The former hipster atheist is the now well-known New Testament scholar Michael Bird. He writes about his turnabout in Christianity Today, but this blog post has some worthwhile excerpts. Here’s the subtitle of the CT article: “Bart Ehrman’s narrative suggests the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe. My life proves otherwise.”
Though I didn’t start as an atheist (is there a “nothing” category?) I agree. I’ve found the the high-browed educational elite are often the most close-minded. I don’t wonder about what they fear. When I was a grad student at Penn (that’s the ivy league for you non-hipsters), I once had an afternoon to kill. I went to the Semitics reading room (Penn has one of the oldest Semitics programs in the country). My objective was simple: How many books published by an evangelical press can I find? I looked at every title in the reading room. I found one book (count it – one). It was R. K. Harrison’s Old Testament Introduction. Now, things may have changed since the 90s. I don’t know. What I do know is how I feel like laughing every time I hear an atheist or critical scholar spout nonsense about how evangelicals are afraid to test their ideas. Pure BS. The evangelical institutions I’d gone to or visited had hundreds (probably thousands) of books written by critical scholars, regardless of their theological persuasion (if any). There was no sense of fear. No censorship of material that someone (gasp) might find a contrarian perspective in (of all places) a library. And then there’s the Zeitgeist buffoonery. Good grief.
For the record, the UW-Madison was much more open to having books by evangelical presses. I did the same thing there after I arrived as at Penn. Must be that ivy-league thing.
Here’s Bird’s conclusion — you have to appreciate how it mimes Paul’s testimony in Philippians:
Some have great confidence in skeptical scholarship, and I once did, perhaps more than anyone else. If anyone thinks they are assured in their unbelief, I was more committed: born of unbelieving parents, never baptized or dedicated; on scholarly credentials, a PhD from a secular university; as to zeal, mocking the church; as to ideological righteousness, totally radicalized. But whatever intellectual superiority I thought I had over Christians, I now count it as sheer ignorance. Indeed, I count everything in my former life as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing the historical Jesus who is also the risen Lord. For his sake, I have given up trying to be a hipster atheist. I consider that old chestnut pure filth, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a CV that will gain me tenure at an Ivy League school, but knowing that I’ve bound myself to Jesus—and where he is, there I shall also be.