Monday, February 17, 2020

From the Heart: The Story of My Journey from Atheism to Christianity

Here's a response my brother sent after my post last week:

~~~
I just read your post, and it sounds like you're really passionate about the intelligent design debate. I'm excited for you, but honestly, that debate doesn't spark anything for me.

There were a few points where I went "Nooo! He's missing the point!" and a couple others where I thought, "Woah, that's powerful and interesting," but I'm okay with not knowing the answer to the question, "Why are we here?"

I'm more interested in things that are personal. I want to hear the emotional basis of an argument--otherwise I'm not sure why I should care. What have these thoughts meant for your everyday life recently? How have your discoveries uncovered beauty and joy?

But what I'm really interested in is your story!! You've never told me, nor shared a written story with me about your journey from atheism to Christianity. It seems like you might be ashamed of it, which I can understand because [we both had an ex-Christian upbringing and you think] I want to judge you for it. I just want to know you better.

So, I'm very excited that you're putting your story in your next book, and I hope to be able to read it before it's released! Good luck with your writing, and don't be afraid of showing a little emotion in it--you're not a philosopher anymore, you don't have to abide by their rules!
~~~

I've received several reactions to my post, most positive. This one, though also very positive, was one of the more critical ones, and I took three important things away from it. First, it confirms for me that the personal part of what I want to say, the part that comes from the heart, that tells the emotional details of my journey, is indispensable. My last post, I realize, neglected this, and did much more to introduce my intellectual philosophy than my personal story. Second, it brought out a misconception that I should have expected, a perception that my reticence to share is based on shame. In fact I am not at all ashamed of my story! I'm eager to share it; it is just difficult to explain. Finally, it emphasizes the importance of talking about how my faith has transformed my day-to-day life. Much of this is private, for reasons of modesty, but not all of it has to be, and it's important for non-theists to understand how much joy a relationship with God can bring.

