Famous Ex-Atheists/Agnostics

Posted: August 12, 2011 in Did you know?, Logic Related
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General Lew Wallace (1827-1905)

The story of General Lew Wallace is an interesting one. Wallace, a retired Civil War General, was riding on a train with Republican Party candidate Robert Ingersoll. Both were heavy opponents to Christianity, Ingersoll was even nick-named the “the Great Agnostic,” authoring many books that were anti-Biblical in topic. While on this train ride Wallace and Ingersoll were discussing their hostility to Christianity and the Bible. The conversation motivated Wallace to author a book that would expose the flaws in the Bible rendering Christianity false. However, while studying the history of Jesus and the Bible, Wallace discovered that he was mistaken. He became a Christian and ended up writing the pro-Christian novel Ben-Hur. Which was subsequently made into a major “epic” motion picture of the same name. Ingersoll unintentionally brought about Wallace’s salvation.

Sir William Ramsay (1852-1939)

Si r William Ramsay was an archaeologist and skeptic of the Bible’s accuracy. Throughout his career he studied countless artifacts from the New Testament period which ultimately convinced him of the New Testament’s accuracy. Ramsay especially credits the Gospel of Luke, considering Luke a true historian. Ramsay also authored the famous book, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen.

Quote:  “Christianity did not originate in a lie; and we can and ought to demonstrate this as well as believe it.”

Peter Stoner- (1888-1980)

Stoner was a famous mathematician and astronomer that served as chairman of the Mathematics and Astronomy Division for Pasadena City College as well as the Science Division for Westmont College. Stoner turned to Christ after calculating the odds of Jesus fulfilling just 48 the prophecies spoken about Him in the Old Testament. His conclusion was that the odds of one man fulfilling just 48 of the prophecies in one lifetime was 1 in 1x 10157 (or 1 with 157 zeros after it). Then take into consideration Christ fulfilled more than 48 prophecies and it became obvious to Stoner of Christ’s divinity. His work was published in his book, Science Speaks.

CS Lewis- (1898- 1963)

C.S. Lewis, a leading figure and English professor at Oxford University and author of many acclaimed books was baptized catholic as a child but fell away from the faith as a teenager. Later in his late twenties Lewis began to study and investigate the word of the bible with the intention of discovering its flaws and exposing them in his writings. In his studies he became so overwhelmed and moved by what he was learning, that at one point he wrote, that he dropped to his knees and began to pray to God. At age 30, he was baptized Christian. He became known as the “Apostle to Intellectuals,” writing many intellectuals books such as The Screwtape Letters, Miracles, Mere Chstianity, etc. The book he is most famous for however is The Chronicles of Narnia.

Quote; “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008)

Solzhenitsyn was a Russian Soviet novelist and historian. Though his writings were often suppressed by government, they  exposed much of the atrocities happening in Soviet Russia. His writing eventually landed him in prison where he was subject to brutal punishment. But it was in prison he was introduced to Christianity and gave his life to Christ. When he was released years later he would escape to America and was eventually awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Quote;  “The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.”

George R. Price (1922-1975)

Price was a man heavily involved in science being a geneticist, physical chemist and science journalist.  For a time he even worked at the famed Galton Lab as a theoretical biologist. In 1970 Price admitted that he had experienced many “coincidences” in his life that drove him to investigate religion. He looked into the New Testament eventually becoming a very passionate scholar on it. Convinced of its authenticity he became a Christian.

Anthony Flew- (1923-2010)

Flew, a famous British Philosopher, was world famous for his outspoken atheism. He always claimed to follow the argument where ever it led, and boasted that until evidence of God is discovered there is no logical reason to believe in God. Flew even debated CS Lewis on one occasion and is famed for defeating Lewis. However, keeping true to following the argument where ever it lead, Flew began to realize at a very old age that scientific findings in both biology and cosmology left no reasonable alternative but to accept that there is an Intelligent Designer behind our existence. Though whether he accepted Christ before his death is unverifiable, he did admit that Christianity was the most logical religion on God. I’ve personally read his book, There is a God, and highly recommend it.

