An understanding of God.
Don Bosco directs the young to the evidence of God’s existence which is all around them; he reasons that: “the sun, moon, stars… could not have come into existence of themselves. God in his omnipotence made them out of nothing; hence he is called the “Creator.” From this, it follows that God purposefully created the human person “with a soul that thinks and reasons, and desires what is good, and judges what is evil for the purpose of living a life of good works and avoiding sin in order to spend eternity in heaven.” Indeed, the whole Companion will follow on from, and rely upon, such simple and unequivocal reasoning as this.
The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World acknowledges that “many of our contemporaries have never recognised this intimate and vital link with God, or have explicitly rejected it.” It offers numerous suggestions as to why Bosco’s understanding of God is not so unequivocally accepted in society today, including: society’s indulgence of trivial philosophical arguments which render the question of God “devoid of meaning;” its misguided belief in the capacity of the positive sciences to explain everything by “scientific reasoning alone;” its stupefaction of basking in its own achievements; its rejection of a false idea of God resulting from bad education; or its failure to ask questions about God resulting from comfort-induced apathy.Society’s capacity to arrive at Bosco’ understanding of God is at times hindered by the poor witness of neglectful Christians, as well as the poisonous influence of anti-Christian ideologies such as Marxism, and its many manifestations in contemporary culture.
Rather than look to the moon and stars around them, Vatican II urges non-believers to look inwardly for proof of God’s existence; the Church claims that it is readily apparent to all people that humans have the capacity to forego concerns of their body, and are thus superior to it, and that by their intellect they are capable of surpassing the material universe. All people are aware of what we call “conscience,” regardless of what they judge it to be, as that interior movement which urges them to choose ‘good’ and avoid evil; a sincere intellect reflecting upon one’s conscience should lead to the discovery of their “spiritual and immortal soul” as evidence of an existence beyond space and time, and thus the necessity of a creator God.
In short, where Don Bosco reasons from the external evidence of God in nature to the inevitability of human reason and conscience, Vatican II makes an identical argument in the opposite direction. The main theological insight to be gained here is that: anyone who genuinely seeks to discover God will discover God, and anyone with the capacity to question God’s existence has the capacity to confirm it. Thus, the contemporary claim to “be an atheist” automatically betrays those who make it, for the very capacity to reject belief in God presupposes the wilful refusal to believe in God, and such claimants should be made aware of this error in all charity.