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Reply #3 to Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute, Proponent of Intelligent Design

Casey Luskin

Casey Luskinʼs third response (indented) followed by my own is below. He does not say whether or not he has yet read my second response, especially since he admitted that he had not read my first. Gauging by his citation of “William Thomas” he apparently has not done so. Concerning his citation of Thomas, I.D.ists continue to misconstrue or attempt to bury the most obvious evidence from nature that their Designer appears at best to be a Tinkerer. They rely on the argument “thatʼs a theological, not a scientific objection,” but the Tinkerer hypothesis raises valid questions based on the evidence from nature that I cited. It also reduces the distance between a Designer and Nature alone since it lay on a spectrum between those two poles. The first three paragraphs below are Caseyʼs, followed by my latest response.

Hi Ed, If youʼve “read ID material for years,” then why do you misrepresent basic ID arguments and mis-state how ID proponents detect design? Natural evil, or “suboptimality” donʼt refute design.

If youʼve “read ID material for years,” why do you fail to engage the ID research papers I cited, instead quibbling over details of their review? (They were reviewed by qualified scientists, many of which werenʼt pro-ID.) Todd Woodʼs ideas on this are irrelevant. Your response doesnʼt address ANY of this progress. Instead, you post walls of text off-list about pesticide resistance (something ID proponents readily acknowledge, even by evolving redundant copies of the SAME GENE), neutral mutations (which arenʼt adaptive), and irrelevant points about wasted sperm.

You also mention various diseases—the very “argument from evil” William Thomas called a “theological objection, not a scientific one.” Perhaps you have “read ID material for years.” But you arenʼt engaging with that material.

Hi Casey,

I agree my points are indeed wasted, on you, because you do not understand evolution. Cornelius Hunter and the film that I.D.ists produced (see Expelled Exposed) mocks evolution as “progress” achieved via a highway of blood. But evolution defined in the largest sense is not progress in a straight line sense of the word but radiation, bushes of variant species, trial and error. And that includes species AVOIDING conflict via incessant mutations that take them in a multitude of directions not just one, which means they are filling a growing diversity of ecological niches instead of fighting constantly over a single niche. That recognition makes mincemeat out of the incessant misrepresentations of evolution by I.D.ists.

Along those same lines, evolution includes the fact that the majority of all species on earth are parasites, freeloaders on other species to some degree (including cases of mutually freeloading on each other). And the most successful and prolific parasites do NOT kill their hosts. Heck, every single eukaryote cell has many bacteria-like organelles existing inside it in the form of mitochondria. So our own cells are probably the result of bacteria that evolved a freeloading lifestyle inside a larger cell that evolved. Even viral DNA has found a way to mutually co-exist and flourish inside the eukaryote cell in the form of endogenous retro-viral DNA that has recently been found to be linked to jumping genes and stem cell regulation. So bacteria as well as viruses are living together inside our own cells which appear to have evolved a lifestyle of mutuality, and evolution appears jury-rigged, using “whatʼs there” to make something new, the larger eukaryotic cell out of the earlier prokaryotic cell (bacteria) and viruses. Thatʼs the rest of the story of evolution, that mutuality. I have also mentioned that evolution primarily involves differential reproduction, which means even competition over mates in sexually reproducing forms of life most often does not involve the death of either male competitor but a backing off of one of them.

You challenged me to “engage” when you canʼt even get past the first line of my posts. The “engagement” with the pro-I.D. papers you mentioned is already taking place, at BIOLOGOS (a pro-Christian site), and elsewhere on the web. As I said, you can use my dedicated search engine to discover where this is happening (or has already happened).

And simply writing off Todd Wood does you no good. He has an advanced degree in biology from a major secular institution and has worked with secular specialists specifically in the field of DNA research. Woodʼs own study of the human and chimpanzee genome proved to him that the genetic evidence raises problems for those who wish to deny common descent. He also admits that evolution is not a theory in crisis, but believes his case is best served by remaining calm and attempting to build up alternative interpretations, but he does not claim creationism is as comprehensive as evolutionary theories and hypotheses at present. In contrast I.D. folks like yourself seem to think and act like evolution is already past being refuted.

Speaking of which, I agree with you that “sub-optimality” does not “refute” design. But if you are willing to admit “sub-optimality,” then please admit you MAY be speaking about a Tinkerer that is not necessarily an all-knowing and all-powerful Designer who could create everything in the blink of an eye exactly as preconceived and totally optimal.

