To Believe or Not to Believe

Feb 20, 2019

Is truth knowable? How do you choose whom or what to believe? This week, Drs. Vince and Jo Vitale spend time on an important question from an agnostic: "I have read books on both sides of the spectrum for God's existence...Now, to be honest, I have yet to make up my mind partly because [it] is just a huge subject; but I think that both sides can make good arguments for their case...It is not so much the philosophical points or scientific data that prevents me from believing; it is the Bible itself! How can we explain the passages where we read that Pharaoh's army went right into the sea while the Israelites were going through it? If I were Pharaoh, the sight of seeing the red sea split in half would make me at least stop, and consider the miracle right in front of his eyes, not go in there right after them without any deliberation." If you’ve ever wondered the same, you’re in good company. Join us this week to hear how Vince and Jo respond.

Want to talk about this episode with fellow podcast listeners and the RZIM team? Start the discussion on our online community:

Subscribe to the podcast on: iTunes or Google Play.

Follow the Ask Away crew on Twitter:

Vince Vitale - @VinceRVitale
Jo Vitale - @Joanna_Vitale
Michael Davis - @mdav1979

Want to listen to this later?


Note: Ask Away is produced to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Michael Davis: Hello and welcome to another episode of Ask Away with Vince and Jo Vitale. I am your host Michael Davis.

Philosophy and the Christian faith seem to be a contradiction in terms to many people. To many in our secularizing culture, the concepts of reason and logic are antithetical to believing in God. Many would have us believe that to believe in Jesus requires removing one's brain and believing with the heart alone. That said, our faith must be one of assent both intellectually and emotionally. Christianity must be logically and philosophically consistent because it is based on a very real Jesus who taught very real truths, who lived a very real life, and who died a very real death, and who rose again from the dead. So how do we express this amazing truth to people who think that we are simpletons for holding fast to the faith?

But before we get started, Jo, could you tell our listeners a little bit about our university missions Initiative, and how they can help us reach college students with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Jo Vitale: Yeah, this is one of the most exciting things that we do at RZIM. I would love your participation and your prayers in it. Basically, we do a lot of open forums on university campuses, but often that's a sort of one-off evening event. The difference with university mission weeks is that we'll pick a couple of different campuses around the U.S. and different teams doing it in different parts of the world with RZIM and all over Europe and in Canada as well, in Asia and Africa. It's happening everywhere, but we'll spend a whole week on a university campus. The difference here being that then you get a chance to really journey with students, not just spend one evening answering one question, but usually, we'll have two talks at lunchtime and a talk every night. We're flyering during the day. We're having conversations with different students around campus, getting them to answer survey questions, and just having a lot of fun engaging together, taking them out for coffee, spending hours and hours of time just talking through some of the big objections and questions about the Christian faith.

What often happens during these weeks is, because people have space and time to explore, they can move so much further in terms of investigating Christianity and taking steps towards faith than they would have if you just run in and out for an hour and then you leave, and there's no time to really talk things through. So we love this approach. We often take a team with us as well as speakers. This is our busiest mission season right now, usually, this time of year when things are very busy on closed campuses and we're all out engaging this way.

So, yeah, please do be praying for us as this is coming up really soon.

Vince Vitale: One thing that's really exciting about these weeks is the way you see momentum build throughout the week. So people come into the weeks on Monday, and they might be quite a hard skeptic, but by halfway through the week, they're genuinely open, and usually, by the Thursday and the Friday of these weeks, we see many people making commitments to Christ. It's usually encouraging.

I'll just mention one other initiative that we're involved in, and this is a really exciting initiative. We've just gotten involved in it, but a number of the national campus ministries around the country have pulled together resources and people and leadership, and they're doing something called Every Campus. The vision is to really have concentrated prayer for every single campus in America. There are 4,943 of them, and there are 4,164 left to be prayed for in this intentional way as part of this initiative.

You can actually go to and sign up to be someone who's going to intentionally prayer walk a campus. We would love if you did that. The intention for all of this is to cover these campuses in prayer with the ultimate goal of seeing a real gospel presence on every campus across the country. I think it's an amazing vision, and I hope a lot of you will want to be a part of it as well.

