How actor Kirk Cameron lost his atheism

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By Mark Ellis

Kirk Cameron at Emmy's, 1989
Kirk Cameron at Emmy’s, 1989

At age 17 he had it all. As Mike Seaver on the hit TV show Growing Pains, he became a teen heartthrob and was making $50,000 a week. Magazines like Tiger Beat featured him regularly on their covers.  He traveled the world meeting famous people.

But in his pursuit of a young woman’s affections, the girl’s father made it clear that amid all his youthful fame and success, there was one thing he lacked – God.

“There’s still something you don’t have, Kirk,” the man told a surprised Cameron. “You don’t have the Lord.”

“I don’t believe in God and that’s not something I’m interested in,” he informed the dad, matter-of-factly. Cameron considered himself a “staunch” atheist, too intelligent to believe in fairytales.

When the girl’s family invited him to attend church with them later, he went reluctantly. “I only went because the girl was really cute and I wanted to get to know her,” he admits.

Sitting in a church pew for the first time brought an unexpected reaction. “This man stood up there with a Bible, which I thought was a dusty old book designed to take the fun out of your life,” he recounts.

But the message grabbed Cameron’s attention. “He explained that we were designed by God to know Him and love Him and obey Him and be in right relation with Him.”

“But something separates us from God and that ‘something’ He calls sin. Sin is the selfish streak that runs deep through the heart of every person.”

The pastor explained that sin manifests itself when people lie, steal, or dishonor their parents. It can show up when you put other things in your life in a more important position than God.

When he heard this last part, Cameron felt a sinking sensation in his heart. “I realized my dirty socks were more important to me than God.”

As the pastor continued, he clearly stated the ramifications of sin. “God hates sin not only because it separates us from Him, but because it’s wrong. God will punish sin and those who commit sin in a place called hell.”

That seems really harsh, Cameron thought to himself.

But then the pastor offered good news, a way out of this dilemma. “God is also loving and compassionate and He’s provided a way to be forgiven by sending His Son Jesus to die on a cross.

“Jesus died to pay the price for our sins. If we humble ourselves and turn from our sins and trust in what Jesus did, God will grant us forgiveness and everlasting life. He did this because of His great love for us.”

As Cameron sat in the back of the church, a wave of guilt swept over him. “I knew I had sinned against God,” he admitted. At the same time, the first pale gleams of faith stirred his soul.

“My heart was swelling with hope that that this amazing God who sees my sinful heart would be compassionate enough to take my punishment for me and forgive me.”

Questions were swirling in Cameron’s mind when he took his girlfriend home. Where did we come from? he wondered to himself.  Where are we going when we die? Is there really a God in heaven?

“I didn’t know what to say to my friend’s father,” he says, but he began to pepper him with questions. “I asked him about the Bible. I asked him for answers and he gave me intelligent answers.”

Then one rejoinder stopped Cameron in his tracks. “Kirk, there’s one question you need to ask God Himself – whether or not He’s real.”

How am I supposed to do that? he wondered.

Over the next few weeks, Cameron began to read the Bible for the first time. He also went back to church a few more times.

Then he found himself alone in his sports car, parked by the side of the road. An unsettling issue dogged his thoughts. If I get in a car accident and die tonight, will I go to heaven?

He realized the answer was no. He had ignored God his entire life; he put everything else in his life in a more important position than God.

“I sinned against Him, even knowing the thing I had done were wrong because I thought I could get away with it. I knew God saw it all and there was no reason He should let me into heaven.”

For the first time in his life, Cameron bowed his head and prayed a brief prayer. “God, if you’re there, I need to know. If you’re real, would you please show me? Would you please forgive me for my pride and arrogance? Change me into the person you want me to be.”

Cameron slowly opened his eyes and felt a newfound sense of hope and expectation. “It wasn’t like a gust of wind blew through my window or I saw Jesus on my windshield, but I had a very real sense God heard me. I felt He was listening to me, that He is real.”

Cameron felt so good he went home and told a Christian friend about his experience. He began to read the Bible regularly.

“I started learning about this amazing God,” Cameron exults. “He’s not a big bad cop in the sky waiting to punish people,” he says. “He is a holy, just and righteous God who wants us to turn from our sins so we can be forgiven. It’s an amazing story of love.”

“That’s the God I have fallen in love with and live for. Of all the things I’ve done, nothing compares with the joy of knowing Jesus Christ.”

