Throwback Thursday: I Discover GOD in the Laboratory

My work as a research physicist has provided many opportunities for me to testify to my belief in a personal God and the divine inspiration of the Bible, and to faith in a literal hereafter. Most of my fellow workers have a dedication to service, humanitarianism, fairness, co-operativeness, and the democratic spirit—all very necessary to success in a large government research laboratory. In fact, the natural harmony among scientific workers, with differing backgrounds, all seeking higher truth, presents a worthy challenge to those who have organizational problems in religious societies. For some reason, however, it seems that many scientists feel that we are asking too much of them when we suggest that they subscribe to any code of living that attempts to prescribe or dictate the moral fabric of the individual. For this is what they consider that religion primarily does.

Part of the confusion on this point results from observing those representatives of Christianity whose conduct infers that the Christian life consists in robotlike conformity to ironclad ritual. Then there are those who build up resentment against certain church leaders that have actually been guilty of religious intoleration, hypocrisy, or dishonesty. This latter charge seems the more grievous simply because sin appears worse on the part of those who loudly proclaim righteousness. These faults really pervade all strata of society. With the former group of scientists I think I have a degree of sympathy, since I myself was once headed in their direction! Fortunately, though, I found God in the very laboratories which are often credited with pointing students in the other direction.

That universal inquisitiveness of childhood that usually meets with either, “I don’t know,” or “It is not important to know,” seemed to have been bestowed in double portion upon me. Dissatisfaction with such evasions by trusted elders early bore three significant fruits: (1) I demanded proof for any assertions confronted; (2) I seemed to distrust anyone who evaded answer; and (3) I greatly yearned for knowledge in all areas of human understanding. These three urges stimulated my efforts in scientific and literary disciplines and in methodical religion as well. However, any form of progress that depends on immediate, tangible rewards for the effort devoted to the mastery of specific skills must halt in the field of practical religion. And the self-satisfaction, pride, and independence that so often accompany visible proof of work done produces only confusion in the sphere of practical religion. I was unable to find just the right formula to produce those moral results which, not only I, but all the world sought.

One of my first clues to a correct perception of a sense of moral values conformable to scientific disciplines was afforded by a careful study of the life of the renowned Dr. George Washington Carver, who once testified before the U.S. Congress that the secret of his chemical wizardry was in his asking the Creator who, he affirms, “told me how” to unlock some of the mysteries of His creation. I was deeply impressed by Dr. Carver’s bold but reverent intimacy with God and his affirmation that the Creator actually did show him nature’s secrets, which were then dedicated to humanity’s uplift! The impressions from the study of Dr. Carver’s methods and personal relations with God helped to form a conviction in my own life that God the Creator, the suffering Son, and the pleading Holy Spirit are divine persons whose actions and laws of conduct are harmonized by one principle—love. And any law in religion or in science to be valid must be based on that same love. Then came the realization that God is eager for man to comprehend more and more of His creative works, for thus the understanding ways of God are magnified. Many of Christ’s parables involved the use of nature’s forces to clarify spiritual concepts.

Before too long I dared to pray to God to declare His will to me whenever I entered the physical laboratory or mused amid His out-of-doors. My constant prayer was for God to explain more of His will and to give discernment between true and false teachings. Sometimes it was during the hours of sleep that God would send an answer to a particularly perplexing problem in some physical theory. Often while studying some portion of Biblical truth, I was able to discern a parallel to a physical principle. Or, again, the working out of a physical problem might reveal relationships between variables that were not unlike some social and moral issues. The conviction grew stronger with me that physical and moral laws should reinforce rather than war against one another. Both the scientist and the religionist need to cast aside prejudices, and each should strengthen the other.

As examples of this basic harmony I might cite the following parallels:

The study of the propagation of electromagnetic waves (light, radar, and radio) through space abounds with parallels with the communication of God’s will to man across the vast expanse of the heavens by angels and the Holy Spirit. Just as radio telescopes are today detecting radio energy from outer space bodies invisible to the largest light perceptors, so should our hearts detect the precise calls from God to us.

The study of the enormous speed of light helps to visualize the great speed of heavenly messengers to render instantaneous help. Electron microscopy’s role in detecting minute viruses reminds us of the experiences which God permits to reveal defects in our characters.

The study of the transmission, detection, and image conversion of infrared, ultraviolet, and X-ray energy (all invisible to the human eye) serves to comfort us with the thought that our heavenly Father can see through darkest night and humanly impenetrable barriers to care for us under all circumstances.

Again, the development of magnetic tape recording and electronic memory storage equipment helps to explain how the Creator must be able to catalogue all the propensities of individuals as He works out plans to save every created being.

The study of infra- and ultra-sonics (sound energies imperceptible to the human ear) gives proof that an all-wise God can sense the silent individual longings and meditations of His earthbound children.

The biological sciences afford many other lessons with associated spiritual truths that have long been recognized.

One of the most revealing thoughts that my research experiences have produced is connected with the increase in the number and variety of recognizable unknowns as a function of the scientific advance already made. Then the concept of an eternity, during which the numberless mysteries of creation and redemption will be explored, becomes much more inviting than just some recreated world of leisure and physical relaxation. As one devout writer assures, “We may be ever searching, ever enquiring, ever learning, and yet there is an infinity beyond it.”

I am earnestly looking toward the day when I may realize a permanent appointment under Christ as my Project Leader with salvation and creation as the research theme. THE END.

Originally published in Message Magazine’s January 1958 Edition by Robert T. Maupin

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