I am continually engaged in an ongoing conversation with my beloved Atheist. A perpetual theme in our conversation often revolves around his point that a loving God would make it abundantly clear that He exists – leaving no question. “Where,” he asks, “is the clear, undeniable, and irrefutable empirical evidence for God’s existence.”
I have given this a good deal of thought as of late because in my old protestant days I would have gathered all those wonderful apologetic books that lay out all the “evidence” to show how “reasonable” our faith is and I would have gone through all the “data” with him. Honestly, I’ve never viewed this data as being very conclusive and have to some extent believed that there was always a need for a ‘leap of faith.” So, why would I have utilized such an approach anyway? Quite simply because I thought exactly as He did: my religion was one founded upon the “eye of the senses” and the “eye of reason.” From my perspective, he was right: there had to be at least enough empirical and reasonable “proof” for God’s existence to make the “leap of faith” reasonable (hmmm…now that doesn’t really make sense, does it?)
As I mentioned before, in Orthodox Spirituality there is only one way to truly see God – through the eyes of a purified heart. Until we do this, we are unenlightened and unable to perceive Him no matter the evidence laid before us. Fr. Maximos in the book Mountain of Silence is quite blunt when asked on this matter:
[the author asks Fr. Maximos] “So, Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysics are not the way to know God?”
“But of course not. That’s the message given to us by all the elders and saints throughout history. Logic and reason cannot investigate and know that which is beyond logic and reason…Christ Himself revealed to us the method. He told us that not only are we capable of exploring God but we can also live with Him, become one with Him. And the organ by which we can achieve that is neither our sense nor our logic but our hearts…do you understand what this means? Those who wish to investigate whether God exists must employ the appropriate methodology which is none other than the purification of the heart from egotistical passion and impurities.”
…then in a more serious tone I asked: “Are we to assume that the philosophical quest for God, one of the central passions of the Western mind from Plato to Immanuel Kant and the great philosophers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, has in reality been off its mark?”
Wow…How can I explain the “eye of contemplation” to my beloved Atheist when I am not at all sure that I myself have sufficient knowledge or experience of it? I am like one still chained in the cave that has only heard of the idea of sunshine and yet feel that I am qualified to lecture and pontificate on the topic of astrophysics.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:12 AM [+]