Atheism to Christ

I grew up secularly. My mom was brought up in the Church of Christ denomination, and my dad somewhat in the Episcopalian denomination, but the only church I remember going to as a child was the Unitarian Universalist one. And we only went there for a short time.

So when I became old enough to reason and think about such things I decided that I did not believe in God, and even actively rejected him. I was taught as truth the scientific theory that humans evolved from primordial ooze. Additionally, I was blessed with many gifts in academic and athletic areas, which at that time I considered all my own doing, and so I became a very arrogant and selfish young man.

Primordial Ooze (or lasagna)
Primordial Ooze (or lasagna)

Also, I based my perception of my worth as a person solely on what others thought of me, which led to me becoming very insecure deep down inside myself, which I did my best to hide from others. Eventually, this twisted way of thinking caught up with me, and I reached a point where I could not hide any longer from it. But first let me switch gears a little.

It was my sophomore year in college. On the outside, my life was really great: I made good grades in school, had a nice girlfriend, had a family that loved me, and had lots of friends. But on the inside, I was beginning to be eaten alive by anxiety. It started out small and slowly got worse. I began getting nervous in social situations like going to restaurants, or to the movies, and eventually even just being in class for school. My stomach would feel sick, and I would be afraid that I would have to run out of the classroom and be humiliated in front of everyone. All of my anxieties centered around this same fear, that people would discover I was so nervous and think I was weird.

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Disordered Anxieties

Other humiliating aspects of the anxiety disorder I suffered from included: When I felt really anxious I would begin noticeably sweating, for no apparent reason; when the anxieties became really bad, I would have panic attacks, where my heart would start beating really quickly and my fears would feed into each other in a spiraling cycle that I could not control.

At the root of it was the fact that I had built my life on what human beings thought of me rather than what God did. I didn’t realize any of this at the time, however. I persisted in my atheism and did my best to hide all my anxieties from others. I did a good job of this, bottling all of it inside myself and doing my best to “think” my way out of the fears. No one knew that I was going through these problems.

The disordered anxieties got worse and worse, reaching a climax my junior year of college. I was interning for a semester in Houston and living with my mom, and I began having headaches everyday that ended up lasting for 5 months straight. They wore down what little fight I had left within me, and near the end of my internship I was driving home each day hoping that a car would swerve into my lane and kill me.

It was then I faced for the first time what my atheistic beliefs really meant: Despair. “There is no hope; there is only empty blackness,” I realized, and the continual pain that I was enduring had removed the thin veneer of happiness that separated me from this despair.

Finally I told someone, my mom, about my anxieties (I thank God now for the fact that even being so messed up he gave me a loving mother that I could turn to when I had nowhere else to go). My mom suggested I see a psychologist, which humiliated me further, because in my arrogant mind, only “real weirdos” went to psychologists. “Guess what?” I thought to myself. “Now I’m one of those weirdos!”

Psychological Counseling

The psychologist was familiar with this type of anxiety disorder and helped me realize that I was not the only one who was afflicted with it, which made me feel a little bit better. She told me to do some “cognitive behavioral therapy” techniques, including breathing exercises, positive thinking, etc. which helped in a limited way, but they could not overcome the entrenched anxieties that ate at me.

I realized then that I was in trouble. I was clinically depressed, was suffering from panic attacks frequently, and everyday was a titanic struggle with never-ending anxieties. I “knew” that my problems were just chemicals in my brain that I could overcome by my own power. So I tried every tactic that I could think of to beat the anxiety.

Yet, nothing worked. My intelligence and abilities, upon which I had always relied, failed me utterly, and so I faced a choice: “Either I commit suicide and die, or I try to believe in God”.

I began praying, saying, “God, you know I do not believe in you, but I am in trouble and need help. If you are real, help me.” I started reading the Bible to learn about what Christianity said, and I began in Genesis (I was determined to begin at the beginning!). I knew that if God did not exist, then trying to believe in him would not work, because it would just be me trying one more “tactic” among the multitude that I had already tried and which had all failed. I realized that by my own power, I could not overcome this deadly problem.

Things began getting a little better for me at this point; I saw in my mind a little sapling in the woods, with huge trees towering over it: I knew that this sapling represented my faith in God: tiny, vulnerable, frail. All of my beliefs sought to destroy the sapling: abiogenesis, evolution, the absurdity of believing in God, the hopelessness that some other being could help me.

Sapling of Faith

And so I protected the sapling in my mind, knowing that I had to give it a chance to grow and that is was the only possible lifeline I had.

When I returned to school after the internship, I lived with a friend of mine who was a Baptist, and he took me to church with him each Sunday. It was a strange experience, being around people who were singing songs to God and praying together; my social anxiety disorder made it tough for me to sit anywhere in the church without feeling very anxious; I didn’t know the songs, nor the prayers (not even the Our Father), and so I felt even more an outsider.

Still, I persevered. I kept reading the Bible, asking my roommate questions about what I was reading, and praying. Then, slowly, and amazingly, my faith grew and it eventually threatened to whelm my many doubts and unbelief. It was really awesome!

