How an atheist found God

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    Mar 20, 2010 7:28 PM GMT
    How an Atheist Found God


    by Marilyn Adamson

    Evidently you can disturb a lot of religious people by asking, "How do you know God exists?"

    Perhaps they were wondering about my motives. Or maybe they simply had no idea how to answer. But, most of their responses were, "Well, you just know."

    I wasn't trying to be difficult. But I certainly did not "just know." And I was hoping someone did!

    After many months of this, I thought, "Here are the people who say they believe in God, but no one knows why!" I felt much like I did when I learned the truth about Santa Claus. It seemed obvious that God was completely fabricated. Maybe some people needed to believe in God. But clearly there was no proof. No objective evidence. I came to the most stark conclusion...God did not actually exist.

    I held this belief for years, not expecting it to ever change. But then I met someone who caused me to become interested in the possibility of God. She was caring, kind, and very intelligent. It bothered that someone that intelligent could believe in God.

    She talked about God like he was her dearest friend who deeply loved her. I knew her life well. Any concern she would take to God, as if trusting him to work out a way or care for her in some way. She would tell me, quite candidly, that she was merely praying that God would act upon her concerns. Every week I saw what seemed to be answers to her prayers. For more than a year. I watched her life through a myriad of circumstances. She was convinced that God did exist.

    So, I wanted to believe in God on one hand, because I admired her life and her love for others. But I couldn't believe in something against my intellect, against my better judgment. God did not exist. A nice idea, but that was all. Wanting something to be true, doesn't make it true.

    During this time I was developing (what I thought was) a very personally-built philosophy. Later I identified it as existentialism, pretty thoroughly.

    However I did try something with these philosophies that I'm not sure many people do. Every few weeks, I would study a particular philosopher's take on life, and then try to apply it...Nietzsche, Hume, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Plato, etc. I was looking for the perfect, workable philosophy for life. I found over and over, that either their philosophies seemed lacking, or were too impractical to actually implement. But I kept searching.

    During this time, I was challenging my friend with every question that came to mind about God. I would find myself writing out questions late in the evening. This went on for well over a year. One day she handed me a book that briefly answered questions like, is there a God; is Jesus God; what about the Bible. It presented facts. No comments like, "you have to believe."

    The book delivered some evidence for God that was logical. I'm not normally drawn toward science. However, the parts particularly convincing to me were the chemical properties of water, and the earth's position to the sun. It was all too perfectly designed, too perfectly put together. And my faith in "nothing behind it all" seemed weaker than the possibility of God. I had fewer reasons to be certain of nothing, and more reasons to conclude that God might be there.

    I then encountered a situation that fully challenged my well-constructed philosophy on life. What I had been putting my faith in proved to be completely insufficient. It shocked me to see that I was at a loss for an approach to life that was fully reliable. However, the situation resolved itself. And I moved ahead. I have a pretty steady personality. Throughout my life, I never really felt "needy." No on-going crisis. No big gaps or struggles. And certainly nothing I felt guilty about.

    But the concept of God was something I couldn't get off my mind....was he there? does he exist? maybe there's a God.....

    One night I was talking to my friend again, and she knew I had all the information I needed. She knew that I had run out of questions to ask. Yet I was still trying to debate. In one clear, abrupt moment, my friend turned to me and said, "You know, I can't make this decision for you, and God's not going to wait forever."

    And I immediately knew she was right. I was playing around with a very important decision. So I went home and decided that I was going to decide. I was going to either ask God to come into my life, or I was going to end the subject completely and never allow myself to consider the possibility of God again. I was tired of dealing with this decision. I was tired of thinking about it.

    So, for the next three or four hours, I reviewed everything I had read and observed. I evaluated it all.

    I concluded that the evidence for God was so strong that it made more sense to believe in God than to believe he wasn't there. Then I had to act on that conclusion.

    I knew that just intellectually concluding God was there, was way too light. It would be like deciding...airplanes exist. Faith in an airplane means nothing. However, if you need to get somewhere and an airplane is the way, you have to decide to act and actually get on the plane.

