In some tiny corner of the cosmos

I wanted to say a few words about the pope’s Easter chat yesterday but I had too many words to say about too many other things so I didn’t get to it. Others have said a few words about it now, but I’ve only glanced over them so far because I wanted to say whatever it was that formed in my head when I first heard (in translation, on the BBC World Service) the salient passage, first. See? I know it’s old news; I’m late; but there was something I wanted to say.

It starts with the usual thing about the Logos. In the beginning was the. You know.

The creation account tells us, then, that the world is a product of creative Reason. Hence it tells us that, far from there being an absence of reason and freedom at the origin of all things, the source of everything is creative Reason, love, and freedom.

No it doesn’t. It’s some words in a book. It purports to tell us something, but it doesn’t actually tell us in the sense the pope means. It’s some writing. I can say “In the beginning was the Ice Cream”; that doesn’t make it true; no more does the gospel of John make what it says true. It sure as hell doesn’t make it true that the source of everything is creative Reason, love, and freedom.

Here we are faced with the ultimate alternative that is at stake in the dispute between faith and unbelief: are irrationality, lack of freedom and pure chance the origin of everything, or are reason, freedom and love at the origin of being? Does the primacy belong to unreason or to reason? This is what everything hinges upon in the final analysis.

The pope’s god has nothing to do with freedom, and damn little to do with reason or love. Again it’s just words – just logoi. Words are good but they’re not magic. Popes treat them as if they were magic. That’s their trade, I suppose.

As believers we answer, with the creation account and with John, that in the beginning is reason. In the beginning is freedom. Hence it is good to be a human person. It is not the case that in the expanding universe, at a late stage, in some tiny corner of the cosmos, there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.

Yes it is. And that itself is an extraordinary and inspiring fact. The pope doesn’t know what he’s missing.

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