Today, some people who know that many of the most famous early scientists were Christians, think that after Darwin wrote his famous book, “Origin of the Species” most scientists became atheists and evolutionists. Some people today feel that a person cannot believe in and follow the Bible and be a good scientist at the same time. However, this is erroneous thinking. Here is the story of a staunch Darwinian atheist who converted to creationism first, then to Christianity.
Dr. Richard D. Lumsden was fully grounded in Darwinian philosophy, and had no reason or desire to consider Christianity. Science was his faith: he believed that evolution contained the only facts that showed the origin of all living matter. But at the very top of his professional career, he had enough integrity to check out the facts, and made a difficult choice to go where the facts led him, against what he had been taught, and against what he himself taught. His life took a dramatic turnaround, from Darwinist to creationist, and from atheist to Christian.
Dr. Richard Lumsden was professor of parasitology and cell biology at Tulane University. He served as dean of the graduate school, and published hundreds of scientific papers. He trained 30 PhDs. Throughly versed in biological sciences, both in knowledge and lab technique, including electron microscopy, he won the highest world award for parasitology. All through his career he believed Darwinian evolution was an established principle of science, and he used to ridicule Christian beliefs.
One day, he heard that a state in American had passed a law requiring that teachers must teach BOTH creation (the teaching that God created everything) and evolution, and he was so angry – how stupid, he thought, and how evil! He used the opportunity to launch into a tirade against creationism in class, and to give them his best eloquence in support of Darwinism. Little did he know he had a formidable opponent in class that day. Sitting and listening to his lecture was a gentle, polite, young female student.
The student went up to him after class and cheerfully exclaimed, “Doctor, that was an interesting lecture! I wonder if I could make an appointment with you; I have some questions about what you said, and just want to understand the facts better.” Dr. Lumsden, flattered with this student’s positive approach, agreed on a time they could meet in his office.
On the appointed day she came to meet him. She first thanked him for his time, and started in. She did not argue with anything he had said about evolution in class, but just began asking a series of questions: “How did life arise?… Isn’t DNA too complex to form by chance?… Why are there gaps in the fossil record between major kinds?… What are the missing links between apes and man?” She didn’t act judgment or try to argue; she just wanted to know.
Lumsden gave the standard evolutionary answers to the questions. But something about this conversation began making him very uneasy. He was prepared for a fight, but not for an humble honest set of questions. As he listened to himself giving the typical evolutionary responses, he thought to himself, The answers I am giving this young woman do not make any sense. What I know about biology is contrary to what I’m saying. I am not being totally honest with this student.
When the time came to go, the student picked up her books and smiled, “Thanks, Doctor!” and left. On the outside, Dr. Lumsden appeared confident; but on the inside, he was devastated. He knew that everything he had told this student was wrong. He had tried to defend evolution as a set of scientific facts when in fact there were no good facts to prove its truth.
Dr. Lumsden had the integrity to face his new doubts honestly. He undertook a personal research project to check out the arguments for evolution, and over time, found them not based on good science. Based on the scientific evidence alone, he decided he must reject Darwinism, and he became a creationist. But as morning follows night, he had to face the next question, Who is the Creator?
Shortly thereafter, his sister invited him to go to a Christian church with her. It was so out of character for this formerly hard, self-confident, proud evolutionist to go to church! Not much earlier, he would have had nothing to do with religion. But now, he was open to reconsider the identity of the Creator, and whether the claims of the Bible were true. His atheistic philosophy had also left him helpless to deal with guilt and bad habits in his personal life. This time he was open to finding the truth and this time he heard the Good News that God had sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, and to offer men forgiveness and eternal life.
As he sat in that church and listened to the leader teach directly from the Bible, a tremendous struggle was going on in Dr. Lumsden’s heart. When the service ended, the pastor (church leader) gave an opportunity for anyone who wanted to come to the front and decide once and for all, publicly, to follow Jesus Christ. Dr. Lumsden describes the turmoil he was in: “With flesh protesting every inch of the way, I found myself walking forward, down to the front of that church. And there, I found God! Truly, at that moment, I came to know Him, and received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.”
There’s hope even for know-it-all science professors, if they are willing to humble themselves and bow before the Creator to whom the scientific evidence points. Dr. Lumsden rejoiced in his new-found faith, but found out there is a price to pay also – He was ejected from the science faculty after his dynamic conversion to Christ and creationism.
The Institute for Creation Research invited him to direct their biology department, which he did from 1990 to 1996. Dr. Henry Morris said of him, “He has a very vibrant testimony of his conversion only a few years ago and of the role that one of his students played in confronting his evolutionism with persistent and penetrating questions. He became fully convinced of the falseness of his evolutionary beliefs and realized that the only reasonable alternative was that there must be a Creator.”
Dr. Lumsden was also appointed to the science faculty of The Master’s College, and used his intimate knowledge of electron microscopy to help the campus set up an operational instrument for training students. There was a joy present in his life and manner that made his lectures sparkle, and he loved to demonstrate design in the cell that could not have arisen by Darwinian processes. In discussions with evolutionists, he knew “just what to say to them” (he would say with a smile), because he, too, had been an evolutionist at one time. His students appreciated the training his depth and breadth of knowledge and experience brought to the class and to the lab.
Richard Lumsden later appeared on different television programs, in magazines, and in documentaries telling how he had been a successful evolutionary scientist before coming to realize that all of his theories of evolution could not possibly be correct. He then realized that the God of the Bible was actually the Creator of everything, including the giver of life and information to every living things. Dr. Lumsden’s life changed forever when He met God. A new peace and a new direction came into his life and he was never the same afterward.
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