Science is Not Enough – Dr. Sy Garte’s Story

Sep 30, 2022

Side B Stories
Side B Stories
Science is Not Enough - Dr. Sy Garte's Story
Dr. Sy Garte, a biochemist, was raised as a communist and militant atheist. He began to question his naturalistic worldview as he began to see the limits of science as the best explanation for the origin of life and other conundrums. It opened him to the possibility of God.
Dr. Garte’s website:
To hear more stories of atheists converting to Christianity, visit

Episode Transcript

Hello, and thanks for joining in. I’m Jana Harmon, and you’re listening to Side B Stories, where we see how skeptics flip the record of their lives. Each podcast, we listen to someone who has once been an atheist but who became a Christian against all odds. 

Does science point away or towards the existence of God? Does a science-driven worldview conflict with a biblical worldview? Or does it complement? In other words, are science and God friends or foes? Is belief in science enough to prevent someone from believing in God? After all, some people will reject belief in God because they say they believe in science. They believe what is rational and observable and repeatable and not in a reality beyond the natural universe, which they say there’s no evidence for. Some people think that science is king, that science is the only way to know anything, and that science can and will eventually win the day, will give us answers to the universe. It’s not the stuff of wishful thinking, such as religion. Science and belief in God cannot and do not go together, nor will they ever, or so it is thought. 

But what happens when a highly educated scientist devoted to a naturalistic, atheistic view of the world begins to experience the limitations of science? That it is not as capable of answering all the questions he once thought it would. Especially regarding three of the biggest questions there are: How the universe began from nothing, how life began from non-life, and how humans became so exceptional in their capacity as compared to the rest of the biological world. These conundrums were the door openers to consider the possibility of something more than the natural world as a viable explanation. These, in addition to some other very surprising events in his life. 

Today’s guest, Dr. Sy Garte, holds a PhD in biochemistry, was once a strong anti-theist from generations of militant atheists who long resisted the possibility, much less the probability of God, but today he writes and speaks clearly and boldly on his convinced view and the reality of a personal and powerful God and the truth of Christianity. He sees how science and faith work together well as mutually reinforcing. I hope you’ll come along to hear his journey. I hope you’ll also stay to hear his advice to curious skeptics on searching for truth and for God, as well as advice to Christians on how best to engage with those who don’t believe. 

Welcome to Side B Stories, Dr. Garte. It’s so great to have you with me today! 

It’s great to be here, thanks.

So our listeners know a little bit about you before we get into your story, why don’t you tell us a little bit about perhaps your credentialing, where you live, a little bit of your life now? 

Sure. I’m a PhD. I have a PhD in biochemistry. I’m a retired scientist. I worked in academia for about thirty years as a professor at several universities. Then I worked at the NIH for a few years as an administrator. And now I’m retired. And I’ve been devoting my life since then to Christianity in terms of its relationship to science. I’ve written a book, and I feel that my mission, my call at this point, is to talk about my own life in the sense that it was science that helped bring me to faith. I started out life as an atheist. I grew up in a very atheistic family, three generations of atheists and communists, and at some point, I began to question that, and that was largely through science, and then eventually came to Christ, got baptized, and I’m now an active member of my church.

Okay, wow! Yeah. It sounds like there’s a lot there, and a lot of ground to cover. I mean, not only your wonderful credentialing, as you’ve highlighted, PhD in biochemistry, I believe. So we’re going to walk through all of that. Let’s start back in your childhood. You said you are from generations of atheism, militant atheism. Let’s start there in your home. As you were growing up, tell me about the home that you grew up in, their view of God, their view of all things religious. Why don’t you start us there? 

Sure. Well, it’s actually fairly simple because the view of God in my house was that there’s no possibility that anything like a God could exist. My parents were, as I mentioned briefly, they were both members of the American Communist Party in the 1930s, and that included a very militant atheism and anti-religious view. Their view, which was the Marxist view, is that religion is an evil thing. God is impossible, could not possibly exist. My father was a chemist and a very strong materialist. He only believed in anything that was materialistically and scientifically demonstrable, and so for him, the whole idea of anything with spirituality or religious connotations was complete nonsense. My mother was even a stronger atheist in a philosophical sense. And she also was a very strong communist, and again, atheism is part of the communist dogma, so that’s how I grew up. I grew up not even thinking about God. I just thought it was ridiculous and nonsense and couldn’t be true. And yeah. There was no discussion of it. We didn’t celebrate any holidays of any kind. We gave each other presents on New Year’s because that’s what they do in the Soviet Union. They don’t celebrate Christmas. So New Year’s Day was the holiday, and that’s when we exchanged presents.

