How My Brain Was Washed By Christians

December 7, 2008 — 41 Comments

In light of my recent post about exorcising demons at Burger King, and the hailstorm of comments that ensued, I think the timing is right to dig deeper into my spiritual backstory. Fortunately for me, last year I was asked to participate in a series of sermons at my church for this very same thing. Here is a snippet of an email I sent to my family and friends at the time.

Hello People:

As some of you know, I was contacted by North Point Community Church concerning an upcoming sermon series. Andy is using personal stories to lead into each sermon, and he requested to use my story as I described it during my baptism for one of the Sundays. If you could throw excitement, anxiety, and humility into a blender and set it to puree… this is pretty much how I am feeling right now.

If you skipped out on witnessing Chris via jumbotrons the first time, this is your distinct opportunity to make it up. I’m told my portion will last ~4 minutes. Listening to the preacher directly following is optional :-) .

So I wrote my story down. It was sent to an editor. I had a photo shoot. I narrated it at a sound studio. Then, the production team went to work on bringing it all together. And boy did they ever.


It’s Personal – A Former Atheist Speaks from dewde on Vimeo.

That is the short version but I wrote so much more. The editor, Jon from Stuff Christians Like, did terrific and helped me summarize a few areas where I was wordy, redundant, or extraneous. I was given the opportunity to change, approve, or deny anything I wanted. I remember sitting in the studio and asking if I could make changes during recording and Brad saying, “Change whatever you like.” The truth is, though, I didn’t want to change anything.

Actually, here. See for yourself. This was my initial rough draft. Think of it as an extended version of the video.

My Story

I grew up as the oldest of 3 in a patriotic Air Force family. We traveled the U.S. and the world. In the years leading up to High School we were stationed in the United Kingdom where we did not attend church. When my family was finally stationed back states-side, I found myself a High School sophomore in deep south Georgia.

I had moved from one foreign country to another.

Within a week of moving into our new home it seemed we had been invited to a different church by every family in the neighborhood. We came from northern roots where, culturally, you didn’t invite someone to church until after you had developed a relationship with them, and not the other way around. Consequently, my parents were completely turned off to even exploring the area for a church home.

I went to school where I met many, many Christians. I attended a few churches with friends. I was “witnessed at” frequently, but I had questions and they were not answered to my satisfaction. By the time I was 17, I’d had enough! I’d had enough of all of these self-professed God followers, with messy, imperfect lives, telling me that I needed God! So what… my life could be an imperfect mess, too? Thanks but no thanks. Or else I’d go to Hell when I died? Nice theory. Prove it. I remember hearing about a scandal in one church where the youth pastor had an affair with one of my classmates. The man did the noblest thing he knew how, I guess. He confessed to his wife, and the girl’s parents, and the entire congregation… all on Sunday morning.

How efficient.

If Jesus was real, and He was present in the lives of these pushy, dysfunctional people, then I wanted no part of it.

Apart from the observable behavior of Christians in my life, another thing stood as a barrier to believing in God and/or Jesus. Reason. This all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God had never given me the time of day. I reasoned that if such a being existed, and He was keen to send me to Hell for not believing in His invisible son, then He should at least have the courtesy of warning me in advance, and to my face thank-you-very-much. If “God” had given me 5 senses, surely He could appeal to one of them on His own behalf and clear this misunderstanding up about His existing and what-not. Not only that, but every time I asked one of his followers to prove to me God exists, they would refer to the Bible. THAT’s your proof? Puh-lease. That translation is like what… a copy of a copy of a copy or something? Hello… haven’t you ever heard of the telephone game? NEWSFLASH: The message always changes! God just didn’t make sense. Why would God allow 4 year old little girls to be run over by school buses? Or millions of children to die of starvation? If I were God I would do so many things differently.

Anyone with half a heart would.

But as I look back now, I see evidence of something I didn’t see then. In spite of all those feelings I did have a tension in my heart about the question of God. It was mostly negative, and I credited it to the pushy Christians, but a tension was there. You might call it a bit of a turmoil. And eventually this turmoil, and the pushy people, wore me down. So I did it. I guess you could call it a prayer. I was alone in my room and I had a conversation with “God”. I told Him that I did not believe He existed and that this was His chance to prove to me, once and for all, that He did.

