Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Pervasive Death? My Atheism

Everything has a price (economics). For every action there is an equal reaction opposite to it (physics). Darwinian Principle: Survival of the fittest through genetic mutation and adaptation of species to the environment (biology). Every living organism dies (biology).
We studied the above in school. If there is any truth in it, it means that death is part of life, and sometimes violent death is caused by our actions.
Everything has a price: If you wish to live a better life, you need to advance in your career, and for this you must spend more efforts, money and time at work.
For every action there is an equal reaction opposite to it. If you wish to live a better life, you must accommodate yourself to the demands of your boss or your clients regardless of how moral they are. Because, if you do not do the above you will be fired.
The Darwinian Principle is the principle that governs all life. To survive in a zoo, you must be more powerful than your competitors.You will eventually die but at least you would have secured your legacy through your powerful offspring and supporters.

If the above is too simplistic, consider more findings from experience:
While the lifespan of a typical person increased because of medical technology, pervasive death increased too. We long for eternal joy of life, but we are unable on our own to reach it. Or perhaps our knowledge of the globe, the cosmos and human frailty has focused so much on the negative, the materialist comfort, and human achievements in the material world that we forgot life with God; God as distinct from us, beyond us and yet one of us.

It seems that the more I am busy in entertaining myself and my own, the more I have no time for God. My friends and their young ones are also too busy getting things done for their living, their bosses at work, their homes, and their own friends. We see each other less frequently and go to church only as a duty. Our grown-up young adults are too busy making ends meet for their own, so how can one expect them to have time for God? The media too bombards us everyday with news of violence, rape, and killing, and entertains us with shows and movies about physical beauty, sex, games with no mention of God.

This state of society is not limited to the West. It is also in the East where perverse murdering of innocents is carried out in order to preserve the self, killing freedom in the name of religion, selling more weapons, abuse of women in rape and sex, and getting people's lives crushed by erecting dictatorial economic and political (often tribal) systems.

Introducing the picture of a Godless society:

Through fast Internet communications we know instantly events that are shaping the future of other countries and continents which adds to anxiety. Antonio Damasio, the well-known professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, warned that the human brain can hardly cope with the fast advances in computer science. How would the young generation cope with such complex systems?

There are many questions on the minds of Christians regarding the advances in science and the "death of God". I have attempted to respond to them in a number of lectures and articles. Please see "Has Science Discovered God?" by clicking here. One of the well-known philosophers mentioned there is Professor Antony Flew, an outspoken atheist, who was so astonished by the recent scientific discoveries that he became theist (or believer in a metaphysical God). In 2010, Professor Dr. Michael Sole, the well-known Canadian cardiologist and professor of anatomy at the University of Toronto, repeated in a meeting with me, Einstein's declaration that he believes in a metaphysical power beyond the universe that we call God. Dr. Brian Baker at the University of Toronto declared the same. In recent history many other educated atheists such as Dr. Alexis Carlyl converted to Christianity. In the 1960s, the anthropologist professor René Girard became Catholic. The British physics professor Stephen Hawking and Harvard professor of psychology Steven Pinker (both Atheists) stated in different instances their conclusions that there must be a super intelligence beyond the cosmos. See also "The Quantum Synthesis" here and "Why the Beloved is Beautiful" here. On YouTube, see this clip about Chaos Theory and Fractals here. in 2009 Professors Nancey Murphy and Warren Brown of the philosophy of mind co-authored a book "Did my neurons do it?" in which they debunk the deterministic views of atheism especially those of Daniel Dennett. The "New Atheist" Professor Richard Dawkins admitted in 2006 that religion will remain in the human mind for centuries to come. In a 2013 debate with Cardinal George Pell, Dawkins opposed  the Darwinian Principle of survival for the fittest and admitted the need for a global moral standard based on the Gospel (See it here). The distinctive influence of Christianity on the development of civilization has been indicated here based on scholarly research of history.

Nevertheless, the tragedy of meaningless life is widespread. I seek comfort both physical and spiritual. Does not this remind us by Calvinism? According to Calvin, God blesses the elect here with the good life and increased wealth, and there in the next life with the kingdom. But materialism sneaks in to confine reality to material things only, and individualism creeps in through private holdings and legal protection of my privacy. I use the best that suit my interests from all realms and thoughts. I make money to spend it, live and die. I collaborate with others only when I need them for myself. This is today's credo which our children have learned and are learning in schools and universities. The "Death of God" was symbolically announced by Nietzsche over a hundred years ago. It followed a long conversation of philosophers in doubting the existence of God in the modern mind of the West's Enlightenment including Kant, Comte, Voltaire, Feuerbach, Marx, and followed by the 20th century philosophers such as Carnap, Wittgenstein, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Bertrand Russell, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, John Searle, Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers (see Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy here).  To each doubting mind there have been abundant responses in the 20th century by other minds such as  Henri de LubacKarl RahnerTeilhard de ChardinJoseph RatzingerJohn HaldaneHans Urs von BalthasarChristopher DawsonJohn PolkinghorneLorenzo AlbaceteAvery Dulles among others (see some of their contributions in website links on the blog). But a trend to liberalism and individualism, supported by economic capitalism, continues. We are becoming numbers in a digital world. Death is pervasive today: if not materially then spiritually. I have no God.  I am practically an atheist!

