09/12/2006, 00.00
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Pope: Science seeks vainly to make God unnecessary in the universe and our lives

Benedict XVI talked about faith in God the Creator, who is "Goodness and Love". Hatred and fanaticism are "pathologies" of religion. The "fear of God", at the origin of modern atheism, features in thoughts about judgement, which is above all rendering justice to those who have suffered.

Regensburg (AsiaNews) – At least in part, science has vainly sought to make God unnecessary in the universe and hence to man himself. But, when we exclude God, "something doesn't add up". On the fourth day of his visit to Germany, Benedict XVI talked again about faith to 250,000 festive people on the esplanade of Islinger Feld of Regensburg, a city especially dear to Ratzinger as a scholar. The pope explained how faith ultimately means believing that God is the beginning and the end of everything. He is the "Creative Reason, the Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth", including man. "Knowing God", seeking his face – a recurring theme in the ruminations of the theologian pope – excludes fear, which is rather at the origin of modern atheism. Nor has it any place in considering Judgement, which is the "dissolution" of injustice.

The pope's was a complex address. In the city where for long years he was a university lecturer, he illustrated the Creed. "We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part. But is such a thing still possible today? Is it reasonable? From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary. And if this were so, he would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success - inevitably it would become clear: something is missing from the equation! When God is subtracted, something doesn't add up for man, the world, the whole vast universe."

The pope did not make direct reference to the age-old controversy between evolution and creation but noted that "we end up with two alternatives. What came first? Creative Reason, the Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason. The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally meaningless. As Christians, we say: 'I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth' - I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason."

He repeated: "We believe in God", but asked: "in what God? Certainly we believe in the God who is Creator Spirit, creative Reason, the source of everything that exists, including ourselves. The second section of the Creed tells us more. This creative Reason is Goodness, it is Love. It has a face. God does not leave us groping in the dark. He has shown himself to us as a man. In his greatness he has let himself become small. 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father', Jesus says (Jn 14:9). God has taken on a human face. He has loved us even to the point of letting himself be nailed to the Cross for our sake, in order to bring the sufferings of mankind to the very heart of God. Today, when we have learned to recognize the pathologies and the life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason, and the ways that God's image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism, it is important to state clearly the God in whom we believe, and to proclaim confidently that this God has a human face. Only this can free us from being afraid of God - which is ultimately at the root of modern atheism. Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life."

The pope continued: "The second section of the Creed ends by speaking of the last judgement and the third section by speaking of the resurrection of the dead. Judgement - doesn't this word also make us afraid? On the other hand, doesn't everyone want to see justice eventually rendered to all those who were unjustly condemned, to all those who suffered in life, who died after lives full of pain? Don't we want the outrageous injustice and suffering which we see in human history to be finally undone, so that in the end everyone will find happiness, and everything will be shown to have meaning? This triumph of justice, this joining together of the many fragments of history which seem meaningless and giving them their place in a bigger picture in which truth and love prevail: this is what is meant by the concept of universal judgement. Faith is not meant to instil fear; rather it is meant - surely - to call us to accountability. We are not meant to waste our lives, misuse them, or spend them selfishly. In the face of injustice we must not remain indifferent and thus end up as silent collaborators or outright accomplices. We need to recognize our mission in history and to strive to carry it out. What is needed is not fear, but responsibility - responsibility and concern for our own salvation, and for the salvation of the whole world. But when responsibility and concern tend to bring on fear, then we should remember the words of Saint John: "My little ones, I am writing this to keep you from sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one" (1 Jn 2:1). No matter what our hearts may charge us with - God is greater than our hearts and all is known to him" (1 Jn 3:20)."

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