An EX-atheist’s testimony

Thanks to Susan a.k.a. Organshoes for alerting us to Jim Pierce’s account of his former atheism. It will be an ongoing thread on his blog, but here are some samples of what he has to say:

Atheism is not religion. I know that statement will draw some frowns from those of my fellow Christians who like to think of Atheists as holding to a religious faith, but that is far from the truth. Atheism is the denial of God. It is the premise that there is no adequate concept of God; where “adequate” means coherent. Therefore, it is reasoned that there can be no instances of the various concepts of God presented to us through the ages by the well meaning philosopher or theologian. The atheist, as I was, is not concerned with trusting in anything for which there is no evidence. Faith is not a component of atheism, and certainly not even faith in one’s self! The reader will find in this text an undeniable self-loathing that I went through, and which I think many other atheists probably suffer from, too. It is precisely this disgust with self that accompanies palpable hatred atheists have for God. The very object they deny exists is somehow an object of great dislike and one which occupies much of their thought life in so far as arguing why that object should not exist! However, you will never find an atheist who will admit as much, since either they would be insane for hating something that doesn’t exist, or something does in fact exist which they hate; thus they really wouldn’t be atheists at all! . . . .

Of course, the atheist has no reason to even look at the Bible as anything other than an ancient mythological work of debatable value to humankind. The point though, before it is lost, is that atheism is about skepticism which is the polar opposite of trust, or faith. For the atheist the question isn’t “Did God really say?” but rather it is, “Is there really a god; let alone one who could say anything at all?”

If the atheist does trust in anything at all, it is their own capacity for reason. We can’t make too much out of this, though. Some theists (those who believe in God) have suggested that atheists have made reason their faith, but in reality atheists seem to relish calling into doubt even their own reasoning! I know I did. There was a time where I believed that we could not get beyond ourselves in the pursuit of truth. That, in fact, there were just as many “truths” as there are perspectives in the world because we are imprisoned in our own minds where knowledge of the “outside world” is concerned. While not quite solipsism, my view was one of extreme skepticism that anyone could prove universal truths of any kind without involving their own perspectives. Another way of putting the point is that I believed there was no such thing as a “God’s eye point of view” or a “view from nowhere”. And, if I was right, then the idea of universal truth was chimerical, since some facet of truth had to be attached to individual observations and experiences.

In Mr. Pierce’s Part 2, he tells of his own background–again–in legalistic Christianity, not only as a child but as a minister, no less. Legalistic Christianity seems to be a prime breeding ground for atheism. (Parents, keep that in mind.) Keep reading his saga. I can’t wait to see how it ends.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Another Kerner

    Perhaps some Confessional Lutherans who have been raised and nutured in the faith may be just a little surprised and somewhat heartened to learn that some of us who comment here have wallked a road similar to Mr. Pierce’s road, and have faced something fairly similar to Michael’s challenge.

    I was such a one.

    Fleeing from the oppression of the Law, Law,Law, I fled Rome into a muddled swamp of agnosticism, seeking who knows what, anything but more Law, searching in all the wrong places.

    Dr. Rod Rosenbladt has also addressed this subject and has written a piece pertinent:
    “The Gospel For Those Broken By the Church”.

    A hearty “Thank you” to Mr. Pierce for explaining and recounting his path leading to Wittenberg for all of us, especially for those in our midst who are intimately familiar with a like struggle.

    Perhaps we are able apprehend where Michael is right now
    because we recognize some of ourselves in him in times past.

    I pray that Michael someday will say with us,
    “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift….”
    2 Cor. 9:15

    I have found that when wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, we may ever and after “walk with a limp”, but certainly we will walk in the precious Light of the Gospel.

  • Another Kerner

    Perhaps some Confessional Lutherans who have been raised and nutured in the faith may be just a little surprised and somewhat heartened to learn that some of us who comment here have wallked a road similar to Mr. Pierce’s road, and have faced something fairly similar to Michael’s challenge.

    I was such a one.

    Fleeing from the oppression of the Law, Law,Law, I fled Rome into a muddled swamp of agnosticism, seeking who knows what, anything but more Law, searching in all the wrong places.

    Dr. Rod Rosenbladt has also addressed this subject and has written a piece pertinent:
    “The Gospel For Those Broken By the Church”.

    A hearty “Thank you” to Mr. Pierce for explaining and recounting his path leading to Wittenberg for all of us, especially for those in our midst who are intimately familiar with a like struggle.

    Perhaps we are able apprehend where Michael is right now
    because we recognize some of ourselves in him in times past.

