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EPISODE 74: Chasing Achievement - Dr. Vince Vitale's Story
A Princeton and Oxford graduate, former skeptic Dr. Vince Vitale valued autonomy and pursued high achievement as the greatest good in life. When investigating Christianity, he found it to be worth his ultimate belief, value, and trust.
Hello, and thanks for joining in. I'm Jana Harmon, and you're listening to Side B Stories, where we see how skeptics flip the record of their lives. Each podcast, we listen to someone who has once been an atheist or skeptic, but who became a Christian against all odds. You can hear more of these stories at our Side B Stories website at sidebstories.com. We welcome your comments on these stories on our Side B Stories Facebook page. You can also email us at [email protected]. We always love hearing from you. As a reminder, our guests not only tell their stories of moving from disbelief to belief in God and Christianity, at the end of each episode, these former skeptics give advice to curious seekers as to how they can pursue the truth and reality of God. They also give advice to Christians as to how best to engage with those who don’t believe. I hope you’re listening in to hear them speak from their wisdom and experience as someone who has once been a skeptic but now is a believer. We have much, much to learn from them.
There is a common idea in our culture that religion, at its foundation, is nothing more than a fairy tale to help those who are scared of the dark, that faith is blind, that only uneducated, weak people believe. There’s a sense that religion is nothing but merely wishful thinking for those who aren't themselves thinkers, that Christianity is a man-made religion with no connections to facts, reality, history, or evidence.
But that begs the question: What of those who are thinkers, who are academically accomplished, who take their beliefs seriously as something substantive, worth believing, and for good reason. There’s something more than wishful thinking. Are they all deluded as a skeptic might suppose? Or could it be that an intelligent, thoughtful, serious-minded person may actually have investigated the claims of Christ and Christianity for themselves and found them to be convincing and true? This especially raises eyebrows for those who were skeptics of faith and then find themselves to become one of Christianity's most passionate proponents. Such a dramatic shift, from disbelief to belief, causes you to lean in and question what comparing evidence it must have taken to cause someone like them to change not only their views about God but change their entire life, helping others to see and know the truth about Christ that they’ve found.
Today's story is just that. Vince Vitale was a thinking skeptic who did the hard work of investigating the claims of the Christian worldview and did not find them wanting. Rather, he became convinced that they were not only true, but they led him to the Author of all truth, Jesus Christ, and that his life has never been the same. Come and listen to his fascinating story.
Welcome to Side B Stories, Vince. It’s so great to have you with me today.
Oh, it's wonderful to be with you. I appreciate the invitation.
Excellent. So the listeners can know a little bit about you, Vince, before we get started, can you give them an idea of perhaps where you life, a little bit of your life, maybe your academic background, and the things that you’re involved with now?
Sure. I live currently in East Palo Alto, California. I've been here for just over a year. My wife, Jo, and our two kids, Raphael and JJ, now four and two years old. We were in Atlanta before that. We drove out here in our little Kia, and once you… At the time, they were even a bit younger. So once you include their two car seats and the pack and play and the stroller, it wasn't much room, so it was quite an adventure.
Oh, I bet!
But we loved it. We loved it and seeing a lot of the country. We’ve been out here for about a year now. We're part of a house church community that has really been family to us, welcomed us with open arms at a very difficult season in our lives. So we've been so thankful for that, and we’ve just felt like this has been a place of provision for us in a time when we really needed it. And we're close enough to the beach that I can get out to surf every couple weeks, which is a particular joy of mine. So I’m very thankful for that as well. Before that, we were actually in England. My wife is from England. We met in graduate school there. I was there for twelve years and then, before that, in New Jersey, which is where I was born and where I grew up and stayed through college.
So you graduated both Princeton and Oxford, right?
Yes. That’s right. Yeah. Princeton was my undergrad.
And what was the focus of your study?
It was both philosophy and theology, religion. Interestingly, I got to Princeton not as a Christian but as somehow knowing that I wanted to study philosophy, even though I had never taken a philosophy class in high school. It wasn’t offered at my high school, but somehow I just knew those were the types of questions I asked and the way my mind worked. And I've always thought there was a faithfulness of God in that, in that He put me on a trajectory that aligned with what I ultimately was called to, even before my heart was in a place where I could understand why that would be the case.
That’s fascinating. Really interesting when you can look back and reflect on that and see God's hand in your life and the way that you were guided. And one other thing: Don’t you have a new opportunity in your life, something to do with Unbelievable? from Premier Radio?
Yes. That’s right. Thank you, Jana. I'll be one of the hosts for the Unbelievable? podcast, which I’m really thankful for, especially because I feel like those types of conversations, as I assume we'll get into more even on this podcast, conversations between Christians and non-Christians in a constructive manner were such a big part of my own story. The questions I was asking initially, it would have been very easy for Christians to dismiss me, and they didn't. They actually disagreed with me really well. And so that’s part of my story.
Wonderful! And we will…. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Unbelievable? podcast, we’ll put a link in the episode notes, so that you can find it. All right. It sounds like that you have had an intriguing life. I am curious, as someone…. Obviously you’re a deep thinker. Even going into college, you knew you were asking big questions. So let's back way up. Let's start in your childhood. And, Vince, tell us about what your family home was like. Where did you live? Where did you grow up? Was God a part of that picture? Did you go to church? All of that. Let’s start there.
Sure. Okay. I grew up in New Jersey, Italian-American cultural background. I guess if you had asked my family if we were Christians, people would have said, “Well, of course. We’re Italians. Therefore, we're Christians.” It was part of the ethnic heritage, an important part of the ethnic heritage, but didn't generally reflect what we believed or how we went about our lives. So that's my cultural background.
And from a religious perspective, again, it was cultural, ethnic, something we didn't think about too much throughout the year, and then, at like 10 pm on Christmas Eve, somebody would say, “You know what? We should go to Midnight Mass!” And then we’d gather up everyone and once a year maybe we would go to church. So I don't remember, as a young person, meeting many people who thought very seriously about questions of faith or for whom belief in God made a very significant difference. In terms of whether people believed in God or not, I wasn't able to discern a significant difference in terms of what life looked like, so I guess that's a bit about my background and maybe why I was asking the big questions of life but not clearly coming to the position of belief in God.
So it was just something out there that you did on occasion, on Christmas, and really not much more than it. But again, you referred to yourself in a sense that you were a question asker. You were inquisitive. Yeah. Even as a child, I guess you were starting to just think about things, think about life or questions. What kinds of things were you thinking about?