A Tinkerer fits the evidence quite well, a Tinkerer whose work required over a trillion planets and billions of years before life appeared on a few of them. A Tinkerer that required countless mutations, both natural and tinkered together, and countless generations to produce countless extinct species, including extinct cousin species, extinct cousins of cousin species, before “finishing their Grand Tinkering.”

Hypothesizing a Tinkerer may be a step up from hypothesizing that Nature was inherently the tinkerer (Naturalism), but itʼs certainly as reasonable to hypothesize a Tinkerer as it is to hypothesize an all-knowing and all-powerful Designer given all the evidence from nature that I cited in my second reply, here.

And for all we know this same Tinkerer could have been Tinkering around creating countless cosmoses just as it was tinkering around with the creation of countless planets until life arose on a few of them. If it took over a trillion planets before life could arise on a few of them in our cosmos, maybe it took countless cosmoses before one arose in which planets could also arise.

Likewise it took untold numbers of species that became extinct before the world was filled with ones that the Tinkerer felt were “just right,” and even then there remained species inimical to human life — indeed most of the cosmos remains inimical to life. And for all of the eons the Tinkerer spent tinkering with genomes, the Tinkerer left genes inside both plants and animals that were inimical to their own lives, genes for cancer and other diseases.

So my point is not that anyone has “refuted design,” but that the evidence is not so clear concerning the type of Designer that might actually exist. And a Tinkerer certainly fits natureʼs oh so visible sub-optimal ways, taken as a whole.

I also understand how difficult it is to “refute” any big idea in philosophy. Arguments over nature and supernature, monism and dualism, the one and the many, have been going on since the days of the pre-Socratic philosophers 2,500 years ago. The pieces of the philosophical pie of Big Questions have merely been cut and re-cut into ever smaller, more precisely worded slices, but the ingenuity of each defender of each slice continues the debate. With that being said, yes, “nothing refutes design,” for the simple reason nothing refutes the reply that “I believe a miracle happened here.” For all we know cork was designed in order that humans might store wine in casks and bottles. For all we know the human nose was placed squarely between the eyes in order to support eyeglasses. For all we know sand was designed so that we might build computers out of silicon chips. But what a lengthy arduous path it has been for humans to acquire such knowledge concerning how to use nature to our own ends. Is that by design, or are we each little tinkerers, tinkered together in the somewhat near image of a Great Tinkerer?

Speaking of tinkering (if our species and its civilization survives) then quantum computers might one day be linked to sensors as acute as our eyes and ears, and to a program that accumulates and compares knowledge, a learning program, thus joining our species in the long arduous quest for further knowledge. Aside from that possibility, itʼs also a big enough cosmos such that it deserves more of a look than simply peering through our narrow window pane of organisms on earth.

But, wait for it, here comes the I.D. refrain, “Look at the flagellum!” If an I.D.ist canʼt explain it nobody can. But discrete elements of the flagellum are not absent completely from other known species of bacteria on our planet. And who knows what we might discover on other planets or moons in the way of single-celled life forms? Weʼd all like to be able to look at the single-celled species of bacteria and eukaryotes in the distant past on earth but the paleontological evidence from that far back is absent aside from a few fossils of single celled species, coupled with whatever we can glean from the species today. But bacteria have been exchanging DNA in ways that sexually reproducing species cannot do, so tracing all their evolutions in the past, especially during the time when bacteria first arose and when single-celled life forms were the only ones on the planet for around 2 billion or more years, remains impossible. But that does not make modern day species of bacteria and eukaryotes that have “flagella” evolutionʼs demise. And for all we know if human civilization and curiosity last long enough we might discover at least one nearby planet or moon that contains nothing but single-celled life forms, perhaps some featuring flagella with some of their nearest cousins still around as well. The truth is that we havenʼt gotten off the cradle planet yet.

A paraphrased quotation from Mark Twain appears appropriate here: “We have all kinds of trouble solving man-made mysteries, but when it comes to the mystery of God/Designer et al vast numbers of people claim to have it figured out.”

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Reply #2 to Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute, Proponent of Intelligent Design

Caseyʼs response to my first reply appears in the two paragraphs below. He admits he never read my response here.