    I pray that Michael someday will say with us,
    “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift….”
    2 Cor. 9:15

    I have found that when wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, we may ever and after “walk with a limp”, but certainly we will walk in the precious Light of the Gospel.

  • FWw

    after talking to michael for some time, I am not really sure that he is an atheist. it seems more likely that he is an agnostic…

  • FWw

    after talking to michael for some time, I am not really sure that he is an atheist. it seems more likely that he is an agnostic…

  • Gulliver

    Itching ears may enjoy hearing the law, or “success theology,” or the deconstrution theology of liberals; but the spiritual destruction of desparing souls bound under the law is a horrible result, the extent of which God alone knows. People may be envious of mega-churches and measure success by them, but they are similar to situation in Vegas: glitter, with the promise of riches; but the news does not tell of the human cost to the loosers. Thanks for this thread to show us the result of law-only preaching.

  • Gulliver

    Itching ears may enjoy hearing the law, or “success theology,” or the deconstrution theology of liberals; but the spiritual destruction of desparing souls bound under the law is a horrible result, the extent of which God alone knows. People may be envious of mega-churches and measure success by them, but they are similar to situation in Vegas: glitter, with the promise of riches; but the news does not tell of the human cost to the loosers. Thanks for this thread to show us the result of law-only preaching.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Oooh, gulliver! That was splendid.
    That really summed it up.
    Mega-churches: Casinos for revelers in piety rather than rampant sin.
    Solid.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Oooh, gulliver! That was splendid.
    That really summed it up.
    Mega-churches: Casinos for revelers in piety rather than rampant sin.
    Solid.

  • Don

    “Atheism is the denial of God. It is the premise that there is no adequate concept of God; where “adequate” means coherent. ” Is it possible that man in his sinful condition is not capable of grasping an adequate concept of God? Isaiah 55:8,9. That is why God gave us faith.

  • Don

    “Atheism is the denial of God. It is the premise that there is no adequate concept of God; where “adequate” means coherent. ” Is it possible that man in his sinful condition is not capable of grasping an adequate concept of God? Isaiah 55:8,9. That is why God gave us faith.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Now Susan,
    I wager one is going to see far less rampant sin in a casino, then in a mega-church, where people are revelling in their piety.
    In anycase I like casinos.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Now Susan,
    I wager one is going to see far less rampant sin in a casino, then in a mega-church, where people are revelling in their piety.
    In anycase I like casinos.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I don’t really have anything against them myself, Bror, except for having lost money there.
    And I agree there are much greater stakes being lost in the mega-church, than in the casinos.
    But isn’t it ironic how people congratulate themselves for buying all the mega-church hoopla, while keeping their pure and pious selves far away from evil casinos?
    When there’s as little of Christ the Savior in either place.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    I don’t really have anything against them myself, Bror, except for having lost money there.
    And I agree there are much greater stakes being lost in the mega-church, than in the casinos.
    But isn’t it ironic how people congratulate themselves for buying all the mega-church hoopla, while keeping their pure and pious selves far away from evil casinos?
    When there’s as little of Christ the Savior in either place.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    P.S.
    I’ll wager we’d even learn more life lessons at Harrod’s than at Lakewood.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    P.S.
    I’ll wager we’d even learn more life lessons at Harrod’s than at Lakewood.

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Just read something very helpful, on the Wittenberg Trail, by Pastor Will Weedon.
    He wrote, in another discussion on another topic:
    >So when John points to Him and says: “Looky there! The Lamb of God!” He was saying: “There’s the access to the Holy One who will be your life; there the untamable God, the live wire, comes down to you to give you Himself in such a way that you won’t be destroyed.<
    Weedon refers to CS Lewis saying Aslan is not tame. And neither is God, apart from Christ. God has perfect expectations for us still, but now those expectations rest on Christ’s shoulders and not on ours, and in what He’s done.
    We’re not even allowed to look at God without suffering death. But we do see what God wants and allows us to see, in Christ, and to see that totally for our own sakes, and not just because He wants to be seen and admired. This is what he wants us to know, that, apart form Christ, the only God we’ll know is one of judgment and death; who holds us to account for what we do and what we believe, and for what we’ve not done and for what we’ve rejected.
    So, Michael: you might consider more of the Christly face of God when you see all the imperfection of the world and of people, and realize that it is to Christ we are all indebted for what we believe, and it is the Christ-face of God that assures us and continues to call us to faith; not the God-is-judge face, though that face of God is completely real and true. But, the Christian can’t help but think of God as having shown complete mercy and love, in spite of our imperfections/sins, because of Christ.
    That’s what we think of when thinking on God. Not His judgment or His lording it over us, but of His reaching out to us in love, and that love reaching us through the miracle of faith.
    We all resist that faith, because it seems to cost us a great deal of autonomy and esteem, and to require forsaking of reason, to go for it. But, in spite of our resistance, it’s come to us. And now, on the other side of faith–indeed, *in* faith–we see that, though still who we always were, with the same personalities, histories, and weaknesses, we’re saved in spite of all that–all that is now rubbish and irrelevant–through the work of the very same God we thought we feared and hated; saved from the judgment of the very God we thought we feared and hated.
    God is not my father who sometimes lost his temper indiscriminately or capriciously, or who unreasonably favored one over the other, or then the other, as it suited him; who needed a break from his greedy, quarreling kids, or who suddenly–capriciously–showered his kids with his presence and his gifts.
    God is my Father who’s demanded the same things of me as of all people in all time, and condemned the same things for all time, but who has made a way for me and for all to be His, forever, and to be beyond His condemnation.
    You say you don’t give up easily. Well, that’s become more than very obvious. Would you then presume God gives up more easily than you?

