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Steve Jobs’ Views of Religion Shown in Biography

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on October 29, 2011
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USAToday: “Biography sheds new light on Steve Jobs’ life

The innovations that Steve Jobs’s creativity and determination have brought into this millennium abound. His recent death at 56 called to mind his 2005 speech when he said, “Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”1

He said that since age 17 he’d resolved to live every day as if it were his last, and energized by that thought he provided creative answers to many of our technological needs.

Yet, according to Steve, when he was 13, the church failed to give him answers he needed, and he chose to walk away from Christianity. According to Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s biography (which was to have been titled iSteve), Steve’s parents were

not fervent about their faith [but] wanted him to have a religious upbringing, so they took him to the Lutheran church most Sundays. That came to an end when he was thirteen. In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. . . . “Does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?” [The pastor answered,] “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.” Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.2

According to the biography’s description, the Steve Jobs “tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.”

According to the biography’s description, the Steve Jobs “tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.”3 It describes him as the “ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination.”4 He has given the world much. But the failure of religion to give him the Bible’s answers to his questions robbed him by closing his eyes to the greatest gift available to him.

While we enjoy the legacy of innovations5 Steve Jobs has left us, we Christians should be mindful of the warning his experience as a thirteen year old has also left. Like so many described in the chapter titled “Sunday School Syndrome” in AiG’s book Already Gone , Steve did not get the answers to the questions troubling his heart and so walked away from God.

We obviously do not know what Steve Jobs would have decided if he’d been given the answers the Bible provides about death and suffering. God created a perfect world where people could have lived forever with no death and no suffering. Yet Adam and Eve decided to make their own rules and reject their Creator’s authority and love. Their disobedience brought death and suffering into the world. All of creation was cursed because of their sin, and all of us display the same sinful nature they did. God didn’t start the suffering, but He stepped into this world as Jesus Christ to experience the fullness of it, to pay the price for man’s sin, and to make a way to put an end to death.

We wish Steve had been given this answer. Later he expressed admiration for “living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it.”6 Jesus Christ loved children. And Jesus died to put an end to death and suffering. If Steve had been introduced to the Creator in such a way as to understand where suffering came from and then gotten to know the Jesus of the Bible, perhaps he’d have made a different decision.

God expects us all to study the Bible’s answers to questions people like young Steve Jobs asked that Sunday. 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to always be prepared to give answers. We never know when the person we’re talking to—child, teenager, or adult—is asking the crucial question, the question that is the last straw for him, the question that can direct his mind to consider the claims of Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers or that can turn him away forever. Our answers need to be powerful, genuine, loving, and—above all—biblical.

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Footnotes

  1. news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html
  2. W. Isaacson. 2011. Steve Jobs, pp. 14-15. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  3. www.amazon.com/Steve-Jobs-Walter-Isaacson/dp/1451648537
  4. www.amazon.com/Steve-Jobs-Walter-Isaacson/dp/1451648537
  5. www.answersingenesis.org/media/image/cartoons/after-eden/science-is-great
  6. W. Isaacson. 2011. Steve Jobs, pp. 14-15. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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