Atheism

This reflection is by Larry Peterson of the Catholic Writers Guild. It is reprinted from the guild’s blog April 5, 1016.

Ten  years ago, NASA’s new, Horizon Spacecraft left our humble, little planet and began its voyage to to the edges of our solar system and beyond. After traveling 3 billion-plus miles, New Horizon finally passed Pluto, the furthest planet from our sun. I don’t know about you but I find it so humbling and awe inspiring that we human beings, using the perfection that surrounds us, can mange to find a planet that is so far away. Yet, within our universe, it would be as close as a neighbor down the street.

How can we possibly know how to measure distance and location and density and climate relating to places that are so unimaginably far away? The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Who figured that out? How do you measure the speed of light? Assuming the number is correct, that means in one minute light travels 11+ million miles. That would be almost 16 billion miles in one day. Multiply that number by four and a half years. Do you see where I’m going with this? The light from our own sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth. Now scientists have found an “exoplanet” which is more than  a thousand light years away and they have figured out that  it revolves around its sun in 385 days vs our 365 days. WHEW!

Let’s move past Pluto. It seems NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009,  found this exoplanet; they named it Kepler 452b.  This exoplanet could be similar to our hometown, Earth. “Hello sister planet, Kepler 452b.” The Kepler Telescope has identified close to 5000 exoplanets since it started scanning the deepest parts of space. But this is the first one that could be just like Earth. Now, get this–it is one thousand and four light years away. Our closest star system is Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.3 light years away. That means our closest star system is trillions of miles from our solar system and would take us tens of thousands of years to get there. Kepler 452b is 200 times further than that. My question is–how can  we know these things?

 

By NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

What about Earth? Think of some of the things that Earth does without us thinking about them. Here is one example; we never think about TIME but without its never ending accuracy we would have chaos. There are 24 hours in a day. Not 25 or 23 or 24.8, but 24. What if there were a random number of hours in a day? Imagine the possibilities? So how did we get 24 hours in a day? One word can answer that question, “perfection.”

What about explosions? (Please bear with me–I do intend to make a point.) Explosions are destructive and, for the most part, maim, kill and destroy. Last Fourth of July a guy in Maine, in a festive frame of mind, brilliantly set a rocket off from the top of his head. He died instantly. Jason Pierre Paul, the all-pro defensive star for the NFL’s N.Y. Giants, blew several fingers off his hand with fireworks. C. J. Wilson, of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, retired because he blew several fingers of his hand with fireworks. We can go back 70 years and remember that on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb blew the Japanese city of Hiroshima to smithereens. It also killed about 80,000 people. It follows that if I set a bomb off in my car the chances of the result being a nicer car are–well, ZERO.

So now–to the point. The Big Bang Theory of Creation has become the favored explanation of how our seemingly infinite universe came into existence. Scientists do agree that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning. They also know that the universe is expanding and changing and dying, just like we do. To the question: At the moment of creation when the unimaginable explosion took place or whether it was something like a giant balloon expanding and expanding until it “popped” spewing matter outwards, it all had to be controlled. Who did that?

Random explosions do not and cannot result in perfection. Twenty-four hours in a day is perfect for us imperfect species to depend on, including the animals.  It is a contradiction to believe otherwise. Perfection surrounds us. We can predict the rising and setting of the sun to the second, the new and full moons to the minute. We know when the tides rise and fall and can predict their lowest and highest points to the minute. We know when an eclipse, whether solar or lunar will occur and where. We have learned how to use the world around us to maintain our very existence or, in many cases, destroy it.

Bottom line: because the universe is so vast and expansive (and apparently infinite) and all of it is moving and changing within a perfectly ordered system proves someone bigger and smarter than any of us put this in place. We cannot understand this. We cannot scientifically prove it. But, no matter what, we live in it and survive by it every second of every day of our lives. Perfection does not come from chaos. Perfection can only come from someone who is PERFECT. We here at the CWG know who that Person is even though we cannot see HIM or touch HIM. All  we have to do is see a rising sun, a blooming rose, a full moon, a rainbow…or hear the cry of a newborn baby or ponder the magic of one snowflake, unique unto itself.

