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THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES

The Promise of a Paradise Earth Changed My Life!

As told by Ivars Vigulis

  • YEAR BORN: 1974
  • COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LATVIA
  • HISTORY: RISK-TAKING MOTORBIKE RACER
Ivars Vigulis as a motorcycle racer

MY PAST:

I was born in Riga, the capital of Latvia. My sister and I were raised by our mother. Although Mother is a Catholic, we only went to church on the religious holidays. I have always believed in a higher power, but as a youth, I was distracted by many other interests.

As I grew up, my mother noticed that I had a flair for taking things apart and putting them back together again. With so many things in the house that could be taken apart, she was always worried about leaving me home alone. So she gave me a metal construction kit, which I loved to put together and then tear apart. That interest went hand in hand with another passion of mine—motorbiking. My mother enrolled me in a motorbike race called Zelta Mopēds (The Golden Moped). I started racing with mopeds and, later, with motorcycles.

I was a quick learner and soon became very successful in this fast and dangerous sport. Three times I won the Latvian championship for several motorcycle-racing classes, and twice I won the Baltic States Championship.

HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:

At the peak of my career, my girlfriend Evija (who later became my wife) came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. She had found some of their literature, which contained a coupon for requesting a Bible study. She filled out the coupon and mailed it in. Soon, two Witnesses visited her, and she began to study the Bible with them. That was fine with me, but at the time, I didn’t have any great interest in spiritual things.

Later on, the Witnesses invited me to sit in on Evija’s Bible study and listen. I accepted the offer, and I liked what I heard. One thing that especially touched my heart was the Bible’s promise of a paradise earth. For example, I  was shown the passage at Psalm 37:10, 11, which says: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked will be no more; you will look at where they were, and they will not be there. But the meek will possess the earth, and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” That promise really appealed to me.

My spiritual interest continued to grow. I began to realize how many religious lies there are. In contrast, Bible teachings struck me as being refreshingly logical and clear.

As I continued to study the Bible, I learned how highly Jehovah values life and how precious it is to him. (Psalm 36:9) That had an impact on my racing—I no longer wanted to risk my life. Instead, I wanted to use my life to give glory to Jehovah. Therefore, the fame, the glory, and the thrill of motorcycle racing were no longer important to me.

I came to understand that I have a responsibility to the Giver of life

In 1996, I attended an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Tallinn, Estonia, not far away from the motor stadium where I had raced often. At the convention, I saw people from many different countries meeting together in harmony and peace. For example, when one of the Witnesses lost her purse, I assumed that she would never see it again. Before long, though, a Witness found the purse and returned it with nothing missing. I was in a state of shock! I now understood that the Witnesses really live by the high standards of the Bible. Evija and I continued to progress in our studies, and in 1997 we were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Ivars Vigulis helps repair cars at the branch office

HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:

Some of my friends have died because of their wild, fast lives on motorcycles. From studying the Bible, I came to understand that I have a responsibility to the Giver of life, Jehovah. That understanding has probably saved my life.

For four years, Evija and I had the privilege of serving as full-time ministers at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Riga. Now we find joy in raising our daughter, Alise, and helping her grow to love Jehovah. I also have the privilege of spending a day each week at the translation office, repairing cars and other things that are broken. It makes me really happy to put the skills that I learned as a child to good use! Yes, I am still tearing things apart and then putting them back together again.

I highly value the privilege of witnessing about the only true God together with my family, all thanks to what I learned from the Bible. Indeed, the promise of a paradise earth changed my life!

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In ancient times, a man writing Bible verses

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The Bible’s answer

No, the entire Bible is harmonious. While some passages might seem to show the Bible contradicting itself, they can usually be understood correctly by applying one or more of the following principles:

  1. Consider the context. Any author can appear to contradict himself if his words are taken out of context.

  2. Consider the writer’s viewpoint. Eyewitnesses might describe an event accurately but not use the exact same wording or include the same details.

