Letters to an Atheist - Nico Tarquinio's Story

Letters to an Atheist - Nico Tarquinio's Story
Side B Stories
Letters to an Atheist - Nico Tarquinio's Story

Feb 03 2023 | 01:03:04

Episode 0 February 03, 2023 01:03:04

Hosted By

Jana Harmon

Show Notes

Former atheist Nico Tarquinio rejected a religion he thought was not worthy of belief.  As a lawyer, he considered both sides in a search for truth and changed his mind about Christianity. Resources recommended by Nico: Cold Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace Letters to an Atheist, Peter Kreeft Unbelievable? Podcast with Justin Brierley Reasonable Faith Podcast with William Lane Craig For more stories of atheist and skeptics converting to Christianity, visit www.sidebstories.com Episode Transcript Hello, and thanks for joining in. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re listening to Side B Stories, where we see how skeptics let the record of their […]
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:01 There are things I discover today, seven, eight years in, and I don't think this is ever gonna stop. I used to say to myself, we're gonna become Christians and then we're gonna get bored, and then we're gonna be atheists. Anything but Speaker 2 00:00:17 Hello and thanks for joining in. I'm Dana Harmon, and you're listening to Side B Stories where we see how skeptics live the record of their lives. Each podcast we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or skeptic, but who became a Christian against all odds. You can hear more of these stories at our side B stories [email protected] b stories.com. We welcome your comments on these stories at our Sibe Stories Facebook page. Speaker 2 00:00:44 Oftentimes, we are perfectly content in what we believe until something happens in our lives that disrupts the status quo. New circumstances arise that it cause us to rethink what we think about the world around us, about our lives, about what we hold to be true or not. At those thresholds, we are presented with an opportunity to take a closer look at our beliefs, or we can continue on presuming our pathway in life is built upon a good foundation without examination. In today's story, former atheist, Nico Tarquino encountered a change in life circumstances. And with that, a new opportunity to look more closely at his own and others' beliefs to search more intentionally for truth. As an attorney, he was naturally driven towards critical thinking and analyzing and debating ideas, but this journey for him ended in a place he never expected As a strong believer in God and apologist for the Christian worldview, what did he find on his journey towards discovery that was so compelling that he was willing to move towards Christianity, A worldview he once held in contempt? I hope he'll join in to find out. Well, welcome to Side Stories. Nico, it's great to have you with me today. Speaker 1 00:02:07 Jan, it is amazing to join you. Thank you so much for having me on. Speaker 2 00:02:10 Wonderful. Uh, so the listeners know of a bit about who you are, Nico, can you tell us some about who you are, what you do, where you live? Speaker 1 00:02:19 Sure. So my name is Nico Tarquino. I'm currently living in Lincoln, Nebraska, but I'm from Massachusetts originally Southbridge, Massachusetts. I've lived in Maine, I've lived in upstate New York, I've lived in Boston, I've lived in Vermont. I've been a lot of places and these days I am living in the Midwest. I work for the federal government. I'm a, I'm an attorney and I, well non-practice thing at the time, but, uh, I did pass the bar exam, so it counts for something I love to do apologetics and theology in my spare time. And, uh, I'm also raising four kids in my spare time. Not, but you know, that little hobby <laugh> on the side there, so, gosh, there's, I wear a lot of hats. Speaker 2 00:03:01 Sounds like you've got a very, very busy life, Nico. Uh, very full. So it also sounds though that you've spent a lot of time in the Northeast. Is that where you were born? Why don't you take us back to your childhood and where you were raised that culture, your family was religion or God, any part of your world. Speaker 1 00:03:23 Sure. So I was raised in a contentious divorce situation, so my mother and father didn't see to eye to eye. They often came to harsh words with each other. And I was primarily raised by my mother. My father, on the other hand, eventually moved to Florida for a while. My grandmother still lived in town, but my religious, my more religious side would probably be my father's side of the family, simply because if you couldn't tell by my name Nico Ramo Tarquino, I'm Italian, and if you want not as meatballs or at least a good conversation after she puts the meatballs on the table, not like she refuses them to anyone. You're gonna go to mass at least on Christmas and Easter with everybody. So that was kind of a very typical experience in the Northeast in general, but certainly within my family and my mother, who was much more open spiritually. Speaker 1 00:04:12 And she's a very brilliant woman. Um, but she, I don't re recall Bibles being in the house. I, I do recall seeing tarot cards, seeing spell books. I remember her going to psychics. She was very open spiritually, and I don't think that comes from a dark place or anything like that, but that kind of shows the kind of spiritual upbringing I had. We certainly didn't pray over dinner or do any of the kind of things that we associate with Christianity in the household. There was a little crucifix above my bed from when I was baptized, uh, like a lot of, like most Catholics and Lutherans. I was, I was baptized as a child. And, um, but that was kind of it. It kind of becomes a point of celebration and you get together on holidays and you go to mass. And I would say that religion in our family was very strong, but only the strongest place that it was was with my Italian Nana. Speaker 1 00:05:01 As I mentioned, she had, the house that she lived in was full of images of Jesus primarily. There were pictures of the saints, there were rosaries, there were Bibles, there were prayer books, there were pictures of church. It was very important to her. And she lived a very, and she still does live a very strong, uh, spiritual in the Christian sense life. But she, you know, English isn't her first language. She spent most of her time taking care of us, and she didn't kind of force about anybody. It was kind of just her thing. And I remember going through my childhood seeing all these beautiful pictures in the wall, and it was almost like I didn't see them. They were there and I know that they were there, but I didn't know whose faces belonged to the pictures. So when I came back as an adult and a Christian, it was just such a light bulb moment where all of a sudden I go, Nana, that's, that's St Anne, that's St. Rita, that's Jesus in the garden of Thee. That beautiful picture that looked over my bed when I stayed there. And they were beautiful works of art to me, but if anything, they were just boring old people. Things to me back then, <laugh>, I, it just, the faith certainly wasn't alive in my family. And I didn't really even go to church on any regular basis until confirmation rolled around and my father had moved back from Florida and started taking me on Sundays. Speaker 2 00:06:19 So even your father had some kinda appreciation for the Catholic church or for confirmation, obviously mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, that there was no anma animosity towards God, or, Speaker 1 00:06:32 Oh, absolutely not. No, I, I would say my father does believe and strongly, so he certainly understood the need to go to church. And I mean, especially in the Italian culture, my, my, my actual godfather was my confirmation sponsor. Uh, it's actually, it's fu it's, it's not just a movie. Sp stereotype. Your Godfather is a part of your life, spiritually speaking. Speaker 2 00:06:54 Yes. So all that, all that time, Christmas Easter's, um, confirmation. Did you ever believe any of what you were being taught in any kind of personal way, or was it just going through the motions of expectations? Speaker 1 00:07:12 It was really going through the motions. I didn't really talk too much about, you know, what started me on this, you know, what kind of