The First Nagging Doubts

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon from Desert...

Image via Wikipedia

The first doubts that led me to really question my acceptance of creationism came with a visit to the Grand Canyon. My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful two week holiday to the Eastern USA before our daughter was born.

We started and ended in Las Vegas, urgh, we didn’t like the place at all; so fake and artificial and materialistic.

From Vegas, we did a big loop that encompassed the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, London Bridge, Sedona,San Francisco, some geyser or other, some Redwoods, Yosemite andDeath Valley. We loved it, utterly loved it.

I started the holiday as a creationist and ended the holiday seriously wondering if I’d been duped all those years.

I just couldn’t stop the questions.

When it comes to all things science, my attention is easily kept, even if understanding has trouble keeping up. I like to see how things work and like to question why. As a result, I am very much a nature man, this is very likely connected to my upbringing in Zambia, where nature was always all around.

What this would mean is that every time I visited somewhere I’d look for evidence of the past, too see how and why formations would happen and then imagine the process happening in front of me. That’s part of how I appreciate nature.

Up until this point, my favourite place in the world had always been Victoria Falls on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border. I’ve visited it numerous times as a child and an adult. The noise of the water is immense and the power that is visible is jaw dropingly huge. Then I saw the Grand Canyon and I was blown away by the scale and the peace (when you can get away from your fellow tourists). Suddenly my favourite place in the world had a challenger that was a serious contender. I’d seen Niagara Falls a few years previously and that didn’t even come close, so to be so utterly taken with the ruggedness and barrenness of the Grand Canyon was unexpected.

We saw sunset and the following sunrise over the canyon and several hours either side.

Looking out over the canyon I examined the rock structures and the layers. I looked for the erosion marks on isolated outcrops. I kept looking at the features I saw and trying to fit them with my creationist beliefs and struggled. The jagged edges didn’t fit with a catastrophic flood carving it out in a short time. Something gentler was required.

I looked at the mighty Colorado River, which looked like a small stream from the vantage point we were at. I tried to imagine it as a surface river gradually carving its way down through the rock. It seems an incredible feat and would surely take so long that it would be almost impossible to imagine that period of time. If this river has carved such a huge valley, canyon even, how come others rivers haven’t? Why is it so unique? Yet as I continued to look, I could see sections that I could easily imagine where previous paths of the river.

Could it be that my firmly held beliefs could be upset by simple observation and imagination?

Well yes, as it turns out.

During the rest of the holiday I would ponder these unsettling and yet invigorating questions and look at other features in a new light. Like the petrified forests north of San Francisco, Half Dome Rock and the glacier valley in Yosemite, rock features on the drive into and out ofDeath Valley.

So the start of the end of my creationism had begun, it started as a slow process of self realisation helped along by curiosity about nature.

Evolutionary Miracles

My last post was about how I had difficulty in the language used to describe evolution (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/the-language-of-evolutionists/).

This post is about items in nature that caused me the same issues.

There are some amazing things that happen in nature and sometimes they seem to defy any sense of logic. Trying to imagine how they could happen through chance mutation sends my head in a spin. Yet, somehow they did.

Balanites wilsoniana and the Elephant

Its not too much of a stretch to imagine and suggest that elephants eating fruit from trees, moving on and then eventually excreting the seeds of said fruit several miles away assists with the dispersal of those fruit trees. In fact there are several fruits that benefit from elephants this way and its been estimated that the African savannah elephants disperse a third of the fruit seeds that get germinated. This makes elephants extremely important to the ecology of the areas they roam. One can only image what the impact of their severely depleted numbers will have.

The Balanites wilsoniana are a bit more special though. These are large fruits, with large seeds and rely utterly on the elephant for dispersal. What’s more, the tough outer covering gets partially digested in the elephants gut and the result is the seeds germinate better having passed through. The same seems to be true of the Sclerocarva caffra. This goes beyond the elephant merely assisting in the dispersal of the seeds and makes the two species of fruit dependant on being eaten by elephants for the seeds to get the best chance of germinating and producing a new fruit tree. See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1146609X11000154#sec5 and http://chapmanresearch.mcgill.ca/Pdf/46_Balanites.pdf

Why would evolution do that? Surely evolution seeks to make life easier and better; constraining a seed to such a specific germination requirement seems rather limiting.

