Dr. Holly Ordway has published a book titled Not God’s Type, telling her personal story. She begins “I had never in my life said a prayer, never been to a church service. Christmas meant presents and Easter meant chocolate bunnies–nothing more.” But her views get hardened: “In college, I absorbed the idea that Christianity was historical curiosity, or a blemish on modern civilization, or perhaps both. My college science classes presented Christians as illiterate anti-intellectuals who, because they didn’t embrace Darwinism, threatened the advancement of knowledge. My history classes omitted or downplayed references to historical figures’ faith.” Still later, “At thirty-one years old, I was an atheist college professor–and I delighted in thinking of myself that way. I got a kick out of being an unbeliever; it was fun to consider myself superior to the unenlightened, superstitious masses, and to make snide comments about Christians.” (p. 15-16)
Ordway was a trained academic without a history in religion. But she was no disinterested intellectual: “There was something about the idea of faith that made it stick with me. I didn’t have faith, I didn’t want faith, but I felt compelled to have a good reason why not. I constructed an elaborate analogy for myself, one that I felt gave satisfying explanation of why ‘faith’ was impossible. . . I could not believe, no matter how much I might want to . . .I thought ‘faith’ was a meaningless word, that so-called believers were either hypocrites or self-deluded fools, and that it was a waste of time to consider any claim that Christians made about the truth. . . . I didn’t want to deal with that. Easier by far to read only books by atheists that told me what I wanted to hear: that I was smarter and more intellectually honest and morally superior than the poor, deluded Christians. I had built myself a fortress of atheism, secure against any attack by irrational faith.” (p. 17-18)
Ordway had carefully built up a defense, but not so careful as to protect her mind from the ideas of the great English poets. She speaks of being surprised by such writers as John Keats, John Donne, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, men who wrote of a beautiful concept: hope.
The rest of Ordway’s book tells of her meeting a fencing coach that she trusted, a person who she did not discover was a Christian until after she had begun working with him. He and his wife merely answered her questions, not pressing anything religious on her. Ordway was intellectually honest enough to investigate the sources, and when she asked for reasonable works on the resurrection of Jesus, she was given N. T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, 740 pages of scholarly examination. She reads Lewis’ Surprised By Joy, and Does God Exist? by Kreeft and Moreland, among others.
Both Ordway and C. S. Lewis were credentialed professors of literature before becoming Christians. Both were committed atheists who had created intellectual defenses against belief in Jesus. However, there was far more to the story of Jesus, “I read through the Gospel narratives again, trying to take in what they said. I had to admit that — even apart from everything else I had learned — I recognized that they were fact, not story. I’d been steeped in folklore, fantasy, legend, and myth ever since I was a child, and I had studied these literary genres as an adult; I knew their cadences, their flavor, their rhythm. None of these stylistic fingerprints appeared in the New Testament books that I was reading.” (p. 117)
So here we have a trained, experienced, atheist professor of literature, who if anything knows a myth when she sees it, declaring that it is not such, but rather “The Gospels had the ineffable texture of history, with all the odd clarity of detail that comes when the author is recounting something so huge that even as he tells it, he doesn’t see all the implications.” (p. 117) Like Lewis, who was a professor of literature at Oxford and Cambridge, Ordway made the conclusion as an expert in literature, that the New Testament was a generally reliable historical account of the historical Jesus.
Ordway gives a very personal account of what it was like to be changed, speaking of how difficult and fearful it was for her to change her beliefs and become a Christian, “It is a hard thing to look at the truth when it runs contrary to what you’ve always believed. The experience is like pulling back the curtains in a dimly lit room and looking out the window to see what’s really inside. When your eyes are used to artificial light, the bright sunlight is almost blinding; your eyes may sting and even water at the brightness, and the temptation is to turn away to the more comfortable dimness.”
But in the end she knew her intellectual drive for truth could not let her turn away. She knew she was drawn to the truth, that the New Testament is true and Jesus is real.
I mean this question seriously.
Why should I care that someone changed religion? It’s quite common.
Authentic question deserves an authentic response. I would venture to say just changing religions is indeed not a story worthy of response. But in our pluralistic age where religions are seen as merely optional tack ons to personal lifestyle choices available – this is news. She is saying, those who do not adequately engage with the truth claims, the historicity of the Jesus story and its implication – may be therefore fundamentally choosing to live outside the framework of reality. Its not a religion she is choosing, but the discovery of the way the world really is. And discovering also that western pluralistic cultural may well be legitimating a kind of dishonesty and blindness that is seriously dysfunctional. The fact that someone of credentials and mindset has come to a different way of seeing everything provides an amber light to the passing traffic of everyday people saying – whoa there. Just pause and think, take stock. As long as we all just keep doing whatever we’re normally doing, we could actually be really missing the very heart of life simply because we didn’t intentionally open our heart and mind and do the work of looking,learning, listening and engaging the story of Jesus.
Wow. Good answer.
Accurate, beautiful way of assessing the article AND answering the question, imho.
I appreciate your response but… they all say that in one way or another no matter what religion or belief they came from and changed toward. After reading the story there is nothing new here.
Of course, you will find “nothing new” if you don’t want to find something new. To me it is an amazing thing when an avowed intellectual atheist uses her powers of reason to discredit God and in so doing, discovers His realness.
Sorry. Insults aren’t necessary. That’s how I take your first sentence.
I’ve heard a thousand of these stories. From Christian to atheist and vice versa. From buddhist to Christian. From atheist to Muslim. From one Christian to another. I don’t see everyone writing a book. There world be thousands in English a year alone. They all think they are rational and different.
The fact she is a professor is irrelevant. Claims are true, or false, or indeterminate for reasons other than who said it.
I’d love to see something new but there isn’t.
I’m happy for her personal journey just as I am happy for most anyone’s personal journey. But there isn’t intellectual new ground here as far as I can see. If there is let me know.
Difficult to understand what you mean by ‘intellectual new ground’ and how you can discount that there isn’t any in her analysis.
There may possibly be ‘intellectual new ground’ (at large, or for you, since you did not specify for whom) in the detail of her analysis. The only way to know for sure is to actually consider her analysis in detail.
But, you are right that the article won’t cover this, because it is only a summary of her story, which includes her personal response.
To draw a conclusion that there is no intellectual new ground
(if you are truly looking for it) without you actually considering in detail how she analysed the texts appears to be intellectual laziness.
My comments are based on more than this article. Please. If there is something new present it.
Atheism is a belief system, not a science as it is based in an unproven assumption.
I’m not quite sure what is so important about intellectual novelty. Generally novelty isn’t a high indicator that something is true. Especially when there is supposedly some genuinely new thought about a subject that is very old. However it is possible that Holly’s story may have some new facets, but you would have to actually read the book, not this internet blurb to know that. On the other hand while truth is truth, no matter who says it, I believe a witnesses credentials do go to the question of credibility. When a team of physicists recently published their discovery of the Higgs boson I sat up and took notice, though I wasn’t entirely unskeptical. On the other hand if a high school janitor made the same claim I doubt I would have had the same reaction. This is an extreme example, but I still am more apt to listen when an intelligent person expresses a well thought out opinion, than to an incoherent screed by someone who obviously put no thought into it. This is the more especially true when the thoughtful person is confirming what other thoughtful people have discovered, and the screed revolves around some novelty.
Sure. Intellectual novelty doesn’t equal truth. That said, I started asking why I should care about what amounts to a typical story. Intellectual novelty would be one reason. Another person suggested that without using those exact words. I disagree.
Love your response Craig, very well thought out….
And that is all conjecture and hogwash. Firstly the idea that the world is accountable to Jesus is a myth, out of 7 billion, 4 are christian, does that mean the rest are wrong? Secondly, regardless of what theists tend to think, facts are often not fact without evidence, so where someone might claim Jesus was alive, this could be backed by a record of him, so we can realistically say he existed (even I as an atheist believes that he existed) but to claim anything else of jesus is simply dishonest. Thirdly to claim that christianity shows the world as it is, is to completely ignore all evidence to the contrary, in fact most of what is claimed within the bible is not only demonstrably untrue, it is logically flawed and is contradicted.
Life doesn’t need religion to have meaning, it’s absurd to think otherwise.
The Universe is not answerable to the human Jesus. It is answerable to its creator. You make wild statements about the Bible and give no evidence of your claim.
Jesus is the creator.
Jesus is the creator
William, Jesus was the “WORD” the expression of God, The voice of God in human form, from the same powerful voice that said “let there be light”. Both are physical expressions from God, one physical light the other physical human.
You claimed that Ed T made wild claims about the Bible. Please elaborate. What claims do you take issue with, and why?
