Several years ago I read a wonderful book by Fran Sciacca titled, So What’s Your Point? In the early part of the book he shares of his spiritual skepticism in college. He said his life was “an existential wreck” and that he attributed it to the influence of his college professors. He experienced a real collision of ideas in his college courses. He said:
For example, in Comparative Anatomy I was told I was the product of an impersonal, random process, and related to the cartilaginous fish. But, in Psychology 101 I was told I was unique and special, and had value. Then, in Philosophy 101 I was told there were no absolutes, but I could create my own. Then onto Sociology 101 where I was told Democracy was evil and Castro was messianic (something I eventually learned you can believe only if you don’t live in Cuba or China!).
Then a series of events occurred that challenged Sciacca’s worldview. First, his philosophy professor was fired for having sex with a co-ed. He realized that certain people in the college do believe in moral absolutes. Then his sociology professor killed herself in her garage. Finally, another professor, who was a communist and lived in a commune, lost all of their savings in a game of pool.
Though his professors liked to attack biblical faith, there was no comprehensive worldview that could contain all the ideas he was exposed to. He said “I had more questions than answers about life’s meaning and purpose and who I was.”
He then realized the “halls of agnosticism and atheism, though fun places to stroll, were no place to dig a foundation and build a home.” Sciacca then acknowledged something that few people are willing to admit. That you can be sincerely wrong about your beliefs and worldview.
C.S. Lewis shares an incident in his life that was somewhat humorous but that he believed was also significant. It took place when he first arrived in Oxford by train to begin college life.
He reports that he came out of the railway station loaded down with luggage and headed down the street in the wrong direction, away from the colleges. He kept walking, increasingly disappointed by the frowzy houses and shops he saw, until he came near to the edge of the city. Only when he saw he was on the outskirts of town and entering the countryside did he turn around. There spread before him, “never more beautiful since, was the fabled cluster of spires and towers of Oxford.” At that point he realized he had gone the wrong way, turning his back on his true destination.
Lewis saw this incident as an allegory of his life because it showed that his life was going in the wrong direction and his beliefs that he clung to for so many years were wrong.
So how do people end up with wrong ideas about God and spiritual reality? I am reminded of the great scientist Francis Collins. He came to a crossroads on the issue of faith and had to ask himself if he was an atheist because he had chosen this position on the basis of reason, or was this the answer that he wanted to have as a scientist. He says it finally came to him:
As a scientist, I had always insisted on collecting rigorous data before drawing a conclusion. And yet, in matters of faith, I had never collected any data at all. I didn’t know what I had rejected. So I decided that I should be a little better grounded in my atheism. I better find out what this is all about.
This lead Collins on a spiritual search that resulted in him coming to the same conclusion that Sciacca and Lewis had come to, his atheistic views were wrong.
I fear that many modern people are like Collins. They have given little thought about their views of God and spiritual reality. This is what confounded Blaise Pascal about his well-educated friends, they were totally apathetic to these ultimate issues. He realized that indifference, apathy, unconcern and disdain are the greatest obstacles to finding spiritual truth.
This is what lead him to issue these thoughts on the great eternal wager. He said that every person on the face of the earth is making a high-stakes, life commitment to a particular faith view of God. You are betting your eternal life and destiny that your view of spiritual reality is true.
With so much at stake, everyone needs to ask themselves, is my faith view of God and spiritual reality based on the truth of evidence or on what we find to be appealing to our desires and biases?
If you would like a good source that might be helpful with your questions, I would suggest my book Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism. I have had several religious skeptics read it and the research presented changed their minds. Many Christians have told me this book has bolstered their faith, particularly in the Bible.