Throughout the month of February, this column will be featuring stories of noted atheists who experienced dramatic shifts in their views, eventually becoming Christians. The stories will highlight the reasons why they held their atheistic views to begin with, and the reasons they became convinced of the truth of Christianity.
As a Christian-Apologist-turned-atheist, author John Loftus has made waves in the Christian/Atheist debate with a number of books which lay out significant arguments against Christianity. Another of Loftus’ contributions to the atheist debate is his burgeoning blog, “Debunking Christianity,” which features writings not just from himself, but from a number of other atheists who advance arguments against Christianity and rebuttals of Apologetics.
Darrin Rasberry was one such guest contributor.
Growing up in the church, Darrin’s entrance into adulthood coincided with his exit from the faith of his youth. He began to doubt the God the church taught, entering a period of agnosticism before committing to outright atheism.
Darrin was a bright young man, a self described “math teacher, storm chaser, D&D gamer, drunk philosopher, lover of beer that’s too strong and spice that’s too hot.” As a math teacher and philosopher, Darrin pursued his interests by sharing the lines of thought which had brought his exodus from Christianity with others on the web. This led him to become a regular contributor to the high-profile blog of the famed John Loftus, as he shared how science and philosophy – if rigorously pursued – turned the mind away from God, not toward.
Darrin’s contributions were popular, and he became a leading voice on Debunking Christianity. However, as he immersed himself in the debates, certain trends began to disturb him. The first was the persistence of atheist “Christ Mythicists”, that is, people who claim that the evidence suggest that Jesus never existed. Says Darrin:
“Line after line after line of people hating Christianity and laughing at its ‘lie,’ when solid scholarship refuting their idea was ignored completely. It showed that the motive of bashing and hating Christianity for some skeptics wasn’t based in reason and ‘free thinking’ at all,”
It disturbed Darrin that the people he associated himself with could have so prominently among its ranks those whose motives for “debunking” Christianity were suspect. Some atheists, at least, didn’t seem to be in pursuit of the truth at all, but rather were pursuing some more personal reasons for dismissing the belief system.
Nevertheless, Darrin himself continued to study the evidence. Still, there were certain questions he struggled with answering:
“Briefly, I grew tired of the lack of explanation for: the existence of the universe, moral values and duties, objective human worth, consciousness and will…”
Darrin studied the arguments hard for months and years, challenging them as best he could; however he became distressed and even angered when they could not be dismissed:
“The only valid foundation for many of those ideas is a personal, immaterial, unchanging and unchangeable entity.”
However, Darrin was not so ready to simply throw in the towel and return to Christianity. He looked at every alternative he could before he looked back toward Christianity:
“After considering Deism (the belief in a God who abandons His creation), Islam, Hinduism (yes, Krishna, don’t laugh), Baha’i, and even Jainism briefly, I have decided to select Christianity due to its superior model for human evil and its reconciliation, coupled with the belief that God interacted with man directly and face-to-face and had *the* crucial role in this reconciliation. This, of course, doesn’t prove that Christianity is absolutely true (although I can prove that God exists), but rather reflects my recognition that Christianity is exactly what I would expect to be the case given that God exists.”
As a long-time poster for Debunking Christianity, Darrin’s confession of a return to Christianity on November 21, 2011 caused no small amount of uproar. Loftus himself took time to respond to it on November 30th, playing it down as best as possible:
“That’s the power of the delusion. It has a pull on some of us to return to the fold. …Hey, people believe and disbelieve for a wide variety of reasons, and that’s it. There is no need to discredit his conversion. Why do Christians try to discredit our deconversions?”
Darrin took time to worry about how his change in views might affect him relationally, especially given the poor reputation Christians have:
“I understand that this may confuse and even upset many of the friends I’ve had for a long time, both in my personal life and in the years-long journey I’ve made as a skeptic-to-believer. Christianity is not without its critics.”
Darrin joined the Church of Christ, which is generally non-denominational, because it confirmed only the bare core doctrines of Christianity while allowing him to explore his notions about the particulars on his own.