immunized me to receiving any of these messages. Because even on Christmas and Easter, you, you read from the Bible at mass, I mean, you hear the word of God, but it, I zone out. I mean, it's not something that struck me as important. And if you understand what confirmation is, I believe it's from Acts 18 in the Bible, that's when you really are supposed to be saying yes to God, at least in the Catholic faith. And I, I mean, I said it, but I said it because my parents wanted to throw a party for me after. And I wouldn't say otherwise, of course, to not to disrespect them or to destroy their expectations, but it, it really didn't mean anything to me. I mean, Catholicism to me was something to mock the time that I was growing up was the time when you started hearing the allegations of the absolute terrible, uh, pedophilia scandals going on. So, you know, what you would think of the entire faith was just completely and utterly. I mean, there was just no chance of me respecting Speaker 2 00:08:11 Her. Yeah, I would imagine, especially as you were getting into your preteen teen age years, uh, around that time, it was probably a little bit of an approach avoidance, uh, I would imagine, especially if with that scandal and, and not really thinking or taking things personally in the faith to begin with. And the, the cultural animosity, all of those things kind of brewing together. And you mentioned something about your friends earlier. Did your friends embrace Catholicism or, or were they mocking or what was going on there? Speaker 1 00:08:50 When you say cultural animosity, I think you hit the nail on the head of the experience of a, a child being raised in Southbridge, Massachusetts in the nineties. And I would say that's probably true of a lot of places in Massachusetts from what I was aware of. You know, there are people, it's funny, I heard a interview with somebody who's raised in the Bible belt saying, well, here in America we still have respect for Christ. And that certainly wasn't the case where I grew up. I, gosh, everything from the stu the voices that I heard on the radio to things that I saw on tv, to the books that I read, were all steeped heavily against Jesus. I'm sure many of your viewers would be familiar with, uh, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Absolute classic. But that book starts off with the, in an absolute indictment of God. Speaker 1 00:09:34 Uh, it's a parody. And um, the book starts off with a overview of the universe. It goes in the beginning, God created the universe and everyone mostly agreed that that was a bad idea. And then it quickly goes into God having an argument with somebody about why he even bothered creating them. And he disappears in quote, a puff of logic. So these are the kind of voices that are in my young mind, uh, growing up, that God has incompatible with logic and reason that it's a book of these in, this is when the new atheist movement was in full swing. I mean, you hear these things about, you know, faith being belief despite the evidence, uh, from, you know, popular celebrities at the time. I listened to a lot of rock music. And I will tell you that folks like Marilyn Manson and Slipknot, uh, were certainly not friends to the faith. Speaker 1 00:10:17 I would say that even at a very young age, uh, one of the experiences that I will never forget, and I really do think started to just knock things loose in my mind about what I would think about Christianity was it was second, third grade and none of my friends believed in Christianity as far as I'm aware. I didn't know a single person who was a practicing Christian. We certainly had folks who would also go to mass on Christmas and Easter who would even go to CCD class and things like that to make their sacraments. But I remember the conversation about Santa quickly shifting to Christ because it was kind of like a Santa's not real, of course he's not real. It's your parents putting gifts out for you. And then, you know, people would start talking about, well, what else is real? What else is not real? Speaker 1 00:11:00 And of course, Jesus is gonna come up. So I remember somebody at our table, our lunch table, I can see it in my mind, and I know this sounds unbelievable, but we were, I would say depraved as a very good word for the kind of conversation you would have around the lunch table. And I remember one of the kids, popular guy, uh, said something along the lines of, well, no, it, it's all made up. Obviously none of that stuff happens in real life. The Virgin Mary, she either cheated on Joseph or she was raped and she had to make up a story so she didn't get stoned to death. And it's so crazy because I think that maybe something in some of those other kids at the table, and I, it's so awful to say these words by the way. It really hurts Steven say them. Speaker 1 00:11:42 But I think even they felt scandalized, cuz I don't remember anyone saying anything, but I remember a lot of people nodding. Certainly nobody said, oh no, that's not true. This this stuff that, you know, this is real. No, I know it's real. Even if it was, was just a, well mom and dad say it's true, and I know it's true, none of that happened. And that kind of just gets deep into your psyche when you hear things like that from a young age, especially when it goes completely unopposed by any reason, to believe in any of that stuff. I mean, my catechesis, you know, going around that age, going to CCD classes once a week, you know, it's not exactly like if you're not hearing the faith at home, you're certainly not gonna learn it in one hour segments with a priest on a seasonal basis. My my questions were never answered in a sufficient way. You know, you're left with these questions that just make Christianity look awful, look fake, I could go on and on. But culturally that animosity is definitely real and there's certainly no incentive for, I mean, why would you believe in it if that's all you're hearing? Speaker 2 00:12:37 Right, right. And so I guess during those teenage years then you pushed back from any kind of Christian or Catholic identity. Speaker 1 00:12:47 Yeah, yeah. In both cases, especially because that was, as things started to heat up in terms of dialogue in the United States, and especially with respect to things like gay marriage, we would see the media turn especially hard against now a faith that we are seeing exposed as having a lot of horrible secrets in terms of these pedophile scandals and talking about things like gay marriage and the Westboro Baptist Church was ubiquitous on the news for a very hateful stances, not only just toward gay people, but toward veterans, toward people of other religions, toward Jewish people. So when you thought about Christians, you didn't think about much except ignorance and hatred. Speaker 2 00:13:24 Hmm. Yeah. That, that's a tough bill to sell, isn't it? That you don't wanna be a part of something that has so me so much negativity circling around it. And I would imagine too. Yeah. I mean you were questioning whether or not he was even real much less good. So <laugh>, um, so walk us on from there. H did you outright rejected? Did you just say, I don't know, how did you Speaker 1 00:13:53 It's funny, you hear a lot of conversations sometimes when you hear debates between Christians and atheists. A lot of times you hear the Christians pose the questions to the atheist, if would you want this to be real? And some atheists will say, especially some of the louder ones, I would say, I think Ricky Dravet is one who would say something like, if God was real, I'd punch 'em in the nose for being so evil. But you have others who I feel like are more honest and they say, well, if an all loving God would make me happy for all eternity existed, of course I would want that to be real. So I think a deep part of me did wanna be true, not only just to please my family who I already had a contentious relationship with in the sense of the divorce going on, and just a lot of friction that would happen in that sense. Speaker 1 00:14:35 So when I went to college, uh, there were a few times that I went to to church to church try to see, is this for me, I was a young adult, I didn't have anything else to do. I was kinda a nerd <laugh>, so I wasn't exactly getting invited to a lot of parties. I mean, I