What would it take to make an Atheist believe in God? That was the question asked in a Reddit thread where users shared what happened for them to start believing in God. Here are some of the most notable answers.
Less Stressful Life Atheist for many years. Always been interested in God and religion (especially Christianity). High school taught me to keep silent about any feelings towards a God whatsoever. Saw many people teased and made fun of pretty badly for what they believe in. But during year 11/12ish my feelings changed considerably. I cannot work out whether I genuinely believe, or whether I have ‘tricked’ myself to make myself feel better, but the idea that there is a being out there makes me feel good. Here we go, I admit it - I am totally scared of death. It makes me feel less stressed out, believing in God. I don’t have to think about what’s beyond the grave. I don’t have to argue with myself to figure out what I believe in. I’ve finally found inner peace and that brings me comfort. Something just changed and clicked in my brain - so what if there’s no evidence, maybe there is a God out there and you know what, I want to believe. The idea is making me happy. God is someone to talk to when I’m feeling anxious or upset. And even if he’s not listening, it’s made me feel a lot better for doing it anyhow. I haven’t told my friends or family what I believe in. I studied philosophy at AS and A2 level. I spent countless hours pouring over books about God, and arguments for or against his existence. I have debated and debated and debated over his existence and the truth about God. But I don’t want to anymore. I don’t feel I’ll be judged, but I am comfortable with what I believe in now so I can lay these debates to rest. I am still an extremely open minded person and I do not judge what people believe in. It’s just not in my interest to debate with myself or others anymore over this particular topic. It hasn’t affected my education, my thoughts on science or any other thinking. It just makes me happy and less anxious.
Because Why Not? I believe in evolution, the big bang, gravity, all that. But I know there is a WHOLE lot I don’t know, and on the off chance there is some positive force out there in the universe hearing me when I ask it for help, I want to ask it, because at this point, it seems harmless and it makes me feel better.
Something Deeper Than Love I felt something deeper than love. I didn’t always believe in God. I used to be a nihilist and so the world and life seemed devoid of meaning. As I heard about wars and miseries inflicted upon each other amidst joys of being I felt number and distant. I saw no point to dying when I was 80 or now since when we died we ceased to be. After mulling on the void for a while I grabbed a knife and was ready to kill myself. Then, there was a voice that was not me but from within. It asked in the most casual way what I was up to. In that moment, I felt hope for the first time in a while. I put the knife away and carried on. Eventually I caved to a friends’ request for me to go to youth group. While there, I noticed something odd. They loved and cared for each other with something deeper than I had known. I kept going there and eventually started attending church. I’ve been in love with faith ever since.
Peace I was suicidal and was ready to grab a gun and kill myself but right before I did I said a quick prayer and at that moment I felt a peace I had never felt and it stopped me.
A Feeling Like Nothing Else I struggled with depression and anxiety for years. One day, when I was walking down my driveway in the autumn, I noticed how beautiful the foliage was, and how nice the crisp air on my face felt. Suddenly, I felt like something in me “bowed” or “consented.” I was filled with love, tears were streaming down my eyes and I looked around and saw the world was filled with love too. I spent the next week feeling like I was floating. I was so happy. Even my dreams were happy (I could suddenly remember them!). The feeling faded over time but a sense of bliss remained. My depression never returned. When I pray, I don’t ask for anything or try to talk. I’m just enveloped in this silent love and bliss. I feel like I can pray for hours, and I often do. I don’t formally go to church, because I feel like the church has gotten a lot of things wrong– there is no room for anger or hate in God’s heart, it’s all love, that’s all it can be. I do go to mass sometimes and meditate twice a week at the local Zen center. I pray the rosary daily, though I don’t say the words anymore, I usually see vivid images and contemplate those. I wish everyone could have this experience. I see so many unhappy people, in my daily life and here on reddit. So many people think that relationships, promotions, government elections, or material goods will make them happy at last, and when that inevitably fails, they turn to substances. I guess my message is that only God– the Love that enfolds and embraces all of reality– can make you happy. He is already trying, but you have to consent, you have to empty yourself of all the hatred and anger that you feel. Then, when those illusions are gone, you will see the true world, the world of love.
