Science and Belief


My name is Jennifer Fulwiler. I was a lifelong atheist, and I’m now a
Christian. I write a blog called “Conversion Diary.”
It’s a chronicle of the ups and downs of what it’s like to
have faith after an entire life of being an atheist. I never believed in God, not even as a
child. When my dad would come read books to me at night,
I believe I was in fourth or fifth grade and our nightly reading was Carl Sagan’s
“Cosmos.” So I was very much raised on a diet
of science and reason and evidence-based,
rational thought. You believe what you can prove. I believe that I have hands
because I can see them. I believe in a black hole even though I’ve never seen one but you
know, science can tell us about the way matter moves around it that we can
observe. And so this very rational worldview always made sense to me on a fundamental
level. Before I got to the point that I could
really start researching faith with an open mind, something had to happen, and for me that
occurred after my first child was born. I looked down and thought, what is this
baby? And I thought well, from a pure atheist
materialist perspective, he is a collection of randomly evolved
chemical reactions. And I realized if that’s true, that all the
love that I feel for him that it’s all nothing more than chemical
reactions in our brains, and I looked down at him and I realized
that’s not true. It’s not the truth. I didn’t know where to go from
there but that’s what prompted me to start researching topics of spirituality. I got my books about Buddhism and you know, and about every religion
except for Christianity. Basically, I assumed anything could be true except for
Christianity, and my husband who considered himself a non-practicing Christian, said you might
want to start with the one major world religion whose founder claimed to be
God. After all, that’s a really easy claim to disprove if it’s
not true, and I thought well, that’s a fair point. I was such a through and through atheist that I have to admit I was ignorant of
all these great Christian thinkers. What about Thomas
Aquinas? What about Agustin? What about DesCartes? I mean all of these great thinkers throughout history
were not only theists but Christians, and I was really surprised when I actually found these very intellectually rigorous books where
people talked about their faith from a place of reason and not a
place of emotion. And when I looked at evidence like that
on the whole, I started to think something explosive,
something world-changing happened in 1st Century Palestine. You have this guy named Jesus who
comes from a lower-class region, gains a bunch of lower-class
followers, and ends up being executed by the
Romans and yet in droves, you see thousands and thousands of Jews giving
up these traditions that they had held dear for thousands of
years. And the people who joined in on this new
religion, there was no benefit for them. It was a
persecuted religion. People who joined this religion didn’t
tend to work out too well – they tended to lose social status and often faced death. But I wasn’t yet you know,
convinced and ready to become a Christian, and so I started a blog. I just threw out
every hard question I could think of. I just put it all out
there on the blog and as I would watch the atheists and
the Christians go back and forth and debate, I realized we atheists, we don’t
have the lock on reason that I thought we did. But when I saw with the Christians was
they had that, too. They had all the knowledge of science
and material world that we atheists did, but yet they had the total picture of the human experience of love and
triumph and hope. You know, they could articulate that in a way that the atheists couldn’t. It wasn’t until after I had made the
intellectual decision to become a Christian that I think I
finally believed it in my heart. When I set my
pride aside and said, okay, I feel like I’m talking to
myself, but Jesus I want a relationship with you. I, I want to know you even
though I don’t know how to go about doing that. This peace entered my life, this joy, the way my whole being
was transformed – there was just no question that this is
somebody real. I think that not only am I more alive now that I’m a Christian, but I’m so
much more intellectually alive. Finally nothing is
off limits. I can ask questions about science but I
can also ask questions about the spiritual world, and I’m free to really seek the truth.

16 Comments

  1. SorienAAAA said:

    Ah, but did you honestly look at the Christian perspective?

    By that view, you MUST accept that baby is an evil sinner deserving of eternal torture..just for existing.

    If you think that is somehow better then thinking another way, you're a horrible person.

    September 9, 2013
    Reply
  2. Develon Douglas said:

    As an atheist, I have always found the "former atheist" disclaimer at the beginning of these types of testimonies very intriguing. My ears perk up and I can't wait to hear what led to the person's shift. I have to admit, I'm also consistently disappointed when that shift is, by the person's own admission, based on an emotionally overwhelming moment. Your baby can be a collection of cells AND something you love at the same time. One doesn't negate the other.

    September 15, 2013
    Reply
  3. blackorafice said:

    Interesting video, however, based on the video and your account, your conversion was not evidence based but emotionally based. You talk about love, human experience and hope; about how you couldn't reconcile how your feelings toward your child were based on material interactions. And while you mention great thinkers, the crux of the arguments presented are in fact emotional. It would seem to me you found the answers based on your questions, not on underlying truths.

    September 19, 2013
    Reply
  4. Jack Guy said:

    Children are innocent in God's eyes.

    September 28, 2013
    Reply
  5. SorienAAAA said:

    No, that is the modern cherry-picked "Play nice" perspective. Please stop distorting your own holy book.

    October 12, 2013
    Reply
  6. TheMortalhuman said:

    I would really like to know if Jennifer now believes that it is good and moral for God to punish the vast majority of humans in hell for all eternity, including her atheist parents and many other people she feels love for. Suppose her son grows up and becomes atheist, will she be able to turn to God and sing praises to him as her son is cast into the lake of fire? Perhaps her view of the " sailboat" does not include fiery hell like other christians view does. When she was atheist, did she believe that people should be punished forever for not being convinced that theistic claims are true? Is she a more loving person now that she can see that it is perfect justice for her father to be punished forever?