I waited.

I listened hard.

And when the silence was over I had the proof that I needed, that I had been right all along, and I became an Atheist with a clean conscience.

I met my wife in college. She was beautiful. She was intelligent. She was funny. She had but one itty bitty imperfection. She was a Christian. We were too much in love to let our religious differences end our relationship, but she did let me know very early that she expected her future husband, whoever it may be, to attend church with her after marriage. I did the math in my head and two hours on Sunday seemed like pennies to pay in exchange for the rest of our hours together. We dated for 5 years, completed college, got married and moved to Atlanta. On the topic of religion, we agreed to disagree. Neither of us wavered. Following 2 years of marriage my wife was ready for me to make good on my promise to attend church with her.

You don’t have to be a Christian to be a man of your word, you know.

I complied. We went church shopping! *groan*. We stopped searching for a church once we found North Point. This place made taking my medicine easy. You mean I’m getting brownie points for this? Sweet! Remove the hocus pocus and some of this stuff is even relevant! Is that really in the bible? I’m not even a Christian and I agree with that. Wait a minute… Jesus hated hypocritical religious leaders too? What a coincidence!

If He were real, I might even like Him.

We rarely missed a Sunday. We joined starting point, and then a married couples small group. You don’t have to be a Christian to desire to build a healthy marriage, you know. I could see value in doing stuff together and focusing on our relationship. So we did it. Apparently it’s not common to show up the first night to one of those things and declare to everyone that they shouldn’t expect you to pray because you don’t believe in Jesus. But it was true, and our new-found friends were understanding and respectful. Even when I wasn’t.

I went to church, I heard the bible. I went to small group, I read the bible. Time passed and the knowledge I gained bore fruit in my life and my marriage. Along the way I learned that quite a few of my assumptions about Christianity and the bible were way off.

Inevitably, an old tension returned.

But this time I couldn’t pin it on pushy, judgmental Christians. At least I still had logic on my side, right? I mean God wasn’t exactly manifesting Himself before me. But old tensions don’t always listen to reason.

One of the things I came to appreciate about the Christian God was that people who were suffering, grieving, or hurting would find hope and inspiration in the idea of Him. The concept that God had compassion for them, and forgave them if they had wronged Him, and wanted to bend the world in favor of them, did indeed seem to fill a void that those people needed filling. But this did me no good. I was not downtrodden. I was not desperate for love or attention. I was making more money than I ever had in my life. I was fulfilled by my wife. I had the respect of my peers. I watched baptisms on Sunday morning and I would think, “I’m glad that they were able to break their addictions and find happiness through belief in Jesus.” But my needs were more than met. I was happy. I was satisfied. And yet the tension grew.

Everyone knows that once you make your mind up about something significant, you don’t just change it. Debating with others only accomplishes a strengthening within you of the side you are already on, and not a winning over to the other side. So I didn’t expect what happened next to happen next. I had a disturbing realization. While deep in thought about spiritual matters it occurred to me that I was 27 years old and that I was basically taking spiritual advice from a 17 year old boy.

And not just any 17 year old boy, but the 17 year old version of myself.

This thought bothered me tremendously. It exacerbated the tension. I couldn’t shake it. I had changed my position on a great many things since then. I mean, at 17 you make decisions largely based on theories. At 27 you factor in a little thing called experience. This realization did not make me a Christian. But it played a huge role in moving me from one side of an issue towards the center. Once you’ve had the opportunity to actually, truly be “open-minded” about an issue, you gain a certain appreciation and respect for the word. And you stop using it so carelessly. I came to a point of humility that cannot be faked or, I believe, even earned on my own. I reasoned that if God did exist, it is possible that He may not follow my exact template for revealing Himself to each of His created creatures. I had this gnawing tension within me in spite of logic and a fulfilled life. I was more than a little frustrated. I just wanted to know the truth, you know? Is God and/or Jesus real or not? I got to a place where I just didn’t care if I had been wrong or right. Deep, deep down I just wanted to know the truth. I decided to pray again.

