The Mystery of God - Ken Boa's Story

The Mystery of God - Ken Boa's Story
Side B Stories
The Mystery of God - Ken Boa's Story

Jan 20 2023 | 00:47:26

Episode 59 January 20, 2023 00:47:26

Hosted By

Jana Harmon

Show Notes

Former skeptic Ken Boa put aside his childhood faith and became a secular humanist who tested his philosophy through psychedelic drugs. After an agonizing search for meaning, he came to believe in the reality of God.

Ken's Resources:


Resources recommended by Mark:

  • Escape from Reason, Francis Schaeffer
  • The God who is There, Francis Schaeffer
  • Works of C.S. Lewis

For more stories of atheists and skeptics converting to Christianity, visit


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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:01 It was an agonizing process bef until it all came together in a coherent hole. And it was the most satisfying. It was visceral, not just cognitive. And I was immersed in the beauty of, of, um, just the, the splendor of mystery. And the, it was, it was ethereal. It was, um, luminous. It was, it was, um, I was in this thin place between heaven and earth. Where, where, where there was a luminous encounter with the living God. Speaker 2 00:00:38 Hello. And thanks for joining in. I'm Janna Harmon, and you're listening to Sibe Stories where we see how skeptics slip the record of their lives. Each podcast we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or a skeptic, but who became a Christian against all odds. You can hear more of these stories at our Sibe stories [email protected] b We also welcome your comments on these stories, on our Cby stories Facebook page as well. Speaker 2 00:01:06 It's often the case that what someone believes or is taught as a child begins to fade as they encounter other ideas or other people that seem more sophisticated, more adult, more true. It becomes easy to leave childhood ideas behind, to be put on the shelf as remnants of an outgrown time. But what happens when someone begins to find holes in their new way of thinking, when it do too, doesn't seem to answer the big questions of life as well as they might think. What happens then? Returning to childhood belief seems off the table, yet living in the tension of intellectual dissonance and existential dissatisfaction is not an option either. Perhaps indifference or distraction is the answer, confronting the tension by avoiding it. In today's story, philosopher, theologian and former skeptic, Dr. Ken Boa, once rejected his childhood Christian beliefs for more adult seeming secular humanism and experimentation with Eastern mysticism and even occultism. He continued to be unsettled by the inability, though, to explain things like the ineffable quality of beauty or his deep need for meaning. But these conundrums were not enough for him to search for the God of his youth. What happened then to compel him to a profound belief in the God that he had left behind. I hope you'll join in to find out. Speaker 2 00:02:51 Hi Ken. Welcome to Side B Stories. It's so great to have you with me today. Thank you. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself? Speaker 1 00:02:58 Yeah. I often describe myself as a writer, speaker and teacher, and a, and a mentor in a, in a broader way, though, um, I'm an a bit of an odd duck, and so far as I, um, love to process things with people. If I use beauty and I use goodness and I use truth, um, and I seek to, uh, uh, winsomely draw people through narrative and through story. I want people to learn how to love well learn well and live well. Speaker 2 00:03:28 Hmm. Can you give me an idea as also for, for the listener to understand your academic background? Well, Speaker 1 00:03:36 I, um, went to, um, as an under undergraduate, I went to Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio. So, and I'm a bit, another thing about me, I'm a, I'm a philosopher of science. I was drawn to astronomy in math and physics and so forth. Um, but then I, uh, I went off to, started at, uh, graduate, uh, school at, at, uh, Berkeley in California. But then, um, the oddest, craziest thing, many things happened that led me instead to go to Dallas Theological Seminary. Um, this is a long time ago. Um, and I got a master of theology there and then working with different organizations, but I eventually, I started teaching at the Kings College in Briarcliffe Manor, New York beat when it was used to be up there. And, um, I worked at New, uh, I was going to NYU to work on the philosophy of religion. So I completed my PhD, uh, from that. And then some years later, about 10 years after that, I wanted to go to England and just take a sabbatical. So, um, what ended up as a sabbatical turned out to be actually a, um, going to Oreo College at Oxford. And, and ultimately I got my d fill in in philosophy and, and, uh, theology. Speaker 2 00:04:47 Okay. So can you obviously have studied at the highest levels at Oxford, areas of philosophy and theology, but you didn't start there. I'd like to go back to the beginning of your story and seeing how those atheistic views developed. Yeah, why don't you, why don't you start us back into your childhood, your, your family of origin. Yeah. Give us a sense of the home in which you were raised, whether or not God or religion was part of your family life, a part of your culture life. Why don't you start us there? Speaker 1 00:05:23 Yeah. Um, I, as I've looked back, I've, I re recently realized, I didn't know this until, uh, recent, uh, inquiries