Vlog: When I was a Creationist

Another scary vlog to show you today.

My slight concern with this vlog is that people will think I’m bitter. I don’t feel bitter, and I resent “you’re just bitter” being used as an excuse to dismiss what I have to say. My hope is that by being this personal, people will see the effect that Creationism has on children. At that age, people are vulnerable to deception. What I want to make very clear is that this is not just about me. This is about all the children who are taught this – about 2,000 in ACE schools in the UK.

When Christians say “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” they are taking advantage of a child’s credulity. It feels hysterical to call it child abuse, but it is an abuse of power.

The other thing I’d like you to notice is that I always said “man,” instead of “people,” or “humans.” Fundamentalist Christianity hates feminism.

I can write this blog because I escaped. I’m free and clear, and my life is good now. I’m genuinely concerned about the kids that are still in systems like ACE School of Tomorrow.

Related posts:

About jonnyscaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on August 17, 2012, in Christianity, Creationism, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Timothy Allman

    2000 students in the UK? In the 80s I would guess that there were about that many in ACE schools just in my home state of Missouri. This video makes me think that making videos of children and have them tell the things they believe is a really good idea.

  2. I think its wonderful that you can objectively use this video with hidsight yet I hope you aren’t standing in judgement of yourself. you were a child as you said and at this time you were making use of all the available information you had. It just broke my heart to hear you say “I was this close to normal” The fact remains, that you were normal and you are normal and its the path you were on that was strange.

    • The fact remains, that you were normal and you are normal and its the path you were on that was strange.

      I think that sums up my view quite well.

      And thanks, Jonny, for another good vlog. There no reason for you to be ashamed of your former self.

  3. Another good reason to make a law (yeah, good luck with that), that makes it a criminal offence for adults to brainwash their children, i.e. indoctrinate them with the dogma of any one religion. Perhaps, teaching children about all the thousands of religions that have been imposed on mankind would be one way of getting them to think critically and viewing all of them as superstitious nonsense. But, don’t forget to give them the option of learning about science, evolution, philosophy and life in general. I strongly feel that atheism will be the “belief” of the future.

  4. That could so easily be me at that age saying those things. It’s pretty cool that you have that video of yourself. It’s nice to be able to really look back and see how far you have come.

  5. Similar words came from my lips in defending my faith to my few friends who didn’t share it, “We couldn’t possibly come from monkeys!” I repeated these words right up to a couple of years ago. I’m embarrassed by that now, but nevermind, time to put those times behind me.

    It is excellent that you made this video of yourself. While I was watching the clip I thought, you’re pretty bright and clever, until you mentioned these were just repeated phrases you had heard. That brings me to a concern I have.

    How much of who I am today is the product of those around me? I’d like to think I’m an independent thinker, uninfluenced by those around me. Yet, I do think I am still influenced by those around me, shaping bits here and there. I must be on guard not to just jump on board with the skeptic community and take everything they say as gospel truth. Generally, I swing more that direction but it doesn’t mean I should stop questioning what’s thrown my direction. How are truths really discerned?

    • I think your last paragraph is a particularly interesting point. Especially now that I am more inclined to listen to science than religion. For example, I believe in evolution based on evidence, but it’s not evidence I’ve seen firsthand. It’s reported evidence, and I believe the scientists because that makes more rational sense than believing that the entire scientific profession is engaged in a massive conspiracy to lie to the public. But the truth is, we’re always taking somebody’s word for almost everything.

      • That’s true, Jonny. The probability of the theory of evolution being a scientific conspiracy is quite low indeed. What purpose would it achieve? In any case, I agree with you. The scientific process is rather solid because it is designed to be picked and pulled apart.

        It’s a tendency of mine to join the crowd and follow. I can’t help but wonder if that trait of mine was adopted from being part of the church environment. (We’re supposed to be sheep, right?) Since leaving the church, I’ve found this switch that I didn’t know I had that filters out stuff that is BS.

        It is a whole lot easier to navigate through life now. I no longer believe I can really win a vacation from a prerecorded guy on the phone…

    • “How much of who I am today is the product of those around me? I’d like to think I’m an independent thinker, uninfluenced by those around me.”

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with being influenced by the people you surround yourself with. You don’t want to blindly believe things, but if you surround yourself with smart, thoughtful people they can introduce you to ideas you might not have seen otherwise. If you have questions they can answer them and perhaps make you see things in a different way. The other thing is, no matter how much you respect and like someone, there will be topics on which you disagree. This should just give you a ripe topic for conversation. Sometimes at the end of such a discussion you still will disagree. Nothing wrong with that. I would still say in this situation that you have influenced each other, but neither of you is thinking for the other one.