  3. Take into account historical facts and customs.

  4. Distinguish between the figurative and the literal uses of a word.

  5. Recognize that an action may be attributed to someone—even if he did not personally carry it out. *

  6. Use an accurate Bible translation.

  7. Avoid trying to reconcile what the Bible says with mistaken religious ideas or dogma.

The following examples show how these principles can explain some seeming inconsistencies in the Bible.

Principle 1: Context

If God rested on the seventh day, how has he continued working? The context of the Genesis creation account shows that the statement that God “began to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had been doing” refers specifically to his work of physical creation respecting the earth. (Genesis 2:2-4) Jesus did not contradict this, however, when he said that God “has kept working until now,” because he was talking about other works of God. (John 5:17) God’s works include the inspiration of the Bible and his guidance and care of mankind.—Psalm 20:6; 105:5;2 Peter 1:21.

Principles 2 and 3: Viewpoint and history

Jesus heals the blind man

Where did Jesus heal the blind man? The book of Luke says that Jesus healed a blind man as Jesus “was getting near to Jericho,” while the parallel account in Matthew mentions two blind men and says that the incident occurred when Jesus was “going out of Jericho.” (Luke 18:35-43; Matthew 20:29-34) These two accounts, written from different viewpoints, actually complement each other. Regarding the number of men, Matthew is more specific as to there being two, while Luke focuses on the one man to whom Jesus directed his remarks. As for the location, archaeologists have found that in Jesus’ time Jericho was a double city, with the old Jewish city situated about one and a half kilometers (1 mi) away from the newer Roman city. Jesus may have been between the two cities when he performed this miracle.

Principle 4: Figurative and literal terms

Will the earth be destroyed? At Ecclesiastes 1:4, the Bible says that “the earth remains forever,” which to some apparently conflicts with its statement that “the elements will be destroyed by heat—with the earth.” (2 Peter 3:10Beck) In the Bible, however, the word “earth” is used both literally, referring to our planet, and figuratively, referring to the people who live on it. (Genesis 1:1;11:1) The destruction of the “earth” described at 2 Peter 3:10refers, not to the burning up of our planet, but to the “destruction of the ungodly people.”—2 Peter 3:7.

Principle 5: Attribution

In Capernaum, who brought the centurion’s request to Jesus? Matthew 8:5, 6 says that the centurion (army officer) himself came to Jesus, while Luke 7:3 says that the centurion sent older men of the Jews to make his request. This apparent Bible contradiction can be understood in that the army officer initiated the request, but he sent the older men as his representatives.

Principle 6: Accurate translation

Do we all sin? The Bible teaches that we all inherit sin from the first man, Adam. (Romans 5:12) Some translations seem to contradict this by saying that a good person “does no sin” or “sinneth not.” (1 John 3:6The Bible in Basic English; King James Version) In the original language, though, the Greek verb for “sin” at 1 John 3:6 is in the present tense, which in that language normally indicates a continuous action. There is a difference between inherited sin, which we cannot avoid, and the deliberate, continuous practice of disobeying God’s laws. Thus, some translations clear up this seeming contradiction by accurately using phrases such as “does not practice sin” or “does not habitually sin.”—New World Translation; Phillips.

Principle 7: The Bible, not dogma

Is Jesus equal to God or lesser than God? Jesus once said: “I and the Father are one,” which seems to contradict his statement that “the Father is greater than I am.” (John 10:30; 14:28) To understand those verses correctly, we must examine what the Bible really says about Jehovah and Jesus rather than try to harmonize the verses with the Trinity dogma, which is not based on the Bible. The Bible shows that Jehovah is not only Jesus’ Father but also Jesus’ God, the One whom even Jesus worships. (Matthew 4:10; Mark 15:34; John 17:3; 20:17; 2 Corinthians 1:3) Jesus is not equal to God.

The context of Jesus’ statement “I and the Father are one” shows that he was talking about the oneness of purpose that he shared with his Father, Jehovah God. Jesus later said: “The Father is in union with me and I am in union with the Father.” (John 10:38) Jesus shared this unity of purpose with his followers as well, for he prayed to God about them: “I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one. I in union with them and you in union with me.”—John 17:22, 23.

 

 

 

 


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COVER SUBJECT | DO WE NEED GOD?

