I can’t remember a time when I was interested in the debate about the existence of God. I was first exposed to what was commonly called ‘apologetics’ which typically took the form of debates or ‘reasoned’ arguments regarding the existence of God. I suppose I found some of the conversations interesting but lacked any traction for how I experienced life. Later I resonated with Dostoevsky’s fictional account in The Idiot of an encounter with an atheist saying “it was as if that was not at all what he was talking about all the while, and it struck me precisely because before, too . . . however many books I’ve read on the subject, it has always seemed to me that they were talking or writing books that were not all about that, though it looked as if it was about that.”
I sensed that in these debates and declarations people were more interested in defending Reason or attacking an enemy then considering the mess of the biblical tradition and the way we experience faith and life. In the last few years I have begun to more fully articulate what I only sensed years ago. And this last January we spent three Sundays in Adult Education to reflect on our experience and understanding of atheism. What follows is a summary of the first session I shared.