It's been a while since I wrote my original "Why am I Catholic" article and since then I have done a lot of growing and learning about other religions. This article focuses more on logical reasoning rather than historical while also pulling a little out of the Bible for the Protestant section.
As an aside, I am currently working on a visual novel game to evangelize to teens, young adults, and those who are interested in anime-like visuals called Wholesome Monster Girl Academia which you can Wishlist or play the demo on Steam. It's about a young man who gets sent to a private Catholic high school and many of its students are monster people. Throughout the adventure, the main character and the reader come to understand more about the Catholic Christian faith while exploring their own friendship and even (completely chaste and wholesome) romance.
Without further ado, here's the article:
THE ONTOLOGICAL CONCLUSION
Although I was raised in the Catholic faith, it’s not like I never questioned it. Very early on, in Middle or High School, I came up with a proof of God’s existence using pure logic based on how I understood how scientific reasoning worked and what non-believers could possible comprehend using a scientific reasoning. Lo and behold, not only was it how reason worked, it was exactly one of the five very popular “Proofs for God’s existence” that St. Thomas Aquinas himself thought up.
I had never been exposed to St. Thomas Aquinas until much later, but in my mind I reasoned similarly: “If something cannot come from nothing, as science upholds as true, then there must have been something that created everything else that did not itself need to be created.” The original proposition by St. Thomas was that since things in motion had to have had a first mover. We both came to the conclusion that this first creator or first mover had to be what we understand to be God.
There are various other was to come to this conclusion, but this was the one that stuck to me and I had never heard of any contradiction. However, it doesn’t necessarily prove the Christian God to be the one true God. But it didn’t really need to for me at that point. That would come later. Faith was all that was necessary for me for the rest as I was still a child.
THE LEAD UP TO SEARCHING FOR TRUTH
Where it came to me that the Catholic faith had to be the one correct faith was later in college. Backing up a little bit, I had still received all of the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confession, Eucharist, and Confirmation, but I hadn’t really understood all of them necessarily. I just “accepted” them, whatever that means. I didn’t have a really deep understanding of any of it. Just that Jesus is God, God is the Holy Spirit, and they all love us. Also, be good to each other. None of this was really fleshed out for me, even if it may have been spelled out to me by teachers. I had to discover this for my own with my own love and passion for the subject.
In college, I stopped attending mass and started getting really into what “the world” had to offer me. Unique friendships, MMORPGs, in person role playing games, and other in person hang-out activities, all of which I don’t regret. I had a good time with them. But I didn’t have God in my life, perhaps other than my nightly prayers: The Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and what I called: Prayer of Sorrow (Act of Contrition).
Eventually I started falling into a depression. Despite all the fun I was having and going to classes, I must not have felt fulfilled. I eventually stopped attending classes and only went to the hanging out activities because they were they only things that made me “feel.” I don’t remember exactly when I started searching for more answers concerning my faith, but it was probably just before this time, during, or just after I dropped out.
At some time, I started looking at a site called Catholic Answer Forums. Within, it was simply a forum for Catholics to talk to one another, but one section peaked my interest: Ask an Apologist. Within it, many people would ask various questions related to Catholicism and get answers from a trusted apologist who knew what they were talking about. I guess I didn’t really know what questions to ask, but it was helpful that all these people where asking questions about things I didn’t even know I was interested in knowing the answers to like “What is Sola Scriptura and why don’t Catholics ascribe to it,” or “Why is masturbation wrong,” or “What is the Catholic position on homosexual marriage,” as it was a hot topic of debate in the country at the time.
Eventually, I ran into questions that filled me in on why the Catholic Church is the one true denomination. Before, I had the mistaken notion that all Christian denominations were basically the same that believed nearly the same things but differed on minor liturgical things and in how were presented. I would learn all of the important differences between the popular denominations including some that actually made them non-Christian, such as the Mormons and Latter Day Saints.
WHY CATHOLICISM OVER NON-CATHOLIC CHRISTIANITY
Finally, I ran into something that clicked as to why the Catholic faith was the one true faith: Apostolic succession. In the Bible, it’s an undeniable fact that Jesus form a Church on Earth. What is disputed by the many denominations is how that Church “appears” to be. Here is what it says in Sacred Scripture in Matthew 16:18-19:
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Along side this passage, the apologist noted that since St. Peter, there is record of an unbroken line of succession of bishops, nay “head bishops” that lead all the way up to the current Pope. Sure, there were some disagreements about who was Pope at one time or another, but of the ones that have stood the test of time, most appear to be in partial communion with the Church with every means of salvation still in tact (the sacraments).
