Dec 082006
 

I was an atheist, brainwashed by the establishment, into my 40s. I got a triple dose of indoctrination: from the public schools, from the secular environment in which I grew up (a small college town, surrounded by intellectual university types), and from the university itself. There was no doubt in my mind that God was a human fabrication and that we were the product of purposeless Darwinian mechanisms. In retrospect, however, I realize that I accepted these conclusions completely uncritically, which is ironic, because educated intellectual types supposedly take pride in critical thinking.

I was once debating “evolution” with a Christian friend, and I was spouting all the platitudes I had been taught. He said, “Look, rather than debating me, why don’t you read this book: Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton.” I assumed that it would be some nonsensical religious hogwash, but I was in for a big surprise.

I devoured the book in a couple of days, and when I was finished I slapped myself on the forehead and exclaimed, “I’ve been conned all my life!” My atheism was quickly unraveling.

Since 1994 my Christian walk has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and I can’t imagine life without it. Sunday morning is the highlight of my week. Contrary to what Richard Dawkins thinks, our Calvary Chapel ministry has produced nothing but good. I’ve seen nothing but positive influences in people’s lives. I’ve seen marriages and families healed, drug addicts liberated, and people serving and supporting each other in many ways. Safe Harbor, an international relief organization, was founded through our church and pastor Gary Kusunoki. I play keyboards in the praise band, and our worship team has been active in Teen Challenge, a Christian drug-rehab program that has an 85% longterm success rate, unheard of in the secular world. I mention all this in support of my claim in the title of this post, that materialist indoctrination is destructive, and deprives people of all the blessings I’ve listed above.

The destruction continues. The son of our praise band bass player, a freshman in high school, came home a couple of weeks ago and announced to his dad that science has proved that we are the product of “evolution” and that he no longer believes in God. His dad told me that his son really respects me and asked if I would talk with him. The son, who inherited his dad’s natural musical ability, asked if I would teach him piano, and I said yes. I’ve decided to make it my personal mission to teach him music and attempt to undo some of the damage that has been done by the public schools, which is an absolutely unconscionable travesty.

Last night I took the son to the Case For A Creator conference at Biola university. It was an amazing event with clips from the new Illustra Media DVD, Case For A Creator, and presentations by Lee Strobel, Jay Richards, Steve Meyer, JP Moreland, and more. I think it had a big impact.

The irony is that, especially based on what we now know from modern science, materialism is the irrational and illogical conclusion, yet this is what is promoted in public education. Furthermore, atheism is way too much trouble. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to explain away all the blatant evidence for the existence of God.

 Posted by at 6:36 pm

  16 Responses to “The Destructive Power of Materialist Indoctrination”

  1. Thank you Gil for that testimony. I sure will pray for this young man.

    “If God is dead He must be replaced by either megalomania or erotomania, the drive for power or the drive for pleasure.” — Malcolm Muggeridge

    It is not logically possible to be an atheist and live consistently. Even Bernard Shaw admits that he is an atheist who has lost his faith

    “If God is dead, then man becomes the measure of all things. In effect making us God. This is the temptation in the garden of Eden, that man can become God.” — Ravi Zacharias

  2. Thanks for sharing all this, Gil. It has been my observation that atheists rejection of belief in God’s existence isn’t based on evidence that is there or not there. It takes incredible will power to totally reject the overwhelming evidence for the existence of God to be found everywhere in the Cosmos.

  3. Yes Gil, thanks for sharing this.

  4. “…overwhelming evidence for the existence of God…”

    Well, thank you Gil for sharing this with us. Evidence that I am thinking of is one that can only be seen through eyes of faith, no?

  5. Gil, an interesting account. Having never read it, I am curious what was in Evolution, A Theory in Crisis that you found so persuasive. Does it particular present the case for Christianity? If not, why did you go that way, rather than Judaism or Hinduism, for instance?

    Are you aware that Denton has changed his position? In Nature’s Destiny he argues for fine-tuning of the universe so that intelligent life is inevitable. While such an argument presupposes a creator for the universe, it fits perfectly with modern evolutionary theory, and perhaps much of the “materialist indoctination” you suffered. See here for a comprehensive review, which offers this quote from the book:

    It is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science – that the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes. This is an assumption which is entirely opposed to that of the so-called “special creationist school”. According to special creationism, living organisms are not natural forms, whose origin and design were built into the laws of nature from the beginning, but rather contingent forms analogous in essence to human artifacts, the result of a series of supernatural acts, involving the suspension of natural law. Contrary to the creationist position, the whole argument presented here is critically dependent on the presumption of the unbroken continuity of the organic world – that is, on the reality of organic evolution and on the presumption that all living organisms on earth are natural forms in the profoundest sense of the word, no less natural than salt crystals, atoms, waterfalls, or galaxies.