Michael Davis: One of the things that I really like about the way that we do university missions or missions in general is that fact that we do partner with local ministries and collegiate ministries so that when we do interact with these young people, that we're not just leaving them, that there's people to follow up, people to be able to guide them in their new faith, so it's really kind of a cool way that we do it.

Vince Vitale: Yeah. Absolutely. And then we'll partner with local churches, you know, as well so that that follow-up can go even deeper and further, and sometimes in the morning prayer meetings, we might have a pastor come from each of four quadrants of the city to do the devotional on each of four successive mornings, so that the people who are coming to faith and who are being brought into community then immediately have an option for a church home that they can plug into.

Michael Davis: That's wonderful.

Okay, let's get to the first question. This is from Leonardo. It's a long one, so it might be the only question.

Vince Vitale: It's a great question.

Michael Davis: It is a great question. Good job, Leonardo.

"I have read books on both sides of the spectrum for God's existence. Ravi's, J.P. Moreland, Dr. Craig's, and more for the affirming side. I have also read some of Sam Harris's, Dennett's, and Hitchens's stuff for their take on the matter. Now, to be honest, I have yet to make up my mind, partly because it is such a huge subject, but I think that both sides can make a good argument for their case.

Now, I also think that Christianity could give us a better picture when it comes to questions about the soul and free will debate. I would grant that Christianity could make its case slightly more persuasive, but it is not so much the philosophical points or scientific data that prevents me from believing, it is the Bible itself. How can we explain the passages where we read that Pharaoh's army went right into the sea while the Israelites were going through it? If I were Pharaoh, the sight of seeing the Red Sea split in half would make me at least stop and consider the miracle right in front of his eyes, and not go in there right after them without any deliberation."

I've always thought about that. I really have. I mean, it's like, have they not seen the movie? You just don't walk in there.

Jo Vitale: Yeah. That is really great.

Leonardo, what I really love about this is how deeply you're wrestling with these questions, and that you're not afraid to actually dive in, dive into the tough stuff and really wrestle with it.

I was speaking what one of my colleagues yesterday, who was talking about some friends that he'd been sharing the Christian faith with over the weekend. He was just getting so frustrated because they were sort of throwing up these haphazard kind of lazy objections to Christianity, which he would respond to, but then rather than digging in deeper, they would immediately throw up another one here and another one there, and it just became really clear they were, basically, using sort of cultural platitudes as an excuse not to look into the question rather than because they really wanted to know.

Eventually, he got so fed up he said, "Look. Like, what breaks my heart here is that you're basically rejecting Christianity on the basis of lies rather than actually being willing to look into it to see whether it's true, which shows me deep down you actually don't really want to ask the question. You'd actually rather not know because then it might change your life and you'd have to engage with some huge implications if it were true, and you're much more happy as you are."

But what I love, Leonardo, is that's not the space you're in. You're having the courage to follow where truth leads rather than being intimidated by the questions. Thank you so much for having the integrity to do that, to read both sides and to dig in deep.

Vince Vitale: Absolutely. Completely agree with that, and I'm always just so encouraged by the freedom and even the encouragement that the Bible gives us to examine evidence. You know, that is not true of every faith. It's not true of many faiths, and it really is true of the Christian faith and the Bible. I find I'm just continually coming across verses and passages that encourage us to do that.

The most recent one I came across was 1 Peter, 1:13. It says, "Therefore with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming." It's just amazing that that's the wording. You might have thought with hearts that are receptive, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you, but it's with minds that are alert and fully sober. I just love, as somebody who really values the life of the mind, and did so even before I was a Christian, I was so thankful that Christianity and the Bible asks me to wrestle intellectually with these questions.

Leonardo, I want to recommend some additional authors and resources to you as well. None of the people you mentioned, some of them are great writers and great thinkers as well, but on the atheist side, they're not actually among the leading contributors in philosophy of religion, which is the academic subdiscipline which is most focused on this question that you're seeking after the existence of God. And sometimes some of the more popular authors are relying on certain methodologies and assumptions and approaches to philosophy of religion that are outdated, sometimes by as much as 80 years or more. You may be surprised when you dig deeply into some of the contemporary philosophy of religion with what you find.

