All It Takes Is One

So, I’ve been thinking about a question. It’s a question that I believe has only one logical answer. It is a question that I am sure many people, especially former believers, have had at one time or another. That question is this:

If a god exists that wants every last one of us to know and experience their presence, how could there be anyone who doesn’t believe?

This question is one I used to wrestle with. Now, I don’t lose any sleep over it because the answer is rather obvious. Anyone familiar with the story of a personal god would know that atheists shouldn’t exist if a personal god does. So what’s the issue here? Are atheists’ hearts just hardened by Satan to convince them that God doesn’t exist? Do they believe in God deep down, but outwardly deny it for some reason? Or is the existence of atheism the result of something else entirely?

In the Christian Bible, God is said to be personal. He is said to interact with us on a daily basis. At one time, the father was personally involved. Then, his son. Now we are told that the Holy Spirit does most of the heavy lifting. So why is there a disconnect between God and his children? Have they lost faith and are disobedient because of sin? Is it deliberate or just a side effect of “the fall”? There are endless questions that could be asked when it comes to this debate. But there is only one question that is really worth asking:

If a personal loving god exists who wants every single one of us to love him back and to be faithful to him, why doesn’t he eliminate all doubt and come out from hiding?

That is the real question. Many people, like myself, lived and breathed faith. Some of us spent the majority of our lives this way. We were certain that we were walking hand in hand with God every single day. Then for one reason or another (or several) we lost that faith. God seemed more and more distant. The “truth” became suspect and eventually became less and less probable. We had no choice but to move on. Despite pleas to the almighty, no answers came. Regardless of our desire to keep the faith, grow in it and be the best children of God we could be, God remained hidden. More and more believers no longer believe. The number of theists is dropping. The number of atheists is growing. That should be alarming and it should be a call to action. But not by us…by God. So where is he and why the reluctance to step in?

The fact that we have a lot of atheists living on this Earth isn’t really relevant. It honestly doesn’t matter what the actual number of nonbelievers is. There is, however, a number that completely debunks the idea of a loving and personal god who is grieved when we turn away. This number should get God to step in and right the ship immediately. It should make him reveal himself, remove the mystery and stop with the games. That number? Well, that number is one. Even one person who is unconvinced of there being a god of the universe that wants to be intimately involved with us is one too many. That number disqualifies any god who is said to be personal. It disqualifies any god who is said to be obvious and everywhere. That number is enough to spark a debate over whether a god exists or doesn’t. If people are debating the existence of a personal, obvious, involved and loving god…he doesn’t exist.

But there isn’t just one atheist, is there? There aren’t a dozen or a hundred. There are hundreds of millions…and that number is growing all the time. Millions upon millions of people “down here” are testifying to the fact that god has not revealed himself in any detectable way to them. He hasn’t answered prayers, restored their faith or proven the stories written about him to be true. Anyone who says otherwise is not being honest. Their personal experiences with God should be observable by others. If not, then what makes them any different than the experiences of a Schizophrenic? If someone hears voices, but no one else does, are they real? How can you know? What about dreams, visions and alleged answered prayers? Without being able to be detected by others, in what possible way can these things be confirmed?

I won’t drone on and on about this, but I just wanted to add this:

The moment the first atheist appeared should have been the same exact moment that religion ceased to be. The fact that it has continued is proof that people are willing to exchange truth, evidence and common sense for wishful thinking and for whatever makes them feel good. That doesn’t make any of it true.

20 thoughts on “All It Takes Is One

  1. Ben,

    Wonderful, poignant blog-post. Your logic is sound of course, but as you and I and many of us deconverts know full well, stubborn Christian Believers, Faithers (especially the zealous Fundies who will never be publicly embarrassed) do not wish to deal in “human” or man-made “Satanic” logic. If we go at them with ontological, philosophical, empirical or epistemological reasoning they will always fall back upon their invented Satan, the Fall, the unpredictable Holy Spirit, or our depravity of divine mysteries. In psychotherapy this is known as and diagnosed as Psychological Deflection.* It is categorized as an abusive narcissistic tactic on others or invisible forces like Satan. The bottom-line with the tactic is that they are scared SHITLESS of taking full ownership/accountability of everything they ever say, do, or think about passively.

