When Science And Faith Become One
I had worked as a physics teacher and researcher all my life and had always lived for my personal career—that is, until my family and I went through the plight of sickness and pain.
My Christian Background
Counting from my great-grandparents, I am the fourth generation Christian in our family. My paternal great-grandparents lived in poverty in their ancestral home in Mianyang, Hubei. When missionaries from the Episcopal Church came to Mianyang, their whole family converted to Christianity. My grandfather worked in the local church and hospital. He received training and was a part of the Gospel ministry for the sick.
The family of my maternal grandfather lived in Taohualun Township, Yiyang, Hunan. They were well-off, senior intellectuals of the Qing Dynasty. The entire family converted to Christianity when missionaries from the Norwegian Missionary Society spread the Gospel there. They even started churches and factories, promoted cultural exchanges and philanthropy, and advocated against the long braid and foot binding. The report of this reached far back to Norway. The original newspaper clipping is still being kept in the Library of Congress in the US, as well as the library in Yale University.
My parents met when they were students of the Xiangya School of Medicine in Changsha and later got married. I was born in my maternal grandparents’ home. My grandfather named me Daochu, which was from the first verse of the Book of John: “In the beginning was the Word.” So, I was baptized when I was very young (and later rebaptized). Since my mother always brought me to Sunday services, I naturally assumed that I was a Christian. But from the time I started school, I went on another path—the path of a personal career.
Eager to Learn
In secondary school, I attended church services and youth fellowship. My mother was a devout Christian and a church elder. At that time, I was particularly interested in mathematics and physics, as well as new knowledge, like materialism taught in politics class, and the theory of evolution taught in biology class. Among these, the cosmic age impressed me the most. Science seemed to prove that the universe was billions of years old. But the Bible said that God created the world in six days and the universe is but a few thousand to ten thousand years old. The Bible said that God created life and animals according to their kind; yet the theory of evolution proposed notions like spontaneous generation, and apes evolving into humans. Even though I felt that the exaggeration was obvious, it was hard to prove its errors. I found materialism to be original and gobbled up books on the topic, talking incessantly about Spinoza or Dialectics of Nature.
As a mischievous teenager, when I attended fellowship activities, I asked my brothers and sisters about their best grasp of the history of the universe: “Science ascertained that the universe is billions of years old. But the Bible says that the world is created in six days and that the world is only a few thousand years old. Doesn’t this make it an unscientific superstition?” The brothers and sisters in my fellowship did not address my question, but smiled and said that one day I would understand. Later, I read in the Bible that: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Peter 3:8). I felt that the question might not have such an obvious answer.
Academia and Career
Studying theoretical physics at the university, I had a particular interest in quantum physics and the theory of relativity by Einstein. My graduation thesis was on nuclear structure theory, which I jointly published with my classmate in the periodical Acta Physica Sinica in China. After graduation, I was assigned to teach at a university and began my career path of science education, working my way from a teaching assistant to a full professorship.
In the 1980s, I was invited to work and further my studies in the Department of Physics, at the University of Alberta, Canada, in the capacity of a visiting professor and scientist. I was later invited to the US to conduct research on the solid interface quantum potential energy barrier. Another professor and I proposed and published a new theory on solid interface heterojunction effective quantum potential energy barrier, which was recognized in relevant academic annual conference reports. As a result, I was invited to give lectures and speeches in relevant science centers in the US and Japan.
In late 1980, I relocated to the US and was naturalized five years later. Having married back in China, I moved my entire family to the US. My wife was a physics graduate as well, and also a Christian. The Lord blessed us with a son and a daughter, both of whom studied sciences.
While spending a great deal of time developing my personal career, my faith had weakened. After attending university, I had left the church due to the political atmosphere in China at that time. I withdrew into my own world to pursue only my future and career. After I relocated to the US, I resumed going to church services and fellowship meetings, yet I was only a Sunday Christian; my mind was on earthly matters.
Return of the Prodigal
In 2002, life gave me a huge blow, which changed me for good, and I returned to the arms of Jesus. Early that year, my 90-year-old mother passed away, filling my heart with sorrow. Soon afterwards, my wife was diagnosed with advanced liver cancer. The doctor said she had three months to live. Having shown no obvious symptoms before, my wife’s sudden “death sentence” shocked our family and sent us into deep sorrow. Then during my regular checkup in October, I was also diagnosed with cancer. The biopsy confirmed that it was a fast-progressing kind, which placed me too under a “death sentence.” These huge blows happening one after the other, in such a short window of time, left me in an endless dark abyss. The plans I had to serve, to advance in my career and be successful were all down the drain. I was in absolute despair!
