A Lifelong Atheist
Lifelong atheist Jennifer Fulwiler speaks candidly about growing up in an environment where scientific materialism and naturalism was her way of life. (For her nightly bedtime reading, her father read from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.)
(I encourage you to visit the excellent website, ExploreGod.com, where you can watch the original video about Jennifer and also find a safe place to ask questions about God. You might also want to check out other articles from the Seeker category of GodRunning.com.)
Jennifer says she was raised on a diet of science, and reason, and evidence based rational thought. She says, “You believe what you can prove. I believe that I have hands because I can see them. I believe in a black hole even though I’ve never seen one but science can tell us about the way matter moves around it that we can observe. And so this very rational worldview always made sense to me on a fundamental level.
A Collection Of Chemical Reactions
“Before I got to the point that I could really start researching faith with an open mind, something had to happen. And for me that occurred after my first child was born. I looked down and thought, ‘What is this baby?’ And I thought, ‘Well, from a pure atheist materialist perspective, he is a collection of randomly evolved chemical reactions.’ And I realized if that’s true, [then] all the love that I feel for him, that it’s all nothing more than chemical reactions in our brains. And I looked down at him, and I realized: that’s not true. It’s not the truth. And I didn’t know where to go from there but that’s what prompted me to start researching topics of spirituality.
Anything Could Be True Except For Christianity
“I got my books about buddhism and you know, and about every religion except for Christianity, basically. I assumed anything could be true except for Christianity. And my husband, who considered himself a nonpracticing Christian, said, ‘You might want to start with the one major world religion whose founder claimed to be God. After all that’s a really easy claim to disprove if it’s not true. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s a fair point.’
Intellectually Rigorous Books
“I was such a through and through atheist that I have to admit I was ignorant of all these great Christian thinkers. What about Thomas Aquinas? What about Augustine? What about Descartes? I mean, all of these great thinkers throughout history were not only theists but Christians. And I was really surprised when I actually found these very intellectually rigorous books where people talked about their faith from a place of reason, and not a place of emotion. And when I looked at evidence like that, on the whole, I started to think something explosive, something world changing happened in first century Palestine.
There Was No Material Benefit For Anyone Who Joined This New Religion
“You have this guy named Jesus who comes from a lower class region, gains a bunch of lower class followers, and ends up being executed by the Romans. And yet in droves you see thousands and thousands of Jews giving up these traditions that they had held dear for thousands of years. And, the people who joined in on this new religion, there was no benefit for them. It was a persecuted religion. People who joined this religion, [it] didn’t tend to work out too well. They tended to lose social status and often face death.
Still Not Convinced
“But, I wasn’t yet convinced and ready to become a Christian. And so I started a blog: I just threw out every hard question I could think of. I just put it all out there on the blog. And as I would watch the atheists and the Christians go back and forth and debate, I realized, we atheists, we don’t have the lock on reason that I thought we did. But what I saw with the Christians was, they had that too, they had all the knowledge of science and the material world that we atheists did. But yet, they had the total picture of the human experience: of love, and triumph, and hope. And they could articulate that in a way that the atheists couldn’t.
A Prayer Uttered
“It wasn’t until after I had made the intellectual decision to become a Christian that I think I finally believed it in my heart. When I set my pride aside and said, ‘Okay, I feel like I’m talking to myself but Jesus, I want a relationship with you. I want to know you even though I don’t how to go about doing that.’
“This peace entered my life. This joy. The way my whole being was transformed there was just no question that, this is somebody real. I think that, not only am I more alive now that I’m a Christian but I’m so much more intellectually alive. Finally nothing is off limits. I can ask questions about science but I can also ask questions about the spiritual world. And I’m free to seek the truth.”
ExploreGod: The creators of the original Jennifer Fulwiler video.
You can read more from Jennifer on her blog, Why I’m Catholic.