Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Monday, April 16, 2007

Request for cases

Does anyone know of any examples, historical or from their own lives, of an explicit atheist who converted back to Christianity?

And I am not talking here about the typical cases of so-called "atheists" who refused to believe because they "hated God," "didn't like organized religion" or somesuch nonsense that Christians trot out in order to try to convince us. I mean actual atheists who did not believe in God at all, and were conscious of that fact.

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At 4/16/2007 7:58 PM, Blogger Robert declaimed...

According to many accounts, Lew Wallace, the author of 'Ben-Hur' was either an agnostic or atheistic. He supposedly developed a faith in God and accepted Jesus as his savior while writing the novel.

Don't know if it's accurate, but it is a widely believed view. When I was in the Air Force, a very Christian officer used it as an example to show that there was still hope for me!

Hope this helps, Bob B

At 4/16/2007 9:57 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

See, that makes me suspicious right away, because ALL of the examples of ex-atheists I have heard from Christians are of the "I hate God/organized religion" variety- just frustrated seculars or even frustrated Christians. I would require actual evidence that Lew Wallace was an atheist and not just a frustrated secular who still believed in God.

At 4/17/2007 12:47 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I'm not, but I'd be very hesitant to use such a list for rhetorical purposes; as an apostate myself, one of the easiest responses to my apostasy is the claim that I was never an "actual" Christian.

At 4/17/2007 2:23 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

I understand, but I am not saying that atheists who convert were not "real atheists" simply because they converted. I say that because I have read many such stories and they almost invariably display a profound ignorance of what atheism is, talking about "hating God" or "hating religion" instead of not believing in them. Indeed, it seems that those ex-atheists were the most Christian of all!

At 4/17/2007 12:19 PM, Blogger Roe declaimed...

There is an engineer that was an atheist and eventually converted to Christianity and wrote a book about it. The book is really just psudo science trying to be tough enough to convert the average moron. I wish I could be more specific about the guys name or the title of the book but I never read it, my family gave it to me after I told them I was an atheist like 6 years ago.

At 4/17/2007 1:08 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

Francis Collins perhaps?

At 4/17/2007 7:19 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

According to an interview, Francis Collins was indeed an explicit atheist. From what I have seen, I would count that as a valid case.

Any others?

At 4/17/2007 7:47 PM, Blogger Macht declaimed...

Alister McGrath.

At 4/17/2007 9:55 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

And now it’s time for “Fun With the Testament of Alister McGrath”

“Of course, back in the Sixties, everyone who mattered was telling us that religion was dead. I was an atheist then.”

It was popular, and I was conforming like a good little follower.

“Growing up as a Protestant in Northern Ireland, I had come to believe religion was the cause of the Province's problems.”

I was indoctrinated, but I had a grudge against religious institutions.

“While I loved studying the sciences at school, they were important for another reason: science disproved God.”

Since I believed that metaphysical imaginary beings needed to be disproved, I still believed that they could exist. My motivation for studying science indicates a deep denial of my own religious feelings and needs for belonging and acceptance.

“I gave up one belief, atheism, and embraced another, Christianity. Why? There were many factors. For a start, I was alarmed by some atheist writings, which seemed more preoccupied with rubbishing religion than seeking the truth. “

Since some atheist writings disturbed my sensibilities, my true religious nature with all of its indoctrinated insecurities began to surface from beneath the layer of denial.

“Above all, I encountered something at Oxford that I had failed to meet in Northern Ireland - articulate Christians who were able to challenge my atheism.”

Rather than adopt any other irrational belief, I stuck with the one I knew from childhood and got instant friends.

“Many people discover God decades after they have ceased believing in the Tooth Fairy.”

Never mind that this is a rediscovery of thoroughly preached and assimilated dogma. This still means that I did not just adopt this belief because of the void left by the removal of Santa Claus, I mean God, from my fragile and deliberately manufactured belief system.

“Most of us are aware that we hold many beliefs we cannot prove to be true. It reminds us that we need to treat those who disagree with us with intellectual respect, rather than dismissing them - as Dawkins does - as liars, knaves and charlatans.

But when I debated these points with him, Dawkins seemed uncomfortable. I was not surprised to be told that my contribution was to be cut.”

I thought my Ad Hominem attacks were appropriate under the circumstances, and do not understand why they were not treated as valid contributions to the discourse. I also don’t seem to know how not to break a paragraph, despite a carefully noted Oxford education.

“Maybe that's why some of the fiercest attacks on The God Delusion are coming from other atheists, rather than religious believers. Michael Ruse, who describes himself as a 'hardline Darwinian' philosopher, confessed that The God Delusion made him 'embarrassed to be an atheist'.”

Or maybe he called himself a Sartrean Scientist, I was a little drunk at the time, but I’m sure that there was more than one of him. In any event, I feel quite safe in calling him “other atheists”.

“Aware of the moral obligation of a critic of religion to deal with this phenomenon at its best and most persuasive, many atheists have been disturbed by Dawkins's crude stereotypes and seemingly pathological hostility towards religion. In fact, The God Delusion might turn out to be a monumental own goal - persuading people that atheism is just as intolerant as the worst that religion can offer.”

These are not even, properly speaking, sentences, and I am not sure why or if I wrote them. I am sure that the ambiguous “many” of whom I speak would be proud to have me as a spokesman. If any one of them knows what I meant by “this phenomenon”, please e-mail me

As always, thanks for playing. Grab a copy of the Home Game on your way out.



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