If you are interested in some background knowledge about us and how this site came to be, keep reading.

At scientific conferences, most speakers begin with both (a) definitions, so that the audience can get on the same page with what we are talking about, and (b) a disclaimer or affiliation statement, meaning we say what companies we are working with, or who we have received money from, so the audience can be aware of possible conflicts of interest or biases that may affect the presentation (wouldn’t it be nice if politicians followed this same practice). It is also helpful to provide (c) motivation for this work, (d) goals for the research or presentation, (e) what benefits this study will bring to you, and (f) where can we go from here.

Since we are used to beginning presentations this way, we will carry on the practice here. Currently, (a) the main definitions we need a clear understanding about are “faith,” “belief,” “truth,” “worldview beliefs,” and “tolerance.” Below are the definitions we use, and the reasoning for using these definitions, as opposed to some alternatives, are provided in the Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Faith – Belief, trust, or confidence in someone or something based on specific reasons.
  • Beliefs – The way we understand things to be, or how we think things are.
  • Reality – The way things actually are.
  • Truth – Telling it like it is; the reality of the situation. If, and only if, the beliefs fit reality, then the beliefs are true.
  • Worldview Beliefs – An organized system of beliefs about the big questions in life; examples include: Atheism, Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, etc.
  • Tolerance – The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of, or subjection to, opinions or beliefs that one does not agree with, without showing inhospitable reactions (negative treatment) toward the person because of their contrary beliefs.

Stating clearly what we mean when using those words is important because people differ in what they think of, when these words come up.

For example, many people mistakenly confuse “faith” with believing in something without any reasons or evidence. Now if someone does have such a fault-ridden faith, then that would be a version of belief known as “blind faith,” even worse, some people believe things despite better evidence against their belief, which would be a “delusional faith.”

But all of us live our life, and make most of our decisions using “faith” based upon specific reasons. For example, I remember driving over a bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, in the middle of the day, as I was preparing to leave a physics conference. I remember that particular bridge because shortly after driving over it I heard that the bridge collapsed (see video).

Neither then, nor anytime after do I think twice about crossing a bridge. The evidence supporting the safety of bridges in the U.S. is strong, but I can’t know for certain until I cross the bridge, so I choose to drive over by “faith.” Yet, in spite of a close miss, it is still a reasonable faith as the evidence is on my side, and I would pay consequences if I held to the unreasonable belief that all bridges aren’t to be trusted and must always be avoided.

We all make choices like this, by faith, every day in both insignificant and very significant choices: should I become more serious in my relationship with this person, is this health problem serious and how should I get it treated, or what do I believe is my purpose in life, all of these require “faith,” and the faith supported by the best reasons is a reasonable faith or belief. Such a belief will not only be most likely to be supported by reality, and be “true,” but also is the kind of faith or belief that science, the Bible, and this website encourage.

As with other important and impactful decisions in life, we can rationally and effectively approach what worldview belief fits reality and reach accurate and clearly supported conclusions, and this site attempts to provide user-friendly resources.

(b) Disclaimer, Affiliation Statement

Thoughtful Beliefs is a non-profit, Christian ministry that provides engaging and interactive seminars at college campuses, churches, public and private schools, and skeptics’ nights in diverse locations. Currently, the Thoughtful Beliefs staff are all employed full-time elsewhere, and do not request payment for services. When churches or conferences provide honorariums, the money goes into costs for running the ministry, and the costs always far exceed the honorariums.

As far as affiliation, we at Thoughtful Beliefs are standing on the Christian worldview. We believe in basic Christianity (or Mere Christianity, as C.S. Lewis’ explains well in his book by that title), which provides answers to the five “big questions” we all must answer in life, and base our overall choices, goals and direction in life upon. To see what these answers are for Christianity, and for other belief systems for comparison, see the You Made Your Bet section.