    I needed to make the decision to actually talk to God. I needed to ask him to come into my life.

    After a few hours of thought I addressed God, "Ok you win. I ask you to come into my life, and you may do with it whatever you'd like." (It seemed reasonable to me, that since God exists, God had every right to influence and direct my life, if he wanted to.)

    I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of "sensed" that he was. One thing I knew for sure. I immediately had a huge desire to get to know this God whom I now believed in.

    I wanted to read the Bible. When I did, it seemed that God was spelling out who he is and how he viewed this relationship with him. It was amazing. What really surprised me is how often he talked about his love. I hadn't expected that. In my mind, I was simply acknowledging God's existence. I had no expectations of him. But he chose to communicate his love to me. That was a surprise.

    Now, my basic, skeptical nature was still there. The first few months or year, I would ask myself, "Am I really believing in God? And, why am I?" And I would methodically review five objective reasons why I believed God existed. So my "faith" in God did not rest on feelings, but on facts, on reasons.

    To me, it's like the foundation of a building. The facts/reasons support my faith. It's like someone driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. They can feel whatever they'd like about the bridge. But it's the construction/design/materials of the bridge itself that allows them to safely get from one end to the other. In the same way, the objective reality of God--the logical, historical, scientific reasons to believe in his existence, are important to me. There are people who don't seem to need that. But I hate being fooled, and I have little regard for wishful thinking. The reasons for God's existence mattered to me.

    Part 2
    Since that time, now that I've been a Christian for a number of years----why do I now believe in God? What reasons do I have for continuing to believe in God?

    I'm not sure any of these are going to be believable to you. But I'll try to put that concern aside and be candid with you. Previously my questions were about God's existence. After beginning a relationship with God, I then saw additional evidence that God is real. Such as...

    1. When I have questions, concerns, or would like insight on a matter, God speaks to me through the Bible. What he presents to me is always perfectly suited to my question, beyond what I expected the answer to be. And it is usually a more satisfying answer than I deserve.

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    Mar 20, 2010 7:32 PM GMT
    One day, my schedule, deadlines, and obligations were crawling up my neck and tightening their hold. You know that feeling when you're so overwhelmed, you don't know what to do first?

    So I got out a piece of paper and pen, and asked God: "Just tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it." I was fully prepared for shouldering 100% responsibility, and was basically asking God to just set the priorities, tell me how to approach it all, and I would.

    I then opened my Bible and immediately read where Jesus was talking with a man who was blind. Jesus was asking him, "What would you have me do for you?"

    I read it again. Jesus asked: "What would you have me do for you?" Rather amazed, I picked up my pen and began writing an entirely different list...to God. This, I have found, is characteristic of God. Reminding us that he is there. That he cares.

    I choose that example because it's brief. But I could cite hundreds of examples where I was asking God a question and he perfectly, thoroughly answered me. It probably is the characteristic of God that I most appreciate--that he is willing to answer my questions. And it is very personal between us.

    This isn't something I learned from other Christians. It's just how my relationship with God operates. I ask a question, with an attitude that I really want to give him freedom to tell me whatever he wants to....to correct my thinking, to point out an area in my life that isn't right, to show me where I'm not trusting him, whatever. And he always graciously speaks to me.

    2. Similarly, when I need direction for a decision, he gives it. I believe that God cares about our decisions. I believe he has a plan for our lives, that he cares about who I marry, what kind of job I have, and some decisions smaller than that. I don't believe he cares what toothpaste I buy, or lots of mundane decisions. But decisions that will affect my life...I think he cares.

    One time I needed to decide about a trip to the Middle East. There was risk involved, and I only was willing to go if God wanted me to go. It was important to me that I knew what he wanted.

    Twice I asked God about a job. Both times his leading on it was so clear, that anyone would have concluded the same, with the same facts and unusual circumstances. Let me try one thin slice of an example.