    Hence, a proxy, a substitute, a Lamb, a scapegoat, a suffering (failed) Messiah in their place. Denial. Passing the buck. Never confronting, much less embracing our mortality, our imperfections, our incessant need to FEEL accepted, affirmed, with an awe-inspiring mystery… that is in reality simply amongst ourselves, helping each other to be MORE and BETTER than imagined for others.

    But Christians, hell… Abrahamic followers have to over complicate it all with fairy-tales and magic, convoluting and distorting the simple things, the best things, the most impactful meaningful things/aspirations in one’s life.

    Great stuff Ben. Glad to read that your book is coming along Sir! 🙂

    * – Introductory Source: https://www.learning-mind.com/psychological-deflection/

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you sir.

      I’ve moved beyond trying to take on the stubborn believers. They are welcome to cry all day long about how I am wrong, you are wrong…and everyone other than them is wrong. Those types of people don’t concern me any longer. Those people have enough issues already. Trying to convince themselves and everyone else that they are correct based on absolutely nothing is a daunting task. I’ll just leave them be. I write more for those who never say a word on my blog. It’s for those that read it with an open mind and a hurting heart that I am reaching for. Those who believe but aren’t sure why. Those that maybe don’t believe as much as they used to. Those who are too scared to walk through the door that crosses from faith into logic, truth and evidence. It is a scary door to go through. I fought it for years. I locked it, boarded it up and ran from it for as long as I could. But, having an open mind helps to push that door open slowly and it helps to aid us as we step over that threshold.

      Anyone who wishes to try and refute my conclusions are more than welcome. Using the Bible or oral traditions won’t work. In fact, nothing someone else could say would change my mind. Why? They aren’t God. A personal and loving god needs to show me PERSONALLY and LOVINGLY that he is there. Words from another person just show me what that other person believes. That is irrelevant to any relationship I may or may not have with this alleged intimate and personal god. Since that god either chooses to remain silent or (much more likely) doesn’t exist, words from a believer fall flat and mean nothing to me. Words don’t reveal reality. Words only reveal people’s opinions of reality.

      Thanks for the feedback and encouragement as always. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your posture on those types Ben is perfect, commendable, smart. We do have to be wise in picking our battles and when to fight, huh? In my years employed at a Psych/A&D hospital—the Assessment/Screening Office, not unlike an ER, but for (acute?) mental-illnesses—try dealing intelligently with a Schizophrenic or Schizoid-Affect off their prescribed meds and regular treatment program. Let me tell you, if they’ve been off of them for more than 2-weeks it will NOT be an easy upcoming 1-3 hours for you. That’s IF the police are not already involved. And they may have to be called in anyway depending on the patient’s mood, behavior, and safety… them AND bystanders.

        I am not b.s.’ing at all when I say there are several similarities (cognitively) between the two types we are referring to. BOTH types have varying degrees of delusions or distorted reality. Most severe cases of schizophrenia that manifest in their 20’s (some sooner, some later) can never be fully cured or recovered, only managed—at least with current technology, neurology and medicine.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think it’s absolutely true that we can’t drag people to where we’re at, and the very arguments and even life experience that draw one person to God may not impact the next in the same way at all. We are all very different.

        Someone had shared on another blog that the thing that would convince him of the truth of Christian faith would be Jesus physically appearing on the roof of his home and sharing a meal of fish and then levitating off into space.

        For me, I would assume that I might be becoming mentally ill, dreaming or having a hallucination.

        What spoke to me most strongly was my experience of the complexity of the cosmos, the witness of the creation as well as the historic witness of the church coming through the apostles, as well as my own experience.

        But, I fully understand that other people think very differently, and I accept that.

        As a Christian believer, I fully trust that in the love of God, all people who honestly seek Him and want truth, will be ultimately drawn into Christ, either in this life or the next.

