ICR: A Creationist’s Journey

This is a heart-warming tale at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. The title is My Journey Back to God. It was written by Douglas Ell, described at the end as a lawyer in Washington, D.C. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

My parents took me to church and Sunday school, but we rarely talked about God. I loved to read, but the science books contradicted the Bible [Gasp!] I read of a universe that was billions of years old and of dinosaurs that supposedly lived many millions of years ago. I read of human descent from apes. [Oh no!] The geology books denied Noah’s Flood. Without evidence, I concluded the Bible could not be true, and I drifted from God.

That’s tragic. But Doug’s journey had not yet begun. He says:

I double-majored in math and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), studied theoretical math for three years, and got a law degree. During those years I considered myself an atheist.

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Doug tells us:

When my son was baptized at church, though, something happened in me — I felt the Holy Spirit. [Ooooooooooooh!] But the atheist indoctrination would not let go easily. I told myself I would not believe in God without evidence. That started my journey back to Him.

Isn’t this exciting? Doug continues:

I read books on physics, molecular biology, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and more. I began to see design in the world around me. [Yes!] The turning point came on an airplane. I did a crude calculation of the odds of getting a single functional protein by chance. The math was overwhelming; it can’t happen without God. I knew then God was real.

How wonderful! But Doug’s journey wasn’t over yet. Let’s read on:

In 2014, around a decade after my eureka moment, I published Counting To God: A Personal Journey Through Science to Belief. I “counted” through seven areas of science that point to God.

Here’s the book at Amazon. It was published by Attitude Media. Their website says: “Attitude Media creates books, websites, web apps, and social media.” We can’t determine if they’re a vanity publisher. However, we encountered Doug’s name once before in connection with such a publisher. That was in a Discoveroid post — see The Discoveroids and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Doug was mentioned as one of the contributors (along with Casey Luskin) to a book published by the Discovery Institute Press — the Discoveroids’ own vanity press. Anyway, here’s a another excerpt from his journey:

Since the publication, my perspective on creation has changed even more. Just as I once was both ignorant and scornful of the evidence for God, I remained ignorant and scornful of the evidence for a young earth. … [A] respected doctor invited me to examine the evidence for creation. He challenged me by saying, “At what point do you start believing the Bible?” In other words, if you take the position that the Genesis accounts of creation and Noah’s Flood are wrong but the gospel accounts of Jesus and His resurrection are true, where do you draw the line? Do you accept Abraham, Moses, and David? On what basis? I couldn’t answer these questions, and it troubled me.

How did Doug come to The Truth? Here’s more:

I was later invited to a private meeting with a creation scientist. I was impressed [Who wouldn’t be?] and promptly began devouring creation literature, including The Genesis Flood [and other creationist classics]. I found creation everywhere.

How wonderful! And now we come to the end:

ICR’s Acts & Facts became my favorite magazine. I learned that blue stars, spiral galaxies, double stars, nuclear physics, and other evidence discredit the Big Bang model. … It is a great joy to trust the Bible, to know it is true from beginning to end. I feel peace. I am grateful to ICR and all who work to spread the truth of creation and the Bible. With their help, my journey has led me back to God.

And so ends Doug’s journey. It brings tears to your eyes, doesn’t it, dear reader?

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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36 responses to “ICR: A Creationist’s Journey

  1. Michael Fugate

    You know it is a great apologetics book, but a terrible science book given the positive reviews by Stephen Meyer, Ann Gauger, Guillermo Gonzalez, and Casey Luskin.
    https://countingtogod.com/reviews/

    As Casey says:
    You have a choice. You can impartially consider new scientific evidence as it becomes available and revise your opinions as dictated by facts. Or you can do what most people do, just go with the existing paradigm. I’m asking you to have the courage to explore the harder path. I’m asking you to consider the evidence, some of the most sophisticated results of modern science, and make your own decision.

    What are you going to do? – be a sheep?

  2. Hopefully his journey isn’t over yet and he will discover the ultimate truth of the flat earth and solid firmament spreading across.

