Dear Reader: This is a teen issue of FAITH Magazine, and this column will be a little bit different – just like your humble in-the-know writer. I have received a series of questions from young people on how to defend their faith. Basically, a Catholic young person has to defend the faith to two main types of people. The first type are atheists or agnostics. The second type are made up of other Christians who do not accept Catholicism as Christianity. In this issue, we will deal with questions from atheists and agnostics. The following are common questions that young people get asked, and it’s not easy to answer them in a quick, easy format. Parents, I encourage you to work with your young people on these. Here we go!
Dear Fr. Joe: How do we know there is a God? Basically, I like to tackle this question from the angle of design. Look at it this way: if you come home on graduation day and find a huge sign at your front door that says “Congratulations, Graduate!” you automatically assume that someone made it for you. You don’t marvel at the shocking confluence of random events that just happened to create a sign on your door that is addressed to you and your current situation; you assume that someone intentionally made it and put it there. It’s the same with the world around you. The basic idea is that whenever you and I see design, we assume someone designed it. We don’t look at a painting and believe that a random explosion of paint and paper rendered a beautiful work of art; we assume that someone painted it. The world we live in is infinitely more complicated than a painting. The interconnectedness of nature and the way our bodies work point to the work of a master Creator. For someone to say that a random explosion created the world and all its intricacies requires a greater leap of faith than anything Catholicism asks of you.
Dear Fr. Joe: Who created God? What was before God? Wow, this one is tough, and it may hurt your hair trying to follow it, but stick with me – it’s a great argument. Suppose I walk up to you and say “Did you change your oil?” and you respond, “Not recently. My car doesn’t need it.” Now, suppose I then said, “Not in your car, did you change your oil?” How would you respond? In the end, I hope you would realize that the question does not apply to you. You don’t have oil to change. The question doesn’t even work. It’s the same with God. The terms “created” and “before” do not apply to God. Why do I say that? Well, we look at the world around us, how it works, and we realize a real basic, important truth: everything requires a cause. You are the perfect example of this. You did not materialize one day, you are the result of your parents creating you. Each of your parents are a result of their parents creating them, and on and on and on. So, when and how does it start? Who were the first parents and how did they come into being? What was their cause? If you keep taking this backwards, you hit a brick wall. If everything requires a cause, we see that nothing should have ever come to be! Creatures and creation that require a cause need to be created by something that doesn’t need a cause. That which doesn’t need a cause is what we call God. God, by definition, is outside of time and uncreated. If God were inside of time and created, then He wouldn’t be God. He would just be a really old dude. Kick that one around and see if you can make it your own. A lot of my information comes from Peter Kreeft’s book “Fundamentals of the Faith.” I highly recommend this book. Enjoy another day in God’s presence!