Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Atheism andHuman Knowledge Part IV

which is  acknowledging the existence of Personal God and a God which somehow revealed Himself to humans  carries with it  a total picture  of the nature of man , his existential situation and his living relationship with the living God. The most essential aspect of religion is the fact that it  transforms not only human beings , the mode  of living  in time and space but also has implications for eternity . Humans are very much aware  of the  transitoriness  of  life and life's direction into the mystery of eternity . It is only in religion  where  humans can get direction and assurance of meaning of existence. Those fundamental questions  have somehow to be faced  by every normally developed human being . However we meet quite often people who do not show any  serious interest in such questions and also those who are positively hostile to any  implications of transcendent religious beliefs. Human beings are free to think their own way, to live in their own way and even  to choose  suicidal negation of life. The ways human beings relate  to the existence of God and religion   depend on  many   factors of their lives, the circumstances into which they are born and quite often have to live in , their mental development, their emotional   balance or luck of it, as well as  their destructive forces  somehow inscribed in their nature like  hatefulness desire to destroy  and kill,  irrational self-adoration, and even mental collapse.  Perhaps  the root of human misery is the irrational conviction that man does not need God and  does not want to acknowledge the transcendent  character of God's will for man . Another reason for atheistic thinking is the  lack of courage  to think for oneself and to be different  even if many others have their own  other views.  It seems easy to become a passive obedient conformist to the impersonal  pressure  of the many and  the imposed ways of living  structure of the society into which one is born and even accept unexamined religious beliefs . Thinking is by no  means an  easy way of finding  one's place within the context of the universe . It is important to remember also that  effective thinking requires ability to think logically  in order to arrive to  true conclusions. Of course all humans have a mind to think with  but there are other desires  inscribed in  human nature   and  passions  which very often  are more powerful than  reflection and thought .
           In modern times since  few centuries there developed  a new method of inquiry into nature : science  is this method and   the explosions of scientific accomplishment in very many areas of human concern are  admirable and beyond any criticism . We are living surrounded by  many things and gadgets every day  to such an extent that we hardly notice how much our lives are  different  from those of our ancestors. No wonder therefore that scientists of today  receive respect and are given complete trust without any hesitation. Many people  accept  uncritically almost any  facts or  theories  as long as they  have the label scientifically-proven. 
               However science  is basically  an attempt to submit all forces of nature for  service of human projects. Science is dealing only with  so called facts and is completely neutral to  values , meaning or the ultimate questions of the human mind . Science therefore  is not and  cannot be hostile to religious beliefs. Why?. Because as already pointed out it's concern is only with facts and nothing but facts. In itself science is not philosophy but only a gradual  and piecemeal  discovery of different various phenomena of nature. Any claim that science replaces  God  or makes God obsolete,  as some people like to claim, is based on misunderstanding. Contemporary science whether we talk about modern physics, astronomy , paleontology, biology or even psychology and psychiatry is not in any way against religious beliefs. As a matter of fact it contributes immensely to such beliefs. Such scientific theories like the big bang  theory (the beginning of the cosmos) the theory of the expanding universe or  the biological theory of evolution of life are  only broadening the human understanding  of the existential situation in which man finds himself.  It is only when science is turned into philosophy,  that it may become inimical  to religious beliefs. The atheistic attitude   in  philosophy   leads to  skepticism, scientific reductionism and materialism.  It is essential to remember that scientific  theories are never final or absolute. There always  exists the possibility of a new discovery and replacement of already accepted theory with another  more comprehensive and  more universal. From all this it follows that  science in itself can  only be  helpful for broadening of the human mind and is compatible with religious belief. It  is not  a valid argument against  religion.

