For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Atheist Oncologist Returns to Faith While Treating Cancer Patients: Science Proves the Existence of Higher Power
By Marina Zhang Epoch Times
Dr. Stephen Iacoboni is part of the baby boomer generation. Born in 1952, he came of age during the 1960s when the country was living in the bubble of the ideal American Dream.
“I was raised as a Roman Catholic and I was very faithful,” said Iacoboni, “but there are some inherent contradictions with Christianity, and when you’re young and idealistic, you don’t understand that humans are imperfect, and so you blame them for things that are just part of being a frail human with faults.”
Iacoboni’s disillusionment came in the early 70s, when the societal problems festering in America’s inner cities rose to the surface with civil rights protests and anti-war movements against the Vietnam War.
“I was raised to be patriotic and believed that everyone was equal; I became a young adult and [realized that] people of color don’t have the same rights and [we have been] slaughtering innocent people in Southeast Asia [in the Vietnam War],” Iacoboni told The Epoch Times during a phone call.
The United States withdrew from Vietnam once the casualties were too much for the country to bear.
In the aftermath of the lost war, Christians, who mostly held conservative views were blamed for the anti-communist policies that led to the United States’s eight-year intervention in the Vietnam War. This included the mounting casualties, traumatized veterans, and stories of brutal killings by the U.S. military upon the Vietnamese civilians.
While Christians faced attack in the public forum for pushing the war agenda, modern science was spouting exciting new discoveries, framed in narratives that denied the existence of a higher being.
“Science of the 60s and 70s had come out and said, ‘well, we have solved the riddle of life: the riddle of life is divisible to biochemistry, that everything that you do, every thought that you have, every emotion that you have, is based on the DNA and you’re just a chemical machine.’”
From the late 50s to 70s, discoveries in DNA molecular biology exploded.
In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick found that the DNA’s structure was a double helical structure. Jérôme Lejeune demonstrated in 1959 that diseases are genetic with a study showing that Down syndrome is attributed to being born with an extra chromosome 21 in every cell.
By 1965, the first transfer RNA (tRNA) was sequenced and it was discovered that RNA sequences in sets of three corresponded to specific amino acids that link together to form proteins.
“I was a chemist at the time and … I was young and well educated and stupid, meaning I wasn’t wise. I wasn’t able to see the fallacy in that argument, and the argument went all the way to saying that there is no reason to believe in the God of Abraham.”
Iacoboni was given a book in medical school that shaped his younger years and influenced many medical students of that time. The book was “Chance and Necessity,” written by biochemist Jacques Monod, a Nobel laureate and atheist.
Monod shared the award with François Jacob and André Lwoff in 1968. The three of them proved that information carried in the DNA is translated into proteins by means of a messenger, which we now know as messenger RNA (mRNA).
They also showed, using lac operon (required for the transport and metabolism of lactose) from Escherichia coli, that whether the actions of enzymes (proteins that speed up chemical reactions) were activated or suppressed was self-regulated by the DNA.
Monod used this finding to solidify his argument that biomolecular actions are controlled solely by our DNA and, therefore, there was no higher entity.
Despite the debunking of his argument over 30 years later by another atheist scientist with the discovery of epigenetics, Monod’s argument against the existence of God persisted, and the legacy of despair he left for man remained.
“The ancient covenant is in pieces,” Monod wrote, “man knows at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.”
As an impressionable young adult at the time, Iacoboni took Monod’s arguments as fact. Disillusioned about the world, the anti-religion narrative from both politics and science made sense to him.
“Because Christians are hypocrites,” said Iacoboni, “their religion is based on a fairy tale about something that happened a long time ago, and now we have proof in science that there is no God.’”
For Iacoboni at the time, it was easy and probably more comfortable letting go of God than believing in something the respected seniors in sciences were wholeheartedly denying.
“When you’re 20 years old, it’s not that hard to let go of God because believing in God requires certain constraints.”
“[The 70s was] the time of free love. There was birth control … Everyone was looking for change.”
However, Iacoboni would soon find that his departure from faith in his early 20s would end up requiring a long and emotional road back to where it all began.
Coming Back to Faith by Treating Cancer Patients
“In the first decade of the 21st Century, somewhere around 2000 to 2010, I very slowly came around [and returned to faith].”
Iacoboni’s book “The Undying Soul,” published in 2010, told of his emotional journey back to faith as he treated cancer patients, documenting his very first patients while he was still a fellow, to when he became a practicing specializing oncologist.
Iacoboni practiced his fellowship in MD Anderson, which remains to this day, a world-renowned university-based teaching hospital, and one of the premier cancer research facilities in the world.