    During my senior year of college, I had decided to take a job with a Christian organization after graduation, that would require a move to California.

    It was Christmas break, and I was now visiting my parents. One evening, I was alone and thinking through a long list of friends. I was wondering who I could talk into moving to California with me, to be roommates. One person named Christy, came to mind, who had already graduated and settled in a job in Iowa. I thought she'd be the perfect roommate, but I hadn't talked to her in several months. Just 30 minutes later, at my parents home, Christy calls me on the phone.

    Her first sentence was, "I heard you are taking a job with this Christian organization." I was floored because I had only told one friend, in Ohio.

    Her next statement was, "Ok, I've got the pots and pans and dishes." I said, "WHAT?!" She was moving to the same town in California and was calling to see if I would room with her.

    Ok, so you see my point.

    You might ask, why such a big deal, to even need God's help in this decision? I knew that my parents would be completely opposed to this job. I thought it might cost me my relationship with my parents forever. So it was not a light decision. I asked God to guide me toward what he wanted. And he did. There were about ten other events related to this job, such as clear.

    Other reasons I still believe in God...

    3. In terms of explanations about life--why we're here, what the purpose is, what is important in life, what to value or strive for--God has better answers than anything I've ever read anywhere. I had studied multiple philosophies and religions and other life approaches. What I read in the Bible, what I see in God's perspective, is like all the pieces of the puzzle fitting.

    There is still a lot I'll read in the Bible and close the Bible saying, "I don't get it." So I don't mean to suggest I fully understand everything in the Bible. Instead, I'm saying that life only makes sense from the perspective of what God has revealed. It's like reading the operating manual to something very complex, only we are not left to merely follow the manual. The inventor is explaining to us how it all works, and then offers to personally guide us.

    4. The intimacy with God is deeper than intimacy with any human being. And I say that married, with two children, and tons of very close friends. His love is perfect. He's incredibly gracious. He takes me right where I'm at, and as I said, speaks to me. He intervenes with actions that leave me amazed as the observer. He is not a belief or doctrine. I see him act in my life and speak to my heart.

    5. He has done more with my life than I would have done on my own. This is not a statement of inferiority or lack of self confidence. I'm speaking in terms of accomplishments that far exceeded what I ever had in mind. He provides ideas, direction, solutions, wisdom, and better motives than I could aspire to on my own.

    Well, there is more, but I think that gives you enough. I'm not sure any of it is believable to you, but I've been as honest as I know how to be.

    If you would like to see some of the evidence that moved me from atheist to believing in God, please see these two articles:
    Is There a God?
    Beyond Blind Faith

    I have a question or comment...

    How to know God...
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    Mar 21, 2010 12:42 AM GMT
    . . . why do the fever swamp dwellers tend to be so prolix? . . .
  • kittar

    Posts: 314

    Mar 21, 2010 1:03 AM GMT
    Wow.. This was a pretty inspiring thing to read. I think that it IS pretty hard for a lot of people to believe in God in this day and age, what with all that we have discovered scientifically about the world around us. But (IMHO) the world really is too vast and intricate for this (everything) to have happend perchance.

    And of course, it is ESPECIALLY hard to believe in God when you grow up as a gay person. It's something that I struggle with in big ways. But I think that there are bigger things than what we know or can know on this earth.. Reasons for happenings, and answers to questions that we are not meant to know until we get to Heaven.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. You may have inadvertently planted a seed in one or two of your readers, a seed of hope, of curiosity, of insecurity or of some other sort that might cause them to explore God in the way that you were brought to.

    I am sure that there are those who will read this and think, 'what bullshit.' But I hope that you all who do will just stop for a second and imagine the possibility. Who knows what can come of it? icon_smile.gif

    Thanks again for posting, OP. If I might ask, how did you read the Bible when you first went through it? Were there certain parts that you looked at over others, or certain chapters/verses that really stood out to you?


