Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I Renounced Atheism

I grew up in an atheist family in one of the most un-churched areas in the nation so it is no surprise that I embraced atheism from a young age. When I reached high school I vociferously argued against Christians whom I thought were irrational believers of fairytales. I quickly latched onto atheist Existentialism which I believed explained the meaning of life and evolution which I thought provided proof that we don’t need God. However, as I got older my belief in atheism began to be shaken.

The first major shock came from physics class. I learned about the fine tuning of the physical constants shortly after the big bang. I learned how incredibly improbable it was that the universe was formed in such a way as to be amenable to life. If the universal constants were set even just a little bit differently then stars and life would not have formed. I saw that it came down to three options 1) the universe improbably just happened to be this way 2) there are multiple universes and we happen to be in the one where there is life or 3) God set the constants so life could form. Since there is no proof of a multiverse and the odds of the universe forming by chance are so low (one estimate puts them at 1/10,000,000,000124) it seemed like atheism was a belief as much as theism. When you coupled this with the fact that science has yet to explain what caused the big bang I began to come to the conclusion that agnosticism was the most rational viewpoint.

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in philosophy and in particular metaphysics. I have always been consumed by the question of the meaning of our lives. I read several works by Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus in the hope that atheist Existentialist would have an answers to my questions. I learned existence precedes essence—that we are responsible for creating the meaning of our lives. However, I began to see that this was not a very satisfying answer because there is no objective meaning in our lives. What happens to the meaning that I created when I die? The answer of course is that it disappears just like all my memories that I created. I learned that science shows that one day the earth will be destroyed. One day the sun will turn into a red giant and scorch the earth as it expands before cooling forever. The universe is doomed to because entropy will cause all the stars to die. So, the human race is doomed and all our work and memories will be lost. It became apparent that without a God and an afterlife our lives were essentially meaningless and futile. This troubled me greatly.

Looking back I believe that the Holy Spirit was using these discoveries to try me closer to God. I discovered that atheism is a belief that says that God probably doesn’t exist. I was skeptical about the belief that God does not exist since atheists just did not have enough proof. However, at that point in my life I could only say that I wasn’t sure if God existed or not. It would not be until later in college that I would learn more about the resurrection of Jesus and the emergence of the early church which I have written about here that I could consider accepting the claims of Christianity.


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  2. Oh if only I had a conversion story such as this, may I borrow it? You are far more the intellectual than I. When people sit around sharing conversion stories I can only remain silent as I have no recollection of any point at which I was saved (perhaps I should ask, was I?). I have of course had several periods where I attempted to suppress the Truth, but this has only ever lead to great mourning as the Truth always pushes back harder. Feeling crushed between two great stones I each the scroll which tastes sweet as honey in my mouth, but too much at once can make my stomach bitter. Perhaps this is why Joshua is only allowed to eliminate Israel's enemies little-by-little, "lest the wild beasts multiply around you".