What caused Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown to abandon his Christian faith?

Here is an interview with Dan Brown, author of “The Da Vinci Code”, and other anti-Christian books.

Excerpt:

Interviewer:
Are you religious?

Dan Brown:
I was raised Episcopalian, and I was very religious as a kid. Then, in eighth or ninth grade, I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a minister, “I don’t get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, but here it says God created heaven and Earth and the animals in seven days. Which is right?” Unfortunately, the response I got was, “Nice boys don’t ask that question.” A light went off, and I said, “The Bible doesn’t make sense. Science makes much more sense to me.” And I just gravitated away from religion.

This experience is common in the workplace and in the university.

Cold case homicide detective Jim Wallace writes:

It’s both sad and frustrating that the minister in Dan Brown’s story was unable to provide a defense for the Christian view of origins. Good, critical questions should be seen as an important part of the Christian faith, but too many of us fail to see our faith as evidential. It’s so important for us to be prepared with a response for questions like those asked by Brown as a child. The Christian worldview offers insightful and power answers to questions related to cosmology, teleology and the Big Bang. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened with Brown had the minister simply been prepared.

My personal view is that even those who believe strongly in young earth creationism should be diligent to also teach their children the arguments for a Creator and Designer from mainstream, old-earth science. Mainstream science points strongly to a Creator and Designer of the universe and is compatible with a respectful interpretation of Genesis.

Here are 6 arguments that every young earth creationist should be able to defend.

  1. The Big Bang
  2. The fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the Big Bang
  3. The fine-tuning needed to provide a habitable galaxy, solar system and planet
  4. The origin of biological information in the simplest living cell
  5. The sudden origin of the major body plans (phyla) in the Cambrian Explosion
  6. The limits of mutation and selection to build up specified complexity

You can read more about these mainstream scientific arguments here. If all your experience learning science apologetics comes from young earth teachers, then you probably will get a huge boost in your effectiveness in the public square by learning these arguments from mainstream science.

I am sympathetic with responsible, well-educated young earth scholars like Dr. Marcus Ross and Dr. Paul Nelson. These scholars acknowledge the real state of the evidence, but are holding out for emerging research that may vindicate their YEC views. They are good scholars, with real degrees, and they are prominent members of the intelligent design movement, which welcomes responsible young earth scholars.

On the other hand, I do not recommend the young earth popularizers like Kent Hovind and Ken Ham. Their material is not good preparation for outward-focused engagement about scientific issues. Christian apologetics today is saturated with old-earth arguments, yet virtually no Christian apologist believes in macro-evolution. Old-earth Christians debate against evolution in public all the time. In fact, they lead the fight against evolution.

Young-earth creationism is strictly targeted to Christians

I just glanced at the ICR web site and ALL THREE of their upcoming conferences are being held in CHURCHES. The Answers in Genesis Conference is being held in a church. Ken Ham’s speaking engagements are all in churches. There are no debates with scientists going on at any of these events! Young-earth creationism is strictly for homeschooling and church. It’s not field-tested for use on the battlefield!

Meanwhile, old-earthers like William Lane Craig are debating against evolution at Indiana University against the top evolutionist in the USA, Francisco Ayala. And he debated prominent New Atheist Christopher Hitchens in front of 5000 people earlier this year at Biola University, too. So you must make your choice from this information about what arguments are useful in the real world. What works in public.

Watch a debate, then decide for yourself

All young earth creationists should watch the debate between Kent Hovind and Hugh Ross below. Kent Hovind has a PhD from a Patriot Bible College in Religious Education. Hugh Ross has a BS in Physics from the University of British Columbia, a MS in Physics and a PhD in Astronomy, both from the University of Toronto, one of the top universities in Canada. He did post-doctoral work at Caltech, the top graduate school for science in the world.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4
Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8
Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12
Part 13 Part 14 Part 15 Part 16

Watch the debate, then decide for yourself!

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21 thoughts on “What caused Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown to abandon his Christian faith?”

  1. I loved this counter to Dan Brown’s conversion story (http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/author-gil-dodgen-discusses-his-loss-of-faith-in-adulthood/):

    “I was raised an atheist, and was very devout as a kid. I studied astronomy, cosmology, and the origins of the universe. I remember saying to a scientist, “I don’t get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, and that all the laws of physics were fine-tuned to make life possible. Wouldn’t this require design and purpose?” Unfortunately, the response I got was, “Only mindless, uneducated religious fanatics ask that question. It was all an accident. Stop asking stupid questions.” But I wasn’t mindless, uneducated, or a religious fanatic. I was an atheist!

