As I've mentioned before, it is in humanity's best interest to pursue truth. This fact is so whether one is Christian or non. People tend be incredibly outspoken after they realize they were wrong and then convert to an opposite mindset or belief system. Consider these radical conversions from an impartial point of view. Bear in mind that I am Christian and I don't assent to any particular denomination, though I'm not Catholic.
Dan Barker--In his book godless, Mr. Barker talks about his old life as an evangelical minister and musician. His conversion to full-fledged atheism began with a statement from some visitors to his church saying how they didn't believe in the literal existence of Adam and Eve. After hearing this, he began studying other religions and philosophies and decided that, not only does God not exist but Jesus was only a mythological character. He left behind his old life and is now married to the daughter of the founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Wisconsin. He says that he thought he knew and interacted with God but realized it was all in his head, a figment of his imagination. He's still a musician.
Antony Flew--His book There is A God chronicles his conversion from ardent atheist to open-minded deist. He's not entirely convinced by religion in general and Christianity in particular. He does, however, provide an appendix (one of two in his book) where he dialogues on the merits of Christianity with N. T. Wright, a prominent author and Christian scholar. Many of the arguments bandied about by the current generation of atheists are founded upon Flew's early work. Richard Dawkins (Catholic as a child) pays homage to Flew and his decision to believe by saying it was fear of death that caused a weakening in his lack of faith. Where's the respect? Tony Flew passed away in 2010.
Scott Hahn--He's arguably the nation's fiercest Catholic apologist. In their book Rome Sweet Home, he and his wife Kimberly describe the tumultuous years during which Scott converted from dyed in the wool Protestant (baptized Presbyterian) to Catholic, bringing his wife along despite her misgivings and reservations. It's interesting to me that they retained their belief in God but added to it many things that they'd previously shunned and condemned as heretical. Not one time in their book do they use assertive language when referring to how God led them from one camp into another. He seeks to qualify his decision by saying the evidence that led him to his awakening was either totally God or totally the devil. One or the other. Vacillation.
Lee Strobel—A former journalist--and former atheist--Mr. Strobel set out to disprove, or at the very least, question Christianity with a journalist's objectivity. His book The Case for Christ tells the story. All of his arguments were countered and the reality of God, Jesus and the Bible were--to his mind and heart--substantiated. I haven't yet read his book but it's on my list (my ever-expanding, mile-long list of unread books). I should point out that his wife was already a believer during his time of searching.
As a believer, I'm intrigued by these stories. At least they want to know how things are. I don't agree with all of the decisions made and would love to sit down and talk with any and every one of these gentlemen. I'm reminded of the simple declaration of faith made to Jesus when a desperate father told the Lord through his tears and desperation, "I believe!" He then added, "help Thou my unbelief!" This man was in need so Jesus met him where he was and helped his son. (See Mark 9:14-29)
"Jesus saith unto her, Said I not to thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)
May God help our unbelief in whatever form or direction it takes.