Is anyone truly atheistic? Is everyone truly atheistic? Although seemingly opposing extremes, these two questions share a common denominator: fear. As a small child I would always make up some story to tell my mother when she came into my room in the middle of the night to comfort me and asked why I was crying. I never was able to tell her it was another Biblical nightmare. I wonder how she would have handled the truth. Ours was the most devout family around; yet, as nightmares go, even the holiest Christians (as we were) being thrown to the lions to be ripped to shreds was not the worst. the most frequent, and terrifying story was of God telling Abraham to take his beloved son, Isaac, up the mountain and behead him.

The “moral” of the story is that if a voice identifying itself as God demands even so atrocious an act, we all are obliged to do it to prove our love for Him. Sounds a bit too familiar in today’s world, doesn’t it? I knew my dad was every bit as holy as Abraham, and he kept his axe very sharp for chopping wood and killing chickens. Would I flop around like a chicken? I was very cautious.

I tried to be atheist at that young age, but being required to attend church every day and twice on Sundays provided insurmountable heaping helpings of guilt for thinking such thoughts. Many years later, as soon as I could leave home, I silently declared myself an atheist, became a hypnotherapist, and began dredging my subconscious mind, chipping away at the iceberg that lay beneath the surface. By about fourth grade, simple, common-sense, yet nagging self-questioning, such as “If God is all-knowing, why would he create souls knowing they were doomed to hell?” left me in constant inner turmoil. I think I could have been a happy little atheist; I certainly had no desire to spend eternity with such a hateful Creator, but eight more years of enforced angst, all silently repressed by necessity, would follow.

After several years as a self-respecting atheist, a funny thing happened that helped put the whole picture in focus. In 1983 my wife, Lainie, and I attended John Pielmeir’s play, Agnes Of God, on Broadway at the Music Box Theater. It was then starring Diahann Carroll, Geraldine Page and Carrie Fisher. The play was adapted for a movie in 1985-a major disappointment because it completely omitted the most powerful theatrical scene I’ve ever witnessed. In the stage play, the hard-nosed court psychiatrist (Carroll) grills Sister Agnes, (Fisher) a young and ignorant novice, about the murder of the baby to whom she had given birth, and the Mother Superior, (Page) who hopes to minimize the scandal. For most of the play the intense interrogation produced answers from Sister Agnes in la-la-land, punctuated by demurely professing her love for God, ad nauseam until she suddenly burst loose screaming “I hate God; I hate God!” over and over, uncontrollably. This scene, without which the play would have been to me, as the movie was, totally pointless, instantly showed me the basis for answering every question which had tortured me consciously for all my younger life, and, having been suppressed, continued taking its toll from the deeper level.

Is anyone an atheist? No-not on the plane to which the question most commonly refers. Using NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) in a form of unsuspected “awake” hypnosis, I’ve been able to glean more than ample proof in conversations using leading questions which produced spontaneous, unguarded responses, that it is far easier and inestimably gentler, safer to the human psyche to simply deny the existence of the sick “God” virtually all of us have been taught (and, incredulously, told that we must love, or else He will destroy us) and invite the wrath of “His terrible swift sword.”

A classic example: I was doing a small concert of fun/spiritual music and struck up a conversation with a woman there. She mentioned her husband and I asked why he hadn’t come with her. She replied “Oh, my husband is an atheist.” That gave me the opening to share my “no-atheist” theory with her, which she found interesting, but insisted that could not apply to her husband, who was a third-generation Jewish atheist, and never had any God influence in his life. My thought was that one could not even walk walk down the street and escape God influence, but I let the topic lie.

We continued our conversation, and it turned out that, three weeks earlier, she and friends were in Rev. Willard Fuller’s audience where many, including myself, experienced dental “miracles” Mine was having a dental bridge turn to gold (I later verified with the dentist who installed it that it was not gold originally). One of her friends also was a recipient of this alchemic phenomenon, but was not at all happy about it, as the gold manifested in the front of her mouth and gleamed embarrassingly when she smiled. I asked her what had been the reaction of her third-generation-Jewish atheist husband. She laughed and told me he had said “See? I told you God is a jerk!” Of course I was right on that, reminding her that my theory proved true with her husband as well.

This brings us to the final question: “Is everyone atheist?’ On a higher plane, it’s safe to say that probably everyone you’ve ever known is atheist. There is no pure altruism in this world, but, let us try to just imagine it, and how it would look. First, nothing lives in this world unless something else dies. Every breath we take kills millions of micro-organisms, so forget about the body and the physical world. Yet, if we can grasp and equate altruism with totally abstract happiness beyond imagination, and, of course, necessarily beyond the physical, then why would we not be ecstatic with the concept that this Altruistic Thought is God, and really, the only possibility of a God? Well then, what becomes of everyone’s individuality in such a concept? Along with individuality there is pain, and how could this Altruistic God make allowances for pain? Conversely, our ego-driven need for individuality makes no room for God, because, obviously, there could be no co-existence.

And there we have the choice everyone makes: belief in/denial of (same coin/opposite sides) the monster Biblical “God” who makes suffering individuals of us. Because, with the alternative, all individuality must disappear forever and meld into the one abstract, genderless, “peace that passeth understanding” that is the only possibility of a God at all, virtually all of us cling to this illusion of individually, pain and all, and remain atheistic.

This article also appears at EzineArticles