I'm going to give you just two excerpts from some contemporary, more contemporary philosophy of religion that you might find interesting, and I'll point you to a resource that might be helpful as well. But this is a quote from the late atheist philosopher of religion Michael Martin, an atheist, and he lived through this transition that I'm alluding to of Christian philosophy really undergoing a resurgence in the last number of decades. Here's what he says about his own experience.

He says, "As I pursued my graduate education in philosophy at Harvard, I specialized in the philosophy of science not the philosophy of religion. The former seemed vital and fresh, the latter dead and uninteresting. It seemed to me quite clear in the light of the evidence that disbelief in God was more justified than belief. So the question of God's existence seemed closed." Then he says, "I have changed my mind about this, primarily because of the recent resurgence of interest in the philosophy of religion. Although I have not changed my opinion that disbelief in God is more justified than belief, recent philosophical arguments for theism make it necessary to reassess and reformulate the case for atheism."

And then one other atheist philosopher of religion, you may have heard me mention him before, Quentin Smith. Again, someone who's prominent in the field, over 140 peer-reviewed articles. It's a tremendous amount over a career. He wrote an article in the year 2000. Just a couple of selections from that article.

This is what he says. He says, "God is not dead in academia. He returned to life in the late 1960s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments." He says, "Naturalist philosopher's pursuit of the cultural goal of mainstream secularization in a philosophically governed way has failed both philosophically and culturally. Given the erudite brilliance of theistic philosophizing today." Remember, this is an atheist who's writing this. He says, "If each naturalist philosopher who does not specialize in the philosophy of religion were locked in a room with theists who do specialize in the philosophy of religion, and debates ensued," he expects the most probable outcome is that a referee wanting to be a fair and objective referee, would have to conclude that the theists, the believers in God, definitely had the upper hand in every single argument or debate.

He goes on to say, "The informed naturalist will perceive the gloomy state that resulted due to the failings of contemporary naturalists and successes of contemporary theists in the philosophy of religion." And then he goes even further claiming that the conclusion that follows from this recent philosophical history is that the justification of most contemporary naturalists or atheistic views is defeated by contemporary, theist arguments.

I find it just amazing that those are words from a credible, respectable, prominent, intelligent atheist in the field of philosophy of religion. And so often people are not aware of the resurgence that's taken place in Christian philosophy. They're reading more popular books that are based on philosophy from 50, 60, 70, 80 years ago. I would recommend dig into some of the best Christian philosophers on this question of the existence of God. Look at Alvin Plantinga. Look at Richard Swinburne.

I would send you to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It's not a Christian resource, but it's just a high-level resource in philosophy. It's free. It's online. Look up the article on philosophy of religion, and that'll give you a great bibliography with people on both sides, the theist side and the atheist side, but really people working at the top of the field. I think as you dig into that literature, you'll be, hopefully, really encourage to find just how strong the arguments for God's existence are.

Michael Davis: It's interesting. One of the things I like about Leonardo's question is the fact that he actually understands that this is a huge subject. While if you look at some of Sam Harris's, Dennett's, and Hitchens's stuff, they kind of almost, like, think that it's a non-subject. I really enjoy ...

So how would you guys kind of address the fact that it really is a huge subject?

Jo Vitale: Yeah. I think it's great to acknowledge that, to acknowledge the gravity of the question. At times, it can feel overwhelming to engage with, but that's because it's the most important question.

Michael Davis: Absolutely.

Jo Vitale: It is the most significant question of life. I find it crazy that most people walk around not even engaging with it, just totally dismissing it. Or if you do engage with it, it's sort of done in a fashionable cynical way because right now it's super trendy to be a skeptic about everything. Like doubt is the leading virtue. The idea of expecting an answer to any kind of question is, basically, seen as naïve.

Tennessee Williams had this great quote. He said, "Life is an unanswered question, but let's still believe in the dignity and importance of the question." I think people love that because it sounds so kind of romantic. You get to be this dreamer and deep-thinker and pontificate about big ideas, but without ever committing yourself or it ever costing you anything.

