Over the next two days, writers, scholars, theologies and world-renown journalists will take to the microphone to discuss God’s presence in life (soul, society, music, cinema, arts, etc.). A book exhibit and concerts at the Auditorium in Via della Conciliazione, near Saint Peter’s Basilica are also part of the event.
Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to CEI President Card Angelo Bagnasco for the occasion. In it, the Holy Father said, “the question of God is central” to our times, in which “man is [often] reduced to one, horizontal dimension, with receptivity to the transcendental seen as something irrelevant. [. . .] When God disappears from man’s horizon, humanity loses its sense of direction and could take steps towards its destruction.”
For the Pope, the conference will help the Church and Christians in their great task, which is “to make God present in this world,” and give men “access to God”.
In his opening address, Cardinal Bagnasco said that the question of God is linked to that of truth, which “separates man from animals and machine.”
For the cardinal, the more the ‘question of God’ is “marginalised and psychologically removed” from culture, the more it “reappears in disguise” and takes the form of today’s interest in the paranormal, the occult, and esoteric religiosity in which reason “is defeated”.
Between relativism and science’s promethean claims, questions about God and truth force Christians to take on the task of asserting the reasonableness of the Gospel, which gives meaning to life and the world.
In his well-written paper, Cardinal Ruini said that three paths (similar to those of saint Thomas Aquinas) make the question of God relevant to today’s culture. The first one begins from our existence and that of the world, evidence that something exists. The second one is based on the intelligibility of nature, which is the basis of experimental sciences. The third begins with the ethical experience.
The presence of evil in society is one of the greatest obstacles on the path to recognise the existence of God, but questions about evil and God run through human history.
Lastly, scientism, which tries to permeate all aspects of life, is informed by the notion that knowing God is impossible. If this were true, man would just be a natural object. For this reason, today as perhaps never before, it is clear that man and God, either “stand or fall together.”