or No God?
As a young person I was an
agnostic. I did not know if there was
a knowable God, and I didn't care much. I figured that I was a
good person, and I really did not need or want any God to interfere
with what I wanted to do. I believed that all the 'good people'
went to heaven, and all the 'bad people' went to hell. I didn't
dwell on the subject.
I was interested in science.
Throughout my youth I was an avid
reader of Reader's Digest and Popular Science, and thus became aware of
many aspects of the physical world which lesser read people
ignore. I can still remember writing a paper for English class on
the topic of 'Quasars' when quasars were newly discovered (but not
'brand new'). I very much enjoyed Physics class as a high school
senior, and started college studies as a physics major. That
major course of study eventually morphed into a major in Industrial
Technology, in which I have a bachelor's degree.
I attended church in a mainline
'protestant' denomination until age 16
(although I never knew at that time what they were protesting), when my
parents let me decide whether I wanted to continue to go to
church. I quickly declined. Then at age 17 I was invited to
attend a Christmas Midnight Mass by a pretty girl, so I went along with
her and was amazed that the congregation seemed to really participate
and know all the words! I eventually joined the Roman Catholic
church, and tried diligently to practice what they taught for seven
years. During that time I met and married another prettier girl,
and together we attended the Catholic Church.
As a university senior I had an
epiphany. As an industrial
technology major I took a class in Design. One sunny Spring day I
began to walk to that class, and as I passed by a maple tree the
thought struck me like a ton of bricks that 'that tree is a great
design'!!! I had never thought of creation as the intricate work
of a Creator (duh!), but from that day on I certainly did! That
concept had a major impact on my thoughts, but little impact on the
conduct of my life.
Part of the curriculum of Industrial
Technology were several classes in
computer studies. These were the days of punch card
computing. I made a major discovery one day in computer
class. I discovered that if one drops a stack of punch card on
which program is written, and reassembles the punch cards in not
quite the right order, the program does not work well. This
realization was to have a major impact on my life (as you will see,
dear reader, if you persevere and read on).
The prettier girl and I eventually
married, our son was born, I
graduated from college, and got a job with a large manufacturer
as a quality control engineer. I quickly learned that I knew a
lot less than I thought I knew, but I also found that I had some
abilities to do the job I was hired to do, and settled in to what I
thought was a good career. My wife eventually finished her
college studies and became a grade school teacher as well as a mom.
It only took two years as a quality
control engineer to decide that
making machines run well was not my life's calling. My dad, being
an attorney in a small city, suggested that I might find the practice
of law as a rewarding career (as he certainly did). I resolved to
take the law school aptitude test (LSAT) to see if I could get admitted
to a law school. My LSAT test score, together with a lot of
cajoling from my father got me admitted to the law school closest to my
home town. I worked at my manufacturing job right up to almost
the first day of law school, and then we moved back to my home town.
It only took two years in law school
for me to discover that I was far
from brilliant as a law student, husband, father or person in
general. It culminated one day when I arrived at the university
library at 8:00 a.m., opened a law book, and realized at 4:00 p.m. that
I was on the same page that I opened to that morning. Life had
come to a standstill.
That afternoon I happened to see one
of the other 'residents' of the
university library. He was a cheerful chap in spite of the fact
that he walked with crutches, having had polio as a child. I had
always pitied him for his disability, but that day I admired him for
his cheerfulness in spite of his disability. So I (rather
bluntly) asked him how he could be cheerful when he was disadvantaged
by his disability, and he cheerfully informed me that he was a 'born
again' Christian. He was the first of that species whom I had
met. As we chatted that day I realized that there were aspects of
life which I had never discovered in spite of my background as a
science minded, religiously schooled person. I was intrigued.
Then my 'disabled' friend introduced
me to a friend of his who was a
management major in the school of business at that university. As
I chatted with him he asked me if I was interested in having an expert
manage my life. This theoretical expert knew everything, cared
for everyone, and was able to maximize the life of individual people
and whole societies. I responded that I would be a fool to turn
down such an offer. He said, "His name is Jesus." I was
To me Jesus may have lived on earth
2000 years ago, but now he lived in
'never never land' as far as I was concerned. But to hear that He
could affect my life for the better was pretty intriguing, to say the
But for practical purposes, I was
experiencing emotional stagnation and
paralysis, so we tried to consult the pastor of the church we were
attending. We found him literally up a tree, pruning a tree in
the church courtyard. He didn't have time to talk about our
problems. I was dismayed. I had supposed that I would find help
for my situation in through our religion, but was disappointed.
So I spent about two weeks trying to both study and figure out how to
surrender the management of my life to Jesus while still maintaining
some semblance of self control and self respect. Eventually I
realized that it is difficult for any person to have two managers.
At the end of those two weeks I
realized that Jesus probably could not
do a worse job of managing my life than I had been doing. So I
called one of my Christian friends, and he introduced me to a girl who
was an early childhood development major at that university, and a
Christian. When I asked her what I should do next, she replied,
"Get down on your knees because you are going to be talking to the King
of Kings and the Lord of Lords." It was a very solemn occasion!
As I began to bend my knees my life
flashed before me and I thought,
"Jesus, if You are really there, please do something worthwhile with my
life - just don't give me any empty religion!" WHen my knees
touched the floor twenty-six years worth of tears were released and I
became a changed person - what they called a 'born-again Christian'.
Dear reader, if you are an atheist or
an agnostic, please bear with me
because I still have a lot of respect for you, and I probably share
your skepticism concerning Christian doctrine relating to origins and
I have come to believe that true
science and true spirituality will
eventually merge as humility develops and pride diminishes as the
universe proceeds towards the next paradigm shift. In concert
with this development will be a realization of unwarranted
assumptions made by both the science community and the religious
community throughout history. I further believe that all things
will eventually be known (or at least the truth will become available
to all) and we will perceive with amazement 'so that's how it happened
Two examples of this development come
to my mind:
First, I recently watched a History
Channel documentary about
Copernicus and the telescope's affect on mankind's view of the universe
and the church's
reaction to those new truths. Go science, and whoa religion!
Second, I also recently watched a
Science Channel documentary on the
Scablands of Eastern Washington State which told of the science
community's long-held belief that the Scablands developed over millions
of years, and how one man's theory of a mega-flood caused by the breach
of an huge ice dam carving the scablands in about a weekend resulted in
widespread acceptance of his theory by the science community. Go truth,
and whoa assumptions!
I see these two examples as a general
pattern of truth becoming known,
and mistruth being abandoned, by those who really want to know the
truth. Others, sadly, will continue in their assumptions and
I find it interesting as I flip
through tv channels that the science
community has a tendency to assume that there is no creator God and
that 'life' is just out there everywhere and develops mindlessly on its
own. I also find it interesting that the religious community has
a tendency to assume that their doctrines about their beliefs are
correct in the face of strong evidence that the doctrines do not
coincide with observable reality.
I see the big question for each and
every one of us is this: Do
we love the truth, or do we love ourselves at the expense of the
truth? I don't believe that we can have it both ways.
Finally, a quote from someone
published in Readers' Digest from years
ago still sticks in my mind and heart: "All I need to be humble
is to know the truth about myself."