A Quest for God, Part 5
Recently, we became aware of an email conversation between two young persons: one a young physicist and a deeply committed Christian named Aron and the other, Josh, a person who at least at the time the conversation began was a skeptic. The exchange is so rich that we’ve asked for permission to post it here. At the end of this post, we refer you to Aron’s webpage where you can read and listen to more of his ideas. We hope you find it as informative and intriguing as we have.
I have no reason to be especially skeptical about ancient history to say it is totally wrong, but I am not sure enough to bet my life on it, either. The gospel requires you to bet your life on it. It requires you to shift your perspective on life, your priorities in life, etc. So, it requires even more certainty if we take the approach of evaluating evidence.
Anyway, I've come to decide that you can't prove or disprove Christianity, just like you can't prove or disprove anything else that exists in the real world, as opposed to the logical world (e.g. math). The reasoning approach is still useful for demonstrating the plausibility of Christianity, though. The question of why God lets people go to hell who didn't hear about Jesus was the biggest problem but is now moot. I've decided that Christianity is something to be tested through experience, just like everything else in the real world, especially interpersonal relationships.
I've also come to realize some of the expectations on churches and Christians I used to have that were not met. My disappointment with Christianity could have been avoided if I had taken a broader view and been less focused on a narrow set of things. Entertaining the questions I had and turning away from Christianity was one way to maintain my sanity. Another way was to realize that my expectations were actually unrealistic and perhaps too idealistic. I took the second approach and I'm now back to experiencing God again. I've learned from my experienced and revised my perspective on quite a few things about Christianity. For example, I'm now quite sure that the view that someone who doesn't believe in Jesus will certainly go to hell is misinformed.
Thanks for patiently discussing the issues with me.
Thank you for the interesting conversation. I'm glad you found the discussion helpful. I agree with you that you can't prove or disprove Christianity in the sense that one could do it in math, and that it requires an approach a little more like the ones we use in interpersonal relationships. I'm also very pleased that you feel like you are reconnecting to God. Please pray for me as well, since I may be facing a difficult decision in the future about what job I should take.
If you end up in the future becoming confident in a version of Christianity which is a bit different than the one you were originally taught, remember to be kind to those who hold versions of Christianity that you reject, just like the apostles accepted each other even when they did not always see things exactly the same way. Good luck with your continued spiritual searching.
Thanks for the reminder. I always have a hard time being kind to people who think they’ve got all the answers, especially if they try to impose their views strongly on others.
We hope that you've enjoyed journeying along with Aron and Josh through this five part conversation, and maybe learned how to address some of the questions you've heard about the Christian faith in the process. For more from Aron, including essays, sermons, and the full transcript of this conversation, please visit Aron's website.
Aron Wall is a postdoctoral researcher studying quantum gravity and black hole thermodynamics at UC Santa Barbara. Before that, he studied the Great Books program at St. John's College, Santa Fe, and earned his doctorate in physics from U Maryland. You can learn more at his blog Undivided Looking.