By Stephen Bedard
I have been posting a number of interviews with Christian leaders and have been getting a good response. This interview with Holly Ordway will be unique in that she will be the first non-Canadian to be featured.
I first encountered Holly when she was interviewed by Greg Koukl on Stand to Reason a couple of years ago. Her testimony really moved me. Although we have never met in person, we have had some interactions since then. She had an article published in Hope’s Reason: A Journal of Apologetics, a journal that I edit. It is wonderful to have her participate in this series of interviews.
Holly, you share your story of discovering faith in your book, Not God’s Type. Could you give us a short summary of why you left atheism?
The short version is that I realized that Christianity is true! I was an atheist because I thought that it was true that there is no God, and that the material world is all that there is. I never rebelled against God or was angry at Him – I genuinely didn’t think He existed. I was raised in a non-religious (though ‘culturally Christian’) home, so I never really thought about religion at all, never went to church, and never read the Bible, but I also wasn’t especially hostile to faith (just rather puzzled and uninterested) until I went to college and began to absorb the prevailing attitude that Christianity was a superstition, and that science was a superior way of understanding the world.
However, even as a committed atheist, I found that I couldn’t quite resolve all the inconsistencies in my own experience. I knew that it was important to try to be a good person, but I had no grounds for morality. I longed for meaning in my life, but my attempts to ‘construct’ meaning for myself failed. I had a profound appreciation for beauty and meaning as I encountered it in literature, however – especially in fantasy, and above all in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I wrote my dissertation on fantasy, centered on Tolkien, in fact.
Eventually, after I had my PhD and was a college professor, as I was re-reading Christian poetry in order to teach it, I realized that authors like Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, John Donne, and Gerard Manley Hopkins were all profoundly Christian, yet they were extremely intelligent men; I realized that perhaps I’d been a bit too quick to dismiss ‘faith’ as irrational and blind. I didn’t have any desire to become a Christian (I didn’t think it could possibly be true), yet I began to desire to understand better what these authors meant when they talked about God and faith – maybe it was more interesting than I supposed…
This led me to starting some conversations with my fencing coach (whom I had discovered was a Christian, but who was respectful and not pushy about it). He was knowledgeable about apologetics, and this led to my doing a lot of reading and discussion of the philosophical and historical arguments first for the existence of God, and then for the truth of Christianity (especially of the Resurrection). In short — I discovered that it made more sense, and was a more consistent, coherent, and explanatorily powerful system than atheism… and it finally connected both…
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