How an Atheist Came to Believe (8:36)
To see the evidence that led this atheist to conclude God exists, please ask for this free 7-part series: Reasons to Believe: The Spiritual Adventure Pack (delivered by email).
As an atheist, I was absolutely convinced that God did not exist. I thought it was all made up, that people who were emotionally needy created God.
Then I met a friend of mine who was smart. And I couldn’t understand how somebody that smart could believe in God.
I also admired her life, her love for other people, her sense of calm and inner strength. She seemed to have a sense of direction in her life. And it was just impressive.
She attributed everything to God. She would tell me about things she was praying about and I would see them get answered over and over again.
So there was a sense in which I wanted God to exist, but that’s not going to make God real. You can’t believe in something just because you want it to be real. I had to be intellectually convinced it was true.
So I debated my friend for about a year and a half. It was almost daily. And part of it was like many atheists, where I wanted to convince her that her beliefs were totally unfounded, that they were empty, that there was no factual basis for it at all.
At the same time, she was my good friend, so I was also kind about it. I wasn’t mean. But I did want to point out to her that her faith was based on nothing.
So I would ask questions like, “What about this…” and “How do you prove this…” And she would mostly roll her eyes and say, “Where do you come up with these questions?”
But then she would because she was my friend and loved me, would go to the effort to try to find answers for me. And then she would come back with answers.
Like I said, this went on for a year and a half. Let me mention, while we would debate, of course my defenses were way up. I was thinking of rebuttals. That was my entire focus and winning the argument. I was really into existential philosophy and I just thought that way.
Well eventually, she gave me a book. It was Paul Little’s book, Know Why You Believe. I remember I was on my own, I was away from her. And alone, my defenses could come down and I could be very honest. I didn’t have to defend anything.
And I remember looking at the table of contents, and just seeing, “Is there a God?” and it was going to be answered in seven pages. And “Is Jesus God? Is the Bible reliable?” All these questions. And I was just encouraged that somebody would at least try to put it down in black and white that clearly and succinctly.
I was always open to be convinced otherwise, but you know, my friend never knew that. It was many, many years later that I found out that she never really believed that I would ever believe in God. So it isn’t like she’s providing these answers for me thinking eventually I would become a Christian. She didn’t think I ever would. And I didn’t want her to know that I was open. And this is my closest friend.
So at any rate as she gave me the book and I was going through it, it was the earth’s distance to the sun and the properties of water that mostly convinced me of God’s existence.
A fun little factoid I read yesterday…if you look at the normal size of a front door of a house, if the sun was at the top of the door, the earth would be like a nickel sitting at the bottom. Considering the size of the earth and its distance to the sun, I knew that the margin of error was so, so slight that I knew that it wasn’t by chance.
And then you add up all these other scientific evidences. God was very kind to provide that kind of factual basis for me, because I couldn’t word-smith my way around it. I couldn’t philosophize about it. They were scientific facts in black and white.
So for me, I needed something way more than a gospel presentation. That isn’t what I needed. It wasn’t that I needed someone to show me how to begin a relationship with God. That wasn’t my question. It was his existence. And that required different information.
So having the book brought me light years ahead faster than the year and a half of debates and conversations with my friend that hadn’t moved me very far along at all.
And that was my motivation in building EveryStudent.com. It was to provide that kind of information for people that they could go to on their own, when their defenses can come down and they can be honest, when they’re by themselves.
Now my friend did play a role. Even though I had all this information, that isn’t when I became a Christian. It was a couple of weeks later that I was still debating her.
So it was kind of like somebody deciding that it’s probably safe to take this flight, but they hadn’t booked their ticket yet. That was kind of where I was at. I wasn’t really ready to acknowledge God’s existence even though I had some evidence.
So as we were debating again one night, she said to me, “You know, I can’t make this decision for you and God’s not going to wait forever.” And that seemed logical to me.
So I went home and I called her and said, “Ask me tomorrow. I’m tired of putting this off.” And that’s it. It weighed on me. Did God exist or not? And I wanted to make that decision one way or another. I was either going to believe or I was never going to consider God again. That was my first decision I made that night.
And then three or four hours later, after reviewing all the evidence, I just said, “Ok God, you win. I ask you to come into my life and you can do with it whatever you want.”
So let me give you one more illustration quickly, on somebody else I met who also would give the impression that they were completely settled in their beliefs, but they weren’t. And it was a guy…I was standing outside of a Walmart and he drove up. He had a bumper sticker on his car that said, “Born Again Pagan.”
So I stopped him and said, “Excuse me, I just have to ask you about your bumper sticker.” And he said, “Oh yeah, greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.” And I said, “You mean worshiping the god of wind, fire, rain, etc., right? I don’t know a lot about it. But is that what it is?” He said, “Yeah. My brother turned me onto it. It’s changed my life.”
And I said, “Well, I don’t know a lot about paganism, but I used to be an atheist. And I studied existential philosophers like Nietzsche and Sartre and all the others. And then a friend shared with me how I could know the God who created the universe by asking Jesus into my life. And when I did, my search ended.” And he looked at me and he said, “That’s me. I’m searching.”