Ed I appreciate your thoughts and your statement that “life doesn’t need religion to make sense” is absolutely correct. What I would point out, however, is that this is not a story of a nonreligious person suddenly becoming “religious”…on the contrary it is a story of one who didn’t believe in a creator coming into a life-altering “RELATIONSHIP” with the One who created her and loved her enough to die in her place for her sin. C.S. Lewis has the same story and it is indeed a “new” story every time it is told. A changed life and an eternal destiny secured through a loving relationship that changes ones heart from the inside out, is certainly a compelling story. Religion can’t change a heart, can’t bring fulfillment, can’t secure an eternal destiny, and has absolutely no power to bring new life….on the other hand, I would submit to you that what you are missing in the testimony here is that Jesus made claims that nobody else ever has (not Mohamed, not Buddah, and no other religious figurehead) – that He was God. He then backed up his claim via his death and resurrection, followed by personally appearing to more than 500 people in several historically documented events. Now, you can dispute Jesus and His claims, and you can dispute all the eyewitness accounts and historically documented miracles that Jesus performed…but you can never dispute a person’s personal encounter with the Risen Savior Jesus and their changed life, Jesus came to do what no religion or anyone in history could do….bring forgiveness, purpose and eternal relationship to anyone willing to accept it – he was not a good man, moral man, good teacher, or religious icon….He was God in the flesh and the good news is that God desires you to know Him and only then will any of this make sense to you. You are loved, you have worth, and I appreciate your input in this discussion…May the Risen Jesus reveal Himself to you in a supernatural way. Blessings my brother!
There are a couple of huge problems with your arguments.
1) Did Jesus even exist: While it’s likely that he did, it’s by no means a certainty. Not a single reputable historian who lived at his presumed time made ANY mention of him… NONE. That’s very surprising, given the many marvelous acts attributed to him. Bottom line – all we have is the written stories of a few men (some stories copied largely from others) with those written decades after his supposed death. There is still debate today over who actually wrote the gospels, and hence we don’t even know if the authors had first-hand experience, or if they were simply documenting the oral legends of their cult.
2) And for the same reason, any arguments based on the accounts of Jesus’ life, his claims, etc. are all suspect. We don’t know what Jesus said. All we know is what these people claimed he said (decades later).
3) Likewise any discussions of his miracles (including the resurrection) is useless as an argument. From point 1, if he had truly done all those things, one would have expected at least SOME of it to be documented by reputable historians of his day. A great many religions have uncorroborated reports of all sorts of fantastic things. Why should anyone lend special credence to these stories.
4) So you correctly note, that we can dispute all those claims. But then you make the nonsense argument that we can’t doubt the purely subjective evidence of “a person’s personal encounter with the Risen Savior Jesus and their changed life”. But the truth is, that EVERY religion has subjective evidence one form or another. All their adherents will testify to the difference their respective religions has made in their lives. And it’s for this reason that any form of such subjective evidence is clearly useless for establishing the truth of ANY religion. Clearly all those religions can’t ALL be true.
So the bottom line is that there’s no objective evidence for any god, and the claimed subjective evidence is really not evidence at all.
The following persons have written their work and no one denies their words or existence, except agnostics of the existence and claims of Jesus Christ..
Herodotus – 488 428 BC Earliest copy 900 AD =1,300 – 8 copies
Thucydides – c 460-100 BC Copies 900 AD = 1300 – 8 copies
Tacitus – 100 AD earliest copies – 1,100 AD = 1,00 yrs -20 copies
Caesars Gallic War 58-50 BC copies 900 AD = 900 yr -10 copies
Livy’s Roman History 59BC-17AD -copies 900 AD =850 yr -20 cp
New Testament 40 – 100 AD -Earliest copies 130 AD = 30- 310AD 5,000 Greek, 10,000 Latin 9300 other languages.
There is an emotional reason for denying the records concerning Christ Jesus, because it challenges their world view..
I’m sorry, but per your own response, NONE of the specific people you listed, lived during the time that Jesus is reputed to have lived. The only POSSIBLE exception in your list is the New Testament. But as I had already noted, the gospels were written decades after his supposed death. There is still debate today over who actually wrote the gospels, and hence we don’t even know if the authors had first-hand experience, or if they were simply documenting the oral legends of their cult.
And your closing statement is just a logical fallacy (impugning my motives). I don’t “deny” the records concerning Jesus. I only look at them objectively, as I do the stories of every other religion.
Aren’t most historical accounts written after the fact? Not all obviously.
There are a couple reasons why historians may not have written about Jesus.
1. The reality of what truly transpired was buried by the religious elite who killed him to preserve their power. You cannot deny the explosion of Christianity during this time period, which is well documented.
2. Jesus purpose was never to set up an earthly kingdom and plan some sort of political coup. Josephus is a historian of this era, and his history focuses on the political situation in Palestine at this time, something Jesus didn’t factor in to. So why record it. Again the explosion of Christianity is well documented and since it claims Jesus as it’s source it is logical to assume that Jesus was a real person and the fanaticism displayed by Christians to choose death rather than recant speaks to the power of his message.
3. This follows closely with #2. Jesus’ ministry was only for 3.5 years and his impact was very local. At his death his followers probably numbered a few thousand. This is not something contemporary historians would find a compelling reason to include. Jesus’ ministry had a very specific purpose that was personal instead of political.
1) The explosion of Christianity proves only that there were a lot of believers, and they were effective at spreading their religion. If that explosion proves the truth of Christianity, then the later explosion of Islam proves it as well.
2) Jesus is reported (in the Gospels) to have performed multiple miracles. Historians routinely record all sorts of remarkable events.
3) See response to item 2.
Rich Prendergast, your first sentence shows what is missing in your reasoning:
“Did Jesus even exist…?”
You also used the past tense, which is incorrect!
In the words of one of Jesus’ first disciples, the answer is “Come and see”!
And to quote Jesus himself, “Seek, and you shall find”.
Then you will know that he didn’t only exist but is alive in the here and now. And one day – which from the way the world is heading could be quite soon – you (and everyone else) will have to bow the knee to him whether you want to or not.
So why not start now, by examining the evidence and becoming an honest searcher for the truth instead of a mere bystander giving advice from the sidelines?
Many honest atheists, such as Dr. Ordway have done so and found that Jesus is not only real and alive, but Lord of all.
Actually I was once a Christian (for most of my life). I later concluded that my beliefs were nothing more than wishful thinking. All the (subjective) evidence that I thought I had for his existence were fundamentally no different from similar testimonies by members of countless other religions.
And in the end, in the absence of any objective evidence for the existence of god (any god), I eventually chose to disbelieve (for the same reasons that most rational adults choose not to believe in Santa Claus, Leprechauns, and the Tooth Fairy.
I like it, good writing.
Because discovering the truth of a relational, loving God and His plan to reconcile a relationship with His creation (us) gives life, hope, joy and freedom. Christianity is not a religion but an organic relationship between people and God. Life makes sense when you see everything through the lense of the Bible.
This is what I mean by others making the same claims. I could say (and some do) “everything makes sense through the lens of …” The Koran, Science, Baga vi Gitta(sp?) and so on.
Well Joe, I guess it’s time to start reading the Bible.
Joe – please my response to Ed above 🙂
God knows who are His,and the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to those persons
Why should you care that someone changed their religion? Taking your question purely at face value, perhaps you shouldn’t. But, possibly you should care about why they changed, especially if the change is unusual as in this case. Lots of people “shop around” and are Hindu one day and Buddhist the next. But a complete reversal of life and world view should be of some interest at least.
There is indeed nothing “new” here. Holly didn’t invent Christianity or discover anything previously unknown about it. (It has been around a while.) She did however, come to understand that what she previously believed about Christianity (a belief that is very commonly held in academic circles) was untrue. What she learned was new to her, and it caused her to radically change her mind, and she is not alone.
And finally, yes, “they all say that”. In a milieu of competing claims it is tempting to think that because “they all say that”, then they all must be wrong. Which when you think about it, does not necessarily follow at all logically. So if “they all say that” the only way to know if one is true is to honestly investigate it for yourself, which is what Holly did. Of course we cannot investigate all claims, but certainly those that are attested to by multiple reliable and intelligent sources are worth consideration by thoughtful people.
I may be completely wrong, but the question seems more like a statement than a question. You seem to be simply saying, “I don’t need to think about this.” But it seems you must. You’re visiting a site about theology and apologetics. You actually read this article (or I presume you did) with a title that should have told you exactly what to expect. And then you took the time to leave a comment asking why you should care. So it seems that you must care at some level at least, or why ask?
Thanks for your response.
“Why should I care” translates to “Why is this different?” The story resembles lots of others including folks who go the exact opposite direction. If you don’t believe that then you haven’t read enough of these stories.
I must correct you on one thing. To say “they all say that” is not to say “they are all wrong” as you claim. That’s a straw man. To say “they all say that (or more accurately “almost all conversion stories regardless of religion make similar claims”) is to say those claims have little weight in and of themselves. Something else is required to determine their truth value or how they are different if they are.
Well, I’M not saying that they are all wrong, though that is what many people mean when they say “they all say that”. I accept that was not your intention. However that fact that “they all say that” doesn’t necessarily dilute the weight of such a story either. It all depends on the circumstances, and credibility of the witness, what their reasons are, and how much research went into the decision. Of the thousands of people who convert most don’t have stories that are particularly interesting. This one doesn’t blow me away, but it is still interesting. It is true, no individual story by itself is apt to be convincing, which is why I said in another comment, that you have to do the research and evaluate the evidence for yourself. However if enough intelligent people come to a conclusion via a soundly reasoned process, it is an indication that it is worth consideration.
