I like reading stories of de-conversion from Christianity for a number of reasons. One of which is that it demonstrates where weak arguments for the truth of Christianity may exist, where misunderstanding is likely, and just how desperately the desire is for people to suppress the truth.
I found an example that is worth sharing because it demonstrates two clear issues wherein the church and our education system has failed. I also hope that in reviewing this story that we can develop some take-aways and get some application for response.
The reasons why I have left my old religion are numerous, and they keep multiplying and being affirmed the more I study with unbiased eyes. Here, I will share just one reason.
Well, we should recognize that there is really no such thing as “unbiased”, but rather if one can realize that they have biases and be fair in spite of them. So, what’s the “one reason” that she gives? Evolution.
I was never very educated about evolution. (Link removed)
I have to wonder, I mean, I’m over forty years old, I attended public school, and as something of a science nerd, I was educated about evolution. I learned about Darwin and his observations and about his conclusions. Of course, I didn’t learn until later that Darwin wasn’t alone in either his observations or theories and that there were those who disagreed with his conclusions on scientific grounds. Never mind that Darwin is often misrepresented as an actual scientist, and not just a careful observer with some scientific training who made a number of claims based upon understandings that later scientists have discovered simply weren’t true because of our growing understanding of DNA. Okay, enough history lesson, this is Suze’s story.
I thought it was simply the scientific guesswork that humans came from apes because we have similarities. I had done some research, but I never noticed that when I read non-Christian explanations, deep down in my psych I was secretly looking for ways to dismiss them as false. I can be honest with myself now and realize I wasn’t looking for truth. I was looking for affirmation.
Notice: she admits that she wasn’t looking for truth, she was looking for “affirmation”. I think that this is where so many problems come from. People wanting to be affirmed rather than wanting truth. Let’s continue.
Under the heading “Learning Without Bias”, she writes,
I’ve recently come to understand that we have the bones of our ape-like ancestors slowly evolving into modern-day humans. We can line them up. It is clear. Yes, it’s mind-boggling, but it’s clear. While there are naturally things we still do not understand yet, the evidence shows us that this somehow happened. (Link removed)
Let’s be clear, because unless we’re very careful we will walk into a trap: the claim is that human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors. Never mind that the link between man and ape has never been demonstrated beyond appealing to homologous structures. The fact is that there is no demonstrable connection between humans and apes beyond the mere assertion. DNA is also no friend here because, while there is similarities between humans and apes in regard to code related to structure are often touted, the differences are often downplayed, because they are what matter. Interestingly, she includes a picture that is commonly used to supposedly demonstrate the evolution of humans from apes. The problem is that such demonstrations are, in fact, biased because they are playing on the assumption of relationship rather than proving their relationship. Continuing, Suze writes,
The theory of evolution is science investigating into how exactly this happened. Not if it happened. We also have the bones and fossils of many other animals evolving into other species. We can see remnants of limbs and bones that they no longer have need for.
Well, she clearly doesn’t understand evolution as well as she thinks she does, much less what a theory is or how it is used in science. First, we have the classic misrepresentation of the evidence in the statement that we, “…have the bones and fossils of many other animals evolving into other species.” This simply isn’t true. We have fossils. And we have evidence of speciation. The problem is that the terms such a “speciation” are often thrown around in careless fashion. In regard to fossils, aside from the mere assumption, there is nothing that necessarily connects the fossils of one species to the fossils of another. We have often have no DNA that can connect one animal, like an elephant, to another, like a mouse. Second, is the assertion, “We can see remnants of limbs and bones that they no longer have need for.” Actually, it’s an assumption, an argument from ignorance in fact. But to get someone to actually admit it, that takes work.
See Also this review on vestigialism.
