“Of all people, the atheist is the most unfortunate”

st_nektarios_of_aegina

St. Nektarios of Ægina

Of all people, the atheist is the most misfortunate person because he has been deprived of the only good thing upon the earth: faith—the one true guide toward the truth and happiness. The atheist is a most misfortunate person because he is deprived of hope: the essential staff needed to journey through life’s lengthy path. The atheist is a most misfortunate person because he is deprived of human love, which caresses the aching heart. The atheist is a most misfortunate person because he has been deprived of the divine beauty of the Creator’s image, which the Divine Artist has etched within man and which faith unveils.

The eye of the atheist sees in creation nothing other than the operation of natural processes. The brilliance and magnificent beauty of the Divine Creator’s image remain hidden and undetectable to him. As he glances aimlessly at creation, nowhere does he discover the beauty of God’s wisdom, nowhere does he see God’s omnipotence, nowhere does he observe God’s goodness and providence, nowhere does he discern the Creator’s righteousness and love for creation. His mind is neither capable of ascending higher than the visible world nor reaching beyond the boundaries of physical matter. His heart remains anesthetized and indifferent before God’s ever-present divine wisdom and power. Within it, not even the slightest desire to worship the Lord exists. His lips remain closed, his mouth silent, and his tongue frozen. His soul voices no hymn, doxology, or praise as an expression of gratefulness to God.

The peace of the soul and the serenity of the heart have been removed by disbelief; instead, mourning has inundated the depth of his being. The delight, which the faithful person experiences from executing God’s divine commandments, and the great pleasure that he enjoys from an ethical way of life are unknown feelings for the atheist. The elation which faith bestows to the believer has never been felt by the atheist’s heart. The assurance that arises from faith in God’s providence, which relieves man from the anxiety of life’s worries, is a power unknown to him.

creation-icon

The joy poured upon the entire universe has abandoned the heart of the atheist because God has fled from his heart. The ensuing void has instead been filled by sadness, dejection, and anxiety. The atheist lives in a dispirited state; listlessness has taken hold of his soul. He wanders astray in the lightless and expansive night of this present life without even one ray of light to illumine his crooked paths. There is no one to lead him or guide his footsteps. All alone, he passes through the arena of life with no hope of a better future. He walks amidst many traps, but there is no one to free him from them. He is caught within these snares and crushed by their weight. In times of difficulty and sorrow, there is no one to alleviate or console him.

Feelings of love and gratitude remain unknown mysteries for the atheist. The atheist, having appointed matter as his principal governor, limited man’s true happiness within the narrow confines of temporary pleasures. Consequently, he constantly seeks to enjoy these pleasures and is ceaselessly concerned and preoccupied with them. The beauty of virtue is completely foreign to him. The atheist has not tasted the sweetness and grace of virtue. The atheist is oblivious to the source of true happiness and has raced toward the fountains of bitterness. He has been filled to satiety by ephemeral pleasures; satiety in turn has induced in him disgust; disgust has resulted in ennui; ennui has given rise to affliction; affliction has developed into pain; and, finally, pain has led to hopelessness. All the pleasures have lost their glitter and beauty because all of the world’s pleasures are transient, and, as such, are incapable of rendering the atheist fortunate.

Man’s heart was created to be filled by the greatest good; therefore, only when it enjoys this good does it leap and rejoice—because this good is God. God, however, has fled from the heart of the atheist. The human heart has infinite desires because it was created to embrace the infinite God. However, since the atheist’s heart is not filled with the infinite God, it can never be filled or satisfied with anything—even though it perpetually groans, seeks, and desires to do so. The pleasures of the world are incapable of filling the heart’s emptiness. The pleasures and delights of this world quickly evaporate, leaving within the heart dregs of bitterness. Similarly, vain honor and praise are accompanied by sorrows.

christcrucified

The atheist is unaware that man’s happiness is found not within the enjoyment of earthly pleasures but in the love of God—Who is the greatest and eternal good. He who denies God denies his own happiness and eternal bliss. The poor atheist struggles through life’s hard and toilsome journey, fearfully walking toward the end of his life without hope, headed for the grave that happily waits for him. The sweet waters of joy and happiness flow beneath his feet, while he, as another condemned Tantalus,1 is incapable of quenching his thirst and watering his tongue that has been dried and withered by atheism—for the waters flowing from the life-giving spring of faith recede from his lips.

The atheist has become a misfortunate slave subjugated to a harsh tyrant! How was your happiness stolen? How was your treasure seized? You lost your faith, you denied your God, you denied His revelation, and you rejected the abundant wealth of His divine grace.

How wretched is his life! It consists of a series of torments. His eyes see nothing joyful in nature. The natural world seems to him sterile and barren. It neither provides him with joy nor generates within him feelings of delight. None of God’s works smile at him. A mournful blanket covers the grace and beauty of the creation, which no longer contains anything attractive. His life has become an unbearable burden and a perpetual, unendurable misery.

