A scientist who believed in aliens, nanobots and facts gleaned from research, Han Bin walked into The Book Café one day to attend Alpha. Today, he chooses to believe that there is One greater than science – the intelligent designer God, who has always been looking out for him.
I came from a Chinese religious background and was exposed to its practices from a young age. I witnessed invitations for spirits to possess mediums, who would then provide advice to my family. My parents and relatives were members of the temple association. Ceremonies were held to celebrate a deity’s birthday twice a year. My grandmother’s home also had altars, where they invited spirits during the various ceremonies. Despite my family’s devout faith, I was never forced to participate in any of the rituals.
These activities were prevalent throughout my childhood, but I never gave them much thought. I was more concerned about my studies and getting good grades. Even when I entered the workforce, I rarely spoke about religion with any of my colleagues, deeming such topics as unprofessional.
My journey to discover God began when I started dating my girlfriend Chuu Ling. She was a Christian and asked if I was open to exploring Christianity. In 2015, I was introduced to The Book Café, where Alpha was running. We could not make it for the first session, but were going to attend the second. While in Tiong Bahru getting a quick bite before heading to the café, a violent fight broke out in front of us. Chairs were flung around, and blood from one of the victims splattered on us and in our drinks. Feeling quite shaken from what we had witnessed, I thought of giving the Alpha session a miss. However, Chuu Ling suggested that we should still attend the session.
Christianity did not make sense to me in the beginning as I felt that if science could explain most things, then a god-like being was not necessary. I am in the field of science and research, and we are trained to believe that there is a reason for everything – that cause will always precede effect. It is a rather ‘cold’ environment, with the primary belief that we are just beings caught up in a current, and we are simply carried along, unable to do anything about it.
With these views, I was initially rather hostile towards the teachings of Christianity. During one session, I shared a quote from an author, Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” The miracles that Jesus did must have seemed like magic. My guess then was that he must have been someone with a high level of technology, and I felt that nanobots were a plausible explanation for his resurrection.
At Alpha, people listened with interest to each person’s perspective. I felt encouraged by how receptive they were to my views about Christianity, even though they were different from everyone else’s. I began to enjoy these times of discussion, and I was exposed to new perspectives about Christianity for the first time. After several weeks of interaction with the other guests at the cafe, I began to appreciate the open platform for different people to share their viewpoints. Additionally, what made the Alpha sessions attractive to me was the sumptuous dinner spread every week! Looking back, I’m thankful Chuu Ling persisted.
The Book Café sessions helped me realise Christianity wasn’t a cult, or a community where people gathered and talked to each other just to make themselves feel better. While seeking, I realised how God wanted to walk with us in our daily lives, and yearned for a relationship with us. When I looked back on my past, I realised God was and had always been in the background, orchestrating events that ultimately drew me closer to Him. Christianity offers comfort and assurance, knowing that there is a God who is with us and who is looking out for us.
He is also a God who is relatable, reaching out to me in ways I am most comfortable with. Some people hear God in a voice, but if I heard a voice, I would have thought I was going crazy! And so instead, He gently placed people in my path whom I could relate with, leading me to discover who He is through conversations with them.
In November 2015, a few months after Alpha, I made the decision to be baptised at Wesley Methodist Church. I began to spend more time with my small group, while still keeping in close contact with the original group of friends I made at The Book Café. I now realise how important community is to me. Being part of a small group has been instrumental in my growth. Even though we do not have the perfect answers to all the questions, being able to search and discuss scripture together has been very helpful.
Chuu Ling, who is now my wife, was also extremely patient with me right from the beginning. While she did not know how to answer all my ‘difficult’ questions, she was always willing to find out more. With God in the centre of our relationship, Chuu Ling and I have been on a journey to discover Him together. We deepen our faith as we study the Bible and have discussions about what we read. Sharing, supporting and encouraging each other and praying together has also helped us to grow closer. I know that we are building a strong foundation for our marriage!
To this day, I still struggle with some questions that even as a scientist, I cannot explain. I am still searching for answers. For example, if God is really god, why did He do things that do not seem to make sense? Why do some animals have certain body parts that are useless? We are taught that evolution does not have a specific aim in mind, and that random mutations give rise to new attributes. Whether these new attributes persist depends on how useful they are. Intelligent design by God, however, has its own, sometimes mysterious reasons for each creation. A question that I keep coming back to is – why does God do the things He does?
While I ask myself such questions, I realise there may be no easy answer, if at all. I’ve learnt to accept that there is a purpose for the way God intends the world to be – I can choose to either doubt or accept it. I am still working on accepting that all things, whether good or bad, are part of His perfect plan.
To those who are exploring questions about life and faith, I would say: keep an open mind! In the past, I was closed to the idea of a god because I felt that we were just temporary beings in the ongoing life of this universe, and that even though there were a lot of things that could not be explained, scientists were making new discoveries every day. I refused to consider God because everything I had learned gave reason for His inexistence. However, I discovered that when we shut ourselves to learning, we are only limiting ourselves. And so, we must all keep searching!