Scientific Journey to God – Julie Hannah’s story

May 28, 2021

Side B Stories
Scientific Journey to God - Julie Hannah's story
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Former skeptic Julie Hannah takes an intellectual, scientific journey to discover answers to life’s biggest questions and finds Christ.
Julie’s autobiographical book, A Skeptic’s Investigation into Jesus (2020), is available on Amazon and Kindle

Episode Transcript

Hello, and thanks for joining in. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re listening to the Side B Podcast, where we see how someone flips the record of their life. Each podcast, we listen to someone who once did not believe in God but who, against all odds, became a Christian.

Today, we’ll be talking with Julie Hanna. She was once a skeptical agnostic with a passionate interest in the human condition who spent many years exploring a very fundamental question: Do our lives have any meaning? Or are they just random events that end with death? She searched for answers in a wide range of sciences, philosophies, and faiths and was prepared to reach any reasonable conclusion from the evidence. No philosophy or faith system seemed ultimately convincing, at least at first. Her desire to ignore Christianity as implausible was challenged in her attempt to disprove it, but she ultimately became convinced by it. She has written about her journey towards Christianity in her book entitled A Skeptic’s Investigation into Jesus, where she methodically looks at the facts regarding science, the biblical texts, the historical person of Jesus, the issue of suffering, and many others. I hope you’ll come and listen to her story today, as she tells how she moved from agnostic skepticism to ardent Christian.

Welcome to the Side B Podcast, Julie. It’s great to have you.

Thanks so much, Jana, for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your listeners. Thank you.

We’re so glad to have you on today. As we’re getting started, so the listeners know a little bit about you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live in South Africa, in Johannesburg, although I was born in Zambia, but I’ve lived here most of my adult life, and I’m a mathematics lecturer. That’s what I’ve done all of my life, really, is taught at high schools and then at university, so I have a passion for mathematics and The Bush. I have a passion for the African Bush. And I’m a mother of two grown-up boys, and I’m recently retired, so I had time to put down my thoughts and actually get my thoughts published, which is part of what our discussion is about.

Yes. So tell me about your book? What is the name of it? And where can it be found?

It’s called A Skeptic’s Investigation into Jesus, because that’s literally what it was. It was my exploration as an agnostic, almost atheist skeptic, and it is available on Amazon. It’s published by Wipf and Stock.

That’s good, and I will include that information also in the episode notes of the podcast for anybody who wants to look into that. So as we’re getting started with your story, I love what you say about that you love the African Bush. I had a brief experience in The Bush about three years ago. It was the most amazing place I think I have ever seen, to be honest. Really one of the highlights of my life. I presume that you have — when you say you grew up in Zambia and you have a love for the African Bush, what does that look like growing up in that area of the world.

And we never saw wild animals there, apart from baboon, but it was a very natural way. We never wore shoes unless we went to school, and it was a very free and kind of open to exploration. That’s what we loved. It was a very privileged upbringing.

Well, that sounds pretty wonderful, really idyllic for any child to have that sense of freedom and exploration. I can’t imagine. That really sounds wonderful. What was the religious climate in that area? I know probably in South Africa, from my very, very limited experience, there are all kinds of thoughts about religion and God. Why don’t you tell us about that?

Yeah. I had minimal religious influence in my upbringing. None of my family or friends were religious. We were nominally Anglican, so we went to Sunday school because that’s just what good parents were supposed to do with their children, but my mother admitted she didn’t believe in God, and yeah, there was really — I can’t speak for Zambia for a whole or even South Africa as a whole, but by the time I was a teenager, I rejected belief in God and the afterlife, based, unfortunately, on really minimal exposure to Christian thinking.

So the nominal experience that you did have as a child — did you have any even basic childlike believe in God? Did you ever pray? Or was it just going through the motions of an Anglican service or that sort of thing?

