Unanswered Prayer & Atheism – Brandon McConnell’s story

Nov 27, 2020

Side B Stories
Side B Stories
Unanswered Prayer & Atheism - Brandon McConnell's story

Many people reject God because of a heartbreaking event in their lives.  In today’s episode Brandon talks about not only what pushed him away from God, but also what drew him towards belief in God.

You can follow Brandon on his Facebook page called Crooked Sticks at https://www.facebook.com/watch/Crooked-Sticks-110454164069538

If you’re looking for the Cold Case Christianity book investigating evidence on Christianity by cold case detective J Warner Wallace, you can find it here:

Episode Transcript

Hello, everyone, and thanks for joining me today. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re listening to the Side B Podcast, where we listen to the other side. Each podcast, we listen to the story of a former atheist who changed their mind and came to believe in God. We explore both sides of their life, their life and views as atheists, what made them become open to another perspective, why they decided to become Christians, and how their lives have changed. There are seemingly many reasons to reject God. One of them is disappointment with God. God doesn’t really seem to be there to answer prayers. He seems to be missing in action, and He doesn’t see or hear us when we ask for Him to intervene, to do something.

In my doctoral research, I asked more than 50 atheists why they didn’t believe that God existed. On the survey, they could select all kinds of answers, including a lack of all kinds of objective evidence, but one of the most surprising findings was that the number one answer to this question was a lack of subjective evidence for God. That is, they doubted His existence because He didn’t show up in some personal way in their lives. If there was expectation, it was followed by disappointment. If God exists, He’s not good, or perhaps God just isn’t there. But no matter the reason for disbelief, it always begged the question for me what made them change their mind about God and become a Christian? What made them look to the other side, to Side B, another perspective? There must have been something that outweighed their prior doubt, disappointment, and belief.

Today, we’ll be talking with Brandon McConnell. That’s his story. He was a former atheist who came to Christian faith against all odds. Welcome to the podcast, Brandon. It’s so great to have you on the show!

Hey, thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be here.

As we’re getting started, Brandon, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Yeah, my name is Brandon McConnell. I’m 39 years old. I actually turn 40 in October. I live right outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m married. I have four kids and a golden doodle.

A golden doodle. I love dogs! I love dogs. I have two goldens myself. They keep you busy, sometimes even more than the children, I must say.

Yeah. I’m actually not a dog person, but my wife and kids love dogs, and we needed something hypoallergenic, and I actually him better than any dog I’ve ever had.

Well, it’s hard not to like dogs, especially anything with a golden mix.


Yeah. So, Brandon, let’s start your story. You are a former atheist, so that started somewhere. So why don’t you give me a little bit of framework for where you grew up. What was the culture in which you grew up? Was it religious? Was it not religious? Was it nominally religious? Why don’t you tell me about the community and the culture in which you were raised?

I grew up in a very small town in western Pennsylvania, and it was almost entirely Catholic, Roman Catholic, and I was kind of like an outsider because I wasn’t Italian, I wasn’t Catholic, and I wasn’t religious, Christian, whatever at all. And everybody just did the Catholicism thing.

What do you mean by that? Did the Catholicism thing? There was a sense in a community that it was just part of the furniture there? The rituals and the rhymes of Catholic faith were around?

Yeah. Like when I was in late elementary school and junior high and high school, they had these classes that they went to after school to learn more about Catholicism and the Catholic Church, like CDC, I think, was one of the acronyms I always heard, and it just seemed like everybody was part of something that I had no idea what was going on. And I grew up out in the country outside this town. Not a lot of people around. My parents were super duper poor, and I had a very isolated upbringing. It was just me and my brother, for the most part, and me and my brother weren’t interested in the same stuff.

So in your family, Brandon, did they have any kind of religious reference at all? Or even if they didn’t have any kind of religious faith, did they give you any understanding of Catholicism, maybe? Because it was around you. Or even references to God or even through Christmas, any kind of culture reference? Did they speak to you in that way?

We celebrated Christmas because that was a day to get presents. We celebrated Easter because that was a day to get candy. But as far as an actual faith in an actual God, I don’t remember any of that being part of the narrative until I went looking for it myself, quite frankly.

So there wasn’t any overt rejection of God, it just wasn’t in your family in terms of an understanding that God’s real or whatever. It was just a cultural reference.

