Ask a Former Atheist
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A Brief History of a Former Atheist Professor
Becoming a “New Atheist”
Universities have a well-deserved reputation for making religious skeptics. Only a small percentage of those who enter the academy believing the Bible will cross the stage on graduation day with an intact faith. I was no exception to this rule.
When I enrolled as an undergraduate at West Virginia University in 1995, I believed the Bible was true from cover to cover. I aspired to become either a youth minister or a foreign missionary.
By the time I received my Ph.D. from the University of Georgia (UGA) a decade later, I had aligned myself with the “new atheism”. As I assumed a teaching position at UGA, a key focus of my life was to undermine the type of Christian faith I had grown up with.
I didn’t believe in God. And I couldn’t stand Him.
A Change of Mind but Not of Heart
But it soon became evident that the atheism I turned to in order to become a “freethinker” was incoherent. The atheistic worldview wrote ideological checks that it could not cash.
I renounced atheism in 2011 only to become something that is more common and more absurd. I would spend the next three and a half years as a “cultural Christian”. I lived with one foot in the church and the other in the world. On one hand, I came to believe in my head the claims of Jesus, but on the other hand, that knowledge failed to make it from my head to my heart. I was living to fulfill my desires, not His.
The LORD Disciplines Those He Loves
Thankfully, God loved me too much to leave me there. He loved me too much to allow me to find fulfillment in cozy, comfortable, costless, cultural Christianity. He loved me enough to turn my world upside down in a most agonizing, grievous, and glorious way in late 2014. He loved me enough to bring me to my knees in complete surrender.
I left UGA in 2015 and assumed full-time study towards a master’s degree in Christian apologetics. That same year, I began four semesters of being intensely disciplined in evangelism and Christian apologetics under Tom Short—a senior leader in Great Commission Churches and a veteran university evangelist and apologist for more than forty years.
I married my best friend, Mary Kathryn, on July 29, 2017. The following year, God surprised us both by calling us back to Athens, Georgia to serve as Christian leaders in the community and at UGA. Together, we help lead the UGA chapter of Ratio Christi—an apologetics and evangelism alliance. We are also increasingly active in apologetics and Bible teaching and discipling of international graduate students, visiting scholars, and young professionals.
We launched the Ask a Former Atheist, Inc. non-profit, and website in 2020 to further the educational and evangelistic reach of our ministry. Our goal is to glorify Christ in all things by declaring Him as Creator, Sustainer, and Savior and leading others into a deeper knowledge of the One, True, Living God.
“They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.” (Galatians 1:23-24, NIV).
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