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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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“Be open-minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.”

First, the problem here is that atheists are not “open-minded.” They begin with the absolute premise, which many of us would judge as false, that there is no God. This means that they violate the very first so-called new commandment they propose. Second, they tend to reduce truth and knowledge to empirical proofs. They find satisfaction with numbers and that, which can be seen and measured, but are utterly distressed by philosophical arguments, the prospect of divine revelation and by subjective witness. They look at the ordered universe and refuse to acknowledge that there is any agent behind the order.

When it comes to changing beliefs, they do not mean what they say. They have deified science which is a kind of self-preoccupation. This they refuse to change. A worldview might shift, but not the underlying secular faith. It presumes that man has the capacity to fully understand the universe. There is no proof to show that this assumption is true. Indeed, while the various string theories are understood, albeit in a contradictory manner between theories, only a very small portion of the human race has the intellectual genius to appreciate the math. Who is to say that there are not mysteries too complex for men and the wiring in their heads? We already use machines to store information and to calculate where human brains fall short. When the atheists talk about the willingness to abandon faith, they are speaking in a dictatorial manner to people with religious beliefs. They insist there is no evidence for God and the various religious creeds. Consequently, they judge people who refuse to abandon such faith as backward (stupid) and stubborn.

Catholicism has a greater appreciative for the whole human experience. We would not reduce knowledge or truth to what computers might tabulate. That is why the Church embraces the arts as also a medium to communicate the Gospel. Catholicism teaches that there must be a complementarity of truth. If something does not correlate between the disciplines then something is wrong and must be adjusted. We find truth in philosophy, in theology and in science. Philosophy allows for a rational reflection upon truth and the nature of things. Theology permits a reflection upon the elements of faith in divine revelation. Science offers insight in understanding the makeup of the world where we find ourselves. They ask different questions but there is an overlap. That is why Catholics speak of intelligent design but do not insist upon a fundamentalist or literalist interpretation of Genesis and creation. That is why we speak of the Bible as a book to help us go to heaven, not as a book that tells us how the heavens go. Philosophy would have us ask questions like: What is the nature of man? Is there a God? Theology or Religion would ask: Who is this God that has revealed himself to us? Does God care about us? Science would ask: How do the organs of the body work together? What is this world or creation where we find ourselves? How do things work? There are some questions that certain disciplines can and cannot answer.