“God, if You actually exist, I recognize that You may do things differently than I would do them, if I were God. I am open to You proving to me that You exist, on Your terms.”

This was the best my prideful heart could muster. I prayed it. I believed it. And I didn’t care how long it took. That was the turning point for me. I let go of a small piece of my pride that day, and I have never regretted a moment of it. In fact, I wish I could export it and share it with the world.

In spite of all these words, I feel like so much is left unsaid. When I was an Atheist I never once thought of it as a phase I was going through. It was just my life. Now that I am a Christian, I feel the same way. This is me, now.

For those interested in the sermons, or the other stories (which I highly recommend), they are available here on YouTube.

Chris Ames

Posts

I am an Internet citizen, sarcasm enthusiast, and product midwife. I am married to my lovely Dewdette, and we have 3 children: TheArtist, TheSmilingOne, and Boy.

41 responses to How My Brain Was Washed By Christians

  1. The problem with commenting online is that you never quite know which question to address. Too many question marks dude.

    >> "Everyone knows that once you make your mind up about something significant, you don’t just change it. Debating with others only accomplishes a strengthening within you of the side you are already on, and not a winning over to the other side. "

    When I said "something significant" what I meant were larger, broader topics such as politics or religion. Not only that, but I went on to contradict my own statement by actually changing sides.

    >> This kind of thing where people challenge and learn from one another is "progress."

    Agreed. And I consider myself to have progressed for doing just that.

    >> What really "turned you"?

    A cumulation of things. Some of which I have written about here. Some of which I have yet to write down.

    >> There are plenty of pharmaceuticals that can induce feelings almost identical to the ones you describe (and with fewer side effects than churchgoing, if you're willing to accept the occasional bleeding-out :) )

    LOL dude. Can you imagine? "May cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, drowsiness, and churchgoing." Sign me up for THAT clinical trial!

    >> Simply feeling something "powerful" is a poor substitute for Truth, at least when it's Truth that you claim to care about. So, is it enough for you to just "feel" like this is the right thing?

    God is not serotonin. Although you just took the lid off a whole new pseudo-metaphor.

    Do I feel better? Of course. But I'm not riding some perpetual emotional high or anything like that. I still get pissed and sad and angry and peaceful. However since I have become a Christian, and since I began practicing the Christian lifestyle, I am more laid back. I am quicker to realize when I am wrong and I am more able to admit it than I was before. I find myself apologizing more, and harboring less bitterness towards the world at large when they wrong me. My overall quality of life is has been significantly improved.

    But I can't pin the whole of my belief on this one thing known as "feeling better", any more than you can pin your disbelief on any single lack of evidence. It's the sum of the parts.

  2. >> It's the whole "my heart won over my head" theme in the video that I, quite frankly, find terribly disgusting. It's acknowledging that you needn't really make any effort to truly understand the world, so long as you pray and it feels good.

    You're ignoring the fact that the whole reason I put myself into that situation was to understand the world better. Now you appear to be arguing against yourself, and your previous comment. "Either the logic of the argument wins you over, or the demonstrated failure of some experiment wins you over." All I did here was leave the cubicle and go to the lab bench.

    >> Or you pretend to make a serious effort by the charade of praying for answers. That's a reprehensible attitude. Revelation via prayer is a joke and is no proxy for serious thought and effort. I hope someone can clarify this.

    Wow. I think I'm having a revelation right now. I can see the future. This train is on the short track to Godwin's Law. Think I'll disembark here while the worst thing I can be labelled with is being a copout.

  3. That is an incredible story. I remember watching it online the week after you guys showed it. That series was great and the three stories including yours was beautiful. Glad I found your blog bro… ill be keeping up

  4. Good stuff man. You're a christian rockstar

  5. …of all the labels I could have lived without…

  6. freakin' awesome. made me want to cry, but i was a man about it.

