A listener to the Unbelievable! podcast wrote in to Christian Premiere Radio in the UK and shared his faith journey. He was invited in for an interview. His story is a modern tale.
Jim Thring grew up in a non-religious home. He didn’t know much about religion, which is a typical experience for people growing up in the increasingly post-Christian world that characterizes the UK in the 21st Century.
He became a Christian in college. It wasn’t something he set out to do. He didn’t go seeking for truth. Friends of his introduced him to Christianity. They invited him to believe, and he accepted the invitation.
Over the years, though, his faith waned. It became shallow and lifeless. He eventually walked away and became an atheist. He says his atheism become harder core when he came across the New Atheists and began reading their books and attending their lectures.
He was an atheist for almost a decade. He joined the British Humanist Association. He “rode the rhetoric” of people like Christopher Hichens and Richard Dawkins to justify to himself intellectually that he had made a sound decision.
As time went on, though, he began to question the rhetoric. Some of it seemed shallow. Many atheists were putting Christians down as “people who weren’t thinkers or rational at all”. It seemed as if they were simply against whatever Christians said. If Christians believed something, they were against it.
He remembered people he knew from years earlier who were “a lot smarter” than him who were still Christians. He began to soften in his atheism. He began to realize that reason, logic and rational thinking are tools available to more people than atheists, and they don’t inexorably lead to atheism.
He began to realize that a person can dismiss anything. Dogmatic people dismiss things out of hand, and atheists can be as dogmatic as believers.
Darren Brown talks about the “power of belief” as a stimulant. Jim would listen to that and think to himself, “Yeah! That’s what belief is, and now I am free from all that.” As time went on, however, he began to see that his atheism had a powerful stimulant behind it as well.
The maxim that “for everything there is a material explanation” is a very powerful belief. “It means that it doesn’t matter whatever evidence someone puts in front of you, it doesn’t matter what arguments, however well-constructed they might be, or how valid they are, you’ve got a reason to dismiss them.”
He began to be honest about where his atheism lay. Thus, he gradually began going to church again with his wife and spending time with her church friends. He began to take another look at Christian arguments.
At the same time, he sought to address the issues he had with origins, evolution and young earth. He wanted to take a different look at those issues from a different perspective, but he didn’t want a source that was just a “Christian institute”.
He came across John Lennox, the professor of Mathematics at Oxford, and read his book called Gunning for God: How the New Atheists are Missing the Mark. Lennox put those issues in perspective for Jim, but he also addressed the evidence that Jim thought were “knockdown arguments” against the Christian Faith. Lennox turned them around and applied them to atheism.
Jim’s deconstructed faith began to be rebuilt. Jim’s journey is an interesting one. To hear the whole story, I have embedded the interview below:
Many people have journeyed to faith from Atheism. You can listen to more stories of people who have journeyed from faith to atheism here.
2 thoughts on “A Journey from No Religion, to Christianity, to Atheism and Back Again”
I resonate somewhat with this story, having also become a Christian when I was 19 years old at uni. After many years I now find myself agnostic – something I have only very recently realised – and moving towards atheism. I don’t think this is something I have chosen, it’s just where I find myself after years of grappling with my faith.
I hope that one day my journey will lead me back to God and that I’ll finally have the relationship with God that I have longed for for most of my life, but right now, I don’t see this happening.
This story gives me a little hope, but I fear the effect this journey – wherever it leads – will have on my believing wife and family.
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Mike, I wish you well. God knows your thoughts, so you might as well be candid about where you are. You will get no condemnation from me, but I do pray that you are able to get clarity, hear the knocks at your door and respond to them. As for your marriage, you might be encouraged by listening to the full interview, which I linked in the article. I believe they were able to remain married and work through it for the ten years that he was an agnostic/atheist (and a self-described “hard-core” one at that).