Why Do We Believe?

The dynamics of Catholic faith-building are thus severely attacked today by many in the sciences who quite glibly point out that the evidence of science trumps the evidence of religion.

The Year of Faith is a most appropriate time to address a significant problem that many Catholics wrestle with:  Why do we believe in a beneficent God and the doctrines of the Catholic Church?  “Faith” is the common response to that question, but faith in what?   What is the evidence upon which that faith rests, and is it reliable?  Does the Church ask for blind, unreasoned faith?  Amidst the current onslaught of atheistic claims that the “hard” evidence from science has solved the mystery of the universe’s origin and that God had nothing to do with it, the challenge before us is whether Catholics are clinging to outmoded thoughts, lingering from a primitive past, with no provable evidence.

Even if these challenges do not lead to an outright rejection of religious belief among the faithful, their constant assertions in the culture certainly engender doubt and indifference among many.  They probably account for much of the notoriously large number of Catholic adults, especially the younger ones, who no longer practice their faith.

The dynamics of Catholic faith-building are thus severely attacked today by many in the sciences who quite glibly point out that the evidence of science trumps the evidence of religion.   At a time when the hard evidence of “wonder science” is increasingly seen as supporting atheism, and obviating the “delusions” of religion, people will naturally question the “softer” evidential foundations of Catholic faith.

Therefore, it is essential to remind people, now and then, of the genius of the human mind for wrapping itself around abstract, philosophical evidence to arrive at truth.

We are physical, sensing creatures, and so to prove something, we naturally opt for hard physical evidence when we can get it.  It is usually clear and inarguable.  Consider that in a court of law, murder suspects are rarely found guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence, but rather on direct, physical evidence such as surveillance camera photos, tape recordings, eye witness reports, signed confessions, DNA samples, fingerprints, a murder weapon, a dead body.  Therefore, theories, pre-conceived notions, innuendoes, hunches, hearsay, and philosophy have no place here.

But, we are also thinking, reasoning human beings.  It is the human mind that has historically kept humanity from extinction.  Given the proven capabilities of this brain, and the immateriality of religious issues, wouldn’t use of intellectual, philosophical evidence alone have the advantage over physical data in the search for God?  This is the central issue here: the nature of the evidence for God.  If we rely solely on empirical evidence—as atheism would have us do—then, we will never find God, and never honor the real superiority of the human mind.

Man is not as sense-dependent as is the rest of the animal kingdom, which is exactly why he has been successful.  He has learned to reason his way out of problems by fashioning tools, weapons, clans, alliances, and societies. As man evolved from more primitive forms, he developed a bigger, smarter brain, thereby having the ability to rely more on cognitive skills rather than on sheer physical prowess and other sense-dependent skills.  Over the millennia, man’s mental tools have given him the advantage.  No other living species has come close to what Homo sapiens has done with his thinking equipment.  That is something we all immediately recognize. Our superior brains have enabled us to survive and prosper, to emerge at the top of the food chain (if that is something to be proud of) becoming lords of the earth.

As a common dictionary would define it, the mind is a complexity of cognitive functions, such as perception, choosing, feeling, reasoning, and so on.  We use the words “mind” and “brain” almost interchangeably, yet, they are really quite different.  Technically, the brain is a few pounds of squishy gray matter. We speak of “mind” as something immaterial, an abstract collective name for all cognitive faculties “seated” in the brain.  Yet, exactly how the various functions of the mind operate and interact with the gray matter is something I’ll leave to cognitive scientists (although there is as much disagreement in this field of science as there is in any other).  What about the soul, and the supposed “mind-soul connection”?  If we have a soul, then a mind-soul connection surely exists because our soul’s future, after this life, is dependent on how well we make use of our mind in freely-willed choices, Catholics believe.

