God?

In a comment on Mythtake, and in the context of free will, I said “If I were looking to demonstrate the existence of God, it’s where I would start.” Unsurprisingly I was challenged. Red rag to a bull!

I do not hold that the existence of God can be rationally proved because God is ultimately beyond out ken: we recognise him through belief. Nevertheless, I think it is possible to demonstrate that such a belief is rationally based and that, by excluding the concept of God, we are left with questions about human experience to which we can find no other answer. I start by looking briefly at a classical argument, and I provide links for further arguments.

I summarise one line of approach which is known as the First Cause argument. It states that everything in the universe is contingent. That is, nothing in our experience exists only by reason of itself: it depends on the causes which have brought it about. We may not know all the causes (back to the Big Bang?) but we perceive directly that they are necessary. If we conceive of a universe in which everything is caused by something else, we are still faced by a need for the cause of the whole universe. Thus the explanation must lie in a first cause which exists of its own nature. We call this first cause God. Note that here Aquinas, in this context, does not describe God, nevertheless it is possible to identify the necessary attributes of such a first cause, e,g., omniscience, omnipotence, personhood etc.

An argument like this requires two factors. The first is our perception that entities require causes. This is a priori because, as a principle, it requires no empirical evidence. The second factor is our experience that entities do exist, and do require causes. Of course anyone is free to claim that entities do not require causes, but I think we can safely leave these in a little group talking to each other.

There are of course other arguments such as the argument from design and St Anselm’s ontological argument, (and you may well want to raise these in discussion) but I go directly to my claim that free will (and moral obligation) provides a starting point in considering the existence of God. I do so because both characteristics are facts of human experience and believed by everyone.

Believed by everyone? Surely not! There are many people in society from committed secularists to top neurologists who do not believe in free will. And there is a similar group (perhaps the same people) who hold that our moral sense can be explained by emotion. It appears, however, that these claims are merely intellectual. In practice such people show through their everyday behaviour that in fact they believe in both.

We only have to look at human behaviour. We act and speak the whole time in a way which shows that we accept free will. Even the most died-in-the-wool secularist will not restrain himself from blaming religion for its historical malefactions – cheerfully forgetting that he claims that religions cannot be blamed since their actions were determined and therefore not their responsibility. And of course no scientific conclusion carries weight if it is merely the outcome of unverifiable causes.

The sense of moral obligation also has difficulties. It is true that great philosophers, such as Hume and Ayer, claim that our moral sense is founded in emotion, rather than in a recognition of good and evil. But a similar inconsistency is present. Emotions, as such, cannot lead to truth. Only the recognition of right and wrong can do that. Yet secularists are often miffed by allegations that they do not accept moral obligation — again cheerfully forgetting that in their appeal to emotion they have removed obligation from the equation.

Do these considerations of free will and moral sense lead us inevitably to the existence of God? No, but they do open important questions. They confront the secularist with the problem that, in accepting only empirical facts, he is omitting the facts of human experience – facts which his own actions and insights clearly display. So we may hope that in exploring the qualities of freedom to act outside material causality and his deep instinct to follow the good and reject the evil, he will edge a step or two nearer to knowing the nature of God. It’s a start.

Aquinas on arguments for the existence of God. http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasfiveways_argumentanalysis.htm
Other arguments. http://www.iep.utm.edu/design/#SH1c
Ontological argument, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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89 Responses to God?

  1. tim says:

    Good stuff. I look forward to the debate. Perhaps we could at the same time look at arguments that God does not, or cannot, exist – which (if valid) will disprove arguments that He does. Advocatus diaboli?

  2. Nektarios says:

    I would like to go into this more deeply.
    What do we mean by experience – be it a mundane experience of having a walk or a cup of coffee,
    or a spiritual experience?
    The question arises who or what is experiencing all these experiences?

  3. overload says:

    We cannot demonstrate the existence of God with reason and discussion; reason and discussion can only be a supporting aid to communication and in coming together (and a good excuse for coming together in His name) — to mark out personal/common structural pathways, or help locate bad (mental) objects/delusions which obscure or pervert our relationship with of God.

    Remember that we come to God through Jesus, not to Jesus through God.

    Martyr means to “give witness”. We are asked to give witness to Jesus. Jesus gave witness to God through live-giving miracles and demonstrating his Godliness, true devotion, and perfect faith and love for us; by displaying the “fruits of the spirit” — and he confirmed and perfected all this with the once-and-for-all witness and sacrifice of the cross. Remember that the cross has two contradictory/paradoxical dimensions: on the one hand Jesus was murdered (which he sought not), and on the other hand he laid down his life of his own fee will.

    So Quentin, I suggest that if you want to demonstrate the existence of God, you are going to have to become a Muslim (“one who submits to God”)… and DO:— live, love and sacrifice.
    Willingly and with the freedom God gives you (in accordance with the circumstances in which you find yourself), take up your daily cross with all your heart and soul, and God will do the demonstration for you and through you.

    Talk alone will not suffice, and can easily become a detestable distraction from reality.

    (Quentin, I pray in respect of all this for you, and also for myself, and all other Christians).

    Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us.

  4. Nektarios says:

    Unfortunately, even within religious circles, and among those that would classify themselves as evangelical, catholic,orthodox Christians and theologians with secular humanism. I along with many others, disdained secular humanism, the worldview that cast aside the core message of the Christian faith in favor of one devoid of Christian values. Why has our society changed?
    The answer is clear – the consensus of our society no longer rests upon a Christian basis, but upon a humanistic one. Humanism is man putting himself at the center of all things, rather than the creator God.” The result, Schaeffer argued, was a society that had lost its moral foundation and threatened to shipwreck itself on the shoals of Western civilization.

  5. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    Quentin has asked me to write a little note or two on the question of the existence of God. And I have to admit that I am stumped. The question: “does God exist?” is an odd one because it has no meaning. What would count as evidence? If such were found what would it look like? Until we have decided that we can get no further.

    What I can do is to suggest why human beings hope, assume, wish that God exists.

    First. Man, alone in the world finding himself the catspaw of fate, victim of unruly nature and hostile circumstances, takes consolation in the thought of some Supreme Force which gives meaning to chaos and he wishfully thinks that his devotion to SF and his sacrifices will earn him favour – whether it is a good harvest or the death of his enemies. SF is his only hope of control. (The modern counterpart is praying to pass an exam or help to defeat Islamic State.)

    Second. If Man is to survive there must be social communities which work together – be they peripatetic tribe or village community. How do its would-be leaders control such a society in primitive times? That’s very easy. You convince them that you have a hotline to the other world. You can communicate the people’s prayers and bring back the SF’s instructions. The promises are great and punishments truly terrible (eternal bliss versus eternal punishments. It still works.)

