Episode 32: Jon Noyes
Truth Came Crashing Through the Door
There may be errors in the transcript that veer from the original recording found at https://one80podcast.com/listen/
Ryan Henry: Ma’am we would appreciate it. If you never brought your son. From there, Jon Noyes kind of left. The abrupt comment made to Jon Noyes’ mom left a bad taste for organized religion in his mouth, a taste that went from frustration to full blown atheism.
But years later, a beautiful woman who came literally crashing through the screen door, changed everything. Jon began seriously contemplating his worldview and seeing that it didn’t stack up. And now he’s a Christian apologist with Stan to reason. Hear Jon’s story today on 180
So, Jon what is up, man? How are you today?
Jonathan Noyes: No man. I’m better than I deserve Ryan. Thanks for having me. I’m excited.
Ryan Henry: Yes. Awesome. I’m really excited to have you. I think your story is just incredible and I’m ready to like jump in, but before we get too far, I do have a random question to start with. So if you could have the original of anything in the world, what would you want it to be? And you have to assume that, you know, you can’t be allowed to sell it for a profit.
You just gotta enjoy simply having it.
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah. So the typical Christian answer should be the Bible, right? I’d love to have the apocrypha, the originals, and I wouldn’t be concerned about selling and I just give it away. Of course, like, I, I mean, it’s already readily available for us, but if you’re asking me personally, what I’d love is is I, I like music.
but I would love some like original recordings that maybe have never been released of my favorite bands. one of them is like dude, I love Pearl jam. I love sublime. Anything from those, two bands originals,
I’d be good with that.
Ryan Henry: Okay. That’s a great answer. Let’s jump into your story cuz there’s a lot there and let’s go back to the beginning and just talk to us like briefly about where you where you grew up.
Jonathan Noyes: Sure. So I grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It’s on the, uh, the south shore of Massachusetts, about 45 minutes outside of Boston, south. I had a, a really good childhood for the most part. I mean, uh, I come from a good home. Uh, it was your typical new England town it’s a beautiful place to grow up. I really enjoyed living there. it was good. But I live in Southern California now, and it’s absolutely gorgeous here every single day. And I’m like five miles from the beach.
Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. . sounds awesome. And you’re, you’re a coastal type of guy.
Jonathan Noyes: I love the ocean. Yeah. I’m an ocean guy.
Ryan Henry: That’s great. Well, talk to us about, your faith growing up.
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah, sure. So I would place myself in the nun’s category. Right? No faith at all. That’s the, that’s a newish category. But my family was, was there was no real religious talk. There was nothing about God, in my house, nobody ever discussed it.
Certainly. but I grew up in the Northeast and largely in the Northeast it’s culturally Catholic.
And that’s kind of like the path my parents did. My brother got his first communion. He may have been confirmed. I can’t remember. My sister got her first communion. well, they, my parents wanted me to get my first communion and, through the process, I’m like, uh, I’m an inquisitive person.
I’m a skeptic at heart still. I, I ask a lot of questions, inconsistencies don’t line up, uh, something, something doesn’t make sense to me. I’m gonna ask you about it and not just gonna let it go. Uh, so it seems to me like the, the priest maybe had enough of my questioning, and, and it’s these weren’t like totally innocent questions by the way.
Like, I need to be clear. I don’t place any blame on, on the people that were trying to teach me cuz I was not a good student. And so I’m just not placing that bed on them, but
Ryan Henry: yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: he had enough and I remember it clear as day. uh, I remember, him walking me out kind of grabbed me by the back of my collar actually.
And like was walking me. My mom pulled up, so they must have called her. And she pulls up in a, in a Ford station wagon. I remember like, like it was just a Ford station wagon and he opens the front door. He, he gently kind of places me inside. I buckle up and he leans in kind of the front window it’s open.
And he just says, Hey you, uh, Mrs. Noyes. Uh, we’ve had enough of your son. We’d appreciate if you don’t ever bring ’em back here. And, uh, and that’s kinda like what started my, my faith journey. Right? my, uh, it was my first memorable experience with anything religious.
I didn’t drift in the atheism because of this. Like I, I’m not placing the blame on them there, but when I think back on it, this is the first experience that I remember that kind put a taste in my mouth and it wasn’t a good one. but again, I kind of deserved what I was getting. Um, and that kind of led just, that just led to kind of a journey. You know, I, I, um, growing up through, you know, uh, through elementary school, middle school, and then, especially in high school, I started to really kind of question some of these things, worldview type stuff, you know, the, the holy cow questions is why I talk about it.
Like, uh, origin, purpose, meaning morality, destiny, these types of questions started brewing. And I’d ask my friends and no, terribly deep answers, you know? And then when I got to college, I went to American university in Washington, DC and studied criminal justice. So a lot of the, a lot of the classes were moral in nature.
I was studying the justice system, the courts, uh, uh, the, prisons stuff like this, uh, crime and punishment, all this policing. And during that time, uh, you know, I was exploring not just the world out there, you know, the, the, the typical college experience, right. I learned how to navigate the world, friends and all that stuff.
But I started exploring myself. I started exploring my worldview, my ideas, not just what I believe, but why I believe them. And when push came to shove through any number of events, you know, conversations, books, I read, uh, interactions. I had, it seemed pretty clear to me that that God didn’t exist.
And more than that, I would’ve said that the belief in God is dangerous, actually. That’s, I mean, that evolved after my, my college career. But I’ve said that I would’ve said teaching your children to believe in a fairy tale, a myth is dangerous because if you believe in God, you’d be, you you’re willing to believe in anything, you know?
And, um, and I just didn’t respect the worldview. Cause I didn’t see a robust intellectual side to it. I thought it was all, you know, you believe what you believe because it makes you feel better. It comforts you maybe in times of, of, of trouble. And that’s fantastic for you, but. It’s not really true. And when I say really true, it doesn’t actually reflect the way the world really is.
It doesn’t explain it.
Ryan Henry: Yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: So that’s like, that’s like my early growing up in a nutshell.
