For years, the Catholic Television Network (EWTN) has had a show called The Journey Home. My parents used to watch this show when I was a child, for the few years that we had a dish before we tore the roof off the house. To the best of my recollection, the purpose of the show is to display how Catholicism is an awesome religion because so many people convert to it. When I found out that all the episodes are available online, I decided to watch them and review them. It’s undeniable that people convert to Catholicism; my question is, do they have good reasons? How many of them started as some form of Christian in the first place? How many came from other religions? How many were atheists or skeptics? Why did they convert, and would the answer to that question be a convincing reason for a skeptic?
If you decide to watch these episodes with me, you may notice that I ignore a lot of things I could respond to. The target audience is Catholics, and this is clear from the very first minute that Marcus Grodi begins speaking. These stories aren’t necessarily meant to convince a skeptic, but to strengthen the faith of a Catholic, or possibly convince a non-Catholic Christian to convert, and there’s really nothing wrong with that. Nonetheless, I’d like to see if this collection of conversion stories contains any compelling reasons for a skeptic to convert.
The twelfth episode is titled “David Palm: A Baptist Who Became A Catholic – The Journey Home Program” and aired November 21, 1997. It can be viewed online here.
David, like most of the guests so far, was raised in a very faithful Christian home. When he studied the early Church Fathers, he found Catholicism to be the oldest Christian denomination, and therefore concluded that it must be the Church Christ founded. This is a fallacious way of thinking, but understandable in the context of Christianity. As I’ve expressed before, if I accepted Christianity at all, I’m sure I would be Catholic, so an argument for Catholicism over another denomination doesn’t really phase me.
What I found amusing in this episode is that it focused on – or tried to focus on – how to know what is true. Sadly, no real answer was given; for the most part, they just said, “Follow the authority of the Catholic Church.” For a Catholic, this might be satisfactory, but to me it really isn’t. This is especially the case when I contrast it with how most atheists would probably answer that question. Most atheists are likely to say, when asked how to know what is true, that a good method for knowing truth is to start by making an observation, then perform experiments to see whether that observation is true every time, then form an idea about why that happens, then test that and try to falsify it (the scientific method). They may also start talking about Bayesian methodology. Regardless, no atheist I know would say to follow an authority, although they might recommend a book by someone they respect.
So far, our breakdown of the guests’ religious state before conversion to Catholicism looks like this.
- Serious Christian: 8
- Always Catholic: 2
- Lax Christian: 0
- Non-Christian, but religious: 2
- Non-believer, but not very skeptical: 0
- Skeptic: 0
41 thoughts on “David Palm: A Baptist Who Became A Catholic – The Journey Home Program”
1) God is far above science; science can only be used to understand creation. Theology, and all that entails, is necessary to understand religion and God.
2) without faith, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, one will find it extremely difficult to rise above the clamor and vanity of creation in order to find truth AND believe in that truth. The evidence is all around you, but faith, like a standard or protocol necessary for an interface, is necessary to experience God ( and what this entails).
A person needs to seek God in order to find truth. But a friendship with God is necessary, e.g., one must acknowledge Him, listen to Him (perhaps in the reading of the Spirit-inspired Sacred Scripture, and then respond to Him with faith.
I was a faithful Catholic for 20 years. I didn’t just ask, but begged god for help when I realized the evidence I was learning pointed away from Christianity. I was listening, and received only silence. For more info: https://completehistory.me/2014/03/26/november-14-2010/
Faith is a bad heuristic. Millions of people have sincere and honest faith in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and many other religions, not to mention the contradictory denominations of Christianity. They cannot all be right, but they can all be wrong.
And you can be even more wrong as an individual. At least believe the historical realities of Christ’s existence and works. Doubt is your own choice, foolish in light of well-documented history and lives of saints.
If you’d read the post to which I linked, you would know that I did not choose to doubt, but only to follow the evidence, as my Catholic upbringing taught me. Further, the alleged “history” is far from “well-documented”. We have not one scrap of evidence that Jesus existed from within a decade of his alleged life. You would do well to do some research on the topic; perhaps a good place to start is “Not the Impossible Faith” by Richard Carrier, which shows that there are many historical explanations for the beginnings of Christianity outside of a literal resurrection from the dead. For one thing, he shows that Christianity was a minority cult for about 300 years – and then it was backed by an Emperor.
