Normally we endure attacks from people who claim to be atheists or who say that they are indifferent to the fact of religion (agnostics). We have to defend against these attacks, and so arose, from the beginning of the Church, Apologetics. But we must not forget that the best defense is a good offense, in the dialectical sense of the word, of course. Those who say that they don’t believe (atheists or agnostics) are in fact believers, even without knowing it. Their “gods” are made of mud and even are destructive to the human being that “loves” them. Not in vain did Chesterton say that “those who do not believe in God are able to believe in anything.” We must tell you, because there is always the possibility, almost miraculous, they realize and rectify it, leaving worshipping idols to worship the one true God. We can summarize the faith of the “non-believers” in four sections: man, ideals, science and matter.
|Faith in man and humanity:
As has already been said, faith is inherent to human nature. As trust implies, it can be said that we couldn’t live without it, because we cannot take a step or have a single human relationship without trust in something or someone. The question is not, therefore, to choose between having or not having faith, but to choose in whom to deposit that faith, or confidence. We are all believers, therefore, and that should make us respectful towards all to the act of faith considered in and of itself, although we will have many objections about the contents of the faith of others. Some, as we often say to Christians, not only doubt and distrust of the content of our faith, but they consider it ridiculous and even inhuman. We, on the contrary, consider absurd and even damaging much of the content of the faith of those who say that they do not have faith… and they attack us.
Take, for example, the faith of those who say they believe in humanity. Recently, the Spanish politician José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, stated that the faith in man is the only religion as possible. But to believe in what man? In what man do we trust? And, in addition, who is the man who claims to believe in the man? Before the two issues we have to conclude that both the man in which he believes, and the man who believes is a fragile, limited, contradictory being, with lights and shadows. Can you “worship” someone like that? This question has been answered already. Hobbes, for example, said that “Man is wolf to man”; Sartre came to affirm that “the hell is my neighbor” and in the Old Testament it is said: “Cursed is the man that trusts in man, in which he puts his strength and departs his heart from the Lord” (Jer 17:5). Therefore, when it is said that he believes in man, it is often said that, in reality, he believes in a type of man that does not exist, a kind of human angel, someone good that never works evil. It is expected that this non-existent man fills the heart, which always leads to frustration, since no one but God can fill the human heart, since only God is God, only God is perfect.
The same can be said of those who, in the face of the obvious contradictions of the human being, generalize the proposal and say they believe in the whole of these human beings, in humanity. This generalization is even more absurd, because if a person has good and bad, the set of all people will have also the sum of everything good and everything bad, with a high probability that evil will be imposed on the good. In what humanity does one believe, one who has starred in the bloody wars, in which you can not solve the problems of distribution of wealth, which is draining the planet? Belief in mankind, as well as belief in man, is the worship of humanity or the worship of man. And that worship involves submission, at least a partial abandonment of one’s freedom in the hands of someone who is confirmed again and again as imperfect and often cruel. Can that faith compete with faith in a merciful God, a God who became man – a really good man – and who accepted the terrible death of the cross to save man? If those who say they believe in man had a minimum of coherence and intellectual consistency, they would fall to their knees immediately before Christ, true man, worshipping him as the perfect model of a human being; so perfect and unrepeatable; that was, at the same time, true God. In someone who has given his life for you, you can believe, can trust; someone who preached and practiced peace, love, justice, you can deposit trust in Him and, as a result, we can and should try to return to Him, something from the Christ- that has been received. That is why Christianity always encourages to give of yourself the best that is within. On the other hand, what do they do for man and humanity, those who claim to believe in them? In most cases, their faith does not lead to a commitment by what they say they believe, to conversion, to a struggle to help that humanity in which it claims to believe. With rare exceptions, their posture is a mask that hides a huge selfishness and that only serves to justify their conscience, which does not need much to be justified since it usually is asleep. How is understood, if not, that almost all of those who say they believe in man and humanity are in favor of abortion? Most of them are more concerned about the fate of the seals that of unborn children. How it is understood that the majority of all those who profess that faith live comfortably and do so little for those who are in situations of misery? Curiously and significantly, the poor do not have these unique beliefs, they are rather for the rich, bourgeois, well situated to which in reality what bothers them is the moral requirement of Christianity which, among other things, requires its followers to practice justice and charity.
Faith in the ideals:
Before the inconsistency that is supposed to be believed – and its synonym to trust- in man and humanity, some take refuge in another faith, faith in ideals, in major causes. These ideals are good and there can be no objection, in principle, to the search for and purpose of their application. Not only would they not be at odds with faith in God, but that Christianity offers them as something of its own; in most of cases, moreover, they have had their origin in the Christian faith or in that in which its roots are hidden, the Jewish faith. In practice, however, and as history has shown, these great causes have been used to seduce the man of good will and lead him towards types of oppression or slavery that is totally inhuman.
