Universities often have presentations and panel discussions in the evenings that are not part of standard coursework. Sometimes students can get extra credit for attending these talks. I thought it might be interesting to approach professors in the philosophy and religion departments to see if I might participate in an upcoming event.
Sharing Christ with a Philosophy Professor
Me: Hi! My name is Ron Cram and I’m a local business owner. I wanted to introduce myself and something I’ve been working on. Do you have a minute?
Prof: What’s this about?
Me: I’m a Christian. I read a statistic that said 70-75% of kids who went to church in high school stopped going to church after high school. I wanted to know why. I began to survey students to learn what they were thinking.
Prof: I was raised in a Christian home and I’m not a believer now.
Me: Okay, so you know what I mean. After I surveyed these students, they would say things to me like “Christianity isn’t intellectually viable.”
Prof: Yeah, well…
Me: Or “Science has disproven the Bible.”
Prof: I do know of scientists who are Christians.
Me: Of course, but you see what I’m hearing from students. There was nothing I could say in the period of a short conversation that would change their entire worldview about Christianity, but I wanted to have something I could give them to think about – like a booklet. I wanted something short enough they might actually read it and cheap enough I could afford to give it away and yet long enough to be compelling. I could not find anything like that on the market, so I wrote one. I would like to give you a copy. (I hand him a copy)
Prof: Thank you.
Me: What area of philosophy do you teach?
Prof: I teach ethics but I do it from a purely secular point of view. God simply doesn’t enter into it.
Me: I see. The reason I wanted to introduce myself is that I’m hoping to take part in a talk or panel discussion on the evidence for God. Do you have a faculty member here to teaches philosophy of religion?
Prof: Yes, she’s not in right now but her office is just across the hall.
Me: Thank you so much!
Here’s the course description for the class she is teaching – Philosophy 330
“This course will examine issues and problems with the traditional attributes associated with the Judeo-Christian God. We will begin by examining traditional conceptions of God, and the role his perfections play in the ontological argument for God’s existence. We will then discuss problems associated with the ontological states of God’s nature. Next we will examine God’s incorporeality, necessary existence, eternality, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. Finally, after examining the attributes individually, we will discuss issues concerned with the compossibility of the attributes and alternative conceptions of God.”
“Text: articles and essays selected by the instructor.”
Isn’t that interesting? The course seems to be only examining problems the instructor has with God. I don’t see any discussion of the cosmological argument for God or the fine-tuning argument for God.
I look forward to meeting this professor soon!
Sharing Christ with a Religion Professor
Me: Hi! I’m sorry to interrupt. I wanted to introduce myself and something I’ve been working on.
Prof: Is this about a book?
Me: In a way. It’s about a booklet. I’m a Christian. I read a statistic that said 70-75% of kids who went to church in high school stopped going to church after high school. I wanted to know why. I began to survey students to learn what they were thinking. After I surveyed them, we would talk. Students would say things to me like “Christianity is a dying religion. The only Christians left are those raised in Christian homes who have not yet been educated out of their superstition.”
Prof: You do hear that a lot.
Me: I know it isn’t true. So I started looking for a booklet I could give away that would show that Christianity is rational and that educated adults choose to accept Christ because the evidence shows faith to be reasonable.
Prof: What booklet do you give away?
Me: I couldn’t find one on the market, so I wrote one. (I pull out a copy and hand it to him.) It has the conversion stories of Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Allan Sandage and Lee Strobel.
Prof: I’ve heard of Strobel.
Me: Yes, he’s pretty well-known. You know Francis Collins also or at least you know his work. He headed up the Human Genome Project that mapped the entire human genome.
Prof: Oh! Of course.
Me: Allan Sandage is the astronomer who took over for Edwin Hubble. Sandage made a scientific discovery that convinced him that God existed.
Prof: I see. (sounding doubtful)
Me: One reason I stopped by today is to see if there’s an upcoming panel discussion or other event I might be able to take part in. What area of religion do you teach?
Prof: I’m on sabbatical right now but I will be teaching again in the fall. I teach a course on Religion and Film. I mainly teach indigenous religions.
Me: Interesting! Have you seen the movie God Is Not Dead?
Prof: No, but I plan to. Did you like it?
Me: Yes, I did!
Prof: Good. I may show it to my class in the fall.
