Conversion from atheism to Christianity

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The ex-atheist Lee Strobel converted to Christianity.

The abstract of a 2018 academic study performed at the University of South Carolina entitled Toward Faith: A Qualitative Study of How Atheists Convert to Christianity published by Joseph Langston indicates:

The study of religious conversion has historically neglected how nonbelievers (i.e. atheists) come to adopt a belief in a god or gods, and thus cannot address whether findings and theories from previous research apply to atheists. In order to assess how atheists converted to Christianity, we performed a thematic analysis of 111 biographical narratives obtained from the open Internet. Our analysis yielded 10 recurring thematic elements, which we termed as hardship; authentic example; unfamiliarity/pseudo-familiarity (with Christianity or Christians); “contra atheism”; religious study; intellectualism; numinous experiences; openness to experience; ritual behaviors; and social ties. We draw logical connections between these themes and connect them to previous research. Our results impress the need for a more flexible, and therefore less sequential or stage-based, theoretical approach to conversion[1]

The atheist M.S. Pearce explains the Joseph Langston's themes thusly:

1. Ritual Behaviors: prayer, reading the Bible, and attending a Christian church.

2. Intellectualism: use of rationalism, debate, arguments, and critical thinking.

3. Numinous Experiences: often inexplicable and mystical experiences of the divine, i.e. “religious experiences.”

4. Social Ties: social relationships and networks.

5. Hardship: negative life circumstances.

6. Unfamiliarity/Pseudofamiliarity (with Christianity/Christians): self-acknowledged misconceptions or preconceptions based on lack of or low experience, or negative experiences, with Christians and Christianity.

7. Openness to Experience: an attitudinal disposition of willingness to examine different ideas; to be open to another view possibly being true.

8. Authentic Example: finding Christians or Christianity to be inspiring or impressive; axiological or aesthetic influence.

9. Religious Study: extra-Biblical study of Christianity, and of non-Christian religions.

10. Contra Atheism: experiencing a sense of “worldviewlessness”, or of being ungrounded in the larger scheme of existence, e.g. existential despair.[2]

See also