Cognitive functions virtually define the human being.  Ours are very special among all animals. I will, hereafter, refer to these functions as Uniquely Human Cognitive Faculties (or “UHCFs” henceforth).  To perceive spiritual realities, evidence for Catholic faith is found mainly in the exercise of these UHCFs, assisted by God’s grace, in evaluating such evidence of faith.  They have made mankind successful, simultaneously enabling his assent to the idea of a spiritual world, and a loving divinity that created everything.  It is primarily our UHCFs that have probed non-physical, intellectual evidence for the supernatural.

In what could be a lengthy list of possible UHCFs, we can quickly mention a dozen or more that animals possess very little of, or none of, which leads to the belief that such faculties are uniquely human. While it is not meant to be exhaustive, here is my list of UHCFs:

Logic.  Logic is employed in areas of critical thinking, such as in argumentation, law, philosophy, mathematics, science, computer circuitry, programming and artificial intelligence.  Developed by Aristotle as a discipline of formal study, logic is something we use every day in proving something, decision-making, or argumentation.   Some of its sub-categories include inductive and deductive reasoning, axioms, syllogisms, inference, and various mathematical applications, such as set theory, symbolic logic, and Boolean logic.  Because we are “logical,” we can understand the reasonableness of philosophical proofs for the existence of an intelligent creator, from the arguments for order in the world, and the necessity of a first, or uncaused, cause.  From the profusion of love in the world, we deduce the action of something else shaping human nature, and not only the dog-eat-dog theory of Darwin’s “natural selection.”

Association.  This is the ability to see a relationship between two or more phenomena, to connect the dots, as it were.  Intelligence tests are heavily dependent on one’s ability to perceive relationships.  For example, a typical test question might present a string of numbers, say 9, 12, 15, 18, and then ask what number should come next.  Sometime in the early days of Homo sapiens, our ancestors learned to make fire.  They quickly associated rubbing sticks together with a cooked dinner.  They noted the connection between clouds and rain, the moon and tides, copulation and pregnancy.  Primitives saw lightning and tornadoes and, in the absence of a modern scientific explanation, connected a divine mind with them.

Since then, science has caught up with us, so now we see goodness and love in people, connecting these with divinity.  We associate the presence of order throughout the world with an intelligence that must have established the order.  We search for meaning in life, connecting that with God.

Assumption.  One might be tempted to say that assumptions are uncritical thinking. But, in the end, assumptions can be reasonable and appropriate, given the circumstances, restrictions, and incompleteness of data.  Good or bad, assuming is what we do, and this faculty has helped make us successful.  Consider that most of the decisions we make daily are based on imperfect or incomplete information.  For example, we ask questions like: “Should I take this job, or look for something better?” or “Is this the right person to marry?”  What we do is fill in the gaps of missing data with assumed data, make decisions, and move on.  If we sought absolute certainty, we would spend all of our time doing data-gathering for more and better evidence, never having quite enough, and never getting anything done.  What we know about the historical Jesus is found in the Gospels. However, there is hardly enough there to answer all the questions about him that we could ask.  The documentation is a little thin.  The writings of the Fathers give us more information about what Christ said, taught, and expects from us, but not much more.  The Holy Spirit helps us with the rest.  Altogether, we have enough information for salvation, but never as much as we would like.  So we fill in the blanks with reasoned assumptions, combining them with equally incomplete evidence from other areas, looking for coherent connections, making a decision, and then, move on.

Perception of coincidence.   When events that are unlikely to occur together (in time or place) do in fact occur, we naturally ask if they are coincidental, or more than coincidental.   For example, if we tossed one hundred pennies in the air and got all heads, would we just assume that this was an extremely rare coincidence, and leave it at that?  Or would we think it more than coincidence?  Would we not consider that there might be some sort of trickery, and check to see if the pennies had heads on both sides?  We’d have reason working here, assumptions and deductions, at least.  Our logical brains would try to sort out the right explanation for the correct causal relationship before it formed a conclusion.  Also, we might note the enormous number of physical features and conditions on planet earth, and its cosmological environs, that happen to support intelligent life, then deducing that their abundance is more than coincidental.  I’m speaking of the anthropic principle, which most scientists also agree is more than coincidental, but for reasons different than Catholic ones.

