My short bio: Six years ago, I dressed up as Jesus Christ for my school's fictional character day. Some of you remember this, as it was on the news, as well as the front page of Reddit. I was a militant atheist. Since then, I have converted to Catholicism.

My Proof: Here is a link to the story, which includes a picture of me. Here is a picture of me at my Confirmation, to prove that I really have converted to Catholicism.

Comments: 660 • Responses: 70  • Date: 

ohmygurd159 karma

What drew you to Catholicism versus other sects of Christianity? Like Lutherans or Unitarians for example.

StGenesius212 karma

I've actually written an article on precisely that subject. You can read it here if you'd like.

The short answer is: reading the history of Christianity, particularly the writings of the Church Fathers.

EDIT: Hijacking my own top comment to say that I had a lot of fun with this last night, but now I'm at work and the comments are coming in way faster than I can get to them (and a lot more of them are trolls). So, there's a good chance that I will either be quite slow in commenting, or stop altogether. However, I do still plan on answering the more serious questions later on today. Thanks to everyone who commented!

Dockbythebay147 karma

I'm the same. Though I wasn't as neckbeardy about my atheism. Welcome brother. Peace be with you.

StGenesius118 karma

And with your spirit!

nativeaquaponics1 karma

If there was only one early church father writing to read, who or what would it be?

StGenesius2 karma

I'm not sure I understand the question, could you clarify?

Sandy_Reader2 karma

they’re asking which is your favorite to read

nativeaquaponics4 karma

Exactly. Like if i was on a deserted island and could read only one, which father or what writing should it be?

StGenesius14 karma

I'd probably have to say St. Augustine, unless you consider St. Thomas Aquinas to be early enough to be a valid answer to this question. Aquinas would definitely give you enough material to read during those years trapped on an island! And both were absolutely brilliant thinkers, and have been the most influential in forming my theological perspectives.

danalamode101 karma

What was the most difficult part about converting for you? What advice would you give others?

StGenesius176 karma

Admitting I was wrong. Haha. That, and giving up a lot of bad habits.

My advice would be to pray, a lot - and to find a good community of believers.

Dominus-Tecum90 karma

Why did you dress up as Jesus for a fictional character day? His existence isn’t really up for debate, even amongst atheists, his divinity is.

StGenesius79 karma

At the time, I was convinced that Christ never existed at all. However, when my Principal asked me the exact same question you did, I just told him, "Well, even if that's true, I'm dressing up as the Jesus of Faith."

Interestingly, David Fitzgerald, who wrote the book Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All, actually sent me a signed copy of his book shortly after reading about my story on the internet.

WaldhornNate23 karma

Do you still have that book? If not, what did you do with it?

StGenesius30 karma

Yep, I still have it!

sh1nes84 karma

You went from not believing in god to believing you literally consume the body of Christ?

StGenesius142 karma

Yeah, pretty metal, huh? \m/

sh1nes62 karma

you dropped an "n"

StGenesius37 karma

Hahaha! That was a good one, well played.

meepwndd2 karma

I like you so much

SerjoHlaaluDramBero9 karma

You two ought to get together and watch Rick & Morty some time.

StGenesius21 karma

I prefer to watch LOTR if it's all the same to everyone. (;

RoderickPiper7 karma

Is there any way you could answer this question more seriously? Not to be rude but I would also like to know the specific logic involved with this.

StGenesius19 karma

I've already answered a couple comments where I address this question more seriously. See here and here.

evohans81 karma

Do you think you're just doing all this to remain in a spotlight of sorts?

To quote:

You see, I was previously quite the quintessential, vehemently fundamentalist Christian — a young Earth creationist, a biblical literalist, a Calvinist, a homophobe — the whole nine yards.

I'm not sure I buy this whole thing. I feel like you're still trying to use religion to define yourself, instead of you finding yourself without religion to backbone your personality.

StGenesius146 karma

These are all valid critiques, I won't deny it. There's a good chance that I am indeed simply a prideful person, and that I don't really know who I am without basing it on what I believe.

However, one of the main reasons I decided to post this is that I have often felt bad that one of the most well-known things I've ever done is mock the God I now worship. I mean, you search my name on Google, and this is what comes up. I wanted to at least let it be known that the same guy who did that has since repented.

songbolt25 karma

I find it believable, because the level of intensity is the same: Someone who goes out of his way to mock Jesus is more likely to worship Him than someone who doesn't care.

