I believe that sometimes I actually “talk” with God, not just “at” God.*
I believe that I have heard his “voice” in my head.
–I’ve heard his voice speaking in something like words, and usually quite more than words, in my meditations, at sunsets, at the birth of my children, in the dark of night, in my head as I try to express myself through the keyboard, through books and deep thoughts, and yes, even in worship.
When an atheist sees the sunset or experiences the dark night, who are they talking to? Or is there silence?
Do they hear any voice but their own speaking back to them?
I’ve asked this question to some of my atheist friends. It makes some of them uncomfortable. A few retort, “How do you know the voice in your head is God’s and not your own?” Legitimate question.
One friend says he hears the voices of philosophers he’s read, and poetry he remembers. I like that answer because that happens to me too.
Some atheists are enviably spiritual in ways some of my Christian friends are not. Most Buddhists, for example, don’t believe in God, but in a connectedness (or contentment) with something akin to a spirit. They speak to their own voice -trying to quiet its desires. Jesus would appreciate that.
Some atheists, like some Christians, like to ponder deep questions. And when they do, they don’t like it when I say, “maybe that’s God talking to you.” I don’t understand how they can find more comfort in the idea that all they have inside to talk to is themselves. (I for one, don’t entirely trust myself, and so hope that God is indeed providing a second opinion!)
Some atheists like to point to the hypocrisy of believers as evidence of the falsehood of those beliefs. But that’s like shooting fish in the barrel. Unfortunately, hypocrisy not confined to the religious. It’s a flaw in our species. If any of the great moral philosophies or religious beliefs were humbly, compassionately, and consistently practiced without a mention of God’s name, I think God would be very pleased and the world would be a better place.
Who’s “wishful thinking” would you rather believe?
-The idea that we’re ultimately alone, and talking to ourselves?
-Or the idea that you’re a loved child of the One who brought the universe into being?
Which one has the greater potential to self-less love and a meaningful life?
Someone once said, “An atheist is someone who stands on their own two feet. A believer is someone who lives on their knees.” To some, it may look like weakness or wishful thinking, …but I think the hearing is better down here.
* re: Talking “at” God.
Modern worship and prayer is full of talking “at” God, instead of listening and contemplating. Churches and preachers are overly verbal. Listening is more important that talking (God already knows what you’re going to say anyway). Listen to your life. Listen to your mistakes and opportunities. Listen to what people are saying and feeling around you. Listen to your feelings of connectedness vs disconnect, sense of meaning vs wandering, sense of purpose vs sense of selfishness. God is often the contrary opinion, -the Holy Cajoler. God often speaks without words. God often speaks through simple moments of joy and insight.