About Me

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Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

Welcome to my Opinion Pages

Thanks for stopping by and reading some of my thoughts. I hope you will find an enjoyable adventure here on my pages.



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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Psychology does not absolve guilt


"In psychology, as well as in ordinary language, guilt is an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done). It gives rise to a feeling which does not go away easily, driven by 'conscience'.  Sigmund Freud described this as the result of a struggle between the ego and the superego parental imprinting. Freud rejected the role of God as punisher in times of illness or rewarder in time of wellness. While removing one source of guilt from patients, he described another. This was the unconscious force within the individual that contributed to illness. The victim of someone else's accident or bad luck may be offered criticism, the theory being that the victim may be at fault for having attracted the other person's hostility. Guilt and its causes, merits, and demerits are common themes in psychology and psychiatry. It is often associated with depression, and sometimes anxiety."  (see this quote with the link at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilt)
Psychology attempts to give us ways in which we can heal ourselves from the guilt and conscience that our guilt brings.  There are countless "Self-Help" strategies offered as ways to help us live with ourselves and in the company of society.  Psychology even offers the answers for developing values and moral behavior while providing guidelines for living our lives.  We can examine our behaviors, motivation and self-control through the offerings of psychology.  We can even change our thoughts by "cognitive restructuring" so that we can put unpleasant thoughts out of our mind.  We can change our behavior, understand ourselves, delve into our relationships, learn to date, love, have marriage and sex all within the confines of psychological theory. 
The problem we find as Christians is that as we become dependent on the latest psychological research finding or philosophical postulate and we slavishly begin to adhere to the pathways of psychology to find happiness, absolution from guilt and it becomes a "law" to which we strive to keep just so we can become "all that we can be."  A Christian might want to examine their flirtation with a near-obsession with psychology as their deliverance, since it likely becomes a substitution to their faith in the work of Christ in them through His Spirit.   
The Apostle Paul asked the Christians in Galatia a question about their relationship with God's Spirit and their trying to "work" out their salvation by obeying the law.  "After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"  (Galatians 3:3)  Again he asks, "Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"  (Galatians 3:5)
To the Colossians the Apostle wrote, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."  (Colossians 2:8)
Paul talked about the law and guilt when he wrote to the Christians at Rome.  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."  (Romans 3:19-20)
The Apostle continued in that writing to declare to the people that righteousness comes through faith in what God did through Jesus on the cross and through the resurrection.  "But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  (Romans 3:21-24)
Ephesians 3:20-21  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen."  (Ephesians 3:20-21)  Remember, it is His power that is at work within us, not the power of some plan of self improvement; nor is it the strength of our own power.
We feel our guilt because our guilt is real.  We really have sinned and fallen short of God's Glory.  No matter how many rituals we pass through or ten-step programs we complete, our guilt is never removed by our own efforts.  Even Freud said our conscience is always there; something is always reminding us whether it is within ourselves or the society at large.   
Psychology has been my adult-life career; my education (BA, MA, Ph.D.) has been focused on psychology, education and counseling.  My life-long motivation has been Christian.  But the discovery that has been the most revealing in both those endeavors was my struggle to continually "do" the right thing which always produced a greater desire to resist "doing" the right thing.  The Apostle Paul shed light on that many years ago.
Reading through Paul's letters, especially Romans, Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians he sheds light on the fact that the law, any law, or set of prescriptive imperatives' that we hold as our faith will eventually bring us nothing but failure.  Psychology is man-centered and becomes a set of laws in which we place our hope that someday we will be better people by practicing the precepts of that law.  It is futile at best.
We really do not have the power within us to absolve our guilt; that must come from outside of ourselves.  Our tenacious grasp of any law that we cling to in order to bring ourselves to righteousness is doomed to failure even before we yield ourselves to it.  That is the Wisdom of God:  For our sins to be forgiven He had to forgive our sin and the only way He could do it was through His Son Jesus Christ.  It is the work on the cross and His resurrection that conquers death for me and forgives me of my sins.  It really has nothing to do with my past; it has everything to do with my present and to Whom I yield.  


