Faith at the Fork in the Road

Thank you for your suggestions and your original article that made it possible for me to say what I did. Some interesting thoughts here too .
I have only read the C S Lewis out of the books you mentioned. I have books queued up to read at the moment but will definitely add the others to my list.

Isobel,
I too wish you well in your life. I wish you well as you continue to use your own reasoning to figure things out for yourself.

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Thank you for your encouragement Patrick. I am reading widely, questioning and listening to people from a wide range of backgrounds. I will indeed make my own mind up in the end. Otherwise I will only end up back at the same place later on.
I appreciate your kindness.

Yes, this is a very nice and helpful group here. You will learn a lot from them. But as in all forums some views are deemed “more proper” than other views. I come from the camp that believes that you can have a wonderful life filled with purpose and meaning by seeking out truth and by using science and reason to find it and to live an moral and ethical life. Remember Louie Armstrong singing “What a wonderful world”.

I have read some of your other posts so was under no illusion about which camp you are in. I still thank you for your kindness. In fact I appreciate all the efforts people have made to try to help me and am quite overwhelmed by the number of responses and the thoughtfulness they show.

I want to apologise to @gcarlet and @Christy. I didn’t intend to hijack this thread and would be delighted to see you continue your previous conversation.

@Isobel No worries, these comment board discussions always meander around a bit. I’ve seen thread hijacking, and your contributions don’t even come close.

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Over the last few days I have come through to a place of deep hope in Christ. I want to thank ALL of you who posted responses but especially those who directed me towards the person of Christ and @Patrick for showing me the opposite point of view. At first I was just seeing little glimmers of the person of Christ but because I couldn’t reason my way through this, I was trying to keep a bolted and barred door in that direction.
As I read your posts I thought that maybe I would take a peek behind that door just for a moment and see where that took me - as a kind of experiment. After years of questioning, I wasn’t expecting much.
Imagine my surprise when a tidal wave of deep, powerful hope rolled into my life! Maybe someone could explain this away as a bunch of chemicals in my brain doing their thing. To me though, it is far more than that. This wasn’t an emotional response. It was just a gift. A most wonderful, awesome, astonishingly beautiful gift. If I were to take the road of unbelief, I would have to turn my back on the gracious person of Christ, who never stopped loving me or gave up on my smouldering wick.
I have made my decision. I choose life! Thank you all.

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I agree. There is no need to apologize @Isobel. I am actually blown away and excited by the feedback and discussion that is happening. Thank you for your honesty and contributions to this thread.

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Thank you for sharing this. This gives me hope as well. We need this hope daily. This is not just a Sunday morning experience.

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This wasn’t even a ‘Sunday morning experience’ as such. I took an extra shift at work yesterday. I knew deep down that it was an avoidance strategy so I had a cast iron excuse not to go to church.
However, God met with me when I least expected it, in the privacy of my own home. That makes it all the more special to me because I know I wasn’t just carried along on a wave of other people’s emotions. I have now shifted the focus of my life and have a new certainty and purpose. There are still many questions I need to resolve but they are no longer stumbling blocks - just things that need to be addressed on my journey.

Isobel,

It sounds like you have a mature and lively faith now. May God bless you on your faith journey!

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Sorry if I implied that the “Sunday morning experience” meant just meeting with other people at a building. That is not what I meant specifically, although that experience could be included in what I meant. What I was meaning was experiencing fresh encounters with God, no matter where you are physically. It is needed daily. A lot of people only experience that on Sunday mornings in a building, though.

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Wonderful! Follow your chosen path of meaning and purpose. Wish you all the best that life has to offer.

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I just want to thank everyone again for their comments, questions, and input. I really appreciate it.

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Great thread.For me this is something that has been going around my head for a while.I came to the conclusion that there is indeed a God a creator that started the big bang (backed up by a one of deeply spiritual experience I had when I was little) followed by the natural law =flourish.

@gcarlet
Hi Isobel & Greg
It’s really great to see that you two have found the path to a life-sustaining Faith. Of course, part of the value of that Faith is sharing it with others in church. But, for me at least, I want to be sure I don’t get to expect that church is the only place Christ will be present to me. It can be such a pleasant surprise when you just know He is beside you–at home or riding a bus or enjoying the beauty of a mountain sunset. That knowledge will make your life so much richer. I just know it will
Al Leo

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So true. I don’t think we can always expect to feel his presence on demand but what joy to suddenly be surprised by that deep knowledge - whether in the ordinary times of everyday life, the extraordinary times, times of celebration or times of mourning. Always fresh; always pertinent; always good.