“I belonged at Anderson—philosophically, I mean. As a young, atheist intellectual, fresh out of med school and full of hubris, I chose oncology because I wanted to prove that science and logic could triumph over anything—even cancer,” Iacoboni wrote in his book.
However, he would soon realize, starting with the very first patient he treated at Anderson, that more often than not, modern science could not stop the cancer from leaching away his patients’ lives.
Even worse, Iacoboni soon realized that while treating patients was difficult, he also had to face another challenge he was ill-prepared to deal with. His patients wanted more than a physician, they wanted an emotional healer and guide; they wanted him to help them face their deaths.
“Being an atheist, of course, I had no answers.”
“[As the] atheist doctor dealing with patients who are largely agnostic, the dying is very hard on everybody,” Iacoboni said, “my patients who would not allow themselves to have faith were very, very tormented on their deathbed.”
This reality agonized Iacoboni. He knew something was missing and in the middle of his career began searching for answers to help his patients on the emotional journey.
Things started changing for him once he started practicing in a small rural town, a place where almost all of his patients belonged to a faith.
The first patient who led him on his journey back to faith was a man from Ukraine named Pavel. Pavel was a simple farmer. He tended the livestock and crops near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine. When the Chernobyl disaster happened in 1986, the radiation turned his tomatoes yellow, green beans red, and his wheat shriveled up.
Yet Pavel’s wife and the other women ground the grains into flour for bread and they ate the strangely colored vegetables. Pavel and his family had no choice. They either ate what they planted or they starved.
It was therefore not surprising that Pavel developed radiation-induced leukemia from the contaminated food he ate.
Pavel’s local hospital in Ukraine was unequipped to treat his cancer, but he had Russian relatives in Washington. After his relatives told Pavel’s story at their church, the church passed it to the state and their congressman, who was Tom Foley—at the time the Speaker of the House. Foley secured compassionate dispensation and a passport for Pavel and he was then flown into Washington for treatment.
Iacoboni was Pavel’s doctor, and though his family could provide no money for his treatment, knowing all of the sacrifices made to bring the man to his office, Iacoboni was determined to do all that he could to help Pavel.
However, Pavel was already in the advanced stages and would soon be on borrowed time. His first blood test showed that he was severely anemic with his red blood cell volume at 10 percent with the normal range 38-45 percent.
Yet, upon meeting the man, Iacoboni was taken aback by how happy the man was with no obvious sign of illness.
At their meeting in the hospital room, Pavel jumped out of bed and shook Iacoboni’s hand so hard that he could feel the calluses on his palm.
As Iacoboni recalled in his book:
“And then, slowly and ceremoniously, he bowed his head.
“I found myself taken aback by such formal deference. I assured him by word—and then, discovering he spoke almost no English at all, by body language—that no bows were necessary.
“Pavel smiled slightly, offering me an expression that spoke as clearly and plainly as possible: this isn’t about what’s formal or necessary, it’s about appreciation…
“And, in a word, grace.”
Iacoboni put Pavel on blood transfusions for the anemia and then started chemotherapy. Pavel achieved remission, but only for 9 months as the drugs slowly lost effectiveness.
Soon the leukemia took over and spread all over his body. Pavel’s spleen grew from the normal size of a potato to a watermelon.
Pavel was dying.
However, throughout the 9 months Iacoboni treated Pavel, he was amazed to find that not only was Pavel not anxious about death, he was anticipating death with eagerness and wonder.
Pavel was a Christian, like the many people in the town. Iacoboni has treated many Christians who, in their death, found no comfort in their faith. Pavel’s faith, however, served him very well.
“Unable to speak to me in words, he communicated through the light in his eyes, his easy smile, and his contented attitude. He interacted with everyone this way, not just me.”
On his own spiritual journey and while looking for answers, Iacoboni was drawn to Pavel’s grace and strength. Iacoboni knew his optimism and smiles were not a façade. Cancer strips away all kinds of veneers, and he has seen all sorts of patients.
Even as the damage from leukemia became obvious, Pavel remained gracious and did not complain of the pain he was in. While many patients may put up a brave front and act stronger and healthier in the clinic to have Iacoboni support them in their denial of death, Pavel did not.
“His optimism never felt forced in any way. When his dying body sagged, and his energy began to ebb, he didn’t fight it. He just let it happen,” he wrote in his book.
Eventually, the final days came for Pavel and Iacoboni had to hospitalize him. Even on his deathbed, Iacoboni was amazed to find that Pavel was smiling, comforting his friends and relatives.
