My Adventure from 'truth' to The Truth
“What evidence do you have that God created the world ‘In the beginning’? Can you prove it using facts and not fiction? How could you come to the conclusion that there is a God who simply spoke and created the whole universe when scientific evidence points to the contrary?”
I once asked these exact same questions to any Christian who was foolish enough to acknowledge that they had faith in God. They called it “faith”; I called it “gullible.” I was contacted to write an article in this issue not because of any extraordinary scientific or theological expertise, but because of my past and what I went through in my life’s journey (so far). This article, therefore, might not appeal to some of you, especially if you’re just looking for a collection of scholarly jargon to throw back at an atheist at work that you yourself don’t fully understand. This article is a testimony of an atheist-turned-Adventist. If nothing else, I present to you my story to inspire you to not give up on the atheists in your life.
My story starts in Lansing, Michigan. I was born to two of the most loving and involved parents a boy could ever hope for. Since my parents weren’t Adventist (we didn’t even know any Adventists), all of my schooling until college was in public schools. I don’t regret my education for one minute, because it was a part of the foundation
the Lord was laying for me. As far back as the first grade, I remember having teachers (along with my parents) who encouraged my love for mathematic and scientific activities. My third-grade teacher made science exciting, armed with fun experiments. I wanted to be a scientist, because my teachers made science fun.
It was about the time that I entered middle school that I encountered “the enemy of science”: religion. Up until my tenth birthday or so, my encounters with religion had been few and far between. I went to church for some Easters and Christmases, and I went to church the next day whenever I would spend Saturday night at my aunt’s house. I just understood “church” to be a place to go and talk (as dully as possible) about the fable of Jesus. Jesus was just
a “holy” fairy tale that grown-ups invented to justify why they did or didn’t want to do something. It was about the time I entered middle school that I first heard the claims that God created the world—and that Christians actually believed it to be fact! How absurd! That just seemed to be fundamentally against what I understood to be true, though my elementary teachers never directly addressed issues of origin.
In the ninth grade, I was given the intense joy (sarcasm) of studying biology. Of all of the science classes I have since taken, there was no subject I hated more. Whereas physics, chemistry, and earth sciences are all heavily math-based, biology is just a series of observations and guesses about the way the natural world operates. I’d
ask how fast some process would take or how much an organism would grow, and the response would always be some vague answer. This never set well with me because I couldn’t understand how science could be so full of speculation yet so certain about the results. It sure beat the alternative view, however; who could realistically believe in an invisible and all-powerful Creator in a world with so little good?
Armed with the concept of “good God, bad world,” I started attacking the Christians at my high school. I would not attack them physically, of course; rather mentally and intellectually. The proper term for what I would do to them was “ridicule.” I remember one kid that I casually knew brought up his love for VeggieTales; I mocked and insulted him for this nearly every single day until graduation. How could somebody otherwise so normal believe in something as foolish as a Creator?
I was well on my way to a life of science by the time I graduated high school. I had taken college-level physics and chemistry in my last two years, and was awarded the science award at graduation. More significantly, I was the recipient of a “2+2+2 Engineering Scholarship.” At the end of the program, I would have a bachelor’s degree from
Michigan State University in any engineering field I chose. I was also, unofficially, my school’s “Darwin Jr.”; an advocate of evolution and the big bang in the face of all who didn’t share my beliefs.
Darwin Jr. met his match about two weeks after high school graduation. I was invited to a birthday pool party in late June, but didn’t want anything to do with it. You see, the party was for my ex-girlfriend, and we weren’t exactly the best of friends. I was tempted to decline her invitation, but was ultimately convinced by a Muslim young lady that I needed to go. (Just a note: if God wants to accomplish something, He’ll make it happen, even if it means enlisting the services of a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist, or even an atheist.) I went to the party, and it ended up every bit as uncomfortable as I expected it to be. I didn’t bond with any of the other people there, and ended up sitting by myself for most of the party.
Well, almost by myself. I noticed that the hostess also wanted nothing to do with the festivities, so she too was by herself. And she was cute. It didn’t take very much internal prodding to gather the courage to go over and talk to her. We quickly found several common bonds. We were both musicians; even though we went to rival high schools we both hated her high school; and neither of us drank, smoked, or had sex. Yes, this self-professed Darwin Jr. was outspoken against drinking, drugs, and premarital sex, and this was just another point that I held against the
professed Christians who openly did those things even though their Lord asked them not to. If they didn’t take Him seriously, why should I?
It didn’t take very long before she asked the toughest question she could ask: “What church do you go to?” I laughed and said that I didn’t go to church, and that I was certain there wasn’t a God. She looked rejected, but I didn’t understand why. Certainly somebody as intelligent as her couldn’t fall for that Christian myth stuff? Indeed she had, and said that she was a Seventh-day Adventist. “Great,” I thought, “a Mormon.” Well, I’d seen the other “Christians” who claimed to believe but were easily corrupted.
