I've had a few readings this week with professed atheists. In my experience, atheists are very bright people who have a difficult time rationalizing the unrationable. They want definable proof, but that's not the way God works. Imagine if Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed came dancing down to Earth holding hands. What would happen? If you could really see Jesus, touch his wounds, talk philosophy with Buddha and discuss the crisis in the Middle East with Mohammed, what would happen? You'd believe. But why? God doesn't want us to believe this way -- out of knowledge, knowing and sometimes even fear. God wants us to believe out of experience, faith and an inner desire to surrender to the mystery of all that is.
Some atheists have had a trauma or two in their life to deal with and, when their prayers went unanswered, decided the whole thing was silly and gave up. I think it's like this:
Pretend there's a party you really want to get invited to. You look for your invitation every day. You plan in your head what you're going to wear. You're consumed with excitement about this party. And then, you're not invited.
What do you do? You put down the party. "It was a stupid party. I didn't want to go anyway. Those people are so shallow anyway." And on and on.
I think this is what happens to some atheists. Life is the party and often we can feel uninvited.
All prayers are answered. All prayers.
Sometimes the answer is no.
If you get a bunch of no's in a row, is it any wonder some people turn away from their faith?
In my experience, atheists are often very nice people who want to believe. They just want proof. And that is one thing they'll never get. Faith isn't about proof; it's about belief.
I always say extra prayers for atheists, especially when they cross. In the beginning, after we die, we see what we think we'll see. So if you're a traditional believer and you think you'll see pearly gates, St. Peter and streets lined with gold, then that's what you'll see. If you think you'll see a meadow with flowers and your angels, then that's what you'll see. And once you get acclimated to what's happened to you, then your guides take you to the real other side.
But, if you think that when you die, you'll see nothing, then that's what you'll see. For a long time.
That's why I think it's important for us to pray for atheists that they will see the light -- now and always.