Pope Francis to Atheists and Believers, “Do good: we will meet one another there.”

Where do Atheists and Believers meet? According to Pope Francis, in doing good. From his daily Mass homily on May 22, 2013, as translated by Vatican Radio.

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Pope Francis, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.

“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”

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Playing at Atheism

The Prince in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot is asked about faith and responds:

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As to faith… One morning I met a man in the train, and made acquaintance with him at once. I had often heard of him as a very learned man, but an atheist; and I was very glad of the opportunity of conversing with so eminent and clever a person. He doesn’t believe in God, and he talked a good deal about it, but all the while it appeared to me that he was speaking outside the subject. And it has always struck me, both in speaking to such men and in reading their books, that they do not seem really to be touching on that at all, though on the surface they may appear to do so.

The same is true throughout history, for there are many people who play at atheism, but dance around the heart of the matter, or as Dostoyesky says, “speak outside the subject”.

It is easy enough to appeal to science and reason (with the prejudiced but unproven idea that it is opposed to faith) and declare that God does not exist. But it is much harder to address the core issues: free will, self awareness, the mind (and dare we say soul?), existence, the problem of evil and suffering, and love.

The Prince then speaks of the essence of the Christian message:

Well, I went homewards, and near the hotel I came across a poor woman, carrying a child— a baby of some six weeks old. The mother was quite a girl herself. The baby was smiling up at her, for the first time in its life, just at that moment; and while I watched the woman she suddenly crossed herself, oh, so devoutly! ‘What is it, my good woman I asked her. (I was never but asking questions then!) Exactly as is a mother’s joy when her baby smiles for the first time into her eyes, so is God’s joy when one of His children turns and prays to Him for the first time, with all his heart!’ This is what that poor woman said to me, almost word for word; and such a deep, refined, truly religious thought it was— a thought in which the whole essence of Christianity was expressed in one flash— that is, the recognition of God as our Father, and of God’s joy in men as His own children, which is the chief idea of Christ. She was a simple country-woman— a mother, it’s true— and perhaps, who knows, she may have been the wife of the drunken soldier!

Here’s a modern example of “playing at atheism” – creating and attacking a strawman God who acts irrationally, throw about a few emotive words about love, and declare oneself an enlightened atheist:

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Doestoevsky has the Prince conclude:

The essence of religious feeling has nothing to do with reason, or atheism, or crime, or acts of any kind— it has nothing to do with these things— and never had. There is something besides all this, something which the arguments of the atheists can never touch.

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Pope Francis on Atheism: every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not.

Jorge Bergoglio
From (now Pope Francis) Cardinal Bergoglio’s 2010 book On Heaven and Earth, now available in English.

When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; I respect him and I show myself as I am. Where there is knowledge, there begins to appear esteem, affection, and friendship. I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.

At any rate, I know more agnostic people than atheists; the first are more uncertain, the second are more convinced. We have to be coherent with the message that we receive from the Bible: every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not. For that reason alone everyone has a series of virtues, qualities, and a greatness of his own. If he has some vileness, as I do, we can share that in order to mutually help one another and overcome it.

Read more here.

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Peter Kreeft: God or Atheism — Which Is More Rational?

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Shroud of Turin Dated to 1st Century

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New scientific experiments carried out at the University of Padua have apparently confirmed that the Shroud Turin can be dated back to the 1st century AD. This makes its compatible with the tradition which claims that the cloth with the image of the crucified man imprinted on it is the very one Jesus’ body was wrapped in when he was taken off the cross…

The new tests carried out in the University of Padua labs were carried out by a number of university professors from various Italian universities and agree that the Shroud dates back to the period when Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem. Final results show that the Shroud fibres examined produced the following dates, all of which are 95% certain and centuries away from the medieval dating obtained with Carbon-14 testing in 1988: the dates given to the Shroud after FT-IR testing, is 300 BC ±400, 200 BC ±500 after Raman testing and 400 AD ±400 after multi-parametric mechanical testing. The average of all three dates is 33 BC ±250 years. The book’s authors observed that the uncertainty of this date is less than the single uncertainties and the date is compatible with the historic date of Jesus’ death on the cross, which historians claim occurred in 30 AD.

Read full article.

Another article.

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Scientists predict calamity as “fiery comet” approaches

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Comet Pan-STARRS is now visible on the western horizon just after sunset in the Northern hemisphere. A search of the headlines finds this:

A hairy and fiery comet having then made its appearance for several days, as the mathematicians declared that there would follow a grievous pestilence, dearth and some great calamity

So reports Bartolomeo Platinus… in 1465… recalling the approach of Halley’s Comet in 1456.

Many times in history, Comets have been taken as an omen, and with the election of the new Pope in the news, one wonders.

But the passage of Halley’s comet in 1456 created headlines, not for the “mathemeticians” who predicted “grievious pestilence, death and some great calamity“, but for the Pope of the time, Callistus III. And not at the time, but centuries later. The quote from Platinus continues:

Callistus, to avert the wrath of God ordered supplications, that if evils were impending for the human race, He would turn all upon the Turks, the enemies of the Christian name. He likewise ordered, to move God by continual entreaty, that notice should be given by the bells to all the faithful, at mid-day, to aid by their prayers those engaged in battle with the Turk.

Somehow, these two reports, the appearance of Halley’s comet and the decree of Pope Callistus III for the faithful to pray during a time of Crusades, became conflated, and the popular narrative that “The Pope excommunicated Halley’s comet!” became the headline.

Though repeatedly debunked, even in popular scientific journals in the time of the 1910 appearance of Halley’s comet, even the popular astronomer Carl Sagan repeated the story as fact, ironically trying to show how other people can be gullible. And as the new 2013 Year of Comets begins, the story is still repeated.

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Dostoevsky: Man Can Live Without Science

dostoevsky-cropDostoevsky, quoted by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2009 Meeting with Artists:

“Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.”

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