Former Atheists Explain What Made Them Turn To Religion
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Religion is a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Whatever reason you go to church, whatever kind of church it is, you go for a reason. There's a purpose for you attending a ritualistic gathering of people, all doing the same thing every time, expecting something to happen. Atheists typically don't buy into this, choosing instead to live their life believing in science or not believing in a higher power. However, sometimes the stars align and the Fates intervene and an atheist can turn to religion.

Reddit user, u/Wheatles_BiteAlbum, wanted to hear about:

Former atheists of Reddit, what made you turn to religion?

Understanding The Smaller Parts Are The Bigger Parts

People think church is a once a week thing, where you go to a building and sit in a service surrounded by fellow like-minded people. Turns out it's the smaller bits, the little moments you share with people outside of that building, that matters more.

The Big Questions Answered

I was raised atheist and became a Christian at 19.

I met a group of people through friends who seemed genuinely to care about others. They volunteered with elderly and fed the homeless, but also the kind of people who would sit quietly with you while you're going through a tough time. Or drop off food to someone grieving. Or buy a used van for a struggling single dad. I could write an essay on all the ways they helped me and other people for nothing in return except friendship - they didn't even collect tithes at their church, encouraging people to donate their tithe to bigger initiatives that could help more people.

I was so impacted by the way they lived in service to others that I began exploring Christianity. The thought of being part of a group that tries to make others' lives better seemed WAY more meaningful than how I had been living.

I learned about Christianity/God in an environment that encouraged hard questions, debate, studying for yourself and showing care for everyone. It disturbs me deeply that many people use Christianity as an excuse for doing terrible things.


Understanding What The Rituals Are

I'm starting to realize that it might be actually incredibly good for humans to believe that everything will be ok. Like, in general. Having a purpose and believing that there is a point produces positive brain chemicals.

I'm getting into a specific religion now, including aspects that I don't necessarily believe are true. Take prayer for example- it doesn't matter if there's a beardy dude in the clouds taking notes. It's not the point - regularly contemplating community and loved ones is a good thing to do. If you need to frame it as talking to a fella in the sky, well then do it to it. To me, faith is more about believing that living a certain way is the best way to live. Whether it's true or not is besides the point.

That being said, religion is not an excuse to treat others poorly. If someone uses their religion to treat other people poorly, I still look at them the way I look at anyone that treats people poorly.


Weekly Dinner, Weekly Togetherness

My life hit rock bottom. I was constantly anxious, constantly searching for peace. I took up meditation and found myself praying. Eventually a coworker invited me to their weekly church dinner and over many months I found myself a regular member.

I am a member of an independent church that broke off from the Methodist Church specifically over the conservative policies they instituted.


A Life Changing Moment

We'll suffer a traumatic experience, something far worse than anything we would ever imagine. In those times, in those lowest moments, we might do something strange and foreign: pray.

Hoping To Feel Closer

My great uncle was a life long atheist til his wife of 50 years died. She was always begging him to go to church and he would never go with her. When she died he was so devastated he started going to church to feel closer to her. That naturally resulted in him converting. He loved and missed her so much that he was willing to believe anything that would reunite them. He was a tough man but her death broke him. He always gave me sh-t for not going to church and it annoyed me but I respected how deeply he loved my aunt. On occasion I would go with him and he was grateful I humored him.


Losing Someone, Praying To Someone

You don't know desperation until you start praying as an atheist.


Yeah the darkest day of my life was when I was at a work conference for my new job and I got a few messages and calls that my best friend died. I was in such a bad state, hysterically crying, just a complete heap of despair. I pulled out a bible to help and I just wanted someone, anyone there. Pure desperation.


Overcoming Mental Hampering

I was on a years long depression and hopelessness spiral in my late 20's that I couldn't seem to dig myself out of. Decided I had nothing to lose by sincerely praying to God (and Jesus by extension), so I did. Within days I had a renewed internal strength and motivation that coupled with some random things falling into place, helped me dig out of it and start moving to a much better place.


When The Unexplained Happens To You

Then there are those moments when something inexplicable happens to you. Your life shouldn't be going the way that it is. It's unfair, harrowing, and depressing. Suddenly, you're met with a miracle, the only way to explain it.

Suddenly church doesn't seem that far off.

Finding Wonder In A Candy Wrapper

When I am stressed, I go to the vending machine and get a Milky Way candy bar.

Around the time this happened, I had been on a reading binge with philosophy and religion books for a while so the subject was fresh on my mind. I had been thinking a lot about things like deism, transcendentalism, and naturalistic pantheism.

On a particularly stressful day, I went to go get my Milky Way. The machine was out of them and I was crestfallen. I got a Snickers instead, which is not quite as good.

I walked back to my desk thinking, the universe has no inherent order or meaning, there is nothing watching out for us or a great plan. Camus was right.

I sat down and opened it and took a bite, and it was a Milky Way, in a Snickers wrapper.


When The Big Questions Are Shifted

To be honest? Because I separated the "how" and the "why".

I accept science explaining the "how's" (evolution, Big Bang, etc), but they never explained the "whys" for me (and, as an objective tool, science was never intended to explain it regardless). Religion and science answer different questions, and both are incredibly fulfilling to me.


When Life Is At Stake

We struggled with infertility for a couple years. I was at my breaking point. I had tried every supplement, wives tale, even fertility crystals. We were of course consulting with doctors and taking meds. Trying to find it in our budget to pay for the expensive fertility treatments. I decided I had nothing left to lose and I prayed. I told my husband the next day how dumb I felt for it... and he told me he had also been praying for pregnancy over the past few days. We went in for a fertility treatment and missed my ovulation by one day.. we were crushed. Until a few weeks later when I got a positive pregnancy test. Turns out we had conceived naturally that month, and saved the money on the expensive treatment.

To really seal my non-believer coffin, we learned we were pregnant with twins but in the process of miscarrying one. I prayed every single day for that baby to survive and I am currently in the hospital getting ready to deliver two healthy baby girls.


Whatever your reason for attending any kind of religious service, make sure you're doing it for you. Get out of it what you want and never feel like it's tricking you into doing something. A lot of good can come from that kind of community, but don't feel like you have to do anything differently than what you've been doing.

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