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News – I think, therefore I believe

December 2007 | by Anastasia Somerville

I think, therefore I believe

Anastasia Somerville was a philosophy student who found that the Bible addressed the apparent meaninglessness of life – and then pointed her towards God.

I left London for Edinburgh in September 2000, excited about beginning my course at Edinburgh University and exploring Scotland. I studied for an MA (Hons) in Philosophy and Politics which reflected my desire for wisdom about life’s ‘big questions’ and my eagerness to put these discoveries into action.

I had a science background and had always been a determined rationalist, so I was drawn to logic and the philosophy of science. I was very sceptical about anything supernatural and believed that there must be naturalistic and evolutionary explanations for the rise of religions and religious practices.

Confidence eroded

But my confidence in science and any kind of ‘certainty’ was eroded by the challenges of philosophical logic. I noticed that my teachers tended to accept and promote the theories that were ‘in vogue’ rather than seeking the most objective explanations. I also noticed that they failed to live out their own claims.

Inside I was anxious and could find no peace. The moral code ‘written’ in my conscience was both irresistible and impossible to follow! I knew that if I ignored my conscience and just lived selfishly I would be miserable. Yet when I tried to obey its moral demands I never succeeded, even to my own limited satisfaction.

I joined a choir and met a German Christian girl who was intellectually honest and possessed a remarkable humility. We discussed everything from how to explain morality to big theological questions like the extent of human free will.

She seemed to make everyday decisions according to an inner moral standard – the very thing that deep down was drawing me away from man-centred ideologies. She turned down opportunities for power, status, money and pleasure and seemed to live counter-culturally but with a strong confidence. I longed to know why she had the strength to do this.

Gideon Bible

I stopped dismissing religious belief and started to study various religions. Christianity, to my surprise, seemed to present the most plausible, consistent and comprehensive theistic worldview. But I needed more evidence before taking a step of faith.

I reached a difficult point in 2001during the summer of my first year at university. I had become disillusioned with the ideals that once moved me and felt that life – with all its fruitless striving and suffering – was meaningless and cruel. I cried out to God with an open mind. I asked him to reveal himself to me if he existed.

There was a Gideon Bible on my bedside table and I opened it randomly at the Book of Ecclesiastes. The words I read so starkly reflected my thoughts that I was startled and continued to read.

It was later that day in my room that I met with God. I looked out my window and everything seemed to be coloured with a new light. Nature seemed to be dressed with a glory and life which I had not known before. God assured me in my heart that I was his – that he loved me dearly and that my purpose would unfold before me as I followed him.

From that moment I knew that whatever life threw at me, there was only one shepherd whose voice I would recognise and follow.

Jesus is God

I continued to read my Gideon Bible and other Christian books and to pray. I also discussed things with yet another Christian girl from Germany who became my flatmate. However, it was not until a few months later, in November, that I recognised Jesus Christ as the incarnation of the God I had come to know and love during the summer.

It was like the disciples’ Emmaus Road experience (Luke 24). My heart seemed to be burning within me while Jesus spoke to me through the Gospel accounts. It was while taking Communion one Sunday that my eyes were opened and I truly recognised for who he is the Christ whose love for us was demonstrated on Calvary’s cross.

I am grateful to the Gideons who placed Bibles in my student hall of residence. Their diligent efforts to place Bibles in schools, universities, hotels and hospitals give harassed and shepherdless people like me the opportunity to hear their creator and find peace and freedom through the Word.

Condensed and reprinted by kind permission of The Gideons International in the British Isles
 
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