Four items appear bellow:
1 From Atheism
2 Bergman Encouraging and Convincing, Eric Bruton
4 Regarding John
From Atheism to Theism
(Investigator 91, 2003 July)
As far back as I
can remember, I have always had a strong interest in science. My
father, a electrical engineer graduate of Wayne State University in
Detroit, often brought home a variety of scientific instruments that he
used in conjunction with his scientific research work and outside
projects. Our basement was cluttered with books, chemicals, machinery,
and general scientific paraphernalia, and my father would often show me
the purpose of an instrument or the theory behind its use. He
designed a variety of science teaching tools, one of which, an 8 by 10
foot silk-screened periodic table, was for years in general use at
Wayne State University and many other universities around the country.
When in the
sixth grade, I took a great interest in astronomy, space travel, and
related topics. As a result of this interest I formed an "astronomy
club." My teacher, Mrs. Flickinger, was very supportive of my science
interest and allowed me to make several presentations to other classes
on astronomy and space travel. One of the teachers was so pleased
with our astronomy club activities that she called our local paper, the
Royal Oak Tribune, to feature an article about the club, of which I was
then president. The Tribune ran the article and, as a result, I was
privileged to make a presentation before the Parent-Teacher Association
(PTA) and answer their many questions about astronomy and space
science. From this experience I decided I wanted to be a science
professor. I continued to have a great interest in science
throughout high school and college.
Because in the
eighth grade we were on half days, I was able to come in early for two
or three hours each morning to work in the junior high school science
lab with my science teacher, Mr. Courtney. This experience proved of
great benefit, and earned me several recognition awards for science
extra curricular activities. My interest began to widen out
somewhat in high school and I joined the yearbook and school paper
staff, doing some writing, layout work and a great deal of
I was eventually
appointed chief photographer and, also at this time, started doing some
freelance photography for the local newspapers and general portraiture
and weddings. Also, while still in high school, I started working
at a small Royal Oak hospital called Oakland Center Hospital.
Work at this hospital alerted me to the enormous sufferings that humans
are obliged to undergo, and it is here that I developed an interest in
medicine. I started out teaching at the elementary level, then in a
high school and, eventually, the community college level and, finally,
at a university at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Most of
my teaching was in science, from a high school science teacher and,
later, a college biology professor (I have taught at the college level
for over 30 years now).
I was an active
Jehovah's Witness for over 20 years of my life, from around age 10 to
age 30. One of my aunts became a Witness in the 1940s and, later, my
mother converted in the middle 1950s, and, last, my other aunt became a
Witness. As a result most of my immediate family became Witnesses. I
was for this reason raised around this faith, and soon become very
involved. I was eventually appointed a servant (a book study conductor
and ministerial school servant) a position later called "elders"). I
even did some writing and research for the Watchtower writing
department. My study of the Watchtower, first undertaken to defend
them, eventually caused me to doubt the truth of Watchtower teachings.
Then came a crisis of conscience. When I left the Watchtower (another
long story) I was totally disillusioned with all religion, the Bible,
and God. I became very involved in atheist groups, and even became the
faculty adviser to University atheists.
When leaving the
Witnesses, I found out so many things that I "knew" with confidence
were true were, in fact, not true. Thus, in building a world-view that
was based on reality (and not myth or the ideas of people), I had to
begin somewhere. All too many ideas I learned from bitter experience
were nothing more than wishful thinking, such as many of those that
were part of Watchtower theology.
Like the famous
philosopher Rene Descartes, I was forced to make a fresh start—to doubt
virtually everything. Everything my textbooks and teachers told me, and
all my cherished beliefs. Descartes concluded that the only things he
did not need to doubt was that he himself existed ("I think, therefore
I am"), that the external world exists, and that God existed. These
were the starting points of Descartes's famous philosophy. In contrast,
I began only with I and the external world existed, and then endeavored
to build up from this point. Descartes then taught that to prove
anything, one must start, not with faith, but with doubt. As
happened with Descartes, I too, in my thirty-year quest, reached
orthodox Christian theological conclusions.
I too began with the idea that the entire world behaved mechanically
and could be understood only by the laws of science (or at least this
was for me a viable beginning point). The period of doubt, though,
would be for me also a period of growth. I no longer would accept
what I was told as a young man, but would research and question each
basic assumption that I held. I began researching the foundational
belief, whether God exists. There were only two basic explanations for
the existence of the created world and life; that these things were
created by an outside intelligence or they were not. Since I
concluded that the external world exists, the only other possibility
was that they created themselves (i.e. naturalistic evolution).
point, consequently, was naturalism versus theism, the great question
that all else hinges on when building a world view. My interest in
creationism stemmed from my interest in science. If evolutionism (often
called Darwinism or neoDarwinism) was true, my question was answered.
