I'm sure there are quite a few people who would say: "I also believe in God". The son in the far country also believed; his problem was not atheism; he had never doubted the existence of the Father; his problem was that he was far from God, far from the Father!
Well - he had wasted his fortune in the meantime - a great famine came over that country. And He was starving too! Many people in today's world are starving; I am now thinking not (only) of physical hunger, but especially of spiritual hunger! Some simply try to repress it, even deny it, or otherwise breastfeed it, but many ask themselves about the meaning of life, lose all joie de vivre, suffer from depression, from mental deficiency.
This is no wonder, for Jesus had said, "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35). But this bread existed only in the Father's house. There the Son - and with him many others - did not (yet) want to go back. He tried to find a solution to his problems through his former friends, and one also took care of him, but how! He sent him to look after the pigs! He could hardly fall any lower as a Jew; and he even tried to feed on pig feed.
Now he led a life of solitude. A life without God makes you lonely! You can numb it in various forms. But in the end, especially when it comes to the end, you are alone. And many people remain in this state until the end of their lives. They do not return to their father's house.
The parable, however, goes further, shows one possibility.
The son became aware; he said to himself: "I am starving here, while in my father's house even the day labourers have bread in abundance". While until now he had oriented himself outside, as it were, he was now »in himself«. He came to himself!
This is truly not the case with all those who have left the Father's house, often even thrown faith in God and His Son overboard! But it is always interesting for me that many of these people seem not to be let go of the question about God, even if they fight the faith! Why are they not happy, or at least satisfied, when they have finally freed themselves from faith? You may regret the naive believers, but why the repeated attacks? Why does this God and this Christ not let go of many? They are often very tolerant of all kinds of esoteric thoughts and spiritual ideas, but in the Bible and its utterances many become aggressive and hurtful.
I think such persons still have not become »free« from the knowledge of the father and the fatherhouse!