Editor’s note: Jimmy Akin’s book A Daily Defense, forthcoming in October from Catholic Answers Press, comprises 365 one-page defenses (plus one for leap year) of typical challenges to the Catholic Faith. These daily doses of apologetics are designed to arm the reader with short-form answers and tips for delving deeper into any particular subject. For the next several months, the Catholic Answers blog will run occasional excerpts.
Spiritual or Religious?
”I consider myself spiritual rather than religious. Why isn’t that enough?”
Because God loves you and wants even better things for you.
When people say they are spiritual rather than religious, they frequently mean that, although they don’t practice a specific religion, they recognize there is more to the world than matter; that it has a spiritual dimension.
This is good! But it doesn’t go very far. Wouldn’t it be nice to know more about the world’s spiritual dimension? In every field, having more knowledge is better, and it makes sense to ask if we can learn more about the world’s spiritual dimension.
From a Christian perspective, we can learn more. God loves us and wants us to know him, not just have feelings or guesses. When he created the universe, God left evidence that allows us to learn certain things about him: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20).
He also left evidence in the human heart: “With [man’s] openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God’s existence. In all this he discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, the seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material, can have its origin only in God” (CCC 33).
Further, God has entered history, communicating with us through his prophets and, most importantly, through his Son, Jesus.
Apologetics examines and presents the evidence showing God has communicated with us, and its ultimate purpose is to help us discover God and the joy and happiness he wants us to have. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC 27).
Or, as St. Augustine put it: “You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you” (Confessions 1:1:1).
A good book on the evidence for faith is the Handbook of Catholic Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Fr. Ronald Tacelli.