Any Ex Atheists Here?


(Lauren) #1

Hi all,

Are there any former militant atheists on this forum? If so, how and why did you convert to Christianity?
I’m a reluctant agnostic. I long to believe in God and to follow Christ, but I’m plagued with relentless doubt.
I’m always worried that materialism is right and that nothing beyond the norm exists. If that is correct then there is no point in anything at all and I find that thought bleak and depressing.

The idea of the Christian God comforts me deeply and I really want to let go and believe but I dont know how to.


(Casper Hesp) #2

@Sy_Garte and @Reggie_O_Donoghue are two former atheists that come to mind, perhaps they could be of help!


(sy_garte) #3

Wow @LaurieLuLu that sounds exactly like me about 20 years ago. I grew up as a militant atheist, and gradually decided that what I was learning in science (I am a biologist) wasn’t consistent with a purely philosophical naturalistic view point. I began to see that even science, (the observer effect in QM, and other facts of physics, as well as some of the immense complexities of biology) was suggesting something more than a perfectly rational, logical world. I was also curious about beauty, love, art, and all the human essentials, that seemed to be outside of pure naturalism.

And like you I longed for some kind of spirituality (which I had been deprived of growing up). I investigated some religions, including some new agey stuff. Nothing satisfied me. I had had such negative training about Christianity that I never considered it.

But then a friend brought me to a Church. I was amazed at the love and kindness i found there. I felt myself moved, but still couldnt bring myself to believe. I was “plagued with relentless doubt”.

How Christ finally found me is a long story, but it involved some personal experiences that convinced me that Jesus was real, and was trying to reach me. It was like a building pressure, which I finally surrendered to, and the dam burst. When that happened, when I could actually say to myself “I believe” my whole life changed.

I still have doubts. Sometimes when I first enter my Church, I think “What am I doing here?” But that goes away pretty quickly. Now my faith is a central part of my life, even though I still do science and will never lose my scientific worldview, which now includes the knowledge that everything I study is part of God’s creation.

I found this Biologos Web site when it first began, and it has been an enormous help to me over the years. I even wrote a blog post back in 2010 called Stochastic Grace that talked about my journey (I think you can find it if you search for it). My suggestions are to look around and read some of the blogs. Here you will find people who have no doubt that naturalism is the best way to understand the world as God created it, and who also deeply believe in God, and in Jesus as their personal savior.

I also suggest you not worry about finding God, because if you let him, he will find you. The key is to be open and to listen closely for his call. It could come in a dream, or in a coincidence, or in the touch of a loved one, a smile from a stranger. And when it does come, and you recognize it for what it is, allow yourself to accept it. You will know it when it happens, and you will pray your thanks for the gift of faith you have been given. Until then, love the world and the people in it, and know that even if you don’t know God yet, he knows and loves you. Peace.


(Quincy Hansen) #4

Hi, Lauren!

I’m not an ex-atheist myself, but I have to agree with one of the points the @Sy_Garte brought up: God is already searching for you! I will pray for you, and I have faith that you and God will find each other and you can begin a relationship with Christ. I don’t think doubt is ever removed from any believer, but a strong faith is a natural fruit of the spirit. Myself, and likely many others who’ve read this, are very glad you want to know Jesus. Good luck on your journey, and blessings throughout your life!


(Mervin Bitikofer) #5

How many ex-atheists are here also depends on what an atheist is. Many atheists now seem to object to being characterized as having an actual positive belief system that is in any way based on something called atheism. They insist that this makes no more sense than all of us running around calling ourselves a-astrologists or a-santa-ists or a-whatever else we don’t happen to believe in. And on such an account they claim that all babies or children too young to think about such things are then simply atheists by default. That outlook would then see all theistic believers as being “ex-atheists”.


#6

That’s pretty close to the general attitude among the atheists I have talked to. To put it another way, it’s a bit tough to define a group of people by which sports they don’t participate in. Is there a common theme among people who don’t play golf? Probably not. Defining a group by what they don’t believe is probably not as helpful as defining them by what they do believe.

As to kids being ex-atheists, I think the only point being made is if someone was marooned on an island all by themselves as a small child they probably wouldn’t become a Christian (or insert your religion of choice) since they had never heard of it before. Could that child develop some belief in the divine or supernatural? Perhaps.