Yeah. I would say it was a very apathetic approach to the existential things that face us.

Right, right. So you were just living life and going with the flow.


So no real belief in God as a child. You just never gave God much thought.

No, not at all.

Okay. So you’re moving along and through high school, and you’re just without thinking about God and these existential questions. What did you think… Or did you give any thought to what religion was at that point? Or was it just a cultural reference?

It was a cultural thing that I wasn’t a part of, and as I got older, I started to see it as weakness. Like, “Man, why do these people need this God? Why do they need this Jesus that they talk about? Why is that such a need for these weak-minded people?” It is the way I approached it. It’s what I thought.

So you didn’t mind being an outsider, I guess, because you had a negative view towards Christians and Christianity eventually.

Yeah. You touched on something there. Being an outsider is… It’s always been the way I was. I didn’t have a ton of friends growing up. I lived out in the middle of nowhere. I spent most of my time out in the woods exploring and hiking and just spending time alone, and I kind of liked it that way. I’m an introvert who fakes extroversion really well. How about that?

Yes. Yeah. So you’re moving along in your life, and then what happens that might disrupt your life or that makes a difference and makes you open towards the possibility of God?

Well, there was a huge disruption when I was 18, and I actually had to get further from God because I could even consider that he existed. My dad died when I was 18. I was working construction at the time. I was notified that my father had a heart attack. I was living in North Carolina. He was living in Pennsylvania, and he was actually on a business trip in Virginia when he had his heart attack, and I immediately just fell to the ground, and just something told me that my dad was going to die. I just knew my dad was going to die. He was not going to survive this heart attack. And I started to pray this sobbing tear-soaked prayer to God, as I understood Him at the time, or as I considered Him at the time, and begged him to spare my dad’s life, and I did not get what I wanted. We unplugged him from the machines three days later.

That must’ve been incredibly difficult.

Yeah. And one of the hardest things I’ve been through, for sure.

So that unanswered prayer, what did it do for you in terms of your view of God at that time?

It gave me the opinion that either He flat-out didn’t exist, or if He did exist, that He was a very scornful and hateful being. And the way that manifested itself in my life was He couldn’t exist, He doesn’t exist, and I went to war with God for the next five years.

Went to war? Those are pretty strong fighting words, really. What did that look like?

Anywhere I saw anybody practicing any sort of faith in God, I would ridicule. I would confront. I would antagonize. I would belittle. Yeah. I was an idiot, but I was a very outspoken idiot. I can remember one time being in a bookstore and taking a stack of Bibles and putting them in the religious fiction section. Just silly, petty, little stuff like that. To express to the world my opinion, my beliefs, my hatred of God and anybody that was weak enough to believe in a God.

Okay, so you were pretty extroverted in terms of your views against God, your overt rejection of Him, and anything, it sounds like anything that represented Him, I guess particularly Christianity, that you rejected the Judeo-Christian God specifically? Because I presume that’s the God you prayed to.

Well, it’s tough to say who you’re praying to when you don’t have any education, no basis of faith, never read a Bible or a Koran or anything, but yeah, I would’ve said the Judeo-Christian God, because that was what I saw people putting their faith in at the time.

So you were rejecting God, and it sounds like you were probably 18… You said four to five years, into your early twenties. So you were rejecting God. Did you understand what you were embracing in terms of the opposite or different? What was your reality? Where did you find truth or substantiation for your own worldview at that time? Your own way of thinking?

I worshiped at the church of science. I thought science had all the answers. I believed the big bang. I believed in macro evolution. Basically everything that was taught in science class in high school and college. I was sold out to that 100%.

That there was no need for God, that hypothesis.


Yeah, yeah. So you’re moving along, and why don’t you tell me… Just keep going on with your story. What happened next?

So when my dad died, I moved back from North Carolina to Pennsylvania. My mom was really struggling, financially, psychologically, so I moved back in with my mom. I think I would have been about 19, 20 at the time, and I started going to college. I always wanted to fly planes, so I took out a bunch of loans, and I went to a professional piloting school near where I grew up, and I was doing that, and I still remember, 9/11 happened my first semester in flight school.

Oh my!