Thanks for the reply, Ed, but I stopped reading when I hit “I.D. has come no further.” Really? Last year ID published its 50th peer-reviewed scientific paper. Those papers show simulations of evolution require intelligence to produce new high complex and specified information (CSI), which doesnʼt arise by Darwinian processes. Some experimentally test biological systems and detect high CSI. ID is producing both empirical and theoretical research that backs its claims. Your curt denial of this progress doesnʼt negate it. For details, please see http://www.discovery.org/a/2640

Re your other comment: The fact that organisms die doesnʼt refute ID—We have TONS of experience with things that that wear out or stop working, but are designed. We detect ID by finding high CSI. You can have high CSI in an organism that dies. Youʼve put forth a straw man test of ID, and havenʼt addressed my initial rebuttal. For details, please see: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/undesirable_int056831.html

Second Response to Casey

How many of those papers were published in the new I.D. journal, peer-reviewed by other I.D.ists? And to what degree were such papers devoid of other interpretations? Those who wish to pursue individual cases should plug the names of the I.D.ists writing the papers into the dedicated search engine at the top of my blog pages. Then they will discover links to responses from non-I.D.ists. (Neither has the YEC, Todd Wood been very impressed by I.D. papers, see Toddʼs Blog, nor the ex-I.D.ist Dennis Venema who has published detailed critiques of I.D.ist arguments at BIOLOGOS, a website run by Evangelical Christians and founded by a Christian and biologist who headed the Human Genome Project and where Christians who are scientists defend misunderstandings of evolution by creationists and I.D.ists.

Some I.D.ist research resembles creationist ploys such as calculating odds of a particular protein forming. But nature takes advantage of a range of options that neither evolutionists nor I.D.ists have the capacity to fully map or predict — for instance mosquitoes that developed resistance to DDT evolved multiple copies of the esterase genes that enabled them to detoxify it; while cotton budworms evolved a different method, an alternate target for the poison, and houseflies evolved yet another method, i.e., altered proteins that transported the poison away. So calculating the odds of a particular protein evolving are not the point of evolution which takes advantage of a broader range of possible changes that we have the ability to map or predict.

We also know for a fact that the genome is mutating, especially with each meiotic division of a germ cells, so mutations are continual, generation after generation.

We also know by comparing genomes within the same species that Neutral mutations are the most plentiful, so mutations are abundant, and there are lots of neutral mutations to choose from that could one day lead to something “different.”

And we also know that each living organism has to vault over countless hurdles until it reaches its own age of reproduction and begins passing along its new mutations. And the majority of organisms never get to pass along their mutations, or the majority pass them along to a lesser degree than some minority within their own species. How Many Organisms Donʼt Pass Go? (If what happens in nature was repeated by human designers we would not consider them highly competent at their jobs, especially if they were given omnipotent powers of creation.) See these examples:

A single bacterial cell that divides every twenty minutes will multiply to a mass four thousand times greater than the earthʼs in just two days. That doesnʼt happen because of the inconceivably huge death rate of bacteria. The vast majority of them donʼt pass all the hurdles of nature. (Bacteria also illustrate enormous evolutionary adaptability since they have the ability to harbor loads of mutations even surviving large doses of radiation, and they can share genetic material, and they have short reproductive cycles and hence can form enormous populations with loads of mutations in short periods of time (a boon of asexual reproduction since each individual organism can reproduce, no sex needed), Hence, We Find That Bacteria Have Adapted To The Most Extreme Environments, i.e., extreme-o-phile species of bacteria. Thatʼs exactly what we would expect of bacterial species if evolution were true. Including the fact that bacteria are so small such that countless numbers of them exist both inside and outside of our human bodies and those of all other species. In fact bacteria are so small that thereʼs more bacteria inside and outside a human body than there are human body cells.)

A sunfish sometimes lays three hundred million eggs. The vast majority of them donʼt pass all the hurdles of nature, a huge majority fail to survive to pass along their genes.

If all the eggs from one mother housefly lived, she would produce more than five trillion offspring in just one season.

A single oyster, left to its own devices, produces more than one-hundred-twenty-five million eggs in a season. Thatʼs more than enough oysters, if none died in eight years, [10 to the 89th power number of oysters] to crowd the water out of the oceans and make it cover the earth.