    A light went off, and I said, “Materialism doesn’t make sense. Design and purpose in the cosmos makes much more sense to me.” And I just gravitated away from atheism.”

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  2. Imo, the Big Bang theory is ridiculous. You have stated elsewhere that gravity will never ever in a gazillion years pull the universe back together again. Why then should anyone believe that a nebula would ever morph into multiple stars?

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    1. Yes, the mass density that is not sufficient to halt the expansion of the universe.

      Can you explain what you think the big bang theory states and why you think the theory is ridiculous? Which of the 3 standard evidences do you doubt? 1) the red-shifting of light from distant galaxies, the cosmic background radiation, or the light element abundances?

      Also, why do you think so many atheists hate the big bang theory and fought against it, while so many Christians who engage in actual debates love it and use it as an argument FOR a Creator and Designer? (The big bang encompasses the kalam argument AND the fine-tuning argument, either of which is lethal to atheism in a debate)

      I ask because I think a lot of Christians don’t understand what the theory says, nor who the theory is good for and who it is bad for. It’s the silver bullet against atheism. And that is why you get atheists like Anthony Flew converting from atheism to theism because of scientific arguments like these.

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  3. It says that a big explosion of unknown weird stuff generated a really huge really fast cloud of material that spread out and soon changed into mostly hydrogen, and then parts of the hydrogen eventually shrank in on themselves due to gravity and turned into stars, and other parts of the big cloud became gold and lead and all the other elements (or maybe those came from inside stars; I don’t really know or care) and formed rocks, and some of those rocks sank into orbit around the stars and became planets etc.

    The Big Bang Theory is not a silver bullet against atheism. The fact that a universe exists at all is a silver bullet against atheism. The fact that humans can exist at all is a silver bullet against atheism. But the Big Bang Theory itself doesn’t particularly help us at all.

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    1. What are you doing up at this hour?

      Right, the big bang theory states that at t=0, all the matter, energy, space and time came into being. There is nothing in the theory that explains the origin of these things in atheistic terms.

      The reason the theory is a silver bullet against atheism is because it is impossible for things to appear out of nothing without a cause. The cause of nature’s coming into being must be SUPER-natural. It was not in space – it created space. It was not in time – it created time. It is not matter – it created matter. The Big Bang theory implies that the beginning of the universe was caused by a non-physical cause of immense power. The only thing we know about that causes effects that is non-physical is a MIND. And that’s what God is. And that is what the Big Bang theory implies.

      And that is why Christians use it in formal debates against people like Christopher Hitchens. And that is why atheists like Anthony Flew convert from atheism. They cannot defeat the argument.

      Note, there is also the fine-tuning argument we haven’t talked about. The Big Bang had to be ordered to an incredibly high degree to permit complex life of any conceivable kind. (Which is why atheists have to invent stories about infinite numbers of unobservable universes in order to get around the mainstream finding that the universe is fine-tuned!)

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    2. “The Big Bang Theory is not a silver bullet against atheism.”

      But a young universe certainly would be. Even uniformitarian assumptions can show the earth and universe to be much younger than evolutionists require.

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4005.asp

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tba

      Hovnid had a bad of habit of using weak arguments and poorly researched evidence. Why not posts to debates between Ross and Ken Ham or Jason Lisle. It quickly becomes evident that Ross has pile on additional assumptions to defend an old earth as he jumps through hoops to keep the words but change the clear meaning of Biblical narrative. Yes, AIG primarly hold their conferences at churches or Christian universities (http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/aroundtheworld/2009/09/23/aig-at-liberty-university/)
      …in order to teach Christians how to defend their faith and share it with others.

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      1. What it comes down to is Craig’s classical apologetics vs. Van Til and Bahnsen’s presuppositional apologetics. I just can’t understand the mindset that we should concede secular/atheistic interpretations as a starting point to prove God, which will then in turn disprove the interpretation. It’s like using a ladder to climb onto a roof, only to show the ladder to be useless. Isn’t that the exact reason people are leaving the church as illustrated at the beginning of the article? Because the Bible CAN’T be harmonized with millions of years and the big bang? I’ve listened to Craig’s debates, I always come away thinking he conceded way too much ground to Hitchens, etc. When you let the humanists/secularists set the rules of debate, you’ve already lost.

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  4. “Because the Bible CAN’T be harmonized with millions of years and the big bang?”

    I would recommend that you pick up and read Francis Schaeffer’s Answers In Genesis. It is a work that both OEC and YEC *should* be able to get behind, as it answers the question of “what is the least that Genesis can say and have the bible hold together?”