Aside from this, the part that says, “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” spoke out to me. To me, God’s Church, Jesus’ Church on Earth could not be broken by evil, by chaos, by the devil. To me, the fact that there is one Church on Earth that has the fortitude to claim to be the one true Church instituted by Christ speaks volumes. To me, every other denomination seems like a fracture. 10,000 denominations and counting does not look like a singular Church. It looks like a fractured, splintered, house of which is built on sand and not stone. A Church institute on the pillar that is Jesus and the foundation that is St. Peter is one that would not budge and would not fracture. It seems to me that the Catholic Church is this Church alone.
On top of this, it’s a comfort to me that we have the Church’s magesterium to rule on what is the correct interpretation of a particular passage in Scripture or for answers not directly contained in Scripture. Most Protestant denominations follow a Sola Scriptura doctrine that states that the Bible is the only and final authority on matters of the faith for Christians. The problem to me with this is that there are 10,000+ different interpretations of these writings. To me again it would seem that there would need to be one authoritative body to interpret this, not the individuals. Having 10,000 opinions is chaos and chaos is the domain of Satan. Having one authoritative answer is unifying even if it’s rejects 10,000 opinions.
Sola Scriptura also leads to the question, who determines the canon of Scripture in the first place? The answer to me was obvious. The Catholic Church was the final authority on this and it determined the 73 books we have in the Catholic Bible. It wasn’t until the Council of Trent in the 1500s that there was even a question of the authenticity of them and thus in response to the reformation, stated so invoking an infallible proclamation.
Everything considered, history is on the Church’s side. Early historical census documents show that there was a Jesus. Early testimony call to Jesus being real. Early martyrs call to the conviction of the truth of the 10 of the remaining 11 living apostles who if they were making it up, really went the extra mile to show to others with their painful and excruciating deaths that what Jesus taught was worth dying for. The writings of the early Church fathers describe a Christianity that closely if not exactly resembles the Catholicism of today. All of these things combined continue to fortify Catholic Christianity as the one truth Christian religion to me.
THE PROCESS OF ELIMINATION
Since the only questions that have been answered thus far are: 1) Is God real and 3) Which Christian denomination is correct? What is missing is 2) Why is Christianity correct out of all of the other religions?
There are two ways that we can come to this conclusion: Process of elimination or Prove that one is correct regardless of the existence of the rest. I will start with the first, because that’s the order I discovered the answers myself, even though I admit, I never did disprove them all one by one, I came to some conclusions through my readings on various subjects. Most of the conclusions I came to came from reading that various works of G. K. Chesterton, but I will do my best (and fail) to summarize as much as I can and include quotes where he says things better (and he always does).
The first religion I reasoned away was Buddhism. Buddhism at its surface appears to be a very peace loving, happy go lucky religion in which you love others and love everything and come to an inner peace over it. As you get deeper, it appears to be all about the self. Self-awareness, self-denial, self-isolation, and selfishness if you want to get into it. There is no altruism about being centered on the self and the ultimate goal of this religion is to deny the self all the pleasures, pains, sensations, and even connections to whatever is outside. And thus, it is not about reaching outward to help others, even though the Buddha appeared to have done it himself, but reaching so far inward that you become nothingness. This is the Nirvana that they speak of. It does not purport to solve anything except to eliminate the self. And thus, even if it were “right,” it would not be “good” since it lacks love since the perfect form of love is to give one’s self to another with no self-interest. And thus I reject it.
PAGANISM OR THE POLYTHEISTIC RELIGIONS
The next I would run into would be the multiple pagan religions of old which are essentially dead even if a good many people nowadays would seek to revive them in some rebellious way against the tide of Christianity. For this, I’ll start with a quote from G. K. Chesterton and then lead to the logical analysis:
"The substance of all such paganism may be summarized thus. It is an attempt to reach the divine reality through the imagination alone; in its own field reason does not restrain it at all. It is vital to the view of all history that reason is something separate from religion even in the most rational of these civilizations. It is only as an afterthought, when such cults are decadent or on the defensive, that a few Neo-Platonists or a few Brahmans are found trying to rationalize them, and even then only by trying to allegorise them. But in reality the rivers of mythology and philosophy run parallel and do not mingle till they meet in the sea of Christendom." – G. K. Chesterton, “The Everlasting Man”
Chesterton argues that paganism and philosophy did not intermingle as much as we modernists read into them. Sure, there were the fairy-tale stories of the Greek gods and such, but many of these did not have so much as a moral lesson to be learned from them so much as they were meant to show that the gods were just as fallible as man. And even if such fallible beings were real, would they be worth worshiping?
