This isn’t atheism

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Some nonbelievers still find solace in prayer (Washington Post)

My friend Mark sent me this piece because he knew I’d find it interesting. Boy did I ever.

The caption on the photo above reads:

(Linda Davidson/ The Washington Post) – Atheist Sigfried Gold, his wife Galia Siegel, and children Beatrice Gold, 2, and Solomon Gold, 8, say a serenity prayer at dinner at home Tuesday in Takoma Park, Md. Gold launched a regular prayer schedule to comply with a 12-step program for food addiction.

And the story goes on to say . . .

Each morning and night, Sigfried Gold drops to his knees on the beige carpeting of his bedroom, lowers his forehead to the floor and prays to God.

An atheist, Gold took up prayer out of desperation. Overweight by 110 pounds and depressed, the 45-year-old software designer saw himself drifting from his wife and young son. He joined a 12-step program for food addiction that required — as many 12-step programs do — a recognition of God and prayer.

Four years later, Gold is trim, far happier in his relationships and free of a lifelong ennui. He credits a rigorous prayer routine — morning, night and before each meal — to a very vivid goddess he created with a name, a detailed appearance and a key feature for an atheist: She doesn’t exist.

While Gold doesn’t believe there is some supernatural being out there attending to his prayers, he calls his creation “God” and describes himself as having had a “conversion” that can be characterized only as a “miracle.” His life has been mysteriously transformed, he says, by the power of asking.

And then the story goes on to talk about all these atheists who pray.

It’s a fascinating piece . . . and I’m really happy for this guy Gold, who apparently has found a successful way to lose weight.

But he should stop calling himself an atheist.

If you want to believe in a big invisible man in the sky or a “vivid goddess” whom you’ve actually created with a name — fine with me. Knock yourself out. Whatever floats your boat.

Just don’t go calling yourself an atheist.

Among other things, it’s insulting. And more than a little condescending. It’s like calling yourself a Christian and telling everyone that you don’t believe in God and you don’t believe Jesus ever existed, but they should nonetheless consider you a Christian because you say you are. It belittles what true Christians believe.

Same as saying you pray every day and you’re an atheist. That’s baloney, which this guy Gold must know is fattening.

I welcome your thoughts.