Why We Need God

Mental-health experts tell us that people need spiritual values in order to be truly happy. We see this in the fact that people want to belong to something or serve someone or some cause greater than themselves. To satisfy this need, some devote their leisure time to nature, art, music, and so on. Yet, most find no deep or lasting fulfillment in such pursuits.

God wants humans to be happy now and forever

The fact that humans have an inborn spiritual yearning comes as no surprise to Bible readers. The first chapters of Genesis indicate that after God created the first human couple, he spoke with them regularly, allowing them to establish a spiritual relationship with him. (Genesis 3:8-10) God did not design humans to live independently of him; they have a need to communicate with their Maker. The Bible refers to this need frequently.

Jesus, for example, stated: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) From those words, we may conclude that an essential ingredient of a happy and contented life is satisfying our innate spiritual appetite. How can we do that? Jesus pointed to the answer when he said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4) In what ways do God’s utterances, that is to say, God’s thoughts and instructions as found in the Bible, make it possible for us to live a happy and meaningful life? Let us consider three fundamental ways.

We Need Good Direction

Today, there are countless experts and specialists ready to offer advice on relationships, love, family life, conflict resolution, happiness, and even the very meaning of life. Yet who is best qualified to give sound, balanced direction in all these areas if not mankind’s Maker, Jehovah God?

Like a user’s manual, the Bible is a guide for life

To illustrate: When you buy a new piece of equipment, such as a camera or a computer, you expect it to come with an owner’s manual, or a handbook, that explains how to get the best use and satisfaction out of your acquisition. The Bible can be likened to such a handbook. It is a manual for human life that God, the manufacturer, as it were, has made available to us, the users. This “user’s manual” explains what the product is designed to do and how it should be used for the best results.

As with any well-written instruction manual, the Bible alerts readers to practices that may compromise the safe and reliable operation of the “product”—our life. Advice or shortcuts that others offer might sound appealing, even expedient, but is it not logical to think that we are going to get the best results and avoid problems if we follow the Maker’s directions?

“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”—Isaiah 48:17, 18

In the Bible, we can find the direction and help that we need

Though Jehovah God provides directions and instructions, he does not force us to accept them. Rather, as a loving Benefactor, he warmly appeals to us: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17, 18) In short, if we heed God’s direction, we will live well. To put it another way, to live well and be happy, we need God.

We Need Answers to Life’s Problems

Some feel that they have no need for God because they find many puzzling issues in life incompatible with belief in a loving God. For example, they may ask: ‘Why do good people have to suffer?’ ‘Why are some innocent babies born deformed?’ ‘Why is life so unjust?’ Those are serious questions indeed, and finding satisfying answers to them can have a deep impact on our life. But instead of quickly blaming God for such problems, let us see how God’s Word, the Bible, can shed light on this subject.

In the third chapter of Genesis, we find the account of Satan, who, under the guise of a serpent, attempted to get the first human couple to go against Jehovah God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. “You positively will not die,” Satan told Eve. “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.”—Genesis 2:16, 17;3:4, 5.

By those words, Satan not only asserted that God is a liar but also implied that God’s way of governing is unjust. The Devil contended that if mankind listened to him, things would work out better for them. How could those issues be resolved? Jehovah chose to allow events to take their course in order to enable all to see whether the accusations leveled against him were true or  false. God was in effect giving Satan and those who have taken his side the opportunity to demonstrate whether humans can live well without God.

What do you judge to be the answer to Satan’s assertions? Can humans live well and govern themselves successfully without God? The suffering, injustice, sickness, and death as well as the crime, moral breakdown, wars, genocides, and other atrocities that have plagued mankind throughout the centuries are undeniable evidence that man’s attempts to govern himself independently of God have been a miserable failure. Rather than showing God to be responsible for mankind’s woes, the Bible points to a major cause of them: “Man has dominated man to his injury.”—Ecclesiastes 8:9.

In light of this, is it not clear that we need to turn to God not only for answers to the troubling questions facing humans but also for the solution? What will God do?

