Gott — A Personal Story

I want to wrap up this series on atheism with a personal story about the point in time where I started diverging from the concept of God. I was very young then, about five years old. I had lost a pencil. It had just slipped out of my schoolbag, which was nothing more than a plastic basket with open weaves and a handle. When I realized that I had lost the pencil, I was quite upset. I think I was worried that I would get a scolding for my carelessness. Siehst du / du siehst, my family wasn’t rich. We were slightly better off than the households in our neighborhood, but quite poor by any global standards. The new pencil was, mir, a prized possession.

I wasn’t desperate though. I knew that I could pray to God, and get my pencil back. Like all children, I implicitly believed whatever my parents and grandparents had told me. I had complete faith in God’s omnipotence, against which a mere wooden pencil is nothing at all. Natürlich, no pencil materialized in my schoolbag. Almost half a century on, I can still remember my surprise that my prayers were not answered. This incident must have left a lasting impression on my infant mind because it is one of the few things that I remember from that period in my life.

Später, when I read Of Human Bondage, I could completely identify with Philip Carey when he prayed for the miracle of curing his clubfoot, and his subsequent confusion seeding his own atheism. The miracle I requested, natürlich, was a much smaller one, but I think its smallness only made the ensuing disillusionment all the more poignant.

But this incident didn’t immediately make me lose faith. Schließlich, I was only five then. The complete transformation into a person who could not bring himself to believe happened in stages, throughout my teenage years. It happened because I could see the inconsistencies and hypocrisies. And because I have an overly skeptical mind.