that I was actually baptized, um, in the Episcopal Church when I was four years old. Uh, my father was a bus driver and in New Jersey, and, um, he was a very, very witty and clever man, and people loved him. And, uh, he apparently had one of his pa, one of his passengers, um, he must have gotten close to him and had an impact on him. And so my father started going to that Episcopal church. And so my godfather was this man, and so this other fellow, but when he died of a brain tumor, not long after that, my father lost his best friend. And his, his whole, whole role then with regard to God was one of bitterness. How could a God allow that to happen? Speaker 1 00:06:14 And so that was his narrative. The, the net effect was that, um, I still remember vaguely, um, going to that Episcopal church. I was about four or five, uh, but then I remember what it looked like. It was a strange experience. And then I also remember my parents sending my older sister, uh, and me to church. It was a Baptist church that we had to walk by ourselves. This is in the, or, you know, in the fifties. And so this is what these things were done then. But we walked by ourselves of almost two miles to this Baptist church, and we had to go to a Sunday school class, and then we'd come back together. But my parents never went to church at all, uh, at that time. But it was a strange thing hearing, uh, those, I still remember the lessons, the flannel board of teachings. I still remember the, the songs we sang. So it obviously had a big mark on me in some ways. And then also my grandmother, um, had a huge impact, and she was definitely a strong believer. So there were, there were those influences there. And my uncle, uh, one of my uncles as well. So there was there, but it was not something that was fed in my church, in my home. Speaker 2 00:07:22 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So as a child, you had some, would you say you had some kind of childhood belief in God, that God was revealed, that God was there? Speaker 1 00:07:32 Yeah, I did. Um, and, um, we, we talked about these things, but, uh, my sister and I were in the world of fantasy and imagination a lot. And, um, we got this set of book trails that was an eight volume collection of stories. And I used to read 'em out loud to her. And, uh, it was a magical thing. So we were very much in the mind of the imagination, but in that, in that understanding, we were believers in that God existed and so forth. That's an interesting thought, though. I didn't carry it to its logical conclusion, though. I remember having some experiment with prayer when I was about seven. I think when I asked God to send me a million dollars. And I really, and believed, I had heard that if you believe with, if you have enough faith to believe it, you can so imagine my disappointment the next morning. Speaker 1 00:08:18 So that kind of changed my <laugh> when the obvious would've occurred. But, um, I, I, I, I knew I believed in God, although I had strange dreams. I still remember at the age of six having a dream about infinity. The number one got more oppressively, large and larger and larger until I woke up in terror. So this idea of the ineffable, of the mysterious, this has been a motif in my journey from that, from that inception, I can remember I was drawn and terrified, both in that dream and also in this, uh, my experience with the, with the mysteries of nature. It seems to be a motif in my life. Yeah. But I, so I believe in God in that sense. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Speaker 2 00:09:01 But your father, in some sense, had, had rejected, and both of your parents, neither one of them went to church. And so you and your sister walked to church and, and you were developing <laugh>, uh, a child, well, a childhood, but also an appreciation for the grandeur and mystery of, of the transcendent. And so how long did that continue until you started becoming skeptical of, of what you were seeing or believing? Speaker 1 00:09:27 Yeah. Well, what happened, we went from Mont, New Jersey, and later on we went, uh, as a period, we went to, to the Louisiana. My mother's from there. So I lived in two worlds, the, the, um, Monroe, Louisiana, which was actually going back like 30 years in the past. And, and we would go to a church there, my grandmother would, we would take us to a, a church and so forth. But, um, it would, when we came back to New Jersey, we start, my parents again, sent my sister and I to church. So we went to this Emerson Union Church, but later, a new pastor came, it was Emerson Bible Church, and the pastor was a graduate from Dallas Theological Seminary. I was fascinated by him, and he had a good mind. And, um, and I got, uh, what happened was I had two sets of friends. Speaker 1 00:10:18 By the time I went to high school, I went to Hackensack High Big School. And my friends there were not believers. My deep, my closest friends, but my friends at, at, uh, at, uh, Emerson Bible Church were, and I was involved in even Christian Service Brigade, which was this, uh, uh, Christian version of scouting, boy scouting. And my friends would, uh, they'd have stories. They'd always have a story in games and so forth. And sometime then they were going into this back room, and they'd come out and say they received Jesus. And so I was the last one left, and I figured I'd better do it too. So I went in there to, and I heard a guy say a prayer. I listened to the prayer and said, yes, but it was his prayer. It was not really my own invitation, but more an intellectual reception rather than a personal embrace. Hmm. And that was a real problem for me, because I thought I had the real thing, but it wasn't real. And that pr and real profound inter tension that produced, Speaker 2 00:11:22 It wasn't real because obviously it was another person's prayer. You accepted it intellectually, but not personally. That's correct. So for those who don't really understand the difference there, um, they might think just, you're a Christian just because you believe certain tenants. