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Why I Love My Invisible Friend ^ | August 13, 2014 | Fr. Robert Barron

Posted on 08/14/2014 9:06:48 AM PDT by NKP_Vet

One of the favorite taunts of the New Atheists is that religious people believe in an “invisible friend.” They are implying, of course, that religion is little more than a pathetic exercise in wishful thinking, a reversion to childish patterns of projection and self-protection. It is well past time, they say, for believers to grow up, leave their cherished fantasies behind, and face the real world. In offering this characterization, the New Atheists are showing themselves to be disciples of the old atheists such as Feuerbach, Marx, Comte, and Freud, all of whom made more or less similar observations.

Well, I'm writing here to let atheists know that I think they’re right, at least about God being an invisible friend. Where they’re wrong is in supposing that surrendering to this unseen reality is de-humanizing or infantilizing. First, a word about invisibility. It is an extraordinary prejudice of post-Enlightenment Western thought that visible things, empirically verifiable objects and states of affairs, are the most obviously “real” things around. For centuries prior to the Enlightenment, some of the very brightest people that have ever lived thought precisely the opposite. Most famously, Plato felt that the empirical world is evanescent and contingent in the extreme, made up of unstable objects that pass in and out of existence; whereas the invisible world of forms and mathematical truths is permanent, reliable, and supremely beautiful. You can certainly see two apples combining with two oranges to make four things, but when you grasp the principle that two plus two equals four, you have moved out of the empirical realm and into a properly invisible order, which is more pure and absolute than anything that the senses could take in. Mind you, I’m not denigrating the material world, as Plato and his followers were too often wont to do; I’m simply trying to show that it is by no means obvious that the invisible can simply be equated with the fantastic or the unreal.

Now to God’s invisibility. One of the most fundamental mistakes made by atheists both old and new is to suppose that God is a supreme being, an impressive item within or alongside the universe. As David Bentley Hart has argued, the gods of ancient mythology or the watchmaker God of 18th century Deism might fit such a description, but the God presented by the Bible and by classical theism has nothing to do with it. The true God is the non-contingent ground of the contingent universe, the reason there is something rather than nothing, the ultimate explanation for why the world should exist at all. Accordingly, he is not a being, but rather, as Thomas Aquinas put it, ipsum esse subsistens, the sheer act of to be itself. Thomas goes so far as to say that God cannot be placed in any genus, even in that most generic of genera, namely, being. But all of this must imply God’s invisibility. Whatever can be seen is, ipso facto, a being, a particular state of affairs, and hence something that can be placed in a genus, compared with other finite realities, etc. The visible is, by definition, conditioned—and God is the unconditioned. I hope it is clear that in affirming God’s invisibility, I am not placing limits on him, as though he were a type of being—the invisible type—over and against visible things, a ghost floating above physical objects. The invisible God is he whose reality transcends and includes whatever perfection can be found in creatures, since he himself is the source and ground of creatureliness in all its manifestations. Anything other than an invisible God would be a conditioned thing and hence utterly unworthy of worship.

But is this invisible God my friend? One of the most important spiritual and metaphysical observations that can be made is this: God doesn’t need us. The sheerly unconditioned act of to be itself is in possession of every possible ontological perfection, and hence requires no completion, no improvement. He needs nothing. And yet the universe, in all of its astonishing complexity and beauty, exists. Since God could not have made it out of self-interest, it can only follow that he made it out of love, which is to say, a desire to share his goodness. Though there is always the danger that this sort of language will be misconstrued in a sentimental way, it must be said: God continually loves the universe into existence. Thus, God’s fundamental stance toward all finite things is one of friendship. Can’t we hear an overtone of this in Genesis’s insistence that the Creator, looking with infinite satisfaction on all he had made, found it “good, indeed very good”? If I might stay within the framework of the book of Genesis, the role of human beings within God’s good creation is to be the image of God, which is to say, the viceroy of the Creator, reflecting the divine goodness into the world and channeling the world’s praise back to God. In a word, human beings are meant to be the friends of God par excellence.

Is any of this de-humanizing? It would be, if God were a supreme being and hence a rival to human flourishing. If you want the details on that problem, consult any of the Greek or Roman myths. But the unconditioned Creator, the invisible God, is not a rival to anything he has made. Rather, as St. Irenaeus put it so memorably, Gloria Dei homo vivens (the glory of God is a human being fully alive). So God is my invisible friend? Guilty as charged—and delightedly so.

