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.
The website Patheos has the motto “hosting the conversation on faith.” As such, one would expect it to be a website filled with religious articles by religious people. Not so. A significant portion of Patheos is dominated by atheists and their arguments against and responses to religious claims.
A regular poster on Patheos was Leah Libresco. As an atheist blogger, Libresco was well established and respected on both sides for her keen intellect and insight into the heart of the discussions at hand. One of the drawing points which made Leah’s blog so popular for both atheists and Christians was the hook: Libresco was in a long-term relationship with her Catholic boyfriend, and it was the constant discussion between the two which became the theme of her blog, titled “Unequally Yoked: a geeky atheist picks fights with her Catholic boyfriend.” Here, she would pick apart the discussions she had with, and beliefs she saw in, her significant other, and analyze them from the rational perspective of a long-time atheist.
However, one thing which she could not reconcile with her atheism was her internal moral compass. She knew she had certain moral duties, and those duties lay outside of herself. But these duties could only be grounded in something transcendent and personal: God.
Finally she came to the conviction that Christianity was the system which best explained this. She decided to stop debating “Smart Christians,” and become one.
Libresco’s blog received roughly 5,000 page views per post, however her announcement of her changing sides resulted in a landslide of views and shares. She received around 18,000 shares on Facebook and upwards of 150,000 views.
Her switch became such a hotbed of interest and controversy that she was interviewed on CNN regarding her decision to change and the internet storm this decision caused.
Libresco still blogs on Patheos, now under the title “Unequally Yoked: a geeky convert picks fights in good faith,” and her blog has increased significantly in views and popularity since her conversion.
In her continued dialogue with atheists, Libresco is confident of her facts, stating that she believes that the analytical thinking of the atheists allows Christians to supply the facts and evidence, which are wholly on their side.
More than simple facts and evidence, she explained to CNN how the Christian worldview had explanatory power for the world around her that atheism simply didn’t have. She told CNN of her certainty that morality was objective, human-independent, something that humans discover, not something that they construct.
The new outlook on morality that Christianity offered her opened up a new world to Libresco. No longer was she simply concerned with her own moral needs and behavior, but she was now interested in the good and concerns of those around her, because she saw that morality was a transcendent value which touched all people, not one that each person made up for themselves.
In switching sides, Libresco has had to, in some sense, switch communities. She is, understandably, not as accepted by her atheist friends as she once was. However, living in the Washington D.C. area, and being in a relationship with her Catholic boyfriend, she has found an accepting community with which she can share her newfound beliefs with security.