Sure, I had moments where I felt that God was so close I could almost breach the ethereal plane and touch Him as a Christian. Never expected one as an atheist…
I was on vacation last week. My favorite kind. One with no agenda. My grandparents owned a place on a lake in Northern Michigan. As a child, and growing into an adult, we had one set rule at the Cabin—you do not have to do something just because everyone else was doing it. If everyone wanted to go swimming and you wanted to take a nap—you could take a nap. No pressure.
If we were going golfing, and you wanted to stay and read a book—GREAT! That was your choice. This developed into a very relaxed atmosphere in which I can vacation without always having to go somewhere or do something or have some itinerary dictating my day.
Sunday morning I went for my typical run. It was hot, and I ended up running a little farther than intended. After showering, and making my coffee, I headed down to the early morning lake to sit for a moment before the rest of the family was up.
I was clean and shiny with endorphins still flowing from my run. The lake was so calm that the boats moored in the water were not in line with waves (there were none) but were sporadically pointing in random directions. The water was clear and so calm that I could hear a raucous breakfast happening somewhere on the lake. Just far enough way to not make out words, but close enough to hear the laughter in the voices.
Not a cloud in the sky. It was a new day, fresh with the promise of a gorgeous Northern Michigan vacation. Just me, the sun, the water, and my coffee. The smell of pine was in the air.
I took that first sip of coffee. I don’t know if you are a coffee drinker, but if you are, you know what the first taste is like. After that, your tongue becomes accustomed to the bitter, rich flavor, but that first sip—oh is it heaven!
And in that instant, in a rush, I had a God moment. As I looked at nature surrounding me, I thought, “Certainly there must be some creator. This is far too beautiful for me to be lucky enough to roll the cosmic dice and be in such a pure state of ecstasy.”
To any theists out there—you want a great argument for a god? Stand with me on that dock. No, don’t say anything—every syllable you make only detracts from the argument. The strength of it is the silence and absorbing it with every attuned sense.
And then…slowly…as they do…the God moment recessed back. It shrank. I didn’t will it away. I didn’t will it to stay. It just…diminshed. I couldn’t help thinking, “We skeptics sure give theists a rough time about their god. We throw the Problem of Suffering out. We bring up the Tankah, the genocides, the flood over and over and over. We question why their god does what they claim he does. Why they claim he loves us, but never talks to us.”
That was god’s big opportunity! After all the questions, after all the blaming, after all the accusations of immorality, one would think that this would have been his big chance to appear and say, “But see? See? I did pretty good here, don’t you think?” Yet again, though, God did not choose to make an appearance.
I get that the God Moment was simply a time in which I was extremely happy. That a combination of senses and timing gave my brain an adrenaline rush it liked. In the time of my greatest despair, when I was begging for God to show me anything—he never came. In the time of my greatest ecstasy, when a slight shift would have revealed his presence—he never came. He was never there in the first place.
As my cup was almost empty, and the last lingering traces of the God Moment were clinging to my mind, I heard my oldest shout, “Dad! What’s for breakfast?!” And I was brought back to corporeal senses. This was what life was really about—making breakfast. Survival. God Moments are nice—they are mind re-chargers. Yet in the end, we must go return to living. To interacting, eating, sleeping, working, playing and being human.
I made eggs and bacon with a smile on my face. Me. An atheist. Having a moment of spirituality. Who’d a thunk it?