 

Do you want to know God personally? Here are four steps

19 COMMENTS

  1. He was an atheist because he was a spoiled brat, and loved his hedonism. He knew there was a deity and didn’t have a problem denying him. And now we find he became a Christian because he wanted (a girl).

    I am so not surprised. It doesn’t seem like he puts any real effort into his thinking.

    If you were to ask Cameron what he found so convincing about atheism, he would have said, “I like to party!” That’s it. That’s the extent of his secular studies, that’s the whole reasoning that it took for him to become a hedonist. An “implicit” atheist as opposed to an “explicit” atheist.

    And this is why when Cameron attacks atheism the secular community laughs at him. It is because he is attacking the strawman atheist life that he lived before someone smarter came along to argue him into a different position. If that pretty girl had been from a different religion, Cameron might now be a Scientologist, or a Mooney, or Islamic.

    He didn’t use any mental effort to become an atheist, so it didn’t take any mental effort for him to leave atheism.

    • Wow. Just…wow.

      All I see is a person complaining about how God swept the heart of a pagan into his hands and made him His own. It doesnt matter what he used to be or how he used to think, or anything like that, for we have ALL sinned and fallen short of the glory. Heck, I used to do and think FAR worse than Kirk. Hey, God saved me and opened my eyes by me actually watching this random youtube video that scared the living daylights out of me. And to top it off, the video, which had 15 parts ended up being a ploy to get people to believe Allah. Yet, I was scared out of my lifestyle into reading the bible, and getting back to my own roots of believeing that Jesus is the true Messiah and Lord my God. If God wants to use a girl to lead Kirk to church, so be it, for God’s ways and thoughts are higher than yours, they are higher than everybody’s. God bless Kirk for continuing to grow in the faith and actually pursue the purpose that God had placed in him from the beginning of the world. Hey, the word he heard was sprinkled on good soil, and sprang up to grow fruit, instead of being choked out by the world, or like you said, by superficial feelings. Kirk is actually a mature christian now, and it’s all because God can do anything he wants. He is sovereign, he is powerful, He is true. Nothing is impossible for him, and I am happy God can use anything to save people, His providential will that takes into account people’s weak human wills, lusts, their sins, and their mistakes, and he can turn it around for good. God’s power knows no bounds. So, back to your comment. Do you truly believe that God can do anything, use any event, use anyone, or do you think He has to depend on people just being their normal sinful, weak self. Do you believe that God is in control, or do you believe it depends on how people act, respond, what mistakes they do, or the thoughts and motives they have. I am so immensely relieved God doesn’t depend on my motives or mistakes or weaknesses to turn an outcome, because if He did I would be long gone.

      • My point being, of course, that when people claim that they, “used to be an atheist, just like you” – as both Cameron and Comfort have stated – they are usually wrong.

        They didn’t reason themselves into atheism, and so – as demonstrated – it didn’t require reasoning to become a Christian.

        As you have also said, you didn’t become a Christian because of reasoning or critical thinking. You did so from a religious horror video that scared you into it.

        All you see is me complaining? All I see are vapid motives and a lack of evidence.

        • It is not possible to reason into atheism, at least not soundly. Some atheists are just honest about the real reason they are, and generally former atheists will be too, while many current atheists, having no absolute moral foundation to say that lying is wrong, are willing to misrepresent themselves as rational. Because doing so makes your sin seem even better; the ‘smart’ thing to do. At least that’s my understanding after having spent many years studying both/all sides and trying to find sound support for any view.

          Ironically sound reason is used by biblical believers, not atheists. Critical thinking, for example, is actually applied — even to ourselves. We are willing to be critical of ourselves, unlike atheists who seem to want to puff themselves up with pride. You have to at some point realize that you really are messed up, and really do need Yeshua’s salvation. And the Bible itself commands us in many places to think and reason. Atheists by contrast also have no moral need to do this; if you’re just a magical accident, why bother? It’s so much easier to just sin, and then simply -describe- what you do as reason (without actually reasoning).

          But I think the biggest problem is that you try to find the truth through antagonism. You hate one possible answer, and so that seems to justify your disagreement, in your mind. You have to attack anyone who once believed as you did but saw the light, and anyone else who disagrees with you, instead of calmly and politely explaining why, if we were wrong, we were.

