Lugar Lang | Selfies with God

As usual, I didn’t want to make patol because it’s so cheap, but here I am, engaging that Duterte issue of God’s existence and stupidity. I think it’s my Catholic schoolgirl that feels she has to stand up for God, unlike Peter who denied it three times. Yet I also know my God does not need to be defended. And that Peter became a saint despite his failings. But because he dared anyone to show him a selfie with God and promised to resign, here are mine.

SELFIE 1: In this selfie, I caught God creating the world. Don’t ask me how, but that’s our first lesson in catechism: Who made you? God made me. As a child, I simply accepted that a supreme Being created me and everything else in the universe. As an adult, I learned about the Big Bang theory and evolution, and yet I still believed in the Creator (but I abandoned hardcore creationism). The First Cause. Why not? If you can’t disprove it, then don’t disbelieve it. It’s the cosmological approach to God’s existence. In fact, many agreed that the obvious proof that God exists and is stupid is that this same God created Rodrigo Duterte.

SELFIE 2: In this one, I caught God watching with amusement as I pored through books seeking answers. I took up Philosophy as a minor in college, and learned about ontology and epistemology and existentialism, all big words that raised more questions than answers. They say that part of every person’s identity crisis in the teenage years involves questioning God’s existence. When I was 13, I was deeply involved in our parish church’s efforts to renew the faith of Catholics in response to the growing numbers of “Born-again” Christians. I went to Mass every day, doing various services like offertory and reading, I sang in the choir, I participated in “Life in the Spirit” seminars. I memorized Bible verses and bought paraphernalia from this little Christian bookshop in Makati.

Then I went to college and realized how foolish it was to swallow religion without thinking. So I studied God enthusiastically, reading the old philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and those who were against: Kant, Hume, Nietzsche, Russell. I admit I was more compelled by the arguments of the Existentialists. I was 19, who can blame me? But even then I did not abandon my belief in God. I suppose John Calvin was right about sensus divinitatis—the innate knowledge of God despite the absence of proof. The Force was strong in this one, thank God. Later, I learned from contemporary philosopher Alvin Plantinga that this sense does not work properly in everyone because of the effects of sin. Proof of this can be Duterte himself.

SELFIE 3: In this one, God is laughing at me asking, “Are you there, God?” every day since the beginning of the Duterte administration. S/he is laughing because of the irony that the worse things get, the closer the faithful cleave to God. In these desperate times when evil seems to reign, some of us may lose faith, asking for instance, “If there is a God, why does s/he allow all these unjust killings?” On the other hand, these same times make some of us more steadfast in God because WTF, what else can we believe in? Soren Kierkegaard was right: the fact that God’s existence cannot be proven makes it necessary to us, requiring the “leap of faith.” I am now not surprised that the word “cleave” means both ‘to split’ and ‘to stick’. The difference lies in which death-defying leap we are willing to make.

Because in these times of selfie-or-it-didn’t-happen, it will happen. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has reached out with a message of peace and rejoicing despite the blasphemy of this narcissistic president who thinks he is God. But the Catholic schoolgirl in me prefers to believe that the Old Testament God is still out there, waiting to smite the evildoers. The image of fire-and-brimstone is sheer poetry for me. It keeps me going.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

Posted in Opinion