Exploring the God Question 3. Mind and Consciousness, Part 2 (Conversion)



This is our sixth article evaluating a DVD Series entitled Exploring the God Question,1,2 in which atheists and theistic evolutionists vigorously promote the theory of evolution—contrary to what God says He did and how He did it, in Genesis. For our previous articles, see:

At the beginning of this DVD, the Narrator says that hitherto the Series has examined scientific evidence whether or not God is real; now this Part 2 examines the evidence of personal experience. In support, Prof. Keith Ward (Divinity, University of Oxford) says: “I think personal experience is the most important thing.” And Prof. John Lennox (Mathematics, University of Oxford) says: “The central Christian claim is that God is a Person, not a theory, and we react to persons in a different way from theory.”

Christian experience—pro and con

In support of Christian experience, Prof. Alvin Plantinga (Philosophy, University of Notre Dame, Indiana) says: “According to the New Testament, there is such a thing as the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.” And Prof. William Lane Craig (Philosophy) says: “I think that the fundamental way in which a person knows his faith to be true is through the inner testimony of God’s Spirit to one’s own spirit. God is a living Person who I think spiritually speaks to the heart of every person who will simply be open to listen to His voice.”

However, all claimed experiences must be judged by the written Word of God, the Bible, because this warns of counterfeit experiences and false messiahs. Mormons likewise claim an experience they call ‘burning in the bosom’ to justify their heresies. Those who claim to have been abducted by aliens wrongly use their ‘experience’ to justify false interpretations of the Bible. See:

Christianity and reason

The above comes after the DVD has replayed atheist physical chemist Prof. Peter Atkins’ opposition to all such claims that he voiced in Part 1 of this DVD: “God is a lie, and people should not waste their time, and waste their lives on it.” And fellow atheist Prof. Daniel Dennett (Philosophy) adds: “Religion doesn’t just disable you; it honours your disability. It treats irrationality as a wonderful thing. It doesn’t just excuse irrationality, it celebrates it.”

It’s notable that these atheists, acting consistently with their worldview, are deceptive about Christianity and rationality. In reality, Christianity affirms logic and reason, and provides a sound basis for it. Conversely, atheists have no reason under their own belief system to justify rational thought if their brains are just evolved ape brains. Natural selection can select only for that which leaves more offspring, not for truth and logic. So even the most irrational, false, and immoral ideas would be selected if they helped reproductive success. See:

How curious, too, that these atheists object so strongly to what other people believe or do. We are reminded of the comment by 17th century French physicist and Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)3 concerning the non-believers of his day: “Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true.”4 See Why do atheists hate God?5

Blaise Pascal is probably best known for his Christian apologetics argument known as Pascal’s Wager. This reasoning compares the benefits and losses in this life and the next (including Heaven and Hell) that ensue from wagering that God exists vs. wagering that He does not (where ‘wagering’ means committing one’s life to either belief), as summarised in the diagram below.


Is a sense of God due to a gene?

Atheist ‘gay-gene’ proponent Dr Dean Hamer suggests that scientists have found one particular gene that was correlated with people’s sense of spiritualty. But unsurprisingly, the Narrator says there is considerable opposition to this view. According to theist Dr Justin Barrett (University of Oxford), the whole brain is involved in people’s religious thought and activity, not just one isolated ‘god-spot’. See:

And author Denys O’Leary, commenting on why some people believe in God and some don’t, very appropriately suggests: “It would be wiser to look at their personal experiences than to be rummaging around in their brain!”

The Narrator says that the attempt to find a god-gene is motivated by the expectation that science can explain spiritual consciousness. But philosopher Prof. Keith Ward argues that ‘science’ is by definition restricted to the sort of reality that everybody can observe, and says: “A lot of our phenomena are not like that. God, for example, being immaterial … wouldn’t come under the scope of science.” See The teaching of science: a Biblical perspective.)

One can also wonder: how can we know that there isn’t an evolution-spot in the brains of evolutionists that evolved to make them believe that we are rearranged pond scum? After all, if evolutionists want to claim that opposing beliefs are not due to objective evidence and are instead caused by the brain’s hard-wiring, shouldn’t they be held to the same standard?

What about near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences?

The DVD then discusses the so-called near-death experiences (NDEs) of people who have been resuscitated after being pronounced clinically dead (defined as when their heart stops beating, their breathing stops, and their brain shows no electrical activity). Ken Spearpoint (Resuscitation Nurse, Hammersmith Hospital, London) says concerning patients he has been called to work on:

They’re all technically dead at the point at which we start compressing their chest. About one in ten of them report anecdotally they feel as though they have taken a journey through a tunnel; they describe a sense of wellbeing, unbelievable wellbeing, and ultimately they end up in a wonderful place. And this phenomenon appears to cross the whole range of cultural beliefs.

