Sixty-eight years ago yesterday Paul Takashi Nagai, scientist, professor, convert, and poet, left this world.
Born in 1908 and raised in rural Japan in traditional Confucian and Shinto religion, Takashi imbibed the materialist assumptions of his professors while studying to be a physician. “I was so sure that there was no such thing as a soul,” he wrote. But when his mother died, “my mother’s eyes told me that the human spirit lives after death. I could not but believe this. All this was by way of an intuition, an intuition carrying conviction.”
A Living Presence
He started medical school in Nagasaki in 1928. He found Christ through the Moriyamas, a family of Japan’s “Hidden Christians,” Catholics who had maintained the faith for two and a half centuries of persecution and isolation from the rest of the world. He had been struggling with Christianity, intrigued by the cathedral bells rung at noon to call people to prayer and having read the great Christian mathematician Blaise Pascal’s Pensees. In the scientific spirit, he tried the experiment of living like a Christian.
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