My Introduction and Story

Good day everyone. This is my first post on BioLogos (though I have been lurking for several months now), and I thought my personal journey to where I currently am might be of interest to some of you. I apologise if this is a long read.

I am a 17-year-old from Singapore. I note that the regulars here are typically British or American and at least thrice my age. This does not deter me.

At the time of my birth, my parents were atheists, and I was named after a prominent atheist. As a child I was made to read Stephen Hawking and watch Carl Sagan. My parents even bought me a diorama containing models of the different human species, from homo habilis to homo sapiens .

At the age of 12, I was introduced to Christianity by a friend’s mother. She was a young-earth creationist who tried to convince me that Darwinism was “just a theory”. Ironically, she also recommended me Francis Collins’ The Language of God , an eye-opening book that got me thinking for years to come. It was in this book that I first encountered the concepts of evolutionary creation and BioLogos, but I did not come to this forum until years later.

Soon after that, I enrolled in a Christian (Methodist) secondary school (because it was the best school within a half-hour bus ride of my house). Christianity and its practices soon became normalised to me. I also discovered, to my dismay, that a lot of people there were YECs, including multiple science teachers (Singaporean secondary school teachers are required to have at least an undergraduate degree in their field. Evidently education does not eradicate irrationality). Throw in a hefty dose of homophobia for good measure – the authentic Christian experience. That being said, I made great friends and connections and had experiences in that school I would not trade for the world.

In my early teenage years I started to realise my father was a conspiracy theorist. The man who had raised me to trust science was the same man who vehemently refused to grant permission for me to receive nationally mandated vaccinations at the age of 11. How could this be? I’ll never know, but I still have not got the shots. You can guess what happened when COVID arrived, but I’ll get to that soon.

My father was not just an antivaxxer. He was a Holocaust denier, an enthusiastic Trump supporter, a moon landing skeptic. He would lecture me about chemtrails and how Bush did 9/11 and how 5G would kill us all. He once showed my mother and I (I’m an only child) a documentary by Ty Bollinger – The Truth About Cancer – which attacked mainstream cancer treatments and advocated for various alternatives such as dieting, Rigvir, and prayer. He once insulted Angelina Jolie for getting a double mastectomy – “Removing your breasts for breast cancer – how about removing your brain for brain cancer?”

In a stroke of intense irony, in that same period, my mother was trying to self-medicate what she highly suspected was breast cancer. She told no one, not even my father.

In September 2019, my mother complained of breathing difficulties and was hospitalised. It was discovered that her breast cancer had metastasised to her entire body. She was given three months to live. Despite my atheism I prayed (though not to a specific god) for her recovery (“there are no atheists in foxholes!”), to no avail. My mother recited the Sinner’s Prayer on her deathbed. Her Christian relatives convinced her that conversion was her only hope of seeing her son again. She clung fast to that hope.

My mother had a Christian funeral, and during the service I was asked by someone if I was “a believer”. I replied, “Not yet”.

COVID came around. My father was so radicalised by that point that I had to block him on WhatsApp to make him stop sending me anti-vax Bitchute videos (because their creators had been banned from YouTube). He ordered Ivermectin off Amazon but the shipment was blocked, thankfully. I shot his “medical freedom” argument back at him to demand him to approve my Pfizer shot. Miraculously, he relented after 3 hours of intense argument (I also threatened to reveal to the extended family that he was a conspiracy theorist). I am now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In April 2021 I had an Instagram debate with a YEC acquaintance who insisted on a literal interpretation of Genesis. I scoured the web for relevant material and stumbled across BioLogos. Amidst my life’s turmoil, the discussions on this forum were refreshingly rational and stimulating – a breath of cool, unpolluted air. I have been reading this forum for emotional and intellectual therapy ever since. I am also now an agnostic.

This is my convoluted but dramatic story of how I have arrived at this point. I hope I will be able to contribute a new perspective to and drink from the fountain of knowledge of this beautiful community.

