The zoologist Richard Dawkins has written, “If God exists, we should be able to detect him with our telescopes.” Richard Dawkins is wrong. No theologian of the Christian religion – or any other religion – has ever thought that God is an object in the universe God himself created. We know God by three means: Revelation, Reason and Tradition.
God reveals himself in the Bible. And he makes himself known directly to us by faith. The glorious works of God reveal him and so do the eternal truths of ethics: the starry heavens above and the moral law within. But God’s main revelation of his character is in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We can also know God by our faculty of reason. Nothing comes out of nothing, and it is implausible to believe that the universe generated itself. God’s creation of the universe should not be seen only in the idea that God made all the stuff of the universe. Without God, the universe would lack reality. God is he who donates being to what otherwise would remain only potential. “The earth was without form and void.” It is God who originally and continually gives form to the world.
The tradition of the church guides and deepens over the millennia our understanding of God. The Holy Spirit of God helps us over time to come to a fuller understanding of him. He promises that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth.
Love is not just one of God’s qualities. God is love and nothing else. He does not punish us for our sins. He gives us his Commandments. These Commandments are for our good. When we break them, we suffer the inevitable consequence of setting ourselves apart from God. Hell is to be separated from God. “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil: therefore choose good that you may live.”
We all break these Commandments and we cannot save ourselves from the death and hell of separation from God. So God himself, being love and nothing else, comes to save us. He does this through the sacrifice of his Son: Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection.
Here is the beautiful mystery of the suffering of our God of love. He is not like a master strategist who sees our wrong moves and acts to counter them. Before he created the universe, God knew that he would, in the Person of his Son, die to save us. The unspeakable glory is that, knowing this, he went ahead with the creation anyway! The death of God provides the life of mankind.
We should meditate on the supreme mystery and miracle of the being of God. Here is a brief aid to our thoughts. At the end of his The Divine Comedy the great Dante enters heaven and sees his vision of God:
“But already my desire and my will
Were being turned like a wheel, all at one speed,
By the Love which moves the sun and the other stars.”