I remember a conversation with an atheist, extended family member, a little while back. She was talking about how much she respects Vince and I because, basically, she said we're not like those ignorant Christians who see everything as black and white. We've reached the level of understanding that everything is just a shade of gray. It was sort of maturity to know you really can't be certain about anything.

I almost lost it laughing at that point. I think she couldn't have got us more wrong.

Vince Vitale: We clearly have not been communicating as clearly as we think we have.

Jo Vitale: As I was listening to her-

Michael Davis: Is that her failure of yours?

Vince Vitale: Exactly. Yeah.

Jo Vitale: But I was listening to her, you know, and I was thinking this is such an uninformed statement, and I just felt as she was saying it, "That's what you value. That isn't what we value." I think she was sort of pushing it onto us because she wanted that to be the case and wanted it to be true because there are certainly beliefs that Vince and I would live and die for and stake our lives on as undeniably true.

But I just found it so interesting that people think if you're willing to ask deep questions, which we are, if you want to wrestle with the questions then that has to result in you being a cynic. But for us, we don't ask deep questions just for the sake of asking, but because we truly believe there are knowable answers, that there is a knowable God, that truth is knowable. Truth is a person.

It doesn't mean that the answers would be easy or comfortable. The theologian Paul Tillich put it this way. Being religious means asking passionately the questions of meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt.

Sometimes the answers do hurt, but there can be a good kind of hurt, like the sort of lingering pain of recovery after a major heart surgery. It's going to take you a while to get back up on your feet after something that big happens in your life. But you won't regret that hurt because the quality of life and your ability to live life to the full come from that, and it's totally transformational. So I would just say ask questions with great expectation. Ask them not because you think they can't be answered, but ask them because actually there are answers to these questions.

Vince Vitale: Yeah, I feel the force of this part of the question. You know, with it being such a huge subject that can make it the most difficult type of subject to make a decision about, but it also can make it the most important subject to make a decision about as well. We need to be cautious, I think, about not making up our minds just because it's a huge subject.

I was thinking about Jo and I having a child. We're recording this episode early, so by the time you hear this, Jo and I probably, we hope and pray will have had our first child, our first baby, but when we were first praying through and considering whether to try to have a child, it wasn't an easy decision for us. For some people, it is. For some people, it isn't. It wasn't a particularly easy decision for us, partly because it was such a huge decision, and there was so much to take into account.

Actually, we did feel like there were some strong reasons even on both sides, even in terms of potentially not having a child. There are so many children that need to be adopted. There's so much suffering and brokenness in this world. It's humbling and sobering to bring a child into this world. And then there's all the ministry that Jo and I do together, and the travel that is often relevant to that. That makes it challenging as well to think about what family life's going to be.

The pros were, in a sense, easier for us to see, but then as we started to think it through, we realized actually there's some challenges here as well, and it wasn't just an easy decision to make. But if we just remained agnostic about that decision indefinitely, we never would have had a child. In fact, remaining agnostic indefinitely would, in practice, have been to have decided not to have a child. It's a point that William James makes in his great article The Will to Believe, that we either wind up believing in God or not believing in God, and indefinitely holding onto agnosticism is itself a choice not to believe in God.

I think sometimes with huge subject matters, yes, it's difficult to make a decision, but if you don't, you could potentially wind up missing out on something really significant. I think that's partly, and I've made similar comments on this show before, but I think that's party why God, yes, he does ask us to look into the reason, the evidence, the arguments, but he also offers to us a type of experiential encounter with Him as well that's relational and that's personal, and that's a significant component of how we come to know that He's the truth as well.

I've alluded to something that G.K. Chesterton uses in another respect, but the idea that choosing a coat or a jacket can be done in two ways: by looking at all the measurements or by trying it on. Both are important. If the measurements are nowhere near your size, you're never going to try it on. But, Leonardo, as you said, the measurements look pretty good. They look even more persuasive than the other side. Well, then I think the Bible would say that's a good time to try on the Christian faith. I like some of the language in the Bible where it says to clothe yourself in Christ. It says taste and see that the Lord is good. It says that Jesus stands at the door and knocks, and we need to open the door relationally to let him in. It's quite tangible, concrete, experiential language, and that was very much my experience.