Ryan Henry: Yeah. Okay. So when you would talk to, a Christian, , how are you? Like, did you argue with them? Uh, just talk to us a little bit, like, pre Jesus, Jon
Jonathan Noyes: yeah, sure. So pre Jesus, Jon, I would’ve loved to I Ryan man, if I, if I found out you were Christian, I would’ve said, Hey Ryan, can I, you know, take, take you off for a drink and we get a cup of coffee and whatnot. And uh, we’d sit down and we’d get along. I mean, I was, I was a cordial person. I was nice. I was polite.
I, uh, somewhat well spoken, I think, uh, fairly educated. So I’d sit down and I’d want to have a conversation with you about your worldview and I’d, I’d start leaning into you and then I’d bring up stuff like, okay, so, so Ryan, I just wanna know. On what grounds do you feel it’s adequate to depart from the majority of the scientific community in denying that Darwinian evolution is a fact, like, I wanna know why, how, how is it then?
What authority do you believe? That kind of stuff. Wait, so, so Ryan, I would’ve said, Ryan, you believe in a good God, right? You believe he’s all powerful. He’s all good. He’s all loving. And he loves his people.
Ryan Henry: yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: Then why did my five year old cousin get leukemia? Like, why don’t you explain that to me and, and, and leave, and then leave your, leave your Bible out of it, by the way, because, because all it is is a bunch of, myths and, fairy tales.
I think there might be some decent principles in there, but those decent principles are reiterated in every other religion. And, uh, we don’t need your, your sky daddy to explain them. So I would’ve argued like that, and I would’ve looked for conversations. Um, you know, I, wasn’t just trying to destroy you, but in my mind, I was like, this guy doesn’t know anything about anything and I’m gonna kind of help him feel that.
Ryan Henry: yeah, yeah. Okay. And so what would they, what would the typical response be?
Jonathan Noyes: silence
Ryan Henry: Okay.
Jonathan Noyes: and, and that’s like, partially because it’s yeah, crickets man. Like that’s partially because of me, like, I own my part in this, like, I’m, I’m fairly aggressive. I still am. I, I mean, Jesus has taken some of that from me, but, uh, I like conflict. I’m one of those rare people who, who actually enjoys the fight.
I mean, my background is lost, so it’s like I worked in law firms, so it’s like, I just like the arguments and stuff. And um, so silence a lot of the time, you know, two things stick out in my mind and this is the way I usually categorize is one. Nobody could, a lot of times people could say what they believe, but not why they believe it.
When I was asking them for evidence. , they really didn’t have much evidence outside of their personal experiences, which I’m just not interested in. I mean now, I mean, I’m interested in now, but like when I was, when I was an atheist, it was basically akin to you saying your favorite flavors, ice cream, like this is my opinion.
And I’d say, well, great have your opinion, but you’re, but, but I’m looking for a, an objective truth, not subjective. Um, and the next is nobody even actually ever explained to me who Jesus really is never no, never was the gospel explicitly presented to me. And again, I’m, this is me. I’m a real, I I’m a steamroll.
I can, I can derail conversations with the best of them. So it’s not necessarily their fault, but I was operating under a really false, ultimate, ultimately a false assumption. Obviously my worldview is wrong, but, even a false, understanding of who Jesus. Even, even who Chris, what Christianity claims about Jesus.
I had a caricature, a straw man, and nobody ever, they kind of just like went along with it. And let me say what I wanted to say without offering any corrections. So to me that means they didn’t really know why they believe what they believe and maybe didn’t even know some serious stuff about what they believe, which I didn’t respect.
Ryan Henry: yeah, and, and you had mentioned, uh, this law firm, kind of taught you you’re good at, arguing and How else would you say that, that, you know, being in that prestigious law firm, did that have any other effect on your faith?
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah, sure. So, uh, the major effect that work in, I, I loved my career with, I was a paralegal at three, very, very good law firms. My first was in Washington, DC. We, general block, uh, we worked on a lot of appellate stuff. I, I filed the, Terry Schiavo brief. That was the original right to life case.
That was one of the cases I worked on. I worked on Napster. Like I worked on really amazing cases. The way that this influenced me though, is, uh, the majority, I would say the majority of the people there that I worked with were not Christian.
Ryan Henry: mm-hmm
Jonathan Noyes: and if they were, I didn’t know it, which kind of is a problem. Right. And then the Christians that I did know there were great people, but again, they could not explain why they believe what they believe as far as God goes, these are very smart people in general, but they can’t actually explain their, their worldview.
So it kind of led to a skepticism, , about, uh, the worldview, the worldview. And then, uh, then I moved to California, which will get to in a minute I’m sure. But, and then that’s when things started to change for me.
Ryan Henry: Yeah. Yeah. Well, take us to that. Talk to us about moving to California.
Jonathan Noyes: My story, it doesn’t start in Plymouth. It doesn’t start with, uh, with getting kicked out of that church. It starts with I met a girl, like all good stories start. it was my first night in California.
My bags were still in the back of my sister’s car. Uh, she, she was working out here. And I wanted to move. And I got a whim and I just said, you know what?
I’m done in DC. I want to move to Southern California and live the dream. So I packed up my stuff and I moved. And on that night, I was at a work party. My sister brought me to, with all her friends, her coworkers, and we were in a high rise in downtown Los Angeles, and I was out on the, the balcony just over just taking it in man, my first night in LA beautiful weather.
And, uh, just watching the lights, you know, the, the city skyline. And I remember sitting down on a bench there and then I’m looking into the apartment. So I’m facing into the apartment. The front door is over to the right, to the apartment and the door opens and this girl walks in man, and she is just something else.
Her name’s Rheanna. I’m married to her. Now. Sometimes I leave that out. Like whatever happened to Rheanna, you know,
I’m married to her, we have four daughters. It’s
amazing. But, uh, so, Rheanna walks in the front door. I had no idea who she was and she, uh, she just kind of takes over the room, you know, she’s electric.
And I remember this, wow. She is amazing. And then I had kind of a reputation. My sister had been talking about me saying, Hey, my brother might move out here. Uh, you, you gotta meet him. He is really fun. . And so then she kind of made a beeline to the balcony where I was sitting, cuz she wanted to talk to me.