I fell upon this page due to a new friend request. if I may, I’m puzzled that out of all of the possibilities of a pretty heavy redirect from Atheism straight to Christianity.and there is a list of why that might occur, but from dark matter, quantum physics and particle collisions creating more matter than what was began with, to an old book and a physical connection through your man, JC, Remember we used to think the sun was God, and now we’re getting a grip on black holes, so he’s gotta be right behind that. I got two ideas and they are personal so before you parade her, you might ask her if its ok first.
My goodness. If you’re not finding anything here, it means others shouldn’t either? In a world where countless atheists simply refuse to believe that any of them can find faith, I find every such story amazing and indispensable. The more such confessions, the better. Atheist often do not research and reject such big changes of belief. Or, they dismiss a story like this as ‘madness’ or ‘weakness’. I want thousands of confessions like this to be written, posted, published. Only then there will perhaps be a chance at countering some of the typical atheist ignorance. Every change of faith, no matter in which direction, is fascinating. I want to know the reasons, the journey, the mechanism. Beliefs stand at the core of every being, it’s a sacrilege to dismiss it as unimportant. And really, no one insulted you.
I wouldn’t dismiss the story as uninteresting. That’s a decision for each reader (and contrary to your conclusion – there’s no sacrilege in disinterest).
But I do find it interesting that you dismiss atheist reactions (multiple times), referring, for example to “typical atheist ignorance”. You should know that a large percentage of atheists are former believers (myself included). And as such, we went through a long journey of our own (often with significant study and reflection). And I’d assert that the journey that results in giving up the faith one was raised in, and held dearly, is a far more difficult one than is going from disbelief to belief. When one is indoctrinated into an unquestioned belief in the existence of God, and the “truth” of Christianity, it can be a considerable challenge to let go of that belief. The challenge is magnified when one’s friends and family are devout believers, and atheist beliefs are stigmatized. Conversions seem to routinely occur in hours or days, whereas deconversions normally require years.
You wish to see thousands of confessions like the one posted here. Are you equally interested in seeing the millions of confessions from Christians-turned-atheist (to perhaps counter the typical Christian ignorance)? Take a look at the Clergy Project, for example, and Google Christian deconversion stories.
Richard. What got you to start to de-convert?
Bit of a long story, but … I went back to college in my mid-twenties and got a Physics degree. Based on that education, I understood that with the exception of the big-bang itself, and the origin of life on earth, science had a pretty good understanding of the development of the universe – the stars, planets, etc, and the evolution of life on this planet. So where I previously believed in the fundamentalist Christian god as creator (and one with whom we can have a personal relationship), the role of god as creator (other than POSSIBLY as the first-cause) was gone. But I continued to believe in god under those constraints. As I grew older, and gained more life experience, I observed that there was no evidence that God listened to prayers. Good things happen with equal frequency to believers and non-believers alike, as do bad things. God’s “children” suffer and die from all manner of horrible diseases, in spite of any amount of prayer. In short, it became clear to me that IF there’s a god, he is either unwilling or unable to intervene. And based on that conclusion, I decided that there was simply no objective evidence for god’s existence. So based on the lack of evidence, I’ve chosen not to believe in god. I won’t claim that there is no god. I only believe that the rational choice, in the absence of any objective evidence, is to disbelieve in such a fantastic being (just as the rational person will choose not to believe in Santa Claus and leprechauns, even though none of us can say with absolute certainty that they don’t exist).
I, like other Christians, would previously attest to all sorts of subjective evidence (the difference he made in my life, etc.), but eventually I concluded that this “evidence” was nothing more than wishful thinking, and putting a favorable spin on my experiences. I applied the same fallacies that I routinely see Christians apply in their daily lives…. If something good happens – “Praise God”. If something bad happens – “God has a plan”, or “God is testing me” or “We need to have adversity to challenge our faith”, etc. Whatever peace and happiness I had derived from my faith was essentially the simplest form of placebo effect. I wanted peace happiness, and I believed God would give me peace and happiness, so I was naturally – peaceful and happy. In the several years since I finally admitted to myself that I no longer believed, I am still generally at peace. I’ve sometimes been unhappy (turning 60 was tough), but even then, I concluded that we can generally choose to be happy, or choose to be unhappy. I’ve chosen to be happy. I have a great deal to be thankful for, whether I have a god to thank or not.
What if the dynamic that is evolution is to be respected and bowed to as directive of life; Would you consider it the Creator?
Hmmm – you phrased that somewhat cryptically, so I want to be a bit careful with my response.
If, by “the dynamic that is evolution”, you’re simply referring to the ongoing processes that drive it (random mutations and natural selection), there is (by definition) no consciousness behind them, and hence the term “bowed to” seems utterly inappropriate. As for “respected”… sure – just as I respect gravity and electricity, and all sorts of natural phenomena.
And again, since there is no consciousness behind the processes, it would be inappropriate to equate it to a “Creator” (with a capital C). To use an analogy, erosion due to winds and water can create some pretty amazing formations. I would not refer to wind or water as “Creators”.
So for you all life was formed by accident as no designer or consciousness was involved. Why does life have consciousness if all original reality is random accident.
Your question implies that the effect must somehow be of the same nature as the cause, but that is rarely the case.
Subatomic particles form protons, neutrons, and electrons, whose properties are very different from those of their constituent particles.
Protons, neutrons, and electrons combine to form atoms, whose properties are very different from those of their component protons, etc.
Chemical reactions produce a fundamental change in the properties of the reactants. One could ask, why is water a liquid at room temperature, when its component elements (hydrogen and oxygen) are both gases at room temperature. Sodium is a highly reactive metal, and Chlorine is a poisonous gas. Together they form table salt, essential to our life.
In the same manner, biological processes (not just consciousness) transcend the properties of simple chemistry.
A final comment… It’s extremely inaccurate and misleading to use the phrase “if all original reality is random accident”. First, while there’s a great deal of randomness in nature (including evolution), there are a great many non-random processes as well. The laws of Physics drive order. Those forces caused atoms and molecules to form, and eventually caused stars and planets to form. And Natural Selection is a VERY nonrandom process, that brings some order out of the random mutations.
So you admit there are laws, principles and characteristics all forms of the design of things. Of course we do not believe in design!
Now you’re playing with semantics -a common game among creationists. One of my favorites is referring to the Universe as “Creation”, and then declaring that Creation must have a Creator.
I admit there are laws, principles and characteristics all forms of the nature of things
After reading ur story Holly Ordway…its nice to see u have finally become a Christian..ad u no that the almighty lord he’s there..ad all around us every day if u want him to..yes im impressed with ur change..Nice..
[…] was reminded of this as I read a post on my Facebook feed telling the story of an atheist academic who found her way to […]
Ok, here was my turning point with religious belief. I did not always have unwavering faith. I went through my teen years trying to figure out what it all means, is there really a God out there? I struggled with horrible depression. I kept searching and searching for proof. I got really into space and time and read everything I could on it. Then got really into the existence of Earth, and the history of Earth. You know the more you think about how small you are in the univers, you get this strange lost feeling. One day driving for some strange reason it all clicked for me. The Earth has “perfect cycles” but we’ve already had two sets of living beings on this planet. That’s extremely unique. That’s weird, that’s kind of impossible. We’ve not located any other planet that can remotely support life. So I remember at this point I had to immediately pull the car over. I needed to think more about this. Strangely I got that weird feeling again. God created the creatures before us to prove that we are created. He left the dinosaurs and fossils of totally different plant life, he destroyed then re-created and entire earths contents. Now if you wanted to prove to the nonbeliever wouldn’t you leave those people the proof they need? That’s when I knew that strange feeling was God trying to pull me back on the right path because I felt it stronger than ever before during that exact moment. As I feel the blood rushing back to my head and heart beating out of my chest I knew that I would never get off that path again. I just wanted to share my experience.
Thats an amazing story. I felt the same thing myself recently (different circumstances etc) where I truly felt the pull of God. I felt like his lost sheep and he was my shepherd pulling me back. Isnt it amazing to think that we are so loved by our heavenly father, that he keeps his hand on us in that way. I pray that we will both continue to feel his presence and that he never lets us go 🙂
None of the “evidence” you are describing requires a god. You are describing just some of the massive amounts of evidence for evolution. Please study some science.
As for the rest of your feelings, that sort of subjective evidence is not unique to Christianity. Adherents of every religion have testimonies such as your own. Obviously they can’t all be right.
The significance of her 180 turn is that she is a highly intelligent, educated, strong, capable individual who was absolutely certain that God and Christianity were mythological, or, at most “religious crutches” for weak, ignorant people. But God began moving IN her, causing her to seek TRUTH, rather than just pick a belief system. And it is the TRUTH that sets us free. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to the Father but though me.” Holly found the Truth, and He made Himself accessible to her, as He does to every single individual on the planet who truly seeks for the absolute Truth. God showed Himself to Holly so clearly that it blew away her strong conviction and brought her into a personal relationship with the Living God. THAT’s the significance. It went from a religious belief that there was no God, to a personal relationship with God, Himself.