My response is below. A few too-personal parts were removed for this public version, but it is still very personal.

~~~

The story of how I went from atheism to Christianity is not a short one. It extends from my experience as a senior in college, to my realizations just over a year ago, with several stages along the way. I'm interested to know what parts of the story you most want to understand. I'm definitely not ashamed of it. If anything the source of my reticence has been my struggle with pride, as I'll try to describe.

I'm writing this out of a desire to communicate these things to you, especially on an emotional level, as you asked about. It will help me, I'm thinking, if I can try to give an overview of the story, and then you can ask for elaboration on the parts that you find most puzzling or interesting. I know this is sort of a long email, but it'll be shorter than sending you even just the personal chapters of my book, which have grown to about 100 pages, and will probably be close to 200 by the time I've finished this draft.

When I was a senior in college (2004), I had my first mystical experience, a vision of God, what I should call my "epiphany." In certain ways it was the most powerful of my experiences. Before that I was basically agnostic, though I called myself atheist because I leaned that way. Since that experience I have known that a personal God exists, with only very brief periods of doubt.

It's hard to summarize my epiphany, especially in terms of emotions. But I'll try.

Prior to it, I was all over the place, mood-wise. The initial euphoria of going to Caltech had worn off, especially as I had realized that the quest to unify General Relativity and Quantum Mechanisms (also known as the search for the Theory of Everything) was not something they were really preparing me for, nor was I the best equipped to undertake it (there were much better physicists around), nor was it what I really wanted out of life. So I think my predominant mood, from 2001-2003, was one of mild depression. In short, my pride had been crushed. I stuck with physics because it was the most "prestigious," I was good enough at it, and it still seemed the most philosophical of sciences.

It was also depressing because I didn't have much of a love life. The gender ratio was 2:1 and there just weren't many dating opportunities.

What little free time I had I spent largely either drinking with friends or in the library. [...]

I started to get into poetry, philosophy, literature, and "complexity science." Complexity science is the attempt to take mathematical methods from physics and use them to understand complex systems like human society, evolution, or ecosystems. Chaos theory has been a notable success in this direction. Famous scientists like Stuart Kauffman and Stephen Wolfram were claiming that they were on track to discovering a unified "Theory of Complexity," a kind of physics you could apply to any system. Most scientists thought (and still think) they are a bit crazy, but I thought it was fascinating what they had achieved, and I even took a few classes on it offered by a couple of the more daring professors on campus.

I know maybe this all sounds cerebral and impersonal, but I guess to be honest I take theories and abstractions very personally. This was even more true back then. And in truth I somehow stumbled on a very heady combination of ideas and friends that started leading down a wildly mystical path. In 2003 I started getting high with some of my friends while talking about deep things. This started the whole experience snowballing, and my ceaseless contemplations eventually led to swinging moods, racing thoughts, and what the doctors called a "manic episode."

Though, to begin with, it wasn't really a manic episode, because it was very isolated. Before and since then I've only had a few experiences anything like it, and that's not at all how a truly manic psychosis is supposed to work.

It was a mentally and spiritually chaotic time for me, prior to the epiphany. It was definitely a breakdown. I would not recommend the path of mysticism I took in those years to anyone else. As I see it, it was God who rescued me from total annihilation. It was only when the love of God shone through and brought peace and reverence -- that is, holy fear -- back into my soul that I began to rebuild my mind from its shattered pieces. So if somebody wants to claim that my vision of God was a kind of pipe-dream, merely the product of a fevered imagination, I must firmly disagree. Sure, I had many fevered visions in those days, but that this vision of Eternity rescued my mind from total chaos was a miracle of the most profound sort that I will always be grateful for. I don't think anything short of God could have accomplished the turn-around I experienced.

If you want to know more details about that experience, let me know. In the book I'm working on I have several more pages on this, and I'm happy to elaborate as much as you want. It was a personal experience, sure, and very "triggering" for years, but at this point in my life I've faced down the demons I encountered back then, and I don't mind talking about it, not in the least. But for now I guess I'll move on so I can finish my overview.

The next phase of my life, as I said, was theistic, but I kept delving into Nietzscheanism and I guess I still toyed with a kind of materialistic relativism. My mental and spiritual life, though less chaotic than before, was quite a mess. I was on medication, went to counseling, and as you know developed certain personal relationships that I'm not proud of.

Not that a lot of other grad students in philosophy weren't pretty much in the same boat. Modern philosophy is very different from ancient philosophy; now they tout it as a form of tradition-destruction, and as I see it now, this kind of wanton spiritual demolition leads nowhere fruitful. But I guess I'm digressing.

I was pretty much back to being mildly depressed most of the time, 2004-2009. It's hard to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, doctors telling you you have a 30% chance of careening into a permanent mania of racing thoughts and some mixed state of black mania that almost always ends in suicide. Anxiety and fear was a part of my day-to-day for years. I figured I would be on anti-psychotic medication the rest of my life, and that this was better than the alternative.

And these were no "happy pills" I was taking either. High doses of Seroquel, despite what they tell you, never get easier to take. What happens after you take your pill--always at night--is that you start feeling a pressure on your chest, and then your sinuses and your windpipe start to contract (at least that what it feels like) and it starts seeming like you've got cotton balls stuffed in the front of your brain. Your thoughts stop cohering and become a muddle of sharp impressions that last for a second, then are absorbed back into the cottonballs. I'm struggling to describe it but the point is it's horrible. You keep hoping that your leaden, dreamless sleep will begin so you can wake up in the morning and think again. The inability to string together reasons will sometimes lead to severe anxiety attacks, heart pounding like it is going to explode, and for those there was no cure but to get out of bed and pace. Around midnight or later, the medication would mercifully wear off enough so that I could read Aristotle to help bore me back to sleep, and actually have some dreams. Generally I would sleep 9.5 hours a night, any less and I would be too groggy to function. The hangovers from Seroquel were unremittingly bad, but having a nightmare while on it was probably the most terrifying part.

My doctors kept telling me to increase the dosage, but I kept trying to titrate it down. But after trapping down I would have a round of flashback nightmares that they claimed would act as "triggers" and I would have to increase the dosage again. I hated this cycle but I held on to at least a sliver of hope that my case would prove different and I would eventually get off meds and be cured of my psychosis. Technically, psychoses are supposed to be incurable. This would lead to the second major miracle of my life, in 2009, when I discovered the power of prayer and got off my medication.

Most importantly, between 2004 and 2009, the root of my spiritual sickness remained, with almost as much strength as before. As a physicist I had wanted to find the Theory of Everything, and then the Theory of Complexity. As a philosopher I wanted to be the next Great Philosopher. My pride and arrogance were largely untouched--they had just found new targets. What I find amazing is that while everyone around me, and most books and articles I read, and even my favorite philosopher--Nietzsche--only encouraged this aim of being The Wisest, God was subtly growing a more humble part of myself, a part that really just wanted to know the truth. Darwinism wanted me to put a theory out there that would spread, to create ideas that would be "fit" and replicate themselves super well. But then, somehow, a humbler part of myself knew that even on Darwinian assumptions, only a sincere love of truth, of finding the truth and expressing the truth, would lead to anything that lasted. And I came to realize too, as I read the ancient philosophers whose ideas had survived so long, that the most eternal ideas didn't belong to the men who wrote them down at all, but were really just a part of Eternity. If eternal ideas belonged to anyone at all, it was God.

It impressed me that the ancients realized this, that in fact ancient philosophy (what had survived) was most interested in virtue and what it means to live a moral, good, and just life. This is what Socrates spent all his time thinking about -- the man that to this day is still considered the greatest philosopher! The man who said he only knew that he did not know. And what is also fascinating reading the ancient Greek philosophers is that they often spoke of God and striving to join Him after death. This from sages in a culture that believed in many gods and had no real notion of heaven. But Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other great polytheistic philosophers came to these eternal ideas through pure reason.