PS: I recently found out that my father has been a practicing Taoist for some years now. He studies Taoist scriptures with like-minded friends, although he has admitted he is the only one among them who has not gotten the COVID jab. He has also rejected the theory of human evolution in favour of the Annunaki Genesis. (Seriously.)

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Welcome to the Forum!

I hope you can enjoy the company here.

Wow! That’s quite an intellectually tumultuous first seventeen years of life! Welcome to the forum - and I hope you continue to find good challenge and wisdom among believers (and others) here who take science seriously. We do get our share of wacko visitors here too as you may have noticed by now.

[They are usually pretty easily distinguishable in that they don’t come here to learn, but to spread indoctrination. And when their stuff can’t stand up to the lights of reality, they don’t usually hang around too long - or get ushered out when they finally resort to incivilities.]

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Despite being a white American we have some interesting things in common. My father was a Maoist most of his life but turned to Taoism before the end of it. He was always fascinated by Chinese culture and art. My parents were not atheist exactly but they were highly critical of the Christian establishment. If they had a religion it was liberalism and the psychology they both majored in college. I also had an introduction to Christianity around the same age. I went to a Catholic school for my last year of elementary school and I read the Narnia series around the same time. I guess that did pique my curiosity since it made me determined to get to the bottom of this “God stuff” for myself.

I guess the biggest difference was a greater rationality in what I was exposed to. No conspiracy theorists and no YEC. It was centered in the scientific worldview quite solidly. My mother was into things like astrology and numerology and at the end of his life my father became a bit new agey with an interest in Reiki, homeopathy, and crystals. And I cannot say I ever took such things very seriously though I did have a few bad experiences to give me some reservations about modern scientific medicine. I have had the two Pfizer vaccines but don’t plan on having any more of such.

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Welcome, @rockpapernuke . Thank you for sharing. It reminds us that conspiracy theorists affect so many of those around them also. I have a distant family member whose beliefs are somewhat parallel to your father’s, so have sympathy as his actions have also impacted family.
In adddition, however, I also have compassion for that troubled individual as I believe he has a real mental illness and is not responsible for his bizarre behavior in some areas. Like many with bipolar disorder, he is quite functional and successful professionally. We can still have compassion and care despite the hurt in life. Blessings on your journey, and we look forward to your participation and thoughts on the forum.

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Welcome aboard. Always nice to have another strident agnostic in the house. Later this month I shall become exactly four times your current age but I’m happy to be grouped among the merely thrice as old for now. You express yourself so well and seem remarkably well balanced for one as young as you are. Do you prefer rockpapernuke, RPN, Bertrand or Bertie?

Edited to change “ardent” to “strident” for humorous effect.

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Welcome to the forum. Hope it can at least help with being a healthier place for ideas that go beyond kist science. Glad you got vaccinated.

Out of curiosity you mentioned be agnostic and not praying towards any particular God but your mom becoming Christian. Is the religious curiosity towards Christianity or are you looking st multiple faiths? No judgement on my end.

We love young people, thanks for speaking up!

Thanks for sharing your fascinating story and we welcome your unique perspective on the issues we discuss here. I hope you find some commiseration as you deal with the difficult circumstances of your family life. So sorry to hear about the recent loss of your mom. I’m sure it is all a lot to process in the midst of the turmoil and divisions of the times we are living in.

(It took me a moment to place those initials – I haven’t used an RPN calculator for decades. ; - )

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You are a remarkable man for any age Bertrand. Let alone 17. It’s a privilege to know you. You’d get a LOT of resonance on Ship Of Fools.

PS Get yourself off to Oxford.

If you were really thinking RockPaperNuke, you win. :wink:

Thanks all for the heartwarming responses!

No doubt, but these years have helped me grow in ways that my peers have not felt compelled to do. For example, out of curiosity over my father’s claims, I developed an interest in politics (American mostly, apart from Singapore’s, which is honestly rather bland - if you read anything about Singaporean politics you will empathise).

