Atheist Professor Becomes Christian

by Glenn Smith

Dr. Holly Ordway has published a book titled Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith, telling her personal story. She begins “I had never in my life said a prayer, never been to a church service. Christmas meant presents and Easter meant chocolate bunnies–nothing more.” But her views get hardened: “In college, I absorbed the idea that Christianity was historical curiosity, or a blemish on modern civilization, or perhaps both. My college science classes presented Christians as illiterate anti-intellectuals who, because they didn’t embrace Darwinism, threatened the advancement of knowledge. My history classes omitted or downplayed references to historical figures’ faith.” Still later, “At thirty-one years old, I was an atheist college professor–and I delighted in thinking of myself that way. I got a kick out of being an unbeliever; it was fun to consider myself superior to the unenlightened, superstitious masses, and to make snide comments about Christians.” (p.15-16)

Ordway was a trained academic without a history in religion. But she was no disinterested intellectual: “There was something about the idea of faith that made it stick with me. I didn’t have faith, I didn’t want faith, but I felt compelled to have a good reason why not. I constructed an elaborate analogy for myself, one that I felt gave satisfying explanation of why ‘faith’ was impossible. . . I could not

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believe, no matter how much I might want to . . .I thought ‘faith’ was a meaningless word, that so-called believers were either hypocrites or self-deluded fools, and that it was a waste of time to consider any7 claim that Christians made about the truth. . . . 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 smarter and more 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.” (p.17-18)

Ordway had carefully built up a defense, but not so careful as to protect her mind from the ideas of the great English poets. She speaks of being surprised by such writers as John Keats, John Donne, and Gerard Manley Hopkins, men who wrote of a beautiful concept: hope. A day of hope . . . was there such a day to hope for?

The rest of Ordway’s book tells of her meeting a fencing coach that she trusted, a person who she did not discover was a Christian until after she had begun working with him…

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