It gave me hope and comfort to find this. Modern philosophy, it seemed to me, was mostly pointless technicalities. I've talked about this on my blog and I elaborate in the current draft of my book. But you know what I mean. Academia is largely dry, overly specialized, and too career-oriented. It rarely gets back to the real ancient questions of virtue, not even in philosophy departments.

It was during this time that I conceived of the argument I give in Progress Debunked. Seeing that philosophy hadn't progressed since ancient times, and had in fact regressed in some ways, and that science was doing little to address what really matters in life, I came to question the whole modern idea that more modern is better. This is important for my story because all of the connected ideas I started to have-- the value of family, the value of tradition, the value of morality-- all of these "more conservative" ideas I would find elaborated on and explained in detail in the Bible. Rejecting modern "liberal" ideas, going back to tradition, I found myself primed to hear what the Bible was trying to say, what religion is really--at least in its better moments--all about.

By 2009, I had read the Bible all the way through, as well as other religious texts like the Bhagavad Gita and parts of the Qur’an. I know there's this picture in modern society of what these books say, that they're judgmental and threatening and full of hellfire. But I found out that if you read them with an open mind you will find a great deal of comfort and courage in them. The Bible isn't one long argument for why you should go to church. [...] What it does have is a commandment to rest on Sundays. I love that commandment. It's brought me, like I said, comfort and not fear. In fact I found that as I started to follow the Ten Commandments more closely in my life, that my freedom actually increased by leaps and bounds. Like the rules of logic, the laws of God actually open doors.

Late 2009 was one of my more transformative periods. I knew I needed tradition in my life, and I knew I needed religion of some kind. My skepticism of modernism had extended to psychology itself, and I wanted to get out of the whole mental health system, which had started to seem more like a prison. So, as I said, as I started to try to live by the word of God, suddenly doors opened up. My nightmares started going away, replaced by revelatory dreams that helped me understand my relationship to God better. (I talk about these on my blog, and in my new book to an extent.) I started praying, my dosages went way down, eventually to zero, and I even had my bipolar diagnosis reversed by a professional. (So officially, I never was bipolar to begin with.) Soon after this I met Emily. My desire for a family seemed to really excite her and this has led to the wonderful life I enjoy now.

I realize that none of this should have been possible. It was a miracle. All it took was that "mustard seed" of faith I had in God, as Jesus talked about. And since that time, even though for years I prayed without really knowing whether God literally answered prayers, or if it was just good for you "psychologically," my faith has slowly grown. Meeting Emily was a miracle too. We both believe this. We'd both dated random people for years and met no one even close to the right one. Life is too complex, the human experience is full of too much chaos, for there not to be a Divine hand helping it along. I have been blessed in my life, and I am very grateful for it, in fact I don't think I deserve it at all. It was purely God's grace, as Paul speaks about in his letters. It was out of my darkest times that God lifted me. It was not by any power that I possess. And if anything I write now makes people wiser or touches them, I know it is not by my own power that such wisdom reaches them. I know that I am only an instrument. If I had been left to my own devices I would have become some Nietzschean monster, logically demanding everyone to bow to my superior reason, leading them all to nowhere in particular. Now I realize that the only worthy goal, the only worthwhile guide, is the infinite goodness, love, and mercy of God.

I know I've skipped ahead a bit here. Again, 2009 was another key moment in my journey. The next period was my "philosophical Christian" years, from 2010 to late 2018. During this time I believed in a personal God, and I believed in aspiring to the kind of virtue taught in the Bible, but paradoxically I was not convinced that things like miracles could happen. You would think that my experiences would have been enough, but they were not. I was still so steeped in rational skepticism that I could not bring myself to believe that, for example, Moses had really parted the Red Sea. How I finally have come to believe this, I have been trying to explain in my most recent posts. But I guess you are right that I keep getting into abstractions and philosophizing and I've largely missed the personal part.

I guess the difference with this most recent realization is that the personal part came afterwards, after I had my abstract realization that miracles happen. In fact, it is still developing. [Note: Emily has asked me to share the following part on my blog.] Emily is still more skeptical than I am. Her skepticism doesn't stem from "science" but more from her negative experiences in organized religion, which she feels makes unrealistic demands of perfection.

We agree quite a lot about the problems with organized religion. I've tried going to a few Christian churches but I've never found anything that felt right for my needs or my family's. But I have started to more earnestly teach our children the Christian tradition and read one chapter of the Bible a day with them, and discuss it. Teaching my family this way has been a very rewarding experience. We do not force the Spirit, but let it descend on us when It wills, sometimes discussing eternal topics, sometimes being moved to sing hymns.

Jesus said that when you pray you should not pray in public but in your room with the door closed. So that's what I do. He said that when you give to charity to do it in secret so that your right hand doesn't know what your left hand is doing. So that is what I do. All the sins he accused the Pharisees of, I see done by modern religious leaders. So I do not follow them. He said "Judge not, lest you be judged." So I do not judge any way of worshiping the Creator, nor withhold Christian fellowship based on denomination, but recognize all believers as equal in Christ.

Yet he also said, "Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ." Part of what makes it so hard to express myself is that I don't want to set myself up as a teacher. Yet I also feel that if I don't try to share what wisdom I've been given, I am not following Christ's commandment to make use of my "talent." (Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

It is a fine line I walk, and I've recently realized that it is too fine to walk by my own light. So I am constantly praying that I can be guided to do God's will as he wills it without being prideful. This is part of the reason so many of the blog posts I've written have never made it to the web recently. I keep realizing that many of them are nothing more than an exercise in arrogance.

I've been reading a lot of the early history of Christianity recently. It gives me comfort because Roman times were much like modern times. The early Christians were pacifists and completely nonjudgmental, very Christlike in every way. It inspires me to see how they quietly protested against decadence and sin by simply not participating. When they were killed it was usually because they refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods. I find it incredibly inspiring that someone could be that brave. Many Roman soldiers were converted just upon seeing their courage in facing death.

In fact it was pondering this history in late 2018 that I first started believing in miracles. It wasn't any one account that convinced me. It was the full weight of the historical revolution. How could a sect devoted to peace, kindness, and self-sacrifice, willing and ready for martyrdom, preaching sexual abstinence and meek humility, appealing more to slaves than to rulers, AND believing in miracles, God, and the afterlife, ever have managed to grow as fast as it did? On Darwinian principles it's impossible. I calculated that if Christianity was no fitter than the alternatives, the probability of it growing so fast was far less than 1 in a googol. This realization left me physically shaken. All the hypotheses that our reality is a "computer simulation" rushed back into my head, making me realize that it was far more plausible that our reality was designed to evolve beings who believe in God, that answered prayers might really be part of the program.

Emotionally, the realization was euphoric. "Gospel" is really Old English for "good news." I realized that it was not only possible that Jesus came to bring the message of eternal life after this simulation was over, but highly probable, given all the facts.

It has been hard not to let this realization go to my head. I realize that everyone is on a different journey, that God's plan is different for each person, that each of us are special in a unique way, and that even our worst and most sinful mistakes, from an eternal perspective, are ways for us to learn. Jesus blesses those who are humble, because it is those who are humble who do not give in to the subtle selfishness of pride, which I think is rightly called the father of all sins. This is what I've been mostly struggling with. I need to share the good news, but I can't be setting up myself as a teacher. Only Jesus can teach.

On a day to day level, my newfound faith has brought indescribable joy, in almost every way. I know it's cliche but every sunset and sunrise is more beautiful now, everything in nature, and even man-made things show the hand of God. For example I recently started reading Tocqueville's Democracy in America, and when he said he believed only Providence could explain the appearance of Democracy in the modern world and all its freedom, I knew exactly what he meant. I see how even the worst experiences are ultimately for the best. I see God now in everything, especially in other people--my children, my wife, my friends, and everyone I meet, in every conversation I have. None of this is burdensome, but incredibly liberating. It inspires everything I do, from trying to be a better employee, to being a better writer, to being a better father and friend.

[...]

