I was a Teenage Creationist
In my past hubs I have made it no secret that for a time in my youth I was, what you might call, an Old Earth Creationist. While I never bought into the absurd idea that the Earth was only a few thousand years old my teenage years were filled with Christian propaganda, constant reinforcement of the idea that Evolution was dead wrong, and lot's of wild ideas floating around in my own head. In this hub I want to explore my time as a Creationist a bit farther and talk about what I believed, what I didn't believe, and how wrong I was.
I was indoctrinated as a child and taught that the Bible was, for the most part, to be taken as literal truth. This didn't mean there weren't metaphors or hidden meanings but merely that most of the time when it was describing what was happening it could be taken as an actual literal description of some event.
One of the strongest foundations for my creationism was the reinforcement of the idea that evolution was to be mocked and disagreed with all the time. I used to be quite fond of science and history documentaries as a child, Bill Nye was a staple of my television diet for a long while, but my TV viewing was monitored closely by my parents and any time a television program suggested the reality of Evolution they would either change the channel or mockingly explain why all the experts were wrong. It was suggested to me repeatedly that scientists knew evolution was a faulty theory but went with it out of a combination of not wanting to admit they'd been wrong for centuries and of needing to deny God and creation in order to “go on sinning”.
Not only did I get this reinforcement all the time from my parents and the Pentecostal church we attended but when I turned sixteen we got our first internet enabled computer. For those who have a certain belief set or bias, whatever it may be, the internet is a great place to find consenting opinions. I found lots of Creationist material on the interwebs and like a lot of Creationists I spent most of my time looking at the material I agreed with while glossing over the pro-evolution material I came in contact with.
I devoured Creationist content like there was no tomorrow and for some reason I rarely exercised any skepticism. There was this built-in bias towards Christian sources since, hey, would they LIE? At the time it seemed far more likely that the scientists were all lying to save face and not look like idiots when evolution came crashing down around them. The idea that evolution was a "theory in crisis" had been drilled into my head endlessly and at one point even prompted me to grill my 9th grade biology teacher about the merits of abiogenesis. There I was an honor roll advanced placement student questioning the teacher about evolution, the irony was lost on me at the time, but now it stings.
An Old Earth
As I stated I never subscribed to the concept of a young Earth. While my parents had a strict stance on Evolution, other science, like Cosmology, was perfectly fine with them. I had learned as a child that the light from distant stars was ancient, that we could see distant Galaxies that were essentially back in time millions and millions of years. This idea fascinated me, so massive and grand and beautiful a cosmos seemed perfectly consistent with an infinite God.
God was also old, in fact God was timeless. It never struck me as necessary that Earth be the only planet God cared about or created life on. After all God is immortal, he was around forever before he created the Earth and would be around forever after he created the Earth. So a six thousand year old planet never made a lick of sense to me but then I couldn't accept radiometric dating techniques because that didn't make sense with another big part of my own Creation beliefs – the belief that Dinosaurs and man had co-existed.
Meet the Flintstones
Yes that's right for a long time I believed that human beings and dinosaurs had shared the planet at the same time. You might think it completely crazy but to my sixteen year old brain it had made perfect sense and there was plenty of evidence – so I thought. I was obsessed with stories of adventurer's traveling into the Congo to encounter strange creatures, like the legendary Mokele mbembe.
Supposedly explorers had showed the Congo natives photos of every animal known to live in the swamps nearby, the natives all shook their heads, their legendary creature was nothing like those animals. When shown an image of a large Sauropod dinosaur from a book however they identified that as the closest match.
The so-called Ica Stones
This is the area where my interest in Cryptozoology, another long-running interest of mine, crossed over with my Creationist upbringing. I already had the desire to believe, after all who wouldn't want dinosaurs to still be alive in some lost reaches of the jungle? The idea has been around since the first dinosaur skeletons were assembled and popular culture in the form of novels, films, pulp fiction, etc had made the idea widespread. So all I needed were ancient artifacts that looked kinda like dinosaurs.
Pictured above are the ica stones, a well known Creationist hoax that more than convinced me when I was a believer. Some were even said to show ceratopsian dinosaurs harnassed up like oxen to be used for plowing. The idea seemed plausible to me at the time that some small populations of dinosaurs had survived the extinction of 65 million years ago and survived up until present day. All it took was the right amount of faith, the desire to believe, and to ignore all the very simple obvious problems with the idea (like how long it takes to get a fossil).
At times I was quite indignant about Evolution, it made me angry for reasons I didn't understand at the time. I hated the idea that we evolved from apes, that human beings were just animals. I think the reason I was so angry was that I felt evolution would undermine everything within Christianity. Like most Creationists I could not separate evolution from outright atheism. If we were all just a cosmic accident how could we have a purpose, an after-life, or any of what I'd been taught to believe? It made me feel worthless, meaningless, it made me feel MORTAL.
Looking back it was my own fear of death that kept me from becoming an atheist much sooner. Even after my Creationism and Christianity both were long gone I still clung to some type of religious belief, some kind of God, or at least some kind of after-life. I also rejected evolution as “just as ridiculous as creation” even up until as recently as 2008. It was as if accepting evolution was tantamount to accepting my mortality, accepting that death meant what death had always meant – being not alive.
Even after my Christianity was no more and I was essentially non-religious I still had absurd ideas in my head. For a time I even bought into the idea that aliens had created humans. In fact I can remember a time in my life shortly after high-school when the idea that aliens had created human beings as a slave race to mine precious metals a hundred thousand years ago made vivid brilliant sense. It didn't take more than a few months for that belief to dissipate under the tiniest sliver of skeptical investigation deeper into the matter, particularly regarding the claims of Erik Von Daniken and Sitchin.
In about 2009 I discovered a web-series by a youtube user named Aron Ra. At the time I had only just realized the fact that I was an atheist but I was still very afraid to accept evolution. Call it the left over affects of indoctrination I guess but I was honestly nervous when I began to watch Aron's Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism series. In it Aron goes through and debunks nearly all the claims that I, or any Creationist, had ever subscribed to and he deals in hard scientific facts about taxonomy, phylogeny and all manner of stuff that I hadn't even heard of before his videos.
It didn't take long for my fear to subside and be replaced by curiosity and I soon found myself watching the videos of folks like Thunderf00t and Potholer54 as well. I was no longer afraid about the fact that our species evolved from apes or that, in many ways, we are still apes today. I began to feel interconnected to reality, to nature, to other life and to the Cosmos on the whole. The answer had been there in front of me all along but because of superstition, self-deception and my own fears I had elected to keep the blinders on for a long time.
Still from one of Aron Ra's videos
All of Aron Ra's Foundational Falsehoods videos condensed into one
It took a few years of wishy-washy new age belief post-Christianity for me to wash Creationism out of my brain. For those out there combating creationism who think they are not making a difference I must disagree, there is a difference to be made even if you can't change every mind as much as you'd like to. As a recovering Creationist I am walking proof that the brainwashing of creationism doesn't always last and can be broken even if it is often a gradual process.