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Catechism Project, #31-38

“But how do you know?”  I think more than anything other objections that is the one that today stops most people in the tracks of their spiritual journey.  We have been so conditioned to believe only we can prove through proper experiential scientific method.  But how do you “prove” the existence of something following the scientific method that cannot be experienced directly by any of the senses (leaving aside miraculous occurrences for the moment)?  I once heard that we must believe that “if it can’t be measured it doesn’t exist”.  Despite the myriad exceptions that must be made to prevent the obvious contradictions to that purported law (e.g. one cannot “measure” love, yet no one argues whether such a thing exists) this idea is accepted as obvious truth by a surprising number.

Even the numerous proofs for the existence of God – I can think of those from St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure and Pascal just off the top of my head – don’t seem to hold any weight.  Why?  I think largely for two reasons: 1) because logical deduction is a vanishing art in the modern day – we prefer tangible and obvious proof that doesn’t require following a long line of reasoning, and 2) because the concept of first principles has been exchanged for relativism – no truth is singular, and we must all accept as “their truth” whatever anyone else wishes to believe.  Indeed, as Pius XII stated in Humani Generis, “men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful.” (CCC #37)

It seems we today must, rather than getting more complicated, get more simple.  When a people has puffed up their own idea of their knowledge of the universe beyond reality, one has to start not with even bigger ideas but with smaller ones.  We are too smart to be out-smarted; it is only the little and the small that will pass through our filters.

There are two main sources by which people come to know God.  First is the world – nature itself, its organization, its beauty can become catalysts for people to come to understand the existence of something greater and thus begin down the path to finding God.  Quoting St. Augustine, CCC #32 puts it this way:

Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky … question all of these realities.  All respond:  “See, we are beautiful.”  Their beauty is a profession [confessio].  These beauties are subject to change.  Who made them if not the Beautiful one [Pulcher] who is not subject to change?

The second source is the human person itself.  Even in spite of all the challenges and contradictions from the modern world, man can see within himself something that years for something more.  It can take much time, and as in the posts on the previous section of the Catechism, there can be many obstacles in the way but nothing can alter that fundamental orientation of man towards his Creator.  Silence is a great danger to one who does not wish to come to know God.  It is there, when the whirling bustle of the world has subsided even for a moment, that you find everything you are and everything you truly love pointing you in one direction.

“But how do you know?” one asks.  Look around you, allow the beauty and order of the world to shine through.  Look within you, allow that same order and beauty to lead you towards its Creator.  A treasure map has been left imprinted on the heart of every person; follow it and that question will take on a whole new meaning.

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