Yeah. That’s right. I mean, as you were saying that, I was just remembering. So I came across this letter to Santa a number of years ago. It was actually written on a paper plate. And so I have this paper plate, all yellowed around the edges, and as kids, my brother and I, we used to put letters in the chimney, and then Santa would, whisk them away, and we would hope to get what we asked for from Santa. And so, one Christmas—I think, based on the writing, I was just learning to write cursive, and so I think I was probably like six, seven years old, and I wrote on this paper plate, “Dear Santa and God, was God ever born?” And I put it in the fireplace.
So there's a couple of interesting things about that. One, at a very young age, I'm realizing there are some difficult questions. Like there's a little bit of explaining to do when it comes to God. Okay, was God ever born? If not, can something just not have a beginning? So I was starting to ask questions like that, which explains a little bit the philosophy education later. But it's also very interesting that I wrote, “Dear Santa and God,” because I think, in my mind, I had trouble pulling them apart. They were conflated. Santa and God were both people who could see the way I was acting, were keeping a record of good and bad. You didn't want to be on their bad side. You might get good things if you're good. You get bad things if you’re bad. And they come by…. Again, maybe we’d go to church once a year. They come by once a year, and they don't stay long enough to say hello. It’s not something that would be relational, but both Santa and God were both this far off, disconnected thing in my mind. So yeah, that paper plate in some ways encapsulates my early childhood. I was asking difficult questions, seeing that there were these difficult questions that needed to be explained in some way, if God was going to make sense, but also having a very thin understanding of who God might be and having trouble differentiating between Santa and God. So then, I think, at some point, when Santa didn't exist, when I learned that Santa didn't exist, it then raises the question, especially if you think of Santa and God as very similar. “Okay, that was just a myth. And maybe this is just a myth as well.”
So is that where you landed there for a while? It was just this concept, that perhaps was a childish way of thinking about good and bad, and maybe it was motivating me to be good for a little while, but that’s not really real.
Yes. I think that's right. I think when I started to ask some of my hard questions about God to people who believed in Him, I often didn't get very robust answers. Maybe I had some reasons to question, “Why would God exist?” if Santa didn't, but it was also convenient for me, because I wanted to be my own god. I didn't like the idea of someone being superior to me, being better than me.
I wanted very much to have control over my own life and very much had a philosophy of life which was, “You take control of your own life. You work hard. You are successful. You win this one big competition. You’re better than other people. You work to be the best, and that's where your value comes from.” And so if you, in a sense, surrender control of your life to someone else, well, then, “How am I supposed to have any value? Because all of my value comes from me controlling things and putting in the effort, and therefore being rewarded with things because of what I’ve achieved.” And there were things going on in my culture. There were things going on in terms of my family background, beginning to ask hard questions and maybe not getting robust answers, but it also was convenient for me to not take God very seriously because of the way I wanted to be at the center of things.
So it was easy to leave behind and blaze your own trail, I guess, especially, like you say, as someone who's driven towards achievement. So as you were growing up, you were pushing those kind of questions to the background, at least with regard to God and religion and faith. I'm curious. As you were growing up and just maybe dismissed that, did you give any thought to really what that was? What was religion? As a thinker, I'm thinking, “Okay, if that's not real, if that’s just perhaps made up, or maybe nobody really believes it,” what was religion in your mind? All these people who went to services on Christmas, what was all that even for? What was that?
Yeah. That’s an interesting question. I think to some extent I probably felt like it was something for the weak to some extent. If you needed someone else to tell you what was true about life, if you needed someone else to do the things for you in life that you can’t do for yourself…. I remember even at times in my youth coming up with my own philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, whatever word you want to use paradigms for what was valuable in life and how you were supposed to order your priorities, but it was very much I, Vince, in the late 20th century, as an individual. “I'm going to figure out the way it's supposed to be. I'm going to figure out the correct philosophy. Everybody else has it wrong, and now, of all the billions of people who have lived….” Again because life was one big competition. And I, in sports and in academics, I had done well at things, and so it reinforced this idea of, “Okay, yeah. That’s a way that I can see the world and I can do well and I can have value. Because I can do well at sports, be better than other people. I can do well in academics, be better than other people.” And so now, when it comes to the deep questions of life, “Okay, let me create my own philosophical mindset.” That kind of thing. Nobody else was smart enough to figure this out yet. “It's of the universe, but now I figured it out.” And it sounds very silly and arrogant, and it was, but it's kind of the natural conclusion and the natural place that you come to, if you think life is all about one big competition. Whatever it is, sports, academics, or your philosophy of the universe, you need to create it yourself, and it needs to be better than everyone else's.
And yet, even during this time, when I think I was just resisting God in my heart in a really serious way, I now look back, and there are a few moments where—probably many moments when He was reaching out to me. But there are a few that I now look back on and think, “Whoa! How gracious of God to interact with me in that way, give me that experience, at a time when I had my hand up to Him saying, ‘No, thank you.’” Just one example: I was in high school, and I rear-ended a car in front of me. And so we get out of the car, and the man says we should exchange insurance. And so I go back to the car. I’m thinking, “Oh, this is terrible!” I go back to the car and get my insurance. Sick to my stomach. We walk towards each other. I go to give him my insurance card, and it's like something just stopped him. I would now say the Holy Spirit just stopped him. And he looked me, and he said, “You know what? My family's going through a really hard time. Why don't you just agree to pray for us, and we'll just leave it at that?”
Oh, my! That’s unusual!
Yeah. Right? And at the time…. Now, I reflect back on that, and I think, “What an incredible encounter!” Here’s someone…. My mistake had a cost for him, but he was the owner of that car. He had the right to say, “You know what? I'm going to take this cost on myself.” He still had to go get that car repaired. “In taking that cost on myself, instead I'm going to invite this stranger, who's done nothing but actually harm me and my property, into relationship with me and my family.” I mean, it was this beautiful depiction of the gospel. At the time, I wouldn't have been able to put any of that wording to it, but I did walk away deeply moved and thinking, “That is not how I would have responded in that situation. There’s something going on in that guy’s heart which is different from what’s going on in my heart.” So even amidst all of this keeping God at arm’s length, God was very gracious and reaching out to me in a variety of ways.
