Atheists who 'repented'

Inspired by the current thread about what it would take to convince an atheist that there is a god.

Have there been any high-profile cases of outspoken atheists who have ‘repented’ and embraced religion?

What’s her names son. You know the woman I mean. The one that got prayer thrown out of school. Something something O’Hara maybe. Anyway he’s a born again thingee.

William Murray-O’Hair

Ricky Sherman has also expressed some doubts about his religious beliefs.

In both of these cases, it’s really the parents who were the avowed, crusading atheists. If I’d been subjected to what these kids went through (whether or not they started as willing participants), I’d probably have some negative thoughts about atheism too.

If I recall, C.S. Lewis embraced atheism for a while as a young man (although he came from a Protestant family). It wasn’t until his 30s when he decided upon a Christian path.

I’m not sure how “outspoken” he was about his atheism, or whether he was really more agnostic than atheist, but being extremely smart and surrounded by other university students, it would not surprise me if his beliefs were well-known amongst his peers and colleagues.

Atheist here:

Shortly before I die, I plan on repenting just to make sure my sinful ass makes it to the pearly gates, in case I happen to be wrong.

Replace ‘atheism’ with ‘catholicism’ and you’d have a whole different explanation for something else entirely. Parental influence cannot be the sole explanation for religious trends.

IIRC, our own long absent poster Cessandra performed said maneuver.

C. S. Lewis isn’t the best example. He became an atheist as an adolescent. He began slowing pulling away from it and was already a theist by his late twenties. He became a Christian in his early thirties. The little writing that he did on the subject in his early twenties (and that was just poetry, not an exposition of his position) makes him hard to characterize as a standard atheist at that time. His position seemed to be something like “God doesn’t exist, and I’m mad at him for not existing.”

I suppose that it is easier for a lukewarm theist to go back ‘to the flock’ than it is for an atheist to ‘repent’. Just MHO.


he revoked all the work he did on his deathbed, supposedly.
(FYI, i’m an athiest.)

No. Darwin did not “repent” on his deathbed, despite the claims of Lady Hope. Even Answers in Genesis rejects that story. And, even if he had, he couldn’t “revoke” the theory of evolution.

Didn’t Bertrand Russell regain his Catholicism just before he died?

I don’t think so. I think that’s one of the myths certian religious people pass around. I’ve heard it about Darwin, Russell, and Locke (who wrote a book about skepticism while waiting to die).

Actually this might be Thomas Payne (sp?)…IIRC…It was the person who wrote the Age of Reason, IIRC…

Nor do I think it is. However, in both of these particular cases, relatively young children were put front and center into very high profile court cases with lots of media attention. Maybe the kids really wanted to be outspoken crusaders from the time they were young, but I know I’m not the only atheist who wondered - long before either expressed doubts or became an outspoken Christian - to what extent they were pawns in the crusades of their parents, who may not have been accurately portraying their children’s religious beliefs to the media in an effort to further their own agendas.

I’m grateful for the advancement of separation of church and state that comes from cases like Murray v. Curlett, but I do worry about the collateral damage to the children involved.


so much for higher education.

i’ll file that tidbit under Things Learned in College, Incorrect

Darwin wasn’t an atheist.

Finch beat me to it.

“What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to any one but myself. But, as you ask, I may state that my judgment often fluctuates… In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.”

Charles Darwin, letter to Mr. J. Fordyce, 1879

Lincoln, maybe, who, if you believe Herdon, was an atheist as a young man, and then became more of a theist as he got older. He was never particularly “outspoken” about it, though.