Monday, October 15, 2012

Who Created That Particle? Day 5 of 31 Days of Falling by Faith

"No matter what science unveils, God will always be a possibility. Even if they find proof of how human life evolved, to the first basic particle, there is always the question of who created that particle. Even if we find the origins of the universe, there will always be the question of 'why'? The only answer is God......and God is just a word, but it will always be possible for believers to believe that whatever happened at the beginning of time, something we can never understand is what, or who, is behind it. Therein lies the possibility of 'God.' And I can't call myself a 'believer,' just a logical thinker."
—"Joyce" commenting at CNN's religion blog

I read this delightful comment not long after reading the following sentences from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which many Catholics are adding to their daily reading during the "Year of Faith" that began this past Thursday: "The Church . . . holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." This teaching comes from scripture. For example, in Wisdom 13:1-5 we find the following:
"From the good things seen [they] did not succeed in knowing the one who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan; instead, either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods. Now, if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them. Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them realize from these things how much more powerful is the one who made them. For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen."
The New Testament's most prolific letter-writer, St. Paul, a Jew by birth and upbringing, echoed the Book of Wisdom when he told the Athenians at the Areopagus,
"I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, 'To an Unknown God.' What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it . . . is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’ as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.'" [Acts 17:22-28]
The Book of Wisdom, St. Paul, and the Catholic Catechism all also agree that "there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty," and that we "easily persuade [our]selves that what [we] would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful. This is why," the Catechism continues, "man stands in need of being enlightened by God's revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error."

If indeed "man stands in need of being enlightened by God's revelation," then where do we find it? The answer offered by the Christian scriptures are these verses written by St. Paul at the beginning of his Letter to the Hebrews: "In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe." Accepting this answer is the first step in the process of coming to understand "who created that particle" and why.

As St. Paul continued speaking to the Athenians, "some began to scoff, but others said, 'We should like to hear you on this some other time.'" Later, "some did join him, and became believers." Two thousand years later, the teaching modeled by St. Paul and the Apostles continues, and so do both the scoffing and the conversions. I am grateful to be among the latter.


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