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Essay Causes Atheist to Question Beliefs

“One of the hardest things as an atheist,” Jordan shares, “is that all of these values, ‘Why am I important? Why should people care about me?’ A lot of those things come from your own performance.”

As the daughter of two atheists, Jordan Monge felt she had a lot to prove.

“You have to understand, my family is very competitive,” she says. “There's always been a high priority on being the best. So much of my identity was founded on ‘I'm the smartest one in the room. I'm not the prettiest, I'm not the most athletic, I'm the smartest.’"

At eleven years old, Jordan decided there was no God and began openly challenging her Christian classmates.

“I would bring the Bible to school,” she remembers, “with post-it notes where all the contradictions were, and then I would say, ‘Tell me why this isn't a contradiction?’ And they couldn't really do it.”

But in high school, Jordan started to see a contradiction in her own beliefs. She considered herself a “good person,” but that raised a question she couldn’t answer – where does morality come from, if not from God?  

“Why is something right or wrong? Why do I believe in human rights? I don't believe in a God, so where are these things coming from? I had gone and asked all of these other people, and nobody had a good answer. And I just had this epiphany where I said, ‘I'm going to wait until college to explore those questions, when I can get into a good school.’ And that worked out pretty well, cause I got into Harvard.”  

There, she quickly discovered she was no longer at the top of the class.

“And so now,” Jordan explains, “being surrounded by people, with whom I'm no longer the smartest person in the room 95% of the time, it destroys that sense of identity and makes you wonder, ‘Who really am I? And what makes me valuable?’”

As Jordan began to question her worth, she became friends with Joseph Porter, a Christian conservative who gave her even more questions to think about.

She shares, “He really started pressing me on ‘Where does your morality come from? Why do you believe in it? You're saying it kind of emerges from nowhere?’ I started seeing these cracks in my own intellectual framework.”

Jordan enrolled into a meta-ethics class, hoping to find answers that would strengthen her argument. Instead, she was assigned a short reading assignment, an essay by C. S. Lewis.

She remembers, “Essentially, what C.S. Lewis says is, ‘God is goodness.’ God is the good and then our lives are good when we strive to imitate God. It was mind-blowing.”

Jordan wanted to explore this idea further, so she decided to read the Bible again. This time she would try to understand it, not critique it. And when she read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, she was struck by what he said about what it means to be “good.”

“As an atheist,” she says, “I was living life better according to a Christian ethic than a lot of Christians were. I wasn't sleeping around. I wasn't doing drugs, I wasn't drinking, I was a good student. So it was very easy for me to think of myself as a good person. It was only when I went back to the words of Jesus and I saw, ‘No, you're an angry person. You may not be sleeping around, but you experience lust. You are very arrogant, you think too highly of yourself.’ Seeing those things made me realize that I wasn't really a good person. Maybe there's some truth here that I haven't figured out yet. Maybe I don't know the best way to run my life.”
 
Jordan kept reading until she came to John 19.

I had finally made it to the crucifixion scene. And as I was reading it, I had this moment where I just said, "No, Aslan, no.”

For years, Jordan believed C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was just a story. But now as she read of Jesus’ crucifixion, she realized her favorite tale from Narnia was more than a work of fiction. Aslan the great lion of Lewis’ story was Jesus. And she was just like Edmond, arrogant but redeemed.

“It just immediately clicked like, ‘I am Edmund, Jesus is Aslan, and he is dying for my sake,’” Jordan shares. “Seeing it now with me in the story was a totally radically new way of looking at it, realizing my own sinfulness in that moment and my own need for healing from that sense made all the difference in how I read it. And so I started just crying, thinking about Aslan, but thinking about Jesus through that process. Realizing in that moment that you're Edmund is to realize like ‘I'm powerless. I need help.’ I recognized my own incurable need for forgiveness and that could only come from Jesus Christ.”  

Still that wasn’t enough to break Jordan’s deeply rooted need for intellectual evidence of God. So she poured over every scientific argument, analyzed every prominent religion, and all the evidence pointed her back to Jesus Christ.

According to Jordan, “One of the things that helped me the most to eliminate my pride was having to admit that I had been wrong all of those years as an atheist.”

Ultimately, it came down to a profound yet simple truth.

“As I thought about what love really was,” she explains, “I could see how Jesus' death on the cross was the perfect embodiment of that. God is love. And God is truth, so God is goodness. It was at that point when I realized, ‘If I want to try this Christianity business, I can't do it half-heartedly, I have to be fully committed.’”

On April 12, 2009, Jordan gave her life to Jesus. Since then, she has grown even stronger in her faith. She graduated from Harvard in 2012, recently married, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. But she says none of that determines her value.

"’What is man that thou art mindful of him?’” She asks, “What am I that I have value?’ So long my value had come from the things that I had done, so moving to a framework where instead the reason I knew I was valuable was because Christ had died for me, that he loved me regardless of what I would ever do, it's immensely freeing.”

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