I don’t claim to be 100% sure I’m right, but I’m at least 99% sure Catholicism is wrong. I fought that conclusion tooth and nail, and am still fighting it, as is demonstrated by much of what I put on this blog, including this current series.
Why do you set a 10 year artificial barrier on the life of a man from 2000 years ago when there was no printing technology? Don’t you think that you are being extremely and unusually unreasonable with such a standard? With you standard we could say that you do not exist since your birth certificate was not re certified last year.
Also, if you really knew something about that period in history, you would also know that the Gospels were written to capture what had been orally preached for decades by Peter, Paul, Matthew, John and the other apostles. There was no command to put into writing everything within 10 years else the naysayers would have a plausible argument for denial. Be real.
Finally, lack of written evidence to your extreme standard does not make a case. Do you have evidence that your grandmother, 10 generations removed from you, was actually married? Without evidence, one could, according to your standard, trump up all sorts of accusations against you and your family. You don’t know your grandfather from 2000 years ago, and not 1 stitch of evidence to prove that he was not a pagan murderer, but you deny Jesus Christ, a well-documented man in time. Do you see how silly that is? You are listening to the wrong “voice”, to a liar, and I am surprised that your own reasoning can not find its way through that very simple lie.
Be careful – your understandable but quite extreme ignorance is showing. My birth certificate is but one piece of evidence that I exist, as is this blog, several notebooks containing my handwriting, my driver’s license, etc, etc. For a first century person, we wouldn’t expect nearly as much evidence; if he were particularly famous, the way Jesus is alleged to be, perhaps one historian somewhere would have written about him while he was alive. Instead, the first evidence of Jesus as a historical figure can be dated to 60 AD, the Gospel of Mark, and we have just a small scrap of that document remaining today. Two of the other gospels are copied from that one, and they are decades older. The fourth is even older than that. No non-Christian sources from the first century mention Jesus, and the most famous sources commonly cited are in doubt as to their authenticity (per scholarship since at least the 1800s) or only mention Christ as a figure of worship and not a historical figure. If you actually care to educate yourself on this topic, I can provide some places to start, but I find Christians to be typically anti-education, and you didn’t bother to read the last link I provided, so it seems pointless.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter one bit for my position whether there was a historical Jesus Christ. Even if there was a relatively famous Jewish apocalyptic teacher named Jesus who started the cult that became Christianity (and that’s as far as the historical consensus will take you; see Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist?, although it is full of errors in historical method and displays many falsehoods as though they were fact), that doesn’t prove he was anything more than a man. Indeed, in at least one instance, the Jesus of the gospels said something we know to be false, which the Christian god is not supposed to be able to do. In Matthew 16: 28, Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32, Jesus says that those alive at the time would witness the coming of his kingdom. Early epistles agree with this view, but the later gospel (John) and later epistles have it edited out. Why? Because people were dying, so it was obviously false.
You are listening to the wrong “voice”, to a liar, and I am surprised that your own reasoning cannot find its way through that very simple lie.
No. The first evidence is in the eye witness accounts of those who actually inked the autographs. Why are you trying to establish an impossible case against reality?
So are you admitting that Mark is not an eye witness account? Because that’s the first sign you’ve shown of accepting reality.
Again, it doesn’t matter one bit for my position whether there was a historical Jesus Christ. I don’t know why you are so hung up on this issue. It doesn’t matter to me AT ALL.
You are having a rough time about God for some reason. Catholic priests would be happy to speak with you. Try it. No worries.
I’m not having a rough time about god at all. I have simply accepted the unpleasant reality that there is insufficient evidence to think a deity exists, and adjusted my beliefs accordingly.
As it happens, I spent 20 years as a Catholic. I was homeschooled using the Seton Home Study program for 8 of those years, learning the Catholic Catechism and the arguments for the existence of god and the authority of the Catholic Church (you may recognize the name as the best home school program by Catholic standards; if not, you may recognize it as named after St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, convert and teacher). I spent two years living at a Catholic Church. In all this time, I spoke with Catholic priests on several occasions. They cannot answer the questions I have.
