Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 10 Nov 2019

     

Why do Atheists Deny God's Existence?

This question is part of a mahā satsaṅga or a great spiritual discussion between Swami and several devotees who had come from various places, seeking the clarification of their doubts.

Experience Of God’s Administration

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! The atheist is also a citizen of his country. He, like any other citizen, wants the government of his country to run a good and just administration. But governments run by human beings are prone to error, injustice and partiality. Even the courts of law have human judges, who are not omniscient. In a court of law, we find a statue of the deity of justice with a black blindfold covering her eyes. It means that the judge passes the judgment based on hearing the testimony of the witnesses and not based on actually witnessing or seeing the incident. The judge has not seen the actual incident and has to rely only on the evidence and testimonies provided. As a result, advocates can sometimes win the case using intelligent arguments, in which they wrongly interpret the constitution and the law, in favour of their clients. Such advocates take up the case of any client, who is ready to pay them high fees, without bothering at all whether or not the case supports truth and justice. There are even cases of judges who have been sent to prison for their partial or corrupt behaviour. Under these circumstances, there is every chance of criminals managing to escape the punishment from such courts run by humans. But, ultimately, sinners can never escape the punishment of their sin. When courts fail to punish sinners, God severely punishes them, outside the court, in their lives. This punishment of sinners by God is even recognized by the public. Along with the sinner, God also punishes the advocate who helped the sinner escape. Even the judge is punished by God, if the judge has deliberately given the wrong judgement.

Observing these inevitable punishments of wrongdoers, one can easily infer the existence of the omniscient and omnipotent God. Being omniscient, He knows the truth without the help of any witnesses or advocates. He punishes all sinners in their lifetimes, using His omnipotence. It is the experience of people over generations that sinners who manage to escape from the law receive divine punishment. Owing to their long experience, people have developed a firm belief in the existence of God and His perfect administration. They know that He is constantly witnessing everything in this world. The concepts of God’s existence and His perfect administration are thus, based on the authority of perception. Atheists believe in the authority of perception. So, I do not see why they should deny the existence of God. The divine kingdom of God mentioned by Jesus is not somewhere else. It is right here, in this world itself; pervading each inch.

The Atheist’s Intention

What is the actual intention of the atheist? Does he want to prove the absence of God, who is the perfect Administrator of the world, so that he can commit sins without any fear? Denying the very existence of God is indeed an extreme step. Can he not see the existence of the unimaginable God inferred from unimaginable events called miracles? These miracles are performed by devotees and Human Incarnations of God and they are actually perceived by us. Why then, does the atheist so vehemently object to the existence of God? This vehemence in his objection is nothing but his vehemence in wanting to commit sins without any fear of punishment! Just because owls cannot see during the day, they meet together and pass a resolution that the sun does not exist at all! Does it mean that it is the truth?

It is true that you cannot see the unimaginable God directly. But you cannot see even a worldly quality like the sweetness of sugar. You can only see the sugar possessing the sweetness. Similarly, you can see a Divine Person, possessing unimaginable nature. Divine Person means the Human Incarnation of God. He exhibits unimaginable nature by His performance of miracles, which are unimaginable events. The unimaginable God, who is the source of the unimaginable miracle, can of course, not be seen. But the existence of the unimaginable nature, which is not different from God, is quite clear. Unfortunately, atheists dismiss even genuine miracles as magic tricks because, if they accept God’s existence, they cannot commit sins freely. They only fear the punishment of their crimes from the courts of law. But they also know that they can escape from the law using clever advocates, influence and corruption. As long as the concept of God remains, they cannot be free of fear since they know that none of the above means can help them escape punishment in the court of God. Hence, atheists oppose the very idea of the existence of God.

