My search for truth
When I left my hometown Madurai, India, for Portland, Oregon 21 years ago, little did I realize that I was taking a journey that would change my life forever. I was going to complete a Ph.D. in physics and make some business contacts that could help me later in life. Those plans were important to me, and kept churning in my mind. But the One I did not know yet had other plans for my life. He was determined to net me in for His purposes.
I was born a Hindu in a lower-middle-class family. At six I lost a good portion of my right leg in an accident and became disabled for the rest of my life. But I was so well accepted and loved by everybody around me that I rarely worried about my handicap. And yet I could see the hard realities of life. My childhood was different from that of other children. Many things they could do, I couldn’t. Often I asked, “Why me?”
But my handicap had its own advantage: I could spend a lot of time reading and reflecting. In my early years I enjoyed reading stories about Hindu gods. By the time I was 12, I chose to be a devotee of Lord Muruga, one of the plethora of Hindu deities. Later, as I got involved in the study of science, I saw no need for any god. I turned to great scientists and philosophers. I was particularly fascinated by Bertrand Russell and his atheistic stance.
I took a U turn
However, as I studied more of science and nature, my perceptions took a U turn. I saw that the apparently lucid arguments of Russell had their subtle flaws. I also saw that the laws governing nature are too beautiful and organized to be accidental or purposeless. I had already experienced the love of people, but now as I crossed the frontiers of teenage skepticism, I felt that the whole nature seemed to be filled with love, if one could take the time to notice it.
And so, in my mid-twenties I concluded that the existence of a good and loving Designer is imperative to make sense of the things around. If there is a Designer who designed everything, certainly there must be a purpose for His design. In particular, there must be a purpose for His creating me. I wanted to discover that purpose. Many evenings I sat alone, beseeching the Designer to reveal Himself if He really existed. I was on a spiritual quest.
Then came my journey to the United States. Life as a graduate student was good, but the spiritual questions came popping up. Does God exist? If He exists, what does He want me to do? What is the meaning of my life?
I began to agonize. I avoided friends and socials. I kept at my study, but spent the rest of my time in reading anything that even slightly promised to give me some answers. One day it occurred to me that I should read the Bible. Immediately, I bought a Bible and a Koran. I started reading both in all earnestness. The day was August 6, 1977, a Saturday. My Koran reading did not go very far. But it was a different matter with my Bible reading.
I turned to the Bible
I expected that the Bible would be a book of mythological stories. Indeed, it started nearly like a mythology, but soon read like history and like a book of law, love, and life. And here was God, intimately and intensely involving Himself with every aspect of human life from the apparently trivial to the most serious. In about two months I had read through the whole Bible. It was an unforgettable experience in itself. The book was strangely remarkable. It seemed to answer many of my questions about life, though I still didn’t quite understand it all. But the book also raised many other questions.
When I read through the four Gospels, the character of Jesus made the deepest impression on me. Indeed, He was the most genuine person that a human being could be. I was sure that a character of His kind could not have been created by human imagination. This fact had important implications. Jesus ought to be true, and therefore, the Bible ought to be true also!
Soon I had time only for two things. My graduate studies and my Bible studies. Before long I was studying Bible prophecies. As I did this, I realized that there were many interpretations, most of them only half-consistent. But I noticed that there was one particular school of interpretation that was far more consistent and logical than any other. And then I discovered that this belonged to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Soon I started attending various churches and Christian fellowship meetings in my locality. I interacted with a cross-section of Christians of various denominations. I took Bible courses in the community colleges, read expository books on the Bible, called on ministers to discuss the questions I had about biblical themes. Through all of this, a flood of light came my way.
I also became intrigued about the existence of so many denominations, all claiming to be based on the Bible. When I carefully looked into the differences between the denominations, I realized that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was far more biblical than all others. The doctrine of salvation in the Seventh-day Adventist Church was clear and consistent. This was the only doctrine which satisfied my intellectual, emotional and moral sensibilities. The truth of God and of His salvation then stood before me in all its beauty. It was so incredible that I asked: “Is this really the truth? Should I accept it? Should I commit myself to it? What if it turned out to be a cleverly constructed falsehood?”
The answer echoed to me from within. “Suppose in science that a new theory is proposed, which is good in general, but by no means perfect, what will you do? Won’t you accept the theory for what it is until and unless you find a better theory to replace it? Do the same thing here. Here is a new TRUTH. Accept this now and live by it until you could find something better. If this is not the truth, what else could be?”
I was baptized
And so I accepted the Lord and committed myself to Him. Which church would I join? The Seventh-day Adventist Church, of course! I called Elder Eugene Amey, the Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Hillsboro, Oregon. I asked to be baptized. Elder Amey was happy, but suggested that I take Bible studies with him before baptism. This was somewhat disappointing. I was eager to be baptized the next day, but I agreed to his suggestion. Then came another 10 months of exciting Bible study. The unfolding love of God made me weep and cry. Elder Amey introduced to me the writings of Ellen G. White. First I had an aversion for her writings. She seemed to be too assuming and too assertive. But as I matured in my understanding of God’s love, her writings began making more and more sense to me and influenced me the most. I realized that the same Spirit that was working in her was also guiding me into the truth.
I was baptized on Sabbath, August 11, 1979. God finally netted me in. In February, 1980, I completed my Ph.D., returned to India, and resumed my career as a lecturer in physics at the American College, Madurai, India.
I found the true science
As I continued my search for the truth I perceived that the sum total of what the Seventh-day Adventist Church holds is nothing short of a science—consistent, systematic, and organized. Ellen White calls it the science of salvation. There are four good reasons why it is a science.
1. There is theoretical logic. In scientific theories, there must be a structure of logic. In the story of the great controversy between God and Satan there is a structure of logic. It is the logic of love. Pure and perfect love operates according to a logic of its own. The problem with most people is that they have a poor grasp of this logic, and then presume there is no logic. But the logic is very much there, and it is the most beautiful logic, if only one can grasp it.
2. There are experimental evidences. Scientific theories are to be tested for their truth in laboratories. The story of the Great Controversy is tested for its truth in human history. That is, the earth is the laboratory. Human history is the great experiment being carried out to decide what is good and what is evil. Many people are deceived from perceiving it that way. But this is the greatest experiment ever.
3. There are predictions. If the predictions turn out to be correct, then the theory is supposed to be valid. In the present case, we have prophecies that are the same as predictions. Many prophecies have turned out to be correct. This speaks for the soundness of what the Seventh-day Adventist Church holds. The greatest of the prediction is: Jesus will come again. I expect this to be verified in human history soon.
4. There is good interaction with other fields of science. A good scientific theory in one area will often throw considerable light on other areas. The Great Controversy theme and the Seventh-day Adventist worldview explain life in its varied complexities.
Finally, as a Seventh-day Adventist, I have access to all revealed truth. I reach for it and hold on to it. Thus, my journey for truth ended with an audience with the most wonderful Person—Jesus, God made flesh.
K. Shanmuganathan (Ph.D., Oregon Graduate Institute) teaches physics at American College. His address is: Physics Department, American College, Madurai, 625 002 India.