  3. “I read of a universe that was billions of years old and of dinosaurs that supposedly lived many millions of years ago.”
    How exactly does that contradict the Bible? Oh wait – it contradicts Dougie’s personal interpretation of his favourite Holy Book.

    “But the atheist indoctrination would not let go easily.”
    Ah, that’s why Dougie let his son baptized.

    “I began to see design in the world around me.”
    From IDiocy to YEC is just a small step. As soon as you reject Evolution Theory the door is wide open:

    “I read books on physics, molecular biology, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and more”
    You can reject whatever you want. Indeed, rejecting the spherical Earth is the next small step.

  4. Douglas Ell:
    “I double-majored in math and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), studied theoretical math for three years, and got a law degree.

    I read books on physics, molecular biology, cosmology, quantum mechanics, and more.”

    Now see, that’s your problem right there, Dougie. You should have studied geology, and read books about radiometric dating, paleontology, and biology. then you would have acquired a clear understanding of the evidence supporting billions of years of earth history, millions of years since the dinosaurs last roamed the earth, and a basic knowledge of how evolution works. What I don’t understand, Doug, is how you could have read much about cosmology and not come to understand that the universe is several billion years old. I guess all that religious dogma instilled during childhood is too deeply rooted in your brain to be swayed by facts. Pity. And you seem to be an otherwise intelligent person.

  5. Michael Fugate

    In the introduction, Ell repeats the likely made-up story from Darwin’s Doubt that was addressed int letter #533:
    https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/creationist-wisdom-533-darwin-refuted-himself/

  6. Dougie goes on to say,
    “The turning point came on an airplane. I did a crude calculation of the odds of getting a single functional protein by chance. The math was overwhelming; it can’t happen without God.”

    It can, and it did. Overwhelming odds does not equal impossible. What makes it seem like overwhelming odds is that we are used to thinking of time in terms of our human time scale. With 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms (give or take a few dozen, or a few dozen powers of ten) interacting over 1,000,000,000,000 years, much is possible. In fact, much is probable.

    If you are going to say God did it, you have to specify which god. We have many religions on this planet, and the believers of each are adamant in their belief that theirs is the “One True God”. In fact, they are so sure that they are correct, they’re willing to kill for it.

    Ironic, isn’t it? Each religion believes their god created life, and yet their religion causes them to take it away. A rash statement, you say? Just look at history. The Crusades. The Inquisition. Hitler. Serbia. Myanmar vs. Rohingya. And it goes on…

  7. “In other words, if you take the position that the Genesis accounts of creation and Noah’s Flood are wrong but the gospel accounts of Jesus and His resurrection are true, where do you draw the line? Do you accept Abraham, Moses, and David? On what basis? I couldn’t answer these questions, and it troubled me.”

    See the authoritarianism peeping through? All or nothing, true or – not “false” – but true or WRONG.

    In reality, all human accounts of everything whatsoever are neither. How close they are to factual reality is a matter of degree, not absolute values. Objective evidence, plus understanding of human minds, will lead to at least an informed opinion, with allowances for how close the account is to the events in time and place, what is known of the author(s) and their interests, how much cultural diffusion and what other transmitters there were, and other factors.

    But authoritarians see the world in black and white, and also in moral terms. For them, the accounts are either true or wrong, when they may be either, or neither, or both, in varied degrees. This one does not see how much this misconception warps his understanding of reality, probably because he can’t.

    And so he arrives at ICR, the fountainhead of creationist authoritarianism. He looks back at his journey thence, and thinks he sees it clearly. But of course he is subject to the same tendency as any narrator. By the simple act of narrating, he creates narrative. And the rest follows.

  8. Did he compute the probability that God would create this universe out of the limiless number of possibilities open to him?

    In his wide-ranging studies, did he cow across an explanation for the variety of life as an alternative to evolution?