I dug into the philosophy. I saw that this seemed more likely than not, that it was persuasive, but if I was really going to know God in a deep way, I was going to have to take that next step. What I found was that the knowledge I really desired was not going to come fully from philosophy and science and history and biology and cosmology and all of those things, as important as they were, but that fullness of knowledge was not going to come before I made a personal commitment, but actually after I took a serious personal step towards God.

I think three ways you could do that is by reading the Bible. Ravi often says read the Gospel of John three times, and just have an open heart and mind to say who is this person of Jesus and do I sense that I'm not only reading about him, but that this text, these words are actually reading me and my heart as well in a very intimate way? Praying an agnostic's prayer. I used to say, "God, I don't know if I'm talking to anyone, but if I am, I'd love to know about it." I think God loves that sort of prayer and honors that.

And then experiencing Him in the context of community. You know, if you think that Christianity is persuasive, but you're not sure, dive into a Christian community. Because part of the Christian claim is that God is desiring to reveal Himself to a community, to a body of believers. The Bible never talks about God's desire just to communicate and reveal himself to individuals in an isolated relationship. It's always in the context of something bigger than that. So if you really want to dig into all of the evidence for Christianity, do it in the context of Christian community, and you may find that you learn a lot about God that you couldn't learn in any other way.

Michael Davis: That's the way it worked for me.

Vince Vitale: There you go.

Michael Davis: I like, Leonardo, how you say that it's more persuasive, though it is just slightly more persuasive. Vince, you obviously think it's more than slightly more persuasive. Can you unpack that a little bit?

Vince Vitale: Yeah. I do. I would say dig into it, Leonardo. I think it's much more than slightly more persuasive. But actually, when I read your question, I like the way you put that, that you saw some reasons on both sides, but you think it's slightly more persuasive. It reminded me of Pascal actually. He said something very similarly. He thought that the case for Christianity was stronger than the case against it. He thought it significantly so, but he also thought that God didn't want us to believe just based on reason, and he thinks that's one of the reasons He didn't just make it so obvious and in our face that we would have no choice but to believe in Him.

I think that's really significant as well. I don't think that the Christian God, I think this is really significant, I don't think the Christian God wants us to believe in Him or trust Him just based on a power dynamic. If God revealed Himself to us directly and miraculously all the time, that would be so awe-inspiring and overwhelming that it would take away any freedom we had to choose for or against Him.

I remember the story of a colleague of ours who was talking to a friend of hers about this very point. The point was making sense to her friend who was not a Christian, and then at one point, the friend said, "Yeah. That makes a lot of sense." She said, "Oh, but wait. Don't you think it would be cool if God came in disguise as a human?" And then she caught herself and had these, like, her eyes went really big, and she realized that without realizing what she was doing, she had just sort of made a case for the Incarnation. Because it was making sense to her that, yes, God would want to reveal himself. He would want to reveal himself in a relational way, but not in such an overpowering way. He wants us to trust Him not just based on a power dynamic, but because of His character and who He is. That's why I think God has revealed Himself in a clear way, I would say, but not in an unavoidable or an overly persuasive way.

Michael Davis: So this actually brings to my part of the question because I have actually ... Leonardo, I'm going to affirm this because I actually asked this question as a kid, and I [inaudible 00:24:20] think it's kind of weird. The Red Sea splits open, okay? The Jews are walking into it. You know, obviously, there's going to be a wall of water on both sides. Why would they go in there?

Jo Vitale: It's such a good question.

Michael Davis: I need to know why they would go in there.

Jo Vitale: I really appreciate it, especially because the way we all visualize this in our minds, it's like so Hollywood, right?

Michael Davis: Right.

Jo Vitale: It's so dramatic, and so you're sort of thinking what moron is going to, like, walk in there and follow them? So I get it. It's a great question.

