A God-shaped hole resides within the human heart

  • June 26, 2013

The German philosopher Nietzsche once described Christianity as a religion of the weak. He argued that religion, especially Christianity, denied the human person free will because it removed the freedom to make choices by relying on a God who, he argued, does not exist.

For Nietzsche, religion was not only an obstacle to human progress but also dangerously misleading and deceptive. Many historians have made a link between this philosophy and the rise of totalitarian ideology which gave birth to nationalism, Nazism, fascism and racism in Hitler’s Germany. When human beings reject God and make an idol of intellect, technology or national identity, they promote values that usually conflict with the authentic freedom and true desires of the human heart.

Atheism is dangerous to the spiritual and moral health of our society. The widespread rejection of religion in modern society explains the rising unease in our times, and the collapse of the moral and spiritual fibre which should hold our societies together.

Our world has replaced God with all kinds of false idols which, unfortunately, cannot satisfy our souls. That only occurs when we believe in God, place all our trust in God and leave our affairs in God’s loving hands. Belief in a loving God takes an act of humility but it is the most rational thing we can do. When that happens we realize that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t control much that is around us.

Christianity encourages us to use our freedom to make the world, with all its ambiguities, conform to God’s plan, but a true Christian knows that divine providence is the guiding force of our lives. We are not simply tossed about by the forces of chance or fate.

If indeed, as Paschal says, there is a God-shaped hole in the human heart that only God can fill, then something is lacking in any human being and any society that denies God’s existence or relegates religion to individual choices and preferences. God is not the product of human invention. Nor is God someone who can be discovered by studying philosophers and theologians across the ages. God must be encountered as a person, embraced as a living reality and experienced as the highest fulfilment of human desire. God is the ultimate destination of longing for meaning, love and hope.

God is to be loved and worshipped as the beginning and the end. The existence of God is much more than something to be debated or proven. At the same time, rational proof of God’s existence is necessary for satisfying an intellectual and moral desire to have a firm foundation for our beliefs and hopes. I believe that finding God is a life-long quest. It is a never-ending movement of the heart towards the ultimate fulfilment God has placed in all those God created. In the Year of Faith, finding God demands that we pray in the silence of our hearts: God reveal yourself to me.

I do not have answers to all the questions life poses. But I do not have the answer to the brokenness and betrayal which I see in life. I do not have answers to why people suffer and why life seems so unfair to many good people. But for sure, God knows the answers to the most complex questions in our hearts.

We do not know what the future holds, but we know that God holds our future. In God’s own way and in God’s own time, God will provide answers to our most troubling questions.

Letting God take control, therefore, becomes an act of humility and trust. It is anything but a show of weakness, as Nietzsche so wrongly argued.

(Fr. Stan Chu Ilo’s latest book, Discover Your Divine Investment, is published by Catholic Register Books and is available by calling 416-934-3410.)