And she walks pretty quick for a little girl she’s walking fast and she smacks, slams into the screen door and cuz the screen door was closed and this is amazing man. And then she fell on her bottom and she, she had her hands behind her. She flowing her hair back and she just let up the most amazing laugh I’ve ever heard.
And I remember at that moment thinking, oh man, this girl is incredible. I have to like, I have to get to know who she is. And I actually told her, I actually told her I loved her that night. and, and her boyfriend was right there.
Ryan Henry: Oh my gosh,
Jonathan Noyes: because that’s the kinda guy I was man. Like that’s the way I was. I was just bold and direct and I didn’t really, I, I didn’t care, you know?
Ryan Henry: He was right there?
Jonathan Noyes: Sitting right next to her.
Yeah. And uh, And I remember thinking like, Yeah. . Yeah, and I don’t recommend that, but, uh, but it worked, it, it worked man, like, uh, uh, maybe two months later we were dating and then our first Easter, like, so it was Easter and Easter. For me, remember, I’m an atheist man.
Like I don’t care about Easter. Easter means, bunny rabbits, uh, hidden eggs and candy. That’s at, that’s the extent. And I’m living in Southern California. And Rheanna is over. And my brother, my older brother sent me, uh, an email mocking Christianity, mocking Jesus mocking the holiday.
And I remember thinking it was the funniest thing in the planet. So I actually like showed it to Rheanna. Now this is before the iPhone and stuff. So I think I actually printed it out, showed it to Rheanna. And Rheanna did not think it was funny up until this point. I didn’t know that she was a Christian.
So on that Easter Sunday, our first Easter together. It was kind of like a coming out. Like she, she came out as a Christian and I remember thinking, oh, what have I done? Like now I’m dating this crazy Christian, you know? And then I used to lean into her man, like so hard in hindsight, she would say she, if she was here right now in this interview, she would say that the majority of the time, when she left from our dates, she left crying.
for two reasons, one, I was intense asking the questions and just tearing her worldview down. But also she knew that it, it couldn’t go anywhere. You know, I wasn’t a Christian, she had no business dating me. So, so if you’re listening to this guys or you’re watching this, this is not an excuse to go like missional dating.
Okay. That’s like a question that we always get when we’re together and present this. It wasn’t going well for her. And only by the grace of God, has it worked. and a lot of, a lot of work has been done too, because I did a good job of messing stuff up because of my
worldview. so, uh, like I started leaning into her, in her worldview asking the questions.
I just said, I’d say, Rheanna, are you kidding me? Like, I thought that you were smart. Like I thought that you were smart and you’re telling me that you believe in zombies. This is what I said to her. You believe in, in a man that was dead and then started walking around again, that’s a zombie. And that’s what you believe your book teaches you about zombies and you believe it.
Like, are you kidding me? Are you telling me, you really believe in Adam and Eve like Adam and Eve, right? You think that there are these two people, you know, God formed one out of dust and, and breathe life into him. Like this is ridiculous. Nobody believes this I’d bring up the same things. It’s the problem of evil, you know, the non-existence of an apparent God in the world, you know, where is God in, in the midst of all of this, this gnarliness She was, I mean, she still is amazing.
And she put up with me not only put up with me, but she would say that , she, she says that I’m her low point.
Ryan Henry: Ah, wow.
Jonathan Noyes: when I met her, yeah. Yeah.
And so one Sunday she asked if I wanted to go to church with her, I have done crazier things for the affections of a woman. So I said, sure, hang out with me Saturday. I’ll go anywhere with you on Sunday. Like, who cares? You’re on like, she’s fun. And then I was having a great time. So I went to this church and this is the first time I’d been to church first time since I got kicked out.
So it, it it’d been 20 years or close to it 15 years and it was a charismatic church so it was like typical charismatic stuff I remember walking into this place and going you, people are crazier than I thought you were
like, this is nuts, but the, but the thing is, is if I’m telling you the truth, man, the, the thing that sticks out in my mind is the people were real and they were kind of break in stereotypes.
You had, you had Christians, that number one were living their. they Were living their faith in all walks of life. They, there, there were producers of movies. There were, singers, there were construction workers. There were lawyers, there were doctors, there were secretaries, there were, there were stay-at-home moms.
There were, you know, trash truck drivers. Like, so basically what I was being for the first time ever, I was being exposed to the body of Christ and I realized these people are real and they’re cool. Like they’re not just these stuffy Christians, you know? So they were breaking the stereotype.
They put up with me. I, I made some really great friends. I’m still friends with a bunch of these young, well, they were young men at the time now were middle-aged. But, uh, they put up with my questions, but a pivotal moment happens. Rheanna not only wanted to go to church, but she wanted to become a member she went to the membership classes and I went with her cuz I wanted to hang out with her. So it was like three or four Sundays in or in a row after church, I think it was. Or maybe it was Saturdays. Uh, she went to these membership classes and I went basically just to kind of be a thorn in the side.
Right. I was asking my questions. I was digging in and, and I knew when to stop, like, they’d say, Hey, that’s enough for you, Jon. And I’d say, okay, no problem. but the final stage of the membership process at, at this church, uh, Morningstar is the name of the church. Uh, pastor Dave POIs. He’s, he’s still around.
I talk to him fairly regularly. He’s amazing. he wanted, you have to meet with the pastor and his wife to get offered membership. So you do the classes and then you get membership. If you, if you pass the interview. Right. And so we went Rheanna and I, and Rheanna shared her story. Her story is absolutely amazing.
Like it’s incredible And then, uh, they say, Hey, Jon, let, what about you. And I went into this meeting with a stack of papers and questions, and I was thinking in my mind, I was thinking, how awesome would it be if I deconverted this pastor, how awesome would it be if I debated this guy out of his, his Christian worldview?
So I had, in my mind that that’s like my notch on my atheist belt, it would be like the, the most amazing thing that happened. Well, that didn’t happen. But I asked a lot of questions. I, I, I dug into him and with everything I had and some of the questions he answered for me, a lot of the questions he’d be like, you know what, Jon, that’s a really great question.