We Need God’s Help

People have long yearned for freedom from sickness, aging, and death. They have spent an enormous amount of time, effort, and resources in its pursuit, but to little or no avail. Some have hoped to find such freedom through the legendary elixir of life, the fountain of youth, Shangri-la, and the like. All these dreams have proved to be disappointing.

God wants humans to live well and be happy. That was his original purpose in creating humans, and he has not forgotten it. (Genesis 1:27, 28; Isaiah 45:18) We have Jehovah God’s assurance that whatever he purposes to do will be done without fail. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) The Bible tells us about God’s promise to restore the Paradise conditions lost by the first human couple. In the last book of the Bible, we find these words: “He [Jehovah God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) How will God bring about these wonderful conditions, and how can we benefit from this promise?

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, taught his followers to pray for God’s will to be done. Many people are familiar with or often repeat that prayer, which some call the Lord’s Prayer. It goes this way: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) Yes, God’s Kingdom is the means by which Jehovah God will do away with the woeful results of human rule and bring about the righteous new world of his promise. *(Daniel  2:44; 2 Peter 3:13) What must we do to benefit from God’s promise?

Jesus Christ points to the simple step that we must take: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Yes, with God’s help, unending life in the promised new world is within reach. That prospect might well convince you of yet another reason to answer yes to the question, Do we need God?

Time to Look to God

Two thousand years ago, at the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, in Athens, the apostle Paul said this about God to the freethinking Athenians: “He himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among you have said, ‘For we are also his progeny.’”—Acts 17:25, 28.

What Paul pointed out to the Athenians is still true. Our Creator provides the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. We simply could not live without the good things Jehovah has provided for our sustenance. But why has God continued to make such provisions for all people, whether they give thought to him or not? Paul said that it is “for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:27.

Would you like to know God better, that is, to learn more about his purposes and his advice for living well now and forever? If so, you are urged to speak to the person who brought you this magazine or contact its publishers. They will be pleased to assist you.


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INTERVIEW | ELDAR NEBOLSIN

A Classical Pianist Explains His Faith

Eldar Nebolsin of Uzbekistan is an internationally acclaimed pianist. He has played as a soloist with orchestras in London, Moscow, St. Petersburg, New York, Paris, Rome, Sydney, Tokyo, and Vienna. Eldar grew up in the Soviet Union as an atheist. But later he concluded that humans are the work of a loving Creator. Awake! asked him about his music and his faith.

How did you become a musician?

My parents are both pianists. They began teaching me when I was five years old. Later, I studied at the advanced school of music in Tashkent.

Tell us about the challenges of playing with an orchestra.

No two orchestras are alike. They are like giant musical instruments that are “played” by their conductors. Perhaps the main challenge for the soloist is to achieve balanced interaction with the conductor. It’s like a conversation between friends—rather than one always taking the lead, each should yield to the other. Usually, you have only one or two rehearsals in which to develop this rapport.

How much time do you spend practicing?

At least three hours a day—and that isn’t just to practice difficult passages. I also study the structure of the piece I’m preparing—but without actually playing it. Another thing I do is listen to the composer’s other works, which gives me more insight into the present piece.

What would you say distinguishes a fine pianist?

His ability to make a piano “sing.” Let me explain. The piano is a kind of percussion instrument. After a note is struck, the sound can only decrease in volume—unlike that of wind instruments or the human voice, which can hold a note or even increase its volume. The challenge for pianists is to overcome the tendency of a note to fade. They do this by subtle movement of their fingers and wrists, along with the complex interaction of  the right pedal, which extends the duration of a note and varies its timbre. When pianists master these difficult techniques, they can make the piano sound like a flute, a horn, or even an orchestra. They can also make it resemble the finest musical instrument of all—the human voice.

It’s obvious that you have a deep love for music.

For me, music is the language that most directly expresses and evokes feelings that are difficult, if not impossible, to communicate in words.

What aroused your interest in spiritual matters?

Our house was always full of books, which my father brought from Moscow. A book that especially interested me contained Bible stories about the dawn of history and the experiences of the Israelites. Another book I came across was You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses. * Its clear presentation of Bible teachings fascinated me. When I moved to Spain in 1991 to study music, I took that book with me and read it several times. I discovered a faith based not merely on emotion but also on sound reasoning and convincing evidence.