Similarly, many of these tales of gods changed and were integrated into other polytheistic systems throughout the ages, typically by the conquest of one weaker tribe by another larger tribe. What they would do is integrate the god or gods of the weaker tribe into their pantheon as lesser gods or combine them into one. There was no consistency between one age and the next. They were essentially mere stories to explain the “god of the gaps” or give some small meaning as to why the seasons change or why the sun rises in the East.
Christianity seeks to do none of these things. In fact, it has birthed the modern conception of science through the creation of the scientific method, modern universities, all as a separate entity in order to find truths that God has left for us through natural law. But this is just an aside.
It was just as likely that God revealed Himself to the first humans and humans over time abandoned Him to created their own new fairy-tales to explain things, but still knowing in the heart that there was “something” that had created; something that “caused.”
In the end however, the pagans split apart their gods so far that they withered out like a droplet of water exposed to fire spreads apart into a fine mist until nothing is left. Christianity however has been put to the fire many times throughout the ages and each time comes back stronger having been exposed to the fire. Just look at the martyrs for an example. The burning of witches my Christians, however unjustified, did not increase the faith of the remaining witches. The burning of Christians by pagans, also unjustified, only lit the rest of their hearts on fire all the more!
To be added expanded upon later. Until then: Essentially, there are contradictions within and outside of the Quran which do not have good reasoning. Every apologist I have seen that tackled Islam had no trouble pointing these contradictions out. On the other side, every Islamic apologist I have seen attack Christianity for being “corrupted” or contradictory have disproved their own religion by easy replies once you know the answer. For instance, the common claim that Jesus never once stated His divinity or called Himself God. This is absurd because He does it multiple times, more prominently when He says “I AM” to the Pharisees in the temple who immediate understood the context by calling Him a blasphemer (for calling Himself God).
Admittedly I haven’t studied much on this particular division. Only recently have I started hearing objections to Catholic theology from Orthodox apologists and they honestly sound similar to Protestant claims which leads me to believe I’m still in the right place. For instance, the most recent claim I heard was that Catholicism added “papal infallibility” as a doctrine after the split. They said that the pope is not infallible and that Jesus was speaking to all of His apostles at the time He gave the keys to His kingdom to His Church, not just to Peter. The answer these claims come two-fold: 1) Catholics don’t believe that the pope is infallible either, EXCEPT when he proclaims something as so explicitly and it doesn’t contradict another truth (dogma). 2) One only needs to look back at history to find that even the Eastern churches were loyal to the Roman heads before the split.
THE PROMISES OF THE CHURCH
There are many promises that have been made from God the Father to the Israelites and to the Church founded my Christ on Earth that have been unbroken throughout the ages. This last part will basically be a list of things that show God’s consistency as well as the consistency of his Church on Earth. They show that if there is a God on Earth or even multiple “gods,” the Christian God is the one who has been faithful in all things to who he promises to and therefore any faith in Him is not a blind faith, but a faith bolstered throughout the ages. I’ve also added a few miscellaneous things that I didn’t elaborate on that lead me further to believe.
* God’s promise to Abraham – fulfilled
* God’s promise to Moses – fulfilled
* God’s promises to the Israelites – fulfilled
* The Old Covenant – fulfilled
* The New Covenant in Christ Jesus – fulfilled through the Passion and Resurrection
* Jesus’ Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic – Fulfilled in the Catholic Church
* The Church is consistent, never contradicting, and never changing in its doctrine and dogma despite the many ages that defies the order. It does not adapt its opinions to the ages for the ages, though it may adapt some disciplines for the ages. Any corruption is a result of men falling, not God or His Church.
* The Church stands on objective morals and facts and never contradicts natural law.
* The Church is flexible enough to explain things in new ways that lead to better understanding truth.
* The Church is universal and invites ALL to come and shelter within despite also acknowledging that we are all fallen creatures. It is the panacea for our fallen nature.
* It is both intellectually challenging and accessible regardless of intelligence. You do not need to know everything to benefit from the truth within it, but the more you know and find out, the more sense it all makes.
* The Church is a visible authority on Earth that hosts the invisible members of the Church worldwide.
* The Church has very well defined ways of knowing whether you’re “saved” or in a state of grace or not AND what to do about if if you’re not. The Sacraments are the visible and active means of Jesus’ salvation.
* The Church has an answer for EVERY moral question you could have in a logical and objectively consistent manner.