Both my parents don’t believe in God, so I was raised as an atheist. We had a Christmas tree, but my parents were definitely upfront about the fact that they thought religions weren’t true. I was the kid in high school who worked to get us to stop doing a toy drive for Samaritan’s Purse (which uses the toys to evangelize to poor children). And, post-conversion, I still think that’s a wildly inappropriate charity for a public school to partner with.Share
I grew up on Long Island, where the vast majority of my classmates were secular Jews, so between that and my family, I thought of religion as something that was not only wrong, but wrong enough to be below the level of hypothesis that deserve attention. Most of the time, when I encountered religion, it was in the news, when some religiously-informed policy intruded on the lives of people like me (like evangelicals fighting evolution in public schools).
College was the first place I encountered a Christianity I couldn’t casually dismiss. I joined the Political Union as a freshman (a debating group where you only argue what you actually believe and there are no points and no judges – you “win” by changing other people’s minds or your own). I tended to gravitate to the most interesting “wrong” people I could find, and that was definitely the Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
A lot of the counter-apologetics I knew were of the Dawkins-God Delusion type – targeted toward biblical literalists, God-of-the-Gaps people. And they didn’t apply to my new friends.
So, I didn’t think they were right, but I knew I had to do more reading to convince them they were wrong, and that’s how I actually starting reading people like Chesterton and Lewis. (Read more.)