A teaching that really intrigued me was the Bible’s promise that humans can live forever on earth. That made so much sense! I might add that I still had not met Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I resolved that when I did meet them, I would ask for Bible lessons.

How did you meet the Witnesses?

A few days after I made that mental resolution, I saw two ladies, each with a Bible in hand. ‘They look like the people I’ve read about in my book,’ I thought. ‘They are preaching just as Christians did in Bible times.’ Soon, I was studying the Bible with a Witness. Today, my greatest joy is helping others to learn about our Creator.

What convinced you, a former atheist, to believe in a Creator?

Music itself did. Almost everybody appreciates music, and in a way that no animal can. Music can express joy, confidence, tenderness, and almost every other emotion. We naturally move to the rhythms in music. But is music necessary for our survival? Does it play a role in the “survival of the fittest,” as evolutionists teach? I think not. In my view, it’s unreasonable to conclude that the human brain, with its ability to create and appreciate music like that of Mozart and Beethoven, is the product of evolution. A far more reasonable explanation is that our brain is the product of a wise and loving Creator.

The Bible is like a symphony with an elegant structure, a masterful arrangement, and a moving message for all mankind

What led you to believe that the Bible is from God?

The Bible is a collection of 66 smaller books written over some 1,600 years by about 40 men. I asked myself, ‘Who could have orchestrated the writing of this unified masterpiece?’ The only reasonable answer is God. In my mind, the Bible is like a symphony with an elegant structure, a masterful arrangement, and a moving message for all mankind.


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INTERVIEW | CÉLINE GRANOLLERAS

A Kidney Specialist Explains Her Faith

Dr. Céline Granolleras is a medical doctor in France who specializes in kidney disease. More than 20 years after becoming a doctor, she came to the conclusion that there is a Creator who cares for us. Awake! asked her about her work and her faith.

Tell us about your childhood.

My family moved to France from Spain when I was nine. My parents were Catholic, but I stopped believing in God when I was 16. For me, religion had no bearing on reality. If anyone asked me how life began if there is no God, I replied, “For now, scientists cannot explain it, but one day they will.”

What made you study kidney disease?

I studied at a medical school in Montpellier, France. A professor there spoke to me about working in nephrology, a branch of medicine involving the kidneys. The work combined research with the care of patients. That was just what I wanted. In 1990, I began taking part in research on the clinical use of recombinant erythropoietin (EPO) to control the production of red blood cells in our bones. At that time, it was considered a relatively new field of research.

What made you start thinking about God?

Back in 1979, my husband, Floréal, started studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I was not interested. As a child, I had had enough of religion. Nevertheless, my husband and children became Witnesses, and soon nearly all our friends were Witnesses. One of them, Patricia, suggested that I try praying. “If there is  nobody in heaven, you don’t risk anything,” she said. “But if there is, you will see what happens.” Years later, I started to wonder about the meaning of life, and I remembered Patricia’s words. I began to pray for understanding.

What made you wonder about the meaning of life?

The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York made me wonder why there is so much evil in society. I thought: ‘Religious extremism endangers our future. Yet here I am surrounded by Jehovah’s Witnesses who are peaceful. They are not extremists. They follow the Bible. Perhaps I should look into what it says.’ So I began reading the Bible for myself.

As a doctor, did you find it difficult to believe in a Creator?

No. I had a deep respect for our body’s sophisticated design. For example, the way our kidneys control the amount of red cells in our blood is awe-inspiring.

Why do you say that?

It struck me that only God could design such an elegant system

As you may know, red blood cells transport oxygen. If you lose a lot of blood or if you go to a high altitude, your body will lack oxygen. Our kidneys have oxygen sensors. When they detect an oxygen shortage in the blood, they activate the production of EPO, and the level of EPO in the blood may rise as much as a thousandfold. The EPO stimulates the bone marrow to produce more red cells, which in turn transport more oxygen. It’s wonderful! Strangely, I studied this process for ten years before it struck me that only God could design such an elegant system.

What was your impression of the Bible?