            As already mentioned the achievements of science are beyond counting and the impact of science on everyday life is very deep . Man conquered space  by landing on the moon and soon enough  man will land on Mars . The progress in medicine   prolongs human life and will continue to prolong it. Future generations will live almost certainly far beyond the average  age  of life in our time and in many directions of inquiry man  will continue making progress. However  we also  realize the  possibilities of the darker side of  human nature  and the possibility of  atomic  war and the irreplaceable damage it can make  beyond any imagination .  It can even spell the end of mankind on this globe. Anyone who lived through most of the XX c. knows well the  terrible possibilities of organized total war. The  throwing of the atomic bomb in Japan   is a serious warning  against easy optimism about the future of mankind on this globe. This fact only stresses  the importance of moral development of man which sadly seems to be lacking in human beings.
            Our knowledge of  God is transcending  the scientific methods of inquiry. God is  Self-existing, Eternal Spirit Creator  of the whole universe  that is of  all contingent beings which as contingent  require  creative activity of God. Creation is a continuous reality  it is not something that happened in the past and  was completed in time because time itself and space was  co-created by God.  Since God is immaterial Spirit , He cannot be known in any scientific  experiment or seen under the microscope or telescope. We know God only in analogical way  on the philosophical level . However God of religion  is  a Personal God , mysterious and all perfect in Himself. God did not have to create  any finite being at all.  Neither there was any need to create.  When all is done and said  there  is      only one possible intelligible reason  why Creation happened and is continuously present:
              God is  Love and creation is a gift freely given not deserved in any way of course. Human beings therefore are  creatures and this word  describes them in a deepest sense . It means  complete and radical existential dependence of humans on God.  Since God is Love  He left freedom  for man even  to the point  of  abuse of this freedom, rejection of God Himself and hate directed  against Him. Since however God is Love  as long as  a person lives  there is  open possibility to reunite oneself to God.  This fact  of permanent possibility  of change  towards God is  beautifully  pictured  by  Christ's parable of the  Prodigal son.
           God did not  want to have  mechanical  robots  but  responsible free  self-determining persons  with their own  inherent dignity. Man   has therefore unconditional value  even for God  because he/she is the object of God's Love.  For instance  in Christian religion  God himself  so loved man that He  gave his only son who became human and  was exposed  to all the hate, rejection and persecution, suffering  during His life on earth. 
            Christ was called by his enemies a blasphemer, deceiver, devil , friend of publicans and sinners ,  glutton, mad , malefactor, sinner , thief, transgressor. But He also was called by other people Lord , Prophet , Righteous , Son of God.
He was condemned  by the religious leaders of the time , crucified, killed and buried . He  predicted    His death and resurrection.  Through  all those  sufferings and deeds Christ  accomplished  salvation   of all humanity , although to many  He remains completely unknown   or known only superficially or in distorted way. We should not be surprised about  the confusion about the mystery of redemption because even  when it comes to the nature of man we are constantly  guessing  who or what the human being is. We have  the man of evolution , we have the man in evolution , we have the economic man of Karl Marks, the psychological Man of Sigmund Freud , the existential man of Kierkegaard  and  we are  still in the dark because  those descriptions of man keep  constantly changing.  Our vision of the immensity of the universe , the age of  known cosmos and  the  short period  of existence of life,  evolution of  different form of life and  the still  shorter period  of the appearance of man  seemingly  reduce  man to very insignificant  being  depriving him of any  serious  dignity and meaning of his existence . This picture of man fits   atheistic  mentality, and some  existential philosophers. Often they  draw the conclusion  that human life   is not only insignificant but really  absurd.  If this is the case  then  it does not matter what you believe or what you do with  this absurd life because  it is radically meaningless and leads  nowhere. As already pointed out  methodical realism  is the best valid way to understand  reality surrounding us and our own position within the context of the universe. The  religious view of man and  his relationship to God the Creator  gives the  unchangeable and solid  foundation for the meaning of  life . It rejects  any philosophy or scientific attitude which deprives man of his dignity and destiny. Only human beings are aware of eternity and it is eternity which is open to man within the context of theistic  and religious  belief.  
        Therefore  Pantheism,  Panentheism , Materialism and  Skepticism all are  not really  sound  philosophies.  Methodical realism   and  metaphysical philosophy of being on the basis  of  the contingency  of all finite entities points to the existence of  God and  provides a philosophical underpinning  for theistic religion.
         God is  a personal God and  a Loving and Benevolent Creator . This  belief  creates   the problem of existence of evil in this world. By evil  we understand the natural  catastrophes like floods,  hurricanes, sudden earthquakes etc. which all affect human existence on earth. However    there is  also another source of evil and it comes from man  himself   for man is capable  of hate, destruction , murder and mass extinction of  his/her fellow humans  without even feeling  remorse of conscience.  All nations  on this globe live in constant tension and possibility of war. In every human life there is  some  amount of suffering  both emotional and      physical, there is  sickness,  aging  and inevitable death. The problem therefore can be  stated as follows:  
            1. If God is all good why is there evil in His creation?
            2. If God is omnipotent He  could have created a world without the evil so obvious in our experience.
             3. Therefore God is either evil and  created evil with the universe or He could not create a better world without the evil, therefore God does not deserve  worship and  dedication required by any true religion.

                          See: Atheism and the Problem of Evil