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Nihil Obstat?

Indeed. This site is a depository of various articles, essays and other such things that I may write over time. How can I speak of these if ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"The God of the Gaps," Is That a Real concept?

Frequently people try to explain naturally explainable occurrences with the simple "x was an act of God" when they cannot understand the causes of said occurrence. Indeed, this has become the logical fallacy named "the God of the gaps." This is sloppy reasoning that we should strike from our hearts immediately. If we see an event that is surprising, this is not reason to believe it to be some direct intervention from God. Science is ever expanding in its ability to explain things.

On the other hand, certain events take place where God is a likely candidate for responsibility, and not only that, but the "God of the Gaps" is not worth mentioning. This is the realm of the miraculous. Magical instant cures to deadly incurable diseases, Hosts bleeding, stigmata appearing, these are known events for anybody who takes an interest in Christian religion. Are these also cases of the "God of the Gaps?" Will we someday understand how S. Pio got his miraculous stigmata. It seems rather uncommon for Hindus, Mohammedans, Jews or atheists to receive them. In fact, such an example would be welcome to me. The examples where they exist are for the very pious.

Here is an excellent article dealing with one who has his job investigating miracles:


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fr. Jaques Hamel, Secularism, and Persecution

After an event of this type, it is difficult to find words to describe the feeling. We see politicians posturing, and many mourners responding with heartfelt sadness. We know that ISIS is a criminal organization, and anybody with a grain of honesty, compassion, or intelligence can agree that Islamic Extremist terrorism is a rising problem. This attack and murder was but one of the recent instances.

It leaves a very glaring question though: is the Christian Faith seeing a new time of threat and persecution?

Of course, we always forget the awful violence done to Christians in the Middle East in discussing this question, we also forget the state-sponsored secularism in China and North Korea. With awful stories such as this from the Daily Mail, it is hard to deny that Christians in the world today are being persecuted. Now, countries like the US, the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, or any other developed nations, we think are exempt from this type of persecution. We know that being a Christian is a lot easier in the West, than in China. That said, will this ease continue? What is the future of worldwide Christianity, in particular in the West?

First, it's important to understand where persecution comes from. Usually, it does not come from an active dislike of a set of ideas, at least when sponsored by the State. The reason that the Roman Empire persecuted Christians was not because they were political revolutionaries, but because they did not submit to the Roman Emperor as though he was a god. (which was required of citizens) In the Islamic world, the same was the case. We have stories of martyrs killed because they refused to wear the hijab. In the twentieth century, the same reason holds out. In the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, China, or any other example of state persecution of Christians, the reason was not a belief in the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, or some sort of dogma. Today even, in the Islamic world, the persecution of Christians is often not because they are Christians, but because they are not Muslims. So, what is the real underlying for state persecution of Christians? It seems that the best explanation is that Christianity is not pointed at the state. Stalin did not close churches because he hated the Trinity, but because they did not consider him to be a God, or to put communism above their faith. (though there has been a movement in the Orthodox church, albeit small, to canonize Stalin) The underlying reason that people persecute Christians is because they want to put their own ideas above the Christian religion. Whenever a government places a lot of emphasis on a State Ideology supplanting religious beliefs, persecution is not only the logical conclusion of the scenario, it will often result. Today, we do see a surprising amount of statist and secularist ideology that wishes to do just that - to supersede Christianity. When Joe Biden officiates at a gay wedding, he is at base doing the same thing. He is putting state ideology (or personal political opinion if you are less cynical) over his religion. When Barack Obama made law that public schools must not force people to use the bathroom of their biological sex, he was doing the same. When secularists remove nativity scenes, crosses and public prayer, are they not doing the same?

In the end, it is difficult to know the future. Of course though, we have what Cardinal Francis George said as a possibility: "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history."[14] 

Maybe a question that is more easily answered is this, if the base motive of persecution of Christians is not a dislike of the Christian ideology and it is more a desire to have the dominant view exalted, what does that say? 

Well, John Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost had his often quoted line: "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven." This perhaps is the root of all sin. In Genesis, Satan tempts Eve by saying "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Indeed, Saint Augustine argued in City of God that the base of Sin is arrogance towards God, exalting ourselves over the divine. 

So, we may not know if or when the next major persecution of Christians in the West is. We do know this though: the persecution not only comes from Satan, but it has the same base motivation as Satan's move against God.