~~~

I’ve been working on an expanded version of this story in my book, which as I said will be about half about my journey, and half philosophy, in alternating chapters. It will stretch back to my childhood, and extend to the present as well. Several people have asked me for this story, both family and friends, and I look forward to finally writing it down in its entirety.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Reason Why Reason Exists

I would like to finally give an update on what Ive been thinking about and working on. Id also like to raise a few questions that I think are worth pondering—especially concerning the whole modern religion vs. science debate—and to introduce some arguments that Ive found compelling.

Its been over nine months since my last post, which Ive deleted. Its been over a year since Ive substantially posted. Its not that I havent been thinking and writing as much as before, but rather, that every time I have sat down to write a post Ive found myself unable to do justice to what Im thinking about.

I know from several conversations that my last few posts have tended to raise more questions about what my views are than they have answered. This reflects, in a way, my own state of mind. Never have I had so many doubts as Ive had over the past year or two— but at the same time I venture to say that my faith has never been stronger. (Because how is it possible to doubt anything without being that much more certain of your grounds for doubt? What is doubt of one thing caused by but certainty of another?)

~~~

What if it turned out that we lived in a world where the Theory of Everything was not only easy to understand, but also easy to explain to anyone with an open mind? What if the Meaning of Life isnt something discovered through obscure physics equations or complex philosophical ruminations, but rather a fairly obvious truth about why were here and where this world came from?

Many today would laugh at this notion, and they might say, Please, take me to such a world; it sounds much better than our confusing situation here!

But others would argue that we actually are in such a world. In fact, the majority of the worlds population believes we are. If you asked them why were here in this reality they would tell you. If you asked them what will happen after you die, they would have ready answers. And this has been true since the dawn of human thinking.

Youve caught on by now that Im talking about religion. If you tend toward skepticism maybe youre annoyed. Maybe you would argue that even though most people think they know the truth, they are very far indeed from the truth, having based their beliefs on ancient superstitions without any scientific support, superstitions, you would argue, that have led mankind massively astray, again and again.

Lets assume for a moment that the idea that God created the universe is a valid hypothesis. And for the sake of argument, lets pretend that the purely scientific view and the religious one are equally likely. It would follow that the best explanation for why most people believe that our reality is created by God is that God created our reality. Because God being infinitely wise, would know how to create a world where most people know how and why they exist. So you would expect a world created by God to be a lot like ours, at least in the respect of producing so much consensus that God exists. On the other hand, if there were no God, then how would the forces of natural selection countenance the vast majority of humankind being so massively deluded?

All things considered, I find this to be a very powerful argument for the substantial truth of most religious ideas. If religion is just an assortment of random superstitious beliefs, why are beliefs in a Higher Power, a higher reality (heaven), in an afterlife, and in anti-Darwinian self-sacrifice, all so ubiquitous? Why are people willing to give their lives for the sake of such beliefs?

Oh, I know the counterarguments. (I was raised on some of them.) Religion is a tool to control the masses. It binds tribes together so they can fight other tribes. Belief in an afterlife lets people sacrifice their lives for the tribe, so that Darwinian selection works on tribes and not individuals. Belief in the ultimate truth makes people loyal. Belief in unique supernatural notions gives a tribe common ground and makes it feel like something special and worth defending.

Incidentally, these arguments are most common in Darwinian books about human evolution, for example Sapiens and The Social Conquest of Earth, which have entire chapters on them. But what is interesting about such chapters written by such Darwinian atheists (like Richard Dawkins and E.O. Wilson) is that they almost never offer any scientific evidence for their assertions that all religion is false. What they tend to do is throw these statements in there, mixed up with a bunch of unrelated studies. Why do these scientists make assertions without proof? Because, in the end, they dont take the religious hypothesis seriously. What possible study could disprove God, they ask? The hypothesis of God is untestable and absurd, they believe. So they dont even try. This is considered (by them) common sense. And the vast majority of people, who consider Gods existence common sense, are dismissed as non-intellectuals—as part of the deluded herd.

This is a real problem. It means that the science-religion debate is dead. Its been killed by closed-mindedness.

Lets look at a couple of examples that Ive run into over the past year.

Bart Ehrmans How Jesus Became God attempts to explain the rise of Christianity as a form of myth-making. On the debate over whether Jesuss empty tomb (attested in several eyewitness accounts) proves his resurrection, he offers several alternative explanations (for example that his followers simply moved the body), admitting that none of them are very satisfactory:

“I dont subscribe to any of these alternative views because I dont think we know what happened to the body of Jesus. But simply looking at the matter from a historical point of view, any of these views is more plausible than the claim that God raised Jesus physically from the dead. A resurrection would be a miracle and as such would defy all probability. Otherwise, it wouldnt be a miracle. To say that an event that defies probability is more probable than something that is simply improbable is to fly in the face of anything that involves probability. Of course, its not likely that someone innocently moved the body, but theres nothing inherently improbable about it. (p. 165)

This is a flagrant example of begging the question, grotesquely anti-logical, if you think about it. He does not question for a moment the atheistic dogma that miracles are astronomically unlikely. But from a religious point of view, even though miracles are rare, they still have a significant chance to occur. And when youre talking about arguably the greatest moral teacher ever to grace mankind, namely Jesus, miracles are no longer improbable but become highly probable, since you would expect an all-powerful God to make his presence known as appropriate.

Most anti-theistic arguments in modern literature devolve into such question-begging. They assume they are right without even considering the counterarguments.

E.O. Wilsons The Social Conquest of Earth, is full of examples of this. On page 259:

“The illogic of religions is not a weakness in them, but their essential strength. Acceptance of the bizarre creation myths binds the members together.

That religious beliefs about creation are bizarre myths is assumed without argument. The illogic of religion is never shown. E.O. Wilson himself offers a non sequitur here. Exactly what about a bizarre lie is necessary to bind a tribe together? This is assumed, also, in the book Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, but Ive never seen a good argument for why it should be true. Schools of fish and flocks of birds do not need bizarre beliefs to hang together. Chimpanzees do not need lies to go to war against other chimpanzees. And atheists, if they are telling the truth, are dooming themselves to be forever sundered from society— that is if social bonds require lies.

Nor are bizarre myths sufficient for binding people together, assuming that the major religions are bizarre myths. Wars between Christians and Christians, Muslims and Muslims, and Buddhists and Buddhists have occurred throughout history. Even in tribal societies, tribes with substantially the same beliefs go to war all the time. The whole argument evaporates the more closely you look at it.

But how would you get people to work together and not be selfish without the prospect of heaven or the threat of hell? This is another of those notions thats been repeated so many times its started to sound plausible. But it also fails to account for nice atheists or cruel believers. And the whole mechanism it proposes for making people cooperate is superfluous.

Let me try to explain this by way of an example. Say you were developing robot able to ride a bike. You would need to give it circuits for keeping its balance, right? You would probably program them something like this:

-IF you start leaning left, THEN turn the handlebars right.
-IF you start leaning right, THEN turn the handlebars left.

You would NOT program it like this:

-IF you start leaning left, THEN gnomes live in the clouds.
-IF gnomes live in the clouds, THEN turn the handlebars right.
-IF you start leaning right, THEN unicorns live underground.
-IF unicorns live underground, THEN turn the handlebars left.

That would be pointless. If you programmed like this all the time it would make your code slower, harder to debug, and more prone to error. You would never teach your child to ride this way. Why then, if evolution wanted to make us nicer to each other, did it not just work on our pre-existing instincts for being nice, rather than this whole elaborate cultural belief system that (supposedly) causes war and ignorance and confusion? After all, chimpanzees are able to cooperate and show compassion to each other, and they have no notion of an afterlife at all. So the instinct already exists as part of our heritage as primates. Therefore it is ridiculous to argue that religion only exists to promote kindness, which even contradicts the usual atheistic mantra that belief in God is not necessary for morality.

I do have faith that God can help you to become a more moral person. But I dont think this makes any sense of how the belief in God evolved, if God is a lie. Because there are much easier ways to become a better person than to pray to a god that doesnt exist and cant answer prayers. The only way to explain—on the survival-of-the-fittest view—why so many people have prayed so fervently throughout history, is that prayers are answered.