  6. Are you aware that Denton has changed his position? In Nature’s Destiny he argues for fine-tuning of the universe so that intelligent life is inevitable. While such an argument presupposes a creator for the universe, it fits perfectly with modern evolutionary theory (emphasis added)

    Are you sure this is what you meant to say? I think I remember you are a dyed in the wool defender of materialistic naturalism? Have you changed your position?

    I think those sentences would work pretty well with ID. I would only fine-tune (pun intended) the statement by saying that design of the universe and life is detectable. I personally have no problem with Denton switching his philosophical views. What I have not seen from him and people such as yourself who points this out is Denton’s refutation of his previous book “Evolution A Theory in Crisis” . As far as I can tell all of his arguments against Darwinian evolution is still valid. Denton is not a Creationist but in “Nature’s Destiny” he fits right in with ID’s front loaders.

  7. Gil, an interesting account. Having never read it, I am curious what was in Evolution, A Theory in Crisis that you found so persuasive.

    It was the cumulative case presented by the book — chapter after chapter of obvious logical and evidential problems with Darwinian theory (the fossil record, the avian lung [which is really an argument from irreducible complexity], the complexity and sophistication of the cell’s machinery and information content, the “priority of the paradigm” and how it is defended to the death, regardless of the evidence [like geocentrism and phlogiston theory had been defended historically], etc.).

    Does it particular present the case for Christianity? If not, why did you go that way, rather than Judaism or Hinduism, for instance?

    From what I read I assumed that Denton was an agnostic if not an atheist, which made the book even more persuasive. He makes no pitch for religion of any kind, but the book did shatter a major cornerstone of my atheism: its creation myth.

    There were other influences that took place at roughly the same time. I was introduced to C.S. Lewis through a cartoon video I bought for my then five-year-old daughter (The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe). Upon recognizing the Christian allegory, I approached a Christian friend (the one who recommended the Denton book). He gave me a Bible and I started reading the New Testament and asking him a lot of questions, for which he had good answers. This friend, Dave Pounds, turned out to be quite a Bible scholar and a good Christian apologist.

    Are you aware that Denton has changed his position? In Nature’s Destiny he argues for fine-tuning of the universe so that intelligent life is inevitable.

    I read Nature’s Destiny. In any event, the cumulative-case argument presented in Denton’s first book still stands. Neo-Darwinism is simply no longer viable in light of the evidence and critical analysis.

  8. Teleologist, yes I did mean to say that. From what I understand Denton and I disagree on how the universe came to be, but for everything since the Big Bang we agree. No matter how the universe came to be, once it was here, stars form, planets condense, life appears and evolves, all without any intervention from external souces. Moderrn evolutionary theory describes the last part of that, and I see no reason to suppose Denton has an argument with it any more.

    I think those sentences would work pretty well with ID. I would only fine-tune (pun intended) the statement by saying that design of the universe and life is detectable.

    It does fit with the broad tent that is ID, but it is a position (if I understand it right) that Dembski and and Behe argue against with CSI and IC. Their ID requires occasional intervention from an external souce to inject CSI and build IC structures.

    Gil: It was the cumulative case presented by the book — chapter after chapter of obvious logical and evidential problems with Darwinian theory (the fossil record, the avian lung [which is really an argument from irreducible complexity], the complexity and sophistication of the cell’s machinery and information content, the “priority of the paradigm” and how it is defended to the death, regardless of the evidence [like geocentrism and phlogiston theory had been defended historically], etc.).

    You will find plenty of theories in science are “defended to the death”. And most of them, rightly so. When ID has some scientific evidence, some scientists will pursue it, and if the evidence is good enough, ID will replace “Darwinism”. This is what happened with geocentrism and phlogiston theory. After reading your comment, I found a couple of interesting articles on the avian lung here and here.

    I read Nature’s Destiny. In any event, the cumulative-case argument presented in Denton’s first book still stands. Neo-Darwinism is simply no longer viable in light of the evidence and critical analysis.

    Denton’s first book sets out to disprove common descent. In his later book, he accepts common descent. Nature’s Destiny seems to accept modern evolutionary theory (MET), and fits that into his ID hypothesis. Does he stillhave a problem with the stepwise evolution of the avian lung? Can you tell me what in his second book argues against MET? Can you tell me what in his second book suggests he has a problem with MET?