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's day


Father's Day is a special day for sure.  We are all tuned in to having a father, or at least a father figure to whom we can relate.  I have written about my own father in my postings before and have expressed my sentiments for all he did for me.  I think, however, that guys like my Dad were a special breed who lived in a special time and answered the call like other generations before them had done to keep the freedom fires burning for their posterity.

The days are being shortened for the men of my Dad's generation; we are losing them far too quickly in this new century and soon their memories will be faded to the point that we will lose that eye-witness account of their world.  For those Dads who were born in the 1920's in the Twentieth Century need to be listened to with their thoughts and memories being recorded.

A fellow whose life began in say, 1922 was only seven years old when the stock market crashed in 1929 sending the world in a tail-spin depression that had a devastating effect on their lives.  Just think of it, at seven years old this generation of future men would be husbands, fathers and defenders of our nation as they first became a working member of their family to scratch out a living during one of the most hurtful depressions in our history.  On their tenth birthday they would be celebrating during the beginning of perhaps full-family unemployment, complete loss of family resources and very little, if any, prospect for future improvement.

Having lived through the dust-blowing depression their eighteenth birthday would be celebrated in 1940 still in depression, but with a looming dark shadow of war about to erupt.  On their nineteenth and twentieth birthdays they would be welcomed with the draft or volunteering for duty to serve as fighters in World War II.  They would march off to lands across the seas with guns and bayonets and only with the experience of poverty and depression under their belts.

For those who survived and returned some would still not make it to their thirtieth birthday before they returned to a far-away place called Korea to fight another war.  The children of depression and young men of war times, this generation of men and fathers really didn't start living their lives until they had reached their thirties. 

Once having put the world at peace they set about building their families, neighborhoods and communities.  They participated in one of the greatest growth spurts in American history.  The Military Industrial Complex with its innovation for advancement in technology and commerce became only a by-product of their efforts.  The sweat-equity they poured into their jobs and careers  built a foundation of solid economic efforts that allowed a young President in 1963 to declare the presence of a man on the moon by the end of that decade.

They did all of that and even more; they raised children called war-babies and baby boomers.  They instilled in those pliable minds the love of freedom and national pride.  They established a moral character of "middle-class" America that forged a strong bond with God and Country that was reinforced with the likes of John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Clarke Gable, Jimmy Stewart and, yes, even Ronald Reagan.

Working during the week and making family trips to town on the week-ends was a way of life.  Eating out was a treat, buying a new or used car was the thrill of life, taking in a ball game and watching the advent of a new thing called television.  Watching the first shows that had come from the radio to television like Jack Benny, Red Skelton, George Burns and Gracie Allen and the Ozzie and Harriet show. 

Many American Dads during those years participated in family worship on Sundays, ate meals with the family, bought groceries, paid bills, and led the family in ordinary life.  Dad, along with Mom, was the leader of the family and children, along with the grandparents sat on the front porch in the cool of the evening to talk while the kids caught lightning bugs, skated on the sidewalks or rode the bikes that Dad had given them for Christmas.

That was the generation of accomplishment.  In the span of their lives they sat on buckboards pulled by horse or mule, ate food from an "ice box" cooled with a large block of ice delivered to their homes or picked up at the ice plant in town, drew their own water from a well outside or pumped it from a kitchen sink pump, received telegraphs in emergencies, rode the train, saw the first cars roll off of Ford's assembly line, witnessed the first generation of airplane flights, but still managed to see in their lifetime Neal Armstrong walk on the moon.
Today those folks are in their late eighties and nineties.  They have lived a rich, full life of accomplishment that has left us with someplace much better than what they received in their first thirty years of life.  My Dad was one of those in that generation and his story deserves to be remembered.  Even though there are not near as many of that generation left, if your Dad of that generation remains, the best thing you can give to him and to yourself is to sit down with him on this Father's Day and listen to his story.  Write it down, share it with others; remember it, and give it to your own kids.     


