Molecular Virologist Dr Yingguang Liu

Molecular Virology

From Atheism to Christ

Interview by Dr Robert Carter

Dr Yingguang Liu is an associate professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA. Born in China, he graduated from medical school there and then earned a Master’s degree in microbiology. After practising medicine as an infectious disease specialist for several years, he came to the United States for further education and obtained a Ph.D. in molecular virology. For the last 13 years, he has taught at Christian colleges, first at Maranatha Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin, and now Liberty University.

Yingguang Liu was born in rural northern China during the politically stormy years of the 1960s. He was taught atheistic philosophy from an early age, then worked hard to pass the highly competitive national college entrance exam in 1984. After graduating from a premier medical school, he went on to earn a Master’s degree in microbiology in 1993. Motivated by a desire to do ‘tangible work’ he left research to work as a physician in his home province, specializing in infectious diseases.

Atheism from day one

Since he and I grew up at about the same time but under very different circumstances, I was intrigued by his story. I asked Dr Liu what it was like to grow up in a rural Chinese village at that time, and he described a life of poverty where nobody took care of the community goods, theft was rampant, begging was common, and most children were malnourished. Despite living in these conditions, he did not question the basic philosophy of life he was being taught. The school system, the media, and the government all united in authoritatively preaching atheism as the only rational, scientific view of the world.

Dr Liu has happy memories of his grandfather, who was a school teacher and a devoted Confucianist. Despite being supportive of the Chinese government, “during the ‘Cultural Revolution’, he was labelled an enemy of the people. He was forced to walk from village to village to confess his ‘sins’ to the farmers he met, and accept the harsh ridicule that came from the darkest corner of sinful men. But when he returned home at dusk, I always joyfully ran to his arms, which was the only comfort to his wounded heart.”

No thought of God

The idea that there might be a God never entered Yingguang’s mind while growing up and the only philosophical beliefs he knew anyone held were those of atheism. “Confucianism was mentioned in textbooks only to show how wrong it was. Yet, atheism gives very little guidance for morality. A local official took the last few silver dollars on my grandma’s table, and did much evil to my family, and my grandma cursed him.”

Yet, despite this harshness of life, surprising acts of kindness also occasionally occurred.

“When I was six years old, I slipped into a pond of water while playing by the edge. I could not crawl out because the mud was slippery. Water got into my mouth, and it got harder and harder to keep my head above water. The same official who had stolen my grandma’s money was walking by with a bag of flour on his back. He heard my desperate cry, put down his bag, walked to the pond, and reached both of his hands to pull me out of the water. Grandma learned of it, and thereafter never failed to mention who saved her one and only grandson. Yes, atheism has turned people into offspring of the devil, but there still remained something good in this man’s heart.” …

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image credit: medicine.yale.edu/virology