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Well Did Our Pope Prophesy About You, Ricky Gervais

The pop atheists prove once again that they are out of their league.

By E. Scott Lloyd

Pope Benedict XVI just released the second installment of his masterful work on the life of Jesus, "Jesus of Nazareth," which is getting praise from readers, theologians, and even many in the press, particularly for his reiteration of the Church's teaching that the Jews writ large are not to be held accountable for the Crucifixion of Christ.

If the second volume is anything like the first, it will be profound, relevant, and clearly written. He will be so in tune to the mindset of the world that the work will prove itself to be prophetic.

Consider the recent example of Ricky Gervais, the British comedian who recently made a splash in the Wall Street Journal for his piece entitled, "Why I'm an Atheist." The article received nearly 7,000 comments, and prompted a follow-up response.

Three years before this, in 2007, Pope Benedict called his bluff, almost to the word. Consider the following excerpts:

Pope Benedict, on the first temptation, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.":

"Christ is being challenged to establish his credibility by offering evidence for his claims. This demand for proof is a constantly recurring theme in the story of Jesus' life; again and again he is reproached for having failed to prove himself sufficiently, for having hitherto failed to work that great miracle that will remove all ambiguity and every contradiction, so as to make it indisputably clear for everyone who and what he is or is not."

And on the second temptation, to take himself up to a parapet and throw himself down, and Jesus' response, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.":

"The issue, then, is the one we have already encountered: God has to submit to experiment. He is "tested," just as products are tested. He must submit to the conditions that we say are necessary if we are to reach certainty. If he doesn't grant us now the protection he promises in Psalm 91 ["For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone."] then he is simply not God. He will have shown his own word, and himself too, to be false.

We are dealing here with the vast question as to how we can and cannot know God, how we are related to God and how we can lose him. The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon him is incapable of finding him. For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above him, by discarding the whole dimension of love, of interior listening; by no longer acknowledging as real anything but what we can experimentally test and grasp. To think like that is to make oneself God. And to do that is to abase not only God, but the world and oneself, too."

And now consider the core of Mr. Gervais's argument:

"I don't believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I've heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe."

And

"[Science] knows there is no scientific proof of anything supernatural so far. When someone presents a jar of God it will test it. If it finds some evidence of "godness" it will follow the evidence till [sic] it knows everything it can."

In the light of the Pope's exegesis, Gervais's veneer of humility--his claim to be following scientific evidence--melts away. A mind such as his that seeks to put God to the test will be blind to the example-- the evidence-- of the sinner who converts and begins living virtuously. Gervais's apparent objection would be that this evidence does not come in a jar. He won't even address Aquinas's five proofs of God or any other philosophical treatment of the matter. With a little thought, it becomes clear that it isn't evidence Gervais is actually looking for. He is looking to be the lawgiver to God-- "meet my demands, my burden of proof, and then I will believe," as the Pope rightly pointed out, before he even said it.

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