Can an atheist believe in God?

On first glance, or probably at lot of them, the definition of an atheist seems to imply that the answer to this question is a firm “No” or “Of course not.” Because, as I read recently at the beginning of the Wikipedia article on atheism:

Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.”

While I agree with this definition, and do not believe in deities, I have nevertheless found myself struggling at times to avoid using the word “God” when expressing some powerful sentiments. Such as…

  • “God bless them” when expressing recognition of when someone I disagree with is trying to do good.
  • “God help us” when expressing hope that the group I am a member of can find a way out of a dilemma.
  • “Looking to God can provide helpful guidance.”

Whoa! Did I just say that? And still call myself an atheist? Or am I just advocating that people who can’t handle “reality” need to fool themselves into believing in a deity in order to benefit from a seemingly fraudulent practice? Because God doesn’t exist, right? Not so. And here’s why.

Atheism rejects belief in deities, which are metaphysical gods, which I do not believe exist. But what I have come to realize from all that I know and understand about nature, including my human abilities and limitations, is that I DO believe in a metapersonal god. And by ‘meta’, I am referring to ‘beyond’. Meaning “beyond the personal.” Beyond me.

Why do I say this? Quite frankly, because at many times in my life, when faced with things that seemed beyond my ability to cope or handle, I realized that I needed to look beyond what I thought was ‘right’, or even ‘good’, in order to live my life with greater effectiveness and purpose. Both individually, and with others. And from that experiential learning, I realized that I DO believe in God. A metapersonal one.

Furthermore, as an atheist, I am now completely comfortable with this notion and this usage of the “God” for me. And I truly thank God for that.

The Tightwire Guy


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