Cardiochiles nigriceps parasitic wasp and the broad-leaved helleborine orchid

The parasitic wasp in question in quite well known, it paralyses a caterpillar and lays its eggs inside the body. The caterpillar is kept alive but immobile while the eggs incubate and hatch. On hating the caterpillar became the first meal for the grubs of the next generation of parasitic wasp.

What is more impressive is that the wasp knows where to find the caterpillars because of the scent given off by the plant leaves when they are eaten. Damaged leaves give off a scent, anyone who has mowed a lawn will know well the scent of freshly cut grass. All across the plant world, leaves give off scents when they are damaged.

The wasp is able to tell the difference between the scent from a damaged plant and the scent of a plant being eaten by the Heliothis virescen caterpillar, its preferred victim. Yes, the plant gives off a different scent when its being eaten by this caterpillar, well it could be any caterpillar I guess. The wasp knows this scent and comes in for its nasty business.

Rather than the plant specifically calling to the wasp for help, its far more likely that the wasp has learnt to recognise this specific scent as the indicator of the presence of its victim.

See http://depot.knaw.nl/56/1/13583.pdf.

So far, all reasonable from an evolutionary perspective, though its precisely the sort of thing I’d have brought up previously as something that can’t happen by mistake; especially the wasp laying its eggs in a caterpillar bit.

However, this is where we go a little surreal.

The broad-leaved helleborine orchid gives of the same scent, or at least one that’s close enough, that attracts the wasp. The wasp finds no caterpillar, but it gets a good mouthful of sweet nectar and helps the orchid along with its pollination in the process.

See http://scienceblogs.com/notrocketscience/2008/05/orchid_lures_in_pollinating_wasps_with_promise_of_fresh_meat.php

How utterly wonderfully bizzar! I love it!

The wonders of Chance

I am sure I could find many more examples if I tried a bit harder, but these two will have to suffice as I think they serve to make my point well enough.

They are exactly the sort of thing that would have had me crying out “See! Evolution could not possibly be true for things like this to exist. The chances of it happening by accident are just too small.”

The thing is, odd things and coincidences happen by chance all the time and when you have the meandering randomness that is evolution, then there will be some strange and hard to explain things that happen simply as a by product of that.

Oddities spread throughout nature are not at all evidence against evolution, quite the opposite. Yet, when I was in the mindset of not accepting evolution, this was exactly the sort of thing that set me back.

The Language of Evolutionists

David Attenborough 1

Image via Wikipedia

One of the major sticking points for me was the language, words and phrases that I’d hear used when describing evolution.

The most problematic one is the use of the word ‘design’. Its used when describing the eye, a bird’s beak and many more anatomical components. Each time I’d hear it I’d fume inside and imagine myself vocally admonishing the presenter of whatever television programme had daring to suggest that a mindless random process like evolution could ever design anything.

Another major bugbear was when the evolution process was described in words that seemed to imply an intelligent guiding process, as though the end result was already known and evolution worked its way making changes required to achieve that result. Again, my angry brain voice would be screaming at the television “evolution is a benign process that’s not even real you twonk!”.

So I would huff and puff my way through nature programmes. It’s a wonder I didn’t give up watching them really.

Then of course there is our very British institution, Sir David Attenborough. No matter what the programme he was fronting, no matter how interesting or relevant the subject matter was, he would always slip in the fact of evolution and the millions of years it took for such and such to evolve or form or whatever. It didn’t seem to matter if the evolutionary process was relevant to the piece in question, it was brought up anyway. Presumably because nature documentary equals “must mention evolution”.

Given my Zambian upbringing, anything nature that involved centralAfricaor any savannah animal that I was familiar with was pretty much mandatory viewing. So it goes without saying that I was exposed to a fair number of such phrases and their automatic affect on my blood pressure.

I’m all cured now

The examples given above are not in any way an exhaustive list of the language and phrases used when describing evolution that can cause, not just frustration, but also confusion.

Thankfully, I’m over that and I can now enjoy nature documentaries with a freedom and freshness that’s genuinely enjoyable.

I do still notice these one offensive phrases and I do often wonder if I was never alone in getting uppity over them. I am sure that if they caused an intellectual problem for me, they did for others too and perhaps editors and science journalists should pay more careful attention to the language used to explain evolution. They’ll never stop upsetting the staunch creationists, but if the language was less emotive and more factual it might help with righting the misunderstandings that cause creationists to react so and might even help them along the road to acceptance. After all, if they are watching the programme, kits because they have an interest in the subject.

