My God, Your God? – Chapter 3 MY BELIEFS BEFORE

A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)


Vice does not lose its character by becoming fashionable.

John Wesley (1703 – 1791)


Five strong beliefs

During high school I attended the Methodist church and at an early age was even instrumental in getting my parents to start attending church again. I was active in the small youth group and that became my primary reason for attending as a teenager. I know that I must have attended Sunday school class during that period. I knew many of the Bible stories, at least from a youth’s perspective. And I believe I was baptized as a youth, but I do not remember ever having a serious commitment to Christ as a young adult. Indifferent to God probably best describes my attitude during High School. Then, like the 75% of youth that leave the church today when leaving home1, I quit believing in God as I entered college. It was not due to influence of any college professor, as is believed to be a factor today. I am not sure what triggered my change of belief. I suspect it was a gradual change that probably started before high school. As I recall, there seemed to be the world of the church, which was irrelevant to the real world. As it turned out I never did a rational analysis of my non-beliefs. They just seemed to evolve slowly without much thought; however, my beliefs became very strong. It finally boiled down to five reasons that became the foundation for my non-belief that lasted for about 50 years. This is what I came to believe:

1. The first chapter of the Bible was flawed in that it said that God formed the earth in six days, when science has clearly shown it was billions of years instead. Also, Homo sapiens have been around for about 200 thousand years, contrary to the Bible story of Adam and Eve being around five to ten thousand years ago. I just accepted science, and then had the thought, “If the first chapter in the Bible was in error how could you trust the rest of the Bible?”

2. The concept of God was too farfetched to be believable. It was more like the story of Santa Clause, the Easter bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

3. I had just started to learn about the power and truth of science and that just did not seem to be consistent with the Bible.

4. With all the conflict and violence in the world, religion seemed to be at the root of it all. How could a god promote such violence? The nightly news only fueled this viewpoint throughout the years.

5. With all the differences between Christian denominations and the various religions, some must be wrong, and probably they all are.

If you are a non-believer, you may have some of these same thoughts, or maybe I have given you some new ones. These may seem like hard questions for Christians, but when you look at the issues in depth, they are not so hard after all. The question now is, how did I answer these misperceptions and get on the right track? That is the subject of the book. I will now look at each one and briefly explain why these beliefs were in error.

Looking at number 1 first, I remember it being said that the Bible was not a book of history or science; however, it seemed to me that it should not be contrary to history or science. At that time, the truth seemed to be one or the other. I now know my facts were correct but incomplete. Through original research and reason I now have a comprehensive story of the facts. These are discussed in Chapters 8 through 11. It turns out that Home sapiens were here 200 thousand year ago, but were not complete until five to 10 thousand years ago when they acquired consciousness. This is also consistent with the Bible. Therefore, my original belief is now shown to be in error.

Next, we will look at belief number 2, the concept of God is farfetched. This is discussed in detail in Chapter 7. I can tell you that I now know that being farfetched is not a basis for anything being true or false. There are numerous things in our universe that are more farfetched.

Looking next at number 3, it initially seemed that science and the Bible were in conflict. I do admit that I had not done an extensive study of the specific areas of conflict, either from the religious or the scientific side. It often takes a re-look at the interpretation of both the Bible verses and the scientific conclusions to see the agreement. Since science is the study of God’s nature, how could there be a conflict? Today, I see that most Christians approach this issue with an open mind, have embraced science, and tend to see little conflict between the Bible and science. Atheists, on the other hand, still tend to promote a difference between science and the Bible. I look at this issue in Chapter 7 in detail. I have sought out all areas where there seemed to be a conflict, and so far I have not found a single area of conflict between science and any of my perceptions of God. I also would point out that I now know, contrary to what many atheists would have you believe, many of the leading scientists throughout the ages have been devoted believers.

Number 4 was a real bother to me as it is for most youth today. How could the world have so much violence with most of it in the name of religion? I often wondered what the world would be like without religion. I address this issue in Chapters 5 and 14. This has always been a tough question for Christians, but there is a reasonable answer. I can tell you that I now know that man often does bad things in the name of religion, but that is not what God wants.

Looking at number 5, I saw much conflict between the various religious organizations. For example, Christian denominations would write their own rules of human behavior, based on their interpretations of the Bible, and then declare their way was the only way and all others were going to Hell. In my mind, someone was wrong and most likely they all were wrong. Then, if you look at the other religions of the world, there is a greater difference with often violent responses to those not believing their way. Another factor is that children most often come to believe as their parents believe. They typically adopt the religion of their parents with all the hatred of the “other” religions. How rational is that? How could God fit in this confusing mess? What is one to believe? I chose not to believe in the teaching of any organized religion as the most rational option. However, being a believer on your own without organized religion did not seem to make sense either. I later realized the differences in religion is a normal result and is not so bad after all. I discuss this in Chapter 14.

These beliefs are the starting point of this book. Next I will show you how I answered these questions in addition to providing much more about the truth and glory of God.


Comments about the book are encouraged but to make it easy to find them there is a special comments section at the top of the web page.

Wallace (Shaun) Shaunfield Copyright 2010

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