For those who were atheist, how did you become religious?

For anyone that wasn’t born a Catholic or Christian in general and only became baptized as an adult, then there must have been a change in you from when you were an Atheist and secular. There must have been something which happened which really changed your attitudes completely. How did this happen? What was it that made you believe.

I am currently reading Summa Theologica and it’s making some good points but I just don’t know what to think anymore, I suppose I was drawn to religion or Catholicism for self-improvement reasons but now I just think I can be a better person without being religious. I am at a crossroads but either way I’ll keep studying and reading the literature until something convinces me maybe.

Feeling really, really down on a business trip, and mired in sin, I picked up the Bible in the night table and started to read the New Testament starting with Matthew; this was in May. I realized then how much Christianity was enmeshed in my culture. It piqued my curiosity. That summer I read the entire NT.

The rest flowed from there. The “aha” moment came on a business trip to Korea later that summer, when I finally accepted the faith I had rejected 22 years prior. In early September I went to Mass, then confession.

Edit: oops, sorry I read your post too quickly and missed the bit about those baptized as adults. I was baptized Catholic as an infant but rejected the faith when I was about 17.

Well that’s the kind of thing I wanted to know, both that and what you said about firstly.

I remember Christianity was a big part of my youth because of my school but I was never a Christian, though I do have this vague memory of believing God as a child but might be confusing it for nostalgia.

Interesting question! Excellent!

Fearing death, realising that nothing is worth it if nothing has meaning/purpose/telos…that true satisfaction infinite pleasure is not fully accomplishable in this World…by feeling ‘sehnsucht’/ineffible longing for something not easy to describe. By reading CS Lewis.

So here’s the thing. If you turned to religion just because you just want meaning for your life, some people might say that one can make his own meaning for life or something of that sort. Why Christianity?
I don’t mean to question your faith but I’m simply curious because I myself feel that the same, I think I want something not easy to describe and meaning for my own life but at the same time, I don’t feel like I truly believe and am going into it for the wrong reasons.
I plan on reading CS Lewis soon by the way!
I wasn’t sure weather to start with his theology work or first read The Chronicles of Narnia!

Interesting question…I was christened Methodist as a child because it was the thing to do back then and my parents being divorced got married in a Methodist church however largely grew up secular. That said however I have always believed in God. I think most children do as they are the closest to Him, then going to a catholic school nurtured that belief and it was the “norm”. My late teens/early 20s I started to ask the big questions…why are we here? Our purpose etc? That lead me to start studying religion(s) beyond what I call kids religion - God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Christmas and Easter. My scientific mind can’t comprehend the atheist perspective that something as wonderfully complex and mysterious as the human mind with all of what it has learned and the memories contained within ceases to exist after death. That and I saw an angel at 14.

I would recommend reading mere Christianity by CS Lewis and Jacobs Ladder: 10 steps to truth. Both have been hugely helpful to me. :slight_smile:

I was baptized as a Presbyterian when younger, but I honestly never believed in God. All of these religions claimed that “faith alone could save you”, and I could tell that there was always something missing within their teachings. I wanted to have the full Truth, but for a while I completely denied God since there wasn’t any true evidence that He was real. Until I went to thinking, that is. When I turned 10 is when I denied Him completely, but after my 12th birthday is when I got to thinking. Basically, I thought this: “Why am I here? Where did everything come from? I need to know.” This question kept on popping into my mind, and I finally came to a conclusion: “There is a God out there, but which one?” I studied as much as possible and from that, I came to the Catholic Church. It took me 2 years to study, and now I’m at the age of 14. No, my family didn’t influence me to be of any religion. I was studying and researching religions on my own. It was quite hard not having a person there who could guide me. However, my father miraculously converted to the Catholic Church as well after studying in prison; and now I and my entire family are Catholic. I thank the Lord greatly for coming into our once unstable lives. :smiley:

My aunt was raised with no religion and she said that she always felt there was a God, She also said that she felt drawn to Catholics and Catholicism by their works in the world.

Another convert said that he was “Hounded”, and kept being drawn to a church, sat inside, felt self-conscious as if he was being watched, looked under pews, found no person and realized it was God. He was drawn to the Catholic Worker charity and soon converted.

I was a “practical atheist,” I would have said I believed in God, but I didn’t really, and there was certainly no effect on my life! I was bapatized Catholic as a baby, but my mother pretty much left the Church by the time I was 10, so I had a smattering of the Faith in childhood, then nothing but the secular wasteland.

But I always thought that there was TRUTH out there… every time i changed schools, I thought they would finally start teaching that. When I graduated from college, I was discouraged.

