“Smart people don’t become Christians,” Holly Ordway, a college professor, thought when she was an atheist.
However, a student in Biola’s Christian Apologetics graduate program showed her otherwise. Josh Runyan, and his wife, Heidi, modeled winsome Christian kindness and care along with intellectual attentiveness to Ordway’s questions, obstacles and curiosities about God, Christianity and life.
In her recently published book, Not God’s Type: A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith (Moody Publishers, 2010), Ordway, now a graduate student in Biola’s graduate apologetics program, presents a compelling account of her journey from atheism to becoming a disciple of Jesus.
“It is a hard thing to look at the truth when it runs contrary to what you’ve always believed,” writes Ordway about the atheism of her youth and 20s. “I was not looking for God. Make no mistake. I did not believe that He existed. I was a college professor — logical, intellectual, rational — and an atheist.”
What happened? Fundamentally, a change in her worldview began to occur at age 31 along with a struggle in her own will.
“I was drawn, against my conscious will, and against my own inclination, to be interested in matters of faith,” Ordway writes.
Nonetheless, “My naturalistic worldview was inadequate to explain the nature of reality in a coherent way: it could not explain the origin of the universe, nor could it explain morality,” Ordway says.
On the other hand, she came to acknowledge, “the theistic worldview was both consistent and powerfully explanatory: it offered a convincing, rationally consistent, and logical explanation for everything that the naturalistic worldview explained plus all the things that the naturalistic worldview couldn’t.”
With the care, direction and support of the Runyans, Ordway also came to realize the pride that was at root of her atheism, she writes.
“At the heart of atheism is an appealing premise: ‘My will be done, not Yours.’ If atheism is true, and there is no God, then everything really is all about me, and what I want, and what I can get,” she recently blogged. “No wonder it strikes such a chord in our self-obsessed culture.”
As a result of her extensive conversations with Josh, Ordway was exposed to the writings of Biola associated authors like J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, and Gary Habermas. These writers were indispensible to her acquaintance with and exposure to a thoughtful Christianity that has been deeply formational to her well-being.
As Ordway recently notes in a video interview, Biola’s Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics (MACA) program has encouraged her “to serve Christ with both head and heart.”
Being a distance student in the MACA program has afforded Ordway the opportunity to remain a Professor of English and literature at a San Diego-area community college without uprooting her to do a second M.A.
As a person who works with texts and helps others appreciate their meaning, she has been challenged and enthused by how much the program offers a direct experience with many primary philosophy and apologetic texts instead of mere secondary source reporting about them, she says.
Since the release of Not God’s Type, marketing and publicity from Moody Publishers has advertised her book in association with didactic critiques of atheism, including well-known philosopher James Spiegel’s latest 2010 book, The Making of an Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief. The pairing suggests similar positioning of titles and an indication of a market demand for critiques of atheism available through different genres and approaches.
She continues to write, especially publically at her own blog, Hieropraxis, and at ConversantLife.com. She is currently working on her next two books — one will seek to offer “an argument for objective truth (that it exists, and that it is knowable, and worth knowing),” which she credits as being inspired by the ethics class of Biola professor Scott Smith. Her other book project will extend the story of her journey into a discussion on her sanctification and discipleship, crediting Biola professor J.P. Moreland for its inspiration.
Learn more about Ordway’s story at her Website. She received her M.A. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts Amherst. She regularly lectures in the Sunday adult forum at her church, St. Michael’s by-the-Sea in Carlsbad, Calif.
Read our extended and exclusive interview with Holly.
Written by Joseph Gorra, Christian Apologetics. Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna [dot] l [dot] bartlo [at] biola [dot] edu.