It completely changed the entire game. And basically all the piloting jobs for the foreseeable future dried up overnight, and they had a dual piloting/air traffic control program, so I switched over to air traffic control, did a couple of semesters at ATC, and then, over the summer one year, this was when God showed up in my life. And my faith in science and medicine and everything was crushed.

What happened?

So I’m in ATC school, and I was drinking, doing drugs, hanging out, partying, just living that lifestyle, and I woke up one morning to the sound of my phone ringing, and I couldn’t see. Like I’m looking at the screen on my phone… This is back in the day of the old flip phones, so it wasn’t like an iPhone or something like that, and I couldn’t read the screen on my phone, and I’m rubbing my eyes, and I’m like, “Man, what’s going on?” Everything was just super, super blurry, and my brother came in my room, and I could tell it was a person standing there. I couldn’t recognize my brother.

My eyes were really, really blurry, and I had my brother take me to the eye doctor. They did what’s called a visual field test, which basically means you push a button every time you see a light light up in different areas of a screen in front of you, and what that revealed was 80% of my visual field was blocked out, and what your brain does when that happens is it tries to fill in the gaps, and when it fills in the gaps, it just makes everything really, really blurry. So I went from the eye doctor to the hospital in the back of an ambulance because they thought I had a tumor on my ocular nerve, and I spent the next two weeks in the hospital. MRIs, CAT scans. They did a spinal tap because they thought I could have multiple sclerosis. Many, many, many different things. I was in the hospital for two weeks. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t watch television. All I could really do is sit there and think, and I felt fine. I was healthy. I didn’t feel sick. But I couldn’t see.

And that started to crack the door to… Maybe science doesn’t explain everything. Maybe medicine isn’t worthy of my worship. Because it was very frustrating having something clearly going on, and nobody was able to explain it to me.

I’m sure that was disconcerting in many ways, just the whole episode itself and that science didn’t live up to your expectations there, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to sit there and just be able to think for two weeks and not do much else. So, you know, when you back away from life and you’re in this disrupted place, it’s a sobering thing. So what happened? What happened to your visual issues? Did they resolve?

So after two weeks, I just looked at the doctor one day. I was like, “Look, nothing’s getting done here.” It’s not cheap to stay in the hospital. I was like, “I can go home and feel fine and not be able to see. We’re not accomplishing anything,” so I checked myself out of the hospital, had my brother take me home, and about week three, it started to clear up, and I was selling TVs at Circuit City at the time. This was when I was in college. I was like, “I can go back to work.” I just needed to get out of the house. I’m not built to sit still. I am not a do-nothing type of guy. So I just finally said, “Look, Justin,” that’s my brother. I was like, “You can drive me back and forth to work. I can see well enough to sell TVs. I just can’t see well enough to drive,” and that’s what I did, and it eventually slowly cleared up to the point where I was back to normal probably a month, month and a half after it all started.

So, in that period of time, when you had some time for reflection and contemplation, sitting there, as well as things were not back to normal, did you ever consider… You were disappointed with science, but were you willing to reach out then again to God or anything? Even though He had disappointed you the first time?

I never really considered that option at that time. I knew science was coming up short, but I didn’t see where God fills the gaps. I get very frustrated when people say that science and God are inconsistent or incompatible. Science and God are very compatible except for when we get to the origins of how everything got started. I think belief in science and the scientific method is important. It’s not as important as my faith in Jesus, but it’s important to understand how things around us work, and science is just basically the study of how God created things. So I’m not one of those science-rejecting… Like if I got sick, I’m going to the doctor. I’m not going to pray for.. I’ll pray for healing, but I’m also going to go to the doctor. I’m not one of those people that’s going to let my kid die because, you know, “We have faith in God, so we’re not going to leverage science to solve our problem.”

Right. Yeah. I’m glad you made that clear, because as you say, science and God are very compatible. So it’s not a rejection of science outright. It’s just a rejection of science as perhaps the ultimate explainer.

Yeah. It’s the rejection of seeing science as the solution to every problem that we have. And I mean we’re seeing that right now with this COVID-19 stuff. We are seeing the shortcomings of men who like to play God and act like they can solve every problem we have. And when you put your faith in man to solve everything and you trust them and you take their advice, it can be described as… It’s not far short of worship for science and the scientific community. We’re seeing where that comes up short right now.

