CHAPTER ONE BEGINS LIKE THIS:
On October 25, 1999, two F-16 fighter planes from the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing scrambled to intercept a Learjet headed into America’s heartland.
The plane they were ordered to intercept was not an enemy aircraft. It had not been hijacked. It was not carrying criminals, terrorists, drug smugglers, or anyone else who was harboring ill will toward the United States or its people.
I first read about the intercept of the jet on the internet as it happened, in real time. As the jet flew, there was speculation (later denied by the Pentagon) that our fighter pilots would be ordered to shoot it down if it approached a major city.
The Prime Minister of Canada at the time, Jean Chrétien, did authorize the Royal Canadian Air Force to shoot it down if it entered Canadian airspace without making contact.1 He made this decision despite the fact that he was certain that the plane’s occupants had not taken off with any intention of causing harm.
The story was covered live, in part, because the jet carried a celebrity passenger…
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We’ll pause here so I can do what I’m supposed to do: describe the book.
This book is an exploration of both what I've come to believe―and why. It was written, initially, as a very personal project for my future grandkids and great-grandkids, if my wife and I should have any. It was also written for a fairly large group of high school and now-college students I've gotten to know over the last decade. And for their families. But reader feedback has made it clear that many others might benefit from this book as well. So, here we are.
This book was written for the spiritually curious person. It not only suggests that it is rational to believe that some kind of God exists, but that the central claims of Christianity are more likely to be true than not true.
Though I would argue that the spiritual dimension of our lives is the most important, it is also true that thinking about spiritual things is rarely an urgently felt priority. Shopping for food is more urgent. Watching television or a movie offers an enjoyable escape. Pursuing a hobby seems more fun. Running an errand feels more necessary.
But what if God is real? How does that change how we view life? How we act? How we live? Are there rational reasons for an intelligent person to believe that some sort of God exists? Whatever is actually true about God, can we know it? Can we scientifically prove it? Do we need to?
If you’ve ever thought about these or similar questions, join the club. While I never pondered such things as a kid, I did start to wrestle with questions like this during my first year in college.
It was then that my spiritual journey really began.
And while this book does serve as a bit of a reflection upon my spiritual journey, I don’t spend a lot of time on my own story; it is the least important part of the book. We all have different stories. The important part of the book is found in the questions I’ve wrestled with along the way, and in some of the answers and arguments I’ve found to be persuasive.
I wrote this book with the hope that it would be helpful to you in your own journey.