did end up going to quite a few over time, but I would go and I, here's the thing, it's the Northeast Catholic experience. You go to church and there's one person there and they're probably in their eighties. And I'd go alone. And what I would hear being said, again, the backdrop is the US and the, a lot of social turns going on, the priest would preach on things like gay marriage and if that's your experience, going into a church, hearing the health fire, but not hearing the love, you know, it just reconfirms what I heard from all these media sources. Speaker 1 00:15:20 They're hateful. They don't lo they don't, I mean, I understand things in a very different context. Now, of course I could speak to that, but for somebody just wandering in and not knowing what's going on, it was, it was strange. And so in college it took a deeper turn, uh, probably even further away from faith. And I think I deeply wanted it to be true. And what I wandered in every now and then, maybe seeking comfort or something, but I would do pranks. I would start doing things that I was a comedic genius. So I would see a sign that says, keep Christ in Christmas, and I'd peel off the tea. So it's said Chris in Christmas, and I would say, Hey Chris, look, and, you know, I'd, I'd do stupid things like that. Or I'd write, gosh, there were quotes from like Stephen King's Salem's lot from, you know, and this is probably a little bit more disrespectful and quite, I mean, quite frankly, evil, uh, disrespecting Christianity, talking about how it's false and wrecking those quotes on the Facebook page under anonymous accounts and things like that. Uh, trying to do everything or posting what we would say the, the, the dark parts of the Bible, some of the parts of the Old Testament where we read about some of the wars between the Jews and the other tribes. And there were some very descriptive passages concerning the warfare going on. And it would just make it seem so awful. And I would, you know, I'd loudly trumpet those. Speaker 2 00:16:42 Hmm. So it wasn't just that you were not believing, you were actually becoming active about becoming one of those who held animosity and mocking as well. Speaker 1 00:16:56 And you know what the most bizarre thing is, and I feel like this is actually pretty common among people in my generation, uh, the spiritual but not religious thing was there, the kind of agnostic, the kind of, oh yeah, I'm open to these things. I'll watch ghost adventures on tv, I'll do a Ouija board. I think they're ghosts and demons haunting my college without ever realizing the natural implications of the idea that if there are demons, certainly there's something, but you know, you'd hear about those and you'd and I would never make the connection. Oh yeah, demons definitely exist. There's definitely these weird ghost hunting videos, but God no, definitely not. No, that's boring. That's, that's stuff for hateful people. That's bronze age fairy tales they used to say. And, you know, made up by a bunch of goat herders a long time ago just to explain the world around them. Speaker 2 00:17:42 So you lived in this place of, of some form of rejection of this traditional conservative very, uh, unappealing form of belief. Yeah. How long did you live in that place and, and what allowed you to reconsider, uh, your thinking? Speaker 1 00:18:03 That is a really great question because I would say I, I can see little drops of it as I went along my experience where I would find myself almost, uh, for example, once I left college and my wife and I moved to Vermont, at one point I knew somebody who converted to Christianity, somebody who was also deeply agnostic, deeply spiritual, but not religious. And he wrote me, I mean, he wrote a book about how he had, and I, I was in the, I like writing and I edit books on occasion and he sent it to me. And all I could do after reading that was kind of mock his faith and disrespect him and say, oh, this doesn't make sense. Where his journey was definitely leading him to Christ. But I just didn't believe any of it. And as I went on my journey though, it's funny, I went from that to suddenly there were moments where I would find myself maybe defending the Christian worldview because I saw how maybe inconsistent it the way that people treated Christians were, uh, my wife was going to, she was taking college classes on the side at a college in Vermont. Speaker 1 00:19:06 And I remember at one time there was an assignment and there it was an online class and the professor asked them to discuss and compare mythologies. And these mythologies would be Greek and Egyptian and Norse and Christian. And there were Christians in that class. But the person wrote a message saying, Hey, I think this label is a little bit disrespectful to those of us who currently practice this faith and believe it to be true. And I remember helping my wife write the letter to the professor saying, this is not okay. I, you should respect other people. We didn't even believe in it. And that was probably my first, around that time was probably my first delve into Christianity. And one of the other sources, I don't know, some of your viewers may be familiar with them, even some people who have no, just completely secular. Speaker 1 00:19:57 Uh, there's a guy named Dave Ramsey, he's a popular financial coach. And my wife and I were on our own completely. We needed to shore up our finances and at the very end of Dave Ramsey's financial peace program. And a lot of times he cites the Bible throughout it and some basic financial principles about lending and things like that. There's a bonus episode and if you watch the bonus episode, and we did, cause we had nothing else to do, we, he implores the viewers to just pick up the Bible if any of it resonated with him. So my wife and I went and bought a Bible and that was what really started to open my mind. And we started to try to read it together just like any other book. And unfortunately, again, that cultural animosity, I love those words, really came to me again because we would read stuff like Leviticus and Leviticus would seem like it's condemning depending on who you listen to, lifestyles and people, instead of being understanding it in the proper context that it was meant for back then. Speaker 1 00:20:56 And my goodness, it brought me right back to my childhood again, this is all just empty. This is just people trying to moralize this is people trying to be, I'm superior to other people because I read this book and I go to church once every few months, there's a quote and I'm gonna bring it up now because I think it's maybe the most important quote to me these days and throughout this entire experience of converting, and it's from CS Lewis in terms of how I relate to the Bible, Christianity, if false is of no importance and if true of infinite importance, but the one thing it cannot be is moderately important. But everybody in my life up until this point, treated it as moderately important. Yeah, we'd go to church, but to a young mind who's skeptical of things and who's trying to understand the world around him, I'm studying things in school, I'm trying to understand things. Speaker 1 00:21:43 Why logically speaking, if you believe that there is a God of the universe who numbered every hair on your head, why would you go to church once every six months or so? I mean, that just seems like a waste of time because if you care about him, if he's real, certainly you would be giving your whole life to him. But if you know what is the point, otherwise, why not just own up to it? Don't go to church and it's not a thing. And anyway, so that was kind of my experience up until then. And then I read the Bible and to me, yeah, these are all, it's just moderately important. It's nothing. Um, these are just people who want to moralize others. But since reading the Bible at least, and seeing people like Dave Ramsey, who is probably one of the first sincere Christians I've ever seen in media years started to move here, the, well, I can't just say Christians disrespect these people. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna go with these people, I'm gonna protect those people from evil Christians. But then see somebody else going after a Christian and not say, Hey wait, leave them alone. You can't call their faith mythology. So things started to change a little bit. Speaker 2 00:22:44 I'd like to pause for a moment to let you know that we would love to connect with you on social media, follow side, these stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and stay updated on our new episode releases, resources and side these stories, news there. As you interact and share our online content, you can help others find us and help spread the word of these amazing unlikely stories of atheists and skeptics, finding God and Christianity. Just search side me stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and connect with us today. Now back to our story. Speaker 2 00:23:25 Yeah, that is interesting because you were, again, it seemed like a, a bit of dissonance going on there because you're reading the Bible and feeling those, you know, it's, it's pulling back those negative emotions of, you know, this is just moralizing text, but yet you, you see a counterbalance with an authentic Christian and Dave Ramsey. It feels like, uh, two sides of a coin that that don't seem to be able to reconcile at least at that time. But yet you were willing to contend for its viability in, uh, are respecting a Christian and their beliefs as more than mythology. So it does feel like you're, you're kind of wavering a little bit going back and forth, um, trying to, to navigate these waters of what this really is. Speaker 1 00:24:15 Yeah, it's, it was definitely a back and forth as a good word for it. I certainly didn't as a child, which is kind of crazy when you come to know authentic Bible reading, Bible believing Christians, because again, if it's important, why wouldn't you, even if it is a hard book to read. And it started coming crashing down again to the point where we just rejected it. I remember a couple times in that early period of us, and I was recently out of law school, um, we tried to go to a church, but maybe I chose a bad day because I walk in the door, my experience is this, they give us a $50 gift card to go get coffee, which okay, like nice guest here, I love coffee, but uh, seemed a little weird. And then we go in and there's an issue. And I loved the worship part, I loved the music, beautiful cool stuff, seeing all these people who were raising their hands. Speaker 1 00:25:04 And there was something there that I admired and something that I just couldn't understand cause I never felt that way before. But there was an issue with the projector and the pastor started yelling at the projectionist and it actually sounded like he threatened him, like he was going to harm him. <laugh>. Not only that, but the sermon, almost the entirety of the sermon was, one, you need to give more money because we're not gonna be able to keep our doors open. Two, you need to fast because God spoke to me and says, you in the crowd need to fast. And now granted, I believe some people hear the voice of God, not only just through reading the Bible, but I think sometimes that's still small voices there. But as somebody who has no belief whatsoever, when you go in and somebody gives you a card to stay, then tells you to give them money, then tells you that God told them to do something. Don't eat food. God told me that you can't eat tonight. My wife and I didn't go back for a while and we stopped reading those bibles. And that led to, I would say the, maybe the deepest period of atheism that I ever experienced, um, where I just said, that's, that's it. I mean that's, I have no desire to go to church after that. Speaker 2 00:26:14 So you, you adopted an atheist identity then. I mean, you, you came to a place where you basically confirmed, at least for yourself, that, that God does not exist, could not exist in light of all of these things we're observing about people who portray God or Christianity in such an off putting way. Um, so, so then <laugh>, of course, you're no longer, I get the, the sense that that Christianity is infinitely important for you now. So how did you make that turn or that change? Speaker 1 00:26:51 So my wife and I were married at the, we were married actually about a year into law school at that point. But if it gives you a sense of where we were religiously at that point, we have our vows. I actually have 'em in the scrapbook over here. And my wife and I, when we were writing them, we made sure to scrub all references to God because what did God do for us? I mean, the only people who were ever real to each other in our lives at that point were each other. Um, so we had written God off and we were in our marriage and we were happy with each other. And my wife had the instincts and the desire to become a mother, thank God she did. Um, and eventually <laugh> kind of broke me down on that, where I wasn't gonna live a life of playing video games and reading books. Speaker 1 00:27:37 Well, we're gonna at least try to have at least one kid. And that prompted questions for me. I deep questions because suddenly I'm reflecting on this crazy ride I've had growing up and having these weird bad family relationships, having this kind of inconsistent faith. And I thought about my family and I thought about what are they gonna think of us having a kid? They didn't even approve of us getting married. Are we going to get our kid baptized? And that brought on other questions too, because it goes, because suddenly I'm not just responsible for finding out what I believe about the universe. I have to convey that to a child. That's a big deal to me. The whole reason, yeah, the whole reason that, um, things like the pedophilia, the pedophilia scandal are important to me cuz cuz deep down, um, and we could go into the moral argument of CS Lewis, but children are a big deal. And the idea of being responsible for somebody's upbringing, both moral and intellectual, um, it raised a question, do I, what do I teach them about religion and specifically Christianity? So that was where we, things started to turn and got interesting, so to speak. Speaker 2 00:28:53 So how did you start to answer those questions, those big questions of what you thought about belief in God and Christianity and whether or not you were gonna baptize your child or Speaker 1 00:29:04 Research? I was a lawyer. I mean, I wasn't a practicing lawyer. I did practice, but I eventually started working for the government. I did what any millennia would do. There's Google. And initially my search was quite frustrated. I kept searching for things like Christian scientists, Christian celebrities, and my f probably because of the way the search results are stacked, I now know the other, I know I know the number of intellectuals who have shaped the world as we know it, who had the Christian faith, but back then I couldn't find a single one. So I did the second thing that millennials like, and that's podcasts. And I was surprised to find that there's quite a few interesting ones though. The work that I was doing, while it was difficult, I could do it without thinking too much. So I could listen to podcasts. There was one called the Daily Audio Bible. Speaker 1 00:29:53 So I started listening to it because I was like, you know, how can I write this off and tell a kid, oh yeah, this isn't true if I haven't even listened to the dang Bible. Um, so I started listening to that. I started listening to Bad Christian, which strangely was with a band I used to love when I was a child. And I was just kinda like starting to come to respect some of these people who, like, these were people I listened to and I found out surprisingly a lot of people into metal music or into Christianity. And that really resonated with me spiritually at the time because I was going through a lot of dark stuff. I, um, I was going to therapy and I learned that as a child, um, through some therapy about some repressed memories. There was some serious abuse going on and that was really hard to confront. Speaker 1 00:30:37 You, you're with some of darker emotions that you can feel. So while I'm going on an intellectual journey, I'm reading the Bible, I'm also spiritually starting to say this angst that I feel was felt by somebody 2000 years ago. Uh, and I will say this is when the intellectual stuff coming in too. Like I said, I was a lawyer, I wanted to know what's the evidence. There's other podcasts on there and one of them, uh, quite, you