From Atheist to Bible-believing Scientist

Professor František (Frank) Vyskočil

by Dr. Jerry Bergman on December 21, 2011
Featured in Answers in Depth


Once an atheist, God opened his eyes through his scientific research so that he now firmly believes in intelligent design and a Creator God.


Professor František (Frank) Vyskočil of Charles University in Prague is internationally known for his path-breaking neurophysiology research. Once an atheist, God opened his eyes through his scientific research so that he now firmly believes in intelligent design and a Creator God. His atheist father, a police officer, often mocked the clergy, but Vyskočil admired his father’s logic and his many stories about how he collected evidence that eventually solved a crime. His mother was a farm girl and one of her personal principal traits—besides family love—was an enormous curiosity. Vyskočil feels the combination of his mother’s curiosity and his father’s logic influenced him to become a scientist.

His Education

František graduated with honors from college with degrees in biology and chemistry and did his postdoctoral at the institute of biomedical research at Prague. His postdoctoral work involved research on the chemical and electrical properties of nerve synapses, neurons, membrane pumps, drug desensitization, and several other areas of biology. His first scientific paper, based on his biochemical experiments on frog muscle respiration, was published in Nature, the most respected international journal of science in the world (Novotný and Vyskočil 1961) and he has since published several other articles in Nature (Vyskočil 1980). Vyskočil has now published over 450 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including 165 in international scientific journals.

Some of his publications are now regarded as seminal articles in his field. Vyskočil’s papers on ion-sensitive electrodes and nonquantal neurotransmission have been cited in the scientific literature more than 3,000 times with an average citation rate of 110 per year.

Furthermore, his articles have been quoted more than 3,600 times, and his findings were further developed by other researchers. One of his articles was even selected as a Citation Classic by the Institute of Scientific Information in Philadelphia, USA. For his scientific achievements Vyskočil was elected as a member of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic, a community of elite scientists chosen by their peers. After the fall of communism in 1989 he was appointed a professor at Charles University and was finally allowed to travel to the West to work with colleagues, including several Nobel laureates.

A Professor thinks about God

During his school years, he harbored few doubts about evolutionary theory as a logical explanation of life’s origin and development. At that time, he believed that the universe and all life could be explained by natural laws acting on matter. He was outraged by atrocities committed in the name of religion and considered God to be a human invention and religious activities to be wish-fulfillment with only cultural and historical value. When he was an evolutionist Dr. Vyskočil occasionally wondered why many highly educated people, including Dr. Karel Wenig, Head of Charles University Department of Physiology, believed in God—albeit quietly due to the repression by the Communist regime. Vyskočil’s doubts about evolution began during the time that he was studying neuron synapses:

I was deeply impressed by the amazing complexity of these supposedly simple connections between nerve cells. ‘How,’ I wondered, ‘could synapses and the genetic programs underlying them be products of mere blind chance?’ It really made no sense (Vyskočil 2011).

His doubts about the evolutionary scenario were further strengthened in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) where, in the early 1970s, he listened to a lecture by the famous Russian scientist, Professor Yefim Liberman. Liberman concluded that mutations and selection cannot account for the evolution of new species. One idea discussed at the lecture was the theory that so-called retrovirus RNA occasionally invaded a cell’s DNA transcript, altering the cell genome and furthering evolution. After the talk someone from the Institute of Evolutionary Physiology and Biochemistry asked “then where did these viruses come from?” Professor Liberman took out a Bible and said, “Read the Bible, the creation story in Genesis in particular.” Later, in the Institute lobby, Dr. Vyskočil asked him how serious he was about creationism. He answered

Simple bacteria can divide each 20 minutes and have some 2000 different proteins each containing 20 types of amino acids arranged in chains of say 200 amino acids. To be evolved via beneficial variants by single nucleotide mutations it should take, not 3 x 109 years (the expected time life existed on Earth) but some 1050 years. There is simply not enough time (Vyskočil 2011).

Scientists now know that unrepaired single nucleotide mutations (STMs) are far too rare to serve as a major mechanism for evolution and most are deleterious or near neutral anyway. Dr. Liberman added that DNA is often composed of repetitious sequences in the form of short tandem repeats that mutate a million to 10 million times faster than STMs. Even in this case, most mutations could not play a significant role in evolution because they are chaotic and dangerous, and usually effectively eliminated by the DNA bodyguards—self-repairing mechanisms. The cell’s many proofreading systems catch most all errors, even double stranded DNA breaks. Otherwise, we would probably soon be extinct or, at the very least, would be surrounded by monsters due to the unpredictable nature of such genetic damage.

