The Reasons To Belive

If I asked you today what your reasons to have faith in religion are, what would You tell me?  I know that if you asked me, I certainly would elaborate about Pascal’s Wager, the choice I make to have faith, and the logic of, essentially, betting on the winning team in respect to life after death.  There’s also a fair, non-random chance that I could talk about the essential need for something along history’s timeline to have come from what previously could only be labelled as nothing.  From my own conscience, additionally, I could go on about the fact that our focus as believers should not be so heavily focused on how we are able to have faith, but rather, that we do, when arguing for reasons to believe.  While Peter Kreeft does make a myriad of arguments for everything from the immortality of the soul to other pressing matters of religion and philosophy, I’d like to expand on a few of them, as well as some of my own takes on these discussions and commentaries.  

 

Perhaps one of the strongest reasons for why we should believe is entrenched in the causes of how we are able to in the first place.  This is the argument from conscience, as exemplified by Kreeft in the reading.  A number of viable reasons to believe can be found, if one just looks for them.  To any human equipped with a soul and conscience, the experience of life will often reveal truths to us just because we’re there.  What’s better, though, is using our conscience to search in the universe for truths, known to be out there, which are revealed as the truth because of our honest choice to seek after it.  These truths are revealed to us because we want to find them.  In this, then, it is the responsibility of human beings to seek the truth for themselves in everyday life.  This sort of mindset is what would have been adopted by figures like Aristotle, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton (ironically going against the teachings of the church at the time; and here we are talking about them in a religion essay today).  This ability of honest truth-seeking is a product of our conscience.  And, with our conscience, comes the specifically human ability to shy away from our animal instincts, in favour of this newfound conscience.  It is within humans only that we favour a mystical consciousness over doing what our animalistic desires point at us to do.  Additionally, from a Christian perspective, this honest ability to seek truth away from our instincts is tied to our ability to seek God; to seek higher degrees of perfection.  An ability thus also granted to us by our conscience is to differentiate between varying degrees of aforementioned perfection, to know that we need to seek further, because our good degree is just starting to get better. This transitions then into making our degree we see as better, into the degree fit to be described as best; as St. Jerome or Tim Duncan would have it.  Aquinas’ argument from causation and his from degree are very similar, which both insist that if X or Y exist, then therefore there must be a Z in place to serve at the apex of these arguments forefront.  X and Y interchangeably being degrees of perfection or anything with a cause, and Y being perfect perfection, or the first cause*.  However, the argument from conscience can be best summed up drawing similarities from a popular quote from modern philosopher Ludwig Littgenstein; not how we believe that is mystical; but that we do.   

 

*Terms like perfect and first cause are creative and fun nicknames for God.  

 

When answering the primary question of if something is able to come from nothing, we often trace this sequential continuity of cause and effect back to the beginning of time.  What there, in the universal void of emptiness, triggered the beginning of all things?  As Christians, we associate this first movement with God.  Which, then, paradoxically, would make God an uncaused cause; the unoriginate origin of the universe, or, by Aquinas, the First Mover.  Additionally, the laws of the universe; the likes of gravity and thermodynamics;  are signs that would insist on the existence of a universal law-maker.  All of these patterns we find in natural existence that permit us to exist imply the existence of a pattern-maker.  Aquinas’ argument from causation is thus revealed to us; if anything exists, it has a cause.  Okay, so the universe exists, knock on wood.  Who’s the big designer?  Naturally occurring mathematical phenomena like perfect squares of numbers in relation to Pythagoras’ Theorem, and the laws of entropy, I infer do not occur by pure chance, due to how predictable they are for something so naturally occurring.  From this, any natural event that occurs predictably cannot occur by pure chance from a universe of randomness.  The universe’s existence is not by random chance.  The fact that we all sit here and interact with each other; in a universe sprung from what seems like random chaos sometimes; insists that more than random chance or dumb luck is afoot.  Believing in God and living a life that reflects this belief is not something that just happens.  We have to want it, and bad.  This idea of something coming from nothing is also supportive of the existence of the human soul; something within all of us that truly can’t be pinned to a source*.  So although the belief of something being able to come from nothing is, in the end, paradoxical, it is a necessity for it to be true when seeking the truth from a Christian perspective.  

 

*Look up, ‘stuff not made of stuff.’  The first sites that will come up in Google are ones that guide buyers towards products not manufactured in China.  I thought this was pretty humorous.  Souls didn’t make the list.   

 

A strong reason for our faith is grounded in logic, with Pascal’s Wager.  The logic really is simple; if there is any sort of primordial, perfect, eternal, and omnipotent figure we meet after death, it should be our intent in life to bet on the chance, no matter how small, of eternal life.  It should be our intent in life to do that which would at least give us a chance at having a good life after death.  After all, as discussed earlier, it is absurd to insist that existence comes about by random chance.  Knowing this, how bad do we want an eternal life to live in God at the end of our physical existence?  How significantly do we want to revamp our life to one that reflects our faith in eternity?  Pascal’s wager also can be tied into practical life; why play the game if you won’t bother to win? Something I get asked a lot by skeptics about my faith is why I believe in God.  My answer is always because I choose to; I want to.  My response to the challenge of proving God’s existence usually ends with the skeptic in ignorant frustration upon being challenged to prove He does not exist.  Not to say I’ve done a perfect job at converting the world to Christianity, but I’ve yet to admit defeat against a skeptic.  My reason, of course, for answering the way I do to the demands of the skeptics is simply because I take Pascal’s Wager.  I bet on winning.  I may be wrong, but I have not met anyone yet that can prove it.  

