Thinking through what it means to believe in a God beyond his sight, Matthew Becklo finds wisdom – and the possibility of common ground between the religious and atheists – in this passage from Michael Novak’s No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers:
Both the atheist and the believer stand in similar darkness. The atheist does not see God – but neither does the believer … we all stand in darkness concerning our deepest questionings … withal, a certain modesty should descend upon us. Believers in God well know, in the night, that what the atheist holds may be true. At least some atheists seem willing to concede that those who believe in God might be correct. Sheer modesty compels us to listen carefully, in the hopes that we might learn.
This is an especially good caveat for the faithful. Pope Francis wrote in his first encyclical Lumen Fidei (or “The Light of Faith”): “One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey…”
In other words, faith does not mean knowing God through and through and tapping a stockpile of straightforward answers.Instead, it’s an ontological light burning in the same existential darkness that scandalizes the atheist. “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness,” Francis reminds us, “but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.”
(Hat tip: Matthew Cantirino)