Home » Atheism, Mind, News » Successful physicist (and Wall Streeter) explains how he stopped being an atheist

Successful physicist (and Wall Streeter) explains how he stopped being an atheist

No, not for any of the reasons you think. It’s not so much that he found God, but rather, he found what Jesus finds:

The people who challenged my atheism most weren’t priests, but homeless addicts and prostitutes.

Anyone familiar with down-and-outers will recognize the scenes he describes. Because—contrary to what materialists claim—desperation brings out the animal in some but the stifled saint in others. Call it the refiner’s fire at work if you like.

And there’s this too: When the physicist was a rising young ass working a summer job with laborers,

Preacher Man would question me, “What do you believe in?” I would decline to engage, out of politeness. He pressed me. Finally I broke,

I am an atheist. I don’t believe in a God. I don’t think the world is only 5,000 years old, I don’t think Cain and Abel married their sisters!

Preacher Man’s eyes narrowed. He pointed at me, “You are an APE-IEST. An APE-IEST. You going to lead a life of sin and end in hell.”

He has that preacher and the down-and-outers he later encountered to thank if he doesn’t.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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8 Responses to Successful physicist (and Wall Streeter) explains how he stopped being an atheist

  1. Thank you, News and Stephanie West Allen. You just saved me the task of trying to insinuate the same article in a probably inappropriate thread.

  2. From Arnade’s bio at the Guardian:

    Chris Arnade received his PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1992. He spent the next 20 years working as a trader on Wall Street.

    Studied physics at JHU and then became a financeer and questions atheism. What’s there not to like? :-)

    It is surprising that Arnade hasn’t become completely cynical about the world. One would think looking at the destitution in the world, that one might conclude there is no God, that compassion is a waste of time. Heartwarming to see some people still have souls and consciences in Wall Street.

    Hard as it may be to believe, but Wall Street used to be a focal point of Christian belief because there were economic crises that drove many wall streeters to their knees. That’s why Wall Street is one of the few major institutions on the planet to close for business on Easter and Passover.

    the tradition, wherever it started, and however curious, has some logic to it. For one, it likely came from a lack of demand for trading on what was a high holiday in the exchange’s early days. Robert Bruner, a historian, explains to Bloomberg that there was likely insufficient demand for trading on a day like Good Friday, with so many traders at church.

    There is an old saying, “what’s the difference between praying in church and praying in a casino? When you pray in a casino, you really mean it!” Same could be said of being a trader in the financial industry. You’ll find yourself praying a lot. :-)

  3. Very funny, but doubtless, true!

  4. I think it’s true of most fields where the competition is fierce, such as sports, for example. In fact the icon of super-salesmen, Dale Carnegie, I believe, recommended in his famous tome, that salesmen should ‘cast their bread upon the waters’, as it paid off.

  5. Just as a clarification – I don’t *think* the author ever stopped being an atheist. He just started seeing it for what it was – a luxury for the wealthy and well-off. This is probably why Jesus said it was so hard for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God.

  6. While I understand what he is saying, there is also the side that you can’t create truth or reality in your mind. Sure, their faith supports them, but they could probably find that same support in any god they choose to believe in. So while their faith is great, it says nothing about whether what they believe in is true.

    I’m a Christian so I’m not speaking as an atheist here. I just think that we need to be sure to understand that.

    I do agree though with this guy’s premise – Who is he to tell them that their hope is wrong? If atheism is true, then let them be deceived and happy because they need that hope to get through life!

    This idea though kind of contributes to the stereotype that faith is only for those that “need” it, for weak people who can’t make it on their own, for sinners who need to find some sense of forgiveness, etc.

    I disagree with that. As Christians we believe that the Bible is God’s Word, that it is reliable in what it says not only about this world, but about the next world as well. It is not just a pie in the sky faith, but one that is grounded in historical reality.

    I too wonder with johnnyb whether this guy ever really stopped being an atheist. He just realized that he shouldn’t take away the hope of those who are believers.

    At least he is taking a step in the right direction. He has a lot of steps yet to take, but it’s a start!

  7. Tjguy -

    I think the two things I appreciated were the fact that (a) the need for God is felt strongly by ordinary people, and that (b) at the very least the people professing belief think that God is doing something worthwhile in their lives. Atheists often look at “belief” as an inert epiphenomenon, but it is much harder to disregard if it is built into the soul of man and performs a necessary function.

  8. Inspirational!

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