(Kendal Howard) #7

Lauren, hello. I’m not an ex-atheist. I started following Jesus in 2012. I got heavy into apologetics and was always on the prowl to defend Christianity. 1 Peter 3:15 was my motto. This year, I went through a significant change in my walk where there was a lot of deconstruction and reconstruction (which is still ongoing). I’ll tell you that I don’t think doubt is a lack of faith. I think faith (trust) is a journey. So in our lives, we make our own choices and decisions and walk in the direction we want. But encountering Jesus, it’s not that you reach a dogmatic climax. It’s like him saying the way to life is this way; walk in this direction. So it’s switching journeys or giving our journey a new direction with hope and life. I love to see it as a journey because knowledge is a journey as well and I don’t have to be afraid of rejection because I’ll always be wrong or mistaken about something. I’ve moved to a stage in my life where I’ve moved from proving to sharing. Meaning that I’m over trying to prove things. But I’ll share if someone asks or I’ll share in a way of humility. I’ve moved from dogmatism with a lot of things but one thing I’m convinced of is Jesus’ existence. Historically verifiable. And the following events after his execution convinces me that he really did rise again (even though that’s hard to believe and isn’t observable or can be tested). I don’t want to make this post super long so I won’t go into those things but what keeps me going is that and also that our experiences deny the material world is all there is. We long, we love, we’re moral. I was just thinking about yesterday how other species (even our close ape relatives) do things like eat their young or kill their own kind, etc and it’s perfectly normal. But if our species were to do that, it would be highly immoral. I think that sense of justice and morality is unique amongst us. Also I think about why there is something at all instead of nothing, and that we have conciousness to realize it and appreciate it and participate in it. When I think about life, it just screams purpose and intention. Sometimes faith (trust) is letting go and believing, even when you don’t have your questions answered or understand. We don’t always have to have everything figured out. Me being the analytical person that I am, that’s hard for me, but it’s a journey of trust that I’m walking with God; trusting that he loves me and is guiding me even when unbeknownst to me.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #10

I’ll admit I’m still somewhat on the fence of things, I’m definitely not a ‘militant’ atheist like I once was.


(Robin) #11

I do not know that I was militant…and I have gone through various phases in life. But I did move from not believing in much of anything – and rather resisting it – to believing in God – and also that Jesus is God.

Since I did not “preach it,” I suppose you cannot say I was militant. I believed in letting other people alone. The atheists or New Atheists who are really militant these days – it seems to me that they believe but are fighting it. Most of their arguments are emotion-based.

Relentless doubt – as you call it – can be a good thing. But no one stays a “doubter” for ever. Even atheists have faith in something. It just happens to be the wrong thing. So continue your study and your search. We believe in lots of things we cannot see. When it comes to God, we can see what He does at least…


#12

Hi Laurie - My parents were not church goers and I wasn’t raised in any religion. While I can’t say I was ever atheist, I was certainly an agnostic until grad school. While working on my PhD in molecular biology I started taking a serious look at abiogenesis (how life began from non-living material) and was disturbed that science really couldn’t explain it. I became Jewish and eventually found my way to Christianity.


(Christy Hemphill) #13

@Yankeefan Welcome to the forum!


(George Brooks) #14

@Reggie_O_Donoghue

I’d love to be able to coax you down from that uncomfortable fence line.
If you were a militant atheist once, I assume that you agree that neurological activity in the brain is more than sufficient to explain the workings of the human mind, right?

And so you are not surprised if experiments show that a decision in the brain can happen without awareness of the decision until a second or two after the decision was actually made (below the level of awareness). So… awareness or consciousness is not actually necessary for these neural conclusions to occur. Once you are at this momentous cross-roads all you have to ask yourself is:

Are you conscious because:
1) the Universe wants you to be consicous

** or**

2) Because God wants you to be conscious?

I think the former position is hilarious and begging the question. While the latter position is so compelling, I have no longer worry over the issue of a Universal Awareness.


(T J Runyon) #15

I’m a recent Christian convert. I wouldn’t say I was militant. I always thought theism was a rational position I just thought the evidence for metaphysical naturalism, the position I held, outweighed the evidence for theism. What led me to converting was just an honest pursuit of the truth. I came across papers that seemed to weaken arguments I once thought as strong and papers presenting stronger versions of arguments I thought were weak. Richard Swinburne was very influential in my thinking. As well as the Mcgrews. I still don’t have everything figured out and I think theism still has problems answering some things but I’m looking into these areas. Just an honest pursuit of the truth. Also even as a metaphysical naturalist I denied materialism and I was and still am a property dualist. Atheism != materialism.