And now onto the details of my conversion. From an early age, I was fascinated with astronomy, science and physics. I loved watching videos of Dr. Carl Baugh and Kent Hovind, which supported my view of creationism and the young earth theory. They gave me all the information I thought I needed to know about the earth’s history. But somethings just didn’t make sense. For example, in Genesis, it states that God created the sun, the moon and the stars on the fourth day of creation but in the book of Job, it states that when God was forming the earth, the stars rejoiced watching the creation. So which narrative was the correct one? I stumbled across many such contradictions. If I couldn’t make sense of the contradiction, I willingly remained ignorant to that fact and ignored its existence. If something was supported by science, then science finally got it right. If science contradicted something, then I quite literally figured that science had it wrong and had yet to discover the truth. I believed that the Bible was the word of God and nothing could change that for me; no scientific evidence. I was so closed to that belief.
For several years, I suffered from an inner turmoil. I wanted to explain away all the contradictions. I wanted the “truth” in the Bible to prevail. I went to multiple Bible study groups led by very knowledgeable individuals, hoping they could give me the answers I was seeking. I researched everything I possibly could on the internet; I prayed diligently for hours for God to open my mind the truth behind biblical mysteries. I wanted to solve the riddle of the book of Revelations. I just “knew” that one day, I would have a “eureka” moment from God and everything would make sense and I could shout from the roof tops the true meaning of the written word. But I never received the answer I prayed for. Or maybe I did get the answer I prayed for but it was so different than what I expected. Maybe this new knowledge is the truth. If God existed, why would he purposely hide his knowledge from men that seek to find it?
Fast forward several years and I ran into more and more people that I could discuss with the discrepancies I was seeing. My brother-in-law for a long time had gently pushed scientific evidence my way and slowly I began opening my mind. My wife also had been going through her own religious journey over the past few years. She had given up on religion all together at one point and came back with a different belief in God than what she was raised to believe in. She supported me and encouraged me to pursue my own truth, to get away from what I was raised to believe in blindly and find the right path for myself. Very cautiously, I started reading the Bible with less bias and trying to read the Bible from a different, non-religious point of view. And then, I started to connect the dots and my journey really started!
At first, I was overwhelmed with the amount of information and evidence available to me. I had so much catching up to do and so many things to learn! One of the first things I opened my mind to is the historical evidence of the Biblical writings. For example this one fact that is taught in most universities and seminaries: the first five books of Moses, or the Pentateuch, were not written by Moses but by many people at different times throughout history. Historians can trace and follow the different writing patterns of each writer and see how each book was put together. There are so many discrepancies and it is evident that the books were pieced together over time, which would explain why there are two different creation stores in the book of Genesis. I will come back to more historical evidence later on.
But what I also noticed is the discrepancies in the portray of God and his attitude towards people. One passage states that God rewards those who are righteous, another passage states that His actions are not influenced by our deeds, and yet another says that the evil prosper while the righteous suffer. Some will say that God doesn’t care about evil, sinful people and has let them live in peace until they go to hell after they die, but the righteous are suffering because God is teaching them a lesson since they are His children and he wants them to learn. Why would God be this way, I asked myself! What possible “lesson” could God be teaching poor children around the world with hunger and disease? And what “lesson” did the Israelites teach the Canaanites with their brutal slaughter and annihilation? These are the types of questions that I ran into; these are the questions that I had silenced over the years with my willful ignorance. I didn’t want to find concrete answers before this.
I dug deeper into scientific literature, research and information. I read extensively on human genetics and the function of DNA; how evolution is being explained in modern terms and what evidence is there to support it; how radiometric dating works. One of the first things I researched and something that also kick-started my journey was the history of the Neanderthals. Scientists doing genetic decoding have discovered that several homo species intermixed, including the current human species and Neanderthals, about fifty-thousand years ago. Scientists have also mapped the entire human genome and our genetic information can be traced back nearly 200,000 years, to our first Homo sapiens ancestor. That means we’ve been around a lot longer than the 6,000 years that the Bible states and we have our diverse genetic background as evidence.
Many creationists try to twist the facts behind radiometric dating methods to showcase the flaws of the system. Their statements are usually along the lines of: since a few readings were in accurate, the whole system is useless and the earth is not millions of years old. I used to believe in this too, after listening to hours of Kent Hovind. Then, I educated myself in the science behind it. Scientists use radiometric dating along with stratigraphic principles and geochronology, meaning they first try to establish the age of the matter or object based on its location in the earth’s layers. Then they use the appropriate dating method such as radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon and uranium-lead dating. Carbon dating is just one very limited dating method, with a very short range of accuracy between 58,000 to 62,000 years, which automatically doesn’t make it to reliable for dating older objects such as fossils. Scientists are aware of these limitations and usually test important materials using several dating methods.
I researched both sides – for and against all of these new ideas for me. But the more I researched, the more I came to the conclusion that there is very little evidence to support what I had been raised to believe. Supporting evidence for evolution was overwhelming and it closed many gaps that my conservative creationist theory did not. I realized that in the past, instead of researching scientific theories, I simply attributed everything that I didn’t understand to “God’s work”. The more gaps in my theory that I began to fill with science, the less of those gaps I attributed to God. And the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Abate, not perfectly, but definitely more than they had ever before. I’m not taking God completely out of the equation, just stating that maybe God wasn’t involved in the constructive or destructive processes of our earth from the beginning to get us to where we are today.
