I am not what one could really call an Ex-Christian, but more of an Ex-generic God believer. Despite the fact that I was never indoctrinated or never once suffered an ounce of guilt for any sins of the flesh, my mind did sometimes work in the same fashion as any fundamentalist Christian when I found myself in a bind whether it was a minor problem, or a major life altering event. I truly believed in the power of prayer, and sought comfort often while talking to that all loving invisible man in the sky. When my problem managed to work itself out I would bow down and give the most gracious thanks to God.
Image by chickenlump via FlickrNearly four years ago I opened a Pandora’s Box of online information that almost instantly turned this once tepid God believer, into a strong atheist. There was no emotional suffering that is often seen in testimonies written by the true Ex-Christians who lose their faith. Actually with me it was an extremely giddy moment. I was very happy when I was convinced God and all the world’s religions were nothing more than the creations of mere mortal men.
As time went on I did notice one little problem. I never realized how often I prayed until I came to the conclusion it was futile. It was really hard dealing with my internal thoughts when I was in a bind, and couldn’t pray. Dealing with life’s thorny moments without praying was very challenging in the beginning. I never realized how much a part of me prayer was, until that point. But over time I slowly learned to deal with problems in life without feeling the need to plead with God. It took a little over a year before I could finally say I had the compulsive habit totally out of my system.
A couple weeks ago I was faced with my most formidable challenge in life without prayer. My 20-year-old son called me and told me he was petrified because he had felt a lump in one of his testicles. While most lumps in women’s breasts turn out benign, 95% of testicular masses in young men are cancerous. As a health care worker I do know that if you are going to sign up for a cancer, testicular is of the most curable, but that did not in any way take away intense parental worry. Even if this form of cancer is amongst the most curable, it would come at a huge cost to my child. There would be surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, along with much suffering and misery even in the best case scenario, and just a huge bump in the road of his young life.
So here was my worst crisis since my deconversion. What was I to do without prayer? At first I really thought I was going to be in this huge mental quandary wondering where to channel my thoughts, but soon after the dust settled in my mind I noticed an interesting and amazing thing. I found myself being much more at peace as an atheist, than I would have been as a God believer. Why? because with God belief in crisis one’s mind starts to race in circles in relation to God and why this is happening. Did I not pray hard enough? Is God punishing me for looking at online porn to many times? Is he sending me some sort of message to change my ways etc? The wondering why, in relation to an all loving God can be as mentally taxing as the actual crisis itself, where as now that I am an atheist it’s a rather simple matter to process. In the natural world cell mutations occur. It doesn’t matter who one is, or which God he believes, if any. Statistically a certain number of young me will contract testicular cancer and it’s as simple as that. The natural world can be a bitch at times, and life isn’t fair and never will be.
Surprisingly with the acceptance of these facts, it was so much easier to focus on the problem at hand without Jesus involved in the picture, because we all know in reality the deeply praying religious folks do have any less troublesome outcomes than atheists.
Thankfully in the end after a week of worry and without prayer, it turns out my son has a condition similar to a varicose vein around his male reproductive part. I was so pleasantly surprised what I learned about myself during this heath scare of my oldest child. We as non praying atheists can get through those foxholes in life, just as well, and maybe better than those who fill their times of trouble pleading with God.