A simple picture for conclusion:
Can I save myself? No. Can we save ourselves? Yes. Here are a few important steps by a top psychologist. He spoke about the challenges we have. I am attempting to follow these steps:

1.  Build good relationships with your family and your children. Communicate and share precious time together. Love is not simple but it starts with good intentions.
2.  Enjoy your relationships with the family, the extended family, and the community. Check: Are you willing to serve them without condition?
3.  Avoid gossiping and building networks of hatred. They do not go with love.
4.  Be a model in action in service to your family, your children, and the community.  Collaborate in good intentions and based on the primacy of conscience with your co-workers, your boss, your assistants/servants, your colleagues and classmates. Before you ask others or children to follow what you say, you need to follow the advice of good people.
5.  Be humble. Be vulnerable like kids. Accept your faults and ask for forgiveness. Forgive others as you wish to be forgiven.
6. Spend time in meditation and contemplation of the good (half an hour every day is suggested). Taste the goodness you are offered in having grown in your life.
7.  Upon doing the above pray to find God in the world here and today. Think of him who described himself as a loving Father. Think that he does not forsake anyone. Taste the Lord in his creation. Taste the Lord in confession and the Eucharist (the sacrament of thanksgiving). Pray with the Church to grow in wisdom and love.
8. You have found God. The Father sent Christ, his eternal image who is one with him, by the power of the Holy Spirit to save the world. He saves. Pray that all be saved and enjoy eternal life of increasing love.

Everyone in the whole world is related to others. It is in relationship of enduring love with each other that we are saved. Death is only a step to the better life. If I die to my own selfishness and desires, I then can experience selfless love in a way that resembles the eternal love of the Triune God. Then we will resurrect into glory as Christ did and continues.

Friday, May 30, 2014

BOKO HARAM - The Use and Abuse of Kidnapped Girls

Not only did they abuse girls that they kidnapped, but also threatened to sell them if the Nigerian government did not release their fellow terrorists from prison. The kidnapping of girls from a residential school in Nigeria took place over a month ago.The terrorist organization that planned and executed the kidnapping is Boko Haram; a notoriously brain-washed tribal group that claims to be a follower of Islam and yet they only managed to distort the picture of Islam as a religion. For years now, terrorists of Boko Haram have been causing fear among the citizens they visited. Like a Satanic violent cult, they torched homes, schools, market places, and government buildings.They murdered scores of people who disagree with their beliefs or resist their attacks trying to protect themselves. It seems that they are funded by the same sources that continue to fund Islamic terrorism in  the so-called "Arab Spring" in the Arab world, as well as Taliban in Afghanistan, and other militia terrorists in Pakistan, Russia, Iran and Al-Qaeda to name a few. Their goal is to turn the African countries, that they operate in, into Islamic countries based on a strict interpretation of Sharia.

In the belief of Boko Haram, girls must be married at a young age, and forced to stay home to serve their masters. If they are kidnapped, those girls are to be used for the entertainment and sexual pleasure of men of the same organization or a similar one. If those girls are lucky, Boko Haram will trade them for money which will be used for more terror or for the release of their fellow terrorists from prison.

Strangely, not only do they conduct terror operations but also we note that the Nigerian government is slow in pursuing and saving the kidnapped ones. The U.S. government and other Western governments offered their technical assistance in surveillance and military tracking facilities. Yet the plight of the kidnapped girls seems to have been given a lower attention among the world's powerful nations who are able to assist in their release.

The word "Haram" can have several meanings. In Semitic languages it can be derived from "Harm" which means exclusion from the community. In the ancient Christian Churches, it is equivalent to excommunication of a person from participation in sacraments or his exclusion from the community of worship. In Islam, "Haram" is often interpreted as the sinful act forbidden by God in the Qur'an.  In the developed Catholic thought, inspired texts of the Bible are not literally dictated from God. The mind of the Church is not determined by individual impressions or free personal interpretations but by the authority of bishops in union with the Successor of Peter and the assent of the faithful according to the living tradition of the Church. In the Bible too, every person, including women, is created in the image of God. A patriarchal social system does not justify treatment of women as if they were subordinate to men. On the contrary it was a woman, the Virgin Mary, whose "Yes" to God made her venerated above all other creatures including men. She is highly venerated in both Islamic texts and  Christian traditions of Apostolic character.

Of course, no one is forced to believe what was written here. However, moral norms in the world forbid the killing of any innocent person and dictate that a just trial be set up for anyone accused of crimes for prosecution to demand punishment. It is the moral conscience that stands in trial today!

Africa remains a fertile continent for the presence of moderate Christians and moderate Muslims along with Animist religions. Catholic missionaries may be able to open schools and hospitals that care for the population they serve and thus move them to receive the grace of faith. Good businesses may bring hi technology as opportunities to invest in trades and education of local populations. The more there is security and stability the more African nations would become prosperous over time. To serve man, always discerning the call of the Spirit of God, is to serve God!

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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