Why a former atheist professor now believes faith is for smart people

ONCE an atheist English professor at a secular college in California, Holly Ordway admits that she once believed that Christians were a collection of “ignorant, plastic Jesus stereotypes” and “atheists were smarter than Christians.”

“It really was an inexcusable ignorance on my part,” Ordway says. “I bought into the whole ‘we’re more enlightened folks who’ve ‘arrived’ because we don’t believe in God – bad attitude that is often prevalent in colleges.”

She recounts her journey from atheism to Christianity in the recently released Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith.

“It is no light matter to meet God after having denied Him all one’s life,” she writes in the book. “Coming to Him was only the beginning. I can point to a day and time and place of my conversion, and yet since then I have come to understand that He calls me to a fresh conversion every day

She was convinced that faith was by definition irrational.

“I thought I knew exactly what faith was, and so I declined to look further,” she writes. “Or perhaps I was afraid that there was more to it than I was willing to credit – but I didn’t want to deal with that. Easier by far to read only books by atheists that told me what I wanted to hear – that I was much smarter and intellectually honest and morally superior than the poor, deluded Christians.

“I had built myself a fortress of atheism, secure against any attack by irrational faith. And I lived in it, alone.”

Ordway wasn’t looking for God. She didn’t believe He existed. But she began to be drawn to matters of faith.

One reason for her interest, she explains, is that her “naturalistic worldview was inadequate to explain the nature of reality in a coherent way: it could not explain the origin of the universe, nor could it explain morality.”

“On the other hand, the theistic worldview was both consistent and powerfully explanatory: it offered a convincing, rationally consistent, and logical explanation for everything that the naturalistic worldview explained plus all the things that the naturalistic worldview couldn’t.”

“I was startled to find that Christian theism had significantly better explanatory power than atheistic naturalism, in terms of explaining why the world is the way it is, and in accounting for my own experiences within it,” she recounted “Learning more about the Incarnation and about God, the most holy Trinity, has further reinforced my confidence that Christianity really does make sense of the world in a way no other worldview does.”

She found that “St. Paul’s forthright declaration that Christianity is based on the historical, witnessed events of Christ’s death and resurrection,” that “theology and philosophy offered real answers” to her questions and weren’t an appeal to blind faith, and that “the history of the Church did not conform to [her] image of the Christian faith as a self-serving, politically useful fiction.”

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5 thoughts on “Why a former atheist professor now believes faith is for smart people

  1. “Rationally consistent”??? Did she read the Old Testament?

    I can understand her viewpoint though, Atheists can be just as far out in left field as Christians can be. There is understanding to be had from both camps, and those who jump ship from a strong position in one camp tend to land in a strong position in another camp. Smart people would be open to the possibility that there could be a higher power out there somewhere while also being aware that there is no clear evidence that there is one directly interfering with existence as we know it.

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    • Yes. Many will tell us that attitudes arise from beliefs, but it seems we can change for instance from one political spectrum to another while retaining an attitude of radicalism, moderation, or anything else. Of course that also applies to religious faith or lack of it.

      The smart and open people you refer to, Jason, I would call true agnostics, those who have considered the matter – rather than atheists who unthinkingly see no reason to even think about the possibility. Yes, they may be sitting on a fence. Probably just well balanced! lol.

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  2. Just because a person has a specialty is does not mean they don,t have weaknesses in their thinking and behavior .
    How many those who people hold astute are smokers,alcoholics.gamblers,perverts,phedifiles,crockes and many many other failings.
    And then there are those that people hold high that suffered mental problems either hereditary of self induced from poisons legal or illegal :- step forward many artists and musicians.

    The part of the brain that the thoughts are central to are the oldest primal part
    It goes right back to reptilian ,not that much from that of a crocodile .

    That could explain the fascination of assigning “HE,HIS and all other references to male sexuality to most entities .
    Clearly illustrated in the women’s words above.

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  3. Meanwhile many who have been raised religious believers and in all the rituals invented by the heads of religions are coming to a understanding it is nothing but spin .
    Having nothing to do with any possible entity .

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  4. Why a former atheist professor now believes faith is for smart people .
    The professor has worked it out .
    But unfortunately from the wrong direction .
    The claim could be rearranged to this :-
    Smart people use the “FAITH & BELIEF ” within the general population to carve out a very good life. .

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