  7. I'm not arguing against myself. I just think you're likely misinterpreting the experimental results. Interpretation of results is tricky, and clearly you didn't have the opportunity to do the proper controls. :)

    Hitler? Why would I compare you to Hitler? I say I think an idea is a bad one, and the next logical step is a comparison to Hitler? It's true that I think religion is unnecessary and often silly, but I hope you don't think I'm conflating religious believers with authoritarian murderers. And I hope you're not conflating non-believers in that way.

    And on the subject of fun laws, I'm still hoping that your blog is a superb example of Poe's Law.

  8. Ah, I haven't ever tried that. And it was locked. Hmmm. I've dropped it quite a few times, so I guess it's possible that there are some shorts in there somewhere. Good. I'm glad it wasn't just God speaking to me.

  9. this is amazing. i love how God touched your heart. i pray your story continues to touch others with similar questions as you had

  10. Surely you expected me to bring a frown to this party…

    First, I'm impressed by your decision to address these long-standing issues that were important to you. It doesn't really explain anything to me, though. I take offense at your claim that "debating with others only accomplishes a strengthening within you of the side you are already on." This is really untrue. I argue with people every day in my job, and usually someone changes their mind. They have to, because shit just won't work if it's done wrong. Either the logic of the argument wins you over, or the demonstrated failure of some experiment wins you over. And it costs a lot less to listen more carefully to arguments and to take good arguments seriously. It's also equally appropriate to smack down dumb arguments, so their effects don't end up costing even more. This kind of thing where people challenge and learn from one another is "progress."

    So, more to the point… (I admittedly haven't watched all the videos, so flag me as lazy if this is answered there.) What really "turned you"? It sounds like you were just impressed that there were nice people at your church. Okay. I can believe that. Is it really just that you feel good now? There are plenty of pharmaceuticals that can induce feelings almost identical to the ones you describe (and with fewer side effects than churchgoing, if you're willing to accept the occasional bleeding-out :) ). Simply feeling something "powerful" is a poor substitute for Truth, at least when it's Truth that you claim to care about. So, is it enough for you to just "feel" like this is the right thing? You don't even sound convinced yourself, other than that you're convinced you're happy. It sounds almost like a blatant admission of "ignorance is bliss," but surely there's more there, right?

  11. I just watched your inline video. Great production. Your voice is pretty good for narration, too. You should do commercials. Sort of the same vibe as Donald Sutherland in those Volvo commercials (dunno if he still does them, but he did around 2001 or so), even though your voice isn't that similar to his. (He's apparently an atheist, too, oddly enough, though I just discovered it after I wrote the previous sentence.)

    It's the whole "my heart won over my head" theme in the video that I, quite frankly, find terribly disgusting. It's acknowledging that you needn't really make any effort to truly understand the world, so long as you pray and it feels good. Or you pretend to make a serious effort by the charade of praying for answers. That's a reprehensible attitude. Revelation via prayer is a joke and is no proxy for serious thought and effort. I hope someone can clarify this.

    On a creepy side note, I went running after my previous post here. I carried my iPod, and as usual was listening to some anti-motivational political podcast, and as usual I keep the controls locked so I can't accidentally destroy my eardrums. About 15 minutes into it, my iPod mysteriously started playing this nameless 2-song playlist that I did not create. The songs were "Trouble is a Friend" by Lenka and "The End" by the Doors. I don't often listen to Lenka (though the video for The Show is irritatingly catchy) and I probably have never listened to "The End" on my iPod, until tonight. I think someone is speaking to me.

  12. Oh yeah. About your iPod. You can make "on-the-go" playlists by holding down the center button (i think). I accidentally make these also from time to time.

  13. Dewde, I'm always, always bothered when someone claims to have been an atheist is now preaching the word of God. The fact is you can't have been an atheist and begun to believe in god. Before you attack me for claiming to not know you or your life, it's not about you as a person. It's about the fact that an atheist doesn't believe in the supernatural nor do we believe in unprovable things. Your 17 year old self did not have a firm grasp of why he was an atheist and left the door open that true atheists close.

