Author: Dr. Jerry Bergman
Subject: Apologetics
Date: 09/11/2006

 

From Religion to Atheism to Truth by David Fisher 

 

PROF.:            Today’s guest has always been skeptical.  And his life has given him plenty to be skeptical about.

 

VOICE:          His mother belonged to an eccentric religious group.  When he saw mistakes in his mother’s religious doctrines, he reacted by following his father into atheism.

 

PROF.:            It took him years to figure out what was true.  Let’s try to retrace his steps in 15 minutes.

 

FORMAT:      THEME AND ANNOUNCEMENT

 

PROF.:            Jerry Bergman [JAIR-ee BERG-man] has always loved science.  During his boyhood, he built his own telescope and ground the reflecting mirror by hand.  He bought his first set of encyclopedias at age 11.

As president of his high school’s astronomy club, he became such an expert that his teachers asked him to give a presentation to a group of parents and teachers.  That experience convinced him he wanted to be a science professor.

 

VOICE:          Since then, Bergman has earned two doctor’s degrees – one in biology and the other in research methodology.   When Bowling [BOH-ling] Green State University in the U. S. state of Ohio [oh-HI-oh] needed an assistant professor, they chose Dr. Bergman from 40 applicants for the position.  He is now a professor at Northwest State College in Archbold, Ohio [ARCH-bold].

 

PROF.:            For 20 years he followed his mother’s religion.  He was so convinced that it was true, that he wrote articles for the group’s publications.  But as he examined their teachings, he eventually realized that many of their doctrines were wrong.

For example, the Bible says that Jesus Christ will come back to Earth someday to rule the world He created.  As Bergman researched, he discovered that this group had predicted dates when Christ would return – including 1874, 1914 and 1925.  They revised their prediction to say that it would occur before October, 1975, and Bergman stayed with the group to see whether they had finally gotten it right.  That date also passed, and it became obvious that this religious group did not speak for the all-knowing God.

 

VOICE:          In fact, God’s authentic statements in the Bible specifically say, “no man knows the day and the hour” when Christ will return to Earth.  (Matthew 24:36 and 25:13).

 

PROF.:            Meanwhile, he questioned the rule that members of the church to which his mother belonged, could not have blood transfusions.  He observed that this teaching had caused many people to die.  He concluded that his mother’s religion was not truly representing God.

 

VOICE:             When one religion failed the test, he overreacted.  Dr. Bergman remembers…

 

PROF.:               “I was totally disillusioned with all religion, the Bible and God.  …Much of my doubt was due to the steady diet of subtle anti-theism[1] that I was exposed to in college.  I soon became involved in the atheist movement (partly due to the influence of my father)…and published scores[2] of articles in various [atheistic] magazines.”  End quote.

He became faculty advisor for the University Atheists club.  He knew and became a friend of many of the world’s leading atheists, and published numerous articles in their journals.

 

VOICE:          But there too, his skeptical testing of truth, revealed some problems.  He explains…

 

PROF.:            “…in time [I] became very disillusioned with atheism.  I knew enough about science, history and religion to recognize that many of their arguments were terribly distorted, one-sided and ill-informed.  They saw only the bad and ignored the good in religion.

“It was often implied in their literature that Christianity was a major force for evil in the world.  When I questioned atheist leaders about my concerns, they behaved…very defensively.” [3]

 

VOICE:          So far, Dr. Bergman’s insistence on testing everything, instead of accepting ideas because someone told him, had caused him to abandon his mother’s religion and his father’s atheism.

So what could he believe?

 

PROF.:            “I then decided to re-examine my beliefs from square one.[4]  To answer the question ‘Does God exist?,’ I focused on the most common evidence that atheists rely on, the scientific proof that natural law can account for all creation.  Life was either created by an intelligence we call God or it was created by naturalistic evolution.  No other rational choice existed.

“Consequently, my starting point was naturalism versus theism, the great question [on which] all else hinges…when building a worldview.  My interest in evolution also stemmed from my lifelong interest in science.

“If Darwinism is true, my question is answered:  No empirical evidence exists to believe in a creator god and he probably does not exist (or if he does, [he] is irrelevant to human affairs).”

But “if Darwinism is false, theism becomes the only other option.  Thus began my quest to determine whether Darwinism is true.  I realize this was an enormous subject that could take a lifetime of study, but I optimistically concluded that it could be answered.”

 

VOICE:          How could he research the question of whether or not God exists?

 

PROF.:            He answers, “I began with the basic evidence for Darwinism found in standard college textbooks – including vestigial organs, homology, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,[5] beneficial mutations, the fossil record, activisms, nascent organs, natural selection, shared genetic errors, junk DNA, among other topics.

