I am a former Atheist. Oh, I grew up in the Church. My parents were Catholic, but that didn’t work for me – and sometime in junior high I told them I didn’t believe in God. That honestly may have been just a case of a teenager trying to get under his parent’s skin, but as time went on my doubt became real. In high school I started preparing for a career as a journalist – was trained to question everything. I spent my adult life in that line of work and saw and reported on a number of tragedies- all which only confirmed my believes that God didn’t exist – if he did he’d never would have allowed something like this to happen (a tornado, a hurricane, a murder, sexual assault of a child or whatever.)


But that all changed when I was 33. For the last 5 years I’ve been a bible thumping, Jesus freak. However I continue to think that the biggest problem with Christianity is the Christians. And so I am here in part to show the world that we are not all judgmental and self righteous.


So I decided to create this thread; Ask a former Atheist. You can grill me or attack me here. I think one truth is that Atheist talk about God as much as believers – if not more so – because it is such a fascinating topic.


By the way – just as a plug- I ‘ve written a book called Gradually to God which is all how finding faith as an adult. It can be purchased on amazon






Thanks for your time

Doug Wahl

Views: 204

Comment by doug wahl on April 14, 2011 at 9:56pm

Okay Reg, I am going to windup a little on your answer – meaning I will get to the point but you have to let me do it in a round about way.


I am not married. You know why. I can give you a long list of reasons: don’t want to lose my freedom, don’t have enough money to buy everything I want  - let alone everything she wants, I am afraid that something better may come along – seriously what if it happens at the alter and I find myself thinking; “Gosh that bride’s maid looks really hot.”


Who knows if I will ever get married, but if it happens it will not be the result of me getting all the items above satisfied. Instead it will be “Wow! She is incredible.” And my friends will point out that I don’t have any more money in the bank account, that I will still have to give up my freedom, that the chances are still there that someone better may come along…to which I will repeat myself and say “Yeah, but look at her – she is incredible!”


That’s how faith was for me. When I started out I had the list of questions: If there’s a loving God why does he allow for so much pain and suffering. How could God possibly care about what happens in my life? Why are Christians the only ones who get into heaven …nothing seems very Christian about that.


And you know what – I found faith without having any of those questions really resolved. What happened is I just got a glimpse at Jesus and it was like: “Wow- that’s incredible.


So if you start from the notion (and most people do, even nonbelievers) that Jesus really lived – then the debate on who He was comes down to three possibilities. You either think he was a fake, insane, or the real thing.


In 2006 when I was going through my conversion process (which happened over several months) water boarding was in the news. That’s why I discarded that He was a fake. When you read the details of his death it’s impossible to think that he wouldn’t have been broken at some point. People talk when they’re tortured and eventually he would have spoken up.


So – He could be insane. But in order to believe that you have to believe that all of his early followers were also insane- so now we are talking about one big group acid trip. I don’t think that happened. In fact it was thinking about the followers that really made me come to terms with Jesus – remember they also died brutal deaths. Some were beheaded. One was stoned to death. Peter was actually nailed to his own cross upside down. These men never claimed to be God – they were like you and me. The average Joe doesn’t die like that unless they believe in their cause. They had to have seen something that went beyond anything I experienced. Say what you will about men of faith but you have to give these guys the benefit that they really walked the walk.


And (this is kind of ironic) but I originally became a nonbeliever because people couldn’t answer my questions. And in part I returned to God because people couldn’t answer my questions. There were several here’s one of them; “Where’s the body?” If you wanted to stop Christianity before it ever got started all you had to do was produce a body.  “What do you mean he rose from the dead? Here he is right here – looks pretty dead to me! And let me tell you he smells, too.


But that never happened. Why?


But the big evidence, and Reg this may not be enough for you, came from inside of me. When I accepted Christ I still had a lot of questions and doubt – I still have a lot today, but certainty more back then. And you know what started to happen – I started to change. As the world’s foremost expert into the thoughts and mind of Doug Wahl – I started to have thoughts that were not off me.  When I started this thread this morning I promised that I would not quote the bible – but I am going to break that here. The bible talks about believing first and then you will get proof – that is basically what happened to me. Doug Wahl was changing – he was becoming something he never was before.


Reg, I know that won’t be enough for you. It probably won’t cross off any of the items on your list – it won’t be the evidence you’re looking for, but it was good enough for me.

Comment by Iain Phillips on April 14, 2011 at 10:09pm

How do you explain the fact that the Bible places the age of the Earth at between 6 and 10 thousand years, when there is a large amount of evidence which says that that estimate is a few billion years off?


Also, What about the idea that, up until the Council of Nicaea, Jesus was not necessarily considered the messiah?


Finally, and less confrontationally, how do you feel about celebrating Jesus' birthday in December, when it is clear that the date was moved to then simply in order to keep with old traditions?