Love.  We are people who love, who need to be loved, and need people to love.  Without love, we get sick.  Other close manifestations of love include: forgiveness, compassion, and generosity.  Perhaps, love—which is the most dominant and characteristic feature of the human mind/soul—is the UHCF that science has the most difficulty explaining away.

Free will.  Free will means that man’s thinking is independent—at least to some extent—from the natural and physiological influences that impinge on his decisions.  The will must be free to override the imperatives of emotion, hunger, tiredness, sickness, fear, etc., in making choices.  If one’s thinking apparatus is nothing but atoms bundled into gray-matter neurons—atoms set on irrevocable paths at the Big Bang, with no intelligent being to intervene and give human thought the freedom to alter those paths, and overrule natural impulses and instincts—then the will is not freed from anything.  In fact, there is no will.  Free will would be an illusion, as many philosophers and some scientists still claim.  This is the main idea behind the well-aged philosophical issue of determinism, the Achilles heel of atheism, further expounded at many web sites, and in the Catholic Encyclopedia.  Only the intervention of an intelligent Creator, in the course of evolution, can enable the human mind to freely choose and be responsible for its decisions.

Storytelling.  We are born storytellers.  Every culture has its stories, myths, and epics.  We like to tell stories, and hear stories.  The Bible is full of them; so are the Gospels, where they are called “parables.”  They appear to be God’s medium of choice for making a point.

Perception of beauty. Though lodged in the eye of the beholder, beauty is something we all recognize when we see it, but find impossible to define. It is a mystery, and like all mysteries, it invariably prompts us to think about God.

Hope.  We have an insatiable appetite for happiness and, in the midst of difficulties, we rarely lose hope for it.  Hope is an indismissable part of our human heritage; one that must have been put there for a reason, or we wouldn’t have it.

Intuition.  In my view, intuition is the most important UHCF.  It has played the most critical role in mankind’s universal religious belief.  It is the one that ties all the others together.  Carl Jung defined intuition as an unconsciously derived perception.  Other psychologists, and cognitive scientists, hold a variety of definitions for intuition, but there appear to be several primary elements common to their thinking: First of all, intuition is not a simple cognitive function.  It operates below conscious awareness, subliminally or unconsciously; it depends on a previously-acquired data bank of information (i.e., memory, itself a UHCF, perhaps). It enables extremely rapid retrieval of remembered data, analysis, and decision-making. It is automatic and effortless.  Intuition entails the accumulation of a lifetime’s experiences and knowledge, summoned to the fore of consciousness on demand.  It almost has a presence within us, a suitcase that we carry around full of beliefs, attitudes, experiences, and instincts that speak to us from the past, and generate instant responses. During the course of our lives—in fact, during every day and every second—many events, sensations, thoughts, conversations, etc., impinge on our brains, consciously or unconsciously. They are recorded and stored there. The older we get, the greater becomes our accretion of stored experiences, lessons learned, fears, wisdom, etc.  The longer we live, the more of these impact and seep down to a subconscious level.  Some can be retrieved out of the memory bank into conscious awareness.  Others cannot; but psychiatrists will tell us that they all can still affect us, even if they remain at the unconscious level.