      • That’s a good challenge, Hausdorff. Recently, I’ve found that my circle of friends is undergoing a lot of changes.

        While I do think it’s important to surround ourselves with smart people, it’s also a good challenge to maintain those friends who linger from past ideologies. If we indeed influence each other, perhaps I, too, can influence them! 🙂

        I seem to have a residual attitude from the church, “surround myself with like-minded people so that I’m not brainwashed by outsiders”. When I left the church, I thought I just needed to change that circle of people. In reality, I believe we can be better rounded individuals by having large circles of diverse individual opinions around us, as you say.

  6. Wow, your 10 yr old self has the same speech patterns as you do now – how cool is that?

  7. This site would be so much more valuable if it declared the truth plainly instead of covering up what was with what is perceived to be the best way to present it as a campaign for what you want people to subscribe to from now on. I posted before perceiving you were a man in search of the truth, but since then I’ve read most of your blogs and they tell me otherwise.

    The irony to me is that your former self in both the clips I’ve viewed is determined to convince a sample group of people that he has the absolute answer that everyone needs. Your present self seems to hold the same intent, yet you’re embarrassed of your former self because the content within the intent is different, yet you also take the time to excuse your past as a child. Is this not a little confused? Where will you be in a further 20 years?

    There are also massive holes using standard scientific methods in your educational antagonism towards ACE. I’m sure this and the above is why people may swiftly brandish/dismiss you with the term ‘bitter’.

    Finally, in comment to one of your fellow posters I ask the question: “What learning system does not have the potential to be classed as brainwashing?”
    I think it unreasonable to suggest any. I also think that the question as to who should take the ultimate responsibility for education should not be taken from the parent and handed to the state through governance. The education sector is also run by parents and whilst they may act in accordance with wisdom of a greater degree than some they will not others. I certainly would not want my children to grow up as another’s. Laws as to what can be taught will slowly erode family legacy and breed more state control. Who really wants that?

    • It would be easier for me to respond if I knew what you meant by “massive holes using standard scientific methods.” Only an idiot would say science has all the answers, because science itself does not claim that. But I think it’s a position of ignorance to suggest there’s a system other than science which knows any better on matters of scientific understanding.

      Even more confusingly your email address (hidden from the public but available to me as blog owner) suggests that you may have communist (or at least socialist) sympathies. That makes it very surprising that you would want to defend ACE at all, with its radical lessaiz-faire capitalist and extreme anti-communist ideology.

      I don’t know what has made you think that I am not in search of truth, that I claim to know all the answers, or what has upset you so much that you felt it necessary to launch this attack. I am certain that Creationism (and ACE) is not the answer, and that the current solutions we have to those problems (ie evolution and constructivist pedagogy) are vastly superior. That is not the same as claiming that those are the final best answers.

      Actually, a great deal of philosophical thought has gone into what does and does not constitute indoctrination in education. And while there is perhaps a risk of indoctrination in most forms of teaching, conscientious teachers go to great lengths to avoid them. Of course, sometimes teachers fail.

      That is not the same as ACE, a system which indoctrinates on purpose. It is openly based on B.F. Skinner’s methods of psychological manipulation, and conversion to its own system of religious belief is its state primary objective, above even that of education.

      If you have valid objections to points I have made in specific blog posts, I will be happy to engage with them and, if I have been wrong, modify my views. But your comment speaks to me more of anger than any rational objection.

  8. It is one of the beauties of writing and reading to only use and only extract the words that sit on the page. There is no anger in my words previous nor present. However, I perceive that it would be rational to suggest that you are angry at countless times throughout your blogging so it is hardly something to contextually condemn. Perhaps this is not a bad thing, but it would seem this is not an implication regarding ACE, your father, aspects of your schooling and BCC.

    As it happens I know a great deal about ACE. As stated previously I teach both state and ACE students. I am also aware of the flaws within both systems. However, I do not think removing ACE would remove the father who molested his daughter. If you are honest, there are many times in your blogging that allow the reader to be lead down a path that suggests that ACE is responsible for what it is simply not connected to. This father was not promoted to act disgracefully because of ACE nor were his actions facilitated by the system of education that was chosen for his children, any more than they would have been under another system. I don’t think his actions can even be called the actions of a fundamentalist. They are actions that are present in many humans with many differing public views who do not privately understand how to consider another’s well being beyond their own desires. This is the same root as someone who will take another’s life; the same root as a pastor who takes from his congregation to line his own pockets. He is not a fundamentalist Christian. He is a phoney thief who is either lying to himself daily or lives in denial. No leader or politician who redistributes wealth for it to disproportionately fall to them understands this concept either.

