Looking for Evidence - Mark McGee's Story

Looking for Evidence - Mark McGee's Story
Side B Stories
Looking for Evidence - Mark McGee's Story

Feb 16 2024 | 01:07:53

Episode 0 February 16, 2024 01:07:53

Hosted By

Jana Harmon

Show Notes

Former atheist Mark McGee left his childhood Christian faith to search for truth in Eastern world religions, but it eventually led him into atheism. An inquisitive journalist, he investigated the evidence for Christianity and believed.

Mark's Resources:

Resources mentioned by Mark:

  • The Philistines and the Old Testament, Dr. Edward Hindson
View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:02] Speaker A: What that started, Jana, was it started a five month investigation into three things. I said, okay, mark, you're a young journalist. You know the process. You've been to college. You've done this for a while. What do you need to know? I need to know, number one, does God exist? If God exists, is it the God of the Bible? Is the Bible. Number two, is the Bible a credible book of history? Not of religion, but of history? Okay. And then the third thing was, did Jesus Christ, did Jesus actually live, die by roman crucifixion and rise from the dead? So those were the three things that I investigated for five months. [00:01:02] Speaker B: Hello and thanks for joining in. I'm Jana Harmon, and you're listening to Sidebee stories, where we see how skeptics flip 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 our stories on our sideby stories website at www.sidebystories.com or through our YouTube channel. We welcome your comments on these stories on our facebook page and through email. That's [email protected] we do love hearing from you. We believe things for all kinds of reasons, but when it comes to religious beliefs, some people really want to know that what they believe is true. Not just metaphorically true, but true as it relates to history and science and philosophy. Christianity is a religion that sets itself apart from other faith traditions in that it makes falsifiable claims. It is not merely a set of principles or pathways to a better way of living. Rather, it is based in claims about objective reality. If it is true, then there should be ways of verifying it to be so. There are those who would contend that the idea of evidence is nonsensical when it comes to the reality of God or the veracity or truth of Christianity. But then there are many who would strongly contend for its truth, including those who knew Jesus, who spent time debating and persuading others, especially of Jesus'life, death and resurrection. In fact, many gave their lives for what they believed. They saw a man who claimed to be God, who verified that claim by rising from the dead. While some people don't have or see a need for apologetics or giving good reasons for the truth of Christianity, others, such as many in my research with former atheists, wouldn't believe without it. It was an essential part of their convergent journey towards faith and towards eventual trust in Jesus. Former atheist Mark McGee was a professional news reporter who valued truth. He wanted to believe things for good reason. He left the christian faith of his childhood, searched in vain for truth in eastern world religions, and eventually found atheism. But in a strange turn of events, he began a new search to look at the evidence for God and Christianity. It changed his mind and his life. I hope you'll come along to hear his story. [00:03:41] Speaker C: Welcome to cybe stories. Mark, it's so great to have you with me today. [00:03:44] Speaker A: Thank you, Janet. It's nice to be here. [00:03:46] Speaker C: As we're getting started, Mark, I'd love for the listeners to know a little bit about you. So could you give us an introduction to who you are, maybe a little bit about your background, where you live? [00:03:57] Speaker A: Sure. I live in Huntsville, Alabama. This is my second time living here. First time I lived here, I was a news director at a tv station, and my career in broadcasting journalism has moved me around the country. So our oldest son lives here with three of our granddaughters. So that pulled me back, pulled my wife back, and we've been here about nine years to be near family. It's been fun watching the little girls grow up, and now they're young ladies and headed off to college. [00:04:32] Speaker C: It sounds very good. Yeah. The time passes quickly, doesn't it, when you watch your grandchildren grow up? [00:04:40] Speaker A: Yes. [00:04:40] Speaker C: So let's get back into your story. When you were a child, I'd love to know what your home life looked like. Was religion a part of your family, rhythm or routine? Was God a part of that picture or not? Religion in any sort? Why don't you introduce it to your family and your upbringing? [00:05:09] Speaker A: Sure. Absolutely. I was born very shortly after World War II. My parents were married, both of them were in the navy. And after World War II, my dad came home and I was born soon afterward, and we moved to Kansas. Both my parents were very religious. They had grown up. My dad was a primitive Baptist. My mother was an old style methodist. I don't know how those two ever got together, but somehow they did. So I spent several years until I was about eight years old in Kansas City. And I remember going to church all the time. My mother was a church secretary, so religion was a big part. My grandmother, my maternal grandmother, who was very religious, came to live with us. And then when we moved when I was eight to Florida, we got involved in another church. And so religion, Christianity, church has been a part, was a part of my childhood. It was just, I didn't think anything other than on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night we're going to church. That was life. [00:06:34] Speaker C: That's just what you did, and I presume that you participated, that you believed or had some kind of childhood understanding that there was a God and perhaps prayed or sang or participated in a very personal way, or was it just something