Me: As I mentioned I would like to inquire about upcoming panel discussions about science, philosophy and religion.
Prof: You should talk to the chair of the department. He deals with Christianity and with the Old Testament. Let me write down his email address for you.
Me: Thank you very much!
Leaving the faculty office building, I shared Christ with two atheist students 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 Kinesiology Major
I will call this young man Danny. He’s an atheist but he seems to be more open-minded than some atheists I’ve met.
Me: Did you find the questions interesting?
Danny: Yes, actually.
Me: Were you raised in a Christian home?
Danny: My parents took me to church quite a bit when I was younger but I don’t believe in God now.
Me: Why is that?
Danny: It just doesn’t seem very plausible.
Me: I hear that kind of thing quite a bit when I talk to students. They say things to me like “You know Christianity isn’t intellectually viable, right?” and “Science has disproven the Bible.” I hear that one a lot too. Actually, science has not disproven the Bible at all. Science has disproven a viewpoint known as “young earth creationism,” the belief the universe is only 6,000 years old. Science had disproven that but it has not disproven the Bible. The Bible doesn’t say how old the universe is.
Danny: That’s interesting. I’ve never heard it put like that before.
Me: I started looking for a booklet I could buy and give away to students that would show that Christianity is intellectually viable. I couldn’t find anything appropriate so I wrote one. I’d like to give you a copy. (Hand him a copy.)
Danny: Thank you.
Me: This tells the conversion stories of three people. Francis Collins is brilliant scientist. He led the Human Genome Project. In 500 years, if we are still here, college freshmen will be in their Introduction to Biology class and they will be learning about Louis Pasteur and Francis Collins. He’s that important. Next is Allan Sandage. In 1974, he made a discovery that the universe was going to expand forever. This meant the Cyclic Model was not true. The Cyclic Model was the belief the universe was eternal and was either expanding or contracting. When Sandage learned the universe was not going to collapse on itself, that meant the Cyclic Model was wrong and the big bang was a one-time event. Nature doesn’t do one-time events. In physics, a one-time event is known as a miracle. Sandage figured if the beginning of the universe was a one-time event, then God created it. But as an atheist, Sandage didn’t know which God. He spent the next two years of his life on a spiritual journey and finally put his faith in Jesus. The third story is about Lee Strobel. He was an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune and covered the courthouse. One day he came home from work and his wife told him she had become a Christian. This upset him and after thinking about it, Strobel decided that he had the right skill set – as an investigative reporter who had graduated from law school – to research the historic roots of Christianity and prove that it was all a legend or hoax. He poured two years of his life into the project and ended up convincing himself that Jesus really did rise from the dead physically and he became a Jesus follower.
Danny: Wow. Sounds like an interesting read.
Me: So, you will read it then?
Undergraduate Biology Major
I will call this young man Terry. Here are his answers to the survey questions:
Me: Did you find the questions interesting?
Terry: Yes. They made me think.
Me: Did you go to church when you were growing up?
Terry: Not really.
Me: I’m a Christian. I read a statistic that said 70-75% of students who grow up in Christian homes stop going to church after high school. I wondered what was going on at the university that might cause that to happen. I remember when I was in school that some kids stopped going to church, but it was nowhere near 70-75%.
Terry: That is a high percentage
Me: Does it sound right to you?
Terry: I don’t know. I know students who go to church but I don’t know how many of those who don’t go actually grew up going to church. We just don’t talk about it.
Me: I see. Well, as I’ve been surveying students, I’ve had a number of students say things to me like “Christianity just isn’t intellectually viable” or “No educated person would ever become a Christian.” I know these statements are not true, but I also know there is nothing I can say to the students in the period of a short conversation that’s going to change their entire worldview. So, I started looking for a booklet that I could buy and give away that would show Christianity is intellectually viable. I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I wrote one and would like to give you a copy. (Handing him a copy)
Me: This has the conversion stories of three atheists – two of them are scientists and one is an investigative reporter. I think you will find the stories very interesting. Will you read it?
Terry: I will try. I don’t want to promise because I have a lot of other reading I need to do, but I will try.
Me: Fair enough. Nice meeting you Terry.
Please pray for these two students, the two faculty members I met today and the faculty I will be talking to in the future.
God is doing a great work on university campuses. Please let me know what you think of these encounters. Do you have any advice for me?