An ex-atheist finds faith in God after more than twenty years of skepticism. Learn about the discoveries that led to Jesus Christ.
by A.S.A. Jones
I was a devout atheist for over twenty years. I finally managed to see the biblical truths that had managed to elude me. The following is an account of how I went from hardcore skepticism to hardcore worship of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
RATIONAL THOUGHT REPLACES THE GOD OF MY YOUTH
I was raised a Roman Catholic in a home where the name of Jesus Christ and God was never mentioned. I was encouraged to attend catechism and church every weekend, but the concept of God was never made completely real to me. I entertained the notion as any child would, but I just wasn’t into the imaginary friend scene and by the time I was thirteen, I had concluded that God was merely a vicious adult version of the Easter bunny. I abandoned the lie, informed my upset parents that I would no longer be attending church, and began seeking truth.
In the absence of a religious belief to answer life’s questions, I turned my mental energy to science. Science had an awesome track record of solving many problems and its resulting technology had provided tangible benefits to all of mankind. Science was the answer! I reasoned that if we could educate our populations and continue to make advances in medicine, agriculture and energy production, we would one day have the mythical Eden as our reality.
I threw myself into my studies, determined to become a scientific messiah who would one day deliver people from the bondage of disease. At the age of sixteen, my IQ and my grades made me eligible for my high school’s early release program and I began my studies in biology and chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh.
RATIONAL THOUGHT REPLACES MY COMPASSION FOR OTHERS
I graduated from college with high honors and my prized science degree, but I had lost any motivation to apply that knowledge. I recalled staring at a swarming mass of termites one sunny day, thinking that, from a comparative distance, there was little difference between them and us. I smashed a few dozen with my shoe and ground them into the dirt. What did it matter if these died? What did it matter if they all died? People died every day. The end result would always be death for both the individuals and, eventually, the species.
Humanity had become nothing more to me than an organized network of molecules and enzymes. I viewed people as mere organisms going through their daily routines of metabolizing nutrients and expelling wastes, ovulating their eggs and ejaculating their semen. I knew the psychology of humans almost as well as their anatomies. The hidden things that pulled them this way and that were very evident to me. They were like guinea pigs, only more predictable, and my chief form of entertainment was to see how skillfully I could manipulate them. I knew that I was supposed to care about them, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. If mankind’s goal was to alleviate its own suffering, a bullet to the head was more efficient and made more sense in my thinking than screwing around with medication or disease control.
What was the point of prolonging any one life? What difference did it make if a girl didn’t live to marry or her mother live to see it? Of what value were temporary emotional experiences? They were simply the biochemistry of the brain reacting to sensory input and, upon that individual’s death, any remaining memory of that experience would be thrown away along with the person who had experienced it. My extreme point of view had reduced people into throwaway metabolic units; I had become as cold and indifferent as the logic that I exalted.
If my education would benefit anyone, it would benefit me. I passed up an offer of a low paying research position for a secure and higher paying job in a chemistry lab. My brain rotted there for 40 hours a week for 10 years.
RATIONAL THOUGHT TURNS FROM SCIENCE TO PHILOSOPHY
Science had done nothing to answer the questions that raged in my head. Why should I care? How much should I care? Should I care at all? What is my purpose in life? Is there a purpose? How can I love people? Should I love people? Which people should I love? How can I forgive people? Should I forgive people? Have I done what is right? Have I done what is wrong? Is there a right or a wrong?
I turned to philosophy. I started with Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Being and Nothingness”. This man had won a Nobel Prize for basically taking white and logically demonstrating how it was really black. I tried several other atheist philosophers who tried to assign meaning to a life created by chance and I decided that they were all full of crap. If our life is the result of randomness and chance, it is meaningless, no matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
That was fine with me. I was prepared to live my life by this truth and discovered that the prospect of a life without meaning can be a very freeing experience. I set out to take advantage of moral relativism and effectively destroyed any of my remaining conscience. Friends, let me tell you, I fell far, far away, but I didn’t know it. I busied myself with one diversion after another, trying to fill my life with meaningless activity in order to forget how meaningless it was. In my desperation, I grew self-righteous and indignant. I was secretly envious of the morons who seemed blissfully unaware of their own meaninglessness. I wanted to shake them awake and get them to see how worthless their lives really were.
MY PHILOSOPHY TURNS ANTI-CHRISTIAN
The worst idiots were the Christians. I hated them because, in their ignorance of naturalism, they failed to see that there was no reason for the rest of the world to believe in their god, live by their standards or give a damn about what they had to say, yet there they were, acting as if they had a copyright on truth. Their pretentiousness sickened me, despite my being equally pretentious toward them. After all, I was justified in my pretentiousness! At least I could give logical reasons for not believing in the supernatural. I would challenge them to give reasons for believing in something that couldn’t be seen and they would reply, “You can’t see the wind but it’s there.” I would then try to explain to them that wind was created by differences in pressure and that there was plenty of scientific proof for the existence of wind but none for their god. Even the most intelligent Christians I knew had a difficult time articulating their reason for faith.
Most of the explanations I heard rested on the Bible’s authority. “The Bible says… the Bible says… the Bible says.” Who cared what the Bible said? I certainly didn’t. “It’s all a bunch of made up, superstitious baloney. Can’t you see?” and I would then go into pagan origins, etc., and try to demonstrate that Jesus was a manufactured myth. I ended up knowing the Bible inside and out just to be able to debate against it.