The atheist says that one can follow ethics, without the concept of God. My dear atheist! You are a person with a strong will and can follow ethics even without the concept of God. But what about the majority, which does not have such a strong will? If you are actually following ethics, no harm will come to you and so, you need not worry about whether God actually exists or not. However, your vehemence in opposing the very concept of God makes Me feel that you are a hypocrite. You are merely claiming that you can follow ethics even without the concept of God. You want to pose as a perfect gentleman before the public, while doing sins in secret. You think that if you behave sinfully in secret, the public will not file a case against you in the court and that you will succeed in escaping the punishment for your sins. By pretending to be a gentleman in public, you feel that they will not believe that you are a sinner. But as long as the concept of God exists, you cannot freely mislead the public and continue to commit sins in secret. Your opposition of God’s existence makes it obvious that you are such a hypocrite. If you had been a genuinely ethical atheist, you would never have bothered about God and His administration.

Atheists claim that devotees are exploiting the name of God and committing sins. For any good system, exploiters of the system also certainly exist. But you cannot abolish the examination system just because some students cheat in the exams. You take all the necessary measures to prevent the exploitation and abuse of the system. The atheist is appreciated if he proves that a certain devotee has exploited the system and makes sure that the sinful devotee is punished by the law. Nobody objects to this. But you cannot use that as an excuse to abolish the very concept of God and His perfect administration. The concept is true, whether you believe in it or not. You are using the false pretext of the abuse of the concept to eliminate the concept altogether. Perhaps, you are doing it so that you can commit sins in secret, without any fear.

Justice is Mandatory; Devotion is Optional

God remains in close contact with the world so as to maintain good administration in it. The knowledge of His just and infallible (flawless) administration, leads to the fear of the punishment of sins among humans. It prevents them from committing sins in secret or trying to escape from the law after doing sins, using influence and money. God created this world and earth in it and He wants perfect peace on this earth. If you have established a factory, would your main aim not be to ensure that it ran peacefully? Would you not set up an efficient administration to maintain peace in it? Similarly, the sole aim of God is to establish peace on earth through a just administration (Dharma saṃsthāpanārthāya...—Gita). To establish peace and justice, it is necessary to first establish His existence, which He does by descending on Earth frequently in the form of Human Incarnations. The main purpose of His incarnating on Earth is thus, the establishment of justice and peace (pravṛtti). He does not come here to promote His own name and gain fame. He does not come for the purpose of hearing His own praise from devotees (nivṛtti)! Nivṛtti is the path of devotion and service to God personally. It was invented by the believers of God, who turned into devotees. God is not at all fond of nivṛtti and in fact, He opposes it by making devotees face several acid tests. All that God wants is pravṛtti, which is maintaining justice by ensuring that humans avoid sin in the world for fear of God. He does not want nivṛtti at all! He only expects belief in God and not devotion to God. Belief in God, for the sake of maintaining pravṛtti, is mandatory. Devotion to God, for the sake of nivṛtti, is optional.

Nivṛtti is the result of the devotee’s fascination for God. But God does not deliberately induce devotees to develop such fascination for Him. Of course, people are greatly attracted to nivṛtti and want to become devotees because the fruit of nivṛtti is far better than that of pravṛtti. In pravṛtti, maintaining justice is entirely your responsibility and you have to be careful at all times in avoiding unethical behaviour. You are like a baby-monkey, which is responsible for holding on tightly to the mother’s stomach at all times (Markaṭa kiśora nyāya). In nivṛtti, God takes your full responsibility and care like the mother-cat holding her kitten in her mouth (Mārjāla kiśora nyāya). Hence, the fruit of nivṛtti is the highest, even though God does not prefer it. In pravṛtti, your relation with God is the employee-employer relationship, in which you have to strictly follow the rules and you get protection from Him, in return. In nivṛtti, your bond with God is a personal relationship, in which your love for Him, which has reached its climax, forces Him to take total responsibility of you.

If some devotee commits a sin, you should not blame God. You should not blame the university and its examination system just because someone, somewhere, cheated in the exam.

Dharma samsthaapanaarthaaya pravrutti pravritti nivrutti nivritti Markatakishora Nyaaya Maarjaalakishora Nyaaya Dattaswami