Friday, June 17, 2011

Ten Commandments: number one


The first of the Ten Commandments spoken by God and given to Moses is the most important one:
20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me."  (Exodus 20:3)
God is absolute in His command for His people to seek only Him and not place other gods in front of Him.  God is the Creator and it is Him who rescued mankind from sin.  He is the one, through Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a sacrifice on the cross to redeem each of us from sin.  We are to love Him and yield ourselves to Him; we are not to raise up anything else to worship and place our faith in except Him.
Unfortunately, we are like the Children of Israel who were waiting for Moses to return from the top of the mountain with the tablets of written commandments, but instead of waiting they formed a calf made for gold and began to worship it as a god.  Many of our gods may not be made of gold, but some of them are.  We have raised up many gods in America and there are millions who serve them.
To name just a few, there is the god of technology; god of discovery; god of progress; god of power; god of propinquity; and a god of knowledge.
Technology god
Technology has a cycle it uses that has created a demand for it that keeps mankind bound up breathlessly waiting for the newest technological breakthrough.  That cycle is development, usability, obsolescence.
With the newest development of an item like the iPod or the computer or the cell phone we wait at the stores, sometimes all night just to be the first to buy the newest advancement in technological gadgetry.  We use it, become dependent on it, sometimes even flaunt it for others to see how important we are to have such a prize, and then discover a fatal flaw that is always present.  It becomes obsolete almost the moment we buy it.
Planned obsolescence is as much a part of technology as the actual development itself.  Our obedience to its use and our allegiance to its demands is almost a worship that creates a dependence that makes us believe, "We just can't do without it."  If it is difficult to believe it has become like a god, just watch a couple of teenagers with their cell phones and the time they spend texting each other.
Discovery god
Discovery is the quest or search that motivates and becomes the driving force that pushes us beyond our personal zones of complacency.  Discovery draws us as a force that becomes god-like as we seek further uniqueness and exploration.
No matter what the discovery is, we want it to be one-of-a-kind that is unique in all the world.  A song, a play, a new type of vacuum cleaner, a better mousetrap; if it can be unique then it elevates the discoverer's standing with everyone else.
Exploration plays a large part in the discovery process.  The hunt becomes an obsession to find the prize.  It may be the gold in the stream or mountain, or the fountain of youth in the "new world" that draws the adventurer, but the opiate is powerful to find uniqueness through exploration.
A life consumed in pursuit of discovery becomes a god in the person's life.  We all play that part, chasing after the golden ring, looking for the prize, discovering the next thrill; always the "next" thing that will bring satisfaction.  Even though the next thing in discovery often becomes an illusion as well.  It becomes a god of disappointment.
Progress god
No one wants to stand still.  We want to keep moving, progressing toward a goal; moving step-by-step toward a desire for something newer.  We discard older models for newer ones...the newest cell phone, iPod or electronic reader. 
In our society we honor the newest or youngest.  We seek innovation with new appliances, better floor plans, faster and more economical cars, travel with more comfort or getting us there quicker.  Constant change brings newer time-saving devices or helps us to live longer with better health.  We revere progress and through the generations leave a trail of items that once held promise of innovation but now is relegated as "antique" to sit in a showcase or museum for people to remember.
Power god
Each of us has a sphere of power around which we surround ourselves.  We seek power through political and military means, personal influence and even relationships.  In America it now will take not just millions of dollars to run for President, but Billions of dollars.  This for a job that pays only a salary.
Everyone searches for power through influence over others.  Even if it is just for simple agreement with a position taken or an argument to win, we want to exert influence in such a way as to win.  It builds our personal position and seemingly makes us strong. 
Knowledge god
Closely associated with power is the pursuit of knowledge.  Especially knowledge that is personal and relatively unknown by others.  We seek the "inside" story, the "behind the scenes" information.  We want to know what others do not know so we can shine when the time is right and demonstrate our knowledge to help us assume influence over situations or others.
We equate knowledge with intelligence and seek a higher level of learning to reach goals and attain more personal power.  This can come through better job positions, better career performance, promotions over others; in short a building up of personal influence and power.     
Propinquity god
This is a form of imitating and associating with others with whom we admire and want to be like.  Within each culture or ethnic group the characteristics are similar to our own so we tend to associate with people who are like us.  It is well established in people-groups around the globe; ethnic groups tend to remain together in association and residence.  Although there are societal integration attempts, on an individualized basis, people tend to seek out those who are more like themselves than those who are significantly different.
We see this in church congregations with predominant ethnic groups with fairly consistent associations even when there are peripheral ethnic peoples who try to join in.  Predominantly Black congregations tend to remain Black; White congregations tend to remain White.  Cultural groups tend to live in the same neighborhoods and predominantly associate with each other.
Even when there are attempts through social engineering to integrate cultures and ethnic groups it is oftentimes met with resistance and sometimes violence.  As Jesus prayed for unity in the first century, we too seek unity among the believers, but by-and-large we remain "denominational" in our practice.
Even though God has declared that we "shall" not have any other gods other than Him, we have established other things that lead us away from Him as we live our lives on a daily basis.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gospel made simple


