The response to my last post was surprisingly muted and, above all, respectful. Voltaire himself said, ‘I do not agree with what you have to say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.’ He is classed as one of the great philosophers, and if you were reading it from an objective viewpoint, you would have to agree. However, he was part of the cabal that tried and executed, not only the Bourbons and their supporters, but eventually everyone who disagreed with their idea of the Republic. They unleashed the reign of terror that only ended with Napoleon’s ascension to power.
Marcus Aurelius is often quoted too, as a great philiospher/statesman. ’A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.’
Wise and wonderful words, and there’s a lot more where that came from. Read Meditations for yourself. This from a man who waged a fearful vendetta against the early Christians. While not quite going to the lengths Nero did, he hunted them down, imprisoned, and killed them.
I write this because people on this forum have accused me of being close-minded: of being indoctrinated from a early age: from prattling pseudo-science to back up my claims. The best of all the arguments have gone something like this: Wake up! There is no god!
This, of course, immediately caused mt to change my view. After all, who can stand against such overwhelming logic?
So, I’m going to give a short history of who I am, and how I came to believe what I do.
I was born many, many years ago and, before I had any conscious recollection of the event, a priest from the Old Apostolic Church came to see my father, in an effort to convert him. I should hasten to add that my father was a brilliant man, with only a Standard Six, but had managed to educate himself to the point where he was sought out by electronics engineers when they had problems.
My father, very cunningly, asked this man. ‘How big is heaven?’
‘What size hat do you wear?” asked this priest.
‘Six and seven eighths,’ replied my father.
‘Well, then that’s how big heaven is!’ And my father bought this!
So this is how I was brought up, and at about the age of twelve I stopped believeing that load of cobblers, but still believed in God because, as my father said, ‘A man who dosen’t believe in God is a fool.’ Just as compelling an argument as ‘there is no god’.
When I was fifteen, I completely abandoned the idea of God and, at the wise old age of eighteen, knew there was no God. How did I know? My dear old dad had a series of Time/Life books on evolution, and to me it made sense. If evolution was true, why was there a need for a God? Hedonism became my religion. Let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun than being cooped up in church on a Sunday!
And hormones being what they are, and this being the seventies, I could have opened my very own branch of Hedonism ‘r’Us. I was playing in a rock band, girls were plentiful, there was no time for this God! I even wrote sacriligious songs mocking Him, but the band wouldn’t play them. They had their Christian sensibilities, but they were really practical atheists. They indulged their pleasures to the same degree I did, but prayed forgiveness ocassionally. Live dirty, sleep clean was their motto.
I was hostile toward Jesus freaks and, when one of them tried to hand me a tract, I would tell them to go away (the Scottish version) or argue with them, in an attempt to break down their faith.
I got married in a church, but that was to please my bride, because it should be the biggest day of her life, and a Registry Office doesn’t quite have the same effect. That was the first time I’d set foot in a church since the Army, where we were forced to go. And my cousin’s wedding.
My life at the time was pretty good all round. I had money to spend, being single and living with my parents. I moved up to Rhodesia for a brief period, where drinking was their religion, and it became mine as well. But after I returned to South Africa, and Joburg in particular, my drinking slowed down, because booze was not quites as cheap here.
Whe I met the woman who was destined to be my wife, she was a Christian Scientist, and I used to scandalise her by saying, ‘You’re welcome’, when she would say ‘Thank God’. She thought Christian Science would interest me, but it is neither Christian nor Scientific. Their belief is pretty much what the Hindus believe, dressed up in pseudo scientific prattle. Life is an illusion. In your head. Which is also an illusion. Yeah.
After we married, nothing really changed. We had a son, who was the centre of our universe and things were going well. But I was becoming restless. For no apparent reason.
In November 1980, I told my wife we were going to church that Sunday. I had no idea where, but it turned out to be a Full Gospel Church, and if you’ve never been in one of their services, you have no idea how loud people can be. I turned to my wife and said, ‘This was a mistake. We’re not coming back here again.’ But I didn’t have the courageto just get up and leave. And the Pastor preached a sermon which was just a sermon, but one phrase got me where I lived. ‘God wants you just as you are.’
The upshot of it was this: nothing we can do can make us acceptable to God. He wants you, warts and all, and He will transform your life. It’s a long, and often painful process, but it’s utimately worthwhile. I discovered that God is love, that God is interested in me, as an individual, and that no matter what I’d done in the past had been paid for at the cross.
Does that mean I’m a good person? Definitely not! Do I still sin? Without question. Does God approve? Definitely not. But He forgives, and allows us to grow, to reach the stage where we become more like Jesus, while retaining our own unique character.
I’m still pompous and opinionated, but no longer delight in putting people down. I still do occasionally, but no longer get the same pleasure out of it. I still laugh at the same things, still enjoy most of the same music, still get a pleasure out of most of the things I used to. There is a lot of pleasure in life, without having to cross any line. Test cricket remains a passion, but no longer to the exclusion of my family. The change is gradual, but noticeable to people who know me. And if there is no noticeable change, where’s the conversion?
Everything I’ve told you is utterly subjective, and cannot in any way be tested, not in an empirical sense. This is experiential, but is based on the facts in the Bible. People can argue the facts, as they frequently do, but to me they are facts. Anything I feel, or am told, which does not line up with the clear teaching of Scripture, must be dismissed.
Am I a good person? No.
Am I a better person? I can only hope so.
Will this convince people inimical to the Gospel and the person of Jesus? I doubt it, but I would at least hope to get you thinking. And investigating.
Can we harmonise Special Creation with Evolution? I believe not. Is the earth six thousand years old? I would say absolutely not. Along the way, as my love for science remained undimmed, especially physics and, later, quantum physics, I find even more evidence to support Special Creation. It is, of course, subjective.
Hugh Ross and Carl Sagan, two equally gifted cosmologists looked at the same data and came to totally different conclusions. One that there is a personal God who has a planfor every single individual, and the other who saw no hint of God or even need for one.
So, this is what I believe and why I believe it, and I would happily discuss this with anyone who either disputes it, or would like to know more.