For example, the homeland. Was that not the flag Hitler hoisted that allowed him to seduce the German nation and bring it to the madness of the second world war, with the extermination camps included? Another example: justice. Was it not in its name that Lenin and then Stalin rose and so many others, to end up creating, on the one hand, a “corrupt” nomenclature in the Soviet Union, and, on the other hand, a large number of concentration camps where millions of people were tortured and killed? And another: the concept or ideal of “progress”, as ambiguous as extended and that identifies a large number of people who consider themselves “progressive”. But, what is this progress? Is it progress to kill one hundred thousand children a year in Spain, thanks to the act of abortion? Is it progress to have laws that allow children to be adopted by homosexual couples, without respecting their right to be educated by a man and a woman? Is it progress to treat human embryos as if they were mouse embryos? Is it progress to install in society a climate of permissiveness that two out of every three teenagers get drunk on the weekends, to increase the number of pregnancies in children despite the fact that they have all the information on the topic, and to continuously grow the number of victims of domestic violence? On behalf of big and beautiful ideals are carried out terrorist actions against innocent victims and although it can be said that those who are in charge are, in fact, contrary to the causes that they fight, kill and die for, it is evident that their very existence casts shadows of suspicion regarding the ability of those who control them. History shows that the ideals have become ideologies and that these have been manipulated by their leaders to make their followers end up doing things totally contrary to that principle.
Can you “believe”, in this view, in justice, in the homeland, in progress, to the point of giving life to any cause as well without further discernment? Do you not run the risk of being manipulated by those who run them? In addition, in concrete and in everyday life, what does it mean that kind of faith which you theoretically hold? In most cases, it is only an alibi to justify the conscience, an alibi that was justified with the vote to a “progressive” party – which, by the way, increasingly presents itself religiously, claiming to be supported by a choice of faith, as has been done by the Socialist Party in the 2008 election campaign, probably due to the fact that it could not present evidence that endorsed its management in the government – or with some symbolic act of charity – sponsoring a child through an NGO or sending money when there is a misfortune in some corner of the world.
Christianity, on the other hand, implies a great ethical requirement that moves the believer to fulfill in truth and in their daily lives those values, with those great causes. It may be objected that Christians have not always been consistent with what they preach, which is true, but it is also true that at least they have a sense of sin, and the certainty that they have done wrong leads them permanently to repentance and conversion. The fact that the Christian conscience is incorruptible makes that, sooner or later, both from the point of view of the individual and of the collective, issue a “mea culpa” and try to correct the mistakes. Thus, we see that the Church has asked forgiveness for her sins, while the representatives of these ideologies have not done so, who have caused so many millions of deaths; on the contrary, still proud of what they did, and if they could, in one way or another it seems that they would do the same thing again. Our faith leads to humility, to the examination of conscience, to repentance, to conversion, to the struggle for consistency and for improvement. Theirs leads to obstinacy in evil, the arrogance of believing that have never been wrong even if the reality screams the opposite.
Faith in science:
The faith in science – and as a result, the technology – is very old and it became fashionable from the 16th and 17th centuries, as an alternative to religious faith. The “believer” in the science argues that he cannot and does not want to believe in anything that is not provable scientifically. Something is Sonly worthy that can be cut, measured or weighed. As has already been said, this kind of “faith” is inhuman, leaving aside characteristic and essential elements of human nature, as is the trust in someone or love.
The faith in science is wielded, also, by those who believe that science and technology will solve the problems of humanity. It is true that both, science and technology, have contributed greatly to alleviate some vital issues, such as hunger, but it is also true that not only have not resolved but they have created new ones, such as the ecological crisis. For many years now – although some are not aware- there exists in the scientific community itself a healthy scepticism with respect to the capacity that science has to answer the great questions that man makes of how to solve his problems. And that not only by the limitation of science itself, but because it is developed by human beings, and, accordingly, is a victim of the shortcomings and limitations of the scientists. Science without ethics can destroy man, as has been shown with atomic energy and with a draining and non-sustainable development of natural resources. This is why regarding the affirmation of John Paul II increasingly makes more sense: “Yes to science with a conscience”. Or what is the same: “Yes to science with ethics”. But this statement immediately opens the door to a debate: What ethics? There is an “ethics” – if you can call it that – that human sacrifice looks good for the sake of a supposed scientific progress that, theoretically, would be of benefit to humanity in the long term; there are nazi Mengele’s experiments or, in hiding, have been made with prisoners in prisons and with the dying in hospitals; there is also the experimentation with human embryos, regarded by some as a mere laboratory material. To avoid that science can be manipulated by scientists without moral scruples or by politicians with even less scruples, it is necessary that there are moral constraints that do not allow to do everything technically it can be done. These limitations are not confessional nature of Christian, or Muslim or Buddhist or of any other religion, but which must be based on human rights and the respect for nature. Therefore, those who believe wholeheartedly in the science have to conclude that without an external force upon it to ensure the fair use of the same, it may become an instrument of destruction, as has happened on many occasions. Can you believe, therefore, in science without any reservation to this faith? Those who do run the risk of becoming ” a wizard’s apprentices,” direct or indirect collaborators of a terrifying alchemy that, once unleashed, would be very difficult to control. And this is not “science fiction”.
