Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The atheist and the lion

Author: Paulo Coelho

An atheist is going through a forest in Africa, filled with admiration for everything created by that “accident of evolution”.

“But what majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals! And all this happened by chance, without anyone interfering! Only the weak and ignorant, afraid they cannot explain their own lives and the universe, feel the need to attribute all these marvels to a superior entity!”

There is a noise in the bushes behind him; a lion is about to pounce on him. He tries to flee, but the animal knocks him over.

With nothing else to lose, he shouts out: “My God!”

And a miracle happens: time stops, the atmosphere is drenched in a strange light, and a voice is heard:
“What do you want? You have denied my existence for all these years, you have taught others that I do not exist, and you reduced Creation to a “cosmic accident”.

Quite confused, the man exclaims:
“It would be hypocritical of me to change my mind just because I am about to die. All my life I have preached that You do not exist.”

“So, what do you expect me to do?”

The atheist reflected for a moment, knowing that the discussion could not last forever. Finally he says:
“I can’t change, but the lion can. So, I ask the Lord to change this wild, murderous beast into a Christian animal!”

Right there and then, the light disappears, the birds in the forest renew their singing, and the river begins to flow again. T

The lion climbs off the man, pauses, lowers its head, and says very earnestly:
“Lord, I am ever so grateful for Your generosity, for this food that I am about to eat…”

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