Why I am an atheist – Steve

I went to a Catholic parochial school in St. Paul for six years, was an altar boy, could pretty competently read Latin, and casually accepted my Catholic faith. But I never believed in it, any of it. It all, even to a child, seemed to not…work. But I didn’t finally lose all semblance of any belief in a god until I worked for the prison system here in MN. I’m an RN, and have always chosen to work in the underbelly; treatment and detox centers, group homes for profoundly developmentally disabled adults who also had mental illness diagnoses, psychiatric units, hospice, and where I totally lost my faith, in a maximum security prison hospital unit.

Every day I addressed the health care needs of many offenders in the system, some not so bad, some inconceivably horrid, and dangerous, most stupid, lazy, and incompetent. But one offender, a sexual predator and murderer of children, totally destroyed any possible belief in a god. This man kidnapped a five year old girl from a church, and over the course of a day, forced upon her almost every filthy, violent, savage assault you can even imagine, and many you most probably can’t. But it wasn’t the rapes, or cigarette burns, or hair yanked out, or the beatings that killed her. It was his feces forced down her throat. Then he tossed her in a dumpster like some dead cat.

I usually never read the court transcripts from any of the men I took care of. I didn’t want to know, afraid I might be influenced to provide less than good health care. I wish I hadn’t looked up this piece of shit’s court record as well. But here’s what killed god for me. This little girl “loved Jesus” according to her mother. And god is supposedly all good, powerful, knowing etc. All I could think of was where is god? When this child went through every possible humiliation, forms of pain, terror, you add your own adjective here, where was god? Theodicy is always the fly in the ointment, Epicurus nailed it a long time ago, but the kindest thought you could take from this is that god is, as Twain put it, a malignant thug. No manner of convoluted magical thinking can excuse what happened to this little girl. If there is a god, even remotely like what most of us have been taught, he’s an enemy, beneath contempt, worthy of our hatred. If he exists, fuck him. But he doesn’t.

One last thing, to all those idiot whining pharmacists and other “health care professionals” who are troubled by Plan B birth control pills. I provided competent, professional care to the monster in prison. I changed his diaper, he was an old man by the time I knew him, after a quarter century in prison, gave him his medications, checked his blood glucose levels, in short, acted professionally. Professionals don’t get to pick and choose who they care for.

United States


  1. darwinharmless says

    Strong stuff, Steve. It will take me a while to get those images out of my head.
    Clifford Olson reliably reported that you could nail a boy’s head to a picnic table with a twelve inch spike, right through the brain, and he’d still be crying for his mother while you fucked him in the ass. Olson died last year. A friend commented that he’d be in hell. My response was that I’m glad hell doesn’t exist, because if it did then Olson would still have some kind of existence. I’m much happier knowing he simply doesn’t exist any more. I don’t need to see him punished. I’m just glad he’s fucking dead and fucking gone.
    For me, the existence of evil doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist. It only proves that if he does exist he’s no father figure. What makes me think he doesn’t exist is the complete lack of evidence that he does. And I’m much happier believing there is no God than believing in a malevolent maniac and a pit of fire.

  2. says

    Wow, Steve. Powerful, heart-wrenching stuff.


    I just want to say thank you for all that you and those in your field do on a regular basis.

  3. carolw says

    Wow. What a slap to the brain on a Sunday morning. Steve, you’re a stronger person than I. Your story is incredibly inspiring. An excellent exemple of being good without god. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. Michael says

    Thank you for your story.


    The last I had heard about Olson was one of his annoying attempts to get paroled. I’m…pleased – I guess is an appropriate term – to hear that he died. The families of his victims got a little closure, and those of us who lived through the events will not have to be reminded of his name in the news again.

  5. matriculous says

    Thanks for this, Steve.
    I agree with darwinharmless … I find plenty of reasons not to believe due to the absolute lack of evidence (myself being a former christian) … this simply points to a complete absence of a caring and/or ultra powerful deity.
    I too applaud you for being professional when it was difficult.
    I am sometimes entertained by the extent to which christians attempt to explain “God’s greater plan” in the context of something horrible. Unfortunately, I’m sure someone has attempted to come up with such an excuse here. And regardless of this girl’s faith … there is no excuse. Men are capable of evil, sometimes unbelievable evil, and that is all there is to it.

  6. Azuma Hazuki says

    And of course, the Calvinist whackos like Heddle and Pilty (yes, he is a Calvinist, just with a papist overlay) would say that this was planned by their God and therefore, while our puny human minds and hearts may be revolted, there is a Good Reason (TM) for this and in the end it is All For The Glory Of God (C).


    The single, sole point they have is that evil does not disprove the existence of a higher power, just a benevolent one. Fine, you fucking Cthulhu cultists, believe it if you want. I hope the same happens to you someday.

  7. Rike says

    If I would have had any doubts about being an atheist, this would convince me.