I’m not really sure. I’ve never, I’ve never thought about that. And after about two hours or so. he had had enough and we, we stood up Our time was over and, uh, they, they, him and his wife, they hug Rheanna. They hug, her and say, Rheanna.
We’d love to offer you membership and, and welcome to the community. And then the best part of this whole thing is man, pastor Dave. He took my hand in his, he’s shaking my hand and he says, you know what, Jon, we have enough members right now. Thanks for coming, you know, and
Ryan Henry: That’s awesome.
Jonathan Noyes: totally denied me membership.
Right. And, and the thing is, is like, some people are like, oh my gosh. That’s like really harsh. Well, yeah, kind of, but not really. Like if he had offered me membership at that moment, I would’ve been like, this is all CRO. This is everything I thought it was,
this is a sham. All you want is you want my button, your seat, you want my buck and your coffer.
And that’s it. Like you care about my body and my money. Like just
presence. And so, so in my mind, this is happening. Well, then after he said this, he kind of turns me, he shifts me over to the left and, and to his bookshelf. And he pulls a book off the shelf and he hands it to me and he says, you know what, Jon, you had a lot of great questions.
A lot of them, I didn’t, I couldn’t answer, but I think you’ll find the beginning of some of those answers in this book. I took that book home and I read it cover to cover five times. And he was right. That book offered to me for the first time, an intellectual response to some of the questions I brought up.
And then at that same time, my future in-laws right. This is where God really, I mean, God’s been moving the whole time, of course, but this is where really God starts. He’s like, okay, it’s time.
Ryan Henry: Hmm.
Jonathan Noyes: Uh, my future in-laws they gave me my first Bible. Right. At the same time they gave me, it was a new Believer’s Bible.
I still have it. It’s right upstairs. edited by Greg Laurie, new living translation, really great Bible. It had cornerstones of the faith, you know, who is Jesus, who is Satan? What is sin? You know, uh, why the Trinity stuff like that. So I was learning really about what the world, the Christian worldview was according to the Christian worldview instead of strawmen and then at the same time.
So that was the, kind of the component with the word of God I had was having this encounter a direct encounter with the word of God. And it was softening my heart. And then at the same time, I, I was starting to dig into Christian apologetic, started with one book and then another, and then another and another.
And I wasn’t reading these guys just to learn how to defend the Christian worldview. I was really reading them to learn how to defeat the Christian world view, but it wasn’t working. And I thought so, so my intellect was being ministered to over here through Christian apologetics. My soul was being ministered through the word of God.
And when you combined those two things, I didn’t have a chance, so there were, there were, there were a number of things that led to, my, deconversion from atheism, from naturalism to Christianity. And, uh, one of them was, I remember sitting in my apartment in, in Hollywood, California. and I was looking at the resurrection.
There’s all of these events that happened in history that are agreed to. uh, secular scholars, just like they are Christian scholars. So everybody agrees. These things happened, empty tomb. you know, Jesus lived, Jesus died by crucifixion on their punches, pilot Jesus’ disciples had what they experience, what they expressed to be experiences with a dead man now alive.
that change dramatic change of these men, stuff like that. So I’m wrestling with this and I’m trying to come up with a naturalistic hypothesis to explain them all in light of each other. And I remember this is the moment. This is the moment I remember. I sit, I’m sitting on my couch and I’m thinking, oh man, it can’t be, God, it can’t be God.
Maybe it was aliens. And then right then and there, cuz cuz like we have no evidence for aliens. I mean, I’m sorry. We just don’t there’s no evidence for, I’m not against aliens. Fantastic. The aliens. Great. Uh, but there’s no evidence for them, not the kind of evidence at least that I’m looking for. So then I realized at that moment, in my mind, I realized if I’m willing to deposit aliens.
To explain this, I’m willing to say anything what’s really going on. Like, what is really going on in, in, in inside, like what’s really going on with, with my worldview that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to avoid the God hypothesis I’m willing to, to do whatever it takes
to avoid the existence of God.
And that was kind of like a relenting moment for me, where I was like, yeah, God, I got nothing for you, man. Like I’m yours.
Ryan Henry: Wow. Wow.
Kate Kavanaugh: Thanks for tuning in to 180. Stay for the sendoff where we feature artists. Take on the testimony shared on the show. Now back to Ryan.
Ryan Henry: Now, like what, um, atheistic, points were, were being shaken as you were reading the Bible, uh, and these books were there
Jonathan Noyes: yeah,
Ryan Henry: getting knocked out?
Jonathan Noyes: yeah, absolutely. So I call them bumps in the reality. Okay. I was, so what I was doing is I was trying to live out my naturalism as best as possible. I was trying to be consistent.
Right. Consistency has always been important to me. So as a naturalist, uh, certain things, were starting to not make sense. In reality, when I say reality, I mean, the way the world really is that which really exists. And one of them is, is stuff. Why is there something rather than nothing, these are these big, holy cow questions by the way, right?
Like why is there something rather than nothing? why am I so interested in stuff? And then where did it come from?
Where did everything come from specifically? Where did everything come from? and then on naturalism, I mean, I, I have big bang, but what . Where’d that come from? my naturalism wasn’t offering me any explanatory power in this, in this, in this realm, I was just wrestling through it, practically speaking my own life. So, so everything that begins to exist has a cause, right. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause. And then when I started thinking about that, I started trying to figure out, okay, well, what’s that cause look like, right?
So, so I agreed with the first, the first premise, I, most people agree with everything that begins to exist as a cause. Right? This is a fundamental fact of science. If this wasn’t true, things would just pop into and not of existence all the time. And we wouldn’t be able to do science because we wouldn’t be able to observe anything.
We wouldn’t be able to repeat anything in experiments because
things would just. You know, looking through a microscope or a telescope and just seeing galaxies appear outta nothing, you know, or driving down the freeway and having a cow pop in the, in front of your car. but this is that, but that’s not the world we live in.
this is one of the points of tension that came into my life. what does that cause look like? Well, that’s cause has certain attributes that, cause this is me as an atheist thinking this stuff, um, and, and confronted with, biblical text as well as, as apologetic stuff too.
