Saturday, September 21, 2013

Atheism and Divine Revelation

I have always religious, at least on some level. There were times in my life where I tried very hard to hide from God. Certainly during those periods, I do not think anyone would have ever expected me to be religious, but I do not think there was ever a time in my life, even in what passed for my rebellious college days (I can count on one hand the number of times I ever went into a bar or to a wild party when I was in college), where I did not believe God existed.

Now, there were periods in my life where I might had been very fuzzy on whom God was. By that, I mean, was God the Trinity, the great HaShem, or some fuzzy Great spirit of our ancestors? I don't think I ever really went beyond monotheism. Buddhism, Hinduism, or New Age-y stuff never held any allure to me personally, probably because I simply never understood it. I have never really done well with anything that smacks of mysticism or fluff spirituality, or perhaps more specifically the "spiritual but not religious" scene, mainly because that kind of stuff is not logical. You can burn candles in the forest all your want, but the simple fact of the matter is that a tree or the sky or the wind is never going to tell you that it's wrong to cheat on your taxes or whatever.

But even in those questioning days of my early adulthood, I always had a sense that God was there. While I might have been doing things that God did not like, God was there. Whether tangibly or like a shadow in the noonday sun that try as I may, I could never rid myself of, God was there.

I think this is probably at least partly true because of some various experiences of a very immanent God that I had in my childhood. My experiences of God as a child were very real, and very definitive, at least to me. This is why I have always resonated with the images found in CS Lewis' Narnia chronicles. I think in Prince Caspian, and later the Dawn Treader, Aslan must inform the children, each in their own turn, that they are simply too old to return to Narnia, at which point they (first Peter and Susan, and then Edmund and Lucy) could no longer return to Narnia and were forced to find Aslan under a different name in their own life back on Earth.

I read somewhere in some essay or interview that CS Lewis said that God speaks to children in a way that he seldom if ever does to adults, and I truly believe that. I do not claim to uncertain why God choses to reveal himself in this manner. Perhaps it has to do with a childlike innocence that makes it easier for God to speak for "only children such as this will receive the Kingdom of God", or perhaps God expects adults to actually have the faith of adults, and so speaks to adults as adults. Or, it could be that adults just get so bogged down in the mundane and petty cares of the world, that God has to reach us though some other means. Regardless, as the fawn, Mr. Tumnus, so eloquently puts it at the end of the first Narnia novel when Lucy realizes that Aslan has disappeared after the coronation, "One moment you'll see him, and another you won't, for afterall, Aslan is not a tame lion."

Despite these flights of theological fancy, my point here is that I have never understood atheists. Agnostics, at least honest ones, I can somewhat understand, but then only to a degree. I have never been able to look at the wonders of nature and the clockwork design of the galaxy and think that somehow there was not some master architect or designer behind it somehow. The means of how said creator achieved such a thing is up for debate, but the ends are not. My cheap pocketwatch (Yes, I have one, so don't make me go all steampunk on you!) is infinitely less complex, and yet no one in their right mind would assume that it was created by random chance or natural forces, and yet somehow atheists expect me to believe that something as infinitely more complex as the human brain happened by chance (or a series of random chances if you like), when it is the same logical question, really. This in a nutshell is one of Aquinas' ontological proofs about God's existence.

The other philosophical question that I have never even remotely come to a satisfying answer on is: If there is no God, then why is there something rather than nothing? If there is no creator, then there should just as likely be no thing, literally crea-ture. That is a question that at the end of the day atheists can't satisfactorily answer, at least to me.

I see that Atheism is on the rise in the West. In fact, it is very trendy to be such in some circles. That in itself does not threaten me at all actually. People are free to believe whatever they want to believe. I think that a blind spot that the Church has is much the same as my predicament. I have trouble relating to atheists. God has always been so real to me that it is as if people started being all trendy by believing that the oceans don't exist. I mean, what do you do with that other than say, "Well, okay...can I have your nice sea fishing rod since you obviously won't be using it?"

This blog entry is just another of my musings on revelation. God reveals himself to different people in different ways. I realize I have always had a gift of faith or belief in God if you like. God for whatever reason, does not do that with some people, or perhaps people refuse to let God in. I, for one, tend to believe what Rabbi Kook (yes, that was his real name) believed about atheists, particularly that God uses atheists "because atheism cleanses the dross of ‘petty religion,’ the narrowness and provincialism of established...religion that frequently becomes arrogant, rigid and judgmental. We need these people, these atheists, whom seek to befriend.”

In other words, atheists are a form of divine revelation because they separate the wheat from the chaff.

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