Breaking the shackles of evolutionary propaganda

One man’s testimony of ‘seeing the light’


Nathan van Ree

Around the beginning of 2015 there was trouble looming in my life. I realised my desire to attend church was completely missing. Perhaps even worse, late in the evenings, discussions between me and my wife often arose about the whole issue of faith. It all seemed to boil down to the question of whether what we heard every Sunday was all true and was written in our Bibles. In fact, the problems started a few years earlier, partly because of a particular Bible translation in Dutch that we had started reading after dinner. It had never occurred to me so much before, but this new translation told things in a plain, understandable way and it hit me—entire peoples being slaughtered, that sort of thing. I couldn’t help feeling that what we were reading wasn’t right. Mind you, we hadn’t reached the New Testament yet. As we continued reading through the Bible, I would get angry occasionally, and pouring out my frustrations on my wife wasn’t, of course, very helpful.

Facing up to the disconnect in my mind

Another, even bigger issue, apart from my doubts about morality in the Bible, was my growing doubt about God even existing. This was no minor thing. I was raised as a Christian and had married a Christian woman (though not knowing that when first meeting her). Now we were raising our two children as Christians as well, so I had a problem. The ‘monster’ of unbelief within me was continuously being fed by what I’d call evolutionary propaganda. Discovery Channel, National Geographic, newspapers, magazines, text books, study books, even entertaining sources such as movies, all were making one thing very obvious: Earth is very, very old and we are the products of millions of years of evolution. Apart from the apparent pointlessness of our existence, that also meant that what was written in the Bible and taught in church could not possibly be true. And if that was the case, there was in fact no reason to believe the God mentioned in the Bible was even real.

Thinking like the Devil’s Advocate, imagining there really was no God I figured that we had come about for no reason at all. Nature must have made itself then. Now, although not being a scientist or even an educated layman at that time,1 I noticed a logical problem here: it would also mean we were wasting very precious time every Sunday morning. From that time on, I became more and more reluctant to attend church. My wife did not share in any of my personal issues and struggles (thank God!) and continued attending church anyway. Fortunately, she bore with me nonetheless. With hindsight, I see this as an example of God’s overruling, but it was obviously not a good situation. Something had to happen.

Atheist encounters

At that time, I hooked up on Facebook with a guy I had known for years. It became clear he had become a militant atheist. I remember clearly that he posted a ten-minute snippet from YouTube of a debate about religion, featuring a man named Sam Harris. My friend added a challenge to the effect, “If you’re a Christian, I doubt you’ll still be one after watching this—if so, you’d have to be a very confident one in my book!” Not surprisingly that got my attention. So I watched the video, and a strange thing happened: I felt defensive. This man Harris, it seemed to me, was merely digging up some very old bones, which to my knowledge had been laid to rest a long time ago already. Apart from that, he was dead wrong. His argument was something like this: ‘If God isn’t doing anything about little children suffering, He’s either incapable of doing so, or a tyrant. Ergo, He couldn’t exist.’ Even I could easily spot the flaw in that argument (see Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?).

When I found the entire debate that the snippet was taken from—which lasted more than two and a half hours—his opponent (Christian apologist, William Lane Craig) was more than his match (but see here). It seemed at that time that a spark of faith was rekindled in me again. I replied to my Facebook friend by simply pointing out Harris’s weak case. That led to a chain reaction of sorts, with him presenting me with one meme or argument against religion after another, most of them very ignorant, some of them even plain silly. The only effect of all this was that I was actually feeling a bit more confident in believing again.

As our discussion continued back and forth, my Facebook friend pointed me to some books that he said I really should read. I remember one was called Nailed, by David Fitzgerald.2 Another was by Christopher Hitchens, whom my Facebook friend seemed to really admire. Not wanting to look weak, I went looking for these books, but I didn’t find them.

Genesis compromises

Instead, feeling that I had to at least read some more about the matter, I went into a bookshop. The first books I got hold of were by Dutch writer Wil van de Bercken and by the Englishman Francis Spufford, both Christians. At the very least, their books made it clear to me that one was not a complete idiot in taking the Bible seriously.

