Popular Catholic apologist answers atheism

By Hannah Marchildon
Staff Writer

The Gentile Gallery was packed in anticipation for popular Catholic apologist Trent Horn on April 11 at 7 p.m. 

Known for his work with Catholic Answers, Horn hosts the podcast Councils of Trent, travels the world teaching the Catholic faith and authors many books, such as the well-known title “Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love.” 

Horn discussed the topic of answering atheism, pointing out how the rise of the internet has contributed to the sharing of atheistic ideas. 

“No more could atheists only meet in bookstores by Nietzsche but can meet online,” said Horn.  

Horn spoke about the removal of distance the internet creates between reality and unnatural behavior. He explained that, with the advent of the internet, “people discovered they could be connected to share ideas.” 

“Just because an idea can be spread around effectively doesn’t mean it’s true,” asserted Horn. 

One key point that Horn made regarding atheism is that “you don’t need the right answers, you just need to have the right questions.”  

When it comes to “God of the gaps” arguments, atheists pose the idea that just because people don’t know why the universe exists, they “assume God exists without proper evidence or proof,” said Horn. 

“However, these very people fall into the same way of thinking when posed with the question, ‘What would prove to you that God exists?’ They instead commit ‘God of the gaps’ reasoning by saying if they saw something out of nothing,” said Horn. 

Horn moved onto the question of reality by saying that the “existence of God won’t be an observation” and instead “the fabric of reality.”  

To further illustrate this concept, Horn talked about the Thomist Cosmological Argument, which argues that “instead of a line of box cars being infinite, there must be a locomotive; that is, something that gives motion to the universe.” 

Horn then went on to discuss how a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, challenged Einstein’s relativism theory and created the Big Bang theory, which shows that the universe is in a constant state of motion, expanding and contracting.  

Next was the question of good and evil, with which Horn posed for consideration when talking with atheists as the question, “What do you mean by evil, by good?”  

Horn said that good possesses being and that a person is evil if they lack virtues. Therefore, since God is all good and is unlimited being, then it is not possible for him to be evil.  

Horn talked about the slim chances of a planet being hospitable to life, likening it to “getting ten royal flushes in a row at a poker game.” 

If that happened, spectators of the game could be sure of cheating. “And if that were the case, why assume that in the case of universe?” asked Horn. 

In some closing thoughts, Horn said that “God gave us minds to learn facts, and that we are to go out in the world asking questions.” He added that “in knowing arguments we can greatly serve others.”  

Horn ended on an anecdote of his encounter with a young atheist woman on a university campus. After a discussion and debate, she said words that Horn said broke his heart: “I really liked talking to you. Maybe if I met someone like you years ago, maybe I wouldn’t have been an atheist.” 

Horn shared this to illustrate how important it is to be “willing to ask questions” and “speak with charity and love,” quoting Fulton Sheen as saying that one “can win an argument and lose a soul.”  

Horn ended on this encouraging note of Christian love when encountering atheists in a post-Christian world. In doing this, Horn said that “we can change a lot.”   

The event was sponsored by the Young American Foundation, and cosponsored by Franciscan’s YAF (Young Americans for Freedom) club and the School of Philosophy and Theology.