My anti-Christian arguments became my ultimate diversion to a hopeless life. I learned that religious debate wasn’t as much about truth as it was about language and presentation. I began seeing flaws in my own logic while trying to demonstrate certain instances of Biblical errancy, but that didn’t keep me on the bench. To justify my desire to destroy Christianity, I had to find reasons to discredit it. I railed against its hypocrisy, the behavior of its followers, the wars fought in its name and I questioned the motives of its bloody god and the religion’s effective outcome. In short, I began seeing it as the supreme evil, despite the fact that my own view of moral relativism did not permit a logical defense of the concept of evil.
THE PARADOX OF BIBLICAL JABBERWOCKY
One night, I was very tired and alone in my study. I didn’t reach, as I usually did, for a book of religious argument. I grabbed Lewis Carroll’s “Through The Looking Glass”, plopped myself down in a comfy chair and sleepily began reading. I skimmed through the pages and stopped at Humpty Dumpty’s explanation of ‘Jabberwocky’ to Alice. A thought occurred to me that if I were to read ‘Jabberwocky’ the same way I read the bible, it wouldn’t make any sense at all. I put Carroll’s book aside, folded my hands and stared at the wall, lost in thought.
The Bible didn’t make sense to me. But why did it make sense to others? What were they seeing that I didn’t? Did they so desperately want there to be a God that they had deluded themselves into thinking that there was one? It was New Year’s Day, 1998. I made a resolution to read the entire Bible again, only this time I was going to read it as I would poetry or fiction, and not as a proposal of fact.
In the months that followed, I kept my resolution and I began noticing a change in my way of interpreting the Bible. Intellectually, I found that my mind could logically accept two very different interpretations of almost everything I was reading. One interpretation of any verse or passage would render the whole story as nonsensical. But the other interpretation allowed the whole story to make sense.
If my mind was capable of accepting interpretations that allowed the whole book to make sense, then what was it in me that wanted it not to make sense? This book was reading me as surely as I was reading it. What was I doing when I condemned this god for commanding Moses to kill? Was I arrogantly making my morality superior to that of the being who allegedly authored all of morality? Was I condemning the actions of an entire nation, which was trapped in a kill or be killed situation? What was it in me that wanted to express outrage at Jesus Christ for telling me that I had to give away everything to be considered worthy to follow him? Was it my own selfishness?
For weeks, I was on a high, the type of high that comes about by feeling that one is on the edge of making some sort of profound discovery. I wasn’t sure what I was discovering but my perception of this world was changing. In July, I read these words of Jesus Christ, understanding them for the first time after having read them for years; “Who do you say I am?”
I SEE IT!
What I had to say about who Christ was, said more about me than it did about Him.
At this moment, I saw it. I saw what the truth of the Bible was! And I was humbled. More than humbled, I was broken. The truth wasn’t about cud chewing bunnies or how much precipitation fell during Noah’s flood. It was the truth about human nature and our efforts to rise above it! It was the truth about human spirit being led by divine spirit! It was the truth about each of us, imperfect in our love for one another, needing to be made complete by the perfect love of God! The truth was about how one man, without sin, had died for us so that we could live! The truth of the Bible was and is JESUS CHRIST!
The moment I was made aware of my despicable nature, I realized that Jesus had died for me. I never had recognized sin and, therefore, thought that Christ had died for nothing. But this man was able to see the horrible nature present in all of humanity and yet he had sacrificed himself to save us from ourselves. In a very real sense, my sinful nature had caused the death of an innocent man. I never believed in hell prior to this, but one of my first thoughts, after seeing how hellish a person that I was, was that I deserved to be in it.
I had been a fool. I had paraded around, thinking myself to be the sophisticate, oblivious to the trail of toilet paper clinging to my shoe. For the first time in my life, I became aware of my soul and how dirty it was when the light of Christ fell upon it. My accusing finger turned around and pointed right back at me. I sucked! Christianity wasn’t what was wrong with the world! A lack of education wasn’t what was wrong with the world! I was what was wrong with the world. I began praying for forgiveness to a god whose existence I had thought was intellectually indefensible. But He was very, very real.
The more I emptied myself of myself, the clearer the truth became. It had been my own selfish sin that had kept me from seeing it before. Jesus Christ became my God and my grand obsession, and for many months, I spent hours with my mind locked in meditation, trying to connect with Him in a more tangible way. I wasn’t disappointed. There is a point that one can reach in prayer where there is nothing at all left of oneself, and it is in that moment that God makes Himself known.
A NEW CREATURE
I had been dead for years but now I was born again! I no longer saw people as a sum of their components or this life as a meaningless exercise, but I now saw both as something more valid than my rational thought had allowed. I had spent most of my years examining life, crouched over and focused on the microscope of logic, incapable of seeing the Big Picture that was going on around me.
For me, Biblical truth wasn’t verified through historical accuracy, inerrancy or reliability of the Gospels, because my initial assumptions didn’t include these things. I saw divine inspiration in the actual content of the words attributed to Jesus Christ. The fact that I, or anyone, was capable of understanding spiritual matters became my evidence for the soul.
Learning the things of the spirit dramatically changed my attitude and my outlook on life. It wasn’t that the information available to me had changed, but that my perception had changed and as a result, I was changed. I was dead, but Christ woke me up! He saved me from my selfish self and I have given myself to Him because I am thankful for that which He has given me and hopeful for that which He has promised.
I wasn’t born again yesterday.
Ms. Jones is married and a mother of three children. She has a B.S. in biology from the University of Pittsburgh.
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Revised: 25 May 2004 13:33:39 -0500.