I was reading about the components of a story; I learned the following:  A story is a design in five parts: The Inciting Incident, the first major event of the telling, is the primary cause for all that follows, putting into motion the other four elements – Progressive Complications, Crisis, Climax, Resolution.
Here is a one sentence example of the Greatest Story using these components:

God created man;
man sinned against God, the sin brought death into the creation;
mankind was separated from a relationship with God;
mankind was completely lost and had no hope of survival;
then, God provided Grace through the death of Jesus Christ His Son on the cross to save mankind. 

Jesus conquered death by being resurrected by God's power and mankind regained relationship with God as they repented, believed God and yielded to Him.  


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Enigma


Enigma is a word the dictionary defines as something that is puzzling or inexplicable that happens that contains a contradictory character.  It could be something with a hidden meaning or a riddle.  In the Bible there is an example of enigma given to us from a wise king of Israel, Solomon.  In the book of the Bible credited to him, in Ecclesiastes, we read the following:
"8:9 While applying my mind to everything that happens in this world, I have seen all this:  Sometimes one person dominates other people to their harm.
8:10 Not only that, but I have seen the wicked approaching and entering the temple, and as they left the holy temple, they boasted in the city that they had done so. 
This also is an enigma.
8:11 When a sentence is not executed at once against a crime, the human heart is encouraged to do evil.
8:12 Even though a sinner might commit a hundred crimes and still live a long time, yet I know that it will go well with God-fearing people – for they stand in fear before him.
8:13 But it will not go well with the wicked, nor will they prolong their days like a shadow, because they do not stand in fear before God.
8:14 Here is another enigma that occurs on earth:  Sometimes there are righteous people who get what the wicked deserve, and sometimes there are wicked people who get what the righteous deserve.
I said, “This also is an enigma.”  (Ecclesiastes 8:9-14)
These are basic observations made by a wise King, Solomon, who sat at a vantage point to see causes and effects in relationships during daily commerce.  While looking for the most obvious consequence to a situation or action, sometimes there is quite the opposite outcome.
It seems that we have perfected these three enigmas to the point that they are almost folded into one repeated process in our more modern, highly "evolved" society.  In fact they are often woven together in such a way as to serve as the basis for a good television series or movie drama that may even win an award.  Think again of the three enigmas:  1.  Domineering manipulation of another to enhance personal standing, but bring harm to another; 2.  Even when found guilty with a sentence given, prolong the execution of that sentence sometimes for years through a long, arduous appeal process; and 3.  The suffering of victims being greater than the convicted perpetrator of the crime.
These enigmas are present in many forms these days; think of the so-called ponzi schemes.  The individual manipulates others to invest money with a promise of much higher returns than normal.  The investor's money is usually lost while the person initiating the scheme lives the life of pleasure and wealth sometimes for many years.  Even when caught and convicted of the crime the perpetrator may spend years in prison, but leaves behind hundreds of broken lives for people who have lost everything.
Another example is the politician who has national standing who engages in behaviors of immoral ineptitude by manipulating those around them as they seek personal pleasures.  Even when discovered they often only suffer "sanctions" while the other person loses all credibility and reputation for years into the future.  From these examples come the so-called made-for-TV-mini-series that sometimes win awards and make celebrities of people.
Ultimately, as in our society, the constellation of enigmas bring down the character and moral fortitude of the individual.  It becomes expected behavior, almost rising to the "normal."  People begin to lose respect for those in power or authority positions.  Celebrities who practice such things become role models for the youth to emulate.  It cheapens the fabric of the society and reduces the moral standing to an X-rated existence viewed by others from around the world.
Good King Solomon concludes that the person who respects God and His workings on earth should look for the joy in the short life on earth and accept the good things God gives as gifts because the temporal world around him is so full of sin.  Much later the Apostle Paul writes that we should not live a life of sin, following the pattern of enigma, but to live in the Spirit of God.
The Apostle wrote to the Christians at Rome that they should turn away from the darkness of sin and live in the daylight. 
"13:13 Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. 13:14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires."  (Romans 13:13-14)
We need to seek out those who have yielded themselves to Christ and have made Him their Lord in life.  Our associations should be those who encourage us to live lives of high moral character, turning away from the practice of enigmas that bring harm to others.  From that strong association with the gathering of God's people, we need to share His love, mercy and grace with others who continue to be lost in a world of enigmas.    


