Science network: Coles story

Cole 15 Nov 18

My fresher experience in hindsight was something of a stereotype: lots of drinking, going out, meeting new people and contemplating at 2am that leaving work until 2am is generally not a good life choice. Like many other students, I arrived at university keen to have a good time but at the same time my state of mind was one of very much trying to figure myself out.

I had grown up in a Christian household but as I entered my teenage years, I decided that Christianity was nothing but nonsense and wishful thinking. It was an odd experience then to find my new friendships included a significant number of Christians. My personality means that my understanding of friendship is someone with whom you can have a good argument – and so I found myself in many a heated discussion in the small hours of the morning with these guys. Whether it was questions about God, morality or the meaning of life, nothing was off the table and I really enjoyed the sparring.

 The sport of poking fun at my Christian friends generated a lot of heat but not a lot of movement on either side of the discussion. It was in February 2018 when they invited me along to an event that was part of the CU’s events week, run by their Science Network and I agreed to attend. Drs Andy Bannister (of Solas and RZIM) and David Booth (University of Dundee Evolutionary Biologist) took part in a dialogue around the question, “Can science explain everything?” At the time I didn’t think the event had any real impact and it didn’t change my mind about anything, but over the next few days questions that had been raised started to chip away at my belief that science was an all powerful tool that could explain everything. I couldn’t explain through science alone where morality came from or why humans feel such a desperate desire to find meaning and purpose. I held that atheism and therefore nihilism was true, but saw the inconsistency of my own strong conscience and need for meaning. Christians seemed to have better answers as to where to find meaning and purpose than nihilism, scientism or atheism.

I started asking more questions in a variety of settings: within a local church; with CU members and with our local UCCF Staff Worker. Growing up I was eternally frustrated with Christians who couldn’t justify their beliefs but now I had found not only an invaluable space to air my questions and feelings but also to find answers.

Eventually, I gradually realised that I was not capable of getting through life by and for myself and so surrendered my life to Christ in May of this year. This change has brought with it a few happenings I did not expect. I thought people would judge me or act differently around me but instead I find myself often presented with opportunities to talk about my faith with people who want to listen. Becoming a Christian has also not meant a lack of questions but on the contrary, I have become more curious about the big questions of life. I now however find myself unencumbered by what previously held me back - my prideful desire of wanting to come off as smart or wanting to prove others wrong.

Overall, my fear of what people think of me has been quelled and my desire to know truth has only strengthened. I hope that this story would be an encouragement to anyone in or involved with a science network to invite those friends that have questions or queries and start that dialogue as, although it is can be daunting or frustrating, you may just change their life.