Like you, and everyone else, we come to the questions surrounding the accuracy of worldview beliefs with a bias. Obviously, having a bias doesn’t make our beliefs true or false, correspondence to reality makes a belief true or false, and reality also points to the accuracy of beliefs with evidence in every field of study.

We encourage everyone to not simply accept anything that we, or a teacher, or an expert, or a preacher, or our culture, or your personal wants, or anyone tells you, but instead take in information and think on it yourself. You don’t want to cross the bridge with an unreasonable faith.

Only you can make your decision about which worldview to stand on, and you, and maybe those near you, will experience what follows from your decision.

Regarding other churches or Christian groups who we may partner with, another organization, Cross-Examined, expressed it well by noting we do not require that others hold to the exact same positions we do on many of the doctrinal or theological discussions that occur within the church. While we believe these issues are significant, we are most concerned about the effects that false ideologies or inaccurate beliefs are having on so many lives.1

There are foundational or essential beliefs, which if not accepted, place one outside of whatever comes with that worldview belief. So, below is provided both a simple, and then a more detailed version of foundational Christian beliefs.

If you are new to, or are not real familiar with Christianity, then the simple foundational belief is given by a verse you may have heard from the book of John in the Bible, chapter 3, and verse (each chapter is further divided up into verses) 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

This foundational belief is expressed all throughout the Bible in different ways and situations. For example, in the book of Acts, chapter 16, verses 30 to 31: “He (one of the jailors who heard Paul and Silas teaching about Jesus while in jail) then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They (Paul and Silas) replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.’” (Acts 16: 30-31)

The foundational beliefs of Christianity are easy enough for a child to understand, but there would certainly be questions to ask, such as: What does being “saved” mean? Why would trusting in Jesus be what bridges our relationship with God, why not just being “good”? What about other belief systems? These are reasonable questions to ask, and they are covered in the website.

For those who spend a lot of research and thought on beliefs, or who are Christians and want to see a more technical or detailed description of our beliefs, it will be given below, cited from other work, which worded it better than we would have.

Most of our closest friends and acquaintances were not Christians (while most have become believers in Jesus over the years, most were atheists, agnostics, or believers in good-personism through much of life), therefore, we understand how reading technical descriptions brings up even more questions. The people who spend a ton of time in any field of study, always seem to come up with very technical-sounding words and ideas, which need a good translation back into everyday language.

If any of these words or ideas seem too foreign or incomprehensible to you, either the website will cover it, or please contact us to submit a “Frequently Asked Question” to add to the website. And word of warning: we will not answer everything with complete answers – think about it – if there is a God that has existed beyond our three dimensions of space and time, and has attributes beyond us, then God has aspects that are outside of what we have experienced, and therefore, will not be entirely understandable.

Obviously, if I could completely understand a supposed God, then I already have good reason to believe that that God must be something simply invented by people. This is explained well by Edwin Abbott in Flatland, which explains how miraculous and difficult to grasp a three-dimensional being would appear to those living in two-dimensions; there is even a movie visualizing these mathematical concepts: www.flatlandthemovie.com. Nevertheless, if such a being did create us with a purpose and makes a connection with us, revealing and explaining how things are, then there is much we can know.

God

We believe in one infinitely perfect, eternal and personal God, the transcendent Creator and sovereign Sustainer of the universe. This one God is Triune2, existing eternally and simultaneously as thee distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three persons in the Godhead share equally and completely the one divine nature, and are therefore the same God, coequal in power, nature, and glory.3

Person of Christ

We believe that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly human, the unique, sure, and sufficient revelation of the very being, character, and purposes of God, beside whom there is no other god, and beside whom there is no other name by which we must be saved.4

We believe the only ground for our acceptance into eternity with God, heaven, is by what Jesus Christ did on the cross and what he is now doing through his risen life advocating for us. We do not earn our salvation, but receive Christ’s redemption solely by grace through our trust in him. Jesus exposed human sin through living a righteous life, demonstrated both God’s judicial wrath against sin and love for us by paying the cost and crediting those who accept that grace with acquittal, rose physically from the grave and is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge all who chose to accept, or reject relationship with him. The resurrection, along with other attesting miracles, are God’s historical affirmation and vindication of Jesus Christ’s unique identity, mission, and message.5