    I am not a communist. I am not a fundamentalist. My hidden email address highlights my fascination with the study of revolution and resistance and ultimately change. Why do I care enough to post? Because I think that your readers are not given the whole truth. For example the issue of learning by rote. I can attest to its effectiveness. I learnt a lot that way. It is not a method that works for everyone as some struggle to build on what they don’t consider concrete. However, others can allow things to take shape without full comprehension knowing that things will fully click at some point – when it is necessary. One can learn effectively through a very large variety of learning methods. I don’t think any method is effective for 100% of school age students. There is therefore a critical decision as to where to school any one child. If a rule is set for all, and how all must be taught, some will excel naturally, many will suffer and be hampered under it not being most beneficial for them, others still, will adapt and excel. But, I would suspect that if it is a rule it is likely to lead to what I’d call brainwashing, as it will restrict expansion. Some students will be better equipped for life following ACE and others will be so from the state. Neither of these will necessarily be right wing capitalists nor left wing communists, but some from each will be. A system full of absolutes does not guarantee that its students will have any absolute views. I care enough to post because the success I’ve personally observed within ACE graduates causes me to wonder why they and ACE (the medium coupled with their teachers which facilitated entrance to the degrees and masters they excelled in) should be undermined. The angry minority blog against something. I don’t believe minorities should be ignored, but neither should their silent counterweight.

    Finally, I wish you to consider something. For an atheist to have once been a fundamentalist Christian the entire path of fundamentalism had to have been a facade. I don’t doubt for a second that lies surround the power of any regime. For you though, you must have actually been an atheist all along who was willing or pressured to appear to be willing to pretend to be a fundamentalist Christian. Central to all fundamentalists I’ve ever met (I think this is universal) is the upholding of the concept of a relationship with God. Whether any have one is another question, but nobody can have ever actually had a relationship with God and later claim no such being exists. The Radio 4 listeners would be aware of the modern belief of connection between faith and certainty as opposites, and doubt as faith’s compliment. Realistically, though, this relevant view is a set of shallow conveniences shaped to accommodate the uncertain human.

    “When using the possible like a bridge, one must remember that however beautiful the destination, it may be imaginary… Let not the love of the imaginary deny the truth, for it will drown your followers.”

    • Peter’s fire one gets the feeling that Jonny’s rattling your cage with his blog.

      I’ve never got the impression of a bitter man from jonny, just someone very passionate about his cause.

      You on the other hand seem to sit on a fence, hiding behind language which tries to be clever but is both silly and obsfucating.

      You so much remind me of ethnicmuse that i can only think you are one and the same.

      • I think Jonny fully understands what I’ve written. This rules out obsfucating. If he doesn’t I’m happy to question that. As for ‘silly’, you as anyone is entitled to hold this opinion of anyone’s writing. I personally appreciate many people’s writing styles. You obviously don’t appreciate mine, though it has never tried to be clever. It has hopefully conveyed a message or thought to the readers who are willing to think about it. Of course, in a blog we are all hidden behind words. I’m still not sure if the resulting outcome of that is productive or limiting. I write as I speak. Although, intonation does alter responses where words are plain.

        Regarding the word bitter. If you read this blog more thoroughly you’d realise that this did not originate with me, nor is my language suggesting I agree with this. I do very much, however, subscribe to the philosophy that many outcomes are potential until one is proven fact, rather than considering the most likely outcome fact until disproven. Again, I think Jonny, whom I am not against, would certainly understand this and likely appreciate it too.

        The only other comments levelled at me are that I am another blogger (ethnicmuse), and that my cage is rattled. Neither are true, but both are impossible to prove false in the confines of this blog. In the same light the truth in both is also impossible to prove. I’m pretty sure that both comments are therefore irrelevant, except that what is impossible to prove as either true or false is very topical to this whole site – I believe Jonny too. It is for these reasons I both read and very occasionally write. Regarding this topic it is abundantly clear what side of the fence you sit on. Whom does it benefit?

  9. I have lurked on this site long enough to realise that the author is a considered and restrained writer. The only emotion I detect is a wistful sadness. Shedding the childhood indoctrination must have been difficult and does not deserve this-

    From Peter’s Fire ‘ For an atheist to have once been a fundamentalist Christian the entire path of fundamentalism had to have been a facade.’

