Last month I wrote a short message entitled “A Hitchhikers Guide to the Question of God” for some of the students at Princeton University. I gave the message to encourage and help others along who are wrestling with the question of God. The title of a message really has two sources that I will share with you briefly.
First, I think life is more like a journey than a thought experiment in that it is lived on a road to somewhere, rather than a road to nowhere. Second, I am a bit of a science fiction geek, so of course there is some reference to the Radio/Book/Movie British Comedy franchise A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Furthermore my own spiritual journey has felt a bit like a winding eclectic road.
I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA the son of an ex-Irish Catholic Naval Officer who in his own story became a bit of an agnostic during college. I know that should qualify me enough for some therapy. I was a bit of a the classic high school overachiever in that I straddled both a world of academic and athletic accomplishment. I was an All-American in wrestling winning my high school state championship and took home several freestyle state titles as well. On the side I played a little football captaining our team and getting honorable mention all district at Quarterback. On the other side of life I was vice president of the honor society and was one of the “starters” for our Its Academic Quiz bowl team. You know, the thing that is sort of like Jeopardy where schools compete one another. We actually were pretty good making the final four of our 64 high school regional tourney (mainly because we had one spooky smart guy named Mike Heffner on our team - shout out to Mike).
In my world the question of God had a very small place at the table. I didn’t attend church and to be honest really didn’t care about God. The closest I got to the almighty was declaring myself a deist for about a week in the 11th Grade after Reading some Voltaire. As an aside, you know your are somebody in history if you get mentioned with one name…you know, Aristotle, Voltaire, Prince, or any of a few Brazilian Soccer Players.
So I had some suspicion from my involvement in mathematics and science that perhaps there might be some sort of higher power out there but this could not have any possible connection to my life. My life at this time consisted of getting good grades, attempting to roll with the ladies and trying to be an all around good guy.
I ended up taking a scholarship to wrestle at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (represent) and I moved south to study physics and continue my amateur wrestling career. As a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill I ended up competing and doing pretty well in my beginnings as a student of science. So my worlds were a bit odd and I liked it that way. I had Physics friends who liked stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, eastern Kung Fu techniques, computers and discussing Schrödinger’s Cat. My wrestling friends were guys who liked to fight, chase women and break lots of commandments on Thursday nights.
During this time I actually began to hear some things about this guy named Jesus. Now, at first glance you cannot grow up in America without hearing something about Jesus. As a teenager I had cable TV which came with the painted crying ladies talking about Jesus and jumping up and down. In America you hear the word “Jesus”, but I really didn’t know too much about him. So my journey arrived at Jesus when a new friend on campus stopped by my dorm room to take the time to explain to me who Jesus is and what God had done for us through him.
So at this time I became a sort of spiritual hitch-hiker because I had what seemed like a million questions which kept me out on the road of learning. I had philosophical questions, historical questions, questions about religions, questions about Jesus, questions about how we could know anything about an unseen God. To be honest, some of my questions were simple and straightforward enough that I want to just share a few of them as a Hitch-hikers Guide to the Question of God.
to be continued…Part 2 - An Invitation to Open Roads