|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Atheism|
A perfect God, but an imperfect world?
This is the atheists’ ideal philosophical argument, when they begin to tell us about the “dark” world we are living in and the “living Hell” that we are going through, because they assert that a truly perfect God would not create anything but a perfect world!
And yet, so many things escape them……
Is the world truly a “hell-hole”?
An atheist begins to explain to us, why he doesn’t believe in God. He reminds us of the terrible life that we are living on earth; the wars, the children that die without God intervening, the afflictions and the “living hell” on earth, and everything else that can blacken our lives. And he usually concludes with the comment: “If God did exist, would the world have been in this condition?”
At first glance, a SUPERFICIAL atheist comment such as the above may appear to be justified. But, the more we analyze it, the more we can discern that there is an underlying “pretext in sin” that serves to cover up for their faithlessness!
And first of all, if the world is, indeed, as HORRIBLE as they portray it, why don’t atheists resign from this life to escape from this apparent Hell? Why do they insist on living in such a world? Could it be, that this world is NOT as terrible as they want us to believe? Could it be, that all these demeaning comments are nothing more than GENERALIZATIONS of not-so-frequent occurrences? Could it be, that despite the brevity of our lifetime, despite the afflictions that it may contain, it is in fact a Divine Gift – the greatest gift ever? Could it be, that the joys of this world are in fact many more than its sorrows?
“Yes, but some people actually commit suicide!” an atheist may remark. Agreed, this may be so, but the key word in this statement is “SOME”! Which means that while life may be unbearable for “some” people, for the overwhelming majority, life is perceived as happiness and joy and a blessing! In fact, even for those who do decide to commit suicide, life is just as desirable, and it becomes unbearable only when they finally decide to commit suicide. In other words, we cannot –again– generalize exceptions in order to characterize the gift of life. The overwhelming majority of mankind looks upon life as a GIFT and a blessing and a good thing.
Even the overwhelming majority of suicide cases has the same impression of life until the moment that something “goes wrong” with it - which explains why they reach a certain age and have not committed suicide earlier! But, to prevent the atheist from dodging the subject, the issue here is not whether others have committed suicide, but why HE HIMSELF HAS NOT ABANDONED THIS LIFE!
“I would have committed suicide, if I didn’t have a family to look after” might be one way of slipping out of the relentless question. But this kind of response only makes things worse for him. Because, if life is indeed that terrible, WHY WOULD HE WANT TO FEND FOR HIS FAMILY’S LIFE? If death is a means of deliverance, then why doesn’t he “deliver” (kill) his family and then himself? If he truly believed what he said –that life is so bad– he wouldn’t want to leave his beloved family behind, to live in such an unbearable world! In fact, he would not only have to kill his family, but also as many other people as he could, in order to….save them!
“But my family wants to live, and so do the others! I have no right to deprive them of this!” the atheist might reply. And here is where is inadvertently coinciding with our opinion: that life is a gift, a blessing and a joyous thing. It is not necessarily the black landscape that he wants to present, in order to disguise his own faithlessness. So then, if life is indeed a Gift, one must acknowledge the existence of a Donor!
If the rest of the world sees life as a blessing, and only a number of atheists see it as “hell”, then….there is something wrong with them, and not the rest of the world! If the rest of the world cherishes life as a gift while they cherish death, and also, if the rest of the world can see the joys of life and offer thanks to the Creator, while they see everything around them pitch black and deny Him, then perhaps they should be discussing their problem with a psychiatrist (if not a local mortician).
Could it be, that it is NOT the suffering around them that makes them so pessimistic, but their own LACK OF FAITH?
Why does suffering exist in the world?
Our atheist however may insist: “Yes, life may be great for most people, but why should even those few people be allowed to suffer, if God does exist?”
By now, our atheist is beginning to rationalize. He no longer sees the world as a general place of torment but something that is basically good, and that only a certain number of people feel miserable living in it. And that is indeed how things are! So, why should things be that way?
It is precisely because of one’s lack of faith! God has endowed us with a conscience, which tells us what is proper and what is not. Do we listen to our conscience? Or do we go ahead and do anything that enters our mind?
He also revealed –through Christ– what the proper thing is: “to love our fellow man, as we love ourselves”. This is the commandment that embodies all the others.
If each one of us truly loved his fellow man the way one loves oneself, would he rob him? Would he kill him? Would he torture him? If we truly obeyed God’s commandment, wouldn’t most of the misfortunes in the world cease automatically?
However, we are intelligent beings, and God has created intelligent beings with the FREEDOM to choose how they will live their life. Freedom has been praised by mankind throughout the ages; Freedom is a precious commodity, and God likewise RESPECTS IT. He has given us the freedom to choose HIS COUNSEL (because His “commandments” are, in reality, counsel), so that we might live unhindered by passions in a state of happiness, or, choose to pursue our own, independent and GODLESS course and make our life a “living hell”.
The “likeness of God” (which is God’s purpose for Man) presupposes FREE-WILLED BEINGS, in the same manner that He is free.
Mankind has chosen to pursue its own independent course. And all the misfortunes that befall us are simply the outcome of our disregard for God. Ours is the choice, hence ours is the suffering. God is not to blame. He had given us advance warning. If everyone were to suddenly realize this and ask Him to come and save us, HE WOULD DO IT.
