THE BLOG
07/09/2014 10:11 am ET Updated Sep 08, 2014

Thank God for Atheists!

I believe people of faith need to imagine a world without God.

We then might take greater responsibility for our own lives and the circumstances of others, as well as life on this planet. Our consciences would not be alleviated by the notion that suffering or poverty is God's will. There would be no "acts of God" that can toss a baby through a window, drown a family, suffocate the elderly, or destroy a coastline. There would just be tornadoes, tsunamis, heat waves, and hurricanes.

We wouldn't wait for God to fix things, or save us, or take care of the world. We wouldn't exclude anyone from basic human rights because God demands purity or orthodoxy or a particular form of religion or worship. We wouldn't have those who do violence to themselves or others for the reward of various versions of an afterlife. We wouldn't have American politicians who insist on saying "God bless America" rather than "God bless the world."

Diseases, disabilities, and infirmities would not be blamed on God but on their true causes ascertained by science. Global warming and evolution would not be things of "belief" but challenges to human arrogance and pride. Sin would be viewed not as an offense against God but as an offense against ourselves, others, and the earth. Redemption would not be considered a supernatural event but a coming together of forgiveness, responsibility, mentoring, and community. Death would remind us of the unpostponable value of life.

Rather than prefer and await an invisible world, we might better value bodies, earth, the cosmos, and the moment.

So I am grateful for atheists and agnostics who remind me of my own "cloud of unknowing" when it comes to God's definitions, actions, and desires.

Yet I still believe in God.

Letting go of the concepts above prompts me to believe still more that all we say and do and all we fail to say or do matters.