I had read lots of history books and famous novels, but I immediately recognized that the Bible was different. Its advice is so practical that it must come from a source higher than man. Jesus’ character fascinated me. I saw that he was a real person. He had feelings, and he had friends. Since I didn’t want to use the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I did research in encyclopedias and other reference works when questions arose.

What did you research?

I researched history books . . . Finally, I concluded that this Bible prophecy had come true on time

Among other things, I was intrigued by the way the Bible foretold the year of Jesus’ baptism. It shows exactly how much time would elapse between the 20th year of the reign of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes and the year Jesus would present himself as the Messiah. * I am accustomed to doing research—it is part of my job. So I researched history books to confirm the dates of Artaxerxes’ rule and the dates of Jesus’ ministry. Finally, I concluded that this Bible prophecy had come true on time and that it must have been inspired by God.


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INTERVIEW | IRÈNE HOF LAURENCEAU

Dr. Irène Hof Laurenceau practices orthopedic surgery in Switzerland. At one time she doubted God’s existence. But some years later she came to the conclusion that God exists and that he is the Creator of life. Awake! asked her about her work and her faith.

What aroused your interest in science?

As a child, I was fascinated by nature. I grew up in Richterswil, a beautiful Swiss village on the shore of Lake Zurich. My parents and older siblings would take me for walks and tell me about the creatures and plants we saw along the way.

Why did you study orthopedic surgery?

For a short time, my father worked as an attendant in an operating room at a local hospital. What he saw moved him to speak enthusiastically about surgery. His enthusiasm excited me so much that I later chose surgery as a profession. I specialized in orthopedic surgery because I like the mechanical aspects of it. Orthopedic surgeons have to think like an engineer in order to repair the bones, muscles, and tendons that enable us to move about.

Most of all, I enjoy seeing my patients’ health improve. I really like working closely with people.

Why did you doubt God’s existence?

My doubts began in my youth, and two factors in particular influenced me. First, I discovered that certain religious instructors at church were immoral, and this disturbed me considerably. Second, at school, some of my biology teachers believed in evolution—a teaching I came to accept, especially when I went to a university.

Why did you accept evolution?

I believed my professors. Additionally, I thought that the similarity in anatomy between  certain kinds of animals pointed to a common ancestry and supported the notion that genetic mutations lead to new species.

Yet, in time you changed your mind. Why?

A friend invited me to a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was impressed by the friendly congregation and the informative talks. Later, a pleasant lady from the congregation visited me, and I asked her, “How can I be sure that the Bible is true?”

She showed me Bible prophecies about many events that characterize our times. An example is Jesus’ prophecy that the last days of the present world would be marked by international warfare, “great earthquakes,” and rampant “pestilences and food shortages.” * She also pointed out prophecies that foretold the social breakdown and increase in greed and other badness that we see so much of today. * Before long, I began to study the Bible in earnest and soon realized that its predictions always come true. I also began to reexamine my views on the origin of life.

Did your medical research help you to reason on the origin of life?

Yes. When I started studying the Bible, I was researching knee surgery. Beginning in the late 1960’s, scientists began to understand the knee’s intricate mechanism more clearly. They found that our knee does not only bend on a single axis like a hinge. Rather, it both rolls and glides—an ingenious combination that gives the knee a greater range of movement, enabling us to walk, dance, skate, and do a host of other things.

For some 40 years, researchers have tried to design an artificial knee. But the complexity of the human knee makes it difficult to duplicate. Moreover, compared with our knee, artificial products have a relatively short life span. Even with improved materials at their disposal, those designers are pleased if their products last 20 years. Our knee, of course, is made of living cells that are constantly renewed. To me, the knee testifies, not to the blind processes of evolution, but to the wisdom of God.

What about mutations and the similarity in anatomy between certain species?

That similarity points to the same Designer. Moreover, mutations do not improve the designs in living organisms by elevating them to a higher kind. Rather, mutations tend to damage genes. Of course, it is possible that an accident can serve a beneficial purpose—such as when, say, a train crashes into a bridge and wrecks it, thus protecting the city from an invading army. But that accident did not improve the city. Likewise, mutations do not improve organisms. And they could never produce something so brilliantly designed as the human knee—not to mention other parts of the human body.