Just like Saul was converted, but less dramatic.
Don’t be deceived. Holly went on to become a clear Roman Catholic so her faith clearly falls short of saving faith.
Thank you Peter, for making that point. Many Catholics have found the Saviour, in spite of the church’s liturgical and unscriptural ‘theology’, that we earn our salvation by following rituals. This actually makes a mockery of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Sadly this reflects as much ignorance of RC theology as Holly had of Christianity in general. I am not RC. I disagree with RC views in many areas. But I do know enough to know that no RC theologian would say that we “earn” salvation in any way, much less by “following rituals”. Feel free to challenge RC views, but be sure you know what they believe first. Your mischaracterization of RC soteriology is an embarrassment.
David, I doubt your competence in discussing theology for two reasons. The first part of your comment on Catholic rituals doesn’t reflect the reality as lived by ‘ordinary people’. Why would they confess to a priest, repeat the ‘Hail Mary’ over and over, believe in the theory of transubstantiation as is repeatedly declared in the Mass? None of this is found in the Bible, so people must have some other dominant reason to keep on performing the rituals. They are taught that the performances please God, and are the way to earn his approval and grace.The second reason I doubt your competence, in spite of your dismissing my mischaracterisation of RC soteriology, is because you’re a bit rude. “Shout loud (or be rude) because your argument is weak.” I can’t be sure whether my comments are an embarrassment to you or whether they should be to me.
I guess I wasn’t aware that I was shouting. Since I’m not RC I let someone who is defend their position on details of the mass etc. My point is that since RC doctrine with respect to Jesus Christ is that He is the son of God, died for our sins, and rose again and faith in Him is necessary for salvation, they can be saved (though of course many are not, just like many protestants). To be sure, a lot of other stuff is tacked on, but they do not believe you must earn your salvation by rituals apart from faith in Christ. Ask any priest if you can be saved by strictly participating in the sacraments without faith in Christ. Let me know if you find you that will say you can. We are saved by grace through faith, and any RC who trusts Christ for salvation is saved, That they may believe other unnecessary stuff does not nullify that (just like all the stuff you or I may believe that is wrong doesn’t nullify our faith). To imply Catholics are basically all going to hell because they believe in transubstantiation, papal infallibility, or any other matter that may not be in the Bible is what I call rude.
David, your final sentence is nonsense. In my reply to Peter Radcliffe on May 12 I said that “many Catholics have found the Saviour.” Happily, we agree on that. Generally, in a church where active participation in rituals is imposed there are people who comply, without “listening to the small print”, which is Scripture readings and short homilies, when they could pick up bits of Bible teaching. (I don’t know what is said in Confession.) When the rituals are repeated week after week, the practice would give people a sense of safety, of being looked after and of having no further responsibility. Not everybody enquires into the Faith, which they were brought up to accept uncritically. “The Lord is not wanting anyone to perish” – so he draws people to himself.
Ruth and Father Peter. I am a full time lay minister in the RC Church. I can answer your claims and shed some light into church teaching, history, and where I believe you are making false statements about the faith.
But I see that these comments were made 2-3 weeks ago, and I don’t know whether either of you is still paying attention to this thread. If you are, let me know and I’d be happy to engage is some honest discussion. We’re all pursuing knowledge and truth in Christ here, let’s go deeper into it.
WHAT??? Catholic is not only Christian, it is Most Christian if practiced and walked out faithfully. Not the Catholic where the focus is Our Lady but where Christ is seen as THE source of life transmitted though the sacrament of the Eucharist. For all it’s warts and tumors, imposed by imperfect, fallible and finite men throughout it’s history, the Church has stood for right and good. My pastor said when I was a teenager “There is no such thing as a perfect church because the church is filled with people who are under Original Sin, are fallible and will let you down” the answer? Look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith
‘Rev.’ Ratcliff, be very careful.Mark 9:40 40 “Anyone who is not against us is for us.”- Jesus Christ. Although there are some teaching in the Didache of the Holy Roman Catholic Church that contradict the Holy Bible, you are going too far to say that any Catholic is not ‘saved’. They proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are you climbing up on God’s throne and judging them unworthy of Heaven? Be careful!
Hey Rev. When someone becomes a “Christian” the process , if I am correct in my “theology”, one asks Jesus into their heart. Paul defines a Christian as someone who has Jesus living in their hearts. Your words indicate that you think religion saves, not just any religion, but your specific brand of christianity; am I wrong? FYI, I do not recognize your reverendhood. ( I know it isn’t a word)
Of course, Reverend, the only true Church of our Lord, established on Peter, succeeded by the popes as Vicars of Christ, does not provide you saving grace – in your world, that is. Our Lord established His one Church, and the only one that comes to us from His time is the Catholic Church, with access to all graces. It is this divine society, that gives you the opportunity to meet the Lord in the Eucharist, wherein in the Holy Communion, we share in the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ – a “must” for salvation/eternal for everybody. I remind you, that all Protestant congregations are man-made, established on human vanity, with doubtful saving mission and power. The Lord’s salvation plan simply designates His one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, as the instrument of salvation needed by all, and “the gates of hell will not prevail against. Dr. Holly Ordway has been led by the Holy Spirit to the fullness of Faith, the Body of Christ. May the Lord bless you, all yours and everybody else reading this. Laudetur Iesus Christus.
Tibor what you say is typical RC indoctrination and not the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Peter, how are you to know for sure Holly “isn’t saved” ? That’s a dreadful assessment to make. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking the truth only exists between very narrow parameters. Not engaging in debate here, just sayin’… thanks.
Rev Peter, what is “saving faith”?
The majority of the world’s Christians are Roman Catholic. I assume Holly became Catholic in part because the catechism of the Roman Catholic Church does not contradict science. For example, God created all things for good, and the creation story is a parable to explain the impossibility and joy of His actions. However, his seven days are not our seven days. If you believe every part of the bible literally, chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Genesis contradict each other, as well as many other scientific “facts” mentioned in the bible. Catholics take a more global view.
My experience and transformation was as a result of an epiphany and a life changing healing from drug addiction; but, even so, I find this almost purely intellectual walk into Truth most intriguing.
Mark, I died December 24, 2005 and experienced Heaven. Although I sometimes peeked at books referring to people’s walk in Heaven, I never believed that and actually always believed that these were authors trying to sell their books, by writing popular subjects.
My experience was very real, so real that it took me years to grasp what happened and to accept the fact that I were fortunate to see Heaven and experience something greater than life.
I am not writing a book, it’s my private time with GOD, but what I can assure you JESUS is real and I am truly sorry and will pray for those who don’t believe in HIM
Ursula – I’m trying to make sense of your comment that “My experience was very real, so real that it took me years to grasp what happened and to accept the fact that I were fortunate to see Heaven…” That sounds contradictory. Why, if your experience was so real, did it take years to grasp it, etc?
Reblogged this on tannngl.
Awesome ! Heaven rejoices!
Interesting story. I am always excited to hear of atheists finding Christ. However, although this story says that she found out that the story of Jesus is true history, it does not say anywhere that she called out to Him to be her Lord and Savior, that she called upon the Name of Jesus, which is the Biblical requirement of salvation. Is just deciding that the story of Jesus is true history enough to say that she has, indeed, become a Christian? Since this article does not say this, it is on us to actually get hold of and read her book. I hope it is true that she has called upon the Lord for salvation and not just historical knowledge.
Cynthia, with all due respect, what you take from this story is that Holly studied the claims of Christ, found them to be true, but then refused to trust in Him for salvation? It seems that if you don’t find certain key phrases containing your particular religious terminology you refuse to accept a person’s profession of faith, even when that profession is accompanied by a total reversal of worldview. I would seriously ask you to reconsider what you consider evidence of a sincere profession.
I guess the point of this article is that she highlights people can change from one view to another. The reasoning is probably similar to many others converting, but this story is cited because her expertise supposedly gives her authority to say Christian texts are no mythical stories- ‘the literary style shows this’. She seems to have concluded one can become a christian because it is true which previously, as an atheist, she felt was rubbish. Your point is that you are looking for something that this article does not claim to give. Are you looking for something new or something new to you intellectually? I guess you can read the bible yourself and decide what you believe. All this story suggests is that one person supposedly with an expert opinion thinks the biblical texts are from a literary point of view, not mythical in nature. It seems she feels they are true.
Glory be to God. Now is Atheisim a faith or just a Science?
