Sunday, June 29, 2014

Spirituality: A Case for God in our World

How do we make a case for God in our world? Dozens of Jesuit scholastics in the United States have had a class or two with Dr. Paul Moser, the chair in the philosophy department at Loyola University Chicago. A sharp analytic philosopher by training, Moser went through a long period of agnostic doubt about God. Like doubting Thomas in today's Gospel passage, a younger Moser was looking for more convincing evidence of God's existence and work in the world. To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, if a morally perfect God does exist, he has not given us enough evidence. Many bright, ethical people have given up on religious belief for similar reasons.

But Moser began to challenge his own assumptions about how a God worthy of worship would act, if such a God does exist. Moser's conclusion was that a God worthy of worship would not be content with easy proofs, because then we could observe God as mere spectators, like disinterested scientists in a lab. At the same time, a God worthy of worship would not co-opt the free will of those who claim God by forcing their hands to do good. Rather, this God would invite humans to become living evidence (not conclusive proof) of a good God. This invitation could only be heard by those who are disposed to listen for that interior call. The challenge is that responding to God's call requires a change of heart, such that people no longer live for themselves but for others. "Such non-coercive empowering of what we may call 'agape transformation' would aim for cooperative divine-human fellowship," that models, however imperfectly and briefly, God's morally perfect character (Paul Moser, "Evidence for God," 215). Put simply: to our modern world, the most compelling evidence for God is a life well-lived by those who claim God.