Monday, December 13, 2010

An Atheist Obsessed with God

Even though I no longer believe in God’s existence (Abrahamic God) I often find myself still thinking about things I would say to him if he ever spoke to me, showed himself to me or at least sent me a talking donkey like Balaam (Num. 22:28-30) and Shrek. And one of the funny things is the fact that if I stood before God ready to be judged I could honestly say to him that while I no longer had faith in him I was, in a way still dedicated to him and that despite my rejection of him my entire life has been devoted to him, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael and Jacob.

My whole life has revolved around God (evangelical Christian version). It began in the 5th grade when I chose to become a Christian (not that there were any other choices). Then in 8th grade was when I first read through the entire bible. In high school I spent all my time bouncing around from bible studies to prayer meetings to outreach events all in the name of God. In college I majored in Jewish history because of the biblical studies it entailed and its religious focus. Then I went to seminary to study theology and in my first year I began researching various monastic orders hoping to become a monk. My beliefs and focus changed greatly during these times but I can honestly say I’ve poured every ounce of myself into the study of God and religion beginning as a passionate believer to then becoming a doubt-filled Christian to now being a fairly content atheist. And while I am now an atheist I still spend most of my time reading, writing and thinking about God and religion. There have been times I’ve looked back on my religious life and had regrets thinking that I’ve wasted most of my life on something that’s not even ontological real (God) but most of time I’m glad of the journey I’ve taken and still enjoy pondering about spiritual things.  

And yet despite all my devotion, passion and effort to understand God and religion (mine and others), based upon orthodox Christian doctrine I would be sent to hell for no longer believing the right dogmas or being part of the Church. I’ve noticed that as an elementary school teacher I value the wrong answer of the child who thought about the problem and tried hard to understand the material over the right answer of some kid who just guessed or looked at their neighbor’s paper because they’re the ones who actually gain insight and skills in the topics being studied but sadly this God does not share my standards as he values conformity over knowledge and obedience over inquiry.

Still I remain the oddity of being an atheist obsessed with God. I will continue to ponder religious and spiritual issues and if one day I stand in front of God discovering that Christianity was true and he asks me to give an account for myself I will tell him that truly he has always had my devotion both with and without my faith but that I am extremely disappointed to discover that he is real and that Christianity was the best he could do for it will simply confirm what I feared that he is not worthy of my love, worship or even attention. 

If one reads the comments to this post one finds that another blogger and I decided to begin a discussion on the problem of evil. If one is interested in that discussion look here 


  1. Oddly I've found that more atheists talk about God than theists. I guess one might attribute this to the Nietzsche style of atheism, which rejects God but desires Him at the same time. As a theist I would suggest that this inherent desire for God is an invitation to consider Him. Just as Isaiah 1:18 suggest that we come and reason with him. By the by, I appreciate the candor of any atheist willing to admit their desire for God.

  2. Thanks for the comment. You and I must just run in different circles. I only know one person who would call themselves an atheist and actually likes to talk about religion/God with me. Besides that the only atheists I “know” who like to talk about religion are the ones writing books about it. Most of my friends are theist though none of them would even call themselves theists rather they would simply use the world Christian or Jew.

    Now this is not intended to create conflict but just for clarification I did not mean to appear to be an atheist who desires God, certainly not the one given credit for inspiring the authors of the book of Isaiah. Rather I’m an atheist who knows he might be wrong and is willing to change his mind once the evidence allows it, which at this point in history it doesn’t. And while I like to study various religions and the influence the idea of God/gods has had on history I have no desire for the God of Abraham and “pray” he isn’t real because people are just too important to waste desires on him.

    Thanks again your thoughts are always welcome

  3. You’re response was most refreshing—anyone on either side of the issue who only really wants to know the truth is refreshing. Most atheists that I know are merely atheists because they hate God, hate Christians, hate history and might I add hate themselves. I might add that most theists are merely so because it is more or less the easier position. I prefer people who can articulate their position with some kind of reason, regardless of their actual belief.

    I would agree that the God of Isaiah, or rather the Old Testament, is prima facie hard to love—indeed, to suggest that the God who ordered the deaths of thousands of women and children in the Old Testament is good is hard to contemplate. However, might I humbly suggest that the story of Isaiah, Christmas and Easter are necessarily related? I see the whole of history as more or less the attempt of a loving God to reach out to humankind who inherently hate him. Thus, His chosen people (Israel), whom He will ultimately manifest his love to the whole world through via Christ must survive so that His ultimate plan of redemption might be accomplished for all of mankind. So ultimately what seemed like hate may have actually been love.

