SYDNEY, Australia, OCT. 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- In a packed Sydney Opera House studio Sunday evening, Cardinal George Pell confronted the myth of modern atheism in the first ever Festival of Dangerous Ideas.
The archbishop of Sydney gave a conference titled “Without God We Are Nothing,” shortly after one of the most prominent exponents of modern atheism, British journalist Christopher Hitchens, presented the claim that “Religion Poisons Everything.”
The cardinal stated that although there are many people, including anti-theists and provocateurs, who regard God as an enemy, recent developments in physics and biology have strengthened the case for God, reported the Archdiocese of Sydney in a press statement.
He noted, however, that despite the affirmations of science, God cannot be contained within that field’s framework since he is outside space and time.
The prelate affirmed that “the God for which we are arguing is not a God of the gaps, not a God who is brought in to paste over the gaps in our present scientific knowledge, which might be filled later as science progresses.”
Rather, he said, this God explains “the whole of the universe, which is not self-explanatory, including the infrastructure and elements we understand scientifically.”
Cardinal Pell made reference to Antony Flew, a philosopher who converted from atheism, who affirmed, “How can a universe of mindless matter produce beings with intrinsic ends, self replication capabilities and ‘coded chemistry?'”
The cardinal pointed out that science involves the study of physical bodies such as sub-atomic particles, but to answer the question of why these particles exist, the inquirer must move from physics to metaphysics, and find the solution in philosophy.
Only 17% of people do not accept the existence of God, the prelate affirmed, striking down the claim that “most Australians are godless.”
The reason God is not spoken of in society, he said, is the current secularist hostility to Christianity.
“Often God gets caught up in the secular hostility to the Christian defense of human life, especially at the beginning and end, the Christian defense of marriage, family and the linking of sexuality to love and life,” Cardinal Pell affirmed.
He added: “Here in these culture wars lies the origin for most of the hatred of God and religion, while the new violence of a minority of Islamist terrorists has given Western secularists new grounds to attack all religions.
“However it is much safer to attack Christians!”
Nonetheless, the cardinal affirmed, God has “international popularity,” which can be seen in some current trends. For example, he said, some statistics show that China, despite its religious freedom issues, could have measured the largest Christian population worldwide at the end of the 21st century.
In conclusion, the prelate stated that he is personally intrigued at the fact that there are so many people in the Western world today who are “unable to believe,” especially those with a Christian or Jewish cultural background.
He said, “For me the issue is too important” to be subjected to self-indulgence or left on the level of polemics.
“I will continue to believe in the one true God of love because I maintain that no atheist can explain the smile of a child,” Cardinal Pell affirmed.
He noted that in this light, current natural disasters such as the recent tsunami “also reminds us brutally of the problem of innocent suffering.”
“But such suffering is worse if there is no afterlife to balance the scales of misfortune and injustice,” he asserted, “and worse again if there is no innocence or guilt, no good or evil, if everything has the moral significance of froth on a wave.”
The cardinal affirmed once again, “Without God we are nothing.”