Yeah. That was a beautiful picture of grace. But it seems to me that you were, like I think a lot of people…. All of us find ourselves in this situation. And many times where we’re independent, we’re fine on our own. “I’ve got this.” You obviously had some skill, some talent athletically, intellectually. You were able to achieve what you wanted to achieve, and so it sounds to me as if you had no felt need for God. Like you say, that you were the strong. You were the one who's got it in control. You’re the one who's going to figure it out. And that you had no need of God. And I think a lot of people find themselves in that place. They don't need the control or the interference or however they perceive God to be. But yet you've got this amazing picture, like you were in a little place of need-
… and you received grace. That's incredible!
Yeah. That's a great way to put it. That's absolutely right. I think that's what it was. It was God prodding me, trying to show me, “You do have need. You do have need. You couldn’t take a breath if it wasn't for me.” And part of it, I think, was, you have to do quite a bit of self-deception to get to the place of feeling you don't have any need. And part of that, for me, was always rationalizing that I had been right, and other people had been wrong. When there was conflict in relationship, when I had hurt people, it couldn't be the case that I was actually wrong and in need of forgiveness, even in need of a Savior. So I needed to use my persuasive abilities as a budding philosopher to always convince others and convince myself that I had been in the right and they had been wrong.
So I think you're right. I think I was in this place of not thinking I had a need. Part of that was because circumstantially I had been able to be good at some of the things that you’re told to be good at as a kid, but then it also required quite a bit of self-deception on my part as well, to always find a way, persuasively, philosophically in my head to place myself in the right and other people in the wrong.
Right. Yeah. I think sometimes it’s easy to put ourselves in those places. You had mentioned that, even prior to going to Princeton, that you were a young man who liked to think about big ideas. That, going into Princeton, that’s why you pursued philosophy. What kinds of questions or ideas were you considering even as a high schooler prior to college that made you want to go on that trajectory?
Oh, yeah. Testing my memory now. I remember thinking about questions like, “Where did everything come from?” Which I still think is an amazing question and one that people spend far too little time thinking about. Sometimes we can go our whole lives without taking a few steps back and going, “Where did all of this come from?”
And the intricacy of the fact that we're sitting here as cognitive beings, talking to each other over a technological platform that’s somehow beaming stuff through the air. It’s all just incredible. So I think I had—maybe it was God given—an innate sense of awe and wonder at the reality of life. And that caused me to think hard about things. I think I thought quite a bit about love and purpose, some of the big questions of life. I thought about what it meant to live a good life, what was the good life.
There was quite a bit of idealism, I think, in my childhood as well, that sort of… partly because I hadn't dealt with much suffering yet, I had been good at the things I put my hand to, and so there was kind of sense of, “Anything is possible,” which I now think is true. True with God because of His power, not because of my power and my ability. So, there was this sense in which a lot of what I was striving towards and my thinking and my mind, there were remnants of truth in it, but they didn't make full sense if I was at the center of the universe and I was the one who needed to both come up with these answers and live out the ideals that I had in mind.
Right. So yeah. If you're skeptical of God being present or pervasive in this world in any way. I would imagine trying to figure out some of those big questions and issues would have been somewhat challenging without kind of a source of reality. When you were asking those big questions, and even going into Princeton when you’re starting into a rigor of asking those big questions, did that prompt you to think, “Well, how is all of this possible if God doesn’t exist?” Did it cause you to reconsider that as an option, as more than just a Santa Claus figure that you had dismissed?
Yes, I think so. At least to the extent of: Did there have to be some sort of cause to the universe? Did that cause need to be intelligent in some respect? But even as I began to think about some of those questions, even as I began to take philosophy classes at Princeton, it was also still very convenient for me to keep any conception of God that I might have—I don’t know if I would have used that language—even any conception of a first cause—as still quite detached and far away, more of a deistic understanding. Something that would allow me to explain certain things that seemed to need explaining but also wouldn't have much bearing on my own life, wouldn't infringe on my life and my control of it and the way that I wanted to live it.
And probably I thought more along those lines until I came into contact with Christians and a Christian community in particular, where… I think up until then it was like, “Well, I have some thoughts about these big questions of life, and everybody else does, too. And nobody has very much confidence in them, and I've been able to reason better than those people to this point, so my thoughts are probably better than most people's thoughts.”
And then I encountered a community of people that had a confidence about their understanding of the universe and God’s place in it, and that was drastically different than anything I had experienced to that point, and that caused a lot of cognitive dissonance for me. I didn't know what to do with that. And they seemed in a much better place than me with respect to their understanding of and their experience of reality. And probably even the competitor in me was bothered by that, and me wanting to do more thinking.
Right. Yeah. So who were these people exactly? And how did you encounter… because oftentimes we, especially if you think that you're fine without God and religious believers are a little bit weak-minded and those kinds of things. I’m just curious: How did your paths cross? I’m presuming you’re speaking of Christians that you encountered or some kind of community of Christians?
How did that happen actually?
Yes, yes. Who were these people that turned my life upside down?
Who were these people? Yeah!
Who were they?
And it was amazing. In some ways, it's a superficial answer. Soccer teammates.
One of the amazing things about sports is that you bring together in not just a superficial way but in quite a deep, “We’re bonded to each other,” way, a great diversity of people, all because we happen to be able to kick a ball reasonably well. And so I was on the soccer team as a freshman, just starting at Princeton. And there were two sophomores who were serious about their faith, who were Christians. I didn't know this at the time. They invited me to a meeting of Athletes in Action, which is a Christian fellowship. I didn't know what a campus ministry was. I didn't know what a Christian fellowship was. I didn't know what the word evangelical meant. I mean, all of this would have been outside the box of my awareness. I knew it was something Christian, and I had a kind of cultural Christianity in my background, but the bottom line was it had “athlete” in the title, Athletes in Action, and I was being invited by two teammates of mine, so that was enough for me to go along.
We were a few minutes late to this first meeting, and I remember walking in the back of the room, and one of the most impactful split-second moments of my life was when I walked in and I saw these Princeton students, peers of mine, other people who had fought their whole life to be the best, to be praised as perfect, and they were singing their hearts out to this invisible God. And I instinctively immediately knew, “Whatever these people mean when they say that they’re Christian is different from what my family and cultural background means by that term.” And then I began to just observe this and even listen to the lyrics of some of the songs, and I realized, “These Princeton students are praising, worshiping this God, precisely because of how much greater He is than them.”
