This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/kathryn-applegate-endless-forms-most-beautiful/gods-providence-in-texas
I’ve been grateful for this glimpse of God’s providence over the last week. Have you ever looked back to see in hindsight how God was working in your life? What’s your favorite example in Scripture where God clearly worked through natural means to accomplish his purposes?
I sure have! Thank you for sharing your story. (Of course, on BioLogos I’m considered not quite a Christian and called all kinds of horrible things.)
I too grew up in the Texas panhandle and remember as a high school student (late 1960s) when my dad had an irrigation well dug. They hit the Ogallala water bearing formation 400 feet below the flat Texas plains, and when the well began pumping, small shells were mixed in the sand that initially came with the water. I still have them in my drawer, a testament to the wonder of creation, and a certain knowledge of the ancient sea that once covered high Texas plains.
What a neat story! It’s hard to imagine the world looking so different, so very long ago, but tangible evidence, “certain knowledge of the ancient sea,” excites my mind and imagination too. Thanks for sharing.
Sorry to hear that, beaglelady. I haven’t been present in those discussions. Labels can be hurtful. I’m glad you’re here.
I began college as an architecture major. I had always done well in school, but found the 5-hours per day required per day for Design class interfered with my other studies, and I started to realize that I was not going to become the next Frank hi Lloyd Wright. After months of inner turmoil, one night at 2 am, while working in the architecture building on the project due the next day, I heard a voice speaking clearly in my head, saying “get out of architecture.” I know that I had finally made a decision that had been nagging at me for months, but I have always thought of that experience as what it meant when in the Bible it says someone heard the voice of God. After I heard that very audible voice, I calmed down and continued working through
the night, went back to the dorm for breakfast, and eventually changed my major to computer science, which I really enjoyed, and which made me a good living.
(I don’t know what button I hit accidentally to send my first message before I had finished it.)
Like you, I was drawn to a career in science, and I am still running a small company supplying computer software to the pharmaceutical trade in the area of CADD, computer-aided-drug-design. As a ‘Cradle Catholic, I was impressed in early life with the biblical miracles, especially with Jesus’ resurrection which is the foundation of our Christian Faith. Strange as it may seem, it is easier to believe in great miracles of the past, miracles that changed history, than it is to believe that God is present in our daily lives, working subtly to accomplish His purposes through natural means. At 19, as a infantry private in World WarII, I had two experiences that led me believe that He was present in my life–actually prolonged it for over 70 yrs as of now. [This episode was published in Joan Wester Anderson’s two books: ‘Where Angels Walk’ and ‘Where Miracles Happen’]
I am naturally skeptical, and I told Joan that I considered my experience as against all reasonable odds but not necessarily a miracle. But she published it anyway. I found that most of my scientific colleagues were skeptics by nature, and, sadly, for most of the Christians, their faith had ceased to be really relevant. Then, a little over a dozen years ago, something happened that ‘beat the odds’ by over 50 million to one–something, not earth-shaking- but something that solved one scientist’s problem he, as an agnostic, was having with his Christian wife and sons. This ‘happening’ left him and the three other witnesses hardly able to believe what they had just seen. To me, it was more clearly a miracle than the event Joan described in her book. I call it ‘The Miracle of the Panel Truck’. I can send a short write-up of the event to you if you’d like.
Intriguing! Sure, I’d love to read about it. Thanks for sharing, Al.
Here’s my miracle story. Hope its not too long
The Miracle of the Panel Truck
On Friday afternoon, after a weeklong Gordon Conference (topic: QSAR,
our specialty) at a New Hampshire school, the attendees board busses for the
two hour trip back to Logan airport in Boston. While standing in line
waiting to board, I visited with my colleague, Prof. Eric Lien. As the people
in front of us boarded, that bus was declared full, and so we were first in line
for the next one. This was fortunate, because we picked the right front seat
in the bus that gave us a clear view of the road ahead as well as out the
window to our side. Across the aisle sat Prof. Hugo Kubinyi and Prof. Jo
Seydel, two of our close friends and colleagues who also had that good view.