Try seeking virtues. It sounds like you are taking in a lot of data but you’re not getting the faith, understanding, hope, and joy. I will pray for you to receive a gift to help you. I received a gift to help my faith on the Easter vigil when I was accepted into the Church. I would like you to also receive a gift to help your faith and persistence in it. May God gift you with His help. Amen. Amen. amen. You can pray, “Lord, please help me with the gift of your help. Amen.” 3 times.
There is no god willing to give me faith. I asked sincerely over four and a half years ago, and I am no longer able to muster that same sincerity. Again: https://completehistory.me/2014/03/26/november-14-2010/
It took me 17 years of following my wife to Mass before I started feeling drawn, truly, to believe and convert. We try to force our own agenda on God sometimes, and He knows better than we do of course.
Well, at least where a parachute and pray for a soft landing in a Nice Man’s Field.
Do you wear a fur coat in July in case it snows?
Ha ha. No. 😃
Then you understand why I can’t be Catholic just in case. I find the claim that Catholicism might be true as ridiculous as the claim that it might snow in July. In fact, Catholicism is more ridiculous because there are places on earth where it does snow in July, but nowhere does it make sense that Catholicism is true.
You are very contradictory, are you not? Why so upset? I think you are upset and angry and taking it out on the Church. That’s what I think. Will you give me a proof for why it is not true that I think?
Show me where my position is contradictory. Show me evidence that I am unjustifiably upset at the Catholic Church, an institution which instills unnecessary guilt, hides child rapists from legal prosecution, and makes false claims.
You see, you are the one making a claim that I am upset and angry and taking it out on the Church. It is you who must offer proof.
Alternatively, give me proof that there is no undetectable teapot in orbit around the moon, and I will use that same proof to show I am not unjustifiably upset.
Even better, will you give me a proof that god exists? If you can, I promise you I will reconvert to Catholicism within the very first minute. Indeed, I will do so wholeheartedly, for that would allow me to finally be one with my family once more.
You have no concept of the suffering I have undergone in being forced to leave the Faith behind. Until you acknowledge that I was dragged kicking and screaming away from Catholicism, you have no hope of understanding where I’m coming from.
Have you yet read this post I made? This is the third time I have linked you to it. https://completehistory.me/2014/03/26/november-14-2010/
Well, I don’t know why you felt forced to leave the faith because you struggle to believe. I’m just think you have an unhealthy dose of analytical talent, so much that your analysis exceeds the data available to satisfy your analytical appetite. I understand that.
You are like the man born blind who, in his frustration about not being able to see what others say is ( like colors, movement, landscapes, emotional faces, beautiful things, etc., ) gives up in his anger.
Read about Helen Keller, the woman who was born blind, deaf and mute and she might inspire you, as a child she was very angry and frustrated..wild at times. But she eventually learned to cope…and to read and write and think and understand, things unheard of for a blind, deaf mute person of her time. There is hope for you. Do not give up. Read about Helen Keller!
Yes or no: Have you read my post that I keep linking you to?
Yes. Perhaps I am not scrolling all the way. I will look again.
You stated, “I no longer know what to believe, and the way that I am means that I cannot believe something unless I am convinced it is true. My belief in Christianity rested on evolution being false. That is now stripped away.”
What is it that causes a single cell to grow to 1 billion times its original size and become an intelligent, living being in command of all other life on earth? Why do the chimpanzees and orangutans still not know how to enter into commerce, build factories and spin clothing for themselves? Why do humans wear clothing but all of life on earth has what it needs to survive? Why are we ashamed of our nakedness but no other life on earth is? From where does our conscience come?
The Church has left open the question of creation. One can believe that everything was created exactly the way Genesis states or one can choose to believe in a more evolutionary mode of creation so long as it is understood that God sets it all into motion according to His intelligent design and purpose.
“A fine wine takes time.”