Sometimes I try to rephrase them in my head in a way that explains the point better.

When Friends are Unkind

One of the most painful and unhelpful experiences I had as a believer was when an online discussion with some friends about Christianity and evolution turned ugly and I ended up feeling ganged up on and very definitely unloved.

For background, this on-line groups of friends is a small cluster of people who, more than a decade ago, got together to talk about cars and meet up on the occasional track day. Most of them I have met on several occasions and all of them are decent people, even if I don’t know them well on a personal level. There are none who I consider unworthy of friendship, though my friendship status with them varies, as it must given that the vast majority of our dealings are on a private on-line forum where much discussion is reduced to humour and sarcasm.

For me, this on-line discussion served a good purpose in that it enabled me to share a common interest, that of cars and track days, and to engage in general random and irreverent chatter outside of my work colleague and church friends. So for these reasons I did not advertise my Christianity, not because of embarrassment; but because I did not consider it relevant to that context. I intended to behave as much as I could as a Christian and let me actions speak.

Of course it eventually came out that I was a Christian, but I still avoided talking about it as much as possible because this was supposed to be my safe place away from that world.

One day, for reasons I no longer remember, a thread was started that ended up talking about creationism and I let my colours fly. I stated my young earth creationist credentials and my objections to evolution. Understandably the flood gates opened and those who were passionate about the science of evolution waded in with facts and evidences. It all started well enough, but it wasn’t long before insults of poor intelligence flew in my direction.

In the end I gave up and made it clear I would not discuss the subject again.

The reality was, I was hurting inside. I was angry that my points were either not understood or misrepresented and that my bigger wish, to have understanding and respect between opposing viewpoints was utterly dashed. No way was I going to open myself up to that torrent of ridicule again.

Hindered Rather than Helped.

The bigger side effect of this discourse was that it hampered my acceptance of evolution.

At that time I was likely open to sensible discussion about evolution, but it didn’t happen. In fact I probably wanted (or needed) one. Sadly the conversation was very uneven, with just me on my side and several on the other. It only took a couple of those people to throw insults to create the offense that happened.

It would be some time before I would be prepared to listen to arguments for evolution again. When it happened it would be on podcasts.

I’ve not come clean to these friends on my acceptance of evolution (or my new found atheism) because I don’t think its fair to be open about it until my personal issue on coming out to with my wife is resolved (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/when-and-how-to-come-clean-on-atheism/).

A Christian’s Duty is to Procreate?

I can’t remember exactly who said it, what exactly was said, or even what the context was; but sometime in the late 1990’s something hit the news about it being the duty of all married Christians to procreate.

I know it was the late 1990’s because I remember where my wife and I were living at the time and we only lived in that flat for 3 years. I also remember raising this issue on a Christian newsgroup at the time, this was in the days before internet forums and blogs became the method by which opinions were discussed and recounted.

The source of this statement must have come from the Church of England, because it wouldn’t have hit theUKnews headlines if it had come from any other church demonization. A brief internet search has failed to find the source, but then searching for anything over ten years old on the internet is practically impossible these days.

At this time, my wife and I had been married for about 5 years, were childless through choice and were both very involved in our local church. I was involved in the youth work and my wife both the youth work and the worship group. Our commitments were to a level that would have been impossible if we had children.

Its unfortunate that I don’t remember exactly what was being reported on because that information would be helpful now in putting my reaction into context. What I do remember is not very much balance in the response of the Christian leadership that was interviewed on this story. They all seemed to make an effort downplay the potential offence of this dictum, while not actually saying it was a wrong thing to say. At least that’s my memory of the story, and it could by that my position at the time was slightly biased.

For me, the biggest issue was that it was not the message I had received from any of the churches I attended and no one I knew personally backed up this message. However, what was also clear, looking around me, was that my wife and I were most certainly in a minority, being married for so long and still being childless.

Offended, hurt and upset

I found the statements, as reported on the news, upsetting. How dare these religious leaders dictate how I should live my life when they know nothing of the context of my life. I also could not reconcile the instruction to procreate with any passage in the Bible. Yes there are passages about having children, but there was no insinuation that a marriage without children was an incomplete marriage.

I brought up my feelings on the Christian newsgroup I frequented, I remember it being a specificallyUKfocused one, but in reality I can’t be certain how many of the posters were actuallyUKbased orUKnationals.