After discussing events of the conference for the first half of the trip, Eric
turned to me and said: “I noticed that in your free time you were reading the
book ‘God and the New Physics’ (by Paul Davies). Tell me, Al, do you
consider yourself a religious person?”
I was taken off guard by this question but replied: “I get a great deal of
satisfaction from my Catholic Faith, and I do attend Mass every week—if
that makes me religious, then I guess I am.”
Eric continued: “That’s what I guessed, and that’s why I thought you might
help me with a problem I am facing at home.”
His asking me for help with a personal problem came as a total surprise, and
even before I knew the nature of it, I felt uneasy about my ability to
contribute anything of value. I had met his lovely wife, Linda, and I hoped
that there was not some rift between them.
Eric quickly pressed on: “Let me give you some background that has led up
to my problem. I was born in Taiwan and lived there until I graduated from
high school. My parents were religious in the sense that they followed the
wisdom of Confucius and Lao Tse and honored their ancestors with a small
shrine in their home. When some Christian missionaries founded a school in
our town and I expressed a curiosity about their teachings, they let me
attend. Very quickly the missionaries made it clear that ‘Unless you profess
Christ as your savior, you will be damned to Hell.’ This completely turned
me off of Christianity.”
He then continued: “Eventually I emigrated to the U. S., enrolled at U.S.C.
and continued on to get my Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. In the meantime I
met Linda, and we were married. She was raised as a Christian, and at that
time I had no qualms about her desire to raise in the Christian Faith any
children we planned on having. But now our children are old enough to go
to church with her, and they are asking ‘Why doesn’t Daddy come with
“I told Linda that that was not part of the bargain. It would be dishonest for
me to attend religious services I definitely do not believe in. The children
would soon sense that I was being a hypocrite, and I did not want that. This
disagreement has become quite a serious concern in our otherwise serene
and happy family life.”
He finished his story with the question: “What do you think I should do,
By this time our bus had reached the outskirts of Boston and was in some
heavy traffic approaching a bridge. All the while Eric was telling me his
‘life story’, I could tell that our colleagues, Hugo and Jo, were paying rapt
attention—now probably wondering how I was going to ‘get off the hook’
that Eric put me on. At this moment, just before traffic came to a complete
halt, a white panel truck pulled in front of our bus and stopped, in full view
through our large windshield.
The only inscription on this white truck were the words in large blue script:
God Loves You!
The four of us looked at the inscription for ten seconds or so, and then I
found my voice: “That is about as good advice as I or anyone else could
give you, Eric.”
Hugo slapped his knee, burst out laughing and said: “Al, how in Hell did
you manage that?”
Still somewhat dazed, I replied: “I don’t know
And I still don’t. Over a period of 80 years I have observed a lot of traffic,
but only that once did I see a panel truck with that as its only message. And
it had to appear in that exact second to effectively ‘get me off the hook’.
What odds must be overcome for a ‘happening’ to be considered a
‘miracle’? Can a scientist bear witness to a true miracle?
So what was the result of this miracle? I don’t know how much an effect it
had on two of the witnesses, Jo and Hugo. They probably remain ‘friendly
agnostics’. But not Eric. Not long ago I asked him if he remembered the
‘incident’. He replied: “Not only did I remember it, I used it in my talk at
my retirement dinner to remind people that, when all else fails, one can turn
to God for help.” I don’t know if Eric became a baptized Christian, but I
firmly believe he has become the ‘religious person’ that he surmised I was at
the Gordon Conference, and that he feels no hypocrisy or schizophrenia in
being a scientist in his ‘weekday’ job.