that your parents did? [00:06:56] Speaker A: That's a good question. I've thought about that a lot, and that's part of my story, that somehow or other I was able to enjoy much of church life. But God as a person wasn't really something I thought about. I loved the competitions. We used to call them sword drills. All the kids in Sunday school would stand out with their little bibles, and we'd be told a verse and we would find it and step forward and read it. And I always wanted to beat everybody else. It was competition. I love music. My mother was a choir director. She and I sang a lot of duets together as I grew up. Sang in the choir, so love music. I played in our school bands from fourth grade all the way through senior high, played in not only school bands, but youth symphonies. So music was a big part of my life. So I think the church gave me opportunities to do things I enjoyed doing. [00:08:13] Speaker C: I see. [00:08:14] Speaker A: But as far as there being a personal relationship with God, I don't believe I ever had one. When I was about ten, I noticed that all of my friends were all walking down the aisle. Not all at once, but every once in a while, one of them walked down and would make a profession of faith. And I began to feel the pressure that I was ten years old and I needed to make a profession of faith. So I did. I walked down the aisle, took the pastor's hand. He said, why are you here? I said, I'm here to make a profession of faith. I sat down, I filled out a card, I attended six weeks of studies, was baptized, and I was done. In other words, I had done what you had to do in my church in order to get the pressure off your back from adults and others who said, you need to be saved, you need to be saved, you need to be saved. But as far as my receiving, in a personal way, a relationship with Jesus Christ that was not there, and that would play a part in my story as I grew up. But I was very involved in the church because of my parents. [00:09:39] Speaker C: So even though you may have not have taken it in a personal way or met Jesus in a personal way or so, did you ever have doubts that it was true? Did you push back internally, despite the church culture and pressure to kind of perform or be a part of the group? [00:10:02] Speaker A: I did, and here's why. When I was twelve years old, I'd always wanted to be in broadcasting. Ever since I was about seven or eight, I got a radio, one of those crystal sets. This was back in 1955, and little crystal set, and you could receive stations at night from New York City and Chicago and New Orleans. And I thought, I'd like to do that someday. So my parents got me a tape recorder for a birthday present, and I went around and I interviewed everybody in the family constantly. I was always putting a microphone in somebody's face. So from early on, I knew that I wanted to be involved in some way in radio and television. I love to write, I love to read. But when I was twelve years old, I was small and I was bullied at school and by larger, older boys in the neighborhood. And I mean physically bullied, not just mental abuse. They would knock me down, try to beat me up, and I was small, and I didn't know how to defend myself. Just cover up and you take what you get, and then hopefully they would leave you alone because they didn't want to get into too much trouble. So my parents decided to send me to the YMCA, thinking, okay, he'll work out, he'll get some strength, maybe get some confidence. While I was at the YMCA, I noticed in another room people, older people and younger people, children and adults, all dressed in white, white tops, white pants. Judo, gee, it was a judo uniform. And I watched these little, these little people, these children throw these big adults over their shoulders, and I thought, wow, that's what I want, right? That's what I want to do to these. So. So I asked my parents and they agreed to let me sign up. So I signed up for judo, and I learned judo, fell in love with martial arts, and from that day forward, without my telling anybody, I was never bullied again. I think it just gave me confidence, but it gave me something that was not good. It introduced me to eastern mysticism. It was through judo, aikido, karate, and kung fu. It introduced me to a whole lot of other ways of thinking, other worldviews, shintoism, buddhism, taoism. And that began my questioning what I had been taught as a Christian until that time in church. Until that time, I had no reason to question. It's just what my family did. But now I was meeting a whole lot of other people. And when I was about 14, I started studying a martial art under a buddhist monk. And my parents didn't know he was a buddhist monk. They said that if they had known that, they wouldn't have allowed me to learn and so I began to learn a lot of things about reincarnation. Hinduism was one of the things I went through Zen Buddhism and began to wonder, I wonder if that's true. I wonder if that's true. So that was really where I began to push back. And I love the martial arts. I love the physicality. I love learning how to defend myself. I learned. I became a teacher when I was about 16, 1516, and I began to wonder, why am I going to church? And so when I was about 16, I began to push back and tell my parents, I don't want to go to church anymore. And we talked about it, but they said, okay, you're 16. We're going to let you make your own decisions. And so that was the process of why I pushed back against Christianity. [00:14:45] Speaker C: So as you were pushing back and you were wondering whether or not Buddhism or taoism or whatever you were learning was true, did you actually actively investigate those eastern mysticism religions or mystic religions, or was it just something you kind of participated in? [00:15:10] Speaker A: Yes, I think I was born a researcher. I think when I came out of the womb, I was ready to ask the doctors and nurses in the delivery room some questions. I'm just a researcher. [00:15:26] Speaker C: You just have a curious mind, I presume. [00:15:29] Speaker A: Well, to