So being influenced. But so that cause had had to be immensely powerful. That cause has to be creative. That cause has to be outside of space, time and matter, that cause it’s like an unbodied mind that cause looks an awful lot, like the G word and I was doing everything I could do to avoid that G word.
Like I said, you know, and, and then that led to that and the more of that questioning, well, what am I, you know, what am I trying to avoid this for? yeah, so then not only did I have the question I had the answer, where’d the, where’d the bang come from? Well, it’s the same as true for the big bang, right? The big bang, uh, needs a big banger is the way Greg Koukl says it, you know? Uh, it’s clear Yeah. Yeah. And what were, what were the next, next two bumps that you had?
Uh, the bump of, I call the bump a bad, it’s the bump that I raised as an atheist when debating my Christian friends all the time, it was as an atheist, this bump was my nail in God’s coffin right.
My coup de grace, so to speak. it’s the problem of evil and it’s, it’s, it’s the existence of, pain and suffering the bump of bad. And so, it eventually started asking myself, well, why do I think this is bad?
Where am I getting my, my intuitions that certain things actually are bad because when I say something like, like, , sexual slavery, uh, global warming, um, you know, anything secondhand smoke, gay bashing, like all of these things that, that, uh, that a lot of us would, would say are bad.
Where am I getting that inclination? and I realized that as an atheist, I didn’t have a a solid ground to raise that objection. As an atheist atheism basically got me relativism, because, because when I said something was bad, I’m not describing the actions themselves.
Right. And I’m not describing my emotions. Right. I’m not saying like, I think that that’s bad. No, uh, Auschwitz was really bad. Like slavery was really bad, like owning other people because they have more melon in, in their cells is bad. You don’t do
that. It’s not like me saying, oh, I don’t like broccoli or, or, or cauliflower.
It’s not like saying it’s not like saying mint chip ice cream is the best ice cream.
Ryan Henry: It’s objective, right?
Jonathan Noyes: it’s objective. Right. So, so the problem that I would raise as the number one, my number one, objection to the existence of God requires an objective morality. My atheism, my naturalism couldn’t give me that objective. Uh, thing.
So, so that was, that was the bump of bad.
And then the, the third bump was probably the most difficult for me, existentially, cuz it led to kind of like a, an existential crisis, right? It’s uh it’s I call it the bump of me and there’s a component of every single human that every single human being is 100% aware of every waking minute of their life and it’s their soul. And as a naturalist, I would’ve said it’s consciousness, you know, it’s our consciousness. It’s that thing like when you close your eyes, like right now I’m talking to.
And I am, while I’m saying all of this stuff, I am imagining a, uh, purple and orange octopus playing baseball. Like I can picture that in my mind. I’m sure if I like, uh, you know, Ryan, I’m sure that you can too, right now in your mind, listening to what I’m saying, processing all this information, organizing your thoughts.
So you can still picture this, this octopus playing baseball and he’s horrible at baseball. You know, he can’t run, he keep falling all over his eyes. Like, what exactly is that? Like, where is that octopus? Is it closer to my right ear or my left? You know, if I like cuz on naturalism, I should be able to cut open my brain and we should be able to see that octopus because naturalism requires a physical manifestation of everything, right?
Everything is physical. Well, that’s not the way it is. Yeah. There are neurons and, and, and things firing in my, in my brain, but that’s not the octopus. It’s. And, and not only that, but like this, this aspect, this immaterial aspect of our very being, uh, it’s a thing that you’re aware of when you introspect.
When you think to yourself, right? We, we all do that. We think to ourselves, well, what exactly is that? Because it’s not just the, the neurons and everything firing. It’s not just a, a physical thing happening. Um, but it’s more than that. This is like insane. Like if we think about it, you know, normally if I’m giving like a presentation, I’ll have students or, or leaders, whoever I’m speaking to , I’ll ask ’em to close their eyes and, and, picture some grass and, and pluck it up and touch it, roll it between their fingers and bring it to their nose and smell it.
And this is all happening in your mind.
Ryan Henry: Yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: And I’ll say who here, who here could feel who here could see that grass? Most people raise their hand because some people just can’t like they don’t have that imagination who here could feel the grass who here could smell the grass.
If I asked you, would you be able to taste the grass? So not only can you imagine these things, but you can actually engage your senses in this part of your very being.
Ryan Henry: right.
Jonathan Noyes: and, and this is, this is what the soul is. And as a naturalist, every waking moment I bumped into it and like, and I would’ve said, it’s a, it’s, it’s an illusion, right?
Like Daniel, Daniel, then it says it’s an illusion. But then I realized like, that doesn’t make any sense. You know, it’s not just an illusion, it’s a fundamental component of reality. And I know that experientially, I, I experience this. It’s, it’s, it’s just as real as, as, as, as this water bottle or, or the camera I’m looking to, or the computer or the microphone I’m using, so those are, the three bumps, the last one being probably the most significant, you know, cuz it also, so the soul is real. I would’ve as an atheist, I would’ve said that not the soul is real, but I would say consciousness is real, but also the third bump actually led to something that I would’ve agreed with completely.
I would’ve said that, that, uh, that souls are special, right? The soul is that thing that lends uniqueness and value and worth to human
beings. and then this is where things got really hard . For me. you know, I used to argue like, I would’ve brought up to you, Ryan.
I would’ve said like when you were talking about, if you brought up Jesus to me, uh, and I’ve said, I could not believe in your sky, daddy, who would torture his son. Why, why would he have to torture and mutilate his son? So why, so that you can be saved? Why would you believe in that guy? And then it was in an interaction with my soul that I came and, and then in combination with the second bump, the bump of bad, that there’s an objective morality.
I came to the conclusion in the awareness that the reason why Jesus had to die was because of me, because I’m not, uh, as, as, great as I, as I like to think, you know, I’m not, uh, as amazing a human being, you know? and, and I knew that something was wrong. With the world around me, I knew something was wrong and, and my naturalism, it couldn’t offer me an a solution.
It couldn’t offer me anything only, only Christianity offers you the solution. It gives you the problem, but it gives, uh, it offers the solution as well.