    Thanks icon_biggrin.gif

    It's all about <3
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    Mar 21, 2010 1:08 AM GMT
    . . . clearly you are another Stockholm Syndrome victim . . .

    . . . and if you really believe there are "questions that we are not meant to know " then why bother having an intellectual life? . . .

    . . . just go gentle into the oven . . .

  • kittar

    Posts: 314

    Mar 21, 2010 1:11 AM GMT
    noren said . . . clearly you are another Stockholm Syndrome victim . . .

    . . . and if you really believe there are "questions that we are not meant to know " then why bother having an intellectual life? . . .

    . . . just go gentle into the oven . . .



    No need for insult icon_smile.gif
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    Mar 21, 2010 1:18 AM GMT
    . . . it's an entreaty . . . do man up and face reality . . .

    . . . but insults are actually necessary . . they awaken, they stir, they arouse . . . what did Flannery O'Connor say? -- with the deaf, one must yell . . .

    . . . and the insults put in their place the bastards like you who would destroy us . . . and they put on notice the apologists like you who would gladly see us persecuted and hounded unto death . . . so, wake up and fuck off
  • kittar

    Posts: 314

    Mar 21, 2010 1:24 AM GMT
    noren said. . . it's an entreaty . . . do man up and face reality . . .

    . . . but insults are actually necessary . . they awaken, they stir, they arouse . . . what did Flannery O'Connor say? -- with the deaf, one must yell . . .

    . . . and the insults put in their place the bastards like you who would destroy us . . . and they put on notice the apologists like you who would gladly see us persecuted and hounded unto death . . . so, wake up and fuck off


    :X...



    I'll pray for you ;)
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    Mar 21, 2010 1:26 AM GMT
    noren said. . . it's an entreaty . . . do man up and face reality . . .

    . . . but insults are actually necessary . . they awaken, they stir, they arouse . . . what did Flannery O'Connor say? -- with the deaf, one must yell . . .

    . . . and the insults put in their place the bastards like you who would destroy us . . . and they put on notice the apologists like you who would gladly see us persecuted and hounded unto death . . . so, wake up and fuck off


    Since you are into insults... What a fucking idiot you are! Too self centered to even consider the possibility of a greater being! Closed minded fools like you are the bane of the planet.
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    Mar 21, 2010 1:34 AM GMT
    . . . look moron, I didn't say there could never be a "greater being" . . . but if such a thing existed you, of all people, would not have knowledge of it . . .

    . . . and Kittar, your prayers are a cudgel and a weapon, and you know it . . . you can keep your threats and your feeble attempt at condescencion, and your ignorance to yourself . . . your self righteousness is disgusting . . . take your prayers and shove them up your ass . . .
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Mar 21, 2010 1:35 AM GMT
    Marilyn doesn't prove the existence of a divinity (in this case, the Christian Yahweh), she just lays out her rationalization for her faith. I don't buy that she was personally atheist, and instead suspect that she followed a crowd / group belief without personally dealing with what atheism means as a faith.

    For the same reason that she says there must be a deity (the complexity of the universe) I say that there is no creator deity, as no conscious being should have engineered something so needlessly complicated and inefficient (and then provided a severely flawed user's manual through revelations to a limited group of people).

    A universe that includes Yahweh would be a very different universe, from where I stand.
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    Mar 21, 2010 1:41 AM GMT
    Awesome post, pretty inspiring stuff. icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 21, 2010 2:06 AM GMT
    . . .you must come to reality, or it will come to you . . . the desert god you think is "inspiring" would in reality spew you out of his mouth, you silly man, and his minions would and do happily kill you . . .

    . . . but hey, let's just all sing praise songs, eh? . . . oh happy day indeed . . .

    . . . be a man
  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Mar 21, 2010 2:14 AM GMT
    My goodness. Argument from personal feeling, fine tuning and abuse of science, confirmation bias, argument from ignorance, all the same old crap.
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    Mar 21, 2010 4:42 AM GMT
    Article> I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of "sensed" that he was.