    Since societies which, however cruel, survive better with some degree of order we would expect evolution to have supported the instinct to accept religious control, mediated through leaders. And this would have been supplemented by the growth of shame – which allows people to be controlled when authority is not watching. (This is a marvelous idea which has been ruthlessly exploited by religions. Birettas off to the Catholic church which is the expert. What a coup to inflate sexual shame of even minimal kinds with one hand, while doing unmentionable things to little boys with the other!)

    Given that we have no evidence of the existence of God, and given that there are more than sufficient reasons for people to imagine that there is a God, to declare that God exists is a gratuitous and empty statement. I am surprised that Quentin is wasting your time by raising the matter.

    • John de Waal says:

      Let us take the opposite argument : that there is no God – and can we prove it?

      If we accept that the existence of God cannot be proved in a rational way – although I would argue belief in God is not unreasonable – what is more reasonable : to argue that everything is the product of a Supreme Being, or the product of chance?

    • Nektarios says:

      AD
      The modern man having moved away from the Christian consensus worldview to
      a humanistic and secular attitude, having no world view is at a loss.
      The humanist and secularist therefore have nothing to say about the Cosmos, or indeed the uniqueness of man, made in the image of God.
      And as such, materialist thinking is reduced to meaninglessness. It would seem your moral sense is a Christian one, and from your vehemence has some place in you?
      You are right, there is only one way to prove the existence of God, and that is to realize He is a personal God….. so get personal with Him, about everything.
      The word God is meaningless, right enough, until one adds `content’, one aspect of which- He is personal.

      • Advocatus Diaboli says:

        It is certainly true that man seeks meaning, and is happier when he achieves a meaning he finds satisfactory. But the believer does this by conceiving of a being which, by his definition, gives ultimate meaning.So he has gratuitously invented meaning. Good luck!, I say.

        Can I prove that God does not exist? it’s a pointless question. If you claim that hobgoblins exist, I fear there is no way that anyone can prove that they don’t. And I won’t bother to investigate the matter until you have produced credible evidence that they do.

  6. Vincent says:

    Ho hum! We don’t seem to be getting anywhere on this one. I think that people who were brought up in a religious way are at a disadvantage here. The idea of God was inculcated from the word go. But perhaps we get a different picture from the angle of a convert from a non-religious background.
    So what are the questions such a person might ask himself? Quentin gives us the first cause argument — and that, in various forms, takes us back to Aristotle. No one in over 2000 years has succeeded in refuting it, So the first question remains: how did it all start?
    The second question is about the meaning of existence — which AD treats too trivially. Observing the widespread, perhaps universal, belief that we search for meaning our instinct is to join that search, and that would prompt the next question: what sort of thing would count as meaning? Clearly the physical alone cannot provide meaning, so the answer must be beyond the physical — literally metaphysical.
    The third question comes from our ability to distinguish between right and wrong. We might well find ways to decide what comes into which category, but we cannot explain the obligation we sense to perform the right and avoid the wrong — even when it is to our disadvantage.
    It is in investigating these questions that we may come to finding a religious answer — because nothing else will serve. When we embrace it the rest follows.

  7. Nektarios says:

    AD
    It is true, many people have invented a deity, some many deities, but like you say they are inventions.
    When the Fall came in, it was catastrophic for man and creation as a whole. For man, it meant he was separated from his Creator, Lord and God, and his mind was darkened,meaning he could not perceive God. So what did man do – he invented a god or gods that addressed his needs and his fears and the issue of death.
    But the True God was not willing to leave man where he could no longer return to his first estate, but came Himself in Person to preach the Good News for mankind, and to redeem him from death
    and return man to his former state, that is in communion with a God who is personal.
    God spoke audibly to the people He came to and said, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased,
    listen to Him.”

    • overload says:

      “return man to his former state”; I think you mean, return to the Garden of Eden. Where does this notion come from? I believe it is not biblical.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Overload
        Perhaps it means the state of our soul which through the Sacraments and Sanctifying Grace we will return to the ‘Garden of Eden’ sinless and live in the friendship of God in his company for eternity.maybe it is called Heaven!

      • Nektarios says:

        overload
        What state was Man in before the Fall? He was in a sinless state, he was in communion with his Creator who came down(note that) who came down in the cool of the day and communed with Adam and Eve. He was sot subject to the elements such as heat and cold, nor was he subject to dying and death.
        What happened when Adam and Eve fell? God no longer came down in the cool of the day to commune with Man, and man was expelled from the Garden of Eden. He became subject to the elements of nature, and he would die. From Adam till now, the wages of sin is death.
        Then the Messiah came, and he came with a message, the Good News of the Gospel.
        What was that message? John 3:16 tells us He that believes on me shall never perish but have everlasting life.
        The price of all that was in the death of Christ, and the fruit of it for us was the Resurrection of Christ from the dead.
        Now for the first time since the Fall of Adam, Man who had ben caught by death and could not return to his former state of communion with God, for the first time man had hope; and through faith in Christ live eternally.
        As to live eternally in the Garden of Eden, no. The reason for that is the Garden of Eden
        is of this world.
        Finally, John 14 tells us what Jesus said. “In my Father’s house there are many mansions,
        if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there you may be also.”
        Then in the last chapter in Gospel of Luke 24:50-51 we read that ‘He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.’
        Now in fulfillment of what Chrst said in John 14, we wait believing the testimony given to us, waiting for Christ’s return.
        So you see, it is biblical is it not?

    • overload says:

      Adam and Eve were not married to God, were they?
      I don’t think Christ calls us to take our clothes off in public.

  8. Geordie says:

    AD
    It was accepted recently by theists and atheists alike that Man is hardwired to seek God. How has this evolved in Man and not in any other creature? And why?

  9. John de Waal says:

    AD. I am not asking you to disprove the existence of God – simply (!) to explain the existence of anything without reference to a Supreme Being. That seems a reasonable challenge.

  10. johnbunting says:

    “Ah, what a dusty answer gets the soul
    When hot for certainties in this our life”
    (George Meredith)

    So the ‘God’ question rumbles on, with demands for convincing evidence flying back and forth.
    What is convincing or credible evidence? Presumably evidence that compels assent, and cannot logically and rationally be dismissed, by anyone who understands it correctly.
    For that to happen, the evidence must be commensurate with the nature of the argument. In this case, the demands for credible evidence usually come from those who want something that is verifiable logically or empirically, as in mathematics or natural science. They want a natural answer to a supernatural question: a physical answer to a metaphysical question. Can’t be done.

    I’d say my belief is based on an accumulation of experience and circumstantial evidence. As such it must accept an element of doubt, and cannot be decisive for anyone else. Bearing that in mind, I do not consider it dishonest to profess my belief. ‘Hier stehe Ich: Ich kann nicht anders’.

  11. St.Joseph says:

    Do we know of anyone raised from the dead or have we heard of anyone raising someone from the dead or healing the blind, Tec
    Wonderful things are happening now for the sick as we heard the other day about the spinal drug.

