Ron Choong PhD

My Story

  

I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a third generation Chinese Christian. 

At Sunday school, I learned that God is the creator of everything. This became my bedrock and lens through which I saw the world. It was a small step from creation to understanding nature through the discoveries of the natural sciences.


Nuclear physics and astronomy fascinated me. I read about particle physics by Enrico Fermi and the scale of the universe by Sir James Jeans. Both the very small and the very large seemed unreal to my mind and yet, there they are – all created by God. My subsequent interest in biology and chemistry led me to reflect on the origin of life from inorganic matter - the factor that made inanimate molecules come alive. 


Education & Ministry

Following high school at the Jesuit La Salle PJ, I read the natural sciences, law and the humanities in London and began to practice international law. In 1984, the Rev Dr John Stott of All Souls Langham Place  invited me to consider a ‘ministry of the mind’, a special mission to  engage international scholars studying in the West. 


In 1990, I came to New York and served as the City Director of International Students, Inc. Three years later, All Souls Langham Place commissioned me as their Special Envoy to the USA. “Uncle John” became my first financial supporter.    I knew I needed to understand the Bible in their original languages of Hebrew and Greek, so in 1996, off to seminary I went, juggling ministry in New York and theological studies at Princeton. I ended up studying history, world religions, as well as the philosophies of theology and science. 

From 1984 to 2009, I earned the BA, LLB Hons. (London), STM (Yale), MDiv, ThM, & PhD (Princeton) degrees. My  interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation in science and theology, Neuroscience, Nolition and Kenotic Moral Cognition, was awarded magna cum laude. 

My current research interests include the emergence of intelligent cognition and the implications of consciousness and memory for the moral demands of the imago Dei


Apologetic Challenges

John Stott suggested two important challenges for the 21st century apologist: (1) The advances of modern science, and (2) The persistence of Non-Christian religions. 


This inspired me to make such investigations the hallmark of my ministry. 

In 2003, I founded the Academy for Christian Thought to conduct interdisciplinary research and teach the history and theology of Christian beliefs in the contexts of science and other religions. 


To this end I selected paleoanthropology (human origins) and cognitive neuroscience (brain/mind function) as the test cases for a new doctrine of creation in my doctoral work. 


This involves a study of dementia, autism and compromises to brain function for the execution of moral judgments and volitional beliefs.


Research projects: 

1) Tracing the evolution of religious doctrines of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam along the Silk Road between Venice and X’ian via Central Asia 

2) Exploring the implications of cognitive neuroscience and human origins for the Christian doctrine of creation.   

Writing projects: 

A Biblical Guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Vol. 2, The Egyptian Gallery 

A Christian Guide to the American Museum of Natural History

Origin of the Bible 

Homo Spiritualis – the Mind of the Imago Dei 

 

Archaeological field expeditions: 

An archaeological survey of Indonesia to trace the discoveries of Homo erectus (Java Man and Solo Man) and Homo floresiensis (The Hobbits) as well as the latest insights into the Orangutans of Borneo, considered the closest living primates to humans.

A sociological and historical trace of inter-religious doctrines along the Silk Road in China, Pakistan, India, Iran, eastern Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, 

A historical and philosophical study of Buddhism during the medieval periods of the Khmer kingdoms of modern Myanmar and Kampuchea with specific focus on Bagan, Mandalay and Angkor.   


The Silk Road:

The Silk Road form a network of trade routes between Europe and Asia that date back to Roman times. The 13th century journeys of Venetian/Croatian Marco Polo took 24 years and those of the 14th century Moroccan pilgrim/explorer Ibn Battuta lasted 29 years (75,000 miles). A third explorer was the 15th century Chinese Muslim eunuch of Persian-Mongolian heritage, Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho or Ma He) of the Ming Dynasty.    