~~~

“At that time Jesus said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’”
-Matthew 11:25

Proving the existence of God in a simple and valid way is is not difficult. What makes it seem difficult is arguing with a well-trained atheist, anyone well-versed in high-brow atheism, who has many convincing fallacies ready at hand to confuse the issue. Atheists are uncommon in America today, but at the most elite universities, they predominate among professors.

Ive been reading their books now for twenty years, but Ive never yet encountered a sound argument that God doesnt exist. At best, Ive run into only very convoluted ones.

The easiest way to see God is to look at nature. The forests of our planet are beautiful and vibrant, full of life, meaning, and purpose. The stars in the sky are glorious in their simple, shining beauty. The human form, and the human intellect, formed by nature for nobility and reason, are beyond compare in their balanced and harmonious intricacy; as are all the ecosystems of our planet, even taken together as a whole living system, spinning endlessly in the generous glow of our star for its billions upon billions of quiet years orbiting the Milky Ways dangerous and fertile galactic center.

Very far indeed is this world from that proposed by the materialist. Ours is no conglomerate formed of atoms randomly colliding in a chaotic void. All the life on earth is no chance effusion of replicating, arbitrary forms, searching blindly in the space of all possible monstrosities. Each human brain is no arbitrary combination of influences, without soul or purpose or desire for truth, without life, robotic, nor some mixture of computational program and buggy noise. No, our world does have meaning and beauty, even if there is ugliness too.

Such realizations suffice for most people, as they should. Though Ive tried to express them poetically, they are simple and direct. When we look at the static on a old-fashioned TV screen, that is chaos. When we look at the world around us, we do not see chaos. Our world is obviously designed.

It takes all kinds of convoluted contortions of reason and evidence to force our world to appear moldless, some godless, Darwinian chaos. Yet this is what modern intellectuals have largely succeeded at.

I do not mean to impugn science, not in its purity as a search for the truth. Nor do I mean to deny that our world is billions of years old, nor that many or most organisms share common descent from a few primeval organisms. There is good evidence for some of these claims, and not much evidence against others. But we should not confuse disputes about how a watch operates from disputes over why the watch exists.

Why, when Newton discovered the Law of Gravity, did everyone admit its beauty as Gods handiwork? And why, when Darwin discovered the Law of Natural Selection, did everyone not admit its beauty as Gods handiwork?

This is a very long discussion, actually, and Ill leave most of it for my book Im working on. But let me just say this: Ive programmed evolutionary algorithms, computer programs that improve themselves by natural selection. And its not easy. If it were, all of our programs would be evolutionary. Heck, if computer programs could just evolve on their own, without guidance, I would be out of a job.

And youre telling me that our world, which evolved us, the most wondrously intricate beings in existence, evolved without guidance?