be a journalist, you need four things. You need to be curious, you need to be skeptical, you need to be objective, and you need to be accurate. Those are the four basics of journalism. So I had the curiosity, so I went to the library on a regular basis. I got on my bicycle. It was about a mile away. I grew up in a small town in Florida, and I would go and spend hours and I researched these religions, and I would come home. I would not bring those books home because I didn't want my parents to know what I was looking into. But I would read about Buddhism, and what is that? And what is Hinduism is where I started, because the teacher also taught yoga. And so I was introduced to Hinduism through yoga practice. And then I had my Zen buddhist teacher, and then I had a shintoist teacher, and then I had another taoist teacher. And so the fact that I admired them, they were my teachers. They were teaching me martial arts. They were teaching me physical skills, physical mental skills that were quite effective. So I researched them, and I tried to do in private what they were teaching me to do. I was trying to understand reincarnation. I was trying to understand the worship of millions of gods. And of course, that's an impossibility. So the yoga teacher said, pick five gods and out of the millions, pick five, and generally you pick the two big ones, two regional ones, two national ones, and two local ones. I really tried to worship an idol, and I felt silly doing it, but it's what I read that you do. I spent every day that I could researching and looking into and trying to practice some aspect of eastern mysticism. At the same time keeping secret from my parents what I was doing. [00:18:04] Speaker C: Interesting. So you were absorbing it, not only intellectually, but you were trying to try it on experientially. You had bought into the philosophy, I presume, of these religions, or one more than another, I presume. [00:18:20] Speaker A: Well, I was trying to understand them. I don't know that I would say that I bought into them. I was trying to understand them. The way my mind works, it has to work. Something has to work. Something has to be evidential. As a journalist, I must have evidence. You can tell me how you feel, and that's fine. I don't mind you telling me how you feel, but without evidence, I have no way of proving that what you feel is true. So I came. I graduated from high school and went to college. And lo and behold, I signed up for a world religions class because I knew my parents were watching what classes I was going to. Of course, I was taking radio and tv and writing in English and things that journalists do, but you had to take an elective. So I chose world religions. Unbeknownst to them, the instructor was an atheist. So here I am sitting in a world religions class being taught by an atheist. That was an interesting experience. So I was fascinated because he was able to answer a lot of questions, and he poured cold water on every single religion, every single religious worldview that was out there. The only worldview to him that made any sense that was reasonable was atheist. He said, you can even be agnostic, just you don't know. But he said, stay there, don't say you don't know, and then say later, now I know that a religion is true. So he was really pushing atheism. So being the researcher, I started looking into atheism, and I began reading every atheist book I could find, every atheist author I could find. And one of my personal favorites was Bertrand Russell. Russell was still alive at the time, and he wrote a book called why I am not a Christian, which is a classic. And I read that and I thought, wow. And I said, that's why I'm not a Christian. So Christianity is gone, but what about Hinduism? What about Buddhism? What about Taoism? So little by little by little, I was able to question, well, if there are thousands of lifetimes, who's in charge of the lifetimes, who's up there? Who got it started? Where did it come from? If Buddhism is the idea of getting to a point where you have finally gotten rid of suffering and you're absorbed into the universe, Nirvana, you're headed for something and you're absorbed into it, what is it? So my mind just did not accept any of those religions that I had looked at all those years, and the only thing that made any sense to me at all was atheism. I saw it as reasonable, I saw it as logical. I think a lot of that was because I was young, and there's a whole lot of things I hadn't asked yet. There were a lot of questions that I had yet to ask. But when I was 1819 years old, the questions I asked led me to atheism. From that point on, I said, I am an atheist. That did not go down well with my family. They began to pray for me. [00:22:41] Speaker C: Oh, I'm sure. [00:22:42] Speaker A: And they got their church to pray for me. And friends of mine I grew up with were praying for, right. And I thought, well, who do you think you're praying? Yes, I say, you can talk all day long. I don't care, doesn't affect me as an atheist. I can do whatever I want. A lot of people believe that atheists are wrong because they don't believe there's any purpose in life. There's no purpose. Atheists believe that they make their own purpose. Atheism, from my experience as an atheist, was that I was, if you could call it that, I was my own God. I was able to prescribe for myself what my purpose and meaning in life would be. And I lived my life according to the way I believe it should be lived. I knew a lot of other atheists. I worked with atheists, and we all agreed we didn't all do the same things, we didn't all go the same places. We all had different purposes and meanings and ideas and desires, but we all believed that there was nothing above us, there was nothing but matter. Material is all that there is, and that we would live the best life that we thought we could. We would accomplish whatever we wanted to accomplish, and we would die, and we would cease to exist. And that's what we believed about God. I was an evolutionist. Evolution and atheism go hand in hand was what