The problem with being an atheist

The problem with being an atheist

is the lack

of imagination.

no one to talk with

when we were first begun

to share the pain

of dying

the joy of living

to delight in our first words

our singing notes

our pictures on the walls.


The problem with being an atheist

is the lack of gratitude

having no one to thank for being here

nothing to join hands with

and dance the dance of life.


The problem of being an atheist

is the lack

of creation

the determination

that we shall be

that we art that

that we are formed

with intention,

with a smile

a deliberation

that you are you

and no one else.


The problem with being an atheist

is the lack  of possibilities

a world to come into being

a kingdom to be worked for

blood and sweated for

any hope of future travels

curtailed with science.


The problem with being an atheist

is the lack  of mystery

why the Boudhi tree and not a palace garden,

why the woman at the well

and not a real estate agent in Vaucluse

why the air becomes the Holy Spirit

and causes us to shake a little

to grin a little

to write in the dust

and find songlines in the earth.


the problem with being an atheist

is the lack …


© Jorie Ryan.  This poem was first published in Eureka Street in 2011.

Jorie Ryan is an Anglican minister in Australia.

Topics: Atheism and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 5: Non-Dogmatic Searchers. Seasons & Special Events: Ordinary Time. Resource Types: Poetry and Readings.

Review & Commentary

  • George

    It’s a sweet poem, but not true. It’s taken me over 60 years to get my head around being an atheist, and I don’t feel I’ve lost anything, but gained a better understanding of the universe. I can also appreciate the Christian mythology for what it is, and have just as much appreciation for the wonderful stories of the bible as I do for the myths of the greeks and nordics (Die Valkure on the radio now). I am still awestruck at the natural world and the diversity of life, but no longer feel I have to credit some magical being for its creation. I celebrate the beginning and end of life with my friends and family, and make the most of each day. I don’t have to pretend to be building up “Brownie Points” in heaven to do good to others, but am satisfied in the comfort it gives me to be compassionate and caring for those less fortunate then myself.