    You are claiming to have been an atheist and then started believing in things that provide no proof.

    Why didn't ask Allah is it was real and to provide you with the proof you wanted. Simple, because you live in America. Your god and religion are based on the area in which you live. You received unintentional pressure from your spouse the same as I.

    You probably believed in Santa as a child. What if as an adult you asked the same of Santa and you received an answer? You would be considered crazy. The mind is wonderful and gods exist no further than the human imagination.

  14. Hi Chris, Having known you from Valdosta and seeing the video all I can say is wow! Those 4 or so minutes make quite an impact and your story is a testimony to God's grace. Thanks for sharing this. By the way, love the blog and the wide range of comments.

  15. I'm not convinced that Rob's claim is correct. Why isn't it reasonable that Dewde would be successfully converted from "true" atheism to Christianity? I find it bizarre myself, but it's not totally implausible that he obtained sufficiently convincing evidence. To say that "once an atheist, always an atheist" seems a bit dogmatic to me. A rational person has to remain open to evidence. I personally think that Dewde has made egregious logical errors here in interpreting anecdotal and apocryphal events as evidence, but if you accept his premises, it's reasonable that he's made the correct decision. It's the premises that I completely disagree with.

  16. I like Rob's point about 17-year-old Dewde. It's a total non-sequitur for Dewde to say that his being a better person at 27 than he was at 17 points to God's existence. *Everyone* matures. I can also say that I'm nicer, happier, have more money, and am more fulfilled than I was 17, but a god had nothing to do with it. It's probably got more to do with stabilization of hormone levels in the post-adolescent body.

  17. I don't think I have to remain open to everything to remain rational. If Dewde found convincing "personal" evidence of a God that no one believed in anymore then everyone would just say he's crazy. But let him find "personal" evidence of the same god that people on this side of the world believe in and he's not crazy.

    Really? I'm not buying. It's just another god in a long list of gods that people have believed in for hundreds of thousands of years. This god too shall vanish into the pages of mythology.

    To believe in any god is to believe in the supernatural. You can't go from knowing the supernatural does not exist to believing in a supernatural being.

  18. Oh, I agree that his evidence is not likely to be *good* evidence. I am a firm advocate of the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" camp. His evidence doesn't approach extraordinary in the slightest. And I *do* think he's crazy for believing this stuff.

    But still, that required extraordinary evidence *might* happen. I have zero expectation that it will, but it might. And I also think "personal" evidence is total crap, so I didn't intend to imply that his personal reasons were valid. I'm just saying that such evidence *may* exist, and if it does, it's reasonable to acknowledge it. And even if some god-implying evidence existed, there's still a gargantuan gap to cross to get to Christianity, so that's another problem. I agree with you in a practical sense: any actual atheist isn't going to change his/her mind, in part because it would never even occur to them to consider that there are gods. Dewde may refute this, but it seems like when he says he was an atheist, he in fact wasn't. I simply can't fathom that anyone who even nominally called themselves an atheist would find themselves even "test praying" such as Dewde did in his story. But I find it equally unlikely that he's trying to deceive people about his history for dramatic effect, though it does apparently make for quality church video. To be sure, I think Dewde is confused on these points.

    So, while I completely agree with you that it ain't never gonna happen that someone truly godless is going to turn to the other side for rational reasons, I still don't see how that remains impossible. I almost hate myself for appearing to defend the honor of atheists-turned-christians here. I think such a conversion is a terribly misguided act based on misinterpretation of life's events and a fundamental ignorance of advancements in epistemological methods and virtually every life science. These are the tools that have enabled society and knowledge to advance in spite of religion, and the religious consciously choose to disregard this and even revel in their ignorance. I just mean to leave open the scant possibility that it could in theory be a rational choice.

  19. I think anyone who believes in one god claims to have empirical knowledge that the other gods are not real. This too is an impossibility.

    Hey, Dewde, I got Chris F. to defend you. That's what happens when someone like me is a little to black and white.

