80 years in the making

This page last updated September 16th, 2023
This page at a glance

What leads an (allegedly) otherwise intelligent person, after retiring from full time employment, to start this blog plus a website about the reasons to believe in God? Why do all that reading, writing, learning to code and responding to comments?

How did I go from Aussie boy to old man? How come I’m still a christian, almost eighty years after I was conceived? What has life taught me?

This is my story (if anyone’s interested); I guess you could call it my spiritual journey.

(This page is adapted from a similar page on my other website, Is there a God?)

I was born at a very early age …

I was born in 1945, right at the end of World War 2, the second of four sons. We lived an ordinary, frugal life in Sydney as Australia moved from post war austerity to mid 50’s boom. The high points of my young life were undoubtedly our camping holidays. Three times a year (because my dad was a teacher) we packed the car, drove to an out-of-the-way spot on the NSW coastline, crammed into a tent, explored the waterways and bush and enjoyed the freedom.

Not much spiritual here


We weren’t a christian family – God was almost never mentioned – but we were all sent to Sunday School, perhaps because mum thought it was the right thing to do. I must have been a trusting soul in those days, and I seemed to just accept all I was taught without really thinking about it.

I continued on into the church youth group, and here I was confronted with a more insistent form of christianity – would I give in to God, accept the offer of forgiveness available in Jesus, and live for him? I held out for about a year, thinking it was true but not wanting to give over any degree of control over my life to a God who might, well, might do anything.

The circumstances of finally making that decisions probably say a lot about me. An evangelistic crusade was coming to Sydney, a follow up to a Billy Graham crusade a couple of years earlier that had had an enormous impact on Sydney. The youth group was going, and I was afraid that I might be so overwhelmed by spirital emotion that I’d embarrass myself and have to “go forward” and make a public display of myself. To avoid that, I gave into God quietly – like CS Lewis, a most reluctant convert.

Boots and all

Once I’d made the choice, at 17 years of age and at the end of my first year at university avoiding studying Civil Engineering, I started to live with it, in two ways.

Firstly, I took the commands to live for Jesus seriously – the first passage I underlined in my Bible was Jesus’ command to take up our cross daily. Of course I did this very poorly, but I at least knew what I ought to be doing if I was to be consistent.

My other choice was quite far reaching. I didn’t want to be believing something that wasn’t true, and I wanted to be able to give other people reasons to believe too, so I started reading books that would help me understand what was true. My first choices presaged my life-long interests:

  • My first love was CS Lewis. Mere Christianity was like a shaft of pure sunlight, and I quickly followed it with the more challenging Miracles and some of his essays and talks. Lewis was, for me, deep (much more so than the mild reformed theology I received at church), sensible (not too much embarrassing emotion or devotion) and persuasive.
  • Frank Morison’s Who moved the stone? also made a deep impression, because he began writing more or less as a non-believer, and assumed only what a secular historian would endorse, yet found good evidence that Jesus was really resurrected.
  • I was also interested in whether the Bible was to be trusted, and FF Bruce’s The New Testament Documents: Are they reliable? gave me scholarly reassurance on that (though I later came to think he claimed a little too much).

Other influences – the good the bad and the ugly

The other big influences on me were perhaps a little unusual. For my 18th birthday a perceptive older friend gave me my first Bob Dylan album, The Times They Are A-Changing. Hardly anyone else could get past that nasal voice, but I just loved the passion, perception and the sense of justice. Suddenly music was no longer trite teen love and angst, but something much more gripping, and I felt the pull of living for a cause, and the attraction of thinking outside a fairly conservative mindset.

Another influence which led me to feed my inner rebel was the series of Saint books by Leslie Charteris – not about a christian hero but a fictional debonair modern day Robin Hood who used illegal methods to vanquish villains, rescue damsels, right wrongs and make a lot of money on the way. Somehow, while living the most normal suburban existence, I came to think that challenging authority and the status quo were ideals I could sometimes embrace.

It seemed in those days that there were two types of christians – those who made sure their doctrine was right and seemed to be averse to showing any religious emotion, and those who seemed much less concerned about doctrine but who were quite overt in their love for God. I was quite firmly in the doctrinal camp in those days, but I retained an interest in those strangers in the emotional camp, which later led me to (metaphorically) dancing with the Pentecostals for a time.