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      3. “As a Christian believer, I fully trust that in the love of God, all people who honestly seek Him and want truth, will be ultimately drawn into Christ, either in this life or the next.”
        This is something I believed in as well. I believed it for a very long time. But then I realized that no matter how much I “honestly sought him”, he was not there. I was raised Christian, but didn’t really truly “seek” him until I was around 20. Before that, I went along with what I was taught and religion was more background noise than anything else. I believed in god and Jesus, but I didn’t go out of my way to make it a priority. Then from around 20 until I lost my faith a few years ago when I was almost 40, I was seeking nonstop. I honestly wanted a relationship. I prayed with a sincere heart. I cried out (literally, with tears and everything) to god on numerous occasions, asking where he was. No reply.
        You see, the biggest issue with having a relationship with god is the LITERAL HIDING. He is not there to be seen, heard, felt or anything else. He is an idea that we are supposed to believe on faith. I tried. I tried for a very long time and I was sincere. I poured my heart out and devoted my time to being the best believer I could be. But it was only me. There was never an answer, just an idea. I believed someone was listening, so I made it real. My prayers were never answered and all I asked for was a relationship. That’s it. There’s not a less selfish prayer I can think of and even that was ignored. The promises of a personal god that the Bible and other texts promote does not exist. It doesn’t matter how sincere you are. It doesn’t matter if you honestly seek after him. It doesn’t matter what others say. The fact is, if god exists, he chooses to remain silent.
        I can understand your beliefs and I know what it is like to have them. But I no longer feel that way and I can no longer justify having a completely one-sided relationship with an invisible god who doesn’t exist beyond the words of the book he was written into.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. The first question can be hand waved away pretty easily by Christians, or at least it seems on the surface. You could argue that people weren’t seeking God or whatever. But as soon as you have one person actually seeking God it becomes a problem. Nowhere does the Bible say “seek and you might find, or you might not”. You’re right, there shouldn’t be anyone seeking God at all (who doesn’t get answered).

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Anyone who has tested the promises of the Bible and came up empty should walk away immediately. If you can’t take God’s word at face value (and all you have are words) then what do we have to go on? Other’s opinions? Their testimonies? Their gut feelings? None of these things are worth anything to anyone else if they can’t actually experience them for themselves.

      I wasted so many years on belief. Faith got me through a lot of tough times, but only because I was thinking positively. It was not because anyone stepped in to help but was because I believed someone might step in at some point. We don’t need a god to think positively.

      If anyone is seeking God, they shouldn’t be ignored. There is no excuse that makes it okay. If “God’s word” promises a relationship to all who seek it, then all would find that relationship. But we don’t. I devoted decades of my life with nothing but a relationship with God as my goal…and yet here I am. I am still open and willing to have that relationship. So what’s missing? Hmm…God, maybe?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yeah it’s a wonder people have to go by their ‘gut feelings’, testimonies or what the Bible says, there’s no concrete evidence.

        Looking back now, I’m not sure I’d want a relationship with this God anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. If such an entity as described by christians as god did indeed exist, its presence should be obvious. God had no problems with appearing to people, talking to them directly or through an intermediary like an angel, performing miracles, killing people he didn’t like (lots and lots of killing), etc. The believers claim that after Jesus appeared, god shouldn’t need to do any of that any more. But why? In fact we don’t even know Jesus even existed. Outside of a few religious texts of highly questionable origins, there is no historical or archeological evidence that Jesus even existed. There seem to be no written records concerning Jesus until almost a hundred years after he died. And we know that a lot of those religious texts were altered, censored and were even forgeries in many cases. And even if he did exist and the texts actually reflect what he said and did, what it seems what he was really trying to do wasn’t attempting to start a new religion. He was a devout Jew who was trying to reform Judaism and expose the greed and hypocrisy of the Jewish religious leaders of the time.

    If religion was held to the same standards, was required to provide the same evidence as anything else we deal with in life, if it were examined in the cold light of logic and proof, it completely and utterly falls apart and looks, frankly, silly.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. There would be no need for “God’s Word” if we actually had the relationship promised to us in those words. If God was actually present and acting in our lives, we’d know it and the words would be completely unnecessary. Sure, there might be some history in there people might find interesting, but it would not have anything to do with their relationship with God.

      I don’t need a book written about my relationship with my wife to know that I have one. I have my wife here with me to serve as evidence for that. A book describing it would be quite redundant. Why is it that believers cannot see that? If you need words to prove your reality, then you aren’t actually living in reality.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Ben if you feel comfortable, are you able to share more fully what led you to think that God was not there? Was it more a feeling or prayers not answered? Could depression be a factor in this?

