Reflection of a former athiest
by Glen Doss, Major –
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NIV).
“The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes.
He is trusting something that can give him
no hope at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask,
‘Is this thing, this idol that I’m holding in my hand, a lie?’” (Isaiah 44:20 NLT)
As I marvel at the splendid artistry evident in the configuration of a flower blossom or the foliage of a tree, as I gaze enchanted by the hummingbird’s extraordinary dance as it flits from bloom to bloom, it is very clear that a Higher Intelligence produced all this and continues to do so as I write. The ingenuity is clearly evident in the anatomy of an insect—a brain tinier than a head of a pin drives the life force of this miniscule being! The physiological complexity of a human being is a staggering achievement repeated millions of times a minute all over the globe! “How could I have missed this as a boy,” I ask myself today, “when I made a conscious decision that there is no God? How could I have been so blind?”
For I was blind—a deluded heart misled me—I failed to recognize the lie that I held in my very own hand—I looked at an apple and called it a walnut. The cost of this horrendous error was 25 years of misery, over two decades of living a life based on a lie. If only I had it all to do over again! Dear Lord, forgive me.
What happened? I fell in love with myself. In retrospect I realize that was exactly what happened. At a subliminal level I desired deeply to believe I was superior to others—and therefore convinced myself that I was. I placed myself upon a pedestal and dared to sit in judgment on all around me in the Arkansas community where I grew up in the ‘50s. In my head I ridiculed their Southern drawl, their slang expressions. I sat in judgment on their family lives, their daily routines, their interests, on everything about them. Child though I still was at age 14, I assessed the lives of men and women far older than I, some with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and found them wanting. The child, who at age seven had felt a compulsion to go to the altar, but was held back by his parent’s restraining hand pending reaching “the age of accountability,” now sat in judgment on that moment and called it a delusion.
“What would have been the outcome,” I ask myself today, “if I had been permitted to go up to the altar? If someone had followed and prayed with me on that occasion? Would the Spirit of God have worked a mighty work of commitment in me?” I do not know; I guess I never will.
But over the succeeding years I failed to recognize my increasing self-deception—a truth as obvious as the nose on my face. That truth was comprised of at least the following components:
1. I was so very blind! There is a God—just look at the trees! To believe otherwise is absurd!
2. The hidden motive for accepting the false premise of atheism was that I might fill that gap with myself—I replaced God as the primary object of my own affections! Is this not a conflict of interest? As Dallas Willard observed: “If God is running the universe and has first claim on our lives, guess who isn’t running the universe and does not get to have things as they please?” (Renovation of the Heart)
3. I failed to acknowledge in my own heart a link with the divine and eternal—we know intuitively that we are made for more than this world (Eccl 3:11). But to recognize this we must look beyond our own reflection in the mirror.
4. I failed to accept the validity of other people’s lives—their lives are as valid as mine, just as impor- tant as mine. My capacity for empathy lay dormant and unused.