The struggle to simply believe that God existed was tremendous for me, because I had been taught so much that God did not exist. As the months went by in my senior year of college, I deepened my friendships with the Christians I knew, did Bible studies, went to church and Sunday school regularly, and started calling myself a Christian.

The Bible

At one point the scales tipped and God came rushing in; it was like nothing I had experienced; I was given the courage and strength to face my fears and overcome them. I read the entire Bible from cover to cover and then began reading it again, along with other spiritual books. God had given me hope to replace my despair and faith and love to heal my deep wounds.

I encountered Jesus Christ for the first time and finally was able to receive the love that He had longed to give me for so many years. Jesus Christ, the Lord of the universe, who created the laws of physics in His brilliance and yet who also became a human being to rescue me from my sinful, selfish, meaningless way of living, this amazing man loved me and had created me to love Him forever and to love others.

I never saw a flash of light; I never heard Christ’s voice whisper in my ear; I never saw Jesus or an angel, but I believed in Him and believed that all He said is true. As I grew to learn His teachings and commands, I realized that He desires only what is good for us and that He alone knows best and completely what is good for us, what will fulfill us.

Picture of Christ, our Lord

I felt God taking a hold of me and my life changing dramatically. Finally, during my senior year, I was baptized in the Baptist church and became a member of it. I believed in Jesus Christ and that the Bible was the inerrant word of God. I had become, though I would not have called myself this, an evangelical Protestant, and my new life had begun!

You can read the next, unexpected step in my journey within the Christian faith here.

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13 thoughts on “Atheism to Christ”

  1. Hi! Thank you for putting this out there. Praise God! My good friend and I are trying to put together a short film about Atheism and the Atheistic Organization trying to over take Christianity…would you be willing to answer questions?

    Thank you!
    Caressa and Brandy

  2. Thank you for this post. I have just developed the same symptoms. However I grew up a PK, then converted to athiesm. Life is futile in that thinking. I turned to alcohol, which has compounded my problem. I asked God a few weeks back to reveal his plan for me. These panic attacks scare me to death. There is TERROR, and my blood pressure shoots sky high, to the point I have to take medication now. I think I have become physically addicted to alcohol instead of it being just emotional or psychological. If it is God’s will to shock me into treatment I will do so, but I am so scared. Pray for me. I realize that it took years to get to this point and it might take years to get out, but I want something better than the mess that I have created myself. Athiesm is a meaningless life and death.

  3. Hi John,

    Thank you for sharing some of what you are enduring at this time. I am praying for you.

    The panic attacks scared me to death as well, and the fear of another one happening made me even more anxious than I already was and fed into the cycle–it is really vicious.

    I would humbly submit two ideas for your consideration:

    1. Do whatever you need to do humanly speaking to find help with your addiction and panic attacks/anxiety (e.g. a GOOD counselor/psychologist–Christian if at all possible, a good treatment program and support group, medicine as necessary, family and friends who love you, and so on.)

    2. Continue to ask God to help you and to make all of these human-helps effective, for none will succeed without his grace aiding them. Pray! And keep praying, and don’t give up even if you fall and do something you know is wrong–ask God for forgiveness and help to get up and try again. Read the Bible; go to church; make friends there; ask Jesus to help you know him more and more everyday; He will not fail you!

    It took years for me to be healed of my disordered anxieties and other addictions, but God accomplished it in me. I failed many times and fell back into my old evil habits, but every time I asked him to pick me up again and forgive me, and he did. Don’t give up and don’t lose hope.

    Christ be with you my friend!

  4. Thank you Devin for this website, the real-life experiences you give witness to, and your account of your journey from disbelief to belief. Thanks too for your helpful responses here to those asking for guidance. You have a gift for truth, and for writing. Good luck with the book! Am sure it will be a great read. This is a very inspiring corner of the web, and an antidote to the despair the world wants us to accept. May God bless you. Thanks for the endeavor!

  5. Sean, thanks for your comment and encouragement, as well as the other comments you wrote this evening! God bless you and be with you.

  6. Bless you bro.
    I am always amazed by atheists who struggle with belief in God and come to faith. So foreign to my experience. My background has TOO MUCH belief in God(s)/religion to the point that every member of my family is a fundametalist in a different sect or religion. 4 different Protestant sects, me the new Catholic, and the Pantheist father. One big believing family!

    Anyway, I loved your story, and before I read the rest I wanted to get your take on evolution/creation. You told in your story how “All of my beliefs sought to destroy the sapling: abiogenesis, evolution,…”

    Do you maintain those beliefs? In the beginning of your story it seemed you implied evolution gave you a negative view of religion. What are your beliefs as a Catholic? I am struggling with this stuff now as a new Catholic. Catholics are evolutionists by and large, and seem to have little patience for my traditional beliefs on creation. I am really frustrated to be honest. Did you drink the cool-aid when you became Catholic or have you retained your creationist views (assuming you aquired them as a Baptist)?

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for sharing more about your own story. When I was becoming a Christian (and going to a Baptist church), evolution was a huge deal for me because I believed it all, and it had been a buttress supporting my atheistic beliefs. My Baptist church had a Sunday school class dedicated to debunking evolution pretty much across the board. The answers and arguments made seemed plausible to me then (and still largely do).

