Friday, 25 June 2010
Does ingenious man need God?
Father Ignatius approached the pulpit and waited until the congregation had settled down before speaking.
“I was reading the other day about Isambard Kingdom Brunel. As you may know, he was a leading British civil engineer who lived in the 1800s. He was famous for building many bridges, tunnels, dockyards and of course the Great Western Railway … our first major railway. He also built steamships including the first propeller-driven ocean going iron ship.
“When I read about famous people like Brunel I never cease to be amazed about the ingenuity of man.
“And of course … the ingenuity of women too.
“Mrs Davenport, our housekeeper, can create an outstanding meal which would make even Brunel envious … I tell you.”
Mrs Davenport, sitting upfront, smiled coyly.
“The point I am trying to make here,” continued Father Ignatius, “is that mankind is very inventive in every sphere of life … engineering, construction, medicine, the arts such as music and the theatre and almost everything we set our mind to.
“And with our ingenuity comes satisfaction for what we have done, a little bit of well deserved pride perhaps, and encouragement to others to pick up what we have done and take it even further and progress it for the benefit of mankind in general …
“Certainly nothing wrong with that …
“Until the devil steps in …”
Father Ignatius paused for a while.
“And when the devil steps in, man thinks he is too clever by half. After all if we can build bridges, and tunnels and ships and planes, if we can gaze at the stars and planets and learn all sort of things from them, if we can heal all sorts of illnesses and study every aspect of life and genetics to the point of Creation itself. We become self-important to the point where we no longer need God.
“Or at least that’s what we think …
“How often do you read in the papers about famous scientists who proclaim in all certainty that God doesn’t exist? After all, these learned men have made many an important discovery and no doubt the world owes them much. So they are listened to and their pronouncements, on matters they know nothing about, are taken as gospel, if you’ll pardon the pun, and revered by one and all.
“As I said, the devil steps in and fills man’s mind with false self-importance. It reminds you of the serpent who said to Adam and Eve that if they eat the fruit of the forbidden tree they would be like God. And they fell for his trick, as many do right now in their mistaken beliefs and self-importance.”
The priest stopped once again to allow the congregation to think about his warnings.
“I often visit the local hospital,” he continued, “and I got to know a famous doctor there. He is not a Catholic, but he goes to church all the same … he watches a different TV channel shall we say …”
The congregation laughed.
“We got talking the other day about religion,” continued Father Ignatius, “and I asked him how he reconciled his vast scientific and medical knowledge to his Faith as a Christian.
“He replied that his job was no different than a car mechanic’s.
“He had learnt over the years how different parts of the body work and function and how to fix them when they sometimes go wrong. Just like a mechanic follows the manufacturer’s instructions when he fixes or maintains a car, so does this doctor do the same.
“But then he added, ‘however, unlike a car mechanic, I do not have the full blue-print designs and instructions to work from … the manufacturer in my case, God the Creator, has decided to leave some things secret from us so that we never know about life and how it was created … just as well I suppose … or else we’d make a mess of that too!’
“So you see … no matter how clever we may become, no matter how ingenious and resourceful … there will always be matters that the Good Lord, in His wisdom, will keep secret from us.
“Pretentious and conceited we may well be; but not half as clever and almighty as He.”