Search This Blog

Friday, August 29, 2014

From Atheist Blogger to Catholic Evangelist...

Leah Libresco
In his classic book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, who once set out to disprove Christianity, stated, "Now that I am a Christian I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable."

And, thus is the internal conflict that a lot of Atheists face on a daily basis.  It's the tension of being confronted with a reality that goes far beyond the explainable, according to the scientific method, and cuts to the deepest core of the human heart.

As former Protestant Minister turned Catholic, Ken Hensley describes it; it's like the struggle of a young boy trying to keep a beach ball submerged under water in a pool.  The ball, like the truth, always wants to pop up. 

Yet, for many, it's as St. Thomas Aquinas once stated, "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."  Of course, this recalcitrant denial is usually rooted in pride.

It's hard to deny everything you believe, or fail to believe; just ask former pagan St. Augustine of Hippo, who once wrote, "God make me chaste, but not yet," or once Atheist St. Edith Stein, or one time Anglican Bl. John "Cardinal" Newman.  There are consequences to conversion. 

It takes humility, or as St. Paul puts it, a willingness to "die" to self.  It takes a sincere desire for truth, regardless of where it may lead.  And, it takes courage, since often it flies in the face of friends, family and sometimes even careers.

Before the so-called "New Atheists" or the self identified "Four Horsemen," comprised of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and, since deceased, Christopher Hitchens, who set out to eradicate God from society, through an aggressive campaign of books, articles, movies, lectures and public appearances, not to mention, billboards and bus ads, there was Anthony Flew.

Flew was the "pope," you might say, of modern atheism.  He was a philosopher and scholar at Oxford, Aberdeen, and several other universities.  He wrote dozens of books and articles, arguing vehemently, loudly and unabashedly against the existence of God (Unless, he would say, empirical evidence for God would surface).  Well, it turns out, Flew was a sincere searcher and his last book was titled, There is a God, which despite the outcry from atheists questioning his lucidity at 84, was affirmed several times by Flew himself and a series of letters he exchanged, and were later published, with a Christian apologist on his newfound belief in God before his death. 

All that is to lead to the story of Leah Libresco.  Several years ago, the well known Atheist blogger shocked the blogosphere with her announcement that she had converted to Catholicism.  Let's just say, in Atheists' circles, it couldn't get any worse!  (I could almost hear the words of the legendary kid who found out White Sox star Shoeless Joe Jackson was involved in the fix to throw the 1918 World Series, who said, "Say it isn't so, Joe.  Say it isn't so.")

Libresco grew up in a non-religious household with college professor parents and in an environment that was totally isolated and void of any religion.

In fact, it wasn’t until she joined the Yale philosophical and political debating society that she  realized that all Christians were not fundamentalists who believed in Creationism. 

While in college, she started dating a Catholic man and made a playful deal that she would go to Mass with him every week, if he, in turn, would go to ballroom dancing with her.  They also agreed to exchange books on religion. 

The relationship eventually ended but, by then, she started blogging, became a regular contributor to Patheos.com, and continued debating with her readers about religion; mostly about Christianity versus Atheism.

Like C.S. Lewis, she struggled with rejecting Christianity in its entirety and accepting Atheism as a philosophical truth.  She says, she started seeing Christianity, "a lot more plausible but not necessarily true... I thought of myself an Atheist, while I thought it was coherent, but false also."

Her belief in an objective morality proved critical.  She argues that just as mathematical rules existed before humanity, and were discovered, the rules on right from wrong, good and evil and just and unjust also existed before us.

"(Christianity had) more explanatory power to explain something I was really sure of.  I'm really sure that morality is objective, human independent; something we uncover like archeology not something we build like architects."

That breakthrough led her to explore Christianity deeper and eventually led her into the Catholic Church in 2012. 

In other words, she humbled herself or, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, "I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England."  Only Libresco lives in the U.S.!

Check out an interview she did with CNN after her conversion.






2 comments:

kerry brown said...

Hi, my name is Mike and I am currently working on a book called, 'How to Debate Atheists.' I have completed the first three chapters and would appreciate any feedback.

http://mikemanea.com/unapologetics/how-to-debate-atheists/

Carlos Espinosa said...

Thank you, Mike.
Looks promising.
Although, it looks like you are well on your way, I recently picked up Trent Horn's "Answering Atheism: How to Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity" published by Catholic Answers that you may look into. Horn is very methodical in his debates and has debated several well known Atheists in recent months in California.
Good luck and keep defending the faith!
God bless.