But remember my philosophy of life was that life was all about being the best, being better than other people. If somebody was better than you, that made them an enemy, and then you had to do everything you can to try to top them, and here were these successful Christians students humbling themselves, singing their hearts out, and this intimacy, treating God like their best friend, when the fact that He was greater than them should have made Him an enemy. So I don't know if I could have put all that language to it at the moment, but I do think that that's what I was experiencing and what I was feeling. And I walked out of that meeting, and I can remember that I began to pray an agnostic’s prayer. I thought, “These people know something and have experienced something that I don't know and I haven’t experienced,” and bothered me. And I can remember philosophically reasoning to myself that, “If there is a God, He would honor a prayer of this sort: God, I don't know if I'm talking to anyone, but if I am I would really like to know about it.” And I began to pray that prayer after my experience of that meeting.
Was that prayer answered in any way?
It was. It was eventually. And that was a process. And I'm so thankful for this community that came alongside me. This Athletes in Action community came alongside me in that journey. I was challenged to read the Bible. I started with the New Testament. I hadn’t really read through it before. And I was challenged to read before I made a decision about faith, and when I first began to work through this Bible that I was given, I would actually cross things out, when I disagreed. I would add things, what I thought I knew better. I actually have this old Bible where I'd write a big “BS” in the margin where I disagreed. Not for Bible study.
Unfortunately. And so looking back now, I think, “Well done, Christian brothers and sisters,” because I would have been so easy to dismiss. Like, “Here’s a guy. We tell him to read the Bible. He’s literally crossing things out and writing BS in the margin of his Bible.” It would’ve been easy for them to just say, “Hey, let's move on to the next guy. This guy is just too far from that. He's too arrogant in his own thinking.”
But they journeyed with me.
But how amazing that you actually took the challenge.
And you opened a Bible. And you actually read it for yourself, rather than just presuming what you knew was in it or dismissing it out of hand. You actually opened it and started reading. The things that were giving you trouble, were they the miraculous? The seeming supernatural? Or, like, “Oh, this can never have happened!” That kind of thing? Or were there also some surprises like, “This is not what I thought it was. This is more historical in nature.” Or any thoughts? What were you thinking as you were reading through the Bible for the first time?
Yes. All of the above. And I like how you point out, “But, hey! You did take the challenge.” And even in that, there's a real graciousness of God, because it was probably partly my competitiveness, which in some ways had been my downfall in terms of my understanding of spirituality and what was in my heart. And yet even that God was able to use as part of my story. Maybe I wasn't that interested, but nobody challenges me, and I don't do it, so, “I'll take the challenge, I’ll read the Bible, and I'll read it faster than anybody else read it!” So I didn't like the idea that other people knew the Bible better than I did. They were able to speak with competence about the Christian ideas in a way that I was not able to. So there were probably very mixed motives in my heart, some good, some bad, but God was able to use even that.
And I began to read through, only having read snippets before. I found myself very drawn to the person of Jesus, the way that He carried Himself, the way that He treated people. “You who are without sin, throw the first stone.” “Pray for your enemies.” “Love your enemies.” “Pray for those who persecute you.” “Do to others as you would have done to yourself.” I’m reading of all of these noble lines, and I'm attracted to the person of Jesus, but then, like you said, I then get to claims of virgin birth and resurrection, and I think, in part, I just thought, “It’s too crazy to believe.”
But then I took the challenge, and I kept reading, and in particular, when I got to the Acts of the Apostles, that history of the early church after the Gospels, I started to come across all sorts of words that I never expected to see in the Bible, words like “examined” and “convinced” and “explained” and “debated” even “proved.” “Persuaded.” I read that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians. Why? Not because they took some blind leap of faith, but it says, “Because they examined the scriptures daily to determine if what they were being told was true.” And the more I read through in particular Acts of the Apostles and saw how much the early church was spending their time reasoning with people and saying, “This is believable.”
By the end of that book, I had to say to myself, “Okay, this is actually not a faith that’s asking me to take a blind leap of faith or to park my brain at the door,” and that was very important to me because I was already studying philosophy. I felt that would lack integrity, and I had to come to the conclusion, “This is a faith that's asking me to love God with my mind.” And that at least opened the door for me to pursue that further.
Wow. So you invested enough to be willing. It sounds like curiosity, competition, challenge at the beginning, but then there was something that grabbed you. Of course, the person of Christ grabbed you, and then the narrative grabbed you, and then the seeming intellectual rigor of it somehow grabbed you. So take us along this path. What happened? Did you continue to… I mean obviously you're wrestling with some difficult issues of what you're finding, but I guess it's still pulling you in the direction towards belief.
Yes. And at this point, it's a whirlwind going on in my mind as I’m trying to get my head around all of these new ideas and keep up with my classes and sports. But I was. You’re right. I was grabbed by the person of Jesus, and that kept me investing. Even by the time I got to the end of the gospels, I realized, “Boy, Jesus made some really incredible claims about Himself.” And maybe, having read snippets, I knew that to some extent, and I probably thought, “Oh, people probably made up a couple of those later.” But it wasn't until I read through in its entirety that I realized, “These are all over the place. There’s dozens of them,” you know?
Yeah. For those who are listening, what kinds of claims was Jesus making about Himself?
He’s claiming that your eternal destiny is dependent on what you believe about Him. That if you believe in Him, even though you die, you will live. He's claiming that He’s the Lord of the Sabbath, when it was talking about what we're allowed to do on the Sabbath or not. I mean, the Sabbath is one of the ten commandments from a Christian perspective. He's the Lord. He has authority over the Sabbath. He’s referring to himself most frequently as Son of Man, which I learned around the time refers back to Daniel 7 and this sort of eschatological picture of God coming on the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man. He claimed to exist before Abraham, who existed thousands of years ago. All these claims! He claimed to forgive sin, not just sin against Himself, but to just be able to blanket make a statement that someone sins are forgiven. And that's a very weird claim. If one person sins against another, I can't just pronounce that the person's sin is forgiven when it's not even against me. All of these claims. And I feel like the force of that when I read through the gospel straight through and saw that there are dozens of these types of claims popping up. I thought, “Boy, there’s a really good case to be made that historically Jesus was making some absolutely radical claims about Himself,” which leaves you with only so many options in terms of how you think about Him.
He could have been a vicious liar, but it would have to be a vicious liar, because He knew full well that his best friends were getting persecuted and ultimately going to be killed for believing what he was telling them. It could be that He was severely mentally ill and had deep, deep deceptions about who He was, and that just doesn't align, to me, with the composure that you see in His life throughout the gospels. It could be that He’s actually telling the truth, which seemed remarkable, but if you don't have any other good alternatives, then all of a sudden it becomes viable.