    Jesus said ‘ you will do even greater things than me. God is working through us in their own capacity and calling. He also said go tell your sins to a priest,He could have forgiven them,however is there a message there.?

  12. St.Joseph says:

    Nektarious.
    I like your post on the 25th October at 10.59

  13. Ignatius says:

    Can’t remember who it was said that God cannot be proved but may only be encountered – but they were pretty close to it. The whole history of man with God is of encounter not ‘proof’ it would seem to me that given human history, to declare against the existence of God is to deny the experience of the larger part of humanity, not a good premise to begin from.

    • tim says:

      I see AD is not up to disproving God – he prefers to assume He doesn’t exist, and then to explain why we imagine He does. Not what we asked for.

      I contend that it is possible to prove the existence of God from reasonable premises. What is not so easy is then to prove the premises.

  14. Alan says:

    Suppose that free will is a quality that we acquire by virtue of some natural process that we don’t understand or know anything about. Not the illusion of free will, but an actual freedom to make choices. The whole (us) perhaps being more than the sum of the parts (the natural origins). How would the expression of that free will look any different than it does now?

    Geordie – “It was accepted recently by theists and atheists alike that Man is hardwired to seek God. How has this evolved in Man and not in any other creature? And why?”

    There have also been some reports about the benefits such beliefs might bring. Benefits that wouldn’t necessarily be dependant on the belief being true. Having said that there might be no “why?”. Evolution can fix traits in species by accident alone. Just so long as those traits aren’t too harmful. We for example, along with some of our closest “cousins”, all share a common genetic flaw that other species don’t.

    • Vincent says:

      If you assume that free will is brought about by some other agency, it would indeed resemble the free will we are discussing. But the problem lies in the fact that we perceive the principle of causality as fundamental to the material world. Thus, if free will exists, it must find its source in the non-material. This does not lead us in one step to the existence of God, but it does tell us that there are realities beyond the material.

      • Alan says:

        I see your point I think Vincent. So every material outcome, including a particular choice, must have a particular material cause?
        I may have to go and stand in the corner with the people Quentin roped off from the outset. If they include anyone willing to consider the possibility, rather than just advocates, I wonder who would be in there. In this assessment of the material world I wonder where I would find the higher proportion of people devoted to studying it.
        Is there a reason people talk about the “material world”? Material makes me think of bricks, cushion covers and matter. That seems rather limited given some of the very oddest qualities that the material world exhibits. Does the natural world not better describe it?

      • overload says:

        I hear recently that the Prof of Biochemistry at Southampton gave him an insight into DNA and it’s relationship to his Christian faith; he said that there was no absolute connection between DNA and faith. The human mind and soul have autonomy through free will, releasing them from a pre-determined response to every stimulus received by the components of their DNA.

        I think we could imagine the cosmic fabric of cause-and-effect as something like an ever (slightly) changing (or at least vibrating) DNA code, which, to exist, must replicate (or: echo/remember) itself on an infinitesimal moment-by-moment basis. It’s stability and continuation is a sustained (desired, clung-to) delusion. God can make more significant temporary (or more permanent) changes to this code which are not (necessarily) dictated/indicated by the code itself. He can also bypass the code altogether — however perhaps even when a complete bypass is made (ie. a miracle of healing where one moment a man is missing an arm and the next moment he has an arm — as opposed to a semi-miraculous healing process such as rapid recovery from terminal cancer), the code is warped/pierced for a split second, so to speak (so the code still has a form of process in the actualisation of the miracle).

        So I can recognise the common sense fact that every intention/thought/(in)action/belief which constitutes “my” (rather: God’s) “free will”, is itself a product of causes and effects which are operative in time and space (and mental space) — however this does not allow me to recognise what the “first cause” is because it already assumes an examination of the proposed for-mentioned code, which is a delusionary construct.

      • Vincent says:

        Alan, this may just be a question of vocabulary. By “material” I am thinking material as opposed to metaphysical or spiritual. The OED gives us “of matter, corporeal”. I would say that the “material“ is in principle detectable by the senses. Example: we understand the word “justice”, but you won’t find justice under a stone because it isn’t material. But no less real for that. But when you kick the stone you stub your toe. The philosophers at Oxford in the 1960s held that the statement of God’s existence was meaningless because there was no empirical evidence which could apply.

        Little note in The Times today which might amuse you and others. A poll taken in London by Ripley’s Believe it or Not found that:

        55% believed in ghosts
        42% in UFOs
        27% in angels
        25% in God
        (I child in 20 believed that their mother was extra-terrestrial)

        I imagine that the percentage of God-believers in a poll of passengers on the Titanic as it went down would have been higher.

      • overload says:

        Vincent, “material“ is in principle detectable by the senses. Example: we understand the word “justice”, but you won’t find justice under a stone because it isn’t material.

        We have mental senses (difficult to locate/describe except emotions), and there is mind space, and there are mental objects (which, like a rock, can obscure other mental objects, of which justice could be one).

      • Vincent says:

        Overload, you are surely right about this. But I shy away from the word ’emotion’ because understand these as ‘feelings’. (Important in their own right but not necessarily leading to truth.) I prefer ‘perception’. I don’t merely feel that causality or free will exist, I perceive them to exist. They are realities in the mind.

      • overload says:

        Vincent.

        Perhaps emotion is a flow of information (like water, clear or deep — or like fire, warm or burning/raging?) which does not necessarily originate in myself. Feelings would I think be some kind of personal/internal response to — and generation of — emotion (note the implied loop).
        Yes I agree that emotion/feelings are a volatile thing. Does not mean that they lead away from truth; on the contrary, it is how one interprets/responds to them with freewill and free-self. Reason and logic seem to me more associated with airiness (and earthiness?). They can also lead away from truth, or for instance paint a picture (abstraction/fabrication) of truth whilst missing the point of what truth really is, and especially what it really is here-and-now.

        Perception and freewill are (semi-)realities, and they are mental objects. And although both can serve in leading to or revealing truth, both are none the less subjective objects, and thus subject to delusion. Freewill is only an absolute and non-delusionary object if we recognise that God and only God is freewill (and that God lives “over all and through all and in all” — Ephesians 4:6). So by being possessed by God, and in turn possessing God (ie. Nektarios mentions “personal relationship” with God; ie. unity with God in Christ), then we can make a claim to “having” freewill that stands up to scrutiny.
        Whilst we have a relationship with God which we can recognise, but know to be imperfect/confused/incomplete/unconfirmed; we therefor must talk in terms of learning obedience to God, slavery (to God and/or to sin), and pre-destination — none of which (except for obedience) give any allowance for the object of freewill as something which is belonging to our (imperfect) selves.

      • Alan says:

        I think of the material world as anything which has an explanation. That’s not to say that I feel Man has an explanation, or that he will ever will. Things other than God might be forever beyond our ken.
        What isn’t then material, given the point of view I have, is something that defies any explanation, by anyone or anything, ever. Even God couldn’t explain it!
        Should I be looking at this differently?

