“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Listen to Atheists and Skeptics?”

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Q: Is consuming material that might weaken or even potentially destroy my faith in God and his Church a serious sin? I was reading an old examination of conscience about “sins against faith.” When it spoke about mortal sin it included: “Have I, without a serious reason, associated with persons who tried to destroy my faith? Have I attended meetings or listened to speeches or sermons, which I knew would destroy or seriously weaken my faith?” I ask because I would love to listen to skeptics and atheists who present arguments about the non-existence of God. If they are right, I want to know. But now I am afraid to because it might be a mortal sin. What do you think? – V.L.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: When you mention the skeptics and atheists, you write, “If they are right, I want to know.”

“If they are right” implies that you are having doubts about God’s existence and that your faith is already shaky.

In that case, deliberately listening to people who might further weaken or destroy your faith could be a grave sin.

Faith is a gift, and we must do our best to guard it. The Catechism in No. 2088 says:

“The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

“Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.”

If you have difficulties about a point of faith, it would be better to pray for a stronger faith and to study in-depth what the Church teaches.

A good place to start is the Catechism. Lots of papal documents can be found at the Vatican website. Other helpful sites include Catholic Answers, EWTN, Word on Fire, and Peter Kreeft.

It would also be good to seek out a solid confessor who can guide you.


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