Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why is it so hard for some people to believe in God?

Some nonbelievers will say that science has all but disproved religion. 

I am always fascinated by those who believe that the “big bang” tells us everything we need to know about creation. They adamantly insist that all creation can be explained by this burst of energy. And yet, it seems to me that the “big bang” theory is itself the clearest clue of all that the entire universe - including matter and energy - is completely conditional on an outside force. The idea that the universe created itself is beyond scientific proof and completely illogical. It is only logical that whatever started the universe was not subject to the same laws as the universe. Something … or someone … would seemly have to begin the “big bang.”

Of course ardent anti-God people would say that this is nonsense, that science gives no evidence of God's existence. Which is in fact a truth we can all agree on. Science deals with realities and relationships within the world … and the Creator, by definition, is not an ingredient in the world he made. So we can agree that science can give no empirical evidence of God’s existence. But … this is not the real question. The real question is whether all reality is restricted to what the empirical sciences can measure. Some would say that science alone deals with reality. However the truth is that this statement in itself is a contradiction; because it is scientifically unprovable. How can one prove that reality is restricted to what the empirical sciences can measure? No one can prove that! To say that science alone deals with reality is in and of itself an unscientific observation.

Other nonbelievers will point to the fact that so many awful things have been done in the name of religion.

People struggling with the question of God often comment on all the horrors inflicted on the world by religious people. They say that in the name of God many moral outrages have been inflicted on the human race, such as: the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch hunts, support of slavery and most recently, the clerical sex abuse scandal? This line of thinking seems to allow many to merely dismiss religion rather than prove false any religious argument. But the truth is that the existence of bad Catholics does not in itself demonstrate that Catholicism is a bad thing, anymore than unethical scientists prove that all scientists are unethical. Good science was used to produce nuclear weapons. Does that mean that all scientists are evil? Of course not! In its humanity the Church is easily broken. The failings of people in the Church does not undermine the Churches claim to speak the truth.

The Bible presents some who are opposed to God with another avenue of attack. They say:  "How you can account for the obvious contradictions and bizarre stories in the bible? It hardly seems a cohesive proof for the existence of God." 

The truth is that the bible is a group of books gathered together from thousands of years of literary and social environments. To read it and judge it without an educated understanding of this is in itself an irrational act. Clearly the bible is made up of texts from a wide variety of genres and written at different times for varying audiences. Without studying the great minds of the Church, like, Irenaeus, Origen and Augustine (to name just a few) all of whom dealt with the complexity of the Bible ... one is merely speaking in unqualified generalizations about something of which they know very little. 

The truth is that one must study the entire Bible in the light of Christ crucified and risen from the dead. All of the bible must be read with the filter of Christ who took on himself the sins of the world and brought forgiveness and love to us all. Without this filter it doesn’t make much sense. The Old Testament tells us about man’s struggle against sin. And the New Testament, all the way to the image of the slain lamb in the Book of Revelation, is a story about salvation history. The peaceful Christ, who took upon himself the sin of the world and returned in forgiving love, is the interpretive key to the Bible; only in that light does it all make sense.

Proving God … proving the divinity of Christ … proving the Resurrection … is not the point. Experiencing God … in the imitation of Christ … and embracing the hope of one’s own resurrection is the point. God is love. And the more connected to others one becomes … in love … the more obvious God will become.

How does religion make sense?
Only in loving as Christ loved us …
to intellectualize is a dead-end street.


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