There is no need for God and, thus, he probably does not exist (and if
he does, he is irrelevant in the affairs of humans). Thus began my
quest to determine whether or not evolutionism was true. I realized
this was an enormous subject that would take a lifetime of study, but I
optimistically concluded that it could be answered (or at least I would
try to answer the question). This was an assumption, but I had to begin
Since I had
become disillusioned with the Watchtower, and found them to be anything
but honest, I distrusted any and all religious literature (even on the
topic of creation/evolution). I had read some of this material
before, but most all of my reading and studying for college was
material that had been written by evolutionists. I even wanted to name
my son after Ashley Montague, the famous anthropologist who had written
many books that I had read (my wife did not like that name, and so we
went with her choice, the biblical Aaron which we spelled Aeron).
I began with the
most basic evidence for evolution, that found in standard college
biology textbooks in the chapters on evolution (I used the textbook
that I had used in college). I assumed that the author had
carefully studied the subject and had outlined in his textbook the most
powerful (and most well supported) proofs of evolutionism. I also
consulted other textbooks and found the same set of proofs were common
to most all of them. I also reviewed many books on evolution, and from
them outlined the chief evidence for evolution. This evidence included
vestigial organs, homology, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,
beneficial mutations, evidence of poor design, the fossil record,
atavisms, nascent organs, the argument from imperfection, natural
selection, microevolution versus macroevolution, the so-called flaws in
design, shared genetic errors, the backward retina, junk DNA, and other
if evolutionism was true, it soon became apparent that some questions
were more difficult to answer than others. Of the set of proofs
that I encountered, I concluded that the easiest one to answer would be
"do vestigial organs exist?" At one time it was claimed that over
130 vestigial organs existed in humans, and I knew that the list had
been shortened since then. I selected the examples I commonly found and
began the library research using only secular academic literature
(which I wrongly concluded then was unbiased) to determine whether or
not these structures were, in fact, vestigial. I reasoned that this
would be an easy question to answer because all I had to do is find out
if these organs have a clear and important function, or if they were
useless, serving no function what-so-ever (or served functions that
were important in an evolutionary ancestor, but were unnecessary, or
worse deleterious, today in humans).
One by one, I
found clear, important, functions for most all of the putative
vestigial organs commonly listed in humans—loss of some were actually
life threatening, such as the thymus and pineal gland. I found the
claims that many examples were vestigial was due to poor scholarship
and lack of awareness of the relevant medical or biological literature,
such as the plica semi similunaris. This research eventually
resulted in a paper that I presented at an American Scientific
Affiliation conference. This research later resulted in several
published papers and, eventually, a full-length book. After
several years of research, my list dwindled to nothing (at least for
humans) and so I began working on animals, and largely found the same
thing (although much less is known about animal structures, and thus
less research is available, consequently, some of these areas cannot be
I then selected
the next topic and again delved into the secular literature, producing
several articles, monographs, or book chapters on my findings.
Slowly, but surely, I was able to eliminate all of the main arguments
used to support evolutionism by researching secular literature only
(and I am still working on further refining my research). This is why
the reviewers noted in my early papers on creationism that I did not
cite any creationist sources (and often had to add them after the paper
was accepted "to acknowledge creationist research in this area").
At some point I crossed the line, realizing the case against
evolutionism was overwhelming and, conversely, the case in favor of the
alternative, creationism, was likewise overwhelming. My research
eventually caused me to reject the macroevolution scenario based on
mutations as the ultimate source of the original genetic information
from which natural selection selected.
If this is the
case, why are there so many evolutionists? It is my conclusion that the
reason is because many are true believers, just as the Witnesses are
(Hoffer, 1951). I had vividly experienced this mind set in the
Watchtower: when I presented a concern to the brothers, they would
rationalize the concern away (or argue that it was of no importance).
