Czar (pronounced Cezar) Bernstein had an interest in philosophy of religion before he joined the Ratio Christi chapter at Florida State University (FSU). He already knew Tim Hsiao, one of the first students who started the chapter. Hsiao invited Bernstein to attend.
“I had been studying apologetics for some time,” Bernstein says, “so I decided to go with him.”
Bernstein explains his faith background, and how his interest in religion developed.
“My mother was a Christian, but my father was nominally Jewish. They separated when I was only five. I saw them have a lot of religious conflicts, and I thought if they couldn’t agree there must be problems with both faiths. My mother raised me mostly as a Christian, although when I would be with my dad we celebrated Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and Passover. But we never went to synagogue, and when I started thinking about things like why there was evil in the world, I lost faith in both religions.”
In high school, Czar joined the debate team and competed around the country for three years, mostly centering on public policy issues. Meanwhile, he also became interested in formal debates questioning the existence of God.
“I looked for debates on the question of God’s existence online,” he says. “Some had good answers for a basis of faith, so I started believing as a theist. As I continued to explore, I re-embraced Christianity but only intellectually at first. Then I began praying and looking further into evidence for Christ’s resurrection. I found the writings of William Lane Craig, who has been a particularly important influence on me.”
Bernstein graduated this past December with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He intends to become a university professor, and this fall he will study toward that goal at the University of Oxford.
“My grandmother on my dad’s side was born and raised in England. I’ll stay with her while in Oxford, and I already know some people there whom I met online through apologetics.”
Before Bernstein found out he was getting the Legatus Christi certificate, he didn’t know the award program existed.
“I was so surprised to get it,” he says. “At that time, if I remember, our Chapter Director Ken Klos couldn’t be at the meeting. Tim was our president, so he presented the Legatus Christi to me.”
Klos has this to say about presenting Bernstein with the Legatus Christi recognition.
“It was very simple to pick Czar. He was already an excellent apologist before he even joined us. His approaching graduation and excellence enabled me to announce the possibility of receiving this certificate to others, while setting the standard very high. I hadn’t previously told our group about it. Rick [Schenker, president of Ratio Christi] has enabled us to present LC as an encouragement to our graduating seniors – but a recipient doesn’t have to be graduating. I’m confident that Czar will live up to LC’s standards.”
Many university professors, especially in the field of philosophy where Bernstein is headed, have taken a position against creationism and the existence of God. We asked if he could help curb that trend.
“I hope to stay involved in using apologetics,” Bernstein says. “We were fortunate at FSU because there were three or four Christian instructors in the field. But since most philosophers who are teaching have already settled their position, it’s best to direct our apologetics toward people who haven’t made up their minds about Christianity yet.”