  20. Throw a pair of leotards on that boy, he's my hero. :-)

  21. Poe's law. nice. Hadn't heard of that meme before.

    I referenced Godwin's Law because it seemed you were heading down a path of character assassination, of which the next logical step is ad hominem. What I read was that I pretend to make a serious effort. I pray as a charade. That sort of thing.

  22. Leotards? Boy? Hero? And all this time I thought religion was your main deficiency…

  23. Phenomenal production on that video. I love churches that are shaping culture, not reacting to it. Thanks for sharing.

  24. I feel the need to comment on this one. I have been a Christian my entire life. At no point – as a child, teenager, young adult, mature adult – have I ever felt as if I could do without my beliefs. I am happy, sane and well-adjusted. I have a great relationship with my family and my friends. I do my best to do good and not do harm. I love and am loved and I am at peace, even when things in this world and universe don't seem to be favoring me. I do not take any drugs to make me feel this way, and therefore I am also pretty healthy. I have a very positive outlook on life and I truly do think that ultimately good will prevail.

    I cannot imagine why anyone would want to make me change my mind – what difference would it make? It doesn't hurt anyone that I believe what I believe. In fact, my beliefs make me want to help all people, even the ones I don't particularly like.

    I likewise think that all other human beings are entitled to their own beliefs. I can tell you what I feel and why I feel it, but I don't believe it is my crusade to make you believe the same. You have been presented with all of the information on both sides and you made a choice just like I did.

    That being said – telling someone that their beliefs disgust you is something I don't understand at all. Feeling anger and disgust at another person's choices and beliefs as related to God and his existence is what causes most of the anger and strife in this world. I can understand that you want to debate the existence of God, but I'm disappointed that you would deride your "friend" to accomplish an end. If you truly want to change his mind, mocking him is not the way to do it. Dewde seems to take it in stride, but other friends may not. I am not saying stop debating them, I'm just saying that choosing your words more wisely will make them listen and respect your opinion.

    • I'm not deriding Dewde. I think he's a smart, accomplished, kind-hearted person. But that doesn't make his beliefs immune to criticism, and it certainly doesn't mean that I have to take him as an all-or-nothing proposition. I imagine that he writes this blog in part to get the occasional dissenting opinion rather than simply as a monument to his glory. If that's untrue, then I hope he speaks up, because I sure do have more productive things to do with my time. He also could surely moderate my comments into oblivion if he chooses. What a boring and unproductive world you'd inhabit if you couldn't criticize people's opinions. I like seeing people's arguments for Christianity. I think they're all silly, but they're indeed fascinating.

      You may be correct that it doesn't hurt anyone that you believe what you believe, but your actions may or may not refute that. As an arbitrary example, someone may be against the distribution of the Plan B contraceptive based on his beliefs. Or against the distribution of the HPV vaccine to school-aged children. Or stem cell research. Or abortion rights. Or evolution education. Or sex education. Although you might think that his actions are not hurting anyone, if you advocate public policies that encourage restriction of those programs, they might be. You have not "been presented with all of the information" on both sides. My guess is you may have been presented with your pastor's distillation of the information from "both sides." The fact that you even present this false dichotomy is further evidence that your information is incomplete.

      And it's not strictly true that Dewde's beliefs disgust me. That's a misreading of my comment. It's the theme of heart-over-head that's reprehensible. It's an advertising slogan. In 99% of Dewde's life, I'm sure he agrees that thinking is the proper thing to do when faced with a problem. But when god is added into the mix, you suddenly have to use your heart instead? It's nothing short of a boatload of special pleading. If Dewde just waited for divine revelation as the sole guiding hand to point him through life, he surely wouldn't be where he is today, so it's disingenuous, and disgusting IMO, that this theme is used to sell the church, theism, and the Christian faith. "Oh, don't think about it. Just use your heart, and Jesus will come into your life." Replace "Jesus" with any other word and you would scoff at such a suggestion, but instead you simply nod in agreement. I have no disagreement that the Jesus character as portrayed in the Christian New Testament is a noble person generally worthy of admiration. You can point to specific deeds and sayings of Jesus and use them as examples to live by and lead a superb life. There's just no need to weasel into the heart-over-head supernatural — and ultimately implausible — stuff.