Upbringing My parents raised me atheist. I mean that literally, my father is explicitly anti theist and my mother is a lapsed catholic. My mother had her two oldest baptised because it’s the thing to do but we were never brought to church as kids and my dad had many conversations with us about how no one actually knows what’s up there and if anyone told us they did then that person was lying and trying to extort something out of us. When I was little we got a bunch of hand me down books which included some of those innocuous “Jesus wants you to brush your teeth” picture books. He took those from the box and burned them in the fireplace after we went to sleep (my older sister was included in the burning, which is how I know). That was the general sentiment growing up, protect the little ones from being influenced by religious weirdos. Despite this, I’ve pretty much always believed in God. I never bought my Dad’s viewpoint, it was always just obvious to me that He was there. God was self evident. Which led to some objectively hilarious but at the time emotionally fraught conversations where I asked God whether He thought God existed. Eventually I ended up finding Christianity, my dad is quite disappointed and makes comments when I go to visit but in general I think he’s happy with how I turned out.
Questions I’m in a very murky area when it comes to my spirituality right now. I’ve not given it an awful lot of thought, but I know that I could never subscribe to a monotheistic religion. Traces of Catholic brainwashing remain and sometimes I almost feel drawn back towards that line of thinking, but I know it’s all bollocks. I believe in a higher power, but I don’t believe that the answers lie in the Bible or the Qu'ran or any other holy book we’ve got. I think it’s simpler (and yet much more complex) than that. There is a higher power, but it is not judging us. Nor is it watching our every move. Nor are we destined to go to heaven or hell when we die. I believe this higher power governs literally everything in the universe (perhaps even beyond, if there is a beyond) and is so large and so immense it doesn’t even give a shit about us. We may as well be atheists as far as it is concerned. It is not sentient. It’s essentially just… there. The laws of physics. The laws of life, from the big bang to the way that butterfly over there is flying. There is something bigger than any of us could ever understand. But that’s okay. I’m totally fine with that. We’re an incredibly smart race. We’ve landed on the moon, we’ve learned so much about the universe. We’ve learned so much about our planet, about life, about everything. But this is beyond any of us - this is existential, this is spiritual, this is ultimate. We will never find out why we exist. We will never find out why the universe exists. Or indeed, if we’re the only universe out there. It’s infinity. Out there is infinity. That is the biggest mindfuck I can imagine. There is no edge. It hurts my brain just thinking about it and I’m not even high.
Not Just Empty Phrases The first time I ever felt the presence of God was when a Christian friend would pray for me. The first couple times I went along out of respect but the words became more and more compelling. I somehow knew that they weren’t just empty phrases. It was very obvious but hard to explain - it’s like trying to define how humor is perceived. It is obvious that a joke is funny because you can feel it, but what is that feeling? I heard the gospel story and it was always on my mind. One thing that really stuck me was the nature of sin. When I was an atheist I thought of sin like it was a list of bad things - lying, lust, you name it. There was a video that we watched in school that I’ll never forget. Regular people dismembering their neighbors who screamed and struggled in the Rwandan genocide. It really drove home that evil that exists in all of us, capable of “inhuman” things that I think only we humans are capable of. It made the gospel all the more grave to me, that we people are really in need of a savior.
I became a Christian when I was 15. I’ve never stopped questioning, doubting, and learning. I study theology and science and I’ve never found something I can’t reconcile. My faith has grown stronger every year. I believe in the infallibility and inerrancy of the Bible. I am a Lutheran Christian and part of our belief is that faith comes from God alone, rather than being created by the human will. This is very true to my experience.