    Like one "senses" the gremlins in a dark basement?

    Many people gain strength, courage, support, etc. from imaginary friends.
    That can be good. And it can be bad.
    Some people need a crutch, some people don't.

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    Mar 21, 2010 4:52 AM GMT
    Is this like Christian porn or something? "Conversion fantasy"
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:13 AM GMT
    This entire blog makes me want to vomit. It's nice to tell everyone on this site that you are so easily manipulated into believing a bedtime story for grown ups. Because coincidence exists does not justify the existence of a higher being controlling our lives, and that's all this blog is, coincidence. And of course there would be levels of comparison and help in the bible because it was clearly written to grab the attention of the one's with low self esteem and convert them into this absolute nonsense. It's really nice to know Christianity has won yet again in this pointless battle over fake deities.
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:15 AM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidArticle> I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of "sensed" that he was.

    Like one "senses" the gremlins in a dark basement?

    Many people gain strength, courage, support, etc. from imaginary friends.
    That can be good. And it can be bad.
    Some people need a crutch, some people don't.



    Aww see now that's a perfect example of how one approaches the whole concept in such a wrong way.

    Having faith isn't the same as having an imaginary friend. I had imaginary friends when I was a child, and it does not feel the same as having faith in god.

    I grew up surrounded by strong, and courageous people, good men. (my dad brothers and uncle). My faith in god, just makes me feel even stronger, and all of those good things.

    I don't feel its ever been a crutch, and believe me I've been through some seriously bad times when I was in the military, and when I came home. I was strong through it all, because I was raised to be strong.. My faith just made my strength bigger.

    I also aint the type of guy who scoffs at science. I love science, you can believe in god, and love science. There are lots of scientist who believe in god, I don't think they are separate things. The ones however who arrogantly and ignorantly dismiss those who believe in god, and smear the scientist who are interesting in learning through science if such a thing exist, are amateur scientist. I also find it strange how these scientist who do want to know, have their careers ruined.
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:28 AM GMT
    Melbourne Australia not long ago had the worlds first International Atheist Convention. Instead of them proving there was no God, it was a convention of haters; so sad really, but surprising?
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:28 AM GMT
    I have a deep personal conviction that the universe was in fact sneezed out of the nose of a being called The Great Green Arkleseizure. I know I'm right because I feel warm and fuzzy when I think about it. Everybody else should too.
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:31 AM GMT
    IHG84 said
    Caesarea4 saidArticle> I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of "sensed" that he was.

    Like one "senses" the gremlins in a dark basement?

    Many people gain strength, courage, support, etc. from imaginary friends.
    That can be good. And it can be bad.
    Some people need a crutch, some people don't.



    Aww see now that's a perfect example of how one approaches the whole concept in such a wrong way.

    Having faith isn't the same as having an imaginary friend. I had imaginary friends when I was a child, and it does not feel the same as having faith in god.

    I grew up surrounded by strong, and courageous people, good men. (my dad brothers and uncle). My faith in god, just makes me feel even stronger, and all of those good things.

    I don't feel its ever been a crutch, and believe me I've been through some seriously bad times when I was in the military, and when I came home. I was strong through it all, because I was raised to be strong.. My faith just made my strength bigger.

    I also aint the type of guy who scoffs at science. I love science, you can believe in god, and love science. There are lots of scientist who believe in god, I don't think they are separate things. The ones however who arrogantly and ignorantly dismiss those who believe in god, and smear the scientist who are interesting in learning through science if such a thing exist, are amateur scientist. I also find it strange how these scientist who do want to know, have their careers ruined.


    I too don't see why one can't hold a faith, and have a belief in science too; Darwin never tried to kill God. I have a love for science, and a belief in the Big Bang, and I also have a faith; I just don't have religion in my life.
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:37 AM GMT


  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 21, 2010 5:38 AM GMT
    So this ad just popped up above:

    DarwinJesusFishKiss.jpg


    IHG84> I had imaginary friends when I was a child, and it does not feel the same as having faith in god.