[…] Source: Atheist Professor, Holly Ordway, Becomes Christian. […]
I was born this way… I led my parents to church at pre-school age… when a woman (I never knew who…) wanted to pick me up and take me to Methodist Sunday School… where I learned this song I thought was “Jesus Sluss Me.” I didn’t know what “sluss” meant, but I knew it had to be good because Jesus did it! Over the years, I dedicated my life to Christ when a hand pushed me into the aisle at summer camp and again years later, when a voice spoke to me at the piano. I now embrace all of the spirit realm, which includes Christ, but also the sacredness of all nature and elements from just about every Christian tradition, the Druids, the Catholics, etc. All is sacred. It is an unfolding journey, if you allow it to be…
Have you looked at the science of Christianity? Don’t blind faith this one. It’s very important, as a bona fide researcher, to do serious research, not just into the hype, but also the hyperbola.
Faith as a gift does not come from experience, but it cannot come without experience. I find it interesting that our former atheist had to experience,with an open mind, the scriptures to validate the gift of faith.
Thank God the gospel is simple enough for a child to believe and receive because I’ve read all the comments and have come to realize if I had to be an intellectual to gain salvation I’d be totally lost. Having said that, I’m excited for Holly and for the journey she has embarked upon. Welcome to the family lovely lady.
[…] Take a look at the following blog about her book which could be a great book to read before going to college! https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/atheist-professor-becomes-christian/ […]
To John, above, who wrote, “Atheism is a belief system, not a science as it is based in an unproven assumption.”
You’re correct that Atheism is not a science. But it is most definitely NOT a belief system. It’s LACK of belief. The intellectually honest atheist, a group within which I include myself, does NOT say “There is no god”, but rather, “There is no reason to believe in a god.” I prefer the term, skeptical agnostic.
Anyway, I’m fascinated by reasons why people do believe and I was interested in the comparison with C.S. Lewis, an author of many books that I grew up with in my home, both as a child and young adult (my parents were big fans). I look forward to reading Dr. Ordway’s book.
Jeff If you believe there is no mind of a supreme Creator behind the Universe then that is exactly a belief system; that the universe has no intelligent purpose or design or designer.
Jeff, what you describe is agnosticism, not true atheism. Agnosticism in it’s most generic form is not itself a belief system and does not necessarily require one, but often is connected one (e.g. Buddhism). Atheism in its modern naturalistic form (e.g. Richard Dawkins) is a belief system with at least three dogmas: 1) The natural world is all there is, 2) natural scientific inquiry can discover the answers to all questions, 3) as a corollary to 1, there is no God, and 2 has proven it.
But now coming back to agnosticism and your position that their is simply no evidence for God. As I said above in it’s most generic and honest form agnosticism is not a belief system, but in this form the agnostic only claims to remain unconvinced by existing evidence, not that no can evidence exist. Once you say NO evidence exists you cross over into virtual atheism, and you can only confidently assert that no evidence exists if you affirm the tenets of full atheism. I will not comment on your position further since I don’t know much of anything about what you actually believe, but if we consider Richard Dawkins for example who has made his view thoroughly known, we find a definite belief system. For the purpose of argument he will often limit his claim to “no evidence”, since an absolute claim of the non-existence of God is indefensible. However he also makes it clear the he ABSOLUTELY BELIEVES THAT THERE IS NO GOD. Further he believes that any belief in God is not only false, but a terrible blight on humanity which should be eradicated. But, let us assume a theoretical agnostic/atheist who believes that there is no evidence for God, but yet is completely open to the possibility that God does in fact exist. Even this position depends on a belief system with a totally naturalistic epistemology. As untold numbers of intelligent people have been convinced of God’s existence by what they find to be good and sufficient evidence, the “no evidence” position must have an overarching epistemology (belief system) which categorically rejects all such evidence as invalid. In other words, if billions of rational people believe evidence exists, you can’t possibly reject them all without some underlying criteria (belief system) for rejecting them. I can’t even imagine why someone with strong opinions would even want to claim that they have no worldview. EVERYONE has a belief system by which they accept this and reject that. Not everyone is aware of their belief system. Not everyone has a particularly strong belief system (but these people tend be intellectually incurious and change their minds on a whim). Finally, intellectual honesty requires more than just listening to all sides, it means exploring and uncovering your own belief system. Being honest about our belief systems is also necessary in order to have any meaningful debate. So in sum I doubt you really mean it when you say you hold a position with no belief system. I think you are just trying say that you are still open to changing your mind. Perhaps you are defining a “belief system” as a set of dogma. A belief system could in fact be only that, but generally when we we talk about a belief system we mean the set of presuppositions by which we evaluate what to believe. In other words, our epistemology.
I hope you can read the book with an open mind, but if you already believe there is NO evidence, I’m not sure how you expect to benefit from it. I also read and study points of view that are different from my own, but only if I take them seriously. And if I take them seriously I must evaluate not only what they have to say, but my own criteria for judging them. Until you recognize that you have a believe system, there is no way you can really do that.
I don’t have enough faith to to let my life just float alone I have dove into studies on what different religions base their beliefs on. I would prefer anything else to Christianity because I want to be in charge of my own decisions. that’s not what I found in my studies I a found sets of rules, not my rules for my life. Loving scientific knowledge, I was looking for a truth that would challenge me, not to play the game of earning each step of the way., I finally decided I may as well be well-rounded in my search.
what I found was a world away from my beliefs about Christians, In addition to all the things i wanted to have from the above list, I have also found Unconditional love, a changed nature, science that still expands my knowledge, and eternal life, I did have to see myself for who I was and discover why I needed Christ. I did ask him to please forgive my sins and please live in my heart, Even with the trials that follow all of us one way or the other, I have found an inner peace I have never known before. It is all due to .gods love, Jesus sacrifice, and a true relationship that I know is and can never be found outside of knowing The father of the universe. God
Yet another Christian promoting the oxymoron that an absence of belief requires faith.
As for the rest of your subjective evidence, well, if you’d done all the research you’ve claimed, you’d know that believers in all religions have testimonies such as your own. I guess that means that all those religions are true.
Interesting what the Bible says. God knew about Atheism before it even had a name.
Understand this! During the last days (before Christ returns to earth), there will be times of great trouble. People will love only themselves. They will want lots of money. They will think that they are much more important than other people. And they will talk about how great they are. They will say bad things about other people. They will not obey their parents. They will not thank anyone. They will not think that other people, or God, are important. They will not do what is proper to other people. People will not even love their own families. They will refuse to agree with other people. They will say wrong things about other people, things that are not true. They will be unable to rule themselves properly. They will be cruel like wild animals. They will be enemies of everything that is good. People will turn against their friends. They will not think carefully before they do things. They will be completely sure that they are very, very important. They will not love God, but instead they will want very much to enjoy themselves. Those people will seem to *worship God. But really, they will refuse to let God work in them. You must stay away from people like that. 2 Timothy 3
I am sure many atheists on an individual, personal level are like this but it does seem a lot of the outspoken athiests do have some of these qualities. Its only a matter of time.
Ita all about believing in a higher power Becase spirituality is soo important and good for the souk When you have done what you can for its necessary to give the rest iver to god and rxceot life on lifes terms Its always going to been difficukt at certain times Its ok to having personality defects Be honest work on them pray to your higher power Hinestly even if you are not an alcohokic i found the AA big book helpful Everytime the say alchol or drinking replace it with perhaps somthing else that took over your life because its good for all of us Showing how to accept the things we cannot change wisdom to know that and courage to change what we can And how to give it over to god sometimes …god as we know him Its the only way inmve made it tgru my recent grief loss and traumas
it’s not surprising that lit profs convert. on occasion. most of them don’t, of course. what is suprising & dismaying is the narcissism of “xians”. see? her conversion proves it! gawd wuvs yu. you are god’s own special little snowflake. it’s so childish, ignorant, immature and completely irrelevant, like most of the church, to the world. no one cares about this stuff except the cloistured circle of insecure little american know-nothings whose religiosity is no more than a hallmark card w/jesusy sounding nonsense attached, the cheapest, laziest ego-stroking self-flattery. this country is drowning in people who mouth off about Jesus and then get the vapors & become hysterically vicious & downright hateful over things like transgendereds in the bathroom. but one or two of them know something about NT Wright, far fewer anything about Keats. but they lap it up w/an authority figure, one of those scribes Jesus (supposedly) despised, tells them Keats proves Jesus. ignorance reinforcing itself w/cheap authority.
“if he rose again from the dead, there ain’t nothing for you to do but follow him.” and that’s the only measure, not how convincing one thinks the mediocrity CS Lewis is.
Sounds like a great read and a reaffirmation of the Catholic faith! My two sons attend Jesuit schools, and steadfast in their convictions and beliefs, so I’m looking forward to reading some of her insights about Ignatius of Loyola.
Of course, if you had been influenced by a Hindu couple, you would now be a practising Hindu. The fact is, if there was a god and he had the attributes ascribed to him, there would only be one religion and one faith. And even then faith would not be required, because any god worthy of acknowledgement would know exactly what would convince everyone of his existence. Atheists exist, therefore gods do not.
Mike, your syllogism fails because it is based on two false assumptions:
1. That in a relationship between God and man, it is God who stands to benefit, and therefore he should move heaven and earth (literally if necessary) to convince all men of His existence.