In my post of complaint I recounted how my wife and I were devout and how we both enjoyed making ourselves available to the church and how we served it lovingly. The decision to have (or not have) children had not been made, we were simply enjoying the life we had as a couple and the available we had to our church, which would be much more limited if we’d had children.

The responses I got were even more hurtful. This is the only time I can honestly say that I have been hurt, upset and offended by the Christian community; the fact that it was over something so personal made it doubly worse. I think of the many people on that list, only two made a positive comment back to me, one describing our attitude and ‘lovely’, the rest backed up the premise that as married Christians, my wife and I had a duty to bring children into the world.

I have no idea if the on-line Christian culture at the time was mainly from the more is fundamental Christian or if this really was what the mainstream believed and I had simply missed it. Either way, it deepened my feelings of betrayal by those who I felt should have been understanding and supportive.

 

Still a dedicated Christian

In hindsight its easy to point to this event as a starting point in my move away from Christianity and in the narrative of this blog it probably gives that impression. The truth is, I don’t think that’s the case. That point was almost 10 years away still. What this event did do for me was form a distrust of entertaining on-line Christian discussions. It wouldn’t be long before I abandoned using that particular newsgroup altogether and I didn’t actively engage in any other Christian resources after that.

Becoming more Fundamental

The net effect of my deliverance experience (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-dramatic-deliverance/) was a greater level of fundamentalism.

Coupled with my creationist beliefs, the experience cemented in my mind that the Bible was not only true, it was absolutely and literally true. That meant not just a literal 7-day creation but also the physical hell, the rapture and everything in-between.

My fundamentalism went even further than that though. It went on to avoiding certain ‘unchristian’ things and actively embracing ‘Christian’ things. One example was, on seeing a popular artist of the time by the name of Enya labelled as New Age, all music of hers was avoided. When a fellow Christian was spotted with her music they were told they should not be listening to her.

My own music collection was scrutinised, though I don’t recall throwing anything away. I did however start purchasing far more Christian music, not in itself a bad or unhealthy act, but it was an indication of the obsessive fundamentalist mindset that was brewing.

By book collection was pared down, books like Gremlins (the book of the humorous Christmas movie by the same name) and an entire series of fantasy novels were consigned to the bin. Yet somehow fantasy from a Christian author was okay. Why should something be better or okay just because a Christian produces it?

My clothes changed too. At the time there was a Christian T shirt maker in the UK who sold many different Christian designs and slogans and I’d typically choose to wear them unashamedly when out and about.

Its easy to laugh about it now and its easy to feel saddened when the same things are witnessed in other people. Yet, when its you it all seems so normal and natural and you wonder why no one else sees it the way you do.

I must have been quite infuriating to be with at times.

 

Deliverance Follow-up

Another long posts here; before reading, it would be a good idea to make sure you have read this post first: https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-dramatic-deliverance/

Following my deliverance experience much changed in my life. My focus changed from being reading about creationism to reading about the Christian approach to deliverance and, more generally, healing. As time went on I would return to soaking up all sort of creationist literature, but for the following couple of years at least that would take a back seat.

A few days after the deliverance experience I was in a room with about 20 other young adults from the church for our regular 18+ meet up. During group prayer time I had a reoccurrence of the recent events. I was sitting cross-legged and as someone started praying, I think it was the first prayer of the evening; I started making incoherent noises and my rear started lifting up and dropping in a very rapid bouncing movement. To say it freaked out those who were there was a bit of an understatement.

Most of those there knew of the events previously, but not all and they were certainly not all comfortable with the concept of demons. One girl in particular was extremely distraught by what she saw and immediately fled the room.

It wasn’t long before control was regained, but it was blindingly obvious that everyone in the room was out of their depth. A phone call was made and I was immediately taken to the vicars house (the same vicar who had accompanied me during the deliverance) to spend the night.

That was to be the last time anything like that would happen to me.

God, save me!

Some evenings later (it may have been as much as a couple of weeks later) I had the most scary event of that period, and possibly the most scary moment of my entire life. I was woken from sleep in the early hours by what can best be described as feeling like someone was sitting on my chest. It was very disturbing. I tried to remove the mystery weight, only to discover that I could not move at all. None of my limbs responded to my attempts at movement. What made matters worse was that the compression on my chest was so heavy that for long moments I could not draw a breath.

When I tried to call out, I found I had no voice, a combination of not enough air in my lungs and no muscle control.