15 "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! -- Revelation 3, RSVCE

The opposite of love is not hate: It is indifference.

rockbridge135 karma

A poster above noted that he seems like the type of person that jumps between extremes. It sounds like he was an edgy teen atheists who never thought critically about his beliefs. And not he's the equivalent conservative Catholic who never really thinks critically about his beliefs.

StGenesius8 karma

Nice Ad Hominem.

bisonthryson2472 karma

When did it click that you wanted to convert to Catholicism?

StGenesius134 karma

Well, I didn't go straight from atheist to Catholic. I spent about a year as a non-denominational Christian, researching the claims of various Christian Churches. Eventually, even though it was the option I least wanted to be convinced of, I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church's claims made the most sense. As I mentioned in my reply to /u/ohmygurd, I actually wrote an article explaining my reasoning. You can read it here.

breakgreenapple57 karma

First of all, welcome home! Ecstatic that you joined the Catholic Church which I also happen to belong in.

My question: How did you deal with friends/ family who did not necessarily agree with your choice to convert to Catholicism?

StGenesius76 karma

There weren't actually many people in my life who had a problem with my becoming Catholic. Most of them were either supportive, didn't care, or were just glad that I was no longer living the sort of life I did when I was young, and an atheist.

There are however, plenty of people who don't like my being Catholic, and I just take that in stride. Christ never said being His follower would be easy. There have also been a few family situations where I've had to do things that my family didn't particularly like because I was Catholic (such as not being able to, in good conscience, give my blessing for a marriage between two previously married people), but thankfully that has kinda blown over.

Knightlyfe2245 karma

How has changing your faith to Catholicism changed your life/outlook on life? Additionally are you extremely devote now or just casual?

StGenesius161 karma

It's changed my outlook on life tremendously. As I mentioned above, before I became Catholic, I didn't really have a basis for believing in objective truth, morality, or meaning. That alone has done a lot to alter my perspective. I also view myself much differently now. Becoming a Christian forced me to undergo a lot of introspection, and I quickly realized that much of what I had been doing thus far in my life was seriously immoral.

To me, one of the most exhilarating aspects of Christianity is Christ's call to perfection. The quest to, with God's grace, become a Saint has become the single most exciting journey of my entire life.

And to answer your second question, I consider myself a practicing Catholic - and I'll keep practicing until I get it right. (;

RoderickPiper21 karma

Do any examples come to mind of things you believed you were doing that were immoral that may be surprising to atheists like myself? I know this question may seem personal but I'm very interested.

StGenesius73 karma

I don't know if it would be all that surprising, really. But mostly I was referring to the fact that back then I was heavy into drugs, and drug culture. I got caught up in a lot of bad situations because of it, and I often treated other people like crap to boot. Besides that, I was also addicted to porn, and my sexual relationships were really unhealthy.

There's more, but I don't really care to say more than that, considering that I'm not speaking anonymously.

Mammoth_Volt_Thrower20 karma

How do you reconcile a belief as being an objective “truth”?

StGenesius21 karma

I think the better question is, why would you believe anything if you don't think it's true?

Mammoth_Volt_Thrower55 karma

I think you are trying to be obtuse and not answer the question but I will play along. Why do you think Catholicism is true? Please don’t point me to your blog. I’m not going to read your blog. This is reddit and you are doing an ama.

Edit: You have to love the aggressive downvoting by the believers.

StGenesius33 karma

There are lots of reasons why I believe Catholicism is true, more than I could easily fit into a Reddit comment - which is why I've been linking to articles that I already spent a lot of time writing specifically to answer this question.

But, as to your question, I think most people think their beliefs are objectively true, that's why they believe them. Even relativism is ultimately a claim that "all truth (or specific subsets of truth, such as morality) are relative," which is an objective truth claim.

BigDaddyDeck31 karma

Hey I know the other guy didnt want to take the time to read your arguments for the existence of a God, but I did. I want to let you know there are several assumptions that are made in your arguments that while they may be true, and the scenario you describe is one possible scenario, it is not the only one.

Please reconsider some assumptions.

  1. Assumption that the universe had a beginning (it's also entirely possible it has "always" existed or has "never" existed.

  2. Assumption that because of the argument of motion, that any pre-universe must oblige by the same governing laws as we experience on Earth.

  3. Assumption that every piece of design of the universe was intentional and therefore God must be incredibly intelligent, etc, when in fact he could have done nothing more than simply create the initial "spark" and everything that happened afterwards had been a result of natural processes.

  4. The assumption that any thing outside of our 4 dimensional space-time would have properties, capabilities, or characteristics similar to a spirit or a god.