Why should God rush to create anything? What if He takes His own sweet time? What if time is only a figment of our imagination? What if time 100,000,000 years ago, for a short while, was 90,000,000 times faster than it is today? If time is a creation, can’t God make it go faster or slower at His .own pleasure? We can cause a simulation to run fast or slow, achieving the same results in both scenarios. Why couldn’t God?
God can evolve human life, and when it is time…waiting until the right time, posit a human soul in a hominid, thereby creating, immediately, the first human, Adam. He could also take Adam’s DNA and impregnate another hominid, and posit a human soul, and call her Eve. Why not?
So what if God evolved life in order to perfect life or, perhaps, because love requires slow evolution toward perfection? We can not deny the evidence of intelligence above and beyond creation. It is obvious.
When Genesis was being passed orally from generation to generation, people thought of the area above the earth as a dome with lights planted in it and with doors which would open to allow the rain to fall. They had not mechanisms yet for understanding differently. So, what you read in Genesis reflects this. Mankind was not born with perfect knowledge of God’s works and God does not reveal all to humanity. He reveals Himself gradually as the Scriptures prove.
Among other questions, you asked:
“Why do the chimpanzees and orangutans still not know how to enter into commerce, build factories and spin clothing for themselves?”
If you had looked at this link I pointed you to previously: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzana_herculano_houzel_what_is_so_special_about_the_human_brain?language=en you would know that I’d already sent you a plausible answer to that question.
Your other questions could easily be answered if you bothered to do any research into them. Again, I’d point you in the right direction (hint: Frans de Waal’s work pretty much explains the origins of morality), but you have demonstrated a tendency to ignore my sources.
I understand that the Catholic Church has not 100% said that Catholics must not accept evolution. If you’d examined my flowchart, perhaps you would see that two of my main reasons for seeing Catholicism and evolution as incompatible are described.
First, there is the matter of Original Sin. For more on my thoughts on this, you can start here: https://completehistory.me/2014/09/30/catholicism-and-evolution/ or to see someone else talk about the topic, you can go here: http://www.theaunicornist.com/2014/12/can-ed-feser-save-adam-and-eve.html
Second, evolution requires millions of years of suffering and billions of deaths before arriving at humanity. Would a loving individual use such a method to create anything? For comparison, Hitler’s plan called for millions of deaths. We call his plan evil. God’s plan, apparently, calls for billions of deaths. Christians call his plan good. Can you see the contradiction?
“What if time is only a figment of our imagination? What if time 100,000,000 years ago, for a short while, was 90,000,000 times faster than it is today? If time is a creation, can’t God make it go faster or slower at His .own pleasure?”
What if the whole universe we can observe is a simulation created by super-intelligent aliens? What if the universe were created last Thursday?
The problem with this line of reasoning is that it means we can’t know anything. If we can’t know anything, then you have no reason to think god exists, so logically, you should be an atheist, too.
Of course, god could have used evolution to evolve humanity. It’s just that, in that case, he is an evil or indifferent god, and not the god of Christianity.
“We can not deny the evidence of intelligence above and beyond creation. It is obvious.”
Are you sure? Read up on the various First Cause arguments and their refutations. I already linked you to a place to start, but here it is again: https://completehistory.me/2014/06/09/the-kalam-argument/
Also, I’d like you to consider this. If god really is all-powerful, he could have revealed himself however he liked. If god really is all-knowing, he would know exactly the best way to do this. Why would he choose a method proven to be unreliable? Why not make the revelation to everyone on the planet all at once, or at least a heavily populated city? Why choose illiterate goat herders to spread the most important message to humanity?
At the very least, you have to admit he could have chosen a method of revelation that would leave no doubt whatsoever in regards to his existence, even if there were still doubt about how he wanted us to act. Nature doesn’t qualify; as our knowledge of science expands, there is more and more that we can explain completely naturally, and there just isn’t a reason to think that trend won’t continue indefinitely.
You are full of yourself…arrogant. You need to gain just a smidgen of humility without which you will make no progress.
I have learned that I was once wrong about everything I thought I knew. That was an extremely humbling experience.
