Whenever the smallest thing goes right for a Christian, they give Glory to God, or they thank Jesus. Think of all of those professional athletes in any sport that hit a home run, score a touchdown, or a goal in soccer: many of them will look to the sky, maybe kiss their fingers, and point toward that same sky. Why is it they give glory to some invisible being to celebrate that it is they who’ve worked since early childhood, to become the player they are today? As a former evangelical, I can understand this reaction.
I was always taught that all good things come from God and that we should give thanks to God for every good thing. Today, that seems strange to me but at the time, especially as a teenager, it made perfect sense. I was all in; Yes, I started having my doubts during my high school years but then something good would happen, and I would remember, and for a while that would erase any of my then growing doubts. It never occurred to me that my success was due to my effort and even if I questioned at the time, the response would be something like, Well, God encouraged you to… And that seemed to satisfy me at the time.
The doubts would always return because I really couldn’t believe that the work I had put into anything (this is as a teenager) was actually from God. It’s not that I was very studious in school: in fact, truth be known, I never brought books home from school. Ever. I still graduated high school with an A- average, and that doesn’t mean anything other than I got it. Whatever the subject, I did well enough that even though my parents thought it was strange that I never brought books home, they were satisfied with the result.
By the time I graduated high school, I was fairly certain that all of this religion stuff wasn’t true, but I didn’t really have enough information outside my own thoughts to come to any definitive conclusion. This was in the early 1970’s and it was a no-no, pretty much wherever one lived, to declare being an atheist. If anyone today believes that coming out atheist is difficult, imagine what it was like half a century ago.
At that time, I can’t be sure I even knew what an atheist was. Sure there was the rare story on national news (long before cable news) that would have a story about Madeline Murray O’Hare, and American Atheists, suing someone, somewhere, for something. The story never presented atheists positively. Being someone that was on the line as being a non-believer, didn’t help at all. In fact, it kept me “in the closet” for several years as it was clear that non-believers were not welcome in our society. It’s sad that today, in some places, we’re still unwelcome.
By the time I was in my early 20’s, I knew I was an atheist. I couldn’t talk about it because I knew, inherently, that declaring my atheism would damage any hopes I had for a career. It was years later, after I had mostly secured my reputation that I felt comfortable with coming out as an atheist and even then, it was only to a few very close friends where I knew, or believed, that I would not be judged based on being an atheist.
Nothing ever happened. God didn’t strike me down for being an atheist and as time proceeded, I actually met a few others that were atheists as well. My career was never jeopardized, not that I went around announcing to everyone I was an atheist, but because there was no God to punish me for my non-belief. Whatever success I’ve had in this life, came from my own effort. No God required.
Believing in the supernatural may give comfort to some, those that need to believe. that same God, however, that they attended church assiduously to worship, doesn’t seem to care about their outcome and they are deceived to believe that if they only give a little more to God’s work on Earth, they will receive not only their reward in Heaven, but on earth as well. they prey on the poor and disaffected; Increasing their own wealth while watching, without any sense of embarrassment, so many across the world in distress.
That, by itself, would make me an atheist if I wasn’t already.