With my breath running low and feeling like I was being physically held down by an unseen force, its not at all surprising that I was utterly terrified. As panic rose up through me, in a last ditch effort I managed to call out “God, help me”. Its was more of a hoarse whisper than a shout, despite thinking that I was screaming it. In that instant I was sitting upright in bed, I was able to breath again and all muscle control was back.

On recounting the story it was diagnosed as a demonic attack.

Years later I would discover that what I actually experienced was very likely sleep paralysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis), a known phenomena that can be triggered by stressful events. This discovery was a key moment for me. It meant that is such a vivid and pivotal experience that was automatically assumed to be of supernatural origin was actually far more mundane and explainable. If this experience could be explained so easily; then what of all the others? It was no longer acceptable to just accept the experiences of the past in the religious context I had always judged them. It was now essential to me to doubt them all. If its possible to psychologically explain something that is assumed to be supernatural, then for something to be truly supernatural it must defy any other explanation. I could not in full honesty say that anything I had experienced met that criteria and so it should all be doubted.

Back to the story

A week later, on a far less dramatic social night out a friend commented to me that I looked so much better. He specifically pointed out that it showed in my eyes. Those around all agreed with his diagnosis.

Inside I had changed too, specifically my feelings towards my father were very different. The hate and bitterness that I felt towards him were gone and I just wanted to love him as a father. Our relationship wasn’t fixed, far from it, there would be much pain and hurt yet to experience there; but the way I felt towards him was very different.

My girlfriend noticed it too. It was a couple of weeks later when she said that she found I had changed to such an extent it was like she was having to get to know me all over again. I was still the same person but my attitude and outlook were different. I can’t remember the exact words she used to describe the change, only that it was mostly positive but that scale of the change in character was unnerving to her.

A prophesy

It was probably a couple of months later when the church had an outing to another church to attend a weekend of healing lectures and workshops. By now I had become involved in the church’s prayer for healing group.

During one of the sessions at this church a gentleman was introduced to us all and we were told he had a gift of prophesy or discernment (something like that, I can’t remember exactly). Anyway, this chap would wander round the hall while we were singing the next song and see what came to him.

The song started and I was vaguely aware of him passing through and stopping and saying something to one or two people. I was in the back row, next to my girlfriend and he eventually passed behind us and carried on. No reaction.

At the end of the song, the gentleman was brought to the front and there was a bit of chat about what was discerned, nothing special. Then he pointed me out and said ‘this man is going to have an apostolic ministry’.

I whispered to my girlfriend, “is he pointing at me?”. “No” came the reply. I shot him a questioning glance. The speaker running the session sought clarification. The man in front of me pointed at himself and asked “do you mean me?” “No” was the reply.

I point at myself, “Me?”. “Yes, you”. My legs buckled under me and I had to sit down quick before I hit the floor. I only just made it. My mind was blur and I struggled to comprehend what was being implied and how it could possibly fit with what had been happening to me. The couple of months leading up to this moment had been a whirlwind, both emotionally and spiritually.

Given the number of people from my church who witnessed the prophesy, including the aforementioned vicar and his lovely wife, I became a bit of a minor celebrity. I was wisely cautioned against trying to self fulfil the prophesy and advised to consider all the things that had happened to me carefully. Over the years, as I moved location (and therefore church) or had ministers come and go I’ve told very few people of these events, mainly just the ministers and vicars.

There is probably more I could tell but this post is long enough already, and not the key facts are here so I’ll leave it here. As always questions are welcome.

 

The Dramatic Deliverance

Okay, big post coming up…

It’s a bit of a tangent to my creationism story but since the details I am about to recount are part of that story I feel its important to tell it, even if I am a tad hesitant. I am still not absolutely certain how much detail to give, I’ll make that up as I go along, I am very happy to answer any questions that come up in the comments.

It all came about as a result of counselling. My relationship with my father was at an all time low and it was having a big effect on me. I carried a huge amount of baggage due to the divorce of my parents and I found it extremely difficult to make friends and maintain good relationships.

So, with some pestering, I went to a Christian counselling service. I can’t remember much of the detail of want went on in the sessions, but it was a very important outlet for me. I was able to talk about issues that affected me in an honest and frank way; which I have never done before.

The end of the counselling sessions happened to coincide with a special healing service at the church I attended. This was going to be a service which focused on the need for healing, in all the Christian senses, and would major on individuals receiving specific prayer. For practical purposes, this service would be held in the Church Hall and not in the much larger sanctuary, which was filled with rows of pews.