But perhaps the biggest influence of all was the quite normal amount of teenage hormones and angst that I experienced through my late teens. While I felt confident of eternal life in the next world, I was far from confident about life right now. I suppose I gave the appearance of being rational and intelligent, if a little too talkative, but many a night I sat at the desk in my room, without the modern distractions of computer, TV or private phone, and brooded on life, the uncertain future, truth, justice and my own inadequacies. I was fortunate there was no Mr Tambourine Man in my life to take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind, and I found my way through.

Defining moments

I have written before about a defining moment, that occurred when I was considering the way evangelical christians perceived evangelism, and how few or none of the Bible passages supporting that approach came from the mouth of Jesus. The thought went through my mind: Jesus wasn’t a very good evangelist. Immediately I thought it, I knew it must be wrong, by definition. If Jesus didn’t conform to our ideas of evangelism, then our ideas were wrong.

And so I began on a path to understand Jesus in his historical and cultural setting. Scottish theologian AM Hunter was the one who unlocked the door for me, showing me that Jesus was inaugurating the kingdom of God and showing us and telling us how we should live in that kingdom – a much ‘bigger’ and more exciting message than standard evangelical christianity of the time.


The other big defining moment was finding the most wonderful girl and marrying at age 21. She has taught me so much about living and relating. In time we had three children. Living in the same house as someone you love deeply, and trying to raise three very different children despite your own imperfections, is a most sobering experience – quickly I came to understand my weaknesses and failings and was constantly challenged to live up to the standards I claimed.

Growing up, growing away

In the ensuing years, I completed my Engineering degree, served for two years as a conscript in the Australian Army during the Vietnam war, completed a Theology degree by private study, worked as a water engineer and environmental manager, and tried to serve God in several different churches and denominations. And my religious beliefs changed because of my experiences and reading.

When their beliefs are challenged, people often respond by either giving up their belief because the problems seem to overwhelm their reasons to believe, or else crawl into their shell and refuse to think of possible change. For some reason, I found my faith and understanding growing but changing in a whole lot of ways.

The church

It became clear to me very early on that the twentieth century western church was a very poor descendent of the first century church – they changed the world despite their imperfections, but we couldn’t even change ourselves. I came to believe that Jesus would be as critical of the church today as he was of the religious elite in his day – for a power-based rather than servant view of leadership, a lack of dependence on the Holy Spirit and the gifts he gives to all believers, and often a lack of compassion towards people’s needs, especially people not like us.

The Bible

From wanting to defend the Bible against every attack to accepting it as it is, has been a long journey. Accepting the early Old Testament as legend (which CS Lewis taught me), and accepting what the scholars say about the New Testament, hasn’t changed what I can and do believe about Jesus very much, but has enabled me to understand him better and apply his teachings better to the present day. I have been through times when this wasn’t so clear, because I was reading (at that time) a few ultra sceptical scholars, but the consensus of secular scholarship has been a great help to my faith, and the way I now present it to others.


One by one, a few less important doctrines have dropped away:

  • I found the New Testament, understood correctly, didn’t teach the conventional view of hell as everlasting punishment. I believe we all make choices that determine whether this life is all we have, or whether we also receive life in the age to come.
  • For many years I accepted neither evolution nor the Genesis account as literal truth, but eventually came to accept the science of evolution.
  • I have become much more aware of social justice issues – global poverty, climate change, assisting the marginalised in Australia – and no longer think evangelism is more important than any of them. God calls us to holistic ministry.
  • I have never really believed that a patriarchal church, where women have a reduced role, was what God wanted today, but I feel clearer about that now. I am still unclear about God’s attitude to homosexuality, but I have an open mind.
  • In fact, I care a lot less about doctrine than I used to. I still believe truth is important, but love and obedience are more important, and we need the humility to recognise we don’t understand as much as we’d like to think we do.
Christians vs atheists

Almost a decade ago I joined the internet community and the discussion of religion. At first I was stunned by the vitriolic way some christians and unbelievers argued, and I tended to be polite but robust myself. I have learned and read a lot through these discussions, including learning to be less provocative and willing to walk away rather than step across an invisible line. I have considered the arguments presented to me, and what I think in reply, and learnt what makes sense (to me at least) and what doesn’t. I am a clearer thinker as a result.

