As a young adult venturing into the field of science communication, I’ve become fascinated with understanding communities that foster antagonistic views toward science. When I first learned about fundamentalism, my parents’ behavior finally made sense. It is the foundation of the Religious Right, a right-wing Christian group which heavily influences the Republican party in the United States. The Religious Right crusades against secular education, stem cell research, abortion, evolution, and other controversial issues in science and medicine on the basis that they contradict Christian beliefs. They are quietly overturning the separation of church and state in order to enforce their religion as policy — at the expense of science and progress.
Growing up in this community, I learned that strong feelings about these issues arise from both a lack of science literacy and a distrust of experts. Sarah Olson, “My Parents Raised Me to Be a Science Denier, So I Educated Myself” at Leapsmag
Our Danish friend Karsten Pultz, author of Exit Evolution, read the dramatic story above of the flight from fundamentalism and responded by publishing his own account of how he escaped science denial. It is a somewhat different story, an excerpt from his book, translated into English:
When I was 7 or 8 years old, my father told me that in the old days, people believed that God had created life on earth. But since then we had become wiser, and science had now discovered that life came about by itself. It had been evolving for millions of years, and that man, in fact, descended from monkeys.
My father added that scientists only needed to find a certain fossil, the missing link between ape and man before they definitively had proven Darwin’s theory to be right. Who wouldn’t be impressed in such a situation, where Dad talks to you like you were an adult and shares with you groundbreaking scientific discoveries?
I certainly was impressed, and immediately convinced because just the similarities between humans and monkeys made clear to me that such an evolution must have taken place; it was pure logic. It very much made sense to me that science could uncover truths that mankind previously was unaware of, because, despite my young age I knew all about the technological progress that has taken place through historical time. I had trust in scientific progress, because as Richard Dawkins says; science works. So understandably I had no reason to doubt that God, creation and every single story in the Bible was nothing but myths that now had been debunked via scientific progress.
From the age of 7 until almost 40, I never encountered arguments against Darwin’s theory and I also never encountered one single person who didn’t believe in it.
Evolution became a regular subject of conversation for my father and me, and I especially remember another “fact” that he presented in my early childhood: In the near future, it will be possible to create artificial life in the laboratory. All over the world, scientists become more and more aware of how the cell works. It is just a matter of time before life can be produced artificially.
I had absolutely no reason to doubt that my father was telling the truth because I could experience the confirmation of all the information he provided me with on TV on a weekly basis. There were not only the many BBC broadcasts with David Attenborough but also nature programs produced by Danish national television which always contained the obligatory references to evolution. Later on, lessons in school followed up with even more confirmation of how splendid and true Darwin’s theory was.
So what went wrong?
Although I was only 7-8 years old, I could already see some problems with the theory. First and foremost, I could see a problem with the evolution of birds and flight. How on earth could wings evolve gradually over thousands or millions of years? Given that the evolution process works so slowly, it would mean that thousands of generations of individuals between dinosaurs and birds, wouldn’t have had fully developed wings and hence couldn’t actually fly. What benefit would a semi-developed wing be to the animal? Or a tenth of a fully developed wing? I spent many hours pondering this question and, fully convinced about evolution as I was, I regarded it as an interesting challenge to fantasize how wings and flight could have come about gradually.
From the age of 7 until almost 40, I never encountered arguments against Darwin’s theory and I also never encountered one single person who didn’t believe in it. The theory of evolution seemed to me a well established scientific theory, with a huge pile of evidence that simply grew bigger day after day as science progressed. It was a science on the same level as nuclear physics, exercised by well-educated men and women who had no bias whatsoever but instead objectively sought the truth about the origin of species.
Oh boy, was I wrong!
Evolution theory, in its most common form, has no room for a spiritual dimension, with some sort of god as an omnipresent principle. I would have had no trouble with the theory if it didn’t insist on reducing all human activity to merely the struggle for survival.
As a young teenager, I became interested in philosophy, literature, and art. I spent a lot of time on music and at the age of 13, decided that I wanted to study at the academy of music. Between the ages of 13 and 17, when I passed the entrance examination, I read many books by great thinkers like Dostojevsky, Voltaire, Nietzche, and Aldous Huxley. At the time, I had a problem with Darwin because the purely materialistic understanding that the theory of evolution imposes on life did not mesh well with the things I was interested in, and found joy and meaning in doing. I simply couldn’t understand how life could be reduced to a sheer fight for survival according to the principles of Darwin. Art, philosophy, the joy over beauty, goosebumps produced by a Brahms piano piece, creativity and loving thy neighbor, were things that suggested to me that there is more to life than the physical world, namely a spiritual dimension.