TOPICS: Apologetics; General Discusssion; Moral Issues; Theology
Fr. Robert Barron is an acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian. He’s America’s first podcasting priest and one of the world’s most innovative teachers of Catholicism. His global, non-profit media ministry called Word On Fire reaches millions of people by utilizing emerging technologies to draw people into or back to the Faith. Fr. Barron is also the creator and host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, 10-part documentary series and study program about the Catholic Faith.
1 posted on 08/14/2014 9:06:48 AM PDT by NKP_Vet
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To: NKP_Vet

they chide the invisible friend.

i wonder if they realize just how much money fedgov spends precisely on invisibility technology. not so infantile as to spend millions and millions of dollars on cloaking people and such.

they believe everything comes from nothing. at least i have an invisible friend.

they are just as religious as those they rip for being religious. they can’t prove any of their beliefs. every fact they claim proves their views is open to interpretation. how you measure things gives different results, different dating methods. certain events they believe can’t be proven by the scientific method either and therefore are religious as well.

they just want to force their moral secular worldview on us and shut down any competing worldview. they’d be lynching all the great scientific minds of the past because almost all of them wrote about how much what they observedscientifically affirmed and strengthened their belief in a creator.

2 posted on 08/14/2014 9:16:50 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man ( Gone Galt; Not averse to Going Bronson.)
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To: NKP_Vet
interesting concept

but I that know that there are things that exist that both Ive never seen and that I'm not even aware of or can even imagine ... but they still exist

So couldn't you say conversely, that atheist believe what they can't see or hear does not exist.

So like a child that covers there eyes and says I can't see you so you not exist

3 posted on 08/14/2014 9:19:56 AM PDT by tophat9000 (An Eye for an Eye, a Word for a Word...nothing more)
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To: NKP_Vet
I love my invisible friend, too!

He's a little cranky, though.

4 posted on 08/14/2014 9:25:29 AM PDT by Lazamataz (First we beat the Soviet Union. Then we became them.)
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To: Secret Agent Man
Christ is my invisible friend.


Matthew 28


18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

5 posted on 08/14/2014 9:29:10 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NKP_Vet
A very good article. Too bad Fr. Robert Barron (in all likelihood) believes Genesis is mythology.

And atheists don't seem to be against all religion. I've never heard of an atheist who ridiculed Australian aborigines for believing in the "dreamtime."

6 posted on 08/14/2014 9:31:22 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Throne and Altar! [In Jerusalem!!!])
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To: NKP_Vet

I would venture to guess that the average atheist believes full throttle in Man Made Global Warming, a perspective that has become their religion.

7 posted on 08/14/2014 9:41:18 AM PDT by lee martell
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To: NKP_Vet

It’s why I keep telling people that there will always be a limit to our understanding of God. We know what we know because we have been allowed to know it.

The rest would likely fry our puny little minds. We are not even a speck upon the bottom of his sandals.

Which brings to mind a great sci-fi book “A Mote in Gods Eye” but I digress.

8 posted on 08/14/2014 9:41:18 AM PDT by reed13k (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothings)
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To: NKP_Vet

9 posted on 08/14/2014 9:41:48 AM PDT by lowbridge
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To: NKP_Vet

bookmark for later

10 posted on 08/14/2014 9:49:14 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Let us commend ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God." Liturgy of St.John)
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To: lee martell

Very good point. Anthropogenic Global Warming, Environmentalism, and Hate America First are part of the religion of the Left, and abortion is one of its sacraments.

11 posted on 08/14/2014 10:03:22 AM PDT by Pecos (Kakistocracy - killing the Constitution, one step at a time.)
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To: NKP_Vet

The future of Atheism is on a prayer rug facing Mecca.

12 posted on 08/14/2014 10:05:12 AM PDT by DiogenesLamp (Partus Sequitur Patrem)
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To: NKP_Vet

Why do so many atheist scientist spend billions looking for the “God particle”? Because it’s invisible...

13 posted on 08/14/2014 10:49:26 AM PDT by DocRock (All they that TAKE the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 Gun grabbers beware.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator
I've never heard of an atheist who ridiculed Australian aborigines for believing in the "dreamtime."

Or ridicule a Muslim for killing because Allah told them to via the Koran.

14 posted on 08/14/2014 11:07:54 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I am a living legacy to the leader of the band.)
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To: reed13k
“A Mote in Gods Eye”

Those Moties were odd little guys. But they were very good with tools. Extra appendages with opposable digits will do that for ya.

15 posted on 08/14/2014 11:10:39 AM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man. I am a living legacy to the leader of the band.)
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To: Secret Agent Man; NKP_Vet

For me the real irony is that while the make fun of the scholastic’s debating on “How many angels can dance of the head of a pin” they cheer “scientists” searching for “dark matter” and such.

I like to watch the show “Through the Wormhole” on occasion, and was struck by how much what is considered “science” today is a form of theology.

16 posted on 08/14/2014 11:16:08 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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