The Narrator also mentions that a small number of patients report being detached from their bodies and able to see the resuscitation process itself—usually called an out-of-body experience (OBE), as distinct from an NDE. Some people report having had both experiences.

The DVD introduces viewers to Don Piper, who in 1989 was involved in a road accident and was pronounced dead at the scene at 11.45 a.m. He says that while his body lay there, he was absent from the body, and glimpsed heaven, and then, 90 minutes later, at 1.15 p.m. he was back. Atheist Dr Dean Hamer likens this account to a vivid dream, and atheist Prof. Steven Pinker (Psychology, Harvard) suggests that all such experiences are the result of the brain being deprived of oxygen as its physiology starts to wind down.

Our response: Concerning NDEs, what we take issue with is the credibility of any experience that does not conform to what the Bible tells us about heaven, or who goes there, or what happens after death. The ultimate truth about these matters is not found in supposed journeys into the afterlife via NDEs, either by adults or children,6 but in the Bible as our only reliable source of information on all such topics. For those looking to the claimed NDEs of others for assurance about their own future destiny, we refer them instead to what the Bible clearly affirms: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9).

It may not be generally known that not all NDEs are ‘good’. Readers can peruse some of the bad experiences people have recorded, if they type into the Google search box.

Readers should also be aware that God tells us in the Bible that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). And Satan is variously described as “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), “the father of lies” (John 8:44), and “the god of this world” [who] “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4). See:

Concerning heaven and who goes there, Jesus said: “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). And John 1:18 says: “No one has ever seen God.” Jesus also said: “unless one is born again,7 he cannot see the kingdom of heaven” (John 3:3). And: “I am the way … . No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The Bible also says, concerning Jesus: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). The Bible thus tells us that those who ultimately have the right to enter heaven are those who have been born again, who have received Jesus Christ, and who believe in His name. It follows that anyone who has not been born again, who has not received Jesus Christ, and who does not believe in His name, does not have this right—irrespective of any NDE a person may have had.

Concerning what happens after death, God tells us in His Word: “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Those who in this life have received God’s forgiveness for sin through repentance and faith in Christ will be acquitted (John 5:24), and instead will be rewarded based on how faithfully they have served Christ. God also tells us in the words of the Apostle Paul:

we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep [i.e. died]. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15–18).

Hence, it behoves all people to enter into a right relationship with God, also known as ‘conversion to Christianity’ (see below). Those who have recognised their alienation from God, and have sought God’s forgiveness on the basis that Jesus bore their sin penalty when He died on the cross and rose again, have this assurance that they will for ever be with the Lord. See:

Conversion to Christianity

Silvia Glover8

Moving on, the DVD introduces Silvia Glover as someone for whom clear evidence of God exists here and now, because she is convinced she has personally experienced God transforming her life. Silvia says that from an early age she had been doing things she should not have, with drugs easily available to her. One day she finally accepted a persistent invitation from a business friend to attend her church. Sylvia testifies:

The moment that I walked into that place, I could sense the love of God, and I felt like my search had ended, that this was the thing that I needed. At the end of the message, [the pastor] asked for anyone in the building who wanted to give their heart to the Lord and experience the love of Christ to respond to the altar call. And right there at the altar I knew that my life had been changed. When I went to work the next day they knew that something had happened to me because there was a change in my countenance. There was a joy and a peace that I’d never had before and I had now experienced.

Convicts at Darrington Prison

The scene shifts to Darrington Prison, Texas, and the Narrator says:

Silvia’s experience is far from being an isolated one. Locked up inside are some of America’s most dangerous prisoners, but the gates have been opened to Prison Fellowship. Despite the serious and often violent levels of crime involved, more than 60 prisoners in Darrington jail claim their lives have been transformed through a Prison Fellowship program that encouraged them to open their minds to God.

Chaplain Donald Lacy tells viewers that there have been some miraculous changes in the lives of a lot of the prisoners. For example:

Kenneth: “I had no reason to live, and I asked God to give me the strength to change my life, because I knew I couldn’t change my life.”
Leon: “I sincerely prayed God help me, clean me up, I’m no good.”
Darryl: “I’m no longer rebellious against the things that are morally just and right.”
Vince: “People know I’m different. I’ve got a direction to go. And I love it. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

White House ‘hatchet-man’ Chuck Colson

The DVD introduces Colson as a former senior member of the Nixon Government in Washington, who was sent to prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The Narrator says: “While in prison, Chuck Colson became convinced that belief in God had the power to transform character. On his release, he founded Prison Fellowship to share that belief with prisoners worldwide.”