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:11:40 It's a matter of not believing about, but trusting in mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's, uh, this whole idea of a transfer of trust, a choice, a will is not, rather than just an intellectual acknowledgement of a thing, became a very, very different, uh, thing. Indeed. It's more a matter of a choice that you're making, not just an intellectual acknowledgement. There's a big difference. Speaker 2 00:11:59 Right. And so you never made that personal faith, um, decision, trust in what that Yes. Which you believed. Speaker 1 00:12:10 Although I wrote in a Bible the next year, I received, uh, when I was I think 14, uh, I received Jesus as my personal savior. See you. So I, I knew the words, but I didn't have the reality and that, but I could not, in my heart of hearts, acknowledge that, because then I'd say, man, it's none of this is true. Then. So it was in the interior tension, terrified me. Mm. And sometimes his sermons would terrify me because I would then, I'd have to work up with some experience, emotional experience, just to believe I was still there. Um, it was a strange experience for me to be in that. So I was two different people. Speaker 2 00:12:49 So with your, your more secularized friends, you were thinking more, maybe scientifically more, uh, in a, in a way that, uh, towards the natural world as ultimate reality? Speaker 1 00:13:03 Well, in part, yeah. They were more into, into, into music and also into, uh, history. They were secularized, you see, they were, they love great music and art and so forth. And it was a different kind of music, a different kind of an art, a different kind of an ethos than I saw at, at Emerson Bible Church, which was very thin. And so, I, I I, I was drawn more to the, the life of, of, of the mind and of, of the aesthetic dimension of beauty again. But, um, the, so I had, I became two different kinds of people. I was terrified though, that two of 'em would ever meet each other. I wouldn't know how to respond. I'd be two different people. Speaker 2 00:13:39 So there was this dichotomy for a while, a cognitive dissidence, uh, indeed, uh, for a while. And so did one end up kind of winning over the other in terms of, well, Speaker 1 00:13:51 Here's what happened. Yeah. One, you can't, you can't live that way. Right. And I, when I, so I, in, in, um, it was in the, um, fall. I'm an old guy. It was in, it was in the fall of 63. Then when I, um, that I went to Case Institute of Technology, and I remember being in the dorm, and I would still read my Bible as a kind of a perfunctory thing before I'd go to sleep. And I decided I was gonna go to a church. It was an embarrassing experience for me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was some kind of fundamentalist kind of experience. And I was burned by that. And so I, then, I formally took my Bible, and I remember this moment. It was an amazing thing that I took it and put it in the shelf. I can see myself doing, it's an iconic moment. You know, the sometimes time is frozen on, on a particular EAM image, and you visually, you take a photo, I put it on the shelf. And it was symbolic of the fact that I won't deal with this anymore. I'm, I'm going to move on, and I'm not going to, I'm gonna bracket God's existence or non-existence, neither accepting nor rejecting, because I didn't want to deal with that internal tension. That was too great. So I just decided, so it was more of a scientific humanist, was, was my modality. Speaker 2 00:15:07 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 B stories on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and stay updated on our new episode releases, resources and side B 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 athe 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. Okay. Okay. So you, you put God on the shelf, literally, and spiritually and figuratively, <laugh> in all of this. Speaker 1 00:15:58 All respects. Yeah. Yes. And that's why I say I bracketed God. Yes. Right. Which, I mean, I didn't want to deal with the questions of who am I? Why am I here? Where'd I come from? Where am I going? The fundamental issues of life, right. Because I knew in my heart of hearts, I didn't have answers. And I still remember, and I was at Pi Kappa Alpha in the fraternity, and my weekend, um, blew apart when I was 19 second sophomore. Uh, it, all my plans went apart, and I was the only one in the house. And for the first time, all these issues of questions about life imposed themselves. And it was a terrifying thing. I still remember that awful experience. I don't know who I am. I don't know why I'm here. I don't why know where I came from and where I, where I'm going. I, I, and so I said, I'm never gonna do that again. So, like, as Pascal predicted, indifference in distraction became my modality after that. And I never, I made sure I would never let that