Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The end of God


It's just common sense ...

Dear Heavenly Father: the plans I tried to carry through have failed. My mind has become my prison, betraying me to help them sever my connection with you. My family has been forced over to the other side, and I'm hurting, Lord. They hunt me by using my brain against me, and they do not stop. So all I ask for is hope, Lord.

Give me a plan.

The rustling outside the little shack makes my body tense up, and I rise to my feet, ready to run again.

My legs tense, my arms ache. And my heart, it has long depleted all longing. These things cease to become important when you are fighting for your identity against a monster that never sleeps.

Thirty years ago, when I was a child, and the World Trade Center hadn't been bombed, and the brain-signal satellites hadn't been set up, and the Common Sense Law hadn't been passed, prayers were beautiful. Prayers did not do things like activate the parietal lobe area of the brain and send messages to the satellites that an abstract idea was forming.

Prayers helped refocus my world.

Now, as I stumble to the back door, I see a world in which everything beautiful has blurred into a fog of grey.

God, you will help me through this, won't you? All is as you will it to be, and I know that you will protect me.

Taking a deep breath, I yank open the door, expecting to step back into a cradle of chilling darkness.

Immediately a piercing white light hits me, robbing me of every trace of hope.

I try to close the door, but a strong hand forces it open and someone steps towards me.

A young man in police uniform appears. Behind him others follow as the white light from outside slices across their expressions, uniformly cold and faithless.

But when the young officer speaks, his tone fails to match the hardness of his gaze. “Sir, please come with us,” he says, beckoning. “We will take you to a hospital and treat your ailment.”

I look from officer to officer. They are nothing more than hunters. “Who are you to tell me whether or not I am allowed to be a child of God?”

“You're sicker than most, at this point,” the young man says, and the others close in, moving to encircle me. “We could tell when we picked up signals of an abnormally excited IPL. We are here only to help cure you of your ... delusions.”

“By forcing me to conform?” I let a laugh escape despite the tears pooling in my eyes. If this is a test, God, let the heathens deliver to me all the humiliation and fear they wish. In your name, I can absorb any pain.

Credit: JACEY

“In accordance with the Common Sense Law, Sir, we must take you in and convert you. Please don't fight it.”

“Faith means believing in something when common sense tells you not to,” I reply, looking around. No one is moved. “And faith gives me a warmth that no amount of common sense ever will. Don't take this away from —”

Suddenly I feel a sharp sting in my neck as one policeman plunges a syringe into me.

“I'm sorry,” the young policeman says.

“Fill out the paperwork, will you?” a male voice says, before its owner clears his throat. “We'll have it delivered to his home in a few days, after his mind adjusts. Poor guy ... lost in a web of false beliefs for so long.”

These are the first words I hear as my eyes flutter open. Lying on a hospital bed with three doctors huddled over me, I attempt to move, but find that I've lost connection with even my fingers.

Stammering, I ask: “What have you done to me?”

But I know full well what has happened. The gnawing black hole in my chest can tell no lies.

“Don't worry,” says an elderly woman doctor, setting a hand on my arm. I cannot feel the pressure. “The anaesthesia has worn off. What you are experiencing is probably shock. Most religious folk, after having their parietal-lobe area disabled, will feel a little disoriented for a while.”

“At least you're all better now, no more illogical abstract ideas.” One of the other doctors smiles down at me in the way that one usually stares at an ill patient. “How do you feel?”

I try to channel God.

Dear Heavenly Father, receive my apology. I let them force me, I let them take me in against my will and take you from me.

My eyes close, as I search for the familiar sense of warmth that sweeps into my chest at His acknowledgement, a reassurance that faith is not something that science can remove. No hacking or cutting from the hands of a mere man can separate me from you, Lord.

I refuse to believe it — I will not, cannot.

And yet, there is nothing but the phantoms of silence.

Tears feel like they are falling from my eyes, stinging the sides of my cheeks. But my face remains dry.

So this is what it feels to be part of a whole. This is emptiness, loneliness, eating and ripping at the rim of your heart.

“Did you hear me?” the doctor's voice bleeds into my thoughts. “How do you feel?”

I blink and focus in on the reality before me and, realizing that even the surrounding colour in the world has dimmed, tell him: “My God has forsaken me. He has left me defenceless in a world populated by the lost and lonely.”

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Li, S. The end of God. Nature 466, 150 (2010).

Download citation


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing