A-theism is about the absence of—the lack of belief in—god. I’ve learned this much in three weeks (I’m a quick study, right?).
There is a distinction that I’ve heard expressed, and that I’ve repeatedly violated, between saying “atheists believe there is no god,” and saying, “atheists don’t believe in a god.” The former is based in a level of certainty that, by definition, atheists most often find troubling. Even Richard Dawkins famously said he can’t be sure that god does not exist.
What I discovered, especially over the past 5 years or so, is that there is a void staring me in the face, pulling me in. I am standing in a familiar, comfortable and comforting, well-lit room. On one wall is a door, standing open. It’s always been there—and always open—but the room I’m in is so much more inviting, so much more appealing. At least until recently. There are familiar people, familiar smells and sounds. But that door is always there. It’s unclear what is on the other side of the door. It is perfectly dark on the other side. The light in the room I’m in so completely illuminates the room that it only makes the blackness on the other side of the door more mystifying. In recently years the well-lit room has grown cold and limiting. The people are still lovely but many of them are content to have conversations that seem somehow trivial. The door has become more intriguing. What is in there? I’ve also felt an invitation from whatever is on the other side of the door and it beckons me toward it. In the past year I have stood in front of this door, the din of the room I’m in has faded into background noise and I’ve begun to see a faint light and hear the sounds of conversation beyond the doorframe.