.) You had this feeling and/or suspicion that ‘the Moral Law’ was a person(?), and you concluded from this
    3a.) That there is a creator god, and
    3b.) that prayer is an effective means of communication with it, and
    3c.) that Catholicism makes sense, presumably meaning you think Christianity and perhaps even the Catholic Church itself, is the one true faith.
    4.) You wanted to make sure you had reached the right conclusion . . . and so you told none of your friends or family what you were considering through before announcing(?)

    I know you asked readers to be charitable–and I really would like to be charitable–but my goodness, that reasoning makes absolutely no sense. So I hope I am getting this wrong and that you will detail a more coherent line of reasoning later.

    • leahlibresco

      Well, just to address (4), I talked a lot with friends and family, but I rolled out the conversations slowly, starting with people who knew me best (on both sides of the debate). I just put off telling all y’all.

  • Fernando Tossunian

    Hi Leah, welcome home, girl! Hugs from Brazil. Drop by whenever you want! Praying for you.

  • krissy

    From nun bashing to condom banning to shortening the statue of limitations on child molestation why on earth would anyone join Catholicism now? Its especially odd that the Vatican and Dolan keep calling gays child molestors but when it comes to the molestors in the priesthood they shield them from prosecution. Also the holy see holds a seat at the UN where they keep blocking reproductive health initiatives (and calling delivery rooms abortion facilities.) They should listen to the nuns more.

  • I do hope that you come to know God intimately (aside from Catholicism), but I am happy that you have made a first step in the right direction.

  • Well, I am a firm believer that each of us has to follow the path laid out for us, and no man (or woman) us fit to judge the right-ness of another’s road. With that said, let me jst say that I hope you never lose your zeal for intellectual questioning. And I hope that you do not fall into the trap of homophobia, and fear of the mythical ‘other” that Christianity is so prone to. Please try to remember that those of us who believe differently are not broken, we don’t need saving, we can be moral, good peole without the god of Abraham in our lives. Whether we are atheist, Buddhist, pagan, etc we are OK. You have the opportunity to be a voice of reason in the middle of what can occassionly become a pit of madness. Use your voice wisely.

    Bright blessings from a catholic to pagan convert.

  • As a former Atheist myself I would like to welcome you home to the Catholic Church! I know very well as a student of Science (Physics, Biology, Psychology) how hard it can be to accept the concept of God and Faith. Moreover, with so many religions out there, deciding which one is valid and truthful is another hardship. Nevertheless, I’ve learned that it isn’t us who convert or covert others, nor is it some source of knowledge that bends our intellect towards God; it is God who converts us and moves the mind and heart. Now that Faith is a part of my life, Science has truly come alive. Rest assured of my prayers as you continue on your journey of Faith.

  • Ron Edge

    I Commented on the wrong site, in case you notice:
    God Bless you Ms. Libresco! It’s hard at first, when you’ve spent many years denying what, now, you’ve accepted. As for the homosexual: God makes it quite clear that “man, or women, working with another man/women, that which is unseemly” is “worthy of death”; that those who perform such acts, as is the act itself, are “an abomination” to Him. That God loves all and Christ died for all is significant for OUR understanding because it teaches us, as Christians, NOT to “Judge” them. No Born-Again Christian that I know “condemns” homosexuals and I’ve been Saved for 50 years. We “condemn” the act but not the person. IMPOSSIBLE!! Shrieks the opposition. But, on a personal note, I’ve family members who are homosexual and, I assure you, hating the sin but loving the sinner is not only possible but perfectly normal. My family has women who’ve had abortions; some committed various felonies; done serious time. Even some of my Christian friends have fallen away and returned to his/her sin: “as a dog returns to its vomit”. From my Comment, it might surprise you: not sinless myself. l;-]

    Read the Bible, pray and get into Fellowship with those who believe in Christ. Don’t gnaw at the vexing questions but learn the basics which will bless you deeper than the stubborn questions of what God will do to those who die unrepentant. We don’t, and never will, know because, as He says: “My thoughts aren’t your thoughts and your thoughts aren’t my thoughts.

    Welcome to the Family of Christ.

  • FMJemena/UP Manila

    Dear Leah,

    Wherever your truth-searching takes you, PEACE. (That’s what we are on, anyway.)

