One of the things I enjoy most in life is debating with atheists. There are many more atheists around these days than when I was a young man. Or, perhaps, after the public announcements of Richard Dawkins and that masterful theologian Ricky Gervais, people are just more confident about publicly stating their atheist beliefs (or should I say non-beliefs).
There’s a story I relate to younger parishioners who have a tough time in building any kind of faith. It is easier for the young to be faithless than those approaching the end.
This Sunday I wish you all, Dear Readers, well. I hope you have a peaceful and wonderful day. God bless you and your loved ones this day.
This is the story I tell them. It is worth some pause for thought:
A man was walking through the woods enjoying nature. By his own statement, he was a “devout atheist.” So, as he walked through woods, he could hear the stream gurgling, the birds singing, the wind whispering through the trees. “All of this” he thought, “is perfectly explainable by science.” Suddenly a large brown bear appeared in front of him. The bear looked him over and started to charge. The man knew he had had it. This was surely the end. A few feet from him, the bear leapt into the air, claws out, teeth ready to devour the man. The man cried out, “O God! Save me!” As soon as he said it, the stream stopped running, the birds became silent and the wind stopped. The bear was suddenly suspended in mid-air – claws still held out and jaws wide open. The heavens opened and a voice came from beyond the clouds, “So now you choose to believe in me?” The man said, “Lord, I was wrong all this time. Please save me by turning this bear into a Christian.” God, always ready to forgive, said, “So be it.” After God had proclaimed this, the stream began to run, the birds returned to singing and the wind moved once more. The bear landed in front of the man by just one or two feet. The bear was kneeling, paws held together in thoughtful prayer. The bear said, “In the name of Jesus, please bless this food that I am about to partake…”