From Atheism To Faith In Christ
I was born in 1948 in Perth, Western Australia. In the early 1950’s we moved to Tuart Hill – a fringe northern suburb in those days. There were no sealed roads and lots of bush land. My childhood I remember as being a happy and contented one. My parents were loving and caring. We weren’t materially well off but had all we really needed. In the 1960’s, as I entered my adolescent years, it seemed an exciting time. The cold war and the space race were on, there was a wealth of new and innovative music – the Beatles, Cream, Chicago and Santana (a few of my favourites). Employment was almost guaranteed. There seemed no limit to what science and technology could achieve. It was a good time to be alive – especially if you were a teenager! Even the threat of nuclear war did not diminish the general optimism – in fact it gave an impetus to live life to the full- while we had it.
Science was the focus of my aspirations – for increased knowledge brought increased control and power over material things – and people. Chemistry held a particular fascination – to which I became a devoted and accomplished student. While studying zoology at university my philosophy of life was challenged. At that time I would have described myself as an atheist. However one aspect of the course got me thinking – embryology. As we studied the embryonic development of a chicken, I was struck by how a single undifferentiated cell, without any direction from outside, could in the matter of 21 days become a functional, living creature. This, in my mind, indicated design and not chance. I couldn’t explain it and so shelved it in my mind.
It was at this time, as man began stepping outside his home of millennia into the seemingly infiniteness of space, that I began to ponder the possibility of extra-terrestrial life beyond this third rock from the sun. After all, if life had evolved on this planet, surely there must be other life forms elsewhere in the universe. Reports of UFO sightings captured my interest. I began collecting press reports and searching library catalogues for books on the subject. I became convinced – there was intelligent life elsewhere in this universe. There were a great number of sightings which could not be explained in terms of known phenomena. And there were the accounts of individuals such as George Adamski who had close encounters of the third kind. Erich von Daniken, author of Chariots of the Gods, presented seemingly convincing evidence that we had been visited by extra-terrestrial beings in our past (both authors have been shown to be fraudulent). I became convinced that God of the Bible was in fact a super intelligent extra-terrestrial. During this time I joined and was an enthusiastic member of a local UFO research group.
In 1971 I met my wife to be, Sue, and in 1972 we were married. We travelled to the UK where we found work near Ipswich. One of the people I was working with was a young guy called Pip (abbreviation of Phillip). He was friendly, but to my mind seemed a bit weird. He was a member of a Christian rock group (Boanerges – or sons of thunder) who played for nothing, entertaining the inmates of Her Majesty’s prisons. Pip drove a Ford Transit van plastered all over with Jesus stickers saying things like “Jesus loves you”. I wasn’t impressed at all. He seemed sincere, but deluded. After all, I knew who God really was – or at least I thought I did. I did my best to try and trip him up with questions about God. Strangely, he always had a reasonable answer and my questioning didn’t seem to shake his belief. His faith seemed more than skin deep.
I figured if I was going to get any where then I needed to read the Bible for myself to find out what it said about God. As I read (starting in Genesis), I gained the strong impression that this was no ordinary book. It seemed to speak with truthfulness, describing events and people as an eye-witness account without any apparent exaggeration. It did not seem a mere collection of man’s theories and mythological tales. I came to the conclusion that I had to accept all of it or none of it. I could find no way I could consistently take some parts as truth and not others. God was either who he said he was – creator of the universe and all living things – or this was one unparalleled con.
During this time, Pip gave me a book to read – ” The Cross and the Switchblade”, the true story about David Wilkerson a pastor who believed God called him to go to New York and speak to gang members about Jesus Christ (you can read an excerpt here or see the movie based on the book on YouTube). What impressed me most about the book was the number of occasions when David Wilkerson received specific answers to prayer. For example, when he needed a certain sum of money to go to New York, he prayed (without telling anyone) and received the exact amount to the dollar. Was he lying or was it just coincidence? There seemed to be no evidence or motivation for lying, and the specific answers to prayer I found hard to attribute to coincidence. I had run out of reasons to not take seriously the message of the Bible.
There was no other logical conclusion – the Bible was true, I had been totally wrong, not only in my thinking but in my living. It was a humbling experience. But then I gained a new perspective – I could see and think clearly – there was a purpose and direction for this life. We were not just a cosmic fluke, an accidental combination of atoms with no purpose or destiny. God was Creator, my Creator, and Jesus Christ his Son, who died and rose again. He would come again at the end of this age to judge the world. He was and is the only one through whom I and all who believe in Him could made right before God. There was hope, there was purpose, there was life! It seemed too my previous goals of pursuing material comforts, having a good time, were trivial and illusory. This world was not going to go on indefinitely – there would be an end when every injustice and wrong that has ever been committed will be judged – by God’s standard, not ours.
Yet at the time of my new found faith I still held my evolutionary views believing it was God who created life on Earth but in an evolutionary way. I hadn’t given much thought to those early chapters of Genesis or seen their significance. Then another work colleague, a Christian, gave me a book ‘The Genesis Flood’ by Whitcomb and Morris which examined the scientific data and the Biblical record and presented clear evidence that the Genesis account of creation was real, reliable and historical. This book was instrumental in grounding and strengthening my faith in the Bible as God’s revealed word.
In the early 1980’s I attended a seminar by the Queensland ministry, Creation Science Foundation (now Creation Ministries International), at a local church. Again I found clear evidence and logical reasons why the creation account (and the Noahaic flood) could be taken to be real and historical and not just as a symbolic framework. I became aware of many other creation ministries throughout the world which similarly researched scientific data and the Biblical record. I believe God raised these up to counter the anti-God and faith destroying evolutionary philosophy so prevalent in the world today. Tragically many have abandoned faith in Christ through believing ‘science’ has proved the Bible wrong. This is why I believe a true understanding of Genesis is essential, not for salvation in Christ, but as a foundation for a faith in the Bible as the infallible and truthful word of God.
So I believe – not because it’s easy, nice or a psychological prop – but because it’s true. My perspective of life has been transformed. It doesn’t mean I never get depressed, or suffer pain or have times of difficulty. No matter what this life may bring – whether good or bad – I know God is in control. This I experienced when my wife of 27 years divorced me. Yet the Eternal Life that he has promised to all who obey him and trust in Jesus is worth infinitely more than this world could ever offer. I can look and enjoy the simple things like the grass and the flowers in the morning sun and think “Wow, that’s beautiful.” Why? Because I know they were made by an infinitely great and intelligent Creator who delights in beauty and creativity. Therefore, whatever life brings I have hope, peace and inner joy because of Jesus Christ.
Peter Miles May 2020