      • overload says:

        Alan, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”

        What/when/where is “the beginning” and how did/does the Word happen to be both God and also with God (therefor separate, and further “He” given the male gender — derived from what?) in the beginning? How did/do all things come to made “through” a word (the Word)?

        As I was trying to talk about in Where’s the Evidence? discussion, the Catholic teaching is that (as per the creed), the Word was begotten (born) of God before all ages (before time). So we have the first discernible/describable thing, which is Christ Himself when he was merely a word, not a man. I think a (ie. only one) word can choose (itself), describe (itself) and command (itself)? This is difficult to think about.

      • overload says:

        Imagine (hypothetically) if the Word was/is analogous with a human word like “finished” (Jesus’ last word on the cross if I remember correctly).
        If this is how He began — ‘finished’ yet full of life, one can imagine a bit of an identity crisis!

      • overload says:

        “Imagine (hypothetically)”, I mean hyppathetically.
        Or maybe “finished” (“already done it!”) was/is the perfect blessing (word) to bestow on all that has begun — all He was/is-yet to freely begin.

      • Vincent says:

        “Should I be looking at this differently?” Yes, I think so. It depends on the kind of explanation you are prepared to accept. The first is an empirical explanation which can be verified or falsified according to the evidence. Thus the presence of a stone on the ground can be verified by our five senses. The second is a priori. It applies to those things which can rationally be held to be true without the evidence of the senses. This might include such things as the principle of non-contradiction, or causality, or the need and duty of justice. You, I imagine, would hold such things to be true – yet you cannot prove them, as you can prove the stone. God doesn’t need to prove them because, by definition, he is the source of all reality.

        Interestingly, it is a truism of philosophy that even the stone cannot ultimately be proved. There is no way of demonstrating that the stone in itself corresponds to the picture which our mind has constructed from the response of our senses. Thus to be true to your principle that the material world requires explanation you would have to conclude that the material world must be discounted too.

      • Alan says:

        Vincent, Perhaps I shouldn’t have switched to the term material world and should instead have stuck with natural. I meant to include explanations that were rationally held as well as those that offer empirical evidence. Where any such explanation is possible (even if it is forever beyond our reach) that is something I would consider part of the natural world. The distinction being “is there an explanation” rather than “can I imagine or do I perceive one”. Is that perhaps the wrong way to look at things?
        Having said that I’m not sure about any of the examples you offer. I’ve read a few things that might call at least a couple of such perceived principles into question.

    • Quentin says:

      Do you know, I think that Alan and Vincent are unlikely to end up in agreement. They are debating an issue which is key in philosophy, and involved two of the greatest names in Western philosophy — Hume and Kant. It concerned the difficulty of demonstrating the truth of propositions which were not, by their nature, open to empirical verification. (Very) roughly, Alan is coming from Hume’s position, and Vincent from Kant’s.

      By chance, Bryan Magee (an authoritative commentator on philosophy) used the example of free will as a truth which is known subjectively but cannot be verified empirically to demonstrate Kant’s major point.

  15. Alan says:

    I would not deny that the experiences people have are real, but I do have doubts about the value of experience. I think that many people are much more confident about the reliability of personal experience than I am. To the point where some would deny otherwise quite compelling evidence I feel. On an individual basis I think that we often question the personal experiences of others. I have been not 15 feet from an incident where myself and someone else witnessed an entirely different event.
    But what if those experiences are shared by many or all of us? Does that make them more reliable? Not always at least. Historically there are examples of shared experiences that have hindered our discovery of the truth rather than helped it.
    I find myself left with questions about the material world on one hand (questions that some others seem to dismiss rather easily with some variant of “the material world can’t explain this ….”) and an omnipotent, omniscient, supernatural answer on the other hand that can serve as the solution to absolutely any problem. I find I am more comfortable with the former.

    • Vincent says:

      Yes, one well evidenced characteristic of religion is that it can, for many people, answer the question about the meaning of life. The advantage it gives in terms of peace of mind, purpose etc is certainly enough to allow a plausible evolutionary explanation. But the fact remains that I, and perhaps you, find it important to identify that meaning. So, whatever its origins may be, I have to ask myself what criteria would such a meaning have to fulfill. Here I am immediately clear about what it can’t be. It certainly can’t be found in a universe which is responsible for its own origin, and which has developed simply in terms of the interplay of material factors which change according to chance. There is no source of meaning here.

      • Nektarios says:

        Vincent
        You are absolutely right.
        When man puts himself at the centre rather than God the Creator, the Cosmos in which
        he inhabits becomes meaningless. The universe is reduced to matter, plus energy that has been here forever, and formed only by chance.
        But do you also see, that if we are part of the Cosmos, following the humanistic/secular agenda, man also loses meaning of who he is, what he is?
        As for meaning, all through the Word of God, – He is not silent but speaks concerning the universe, ourselves, our relationship to Him ….. and something we are fast losing,
        relationship one to another especially throughout the Christian world. The truth is that we had inbibed so much humanistic/secular philosophy which has no worldview at all
        and they have sought to silence God… how daft can they get, how dangerous yet having no meaning.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Quentin.
      I am not too sure when you say the Nature of God. To meHe is an all Loving Spirit beyond time and through eternity, which perhaps is our destiny for all eternity.We can maybe become like Him but not Him.
      Nektarious explained a lot in his post quite accurately.
      Where would we be without history, if no one wrote ”anything”down, we could be compared to the animal kingdon or prehistoric man.
      We have it all in the New Testament .
      I may be off track here to what your post is looking for, but I feel the only message we can give to non-believers is the Word of God!

  16. Zara says:

    Not sure about bringing up the ontological argument, Tomas Aquinas slapped that one down pretty hard. In my mind some of the best evidence we have of God’s existence is our own existence. The mere fact that atoms can exist is vastly unlikely, that planets exist, even more so, that life could arise from nothing, infinitesimally improbable even on its own (even a few atheist scientists admit you could burn the universe out a dozen times without this happening on its own), that some of that life might become more intelligent than it needs to be for day-to-day survival, let alone smart enough to invent computers, fly in space, and other things, staggeringly close to impossible. Honestly, atheism’s main faith is in a level of fluke luck so total and so extreme that it makes God about the only real explanation for the universe we have. To explain God would to explain everything. And maybe vise-versa.

  17. Nektarios says:

    Let’s consider the areas of metaphysics, moral, and epistemology. The metaphysical need for the existence of God implies that there must be something or someone who is big enough, powerful enough, wise enough, and willing enough to create and maintain the universe we live in. If these requirements are not met, then man is forced to admit that he is here by chance occurrence and has no special destiny.{10}

    The moral necessity of God’s existence centers on man as a personal being and a being who distinguishes between right and wrong. There are only two options. Either man was created from an impersonal beginning and his moral system is a product of his culture, or man had a personal beginning and was given laws to follow and an internal sense of right and wrong.{11} The moral necessity of God is founded on the philosophical need to account for why man is both cruel and wonderful at the same time. This can only be explained in terms of the biblical account of the Fall.