“… I concluded that the easiest one to answer was ‘do vestigial (once useful, now useless) organs exist?’  These many useless organs were seen by evolutionists as a major proof of Darwinism – they reasoned that God would not create functionless organs that often became diseased, such as the human appendix.”

 

VOICE:          What did he discover?

 

PROF.:            As he read the academic literature, he discovered that some so-called “useless” organs, including the thymus and the pineal gland, were actually essential to life.  He discovered that evolutionists who had classified other organs as “vestigial” hadn’t done adequate research to find the organs’ uses.  Prof. Bergman concluded, quote, “One by one, I found documented evidence of functions for all of the putative vestigial organs[6] commonly listed for humans.”  End quote.

His research resulted in several published papers and a full-length book, Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional.

 

VOICE:          But that is only one of the evidences that evolutionists have used.  What did he investigate next?

 

PROF.:            He carefully researched each of them, producing articles, monographs and book chapters on his findings.

He writes, quote, “Slowly but surely, I was able to eliminate all of the main arguments used to support evolutionism by researching secular literature[7] only…  At some point, I crossed the line, realizing the case against evolutionism was overwhelming and, conversely, the case in favor of the only alternative, creationism, was likewise overwhelming.  My research eventually caused me to reject the macroevolution scenario based on mutations as the ultimate source of the genetic information from which natural selection selected.”

 

VOICE:          That’s an interesting expression:  There needs to be a source of genetic information, “from which natural selection selected.”

 

 

PROF.:            It’s a major problem for the theory of macroevolution.  There can be no “survival of the fittest” until there is “arrival[8] of the fittest.”  And Darwin didn’t provide a realistic explanation for how either fit or unfit organisms originated.

Dr. Bergman observes, “Eventually, after much study…I came to accept Orthodox Christianity.[9]  I strongly believe apologetic study is critical to determine the validity of a theological conclusion.

“When I began my quest, I had no faith in religion, only an atheist background and a set of very negative experience with religion.  I demanded facts, and…it was science research that led me to reject Darwinism and accept theism.”

 

VOICE:          You said at the beginning of the program that Dr. Bergman was very skeptical.  After skeptically examining his mother’s religion, he rejected it.  After skeptically exploring atheism, he discovered that it didn’t stand the test.

 

PROF.:            But he tested the logical reasons for believing in the kind of God who is described in the Bible, and that belief passed his stringent tests.

 

VOICE:          If there are such strong reasons for believing in God, why don’t all scientists acknowledge God’s existence?

 

PROF.:            Dr. Bergman recalls, quote, “My father and I had many long discussions – sometimes very heated – about religion and what he saw as the many shortcomings of all theistic beliefs…  Although his influence on me and my thinking was great, even then I tended to see atheism as more of a rebellion against theism than as a logical conclusion based on the empirical evidence.”

 

VOICE:          Why would people rebel against theism, if it’s true?  Don’t logical people follow the facts, wherever they lead?

 

PROF.:            I think Dr. Bergman is very perceptive when he says, quote, “If a creator exists, this means that humans may have some obligation to Him.”  End quote.

Human nature is such that most people want to be their own bosses.  So they reject the idea that someone exists who is superior to the human race, and to whom we owe allegiance and obedience.

As the pioneering 17th-century scientist Blaise Pascal said, “There is sufficient light for those who desire to see, and there is sufficient darkness for those of a contrary disposition.”

 

VOICE:          On tomorrow’s program, we’ll share more of what Dr. Jerry Bergman learned during his 30-year search for truth.

 

 

© 2006 David Ernest Fisher.  All rights reserved.

 

Sources:

Jerry Bergman, “Scientific study proves God is indeed creator,” Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, Feb. 18, 2006, www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/living/13903290.htm

 

Jerry Bergman, “A Creationist’s Story: My Life in Science and Education,” Revolution against Evolution website, www.rae.org/bergman.html

 

Pascal quotation is from Pensees, 149.

 

 

Broadcast in China in Chinese on May, 18, 2006 1600 words

 

 

From “True Believer” to Believing the Truth –

Jerry Bergman  (Last in SERIES of 2)

 

VOICE:          On yesterday’s program, Dr. Jerry Bergman said that he understood atheism was not primarily a logical conclusion based on testable evidence, but it was primarily a rebellion against God.

 

PROF.:            That reminds me of the statement, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.  My mind is made up.”  Let’s think about how to reason with a person who says that.