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Debt ceiling


A debt ceiling is a point at which we will spend no further.  It is drawing the line at a certain amount.  When we shop for a new car or a new house we sometimes look at our income and other debts and make a decision on an amount of money beyond which we will not go.  I was just thinking about the government's debt ceiling problem.
Washington is grappling with the issue of raising the debt ceiling.  The problem is that it seems to be a problem they have no idea how to solve.  With all their education, knowledge and experience they seem to be scratching their heads as to how to deal with the debt ceiling.  Now I realize the politicians can simply print more money since they have assumed that power.  But in the end having more greenbacks in circulation simply drives down the value of those that are already there.  Then of course, they want to raise their income, that is, the income of the treasury.  That means increasing the taxes on the people who work and make a salary.
For some reason, for many in Congress, they never think that it might be they are living beyond their means.  Now I am not near as smart as they are, and I have never been elected to any government office, so my experience in that field is limited, but I find myself scratching my head over this matter as well.
I do relate to the issue and sympathize with those who are trying to figure it out.  Like most Americans, not having the experience that Congress has, I only know from experience with my own life that it is impossible to sustain spending more money than your income allows you to spend. For the individual American the credit card is our "debt ceiling" and when we begin to live on that borrowed credit we sink into a hole that is difficult to get out of. If we honestly look at what we need versus what we want, we begin to realize that it is possible to cut spending. It seems so simple, but the government can do that too.
 
I wonder how many of the people in Congress are aware of each and every program on which money is being spent.  When families in America find it necessary to work ourselves out of a spending hole, the first thing we look at is how much money we make and what we are spending it on.  We start listing out all of our expenses:  house payment, car payment, food, clothing, household expenses like utilities and maintenance, insurance and any other fixed bills that are outstanding. 
 
Then we start looking at entertainment like movies, going out to eat, vacations, pleasurable use of gasoline, purchased items that are really not needed, but simply wanted. 
 
Once we determine what we are spending our money on we then figure out which of the items we can do without.  We know that credit card companies have taken full advantage of our "instant gratification" tendencies and have promised us that we can have the full benefits of our purchases, but can pay for it later.  But sooner, or later, we have discovered that our appetites' are deceptive and only push us deeper into the hole.  Most Americans have discovered that if we spend thousands more than we make by maxing out several high-interest credit cards, we are not really rich at the end of that rocky road.  In fact, we are quite poor.
 
Interest rates eat us alive, creditors are unyielding in their attempts to collect their money.  We are so far in debt that we start trying to transfer the debt from one credit card to another with the promise of lower interest for a season with the new card.  In essence we raise our "debt ceiling" by taking on a new card. 
 
Again, I am not near as smart as the guys in Washington, but it seems like we Americans are really just a collection of families who all live in various places from Maine to California on out to Hawaii, and Texas to Alaska, and we are one giant family who has a small group of people in Washington making decisions for us.  I think it is about time we ask them to control their appetites with our resources.  They need to quit complaining about each other and quit blaming us, and attend to the task at hand.  They need to recognize that we, as a family, are spending too much money and it needs to stop.
 
If they want to continue representing us they need to get hold of themselves, stop spending more money than we collectively can afford, examine what the money is going for and eliminate those things that do not effect human beings.  Even after the enactment of the "War on Poverty" that Lyndon Johnson initiated, we were not spending near as much in the 1980's and 1990's as we are now.  We need to go on a spending diet!   


