– Corrado Gnerre
Dear friend, I am a high school student. I haven’t dealt much with God so far, in the sense of not having thought much about it. Then some lectures by my professor of Philosophy were “providential” in which he insisted on how unconvincing the belief of those who believe in God is. Instead it seems to me that it is more reasonable to believe rather than not believe in the existence of a Creator. I would appreciate your help.
Dear ____, yours is the classic case of the learner who understands more than the teacher. Obviously, you shouldn’t exalt yourself: here, it is not a matter of who knows what “science,” but of a little salt in the head; and I know that while you have it, your professor instead would do well to get it.
You got the question right. Believing in God is not something that concerns only faith but also reason, and above all reason. Faith serves to know what God wants from us, how we must give ourselves to His Word and to His Will, but in itself it is not necessary to understand that He exists. For this reason – as I said – just reason is enough, as long as it is used correctly.
You ask mefor help. Let me offer you some important quotes.
Let’s start with the Bible.
The Book of Wisdom says in chapter 13 [1-5]: “For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, of the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.”
“Psalm 19 (18) writes: “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
Dear ____, it is foreseeable that your prof could turn up his nose before the Bible, and then you can place these words of the good Cicero: “Among many species, no animal, outside of man, has any news of the divinity, and there is not among the same men any people so savage and ferocious, that although they do not know how to conceive God, they do not realize that they must admit the existence” (De legibus, I, 24, 25). Heavy words, which leave no escape. But your professor deserves it.
Dulcis in fundo, dear ____, tell your professor the story of the English philosopher Antony Flew (1923-2010) who, after more than 50 years spent philosophically refuting the existence of God, then in the age of 81, he publicly announced, in articles and interviews, that he had changed his mind and instead considered the existence of a philosophically plausible God. In his latest book, God exists, presents his change as the coherent point of arrival of a process of philosophical research. Three points, in particular, of the study of the universe show, according to Flew, the trace of an Intelligence. First of all, the enormous complexity present in an infinitely small structure, such as DNA, which makes life possible, a complexity that shows an Intelligence at work. He has said that he believes that life and reproduction originate from a Divine Source, because nature obeys laws. The other two problems concern the peculiar characteristics of life, the fact that living beings are intelligently organized and in view of a purpose; the third is the very existence of nature. Chance and probability, often invoked as alternative explanations, show themselves powerless in the face of complexity, which is not only superior to the human mind, but is manifested with constancy and regularity. Flew points out that the choice of theism does not arise as a break, but is the coherent result of his research. He has said that his departure from atheism was not caused by any new phenomenon or topic. When he finally came to recognize the existence of a God, it was not a paradigm shift, as it remains the same for him, as Plato in the Republic causes his Socrates to insist that we must follow reasoning as far as it brings us.
Dear ____, so you have something to talk about with your teacher … and may God gives you good!
(From La buona battaglia. Apologetica cattolica in domande e risposte, 2019©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)