    The epistemological necessity of God’s existence addresses our ability to know what is ultimately real. Much of the modern problem in the area of knowledge began in the seventeenth century. As the scientific revolution developed, the criteria for truth became that which could be demonstrated in a laboratory. The result was that belief in God and the miraculous, which cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory, came into doubt and were eventually dismissed by many. The final result was pessimism regarding theological truths and, more recently, any truth at all. We have all encountered the individual who asks, “How do you know that?” And often this question is repeated for every subsequent answer.

    The only answer to these three dilemmas is an appeal to the God who is there, and to His natural and special revelation. The basis of Christianity is the belief that God is there and that man can communicate with Him. If this is not true, then we are without a foundation.

  18. Nektarios says:

    Ps. As a young Christian I read through all this above and found the truth of it.late 60/70s
    I can take no credit for the above as it is the labours of the late Dr. Francis Shaeffer.

  19. Ignatius says:

    “..I would not deny that the experiences people have are real, but I do have doubts about the value of experience. I think that many people are much more confident about the reliability of personal experience than I am. To the point where some would deny otherwise quite compelling evidence I feel. On an individual basis I think that we often question the personal experiences of others. I have been not 15 feet from an incident where myself and someone else witnessed an entirely different event…”

    Around 40 years ago I was living what might be termed an itinerant life. Working on a farm in Wisbech I found myself picking strawberries in a field full of Algerians….not sure if they were students or just fellow wanderers . One of the young men in the row next to me stood up to stretch his weary back, grinned at me and said:
    “Allah Akbar…God is great!”
    I think that was the first utterance I had ever heard from the mouth of a formally religious person and I knew he meant it…

    The thing that astonishes me about this kind of discussion is how little store is placed by the personal experience of individuals summed up many millionfold…as if all those hours/ weeks/years/decades of individual praying, worshipping, doubting, loving, studying , singing, trying , failing and yet believing despite oneself count for nothing; as if human beings are simple automatons not one among them able to question the validity of their own experience. It is almost as if the lived, struggled over, delighted in, slogged through, fought over and died for religious experience of millions upon millions upon countless millions of human beings, over thousands and thousands of years, is reducible to simple verbal trickery such as:
    “,,But the believer does this by conceiving of a being which, by his definition, gives ultimate meaning. So he has gratuitously invented meaning. Good luck!, I say….”
    Nuts actually.

  20. St.Joseph says:

    Entrance Psalm. Ps.62 Catholic doors Ministry.

    .
    A SOUL THIRSTING FOR GOD.

    Oh God,you are my God, for you I long + for you my soul is
    thirsting.
    My body pines for you + like a dry weary land without water.
    So I gaze on you in the sanctuary + to see your strength and
    your glory.

    For your love is better than life,+ my lips will speak
    your praise.
    So I will bless you all my life+in your name I will lift up my hands.
    My soul shall be filled as a banquet,+my mouth shall
    praise you with joy.

    On my bed I remember you.
    On you I muse through the night,
    for you have been my help;+
    in the shadow of my wings I rejoice.
    My soul clings to you;+your right hand holds me fast.

    Also Corinthians 1-v2-16.

    Ignatius and overload.

  21. Nektarios says:

    I see we have a problem when we come to God, just how to describe Him. We can’t.
    We are not perfect in this world, but we can know many things about God. The most immediate for us is that God is PERSONAL. This means the possibility of relationship that is to relate to Him.
    It means because He loves us, we in turn love Him.
    Just as an aside, one cannot know God out of memory – He does not dwell there, only in the present.
    I would also mention in passing, that experience is memory, the past, that which is old. Experiencing, on the other-hand is always in the now or present – do you see the difference?
    So when it comes to our dealing with God or knowing Him in relationship through His Word, then it is in the present and one is at the threshhold of the Eternal. He will welcome you.
    AD by his arguments, is claiming to be humanistic, secular, marterialist, mechanistic and many there be today just like that. However they have no answer to the Cosmos or the uniquieness of man made in the image of God.
    AD also fails to understand something rather basic, if we knew everything about God, we would be gods, but we are not – well, not yet.
    King David was looking forward to Christ’s coming…. ah these OT worthies, in all their human frailties and weaknesses knew God in the present in their own lives and acted upon it.
    We should fair even better, because we are Post-Resurrection of Christ and have received more than they.Have we?

    • overload says:

      Nektarios, both Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha have equality with God. Angels do not share this. We are offered this equality by dying and born again in Jesus (thus we become slaves to Christ’s true freewill, set free of delusionary freewill), however this equality is (or should be if we are truly believing baptised) fully available to us by the sacrifice, power and finality of the cross, yet we have not yet given ourselves to be fully (or at all) available to it; and we must stand firm (if we are still asleep in bed, or paralysed in bed awake, we have a problem), that we don’t forget who we are now (am I a new creation in Christ — or who this world and my instincts/delusions of self tell me I am?).
      Jesus was born fully God, yet humanly speaking he was still ignorant, humanly he was not confirmed and perfected as fully God until he died on the cross. Buddha was made (through The Word) fully God, the reality which the man — (ex-)prince Gautama — sought and “awakened” to perfectly while still humanly alive. He awakened to equality with God sat alive under a living tree; Jesus (in his/our humanity) confirmed equality dying nailed to a dead tree.

      What do you make of this from the Pali cannon?:
      Some are born in the human womb, evildoers in hell, those on the good course go to heaven, while those without effluent: totally unbound.

      • overload says:

        I said, “the cross, yet we have not yet given ourselves to be fully (or at all) available to it”
        I mean, we will have to give ourselves fully; the problem now is the opposite: that we have made ourselves to be not available to Him.

      • St.Joseph says:

        overload.
        Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You will then understand the Trinity!

  22. Nektarios says:

    overload
    I am not quite sure what you are driving at here? It is somewhat unclear to me.
    Buddhism is not Christianity.
    The Buddha is not equal to God. Buddha never claimed to be God.
    Apart from Christ Jesus, there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved.
    In Buddhism there is no such a one as God. There is the Supreme Being, and that being
    is totally impersonal, unknown. It is impossible in Buddhism to have a personal relationship
    with God.
    This is directly oposed to the revelation given in the Word of God – He is personal &c.

    While Buddhism is all very interesting, and I have studied it to a degree,
    please don’t believe they are speaking about the same things, they are not. Buddhism is not the Church that Christ began.
    Buddha did not die for our sins, nor was he resurrected from the dead. Buddha, unlike
    God is not a life giving Spirit. Buddhism has no Gospel of Salvation from God.

    Finally, it will not be Buddha who will return to judge the living and the dead, but Christ Jesus.
    I don’t want for the sake of the readers to go into an further this esoteric views you have on Buddhism.

