Favorite atheist thinkers? Bertrand Russell, Nathaniel Branden, Fred Hoyle, Jack Trevors, TJ Rodgers.
That said, have any of you met anyone who said, “once I stopped believing in God, I cleaned up my life and became a better person”? Yet I know of many who left their old life after becoming Christians. A pastor of church I once attended was an atheist drug dealer. His name was Lon Solomon:
Lon’s life became a relentless search for meaning and purpose. He sought to fill the void he felt on the inside with fraternity life, partying, gambling, and he even developed a serious drinking problem. When all this failed to supply the inner peace he was seeking, Lon became deeply involved in drugs, both as a user and a distributor. He turned to “spiritual” things at this point, diving into psychedelics, Eastern religions and even attempting a return to mainstream Judaism. But all this failed to resolve his inner turmoil, and he decided that suicide was the only reasonable way out. It was at this time that Lon met a street evangelist in Chapel Hill who began to talk to him about Jesus Christ. God worked powerfully through months of interaction with this man, resulting in Lon’s decision to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and Messiah in the spring of 1971.
Lon is a marvelous example of God’s transforming power in action. Subsequent to his decision to accept Christ, Lon was able to quit the drug and alcohol abuse that had plagued his life for years. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Chemistry (1971). He then completed a Th.M. degree in Hebrew and Old Testament at Capital Bible Seminary (1975, summa cum laude). He completed graduate work at Johns Hopkins University, receiving a Masters Degree in Near Eastern Studies in 1979. He taught Hebrew and Old Testament at Capital Bible Seminary from 1975-1980. In 1980, Lon became the senior pastor at McLean Bible Church. He received a Doctorate of Divinity degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005.
Lon has encouraged many in his congregation, myself included, to reject Darwinism. I attended his church a few years before I began researching ID.
Here is another story, from Wiki on professional poker player Doyle Brunson:
Brunson met his future wife, Louise, in 1960 and married her in August 1962. Louise became pregnant, but later that year, a tumor was discovered in Doyle’s neck. When it was operated on, the surgeons found that the cancer had spread and declared it incurable. They felt that an operation would prolong his life long enough for him to see the birth of the baby, so they went ahead with it. After the operation, no trace of the cancer could be found. The doctors said that his recovery must have been a miracle, and Brunson has attributed his cure to the prayers of friends of his wife and their correspondence with Kathryn Kuhlman, a self-proclaimed Christian faith healer. Louise developed a tumor shortly afterwards and, when she went for surgery, her tumor was also found to have disappeared. In 1975, their daughter Doyla was diagnosed with scoliosis, yet her spine straightened completely within three months.
Doyla died at 18 when she took too much potassium for a heart-valve condition. Over the following year, Brunson read Christian literature and converted to Christianity.
His son, Todd, also plays poker professionally. Todd has won a bracelet in Omaha Hi-Lo at the 2005 WSOP, making the Brunsons the first father-son combination to win World Series bracelets. His daughter Pamela played in the 2007 World Series of Poker and 2009 World Series of Poker main events, outlasting both Doyle and Todd both times.
Miracle or unexplained natural cause for healing in the Brunson family? Suppose God did work a miracle, wouldn’t it be unwise to offend Him by insisting it wasn’t a miracle when it was? I frame theological questions often gambling terms. “If you’re an atheist and you’re wrong, you have more to lose than being a Christian who is wrong.”
And then there is this mobster turned Christian:
Just a few years ago, mafia boss, Michael Franzese was named one of the biggest money earners the mob had seen since Al Capone, by Vanity Fair. At the age of 35, Fortune Magazine listed him as number 18 on its list of the “Fifty Most Wealthy and Powerful Mafia Bosses”, just 5 behind John Gotti. Avoiding traditional mob domains, Michael masterminded brilliant scams on the edge of the legitimate business world. From auto dealerships and union kickbacks, to financial services and the sports and entertainment industries, to a multi-billion dollar gasoline tax scheme, he earned millions in cash every week at his peak. Not surprisingly, Michael quickly became the target of Manhattan’s famed federal prosecutor, Rudy Guiliani. After promising Michael 100 years behind bars after indicting him on racketeering charges, Rudy only came up empty handed. Escaping four more indictments, it seemed Michael Franzese truly was invincible.
While producing Knights of the City, a break dance movie filmed in Florida, Michael met a beautiful dancer from Anaheim, California, named Camille Garcia, whose innocent beauty turned his world upside down. After falling in love and eventually marrying Cammy, she convinced Michael to take the rap on racketeering charges. Michael pled guilty, accepted a 10 year prison sentence and vowed to do the unthinkable – walk away from the mob. Nobody of Franzese’s rank had ever just walked away – and lived. Until now.
Michael Franzese is the only high ranking official of a major crime family to ever walk away, without protective custodies, and survive.
He is now a man on a mission. Determined to use the compelling experiences of his former life for the benefit of corporate executives, professional and student athletes, at-risk youth, church audiences, and for anyone seeking the inspiration to beat the odds and make positive changes in their lives, he has become a highly regarded motivator and a source of invaluable information. Franzese candidly describes how he survived dozens of grand jury appearances, 5 major racketeering indictments, 5 criminal trials, 7 years in prison and a Mafia death sentence. He tells how he engaged bankers, corporate executives, union officials and professional and student athletes in a wide variety of financial scams. His open and honest presentations are fresh and unique. Audiences are captivated by stories of his personal experiences in organized crime and genuinely affected by his powerful anti-crime messages and eye opening revelations.
His autobiography, Blood Covenant, Michael reveals answers to many mysteries surrounding his incredible journey. Walk the streets with him to find out how he has done what no one else has managed to do.
His newest book, I’ll Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse, was just released by Thomas Nelson, and contains insider business tips from the former mob boss.
Speaking of mobsters, how about mobster movies? Do I have a favorite? The family friendly version (with all the vulgarity and graphic violence edited out for TV presentation) of the movie Casino starring Robert DiNiro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci.
Favorite quote from the movie:
When you love someone, you’ve gotta trust them. There’s no other way. You’ve got to give them the key to everything that’s yours. Otherwise, what’s the point? And for a while, I believed, that’s the kind of love I had.
But more than mobster movies, I like documentaries about criminal master minds which I used to see on CNBC. 🙂 One of my favorite episodes was about this drug smuggler:
Luytjes was a brilliant aviation mechanic and engineer, and pretty decent pilot. I suppose if I didn’t fear God, and I didn’t fear spending nights in jail with the boys, and if the enterprise were ethical, I’d probably want to be like Rik because he was so ingenious.
Favorite video games? I like an old one known as X-wing vs TIE Fighter flight school.
So, speak your mind but exercise some discretion, keep it family friendly, and try not to start flame wars or launch into attacks against other UD participants. Other than that, talk about what you want. Enjoy!