Dr. Wayne Rossiter is the assistant professor of Biology at Waynesburg University. He also has a PhD in ecology and evolution from Rutgers University (1). The university at which he now teaches is a Christian university and he has also penned a book, Shadow of Oz, that focuses on theistic evolution.
Growing up, Rossiter had a keen interest in science. He was particularly interested in chemistry, meteorology and biology but most of all he had an interest in origins. However, it was not science itself that caused him to doubt his atheism. Instead, it was what he saw as the consequences of atheistic science that got him questioning his philosophy (3). While still studying at university Rossiter became further convinced of his atheistic views and would even go on to become quite antagonistic towards religion and belief in God. According to him him he “had developed into a staunch and cantankerous atheist by the time I got to Rutgers to pursue a Ph.D. This was aided by an equally atheistic advisor who was of Dawkins’s ilk. Advanced education at our best universities is surprisingly insular. Like bobbleheads, we tend to read and agree on the same things, and give little to no countenance to critics of our views” (4). But Rossiter says that it was two big existential questions that got him to question his atheism. On one winter’s night in March of 2008 after he and his wife had finished celebrating an academic milestone she went to bed, but he stayed up to ponder the celebration. He found himself asking three questions.
The first question focused on the objective nature of morality that is inexplicable on an atheistic worldview where morals are no more than mere personal preferences, “On what rational grounds,” says Rossiter, “could I care about the state of the planet (or even my family) after I’m gone? And what did I even mean by ‘good’ or ‘bad’? I couldn’t argue that any objective morality existed apart from our subjective experiences. Any moral laws that might objectively exist – whether or not anyone ascribes to them – would be beyond our grasp, and we would have no objective or rational reason to obey them if they did exist.”
Secondly, if atheism was true then nothing ultimately mattered in the end since meaning and purpose are merely subjective illusions conjured up in the minds of men in a universe that couldn’t care, “Nothing mattered. This is Dennett’s ‘universal acid’ and Darwin’s ideas applied that acid to the human condition. If molecules led to cells, and cells to organs, and organs to bodies, then the ‘molecules-to-man’ hypothesis was true. We really were just wet computers responding to external stimuli in mechanical and unconscious ways. No soul, no consciousness. Just machines. I was completely and utterly devastated” (5).
This led him to the realization that atheism was philosophically bankrupt. It supplied life with no meaning whatsoever, and could not provide a rational foundation for the objective moral standard inherent to him and his fellow human beings. This so impacted Rossiter that he sought out psychiatric counseling. After finding a counselor he discovered that he was in fact a Christian. This interested him since it seemed that an intellectual could believe in God and find such a belief both rational and compelling. This was the little nudge Rossiter needed to get him to cross the boundary. He subsequently rejected his atheistic view of science and morality, and eventually become a Christ follower. Taking this big step urged him to begin reading other books written by intellectual Christians who believed in God specifically from a scientific point of view. Rossiter’s book tells of his personal story and transition.
1. Furches, J. 2017. How an atheist biologist was violently converted to Christianity. Available.
2. Evolutions News & Views. 2016. Listen: Wayne Rossiter on Atheism and Theistic Evolution. Available.
3. Wile, J. 2016. Another Atheist Who Became a Christian. Available.
4. Rossiter, W. 2015. Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God. p. 3-4.
5. Rossiter, W. 2015. Ibid. p. 4-5.