Friday, January 29, 2010

The primacy of ethics

"Thomas of Villanova giving alms to the poor"
Image from Wikimedia Commons

This morning I happened to find, quite by accident, an article in the Alternet archives entitled "Atheism and Diversity: Is It Wrong For Atheists To Convert Believers?" and it was really the comments section that got my attention. Take a look at this:
...Edward Schillebeeckx (one of the greatest catholic scholars of the 20th century) expressed the conviction that God is simply too great for human understanding to grasp completely - which means that no human tradition will ever have the final say about who or what He/She is. This same Schillebeeckx states that the primacy within christian tradition belongs to ethics - the question whether purely human good is brought about or not. The question whether God exists or not is, within this context, actually an irrelevant one. The question is whether God happens, i.e. whether liberation, justice, compassion and love is brought about.

What I basically want to say is this: religion is much richer and more complex than the writer of this piece apparently assumes. As far as christian tradition is concerned, it is not about the existence of God but about the event of God, who is revealed in the liberation, justice, compassion and love that happen to concrete human beings.
I so agree with this. My own faith is not that God is "a" being alongside other beings but that God is Being itself. Love itself. Compassion itself. As the writer above observes, that makes all the fuss about the "existence" of God quite irrelevant.


  1. Ellie, m'dear, I think you'll appreciate what Fr. Robert Barron says in this video:

    Or just click here.


  2. Hi, Tracie. Thank you so much for this comment and for steering me toward the Fr. Barron youtube videos. I had not heard of him before. I watched a lot of them last night --- kind of pigged out! I certainly don't agree with him on a number of things (he's actually quite conservative) but he's thoughtful and very bright and very well read. I've enjoyed getting to know his work!


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