 

FORMAT:      THEME AND ANNOUNCEMENT

 

VOICE:          I was reading Dr. Jerry Bergman’s resumé, and it’s obvious that he’s extremely intelligent.  He belongs to Mensa [MEN-suh], an intellectual society that accepts only people whose I.Q.s[10] are in the top two percent of the population.  He has taught biology at the university level for more than 20 years.  So when he discovers something, we can take it seriously.

 

 

PROF.:            While working on his second doctorate, he read a large number of anti-religious publications.  He realized that atheists had only two points in trying to prove their atheistic worldview.

First was the existence of evil in the world.  Second was what he describes as, quote, “the firm belief (actually the assumption) that evolution (meaning evolutionary naturalism or Darwinism) could fully explain the existence of the living and non-living world.  Consequently, atheists had no need of…the hypothesis that a God exists…because they believed that everything, including life, can be adequately explained by naturalism.”

 

VOICE:          Those two objections come up often in discussions with my friends.  First, how does Prof. Bergman explain why evil exists in the world, if a good God created the universe?

 

PROF.:            Among his other accomplishments, Dr. Bergman is a licensed psychotherapist.  So he states, quote, “The ‘existence of evil’ problem did not seem difficult to answer because…I knew from my clinical experience that most problems today are caused by people, often the person with the problems (usually due to relationship problems with spouse, family, children, and others).  I also knew…that free will allows humans to choose, and in choosing, some will choose to do good, others will choose to do evil.”

 

VOICE:          In other words, God did not create evil.  Humans cause it when they make bad choices.

 

PROF.:            Yes.

 

VOICE:          But couldn’t God have prevented evil, by not giving humans the ability to choose wrong?

 

PROF.:            Theoretically yes, but there would be a problem with that.  Dr. Bergman says, quote, “Forcing humans to choose only good, removes human free will.   As a result, we then become mere robots.   …Would life be better if we were all robots?  Freedom is often the most valuable of human goals, and loss of it [is] the most resisted of evils.”

 

VOICE:          How did he answer the atheist’s other objection to God’s existence?  How did he decide whether the universe created itself by natural processes, or whether it required an outside intelligence to create it?

 

 

PROF.:            He examined each of the evidences that textbooks present for macro-evolution.  He researched each of them carefully, producing articles, monographs and book chapters on his findings.   None of them passed his tests.

Dr. Bergman knew many atheists personally, and he observed that they didn’t live up to his unselfish ideals.  In his words, “…[F]ew atheists were doing much to make the world a better place…    I knew of no hospitals or schools started by atheists (although most were in favor of higher taxes to allow the state[11] to build hospitals and schools).  Although they would help each other, most did little to help others except to complain about the putative[12] sins of the Christians.”

Later he added, “Most of them lived a life in harmony with their beliefs…[that] there is no God, no heaven, no Hell, no creator, and [that] humans are a result of many cosmic accidents.  Therefore, they concluded, live and let live and enjoy today to the fullest, for tomorrow we will die.”

 

VOICE:          Before we went on the air, you mentioned that Dr. Bergman discovered that the atheists that he had joined, had many similarities to the false religion that he had left.  Explain that.

 

PROF.:            He said, quote, “My review of the anti-creationist literature has forced me to conclude that it is, in general, appalling…    [M]ost tried to prove their point by using rhetorical techniques much as a debater would, merely to win an argument.  This method is very limited in helping a person to determine what is, in fact, true…”

He found much similarity between “evolution ‘true believers’ ” and the dogmatic “true believers” whose debating techniques had repelled him from the false religious cult to which he had once belonged.

He pointed out weaknesses in their theories and gave them the opportunity to provide reasoned answers.  Instead, they became defensive and ridiculed him for asking questions.

He said, quote, “All too many ideas…were nothing more than wishful thinking…  Thus, in building a worldview that was based on reality…, I had to begin somewhere.  So, like the famous [French] philosopher Rene Descartes [ruh-NAY day-KART], I was forced to make a fresh start – to doubt virtually everything my textbooks and teachers told me, and all my cherished beliefs…”

 

VOICE:          How did Dr. Bergman resolve his doubts?

 

PROF.:            Like Descartes, he began with the idea that the entire world behaved mechanically and could be understood only by the laws of science.  He tested that idea, researching and questioning every assumption that he had been taught.

The foundational belief on which all others are based, is the question of whether God exists.  He realized, “There were only two basic explanations for the existence of the created world and life:  that these things either were created by an outside intelligence, or that…they created themselves – naturalistic evolution [or evolutionism].”

 

VOICE:          Prof. Bergman used the word “evolution-ism.”  How is “evolutionism” different from “evolution”?

