Catholic Friars Talk With GW Secular Society
February 20, 2013
The GW Secular Society accepted an invitation for Catholic University friars to come and talk with the Secular Society about the relationship between religion and science. The event took place last night at 8:30pm and was expected to end around 9:30pm, but the friars and many members did not leave until almost midnight.
The topic of discussion was the relationship between faith and science. More specifically, the discussion tended to center on how basic logic and reason explain the existence of a deity. Essentially, the argument was that if every object and occurrence has a reason for it, then ultimately, you are going to go so far back that there is no answer or reason at all for why something occurred. They have studied that the only “logical” reason for those inexplicable objects / occurrences is the existence of a god.
Many of our philosophically-knowledgeable members debated this logic and its fallacies. Other members then questioned how a religious follower can jump from having that logic to then following biblical scripture and common Catholic practices, such as anti-LGBT activism. The friars used many metaphors, jokes, and scholarly jargon to enhance their speeches. I could not help but note their ability to find tangents that involved intellectual scholars, such as Stephen Hawking, to support their logic. They rarely used simplistic language and never failed to throw in a personal joke or two along the way. They even parodied our infamous “This is what an atheist looks like” flyers with their own “This is what a Dominican looks like” flyer. The charisma and rhetoric was astounding and beautifully done. It would be a lie to say otherwise. Many of GWSS’s members left feeling very pleased with the friars and their outlook on non-believers, including myself. The friars consistently declared that evolution is absolutely true, that the earth is absolutely not 6,000 years old, and that atheists are absolutely not damned to an eternity in hell. These were pleasant changes to what we are so used to hearing from our Catholic peers, and even family members.
GWSS President Julie listens to a Catholic University Friar.
It was the personal, one-on-one conversations that followed the formal talk which were the most important. Each of the four friars were more than happy to take on personal conversations with our members. GWSS’s Vice President, Monica, and I both spoke with a friar for about an hour about topics ranging from love to life to happiness.
He asked us why we had a secular society and what we as a group expected to get out of it. We told him that we wanted a safe place for people without belief to have a community of like-minded peers, while also hoping to lessen hatred towards such a community. He acknowledged that this was a great cause and he fully supported it.
Likewise, I asked him if he believed that Monica and I were going to hell, and he replied with an instant, “Absolutely not.” Other members said that the other friars had told them the same thing. One friar even told a member that “atheists are more likely to get into heaven than a lot of evangelicals.” They explained that they truly believe that God is fair and judges people by their sincerity and goodness, no matter what they believe.
Though I will certainly never be a Catholic any time soon, it was refreshing to know that there is possibly a body of higher-up Catholics out there who don’t hold as much prejudice as many of their fellow Catholics do, many of whom are our own family and blood. I hope very much that they were being genuine and sincere and not simply trying to convert us or change our image of Catholics. Nevertheless, there is almost unanimous consensus amongst GWSS that the event was a success and that the event made us feel more hopeful about our mission of ending religious ignorance towards evolution, and ending hatred towards atheists.
About the Author: Julie MankowskiJulie Mankowski is the president and founder of the George Washington University Secular Society.
#1 Jason M. Robertson (Guest) on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:12pm
Did anyone challenge the justice/optics of a presumably all male delegation of friars?
#2 jemankowski on Wednesday February 20, 2013 at 1:28pm
That and the fact that they are not allowed to get married, fall in love, or have sex.