The writer of the atheist blog, Whispersessions wrote a long time ago,
"It’s imperative to understand that not all atheists are advocates of reason. We are all born atheists, therefore it is our default state. Many atheists don’t believe in a god because they simply never gave it a thought. They could very well be dishonest, angry people who have no moral code whatsoever. Some are atheists out of rebellion to their family. They may have never given a thought to philosophy or science, let alone ethics and morality. Some are atheists simply because they despise religion. Their “lack of belief” is actually a vicious anti-belief, and when asked about what they do believe, they’ll generally have nothing more to say than how badly they hate someone else’s beliefs. They will tell you that religion is wrong, but they’ll have nothing to say about what is right. They’ll say theism is false, but they will have nothing to say about what is true. To be sure, many atheists’ atheism rests upon nothing at all. They are not advocates of reason. They are advocates of nothing. They are atheist, non-rational, amoral, and anti-reason all at the same time."
Atheists would love to believe that they became “that way” or that they chose that world-view because of logic and reason. I’m sure that for a few, that is indeed what happened. They use logic and reason to uphold their decision to deny the existence of God. However, for those who were once “christians” (and I mean the small c), I think that for many they did not have a belief in God. Instead, they had a belief in a belief regarding God. Most likely they got this belief from their parents; parent who brooked very little latitude in how God operated in the world. What was missing was a belief in God that came about because of an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with God.
Then, God acted in a manner for which their belief did not allow. The rape of a child. The death of their dad. A failed relationship. Questions were raised. Doubts expressed. “How could this be?” was quickly met with anger and stern looks. THAT was not a safe direction to go. What could have and should have been a huge turning toward an exponential increase in strength and character from God Himself, it resulted instead in a turning away from Creator God. So now, in the aftermath of the difficulty, rather than admit that maybe s/he didn’t have God completely figured out, the former christian renounced not just h/her belief in h/her creedal god, s/he renounce h/her belief in God Himself.
Because of my own journey through life, I sometimes use the term, “blessed by tragedy.” I used it only because I and others who have walked through suffering with Jesus know that it is only in suffering that we have the potential to become the people we were meant to be.
If this raises questions, see my March post "Where is God when a little girl gets raped?"
Sadly, when a nominal christian has gone through tragedy, all that is revealed is his belief in his beliefs. God Himself is not revealed, certainly not in a way whereby the relationship becomes real. That is why mature Christians revolt against religious pretensions that pronounce that a loving God would never allow pain and suffering to enter into a good person’s life.
If tragedy, suffering and loss have shaken your creed, remember:
It wasn’t your belief in God that was mistaken
It was you beliefs about God that were mistaken
Because you were mistaken in your beliefs about God
You are mistaken in your conclusion that God doesn’t exist.
Many people are calling themselves atheists simply because they are rebelling against the presentation, an inaccurate presentation of God which was thrust upon them by ignorant and fearful adults. Atheists are absolutely correct when they say, “If to accept a presentation of God means the denial of things we know to be facts, then we are in a better position to say, “I will not accept an explanation of God which makes me call a fact not a fact.”
Sadly, many who call themselves atheists simply don’t understand that:
a) Not everything that we call a fact is a fact, and
b) Pain and suffering do not negate the fact of a loving God. The presence of pain and suffering are absolutely essential to our recognition of a loving God.