How does conversion occur?

So what is this so-called conversion experience all about? What actually happens when someone is truly converted? And how does it happen? Let’s consider Chuck Colson’s own testimony.


In his autobiography, Born Again,9 Chuck tells the world exactly how he came to faith in Christ. This happened after the Watergate break-in, but before his imprisonment, and it involved much, much more than mere ‘belief in God’ (as per the Narrator). It was, in fact, the reason why he (as a new Christian) pleaded Guilty rather than Not Guilty at his trial. Instrumental in his conversion was the testimony of his friend, a company president, Tom Phillips, who told Chuck he had at that time recently committed his life to Jesus Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in New York. He also read to Chuck a portion from C.S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity which explained that pride or self conceit was the complete anti-God state of mind: “… pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”10 Phillips urged Chuck to take the same step of faith that he had done—to ask Christ into his life.

Chuck relates how that night, at the beginning of his spiritual journey, he prayed the first real prayer he had ever offered: “God I don’t know how to find You, but I’m going to try. I’m not much the way I am now, but somehow I want to give myself to You.”11 In the days that followed, Chuck gradually came to understand the concept of a living, loving infinite God, but says he did not at that time know what ‘accepting Christ’ meant. As he pondered Lewis’s logic, that “for Christ to have talked as He talked, lived as He lived, died as He died, He was either God or a raving lunatic”,12 finally the truth dawned on Chuck— Jesus Christ was and is God incarnate. And with that momentous realization came the need to choose: would he believe all of it, accepting it on faith or reason or both, or believe none of it? And if all, would he accept without reservations Jesus Christ as Lord of his life? Chuck describes it as being like a gate with no way to walk around it, which he could step through, or remain outside of.13 A short time later he had made his decision; he prayed: “Lord Jesus, I believe you. I accept you. Please come into my life. I commit it to You.”13

What did Jesus do that makes such conversion possible?

When Jesus died on the cross and rose to life again, He achieved the following:

  1. Jesus absorbed the wrath of God that fell on humanity when God’s law was broken in the beginning (Genesis 3). God’s wrath is His intense righteous anger against evil provoked by rebellion against His authority and sovereignty. Because we all have sinned (Romans 3:23), the wrath of God is upon every human being. Jesus came to solve this problem, and he did so by taking God’s wrath upon Himself (Galatians 3:13), as Isaiah had prophesied that He would (Isaiah 53:6–10).
  2. Jesus paid in full the penalty for our sins. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23).When Jesus died, He declared: “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word translated “finished” is tetelestai (τετέλεσται)meaning “paid in full”. This word was stamped on bills of debt in those days, to denote just that: ‘paid in full’. By His death, Jesus paid in full our sin-debt to God the Father (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus thus exhausted the penalty for sin.
  3. Jesus offered to God a life of perfect righteousness. The Law was thus fulfilled. The glorious and wonderful Christian Gospel is that God not only accepts Christ’s death as full and sufficient payment of the penalty for all our sin(s), but at the same time counts Christ’s perfect righteousness as ours, imputed to us by faith alone (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  4. Jesus obtained eternal life for us. Eternal life is knowing, enjoying, loving God—and being loved by Him—all of which begins in this life and continues into and throughout eternity (John 3:16; 1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

True saving faith in Christ involves the following pathway:

  1. A person realises that he or she has fallen short of God’s moral demands and is thereby guilty before God.14 (Romans 3:19, 23).
  2. They want to be free from this guilt and from sin’s hold on their lives, but cannot achieve these things for themselves (Ephesians 2:8–9).
  3. They come to the realization that God wants to forgive them on the basis that Jesus by His death on the cross has paid the penalty for all their wrongdoing (1 Peter 2:24).
  4. They ask God to forgive them, as He has promised to do when we repent and turn to Him (e.g. Romans 10:10; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:9).
  5. They receive Jesus as Lord God (John 1:12; Romans 10:9), believing that He not only died for their sins, but also rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1–4). Note:Because Jesus paid in full the penalty for sin, and offered to God a life of perfect righteousness, a believer is justified or declared legally righteous before God, just like Abraham (Genesis 15:6, cited in Romans 4:3), and he or she also becomes what the apostle Paul calls “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), with assurance coming from believing what God has said (1 John 5:12–13).
  6. After justification comes sanctification, meaning becoming more holy. Believers, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, should increasingly make Jesus Christ Lord of their lives, because accepting Him as Saviour means submitting to Him as Sovereign (Romans 14:9). And believers should want to please the One who gave so much for them, by living according to His will, because He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Those who enter into this new and wonderful personal relationship with God find new meaning and purpose in their lives. Concerning this, Colson has written: “I know I could not live with myself if I hadn’t experienced the overwhelming conviction one night in 1973 … that God had died for me. In a flood of tears I felt released from a crushing sense of guilt and revived with a new sense of purpose and meaning. For the first time, I had a real reason for living.”15