  5. There were more but i would have to look back and re-read the article you wrote because I cant remember it off the top of my head.

Judging from everything I've seen you write here today, you seem like a really interesting person. Honestly I see you as someone who is attracted to rigid ideologies or "extremist ideologies" as some will say. I'm not sure why you seem to latch on to them like you do, although I honestly dont know you well, but your history from Militant Athiest -> Drug Abuser -> Some sort of sex addiction -> Orthodox Christianity seems to me like a strong pattern.

StGenesius4 karma

A lot of these are valid critiques! Even the bit about my potential personality disorder lol, although I think it's funny that a lot of the atheists here are essentially falling into the ad hominem/genetic fallacy by saying that I'm only a theist as a result of some character flaw.

As I mentioned earlier, these articles I've been sharing are not exhaustive. I actually wrote them months ago (so they weren't intended for this particular audience), and they're usually just intended to be conversation starters that I share with people I know who I've been having discussions with.

If I were to rewrite this one, though, I would probably lay out Aquinas' argument from contingency rather than the cosmological argument, since I think it still works even if you concede a lot of the points you made, such as the universe potentially having existed eternally (even Aquinas himself didn't like assuming that the universe had a finite beginning in his arguments, which is why he favored the argument from contingency as well).

Mammoth_Volt_Thrower4 karma

I’ve known multiple people who have addiction issues and have turned to religion. Who of us doesn’t know a born again ex alcoholic? For some of them it has really helped them. If it is helping you than I think that is a good thing.

Edit: To add, I think a lot of us seek to understand why people believe and connect some of the dots. I understand that can seem like an attack but that wasn’t my intent.

StGenesius3 karma

I'm not offended in the least. I began considering the influence that my potential character flaws might have had on my beliefs long before I posted this AMA. After all, accepting that I'm a potentially deeply broken individual kinda comes with the territory of believing that humans are fallen creatures.

However, I have still done my best to come to conclusions as logically and reasonably as possible - and I think that implying someone's beliefs are insincere/false because of their potential character flaws is fallacious.

Mammoth_Volt_Thrower26 karma

I do not think that my beliefs are objectively true. I’m able to keep these separate and I think many people are.

I may believe a certain economic policy or law may best benefit society but I do not think that belief is an objective truth.

I don’t have to believe in the scientific laws, we know that they are basically, objectively true. These are testable by anyone. A person can choose to not believe in physics but then their belief can be demonstrably proven wrong.

StGenesius23 karma

Obviously people don't believe that all of their beliefs are objectively true. For example, I believe Biggie was a better rapper than Tupac - but that's not an objective truth, it's an opinion.

Indeed, we can know that scientific laws are objectively true. And I would argue that science is largely indebted to Christianity. But, that's another topic.

Let me ask you this, what would you say is your preferred epistemology? Are you a scientist, rationalist, empiricist, etc.?

LordFluffy40 karma

So I'm guessing you're down with the Filioque? If so, why?

StGenesius104 karma

For me, the Filioque is mostly a question of authority. Even some prominent Orthodox Christians admit that it can be viewed as theologically orthodox, they just deny that it was possible, or prudent, for the Pope to allow it to be added to the Creed.

So, my acceptance of the Filioque logically followed from my acceptance of, and submission to the authority of the Pope.

lettheflamedie4 karma

Which Pope, though?

(I kid, I kid. Please don’t anathematize me.)

StGenesius20 karma

Did someone say INQUISITION?!

lettheflamedie2 karma

No, thank you. We already have one. Try our neighbors. I heard them say “Holy Spirit” instead of “Holy Ghost”. Might want to see what that’s about...

But also, welcome to the Family, brother.

StGenesius10 karma

Sounds like you you've got one of them there modernists on your hands.

NovaThrowaway33334 karma

Do you comment when you see your picture reposted?

StGenesius50 karma

I don't usually see it reposted, at least I haven't for a while, but when I do see someone mention what happened, I say something.

commutingtexan30 karma

Is that Bishop Dewane from the Diocese of Venice in Florida?

StGenesius24 karma

Sure is!

commutingtexan7 karma

Nice! We lived there for 3 years, and were heavily involved in works around the diocese. What parish are you attending?

StGenesius15 karma

St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.

commutingtexan5 karma

Ft. Meyers! Loved the place. My best friend is now pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Naples. If you ever get the chance to make it down there, let me know. I'll make some introductions.

StGenesius5 karma

Sounds good! My wife's Confirmation Saint was St. Seton.

