Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Time to be less abstract...

Over the past two weeks, my intellect has been hyper-driving through articles and videos about the existence of God, Aquinas, Science and Religion, Faith and Reason...

At the end of the day, as I try to lay my spinning mind to rest, I realize I didn't get very far in pursuing answers. For example, I spent two and a half hours yesterday plowing through articles for and against Aquinas' proofs and faith and reason. And, I seriously got nowhere, except confused in my thinking and re-thinking. I took this frustration with me to Mass and was kindly reminded that in pursuing answers, I had left the most important resource in the dust, namely, my experiences.

There is a certain danger with ideas. They can become lofty and detached from the reality in which I live. And so, these ideas swiftly become abstract notions buzzing aimlessly around my mind like a swarm of bees. This is not good. It is actually quite annoying. If any of you have ever spent a long time thinking about a great mystery, you probably know the feeling.

So, onto the level of experience...

Nobody in our program has been able to escape this, even if you are a Moeller rival. The death of Josh Pflum is tough to face. The guys I know who attend Moeller are hurting. When my wife and I found out about his death on Saturday after Mass, we drove home in disbelief.

I really didn't want to believe it.

At that point, I didn't know any details. But, as I learned them, as the evidence of the accident was placed before me, I had to face it...just as the boys at Moeller, those guys who are so involved in our program, must face it...and you as well.

The details are painful: Josh's mother had recently passed away, he was skateboarding to go get his younger brother (a Moeller junior) from a house down the road, he was hit by another Moeller student going the speed limit, no drugs, no alcohol. It was a pure accident.

This is really tough.

The men at Moeller want a reason as to how this could happen (as I saw on Mr. Kindt's facebook page). I want a reason for why this happened.

At Mass yesterday, I found it almost mysterious that Josh's untimely death and our Prove It! night happened on the same weekend. It's mysterious because there is something about death that proves God's existence, though I never put words to this until today.

You see, everything about the accident can be evaluated, measured, examined by science. Collisions are measurable by physics and understandable by reason. Speed. Acceleration. Stopping distance. Force. Momentum. All are scientific terms. Ways we measure things. Ways we understand the world around us through our human capacity to "reason." These are the facts about how the accident happened.

But science doesn't completely satisfy my desire for an answer here. It doesn't even come close.

Sure, science helps me wrap my mind around the event and the circumstances surrounding it, but it cannot answer the deepest questions I have about this. And if I have the capacity to desire deeper answers, there must be something that can satisfy. Every question has an answer, and as I engage in self-reflection about this accident, science's answer is very limited.

So, I can draw three reasonable conclusions from my experience:
  1. Science/reason fails to provide me with an adequate answer. It helps me understand what happened, but it cannot address the pain felt at the heart of the issue. So, pitting Science against God, or using science to say that God doesn't exist, then leaves me without explanation for this event and the hurt it has caused. For the believer in science-only, blaming God for this event is unreasonable, because he or she didn't believe in His existence prior to the event! If one places all of his or her trust in science, I have no idea where you go from here.
  2. One could blame God for the event, and distance him or herself from God, by posing questions like, "How could You do this? How is this Your will?". But to do this would be like saying God himself caused the accident to occur, like a young boy crashing his toys together. By disengaging from the basic understanding that God wills our happiness (as seen throughout Scripture, beginning in the first chapter of Genesis), and seeing God's will as a way to manipulate and destroy humanity, is to place blame on an innocent Being. I think our pain, grief, sin, death, doubt, and fear is the furthest thing from God's will.
  3. This leaves the final conclusion I can draw from this experience: hope in the only One who can make this situation right. There has only been one man in history (a fact!) who has overcome death. There is only one Person who can satisfy my desire for justice in the face of this tragic event, who can answer my deepest questions about why this had to happen.
By engaging and being aware of my experience, my faith again has been affirmed...the same challenge that was posed to all of us on Sunday night.

May all of us join in prayer for Josh's family, for the young driver who hit him, and turn to the only One who can respond to our deepest needs in time of suffering.

Eternal rest grant unto Josh, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

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