But hundreds of years before any of them were born, Soleiman Siraf of Persia (modern Iran), pioneered the Maritime Silk Road in the year 775. He navigated a sea route from Siraf in Persia to China via the Indian Ocean, the Malabar Coast, Malacca and Siam, the first westerner who found his way to China by sea and became the inspiration for Sinbad the Sailor. 

8th century: Soleiman the Merchant (Persia)
13th century: Marco Polo (Venice/Croatia)
14th century: Ibn Battuta (Tangiers, Morocco)
15th century: Zheng He (Yunnan, China) & Vasco da Gama (Portugal)
16th century: Sebastian Elcano (Basque) who succeeded Ferdinand Magellan and Francis Drake (England)

17th century: James Cook (England) 

Along with goods, traders also shared stories and accounts of what they saw, believed and expected. The most important ideas that traversed the deserts and kingdoms were the religious convictions of the people.  


The birth of religions from spiritual consciousness evolved in tandem with the development of economic trade and social prestige as intermarriage of communities also meant the syncretization of religions.  New ones were invented as old ones were revised or discarded altogether. 


The concept of God, so endemic to the human brain function, was beyond the cognitive capacity of humans to capture in word and art. So succeeding generations re-described their gods as best they knew how using the geohistorically-contextualized vocabulary and sciences of their day. Indeed, from our experience with Christian scholarship and liturgical aids from the past, all our current biblical commentaries and even Bible translations will undergo revisions in the future, as we learn more about the God we worship. 

Academic Papers

"Reflections on the Geohistory of Faith along the Silk Road: Human Origins, Genetics and the Illusion of Otherness" by Ron Choong, LLB, STM, PhD


Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion 2017

Board of Directors & Trustees

ACT-US Board of Directors

The Rev. Dr. Tony Lin, PhD (Chairman)  

The Rev. Dr. Ron Choong, PhD (Ex-Officio) 

Ms. Lingmei Lin (Secretary & Treasurer)  

Mr. Gene Yuan  

Mr Paul Veerman (Development)      

ACT-UK Board of Trustees

Col. Richard Bird, OBE, London (Chairman)  

Miss Susan Gould 

Surrey (Treasurer & Secretary)  

Mr. Chad Lion-Cachet, Oxford  

Mr. Philip Long, South London  

Mrs. Ruth Guthrie, North London   

Board of Academic Advisers

United States  

Dr. Andre Ong, PhD (Claremont), Senior Pastor, San Diego International Church, CA.      


Europe  

Professor Niels Henrik Gregersen, PhD (Copenhagen), Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Copenhagen University, DENMARK.  

Prof. Krister Sairsingh, PhD (Harvard), Lecturer in the Intellectual  History, The State University Higher School of Economics, Moscow,  RUSSIA.  

Dr. Jean-Christophe Bieselaar, PhD, King’s College, London. Paris, FRANCE.      


Asia  

Professor Peng Hwa Ang, PhD (Michigan State), Wee Kim Wee School of  Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University,  SINGAPORE.  

Dr Kar Yong Lim, PhD (Wales), New Testament, MALAYSIA.  

Professor Jacob Cherian, PhD (Princeton Seminary), Vice President, Southern Asia Bible College, Bangalore, INDIA.      


Associates & Fellows

  • Mr Michael Lee, Communications & Photographer, ACT-USA
  • Mr Danny Lee, Research Associate, ACT-USA
  • Mr. Howard Rim, Communications, ACT-USA
  • Ms. Patricia Tudosa, Communications, ACT-USA
  • Ms. Sue Gould, Administrator, ACT-UK
  • Rev. Alexa Ho, Director, ACT-Asia

Interns

Princeton Theological Seminary  

  • Ms Pui See Wong (2015 – 16), MDiv 2016
  • Mr John Allison (2016 – 17)
  • Ms Sarah Gibson (Summer 2017)
  • Mr Ross English (2017 – 2018)
  • Mr Juan Carlos Limon (Summer 2018)
  • Ms Hephzibah Penumaka (Summer 2018)