August 13, 2014

My Precious Devotion (Trusting God with St. Therese)

Since I relaunched this blog, I've been primarily working on building our beliefs logically from basic definitions, to arguments, and on up. I'm particular devoted to learning and teaching the faith this way. But is that how God started? No. He didn't propose and argue. He offered Himself . He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He got on first-name basis with Moses. He sent his only son, that whoever believes in him shall have eternal life.  He has offered--and continues to offer--Himself personally.

What does God ask? He asks what anyone offering themselves asks, what anyone seeking a personal relationship asks.  He asks us to trust Him, and because He is God, we can trust Him completely.


Is there anything wrong with arguing logically for God? Of course not. God wants our heads, but he wants our hearts more. One may know God intellectually but reject Him. If one loves God an follows Him, he will be saved regardless of how much or how little theology he knows.

In her book, Trusting God with St. Therese, Connie Rossini points out so well how "(o)ur precious devotions can become a hindrance, preventing us from being humble." That's true about devotions to a particular prayer or saint or spirituality. It's true, as well, of apologetics and catechesis.

Apologists are criticized on this point sometimes. I think, for example, of Dr. William Lane Craig, who has been publicly criticized for admitting that he believes in God because of an internal movement of the Spirit--not because of his own apologetics. Yet that is perfectly consistent with the God we believe in. God wants our trust. He wants us to let Him in. To adapt a line from Trusting God with St. Therese, we may win over minds with our arguments, but He must win over our hearts.

If we become convinced that our line of reasoning is the only way to truly understand, or that our way of teaching is the single best, we may find ourselves led into sin. In chapter 5 of Trusting God, we consider the Pharisees' strict observances and self-righteousness. "We might take optional devotions, spiritualities, or traditions and judge others by whether they follow them."  Trust in God must extend to trusting His will and work in the lives of others. If they learn or pray or understand in a different way, there may be nothing wrong.

Likewise, we must extend that trust to trust in God's work in ourselves. We can create our own "optional" practices that become anything but. The author discusses St. Therese's discoveries, by God's grace, as well as her own; they give us examples of how others have received the grace of God to let "good" things go whenever they become hindrances. "It was still a burden," she writes of her own experience, "But I could carry it now without resentment because Jesus carried it with me."  That is the trust St. Therese found and the trust Connie Rossini encourages in her book.



She has many tales to share, both from St. Therese's life and her own, and along the way, much wisdom from the great little saint that is surprisingly, and sometimes awfully, timely. I encourage you to read Trusting God with St. Therese with an open heart.

I'm a teacher at heart, so the inclusion of review questions and activities particularly endears the book to me. These, however, aren't the typical (and much less useful) "did you do the reading?" questions. These questions and activities bring the point of each chapter home to your own life, and I recommend slowly working through them as you go.

You can get a free chapter by subscribing at ContemplativeHomeschool.com, and read her free e-book 5 Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life

Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sacrifice_of_Isaac-Caravaggio_%28Uffizi%29.jpg

August 03, 2014

Cosmological Arguments: Modern Physics

In the last post, we considered the category of Cosmological Arguments and the Kalam Cosmological Argument in particular. Cosmological arguments have to do with the cosmos--the universe as a whole--so when we learn more about the universe, we learn more to support (or refute) these arguments. There have been many talks, articles, and other resources created recently on just this topic.

One excellent free resource is the 12-part series "God and Modern Physics" from the Magis Center of Reason and Faith. Here is a full list of the modules:
  1. What can science tell us about creation and design?
  2. The Big Bang Theory and the parameters of our universe
  3. Evidence for the Standard Big Bang Model
  4. Can a beginning of the universe be proved?
  5. And how can it indicate a beginning of the universe?
  6. Evidence of a beginning of the universe from the Law of Entropy
  7. Evidence of a beginning of the universe from spacetime geometry
  8. Evidence of a beginning of the universe from the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem
  9. Evidence of supernatural design from low entropy at the big bang
  10. Evidence of supernatural design from the anthropic values of our universe's constants
  11. How can the anthropic values of our universe's constants be explained?
  12. Creation according to physics and the Bible - Is there really a contradiction?
Lately, Karlo Broussard has been posting videos for the Magis Center.  I find that they're more informative and understandable if you're already familiar with the content of the 12-part series above. Among these short videos, he answers some Questions Concerning the BVG Theorem (What if physicists discovered particles that can travel faster than the speed of light? Must there be an upper limit to velocity?) He also answers the question How Does the Law of Entropy Disprove an Eternal Bouncing Universe?

For another presentation of these ideas, consider Dr. Jay Richards' talk on Three Signs of Design from Physics & Astronomy. He also presents perfect eclipses as an example of how the world seems designed for us to discover things.

Dr. William Lane Craig also covers some of this ground in an article on Contemporary Cosmology and the Beginning of the Universe. In particular, he addresses a concern that the standard model of the Big Bang no longer includes a singularity.