My Journey to Truth: A Ratio Christi Student’s Testimony
by Farris Johnson, Clemson University
Although I was raised in the conservative Bible belt, by middle school I had left any “faith” I might have had behind. I gravitated from a very early age towards liberal politics and humanism. As a young high schooler I made the intellectual leap from agnosticism to atheism and continued on in my humanist pursuits by working for many political campaigns and non-profit organizations.
As an atheist, I realized my claims about God, immortality, & morality was rendering a certain meaninglessness over life – however this is certainly not how I lived. I lived for political and social projects, I used language like “progress” and “injustice” while simultaneously knowing that if I were pressed to provide a definition to such things, I couldn’t give an honest answer for why I believed they existed or even what they meant. Life was lived in two realms: 1) I knew there was a meaninglessness, non-absolute, subjective, and as far as I knew, possibly incoherent habitat for my ‘existence,’ but 2) I put this knowledge in a box in order to proceed with my own personal meaning. I realized that essentially, I was using some Grand Lie which ascribed unintelligible significance to my relationships and passions and work. As unstoppable meaning-makers, I think a secular person’s difficulty is in eventually accepting that any meaning they create is nothing more than a very serious game of make-believe.
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Make-believe isn’t very difficult in itself, but it is very tiring to continue to realize that your whole life is inconsistent – this was the state of exhaustion I found myself at. I found myself very disillusioned by the intellectual and moral incoherence within my own thinking. I thought it would help to backtrack and be more careful in my rationale, become a more solid atheist, but came to a conclusion that it would be an impossibility for me to be completely consistent.
After a series of personal events which left my life broken before me, I found myself with no answers. It was in an Existentialism class, a course very much aimed at promoting secular thinking, at Clemson that I read an excerpt from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, “The Grand Inquisitor.” From this short parable I first glimpsed that perhaps Christians might at least have a consistent manner of living – and this shadow of the Christian life exacerbated the longing I felt to live a complete, honest life.
Thirsty to see more of this, I went and visited a church with a friend. I don’t remember much, if anything, from that sermon, I just remember people-watching and wondering if this was a continuation of the make-believe I had engaged in as a humanist, or if perhaps it was grasping a greater reality. That same friend later texted me a verse from Romans, and the next day I read Romans in all of it’s entirety…
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