Why is there something rather than nothing?

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I remember, when I was a kid, I used to lie on my back and look at the night sky full of stars in awe and wonder. The vastness of it all has always captivated my imagination. Just thinking about it for a second. There are between 200 to 400 billion stars just in our galaxy and there are up to 200 billion galaxies in our universe. Some of these distant galaxies are so far away that it can take billions of years for their light to reach our eyes. And it the midst of it all there is our little blue planet dancing its way through space.

The vastness of the Universe begs the questions: why is there something rather than nothing? What caused the universe into existence? Why light instead of darkness? Why life instead of non-existence? I think these are profound questions that everyone should ask, especially those, who in all honesty, question the existence of God. These are important questions because their answers reveal much about who we are. Are we just a random cosmic accident manipulated by chemical reactions in our brains and doomed to non-existence when all is over? Or are we something more?

I believe that it is far more reasonable to believe that there is a Creator rather than to think that the Universe and life are the results of a “cosmic dance” of chance; that we were made for something more. We know from Aristotelian logic to Newtonian mechanics that for every effect there is a cause. Thus we also know that nothing cannot come out of nothing. It follows that every physical reality, most have a cause. The Universe could not have created itself out of nothing. So what caused the universe into existence? St. Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian of the Catholic Church, argued that it must be:

  1. Something that exists independent of space and time.
  2. Something that was not created, but is existence itself.

An uncaused cause, meaning something that is completely independent from any cause for its existence. Unlike our atoms that depend on the existence of protons, neutrons and electrons or space and time, which depends on the existence of matter and the rate upon which it changes, the uncaused cause simply exists. Alternative explanations must account for the creation of something out of nothing without invoking the principle of infinitive regression or violating the principle of parsimony.

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Fr. Robert Spitzer makes precisely this point in his book: New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contribution of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. I highly recommend this well research and articulated book. He argues that evidence from contemporary physics points toward a universe that had a beginning and that was designed by a supreme being and discusses philosophical proofs for the existence of God. I hope to unpack some of those arguments that appear in his book in future posts.

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As Christians, we need to engage the culture through the vocation that God has given us. With the rise of new atheist and the aggressiveness that they pursue to change the culture, in their own image, we must be ready to do the best we can stand our ground. As St. Peter encourages in 1 Peter 3:15: “always be ready to give an answer to every man who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you”. This can seem daunting but it does not need to be. We really do not need a Ph.D. in physics or philosophy to make a defense of our belief, using science or philosophy against the arguments set forth by modern atheists but we cannot stand idle either and not do much to enrich our intellects. After all, the more we learn about the universe the more we learn about God.

God Bless!

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D-Day: Eisenhower Address to Troops

SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944 ! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground.

Our Home Fronts have given us an superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your devotion to duty and skill in battle.
We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Source and other videos:  Army Youtube Page

D-Day: June 6, 1944

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Tomorrow, June 6, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. It can be easy to trivialize events in history with dates and numbers as time passes and those whose memories of the events are still fresh in the minds pass on to their heavenly reward. It is therefore up to us, the next generation, that should not only honor their sacrifices by remembering their courage but also by keeping alive the values and virtues that made that generation the greatest generation of Americans.

Here are some facts about D-Day*:

1. D-day marked the first time that an invading army crossed the English Channel since 1688 when a Dutch fleet was on its way to invade England. It also marked the largest amphibious operation in history. More than 150,000 men and about 30,000 vehicles crossed the channel; about half of these brave men were Americans.

2. “D” stands for day of the invasion, which was supposed to be June 5, 1944 but inclement weather forced the Allies to postpone to June 6, 1944.

3. Operation Overlord is the military Codename for the Allied invasion of Europe. The amphibian assault component of the invasion started on D-day and was codenamed Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune consisted of almost 7,000 vessels that supported the amphibian invasion.

4. Operation Pointblank was designed to achieve aerial superiority during the invasion by crippling Germany air force through bombardment.

5. Operation Bodyguard  was an elaborate operation designed to prevent the Germans from learning the Allied plans for the invasion.  The Germans had about 55 divisions ready to meet and repel the expected Allied invasion. It was an intelligence coup to keep the plans for Operation Overlord under wrap since the Allied forces could only land about 8 divisions during the first wave. Note Operation Fortitude was part of the larger Operation Bodyguard.

6. In the months preceding D-Day Allied forces lost about 12,000 men and over 2,000 aircraft in various military operations that made possible the invasion of Normandy

7. According to the US National D-Day Foundation the total personnel killed on D-Day was 4,413. That is 2,499 American fatalities and 1,914 from other Allied nations. This is a much higher estimate than the generally accepted estimate of about 2,500.