Despair already stands before him as an executioner, and a merciless tyrant tortures this fearful man. Disbelief has corrupted the ethical powers of his soul; he has run out of courage and is now too week to resist. He is led, like a helpless being, by disbelief and handed over to the frightful bonds of despair. Unmerciful and uncompassionate despair, in turn, violently and harshly severs the thread of his pitiful life, and hurls him into the depths of perdition and darkness, from where he will resurface only when the voice of his divine Creator—Whom he denied—calls him to give an account of his disbelief, at which point he will be condemned and sent to the eternal fire.

anastasis

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη

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9 comments on ““Of all people, the atheist is the most unfortunate”

  1. Bonsai says:

    So very true. The other day I asked our believer step-son what he thought I wanted most for my own two children who are non-believers and he guessed right.

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  2. Drexus says:

    “deprived of the only good thing upon the earth: faith”

    A subjective claim by any account. It would be more credible to say atheists revere something other than faith as the only good thing upon earth: reason.

    “The atheist is a most misfortunate person because he is deprived of hope”

    This implies hope as only contingent of religious faith. I hope the author of this article will consider all aspects of human sociality, rather than only what’s offered within the confines of the social construct known as religion.

    “The atheist is a most misfortunate person because he is deprived of human love”

    How utterly denigrating and malevolently prejudice of anyones capability for love — as somehow contingent of religion. Such arrogance and superiority this claim carries — denies all humanity the right to exist based on a self-righteous doctrine. How unbelievably callous and cruel.

    “…which faith unveils.”

    This is a non-sequitur. Faith begets subjective interpretation — as believing absolutely anything without merit.

    “The eye of the atheist sees in creation nothing other than the operation of natural processes. The brilliance and magnificent beauty of the Divine Creator’s image remain hidden and undetectable to him.”

    By this incredulous statement, Vincent van Gogh doesn’t qualify as an artist? What about Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, or Sir Alfred Gilbert — were they all blind to the beauty of nature?

    “…nowhere does he observe God’s goodness and providence.”

    Certainly not in the bible, that’s for sure.

    “His mind is neither capable of ascending higher than the visible world nor reaching beyond the boundaries of physical matter”

    As quantum theorist, I would have to disagree.

    “Within it, not even the slightest desire to worship the Lord exists. His lips remain closed, his mouth silent, and his tongue frozen. His soul voices no hymn, doxology, or praise as an expression of gratefulness to God.”

    That’s the general idea.

    An atheist trusts in what’s verifiably true, not in what’s poetically colourful as somehow compulsory to truth.

    Religion is an unsustainable social construct that presents elaborate fantasy as fact, while claiming authority over an abstract concept untenable to sustainable social function within any society on earth.

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  3. wtquinn says:

    Fortune, misfortune, fate, etc. implies an event outside of one’s control. Something one did or does not choose.

    Take as an example the existence of The One True God. What did God do to earn that Job? Nothing. God had no cause. This is fortune/fate. So God said to Himself after He discovered His mirror image in a river He didn’t create, that He Was. And that He was Good. Then He said (to Himself, because He was alone) “I’ll need a throne, maybe a scepter too, … yeah, that sounds good, then I’ll make minions to serve Me, in perfect Love.”

    “And I will wear my magic cloak of invisibility to engage in sexual 3-way voyeurism in what should be private reproductive acts with humans and beasts, and I’ll call it all … Good.”

    “And if any of them transgress against Me (because I put their thoughts into their heads when I created them, and I’m monitoring/policing them), I’ll visit their iniquity upon them… … and their children …… in future generations.”

    Numbers 14:18 “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.”

    Exodus 34:7 “keeping steadfast love for thousands,forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

    The problem I have with the God as Passover Lamb, Scapegoat, etc. idea as Love, is this:

    “Forgive them for they know not what they do”

    If one does not know what one does (if one is unconscious of their crimes), then one is not responsible. Therefore nothing has been learned. Violence only continues. Unless like the late Thomas Szasz, one doesn’t buy into the criminal insanity defense (everyone knows what they are doing).

    God’s Self Sacrificial Love/Forgiveness in theory becomes in action/fast-forward time-travel Forgive-Them-Not Unpardonable Sin in practice. Post-Christ crucifixion, Rome destroys Jerusalem, surviving Jews pronounced guilty of deicide, future generations shipped to Germany for, …pre-determined foreknown future violence. How misfortunate!

    Christ knows He is going to torment Jews in Germany while dying on the cross, uttering forgiveness for their ignorance. And how does He know? Because it already happened – in the future. This does not appear to be Love and Forgiveness.

    Atheism is not a big problem, God having created it. The problem is The One Infinite Love Being inflicting torment on finite beings. As a pre-destined event in perpetuity.

    The above does not solve the problem for the atheist or the theist. It just describes the problem.

    It is not a license to commit crime.

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    • Eve Keneinan says:

      “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

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      • wtquinn says:

        The conscious and unconscious identity of the Christian, Muslim and Jew is bound up in the nationalization and rationalization of child sacrifice. Of murdering, doing violence to ancient offspring and threatening insiders and outsiders with violence who do not believe. Further threatening future violence against unbelievers from an invisible violent God. Requesting that God have “mercy” upon unbelievers is evidence of deep rooted psychological violence bound up in the identity of the believer.

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  4. I think Saint
    Nektarios must have once been an atheist. How else could he understand the worldview and feelings so well?

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  5. judyt54 says:

    that may be what we all aim for, as non-believers: autonomy, the ability and right to make our own conclusions and choices. I also think that kind of autonomy must scare the bejabbers out of anyone who’s used to being told what to do, daily, hourly.

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