Do not be content with what you have heard, says scholar
Writer and Bible scholar Lita Cosner admits she seriously doubted the Bible before she was "blown away" by what she personally uncovered in her teens.
"I would encourage teenagers who doubt whether Christianity is true to not be content with what they have heard from someone else – whether it is a preacher or an atheist web site," says Lita, who holds a Masters degree in Biblical Studies and the New Testament.
"The Bible deals with issues that are so important that it is really worth the effort to investigate these things for yourself."
As a child Lita naturally questioned her family about where 'Mrs Cain' came from and how all the animals fitted on the ark.
"My family usually discouraged me from asking such questions, telling me to 'just believe', but it was impossible for me to stop asking those questions," she remembers.
Today, Lita argues the opposite: "It is good to question and be informed about all the options. God gave us our minds so that we would use them!"
She observes that the popular evolutionary theories she was taught at her school and on TV "made sense" in her young mind only because she never heard a different perspective.
By high school, she only attended church for her family's sake, before she noticed something was different between herself and others who attended.
One day, she thought, "Maybe its Jesus?"
"Until then I believed I was 'saved', but this forced me to examine whether I believed what the Bible taught and I realised that I never really had."
Declaring herself an agnostic, Lita decided to study the best evidence from both sides, and not to just swallow what she heard in her year 10 biology class.
"I resolved that if evolution is true I'll become an atheist, and if the Bible's creation story is true, I'll become a Christian," Lita explains.
Lita recalls being struck almost immediately by weaknesses in evolutionary theory.
"It didn't make any sense that the complexity of life could have just evolved, i.e. chance and natural selection created great volumes of intelligent genetic information.
"Various forms of life seemed marvellously designed for exactly what they do, and I never found a satisfying evolutionary explanation for how all those types of life could have come from a single common ancestor.
"The creationist explanations seemed to make a lot more sense. An eternal all-powerful Creator made the original animal, bird and fish kinds with all the genetic information for every sub-species we see today. Similarities between these kinds are also better explained by a common designer.
"Ultimately, I was forced to accept the creationist view by the sheer weight of the evidence, and all the excuses I had against the truth of the Bible were stripped away.
"I now had to admit I was in rebellion against God."
Lita says she was in turmoil about this for months, until at a summer youth camp in 2002, she says a speaker's description of the crucifixion played "like a video in my brain".
"That night," she says, "I felt the holy presence of God in the room and I was both terrified and ashamed.
"I now understood that Jesus had borne the punishment for my sin on the cross, and my rebellion against Him and all my excuses were just pathetic. But I knew God was willing to forgive all of that, amazingly.
"I silently asked Jesus to forgive me, and said that if He would have me, I'd do whatever He wanted me to."
In the weeks after she gave her life to Jesus, several people asked her pastor, "What happened to Lita?"
"They had never before seen such a drastic, sudden change of someone's entire personality because of the joy and peace that God gives," she recalls.
Lita says that many fears she had battled for years disappeared.
"My life had been characterised by fear of my own inadequacy, of bad things that might happen, and of other people's perception of me.
"It was really an awful way to live and now that fear was gone!
"Due to that insecurity and fear, I had a seemingly unbreakable habit of telling 'little' lies, but now I knew Jesus, I became so convicted every time that I would have to immediately correct it and replace it with the truth.
"It's only by God's grace (undeserved love) that I was able to escape that destructive habit."
As sound arguments in defence of the Bible were vitally important in her journey of faith, Lita's studies have included New Testament Greek and Apologetics, which she now uses in her work for Creation Ministries International.
"You can trust the Bible," Lita concludes, "it is intellectually sound, but it demands more from us than intellectual agreement. True surrender to Jesus is what changes hearts and lives." •