“Do I believe in God?” I ask myself this question several times a week– sometimes several times a day. It can be easy to forget the answer, when I’m caught in the moment in the atmosphere of Christianity. Like when I’m at all-school communion. Or when I’m reading a particularly well-written work of C.S. Lewis’ (currently reading The Four Loves). Or even sometimes when I read the bible (which I don’t do often, but sometimes it can’t be avoided). But the easiest way to forget the answer is by assuming you already know what it is.
For me, the question of which ideology or worldview I “follow” is something that I choose every day. I don’t want to get so caught up in being an atheist that I forget whether or not I am an atheist. I’m not committed to atheism, I’m committed to following what I think is the truth. I’m constantly re-evaluating the truth, and I’m constantly choosing atheism.
On the other hand, I saw Christianity as more of a commitment than a choice. Commitment is also something you can renew every day, but the actual question of “do I believe in God?” or “do I want to follow Christ?” was something I only asked myself occasionally. When I did ask myself that question, and answered in the affirmative, I made a commitment to live by it. For example, my decision to attend Wheaton was a result of a commitment to Christ. It was the first time in my life when I asked myself, “is Christianity really something that I want to follow for the rest of my life?” It was the first time I considered Christianity in the long-term, as more than something that I adopted from others or something that I was just trying on for size. I decided then that the answer was yes, I decided to take responsibility for my life as a Christian, I made a commitment to follow Christ for the rest of my life, and I decided to come to a Christian college to learn to better understand and carry out that commitment. That was not the last time I chose Christ before my answer started to change, but that’s ancient history.
The whole structure of Christianity, of being a Christian, demands commitment. I don’t see it being any other way. There is nothing about atheism that should demand commitment, and I would be very uncomfortable if it did. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with commitment. I think the worst possible thing is having neither commitment nor belief, but following something anyway.
I’ve been calling myself an atheist for over six months. During those six months, I’ve asked myself almost every day whether I believe in God– and really thought about the answer. I’m an atheist today, and I will probably be an atheist tomorrow. But I’ll probably ask myself again tomorrow, just to make sure.