Evolution is not a theory, even though science humbly calls its discoveries about how things work ‘theories’. You probably don’t want to test the ‘theory’ of gravity by jumping off a building. We have the evidence that it happens even though we sometimes don’t fully understand how yet. (Link removed)
We get further evidence of the way that this is going to go down by the fact that she appears to contradict herself. But, I’m going to be generous and say that this is, in fact, not a contradiction. It has been observed that there is change over time that occurs. The realities that these changes occur leads to various theories that scientists work through. So there’s evolution that is actual and observed and there are theories that emerge from the observations that are tested and either confirmed or falsified. However, care needs to be taken to recognize the difference between one thing and the other. Atheists, as well as Christians, often fail to recognize that there is a difference between facts and the theories that are used to explain the observation derived from facts. So, taking her example of conflation between the theories of gravitation, which seeks to explain the attractional (yes, I think that I just made up a word) properties that exist between bodies in space, and the fact that if you jump off a building you will plummet to the ground, which we call “gravity”. So, just to be clear there is a difference between the fact and theories about the facts.
Skipping to the next paragraph, Suze writes,
Evolution is not something humanity could (or did) dream up for themselves, unlike how they have done with many different gods and their stories.
Well, first that’s a claim that has not been demonstrated to be proven. I could just as easily assert that evolution was “dreamed up” by those who couldn’t accept the truth of the existence of God and his placing people under the authority of the gods of the nations. Now, I actually have multiple lines of evidence by which I can prove my claim. Her rejection of it doesn’t mean that the claim is false either.
Creating various superhumans in the sky to help explain the mysteries of life is all humans have ever been able to fathom.
Evolution, by contrast, is not man-imagined but man-discovered. Evolution is totally out of the box, unexpected and incredible.
Actually, no. People have been using evolution for literally millennia to breed all kinds of plants and animals. The fact that they didn’t understand the underlying mechanics or use your terminology doesn’t mean that it was “unexpected” or “incredible”. This is simply the arrogance of scientism.
Skipping down under the heading “Just Plain Wrong”, Suze writes,
The Bible says that God created man and woman, separately from the animals. Uniquely, in his image. (Link removed)
I hate to be a bubble-burster, but no. Unless she means in the same sense as God created land animals separately from swimming animals. But even then, one has to ask what one means by “separately” because that just means later in the creation week. Man is created to uniquely do something that other animals cannot, that is image the God who made them. There’s something unique about man that is distinct from the animals in regard to the ability to fill this position. So, it’s in fact a misrepresentation to say that man was created “separately”, but rather that man, male and female, was created uniquely, which she is correct on. She simply misses what the author is arguing in Genesis 1:26-27.
See also The Quest for the Historical Adam
She then skips to Genesis 2, which is restating and, we could even say, allegorizing the previous text. Ryles, in his commentary on Genesis, at this passage notes a high amount of idiomatic language and that the narrative, while it assumes an actual physical location, makes its arguments in metaphor (pp. 29-30). This would seem to indicate that the text isn’t necessarily making factual claims as such, but making truthful claims nonetheless. Suze might argue that the writers thought that such was literally true, and I would gladly concede the point. However, I think that there is a meaningful distinction that could be made from noting that there is a difference between arguing that God did something and how God did it, and that things were done for a reason, demonstrated by the conclusion which sums up the section:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.Genesis 2:24, ESV
Suze continues in her next paragraph,
However, the proof that we can now hold in our hands tells us that humans evolved from other species.
By “proof” I will assume that she means “evidence”, and the evidence provided, well it’s not necessarily conclusive, as argued earlier in this analysis. Further, there are those who would argue, given the nature of the argumentation in the biblical text, that there may be room for human beings, Homo sapiens, to be the descendant of another species. There’s nothing directly in the text that absolutely precludes God’s use of evolutionary means to bring about his image bearers, there is however, the number problem that poses a issue for both Darwinians and Young Earth Creationsists.
