... what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools. (Rm 1:19-22, emphasis added)Then again, the Psalmist (in both Ps. 14:1 and Ps. 53:1) also declares that anyone who says there is no God is a "fool" -- a point that wasn't lost on St. Anselm when he compiled his ontological proof of God's existence in which one of his minor premises are nothing other than the very words of the "fool"!
But the article that prompted this post is a sermon by a traditional mission priest that one can listen to in its entirety here (Audio Sancto podcast), or read in text form here: "Atheists cannot be saved and cannot have clear consciences" (Rorate Caeli, October 23, 2013).
The basic point is that even allowing for invincible ignorance, one cannot take refuge in that doctrine over the long haul:
It is held by eminent theologians like Ludwig Ott that “Inculpable and invincible ignorance regarding the existence of God is not possible for a long time in a normal, grown-up person ...” (cf. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 16). Such people choose to ignore their very nature. As, St. Paul says this is “inexcusable.” They are fools and foolish....There's a lot more where that came from. Read more >>
If anyone finds this "unpleasant" or "undiplomatic," I would ask that he think of the matter in this way: Kierkegaard found himself living in a time when everyone around him seemed bent on doing everything he could to make life easier, whereupon he concluded that his mission in life must be to make things harder again.
Surely we live in such a time as Kierkegaard describes. Since Vatican II, those in charge of the Church have thought it best to make life easier, moving mid-week holy days of obligation to weekends, allowing Saturday evening vigil Masses to fulfil one's Sunday obligation, dispensing with the overnight fast before Mass, Friday penance, etc. Pastors have dropped from their vocabulary offensive words like contraception, fornication, masturbation, adultery, and the like, in preference for words like love, compassion, love, mercy, love, forgiveness, and more love. And pastors at Catholic funerals assure us that the departed are assuredly safely in heaven, smiling down on us, whether or not they darkened the door of a church in the last twenty years of their earthly lives, committed scandalous sins, or even committed suicide. All in all, the new "pastoral" approach has made life much easier all around.
So let's take it upon ourselves to do right by Kierkegaard and help make things harder again. A good place to start is thinking about death, hell, and damnation.
And might I add: have a