Today I surveyed two students and shared Christ with four. That’s not the way the math usually works, but it was a particularly blessed day.
Here are the answers given and the highlights of our discussions with those students.
To see the Survey questions, click the Survey page.
Legend- Y=Yes, LY=Leans Yes, NoO=No Opinion, LN=Leans No, N=No
Undergraduate French Major
I will call this young woman Denise. She identified herself as a Catholic who does not attend church very often. Since she said she was a Jesus follower, I asked her to answer questions 10 and 11 as if she had not yet become a Jesus follower.
Me: Did you find the questions interesting?
Denise: Yes. Why are you doing this survey?
Me: I’m a Christian. I’m not a pastor or anything like that. I’m a local business owner. I got motivated to survey students because I read a statistic a while back that said 70-75% of students raised in Christian homes stop going to church after high school. Does that statistic surprise you?
Denise: Yes, it does actually. I don’t go to church all the time you understand, but I’m surprised that many have stopped. I think it’s hard to find a church where you feel like you fit in.
Me: I’m sure that part of the issue. I’m really interested in the role that intellectual doubts play in keeping people from church. Have you experienced any intellectual doubts about Christianity since coming to university?
Denise: I guess so. Not so much when I go to a Catholic church but sometimes I will go with friends to a non-Catholic Christian church and the pastor was talking about the world being 6,000 years old. My professor taught that we have tree-ring chronologies that go back 8,000 years. I found that confusing. It felt like someone was lying to me but I didn’t know if it was the university professors or the pastor.
Me: I can see how that would be confusing. There are a group of Christians who interpret the Bible to say the world is only 6,000 years old. The Bible does not actually say that anywhere. And many Christians do not hold that view. They accept the science that says the world is billions of years old. It’s possible to have a high view of Scripture without believing the world is 6,000 years old.
Later I told her about my booklet. She was very intrigued to hear about Allan Sandage’s scientific discovery that convinced him that God existed. She promised to read the booklet.
Undergraduate Poli-Sci Major
I will call this young man Mark. He attends a Catholic church but not very often. Because he answered question 9 “Are you a Jesus follower?” with Leans Yes, I asked questions 10 and 11 in a modified manner as follows:
Q. 10. If the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead was strong, would that motivate you to follow Jesus more closely?
Q. 11. If following Jesus gave added meaning and purpose to life, would you follow him more closely?
Here are his answers.
- 10. Y
- 11. LY
Me: Did you find the questions interesting?
Me: What question was most interesting?
Mark: The question about the fine-tuned universe. I don’t really know much about that.
Me: Would you like me to describe that for you?
Mark: Yes, that would be interesting.
Me: Physicists have noticed that there are a number of constants in the universe with values within very narrow ranges. These constants include the strength of gravity, the strength of the electromagnetic force, the speed of light, etc. If the values of these constants were just a little higher or a little lower, the universe would not work like it does. For example, if the strength of gravity was just a little stronger right after the big bang, then the universe would have collapsed on itself and formed a black hole. If gravity was just a little weaker, the universe would have dispersed too quickly and no galaxies or stars would have formed. Theoretically, gravity and these other parameters could have values much different than we see. The universe gives the appearance of being fine-tuned, that is, it looks like someone was very, very careful to give out the right values for these things when the laws of physics were established.
Mark: That’s interesting.
Me: Yes, I agree.
Later I told him about some of my other conversations with students and why I wrote the booklet. He thanked me for the booklet and promised to read it.
Students Recruiting for Their Club
The next conversation was different in a very cool way. I will call the two students Justin and Linda. As usual, this conversation was edited for space.
Justin: Hi! I’d like to tell you about our club. Oh, but you’re probably not a student.
Me: No, I’m not a student.
Justin: What brings you on campus today?
Me: I’m surveying students to find out what they think about important issues relating to science, faith and Jesus.
Justin: You’re a Christian?! Me too!!
Me: That’s great. I’m glad to hear it.
Justin: What’s the survey about exactly?
Me: I learned that many students raised in Christian homes stop going to church after high school and I wondered what was going on at the university. So the survey is largely about science and faith. I’ve learned that science and intellectual doubts play a big role in why students stop going to church.
Justin: I know. I was sharing Christ with someone just the other day and another student says to me “Hello! Do you know where you are? You’re in the science building! No one is going to buy that stuff here.” I told him “That doesn’t matter. The Bible and science are not in conflict” but he just laughed.
Me: Yes, when science and the Bible are rightly interpreted they do not conflict at all, but most people don’t realize that. Anyway, I wanted a tool, like a booklet, I could give to students to show that Christianity was intellectually viable and not contrary to science. I looked for something I could buy and give away, something short enough people might actually read it and cheap enough I could afford to give it away and yet long enough to have compelling information. I couldn’t find anything on the market so I wrote one.
Linda: I want to hear this conversation.
Justin: He’s just telling about a booklet he wrote. Oh! Why Three Brilliant Atheists Became Christians. Awesome!
Linda: And you were saying that science and the Bible are compatible?
Me: Yes, when both are rightly understood.
Linda: This booklet explains that?
Me: Yes, it gives some information. This man, Allan Sandage, made a scientific discovery that the universe was going to expand forever. This shocked Sandage because it meant the big bang was a one-time event. Nature does not do one-time events. In physics, a one-time event is known as a miracle. So, if the beginning of the universe was a miracle, that means God did it. But since Sandage was an atheist at the time, he didn’t know which God was responsible. After a two year long spiritual quest, he put his faith in Jesus.
Linda: This is very interesting. I’m taking Religion 105 right now and we are talking about science and faith. I’m going to use this booklet to do research for my paper!
Me: Awesome! There’s lots of footnotes in there for you to check out. Be sure to watch the youtube videos. I’d also like to give you a copy of this booklet by my pastor Rick Warren. (I hand her a copy of the 64 page booklet “What On Earth Am I Here For?”)
Linda: We are also looking at the issue of faith and purpose in life in my religion class. I will use this for research too!
Please pray for these students that God would meet their needs and work in their hearts to draw them close to Him.