note: this is a little long
When a few of my classmates found out I was a Catholic (and an active one at that), they were surprised. Shocked even. Most probably, it’s because of the fact that I’m fiercely rational in school. I need to be, and I can be (at the expense of some degree of sensitivity). And I guess it’s just not something that people think is consistent with being passionate about God, given that (1) faith defies logic; and (2) I am a thinker.
[Of course there are other possible reasons. Like, the fact that I hardly socialize. Or, maybe it’s because I just don’t give off the holy vibes, like regular un-ethusiastic catholics that people realize only when they see the scapular hang around their necks. But, for the purposes of writing this, I shall take the optimistic view =)]
There are 2 reasons why my classmates are wrong in thinking this way (see, this is where the insensitivity begins).
The first is that faith does not defy logic; in fact, our faith is rational. The more I learn about our faith, the more reasonable I find it to be. I am constantly amazed to realize the breadth and depth that the Church’s teachings cover – ToB, virtues, eschatology, morality, salvation history, Maryology, social teachings etc. And what’s even more exhilarating is that each teaching coheres with one another to form an entire consistent and rational system of beliefs. Delving into our teachings is like opening a door to the labyrinth. There are so many pathways of logic that link to each other and each path leads to other paths and there is so much to explore and so many places to go. GK Chesterton eloquently puts it – “There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”
Father David says that it is more reasonable to believe in God, than not to believe in Him. He makes an argument that is known in theology as the primum movens, or the First Cause argument. This is how it goes. Every event that occurs has a preceding event that caused it. Nothing can come from nothing. So the universe must have come from something. That very First Something must be God (cf “I am the Alpha and the Omega” here? Yep this would be a good time).
Ok I’ll stop here. I’m not going into counters, or “counters to the counters” (as my tutor calls it~). This discussion spans from The Big Bang Theory all the way to time-independent quantum equations (which frankly, if I have the time, I’d be really interested to find out about). But there is more than just this argument of course.
Notwithstanding the historical evidence of Jesus and his Resurrection, there are 4 main philosophical arguments set out in Aquinas’ Summa Theologica for the existence of God. They are: (1) Ontological Argument, (2) First Cause Argument, (3) Argument from Design, and (4) Moral Argument. They can be found here in quite an understandable fashion – http://www.existence-of-god.com/.
The arguments are not without objections, but neither are they without merit. None of the arguments have been conclusively proved; but neither have they been disproved. The fact that the extreme positions of this debate are held by history’s top intellectuals (cf Dawkins, Singer, Aquinas, Newman, Aristotle, Plato etc) goes to show that our logic falls short somewhere (arguably, though it may be the case that most of us just aren’t smart enough to get their abstract logic).
And that brings me to my second reason: I am not wholly a thinker. Yes I admit that I am, at heart, a rational individual. But look a little deeper and you’ll find, I think, a person who feels more.
And what I feel, what I sense, what the silent and gentle recesses of my soul knows is this – we are meant for more than this world.
When I was younger, I dreamed of other worlds. My brother and I created vast landscapes and universes, integrating lightsabres with kungfu and Starcraft lore and more. (One of my personas was an ultralisk; I challenge any of you to top that. Though I must admit, it’s a little taxing on my imagination to have four limbs on the ground and still have a pair of kaiser blades.) I fell in love with the Belgariad (still am). Harry Potter (at least the early books) captivated me. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman were staples. Then later on, I devoured the lores of gaming universes. And of course, there was (viva!) Neil Gaiman.
Even now, after all these years, despite doing a course that espouses logical reasoning, I still indulge in my flight of fantasies. Granted, I’m a lot less overt with running around the house with my weapons made from drawing block and rolls of scotchtape (but that’s only because I have a real KillBill O-ren Ishii’s katana and a Nerf Longshot rifle now~ muahahahaha). But there are still definitely times, after I read an epic graphic novel or story, that I sigh and think to myself – this world is just too ordinary.
And what I’m only now starting to realize is this: we dream of other worlds, not because these worlds of magic and fairy tales exist, but because we are meant for more than this world.
Be still; and know that I am God. – Ps 46:10
In the deepest moments of my solitude, when every thing and every person around me falls away, when I belong the most to myself, I become aware of a stirring within me. It is… a species of restlessness that is both reassuring and unsettling, a kind of desire that cannot be fulfilled, a voice that speaks from a forgotten part of our selves, that can never be violated by the mundanities of this world. We simply need to remember and be still to hear it. But it is so gentle a whisper of our soul that all you need is a rush, a goal, a deadline, a thing to do, and the whisper gets lost in the wind.
Father Rolheiser speaks of this voice as a song imprinted into the core of our being. As the ancient legend holds, when an infant is created, God kisses its soul and sings to it. As its guardian angel carries it to earth to join its body, she also sings to it. The legend says that God’s kiss and his song, as well as the song of the angel, remain in that soul forever – to be called up, cherished, shared, and listened to.
We hear this whisper and this song at different times and different places. Some of us hear it while on the bus, looking out of the window and staring at raindrops streaming down the panes. Some of us hear it at 4am in the morning after a night’s partying and drinking, while walking alone to the front door of our houses. And some of us hear it in meditative prayer, in front of the Blessed Sacrament or on the prayer mats on Fridays or while counting prayer beads. The point is, we hear it. I hear it.
And what this restlessness, this song, this voice tells us is this: we are unsatisfied, unsatiated and unquenched by this world – this suffering, these afflictions, these transient joys, these luxuries, this constant striving, this toil, these trappings. This world. This life. Our entire being cries out for more than this world can ever offer. And this cry echoes in our soul – mind, will and heart. Our minds search for meaning beyond the mortality of our brief lives. Our will desires for a universal good, that the particular and transient goods of this world cannot provide. Our hearts yearn for love that is perfect and all-giving, free from selfishness and bitterness. As Belle so eloquently sang, there must be more than this provincial life.
Well, lucky for me, I believe that there is. I believe that there is more to life than grades and achievements and success (though I probably have to repeat this to myself quite a bit). I believe that there is more to life than enjoying it to the fullest (though no harm enjoying the journey (:). And I believe that there is more to life, than life itself.
Nope, I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to say hi to Morpheus. But I do think I’ll get to meet God. That’s pretty good enough for me.
So there. I’ve said it. Accept it, affirm it, attack it; it matters little to me. It’s simply a matter of integration – where the heart and the mind leads, the will should follow. Thus I make the choice to believe. In the end, that is what matters most because it is the greatest gift – love that manifests itself in freedom – the freedom to choose. I believe, because I choose to believe.