I was willing to accept the evolutionary explanation of kinship between species, for instance between humans and chimps, but had second thoughts about the materialistic and atheistic interpretation that still is prevalent, where life came about by random chemical processes and evolved into the great variety of life forms we see today, solely by means of unguided natural processes. Evolution theory, in its most common form, has no room for a spiritual dimension, with some sort of god as an omnipresent principle. I would have had no trouble with the theory if it didn’t insist on reducing all human activity to merely the struggle for survival.
Evolution was, as I understood it, a science that pointed towards a godless reality, and other parts of scientific endeavour did the same. (It is worth noting that Denmark is a highly secularized society which has the highest numbers of evolution believers in the world. According to two of the most prominent promoters of evolution, Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne the percentage of Darwin-believing Danes is a whopping 85).
But life goes on and I had other things to do than worry about the philosophical implications of evolution. Suddenly I had a wife and children, a house and a couple of old cars, so my skepticism about evolution faded. Only nature programs on TV with their obligatory nod to evolution, reminded me about the problem. Over the next few decades, it annoyed me when science programs tried to use evolution as a way of explaining why man composes symphonies, writes poems and literature, paints pictures, forms sculptures, cares about his neighbor, rejoices over good, and complains about evil…
The dramatic change in my views on evolution came about after my wife and I decided to home school our three children. It was a very unusual thing to do in Denmark. Only 50 children were homeschooled at that time in the entire country. We chose it in order to have more time with our children and play music together.
As I was searching for educational material, I ran into a branch of physics called quantum physics. Although it was not strictly relevant to my task, it caught my attention. I spent many hours watching lectures on the internet. What I really found exciting was the philosophical implications of quantum physics as described by contemporary physicists. For instance, we have the double slit experiment which shows that reality on the atom level is so weird that a purely materialistic interpretation of the universe is completely hopeless.
I discovered physicists who, through their research, became convinced that mind is more fundamental than matter. Physicists like John Hagelin and Amit Goswami talk about consciousness as primary and matter as secondary, as if matter, in fact, is a product of consciousness. And these two scientists are certainly not the first ones to have suggested that consciousness is more fundamental than matter. The father of quantum physics, Max Planck, who is celebrated as one of the greatest scientists of all time, whose equations are used in universities and in labs all over the world, was of the same opinion. In 1944 Planck said in a famous speech:
Gentlemen, as a physicist who all his life, within the most sober and rational science, has been devoted to the study of matter, I am certain to be free of the suspicion of being a dreamer, and so I say after my research on the atom; matter as such does not exist.
All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force that brings the parts of the atom in vibration, and keeps the smallest solar system of the universe together. As there in the entire universe does not exist an intelligent force, nor an eternal force- man has not yet succeeded in inventing the perpetuum mobile- so must we assume behind this force the existence of a conscious intelligent spirit. This spirit is the basis of all matter. The visible but impermanent matter is not the reality and truth- because without spirit, matter wouldn’t exist at all- but the invisible, immortal spirit is the truth. Because every spirit belongs to a being, we are forced to assume it to be a spiritual being. Because spiritual beings do not come about by themselves, but must be created, I will not hesitate in fact, to call this secretive creator, like people of all cultures through millennia have done, God. Thereby moves the physicist who dealt with matter, from the realm of stuff to the realm of the spirit. And so is our task ended, and we must then pass on the research into the hands of the philosophers. – Quelle: Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797.
It was quite a relief for me to discover that physicists, even some of the greatest, were not pure materialists and that they gave good reasons why they weren’t. I had been used to the idea or— let me just say it straightforwardly—indoctrinated to believe—that science supports a materialistic worldview. That science tells us “There is no God”. Now I was learning that even century-old experiments showed that materialism can’t be true. And a suspicion started to arise in my mind; why hadn’t I heard about these things? Why hadn’t I heard about statements like this one from giant of physicists Werner Heisenberg?: Der erste Trunk aus dem Becher der Naturwissenschaften macht atheistisch; aber auf dem Grund des Bechers wartet Gott. (“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”)
I only learned in school, that Heisenberg was a dangerous fellow who worked on giving the Nazis the A-bomb. That Heisenberg believed in God, not despite his scientific research, but because of it, was never mentioned. Heisenberg even wrote a book titled Physik und Philosophie which ought to be known to all Danish physics teachers. Heisenberg, after all, worked closely together with our own Niels Bohr and even spoke our language.
