29 October 2009

The Sky is God's Billboard, Saying "I love you!"

Now and then, in films and television, a sentence slips out which reveals the writer(s)’ faith-or lack thereof. This is a distracting, and sometimes troubling aspect.

On one level I wonder about the gratuitous “unbelief” – the assumption is made that no educated and intelligent human being would believe in a god he couldn’t see (as if it would make more sense to believe in one you could see?). I wonder about it because it seems like a case of “thou doest protest too much” – is the Irresistible Lover of Man’s Soul so hounding the writer that he has to regularly announce his position to the world and to He-Who-Does-Not-Exist?

It’s distracting for two reasons: one, it’s frustrating because he’s opened up what should be a dialogue, and there is no avenue for a response from the listener. In my most recent exposure to “Faithless Flasher,” the other actor’s response was silent consent. Secondly, I forget the storyline and think, about the many people who hear those throw-away lines, about how often in my lifetime I have heard it.

It really gets me thinking when I consider the writer who penned those lines: what is his/her life like at the moment, what propelled him to insert these vague and unnecessary lines.
The most recent lines heard went like this, “Look at these believers. (digust) The definition of schizophrenic is to believe in something you can’t see.”
Of course, that is not the “definition” of schizophrenia. If it were, most of humanity would be defined as schizophrenics—add to that all of the past ages of humanity, as well. That statement bothered me because it is not only untrue, but it also is a reaction and not a thoughtful statement. Schizophrenia is a mental illness which puts someone outside the “norm” – the standard for “norm” being that which is acceptable to most people. For most people on earth, believing in God or a god(s) is “normal.”
Then came the character's next theological mis-statement: “God can’t exist because I can’t see Him. What is real is stuff like science, stuff you can see.
This is a philosophically problematic. If “stuff you can see” is “believable” then what about things in time (the future)? Will there be no future because it is comprised of “stuff you can’t see?” Or theories? What about theories such as probability- many theories we used to make “stuff you can see.” It’s a ludicrous statement for many reasons.
Then there is the problem, which I see as laziness. The reasoner is too lazy to move beyond the finite and concrete to difficult thoughts which impose stern restrictions. If the reasoner chooses this route, it seems that reasoner must have his own motive (selfishness, perhaps?). To climb out of being trapped in the M√ľnchhausen-Trilemma, I suggest going directly to the 3rd place. We need to find something axiomatic which will allow us to break off our searching (and rather than continual searching or cicular reasoning). If we can find that which is will be sufficient reason to suspend our search for reasons, then we have sufficient evidence. I am suggesting that that “axiomatic point” in our reasoning be this: to conclude that there is a omniscient, omnipotent, Creator God who is involved in “stuff we can see” as well as stuff we cannot see. That makes a beginning point for other things, seen and unseen. That is Reason enough for me.  

  • Charity Johnson
Before I finish here, I need to leave you with a quote from Kreeft regarding this Creator God:

Bernard of Clairvaux said that when he looked at the cross, the wounds of Christ seemed like lips speaking to him and saying, "I love you." Everything is like that. Everything is God's lips speaking love. That is God's message to us in every thing. Everything has its meaning between God and us, not in itself. Everything it relative to this absolute. This way of looking at things, as gifts and signs rather than simply as things in themselves, is not our usual way of seeing. Try this new way for just one hour and see the difference it makes. See the sunrise as not a mindless, mechanical necessity but as God's smile. See a wave not just as tons of cold salt water crashing down on the shore but as God's playful action. See even death as not a biological necessity but as God trucking us in at bedtime so that we can rise to new life in the morning.

This is not a trick we play on ourselves of a fantasy. This is what the world really is. It is just as true to say that every snowflake is a gift of God as it is true to say that every cent in a father's inheritance is a gift to his children. It is just as true to say that every leaf on every tree is a work of art was made by the divine Artist with the intention that we see it, know it, love it, and rejoice in it, as it is true to say that every word in a lover's letter to his beloved is meant to be seen, known, loved, and enjoyed. This is not fantasy. What is fantasy is the horrible habit of the modern world has gotten itself into, the habit of thinking that what the world really is is only atoms and chance, only what the senses and science reveal and everything else is mere subjective fantasy.

  • Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You, page 20