Just about a year ago, I put up a post called Finding My Faith, which presented a brief summary of some of my reasons and experiences that led me from atheism to Christianity. Very recently, I posted a tweet that summarized my journey in two sentences and 25 words. That tweet has gotten over 8000 likes, over 5000 retweets, and resulted in my gaining almost 1500 new followers. It also led to numerous requests for more details about my direct experience with Jesus Christ, and how I came to faith.
To begin to answer questions about how I came to Christ, I have decided to repost most of my original piece on Finding My Faith, with some edits. If you would like to read more, please leave a comment in the comment section below with either your twitter handle or email. If you have already sent me a DM on Twitter, and I answered you, I will contact you directly.
I had an unusual upbringing for a Christian. My parents were dedicated materialistic atheists. They not only didn’t believe in God – they also thought that anything with a spiritual, psychological or non-rational quality was bogus. I grew up thinking that people of faith were lucky because they could fool themselves into believing that there was a loving God who would take care of them. I wished that it would be possible for me to become a believer. But it wasn’t. I had been too well trained in the dogma of materialism and rationalism to allow anything as weak-minded and logically indefensible as faith to penetrate my mind.
I became a scientist and embarked on a career in genetics and environmental health research, I began reading about physics, and found that some of the language of cosmology, quantum physics, and relativity didn’t sound that different from the language of mysticism. Intellectually, from a scientific point of view, I found the denial of the existence of transcendental mysteries in our universe and in our lives to be untenable. If Hawking can write of imaginary time, if we need to understand that space really bends, and that the uncertainty principle is true, how can we deny the reality of mystery? I also began thinking about some new ideas in my own field of genetics and evolution, and biology in general, that didn’t quite fit with the purely materialistic paradigm of strong atheism. I became convinced that there might be something….more. But thinking that there might be something out there and actually experiencing it are not the same thing. I remained an agnostic because I had no strong reason to believe anything else.
In my 40s I began accompanying a Catholic woman to church. I found it to be a surprisingly pleasant and non-threatening experience. It was a surprise because I had been taught that churches were the source of superstition, guilt, torment, and hostility. The priest’s sermons were as surprising as the rest of the mass. The theme of this religion, which I had been taught was all about intolerance and power, seemed to be about love. I heard about the power of faith, forgiveness, and redemption, and about how all human beings are worthy of God’s love and how Jesus treated sinners (like me) as people worthy of His love and attention.
This didn’t make me a Christian – I was still on the outside looking in. But I had had several dreams that I later realized were direct calls from God, but did not understand when I dreamed them They are all described in the book. Two of the dreams included the figure of Jesus Christ, but I did not realize that at the time. In the last of these, I dreamt I was outside of a walled garden. I knew that in this garden there was to be found everything I had always been looking for, but there was no way I could climb over the wall to get in. I kept going around the walls, trying to climb up, falling down, and getting terribly frustrated. And then a man (Jesus) showed up, and said to me, “What’s wrong with you?” I explained I was trying to get into the Garden, but could not scale the wall. He smiled and said, “Then why not use the door?” and pointed to a door in the wall that I hadn’t seen before. I asked what I needed to do to gain entry. He answered, “Nothing, just open the door and go in.” So I did.
This dream and the others moved me, and helped me to break down my certainty that atheism was correct, and reinforced the sense I was getting after attending Church, that perhaps Christianity was a good thing. But still I resisted. How could I believe in something that might not be true? By now I knew that wanted to believe, I wanted to enter the garden, but was afraid to walk through the door, even with Jesus Christ holding it open for me. (When I had that dream I had not yet known the Gospel: “Seek and you shall find, knock and it will opened for you“).
I became a believer one day through the grace of the Holy Spirit. While driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike I had a direct experience of the power of the Lord, and it came from inside me out into the world. I had to pull over, stop the car, and for the first time in my life, I knew that God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and the blessed Holy Spirit were as real as anything I could see or touch. I cried and prayed, and felt the joy of the Lord permeate my being, which has lasted to this day. Hallelujah and amen.