I remember little of the service itself, when the time came for the prayer ministry I went forward. I explained to the gentleman that would be praying with me that I had just been going through counselling for personal issues and that now it was over I wanted to dedicate it all to God, especially my relationship with my father.

If I had even had the remotest hint about what was going to happen that evening, I’d have probably stayed in my flat. What happened next would be a major event in my life and define my way of thinking for a long time to come.

The gentleman prayed for me in response to what I had just discussed with him and as he finished I toppled back and hit the floor; ‘Slain in the Spirit’ is a common phrased used to describe it when someone falls over after receiving prayer in those circumstances. Usually said person enters a relaxed state and is left on their own in peace, only being interrupted if they take too long to get up again and return to their seat.

For me it would be utterly different.

Instead of relaxing I started hyperventilating, this I didn’t expect. The hyperventilating gave way to unpleasant noises and an uncomfortable tingling sensation. Instead of peace fear started to build because now I had an idea of what was coming next and I really wasn’t ready for it at all.

Recognising what was happening; a couple of nearby prayers immediately crouched down next to me and started commanding demons to leave me. Some minutes later (I have no idea how long exactly), the woman who was one of the prayers light heartedly commented “well that’s got rid of half a dozen”. Immediately my throat contracted and I had to fight hard to control the urge to rebuke her directly with words along the lines of “Do not joke about such things”. I have no idea where that urge came from, because it was never in my nature to be confrontational like that.

Very soon after the wife of the husband-wife team running the healing ministry service came over and instructed that I was removed from the meeting. I can’t remember what was said specifically, but it was clear I was being disruptive and that it wasn’t going to end soon. I remember being disappointed by her tone and it came across unsympathetic and unloving. She would later apologise to me for what was said and explain why I needed to be removed. Sadly the respect she had previously lost would never be regained from me.

So, there I was, being half carried half frog marched from the hall into the back of the church sanctuary by people I didn’t know feeling very dazed and extremely emotional.

Thankfully it was the church that I regularly attended and so being placed in a chair at the back of a church I knew, which was only half lit, was both comforting and relaxing. The resident minister of the church was also a man I knew well and respected immensely so it was a great comfort to see him come join my group of attendees.

I don’t recall if the original prayers remained in the hall or came with me, but the focus of what happened next changed. I had about 5 or 6 people standing around me now, one of whom was the church minister already mentioned. Another of note is an older lady, not the same one who made the of hand comment earlier. This lady had a man in constant attendance, he would whisper things to her (which I could hear) and she would repeat them to the group. Yet I do not recall anyone acknowledging him at all. Although I would see the lady again in future services, I would never see the man again. I came to the conclusion that he was an angel guiding the process of my deliverance.

I don’t remember who any of the other people with me were.

I have no idea how long the rest of my deliverance experience lasted, it involved praying to God for guidance, naming of emotions, instructing demons to leave and the invocation of the name of Jesus and the power of his blood.

At one point the minister picked up my right wrist and examined a bracelet I had on. It was a twisted copper and silver bracelet from Zambia, which was made to look like a snake was circling my wrist. He eyed it thoughtfully for a moment and then placed my hand back on the arm of the chair. Later, back at my flat, with my right arm twitching uncontrollably I removed the bracelet and dropped it in the bin, the twitching stopped instantly. On being told this later, the minister responded with a smile “well that’ll teach me not to listen to God”.

When it was decided enough was enough and my ordeal was over, at least for that night, I was escorted back into the church hall. The service was long over and most people had left, it was just a few stragglers and tidy uppers left. Those I knew were keen to see how I was. I just wanted to hug my girlfriend and tell her how much I loved her, which I did. Understandably, the whole process had been very upsetting for her and she had sought solace with the minister’s wife, a most wonderful lady with a fabulously welcoming smile and the gentlest demeanour you could ever wish to experience.

That’s pretty much it for the deliverance part. There is a follow up which will have to have a post of its own.

Immersed in Creationist Literature

In my last post on my journey into creationism (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/the-making-of-the-adult-creationist/) I mentioned how my final step into fundamental creationism came as the result of a chance conversation and the borrowing of a book.