This was when God’s salvation came to us. My wife showed extraordinary faith, surrendering herself entirely to God. She slept well and was not in any pain. She lived one more year instead of the three months the doctor had predicted and passed away peacefully in the spring. Her testimony, “Faith and Peace,” was published in a Christian publication that year.
During this time, my mood fluctuated constantly; I was in pain and unsettled. Then one day, a miracle happened. In my mind, I saw the image of Jesus on the cross, His glory brightly filled the sky. Immediately, I felt that God was calling me, and I began to understand. Only Jesus was my salvation and hope! I bowed down and with a broken spirit prayed: “Lord, I have wronged You! You only ever showed me grace in my life, while I have kept my distance, not serving You but only my own endeavors. My Lord, please forgive me! You are the only one who truly saves. You are the One True Hope. I am willing to change my ways to follow You. From now on, whatever happens, whether life or death, I will follow You, no turning back….”
After repenting, an overwhelming peace enveloped me. My fear was gone, sorrow and bitterness left me, and I was filled with peace and calm. I was made anew—like the prodigal son returning. I thanked God for lifting me up from my pain.
Now I consistently and meticulously prayed about all the arrangements I made in life, including the treatment of my cancer. Prior to this time, I had only received one hormone treatment to manage the advancement of the cancer. Before official treatment was to begin, something miraculous happened. During the checkup, it was found that the tumor was gone! It was very surprising—totally unexpected, even unreasonable! How could it be?
Then I understood: This was God saving me! My previously suppressed emotions, depression, not eating or sleeping, had not aided in healing me of cancer. But when I turned to God for my salvation and hope, He saved me. My sickness was gone, and I was saved! My surprise soon turned into joy, and I couldn’t help giving praise: “Lord, You saved me with Your amazing ways. My life is Yours; my remaining days are Yours. My life is my offering to You; I will live for You.” From a medical point of view, the doctors still advised the usual radiotherapy for me. But I was already liberated and free of fear.
The course of my life changed. I let go of worldly pursuits and realigned my life on fearing and worshipping God. During this period, I remarried. Together, my wife and I took part in church life and the work of Gospel ministry.
The Meaning of Life and the Universe
In the two decades that followed, I never ceased to ponder God’s creation and truth, the path of life that Jesus left us—the Word made flesh, Jesus crucified and resurrected, redemption offered to all who believe. Many among the teaching staff, students, and intellectual groups I met with faced the need of the Gospel that I once experienced. They faced the conflict between faith and reason. A friend from a church in France told me that his daughter who had a strong faith in God, did well in school, and was well-loved by teachers, came home one day crying because what she was hearing from her teacher was different from what the Bible said. “Which one is true?” she cried, and her parents did not know what to say to comfort her. I was deeply touched by how the child suffered for the authenticity of her faith.
Recalling how—as a young person—I was mesmerized by, yet stuck in, this debate on faith and science, the Holy Spirit inspired me to write many articles on the harmonious relationship between science and faith. I wrote for the benefit of intellectuals, including the youth much loved by God. I took part in cross-cultural exchanges, examining such topics as Time and Space: the Perfect Creation (to solve the debate on cosmic age), The Mathematical Principle of Biological Intelligence, and The Absolute Zero Probability of Spontaneous Generation (to solve the debate on creationism and the theory of evolution). I also held a series of talks, providing listeners with references and encouraging them to continue exploring. In line with this spirit of pursuit, I have written many apologetic essays, sharing my faith from a scientific perspective.
Christian faith is rooted in truth, and truth never contradicts facts. As objectivity is an ability created by God, I prayed that God would help Christians attain to a harmonious understanding that merges the truth of the Bible and the facts of science. The Nobel laureate physicist, Charles H. Townes, who was one of the inventors of the laser, said: “What humans face is but the exploration of the purpose and meaning of life. Faith is an attempt to understand the purpose and meaning of the universe. Science is an attempt to understand the purpose and meaning of the universe through structure and function…. If any meaning exists, the two must eventually become one.”
My Later Years
During the past two decades, I have enjoyed good health. Then, unexpectedly, in my recent physical checkup, cancer markers were once again present. The specialist thought it could be a relapse or metastasis and recommended that I have a full-body radioactive examination immediately, to nip the cancer in the bud. But, today, I am not the person I was before. I don’t fear what lies ahead but spend time meditating and praying to God. I had in my heart that I would not undergo treatment but live by the grace of God. I am old in years and showered with grace. The most important thing was to make preparations for my departure. After making this decision, I told all my family members, relatives, and friends. My heart was filled with joy! I had peace, slept well, lived with temperance, led life as usual, continued to let God lead me to spread the Gospel, and gave online talks. Three months later, I went for a follow-up and the cancer markers were all gone! I am full of gratitude and will continue to be a witness for the Lord. May all glory and praise be to Jesus Christ our Lord who loves us so!