Q : 
How should we respond to an atheist young people if they were told at school that we humans only made of particles and there is no soul as such? For them, it is OK to end our lives when we suffer as death will bring an end to all suffering.

Fr. Francis : 

Atheists often claim that they are rational. It is not difficult to prove that atheism is not scientific nor rational.

Science can neither prove nor disprove whether God or souls exist. Hence, a good student should keep their minds open until it can be proven. The jury is still out. That you can neither prove or disprove something requires a good student of science to consider both possibilities.

Here is a consideration: any honest rational person will admit that they possess only a finite subset of knowledge of all that can be known. It is therefore possible, even likely, that the knowledge and experience of God and souls and any spiritual reality exists in the realm that they haven’t considered yet. A rational finite mind simply does not have the resources necessary to rule out things they cannot disprove yet.

The materialistic view that human consciousness and self-awareness, which traditionally we view as evidence for the existence of a soul, is merely a result of the complex neural net in the brain is only a conjecture or a hypothesis. It is not proven yet. It is illogical to use that as a conclusion. Until one can produce machine consciousness by building a complex enough neural net, it remains in the realm of science fiction.

And regarding taking one’s life to escape suffering: that does not solve anything, and it can be very selfish. It only ends one person’s suffering, but it creates multiple additional suffering for everyone who cares for this person. And the thing about suffering is, who can tell when it will end? While we are suffering, we often feel it will never end and everything is hopeless, only to discover there could be new hope or change just around the corner. And it is highly subjective; two people suffering the identical sickness, one stays positive and hopeful to the end while another despairs even when things are mild. We therefore owe it to ourselves to at least fight it out one more day today and keep positive. You just never know if things will change for the better, or you will change for the better.