Tonight on my way home from work I listened to Fresh Air on the radio. Tonight's guests were a father and son who both have recently written books. The son's book is called Tweak- Growing Up on Methamphetamines and the father's is called Beautiful Boy. It was a pretty interesting conversation, but the part of the interview that was the most intriguing to me was when they were asked about the role of "God talk" in treatment programs. The son was talking about how hard it is to be an atheist in programs where, for instance, one of the fundamental ideas is "let g0-let God."
The father, also an atheist, said that early on at an Al-Anon meeting, someone told him that by the end of the process (does he mean the al-anon process, or his son's addiction?) he would believe in God.
Terry Gross asked him if that was true, and he said no. He never did come to believe in God.
But, he said, he did begin to believe in prayer.
Terry said something like "what's the point in praying when you don't believe you're praying TO someone?" This made him think- he said he wasn't really sure, but maybe he was chanting to himself "heal my son. Help my son" to keep his sanity. Maybe he was praying just in case there was someone out there listening.
I wonder if there's something deep within all of us that just has no choice but to acknowledge God's existence when we are at our most helpless points. Somehow, in spite of our logic and need for proof of things, at our core maybe there's something that reminds us to whom we belong.
Someone asked me recently what my "core belief" about God is. If I had to name it, I guess it's that I believe God is bigger than we are- bigger than we can even fathom. More forgiving, more powerful, more loving, more... big. When we come to the limit of what we believe possible, God can do more. I think we tend to put limits on God because we can't imagine that he's too loving to be fair, too forgiving to be punishing. And when we believe God is absent, He is still there present, if not in our hearts and minds, definitely in our souls. Maybe that's what drives the unbeliever to pray to someone whom they "know" does not exist.