 

A compelling idea for the validity of these arguments is in that Christ is in himself infallible.  Supportive evidence in overwhelming favour for the existence of something beyond our mortal lives is the existence of our conscience, and in thus our means by which we seek God.  Kreeft’s argument from design insists that so much as the existence of the universe as we know it is evidence that points towards the existence of God.  By my own choice in faith, I take Pascal’s Wager because I care to bet on what I believe is the most favourable possible outcome for my life post-morality wise.  When one really examines their faith, and the reasons for being faithful, these reasons are often observable truths that reveal, or at least insist the existence of God.  

 

Social 20 – Source Analysis Written Response

To What Extent Should Nation be the Foundation of Identity?

Source 1 –

Souce 2 –

Source 3 –

“We need to be loyal to one country as far as your citizenship.  Your heart can be where you were born, but the commitment to Canada has to be strong and I think dual citizenship weakens that.”

Source 1 – Split between the Canadian maple leaf and Quebecois fleurs-de-lis.

Instantly upon analysis of the source, one can see that it is a split symbol of a red Maple Leaf, as seen on the federal Canadian flag, and the blue fleurs-de-lis as would be seen on the Quebec provincial flag.  The source literally shows a division between not only Quebecois versus federal Canadian symbolism but also brings forth the notably conflicting identities of Quebec and the rest of Canada.  The source certainly speaks to the centuries of the somewhat existential crisis among those in the Quebecois demographic.  The source speaks to the divisive history of Canada; the struggle between the contending nationalist loyalties of Canadian federalists and Quebec sovereigntists.  The source relates back to nationalism significantly; namely ethnic, linguistic, cultural nationalism, and these corresponding loyalties.  The source directly references the stark contrast in ideology and nationalistic practice between the Quebecois and mother country.  While Canadian citizens would certainly like to see themselves as a perfectly united federation that gets along all fine and dandy despite our differences, this notion really is not what it chuckles itself up to be.  As such, however, people will often realize that, yes, we are a civilized populace, but we do have conflicting loyalties, identities, languages, and ideas that have led to divisive policy and violence in our past.  

Source 2 – Trudeau v Lougheed for oil pricing.  

Again, this source jumps out as one that obviously uses not only the stereotypical game of hockey to represent competition, but also the clever use of labeling to convey that there’s more to this illustration than a mean-eyed faceoff.  The source is speaking to the fiasco surrounding the NEP, production & pricing of Alberta oil, and the adverse loyalties between former PM Pierre Trudeau and former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed.  The big conflict of interests began with the founding of the National Energy Policy by Pierre Trudeau’s federal government; a policy designed to protect Canadians from rising international oil & gas prices by making a push towards making Canada a country self-sufficient in regards to its energy needs.  However, this ended up doing more harm for Alberta than good for much elsewhere.  The policy was made with little consultation from the Albertan government, and as such, angered the general public.  With the founding of this policy, one can understand where Trudeau was coming from with his loyalty to Canada as a whole and wanting his country to be better off.  One can equally sympathize with Lougheed feeling backstabbed, as the government one would promise unwavering loyalty to rewarding this with essentially exploiting you.  Feels pretty bad.  This stark contrast in practices would stem from their contending loyalties of that from a specific geographical region to the loyalties of one meant to serve the whole country.  To put it another way, it was a contrast between serving Canada and serving Alberta.  Competing loyalties between regional and national, as well as economic and internationally related matters, are eventually what made this policy flop.  

Source 3 – Quotation about dual citizenship 

The third source is a quotation that speaks in regards to dual citizenship, and how this relates to regional or national loyalties.  The source does seem, however, to border on favouring the loyalty to Canada as superior to the loyalty to any other.  While this seems rooted in logic, the source really tries to make a statement against having any loyalty to contend with Canada; makes a statement, indirectly, that being Canadian is automatically superior to the nationality of any other country.  There is a slight problem with this of course, in that it borders on extremism, and discourages diverse national identity.  This discouragement of multinational identity is what one would see popularized among figures like Stalin or Hitler, or in the infamous residential school system of Canadian history.  The source would also appear to be misguided, as one could infer that from multiple national identities among being Canadian, would not this only affirm Canada’s reputation for being pluralistic; affirm our own national identity by accepting those of others?  Furthermore, the phrase “commitment to Canada” is rather vague, and further makes it obvious the ignorant nature and misguidance of this source.  Based on the topic, though, this demanding ideal of committing all of your loyalties to just Canada borders on assimilation.  So, yes, while the source has the intention of wanting one’s nationalist loyalties ground in Canada, it really would serve only to falter our own national identity if adapted on a large scale.  

To what extent should nation be the foundation of identity?

All three of the above sources speak to the concept of nationalism, especially different types of it, and how this broad blanket term applies to our ways of life and identities as Canadians.  Sources 1 and 2 most distinctly speak to nationalist loyalties competing with other loyalties; namely those to a specific region or ethnic identity.  The first and third sources are similar in that source three would support the division and alienation of some identities as seen with the push for separatism in Quebec throughout history.  Similarly, the third source would also stand against the motives of Peter Lougheed, and stand in favour of loyalties towards Canada as a whole.  Sources 2 and 3 both seem to insist a resolution is needed to the apparent problem of loyalties that contend with Canadian nationalism; bethem regional or multinational.  

To answer the question though, nation should be the foundation of one’s identity proportional to the pride and loyalty one has to their nation.  Logically, people won’t choose to have their nation as a significant contributor to their individual identity if they have no passion or mindset geared to the set country.  From source 1, if one’s nation is that of the Francophone population of Quebec, then striving to keep Quebecois culture and language alive would likely take precedence; leaving a large part of one’s foundational identity as nation.  Similarly, if one such as Peter Lougheed identifies with a nation of sorts in the people of Alberta, then his identity and life choices will reflect as such.