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Opinion Relays Edition

Voices of religion: Atheism

Bellis is a junior English major and can be contacted at amanda.bellis@drake.edu

In reality, I’m probably better described as an agnostic. I have no absolute knowledge or beliefs regarding a higher power, but I would like to believe that there is something out there. I like to think everything isn’t random, and there is a being to which everything makes sense.

As far as most people know, however, I’m an atheist, and that’s the result of a few experiences at Drake. I know of plenty of people who define themselves by their religions, but there are just as many people who define themselves in other ways. I am one of them.

Although the topic doesn’t come up often, I become uncomfortable whenever the question of religion is asked because I never know how people will react to me. I never like the conversation that happens after I explain my true beliefs to someone.

A lot of the reasons why I call myself an atheist stems from these conversations. I have explained to people that I would like to believe in a god of some sort, but I have too many qualms with organized religions and too many doubts based on the state of the world to have any beliefs set in stone.

The people I’m talking to always follow this explanation with a persuasive speech. They tell me how different their particular church or religion is, how accepting of everyone it is and how I should come with them to a meeting or bible study sometime to see what it’s like. Though it’s never said, it’s always implied that I should discover how great that church is and convert right then.

This places me in an awkward position, because I don’t want to join them, and I’m always quite certain that their church is the same as any other. I never really know how to tell someone that I’m just not interested, without hurting their feelings, or losing whatever friendship we had in a non-religious setting.

After a while, I stopped trying to explain my complicated view to people. I have found it’s easier to tell everyone I’m an atheist. I’ve noticed that people are far less likely to try to convert someone who strictly doesn’t believe in a higher power than they are to convert someone whose beliefs seem to be up in the air.


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  1. Kieran April 24, 2011

    I’ll respectfully disagree with you on one point – I don’t “like to think” that there’s a higher power out there. If there is, he’s either impotent, unable to prevent suffering (which might cause us to rethink the “higher power” description) or callous, unwilling to prevent it. Certainly, if there’s a higher power that in any way resembles the monstrous god of the bible, I’m more than happy to align myself with the honourable opposition.

  2. Egbert April 24, 2011

    May I suggest The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins? It is a rational view of atheism, from a scientist. If you enjoy something a bit more literary and heartfelt, then God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens is also a valuable read.

  3. Gordon Hide April 25, 2011


    I guess your position is difficult to define. “I would like to believe that there is something out there” says that you don’t actually believe there is something out there. So I guess, technically, you are an atheist. This does not prevent you also being agnostic. Uncertainty is a good if uncomfortable state.

    There are a fair number of atheists who seek meaning in existence which is where I think you might be coming from. Be careful. Those who fail to find such meaning are sometimes affected by depression and a descent into nihilism. A larger number of atheists have accepted they have to give their own lives meaning by their actions. Interestingly there are atheists who don’t feel the need for purpose or meaning so it takes all sorts.

    I was interested to read your story and I wish you good luck.

  4. Walter April 25, 2011


    The first thing I ask people when they want me to believe in their god is whether or not their god is both all powerful and all knowing. If they say their god is both (and most of them do,) I tell them their god is a monster.

    If a god is all knowing. He is watching little Sally get raped by her father. If he is all powerful, he is capable of stopping it from happening. Any moral being who witnessed something that horrible, and was able to stop it, WOULD stop it. Because their god does not stop that kind of evil, their god is a monster.

    And I don’t believe in monsters either.

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