    • overload says:

      “I don’t want for the sake of the readers” — am I in danger of corrupting pure faith and blaspheming against The Trinity?

      I see that my comparison is ambiguous and likely to be confusing at best. So putting Buddhism to one side, and assuming that, as you say, “Buddhism is not the Church that Christ began”, and that the (or a) Buddha (The Awakened One) is NOT equal to God…

      Now there is still the question of who is Melchizedek? (Hebrews 5&7) Whilst there is no mention in Holy Scripture that Melchizedek is mankind’s salvation, nor is he the reconciliation of all creation; none the less he is a man, king and high priest who is, it is clearly said — “made like unto the Son” — equal to God. (Note “made” — or in other translations, “resembling” — so he is not begotten of God; he is not the Son. And yet he has no beginning or end! Mystery.)

      Do we hold that the Christ’s Church was initiated/conceived at the time of Abraham? If so, we can read in Hebrews that the Church did not begin with Abraham but with Melchizedek, who subsumed Abraham under his own authority — yet without bringing Abraham inside the walls of Salem. The Eucharist (as the gift of bread and wine, Genesis 14:18) was apparently prefigured at this conception, suggesting (to me) that Melchizedek was, in foreknowledge of The Incarnation and Crucifixion, permitting his own kingship to be superseded (not ended, but superseded) by Christ Jesus in the New Creation.

      • Nektarios says:

        overload
        Melchizekdek? Your idea is not quite right. Yes, Melchizekdek was both a king and a priest.
        He appears suddenly in Scripture, and disappears just as quickly. Melchizekdek, it would appear was a Theophany, an appearance of God. I would not be tempted to go further.

  23. ignatius says:

    ” am I in danger of corrupting pure faith and blaspheming against The Trinity?”

    No, its more the boredom factor I would worry about if I were you! I am curious to know why you seem to want to re invent the wheel all the time by chucking small fragments of scripture around and building obscure theories and doctrines from them.

  24. overload says:

    Ignatius, “you seem to want to re re invent the wheel all the time”
    What wheel are we talking about here; is it meant to turn, and is it turning?
    The cross of Christ is fixed, it doesn’t turn like a swastika.

    • overload says:

      “The cross of Christ is fixed, it doesn’t turn like a swastika.”
      unless its upside-down, which is fine if it is the cross of Peter, but don’t confuse that with the cross of Christ!

  25. overload says:

    Christian Catholic dogma makes it quite clear that the home of God within you/me is in the Heart, not the mind. That does not exclude mind or mental constructs, but does not rest in the “rational” thinking, calculating, analysing, structural mind. We cannot Know or explain God but with and through God, and this Knowledge is humanly speaking seated in — and outpouring from — the Heart. The Heart does not literally refer to the physical organ, but rather to our human and emotionally grounded center (which embraces mind), and the natural seat of Spirit — (eternal) life within us.

    The problem of understanding this originally lies in the fact that the Roman Catholic Church to some extent — and in some respects for (at best) dubious reasons — attempted to “rationally” fix (set in stone) its own teachings as Law, which in truth are only secondarily “rational” fixed things, and are foremost emotionally/ experientially/ livingly/ faithfully grounded. (This is along the lines of Christ’s law given in the New Testament, which is not afraid to seemingly contradict itself again and again to the mind of human reasoning.)

    So I see the Heart of Catholic doctrine was over the centuries reduced (generally speaking) to triviality, meaninglessness and heavy burden, lawfully imposed; and thus broadly speaking, common sense and natural investigation were outlawed. Hence Newton — natural (scientific, explorative) common sense — and the “enlightenment” was a natural process of re-examination and escaping oppression; unfortunately this “age of reason” immediately sought to self-righteously divorce itself from the Church, Dogma, and Reason.

    Because of a rigid obstruction of the Heart in the established Church, the Catholic Heart escaped to a simplified, wholesomely emotional, stable dogmatic abstraction/extraction exemplified by Mariology. Yet Mariology also exemplifies what is wrong: for instance, Mary is in some respects presented dogmatically by the RCC for self-righteous justification.

    But even if what I just said and am still saying does give some kind of “explanation”, it is not in itself any kind of explanation. “God is Love”, and truth explains itself “in Love”. What is Love? It is not (an) emotion, though it can — though not necessarily — be described/ communicated/ expressed — or perverted — emotionally, and even more so, energetically, and such a process is in one way or another likely to be described/ guided/ opened up/ structurally strengthened — or perverted — with human reason — rationally.

  26. St.Joseph says:

    overload.
    I am not too sure what you are trying to say.
    Is it that we should go by our heart regardless of RC teaching?

  27. Ignatius says:

    I think its more that overload is explaining his penchant for digging around at the margins….ok its clearer now!

    • Nektarios says:

      Do you think that so many these days are digging around at the margins?
      What do we mean by margins?
      Our explanations of things are not sufficient. As long as so many it would appear, have put themselves at the centre of all things, such can only live on the margin, the peripheral of life, trusting in there own views and opinions rather than God’s plan and explanations about Himself, but ourselves, our relationship to Him and to each other. Yes, humanism and secularism which has infiltrated the Church reduces man to a machine like creature
      an automaton to respond on cue rather than the wonderful creature he/she is, made in the image of God with all the potential that means.
      It is not the Church that is our Lord, but Christ. It is not the arguments we use that save us,
      but Christ. Until we as Christians make Christ Lord and Saviour in our life, centre of our
      life, relating to Him and each other accordingly, are we not just living on the margins of our existence where there is little or no meaning to anything?

  28. overload says:

    Nektarios, thanks for not being an automaton. I’m not sure how easy I’m finding that myself — harness the automaton or strangle it?

    St.Joseph, you ask should we “go by our heart regardless of RC teaching?”
    This is dangerous unless we know (or if we are anxious about offending God — trust) that what is in our heart comes from God. This is what Martin Luther did by breaking away from the RCC, and (I believe) God decreed it; problem though is that it was also schismatic (so it was not a question of black or white, or rather it was black and white), and the subsequent advent of self-righteousness on Luther’s behalf seems to have undermined the initial integrity of his search for justice and God’s grace (ie. in what he first brought into the light with the 95 thesis).