  9. Moderrn evolutionary theory describes the last part of that, and I see no reason to suppose Denton has an argument with it any more.

    I thought Denton in Nature’s Destiny argued for a universe and the ultimate emergent of life are accredited to fine-tuning and therefore directed? MET disputes this fine-tuning and asserts that all is by random processes. Why would Denton be in agreement with you? However we are digressing here, because Gil’s point was based on A Theory in Crisis, which his latest book still has not been able to refute. So what you need to address is his first book not what he believes now.

    It does fit with the broad tent that is ID, but it is a position (if I understand it right) that Dembski and and Behe argue against with CSI and IC. Their ID requires occasional intervention from an external souce to inject CSI and build IC structures.

    No. Neither CSI nor IC has such requirements. As you said, ID is a big tent, some will argue for progressive design and intervention and some argues for FL. CSI and IC works with either systems.

    Denton’s first book sets out to disprove common descent.

    That is not quite correct. His first book disproved the mechanisms of Darwinism. Random Mutation and selection were incapable of producing the diversity of life. Let’s be honest here, even Darwinists are beginning to acknowledge this.

    Evo Devo is the third revolution in the field known as evolutionary biology or how animals were made and evolved.

    The first revolution came when Charles Darwin published his seminal book on evolution, “The Origin of Species.” Darwin explained how, over eons, living organisms became diverse through a process called natural selection, meaning that nature decided which species had best adapted to their environment, and thus would thrive.

    The second revolution came with the merging of Darwin’s theories and the science of genetics.

    But neither of those approaches revealed how individual animal forms were made or how they evolved. That’s where Evo Devo comes in, attempting to explain a process through which a single- celled egg develops into a multibillion-celled animal, and why there are such deep connections among animals.

    Carroll’s statement is an admission that neo-Darwinian evolution has failed to explain the development of complexity. Essentially Carroll is suggesting that life at its beginning had complexity already built in.

  10. Teleologist

    I thought Denton in Nature’s Destiny argued for a universe and the ultimate emergent of life are accredited to fine-tuning and therefore directed? MET disputes this fine-tuning and asserts that all is by random processes. Why would Denton be in agreement with you? However we are digressing here, because Gil’s point was based on A Theory in Crisis, which his latest book still has not been able to refute. So what you need to address is his first book not what he believes now.

    Personally, I disagree with Denton, because I take a stand on how the universe came to be, but not MET. MET does not dispute fine-tuning. MET is based on the natural laws, accepting them as they are and has nothing to say about how they came about. MET involves some randomness, but is not an entirely random process. I would guess that Denton is proposing that this randomness and the non-random components, the entire system, was set up by an intelligent agent in such a way that life was inevitable.

    And my point was that it was odd that Gil’s life was changed by a book, the author of which now thinks is wrong. Denton presumably now believes the avian lung could evolve stepwise, as long as the universe was originally set up to do that. As I understand it, in the first book Denton argued that molecular clocks refuted common descent, and now he believes in common descent.

    No. Neither CSI nor IC has such requirements. As you said, ID is a big tent, some will argue for progressive design and intervention and some argues for FL. CSI and IC works with either systems.

    I am missing something here then. I thought the point of the IC and CSI arguments was that they proved evolution could not happen without intelligent intervention. Remember Denton is prosing that all this is “front-loaded” into the laws of the universe, rather different to Mike Gene’s front-loading, where the CSI might be injected into the genetic code of the first life.

    Let’s be honest here, even Darwinists are beginning to acknowledge this.

    Let’s be honest here, no they are not. Carroll is describing the development of evolutionary theory. That is why I call it modernhere).

  11. And my point was that it was odd that Gil’s life was changed by a book, the author of which now thinks is wrong. Denton presumably now believes the avian lung could evolve stepwise, as long as the universe was originally set up to do that. As I understand it, in the first book Denton argued that molecular clocks refuted common descent, and now he believes in common descent.

    I probably should let Gil answer for himself, but my opinion and I repeat, is it does not matter that Denton “might” have changed his views. The point is can Denton or any Darwinist show any evidence that refuted the case he made against gradualistic evolution? Can you provide empirical evidence of how an avian lung was evolved? Denton might believe in common descent now, but does he support his case for common descent using evidence from molecular clocks?

    I am missing something here then. I thought the point of the IC and CSI arguments was that they proved evolution could not happen without intelligent intervention. Remember Denton is prosing that all this is “front-loaded” into the laws of the universe, rather different to Mike Gene’s front-loading, where the CSI might be injected into the genetic code of the first life.

