Tale of Two Atheists, Part 1

The assault on religion, Catholicism specifically, seems to have increased exponentially recently.  People of faith are under fire from the government, the media, and a long-time foe — atheistsRichard Dawkins is one of the leaders of the new atheist movement.  What sets him and his kind apart from earlier atheists is that he’s not content with letting believers have their faith while he maintains his faith in not having a faith (try to say that three times fast).  Instead, his mission is to convert all religious people to believe God does not exist thinking the world will be a better place without religion.  He has gone so far as to call for openly mocking Catholics.  At the Reason Rally, he said:

For example, if they say they’re Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?”

If the answer is yes, Dawkins suggested atheists should show contempt for believers instead of ignoring the issue or feigning respect.

“Mock them,” he told the crowd. “Ridicule them! In public!”

Richard Dawkins giving a lecture based on his ...
Richard Dawkins giving a lecture based on his book, The God Delusion, in Reykjavik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Publically mocking people; how’s that for a better world?  Dawkins is so sure of his views that anyone who doesn’t see the world as he does is an open target for mockery.  In his worldview, nothing can exist outside known science.  He maintains his positions despite the fact that known science is always expanding.  He can’t prove exactly how life starts or how the mass that resulted in the Big Bang came into existence and yet he’s certain God can’t exist.  Hopefully, history will show Dawkins views as ludicrous as Charles H. Duell‘s statement, “everything that can be invented has been invented,” made in 1899.

Dawkins’ attitude towards faith reminds me of a few mysteries of the rosary.   Look at Jesus’ Passion.  The Romans mocked him in the Third Sorrowful Mystery when they crowned Him with thorns.  In the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, while being crucified, people mocked Jesus telling Him to save Himself if He truly was the Messiah.  Like Dawkins, they demanded proof of Jesus’ divinity despite witnessing all the miracles He already performed.

During His Passion, Jesus did not perform miracles to simply please the mob.  Besides, there probably wasn’t anything Jesus could have done that would have sufficiently proved Himself to His critics.  After all, if the countless miracles and raising someone from the dead didn’t satisfy people, what would?  And so we find ourselves in a similar situation with atheists.  There is very little people of faith can offer them that will satisfy their need for concrete proof.  After all, the very idea of faith is that it is belief in the absence of proof.  But there is real evidence in the reality and power of faith.  It drives us to do good in the world and overcome life’s challenges.  Faith leads countless people to a lasting happiness, not only in Heaven, but in this life as well.  It is what drove Jesus to get up after falling down so many times under the weight of the cross.  Unfortunately, critics often ignore that God-given strength much like they ignored Jesus continuing to do God’s will in His Passion and Crucifixion.

Richard Dawkins, the new atheist movement, and the rosary mysteries show us how weak our faith can be at times and how we often don’t believe God exists.  While we may not be as brazen as the new atheists, we do certainly have those moments where we doubt God’s existence.  That disbelief manifests itself in sinful behavior.  If we were truly conscious of God’s presence, we wouldn’t sin because we know sinful activity separates us from God’s grace.  Why would we sin knowing that we face possible eternal damnation or at least more time in Purgatory?  But because we often have momentary (or sometimes prolonged) doubts in the reality of God and the consequences of sin, we do things that we should not do.

When we pray the rosary and think about all those mysteries where people mocked Jesus and wanted proof of His divinity, we should ask ourselves how often we do the same thing through our thoughts, words, and actions.  We might find ourselves behaving more like an atheist than we think.

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