When I would show them documentation in the literature (such as the
many changes in Watchtower teaching) they would rationalize it as the
light getting "brighter and brighter" as the end of this old world (and
the start of the new) comes closer. When I showed them that the changes
were often back and forth, they would dismiss this concern by such
rationalizations as "Jehovah's organization is teaching untruths in
order to test the loyalty of his people!" Although many Witnesses
became disillusioned and left (most all of my friends and all of my
family eventually left), there is a core set of true believers for whom
no amount of information will dissuade them from their beliefs. Despite
the devastating case against the Watchtower, they still have around ten
evolutionists are true believers in the full sense of the word, most of
whom have heard only one side in college or from the mass media (and
very few of whom are aware of the weight of the evidence on the other
side). Unfortunately, few people have the time or inclination to
carefully investigate the case against Darwinism. Many people have,
though. I have in my library over 5,000 books and monographs written by
people critical of Darwinism—many were written by Ph.D. level
scientists who are not creationists (or even Christians). And,
unfortunately, the mainline churches tend to uncritically accept social
convention, which today is evolutionism (a conformity that gets them in
much trouble when fads change or when a fad proves wrong). In
Nazi Germany very few churches (and very few "Christians") openly spoke
out against Naziism and the Holocaust, as has now been well documented
(see Zahn, 1964 and 1962). Likewise, today the administration of most
mainline churches openly support the naturalistic atheistic world view
preached by Darwinists and oppose the overwhelming scientific case for
an active creator theism (Johnson, 1995).
that moved me to the creationist side was the under handed, often
totally unethical, techniques that evolutionists typically used to
suppress dissonant ideas, primarily creationism (Bergman, 1996). Rarely
did they carefully and objectively examine the facts, but usually
focused on suppression of creationists, denial of their degrees, denial
of their tenure, ad hominem attacks, and, in general, irrational
attacks against their person. In short, their response in general
was totally unscientific and one that reeks of intolerance, even hatred.
My review of the
anti-creationist literature has forced me to conclude that it is, in
general, appalling, not only because few anti-creationist writers
understand the creation movement, but because most try to prove their
point by using rhetorical techniques much as a debater would merely to
win arguments. This method is very limited in helping a person
determine what is, in fact, true, and is too much like the arguments
that I rejected when I left the Witnesses. I actually found much
similarity between evolution true believers and the Witness true
believers. Only by letting the facts speak can reality be determined.
True believerism, whether displayed by Witnesses or Darwinists,
prevents the facts from speaking for themselves and, ultimately,
prevents understanding reality.
Bergman, Jerry. 1984. The Criterion; Religious Discrimination in America. Richfield, MN: Onesimus Publishing.
______________. 2002. "Religion and Medicine: The Christian Science Holocaust." Humanist in Canada, 140:12-17, Spring.
Gruss, Edmond C. 2002. Jehovah's Witnesses: Their Claims, Doctrinal Changes and Prophetic Speculation. What Does the Record Show? Fairfax, VA: Xulon Press.
Hoffer, Eric. 1951. The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. New York: Harper and Row.
Johnson, Phillip E. 1995. Reason in the Balance; The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Zahn, Gordon. 1962. German Catholics and Hitler's Wars; A Study in Social Control. New York: Sheed and Ward.
___________ 1968. In Solitary Witness; The Life and Death of Franz Jaegerstaetter. Boston, MA: Beacon Press (paperback edition).
BERGMAN—ENCOURAGING AND CONVINCING
(Investigator 92, 2003 September)
I found Jerry
Bergman's article "From Atheism to theism" (No. 91, July issue) very
encouraging, particularly regarding experiences with Jehovah's
Witnesses (J.W.) and the creation/evolution debate.
Not that I have
personally been a member of the J.W. organisation, but as a Christian
in the mainstream tradition, I have had many discussions with them,
mainly about their claim to be the "only true religion". They are
indeed "true believers", closing their minds when presented with facts
demonstrating the errors their organization has propagated – e.g. their
many false predictions about the "end of the world". Bergman makes an
interesting comparison with J.W. and evolutionary "true believers".
I once held to a "theistic evolutionary" position – mainly by default. I simply had not
had any other position honestly and fairly presented to me throughout
my education. I can still remember first hearing the term "creationist"
– long after leaving school. My reaction was… "how can anyone be a
creationist?? Hasn't evolution been proven by scientific facts??"
investigating this issue, I am now appalled by the way evolution is
presented as the "only scientific explanation" for the origins of life.
Evolution is not science; it is belief, just as much as creationism is.
I also share Bergman's concern with the way this naturalistic belief is
so propagated by the mainstream churches. Well we may criticize the
Jehovah's Witnesses for their false teachings – the traditional
churches are just as guilty with their (our?) support for this unproven
many scientific objections to evolution – they are plentiful and
convincing. It is simply not good enough for evolutionists to try to
dismiss creationism as "unscientific" while claiming that their view is
consistent with science. They are indeed "true believers" – and as
such, should be challenged to open their minds to other views.
John H. Williams
(Investigator 93, 2003 November)
Bergman's latest (Investigator #91), I express my strong disagreement
with his most provocative views. It will surprise no-one that I am
infuriated at his continued policy of broadly generalized criticism of
"appalling" evolutionists without spelling out, despite repeatedly
ignored requests from me, 'chapter and verse' on his version of
creationism, known as Intelligent Design (ID). In his penultimate
sentence he tells us that "reality can be determined" only by
"letting the facts speak": for the nth and last time, would he please
tell us his version of "the facts"?!
