Here, I play at theologian, in the same way I play at philosopher, scientist, mathematician, historian and economist. It is well, perhaps, to keep in mind that, unless I’m talking equipment finance (the one field where I am a recognized stone expert. Yay, me.), my opinions aren’t worth the electromagnetic medium they’re written on. That said:
On the radio, heard this memorable bit from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
The Babel fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with the nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen it to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”
“But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.”
“Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
“Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets killed on the next zebra crossing.
The assumption that God wants faith as a positive good, to be preferred for some reason to knowledge is, I think, wrong. (Shocking, I know.) Both the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve and the tradition of the Fall of Lucifer show sin in the light of certain knowledge of God’s existence: He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, and Lucifer lived in his presence, yet all three sinned in choosing their will over the will of the God that called them into being. The question of certainty in God’s existence does not seem to be relevant to the question of His free and rational creatures choosing to love Him or not.
In Lucifer’s case, as an eternal being with full knowledge of God’s existence, his choices are eternal – unlike people in the temporal world, who choose one thing today and another tomorrow, if an angel chooses, that choice is always and everywhere. We, while we live here, can both sin and repent from sin. Lucifer and the fallen angels chose once and for all.
But we too are eternal beings. Now, with the possible exception of a few great mystics, we only gets glimpses of that eternity which is our true home while we walk this earth. If we were to stand in the full light of that eternity and still chose our will over God’s, our sin would be like that of the fallen angels, a choice made in eternity.
Therefore, as a feature of our created natures and likely for our own good, the particular brand of miracle that nonbelievers think they want, a miracle of irresistible persuasive power, does not exist. We, like Zola, can always deny the miracle in front of out eyes.
But that’s not the worst of it – we, like Lucifer, can know with certainty the God of all miracles and still choose not to love him. If we were to see with clarity the workings of God around us, we’d have a foot on the threshhold of eternity, where all choices are eternal. Therefore, to have any hope in salvation, a good has been brought out of the results of the Fall: our darkened intellects and weakened wills prevent us, for the most part, from making one single act that determines our eternal state while we live on earth. Our choices are made for the most part over a lifetime, and can be revised and reversed as long as we live. Once we become truly present in eternity, our wills are fixed as the angels.
But what do I know? If you want to know the cash flow implications of a manufacturer’s blind discount on the economics of a lease, I’m your boy. Eternal truths, not so much.