How studying science drew me to worship God
I investigated and I made a choice
By Yeo Teck Thiam
It was at a gospel campaign with Rev. Paul Contento as speaker. He was the same generation with the well-known Chinese evangelist John Sung. He spoke on the need to come to God because we are all sinners. He said, “The time will come when we must be judged for all that we have done. The grace of God is given to us for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, and we must not waste the gift while there is time.” So I accepted the salvation God offered in Jesus.
In my student days, one subject called entropy caused me a lot of anguish when I thought about life. Those in physical sciences or engineering will be familiar with the idea in the laws of thermodynamics. Entropy concludes that hot substances will always lose its heat to its environment so that ultimately, the universe becomes a bowl of cold soup. This means that over time, life will cease because temperature will go down towards zero, as in outer space. I didn’t like the conclusion because it gave no meaning to life.
Were such issues important? Yes, because these concepts affect the bulk of common ideas of life. Life is susceptible to temperature change, as we know from all the discussions about climate change. Life ceases if temperature is too high or too low, because living creatures can only survive within a very narrow range in temperature fluctuations. One problem I faced was to explain how creatures keep their selves warm to sustain life. This effort is against entropy and the laws of the physical universe. In sum, unless we first explain how an organism is able to overcome thermodynamical forces in entropy, we cannot explain how a creature adapts and develops on earth.
We may assume that life gives this ability to a creature to keep itself warm from the cold. This is the best we can explain for living creatures. But we are unable to explain further because we do not know how to make dead creatures overcome entropy. We only see dead things turn to dust. Dead creatures always turn cold. Death shows that life cannot come out of a pool of water unless an external power deliberately acts on matter. Life is a special force that enables creatures to overcome entropy. In short, life cannot spontaneously come into existence by itself, as assumed. This assumption is against the physical laws that govern our universe.
Besides this, everyone knows that life is fragile, and cannot exist in polluted environment. We can think of the need to protect the Great Barrier Reef. So it is also not possible to conceive of life in a water site without assuming perfect and conducive environmental conditions.
These issues are known, but it is up to a person to choose what to believe. So I choose to believe in God. Only God can do this, to give life. The alternative is to say I don’t know, and live without meaning or hope. Hence my conclusion was that it is better that I come to know God.
Needless to say, I also lost interest in biological and related molecular studies. But I was already finishing my student days, so I left these there. Then I went to work, to be responsible and to earn my living. But I did not consider this as the goal in life. I sought a better meaning and purpose to life.
So I returned also to my first love in atomic and geometric structures, to understand the orderliness in atoms and particles. There is a design in the physical universe that Scripture says declare the glory of God.
One aspect concerns the starry hosts. We have ample evidence that there is at least one force operating to produce massive bodies like stars, and to keep this universe holding together. Stars have been created by a clever twist in gravity to sidestep entropy in nature for the brief moment. Stars use gravity to cause matter to burn and become hot.
Some may also wonder if this seems a way to overcome briefly the entropy problem. But we won’t want to do this because we must become balls of fire, like the stars. This won’t do because we imagine hell is also a place burning with fire. Certainly, I would not want to live in the fiery furnace of a star in order to have life – I would be in hell, for sure.
So this calls for intrigue. It speaks of time relativity, virtual particles, scalar fields, waves and symmetries, and so on. Are these ideas important?
Yes. It is because in the last 100 years, our knowledge and progress in these mathematical and physical fields have overturned many philosophical and biological propositions, making these inaccurate or sometimes wrong. These math and physical sciences show time is relative, and that we cannot solely conceive of our world in 3 physical dimensions. We need to have time’s 4th dimension, and use space-time.
I also point out that time moves slower at sea level than on the mountain top. You are younger if you live at sea level! Time, it seems, has a changing value in our universe — yet, how strange it is that life in this universe is a hostage of time. In time, we all are dead!
We now know we can no longer prove everything completely. Godel’s incompleteness theorem showed logic is incomplete, as long as it has a priori or axioms. So what we learnt in philosophy, down to Immanuel Kant in the essence of pure reason, trapped men inside an incomplete logic. Wittgenstein (20th century foremost philosopher) says this clearly when he said that philosophy has been reduced to the study of the analysis of languages. In large measure, this spelt the meaninglessness of the intellectual quest of humanism and a deterministic modernism.
You can understand a reason for Kirkegaard’s leap of faith in the origins of existentialism, and also the despair of Sartre in death. It also meant Hegelian ideas, socialism and Marxism, and capitalism, free markets and liberal democracy such as seen in Fukuyama’s ‘The end of History” embraced in USA’s new world order were incomplete. And so from these shortcomings in philosophy, many were forced into a post modernistic quest.
Then I studied and completed Bible College. Theology did broaden my knowledge but I found studying theology or God is not the same as knowing God. It is much simpler to ask God for understanding and wisdom. Even a child can do this! You need not be a theologian to know God. In my quest, I have come full circle, being reminded that God made the lowly things of this world, to nullify the things that are. I learnt the heavens declare the glory of God. I found time is relative for this universe, but our life time on earth is a fixed short existence.
Then I saw that life must exist in eternity, or it must end in death.
What then is knowing God?
I think a relationship with God is always personal. This is because God is a Person. So what you want to know about God is always about how often you spend your time to know Him. It is never about how well God knows you because God knows all things already. It is also not about going to Bible College.
However, a man must choose whether he wants to know God. Jesus says He stands at the door of the heart and knock. If any man will open the door, He will come in. This means a man must decide whether he wants God or not. He must choose to open his heart to Jesus so that He can come in. God does not force His will on any man.
God does not need to do this because He does not need us. Rather, it is because we need God. It is God who chooses to give man this opportunity and it is up to us to accept or reject God’s offer. We have to decide. If we choose some other time, then we do not have God with us yet. The consequences for choosing to delay is our problem. So whatever comes our way in this life, we do not know whether it is for good or bad. But God is not there to protect us because we choose not to call Him yet. This means we have no guarantee God will help. God promises everyone who calls on His name shall be saved. This promise is not available until or unless a man chooses to call God.
All my life, it has never been how smart or lucky I am. It is not because God gave me gifts that I planned well, solved problems, had success, etc. All I know is that God always took care of problems I faced, by giving a way for me to come out well. God guaranteed this as He promised. It has nothing to do with my abilities. This comes about because God is there.
In all these, God makes things work out for good for those who love Him. It is about God’s love for me. The key to this is that I choose to obey God. I just listen to God and do as He commanded. Jesus gave a larger meaning to life when He said that man shall live by every word from the mouth of God. I know also this prepares me to be with God in heaven. I already learnt many of these things on earth. So I get to know God as best as I can. END
Yeo Teck Thiam studied and specialized in perfumery & olfactory senses. Now retired, he keeps up his unusual life-long interest, studying the stars and physical universe as God’s creation
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