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I believe - I do not believe. Dialogue between an atheist and a Christian

By the centennial of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.

19 June, the new style marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. The editorial staff of the magazine "Foma" publishes a dialogue between Vladyka and Margarita Laski on the problem of finding faith in the modern world. Vladyka Anthony led a radio interview on the Air Force in the 70-ies of the last century, one of which we offer readers.

1970-e years. England. At the radio microphone two people met. The writer-atheist Marganita Laski and Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (Bloom). Two people talk about what determines their life, and they try to understand why they look at the world in different ways.

This conversation was included in the book "God: yes or no? Conversations of the believer with the unbeliever "*, published recently by the publishing house" Nikea "in conjunction with the foundation" Spiritual heritage of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh ". We give here a fragment of it.

Do Christians believe in what they do not know?

M. Lasky:You believe in God and think that this is good and right. I do not believe in God and I think that this is good and right. Both you and I are not frivolous, serious people, we came to our conclusion as thoughtfully as we could. There are many people like me, there are many - probably much more - like you. How can you explain this basic difference?

Met. Anthony:In truth, I have no explanation, but it seems to me that the word "faith" creates a false representation of something arbitrary that we are free to choose or not. I have a very strong feeling that I believe, because I know that God exists, and for me it's a mystery how you manage to not know this.

M. Lasky:This brings me to the next question I wanted to ask you - the question of faith. I know that faith is one of the basic Christian virtues, but to me it seems more like a vice, and I can not understand why it is for you. You say, "I know that God exists," and on this or that basis so many people say: is it because they have experienced knowledge of God, or because they see the presence of God in the universe. But if you know, you do not need faith. And if you do not know, to me, as an unbeliever, the substitution of ignorance by faith is a rejection of the most basic property of man. For me, when you do not know, you should strive for further knowledge or say "I do not know." If you know that there is a God, why should faith be considered a virtue?

Met. Anthony:Here, I think, the question is how we define faith. I remember the definition of faith, which I read in a rather witty theological book: faith is the ability of adults to assert the truth of something they know for sure that it is not true.

M. Lasky:Very cute…

Met. Anthony: If faith is, I'm afraid, I have no such faith. I think faith is better defined by the words of the Epistle to Hebrews, where the author writes that faith is confidence in the unseen (Heb. 11: 1). The stress on the word is confidence, the invisible is not just imaginary. If we talk about me and about some other people, we, of course, started with absolutely convincing experience, experience. At some point, this experience has departed, as happens with any experience of love, joy, grief. There comes a time when there is no experience, but there is complete confidence in it. This is where faith begins. But faith does not mean trustfulness, it means that there is confidence in something that is not our present experience and experience.

How to prove the existence of God?

M. Lasky:If you use the word "faith", it implies that you keep faith in the face of a possible doubt. But if you have confidence, there is no doubt about the place, so I'm sorry, but I do not see why faith is needed, is not it enough confidence?

Met. Anthony:In some ways we are in the same position. You have confidence in the non-existence of God, which in a sense is an act of faith, because you can bring as little external evidence as I do.

M. Lasky:Is it not possible to say that there is a fundamental difference in thinking or in approaching the problems of the unseen? Does it not depend on the temperament of a person that he prefers confidence in the unseen or refrains from judging the unseen?

Met. Anthony:I'm not so sure. I think that my attitude towards things is largely determined by the upbringing that I received. I received a scientific education and, rightly or wrongly, I treat everything scientifically. But in regard to faith, for example, I started with something that seemed to be a convincing, experienced experience of the fact that God exists. Doubt does not mean that this fundamental experience is called into question, my mental conclusions from it turn out to be in question. In this respect, the doubt of the believer should be just as creative, equally joyful, almost as systematic as the doubt of the scientist, who, having discovered facts that to some extent convinced him of something, begins to look for a flaw in his constructions , to look for in what its system is wrong, or to search for new facts that will disprove its model of the universe.

M. Lasky:But the moment when, as it seems to him, he discovers a new picture of the universe, is equally convincing regardless of whether this picture turns out to be true or false. The scientist, undoubtedly, appreciates the feeling that embraces him with a new revelation, but does not consider this feeling, as you say, a confirmation of his rightness, he will check further and further. But having experienced the feeling that God exists, would you consider this an expert proof that God exists?