However, these writers also claimed that it was beyond doubt that evolution had been responsible for bringing life into existence, including us human beings. Genesis 1, they said, was not meant to be taken literally. Now that was new to me. I had always just taken it as a straightforward narrative, not realising that I was ‘mistakenly’ reading it literally! But no, ‘intelligent folk’ knew this could not be the right way to read it. After all, science had proven we evolved. I guess that, at that point in time, I conceded this point. I felt relieved in a way because, putting aside all my initial doubts about what the Bible said in its very first verses, I could finally accept the rest of it. Or could I?

No longer having to bother about the tension of a divine creation versus scientific evidence, I went looking for more information and stumbled upon a lecture on YouTube by an astronomer called Hugh Ross. I was flabbergasted. This man somehow managed to underpin what Genesis 1 said with actual science (or so I thought)! I can recall vividly the thrill that gave me. I felt like sharing this lecture with everybody else, it had so stirred me up. Then, roaming YouTube for more, I encountered a discussion between Hugh Ross and some other gentlemen, one of whom was Ken Ham. “No, no, no,” I thought, “What is this man doing?” He tried to take down that marvelous scientific underpinning that had got me so excited, waving his Bible and saying, “Show me the millions of years.” I was confused again. I wanted Hugh Ross to be right.

Around that time, I and my family went to the Christian bookshop in our town. I was still in the middle of fierce discussions with my Facebook friend, so I needed ammunition. I got a book from Richard Dawkins, titled God als misvatting (the translation of The God Delusion), a book by a pastor (David Robertson) countering that, and a book by some Dutch scientists. Certainly, the latter book seemed to present the strongest scientific case; evolutionary science and the millions of years were somehow accepted, but they still managed to argue that God did it. That was what I needed. But then a fourth book caught my eye. It was called Hoe bestaat het!3 and was written by four scientists from abroad. I browsed it a bit, and to my displeasure, these guys were back again at taking Genesis 1 literally—Oh no! However, I ended up with all four books.

Biblical creation—too good to be true?

Of the four books, I started with Hoe bestaat het! I was curious. How on earth would these four scientists—by the names of Don Batten, David Catchpoole, Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati—reconcile Genesis with the scientific knowledge of the real world? This, of course, could hardly be possible; or so I thought. But not only did they make a good case, their story was more logical than what I had heard before. The pieces began to fall into place. The puzzle was far from complete at this stage, but at least there was a sort of new beginning. Genesis 1 now made sense, and the science also—it was no longer a case of, either one or the other.

In spite of this encouragement, it still seemed a bit too good to be true, so I spent time checking their recommended resources. While there were references to original sources, it seemed they chiefly pointed people to a certain website, creation.com. So I went there. And the rest, I’d almost theatrically add, is history. When I looked up creation.com for the first time, I saw an introduction video (a sort of warm welcome to the one visiting for the first time) by the CEO of their US office, Gary Bates. I also was able to download an MP3 file as a welcome gift. I think one of the very first articles I read must have been about the so-called ‘New Atheists’ who my Facebook friend was always talking about. Sam Harris’ arguments were getting pulled apart. Yes indeed.

Why had nobody else I knew seen this stuff? Quite thrilled because of the gold mine of information I had discovered, I loaded the MP3 on my player and listened all the way through before trying to go to sleep. It was a lecture by a geologist named Dr Emil Silvestru and, as he talked to his audience, I wished all the people I knew were there to hear him, especially my Facebook friend—because this man was spot on! The excitement I felt then, I don’t think I’ve experienced since; certainly I could not sleep for the next few hours. Having signed up for the Creation Daily email from creation.com, each containing an article about the creation/evolution issue, I read and kept on reading. Life was looking good again.

Experiencing prejudice—‘like hitting a brick wall’

That summer was a whirlwind. Being as enthusiastic as I was, my wife was the first to be happy about it. But having finally ‘seen the light’, I discovered there was a downside to all this. I kept digging, and in doing so, hit a rock; a very stubborn rock I might add. It seemed that what I’d call ‘the evolutionists’ weren’t impressed by my arguments in the slightest. Even worse, they seemed to have an answer for everything that I thought would be an insurmountable problem for their theory. As a proficient follower of various websites, such as the Facebook page of the Institute for Creation Research, I noticed that every article they posted functioned as a pile of excrement does to flies. Strangely enough, day in and day out, every article attracted people who managed to criticise its content. There were fierce discussions, mocking, ridiculing, or simply pulling some science out of the hat that, they claimed, ‘refuted’ the posted article. Perhaps unwisely, I found myself lost in these discussions. I was so right, and they were so wrong; surely everyone reading my contributions had to know that!

