The dictionary definition of ”fact” is ”something known to exist or to have happened,” whereas ”faith”generally is described as ”belief not based on proof.”
There are 10,000 religions worldwide, eighteen of which are major Christian religions, and among Christians there are 9,000 separate denominations. Each of those religions and denominations has its own belief system–its followers act on faith–even though, as author Jack Gage points out, ”all the adherents of these different belief systems inhabit the same world, with the same physical facts, with access to the same knowledge.” So how and why did so many religions come into existence? And how do the various religious explanations–whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, or any other–for how the world and the people in it began stack up against scientific fact?
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Q&A with Author Jack Gage:
Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?
Although I got my first college degree in Business Administration, and the second a Juris Doctorate in law, at heart I’ve always been fascinated by science and particularly astronomy. I was raised by my parents as an Episcopalian but the things I was taught there seemed inconsistent with what I was learning about basic science, and like a lot of teenagers I was starting to question the world around me, partly I suppose as teenage rebellion, but I think more out teenage curiosity, and about age 15 I stopped going to church. I really hadn’t become an agnostic or atheist at that point; the subject wasn’t important enough to me to make a decision. When I was married at age 26 to a very nice devout Mormon girl I dug deeper, and became convinced that I wasn’t Mormon material based primarily on a book titled No Man Knows My History by Fawn Brodie McKay. Those doubts were confirmed in spades later by Losing a Lost Tribe by Simon E. Southerton.
My wife raised our seven children in the Mormon religion and they attended church functions and services religious, like it or not, and I didn’t interfere. The two eldest became and are still practicing Mormons, the next two are either agnostic or atheist but aren’t interested enough to even decide. The fifth child joined the Catholic Church, left that church and is a devoted and non-denominational Christian. The next, and youngest is girl, and a Buddhist, and has been to India twice for audiences with the Dalia Lama and the youngest is a boy and a born-again Christian who had his epiphany in a Southern Baptist Church.
All of that got me thinking a long time ago: How and why have the world’s people come up with so many different religious belief systems, and many, including Christians, are willing to and have killed people who disagree with them, commandment number 6 notwithstanding.
Just this past week there was a blurb in our local newspaper about a MD in Atlanta, Georgia who is certain the Bible is the authentic word of God and believes the world is only 6,000 years old. My question is how in the blue-eyed world can someone smart and educated enough to get through medical school accept all those biblical stories as true, when they are so obviously folklore? How can an intelligent person conclude the world is only 6,000 old when the see the geological column, or learn that it takes distant starlight thousands and millions of light years to reach us at 186,000 miles per second? It just defies my imagination. How can someone accept that at Joshua’s request God keep the sun from setting? The only way that could be done is to stop the earth from rotating and then start it back up again; not possible.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Mostly what a lousy speller and typist I am, but thanks to modern computer technology that doesn’t show up much. I guess maybe my tendency to make inappropriate side comments.
Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.
Page 71, where the discussion of the Exodus begins. It’s amazing to me that everyone seems to accept the story in Exodus, but when you think about it, it just wasn’t possible, it has to be fiction. There are so many impossible occurrences, and so many people buy it without question. What isn’t discussed is that on top of all the unlikely and impossible things in the story, Egyptian history never mentions any of this, and of course the reason is it didn’t happen.
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About the Author
Jack Gage was born and raised in Wyoming, attended Wyoming public schools, and graduated from high school in June 1944. He enlisted in the United States Army in July 1944 and was sent to Colorado A&M, now Colorado State University, in the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program. He was put on active duty in January 1945 and medically discharged that same year.
He entered the University of Southern California in the fall of 1945, left that school in 1947 when he ran out of money, and later worked for a construction company, Morrison-Knudsen, Inc., of Boise, Idaho, on Guam and Eniwetok Atoll from the spring of 1947 until the fall of 1949. He returned to University of Southern California in the spring of 1950 and transferred to the University of Wyoming that fall, graduating with a BS in business administration in 1951. He returned to the construction business with Morrison-Knudsen Company and worked on projects in North Africa, Idaho, Oregon, New Hampshire, and finally in upstate New York on the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
He left construction and became an investor and office manager for a company headquartered in New York City that manufactured heating elements. That company went broke, and in 1966, at age forty, Gage entered the University of Utah College of Law. He made the Law Review and graduated with a juris doctorate degree in 1968, settled in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and practiced law there until 1995, when he retired to the Kona Coast of the big island of Hawaii.
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Believe it or not I have thought and read much about this subject in the past. I came to the conclusion that World War II was the catalyst for religion to stop treating the bible as a moral guide and start reading it as 100% fact.
This is true for the Jews as well as the Christians. Before WWII there were not Hassidic Jews, those who did not work and studied the Torah. If you wanted to study you did so after work.
Same is true for Most Christians, they did not read the bible as history, but as something deeper, a way to aspire to live by.
Now… it’s just crazy in my opinion.
It’s interesting that the author’s children all sought spiritual fulfillment even though they received no guidance from their father.
Also, I wonder why he thinks it takes less faith to believe in something that becomes so quickly outdated as science rather than something that has remained unchanged such as the Bible.
Is it really more logical to believe that something as complex as the universe just happened by accident? Not only by accident but that it came into being out of nothing and is going nowhere?
Thanks for the comment Sharon.
I think faith takes many forms. Even scientists admit that the universe is not an “accident”. In astrophysics there are variables for an unknown force which we know (as of now) exists. Whether you call that force G-d, nature, ether or anything else doesn’t matter.