Every theist, college-educated or not, knows how to refute Darwinism. Look, its designed! Everything else is just endless hairsplitting.

~~~

I myself was an atheist for seven years, starting in high school and up until I graduated with my physics degree. I was not an atheist out of defiance or rebellion, not entirely. It just seemed to me, based on how the world works, how everything turns out to work according to the laws of physics, that anything supernatural was unnecessary and unlikely.

When I look back on the atheistic revolution in my thinking, it was not caused by any one argument, but by my gradual absorption of the atheistic worldview of the science books I read and television shows I watched. It wasnt like I went and read a manifesto on atheism one day and became a convert. It was a lot of things: science fiction and futurism on TV, popular books about string theory and black holes, articles and books about dinosaurs and evolution, and skeptical arguments concerning UFOs and ghosts. There was an underlying assumption, it seemed, a part of being adult and evidence-minded, that rejected theories that didnt put matter or atoms at the bottom of all explanations, or that believed life on earth to be anything but insignificant and unremarkable.

In calling myself an atheist I was trying to be honest. But there was another component too, which Ive mentioned earlier. While I was growing up my parents left the religion they were part of, and they had many criticisms to make of organized religion. Blind belief makes you follow your leaders without questioning. It leads to gullibility and oppression.

On the assumption that the vast majority of people in world are delusional, people tend to think that the world is a result of chance, and that when we can understand it, its by luck and not design. By choosing the purely scientific worldview, I saw myself as defying this chaos. The world was a pool of random opinions based on feeling and chance (religion) and I was going to find what order there was in the world and hang on to it (science).

It didnt occur to me (though this is easy to see) that belief in God is not a form of oppression at all, and in fact helps one fight against oppression. Jewish and Christian martyrs in every age have demonstrated this, not only under oppression by Rome, but under medieval rulers, under absolute monarchs, and under the intense oppression of Nazism and Communism. (Defending Identity by Natan Sharansky gives one personal account of this in modern times.) It is absurd to equate religion with oppression when it is obvious that the tyrants doing the oppressing have always been extraordinarily greedy, cruel, atheistic, and un-Christlike, even when they have called themselves followers of Christ.

But I had absorbed all these notions that God was unprovable. I had convinced myself that all the apparent design in the world—living things, the motions of the sun and moon and stars, mountains and rivers and oceans—are all just the result of chance combinations of atoms obeying the laws of physics.

I had convinced myself that everything that seemed designed in the world wasnt designed. Even everything that humans had made, from computers to rockets, were products of the human mind, which was itself a product of blind evolution.

As I was pondering all this as a teenager, a Christian on an online forum about science and religion suggested I read a book by an intelligent design theorist, Michael Behe: Darwins Black Box. I read this alongside Richard Dawkinss The Blind Watchmaker. I was determined to have an open mind and come to the most reasoned conclusion. And back then it seemed to me that it was the arguments that Behe the ID theorist made that were the most convoluted.

Michael Behe is a biochemist, and over the course of his studies he has come across a number of molecules in bacteria and in cells that are just too complex to have arisen by small, incremental steps as required in Darwinian evolution by natural selection. For him, this proves that God must have somehow either preprogrammed DNA to be able to produce these molecules, perhaps at the origin of life, or perhaps over the course of evolution.

Darwins theory relies crucially on the gradual accumulation of changes for one species to evolve into another. If it turned out that the human eye was too complex to evolve, step by step, from no eye at all, then even Darwin would have admitted that his theory couldnt work. Since then, attempt after attempt has been made to show that some feature we have couldnt arise step-by-step. Behes it seemed, was the latest and most cutting-edge.

Dawkins argument, it seemed to me, was simply better. It was more open-minded; it was broader and more comprehensive. He pointed out that just because we couldnt imagine how a given structure could arise step-by-step, didnt mean that there wasnt some way it could happen. For a long time people had claimed that eyes couldnt evolve, but many finely-graded forms of eyes, from the simplest—a collection of light sensitive cells—to the most complex could be seen in nature. (At the same time, he was uncharitable toward his theistic opponents at almost every opportunity. For example in the Introduction: In most cases, they know deep down what to believe because their parents recommended an ancient book that tells them what to believe.")

So I rejected Intelligent Design theory. It all seemed to rely on the existence of certain obscure molecules that very few people understood to begin with. (And implicitly on an ancient book full of myths.)

The apparent dominance of atheism in the debate over evolution is based on nothing more than a brilliantly subtle narrowing of admissible evidence down to a tiny speck of possible cases, all too complex and ill-understood to really debate—most importantly, the origin of life, and the origin of certain complex molecules. Everything else in evolution, it has apparently been conceded, could be the result of the chance operation of natural selection.

Why creationists have conceded so much without protest baffles me more, the more I think about it. The point of theism isnt to believe that there is a convenient supernatural being who just happens to come down in rare cases when evolution gets stuck trying to create the next most complex molecule. If God wanted to make his existence known to us, it shouldnt take a PhD in biochemistry to get the message.

Gods handiwork should be visible in every realm of nature. Surely it is apparent both in the very simple (the laws of physics for example) and in the very complex (such as the human mind). My point is that the only reason that ID theorists are forced to address such convoluted cases is that they face a very convoluted opponent.

Its not that Behe makes a wrong argument for the existence of God. Its not even that his argument is too complex. Its that he doesnt also mention innumerable simple arguments. This is actually the biggest problem with ID theory, though most people dont realize it because too few people read it. (I do highly recommend Meyers Signature in the Cell, an extremely erudite and philosophical work, and fun too read. And if youre interested in evolutionary algorithms and like difficult mathematical equations, Dembskis co-authored Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics is full of entertainingly brilliant, if unnecessarily obscure, theistic arguments.)

All this technical debate can be fun (for some of us) but lets get back to the basics. Richard Dawkinss title The Blind Watchmaker is, quite simply, self-refuting. Its a simple oxymoron. Darwins On the Origin of Species, too, is about anything but the origin of species. If you think Im being facetious or overly hairsplitting, take a minute to think these titles over with me. Because the entire Darwinian argument is simply a brilliant piece of Orwellian doublethink, and I want people to start seeing this.

On page 5 Dawkins writes:

“Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no minds eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.

Okay, so natural selection is undirected hes saying, right? It leads organisms here and there in the space of all possible organisms, with no goal in mind. Drunkenly, blindly, it simply wanders. Got it. But how then could it follow that natural selection would lead to something even apparently purposeful? Of course, it is the purpose of books like Dawkinss to help us to see how such blindness could act as if it could see.

Consciously or unconsciously, such obfuscation is achieved by atheists confusing the role of chance in evolution. Theists like to ask, But how could chance lead to something so well-designed? Atheists respond, Its not chance, its natural selection.

But if natural selection is blind, how is it not chance?

There are two kinds of chance being confused here.

The first kind of chance is chance mutations. This is when the DNA of an organism changes as the result of being damaged. Darwinists and creationists alike agree that mutations, if they make a difference, are usually harmful, possibly fatal. It is very rare that DNA will change in such as way as to make an organism more fit than before.

This is where Darwinists jump in to make their argument. Thanks to natural selection, they say, organisms that get beneficial mutations have more children, and thus beneficial mutations can build up over time, leading to complex things like eyes.

The second kind of chance is what this argument sweeps under the rug. Its the fact that natural selection is the result of the environment you happen to live in. Natural selection is blind because your environment has no idea—on the atheistic view—what kind of structure it should favor next.

An example might help here. Say youve got some worms living in the ocean with eye spots. Their environment hasnt changed for a million years, so they are optimally adapted. Any mutant offspring die out because they are less fit. This includes offspring with deeper eye wells, which could give them better visual perception but which do no good because they block out a little too much light.

Lets say their environment changes. Now there is more light, allowing for deeper eye wells and more precision, another step to complex eyes! And the mutation happens again, and this time it spreads through the population. Evolution, it seems, has taken another step forward.

According to Darwins theory, this step was taken blindly. It other words, it could just as easily have gone the other way. We know of cave organisms, in fact, that have lost their eyes by natural selection. Every step forward, if were talking about a blind walk through possibility space, is more easily a step backward.

The question that Darwinists consistently dodge answering is how chance — in the second sense of the blindness of the watchmaker — could have progressively taken all the steps to the human eye in all its complexity without taking still more backward steps.

Any step toward greater complexity is always much more unlikely than a step away from it. For example, to make use of eyes you also need nerves to a brain wired to interpret their signals. Its all in the coordination of parts. Its much more likely that a random force of selection will eliminate something complex and costly to maintain, than favor it. So each step forward in the evolution of eyes, because there a more things that can go wrong — bad lenses, bad receptors, bad transmission, bad processing in the brain — is much less likely than than the corresponding step backward.

Dawkins on this point (p. 41):

“[T]here is the familar, and I have to say rather irritating, confusion of natural selection with randomness. Mutation is random; natural selection is the very opposite of random.

Opposite of random? But its blind! Its like telling someone to drop you in the desert at random, blindfolded, without a map. Youre going to walk toward the nearest sound of water. You claim, furthermore, that by this method you will tend to find gradually bigger and better sources of fresh water. Someone argues that without a map, wandering a random, youre not guaranteed to find any water, let alone the best sources of water. Your response? Well Im not wandering at random, Im following the sound of water!

Theres absolutely no reason to think that blind natural selection, without a map, even working over billions of years, would produce anything complex at all. All it would tend to produce, assuming it could even get started, is organisms better at replicating faster. And bacteria can replicate a thousand times faster than humans. Thats a huge fitness disadvantage to overcome. It means that most evolutionary steps from bacterium to human decreased the fitness of the species. Its like saying its easy to get to a mountaintop—all you have to do is roll downhill!

Dawkinss doublethink goes all the way to the end of his book. Im sorry this passage is so obscure, but if you think carefully about it I think youll see the contradiction in the heart of his thinking:

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. The essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale. Whatever is the explanation for life, therefore, it cannot be chance. The true explanation for the existence of life must embody the very antithesis of chance. The antithesis of chance is nonrandom survival, properly understood. Nonrandom survival, improperly understood, is not the antithesis of chance, it is chance itself. There is a continuum connecting these two extremes, and it is the continuum from single-step evolution to cumulative selection. Single-step evolution is just another way of saying pure chance. This is what I mean by nonrandom survival improperly understood. Cumulative selection, by slow and gradual degrees, is the explanation, the only workable explanation, that has ever been proposed, for the existence of lifes complex design.

Dawkins thus hides the crux of the matter in a convoluted philosophical analysis of chance that is superfluous and that presents itself as more logical than it is.

Dawkins reasoning doesnt work at all here, even on the face of it. If single-step evolution is pure chance, then so is cumulative evolution. You dont get nonrandomness by stringing together a bunch of random processes. It doesnt matter how long a blindfolded person wanders, hes still just as likely to go one direction as another.

To be fair to Dawkins, it should be noted that by single-step evolution he means not micro-evolution but the idea that the whole complex human eye evolved by one mutation. But this is a straw man", an argument set up just so he can easily knock it down. No one believes this. Cumulative (blind) selection only looks like a good alternative next to such ridiculousness.

The whole march from germ to fish, from fish to man, from algae to tree, from shrew to whale, from primordial soup to rainforest — this whole march was no random collection of random marches. I dont care whether each step in the march was necessary for survival or not. I suppose each step was necessary for survival, was survival of the fittest. Of course it was, tautologically so. But the harmony and complexity and directedness of the march must indicate that the selection ultimately was selection, in the original meaning of term selection", that is, to choose", to decide consciously". Natural selection", natural meaning unconscious, is the original oxymoron behind the entire intellectual movement of modern nihilism.