know, uh, fortunately titled is called Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig. There's Unbelievable with Justin Briley, which I actually recently was on, and that's a debate show and what is more appealing to an American lawyer than two people arguing <laugh>. So this is kind of where I'm starting to go with this. Speaker 2 00:31:23 So you were hearing, you were, you were open to the evidence wherever that led or the arguments for the Christian worldview, you were willing to consider both sides. You were actively pursuing something, pursuing truth. Uh, what were you finding as you were that lawyer in you who was, you know, debating both sides of the issue, probably in your mind? Uh, what were you finding in terms of where was the evidence landing for you? Speaker 1 00:31:54 Well, here's the thing. That's where the objections started coming up and they started coming up hard because in my mind I'm hearing those voices, you know, from people like, gosh, I'm trying Christopher Hitchens and, uh, Dawkins and all these books that I've read, and I'm thinking, okay, there's no evidence for Christianity. But then suddenly I hear voices like Cold Case Christianity with Jay Warner Wallace, who's a former cold case homicide detective who says, well, speaking directly to me, who had just gone through evidence classes. Well, what is evidence? Evidence is anything, anything that raises the pro raises the probability that a truth claim or an argument is true. So people say, oh yeah, there's no video of Jesus Christ being crucified and rising from the dead. But of course there isn't. I've been through trials, you n almost ne even in today's day, it's very rare that you have a video of the murder or something happening. Speaker 1 00:32:48 It's always, and it's funny, you, you watch TV shows and they, they talk about circumstantial evidence, like that's a bad thing. Circumstantial evidence is how the majority of court cases are decided. Testimony is the most common form of evidence. And suddenly this starts to, you know, I'm listening to Jay Warner Wallace talking about that. I'm like, yeah, that makes sense to me. I'm a trained as a lawyer. This is how we decide things. I'm listening to debates on unbelievable between people of different worldviews, not just Christianity and non-Christians. I started hearing these arguments and I found myself impressed by Christians and surprisingly so, and I also at the same time felt kind of betrayed by the church that I grew up in or by people who never taught me this stuff because I didn't know aquinas's five Ways to God that there were proofs of God blew my mind when I suddenly heard, oh my gosh, there's a colos cosmological argument for God that not is only just used by Christians, but by Muslims as well. Speaker 1 00:33:46 The idea that something can't come from nothing, you know, you can extrapolate that to a deep philosophical proof that had I had to like either stop working or turn off the podcast because I can't listen to quantum mechanics and how that interacts with philosophy and properly do my job. Um, so I felt stupid and I don't often feel stupid. And I don't wanna say that to toot my own horn. I'm not an arrogant person. My wife is 10 times smarter than me, I'll tell you that. And I'm not just saying that. So we can, I'm not in the doghouse tonight, she is a brilliant woman. But all of a sudden I'm like, wait a second. These people, these Christians who I was raised to believe, they believe in the Bible because they were raised with it. They don't know anything better. They reject evolution. Turns out not all Christians do, they reject all these scientific principles that I came to accept. Speaker 1 00:34:32 Some of them are, and I'm not saying some of 'em in a derogatory way, I'm saying some of them have very good reasons to believe why they believed and, and they should. I mean, it's what one Peter three 15 or something like that, uh, have a good reason to believe what you believe. And anyway, so this is getting more intense, this search for me. And, but while this search is getting more intense, uh, something kind of hard happened and uh, I don't know if you want me to go into that, but I I can, yes. What else happened? Yeah, so almost as if, while I'm starting to have hope that these arguments for Christianity might actually be good, and I will say the not every debate I listened to was I side with the Christian. There was many where I said, ah, that Christian was, you know, kind of just talking, um, nonsense and just saying, well, the Bible says it's true, which is what I always believed Christians did. Speaker 1 00:35:22 But some of 'em genuinely had things I'd never considered before, like the fine tuning argument. Well, meanwhile, hardship starts to strike again in my life. And while going through some dark things in therapy, uh, my wife and I we're not conceiving. I mean, we're trying to have a kid and it's just not happening. And there are a lot of people out there who are probably gonna hear this, who have been through infertility or maybe still are and never come out of that. It's really hard on me emotionally, even as me as somebody who didn't wanna have a child. It really broke my heart. And seeing my wife just disappointed month after month, just knowing that, you know, this future that we had kind of planned for ourself just wasn't common. It was absolutely devastating for my relationship, for my idea that maybe there is a God who cares about us. Because obviously to the unin, uninitiated, you often hear people say, oh, that bad thing happened. Well, where was God? Oh, you're infertile. Why doesn't God fix that? I mean, it's in the Bible. So much of the Old Testament deals with people who couldn't have children. And so it's going both ways. It's interesting. My wife's searching Pinterest boards and things like that for infertility resources. And you find Bible verses about God making your life fruitful and it wasn't happening to us. What did I do to deserve this kind of thing? Speaker 2 00:36:39 So you were in a, in a difficult time emotionally, but it sounds like it pushed you away from God all the while you were, you were perhaps being positively impressed or challenged by the Christian worldview, by intellectually astute people. So it sounds like your head and your heart were almost conflicted at this point. Speaker 1 00:37:01 It was a battle. Um, this is when I started to pray, and this is like the prayers of an idiot who never read anything about Christianity and still had that genie mindset. You know, God, well if you're real, why don't you just reveal yourself to me? You knocked Paul off that horse. Why don't you knock me off my bat horse, strike me with lightning. Do something here. I'm reaching out. Where are you? And I wasn't getting anything. You know, God, if you're real, why don't you just make my wife pregnant? Show me that you're real tomorrow. You know? And these are now I understand selfish, immature, not real Christian prayers, but to somebody who doesn't understand Christianity, they sound right. And I'm like, okay, well, you know, if God's real shouldn't need, he wants me to believe in 'em. Right? So where is he? And that's getting more intense. Speaker 1 00:37:49 And I'm starting to kind of bring my wife along for the ride because obviously she's stuck in the same house with me. <laugh>, she certainly wasn't having it. I bought her a planner once. I remember we were talking about this and bible verses in it just to see if I can get her kinda interested. And she's like, why did you buy this for me? I don't want this. You know, where's, where's God in our walk? You know, with, with life. Um, and then she, but she loves me somehow <laugh> and she got me. We, we love books too. So we love books. We love each other. We at Barnes and Noble one night and there's a bargain section. She gets me a book, it's called Letters to an Atheist by Peter Crave. And she knew all the stuff that I was interested in. Now, Peter Crave, for those of you who don't know, is at least in my opinion, one of the smartest theologians of this, of this era. Speaker 1 00:38:36 And I read this book because my wife hands it to me and says, this sounds like you. So I start reading it, and it's a brilliant book in the sense that it's addressed to an imaginary