The Failed Atheist: A spiritual Autobiography.
‘As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him…’
At 13 years and 8 months I was an atheist.
I had been an atheist for exactly 15 and half days; I was a proud, loud and determined atheists; not a current trendy and indifferent ‘new atheist’; rather an old school, raging at God, (who of course I believed wasn’t there), kind of atheist.
Which was of course my first difficulty as a self-confessed non believer in God. Namely, why rage against anything that isn’t there. Unless of course it is. And you secretly know it is.
It is an odd thing to rile against the absolute certainty of belief with the absolute certainty of unbelief. Surely uncertainty is the opposite to faith, not conviction.
This atheistic rage reached its height one afternoon whilst walking home from school with my best friend Bob. He was a Robert too. I being a Rob and he definitely a Bob. Nothing Bob about me at all, no-one ever called me Bob, but Robert was definitely a Bob. And there on the Green Hill estate in South London, in the burning heat wave of 1976, with our white shirts hanging out, our sleeves rolled up and our plastic school bags hanging over sweat patches on our backs, I continued to rage.
“Why do people believe in God, it’s a delusion, it’s a non-sense, surely we have evolved beyond all of that, surely with the suffering in the world we know He doesn’t exist, it’s absurd. We know how the universe and our planet came about, we know about weather and farming, science and stuff, we don’t need to believe in God”.
The arguments then became splattering and stalled, jerked along by the odd string of expletives which would reveal my anger and hurt.
Although I wasn’t quite sure why I was angry and hurt. I wasn’t a lapsed catholic riddled with guilt or strict brethren bored to submission. My family were not religious, my friends were not religious, my school was not religious, amazingly, I had never been in a church, (good atheist pedigree), not even studied Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism yes, and some other isms, but not Christianity. Never been spoken to by a Christian let alone hurt by one.
“Are you alright?” Bod asked.
“Yer why?” I said
“Well you seem quite intense.” He ventured
“I am. I hate God and that hypocritical church”.
We stop walking and Bob looked straight at me.
“Why, have you had to go recently?”
“Any Christian been ‘evangelising’ you recently?”
“No”, wasn’t quite sure what evangelise meant, but it was definitely a no.
“So why are you so intense about it?” Bob shouted.
“I don’t know-I just hate it”. I shouted back.
“But why?” Bob shouted even louder, waving his arms
“I don’t know” I screamed, arms waving and now pacing up and down.
Bod looked at me and nodded his head in disappointment and resignation.
“Let it go”. He said.
“I can’t!” We started walking again.
This went on for more than a week, every afternoon walking home, I would rant and Bob would listen and groan. It became apparent that after a week of this, Bob was losing the will to live.
Then on one bright Saturday morning, when all was well, the sun was shining, no school, no chores, no God and everything was great in my world, it happened.
God turned up. I’m thinking; ‘great, I can’t even be an atheist’.
To be continued…