I remember my decision to question. I had been defending creation in an online debate. I could see the futility in trying to convince scientists that the world was 6000 years old, or that the fossil record was formed during Noah's flood. Could I even convince myself anymore? My position was beginning to fade. Should I switch to old-earth creation? The idea of an old earth would be difficult to accept, but I was finding it even more difficult to believe in a recent creation. What was I to do? Along came a newbie, and he announced that he had all the answers. He informed us that the noted Christian apologist, William Dembski, was going to destroy the theory of evolution. Where had this fellow been all of this time? Many of us had struggled for months to destroy evolution, and had left little impression. Was Dembski going to be different? Naturally, I hit the reply button.
The questions came easily. Exactly how was Dembski planning to perform this feat? Was he going to prove the earth was young, or present a believable old-earth viewpoint without using evolution? How and when did new creatures come into existence? I typed rapidly. I reached the end of my post, and sat back to look at what I had written. My mouth fell open. There were the same questions that atheists had been asking me, the questions that had been leaving me speechless. I had written them myself. I paused. Should I send this message? But these questions bothered me. Why not ask? I remember the fear. What would God think when he saw these questions? Would he be angry? The answer was all too obvious. How could God be upset that I wanted answers? So I hit the send button. As far as I could tell, God did not object. So I asked more questions, questions which would lead me on an amazing spiritual journey and change my entire view of religion.
Dear Christian friend, I hope this site helps you understand why I have changed my mind about Christianity. You may have heard the case for the faith, and it may seem right to you, but I will come forward and question it. Proverbs 18:17 says, "The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him." Perhaps your God would not mind if we do what this verse suggests. Perhaps we could come forward and examine the claims.
Dear skeptical friend, I hope this helps you to understand the struggle that many Christians and former Christians have encountered. The words you read here come from the heart, from my own personal struggle and enlightenment.
I will concentrate my examination on Evangelical Christianity, since that is the viewpoint I am most familiar with. But much of what I write will apply to all of Christianity.
I will start at the beginning--at Genesis 1:1--looking at creation and trying to make sense of it all. Then I will investigate the Bible, and from there I will branch into other important issues such as salvation, the resurrection, heaven, and prayer. We have a lot to cover.
We will try to reach our conclusions, not by authoritatively proclaiming the correct answer, but by observing the available data and asking questions. Albert Einstein once wrote, "The important thing is to not stop questioning," I agree. When we sit back and think, and ask ourselves hard questions, that is when we learn and understand. And so we will ask a lot of questions at this site. That is why you see the blue band of questionmarks on the side of these pages. It is a reminder of the questioning process.
Some will not be comfortable with employing reason and questions as our guide when searching religious matters. They would rather turn to faith alone. But which faith should we turn to? Catholicism? Judaism? Protestantism? Islam? How do we decide? Do we not need to use reason to make that decision? And if we should settle on Evangelical Christianity, as many suggest, what about the many smaller issues of faith? Shall we promote pacifism? Shall we choose the faith of the theistic evolutionists? Should we choose by faith alone to accept tongues-speaking, predestination, psychological counseling, alcoholic consumption, and premillenialism? Or should we choose the faith that opposes any of these things? So many choices! If we select our opinion on such issues based only on our own personal choice of faith, is that sufficient to declare everybody else to be wrong? You and I have met people like that. And we cannot understand why they take it by faith alone that they are right and we are wrong on some minor issue. We wonder why they will not listen to reason. But they have no need for reason. They have faith, and that is sufficient for them. We can see right through their blind faith. How dare they insist, based on their faith alone, that their views are the only possible correct positions and that ours are wrong? If you find that faith alone is not sufficient to establish the absolute truth of every minor view, can you understand how others would see that faith alone is not sufficient to establish the validity of Evangelical Christianity? Can you see how people might ask you for a reason for the hope that lies within you? It seems we need to go beyond the making of statements and asking people to take it by faith. I will use observations, questions, and reason in my examination.
Some Christians would rather turn to the Bible for answers on issues such as creation. They see no need for science and reason, when they can rely on the Bible for answers. Suppose we follow this course, and choose to trust all of the anceint words of the Bible. Surely we would need to know what those words mean before they can illuminate us. And how shall we know what those ancient scratches on the paper mean? God did not give us a Hebrew dictionary. Since we have no infallible authority that tells us what those words mean, we turn to the process of translation, by which scholars examine the useage of ancient words in various contexts, and they try to decipher what the author was trying to say. They produce translations and dictionaries that the rest of us use to understand the texts. Notice the process the translators use. They use careful investigation of the words to discover the meaning. They rely on the science of translation. If you trust their work, are you not relying on their observation and reason? And so, even if we turn to the Bible for our answers, we will need reason to determine what the Bible means, and will generally need to rely on the observation and reasoning of scholars. We cannot escape the process. We cannot get our answers from the Bible without relying on careful observation and reason also. And so most Christians will accept the reasoning of scholars that developed their translation of the Bible (or their Hebrew dictionary). Why not also accept the reasoning of scientists who use similar techniques to discover the secrets of origins? Why should we treat the reasoning of translators and textual scholars as though they are infallible, while ignoring what other scientists have discovered through reason and science? If the process of observation and reason is good enough for translators, why is it not good enough for geologists and biologists? And if there is a remote chance that the copy of Genesis that you hold in your hand is corrupted, mistranslated, or misinterpreted--even slightly--is it not possible that sound scientific reason can shed some light on the process of creation? So even if you don't think the writer of Genesis could have possibly been mistaken, it seems you could still learn from science and reason.
And so, without apology, I turn to the process of careful observation, thoughtful questions, and deductive reason to see what I can learn. I hope that you will join me in this adventure. Let's begin with a look at creation. Click here to begin.
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"I did like your web site."
--Glenn Morton , Christian Geologist, Author Foundation, Fall and Flood
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"Just ran across your site a couple of weeks ago and I have read it all ...I would like to compliment you on the terrific style you employ. Your non-threatening, pleasant, style is sure to capture the attention of 'fence sitters' and conservative 'seekers' who simply want to ponder the question of 'why?' without the hyperbole."
-- Rich D.
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--Steve Locks, Leaving Christianity website
The above comments were used by permission. Endorsement does not necessarily mean approval of the entire site.
Copyright ÓMerle Hertzler 2002, 2004, 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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