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 14, 2011 at 10:10pm

Doug - do you mind taking a look at my deconversion process and offering me your thoughts on it:


Comment by William C. Walker on April 14, 2011 at 10:21pm
Since every person who was ever born, was born an Atheist, it's no big deal to be a former Atheist. It depends primarily on geography & parentage which religion you 'converted to'. 1.5 BILLION converted to the Muslim faith, if, by chance, they were born in the Middle East or a part of Asia to Muslim parents. Ditto all of the other sects which infest our 3rd rock from Sol.
Comment by Akshay Bist on April 14, 2011 at 10:55pm

@Doug - about your reply to Reg & your belief in Jesus - believing in something thats not real doesn't make it real. if instead of believing in Jesus you believed in something else with the same convection, like say, Superman, you'd be put in an asylum.

If going by your premise that Jesus wasn't a quack, then he most likely had some psychological condition. Take for example Joan of Arc - she believed talked to her but it is now widely accepted that she had some psychiatric illness most likely Schizophrenia. And she too got a whole country to believe in her & follow her.

If you want a more modern example, Mathama Gandhi - he believed in non violence & practiced it to such a level that was almost super-human. Had he been born a few thousand years ago, then maybe he'd have his own religion.

And finally about people following Jesus - there are tonnes of people in the world looking for someone to follow. Sometimes they follow good leaders like Gandhi and bring about a positive change in the world or they can be manipulated by some not so nice people. They could be pushed into weird cults, made into criminals or they could join bogus religions like Scientology, Mormonism etc.

Comment by Sassan K. on April 14, 2011 at 11:05pm
You weren't a real atheist - a sense, that you weren't an atheist for the right reasons. I had a friend once who told me that he was atheist "because his life was horrible" and that "god didn't do anything for him". That had to be one of the dumbest reasons to claim to be an atheist and I dubbed him a fake atheist. One must be atheist based on rationality and common sense, logic, and hopefully scientific principles. Even without scientific principles, a rational person can still be an atheist but the reasons must be right; not out of "revenge" or the wrong reasons.
Comment by Doug Reardon on April 15, 2011 at 12:16am
My best friend when I was growing up was an atheist, as were most of all of my friends.  When we parted ways and went to college (he to St. John's in Santa Fe, NM.) he converted back to catholicism.  Now he is an apologist for catholicism, and well respected in catholic academia.  What I think is that he suffers from boderline personality disorder and becomes that which those around him want him to be.  I can't say that this is what has happened to you, but I would be surprised if you are not getting a lot of support from close associates now for you reconversion.
Comment by Mac B on April 15, 2011 at 12:50am

  I think I kind of addressed this in the post above. I really don’t think one needs to believe in everything in the Bible to believe in Jesus. This may end up being one of those things where we agree to disagree.

    But what I found really funny is that the common perception in the world is that nonbelievers are opened minding and believers are closed minded. But look at what you wrote here. I am not sure that I’ve ever read a more closed minded statement; “All I have to do is read Genesis 1, maybe the first page on the Bible, to see clearly this is a work of fiction.”

    Really – before you pass judgement on who Jesus is don't you think you should read that part of the Bible that pretains to him?

 Well, that's what Genesis does for me. You said it yourself that you find Genesis hard to believe sometimes, so it's no wonder I do. Especially the creation, which we now know is just another in a whole bunch of ancient creation myths. I mean there are other stories as well that I kind of find hard to believe...the one with the 600-year old bloke who gathered two of every spicies of animal onto a boat for example. Guess he must have used said gigantic boat to travel all across the world first, getting all the marsupials and so on. I don't really see how it's being closed minded, because the burden of proof is on you.
As far as Jesus goes I think he or someone laying out the basics for him may have well existed (not in the way the myth goes thoguh), but I don't think there's any bigger chance of him having been divine than say Haile Selassie.

By the way I hope you don't think I started off as being rude, I really don't mean to but when the whole point of a debate is ones completely different world views I guess it's kind of hard not to. :)

Questions! You said you grew up catholic - don't you find the roman catholic church's stance towards contraception, even in Africa where HIV/AIDS is pretty much a pandemic, morally objectionable? And what about their stance on homosexuality? I mean don't you think the church rather than the christians is often a bigger problem in christianity? Although I'm not sure exactly how you meant that statement, since the people administrating the church are obviously christians.


I agree that god and religion is a fascinatiing subject, but you'd be surprised how little we speak of it in our ordinary lives where I'm from. Atheism is the norm and religion is a fun topic to discuss, but when it doesn't affect our daily lives I guess the discussion isn't as frequent or prevalent.

Comment by Scarlette Blues on April 15, 2011 at 1:02am
"Some were beheaded. One was stoned to death. Peter was actually nailed to his own cross upside down. These men never claimed to be God – they were like you and me. The average Joe doesn’t die like that unless they believe in their cause."

Look at the radical Muslims. They are strapping on bombs and running into crowds because they believe in their cause. What makes their feelings different from the people you've mentioned?
Comment by James on April 15, 2011 at 2:20am

Doug, I find it odd that you settled back on Christianity again after leaving it. How do you justify that choice in the light of the passage in the Bible that says anyone who was once a Christian and deconverts may never enter Heaven even if they come back to the fold? With most Christians, the idea of an afterlife is a big part of the draw. Assuming it's the same for you, and since the Bible says you're up for eternal torment anyway... Why Christianity?


Welcome to the site by-the-way.




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