February 1, 2009

"agnosticism slips out of one's hands like a soap bubble"

Benedict XVI, from Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures: ...The true way to call agnosticism into question is to ask whether its program can be realized. Is it possible for us, as human beings, purely and simply to lay aside the question of God, that is, the question of our origin, of our final destiny, and of the measure of our existence?...

...Even if I throw in my theoretical lot with agnosticism, I am nevertheless compelled in practice to choose between two alternatives: either to live as if God did not exist or else to live as if God did exist. If I act according to the first alternative, I have in practice adopted an atheistic position and have made a hypothesis (which may also be false) the basis of my entire life...

...Let us leave this question here: it is clear that the prestige enjoyed by the agnostic solution today does not stand up to closer examination. As a pure theory, it may seem exceedingly illuminating. But in its essence, agnosticism is much more than a theory: what is at stake here is the praxis of one's life. When one attempts to "put it into practice" in one's real field of action, agnosticism slips out of one's hands like a soap bubble; it dissolves into thin air, because it is not possible to escape the very option it seeks to avoid. When faced with the question of God, man cannot permit himself to remain neutral. All he can say is Yes or No--without ever avoiding all the consequences that derive from this choice even in the smallest details of life. Accordingly, we see that the question of God is ineluctable; one is not permitted to abstain from casting one's vote...

Thanks to Macklin Horton, who adds, "...I've never heard anyone say 'I don't know whether there is a God or not, so I'm going to become a Catholic.' No, a commitment to agnosticism--as opposed to agnosticism still open to the alternative-- is a form of atheism."

Posted by John Weidner at February 1, 2009 10:13 AM
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