THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE OBVIOUS
Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J
Table of Contents
Let us consider, first of all, the position of those who claim that God is a myth. Atheism has always been a minority opinion. But today it is a very vocal minority. And the arguments they shout the loudest and most often are about the injustice and the evil in the world. No doubt, these arguments in one form or another have crossed our own minds at one time or another.
The argument about injustice goes like this: how can there be an All-Just God when there are so many injustices in the world? No doubt there are many grave injustices in the world. But whether or not these injustices are a denial of an All-Just God depends on your concept of human life. If all there is to human life is what happens between birth and death, then there is no justice and there is no All-Just God. But that is not all there is to human life. There is birth, death, judgment and an eternity to follow based on our performance in this life. We do not judge a play until we have seen the last act. And the last act of human life is the last judgment. That is where the scales of justice will be balanced. That is where the justice of God will be vindicated, and then we will all see that there is an All-Just God.
The argument about the presence of evil in the world goes like this: “How can an All-Good God permit evil?” We do not will evil as evil. The object of the will is good. What we will is an apparent good. We are fooled. Evil, no doubt, will always be a mystery, the mystery of iniquity. God has given us a free will and He wants us to use it. And he honors the exercise of free will. If we freely choose to do evil, thinking it is good, God permits it; otherwise we would not be free. It is our free will that makes evil possible. But free will also makes love possible. And God prefers love even at the risk of evil. In fact, God loves us so much that He brings good out of the evil we freely choose to commit. Isn’t this what the Bible is all about? Isn’t this the history of the human race? St. Augustine called the sin of Adam a “felix culpa,” a happy fault, which merited for us the Incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus. Isn’t that also the history of my own life? How many times have I freely chosen to do evil and then God brought good out of it?
How is atheism possible?
First of all, atheism is possible because the question of God is unique.
In scientific questions the scientist himself is not personally involved.
The data is outside him self. But in the question of God, he is personally
involved. He is part of the data. And the solution has tremendous effects
on his person and on his life. If he acknowledges that there is a God,
he has to start thinking about the way he lives. And if there is a contradiction
between what he believes and what he does, there is a civil war set up
within him. And he must resolve this conflict or end up in an institution.
Atheism is more of a moral problem than an intellectual problem.
Atheism is possible also because we can harden our hearts. Truth is like a ray of sunlight. It makes a difference whether it hits a window and goes through, or hits a wall and bounces back. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.”
We should also be aware of the fact that often the God the atheists deny is not the true God, but some false, man-made caricature of God. And sometimes it is the inconsistencies in the lives of those who profess belief in God that confirms the atheist in his error.
If atheism is pushed to its logical conclusion it would be the ruination of human society. There is nothing as inhuman as secular humanism, that is, man without God. If there is no God there are no Commandments, and then, might is right. Without God there would be no solution to the misfortunes of life, no hope for the future. Despair and suicide would be the “final solution.”
How frustrating must it be for the atheist to feel the innate, insatiable desire for God and at the same time deny that there is a God? How stressful must it be to be constantly running away from God when God is constantly drawing us to Himself. For more than 75 years the Soviet Union used the total power of a totalitarian state to wipe out what it said did not exist, only to destroy itself in the process.
More wars are fought, and more blood shed over religion than anything else; and there is no God? We have an innate desire, an orientation, a thrust toward God; and there is no God? We have a lust for the knowledge and certainty about God; and there is no God?
Finally, if there was no God who would be the Supreme Being? In the visible universe, in which we live, it would be man. But which man? There are over six billion of them in the world today. And each one thinks that he is absolutely self-autonomous; that he is the “supreme being.” This creates pride, rugged individualism, competition, jealousy, anger, hatred, violence and war.
As Chesterton said, “When we stop believing in God, we don’t believe in nothing – we believe in anything.” In other words, in the last analysis atheism is idolatry. Everyone has a god. That person or thing which we put in the first place and for which we are willing to sacrifice everything else is our god. If we do not acknowledge the true God we will make a god of some creature. And that is idolatry. Many today worship the trinitarian god of “hedonism, materialism, and consumerism,” which drives them to “conspicuous consumption” where they buy what they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t like.
We must never forget that atheism is an act of faith. No one can prove that there is no God. You have to believe it. You have to make an act of faith. Secular humanism is a religion, a non- theistic religion, a religion without God. If the atheist is right he will never know it. But if he is wrong he will never forget it. “God is a myth,” there is no God. Many say it with their lips. Many more say it with their lives. But “only the fool says in his heart is no God.”
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