One day I watched a nature show, which was totally out of character for me. They talked about the complexity of the eye of a fly, which is seriously complex.

The next day as I walked to my car, it totally hit me! Wow! Given the complexity of the eye, there’s no way it could evolve quickly, but there was also no way it could evolve slowly, either! That meant there had to be a Creator! And of course that made perfect sense, because it explained why there is beauty in the world, and why kittens purr, and all sorts of things! And in the same way that people are reflected in their artwork, so must this Creator be reflected in His handiwork, which meant He must be really nice!

It was a loooong time before I found myself back in the Catholic Church, but I did realize in the moment in the parking lot that Someone existed, Someone created the world, and that that Someone also loved His creation.

Buy Mere Christianity and skip to the part on Heaven (then read the rest).

Yeah, some people say you can find meaning without religion. But, you know, define ‘meaning’. Romantic love’s great- why not make that the meaning? Well, that doesn’t encompase ‘everything’ and though fantastic, like everything it has ups and downs.Where’s the never ending pleasure, meaning and satisfaction that Christians hope for in eternity? No amount of fame, beauty and wonder can fill that aching hole- despite this being a fantastic World, it feels incomplete, almost as though all the pleasures are pencil drawings of a real landscape to be had elsewhere.
I think we find it impossible to define what we even mean by ‘meaning’ here- I think it’s tragically useless to attempt to discover it when our ‘sehnsucht’ (ineffible longing) runs deeper than any analyses.

Truth is (for me) better to believe a lie (if that is what it actually turns out to be) than despair with a terrible truth. When I’m dead, I’ll either be joyous or…well…unaware that I was in the wrong.

If you haven’t yet read conversiondiary.com, you may find that blog helpful. She was an atheist who converted to Catholicism.

You can find an overview of her story here: whyimcatholic.com/index.php/conversion-stories/atheist-converts/item/103-atheist-convert-jennifer-fulwiler.

If you read the oldest posts on her blog, though, it will go into much more detail. She has a book coming out this year. I’ve never been an atheist, but I stumbled upon her blog years ago when I couldn’t find the answers I sought within my own denomination (Pentecostal).

CS Lewis is a fabulous author and Mere Christianity is a good first works to read. My personal favorite is Screwtape Letters.

Mary.

This is actually a difficult thing for me to answer thoroughly. It was/is a very complex issue. Suffice it to say that I have always been very concerned with making sure what I believed was true. I was always willing to change my beliefs to conform to what I deduced to be the objective reality. It’s part of the philosophy of skepticism. A value which I hold to this day.

I also happen to suffer from depression. Toward the end of my first year of college, I was in an awful rut and was contemplating suicide. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. As a last ditch effort, I prayed for the first time in my life. And I felt a reply. A warm fuzzy feeling of unconditional love. This was the tipping point of a series of subjective experiences that led to my belief in the existence of a deity. My journey to the Catholic Church would take several months.

I read voraciously about God. Eventually I came to consider the claims of the Catholic Church. I began simply to entertain the idea – *what if *those claims are true? After that it was like a torrent that I became swept up in and couldn’t escape. As I dug deeper and deeper, reading with eyes of faith for the first time instead of with criticism, I discovered that I really did believe what Rome espoused.

Then I entered RCIA and was baptized at Easter of 2013. (For background: I’m 21. I was raised without religion of any sort. My father is an atheist. My mother is a sort of agnostic.) Forgive me if any of this is confusing. Like I said – it’s difficult for me to express properly.

Thanks for everyone that’s answered, there’s a lot of interesting stories there.
It seems to me as if there is something missing in my life and as St Francis called it, living in a secular wasteland is exactly how it feels, I’ll go back to my studies but I am leaning towards a belief in God.

Don’t make the mistake of Adam and Eve and eat from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. That perogative is for God alone (ie. to determne what is good and what is evil…the church is our guide in this life). Remember that God can neither be grasped nor avoided…our hearts are hard wired for God.

If there is one thing common in every single conversion story I have ever heard, it is the words of Christ in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

It is the temple police having been asked by the chief priests and Pharisees “Why didn’t you bring Jesus here?” and answering, “No one has ever spoken like that man!”

It’s the leaders being suprised and asking “How does this man know so much? He has never been taught!”

It’s Nicodemus saying “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”

It’s when John the Baptist’s followers asked Jesus “Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?” and he replied “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. 5 The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. 6 God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.”