2. That in a relationship between one who has everything to give and nothing to gain, and one who has everything to gain and nothing to give, it would naturally be the one who has nothing to set the terms for that relationship, and the duty of the one who has everything to accede to those terms.
You greatly overestimate both your importance to God as a fulfiller of His needs, and your right to set terms. The wonder is not that a God exists, and yet He doesn’t convince all atheists to believe in Him; it is that He bothers to trouble himself to convince any atheists at all. You may be convinced someday, though not today. I would say that I will pray for you, but I know that atheists absolutely HATE it when someone says that.
How is the assumption that God is the one who stands to benefit false. Do you have anything to show that this is not the case, something like God saying that us worshipping him is irrelevant? If you do not, then you can not make that claim that it is a false assumption.
You are missing my point, any god worthy of acknowledgement, not worship or love, acknowledgement, simple “Oh gods are real” acceptance, would be able to generate that in the world. Which leads back to my original, “Atheists exist, therefore gods do not.”
And as for praying, we do not hate it, we think it silly, you are casting magic spells on us to cause us to change our minds. Casting magic is invoking the power of a god to do something you can not do yourself, aka praying.
Mike, I didn’t miss your point, which is the ability of a theistic God to convince everyone of His existence. But, for your syllogism to follow that God would not only need that ability, he need a reason for doing so. Note, I am positing no proof of God’s existence, I am only saying your logic doesn’t follow. For it to follow we would have to be able to say that given the attributes of theistic God, not only could He, but would He behave in a certain way. The God of the Bible (or any theistic or even deistic God) has the attribute of aseity. It could even be asserted that this is the most fundamental and necessary attribute of such a God. Therefore by definition such a God, if He exists at all, is totally independent. Therefore He would not be expected to act in any way as needing anything from us. And therefore, would not be expected to have any purpose in taking pains to convince anyone of His existence. Now God does have a purpose in creation and therefore may interact with us in ways that further that purpose. But, assuming again that it is the God of the Bible we are discussing, then His purposes are for our benefit, not His. And further, these purposes involve a relationship that is voluntary. Therefore, convincing everyone of His existence (by itself) would not only fail to accomplish that purpose, but would be entirely counter-productive. So if the God of the Bible exists He would not at all be expected to act as you posit.
The bottom line is that your assumption is false by the definition of the God you seek to prove does not exist. You have in fact proven that a powerful God who needs the acknowledgement of all mankind does not exist, but that is another God altogether.
Actually as I think about your claim, there is another false assumption. That is that no truth is worthy of assent unless it is impossible to disbelieve and therefore believed by all. Which could be valid as your own personal criteria for belief, but obviously would be problematic, as you would have to remain agnostic about almost everything. First because many things that most would consider worthy of believe are less than certainly provable, and second even those few things that are absolutely provable are still not universally believed, since people are subjective and unwilling to believe many things regardless of the evidence.
Please make no mistake. You have every right to disbelieve in God for whatever reasons you may have, but you certainly attempt to impose an obligation to disbelieve that is illogical and circular. You seem to be saying that if God can make everyone believe (which he could) that He would make everyone believe (which He wouldn’t), and if even one person doesn’t believe (e.g. you), there can’t be a god. This amounts to “there can’t be a God because I don’t believe in Him”. That would be as illogical as it would be for me to say, “because I do believe in God, He must exist.”
But back to a more reasonable basis for discussion, all people believe or disbelieve a truth statement based on three interacting factors, the evidence as they perceive it, their threshold of proof, and ulterior motives. Many times it is the ulterior motives that are the deciding factor. The ulterior motive to believe in God could be wishful thinking, and for those who believe, but don’t let it significantly impact their lives, that may be about all there is to it. But for those that take Christianity very seriously, their faith can come with very significant personal obligations and costs. The professor who wrote the book in question will certainly have diminished career prospects due to her change of heart and mind. Not to mention obligations to an ethical standard with much higher demands than the average person, and finally the surrender of her personal will. In her position there would be much better candidates for wishful thinking, including her former atheism, not to mention other religions or a more diluted “Christianity” with a God that loves but places no restrictions on our personal lives. Paul says (and for very good reason, given is personal experience), “if what we believe isn’t true, then we are are the most miserable people in the world”. While the invisible future promise of Christianity is indeed something that could be wished for, since it comes at a heavy visible cost, it takes a lot more than wishing to make it believable. Since we all (including Christians) tend to be more heavily influenced by what we see than something we can’t, Christianity is a poor candidate for wishfulness. What do you wish for and what does it cost?
[…] Source: Atheist Professor, Holly Ordway, Becomes Christian. […]
Ok… Let’s look at this realistically…
First, she was an atheist due to non-exposure to religion, not because she put any thought into the debate.
Second, she is a Literature Professor, which does not qualify her to identify the difference between literature and history in the context of those genres in a contemporary analysis (ie: she is not trained in ancient Roman and Arabic history, language, literature, and culture). So her analysis of the Gospels being “not fantasy” is completely irrelevant because she has no idea how to actually compare ancient Aramaic Literature with ancient Aramaic History.
Third, her conversion was an emotional one, not an intellectual one. She was influenced by conversations with friends… and then she read a few books on ONE side of the argument. She did not investigate any information form professors on the other side of the argument. Which is a very UN-scholarly approach, and she should know better… tsk tsk.
I find it interesting that so many of the reactions people have posted here are ones of affirmation of their own faith…. that this story of an atheist’s conversion somehow lends credence to their own beliefs. Yet for every one of these stories, there are hundreds of stories of people who have deconverted from Christianity. But in their usual form, I’ve heard numerous Christians dismiss those stories as irrelevant, making all sorts of assertions as to why they have no bearing on the “truth” of their faith.
I say “in their usual form” because this sort of cherry-picking of “evidence” is typical. The classic example is when something good happens, and it’s “Praise God!”; but when something bad happens, it’s “God has a plan” or “God never gives us challenges that we can’t handle”, etc.
Stumbled across this webpage and have read all the comments above and would just like to add my four penneth… If you are someone God hasn’t revealed Himself to (debatable, because you are on this page..) and you really don’t care either way (again, why are you reading this…?) then surely acknowledging that there might be a God is like an insurance policy just in case it turns out either after your death, or at the end of the world (whichever comes first, but, lets face it, the end result is the same..) that God exists. I mean, in human terms – doesn’t it make sense to just say you believe, to cover yourself? Having said all that, whatever your cultural background is, and whatever you call God, He must be laughing His socks off reading all this ‘intellectual discussion’. How entertained He must be, as you all debate whether He actually exists or not (not to mention His son/His prophets etc.) But leaving all the very clever debating aside, as my dear old dad (WW2 veteran) always says- ‘there are no atheists on the battlefield’. We all like to think we’re intellectually a cut above, and that no one ‘puts one over on us easily’ but in reality, when you’re in agony, dying by inches with cancer, or the police come and tell you your child is dead, or you lose everything financially, the belief that ‘Somebody up there’ cares and will be there for you, is very important. If you are the kind of person who would visit someone in a hospice to let them know how misguided they are, and ‘not to worry, there is no heaven or hell’ so ‘rest in peace’…well, maybe you should be asking yourself -‘Why is it so important to me that God isnt real?’ Have you got something to answer for, if He is? Back to the insurance analogy…maybe now is the time to put that right?!
You make several points, and all of them are logically flawed.
1) The insurance policy. You’re simply paraphrasing Pascal’s wager, which has been logically refuted on virtually every level. I won’t repeat all of it, but here’s one link with the details:
2) No atheists in foxholes. A cute, trite, and utterly false myth. Not only have there been countless atheists in foxholes, there have been a great many who became atheists as a result of their experiences in foxholes.
3) The argument that theism brings comfort to the sick and dying. Well that, of course, is arguing that one should believe in god out of wishful thinking. Belief in god for that reason makes no more sense than it would to believe in Santa Claus, fairies, or imaginary friends for the sole reason that we would like for them to exist. The rational person will believe in things because there is an appropriate degree of objective evidence.
4) “maybe you should be asking yourself -‘Why is it so important to me that God isnt real?” The answer is twofold.
a) Every thinking person should be interested in the truth. And insofar as there is no objective evidence for the existence of god (any god) the rational person will choose not to believe in such a fantastic being (just as that person will choose not to believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy).
b) Christians routinely strive to install their religious icons in our public places, push prayer (to their god) in our public schools, and drive public policy based on their ancient myths and superstitions. And Christians seem to be incessantly posting one bit of nonsense or another in general social media (facebook, etc.). Members of some other religions are also guilty of some similar actions, by the way, but to a far lesser extent. So when Christians are aggressive in pushing their beliefs, they should expect non-Christians to push back. Christians largely got by with all sorts of overreach for many years – often with no resistance. Those days are past.
Evolution, while it starts with fact, overreaches as well, into the realm of speculation. Granted, a simple list of adaptations that have been discovered would be much longer than the Bible. But at the same time, female chimpanzees don’t have clitorises, a head of garlic in a 12-year-old refrigerator is not necessarily a 12-year-old head of garlic, and my dead body found in some millennia-old mud does not make my dead body millennia old. Science is simply the wrong tool for getting rid of bad religion. It’s like trying to use a set of keys to get rid of a maze of spider webs. You just end up with spider webs all over your keys.
