A note: This article has been described by someone on a blog reference site as a description of why atheists don’t believe in God. Apparently they haven’t read the article. Throughout I use the pronoun “we” because I am not talking about non-believers, per se, but about both believers and unbelievers. I have not spared myself in the use of “we.” I think all of us have common issues. If you think otherwise, fine. But do not report me as having said what I have not said. Happy reading. – Fatherstephen
I offer this strange title as something of third in my series on belief in God. I do not mean here to offer reasons non-Christians may offer as their own reasons for non-belief in God. Frankly, I think most people don’t know why they don’t believe in God, and as an Orthodox Christian, I would assume that all discussions with those who do not believe in God, and a majority of discussions with those who claim to believe in God, would be be discussions that are rife with delusion, at least at some level. Thus my first reason why we cannot believe in God.
1. We do not believe in God because we are under delusion. We do not see the world as it truly is. We do not see ourselves as we truly are. Most importantly we do not see God as He truly is.
The Scriptures tell us: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). For this reason Orthodox Christians turn to the writings of the Fathers and the living treasures of the Tradition of the Church – the living legacy of those who have seen God. Our hardness of heart makes our own knowledge poor and frequently deluded. We need to hear and learn from the knowledge of others.
2. We do not believe in God because we have substituted false definitions for the true revelation of God.
Thus many Christians who speak about God, are speaking of the God of syllogisms, a God of rational construction, not the true and living God. This is an easy option that does not require the ascesis and struggle of those who know God in purity of heart.
3. We do not believe in God because we hate our enemies and are consumed with anger about the world.
My understanding of 1 John 4:7-8 would make it clear that we only know God to the extent that we love our enemies. Admittedly, this sets the bar very high for knowledge of God. But anything less is deluded on some level. This point also carries with it the assumption that knowing God involves certain activities on our part. I cannot (apart from some marvelous divine intervention) come to know God as I sit on my sofa, channel surfing, and emitting various opinions about the state of the world.
4. We do not believe in God because such belief would cost too much.
I never know how to judge this in the life of another. I can only speak from personal experience. In this case there are points and times in my life that I find it more convenient not to know God but to talk about God, to discuss religious questions. This is my refusal to move beyond the armchair and to enter into the sufferings of Christ, particularly as they are made known in the least of His brethren. Love is very expensive. If we cannot know God without love, we frequently choose not to afford it.
5. We do not believe in God because of pain and misconception.
I mean to state this in the most merciful manner possible. There are many who do not know God because their lives have been so emerged in pain and delusion (not self chosen) that the very mention of God is painful. These are fequently the victims of those who falsely claim to know God. By the same token, in God’s mercy, their very rejection of the false God that has been offered to them, is an act of grace, enabled by the true God. Such persons are far closer to the Kingdom of God than those who have inflicted their false religious views on them.
It is doubtless possible for me to expand this posting. Perhaps I will at a later date. For the present, it is all that I have within me.