Yeah. There was never really a sense that it was anything more than a societal thing that people did. And really, as I say, as a teenager, I decided that Christians probably didn’t think much about their beliefs. Based on really nothing more than a few Sunday school lessons and being bored in church, which also fell away by the time I was about 12. I think we stopped even going to those ceremonies. But it seemed to me, I’d have to say almost from the outside of Christianity, that it seemed to be a narrow and simplistic worldview, and looking back, I seem to have judged what Christianity was in the same that you would judge the culture of a country from someone’s holiday photographs.

Yes.

Because I knew almost nothing. I’d never read any scripture. Never read anything myself. I just knew vague stories about floods and arks and people walking on water, and none of it jelled with me. Because it had never been really presented to me as an adult. I only had a child’s exposure, which I actually am starting to think is not an unusual case. Some of the atheistic people I’ve been speaking to since my conversion are very proud that they rejected Christianity when they were young, as if that’s something to be proud of. But when I look back, it’s something to be embarrassed about. Because I hadn’t explored it as an adult, which is a huge weakness, of course. So it was really arrogant of me to be so confidently atheistic on the basis of such little knowledge.

So as a teenager, you started in some ways to reject this childlike understanding, I suppose, of Christianity, thinking that it was just merely a social construction perhaps. Maybe a social cultural activity.

Correct. And it was based on some rather strange myths of miraculous things. So it seemed to be an obvious thing to reject it, which I did at the time.

There was just no credibility. No real substance to it. And so obviously you were intellectual and interested in academics, so you were moving in . . . as a teenager I presume . . . . How old were you when you really took on that label of atheist? Was that something that you strongly identified with? Or it was just that you knew you didn’t believe in God?

I’d say by the time I was about 17, 18, and I was reading French existentialism, and I thought, “Now, here is a brave and courageous, thoughtful way of looking at a meaningless world.” I think at about that stage, I thought, “Okay, that’s it. I’m not going the God route. This makes more sense, so let’s just put that all aside.”

This brave, courageous way of looking at the world through an existentialist worldview, it is, in a sense, a very brave way to look at life if you look at it through to its logical ends in existentialism. Did you go that far in viewing your worldview? That essentially you were brave if you were able to face the world starkly with regard to loss of meaning and those kinds of things?

I thought that I had to critique that as well because, although I wasn’t religious, I was very interested in the human condition and in questions like, “What does it mean to be human?” as opposed to just a cat or a dog. “Does our life have significance?” “Is there a correct worldview?” “Is there a particular way we should be living?” So although existentialism suggested that we must make our own moral decisions and there’s nothing transcendent to that, I wanted to critique that as well. I wanted to read more broadly about what possibilities there might be. So I actually started an investigation that would stretch over the next few decades, and it was in two main directions: One direction was into science, and in particular what the new physics had to say about the universe, and the other direction was an exploration into various belief systems.

So how did that play out? Did you start this active investigation as an 18-year-old or in university or just beyond? You said it took a few years, actually, to do this, so what did that look like?

It was probably in my mid twenties that it started becoming less of an “I should do this” and more of an “I’m going to do this.” So then I was sidetracked by having children, so towards my late twenties, it really started in earnest, where I started a sort of twenty- or thirty-year investigation.

So you were in your mid twenties. I’m really impressed—first of all, I must say—that you were thoughtful enough about your own existence and your own worldview that you wanted to think about it more deeply. Because oftentimes, it’s just too easy to avoid. But you were obviously an introspective, again thoughtful person about your life, and you wanted to understand it. So you said you started in two directions, one through science and one into various worldviews. So can you talk with us perhaps about one of those? Did you go down the scientific road first? Or did you go towards more of the humanities and religions?

They were almost in parallel, and I thought I’d share a few results from science first that strongly influenced my thinking.

Yes, yes.

Okay. The first resulted from cosmology. As Brian Greene admits, the physicist, there’s still a continuing ignorance on the fundamental origin of the universe. That interested me, that science has not been able to account for the arising of the universe. We simply don’t know how it came about. And this issue of the physical constraints that happened—there were physical constants that have to be constrained within extremely narrow margins for carbon-based life to develop. It’s the very well-known fine-tuning argument. The fact is that our universe is phenomenally improbable. That is something that has been arguable. The only way to account for the statistic of improbability is to suggest that perhaps there’s an infinite number of universes, so that this particular one at least becomes possible to have arrived, but there are major flaws and problems with this hypothesis, and there are quite a few scientists who speak very strongly against the suggestion that there must be an infinite number of universes. So that was important to me. I don’t think I’ll go into the critiques of that theory at the moment because of time.