So that was significant for me. I kept reading, I got to 1 Corinthians 15, you know? The gospels had spoken about Jesus' resurrection, but then, in particular, when I got to 1 Corinthians 15, and there's this list of people that Jesus appeared to after He clearly had been killed. And I learned around the time that scholars take much of that beginning of 1 Corinthians 15 and in particular the content of it to be extremely early, to be dated to within months or a couple of years of Jesus' death. Not just Christian scholars, but scholars in general. And that was extremely significant for me, because I had just sort of assumed that the idea of a resurrection would have been something that developed in a legendary way over time. Nobody really believed that in the first generation but probably six, seven, eight generations later, you have slow, incremental changes, and now people believe something crazy. This passage, this early creed in 1 Corinthians 15, which predates the letter, it confronted me with the reality that, in that first generation, there were many people who were walking around utterly convinced that they were spending time with this man, after He clearly had been killed. And so it then raised the question, what explains that?
And I understood that, from a Christian perspective, that is explainable by the actual resurrection of Jesus. When I then went looking for other alternative explanations, I found them to be very wanting or even nonexistent in many cases. And so again, gradually, through this process of reading through the scriptures and thinking my way through the scriptures, in the context of community, I was coming more and more to the realization that this is a rational faith. This is a faith that can be defended, and it's quite amazing. In the same way that the apostles were doing in the Acts of the Apostles, you know? Acts 17. It also says God has provided proof to everyone by raising Jesus from the dead, and that's what they were persuading people of in that first generation, and now, 2000 years later, I'm reading through and having conversations with Christians, and it's the very same arguments that are having an impact on me.
So it sounds like, through your study and through your conversation with those who were informed, you yourself were becoming more convinced that perhaps God exists, and Jesus is God, and that He died and rose again, and that resurrection was not just some historical event, but it meant something for you personally.
Yes. And that's why it was so significant that I was going through this intellectual process, but it was in the context of a community I was observing, and again, I don't know if I could have put this language to it, but I think it was almost like I was saying, “Okay, this is what the conclusions that my reasoning seems to be coming to. In the community that I'm seeing live together, am I seeing lived out in practice the conclusions that I'm coming to here?” If there really was a resurrection from the dead, if the scriptures are actually accurate in saying that the same spirit that rose Jesus from the dead comes to live within the believer, am I actually seeing a difference in this community that would make sense of that? And over time, I found that that was the case.
And I feel like it was experiences with this community aligned with the conclusions I was coming to by reasoning things through, that really made me feel, “This makes sense in my head, and it makes sense in my heart,” and that's what I would expect. If God made all of me, then he would want His existence to make sense to me in a holistic way.
So I'm sitting here, thinking of this young man who, prior to coming to Princeton and meeting this amazing community, you were a young man who… you described yourself as arrogant. And pursuing self achievement and competitive and not wanting anyone to tell you what to do basically, that you had it figured out. Now, when it comes to this Christian community and seeing the humility involved with their faith, like you had described earlier, that they were worshiping a God Who’s bigger and greater and grander than they are. And that somehow they had submitted themselves in worship to this person Jesus, Who received worship, Who claimed to be God and He received worship. And somehow He’s worthy of it. I'm thinking how you might have been wrestling with coming to grips with the idea of, “What if this is true? What does this mean for me, for my life, for the way that I see myself, the way that I see my own life? C.S. Lewis says, “Is this the hound of heaven, coming to interfere? Break and be the iconoclast who breaks all of my-
… my preconceptions of who He is and who I am,” and I'm sure that there must have been some wrestling? Or was it just a simple kind of like, “No. This is true,” and somehow, like you say, in your heart, you kind of turned towards, “This is really what I want. If this is true,” then your desires kind of conformed to that reality.
Yes. I think it's a very perceptive question, because I probably could have gotten to this point in my journey and still never really surrendered myself to Christ. I could have gotten to a point of intellectual assent and even admiration for Jesus and for the community that He had set up, or that I had experienced in this context, at least, without actually being this sense of, like you said, humbling myself and actually worshiping Jesus. That was another step on my journey. And for me, it really came later in my journey. This happened over a period of about nine months, from when I first went to that meeting to when I actually gave my life to Jesus.
But later in that process was a point where, and I think the Lord just knew when the right timing was for me, when knew enough to experience this in the right and most helpful way, but I really felt the conviction of sin in my life, and in some ways, really, for the first time in a deep and sustained way. Again, because I was so adept and in the habit of rationalizing and explaining away my sin beforehand. But now it was clear to me—and I think that was gift of the Holy Spirit. It was clear to me that certain things were wrong in my life, certain things I was doing were wrong, and I can remember…. So now I'm in sort of like two worlds, right? The Holy Spirit’s convicting me of sin, but there’s still part of me that's like, “But I'm in control. I’m powerful. I'm the divine one. I can make what I want of my life.” So I had this conviction of sin from the Spirit. And I sort of accepted that.
And I can remember thinking to myself, “Okay, well, if now I believe that that's wrong, I'll just stop doing that. On my strength. I’ll just sort of flip the switch, and we won't do that anymore.” And I can remember trying to do that and falling flat on my face. And then thinking, “Okay, I obviously didn't try hard enough. Okay, now I'll try harder.” Flat on my face. “Okay, now I need to try as hard as I possibly can. Okay, now let me try as hard as I possibly can.” Flat on my face. And it was sort of the first time in my life where I came to and was willing to accept the conclusion that I'm actually weak. There's sin in my life that I am helpless to do anything about, to even understand fully without the help of Someone Who’s greater than me. And that was very much the most significant place that I needed to come to in my heart. And it was really essential that I came to that place before I made a commitment to Christ. I had to get to a place where I was ready to see Jesus as my Savior. I think, before then, I might have even been willing to say, “Look, logically it makes sense. Rationally, yep. He’s God. He’s the one that actually created the universe,” but that's different than saying, “And I required saving, and He saved me.” So that was a very important part of my story.
Yeah. Sometimes it just is a process, isn’t it. And I think sometimes we need to be patient with ourselves and with others, as they're trying to figure things out and moving in the direction of God. I love your honesty there. It's very transparent. Because we are all guilty. I think the word says we’re all guilty. And we are.