In the DVD, Chuck goes on to tell viewers he has seen the same thing happen in 600 to 700 prisons in 40 countries around the world, and says: “So, if you ask, is Christianity true? Yes, it produces the results it promises to produce. That’s a test of truth. And after you have seen that and lived with it for as long as I have, you don’t have very many doubts left.”

Narrator: “Naturally atheists challenge the view that transformed lives provide credible evidence of God being real.” And atheist Prof. Daniel Dennett opines: “I think there is a category in between self delusion and lie, it straddles them; religion becomes a confuser [sic]. It gives people the illusion that there are simple answers to very complicated questions, when there aren’t.”

Prof John Lennox replies:

I’m not stupid; I know there’re frauds as there are in every life. But I would like to challenge the atheists to produce 62 people who have been utterly transformed by their atheist beliefs. … Millions of people through the centuries have found through the cross of Christ, through His death for human sin, because that’s what His very name means, ‘He shall save his people from their sins’, they have found the peace of an acceptance in the here and now that sets them free from that fear that’s common to human beings. … I’ve experienced it for myself. I’ve seen many people experience it. … God wants to empower us to live the kind of life that is upright, that is satisfying, and that is fulfilled. Now when that happens, I have no hesitation in saying that that, for me, is the final bit of evidence.

Similarly, as we have discussed before, in San Francisco, a man once challenged Canadian-American pastor/theologian Dr Harry Ironside (1876–1951) to a debate on ‘Agnosticism versus Christianity’. Dr Ironside agreed, on one condition: that the agnostic first provide evidence that agnosticism was beneficial enough to defend. Dr Ironside challenged the agnostic to bring one man who had been a ‘down-and-outer’ (a drunkard, criminal, or such) and one woman who had been trapped in a degraded life (such as prostitution), and show that both of these people had been rescued from their lives of degradation through embracing the philosophy of agnosticism. Dr Ironside undertook to bring 100 men and women to the debate who had been gloriously rescued through believing the Gospel the agnostic ridiculed. The skeptic withdrew his challenge to debate Dr Ironside.

Prof. William Lane Craig points out that we are not playing an intellectual game but engaging in a profoundly personal and spiritual quest. He suggests that people who doubt whether God exists should pray and ask God, if He is there, to guide them in their search. Readers will recall that this is what Chuck Colson sincerely did as he began his spiritual journey.

The ultimate, unanswerable evidence!

Towards the end of the DVD, atheist Prof. Daniel Dennett tells viewers; “I don’t think I would want there to be a God. I find the prospect of going to heaven and finding there was a God, disagreeable, actually.”

Our response: Prof. Dennett, the existence of God is something on which you will ultimately have absolute, irrefutable evidence, because you have been summonsed. The Bible declares that you, and all who reject God’s offer of reconciliation, will in fact experience the incinerating presence of God (Hebrews 12:29) at the Last Judgment. C.S. Lewis described this as being when “the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable”.16 It is where scoffers such as yourself will be separated from God for ever in what the Bible calls “the second death” (Revelation 20:11–15). See:

The only remedy to escape this verdict is to be among the redeemed. What this involves is what this article is all about. But someone may ask:

1. Is not the penalty of eternal death too severe?

Answer: No, it is the penalty prescribed by the Judge for the anti-God lifestyle, about which the Judge has given fair warning to all. See Why did God impose the death penalty for sin?. Furthermore, our relationship to God is a choice we all make in the here and now, and continue to make every day. C. S. Lewis put it like this:

It will be to late then to choose your side. … it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.17

2. Will an appeal be allowed?

Answer: No. Almighty God (Hebrew: El-Shaddai, e.g. Genesis 17:1), omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, is also the Most High God (Hebrew: El-Elyon, e.g. Psalm 78:35). He is also “the only true God” (John 17:3). There is no higher authority than He, and in any case, at the Last Judgment any appeal to the Judge will be too late. All such appeals may only be made now (Isaiah 55:6–7). For our thoughts on this, albeit at the beginning of human history rather than at its climax, see Could Adam have appealed the verdict?

