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By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 09, 2005

Touchstone's David Mills has some on-target words about in-yo-face literary atheism:

And there is also the fact that atheism has its uses for any fallen human being. I've read enough about the lives of some of these writers to suspect that they would find real belief in God, or even facing the possibility that God exists and has a plan for their life, rather threatening. If they believed in God, really believed in God, they'd have to become one of those people they make fun of in their novels.

The Christian recognizes that the choice to believe or reject God is at least as much moral and spiritual as intellectual. When a man says "God is unbelievable," he means, whether he knows it or not, "I can't believe in God." He may, perhaps, be unable to believe from real intellectual conviction, or he may be unable to believe because he's a creature of pride or a practiced liar or an adulterer or a glutton or because he's repeatedly compromised his conscience to get where he is and knows it.

I would gloss Mills's "I can't believe in God" as "I can't summon the will (energy, desire, courage) to face the demands that God would make on me." C.S. Lewis has an excellent and astringent passage on the subject, one that disturbs the complacency of us bead-rattlers as well:

The man who remains an unbeliever for such reasons is not in a state of honest error. He is in a state of dishonest error, and that dishonesty will spread through all his thoughts and actions: a certain shiftiness, a vague worry in the background, a blunting of his whole mental edge, will result. He has lost his intellectual virginity. Honest rejection of Christ, however mistaken, will be forgiven and healed -- "Whoso shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him" [Lk 12:10]. But to evade the Son of Man, to look the other way, to pretend you haven't noticed, to become suddenly absorbed in something on the other side of the street, to leave the receiver off the telephone because it might be He who was ringing up, to leave unopened certain letters in a strange handwriting because they might be from Him -- that is a different matter.

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  • Posted by: - Sep. 09, 2005 5:14 PM ET USA

    "Anyone who makes up his mind to evade the uncertainty of belief will have to experience the uncertainty of unbelief, which can never finally eliminate for certain the possibility that belief may after all be the truth. It is not until belief is rejected that its unrejectability becomes evident." Benedict XVI, then Cdl. Ratzinger in Introduction to Christianity

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