An atheist who can’t help believing in God

Atheist Elizabeth King says that she can’t “shake” her sense that there really may be a god. If you ask her whether God exists, she will answer with a definitive “no.” She has made a decisive break from the evangelical faith of her youth. But still, she occasionally prays and offers up other expressions that reveal that she’s hardwired for faith. You should read the whole essay in The Washington Post, but here’s her conclusion:

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. Having been conditioned to believe in God for so many years, and having a brain hard-wired for belief, I may be stuck with his shadow 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.

King explains her involuntary religious expressions in a materialistic way–that her brain has a bent toward faith. I couldn’t help but see that there is a more plausible explanation for her feelings than the one she has come up with. It comes from the apostle Paul in Romans 1:19-21:

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.

The fact is that all of us are “hardwired” for faith. God has made us and His world in such a way that we are surrounded by perceivable evidence of His being and goodness. He is manifestly the God who is there, and sometimes ironically even atheists bear witness to that truth.


UPDATE, 2/11/16: Elizabeth King reached out on Twitter and wishes for me to clarify that she in no way believes in God. Here she is in her own words:

3 Responses to An atheist who can’t help believing in God

  1. Dan Phillips February 10, 2016 at 11:13 am #

    Is that translation the New Burking Version?

    • Denny Burk February 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

      Ha! You would catch that, wouldn’t you? Actually, it was the New Living Translation. Please don’t think less of me!

      • Dan Phillips February 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

        I was going to reply, “That’d be hard to imagine,” but then I realized that could be taken two ways.

        So let’s just say, best as a mere mortal can, “Never!”

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