She, however, was not easily corrupted. When I asked her to go out to see a movie with me on Friday night, she’d decline. She said, “Jesus asked me not to.” “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day” (Ex. 20:11 NIV). Not only did she believe that Jesus was
for real, but she linked Jesus’ teachings to “Creation.” In hindsight, I can’t believe I didn’t bail out almost immediately. I couldn’t get her to go out on Friday nights, I couldn’t get her to eat pepperoni pizza, I couldn’t get her to do ANYTHING!
It didn’t take long before the faith/unfaith issue really started to divide us. We dated for a few months, broke up, dated again, and broke up again. My mom says, to this day, that the saddest day in her life was the day that I told her (my mom) that we broke up because I was an atheist. She thought that getting me to pray before meals and taking me to church a few times a year was going to overcome a dozen years of science and naturalism in public schools.
Now, I know what you’re thinking at this point. Dated for a while, and broke up. Darwin Jr. hardly sounds defeated though, right? Little did I know that during our time apart, my ex was doing the single worst thing you could do for an atheist. No, not debating with me and actively trying to convert me. I loved to debate, remember? I used to find pleasure in making Christians cry. She hadn’t yet, nor did she, during this time, invite me to church or any church activity at all. The single worst thing you can do for an atheist is pray for them. (“Worst,” of course, from the atheist’s perspective.) It’s not fair! The deck is instantly stacked against them. Or, in this case, it was stacked against me. Just to clarify, her prayer was NOT that we’d get back together. She was finished with dating me. Her prayer was that I would be in the kingdom.
With her doing such an unfair thing behind my back as praying for me, it shouldn’t be any surprise that I suddenly couldn’t get her out of my head. Everywhere I turned, I was struck by reminders of this crazy Christian girl: the restaurants she introduced me to, the movies we watched together, etc. Something deep inside was telling me that
life wasn’t so bad with her after all. So it happened; about a year after we met, and six months after we had last seen each other, I called her again. After just a few short days of reconnecting, we both realized that the spark was still there between us, and for the third time I was entering into a relationship with a person with a fundamentally different worldview than I.
As an interlude, let me address your question right now. I know what you’re thinking: “Doesn’t Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:14, forbid her from having this relationship with you in the first place? How could she, a devout Seventh-day Adventist, willfully become unequally yoked to an atheist?” Her prayers and personal concern were always foremost for my salvation, not for our dating relationship. She wasn’t willing to compromise her faith just so we could be a couple. At the same time, she felt that God’s will was leading her to minister to me with such a close bond. As I described earlier, if I were asked to describe a Christian with one word, it wouldn’t be a positive word. Words like gullible, judgmental, and hypocritical all come to mind. Anndrea was placed in my life to reveal God’s true character traits: love, holiness, compassion, grace, and mercy. Paul, with good reason, discourages us from casually connecting with a different outlook on the world; at the same time, when God calls you to share the love of God with an outsider (and you discuss it with a respected spiritual leader, such as a pastor or elder, to verify that it’s of God), who are you to object? Let’s return to the story.
As interested as we were in each other, our third attempt at a relationship started out flat. We were dating, happy to be together again, but it wasn’t any deeper than before. I was still struggling with the fact that I was dating a Christian, and she was still struggling because I was anti-Christian. One day, everything changed for us. After a lot
of thinking, I decided that it was time to take our relationship more seriously. I loved her incredibly, and knew that she was the one for me. More importantly, I decided that some silly book wasn’t going to get in our way. If reading the Bible, just to get her off my back, was what it would take to show her that I was serious about her, I decided that I was going to “give it a shot.”
Little did I know, that same day Anndrea also made a major decision. She was tired of our roller-coaster relationship, the ups and downs caused by differences in faith. She prayed to the Lord, “Lord, I’m done. I can’t deal with this anymore. Either something drastic happens soon or I’m leaving him for good and never turning back.” She prayed this prayer just two hours before I came over to announce that I wanted to read the Bible.
In my mind, my decision to read the Bible actually made a lot of sense from my atheistic standpoint. I had studied myths and fairy tales from a wide variety of cultures in history, and I expected to find several points where the Bible clearly identified itself as a work of fiction. There were a few stories that I had heard of in my younger years that
especially screamed FAKE to me. For example: Jonah, the parting of the Red Sea, and especially, the story of Creation. If I could find absolute proof of something—anything—which could not possibly happen, I could dismiss the whole Bible as fiction.
I started reading “In the beginning.” While I was tempted to dispute the facts of Genesis 1, something struck me. My concept of a big bang was not incompatible with what I read about God’s act of creation. One moment there was nothing, and the next minute there was something. What (or who) caused the beginning of the universe? For the first time, I had to deal with “first cause.” If every action is a cause or an effect, what (or who) set the universe into motion in the first place? Furthermore, what purpose does the quality of beauty serve in this world? According to the naturalist perspective, everything that exists does so only because it serves a practical purpose. Hummingbirds,
for example, have long beaks to eat nectar. Why then would the flowers and the fields be so beautiful on a summer day, or tropical fish have such amazing colors? The answers to these questions lead naturally to the work of a delicate and caring Creator who crafted and placed the flowers in the fields and the fish in the seas, and then provided human beings (and humans alone) with the ability to recognize this quality.
