Great testimonies

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Great testimonies

Postby stcordova » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:03 pm

I found this on reddit. As I find more stories, I'll post them. Anyone feel free to post great testimonies.

The Full story why I converted


After several posts and lengthily debates on here over several issues, I want to explain why I converted to Christianity after being asked several times across multiple threads and posts.

The context: I was an atheist and I had been since the age of fifteen. I was raised in a secular home in the UK and attended schools affiliated with the Church of England. There were songs, prayers and the usual trappings of Christianity that most people in Britain have at primary school and don't worry about. My secondary (High School) did not have collective worship and was, by British standards, very secular. I studied religion at A-Level (16-18) and knew about different cultures and practices. I became an atheist at 15 after reading the New Atheist books and the 'penny drop' moment was god is not Great and finding out about apparent discrepancies in the birth narratives of Jesus.

I was quite vocal at first but scaled it back to a more live and let live outlook. From the ages of 15-19, I was involved in Left-wing politics in the UK and even went on demonstrations in London. Marxism, then anarchism before finally abandoning revolutionary politics for the practicalities of social democracy and anti-utopianism. Life would never be perfect, all we could do was adjust the market system to make things as good as possible and let people "follow their bliss", as a then-hero Joseph Campbell said. My career ambitions were set on academia and writing for a living; above all, I just wanted to be part of the intelligentsia.

Over 2013 I was growing more and more aware that the moral high ground was not on the side of leftism or intellectualism. Visiting Central Europe and seeing the museums of the Communist era made me realise it was more than 'evil people who happened to be atheists' but the mass suppression of religion and belief which had taken place in every Communist state on Earth. I was increasingly embarassed to be in any way associated with Richard Dawkins and his bizarre public outbursts. But I was still an atheist. And I was still wrapped up in all my worldly ambitions and interests. I loved classic rock, GTA games and obscure policy debates about higher education. I was also obsessed with financial planning and saving for my future to the point of agonising with strain whenever someone asked to borrow money - this despite having saved several thousand. And I did what other young men do; lusting after women, procrastinating work and suiting up for nights out. All of this was part-and-parcel with assuming that morality was entirely based on what benefited or harmed other humans and the absence of any Divine authority. I had ultimately few, if any binding obligations to fellow humans that weren't based on subjective or alterable whims. I did some things for charity or kindnesses for strangers but they were practically whimsical and subordinate to my own concerns.

I felt compelled at New Year to read work by someone I had previously despised, Peter Hitchens, the brother of my all-time hero Christopher Hitchens. His book, The Rage Against God was a deeply disturbing wake-up call. There was nothing 'new' about the New Atheists - it had all been said and done before in the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, everything from banning parents from raising their children religious to declaring science had triumphed over religion. So much evil had been done in the name of, and because of the anti-theistic convictions of the communists it put the Inquisition and the Witchcraze to shame. And disgustingly, Christopher Hitchens had even tried to blame it all on religion; the twisted logic resulted in him holding the Russian Orthodox Church responsible for Stalin. Really, the New Atheism was (as I had already recognised) functioning like a cult for intellectuals, mostly millionaires, journalists, academics, actors, comedians and scientists with no real understanding of theology or religious history.

I was desperate to still be an atheist, one who 'loved religion' or saw it as a form of cultural expression to be celebrated. But this was just trying to find an escape. I physically felt compulsions to read more and more about Christianity and its history. It was an emotionally trying experience and fear was extremely pervasive. But all my prior convictions in the Enlightenment, the superiority of science to religion and the moral fortitude of humanism were demolished. Repeatedly I tried to find a way out and get back to being a happy, carefree non-believer. But as Peter Hitchens said, "I knew I was among the damned." This kind of physical episode, in which I felt forced to read up on all the things I'd previously avoided, recurred again and again. I don't know if I could call this a 'religious experience' but it certainly felt like one and it made me re-examine everything I once believed.

This is why I converted. As atheists, we were smart enough to outgrow the religion fed to us as children and see through it. But then we think we're smarter than all religion, all theology and we have it cracked. We think we've found answers ("Ah, the Evangelists were unknown, the Bible was written by many authors, Genesis isn't literally true") then act like we've solved the mystery. And we don't appreciate why there are still 2.2 billion Christians. They're not all ignorant, stupid or deluded. We just don't bother reading or listening to the serious theology or uncomfortable facts. Why do 'skeptic' conventions host crackpot pseudo-scholars advocating the 'Christ Myth' theory?. Why is Bill Maher's absurd labelling of religion as a 'neurological disorder' with no basis in science received with applause? And why do the New Atheists get excused for making historical which would be inexcusable in others - such as Christopher Hitchens embracing the Christ Myth theory.

I converted because I could no longer take atheism or non-belief seriously and had a lot of reasons to take Christianity more seriously than before. I had never wanted to take it seriously because it would shatter my comfortable existence. But in honesty and truth, I have to respect the work of people like N.T. Wright and William Lane Craig more than the wishful denialism of the New Atheists. Instinctively, I still feel very attached to the secular humanist world and a lot of me still wants my old life and beliefs back. But doing so would be for my own selfish and unjustifiable purposes, and I fear the Last Judgement enough as it is.

I hope this clarifies a lot of my previous posts. Thank you.

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