However, the majority of mankind nowadays had chosen a course of its own, and it does not even cross its mind to ask for help from God. In fact, they blame Him for the wrong choices that THEY made, which have brought them to this impasse!
The Saints, on the other hand, are ALREADY experiencing Paradise, simply for having heeded His words.
The cause of tribulations of the righteous
“But even so, the world is still imperfect! Even if people did conform to God’s commandments, people would still die! Even those who are presently conforming to them are also going to die!” our atheist discussant may tell us. But this too is a statement that does not apply – either to the past or to the present time.
God provided an absolutely perfect person –Adam– as a “representative” sample of mankind, for the purpose of establishing Paradise and Eternal Life on earth. Only Christ could be compared to him, in purity and kindness. No other human being could ever achieve such standards. And yet, even Adam was a failure! He freely chose to pursue a path of his own, thus FAILING to pave the way for Paradise for Mankind.
But, where Adam failed, Christ succeeded. God became a human, in order to do what humankind was unable to: to defeat imperfection and death, on our behalf, so that we can live in happiness forever (at least those of us who care enough to pay attention to God).
But even 2000 years down the line, mankind continues to deny Christ and declines to accept His righteousness. Thus, even the righteous ones, who have attained enlightenment and theosis through Christ, are also compelled to live and to die in an imperfect world. Because of the many, even the few righteous are subjected to suffering. The only difference is that when the righteous eventually depart from this world, their souls, now freed of those who opposed salvation, WILL LIVE ON, IN BLISS. Therefore the righteous will not partake of death; they will live eternally and will be enjoying a share of God’s life. And when all of mankind finally calls out to Him in unison, they will return to live, bodily, in an incorruptible, perfect world.
“But all this is sheer imagination! Who can prove that the righteous are in Paradise? Who has ever witnessed their presence?” the atheist may once again ask.
But here, he would be clearly TURNING A BLIND EYE! The History of mankind abounds with the appearances of Saints of the Church. Millions of people can verify that they have seen and have received help from Saints, who ARE ALIVE. This denial of the millions of testimonies renders the atheists’ claim hopelessly void.
And the reasons that atheists have never experienced a manifestation of God or of saints in their lives, and only the faithful have been blessed with such revelations, are the following two:
The first reason is because both God and His saints respect the atheists’ preference to deny God and they DO NOT FORCE THEIR FAITH, and
The second reason is that wherever God may have discerned in the heart of an atheist a good intention (but deep down, actually a desire for God), that person CEASES TO BE AN ATHEIST!
The imperfection of the world
Of course this world is not perfect. In fact, certain atheists have even drafted lists of all the imperfections of the human body, in order to prove that Man is not a perfect creation and to opine that only a nonexistent (or imperfect) god would produce an imperfect creation! As an example, they mention the “blind spot” that exists in the human eye, which is apparently attributed to a ‘manufacturing obstacle’ that leaves a section of the optical range without vision (but goes by unnoticed by us, as we have become accustomed to it). Thus, they assert that if God were indeed “the perfect craftsman”, He would have created the human eye without any blind spot – an entirely feasible accomplishment, as it would mean a simple shifting of the ‘obstacle’ that obstructs the light.
We shall agree with them, that neither Man, nor the world are perfect. Besides, this is clearly stated in the Holy Bible, when in Genesis it says that the world was created “very fine”; it does not say it was created “PERFECT”.
We shall also agree with them, that a perfect God designs perfect creations.
But when can the perfect God’s creations be regarded as perfect?
Only AT THE END OF CREATION! All creations are IMPERFECT, during the phase of Creation. After all, the term “imperfect” does not only imply that which is not impeccable. An ‘imperfect’ thing is also one that is not yet complete! And God’s Creation is indeed not yet finished.
It was not God’s intention to simply fashion planets and biological beings. Nor did He intend to merely create intelligent beings. God’s purpose was to fashion GODS THROUGH GRACE; To fashion creatures that would be able to reach the stage of sharing in His Divine Life: only then will Creation be in its PERFECT state.
All of Creation (as Quantum Physics has proven, in a most amazing and dramatic way) hinges its very existence on THE INTELLIGENT OBSERVER. Intelligence is the motive and definitive power that governs Creation. Man, as the apex of Creation, is the one who will lead the rest of Creation towards its perfection. Up until such time, Creation, which is dependent on Man, will continue to be imperfect and will await its turn to become incorruptible, in the manner that the Apostle Paul had described:
“For I consider that the tribulations of the present time are not of any worth, when compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us; for the expectation of Creation is awaiting the revelation by the sons of Man. Creation was subjugated to futility, not voluntarily but by the one who subjected it, in the hope that Creation would likewise be liberated from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of God’s children. For we know that all of Creation groans together and aches together (with Man), up to the present time; not only this, but even those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit as well as ourselves also sigh inwardly, in expectation of the adoption, and the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:18-23).
We therefore invite every person, to unite his voice and his struggles to the Body of Christ – the Church – and to invite Him with us, so that every sorrow and pain might be erased from mankind:
“And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. And death shall exist no more. Nor will there be mourning or weeping or pain any more. For the first things have passed. And the One who was seated on the throne said: “Behold! I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21: 3-5).
Translation by A.N.
Article published in English on: 27-7-2007.
Last update: 27-7-2007.