It's Hard to Believe in Nothing (Bout With Doubt Part 2)
by Bill Edmonds
July 25, 2016

"Faith doesn't mean you never doubt.  It only means you never act upon your doubts."
                   - Orson Scott Card 

I'm always intrigued by the stories of those who have come to faith in God, especially those who go from total unbelief to believer.  That's Dr. Holly Ordway's story described in her book Not God's Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms.  And then there are those who go the other way - those who leave the faith, preferring unbelief to the "superstition" of their rearing.  That's Vanessa James' story.  These two women met recently for a discussion with Justin Brierley of Premier Christian Radio.

Dr. Ordway came to faith in Christ through academic pursuit.  Her doctoral studies in literary-critical studies led her to a deep dive into the lives of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.  These two great intellectuals, who were also followers of Jesus Christ, opened a whole new world of thought and discovery for Ordway.  Dr. Ordway now teaches apologetics at Houston Baptist University.

On the other hand, Vanessa James transitioned from believer to non-believer through her personal reasoning. She acted on her doubts, which lead her to unbelief.  She could just no longer accept the Bible stories of her childhood about God, Jesus, and all those crazy tales about big fish and big boats.

But Ms. James is currently struggling with her newfound lack of belief.  She denounced her faith in Christ a few years back and says she was an atheist for a year.  Then she started missing her faith.  She even sought out an assembly of people (officially called Sunday Assembly) who in her words, "pretend to have faith" so they can benefit from the things Christians experience, koinonia - the fellowship of believers.   

Then something happened.  Ms. James said she experienced what she thinks was a scientific phenomenon known as sleep paralysis.  Here's how she described her experiences during this altered state of consciousness:

"My arm started burning - not pins and needles or imaginary burning - it was ouch!  I need to get out of the house.  I was very aware.  Everything in me said, 'turn and look at your arm.'  I didn't want to because I knew something very weird was going to be happening.  I looked at my arm and I could see my DNA running - molecules running up and down my arm.  I could see in so many multidimensional modes.  I could see the gravity between my fingers, and I could understand it.  I wasn't seeing with my eyes.  I could understand history.  I could understand emotions and see love.  My brain was going wild.  Things I had never read about, I now understood.  I couldn't find any higher words to describe what was making everything dance.  I was seeing God in everything.  When my hand was burning and I looked at my arm I said to myself, 'Oh no...I can't pull myself out of this because I don't believe in Jesus anymore.'  Then my hand was being lifted up by this other hand - like blue florescent lights in the shape of a hand, and it was coming down from the front and lifting up my hand, stopping the burn.  I instantly recognized it as Jesus." 

Ms. James went on to say that his incident not only happened once, but twice.  She said she had been content being an atheist and that she wasn't looking for this.  Her logical mind was saying, "Don't get taken in", but logic wasn't working here.  She says she's no longer an atheist, but she hasn't fully returned to her Christian faith.  It sure looks like she's headed back this way, though.  Stay tuned.

Lot's of folks have been "taken in" over the ages.  In fact, billions.  I can't see the wind, but I see its effects.  I can't describe the mystery of love, but I can see it in the weathered hands of Mother Theresa caring for the destitute and dying in Calcutta.  She was "taken in", and I have been "taken in" as well.  
The Bible states, "The fool says in his heart there is no God (Ps 14:1)."  Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, mathematician, historian, writer, and Nobel laureate was known to the masses as an atheist, yet to his fellow-intellectuals as something a bit different.  Russell chose not to be labeled an atheist when hanging out with the serious thinkers of his day.  He said, "I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God."  Mr. Russell was no fool.  While he may have struggled to believe in God, he didn't struggle with the possibility that God exists. 

He knew better than to reason that there is no God.  

It's hard to believe in nothing.  That's not the way God designed us.    

Play to win this week in the game that really counts!

(Note: To listen to the interview with Dr. Holly Ordway and Vanessa James in its entirety click this link: Premier Christian Radio)
Bill Edmonds is an "Outside-Insider" (an Executive Coach and Consultant), who works with leaders to help them reach their full potential in the areas of organizational and personal development. He spent 24 years with Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2014, where he led a $100+ million per year revenue wealth management business unit as a Director with the firm. His company is
Northstar Leadership Solutions.