Suddenly disturbed by these ideas, I jumped from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2. It is a well-taught fact that human beings are several hundred thousand years old, so I figured that such a fact would be perfect to throw out the biblical idea of human creation. When I read the story in Genesis 2, I was once again face-to-face with a question I wasn’t prepared for. Do you know how uncomfortable life can be when you have no purpose? Evolution taught me that my whole life served no purpose whatsoever in the grand scheme of the universe. I’m born, make the most of my situation, and then turn to worm food at some point. “What is the meaning of life?” I used to cry myself to sleep with that question, wondering why I bothered to get out of bed that morning. In Genesis 2, I found God giving man purpose. Adam woke up in the morning and went to work doing what God asked him to do by working in the garden. Gardening isn’t glamorous work, but Adam still found joy in doing it because it was God’s plan for his life. Adam woke up in the morning and kissed his wife. He didn’t just love Eve because she happened to be the only woman around, but because she was handmade by God just for Adam. If God gave purpose to Adam’s life, He might have a purpose for my life as well.
I flipped through the Bible, and was amazed at the stories it told. Genesis 3 introduces two more themes that I struggled with, evil in the world and the solution to evil. Why do bad things happen? How will it all end? None of the fables or fairy tales I had ever studied before addressed such issues, and even scholars today can do no better than simply guess. The Bible, on the other hand, did not shy away from answering these basic meta-narrative topics in a definitive way.
At the same time, I was amazed to learn more about God Himself. The gods of Roman or Greek myths were either totally disinterested in the actions of humans, or bumbling fools who were no wiser than goldfish. The God of the Bible cared deeply for humanity, even getting upset like a parent who sees their children turning their back and rebelling. God isn’t distant, nor is He foolish; the God of the Bible is a God who never gives up on humans no matter how often they give up on Him. I was astonished to see that Noah (even atheist Mike knew the story of Noah) developed a drinking problem, yet God still cared for him and tried to redeem his lost dignity. If God can be merciful to His children who make mistakes, can’t I do the same for the Christians I used to point at as hypocrites or frauds because they weren’t perfect? By the time I finished the story of King David, I was a certifiable believer in God.
Once I accepted God, things starting changing quickly in my life. The young lady that I talked about earlier invited me to church in 2003. I didn’t venture into the New Testament until early 2004, but once I did it didn’t take too long to see that Jesus was the main character of the whole Bible, the one the Old Testament referenced so many times. I was baptized in December 2004, and married Anndrea in July of 2005. Yes, the same Anndrea who stood as such a powerful Christian witness to me that she convinced me by her life that the Bible can be taken seriously.
The same Anndrea who prayed not that we’d be together (because she was done with me) but that I’d be in the kingdom, ended up being the one that said “I do” to, standing by my side for better or for worse.
This story of my life is far from complete. I’ve been a baptized Seventh-day Adventist Christian for over five years now, and I have many other stories to tell about what God has done in and through me. Isn’t that what life is, after all? In the face of the theory of evolution, which says that life is a series of accidents and coincidences, the Bible shows us that God gave us our first breath, takes our last breath, and guides us gently every breath in between (Jeremiah 1:4).
I share this testimony with you, the reader, as yet another instance of God calling His lost children to Him. In hindsight (always 20/20, I know), I can now see how God was always there for me, preparing me for what He wanted me to do with my life. In your life, there are probably countless people who, like me, accepted the “truth” as taught to me by evolutionists, simply because they don’t trust the alternatives. Although most atheists won’t admit it, belief in the big bang requires just as much faith as believing that God created the world. Statistically speaking, it takes as much if not more faith to believe that we all evolved from pond scum as opposed to spontaneous creation by an all-loving God. Yet, I still preferred the scientific form of faith over religious faith primarily because I liked scientists more than I liked religious people.
Your life (yes, you the reader) could be the greatest evidence for or against God that your neighbor could ever see. By your example, outsiders can see a wide variety of attitudes towards faith: looking down on or making fun of non-believers or even each other, claiming to have the truth but ignoring its advice constantly, or having a generally
closed-minded attitude towards new people or ideas can all lead outsiders to picture God in a similar way. Outsiders might decide that God too is mean or disrespectful, or perhaps His Word isn’t really all that important, based solely on your example. I ultimately decided to give the Creation story a shot not because of the story itself but because of the faithful, loving Christian who presented it to me. I could tell she genuinely cared about me, and that she also genuinely cared about God. What picture of religion are your neighbors, family members, or coworkers learning from you?