This month, I’m featuring Devin Rose’s story of conversion from atheism to Catholicism. I learned about Devin Rose by reading his apologetics books. He is the author to several books and I’ve listened to him speak on the radio several times. My husband loves his style of writing because, like my husband, Devin is also an engineer; his apologetics are done in a very logical, analytical way. I, too, enjoy his books because they are very well-written and well thought out. Devin blogs at St. Joseph’s Vanguard. I’m always impressed at the 180 degree turn that many atheist converts make; they go from having nothing to do with the Catholic Church, to giving so much of their time and talent to it. Devin Rose gives his time through writing, speaking, and defending the Faith as a lay apologist. He makes his home in Texas with his family. I hope you enjoy his honest and open answers.
1. Were you always an atheist or did you leave faith behind and become one?
I was always an atheist. My parents encouraged it, though under the guise of “letting me find for myself what to believe.”
From about sixth grade onward I became militant in my atheism. I was immature enough and cocky enough to think that my understanding of evolution and science was sufficient to disprove God to my middle school friends. Most just looked at me funny when I challenged them about why they believed in God when clearly God didn’t exist.
But in high school I delivered a research paper on evolution and one fellow student got up and told me that God saved him from committing suicide, proving God was real to him. I shrugged my shoulders, if he wanted to believe in a fantasy, I couldn’t stop him.
2. What was it that started opening the door for you, as far as considering the faith?
A social anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and depression. I started getting extremely anxious in social settings: at college in class for instance, or at a party, or at a dinner. I would start sweating, feel nauseated, and need to escape out of the room. It was humiliating and got worse and worse. Nothing I did improved it, and I hid it from everyone. When I began considering suicide as an alternative to living each hour of the day in dread, I started thinking about whether God might be real.
So I began reading the Bible at Genesis and praying, asking God (who I did not believe in) to help me. Well, He did! Slowly my anxieties improved and faith began to grow as God helped me.
3. Why Catholicism?
I became an Evangelical Protestant and went to a Southern Baptist church. But I always wanted to get to the roots of things, and that led me to investigate where the Bible came from, who chose the books in it, why Catholics and Protestants had Bibles with differing books, and so on. I was also disturbed by the lack of unity in Christianity when Jesus prayed we’d be perfectly one in John 17. Protestants could never achieve unity but the Catholic Church had a strong claim to being the Church Christ founded. The evidence grew stronger for Catholicism and I knew I had to become Catholic.
4. Other than the fact that you know believe in God, how has your life changed since becoming Catholic?
My life has changed in so many ways: anger and unforgiveness used to build inside of me; now I forgive others and ask God to forgive me in turn. Also, I was enslaved by sin: it controlled me rather than the other way around, and now Christ has set me free to master myself and follow Him. The world makes so much more sense now. The Catholic explanations for who we are, why we’re here, why we are the way we are, all fit together perfectly with what I observe of myself and humanity.
5. What one piece of advice can you give to Christians when speaking to atheists about Christianity?
Don’t expect to convince them through reasoned argument alone. Use reasoned arguments, but also live as a witness to Christ; atheists see that! Nothing turns an atheist off more than a Christian hypocrite.