Endorsements for The Works of His Hands
“Combining a childlike enthusiasm for discovery with a polymath’s understanding of the natural world, Sy offers unusually clear explanations and insight into why it is important for us, not just the specialists, to know such things as how cells get their energy. For decades he saw the pursuit of truth through science as the height of life’s purpose. What could top the joy of scientific exploration he conveys so well? Sy has an answer for this question too—discovering the God who created these wonders. As the book unfolds, he does not just show us that science and faith are compatible. He offers the story of his life to illustrate how the two together offer a new and much heightened view of life’s purpose.”
—Paul Wason, vice president of life sciences and genetics at the John Templeton Foundation
“An arresting, wholly transparent account of a scientist’s struggle with faith. There are many books of this sort, but almost none of this caliber or candor. Garte is a biochemist who competently explores physics, philosophy of science, quantum entanglement, mathematics, evolution, consciousness, and the fight for morality and justice, all in a fast-moving personal story that’s quite funny at points and heart-wrenching in others.”
—Perry Marshall, author of Evolution 2.0, and founder of the Evolution 2.0 Technology Prize
“There are two pernicious myths about the Christian faith that circulate through modern culture. The first asserts that to become a Christian, one must park one’s mind at the doors of the church before entering. The second myth is that senior academics set their foundational beliefs in stone early in their careers, and they remain intact until retirement. The spiritual and intellectual voyage of Dr. Sy Garte crushes both of these myths. Raised by parents steeped in communism and anti-theistic materialism, then educated in biochemistry and biological evolution, Garte spent much of his academic career as a fervent atheist. Yet an intuitive inkling that something was missing in his life—and in his science—opened the way for him to discover the grace of God in his Son, Jesus Christ. This book deals with many intellectually challenging issues Garte faced in his journey, including a renewed understanding of evolution as God’s method of creation. Garte is a brilliant example of a Christian following Jesus’s command to love God with our minds (Matt. 22:37).”
—Denis O. Lamoureux, DDS, PhD, PhD, professor of science and religion at St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta
“Sy Garte may be compared to C. S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy. As his pastor, I delighted in reading this personal narrative about Sy’s transformation from an atheist to a believer in the triune God. His conversion was stimulated by his thoughtful inquiries as a scientist but completed by an encounter with the risen Christ. Sy found God only to realize that our gracious God had been wooing him with love and glimpses of joy for decades. A book worth reading by anyone who struggles with the intersection of science and faith.”
—Reverend Martha Meredith, pastor of Rockville United Methodist Church
“In The Works of His Hands, biochemist Sy Garte shares what he learned (and is still learning) during his career as a scientist in search of purpose and meaning. He discovered Christianity, to paraphrase C. S. Lewis, as the ‘light by which everything else may be seen.’ His insights, offered in narrative and creative storytelling, provide a road map for reconciling science and faith, both for spiritual seekers peeking over the fence from the yard of agnosticism and for worried believers gazing out the chapel window at the so-called challenges of modern science. Thoughtful, provocative, playful, and intimate.”
—Stephen O. Moshier, professor of geology at Wheaton College
Amazon Reviews from Readers
Sy Garte offers us a unique and enjoyable book on a scientist’s journey from atheism to faith. It is unique in at least three ways.
(1) Sy’s trajectory was not the typical individual raised in cultural Christianity who lost faith and then regained it. He was raised by atheist parents immersed in Marxist ideology. There was no religious baggage to be jettisoned before considering alternatives. There was no family pressure to come back into the fold.
(2) Sy does not follow his backstory with the usual launch into the arguments or experiences that convinced him of the truth of the Bible. Instead, he lauds the beauty and wonder of science, communicating why modern science does, in fact, reflect what is seen in nature. There was no scientific baggage that had to be jettisoned in order to see an alternative truth in the Bible. His journey to faith started with a deep appreciation for science – and a recognition that science was limited in its explanatory power. As an example, science can potentially answer the question of how feelings of love manifest neurologically in the brain, but not whether love is intrinsically real, or if it has an origin or purpose beyond physical reproduction.