          As for evidence, here’s just for starters:

          http://creation.com/age-of-the-earth

        • You seem to imply that reason is the end-all be-all of human existence and the only way to find the truth. And I’m assuming that is what you believe.

          The problem that creates for you is that becoming a Christian doesn’t require reason: it requires faith. That said, remaining a Christian and becoming more committed to Christianity DOES require reason. But, none of it will make sense without that initial step of faith.

          That said, atheism first requires a step of faith, too.

          Any hypothesis first requires faith, but you then use reason to determine if you were right. Personally, I only understand life better and more fully because of my relationship with God. Everything makes perfect sense.

          I don’t think you’re complaining at all. Of course it upsets you because it doesn’t make sense to you. I wish I could understand atheism better than I do. But to be honest, atheism is completely unreasonable to me. Reason only points me back to God, not away from.

          No reasoning or critical thinking could ever explain the things I understand because of a firm belief in God. There is a greater resource in you than your brain: it’s your heart. I know it seems that our hearts are unreliable because we simply think of emotions and how they change so easily. But a person’s heart is much more and much deeper than that. Our brains, however, are simply focused on surface facts, and reasoning can’t get to the heart of reality (pun intended).

          My evidence for God is in the life I’ve lived and the joy and clarity I have. My evidence grows moment-by-moment, as I see more truth to what I believe.

    • Grace would look much better on you, Calladus, instead of the cynicism and anger in your words. What difference does it make how he found Jesus except that Kirk found him and accepted him. Are you not thankful at all that he turned to Jesus?

  2. I have learned that, should have, would have and could have doesn’t mean anything because it didn’t happen. What happens to those who God calls is exactly what God wants to happen so He can save those who He has chosen to save. No matter how long you stay dumb, when your time comes God will call you and you will hear Him if you belong to Him. God made everyone but He has only chosen a few, so only those will hear Him, but no one knows who all the chosen are so we cannot judge each other to be or not be a child of God. Why a few? Because He knows exactly who will love Him forever!
    Kirk heard the voice of God in a man and recognized His spirit without even understanding why and how because Christ knows His sheep and they know Him. It’s that simple! Most creatures in the wild know the voice of their mother through every sound in the wild and they find each other from a simple call. The children of God know the sound of His voice and they harken towards His voice to find safety and love within this wilderness. Those who were not chosen by God, or have not been called YET, do not understand this simple concept of true everlasting love from the everlasting Almighty God in Christ Jesus. Bless Kirk, I love him so much that I cry every time I see him because he really shows his love for Christ in the face of all. Those who carry a heavy heart because of their sins against God always work so hard to prove their love to Him and we all benefit so much from their devotion and dedication to prove their love.
    Kirk Cameron I love you sooooooo Much!!! My brother forever.

  3. How insecure is your all-powerful, all-knowing god that his biggest concern over you and your life is that you love and worship him? Why would that even matter to a supernatural being? Like most other things about religion, it makes no sense whatsoever.

    • The truth KarenRMM is that God is the only un-ending LIFE and he wants each one of us to share in the same by supplying our escape of the natural death we all will face. Death which we brought upon ourselves by choice, and so it must be by our choice again to escape it. He never has and never will force, or initiate against our unwillingness, his desire – that is true love.

    • God made rational creatures to know the truth and love the good. He Himself is the ultimate Truth and the supreme Goodness, and thus the source of all truth and goodness in His creation. It follows that He made us to know and love Himself supremely, not because He needs our love but because He loves us (which is to say, wills our good).

    • Actually it does make sense when you understand that God is not just some random vague “supernatural” being but specifically infinite existence — and by the way, existence HAS to be infinite, or there should be none at all. Being infinite, and also beyond-time, he must be entirely self-consistent, so everything that is one type of existence demands an equal and opposite state of existence.

      His infinite nature also means he will have something like multiple consciousnesses, which themselves must be entirely self-consistent; this is Love. Yet being love, he should desire beings who are opposite to him yet self-consistent; finite and within linear time, who must have freewill, etc.

      To brush this aside by slapping an insult on it is not rational; that’s nothing but an Ad Hominem fallacy. We would not exist unless God had this desire, so it -literally- makes no sense to complain about it. Calling it “insecure” is an appeal to pride; you apparently expose that you base your life on pridefulness; trying to see yourself as better than others. So you think God’s only motive, via projection, could be to make himself feel more proud, by getting worshipers. But God is Love; the opposite of pride. The appeal just doesn’t work; God wants worship out of genuine love for us, just like human lovers want their love to be reciprocated. Not out of some kind of insecurity!

