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I’m an atheist. So why can’t I shake God?


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im-an-atheist-so-why-cant-i-shake-godWashington Post:

Elizabeth King

February 4 2016


I spoke in tongues when I was a kid. I went to church twice a week with my mom, stepdad and my five siblings. I prayed before every meal, every night before bed and various times throughout the day. I believed in the Bible and I feared hell. Until my mid-teens, I was a “born again” Christian who loved God with all her heart. These days, though, I’m an atheist with nothing to prove.


The story of my departure from the church resembles that of many others who have abandoned the flock. When I was about 16, I started asking questions during services that my youth pastors couldn’t or didn’t want to answer: “Why is it a sin to be gay?” “Why is it okay to spank children?” “Where does the Bible say we can’t have premarital sex?”


When these questions were given the time of day, youth leaders at my church would smugly tell me that I must be struggling with some things in my own heart to be so concerned about these topics and would point to something vague in the Bible. When I persisted I was told to just “have faith.”


By the time I was asking those questions, I didn’t have faith anymore. I didn’t believe there was a God, or heaven and hell. It wasn’t even a choice that I had made, I had just slowly stopped believing until suddenly all of it was gone.


Or so I thought.




For myself, I’m not sure what to do about God. If I could figure out a way to banish this figure from my psyche, I would. But psychology is not on my side here. Having been conditioned to believe in God for so many years, and having a brain hardwired for belief, I may be stuck with the shadow of him forever. While I remain steadfast in my (non)belief, I also feel I have no choice but to accept that I’m an atheist with a sense for God, and that without this kink in my beliefs, I might not strive to understand myself better.

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