I receive a regular newsletter from Creation Ministries International (CMI), a young-earth creationist group made up of scientists from around the world. While I was reading the October, 2011 edition of that newsletter, I ran across an article entitled “Eternal fruit – from atheist to creationist.” According to the article:
Sai-Chung was an atheist activist attending church to study Christianity – so as to be effective at undermining it!
Well, it turns out that this man attended a talk on creation science given by Warwick Armstrong, who used to be a speaker at CMI but is now retired. Recently, Sai-Chung contacted CMI and told them that Armstrong’s talk (which was given in 2003) was instrumental in him coming to faith in Christ. He is now a youth group leader in the Chinese extension of one of Australia’s largest churches. He was actually contacting CMI because he wanted some assistance in polishing off his first talk on creation.
So here is someone who attended church specifically to learn how to undermine it. Obviously, then, he was not predisposed to believe what the Church (or the creationist speaker) was telling him. Nevertheless, what he heard was so convincing that he not only decided to put away his atheism and become a Christian, he also decided to become a young-earth creationist! That story, in and of itself, is quite interesting. It also got me to thinking: Sai-Chung isn’t the only one who made the journey from atheist to young-earth creationist. I made that same journey, albeit by taking a slightly different path.
Early in my high school years, I was a proud atheist. I was fairly talented in the sciences, even though I didn’t think I wanted to pursue science as a career. However, I admired the scientists who I studied, and I was under the false impression that the vast majority of them were atheists. Mostly, that’s because my school couldn’t tell me about the personal beliefs of the scientists who were Christians, but it could tell me about the personal beliefs of the atheist scientists. Thus, the only time I heard about the person beliefs of the scientists I studied, I learned they were atheists. As a result, I thought that most scientists were atheists, so I became an atheist myself. Interestingly enough, even though I was an atheist, I wasn’t an evolutionist, because even as a freshman in high school, I saw that the evolutionary hypothesis didn’t square with the available data. As a result, I was an atheist who simply thought there would eventually be a solid, scientific explanation for how we all got here – it just wasn’t available at that time.
All that changed when a young lady who I wanted to date (but who didn’t want to date me) suggested that we go to a debate between atheism and Christianity. I didn’t really want to go to the debate, but I did want to spend time with her, so I went. I was shocked to learn that both debaters were scientists. The atheist was a professor of biology, while the Christian was a professor of physics. Both of them taught at what I thought were very prestigious universities. I don’t really remember much from the debate. Partly, I really was in shock over the fact that a modern scientist was a Christian. Partly, I was still more interested in the young lady than the debate. Nevertheless, the Christian offered a challenge that did stick with me. He said that a scientist’s job is to look at all the facts in an unbiased way and draw the most logical conclusion based on those facts. He then looked out into the audience and said that he challenged anyone out there who claimed to be a rational person to investigate all the facts. He was confident that anyone who did so would believe in Christianity.
I decided to accept that challenge. I sought out books that were written by scientists who believed in God. These books discussed all sorts of data that I was never taught in school, and those data pointed strongly towards the fact that the universe and everything in it was designed. As a result, I became a creationist, but not a young-earth creationist. I realized that the data showed that the universe was created, but I didn’t know who the Creator was. As a result, I read material from several different religions, trying to find out about the Creator. I became convinced that Christianity was the most rational of all the religions, but I didn’t become a Christian until some personal issues (which I don’t really care to discuss here) pushed me headlong into the arms of Christ. After becoming a Christian, I became more and more interested in the details of how God created the world, and because of both theology and science, I ended up becoming a young-earth creationist.
Now it turns out that while my “atheist-to-creationist” story isn’t unique, it is personal. Others have made the same journey, but sometimes by a different path. For example, Dr. James Y. Hugg became an atheist at the age of 13. He says when he learned that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real, he became skeptical about the existence of God. Of course, that’s a logical fallacy, but it was what started him down the road to becoming an atheist. He was a committed atheist from the age of 13 until his sophomore year at university, when he took a course called “Topics in Evolution,” which was taught by Nobel laureate Dr. Max Delbrück. His father’s death (which happened when he was 18) got him thinking about life after death, and Dr. Delbrück’s class on evolution got him thinking more deeply. He says:
As a result of that class in Evolution, I re-examined God and the Bible…I lost faith in Evolution, renounced atheistic humanism, and accepted God, His Bible, and His account of Creation as the truth in June of 1972.
So while the hypothesis of evolution held no sway over me when I was an atheist, it was obviously very important to Dr. Hugg. The article about Sai-Chung that I discussed at the beginning of this post didn’t go into much detail, but since a creation science talk was important in turning him from atheism to Christianity, I have to assume that the hypothesis of evolution was important to him as well.
Regardless of the specific path taken, the journey from atheist to young-earth creationist is not as rare as you might think. God speaks to all of us in a way that meets our specific needs. The question is, “Are you listening?”