Hindu-background scientist found God’s love


By Dr. Robert Selvendran —

Dr. Robert Selvendran
Dr. Robert Selvendran

Raised in Sri Lanka, the distinguished scientist Dr. Robert Selvendran became a Cambridge Fellow and noted researcher.  He was a nominal Christian and somewhat indifferent to the Christian faith in his early years, but had a powerful encounter with Jesus that changed the course of his life. — editor

The event that precipitated this radical change was the persistent challenge over a period of one month, from a close Hindu friend of mine, that I should renounce Christianity and become a Hindu like my forefathers.  I shall not elaborate, but his arguments were disparaging and provocative.  Such provocation stung me and led me to re-examine the basis of my Christian faith.

Sri Lanka tea plantation

I began a careful study of the Bible, primarily focusing on the New Testament, with particular reference to the birth, life, teachings and works, the death, resurrection and ascension of the risen Lord Jesus, and the events associated with and following the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  I then considered the implications of these happening for my own life.

This research led me to seek the ‘historical’ Jesus, who, after my sincere seeking, genuine repentance for my failings and former indifference to him, and my heartfelt prayers, began to disclose himself and become more real and immediate to me.

The net result was that my perception and apprehension of God and of the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, underwent a radical change.  Thereafter I became very conscious of the love of God, and the ‘scales’, as it were, dropped from my eyes.

I knew for certain that God loved me in Jesus Christ and had made me a child of his affection.  Bearing witness to this truth became a passion for me from that time onwards.  Nothing else in the world seemed to matter except serving him.

To this day, nearly 50 years after I asked Christ to come into my life, I have not found anything remotely comparable to the joy of knowing God through Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord.  However, it took me several years to work out meaningfully the implications of the love of God, and how best I could respond to his love, in order to serve him faithfully and effectively.

Reflecting on that phase of my life, I think that it is not unlike the thrill and exhilaration of making new scientific discoveries, but at a more profound level.  The first major discoveries I made were with tea plants, using a novel method I had developed.  And those tea plants seemed altogether different to me, after I had come to appreciate some of their hidden secrets.

In the same manner, the Bible now seemed to pulsate with new truth and life, and appeared to have an organic, living quality for me.  And its central figure, Jesus Christ, seemed to breathe new life into me.  Over the years, I have increasingly come to appreciate the fact that Jesus Christ is indeed ‘the Light (Truth) of Life’.

In conclusion, I would like to say that I have engaged in plant biochemical and physiological research, and aspects of food and nutrition research, for over 30 years.  Throughout, I have been keen to share the excitement I find in science, which increases my awareness of the physical world around us.

For a much longer period, I have been a practicing Christian, and I also want to share the joy and certainty of my life in Jesus Christ, which increases my awareness of God’s purposes for humanity and the world at large.

Sharing these experiences (‘verified truths’) has led to thought-provoking discussions with fellow scientists and people from different walks of life in many parts of the world.

As a consequence, I have reflected long and hard on scientific and Christian views of the world, and I have not found these to be mutually exclusive but, in fact, complementary.  Together, both types of truth give a fuller and more meaningful picture of life, of the world, and indeed of the universe.

More importantly for me, they enhance the meaning of eternal life in God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, whom to know is life indeed.

This essay is the second part of an article entitled ‘The Springboard for My Life in Science and The Christian Faith’, that Dr Robert Selvendran was invited to write in 2008, for the 185th Anniversary Souvenir of his former school, The Jaffna College, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Used with permission from http://www.networknorfolk.co.uk/

Dr Robert R Selvendran was born and educated in Sri Lanka. After graduating from the University of Ceylon with honors in Special Chemistry in 1961, he continued his studies in England, receiving his PhD from the Department of Biochemistry, and ScD from the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, in 1968 and 2003 respectively.

 He has conducted extensive research on tea and tea plants (Camellia sinensis L.), and on the cell walls of edible plant organs in relation to dietary fiber and human health. He was Broodbank Fellow of Cambridge University for 1967 and 1968, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and in December 1994 was awarded its Senior Medal for Food Chemistry in recognition of his work on plant food materials. He has published well over 100 research papers and several detailed research reviews.

 Dr Selvendran has also travelled worldwide, to give lectures on his scientific research, and, more recently, on ‘Science and Christian Theology’. In December 1995, he took early retirement from research to devote more time for his Christian work. He contends that science is essentially a religious activity, which plays its own special role in unfolding the nature and purpose of God.

His essay on the unique divinity of Jesus Christ may be found here

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here


  1. I read with great interest Dr Robert Selvendran’s article on Network Norwich and Norfolk: Opinions, and the associated comments/queries. I hope that RS will respond to the first four comments/queries posted on the NNN:opinion website, as his response will be helpful to many Christians living in the UK and abroad.
    The associated paper on Theistic.net website : http://www.theistic.net/religion/selvendran/Divinity-of-JesusChrist.htm or pdf, is more than inspiring and challenging,and seems to answer some of the queries posted on the NNN :opinions website. I found both articles really helpful and inspiring, and hope that others, particularly Christians, will find them helpful too. Charles

  2. Dear Mark Ellis, Robert Selvendran has posted another article, last week, on ‘Network Norwich and Norfolk :Opinion’, which may be of interest to you (and your readers). This article is about ‘The nature of scientific truth, and patterns in nature, in a Christian context’. There is no need to post this comment on your website. Thanks, Murugan.

Comments are closed.