There is nothing fuzzy or inferior about intuition as a cognitive skill, for it has also been a creative, problem-solving tool, especially for mathematicians and scientists:

Abraham Maslow distinguished two types of scientists, each essential to the overall endeavor. One type he compared to tiny marine animals who build up a coral reef; they patiently pile up fact after fact, repeat experiments, and cautiously modify theories. The other breed, whom Maslow called the “eagles of science,” makes the soaring leaps and imaginative flights that lead to revolutions in thought. Intuition is what gives wing to the eagles … Einstein on the discovery of natural laws: “There are no logical paths to these laws, only intuition resting on sympathetic understanding of experience can reach them.” … John Maynard Keynes on Isaac Newton: “it was his intuition which was preeminently extraordinary. So happy {was he} in his conjectures that he seemed to know more than he could have possibly any hope of proving. The proofs were … dressed up afterwards; they were not the instrument of discovery.” 1

Intuition has served our evolution especially well by making the difference between survival and death depend on the quickness of subliminal analysis and response.  As a cognitive process, intuition is probably the one used by most people, since the creation of humans, for assembling whatever evidence they have for the supernatural, evaluating it in the wink of an eye, forming conclusions, and saying, “I believe.”

Human beings have universally come to some intuited experience of the divine.  They have reached into their store of knowledge, reasoned over its subtle data and, in nanoseconds, concluded that something invisible, immaterial, powerful, intelligent, and mysterious explains mysteries of  beauty, love, order, the marvels of nature, the miracle of a child’s birth, the allure of an infant’s face, the gripping power of the Gospels, the wonders of the cosmos, and the hundreds of other minutiae that signal to the open mind that something is going on—something more than meets the eye.

We could go on with more UHCFs:  A sense of humor, crying, laughing, imagination, language, music, introspection, and even dreaming, might all be some additional ones.  The point is, of course, that only human beings—thinking not like physicists, but as human beings, with UHCFs, such as the above—can determine if God exists, what he is like, and what he wants from us.   With such superior cognitive skills, would not God, if there is a God, have given them to us, his very best of all creation, to serve as the very best means of responding to his revelation?   And, would he not make himself known through means available to every human being, and not just to an educated elite?  When skeptics ask why the Christian God is so hidden, we answer that he reveals himself quite plainly in the myriad of subtle bits of evidence that only the great minds of ours are perfectly crafted to detect.

Evolution—from the Big Bang, on through Darwinian evolution of human life, a broad and complicated subject—has become a key battleground for the debate between atheism and religion.  While a full treatment of this subject is outside the scope of this article, I will, however, focus on how some interpretations of scientific data are misused to serve as atheistic evidence, and the magnitude of the consequent threat to Catholic faith.  The focus of evolutionary physics is on our cosmic beginnings.  The focus of evolutionary biology is on life, notably human life.  Together, they ask if we are nothing but well-organized protein molecules, formed by atoms, set on fixed courses, 13.7 billion years ago during the Big Bang.   Are we each the product of random acts of nature? Pope Benedict XVI prefers: “Each of us is the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” 2

It would seem to many that there is an inherent conflict between evolutionary science and religion; but, there is not.  Atheism has filched this elegant theory, one of the greatest discoveries of human endeavor. Attached to it are a priori assumptions regarding randomness and chance, and the “eternity” of matter—none of which are inherent in the basic theory.  It has, in general, interpreted scientific findings to accord with an atheistic ideology, and in so doing, presented us with a forgery.  Basic evolutionary theory, including Darwinian evolution (i.e., “natural selection”), is perfectly in accord with Catholic teaching. While the proper domain for the scientist is physical, material objects, this does not prevent some misunderstanding when certain atheistic interpretations, assumptions, and accretions are added to what the data show, becoming an embedded part of what is generally understood as evolutionary science.  (Interestingly, the one who discovered the mechanism by which natural selection works, giving legs to this theory, was a faithful Catholic priest, Gregor Mendel, the “father of genetics.”)

In this scientific age, we Catholics must suffer the dismissive scrutiny of many highly influential experts in the scientific and academic communities, who don the mantle of supreme judge of what is reality, and what is imagination.  We all know how religion and philosophy make out here, because the kind of proof for God and Church doctrine that many academics demand, is not tangible enough for them.  The usual evidence for God and doctrine—thought by Catholics to lie in such things as the blood of martyrs and the thinking of Aquinas—are just not solid enough for the skeptical cognoscenti of today.