When I left my presuppositions of naturalism, kind of at the door, I started seeing that naturalism didn’t make, uh, big sense of the existence of the world, right? . So my naturalism didn’t offer an explanation. The naturalism didn’t make, for me, didn’t make sense of my own deepest hungers and, and, especially, uh, the problem, of, of my own guilt.
Jonathan Noyes: By contrast, though, you know, in each of these areas, Christianity has superior explanatory power. It can explain these things, you know, intellectually Christian theism proves to be, to be much more satisfying than does naturalism. existentially personally, it’s the only answer Like every time I, I, I found that there, there was a legitimate. in the Christian worldview for these things. And there wasn’t in my worldview. the world is a certain way, God created it.
Ryan Henry: mm-hmm
Jonathan Noyes: God created the world and he created certain features and aspects in it.
We can deny these certain aspects and features all that we want, but our denial of them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
So that means when. When. we live in the world that God exists, we bump into the world that God exists when we don’t live by according to the way that God created it.
Ryan Henry: Yeah. I like,
Jonathan Noyes: was bumping into.
Ryan Henry: yeah, I like that bumping into you. That’s a good way of putting it, you
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah. And they hurt dude like, the bump of bad hurts, man. It, it like, you realize, like I said, that you’re not as good of a person as, as, as you think you are. And not only that, but we’re not just the victims, but we’re the victimizers.
And when we come to that realization that our sin actually, it, it affects more than just you, it affects your family.
It affects your friends, your loved ones. It affects the people out there, the world out there and not just in here. And, uh, and we have a desperate cry. We have a desperate cry. We know we need to be rescued. We’re in a pit and we can’t
get out by our own effort. No matter how hard we try,
Ryan Henry: and it takes so much humility to get to that point,
Jonathan Noyes: You gotta, it breaks you, man. It still breaks me, you know, but, but on Christianity we’re offered that way. We’re, we’re given a rescuer and what God rescues. He rescues completely. and and the rescuer is Jesus.
And, and that’s why God had the, that’s why God sent his son. Right.
Ryan Henry: yeah, absolutely.
Jonathan Noyes: So that we will inherit eternal a life, you know?
And that’s, uh, and that’s where we find ourselves sitting today.
Ryan Henry: And if you could just talk to us about your girlfriend, what role did she have, in your turning point?
Rheanna’s role. Uh, can’t be understated, man. Uh, she was consistently willing to not put up with me, but engage me.
Jonathan Noyes: push me and stand firm. The thing that stands out most at this moment right now, as I’m thinking about Rheanna, she was always willing to stand firm. That her worldview was true. No matter how, bad God seems no matter where she found herself, she was never willing to turn her back. So she was dedicated to Jesus. like none I’ve ever seen her since, you know, she, she knows God is real. And she’s willing to even if it puts her in a unfavorable position, whether it be at a job or in a relationship she wasn’t ever willing to deny that.
She was consistent
Ryan Henry: Yeah. which is what you said. You like, you know?
Jonathan Noyes: Yes, that’s good, man. Well, I’ve actually never really nobody’s ever really asked me that question. That’s funny. This is where it gets off the rails because people, I have to explicitly say like, I married Rheanna, you know, we are now married and we have four daughters and we’re, oh my gosh.
Doing the best that we can. But, but, and to this day, she’s still those things, right. She’s a rock and she’s consistent.
Ryan Henry: Yeah. Praise God for that.
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah.
Ryan Henry: That’s beautiful. That’s and, and yeah, can’t be underestimated, you know, even when she might be able not be able to, you know, go at it as intensely as you are, with the apologetics, but just that, just standing from and being true to what she believes is awesome.
Jonathan Noyes: That’s actually like a Ryan. That’s a pretty good point. Can we, can I just add something
like, uh, she she doesn’t go that intensely and I wanna make it clear kind of for your listeners, cuz I think this is important. Oftentimes people, people bring this up, like people aren’t like me and they’re not like you Ryan, right?
Not everybody’s gonna go and have a successful podcast.
Right. Not everybody’s gonna do this and not everybody feels comfortable. Not everybody has the means.
Ryan Henry: Right,
Jonathan Noyes: We’re not called to be somebody else. Like you’re
Ryan Henry: Mm-hmm
Jonathan Noyes: to be as intense as I am for example. But what we are called to do is go and make disciples, right?
We’re we’re to be about, we are Christ ambassadors begging on behalf of God to be reconciled to God, you know? And, so these things that are what we should be about in our own spheres of influence. oftentimes I feel like when I speak a lot of times, people say, man, we love your passion. And my question, my pushback, is I’d say, well, why aren’t you as passionate?
Not the same as me because like, thank God we don’t want more Jon noises in the world. Like the one is enough. Trust me. Like, we, we want more of you
and you and Jesus together, can have an impact. So my question is, is like, what are you. to build the kingdom. What are you doing to be steadfast and strong?
And this is what my wife was. She wasn’t like out there proclaiming the truth, but she was willing to at least, say them when asked.
Ryan Henry: Yeah, that’s great. That’s awesome. Yeah, no, that’s really good. Yeah. It’s really cool. Um, what was it like when you came to Jesus?
I mean, because I, everyone is so different. would you be able to talk to us about that?
Jonathan Noyes: yeah, sure. it’s twofold. when I came to Christ, I’m an all in guy. I think you can tell, like, I’m just an all in guy in everything.
I don’t believe in Christianity because it makes me feel good or gave me more popularity. It certainly didn’t make me any more money. It’s just like, I don’t, I believe what I believe because it’s true. And I think that living the, I think that that knowing what’s true is foundational. And then once we find out what’s true, we should chase it. And when I first became a Christian, I thought everything was gonna be perfect. Like I had Jesus, you know, oh my gosh, I’m gonna tear down strongholds. I’m running after you Christ with everything I have. And then like within a week, I. Oh, man, I still gotta navigate this fallen and broken world.
And this world is hard, you know? And I realized that it doesn’t get better immediately just because you’re a Christian, long term. Absolutely it does. You know, so, so as I became a Christian like that, I was confronted with that reality, but then on the tail end of that, as I started to, to study, as I started to really dig into my world, I realized that the, the, the authors of the scriptures, right.