      Now that I am Catholic, I have realized that the Church gives more latitude in what one can believe about evolution. There is no dogma involved here. The only thing that cannot be held–as you probably know–is that man, including his soul, was the product of mere evolution rather than a special act of God’s creation.

      I’m essentially open to the limited view of evolution as occurring on a small scale, genus, species, perhaps even a bit higher up the taxonomy, but I don’t believe in life-from-non-life (abiogenesis), macro-evolution (that all creatures evolved from single-celled organisms), etc. You can hold to a range of beliefs on evolution, including more Baptist-like creationist ones, and no Catholic can tell you that you are going against the Church’s teachings.

      God bless!

  7. What a powerful story of conversion. Thank you for sharing your story, your struggle, and lessons learned. Praise God for the new life you have!

  8. Hmmm, thanks for calling me ignorant and blocking me from your Youtube video. I guess you don’t even listen to your video. You said to show you are a christian by showing atheist how god has changed your life. Well, if calling people ignorant is the christian way, well I guess I will take a pass. You show by your comment that you are a hypocrite.

    Maybe you should read your bible instead of just waving it at others. You never answered the catholic priest child molesting question. Hard to defend, I guess.

    Read I Peter 3:15. It says you should be able to answer the questions of non-believers. Blocking me and calling me ignorant is not providing an answer as your bible instructs.

    By the way, I know you will call me an atheist but I was a fundamental baptist for many years. I was about to enter seminary and I read the bible including I Peter 3:15. I concluded that there was no real proof for god.

    1. Tim,

      Welcome to my blog. Yes first-time commenters are moderated. It’s called, a WordPress default feature. But I also put into moderation comments from people who act disrespectfully, and you will be in this group.

      You are ignorant of many things, as I said in my comment to you over there. No worries, you can be instructed in them and no longer be ignorant. The word may have a negative connotation but its denotation is straightforward, and instructing the ignorant is a work of mercy according to the Catholic Church.

      You swaggered over to my youtube channel, watched the atheist video, got your ire up, then went over to a totally unrelated video and began the (baseless and confused) attacks. That is rude behavior. Here are the things you said that betrayed ignorance or deep confusion:

      So you say you cannot accept Matthew and Luke as an ad hoc arguement but then you turn around and quote John? Then you have the nerve to say the former is circulat logic. I love it.

      Ah, but didn’t listen long enough or didn’t pay attention to realize that the Catholic argument for accpeting Matthew, Luke, and John is not ad hoc–it is consistent. Now, it may still be the case that it is false (and that God did not inspire those books), but it is not ad hoc or circular.

      Catholics have to explain why the Vatican knowingl let dozen of priest sexually abuse children (I bet it had something to do with money). I see why you disabled comments, because you have no anwers.

      This is boilerplate silliness. People, including those in the Catholic Church have done and do evil things. Sometimes heinously evil ones. Often for the same reasons or excuses that non-Catholics do them. Welcome to the world; sin is a reality. But this doesn’t prove anything about the Catholic Church or her teachings, so you have no point.

      I disabled comments for the reasons I told you; your accusation here was and is false.

      BTW why is there a bundle of dynamite setting between 2? religious nuts? Is one going to bomb the others church or are they going to lovingly, in christ’s name, bomb a muslim mosque?

      More silliness. Yes because we hear everyday how Christians are bombing mosques, right? You haven’t been keeping up with current events. If you have the stomach for it, why not go and see what Boko Haram is doing to Christians in Nigeria.

      Tim, if you expect to be respected, show respect to others. This is not just a Christian principle, but one that non-Christians embrace as well. If you come over to someone and dump junk all over them, don’t be surprised if they respond in kind. Christianity is the only religion that goes beyond this and says, love even your enemies and those who persecute you. I have prayed for you, and if I have failed to not return punch for punch with you, I will answer for that. I wish you well, however my blog is not your sounding box for all the axes you have to grind and anger you have about your former beliefs.

  9. Oh I see you moderate your comments here too. I guess you don’t want people questioning your authority. How so very like your church. Turn your head and disregard the priest raping little bous. I guess you will delete my messages. That’s okay, you are a very dishonest man. Maybe someday, you will be able to live up to the ideals of your religion. BTW, you can respond all you want. I don’t use that email anyway.

    1. Yes moderation of first-time commenters keeps out spammers and trolls. It’s blogging 101.

      I am not a dishonest man; that is another rude and ignorant thing you have said.

      As to your email, I have much better things to do than to send you messages. Not all Christians are fundamentalists; most aren’t. God bless you and help you believe the truth.

      If you respond via comments that are rude, I will not let them go through. So don’t waste precious moments in your life typing them, unless you can change your tone and make your content constructive.

  10. It is sad. So many people are looking for “proof” of Gods existence and just can’t seem to grasp the concept of “Faith.” It is in having “Trust” in our Lord that the gift of “Faith” comes to us by His good grace.
    I too will pray for those who are struggling with their own demons. Have a blessed day!

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