Met. Anthony: This is not just a matter of feelings. I do not believe that it is possible to adhere to an unreasonable or completely absurd feeling contrary to all evidence. But I would say, for example, if for a moment we are transferred from faith in God to other areas, even to music, so: from the scientist's point of view, the music can be decomposed into straight lines, translated into mathematical formulas. But the result does not allow to judge whether this music is beautiful or it is just a fuss. Only when you listen to it, you can say that it's music, not just noise.


M. Lasky:The experience with which we have come across is whether it is excellent from ourselves. Is it a spontaneous feeling or produced by another, originating from the outside? Is this the main difference between us?

Met. Anthony:Yes. The believer will say: "I objectively know that God exists; It means that my knowledge is acquired, not fictitious. " But does the same not apply to irrational experience in ordinary life? Experience, like love, a sense of beauty in art, in music?

Is it possible to be good without God?

M. Lasky:I'm ready to assume that the sense of beauty is irrational, inexplicable only for the time being. I often recall how two hundred years ago the philosopher Hume said that we know that bread is useful to us, but we will never know why; Now we know this. And I think that in the future - maybe not far off - we will know what exactly is acting on us, what we call beauty.

Met. Anthony:It may very well be, but why not assume that in the same way we come to a different conclusion that by studying, say, an encephalogram, we will be able to find that at some point our experience has penetrated, something that does not belong to our physical being . Logically, this assumption is just as certain as the first.
M. Lasky:That's something I really would like to know! And of course, if everything happened in your way, then there would be nothing left but to become a believer. However, I strongly suspect that what will happen in my opinion ... But suppose that I (like this can happen to any unbeliever) suddenly experience an experience of this kind that you describe as the certainty that there is God. And it will happen outside of any religious context. Say, I, like Ignatius Loyola, at that moment I sit on the river bank. I was raised in Judaism, I live in England, which, as they say, is a country of one hundred religions under one sauce, what can be the conclusion? I understand that it is wiser to join a religion for fear of falling into the presumptuous madness of a person who believes that he has a direct connection with God, but how this experience of God can lead me to believe that I met a Christian, or a Jewish, or a Muslim God? What does He want me to accept Methodism, Orthodoxy or Anglicanism? After such experience and words: "Yes, now I'm sure that God exists!" - can make a person take the next step?

Met. Anthony: Then there will be gradual steps. If you had an experienced experience of God - and I am sure that you can feel God outside of any prior religious context or upbringing - then you will probably find that if God is, it is of immediate importance to your relationship in general to all people.

M. Lasky:Explain, please, I would like to understand this.

Met. Anthony:Willingly. The experience of my childhood said that life is cruel, rude, heartless, that man to man is a wolf and the cause of suffering, that only very few, the closest to you, keep together and do not pose a danger to you. As a teenager, I knew that all people around are a threat. To survive, it is necessary to fight, to win, to emerge victorious, it is necessary to give change with all its might.

M. Lasky:Was your situation really like that?

Met. Anthony:This was my experience at school, in the slums and in the early years after the revolution (not in Russia, abroad). When I discovered God - and I found Him through the Gospel - the first thing that struck me was that for this God all are significant, He does not divide people, He is not a God of good against the evil, not a God of believers against unbelievers, not God alone against others. Each person exists for Him as a person, full of content and value. And since I discovered such a God, my attitude to everyone around me was to be the same. I was amazed to find that this discovery completely upset me, the fact that I discovered God So and that His attitude towards everyone is like that. I looked around myself and did not see any more hateful, disgusting creatures, but people who are in relationship with Him and with whom I can enter into a new relationship, if I believe in them just as God believes in them.

M. Lasky:But the facts show that unbelievers, without resorting to God, can have respectful, merciful love for every creature. I'm not a very good socialist, but I think that real socialists are experiencing this feeling. To feel the worth of every person, there is no need for God.

Met. Anthony:No, I did not mean it was necessary. I would say: to be in the measure of a person so as not to drop as low as I was, it is not necessary to know what God is. I would add that God does not need us to know that He is: He is already. For me the problem of God is as follows. I do not need Him to have a worldview. I do not need God to fill the gaps in my worldview. I found that He is, and there's nothing I can do about it, much like when I discovered scientific facts. For me He is a fact, and therefore He has meaning, He plays a role, just like when you discover the existence of some person: life changes in comparison with the previous moment.

