Atheist to Theist: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love God

(Continued, from last week)

I was an atheist.

As such, and as I mentioned before; several matters of anxiety, guilt, and disjoint were better for me. -Religiously speaking. I didn’t believe in God anymore. I wasn’t deluded, guilt-ridden, tied-down, or beholden to any sort of religious nonsense anymore.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Still, I continued to attend Sunday meetings at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had children to raise. (And, if the query comes to anyone’s mind, I believe children need a foundation of religious structure in their youth. They are welcome to deviate from that upon reaching adulthood if that be their choice.)

So, I went. I lived among Believers and listened to their strange observations and conclusions. -Like, a woman’s reassuring me that my unborn child would be a missionary in heaven if he died before birth.

Strange, yes; but I wasn’t full-certain the club of atheism was The Answer to life, the universe, and everything, either.

Atheists were an easier group for me to relate to. I loved the smug surety of intelligence, the self-confidence, the witty ridicule, and the assumption of deep thoughts and deep discussions.

While Christians drawled that, “Jesus saves,” Atheists succinctly posited, “If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes” (Bertrand Russell).

But atheists lacked the ability to answer my specific questions like Why do I exist as a sentient being but my ultimate purpose is to return to dust? and What about those times I know God stepped into my life, or in others’ lives whom I trusted? I experienced a similar phenomenon of general doubts or uncertainties I’d had with theism. Like mosquitoes, the concerns persisted and would not be exterminated. All wasn’t sunshine and roses, even with my accepting that sun and rose existed without fairies amongst them.

I sought answers and discovered inadequacies.

Photo by Keira Burton

What was I to do?

Time passed, without resolve.

Then, without God in my life, He stepped in.

I received personal revelation. I distinctly felt that I needed to sign up for an educational-pursuit program the LDS Church operates. At the time, I knew very little about it. I don’t recall my seeking inspiration on the matter nor my asking for direction of this kind. If pressed, I believe someone mentioned its existence and I just knew I was to sign up.

The program is designed to prepare adults for advanced education; it’s a weekly class on life skills, writing and mathematics, and -most unbeknownst to me- religious topics.

As an atheist and a seeker of logical truth, I was pursuing non-religious literature for a presumed ‘balance;’ from that, I went to studying and taking notes on scriptural texts and lectures by LDS leaders.

My attending Pathway was the first step in a long, long hike back up the figurative Mt. Sinai; one I was not keen to take even with my burning desire to know things for certain.

I’d love to leave everyone hanging with the overused, “The rest, as they say, is history.”

How trite and incomplete; particularly if you, like me, seek real answers and actual truth.

But, I feel the time is getting long. And so, instead, I’ll drop a cliché to be continued. Adieu, adieu, parting is such sweet sorrow. Farewell till next week.

©2023 Chel Owens

60 thoughts on “Atheist to Theist: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love God

  1. I thought I had become an atheist, but I hated the smugness and disgust they spewed toward believers. They were just as bad a Christian evangelicals.

    I’m still on a journey and today think that spirit/love/God/higher power exists. It is not for me to deny that. Ikon ow that every belief and non belief have a kernel of truth. Blessed be!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Atheism is certainly lacking in answers, but that, for me at least, is the whole point. There have been lots and lots of answers provided by religion over the eons, on the other hand, and I suppose it’s possible that the LDS Church have finally stumbled across the correct answer …. but it does seem statistically improbable, especially considering that tangible evidence supporting that answer amounts to zero.

    I suspect that you are right in suggesting that children be raised with an awareness of religious belief, though it might work better if they were given a few more alternatives.
    Here’s my plan …… With 12 years of school children could probably be taught (and taught with passion by experts and absolute devotees) one different religious perspective each year. There would need not be any particular order. No obvious bias would be given to any one of them. Atheism, not qualifying as a religion, would not be taught. Kids would have to figure that one out for themselves. Cynicism is not a religion, either, but I suspect that they might develop a bit of that, too.

    But keep up the good work Chel (that is not sarcasm – I genuinely think you do good work – we all need alternative perspectives, as I say). I am not alone, to be sure in looking forward to the next instalment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your perspective, again, does not differ much from mine. I’ve simply had a foundation of a Mormon upbringing and then a turn towards deep theology for answers as opposed to deep scientific theories -though, it’s most accurate to define my ‘faith’ as a mixture of both.

      As to your ideas about educating children, I only disagree on the proof of differing development levels and the human’s ability (or, inability) to adjust so quickly to change. Most cannot. A program like yours would work better as a college course. And, for the vulnerable years before then, I’m in favor of religion with sound reasons behind commandments.


      1. Yes. I confess the plan is not practical. But I’m sure you’d agree that 12 years of the one idea during those formative times might sway the perspective a bit away from a position of neutrality. The problem with my idea, I understand, is that children would, potentially, become quite confused. Still …. at the age of 17 or 18, isn’t confusion a fairly normal state anyway? I suppose I’m pushing for something we might call ‘informed confusion’.


