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Philosophy Lite: Journey from atheism to Christianity

Nov. 30, 2010 at 5:30 a.m.
Updated Dec. 3, 2010 at 6:03 a.m.

Raymond Smith

By Raymond Smith

The testimony of a former atheist who converted to Christianity can have a powerful influence. As that person relates his journey from unbelief to belief, he will not likely be doubted - his words will have a ring of credibility as he pours out his heart.

For this writing, I present several men who came to believe after several years of atheism. These persons are all highly intelligent men and represent a wide spectrum of technology, science and education.

One of the most famous of these was C.S. Lewis. One of the greatest Christian thinkers of the 20th century, Lewis was a respected scholar and teacher at Oxford University for 29 years and then a professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University to the end of his career. An atheist throughout his early life, he adopted theism in 1929 and converted to Christianity in 1931. There were several men who influenced Lewis: G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugh Dyson. One night, he took a long walk with Tolkien and Dyson. Their words ministered to his lingering doubts and questions, and, as he said, "When we set out to Warnade Zoo, I did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo, I did."

The factors that went into that conversion were, the close friendship of other well-educated men, the mentoring they gave him, the ability of all of them to use reason and logic to arrive at a right decision and, most importantly, an open mind to consider the arguments.

As longtime head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins is one of America's most visible scientists. He turned to Christianity because he found no satisfactory explanation in Darwinian evolution for the presence of moral law. He cites C.S. Lewis as key to his conversion. In his new book, "The Language of God," the title is superimposed on a drawing of the double helix. He writes that the God of the genome can be worshipped in the laboratory, as well as in the church.

Marvin Olasky was an avowed atheist and Marxist in high school and a member of the Communist party in 1972. While attending the University of Michigan, he had a spiritual awakening either because of a decision to read the New Testament in Russian, or a sudden existential crisis while reading Lenin. Olasky found himself a fervent supporter of the Christian conservative movement. Baptized as a Presbyterian in 1976, he helped found the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin.

While the Christian religion can easily be accepted as a child, it also makes sense to the intellectual if his mind is open to the truth. Unfortunately, many people cling to their atheism as a "religion," and are not interested in exploring the matter further.

Some other men of note that converted from atheism to Christianity include Josh McDowell, Mortimer Adler, Anthony Flew, Lee Strobel, Whitaker Chambers and William Murray.

Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria

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