By happy God-incidence, on the anniversary of the death of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teacher, we read at Mass from the book of Wisdom. About how the beauty of creation demonstrates the even-greater, unseen beauty of the Creator.
Two quick points on this:
1. Many skeptics and atheists argue that the world does not show forth the hidden glory of the Creator, because the world abounds with evil. We concede: Yes, this world, though fundamentally beautiful, does indeed abound with evil. We answer: Evil entered God’s good creation because of the moral failure of angels and mankind.
To which the clever atheist replies: ‘Hold on. We cannot chalk all the evil in the world up to moral faults. What about: Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes? Lions eat gazelles. Alligators eat defenseless deer fawns trying to get a drink of water. What kind of beautiful, kind God would make a world in which foxes eat cute, little peacock chicks?’
I think we have all heard these kinds of rhetorical questions. This kind of attack on God’s existence tries to paint our faith as naïve sentimentalism.
But who exactly falls into naïve sentimentalism here? After all, only we human beings reckon even this physical evil of nature as categorically evil.
I’m not saying that the gazelle wouldn’t prefer to survive, rather than serve as dinner for the lion; I’m not saying the gazelle sings an interior hymn to God, praising Him for the chance to serve in the food chain, at the very moment when the lion’s fangs crush his neck.
No, I’m not saying that. But: the gazelle does not question the whole business as a matter of good vs. evil. The gazelle does not fit his demise into the grand scheme of things.
So to say that physical evil proves that God does not exist, or that He’s mean—that actually requires unscientific sentimentality. A genuine scientist would acknowledge that my personal aesthetics regarding the climate or the food chain cannot stand in judgment over anything. A fawn dying in an alligator’s mouth seems sad to me, to be sure. But I can’t judge the order of nature based on such feelings.
2. Which brings us to the second little point. What we have considered so far shows another major flaw in the typical atheist attack on our faith in the good, beautiful God.
Now, the size of the universe, and this planet’s relative position in it: these physical facts have no bearing on what we Christians believe. But we insist that our earth is the spiritual center of the material universe.
After all, this is where the action is. God created the whole universe for our sake. We sandwich-eating, book-reading mammals on the third rock from this star. The Creator of the vast cosmos Personally became one of us, here. Which makes earth the center of the universe.
The typical atheist dismisses such a statement as naïve and sentimental. And points out that: Because there are so many galaxies out there, we little dudes and dudettes are obviously insignificant in the grand sweep of heavenly movements. The enemies of our faith even go so far as to insist that courage requires recognizing the basic meaninglessness of our obscure ant-like existence in this huge, pitiless universe.
But, again: Who’s being unscientific? From whose point-of-view does such a debate even arise? Who thinks at all about the meaning, or meaninglessness, of our existence? Do the airless planets around the stars at the far end of the Milky Way ponder these things? Hardly. And even if they did, we have to admit that we have absolutely no way of knowing anything about what they think.
In other words, for good or ill, a genuinely scientific assessment of our situation has to place us human begins at the center of the universe. Because we human beings are the only center of the universe that we can ever know. That’s the way it is, from the moment we first open our eyes.
Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! He has revealed to us that our heavenly Father sees us the same way.