Monday, June 10, 2013


   "I am a scientist.  I know evolution and the biological laws of the universe.  Therefore, God does not exist."
   "I am a philosopher.  I know how to think deeply and logically.  Therefore, God does not exist."
   "I am a plumber.  I know how to fix leaky pipes.  Therefore, God does not exist."
   "I am a parent.  I know how to raise children.  Therefore, God does not exist."

   It is easy for us to be tempted to argue with the people who made these statements.  We could say, "You went from one area of expertise to another, without proof."  That only opens the door to an argument over proof.  But there is no proof to be had, either way.  For example, if I believe in God, I will say that science, shows me that God exists.  If I don't believe in God, then I will say that science shows me that God does not exist.  So we should resist the temptation to argue.

   The simple truth is that we either believe in God or we don't.  (Here, I'm going to say something not-nice:  Agnostics are just lazy; they should make up their minds.)  

   Using science as an example, let's look at our history as the Judeo-Christian People of God.  When we thought the world was flat and that the sun could stop in the sky, we believed in God.  When we found out that the world was round and wasn't the center of the universe, we believed in God.  When we learned, with Newton, that the world was mechanistic, we believed in God.  Now that we know that the world is made of evolving energy, we still believe in God.  If and when scientists give us a whole new view of the universe, we will still believe in God.

   Believing in God is sometimes easy, sometimes not.  Using experience as an example:  when we first woke up to who we are as humans, we believed in God.  When we were enslaved in Egypt, and then came through the Exodus to the Promised Land, we believed in God.  When we were taken into exile, we believed in God.  When Jesus was born, lived, preached, was crucified and rose from the dead, we believed in God.  When we Christians split apart and condemned one another, we still believed in God.  When the Catholic church took on the trappings of Roman Imperialism and Renaissance monarchy, we still believed in God.  When we Christians disgraced our faith and humanity by being anti-Semitic, and owning African slaves, we still believed in God.  Even the slaves believed in God!  When hell erupted upon our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Holocaust, both they and we still believed in God.

   All this brings up the question:  when atheists say they don't believe in God, what image or idea of God do they have before them?  If, for example, they have an image or idea of God as Someone who is supposed to intervene and stop bad things from happening, then they need to correct their image or idea.  That's not the God we believe in.  The God we believe in lets the universe and the world act on their own through evolution, exactly as scientists understand the process of evolution.  The God we believe in lets biological processes act exactly as biologists understand those processes.  The God we believe in lets diseases, earthquakes and tsunamis occur that harm and kill plants, animals and people.  The God we believe in encourages and empowers us to move forward toward personal and global wholeness-in-love, while leaving us  free, either to love one another or to hate one another and fight wars.  This same God is the One who is All-powerful, All-knowing and All-loving.  In fact, it is God's ability to make us free to life well or ill that makes God All-powerful, All-knowing and All-loving. 

   Little wonder that St. Paul says that our faith is foolishness to the Gentiles. (1 Cor. 1:18-25).  Today, instead of saying, "Gentiles," we can say, "atheists."  For one thing, our foolishness puts us in what we believe to be good company, e.g., Abraham and Sarah, Miriam and her younger brother, Moses, Isaiah, Jesus, Mary, Paul and Phoebe and Priscilla, Origen, Monica and her son, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Gregor Mendel, Maimonides, John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, Francis and Clare of Assisi, Martin Luther, George Fox, Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Karl Rahner, Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Mother Theresa, and many others.  And I would like to add here, the science departments of our Catholic universities, where evolution and biology are taught.

   Yet, it seems that our atheist brothers and sisters must still believe that we are either behind the times, dumb or deceived--or all three.  So if, for example, any of them ever says to us, "Look, I can be a good person and do good things for others, without God," I suggest that we don't argue with them, but rather that we reply, "Good.  Now let's figure out how we can be good persons and do good things for others together."   


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