Isobel, your may have heard the agnostic argument: ‘Why pray to God? You say that He knows what you need, and if it is His will, he will grant it anyway.’ I think you might be interested in an incident that happened to me several years ago where God intervened (yes, in a miraculous manner!) even when I hadn’t asked for His help.
The Miracle of the Panel Truck
On Friday afternoon, after a weeklong Gordon Conference (topic: QSAR,
our specialty) at a New Hampshire school, the attendees board busses for the
two hour trip back to Logan airport in Boston. While standing in line
waiting to board, I visited with my colleague, Prof. Eric Lien. As the people
in front of us boarded, that bus was declared full, and so we were first in line
for the next one. This was fortunate, because we picked the right front seat
in the bus that gave us a clear view of the road ahead as well as out the
window to our side. Across the aisle sat Prof. Hugo Kubinyi and Prof. Jo
Seydel, two of our close friends and colleagues who also had that good view.
After discussing events of the conference for the first half of the trip, Eric
turned to me and said: “I noticed that in your free time you were reading the
book ‘God and the New Physics’ (by Paul Davies). Tell me, Al, do you
consider yourself a religious person?”
I was taken off guard by this question but replied: “I get a great deal of
satisfaction from my Catholic Faith, and I do attend Mass every week—if that makes me a religious person, then I guess I am.
Eric continued: “That’s what I guessed, and that’s why I thought you might
help me with a problem I am facing at home.”
Even before I knew the nature of it, I felt uneasy about my ability to
contribute anything of value. I had met his lovely wife, Linda, and I hoped
that there was not some rift between them.
Eric quickly pressed on: “Let me give you some background that has led up
to my problem. I was born in Taiwan and lived there until I graduated from
high school. My parents were religious in the sense that they followed the
wisdom of Confucius and Lao Tse and honored their ancestors with a small
shrine in their home. When some Christian missionaries founded a school in
our town and I expressed a curiosity about their teachings, they let me
attend. Very quickly the missionaries made it clear that ‘Unless you profess
Christ as your savior, you will be damned to Hell.’ This completely turned
me off of Christianity.”
He then continued: “Eventually I emigrated to the U. S., enrolled at U.S.C.
and continued on to get my Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. In the meantime I
met Linda, and we were married. She was raised as a Christian, and at that
time I had no qualms about her desire to raise in the Christian Faith any
children we planned on having. But now our children are old enough to go
to church with her, and they are asking ‘Why doesn’t Daddy come with
us?’”
“I told Linda that that was not part of the bargain. It would be dishonest for
me to attend religious services I definitely do not believe in. The children
would soon sense that I was being a hypocrite, and I did not want that. This
disagreement has become quite a serious concern in our otherwise serene
and happy family life.”
He finished his story with the question: “What do you think I should do,
Al?”
By this time our bus had reached the outskirts of Boston and was in some
heavy traffic approaching a bridge. All the while Eric was telling me his
‘life story’, I could tell that our colleagues, Hugo and Jo, were paying rapt
attention—now probably wondering how I was going to ‘get off the hook’
that Eric put me on. At this moment, just before traffic came to a complete
halt, a white panel truck pulled in front of our bus and stopped, in full view
through our large windshield.
The only inscription on this white truck were the words in large blue script:
Don’t Worry
Be Happy
God Loves You!
The four of us looked at the inscription for ten seconds or so, and then I
found my voice: “That is about as good advice as I or anyone else could
give you, Eric.”
Hugo slapped his knee, burst out laughing and said: “Al, how in Hell did
you manage that?”
Still somewhat dazed, I replied: “I don’t know
And I still don’t. Over a period of 80 years I have observed a lot of traffic,
but only that once did I see a panel truck with that as its only message. And
it had to appear in that exact second to effectively ‘get me off the hook’.
What odds must be overcome for a ‘happening’ to be considered a
‘miracle’? Can a scientist bear witness to a true miracle?
So what was the result of this miracle? I don’t know how much an effect it
had on two of the witnesses, Jo and Hugo. They probably remain ‘friendly
agnostics’. But not Eric. Not long ago I asked him if he remembered the
‘incident’. He replied: “Not only did I remember it, I used it in my talk at
my retirement dinner to remind people that, when all else fails, one can turn
to God for help.” I don’t know if Eric became a baptized Christian, but I
firmly believe he has become the ‘religious person’ that he surmised I was at
the Gordon Conference, and that he feels no hypocrisy or schizophrenia in
being a scientist in his ‘weekday’ job.
And how did it affect my life? I had already survived two ‘close calls’ as an
infantryman in World War II that the army medics thought impossible. So I
felt comfortable with the belief that prayer (Mom’s, Grandma’s, and other
relatives’) is sometimes answered. But I hadn’t prayed for guidance to
properly answer Eric’s important question—yet that guidance was given in a
way that can only be described as miraculous. Is it possible that our Creator
(or his angels) are right beside us at all times? My ‘persona’ as a skeptical
scientist finds that hard to believe, but sometimes God gives you no choice.
Al Leo

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