How a Father Lost a Son and His Faith…and Found it Once Again – by Dr. Dan Harvey

How a Father Lost a Son and His Faith…and Found it Once Again – by Dr. Dan Harvey

I became a Christian shortly after meeting my wife Viv, who grew up as a missionary kid (MK) in the Ivory Coast of West Africa. For many years, we didn’t really question our faith. Yes, there were questions. However, we both felt confident that answers were to be had.

Things began to change in 1994 when our seventeen-year old son fell from a Dallas parking garage to his death. This tragedy was the impetus for us to give ourselves permission to openly express our doubts. For example, Viv began to share the abuse she suffered in Christian boarding schools. Starting at age five, her parents sent her each year to Mamou Alliance Academy in Guinea, a thousand miles from their mission station. She was away from home nine months each year. At that school, children experienced physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. It is no wonder that many MKs have problems establishing and maintaining relationships. Unfortunately, church people were not often very sympathetic when Viv tried to share her story.

Eventually, we did find our way back to faith. During our journey, we’ve come to realize that behavior by those who say they are Christian cannot be laid at the feet of Jesus. Neither can God be blamed for the things we do to ourselves and to others. God is not responsible when parents assume that their kids will be protected, and then choose to send them away. He respects our choices, but is not obligated to intervene to prevent the consequences. It is also apparent that life is hard and, if we live long enough, we all will face traumatic times. God walks with us through them, but never promised that they would not occur. Finally, denominations stuck with answers that no longer work in this 21st century do not determine whether Christianity is true.

Yet, despite all of this, I still was not planning to undertake the difficult process of authoring a book. Life was hectic and time was short. It was not until after I retired from my position as a professor of Computer Science that I seriously entertained the thought. I now had time to really dig into important issues. As one trained to research, and who enjoys the process, perhaps I might have something to say. The question was: “Do I really?”

As I considered this question, I quickly learned that millions of people are walking away from their faith each year. Pew Research studies address this issue, and provide reports that itemize the reasons people give. As I considered this, I realized that most of them parallel things that I thought as I worked through my doubts. I also observed how some of my grand-kids are coming to believe that Christianity is no longer relevant. This is why I dedicated my book to them. We are at a cultural turning point. If current trends continue, I fear that Christianity in the West will reduce to shrinking silos of subculture that will be unable to successfully engage the wider culture. I hope that this does not prove to be true.

The writing experience has been hard, but rewarding. For most of my adult life, my main concerns were raising and supporting my family. I’m grateful that, after I retired, I’ve had the time to devote to this effort. I particularly enjoy carefully considering the objections that others have to the Christian faith. We learn the most from those who do not share our views. It has been fun to discuss different points of view at family gatherings. The entire authoring process has enabled me to sharpen my arguments as I worked to convert ideas to words.

Going forward, I’ll see what happens. I’ve started a blog where I want to attract some who are interested in respectfully discussing the big questions of life. Hopefully, this will include theists of all traditions, agnostics, and atheists. One thing that I always admired about my dad (who was an atheist) was that everything was always on the table for debate. In my blog, I seek to provide outside-of-the-box commentary to biblical interpretations that will provoke discussion so we all can learn and grow. I want also to see if it is possible to engage issues of morality without descending into political squabbles.

About Wrestling with Faith: Challenging problematic Bible stories to navigate crises of belief – 

The 21st century presents many challenges to faith. Are religious teachings still even relevant? Does religion do more harm than good? Combining personal stories and insights, the author of Wrestling with Faith explores these issues. He shares how he reconciled his doubts to again be able to consider himself a committed Christian.

Dr. Dan Harvey started his career in technology, working for a number of fortune 100 corporations as a software consultant, and finally as president of a value-added reseller of computer systems. Dr. Harvey then began a second career as a Computer Science professor. In 2005, he launched the ACORNS project, which supports tribal efforts to restore language and culture. Read Dan’s blog at:


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