I guess you were coming to a conclusion, it sounds like, that there had to be some kind of transcendent source outside of the universe in order for the universe to have been caused in the beginning and that we live in kind of a Goldilocks universe that requires some kind of powerful or infinite kind of source in order for this fine tuning to be as it is. So were you coming to those conclusions that perhaps there had to be this kind of transcendent source beyond the universe in order for these things to be a reality as we see them?

Yes. I was agreeing with people like the scientist Paul Davies, who says the impression of design is overwhelming. He’s not a theist, but full stop, the impression of design is overwhelming. There’s no getting around it. And cosmologist Allan Sandage, who became a Christian, largely because of this evidence of design. So, although I didn’t immediately join them, as it were, it did open my eyes to the strong possibility that there might well be a transcendent designer. That was a very interesting finding for me, yes.

So then, from that perspective, I guess then, it would be more interesting or I could see where you would be driven towards, okay, if there is a designer for this design, an originator for the origin of the universe, that perhaps then maybe religion . . . or there may be a god who is causing this, so I would imagine, then, your approach towards the human condition and how religion answered those questions would be a little bit more diligent, with the understanding that perhaps there really is a god, or gods at that point, who could exist.

Yeah. Absolutely. It opened my eyes to the possibility that it was worth exploring in a way. If I’d gone into physics and then said, “Well, we know how it all happened. It’s A, B, C. There’s no need to go beyond our naturalist interpretations and our physical laws of phenomenon.” If I’d encountered that, that would probably have been the end of the story for me. So this was a big thing, saying it’s worth delving deeper. Plus the fact that we don’t even know what matter is. I found that intriguing. That the things that look like ordinary physical objects are really just probability waves and waves of potentiality, rather than objects, and that probably our four-dimensional spacetime is undoubtedly embedded in a higher dimensional reality. That was very important for me. Because how could we know how a higher dimensional being could interact with our limited spacetime continuum, and I found that very challenging. So it wasn’t simple enough to say we can have a naturalist, determinist, materialist view of the world. Scientists were saying, “No, you can’t.” Our reality is far more complex than it might seem to us.

There had to be a hypothesis, as it were, that there had to be something outside the natural world in order for what we know and experience within the natural world.

Yeah. The higher dimensional idea points to something transcendent. And the fact that nature itself behaves in such counterintiuitive ways and that it’s not good enough simply to say, for example, there’s stuff, and there’s human consciousness, even, which seems to be quite an easy way to see the world. “There’s a chair, there’s a table, there’s me, and then there’s my consciousness as something separate.” The new physics is countering that. The new physics says no, that the unfolding of reality is impacted upon directly by human consciousness. That’s in essence what quantum mechanics is saying. So again I thought, “Well, if we don’t really understand the nature of material substance itself and how our consciousness might be impacting on it and affecting it, and there are higher dimensions, what about a higher dimensional consciousness, then? How might that be impacting on our reality?” So there were so many ways in which science was saying, “You’ve got to think beyond what you think you understand.”

So your eyes were really being opened to possibilities, and you were pursuing this information and knowledge. . . I guess in a sense it sounds like with some degree of openness and willingness to go wherever the evidence led.

Tell me more about . . . so science was kind of opening the door for you to possibilities. Tell me about your exploration into worldviews, then, and religions, towards the human condition.

Right. So at this stage, I was really only feeling that we should be at least humble enough to accept the possibility of some guiding form of transcendent intelligence in the universe. That’s the point to which science took me. But I was still thinking this transcendent principle could be completely impersonal. So, in my explorations, I was looking at the natural order of Dao and Daoism or the absolute reality of Brahman or some form of cosmic energy in Kashmir Shaivism, where energy becomes manifest, which is very close to what physics is saying, that matter is a form of energy, and I was reading also about Jewish Kabbalah and the Hindu scriptures, the Hare Krishna movement, various forms of Buddhism, but none of those, although they sort of hinted at truths and they were quite exciting, especially where they did fit in with the new physics, nothing made me feel, “Oh, this is the path,” or, “Here is an explanation about the human condition and our purpose and the nature of the universe,” and so on. They were all just very interesting, rather than anything I felt I could commit to.

