In fact, "bible thumper" that I am, I did have the good book in my backpack and told him I used it to help me develop my own philosophy of life. "What do you use?" I asked him.
"I think for myself," he answered. "But what do you think about," I asked. "Do you have some a priori knowledge you were born with?" The conversation went back and forth for a bit, and I said he seemed like a young man searching for truth. I asked his first name so I could pray for him, but he wouldn't tell me. I said I would think of him as "David," the name of my oldest son who seemed about his age. As the police arrested the woman next to me, he reached over, tapped me on my shoulder and said, "My name is Dan." I have prayed intermittently for Dan ever since with instructions to my guardian angel to remember him when I forget.
For a week now, I've been thinking and praying for Dan once again. What jogged my memory was a conversation on this blog with an atheist named Christian (his real name he assured me). Christian has several atheist blogs and links to several others. He mentioned that he used to be a believer (or maybe I read that on his blog), but our conversation was not about atheism and he seemed reluctant to engage on that issue.
We had a cordial conversation back and forth. Christian seems to me to be another honest young man searching for the truth. I wonder sometimes what happened to Dan. Is he still an unbeliever defending the killing of babies in the womb as he was the day we met? I hope not. Christian was on my blog defending Planned Parenthood rhetorically, as Dan did physically. Is this a coincidence? Or is supporting the death peddlers the natural consequence of rejecting the God of life? I think so.
Atheism is on my mind for another reason. I'm reading Chesterton's The Ball and the Cross about an atheist and a Catholic fighting a duel over the atheist's blasphemy against the Blessed Mother. The duel keeps getting interrupted and the police are after the two to stop them and take them to an asylum. After all, fighting over just words is insane to a relativist culture where words mean nothing. (Of course, to Chesterton, words meant everything, and to all Catholics as well who see words as the reflection of THE WORD MADE FLESH.) One of the most interesting scenes in the book so far occurs as the two duelers are being pursued, but the Catholic stops and demands they fight it out there and then. Why with the police hot on their heels? Because he is beginning to like the atheist and fears he will betray the cause if they don't fight to the death at once. It is a poignant moment and one that reminds me how much my heart went out to Dan and how much I hope to meet him one day in heaven.
And I trust that my hope is not in vain. I read an article this morning by another honest atheist, former atheist I should say, who pursued truth and found Him. Megan Hodder entered the Church this Easter. And what set her on the path to a church so much in disarray with scandals by the bucketful? Pope Benedict's writings initially and then Thomas Aquinas, Edith Stein, and her own friendship with Catholics. Here's a bit of what she wrote describing what happened once she began to seriously evaluate Catholicism:
I looked for absurdities and inconsistencies in the Catholic faith that would derail my thoughts from the unnerving conclusion I was heading towards, but the infuriating thing about Catholicism is its coherency: once you accept the basic conceptual structure, things fall into place with terrifying speed. “The Christian mysteries are an indivisible whole,” wrote Edith Stein in The Science of the Cross: “If we become immersed in one, we are led to all the others.” The beauty and authenticity of even the most ostensibly difficult parts of Catholicism, such as the sexual ethics, became clear once they were viewed not as a decontextualised list of prohibitions, but as essential components in the intricate body of the Church’s teaching.Megan has left atheism and crossed the Tiber to Rome, the true home for everyone created by God. I pray Dan has found that home as well and that Christian will find his way there some day. Will you join me in praying for honest atheists? Let's face it, they are closer to us than the lying, liberal Catholics who hate Church dogma and undermine it at every opportunity. Give me a good, honest atheist any day!