Here is a parable I have been working on called ‘The agnostic who became an atheist”. I will print the parable below and hold off on giving a commentary until my next post. I recently gave a talk entitled ‘On the Supreme difficulty of atheism and why only the Priest can attain it’, which may help contextualize this parable. This talk is available online somewhere.
There was once a world-renowned philosopher who, from an early age, set himself the task of proving once and for all the non-existence of God. Of course such a task was immense for the various arguments for and against the existence of God had done battle over the ages without either being able to claim victory.
He was however a genus without equal and possessed a singular vision which drove him to work each day and long into every night so as to understand the intricacies of every debate, every discussion and every significant work on the subject.
The philosophers project began to earn him respect among his fellow professors when, as a young man, he published the first volume of what would turn out to be a finely honed, painstakingly researched, encyclopaedic masterpiece on the subject of God. The first volume of this work argued persuasively that the various ideas of God that had been expressed throughout antiquity where philosophically incoherent and logically flawed. As each new volume appeared he offered, time and again, devastating critiques of the theological ideas of God that had been propagated in different periods of history. In his early forties he completed the last volume, which brought him up to the present day. Yet the completion of this phenomenal work did not satisfy him. For he still had not found a convincing argument that would demonstrate once and for all the non-existence of God.
And so he spent a further sixteen years researching arguments and interrogating them with a highly nuanced logical analysis. But by now he was in his late fifties and had slowly begun to despair of ever completing his life project.
Then, late one evening while he was locked away in his study, bent wearily over his old oak desk surrounded by a vast sea of books; he felt a deep stillness descend upon the room. As he sat there motionless everything around him seemed to radiate an inexpressible light and warmth. Then, deep in his heart he heard the voice of God address him,
“Dear friend, the task you have set yourself is a futile one. I have watched on all these years as you pour your being into this endless task. Yet you fail to understand that your project can only be finished with my help. Your dedication and single mindedness has not gone unnoticed and it has won my respect. As such I will tell you a sacred secret meant only for a few… dear friend, I do not exist”
Then, all of a sudden, everything appeared as it was before and the philosopher was left sitting at his desk with a deep smile breaking across his face. He put his pen away and left his study never to return. Instead he joined a monastery where he saw out the last of his days in gratitude to God for helping him complete his lifelong project.