I found. [00:24:32] Speaker D: I'd like to pause for a moment and ask you an important question about something you may not have ever considered. Have you ever thought about your spiritual legacy? What I mean by that is we're all going to die. But not many of us have thought about the message we would love to leave for our friends, families, and others about the most important thing in our lives. That is our faith in Jesus, along with our love and hope for them to know him as well. If you'd like help in preparing a message like this, Dr. Joel Woodruff, president of the C. S. Lewis Institute, answers questions and provides guidance in a new, helpful, easy to understand video filled with real life stories and examples. You can find this on the Cs. Lewis Institute website at www.cslewisinstitute.org. Forward Slash spiritual Legacy I hope you'll come take advantage of this wonderful resource for you and your loved ones. Now back to our story. [00:25:44] Speaker C: So you were obviously convinced by it. As an investigative journalist of sorts, it sounds like you had done due diligence. You had looked at the religions. You were convinced by atheism. As an atheist, how did you look upon christians and Christianity and religion as a whole? [00:26:05] Speaker A: Well, I'm a little embarrassed to say this. I thought christians were ignorant. I didn't want to call them stupid because I love my parents and I cared about the people I grew up with. So I didn't think of them as being stupid in the sense of they just didn't know anything. I just thought they were ignorant because they didn't know what I knew. They hadn't asked the questions. They were caught up in believing something that they could not prove, that they had faith in something that was really a leap into the darkness. There was nothing out there but darkness, but they just couldn't see that it was dark. They just believed what they were told. And so I thought of them as ignorant. But I had very little to do with christians after that time because I didn't revisit my church. My life moved me on to where I got into broadcasting journalism, and that began to move me to other cities, other places, away from my home, my family. [00:27:37] Speaker C: Would you say your life during that time as an atheist was full and satisfying and you had found the answers to all of reality? You understood it. You were in a good place, would you say? [00:27:54] Speaker A: I don't know that I would say I was in a good place. I was trying to be in a good place. But a lot of what I was trying to do was not bringing me real happiness. It wasn't bringing me lasting joy. It wasn't bringing me fulfillment. So when you're in a position where something you think is right is not bringing you fulfillment. You just try more of it. So it took me deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper into a darker and darker place. And I don't know that I really realized it, but my life was beginning to unravel, personally, in a lot of different ways. My main focus was on my career, trying to build a career in broadcasting. And I had gotten to the point where I thought I was in a pretty good place because I had a radio talk show in a large city, one of the largest cities in our country. It was a major market, in other words. And I was talk show host and well known, much hated people I met years later said, you know what? You're the one person that we never thought would become a Christian. We really hated listening to you. Many times, people, I think, have an incorrect response to somebody who is different or who doesn't think like they think, and they're not quite sure what to do with that. I used to have Christians call up all the time on my show because I would say things like, well, if God exists, I'm going to give him 10 seconds. I've got a chair and a microphone set up across the table from me. If God exists, I'm going to give him 10 seconds to show up and I'll interview him. Well, if you know anything about radio, it'd be maybe similar to a podcast. 10 seconds is a lifetime in radio. If you don't say anything for 10 seconds, you're thinking, what has gone wrong? But I waited out. I watched the clock and I waited 10 seconds, and then I said, well, maybe God is sick today. Well, maybe God is on vacation. Well, maybe God doesn't exist. Maybe that's why he didn't show up. And then the calls just poured in, and I had people telling me, you're going to hell. You're going to burn forever for this. And I had a little switch. We had what we call back then a seven second delay. So we recorded the person, and if they said something that the FCC would have problems with, I could cut them know, I could watch the seconds and I could cut them off and then go back to the tape. So I was doing a lot of that, whereas I would let them talk for a while and tell me how bad I was, how evil I was, how I was going to hell, and I would click them off, hang up the phone, and then I would say, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, another example of a loving christian. So I was not only a skeptic, I was a mocker. These people who were calling me were hurting the situation. It was putting me further and further from discovering the truth. Earlier you asked me if I had bought into Christianity or religion. Well, I bought into atheism. I mean, I bought into it. And because I bought into it, I didn't investigate it well enough. And I'm man enough to man up and admit that as an investigative journalist, I didn't do my job. I didn't do my due diligence. We had a lot of atheists on the air. I don't know if you've ever heard of Madeline here. Okay. Well, I knew her very well, and she was often a guest on my show. And Madeline, for those of you who don't know who Madeline Mary O'Hare is, she was one of the people who helped lead to the supreme court ruling that took prayer and Bible reading out of public schools. She also started the. So she was, she, she was on Phil Donahue a lot, and she was on my talk show a lot. And I used to talk to her off know, before the show or after the show. And I was in