Reality, the Whole Reality and Nothing but Reality, So Help Us God

BOOK PICK: ‘The World According to God’

This new Sophia Institute Press book draws from the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas.
This new Sophia Institute Press book draws from the wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas. (photo: Sophia Institute Press cropped book cover)

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GOD
THE WHOLE TRUTH ABOUT LIFE AND LIVING

By F.X. Cronin

Sophia Institute Press, 2020 

308 pages, $18.95

To order: sophiainstitute.com or (800) 888-9344 

We live in a contradictory culture. It proclaims fidelity to “science” but is deeply skeptical about reason, especially when applied to non-physical data. As F.X. Cronin notes in his new book, The World According to God: The Whole Truth About Life and Living, “To most moderns, reason and logic are really just manipulative means of persuasion, not proof, not actual and factual proof about reality or truth.” Indeed, the spirit of the modern world doesn’t really believe in “truth,” but imposes a logic-defying “wokeness” with a zeal outdoing Torquemada. 

In his book, Cronin masterfully, eloquently, yet deftly demolishes these contradictions infecting the modern mind. In the process, through 22 chapters, he audaciously makes an intellectually solid case for the truth and reasonableness of everything from God’s existence through Jesus and his revealed teaching to the Church and its claims. 

In one sense, his approach is rather traditional: natural theology using St. Thomas Aquinas’ five proofs through the preambles of faith leading to Revelation, then finally analyzing the claims of that justified revelation. I am sure his critics will score him for “simplistically” rehashing those well-trod paths.

On the other hand, Cronin’s approach is very modern and very personal. It’s not a dry rehash of Thomas’ quinta via but a relentless application of reason to contemporary questions, and he ends not with reason but love (which is no enemy of reason). It’s personal because Cronin’s motivation was fired by his return to Catholicism because it was true. “Because I maintained the existence of truth, I angered or befuddled my secular acquaintances,” he writes. “Because I maintained the certainty of the Catholic faith, friends and acquaintances became angry or perplexed, too.”

Cronin’s rehabilitation of reason is critical to today’s world and not just at the level of scientific data. You can’t even have science minus reason because science assumes a) the universe is reasonable and b) that reasonableness can be studied through the law of cause and effect. P.S.: If you doubt in truth outside of physical data, throw out mathematics, which is reasoned relations among abstractions. But, then, good luck with mathematics-less “science.”

Take Cronin’s arguments for God’s existence. 

He first argues from cosmology: If the universe makes sense, i.e., if cause and effect apply, how can you ignite a Big Bang without an uncaused Cause standing outside that order of space and time? To throw the problem to a “multiverse” solves nothing, only a) driving the causation problem back further or b) irrationally claiming that cause and effect apply everywhere except either “in the beginning” or in the universe we know. 

Then Cronin refutes the claim that reality is the exclusive realm of materialism: If the universe is only matter, how do you explain your non-material thoughts about cause and effect? Is there nothing more behind them than neurochemical illusions? 

The author also dismantles Deism or Star Wars “theology”: If God is but a force or a disinterested Creator, can one rationally posit the almost infinite number of adaptations conducive to life as being just lucky chance? 

Critics may tut-tut that Cronin oversimplifies things, but he shows that, in fact, it’s not reason but obfuscation that overcomplicates them. This book makes you think, and think hard — not in an obscure or pedantic way, but in an “A ha!” sort of way. It will open eyes, because even active Catholics cannot swim in modern culture without imbibing some of its blinders. I’ll admit I slogged through the first chapter (his apologia pro vita sua), but then, chapter after chapter, I grew in my enthusiasm. This book faces modernity and Catholicism, integrating things on clearly Catholic, clearly rational and clearly loving terms. I strongly recommend this book and urge its use in upper-level religious education, because it would a) enable (not only) young people to make sense of their faith while b) giving them mental tools to resist other irrationalities pedaled as modern “learning.” We desperately need more of that!

Anonymous, “God the Geometer,” ca. 1220

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