Atheism to Christianity: Why and How

I sat there, frustrated and bitter, in a poorly lit, dank smelling classroom. Another Sunday wasted sitting through Sunday School just to please my Roman Catholic mother. I wondered what the point to it really was, besides avoiding being disowned by my off-the-boat Italian family.
In my mind this was the turning point for me deciding there was no God. Unquantifiable pain and suffering existed through the world. Imperfect creation habited and ran by the unequipped – how could a God exist that was greater than all, perfect in every aspect, but produce the creation we are now living in? Not to mention the unspeakable controversy and history by the very church that is supposed to represent God. The evidence was pretty clear that if a God existed it was much more something akin to the sadistic or cold and distant gods of Greek tradition. How then did Christianity still stay “relevant” (or at least have so many followers) two-thousand years after its inception? This was the manifesto of my mind if you will, of why Atheism was the only logical destination for a person when pondering the meaning of existence. Darwin and Dawkins became my guides to understanding why we were here in the first place.
However, years of well-honed atheism presented itself a dilemma – why live in the first place? I had to seriously explore this question at a major point in my atheism. Our planet in relationship to the universe is like an atom of silica on a sandy beach – insignificant doesn’t even begin to describe our place in the universe. If there is no real destiny, no real purpose, no real impact to be had, why not just take the shortcut and skip the hard part, why go on living?
In my second year of an Electrical Engineering program at Drexel University, chance (the most mysterious aspect of our universe) decided to play a cruel trick on me. As I was working on my biggest disruption to my atheism, chance determined that my lab partner, and eventual good friend, would be a Christian. This was also quite handy, because I was starting to investigate how other systems of philosophy and spirituality practically dealt with reasons to live. He was the antithesis of every single negative preconceived notion I had about Christians. He was a generally kind hearted and caring individual. I found it odd that Christianity had suddenly become mysteriously alluring witnessing the unconditional love and acceptance I saw in my friend Jesse. However it would take more than one kind person to change my life philosophy, but Christianity had now gained my attention.
I checked out a campus event hosted by Christians with my friend to see what Christians were like in a group setting. Something interesting happened. The student speaker for the night cancelled last minute, so they had an older member of the faculty come and speak instead. He told a story completely similar to mine: single parent household, experiencing nominal and hypocritical Christianity in formative years, desire for scientific evidence, and a deeply unsatisfying life as an atheist. How could someone who had an easy 25 years on me have such a similar life experience? Was it still chance I was experiencing? How did the people around me (who were nothing like the stereotypes I believed in and spread on YouTube comments and forums) have such a sense of purpose, be so caring, and be so joyful while still being a part of such an oppressive religion? I decided that maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.
I continued to hang out with my Christian peers and began to understand why they were Christians. I reasoned that if I copy the lifestyle of a Christian without the belief, I would be able to experience the same sense of purpose and joy they displayed. To put it simply, I just found myself in a somewhat deeper depression. It was weeks of living like this that led to the discussion with my friend. Our life had visible differences even though we were practically doing all the same actions. Why did he seem so much more at peace? It was belief, the ability to confidently stand behind an idea despite it not being completely or remotely tangible. “What was the worst that could happen?” I thought. It was after that leap, the moment I decided that I could truly believe in God and prayed to Him for the first time that changed everything. Joy and indescribable elation came instantly. This was five years ago, and have never once regretted it. If you are reading this as a deep skeptic like I was myself, I encourage you to explore your own beliefs. It took me a long time to realize that the evidence of atheism that I clung to was there merely to rationalize the pain of this broken world and the effect that it had on me. I wish you luck on your path and hope that you can encounter the God who wishes to know you.

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