full agreement with everything that Madeline said. So unfortunately for me, I never wrestled with my atheism. I was very, very happy that I was totally in charge of my own destiny. [00:33:17] Speaker C: So you were totally in charge of your own destiny. And there was a presumption that atheism was correct and you were in agreement with all of the atheists that you knew, whether it was in writing or in person. So it seemed to be a settled perspective for you. It sounds like. [00:33:36] Speaker A: It was one of the reasons. And I guess in a way I investigated it. I just didn't do it in a very good way. But I would ask questions of the Christians who would call in on my talk show, and they would say, they would start talking about creation or the flood or Noah and the Ark or Jesus and the virgin birth. And I say, let me ask you a couple of questions. So I did investigate it from that aspect. But these were not experts. They were people who were in the pew. I had never invited a serious, scholarly Christian on my show, which is interesting. As I look back at it. I think there was some bias there on my part. I invited Anton Lavey on my show. He was the high priest of the church of Satan in San Francisco, and I had him on my show twice, and he wrote the satanic Bible. So I invited experts from other religious viewpoints, but I never invited an expert who was a Christian until one day I was reading the newspaper, and lo and behold, I came across a very small article. And the article was about a man who was a scientist. He was a doctor of geology, I think, but he also had master's in chemistry and maybe some other things. And he was going to be speaking at a local church about getting together a team of scientists to go to Mount Ararat to search for Noah's ark. And I thought, I've got to have this guy on my show. Now. One of the interesting things, janet, that happened that I think was something God ordained was that several months, well, let me go back a year before I became a Christian. My mother told me, you're going to become a Christian. And she was a little lady, so I had to look down. I had to look down at her, and I took her in my arms and I said, I love you, mom, but there is no way I'll ever be a Christian. Well, several months later, the owner of our radio station called a big meeting. He lived in another large city. He owned other radio stations. He called all the staff together, and he says, I want you to know that I'm changing the format of our station. We were going from news talk to religion. Now, think about that for a minute. News talk to religion. And here I am, an atheist. [00:36:42] Speaker C: Oh, my goodness. [00:36:44] Speaker A: And I need a job. I need a job, right? So I'm sitting in this room thinking, okay, everybody here knows that I'm an atheist because I talk about it all the time. And our owner has just announced that he's changing the format to religion. So I thought, oh, dear, I'm going to be fired. So then he called us in one by one, and we almost had to re interview for the jobs we already had. And he brought up his program director from another major market to be part of those interviews. Well, it came my turn, and I thought, how in the world am I going to as an atheist? Well, I told a little white lie, but I was an atheist, okay? So please, if you can forgive for that. But I didn't mention the atheism part. I said, well, I was raised in a christian church and went to church all my life, and I love singing the great old hymns of the christian faith. So I presented myself in a different light. And I'm very embarrassed to say that, but if some of my old radio station compadres hear this, they probably will not ever want to talk to me again, because I didn't say, well, I don't believe in God, but I'd love to work for you. So when everything was wrapped up, I became the operations manager. I was promoted. [00:38:30] Speaker C: Oh, my. I'm surprised that no one revealed your true colors. [00:38:37] Speaker A: Well, I guess I am, too. And again, there are three things that I believe, and this is on all my social media says this. Loved by God, saved by grace, blessed beyond measure. I believed that God loved me, and he was protecting me in ways that I had no idea because I didn't believe in him. But he loved me. I'm sorry. [00:39:12] Speaker C: No, it's very thinking back to the childhood church experience, where it wasn't personal. It's obviously very personal now. So I appreciate that. [00:39:28] Speaker A: Yeah, it's difficult when I give my testimony, because I end up crying. [00:39:37] Speaker C: No, yeah. No apologies necessary. [00:39:41] Speaker A: I'll see if I can continue. [00:39:44] Speaker C: So you became the operations manager for religious radio station. I think God has a sense of humor there. [00:39:54] Speaker A: Yes, he has a great sense of humor. I was able to keep a two hour a week interview show, so on Saturdays, I would come in and I would invite these guests in, but they had to be religious oriented, right? So I saw that this Christian who had a doctorate in geology, and he agreed to come and do a two hour radio interview with me. Well, for 2 hours, here I am sitting in a radio studio, recording an interview with somebody who was able to answer my questions. I had never met a christian who could answer my questions. I'd never met a pastor. I had never met another christian who was able to answer any tough questions. When I became an atheist, some christians should have reached out to me real quick and said, what are you doing? Why? But the interesting thing to me, Jana, and it's sad that when I became an atheist, it was almost like I was cut off from the christian community. And that's sad. And I would tell people, don't ever cut somebody off just because they deconstruct or deconvert. Don't write them off. Don't throw them away. Don't do that. So he answered questions. Well, here's what it did. I had this armor, this atheistic armor that I wore proudly. Dr. Morris put a huge chink in my armor. This guy was amazing. I mean, he talked to me about the cosmological