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REAL CLEAR RELIGION

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

Culture, Christianity, Catholic Dogma & The Death Of The West

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Nihilism and Faith


The following is an excerpt from Salt Of The Earth, an interview with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, before he became Pope. 

“[I]t seems generally easier not to believe than to believe.  It is paradoxical: on the one hand faith is present in principle, man is a religious being; on the other hand he has to struggle with it constantly.

The ease of unbelief is nonetheless relative.  It exists in the sense that it is easy to throw off the bonds of faith and to say, I am not going to exert myself; this is burdensome; I’m leaving that aside.  This first stage is what you call the easy part of unbelief.  But to live with this is not at all so easy.  To live without faith means, then, to find oneself first in some nihilistic state and then, nonetheless. to search for reference points.  Living a life of unbelief has its complications.  If you examine the philosophy of unbelief  in Sartre, Camus, and so forth, you see that readily. 


The act of faith as a new start and acceptance, may be complicated, although at that moment when faith really hits me - “you may rejoice”- it has in turn its great interim ease.   So we mustn’t unilaterally emphasize the toil.  The ease of unbelief and the difficulty of belief lie on different planes.  Unbelief too is a heavy burden, and in my opinion even more so than faith is.   Faith also makes man light....we can fly because we no longer weigh so heavy in our own estimation.  To become a believer means to become light, to escape our own gravity, which drags us down, and thus to enter the weightlessness of faith.”