  9. Michael Fugate

    The proper reply to Doug:
    Some people have made the mistake of seeing Shunt’s work as a load of rubbish about railway timetables, but clever people like me, who talk loudly in restaurants, see this as a deliberate ambiguity, a plea for understanding in a mechanized world. The points are frozen, the beast is dead. What is the difference? What indeed is the point? The point is frozen, the beast is late out of Paddington. The point is taken. If La Fontaine’s elk would spurn Tom Jones the engine must be our head, the dining car our oesophagus, the guard’s van our left lung, the cattle truck our shins, the first-class compartment the piece of skin at the nape of the neck and the level crossing an electric elk called Simon. The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? It’s over there in a box. Shunt is saying the 8.15 from Gillingham when in reality he means the 8.13 from Gillingham. The train is the same only the time is altered. Ecce homo, ergo elk. La Fontaine knew his sister and knew her bloody well. The point is taken, the beast is moulting, the fluff gets up your nose. The illusion is complete; it is reality, the reality is illusion and the ambiguity is the only truth. But is the truth, as Hitchcock observes, in the box? No there isn’t room, the ambiguity has put on weight. The point is taken, the elk is dead, the beast stops at Swindon, Chabrol stops at nothing, I’m having treatment and La Fontaine can get knotted.

  10. @No doubt Rsg is aware of the IDiot cop out when confronted with

    “If you are going to say God did it,”
    This part is supposed to be science.

    “you have to specify which god. ”
    That part is theology.

    @TomS shows off his understanding of high school math:

    “Did he compute the probability that God would create this universe out of the limiless number of possibilities open to him?”
    That probability approaches zero and hence is always smaller than the probability of that single functional protein.

  11. “In other words, if you take the position that the Genesis accounts of creation and Noah’s Flood are wrong but the gospel accounts of Jesus and His resurrection are true, where do you draw the line? Do you accept Abraham, Moses, and David? On what basis?”

    Good question. You answer it by looking at the archaeological evidence. Exodus is clearly fiction, so anything before that is highly dubious. There is one treaty stone referring to the house of DWD, so David may be historical, and I think he is because otherwise why would anyone have portrayed such an adulterous murderous doubledealing side-changing mercenary as the Book of Samuel gives us?

  12. OK! He used science to determine that gawd did it! Just how does this get you to the Big Book o’BS as true??? Oh! Right ! Childhood & cultural brainwashing…typical!

  13. @Paul Braterman
    Where does one draw the line in Bible history?
    Of course, there may a mixture of fiction and fact, throughout any historical account. There was a real Troy, but no real judgement of Paris, no real wolf nurse for Romulus and Remus, a real Rome, etc.
    If one is interested in such questions, there is an extensive literature available.
    Yale University has open class lectures available online, and one may be interested in The Introduction to the Bible (Hebrew) by Professor Christine Hayes, or her book based on the course.

  14. Indeed, textual as well as archaeological. Her book is, alas, not in any Glasgow library, but I think I’ll spring £20 to get it

  15. Eddie Janssen

    “I did a crude calculation of the odds of getting a single functional protein by chance.”
    Maybe you should try a crude calculation of the odds of the existence of God.

  16. It’s the same fallacy as the one Feynman pointed out for car number plates. The odds against a particular specified protein are large, but then so is the range of possible proteins that would do the job.

    To which, in the case of proteins, we can add the possibility of point-by-point selection, so that the improbability is additive rather than multiplicative.

    Sad

  17. I did a crude calculation of me winning the lottery, and didn’t buy a ticket. But dang, somebody else won! For Dougie and his ilk it is easier to believe in magic than to try to comprehend deep time.

  18. @Paul Braterman
    IMHO her book is a nice introduction to the Hebrew Bible. You might want to take a look at the online lectures to get an idea whether its level is appropriate for you.

  19. Mere improbability proves nothing. To be considered miraculous, an event must be demonstrably impossible. For example, here’s something I’ve said before: Consider your own existence.

    Human conception is preceded by the release of roughly 20 million sperm per milliliter, and the number of milliliters varies with age and other factors. The average for a healthy young male is estimated to be 300-500 million spermatozoa, per, ah … event. To be on the conservative side, let’s say that a specific human zygote has less than a one-in-100 million chance of being conceived. And that’s for one particular fertile moment for the female. A month earlier or later, the zygote will be different. In other words, dear reader, considering the odds against your turning out to be precisely you, it’s obvious that your existence is quite improbable. Nevertheless, there you are.