argument. He talked to me about the teleological argument. He talked to me about irreducible complexity. He talked to me about the laws of thermodynamics. I mean, this guy was amazing. These were things that I'd never heard a Christian talk about. In fact, some of the things he talked about, I had to go look know, because they were new to just. And so what that started, jana, was it started a five month investigation into three things I said, okay, Mark, you're a young journalist. You know the process. You've been to college, you've done this for a while. What do you need to know? I need to know number one, does God exist? Yes, if God exists, is it the God of the Bible? Is the Bible. Number two, is the Bible a credible book of history, not of religion, but of history? Okay. And then the third thing was, did Jesus Christ, did Jesus actually live, die by roman crucifixion and rise from the dead? So those were the three things that I investigated for five months. Well, back in 1971, there was no such thing as the Internet, but there was the library. And I was very familiar with how to use the library. When I wasn't working, I visited the library. Well, I then, because I had to, every Saturday I had to have a different religious guest on. I noticed that there was this guy who had a christian drive in theater and he showed Billy Graham and other evangelistic type movies. And then he had a glass stage on it where he was an evangelist and he explained the gospel and invited people to receive Christ. And you'd reach out of your window and there was a little speaker box and there was a little thing and you'd get a card and you'd fill out the card and then on your way out you'd give it to somebody. So I thought, okay, this sounds like fun. So I invited him on found to be very nice guy. I really liked him, very nice. He didn't have as much information as the doctor did, but I just liked him for some reason. Now why, I can't tell you. I know why, but I began to visit him. I began to go by his office on the way home from work and there was another guy there. His name was Dr. Edward Heinzen. He had a doctorate in theology and had written a book called, in fact I've got it right here called the Philistines and the Old Testament. And he gave me a copy, I love it, to one of my dearest friends. And I looked at all this and I said, there's a little map here. And I said, wow, do you mean that I can actually go and I can check out biblical locations to secular information? There was some evidence out there and I couldn't as a journalist, not admit that evidence exists. Yes, if evidence exists, it exists. And as a journalist I have to do something with that. I either have to just like a jury or just like a judge, you have to eventually make a determination. So I had gotten to the point where I at least believed there was some reasonableness to the possibility that God exists. Wasn't saying he did exist, just there's this possibility. So I said, okay, the very first thing I'm going to ask is in the beginning, God. That's the first thing the Bible said. Because I'm trying to figure out, is the Bible credible? Because if it wasn't, I'm done. I can just wash my hands and I can go my merry way. I can be the atheist who just enjoys my life. So I began looking at different sciences, biology, chemistry, and I went through all the archaeology was another science. And I began looking at the different names of cities and towns, villages, people's names throughout the Old Testament, the New Testament. And what I found was that there was enough evidence back in 19 70, 71 when I was investigating that I could see that it at least was a credible book of history. Okay, I had to get to that point. Didn't mean that I believed in the Bible, it just meant that I looked at it and I said, okay, from the best that I can do, I can find these cities on a map, or I can find archaeological digs that were done that found something deep under the sand. Or there was a city buried under a city buried under a city. And it dates back to what the Bible times were. The Bible says it would have happened about this time. And lo and behold, archaeologists helped find that their dating was not bad at all. So then I came to number three, and this was the big one because I wasn't convinced, but I was interested and that's where I asked the question, did Jesus live? At the time? I believed that Jesus did not exist, had never existed. I was one of those people. Most scholars today, I mean non christian scholars, most secular scholars will agree that a person named Jesus lived during the first century AD. That question really is not a question. But back in 19 70, 71, there were still many of us who did not believe that Jesus had ever existed. We just believed he was made up. So I found through extra biblical sources in addition to archaeology and a lot of other things, that Jesus of Nazareth did exist. That he was arrested, that he was crucified, that he was buried, he died, he was buried, he rose again and was seen by witnesses. Now when I hit one, corinthians 15, that's when things lit up, okay? Because Paul the apostle, Paul said that, he said this gospel that I preach to you, he said, this is what it is. The scriptures have said that Jesus would die and that he would be buried and that he would rise again. And what I saw as a journalist was. I saw truth claim, evidence, evidence. The Bible didn't just give me truth claims because to a journalist, nah, doesn't work. I learned my investigative journalism from other investigative journalists and from detectives, police detectives, sheriff's detectives. I learned from people whose whole profession was ferreting out the truth. And they taught me a lot. So you can't just make a truth claim. You got to have evidence. And here I found in one corinthians 15 this amazing thing where Paul was giving me truth claim and then giving me the evidence behind it. Jesus died. He was, huh? Truth claim evidence. He rose. He was, huh? Truth claim evidence. Seen by who? One person? Not enough. Two people, still not enough. More than 500. Wait a minute. What are you talking about? He was seen by people who knew him personally and who believed that their life was over. They believed they were going to be arrested and killed because they had followed Jesus. So they didn't believe that he was going to come back to life. And there were a lot of disciples who they wondered, not his close disciples, but some of the 500 wondered, because it says some of them still doubted. So that's interesting. They're seeing something. They're seeing someone, and yet they still have doubts. I found the Bible to be amazing, but the most amazing thing was this, that the apostle Paul said, if there is no resurrection, if the dead are not raised, your faith is in vain. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, you have wasted your time. You've wasted your life. Paul, the apostle Paul actually handed me and others who would read the Bible carefully had handed me away to try to disprove the Bible. The Bible is true for lots of reasons. One of them is that Jesus rose. He was seen by more than 500 people. More than 100 people witnessed him ascend into heaven. They actually saw him lift off from the ground and disappear into the clouds. I mean, this was amazing. So the time mean, I believe the Lord led this timing. The evangelist said to me, terry is his name. He said, look, he said, mark, you've been coming here for months, asking questions, getting answers. We've answered every question you've given us, you've asked us. He said, and here's the important thing. This is very important to me as an atheist. Is there a reason why you should not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved? I paused, and he used the right word. This was not a leap into the dark. He said, is there a reason? Is there a reason? The answer was, I can't think of what you've answered every question. He unlocked the door. We went back into his office and he led me to Christ. And it was very simple. I asked God to forgive me. Paul wrote in romans ten. He said, if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. What a promise. [00:53:57] Speaker C: An amazing promise. [00:54:02] Speaker A: That was 52 years ago, and I have never regretted a second. Not a second. [00:54:13] Speaker D: If you're listening to this podcast and are interested in growing your relationship with Jesus alongside others who have a deep desire to do the same, I'd like to take a moment to tell you about the CS Lewis Institute Fellows program. The Fellows program is a year of intensive discipleship that leads to significant life change. Since 1999, the Fellows program has helped transform the lives of thousands of people and has been commended in the legacy of C. S. Lewis. The Fellows program holistically focuses on discipleship of heart, mind and life and includes directed Bible study, book reading and lecture from notable christian authors and speakers, alongside group discussion on what was read and heard. Changing monthly themes center around growth in spiritual formation and apologetics. Each fellow is also supported and encouraged throughout the study year with the help of a personal spiritual mentor who walks alongside all. In the context of a small group of like minded believers, this year long program is designed for those who want to live as fully committed disciples of Jesus Christ who make an impact in the world for him. Now located in 17 cities in the US and in Ireland, if you'd like to see if it's for you, or if it's in your city, or to find out more information, go to the [email protected] fellowshiprogram now back to our story. [00:56:01] Speaker C: So the Lord really honored your honest search. Oftentimes from atheists or skeptics will hear there's no evidence for God and they don't even look because they don't even believe that there is anything that could show the God of the universe exists or for your know that the Bible is credible or that Jesus rose from the dead. But yet for you, as an investigative journalist, as someone who wanted to be honest, you were willing actually to be a truth seeker, you were willing to see the evidence for what it was. And once you started looking, it seemed that there was this cumulative case. In a sense, yes, whether it was in the cosmos or on the earth, in archaeology or history or in the Bible. And you were looking for evidence, you were looking for truth, and you found what you were seeking because the Lord showed it to you and you were willing to receive. It was a beautiful thing. Obviously, he has completely transformed your perspective in your life. And your mom was right. You proved your mom right. [00:57:36] Speaker A: Yeah. She was the first person. [00:57:38] Speaker C: Yes. Oh, I bet, I bet, I bet this has been 52 years. You are extremely well versed now in all manner of evidence for those three questions and then some. How do you respond when someone says, there's no evidence for God or for Christianity? [00:58:02] Speaker A: I use a very simple system. I call it alps. It helps me remember it because it's the name of that mountain range in Europe. Ask, listen, pray, share. So the very first thing I do is I ask a question. I don't immediately start talking. I ask questions, and then I listen, and then I pray God give me the right answers, the right questions, the right attitude, the respect for this individual. This is a person worthy of respect. We don't agree. But then I wouldn't have agreed either 52 plus years ago. So I asked them a very simple question. I said, are you telling me that there is no evidence at all? And they usually say to me, what I mean is there's no provable evidence. Okay, now I understand what you're saying. So I try to help them understand that they're saying there's no evidence. It's not a logical thing to say. Of course there's evidence, and that evidence is worthy of being looked at. So I try to help an atheist get to the point where they will agree. Okay, I see what you're saying. [00:59:35] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:59:36] Speaker A: So then we start talking about, is there