~~~

A lot more can be said. But it need not be. The arguments and counterarguments are endless, but the upshot is always the same.

“But we only think humans are the pinnacle of existence because we happen to be humans.”

Exactly. Chimpanzees dont think they are the pinnacle of existence because they dont have the ability to think about existence.

“Our world only appears friendly to life because we are well-adapted to it.

Adaptation itself is impossible on most worlds, let alone most universes.

Yes, from one point of view, natural selection is never random. Its not the survival of whatever but the survival of the fittest. But from a broader perspective, from the perspective of threading the evolutionary maze from bacterium to human, natural selection by itself would be extremely unlikely to lead to anything like us. If every trait that humans have is a trait implanted by natural selection, then the forces of natural selection that shaped these traits must have been at least as complex as the human mind. And since we dont understand the human mind, not even close, we are not even close to understanding the forces that created us. So how could we not call the forces that created us intelligent?

To be more precise, forces are not individually intelligent, but they can be used together in an intelligent way. A computer programmer, even if hes writing evolutionary algorithms, has got to put the right basic rules and parameters in place so his program performs the task desired. Without the right rules, without the right evolutionary environment, anything goes—the most likely outcome being a boring crash. There were countless ways the evolutionary history of earth could have crashed. Some tiny species of bacteria could have replicated wildly out of control, killing everything else. A comet could have struck, or a super-volcano. Sure, there were extinctions, but nothing that forced things to start all over. When diversity and complexity came back, it was always deeper than before. There is no law of nature saying this must be so. Life could easily have started on Mars, for example, and died out or simplified back to triviality. By all the laws of probability, this should have happened on Earth too, if there was no design involved.

The literature on this whole debate is vast. Was the Earth fine-tuned for life? Were even the laws of our universe fine-tuned? Did evolution proceed by random walk or designed progression? I challenge anyone to dip into this literature in a fair-minded spirit and not come back with a stronger faith—or at least a stronger suspicion—that a Creator is behind it all. A few recommendations, from both sides of the debate:

The Creator and the Cosmos, by Hugh Ross (theist)
The Accidental Species, by Henry Gee (anti-theist)
Signature in the Cell, by Stephen Meyer (theist)
How Jesus Became God, by Bart Ehrman (anti-theist)
The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel (theist)
Natural Theology, by William Paley (1809) (theist)
The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins (anti-theist)
Navigating Genesis, by Hugh Ross (theist)
The Social Conquest of Earth, by E.O. Wilson (anti-theist)
Privileged Planet (book and documentary) by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards (theist)
The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning, by Victor Stenger (anti-theist)

This is just a selection of the books Ive read (or re-read from a new perspective) over the past year, what I consider probably the most accessible and surprising. The anti-theist literature I list, in most cases, does not present itself as such. Generally it claims to be objective and scientific, and not to take any particular stance toward religious ideas, assumed to be beyond proof. But now, I guess because I suddenly find them so full of contradictions, I find them shrill and petty in their anti-religion. I can still appreciate their honesty in trying to find the truth, if not their utter disdain for actually engaging with religion.

As a professor at a modern university, it is easy to write books and articles criticizing religious ideas. Several of the quotes Ive offered here show that in the name of objectivity they explicitly criticize faith. They dont worry about losing their job for it.

But the debate, as I said, is officially dead. Theists are not allowed to publish counterarguments except in special circumstances. In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer tells part of his own story as a scientist and philosopher attempting to put forward pro-theist ideas. One peer-reviewed article that he published, a very technical article, all but destroyed the career of the editor who published it, causing him to be transferred to a hostile supervisor and demoted.

Since the Scopes Monkey trial, there has never been a case, to my knowledge, where a school was challenged for teaching students the anti-theistic ideas of scientists such as E.O. Wilson or Dawkins. But now any book billed as intelligent design has been legally classified as religious and therefore inadmissible in public school curricula, as decided in the famous Dover Trial back in 2005.