Yes, I hear what you’re saying. Absolutely. So you were in this place… Back to your story again, you were in this place where your visual problems were resolving gradually, and you were returning back to work. How did that play out in terms of your life and perhaps was it playing on… Obviously some of your physical impairment affected your ability to do things like drive and that, but did it affect you emotionally at all?

It had dramatic effects on me emotionally. I was told I was taking the largest dose of prednisone that they could prescribe legally, and it was an IV drip, and I don’t know if you’ve ever taken steroids?


Good Lord, I was just absolutely miserable. It made me want to eat everything and kill anybody. And I gained a massive amount of weight in a very short amount of time. I was lying in a hospital bed and just irritable, very, very, very irritable. So yeah, that definitely had an effect, but I checked myself out of the hospital, I went back to work, things cleared up, and I started to go back down the course of my life. I had to drop out of school. I’d missed too much school, and to be honest with you, I had a lot more interest in being a pilot than I did in being an air traffic controller. I wasn’t very good at keeping those dots on that screen that were one day going to represent hundreds of lives. I wasn’t very good at keeping them from running into each other, which is a problem.

Well, that is a problem.

Yeah. So I dropped out of ATC and shortly thereafter made the decision to move to North Carolina because my whole family has migrated from western Pennsylvania to North Carolina over a couple-year period. It’s kind of strange. So I moved down here. I started working in real estate for my uncle, and shortly after I got down here, it happened again. The visual stuff happened again.

And the first time didn’t really freak me out, but the second time, man, it shook my entire foundation of everything. And it didn’t last nearly as long this time, but I was like, “Man, there is really something wrong with me. Nobody can explain to me what it is, and it’s happening again.”

Wow! I bet that was incredibly disconcerting.

Yeah, yeah. That was when I started to consider alternative explanations for how we all got here, and I dipped my toe into a lot of different worldviews, in a swimming pool of a lot of different worldviews. I looked into Buddhism. Basically, I explored everything but Christianity first because that was what people were wanting me to look into. I have aunts and uncles and cousins and stuff like that who are Bible-believing Christians, and I don’t like to be part of the crowd. I like to do my own thing, so I looked at everything other than Jesus first. And it all came up short. It all came up short. And every system of faith that I looked into was man striving to reach God, and that just fundamentally goes against who I see myself as a person. I’m not a pleaser. I’m not somebody that wants to make… As much as you can humanize God, I’m not somebody that wants to try to make God happy at that time. Obviously, now I want to make God happy, but in my misunderstanding and my lack of knowledge of His greatness and sovereignty and beauty, I was anti-God, so I was anti anything that was me striving to please anything outside myself.

Yes. So these other worldviews were coming up short, but obviously you didn’t stop there. You ended up turning somehow towards the one faith that you were trying to avoid. Tell me about that.

So I had a family member come over to visit when the blindness or whatever you want to call it had set in again, and we were sitting on my couch in my apartment, and she was very… Everybody walked on eggshells around me when it came to things of faith because they knew where I stood and they knew how aggressive I had been, but she shared with me the story of Saul on the road to Damascus, and she told me that the Lord blinded him to get his attention, and I wouldn’t show it at the time, but man, did that rock my world. I didn’t give her the satisfaction of acting like that affected me, but holy cow, did that affect me! And that interaction was what got me to start actually looking into the evidence of things like the resurrection, and you know, that’s the lynchpin of Christianity, right? If the resurrection didn’t happen, none of it happened.


And I’m very cynical, very… I need evidence. I need proof. And it was at that point that I started to put Christianity on the same playing field and the same burden of evidence as I did for science. There are things… If you believe in macro evolution, like humans evolved from pond scum to what we are now, there are massive, massive gaps in the line of explanation of how this happened. And to think that, like, this clump of cells over here evolved into a toenail and this clump of cells over here somehow evolved into the medulla oblongata, like it just didn’t make sense. And I started to apply the same burden of evidence I had for evolution… Well, that’s my worldview. I have to allow that for Christianity. And I just started to pursue what made the most sense. What was the best explanation while allowing for the fact that I was not going to ever have an absolute 100% explanation of anything. Any worldview requires faith. And I prefer to put my faith in what makes the most sense. And I’m sure you’ve heard this example or this metaphor before, but if you look at a house, it makes more sense to look at a house and say, “Yep, somebody built that,” than it does to say, “Yeah, that just came from nowhere.” It doesn’t make sense.