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Atheists


We read about the people who profess to be atheists, not believing that God exists, but I wonder really how many true atheists there are.  It is truly difficult to believe that anyone can live in and experience life with its physical surroundings and the multitude of marvelous attributes the earth and universe has to offer, and still formulate in their mind's eye a worldview without a Creator.
If it wasn't so tragic it would be humorous to watch a person who proclaims their atheism so publicly and proudly.  Tragic in that the person is such a defeatist with a pessimistic, negative viewpoint; that creates for himself a fatalistic worldview that everything eventually will end up into nothingness.  Humorous in that watching the person interact with the world around him using only the created earth and universe, from the microscopic, sub-atomic design that extends throughout the universe as the proof-text for his fatalistic worldview.
An atheist looks to a Christian and derides him because of his faith and acceptance in the Word of God as presented in the Bible.  The popular cry is to negate any proof of God's existence by using the Bible as a proof-text.  The atheist says of the Bible, "You cannot use something we don't accept as a proof to believe in something else we don't accept, the existence of God."
Yet, the atheist only has the planet earth, solar system, galaxies and universe to observe and deduce from their observations of the consistent design found therein that it somehow negates the existence of God.  To that so-called scientific method of observation, analysis and conclusion, as a Christian, I say, "You cannot use that method to prove something does not exist when you have not completed an exhaustive, complete observation and analysis with the apparent infinite number that exists, and reach a conclusion with such incomplete data."  In a matter so important as the existence of God it is not enough just to generalize from a sample of data to make inferences to the total number of possibilities that exist in the universe.
Any researcher knows that you must isolate variables and manipulate conditions to determine the effect on some dependent variable.  In a very controlled study the researcher can establish a set of independent variables to measure their effect on some dependent variable on which his research hypothesis rests.  It is a valid method to speculate that within this specific set of variables used in this particular research this independent variable had this much effect on the dependent variable and this other independent variable had this much effect.  But that is true for only that particular experiment.  Replication with similar results is required for even the smallest amount of "truth" to be sustained from any set of conditions.  From that method comes knowledge, and knowledge becomes cumulative over time and certain generalized inferences can be projected toward similar populations of datum.
Of course discovery is an important part of the "scientific-method" that leads people to make inferences.  Think back to the earliest times when men dreamed of flying.  Each person knew through observation, even before Sir Isaac Newton, that there was something that caused an object to fall from heights.  Things simply fell out of trees, or off of cliffs; if it was up higher than the ground it would eventually fall.  Someone, however, discovered that if air was heated and trapped by some kind of bladder it somehow defied the "falling" phenomenon and drifted up into the air.  Eventually balloons became a way to leave the ground; even they fell to earth when the air inside cooled. 
With each new discovery and each new application of that discovery it drives researchers to explore deeper into the new discovery and test it over and over for more applications.  With all that research into the effects of heat on air we learned we can have balloons of many different shapes, we can heat the air inside them in more than one way.  From that research came the knowledge that heated air rises; but not only rises, but rises consistently and with purpose.  Our inference was that generally, all air when heated will rise; and when trapped in something it will cause that to rise as well. 
Hundreds of years have passed since the balloon was researched and inferences made.  We make those kind of discoveries all the time, and make inferences about what we find here on earth, and now, even in space as we continue to reach out to make discoveries all the time.
The point is, somewhere, sometime in history someone made an inference that was invalid.  Somewhere someone said, "Oh, now that I know this about that, it must mean there is no God; no Creator."  Well, I believe that was an incorrect conclusion based on incomplete data at best, or irrelevant data at least.  
 The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome where he explained, "1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." (Romans 1:18-25)
Even in the days of Paul people needed to be reminded that God is a part of the human experience.  He has made Himself known in so many ways through His creation that we really do not have any excuse to believe or say that He does not exist.  For those who say that He does not exist are not basing their belief on any fact they have discovered, it is simply their deep-rooted faith that is based on a long line of inferences that have been proposed by those who have observed some cause and effect relationships in their observations and then pronounced such inferences.
Consequently, as with everything, whether there are true atheists or not depends on each individual and the choices they make.  I suppose in the end to be a practicing member of the church of atheism requires more faith than it does for the Christian to be a part of the Body of Christ.  After all, for a Christian it only takes a faith no larger than a mustard seed; but for the atheist it takes a faith large enough to overcome all the evidence of the entire universe.  Could anyone have that much faith?