Then, something very interesting happened which really took me in a completely unexpected direction, and that is that I kept encountering references to the cosmic Christ in non-Christian places, like the Guru Paramahansa Yogananda, for example, and that’s when I thought, “Oh, here comes this Christ story again.”

Yes.

Yes. I thought, “Oh, I thought I’d gotten rid of this.” I mean, in my head, anything to do with a miracle with a God man must be nonsense. I did not want to get involved with Christianity, but as you say, it’s always been important for me to base opinion on evidence. So I felt if I was to be objective I’d have to investigate Christian scripture, even if it was just so that I could explain why I rejected it. Because when I thought to myself, “Why am I against this Christ idea? Why am I against anything to do with Christianity? What is my basis? What is my evidence?” I realized I actually had no basis because I’d only encountered it as a child. So I decided, “Okay, here is my aim. I’m going to discredit Christianity.”

So what did you find as you started into the investigation of Christianity?

Yeah. Needless to say, it was a total surprise. It was a total surprise. I expected that I would hear some sophistic moral teachings and some bizarre miracle stories, and instead I was struck by this consistent voice of authority and authenticity in the gospels. This consistent voice that I just could not ignore. I was interested much later to learn that, although Albert Einstein rejected the Judeo-Christian God absolutely, he did say this in an interview, and I’d love to quote him here if I may. I’m sure a lot of people have heard this, but when I read it, it gelled with me. I thought, “Oh, yes! This is the way I felt when I first read the gospels.” Einstein said this in his interview: “No one can read the gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” Quite powerful words.

Yes.

Yeah. And that is how I felt. As I read it, I thought, “But this is not a Robin Hood exaggerated legend kind of figure I’m encountering here. This is a consistent voice of authority.” I just couldn’t believe that a range of writers could have fabricated Jesus’s teachings and His distinct personality with the consistency that I was encountering, and that’s when I thought, “Uh oh. I think I’d better investigate this a bit deeper before I just toss it aside as a superficial response.” So I started a specific and deliberate investigation into Christianity and its roots in Judaism.

So what did that deliberate investigation look like?

Well, first I read and re-read the New Testament, because I wanted to see how all the pieces of these different stories fit together to try to make a whole out of all these puzzle pieces. So I read it and re-read it and Paul’s letters and John’s revelation and so on, to get a sense of what the central message was. And then I read the Old Testament. Then I researched Rabbinic texts about the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. I read theological commentaries. My favorite was Karl Barth. I read scholarly papers on the resurrection and church and the transmission of scripture in those times, oral and written, especially in the early Jewish communities, and I read atheist critiques of all of these aspects. I was trying to still keep an open mind. I mean I was probably even keen, at that stage, to find out that Jesus’s followers had exaggerated His nature and His worth.

But although I was happy to find many contradictions and flaws and arguments against the veracity and the authenticity of the gospels, I discovered something completely different. I discovered that there are links and consistencies between the Old and New Testaments that are truly astounding, and Jesus’s work not only fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. They also provide—together with His promised return, they provide a physical enactment of the seven feasts of Judaism. There’s a whole structural parallel. The datings, the symbolism, they’re remarkable. If Jesus did or said the bulk of what you read about in the New Testament, then those writers would have had to invent a whole amazing realm of detail about His fact, his claims, his teachings, death, resurrection, to tie in very closely with numerous ancient images and prophecies and festivals and dates and rituals. It’s just impossible for that all to have been invented. So it was the consistency and the parallels and the tie in with the whole of the Old Testament traditions and prophecies that made me decide nobody could have just come up and invented all of the stuff that we find about Jesus in the New Testament.