The more I delved into quantum physics, the more I started to realize that I had been the victim of materialist indoctrination through the educational system and through media. These two main conveyors of information were being run by biased people who made an effort to suppress any worldview other than scientific materialism. I’m grateful that the internet gave me the chance of acquiring knowledge without the materialistic/atheistic filter that information is put through by the academic elite.
My eight years of research on the topic of evolution has confirmed my suspicion, that there is a hidden atheistic agenda among many in the academic elite. It results in a “Berufsverbot” in the field of biology and probably also in other scientific branches, for people who want to question Darwin’s theory. It is sadly common that people who want to question evolution are having their careers ruined, and some even have to face personal harassment in addition to spoiled career opportunities. Discovery Institute, spearhead of the intelligent design movement, has a website where you can read about the consequences for Darwin doubters in academia.
What then was it that made me re-evaluate what I had learned about evolution? Well, in one of the books about quantum physics and the philosophical implications of discoveries made in this area, I stumbled on a sentence about evolution. Professor Amit Goswami writes in “God is not Dead” that there are gaps in the fossil record. What gaps could that be, I thought, I had never heard of any gaps—I had the clear impression that the fossils documented a gradual step by step evolution, that was what I had been told in school.
My curiosity was immediately ignited, and I remembered my anguish when trying to combine a worldview with room for soul and spirituality, with the purely materialistic worldview that is the result of belief in evolution. I thought that if a man who had been a professor of theoretical physics for 30 years could question evolution, then it was worth investigating because such a man could hardly be a complete ignorant fool.
From there everything went quickly. Any investigation is easily conducted today via the internet. I soon discovered a community of scientists and teachers who promote a scientific hypothesis called intelligent design, a competing theory to evolution that claims to have devastating evidence against Darwin’s theory. I also soon learned that these intelligent design people were extremely unpopular among those who adhered to evolution and that they consequently were accused of being creationists and religious fundamentalists with a secret evil agenda, to force a Christian theocracy upon the population. It was, and still is, mainly an American phenomenon and it was some time before I fully had comprehended what was going on. I didn’t know what creationism was; at that time I hadn’t yet met a creationist and couldn’t evaluate the accusations made by ID opponents.
I was thorough in my research. I read books both by proponents of evolution and by the ID scientists and spent several hundred hours watching lectures by educated men on both sides of the debate. I was in daily contact with evolutionists and doubters and engaged in many discussions on the internet. I was primarily debating Americans because the debate is most intense there.
I was surprised at the accusation that I was a creationist, because I took the side of intelligent design. I was raised an agnostic and had been a firm believer in evolution for 35 years, so I could not understand why my newly arisen doubt in evolution, necessarily made me a creationist. For me, the question about for and against evolution was primarily a scientific question. The religious consequences had to wait until the scientific questions were answered.
Slowly but surely I witnessed the unraveling of what I believed to be well-documented science that I had been totally indoctrinated into believing. During the first five years of my investigation, I went through different stages in my relationship with evolution.
The first stage, which I reached rather quickly, was the realization that evolution theory had many large, unsolved problems. But I still was of the opinion that it featured sufficient evidence to be taken seriously. At the next stage, I started to see intelligent design as a much stronger hypothesis but still assumed that there was evidence that spoke strongly in favor of evolution. In the third stage, I began to understand that evolution is a theory built on extremely weak evidence, and none of that evidence shows that only random processes were responsible for creating life. But I still had the impression that there was evidence that could only be explained within an evolutionary framework.
The fourth and last stage took me a long time to reach, maybe two years. At this point, I had come to fully reject evolution as a scientific theory. It took a long time because I still thought there might actually be some evidence up the sleeves of the evolutionists. Maybe I had missed some important arguments. The evolutionists I debated on the internet were very self-confident so it took a while before I felt safe to say that evolution is nothing but a myth based on no evidence at all. It is at best a philosophy and at worst a pseudoscience that only is kept alive because it functions as an extremely important supporting pillar for atheistic ideology. As Richard Dawkins has said, “Evolution makes it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
So this is the conclusion I arrived at after five years of investigation: Evolution never took place and that instead there is a huge amount of evidence for the hypothesis that life is intelligently designed.
See also: Denmark: Slowly developing a conversation about design in nature
Something Is Rotten In The State Of Denmark
Denmark: Perhaps Not So Rotten After All
Swedish Mathematician Explains Why He Sees Design In Nature (And Became A Christian)
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