The Terms Of the Debate: The World Of Faith (3)

“Temptation of St. Thomas Aquinas”, Diego Velazquez

The Predicament

In the eyes of the scientific mind, the scientific method is in itself its own justification, its own truth and the most consistent and reliable way of uncovering the rationality of the universe. In truth, science provides for a gateway towards reality itself, and the universe of being it describes behind its long series of numbers and its intricate experimental trials, itself represents reality as it is, or rather reality as concretely and as closely as it can be uncovered and apprehended and certainly as manipulated. Thus, for the man of science, the conviction that the scientific world view be in itself truthful, is even greater as compared to the common man for whom, his certitude and confidence in human science follows from his gratitude toward the endeavor; an endeavor that has blessed mankind and given to him the wonders of technology, the application of human medicine and the revolutionary means to control and bend his surrounding environment to his mind and will.

Faced with reality as it is, it is safe and fair to ponder on whether it is possible to comprehend, assess and carve the place that the world of faith can occupy and claim to itself, in a world filled with wonders which a century ago were but all unthinkable. Indeed, the notion of a Creator God, Master of all, Miracle-Worker, Good and Just toward all no longer seems to hold any real value. Perhaps, it can no longer be reconciled with the reality of a world where man is a god, a being endowed with the power of flight as he soars through the airs in steeled-up carriers; indeed, he has domesticated the waters of the oceans through which he swims in torpedo-like vessels; and at this current time, man is on the verge of rewriting the matrix of his very being through the miracle of genetic manipulation and human testing.

In truth, the very Creator God appears to be an extant concept that has been outlasted, outperformed and made irrelevant by the concrete evidence that his favored creature has outgrown Him, has outlived the truths of the supernatural world, and has entered the realm of realism and the thought of rational vision. Evidently, the once innocent creature has grown in age, has matured and has shown that his time on the earth no longer depends on truths which are antiquated and which for the better part of history have contributed and still contribute to the division and separation visible within humanity even to this day. Veritably, the human being, contemporary man has come to be a little god, worthy of his own little kingdom, a king worthy of his own little lair, a lion worthy of his own little nation. Without a doubt, the spiritual progress that his God had created him for and destined him toward, has been verified to be humanly possible and translatable onto the temporal plane of earthly existence. The human person has in verity, conquered the world and established his own dominion, a kingly dominion of whom he is the master, perhaps not in an uncontested manner, but at least in a brilliant fashion.

The World of Faith

Thus, the obstacles that faith in its world faces, are numerous. If human science has rendered the truth of the supernatural as mythological, it has at the same time, effectively reduced the rational scope of its intelligibility. In contemporary times, the man of religion does not stand as an antiquated specimen as much as his faith and his manner of being, have been made of no consequence to the way of life of the average man. The media and the world of entertainment certainly seem to present more practical value to the world of man, which now appears autonomous and self-sufficient, as it is blessed enough as to have its own doctors, its own spiritual guides and its own deities and moral exemplars. Quite certainly, the obstacles, and the barriers that faith finds in its expression and on its path to deeper spiritual renewal and greater religious vigor, are just as intellectual as they are social.

The intellectual barriers have been mentioned earlier. These barriers do not in truth constitute obstacles as much as they represent a mental frame, that in effect excludes faith and relegates it to its own sphere; a sphere which in reality appears non-rational, voire irrational. But the world of faith has its own way of expression. If faith appears irrational, it is because it cannot be fitted into a scientific canon of rationality. In reality, such a condition is an unfortunate consequence of an epistemology that reduces the realm of the knowable, to the life of the senses, and to the rational radius of natural existence. Within this frame of mind, the world of the supernatural with its otherworldly wonder, its candid spirit and its joyful innocence seems to be devoid of vital space, of an informing spirit that gives it life and breath. In the end, the world of religion holds little weight on the scale of value as it ends up confined to its own sphere of reason, that of the realm of feeling and of the irrational unknown.

Thus, if the scientific world view has made the world of faith hopelessly obsolete, that is, non-rational, it is its metaphysical orientation and philosophical fruit, materialism, that has been its unspoken creed and the effective rallying cry of a world view that at times veers toward a discipled and militant atheism. Materialism, the great celebration of matter as Being, as Birth-Mother and Origin of all that Is, has speared a contradiction in human reason and has resulted in a refutation of an antique wisdom that once placed the human spirit, the spark of life dwelling at the bottom of the human heart, at the center of the human being. Incredibly, the materialist world view has done away with the infantile world of comfort and consolation borne out of Christianity that conferred upon man a relief in his moments of doubt and despair. In the end, it is a world of consolation that has quietly been dismembered and disfigured as the remains of human remembrance are insufficient to elevate their memory above the pervading feeling of human affection. Gone thus, is the universe of rational Love that majestically transfigured man and which from afar showered him with a poetic blessing of flowers and roses.

To Quell the Fire

Nonetheless, on the lips and on the mind of the man of religion the question lingers: what can be done? How are faith and the reality of the supernatural, to be presented in a manner that is rational and worthy of gathering significant attention, amenable to a debate that is constructive and beneficial, whether it be scientific or even philosophical?

An important question, which the man of faith ponders as he contemplates how to overcome the obstacle of human reason itself, unaware as it is of its place and limitation, as it seems to elevate itself above and beyond Divine Reason, in a reality which in the end celebrates the demise of religious belief and the emancipation of human beings from divine tutelage.

Rationalism, standing as the ultimate test to the faith, appears at times as a capitulation of Love before the mysterious ways of Reason; mysterious as it seems, for its innumerable questioning whose fire not even the world of Faith and the moral consolation of Christianity are sufficient to quell in its intensity and aspirations.

How can such a fire be quelled?

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