One thing I would say to this is, actually, really appreciate the way ... You know, I'm a firm believer in miracles. We've done other episodes on miracles. I don't think you need natural science to explain miracles away, but I do find it very interesting the way God works in this passage when we read it. It actually talks about, you know, God doesn't just click His fingers and boom, like, you know the walls splits apart and they march through. But Moses stands there all night, and there's this strong east wind. There's a wind that is driving back the sea and turning it into this dry land. And so, you're kind of watching this, and you can see clearly something unusual is happening, but there is a sense in which God is working through weather conditions rather than just doing something out of the blue out of nowhere.

There's actually a guy called Carl Drews who wrote a master's thesis on the science of this and how actually, given the location and weather conditions, how this could actually come to pass. Now, I don't think we need that reasoning, but I do find that really interesting. He called it wind setdown. It's a particular weather condition. In fact, it even happened around the Nile Delta in 1882. So we have examples of these kind of things happening.

All that to say, I think if you're in a stubborn state of mind, and you're seeing this going on, there's a part of me that thinks how you could, if you were really trying to justify yourself, make a case for why you could walk through that, I think especially because ... I mean, think of Pharaoh, right?

Michael Davis: Right. Excess thinking, too. Yeah.

Jo Vitale: He's mad. Like, he is so angry in this moment, and he's watching these, like, hobbling Israelites, this huge group of people, but they've been slaves. They are not strong. In fact, they've got a lot of old with them. They've got young children with them. They're struggling to walk through, you know, wading along. And you're there with your super strong army, and you're watching them cross, and you're thinking, "I can catch these guys up. I've got my army. We've got our chariots and our horses. We could just ride them right down." So you kind of get the frame of mind that he might be in there.

Leonardo, I kind of love your rational approach to everything. You're saying, "If I were that pharaoh, this is what I would be thinking." I think we do that, don't we? Often, we think, "Well, if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't be such an idiot."

But there's also something to the fact that we don't always act as rational beings, as human beings.

Michael Davis: Yeah. That's right.

Jo Vitale: You know, what was the mentality of Pharaoh? We already know that he's so wound up, that he's furious, that he's angry. Often, when we're angry, we're not the most rational of beings. So we're trying to put ourselves into his psychological state, but it might be a little bit hard for us to do.

Vince Vitale: Yeah. And on the other hand, you know, maybe we are in related positions, not that often. I mean, not with that same sort of intensity, but I ask people the question a lot, "Have you had experiences that have made you think there might be a God?" I've mentioned that question before. People then tell me the most awe-inspiring stories. If I give them the space to actually think that through, and I've built up enough trust that they're willing to share with me, sometimes they're more willing to share with me if it's a stranger, and they know it's not going to get back to other people who are going to think they're weird.

But a lot of people, in my experience and the data I've built up through asking that question, a lot of people have seen things that are completely awe-inspiring, overwhelming, miraculous, and the vast majority of them have then a day later, two days later, a week later, just blocked it out and gone on their way. You know? And just kept living the way they're living, and didn't take the time, maybe they were scared to take the time because of the consequences, and what it might mean for how they were living and for what life might mean in the future and the sacrifices that might need to be made. You know, all sorts of reasons, but a lot of people are in the place where they have experienced something where the rational response would be to stop and say, "This is incredible, and I may need to change the trajectory that I'm on." Very quickly after, they have just continued on the same trajectory.

Every one of us can probably say there are times in our life where that's exactly what we've done. If we do it today, then is it that surprising that Pharaoh did it back then?

Jo Vitale: Oh, I can totally relate to that. I mean, there have been things in my life where I have known that if I continued down the path I was walking, it was going to be so self-destructive for me. I knew it wasn't what God wanted me to do. I knew that on the basis of the Bible. I knew that because other people were specifically warning me not to. Even in my own conscious, I knew these were bad choices, but I still ran down that path knowing it would hurt me just out of pure pride and stubbornness and my desire in that moment. So, in a way, I actually really do relate to Pharaoh in this situation.

Another thing I want to say here, though, is actually it's not entirely clear from the passage itself that Pharaoh dies in this instance. So that's another thing worth saying. The text talks about Pharaoh's army dying, but actually, in the Hebrew when it talks about what happens here, the language used to describe what happens to Pharaoh is that God overthrew Pharaoh. It's the language of like shaking off, like shaking something out of your cloak. And so, actually, what a lot of scholars think is, you know, if Pharaoh himself had died in this, that's such a big event the Bible would explicitly record the fact that Pharaoh died along with them. And you would expect that to be recorded elsewhere as well.