    As I’ve shared, we’re all different and at differing places in our spiritual journey. I can only share my own experience. There were certainly times in my life when I felt as if my prayers “balanced off the ceiling” so to speak, challenging and difficult times, but now looking back as my older me, I can see ways that God worked through my circumstances, that I did not at all perceive at the time.

    And, for many, conversion is a process taking many years, decades even. There is a woman at my church who shared that she walked out of the church as a young person and did not sense the presence of God or “believe” for over two decades.

    Our culture conditions us to want fairly immediate results and to expect that things need to turn out in specific ways yesterday.

    And, I know this sounds like a cliche, God’s timing in our lives is not always our timing. When I was going through challenging times, it definitely would not have been helpful for me to hear this. I would not have accepted it, for sure.

    But looking back I have a deeper experience of the truth of this statement.

    Ultimately, although it maybe a work of years, I firmly believe that God will not lose any that belong to Him We can relax and fall into His grace.

    Realize that I certainly am not the one to convince anyone, though. Wishing for you and your family every joy and peace.

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    1. I’m not Ben (obviously), but I’d like to offer a response.

      You wrote I can see ways that God worked through my circumstances, that I did not at all perceive at the time. You saw God in the circumstances because that’s what you wanted to see.

      Long ago you made the decision to believe in a supernatural entity that wants only the best for you. As a result, all that happens in your life is attributed to him (except perhaps, if you believe in that “other force,” then you might blame him for the bad things that happen).

      This is the entire Christian story in a nutshell.

      Ben is correct. If believers are totally honest with themselves, there is nothing there. But this is not what they want to believe, so …. they don’t.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. What led me to believe that God was not there was the fact that God was not there. Period. All of the promises made in the Bible can be tested…and I did. Where two or more are gathered in my name? Tried that….nothing. Ask and you will receive? Yup, tried that too. The promises of him being there when people are truly seeking him? Yeah, where was he for decades of my life? Where is he now? There is no evidence for the existence of God outside of the mind of a believer. There simply isn’t. I believe this because I was one for a very long time. When I bought into the story, God was quite real. When I began to question the stories, he became less and less real. No matter how much I sincerely prayed for my faith to be restored, there was no answer. No matter how much I tried to devote my time, effort and heart to this god, there was no answer. To beg and plead for nothing more than a relationship and have silence as an answer is absolutely horrid if this god actually exists.

      I too looked backed at past experiences and tried to fit God into them. When my best friend died at age 20, I tried to figure out why. Another friend brought me to church and so I concluded God took one friend home to bring me to him. I never thought about the toll on his family and how his mother basically killed herself in depression, ignoring her other children. To me, God was teaching me a lesson for the greater good. When I prayed and prayed for my Dad to not die when hooked up to a respirator, he died anyway. I was angry in the moment but looked back later and concluded God was merciful and must have needed him more. When my wife and I lost our daughter in 2004 because of an issue with her anatomy (insufficient cervix) we were devastated. I looked back a year later and concluded that she died so my son who was born in 2005 could live. Does that make sense? Kill one child to give another life? No, but to fit God into the picture, I had to believe it.

      There had never been one instance where I actually experienced God in a detectable way. I had feelings and a sense he was there, but only when I already believed in his existence. Once I questioned it, despite pleas to regain it, these good feelings were gone. It’s all mental. You need to think it is real for it to be real. If God were real and wanted us all to know it, we wouldn’t be debating his existence thousands of years later. Atheists would not exist because the overwhelming evidence would paint them as fools. Scripture is not overwhelming evidence. A sunset or a rainbow? Nope. The beauty and complexity of the cosmos? Nope.

      Now, I am not saying there is no god. All I am saying is we can’t conclude there is one without evidence. The existence of life and the universe is unique and awe-inspiring, but to say there is a god because there is something rather than nothing is something that requires tremendous evidence and there is none. I believed there was and I would argue up and down that I was right. But now when I look back, instead of shoehorning God into my life, I see that God was always just a way of dealing with situations for which I was either in pain or had no other explanation.

      I am curious what your experience was that convinced you. Was it personal or were other people able to witness it? If God is obvious and everywhere (his existence impossible to refute) then others surely would concede the point. I am not trying to be rude, but ALL former believers were convinced at one point or another. And none of us now are remotely convinced that our former selves were correct.

