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Believing Responsibly

Recently I gave a presentation on the importance of thinking clearly and believing responsibly.  I find that modern people have a problem doing this, particularly in the spiritual realm.

One of my favorite authors is Dr. Paul Vitz, a psychologist who teaches at NYU. He was an atheist until his late thirties and today is considered an expert in the psychology of atheism.

Vitz says that atheists often develop their beliefs because of non-rational psychological reasons, not because of investigation of the evidence and coming to a sound rational conclusion.

I share this because several months ago I spoke on a Zoom call to a big group of men based in a large southern city. Afterword I received an email from the leader of the men’s ministry I spoke to. The email said:

“Richard, when you spoke to our men’s group back in November, one of our members, (He asked us to keep him anonymous, he did not want to embarrass his son) who is a Hall of Fame football player, was in attendance. He told me that one of his sons, a young adult, had recently informed him that although he respected his mother and father’s faith in Jesus, he was not sure he believed it anymore. A week or two later, this father invited his son to go with him to a college football game at his alma mater. The drive was a couple of hours and while travelling the father turned on the audio recording of your book, Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism. The son listened carefully and upon arriving at the stadium, the son turned to his father and said, “I get it now Dad. I am with you on Jesus.” It was a life-changing decision I thought you should know about.”

Although this is the extent of the story I received, it caused me to wonder how this son had lost his faith. I don’t know this for sure, but it would appear that he had never taken the time to really examine the compelling evidence on the validity of the Bible and that Jesus was the Son of God. Upon being presented with the evidence, his eyes were opened and he returned to faith in Christ.

I often think people make their decisions about spiritual reality based on subjective preferences. It reminds me of Pascal’s observation that most people invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof (evidence) but on the basis of what they find to be attractive to them. It is quite clear, however, that truth is not a matter of subjective taste but that which is based on objective evidence.

Journalist Francisco Mejia Uribe contends that when we believe something, the stakes are high. Every single belief has the capacity to be truly consequential, particularly if the belief is in error and involves the most significant issues of life.


Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author. Portions of today’s blog are taken from Richard’s book, Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism.

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