Person of the Holy Spirit

We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, is indeed a Divine Person, coequal with the Father and the Son. We also believe in the ministry of the Holy Spirit in salvation,6 (and this) new life, given supernaturally through spiritual regeneration, is a necessity as well as a gift.7

We believe salvation (what people often call “being saved”) doesn’t simply mean being saved from separation from God (hell), but entails other aspects all through life from the moment of choosing to accept a relationship with God, including deliverance with spiritual significance, and health, well-being, and healing from God’s authoritative perspective.

This does not mean you will be free from bad physical health, not face serious pain this world can bring, be more prosperous than others in things of this world, or have life be fair. But it does mean God is with you, and just as a loving parent allows their child to go out into the world and face the challenges to develop into the best themself they can be, God is for you, weeps with you when pain comes home, embraces you both spiritually and historically to use all that life brings to allow your personal development in health, well-being, and healing in the attributes, spiritual and otherwise, that will be the best for you. We believe Christianity is unique in not just giving this answer to the problem of pain in life, or just claiming we must trust God’s authority when making choices in life, but Christ backed up the claim by personally demonstrating how horrific pain, unfairly brought upon himself at the cross, led to the greatest good – our salvation.

Bible

We believe that Jesus’ own teaching, and unequaled characteristics establish the supreme authority of the Bible, making it our final rule for belief and practice.8 God the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, revealing the nature and character of God, the nature of creation and humanity, and God’s will for the salvation of human beings through Jesus Christ.9

References and Citations

1 From the Cross Examined Statement of Faith: http://crossexamined.org/about

2 Example of difficult to understand concepts: God being “Triune” seemed weird and interesting to me, as it should, because three-dimensional humanity has not experienced such a state of being. Yet, when a challenge by a Muslim had me look into this further, the information found not only exposed a fatal flaw in Islam, but also provided such interesting and unexpected answers to other questions, as truth typically does.

3, 6, 9 Reasons to Believe: www.reasons.org/about/our-mission

4, 5, 7, 8 Dr. William L. Craig, Reasonable Faith, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/statement-of-faith

10 Dr. Frank Turek: http://crossexamined.org/christian-apologetics

11,12 Dr. William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/about-reasonable-faith

Putting together this site & the lectures & preparing for debates is a hassle and crazy time, money, and energy consuming. So it is a fair question to ask: Why?

We would so much rather be biking, watching a good movie, playing basketball, having a good family night, laying on a beach, or even having a really good coffee, than doing research and preparing for presentations or debates. Well maybe that is overstating it, as we do enjoy and benefit from learning new things, but, it took something that we recognize will bring unfathomable returns on investment (more so for others who we care about), for us to invest ourselves in this.

Imagine you were one of those who, earlier in the 1980s, bought Apple stock before it launched into astronomical gains and carried your fortunes with it. Like the funny scene in Forrest Gump. And then, you took much of those gains and invested in Qualcomm early, and now have enough to wonderfully support your family throughout life, and through the next generation. Sweeeeeeeeet.

Now, if you could go back in time, when you bought the stock, and noticed another family, you really cared about, investing all their finances and efforts into things you knew were destined to dwindle to nothing and result in severe hardship, missed opportunity, and complete loss, would you try to encourage them to invest their resources into Apple? You may wonder if going back in time changed anything, or maybe history wouldn’t repeat the same way, so you investigate and discover evidence in many areas that demonstrate Apple will grow as it did for you. Would you argue for, encourage, even be emotionally involved in hoping your friend would change their plans and rest on the same investment you made?

That is how a Christian feels, and is an answer to why we invest in this. Having experienced the difference a relationship with God makes not only all through life, but also knowing what God brings to the table once this life ends, there is a desperate want for others to gain the same treasure – of more comprehensive and permanent value than the Apple stock and all it could bring.