Was this all bad? No, on the contrary. I can say that now, because I learnt from it—a great deal. I learnt scientific claims shouldn’t be made lightly. I also learnt, that what is being written on anti-creation sites such as talkorigins.org often misses the mark, either because of ignorance or deliberately (for example, see Carbon-14 in diamonds: Refuting Talk.Origins). I also learnt that the people being critical were not really looking for answers. They were there to put up a fight. No matter what any creation organisation would write, in the eyes of these protagonists for evolution, the creationists were wrong—and if that couldn’t be demonstrated right now, it soon would be. But in reality, as I found out, the creationists were not wrong.

Having an argument with these folk was like hitting a brick wall. But it forced me to dig into the matter even more, and looking back I’m glad this all happened the way it did. I have learnt a lot about a whole array of issues, such as cosmology, geology or biology, or theology for that matter. I have also learnt how to think in such a way that I am always aware of what the opposition is probably thinking—putting myself in their shoes so to speak. So, in my case at least, I must say this ended up being something very positive.

Reinforcing faith

So why keep digging? I still do so, and it consumes a lot of my time and energy. Why indeed? In the beginning, it was because of having to keep myself convinced. This issue is not to be taken lightly. When Jesus said that those who chose to follow Him would encounter resistance (John 16:33), He meant it. I can now say that I’m firmly convinced of my position. Of course there are still new issues coming up from time to time and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but at least the foundations are clear to me now. Evolution is ‘Darwin’s house of cards’ and I’d recommend that anyone reads the book with that title by Tom Bethell.4 Evolution is only ‘proved’ by first assuming its truth. However, the scientific facts tell a very different story: nested hierarchies, the fossil order, homology, DNA similarity, and so on—I think I’ve encountered just about every piece of evidence by now and have read extensively. For instance, I’ve read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins—please read it, but then be sure to follow it up with The Greatest Hoax on Earth? by Jonathan Sarfati.

I’ve had numerous arguments via the web, with evolutionists throwing at me whatever they think is strong support for their case. But in the end, their evidence only ‘works’ if one already assumes Darwin was right in the first place. Mind you, in his famous landmark book, The Origin of the Species, he never gave any real evidence for his case whatsoever!5 In fact, he started something that the evolutionists are still doing today: challenging their critics to prove them wrong, instead of making their own case solid with actual science. The enthusiasts for the theory of evolution actually make it non falsifiable with their contradictory arguments:

  • Change? Evolution did it. Stasis? Evolution also did it.
  • Similarities? They’re due to common ancestry. Differences? They’re due to evolutionary variation (but see here).
  • Homology? It’s due to shared descent. Convergence? It somehow evolved multiple times.
  • Lack of predicted transitional fossils (just a handful of disputed examples)? Ah, that’s because of a poor fossil record. Fossils in the wrong place? The dating must be wrong, or an overthrust has occurred, or it’s a fraud, or … (see also here).

With natural selection and loads of time, anything and everything can happen. We just can’t see it happen, of course!6 But see The fish in the bathtub.

Evolution just doesn’t add up

Evolution is an emperor with no clothes. It took me a while to realize this but I see that now. And yet, I think I have always known it somehow. To my mind, when you take a step back and look at the story, it’s preposterous. We’re supposed to share a common ancestor with the chimpanzee, which doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit further on in its evolution than its forebears were eons ago—yet we, on the other hand, had already built pyramids long ago, are launching spacecraft to Pluto, and possess language, emotions and morality. Life, the complex cell, has arisen all by itself, or so we’re to believe; anyone believing that, I recommend that you watch this lecture by James Tour on YouTube.7 The whole universe itself is supposed to have popped into existence from a dot of energy smaller than the dots on this page. Sane people believe this, but how can they? Real scientific evidence is absent; I asked for it and found it was wanting (see The singularity—a ‘Dark’ beginning). Indeed, despite the efforts to make the idea unfalsifiable, evolution has been falsified regarding virtually every claimed evidence for it (see Is evolution true?).