  • Susan aka organshoes

    Just read something very helpful, on the Wittenberg Trail, by Pastor Will Weedon.
    He wrote, in another discussion on another topic:
    >So when John points to Him and says: “Looky there! The Lamb of God!” He was saying: “There’s the access to the Holy One who will be your life; there the untamable God, the live wire, comes down to you to give you Himself in such a way that you won’t be destroyed.<
    Weedon refers to CS Lewis saying Aslan is not tame. And neither is God, apart from Christ. God has perfect expectations for us still, but now those expectations rest on Christ’s shoulders and not on ours, and in what He’s done.
    We’re not even allowed to look at God without suffering death. But we do see what God wants and allows us to see, in Christ, and to see that totally for our own sakes, and not just because He wants to be seen and admired. This is what he wants us to know, that, apart form Christ, the only God we’ll know is one of judgment and death; who holds us to account for what we do and what we believe, and for what we’ve not done and for what we’ve rejected.
    So, Michael: you might consider more of the Christly face of God when you see all the imperfection of the world and of people, and realize that it is to Christ we are all indebted for what we believe, and it is the Christ-face of God that assures us and continues to call us to faith; not the God-is-judge face, though that face of God is completely real and true. But, the Christian can’t help but think of God as having shown complete mercy and love, in spite of our imperfections/sins, because of Christ.
    That’s what we think of when thinking on God. Not His judgment or His lording it over us, but of His reaching out to us in love, and that love reaching us through the miracle of faith.
    We all resist that faith, because it seems to cost us a great deal of autonomy and esteem, and to require forsaking of reason, to go for it. But, in spite of our resistance, it’s come to us. And now, on the other side of faith–indeed, *in* faith–we see that, though still who we always were, with the same personalities, histories, and weaknesses, we’re saved in spite of all that–all that is now rubbish and irrelevant–through the work of the very same God we thought we feared and hated; saved from the judgment of the very God we thought we feared and hated.
    God is not my father who sometimes lost his temper indiscriminately or capriciously, or who unreasonably favored one over the other, or then the other, as it suited him; who needed a break from his greedy, quarreling kids, or who suddenly–capriciously–showered his kids with his presence and his gifts.
    God is my Father who’s demanded the same things of me as of all people in all time, and condemned the same things for all time, but who has made a way for me and for all to be His, forever, and to be beyond His condemnation.
    You say you don’t give up easily. Well, that’s become more than very obvious. Would you then presume God gives up more easily than you?

  • http://confessionalbytes.blogspot.com/ Jim Pierce

    Hello all,

    I want to let you all know that the links in the OP will no longer work. My Typepad account is closed. It was a pay site and I wasn’t getting enough traffic on it to justify paying for it.

    Also, I had a problem getting data off of my blog, and unfortunately the entire series on atheism that I wrote has been lost! Not to worry, though! I now have an excuse to rewrite the series. :)

    My new blog is “Confessional’s Bytes” at http://confessionalbytes.blogspot.com/

    Please stop by and say hello!

    Jim Pierce

  • http://confessionalbytes.blogspot.com/ Jim Pierce

    Hello all,

    I want to let you all know that the links in the OP will no longer work. My Typepad account is closed. It was a pay site and I wasn’t getting enough traffic on it to justify paying for it.

    Also, I had a problem getting data off of my blog, and unfortunately the entire series on atheism that I wrote has been lost! Not to worry, though! I now have an excuse to rewrite the series. :)

    My new blog is “Confessional’s Bytes” at http://confessionalbytes.blogspot.com/

    Please stop by and say hello!

    Jim Pierce


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