8. About 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles landed in Normandy supporting the efforts to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany.

9. D-Day was a logistical coup. It took millions of men and woman in Allied countries to help prepare for the invasion.

10. According to the Veteran’s Administration there are only 1.2 million WWII veterans remaining from the 16 million who bravely served during WWII. It is sobering to learn that it is estimated that they are dying at a rate of more than 550 a day.

 God Bless our veterans and this great Country of ours.

*I obtained many of the facts listed above from the following sources:

The National WWII Museum
PBS’s American Experience
The History Channel
Awesome Stories

Also for more information visit the excellent blog: Pacific Paratrooper. If you are inspired and have the opportunity I highly recommend you to visit the D-day Museum in New Orleans.

A brief thought about happiness

This week I have come across this beautiful prayer from St. Nicholas of Flue:

“My Lord and My God, take from me everything that distance me from you. My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you. My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you”.

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It helped me to put things into perspective. What is it that we really want and why is it that even if we feel content by our material possessions, achievement our hearts remain restless?

I believe that deep inside any sane person wants happiness. Many people have different definitions of what happiness is and many different ways to find it. The problem is that we often confuse what happiness is and look for it in all the wrong places. I rather have a very simple definition of what happiness is. Happiness is a state of fulfillment. The question is what is fulfillment? I think that St. Augustine of Hippo, in the fourth century, had the answer when he wrote in the Confessions:

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you”.

We are truly happy when all our desires and actions rest upon the Lord. Think about it… as Fr. Vincent Serpa, chaplain of the Catholic Answers apostolate, says: “He loves you with such a love that keeps your heart beating and with such a love that cause his heart to stop”. He loves you with such a Love that he only wants what is best for you. Period.

So when I found St. Nicholas of Flue prayer it all made sense. Why want anything that will keep me away from such Love? Why not seek anything that will bring me closer to such Love? Why not give myself completely to His love? Even if we keep falling and hitting our heads against the wall every time we sin, it is totally worth it!

God Bless.

St. Joan of Arc

Today, May 30, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Joan of Arc.

“Joan of Arc had all that and with this great addition, that she endured poverty as well as admiring it; whereas Tolstoy is only a typical aristocrat trying to find out its secret. And then I thought of all that was brave and proud and pathetic in poor Nietzsche, and his mutiny against the emptiness and timidity of our time. I thought of his cry for the ecstatic equilibrium of danger, his hunger for the rush of great horses, his cry to arms. Well, Joan of Arc had all that, and again with this difference, that she did not praise fighting, but fought. We know that she was not afraid of an army, while Nietzsche, for all we know, was afraid of a cow. Tolstoy only praised the peasant; she was the peasant. Nietzsche only praised the warrior; she was the warrior. She beat them both at their own antagonistic ideals; she was more gentle than the one, more violent than the other. Yet she was a perfectly practical person who did something, while they are wild speculators who do nothing”.

GK Chesterton
Orthodoxy

I hope this quote from Orthodoxy peaks your interest into the life of this great saint of the Catholic Church.

 

Atlas: A Masterpiece

From time to time I get into a band so intently that I hardly listen to anything else. Has that ever happen to you? The fact that I keep coming back to listen to it over and over tells me that it is not just disposable melodies, whose enjoyment and novelty burst open just after a few listens, but a real musical effort that has substance, whose full beauty demands time to unpack and discover all its subtleties.

Atlas by Sleeping at Last is one of such albums. Ever since my best friend introduced me to it, I have been captivated by this amazing musical marvel. Atlas is a yearlong project by Ryan O’Neal, a singer and songwriter behind the band Sleeping at Last.

O’Neal describes, Atlas, as an “overarching story of how our universe came to be, and how we were woven together inside it*. It is a storybook about us looking at the heavens and marveling at the wonders of creation while navigating the vast oceans of human existence. The lyrics give witness to such epic task when he sings:

 You say it one more time,
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes.

 With shortness of breath, I’ll explain the infinite
How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.

Atlas might be the best Christian album that I have ever listened to. The lyrics are grounded on a firm admiration of creation and the uniqueness and preciousness of life while its melodies constantly remind you of the beauty and elegance of creation. It is like O’Neal songwriting agrees with the psalmist in every song:

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”.

Psalm 19:1

I am not even sure if Sleeping at Last considered themselves as a Christian band or even if they agree with such category, but they sing about hope, forgiveness, frailty, desire, love, hope and wonder, all essential ingredients of the great drama that is life.

God Bless.

If I have peaked your interest go and visit their at website: http://sleepingatlast.com