by Derek McIntyre
A Resolute Agnostic
I’m from a non-Christian background. None of my family were believers. However, like many people, I thought about and discussed religious matters with my friends in my teens – but never came to any clear conclusions. I suppose I parked the “big questions” on God and Jesus in a file in the back of my head with a view to thinking about them later – but never did.
So through my 20’s and 30’s, I guess I had the view of many people in the UK today that I really didn’t know what to think about God and Jesus. I suppose I thought that you probably needed to have some form of faith to be a Christian – and that this faith was for other people. Perhaps people who had been brought up Christians. Or perhaps, people who had experienced some form of life-changing spiritual experience. Neither situation applied to me.
I would never have called myself an atheist though. To me, there seemed insufficient evidence for the non-existence of God to come to such a definite conclusion. Equally, there also seemed to be insufficient evidence for the existence of God for me to conclude He definitely existed. I was therefore a resolute agnostic.
Another Look at the Big Questions
However, in my late 30’s I thought it would be worthwhile revisiting some of the questions I’d left unresolved in my teens. My thoughts were that there are plenty of capable and intelligent people who profess to have some form of belief in God. For example, scientists like Francis Collins (Head of the US National Genome Research Institute) and William D Phillips (Winner of the Nobel prize for Physics 1997) or world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.
I remember reading about a survey published in “Nature”, where four out of ten scientists said they believed in God. OK, just over 45% said they didn’t believe, and 14.5% described themselves as doubters or agnostics. However, a figure of 40% surprised me. Why did they believe?
Also, if I looked at the religious leaders in this country, they were clearly intelligent men or women. If these people had some belief in God, then perhaps it was worthwhile looking at this again to find out why.
A Chance Encounter?
At this time I met a colleague on a business trip to the USA who also happened to be a Christian. I wasn’t aware of this until I asked him where he had been on holiday that year. He replied that he had been over to Oxford in the UK on missionary work. As you might imagine, this sparked my curiosity and the conversation turned to the spiritual questions I’d started to revisit. The result of the conversation was that he said that he’d send me a few books which might help with the questions I had. Sure enough, two weeks later I received a package containing a copy of “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel and a Bible.
Now, did reading “The Case for Christ” turn me into a Christian? Well frankly, no it didn’t.
However, what it did do was act as the starting point for my own investigation into who Jesus is. I was amazed by what I found. I was amazed by my own ignorance of the evidence. How could I be living in a “Christian” country and not be aware of this stuff?
The more I looked, the more I found compelling historical and rational evidence for Jesus being the Son of God. However, I still wasn’t a follower. The reason was simple: I assumed there would be equally strong atheistic evidence and counter-arguments which would no doubt keep me in my resolutely agnostic state.
So I started to look (really look) for this atheistic evidence on Jesus. I trawled bookshops for books on atheism. I scoured atheist websites. I read detailed, hostile reviews of “The Case for Christ”. I listened to and read articles and interviews with well known atheists. I read the New Testament for myself. I read biographies and critiques of Jesus by non-Christians. I did this when I was an agnostic. I still do this today as a follower of Jesus.
What was the result of all this research? What surprised and challenged me was the strength of the evidence for Jesus versus the evidence against. This provided the greatest push for me make the step from agnosticism to becoming follower of Jesus.
As you might imagine, there were other key moments in my journey to faith in Jesus. Also, becoming a follower of Jesus transformed (and continues to transform) my life for the better. However it’s the compelling evidence for Jesus being who He said He was which reversed me out of my agnostic cul-de-sac and set me off on my journey to faith in Him.
Do Your Own Research
I have a science and engineering background. I’m the type of person who needs the facts to make up my mind on anything.
There are plenty of people in the world like me. Once I became a Christian, I remembered the time and effort it had taken to amass the evidence I’d found. I thought: “Wouldn’t it be great if this was collected in one place and in language a non-Christian could engage with?”
This is what prompted me to put together the Jesus: The Evidence materials, which are available on the web, and published in a booklet. I sometimes deliver these as a live presentation too.
I did all this to make it easier for non-Christians to engage with the evidence for Jesus. However, I always say to non-Christians: “Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research!” If you think what I’ve written is biased, or doesn’t fully answer your questions, find out for yourself. You owe it to yourself to do this and perhaps experience the type of positive transformation a relationship with Jesus brings.