A few weeks ago, I posted a review of Chet Galaska’s new book, Finding Faith in a Skeptical World (link to my review here). I asked Chet if he would mind sharing a bit more, and he kindly agreed.
Tell us a little about yourself, Chet, and what inspired you to write a book.
I’ve spent most of my life as a businessman who co-founded a company that produced high alloy castings for industrial applications. After 23 years as president I sold my interest in the company to invest in real estate – and write. My wife, Lisa, and I have been married for 23 years and have two grown sons.
I was an atheist and felt I had good reasons for being one until I seriously looked into Christianity. I found that most of what I believed – which was basically gleaned from what we’re exposed to in our culture – was incorrect. As a result I became a Christian.
My faith has given me the perspective of eternal life and a peace that’s priceless. Before faith, I believed life was finite and that the inexorable march through life’s problems, the inevitable infirmities of old age and the loss of loved ones as we got older ended in…nothing. The transition from hopelessness to joyful anticipation changes your life.
My goal is to share answers to basic questions so that readers understand that today’s skeptical and condescending criticisms are a mile wide and an inch deep. And that they’ll look into faith, choose a church that appeals to them, and experience the joy and improvement in life that faith brings.
What was the greatest challenge you faced as you worked on your book?
It was pulling together the answers to many diverse questions. There are 27 chapters that deal with topics ranging from historical reasons for belief in Christ, to what redemption and salvation are, to why bad things happen, to evolution. The only common denominator is that misunderstanding about them is a barrier to faith. Secular people probably won’t have all these issues, but all will have some of them.
Although the chapters are brief, a lot of time, effort and research went into each.
What’s your favorite part of the book?
I like to watch scientific shows on TV and had been given the impression that the universe and evolution just happened on their own. As I researched I found that the big questions of how and why they started simply aren’t discussed because they’re beyond the purview of science. But by not postulating answers, we’re given the impression that God isn’t involved.
In fact, what we know about both subjects points to God, not away from him. The evidence is what caused Albert Einstein to believe in God as the creator and organizer of the universe, famed atheist Antony Flew to come to the same conclusion, and about 40% of mathematicians, physicists and biologists to believe in a personal God they can pray to.
I thought I was informed about these subjects but found that the information the general public sees is, to put it politely, not complete. It’s indicative of how society’s anti-religious bias creeps into areas where you don’t expect to see it and subtly affects perceptions.
What do you find is the most compelling part of the story as more people read your book and you share it with them?
Christ’s sacrifice for our sins is huge, and it’s led to a lot of compelling effects. One fascinating aspect is how many different expressions of faith have resulted from the acts of a thirty-something character over 2,000 years ago. Regardless of your language, heritage, race, nationality or age there is a place for you to receive the gifts of peace and eternity.
Before the book was published I contacted a Roman Catholic priest who’s a successful author. He graciously read the book and spent some time speaking with me about it. Although he liked it – and told me I’d sell lots of them – he explained that he couldn’t endorse it because he knew he’d receive letters from Catholics wondering why he did it, because it’s written from an evangelical perspective. Although I didn’t set out to write it that way, it’s my background and I can’t deny it’s there.
Christianity is like an onion: we all share the things at its heart. We believe in God, Jesus, resurrection, salvation and others. Once we get away from the heart the differences set in and we separate on secondary (i.e. not at the heart) issues.
Finding Faith in a Skeptical World tries to explain the “heart” issues, present the case for putting secular skepticism on hold and make the case for Christian faith. The hope is that people with newly opened minds will attend a church of their own choosing.
Do you have an ongoing challenge as a new Christian? What’s the greatest hurdle (or hurdles) you have faced and continue to face?
My ongoing challenge is the same as every other Christian’s: to try to live life in accordance with the teachings of Christ. Living in a “don’t get mad, get even” culture for so long makes living according to Jesus’s instructions to “love your neighbor as yourself” a little unnatural.
But as time goes on, it becomes easier. The reason is that there’s an underlying wisdom to it that’s not immediately apparent. For example, in shedding the desire for revenge and offering forgiveness – even with the absence of an apology from the offender – the Christian removes the tension and unhappiness that comes with holding grudges. He also knows he’s acting in accordance with God’s wishes and is affirming his faith by his actions.
It’s uncanny how doing what Jesus wants actually benefits us. The problem is disentangling ourselves from self-defeating secular mores long enough to figure out that Christian teachings show us a better way to live.
Any closing thoughts?
Christian faith is based on solid evidence, but people need to be open to it. My hope is that Finding Faith in a Skeptical World will crack the door open enough for people to go to a church and find faith. Especially in uncertain times like these, it’ll make their lives a whole lot easier when they do.
Photo courtesy of Chet’s website, with credit to Robert Charles Photography