Both sides see the power of the culture of the other, and dissenters in both cultures ought to feel more at liberty to switch. This is why the books are necessary, as far as I can tell.
“Female chimpanzees don’t have clitorises”???? Where did you get that bit of nonsense? All female mammals have them.
As for your other comments…
1) I’ll ignore your silly refrigerator/garlic analogy and the equally silly and irrelevant keys/spider web analogy.
2) re: dead body in mud: If that millennia-old mud is part of a well-preserved strata then yes, it does mean that the body is millennia-old.
Nowhere in science is there any defined purpose to get rid of bad religion. That’s often just a side effect.
As for your concluding comments:
1) “Both sides see the power of the culture of the other”. While religion has had considerable cultural impacts (many of them good, many of them bad), that is true of every one of the thousands of religions on earth. The existence of such impacts in no way argues for either the truth of ANY of those religions, or a need for them.
[…] Atheist Professor Becomes Christian. […]
“The four gospels really are eyewitness reports.”
So what? I don’t think many people claim the four gospels are embellished novels. The problem was never about whether if the 4 Gospels and the early chapter of Acts are eyewitness reports to supernatural events. The problem is whether if those events were really miracles. NT Wright might have written a 740 page book to argue that the 4 gospels and the early chapter of Acts are eyewitness reports to some supernatural events, but it doesn’t prove a dime that the eyewitnesses really saw events which were supernatural and divine miracles by nature. A lot of people have written massive books, or even 8 seaons long TV shows to argue that hundred thousands of eyewitness reports to UFO abductions and alien sightings, are also true. But that doesn’t mean those eyewitnesses really witnessed events which were extra terrestrial by nature.
You can find evidence to confirm any belief. If she really cares about the truth, then she should first determine if a truth claim can be proven wrong.
The difference between UFO’s and the Gospels is; one is merely based on sightings, the other by personal experiences. A blind man seeing is not merely from others sightings but experience of sight by the recipient.
UFO sightings, alien hallucinations, channeling alien communication, ghosts of dead relatives and saints, sorcery, demonic possession, voodoo, certain kinds of spirit healing, etc. All fit into the same category. These are all supernatural events which fit into the category of demonic activity. I read an article where individuals “haunted” by alien voices and visions were freed in the name of Jesus proving their demonic origin. How many accounts of supernatural activity does one need to hear before they start taking it seriously? My boss is in India right now and last week they visited a group of new believers and during prayer time 5-6 manifested demonic spirits and were freed in Jesus’ name. I personally can think of at least 30 people I know who have had an experience of either demonic activity or holy (healing, miracles of various kinds). I personally know 3 people who have witnessed a resurrection. I’ve had my own experiences which leave no doubt as to the existence of supernatural forces. God is real, the devil is real, miracles are real, the Bible is truth.
You’re correct on your first statement. All those phenomena fit into the same category – fairy tales. As for your personal experiences – please provide documented proof (that is beyond question) of these miracles, and you can silence the skeptics forever.
Richard, I am Christian and agree most of what Thaddeus claims is pagan superstition and not factual reality. Jesus endeavored to release people steeped in paganism to a right mind. He never gave reality to a pagan spirit world of demonology.
Yet he cast out many demons…
Thaddeus that is the NT eye witness report of the event. However the people were steeped in Persian and Roman cosmology like many cultures today, who believe in the influence of spirit beings on their lives. The Scripture clearly teaches God is sovereign over all things and the spirit of fallen man is in opposition to God. Persons who believe in demons require authority over their lives that they are free. They need to clear their mind of the superstition controlling their lives. Christians are not advocating a state of superstition should be acknowledge as real. You must advocate the purity of a relationship with the pure Character of the sovereign Lord?
Even the term Satan comes from the Hebrew meaning opponent and is used in the OT even of Yahweh who opposed Israels sin. The Greek Term Devil has become a misrepresentation of opponent as it constructs a demonology identity. Where it is used in the NT refers to persons actively opposing Jesus or the apostles. The belief in a spirit world independent of the mind of man belongs to paganism.
While I don’t disagree they were influenced by paganism, I must disagree with your dismissal of an actual Satan. The entire Bible is filled with references to Satan and demons. Even just calling him adversary doesn’t detract from his existence. That is a dangerous path of thought to take because if all the references to Satan and demons are figurative or metaphorical, than why aren’t the references to Jesus and God? Why is God real and those are not? The existence of such evil forces does not take away from the power of God, God is stronger. There is no dualism in Christianity; evil, death, and suffering will be destroyed someday. It also doesn’t remove the responsibility of our actions. Before Adam and Eve sinned they were protected from the internal influences of evil. Afterwards, evil was within them self-perpetuating. We are responsible for our choices, but that does not remove the existence of a contrary spirit. Also, if you remove a real Satan and his angels than it changes the entire nature of our interaction with God. Now God is ultimately the source of suffering.
I have experienced the supernatural. Evil presences in my room that only left at the name of Jesus. I know people personally who have seen apparitions of dead loved ones. My father is a Pastor and has dozens of accounts of encounters with evil spirits. My boss just went to India and at one church six people were possessed and given victory in Jesus name. To deny this reality, especially being Christian is to give the enemy great leeway to work behind the scenes.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
That whole line of thinking is Biblically illogical because not every person opposed to Jesus and the apostles was referred to as being demon possessed.
What kind of proof would you even accept? The answer is none. If I had video you would say I falsified it. If I had pictures you would say they were doctored. Obviously my words aren’t good enough. Even the corroborating testimonies of other witnesses to a particular event would not be sufficient. Even if you witnessed it for yourself you would rationalize it away. What about scientific evidence? First off, because these events are supernatural they are by definition outside the ability of science to prove definitively. Secondly, because I do believe in God you would accuse me of doctoring my results.
There is no proof you would accept because your heart is hardened against God. God brought 10 plagues on Pharaoh and basically destroyed his kingdom and still he would not relent.
There is a book called “One Miracle After Another: The Pavel Goia Story” by Greg Budd I highly recommend. I know this man personally and his integrity is beyond question. It is like $10 on amazon and I think you get it in the app or play store as well.
You’re quite correct – videos and photos can be, and are, routinely falsified. Would you accept such evidence if they were from some other religion – say Islam, or Hinduism, or some Pagan religion? Would you accept corroborating testimonies from others in those cases? Is your heart hardened against their gods? What evidence would you accept to change your minds in those cases?
Richard, You know very well that in paganism gods are viewed as minor demons, and neither have reality. A god is a being that can create, change and control events and human behaviour. No such beings have reality, except the power that created and set in motion our Universe.
As an atheist I don’t believe in the Pagan gods any more (or less) than I do the gods of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any of the other thousands of gods who are worshiped around the world. But your response does indicate that your heart is hardened against all those gods (other than the one you have chosen to believe in). The Pagan gods have the power to control the weather, the seas, the sun, the planets, fertility, and all sorts of other phenomena. They have dominion over the afterlife. They even mated with human virgins, much as your own god is reported to have done. Why do you dismiss them as minor demons, and how do you know they don’t exist?
Many do accept such evidence. I do not worship those gods because they are not worthy of worship. My God is the creator of the universe and loves me. “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 Islam is the closest to Christianity because it can be traced straight to Abraham, but it doesn’t have Jesus. There is no savior in Islam, therefore there is no hope of redemption. Judaism has the hope of a savior and redemption, but by rejecting the savior they are waiting aimlessly for a Messiah who has already come. Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, and other “pagan” religions do not believe in those deities just because of some preconceptions. They have seen supernatural events which are credited to those deities. You go to places like Haiti and they are terrified of the voodoo witch doctors. Why? because if the witchdoctor curses someone they are almost sure to die. The Bible has an explanation of what those “deities” are in Deuteronomy 32:17.
“They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.”
In Hinduism, with its 33 million gods, there is a legend that a third of the stars fell from heaven and became the of hinduism. Sound familiar? There are tribes in Sudan who have had almost no interaction with Christianity and they have separate sacrifices for God and for the demons.
Most legend is always rooted in some kind of truth. It takes only 3-4 generations for a story to begin breaking down. Much of what we see in these religions is superstition. Like in the Thailand mountain tribes if they think a spirit is angry with them they do this ritual where they bring meat and alcohol (sound familiar?) and chant this stuff to “appease” the spirit. Mostly superstition. These people are oppressed by these spirits and these rituals were instituted long ago by the spirits to control populations and keep them from the knowledge of God. All the religions of the world have their roots in the monotheism of ancient Mesopotamia which became Christianity after Jesus’ incarnation. It is amazing to read the legends of these cultures and see how similar they are to the Bible account. Twisted in many ways though they are. It fits right into the Biblical account of the dispersal of people from Babel. Everyone would have taken a knowledge of God with them.