Maybe Dr. Seuss nailed it in his famous book, Horton Hears a Who. Maybe our planet Earth is really no bigger than Horton’s “Whoville.” Maybe we are specks on the end of a ball of dust. Maybe we are not as big and as smart as we think we are. We had to have a Creator. It is common sense. It is ultimately all in HIS hands. I am also sure HE subscribes to the famous sentence in Dr. Seuss’s book, “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Maybe those very “smart” people who reject what must be so need to breathe in a deep dose of humility and realize that this all did not just happen as the result of some random explosion or expansion. It is illogical and makes no sense (to me).

©LarryPeterson 2016

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“Life is all about the Journey, not the Destination!” (paraphrase of a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.) I saw this sign at the airport recently. Imagine! In an airport of all places!

What stupidity! Grab a passenger arriving at the airport to catch a flight and shout, “Hey, take any flight you want sir, it doesn’t matter; it’s not about your destination, it’s only about the journey – experience of the flight.”

He would tell you you’re nuts.

I don’t know about you, but if life is only about the journey and there is no destination (other than becoming worm food) then this life is ultimately a sadistic, cruel, cosmic joke and I want out!

St. Paul says if Christ is not raised from the dead then neither is there resurrection for us and we, of all men are the most to be pitied (1 Cor 15:19) and if there is no resurrection and life after death – the destination – then we should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die (1 Cor 15:32).

But I know better. Life is a journey in preparation to arrive at the destination which is all important. The journey is a means to the chosen destination. My destination and goal is heaven and union with God for eternity. There is another destination as well, but I’m preparing for the better of the two.

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Atheism is growing in America and around the world. But is there a good reason for its popularity? Do they know something we don’t know — or do they just not want some supreme being or a “God” to tell them what to do and not to do?

Is it reasonable to be an atheist? Which takes more faith: atheism or theism (belief in a God)?

I gave a talk a while ago called “Atheism: What You and Your Kids Need to Know.” We will eventually have this talk for sale on our site. The talk was fun and hard-hitting. In a simple way I helped the audience understand the reasons and implications for atheism and theism. 

OK, you are the detective and you have clues. There are very few possible options so it is really quite easy. My 3-page chart below helps you work through the clues. I used this chart in my talk to help people look at the clues and decide for themselves. Hope you find it helpful.  (To have this talk at your parish or conference, visit www.InviteSteve.com)

Click image to see the whole 3-page chart

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Is There a God? Does Heaven Exist? The Best Allegory Ever! The Stupidity of Atheists

October 6, 2014

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replies, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” “Nonsense,” says the other. “There is no life after delivery. What would [...]

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For those who thought religion was dead or the Catholic Church irrelevant: Feast your eyes on this!

July 30, 2013

For over a hundred years we’ve heard the foolish obituary, “God is dead!” The Enlightenment enlightened us to this truth and told us we were alone in the Universe. No God! We men are in charge and the center of all things. We shape our destiny, we create meaning for our existence, we can rid [...]

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Questions Answered on Catholic Answers Live

September 4, 2012

Last week I answered Questions from Non-Catholics. A number dealt with atheism. Very interesting show – and lively. Listen instantly on line HERE. For podcast download, click HERE. Here are the questions I answered: There are resurrection myths in many ancient cultures. Why isn’t the resurrection of Jesus just another one of the myths? What [...]

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Atheist Blogger Converts to Catholicism

June 25, 2012

To read the whole story, click HERE. ****************+* Apparently, conversations matter. Former atheist blogger Leah Libresco can tell you. She recently converted to Catholicism, and her story is making waves. One of the main reasons for Libresco’s conversion? The deep connection between the existence of God and the possibility for moral action. As Libresco points [...]

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Excellent, Easy-to-Read Article on Atheism

December 9, 2011

Click here for the article

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Why Young People Drop Out of Church (Protestant and Catholic) and Leave the Faith

November 26, 2011

A book and a review evaluate the sad but predictable situation. The Zenit article begins: 1. Churches do have an active engagement with teens, but many of the young people do not grow up to be faithful adult followers of Christ. 2. There are a variety of reasons people drop out, so it is important [...]

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Devin Rose: Atheist to Catholic

September 21, 2011

Devin Rose Devin Rose is a software engineer and former Atheist. This is his story from Atheist to Baptist to Catholic. I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God. But it was not always so. I grew up secularly. My mother was brought up in [...]

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Why the Riots in London?

August 15, 2011

Since Janet and I were in England during the riots, the whole situation was a bit more poignant for us than if we had been far removed. British headlines and editorials immediately attempted explanations and suggested band-aids to fix the problem. I said to Janet and our friends again and again that the flurry of [...]

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