[Editor’s Note: This is another post in our series of “Why I changed my mind.”]
by Elgin Hushbeck
I have changed my mind many times, often quite drastically. The most drastic was probably my journey from Atheist to Christian. But that took many years and many phases. One part of that journey was a softening in my attitude towards the Bible. This occurred while I was in the Air Force working on Minuteman missiles which brought me in contact with a lot of different people. Minuteman missiles were scattered across the country side, and so to work on them involved a lot of drive time. My team member and I would load up a truck, pick up a guard and drive out to the missile site, driving 1-2 hours each way on average. As a result, there was plenty of time to talk.
Most of the time the discussion was on more mundane topics such as sports, but from time to time I we would get a guard who was a Christian and the talk would turn to religion. When that happened often the sparks would fly.
Few of the Christians I would talk to actually knew very much about the Bible other than citing a few verses they had memorized. When I would point out the contradictions or problems from the list I had made, for the most part, they had never even heard of these potential problems, much less did they have any answers, other than to say that the Bible was the Word of God and was to be believed despite what might seem to be problems.
All of this reinforced my belief in the error of Christianity, as it seemed a faith one could believe in only if one did not look too close, or ask too many question.
Still, from time to time I would come across a Christian who knew something about their faith and the Bible. I would run down my list of potential problems, and they would actually have an answer that could stand up to my questioning. When that happened I was never too concerned, as there were many more items on my list and I would simply move to the next item.
When someone did raise a serious objection to one of the things on my list of problems, however, it would tend to stick with me, and I would seek a way around it. While sometimes I would find some weaknesses in their proposed solution, there were also times when I had to admit, if only to myself later, that they had a point, and my alleged problem was not really a problem after all.
As a result, over time, my list of problems and contradictions got smaller and smaller. In addition two other things happened. First, with each problem dealt with, the credibility of the critics correspondingly suffered. After all, if the critics were wrong on these alleged problems and contradictions in the Bible, perhaps they were wrong on the others as well. Second, my diminishing list of errors was being replaced by a growing respect for the reliability of the Bible. I did not yet believe the Bible was the Word of God, but I could no longer write it off as simply a collection of myths and legends either.
It was at about this point in my odyssey that I had one of the more significant of these discussions. I think this was the only time we had this particular guard, and unfortunately his name has long since been forgotten. He was different than many of the other Christians I had met in the way he listened to my challenges without any confrontation in his responses. It wasn’t that he knew how to answer my remaining challenges all that much, but he did do something, none of the others did. He offered to set up a meeting with someone who he said could better answer my questions and I agreed.
This someone was an officer at the base, and we talked for several hours one evening. I explained my spiritual journey to that point and we talked about some the remaining problems I saw with Christianity and the Bible. He was able to provide some answers. On a few others, such as why would a loving god allow evil, I was not convinced. But he did show me a different side of Christianity even when his answers were not completely satisfying. He showed me that Christianity and the Bible were something an intelligent thinking person could take seriously. Even if I did not agree with him, I had to respect him as someone who had thought seriously about his faith.
When I left that evening, he encouraged me to continue my journey and seemed oddly sure and confident as to where that journey would lead me even if I had not reached it yet. I was still over a year from becoming a Christian. And even becoming a Christians was in many ways just a beginning of a new journey.