Question: Journeying From Atheism To Faith



unfadinggrace asked:

How did you get to the point to being an atheist to now believing in Christ? What changed?

Hey there my friend: Here are a few thoughts on my journey from atheism to faith.  I know that we won’t see eye to eye on everything, and  maybe some of this will sound ridiculous or outlandish, but this is simply part of my discovery. I understand some will hate this or bring a reductionistic wit to bash it all, and that’s okay.  I hope we have at least enough humility to admit we’re all still learning.


– I found atheism to be completely untenable and unsustainable.

If I were to actually follow the logic of atheism down to the bottom, it would be an endless rabbit trail of contradictions.  No atheist truly lives out to their obvious conclusions, because no one really lives life as if there’s no meaning or it happened by accident or it’s a random blob of flesh and pebbles spinning off to nowhere. At some point, I had to realize as an atheist that I was being fundamentally dishonest.  A hypocrite.

And those who did follow it to the end either had to 1) stabilize it by smuggling in the morality of other worldviews, or 2) went insane and killed everything.  Any time your belief system needs to borrow outside itself, that’s a nail in the coffin.  And any time your belief system concludes with genocide or eugenics, you’re probably better off becoming a vegan Buddhist.


– I denied faith based on everything else except intellect.

Anyone who says they’re objectively denying the divine is only kidding themselves.  We have a ton of psychological, emotional, and historical reasons to hate the idea of faith.  Since the concept of a higher being immediately means I need to “submit” or “follow” or “surrender,” no one is ever objective to the idea of God.  We want it not to be true, so the deck is always stacked against faith.

I had to ask myself: If there was 100% intellectual proof for the existence of God, then what’s my real reason to deny His existence?  And when I was honest with myself, I found a lot of reasons not to want God to exist.  There were almost no reasons I wanted Him to be real.  Like Aldous Huxley, I wanted God to be non-existent because I wanted the mindless sex and no authority.  I had to be honest about my bias first.  I came into belief kicking and screaming, or like C.S. Lewis said, “The most reluctant convert in all of England.”  In the end, there are plenty of intellectual reasons that Christianity is true; I find it to be both intellectually satisfying and stimulating.  But we need to be honest about why we think it’s false, and perhaps we can begin to doubt those doubts.


– Even when I didn’t think Christianity was true, I found it to be true. 

For the record, I’m still very much a skeptical person.  I need to see first, to be empirical and objective and analytical.  I get weirded out by those miracle testimonies.  I still struggle with the “spiritual gifts” and “spiritual warfare” because I tend to think these things are made-up or psychosomatic.  I have no hidden agenda to think that Jesus is who he said he is.

But of course: If any system of belief can accommodate best for what happens in the world, then it’s probable this belief holds the weight of truth in itself.  As my kindred brother C.S. Lewis says, if hunger exists, then so must food; if thirst exists, so must water.  The scientific method finds a consistency in correlations, or that certain properties explain others, or that a theory has to illuminate why a certain thing happens.  I just happen to think the universe does have a Creator who is involved, and that the divine is knowable and personal and good.  Instead of formulating a theology,  it felt more like I had stumbled upon Him.  I believe our spiritual thirst and hunger points to something greater.  I believe our concern for justice and our outrage at evil and our need for wholeness points to one who heals.  I know we won’t all agree on that one: but I hope we would at least never stop being curious and to ride that discovery to the end.  I think there, we could all find Him, and maybe realize He has been looking for us.

— J.S.




Also consider reading:

– You’re a “Skeptical Christian”?

– Why Do You Believe In Jesus?

– Why Christianity?

– How Are You An “Atheist Christian”?

– Come On, Were You Really An Atheist?

 

And here are a few on defending the faith:

– Why Is Jesus Right And Others Wrong?

– How Do You Defend Your Faith?


