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Who Is Dr. Humphreys?
(This time, Ron Hughes talks to Dr. Humphreys about his life; how he became a scientist and how he became a Christian.)
Ron Hughes: I'd like you to begin by talking just a little bit about yourself. Who exactly is David Humphreys?
Dr. Humphreys: Well, I'm a Professor of Chemistry at McMaster University (in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada). Actually I'm Professor Emeritus now. But I taught Chemistry at McMaster for some thirty years. You can probably guess by my accent that I came from England.
I actually came to Canada in 1965, from the University of London, England, to do a research project at McMaster, with a wife and two small children. And I thought I would stay in Canada for about a couple of years. And here I am. I never went back. I enjoyed being at McMaster... But I'm spending a lot of time now travelling and talking about science and Christian faith; and trying to make science interesting and exciting for people and more importantly to talk about my Christian beliefs as well.
Ron Hughes: Can we go back to the early days for just a moment? How did you become interested in things of science?
Dr. Humphreys: Well, I've always found science exciting. I guess, like many people, I had a good chemistry teacher. I happened to have my first chemistry course when I was a kid where you made stuff and you had lots of bangs and flashes. Of course, that turned me on. I still do a lot of experiments with nice colours and bubbles and… I just was excited about discovering things. So as a kid I enjoyed investigating the world and I guess my interest in science started because I wanted to know how things happened.
Ron Hughes: Now, you are also, besides being a man of science, a man of faith. So let's find out the root of that. When did you believe in the Lord Jesus?
Dr. Humphreys: Well, you know, I think that I've always been exciting about discoveries, but there are other discoveries besides the ones you make in the lab. But I was fortunate that I had Christian parents. So I was introduced to Christian faith early in life and made a commitment and certainly had a sincere faith as a young person. But it was really when I was an undergraduate, studying science at university that I had to think all this through, that my faith really became what I call rock-solid.
Ron Hughes: Tell us about something specifically that challenged you personally and that you had to come to a resolution about.
Dr. Humphreys: Well, a lot of things, of course. It's certainly not a simple matter. But of course one of the early problems I faced was the whole business of miracles. Because generally my professors, then and as many do today on our campuses, many of my colleagues, would say that things like the resurrection of Christ from the dead can't happen. Now that's a presupposition. They're presupposing that things like that can't happen. And that's a real challenge. If that can't happen then maybe this Christian story is a myth. I've since, of course, come to realize that the real question I should ask as a scientist is not 'CAN in happen?' but 'DID it happen?' I mean, that's the important question.
And now I've been able to confront things like claims for the miraculous with a slightly different question. Not presupposing it can't happen, but saying, 'hey, did it happen?' And of course when you look at the evidence, (because science and faith both rest on evidence) - I mean, it's not that I put my brains on the shelf when I go to church on Sunday - when I look at the evidence, for things like the resurrection of Christ which is foundational to my faith, I say, 'hey, it happened after all.' It says, "Come and see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:6). This was a visual, just like science we have to see with our eyes.
So that was an early struggle and I had to really get to the point of saying what is the evidence for what I believe. I have to say, "Hey, this sounds like an incredible claim. Let's check it out. I mean, did it happen?"
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