And we all need saving from ourselves. And that takes such a posture of humility, that is oftentimes, for all of us, unnatural. It’s an unnatural state. But once you get there, it seems like there's a lot of freedom that comes from that, and a burden that is lifted once you give that burden to Christ. So I'm wondering. I'm sure your life changed quite a bit after you came to that place of surrender, not only in your life, in your pursuits and the way you answered questions, but it probably, in a sense, as a thinker, I would imagine asking these big questions, you can see how the reality of God really does bring things into focus, in terms of it does help answer the big questions of life. As a philosopher, how is it, through being a believer in Christ, you believe the word, and that it’s not for weak-minded individuals. It’s actually a pretty robust worldview to believe in. How has it shaped your understanding, really, of things intellectually and in your life?
Yes. I love that you used the word freedom. That's probably the word that most characterizes what my experience was of making that decision to surrender my life to Christ. Not everyone has a specific moment, but for me, there was a moment in my dorm room. I was in 122 Joline Hall, and it wasn't… I was reading a book at the time, but it wasn't like there was something very specific in that book. I think God just knew it was the right time, in terms of the process He had taken me on in both my head and my heart and the context of community, to give me the gift of faith. And I just somehow knew in my spirit, in a way that so far transcended any of my calculations or philosophizing, that God was real, that Jesus was Who He claimed to be, that He was present with me, that He loved me, what He had done for me. Nobody was in the room, but I dropped to my knees, and I exclaimed out loud. I said, “Oh, my gosh! This really happened!”
And freedom, I think, was the experience. And since then, this freedom to stop competing to be loved and to start enjoying it. There was no rest before that, because I always had to compete for my value and to be loved. And now I could rest in that and just enjoy being loved. And yet I competed harder than ever, whether it was on the sports field or with my academic studies, but it actually wasn't a competition against other people. It was an opportunity to worship God in gratitude for what He had given me.
Now it’s like, “Well, I’m not doing this for myself. I’m doing this for the God of the universe.” So, interestingly, sometimes people think, “Okay, well God gives us our value. God loves us no matter what, so we don't really need to work hard at anything.” At least my experience was I felt the freedom to work harder and to really pour myself into the things that I was passionate about because now it was, “Well, this is not just my individual preference. This is a calling given to me by God. There's something eternal about this. The good things will last for eternity. They’re not just transient. They won't just pass away. This isn't just for myself. This is honoring Someone Who has done so much for me, Who gave their life for me. And this is my opportunity to give my life back to them in service.”
So I found that there was a freedom, a rest, but even in that rest, a passion to pursue the things that I had been inclined to with even more tenacity.
That’s so beautiful. What a tremendous paradigm shift, really. In the way that you… Like you say, I appreciate that, that you're still working… You’re working hard, but it's with a different lens. It's with a different perspective and a different motivation. And you're still striving for excellence. It’s just the motivation is different.
That’s right. And the goodness of God that, again, He actually wove into my story things that he had given early on in life, even when I didn't know what to do with them, like an ability to persuade. From a young age, I was good at persuasion. I debated with people a lot, but I generally just used that to my advantage. How could I persuade people that I was better than I was? Persuade myself into a situation? Persuade people that they were wrong and I was right? And yet, there was something in the persuasion that was good. It was just corrupted.
Now, in the context of my Christian life, I wound up on a missions trip.
I didn't know what a missions trip meant. I just knew we were going down to this conference. I knew it had a Christian element to it, but it was actually a trip where you walked the beach and shared the gospel with other people who were down there for spring break, looking for lots of things other than hearing the gospel, but an older brother in Christ sort of took me under his wing. We walked on the beach. He gave me a couple opportunities to just share about what God was doing in my life and the journey I had been on. And as I did, there's one man whose face I can still remember, because as I shared with him, I don't know exactly what happened in his heart, but I remember seeing in his eyes like something was making sense. Some sort of burden was falling away, and there was kind of a clarity, and he was seeing Jesus more for who Jesus really is.
And it was like, in that moment, I knew that's what I was made for. I knew I was supposed to spend… I didn’t know exactly what forms, but in one way or another, I was supposed to spend the rest of my life telling people about Jesus, and persuading people of Jesus, not in a manipulative way, but sharing with them the truths of both the mind and the heart that I had experienced. And so there's just this beauty where I knew in some ways that I was geared toward persuasion. That’s why I was already choosing to study philosophy before I ever came to faith. But now it was like, “Oh! Now I get it. Now I understand why I have such this inclination towards persuasion, because You’ve actually built me to share You with others,” and I would have been just chasing a perishable crown of getting people to think better of me or getting myself into situations I didn't really deserve to be in. Now I'm actually using the same gift, but for an imperishable crown, for things of eternal significance.
So, I was so thankful for that, and yes, a lot changed, in terms of both my intellectual perspective on things and my personal experience of life. One of those things for me, which I'm so thankful for, was about asking for forgiveness, because before I came to think I would never ask for forgiveness, never ever, because that meant I was wrong, which meant I wasn't better than other people, which meant I wasn't valuable, which meant I was a lovable, and, you know, go down the whole spiral. So I couldn't ask for forgiveness. And so I then had to live with a lot of self-deception about why I was right and other people were wrong.
And this was partly cultural. In my Italian-American background, in my family, people really didn't do reconciliation. They got mad at each other, and then they didn't talk until no one could remember why they were mad in the first place. And then one person would show up at the other person's doorstep with a tomato plant. And it was always a tomato plant, Italians. And then they'd say, “Oh! Brother!” And then they would hug it out. But no words exchanged, no apology, no forgiveness. And then things would just kind of move forward.
But all that to say, the week that I came to faith, one of the next mornings, I woke up with a flood of conviction about ways that I had hurt people in the past, all instances where previously I had rationalized to myself, got myself to believe that I had been in the right and they had been in the wrong. And now the Holy Spirit was giving me actual clarity of thought about these situations and where I had actually hurt people. Not condemnation, but conviction, almost a freeing conviction, the freedom to actually live in reality and acknowledge truth. And I felt this compulsion to sit down, and I began to just write letter after letter to these people, acknowledging ways that I had hurt them and apologizing, and I saw God do some beautiful reconciliation and peace making through that and have sort of fallen in love with forgiveness, given and received.
But as someone, I mean, again, just to remind our listeners, you are no slouch when it comes to intellectual rigor and you went on from Princeton to Oxford to pursue a degree in philosophy there at the doctoral level. So what prompted you to do that?