Or, from the negative side of it, picture yourself as a crew member on the Titanic. After the sinking began, you come across a family that was huddling in their room expecting that the ship would right itself somehow. From all you observed, and knew about the situation, you knew the ship was going down. Wouldn’t you keep encouraging, arguing, urging that family to reconsider their stance?! Most people, except the captain and crew of the not-too-long-ago-capsized Costa Concordia, would. Christians, at least those who are coming from the right motivation, feel the same, as we recognize we are all on a ship that has a purpose, but will sink, yet there is a prepared route to a rescue. And the rescue isn’t just about avoiding the reality of a separation from God (hell), but also not failing to reach the destination of the relationship, development, and benefits the relationship and trust brings throughout life’s journey.

So what is the best way to share this good news to others. Probably the best way is to live the way Christ encourages us to. When this type of life is lived, even to a reasonable degree, then it stands out as something others will want a part of. Another way, especially in our current culture, is apologetics, which is what this site is about.

Dr. Turek’s description of apologetics, and Dr. Craig’s explanation of the goals are provided below (with slight additions), because their coverage of the topics is well done and fits us well.

Why would anyone, or why should anyone become a Christian? Why should anyone place their faith in Jesus Christ – a man who lived over two-thousand years ago? (These are interesting questions, requiring important answers)

The word apologetics first appears in the New Testament in 1 Peter 3:15 where the Apostle Peter addressed early Christians in Asia Minor (a Roman province), who were suffering persecution because of their faith in Christ. He writes:

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you for a reason (logos) for the hope that is within you: yet do it with gentleness and respect (ESV).

Christian apologetics can be summarized in two parts: (a) objective reasons and evidence that Christianity is true (it corresponds to reality) and, (b) the communication of that truth to the world (as Jesus had demonstrated, with gentleness and respect).10

References and Citations

1 From the Cross Examined Statement of Faith: http://crossexamined.org/about

2 Example of difficult to understand concepts: God being “Triune” seemed weird and interesting to me, as it should, because three-dimensional humanity has not experienced such a state of being. Yet, when a challenge by a Muslim had me look into this further, the information found not only exposed a fatal flaw in Islam, but also provided such interesting and unexpected answers to other questions, as truth typically does.

3, 6, 9 Reasons to Believe: www.reasons.org/about/our-mission

4, 5, 7, 8 Dr. William L. Craig, Reasonable Faith, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/statement-of-faith

10 Dr. Frank Turek: http://crossexamined.org/christian-apologetics

11,12 Dr. William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/about-reasonable-faith

To provide in the public arena an intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising yet gracious Christian perspective on the most important issues concerning the truth of the Christian faith today11, such as:

  • Is it worth my time/effort to look into this?
  • Does it matter what you believe?
  • What do we know about your future, based on your beliefs?
  • Is there truth about worldview beliefs, and how could you know?
  • What about other religions? And atheism, agnosticism?
  • How does science relate with different belief systems?
  • What if I am a good person?
  • The existence of God
  • Why would a loving God allow pain, or hell?
  • The meaning of life
  • What comes after life?
  • Is there objective right and wrong?
  • The creation of the universe
  • Evolution, much to do about nothing?
  • Is the Bible only man-made, is it reliable?
  • Is Christianity a crutch? Yes, how reliable is yours?
  • The absolute uniqueness of Jesus
  • How can you trust that Jesus is, and did, what was claimed?

These topics, and the others surrounding Christianity, and worldview beliefs in general, are covered in multiple forms on the website, and are also provided in live, interactive presentations to engage others with some of the most important, interesting and applicable information, in order to carry out a four-fold goal:

  • to provide an articulate, intelligent voice for biblical Christianity in the public arena
  • to challenge (those who do not accept Christ) with the truth of biblical Christianity
  • to train Christians to state and defend Christian truth claims with greater effectiveness12
  • to encourage everyone to think, because unexamined beliefs are not worth believing, and not safe to stand on

You will face a deep part of your life, which all of us deal with by either avoiding it, just wading in the shallow end but not enough to know what we are really getting into, or walking fully into the deep questions in life and coming away with supported answers and confidence in the foundation that guides our life. In this area of life, the shallow waters are where the sharks prowl, and where people get taken.

