DR. FAN YU began his career as a research mathematician at the China Institute of Atomic Energy, near Beijing. At that time he was an atheist and believed in the theory of evolution. But now Dr. Yu believes that life was designed and created by God. Awake! asked him about his faith.
Please tell us about your background.
I was born in 1959 in Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province, China. By the time I was eight years old, the country was experiencing the effects of what is now called the Cultural Revolution. My father, a civil engineer, was ordered to build a railway in a distant wilderness area. For years he could visit us only once a year. During that time I lived with my mother, who was a teacher in an elementary school. We actually lived in the very school where she taught. In 1970, we had to move to Liufang, at the time a poor rural village in the Linchuan District, where food was scarce.
What did your family believe?
My father was not interested in religion or politics. My mother was a Buddhist. At school, I was taught that life evolved by natural processes, and I believed what my teachers said.
Why did you become interested in mathematics?
I was attracted to mathematics because it involves seeking truth through logical reasoning. I went to university shortly after the leader of the revolution, Mao Tse-tung, died in 1976. I chose mathematics as my main subject. After I obtained a master’s degree, my first job involved mathematical research for the design of nuclear reactors.
What was your first impression of the Bible?
In 1987, I came to the United States to pursue doctorate studies at Texas A&M University. I was aware that in America, many people believe in God and read the Bible. Also, I had heard that the Bible contains a lot of practical wisdom, so I thought I should read it.
The teachings of the Bible sounded practical. But I found some parts hard to understand and soon stopped reading it.
How was your interest in the Bible renewed?
The idea of a Creator was new to me, so I decided to do my own research on the subject
In 1990, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses called at my house and showed me what the Bible says about a better future for mankind. She arranged for a married couple to come and help me understand the Bible. Later, my wife, Liping, who had taught high school physics in China and who was also an atheist, began studying the Bible as well. We learned what the Bible says about the origin of life. The idea of a Creator was new to me, so I decided to do my own research on the subject.
How did you go about that?
As a mathematician, I was trained to calculate the probabilities of events. I had also learned that for life to occur spontaneously, proteins would already have to exist. So I tried to calculate the probability of a protein originating by an unguided process. Proteins are among the most complex molecules known, and living cells can have thousands of different types of proteins interacting in very precise ways. I realized, as others have, that the spontaneous formation of a protein is so improbable that it is essentially impossible! I have not read anything in evolution theory that explains to my satisfaction how these highly complex molecules could, in effect, create themselves—let alone the living systems of which they form an integral part. To me, the facts pointed to a Creator.
What convinced you that the Bible comes from God?
As I continued studying with the help of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I learned that the Bible contains many detailed prophecies that have been fulfilled. I also began experiencing the benefits of applying Bible principles. I wondered, ‘How could Bible writers living thousands of years ago write words of wisdom that remain so practical today?’ Progressively, I realized that the Bible is God’s Word.
What continues to convince you that there is a Creator?
When I give thought to the many elements in nature, I cannot help but believe in a Creator. Currently I design software for computers, and I often feel amazed at how our brain outperforms computer programs. For example, our brain’s ability to recognize speech is mind-boggling. Most of us can easily understand speech, even if it includes incomplete sentences, laughter, coughs, stutters, accents, echoes, background noise, or telephone distortion. You might think this unremarkable. But software designers know otherwise. Even the best speech-recognition software is a far cry from the human brain.
Unlike the most complex computers, our brain can discern emotions, recognize accents, and identify speakers by their voice characteristics. Software designers are researching how computers could mimic the human brain’s ability to recognize speech. I am convinced that in doing so they are actually studying the handiwork of God.