Leaving unsound beliefs altered heartless criminal into loving father-of-four and Ph.D. philosopher
While fleeing police as a young thief Dr David Wood firmly decided that society had brainwashed him into doing what he was told, so ultimate freedom for him meant doing the opposite.
"As I stomped through someone's garden I had an incredible rush of freedom," David recalls.
Today, however, he no longer holds to his atheistic education and beliefs, explaining in a YouTube video Why I Am a Christian that he formerly thought "the universe couldn't conceivably care less whether you love your neighbour as yourself or tortured them to death for fun."
"Should [people] try not to hurt others because they have intrinsic value? Here I thought that human beings are nothing but machines propagating DNA."
This atheistic thinking led David to enrol in a chemistry degree to further his bomb-making knowledge before, at age 18, he decided to kill his father.
One night as his father slept, David sadly recalls, "I hit him with a hammer until I was sure he was dead. As I drove away, there was no rush of freedom. I didn't feel anything anymore."
Incredibly, his father survived with brain damage. David went to jail for the next five years.
As he sat in his cell listing people to brutally murder, David admits he began to lose his mind. He realised that according to atheism life "off the leash" of keeping social morals was just as meaningless as life "on the leash".
On the edge of mental insanity, he met a new cellmate named Randy, who had turned himself in for 21 felonies after becoming a born-again Christian.
Randy seemed like he was from another world. He prayed for fights – the inmates' entertainment – to stop. As they became firm friends, David derided and mocked Randy for his faith in Jesus but nothing could shake him.
"Randy had an annoying habit of questioning everything I said. I realised that many of my beliefs, when put into words, sounded really stupid," David adds.
When Randy fasted on water and cordial for many weeks, David secretly competed with him before he passed out one day and was sent to a suicide observation cell. There he searched for new arguments against Randy's faith by studying the Bible and philosophy books.
"Here I am, a rapidly deteriorating atheist," David continues, "I hadn't eaten in days and I read about Jesus saying, 'I am the bread of life, He who comes to me will never go hungry.'
"I am obsessed with liberating myself from a society that has me trapped in a six-by-eight-foot cell and I read, 'If the Son [Jesus] sets you free, you will be free indeed.'
"I am wondering how long my body can take what I am doing before my heart stops and I read, 'I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me will live even though he dies.'"
Lying on his back day after day due to severe shingles, David recalls that three things began to undermine his entire belief system.
"First, if someone told me that a wall of bricks was placed in order by some process that didn't involve intelligence I would smack them in the mouth. And yet I believed that an unimaginably complex living cell formed without intelligence?
"Why did I blindly accept the extraordinary claim that life spontaneously arose from non-life without demanding some very good evidence?"
Second, David discovered that many of Jesus' first disciples were put to death for their belief that they had visibly seen Jesus as the risen Son of God.
“For the first time ... I didn’t want to hurt anybody”"Usually somebody dies for an ideology they heard from somebody else. [Nothing] explained why they had that level of confidence [in Jesus' resurrection], other than they actually saw Him," David explains.
Third, David recognised it was illogical to think that he was the "best, most important person" if he was also a "worthless lump of cells". Furthermore, he realised, "a best person requires a standard of good, which requires something like God. And then someone like Jesus would be better than me."
David recalled a time when he choked a friend, and that he had not cared when his mother's partner beat her, then concluded he was actually "the worst person in the world".
He asked himself, "How is the worst person in the world ever going to do the right thing ...[and] care about other people?
"I realised that either I am violent, selfish and uncaring, or someone can help a psychologically, spiritually and morally shattered person like me. And I knew it was Jesus or nothing."
David prayed, "God I believe in you. If you can do anything with me you're welcome to do it", then asked for forgiveness and new life through Jesus.
When he sat up, David recalls finally feeling at rest from fighting God.
"The entire world looked different – like everything was a different colour. For the first time in a lot of years I didn't want to hurt anyone."
Now happily married with four kids, living in New York, David is a philosophy lecturer who publicly defends Christian philosophy in debates with religious scholars and atheists. •