He disagrees with me, my atheist friend, and we have some interesting conversations. He calls me on facts versus faith. When I offer him my belief in God in simple, childlike terms — if for no other reason I believe in a Creator because of summer fruit, because cantaloupe and watermelon and peaches and raspberries could not just have “happened” — he tells me I am basing my statements on the faith, unsupported by facts. When I say it is much easier for me to accept a God the Father, a Maker of the Universe than humanity simply evolving, he encourages me to speak with a mutual friend, a doctor who happens to be Catholic, to set me straight.
I know a number of atheists and agnostics. I respect their right to not believe or to doubt. And I do believe they respect my right to believe, but deep down I think they shake their heads, question my intelligence, wonder if I am mouthing the “party line” handed down by centuries of men in clerical garb because I am weak of will or short of grey matter or, or . . .
Here is what I want to tell them: I am neither. There is nothing about me that is weak willed. God gifted me with a decent IQ. And while I may have entered blindly into this relationship I have with God – I am a cradle Catholic who always has attended Mass, even when I was 17 and didn’t want to – I did not stay blindly in this relationship.
I am by nature a questioner, a former newspaper reporter and editor who in many cases asks as many questions, who probes as much as any scientist or detective or forensic doctor. So yes, I question. And, as I am sure many believers do, I also doubt. I admit that I have my moments. I had them in the past. I will in the future.
But in the end, I come back to this. There is no place else to go but to God. There is nothing else that makes sense to me. And while I agree there are many wonderful atheists and agnostics out there – my friend is a dear man – I know I am a better person because of my relationship with God than I would have been if I did not believe in and try to follow Him.
Ultimately, I suspect some of the atheists and agnostics I know believe I am a fool. And maybe this is the most important thing I can tell them: Good. Think it. That does not bother me a bit. I will gladly be a fool for God.
Patricia Quigley of Incarnation Parish, Mantua, is a freelance writer.