    We have a desperate situation where the RCC makes claims to supremacy and infallibility yet at the same time many Christians do not agree/accept this. And same with many Catholics, only they are aclimatised to hopeless jovial cynicism, or indifference. And there are lots of questions about matters of “faith and morals” in the RCC — even if all the teaching IS “infallible” (I do not see how this can be true), we still have the problem that people are being taught to guiltily struggle to obey Natural Law (which is surely impossible but with grace) and Catholic doctrine (ie. eternal life in The-Eucharist-reduced-to-superficial-ritual-with-Aquinas-gloss) as if these things in themselves (without faith, grace and mercy, sacrifice and love, in His name) are salvation, which clearly is not so.
    And yet, with all this perpetual shame and guilt and obligation, we find ourselves as sinners in a Church of sinners (thus leading one another, and others, into sin, and keeping one another in sin), as if this is acceptable, (yes, God is patient and merciful, but we must not test God), while scripture clearly attests that, as 1 John 5:18 says — “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”

    There is so much hypocrisy in the Church and Church teaching, I think it is in some ways a blessing to have a pope like Frances, otherwise non-Catholics and non-Christians seeking truth would more likely have no time for — or trust in — the RCC, as I myself did not some years ago. Having said that, Francis is not going to redeem the Church at all easily, and certainly not on his own (to my mind he doesn’t seem to comprehend the depth or reality of the situation). Perhaps (almost certainly, I think) the RCC is substantially irredeemable and we just have to make the best of it (ie. like protective chaff, brightly coloured to flag the seed inside) while this world lasts… God knows.

    I search for Christ in myself and to give myself to Him as He has for me (ie. totally); and in the world and in respect of others, I search for Mary (Mary mother x magdalene — hybrid): the One True Church (Christ’s Kingdom in our midst). So I believe that if I am truly married to Christ I am also married to all others who are truly found in Him.

    • St.Joseph says:

      overload.
      Thank you.
      It would be most helpful to me if I were to know what the RC teaches that you dont agree with?
      I would know then what the difficulties are that concern you.
      The Doctrine or Authority. and of which subjects you find you are unable to accept.|

    • St.Joseph says:

      overload, I asked you that question,it was not was I was suggesting!
      ‘should we go by our heart regardless of RC teaching?

      • overload says:

        Even though it is not in Holy Scripture, I am willing to believe that Mary was assumed into heaven. My heart wants to believe it, though not so much my mind: the doctrine (when I read it) seemed confused in parts, which I find frustrating / agitating, and it seems to be an obstacle in relation to unity with other Christians. Perhaps not?
        Most importantly, I think the doctrine of the assumption speaks to us of the ‘rapture’, which, according to Holy Scripture, is apparently when Christ’s bride (the Church, our mother) will be taken ‘up’ to heaven.

  29. overload says:

    St.Joseph

    I have already mentioned in recent discussions in reference to Holy Scripture, about the burden of obligation/sin in respect of friday fasting and abstainance, and about “holy days”. These are small concerns? I think of the saying “the devil is in the detail”. Are we looking at a house of cards?
    Minor faults like this are indicative to me of the spirit of the RCC’s teaching, which is warped; the Church is afraid of — or simply casually avoiding — the “burden” (freedom actually) of the cross.

    One of the most memorably sayings I have heard from Pope Francis was something along these lines:
    “We must not be afraid to get spiritually dirty, God cleans everything.”
    I do see a danger if one was to be complacent with this mentality. However this is I feel one of the great things about Francis, this approach to faith which is very unlike the cold rigidity of Catholic doctrine. If we have this kind of mentality — not wanting to get spiritually dirty but not afraid to do so (specifically in difficult situations where we can love our neighbour who is in need, or for instance in working together to build common unity of true peace between Christians) — then we are far more humble than, for instance, someone who abstains from masturbation (when awake) for years whilst daily idolatrising about food and/or committing adultery/fornication with food. Or someone who only ever takes the sacrament on the tongue, yet who’s tongue has learnt to be more complacent, casual and possessive than a hand is likely to be able to be (in our days). My point being that we are nearly all of us steeped in sin in one way or another. (The temptation is to compensate and appease our consciences, and/or to proudly possess superficial/false humility/holiness.)
    We are shown by the RCC its dish; filthy on the inside, but sparkling clean on the outside. And we are told: “go forth, make your dish clean on the inside like the outside of this one.”

    Thinking of something that is particularly bothering me right now… what I feel I would find devastating is the possibility that if I (putting myself in the shoes of another), as a compassionate Catholic midwife, who sincerely seeks to proclaim the sanctity of life, might be closed off from sharing Christ’s life giving love because of a fearful rigid obsessive automaton observance of Catholic doctrine. My employers expect me in some way or another to get involved in an abortion procedure. I imagine a child who is destined to be aborted (regardless of my actions), and the child’s mother. My greatest concern in respect of proclaiming/protecting life in this situation is the spiritual life of both mother and child, and considering if an active hands-on concern on my behalf is in keeping with God’s will. Yet if I in my heart have this compassionate awareness and capacity to practically and prayerfully share the gospel in this situation, but cannot even consider the possibility of coming into contact with either mother or child on the basis that I would (or might) then be complicit in murder, then there is (perhaps) a more tragic abortion taking place, whether I consciously realise it or not.

    What do you think and what would you do?

    The case above (relating to a real one) is to me indicative of a more general one for the Church at large: does the RCC seek first to cling to and protect its own image and identity (believing this to be THE battleground against “the gates of hades”) — or to self-sacrificially express and share faith and proclaim mercy in love of Jesus, and work for healing, reconciliation and unity of the ill and bitterly fractured Christian Churches. I am confident that Francis would choose the latter (if he is allowed to), but there needs to be a full and accurate diagnosis and comprehension of the situation, I believe — and embracing a full, free and rigorous exploration of the Holy Scriptures (not just the 4 “gospels”; even the Book of Revelation is “good news” if we believe; and it is bad news if we succumb to fear of it) is essential in this process. — “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” — “I” is Jesus, and “I” is Holy Spirit, so all Holy Scripture is equal, although NT is more equal than OT.

    • St.Joseph says:

      overload.
      You have free will.Just look after your own soul Then you will have peace of mind!!..
      In all your conflict you are missing the beauty of The Lord.And not living the real Faith.
      Maybe God is testing you. Folllow Him and leave all your confusion behind.
      Leave it to Him , He knows what He is doing. Pray often!
      I mean that kindly.

    • overload says:

      If anyone is offended by what I said (sorry about the wording): “someone who only ever takes the sacrament on the tongue, yet who’s tongue has learnt to be more complacent, casual and possessive than a hand is likely to be able to be (in our days).”

      Please understand: I am not in any way suggesting that all people who only take the host on the tongue are “complacent, casual and possessive” by doing so; rather that there may be a significant propensity to adopt this mentality.

