Author of atheist blog announces she will become Catholic

Unequally Yoked Blog CNA US Catholic News 6 19 12 A screenshot of Leah Libresco's last post on the Patheos atheist portal.

Blogger Leah Libresco, known for writing about ethics and religion from her perspective as an atheist, announced June 18 that she now believes in God and intends to enter the Catholic Church.

"For several years, a lot of my friends have been telling me I had an inconsistent and unsustainable philosophy," the Washington, D.C.-based author of the "Unequally Yoked" blog wrote in a post announcing her intention to convert.

The 22-year-old Yale graduate says she came to believe "that the Moral Law wasn't just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth. And there was one religion that seemed like the most promising way to reach back to that living Truth."

"When I was talking to a post-modernist friend afterwards," Libresco said to CNA on June 19, "I told him, 'I guess you were right. (The concept of) "Truth" was a gateway drug.'"

"He replied, not very much in jest: 'Told you so.'"

In recent years, the writer and researcher had – despite her atheism – developed an interest in Christian accounts of morality, developed by authors like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and Alasdair MacIntyre. Her blog, "Unequally Yoked," chronicled her engagement with Christian theological claims.

Raised in a non-religious household, Libresco explained in a biographical statement that she "met smart Christians for the first time" during college. She was "was ready to cross-examine them" from her perspective as an atheist, but found there were "some big gaps in my defense of my own positions."

"I realized I didn't have a clear enough idea of what Christianity entailed to be able to imagine a world where it was true. I felt embarrassed and told my friends to take their best shot at convincing me."

Through her blog, the atheist thinker looked to test her arguments against belief, seeking out "people to ask me tough questions and force me to burn off the dross in my philosophy."

The odyssey was personal as well as philosophical, involving a romantic relationship with "one of these smart Christians."

"I talked with deacons, priests, and Dominicans and attended RCIA classes – until I got kicked out," she wrote in the biographical statement, composed before her conversion.

"Neither my boyfriend or I looked likely to switch teams in the near future, and, after two years of dating, we were at the point where a relationship that was incompatible with marriage seemed foolish, so, regretfully, we had to split up."

But she continued "seriously exploring Christian claims," in light of her own belief in philosophical concepts including objective morality. Her blog featured a "test" in which atheists and Christians swapped roles, composing answers to questions from the perspective of the opposing worldview.

Libresco's atheism finally ended after a recent Yale alumni debate, where a friend "prodded me on where I thought moral law came from in my metaphysics."

"I talked about morality as though it were some kind of Platonic form, remote from the plane that humans existed on. He wanted to know where the connection was."

Pressed to define the connection between humanity and the moral order, Libresco came up short: "I don't know. I've got nothing." Then she remarked: "I guess Morality just loves me or something."

In Monday's blog entry, the "Unequally Yoked" author said her writings, hosted by the Patheos website, would move from the service's "atheist channel" to its "Catholic channel."

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Libresco said she had been using the Church's Liturgy of the Hours, as well as the ancient "Breastplate of Saint Patrick," for most of her "prayer attempts." Despite lingering "confusion" about some Catholic teachings, Libresco has begun RCIA classes at a Washington, D.C. parish.

The former atheist summed up her feelings about her announcement with a quotation from Tom Stoppard's play "Arcadia": "It's the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong."

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