    If you go through the same calculation for each of your ancestors, the likelihood of your existence seems to be so improbable as to be almost impossible. But we all exist. So should we run around chanting Oogity Boogity, or should we realize that such is the way of reality — it’s a largely unpredictable sequence of entirely natural events.

  20. About the probability calculations.
    I have tried to explain what is going on by talking about being dealt a rare hand of cards, and the appropriate ways of trying to explain that.
    Suppose I am sitting down to a friendly card game and I am dealt a royal flush: AKQJ10 of spades. The probability that I am dealt that hand out of a well-mixed standard deck of 52 cards is qite low. I’m not going to calculate it, that is too mathematical. I’m just sitting there amazed that that happens. How can I explain that.
    What is clear is that it is the wrong way to explain it by saying that the hand has been dealt by an expanded pack. If I hypothesize that the deck is not only the 52 usual playing cards, but is from a deck which has been add to with a bunch of Uno cards.
    (This is analogous to saying that, in addition to natural causes, we add in supernatural causes. More things are possible with supernatural causes.)
    But as an explanation for my royal flush, it is going the wrong way. The probability of being dealt a royal flush from a deck with 52 ordinary cards plus (however many, I don’t know) Uno cards is less.
    (However slim the probabilities are for natural causes producing something-or-other, the probabilities are far slimmer if we add in supernatural causes.)
    In order to produce a better explanation for getting the royal flush, it is better to suppose fewer cards in the deck. For example, if I suppose that I have a penochle deck of 48 cards, which has two copies of each of the A, K, Q, J, 10, 9 of each of the four suits. Once agai, I’m not going to calculate the odds, except to note that reducing the possibillties increases the probability of getting the “royal flush.”

  21. @PaulB: it’s not the historicity of David that is disputed (for one thing kings have fathers and grandfathers too) but his status. Simplified: was he a king or just a chieftain? Ironically speaking it’s not the historians nor the archeologists who fail to answer that question – it’s radiometrists who cannot provide a conclusive dating of a granule found in a palace in Megiddo. Original sources:

    https://www.haaretz.com/tiny-seeds-could-sprout-biblical-treasure-1.5276330

    https://www.academia.edu/4874316/Toffolo_M._B._Arie_E._Martin_M._A._S._Boaretto_E._Finkelstein_I._2014._Absolute_Chronology_of_Megiddo_Israel_in_the_Late_Bronze_and_Iron_Ages_High-Resolution_Radiocarbon_Dating._Radiocarbon_56_1_221-244

    Summary in Dutch:

    https://mainzerbeobachter.com/2015/07/27/israelische-archeologie/

    What matters is the diagram. There are two peaks. If the second one is correct then no, David was not a king (not a palace). If the first one is correct then he was.

  22. @TomS asks an important question: “Where does one draw the line in Bible history?”
    At the same place with every single source from Antiquity or the Middle Ages. Then it depends whether you’re a maximalist or a minimalist. Maximalists accept sources unless there is evidence that disproves a hypothesis. That evidence often but not always is archeological (eg Archimedes’ mirrors burning down Roman ships was refuted by the Mythbusters ao). A maximalist will maintain that David was a king.
    Minimalists only accept sources when confirmed by evidence. Like Finkelstein they maintain that David was not a king.

    @Our dear SC makes a daring suggestion: “So should we run around chanting Oogity Boogity” (because we exist)?
    I am willing to join you, but only if you promise to keep your clothes on.

  23. FrankB says: “I am willing to join you, but only if you promise to keep your clothes on.”

    Clothes? You wear clothes? You fool!

  24. IMHO, there is not a line to be drawn in time, such that all that is reported after that time is known to be true.
    For example – and I am not defending this, for I am not any more well informed that anybody else – we can accept that there was a King David, and
    it sure sounds plausible that a king would order an inconvenient person to be murdered, but the story of Goliath being killed by David has implausibility about it – being 4 meters tall, and there is another story in the Bible where Elhanan did the deed (I know that there are excuses).