atheist in order to address the many, you know, questions. Why is there evil? Um, things like that, that were really deep to me. And I was reading this book and it was late at night and I remember you, you have these moments that in your journey that kinda stand out to you. And I remember my wife, she never slept well to begin with. And during what we were going through emotionally speaking, she was kept up late at night and I didn't even care if she was awake or not. I started shaking her cuz sometimes I would talk her to sleep because I, as you can tell, I talk a lot and it helps people to get to sleep. Speaker 1 00:39:20 Um, you can always market this podcast after, as you know, sleeping if you'd like. But I told her, I, I think it might be real. I was reading the argument about the apostles and what motivated them. And I've already heard this a little bit from cold case Christianity, defending the historicity of the Bible and comparing it to other documents in the ancient world and saying, no, this is extremely well attested stuff. And as j Warner Wallace put it, there's only a few motives for people to lie or to do things both criminally speaking and almost in anything else. It's money, it's power, it's sex, it's, you know, it's pride. I mean, there's a few others, but Peter Kraft wove this into the lives of the apostles in the resurrection. Whether or not the resurrection was fake, did they hide the body of Jesus? Did they make up a religion? Speaker 1 00:40:09 As so many people had told me that, oh yeah, they just made it up cause they wanted to earn money. It's, it's, it's to control you. Uh, these governments made up Christianity to keep people in line, but you're reading the lives of the apostles, the martyrology of them, and they died. All of them went to their death. Did they have money to gain? Did they have power to gain? Did they have sex? The game? Absolutely not. These were some of 'em celibate Jews who knew that they were preaching against the most powerful empire on earth, possibly even throughout history, one of the strongest empire. They were speaking against their own religion. And why, what do they have to gain from that? They knew Jesus personally. And and I know some people, there are Jesus Methodists out there. I will tell you, look at books like Jesus and the eyewitnesses. Speaker 1 00:40:53 There's a lot of fantastic books just showing. That's just a silly hypothesis at this point. Um, he was somebody who lived and I accepted that there was a guy named Jesus. And these apostles clearly knew him. And somebody was writing about it enough that we have the documents today better preserved than most other documents throughout history. And they all died <laugh>. And I mean, if you put a gun to my head at that point in my life and said, is Jesus real? I would've said, no, please don't shoot me. Um, but they didn't, they were crucified upside down in Peter's case. They were thrown to the lions happily. And I'm shaking my wife, and I'm saying, this makes sense to me. Jesus. And, and Peter crave concluded the chapter with, of course, the trilemma. There's either three possibilities. He's a lunatic. He's crazy, and people are believing him for some reason. Speaker 1 00:41:36 But, you know, did, why would they believe a lunatic? I mean, why would they go to their death for someone who showed signs of craziness? Uh, he was a liar. Um, he was making it up again for money, power. What motive? What motive did he have to lie or he was the Lord? And man, that struck me, and I get chills just saying that because I remember staying in that bed and just like, wow, what an argument. And I, I finished that book that night. Of course, you know, you gotta keep going. And at the back of the book, Peter Kraft, um, despite being a very well known speaker, and apologist said, if you have any questions, here's my email. And I took him up on that. I, so a lot of times when people ask me these days, how do you become a Christian? Well, I lost a debate. <laugh>, I emailed him with some objections. Speaker 2 00:42:20 Oh yeah. So you came to a place where you could no longer refuse what actually made sense. Intellectually, Speaker 1 00:42:33 It was, yeah. I mean, I sent Peter crave my email, and I asked him right off the bat, I said, Hey, I have some questions. I know you're probably busy, but could you answer them? You did such a good job. And nobody else, I, I literally was asking professors in college that I knew said they were Catholic, but they didn't have anything for me. They had no idea. <laugh>, um, or Christians, even just processs. And very few people had any answers for me. Um, gosh, there was even a woman at work who had a cross necklace, and she was a very devout believer. Um, again, I ne I didn't know any growing up. So whenever I met one, it was kind of something of an oddity. You'd be like, really believe in this stuff. Um, and she's still a friend to this day, wonderful woman. And, uh, and so, and that's a no, by the way, for any Christians out there, if you ever wonder whether or not you should be wearing crosses around your neck and things like that, it might help somebody. Speaker 1 00:43:20 Cause I asked her about her faith and she helped me a little bit later on. Anyway. Um, so yeah, Peter Kraft, his response to me when I asked him if I could ask him questions was, yeah, of course. And if you have questions that Christianity can't answer, you shouldn't believe it. I said, what you're saying that if Christianity, if I have an an a question for you and you can't answer it, I shouldn't believe in Christianity. I'm like, well, game on buddy. And, uh, so I took him up on that. I I was kind of arrogant. I'm like, okay, I've got some hard ones for you. And I mean, there were things, again, problem of evil. Uh, why do all these churches disagree? And I was just blown away by his confidence there. This wasn't a guy giving me $50 to coffee and saying, come to my church, I'll give you coffee money. This was a guy saying, I got nothing to lose. Christianity's got all the answers. And I'm like, all right. And by the end of that email chain, I said, okay, I'm, I believe it. I'm I'll go to church eventually. Speaker 2 00:44:15 And it was enough to convince you. And uh, Speaker 1 00:44:18 Yeah, it led me to my next step. Speaker 2 00:44:20 Yes. Which was Speaker 1 00:44:23 A real prayer. <laugh>, not a gimme, gimme prayer, not a God. Where are you? Where's your name? In the stars prayer. A I am convinced intellectually, God, that you exist. You don't have to do anything for me because you already did. You died on a cross for me. And I love you. Thank you for showing yourself to me. I've been asking you all this time, and I, I kind of had to meet you. You know, you, you left these crumbs for me, and I see that this is your way of approaching me. Gosh, infinitely powerful. God, you know, arranging things, providentially is that I come upon these books. I mean, how else could it be? So, so I prayed and I said, God, I don't care. You don't have to make my wife pregnant. You don't have to. You don't have to appear to me in a beam of light and say, here I am. Speaker 1 00:45:13 Ask me questions. Um, I really think you're real, and I'm going to, I'm gonna believe in you no matter what. And this was actually, so this was over a year, uh, in our journey. Um, my wife and I, um, we had been, there was a lot going on that week. Um, and it was really hard, I would say, um, because we had already come to terms with the fact that we weren't having a kiss. Uh, I was going to an adoption conference the very next week. I know this all sounds very crazy, but I mean, we had an IVF appointment that Monday morning, I was praying on a Sunday. Obviously we weren't going to church cause we didn't really know where to start. Um, and my wife wasn't exactly along for the ride at that point either. Um, and that very night we had a big fight Right after I prayed, my wife was devastated. I don't blame her. I mean, she was kinda like, how can you still have hope? You know? Um, I just wanna have your kids, you know, is that really so much to ask? I just wanna be a mother. And, uh, you know, she went to bed in tears. I mean, we, it was a really rough night for us. So, I mean, that was a big moment. I was Christian. She wasn't. And, uh, there