So I would say a pretty extreme atheism. And it’s very interesting, by the way… I may just mention this, too, Jana, that, whenever I speak about this, and I look at the comments, I get a lot of comments that say, “He was never really an atheist, because atheists never convert to Christianity.” That’s apparently a statement of belief in the atheist faith. And so people keep denying, that I was ever an atheist, and I don’t see how I could’ve been more of an atheist than I was. It wasn’t even an issue.

Yeah. I would imagine growing up in that household, where it’s not only just a strong presumption, it sounded like there was real active movement against all things religious. Of course, if you have a Marxist view of the world, religion is… I guess it’s an opiate for the masses-

It’s evil.

And it is something to be gotten rid of, right? It’s something that is not only for those who are ignorant, as it were, and superstitious, but it’s bad, it’s evil. What did you think religion was? Other than, you know, these negative characteristics of it. Was it mythology? Was it social construction? How did you all view it? Did you think of it in those terms?

Well, I think you actually hit it when you said opium for the masses. The idea was that religion was a tool of the ruling class to enslave and control the ignorant masses. I mean that’s pretty much word for word what I learned, when I began listening to Martin Luther King, who besides being a major leader of the Civil Rights Movement was also a very strong Christian and a brilliant man and an incredible speaker. And it didn’t make sense, just this whole idea that religion is something for people who are not very bright and get easily fooled and it’s oppressive. It didn’t hold together. And needless to say, I dropped my communism pretty early, much before I dropped the atheism part, but the whole left wing agenda started to fall apart for me based on some of these things.

Okay. So you, over time, left your communism behind, but you still embraced atheism. Now it’s interesting you say that sometimes you get accused of not ever having been an atheist, and I’ve seen that before as well, in terms of a lot of people who present themselves as former atheists, and yet they’re accused of not ever having been an atheist, so just for clarity, how would you define atheism, and what your perspective was at that point. Because I know, even now, people define atheism in different ways. 

They certainly do. That’s a big topic.


Many atheists claim that atheism is simply not being convinced that any gods exist. When I hear that, my first approach is to say, “Well, if that’s all atheism is, why are you on YouTube? Why do you have an Atheist Experience radio show, where you spend most of your life attacking religion if all it is something you’re not sure exists?” I mean, I don’t go on the radio, or I don’t go on YouTube, and say, “I don’t believe in unicorns, and I’m going to prove they don’t exist, and nobody can convince me.” Why waste your time on something you don’t think is real? I think the real definition of atheism, especially the New Atheism which is now very prevalent and very successful, is not at all simply, “I don’t believe God exists.”

I got to that stage after I left the communist idea that religion is purely evil and has to be fought against. Then I got to the point where I just didn’t care. I didn’t believe in God, but I didn’t tell anybody. I never talked about it. And it wasn’t something of any interest. And the reality of New Atheism is it is pretty much a religion, because they are not just saying, “Well, try to convince me.” They’re claiming that there is no God and that all the evidence we have, and there’s so much of it, both scientific, historical, all of that evidence, to them, is meaningless. They reject it because they want to reject it. Because it goes against their religious views. Their religious views are not simply that they don’t believe that there’s a God. Their religious view is, “There is no God. God does not exist. There is no spirituality. There is no supernatural. There is no free will. There is no significance or meaning to life, other than the fact that you’re alive, and that science can explain everything, everything, including who you love and why, and every question that comes out is a matter for scientific investigation.”

These are religious beliefs. They’re not scientific beliefs. Scientists don’t believe in scientism, which is the idea that everything can be explained by science. The only people who believe in scientism are religious atheists.

So as an atheist yourself, if you can put yourself back in those shoes, looking back, would you say that you were in some ways a religious atheist? Did you have arguments against God? Or did you just merely presume the perspective because of your parents? That’s a loaded question. Or did you actually have evidence on your side or arguments for why God did not exist? 

Yeah. I think the answer is that I started that way. The evidence that I had, of course, was all negative. I would claim, if asked. I didn’t trumpet this very much because, when I was a child, there were very few atheists around. So I didn’t really talk about it much. I probably would have been beaten up if I had. But if I had been speaking to someone else, I would have said, “Well, everything that we don’t understand can be explained by science. There’s no need for a god. And science disproves the supernatural.” None of which is true, but that’s what I thought.

