by Scott Sienkiewicz
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) -- Suicide. At age 8, the boy began his philosophical search for truth, and 18 months later he was ready to kill himself because all he discerned was evil.
Questions about life, reality and truth gripped the lad. He would often sit in his tree house and ponder whether the squirrel he saw bounding from limb-to-limb was real.
"How do I know that the squirrel exists?" the boy asked himself. "I only see the squirrel with my eyes. How do I know for sure that the squirrel really does exist? My eyes could be deceiving me."
Seeing and hearing another squirrel in the trees temporarily helped answer some questions because the youngster connected the sounds of rustling branches with the squirrel's movements.
"Wait a minute. If my eyes are deceiving me into thinking the squirrel exists when it really doesn't exist, then I shouldn't be able to hear with my ears the branches move at the same time. So it must be that the squirrel exists. Unless, what if there is something that is controlling both my ears and my eyes into believing the squirrel exists when it really doesn't?" The boy attributed this sensory trick to what he dubbed his "imp."
"I didn't know for sure if the universe existed, but I knew for sure that my imp existed unless maybe your imp created my imp to make me think that. ... I'm not even sure if I exist, but even if I put everything back together again and I assume that the universe does exist, I see evil there," said Dr. Kurt P. Wise, chair of the Math and Sciences Division at Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, Ga.
Wise, a graduate of the University of Chicago and Harvard University, also heads TMC's Creation Research Center.
"I was only sure of the existence of one thing, and that was the existence of evil," said Wise during a 2009 chapel sermon at Truett-McConnell, reflecting on his childhood trek for truth.
"My story is different," acknowledged Wise, who was reared in a Christian home and who attended church. "It was a long difficult journey for me."
Trying to reconcile the evil that he knew existed, the young Wise decided he should take action: "I concluded that suicide was a very good thing -- the right thing to do."
Back in his tree house, the 9-year-old Wise decided he would live only one week more and then kill himself.
But that last week of life included one more trip to church, where Wise's Sunday school teacher invited those who wanted to accept Jesus to stay after class. "I'd heard that a bunch of times," Wise recalled. "But who cares?" the lad asked himself. "It doesn't exist. The story doesn't exist. The Sunday school teacher doesn't exist. I'll play along," Wise said, biding his time until his last day of life.
The teacher explained the Gospel using the Book of Romans, Wise recalled. "He recited Romans 3:23, 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.' Then he proceeded to explain to me, to try to explain to this 9-year-old kid, that I was a sinner. And I'm thinking, 'Yeah, yeah, I'm evil incarnate,'" Wise recalled.
Then came Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," the teacher said.
"He very carefully began explaining to me that, because I'm a sinner the wages of that sin is death. And I'm thinking -- and not really paying much attention to what he is saying – 'Gotcha. I'm committing suicide. I'm taking care of that.'"
Romans 5:8 brought Wise's epiphany: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
"I realized all of the sudden that I didn't know just one thing; I knew three things," Wise said, which were that evil existed, good existed, and evil must be destroyed.
The young Wise reasoned that, if only evil existed "then evil would not desire its own destruction. It would not make any sense," he said.
Wise realized what good would do. "Good would become evil so that evil could become good. Jesus Christ, the good one, took my evil so that I could become good," he said.
"That day, the Sunday before Easter 1969, at the age of nine, I accepted Jesus Christ, the one who became my evil so that I could become a son of God."
Scott Sienkiewicz is a writer at Truett-McConnell College.