Discovering God is an extremely personal experience. How this happens can vary a lot from person to person. As a science student I traveled the path from atheism to Christianity and I hope my story can give inspiration to those who are in need.
I never expected to become someone who believed in God.
I grew up as an atheist; my goal in life was to find objective truths through science. I specialized in math and physics in high school, and later completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Physics.
There isn’t physical evidence that can be used to prove or disprove the existence of God. This means that it wouldn’t be scientific to claim that God does or doesn’t exist. Whether we believe in God or we don’t, our belief is something we have chosen.
When I was younger, I chose not to believe in God. This was based, in part, on the very negative perception of Christianity I had at the time. My impression was that Christians acted as if they were superior – they claimed that they had religious faith and, at the same time, they willingly lived unrighteous lives. This hypocrisy disgusted me. I didn’t want to believe that God had a plan to bring salvation for such people.
The limitations of science
As I grew older, I began to have questions that science does not provide answers for. When I was still in high school I often wondered: “What is my purpose in life?”
I was ambitious and had plenty of motivation. However, it wasn’t long until I became discouraged by the walls that I faced. I sensed that something was lacking in my life. I felt the fear of uncertainty and meaninglessness. I was afraid of failing.
Science is a powerful tool for describing the world that we see. It helps us to build models for analyzing what we observe, to make formulas to predict how a system will evolve, and it provides a way to prove or disprove our hypotheses. But science couldn’t provide a solution to the struggles I was facing in life.
A new understanding of Christianity
In the midst of my struggles, a classmate managed to convince me to visit the church that he attends. At this gathering, someone read from a book written by the founder of their church, Johan Oscar Smith. A few sentences stuck out and immediately provoked my curiosity. “The world and its lusts are nothing; they are emptiness. The pleasures of the world are just a glittering gateway into even greater emptiness.” ¹
This rang true in my heart! As a young person, my heart was longing for a sense of belonging. I often worked to become something, seeking recognition so that people would “love” me! Yet, I feared that if I failed, they would discard me.
That was my motivation to strive after achievements, money and fame! But this only led to a greater need to be praised by the others! In short, I saw how I was lured by the pleasure and lust of this world – and it was clear to see that it wasn’t going to end well.
Here was an explanation for my feelings of emptiness; feelings which science could not explain or provide a solution for. How did I resolve this problem? How could I break through this bondage?
In the time that followed I continued to attend these meetings to learn more about what for me was a new understanding of Christianity. I heard more about the cause of many of my struggles: the lusts and desires that exist within me, or my own demands and expectations. As I sought to be accepted by others, for example, I saw that I was driven by my own expectations of how I thought they should behave. I became irritated and dissatisfied when others didn’t meet my expectations and I found that I could not truly and selflessly love them.
What really kept me bound was myself. And the solution Christianity offers, is to follow Jesus’ example of overcoming sin. Jesus experienced the same lusts and desires in His own nature during His days on earth. (Hebrews 4:15) God gave Jesus strength to overcome, because He was willing to obey God’s will instead of giving in to the temptations He faced.
Doubting and double standards
To begin with I didn’t understand the importance of this solution, and I struggled with how I could overcome my own sinful nature and have victory in my temptations. As I wrestled with this, I began to realize that I was extremely weak. In my temptations, doubt slipped in, raising questions about how serious these lusts really were and if this really was sin, as well as questions about God’s willingness to help me with my struggles, or indeed if He really existed at all. I found myself surrendering to my lusts again and again. How could it be that the more I tried, the further I came from overcoming that rottenness in my nature? I just wasn’t strong enough.
Still, I couldn’t give up because something that was becoming more and more real for me was what the Bible says about the consequences of following these lusts. “… for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8. The more I gave in to my lusts the more I was bound by them. I was ashamed of myself, and I longed to overcome these lusts.
What I really needed was faith.
“Faith.” I hated the idea. I spent a very long time doubting.
It is written that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Faith is a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. It seemed like a direct contradiction to how science works, which is based on the foundation of logical proof and material evidence. How could I know that God was true, without logical proof or material evidence? It bothered me.
But then this verse in the Bible brought me light; “… let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8.
I was precisely that man, who was driven and tossed by the wind, unstable in all his ways, and not receiving the help I needed from God. That verse was a light for me; it showed me that there was great hypocrisy in my doubts. As a science student, I was taught to doubt, to ask questions, to examine claims by testing them, and to conduct experiments to see if they work! But, what had I been doing? I had indeed been doubting if what I heard was true, questioning and asking, “what if?” But I hadn’t put the words to the test!
I realized that I was living the same hypocritical life that I scorned. I was using double standards when dealing with science and faith. What was worse, if I were to stagnate in doubt, and continue to rely on myself, I could never overcome my lusts.
Faith is a decision
There was only one thing left that I had to do to know if God was true or not: to surrender and trust in Him completely, with no doubting, and see if His Word actually worked!
I chose to believe God’s Word when it told me what sin was. In complete faith I asked God for the strength to follow Jesus’ example of overcoming this sin. And when I was tempted to fulfill my lusts, I began to pray to God for strength to deny them again and again, until I started to overcome! Over time, I started to experience victory over the lusts that had bound me.
The spiritual realm and the scientific realm
I also realized that the source of my doubt came from my own high-mindedness. I studied and understood the scientific realm, which is one aspect of life, but I refused to try to test and understand the spiritual aspect. While I thought I was being “intellectual,” I was actually limiting myself from coming to true understanding.
There is a spiritual realm that co-exists with the science realm that I had been studying about. God is spirit. (John 4:24) We people also have a spirit. Through my spirit, I was able to hear God’s voice calling me to be finished with the old life that had bound and weighed me down! And now God has proved His existence to me because I experience His workings in my own life!
Physics and mathematics continue to be a huge part of my life. My motive in studying science is to explore and appreciate the beauty and mysteries of the laws of physics, which God has laid down in our universe. In that respect, I am open to questioning things and seeking out answers. However, I will not dwell on doubt that hinders me from overcoming my own destructive lusts. Nor would I ever again want to waste another minute of my life being so foolishly blind and going astray.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6.
¹ Smith, Johan Oscar (1949) Letters of Johan O. Smith, Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag, Letter #15, October 15, 1905.