Researcher Jana Harmon shares the fascinating story of how atheist Kyle Keltz began his journey towards Christianity while on guard duty in the Middle East

Why do atheists become atheists? There are as many answers to that question as there are atheists. Every sceptic has a reason, or more likely, every sceptic has several reasons for rejecting God. It’s often believed by atheists that there is no evidence for God, that science has the answers and there is no need for religion. It’s not convincing. 

Or perhaps the Bible doesn’t give a very good picture of God, especially in the Old Testament. It’s not good. The religious people didn’t seem to have good answers for the hard questions. 

Besides that, it’s just not something that is even interesting or relevant, worth taking seriously except to dismiss. In fact, it’s not something desirable or attractive. For many, it’s the opposite. Life seems better without it. And the list goes on.

But what about when something happens that doesn’t seem to find good explanation in the natural world? What happens when it seems that there should be something more in life than atheism or naturalism offers, when a sense of personal emptiness begins to take root? That sense that “nothing really matters”, when points of tension arise intellectually, personally, existentially. It can cause someone one to begin to wonder, to search. Is there something more? Where do you begin to look? 

Competing explanatory worldviews are on the table, each providing explanations and answers. But how does someone decide which one is true? These are a few of the issues faced by former atheist Kyle Keltz in his journey from atheism to belief in God. 


Read more:

Hope in despair

From radical atheist to Christian

Death has lost its sting

Fighting against God


Questioning belief

Kyle’s story began in a Christian home in West Texas. When he was 8 years old, he decided to believe in Jesus so that he would “be with his family and go to heaven”, but his belief didn’t go much beyond that. As a teenager, he started questioning whether Christianity was true. By high school, he began to question everything, forming objections to the Bible, to the God of the Bible and to Christian teachings. 

No one seemed to be able to answer his hard questions. By 17, he rejected his childhood faith, claiming to be an atheist like most of his friends. After high school, he joined the Army and became a “staunch atheist”, proud to wear his dog tags that read “N/A” indicating he held to no religion. He knew what that meant, too, for his life. He recalled:

“I certainly had realised that, if God didn’t exist, which I didn’t think he did, that basically nothing mattered. And that if I died, nothing would happen. I would just cease to exist. And it’s funny, too, because you keep your living your life, and you keep going, and you have goals, but you tell yourself, ‘Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, but I’m going to do it anyway.’” 

Looking for something more

Over time, Kyle’s animosity turned to curiosity as he began to wonder if there was more to life than what he was experiencing. This internal tension caused him to begin an active search into religion. Not Christianity, but perhaps a form of spirituality that might hold answers to his felt dissatisfaction in life.

He began to pour through books on Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam and started leaning away from atheism towards agnosticism. He began his “search for truth” with as much neutrality as he could muster except for Christianity. He assumed the answers were not there. But as he investigated other religions, they didn’t seem to make sense of the world or of his own life. 

When he left the military to enter university, he started a study of the philosophy of religion. It was a turning point for him. 

Startling dreams

Kyle was also starting to experience palpable dreams where he would sense dark figures standing, talking in his room, but he felt paralyzed, unable to escape or respond. Once awake, the figures were no longer there. These strange “jarring” encounters also opened the possibility of a realm beyond the natural world. 

While serving in the National Guard, he was on deployment in the Middle East in the middle of the desert. Often alone on guard duty, he spent his time reading philosophy of religion. He came across a philosophical argument for God based upon the beginning of the Universe called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It caught him off guard, opening him to the possibility of more than he once thought:

“The argument says things that begin to exist have a cause. The Universe began to exist. Therefore, the Universe has a cause. I just could not come up with an answer to this idea that there had to be a beginning to space and time. I tried. I came up with a few solutions, but it was so interesting because I just couldn’t come up with a satisfying solution. And it really started to hit me that I thought that there was a beginning to the Universe, and if there was a beginning to the Universe, I thought obviously it would follow that there had to be a God who made it begin.” 

While he was intellectually wrestling with this argument, he encountered another strange experience in the guard tower. He recalled:

“I thought I was just sitting there watching everything and I started to hear someone come up this ladder. They were metallic, so it was a very distinct noise that someone would make if they would climb up the ladder. It was a very common thing for someone to come up the ladder and see you. I hear someone come up. I don’t think much of it. But suddenly, when I could hear those footsteps and hands coming up that ladder to the top, this dark figure emerges. And then it stood there, and I couldn’t move, and then maybe a few seconds later I could move, and then it wasn’t there. And that’s really the point where I started thinking that maybe there was something to this.” 


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Coming to belief

The next day he found a Bible, read “the sinner’s prayer” and gave his life to Jesus. Everything had come together. Intellectually and philosophically, the Christian worldview gave the best explanation for the Universe and for his own life. Experientially, he intuited that there was something more than the natural world. 

The Judeo-Christian understanding of the spiritual world began to make sense to him. He became willing to search for truth. It was a slow process away from atheism and towards initial belief in God and Christianity. He continued his steady process towards discovering truth, eventually leaving his job to continue his study of theology, philosophy and apologetics at seminary. For him, the Christian worldview makes sense of all of reality. The evidence became so convincing that he asserted: 

“It would take more faith for me to be an atheist. I tell people if they dug up Jesus’ body tomorrow, and they were able to somehow conclude conclusively that Christianity is false, I still would be at least a theist. I’d be confused, but all the evidence for God’s existence, philosophical and scientific evidence that kind of helps confirm that. At this point, I’m so convinced that there is a God, and of course, with all this evidence for Jesus’ resurrection and all the evidence for the reliability of the Bible, I just think that Christianity stands alone as the true religion. And that everybody needs to take a good, hard look at their life and a good, hard look at the evidence and make a decision.”

Kyle has come a long way. In hindsight, when reflecting on his younger self as an unbeliever, he realised his earlier atheistic objections to Christianity were “straw man ideas”. He wonders how many people would find Christianity more compelling if they could look beyond their own misconceptions about it and find informed Christians to answer their questions. 

For those who are interested in reading about the evidence for God and Christianity, Kyle recommends William Lane Craig’s On Guard, Student’s Edition. For Kyle, it counters false, shallow presumptions that are often held against belief. In his view, the search is worthwhile.

If you’d like to listen to Kyle Keltz tell his full story, tune into the Side B Stories Episode 41, May 13, 2022. You can find it on the Side B Stories website at


Jana Harmon hosts the Side B Stories podcast where former atheists and sceptics talk about their turn from disbelief to belief in God and Christianity. She is a teaching fellow for the CS Lewis Institute of Atlanta and former adjunct professor in cultural apologetics at Biola University where she received an MA in Christian apologetics. Jana also holds a PhD in religion and theology from the University of Birmingham in England. Her research focused on religious conversion of atheists to Christianity and related book is entitled Atheists Finding God: Unlikely Stories of Conversions to Christianity in the Contemporary West.