I grew up in religious home. I went to Catholic school for nearly every grade level including college. And yet I didn’t believe in God. I have limited memories of my childhood but when I was young I did adopt the faith of my mother. I remember walking arm in arm with her through the woods of Calaveras Big Trees talking with her about Jesus. But that didn’t “stick.” I am not sure when it happened. I suppose it was about the time normal teenage angst begins. When developmentally we separate from the beliefs of our parents and seek to discover our own convictions. I decided I didn’t believe there was a God. Religion was dumb and going to church was a pointless waste of time. Because I still lived under my parents roof I was required to continue attending church services with them despite my vocal disdain for such practices.
Hindsight being what it is I think I always believed there was a God. But I was so angry about life, and there was so much I didn’t understand, that I turned into an antagonist and later a self proclaimed atheist. When the rest of the “Religion” class in high school was quietly watching the minutes tick by I would argue with the Priest about the return of Christ. I wrote papers about atheism and how we just need to believe in ourselves. Oh, that poor teacher. But he was wise in his feedback – never giving me the fight I was looking for but praising my passion and exploration.
Later I went off to college and met a young man I thought had hung the moon. On several occasions when we would have deep conversations about the world and life he would declare with certainty that there was a God and that he was going to hell. Despite my supposed disbelief in God this statement bothered me tremendously. If I didn’t really believe there was a God and afterlife what would it matter if he thought he would go there?
After taking me on a date one night we laid the seats back in his car and gazed up at the stars through his moonroof. We talked about aliens. Interesting date, I know, but we had just come from seeing a movie, “based on actual events,” about a guy who got abducted by aliens. The conversation ended with me conceding that there could be aliens. And he questioned if I could believe there might be aliens why couldn’t I believe there might be a God. Logical or not, it made me think. Why didn’t I believe in God? What if He did exist?
It was in my college Anatomy and Physiology class that I first began to believe that God existed. It was the day we studied the beginning stages of the reproductive process or how a baby is made. As I looked at the slides and heard the descriptions I sat amazed. I thought it was simple: have sex, sperm and egg meet, 9 months later a baby is born. But on a cellular level thousands of factors must align. The maturity of the egg and sperm, the body’s pH, the timing of the meet up. Then once joined they create a single cell that divides and grows. One cell becomes two, two becomes four, four becomes eight and so on. By the fifth or sixth day of this process the one cell has become a 64 cell unit called a blastocyst. Inside there are undifferentiated cells, you may have heard of them called embryonic stem cells, anyway, these cells which divided from the ONE cell already know what they are to become; a brain cell, a muscle, an eye, a heart. One sperm with 23 chromosomes and one egg with 23 chromosomes join making a perfect cell of 46. And from that comes a fully grown baby! It’s utterly amazing. I sat in the class floored by the details of design and in that moment resolved this doesn’t all happen by accident. I began to believe in a Creator.
Once I considered there was Intelligent Design I wanted to know more. I considered myself a rational and logical person and I truly wanted to understand. I started looking for answers and eventually attended a church service with a girlfriend from school. There I heard something my mind needed to hear. The preacher was talking about Creation and he said, “You want to believe in evolution, ok. You want to believe in the Big Bang Theory, fine. But you must remember one thing: In the beginning God…” And something clicked. I didn’t have to know everything and have it all figured out. I didn’t need to have all the answers. I just needed to know that in the beginning God. Before anything else was God was. I could figure the rest out later.
It didn’t all make sense to me. It would be a few months before I knew about the Love of God and what Jesus did for me. But from that moment on I couldn’t get away from one fact and He hasn’t left me since.
In the beginning God… Genesis 1:1
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