    When you make a statement like that quoted above, it just makes it very clear that you’re not familiar with the position of those that disagree with you. It’s far stronger, far more dismissal, than the best evidence allows.

    No serious scholar doubts that the hebrew word translated as “day” (yom) in Genesis has a wide semantic range to include exceedingly long periods of time. I think the best argument the YECs have from a biblical theological stance is how the bible uses that same word in the rest of scripture.

    But there is a big difference between “might mean,” “can mean,” “should mean,” “likely means,” and “must mean.” OEC most certainly can be harmonious with both the creation account and through that view be harmonious with the entire bible. I suspect you have only heard from YECs that it can’t, and have never bothered to look for yourself.

    Furthermore, this area of vitriolic contempt and infighting amongst Christians is not only completely uneccessary (as a secondary issue), but far worse, is damaging to the reputation of the big C Church and to the spread of the gospel. I think you’d do well to note that WK does a solid job of pointing to solid YEC scholars, even though he doesn’t hold their position (Dr. Marcus Ross and Dr. Paul Nelson).

    As a side point, this is also grossly understated: “Hovnid had a bad of habit of using weak arguments and poorly researched evidence.”

    Dr. Dino’s current residence in the Federal Correctional Institution, Edgefield in Edgefield, South Carolina, should give him plenty of reading time to bone up on his arguments.

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      1. That’s a solid article, though I suspect that those views he disagrees with and presents evidence against may feel he’s a little short on lenght in the presentation. That’s just a guess, because I really find myself agreeing with every point.

        One big thing that Schaeffer brings in addition, is that we need to understand Genesis 1 & 2 in relation not only to each other and creation, but also to Genesis 3 and the rest of the bible. They don’t stand in isolation, and based on the lack of detail and speed with which the narrative moves through the creation account, we must wonder if it’s more interested in quickly setting up and moving from the logical starting point (t=0) and quickly and directly to the problem that the entire rest of the bible is about, namely Genesis 3 and the fall, rather than star formation, hydrology, and biology.

        That’s not to say that Genesis 1 and 2 are unfactual, or unimportant. I have a very high view of scripture, and find no stretching needed or difficulty of any kind in seeing the very best that physical science has to offer fitting into the creation account very neatly. It’s also very important in helping us understand the immense gravity of the fall.

        I think we miss the point, and perform the worst sort of isogesis when we refuse to see Genesis 1 and 2 as a part of the whole salvation historical narrative, rather than ripping them out and trying to make them walk on all four legs.

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  5. I’ve tended towards young earth creationism for various reasons, but I find Kent Hovind a poor advocate for that position.

    I’ve never watched one of his debates or talks on this before, but the consistency of his response and method of debate in just this series leads me to believe this is his standard modus operandi. And it’s terrible.

    Then in video 9, about 6 minutes in, he claims God did not create or allow suffering and evil, which is a specious claim disproven in the story of Job.

    I don’t find everything Hugh says to be believable, but it is the most rational discussion of old earth creationism I’ve heard yet.

    Thanks for posting these videos.

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    1. I didn’t watch it all, but Kent seemed to be arguing that all the laws of chemistry and physics were completely different prior to the fall. It’s an interesting idea, and impossible to disprove. It would allow for faster-moving light, perhaps immortal animals, etc. But I don’t think the Bible really states that animals were immortal prior to the Fall.

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  6. Wow, I guess I’m a big ol’ sinner going to hell then. Sucks. I can’t be loving, have a heart, volunteer, be educated, donate and help others. Man you guys make us seem so horrible. It’s really sad.

    Sounds kinda like my mom repeating over and over again. It’s unfortunate. Just like how kids teased me at Catholic School. It just seems weird that we can’t all be accepting, people are just different. If I’m such a horrible person that I’ll be send to damnation fine.

    White Knight? You don’t sound like one to me.

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    1. Oh quit it. The people in your Catholic school were probably idiots, and so are the other Christians who were mean to you. What you need is to forget about all these people, and just settle down with the evidence and decide for yourself. The more you look at specific people to be perfect Christians to you, the more you’ll be disappointed. May I recommend the Craig-Dacey debate at Purdue University? You can find it on Youtube. God’s attitude towards you is actually one of love, but it’s a relationship – you can’t just do anything you want crazily and expect it to be a relationship that grows into anything. The first step is finding out if he is there. Debates are good for that – you hear both sides.

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    2. “White Knight? You don’t sound like one to me.”

      That’s because he’s wintery knight, not white knight

      Like

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