Tales of a Recovering Answer Addict: From Young-Earth Apologist to Evolutionary Creationist

(system) #1
As a teenager, Mario Russo thought he had all the answers about science and the Bible.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/tales-of-a-recovering-answer-addict-from-young-earth-apologist-to-evolutionary-creationist

(Brad Kramer) #2

Thanks for reading Mario’s story. Mario (@marusso) is available to respond to questions and comments. As per our usual protocol, comments about stories must be limited to clarifying questions or encouraging remarks.

(Joe Olachea Iii) #3

Thanks for this post! I had a similar experiences (minus being home schooling). I grew up in the fundamentalist evangelical world, and was an ultra-literalist when it came to the Bible - which is funny, because the form of literalism I followed wasn’t truly reading the text “literally” (the way the author intended). I ended up majoring in both Business and Biblical Studies, and loved Biblical Studies. Reading the Bible and learning about how to read the Bible changed everything for me. I no longer have to be afraid of the questions, which means I have been able to discover what Scripture really says (at least to the best of my ability). Now I keep pursuing understanding the truth of Scripture rather than the lens I was encouraged to use by the fundamentalist community.

(Mario Anthony Russo) #4

Thanks Joe, it is very encouraging to know that there are others out there like you who understand and can relate to you. There is a great sense of freedom that comes from reading the Bible as it was meant to be read, and a great sense of confidence that comes from knowing that Jesus is Lord of both the Bible and nature.

(Steve Dintaman) #7

A great piece that mirrors my own movement away from YEC, not through better science, but better biblical interpretation. As a theology teacher in a university in eastern Europe I also brought a missiological perspective to my treatment of origins. According the YEC, before I could present the Christian message to students I would first have to discredit their acceptance of evolution. I guess that would be my “pre-evangelism” task. But if I would have taken that tack I would have lost the battle before I ever started. Instead, I startled my students who were prepared to be defensive of evolution by showing them that Genesis 1 assumes an ancient cosmology (what the heck is a ‘firmament’) and has absolutely no interest in the age of the earth or the science of origins. Then I had them read an essay by John Paul II where he restates the Catholic church’s acceptance of evolution as a “worthy theory”, provided it does not deny the creative role of God and the uniqueness of humans. From a missiological perspective, “when in Rome, do as the Romans”. When encountering a person who accepts evolution start from there and show how faith both confirms and completes their view of origins.

(Mario Anthony Russo) #10

Thanks Steve. I completely resonate with your example of “pre-evangelism.” Seeing Genesis 1-2 as ancient cosmology is so crucial to soundly interpreting it.

Believe it or not John Calvin was very helpful as well. His position that “all truth is God’s truth” and so science and the Bible can never actually contradict each other went a long way with me. It was very liberating.

(Patrick ) #12

Thanks for sharing your story. Do you think that early YEC education can be damaging to those people who want to have careers in the sciences? The need for STEM education is great in this country and we are way behind other countries in this regard. Do you think that young people with a YEC background get to college not just ill-prepared but negatively prepared for secular education in the STEM areas that will make them far behind the other students who have been introduced to the sciences in high school?

(Mario Anthony Russo) #13

The short answer to your question is “yes.” How can it be damaging? In several ways. YEC tends to produce people who think they already have all the answers. So the YEC culture is not one, by and large, that is defined by the pursuit of answers or scientific knowledge. I’m not saying the YEC movement discourages this (they don’t), but when you look at the product that is produced, it is not defined by a love for science and the discovery of answers to difficult scientific questions.

Related to this, YEC doesn’t actively or passively train the mind for scientific inquiry. It is primarily concerned with Biblical validation. Any evidence that doesn’t fit the YEC framework is either thrown out or reinterpreted. But an accurate understanding of the sciences (i.e., evolution) can lead to great scientific advances. For example, understanding the evolution of viruses can lead to advances in the field of medicine. Now I know that YE creationists would throw a flag on the field at this point and say they don’t have a problem with the mutations of viruses because it is “micro” and not “macro” evolution. But that doesn’t show a victory for YEC, it just shows how accepting science (evolution) leads to further advances in medicine.

I guess the bottom line for me is that my time in the YEC movement was more about defense than offense. It was more about “defending the Bible” than it was about making scientific advances. But that is the whole problem. YEC assumes that there is a divide between the Bible and science, or more accurately between the Bible and evolution (I am using the terms science and evolution synonymously). But there really isn’t.