There are things that other christians think that I cannot accept. There are things about the world that I find difficult to fit with the idea that it was created by a good God. But after half a century of grappling with these matters, I find that there are still many more things that don’t fit with the idea that there is no God. Believing in God and following Jesus still makes more sense to me than any alternative.

Been there, done that

Serving God, generally my wife and I together, has taken me into interesting areas. I’ve led youth groups and taught in Sunday School, including a group in our home for the kids in our street. I’ve been an evangelistic team leader, an elder and a preacher. I’ve helped churches develop strategic plans and I’ve edited newsletters and magazines. I’ve visited christian friends in gaol and psych ward, and sat in the gutter with a friend who may have overdosed and I had to work out what needed to be done. I have made friends with people on the fringes of our affluent society and led a cafe church for them. I’ve set up social justice programs in a church with no history or even much interest in them, and seen them thrive. I’ve been part of a long-running house church mostly comprising people 30 years younger than me and joined in baptising five of them in the creek behind the house where we met.

In more recent years I’ve become much more aware of the connection between christians, the kingdom of God, and concern for the welfare of other people and the world. Climate change, asylum seekers, indigenous Australians, the poor, modern day slavery, family violence, alienation and mental illness have all become issues that are important to me as a christian. And so I’ve joined protests, signed petitions, educated myself and tried to educate others on all these issues.

I’ve come from a doctrinal view that stressed God’s sovereignty and left little reason to pray, to a view where I see prayer as very important. And so the two of us spend half an hour (more or less) every morning praying for each other, our children, relatives and friends, the ministries we are involved in, and whatever else comes to mind.

In recent years I’ve set up my Is there a God? website and then this website too, participated in internet forums discussing religion, made a few apparent enemies, but also scores of friends from all over the world.

And most of all, I’m aware I’ve made so many mistakes, learnt I am a flawed human being, and have had to try to change in many ways. I have questioned my faith, let people down and said things at the wrong time, in the wrong way – or sometimes they should never have been said at all. But through it all, somehow I’ve kept believing. No matter how often I re-assess the evidence, it always seems to stack up. God isn’t a certain reality in my life, but believing him makes easily the most sense for me. I don’t think my life would have taken this course if he wasn’t actually there.

The future?

I’m now 74; who can believe that? And who knows how long I have left?

But we are clear in our minds that we will keep on as we have for the last 50+ years. Keeping an open mind, trying to learn new things, trying to keep in touch with what is happening in the world and what God is doing. Sharing what we have learnt with anyone interested, especially encouraging younger generations to settle for nothing less that the truth that will set them free.

And the changes keep on coming, and we have to learn new things all the time – about myself, the world, postmodern culture, people, everything. Keep reading this blog to see the new things capturing my attention!


  1. Well, Eric, I cannot imagine that you have any enemies. If all christians were like you, no one would ever use a derisive word about a christian. I know that, from your point of view, your positive attributes come from God, but from my point of view, you make good choices, behave in a compassionate manner, and are probably,simply, a very nice man. I’m glad I’ve ‘met’ you. (and I like your story) ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi Carmen, thanks so much for the compliments. I’m glad I’ve ‘met’ you too!
    I think you have seen me on my best behaviour. I have been more argumentative in the past, but hopefully I’m learning to be caring first and making a point second.

  3. Hi Eric,
    It’s nice that our paths have crossed ๐Ÿ™‚ the Internet is great like that and it’s been great to read your comments over the years.
    Thanks for sharing

  4. It’s quite a long time since we were in touch with each other. A lot has changed for me especially over the last couple of years. Our stories are somewhat different even if we have both been rebels. I rejected what I was taught about the trinity in a Baptist church when I was 13 – and that was 65 years ago! With hindsight that questioning really went on for 57 years until I read ‘The Shack’ in 2007. I have no recollection of ever doubting the existence of God. I have an Anglican background and long ago rejected the traditional teachings of hell. I’ve spent a lot of time recently updating the introduction to my blog (I haven’t quite finished). I’d be interested in any thoughts you might have.