It was hard for Iacoboni to communicate with Pavel, given their language barrier, so he stayed with Pavel through the final three or four hours by the bedside trying to understand this small simple man so full of grace and strength.
“During that vigil I observed for the very first time in my career the rare and overwhelming beauty of a spiritually contented death,” he wrote.
Contrary to all the patients Iacoboni had treated during the past 15 years, Pavel chose to die naturally without sedatives.
This allowed Iacoboni to stay emotionally connected to Pavel to the end. Pavel kept his eyes open, and Iacoboni watched him intently.
Then in the final minutes, Pavel’s gaze changed, it looked “unworldly”—a look of serenity and selflessness Iacoboni had never seen before.
At first, Iacoboni thought that Pavel was becoming comatose, but his pulse was going strong and breathing unlabored.
Then Pavel’s “unworldly” expression changed slightly, and just enough to startle Iacoboni with the conviction that he was being watched by another sentient entity.
“Someone other than Pavel the man—his ego or his persona. But who…or what…could it be?” Iacoboni asked in his book.
The truth seemed to be leaping out at him, yet it was difficult for him to accept it.
Iacobini stared and held his breath. He did not know how long it took him before he relaxed and finally admitted. He wrote:
“Yes my friend, I see…’it’…”
“…I see your soul.”
“In that moment of epiphany, of recognition and actualization…Pavel let go. His eyes closed, his breathing stopped and the room fell still.”
That night, Iacoboni learned with conviction an answer to the question that was haunting him after each death of his patients.
“Never again would I wonder if there was something more.”
Pavel was the first, important piece in Iacoboni’s journey back to faith.
Telos: How Science Proves the Existence of a Designer
In 2010 Iacoboni began working his book “TELOS: The Scientific Basis for a Life of Purpose.” The book was finally published in 2022.
He expected if he had spent all his time writing the book, “Telos” would have taken him 6 months, but as a practicing oncologist, it took him 10 years.
While Iacoboni returned to faith emotionally—as documented in “The Undying Soul”—he was also researching intellectually, trying to understand why what he was taught was in complete opposition to what he was experiencing.
He soon found that the science he had a firm belief in was flawed and missing key evidence for its theories, even though the theories were touted as fact.
Throughout the book, he follows the theories of life from various great philosophers and scientists including Aristotle, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and many more until the readers come to an understanding of the present day.
Pioneers of modern science, including Monod and Bertrand Russell, all argued that life was accidental and that humans were alone in the world with no higher entity.
“Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; his origin, his hopes, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental co-location of atoms,” wrote Russell.
Though these arguments made believers of their doctrine feel liberated, it also led them to the “unyielding despair” Russell faced, just as many of Iacoboni’s early patients experienced.
For, if their bodies and lives were accidental happenings, it eliminated their sense of purpose, the point of living.
“The infamous atheist Bertrand Russell said in a similar tone at a young age, ‘I considered suicide, which I would have done, but for the fact that I found mathematics to be so very interesting,’” Iacoboni wrote.
Contrary to what he was taught, Iacoboni observed nature and noticed life to be brimming with purpose and intention.
It was full of telos, meaning end or an ultimate purpose.
“The best example of this [purpose-driven life] in the world is the emperor penguins. They walk 60 miles on ice to get food and they fill up their stomachs and they walk 60 miles back and regurgitate the food for the chick,” said Iacoboni.
“Why do they do that? Why doesn’t this penguin say I’m not walking 60 miles to feed some stupid chick. I’m just gonna fill myself up and then I’m gonna relax, they don’t do that.”
Not only do emperor penguins endure this physical labor to breed their young, Iacoboni’s book also showed that they have an innate understanding of thermodynamics in incubation:
“Emperor penguins, which huddle together in an Antarctic blizzard, each one rotating in their turn from the center to the other rim of the circle and back again, sharing the cold and shielding each other in the most hostile environment on earth. Nobody trained the penguin to perform this complex maneuver or explained to them that by cooperating in this way, they would be better able to survive than if they just went it alone. The indwelling knowledge to act with such purpose was already inside them, inherent in their behavior.”
Their inherent drive to rear their young significantly surpasses their natural desire to survive. This understanding of their own physique, and how they should function came completely innate to them.
Iacoboni gave many examples of these innate drives in his book. He observed how newborn giraffes within 10 minutes of birth stand up on their feet and suckle from their mother, performing a task innate to themselves.
Where did this innate understanding come from?
Iacoboni argued that it was “designed” into the organism.
When we design something, we imbue it with a specific purpose and intention, and seeing that life is filled with a natural drive that surpasses survival alone, Iacoboni argued that there must be a higher designer, regardless of whether we can see this individual or not.
