November 27, 2010

Atheism: The Boast of Our Time

By Photios Kontoglou

Atheism! The great title and boast of contemporary man. Whoever receives it (to receive it you only need to be tonsured a monk of the faithless) appears to others as wise even if he is illiterate, serious even if he is ridiculous, official even if he is insignificant, important even if he is unimportant, a scientist even if he is incompetent.

I do not refer to the person who truly wishes to believe but cannot, even if the deep rooted reason of unbelief is always pride, this viper that hides so cunningly in man that he cannot understand. Whatever it may be, the people who struggle and fight against their faithless self, they have our sympathy. For them we, who believe, beg God to help them believe as He did to the father with his sick child, by begging Christ to heal him. And He replied “If you believe, everything is possible to the believer”. And the father cried loudly and with tears replied, “I believe Lord. Help me in my little faith”.

The unbelievers we refer to here are not so. They not only never cried before to open the closed door with pain and contrition, the door of repentance, as that tormented father did, as written in the Bible, but were not even moved neither felt any bitterness from their unbelief, nor assumed any responsibility or blame. All the blame is God’s who does not appear to them to tell them, “Come, poke me, touch me, talk to me as you talk between yourselves, analyze me with your chemistry, dissect me with your anatomy blades, weigh me, measure me, satisfy your faithless feelings, and satiate your insatiable logic”.

These self appointed unbelievers, when they show off their smartness, pumped up by airs of pride and the cunning agility of their brains, are not in a position to understand how silly and narrow minded they appear to those who believe. Because to believe, they demand certain proofs that make the believer pity them for their limited view they have on spiritual matters. The believer is well aware how far the pondering of the unbeliever can get, for he too as a person has the same logic, the logic of the flesh, worldly logic. While the unbeliever is unaware of what is within the believer, and what is beyond practical knowledge, namely the mysteries that are hidden from the eyes, and because of this he believes they do not exist. With his foolishness he feels smug, and talks with disdain for those that are in a position to feel the deeper meaning of the world, while the unfortunate one is blind and deaf and believes he can hear everything. The believer has spiritual sight and spiritual hearing as well as some type of “super feeling”. The unbeliever, how could he comprehend that mystical world with the coarse means at his disposal, namely his bodily feelings? How could he touch the fine and odd messages of the world, when the poor one does not have the aerials that are needed to receive them?

The Apostle Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, in his own way, writes about what is possible for a believer to sense and what can an unbeliever sense. We preach, he says, the wisdom of God that is embedded in mystery and is hidden, the wisdom that God destined before time, for our glory and none of the rulers of this world came to know (namely, the wise men of worldly wisdom), and He uncovers it, that which according to the Scriptures no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor has ascended to the heart of any man, the things that God prepared for those that love Him. For us God revealed them through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit probes everything, even the depth of God. What man knows the essence of man but only the spirit of man that is within him? Likewise the mysteries of God no one knows but only the Spirit of God. We did not receive the spirit of the world (namely that of philosophy and worldly knowledge) but the Spirit of God to understand all the things that He gave us. And these (the gifts) are not expressed with words that human wisdom uses, but words that the Holy Spirit teaches, speaking spiritually with spiritual people. Unfortunately men of worldly knowledge (the rational) do not accept what is spoken by the Spirit of God, because they believe them to be nonsense and are thus not in a position to understand how to examine it spiritually. The spiritual man examines every person while he cannot be examined by anyone.

Unbelief has always existed. However, today with the atrocious vanity that consumes us, we display it as if it accords us great value. Whoever believes in God and revealed truth is ignored as narrow minded and foolish and is the brunt of all jokes. He is looked at as “defective” by most people, especially the people that know how to achieve in this life “success”, by making money and having a good time, giving not a cent to anyone, according to the saying, “Let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. For this, he who believes in God needs to be courageous and ignore worldly honors and material interests. The one that boasts that he believes in nothing, 1) The world has him in high regard and respect, even so the more non-believer he claims to be, that much more regard and respect is shown to him by the clever and serious world. Such a man frowns upon others, is of few and heavy words, is short tempered and gruff, and is seen as a “positive man”, a “strong man”. 2) Everything happens to him conveniently and is neither bothered nor is he worried for anything. He has no responsibilities or is pestered by anything. “Down here", he says, "is both hell and paradise. Life is to be enjoyed, for us clever ones. Those sleeping or drugged let them die."

Besides there is no easier thing than be an unbeliever! Just press one switch and everything comes conveniently. The devil said to Christ, “Kneel and worship me and the stones will become bread”.

So says the smart one: “For man to sit with four hundred brains, waste time with stupidity like the old women, with gods, with hell and paradise, with lampadas (oil lamps), with censing, with chalices, with priests and nuns! And in what age? In our age where science sends men to planets! Listen my friend can you believe how stupid is the world?"

That’s what they say about believers, the smart ones and the honorable of this world, who are applauded by many, who regard them as sensible in everything because they do not chase shadows but are strong minded and succeed in everything they try.
Yes, they succeed for a short time, for unbelief is “a wide gate and a broad road”, which unbelievers do not believe “leads to perdition” as Christ said, but “to worldly prosperity”. Belief however is “a narrow gate and a grief stricken road” which the unbelievers do not believe “leads to life” but “to worldly unhappiness and disdain”. “Many are they that enter through the wide gate” according to our Lord, and “few are those who find the narrow gate”.

All the unbelievers say that if they witness a miracle they would believe. However, belief does not happen by force, but with the involvement of the soul. For this, to all who ask for a miracle to believe it is not granted, according to our Lord’s address to the Pharisees, “This evil and adulterous generation demands for a sign to be given it”.

However, even if an unbeliever witnesses a miracle, his pride would not allow him to believe, for he fears that he may be seen as gullible and become disdained.

Sometime ago I wrote five or six brief articles on the miracles that were happening in a village on the island of Mytilene, with the title “Amazing Mysteries”. Many readers were moved a lot, especially the humble and illiterate people, “the babes of the world and the weak ones”. The clever ones however paid no attention to it and a few of them mocked me and wrote me that I write nonsense. But “God is not mocked”. From then to now the miracles have not ceased and progressively became more numerous and terrifying. People that see them, write me about them in detail and I compile them in a book that will be like a hot iron for unbelieving mouths [it concerns the book “Great Sign” that was published by “Astir” regarding the miracles of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene]. During this age, discoveries are made of ancient churches with relics of those who appear living to simple people, in their sleep or while they are awake or in icons and other heirlooms. Everything could have been found and could have quickly and completely uncovered this terrible crater, that would have swept the unbelievers with its sacred lava, if there were greater means at the disposal of the poor ones who dig with fire like faith.

However, whatever it may be, with God’s grace “the Healer of the sick and the Replenisher of those lacking”, it will come to a good end, this blessed task, and will triumph our indestructible faith, and it will be heard to the ends of the world with a thundering voice saying: “Who is so great a god as our God? You are the God who alone works wonders”.

Source: From the magazine, “Orthodox Philotheos Martyrdom" by Orthodox Kypseli Publication.