How I became an atheist - for a season






My reasons are not really intellectual reasonings but ‘things that happened’, despite the many discussions with university students and lecturers. This post is a bit longer than usual and will perhaps appeal to a different group of readers.



Recently a friend asked me why I’d become an atheist earlier in life.

Using a lot of material from my earlier blog, Jeanette’s Journallings (jeanettegt.blogspot.com   MY JOURNEY INTO – AND OUT OF – ATHEISM) , I’ll answer in brief. 

Someone else asked
why I had moved on from atheism. (“Why did you do it?” a friend asked in wide-eyed horror, on discovering I was a Christian.)

So I’ll tell you the brief outline over a short series of blog posts. 



My sister and I (two teeth missing) at the beach





During my childhood years, I had no doubt at all. God was there. We were not Christians except on a social level, but I said my prayers obediently every night – ‘now I lay me …’. 
God shone through the sunlit flowering peach tree, He sang through the birds. Once He intervened in a nightmare, sending an angel to rescue me just as I faced terrifying death. The angel told me, ‘Don’t worry, little girl. This is only a dream’.


So there was no doubt at all. God was not a conscious part of our daily lives but He was real.





Why did I leave that certainty and become an atheist?




Imagine the scene:


 (based on the post from Jeanette’s Journallings):




It is Term 1, third year of my university Arts Degree. A sweltering day in late February. I am about to embark on a year’s lectures in Philosophy of Religion.






Me - uni days (but not summer, by the looks of it)



Trying to ignore my nervy stomach, I enter a small room in the philosophy building and look around curiously. A group of ordinary people like me, including a few nuns and priests, sit in a circle. I sit on the spare chair, a hard wooden upright chair.

A man sits on the desk, his arms crossed. My tutor, I assume.

The man – my tutor – defines the next two years of my life with his opening words:

“If you believe in God, you’re wrong and you’ll fail.”

I am stunned silent. I need to pass all my units this year, as I failed one last year. (I hadn't known beforehand it was mainly maths!)  So I’m carrying an extra unit in third year.

Butterfly wings beat against the walls of my stomach. 
I wonder if the terrible truth shows on my face like a sudden outbreak of measles.

I believe in God!

A battle of wills ensues for months. The tutor makes me present a paper to the group, explaining why I believe in God. (At this stage I am not a Christian.) I can’t explain WHY I believe. But I know without a doubt He is real.

The tutor laughs at my arguments. ‘Oh come on! Can you see him? Can you touch him?’ His voice is mocking. I blush.

We continue to battle for six months.

He wins.

Correction: he wins that round.

After six months of very logical battling, I am an atheist.  Not just a nominal one in order to pass my exams but I genuinely believe. I am thoroughly converted/brain-washed to atheism.

I am not one to do anything by halves. For eighteen months I believe religion is a crutch. I am arrogant and an intellectual snob.  I enjoy a peculiar sense of freedom. After all, I can do whatever I want now.


Can’t I?


Despite my various hedonistic and creative pursuits, I become increasingly hollow inside. Emptiness gnaws at me. I’m lonely despite the boyfriends, the parties, the friends.
Inexplicably, my glamorous world begins to crumble. Things go wrong. And I feel SO empty.

In desperation, I begin to search for the meaning of life.

And God begins to whisper again.

He whispers as I stand, black-clad, in the wings of the Ensemble Theatre while the actors sing about coming to a garden and talking to Jesus.

He whispers as I fall into an abyss of terror on an LSD trip. Am I dying and disappearing into frightening darkness? God, if you exist, please forgive me for not believing in you, my heart screams.

I forget about God and continue searching. Churches hold no appeal. I am part of a colourful arty crowd. Christians seem boring.

I return to Brisbane and go to my favourite place to think it all through. 

Little by little I am approaching a time when God will not only whisper again - He will shout!

































Comments

  1. I loved this testimony and how God works differently for everyone.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Christine! Yes, He sure did work differently on me.

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  2. Thanks for sharing, Jeanette. Interesting to think of the reasons for not believing as well as the ones for believing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenny. Yes - I find it interesting that philosophy lecturers and pupils felt the need to talk all night at parties too (which they did) about why God did not exist. Why pick on Someone who doesn't exist?!

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