“If you walk down the beach … and you find a sandcastle and nobody is around. You would have to ask yourself the question, what is this thing doing here? Did the sand, the wind, and the water make this thing? Self organized with blind forces? Or did someone with a designing intellect put it together?” asked Iacoboni.
“Those are the only two possibilities right? And I don’t think there’s hardly anybody who’s not impaired, who would say ‘the sand and the wind built a sandcastle.’ They would say ‘no, some dad and his kids built a sandcastle, they played and they went home.’”
That is the same mindset Iacoboni established in the way he looks at life. Though we may not see the dad and the children building the sandcastle, we see the intellect and design in the temporary sandy construction, and in living beings, Iacoboni can see the design and intelligence too.
Sharks have a structure called the Ampullae of Lorizini that no other animals have. It is a unique network of mucus-filled pores across its front and sides that allow the shark to catch prey. Most sharks have a very poor sense of sight, and they cannot swim that fast either, so what it wants is to be able to catch a prey in distress. That’s what its ampullae does; it can detect turbulence at a distance.
One may, like Charles Darwin, argue that it arose out of evolution, meaning that sharks once did not have ampullae but then gained it through mutation (random change in the DNA).
That may sound great in theory, but reality often tells a different story.
“The problem is if you have random mutations you don’t go anywhere constructively. Everything is destructive,” said Iacoboni, “In medical fields, we know what mutations do, they kill you.”
In humans, mutations are the basis of genetically inherited diseases and cancer. Apart from creating drug-resistant bacteria and viruses, most mutations for animals and plants lead to disease.
Further, sharks have 16,000 billion pairs of DNA, so it is also a question of chance to not only have the mutations useful, but also that there must be combinations of mutations in the appropriate area, given that the other mutations elsewhere do not kill the shark first.
Even in the hypothetical scenario that the ampullae did come from mutations, it raises the question of survival for the shark without an ampullae, with poor eyesight and an average ability to swim. How would it have survived over many generations to gain the ampullae?
If the shark had good eyesight and could catch prey without the ampullae, then the sharks that are living now should be both keen in sight and with ampullae, having the sharks gradually lose their eyesight contradicts the theory of survival of the fittest where the one with the most beneficial traits survive and pass on their traits.
Therefore, Iacoboni argued that the other plausible reason is that it was all designed, with all the functions and purpose naturally fused into the final model of life.
“Organisms are about organization,” Iacoboni wrote. Even the very etymology of the word organism is rooted in order, and design.
A ‘Call to Arms’
TELOS is a “call to arms,” said Iacoboni. It is not simply an exercise, nor a read, but rather the recognition that a higher creator exists. Faithless individuals are doomed to the same misery and chaos experienced by Monod, Russell, and other atheist scientists cited in his book.
“I’m not interested in naming God, I’m not a theologian,” Iacoboni said.
“I only want you to believe in a supreme designer and understand that there’s a greater purpose that permeates life and that you need to get in touch with if you want to have a life worth living.”
But how can they call on him (Jesus Christ) to save them unless they believe in him (Jesus Christ)? And how can they believe in him (Jesus Christ) if they have never heard about him (Jesus Christ)? And how can they hear about him (Jesus Christ) unless someone tells them?” —Romans 10:14
In His Service,
Night Watchman Ministries
Make Your Decision for Christ NOW!!!!!!! Time is Up!!!!!!!
Jesus Christ’s Offer of Salvation:
The ABCs of Salvation through Jesus Christ (the Lamb)
A. Admit/Acknowledge/Accept that you are sinner. Ask God’s forgiveness and repent of your sins.
. . . “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).
. . . “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
B. Believe Jesus is Lord. Believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be; that He was both fully God and fully man and that we are saved through His death, burial, and resurrection. Put your trust in Him as your only hope of salvation. Become a son or daughter of God by receiving Christ.
. . . “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17). For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13).
C. Call upon His name, Confess with your heart and with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and Savior.
. . . “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10).
. . . “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (John 1:8-10).
. . . “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (John 2:2).
. . . “In this was manifested the love of god toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:9, 14-15).
. . . “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:8-10).
. . . “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).
. . . “Jesus saith unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).
. . . “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 1:16).
. . . “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts: 4:12).
. . . “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).
. . . “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
. . . “But as many as received him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12).
True Church / Bride of Christ Spared from God’s Wrath:
Romans 5:8-10. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
Romans 12:19. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Romans 8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Jeremiah 30:7. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Categories: Dreams and Visions
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