Becoming a Better Man I was a vocal atheist for years as a teenager, inspired by George Carlin and Penn Jillette, but in my quest to become more attractive to women, I eventually realized I needed to become a better man. I knew a bunch of lame tricks and theories, but I needed authenticity, so I turned to Radical Honesty and personal development, and that led to spirituality, as the question “How deep down do I go?” needed answering. It wasn’t long before I forgot about trying to get girls, as this path became all-encompassing, and then my first serious girlfriend appeared (in a “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” sort of way) and we walked this path together. It happened very gradually (it took me years to become comfortable using the word “God”) and I adopted bits and pieces from various spiritual traditions one at a time, but they all essentially point toward the same ideas. Ultimately, the same impulse that led to my atheism – the impulse to resolve apparent absurdities and figure out how life works – led later to my theism.
The Feeling I felt God. One one hand this is hard to explain. I’m a logical person, very (if I may) good with words and with a broad range of life experience, and yet feeling God, becoming close to, one with, God transcends the human experience and in so doing defies description. (I suppose this is why so much ink is burned up trying to explain God, and why every effort however well supported falls ultimately short.) God was there, right there, had always been there, I was simply, in retrospect, too smart to be aware of his presence. I tell people I couldn’t see God for years because my furrowed brow was in the way (that’s the way I talk). It turns out God’s a small voice, nearby but quiet, unobtrusive – and as such not well represented by shrieking suits, if, again, I may. Once you feel that presence you’ll never doubt. About three years ago, and I’ll be 60 this year, if you’re asking.
Finding Solace I find solace in the thought that there might be an afterlife and that there is a god that is compassionate and loving. I identify myself as a christian, and believe in God, but I don’t follow any set of rules by the church and do things my way.
Why is Anything? I was raised without religion, and while I’ve never described myself as an 'atheist’, any more than I’ve described myself as not a member of the moose lodge, I think I might qualify. It is my belief that all of the mysteries of the universe are ultimately knowable, except one. Why is there anything? Why not nothing? I don’t think science will be able to answer that question. So to me? God is the answer to that question. God is the idea of something-ness. When I talk to religious people, I get the sense that we agree on that. Many take it a lot further, and expand on Gods powers and motives…. but I think the root of the feeling that god is real comes from the most basic of questions about existence. Why anything?
Near Death Experience I wasnt an atheist. I went to church and stuff but I didnt believe in the existence of God. Church was just a fun place for me to hang out. My dad at the time was an atheist. He hated Christianity. My mom was and is christian. So my dad has asthma. On top of that he used to smoke a lot. He goes on a buisness trip to vegas walking through smoke filled casinos while smoking while having asthma. When he comes home he catches a cold. For some reason when he gets a cold his asthma becomes 10x worse. He ends up in the hospital hooked up to a machine that breathes for him. He is in a coma for 8 days. Right when the doctors they were about to pull the plug and announce him dead he wakes up. After recovering, he tells me about what happened. He said that he could see his own body lying on the hospital bed. So basically his soul left his body. He then said that he was transported to some place that looked like the inside of a snakes belly. Then he was inside a forest. In that forest he said, a man, very handsome, young, flawless apperance gestured for him to follow. My dad said he followed the man. Then, they got to a clearing there was a door. He said the man gestured to him again to follow him inside. He thought about it when he heard voices from inside the forest. It was my voice and my mom’s voice, he said. He decided to go towards our voices instead of with the man. When he turned around the man went into the door and left. This is when he woke up. Ever since, he is a beiliever that God does exist when before he was anti christian. Him going through that solidified my faith as well as his.
Tragedy I was raised Catholic and over the last few years started to doubt and subscribed to the typical teenage atheism thing, thinking I was smart for doing so. Around two weeks ago one of my closest friends drowned. There was absolutely no warning and I’m currently really torn up about it. After going to Church for his funeral I decided I absolutely did believe in God, not for me but for my friend. I just want him to still be there in at least some kind of way, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of an eternal paradise than him. So for that reason i guess i “renewed my faith”. Not a fully fledged 'Militant atheist turned priest’ story, but I thought I’d share.