was a lot going on for us in backgrounds. Speaker 3 00:46:23 And we're going to take a break for a moment from our story so that I can tell you about the CS Lewis Institute Fellows Program. This program is a 12 month discipleship course that focuses on monthly themes related to theology, spiritual formation, and apologetics. Through the structure of a strong curriculum like-minded community and a one-on-one mentorship, our fellows encounter a life-changing experience that develops them to grow deeper in their faith as disciples of Christ. The CS Lewis Institute is now accepting applications for this fellows program. It is offered in 15 different cities and is for Christians who are seeking to broaden their Christian education and deepen their personal faith to learn more. And to find out if you live in a city where the fellows program is offered, please visit www.csosinstitute.org. Now we'll return to our story. Speaker 2 00:47:31 So, so then obviously you have four children, <laugh>, and so your infertility issues, uh, were resolved in some way. Um, but I also wonder, your, your wife who was perhaps not in, in initially accepting of your faith, did she come to believe as with you? Speaker 1 00:47:57 You know, there's a quote I really love, and this is from a completely unrelated topic. It's from, gosh, John Green, the Fault in our stars fiction book, terribly depressing, beautiful book about cancer. Um, the, the, the quote is, I think something along the lines of this, I fell in love, like falling asleep slowly at first and then all at once. It, it's just a beautiful quote about how sometimes these things happen where, you know, we kind of edge into them. And I think that describes my faith, but I think it describes her even better because of what happened. So the next day, um, instead of me shaking her awake and saying, Hey, I think I believe in God, which was a couple months prior at that point, um, she woke me up and she was just, she does okay. She, one, she doesn't do that <laugh>, um, two, it was four in the morning, so it had to be good, right? Speaker 1 00:48:51 Or bad. Uh, one of those two things, and I will never forget it. And she said, I'm pregnant <laugh>, and I just can't even, this is the unbelievable part, right? So, and she in her hand, of course, you know, over the bed is the pregnancy test and it says she's pregnant. And so there's all sorts of questions here, right? Like, one, why is it 4:00 AM two? Why are you testing? We weren't even, I mean, at that point, like believing that we could capable of that. And we go to, I still have the picture of her sitting in the bathroom. You know, both of us are bawling our eyes out as I I I almost am right now, um, just with this test in our hands that says positive. And I mean, I was just celebrating. I was ecstatic. I was like, really? Like, I didn't believe it. Speaker 1 00:49:36 We're gonna take like three more of those that morning. So over time, you know, we start, and it's funny, the first time I ever prayed with her, um, and it's still hard. I mean, we're still atheists growing up, you know, so it's still weird. But the first time I ever prayed with her was the night before we went in to have our son Ronan, and she obviously is first time mom about to give birth. I mean, gosh, I would be terrified too. So we said a prayer together and, um, at that point, I mean, you really couldn't ignore it. It slowly but gradually. And then I remember when I sent that email to Peter Craf much later with those kids, I said, as I write this to you, there's a Bible by my wife's bed sand. There's, there's mirror Christianity, there's screw tape letters, there's a stack. Speaker 1 00:50:21 And I would've never believed this was, this could have been her. Um, so she is probably even more like she helps my faith these days, not the other way around, she believes. And when my son was born, I was holding him my arms for the first time, you know, I said, Ronan, welcome to the world. And I just pray and I say, thank you, God, thank you. And I will raise him to know about you, and I will do everything I can to, you know, please use me, use my family to spread this through the world and, um, in whatever little ways you can because that's what else can I offer? I mean, he's God, he has everything he wants, but I, you know, I can give him my free will. And, uh, this to this day, I'm trying apologetics. I I hope that I can reach people. Speaker 2 00:51:03 Hmm. Yeah. I, I'm just so overwhelmed by your story and it, it just, it, it takes me back to that time where you just at the thought of having children wondering what to teach whoever this child or children were going to be and being willing to ask the big questions, being willing to go on a path of discovery, a journey of searching, and it was, it had twists and turns, but look at where you landed <laugh>. I think, I think that God honored your journey and, um, obviously has, has, you are, you are not only convinced intellectually, but you, you have a very palpable passion about who it is you believe and what you believe and why you believe it, and what you want to do, like you say with your life. It's just, it's just extraordinary, Nico, and I'm, I'm just very taken by the full arc of it, of moving from such skeptical atheism to such profound and deep belief in belief in God. Um, for, for someone who might be listening and they are way back at that, you know, questioning skepticism may be spiritual, but relish, religious or even just not even imagine believing in God because of all of the awful stuff going on with the church or, or you name it. Um, what would you say to someone like that who might be willing to take a second look? Speaker 1 00:52:49 The two big things. One, don't assume that you understand the objections that you're putting out for Christianity until you've read the other side. Seek out debates. Seek out, unless you've even broached the, you don't have to read the Summa Theolog or whatever. It's, I I, I don't even know if I can pronounce that correctly. You don't have to read Thomas Aquinas, but if you don't understand the main arguments on which Christianity is based, don't assume. You know, at least, and this is what I've always said to atheist, I usually give a list of books and I'll say, and even stuff like CS Lewis, me, Christianity, I mean, there's, there's a central reading and I don't want, and I never say an atheist read this and be converted. I say, read this because either you're gonna convert to Christianity or you're not gonna be converted, but you're gonna be a better person for it. Speaker 1 00:53:40 You're gonna be a smarter person for it. You're gonna be affirmed in your atheism, and you'll understand why you don't believe what you don't believe. And so I would say read, and don't just assume that this is all just bronze age fairy tales or all this craziness. There's such, I mean, some of the smartest minds I believe in history, were at least faithful. I mean, at least Deest, um, um, don't write it off for the wor, don't look at the worst Christians. Just like I wouldn't look at the worst atheists as examples of atheists. And I would say number two, this is gonna sound weird and this is gonna sound, everyone's gonna look at me and be like, oh yeah, of course the Catholic would say this. Don't just read the Bible. If you're gonna read the Bible, and you absolutely should, even if you're a committed atheist and you'll never convert, it is one of the most important works ever composed. Speaker 1 00:54:35 It's multiple works in human history. Read it with commentary, read it, you know, listen to the Bible in a year podcast with Mike Schmidt where he is going to explain some stuff to you because there's stuff in there that's gonna sound absolutely bizarre. You got Tom talking donkeys, you got talking serpents. None of that's gonna make any sense to you. And you're just gonna do what people like. I think Penta Pen and Teller would say, I'm not a Christian because I read the Bible. Well, sure you did, but did you? The Bible is a collection of works across thousands of years written by different cultures for different audiences with different understandings of the world in a different language. So to think that you can just pick up the Bible. Now granted, I do believe it's inspired by God. The Holy