happen. I didn't want to think about it. Speaker 2 00:16:54 Yes. Now, you had mentioned that you were drawn to the life of the mind, and that evidently wasn't in the, the world of Christianity that you had experienced. So I'm imagining that there weren't any more intellectual Christians in your world to whom you could go and discuss God or Christianity, or these larger questions with a Christian for whom you respected or could find, um, I guess, intellectual fodder at the level at which you were processing ideas. Yeah. Is that Speaker 1 00:17:31 Right? Yeah, I'd say that would be true. The life of the mind. I found it to be somewhat anemic in, in those contexts of the church experiences I had, though there were men, and I will say this, godly men and women, especially these men who took me under their wing and became like mentors to me. I still remember them, and they were part of my journey. So it's a very real sense that I, I, uh, cuz my, my SC scouting and also in, in my Sunday school classes, these were men that I did admire. They had a quality of in them, but they were ordinary men. They were not extraordinary in their way of thinking or apprehension. Uh, but I was, but I, so it didn't satisfy the level of understanding or beauty cuz I was drawn to beauty and to, to beautiful things. I, I became a lover of great, uh, beautiful books, for example, and aesthetic things of that nature. So that's where I found my two best friends were both people who love beauty and, and, but, and, and weren't, weren't as concerned about truth. They were more concerned about good beauty and goodness in a certain way. It's an interesting thing. Hmm. But there was a sort of mystery that was there. Speaker 2 00:18:38 Yeah. Right. And so as you were moving into this more aesthetic ethereal world, uh, yeah, that was secularized, I'm curious because they weren't as concerned about truth, but there has to also be a grounding of goodness and beauty. Was that anything that caused any kind of cognitive tension in terms of the grounding? Or when you're looking at something like you were looking at the sky earlier and you feel this, um, you know, this, this the power of what you're seeing, um, that it has to come from somewhere or be grounded in something? Or was it just It just was, Speaker 1 00:19:21 That is why I didn't want to think about it. Okay. Because I knew it was pointing beyond me, beyond to something that it was ineffable. And I was terrified of ineffability because I didn't want to think about those categories because they were, they were, they reminded me of the internal turmoil underneath where I knew I was, I was imposter. I was pretending to be what I was not, but I couldn't admit it to myself. So that was a very real dilemma for me. <laugh>. Speaker 2 00:19:51 But but you said in in pascalian terms, you, you became distracted, right? With Yeah. With things or, or you Speaker 1 00:19:58 In difference and Speaker 2 00:19:59 Distraction in different and distracted. Yes. Speaker 1 00:20:02 And so the my way then would be to find, make sure I didn't think hard about those questions anymore. But the point is, I am, I can't, I cannot help but think about meaning I'm haunted by it. So, uh, that's what's going on. And so, um, I think it's, it is the, the, the hound of heaven and, and God who stoops to conquer. And in my case, he stoops to conquer. And so he used of all things then the, uh, psychotropic drugs to become, made me to become aware of a realm that I had been trying to occlude so successfully for a good period of time. And it was, it was in my junior year at Case Institute of Technology that I began to get involved with, uh, hash hashish and with, uh, grass and, and then later with L S D. And so, um, that opened up an entirely different world. That was a whole, whole new Speaker 2 00:20:59 Realm. And so that, that pursuit, was that, uh, through psychedelics, was that pursuit of meeting beyond the eminent world? Or was it just distraction Speaker 1 00:21:10 <laugh>? It was, no, it was not that. It was, it was the pursuit of a kind of new kind of con another Speaker 2 00:21:16 Level of consciousness. Speaker 1 00:21:17 Yeah. As well as the synesthesia. And I have to say, it was a pleasurable experience, the synesthesia where, um, you hear so, uh, you hear color and, and, and you see sound and their senses are moved together and everything comes together. There are reasons why that occurs. But in those, those conditions, um, I found it to be very compelling, very drawing. Um, and so it forced me in. And so we were doing experiments with, with time, even my, I and I experienced, um, a very different experience with, with even time it dilated, we would actually be able to go into a dark room and take, take a, a cigarette and, and, and, and, and write a word, a short word, and it would linger. You could see the, see the thing. So very intriguing experiences indeed. So we were doing experiments with that and with, uh, different aspects of consciousness being, being, um, after all we were scientists. So we, uh, tried to, uh, control the, the variables and so forth. And we believed in Timothy Leary's idea. So it was experimentation, and that's what it was in, in, in consciousness. Speaker 2 00:22:34 So, you know, sometimes in those experimentations or in psychedelics or people will get a sense of the other, you know, like more than the natural world, that there is definitely something more than Yeah. Just what, you know, our sense is, um, yeah. That