Yes, it is quite amazing when you sit back and look at the whole of the narrative from Old Testament to New Testament, considering it was written over a process of 1400 years, around 40 authors, several continents, and then you look at the cohesiveness of the narrative, and that alone is just incredibly astounding, much less what you talk about in terms of just the integration of the story, the prophecies, the fulfillments, the symbolism, and how it all points to the person of Christ and His being really the center of all history. It really is overwhelming when you start to step back and look how all the—as you said before—how all the puzzle pieces start to be placed together into some kind of coherent whole. And I wonder, since you had a concern about the human condition and really looking into that, of course you were coming to an intellectual understanding of how all of these things came together and the ring of truth and the person of Christ. I also wonder how it answered those questions for you about the human condition, who we are, how we determine right and wrong, where does our sense of consciousness and even dignity and value or purpose play as you were reading and putting together these pieces with regard to Christianity and the person of Christ.

In terms of the meaning, the human meaning?

Yes. Who we are in our humanness and in our brokenness. Our beauty and our brokenness and how that relates to scripture and those very deep questions you were searching for with regard to the human condition.

Yeah. I think, strangely enough, it was a deep question, and Christ has provided a deep answer, and for me, I can only give what might seem almost shallow in its simplicity, but it just brought me peace. From the Old Testament through to Revelation, from the broken promises in the Garden of Eden and then the promises of God throughout the Old Testament: “I will provide a new creation.” “I will provide atonement.” “I will wipe away all tears.” And then Christ coming and saying, “I’m here to complete the Father’s work. My meat is to do the work of the Father,” until He said, on the cross, “It is done.” “Tetelestai.” “It is finished.” Through to John’s Revelation where there is a new heaven and earth and there is restoration with Christ and all tears are wiped away and we have access to the tree of life, that huge beginning-to-end vast cosmic picture just gave me one very simplistic response, “Yay!”

Well, yeah!

It’s all planned.” God has it all from beginning to end, even through our suffering and our problems. We just have to rest. “I have brought you rest,” was the final sense of how I responded to my investigation.

That’s amazing! It seems to me that this cosmic Christ, who is the One, like you say, over all, in control of all in this extraordinary cosmic way is also incredibly very personal. It sounds like what He brings, not only overall cosmos, He also brings into your life this sense of movement from chaos to shalom. You keep speaking of rest and peace, and that was your response. And that’s really a beautiful kind of response because you can see how the pieces are placed together, and there must be some kind of rest in that, to have these grand questions answered in a way that you were intently seeking.

Very much so. In terms of that resting, I’ve just remembered something that happened to me which I’d like to share?

Yes, yes, certainly.

I was busy with studying Sufism at the time, and it’s an esoteric aspect within Islam. It’s a truly beautiful spiritual path in terms of trying to perfect yourself and to work on your forgiveness and your grace, and I was working very hard at that. I did tend to judge other people, and I was wrestling with myself. I was trying to force myself through meditation and so on. I was trying to force myself into a state of loving patience, which is very important in Sufism. And I was aspiring to this goal. I was focusing. I was meditating. And then one day my neighbor’s kids drove me nuts, really nuts. Because they had regular long screaming matches, so I stormed outside, and I had a confrontation with the caretaker, and I came back in my house and I . . . Really. I threw up my hands, and I said aloud, “I give up! I’m done with all of this! I cannot do it!” And then a quiet voice in my mind, but I promise it was not my thought. A quiet voice just said, “Of course you can’t.”

Yes. Of course.

“Of course you can’t.” I was trying to perfect myself, make myself some kind of superhuman, wonderfully blissful, kind, gracious, calm person, and I was trying to master my emotions. I was trying to force myself to be what I wasn’t, which is quite an explosive personality, and this voice just said, “Of course you can’t.” I can’t tell you what relief I felt! I felt as though I’d been trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Or as if I was traveling in a train and I’d been carrying a huge burden, and someone just said, “Why don’t you put that down? The train will take you.” I laughed. I cannot tell you the sense of relief I felt. There was such a pressure and a burden that just left me. I felt light. I felt liberated. I felt set free. And for some reason I thought, “I don’t have to do this. I don’t have to do it. There’s nothing I have to do. I can just rest, and it’s going to be okay.” Now at that stage I was still into many, many other . . . I hadn’t even started exploring Christianity, so I didn’t even know what this peace was about or where it was going to lead me or where it would come from or what it meant, but I’ll never forget that sense of, “It’s not my fight. I don’t have to wrestle. I can rest!” And I cannot help feeling that, in those early days, the Holy Spirit was somehow trying to tell me, “Don’t worry.”