  5. This was interesting to read, UnkleE. You have mentioned much of it before, but you nonetheless have a knack for presenting personal stories in a way that captivates attention.
    And I suppose Newport has commented here on occasion for years, is that correct? I think I know under which handle. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Thanks IN. Yes “Newport” seems to be a familiar person who comes from somewhere different from Newport Rhode island or Newport, Sydney!

  7. Blessings, Greetings, and Salutations to you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Happened on your blog after a Google search, and, amongst quite a list of suggestions, I’ve clicked on WHAT THE SCHOLARS TELL US ABOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT. So glad I did, ’cause the thoughts/info you share is just what I am looking for! I’m a “believer” and follower of Jesus, but outside of organized religion. For some time I’m “going it alone” (humanly speaking) ’cause there’s just too many “things” I have to clarify for myself. Presently I just cannot accept the Jewish/Christian scriptures as infallible and inerrant. Sure, a lot of wonderful spiritual info contained therein, but also a lot of “uninspired” and “god-breathed” info belonging to another time and age…
    But I don’t throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ve enjoyed your personal story and recognized quite a lot of what you’ve shared, dovetailing with my own journey. I’m looking forward to explore the rest of your site as well as the sister-site. I’m very happy for having “happened” on your site…
    All the best on your personal journey.

  8. Hi thanks for your comments and encouragement. I went to your website and saw that it was in (I presume) Dutch. Unfortunately, my Dutch is nowhere nearly as good as your English!
    You are exactly the sort of person this blog was created for, so you are especially welcome. I think there are more and more people following Jesus but less sure about some aspects of the church and unconvinced that the Bible is inerrant.
    I hope you do read more, and comment further – I’d be interested to hear a little of your story and what you think. Please feel free to email if that would be better (there is a link at the top).

  9. Thanks for the welcoming message, E [?], much appreciated, and yes, I’ve gathered that I’m in good company here…as in “birds of the same feather…” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    You are quite perceptive/knowledgeable as far as my mother-tongue is concerned — well, almost. It’s actually Afrikaans and a derivative of Dutch. Afrikaans developed through time after Commander Jan van Riebeeck established a “refreshment-post” on 6 April 1652 at the southern tip of Africa, that is today known as South Africa. The progenitor of my clan (one of the French Huguenots, fled France for South Africa during 1688 after the repeal of the Edict of Nantes…and here I am today, after so many centuries still acting the good Protestant, although from a totally different angle. I guess they would have labeled me in yonder years an apostate to the faith ๐Ÿ™‚
    Just thought I’ll give you some background info for the time-being…

  10. Hi Arno, my name is Eric. I used to be nicknamed Uncle Eric at work, so I continued that name when I started on the web (but with a “k”), but I kind of wish I’d used my real name.
    Thanks for the background, I am always very interested in where people have come from (in all sense of that phrase). So your family background is French rather than Dutch – I didn’t know there were French people among the Afrikaaners.