But once I dropped the religious part of that, which really was related to the communism, as I mentioned, I entered a phase, and I’d say this was probably when I was in college, where I was simply not… I was like today’s “Nones.” I just didn’t have any religion. I didn’t care about it, didn’t think about it, in fact, I actually had a girlfriend when I was a teenager who was a Christian, and I didn’t realize it. She didn’t tell me. And she did bring me to see the film The Gospel According to Matthew, that was my first experience, when I watched that film, of feeling that maybe there’s something here after all. And the reason for that is because there was a very emotional scene of the resurrection, when the empty tomb is discovered, and the music, the background music in the scene of this movie… And in the scene, the music goes from a very depressing funeral march to an incredibly beautiful, uplifting African hymn called Missa Luba, and that instant where the music changes is the instant when the stone is rolled back and the Marys look up and see the empty tomb, and I had this amazing feeling for the first time in my life of witnessing the miraculous. And I didn’t even believe at that time that that was possible. And about five minutes later I told myself that that was just an illusion, it was brought on by the emotional effect of the music, and it wasn’t real.

But I now know that it was real. It was the first time the Holy Spirit came to me and said, “Um, you’re missing something. Here it is.” But at the time I didn’t want to believe it. And so I continued with that for many years, just if people asked me what was my religion, I would have said, “Nothing. I’m an atheist.” But I would never have argued. I didn’t care about it. It wasn’t something that I thought about. It wasn’t a religious view, it was simply a lack of a view. And I think that many atheists today who share that kind of atheism. They’re sometimes called LackTheists. They just simply don’t believe in God, and they don’t care about it. But that’s not the New Atheism. The New Atheism is much more like my original atheism, where people have slogans like, “Empty the pews.” They talk about religion being an evil influence. They talk about trying to defend freedom from religious attack. All kinds of things.

And they have specific views which are religious views. And I mentioned them a few minutes ago: Not believing in free will, not believing in the significance of humanity. All kinds of things. The idea that we live on a very tiny, insignificant planet, that there are probably millions of other intelligent beings. All of these ideas which they claim are scientific are actually not. They are religious.

In some ways, too, they are implications of the atheistic or naturalistic worldview. That is, you are, in a way, forced to believe in determinism if you are a pure naturalist and the world and nature is all that exists, or your significance is… Well, it’s not grounded. The exceptionality of humanity is not grounded in the naturalistic worldview. So in your life, like you said, you kind of moved from a more, I guess, enthusiastic atheism to a more apathetic atheism, but in that period of time, did you ever feel like your views, your atheistic worldview, affected your life? Did you ever think, “Okay, I actually don’t have free will in my choices. There actually isn’t objective moral good or evil.” Those kinds of things. Did that ever come to roost, as it were, in your life? Or were those just kind of intellectual concepts that came along with your atheistic worldview? 

You know, that’s a very good question because, although I didn’t feel the kinds of things you’re talking about, I definitely did feel that something was missing in my life. I didn’t know what it was. By this time, I was studying science very intently, first in college and then in graduate school. And I loved science. And I even felt at a certain point that science was providing whatever it was that was missing. I didn’t have a name for then, but now I know it was spirituality. I think human beings need something spiritual in their lives, especially as they get a little older, get married, have children, begin to live a life that’s complicated and difficult, and it’s hard to do that without some kind of spirituality. And science was great. I loved it, but it didn’t quite do it completely. And even though science was very fulfilling for me, I still felt a sense of a missing something. I didn’t know what it was. And I think I actually am a very spiritual person and always was, but my upbringing kind of squashed that, and I think I started feeling that that was getting squashed, and it was also at that time that I began learning things in science that were true and also questioned this whole idea of materialism and determinism, and that began really shaking my conviction that there is no god and cannot be a god.

I began wondering, “Is that really true? Maybe it’s not.”

So walk us through that. That’s a very interesting thought, in that someone who is really pursuing science in very sophisticated ways through your education, graduate education, that you’re very thoughtful about, in a sense, your worldview and what science is able to answer, what doors it opens to understanding the universe, but it sounds like there were some questions you were asking or answers you weren’t receiving or something that was causing you to think, “Is there something more?” Tell us about that. 

Well, yeah. I mean it started with quantum physics, which I had to learn as a chemistry major. I started as a chemistry major in college. And we learned all these things, but we learned them as, “This is how things work. This is what it is. There’s something called the Uncertainty Principle, which means you can never know the position and the momentum of an electron at the same time.” And I remember thinking, “You can never know? How is that possible?” But I put it out of my mind.

But as I grew older and I began reading and I wasn’t just studying this stuff, I began realizing that there’s an awful lot in modern physics that doesn’t fit with determinism or materialism. Almost all of quantum mechanics, which is undeniably true, is not something that makes any sense in terms of our normal, logical, human way of thinking. It just doesn’t. And nobody says that it does. But what we know is that it’s true. It’s why we’re talking to each other. I mean, it’s the basis of modern technology, so it has to be true. And I didn’t get that. And I started wondering about that. And I’m not a physicist, so I couldn’t go into any detail about it, but it just seemed strange to me.