Why did not the Church change the world?

M. Lasky:Can I ask you to clarify something. I will now make a controversial statement, but it seems to me to be weighty. Over the past five hundred years, since science has freed itself from the bondage of the Church, it has dramatically escalated, so now it is now commonplace to affirm that our technical, scientific knowledge has outstripped our moral development. On the other hand, the Church had two thousand years to develop our morality, if this is one of the functions of the Church. But you said that you can come to this awareness of a real person - how can I express myself in a Christian way? - to a respectful recognition of the existence of every person. It entails, I think, a certain attitude towards a person who is the link between faith in God and morality. Is there a link between faith in God and morality? What is it? And since the Church for two thousand years seemed not to make us better - I would rather say that secular thought has contributed more to our cultivation over the past two thousand years - is it possible to say that the Church fulfilled its mission? In other words, how much morality derives from faith in God? Why did the Church not succeed, not make us moralists?

Met. Anthony:I am absolutely sure that the belief in God must be followed by morality, because if we believe that the world is built around some number of great principles, this should reflect on our behavior.

M. Lasky:What are these great principles?

Met. Anthony: Love, let's say ... Love, justice.

M. Lasky:Because when you are meeting with God, do you experience love? Because God is a Being full of love and justice? What is the place of these virtues in meeting with God?

Met. Anthony:Let me confine myself to the gospel, it will be easier than trying to cover a wider area. The whole Gospel teaches only love. The fact that we do not live in its level condemns us, but does not deprive the Gospel of truth. I am ready to admit that both personally and collectively we are very far from this ideal. What I am not so convinced about is what you said about secular thought, because it seems to me that at least a Western European secular thought or secular thought, developed on the basis of Western European culture, is deeply imbued with the Gospel. For example, the notion of the value of the human person was introduced into the ancient society by the Gospel, before such a concept simply did not exist. And very much that has now become a recognized common place, was new in its time, and now it acts in society, like yeast in the test.

M. Lasky:In this I completely agree with you. I just want to say that over the past two hundred years, at least since the middle of the eighteenth century, these principles, which seem to me to be the crown of Western civilization, have actually passed from the hands of religion to secular hands; And since there has occurred (as it seems to me) a big moral leap forward, thanking the church and synagogues for this.

Met. Anthony:I am amazed that the believers have been and still have an ill-fated tendency to move away from the difficulties and problems of life in "piety" - in quotes ...

M. Lasky:Yes. And I'm glad that you mentioned it.

Met. Anthony:It is obvious! It is much easier to retire to your room and say: "O Lord, send the bread to the hungry!" Than do something about it. I've just been to America and listened to someone else's argument that he is ready to give life to the hungry and needy; I just asked him why he, the inveterate smoker, would not sacrifice the cost of a pack of cigarettes in their favor.

M. Lasky:And I will offer you another example. Those of us who have children, who communicate with young people, meet people who crave for more love in the world, but are unable to give love to older people.

Met. Anthony: Yes, this is also true. Quite definitely we go into the world of irresponsible prayer, instead of realizing that if I said to God, "Here's a need - help!", I should not wait for revelation, but should be ready to hear the answer of God inside me: "You noticed this need - so go, take care of it. " So in this respect we were not up to par, and this is one of the reasons why we did not fulfill our calling.

Does religion deprive people of joy?

M. Lasky:Another reason, it seems to me, is why both you and secular philanthropists have not succeeded, in that the world is rejected by you, not only in the sense that you said that a person closes in himself and does not do what is feasible, but in the same way that he perceives the world, especially the urban world today, as if it were a hell, a ferris wheel, it should be avoided. In religion, there is no joy, it left a positive satisfaction with life. The usual, generally accepted joys of life, even, say, the pleasure of possessing something, sitting in my small fortress surrounded by modern comfort and playing children, seems to me a healthy pleasure. But it seems to me that serious people, religious and irreligious, such things, which we, terrestrial beings, enjoy from the heart, always seemed to be obstacles to the path of virtuous life.