        1. Ha ha. I’m not pushing for neutrality, actually. I’m pushing for religion and faith as a presumptive position for when a child needs an answer. If he then feels the need for deeper answers, he may seek them in the way that satisfies him best after his brain is more solid and his body less hormonal.

          I do not support a religion that is damaging.


          1. Of course not. Though I would argue that all religion is potentially very damaging if mishandled (and it frequently is) but I am very confident that you would not support it, as such.
            A ‘presumptive position’ is an odd sort of foundation …. it says to me, “We’ve got no way of backing this up, so we’ve decided just to assume a few things ….”


            1. Are we not telling all children (all people) just an idea, even when it’s a scientific one? So you have proof; whose? In what form? You’re assigning authority to something.


              1. True.
                As arrogant as it may sound, I am sort of assigning authority to myself. As are you. Because that’s all we really have as an arbitrator, in the end.
                And I understand that my conclusion that 2+2=4, based primarily on personal experience, is not verifiable in an absolute sense, but I’m happy to say that I ‘know’ 2+2=4. Claiming knowledge of a supernatural entity seems a rather larger step.


                1. I’m suggesting you’re assigning authority to ‘experts;’ although, my ultimate point is that you’re your own authority.

                  That claim is precisely the step in encouraging and having difficulty explaining. I hope to encapsulate how much more freeing the thought is to not see problems as 2+2=4, but everything more like differential calculus or trigonometry in five dimensions.


                2. Yes, but if I had a problem to be solved via differential calculus or trigonometry in five dimensions I could probably find an ‘expert’ in the subject to solve it for me and explain the reasoning behind the explanation. There would be a definitive answer that, based on current knowledge, would be indisputable. Theologians cannot provide such answers. Although religion was originally viewed as a ‘science’ that interpretation is very misleading now.
                  Science does require a degree of faith, but to compare that faith with the faith required of religious belief is a bit disingenuous, I think.
                  Religion goes ‘beyond’ science and, thus far, anything beyond science is guesswork.
                  Scientific faith is based on theory. Religion is not a theory.

                  Liked by 1 person

                3. Why isn’t it? Why would that person be an expert? My example was to show you that you are putting faith in a person; you are lending authority to someone claiming an idea that you do not have knowledge of so are accepting. Why is what that person says “indisputable?” Really -why? He showed you a paper? He spoke well? Literally think about he says and does and how you literally agree at some point that he is an “expert” and you believe his story.

                  I can see that you’re saying all those things from an “indisputable” standpoint because I’m associating it with religion (because that’s the current topic of discussion), but this whole idea of assigning authority and accepting experts and idolizing celebrities is an interesting one to think about in all respects. Why do it? Each man is just a man.


                4. Why is religion not a theory? Because it contains no falsifiable hypotheses.

                  I think we assign authority to various people on various matters as a matter of course. In therms of biblical knowledge, for example, I would most certainly be happy to accept his or her knowledge as superior to mine, on that topic. Likewise, I assign authority to the pilot of the plane I board based on my understanding that he or she is highly qualified and skilled I that particular area. But ….. if I find myself in need of brain surgery then I’d have absolutely no faith in either the scholar or the pilot to do the job.
                  It’s not about just ‘accepting’ experts and certainly not about idolising celebrities. I don’t just accept the words of someone who says that they are a scientist or a pilot or a biblical scholar or brain surgeon – there are a few charlatans out there in all of those fields.
                  And I have spoken to theologians. It is not a field of expertise for me and I acknowledge their superiority in discussing such matters. But not one of the has been able to provide one single shred of verifiable fact that provides any foundation whatsoever to the existence of God. On the other hand I also have only a limited understanding of the theory of gravity. But I’ve tested the theory, and I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s probably very close to the truth.

                  Liked by 1 person

                5. 😀 You didn’t think about it. I’m talking about the way in which you have decided the pilot is an expert; and the brain surgeon, as well.


                6. Hmmm ….. well my thinking can be a bit lazy and hazy sometimes. I suppose that, in terms of the pilot and the brain surgeon I am awarding them expert status on the basis of evidence – not so much as individuals, but as a group. I know a little about what they claim to be able to do and seen them actually do it. There remains a degree of faith, but that faith has fairly sound foundations.
                  God, on the other hand, has made a lot of claims, but failed miserably to deliver.
                  So yes, based upon evidence, it seems far more sensible to put your faith in the (expert) brain surgeon than in God.
                  I am fairly sure that the LDS church are fine with blood transfusions (correct me if I’m wrong), but the JWs are against it, for example – with horrific consequences. But they do so in the firm and honest belief that such corresponds to God’s wishes. The ‘experts’ tell them what might happen and, tragically, it frequently does.

