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I am happily married to a wonderful, Godly woman. We both love Jesus and worship God. I compose and perform Christian and instrumental music. I am an ordained minister, and my wife and I are founders and pastors of ALM CyberChurch in Second Life (http://almcyberchurch.org).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Atheists Unknown

The dictionary defines an atheist as "a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings." For the purpose of this article, let's narrow down our definition; "narrow down" in a way that makes it broader -- broader in that it encompases almost everyone on earth.

The atheist traditionally denies anything beyond the physical/material world. For them, science is divine revelation, "divine" referring to that which comes from the mind of man, "mind" referring to the result of chemical activity within the human brain.

We're all afraid of the dark, for when we close all the doors, shut all the blinds, pull the drapes, and turn off all the lights, our mind looks elsewhere for vision. And we are, often unknowingly, afraid to see anything with which we are not familiar.

The meditator attempts to face this fear, seeing their own journey into the unknown as a great adventure. Some might even seek out a completely dark, completely silent place which will allow them to plunge into the unknown with as little as possible to hold them back.

Those who have pursued such a practice, or any of many other related practices, for many years and with great dilligence, sometimes find themselves melting away, becoming one with what they believe to be God -- everything. There is no longer a "me" and "you," but there is "all." But what happens next? They think they have arrived. They then become enlightened atheists, in our "modified" definition of the word.

So this will make sense, let us define "atheist" as one who does not believe in God as he is, but accepts something else as God, or the "highest reality."

For the traditional atheist, reason is the roadmap, and the material world is the highest reality. Physical science then becomes their God.

For the one who has experienced oneness with the universe, that is their highest reality. They believe they have entered the place of all knowledge, all life, the source of all things -- God, by whatever name the ego may call it. This level of reality then becomes their God.

Others may worship something higher -- some ONE higher. They may call him by his name, and might reject anything below him as comparitively insignificant. But when confronted with something that is not in line with something they believe is true, they instantly reject it as absolutely false. In this way, when it comes to another aspect of God which isn't in line with their image of God, they become atheists as well -- the atheist as we have defined the word for this article -- someone who is afraid of what they cannot see.

And that brings us to a more specific definition of the word in this discussion: Atheist: Someone who, being afraid of what is dark to them, clings to their own perceived reality at the expense of anything potentially higher, or any potentially illuminating truth which does not conform with what they have accepted as the light of truth. In doing so, they reject God with or without knowing they are doing so. In this way, someone can be this kind of atheist while thinking they believe in God, or "a" god.

They are "Atheists Unknown."

"There is nothing beyond the physical." People from all walks of life who believe in the supernatural or the soul see this as narrow-minded and false. But they fall into the same narrow ditch by believing "There is nothing beyond ______ (whatever they have experienced or believe)."

The Muslim rejects the blood sacrifice of Jesus (as do most other religions of the world). The New Ager rejects the God of the Bible altogether, asserting that we are God, since God is the universal mind that can be experienced during deep meditation. Christians reject certain aspects of God, whether it is his Holy Spirit's activities, his justice and judgement, his holiness, or his mercy and love.

That being said, the one whose sins are washed by the blood of the Lamb of God is infinitely better off than the one who has minimized his or her limits of truth but is still on heaven's death row.

The point I'd like for us to take away from this is that traditional atheism is only one form of the fear and denial that comes naturally to us all.

If you believe there is nothing beyond the physical world, you are, obvious to everyone else, an atheist.

If you believe there is nothing greater than the universal mind and the supernatural things people consider the spirit realm, you are a different kind of atheist -- one who thinks you believe in God, but who denies there is anything greater than a counterfeit or something bearing his image.

If you believe in the God who is higher than the oneness of all creation, then you are far better off, but you might be a partial atheist, denying the working of his Spirit, his power and willingness to heal, deliver, to work miracles in our lives, his holiness and his command that we draw close to him and be transformed, through trial and obedience, into his image, or his mercy and love for us all, even if we are still in our sins ("God demonstrates his own love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"), loving us too much to leave us there.

It's natural to be afraid of the dark. But let's recognize that fear and, instead of thinking we have it all figured out and worshiping the first scene-blocking idol of truth we encounter, let's always remember that there is always much, much more we don't know, and there is always an infinite horizon beyond what we can see, hear, and experience.

In the book of Revelation, we see the angels around the throne day and night saying, "Holy, holy, holy!" Are they like ghosts in haunted houses? Types of recordings that just keep playing over and over again? Did God not give them any other vocabulary, or enable them to do anything or go anywhere else? Or, instead, are they and will they forever be seeing another facet of God's holiness and beauty? Just maybe, even being face to face with God for all eternity, they have not and never will know it all.