Goals of this program do not include:

  • doing this to gain favor or acceptance from God (we don’t have to earn grace), we are doing this because he already accepted us
  • to “convert” you. Determining your worldview is serious, and wherever you are at – you are standing there because you have become comfortable in that position for whatever reason(s), and may be very comfortable there.

During a lecture I was giving at the University of Michigan, there was a student, who gave me the impression he was just waiting to go at me in the Q&A. When that time came, he didn’t end up challenging any of the science evidence provided, but instead asked, if someone could give me absolute proof there is no God, would I become an atheist?

Great question. I responded by saying, “No, not right away,” then went on to explain how I have become comfortable, with emotions and wants tied up with where I am at, so I would first go through some typical defense mechanisms, and try to avoid the cognitive dissonance. Yet, I would become an atheist eventually, and much sooner than most, because I cannot get away from the analytical itch in my brain that would relentlessly remind me I am not living on trustworthy ground.

People like to claim their choice of beliefs is purely based on intellectual reasons, which would make recognizing and stepping onto a different, better supported, foundation much easier. However, those people are ignoring the vast significance of the emotional and volitional factors in beliefs (explained here). The reason you don’t talk politics, sports, or religion at Thanksgiving is because the huge emotional bond we have with where we are comfortable, and people sometimes let their feelings overwhelm appropriate behavior or thought.

Therefore, we have a more modest goal of just encouraging more & more thought on this most important issue. God is knocking on everyone’s door, and whether you open, or lean against it to keep it closed, is entirely up to you. But if you want encouragement or useful resources, or someone to listen and discuss with, we would love to be there when and how we are able.

References and Citations

1 From the Cross Examined Statement of Faith: http://crossexamined.org/about

2 Example of difficult to understand concepts: God being “Triune” seemed weird and interesting to me, as it should, because three-dimensional humanity has not experienced such a state of being. Yet, when a challenge by a Muslim had me look into this further, the information found not only exposed a fatal flaw in Islam, but also provided such interesting and unexpected answers to other questions, as truth typically does.

3, 6, 9 Reasons to Believe: www.reasons.org/about/our-mission

4, 5, 7, 8 Dr. William L. Craig, Reasonable Faith, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/statement-of-faith

10 Dr. Frank Turek: http://crossexamined.org/christian-apologetics

11,12 Dr. William Lane Craig: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/about-reasonable-faith

What do I get out of this?

It is all about investment and return. And investing effort and thought into WHAT you believe, WHY you believe it, and HOW it will impact you, can pay greater benefits to you than any other activity you could do. This is examined throughout the site specifically in Epic Fails and What am I Building My Life On?

While relationships, career, health, or entertainment are all worthy parts of our life, too often these and other concerns consume such huge portions of our life time, that not enough is left to have an appropriate understanding and make reasonable choices concerning our beliefs…

Working at a cancer center, every day brings patients who seek truth. Is the cancer gone, or will it recur and make life much shorter? The doctor and patient may have beliefs based on symptoms and studies, but the goal is to get to the accurate belief (the truth), which can really change how the patient can best approach their life.Similarly, which worldview you follow will have a dramatic impact on your life, and anything that can help that decision should be sought. We seek hard for truth or the best answers concerning our relationships, careers, appearance, health, and other areas of life, but many do not have properly supported beliefs about the most important questions of life, and are unaware how much their worldview foundation has already impacted them, and how much it will affect their lives in the future.When explaining the importance of what we choose to put our trust in, Jesus responded to different people in different ways, depending where the person was coming from. For example, to a woman who was heavily burdened by constantly having to supply her needs for water, he offers her “living water” (an analogy to the relationship with God, which satisfies our needs and will never run dry), and then substantiates his claim with, in that instance, miraculous knowledge.Now, we can’t substantiate the claims the way he did, but we don’t have to, because in our current time and place there is an abundance of available information to provide a comprehensive case for Christianity’s claims. And this site will provide different approaches depending where you currently stand.

