Jordan Monge: I was a militant atheist until I met sacrificial love
Jordan Monge was a devout atheist from a young age. Jana Harmon, whose doctoral research focuses on adult conversion, tells the story of Jordan’s discovery of faith through a meeting that is both intellectual and experiential.
Jordan strongly identified with atheism from her earliest memories, declaring her disbelief in God at the age of 6. archaic superstition. An educated Ivy League student who was very sure of her own belief, she had found no Christian capable of meeting her intellectual challenges.
Jordan’s parents wanted her to decide for herself what to believe about God. After the death of her great-grandfather, she prayed to God that he would not let anyone else in her family die. But eventually she realized that “God is not that powerful after all.” This awareness was the “Instant of sparks” when it turns to agnosticism.
As a child, Jordan attended her father’s philosophy class where she listened to both sides of the argument and became a staunch atheist. Confident in her view of reality, she easily challenged her Christian friends over their beliefs, but found that they lacked answers. A particular contentious exchange marked “turning” towards a complete alienation of believers. She recalled:
“Christian children would tell me, ‘Just because the Bible says so.’ So I would ask, ‘How do you know what the Bible says is true?’ It was really like people believed it because they were born into it. When I was in high school, I brought a Bible to school with notes where the contradictions were. I would ask my friends, “How do you understand this? They didn’t know how to answer.
“A boy who was an evangelical Christian argued with me every day and other children heard our argument. One day a group of them surrounded me and asked me, “Why are you an atheist? Why are you not a Christian? One boy said, “I’m going to come to your house and shoot all the atheists. It was the first time that I felt alienated by Christians, afraid of all this religious thing. It was then that I thought, “I am an atheist and this is how the world should be. You shouldn’t force your religion on me. This was probably the turning point. “
The stone paradox
An outspoken atheist, Jordan called for a nationwide radio show to defend his position against the phrase “under God” in the pledge of allegiance. The facilitator asked her why she did not believe in God. She gave him her “best argument for atheism”:
“If God was omnipotent, then he should be able to create anything. If God is omnipotent, then he should be able to lift or carry anything. He shouldn’t be able to create a boulder that he can’t lift. The paradox of the stone.
Armed with philosophical arguments against God, no one seemed to be able to adequately address Jordan’s objections. Atheism seemed like the logical and rational thing to believe in, especially when faced with inadequate substance on the other side.
However, Jordan unexpectedly encountered intelligent Christians at Harvard who seriously challenged his positions. Their discussions led her to reconsider the strength of her beliefs, in particular the lack of basis of naturalism for objective morality. A self-proclaimed “Conservative atheist”, it “Firmly believed in objective morality” and began to look for a way to support his point of view.
Jordan approached his father with his dilemma, but declined to give him a straightforward answer, recommending Ayn Rand books instead. While Rand’s writing style was beautiful and imaginative, Jordan found his philosophy lacking: “Like a castle built on a cloud. There was nothing to support him.
There seemed to be no way to reconcile naturalistic atheism with its strong belief in objective morality. Was nihilism his only choice? Jordan desperately wanted to resolve this cognitive dissonance. She asked herself: “How to make sense of the world? “
“I went to sit on the bank of the river and thought that if nihilism is true, why don’t I just end it. I was not depressed. I didn’t want to end my life. I just thought, if this is really true, then these two moral choices are equivalent. I would have no good reason not to. I thought, well, maybe I can write a letter explaining that there is no objective reality, so this choice is an equal choice. But by writing a letter you are asserting that there is value and truth, so it doesn’t make sense.
“Then I thought about the other problem with this choice. The other choice completely cuts off your options. So, I decided not to do this. I will have to think more about this.
Seeking answers, Jordan asked a former teacher about moral foundations. He told her that morality was formulated either by a transcendent source (God) or by societal consensus, but Jordan could not accept any of these options:
“I don’t think you can get an objective morality from God because he doesn’t exist. And you can’t get it from consensus because it changes. “
After a more intellectual struggle, she had a “Epiphany”:
“It was very clear that killing me was wrong. What I am as a human being – all of my thoughts, emotions and abilities – is good and it is bad to destroy it. Then I was talking with my friend and it hit me. He’s just as awesome as I am. He has all of these thoughts and emotions.
“There was a very strong feeling of being overwhelmed by how awesome human beings are and how bad it would be to harm one, and how big the world looked. I was overwhelmed by the whole experience. After that I knew it was wrong to kill another person, although I might not be able to tell you why.
Jordan knew she couldn’t base her sense of human worth on atheism. For in naturalism, human beings are seen in a reductionist way as nothing more than moving matter with no inherent value or dignity. Yet she intuitively knew that she was more than that, others were more than that.
In naturalism, good and bad are nothing more than individual or societal preferences, subject to the winds of change. Yet she knew intuitively that there was real right and wrong, that it was inherently wrong to harm others. His views were becoming clearer.
Around this time, Jordan began to debate with his academic friends about the origin and development of the universe, the possibility of miracles, the reliability and truth of the Bible, and the historical evidence of the resurrection and found the evidence of God convincing.
During her research, she even found a logical solution to her stone paradox. After all, if she wanted to believe in Christianity, it had to be well grounded in relation to other worldviews. Reflecting on, she said:
“There were certainly strong arguments I had and what it really took for me to become a Christian was for those arguments to be dismantled and for me to find arguments for the other side.. “
Belief couldn’t be a matter of blind faith. She said:
“I don’t think I could believe anything unless I think it was true. I had to evaluate everything, every step of the process. I looked both ways and chatted with my dad. I read Richard Dawkins and I said, ‘OK Richard Dawkins, wow me.’ And I was so disappointed with him. I was so depressed. I thought, ‘Is that what other atheists think? What’s wrong with them? ‘ I did my best to be objective, to look both ways, to read both sides.
A change of heart
As the intellectual component of Christianity became more and more convincing, Jordan decided to go to church. “to understand everything”. She began to read the Bible and the accounts of the crucifixion and felt emotionally unmoved. Feeling confused, she prayed:
“My God, my head thinks it’s true, but my heart isn’t at all. What’s the matter with that? What is wrong with me?“
Then Jordan’s heart began to change when she looked at Christianity from a more personal perspective:
“I began to feel very strongly the weight of my sin, that I was not living up to my ideals. I saw a beauty in Christianity that I had never seen before. I had seen Christ on the cross a thousand times but I didn’t really know what it meant. But someone explained it to me: “It’s a sign that God is dying for you.
“Then I thought, ‘This is love. It is beauty. Then I remembered my high school teacher telling me, “Love is a sacrifice. That’s when I realized, ‘He’s right. Sacrifice is love. It clicked. I discovered that at its root, Christianity is about love.
Overall, the intellectual, moral, experiential, and personal truth of Christianity convinced Jordan to become a follower of Christ. The questions that had haunted her as an atheist found a solution in the fullness of the Christian worldview for which she became an active activist – a place far removed from her days as an outspoken atheist. .
You can hear more of Jordan’s story on the SIDE B Podcast with Jana Harmon
You can hear more from Jana Harmon on Unbelievable
Join NT Wright, Tom Holland, Josh McDowell and others online at Unbelievable? conference on May 15