It’s when Jesus said “I am not teaching something that I thought up. What I teach comes from the one who sent me.” as when we hear/read his teachings, it is profoundly unlike anything else, because it is divine, it becomes enourmously clear that no one could have ever thought these things up. Even the prominant athiests who don’t believe call him “A great ethical/moral teacher beyond his times” and even those who deny God must date their attacks upon him A.D. so and so.

It’s when Jesus turned to his disciples and asked them “What do people say about the Son of Man?” and then he said “But who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:13-20 The very same question he asks all of us, *“Who do you say that I am?” *Who is he for every man or woman. What’s important to Jesus is our personal response to these great questions: Who Am I for you? What do I mean to you?

As when Jesus would be taken before Pilate and he would say: “Are you the King of the Jews?”, Jesus replied: *“Does that question come from you or are you repeating what others told you about Me?” *(John 18:33-34) In the same way, when we tell Him: “You are the Lord, You are God; You are the Son of God”, Jesus asks us: Do you say this of your own accord, or is it because you have heard it?

Jesus came to tell of the truth and all of those who belong to the truth know his voice, Jesus is the truth, the way and the life and we come to recognise this as the words of Jesus produce the effect of a great truth in our souls and consequently many souls surrender to his love.

It is said that the Gospel hits us hard, and it has to be so, because it is the Word cast onto the world by God. And it is because Jesus possessed a profound vision of that reality, that even in our times, the Word gives His own validity to the past in order to integrate it into our today, and opens at the same time, a great gateway of hope towards tomorrow.

Thank you for reading
Josh

Before I go further, I will say I am a cradle Catholic.

But, not to rebuff you, what makes any meaning you invent for your life any more meaningful than Catholicism - or any other religion? I hope this doesn’t seem to make God a cop-out, but without any God as the final moral word, how do we humans decide what is moral or amoral?

If God is infinitely infinite (to sum up Aquinas’s analysis of Him), he decides what is moral or not. If there is no God, what is the arbiter of our morals? Is there one? I don’t think so, for all morals become capricious and subject to humanity. Not saying this proves we need Christianity, or that it is true. But atheism, if it is true, is highly undesirable.

But if your question is “Why Christianity over any other religion?”, though I am not well-versed on other religions, I know enough to know where to begin.

Consider the other religions:

  • Some depend upon men, who considered themselves men, but who claimed to have visions of the divine - i.e, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Zoroaster, Buddha.

  • Some depend upon myths which have little to no possibility of being grounded in conrete history - i.e, the pagan pantheons, Shintoism, even Genesis.

  • Some depend upon great moral teachers who teach us how to live based on their own observations - i.e, Buddha, Master Kong, Lao Tzu, Karl Marx, Adolf Whats-His-Name.

Christianity, while it has elements of all of these things - prophets, mythology, and ethics - has something unique that no other religion lays claim to. Its central figure, Jesus Christ, is not merely a prophet, not merely a parablist, not merely a moral teacher. He is the only teacher who claims, not to have seen God, but to be God, in a very literal way. His crowning proof of this is the Crucifixion and Resurrection. No other Messiah would-be, or prophet, or great moral teacher, made claims any such thing would happen.

I’m not saying this proves anything. But in a sea of prophets, myths, and GMTs, this Christ , this would-be God, in a place and time, seems the most likely character to stand if he’s true, or fall if he’s false. There’s more at stake with him than any prophet.

At least, it seems that way to me.

One can only study so much. At a certain point, one has to actually meet God. At some point, it may become necessary for you to leave the books and start to pray.

I grew up in a home without religion. My parents did/do believe in God, but He really doesn’t play a role in their everyday lives.

My journey to the Church is simple - I was called by God and finally heeded that call. When I was around 10, I wanted to go to church, but my parents wouldn’t go for it. They had bad experiences with religion in their childhoods and didn’t want that for my brother and me. When I was 17, a senior in high school, a friend invited me to her church. It was definitely NOT the Church for me, but it did help me in my journey towards Christianity. I saw Christianity as something possible, and I began reading about the various religions and if I could believe what they taught. I read about the history of Christianity, and Catholicism piqued my interest. I started thinking about how complex life on earth is and how evolution didn’t seem likely to me.

I joined the Marine Corps when I was 20. Everyone had to go to church the first Sunday in boot camp, so I chose to go to the Protestant service. There was a mix-up and the Protestants went to Mass and the Catholics went to the Protestant service. That was my first encounter with the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. I didn’t feel that presence the next week when I went to the Protestant service. I knew I HAD to have it in my life, so I started attending Mass; and the priest helped prepare me to be baptized and confirmed before the end of boot camp.

None of that would have happened without God calling me, and me responding and acting. All I can say is that God is calling you now. Do you hear His voice?

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