A dialectic of faith

The most essential difference between a Christian and a freethinker lies not in the knowing or not knowing of the scriptures, nor in the having or not having a belief in a god or an afterlife; the most essential difference is in that the Christian recognizes and acknowledges the frightening incomprehensibility of the universe while the freethinker, though he may have a sense of it, does not acknowledge it.

The freethinker is practical. He founds his actions and decisions on pure rationale, he does not leave matters to chance; for to him, no transcendent entity has hold over the future. In times of uncertainty, he may hope for the better but he does not implore any god or deity. In times of sadness, he may feel indignant at the sheer unfairness of fate, but he does not question it for he is convinced that there exists nothing beyond what he sees that would to listen to his cries and pleas. In times of aimlessness, he does not question the world but tries to find an answer from within his being.

So it is that the freethinker seeks nothing from beyond reality; all that can be granted has been granted by earthly circumstance and a practical mind. And if for them there exists nothing beyond, then surely, there can be no meaning beyond that of procuring the conditions of life and finding in those conditions pleasure and fulfillment. For them, life is to be simply lived and not prolixly and tirelessly questioned. For them, life is not that brief crack of light between two eternities of harrowing darkness, but rather an isolated bracket of time. For them, the incomprehensible is not frightening because they do not ponder the incomprehensible. The absurd climate that arises from a divorce between man’s desire for understanding and the world’s apparent incomprehensibility is simply not felt by the freethinker. He lives in his hut, and is intentionally, blissfully unaware of the outside.

The Christian, on the other hand, acknowledges the incomprehensibility of the world. He knows that all efforts made to understand it will end only in disheartening futility, and hence concedes to it. But how then is he to survive in this harsh climate? Ignorance is the strength of the freethinker but for the Christian, it is willful self-deception; it is an illusion to hide the hideousness of the incomprehensible, an excuse made for the sake of peace.

It is here that faith enters and saves the Christian from plummeting into an endless despair. God is the Christian’s acknowledgement that there are in fact things beyond his control and understanding. The Christian surrenders all his humanly inadequacies to this mighty being and in that alone finds the most blissful comfort. All that incomprehensibility then assumes a character, and though this character is not entirely definable just as is God, it is nonetheless a character recognized by him. It is a character of benevolence and it is one he trusts. The absurd climate is henceforth calmed and the Christian finds harmony in the world.