BIO. Peter Ruest

From: Peter Ruest (
Date: Mon Aug 05 2002 - 13:32:42 EDT

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    Name: Peter Ruest (as the second letter, my official last name has a
    German u-Umlaut, ASCII 129 decimal, also representable by "ue", which is
    what I inofficially use in non-German-speaking countries)
    Age: 68
    Nationality: Swiss
    Vocation: biochemistry

    Educational/professional: 6 years primary school, 6.5 years
    Realgymnasium (a boys-only high school/junior college with Latin, modern
    languages, mathematics, sciences) in Zuerich (Z¸rich), 1953 Matura B
    (graduation) as first among the students of the 4 parallel classes.
    I studied chemical engineering at the Eidgenoessische Technische
    Hochschule (ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zuerich, 1957
    Diploma Dipl.Ing.Chem.ETH (about an MS). Doctorate in biochemistry at
    the ETH, dissertation, under the supervision of C.Martius, on the
    function of vitamin A in the general cell metabolism, 1961 (PhD).
    Postdoctoral positions: 1961-63 with E.Chargaff at the Columbia
    University Medical Center in New York, searching for chemical means of
    deriving DNA sequence information via apyrimidinic acid and
    oligopurinenucleotide analysis; 1963-1964 with J.B.Hall at Hawaii
    University in Honolulu, similar topic; 1964-1967 with R.L.Sinsheimer at
    the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, on the replication
    of bacteriophage PhiX174.
    Return to Switzerland, 1967-1971 research associate at the Swiss
    Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne, working on the
    replication of polyoma virus in mouse kidney cell cultures.
    As Switzerland, still under the archaic German "Lehrstuhl" paradigm, had
    too few tenure-track positions, I took a job, in 1971, as head of the
    chemistry section of the Swiss Federal Dairy Research Institute in Bern.
    As I didn't like the virtually exclusively administrative work, I almost
    immediately started developing informatics tools for the statistical
    evaluation of the Institute's research results, an endeavour which soon
    grew into a full-time job. At the time of my retirement in 1999, my
    informatics group comprised 3 computer specialists and disposed of a
    network of 140 PCs and servers, using commercial and (in the beginning
    almost exclusively) home-made software.

    Faith: Christian since 1955. I grew up in the traditional
    "evangelical-reformed" church of the canton of Zuerich (a de facto state
    church started by Zwingli), under a completely liberal pastor ("Jesus
    was a son of God, just as all humans are"), participating in an
    absolutely minimal way. Through the Studentenbibelgruppen (Swiss
    equivalent of IVCF), I learned for the first time what Christianity is
    all about. At age 21, I consciously committed my life to Jesus, was
    filled with an unspeakable joy immediately, and the assurance of
    salvation has remained with me ever since, like a deep river which could
    not be stopped by any temptation, trouble, pain, disillusion or other
    difficulties. I praise the Lord for this unmerited grace and his abiding
    With this faith, I ran into the unmitigated opposition of my parents and
    pastor, but found much more positive responses among my sisters (two of
    whom became believers shortly afterwards) and other young people. Much
    later, I found out that my godmother, a cousin of my mother's, was a
    believer and seems to have been praying for me all along.
    In the US, I was brought into contact with loving Christians through
    IVCF. In a New Jersey Brethren Assembly, I was baptized (as my wife was
    later). I had been "baptized" as an infant, but didn't count as biblical
    such infant baptism, which I consider as one of the main sources for the
    deadly state-churchism and theological liberalism I had been confronted
    with. My wife and I had wonderful Christian fellowship, teaching and
    education in various evangelical denominations, such as Brethren,
    Mennonite, Presbyterian, and various independent ones. In a Honolulu
    assembly, I was introduced into preaching. At present, we fellowship at
    the local evangelical Methodist church, where I am regularly given
    teaching/preaching assignments (although, for theological reasons, we
    have not become members of the Methodist denomination). For the last 30
    years, we have had a regular home circle for Bible study, currently with
    three other couples.
    In order to better interpret the Bible, I learned NT Greek (and
    regularly read the Greek NT) and started working with a Hebrew
    concordance and Hebrew/English interlinear.

    Family: 1957 engagement and 1959 marriage to Brigitte Kuhn, an
    elementary school teacher, who has become an incomparable teacher to me
    in many domains, wherever my primarily intellectual orientation proves
    inadequate for life. Two adopted children, Lukas (born 1968) and Irene
    (born 1970), both obtained at a few months of age. Both are still

    Interests/activities outside my official profession: I would rather call
    my first "hobby" an "unpaid vocation". It is the research into the
    relationship between faith and science, in particular in the domains of
    origin of life and evolution. After becoming a Christian, I took it for
    granted that evolution (as little as I knew about it then) is the way
    God did his creating. Then, 40 years ago, Christian friends in New York
    challenged me with the claim that there is no proof for evolution (they
    didn't discuss the age of the Earth). Studying evolutionary literature
    only (mainly primary sources) - nothing anti-evolutionary -, but under
    the assumption that God is free to create however he chooses to, I came
    to the conclusion that my friends were right, as far as spontaneous
    origins of life and of novel complex functionalities were concerned
    (today called irreducible complexity). Later, with my newly-discovered
    readiness to consciously distinguish facts from interpretation, I
    started delving into the biblical creation texts and found nothing that
    would contradict the concept of God using evolution as a means of
    creating. So, I was in the rather unusual situation of judging evolution
    implausible for scientific reasons, but plausible for
    theological/biblical ones. In fact, it was only very recently, with the
    sequencing of the human genome, that I encountered evidence which
    unambiguously speaks for a common ancestry of humans with animals on the
    biological level (functionless features of pseudogenes and other mobile
    elements). When, in 1979, Hansruedi Brugger, another Swiss ASA member
    (deceased 2001), and I encountered the YEC movement, we immediately
    started cooperating in fighting it, using conferences, lectures,
    publications, discussions, but, alas, to no visible avail, as far as we
    could tell.
    Other "hobbies" include: political writing in defense of religious
    freedom and rights against encroachment by the big churches privileged
    by the state in European countries (particularly the Roman-Catholic
    Church); hiking in guided groups in various European countries, together
    with my wife; rock-climbing (without my wife); and plenty of reading
    (molecular biology - primary sources, cosmology, theology,
    philosophy...), accumulating thousands of references in my own database

    ASA and science/faith issues: On our first vacation trip in the US,
    driving through the New England states in 1962, my wife and I "happened"
    to meet Bob Herrmann, who introduced me to the ASA. In 1993 (exactly on
    my birthday), I was elected a Fellow of the ASA. Bob also arranged for
    my giving a lecture on "The unbelievable belief that almost any DNA
    sequence will specify life" at the Conference on "Sources of Information
    Content in DNA" in Tacoma, WA, in 1988. At the 1990 and 1997 ASA annual
    meetings, I gave presentations, and I published in PSCF "How has life
    and its diversity been produced" in 1992, "Genesis reconsidered"
    (together with Armin Held) in 1999, and "Creative providence in biology"
    in 2001, as well as a few shorter replies. Outside of the ASA, I
    published various science/faith papers, mainly in German, and gave
    lectures in various contexts. As a farewell address to my collegues at
    the Federal Institute of Dairy Research in 1999, I was allowed to
    present a lecture on "The Cosmos - Tuned for Humanity?" - discussing the
    Anthropic Principle in cosmology, geology, and biology - which issued in
    a lively science/faith discussion. Since my retirement, the ASA e-mail
    discussion group has proved eminently interesting and stimulating for


    Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    <> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)

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