    March 15, 2014
    Reply
  7. James Doser said:

    One can't have thoughts of love without chemical reactions going on in the brain.  We can explain the mechanics of thoughts by stating chemical reaction in our brain has to happen doesn't mean that love has any less value or knowing this means it is evil.  

    May 22, 2014
    Reply
  8. Agnes Philomena said:

    At Holy Mass today, at the homily priest read a few pages of Mrs. Fulweiler's book on her amazing conversion from atheism to Catholic faith. It was so riveting. Rarely, had I witnessed the assembly so attentive to a homily. So still you could hear a pin drop. In listening to the priest's retelling of the account of her first confession to a a Catholic priest, one could tell people were moved deeply. Why? Because Christians are realizing that the new atheism is reaching into their own lives, inside families, their friends. There is REAL spiritual warfare going on. It should not be dismissed lightly. The reality is we have reached a point where we can say people like Ms. Fulweiler have courage that is lacking in many others. What has happened to America, Europe, the West?

    September 29, 2014
    Reply
  9. Agnes Philomena said:

    If one is vigilant and well informed, one should not be surprised that the new atheists will swarm here to try to discredit Mrs. Fulwieler.

    After all, the new atheists have even started to smear Thomas Nagel, an an avowed agnostic, who wrote a book thoroughly and rationally dismantling the arguments dogmatic physicalism, scientism, reductionism, materialism, and naturalism of the new atheists.

    September 29, 2014
    Reply
  10. Agnes Philomena said:

    Odd that some people (who wrap themselves in the mantle of rationality and the disinterested search for truth in the Socratic sense) would be so resentful of someone having found the Truth and a measure of happiness. Why is Mrs, Fulweiler's Catholicism so bothersome to these doyens of "free thought"?

    October 4, 2014
    Reply
  11. tikinkss said:

    My life experience was the opposite. I was forced to attend church, and when I had children, I felt that it was important for them to always be open to all ideologies. Even if that meant Atheism. There's too much out there to box yourself in, but that's how I feel.
    I hope Jennifer becomes a Buddhist at fifty.   

    October 14, 2014
    Reply
  12. Agnes Philomena said:

    @ TheMortalhuman

    You are in a phase of some sort. Your writings indicate that you are still have a Christian mindset.

    The new atheism you apparently profess is actually quite old (if you research it, you will see you're doubts are common and have already been refuted many times and long ago)

    The reality is, once you are baptized (even as an infant) your are buried with Jesus Christ. The sacrament permanently changes your soul.

    How? There is no wiggle room?

    The historicity of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth are Facts (no reputable scholars dispute these).

    Without Judaism, there would have been no John the Baptist (and the non-Biblical Josephus writes more of John than Jesus.

    No Judaism, no Christianity. The pagan copycat argument is anachronistic. No Paganism was always anathema, whether Jew or Jesus-follower.

    Without the Baptist, Jesus would not have been baptized and would have no ministry to carry forward (recall that Jesus intensified his mission after the Baptist was beheaded).

    Either God exists (or not). Either Jesus is wholly God and wholly Man (or not).

    Either Jesus is alive (or not).

    The miracles (especially the resurection) cannot be separated from Christianity and or watered down as embellishments (otherwise the apostles would have to be liars and there is NO evidence of deception).

    If true, then gospel accounts are free of error; and the apostolic witness is free of error and reliable and infallible.

    That means your baptism was not "just a symbol".

    One is always in danger of eternal damnation. And having been baptized, your obligation to Jesus are actually much more binding than one not baptized.

    Atheist arguments are as old as the hills.

    If Jesus is alive and really incorporated you into his army through sacrament, then you are in more danger than you realize.

    January 30, 2015
    Reply
  13. Agnes Philomena said:

    @ TheMortalHuman Re: 1 Corinthians 14

    Satan quoted scripture to Jesus too.

    Like to quote scripture? Nice gig. In your case, you give yourself license to quote the word of God without having to committing to living it.

    Is yours nothing more than an elaborate case of sour grapes and resentment that Mrs. Fulweiler has found truth and the source eternal happiness (while you are a burn out)?

    January 31, 2015
    Reply
  14. donkeyscommand said:

    What an encouraging story!!!

    March 2, 2015
    Reply
  15. lacontrabasse said:

    Jennifer Fulweiler says that it is not true that an emotion, such as love for a child, can exist in a world where her God does not exist. In other words, she says that the existence of emotion proves the existence of God.

    She offers no evidence for her claim, which says a lot about the veracity of her claim to have become more intellectually rigorous since believing in the supernatural.

    The power of the emotion of motherly love has given Jennifer the illusion of a supernatural source of that love. Her confirmation bias has then disabled her ability to be critical of the mistaken ideas of people like Aquinas, Augustine and Descartes. She should read some philosophy that has not been written by Christian apologists.

    Her claim that only Christians can understand and experience love, triumph and hope is not only evidently wrong and absurd, it is patronizingly offensive.

    October 30, 2015
    Reply
  16. a olufemi said:

    "I feel like I'm talking to myself". Lol. Jennifer, it doesn't matter to me what you believe really since I don't believe you are going to burn forever for not sharing my views. So I won't waste my time. The church has gotten more tolerant to others and many of the messages are now about family and love and helping humanity and MONEY lol. The doctrine of eternal damnation is still there Jen and us skeptics will continue to fight against kids being told they are going to hell for not believing.

    December 29, 2015
    Reply

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