As you know, an Italian gentleman has challenged the Catholic Church to prove that Christ existed, and, while the case was, somewhat expectedly, tossed out in an Italian court, the plaintiff, undaunted, found a court in Strasbourg that has agreed to hear it. It remains to be revealed who the Catholic Church will designate to defend its historical foundation.
Should we flinch from such a touchy subject and leave you to your own puzzlements? No, dear reader, rest assured that we will never abandon you out of fear to follow whatever the ever-surprising pageant of daily events may present to our fretted brow but smiling aspect. After all, how much more refreshingly salutary it is to realize we can share even the most subtle adumbrations that flit through our evanescent moments of self-awareness.
So what is, in our opinion, the correct question?
We prefer to ask whether belief in Christ, as the Son of God or in any relevant modification, helps people live better lives and deal with the trembling uncertainties that the enormous question mark in the sky about the why and wither of everything, including our mortal selves, still provokes in many a frail human being?
Or is belief in Christ’s divinity more in use to devise liabilities against the natural potential for joy that life seems to be gifted with, while it provides less unshakable hope than one might wish for assured eternal bliss?
What, pray tell, is the answer? Since the two can hardly be hefted into a balance scale, the decision is, agreeably enough, what you, as the decisive individual you undoubtedly are, have determined is your own estimable belief.
Dare we proceed to the evidence for or against what is known as the historical Jesus? What else, ideational companion, would you expect?
First, as you know, the Romans kept engagingly careful histories and prudent civic accounts. Yet there is little mention in the remnants of the Roman record of an existent called Jesus Christ, except one brief notation in a civic record, another in a Jewish history, or a line in a few letters. Some demanding historians, in their histrionics, suppose that, had Jesus performed the wonders He is reported to have accomplished, His existence would have enlarged into an invitingly more elaborate documentation.
Consequentially considered Christian evidence begins with the man who has come to be known as Saint Paul. While he was, unfortunately, too young to have known Jesus in person, it seems he met with the extant personages Peter, James, and John.
We must also come head to headline with the historically disquieting fact that the four Gospels were penned to paper at a later date than we might, in our ideal hopes, prefer: sometime between A. D. 60 and A. D. 120. The Book of Mark, considered the earliest of the four gospels, made its initial appearance about the year 150 AD. While the historic document may well have recorded an oral history or earlier written versions of the story of Jesus, obviously by the time it was penned the scribe never actually broke bread with the central inspiration of his Gospel.
We have not, of course, invented any of the foregoing evidences. We have merely recorded, as accurately as we can in a brief space, what seems to have been passed down over the centuries.
Now, we pass from our wandering deliberations to our initial point.
In the very soul of our hopes and uncertainties, most of us are not excessively concerned about what is historically invariable. We more likely ask what in this wide and chancy world is more helpful, or useful, to us and our fellow uncertain human beings. While it may not be the most piercingly trenchant question, it is certainly the kindest and therefore, in many ways, the most invitingly wise.
By the way, soul of light and wonder, there is also another wrong question we should deliberate with before we conclude. The questioning gentleman from Italy also proclaims that he is an atheist, and we grant him his predilection.
But, one of the surprisingly incisive items the overly commended philosopher William James managed to utter, in his hopefulThe Will To Believe, is that we require just as much information not to believe as it takes to believe.
Once again we must reach for the same handy harp and arpeggiate as follows:
The right question, or so it seems us, is not whether God exists, but whether we can define God in a way we can, with scientific respect, consider valid?
We can only share with you the invitingly unassuming definition that works for us and that, astonishingly, seems unassailably cogent.
And here it is.
Since we, being as logically exacting as we should, cannot dare infer with philosophical propriety that the universe has a “cause,” without the adherents of Davy Hume rushing to inform us that what we, as frequently but not ever fallible humans, perceive as cause and effect may, in fact, be more exactly explicated as usual but not unexceptionable sequence.
So all we can credibly say is that all we behold must have a source – an original or, if you will, an ultimate source – and that we, as placidly accommodated inhabitants of finitude, are willing to consider that source God.
As you might guess, whether or not such a carefully considered God partakes in our everyday lives or has decided we’ve been equipped well enough to manage things on our own – if we would only use the mental and spiritual resources we’ve been given – is, yet again, another question, undoubtedly to be ciphered, yet again, primarily by our own dispositions.
So, interestingly enough, after our exceedingly perspicacious amble through the honed brambles of theological speculation, we arrive, to some extent, where our sometime intellectual companion, ancient Aristotle, left us, that is, with the concept of God as the “First Mover” or “Unmoved Mover.” While his description is obviously a bit more assumptive than ours, it’s reassuringly close enough to make us smile at the inadvertent paternity of his wisdom.
So, lest we trouble you too long in your inquisitive surf of the worldwide Web, we will conclude as follows:
While the daring Italian plaintiff gears up to challenge the divinity of Christ in a Strasbourg court, and the spokespeople of the Catholic Church present their most revered proofs, while the media kern the boiling pot as intemperately as they can, the entire host will all be overwrought about what is, at least to us, really neither the most practical nor spiritually consequential question.
We realize we haven’t been especially humorous in this article, but, if you think about the high subject, such an achievement would have actually been inappropriate.
We also cannot but realize you may be thinking, OK, smarty pants, so what do you think about matters infinite?
Would we ever deny you the inviting knowledge? Never, me bonny lads and lasses!
So here it is. We have a faith not shaken by such perturbations on the largely unmapped sea of certitude, because we have a comforting faith in life – faith that it is, after all, a logical evanescence and therefore an overall benevolence. As part of our faith in it, we believe that, if we take good are of it, we will not only have a much higher likelihood of realizing its resplendent possibilities, but also of helping save it from our own depredations, and, in accordance with our assumpiton of its supreme logic, that whatever made it will, if it takes good care of anyone, take good care of us, who, after all, live in the service of life, accepted as considerately free and capable of exultation. We call this moderate infinite extension of our enlightened commitment faith through life.
Our only remaining hope is that we’ve been able to deconstruct the theological tempest that likely lies ahead into a venue you may observe as, in its inevitable confrontations and triangulations, your informed and wisely unruffled self.