    I don't mean to offend you, but.... (meaning I will; sorry, nothing personal)

    I'd venture that - psychologically - the feeling would be proportionate to the power you give to the imaginary friend. If he's just a neighbor kid you play kid games with or a stuffed animal that's alive, that's one thing. If he's a super-hero, that's another. And if he's all-powerful, even capable of passing judgement on you - whether you will go to Heaven or face eternal damnation in Hell... gosh, must feel great - empowering - having him at your side.

    Yet all of that is in one's head.
    If that's what it takes to feel good or empowered, then it is a "crutch".

  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Mar 21, 2010 6:55 AM GMT
    IHG84 said
    Caesarea4 saidArticle> I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of "sensed" that he was.

    Like one "senses" the gremlins in a dark basement?

    Many people gain strength, courage, support, etc. from imaginary friends.
    That can be good. And it can be bad.
    Some people need a crutch, some people don't.



    Aww see now that's a perfect example of how one approaches the whole concept in such a wrong way.

    Having faith isn't the same as having an imaginary friend. I had imaginary friends when I was a child, and it does not feel the same as having faith in god.

    I grew up surrounded by strong, and courageous people, good men. (my dad brothers and uncle). My faith in god, just makes me feel even stronger, and all of those good things.

    I don't feel its ever been a crutch, and believe me I've been through some seriously bad times when I was in the military, and when I came home. I was strong through it all, because I was raised to be strong.. My faith just made my strength bigger.

    I also aint the type of guy who scoffs at science. I love science, you can believe in god, and love science. There are lots of scientist who believe in god, I don't think they are separate things. The ones however who arrogantly and ignorantly dismiss those who believe in god, and smear the scientist who are interesting in learning through science if such a thing exist, are amateur scientist. I also find it strange how these scientist who do want to know, have their careers ruined.


    He was critisizing one of the arguments made in the article which essentially stated personal feelings as evidence for the existence of a god. The trouble with using that as evidence is that anyone can justify anything by those means, including but certainly not limited to other gods. And if i feel nothing when i think about this god idea that certainly wouldnt convince any believer that a god does not exist (nor should it, it is a bad argument either way).

    As for scientists having their careers ruined what on earth do you mean? What scientists are legitimately trying to find scientific evidence for the existence of gods?

    Do you mean someone like Norman Bloom trying to convince physicists and mathematicians of his proof for a god from the Manhattan phone book?

    Surely you do not mean creationists like those mentioned in that aweful and wholly innacurate propaganda movie Expelled. You know, the one hosted by Ben Stein claiming that Darwinism leads to Hitler and that there is a conspiracy to silence scientists who try to prove intelligent design. Surely you dont buy any of that nonsense.

    There are in fact studies done that scientists work on which are perfectly legitimate that can provide evidence for something at least related to religious belief. Prayer has been extensively studied, for instance. One of the best studies done in recent years was actually by the religious organization called The Templeton Foundation that found no effect (well, to be fair, the people who got prayed for that knew that got prayed for did slightly worse, but only slightly).
  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Mar 21, 2010 6:57 AM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidSo this ad just popped up above:

    DarwinJesusFishKiss.jpg


    IHG84> I had imaginary friends when I was a child, and it does not feel the same as having faith in god.

    I don't mean to offend you, but.... (meaning I will; sorry, nothing personal)

    I'd venture that - psychologically - the feeling would be proportionate to the power you give to the imaginary friend. If he's just a neighbor kid you play kid games with or a stuffed animal that's alive, that's one thing. If he's a super-hero, that's another. And if he's all-powerful, even capable of passing judgement on you - whether you will go to Heaven or face eternal damnation in Hell... gosh, must feel great having him on your side.


    You forgot the biggest difference.

    The parents do not share the belief in the imiginary neighbourhood kid friend. They do share the belief in the god imaginary friend and indeed indoctrinate you in the belief in him/her/them.