I was sent this very interesting video from Living Waters, a ministry founded by Ray Comfort. It’s a discussion among three men associated with the ministry and Josh Timonen, a former associate of Richard Dawkins.
The video is rather long and a bit disjointed, so I thought I would give you a summary, along with my “color commentary.”
Josh Timonen was an American computer programmer who was also an atheist, and he spent a lot of time reading atheist websites. That’s how he learned about Richard Dawkins. However, he noticed that Dawkins didn’t have a website. After watching “Root of All Evil?”, he found an email address for Dawkins and wrote to him, offering to build him a website. To his surprise, Dawkins responded. They decided to meet. While Timonen and his wife (also an atheist) were traveling back to the U.S. from India (they were volunteering for a charitable organization there), he met with Dawkins (who lives in England), and Dawkins decided that Timonen should definitely build a website for him. This was just before The God Delusion was published, and Timonen’s work on the website earned him a mention in the preface:
Nowadays, a book such as this is not complete until it becomes the nucleus of a living website, a forum for supplementary materials, reactions, discussions, questions and answers – who knows what the future may bring? I hope that www.richarddawkins.net/, the website of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, will come to fill that role, and I am extremely grateful to Josh Timonen for the artistry, professionalism and sheer hard work that he is putting into it. (p. 7)
Dawkins was obviously very happy with Timonen’s work, since he dedicated his next book, The Greatest Show on Earth, to Timonen.
Timonen then started to work on a documentary with Dawkins, but because of some people associated with Dawkins (Timonen calls them “unstable”), Timonen decided to stop working on both the documentary and the website. He didn’t want to be associated with Dawkins anymore. This did not go over well, and Dawkins ended up suing him in 2010. However, that lawsuit was dismissed, and Timonen’s countersuit was settled out of court.
Timonen and his wife then moved to Portland, Oregon. The riots that happened there in 2020 became a wakeup call for him. He was distraught by the violence and was disheartened that many of his atheist friends (and the media) supported it. As a result, he and his family (by this time, they had a daughter) left Portland and moved to Waco, Texas. They started homeschooling their daughter (as atheists), but they decided that she needed some socialization. His wife mentioned a “cowboy church” nearby (Top Hand Cowboy Church), so they decided to see if it would give their daughter the socialization she needed. Mind you, they were still atheists at that point. However, they decided the church worked for their daughter, so they kept going.
Of course, hearing the Word preached (even though he didn’t believe it) made an impact. At some point, he realized:
…ok, I see how [the church is] benefitting the community, the people that are going. Maybe I should give it a better shake…so I started reading the Bible…when I got done with that I…thought to myself well, that’s something, but there’s still a lot of crazy stuff in here that I don’t think I buy.
However, he did come to the realization that he had always just accepted what the atheists said and had never really looked into it for himself. Thus, he read Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ. He eventually realized that he had to:
…deal with the fact that it was real. That Jesus was real.
He started reading the Bible again, and he also read more books about the Bible. Of course, since he and his wife were experiencing this church together, he also had a lot of discussions with her about Christ. Eventually, he was convicted that what the church was teaching is true. He says
I didn’t have an answer for every atheist thought that had come before…but that conviction is there, in the moment, that seed, that initial peace, that you know is true, and you’re like, well the rest of it will figure itself out.
I love that statement. He didn’t think he needed an answer to every atheist argument, because he was convinced of the truth of Christianity. More Christian organizations need to stress this fact. Understanding the truth of Christ doesn’t require answering every challenge to your faith. It simply requires realizing that God’s truth outweighs those objections.
Of course, as a homeschooling advocate, I also love the fact that homeschooling his daughter played a pivotal role in his journey to Christ. Had they not been homeschooling, he and his family would never have gone to a church.
Let that be a lesson to the churches out there: People come to you for lots of reasons other than to hear the truth. You shouldn’t expect them to believe what you believe right away. Rejoice for whatever reason they have come, and simply preach the Word. If you do that, you will transform lives. Just look at Josh Timonen’s!