Perhaps you need to gain some humility to realize that I have managed to learn something you have not. 🙂
I think that you basically learned that you are angry and arrogant. You claim to know what is not knowable, for there is no evidence to prove it. You full of crap, and you need to get out of your selfish pity party and grow up and accept the truth of life. Grow up!
Can you be more specific? Exactly what have I claimed to know that is not knowable and has no evidence? I have a very high priority of only believing that which can be based in evidence, so if there is a position I hold that has no evidence to prove it, I want to know immediately.
You claim to know that something is true on the basis of your personal standard of what does and does not constitute evidence. In a way, you claim a type of personal omniscience.
I’m more than willing to admit I don’t know a lot. If I thought I was omniscient, in any sense, my reading list would be far shorter! 🙂
What is a proper standard of evidence and why? What is your foundational epistemology?
What does the command “Love your neighbor” mean to you? You ask why God allows a child to be raped, but do you understand also that He commands creatures of free will not to rape when He commands them to love each other and to do to each other as they would have done to themselves? These are commands. So, by raping, isn’t a person violating that command? Isn’t a person failing to serve God? Isn’t the person therefore establishing himself as an enemy of God especially if he does evil works because God commands to do otherwise? Why do we have a justice system? From where does justice come? Why do we have a justice system when your expectation is that God should intervene and prevent every evil act? If we did not have the freedom to choose, then we could not love truly, and we could not learn why our existence depends upon loving each other. If we did not have the freedom to choose, we would not need a justice system. If we did not have the freedom to choose, I don’t think we would have a reason to exist, do you?
Why do you exist, and what if you had no free will? What if you could not think and create? Why can you think, imagine and create? What is your purpose and your destiny? Why can you know your purpose or destiny and wonder about these things, but other creatures can not?
This quote might be helpful: “God is served only when He is served according to His Will.” St. Padre Pio of Peitrelcina.
Wisdom from the Epistle of James:
“Talk and behave like people who are going to be judged by the law of freedom, because there will be judgement without mercy for those who have not been merciful themselves; but the merciful need have no fear of judgement.”
This alludes to free will…the freedom to choose to love.
Do you think God is merciful, based upon your life’s experiences? From where does the concept of mercy come? Is it a fad or an invention? Is it something that dumb animals choose? Or us it a radical choice on the part of humans? If humans can choose mercy, from where comes this ability and why do we have if?
Francis, Unless I am very much mistaken your answer to anyone that does not believe in your specific god is as follows.
1. A person should pray to your specific god anyway because over time that caused you to believe.
2. A set of specific writings from a small group of people proves that one historical figure existed.
3. That same set of writings verifies that that historical figure is/was your god.
4. Because cellular reproduction and evolution are complex there must be a a creator (the one you follow specifically).
5. People who request actual proof of this creator you choose to believe in are arrogant. And/or people that deny the existence of your god are arrogant because they request proof.
Do you really not understand why these are not convincing arguments? They are literally the same exact arguments every other version of Christianity/religion use to try and convince people. It seems like you think that the OP and other non-believers don’t understand your arguments, when really you seem to not understand why your arguments are unconvincing.
Danielle, you are mistaken…do you argue in order to show that you can think or because you want to learn? Here are the answers.
False. Arrogant people are people in the act of being arrogant. When not in the act, people are no longer arrogant.
Danielle, the answers to the questions are false because they are your own assertions based upon a false premise and which demonstrate a misunderstanding of the basis of my faith in God, and the same faith of many others who know what they believe and why. if you were to take courses in Catholic theology from a faithful Catholic institution, I think that it would help you to understand. Perhaps you are confused because there are many competing religions and think that since all of them are claimed to be true that not one of them can be true? The Catholic Church believes that the “seeds of truth” are found in other religions and are traced back to the One true God as we know Him in our Sacred Scripture and through the continuum of tradition and writings and experiences of many throughout the ages. If you would like to learn more, here is a good description of the idea behind the “seeds of truth” from a 1998 teaching of Pope St. John Paul II:
God has revealed Himself, and this revelation has been passed down either orally or in writing because it was that important.
Francis, if you wish to continue this dialogue, I have created a place, and conveniently ended with some questions for you to answer.