It was the goodness of God that I was already studying philosophy. Even when I was not following Him, He sort of set me up to be able to do that, to study something that was aligned with what I was called to. And so my interest became more and more theological but retained a philosophical element as well. And I really got into philosophy of religion, arguments for and against the existence of God, questions about the nature of God. Some of the questions that really can act as obstacles to people taking faith seriously. Some of which acted as obstacles to me to taking faith seriously. And so I had a passion to study those questions. Really because I began to share the faith with people after that experience on that missions trip at the beach. And as I would share my faith with people, people would then have questions. Sometimes very good questions. Sometimes very hard questions. And so, for me, it wasn't just a philosophical interesting questions for the sake of questions. I did have that kind of naturally. I feel like God maybe gave that to me because of what He was going ultimately to call me to, but really the primary motivation to dig deeper in this area was sharing the faith and people asking questions and realizing part of what it meant to love them well would be to take their questions seriously and try to provide them with good answers. And so, even though I was studying philosophy at an academic level, I always thought of it as part of my service to actual people that I was going to meet in a taxi or an Uber or getting a haircut or in the context of community in some way.
Yeah. That’s pretty beautiful. I mean, again, your heart was directed towards God's inner purposes, and that is a sacrifice in itself, that kind of rigor that you experienced but was for the sake of the Lord and for others. That’s amazing!
And I'm thinking, Vince, of those who are intellectually driven, and they, for personal reasons, have resisted the person of God and think they're fine without him. But yet, curious enough, maybe your story has sparked in them an interest to think, “Well, maybe it is true.” What would you say to someone like that, who might be willing to move towards maybe reading the Bible or even saying that agnostic’s prayer or something? How can you encourage someone who is… It sounds like you have these kind of encounters with skeptics a lot, so what would you say?
Yes. Yeah. Thank you. One encouragement I would give would be not to dismiss Christianity because it seems crazy, not to dismiss it because it makes extraordinary, incredible claims. I think that was a mistake that I made. It was almost like all the different philosophies or worldviews were lined up on a race on the starting line, but Christianity starts three steps further back than everyone else because it makes these claims about a virgin birth and the resurrection from the dead. And I think that that was bad reasoning on my part. And so I would encourage people not to think that way. I mean, there are so many things in the world that just are extraordinary. I mean, even at the moment, some of our best versions of quantum physics suggest that the same particle can be in two places at once. That's crazy! But when a quantum physicist says that, we think, “Cool!” But when a Christian says that God is omnipresent, that He can, in some significant sense, be in various places at once, we think, “Oh, that's too crazy to believe.” Don't dismiss Christianity because it seems extraordinary. Actually take a step back and think that through. I mean, even when you think about that question that we started with, “Where did all of this come from?” There are only three options: Either God created it, it just burst into existence out of nothing for no reason whatsoever, or it's just always been here. It just extends infinitely back in time in this universe or through a series of universes but again with no explanation for why that's the case.
And from my perspective, I'm willing to put my hand up and say, “Okay. The idea of an immaterial God creating the universe? That’s extraordinary! That’s awe inspiring!” I'll put my hand up and accept that. But criticism without alternative is empty. Maybe that's the phrase I would leave people with. Don't just criticize a Christian faith because you think it's extraordinary. Think through the alternatives, and you might come to the conclusion, and you think, “Boy, Christians believe in a virgin birth. That’s extraordinary! But you know what? I sort of believe in the virgin birth of an entire universe, because that's the best scientific explanation I have for it. Wow! That’s extraordinary, too!” I think we live in an extraordinary world, and so we shouldn't be surprised if the explanations for that world are quite extraordinary as well.
So don't dismiss Christianity. Actually look into it. Don't criticize without having an alternative, whether it's the beginning of the universe, origin, or whether it's questions of meaning or destiny or purpose or morality. Put the different ways of seeing the world side by side, and even if one seems quite extraordinary say, “Okay, what is the alternative?” And if you can't find an alternative that answers all the questions of life in such a robust way and in such a coherent way, then I think you really need to take Christianity seriously.
And maybe one more thing I’d say, Jana, if that's okay-
… is I really believe that… I resonate with what Pascal said: This is sort of a paraphrase, but he said, “God's given us enough evidence to believe rationally but not so much that we can believe based on reason alone.” And I think that's because He doesn't want just intellectual assent. He wants us to use our minds to pursue Him, to seek Him. He wants our whole selves. He wants that. But also, at the end of the day, He doesn't want people who just intellectually assent to Him. He wants us to know Him in a deeper way, in a relational way. And G.K. Chesterton said there are two ways to choose a coat. One is to look at the dimensions of the coat, what size it is, how long the arms are, the shoulder width. The other way is to try it on. And I think both are important. Like, for me, on my journey, I never would have picked the coat up and tried it on unless I was able to look at the dimensions of science and philosophy and history and say, “Yeah, that looks like it's roughly the right size. That looks reasonable.” But for a season, I felt that, “You know what? I'm not gonna take any sort of vulnerable relational step of commitment toward God until I have all my questions answered, I have perfectly analyzed all of the dimensions, and then I will know with certainty what I want to know to such an extent that then it will be easy for me to make a faith commitment to that thing.”
What I actually found, in my experience, is that the confidence and assurance, the type of knowledge that I longed for, was actually only possible through an act of personal commitment and trust. So there does come a point in this journey where you say, “Yeah, this is rational. This is as rational as any other faith system or worldview that I've been able to compare it to,” and yet at the end of the day, the Lord does say, “Taste and see. Clothe yourself in Christ.” There's a knowledge that transcends just the knowledge of philosophy or history. And there's an invitation to open the door to that knowledge, to take that step when the time is right.
So I think we all, as Christians, are sitting back in admiration in some ways, of you as a very educated Christian, someone who has a heart for engagement ever since that moment on the beach. And we all, I think, want people to know Christ the way that we do, as true and loving and full of grace. But we don't always know the best way to engage with those who really don't believe, and those who are skeptical, those who push back. And so, sitting where you do now, having lived and engaged for a number of years, how would you encourage us as Christians to think about stepping out or stepping forward or engaging in a way that's meaningful as ambassadors for Christ?