  25. “I did a crude calculation of the odds of getting a single functional protein by chance. The math was overwhelming; it can’t happen without God.”

    Adding to what others have said, Doug should read a book on molecular evolution before repeating that canard. No biologist claims that proteins spontaneously arise fully functional but rather they evolve in a step by step process of mutation and selection from less efficient precursors. No need to invoke a deity. Doug should be made aware, too, that even random assemblies of amino acids into small proteins often have enzymatic function, albeit not very efficient. But, that’s a starting point for selection, and again, no need for a deity.

  26. Michael Fugate

    As Dave points out, they impose a standard on the Bible to which the Bible can’t possibly meet nor was it ever meant to meet. True in all facets – science, history, moral, legal, etc. – or wrong, completely rejected.

    I am fascinated how the authoritarians weasel around this – if God’s morality is objective and unchanging, then why don’t Christians follow the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy to the letter? One strategy is to declare that the laws one doesn’t want to follow as “ceremonial” and those one does as “moral”. It is comically arbitrary and relativistic – the very things they argue against.

  27. @Frank B, thanks. A further English language article here: https://discovermagazine.com/2015/nov/14-witness-to-armageddon

    I’ve cited Finkelstein here before. He dates major biblical writings to the time of King Josiah, and I think Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou of Exeter, whom I saw making a presentation on the importance of Omri and the insignificance of Judah compared with the Northern Kingdom at that time, would agree with him. On the other hand, Gary Rendsburg at Rutgers regards the kingdom of David and Solomon, and their domination of the region as far as Euphrates, as factual, and uses literary content analysis to point out analogies between Genesis and the account of David in 2Samuel.

    This is going to run and run… But I think you would be hard put these days to find a respectable academic in the relevant disciplines regards Moses as historical.

  28. I try to avoid points which are open to contention, such as morality. These tend IMHO to distract from the issue.
    Geocentrism was universally understood for a long, long time to be supported by the Bible. Seriously. A few people thought about alternatives, but no one said that the Bible was only poetical in speaking about geocentrism. Before about 1500. It is not possible to argue rationally that the Bible was written so that anybody could see that it was not geocentric. Nobody noticed that it was obvious. One can argue that it was meant poetically, but not that it was obvious.

  29. Michael Fugate

    But the morality of the Bible is so obviously wrong (even to Christians) that the science is an afterthought.

  30. “But the atheist indoctrination would not let go easily” – I think the indoctrination of Mr Ell took place well before he learned about science and it did a pretty good job.

  31. A lawyer AND a mathematician!!! Now there are some serious scientific credentials.Its a shame he didn’t get an engineering degree also. Crazed.

  32. “I did a crude calculation of the odds of getting a single functional protein by chance. ”

    Nope. Like all creationists Dougie is a big, fat liar trying to fool the rubes with his 50-cent words. I wish him lots of pot luck dinners in the church basement lecture circuit. String bean casserole, mmmmmm, my favorite!

  33. @MichaelF: I’d like to ask Flat Earth David if he believes that bats are birds and that pi equals 3 too.
    Maybe I should register at a FET forum and ask the regulars.

  34. Does his story make me cry. Yes, yes it does. Yet another apparently intelligent human shows himself as susceptible to magical thinking. As our maniac leader says, Sad.

  35. @FrankB
    It isn’t enough that they believe that the Earth is flat?!
    Take a look at their explanation for half of the Earth being in the dark when half is lit by the Sun. The Sun is like a searchlight. As if no one has ever seen a sunrise or sunset on the horizon. OH, I know, there is that magic bending of light that solves all problems.
    Yet I have to say that I still have a lingering admiration to the Flate-Earthers. (Well, “admiration” is too strong a word.) At least they try to address problems, At least they have an alternative: they try to go positive. And they try to be consistent in reading the Bible literally.
    And I have to admit that I haven’t read enough to say much about them.
    Who among us, even you creationist lurkers, have read very much about the Flat Earth? Ask yourself, could you pass a test on what so-and-so had to say about the Firmament?