I'm into physics. Do I believe in miracles?
Author: Marshall Huang
Grandpa, someone who loves Jesus and music
My name is Marshall Huang, a member of First Evangelical Church Glendale for over 50 years. I matriculated from Occidental College in 1967 with a double major in Physics and Mathematics and obtained a Masters in Physics from Purdue University in 1969. I then enrolled at the University of California at Irvine in the spring of 1969 intending to pursue a Ph.D. but was derailed from those plans after I found a summer job at TRW. That two-month summer job became a 32-year-career. I was quickly promoted from being a Member of the Technical Staff to Section Head, then Department Manager, then Laboratory Manager of the Microwave Laboratory where I managed about 150 engineers, technicians, and administrative staff. I then held different positions at TRW, including serving two years in managing TRW's intellectual assets, advanced systems manager, receiving 8 US patents, nominated 4 times for the corporate Chairman's Award for Innovation, and receiving that honor twice before retiring in 2001. From the perspective of 20 years in retirement, I realize all those professional and technical achievements mean very little. As my brother-in-law used to say: “Yesterday, I was in Who's Who; today, they ask who's he?”
Even though I grew up in a warm, loving, Christian home knowing a lot about Christianity, theology, and music, I went through a period in my later teenage years questioning my parent's beliefs. I worried about death, about being struck with cancer. I then heard the testimony of Elder Wu Yung from Taiwan who shared about his miraculous cure from cancer and wondered if miracles could be real. Attending a liberal college as Occidental challenged me to think through issues like relativism, ethics, evolution, miracles, the scientific method, etc. Two books helped me a lot. C.S. Lewis' book on Mere Christianity and later, Josh McDowell's book on Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Here are my conclusions after over a half-century of pondering.
The age of the universe and evolution
I am generally of the opinion that the universe is only about 13.7 billion years old. The Hubble telescope can take us back about 13.4 million years and the new James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch later this year with its IR sensors will take us back to 100 million years earlier when the stars and galaxies began to form. Observation tells us the universe is running down, not becoming more orderly. The law of entropy just does not allow the formation of more intelligent life forms. If one reads Genesis and concludes that “a day” is 24 hours and God can certainly create apparent age into the universe (while I think a day could be translated as an age or era just as well), I do not think there is any reason for God to fool us. Regardless of the universe’s true age, whether a few thousand years or 14 billion, the probability of life forming spontaneously in such a short time is infinitesimal. There is just not enough time for evolution to take place. So “scientists” propose unscientific theories, the anthropic principle for example, or proposing an infinite number of parallel universes, both of which are complete speculation and proposed only to advance their own bias for evolution and to leave God out of the equation.
The Scientific Method
I grew up at a time that science was respected and admired. I have learned that science can only answer the question “what” and “how” but not the “why”. We can write mathematical equations to describe the phenomena we are observing and so we can quantify what has happened. We can then use these equations to predict the repeatable, but cannot explain the unrepeatable (like miracles) and it cannot tell us why something happened. We can look back almost to the singularity of the “big bang” but we cannot look before that, and we cannot tell why the bang happened. So, I learned the limitations of the scientific method and the legal-historical method of proof. This is how we prove cases in our courts. It is based on physical evidence (such as fingerprints, DNA, autopsy, etc.) and witness accounts, both oral and written. We believe Abraham Lincoln was our past president because we have physical evidence, and we have his recorded speeches and eyewitness accounts. So, we have excellent, multiple evidence of Jesus both recorded within the Bible and non-Biblical data. Many skeptics have gone out of their way to disprove the evidence of Jesus' resurrection and ended up becoming believers, from Peter Stoner from the mid-1950s to more recent people like journalist Lee Strobel. I still remember hearing a story from about 50 years ago. A young student complained to his pastor that his college professor told him Moses crossing the Red Sea is no miracle. It was the Sea of Reeds, a shallow lake with only a few inches of water that could be easily crossed. The pastor answered, that if it was a shallow lake, then what a marvelous miracle occurred. The young man was astonished at his pastor's explanation: it was miraculous if the whole Egyptian army could drown in only a few inches of water!
Miracles and answered prayers
Once I understood the legal-historical proof methodology and learned that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the best-documented event in history, I had no more problems with accepting miracles, even today. In my own experience, the continuing “coincidence” of answered prayers attests to the miracle of God hearing our prayers and answering them. Sure, they could be coincidences, but when they happen time and again, the probability that they are all coincidences becomes so small that it is easier for us to believe in answered prayers and miracles. For example, I first experienced such a miracle in Seattle in the early 1990s during a short-term mission trip I was leading. I was to go to a person's house for a BBQ dinner outdoors and it was threatening rain. Our team prayed together and the rain did not fall. It happened again in Thailand a few years later, then in Cambodia, the Philippines, and India. Each time, we prayed, the rain would stop when we needed to be outdoors and it would pour when we were indoors. We prayed for healing, and people were healed, even members of our own team. We prayed for legs to be matched in length (do you know a lot of people have one leg slightly shorter than the other and that causes a lot of backaches and pain) and we witnessed the shorter leg lengthened to match the other as we prayed. Did every prayer get answered? Sometimes “No,” and sometimes, “Wait, the time is not yet right,” but enough has been answered that I do believe in miracles, absolutely!
Ethics and Relativism
We live in an age of tolerance, pluralism, and relativism. How do I deal with the changing mores of our time? I look to the unchanging word of God. It has everything to say about what we deal with today. Remember the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus (John 8:1-11)? Just as Jesus forgave her but told her to “go and sin no more”, so I am to love sinners (whether adulterers or LBGTQ for example) because Jesus loved them. Of course, I cannot forgive their sin as Jesus can but I can point them toward the one who can, Jesus. But I need to hold fast to absolute truth. In my almost 40 years of leading our church's youth music ministry team, Vision, I have met several who were attracted to the same sex, more in recent years than in the past. Because we have accepted them regardless of their sexual orientation, some of them have come to realize that Jesus loves them too. Jesus made the most audacious statements. He said in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Jesus leaves no room for compromise. As C.S. Lewis said: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”