Thaddeus, All those experiences are real to people who fear and are obsessed by belief in a spirit world. However they are all in the persons mind from upbringing and social influences. No person understanding the behaviour of the human mind believe they exist beyond their belief system. The Satan whom Jesus encountered of Matthew 4 was the leader of the zealots held out at Masada opposing surrounding Roman forces. They were known to suck stones to reduce hunger, hence the challenge to Jesus. The battle in heavenly places is the interaction of belief systems and their power in human affairs, not some battle removed in the sky. Richard as an atheist in his belief system is part of that “opposition” in the spirit realm. The spirit realm is the human spirit. Heaven is not removed it is here, it is within as Jesus stated. It is the conflict of ideas and beliefs that determine behaviour. We are exchanging ideas in a spirit medium. As ideas are exchanged to another person there is power in those ideas and they battle as it were in the air or Greek pneuma.
God is a Spirit John 4:24. Jesus claimed to be God. If that is false than nothing Jesus said is worth listening to. If God is simply an idea than the idea is subject to human nature and can be shaped however the idea shifts. Their is no ultimate morality, no ultimate truth. No redemption. Jesus death on the cross is pointless. Frankly, it undermines the whole of Christianity. Satan being the leader at Masada is a new one, never heard that before. It can’t be true because the rebels took over Masada 30 years after Jesus died. There is absolutely no evidence in Scripture to support that conclusion and history makes it false. Caiaphas was removed as high priest shortly after Jesus death. He was not contemporary to Masada. The events of Jesus life happened long before Masada.
Heaven is both within and a real place. It is a state of mind that begins on earth by allowing the character of Jesus to dwell in us. What was Jesus referring to in John 14:1-3 if heaven is not a real place? Now Hell is not a real place, as in a place somewhere where the wicked are burned for eternity. Hell is on earth and is just a temporary situation. Heaven is where God is, this is why I push back against the idea of God being in our minds.
The idea that Satan and demons are figments of the imagination is false because the Bible records many witnesses to these events. While paganism was rampant in all ages, the Jews of Christ’s age were so anti-pagan that they had become ultra bigoted. They were sent into captivity in Babylon because they worshiped false God’s, they would never do that again. What destroyed the heard of swine on the other side of Galilee which caused the whole village to ask Jesus to leave? Is that all metaphorical? Your ideas are contrary to most of Jesus’ actual words. You are closer to Richard in your opposition than you believe.
Thaddeus, God is Spirit I totally agree with, as I am a monotheist. The scripture clearly teaches there is one God, One Spirit. But you believe there are multiple polytheistic spirits as beings influencing the world. The only beings opposed God and his followers are the evil and misguided spirits of humans.
Caiaphas was not the military leader of the Israeli Zealots held out in the desert opposed to the Roman occupation. Some of Jesus disciples were former zealots, and expected Jesus to militarily overthrow Rome see Acts 1: 6, Jesus conquered Rome by his love and sacrifice not by the sword as Peter and Judas thought.
If you read Revelation you will know John’s chief accuser [Satan] lived in Pergamon who was responsible for his imprisonment on Patmos. Read Rev 2: 8 – 17. How did Satan manifest? by putting Christians in prison and bringing accusations against them before the authorities. The most anti Christ Satan [opponent] of Christ followers in today’s world is ISIS, North Korea. Also now rising the State of communist China. because there more Christians in China than members of the Communist Party, they fear it will become like South Korea. .
Humans are not robots of spirit beings, they willingly follow culture and ideas, unless they are under totalitarian control. .
I agree with most of what you say. There is only one God. I do not agree that there are not also other beings out there. These are not deities, they are fallen created beings, which set themselves up as deities to deceive people and lead them astray. The Bible talks about Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12 and alludes to him in Ezekiel 28:12-16. Lucifer desired to be God, even be above God and so he fell. He deceived Eve with the same temptation, to be like God.
The Bible also refers to angels as ministering spirits in Hebrews 1:14. Hebrews 13:2 commands to be hospitable because some have entertained angels unawares like Abraham did. These are created beings who serve God or in the case of Lucifer and his angels do not. You are correct that humans are not robots and that they willingly choose to follow culture and ideas. Demon possession only happens in the most extreme cases where someone has freely given their minds over to the control of another. In all other cases, the evil spirits are working behind the scenes to influence those desiring power and wealth with contrary ideas.
The seven churches in Revelation are symbolic as is almost all of the language in Revelation. Revelation 1:19: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” The word “angel” simply means messenger. In Revelation the word angel here is symbolic, probably meaning the leaders of each of these churches. The names of these churches are also symbolic. If you study church history. The characteristics of each of these churches describe perfectly the characteristics of the church from the Apostalic time to the present. The Bible often uses real events as the basis for symbols which pertain to a future event as is the case with your reference to Pergamos. In John’s time Pergamum was the center of Hellenistic thought and the seat of the cult of the Roman emperors. Because of the local references the symbolism refers to a future church which would blend paganism with Christianity and desire the worship of God.
Thaddeus, Lucifer refers to the Babylonian Empire as it fell from its position of power to the Persians. Fallen from heaven refers to falling from power and influence, as Jesus said in Luke 10: 18 he saw his opponents [Satan] fall from heaven; referring to the overthrow of his religious opponents by Rome. Note how many Jews died at the sacking of Jerusalem.- thousands.
These are metaphorical texts. The Bible uses Babylon to refer to the side opposing God in prophetic texts. He also uses Tyre and some others. These are prophecies with dual meanings. They refer to the earthly kingdoms, but also to the fate of the power behind these kingdoms and the ultimate fate of evil itself.
Your interpretation of Luke 10:18 very wrong. Nothing in the context gives the impression of what you say. I agree that the term “fall from heaven” implies defeat, however this is not referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. This is referring to salvation and victory of the people freed from the oppression of Satan. Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world. He never intended to set up an earthly kingdom.
Again we have to look at the timing of these events. The destruction of Jerusalem did not happen for more than 30 years after Jesus death. There are plenty of historical references in Scripture that allow us to pinpoint with pretty good precision when these events happened. Pontius Pilate was no longer prefect, Caiaphus was no longer High Priest, etc. I didn’t say Caiaphus was the leader of the zealots, I said this could not have been the leader of the rebels at Masada because they hadn’t taken Masada yet.
Thaddeus, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, When did that happen? Not while he was alive see Matthew 24: 2 Jesus could see that the theology and war agenda of the Zealots was not the character of God, that is why he did not join them in an attempt to overthrow Rome from Jerusalem and become King of a nationalist Israel. His kingdom was open for all men and of the heart to be subject to God. The leader of the Zealots challenged him to throw down the Roman guard from the Temple turret to prove himself that he was from God, or by jumping on escape he would not be hurt. The turret of the Temple housed a Roman guard to keep watch over proceedings and was less than three meters square. Jesus with many others objected to the Romans collecting taxes on Temple sacrifice, Give to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar [which was a Roman silver denari a tax coin with Caesar’s portrait for paying tax]
However the remaining zealots at Masada believing this text of the Psalm jumped to their unfortunate death at Masada when Roman soldiers invaded Masada. They tempted God to save them and if Christ Jesus had joined them his death would not be the cursed death of the Roman Cross but death at his own hands – suicide. He was about 30 when he was crucified in AD 33 so could be in his 70’s if at Masada. I suggest you read the Dead sea scrolls from the Qumran community and Josephus.
[…] sort of thing” (4). Some very similar views were expressed by the former atheist literary critic Holly Ordway who also has an awesome testimonial of her […]
I read her story and see she beleives the Bible is real, and Jesus is true. I missed where she repented and asked Him to come into her heart, forgive her of her sins, and accept Jesus as personal Savior according to scripture. The devils beleive and tremble, but will not receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Heaven is 6 inches from the head knowledge being moved to the heart through faith. Is she “Born Again”.
I perceive that those that believe there is no God are their own God. Therefore in control of their own decision and destiny. This too validates the Word of God in that God never sends anyone to hell. We do that by ourselves ny closing our minds and turning our backs on His love and sacrifice. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten (God did His part by doing all possible to bring us in relationship with His Holiness.) Son, (Jesus the center and holy sacrifice for all) that whosoever beleiveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The fact that you “perceive” this, doesn’t mean it’s true. Neither I, nor any other atheists I know, worship anyone, least of all ourselves. We are in control of our own decisions, but our decisions do not entirely control our destinies, as we are also subject to the decisions of others, the circumstances of our births and our lives, and to random events.
And THAT fact, if anything, would invalidate your doctrine. The reality is that most folks believe in the god(s) of their parents, and only a relatively small percentage choose to deviate from the religion into which they were indoctrinated (aka brainwashed). Had you been raised a Muslim, you would almost certainly be preaching the “truth” of Islam. So for all those who were raised into other faiths, the deck is stacked against them, in terms of the likelihood of them turning their backs on their own faith, and deciding instead that Christianity is the one true religion.
[…] https://jamesbishopblog.com/2015/01/29/atheist-professor-becomes-christian/?wref=tp […]