But what I could go into detail was, and what I was learning about biochemistry, about life, and I remember the first time I really went into great depth on some of the biochemical mechanisms for how life works, especially the system that produces proteins from the genetic code, from DNA, RNA, and the genetic code, and that system is just incredibly amazingly ornate and unbelievable. And I was a full atheist, but again, I got chills up and down my spine when I learned this material. I looked around at my classmates, and they were just writing everything down, like I was, but somewhere were in my mind, I was saying, “How did this happen? There’s no way this could have happened by spontaneous, random chance.” I never thought, “This is design. This is God.” And I still don’t know what it is, but it did shake the foundations of my conviction that God isn’t possible. And I began thinking, “Well, I don’t know. Maybe God is not impossible, which means that He is possible,” and at that point, thanks to these scientific issues, and there were many others that came along… There are lots of questions, for example, in science that you just can’t ask because they have no answers.

So all of those questions led me to what I call my agnostic phase. I reached a point where I would not have said I was an atheist anymore. If someone said, “Do you believe in God?” I would have said, “I have no idea. I don’t know.” And that phase lasted a very long time. And during that time, I became more open to the possibility of God, and I think that openness allowed me to finally be susceptible to the effects of the Holy Spirit, and that’s when I began to have some dreams and some other experiences, which I now know were the direct action of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Well, I’m very curious about this. Because obviously, again, you’re a very intellectually driven, thoughtful critical thinker, you were willing to see the limitations of science and the answers that it can provide, that there were extraordinary things that you were seeing in the universe, from quantum physics to the complicated things that you were finding in the mechanics of biology. It’s not like a nice package with a bow that’s tied up, and science is… Not that it’s not robust. It’s incredibly robust. But perhaps it’s not the end-all in terms of answering every question. I find it interesting that you say that there are some questions that people just don’t even ask because science is, at that point, really incapable of even addressing certain kinds of things. 

But you were intellectually honest enough to say, “Okay, maybe there’s something else. Maybe there’s something beyond the physical world, beyond the material world,” that opened you to the possibility of something more, and I just want to kind of appreciate that for a moment and say that that’s very laudable, as compared to perhaps your earlier days, where you would just shut down, like you say so many do, the possibility of something beyond the material world as providing an explanation for what it is that we see and experience in our world. 

But now you’ve raised my curiosity because you’re talking about things like openness to the Holy Spirit. And dreams and other experiences. Why don’t you talk us through that? What were some of these extraordinary things that continued moving you in the direction of God? 

Well, I’ll be happy to, but first, I just want to say one more thing about this issue of scientism, of the idea that science provides all answers. The first person who ever told me that science only answered some questions and not others was actually my atheist father, who was a scientist. And if you ask any scientist today, “Can science answer all questions?” whether they’re theists or not, they’ll say no. Science is designed to understand the natural world. The world we can see, that’s available to our senses. It’s not designed to address the question of God or the supernatural. There’s no way it can even answer those questions, along with many other questions it can’t answer. So the people now who are saying things like, “Well, science has shown us how everything works. Thunder used to be… People thought that it was Thor. Now we know it’s natural.” Yeah, that’s true. And exactly correct, because that’s what science does. And I’m still a scientist. I have a paper pending now for publication. I published two papers in the last couple of years, even retired. So science is wonderful, but what it does is it answers questions about the natural world, and not all of those questions, either

In terms of, yeah, opening up, now at the time that happened, I had no idea that I was opening up. I certainly would have scoffed at the idea of a Holy Spirit, but you know, I mean, it wasn’t up to me. This happened without my willingness. And the first dream happened while I was agnostic, just barely agnostic. It was quite a while ago. And I had no idea what to make of it. I thought it was just a crazy thing. And this was the dream where I was … It was a nightmare where I was holding on by my hands at the edge of a cliff, and I’m afraid of heights, so that was a very terrifying dream, and I didn’t know what to do. And then I heard a voice say, “What’s wrong? Just let go,” or maybe just, “Just let go,” and I thought that was crazy. “If I let go, I’ll fall down,” and I said, “No, I can’t let go.” And the voice was insistent. It kept say, “Just let go.” And so eventually, I didn’t know what else to do. I was losing my grip, anyway, so I let go, and as soon as I let go, the world turned 90 degrees, so instead of hanging off the cliff, I was lying on the ground, with my hands clutching a boulder on the ground, and I was perfectly fine. And there was a man there. And then I woke up. And I had no idea what that was all about. And the man who was there had the voice that I heard. And he was standing not far from me, and I didn’t put it out of my mind, but I had no idea what it was all about. And for a long time I didn’t know what it meant to say, “Just let go.” Let go of what? And obviously something was holding me back, and that was later that was realized that that was the first time the Holy Spirit came to me directly and told me what to do.

