When I was teaching at Georgetown University, I was privileged to direct a physics and philosophy student on an Ignatian retreat. He was exceptionally bright and good-willed, and had the capacity to express what was on his mind in a very straightforward way.
At the beginning of our first conference he said, “Could I ask you something very elementary which has been bothering me for several years? I don’t have any real difficulty believing in God because I think the evidence of physics points to the finitude of past time – implying a beginning and a creation.
“My real problem is Jesus – I don’t get it. If I believe in God, why do I need anything more – like Jesus? Can’t we just stick with a ‘Creator outside of space-time asymmetry’?”
I thought about it for a couple of minutes and said to him, “Jesus is about the unconditional love of God. He is about God’s desire to be with us in a perfect act of empathy; about God wanting to save us unconditionally and to bring us to His own life of unconditional love.
“A Creator alone, indeed, even a Creator with infinite power, could be tantamount to Aristotle’s God. Once he has fulfilled his purpose of ultimate, efficient, and final causation, he is detached from the affairs of rather base and boring human beings.
“The God of Jesus Christ is about the desire to be intimately involved in the affairs of human beings made in His image and destined for His eternity – and that makes all the difference.”
He said in reply, “This all seems a bit too good to be true. I would like the Creator to be the God of Jesus Christ, but do you have any evidence that this is not just wishful thinking – evidence showing that this is really the way God is? Is there any reason why we would think that God is loving instead of indifferent?”
I responded by noting that it would be better for him to answer six questions rather than have me give an extended discourse, because the six questions could reveal not only what was in his mind, but more importantly, what was in his heart – what he thought about love, life’s purpose, others, and his highest imaginable state of existence.
If he answered these six questions (from his heart) in a manner commensurate with “the logic of love,” then the unconditional love and divinity of Jesus (Jesus being Emmanuel – “God with us”) would become evident – he would see how Jesus is God.
Let’s start with the first of the six questions: Question 1: What is the most positive and creative power or capacity within you?