Atheist to Catholic, by way of truth and beauty

Dr. Holly Ordway is Professor of English and Director of the MA in Cultural Apologetics at Houston Baptist University.

She holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her academic work focuses on imagination in apologetics, with special attention to the writings of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams; she teaches courses on apologetics, medieval culture and philosophy, and modern and post-modern culture.

Dr. Ordway’s book Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms(Ignatius Press, 2014) describes her journey from atheism to Christianity, and her subsequent entrance into the Catholic Church.

She recently corresponded with Catholic World Report, discussing her life and beliefs as an atheist, her journey toward Christianity, the mistakes made by many Christians in conversing with atheists, and the main reasons why she became Catholic.

CWR: Early in Not God’s Type, you state that as a young atheist, you thought that the “decisive argument against faith was that I could not believe, no matter how much I might want to.” What sort of understanding of “faith” did you have at that time? How might you respond now to an atheist who expresses a similar notion?

Dr. Ordway: I had the faulty (but common!) idea that faith meant blind faith: that is, believing something without evidence or even contrary to the evidence. Unfortunately, this is a misunderstanding that is propagated by many Christians. As an apologist, I’ve heard Christians say that they don’twant to know about evidence for the Resurrection or for the existence of God, because that will “diminish their faith.” It’s no wonder that many atheists conclude that ‘faith’ is a synonym for ‘ignorance’.

If having faith really did mean believing something without any grounding for that belief, I would never have been able to do it. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now: it’s simply not possible. It would be wishful thinking or self-deception. Continue reading

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