Graeme Clarke (1935 – ) bionic ear pioneer
Perhaps no one more than Australia’s bionic ear pioneer Graeme Clark exemplifies the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Clark is one of Australia’s most-awarded scientists, receiving numerous international science prizes for fulfilling his vision of allowing deaf children to hear. When he started his work decades ago they said that whoever succeeded in the task would surely win the Nobel Prize. Although it’s still a possibility, Clark says, doing work to win prizes is not what he set out to do.
“My aim was to help people and do God’s will … But thanks to God to have given me some talents … the prize for me is seeing the children, who would not have been able to communicate and speak, communicating with their parents and friends. It brings tears to my eyes.
I visited Graeme and Margaret Clark in their family home on the outskirts of Melbourne and I heard not only a story of scientific vision and perseverance, but also the story of a prayerful couple serving their God.
For Clark, science and Christianity share this in common: they are both exercises in faith because they both involve a resolute “conviction of things not yet seen” and a confidence of arriving at the goal. It might be the Christian hope of glory and the day when God will “make all things new”, or it might be the confidence that one day children born deaf would be able to hear. And either way, it is a case of perseverance: “Everyone said it wouldn’t work and I was foolish,” Clark says. “It was only some years afterwards when [it] finally was successful … that I became accepted as a scientist.”
Clark describes this decades-long perseverance, in his science and in his faith, as a journey and a calling: “It has been a deep calling … I have learned to be faithful in prayer and in my scientific work, and I’ve experienced in my journey that the two are interrelated … the spiritual side for me has been fundamental.”
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