And it turned out that letting go was exactly what I had to do, of all the garbage that had entered my mind from childhood on, that was blocking me from making any progress towards understanding reality and truth. And when I let go of that, and that doesn’t mean I let go of science. It doesn’t mean I let go of rationality or anything related to intellectual honesty. It meant I let go of all the mythology that I had learned about, the impossibility of God, the evil of religion, all of that garbage I had to let go of. And eventually I did. It took time, but eventually I did.

So, like you say, that was early in your agnosticism, so it was a step forward, I guess you could say, in your journey, but you were still pretty far from-

Oh, yeah. Quite far. And then I had another one, which was later. So at this point, I had already been to a church for the first time in my life, and I should mention that had an effect on me, too, because I had never walked into a church for the first 46 years of my life. Never been in any religious institution.

So I’m just curious. Why did you walk into the church? 

Good question. I met a woman, a Christian woman who became a friend of mine, and she was not very evangelical, but she wanted me to go to a church with her. She was Catholic. And I thought the Catholics were the most evil group of people in the world, but I agreed to go with her. I was absolutely terrified. I thought I would be, I don’t know, taunted at best and stoned at worst.

Oh, my! 

As a sinner and a pawn of Satan. I had no idea what a church was like. And I was completely overwhelmed by the difference, and the reality was that this was a church run by Franciscan monks, and the priest who gave the sermon talked about love and why love is so important. I don’t think he even mentioned God very much, maybe a little bit, but what I heard was very nice, and everybody shook my hand and wished me peace. It was nice. It was nothing bad at all. Nobody looked at me harshly or whispered to each other about this infidel in their midst. And I survived, and that made me really wonder about what I had been taught, whether that was all real or not. Whether the church was the main enemy of humanity or not and eventually I decided not.

You know, I think that’s not an uncommon experience. I think that there’s so much negative press, as it were, about the church and so much negative caricaturing that when someone actually goes or encounters it for themselves, it is nothing as they supposed it would be. They’re so surprised, and those negative caricatures fall. 

Well, I still hear this. You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I still hear this. And I hear of people deconverting because of the horrible experiences they had at church, and I have to tell you, since I’ve become a Christian, I’m a Methodist, but I’ve been to Baptist churches, Southern Baptist churches, Catholic churches, denominational churches, all kinds of churches. I have never seen anything bad in any of them. Maybe I’m just lucky or maybe I’m missing it, but when people start complaining about how badly they were treated, I just haven’t seen that. And a church is where you worship Jesus Christ, right? And there’s nothing bad in that. That’s nothing but love. So anyway, that’s a side issue, but…

Yeah. Of course, that’s not to say… A church is made up of people, and certainly people can be very bad representatives of Christ, so I just want to acknowledge that those things do happen. 

So you left that church experience with a different impression, again, maybe perhaps a bit more openness towards the possibility [CROSSTALK 40:04]. 

Yeah. I did. And I started thinking, “Well, maybe I should actually look at that book that they keep talking about,” but I didn’t do it yet. I had another dream, which got me to open the book.


And that was the one… Where I’m by myself outside of a walled garden, and I know there’s a garden inside. I’m not sure how I know that, but it’s surrounded by this very steep wall which you can’t see over, and I’m circling around it, trying to find the way to climb up, and I can’t climb up, because every time I try, I fall down again. There’s no good handholds or footholds, so I’m getting very frustrated. I’m walking around, and all of a sudden, there’s a man standing there, and he says, “What’s the matter with you? What are you trying to do?” And I said, “I’m trying to get into the garden! There’s a garden there, and I can’t get over the wall.” And he said to me, “Open the door. It’s right there.” So I did. There was a door, I opened it, and I walked in. And by then I knew that that meant something. I knew who the man was, and I knew what the garden was, and at that point, I decided, more or less. I don’t know exactly when, but at that point, I decided it was time to open the book.

And I did. I started looking at Bible. I didn’t like the Old Testament much. I didn’t understand it, didn’t know what it was all about. So I went to the New Testament. I had seen that movie as a teenager about Matthew, and I saw there is, in fact, the Gospel of Matthew. So I started with that, and I read that. And I read the Sermon on the Mount, and I almost broke down in tears. Who knew this was in this?