      If we took your argument seriously, then people should walk around with their noses in the air insulting everybody else so that they feel more secure. Ironically it seems to me that it is thus your approach that is insecure… What an awful way to live!

    • God doesn’t need us, but he loves us so much that he gives us the choice to give up our sinful ways and turn to him. Sin is so bad that it caused us to be separated from God and we needed a bridge and Jesus was and is that bridge. He is perfect and sinless and we are not. And that’s what it took was Jesus death on the cross for us. We were given so many chances but the only way that we could get to God..the ONLY one who vould save us was and is Jesus. God is not insecure he just gave us free will and mankind didn’t care and took advantage of free will and he is giving us an option to except his perfect wonderful Son. It all makes since if you just pray for guidance:)

  4. Kirk Cameron was in no way a real atheist. He may claim that he was just because he said he did not believe in a God. In no way does this suggest that he had any contact with religion while growing up. I constantly hear how all these other people were just like me and did not believe but know they do. However, once I start asking them questions about their faith and what they believe now they quickly turn to someone that seems to be able to quote scriptures. Even then my questions are considered to be below them or so easily handled in their eyes but they don’t answer the questions presented to them and basically get frustrated because I am not fallen for the lines like I should I guess. Kirk Cameron put no research into religions or mythology(dead religions). He has fallen for Argument from Ignorance in explanations in Creationist thinking. Their is no evidence to support any God or Gods of any of the 37,000ish religions that have ever been known. The Christian Bible is filled with just as many contradictions as the Quran and The Book of Mormors.

    • Most of your reply is too vague to know what to say in response, but to the contradictions allegation, I have never found any that hold up to careful contextual analysis. Here’s a good series detailing the reasons to some popular claims:

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2008/09/29/contradictions-introduction

      Follow link on right side after reading the intro there for the list of the ones put up so far.

      And I haven’t looked into the Book of Mormon much but no, it is definitely not comparable to the Quran. For example, Mohammed thought that the Christian Trinity was the Father, Son, and Mary. An easily demonstrable falsehood. Nothing like this is ever found in the Bible. And BTW, my experience has largely been just about the opposite of what you describe; it’s the biblical Christians who had answers, while others, especially atheists, never do (not sound ones anyways; it helps to be a logician to be able to tell a bad argument from a good one).

      I’m sure you very well might have run into less informed Christians or ones that did make bad arguments. This definitely happens, but it would be a Hasty Generalization fallacy to assume that we’re all like that, or that that’s all there is to support the Bible. Also, if you are heavily indoctrinated in evolutionism for example you will tend to have trouble engaging with the sound support for the Bible on scientific issues, which will feel “silly” or whatnot to you when only viewed superficially but when you really dig into it, eventually you see that it’s sound.

      Incidentally, note that your opening argument is self-refuting; to accept it we must think that it would be bad if people weren’t raised religiously, yet atheists are trying to stop just that, so Cameron was a product of the world you wish to make more universal… yet now you condemn in order to make your argument! So you’re in effect arguing that people SHOULD be raised with religion, which could include true religion and its sound support, which defeats belief in atheism, as Cameron himself points to. 🙂

  5. I’m sorry, but most atheists I know came to the conclusion that they are an atheist after much critical thought, the lack of evidence religion presents, internal (and external) debating, etc. All of this seems to happen over many many years, especially when one has grown up in religion.

    Now that may not be the case for all atheists, but most that I know, didn’t associate with this identity over night. If Cameron really was an atheist, he wouldn’t have been converted after one church service, if he had ever been converted at all.

    I am an atheist because I reject religion. I’ve heard all of the reasoning, and what Cameron listened to at the church service are basic Christian principals. Sin, hell, all of this is the premise behind scaring people into the faith. If he had done any research at all, before deciding he was an atheist, he certainly would have known this.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Kirk, most likely, didn’t associate with anything. Now that he is a Christian he can look back and think he was living as an atheist. It also gives Christians a tool and a spokesperson, that all atheist’s are “lost” and to follow in Kirk’s path. Sorry, atheist have heard all of this before. I’m certainly not falling for it.

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