Common ground between believers and atheists

imageMatthew Becklo see some possibility for common ground between the believers in God and atheists. Taking some text from Michael Novak’s No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers:

Both the atheist and the believer stand in similar darkness. The atheist does not see God – but neither does the believer … we all stand in darkness concerning our deepest questionings … withal, a certain modesty should descend upon us. Believers in God well know, in the night, that what the atheist holds may be true. At least some atheists seem willing to concede that those who believe in God might be correct. Sheer modesty compels us to listen carefully, in the hopes that we might learn.

Becklo expounds:

This is an especially good caveat for the faithful. Pope Francis wrote in his first encyclical Lumen Fidei (or “The Light of Faith”): “One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey…”

In other words, faith does not mean knowing God through and through and tapping a stockpile of straightforward answers.Instead, it’s an ontological light burning in the same existential darkness that scandalizes the atheist. “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness,” Francis reminds us, “but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.”

See how easily we layer in our beliefs about the shroud.

Hat tip for this goes to Andrew Sullivan who tips his hat to Matthew Cantirino at First Things.

4 thoughts on “Common ground between believers and atheists”

  1. I believe that I cannot see God the Father but I believe that he is there, I believe that the Shroud of Turin is the Shroud that Jesus Christ was placed in and was covering his body when his Devine Spirit entered his body for the Resurrection as prophesized,

  2. Michael Novak is a respected philosopher but is linked to politics. If only there could be links to biblical studies and psychology:
    What would he say about Matthew 5:8? Would he call Jesus a liar?
    Has he said anything about feeling God? Has he read depth psychology, has he read C.G.Jung, for instance?
    St. Theresa, Doctor of the Church, went through a long period of the “dark night of the soul”, Mother Teresa also had a short experience and told Ferdinand Périer, Archbishop of Calcutta, about it.
    Pope Francis is wiser than Novak in his “Lumen Fidei”.

  3. There are two kinds of knowledge: faith and reason. With reason, we know something is true because we can see the truth of it. With faith, we know something is true because God is telling us. The existence of God is a matter of reason, not faith. That there is life after death is a matter of faith. My reasons for making an act of faith are: 1) That Jesus was a Jewish prophet. 2) The Resurrection of Jesus. 3) The passion of Jesus as told by the synoptic gospels and the Holy Shroud.

  4. Michael Novak is a dire warning of what has happened to the Catholic Church since the horror of Vatican II. I can just hear Jesus saying to the disciples, “You know, in the dark of night I’m not so sure there is a God at all. Maybe the unbelievers are right, who knows?” Yeah that fits him like a glove. His last words from the cross were “my God my God why have you forsaken me?”, not “my God, are you there?”

    The “sheer modesty” that compels that crowd to listen led to the utter travesty of the Assisi prayer meeting and a photograph of an apostate “Pope” kissing a Koran. Reminds me of the phrase about being so open minded your brains fall out.

    It would be impossible to misconstrue the “cloud of unknowing” or the “dark night of the soul” more comprehensively. The apophaticism of Dionysius is just not quite the same as becoming the fellow traveller of atheists and sceptics.

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