there's, there's something more. Yeah. I mean, did it make you question again? Um, the, the possibility of God, if, if, you know, based upon your experiences, Speaker 1 00:23:02 Not so much that it, it made me aware of the mysteries that surrounded me, but I still didn't connect them to transcendence. Hmm. But here's what happened. On one particular occasion, for the very first time, I went away from other people on a, on a trip, it was a duplex, but the second floor. And I remember going away from the other guys, and I'm working it, it was a journey. Took me a world to get up to the top of those steps as my hand is going into the wall, and yet it's knot and so forth. And I finally see myself in the mirror. And, and it was an incredible flash of, of, of complex geometries and so forth. But then I found myself, for some reason, meandering to the end of the hall, which I never would do. I went to my friend Ray Musselman's bedroom, and I found myself on, in, laying on his bed, and suddenly it happened. Ah, I was aware of the, of the presence of the holy, and I was terrified and absolutely drawn to him. It was both the mysterium, it happened again, but more now, fully. It was so intense. I don't know how long it must have been. It must have been about maybe 15 minutes it lasted, because it was long enough for Ray to come upstairs after a while and wonder where I was. Right. But I, I, I was imp pinned on that bed in the ineffable terror and longing. Speaker 1 00:24:33 And I realized that there was a separation from that, which, but I still, but I wanted it more than anything else, this, this, this beam. And so my friend, my friend Ray comes to the, and says, where you been? I'm talking with God, man, <laugh>. That's, that was my answer. <laugh>. And so that, and every time, subsequent, every time I dropped ASIN after that, whether I was with people or not, the most important part was to deal to, to, to deal with, um, the, the, the ineffable, the mysterious, the, the mysterious tremendum. Speaker 2 00:25:10 Now, I'm, I'm just thinking of the, the listeners here, that they would say, well, you just were hallucinating. You were on acid. How, I mean, Speaker 1 00:25:20 So would seem Speaker 2 00:25:21 Mm-hmm. <affirmative> one, one would <laugh> one would imagine. Yeah. How can you differentiate between that, which was a hallucination? That was the real Speaker 1 00:25:31 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. What happened is, um, I had to go back to Cleveland to, to, to do one thing. It was right after graduation, uh, or right. So I went back to Cleveland and saw my friends, and there were about eight, eight of us who dropped acid together in that same place. And one of 'em I didn't like, I was just gonna avoid him. Of what, of course, you can guess what happened. As we get further and further, I get drawn to him and I realized why I didn't like him, because he was a mirror image of myself. Because at the age of 13, he too had gone into, um, had had the same experience. We had a profession of faith in Jesus, but it wasn't, he realized it wasn't real. And I, when I forced me after eight years, had to have to admit that I didn't either. Speaker 1 00:26:21 So for the first time, we both became aware by, through each other why we didn't like each other, because we were remem reminiscent of the same process and the same problem. We both found ourselves suddenly on the road, less traveled. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we were heading toward the road. We were on a road, and we could see that road. Now, we were, we couldn't put on the brakes. We couldn't stop. A forced choice was made. We both took the road less traveled at the same moment in time. And we were then instantly as straight as we are now in this room, all, all the hallucinations were gone. And it was replaced by the power of the scri, the spirit who brought to mind the scriptures we'd learned as kids, cuz we'd learned the same texts of scripture. I'd share a verse, and he'd now, as a new believer, having found Christ would understand its meaning for the first time, and he was blown away, then he'd share one with me. Speaker 1 00:27:11 And, and it was back and forth, back and forth until the joy became so intense. We literally couldn't stand it. We had to back off. And when we backed off, the trip came back, and then we get back into the scriptures, and then it would be all focused on that again, all night long. And the first, and I went to church for the first time the next morning. That was a Saturday night, and I was, I remember going there late for the service. It turned out, I don't even know how I got there. I was in the balcony, and I just remembered the end of the, the sermon started and it was on the prodigal sun. So it was a lovely, uh, theme, uh, for me. And, but the, that night on that experience, I knew I was going to go to Dallas Seminary, not because of an inference, but because of a, an assurance. Speaker 1 00:28:01 This book is God's blueprint for living. That's what, that was the metaphor. This is his blueprint. I gotta learn what it says not to be prepared for ministry, just to get my head screwed, screwed on. Right. So I made a, i I came back and I, I made an application, though I had applied to Berkeley and Columbia and had been mi admitted both places. I also put in my application to Dallas Seminary. It was a profound experience that, uh, and then I, and we with a witness who had the same experience as well. And I've talked with