After that, I purchased many books on the subject, none of which survive in my collection now. Those that I can recall are:

  • Ark Search, self explanatory really, it’s a book about one mans mission to locate the final resting place of Noah’s Ark.
  • Proof?, interesting book this, but I recall it being a bit weak.
  • One very interesting book (whose title I don’t recall) was the personal story of a man who described himself as a scientist. One stand out story from the book was of the miraculous healing of a fracture in his skull. In the book he vividly describes the moment of the healing and how he related to it scientifically. In it he also explains why it accepted the literal creation account, which basically amounted to “it can’t not be literal because then you have to question the interpretation of other parts of the bible”.
  • God, the Big Bang and Richard Dawkins, to be honest I don’t actually recall anything from this book, possibly because it was one of the earliest books I bought.
  • There were many others of course.

There are two key themes that I recall being obsessed with during these early creationist years:

  1. The inerrant authority of the bible. This was mainly accomplished through what is called the Bibliographic Test. Explanations of which can be found at http://www.newmediaministries.org/Bible/Bibliographic_S.html and http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/ca/ca_06.htm
  2. Evolution can’t work because the can’t get fins from legs without having a limb that’s unusable in-between. You can’t have apes and reptiles having a common ancestor because they have different numbers of jaw and ear bones which can only mean some misshapen monster must have existed when one bone was fusing into another.

In my new found confidence on the subject I would pick arguments with atheists and evolutions accepting believers alike. I loved to argue how the flood is responsible for the sediment layers, or that carbon dating is flawed or that the debacle that was Piltdown Man is proof of poor science in all of evolution.

Point two above was my favourite point of attack. Evolution by imperceptible changes eventually brings about something different is all well and good for describing how bones change length or shape, but to change the number of bones between two points required a greater leap of faith; especially if that meant the fusing of a joint or the creation of a new joint. How on earth could an animal be deemed as fit to survive if it was crippled by such an obvious deformity?

For years I happy lived in that world, where the truth of the biblical creation was absolute and the rest of the world had been fooled by evolution. Quite how or why the majority of scientists were wrong I never fully considered, it seems preposterous now that I look back, but when you are so blinkered into knowing you are utterly right, rational thought can take a while to get through.

The Making of The Adult Creationist

I never hid the fact I was a Christian from my work colleagues and so on occasion there would be inevitable discussions on Christianity. I don’t recall any difficult discussions with work colleagues on the subject of Christianity, though I am certain several were atheists. We all got on with our jobs and in general were decent to each other.

One day, during a discussion of things religion, one of the girls said that her uncle was a US pastor and that he had written a book about the beginnings of the world. I expressed an interest in it. She had not read the book in question and so could not comment on it, but promised to get a copy from her parents and let me have a read.

The book was a creationist book. Sadly I can not remember the title or the author and given the number of books on the subject it will be difficult for me to track down exactly what book it was. I can’t even remember what the cover picture was.

This was the first book I had read, since school, that had any form of science content and I lapped it up. The book covered many topics, dating methods, geological methods, the formation of crystals, how caves are not really that old, how eroding waterfalls are much younger than assumed and more. I was sold.

This was the first time I recall being conscious of any sort of scientific battle between the science of an old earth and evolution and the attempts by some fundamental Christians to preach a literal biblical creation.

I remember reading the authors description of what would likely be the results of a world-wide flood in terms of erosion and sedimentation and thinking about my geography teacher explaining glaciation. To my shame I picked the wrong argument to back.

The book sparked a hunger in me for more knowledge and so over the following years I would hunt out several books on the subject, all from a Christian perspective of course. I would have several enthusiastic discussions with others, some opposing my acceptance of Creationism and some supporting. At no point did my utter faith in Creationism get dented. I was right, and I knew I was, nothing was going to change that.

Looking back, some of the books I bought did try and make a join between religion and science and show how the two looked at life from very different perspectives. What I don’t ever recall reading is that the knowledge that science discovers is valid and should be adopted. If I had, my emerging Creationism may have been pruned somewhat, but instead it grew and blossomed because it was not sufficiently challenged by any of the literature that I read. Of course it could also have been my own fault in the way that I chose which books to read.

It would be a long time before I would see sense. About 20 years in fact.

Until that time came, I would look at rocks and other features and imagine the young earth way in which they were created, or formed; I would watch nature documentaries and shudder every time evolution was mentioned, getting angry when I deemed that the word was only put there to try and reinforce evolution to the uneducated because I certainly could not see what it could possibly have to do with the specific subject in hand.