THE UNFAMILIAR REASON FOR UNBELIEF
In a book of Sophia Institute Press, Fr. Nicolas J. Laforet entitled Unbelief the author lists a series of reasons for which some (if not most) people do not believe (or fully believe) the teachings of the Church.
According to Father, Science is not a cause of unbelief. However, ignorance, indifference, materialism, skepticism, sophistry and the appeals of “natural religions” are source of unbelief to the French speaking priest. He wrote the book in 1864 which was praised by Pope Pius IX.
At this point, I’d like to introduce the wisdom of a business management professor, Dr. Russ Ackoff. Dr. Ackoff, was my Jewish professor during my doctorate at Wharton School. He was famous for being the founder of the Operations Research Society (creating many mathematical tools to deal with mostly problems of logistics that appear in business management) and a lead consultant employed by the US government to devise a plan for clearing Tokyo bay from the mines that the same government had installed. He shared that position with the estimable William A. Wallace who later became Fr. Wallace, OP of the Dominican House of Studies, Washington DC, and a great defender of Realistic Thomism.
Ackoff who had a very original and interesting plan to form doctoral students, taught that there are three ways to deal with problems. They can be solved, resolved or dissolved.
Solving a one variable equation is solving that problem. It is to find the unique solution of the problem. On the other hand, most engineering problems are usually resolvable. That is that one among several possible solutions one can be selected and implemented, hopefully the best one.
Dissolving a problem consists in showing that there was no problem to begin with. Whenever possible this is the path to follow as it is the most effective and elegant way of getting rid of a problem.
To dissolve a problem, one must realize that the conditions of the problem can be changed and then take advantage of it.
Alexander the Great was presented the Gordian knot. It was a huge knot that nobody has been able to untie. Alexander took out his sword and cut the knot.
Christopher Columbus was reportedly asked to stand an egg upright. He tapped the large end of the egg on the table thus making it flatter and not really breaking it and not spilling the content because at the large end there is an air pocket.
Yes, dissolving a problem often resembles cheating. But it is also to the credit of the solution maker who has seen that the condition presented to him could possibly be changed. Alexander was not told not to use his sword. Columbus was not told not to crack – even a little bit – the egg.
During our life on earth we are constantly presented with problems, problems on how to achieve a desirable goal, problems on how to remove an annoying obstacle.
The real solution seeker understands that he must change the conditions of the problem, to think outside of the box.
The box is full of the relatively petty elements of our environment and especially our myopic look at this environment. What my mother would call: “not being able to see further than the tip of one’s nose”. Outside of the box is the Kingdom of God and how it impinges directly on the same petty elements of our environment.
One important reason for our disbelief is the incapacity of looking outside of our personal existential box. Apparently, it requires a mindset tantamount to the mindset of an explorer to question the presumed validity of the limits of our environment. It requires a thirst for truth. Maybe not the same truth sought for looking at a specimen under controlled conditions and a microscope, but the truth to be had in setting sail in a direction never sought previously by anyone.
To start believing in the doctrines of the Church, the witnessing of so many saints, is the ultimate stepping out of the box of our daily concerns and into the immense true cosmos of our existence.
Kurt Lewin’s “There is nothing more practical than a good theory” can be extended to the Christian paradigm. So many practical everyday problems can be dissolved when we learn from Our Lord His existence and creation, His love and the love of His mother, the role and value of His Church, the requirements of the Decalogue, the comfort of the Sermon on the mount.
But most practically we understand the Christian message that each of us has a purpose and was given a singular plan of life by God who made us for a unique environment and with a unique set of aspirations and talents. All we need is to ask God what he wants from us and to set up and accomplish His will for us. All we need is to constantly listen to the Holy Spirit that resides in us. He will tell us how to dissolve our problems.
Jean-Francois Orsini is a graduate of a top French business school, and has earned both a MBA and Ph.D. from the Wharton School. His latest book is “Love is God – True love; true happiness for the serious seekers”. His free website HolySpiritedArsenal.com has for objective to complete the religious education of the newly confirmed and/or poorly catechized so they can become true soldiers in the Army of Christ as the Confirmation sacrament commits them to. He is a They Third Order Dominican and past prior of his chapter.