                  Liked by 1 person

                7. Sure. I was simply raising a point I’ve considered with religion, but with many things: politics, managers, COVID, etc. In this case, yes, it applies to faith. And I can’t really think of a time God made a claim He did not deliver on.


                8. I suppose you have me there. God, hasn’t really made any claims at all. But a lot of people have made claims on his behalf. He hasn’t even claimed his own existence, I guess, much less the stuff about eternal life and virgin births and great floods and resurrections and so forth. He has been absolutely silent on such matters.


                9. Ha ha! There’s our problem. I can’t ask because I don’t believe that there is any such entity to ask. You CAN ask, because you believe the opposite. So, regardless of your convictions, any answer you provide (as having come from God) comes from you, from my perspective.

                  And it leads to the question (often posed by children) of why does he make it so hard? He sends a messenger 2000 years ago to a tiny piece of geography and almost the entire population of the planet doesn’t even notice. Why all the cloak and dagger stuff? Just give us something concrete. We’re actually not that hard to convince. We just want answers. Not in code. Just straight up.
                  I think Kurt Vonnegut said once that, should he find himself entering through the gates of heaven, suddenly feeling guilty for the terrible mess we had all made of things, that his first words would be, “I’m sorry, God, but you just didn’t give us enough information.”

                  Liked by 1 person

                10. Of course you can ask, silly. You don’t have to believe to ask. Anyone can. Let’s say you don’t believe; literally, you are still able to ask.

                  I do think God makes things simple.

                  And, if God is omniscient, don’t you think He sees the mess we made of things?


                11. Hmmm . Yes, if God is omniscient, He sees everything – past, present and future. Which makes everything seem a bit pointless, somehow.
                  Anyway, what do you think I should ask? Should it be a binary, yes/no type question, or something needing a bit more time (of which He has limitless supply)? How long should I wait for an answer? It’s not like he’s busy or anything.
                  I know that a lot of people have asked the “do this for me God, and I will believe in you” type question, and He doesn’t seem to like those – though I would have thought asking God to save an innocent child from a painful death might have been a reasonable request…..
                  So …. now that I’ve got the chance to ask God a question, I’m lost for words.

                  Liked by 1 person

                12. Yeah; my question of that nature would be more of an angry rant. I don’t blame you, there.
                  And, the question is completely up to you. Have a conversation. No one else will hear it besides you and God.


              1. That’s an interesting one ….. but saying, “I do know” (apart from maybe the 2+2=4 stuff) is always fraught with danger. I come from an era when people actually believed in eternal damnation and burning in hell and all sorts of horrific penalties in the hereafter which were pushed by the church with the deliberate intention of terrifying children – and presented as ‘fact’. So I’m always a bit suspicious when people say they ‘know’ stuff that is empirically impossible to verify.


                1. As you should be. I think the scare factor is as bad as the magic factor with religions. We need to encourage more knowledge and examination and less ignorant acceptance.


      2. My one and only university degree was in Arts, but focussed primarily on art, philosophy, literature and religion. They all go together quite well actually, though, with the benefit of hindsight, I would be inclined to add sex to the curriculum in order to really round it out (we were left to conduct our own experiments in that regard).
        In terms of gaining employment, the degree proved to be more or less useless. But I did pass. And whilst ‘Religious Studies’ and ‘Theology’ are rather different matters, I point this out in order to confirm that we are both coming from the same direction, in a way.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. If it works in this weird and wonky world it works. It’s good that there is still room for doubt rather than blind faith, and, at the end of the day, if ones life is bettered by belief surely everyone wins?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Dawkins concept (conceit, perhaps, given his overall approach) of TAP – temporary agnostic in practice, best sums up where I got to. I’ve not seen, heard or experienced anything that points me to a deist or theist approach but rather like the long exchange above emphasized (on my reading), I’m equally unable to prove anything one way or the other. The ‘there isn’t a divine hand/creator behind this’ idea sits best with my sense of where I sit and the idea that I’m sentient and capable of both rational and irrational thought, reason logic and emotion and prejudice and bias and will end up as dust with nothing more than to be some atoms making up someone else or thing causes me not a moments concern or pause. Why not? There’s a lot more that’s bonkers about the world than that, at least to me. I don’t need to be able to answer why am I here and come up with anything beyond ‘dumb luck’ and more than why is the earth capable of sustaining life is anything ore than a large bit of dumb luck.
    And on teaching children religion, I’ve no issue so long as it’s all religions and none. These are philosophies, whether faith based or not. The majority of Our schools teach across the range, usually in the aged 11 and above in any detail. We do have faith based schools, and I’m deeply uncertain of how appropriate they are.
    There, I was meaning to witter on. I love reading about your journey; everyone has one and everyone has a different story.
    And I would take issue with the comment that atheists = cynics/smug so and sos. As the graffiti I saw had it at University ‘all generalizations are bad’. Atheists are of every hue, much like all people of religion…
    Bon voyage, Chel. May you encounter only benign waves…

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