It is said that the quality which differentiates human beings from animals is the that of rationality – although many would dispute this. While we possess rationality and intellect, we don’t always use these faculties: we turn them off and instead quite often act in complete accordance with our animal nature.
We often make stupid decisions, despite knowing they are bad for us. We do them because there is nothing stopping us, we just want to do them – perhaps for the physical pleasure. We all know Coca-Cola is bad for us, very bad for us, yet some of us drink it like it’s water. At the ExCel Centre, host to some of the Olympic sports, the sight of Coca-Cola everywhere – as well as Fanta and Sprite (also owned by Coke) – was quite disturbing. When it is predicted that around 50 per cent of men and 43 per cent of women will be obese by 2030 in Britain, what sort of example is our country setting by making the face of the Olympics Coca-Cola and McDonald’s? Are we that keen on fulfilling the prophecy?
People say that they don’t believe in God. The following questions arise here: First, what do you mean when you say you don’t believe in God? Do you mean a) you don’t want to believe in God or is it b) you genuinely believe there is no Creator of the Universe and that we exist by chance?
But what does a belief in God and drinking Coke have to do with each other? A lot: the metaphor we will now read reveals something of the human condition.
People drink Coke knowing it is bad for them, knowing that it is destroying their bodies, knowing that the only benefit of drinking it is a temporary sugar high and/or a pleasurable tasting experience. For that moment while we are drinking that sugar-saturated, chemical-infested, long-term disease-ridden [black] drink, we are doing it because we don’t want to think about the consequences: our desire for it has overwhelmed us.
Likewise, we may know that not believing in God is bad, that it is destroying our souls and that drinking from the fountain of life gives us only temporary short-term pleasure, but we still do it, because we want to. We don’t want to face the possibility that there is a God and we don’t want to renounce our comfortable lives. Coke may taste good – life can be pleasurable too – but what are we doing to ourselves in the long-term? Has our desire for this ephemeral world overwhelmed us and blinded us from the Truth?
What would happen if we were dying of thirst? What will be the first drink you will want to survive? Water, right? Water represents purity and we naturally know that it is pure and is the best thing for us in dire situations. Likewise, what do people do – even atheists – when they are faced with death or are in calamitous circumstances? Many turn to God for help: it’s a natural reaction.
None of this means that there is a God. But if one doesn’t want to believe in God, there is sometimes nothing anyone can do to change this. Hearts which are blind are incapable of seeing.
Don’t misconstrue the point here: the problem is not people who don’t believe in God per se, indeed, many people have good reasons not to believe. Many atheists are also more ethical people than believers. The problem is when somebody perhaps arrogantly, out of pride or because their desirous nature has overtaken them, rejects something. The problem is also when somebody refuses to believe in something simply because he/she doesn’t want to; it might be easier to not believe than to believe.
Some say that religion just gives people meaning. Absolutely, that’s exactly what it does. Once you recognise the Truth, everything becomes meaning and signs, pointing to something higher than ourselves. Some say religion just gives us a purpose. Absolutely, there is no Real purpose without the light of religion and God; everything is chaos and nothingness. Some say “faith is good, but it doesn’t mean I need it”. While everyone needs faith and everyone has faith in something, if one doesn’t have faith in God, one often arrogates Lordship to oneself, and one’s morality becomes inexorably subjective.
The world is a veil which hides the divine presence from us; if we don’t want to unveil the the curtain so that God can become manifest, He never will. We will never be able to use the light within us to see into the darkness and find the One.
“If you are not my brother (or sister) in faith, you are my brother in humanity.”