Liberman concluded that the Bible’s explanation in Genesis made much more sense. This professor’s comments caused Vyskočil to discuss the subject with several colleagues and friends. Vyskočil eventually concluded that “the Bible, though not a science book, actually harmonized with true science.”

His Scientific Work

One of Vyskočil’s discoveries, made in parallel and independently of Nobel Prize winner B. Katz in 1977, concerned neurotransmitter releases at the neurosynapse. The chemicals stored in the tiny vesicles inside the nerve ending are released like bubbles sparkling from a soda’s surface. Instantaneous multiple release of neurotransmitters during the nerve impulse can activate the next nerve or muscle cell, thus transmitting a signal forward. His research found that, besides this fast release, slow leakage occurs that regulates the development of synapses. After birth the slow release acts like a local hormone to keep mature synapses fit for their nerve transmission functions.

From studying the synapse, Vyskočil was impressed by the complexity of this supposedly simple connection between two nerve cells. He learned the tiny pair of adjacent pre- and postsynaptic membranes are not like two water bags with holes for quanta and leaky patches for non-quantal release as previously assumed. Tremendous complexity and orchestration of sets of activity exist, starting from the synthesis of a transmitter like acetylcholine, which is pumped into the vesicles. Also involved is vesicle priming and docking, electrical opening of calcium channels by nerve spikes, fusion of the vesicle and nerve membranes, ejection of the transmitter, and the transmitter binding to a receptor, causing ionic channel opening and new spike induction.

Despite a century of research on the morphology and function of the synapse, a complete list of all synapse proteins still does not exist. The number of proteins needed to form the synapse structure and function so far exceeds 1,000, which was far more than anyone expected (Grant 2006). Even if so-called co-evolution caused by mutations and selection of thousands of variants caused by these mutations could occur as evolutionists claim, Vyskočil concluded it was inconceivable that the synapse system could have appeared during the 3x109 years of the supposed evolution of the genome.

Science Changes His Life

Vyskočil realized that if he searched for an alternative to his generally unsatisfactory materialistic view of universe and life, he needed to obtain more information about the alternatives. He found there was only one possibility—a supernatural Creator—and realized we cannot measure the supernatural by available scientific instruments. He added

I quickly discarded polytheism, animism, Buddhism, Hinduism and different kinds of spiritualism. In addition I was not ready to accept Allah on the basis of my reading the Quran that appeared in Czech in early 70’s. And what about the Lord of Christendom or the Jewish Adonai? I discussed with several colleagues and friends their faith and religion. One of them was a Roman Catholic physical chemist and another one was a member of local Brethren Church and still another was the son of a Czechoslovak Church bishop (Vyskočil 2011).

He concluded that their faith was based on family or local tradition with little knowledge of the faith source, the Bible. Conversely

quite exceptional was my discussion with a young talented pharmacologist, the son of the former Minister of Education who was known in Academy as a “boy with a Bible.” He guided me and my wife patiently though basic biblical teachings for three years, showed us . . . a method to find unbiblical principles and personally how to “fit best” with God’s demands [1 John 5:3]. We were surprised by . . . the fact that the Bible does not . . . contradict any of the main discoveries made by the natural sciences (Vyskočil 2011).

When asked “Has your change of view hindered your scientific research?” he answered:

Not at all. Every good scientist, regardless of his beliefs, must be as objective as possible. But my faith has changed me. For one thing, instead of being overly self-confident, highly competitive, and unduly proud of my scientific skills, I am now grateful to God for any abilities I may have. Also, instead of unfairly attributing the amazing designs manifest in creation to blind chance, I and not a few other scientists ask ourselves, ‘How did God design this?’ I am grateful for the opportunity to take a very small look inside these tiny miraculous creations, living cells and organs. Instead of exalting an anonymous mother nature I understand the universe, life and mankind as the product of the creative activity of God. Of course, I am aware that He has used and is still using the laws of physics and chemistry . . . and these laws we can study and understand to great extent (Vyskočil 2011).

When asked “How he views the evident similarity among physiological and biochemical systems in such different animals as worms and humans?” he answered from fossils

it is claimed particular species of plants and animals lived for [evolutionists claim] maybe millions of years without any evolutionary changes. This is called punctuated or “frozen” evolution. These species were often extinct and substituted by more or less different species. It is a fact, that some biochemical, cellular and evident morphological similarities can be traced throughout paleontological periods and also nowadays there are identical genes operating in worms, mice and man. This enables laboratory and preclinical tests of many useful medical drugs on laboratory animals or, more humane tests on tissue cultures where cell populations live comfortably in Petri dishes (Vyskočil 2011).

