I don’t know for sure what my oldest son’s words were back in 2007. But I remember the feeling. As a Christian parent, it was a devastating thing to hear.
My oldest son was 21 when I learned he was no longer a believer. He was so confident about his new worldview that he got a tattoo similar to what you see here — a common symbol within atheism.
His mother and I were heart broken. We raised him and his four younger siblings in the Christian faith. I told my son that logic and reason were important, but the Bible held ultimate truth. I wasn’t suggesting that he shut off his brain, of course. After all, Isaiah 1:18 says, “come now, let us reason together”.
His lost faith was hard to bare, but I placed hope in the thought that he was young and that there was still a chance for him to change his mind.
I was vaguely familiar with atheist perspectives. YouTube videos that were critical of the Bible were plentiful as were online comments from atheists. My early impressions were that atheists are often very angry people! Because of my son’s change of heart, I decided to dig deeper because I hoped that I would be able to find the large gaping holes in the atheist argument and win my son’s faith back. I was confident that I could.
When I thought about my son, I had some general conclusions about atheists. This included:
- They must hate God because of something bad that happened in their life.
- They want to believe there’s no God because they don’t want to face Him at judgment. Or put another way:
- They want to pretend God doesn’t exist so they can enjoy their sin.
My son was a big fan of science and he would share things with me like, “I’m an atheist because the burden of proof lies on religion. If you make an extraordinary claim or propose the existence of something, you must follow the scientific method in your defense of its existence. Otherwise, I have no reason to listen.”
I was also told by my son that many smart people, like Albert Einstein, did not believe in the God of the Bible. Oddly when I went to confirm, I often found that Christians were claiming that Einstein was on the religious side by cherry-picking quotes that sounded good. But after digging for the truth, it was clear: Einstein did not believe in a personal God.
In a letter to Beatrice Frohlich, in December 1952, Einstein stated, “The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naïve.” Eric Gutkind sent a copy of his book “Choose Life: The Biblical Call To Revolt” to Einstein. Einstein then sent Gutkind a letter in response and said, “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. These subtilised interpretations are highly manifold according to their nature and have almost nothing to do with the original text.“
Also to my dismay, I learned that my son had read several provocative books, which included Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great. After discovering these books, I lightly skimmed them both to become familiar with at least a small portion of their writings. But I purposefully did not read either book in full.
Learning about my son’s lost faith was very hard. If I was going to reach him, I needed to conduct a great deal of research, which included content I had purposefully chosen to ignore in the past. But I moved forward because his soul was on the line.
A man named J. Reuben Clark once said, “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed”. Someone else once said that, “The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.”
I was determined to shine a light on the truth and expose the lies that deceived my son. What follows is the journey I took to win my son’s lost faith back.
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