3. What about clemency or even a pardon?

Answer: The bad news is that at the Last Judgment there will be no place for clemency or a pardon. The good news is that the Judge offers an absolute free pardon to everyone who wishes to avail himself or herself of this offer here and now (e.g. John 3:16; Psalm 103:12), but the ‘here and now’ is the only time in which it is available (2 Corinthians 6:2). See Dawkin’s dilemma: how God forgives sin.

4. What about a ‘prisoner swap’?

Answer: Once again, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that no ‘prisoner swap’ will then be allowed. The good news is that ‘prisoner swap’ is available now. When Jesus died on the cross, he died as our substitute. By His death He has paid the penalty for the sins of the world, and the Judge will accept this on behalf of everyone who is willing to agree to the conditions. These are for a beneficiary to repent of his or her sin and accept the sacrifice of the Son of God on his or her behalf, as per the pathway to true saving faith outlined above.

In view of all the above, we commend the following words of God to all our readers, originally spoken by the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Israel, but equally relevant to all today:

As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11).


The DVD commemorates that Chuck Colson and atheist Christopher Hitchens both died subsequent to the recording of their interviews. Chuck’s final words in the DVD, which we commend to all viewers of these DVDs and readers of these articles, were:

I believe there is eternal life. I believe my soul is going to be with God for ever. I believe that the bodily resurrection will take place when Christ returns—glorious reunion with one another and with God. The atheist or the naturalist has no hope. These are starkly different ways of looking at reality.
Chuck Colson
October 1931 – April 2012
Published: 12 March 2015

References and notes

  1. Exploring the God Question is a set of three DVDs titled 1. The Cosmos; 2. Life and Evolution; and 3. Mind and Consciousness, each in 2 Parts Various atheist and theist speakers give their personal opinions on these subjects, with evolution regarded as fact by all the scientists except lone young-earther, biblical creationist Prof. Andy McIntosh (Thermodynamics, University of Leeds). Return to text.
  2. Published in 2013 by Search for Truth Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Search for Truth Charitable Trust, a private limited company based in Scotland. For more details see our comments in Exploring the God Question 1. The Cosmos, Part 1 (The Big Bang). Return to text.
  3. Lamont, A., Great creation scientist: Blaise Pascal (1623–1662): Outstanding scientist and committed Christian, Creation 20(1):38–39, 1997; creation.com/pascal. Return to text.
  4. Pascal, B., Pensées [Thoughts], Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Section III, No, 187. Return to text.
  5. Editorial, Creation 34(1):6, 2012. Return to text.
  6. Probably the best known NDE (and most fanciful concerning heaven) is that related by Colton Burpo, which he claims happened during an emergency appendectomy when he was aged 3 years and 10 months, and which is described in the 2010 book Heaven is for Real, written by his father, Todd Burpo, with Lynn Vincent, (10 million copies sold to 2014 and a 2014 movie that earned $101 million). Another child who supposedly came back from heaven, Alex Malarkey, wrote a book with his father, Kevin (clearly the lead author), called The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven (2011). But on January 13, 2015, Alex, aged 16, released an open letter to Christian publishers and bookstores in which he admitted that he made it all up as a child seeking attention (who would have thought that a child would do such a thing?), and he and his mother, Beth, have called for the book’s retraction. Return to text.
  7. I.e. just as there needs to be a beginning to physical life, so too there needs to be a beginning to spiritual life. Return to text.
  8. The DVD Study Guide spells her name Silvia; Google and Facebook spell her name Sylvia. Return to text.
  9. Colson, C., Born Again, Hodder and Stoughton, chapters 8–9, pp. 118–142, 1976. Return to text.
  10. Lewis, C., Mere Christianity, Fontana Books, p. 108, 1960. Return to text.
  11. Ref. 9, p. 127. Return to text.
  12. Ref. 9, p. 137. Return to text.
  13. Ref. 9, pp. 141–42. Return to text.
  14. While all sin separates from God and will send the sinner to Hell if unforgiven, the notion ‘all sins are equal’ is contrary to biblical teaching. Jesus told Pilate, “he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). He also spoke of an unforgivable sin, which, regardless of what this is, must be greater than a forgivable sin. 1 John 5:16–17 contrasts “a sin not leading to death” with “sin that leads to death”, which is clearly worse. See also this article by CMI supporter Rev. Dr Peter Barnes, ‘Are all sins equal?’ revesby.pcnsw.org.au, 1 November 2008. Return to text.
  15. Colson, C., and Pearcey, N., How Now Shall We Live?, Marshall Pickering, London, pp. 274–75, 2000. Return to text.
  16. Ref.10, p. 180. Return to text.
  17. Ref.10, p. 63. Return to text.

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