Last week I shared briefly the five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas to prove the existence of God. We must know that these arguments do not by themselves produce faith in God. They just show that having faith in the existence of God is reasonable. A Theist is the one who believes in the existence of God; whereas an Atheist does not believe in the existence of God. An Agnostic is one who believes that it is not possible to know God.
Faith in God is a free response of man to God, who reveals himself in so many ways. Even though God can be known with certainty from the created world by the light of human reason, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God due to the impact of senses and imagination. Man thinks that what would not be perceived with senses is false or at least doubtful (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 36 & 37). In today’s world, religious indifferentism is the main indicator of unbelief. Such persons do not seek to find meaning of life and death, moral values of one’s actions. They are out of their conscience.
Agnosticism teaches that human reason cannot conclude anything about God and his existence. Hence, an agnostic holds that any ultimate reality such as God is unknown and unknowable. Such a thought is widespread especially among the intellectuals.
An atheist may think that God takes no notice of human behavior, either to reward or to punish and so he/she does whatever pleases. Psalm 53:1-2 in the Bible reads: “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’… God looks down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any that are wise, that seek after God”.
The pew Research Center Telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019 show that 4% of American adults say that they are atheists and 5% of Americans identify themselves as agnostics.
Pope St. John Paul II in his General audience on Wednesday, April 14, 1999 has stated: “Man’s religious orientation stems from his nature as a creature, which spurs him to long for God who created him in his own image and likeness… The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God… He cannot live … unless he freely acknowledges the love (of God) and entrusts himself to his creator”.
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.