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Jon Cantey is the director of the Purdue University Ratio Christi student chapter. He graduated from the University of Illinois (Champaign/Urbana) with honors and departmental distinction in Psychology, having focused on computational modeling of auditory transduction. Jon has been a software engineer for 20 years, and currently lives in West Lafayette Indiana with his wife and daughter. Jon is also a Reasonable Faith chapter director serving central Indiana.
Jon grew up Mormon. While he took his religion very seriously, doing everything that was asked with sincerity, he realized at around age 15 that he didn’t actually believe in God. Like many kids, he was told that he simply must not be praying sincerely enough, which didn’t quite satisfy his doubts. Jon left the Mormon church and finished High School and college as a self-proclaimed agnostic.
Jon saw both sides of the debate about God as intellectually inferior and emotionally driven. Most atheists seemed angry toward a being they claimed did not even exist. Theists, on the other hand, could never give a good reason for why they believed — and most seemed to simply say that “you just have to have faith”, which seemed more like wishful thinking than anything else.
While neither side of the debate seemed reasonable, Jon found agnosticism exhausting, trying to live his life on the fence. Deep down he knew that he couldn’t stay there forever. Jon’s undergraduate studies had been in biological psychology and as a result he was leaning toward secular humanism.
The summer before starting graduate school Jon met a cute girl who wouldn’t date him because he wasn’t a Christian. Being highly motivated to convert her to either agnosticism or atheism, he initiated debates about God and truth, that would frequently take them into early morning hours. He would ask questions about epistemology (e.g. “how do you know we are seeing the same color and not just both calling what we see ‘red’?”). And she would come back and challenge him with questions about morality (e.g. “Is it wrong to murder someone?”). She couldn’t answer his questions and he couldn’t answer hers, but he was intrigued by her confidence and general reasonableness. She introduced Jon to a Deacon in her church who was also a highly respected professor in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois. Through one-on-one discussions, this professor blew away Jon’s presupposition that Christians were intellectually inferior.
Jon was given a Bible, “More Than a Carpenter” and “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”. Josh McDowell’s books opened Jon up to the intellectual possibility that Christianity could be true. The final intellectual piece of the puzzle was hearing it said that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. This blew his mind, as it became apparent that a lot of what he was rejecting was man-made religion and not necessarily Christianity.
But Jon also realized that he hadn’t really wanted God to be real. He saw that while he had been intellectually rejecting a misconception of God he was also rejecting the true God with his heart, out of rebellion. As he learned more about God and the darkness within his own heart, Jon discovered that he really did want God to be real. He knew that he wanted love and forgiveness, meaning and purpose, and realized that his current worldview didn’t provide any of that. Jon accepted Christ in the Fall of 1998.
Today, Jon has a wife and daughter and spends most every spare moment doing something related to apologetics or theology. His passion for apologetics is equal parts desire for personal growth and equipping the sleeping giant that is the Church. In the summer of 2016, Jon started a Reasonable Faith chapter for the Lafayette Indiana community, and at about the same time he became involved with the Purdue Ratio Christi chapter. Jon’s day job as a Software Engineer pays for his apologetics habit.
- University of Illinois, BS in Psychology, 1998
- Member of Evangelical Philosophical Society