Friday, January 22, 2016

An undergraduate biochemistry lecture converts an atheist to Christianity

I'm reading Creation or Evolution: Do we have to choose? by Denis Alexander in preparation for our discussion next Friday at Wycliffe College on the University of Toronto downtown campus [Discussing the conflict between science and religion with Denis Alexander].

Denis Alexander is a biochemist at the University of Cambridge (UK). I thought I'd share one of the stories in his book.
At the church I attend in Cambridge we baptised an undergraduate in the natural sciences who had come to a personal, saving faith in Christ from a completely atheistic background. As is usual in our church, just before being baptised she explained publicly to the whole congregation how she had become a Christian, telling us she had become convinced there must be a God while sitting through a standard biochemistry lecture, hearing the amazing story of how two meters (about six feet) of DNA are packaged into a single cell. Of course the lecturer was not talking in religious terms at all, but she described to us how the beauty of that engineering feat overwhelmed her as she listened, giving her the deep intuition there must be a God, so leading her onward in he personal pilgrimage to put her trust in this creator God through Christ. Truly natural theology at work!
That got me thinking. I've been describing chromatin and packing in my textbooks since the first version in 1987. There must have been several hundred thousand students who have read my descriptions since then.

I wonder how many I've converted?


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah I've seen my fair share of those. My all-time favorite is the argument from "diagrams with abbreviations and lots of arrows", like a typical metabolic chart.

      Or the argument from "computer engineers like to arrange information in tables, I can arrange these labels of codons in a table, that makes it look designed". Seriously.

    2. And then it's often the same people who start with that argument that go on to accuse atheists of not being philosophically rigorous...

  2. I was watching Lawrence Krauss debates yesterday, he had the same effect on me. The lengths he was willing to reach to support his arguments were astounding. He did more for my faith than Lennox or the other opponents probably ever could.

    1. Which one? Link please! I really enjoy watching Krauss embarrassing himself in public. I think he lost one of his senses: shame

    2. Hey Beau,

      Every time I read one of your comments I thank god that I'm an atheist.

  3. This one will leave you scratching your head.

    1. Funny that John Lennox often left me feeling that way - even when I was a Christian.

      Having said that I don't think Kraus is very good at expressing his ideas - he also often tends to attack strawmen

    2. I have to agree, Lawrence Krauss is a terrible debater and I'm saying this as an atheist. I wanted to just hide my face in my palms when I saw his debates with William Lane Craig. Rarely have I seen anyone get his ass handed to him so thoroughly as Krauss did by Craig. Seriously, if you think that debate with John Lennox is something you should watch the ones he had with Bill Craig. It's so bad I literally couldn't watch them and had to just listen to them with the window minimized and while playing a game :P

      His public lectures are interesting enough as long as he just sticks to talking about physics and cosmology, but when he starts blathering about religion I just feel embarrassed.

      I suspect it's sort of the same way christians feel when somebody like Pat Robertson starts talking on "their behalf".

    3. Let's be fair though.. John Lennox is far more cringeworthy. Sometimes I listen to him talk just to practice spotting and counting logical falacies.

      Given that he's a mathematician, you'd think logic would be his strong suit.

      I think this series does a reasonable job of summarising the types of things you might expect to hear him say:

      The other thing that isn't mentioned here is that he likes to proclaim that there is no contradiction between science and Christianity but then he denies that humans are related to other animals through common descent. He literally believes that God created humans separately out of dust.

      For a smart man (supposedly) who spends a lot of time talking about science and faith, his knowledge about the evidence for common descent is appalling.

  4. The anatomy and physiology help in to reach to support his arguments were astounding. He did more for my faith than Lennox or the other opponents probably ever could.