I just finished reading some blog posts by a Catholic apologist named Matt Fradd that dealt with the conflict between atheism and science and God. In the comments section was a number of posts from both the theist and atheist sides of the fence. Reading the comments, I felt sad. “Why can’t we all just stop fighting about God and just live our lives peacefully?” I wanted to ask. “Instead of arguing about cerebral theological concepts, why don’t you go take out the garbage or call your mother or address any other number of immediate concerns?” was another question that I wished to enter into the fray of mud-slinging and high sophistry. Promoting human well-being—isn’t that what we should focus on? Or, I don’t know, seeking good in the world—isn’t that more important that arguing about beliefs that are just way out there?
Now that I think about it more, I guess that the definitions of “good” and “human well-being” and how you go about promoting those critical fields rest upon the existence of God. If there is no God, can we still trust the Bible’s rendition of how to live a good life? If God does exist, should we even worry about enjoying earthly life if salvation, or alternatively, perdition waits around the bend, the distance to which is infinitely small if those fates last for all eternity? This is some heavy stuff, and like many people, I often just don’t want to deal with it.
But at some point, we do have to deal with it. Death, the prevalence of suffering, the absence of apparent purpose, and so many other dilemmas force us to dip into the theological well-spring, or else reject it to reach toward science or philosophy as our guide to addressing these tough issues. When it comes down to it, we all have to live our lives. We all probably die. I don’t know, since I never have felt the terrifying clutch of death. For that matter, how do I even know that my foot won’t fall through the floor when I take my next step? Well, now here I go, jumping onto the loony train of epistemological thought.
I suppose that if I want to live life practically, I have to assume some things. For example, that gravity will continue to operate as it has for the last 19 years of my experience, or that the people with whom I interact aren’t just robots, and maybe, too, that there is a loving being who is directing everything in line with some kind of plan. Is it really that outrageous to make that jump? Am I an imbecile for assuming, just as I assume that my parents really love me, that God is out there, that God made everything, and that God grants us a little peace of mind by ensuring the continuity of our souls? Does that make me a lunatic? And, conversely, are people off their rockers if they think otherwise? If someone thinks that God didn’t make the universe and that spirituality exists as a figment of our imaginations, is that person bonkers?
No. But to return to the comments section of Matt Fradd’s posts, there were a score of people who had gone bananas. Just complete bananas. All of this bantering and scoffing at others’ beliefs. Were these people posting without hardly thinking?
Yeah. I think that some of them were. And this is really the point for me. If you’re going to belief something, think it out. I don’t mean lengthen your arguments in favor of it in a way to justify it. I mean take it to task. Take it back to the drawing board and scribble all over it. With the pen of the opposition. Consider the fullness of what you are saying, the critiques and rebuttals. And then, no matter what you believe, I can respect that. I would hope that it would benefit the greater good, but if it doesn’t I know that you have thought it through. I will still disagree with you and argue my side, but I will be open to your input and criticism, and you ought to be open to my own, if you really are receptive to the critical process that hopefully formed your beliefs. If you aren’t, I’ll call your views lazy. Who knows? You might just change my mind. But you have to think, really think, before you even try.
Cum Caritate et Cogitatione (With love and thought)