Part of evolution, Microevolution, (species changing in qualities) is constantly being demonstrated to us, whereas macroevolution (species changing into another species) takes millions of years so we cannot expect to see that in action. However, we do have the fossils to prove that it eventually happens. (Links removed)
Again, this demonstrates that Suze is either ignorant of concepts or how to explain them. “Microevolution” is a term used to describe dozens of changes that occur across a myriad of levels within both a specific organism or a specific species. “Macroevolution” is one of those terms that has shifted in meaning since it came into use, shifting from describing the coming into being of new forms of life, but as evidence of this dwindled down, it shifted to describing new species coming into being, thus displacing the term “speciation” from the scientific lexicon. We can see speciation (macroevolution) occurring in real time, and there are fossils that do confirm that this has been happening all along. However, through this playing with language, the evangelists of evolution have tried and, in most cases, successfully obfuscated what is actually occurring when these terms are used.
Suze then argues, using bold-faced type,
The multitude of fossil discoveries prove that the creation story is not literal history.
Again, this entirely depends on what someone means by “literal”. The creation story can be “literal” in one sense (that God did something) while at the same time not be “literal” in another (how God did it). The problem is that she’s not differentiating between two literal truths that we normally accept in any other circumstance. Further, this is an unjustified assertion, because it assumes that there is only a singular interpretation of the evidence that is coherent, when there are, quite literal dozens of competing theories, demonstrated by the breadth and depth of research and papers produced by scientists, that all serve to explain at least part, if not all of the evidence and its relationship with our lived experience. Two things, the fact of creation and the fact that evolution occurs, can be true at the same time; it is simply fallacious reasoning that holds them up as mutually exclusive or contradictory propositions.
Suze attempts to demonstrate that her conclusion poses a problem that she describes in a section titled “The Nail in the Coffin.” where she writes,
It was drawn to my attention that the Apostle Paul refers to the events in the story of Genesis as the context and reason for the savior. In fact, Paul emphasizes this logic repeatedly: the man Jesus came to fix what the man Adam broke.
After quoting a section from Romans 5, Suze continues,
With the benefits of modern abilities into research and excavation, we now know that ancient cultures throughout history, including Jesus and Paul themselves, were wrong. Humans evolved. Humans were not created as a unique entity.
Except for the fact that humans do all kinds of things that the other animals don’t do, like write blogs, humans aren’t anything unique. This is what atheism gets you: unreflective absurdity. Again, Suze is merely arguing by assertion. What has this “modern research and excavation”—something else other animals don’t do that makes humans unique—revealed? Nothing that she believes. Suze continues,
Paul (who claimed revelations from God as author of a large percentage of the New Testament) and Jesus (often claimed to be God himself) were utterly and completely wrong about the beginnings of humanity!
This is yet another argument by assertion. The fact that Paul and Jesus both believed that there was a man uniquely chosen to serve God, who sinned, and in doing so spread the contamination of his rebellion among other humans is not, and has not been refuted by any theory regarding human evolution. But Suze insists, and points out what is seen as an obvious problem:
Unfortunately for Christianity, they based their theology on the belief that their culture’s mythology was literally true. Here is the crux of it: No Adam means Adam could not commit the original sin, separating us from the Judeo-Christian God. No ‘one man’ Adam separating us means no need for ‘one man’ Jesus to reconcile us to the Judeo- Christian God. (Emphasis original)
That’s just it though: no evidence has been offered to prove that there was, in fact, no historical Adam. I mean, you can make that argument, and it does seem logical. However that still poses a problem for the person making the claim: the historically attested life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In the book, Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives, the essay in chapter three written by someone under the pseudonym “William Stone”, notes that within the discussion of a historical Adam that there, “…are highly complex and contested issues that require interaction with a wide range of topics, such as biblical hermeneutics, geology, radiometric dating, and biogeography…” Stone’s argument though, much like Suze’s, is dependent upon Adam being the first man rather than a unique man chosen by God for a purpose.
Hans Madueme, notes in his chapter in the same book,
To think as we do that an irresolvable conflict exists between original sin and evolutionary science will thus appear naïve or misguided. Some may even infer that we are flouting recent scholarship by promoting the old canard of science and theology perpetually at war. But there is a basic confusion here. One can accept the insights of the complexity thesis and still acknowledge genuine, particular instances of conflict between science and theology. (Emphasis original)
Suze though, has probably never take the time to think through the subject, which is why she can write,
Creationist fundamentalists know this is the achilles heel of their faith and they refuse to accept evolution.