  11. Eric, hi. Correct – my family background is French, if we stick to the biblical patriarchal tradition (which I *not* so quietly loathe.) My matriarchal lineage, on the other hand, is traced to the Dutch and German ๐Ÿ˜€
    The Huguenots formed their own *ghetto* at the Cape of Good Hope, but were encouraged to intermarry with colonists who in time arrived from all over the globe. I guess that, through a micro evolutionary process ๐Ÿ˜‰ a communal dialect developed that in time was derogatively referred to as *kitchen language*, and among the Afrikaners eventually came to be known as Afrikaans. It was not until 1928 that Afrikaans received legal status. As an aside, the Afrikaners made use of the STATENBIJBEL as official translation of the scriptures until the first Afrikaans translation was launched in 1933, revised in 1953, and after another revision that was recieved by the three Dutch Reformed *Sister* Churches during 1983, all of a sudden blossomed into various interesting translations/versions. (I enjoy using DIE BOODSKAP [The Message] as an easy read…) Presently even the official translation of 1983 is in the process of revision :-\
    I have personally read the Bible (every time from Genesis to Revelation, and WITHOUT skipping all those tedious and boring genealogies and instructions of exactly how the tabernacle in the wilderness was to be built and later the so-called Temple of Solomon … Ugh, what an exercise ๐Ÿ™‚ several times in Afrikaans, KJV, AV, NEB, etc. In so doing, more and more *cracks* appeared in the ecclesiastical armor this so-called BOOK of Books is cloaked with. Today I do not regret the time spent with all these different versions, because I came to be well grounded in the *contents* thereof if not the *theology*. So, when someone tends to become very vocal about their personal pet peeves with whatever they are peeved with, I am always tempted to ask, “But have you read ALL of it?”. I just feel people should be careful to not criticize if they have not taken time out to at least once read through the whole tome. I feel qualified to make the pronouncements I am making B-)
    Wow, sorry. I only intended to give a bit of additional info how it happened that Afrikaans is my mother-tongue… All the best until another time – I have some interesting reading to do!

  12. Hi Arno, don’t apologise, that was most interesting I have some understanding of the situation in South Africa, for I have a good friend of Indian background from Durban who migrated to Australia many years ago because of apartheid, but I don’t think I have met anyone from an Afrikaner background before.
    I think it is very helpful to have read the entire Bible – which I have, twice I think, but only in English! ๐Ÿ™‚ But I think the OT can give a wrong picture of God if it isn’t understood correctly and in context.

  13. 1945…Thats alot of life expirience.
    Man. As a 15 year old that seems very. Big :p
    Thanks for all the help in this Blog!

  14. Hi Luca, I can remember (just) when I was 15. It seems a long time ago now. But all you do is keep breathing, in and out, and one day you get to 71 (if you keep breathing!).

  15. Seeing things clearly in the Word of Our Lord along with reading your story is
    very helpful to loving you my brother. Now, to the point; Have you ever come across a man called Milton Green here in the States? And if you have Eric, what were your truthful impressions concerning his life as a disciple of Jesus. In love, Richard rsvp.

  16. Hi Richard, its nice to hear from you.
    I’m sorry, but I don’t know, or have ever heard of (that I can remember) Milton Green.

  17. Dear Sir,
    With all due respect, seeing that you are a Christian disciple of Jesus Christ, I believe that you are very familiar with John the Baptist in the gospels. He was the forerunner to announce and prepare the Jewish hearts for their Messiah. He accomplished his task with God’s special anointing. Seeing that God Himself prepared a people for His first advent, we must take a serious look for another messenger from God to help prepare a people for His 2nd coming. With the present condition of the church, we should all realize that we need His help to properly prepare our hearts so as to be solidly ready to take us home. So, after having read Milton Greens.s book; “The Great Falling Away Today,” I would greatly commend to you to read this small paperback book, in light of the condition of the church and our need for …”Christ to be formed in us ad His people. In love, Richard rsvp

  18. Hi Richard, thanks for your recommendation.
    Perhaps we are all called to be messengers to prepare people for his second coming?

  19. Yes indeed! We are to reflect our Master’s Work in us that cannot be gainsaid away easily. When Christ is formed in us, as so we are known to be His children and disciples, then the world, both religious and secular will take note. Let us all hasten that day. As for brother Milton’s only book that indeed is anointed by God Himself, he uses under 2k of scriptures and about 200 pages that brings the mind and purpose of God to the front for His people to see and understand, the “remnant” will understand and be drawn to the book. My prayer brother is that you will be drawn also. Written in 1986, it is more crucial and relevant today for serious disciples of Christ. So, good on you when you find a copy. Read it with all of your heart for the message to come across on you. In love, Richard

  20. Yes! If we are truly disciples of the living Jesus that says what is truly life, then we will let our light shine where others can see it. Jesus in the four gospels says that His disciples will heed what He says and thus, walk it out in their lives. The Word is not just to analyze, but to properly display that Jesus is our Master and that we are to imitate Him completely for His honor and glory.

