I Am Not Him, Therefore God Is
If one is a true and consistent existentialist/materialist/atheist, then neither hope nor presumption should ever enter the picture. Presumptuousness, yes, in that that adjective obviously applies to anyone who imagines himself to have understood the vast realm of spirit sufficiently to categorically reject it.
In ether worlds, it's more than a little presumptuous for a horizontal man to reject the vertical on the basis of the fact that this is what horizontal men do. It's analogous to rejecting things that children cannot understand, or a cat insisting that lettuce has no nutritional value.
The materialist is committed to the belief that the horizontal world is sufficient to account for man's origin, destiny, purpose, and cognitive abilities, which correspond to chance, nowhere, nothing, and accident, respectively. The only thing the troll can know with certainty is that he knows nothing, which is one of our rare points of agreement.
To say that man is "ordered to God" is one of those things that is fraught with potential misunderstandings, which is again why I prefer to use the empty symbols, or pneumaticons, in this case, O and (¶).
On the surface, it can sound tautological to say that if God didn't exist, we couldn't conceive of him. But it means much more than that, for what it is really saying is that the astonishing fact of the human subject, with all of its marvelous abilities, must have a sufficient reason, a cause proportionate to it.
As I mentioned in the wooly Coonifesto and would still weave today, man is by an order of magnitude the most astonishing fact of the cosmos. Not only is this something we should all be able to agree upon, but I believe it should be the starting point of any coherent philosophy, not just a bizarre and unexpected afterthought that defies explanation and is therefore explained away. You could even say that "Man is, therefore I AM," but that would be getting ahead of ourselves.
To say that man is the "image and likeness" of O is simply to affirm that he is in some sense proportionate to the ultimate Principle of the cosmos. Interestingly, this is something that the materialist/atheist/Darwinist not only believes, but insists, i.e., that man is capable of pronouncing on his own ultimate meaning(lessness). For to say, for example, that man is a result of random genetic mutations is still to affirm that the mind of man is proportioned to reality.
The problem is, Darwinism obviously cannot explain its own intrinsic exceptions, the biggest one being man's adequation to truth. No mere animal has anything approximating this, which is why the gulf between animal and man is infinite if considered from the bottom up -- for the same reason that the gap between Ø and O is infinite from the perspective of Ø.
However, if looked at from the top down, it is both understandable and even somewhat expected -- again, for the same reason that, viewed from the top down, Ø is simply the "further reaches," so to speak, of O, like rays from the sun.
This is by no means to suggest that man was "inevitable," which would be another form of presumption, plus it would deny the creative freedom of O. It simply means that since it is in the nature of the sovereign good to create, we shouldn't be all that surprised that he should create something as magnificent as man. Astonished, yes, but not surprised.
And this would also account for our disappointment in that habitual underachiever, Homo sapiens. In contrast, the Darwinian or secular humanist has no grounds whatsoever for being disappointed in man. For him, the mystery is why man should be anything other than a mindless animal seeking food, sex, and tenure.
Anyway, back to Pieper. He points out that the problem with presumption is that it engenders a "perverted attitude toward the fact that eternal life is the meaning and goal" of our terrestrial adventure. Again, man is only proportioned to O. He is not O.
But presumption fails to honor this distinction, and therefore "fails to accept the reality of the futurity and 'arduousness' that characterize" our journey in and toward O. It manifests in the attitude, for example, of those arrogant bumper snickers that say CHRISTIANS AREN'T PERFECT, JUST FORGIVEN, or something like that. I wouldn't be so sure about that, pilgrim. You are of course permitted to hope for salvation, but to simply assume it is the height of presumption. It is also to appoint oneself judge and jury over one's own case. It is a recipe for mischief, since you can essentially do whatever you want in this life, knowing that in the end you've got a get-out-of-hell-free card.
Presumption really detaches itself from O and thereby "destroys supernatural hope" by not acknowledging the transitional nature of life in the herebelow. Therefore, it regards "eternal life as something that is 'basically' already achieved, as something that is 'in principle' already given.'" No wonder such people are so boring.
Pieper adds that it is also a type of heresy, but I would expand upon this to say that it is one of those intellectual heresies that isn't only specific to Christianity, but to thought as such, for it ultimately means that in one way or another, one is collapsing that generative and transitional space between man and O, which is man's true habitat. This is why both the concrete atheist and the presumptuous theist are so tedious, for they are just mirrors of one another.
Interestingly, Pieper also touches on how liberal theology transfers the gap between man and O through activism, as if by stealing enough of one man's property and giving it to another, they can create the kingdom of heaven on earth, the old hate-and-switch "immamentization of the eschaton" routine, as Voegelin put it.
The cosmic truth of the matter -- or so we have heard from the wise -- is that neither grace nor aspiration, ↓ and ↑, are sufficient, only ↓↑. And I wish I could depict those arrows in a kind of open, upward spiral, because that would be more accurate. More like the image at the right, whereby the field created by the arrows is a kind of hologram. (And note how the point at the top is none other than ʘ.)
You could even create a pithy bumper sticker to reflect this truth, say, BELIEVERS AREN'T PERFECT, THAT'S HOW WE KNOW THERE'S A GOD, or I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING, THATS HOW I KNOW TRUTH EXISTS.