Why is Atheism So Widespread?
Ignorance about the essentials of faith and religion is the primary reason why atheism starts to grow and develop. People whose minds, hearts, and souls have not been directed to the truth inevitably become vulnerable. Only God's help and grace can save them. If a community does not confront this trend decisively and successfully, its members' hearts and minds become open to other influences that lead to deviation.
Atheism first manifests itself as a lack of interest in the principles of faith. People with this attitude often claim that it is positive, for it represents a desire for the mind's independence and freedom of thought. As the demands of faith are strenuous, indifference turns toward what is easier. It seeks any pretext to excuse it from honest and serious reflection, and so falls easily into neglect, then heedlessness, atheism, and even contempt for religion.
In fact, atheism is neither grounded on sound reasoning nor supported by human intuition or experience. Still less is it based upon "scientific" truth. It is no more than a mood, typically lazy but sometimes active and militant, of not caring and of rebellion.
The countless manifestations of God within and outside ourselves testify that there is only One Creator and Governor who administers, directs, and sustains this universe. We may think of each manifestation as a letter or book from God to us, reflecting His Divine Attributes in a way that we can understand. These Attributes can be traced everywhere in creation, which is no more than a vast area for testing and teaching humanity. However, some people with incorrect concepts have erred greatly in their understanding and observation of these signs. As a result, they have presented nature, as well as it principles and relationships, it such a way that many people (especially the young) have abandoned true faith.
Much has been said and written about the natural world's delicate balance and innumerable subtle harmonies. Such an order can be attributed only to the All-Mighty. Planets and stars move within an interrelated complexity of drifts and orbits that are infinitely more precise than anything we could ever design or make. If what we make is accepted as evidence of intelligent design, why is the far more vast and complicated universe considered an exception to this rule?
Nature resembles a huge factory of enormous (actual and potential) generative power. Its working principles are astonishingly subtle and supple, yet firmly established in reassuring patterns and rhythms. From where does nature get these operating rules? Some say that nature is self-created, but how can that persuade anybody? Of course one of the operating rules is a measure of self-organizing power. But we want to know the origin of this rule.
Principles are non-essential attributes of a thing or being and, as such, are secondary and dependent on substance and essence. Attributes cannot exist before or independently of the compound or organism of which they are attributes. Thus, if a plant demonstrates a measure of self-organizing power by seeking light, moisture, and nutrients for its growth, it means that a measure of self-organizing power has been embedded in its seed. Similarly, the principle of attraction in physics operates in and through existent masses, distances, and forces. To claim that such principles are the origin or source of existent things or beings is untenable.
Just as untenable is the confidence with which such claims are asserted. To claim that this extraordinarily subtle and ordered universe is the outcome of haphazard coincidences is absurd, contradictory, and quite unscientific, for all the evidence points to the exact opposite.
As the result of long experiments and reflection, Muller declared that reason could not explain the origin of life. He established, on the behalf of science and scientists, the absurdity of "coincidence" as a possible explanation. Similarly, after a 22-year series of studies, the Soviet Institute of Chemistry, under the chairmanship of Oparin, proved that the laws of chemistry and chemical reactions shed no light on the origin of life, and that science still has no answer to this question.
When these scientists acknowledged the limitations to human inquiry, they did so on behalf of all science and scientists. Yet such work has not undone the damage done by earlier, less careful scientists, who offered only guesses as reliable scientific theory. Unfortunately, general attitudes and values continue to be shaped by such guesses and not by the realities established by better scientists.
For example, many textbooks and encyclopedias continue to present humanity's evolution from apes to human beings as fact instead of theory. In reality, a growing number of scientists, most particularly evolutionists, argue that Darwin's theory of evolution is not a truly scientific theory at all. Many critics of the highest intellectual caliber admit that we still have no idea of how this "evolution" took place. While there is a great deal of divergent opinion among the experts about probable causes and the actual process, the general public and less-informed scientists continue to believe in it.
Various research projects and published studies cast doubt on evolution and seek to give a truer picture of nature as creation and our place in it. Works like Why Do We Believe in God? help those who considered non-believers in evolution as rather odd people reconsider their opinion and reflect more wisely on the matter.
Given the fact that a sound, reliable understanding of the natural world leads to belief in a single, universal Creator, atheism has more to do with obstinacy, prejudice, and a refusal to give up illusions than with the mind's independence or freedom of thought. Young people remain vulnerable, for their understanding of their behavior's nature and consequences is incomplete, their awareness of their spiritual being and their resulting deep-seated spiritual needs is limited, and their grasp of the balance between material and non-material values that characterizes a total human existence is deficient. Thus they are easily deceived by outdated concepts presented as "scientific" truths, although scientists know (and have said) that they are no more than theories. This is why teaching and learning about the truth are more important today than other duties and obligations.
