This universe is a moral universe of character making….soul making. Almighty God has placed into our hands the power to make ourselves saints or devils. It is up to us. There are some laws that we cannot disobey like the law of gravitation, biological laws like the circulation of blood. However in a moral universe we are free either to obey the law of God or disobey them. Just as we are perfectly free to disobey the laws of health. Eat too much and we become sickly, eat not enough and we do the same.
What makes a thing good or bad is either an excess or deficiency of something good. A thing is good when it attains the purpose for which it is made. A pencil is good for writing but not for being a can opener. Why were we made; what is the purpose of living? The purpose of living is to be supremely happy. How do we do so by attaining the life, truth and love which is God.
In my home is a piano that I play certain notes to make a musical theme come together. When I hit the wrong notes the piece does not sound good. How do I know that I hit the wrong note because of the standard of sheet music that is set before me? So too we have a moral standard which is the conscience and what is good or bad is in relation to that standard which is not of our own making. We do not draw our own maps and decide that the distance from San Diego to Chicago is five miles or that the Capital of the United States is Salt Lake City. We set distances by a standard outside of us.
So good is that which helps us attaining our goals with right reason. When I disobey God I do not make myself happy on the inside, and I certainly destroy any peace of soul that I ought to have. All badness is spoiled goodness. Evil has no capital of its own. It is a parasite on that which is good.
Looking back on our reason and will we can say this universe is a veil of soul making. We were made to be good and attain the truth. But… Oh how weak we are! Look at the limitations of our reason and of our will. First of all our reason, how poor it is, even those who had very good reason admitted in the end they had captured just a little of what was true. Isaac Newton said that he was standing on the seashore of infinite truth with the vast waters of knowledge stretched endlessly before him. Socrates said there is only one thing that I know and that is that I know nothing. Thomas Aquinas said at the end of his life, all that he had written seemed to be straw compared to a dim vision that he received of heaven. Then beyond the reasoning of these great learned men look at the reason of people today. They seem to follow one trend after another. Anyone remember the “Pet” rock, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmo. EST sessions, Transactional Analysis? There is even failure to recognize anything as truth and goodness. They seem to never work towards one goal. No wonder there are so many psychotics and neurotics in our world. There just rehashing old errors and giving them new labels, calling some of the old errors as very novel, modern and progressive only because they do not know what is ancient.
Not only is our reason weak, but so is our will even when we know it is right. We are besieged with temptations. Goethe said that there was enough good and evil in him to make two men, one a rogue and another a gentlemen. St. Augustine said whatever I am I am not what I ought to be. Looking back at ourselves we have to admit that our reason is weak and our wills are feeble. At times we are like a broken clock that cannot repair itself without the clock smith.
Where are we going to get more truth for our mind and love for our will? Will God give it to us; most certainly and not because we are so worthy but because it would be in keeping with His goodness. God can send both an invisible and visible force to enlighten and love us. Invisible revelation comes from nature. We see God’s creation and we make certain evaluations about what is beauty, what is goodness and what is the proper order of the way nature works as our science too reveals to us.
So very well God may illumine our reason but how would we know it. Suppose there was such a thing as revelation, how could we tell? Do we just go along with anybody that says listen to me I have a new teaching about the meaning of life, or an angel revealed to me the purpose of our existence. Reason has to set up certain standards even before there is any revelation. Otherwise this world of ours will be filled with cracked pots.
Well there are three criteria that reason demands when someone says they are from God to reveal to us the truth about our existence. These criteria can be verified by reason and history. First whoever comes should be preannounced. Second he should work miracles as proof of his authority and three he should not teach things or reveals to us contrary to reason but can be above it.
After all brides pre-announce their weddings, car manufacturers make announcement about new models and upcoming movies are preannounced. Certainly if God is going to send someone to this earth the least he could do is tell us that he is sending someone. That would do away with any individual appearing on the stage of history saying I am God or I have a message from God.
He who comes should be able to do marvels and signs to authenticate his message. Not because we would be awed by the miracles but by them we would know that God is with him.
Finally, certainly one would not contradict human reason in his teaching. We might have mysteries revealed to us that are above our reason, like the Eucharist, or the Resurrection of the Body, but they can never teach anything contrary. For example one would teach immorality or that our souls were finite. Such a person could not come from God because such statements are contrary to reason.