Dominus-Tecum25 karma

Do you consider yourself a trad/conservative Catholic or a liberal Catholic? Has your faith changed your outlook on politics?

StGenesius106 karma

Mostly, I try to be an orthodox Catholic. However, to answer your question, I consider myself to be theologically/politically/liturgically conservative. I wouldn't call myself a trad necessarily, since I don't mind Novus Ordo Masses as long as they're actually celebrated according to the documents, rather than the spirit, of Vatican II. However, I would probably attend EF Masses more often if they were more accessible where I live. I also enjoy attending the Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy when I can!

My conversion definitely changed my opinion on politics, it changed my opinion on everything really. As an atheist, I didn't believe in rights - I believed that, in reality, might makes right. That shift alone did a number on my political ideaology. More concretely, I'm also now staunchly pro-life, whereas before I was not.

As an atheist, I was a moral relativist, and did not see much merit in other atheists', such as Harris, attempts to ground morality in any sort of objective source. Coming to view morality as objective also played a big role in forming what are now my political views.

slothen231 karma

I think many atheists would take issue with the notion that moral relativism is a tenant of atheism. You've linked these as they relate to your own experience but do you generalize this to others?

Reading your responses, have you considered that you yourself seem to be drawn towards radical ideologies and immerse yourself in them?

StGenesius27 karma

I realize that not all atheists are moral relativists, but as I explained in previous comments, when I was an atheist I found the attempts of other atheists, such as Sam Harris, to ground morality in an objective source to fall short.

And I've also already recognized the possibility that I am simply the sort of person who is drawn to radical beliefs so that I can base my identity in them. I'm a human being just like everyone else, I have all sorts of flaws and I can't deny that this could very well be one of them.

But, even if that's the case, it would be a logical fallacy to say that those beliefs are then necessarily false.

OtterApocalypse-16 karma

[deleted]

StGenesius15 karma

All orthodox Catholics are okay with me.

Can you give me an example of the "constantly shifting morality" of the Church?

OtterApocalypse1 karma

[deleted]

StGenesius23 karma

These seem more like developments than actual, substantial changes. The Church's position on captial punishment hasn't really changed doctrinally, only prudentially. It's not that captial punishment is fundamentally immoral, it's just only moral in very specific circumstances, circumstances which the Pope has deemed are not the ones we are currently faced with.

neofederalist25 karma

What advice would you give Catholics who have militantly atheist friends/family/aquaintences for how to discuss religion with them? I'm not just talking about the arguments themselves (Aquinas' 5 Ways, etc), but the tone and framing of the conversation as well. Is there a style of debate that us Christians frequently like to use that is just ineffective when talking with non-believers? Is there something that we don't frequently do, but you think would nevertheless be very fruitful for dialogue?

StGenesius77 karma

I could say a lot about this, since I have spent a lot of time discussing religion with atheists since I stopped being one myself.

The first thing I would say is that you have to pick your battles. Sometimes arguing with someone is only going to make things worse, especially if 1) you aren't intellectually prepared for an intense discussion or 2) their reasons for being militantly atheistic are not fundamentally rational. From my experience, militant atheists/anti-theists are not atheists for primarily intellectual reasons. There is usually some sort of emotional basis for their militancy. The atheists with which I've had the most fruitful discussions, who I personally believe had more sincere and rational objections to the Faith, were not all that militant.

Also, most of the time there's no point even having a discussion - at least not one you actually want anything to come from - if there's no relationship. People don't typically care what you have to say, until, well they care what you have to say.

Lastly, I'd say that many Christians either take an approach that is either too offensive or too defensive. Either they shoot off arguments without ever really stopping to find out what their interlocutors' primary objections are (too offensive), or they allow themselves to be put in a corner without ever demonstrating the weaknessss in the other person's world view.

Both of these can be solved very easily, by simply having an actual conversation. Ask your friend/relative exactly what it is about theism/Catholicism that they object to, and work from there. Always go to the core, both their core issues with your beliefs, and the core issues you find with their beliefs. Ask whether they think truth/morality is objective, and how they justify that. Epistemology is your best friend. People are more likely to consider what you're proposing once they've realized that their own world view might not be as solid as they thought.

stupid_pun19 karma

I'm guessing you were not an atheist for logical or evidence based reasons then?

edit: Also I am curious what you mean by 'militant.' I have personally not met or seen atheists that proposed violence or creating militias to advance the position of atheism.

StGenesius10 karma

By militant, I don't mean in a military sense. What I meant is that I activity spoke out against religion and sought to convert believers.

