PROFESSOR Yan-Der Hsuuw is the director of embryo research at Taiwan’s National Pingtung University of Science and Technology. He once believed in evolution, but after becoming a research scientist, he changed his mind. He explained his reasons to Awake!
Please tell us a little about your background.
I was born in 1966 and grew up in Taiwan. My parents’ religion was based on both Taoism and Buddhism. Although we worshipped our ancestors and prayed to images, we never entertained the concept of a personal Creator.
Why did you study biology?
As a child, I liked caring for pets, and I wanted to learn how to relieve animals and people of suffering. For a time, I studied veterinary medicine, and later I studied embryology—a field that I hoped would also shed light on the origin of life.
You believed in evolution at the time. Can you tell us why?
The university professors taught evolution, claiming that evidence supports it. I believed them.
Why did you start reading the Bible?
My motive was twofold. First, I reasoned that of the many gods that people worship, one must be greater than the others. But which one? Second, I knew that the Bible is a highly respected book. So I joined Bible study classes.
When I started studying at Belgium’s Catholic University of Leuven in 1992, I visited a Catholic church and asked the priest to help me understand the Bible, but he declined my request.
So how was your spiritual hunger satisfied?
Two years later, while I was still in Belgium doing scientific research, I met a Polish lady named Ruth, who was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. She had learned Chinese in order to help university students who wanted to learn about God. I had prayed for such help, so I was delighted to meet her.
Ruth showed me that the Bible, while not a science book, is in harmony with science. For example, the Bible writer David said in prayer to God: “Your eyes even saw me as an embryo; all its parts were written in your book regarding the days when they were formed, before any of them existed.” (Psalm 139:16) Although David was using poetic language, in principle, he was right! Even before body parts form, the instructions for their development are all there. The accuracy of the Bible helped convince me that it is God’s Word. I also began to appreciate that there is only one true God, Jehovah.1
What convinced you that God created life?
A goal of scientific research is to find the truth, not to support preconceived ideas. My study of embryo development led me to change my view—that is, I concluded that life was created. To illustrate, engineers design assembly lines so that the right parts are fitted together in the right order and in the right way. Embryo development is somewhat similar but vastly more complex.
The process all starts with a single fertilized cell, doesn’t it?
Yes. That microscopic cell then divides, starting the process of cell division. For a time, the number of cells doubles every 12 to 24 hours. Early in this process, cells called stem cells form.2 Stem cells can produce almost any of the 200 or so different cell types needed for a fully formed baby, such as blood cells, bone cells, nerve cells, and so on.
My study of embryo development led me to conclude that life was created
The right cells must be produced in the right order and at the right places. First they assemble into tissues that will in turn assemble themselves into organs and limbs. What engineer even dreams of writing instructions for such a process? Yet, the instructions for embryo development are superbly written in DNA. When I consider the beauty of it all, I’m convinced that life was designed by God.
Why did you become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
In a word, love. Jesus Christ said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) That love is impartial. It is not influenced by a person’s nationality, culture, or skin color. I both observed and experienced that kind of love when I began to associate with the Witnesses.
2. Because of his Christian conscience, Professor Yan-Der Hsuuw does not work with human embryonic stem cells.