We crave knowledge. This craving mixes with our fear of the dark, usually with our thinking we have only that craving rather than fear, and it causes us to latch on to what we think is ultimate truth, be it our religion, our experiences, or our science. But once we do so, a part of us starts to die. We even tend to turn a blind eye to evidence that we might be wrong, simply because it disagrees with what we've insisted is ultimate truth or highest reality.

Don't be an atheist unknown (or known, for that matter). Face your fear of the dark -- the unknown. Never be fooled into thinking you've seen the ultimate reality (the angels haven't even after thousands of years). And be willing to leave your assumptions and conclusions behind rather than letting them keep you in the dark. And always be moving toward the light that is God!

7 Comments:

At July 16, 2010 at 3:02 PM , Blogger Jersey McJones said...

First of all, the atheist does not believe in "divine" anything. "Divine" is a religious concept. Secondly, the atheist does not view "the material world is the highest reality." There is no "highest" reality. Only reality. Finally, physical science is not our "God." We don't worship it, it holds no spiritual place for us. It simply is what what it is, just as English is a langauage, or the frog an amphibian, physical science is just the study of the physical world.

What you're doing here may seem like kindly spiritual advise, and I take it as that, but please understand that some people would see this as a rather sleazy bait 'n switch. You are simply projecting your own rationale for your own religious beliefs on other people who do not share your beliefs. Did it ever occur to you that the reasons one is an atheist are that he does not believe in the "divine," he has no need of a "God," and he simply sees no evidence of anything beyond the physical realm?

If you want to change a mind, you must first at least try to understand the mind you're trying to change. You quite obviously do not understand why a person would be an atheist. Why don't you ask first, then try to make an argument? I can tell you right now why a person would be an atheist - he simply sees no evidence of the existence of God. That's it. Pretty simple, really.

JMJ

 
At July 16, 2010 at 3:13 PM , Blogger Rev. Benjamin Faust said...

This article was posted in the blog "Meditating Christians." Christians are the target audience, so I'm not attempting to convince atheists of anything, but rather that those who think they're not atheists have more in common with them than they might have ever thought. "Divine" and "God" was attributed to atheists as a comparison for the target audience to ponder those similarities. We do, however, all have a "god" (what or who we give our allegience to) whether we call it that or not.

 
At July 16, 2010 at 3:39 PM , Blogger Jersey McJones said...

Well, I'm sorry I intruded on your blog, then. My apologies. I simply tried to point out that not everyone needs, believes in, or wants the same things as you. I give no "allegiance" to atheism. It is simply an opinion.

JMJ

 
At July 16, 2010 at 4:08 PM , Blogger Rev. Benjamin Faust said...

You didn't intrude, it's open to whoever wants to read it. I was just pointing out the target audience, and that it was written for how the Christian's mind works, not the atheist's. It would have been written quite differently for a different target audience.

 
At July 16, 2010 at 11:00 PM , Blogger Jersey McJones said...

Just the same, I'm not sure what you were driving at here. You seem to be saying that if you don;t believe in a very particular way about God, you are an atheist. Don't you think that's a little broad, or am I misinterpreting you.

JMJ

 
At July 17, 2010 at 10:01 AM , Blogger Rev. Benjamin Faust said...

I tried to make it clear this was not the actual definition of "atheist," and that, just for the points being made here, we're expanding the definition to include just about everyone. Maybe I didn't stress that enough.

And your previous point is correct, that it's not necessarily fear that causes someone to believe or not believe. However, that is very often a factor, and we usually don't even realize that's the case. For example, magnetic stones were once thought to have been charmed by a sorcerer and were therefore thought evil. However it "felt," this was fear of the unknown. They ceased to be so "scary" when we discovered magnitism, because it ceased to be quite so unknown.

For the other extreme, telepathy and precognition were (and still are) thought by some to be imagination or trickery, and yet a very few brave scientists who are willing to have their reputations destroyed by the scientific community have conducted thousands of scientific tests to demonstrate those two things exist (among others).

There are doubtless many atheists who simply see no reason to believe. There are also doubtless many who, without even knowing it, are afraid of what doesn't have a foundation that seems solid to them and is beyond their intellectual control.

Many generalizations here, and I hope those don't offend you. The point for those who already believe is that they should learn from the example of those they think are in deception, and realize that anyone with any system of belief can walk that same path, if they close their eyes to things that disagree with what they think they already know. Of course that point could help anyone, although a different presentation of it would be more effective for different groups of people.

 
At October 18, 2012 at 1:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

great!

 

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