But to answer your question honestly, I had a mixture of reasons for my atheism. Many of them were logical and evidence based (or, more accurately, I thought there was insufficient evidence for theism), but there was also an emotional element.

tommiesaquinas17 karma

You mention in the posted article of Fictional Character Day that your brother was at the time also an atheist. Have his views changed as yours have?

StGenesius41 karma

Sadly, no. I'd say he's more of a deist now, maybe a pantheist. We often discuss the topic, though, and I pray that someday he will find faith.

hibernatepaths16 karma

Was your interior journey entirely on your own -- or were there certain people in your life that gave you things to think about, or point you along the way?

StGenesius51 karma

The initial conversion to Christianity took place shortly after I had moved to a new state, so that part was largely a solo interior journey. Not entirely solo, though, since I do believe that I would have never even considered conversion, let alone actually gone through with it, if it were not for God's grace and guidance.

Becoming Catholic, though, was a different story. At that point I was very influenced by others, including the long-dead people whose books I was reading. I was also influenced a lot by Reddit, specifically /r/Christianity and /r/Catholicism. Two of the main influences, though, were a Protestant friend, and a friend who had converted from Protestantism to Catholicism. There was a period of about six to eight months where I would spend hours talking to both every day, especially the Protestant one - debating, asking questions, listening to lectures and reading books they recommended.

We still speak almost daily, and if it weren't for them, I wouldn't have made it half as far as I have since we started talking.

hibernatepaths25 karma

Your story is cool. I salute you for taking the time, questioning your beliefs, reading from experts, and searching for truth on your own and with others.

It is so much more than than so many people will even think about doing.

StGenesius37 karma

I appreciate it! But it was really all God's grace, my friend. To Him be the power and glory, for ever and ever!

polkad0tty16 karma

What caused you to even believe in the existence of a God at all? I read the article you linked, but I didn't see what caused you to make the leap from complete negation to belief.

StGenesius22 karma

That article was only about why I became Catholic specifically. If you want to read the articles I wrote explaining my conversion to Christianity generally, you can read these (keeping in mind that they are not exhaustive explanations, only summaries of my thoughts): Part I, Part II, Part III.

I've also written a few articles concerning why I think the typical arguments against Christianity fall short. For example, my article on The Problem of Evil.

spaghettilegslee28 karma

I read them all. There are assumptions and logical leaps that are obscured by what seem to be a very simple a to b to c, but really it goes a to b to c so therefore z. I don't think so. Even if it's true it's not logically sound to assume that a first mover must be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent, let alone jumping to the claim of what we all agree is the definition of God. The only God I can see from this logical chain is a god of the gaps and I think there is arrogance in assuming that everyone can agree on anything as abstract as God. Pretty much a rehash of centuries old thoughts with a good measure of patronizing commentary and unnecessary trips to Home Depot.

I can understand religion and the belief in God especially from a historic or traditional sense and even a purely emotional one. I also don't care if people believe or not, but I find it very intellectually dishonest to use logic to prove God in the way the first mover hypothesis does.

You can only get to that conclusion from those steps if you were already aimed there. Sound logical steps don't require assumptions or presuppositions about what everyone supposedly agrees on to arrive to its inevitable conclusion.

The first mover hypothesis starts with physical laws and certainties which no good thinker can deny, then leaps to I don't know, therefore God. The intellectual dishonesty is obscuring the I don't know to it must be this and we all agree that this is God so therefore God.

I'm glad that you found meaning and happiness. Whether it's from Catholicism or anything else is fine by me. I get that reading the old thinkers played a part in your conversion and it's an important part of it, but it's not really bulletproof logic.

Keep believing if it makes you happy and a better person. It's also kind of cool to participate in beliefs and rituals so ancient, but I remain unconvinced it's anything more than a human invention by geniuses and great thinkers of millenia ago.

StGenesius4 karma

As I mentioned in another comment, I think a lot of the critiques you've made about the Unmoved Mover argument are solved by the argument from contingency, which doesn't rely so much on temporal assumptions about things like that the universe began to exist in time, etc.

But I really don't see either argument as God of the gaps style argumentation. It's not so much that people such as Aquinas are saying, "Gee, I can't explain this, must be God." What there saying is, "Having observed certain aspects of the nature of the universe, and realizing that a infinite regression of caused causes is illogical, it makes sense to conclude that such a Being as shares the same characteristics as the God of Classical Theism exists."

inscrutablerudy14 karma

we know from Genesis that everything God created was good. God, being a good God, only creates good things – even the things in the universe which might appear to be inherently evil (e.g. cancer, poison, etc.) are not. This is because at the very least they have the characteristic of existence, and to exist is better than to not exist, so anything that does exist must be good to some degree

This is an interesting personal story and you have the right to your beliefs. I don't think your logical arguments are at all sound, but logical arguments aren't necessary to faith.