I love that question. I'll try to keep it concise, because this is where my heart really gets excited, when people get excited about sharing Jesus with other people, and I think the opportunities are boundless. Take a very simple question, like, “How was your weekend?” How many times will you be asked that question over the course of your life? Say you get asked it five times every Monday for the rest of your life. I mean, that's thousands and thousands of times that you're asked the question, “How was your weekend?” And so often as Christians, we just say, “Fine. Thanks. How was yours?” But if you worshiped the living God in the context of community on a Sunday, I mean, that's not even an honest answer, right? 1 Peter 3 tells us to be prepared to give a response to everyone who asks us for the reason for the hope that we have. And I think sometimes we take that much too narrowly, like, “Okay, let me be prepared for the specific instance where someone says, ‘Hey, can you tell me about the hope that you have in Christ?’” And we don't realize that those opportunities are there all the time. If you have worshiped the living God in the context of community on a Sunday, the question on Monday, “How was your weekend?” is an absolute gift, and it should not take you by surprise. You know full well that question’s coming on Monday. So put some prayer into it, put some thought into it, that you can have this creative, engaging, not manipulative, real answer to that question on a Monday.
I find that oftentimes we find it so difficult to wind up talking about Jesus in conversation because so often we're trying to get from shooting the breeze to Jesus and that's a big jump. But if we could spend more of our time in the middle ground of asking creative questions, having meaningful conversations about things that matter, Jesus makes His way into those conversations quite naturally. I would say to people… I would say don't water down the faith in your desire for people to commit to Jesus. God doesn't need us to be His marketing campaign, where we try on our own to make Him more appealing to people or think, “Oh, okay. If I put it this way but don't mention that and don't mention that, maybe it'll be a little bit easier for them to make this commitment.” Just remember, Jesus said, “Whoever would come after Me, be My disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.”
So be honest with people. We actually…. You used the word surrender earlier, Jana, and I think that's the right word. We do a disservice to people if we make an invitation to Christ but water it down and make them think it's something less than surrender. Because that's different. It's even different than commitment. There are lots of things I'm committed to. I'm a committed New York Yankees fan. My dad was before me. My son hopefully will be. I’ll be a New York Yankees fan the day I die. But I'm not surrendered to the New York Yankees.
That’s a very different type of relationship, and I think sometimes we have this tendency to think God needs us to sort of re-calibrate His gospel or what it means to follow Him in some ways. Resist that. Resist that temptation.
Pray for God's heart for people. I think that is so significant, because at the end of the day, God will use you when your heart breaks for the lost. So pray for that, because we all can have that. It’s not something we can manifest. It’s something God can give as a gift, and I believe will give to those who ask Him.
And then the last thing I would say is just an encouragement, an encouragement that God is always doing more than we can see, nevertheless. Not too long ago I had an encouragement in this respect with regard to my own story. So I told you that I came to Christ in 122 Joline Hall. That was my dorm room. That's where I dropped to my knees. A few years ago, I was telling my story somewhere, and I didn't normally mention that specific room number, because most people… that doesn't mean anything to anyone. But I happened to say that room number, 122 Joline Hall, and afterwards a woman came to the front, and I could see she was teary, she was emotional, she was moved, and she said, “Did you say 122 Joline Hall?” And I said, “Yes. That was my dorm room.” And she said, “Well, I'm about 15 years older than you, and I went to Princeton, too, and I lived in 121 Joline Hall, next door.” And she said, “I spent my four years in college praying for the salvation of the guys in 122 Joline Hall.” And she said, “All these years, I’ve felt like God didn't hear that prayer, because I never saw that prayer answered, but as you said that from the front, I realized that God not only heard my prayer, but He answered my prayer word for word for the salvation of the guys in 122 Joline Hall.” And so just the graciousness of God, that 15 years before I even would have given Him a second thought, he had someone literally praying for the floor on which I would drop to my knees and give my life to him.
And I guess if you're of a skeptical persuasion, like I was, you could chalk that up to a very great coincidence. But maybe, and I would invite anyone who's listening to consider the fact that maybe God is pursuing each one of us like that, where even years before we thought to give Him the time of the day, He had specific people praying for us, praying for the very locations we would be in, the very times and places in which we ultimately would give our lives to Him.
And how gracious, too, thinking of that woman, just to bring it full circle, to allow her to see, even in this life, the effect that her prayer… I mean it was a blessing for both of you. That didn't need to happen. What are the odds of her hearing your conversion story? I don't know. The more I know about God and walk in this life, the I'm just astounded by the way He’s so personal and so intimate to reveal Himself to those who are looking for Him and who are longing for Him and who have called Him their own. And I'm so taken by that story, but also just, Vince, your life, and it's just such a beautiful testimony to what the Lord can do and will do in people's lives who are willing to look in His direction.
Yes! What a blessing to think how infrequently maybe we see that situation. She happened to be at that talk, I happened to tell that story, and we make that connection. But what a great hope to think, “Wow! How many times will that happen in the context of eternity? How many people will we meet one day, where we said, ‘Whoa! That happened to you? I prayed for that.’” And it gets me excited.
And again, just reflecting on that story with you, it just makes me think that so often our conception of the universe and of reality, it's just so narrow. And accepting Jesus into your life, allowing Him to be the bedrock of existence. There’s a freedom, and it expands our imaginations for what could be possible, the way that we're connected to each other, and what it means to love each other well and to love God well and to be able to enjoy that in the context of community for all eternity.
Yes, I couldn't say anything that would sum anything better than that, Vince. Thank you so very much for coming on the podcast today, for telling the fullness of your story. I feel like in some ways we just scratched the surface. I just feel like there's so much more wisdom and experience there to glean, and I hope that those who are listening will tune in to Unbelievable?, will seek out not only your ministry but also your beautiful wife, Jo Vitale, just such a beautiful, again Oxford grad, just an amazingly beautiful woman of God who expresses the love of Christ and the intelligence of Christ in such compelling ways. So I just am so grateful again for the privilege of having spent this hour and a half with you. What a blessing!
Well, thank you so much. And thank you for your ministry. Jo and I have just received your book, and we're very excited to dig into it.
Thanks for tuning in to Side B Stories to hear Vince’s story. You can find out more about him and his work and ministry and how to connect with him in the episode notes. For questions and feedback about this episode, you can contact me through our email at [email protected]. I'd like to also thank our amazing Side B Stories team for helping with this episode production, Ashley Decker, our producer, Mark Rosera, our audio engineer, and Kyle Polk, our video editor, and of course, the C.S. Lewis Institute for including us in their podcast network.
Also, if you are a skeptic or atheist and you would like to connect with a former atheist or skeptic with questions, please again connect with us by emailing us at [email protected], and we'll get you connected.
I hope you enjoyed this episode, that you'll follow, rate, review, and share this podcast with your friends and your 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.