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Mutations could never produce something so brilliantly designed as the human knee

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Why did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

When I began to apply Bible principles, the quality of my life improved markedly. Additionally, in 2003, I went to an international convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses and saw extraordinary family-like unity there, even among delegates who had never met one another before. That was love in action, and I wanted to be a part of it.


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Brett Schenck is a retired environmental consultant in the United States. He studied the interdependency of plants, animals, and the environment. Why does he believe in a Creator? Awake! asked him about his science and his faith.

What is your background?

My father was a mechanical engineer. He often talked enthusiastically to me about math and science. As a boy, I was fascinated by the plants and animals in the creeks and pools near my home in New Paris, Ohio, U.S.A. So when I went to Purdue University, I chose to study ecology.

Did religion interest you?

Yes, it did. Dad encouraged me to study our Lutheran religion. I studied Koine (common) Greek, one of the languages in which the Bible was first written. I developed deep respect for the Bible.

How did you view the theory of evolution?

My church accepted it. My colleagues believed it. So I never questioned it. But I also believed in God. I had a foggy notion that the two beliefs were compatible. Although I respected the Bible, I didn’t think it came from God.

What made you change your view of the Bible?

Two of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Steve and Sandy, visited my wife, Debbie, and me. They showed us that the Bible, though not a science textbook, is scientifically accurate. For example, it says of God: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) It also says: “He is . . . hanging the earth upon nothing.” (Job 26:7) At that time, I was using satellite photographs to study ecology, so these scriptures impressed me. They were written long before anyone photographed the circle of  the earth hanging on nothing. As my wife and I studied the Bible with Steve and Sandy, I learned of prophecies that had come true, advice that works, and explanations that satisfied me. Gradually, I became convinced that the Bible is the Word of God.

When did you change your mind about the origin of life?

Eventually, Steve showed me the Bible’s clear statement: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground.” (Genesis 2:7) The first man has a documented life history. This raised the question: Is the Bible in harmony with scientific facts? Steve encouraged me to research the matter, so I did.

What did you learn about evolution?

Many things. To mention just one, the evolution theory attempts to explain the origin of species. Living things are made up of efficient organs, such as the heart, lungs, and eyes. Also, at the microscopic level, we see marvelously designed ‘machines’ within cells. Where do the designs for those come from? Evolutionists claim that the best mechanisms are automatically selected because the living things that have them survive better. But that idea does not answer the question: Where do the mechanisms come from? I learned that many scientists do not believe that the evolution theory answers that question. A professor of zoology confided to me that he did not believe any of the theories of evolution. However, he did not air his views for fear of losing his job.

Does your knowledge of ecology strengthen your faith?

Yes, it does. My work involved studying how living things depend on each other. On earth, all living things depend on something else. Consider flowers and bees, for example. The color, fragrance, nectar, and structure of flowers are designed to attract bees and to sprinkle them with pollen. Bees are designed to extract nectar and to take one flower’s pollen to another plant for fertilization. Clearly, the flowers and bees are designed to supply what the other needs.

‘The resilience of the entire system of life on earth convinces me that life was designed by God’

In an ecosystem, we see interdependence on a vast scale. An ecosystem is an environment with a community of perhaps thousands of types of animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi. All animals depend on plants for food and oxygen, and most flowering plants depend on animals. Although ecosystems are exceedingly complex and the organisms in them are fragile, they may continue surviving for millennia. Even after damage by pollution, once the source of pollution is gone, a complex ecosystem soon develops again. When I think about the resilience of the entire system of life on earth, I am convinced that life was designed by God.

Why did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

I was deeply concerned about the way human society is ruining the environment. I knew that although ecosystems are resilient, they are not indestructible. I learned from Jehovah’s Witnesses that, according to the Scriptures, God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) Those words were important to me. As I continued studying the Bible, I gradually realized that the hope that the Bible presents is sure.

I enjoy sharing my beliefs with others, and I have studied the Bible with some scientists. At age 55, I took early retirement to spend more time helping people to understand the Creator of life and his purpose for our magnificent earth.