When I started to allow for that burden of evidence and just be a little bit easier on Christianity… It doesn’t mean I turned my brain off. I did so much more thinking to come to the Christian worldview than I ever did to come to the evolution, big bang, scientific worldview. That was spoon fed to me by authority figures. And I always thought that Christianity was spoon fed to… And for some people it is. There’s a lot of Christians who don’t know why they believe what they believe. And I think that’s why you see so many people falling away from the faith and churches closing and stuff like that. Because they’re not getting asked the hard questions and offered explanations early in life. So yeah, that’s what cracked the door, and just one night, that same… It was my aunt. That same aunt invited me to go to this thing called The Power Team. It’s for little kids. If you don’t know what The Power Team is, they’re basically big beefy strong felons who put their faith in Jesus, and they do these feats of strength and share the gospel, and so after the story of Saul on the road to Damascus, I was invited to that. I went, and they did the altar call, and I was a passenger in my own ship at that point.

Wow! That’s amazing!


Just to back up for just a moment, obviously you were investigating things that made the Christian world make sense, or you were open enough to see, perhaps, evidence in a new way and see things come together, and then you were invited to this event, and you talked about them giving the gospel. What did you mean by that? What is the gospel? What was it there that was so compelling that you couldn’t resist?

It was at that point that… One of these guys had a manslaughter charge. He killed somebody, went to prison, served time, was saved through prison ministry, and he’s talking about how there’s nothing you can do that Jesus can’t redeem, and my entire growing-up time, around all the Catholics and all the rituals surrounding Catholicism, they always put on this shiny new penny exterior, and I looked at it, and I was like, A, I’m never going to be that good, and B, who wants to be? And I thought that’s what Christianity was, and this guy… I have no idea who he is, I’ll never see him again, and he’ll probably never hear this, but he’s talking about the things that he did that Jesus redeemed, and I was like, “Holy cow! I’ve done nothing compared to this…” And it’s not… There’s no hierarchy of sin. There’s no sin worse than another from God’s perspective, but as human beings, we tend to do that. We tend to put, “Oh, I said a cuss word,” versus, “I killed somebody.” They’re not even on the same playing field, but the word of God does not draw that hierarchy of sin, and for me, that was extremely compelling because it caused me get out of my seat and go down and receive this Jesus that he was talking about.

And I still had a very, very, very limited understanding of what this thing was, but I just wanted that joy. I wanted that release of a burden of living under this sin that I was entrapped in. Yeah. And so I had to do a lot of self study, a lot of reading and learning and listening over the last, I guess decade and a half now, to get where I’m at, but man, I’m so thankful for the way that I grew up and the way that I had to go through everything because I have a much stronger faith now than most people who grew up in the church because it wasn’t my default. It wasn’t my automatic. I never take it for granted because it hasn’t always been here.

Right. And like you say, there was so much… As compared to the default atheism that you fell into, you had to really be open and work towards finding a worldview that you thought was really true and real and explanatory, but once you found the gospel, that nugget of truth, and who Jesus is and that He can make sense of your life and that He can forgive you and set you free, that made all the difference. So since you’ve been living in this for the last 15 years, how have you changed? It sounds like you’ve done a lot of study. Has your life and all of those things that… Have you felt quite a difference because of the gospel, because of Jesus, because of the way that you understand the world now? How has that affected your life?

Yeah. So I can still… I still remember it like yesterday. I literally said to myself, “All right, so I guess I’m a Christian now and life will be easy. Thank God. Life’s going to finally be easy.” God was laughing at that thought. Because life isn’t easier when you have faith with Jesus. If anything, my life has gotten harder. I’ve lost a house in foreclosure. My wife has had a miscarriage. I’ve got four kids now. Life is harder with kids than it is without kids. I’m married. Life is harder when you’re married than it is when you’re not married. But it’s worth it! There’s just more purpose and more meaning in my life than there ever was going to be without what I go through with God on my side. I was in real estate from the time I moved to North Carolina until 2009, which… Anybody that knows recent history knows what we went through in 2008, 2009, especially in the real estate market. I decided to go to the police academy at that point, and I went and became a cop.