I recall hearing news reports about it, and getting the impression that Intelligent Design was a movement promoted by religious leaders without any actual scientific background. But this was all misinformation it turns out. I challenge anyone to read Stephen Meyers Signature in the Cell (or any of William Dembskis more technical works) and not come away with a deep respect for the ID movement and its scientific methods.

~~~

“But all those ID theorists are Christians, you say, and even if their arguments for a Designer make sense, they seem to assume that well automatically accept the God of the Christian Bible as our intelligent designer.’”

If wanting people to know the truth about why were here is an ulterior motive, then yes, Intelligent Design theory is guilty as charged. But if objectivity is anything, then it is a desire to find and share the truth. How then, is one to present all the objective facts in favor of the existence of a Creator? Are we to present them as subjective feelings? That would be a lie. A fact is a fact, even if it favors Christian beliefs in particular.

Stephen Meyer claims that these are facts: (1) The universe could not have made more than 10139 trails to create human DNA, given the number of particles and possible interactions of the universe. (2) The essential, necessary molecular machinery needed for DNA replication has a much less than a 1 in 10139 probability to arise by chance. Together, (1) and (2) imply that life did not arise by chance, and hence was designed.

Maybe you can deny that (1) is a fact, or deny that (2) is a fact. But what if they are facts? What if they are among countless facts which point to the presence of a divine will in nature?

The modern intellectual climate demands that we pay no attention to such facts. It demands that we cease calling them facts, or even potential facts. It denies that they even can be facts. But that is to presuppose, from the outset, that there can be no universe outside our own, or that if it does exist, it may not have intelligent beings. That is an awfully big assumption.

They want to argue that anything beyond our universe cannot be proven. But then the only way for them to get around the undeniable fine-tuning of our laws of physics is to do exactly that, and postulate a multiverse outside our own, one consisting of perhaps countless varying universes that are all lifeless, with ours as the lucky stroke that gave rise to intelligence.

Occams razor, which states that Entities should not be multiplied without necessity, has often been used in attempts to eliminate the hypothesis of God, though of course, William of Occam was a theist. In our case it can easily be used to argue for the existence of a God, given that there is something beyond our universe.

The degree of fine-tuning of our laws of nature are something like one in a googol (10100, one with a hundred zeros). That means that youd need about a googol universes to, by chance, hit upon one like ours that supports life.

Even then, what fine-tuned the multiverse? Any multiverse you can imagine is just one out of an infinity of possible multiverses. How can this way of thinking avoid postulating an infinity of entities, most of them chaotic and lifeless?

Heres another hypothesis. Instead of a googol other universes, assume youve got one other universe 1050 times bigger than ours, with a creator 1049 times smarter and more powerful than we are. Such a creator could easily create 1049 universes as friendly to life as our own.

Which is more likely? For every 1 life-friendly universe created in the first scenario, 1049 are created in the second. While the first scenario postulates a chaotic multiverse 10100 times bigger than ours, the second postulates a much simpler and more lawful multiverse, 1050 times smaller than the first, yet 1049 times more productive. That means that in terms of efficiency, in terms of satisfying Occams demand for simplicity, the hypothesis of a designed universe is far, far more optimal (1099 more optimal to be precise) than the hypothesis of a merely lucky universe.

It appears astronomically more likely to me that our universe, with its well-designed, fine-tuned laws, is part of the repertoire of a powerful Creator, than some freak in a vast array of monstrosities. Which is more likely to produce a working vehicle: storms and earthquakes tearing through junkyards, or engineers and factories?

But then who created our creator? To not multiply entities unnecessarily, we could postulate an infinite Creator, uncreated because eternal, responsible for creating every world under heaven. The infinity of an intelligent Creator is a much more parsimonious assumption that an infinity of chaotic universes.

Im talking about facts and possible facts here, not emotions. Yes, theres an emotional upshot, but even the purest scientific theories have one. There is grandeur in this view of life, says Darwin. He who finds a thought that lets us even a little deeper into the eternal mystery of nature has been granted great peace, says Einstein.

Im reminded of a peculiar philosophy of physics seminar session in grad school. The professor, an non-theist and hard-line empirical materialist, wrote a question up on the whiteboard along with a graph. The question was, Why is mathematics so successful in describing nature? The graph had two axes. One ranged from simple to complex and the other went from solvable to unsolvable. He wanted to know how complex we though the answer to this question was, and how hard we thought it would be to finally answer.

Each student and professor went up to mark the board. Most of the xs clustered around the solvable, complex corner. In a spirit of contradiction, and in view of the fact that the problem had frustrated modern philosophers for over a hundred years, I went up and marked a region was that completely blank so far, nearly unsolvable, simple.

Even then, when my opinions on design were mixed, I knew that modern secular philosophers have a unproductive way of taking a straightforward question with a straightforward answer and making it more complex than it needed to be, all the while pretending that they were solving it once and for all with all their technical ramblings. But the history of philosophy, every philosopher knows well, had not shown much progress. Something new, I realized, was needed.

I believe, after all these years, to finally have hit upon the simple answer that most people already know yet is so nearly unsolvable on materialistic assumptions: Mathematics is successful in describing nature because nature was designed to be comprehensible. Youd think that any old collection of laws, and any old species evolved merely to survive, would have so little in common, logically, as to be mutually alien. As it is, children can start learning mathematics the minute they start learning to speak, starting with counting, moving to arithmetic, and then advancing as far as anyone could wish, into complex yet comprehensible mathematical theories that can keep any math-lover occupied for a lifetime. There is no reason any of this had to be true, nor that the laws of physics would be so readily comprehensible by the mathematics humans tend to excel at. Our mathematical abilities from the least to the greatest, it is held by Darwinists, all evolved on the savanna. Interesting coincidence. Must have been one well-designed savanna.

~~~

This has been a taste of where my thoughts have taken me over the last year. Im currently writing down my arguments in a book, whose topics will range from the fine-tuning of the laws of physics, to evolutionary theory, to Biblical scholarship. Interspersed will also be an autobiographical narrative, telling the story of how my own beliefs evolved, starting with my Christian upbringing, my parents break with Christianity, their New Age explorations, my years as an atheist and physicist, then philosopher, and finally my recent journey back to faith. I groped for a title for weeks, until a friend of mine suggested Surprised by Reason, which Ive kept as my working title for a couple of months now. The first draft is over half-way done, and I hope to have it ready to pass around to interested readers in a few months.