Growing up in rural Wisconsin in an area that could have been part of the shooting for the film “Deliverance,” I often sat and wondered about why I was even born. We all do. My mom had 8 kids and we were dirt poor. My father came off a farm and started a construction business with equipment that was held together by hope and duct tape.
My mom was a Lutheran and dad was a Presbyterian, suffice to say their differences largely centered on the concept of pre-destination (Calvin & Luther). Looking around the church at the people only a step from the grave and listening to the pastor talk mostly about social and community issues, I stopped going to the Presbyterian Church as a young teenager. It all seemed to me to be the handiwork of men with wild imaginations and a desire for their name to live on as someone historically significant.
In college I studied world religions and also loved learning science, especially physics and mathematics. Of the world’s religions I tried to understand the basis for Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, largely because they had all been around for centuries. Anything that some man created in the past several hundred years was easy for me to dismiss. Indeed after reading the incredible claims of some of these erstwhile religions, I wondered if as a people we had all gone completely mad.
Though not a scientist, Charles Darwin’s observations in the Galapagos quickly gained traction among the scientific community. From Lucy to the Hobbits of Flores Island, all the pieces of evolution began to fall into place to explain the puzzle of life.
But I think the part that first began to trouble me most regarding the Theory of Evolution were mathematical models of probabilistic combinations and permutations constructed to measure the changes over time through the various stages in evolution. Darwin didn’t know what we know today about the complexity of something as “simple” as the basic cell. So to deal with the remote probabilities to achieve such complexity the Theory of Evolution introduced two postulates (prerequisites for the model to work): First, the Principle of Uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism underpinned evolution, asserting that over a long period of time, very long period indeed, things just kind of stayed on track without major interruption. This is needed because cataclysmic intervention, the kind that doomed species to extinction, would necessarily require a reset of the clock. Secondly, as the complexity of life forms began to emerge, the mathematics of the combinations and permutations required a proportionately longer period of time to explain how things became so amazing today.
Over my lifetime the science books continued to expand timeframes exponentially, from the life of the universe to all creation therein. So given enough time and mutations, we achieve what we see around us today. Unfortunately life forms are becoming more complex, not less, as we continue to learn more about them. So time needs to be extended accordingly. As the time frame heads toward infinity, in a mathematical-probabilistic equation, the possibility of having this complexity can be explained. But here is the rub: If you need to approach infinity in order to get possible mutations sequenced in the order required for advanced complexity, then it is also tautological to say that the probability of these complexities developing through evolution approaches zero as the time requirement to make them work approaches infinity. And Uniformitarianism? I think the fact is that we have experienced several major cataclysmic events, one meteor perhaps so large that it knocked our earth 23 degrees on its axis. Today the earth literally wobbles its way around the sun in an elliptical trajectory.
So I lost faith in evolution but was now faced with a real dilemma. I scoffed at man-made religions, thinking all of them incredulous, even ridiculous to the point of insulting our intelligence. And my friends who were atheists believed religion helped people deal with the unfairness of life – a two-year-old suffering and dying of leukemia for example. Good logic right? So for atheists religion served a purpose. But for me I didn’t need it. I wanted to see how far my own search would take me. I wanted to get as close to truth as I possibly could, however painful this truth might be.
So I began to study the Bible as a textbook without any religion. As I came across historical events I also took a look at secular history (e.g. Josephus) to see if these things happened according the accounts in the Bible. I learned that even the Jews believed in a historical Jesus (not His claims about Himself however), and that Jews, Muslims and Christians alike believe the Torah (books of Moses) right up to the point of Abraham. After Abraham’s two offspring, the Jews and Muslims go in different directions, and after Jesus (essentially the New Testament) the Jews and Christians go in different directions. Interestingly other long-time religions such as Buddhism had many of the same admonitions and advice that I found in the Bible. Many parallels. “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you,” is just one of these parallel admonitions.
So Jesus was a real person after all, indeed our very calendar is split based upon His birth. Next step was to see what people said about Him. Probably the most striking historical account was that all of the apostles except for John died a horrific death for holding to the account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. These were eyewitnesses who instead of accepting torture and inevitable death could have denied the events and saved their lives. Apparently holding to the truth of their convictions, supported by their witness, was the better choice than denying what became of Jesus two thousand years ago. Our own system of jurisprudence would authenticate the veracity of these claims the apostles made.
I spent many years searching, questioning, checking, doubting, verifying. I finally came to my own conclusion. God is — and Jesus was — the only begotten Son of God, coming in the flesh for no other purpose than to die for our sins so we could be reconciled back to our Creator and spend eternity with Him. I would challenge anyone to read the Bible, cover to cover, all 66 books written by roughly 40 authors from Genesis through Revelation. If you will do so and then still reject Jesus as Savior, I defer to you and have nothing but respect for the views you hold.