Saturday, November 9, 2013


   A recent article noted that up until about 300 years ago, all arguments, i.e., discussions and philosophical inquires, about the existence of God were carried out by people who believed in God.  In the past three centuries or so, people, especially scientists, who do not believe in God or anything supernatural, have joined in the argument.

   As I pointed out in my June 10th post of this year, the modern argument with scientific unbelievers should not even be happening.  Science, by definition, studies the universe in terms of what can be quantitatively demonstrated and proven.  Scientific understanding and statistics, for example, can prove that the earth is spinning and can know the rate of spin, but scientists cannot prove that non-measurable things such as honesty, love, trust, compassion, art appreciation, etc., exist.  At best they can report on the bodily, psychological and cultural changes that take place when we experience these wonders of life.  But, for example, spouses who love each other and their children know that there is infinitely more to their love than their bodily changes, psychology and culture.  The same is true of our belief in God.  Our faith, while not in any way contradicting science or reason, goes infinitely beyond the natural limits of science and reason.

   Our best example of going beyond science and reason while not contradicting them is Jesus himself.  After he died, his followers underwent an astounding experience.  They changed from being reasonably (scientifically?) frightened and disheartened, and ready to give up any attempt to continue what Jesus had taught them, to being a beyond-science-and-reason, exultant, confident people ready to die proclaiming the good news of Jesus the Christ to the whole world.  We  believers ascribe this change to the work of the Spirit, and commemorate this world-changing event as Pentecost.  But scientists, using science alone, don't--and can't--know what we're talking about.  The Pentecost experience is forever beyond natural, scientific understanding.  So we have to explain Pentecost in a way that could possibly make the experience plausible to today's unbelievers.  

   After Jesus' horrific crucifixion and the discovery of the empty tomb, his followers began recalling how he lived.  While he was alive, they saw him as one of them, an exceptional young man, an itinerant preacher, telling them about the wonders of the Kingdom of God that was alive within them. (Mk. 17:21).  The expression, "Kingdom of God," reminded them of the historic kingdom of David and made them think of a renewed prominence of the Hebrew people and religion.  But as they thought back, they realized that Jesus was going far beyond mere history and politics--far beyond an ordinary human life and ordinary human restrictions, to present them and us with citizenship in an eternal life within us, that is creatively, healingly and lovingly energizing us and leading us to ever greater self-transformation in love.

   More astoundingly, he told them and us to be perfect as his Father was perfect (Mt. 5:48), and to sin no more. (Jn. 8:11).  Yet he knew that we are imperfect and are all sinners.  Every saint has loudly proclaimed him/herself to be a sinner, and pope Francis recently identified himself as a sinner.  Further, Jesus fed the hungry and cured the sick, and told us to do the same, (Mt. 25:31-46,) and told us  that the poor are blessed and that we are to be pure of heart, merciful, peacemakers, and that we are to accept the suffering that would come from following such an astounding life (Mt. 5:3ff), which includes our loving our enemies (Mt. 5:41-48), detaching ourselves from love of our wealth and possessions lest we identify ourselves by the things we have instead of who we truly are (Mt. 19:16:30).  When his disciples were astonished by what he was teaching, he spoke to every doubting scientist and philosopher and indeed, to every doubter who would ever live, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible."   

    Now Jesus clearly knew that we would fall short of what he was teaching.  So to prove that he was not preaching scientific or philosophical nonsense, or any kind of human nonsense, he astoundingly promised to forgive us and pick us up every time we fell--absolutely every time without exception (Mt. 18:22).

   And as the sadness of Jesus' death began to wear off,  Jesus' followers began to see him with new eyes--not with the eyes of fear and doubt, and not with the eyes of merely human science or philosophy or psychology, but with the eyes of the soul.  And in their spiritual discernment, they saw Jesus for who he really was, not only a preacher of astounding things but a man who actually lived all the astounding things that he taught and that his followers thought were impossible.  And they then joyfully set out to do astounding things themselves.

   So if today's scientists, philosophers, psychologists and others tell us that our faith is impossible, as I said in my June 10th post, we should not argue with them.  Instead, we should show them that we are doing astounding things in our own lives, and respectfully and lovingly invite them to join us.     


No comments:

Post a Comment