We do get our share of wacko visitors here too as you may have noticed by now. They are usually pretty easily distinguishable in that they don’t come here to learn, but to spread indoctrination.

“Indoctrination” is a word and concept I know well. My father always said we were being indoctrinated by the government and globalists and schools and whatnot. The older I got the more irony I detected in that. But yes indeed, I have seen first-hand the “wacko visitors”. They are as amusing as they are frustrating.

Intriguing. Your father probably had greater interest in Chinese culture than I do. I’m ethnically Chinese as most Singaporeans are. The pangs of guilt hit sometimes when I reflect on how far removed I am from my heritage. At least I am literate in Mandarin but not to a high standard either. Actually I could go into a whole separate tangent about culture and heritage.

I would not be in the least surprised if my father’s behaviour was indeed the result of untreated bipolar disorder. All who first know him agree on his kindness, wisdom and magnanimity. That is the dad I know and love. Then he starts saying things like “Bill Gates must be killed”. It is difficult to reconcile these two halves.

Noted with appreciation.

LOL

In real life I go by Bertrand or my Chinese name 伟慷. I think you will find the former more convenient.

This is a difficult question. In fact I have so much to say on this that I may start a new thread altogether.

Thank you so much for the empathy. Honestly, I no longer grieve about my mother’s passing. It’s been two years and several months, and I’ve learned to live with it. I am more sad for her, that she would not get to see my future children, for I know she would love them. Things were put in perspective for me last year when a schoolmate tragically and abruptly died in a freak accident. He was an only child. Now what his parents experience is true grief.

I am regrettably too young to get that reference. I googled “ship of fools”… are you referring to the 1965 film?

If I do go to Oxford it would probably be for Politics, Philosophy and Economics, but I honestly fancy Cambridge’s Human, Social, and Political Sciences instead.*

*On the conditions that I get a fully-paid scholarship (those things are fiercely competitive) and excel in my IB exams next year (not too confident). Otherwise, the National University of Singapore is the boring but safe and cheap choice.

I hate to break it to all of you, but my username was simply copied off some guy I played Roblox with when I was a kid. For some reason I decided it sounded cool and started using it as my username on all platforms.

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Oxford’s loss. Sorry, Cambridge’s. Paris or Beijing? SOF. No regrets.

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Indoctrination is a good thing, if the doctrine is true and taught lovingly, or at least without undue authoritarianism. (Similarly, some biases are correct. ; - )

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I have considered Sciences Po. Many of their courses are in English and their tuition fees are far more attractive than that of the British and American giants.

As for Beijing, well, Singapore’s own universities top Peking in the rankings. Might as well enroll locally and then have an exchange semester in Beijing, which I wouldn’t mind.

SOF looks interesting - will check it out. Thanks!

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More like drool with envy. How did you pull off bland over there? Are there people there who could come and educate our voting constituencies over here on that?

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Well - to be fair - all of us are indoctrinated into something, but that does not mean all indoctrination is anything close to equally attentive, or true, or benevolent. So I would tend to reserve the more pejorative uses of the term for the more pernicious, hard core examples.

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Bland because we are essentially a one-party state whose government has not changed hands in the past 57 years. It has its pros and cons. I live in a safer and cleaner and more stable society than most foreigners could ever dream of, but we ranked 160 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index. Go figure.

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Hey Kid,
I don’t usually welcome noobies into this forum, but in your case, the boys down at the bar tell me I really should. So,

As one of the elders here and the self-appointed president pro tempore of the American Cabal of Conspiracy Theorists, I’ve authorized your honorary membership as a Junior CT authority with all benefits. Boy, oh boy, do we have a conspiracy theory for you.

–Regards,
Terry Sampson

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Welcome!
One of my coworkers is from Singapore, and our good neighbors in Africa were missionaries from Singapore. We used to read Singaporean magazines, and BBC has good articles; you have a very interesting history! Our neighbors were wonderful folks. The father’s father escaped through the jungle to Singapore from persecution of the Chinese minority.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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