      Your suggestion that a better word choice would be more effective is weird. I assure you that I take a fair amount of time choosing my words, and in general every word is intentional. If I dumb-down my comments to mitigate the magnitude of my concerns, then my comments would effectively say nothing. The fact that they somehow agitate you, at least a little, is somewhat encouraging. If you're going to disregard what I say, I hope you at least get a little irked at what you read, since it'll be more memorable. :)

  25. LOL. No, as you pointed out you don't know me but if you did, you would know your comments have not irked me. I wouldn't say I disregard what you say, I just think its as uninformed as you think my standpoint is, and there is nothing wrong with that. It's an interesting read and I think we view each others plight in much the same way. The only difference is that I don't pity you – I think I was just trying to be helpful with my comments. Whether you know it or not, you come across as condescending and patronizing. (I have decided not to mince words now.) I think your opinion is just as important as everyone else's so I was encouraging you to cut that out so that the rest of us would be more inclined to objectively look at your point of view. I do not want to start a BLOG war (I just created that term, right, cause it feels cool to say), I just want to understand you, but the abrassiveness in the comments is getting in the way. And I have the sickest feeling that this is only going to get worse, so I'm pulling out now in the name of the Quakers. I love the Quakers.

    • After mulling this over for a couple days, I think you're right. Mostly. ;) I still think religion is bunk, but it's dumb for me to complain about people who are, in general, doing pretty good things for the world. I should save my complaining for the minority of evil people who are hiding behind a religious front. Though I'd choose to live his life differently, Dewde seems to be doing a great job, and it's brave of him to be so transparent (the good version of "transparent" here) in posting tidbits of his life for people (apparently only me) to bitch about. Two thumbs up.

  26. Thanks for sharing Chris!
    I'm speechless, amazingly well done and numbingly honest…
    I would have expected nothing less

  27. What a phenomenal realization… "I was 27 years old and that I was basically taking spiritual advice from a 17 year old boy." .

    As a former non-Christ-Follower, I am realizing that I did the same thing most of my adult life. Everyone that I knew that was 'religious' was 'old, and scared of death.' On top of that, most of them were judgmental and rude.

    That was the picture I had of religious people. Unfortunately there are still plenty of those type of Christians, but Dewde and a whole generation of 'new followers' are going to unleash social changes, and care for people like older generations could only hope to. I'm glad I found your blog!

  28. Chris – WOW. Thank you for letting us be apart of your God-lead realization. With today being Christmas, it makes more since about how God could let his son come to earth after watching your story unfold.

    Thank you for being willing to let us all see into it.

  29. Wow.. What an awesome story… Thanks for sharing that!

    They did an amazing job with that video too!

  30. Chris, I was listening to some recent NorthPoint sermons on my iPod driving in to work. I heard Andy say your name and talk about your baptism story so I stopped by to see if it was you he was talking about. That's when I found this post.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I've got a somewhat similar story (replace atheist with agnostic and 27 year old with 37 year old) but have never really walked through it or written it down. I'm going to try to do that now.

    And thanks for creating a cool community on your blog.

    Peace.

  31. Obviously late to the party but I'm just now getting caught up on the comments from your story.

    My congratulations and gratitude again! It's also oddly consoling to see that you also experienced the "you weren't really an atheist" or "you've chosen to be ignorant" comments. I'll never figure out why some of my former, atheist, friends ('former' by their choice, not mine) decided that the conversion FROM Christianity to atheism is "maturing" and discovering the work of God in my life was "ignorant." It honestly smacks of ego in the highest degree.

    Once upon a time that would have made me angry. Now it just makes me a little sad.

    Thanks again for sharing your story and for allowing a fellow convert to share it!

  32. Hi. This post is old, so sorry in advance for crashing it so late, if that's inconvenient. Your video (and story) just left me with a few unanswered questions. You speak of becoming a Christian after being an Atheist, but in such a way as to insinuate it was a decision, something you chose to do. I would appreciate some clarification on that point.

