Today I was on the Cal State University at Long Beach campus and shared Christ with two people and gave away two booklets.
Here are their survey answers and the highlights of our conversation.
To see the Survey questions, click the Survey page.
Legend- Y=Yes, LY=Leans Yes, NoO=No Opinion, LN=Leans No, N=No
Undergraduate History Major
I will call this young man Bill. He’s a strong atheist who says he likes to keep an open mind but seems to have an extremely closed mind about Christianity.
Me: Did you find the questions interesting?
Bill: Yes, I did.
Me: Which question did you find most interesting?
Bill: The last two.
Me: Why is that?
Bill: They made me think and I didn’t have an answer for them. I don’t think I would become a Christian under any circumstance.
Me: Why is that?
Bill: For one thing, I trust science and the scientific method in the same sense Christians have faith in Jesus.
Me: Science and faith in Jesus are not truly in conflict… but we can come back to that. I want to probe another answer you gave if you don’t mind me asking.
Bill: Go ahead.
Me: I asked if it was ever possible to know absolute truth about anything and you answered Leans No. If you doubt that it’s possible to know anything, why go to university?
Bill: It’s fun. Plus, I want a career in academia.
Me: Okay. You say you are an atheist. How did you come to that worldview?
Bill: I’m an atheist because I believe the Abrahamic religions (Jewish, Christian and Islam) are immoral. As a child my parents (who were unbelievers) took me to church after the Columbine shootings because they thought it would be good for me. While there a pastor said some of the Columbine victims were shot because they would not deny Jesus. The pastor said we should do the same. That was the moment I became an atheist. Over time my atheism has been confirmed.
Me: Confirmed how?
Bill: Confirmed by the belief that the Abrahamic God is immoral. The reason is hell. Hell is immoral. How could a just God punish a finite sin with an infinite period of torment. Any God who would allow that is a monster. Don’t you agree?
Me: Hell is a very sad subject. I don’t know how to explain it but I can say God doesn’t need me to defend his moral decisions. I may not understand them but I would never say God is immoral.
Bill: I don’t mean to offend you.
Me: Not at all. If I didn’t want to know what you think, I wouldn’t have asked you. Let’s go back to the question of meaning and purpose in life. You answered Leans No. Wouldn’t life make more sense if it had meaning and purpose?
Bill: I believe we are social beings. If life has a purpose, it is to be social, to love your family and take care of the people around you. That’s a purpose.
Me: Okay, let’s go to the questions about science supporting the concept of a Creator God.
Bill: Even if it did, it could be a Hindu god.
At this point I pull out one of my booklets and begin to tell him the story
Me: Allan Sandage was an astronomer who made a discovery in 1974 that the universe was going to expand forever. That told him that the Big Bang was a one-time event. One-time events don’t happen in nature. In physics, one-time events are known as miracles. If the beginning of the universe was a miracle, that meant that God created. As an atheist, Sandage did not know which God. It put him on a two-year long spiritual journey and then he finally put his faith in Jesus.
Bill: Yeah, I don’t think I would ever go there. If the science pointed to God, I might believe in a deistic God but certainly not a God of the Bible.
Me: If you think you would read this booklet I wrote, I would be pleased to give you a copy.
Bill: Yes, I will read it.
Me: Thanks for taking the time.
Bill: It was good talking to you. You’re really nice for a Christian.
Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Major
This young man had a Middle Eastern name. Since I’m not good with Middle Eastern names, I will call him Shawn. Shawn’s a Muslim but he did not want to be considered an expert on the religion. Here are his answers.
When I asked question 10 “If the historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead was strong, would you follow Jesus?” he said “No, but for reasons.” After the survey, our conversation went like this:
Me: On question 10 you said “No, but for reasons.” What reasons?
Shawn: As a Muslim, I believe Jesus is just another creature of God. I would follow God, but not one of his creatures.
Me: So it wouldn’t make any difference to you if Jesus rose from the dead?
Shawn: As a Muslim, we do not believe Jesus died. I know you Christians believe he died and rose again but Islam does not teach that.
Me: Have you heard of Muslims having Jesus dreams?
Shawn: No, I haven’t heard of that.
Me: I met a man five months ago who told me some very interesting stories about when he lived in the Middle East. He said Muslims were dreaming about Jesus and then becoming followers of Jesus. I went onto youtube and searched for “Muslims Jesus dreams” and found a bunch of videos of Muslims talking about their dreams about Jesus. That’s why I asked. I just wondered if you had heard about it.
Shawn: No, I haven’t.
At this point I pull out one of my booklets and talk to him about Allen Sandage and his scientific discovery that convinced him God created the universe at the Big Bang. After discussing that for a few minutes, he agreed to read it. Then I had one final question for him.
Me: Tell me about your view of the Quran.
Shawn: In Islam, Quran is the primary credible source and you have to study to see if what is written still applies today. Quran reading is encouraged. There are teachers whoo who study the Quran all the time. You can listen to them but you still have to think for yourself.
Me: Thank you for explaining that to me. I should probably be going.
Shawn: Everything you said about the existence of God fits with Islam very well. I can’t deny Jesus because he is one of the prophets. The only thing that’s different is you saying Jesus is the son of God. Other than that, there are many similarities between your faith and Islam.
Me: Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.
These two students are two examples of the “hard ground” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 13. Did my conversations with them do any good? All I know is that these two students enjoyed a conversation about Jesus. I have to believe that’s a good thing.
Please pray for them that God might use today’s conversations in a meaningful way.