While the proper domain for the scientist is physical, material objects, this does not prevent some of the more well-known among them from wandering off, outside their field, into metaphysical interpretations of what their material data “means.”  I am not sure how they find the nerve, or license, to do that.   As for the existence of a Creator-God, some top scientists are now writing books stating that new scientific breakthroughs in quantum physics prove that a divinity is not needed to explain the origin of matter.  Ever since 1927, with the first publication of a scientific paper (by another faithful Catholic priest, Georges LeMaitre)—providing evidence that the universe originated from the fireworks of a “primeval atom” on “a day without yesterday” (an event subsequently called the “Big Bang”)—atheist scientists have been itching for eight decades to explain away the obvious implication that it was God who lit the match.  Now, in the esoterica of advanced physics, with its “string” theory, they feel tantalizingly close to that explanation through a “theory of everything,”—a theory that Einstein tried and failed to provide, which they believe will come any day now.  Any day now, they will make the break-through, triumphantly offering sneak previews in their books.  Yes, any day now.  They write with a mixture of confidence, optimism, and certainty.  Many of our people find it all quite appealing.

For an example of the new heights of this kind of philosophic foolishness reached in the past couple years by scientists, consider the writings of physicists, Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss.  The well-published, and highly influential, Hawking (authoring the 20-million-copies of A Brief History of Time) tells us, on the very first page of his 2010 book, The Grand Design, that “philosophy is dead” because “philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.”  Later in the book, he administers his explicit coup de grâce to God in a 16-word encapsulation of what the teaching Church is up against:  “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing…” 3   (How that self-created matter managed to order itself, replete with all laws of physics and purposeful organization, is not explained.)  Do you remember when some said God was dead?  If there is any discipline capable of resurrecting God, and rescuing Hawking from this kind of intellectual absurdity, it is philosophy.  No wonder he wishes it were dead.  As revealed by a simple internet search, there are fortunately enough competent people in science to tell us that Hawking hasn’t proven anything except that he has a penchant for speculation, and a desperate need to go down in history as the discoverer of that elusive “theory of everything.”

Similarly, another physicist, Lawrence Krauss, has been recently ebullient in the press about what he perceives as the religion-killing implications of the Higgs-Boson sub-atomic particle, discovered in July 2012.  As a “me-too” repository of the Hawking mindset, Krauss published, in 2012, his book: A Universe From Nothing.  Neither of these two gurus of nothingness seem to understand that you can’t get something from nothing.  Krauss’ “nothing” is defined differently from a theologian’s idea of “nothingness,” and thinks of it as a field or fields, that if one “throws” enough energy into such a {Higgs} field, he believes, then one can produce real particles, like “the Higgs” 4 So, we ask: “Who made the energy?  Who does the throwing?”  This is the kind of “evidence” the Church must now combat. And, Hawking and Krauss have plenty of counterparts in other sciences.

The readership of HPR is probably not the sort to buy into the idea of a universe that creates itself from nothing.  It is very clear, however, that many people do, particularly young people.  In much of academia these days, it is “smart” to be an atheist; Christian students are often ashamed to admit their religiosity.  Atheism is capturing young people faster than any other ideology, philosophy or theology.

It finds its major support nowadays in the kind of “science” I have outlined above.  In 2007, a research organization, The Barna Group, found that eight percent of those in their 40s or older, think of themselves as atheists or agnostics versus 14 percent among those in their 20s and 30s.  Among those ages 18 to 22, the figure is 19 percent. 5

A Pew Forum study conducted in early 2010, entitled “Religion Among Millenials,” found that 26 percent of those born after 1980 (millenials) were unaffiliated with any religion; of those born between 1965 and 1980 (generation X), 20 percent were unaffiliated; and of those born between 1946 and 1964, the figure was 13 percent. 6  So we can see a clear trend here of crisis proportions for loss of religion, especially among younger adults.