evidence that's worth looking at? And that's when I began to share with them some of my journey. They don't all agree with it. They don't all like it, but I'm trying to help them understand I went through a process. All I'm asking you to do is go through your process. Go through a process. Whether you use deductive, inductive, adductive reasoning, you pick it. I use all three. As a journalist, as an investigator, you use all types of reasoning, all types of logic. And so I said, you pick whatever system you want. But I said, just don't throw that out the door without looking at it carefully. I said, because I can tell you after 52 years of living as a Christian, as a child of God, that this is a life worth living that far surpasses, I mean, far surpasses the life I had as an atheist. And so I don't want you to miss that. And I think that comes from we love people because God loves people. [01:00:48] Speaker C: Yeah. I love your approach it's so authentic and sincere and it's so valuing the other. It reminds me of what you said earlier, that when someone leaves or is distant from God or doesn't seem to be seeking, you don't cut them off. You maintain relationship, and opportunity comes through. Relationship. So thinking of that skeptic who might be listening, mark, that maybe they are in a place where they're saying, well, maybe there is something there. The life that you lead is much better, more satisfying. Maybe there is evidence to be seen to investigate. How would you encourage someone to take that next step forward? [01:01:40] Speaker A: Well, one of the first things I want to find out is something about their background, like you asked me. Tell me something about yourself. I want to learn about who they are. One of the things that I have found through 50 plus years of talking with atheists is that usually there's a trigger. There's something that triggers people to change direction. The way I was brought to Christ, the way I've explained to you, is called classical apologetics. But that's not for everybody. Everybody is an individual. Everybody is a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God. And that's how I want to treat them. I don't want to treat everybody as, okay, you're atheist. This is how I approach atheist. Here come the Mormons. Here come the Hindus. This is what I everybody's a unique individual, and they deserve to be listened to with that idea that you are unique and you're special. And I want to help you if I can, all the time knowing that I don't save anybody. I have never saved a soul in my life, and I never will. I trust the Holy Spirit. I trust the word. I believe that the word of God will not return void. I believe that the spirit of God will convict people and convince them of the truth. Not everybody, but that he will do that. So that's why the p is there for prey. Because I'm not depending on my wittiness or my abilities to speak or communicate. If somebody's salvation is based on my abilities, we're in a world of hurt, we're in a lot of trouble because I'm going to mess up somewhere. I'm human. I trust the infallible God, the immutable God, the almighty God. That's who I trust. So I do my part, like the apostle Paul said. He said, I planted, apollos watered, but God gave the increase. And that's what I believe. [01:04:14] Speaker C: And it's true. It's good to believe something that is true, right? [01:04:20] Speaker A: Yes. [01:04:20] Speaker C: Right. You have given us so much. I wished we had more time. Because what the listeners may not know is that you've been involved in all kinds of apologetics, ministry, university campuses, all kinds of. You are a voice of experience and wisdom and knowledge all wrapped together. And I feel like we've just touched the surface. But I do appreciate your story. I appreciate the honesty of it, how you, as an investigative journalist, you had your own criteria. You had to be honest with yourself, and when you ran across information or a perspective that was different than yours, you were willing to take a closer look. And again, I think we do depend so much on the person of God, right? To change hearts, to create a willingness to actually look and to see. He's the one who makes eyes of the blind as sighted and ears that are not hearing to hear. So we pray for those who don't know Christ, because as you've so beautifully demonstrated to us, he changes everything, heart, mind and soul. And your passion for not only Christ, but for those who don't believe is very obvious. And I hope that those who are listening can get a sense of that because there is something so beautiful and so wonderful and so true, knowing God and being known by the God of the universe. Is there anything you think we might have missed that you want to add before we close here? [01:06:17] Speaker A: I will just tell you that Jesus is the dearest, sweetest, kindest person I've ever known and that he will never disappoint and he'll always be with you through anything. [01:06:35] Speaker C: Yes, I'm really thinking that someone needed to hear that and that they need to know that that was just for them. It's for all of us. Thank you so much, Mark, again, for your story, for your willingness, for your just powerful testimony. I just so appreciate it. [01:06:55] Speaker A: Thank you, Jenna. Thank you. [01:06:58] Speaker B: Thanks for tuning in to Cybersec to hear Mark McGee's story. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can contact me through our email at [email protected] also, if you are a skeptic or atheist who would like to connect with a former guest with questions, please contact us on our website or through our email and we'll get you connected. This podcast is produced through the CS Lewis Institute through the wonderful work of our producer Ashley Decker and audio engineer Mark Rosera. You can also see these podcasts and video form on our YouTube channel through the excellent work of our video editor, Kyle polk. If you enjoyed it, I hope 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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