Met. Anthony:I think they are right to some extent. You need to fully control yourself, so as not to forget your very depths for the sake of being more superficial in yourself. It's easier to be superficial than deep, it's easier to be at this level than to face the things that can be tragic. But, you see, the trouble is that we turned this attitude into a false moral position, as if, if you are a Christian, you must be harsh, almost gloomy, you should not laugh ...

M. Lasky:Or should be very, very simple, so simple and innocent that the realities of life seem to you irrelevant.

Met. Anthony:Yes. But if you have a true vision of things, if you are aware of the tragedy of life, you can not enjoy life unrestrainedly. Joy - it's different. You can have a deep sense of inner joy and spiritual recovery, but it seems to me difficult to enjoy the external manifestations of life, not losing sight of the fact that so many, so many people suffer. When I made a living by practicing medicine, my mother and I decided to never spend more on ourselves than we needed for shelter and food, because we thought (I still think so) that all the money spent on this was stolen from someone else, something whose need is greater than ours. It does not overshadow existence, it brings joy to share, give and receive. But I have a feeling that while there is at least one starving, a surplus of joy, a surplus of convenience is stealing.

M. Lasky:And yet, every person is so vulnerable, tragedy is so close, the danger is so probable that when I see people, say, on the beach, in a state of excessive happiness, I think: here is joy, here is a small supply of happiness, a joyful moment that is not Can be dumb.

Met. Anthony:I would not say that he is a fool. It seems to me that this moment could be more profound and permanent. One of the problems of modern man in this: we have so much that we do not know how to rejoice in the small. For example, in those years when my life was very difficult, the slightest joy seemed miraculous. Now my level of miracle has risen, I need much more to make it seem miraculous.

M. Lasky:Yes. But sometimes people again come to simplicity through redundancy. From the point of view of morality, I do not disagree with what you say, but the question is: if you bring the requirements to this level, then does not it condemn us - all those who are not so ascetic? (This is a question not only for you.)

Met. Anthony:Feelings of guilt are always bad, and guilt is an unhealthy attitude to life. It is useless. It is destructive and kills the very consciousness that everything is possible, that everything can be straightened out. No, I consider the feeling of guilt to be bad, but it can become a challenge and lead to greater joy. For example, if I say: I will not do this, because I can have the joy to share with someone, instead of, like a parasite, predatory, use it myself - I do not reduce my joy and I do not have a sense of guilt.

M. Lasky:I will only say one thing: if you are wrong, guilty, not right, it's better to carry it yourself than shift it to others. Maybe you need to bear your own guilt and deal with it.

Met. Anthony:I think it's better to leave the word "wine" alone and do something ...

M. Lasky:Of course, something to do, but do not throw it on someone else.

Met. Anthony:I do not see the point of putting this on someone else, except that this person is ready - by kindness to you, by friendship, by love - what do you want, with some kind of connection with you, to share with you your problem, your difficulty, To share is not your sense of guilt, not your distress, but the way you get out of it.

M. Lasky: I put your questions to you, and you were very generous, but I'm sure that I did not touch on any important areas that you would like to mention. I probably did not give you enough opportunity to express what really matters to you ...

Met. Anthony:No, I think that the conversation was very interesting. In any case, it is impossible to cover everything. If to speak about God and about religion very briefly, in two sentences, then that's what my feelings are. God is not Someone in whom I need to fill the void. I had to accept Him, because my experience of life indicates that He is, I can not get away from this fact. And the second: the moral norms that follow from this are not duties towards God or people - I do not like the word "duty" - but they constitute creative joy about God and gratitude to Him and to people, and this generates reverence: reverent worship of God, reverential attitude towards people, reverence for life. I think in practice, in life, this sense of reverence, and joy, and a challenge that will allow me to grow to the full extent.

It is printed with abbreviations. The names of the chapters are given by the editors. We are grateful to the Nikea Publishers for their help in preparing the publication.

* Trans. With the English. E. Maydanovich on the ed.: "God and man". London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1971.
A television interview, aired on 5 and 12 in July 1970. The first publication: "Alpha and Omega." 2000, # 1 (23). - Ed.

A source: Foma.Ru

Tags: Religion, Christianity