For those who don’t know what the Sermon on the Mount is, may not be familiar with the Bible at all, could you tell us a bit about what that is? 

Yeah. The Sermon on the Mount, which is in the Gospel of Matthew, is a sermon by Jesus. It’s the longest single passage in the Bible of Jesus’ speaking. And it includes what’s called the Beatitudes, which are a series of sentences that start with, “Blessed are…” and it includes, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” I don’t have it memorized, so hopefully I don’t get anything wrong, but there are many of these blessings of people who are humble, poor, modest, in trouble, suffering, sinful, and that’s who Jesus came for. And I didn’t know that. And then the sermon continues with all kinds of amazing messages that, if you’re not familiar with it, look it up. You can just look at Sermon on the Mount and read it, and for someone like me, who didn’t know what Jesus Christ was all about, it was such an eye opener.

Now, I heard it when I saw the movie, but that’s different, and I wasn’t really paying attention, and I was quite young, but when I read it, at that point, then I decided, “Okay, I have to read this whole thing. I have to see what else is going on here.” And I went straight to the book of Acts, which actually is my favorite book in the Bible, and later and I went and read Luke. Luke also wrote the book of Acts, the book of Acts of the Apostles. And that’s a history. It’s a historical treatment of what happened after Jesus Christ rose from the dead, was resurrected. The early church in Jerusalem. Very detailed, who said what, all kinds of things that are obviously not made up. I mean anybody who could make up that is an amazing writer and liar, because it comes across as so honest. I never have doubted anything in that book as being real. And that made me face the key question, which is, “Is it true that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?” because if that’s true, you have to be a Christian. I mean that’s the essence of Christianity.

And I saw that, and I said, “Well, I can’t believe that. That’s supernatural. That can’t be real, and also, it’s too good to be true.” If the resurrection is real, and we are saved in Jesus Christ, then that’s wonderful! And the world isn’t that good. I had learned that the world was horrible. The world was a place where you’re lucky if you survive a few years, and then that’s it. And this was too good to be true. So I couldn’t believe it, even though I had the dreams, I read the Bible, I read the New Testament, the rest of it. I read Paul’s letters eventually. But I couldn’t believe it because it was beautiful, and I didn’t think life and the world was beautiful yet. And it was too good to be true. And it was just remarkable. And it was hard to believe. And it implied that God is absolutely real, that Jesus Christ is his Son and the Savior of humanity. And I couldn’t get there. I tried. I really wanted to, but I couldn’t get there, and it took me a very long time to get over that last threshold, and that was not my doing. That was a direct intervention by the Holy Spirit while I was awake, and it was an experience that I will never forget. It’s, as the two dreams, that is detailed in my book, but I have rarely spoken verbally about this last experience because I find it difficult to do so. But I have done it once or twice, and if you like, I can talk about it now.

I would love to hear what that profound experience was. 

So I was driving alone. I lived in two places. At that time, I was teaching at University of Pittsburgh. I also had a home in New York, so I was driving back and forth fairly frequently on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and one day, I was driving, and there’s a very long stretch where there isn’t much radio, and I turned on the radio, and I heard a preacher. It was a Christian station. And I was listening to this preacher and thinking, as I had before, that many of these radio preachers have amazing abilities for oratory. They’re really able to speak well. And I didn’t really pay attention to what he was saying because I never really… at that time, I didn’t like listening to Christian radio, which I guess was hitting too close to home at that point.

So I turned it off after a few minutes, but I started thinking about this idea of giving a sermon or a talk, whatever. I thought of it as a sermon. And somehow it came into my mind, “What would it be like if I gave a sermon?” which I thought was funny at first. And then I started thinking, “Well, I’d probably talk about the origin of life or something scientific.” And then it happened. I had some feeling which I can’t explain, and I pulled the car over, which was a good thing because I began seeing myself speaking to a crowd somewhere in the countryside, outside, and I was speaking a sermon. And the sermon’s words came to me without any thought. They came from outside. I’m sure of it. What I basically said was, to these people, all of whom were Christians, I said, “You people should be praised and be happy and be blessed because Jesus Christ loves you, and I know that He loves you because Jesus Christ loves even me.” And the word even was important because I knew that I was a sinner, and when I say I’m a sinner, I really mean it. I mean, I had been a terrible sinner, not only for not believing in God and rejecting Jesus, but for many other things. And I said, “He loves even me, and if He loves me, how can He not love each of you?” And I said a few more things about that, and then I stopped, and then it was over. And I was sitting in my car, and I was crying uncontrollably, and I said out loud, sitting in the car, “I believe.” And that was it.

