Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
June 9, 2008
True faith needed in a world of false gods
A recent Harris-Decima survey for The Canadian Press asked Canadians whether they believe in "a god." This is a different question than the more traditional, "Do you believe in God?" A better question would be, "Which god/God do you believe in?"
As it is, 23 per cent said they do not believe in a god, while 72 per cent said they do believe in a god. It may sound presumptuous to say so, but the 23 per cent gave the wrong answer.
Our only real choice is whether to believe in the true God or in a false god. We live in a polytheistic society and the gods are many. There is the god of work, the god of pleasure and comfort, the god of money, the god of golf, the god of sex, the god of the belly, the god of family, etc. To deny that you believe in a god is to fool yourself. Look at how you spend your time and money and you will see what god you believe in.
Richard Dawkins and the so-called new atheists say they believe in no god. But they worship at the temple of unbridled reason. It is a shrivelled-up, pathetic god, but it is a god nonetheless.
The true God will lead us to fullness of life, but worship of any of these false gods will make us less than fully human. Such worship undermines our dignity as children of God.
As for the 72 per cent who say they do believe in a god, they may not believe in the god they think they do. All of us have our own idolatrous penchants. But beyond that, another question arises. Why do only a third of Canadians attend a religious service at least once a month if 72 per cent do believe in "a god"?
If one believes in a passionate, loving God who is vitally concerned about our destiny and about us, how could one avoid bowing down and worshipping that God at every opportunity?
Anglican Bishop Tom Wright maintains that the god most people believe in today is similar to the distant, remote and uncaring gods of Greek and Roman mythology. "They enjoyed a state of perfect bliss, no doubt; but they never got their hands dirty by caring for, or being active within, the world in which we humans live.
"It's not surprising that people who believe in the existence of that sort of god don't go to church, except now and then. It's hardly worth getting out of bed for a god like that."
The god you believe in will organize your life for you. Okay, the god won't do it - you will do your own organizing on the basis of who or what you worship.
That is why Archbishop Richard Smith's new evangelization process Nothing More Beautiful is of such importance. The archbishop wants us to deepen our awareness of God and of our relationship with him. We need to worship the true God, the one who created the human person and saved us through the incarnation, cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The beauty of the God who is both beyond all knowing and also our friend must seize us. We must be renewed in the love and knowledge of Our Lord so that we can make Jesus known in our day as the apostles did in another polytheistic society.
If we worship the loving, passionate God who pitched his tent among us, several things will follow - an attachment to the Church which is the mystery of communion in Christ, a yearning to live a graced and virtuous life in the Holy Spirit, a desire to witness to others the truth of a loving God. There is also the duty to make good use of created things and a trust in God in all circumstances. Above all, there is praise and thanksgiving.
"There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ," Pope Benedict said in his inaugural homily. Faith in the loving God is a beautiful thing. All of us need to know that and to live it much better. Doing so will lead us away from the false gods. It will also enable us to live richer, more fulfilled lives.
- Glen Argan
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.