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Monday, May 6, 2013

A Family Discussion About Faith


Unfortunately, the intellectual superiority that Jesus displays in his exchanges with the Pharisee does not reflect the dynamics that take place today in the debates between atheists and people of faith. They argue about the existence of a Creator, so we shouldn’t be surprised. The theologian Paul Tillich said:
“Anyone who gets into a debate about the existence of God has stacked the cards in favor of the atheist.”
 “Existence” is a word we can comprehend, for it refers to reality, whereas we can’t figure out God. The two words are forced in the same sentence all the time, but they don’t belong together.
My husband, as I see it, is a believer at heart and an atheist intellectually, so he can function as a bridge between our son and I.
“Have you ever heard of the Aeropagite?” he asked to our contemptuous son. He was a mysterious ancient mystic who, in his attempt to define God, made use of what has been known by the philosophical tradition as the ‘ via negativa’. According to him, no attributes as we know them could be true of God, including the attribute of existence. Therefore, in a very mystical sense, God does not even exists. By this he probably meant that human mind cannot grasp anything concerning God, who is above and beyond our cognitive sphere.”
“He certainly is,” I said, “but what people of faith hold on to is the religious experience, which of course cannot be grasped by someone who has never had such an experience. An atheist will talk about faith like a blind man might talk of colors.”
“You are so arrogant!” our son exclaimed. “Religious people always pretend to know something that we nonbelievers don’t know. However, twenty-first century atheists are not as much against religion as they are against belief without evidence, because such beliefs caused the most tragic moments in history. For example, Hitler killed millions of people on the basis of an unjustified belief, namely that the Jews were an inferior race.”
“Evil was at the root of this false belief,” I answered. “No one can deny that in the history of Christianity there have been evil people also, but remember that the Church is a human creation. You can’t condemn Christ for the wrong that was done in his name.”
“I’m not blaming religion only,” our son replied, “but belief itself. I’m interested in truth and therefore in evidence.”
“Then what is your opinion about Communism in Soviet Russia and China?” his father retorted. “This
ideology was as dangerous as a belief and produced massive violence against innocent people. We can only
conclude that violent impulses are deeply rooted in human beings, just like their need to believe in something,
it doesn’t matter if it is a religion or an ideology. Both can be used to do either evil or good. If dogmas,
along with rational doctrines, can be used to arm people, then there is no claim that it should be responsible
for the evil of this world. Evil always finds a way to manifest itself.

1 comment:

Manny said...

Good argument from your husband. Plus, so much of quantum physics is mathematical and not empirical. Science itself is not always empirical.