Yeah…no. Again, Suze gives us a false dilemma. Remember, two things can be true at the same time.
I will agree that there’s a tremendous amount of data that’s out there poses a problem for Young Earth Creationists, but not for Old Earth Creationists, or even Creationists, like myself, who are agnostic about such matters. The fact that we cannot point to a specific person in history and say, “Ah-Hah! Adam!” Is because there comes a time where a specific ancestor becomes lost in time.
Also, if you read the earlier post that I made on the historical Adam, you noticed that I hinted at an argument regarding typology. One could make an argument—even if there was no actual, historical Adam—that men sin in like manner as Adam is portrayed: in a high-handed nature. We do this from the cradle and have to be trained to suppress our sinful nature just to function in society. Jesus lived the life that Adam—as a type—should have lived: one of obedience to God. Therefore what is typified in Adam is made real in the life of Christ, acting in history. Men are sinners because they behave like Adam is portrayed as behaving; therefore the unredeemed man is in Adam in their sin—a character in a story, following the logic—but salvation in Christ brings them to life, as Christ was a person in history—real, tangible, alive. Christ still had to come and still had to redeem men from their sin, thus refuting the argument.
Suze’s closing, under the heading “Accepting What Is” deserves our attention and response, there she writes,
I’m relieved to no longer believe that the salvation of a person’s soul essentially depends on winning a game of hide and seek with God. How awful that a divine force would stake such a thing a the eternal welfare of a person on their ability to guess which religion is correct!
Fortunately, a man’s salvation doesn’t depend on a “game of hide and seek” with God or having to guess “which religion is correct”. Rather it depends on what Christ has done in coming to seek and save the lost. Further, God has given us the means by which to determine which religion is “correct” by giving us his Word in Scripture, no guesswork required. Of course what I mean by “religion”, as a Christian, refers to denomination, and after 30 years and 3 denominations, I think that I have found where I can serve God best, as a Southern Baptist, which came about by the study of Scripture in contrast and comparison with what the denomination states that it believes. Could that change? Possibly, but any change would necessarily be predicated upon the force and logic of the argumentation from Scripture.
Instead, surely it is obvious why each religion argues (even bribes and threatens) for its supremacy.
I mean, just… wow. That’s just dumbfounding. In 30-plus years I have never heard anyone, in any denomination that I’ve belonged to make the argument that a person’s salvation depends upon that particular denomination being supreme. None, whatsoever. I never had a gun put to my head and heard anyone say, “if you leave the Presbyterian Church, we’ll kill you.” Now, Islam considers it apostasy in some cases to change “denomination”, I mean they actually kill one another for which Hadith is considered to be authoritative. And when people try to compare this to Catholics killing Protestants or vice versa, they’re simply speaking out of a simplistic and erroneous understanding of history.
Suze continues in her closing paragraph,
So I discount the religion I used to follow without question. Despite my remaining questions about life and cultural conditioning to believe, I can never go back if I trust evidence over feelings.
It sounds as if Suze came out of a hyper-fundamentalist Christian background that bordered on cultic. However, she exchanged it for something equally fundamentalist. This seems to be a normal thing with these people. They have a sense that something is wrong with what they believe, and rather than probe the outside edges to listen to a variety of views and see how they match up, they bail out, acting emotionally rather than rationally. She’s simply exchanged one dogmatic position for another.
So, what have we seen here in this examination?
Well, from what I see, I see two things: ignorance and irrationality. These are two factors that, when present in the church, set the stage for cultic behavior. The church is to be a place where believers are taught how to think about the world where we can take the nations for Christ. Instead, what we see is apparently hyper-partisanism. Simply saying that you believe the Bible isn’t enough, you have to be literate in it, both theologically and philosophically. Failure in this aspect is a breeding ground for apostasy, seen in a grasping hand that grabbed onto nonsense, both about biology and about the faith. As I said, Suze has some interesting posts on her blog and if the Lord wills, I might interact with them, in the meantime, we need to reflect on what we believe and work through it for ourselves.