  • Congratulations on the next step on your path. I hope it turns out to be all you want it to be.

  • Happy that you have departed from atheism, but may I suggest that you consider for perusal Protestant writings as well, such as those of Luther, Calvin, et al?

    Remember: Christianity is not simply about morality. It’s about redemption, because we cannot be moral enough to please God. That’s the whole point of the cross of Christ, where our salvation rests, in His work alone, apart from our works or efforts.

    That’s why they call it grace 😀

  • Miko

    Now to find Jesus.

  • Namg

    Welcome to truth. In regards to your confusion with the church’s teaching on homosexuality, I highly suggest reading the Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West. In fact I wish all Catholics would read it so that they could preach with love and understanding rather than from righteousness and anger.

  • Darrell

    So you chose to acquiesce to the desires of your significant other and convert to Catholicism? You said: “I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth. And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth.”

    Excuse me but really? Catholicism is the one religion most promising? For a woman? Do you not keep up with the morality preached by the Pope? I can think of some far more moral sects of Christianity than Catholicism.

    Why not call a spade a spade? You “chose” Catholicism because you faced a false choice:
    Option A: Convert to Catholicism to earn the love and admiration of those you are closest too.
    Option B: Remain a non-believer in which case there is a constant barrier between you and the Catholic friends who are not capable of understanding your position.

    So you chose the easy way out. No need to continue thinking. Now the Pope will do all your thinking for you.

    Could you not have used your rational thought one more time prior to converting and indicated the real reason was pressure? The available evidence indicates your choice was to join your friends’ belief system. Please present some form of evidence on why you think Catholicism is “best” over, say, any non-patriarchal religion.

  • Anon

    Sadly, proof that persistent denial of divinity is as mentally untenable as the assertion that one communes with the divine and has wisdom beyond understanding. My only hope for you and others in either situation is that you embrace your own understanding, recognizing the futility of engaging in systems that attempt to replicate some phantom reflection of a misunderstanding of the experience of being human. In the end, anything other, is mental illness in varying degrees of severity.

  • Peter M

    Wow. Terrible. Okay so you are converting to Catholicism because you are scared of dying or weak-willed and peer-pressured or whatever. That’s fine. If people want to do that they are certainly entitled, just don’t expect me to follow you or your practices.

    What really bothers me about this is that you are sullying the good name of ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ that led you to abandon your atheist beliefs and I assure you, it was a distinct lack of those that ultimately led to your conversion. I am a philosophy major with a concentration in ethics and I am appalled at some of your reasoning. Yes, the existence of good and evil is a tough question and its origins are certainly unclear. But they are just that: UNCLEAR. There is no logical progression that shows WITHOUT A DOUBT that morals are a result of complex socialization, or evolution, or god. However, some of those responses are more plausible than others and I would put God right at the bottom. So if you are intent on believing in those ideas (ideas of morality) you can explain their existence with numerous more plausible explanations like evolution or virtue ethics (see Christine Korsgaard and all the authors she cites).

    How to explain the existence of morality all hinges on one fact, however: does morality actually exist. Here is where you make your most egregious error and where you abandon reason and logic. It seems your evidence for believing that good and evil are real entities EXTERNAL from us is that you FEEL like this entities are real. Guess what, I felt like Santa was real for a long time, alas it did not make it so (sorry to break that news to you). Similarly, your feeling about morality says nothing about the actual state of its existence.

    But lets for a minute grant that these entities are REAL and EXTERNAL entities in need of an explanation. As has been mentioned before my numerous posters, there are a whole host of philosophers that can account for the realness and externalness of moral entities without appealing to God. But lets also grant (though I do not agree) that these philosophers’ responses are inadequate and we need to turn to a divine explanation for god. WHY DOES IT NEED TO BE THE CATHOLIC GOD?!?! I’m sorry to go all caps on you but this logical move you made is utterly insane.

