In this post, I will explain why my embrace of Christianity–accepting Jesus as my savior–has transformed my life. I offer this primarily for those who are open-minded and just really don’t understand what this is all about. However, I also offer it in the spirit of specificity for those who will say, “A ha! Bob’s invisible friend in the sky allows him to cope with life. Whoop de doo. I don’t need Sky Man to fight my battles. I have my reason–the finest that 5 billion years of a breeding competition acting upon randomness can buy.”
So to both camps, enjoy.
Among my faults, the worst is arrogance. But the great thing is, I can be cocky comparing myself to other people on a secular scale, so long as I acknowledge that compared to Jesus, we are all ignorant, evil fools. If I just went to church, then my vanity would build up over the week and get knocked back down every 7 days. But if I read the Bible daily, and listen to “praise & worship” songs in the car, my narcissism gets stomped down much more.
Stop and think about the ramifications: I genuinely believe that there is an omnipotent being who has designed the entire history of the human race in order to demonstrate His beauty, grace, and love to us. I genuinely believe that when I die, I will spend eternity basking in the pure intellect and creativity of this amazing Mind, who invented not just quantum mechanics and irrational numbers, but also baby tigers and rainbows. Suppose there really were a Being who deserved a host of angels singing of His glory, for eternity? Wouldn’t that affect how you dealt with getting laid off?
Now, thus far I’ve tried to get you to see how it would change someone’s life if he started respecting Jesus Christ. But let’s kick it up a notch. Suppose someone began loving Jesus Christ, indeed began adoring Him. What would that do to the person?
It would utterly transform him. Quick example: I was (am?) an alcoholic. I was the guy in college who would pass out on the staircase, crawling back to his room. But a year and a half ago–after a particularly “bad decision” in part due to drinking–I decided I was never having another drop of alcohol. I’ve kept to that, boom, done. I can go to a karaoke bar in Las Vegas and not even be tempted to get a drink.
Or how about this? I have no fear of going to prison. (A bunch of you are worried, deep down, that black men with tattoos will suddenly become gregarious in the shower. You can admit that, Free Advice is a safe place.) If and when I go, I’ll join/start a Bible study and a karaoke group, plus I’ll offer to teach math/econ classes to any inmates and/or guards who are interested. I’m not worried about it.
I have been wrong before on several big ideas, which is why I understand these issues so well (now). These include: Goedel’s incompleteness theorem, Kenneth Arrow’s impossibility theorem, and the issue of whether government debt can burden our grandkids. I was confidently wrong on each of these in the past, and now that I see the truth it is funny that I could’ve missed the gaping chasms in my “logic” before, when I wallowed in confident error. (For example, I actually turned in a “counterexample” to Arrow’s theorem to my game theory prof at NYU. Fortunately I came to my senses and retrieved it from his mailbox [it was written on paper] before he saw it. Of course, what happened is that I had originally misunderstood the theorem. Now I can and do teach the proof of Arrow’s Theorem.)
And the biggest mistake of all I made, when I was in college: I confidently embraced atheism.
I’ll close with two examples to show what I mean–why it’s funny now to think back to my confident error on this score. For example, when I was an atheist, I would have found it very compelling if you had told me, “The story of Noah and the Ark isn’t unique to the Bible. There are many cultures that have a Flood myth.”
But now, it occurs to me (thanks to either C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton): If the Biblical flood actually happened, then of course any culture alive today is descended from the survivors, and therefore it shouldn’t surprise us that they remember it too.
A final example: I don’t mean to pick on the guy, but somebody I’m Facebook friends with, wrote up this post arguing that because we don’t see signs of alien life, it should make us think that the secular Darwinian account of the origin of life is more likely. Here’s his thesis in a paragraph:
In short, the seeming unlikelihood of the natural formation of certain life developments, along with the Great Silence—are complements to one another, and would serve to corroborate purely naturalistic evolution against the need for intelligent design arguments. Why, if there were intelligent fine-tuning for life in this universe, would we not expect to see more signs of it elsewhere? Would it not be more commonplace for divine intervention to have cleared the otherwise multitudinous challenges to it? Indeed, this lacking evidence of extraterrestrials pulls our Bayesian probabilities further in the direction of natural evolution from where they were before.
OK, how do we like this argument then? Because there are trillions of stars scattered across the universe–meaning our particular sun is nothing special–then I conclude that they must have been intelligently designed. I mean, if a creative being did invent stars, then this is exactly what we’d expect to see: stars flung out all over the universe. In contrast, if stars arose from purely naturalistic mechanisms, then those specific conditions might only obtain once in the history of the universe.
Does anyone like that argument? I doubt it. Well, both of the above can’t be right simultaneously.
If you are confident in your atheism, thinking that your observations of nature have reinforced your priors, I would ask you to seriously consider the alternative hypothesis, and how the evidence might be just as consistent with it.