In one of my more adventuresome forays into the world of Internet space, I happened to stumble onto a site called Quora.com. Interesting site where people give questions and invite others to answer. There is a wide diversity of questions, but those Atheists question the existence of God because there is no.
“proof” caught my eye. I no longer go to this website, not because it is not interesting. It is fascinating. Rather, it is like the Mirror of Erisade in the Harry Potter Films. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck4Bk6SKO7o
Many people, obviously those who only believe in the visible reality and some dimensions of the invisible one, demand proof. They assume that the proof they seek is scientific proof, whatever that is, to SHOW them that God exists. It is very much similar to the archetypal encounter of Christ with Thomas. This is the classic dilemma: “I need to see it to believe it.” In truth, we humans have to see it to believe it, even atheists, agnostics, and even most Catholics. We demand a sign or a miracle to know what we believe is objectively true. Scripture has mentioned these signs. Measure that against the modern mantra of relativism that touts that everyone has the right to their opinion, so your opinion must be the truth or right.
I respect those atheists and agnostics for their tenacity to think something does not exist because it can’t be scientifically proven (to their satisfaction). In this context of mixed metaphors and shady logic, I had a Lectio Divina meditation (Philippians 2:5) questioning my belief. (Guess where that originated?)
The Demand for a Sign.*
38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher,* we wish to see a sign from you.”u
39He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful* generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
40Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,* so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
41* At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here.
42At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.vhttps://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/12
1* a The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven.
2* He said to them in reply, “[In the evening you say, ‘Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red’;
3b and, in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.]
4c An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”* Then he left them and went away.https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/16
My observations about the sign of Jonah are ones of contradiction. You must die to yourself to rise to new life in Christ. At the core of what is true is not what you believe (the assent of the will to something outside yourself). Complicating truth is that because the key to making sense out of all of this is to apply The Christ Principle to life’s challenges, the answer we need to use is the opposite of what the world tells us is accurate. It sets the stage to examine one of the most controversial topics: “Who determines what is true?” I find this interesting because of my experience with Christ as The Way, The Truth, and the Life. I do not seek to prove to others that I need to prove anything about my approach to reality. Here are some of my assumptions about objective and subjective truth.
1* “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith* in God; have faith also in me.
2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
3* And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.a
4Where [I] am going you know the way.”*
5Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
6Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.b
7If you know me, then you will also know my Father.* From now on you do know him and have seen him.”c
8Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father,* and that will be enough for us.”d
9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?e
10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.f
11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.g
12Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.h
13And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.i
14If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.j
16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate* to be with you always,k
17the Spirit of truth,* which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.l
18I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.*
19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.m
20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.n
21Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”o
22Judas, not the Iscariot,* said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”p
23Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.q
24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.
25“I have told you this while I am with you.
26The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.r
27Peace* I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.s
28* You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’t If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
29And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.u
30I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world* is coming. He has no power over me,
31but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.vhttps://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/14
So, how can humans know anything true when only God is Truth personified? He shares his divinity through, with, and in Jesus Christ, our Messiah, who not only tells us (The Old Testament) but shows us (The New Testament) and tell us to love other as He has loved us. We love Christ as he loved us by sharing without judgment or conditions this truth with those who hate us, with those who persecute us, and even with those who are one with us in Baptism and Eucharist.
If someone tells me, “That’s just your opinion,” I respond, “Whose else would it be?” I find that Satan challenges me every day to give in to the three temptations that he gave to Christ (types of those challenges that stalk us as we traverse the path of righteousness in the midst of what the world professes is objective thinking and proof. Those values humans must try to acquire don’t need proof; they need Christ and the Holy Spirit to sustain us as we trod through the minefield we call existence.
I don’t want a God who stands far off in a realm I cannot even think objectively about or reach in my lifetime. I want a God who says, “I shared with you the essence of who I am as you can understand it, but you must work for it. I want a God who wants me to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father and give of his divinity (Philippians 2:5-12) to take on the foibles of our humanity to show us the way, what is accurate, and what the life we must lead as adopted sons and daughters. We are not orphans of our humanity. The world cannot give us what we need to call Jesus Messiah or Abba (Father) or Come Holy Spirit; fill our hearts with your love, as we can receive it (capacitas dei).
THE FIVE FILTERS OF FAITH
Here are five filters I use to determine objective truth (while I live on earth). Again, my assumption is that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and my approach as a Catholic is the truth.
I am not just giving my opinion, which would indeed be just my opinion. I am making a choice of my will that the words of Christ are valid. There are many false teachers out there, and part of my ongoing discernment is to know which are true and which are not. The Christ Principle is the key, and here are the filters I use to know if my thoughts align with Christ’s.
FILTER ONE: The unbroken chair of how people in each age perceive Jesus. I only lived seventy or eighty years (actually, 82, so far), but I need an unbroken core of beliefs from the time of the Apostles and Pentecost to now. It must have scars and cuts on its way down through the centuries, some from popes, bishops, kings, princes, and those seeking reform by changing the core message. I don’t want to belong to a Church that has not battled Satan for twenty centuries and has no battle scars to prove it. My Church is composed of sinners, some of whom are elevated to Sainthood as examples of how they “…had in themselves in the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).
FILTER TWO: The sign of contradiction. Sometimes I think Jesus was out of his mind to choose humans to carry on the words that set us free from animality and rationality. Peter was the least likely to lead a Church as unformed and unsure of its purpose. What developed were collections of those who gathered in the name of the Lord to profess their Faith in, with, and through Christ in the Eucharistic celebration of the victory of the Resurrection. The Holy Spirit is with us, individually and collectively, those whose heritage of Faith is consistent back to the Apostles. All but one Apostle (John) was martyred. The first sixty Popes were martyrs for their beliefs. The price of discipleship is to die to yourself each day to place Christ as the center of your life. It is difficult to do and takes work.
FILTER THREE: The immutable direction of Tradition. Scripture has primacy in how I look at the truth. What exists between the cracks is Tradition, the lived choices of the Church as it wobbles down the centuries, trying to have in itself the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5) When I speak of Tradition, I mean the application of the Christ Principle in each age. Tradition does not move from 2022 back to Apostolic time but rather only from The Spirit of Truth (Pentecost) forward. As the Church careens down the ages, it takes unto itself that which is authentic but also those times it went off the path and followed The Golden Calf only to swerve again. Those who begin their religions after Aposoltic times have neither the Tradition (application of the Gospel to their issues) nor the accumulation of teachings about what the Gospel means and how to address current issues of the age to make them authentic.
FILTER FOUR — What is true now must have been true in the time of the Apostles and down through the centuries.
FILTER FIVE — What I believe must have been authorized down the gauntlet of time through the Ecumenical Councils.
When the Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit protecting the Church (not from the error of human judgment or infallibility), it refers to the Spirit of Truth coming down to energize sinful humans with tongues of fire to keep Christ as its center.