Friday, September 30, 2011

From Atheist to Catholic, huh? How that happen?!?

Here is a brief summation of my conversion.


First let me begin with this:

It was physics that lead me to God, not any religious ideas.  

After I was made aware that all this (reality) is not a random causality, I began to research every religion on Earth, including those that are "extinct," so to speak.

Folk Religions
The folk religions I saw as merely primitive expressions of the supernatural based on experiences with the natural.  Eastern religions (Asian etc) I saw as more Philosophical, and at first was attracted to them, but they did not connect with what I observed with physics in regards to causality.

They seemed to be more of a self mastery form of belief.  I then studied the 3 major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Islam
Islam I saw as a imitation of the former.  While reading the Qu'ran and questioning Imams and others, I noticed redundancy.  I got the sense that Islam was a "piece it together" sort of thing.

Judaism
With Judaism and Christianity, I had to study them side by side since they are related.  Judaism made sense, historically speaking.  It is obvious something happened in history that led the Jews to believe Israel is some special place, etc.  I then was curious where Christianity fit in.  That's when I researched Christ.

Was He real, or a borrowed pagan myth, or a mere lunatic?
These are some of the questions I asked.  After researching the "Jesus is Horus and Mithra" etc propaganda, I realized it was just bunk.  Atheist scholar Michael Grant even acknowledges this.  He states that Jesus was in fact real and not a replication of a previous pagan myths.  From there I began to research why so many Churches exist.

Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons
Growing up in NYC, one can see a different Church on every block, not to mention the Watchtower and Mormons who visited our home.  As expected, I did question them as well.  They did not seem to have the answers.  I also noticed that their representatives seem to be programmed to give a particular response to expected questions.  It was like Turning test where a computer is programmed to give specific answers when getting specific input.  When I posed a question on something, they were not prepared to answer, they then stumbled.

Evangelicals, Adventists, Pentecostals and Baptists et. al.  
Then came the Evangelicals, Adventists, Pentecostals, Baptists.  They seemed overly emotional and not focused on the academic part of religion.  In order to believe, one had to "experience God."  How the heck does an Atheist do that?  How can you "experience God?"  To us, their services look like a gathering of mental patients, so how can they expect us to interpret that as an "experience" of God?


"Experiencing God"
Anyhow, I questioned them about this.  If God is a mere "experience" of the Holy Ghost, then how do we know it is not just our brains getting a high off brain chemicals, the music and social gatherings?  I feel good when I'm dancing or doing Zumba, is that adrenaline-emotional rush God?  I don't think so...


The Bible
Then I questioned about their ideas on the Bible. They value the Bible so much, but could not defend it.  When I asked where in the Bible does the Bible list itself, they looked at me with a stone wall face.  I was asking where in the Bible does the Bible state what books should make up the Bible.  If the Bible is God's word and has the answers, then surely it would have answers about how it is supposed to be organized right?  Well they didn't answer this.  Then I questioned them about sola Scriptura.  If the Scriptures is all we need, then why attend a Church at all?  Why does the minister read a passage and then gives a sermon?  Shouldn't have the Bible spoken to us already and therefore we have no need for anything extra?


Christian Elitism
Moreover, I didn't like their judgmental tone.  They seemed to have an ax to grind with everyone who does not agree with them and insulted me in an aggressive neurotic manner.


Eastern Orthodox
I met some Eastern rite Orthodox folks and questioned them.  However, they seemed to have many contradictions in their beliefs.  Their prayers were also so clouded with ritualism that to an atheist it would be impossible to decipher what the heck was going on. I remember seeing smoke appear out of nowhere and thinking batman was about to pop out; and not to mention all the chants and random movements that were "interesting" but had no meaning to me.  

Catholic Church
Then came the Catholics.  I read up on them, got a catechism and read it, etc. I loved how the Catechism is set up with citations and explanations of why Catholics believe.  This helped me do more research.  I looked up those cites and then looked at more and more.  I fell in love with the order and academic tone the Church presented.  As a student of Science, naturally Science was my "religion."  Therefore, I had to measure all these ideas against it.  Catholicism was the only religion I saw as promoting science and literally developed it as we know it today.  They sponsored scientists, have observatories and encourage it.   Many clergy are scientists!  I eventually met Msgr Albacete who was a physicist at Nasa and a former atheist. How cool was that for ME - a young atheist physics student?  I felt at home.


One of the major times God got my attention
However, I never stepped foot in a Catholic building.  This came way after when this random lady approached me and called me "father."   I was dressed like an urban youth from NYC and she called me "father" and asked me to pray for her daughter.  This just sent chills through my spine.  I did not know what to say only that I wasn't a "father" but nonetheless went to the Church nearby with her and we prayed - or she did because I did not know the words she was using.  But I did do something mentally and basically said, "Ok mister sky inter-dimensional entity, this is your chance, stop hiding."

