Thursday, December 10, 2009

Self or God: The False Choice

Auxiliary Bishop Peter Rosazza of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut was interviewed recently on the Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut Public Radio. (Check out the interview.) It was an oddly entertaining encounter—as revealing as it was nonsensical.

First off, Bishop Rosazza is an affable figure. He engagingly interacted with the host who is self-professed in his religious skepticism. At no point did the bishop appear to be condescending, though he could not help but come across as somewhat instructive—no doubt for the benefit of the godless Mr. McEnroe. The problem the bishop had was the same one religious apologists face the world over: having to explain the inexplicable.

To every substantive question posed by the interviewer about matters of faith, God, spirituality, etc., Bishop Rosazza's responses were constructed of little more that compounded metaphors, as though he were speaking in a code only the faithful could comprehend. He didn't seem to possess the tools of articulation necessary to put forth even a modest defense of his own life of faith. Circular reasoning, ambiguous logic, and flowery ruminations were all he offered, which shouldn't surprise anyone. Many apologists amazingly find success with these tools, especially when addressing those who are more predisposed to conformity and group-think in the first place.

While acknowledging that man is indeed responsible for the condition of his fellow man, the bishop nonetheless asserts that successfully fulfilling this duty requires “faith in action.” The objectionable insinuation is that without religious faith, man is ill equipped to adequately tend to his fellow man. Scores of godless humanitarians might have something different to say on the subject.

Of particular interest was the bishop’s assertion that without God in his life, man is unalterably self-centered. In other words, by not believing in the supreme transcendence of an omnipotent and omniscient god, man is anointing himself supreme entity in all things. What other choice is there? One could easily infer from this rhetorical device that there is nothing else to put one’s “faith” in. How often it is said, We can not do it alone. About this, those who say such things are absolutely correct. We humanist skeptics understand all too well that we are powerless to manage life’s complexities on our own. We turn to a different place for answers, however. We turn to one another. We worship nothing; we worship no one. Instead, we value and respect man’s ability to strive for his own betterment by committing to that which brings out the best of his nature. This mindset not only fills our lives with meaning and purpose, it even provides a sense of worldly salvation.

The human individual—on his own—is just as impotent as any supernatural entity when it comes to conquering life’s challenges. Living, loving, and working in concert, however, man has no need to conjure an entity that serves only to condemn him for his failures.

1 comment:

  1. It still amazes me that one of my dearest friends is a 'devout' christian, but has not stepped into a church in years. And when I remind her, every so often that her and I are friends and I beleive in no godly figure. She then informs me, that I am an exception.

    Exception to what? That all non-believers are what, egotistical, worthless, non-giving, self-centered even maybe? Why are we always judged. But if one of their flock strays, they can be easily forgiven. He/she didn't mean to do it.