A female sea turtle lays a hundred or more eggs, but after they hatch in a nest buried beneath the sand on the beach only a handful of baby sea turtles make it to the safety of the ocean.

About one hundred million sperm cells are found in each cubic centimeter of human ejaculate. Yet only one sperm lives to fertilize the femaleʼs egg. The rest die. There are equally bountiful numbers from the world of seed-bearing plants.

And speaking not just about wasted sperm, but of egg cells that are fertilized [i.e., zygotes] the pro-lifer, Dr. John Collins Harvey, admits, “Products of conception [often] die at either the zygote, morula, or blastocyst stage. They never reach the implant stage but are discharged in the menstrual flow of the next period. It is estimated that [this] occurs in more than 50 percent of conceptions. In such occurrences, a woman may never even know that she has been pregnant.” 50 percent failure.

And a fairly high percentage (20-30% or more?) of people born as single individuals used to be twins in the womb but one of them was reabsorbed into the womb or into the other twin. (See “Vanishing Twin” syndrome.)

Even after being born, please note that two hundred years ago the French naturalist, Buffon, lamented, “Half the children born never reach the age of eight.” So half of all fertilized human egg cells fail, and half of all children born never reached the age of eight until the development of modern plumbing (for water safety) and modern medical science.

Casey, What do you honestly think about a factory filled with human designers whose designs functioned on such a feeble basis?

But the questions grow even greater once you add in the countless cousin species (and cousins of cousin species) of lemurs, monkeys, apes, and apes with larger craniums than present day species of apes, and several known human species, that all went Extinct long before modern day humans appeared on the scene. Cousin species and cousins of cousin species, including some known species of apes with larger than modern day cranial sizes, and including known species of humans, that all went Extinct before we reached modern humans.

There is no firm line one can trace in the case of any so-called “design” of modern day species. Evolution looked at Big Picture wise does not resemble progress so much as fecundity and taking advantage of the widest array of possible situations. So what we see in nature fits evolution via mutation and natural selection at least as much as it fits the idea of a Designer (who has to constantly keep readjusting matters, entering and exiting the room constantly over the eons, invisibly tinkering about, and then leaving the room, and while tinkering with genes not removing genes for cancers and illnesses, not removing those). And for all such tinkering we see the failures of the majority of sperms and eggs, and newborns, and the extinction of countless cousin species and cousins of cousin species.

Letʼs get into planets as well. Talk about wasted real estate in our own solar system and probably in countless others, and our planet being in one spiral arm of but one galaxy out of a couple hundred billion galaxies with countless stars and probably countless planets too. If a human designer made that many empty planets what would one think? (The creationist ploy up till the early 1980s was to deny even the existence of other systems of planets throughout the cosmos.)

For more of my posts on I.D. please click on the “Intelligent Design” label.


A Historical Figure Worth Note

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
“It has been said that ‘Truly, Buffon was the father of all thought in natural history in the second half of the 18th century’.”
“…outlined a history of the Earth with little relation to the Biblical account, and proposed a theory of reproduction that ran counter to the prevailing theory of pre-existence. The early volumes were condemned by the Faculty of Theology at the Sorbonne. Buffon published a retraction, but he continued publishing the offending volumes without any change.”
Charles Darwin wrote in his preliminary historical sketch added to the third edition of On the Origin of Species: ‘Passing over… Buffon, with whose writings I am not familiar’. Then, from the fourth edition onwards, he amended this to say that ‘the first author who in modern times has treated it [evolution] in a scientific spirit was Buffon.’ But as his opinions fluctuated greatly at different periods, and as he does not enter on the causes or means of the transformation of species, I need not here enter on details”. Buffonʼs work on degeneration, however, was immensely influential on later scholars but was overshadowed by strong moral overtones.

According to Ernst Mayr:
He was not an evolutionary biologist, yet he was the father of evolutionism. He was the first person to discuss a large number of evolutionary problems, problems that before Buffon had not been raised by anybody…. he brought them to the attention of the scientific world.