Here in the quoted paragraph you are making a great case for the moral relativism that you claim made you reject atheism.

StGenesius5 karma

This is not moral relativism. What I meant to say was that there are degreees of goodness relative to the ultimate standard of objective Goodness, God - not that whether or not something is good, or to what degree, is relative to the perception of the individual subject.

Brother_Proddy151716 karma

How was your view of atheists changed after becoming a non-denom Christian? Did it change again after becoming Catholic?

StGenesius69 karma

My view of atheists has changed a bit a long the way, but what's changed more is my view of myself (believing in sin, and that you're a sinner, can be very humbling), and my view of atheism. After all, atheists are all individuals, and they all have different reasons why they don't believe in God. If I learned anything from being someone who thought that all religious people are idiots, it's that I can't just turn around and say, "Actually, it's these people that are idiots." I may think many of their arguments are deeply flawed, but at the end of the day, as people, they are all just like me: sinners in need of God's grace.

And I think that this, having been there myself, is what's helped me have a lot better conversations with atheists these days. On more than one occasion I've had a non-believer say something to me to the effect of, "I've never talked to a Christian before who actually understands why I don't believe, let alone cares."

ALittleLess16Candles14 karma

Which would you say was a more difficult transformation: Atheist -> Nondenominational Christian, or Nondemon -> Catholic?

StGenesius30 karma

Hmm, that's a good one. I'd probably say atheist to Christian was harder, as that forced me to change my whole world view. Christian to Catholic just changed my understanding of that same world view.

santoniusmurillo10 karma

As an atheist-turned-Catholic-turned-atheist, enjoy your time in the Church. I learned a lot about myself during my time within Catholicism and still am very attached to a lot of the things I learnt and experienced.

Question for you: are you a Novus Ordo or a TLM kinda guy? Any involvement with the FSSP or the SSPX?

StGenesius15 karma

Very interesting! I'd definitely like to hear more about your story, you should PM me!

I mentioned this in another comment, but I'm okay with N.O. as long as it's celebrated according to the documents of VII, not the spirit of VII. I do enjoy a TLM, but unfortunately I don't often get the chance to attend one. I do, however, occasionally attend a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy.

thenoester7 karma

Hey, noticed that your username is "StGenesius" I love that! I'm a high school student and I'm on track to be confirmed this spring. Did you choose his name for your confirmation? I'm asking because he's one of the first saints I ever prayed to, right before a really important drama performance because he's the patron of actors. I also wanted to ask what drew you to him? I'm still a little unclear on what saint I want to choose, and I want to make sure that I'm choosing for the right reasons. Thanks for hosting this AMA. Cheers!

StGenesius15 karma

Yes, I did choose him for my Confirmation Saint! Mostly because of his conversion story, how he was an actor-playwright who used his abilities to convince a priest he wanted to convert, then, once in the catechumenate, used what he'd learned to write, and later preform, a play satirizing Catholicism - only to have a genuine religious experience during the baptism scene, and go on to be martyred.

I too, obviously, mocked the Faith before eventually converting, so he seemed like a natural choice.

Taileile5 karma

Welcome home! Who did you choose for your confirmation saint?

StGenesius10 karma

St. Genesius of Rome, and St. Louis de Montfort.

swingerofbirch4 karma

I'm assuming given your religion is Catholicism, which tends to be more philosophical and less literal, that you would still have the same qualms with your science teacher who was teaching creationism in a public school?

And how do you view the issue of dressing as Jesus on fictional character day now?

If that view is negative, how would you view the portrayal of Jesus in a play/movie about his life or a nativity scene with a live actor?

StGenesius2 karma

Yes, I would still have qualms with a teacher presenting young-earth creationism as true. Most Catholics have no problem accepting modern science.

I see what I did mostly in a positive light these days, in that it makes one hell of a testimony lol. Obviously, I wouldn't do it again, but I think God has used my indiscretions for good.

Not_The_Real_Jake4 karma

What made you realize, "Hey, maybe there is a God?" As in before converting the Catholicism, what made you question your beliefs? Glad you did though, for sure. Thanks for witnessing to the faith.

StGenesius6 karma

Part of it was that I started to realize that without a God, there was no objective source of truth - which left me with relativism, which I considered to be philosophical suicide.

