Saturday, April 7, 2018

Atheism and Modern Paganism

We see a lot of paganism about. My child loves the movie Moana which is about gods and demigods and being characters being told by the ocean what their purpose in life is. We see characters like Thor and Loki coming back. Wonder Woman has Zeus as part of her story. These religions have been discarded for a long time. Why are we as a society coming back to them? 

What is happening is we have rejected the Christian story. Art wants to point to something true and good and right. Yet they are no longer able to point to explicitly Christian definitions of that. Why not? One big reason is that many people mistakenly believe Christianity can't stand up to logical scrutiny. That it is not true. Leaving aside for now why that is, it becomes a lot easier to say something comes from Zeus or Odin rather than from Jesus. 

What they really want in most of these stories is a sense of purpose in life. Who are you? What are you mean to be? How can you tell when someone lies to you about who you are? How do you know your true purpose? The story tellers want these questions to have answers and for the characters to find these answers as the story unfolds. This makes sense. We love stories like this because we believe that our lives have meaning and purpose. We believe that we can get confused about what that purpose is. We believe that clearing up that confusion can change our lives dramatically for the better. It can be what one might call a conversion experience.

So what's the trouble? Well, the reason why we rejected the Christian story is because it did not stand up to logical scrutiny. Guess what? These stories don't stand up either. In fact, they do much worse. That is why they were rejected in favor of Christianity. So why accept these? 

The reason is because atheism is unlivable. What would an atheist story look like? A young person has a restless heart because they feel they are meant for something more. Then he is told that feeling is a lie. He is not made for anything at all. He is just a random configuration of DNA. He thinks his life matters because his brain has evolved to make him believe that lie. He is just wrong. His birth, life and death are completely meaningless events. The end. So who would see that movie?

They say if you reject Christianity you don't end up believing in nothing. You start believing in anything. Deep down inside we know that the pathetic answers atheism give to life's big questions are not really true. So we pursue sex or drugs or Marvel movies as the answer. We know they are not but our hearts want to love something. 

Does this prove atheism is false. Not logically. Yet is seems to make it inherently implausible. Why would the human person find the truth so intolerable? If that is the case it is a horrible state of affairs. The only way we an be happy is to tell ourselves a lie. Yet we inherently hate lies. 

It eventually comes to a point where Pascal's wager makes sense. If atheism is true then we can never be truly happy. None of our friends or family can be truly happy either. Humans just have no place of peace. So we gain nothing by believing it. We just end up with a joyless life that ends in a meaningless death. So if atheism is true the truth is so horrible that we have almost no choice not to face it and try some sort of escape. 

So why not try the escape that actually benefits you if atheism is not true? Why not embrace the greatness and joy Catholicism? If it turns out to be true you gain everything. If it turns out to be false you still gain. You have at least placed a bet that has a chance to win. 

Why Catholicism and not some other religion? Of course that is a fair question that has a good answer. Not as hard as you would expect. Science and history go a long ways to eliminating other religions. Is it that hard to know Zeus and Thor are not candidates? People who seriously ask the question of which of the many religions has a real chance to be true typically arrive at Catholicism very quickly. Jesus stands out among religious figures. Catholicism stands out among all the flavors of Christianity.