    Lets grant that we do need a God for morality to exist. It DOES NOT follow from that fact that we know anything about that god, know anything about what that god wants from us, or know anything more about the world at all! This god may be many gods, it may be one god, it may be so foreign to us that putting a numerical value on it is meaningless. From the whole host of possible morality creating entities, however, you decided that the ACTUAL god is a homophobic and petty man who lives in a cloud kingdom and ritually sacrifices his son to save us from sin, even though he could have done that without torturing his son because he is all powerful. There is simply no logical defense of this. In studying ethics, I have only ever been tempted to admit that there may be some sort of unknown ethics-creating entity out there because that’s all the study of ethics ever implies. It does not imply that god is a misogynist with a son named Jesus who created the Earth 10,000 years ago. To do that, you need to suspend reason and logic, not use it as you claim to.

    • +1 Billion Internets

  • Ms. Libresco is nothing more than a quasi-intellectual ethicist who clearly never was an atheist in the first place. To jump from a complete disavowing of a high supernatural power to a VERY specific sect of religion, is mind-numbingly ironic – if not completely disingenuous.

    And I saw this quote on CNN: “Libresco is just switching the side she thinks the facts are on.” At first this entire story struck me completely irrational, but in light of the line above, it just made it laughable.

    Please, enjoy wrestling with your new inner-Chrisitian while trying to understand/believe/have faith in the tenants of Transubstantiation. Oh the fun you’ll have!

  • Botyfltiger

    can’t beatem joinem huh… Sorry to see you made this decision. I hope you can rest at ease giving up your free will and morals being a catholic now.

  • God

    Why Catholicism over all the other world religions? Connivence?

  • Calvin

    Welcome to a lifelong journey toward God’s kingdom! A life of faith is one focused on Jesus, and one of constant transformation. I pray that you constantly seek Jesus as the way to eternal life, and that your life becomes one that reflects Jesus into the lives of others. God bless.

  • Steve

    Weather your a jew, muslim, catholic, baptist, Hindu or atheist you are guaranteed one thing and that is to die. Only the dead understand what it is like to have died. We as humans are limited to our own ideas of this world, and religion is one that belongs in the dark ages when people needed something to look at for morality and guidance. Religion has been used by humans to dehumanize and reprogram enemies (crusades), and to give allegiance to peoples respective monarchs. I’m not an atheist as I believe that humans cannot understand the intangible. But I definitely don’t believe in a white Jesus or a god that speaks to its people in their native tongue. There are far to many politics involved with Catholicism and modern religion. I cannot support a group that molests children and supports hatred. Jesus wouldn’t be in his own religion I think had he known what people would do in his name.

  • A.

    Leah, I’ve never read your blog before. I am a fellow convert (not from atheism though). First–welcome. Second–It can be hard to describe one’s conversion–especially to people who have not had a conversion experience–because it is often such a long mental process before it is shared. It took me over a year to tell my boyfriend I was converting and almost two years to tell other people. I still have questions and struggles with some Catholic beliefs. You don’t need to work out everything now, or even soon after converting. The most important thing is a growing love for God and a growing desire to be part of the church. Praying for you!

  • Eric

    I was raised catholic. I went to catholic school for 12 years. I admire what the church does in some situations (homeless shelters, catholic charities, etc.). However, this morality is not guided by the catholic faith, it is guided by the general goodwill of people when capitalism is removed from yer life. The historical evidence for this is vast; just peer into the history of the church and you’ll clearly see insanity that has been caused by these beliefs in supernatural nonsense. Wars, invasions, murders, murders, murders, and kings serving at the will of the pope. I became an atheist after exploring every religion out there and coming to the same conclusion; religion is a drug for the masses of people. It is used as a way to come to terms with what we can’t understand because it takes the thinking out of…well, thinking! In short, it makes people stupid. It allows them to do dangerous, dumb, and ignorant things that are damaging to humanity and the planet on which we live. Its usefulness in the history of human evolution is far out-served and the only way humanity can ever advance is to shed this last vestige of cave-like mentality. I am appalled by the level of ignorance in society but I am flat out unable to comprehend or have any respect for willful ignorance such as what you have demonstrated in your post above. In fact most of what you’ve written above sounds like jibberish to me; not because it is so enlightened that I can’t understand it but, in fact, because it is so self-absorbed and filled with fanciful delusions that it is almost unreadable.

  • John

    I understand what you’re going through. I have gone through something similar myself. Both ways actually, i.e. coming into Catholicism and going back out. I have to say that the Church can provide a warm place for you, and a place that gives you roots and a solid base. However, there are things about it that you will find you will disagree with,