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An Atheist No More

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By Roxanne Andrews, a retired Chemist from Colorado

I was raised in a secular household. All holidays were celebrated without religious connotations—Santa and the Easter Bunny, not the birth and death of Christ, Thanksgiving with food, but without the prayer of Thanks. It was not because my parents did not believe in God, it was because they were uncomfortable talking about concepts that they had not examined. I doubt that they had given themselves permission to question the dogmas of mainstream Christianity as presented in the Old Testament and had ceased inquiring about spiritual matters before getting into the "good stuff" of the New Testament. After living through the depression and the horrors of the Second World War, I am sure that the concept of a Loving Father was hard for them to imagine. In addition, after the deaths of two much loved and wanted children, God became unfathomable and unlovable. God was cruel, wrathful, vengeful and totally illogical, but then, they did not have access to The Urantia Book to give them an expanded view of Universe Realities, nor the expanded teachings of Jesus for comfort and guidance.

At the age of thirteen, due no doubt to the leading of the spirit of God within me, I became very curious about religion. Since my friends were of all different Faiths, I began at the library, studying the different denominations of Christianity and found none that I could embrace wholeheartedly. I went on to study the non-Christian faiths, visited various churches, temples and Fellowships. From my search, I discovered that while each faith had some beliefs that "rang true" and felt noble, others felt repulsive. Then arose the question in my mind, that if all these doctrines and dogmas were touted as The Truth, and yet differed so much in many aspects, then maybe none were inspired and all were man-made. After pondering these dilemmas of Agnosticism for five years, I became uncomfortable sitting on "the picket fence of indecision" and jumped to the conclusion that maybe even their commonalities were man-made. Therefore, God also was just a figment of man's imagination! An Atheist was born, and no lightening bolts zapped me to persuade me otherwise.

All through college, I studied the sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, geology, anatomy, physiology, genetics, vertebrate and invertebrate paleontology, as well as all the anthropology classes available. At the time, I had no trouble at all constructing a philosophy of my own to explain the universe, evolution of plant and animal life, and the development of the human mind. The only thing that I could not explain was how the Original matter or energy that exists in the universe came into being. However, none of my religious associates could explain where God came from, so I figured that we were "even" philosophically. I was not at all bothered by the absence of an afterlife in my philosophy. The concept of hell with it's never-ending punishment was pointless, reincarnation made no sense, and as far as heaven was concerned, who would want to sit on a cloud and play a harp or be a flower in God's garden for eternity? Living a life according to the Golden Rule was sufficient unto itself and spending one's time learning from the vast storehouse of knowledge available and enjoying nature's bounties were all that was necessary for a joyous life. In addition, if one wanted more, there were many creative pursuits of music, art and invention to make life more challenging.

One day, many, many years later, I felt compelled to read the book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and I distinctly remember saying to myself, "If Heaven could be like that, it wouldn't be so bad—might even be enjoyable." Less than one month later, I was introduced to The Urantia Book. Of course, I was drawn into it kicking and screaming! My husband had become enthralled by this big, blue book and since I did not want to be married to a religious fanatic, I started reading in order to prove it false. I began with part III, since my education was so heavily weighted in the earth sciences and the evolutionary record. If this book is religious, it does have to be anti-evolution, right? Well, that was January 1974. Here it is 2001 and I have given up trying to get my husband to abandon the book, or myself, for that matter. We have been avidly studying the teachings of The Urantia Book for twenty-seven years, participating in study groups, going to conferences and retreats, and just quietly re-reading the papers at home.

I have to laugh at myself when I stop to think at how my philosophy and my entire life have changed! Actually, my eternity has changed. I read the book the first time through with all my skeptical sensors turned on full blast, and although I did not always understand the more difficult parts, nothing felt phony or false, harmful or detrimental. I am always amazed at how the puzzle pieces of life so neatly fit together, and how all the gaps in my knowledge are eventually filled. The universe is cohesive beyond my wildest dreams and the beauty and complexity of its design and over care make me wonder how I could have ever NOT believed in God. To go from thinking that Jesus was the biggest fraud ever to walk the planet to being totally awed by his matchless gifts makes me thankful beyond words. Reading the Jesus Papers from The Urantia Book gives me the spiritual joy and inspiration to live my life with Truth, Beauty, Goodness and unbounded love. Thank you Heavenly Father, for Christ Michael and The Urantia Book… and for changing my life.