In the most recent column of Pastoral Answers, a reader asks, “Why has God allowed…
Yes, I believe God exists, and here’s why
I often admit that I live in a Catholic bubble. This has been the case for most of my life, primarily through my Catholic education spanning from kindergarten until eighth grade and again in college.
My high school years were an exception in my life. Despite the fact that my dad taught theology at the nearby Catholic high school, my siblings and I all attended the public high school, which was less than a block from our house. During those years, I slowly became more involved in my faith, but I still didn’t have many conversations about religion with my non-Catholic friends, or even my friends from a lukewarm Catholic upbringing. Direct evangelization or even dialogue has never been my natural tendency.
But that doesn’t mean I put aside my Catholic faith within the public high school setting. In one particular instance during my sophomore year, a friend of mine from our parish youth group teamed up with me for a joint presentation in our honors English class. The assignment was to research and present on different philosophers from varying backgrounds. When my friend and I saw St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine on the list, we decided to have a bit of fun. Over the following weeks, we researched their main teachings — primarily their logical reasons for the existence of God. St. Thomas Aquinas in particular is known for his five proofs for the existence of God. A quick search online will pull up numerous articles and videos explaining these five points.
I recently needed to refresh my memory of Thomas Aquinas’s five proofs after a text conversation with a college friend led to the question of God’s existence. After discussing some moral questions, this friend told me she no longer believed in God. She, like many others, grew up in a Catholic family, but over time she has begun to believe that science can explain anything we need to know.
It’s been a wonderful challenge for me to have to dig deep into why I believe what I believe, starting with the most fundamental question: Why is it logical to believe that God exists?
Pulling from my acquired knowledge, I tried to explain what I remembered from Thomas Aquinas, focusing on his second proof for the existence of God: that God is “the uncaused cause.” In short, our understanding of the world demands that everything in existence has an efficient cause, yet this cannot go back infinitely without reaching a singular cause that exists without cause. While modern philosophers have argued against this reasoning, to me — though I’m a poor student of philosophy — this line of reasoning makes sense.
The conversation with my friend via text quickly evolved to the point where we needed a phone call. While this longer conversation has not yet occurred, it’s given me more time to really wrestle with the question of God’s existence. Yes, I’ve watched more videos and read more articles explaining Aquinas’ proofs. I’ve talked with friends of faith, asking them for advice and testimony as to what they would say. And I’ve asked God to grant me the grace I need to explain myself well whenever the conversation happens.
But this friendly dialogue has led me to other realizations. Most importantly, I’m grateful that my Catholic upbringing and continued education has led me to a place where my faith in God goes beyond pure logical reasonings. While this will be the primary way in which I approach the conversation with my friend, my own faith in God comes from personal experience, and it’s hard to not share Christ with her directly. Yes, I believe God exists because there is logical reasoning that indicates that he does. But more than that, God exists because I’ve met him. I’ve met him at every Mass in the Eucharist. I’ve met him in every confession through the mercy ministered through the priest. I’ve met him in the peace that comes to me when praying, “Come, Holy Spirit” throughout my day. And I’ve met him through the gentle whisper in my heart during times of prayer, when words have entered my mind that seem to come from beyond me. I hope those who are searching can find God, too.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.