And at that moment, this huge weight just fell away, and then I understood my first dream. I had let go, and that weight was gone. And what replaced it was joy, and that has not left me one minute since then.

That’s amazing.

And this joy of knowing Jesus as my Savior and as One who has forgiven me, forgiven my sins, and saved me, saved my soul, saved my life.

It sounds like your life has been really quite different since those days of really pushing back against God, when you were feeling that there was something missing when you had a lot of unanswered questions. I’m wondering, on the other side of that, as a believer in God, I know that there are still a lot of questions that are hard to answer, whether it’s about life in general or even things we observe in the world, but I wonder if some of those conundrums that you had from a naturalistic point of view, do you find that some of those are answerable now that you embrace a God-created worldview? 

That’s an interesting question. I may have trouble answering it. I’m thinking about it. One of the big questions that many thoughtful Christians and theists in general have is the problem if evil. If God is omnipotent and all good, why is there evil. And that question doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people. What is evil depends on where you start from. What is a blessing depends on where you’re starting from. If you’re a refugee from, say, Ukraine or some war-ravaged or starving place, and you get to live peacefully for a few days with a roof over your head and have some soup to eat, that’s wonderful! Right? That’s a wonderful blessing. And if you’re used to living in a great house with lots of money and everything, you have other problems, which, you know, you might consider evil, but everybody else would say, “Wow, that’s a lucky guy.” So it depends where you start from, and where I started from was the idea that everything is bad, that there’s no good. It’s what Richard Dawkins says, pitiless indifference. That’s all there is in the universe. And that’s what I believed. So when people say is the glass half empty or half full, what I always say is, it’s a miracle that there’s any water in the glass at all. And that’s how I feel. I don’t care if it’s half empty or totally full or whatever, there’s some water there. That’s amazing. That’s a miracle.

Yeah, I bet you do-

In some ways, some of the questions that many people ask… I mean, I don’t think that’s the answer to the problem of evil. That’s not enough. I mean we still have these horrible things happening, these children being killed. It’s just heartrending, and I have very good friends… I’m not a young man. I have very good friends, God-fearing, wonderful Christians, who get sick, are sick, and have horrible experiences. And yeah, it’s a bad world. It is. You can’t deny that. I don’t think anyone denies that this is a bad, hard world. That’s not the point. Atheism doesn’t make it any better. Atheism doesn’t help you with that. What God has done is told us and shown us that this is not the end, that this is the vale of tears we live in, and what’s coming is what we’re hoping for. And that’s what I found too good to be true, and I couldn’t believe it until I had to believe it. Because the Holy Spirit came to me and basically dragged me across that threshold of belief, and now I know that it’s real and that it’s true.

And so, in terms of science, I mean I have not given up one shred of my scientific worldview. And there’s no reason to. And that’s my main message. If you’re a person who is a Christian and has been told that science is in conflict with your faith, that’s a lie. That’s a direct lie from Satan. It’s not true. And I’m not just talking about myself. The former head of the NIH, now the President’s Science Advisor, is Francis Collins. He’s an evangelical devoted Christian. He’s one of the most brilliant scientists whose ever lived, and there are many, many, many others. I’m not going to name them all. Nobel Prize winners. Many people.

So there’s no conflict between Christianity and science, and as I said, I’m still doing science. I’m still doing research. And I will probably never stop.

I’m so glad you clarified that, because I think that that is, obviously, one big reason that people think that they have to reject God, because they believe in science, not in God, which they have, again, perhaps a misconception. 

It’s not a choice. It’s not a dichotomy.

Right! Right! Yeah. They’re very complementary.

Exactly. And science started in a Christian context. I mean all the original scientists were devout Christians, and they all said that they were determining the laws that governed God’s world. They weren’t against God.


If you had told even Galileo or Pasteur or Copernicus or Maxwell, or all the other scientists of the nineteenth and even early twentieth century, Lord Kelvin. If you had told them, “You choose between your science and God because they’re in conflict,” they would have looked at you with mouths open and would have said, “It’s exactly the opposite! Science is the way to understand God’s creation, and we’re doing it. Look at all we’ve done.” And that’s still true today. There’s no question about it.

Right. Yeah. Your story is so full, Dr. Garte, and I can imagine that there are some skeptics who have that, just the tiniest bit of openness, that they’re willing to take a listen to your story and to your journey, and as a brilliant man, see how you’re able to bring your intellectual life, your spiritual life, your emotional life, everything in concert. It’s obviously made a tremendous change in your life. Just your perspective. I’m sure you’re an incredibly joy-filled person because you have an amazing perspective on life. Obviously, a half full kind of guy, and for good reason! 