I was a cop for five years, and one of the things… God still gives me these little nuggets of evidence and proof and truth, and there’s a book I read called Cold Case Christianity. It’s written by a detective, and he talks about conspiracies and how conspiracies work, and if the resurrection of Christ was a conspiracy, that there’s a couple of things you have to have for a good conspiracy to work, and one of them is very few people, a very short amount of time, and massive gain for keeping the conspiracy together for all the parties involved. And there were eleven disciples plus a couple of ladies that attested that Jesus rose again, and ten of the eleven died horrible deaths because they wouldn’t say Jesus didn’t rise again, and there was no motivation. Like there was no financial gain for doing it. So I started looking at all these different things, and having investigated conspiracies myself, God, that is so true. If you’re investigating a conspiracy, if you can get people separated, give it time, and take away the motivation to keep it together, holy cow, the things unravel very, very, very quickly when you get the parties involved and you start interrogating them and stuff like that, and that’s exactly what happened to the disciples. They were together when they saw him risen again. Jesus ascended, and they scattered, and they never changed their story, man. They were facing death, very painful deaths, crucifixion and I think one or two of them were beheaded, all because they wouldn’t say that Jesus didn’t die and rise again. And that’s just so powerful for someone like me, who just demands proof, demands evidence.

And I don’t see many Christian leaders talking about things like this. I’m a total apologetics nerd, and I love that war. I actually want to get more into that world and explore more, because it’s so fascinating. So you have to look at the proof that you’ve got available, and I don’t know, the older I get, the longer I look into it, and… I mean, I’m skeptical with God. I’m like, “God, did that really happen?” One of my biggest points of skepticism is the book of Jonah. Like, “God, did that dude really go in to the stomach of a fish for three days and then come out?” Even now. But God can handle your skepticism. It’s okay. It’s okay to question God. It’s okay to have that skepticism and just really question everything about what you believe. Because in the end, Christianity can meet all of that.

Brandon, it sounds like you’ve really done a lot of thinking, more than just in your hospital bed for two weeks.


It sounds like what began there has really continued for years now and even just fostered a greater hunger to know what is true, and what I too appreciate about you is that you’re honest with your skepticism and doubt. I think so many people want to hide that or not admit it or not think too deeply because of their own questions, but you don’t let your questions get in the way. You actually use them as a source-

Well, if you have a question about your faith and you don’t want to ask that question, it’s not because you’re afraid of offending or hurting God. It’s because you don’t want to cause trouble. Or you don’t want to make waves in the church. It’s people pleasing, is what it is. And I didn’t come here to please people. I came here to please God. And I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.

Yeah. That’s good counsel, and it’s really a great example, too, of perhaps how we should all be really seeking actively, no matter really what the cost and what the challenge or what the consequence. So, Brandon, as we are wrapping up, you have given so much good advice in so many ways, but I wonder if you could speak directly to perhaps a curious skeptic who might be listening to this podcast, perhaps someone who’s been disappointed with an unanswered prayer or thought God didn’t show up in some way or anything else, what would you say to them?

I would say… When I was an atheist, I used to look at the men and women who were in the church, in the faith, and sometimes I would see hypocrisy. Sometimes I would see shortcomings and failings, and I would say, “Yep, that’s God,” and I would encourage people to look beyond the people and look for God. There’s a lot of stuff that men and women do in the name of God that is a really crappy representation of who God actually is. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most offensive message that there is to the unsaved, because fundamentally it’s the revelation that you’re not God, there’s nothing you can do to be like God in your own power, and it’s the message that you need a savior. You’ve sinned, you’ve fallen short of God, you’re not in control, and there’s nothing you can do in your own power to earn salvation. You have to accept what Christ has provided, the sacrifice He provided on the cross, in order to be saved. And that is very difficult for someone like me to accept, but it’s also very liberating because it frees you from that burden of trying to be a good little boy or a good little girl. I still screw up every day. I sin every single day. I probably sinned before I got on this podcast. That’s the nature that I was given by Adam, but God’s made a way.

And I think if we would get down to the business of actually considering the evidence as it’s presented and put that evidence on the same playing field for the things that we believe by faith no matter what your worldview is, I think Christianity is… The Christian worldview is a giant among other worldviews when you really look at the evidence and you really consider everything.