While there are numerous possible explanations, one of them surely is the influence of the atheistic-trending folks in academia.  I can find no surveys studying the religious beliefs of university professors, in general, but there was one conducted in 2003 among 149 evolutionary biology professors of repute at major universities and colleges—The Cornell Evolution Project, done under the supervision of the notable William Provine. 7  The survey found that: 84 percent said they were not religious; 86 percent said that there was either no evidence for God, or not enough; 88 percent said that they held no belief in immortality; 83 percent were willing to teach their beliefs about the objective reality of life, and only nine percent are willing to relinquish this task to philosophers (three percent felt that we create our own reality—whatever that means); 72 percent felt that religion is a social phenomenon that evolved along with everything else—hence they see conflict between overlapping magisteria of religion and evolution.

I am not saying that 80 to 90 percent of all scientists are atheists or agnostics.  I don’t think anybody really knows, but the above figures suggest that there are a lot of them, and that scares me.  I am told that there is probably a greater proportion of them in the universities than in the general population, among which, in the United States, this is “only” five percent—but increasing.

Times have changed, and catechists must now do more than teach Catholic doctrine.  They must make the case that Catholic evidence for religious belief is not only different from the kind employed in empirical fields—such as science, law and business—but that it is also dependable and credible.  This may seem self-evident to many of us, but I fear most people don’t examine this issue very deeply, being swept along in our culture’s steady turn toward religious skepticism.  Catechists must make the case that Catholic reasoning operates on non-physical evidence in an anthropological-psychological process within the human mind; whereas science relies exclusively for its evidence on physical data extracted from observation by the senses or extensions of the senses—scientific instrumentation such as microscopes, particle accelerators and land rovers on Mars. They must make the case that these mind processes are the most appropriate means for assessing the existence of an immaterial God, and ultimate reality.

There is something else catechists must do.  They must learn something about the sciences that bear on the origin and evolution of the universe, and the evolution of life on earth.  Atheists claim that these sciences offer foundational evidence for their ideology, because they refute the notions of divine causation of the universe, and the “specialness” of human life.  Catechists do not have to become scientists, but they need to know what is right, and what is wrong, with evolution theory.  With books from Catholic scientists like Kenneth R. Miller and Francisco J. Ayala available, this is not that hard.

If there is a God, we will find him only by being human, only by thinking like a human being.  A gentle God works gently on the human heart and mind that is open to his subtle evidence.  We need to instruct people in the superiority of their uniquely human cognitive faculties in sifting the softer evidence for a faith seeking understanding.  Blaise Pascal would agree:  “It was, therefore, not right that he {Christ} should appear in a manner manifestly divine, and absolutely capable of convincing all men; but neither was it right that his coming should be so hidden that he could not be recognized by those who sincerely sought him. … There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.” 8

  1. Philip Goldberg, Inner Knowing: Consciousness, Creativity, Insight and Intuition, edited by Helen Palmer ( New York, N.Y., 1998, Penguin Putnam Inc.).
  2. Homily of Pope Benedict XVI from the Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, April24, 2005; http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/homilies/documents/hf_ben-xvi_hom_20050424_inizio-pontificato_en.html).
  3. Stephen W. Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (New York, 2010, Bantam Books).
  4. Lawrence M. Krauss, CNN July 6, 2012 (http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/06/opinion/krauss-higgs-particle/index.html).
  5. The Barna Group, 2007 Atheists and Agnostics Take Aim at Christians(http://www.barna.org/faith-spirituality/102-atheists-and-agnostics-take-aim-at-christians).
  6. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, June 2008.
  7. The Cornell Evolution Project, Greg Gaffin, 2003  (http://web.archive.org/web/20100702162215/http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/) This study was a Ph.D. thesis supervised by William B. Provine.
  8. Blaise Pascal, Penses, no. 149, (London, 1966, Penguin Group, translated by A. J. Krailsheimer).
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avatar About Stephen J. Morrissey

Stephen J. Morrissey and his wife, Georgiann, live in Cloverdale, California. He obtained his B.A. in psychology from the University of San Francisco, and later received a MBA in finance from Santa Clara University, California. He attended 4 years of high school studies at St. Joseph Seminary in Mountain View, California, and 2 1/2 years of college studies at St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California. He has worked as an advertising copywriting, as well as various business and finance positions in the banking industry. He is presently retired from ownership of a California mortgage brokerage business.

