• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

On Those Circular Proofs of God

Stacy

I remember the first time I read St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs of God’s existence. Although I was already a believer and although I found them a wonderful adventure in Catholic theology, I thought they were circular. Sure, I thought, if you believe in God and you expect the proofs to prove the existence of God, then the Unmoved Mover, the First Cause, the Argument from Contingency, the Argument from Degree, and the Argument from Design all convincingly follow from postulates to conclusion.... Read More

Why Believe?

Sam Harris

"Faith is always at a disadvantage; it is a perpetually defeated thing which survives all of its conquerors," wrote G. K. Chesterton. Faith is the Christian word. Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., in his masterful theology of faith, The Assurance of Things Hoped For, writes, "More than any other religion, Christianity deserves to be called a faith". He points out that in the New Testament the Greek words for "faith" and "belief" occur nearly 500 times, compared to less than 100 for "hope" and... Read More

Faith, Reason, and God: A Socratic Dialogue

by  
Filed under Faith

Conversation

NOTE: This fictitious dialogue takes place between two friends, Chris, a Catholic, and Sal, a sincere skeptic, and centers on some basic questions here at Strange Notions regarding faith, reason, and the existence of God. Sal: Chris, before we go any further in our conversations about Christianity, I have to ask you a very basic question. Chris: Ask away. Sal: Do you think this is going to get us anywhere, arguing about religion? Chris: What you mean by "arguing"? Sal: Fighting... Read More

What Faith Is and What it Isn’t

Hands

The Protestant theologian Paul Tillich once commented that “faith” is the most misunderstood word in the religious vocabulary. I’m increasingly convinced that he was right about this. The ground for my conviction is the absolutely steady reiteration on my Internet forums of gross caricatures of what serious believers mean by faith. Again and again, my agnostic, atheist, and secularist interlocutors tell me that faith is credulity, naïvete, superstition, assent to irrational nonsense,... Read More

Augustine’s “Confessions” and the Harmony of Faith and Reason

by  
Filed under Faith

Saint Augustine

Pope Benedict XVI dramatically underscored the importance of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) recently. In a series of general audiences dedicated to the Church fathers, Benedict devoted one or two audiences to luminaries such as St. Justin Martyr, St. Basil, and St. Jerome, while dedicating five to Augustine. One of the greatest theologians and Doctors of the Church, Augustine’s influence on Pope Benedict is manifest. "When I read Saint Augustine’s writings," the Holy Father stated... Read More

Why Atheists Should Read “Lumen Fidei”

by  
Filed under Faith

Pope Francis

On Friday, Pope Francis released his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, which means “The Light of Faith.” Even though the encyclical is addressed to “the bishops, priests, and deacons, consecrated persons, and the lay faithful,” I hope that non-Christians will read it as well. Why? Because Francis explains in stark terms the differences in how “faith” is understood by believers and non-believers. He begins by explaining that to Christians, faith is illuminating, and is described... Read More

Philosophy, Evidence, and Faith: The Conversion of John C. Wright

John C. Wright

On Easter 2008, the renowned sci-fi writer John C. Wright entered the Catholic Church after a lifetime of atheism. This is his conversion story:   My conversion was in two parts: a natural part and a supernatural part. Here is the natural part: first, over a period of two years my hatred toward Christianity eroded due to my philosophical inquiries. Rest assured, I take the logical process of philosophy very seriously, and I am impatient with anyone who is not a rigorous and trained... Read More