He added that evolutionists incorrectly believe that similarity and progressive complexity of hundreds of biochemical, physiological and morphological systems are proof of evolution. Evolution is driven—according to neo-Darwinism—by variability, gene mutations and natural selection of the most capable offspring, and evolutionists

try to persuade themselves and the public that every gene and resulting protein, every enzyme and metabolic cascade appeared without any “pre-written” program. That they were refined into relative perfection just by the interaction of a variable population with its changed environment and in competition with organisms that are either food or predators for them (Vyskočil 2011).

He added that it is true that many basic life processes “are almost identical in simple ‘low’ and complex ‘high’ multi-cellular organisms. These include photosynthesis in all green plants (in unicellular algae) or oxygen transport and consumption in almost all animals and plants.” This fact does not document evolution but rather the

existence of such general processes and similarities are actually proof of an Intelligent Designer. Engineers can use successful and well-tried details in their new models whereas unneeded parts are either discarded, or they are left in the new model for further application. We have many genes in our cell nuclei that never form any proteins in our bodies. . . . Engineers also realize that sometimes it is more efficient to construct similar, but not identical, parts in parallel in different models (Vyskočil 2011).

An example is the rotator proton pump in the mitochondrial membrane that is used by the Creator in the flagella in microorganisms to allow them to move around, just as the four round wheels of an antique Ford Model T are still used in Formula One racing cars. Similarity, in apes and humans and living systems across groups of animals (e.g., hemoglobin in worms and mammals) and plants is proof that the Creator used similar principles. Every living system requires energy, depends on the photosynthetic synthesis of sugar, and uses this accumulated energy for building and maintaining their bodies in similar ways. Therefore, it is clear why “one mind designing a universe would almost surely have employed one set of basic principles to govern related phenomena” (Kline 1982, p. 52).


Kline, Morris. 1982. Mathematics: the Loss of Certainty. New York: Oxford University Press.

Vyskočil, František. 2011. E-Mails to author.

Grant, S. G. 2006. The synapse proteome and phosphoproteome: a new paradigm for synapse biology Biochemical Society Transactions 34(Pt 1):59–63.

Select Publications of Professor František Vyskočil:

Beránek, R. and F. Vyskočil. 1967. The action of tubocurarine and atropine on the normal and denervated rat diaphragm. Journal of Physiology 188 no. 1:53–66.

Bukharaeva, E. A., D. Samigullin, E. Nikolsky and F. Vyskočil. 2002. Protein kinase A cascade regulates quantal release dispersion at frog muscle endplate. Journal of Physiology 538:837–848.

Giniatullin, R. A., M. Talantova and F. Vyskočil. 1997. Desensitization shortens the highquantal-content endplate current time course in frog muscle with intact cholinesterase. Journal of Physiology 502 (Pt 3):641–648.

Magazanik, L. G. and F. Vyskočil. 1970. Dependence of acetylcholine desensitization on the membrane potential of frog muscle fibre and on the ionic changes in the medium. Journal of Physiology 210 no. 3:507–518.

Nikolsky, E. E., F. Vyskočil, E. A. Bukharaeva, D. Samigullin and L. G. Magazanik. 2004. Cholinergic regulation of the evoked quantal release at frog neuromuscular junction. Journal of Physiology 560 (Pt 1):77–88.

Novotný, I. and F. Vyskočil. 1961. Inhibition by physostigmine of the increase of oxygen consumption induced by potassium in muscle. Nature 191:916–917.

Vizi, E. S. and F. Vyskočil. 1979. Changes in total and quantal release of acetylcholine in the mouse diaphragm during activation and inhibition of membrane ATPase. Journal of Physiology 286:1–14.

Vyskočil F., N. Kriz and J. Bures. 1972. Potassium-selective microelectrodes used for measuring the extracellular brain potassium during spreading depression and anoxic depolarization in rats. Brain Research 39 no. 1:255–259.

Vyskočil, F. and P. Illés. 1977. Non-quantal release of transmitter at mouse neuromuscular junction and its dependence on the activity of Na+-K+ ATP-ase. PflugersArch 370 no.3:295–297.

Vyskočil, F., J. Teisinger and H. Dlouha. 1980. A specific enzyme is not necessary for vanadate-induced oxidation of NADH. Nature 286 no. 5772:516–517.

Vyskočil, F. 2003. Early postdenervation depolarization is controlled by acetylcholine and glutamate via nitric oxide regulation of the chloride transporter. Neurochemical Research 28 no. 3–4:575–585.

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