    I do hope that I’m not just preaching here. The only reason I posted the above is that I’ve been considering the question for a future post on my blog in response to Richard Hitchens common argument against God’s morality.

  4. I think you and I would have a lot of fun hanging out.

    It’s interesting to me that when people, especially atheists, want to challenge the morality of the biblical god they tend to always focus on the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and I can’t blame them it’s easy enough to find tons of reasons to reject that god, if not his existence at least his goodness when you read it. But for me I find the god of the New Testament infinitely more evil and horrifying then the god the Old. The Hebrew god while terrible at least stopped after he had killed you but that is not enough for the god of the New Testament. Rather after you die he then tortures you forever in hell. And while I understand why people see a God of love in the Easter story since I did for most of my life but when I look at it now from the outside I just don’t know why or how I ever saw that story as proof of a loving God? Much like the existence of hell itself Easter demonstrates the New Testament god’s consent even enjoyment of needless suffering. It’s funny that you said to me that what “seemed like hate may have actually been love” because I would offer you the exact opposite thought that perhaps everything that seems like love to you (Choosing Israel, sending Christ, Easter) is actually hate (or at least an extremely limited affection), it’s just hard to see that hate when your on the inside.

    This of course could go in all sorts of fun directions and if you want I’m up for talking about anything.

    I would enjoy reading your blog on God’s morality. I do not know who Richard Hitchens is so I do not know what his arguments are but I’m always interested in reading people's thoughts on that issue. Theodicy and God’s moral failings were the main factors that lead me to reject my God, the Abrahamic God so they are things I have given a lot of thought to.

  5. I think we would indeed have a good time.

    Very fascinating opinion.

    What we could do is have a blog to blog debate, since I'm going to already post on the topic of theodicy and it a source of interest for both of us. We could then go back and forth via our own blogs. i.e. I could post my argument on my blog, you post your response and we have a couple of refutations. That way we can reach a broader audience and maybe even get some more readers. Plus we might also be able to encourage others to discuss the issue in an adult manner. I’m open to any ideas you have.

    I was meaning Christopher Hitchens, can't believe I said Richard.

  6. My blog is

  7. I think the blog debate sounds like a great idea. So maybe I can just set up the problem as I see it, basically what the problem of evil is and why I see it as making it fairly obvious that God, as typically constructed by Christianity and the other monothestic faiths, does not exist. And you can offer your responses and we can just go from there. What do you think?

    I looked at your blog, you're a very good writer and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

    I am familiar with Christopher Hitchens so all is well there.

  8. Sounds great. It would be nice to define a general thesis before we start so that we can narrow the subject down and so that we don’t waste time on rabbit trails. I would suggest that we use a thesis like: Does the problem of evil disprove the existence of a moral God? This way we won’t have to go into other arguments. If you have a better thesis or revisions I’m always open. If you’re okay with the above arrangement than you can do the first post whenever you’re ready.

  9. So the thesis sounds good to me though just to check when you say disprove a "moral" God you mean an all-good God correct? Basically I was going to deal directly with the Christian God (all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing) not worry about the more vague or philosophical models of some sort of Divine Being for which the problem of evil isn't really an issue.

  10. also is there any particular way you want to title this conversation? "The Problem of Evil: A Dialog between a Theist and an Atheist", "Is God Good? A theist and an atheist discuss the problem of evil", "Can a Good God Exist? A theist and an atheist discuss the problem of evil" or anything else. Just thought it might help people moving back and forth between our blogs if we both had the same title for this discussion.

  11. I definitely believe that God is all-good, all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing.

    This sounds the best to me, "Can a good God exist? An atheist and a Christian debate the problem of evil."

  12. Sounds good. I'll get started but just as a warning I do have a job too so I won't be able to work on this stuff everyday though I'm sure you have a life too so I'll say take all the time you need for your responses, no rush and I'll do the same.

    this should be fun.

  13. I look forward to this debate very much. Mind if I spread the word?

    The comments in the future threw me off until I realized the blog is on South Korea time. Hehe, oops...