So if there’s a curious skeptic listening to you today and you could advise him towards his continued search for God, what words of wisdom could you give him? 

I would say what I was told by the Holy Spirit, just let go. Because what’s stopping you from… Many people have said to me, “I would like to believe in God, but He doesn’t answer me. I don’t hear Him. I don’t see Him. I don’t detect Him.” And I say, “Yeah, I didn’t either.” And I tell a story about driving in my car and being lost in a rainstorm in the dark, and I was absolutely in a state of horror and terror and frustration and angry and everything else, and I stopped the car, again a car story, and I stopped the car, and I suddenly realized, once the car stopped, that I had the radio on, and the most beautiful music was coming out of this radio, and I had never heard it because all of this emotion, this anger, this frustration was just consuming me. Once I stopped the car and heard the music, I calmed down, and I relaxed, and I realized where I was.

And a lot of people don’t realize how much they’re blocking the voice of God. The voice of God is not very powerful sometimes. It can be. But for some individuals, it can be a calm, still voice, as the Bible says. And that’s a beautiful passage because it says God is not in the thunderclap, God is not in the hurricane, He’s not in the earthquake, He’s in a small, still voice. So to hear that voice, let go. Let go of everything that is telling you, “No. It can’t be. It’s impossible.” Let that go. And then just listen and pray if you can and see what happens.

That’s really good advice. And for those of us who are Christians who really want to be a light, in a sense, a way forward to help people who are looking for God, how would you advise us as Christians to best engage with those who do seem a bit resistant or maybe even those who are willing to take another look? 

I would say tell your truth. And sometimes you’ll hear things that sound convincing, like, something from the Old Testament usually they’ll bring up. Just tell your truth to them, be patient, listen. You’re not going to convince somebody in a discussion to change their mind, although it has happened, and it usually happens with people sitting around a living room, and suddenly somebody says something, and the listener says, “Gee, I never thought of that,” and they feel a wave of something, and there are some amazing stories about conversions. So do the best you can, and be patient and kind. Be loving. I say that as someone who often finds that difficult, but I know that that’s really what we need to do. That’s what we’re called to do.

And don’t get angry, don’t get upset. You may get attacked, but that was foreseen already. Paul has already told us about that. And you put on the armor of God and you stay steadfast, because you know what the truth is. Jesus Christ is the truth. Christianity is real. And you know that. And just don’t let that go, because there’s no reason to let that go.

That’s wonderful.

Thank you so much for joining me today. Again, I am so inspired by your story, just the fullness of it, both the way that you were, again, brought up in such an antithesis of a Christian home, just the polar opposite, but yet, here you sit now, really proclaiming the truth and the reality of God, and not only proclaiming it, but I can really tell that you live it and that you’re unashamed of Who you know and Who is truth, and I hope that everyone who listens to this podcast today picks up your book, The Works of His Hands, because it will go into depth in terms of much more of the scientific questions that you wrestled with, as well as your story and the experiential aspects and spiritual aspects of all of that. It’s just such a full and gratifying read, and you can just see how God works in extraordinary ways in the lives of people who you would never think would be proclaiming his truth today, just like you. 

So thank you so much for coming on and telling your story today. 

I just want to mention that, if anyone wants to contact me, be on my newsletter, mailing list, or even just say anything, I always answer. My website is, very easy, and there’s a contact page and a sign-up page and a bunch of other pages, so that’s how you can reach me.

Yeah. That’s terrific. And we will put that link in our episode notes as well. So again, thank you, Dr. Garte, for coming on today and telling your story. 

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Thanks for tuning in to Side B Stories to hear Dr. Garte’s story. You can find out more about his book, The Works of His Hands, and how to connect with him through his website and Twitter and social media accounts in the episode notes below. For questions and feedback about this podcast episode, you can contact me through our Side B Stories website, at I hope you enjoyed it and that you’ll follow, rate, review, and share our podcast with your friends and social network. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you next time, where we’ll see how an skeptic flips the record of their life. 

Recent Podcasts

Secular Jew Finds Christ – Dr. James Tour’s Story

Secular Jew Finds Christ – Dr. James Tour’s Story

From a secular Jewish home, scientific scholar and former skeptic Dr. James Tour encountered the love and reality of Jesus, and his life was immediately changed. Dr. James Tour's Resources:  website: email: YouTube:...

From Hopelessness to Hope – Al Gascon’s Story 

From Hopelessness to Hope – Al Gascon’s Story 

Former atheist Al Gascon rejected God in light of his life struggles. His study of science further convinced him intellectually of what he felt personally, that God did not exist. Now, Al works as a pastor who spends his life helping others know that God is real....