(3) Sy makes no apologies for embracing the role of personal experience in his search for truth. While actively engaged in the scientific enterprise, he also rejects the logic of those insisting that only that which is testable by science can serve as genuine evidence. His personal encounters with God included dreams, something Middle Eastern converts are far more familiar with than most in the West.
Gregg Davidson (author of Friend of Science, Friend of Faith)
Waking up in the middle of the night, I grabbed the only book on my bedside table, the newly delivered The Works of His Hands by Sy Garte. Bad move. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down and just kept reading. Bottom line: I didn’t get much sleep that night, but both my intellectual and my spiritual hungers were nourished. Sy Garte sets up the story of his life in a very logical and eminently readable fashion, laying out the reasons for his atheism alongside the natural questions that occurred to him through his deep dive into the physical sciences. The first lesson is the importance of questions. We cannot discover truth of any kind if we do not ask the right questions. After that, each chapter ties one of those questions to each of the key turning points in his life and a key learning in science. This allows the reader to develop a relationship with the author, to see his authenticity and the rigorously scientific nature of his intellectual journey, and we can travel along with him making delicious new discoveries all along the way. I highly recommend this book, and for those who want a more personal glimpse into the author, youtube has several interviews that are really excellent.
I couldn’t put this book down. The writer takes us through his journey of how, as a scientist, he found that pure materialism just could not answer the deeper questions of life – he saw that there are limits to what science could and could not address. As his career as a scientist progresses, he discovers hints that there was indeed something more. And God, it seems, wasn’t going to let him go until he fully realized that there was a great God who loved him and wanted a personal relationship with him. The writer artfully describes the path he took as little by little he had to let go of years of indoctrination that there was no god, and certainly not the Christian God. This is the perfect book for those who struggle with faith, and who believe that science and faith are natural enemies. But even better, for those of you who know someone that loves science and has serious doubt that a belief in anything other than what “can be proved by science” can even be rationally considered. This book shows that science and faith are but two ways of legitimately exploring the wonderful world we find ourselves in.
As someone trained in the field of biochemistry, I was eager to read this book by Dr. Garte (a biochemist). Regardless of one’s views on creation/evolution, every Christian can appreciate Sy’s personal account of he came to know and love our Lord Jesus.
Psalm 138 tells us that “though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.” Other verses speak to the same truth – namely, that God resists the proud. I kept thinking of these verses as I read this book, as both gratitude and humility were key components of every step in Sy’s journey towards Jesus. It takes humility to admit the limits of one’s own knowledge and it takes a humble heart not to presume one should be given more in life. When we can muster that kind of humble gratitude, the God in whom we live and move and have our being is not far from us. And he was not far from Sy.
What strikes me the most is that apart from the evidences from science, Dr. Garte’s conversion hinged on his humble wonder at the world and deep gratitude for the goodness that surrounded him. He struggled as much with the problem of good as some struggle with the problem of evil. When he looked at the world, the tremendous good confounded him as much as the evil. He discusses how one’s “default position” is crucial when it comes to our ability to draw near to God. “Those with a humbler default position,” he writes, “often find great joy in the happiness they find.” Like the Psalmist, they can more readily see that God has hemmed them in, behind and before. Such an incredibly wise insight that even as Christians we are too prone to forget. I was so thankful for the reminder. This book is full of these.
In this, he reminds me so much of one of my favorite thinkers and hearts, G.K. Chesterton. Gratitude and wonder were for Chesterton the highest forms of thought – but these are impossible without humility. God resists the proud.
Garte’s conversion account offers up a wonderfully integrated mix of scientific evidences, classic apologetics (stated in new and unique ways – I love his computer analogy to illustrate the Argument from Reason – one of my favorites), and deeply personal testimony. I particularly like his use of stories as illustrations. These enchanting, imaginative excursions offer the reader some fun ways of understanding the deeper points that he is making. Again, very Chestertonian!