And how did it affect my life? I had already survived two ‘close calls’ as an
infantryman in World War II that the army medics thought impossible. So I
felt comfortable with the belief that prayer (Mom’s, Grandma’s, and other
relatives’) is sometimes answered. But I hadn’t prayed for guidance to
properly answer Eric’s important question—yet that guidance was given in a
way that can only be described as miraculous. Is it possible that our Creator
(or his angels) are right beside us at all times? My ‘persona’ as a skeptical
scientist finds that hard to believe, but sometimes God gives you no choice.
I think I know how you feel. In giving presentations to the adult confirmation class in our parish I was considered somewhat of a heretic–too liberal, too modern, not traditional enough. In philosophical discussions with my agnostic scientific colleagues, it’s: “Al, how can you be so gullible as to believe in a caring God?” So I guess I am keeping to some sort of middle ground. Maybe that’s bad. Maybe not.
I am not sure what you have been called; however, we must be friendly with each other during these discussions. It is a topic of how evolutionary creation and faith can march hand in hand. One can be a Christian and a scientist too. How do faith and science and what they teach fit together? I believe as Dr. Collins that God created more colonies of human beings than just Adam and Eve. That is the answer to Clarence Darrow’s question to William Jennings Bryan during the Scopes Trials. Where did Cain get his wife? To me the answer is simple. God created more than Adam and Eve. This is implied in the Priestly Account of creation in Genesis 1. The word adam means people, and just not one man. Did Adam and Eve really exist or are they just an allegory? I believe they existed and represented all humanity as a test if mankind would follow God or not. They did not and that indicated that all mankind would not. This conclusion does bring up other questions; however, I believe this view is quite probable. God bless and have a Happy Holiday Season.
Henry, are you aware of the term, the Great Leap Forward? This is the term used by today’s most prominent paleontologists to account for the evidence that our biological human nature first appeared in east Africa some 200,000 yrs. ago, but our human behavior suddenly became apparent only about 40,000 yrs ago, evidenced by burial with grave goods, beautiful paintings and sculpture and symbolic language–and in all probability the knowledge of good and evil–a conscience. Adam & Eve can be seen as symbolic of the (perhaps very few) Homo sapiens given this gift of mind, but they could teach it to their fellows epigenetically. This answers Darrow’s question: 'Where did Cain get his wife?" The archaic Homo sapiens were the People of Nod.
I like your text here VERY much. I see the story of Adam and Eve as the story of the emergence of the first person with what God would considered Moral Agency. It is a very good match to the story told in the Bible.
Hello there. I have heard the term before many years ago, or perhaps it just seems to be many years ago. I see nothing wrong with your view. You are not heterodox and it is an interesting concept. I feel that I may be more in line with the view I hold; however, the concept you present is something to consider as long as one holds to Christianity. I must admit that you are a deep thinker. I wish to thank you for sending this statement. Are you a scientist? I am one in a sort of way, i.e., I am a linguist. I have studied the evolution of language and enjoy all the possibilities. I have a BA in German and Linguistics and an MA in Religion. I went to a seminary that believed in Young Earth Creationism and Pretribulationism. I accept neither concept. I am some type of Old Earther ( evolutionary creation or progressive creation) . I believe Hugh Ross is interesting too even though I may not hold all his views. I wish to thank you for writing. I hope to hear from you again.
I must say that you train of though is quite interesting. You are my father’s generation. I am sixty and my father would be eighty-seven now. My parents’ spirits are now both in heaven. I miss them. Thanks for the great conversation. Eddie’s was also interesting.
I’m pleased that you found my philosophy of ‘Original Blessing’ interesting. During my long and happy life I have had a few unusual experiences-***-encounters***, you might call them. They all add up to a staunch belief that each of us is loved by God, and meeting our Creator will be an occasion for joy, not for fear or dread. I have enjoyed the discussions in the BioLogos Forum by serious students of philosophy and religion, but when all is said and done, the simple Faith imparted to me by my mother and the Sisters of St. Joseph during my early years has had a lasting value that reason and intellect can add very little to.
God's providence in Texas further comment
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