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10 thoughts on “Question: Journeying From Atheism To Faith

    1. I read some of it. It’s quite an interesting read.

      I would agree with the general sentiment here: that I also find the Bible has some strange wonky areas where certain numbers, dates, events, and historical facts seem out of order, or at least phrased in a non-omnipotent way.

      However, I have found just as many rational defenses for each of these problematic areas, and mostly it’s the biblical author having been mistranslated or misconstrued. Which is a weakness, I admit. But even the thing about “beating up a slave” in Exodus 21 has a simple grammatical fix that puts all the blame on the slave-owner. With a few digs into the original text, there is room for a response to every one of these concerns in the text.

      Which leads us to a crossroad. One side is saying, “The Bible is wrong here.” The other side is saying, “Your interpretation is wrong.” So in the end, if both sides have about the same amount of ammo for their offense and defense, where do you turn? If there is a roughly equal pile of intellectual scaffolding for and against the Bible, then it’s really an individual decision to trust it, or not. And I can’t judge either way. I just know for myself what I ought to do.

      This is probably why I (and people like me) tend to piss off both sides, because I acknowledge that both sides have very strong arguments that sound equally plausible. But what I trust most is that the Bible so accurately describes the human condition. There’s not much doubt about that. I read the Bible and wonder if God has been reading my mail. And the Bible offers an astounding solution to so many of humanity’s problems, that it’s hard to deny there’s a power at work. Of course, that’s still not an argument. But I think the arguing is irrelevant; there’s a greater question at stake in the first place.

      “My most recent faith struggle is not one of intellect. I don’t really do that anymore. Sooner or later you just figure out there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and there are some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care.”

      — Donald Miller

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      1. Wow, great response, as usual! I agree that it’s an interpretation/need to be right issue. I ADORE that Donald Miller quote!

        Thanks for taking the time to give me such a thoughtful response, J.S. 🙂

        -C

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        1. Thanks again! To be truthful, I’m really so jaded on the debate over apologetics. I’ve watched the best of them go at it, and I nod my head at both. Super smart guys saying complex smart things! My synapses firing at big words! They use the same rhetoric, it’s like a script. “Try to keep an open mind here. It’s possible you’re wrong. The evidence shows that ___. I see what you’re saying but ___. That’s called the ___ fallacy. Straw-man, straw-man, straw-man.” And both cheering sections say, “My guy won!” Yawn. I would love to have hung out with Hitchens while he was still alive. Outside of debates, he seems like a dude I could have a drink with.

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          1. Yep, the debate really is tiresome. I stop by Finding Truth’s site from time to time just to see what the latest worn-out topic could be. What has distressed me most has not been any sort of intellect, but outright hatred on BOTH sides. It has grieved my heart to read the careless and hate-filled words of Christians as they supposedly are attempting to witness these people into the Kingdom. Over and over again (when I read through the comments) I’m left thinking, “Jesus would never talk this way.” It absolutely breaks my heart – I expect the atheists to attack and wound, but when the supposed Christians do it, I don’t understand.

            -C

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  1. “No atheist truly lives out to their obvious conclusions, because no one really lives life as if there’s no meaning or it happened by accident or it’s a random blob of flesh and pebbles spinning off to nowhere.”

    I think there’s a misunderstanding in the quote above between the concepts of an “accident” and the “inexplicable.” It is perfectly acceptable to accept inexplicable things–as well as accidental things–as they occur in our lives. Creation isn’t an accident: it’s inexplicable. There’s a huge gap there. And that gap isn’t automatically filled with a Christian God, or anything. That’s why it’s inexplicable. To say it’s an accident is to straw-man the atheist argument.

    Many people really do live life as if existence itself were inexplicable. And the inexplicability of existence is in no way a denial of the meaning of life or of the meaning of living a good life. Please, be clear here.

    Thanks,

    Tim

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  2. I have long maintained that the root of “atheism” is actually rebellion, a desire not to submit to our Creator. Thanks for expressing that so understandably.

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