So what might actually be going on here is that Pharaoh sees something crazy is happening, but he's so angry with the Israelites he thinks maybe his army can catch them up, that he intentionally sends them in because he has the power to do so, and they, out of fear of Pharaoh, have to obey orders. So he sends his army in. He watches what's going on. They all drown because of his stubbornness, but he himself saves his own skin. That kind of makes sense of the character we see of Pharaoh throughout this narrative, right? Because consistently when suffering comes on his own people, he's totally stubborn and unwilling to do anything to change his path. It's only when suffering comes so close to his own home that it affects him personally that he finally relents and lets the Israelites go. Here he is already back chasing them again. This is a stubborn man-

Vince Vitale: Yeah. I know. For sure.

Jo Vitale: ... we are talking about, but nevertheless, he might be a man who sees something crazy going on, but still decides to save his own skin, while out of anger having this reckless response and reaction.

All that to say, Leonardo, I really appreciate your question about the Bible. For me, what I find interesting about your question is what you're struggling with is the response of Pharaoh himself. Often what people struggle with more are the miracles. What I would say here is the one area I always find the Bible to be so utterly spot on is in the way it talks about the human heart, and the fact that we're not always rational in the way we make decisions. Sometimes very, very poor decisions.

I just feel like when it comes to human nature and the human heart, the Bible actually really gets it right. Often when I read these things, you know, I judge the characters because I'm annoyed by the things that they're doing so often in the Bible. Like, why would you do that? But then the more I look into it, the more I'm like, but that is me. That is my own life. So I actually find the Bible to be very, very convicting in the way that it speaks about other people, but in turn, the way it's actually addressing my own heart and my own struggles.

Michael Davis: Well, guys, we are out of time. Vince, sum it up for us.

Vince Vitale: Well, the fact that we've spent the whole episode on your question, Leonardo-

Michael Davis: I think it's only happened one time before.

Vince Vitale: I think only once before, so it speaks to what a great question it was, and how much we enjoyed engaging with it. To be honest, I'm just excited for you. I think you're on a great journey. The Bible says if you seek me with your whole heart, you will find me. That's a promise. I think that's a promise that's going to be true in your life. I like the way you've been working through the philosophy, and seeing that points in God's direction. And then you realized that the next step was to dig into the Bible, and that's exactly what you're doing.

My encouragement would be that there are always going to be questions. I have more questions about faith now than I did before I was a Christian. Whenever you get to enter into a relationship, whether with a human person, whether with God Himself, that opens up even more areas for exploration and intellectual discovery and questions. So just because you still have good questions, don't let that put you off potentially making that significant personal commitment that will lead to an even deeper knowledge, an awareness of who God is, and just take that caution from us to be sure not to hang out in that place of agnosticism for too long that that winds up actually being a decision against God, being a decision not to believe in Him.

Continue to pursue these questions. I know you said it's a huge subject, and it is. There are a lot of options out there as well. Many different things you can believe. My encouragement would be dig into the Bible as you have been, and ask the question is there something unique, uniquely beautiful and uniquely true about the Christian faith? I believe there is, and I think it all stems from the fact that God came down as Jesus and lived as a human person. Because He did that, it's historical, and we can look into it and examine the evidence. Because He did that, he was willing to suffer with us and therefore we can have confidence in His love. Because He did that, He does not ask us to work out way up to Him to achieve salvation, something we could never possibly do, but instead He gives us the gift that He has come down to us. It's a uniquely beautiful and true faith, and we're going to be praying here that it's one that you'll know very intimately very soon.

Michael Davis: Thanks, Jo. Thank you, guys, for joining me. Thank you all for listening, and we'll catch you guys next time.

Every article, podcast, and video on this website is made possible by the kindness of our supporters.

If you'd like to support our mission of sharing a thoughtful Christianity to the world, you can donate through our site.

Get our free , every other week, straight to your inbox.

Your podcast has started playing below. Feel free to continue browsing the site without interrupting your podcast!