him recently about that. Right. I've never heard anything like Speaker 2 00:28:35 It. No. So it's, it's, it's almost as if you had had some kind of intellectual ascent younger, earlier in your life, but there was no, there was no palpable reality of God, whether it be personal or otherwise. And then later, uh, you have this extraordinary experience of God, the pa, where you could not deny the palpable reality of God. I couldn't. So, so it was where truth and reality came together for you. And I presume all of the dissonance you had felt prior, somehow coalesced into a wholeness Yes. Of, of, uh, all of those big questions of life that you were talking about, identity and Yes. Meaning, and all of those things were, they, were, they met with some kind of a, almost a sudden satisfaction through the person of God. You knew who you were, you knew where you were going. You, you c you completely immediately changed your path. Yes. Um, Speaker 1 00:29:39 I was a new creation, but it launched a journey, an agonizing journey of work, conscious worldview transition that lasted about a year. I'm, I'm sorry to say this, but I'm not recommending this. Right. You need to understand this. Uh, it is not a recommendation. It is just a reala realization. That's why I almost never tell this story, because people get the wrong idea. I'm saying, God stooped to conquer. And that is an important word for people to hear. This is what I'm reporting. What happened, right. It was radical. So it was a year I was there, and it was in the fall of the, of that year. The next year was, I'd been there a year. It all came together. I had, I had an epiphany experience that was not just in the mind, but in shivered, my, my being, my, my body, my, my mind, everything, everything. Speaker 1 00:30:37 In this epiphany of sudden recognition, after about a year, um, of being there, it all came together. Suddenly I had a worldview that was coherent, consistent, clear and comprehension, comprehension, it all fit together. I had been reading Schaffer's, uh, his book for his first book came out, escape from Reason in 68. And I, and I found out about this guy. I'd never heard about CS Lewis. So I was reading Lewis and, and, and Schaffer and so forth. And then the, the, the, the, you know, the guy who was there and so forth. But it was that it took that long. It was an agonizing process bef until it all came together in a coherent hole. And it was the most satisfying, it was visceral, not just cognitive. And I was immersed in the beauty of, of, um, guess the, the splendor of mystery. And the, it was, it was ethereal. It was, um, luminous. It was, it was, um, I was in this thin place between heaven and earth, where, where, where there was a ous encounter with the living God. So it was grace to have those that, that, and, and I've been grace to have other experiences of this nature that have been very powerful for me. Speaker 2 00:32:00 I'd like to pause for a moment and ask you a favor. If you're enjoying the Sy Stories podcast or finding these stories helpful, would you please follow the podcast and leave us a review or rating? Wherever you download these episodes, your feedback helps other people find these stories. And we genuinely appreciate your support. We know that these stories are making a difference around the world. We recently received an email from a listener in Scotland named Josephine, who calls herself a reluctant convert. Here's a bit of what she wrote. Hello, my name is Josephine and I'm a mother of two young children. My reason for writing to you is to let you know how much I've enjoyed the SY Stories podcast. That's putting it mildly. I've absolutely loved it. I've listened to every single one of your episodes since I discovered it last summer. While cooking in the car at night, before going to sleep, or in the morning, every single one of the stories and testimonies had spoken to me one way or another. Speaker 2 00:32:59 And I cannot even begin to express how much I appreciate the openness, authenticity, and outright amazing testimony of these wonderful people you've brought together. Unbeknownst to them, they have been instrumental in strengthening my own faith and hope. I cannot help but feel that this has been the lord's doing in his infinite grace, so that I too may be saved. I myself have had ups and downs over the years, but God was reaching out to me all of the time, every step of the way, holding on to me despite my feelings. The podcast has also stimulated me greatly intellectually. And I've gone on to read all the blogs websites, and even some of the books you've listed in the episode notes. And this is an ongoing process. I'm absolutely enthralled by the wisdom genius. And at the same time, the warmth and truly God's glory that shines through these beautiful episodes. Speaker 2 00:33:57 I'm thankful that I have found them. I have also learned that these experiences are real. That the Christian faith does stand up to intellectual scrutiny. That science and faith are not enemies, that the biblical worldview aligns with what we can know about reality, and that there must be a correlation between the two. And also that there is always hope in our brokenness, that there is always the outstretched hand leading us to redemption. And that this is modeled in true Christian fellowship. I could go on, but I feel that I would only repeat myself. She thanks us for how, again, that this podcast has blessed her. And I, I hope that this podcast has been in some way a