I'm forced to
conclude that he hasn't read my criticisms, or, if he has, he's ignored
them, and just kept sending our editor new or old bits from his
voluminous writings. I'm trying to be as critical and as provocative as
possible in the forlorn hope that he will stop 'teasing' us, and tell
us precisely how it all happened, over what length of time, accompanied
by supporting evidence.
Having read a
great deal, via Kotwall and Stett, of the Witnesses, one can't help
feeling sympathetic towards someone who endured twenty years as a JW.
That Bergman has flirted with atheism does not give him any special
prescience in comparing creationism with evolutionary ideas. It seems
that he's regressed to a previous state, in which it's necessary to
summon-up a deity. I think that he would have been more comfortable in
seventeenth century 'Italy', writing long dissertations to Pope Urban
about how Galileo's scientific 'brinkmanship' was contrary to this bit
or that bit of the Bible. (Galileo was forced to write about
Copernican ideas as if it weren't so that the Earth orbited the Sun,
that it was a theory only. Galileo's Daughter,
by Dava Sobel, Fourth
travel the other way, from 'belief' (or some version of
accepting/absorbing initial enculturation) to non-belief which can be
passive (non-attendance, not saying prayers, not ensuring that their
children have a church/religious upbringing), or more active, viz many
of the Investigator's contributors and those who write letters to our
print media arguing against the supernatural, the silly and the
In my piece,
Denizens of Unintelligent Design-Land (# 89), I referred to those who
were "able, literate and influential", such as Dr Bergman.
As I've said
before, he can't be held responsible for the weird attempts to
denigrate and misrepresent the scientific process. I have an excellent
example of this called "Big Daddy",
produced by Chick Publications of
California (http://chick.com). Unsurprisingly, it contains the crudest
stereotypes and the most scientifically illiterate 'arguments':
"appalling" stuff! It portrays a 'debate' between a 'teacher' who
name-calls angrily, threatens, rants while berating a polite young
student who challenges evolutionary ideas. Its last page has a
discussion between four students, one of whom (Person B ) has just
'seen off' the teacher:
Person A: Then man killed the Creator, if Jesus is God in the flesh.
Person B: Right!
Jesus came to earth to shed his blood and die on the cross for you, to
wash away your sins, so you could have eternal life with Him.
Person C: Then we didn't evolve! The system has been feeding us THE BIG LIE! We really do have a soul!
Person D: What happens if I die without believing this?
Person B: Then you die in your sins – and be eternally lost.
This booklet is
available world-wide, and is designed for young people in the hope of
reinforcing their creationism, or causing them to doubt what they're
learning in Science. I ask Dr Bergman directly, would he be a supporter
of such crass pseudoscience, or not? Is it so that this kind of 'pulp
fiction' is yet another case of the means justifying the ends?
I take exception, as someone who is very strongly persuaded by evolutionary ideas, to being compared to Witnesses!
In Australia, 'True Believers' were those who were committed to the ethos and ideals
of the Australian Labor Party, and thus were unable to see their
party's flaws and errors, becoming political dinosaurs with little to
cling to but their fierce and unyielding pride in a just and noble
cause. I would argue that this "believerism" is rampant in the ranks of
those espousing creationism and that it's not typical of many
evolutionary thinkers. We don't need to use "rhetorical techniques" to
make our point: we can use evidence as I do routinely as a teacher of
Geology. It's quite late in my career, so maybe someone can explain,
with empirical evidence, how I've been 'misleading' my students in
matters palaeontological/stratigraphical? No biblical passages, please.
I'm content to
let other Earthlings believe what they may, but when certain beliefs
find their way into material designed for children, I'll develop an
anti-creationist stance: because of the use of lies and pseudoscience.
I, like scientists and teachers world-wide, have become increasingly
active in countering their nonsense.
Instead of the
sweeping generalities of Dr Bergman's previous pieces referring to
creationism, could we have his critiques of the work of, for example,
Richard Dawkins and Steven Gould? Is it at all possible that Dr Bergman
deal in specifics, and, if not, what are the reasons why he can't or
won't? On his previous 'form', I think we're in for a long wait!
REGARDING JOHN H. WILLIAMS
(Investigator 94, 2004 January)
I wish to
respond to John Williams (#93) but want to deal with one concern at a
time so I can adequately document my position. I thought I would start
with his comments about Galileo.
I will respond
to the key issues only, and ignore silly comic books such as the Big
Daddy example (which I do not support but no one has bought millions of
my books as they have from Chick so I may be in the minority here).