    If that is Denton’s position then it would be different. But you said in your original comment #8 “occasional intervention from an external souce” . CSI and IC do not require multiple interventions.

    Let’s be honest here, no they are not. Carroll is describing the development of evolutionary theory. That is why I call it modernhere).

    Please, the entire premise of evo-devo is to get around the neo-Darwinian mechanism of RM&NS. The point Carroll making is random cumulative mutations have failed to explain the current diversity of life.

  12. And my point was that it was odd that Gil’s life was changed by a book, the author of which now thinks is wrong.

    Note that I said that Denton’s Theory in Crisis book was one of many factors, but it was my first introduction to evidence for the fact that Neo-Darwinism was not the “fact” that I was taught it was, and that the theory had glaring deficiencies and problems. Further reading (Darwin on Trial, Darwin’s Black Box, and much more), convinced me beyond doubt that Darwinian theory is effectively dead.

    As far as Denton’s current thoughts, check out the video interview below. I believe it is reasonably up to date, and I know for sure that it postdates Nature’s Destiny since this is mentioned in the abstract. As near as I can tell Denton does not repudiate anything of substance in his original critique of Darwinian theory.

    The main page is:
    http://uctv.tv/library-human.asp?seriesnumber=28

    The Denton interview is here:
    http://webcast.ucsd.edu:8080/ramgen/UCSD_TV/6467OnDarIntWit.rm

  13. Denton might believe in common descent now, but does he support his case for common descent using evidence from molecular clocks?

    I am guessing Denton thinks his previous argues against common descent, such as molecular clocks, are not valid, given that he now accepts common descent. What else should we suppose?

    If that is Denton’s position then it would be different. But you said in your original comment #8 “occasional intervention from an external souce” . CSI and IC do not require multiple interventions.

    At a bare minimum, you need the intelligent designer to front load all the CSI in the first organism. That means all the information for the avian lung, the mammalian immune system, the vertebrate eye and the cephalopod eye and the compound eye, and so on. I get the impression Dembski is proposing their is a lot of CSI in each species, and for a single intervention, you need all that CSI packed into a single genome. I do not think a single intervention is credible, if we accept Dembski’s claims for CSI.

    Please, the entire premise of evo-devo is to get around the neo-Darwinian mechanism of RM&NS. The point Carroll making is random cumulative mutations have failed to explain the current diversity of life.

    Did you get the Carroll quote from here? From that page:

    Carroll deals briefly with the controversy surrounding how evolution is taught in schools, and he cites statistics showing that, even when it is taught, there is widespread ignorance about the topic. For example, a National Science Board survey found that 52 percent of Americans believed that the earliest humans lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. He also briefly tackles the struggle between teaching evolution and teaching creationism, pointing out that even Darwin added the words “by the Creator” to “The Origin of Species” to appease critics of the concept of evolution. But he believes Evo Devo may help deepen the case for evolution and suggests that theology should evolve or face the possibility of becoming irrelevant.

    You might also like to see the Wiki article on evo-devo:

    Evolutionary developmental biology (evolution of development or informally, evo-devo) is a field of biology that compares the developmental processes of different animals and plants in an attempt to determine the ancestral relationship between organisms and how developmental processes evolved. Evo-devo addresses the origin and evolution of embryonic development; how modifications of development and developmental processes lead to the production of novel features; the role of developmental plasticity in evolution; how ecology impacts development and evolutionary change; and the developmental basis of homoplasy and homology. Just as evolution tends to create new genes from parts of old genes (molecular economy), evo-devo demonstrates that evolution alters developmental processes (genes and gene networks) to create new and novel structures from the old gene networks (such as bone structures of the jaw deviating to the ossicles of the middle ear) or will conserve (molecular economy) a similar program in a host of organisms such as eye development genes in jelly fish, insects, and mammals.
    Although interest in the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny extends back to the nineteeth century, the contemporary field of evo-devo has gained impetus from the discovery of genes regulating embryonic development in model organisms. General hypotheses remain hard to test because organisms differ so much in shape and form.

  14. Teleologist,

    I posted a comment with a link to an online interview with Michael Denton. I believe my comment was intercepted by the spam filter because it never appeared. Could you check into this? I’d be interested in what word triggered the spam filter.

    Gil

  15. I am sorry Gil. I don’t know what happened. I use Akismet for spam filtering. It works great 99% of the time but sometimes it gives a false positive.

    I’ve rescued your post out of spam. It is comment #12 above.

  16. Gil,

    Welcome to Teleological!

    Sal

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