God 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 stunned.

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 least.

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'.

BUT,

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 sources!

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 and why'!!

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 eventual 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 delusions....

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."