Big Question (to which small answers are made) fortunately I have better things to do on a Sunday morning. Who except a self publicist would want to take part in this sort of bear pit? Shouts and heckling really do make good television but not good debate: heat but no light. Taking part in these things really does little to further an understanding of the faith.
Yesterday the Holy See announced the reform of the study of philosophy, in Paris it has been announced there will be a Forum for Atheists and Gentiles, the Court of the Gentiles, it follows on from Pope Benedict's speech to the Curia in 2009, and the themes he took up at Westminster Hall. I am sure Assisi 3, will continue in this vein.
Recently I had a young man who is searching, who curiously said he worked in an "erotic bakery"- well, it is Brighton. I restrained my curiosity. For this man there is obviously something more to life than they way he is living it and more to his hopes and aspirations, he was wondering about becoming "religious". The brutalism of modern fundamentalist scientificism really doesn't satisfy the questions of a thinking man any more than traditional fundamentalist religionism.
The trouble is that most people don't think or question, this seems to have been the great sin of the Pharisees. Most atheists seem inoculated against thinking about either beginning or ends, personal or cosmic. A few years ago defining oneself as an atheist was quite rare, most non-believers would define their beliefs as agnostic because they lacked sufficient knowledge to judge between a rational presentation of arguments for or against God.
I don't know if it was Dawkins or someone else who first spoke of the "Sky Fairy" but even for intelligent atheists, that, or the "old man with a beard", seems to be the assumption that this what we understand by "God". Sometimes I suspect it is actually an image many Catholics, even after 12 years of Catholic education in one of our schools, are comfortable with and are not willing to counter. It is blasphemy!
I love Aquinas's "... and that we call God" at the end of each of his Five Ways, he doesn't say that the Cause is God but that it stands as a metaphor for God. As the Pope called recently for us to find new parables for a contemporary world, so we need to find modern metaphors for God and a new language to speak about God. The great gulf that seems to exist between the world of the Arts and the world of Science, also ghettoises religious thought. Catholic intellectuals need to enter into dialogue with Art and Science, if only to rescue them from fundamentalist brutalism of Science and Art that tends to remove wonder and beauty, reducing both to a travesty of egoism; Dawkins' "Self Gene", Emin's "tent" or "room" seem to epitomise a world view without hope or future or joy or wonder.
As Emin herself said of one of her installations, "It is what it is". That statement reflects the bankruptcy of modern western culture which lacks any big idea, except to cut itself off from its roots. It what it is, in all its superficiality.
The world needs Catholic thought and ideas if only to offer a vision of what man truly is, or at least has the capacity to be.
We really do need to start by re-Evangelising the world of Ideas.
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