blessing to you. We are deeply encouraged by emails like this that help us know that these stories are making a difference. So again, please follow rate, review and share this podcast so people can find sy stories more easily. And let us know what you think. Email us at info sy b Thanks so much. Now, back to our story. Speaker 2 00:35:16 So when, when everything coalesced for you in terms of the, the Christian or the God-centered worldview and everything made sense and it was comprehensive and cohesive, and yeah, it corresponded with reality. You were all these other things, the, the mysticism in terms of eastern mysticism, your occultism, your use of psychedelics, those I would presume as your Christian worldview got stronger, those things you were able to see that those were not based in truth or, or were you were willing to give those up as your, as your understanding of the true reality solidified, um, that those kind of went away as not part of the true truth. Sounds like you're, you, you, God was taken off the shelf <laugh> for you in a very, very powerful way and has informed all that you've done since both you and your wife Yeah. And your life. Speaker 1 00:36:19 Yes. So that's why I love the life of the mind and the heart. And so, so it's the in, I love the interior of the beauty and the goodness and the truth, and I love the heart, the head and the hands. So being, knowing and doing, loving well, learning well, living well. And so it all, all truths connects together. So as a synthesizer, I see them all together and I love to connect things with things in disparate ways. And, uh, just so, because when, when I, whether it's it's music or literature or, or, or film or poetry or architecture or whatever it is, beauty always points to the ineffable, uh, one who made it all. So everything connects, everything relates in that way. It's a, it's a lovely way of being. Speaker 2 00:37:06 Mm. Yes. And I, I would imagine too, as, as compared to the lack of finding those in the community of Christianity who did not have a fostered, uh, life of the mind. It, it seems as if you've been a leader in that field now and have probably found strong community, uh, with those who call themselves Christians, but have a very strong life of the mind. Speaker 1 00:37:33 Yeah. The love of the mind, but the love of the heart too. So that the, uh, intent, the the love of the heart, the love of beauty, so love of natural beauty and, uh, aesthetic beauty and, um, and all these other components. Now, all that I'd ever learned about music and art and lit all converged in this one. And so I see myself then as one where all these fields kind of point in, in, in, in integrated ways. And I love to connect disparate things and put 'em together. So I say that the heart cannot rejoice with the mind rejects. Speaker 2 00:38:09 Now, there are, I would imagine some curious skeptics listening today who really respect who you are in terms of your ability to see and to experience things in very deep and grand ways. And, and, uh, and I wonder if they're, they're curious, you know, that you have o obviously found a worldview that makes sense of who you are and what you see and what you, what you experience in reality in the world. Um, and you, and it makes sense for you. What, how could you, um, advise or encourage someone who is curious and skep, but yet skeptical as you once were, to continue to seek, to find as you did? Speaker 1 00:38:54 Yeah. Yeah. Because I think that is the issue you just said. Um, those who seek will find those who ask, it'll be given to them. Those who knock, it'll be open to them. There, there are two kinds of people in the world, those who seek to know, know God and thoses to seek to avoid 'em. And both will succeed in the end. So this, this whole idea then is what do I seek and do I seek? Uh, is, is my aspiration big enough? Because I've claim that we are, we're that no earthbound Felicity can sustain the awful, awful freight of human aspiration because we were buried of the Imago day. And therefore, uh, to avoid God is to actually deny ourselves. And so to pursue him is actually to discover ourselves by losing ourselves and finding him. And frankly, everyone admits that personhoods better than the impersonal in their practice. Everybody admits that they just don't want it to be true of the universe. And the reason for that is because personhood is daunting. The creator of beauty displays the ugly, the source of goodness reveals evil. And the author of truth exposes error Speaker 2 00:39:57 For those who are seeking it. It, as you kind of experienced or spoke of there, you used the word terrifying a few times that there, it, it does seem a little bit frightening, a little bit terrifying to pursue. Amen. Yeah. The one who you know is all and is in all and above all and through all and overall, but, but it's worth it, you know? Um, Speaker 1 00:40:21 Well, it is worth it. Speaker 2 00:40:23 And for the Christians who are listening who want to help lead or, um, foster, uh, skeptics towards looking and seeking towards God, um, how would you best advise Christians to, to engage with those who are skeptical? Speaker 1 00:40:42 I think, uh, asking this fundamental questions, and there's three of Jesus questions. It's, it's the, these three questions, um, uh, if you don't mind, I'll show them to you. Uh, what do you seek? Who do you say I am and you love me more than these? So what do you seek is for me, the most fundamental question that determines what