I think that to see the extraordinary in the everyday is actually a discipline – it takes practice and determination. It doesn’t come easy for us for, as Chesterton once said, fallen creatures such as ourselves have sinned and grown old – repetition in life (and nature) wears us out. In a passage titled “An Ordinary Human Takes an Ordinary Trip”, Garte offers the reader an excellent example of how to practice this the discipline of wonder.
In the end, the greatest benefit of reading Dr. Garte’s conversion story is that it will renew your wonder at the world our Lord created, helping you to see, once again, the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary. Our modern world is in desperate need of re-enchantment. This book goes far in doing just that. Enjoy!
Dr. Sy Garte’s journey from a militant atheist and communist family to a career in biochemistry among atheists to a fulfilled life in Christ is fascinating. He recounts his early negative views towards Christianity and religion and how he was unable to fully see the many signs Jesus was sending to him throughout his life. He reflects on dreams he had, which helped him to “fall from the cliff” of atheism onto solid ground by trusting in the words of our Savior. Such beautiful reflections are woven within a narrative that includes highly educational information about the relationship between science and Christianity. Dr. Garte devotes much time educating his audience on how evolution and religion are not mutually exclusive. He further offers numerous tidbits from other Christian scientists to support his assertions. He also explains his decision on the particular Christian sect he chose to grow his faith. Overall, this is an excellent read – well worth the time!
An accomplished and respected biochemist, Sy Garte takes us step-by-step through his journey from atheism to a vibrant Christian faith. This book successfully bridges the gap from expert to novice. What will be surprising for many evangelical readers conditioned to think of science as dangerous, perhaps even the road to atheism, is the role that Dr. Garte’s scientific training and career played in his coming to faith. No matter how much he learned, he found that he had more questions than answers, and that science itself had discovered that some questions are simply unanswerable. He explains the uncertainty principle in a manner understandable for the layman, and does a great job explaining the irrationality of quantum mechanics while also explaining that quantum mechanics still works and is valid.
Realizing that the supposedly rational world of the natural sciences is in many ways irrational and unknowable, he was driven to consider whether of not belief in God was as absurd as he had been led to believe. He points out that some propose a multiverse as an explanation for the unexplainable; since the idea of a multiverse is speculative, it is no more unscientific to attribute ultimate reality to God.
The reader will find Dr. Garte’s style clear and engaging. He skillfully uses wit and humor, includes several “fables” as explanations for why God may have inspired the writers of the Bible as He did, why God might have made the universe as He did, and why people act as they do. The book is full of thanksgiving and praise, is pleasingly self-deprecatory, and perhaps best of all, Dr. Garte is not afraid to say, “I don’t know”, “this remains a mystery”, and “I could be wrong.” In a day when evangelical Christianity may be a bit too quick to assume it has all the answers, Sy Garte gives information in a humble fashion, with the needed reminder that questions are actually more valuable sometimes than answers.
This is a personal memoir and therefore reflects the author’s path from atheism to evangelism. Garte is an accomplished career scientist, so not surprisingly, the science he presents is both impeccable and insightful. Scientific discussion – support for evolution, for example – comprise the majority of the book. This is well supported an d documented. Evangelicals who dismiss evolution would be wise to read these portions closely. There is a lot one could disagree with, and there are more than a few leaps of faith – both literal and figurative – but he clearly explains how he came to shed what he calls his “militant atheistic upbringing” and find religion. Along the way he offers much that is thought provoking, including some rational questioning of religious dogma. Near the end he notes he has no interest in proving God’s existence and that doing so is likely impossible; that faith is not subject to scientific methodology. In essence, God exists because you believe he exists, and that’s perfectly okay. And while his conversion is not scientifically based, Garte states that he believes the existence of science and belief in God are not inconsistent. Indeed, he suggests they are compatible and perhaps even complementary.
