Because I lived in a neighbourhood of immigrants, most of the people I met were Hindus, Buddhists, or atheists. The one and only time my maternal grandfather visited from Nova Scotia, he asked me to say a prayer before dinner. I didn’t know what to say, but I bowed my head and mumbled something. That’s about as close as I came to anything religious.
I received a Gideon Bible when I was at school, but I was already so involved in my astronomy studies I didn’t open it until several years later, when one of my teachers challenged me to learn about religion in order to have a better understanding of the world. By that time, emerging evidence favouring the Big Bang convinced me God must exist, but I doubted a being of such awesome power would care to communicate with humans. I assumed the various ‘holy books’ were merely human attempts to explain the unknown, and that their obvious errors in depicting the natural world would prove my point.
After reading many such books, I felt sure my initial assumption was correct. But then I began to look closely at the Bible. The very first page arrested my attention. Here was a beautiful – and testable – overview of natural history. I began spending one to two hours daily studying this book, looking for a provable error. After nearly two years, I had found none. Mysteries, yes. Errors, no.
At this point I was convinced the source behind this writing must be the one responsible for the universe and life. I also recognised Jesus as the incarnate deity whose sacrifice for sin and resurrection from the dead was the only hope for humanity, and for me, personally.
For a few months I wrestled with the momentous ramifications of acknowledging God’s authority over my life, but at last I bowed before him and signed my name in the back of that Gideon Bible. I still carry it with me.
The day after making that commitment, I went to university with a desire to tell someone about it, but no idea how to begin. Then my lab partner approached with a look on his face I had never seen. He said, ‘Hugh, I’m having some problems, and I need to talk with someone about God. Do you know anyone who can tell me about God?’ That was as real as can be!
Coming to faith was both a gradual process and a moment of surrender. Of course, since that personal commitment, the process has continued. My spiritual growth was really stunted until I finally met some fellow believers – eight years later.
I was still a fledgling disciple, very rough around the edges, when I started my postdoctoral research. My experience in sharing my faith with fellow scientists led me to believe that most people resist Christ’s claim on their life due to pride, not disbelief. And to break down pride typically took a long time. Then a Christian friend told me, ‘You’re wrong, Hugh. Most people struggle with doubts about whether the Bible’s message is actually true.’
He challenged me to share some of the evidence that built my faith with people outside the campus. To my amazement, the first time I did so, the man
I was talking with stopped me after about ten minutes and said, ‘That’s enough evidence. Now tell me what I need to do about it.’ I guess you could say that was a major step in the launch of my ministry of evangelism and apologetics.
I wouldn’t say my faith has been rocked, but I’ve been stunned by the harsh opposition coming at me from fellow Christians,specifically from those who believe the universe is just a few thousand years old, and from those who believe evolution explains everything.
I’m still waiting and praying for certain family members and friends to become fully committed followers of Christ, and for a major breakthrough among believers – including a wider realisation that scientific truth and biblical truth go hand in hand. Science is an ally, not an enemy.
There have been so many answers to prayer that have encouraged me. One would be God bringing both my parents to faith in Christ before they died.
Also, God spared my life not once but twice from potentially fatal and totally unexpected health crises.
Every day I meet people who respond to God’s call and in whom Christ’s character is visible and growing. Every day, as I read the Bible and the scientific literature, I discover even more reasons to believe the two ‘books’ come from the same author. I am a Christian because my Christian faith is firmly rooted in testable truth.