The Existence of God vs. Invisible Ducks

I noticed something odd the other day. A friend of mine was telling me a story about his experience on an airplane. He started a conversation with a few university students and since he was wearing a cross, it turned into a discussion about the existence of God. The conversation began normal enough, and they asked him questions. However, as he exposed what he believed and why, their curiosity slowly drifted dangerously near to anger. As their voices rose their language became more violent and the conversation ended when he realized that the conversation was useless; their hearts were hardened.

The phraseology they employed is typical of zealous relativists, if not in speech, certainly in thoughts: “Look, I don’t believe in your God, OK?” “I’m sick of everyone trying to shove their religion down my throat!” “Why can’t you just keep your religion to yourself?”

As I thought about his story, this is what I found odd: imagine what the reaction of those students would have been had my friend said, “I believe that there is a magical invisible duck that floats by my side and guides me through my day.” Somehow I doubt that they would say with resentment, “Look, I don’t believe in your duck, OK?!”

What is it, then, about the Christian God that can generate such violent reactions (exterior or interior) in relativists? It may have to do with the fact that, unlike the magical duck, God demands very difficult things of us, and the society that nurses them, the philosophy that they swallow, have coaxed them into believing that those things are not just difficult but bad.

What does God demand of us? What makes those things so difficult? What about those demands could be seen as bad and why? This is where our responsibility comes in. What God demands of us is love. And it is very difficult to love. And He asks of us a love that is pure— that is, a love that does not have other things mixed in like pride, ambition, lust, etc.— and a love that is total, willing to give anything or everything. That love underlies all of the “demands” and “commandments” of God. That love is what makes those commandments so beautiful and so difficult.

I say that our responsibility comes in here because if our arguments do not convince them, with the grace of God, maybe our love can.

Saint Catherine of Siena said that if we are what we need to be— if we love as we need to love— we can set the world on fire!