Let me give you an example you will probably laugh at: in ancient times, some of our ancestors thought that during a solar eclipse, a giant wolf was stealing the sun and if they yelled loud enough and sacrificed enough, the wolf would go away. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Now we know a solar eclipse is an astronomical event and no wolves are involved. Same goes to many ecological events that occur today. Earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning and thunder and many other occurrences we now know how they function and what causes them. We don’t attribute them to a higher power or spiritual deities. So why do many conservative Christians avoid evolution instead of accepting the scientific evidence? When I finally let go of my fear, I discovered overwhelming evidence for evolution. Sediment layers especially fascinated me; how the layers accumulated and how the older, more primitive species are found deeper in the earth. The K-T boundary, an iridium-rich geo layer dating to the dinosaur extinction event, is especially significant to human ancestral history. No Homo species or ancestors or primate has ever been found to be buried below that boundary, in contrary to the new earth theory that suggests humans and dinosaurs coexisted.
Today, environmentalists blame human activity for the extinction of many species but species have been going extinct for millions of years before humans even appeared. Although there are 10–14 million species of life currently on Earth, more than 99 percent of all species that ever lived on the planet are extinct. This includes the Neanderthals and two other Homo species that coexisted with our ancestors around 50,000 years ago. Since life began on Earth, several major mass extinctions have significantly exceeded the background extinction rate. Estimates of the number of mass extinctions in the last 540 million years range from as few as five to more than twenty.
“In a landmark paper published in 1982, Jack Sepkoski and David M. Raup identified five mass extinctions. They were originally identified as outliers to a general trend of decreasing extinction rates during the Phanerozoic, but as more stringent statistical tests have been applied to the accumulating data, the “Big Five” cannot be so clearly defined, but rather appear to represent the largest (or some of the largest) of a relatively smooth continuum of extinction events.
- Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event (End Cretaceous, K-T extinction, or K-Pg extinction): 66 Ma at the Cretaceous(Maastrichtian)-Paleogene(Danian) transition interval. The K–T event is now officially called the Cretaceous–Paleogene (or K–Pg) extinction event in place of Cretaceous-Tertiary. About 17% of all families, 50% of all genera and 75% of all species became extinct. In the seas it reduced the percentage of sessile animals to about 33%. All non-avian dinosaurs became extinct during that time. The boundary event was severe with a significant amount of variability in the rate of extinction between and among different clades. Mammals and birds emerged as dominant land vertebrates in the age of new life.
- Triassic–Jurassic extinction event (End Triassic): 201.3 Ma at the Triassic–Jurassic About 23% of all families, 48% of all genera (20% of marine families and 55% of marine genera) and 70% to 75% of all species went extinct. Most non-dinosaurian archosaurs, most therapsids, and most of the large amphibians were eliminated, leaving dinosaurs with little terrestrial competition. Non-dinosaurian archosaurs continued to dominate aquatic environments, while non-archosaurian diapsids continued to dominate marine environments. The Temnospondyl lineage of large amphibians also survived until the Cretaceous in Australia (e.g., Koolasuchus).
- Permian–Triassic extinction event (End Permian): 252 Ma at the Permian–Triassic Earth’s largest extinction killed 57% of all families, 83% of all genera and 90% to 96% of all species (53% of marine families, 84% of marine genera, about 96% of all marine species and an estimated 70% of land species, including insects). The evidence of plants is less clear, but new taxa became dominant after the extinction. The “Great Dying” had enormous evolutionary significance: on land, it ended the primacy of mammal-like reptiles. The recovery of vertebrates took 30 million years, but the vacant niches created the opportunity for archosaurs to become ascendant. In the seas, the percentage of animals that were sessile dropped from 67% to 50%. The whole late Permian was a difficult time for at least marine life, even before the “Great Dying”.
- Late Devonian extinction: 375–360 Ma near the Devonian–Carboniferous At the end of the Frasnian Age in the later part(s) of the Devonian Period, a prolonged series of extinctions eliminated about 19% of all families, 50% of all genera and 70% of all species. This extinction event lasted perhaps as long as 20 million years, and there is evidence for a series of extinction pulses within this period.
- Ordovician–Silurian extinction events (End Ordovician or O-S): 450–440 Ma at the Ordovician–Silurian Two events occurred that killed off 27% of all families, 57% of all genera and 60% to 70% of all species. Together they are ranked by many scientists as the second largest of the five major extinctions in Earth’s history in terms of percentage of genera that went extinct.
- “The Holocene extinction, sometimes called the Sixth Extinction, is a name proposed to describe the currently ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (since around 10,000 BCE) mainly due to human activity. The large number of extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. Although 875 extinctions occurring between 1500 and 2009 have been documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the vast majority are undocumented. According to the species-area theory and based on upper-bound estimating, the present rate of extinction may be up to 140,000 species per year.”