It is a difficult thing to be an atheist who believes in God. Sometimes it takes an oxymoron to find the Truth. And you often have to go heavily on the “moron” portion of the word.
The thing I find most distressing about faith is the fact that those who have it are absolutely convinced that if you don’t agree with them and whatever book of fairy tales they believe in and interpret for you, then you are not a True Believer and you do not have real Faith.
I remember being told by a Mormon girl in one of my classes that I was her all-time favorite teacher, but she was deeply distressed that, because of my religion (I professed to be a Jehovah’s Witness at the time) I was doomed to burn in Hell forever.
Hey, I was raised in Iowa. I have experienced minus 100 degree Fahrenheit windchill. I am among those who think a nice warm afterlife wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
But I am no longer actually a Jehovah’s Witness. So I guess that helps with the whole Hell-burning thing. The Witnesses are a religion that claims to understand the Bible is full of metaphorical truth, and yet insist that it is literally true. They don’t believe in Hell, which, honestly, is not actually mentioned or explained in the Bible as we have it now. But they do believe your prospects for eternal life on a paradise Earth are totally contingent on knocking on doors and telling other people that they must believe what you believe or experience eternal destruction. I have stopped being an active Witness and knocking on doors because I got old and sick, and all the caring brothers and sisters in the congregation stopped coming around to visit because number one son joined the Marines, and the military is somehow evil hoodoo that cancels out any good you have done in the past. Being a Jehovah’s Witness was really hard work with all the meetings (5 per week), Bible reading (I have read the entire Bible two and a half times), door-knocking, and praying, and you apparently can lose it all for saying, thinking, or doing one wrong thing.
According to the Baptist preachers, Jehovah’s Witness elders, religious zealots, and other opinionated religious people I have known and dealt with in my life, if I do not believe what they believe and agree with them in every detail, then I do not know God and am therefore an atheist. So, okay, I guess I am. If I have to be an atheist to believe whole-heartedly that everyone is entitled to sincerely believe whatever the hell they want to believe, then I’ll wear that label.
On a personal note, my favorite verse of the Bible has always been 1 John 4:8, “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.” That is why I claim to be an atheist who believes in God. I know love. I love all men, women, children, animals, sunrises, artwork, paintings of angels by Bouguereau… everything that is. And I even love you if you exercise your freedom to tell me, “Your ideas are totally wrong, and you are going to burn in Hell, Mickey, you bad guy, you!” Mark Twain always said, “I would choose Heaven for climate, but I would prefer Hell for company.” I am not going to worry about it. I will be in good company. Some things are just bigger than me. And trying to control things like that is nonsense. Sorta like this post.