I hope I am allowed to say things like this on Think Atheist.
I feel like whenever I humbly ask God for a sign, or to help me with something, he answers. I don’t know what to believe, because the things I ask for are usually simple, and could be explained by coincidence easily. But it keeps happening, and this is what I was trained to recognize as God at work.
Today I sat down to eat pancakes and watch this atheist video about one hour after going for a run. When I started eating, I found the pancake was really ‘thick’ and sticky. Also my stomach felt sick for some reason. I left the table because I felt like I was going to throw up.
A minute or so later, I felt a little better so I came back and tried to eat again. I started the video, but only a few bites in and I felt like puking, so I stopped again. I told God if he was trying to get my attention, he had it. If I read my bible and it cured my stomach, I would stop watching the atheist video.
So I read my Bible for less than five minutes. Then I sat back down and put on an audio Bible to listen to while I ate. And this time my stomach was fine. I didn’t really want it to be. I wanted to get sick again, to prove that this was something physical and not spiritual. But I finished my pancakes and the rest of my food and felt perfectly fine.
And that’s certainly not “proof” that God is real. It could be my stomach was still weak from running, since I rarely ever run and when I do it’s hard on me. It could be that all I needed was a little more time. After all, I was taking it easy and drinking water to try to make myself feel better, as well. But it seems interesting to me that the incidents happened so quickly. Less than five minutes after I felt sick, I suddenly felt fine when I was hearing the bible instead of Steve Shives.
This happened to me last week, I was trying to watch the same video in bed, but I really needed cough drops. I searched all over my apartment for my cough drops. I gave up, then went back and looked again. I probably looked three times. Finally I said, God, if you help me find these cough drops now, I’ll turn off the video and read the bible instead. I said, it better be soon, God, because I’m going to keep looking, and I’ll eventually find them on my own and I won’t give you the credit for that. But just as I was saying “It better be soon,” I found them.
And of course that doesn’t prove anything either. I was just praying for something that was likely to happen anyway.
Months ago (I remember because I wrote in my spiritual journal) I was asking God for a sign. I wanted him to speak to me, and I said he could do it by putting a specific message for me in a daily devotional. If he wanted me to come back to him, he should tell me to pray.
Well, I went and looked at the devotional for that day, and it said that if you are having trouble in your life, you should try praying, even if it’s just five minutes a day. I thought that was kind of striking, but of course prayer is a common topic for a devotional. So I started looking at the other days in the devotional. I went back one month and forward one month. There was one day that sort of talked about prayer, but nothing that specifically told you to start praying, like I’d asked for. I prayed for a message on the one day that entire month (or two months, I can’t remember) when that prayer could be answered, and I didn’t know that beforehand.
Other things like that have happened. I prayed that God would give me a sign by making me find some money under a certain pile of shirts. I’m messy enough that it would have been possible but unlikely. Instead, I found my credit card statement, which shows how much money I have spent—as if God is teasing me.
Simple random coincidences like this happen often to me. I know very well that it could be my own mind seeing patterns when there are none. It’s called selective memory: You just remember all the times it works, and ignore the times it doesn’t, and then you think you’ve got good evidence that it’s working.
If you pray for things that would likely happen anyway, of course that doesn’t prove anything. And I can’t say that I find things faster when I pray, because I have no control group. It’s not like I can find something by praying, and then find it again without praying, and see which one goes fastest.
But it just really feels like, sometimes, in these small things, prayer does work. It feels like God is gently trying to get my attention and draw me back, out of this atheist mindset. I just keep trying to seek what is true, but it is hard. And it’s hard to be confident in my atheism when I keep seeing things like this. But I can’t be a confident Christian either, because I have too many objections to the faith.