    Here's where you lose me: Christians believe in a God, Atheists do not. Given. But belief has never struck me as something a person could choose. In the case of conversion, it doesn't seem to me that people convert from not believing to believing; rather they convert from one mode of belief to another. In my opinion this would seem make conversion from Atheism to any variety of theism uncommonly difficult. (Maybe I'm wrong about this?) I'm sure the distinction will strike some Christians here as strange or inappropriate, as they often seem to interpret Atheism as actively believing in the non-existence of a God (which it sometimes) rather than a lack of believe (which, I'm inclined to think it more often is) but I think it stands nonetheless.

    Hopefully this is making sense, but I'll throw in a personal anecdote to try to clarify a little: I have actually tried to believe in God. Multiple times. I was raised in a very religious (Christian) home and as a result grew up continually assaulted with the ideas of Hell and eternal torment for non-believers. Unfortunately, like all children, my psychology predisposed me to believe much of what adults told me. However, I have never (to my knowledge) been able to effortlessly believe in a deity. (Effortlessness seeming to be necessary for it to be true belief, and not self-persuasion.) This put me in the apparently uncommon position of attempting to force myself to believe something I could not believe, out of fear of a contingent assertion. As a result, I am quite familiar with the nature of belief being such that it is uninfluenced by artificial manipulation.

    Maybe you were experiencing a different "kind" of Atheism than I am familiar with, or perhaps my assumptions are wrong. Feel free to correct me. But in any case, I'd like to know your take on that. Were you simply non-religious out of apathy prior to your conversion, or did you really not believe in theistic religion? Do you believe in God now? Do you believe in Jesus? (Forgive me if you feel the answers to those questions should go without saying. For me they don't, as I have myself attempted to be religious, while knowing all the while I didn't really believe any of what I was doing.) What does "belief" in those contexts mean to you? If you really did not believe in such premises before your conversion how do you think you began believing in them?

    Sorry this comment is so long, (and contains so many questions) but I hope you respond. Please believe me that my questions are genuine and honest, and not intended to make a point or elicit a reaction. I know these days the interweebz seem to be full-to-the-eyeballs of trolling Atheist assholes (and trolling Christian assholes) and I'm not trying to be one of those.

    Edit: This is the second time I've tried to post a comment, so if this one goes through twice, my apologies; it didn't work the first time. :O)

  33. So your initial decision to be an atheist was based on what? That some high school kids who wubbed jeebus were stupid? Surely you based it on much more than that. Those reasons are still there. Unless you've seen god in person, or felt it in a tangible way (no not some BS church worship stuff) the original reasons for your lack of belief are still valid.

    You still cannot see or feel god, but you can everything else in your life. And when you came to your decision about GOD what made you immediately leap to the christian faith? Methinks you just got brainwashed by your wife.

  34. Dewde…thanks for sharing your life journey. I, too, grew up in the South as a teenager…in the Bible belt, and having no faith in God, while many of my peers attended youth groups and church on Sunday. There were many, many reasons why I felt I didn’t fit in…that was just one of the many.

    I’ve since come to surrender my life to the Lord of the universe, Jesus Christ. He demonstrated His love for me at the Cross, two thousand years ago…and really hasn’t needed to testify of His love anymore, that would be sufficient…BUT, the truth is…He HAS demonstrated His love to me, personally, over and over and over again.

    Having experienced what my soul has always longed for, what every soul longs for, has been an impetus to live my new life publicly, as a testimony of who He is and what He can do.

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. How to Get Your Hand Aired on Mtv and Christian Television, Respectively | dewde.com - September 19, 2010

    [...] already wrote about my experience with making the Christian video in my post How My Brain Was Washed by Christians. So I won’t rehash that here. The segment is part of the program Northpoint.tv and you can [...]

  2. The Atheists Have It Right | Dewde.com by Chris Ames - July 30, 2011

    [...] is a thing that always bugged me as an Atheist and hasn’t changed since I crossed over to the La La Land of Christian Lemmingism. I seem to remember getting a lot of crap over the notion that, as an Atheist, I believed this one [...]

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