Yes. I would imagine so. There really is something so relieving when you come to the realization that it really isn’t all about you. And what you can do. It’s about what Christ has already done for you on the cross. I imagine, when you reading through the New Testament then after that, when you came to Jesus’s words, where he says, “Those of you who are heavily ladened or burdened, come to Me, and I will give you rest,” that must have resonated when you ran across that passage.

It absolutely did. I thought, “This is what I sensed a long time ago, without even realizing what the source was.”

So all of the pieces then came together, and you came to a place obviously of belief that it made sense, not only of the cosmos but of the world and made sense of your world in a sense.

It did absolutely. When I realized that, if people had created or invented, fabricated, all of these details that I’m speaking about that fit in, it would have been a spectacularly, impossibly well-structured exaggeration”Go away and make up some stories and talk about him amongst yourselves.” It would be impossible for that to happen in such a coherent way, for such a voice to come through, and then, as you said, for it to all fit in with the Old Testament. Or it would have been a sophisticated and uniquely brilliant fraud, but why would people do that? Why would they go back . . . because people often say, “Well, it’s easy for the guys who wrote the New Testament to copy stuff from the Old Testament and to make it look as though there’s a connection,” but why would they even do that? There’s no motivation to make up a whole lot of details, and of course, they couldn’t have created all of the details around Jesus dying on Passover and rising on the day of Firstfruits Festival and so on. But there would be no reason for them to do it. There wasn’t even an expectation that the Messiah would die and rise, so why would they create that strange thing?

So yeah, it was the way everything fitted in together, and then, as you say, the sense that, “Okay. Although we might rail against it, this idea of the original fall and rebellion and God’s long-term plan does make sense in terms of our world experience. Why are we suffering like this? What does it mean? Does it mean that life is completely meaningless? Should we just give up and look to our own humanist selves for our morals and our ethos and our ethics? It did, as we say, answer the questions about how do we live life and what is the purpose of life. Nothing, no other belief system, had answered those questions with such clarity and intellectual satisfaction.

So you know I constantly hear this sense that there is a presumption about who Jesus is, what the Bible is, what Christianity is, who Christians are, and somehow, when someone actually gets close enough—perhaps not to some Christians, I guess—but they see something so totally other than what they expected. And you used the word surprised earlier. It was a total surprise. I would imagine that, in a way, you’re still somewhat surprised, as someone who was seeking to disprove Christianity, now to find yourself now a strong advocate for it.

What I thought once I got to this point was, “I would like to have known this stuff when I was asking questions decades ago.” I would have liked to have found a book that said, “Look at these connections. The stuff you can’t make up. And look at the coherence of the whole picture, from Genesis through to Revelation. Who would have made all of that up? And look at science. has science answered all the big questions? Or are they also still seeking?” These are the things that weren’t easily accessible to me in my search, so then I thought, “Well, I’d like people to know this, because I think it’s useful stuff. Whatever they decided, I would like people to have this interesting information to work from.”

So that’s what drove you write. So that others could have what you didn’t? Yes. That’s really wonderful. So considering you as a former skeptic, if you were to speak to those who are currently skeptics, or perhaps listening, even interested and looking into Christianity, what would you advise them in terms of a search?

Well, firstly, I’d like to encourage an open-minded approach because reality is so much more complex and mysterious than it appears to us, and there are some very good science books written about this that are accessible. Paul Davies particularly writes very accessible science that opens one’s mind. And I would also encourage people who are either seeking or not believing to be very skeptical when they hear confident assertions that natural processes have explained everything about how the universe arose and how intelligent life developed on earth, because that’s simply not true. There are highly respected scientists that are saying exactly the opposite, and many are concluding that an intelligent creator makes more logical sense from scientific evidence than simply random development. So you often hear people out there saying, “Oh, yeah, but they’ve created life in the laboratory. They know how the universe arose from quantum fluctuations,” and so on. Those are simplistic statements that are not supported by the science.