Comments

  1. avatar Justin says:

    Two exellent books that all Catholics should read are Genesis Chaphers 1-11 by Father Warkulwitz and Genesis, Creation and Early Man by the late Orthodox priest Seraphim Rose. Both books show that evolution is not compatible with traditional Christianity be it Orthodoxy or Catholicism. The Catholic book is the most interesting because it shows how the Saints, Fathers, Doctors and Councils of the Church along with much of modern science itself renders evolution nothing more than a ridiculous theory. Both books are good for Catholics; the first one by Father Warkulwitz is a must. It will strengthen your faith. Catholics have been kowtowing to evolutionary “science” too long and it has rightly eroded the Faith in their hearts. Take back your faith.

  2. avatar Joseph Concordia says:

    Stephen, Thank you for this article excellently written and so accurately presenting the logic for belief in the existence of God and our place in His creation. Your article tracks so closely with things I have written that I found it confirmation for my own thoughts on this topic. My writings are only essays to myself that live just in the hard drive of my PC. But I write the things because in the process I examine the validity of the notions they contain and resolve issues of doubts raised by the conflict between the scientific method and philosophical deduction needed to understand what is the full scope of our reality. From this I fully believe in the supernatural.

  3. avatar Martin B Drew says:

    In the Nicene creed we say I believe in God the creator of heaven and earth…….I believe in all things visible and invisible. If only those who say they are atheists or agnostics would and could read the Nicene creed I wonder what their reaction would be. And to connect God to what is seen such as the planetary system, meteorological systems, physics, chemistry, hurricanes, tornadoes, rain for an atheist could not and would not want to. Reading the priestly and royalist account of creation in Genesis by a devout Catholic is convincing but for atheists I wonder. Revelation from Jesus and the Holy Spirit about their truth is given freely to whom they wish. The Council of Trent 1546-1563 spoke of God touching the human heart through the enlightenment of the Holy pirit and added that the grace of God leaves the recipient free either to accept or reject the gift of faith. Augustine finds the idea of emanation conflicts with the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. He argues If God made creation out of God’s sel, thencreation would be equal to God. For Augustine divine creation is a far more radical activity than making creatures from preexisting matter..The goodness of material creation is underscored in Augustines works. This is quite clear in his speculative reflections on the Trnoty arguing that traces or vestiges of the Trinity are foundin the human body. He believed that all of creation bears the mark of the Trinity. The creator who is immutable, brings past present an future to be in a single act. Augustine argues that God continues to sustain all things. Augustine : In the first instance God made everything together without any moments of time intervening but now he works within the course of time. Let us therefor believe, and if possible also understand that God is working even now so that if his action should be withdrawn from his creatures, they would perish. St Thomas Aquinas sees God as efficient cause, God causes effects -creatures- in a way that involves no change from nothingness to being and yet is complete effect. One might argue that creation freely created by God is also gifted with freedom. These two areas, cosmology and praxis which are closely connected in the age of ecological crises, will likely provide the guiding questions for the expression of belief in God who is both source and ground for the world we inhabit and our destiny andhope As cosmological concerns ecological praxis assume the center stage of creation theology may the following directive serve as comfort and challenge ” I set before you life and death, blessing and curse ; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live . ” ( Deut 30:19) May the choices for life-the yeses to creation through the study, dialogue and difficult decisions that are required for the life and health of nature-be a living hymn of thanksgiving and praise for the creator, God ho is worthy of our glory and honor and adoration. y

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