Following the Evidence


by Bill Curry

I would like to thank John Loftus for giving me the opportunity to post here. I am currently working as an electrical engineer. I was brought up as a Christian. However, I had the tendency to keep my faith separate from my normal working life. I always felt as if I should try to evangelize fellow students and later colleagues where I work, but I almost never did.


At work, I met some very smart Christians. They were able to convincingly argue that the Christian worldview made the most sense of morality, human nature, etc. They loaned me tapes of debates between Dr. William Lane Craig and various atheists and it was apparent that Dr. Craig always won convincingly.

Observing Craig debate non-Christians was a turning point in my life. I began voraciously reading works by Christian apologists. Dr. J.P. Moreland convincingly argued in his book “Love Your God with All Your Mind” that Christians had a duty to engage the life of the mind. That is, one should work very had to integrate all aspects of their life with the gospel. I really enjoyed the processes of testing my beliefs with those who had disagreed. I had found that most people had not given much thought to questions of philosophy and morality. Arguing with them about those topics really increased my faith.

February 2003 was another critical point in my life. My Army Reserve unit was given notice that we were to be activated for service in Iraq. I decided that this was a perfect opportunity for me to grow closer to God. I read “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard and had listened to lectures by J.P. Moreland that convinced me that God really did want to have a personal relationship with us today. They encouraged their audience to keep a prayer journal as see if God really did answer prayer.

About 9 months into my deployment to Iraq, I did review my prayer journal. Any time I prayed for something that was improbable, that prayer was not answered affirmatively. I honestly felt like I was praying to a wall. At that point I concluded my theology must be wrong. I thought Craig had proved the resurrection, so I remained a Christian. I guess that I felt that C.S Lewis has captured my sentiment in the last chapter of his book “A Grief Observed.” I was going through a period of anger with God, but I new that he was still really taking care of me. There are good reasons for God to hide from me and He knew best. However, I stopped praying. I concluded that my theology must be incorrect. It was very hard to pray when I knew that my prayer had been so ineffective.

When I returned mid 2004, I really had little passion for Christianity. I would attend church, but I was not enthusiastic. Several of my brothers wanted me to start a "read through the Bible in a year" program during 2005 and I flatly told them I was not interested. Little did I know that one of my brothers (the one most into apologetics) was having a crisis of faith himself. Reading through the Bible was convincing him that the doctrine of inerrancy was not defensible.

He started questioning the fact of the resurrection. My first reaction was to try to defend Christianity. However, I found that now I was willing to look at both sides of the issue. The case for Christianity was much weaker than I had thought. Upon further reflection I was able to formulate my own reason why I didn't believe.

During the past year, I have presented my argument that a reasonable person shouldn’t believe the resurrection happened. I have gotten very little reaction to my argument (other than to question my motives). I am looking forward to putting my arguments out to a hostile review. I am going to do my best to be loyal to the truth. If my assessment of the evidence is easily shown to be faulty by those who are well acquainted with the facts, I will discard my views. But if my ideas aren't easily upended then I can be comfortable with my new position. My next post will be the argument that first made me re-evaluate the truth of the resurrection.

13 comments:

Jon Curry said...

Very interesting, Bill. Boy, that brother of yours sounds like an interesting and handsome character. Perhaps you could talk him in to posting comments around here occasionally.

King Aardvark said...

I've always wondered about prayer. How is it supposed to work? My wife always prays before going on a long drive for safety. She gets anxious when she forgets to pray. What does she think is going to happen? If she forgets to pray, then God is going to say, "Well, I was going to protect you, but you forgot to pray, so now you get t-boned by a Mack truck." ? Does this make any sense?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for coming on board Bill! It'll be interesting to see the responses to your arguments. Bring 'em on.

Chris said...

Perhaps your prayers were not alligned with God's purposes. Can you see any inconsistency with joining a war and asking for God's assistance?

Bill Curry said...

King,

How prayer is supposed to work depends upon your theology. As a Christian I thought I was abiding in God's word, and as such I should be detect God's will, either positive or negative.

However, maybe it's best I didn't detect his will.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13051123/

Chris,
Do you mean the God that inspired Psalms 144:1, Romans 13:3-5, and the book of Revelation? Those verses endorse the use of force by government authorities. Did Jesus rebuke the Centurion? As I recall, his request was granted. If Jesus didn’t condemn the Centurion for his service, why do you condemn me?

Chris said...

Firstly, The fact that you can find an endorsement for war in those scriptures is amazing. But this is not the point I was making.

You mentioned that you had lost faith presumably as a result of your prayers not being answered. What is your expectation of prayer? Is your expectation too high? Is that God's fault or yours?

Hallq said...

To the other Chris:

Um, Jesus kinda says "Ask and you shall receive." And unanswered prayer has to matter, or you end up deluding yourself in a massive case of confirmation bias, making yourself no better that people who convince themselves they have psychic powers and use "bad vibes" to explain away all failures.

Bill:

Interesting story. I have a personal post request: a detailed look at the process of being converted by apologetics. I'm currently working on a book on the subject of apologetics, and would like to understand it's place in conversion better. One question that floats immediately to mind: did you initially root for the atheists watching the Craig videos?

Chris said...

Hallq-
I ask repeatedly for a 427 Cobra and to this day I've never received one. Maybe I should abandon my faith.

gwiman-1 said...

Thanks for writing this. It's an interesting moment to prss 'send' isn't it?

I can't help wondering about those "Read the Bible in a year" programs. Are they trying to drive people away from Christianity?

It's no problem justifying war from the Bible. Or pacifism. It was written by lots of people over a long period of time.

Here's how prayer works: you think intent thoughts to an imaginary being out there somewhere, then perform a confirmation bias biopsy from the phenomenological stream of events that follows. From that you can harvest all the evidence you need.

Bill Curry said...

Chris,
How am I supposed to interpret “Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight” and that a ruler “… does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer”? How can you not interpret those verses as endorsing the government’s use of deadly force? I am really curious? As a Christian I though was an agent of the government (one of the institutions ordained by God (the family and the church being the others).

I did not lose my faith as a result of my prayers not being answered. I tried to make that clear. It may have shaken a theology that I would have preferred, but if I thought the resurrection was true, I would remain a Christian regardless God’s response to prayer. Arguments and evidence are what moved me. I will start laying out the reasons soon.

Hallq,
I was definitely rooting for the Craig, and the other Christian Apologists. I really enjoyed Craig’s debate with Peter Atkins. He had no idea what to expect and I thought that if this is the best the secular community has to offer, then Christianity was better justified that I thought.

Hi George,

I think I know what you mean. This is the first blog entry that I have ever made so I did wonder if I would mess things up. There is always the question of “is there a flaw in my argument that is eluding me?” But I suppose the reason I am doing this is to find out.

Hallq said...

Where did you imagine Craig stood in relation to other Biblical scholars? What idea did you have of those scholars who doubted the resurrection?

Bill Curry said...

Hallq,

When I first was invited to listen to the debates, I really didn't know anything about the backgrounds of the debaters on either side of the issue. I suppose that I thought that all the debaters would have roughly equal backgrounds in debate and scholarship. I later learned that Craig spend a great deal more time traveling and debating than regular professors, but I didn't see anything wrong with that.

Jean said...

"If Jesus didn’t condemn the Centurion for his service, why do you condemn me?"

Don't you think that there is a great difference between a cop who fights crime and a cop who fights for criminals?

Do you believe God orders unconditional loyalty to the state no matter what?

The war in Iraq was a horrible thing, based on meaningless bloodshed...

I'm not an american, I live in Brazil, but I feel very sorry that the americans in general were so misinformed about the real motivations behind that war...