So let’s go back to your original question, “Do I think that YEC education can be damaging to those people who want to have careers in the sciences?” Yes. Because it teaches faulty thinking and provides faulty motivation.

(sy_garte) #14

It was fascinating reading your testimony, Mario. Just this past Saturday, I went to hear a lecture by a theologian named Roy Clouser who (like John Walton) has a very different interpretation of Genesis than the standard YEC version. A lot of his talk was focused on the problems with translation from the Hebrew and Greek into English, and wrong meanings of words and concepts being assigned to significant passages. The final interpretation he presented looks nothing like the version trumpeted by Ham et al. In particular, the idea of a perfect world before the Fall was roundly debunked.

I never believed any of this, having never been close to YEC. But it was nice to hear that most of the AiG nonsense is actually mythology unrelated to the real literal meaning of the text. And your eloquent testimony confims this as well. Now if only we could spread this word even further.

(M.R.) #15

Thanks for your story. One point of contention. In your article you high light good answers as scientific proof for evolution. After reading the evidence I found no scientific proof. Science as defined by observation where test can be done. What I found was theories and suppositions that can’t be proven with real science. YEC and evolutionist have the same physical evidence around us today but come to different conclusions about the past based on our presuppositions. True science can never tell us the age of the Earth because we weren’t there to observe it. You have to define your words before you use them to add weight to your argument. I have yet to see any empirical science to prove evolution. Can you give me one example of one species evolving into another? There is no example in the fossil record of transitional forms.Evolution is not science but a belief system.
I was an evolutionist turned YEC



Mario, what a great testimony! I too am a product of 1980s and 1990s YEC culture, so as a former YEC apologist (junior varsity or C team at best), I found your story relatable. And I’m going to check into those books you referenced (McGrath and Asher). Thanks for sharing.

(George Brooks) #17


I don’t think you’ve read much about the actual evidence regarding evolution …

This ALL about the transitional forms…

(M.R.) #18

This chart does not show macro evolution, a fish to a mammal. It shows variances in the horse kind. But they are all still horses. The dates next to the pictures are not proven fact just guesses. I state again there is no evidence in the fossil record that shows macro evolution. In order to have new organisms arise out of existing ones you have to have new genetic information to run the new cells. Example; I have a six year old computer and operating system. It can’t communicate effectively in the www. If I install a new system it can do more because of the new information. The same is needed in the cell to create new parts. But there is no none process by which information can arise out of matter. Without information the cell or computer can do nothing.

(George Brooks) #19

More YEC gymnastics.

If we show you transitional forms WITHIN a category … you call them “all horses”.

What do you do with the transitional forms from Fish to Amphibian to Reptile?

(Mario Anthony Russo) #20

But there is no none [sic] process by which information can arise out of matter."

I’m not sure what you mean by this. Information is coded in matter known as DNA through the combination of 4 different pyrimidine bases. Through the combination of those pyrimidine bases information is produced for the cell in the nucleus. So in that sense information does arise in matter because matter codes the information.

In order to have new organisms arise out of existing ones you have to have new genetic information to run the new cells.

In regards to this and in relation to the previous quote, there are at least 2 known mechanisms in which new information arises from matter in genes through mutations: frame shift mutations and duplication mutations. See below.

(Dcscccc) #21

hey marusso. duplications and frame shift mutations doesnt make any complex system. an average protein is about 300 amino acid long. a lots of this need for its minimal function. lets say only 100. its mean that we need a series of amino acid in the right order to make a functional protein. so the question is what is the chance to get this sequence from a 20^100 possible combinations.

(Dcscccc) #22

george. actually tetrapod appears even before tiktaalik. so its change the whole sequence:

evolution doesnt predict this fossil. ooops…

(George Brooks) #23

I’m not following your point, dcs. The point of my post was to show there are PLENTY of transitional forms. Evolution as a discipline wouldn’t exist without them.

(Dcscccc) #24

george. a transitional form need to be in the right geologic time. so i showed that its not true in the fish to tetrapod evolution. the first tetrapod apear before the missing link between fish and tetrapod. it funny.

(Patrick ) #25

I am the transitional form from my father to my son. And I am still here.