you find? What are you looking for, you see? And is anything, is it, is it big enough to sustain you? So, and I, and I think an, uh, a prayer, even the desire to be pleasing to him is pleasing to him. And so I think an offering would be to say, Lord, I'm, I would, I'm, I don't know if I believe in you, but I would be, I want to discover if you are who you claim to be and, and, and just, uh, give me the grace of, of knowing you. If, if as I pursue this, so as you study scripture or, um, expose yourself to something that you're just inviting the, the grace of, of holy desire. Speaker 2 00:41:44 Yeah. Yeah. Who do you say that I am and Yeah. Yes. Speaker 1 00:41:51 Yeah. And who, yeah. So you've gotta, everyone, here's the thing about this. This isn't an optional thing. Everybody. If Jesus is right, and this is the pascalian wager of course, that, uh, the one who, who doesn't believe in God gets nothing of of gain after, but the one who does, gets everything, the other one. But if he's right, Jesus is going to be the judge as well as the lover of our soul. So he comes in his first advent in humility, but ultimately we will all have to give an answer to who do you say that I am? And every, every tongue will acknowledge would be my mighty smart, to be willing to acknowledge him in now and bow the na, the knee now, because ultimately we will <laugh>. So it'd be, it's, it's, you know, it's, it's the, it's the grace of the, uh, you can't be on a road without making a decision. Speaker 1 00:42:46 And so you need to make an informed, and this is my word, I appeal to people's pride. And I mean by that, that you owe it to yourself. If this person has shaped the world in so many profound ways as he has ancient, medieval and modern, you owe it to yourself to at least hear what he had to say of himself before you decide to believe or, or accept or reject. But you will either accept or reject you. You don't have another, you don't have an option. You have a you, you will. So wouldn't it be wise for you to choose whether to have an informed opinion as to whether accept him or reject him? That's why we created this little thing Jesus, in his own words, which is, that's exactly what it does, is it gives him, uh, the way of actually having to, uh, underst, uh, understand that just invites us to see what he, what he had to say. Yeah. Um, it's very simple. Speaker 2 00:43:41 Yeah. Yeah. What, yes, what, what you're saying too, just reminds me a little bit of, uh, in, in your story where you were talking about that there, there has to be a choice at some point in the road. And, um, right. Speaker 1 00:43:56 That's right. It was the two roads diverge in one 10, and I will not, I can say it now. That's been 50. How long has that been? 55 years. Is it, I mean, it's scary to think, you know, because, um, how brief the earthbound sojourn is. But if we're not, if we should always be amazed at the brevity we're in our last days, never presume a year. So wouldn't we be wise then to see there was defining moments in the journey of our lives. But if you can't avoid a choice of of Jesus permanently, you can only say no so many times. And this I got, I don't, I don't know, for example, when we were in that experience and we, we didn't, what if we hadn't chosen the road less travel? Would that have been our last opportunity? I don't know that. But there is a last, there's a, there's one step too far, and a person can make say no only, and then garden will, then their heart will be hardened. So there's a, there's an, there's, this is not just a game we're playing. This is a reality that you have to engage in. And if you could, at least if you make an informed decision about whether Jesus is who we claim to be or not, or not, but you will have to accept him or reject him. Hmm. Speaker 2 00:45:09 And your story, Ken, has given us so much to think about today. Uh, so many big issues of in inevitability and ineffability and beauty and goodness and truth, and just experience in the reality of God and so many things and what we are seeking, who we are seeking, and who are we. And the big questions are just, your story is so rich and so full, and it's, it's made us, I think everyone who will be listening to your story will be asking themselves the same questions that you were asking yourself. And I appreciate you bringing these, these big and grandiose yet very, very personal issues to bear to all of us. Um, so I really appreciate your story, Ken. I, I know that it's, it's going to touch some lives out there that of those who are God willing seeking and that they will find. So thank you so much for coming on with me today. Speaker 1 00:46:12 Thank you. That's Speaker 2 00:46:14 Good. Wonderful. Speaker 1 00:46:16 A pleasure to be with you. Appreciate it. Speaker 2 00:46:20 Thanks for tuning into Sibe stories To hear Dr. Ken BOA's story. You can find out more about Ken, his podcast, the prolific number of books he's written, as well as his ministry reflections at his website,, which I'll also include in the episode notes For questions and feedback about this episode, you can leave a message on the Facebook page as well as contacting me through our [email protected] Also, if you are a skeptic or atheist who would like to connect with a former atheist with questions, please contact us on our sy iby stories website and we'll get you connected. I hope you enjoyed this episode and 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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