    Religions are well versed in their indoctrination methods, they have had several hundreds of years to hone them. To have been trained to blindly accept a series of concepts and not question them is just accepting a false belief, or perhaps better depicted as faith. To break away from that system and to question those ingrained concepts means the author has made a huge effort, one that you obviously have not.

    That it is inconceivable to you that anyone can break away from indoctrination and yet people manage to do so may cause you a conflict that hopefully you may resolve by learning to think critically.

    • I also detect more than a bit of sadness too. I also have no doubt that people can break away from indoctrination. I have no doubt that indoctrination exists and causes many to suffer. My point was that the indoctrination was never connected to anything real. Why do you want to defend Jonny by making totally unprovable statements like suggesting one needs to learn to think critically. That is nothing short of a comment used to undermine and attempt to ignore a person’s writing. Can you back it up? It is also worth pointing out that the basis of your argument comes from the premise that religion only indoctrinates. Of course this is possible but not necessarily true. Are you willing to critically consider that?

      “To break away from that system and to question those ingrained concepts means the author has made a huge effort, one that you obviously have not.”
      This statement is miles from the truth, and you know nothing of me from what I’ve said to consider this with any weight.

      • Whom does it benefit? What the position i adopt? I wasn’t aware I was obliged to benefit anyone by supporting the view that creationism should not be taught as science in uk schools and that ACE is an intellectually bankrupt, immoral and abusive schooling system.

        With regard to bitterness? I imagine Jonny is checking to make sure he isn’t come across as bitter (which he doesn’t). Let’s not confuse anger with bitterness. I think a bit of anger about all that was robbed from us by these misguided adults is a healthy and appropriate response. It is part of a grief process that occurs when leaving fundamentalism.

        With regard to fundamentalists having a relationship with god as being central. I think you are so wrong there. Fundamentalists are those that cling rigidly to set of doctrines, morals and codes. As a hindu friend pointed out when confronted with some of the more fundamental members of my family, ‘sadly God seems so far away from all they say’.

  10. You, Jeremy, nor anyone is obliged to benefit anyone with your actions or views. I merely asked whom your position benefited. The position I was referring to was in respect to the ‘fence’ regarding what is impossible to prove true or false. You made it clear you wanted to declare things that are not provable as facts without knowing of your subject. I think this is exactly one of Jonny’s hates about ACE and fundamentalism.

    I’m not opposed to the removal of Creationism within Science. I would like to see the term or concept of fact being removed from all things that are not provable in both history and science. I am, however, not an advocate of people not knowing what other’s hold regarding these subjects even if these views are apparently false – whether that be by majority consensus or any other potentially errant system.

    Leaving fundamentalism may need anger which may be an appropriate and healthy response to probably misguided adults whom you may have been robbed by. Some may experience a grief process when leaving fundamentalism. Because nobody lives two lives you might be a fundamentalist had you been indoctrinated contrary. We may all need to grieve.

    I also would like to point out that I said I thought that fundamentalists (I was really referring to Christian fundamentalists as this is the subject of this blog) upheld the concept of having a relationship with God. I still think that, but I’m willing to consider an alternative. I always thought that doctrine, moral and code were under the guise of a relationship with God. I can, however see the logic of calling either as central. I’m not saying nor have ever said that fundamentalists have a relationship with God. I’d love to see the error in this view: You can be told you have a relationship with God. You can even believe what a relationship with God should be like, but if you ever ‘become’ an atheist you cannot have ever had one.

    I bumped into Jonny at his past church in Bath during a strange movement of chicken sounds and grunting called the “Toronto Blessing”. He encouraged me to go forward and listen to the voice of God. Surely, I was being advised to do something by somebody who had never received any actual dialogue from God. This has to be true if it is also true that the same person is now an atheist. For the record: I am not bitter. I do not feel robbed. I am not going to nor see the need to grieve.

    I think your Hindu friend was probably right about God seeming so far away. I say that not because I know the people concerned but because it is my view of most people. Of course the fact this person was a practising Hindu adds no weight to their stance.

    The saddest thing I’ve discovered in reading this blog for a few months now is that most people that comment seem to have blindly made up their minds on so much. Jonny has just done a couple of dialogues with his child self. Does this not make anyone else willing to question the very fabric of their being? My presence on this site has always been in favour of finding truth. I detect in most present here that most are not really willing to critically question themselves on this matter. It reminds me of the many times a few single individuals want a meaningful conversation whilst all surrounding peers are getting drunk. Who is listening? These are my final words on this site.