      I was not depressed at all. I was just open and willing to receive confirmation that I was right to believe…and none was given. I was willing to devote my life to a god who was willing to find the time to be part of that life. There were no willing participants.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I became an agnostic as a young girl but was still always seeking and open to truth, to God if He existed. I finally came to faith later in my teens, although my reasons for believing then were at least somewhat different than they are now, of course. My faith deepened and matured over the years.

        Probably where we might be different in this is that I don’t take ahold of Scripture in the same way as someone who might come from a more fundamentalist background. For instance, it doesn’t seem to me that God will always protect me from adversity or provide healing because I pray a certain type of prayer. I do think that God is always with me no matter what, and will be there with grace and additional strength in the middle of adversity.

        Ben and Nan, it strikes me that once we get into subjective and personal experience, no one can really judge another’s perception or experience as valid or invalid because we are just not there inside each other’s skin to really know.

        For me, my faith is based on what I consider objective evidence as well as subjective experience of the presence and work of God in my life. I think someone would have been able to discern the change in my life over time after coming to faith. I became more compassionate and less judgemental, more caring.

        Ben, perhaps, your relationship was something that only existed in your own mind. And, maybe not. I can only share my own perception and experience in this and offer some alternate possibilities to consider.

        But, you do seem pretty comfortable and certain of your views. To me, you are relatively young. Maybe added years will offer another perspective.

        Either way, you seem like a really good guy, a great Dad, with a lot of life to look forward to.

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  5. Very well written post, Ben. I’ve had thoughts along those lines before, but not as ordered of a logical deduction as that. Cheers.

    This doesn’t actually contradict what you said, but depending on if you think only humans can be atheists and not our genetic ancestors, then the ‘first atheist’ was the first human. Nobody is born believing in a God – It’s just a common trait of humanity that we try and ascribe things we cannot understand or appease our fears of death through such an explanation.

    I can just see people taking your last paragraph the wrong way. Sorry for my pedanticism. :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks.

      I see your point. And I agree. The fact that religion exists is an anomaly. We are all born (humans and all other forms of life) as atheists. We had to be taught about, and convinced of, God. We had to be taught religion. It shouldn’t exist, but it does. It was created at a time when our understanding of the world was quite limited. The fact that it still exists today shows a reluctance on our part to accept reality and move on from those primitive thoughts our ancestors had. I suppose a better way to have worded it should have been something more along the lines of:

      The moment religion was introduced as an explanation should have the same moment someone stepped in and said, “Uh, not so fast. Can you prove that or are you just filling in the gaps of your understanding with a god?”

      But again, we are talking about a very primitive understanding of the world around us. So I can cut them a little slack. However, the people who live today, with the knowledge we now have, have no excuses. If they believe in a god, then they should have good reason to. They should have no trouble whatsoever in producing that god and demonstrating its existence to others. The fact that they can’t and the fact that no god comes to us when we call on it (despite promises that it would) is enough to conclude one is not likely to exist. At least not a personal god. A deistic one? Unlikely, but much more believable than a personal god who was written in such a way that we are to believe he wants to be intimately involved in every facet of our lives…and then chooses to hide and never once come out from hiding.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This reminds me a bit of a great Ricky Gervais quote: ““… Science is constantly proved all the time. You see, if we take something like any fiction, any holy book… and destroyed it, in a thousand years’ time, that wouldn’t come back just as it was. Whereas if we took every science book, and every fact, and destroyed them all, in a thousand years they’d all be back, because all the same tests would [produce] the same result.”

    If Christianity were somehow destroyed, it would never return – it would just be replaced by another.

    It does beg the question, though: Why do we humans so often create fictions to explain what we are incapable of explaining? Religions have historically often popped up independently of one another – in isolated regions. It’s not like there was one person 5000 years ago who first had the idea of god and every other religion can be traced to their idea. It was ostensibly many different people who came up with the same idea on their own. That question is fascinating to me. As you said, though, it was primitive times. I can’t hold it against them too much.

    This, along with the fact that so many people even today believe in mutually exclusive religions that logically cannot all be true at the same time, proving that most are false (and strongly supporting the idea that all are), tells us that there is something inherent in humanity that 1) will create fictitious gods and 2) will believe in fictitious gods.

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