Quote; “”It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”

Dr. Rick Oliver

Dr. Oliver has a MS in life science and a PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of California Santa Cruz (where he also minored in geology). He is also the founder and CEO of Confound the Wise Ministries and founder of the Mount Hermon Outdoor Science School. Originally an atheist, Dr. Oliver admits that in studying the anatomy of specimens it became very apparent that life was “designed.” He became a Christian in 1987.

Quote; “I remember how frustrated I became when, as a young atheist, I examined specimens under the microscope. I would often walk away and try to convince myself that I was not seeing examples of extraordinary design, but merely the product of some random, unexplained mutations.”

Francis Collins (1950-_)

Collins is a world renowned physician and geneticist that was the head of the Human Genome Project. We was described by the Endocrine Society as “one of the most accomplished scientists of our time.”  During college however, Collins was a self-described atheist. It wasn’t until the death of his parents that he began to investigate religion and God. He credits C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity as one of the books that aided him in re-examining his beliefs, which lead to his conversion to an evangelical Christian one day while hiking in the Pacific Cascades. He is also known for his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief and he currently serves as the Director of the National Institute of Health.

Quote; “”Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world [but] is powerless to answer questions such as ‘what is the meaning of human existence… We need to bring all the power of both scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen.”

Lee Stroble (1952-_)

Investigative journalist Lee Stroble is well known in the Christian community for his many books and articles on Christian apologetics. But before he became a Christian he was a strong atheist and looked at Christianity as an old fable or even cult-like. The fact that his wife became Christian upset him so much, that he began to research the true story of Jesus Christ and read the bible in an attempt to point out to her how false and inaccurate Christianity is. But day by day he began to realize that just the opposite was true. He was so shocked to find the teachings and happenings of the bible were more than just accurate, but that they were indeed divine. His attempt to disprove Christianity led him to becoming a Christian. He has since authored famous books such as The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator.

Quotes: “It was the evidence from science and history that prompted me to abandon my atheism and become a Christian.”

Alister McGrath (1953-_)

McGrath is a theologian, apologist and scientist, holding a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Doctor of Divinity from Oxford. A former atheist, he has now become an outspoken Christian writing the anti-atheism book The Twilight of Atheism, but is most notably known for his book The Dawkins Delusion? A formal response to famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion. On an interesting side note, Dawkin’s himself personally interviewed McGrath for the television documentary The Root of All Evil?, but McGrath’s entire interview was not included in the final cut.

Quote: “Atheism, I began to realize, rested on a less-than-satisfactory evidential basis. The arguments that had once seemed bold, decisive, and conclusive increasingly turned out to be circular, tentative, and uncertain.”

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Comments
  1. Noel says:

    I am a big fan of C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel’s writings. I have drifted away from Christianity, but I have looked at it with different spiritual goggles and can appreciate more the teachings of Jesus in today’s life. thank you.

  2. matthew2262 says:

    Another famous ex-atheist:

    Dr. Paul Davies, Professor of Natural Philosophy, Australian Center for Astrobiology.

    Quote: “The law of physics… seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design.”

  3. matthew2262 says:

    “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics,” And “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”
    –Professor of mathematical physics Frank Tippler

  4. matthew2262 says:

    “Faith has often led to cruel violence and intolerant persecution…this is not because they are religious, but because Man is not great” Peter Hitchens, “The Rage Against God,” pp. 153

    Peter Hitchens is a British author and columnist, ex-atheist, and brother of famous atheist Christopher Hitchens.

  5. don says:

    Great blog! One small question.. Isn’t the year of death for Sir William Ramsay (archeologist) 1939? I think 1916 was the year of death for Sir William Ramsay the chemist (as you have on another blog post).

  6. DE Navarro says:

    Awesome blog and information. Thanks.

  7. There was a series of films produced by an Atheist Scientist gone Christian about Creation vs Evolution and he and another fellow that helped to narrate the films presented the dragonfly, Malleofowl, Artic, Tern, and made a nice presentation on the development of the chick inside he egg. I watched them on Netflix some time ago and they are no longer available. Do you happen to know the film(s) I am speaking of? I would like to find them again. Thank you
    It is not God of Wonders, nor is it Answers in Genesis.

  8. stefooch says:

    It is just sad that it took so many years for smart men to believe in a truth that even children know. Thanks for the post.

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