Spirit is there. He will speak to you when you read it. Speaker 1 00:55:19 I believe that a hundred percent. And I will believe he leads you to truth through reading it. There are things I discover today, seven, eight years in, and I don't think this is ever gonna stop. I used to say to myself, we're gonna become Christians and then we're gonna get bored, and then we're gonna be atheists. Anything. But we've never stopped reading. There's so much I, I told used to be into sci-fi fantasy. Now I'm into his history because there's just so much to learn. Um, and I feel like there's not a Sunday that goes by where I hear something that I may have heard three times before that I'm like, oh my gosh, not only was this a callback to the Old Testament and Isaiah 22, but this is like, also has like context from, um, the culture going on at that time. So my advice, twofold again, read, be open-minded. Speaker 1 00:56:03 At least try to understand what the, be steelman your opponents. Don't strawman your opponents. St. Thomas Aquinas was famous for steel manning his opponents in debates before he tried to knock them down. Do the same to us. Try to knock down our arguments. Take us at our absolute best. Look at the five fruit, five ways. See if you can find a way around them, because I don't think anyone has, uh, and actually read the Bible with a mind for being open to what it says culturally. You know, look into what it actually does say, and just, just be open-minded. That's all. I, I would say I'm open-minded to other truth claims too. I like reading books by ideas. Still. I like reading books by different denominations in Christianity. Um, we are made better. Again, this is my lawyer speaking in America and this definitely now set aside corruption and other things like that. The best way you're gonna learn what the truth is is by setting the two opposing claims against each other. And, and the truth always wins out. I believe Jesus Christ is that truth. He is truth incarnate. He is the word. Speaker 2 00:57:01 Yeah. That's, that's powerful. I think. I think it's, it's very important what you're saying because I, as you have said before, I think people dismiss Christianity out of hand without a hearing. And it, and it is important to understand what it is you're rejecting by giving it due diligence without just rejecting it out of hand. So I appreciate your, your encouragement there. So for the ch the Christian who's listening and, and they know a skeptic in their life who, who seems to be perhaps where you were, uh, way back when, and they want to, to somehow engage them in a meaningful way, what would you encourage them to do or to say Speaker 1 00:57:41 So much you're in an age of skepticism. So my advice is this, if you are a Christian, be prepared to have a reason for why you believe. When I teach my fifth grade class, I would say, why are you Christian? Was my first question. And so many of the answers were, well, because mom and dad told me I have to be, and I wanna teach these kids. I mean, even if their answer is because I think it's true, well why? And I think that's something that we have to be prepared to give to others too. And it can't simply be because the Bible says so. And I see that on in online comments all the time. And as somebody who that argument who once heard those arguments, that was the worst argument, that was the one that you just wrote off criticize, is they're just gonna say, oh yeah, the Bible says it's true. Speaker 1 00:58:25 Because as a, as a atheist, one of the objections was often, well, why aren't there other things besides the Bible? Long story short, you gotta be ready to explain why is the Bible a reliable source if you're gonna wanna point them to that. So for Christians out there who want to kind of bring their atheist friends along for the ride, what you can do as a Christian is knock down the obstacles that the walls that they have humans put up. You see it in the Bible. There are people, it says there are gonna be people who don't understand why you believe what you believe, and you need to kind of be ready to account for that. I've actually heard atheists argue to me that the big bang is evidence that Christianity doesn't exist. And I think that's absolutely hilarious because those who actually understand it know that George Lamare, I don't know if I'm pronouncing his name right, was a priest and he was scoffed at by other scientists as trying to backdoor creation into his scientific theories. Speaker 1 00:59:21 Um, so anyway, just be ready. Pair your teenage kids when they go out into the world and even before that for the challenges that they're going to, you know, ultimately be raised with. And, you know, we can't force them to believe. That's one thing to always understand. You can't force a kid to believe you. In fact, if anything, that's just gonna make it worse. You can't give 'em a $50 coffee gift card and say, this is gonna come to church. That's not gonna work. You have to convince them. And that starts in your own home. And it starts with the way you live, the way you live your life. Do you act as if, you know, it really starts with whether or not you live out those world words. That the only thing that Christianity cannot be is moderately important because this is infinitely important. Speaker 1 01:00:03 You're gonna be at church every week, you're gonna be praying every day, you're gonna be talking to the God who knows every single thought that you have in your head, and you're gonna be living your life accordingly. If your kid kids smell insincerity and if they see mom going to church, but dad's staying at home and watching football or playing video games or something like that, they're not gonna believe that. So I would just say live consistently. Be ready with apologetics to the best of your ability, not to convince them just to, you know, be able to show them, oh, no, no, there is a basis for what I believe. Um, and yeah, just have an understanding of why, why you believe what you believe. You can't just say, well, why is Christianity true? Because God so love the world that he gave his only son. You're, you're not gonna win anybody over with that. I've seen people try. It's, it wouldn't have won me over. It's not gonna win everybody else over. You can't just throw what they already don't believe at them and hope for it to land. You have to tell them, why should I believe that? Speaker 2 01:00:55 Yeah, that's all very, very wise advice. I, I can tell again that, that you see Christianity as something as infinitely important and that it shows in your life. And I think you, your admonition to us as Christians is for us to, to think and feel it, live it, to breathe it to, for it to be so much a part of our lives, um, that it's undeniable and that, that it's important to us. And so it, and that it's life changing. Not only that God exists, but that, that he matters and it makes all the difference. So thank you so, so much, Niko. I have loved our conversation today and I really genuinely appreciate your coming on to tell your story. Speaker 1 01:01:42 Keep doing the ministry that you're doing. It's so important in the world today. Somebody like me is gonna pick up your podcast and they're gonna listen and hopefully they're gonna find that support they need and they're not finding anywhere else in their lives. So thank you for what you do and God bless you and everybody listening, thank you for sitting through this, even if you think I'm full baloney <laugh>. Speaker 2 01:02:02 Oh, well thanks so much Niko. Speaker 1 01:02:04 Thank you. Speaker 2 01:02:05 Thanks for tuning into Side Me Stories. To hear Nico's story. You can find out more about Nico and the resources he recommended in this episode. In our episode notes. For questions and feedback about this podcast, you can contact me through our [email protected]. Also, if you're a skeptic or atheist who would like to connect with one of our former atheists with questions, please contact us on our Cby stories website and we'll get you connected. I hope if you enjoyed it, that you'll follow rate, review and share this podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to seeing you next time where we'll see how another skeptic flips the record of their life.

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