Thursday, November 06, 2008

To live as if God exists

Sandro Magister writes about German author Robert Spaemann's book "The Immortal Rumor."
To live as if God exists
"That there exists a being who in our language is called 'God' is an old rumor that cannot be silenced. This being is not part of that which exists in the world. It must instead be the cause and origin of the universe. It is part of the rumor, however, that there are in the world traces of this origin, and signs that point to it. And this is the only reason why such different statements can be made about God."

Magister quotes the Holy Father, from his last address before being elected to the pontificate:

"In the age of the Enlightenment, the attempt was made to define essential moral norms by saying that they would be valid 'etsi Deus non daretur', even if God did not exist. In the mutual opposition of the confessions and the looming crisis of the image of God, the attempt was made to hold on to the essential values of morality beyond the disputes, and seek evidence for them that would make them independent of the multiple divisions and uncertainties of the various philosophies and confessions. The desire was to ensure the foundation of coexistence, and, more generally, the foundation of humanity. At the time, this seemed possible, in that the great fundamental convictions established by Christianity remained in place to a large extent, and seemed undeniable. But that's no longer the case. The search for this kind of reassuring certainty, which could remain uncontested beyond all the differences, has failed. Not even the effort – as heroic as it was – of Kant was able to create the necessary shared certainty. Kant had denied that it was possible to know God in the domain of pure reason, but at the same time had represented God, freedom, and immortality as postulates of practical reason, without which, for him, moral action did not make sense. Does not the current situation of the world, perhaps, make us again think that he may have been right? I would like to say it in other words: the attempt, taken to the extreme, to mold human affairs by completely ignoring God brings us closer and closer to the edge of the abyss, to the total elimination of man. We should therefore reverse the axiom of the Enlightenment and say: even those who are unable to accept God should in any case seek to live and direct their lives 'veluti si Deus daretur', as if God exists. This is the same advice that Pascal had given to his nonbelieving friends; it is the advice that we would like to give today as well to our friends who do not believe. In this way, no one's freedom is limited, but all of our affairs find support and a criterion that they urgently need."
There is sound advice here. The immediate self-reflection, is "Do I live as though God exists?"

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