Doesn’t matter what your particular view of evolution/creation may be, Sy’s book will encourage you to see how Jesus can and does do what is seemingly impossible for us. While not an autobiography, Sy does give his testimony of going from atheism and communism to his faith in Christ. He also does a great job of breaking down ideas about the limits of science, design in nature, and explains how he sees the compatibility of science and faith. I am not one who accepts natural selection/evolution on the larger scale, but that for me does not detract from the many helpful and inspiring truths contained in its pages. For Sy, science, the investigation and study of the physical world, is an act of worship. Whatever one may conclude about the “mechanics” of nature, as believers, this book can be a helpful reminder to us that we should be more cognizant of the created order. Our understanding of the natural world has been dominated by secular interpretations that deny design, that deny God as the Creator and sustainer. The Church needs her voice back when it comes to understanding the cosmos, from stars to DNA sequences, and Sy’s book is a much-needed part in that recovery.
Daniel Ray (author of The Story of the Cosmos)
This was a captivating read that pairs Sy Garte’s personal journey with the evidence that led him to Christianity. The chapters are a perfect length, not too long, but with just enough information. He also does a great job of explaining complicated scientific discoveries at a layman level. I am going to recommend this book to anyone who is having doubts about Christianity.
I am, for lack of a better term, a *very* hopeful agnostic. “The work of His hands” is an absolutely delightful book. The subtitle says exactly what it is about, but one of the things that sets this book apart from others of the same genre is that Dr. Garte was not raised in a religious environment. If anything, he was raised in an *anti*-religious household. This is not a story of faith lost and rediscovered; rather, it is a tale of someone who was “surprised by faith”, a faith that blossomed despite Dr. Garte’s attitude towards it. He had to be proverbially dragged kicking and screaming towards God. Mind you, he is not your pious, meek, show-the-other-cheek kind of guy. In other words, he is more like Peter than like Jesus. You see, Sy is a no-nonsense, nobody’s pushover rough and tough man (who happens to hold a PhD and is a top-notch scientist).
In the book, he shows that there are ways to reconcile science and faith. His love and awe for both permeates every single page. Some will nerd out with the science and some will be moved by the coming to faith tale. Some will experience both.
A big plus for me (because I know next to nothing about it) is that theology and dogma are almost completely absent from this book. This book is just about experience and thought, and these are more than enough: however, the book is much more than that; I will not say much about the content, except for two details: I loved the witty, slightly irreverent fables sprinkled throughout the book. These might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I am convinced that a true God must have a great sense of humor. Also, the account of his surprise when he gradually realized he had faith, a process that let’s say, was not overnight, is endearing. I must say that I envy him in the best possible way.
This book will not convince anyone to throw hesitance to the wind and become a believer, and that’s ok, because that is not its purpose. Sy is just telling his story.
If I have to express any dislikes, is that I’d wish the book was longer and that it had included an index. Other than that, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
O,R, Pagan, Ph.D.
My own background is in science and faith, so the two were never enemies for me. But I live in a world where many people see them as opposite forces, so it’s a delight to find a serious, scientific book which is also both faith-filled and eminently readable. The Works of His Hands tells how a doctor of biochemistry, raised as a non-believer, asked an awful lot of questions, and came to faith through answers, reason and love.
The prose is personal enough to make this book read like a conversation with the author. The information is well-organized and detailed enough to appeal to scientists and non-scientists alike (with the most complex explanations left to the appendices). And the chapters include very reasonable, well-reasoned responses to many familiar anti-faith arguments (no, faith isn’t the root of all evil, or even of all wars). The book presents an honestly argued faith in a God who works through logical laws, not magical whims.
Harmonious prose leads readers to a pleasing harmony of faith and science. Whimsical anecdotes delight and amuse (even introducing the possibility of a whimsical God, delighting in his creation). Meanwhile serious questions invite us to look at the author’s very serious answers, and to see the works of God’s Hands.
The Works of His Hands isn’t “light reading” but nor is it heavy. It’s well-balanced, inviting, and appealing. It’s neither too deeply nor too shallowly scientific. As an honest report of personal investigation, it invites honesty in its readers. And as a faith-filled testimony of change, it invites us to recognize that faith and science’s supposed enmity is a myth we should be happy to dispense with. It’s a wonderful book and I’m recommending it to everyone!
Combines a compelling personal story about a conversion to living for Christ, with useful science knowledge. The science parts strengthened my conviction that God and science are not at odds. The personal story was an encouraging reminder of Jesus’ great love for us.