    • Well alright then! This is a merry dance isn’t it. Let me see if I can respond to some of these comments.

      First of all, Jeremy, I have no reason to believe Peter’s Fire is at all connected to ethnicmuse. Their email addresses and IP addresses are quite different. However, there is something about their commenting style that is similar. I think it’s that they have criticised views given on the blog, while not offering any clear alternative opinion, or stating their own position. That makes it very slippery to respond to them.

      Peter’s Fire wrote:

      Finally, I wish you to consider something. For an atheist to have once been a fundamentalist Christian the entire path of fundamentalism had to have been a facade.

      This is an extraordinary piece of logic, a variation on the No True Scotsman fallacy. Well, it isn’t, if you believe fundamentalists actually have a relationship with God. But in a later comment, Peter’s Fire said he was not claiming this. So what are we saying then?

      I do not believe I had a relationship with God, because I do not believe that any fundamentalist has a relationship with God. Putting it kindly, I think they are all mistaken. Or, less kindly, deluded.

      I felt that I had a personal relationship with God. I sensed His presence. I heard His voice. I attributed wonderful occurrences in my life to His grace. I was entirely convinced. And that’s as much of a fundamentalist as it’s possible to be. It is meaningless to say I wasn’t a “real fundamentalist”, in the same way that it’s meaningless to say that Derren Brown doesn’t perform “real magic.” There is no such thing as real magic.

      Peter’s Fire does make some interesting comments about the relationship between ACE and child abuse. He alleges that ACE is not responsible for abuses that happen within the system. This is a worthwhile discussion – not one I can get into here.

      Similarly, on rote learning there is worthwhile discussion to be had. But then he says:

      I don’t think any method is effective for 100% of school age students. There is therefore a critical decision as to where to school any one child. If a rule is set for all, and how all must be taught, some will excel naturally, many will suffer and be hampered under it not being most beneficial for them, others still, will adapt and excel.

      And it is precisely ACE which squeezes children into one method, where almost any other system of schooling affords flexibility and a variety for its pupils.

  11. As much as I don’t like laying my vulnerabilities out for people who don’t know me and are unlikely to ever understand, so they can incredulously pick over the bones …

    Peter you are not the first person to find it impossible that a person can have two (or possibly more) authentic “belief narratives” within one lifetime, but I know from personal experience that it is possible. I may have only been about six when I converted to Christianity, but I remember it vividly. One moment I was sitting there a scared, lost, desperate little child hardly daring to believe that what I was being told was true – and then suddenly, powerfully He was. For many years I had a personal relationship with Jesus that was incredibly important to me. It was real and powerful and probably saved my life. There was a power in the universe that was stronger than anything else – and it protected me. I believed to the marrow of my bones that Jesus was the son of God and that he had died to save me etc, etc, etc.

    And then, without going into all the details of my upbringing, I suddenly realised one day when I was about 20 that God did not exist. God was something we had conjured up to help us make sense of the world, to give us structure. And rather than us being made in the image of God, we had made God into the image of us. I didn’t leave the church straight away and I didn’t even tell people what had happened. It was a weird and in many ways frightening lonely time. It was also a very liberating time. I needed to escape the stranglehold. The belief system that had once kept me safe had become a prison, and so somehow my brain or whatever had rearranged the building blocks that made up The Truth and given me a new reality. For a while I tried to find some sort of compromise, a fence I could sit on, but it didn’t really work. I looked for alternatives, but I was past being fooled twice it seems. The emotional whirlwind was intense and ranged all over the spectrum from rage and grief to profound relief and excitement with life . The emotional angst I went though at the time, now 20 years later, seems absurd, and a little embarrassing, but it was what happened.

    I have been reading this blog with a strange kind of fascination because I recognise so much of myself in it. I wrote this down because Peter there are, believe it or not, people who have gone through this (or something similar) and for whom it makes sense. I get that you don’t understand it, most people don’t – their essential belief system has remained in tact. It may have developed and grown, but it didn’t just suddenly eject them through a portal into another universe where all the fundamentals were different and they had to learn everything again from the subsoil up.

    So, if anyone is reading this and can relate, you’re not crazy, you’re not going crazy, you will figure it out, it will settle down, it does get better, you get better. When people try to tell you that what you’re experiencing is impossible, do yourself a favour and ignore them. Just sit with the dissonance and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Think whatever it is you’re thinking. Don’t allow other people to frame your experiences for you and you’ll be okay. Make friends with eccentric people, and get a cat.

  1. Pingback: Vlog: When I was a Creationist | HumanistLife

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