Monday, November 5, 2012

Paid Her Monday

A true skeptic is skeptical even of his own skepticism, tomorrow I may believe.
David Hume

Confession of a high school skeptic--I was one. I was so smart and dumb people were the believers.

We had moved into a nice old house. Two school teachers had lived there. They had left most of their possessions behind. One of them called one day. Could she please have her old can opener? But they had left their books. I didn't find any pirate stories or Robin Hoods, so I left them alone. I was only six.

Years later, when I had proclaimed my atheism, I went exploring in the attic. There I found a curious volume of forgotten lore, as Poe would say. It had a Latin title, the chapter headings were in Greek. It was called Pater Mundi. I was intrigued. Could this old volume, from another century, hold my interest?

Inside, I found the classic proofs of God's existence. Give him a chance, I thought. The old man doesn't know any better. I thought of him as old. But as he laid out his case, I was astounded. The author had total logic at his command. He was of a scientific mind. He was so logical, I was caught in the net of it all.

But the author went far beyond any pious reasoning I had ever heard. He said that the existence of evil in the world was used as an excuse for doubt. How could God let bad things happen? There were several answers to this seeming dilemma, he explained.

Maybe God exists, but is too weak to overcome the evil of the world? He went on. The presence of evil is only an objection to the existence of a good God. What if God was evil!

He asked one to believe if there was more evidence for God's existence than against it? A fair person would yield their unbelief if there was the slightest preponderance of evidence. Then he reasoned tons of evidence.

I was defeated, but would not acknowledge it. Walking home with a Catholic friend, I expressed my doubt. He objected. "Father Montanus says unbelievers just can't admit there is anyone greater than they are."

That was, for me, the fatal blow. That night I prayed with tears in my eyes. Forgive me Lord, I believe. I thought of the words of Jesus, "O ye of little faith." That had been me.

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