Why Do We Believe? | Stephen J. Morrissey | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
The dynamics of Catholic faith-building are thus severely attacked today by many in the sciences who quite glibly point out that the evidence of science trumps the evidence of religion.
The Year of Faith is a most appropriate time to address a significant problem that many Catholics wrestle with: Why do we believe in a beneficent God and the doctrines of the Catholic Church? “Faith” is the common response to that question, but faith in what? What is the evidence upon which that faith rests, and is it reliable? Does the Church ask for blind, unreasoned faith? Amidst the current onslaught of atheistic claims that the “hard” evidence from science has solved the mystery of the universe’s origin and that God had nothing to do with it, the challenge before us is whether Catholics are clinging to outmoded thoughts, lingering from a primitive past, with no provable evidence.
Even if these challenges do not lead to an outright rejection of religious belief among the faithful, their constant assertions in the culture certainly engender doubt and indifference among many. They probably account for much of the notoriously large number of Catholic adults, especially the younger ones, who no longer practice their faith.
The dynamics of Catholic faith-building are thus severely attacked today by many in the sciences who quite glibly point out that the evidence of science trumps the evidence of religion. At a time when the hard evidence of “wonder science” is increasingly seen as supporting atheism, and obviating the “delusions” of religion, people will naturally question the “softer” evidential foundations of Catholic faith.
Therefore, it is essential to remind people, now and then, of the genius of the human mind for wrapping itself around abstract, philosophical evidence to arrive at truth.
We are physical, sensing creatures, and so to prove something, we naturally opt for hard physical evidence when we can get it. It is usually clear and inarguable. Consider that in a court of law, murder suspects are rarely found guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence, but rather on direct, physical evidence such as surveillance camera photos, tape recordings, eye witness reports, signed confessions, DNA samples, fingerprints, a murder weapon, a dead body. Therefore, theories, pre-conceived notions, innuendoes, hunches, hearsay, and philosophy have no place here.
But, we are also thinking, reasoning human beings. It is the human mind that has historically kept humanity from extinction. Given the proven capabilities of this brain, and the immateriality of religious issues, wouldn’t use of intellectual, philosophical evidence alone have the advantage over physical data in the search for God? This is the central issue here: the nature of the evidence for God. If we rely solely on empirical evidence—as atheism would have us do—then, we will never find God, and never honor the real superiority of the human mind.