  21. I came across your blog, if that is what it is, today, despite many thousands of hours poking about chasing family stuff on Trove and writing up what I know of forebears, should any of my descendants ever become interested. What a great job you have done. I have not a religious bone in my body, but I have always been very interested in religion, and why so many people follow one. The churches in my little village are dying. When they are all gone we will have to create new buildings where ‘concerned’ people can meet, say once a week, to discuss the needs of some of the less well to do residents. We will learn from each other, make good friends and yes, do Good. Silly isn’t it.
    Again, thankyou for the work you have done. I shall enjoy many hours of reading your published thoughts.
    Rob Buntine

  22. Hi Robert,
    Thanks for your kind words and a most interesting comment. I have never been to Avenal, but I looked it up on the map and it is indeed a small town, but quite attractive. I see from the population statistics that it is growing in size, by about 50 people each year.
    Do you think there will be other people who will want to meet and discuss needs and do good? It is a fine idea!
    For the record, I follow Jesus because I think he told the truth and therefore is worthy of being followed. I can’t say if that is why other people follow a religion.
    I’ll be interested to see if you have any other comments on anything on this site. Best wishes, Eric

  23. Iโ€™m so thrilled to have found your blog and I canโ€™t wait to dig in. I found it because I was looking into C.S. Lewisโ€™ beliefs include the Old Testament. Distraught, I told my husband I donโ€™t know if I believe in God anymore. Everyone I know who believes also seems to believe in all the conspiracy theories popping up these days. Is the Bible just another conspiracy? He confessed to me heโ€™s also been struggling with the Old Testament because the stories are so out there and it seems Jesus was far from โ€œout thereโ€ but seemed much more logical. Some how our discussion led us to talking about Lewis and we found that he believed the OT to be legend and the flood gates opened up! Somehow finding out someone else believed this way helped me feel less crazy. Now seeing your blog- a modern man talking about this is ever more encouraging.
    I have always gone to church, evangelical churches my whole life. Since the Covid pandemic we havenโ€™t been to church in about 7 months (we are in the US). Itโ€™s given us lots of time to think. But when this is over and we can meet in person, Iโ€™m not sure what church we will be a part of. We love our current community, but should we stay in the church where we feel like people are vastly different from how we believe? Maybe we can help folks see a different viewpoint? Or find a church more inline with us, then our three children might be raised upon a church that is a bit more open minded. Iโ€™m kind of just asking that rhetorically but also wish someone would just tell me what to do.
    Anyway, thank you so much for taking time of your own to write all this. It has made me feel in community with someone… even if you are literally on the other side of the planet!

  24. Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for writing such an encouraging email. I have set up this site for people just like you. Many of us are on a similar journey, and we can all help and encourage each other.

    Your comment touches on a number of important issues:

    The Old Testament
    Yes. When we read the OT with clear eyes, it is easy to see it is a different type of literature than what is often assumed. If we don’t make that evangelical assumption, but rather accept what the historians and archaeologists tell us, then a lot of the difficulties shrink. I have learned so much from reading about archaeology.

    It is similar with Jesus. It is often said that many scholars and many churches make Jesus in their own image. But if we follow what the historians tell us, a very credible picture emerges, of someone I can believe in and trust – and follow as best I can.

    The church
    And realising these things DOES make it difficult to be part of an “normal” evangelical church. I have an American friend, who I met online, who (like you) has three children. She was part of a good but fairly typical southern evangelical church and was slowly losing her faith because questions she’d been asking since high school weren’t being satisfactorily answered. We came into contact and discussed them at length and she has since changed churches twice and changed a lot of her beliefs. (Not because I told he what to do, but, I believe, because the Spirit of God did.) There ARE churches that people thinking like us can belong to, but it can be a wrench to leave our friends and “family” to make the change. I think we need to really pray that God would guide us on this matter. I cannot tell you what to do, but I will pray that God will show you.

    Please feel free to contact me via email (I use a form for the first email to reduce spam) if you’d like to discuss further. I have “met” quite a few people in a similar position and sometimes their stories and experiences can give us encouragement.

    Whatever you do, please be assured there are many on this journey – you are not alone – and I believe it is a move of God to correct an imbalance in his church. Best wishes.

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