I asked for just one observation of a modification in a living organism that would show how one kind of animal could have changed into another, or just one demonstration that mutations really can lead to the evolution of a new tissue, organ, body plan, or anything like that (see here and here). The only thing I got back was ‘evidence’ from circular reasoning. For instance, one time I asked evolutionists for one example where the addition of new information had been observed which led to a new function. All I kept getting back was reasoning along the lines of: “Species Y has a certain trait (like being able to see a certain colour). Species X lacks this trait (so cannot see that colour). We ‘know’ Y evolved from X, ergo, something new evolved.” This line of reasoning only works if it is first assumed that species Y came from X. Apart from that, on closer inspection, any claimed new functionality usually involves the deletion or altering of already existing information. And this was from evolutionary biologists teaching at university level, people who one would reckon should have been able to provide some good examples.

There are others like me

So why have I allowed all my time to be consumed by this issue? Because I think other people should know this as well, whether Christian believers or non-believers. Whatever you believe the truth to be, it’s certainly not accounted for by these evolutionary stories—and sometimes they really are terribly bad. I once read an article claiming that we got the shape of our faces because (believe it or not), we received punches in the remote past.8 Another story told how we got the shape of our faces because we ‘wanted’ to look like the backsides of apes.9 These stories are actually based on papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, on ‘scientific’ websites!10,11

But the most important reason for giving so much of my time to this subject, is my children—and everybody else’s, for that matter—because as soon they can read, they will encounter these stories. They will be taught them at school as if they are true. And if children even remotely resemble me, it can shake the foundations of their faith (see The importance of foundations). If the first verses of the Bible are plain wrong, why believe the rest? Why believe Jesus rose from the dead and can save you if He Himself was wrong about the whole matter (see here)? Seeing now that there is, in fact, no good reason for these doubts, I see it as my duty to do whatever I can to counteract the evolutionary nonsense. It might save a soul or two.

Oh, and that book Hoe bestaat het! is in fact a Dutch translation of The Creation Answers Book from Creation Ministries International, the organisation behind creation.com. Do yourself a favour, and start right there. It might surprise you.

Do you have a similar story? Please tell us about it!

We know that many of you have also been strongly impacted by the creation/evolution issue. It has affected what you believe and how you live as a result. And we would love to hear about it!

Would you take a few minutes to tell us your story? It will be a great encouragement to us, as well as to any others who hear what the Lord has done in your life!

  • Was the creation/evolution issue instrumental in you (or someone you know) coming to Christ?
  • Did it clear up unanswered questions about how the Bible fits with science?
  • Has it increased your confidence in the Bible?
  • Has it strengthened your faith?
  • Has it affected your ability (and confidence) to share your faith with others?


Published: 17 August 2017

References and notes

  1. I’m still not a scientist but I consider myself at least an educated layperson these days. Return to text.
  2. Fitzgerald, D., Nailed: Ten Christian myths that show Jesus never existed at all, Lulu.com, USA, 2010. Return to text.
  3. The Dutch translation of: Batten, D., Catchpoole, D., Sarfati, J. & Wieland, C., The Creation Answers Book (sixth edition), Power Springs, Georgia, Creation Book Publishers, 2014. Return to text.
  4. Bethell, T., Darwin’s House of Cards, A Journalist’s Odyssey Through the Darwin Debates, Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA, 2017. Return to text.
  5. As even some evolutionists have astutely observed, in The Origin of Species, Darwin has a great deal to say about the survival of the species but almost nothing to say about the arrival (origin) of the species! Return to text.
  6. Just as Richard Dawkins famously said: “Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening,” Bill Moyers interviews Richard Dawkins, Now, 3 December 2004, PBS network, pbs.org, 8 November 2006. Return to text.
  7. Tour, J.M., The origin of life: an inside story, youtube.com/watch?v=_zQXgJ-dXM4, 23 March 2016. Return to text.
  8. Dickerson, K., Human faces may have evolved to take a punch, livescience.com, 10 June 2014. Return to text.
  9. Nield, D., Humans might have evolved to identify faces like chimps recognise butts, sciencealert.com, 9 December 2016. Return to text.
  10. Carrier, D.R. & Morgan, M.H., Protective buttressing of the hominin face, Biological Reviews 90(1):330–346, February 2015 | doi:10.1111/brv.12112/full. Return to text.
  11. Mariska, E.K. & Tomonaga, M., Getting to the bottom of face processing: Species-Specific inversion effects for faces and behinds in humans and chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes), Plos One, 30 November 2016 | doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0165357. Return to text.