I also shared a few links to articles I've written about why I came to believe in Christianity in a previous comment, here.

Mammoth_Volt_Thrower20 karma

What makes god an objective source of truth?

Many people believe in god but have very different takeaways, thoughts and beliefs. If a belief in god were an objective truth, why doesn’t everyone who believes in god have the same “truth”.

Why do you think a belief in god and relativism are mutually exclusive?

StGenesius8 karma

Something being an objective truth does not mean that everyone believes it, nor does the fact that people disagree about a certain belief mean that it's not objective. Some people believe the earth is flat, but that doesn't mean it's not objectively true that the earth is round. Yet, despite the fact that Earth's shape is an objective truth, not everyone believes it.

I also admit that it's possible for people to believe in some sort of deity and still be relativists.

My point is not so much that belief in God is an objective truth, as it is that belief in God gives one a basis for believing that truth is objective. After all, it seems pretty obvious that if the God of traditional Theism does exist, and he is the Creator and Sustainer of all Being, if He is indeed ipsum esse subsistens, then there is source of Absolute Truth.

Tinktur7 karma

Part of it was that I started to realize that without a God, there was no objective source of truth - which left me with relativism, which I considered to be philosophical suicide.

Does this mean that your reason for believing in the existence of a god is that there has to be an objective source of truth and/or moral? Why do you consider relativism philosophical suicide?

StGenesius2 karma

Relativism is philosophical suicide because it is self-contradictory, in that the claim "all truth is relative" is an objective truth claim. Is it always true that all truth is relative? Also, let's say I'm talking to a relativist, all I have to do is simply contradict them by saying they're incorrect and that truth is objective. If they wanted to respond to that by saying I'm wrong, they'd have to assume some sort of objective criteria for truth - and if they agreed with me, they would be conceding my claim that truth is objective.

YoungManSlippers3 karma

How did this affect those around you? Were families overjoyed? Were friends angry?

StGenesius10 karma

I've already answered a few similar questions. See here and here.

Mossparkafterdark3 karma

Aliens ?

StGenesius3 karma

Maybe?

Quetzal003 karma

What did people you personally know think of this?

Do you think you learned anything while Atheist that helped you become Catholic/become a better Catholic?

StGenesius27 karma

The responses to my conversion were pretty interesting. At first, a lot of people thought it was a joke, they simply couldn't believe it. A few people told me that they knew something like it would happen eventually. I used to get a message from someone every couple weeks or so asking if it was true, and if we could talk about it - especially from people I had convinced to leave their Faith. Even years later, I still occasionally get such messages. These days, most people I know don't believe I was ever an atheist when I mention it to them.

I 100% think that being an atheist has helped me become a better Catholic. It certainly helps me better understand how nonbelievers think, and how better to converse with them. Honestly, much of what I studied and learned about as an atheist only started to really make sense when I became a Christian. One of my favorite books is Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, and in the opening chapter he explains that he, a convert himself, had sought out to, through study and reason, discover the truth - to, "invent [his] own heresy, only when [he had] put the finishing touches on it, [he] discovered it was orthodoxy." He tells a little story about a man who, leaving Europe for the new world, was tossed about by a raging storm, and for months was lost. When he finally saw land, he hurried ashore, believing he had discovered the New World - only to realize that he was actually back home in England. He explains that this might seem the story of a fool, but really his is an enviable man, who was able to experience both the exhilarating high of discovering a new land, and the comforting joy of coming home again all at once. This is exactly how I felt. All of the things I deep down knew were true, and many of the ideas of the philosophers and scientists I had studied that lead me to atheism, finally made sense when I became a Catholic. I often tell people that the strangest part of my conversion was being an atheist who, one day, realized he was already knee deep in the Tiber.

Aside from that, being an atheist and having lived a rather degenerate life has helped me become a better Catholic because I know what the other option is - I lived it, and in retrospect I realize how unhealthy it was.

TheOboeMan2 karma

These days, most people I know don't believe I was ever an atheist when I mention it to them.

This sounds a lot like the once saved always saved sorts who claim you never were really a Christian when you become an atheist. Do they think you're lying or just think you were "no true atheist?"

StGenesius4 karma

A little of both. Even a lot of the commenters here are pulling the No True Scotsman card.

Quetzal002 karma

Wow. Very interesting

I’m very happy you have answered God’s call and come to the Catholic Church. You will be in my prayers

StGenesius6 karma

Thanks, I appreciate it!

jerimiahf3 karma

Sadly most folks who have gone away from the faith were born and raised in it to see how things were from an early age and know what they do or don't believe in. Sadly I'm in a very similar boat here despite many years of schooling that would be conducive to a lifelong Catholic.

