We’ve been pointing out highlights from James Barham’s The Best Schools interview with design theorist Bill Dembski – who founded this blog – about why he decided to take aim at the Darwin frauds and their Christian enablers, and a bunch of other stuff actually, including religion:
WD: I was raised a nominal Roman Catholic, with strong emphasis on the word “nominal.” I jumped the required hoops at the appointed times (getting my first holy communion at age seven and being confirmed at age 13). We went to mass very sporadically. I rejected many of the standard doctrines, such as the deity of Christ and the reality of hell (I don’t recall what I thought of the resurrection).
In any case, one might think that, upon entering Catholic schools, I would have been indoctrinated into this form of Christianity. But it didn’t happen. I was a thoughtful boy and I had serious religious questions. The nuns at Hardy Prep in Chicago were not interested, it seemed, in answering those questions. I remember, on being confirmed in the eighth grade, that I had to write a letter to the bishop. It was to be a pro forma thank-you letter, but in it I raised some questions about confirmation, indicated that I really didn’t understand what it was all about, and mused that one day I would (which I do now). The nun in charge sent the letter back and had me omit all this questioning, turning the letter into pabulum. Nor did she take me aside to answer my questions.
High school at Portsmouth Abbey, a prep school in Rhode Island, was better, but by then I had veered into Eastern philosophy and what later came to be called the New Age. When I left high school after three years to go to the University of Chicago, I recall being asked in a questionnaire for my religious preference. I put down Hindu. It sounds crazy in hindsight, but religiously that’s where I was. When I left Catholic school after my junior year, I had no intention of returning to Roman Catholicism, or to any form of Christianity for that matter. Christianity, it seemed to me, was completely lacking in power and relevance.
My parents never pushed religion on me. My mother always had an affection for Jesus—as a young girl, she seems to have had a divine encounter. But then in school, reading Hermann Hesse, she lost any traditional Christian belief. My dad would occasionally go to Catholic mass by himself—I think he found some comfort there. But there were a lot of secular elements to his thought. He was never a dogmatic Darwinist, but one of his favorite quotes was Robert Green Ingersoll’s “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.”
It wasn’t until two years after leaving high school in 1979 that the claims of Christianity became pressing for me. Although I was never an atheist, my biggest problem religiously was seeing how God could make a meaningful connection with humanity. God was perfect, humans were in a condition of suffering. How could God really know what we were experiencing? It was in pondering that question that the Incarnation of Christ finally made sense to me. Even while attending Catholic schools, I had consciously rejected the deity of Christ. God becoming human in Jesus suddenly answered my deepest question.
It was shortly thereafter that I become a Christian. That happened in broadly evangelical circles. I’ve moved in these circles ever since.
Next: Dembski discovers Darwin’s awesome big cultural noise machine.
See also: Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers #1
Why Bill Dembski took aim against the Darwin frauds and their enablers Part 2