I felt this peace like the peace a child feels when he/she is in his/her mother's arms - nothing matters anymore, no worries, no stresses, just this never ending peace that fills you inside and you literally feel like you're glowing.  That's when I realized that there is something about this God stuff that is for real.  I was not "stimulated" by emotions, music or a social gathering as with the Evangelicals.  I was with this lady in a dark empty Catholic building, no music, just the random car horns from traffic outside echoing.  God made the move.

To add to to the "chills," the lady stepped to the vestibule to get "holy water" and I went after her a few seconds later to ask her name and observe this act and she was not there.  I stepped outside and no one was around.  Either she ran like Flash or was transported to the Enterprise because she just vanished.  I know she did not leave because I would've seen the sunlight enter as the front door opened, but no such thing happened.  Those doors were the only exit and entrance.


Eh... not sure.... I need more proof
However, I didn't join then.  I still did more research being the skeptic that I was and still am.  As an atheist, I had to find an answer.

"Oh it was the mind " "no it was an illusion"  "no it was something I ate that day."

We try hard to knock down anything supernatural even if our answers are ridiculous.  Well as you can see, God won.  :)   I ended up in Catholicism for the mere fact that it is scientific, academic, can be traced to Christ/disciples, makes more sense when compared to other non-Christian views, and is a feared global force that never changes despite the tides of the world.

In the media, it is the Catholic Church that is always focused upon.  Her voice is so strong that governments, the media, even academia must listen even when they do not agree.  This would make sense since the Church is Christ's body and Christ did speak with authority even when people disagreed with him.

Nothing personal against other religions
I do visit non-Catholic services once in a while when invited or just to enjoy their liturgies.  Every religion has a spark of the Divine.  As long as they're focused on the Creator, who am I to judge them?  Christ said He has other sheep that are not of the flock but hear Him call.      

2 comments:

  1. It is unclear from your description whether you even considered Pandeism (if not, fair enough, it is esoteric enough a theological model that it takes some searching to even come to it), or, if you have considered it, that you have given it a fair shake. Let me point to two aspects of Catholicism -- the cover-ups of child-molesting pedophile priests, and the quixotic condemnation of the homosexuality of consenting adults. It is clear that the hiding and shuffling about and protecting of child molesters was orchestrated from the heights of the institution, and from the very same heights from which unscientific and untenable homophobia has spewed. This bespeaks corruption from crust to core, hardly characteristic of an institution bearing an underlying truth. Indeed, quite the opposite of it.

    But let us compare the philosophy of Pandeism. All things are part of and within our Creator, which has wholly becomes our Universe, a Universe designed to give rise to intelligent life, most probably so that our Creator can experience from the vantage point of such life, and learn what it is like to live so. Now, this fully accounts for the lives of all the towering figures of theological history, of Arjuna and Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Gandhi. For all are themselves part of our Creator, and some surely may have had some special talent for touching upon a fragment of its incomprehensible underlying presence, and take from that some modicum of truth, some snippet which was but a molecule of it, and yet was overwhelming to any human mind.

    And so Pandeism fully accounts for all theologically significant experiences, for miracles, and things experienced by their limited human recipients as revelations and visions and prophecies, egrigores and spiritual encounters or emotions or notions. This fully accounts for your own "father" experience and your feelings in going to this especial church, a bow to the ego, a flash of energy from an underlying and nonintervening being not directed towards you, but created by you-- in your unknowing capacity as a fragment of our Universe's Creator.

    And returning to the problems of Catholicism (even ignoring its enslavement of tens of thousands of Irish women in the Magdelene laundries until only a few years ago, its science-defying discouragement of condom usage in nations with AIDS epidemics, and its politically shrewd but morally weak passivity during the Holocaust), it is simply not a universal truth. It is not something which a person born in a remote time or place could come to realize, absent some external intervention, and so most people who have lived and died on this Earth have done so without ever knowing enough of the religion to consider it.

    Not so with Pandeism, which can be reached by logical contemplation no matter when or where the starting point, and which is hampered only by attachment to unreason (both on the part of the religious and the atheistic, who stake an absolute position where no absolutes can rightly be known).

    And as to the problems mentioned before, Pandeism properly avoids any hierarchical structure, any of the sort of 'organized religion' which would even enable a body to become corrupted, to become a haven for pedophiles and an enabler of their crimes. And, understanding that all things are part of our Creator, and that each person has a duty to prevent those instances which are rationally discernible as causing suffering, Pandeism could have no irrational doctrine of homophobia. It is the very impossibility of such things within an understanding of pandeistic truth which sets it morally above any "organized" structure susceptible to corruption and to hijacking in favor of bigotry and biases.

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  2. Hey author of this, insulting Eastern Orthodox might not have been a good idea, since Byzantine Rite Catholics HAVE THE SAME LITURGY and every single part of the Divine Liturgy has meaning. As do the prayers. Although the theology does get confusing (prayers for the dead but refutation of Purgatory), and this other idiot that commented clearly doesn't no abuse sex abuse in public schools. But glad you're Catholic, although I am a little offended by your comments about Eastern Orthodoxy, since Byzantine Rite Catholics consider themselves "Orthodox in Communion with Rome".

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