That’s good advice. I know that there are some skeptics who would say there is no evidence for God. How would you respond to that?

To say there’s no evidence for God… Well, first of all, if you don’t believe, it’s because you don’t want to believe. We just have to get that off the table. I didn’t believe in God because I didn’t want to believe in God, but man, if just look at the world. Just look at what you can see and touch with your hands, the way everything works in perfect harmony. We have the earth tilted at a certain degree to give us seasons. We’ve got the water cycle. We’ve got nature that… It just works in perfect harmony. We’ve got man creates carbon, and trees eat carbon for food, and you know, we treat carbon like it’s a pollutant. Just all of these different systems. And then look inside of a cell. Things that we can see so much better now than when Darwin was alive and see the inner workings of a cell. It’s just amazing. It’s a universe inside of a tiny little thing under a microscope, and the way the human body works, and just… There’s so much that tells me this wasn’t just a happy accident. We didn’t just all come here because of some cosmic explosion with no guidance and no direction, and I get it. I used to believe that because I was programmed that, from an early age, through the education system, but I think if people look at the world around them without the filter, without the script that they’ve been forced to read their whole lives, God reveals Himself. God shows up.

Yeah. So I don’t have any concrete proof. There’s no… I can’t show you that, but if you look for it, you’ll see it.

I think that’s pretty critical. You obviously reached a point to where you were willing to see, and for a lot of us, that really is… There are things we don’t want to see, and there are things that we’re willing to see, and it really does take some intentionality of the will.

Yeah. And I think it’s called faith for a reason, but I put my faith in what makes the most sense. I don’t put my faith in something I’ve been told to believe. I’ve actually searched it out for myself, and I put my faith in the thing that explains things the best. And for me, that ain’t science, and that’s not the big bang, and it’s not evolution. And one thing that gets overlooked a lot is Darwin actually started to doubt his theory towards the end of his life. Nobody talks about that.

That may not be convenient to their narrative.

It’s okay. Doesn’t mean it’s not true.

Yes. So in terms of your advice, turning the page, to Christians. You are a very thoughtful Christian who takes your faith very seriously. Your beliefs are grounded. You also appreciate the fact that some Christians don’t live in a way that’s attractive, obviously, to onlookers. What would you like to say to the Christian right now?

Why do you believe what you believe? I think a lot of Christians have never asked themselves that question. And I’m raising four kids right now, and they can tell you the gospel. But that’s not good enough for me, because I want my kids to know: Why do you believe what you believe? Is that just something you were told? Have you seen any evidence of that? I hammer my kids. Because I don’t want them to go out into this world with a foundation made out of sand, and the second they see a counter worldview, they just crumble like a house of cards, and that’s what happens in colleges in universities all over the country with young adults. Because they’ve never been challenged. They’ve never thought. They’ve never studied apologetics. They’ve never had to debate for it. It’s just been given to them. And that’s weak, and I don’t want kids with weak faith.

For those Christians who actually… Perhaps apologetics is a new term for them, can you explain what apologetics is?

Apologetics is being able to argue for your faith with evidence from the Bible and with evidence from outside the Bible. That’s how I understand it, anyhow. There’s probably a better definition that you could get from somebody like Frank Turek. But I don’t have a better definition. I’m a knuckle dragger apologist. I take the complex, and I distill it down to the simplest explanations that I can come up with.

No, that’s a great explanation, so thank you for that. Is there anything else you would like to add to our conversation together today? Anything that’s come up in your mind?

If this has sparked an interest or a curiosity in anybody, I would say just seek. Seek because not seeking has consequences.

I think that’s a really, really good final word. Brandon, thank you so much for being a part of the Side B Podcast. I’ve loved hearing your story and your insights, and you’ve certainly given us a lot to think about, so thanks for coming on.

Yes, ma’am. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Thanks for being with me today on the Side B Podcast to hear Brandon’s story. If you want to hear more from him, you might want to visit his Facebook page, called Crooked Sticks. I’ve included a link in the episode notes. If you’re also interested in the book that he referenced, Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, I’ve also included a link in the episode notes, so that you can locate that. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can reach me by email at thesidebpodcast@cslewisinstitute.org. If you enjoyed it, subscribe and share this new podcast with your friends and your social network. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we’ll be listening to the other side.

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