Is true, right? These are about momentary light affliction producing in the eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison, right? Paul writes about tribulations all the time. He’s saying that they’re momentary, this will pass. And not only that, but God uses these tribulations, these trials in our lives to do something, to prepare us to build us up to ultimately prepare us to shoulder the weight of glory, you know?
So I realized that while I was passionate for Jesus, I was confronted with the reality right away that the world isn’t, as it ought to be, even as a Christian, it’s hard not everything’s gonna get better, but I realized that the not better stuff, the hard stuff.
Jonathan Noyes: Are actually things that God uses to refine us and ultimately point us to himself through the cross to glory. And so that’s what, like my coming to Jesus, my transformation has led to an immeasurable amount of hope in any circumstance in any situation. I, I resonate with Paul and in so much, you know, I’ve had little and I’ve had much in all I’m well, content, Uh, it’s in, it’s in our weakness that we’re strong. Right? And because, because of this, right, my grace is sufficient for you is what Paul says before. He says that my grace, that’s what Jesus promises us. My grace is sufficient for you. And because of that, my I’m well content with persecution, with insults, with, with all of the stuff that Paul went through.
And, uh, and so that’s what really, what the transformation is meant to me. Yes. It’s intellectual, , but there’s a, there’s a component of reality that supers not supersedes, but it it’s above the intellectual component. Like I believe it because it’s true, but because it’s true, it, it, it opens the world up.
It opens, it opens our experiences up, it opens up, uh, how we can live our lives and actually reach amazing potentials and not be fearful ever of anything,
Ryan Henry: Yeah, amen. Amen. was there, was there any, everyone kind of comes into the kingdom in a different way sometimes gradually over a period of time. Was there a moment where you just finally threw it into the ice surrender? I’m done.
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah. That’s a good question. So mine was for sure, gradual, because other things were starting to shift and change in my life. But that was a moment where I was sitting on an old school futon couch from Ikea. It was the most uncomfortable piece of furniture you could possibly imagine.
And I used to read in it because it was impossible to fall asleep in it. So I, uh, I, I was reading, I forget like Habermas or somebody, and I remember reading these things and that’s when I posited the alien, I’m like, well, maybe aliens came. Took Jesus from the tomb and repaired him with their super technology and put him back and I’m like, oh man, like that’s desperation.
And that’s when I asked myself, what is it that I’m running from? And then that led to the existential crisis. The, the questions, well I’m running from, from God, not because of who God is, but because of who I am, I have to come to the
realization, the recognition that, that I am not who I think I am. I am a fallen, broken sinner and desperate need of help.
And then, then Christianity, Jesus ultimately offered that, that rescue.
Ryan Henry: so what started shifting what, you know, you know, after that, and you’re having this transformation, you’re realizing these questions and, uh, you’re realize that it’s you running away from this? God it’s not God. Well, how did things start to shift?
Jonathan Noyes: how did stuff start to shift? so everything changed. I mean, like, it really did, you know, I, I, I found out that Christianity was true and almost immediately I enrolled in Biola’s certificate program of Christian apologetics.
Cuz I found out that like I found this word apologetics, I’d never known what it was.
Nobody, nobody knows what apologetics is. Right. And uh, so I Googled the term cuz uh, somebody that was listening to said the word apologetics like, well what’s that mean? Oh this is sounds cool. Giving, offering a defense of, of why we believe what we believe. Okay. I wonder if I can get a degree in that and I was Googled it, and I found out Biola, I’d never heard of Biola.
I mean who’s heard of Ola. Right. So I, uh, and then I found out that one of the best programs in the world is that Biola I found out that was 45 minutes from my house. So then I, I enrolled in this certificate program realized I was wasting my time with certificate. Cause I love this stuff, so I’m gonna get the masters.
So then I enrolled in the masters now I was like a baby Christian. I was like a baby, baby Christian. I mean, I was in my classes, my fun, like my, my, uh, central Christian doctorate classes, like raising my hand, being like, wait a second. You’re telling me that I don’t understand. I thought we have one God, not three father, son spirit.
So like, I didn’t even know what the Trinity was when I, and like how I got in, I have no idea, you know, but it turned to be like a, a really great opportunity, a really great experience for me, but foundationally and fundamentally, everything shifted the question, like what changed? I mean, everything. my pursuits changed.
I ended up leaving the law firm and becoming a full-time pastor. You know, uh, I started chasing every, everything I was chasing changed. I was no longer chasing, uh, money and success. I wasn’t chasing, uh, affirmation in, in my girlfriend, in, in, in my experiences, I was now chasing Christ in all things and finding my satisfaction there.
And I was finding my success that what was defining my success was completely different.
Ryan Henry: Mm.
Jonathan Noyes: like, what changed everything?
I mean, literally every, I mean, I’m still the same guy, right? I mean, I’m, I’m, I look the same. I act the same. Sometimes I, I stopped swearing.
Ryan Henry: Yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: You know, I, uh, so stuff like that, but like, uh, but I’m still like, you know, same sense of humor and stuff,
Ryan Henry: yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: but everything changed everything.
Ryan Henry: Biola really had a place of just, I mean, basically discipleship, right?
Jonathan Noyes: Yeah. I mean, these, these professors that I had in the graduate program of Christian apologetics were second to none. They were amazing. I learned great content. The content’s fantastic, but you learn content from. The thing that I loved was getting to know them. they were really great. The firm was great, getting to know the professors, a lot of them were pastors, and they would really, they kind of took me under their wing to this day.
I’m still really good friends with, with a lot of them, I call them and talk to them. And when I see them at conferences now, I, I spend time with them and they were integral, leading me through difficult questions, wrestling with this stuff, discipleship, like you said, they, they kind of lived it out.
They didn’t even say that. Right. They didn’t, it wasn’t a program. It was just how they, they lived their lives and they modeled it really well. For me, Biola was a great place for me.
Ryan Henry: That’s great.
