Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A look at how a former skeptic changed his mind about God’s existence

Reformed Seth sent me this post from the ultimate object blog.

Excerpt:

“There has been some confusion and more than a few requests for explanation about what is going on with my core beliefs. Some time last week, I realized that I could no longer call myself a skeptic. After fifteen years away from Christianity, most of which was spent as an atheist with an active, busy intent on destroying the faith, I returned to a church (with a real intention of going for worship) last Sunday. Although I know I may struggle with doubt for the rest of my life, my life as an atheist is over.

The primary motivator in my change of heart from a Christ-hater to a card-carrying Disciples of Christ member was apologetic arguments for God’s existence. Those interested in these arguments may pursue them in the comments section, but I don’t want to muddle this explanation up with formal philosophical proofs. Briefly, I grew tired of the lack of explanation for: the existence of the universe, moral values and duties, objective human worth, consciousness and will, and many other topics. The only valid foundation for many of those ideas is a personal, immaterial, unchanging and unchangeable entity. As I fought so desperately  to come up with refutations of these arguments – even going out of my way to personally meet many of their originators, defenders, and opponents  – I realized that I could not answer them no matter how many long nights I spent hitting the books. The months of study rolled on to years, and eventually I found an increasing comfort around my God-believing enemies and a growing discontent and even anger at my atheist friends’ inability to kill off these fleas in debate and in writing, an anger that gave birth to my first feeling of separateness from skepticism after reading comments related to a definitively refuted version of the Christ Myth theory, the idea that Jesus Christ never even existed as a person at all. Line after line after line of people hating Christianity and laughing at its “lie,” when solid scholarship refuting their idea was ignored completely. It showed that the motive of bashing and hating Christianity for some skeptics wasn’t based in reason and “free thinking” at all, although it would be unfair to lump many of my more intellectually rigorous and mentally cool skeptic friends in this way.

As time went on, I reverted the path I traced after giving up Christianity so long ago: I went from atheist to agnostic to … gulp … *leaning* in the direction of God, to finally accepting that he very well could exist, and then to coming out and admitting (quietly) He did exist. After considering Deism (the belief in a God who abandons His creation), Islam, Hinduism (yes, Krishna, don’t laugh), Baha’i, and even Jainism briefly, I have decided to select Christianity due to its superior model for human evil and its reconciliation, coupled with the belief that God interacted with man directly and face-to-face and had *the* crucial role in this reconciliation. This, of course, doesn’t prove that Christianity is absolutely true (although I can prove that God exists), but rather reflects my recognition that Christianity is exactly what I would expect to be the case given that God exists.

I feel guilty when I read posts like that… I think to myself “you shouldn’t be so mean to people who disagree with you, maybe they are like this guy – honestly thinking things through and willing to change their minds”. Sigh. I feel so guilty right now.

I really like what he had to say about reconciliation, though. I feel the pressure to reconcile people to God through Christ’s offer of forgiveness – that’s why I work so hard on apologetics, and to have money to buy people things they need for their studying. To really get people to be reconciled, you have to be convincing. You have to be persuasive. And you can’t do that without having studied the arguments and the evidence.

I also agree with him about the reconciliation. The resurrection is a good argument, but it’s inductive – it’s the best explanation based on the historical bedrock that we have. But what clinches the case for Christianity in the end is Christ descending from his glory to suffer with us – and for us, too.

In case any of you haven’t read my testimony, it’s right here.

Seth also found evidence that this guy really was a skeptic before. (That link goes to John Loftus’ “Debunking Christianity” web site)

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8 Responses

  1. Shawn White says:

    At the EPS Apologetics conference a couple of weeks ago, WLC read the email he received from him before Moreland stood up to give his talk on “Love Your God With All Your Mind.” It was a great thing to hear from WLC and it was incredibly encouraging.

  2. CB says:

    To really get people to be reconciled to God, you need the Holy Spirit.

    • I think all Christians agree with that, CB, apologetics is just a tool the Holy Spirit can use. Many Christians seem to think that personal testimonies or sermons are the only legitimate means though.

  3. ToddF says:

    I heard about this on the STR podcast. Very cool.

  4. zakiaminu says:

    He made it quite clear that stout and uncompromisingly logical defense of the truth was key to his change of mind. He found through this alone the only firm anchorage he could rely on whenever the inner storms raged – until he was able to reach land: Conviction in the Existence of God.

    This highlights the importance of speaking up firmly in defense of the Truth – especially in debates against atheists. This is the best help for them; not indulging them by being “nice” to them.

  5. eMatters says:

    God ordains the ends and the means. He uses apologetics with some. The Bible is the key, of course, but many won’t even consider the Bible because of the way they’ve been taught to dismiss it.

  6. Bernie says:

    WK, When talking to people who don’t believe in the existence of God or if they do, believe in a God other than the God the Bible, I try to keep in mind that they are “captured by the lie.” The world, the flesh and the Devil, so to speak, have told them a lie and they can’t see the truth. Without the Holy Spirit, they won’t be able to. But our job as apologists/evangelists it to provide both relational and rational arguments to help the Holy Spirit do His work. For some the resistance is volitional, a hurt, a bad experience with Christians or blaming God for evil that has happened to them or others. Or maybe that are unwilling to give up their lifestyle. For some, it just doesn’t make rational sense – God is not scientific enough.

    When we give a defense of our faith, its best to look at that person and realize they are hurting and lost (both in this world and spiritually) because they have been captured by the lie and need our help to be freed from it. People will perceive your love and concern for them and will more likely be open to hearing what we have to say. Not all of course, but the more Christians that approach that angry, defensive atheist with genuine care for their eternal destiny, they are more likely to soften and be able to hear the message.

    So, when confronting that angry person, look deep into their eyes while thinking: I am sorry that you have no idea what lies ahead of you in eternity and I want to do everything I can to help convince you of the truth and turn you from that path of destruction.

    Keep up the fantastic work, Wintery! You have affected the life’s of many for the good.

  7. This is encouraging. It’s so easy to stop with appearances and completely miss the earnestly questioning mind.

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