Change is never easy.
When I started questioning my beliefs and distancing myself from church, I felt quite alone. Then I found a community that welcomed doubters like me, who had the same questions as I had, who felt the same way I feel. And I thought I had come home.
I immersed myself in various atheist and agnostic books, videos, podcasts, agreeing with many of them, and even writing my own articles (as regular readers of this column know very well) in a similar line of thought as them.
Many months ago, I got acquainted with a member of our freethinking community, Gelo, and although we have never met in person, I found him to be an impressionable and reasonable fellow. There was one major problem though.
Gelo was a theist, and a Roman Catholic at that.
For those who don’t know my background, I studied in a Catholic school all the way from my elementary years until college, and even after that, but I have never been a Catholic. I was a Bible-believing Evangelical Christian, as was my family. I was immersed in Protestantism vs. Catholicism arguments way before I gave up on the whole thing altogether.
And yet Gelo’s ideas do not necessarily fit the mold of what you would hear from CBCP proclamations or Sunday sermons. He agreed that my objections about God were valid and that he agreed with them, however, he claimed I was hitting a straw man – a caricature of God – and not the God that classical theists like Thomas Aquinas understood and wrote volumes about, and that even the concept of God I understood as a Christian was wrong.
He says in a recent blog entry entitled, Christmas Post:
“Intelligent people rightly find illogical the proposition that such a being (or beings) exists. And the problem is that both the religious and the skeptic have little time to parse through the metaphysical obscurities — or, as Dennet would say, “deepities” — of theology in order to get a better conceptual framework with which to view God.”
In other words, he is contending that most atheists and agnostics are arguing against an idea of God that the truly intelligent theist finds as illogical as they do. The problem, however, is that most atheists and agnostics do not even take the time and effort to understand what classical theism is all about. They like hitting the easy targets because well, it’s so easy and convenient to do so.
“Unsurprisingly they are left ill-prepared to see Him as nothing more than a divine tinkerer, or, more famously, as Paley’s watchmaker. This is why we often see a theology that is more akin to that of Pat Robertson and Kirk Cameron than to that of Alvin Plantinga or Edward Feser.”
Gelo suggested I read a book by Edward Feser, a philosophy professor who was once an atheist but later also turned to theism and is now a Roman Catholic, which I did and found fascinating although I would have to read it again because a lot of the philosophy went over my head.
So anyway, after several months of putting that book down, I have decided to revisit classical theism in more detail and may even write about it in future articles. I have found out that I understand best when trying to make other people understand what is in my head. It’s like the principle that the teacher also learns when he teaches.
Change is never easy. I have built a comfort zone around the fact that I have gained some notoriety in being that “atheist” writer, so this may come as a surprise to some of my readers. But I have said before and I will say it again: I am committed to neither theism nor atheism. I am committed to truth by way of reason, logic and evidence, wherever that may lead.
So I don’t know where this will end up (or if it will ever end, for that matter), but it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.