Yeah. So, Jon, what, what’s the best advice that you can give our listeners about talking with atheists
Jonathan Noyes: Oh, good question. learn what you believe, but why you believe it, you know, learn some tactics in how to engage, uh, at conversation, how to control and steer the conversation. This is stuff is from, from Greg, Koukl my boss,
But read his book. Tactics. and then, then practice it. The things that you learn are amazing. I have compassion be patient. We have to put on the lens, like my prayer every morning. Like the Lord every day would put in front of me, the ability to see people as he sees them,
I think that would really help us, uh, communicate because we’d have a compassion.
Jonathan Noyes: And I think that that should really break our hearts instead of running into conversations with a, a condemning spirit or a, an aggression.
Get to know them, ask tons of questions. this is true. Not just of conversing with atheists, conversing with anybody, be genuinely interested in the person, like drop your agenda and just like, just actually be interested in them and want to hear their stories because they’re made in the image of God and, and and some people have incredible stories.
Jonathan Noyes: Just get to know them for them. You know, of course share the truths of the world. Right? Share the gospel. Of course, you know, we defend our Christian worldview, but we, we do it in a way maybe that’s that’s led through, uh, they’re dead.
Ryan Henry: yeah,
Jonathan Noyes: do dead things. They stink
Ryan Henry: yeah, exactly. Yeah,
Jonathan Noyes: and they can’t get out.
the other piece of advice is, is take the pressure off of yourself. when we’re led with the, with God’s eyes and the understanding that it’s, God’s gonna do his work, we just gotta do ours.
Jonathan Noyes: Maybe we could, uh, engage in a different way, Stop becoming offended. Like Christians should be the least offendable people on the planet.
like like stop getting offended at things like, of course, of course the world, the, world is, is doing gnarly things.
The they’re living in darkness and what, what, what do you do when you’re in the dark? You, you stumble around and you bump into things and you knock stuff over, and this is, this is the way the world is, and people are just trying to figure it out.
Um, so have compassion.
Ryan Henry: That’s really, I really appreciate that. Yeah. . And would you would also just talk to us just real briefly about stand to reason?
Jonathan Noyes: So stand the reasons a Christian apologetics organization, where we train Christians to think, more consistently more biblically about their worldview with the hopes of them going out and sharing these the way that they think and what they think.
We focus on training Christians. Our three pillars are knowledge, wisdom, and character. So we have to have the knowledge in order to defend the world view in order to engage.
but we have to have the wisdom on how to engage people. in a winsome way. But then the character component is really key to we, we have to live upright in, in character filled lives,
um, and be before men, but also before God,
uh, I, I, work with, Greg Koukl is the founder and president.
but then we’ve got Alan Shlemon, Tim Barnett and Robby Lashua. So we’re the five speakers and we travel around and, and speak to whoever will invite us and to have a, an amazing time. I’m basically like living my dream it’s I used, I was listening to Koukl.
Jonathan Noyes: his podcast before I was a Christian. And I would argue with him through the radio, I would call his show, hoping to argue with him.
So to be now on this side of it, working with him is surreal.
Ryan Henry: That is amazing. what are some great, resources that Stand to Reason has to offer
Jonathan Noyes: yeah. STR university S T R U. It’s not a real university, obviously, every quarter we seek to put up two. , courses and they tackle, certain topics. It’s all free. Like we don’t charge for our online content.
My, six part series on biblical justice, just launched, you know, leaning into justice issues of our day.
if you go to str.org, you can find those. The blog is unbelievable. We, we write a blog every single day. We post a blog on the website about any myriad of issues. SDR has, uh, Greg’s live radio program.
Jonathan Noyes: He does for, I think it’s two hours every Tuesday. So you can actually call in and talk to Greg and ask him your questions. Uh, STR ask is, uh, hashtag STR ask is a shorter podcast that we offer, where you can, tweet your questions and they’ll interact with them, online. I do a thing called to the point, which is every other Wednesday at noon, my time.
So Pacific time, it’s a 15 minute teaching about a culturally relevant topic. Outside resources of Stand to Reason. Oh man, there’s so much, Carl Trueman, if you guys don’t listen to Mortification of Spin, it’s his podcast, it’s phenomenal. And he also wrote the Rise in Triumph of the Modern Self, which is a phenomenal book.
Oh, if you, if, uh, Ryan, if I don’t know if you’ve read this book, it’s by Rod Dreher, Live Not By Lies, is one of the best books I’ve read, certainly in the last 10 years, but maybe ever, and, combines with, the book. I just mentioned Rise in Triumph of the Modern Self, Trueman’s book. Those are gonna be those, I think in my opinion, they’re gonna go down as, as, uh, pillars
Ryan Henry: Hmm.
Jonathan Noyes: Of our time. I would run to them.
Ryan Henry: Yeah.,
Yeah, that’s great, man. I, I appreciate that. I love finding new resources, you know,
For our last question. So, if you, if you, could go back, and talk to, Jon, before he started to surrender and realize that he was the one that was running, what would you say to him?
Jonathan Noyes: Oh man. Ah, stop. I’d probably yell really loudly stop. stop the way that you’re living. Stop what you’re pursuing, stop running. just stop, you don’t need to, go there. the results that you’re looking for, the things that you’re looking for, aren’t at all where you’re looking.
And there’s nothing there, but more heartache. pain more
Ryan Henry: Yeah.
Jonathan Noyes: So stop.
Ryan Henry: Yeah, that’s good. But, um, man, thank you so much for your time.
Uh, it’s been awesome having you, Jon, and thank you for, for blessing us with the, with your story and, uh, your wisdom.
Jonathan Noyes: My wisdom! [laugh]
I’m I’m wrestling through it like everybody else, man.
Ryan Henry: Uh,
Margaret: Welcome to the Sendoff. How do we end a show like this? Well, a Limerick, of course. Here’s Limerick Lou with the screening of Jon.
“The Screening of Jon”
Godless Jon saw a girl through the screen,
but by her, the screen was unseen.
She crashed through the door and fell to the floor
and arose in his arms as his queen.
Only one thing stood between them.
Her faith in the Lord. She did lean on.
Against it, he’d preach, but for it, she’d teach.
They’re married to Christ from then on.