  30. Alasdair says:

    Imagine you were observing the universe for the first time, with your faculties and intellect fully developed, never having heard or read anyone else’s view on the matter. I believe that, in time, you would arrive at one of the following 3 conclusions:
    Conclusion 1: The universe has always existed more or less as we observe it today. (This is the steady-state model supported by many scientists, including Einstein, Hoyle & co, prior to Fr George Lemaitre’s Big Bang theory. It has few, if any supporters today).
    Conclusion 2: The universe was created at some time in the past, more or less as we see it today, probably by some powerful superintellect or god. (Young Earth Creationism).
    Conclusion 3: The universe was created at some time in the remote past, in some primordial state, by some powerful superintellect or god who also established principals and processes, which can be observed and measured. These processes resulted in the discernibly ordered and amenable state we see today. (Intelligent Design or Old Earth Creationism). This conclusion is the option which most Christians, especially Catholics (since St Augustine De Genesis ad Litteram, and later St Anselm) would identify with, even if they would prefer to avoid these labels. Both 2 and 3 are versions of the God Hypothesis.
    One’s intelligent but untutored self would be very unlikely to come to the following conclusion:
    Conclusion 4: The universe simply popped unannounced into existence, and then, by an extraordinary unbroken series of purely random, astronomically unlikely accidents, it became highly ordered and amenable.
    The extreme unlikeliness of this scenario is explained away by the idea of a “multiverse” within which every possible combination of everything is not only possible, but inevitable – except that is, the possibility of God existing, apparently. Attempts to play this trump card at every opportunity eg by Prof Brian Cox, has been dubbed “the Multiverse of the Gaps”.

    • overload says:

      On the topic of multiverses and infinite possibility.
      I am wondering about certain heavenly beings (angels / ‘devas’ / radiant or celestial beings) — might these correspond to individual stars in the universe? The bible mentions the heavenly scene “the voice of many angels . . . and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11)
      We have our own Galaxy with millions of stars. Now we have billions of Galaxies, which is a lot of stars! Why not multiverses as well?
      Maybe each galaxy is the same thing but from a slightly different perspective — and they cannot meet each other. Each galaxy could have its own Jesus and perhaps its own me and you, and all the Galaxies will spontaniously come to the End of Time at the same moment, at which point the whole of this universe, and all other universes interdependent with this one, will “melt under the heat”? I don’t think this idea is very viable, it is merely off the top of my head. None the less, the vastness of this material universe is somewhat mind boggling. And yet in terms of age (at least, relative to space and quantity), it is a short affair — our earth is not that much younger than the universe itself.

    • Alan says:

      Alasdair – “Attempts to play this trump card at every opportunity eg by Prof Brian Cox, has been dubbed “the Multiverse of the Gaps”.”

      I hadn’t heard of the idea of a multiverse being dubbed “the multiverse of the gaps” but I quite like the expression. It recognises, although in your examples only for the alternative you think has little merit, that it is indeed a gap in our knowledge we are trying to fill. It’s exactly the same gap when the other answers are being considered.
      Imagining that the creation of everything we see around us is similar to the way in which we, through experience, create things is very likely a popular conclusion at first. Just as it was once apparent that individual species were created independently and that the world was flat, because this are what our limited knowledge and experience would have been telling us.
      That isn’t to say that such instinctive ideas are going to be wrong of course. But they certainly don’t look to be reliable. And there is quite a difference in how the natural and divine alternatives are treated I feel. One is an natural that is proposed because there are a few scientific theories that suggest that possibility, and it is an idea which some scientists are trying to find ways to investigate. They are looking for ways to provide supporting evidence. Different too is the level of confidence in this proposal. I doubt that many physicists would put much money on the hypothesis at this stage. On the other hand we have a supernatural alternative. The confidence with which this belief is held and taught is off the charts by comparison. It is promoted as being true with a capital T in many, many instances. Yet it is the same gap being filled. As was said elsewhere, a multiverse that is indifferent to our existence doesn’t have a great deal of appeal. It doesn’t come with anything like the same emotional investment. There are few benefits. Nor is it anything like as intuitive. But these things make ideas popular, not right.
      It’s perhaps worth noting that even without this current guess at a natural explanation the alternative gains no weight of evidence whatsoever.

    • Quentin says:

      “The Final Frontier? A horizon Guide to the Universe” BBC4 26 Nov. Link to replay = http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00yjn1x

      This is an overview of the history of the scientific understanding of the universe. The last fifteen minutes or so discusses in some detail the question of something emerging out of nothing. Indeed, this turns out to be the final frontier. Well worth watching.

  31. overload says:

    Buddhist doctrine proposes various ‘planes of existence’. The immaterial planes of existence are perhaps an interesting proposition for this discussion. The inhabitants of these planes are said to have no body (only mind), so “cannot hear the Buddha’s teachings” (ie. the ‘Dharma’). So also therefore presumably they cannot recognise Christ as Lord of the universe?
    Immaterial planes are said to be:
    28) Infinite Space
    29) Infinite Consciousness
    30) Nothingness
    31) Neither-perception-nor-non-perception
    To the Buddhist meditator these are the 5th – 8th jhanas (meditative absorptions), however the meditator can apparently go one further: The Cessation of Perception and Feeling (the 9th jhana). This is said to be profound peace, however even this is not in itself ‘nirvana’ — not final peace — not ‘God’.

    • St.Joseph says:

      overload.
      Have you ever thought about the appearances of Our Blessed Mother. She Assumed into Heaven body and soul like Our Lord’
      Much more interesting than space images.
      God asked Job ‘where were you when I made the Stars etc.?
      Jesus gave us His Mother on the Cross ,She is a part of Salvation History, far more interesting than space travel and Star Wars which will only end in the same way as planet earth.
      It is sad that there are people and children dying from the lack of water and we are looking at the stars…….

      • overload says:

        “It is sad that there are people and children dying from the lack of water and we are looking at the stars…….” — I agree.
        Star Wars… that was part of my young childhood food, my ‘moral instruction’, along with superman, etc. — the death of Obi Wan Kenobi, who passively let himself be killed by Darth Vader in a light sabre fight, I remember disturbing me. Actually, lots of details in such films (I’m thinking now of Han Solo frozen in carbonite, I can remember how that felt to my imagination) were hyper spiritually suggestive to me of what I had no idea what; very deep. I think generally, these ‘moral’ fictional fantasies do not do much or any good, they do not inspire “faith hope love”, however much they might ignite the imagination.

      • overload says:

        St Joseph.
        Sorry about the evasion.

        I once read this about an interview with the Dalai Lama, which struck me:
        “Whenever he sees an image of Mary carrying the infant Jesus he has a strong sense of maternal affection, which is something with universal impact. Images of Jesus on the cross and the skeletal fasting of the Buddha have deep meaning and significance, but lack the universal appeal that the conventional figure of the Buddha shares with Mary and child.”

        So perhaps Jesus is our Brother, our Father, our Mother, and our true self (Holy Spirit)? I find this confusing in view of the Trinity.

      • overload says:

        Seriously though, about Star Wars (and pop culture), at least that was a bit original, and the first one was even made on a small budget — money was conceivably not the object. Children (especially) nowadays have junk-food-movies and video games and mobile phones and face books on overload tap, it is terrifying the part money has in consumerism (food as well) and leisure and fashion and music; the effects are disordered at best and there are spiritual forces (ie. witchcraft, and demons) at work in blatant and very subtle ways.

      • St.Joseph says:

        overload.
        You are so right Saten comes in many disguises.

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