 

PROF.:            American philosopher Michael Ruse [ROOZ] explains that evolution is a scientific theory, but that evolutionism is a philosophical statement that religion is obsolete.  Evolution is a scientific interpretation, but evolutionism is a doctrine that arbitrarily[13] declares that God does not exist.

Harvard University evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin [LOO-on-tin] admits he is willing to believe illogical things, in order to avoid the idea of God.

 

VOICE:          VOICE.:         Really?   What did he say?

 

PROF.:            Here are his words, quote:  “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.  We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, …because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.”

 

VOICE:          If I understand Lewontin correctly, he admits that scientific knowledge doesn’t force him to be an atheist.  He chooses it because his mind is made up before he examines the evidence.

 

PROF.:            Yes, you understand correctly.  He continues, “It [14] is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world.[15]   But, on the contrary, [the reason is] that we are forced by our a priori adherence[16] to material causes to create…a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated.

“Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

 

VOICE:          Aha!  He wants a philosophy that says that matter is the only reality, because it helps him keep God from getting “a foot in the door.”   As Dr. Bergman said on yesterday’s program, he soon realized that atheism is, quote, “more of a rebellion against theism than…a logical conclusion based on empirical evidence.”

 

PROF.:            Yes.  An unknown writer on the Internet pointed out that some people, quote, “…believe ‘thinking’ means coming up with a rationalization[17] to justify the conclusion you desire.   …That’s why they keep attacking the scientific method when it reaches conclusions they don’t like – it clearly can’t be the right method to use when it produces ‘wrong’ conclusions.”

 

VOICE:          That sounds like the statement I sometimes hear:  “Don’t confuse me with the facts.  My mind is made up.”

 

PROF.:            Exactly!  Dr. Bergman never had that attitude.  He was open to following wherever the facts led.

He said, quote, “…I was inevitably led to the conclusion that, if life cannot be explained by naturalistic means, it can be explained only by an intelligent creator…   If a creator exists, this means that humans may have some obligation to Him.  This led me to the conclusion that one of the theistic religions must be valid.”

 

VOICE:          If I understand correctly, a theistic religion is one that believes not only that God exists, but that he is a personal God.

 

PROF.:            Yes.  The dictionary defines theism as, quote, “belief in one God who is creator and ruler of the universe and [who is] known by revelation.”

 

VOICE:          So the Christian God is described by personal pronouns such as “who” and “he” – not “which” and “it.”

 

PROF.:            Yes, and he is not only the creator of the universe in the distant past, but he is “ruler of the universe” in the present.  In addition, the genuine God does not hide from his human creatures, but he has revealed himself through the book we call The Bible or The Holy Bible.

A 30-year quest led Dr. Bergman to conclude that the God who reveals Himself through the Bible, is the true and living God.   He left the stubborn “true believers,” to believe the truth.

 

Sources:

Jerry Bergman, “A Creationist’s Story: My Life in Science and Education,”

www.rae.org/bergman.html

 

Richard Lewontin, “Billion and Billions of Demons,” New York Review of Books,

            January 9, 1997, p. 28.

 

Definition of a priori:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_priori

 

Definition of theism:  Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (New York,

Simon and Schuster, 1983).

 

 

[1]   Teaching against the existence of God.

[2]   Literally, a “score” is 20.  If it’s more common in your language to express indefinite numbers like this as

“dozens,” “tens” or in some other way, please translate this that way.

[3]   They acted as if they were being attacked, instead of being willing to learn something new that contradicted

what they had previously thought.

[4]   From the very beginning.

[5]   The idea that during the nine months of pregnancy, each human embryo passes through abbreviated stages

that resemble developmental stages of its evolutionary ancestors.   It was a speculation that humans look like

fish, reptiles and then mammals during various stages of pregnancy, and that this allegedly proves that

humans evolved from these subhuman species.

[6]   Organs that evolutionists had alleged or claimed to be useless.

[7]   Non-religious.  He wanted to avoid people objecting that he was using publications that criticized evolution

because they were biased in favor of religion.

[8]   Origin, creation.

[9]   Christianity based on the Bible.  He does not mean Eastern Orthodox or any other denomination, but what

C.S. Lewis called Mere Christianity or basic, biblical Christianity.

[10]   I.Q. stands for Intelligence Quotient.  It is a number indicating level of intelligence, obtained by multiplying

a person’s mental age by 100 and dividing by his chronological age.

[11]   The regional or provincial government.

[12]   Alleged, sometimes imaginary.

[13]   Based on personal preference, not on valid reasoning.

[14]   The reason we believe in materialism.

[15]   The world that can be perceived, detected or experienced by the senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste).

[16]   Sticking to a belief which he developed before examining evidence for or against it.

[17]   An excuse.