How we can help you

Do you remember that person in class that was always prepared? Whether high on the nerdiness scale, or just obsessive about being on top of everything, they were a person it would be nice to have access to for help getting an assignment done, or for help before (or during) a test. We are those nerds.

CLICK HERE TO ASK US ANYTHING

Now what?

This page provided the basics of where we are coming from. It helps to know where you are at too, before knowing where you can go next. People will come from a number of different places where they stand in their worldview beliefs, yet, reality funnels everyone’s choices regarding beliefs along the SAME SET OF LIMITED & LOGICAL CHOICES to make.

This can be visualized as a flowchart, where you can clearly see where you are at, what’s coming next, and what your overall journey will look like. And this website made it so each intersection on the map, you can choose which way you want to move forward, by clicking on the corresponding image, which will take you to the set of resources tied to that choice in the website. If you want to use this tool, click: Making this Site Work for Me.

If not, then click the button below to read more about the four-step process we’ve created to help you navigate this site and where you specifically are at regarding the different world beliefs, and the evidence behind each of them.

1) Why should I care?

We first have to show that your beliefs will impact you so much, that spending appropriate time with your beliefs will pay off better than anything else you could do.

2) OK I care, but how do I know the truth?

Even when one realizes the seriousness of their choice of beliefs, many think the choice of worldview beliefs is too difficult, due to all the information, misinformation, different opinions, perspectives, etc. Others even think there is no truth about beliefs. So, the second thing we do is demonstrate in a funny and clear way, that truth exists, and we can test for and know truth the same way we do in science, or when making any significant decision in everyday life. We provide a simple, logical approach.

3) Show me evidence for God

Now is the time we follow the simple approach of the basic scientific method, and common sense, and evaluate the evidence to consider which worldview belief(s) meets the standard that science, and everyday life choices, depend upon – what is the best explanation of the evidence. These sections are the most fun, and fill your mind with the most interesting thoughts as worldview beliefs cover the big questions in life, so evidence comes from all aspects. There are articles, activities, and media, dealing with topics ranging from: kangaroo babies to the music group Korn, CSI to the beginning of the universe, from how to get a date to The Notebook, Ice Cube to Stephen Hawking to Jesus, and can go from really seeing your purpose in life, to laughing with and at Family Guy, to betting on the likelihood of surviving a fall from 10,000 feet without a parachute. The evidence is in, and from all fields of study to provide the guideposts along the straightforward path in determining what beliefs fit reality.

4) You made your bet

The final step is making it clear, maybe for the first time for some people, what set of beliefs about reality (worldview belief) you have decided to found your life upon. We explore what exactly each belief system claims about the big questions in life, and then do a very informative comparison between all the claims and the evidence. This four-step process is built into the website by simply following the order of the primary four squares under the banner on the Home page.

5) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Whether you accept or reject Christianity, there will always be interesting and reasonable questions to ask. If you have a specific question, check here as it is organized by topics, and if you don’t see your question here, send it in so we can provide you with a personal response, or make it part of the website.

About Scott Symington

Scott’s unique background in applied science and education leadership results in audiences receiving powerful and easy to use answers in an exciting coverage of the biggest issues in science and Christianity. Scott has worked with middle school to graduate level students, was featured in a university study on teaching, and has reached those audiences enough to be consistently nominated for educator of the year. After receiving graduate degrees in both radiological physics and education leadership, Scott has spent the last decade practicing medical physics at a cancer center, and working in numerous capacities demonstrating how science provides amazing hard evidence pointing directly to the biblical God.

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.

Mark Twain