And Marcos Eberlin . . . he’s an award-winning chemist. He published in just 2019? He summarized a whole lot of scientific findings regarding the development of life on earth, and his book is endorsed by Nobel prize winners, and this is the title of his book, because it says everything—his book is called Foresight: How the Chemistry of Life Reveals Planning and Purpose. That’s a Nobel winning—well, he didn’t win the Nobel prize, but the guys who endorsed his book did, and he says there is definite evidence of foresight. So don’t be cut off or overwhelmed or convinced by superficial statements out there that science has explained it all, because that’s just not true.

So, Julie, for those Christians who are listening who want to engage more thoughtfully not only with their own worldview but also engaging, helping others to see that perhaps Christianity isn’t as simplistic as they think it is, how would you encourage Christians to engage with those who are skeptical?

Yeah. I think it’s really important for Christians to be well informed because there’s so much vociferous and intense attack almost on Christian belief, that it has to be anti-rationalist, that it’s in conflict with science, that it is simplistic and narrow and stupid. There’s so much of that out there, and increasingly so with the proponents of new atheism, that I think Christians could only benefit from knowing what science says, which is not in conflict with scripture, to my way of thinking, anyway. I’m not talking about necessarily the six-day argument that becomes quite complicated in itself, but just the overall sense of a Creator God who’s in control, He sent His Son, the work that Jesus has done. There’s nothing here that conflicts with science, and there are so many scientists who have been brought to Christ through their scientific work, brought to faith, brought to belief in God, and I think Christians can only benefit from knowing this, so that they don’t have to be defensive or try to block discussion with people because they feel that they don’t have a strong position.

And all these accusations about Jesus as composite myth, the early deification of Jesus, paganizing influences in the church, the corruption of scripture, a lot of the arguments that are out there, they are weak arguments, and they have been disproven again and again, so it’s useful to know that and to hear the argument that refutes these skeptical atheist challenges. So if people are interested in strengthening their faith, then well that’s what the book’s for.

Yes. Yes. I think there’s something to be said for just not ignoring the difficult questions and difficult issues but actually—when you dig in and dive in, you actually see the profundity of the Christian worldview and how it makes sense of reality, it makes sense of science, it makes sense of what we see and experience and know in our world and in ourselves, and it always serves to strengthen your faith and your witness for Christianity. I think that that’s a good word. Is there anything else you’d like to add, Julie? Before we wrap up? Any other thoughts?

I think just thank you for inviting a share, and I do hope that others out there who haven’t come to faith might consider at least exploring the possibility and that others stand strong in their faith, because we’re going to need to.

Yes, yes. You have an extraordinary story, Julie. I again am so impressed with the intentionality and the diligence, the pursuit to really look for truth, truth and you found Truth with a capital T and not only truth intellectually, but you found truth in the person of Jesus. As not only a compelling figure for all of history but also for your life. That’s a really beautiful thing. It’s obvious. Your passion is obvious. And I do hope that those who are listening will take a closer look at her story and the way she methodically courses through all these difficult questions, through her book, and I do hope that you’ll take a look. And I again will—the name of it is?

A Skeptic’s Investigation into Jesus.

A Skeptic’s Investigation into Jesus, and we will put a link on our episode notes for anyone who’s looking for that. Thank you again, Julie. It’s been such a pleasure. Thank you for telling your story.

Thank you, Jana, and to anyone who listens. Thank you. Bless you.

Thanks for tuning into the Side B Podcast to hear Julie’s story. You can find out more about her book, A Skeptic’s Investigation into Jesus, by looking at the episode notes. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can reach me by email at thesidebpodcast@cslewisinstitute.org. If you enjoyed it, please subscribe and share this podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we’ll be seeing how someone else flips the record of their life.

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