If this vital task is not taken up, we may be unable to rectify the worsening situation in the future. Some of those evil consequences are with us already. This may be the major reason for our suffering over the years. We are the unlucky generation that was deprived of good teachers—teachers who had attained inward unity and harmony of mind and heart, truly knew themselves in their deepest thoughts and feelings, desired to teach others, and were willing to suffer to promote others' happiness and welfare. We hope such noble-minded teachers will arise among us and undertake this truly humane mission to rescue people from them current moral and spiritual suffering.
If this can be done, present and future generations will acquire the necessary stability in their thinking and reasoning about life's great questions. They will be able to resist the lure of false beliefs and illusions, and thereby be saved from the anxiety of constantly doubting the nature and purpose of their lives. They will be immunized, at least partially, against atheism and its attendant self-centered and neurotic behaviors. Atheism is caused by a lack of knowledge and learning, an inability to synthesize one's inner and outer life, and is the result of an undernourished heart and soul. People cling to what they know, and resist what they do not know—or at least try to remain uninterested and unconcerned.
The mass media continually presents ideas, lifestyles, and character types that encourage self-indulgence and self-abandonment. Thus it is no surprise that many young people try to become hippies or punks or whatever the latest craze is; seek immediate gratification and pleasure; and do not bother to cultivate their minds or their tastes, but prefer triviality and banality, loudness and vulgarity.
People quickly adopt ways considered exciting and attractive. What they do not know becomes even more strange and alien, and eventually a matter of total indifference. Thus we have to find effective ways to introduce young people to the deeper ways of religious life, ways that lead away from anxiety and toward tranquillity, away from darkness and toward light.
Young people are excitable and susceptible. They crave limitless freedom and have an abundance of unsatisfied appetites and desires. Their overly generous hearts and minds cause imbalance and disharmony, which can lead them toward atheism. They prefer immediate pleasure, however slight or brief, to the misery and distress that come in the wake of indulgence. They jump at the pleasures and enjoyments that Satan displays to them, and so prepare their own calamity. They fly to the fire of atheism just as moths are drawn to light.
While ignorance and unfed hearts and souls increase, materialism and carnality gradually subvert the desire for truth and annul any nobility of purpose. This is what happened with Faust. This man, who desired extraordinary powers to do whatever he wished for a limited period, sold his soul for a very cheap price to Mephistopheles, Satan's agent. But when he received these powers, his noble aims of serving humanity left him and he wasted his years of power by pursuing trivial pleasures.
When the soul is dead, the heart dies, compassion disappears, and the mind and reason become so bewildered and confused that people become helpless victims of their own passing whims or the worst fads. Anyone who becomes obsessed with carnal passion and sensuality will suffer crises and change direction continually, applaud every new fashion in thought as if it were the truth, and swing from one ideology to another—from confusion to doubt and back again. They will find no attraction in faith, in a steady sense of duty, or in a patient, enduring heart.
Nor will they find any merit in moral education, self-discipline, contemplation, the soul's improvement, or in strengthening their morals and manners. Wholly addicted to triviality and self-indulgence, they will deny any achievement to our ancestors and remain willfully ignorant of what real culture and civilization can make possible: a balance between spirituality and sanity, between virtue and happiness.
Not everyone can be saved. Therefore, we should direct our efforts toward educating those young people in whom the worst habits have not become firmly established. They must be taught the fundamental principles of the system on which we depend and to which our existence belongs. They must be led to a systematic, straight, and honest way of thinking. Those who fail in this effort will see their community or nation continue to sink into moral and spiritual corruption until it can no longer be rescued.
An additional cause of atheism is the deliberate rejection of all constraints and prohibitions. Such undesirable and unrestrained indulgence has entered Muslim societies from western Europe via a degenerate form of existentialism (mainly French) that rejected traditional values and formal religious education in favor of absolute individual freedom. The theory was that the individual would (and could) mature and develop into a noble, moral being through personal experience.
This theory, regardless of where it has been applied, has never produced sane, caring, and compassionate human beings. Rather, it has intensified misery and selfishness by isolating individuals from their families, traditions, and even from themselves. Its adherents do not cultivate their morals or tastes, but rather live shallow, private lives and make no effort to find the truth. In short, they simply survive from moment to moment in the illusory hope that they may yet find happiness.
These few reflections do not cover the whole subject. Yet I hope that future guides, teachers, and leaders with discernment and foresight will consider them when trying to stop the spread of deviation and atheism. I have presented a brief insight into the problem, with the prayer that some people may be alerted to the truth, conquer the self, and regain the means to do what is good.
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