Faith in the material:
The three types of “faith” exposed up to now, practiced by some of those who say they have no faith, have, in fact, very few followers. The majority, even among those who say they believe in man, in the great ideals or in science, in reality what they believe is in the material. “Materialism” is the faith to which most of the atheists and agnostics worship that surround us, whether or not they are aware of it.
This materialism has, in turn, different facets. It is a God with many faces, a “polytheism” that camouflages in different “gods”. One of these idols, one of the most worshipped, is money; for it many live, and, in practice, to it sacrifice their time, their health, their family, their life. This lethal idol has some allies and among them the deadliest is power; ambition overpowers many who, for money, or just for a higher position on the ladder, do not hesitate to damage so many beautiful things to get something that, in reality, is worth much less. Another very worshipped idol is sex, with its variant for the search for everything that gives pleasure to the body – food, travel. There are committed the greatest sexual aberrations in this sphere, but there are those who make themselves shameless, boasting of these actions and even ridiculing as antiquated those who don’t do them. And the same can be said of the absurdities which lead to the need to seek pleasures linked to the opulence: while millions of human beings literally die of hunger and thirst, some pay large fortunes for fish eggs (caviar) or for snail eggs, for a bottle of aged wine that is handpicked, or any other delicacy that they bring to their tables from the far corners of the planet. And if we look at the money that is spent on travel, we see that in the heart of many of them, there is a need to escape from the reality of everyday life, to seek out and far away what is not located near and within. It would be well to remember what Saint Exupery wrote in “The Little Prince”: “Men grow a hundred types of roses in a garden when what they are looking for might be found it in one of them.”
There is an idol, however, which is even more adored than all of the above, although it may not seem like it: laziness, and comfort. To this the majority yields and to it they sacrifice their lives, therefore not making an effort to carry out any of the plans that they have or not fighting for any of the ideals that perhaps they once had in their heart.
Christianity, on the other hand, due to its rigid and strict monotheism, does not allow us to worship these gods made of clay. Money is important and a certain ambition is legitimate. Sex has a prominent place in the life of man within the marriage and with the proper conditions, since it has been created by God; in the same way, the Christian values rest, with everything that goes with it. But all of this is conditional to the worship of the one true God and, therefore, it doesn’t become a value in itself, in something to worship, but something that serves as long as it is useful for the supreme service that you love and must be realized: the service to a God who is love and who, out of love to Him, commands us to love our neighbor, every neighbor.
In contrast, the worshiper of materialism, not having that external and purifying voice of God and – that is the voice of the conscience correctly formed, – ends up receiving bills he cannot pay, in the form of consequences for his excesses or in the form of rejection on the part of those who have suffered. It is very curious to see how many people think things are good or bad, depending on what each one decides; these, therefore, attacking the Church because they see a tyrant who, having the power to say that anything is good, it does not, which enslaves its followers and prevents them from enjoying life. In reality, things are good or bad in and of themselves. Smoking is not bad because the Church says so, but because the smoker’s lungs do. Excessive drinking is not bad because there is a fifth commandment that tells the believer he may not kill and that, therefore, either can he hurt himself, but because the liver of the drinker says so. To forget this basic law, this healthy realism, puts man in the hands of inanimate gods that end up destroying their worshippers.
It is our duty as believers in the one true God to believe, and that is what Apologetics is for. It will consist not only in defending ourselves from the attacks that our enemies inflict upon us, but it will show them that they, even without knowing it, are worshipping gods that will end up destroying them, although at first it gives them the material “happiness” they are looking for. And that is not only the case from the perspective of eternal life, but that this destruction begins to be experienced already on this earth. In the same way, we, even on this earth, already have a foretaste of eternal happiness that we have been promised.