I really don't have a question as much as a comment, but if I had to ask one thing, it would be what the beginning/turning point here for you?

StGenesius9 karma

The beginning point for me is that I've always had a passionate desire to learn, and align my life to, the Truth. The turning point was God's guiding me to the only real Truth, Himself.

I'll definitely be praying for you! Feel free to shoot me a PM. We might be able to have a better conversation that way.

apple3_14158 karma

Could you please explain how God is the only real truth. I truly do not know one thing that would lead me to make what seems like a truly blind leap of faith. Is it a feeling?

StGenesius2 karma

Do you believe that truth is objective? If so, what is the objective source of truth?

choosetango2 karma

When you were an atheist what was your best argument against the belief in gods?

StGenesius4 karma

I think there are only really two arguments against God's existence beyond "prove it." The first is the argument from evil, and the second is that God is superfluous as an explanation because of science/secular knowledge.

cicadaenthusiat2 karma

[deleted]

StGenesius33 karma

I believe that all Christians are called to be missionaries, but not everyone has to leave the country to do it. We have plenty of people to witness to in our own families and workplaces.

Carteelith7772 karma

Another militant athiest converted to Catholicism.

Were you “called back”? By that I mean were you baptized Catholic as an infant and put through CcD/Confirmation and somewhere along the way did not believe and decided to be true to yourself and be an athiest?

Also, do you find yourself seemingly MORE devoted than your peers since you experienced intense disbelief and were converted to faith? Do people in the church look down on you for being “too religious” or “holier than thou” when you are, in your own words, seeking perfection and sainthood?

StGenesius21 karma

I was not raised Catholic, no. I was actually raised Southern Baptist. However, it's true what you say. There's definitely a stereotype that converts tend to be more zealous/knowledgeable than their cradle counterparts. I have not, however, received any negative feedback from any of my fellow parishoners about my being "holier-than-thou" or anything - but it is possible that some of them do feel that way.

Most people just tell me they love my story, and they're glad I'm in the Church.

dmtdmtlsddodmt1 karma

So do you actually believe in a heaven and hell now?

StGenesius14 karma

Sure do!

DeusSolaris1 karma

[deleted]

StGenesius13 karma

If I were to say that I couldn't think of any reason why a religious person would ever become an atheist except that they had undergone some sort of emotional trauma - would that seem reasonable to you?

old_dirty_bath_turd0 karma

Not a question but welcome home! Such a beautiful story. Fellow atheist convert here. Any insight as to why you chose the Latin rite specifically?

StGenesius14 karma

Thank you! And that's a good question. Honestly, I often think that I might have wanted to be a Byzantine. But, a lot of it is practical. I work every weekend day, so I can only go to Mass in the evenings (usually Saturday Vigil or 6pm Sunday). The only Eastern Rite parish near me only has Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings.

Also, as a Latin, I enjoy being able to attend daily Mass when I can, and also Eucharistic Adoration.

G3m1n1-10 karma

Why do Catholics think Jesus was a white guy?

StGenesius26 karma

We don't? He was definitely a Mediterranean Jew.

DJDialogic-31 karma

Did you research other religions before converting or did you just go with what was popular in your friend group. Also, you do know that the Catholic Church was the Church of protecting pedophilia for about 1.5k years right?

Last question, what are your thoughts of the Council of Nicaea picking and choosing which scriptures are "divine" and wich where left out of the Bible?

StGenesius35 karma

I spent a lot of time researching various religions, even when I was an atheist. It's always been my primary hobby. I've looked into Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, etc. etc. Besides, at the time, no religions were "popular in my friend group" because I was an atheist, and so were most of my friends.

And yes, I'm aware that not everyone in the Catholic Church is or was a Saint.

DJDialogic-32 karma

Uhh, FYI, just incase they are hiding it from you, you should know. IT wasn't "not everyone...was a Saint" it was centuries of cordinateds Pedophilia at the hand of the Church leaders.

I wouldn't diminish the evil that the Cathlic Church was founded on. It just proves thier intention to continue with that same evil. Yes, you will be hearing about more pedophilia as you continue though the church. When you are old and gray new reports will still continue. Beware, and be carful. Good Luck with your on going spiritual Jurney.

StGenesius31 karma

Lol, they're not "hiding it from us." Head over to /r/Catholicism sometime and you'll see that Catholics are very aware of what's going on, and usually the most outraged and outspoken as well.