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Biogeography and The Evidence for Evolution vs. Intelligent Design (Response to Jonathan McLatchie, a Discovery Institute Intern, who is reviewing Jerry A. Coyne's book, Why Evolution is True)

Biogeography, Evidence for Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Jonathan McLatchie is an intern at the Discovery Institute, and he is posting reviews of Jerry A. Coyneʼs book, Why Evolution is True. Jonathan claims that Biogeography is not of much assistance to evolutionists, and in his rebuttal to Coyne he poses some difficulties in cases of the natural dispersal of freshwater species of animals, of various plants, and even of monkeys round the world. However Jonathan does not suggest any supernatural mechanism for such dispersals, heʼs just picking at a limited number of difficulties, none of which appear to be absolutely insurmountable via natural means, and so the massive amount of evidence in favor of natural biogeographic dispersal as well as evidence for unique evolutionary differences accumulating on distant islands and disconnected continents remains intact, as weʼll see in my response to Jonathan below.

@Jonathan McLatchie You mentioned in your article the dispersal round the world of species of freshwater crabs, freshwater amphibians, berry bushes, etc. on different continents and implied it would be impossible for such strictly freshwater species to disperse so far or so widely, but all that needs to be distributed are the sticky soft eggs of the animals (crabs and amphibians can lay over 1,000 eggs at a time) in water holes that can get stuck to a birdʼs feathers or legs. In the case of plants their seeds are often passed through a birdʼs digestive tract and are capable of germinating afterwards. And neither does such a method of dispersal always need to occur over great distances but could merely take the eggs to the nearest fresh water hole since future generations of crabs or amphibians could have their eggs transferred by a different bird to the next distant watering hole.

You also mentioned the odds of Old World monkeys in Africa crossing the Atlantic to South America to start the evolution of New World monkeys. But the first thing that must be said is that it was an analysis of molecular phylogeny and tectonic plate shifting that led to such a question arising in the first place. Notice how all the New World monkeys are grouped together in this molecular phylogeny analysis published in 2011, A Molecular Phylogeny of Living Primates. PLoS Genetics, 2011; and this 2012 article, Chromosome Evolution in New World Monkeys (Platyrrhini) Cytogenet Genome Res 2012.

And I found a research paper on the dispersal of monkeys from Africa to South America see, Paleogeography of the South Atlantic: A Route for Primates and Rodents into the New World? by Felipe Bandoni de Oliveira, Eder Cassola Molina, and Gabriel Marroig. In short, the oceans were lower, the continents were not as far apart, the distance across the Atlantic was a little less than half of what it is today, larger islands existed, and the necessary currents leading from Africa to South America were in place at that time because the Isthmus of Panama had not yet formed. Also, the event could have taken place 10 million years earlier than the fossil and molecular clock evidence currently suggest (when the continents were that much closer to one another). No doubt such a dispersal event would not be a common occurrence, but rather a one of a kind occurrence, and thatʼs EXACTLY what the genetic evidence suggests (as already cited in two papers above), namely that New World monkeys share a common New World ancestor. A similarly rare event apparently took place in the case of some land-dwelling carnivores from Africa dispersing to Madagascar, since their genes also suggest a common lineage from not more than one dispersal event just as an evolutionist might expect given the rarity of such an event: [Yoder, A D; Burns, M M; Zehr, S; Delefosse, T; Veron, G; Goodman, S M; Flynn, J J. Single Origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African Ancestor. 2003, Nature, 421, p 734-737]

How did those two rare events (that also lead to evolutionary radiation of those species after they reached their new homelands) take place? A tsunami perhaps, sweeping animals out to sea along with trees and other natural debris. But speaking of such rare, one of a kind dispersal events, they are the rare exceptions. Because when you study the biogeographical history of marsupial and mammalian evolution worldwide it fits together neatly with what is known of tectonic movements over time with the probabilities being heavily in favor of natural means of animals dispersing round the world as they evolved, including an evolutionary understanding of why we find marsupials dominating Australia—a continent full of evidence supporting evolutionary biogeography.

See Video: Evolution Of Mammals And Their Dispersal —Look at all the species that fit the dispersal scenario among all the other continents without major difficulties.

See also this piece on the Platypus and Australian marsupials, and why the evidence supports evolution.

And this piece on Living Fossils that discusses the biogeography of animals found only on the Hawaiian islands such as fruit fly species that are more diverse there than anyplace else on earth featuring species that are larger, more colorful, and that “sing,” as well as featuring the only known species of carnivorous caterpillar.

One last point to ponder, once you accept the preponderance of evidence that favors common ancestry (as does Behe at the Discovery Institute), one might wonder a bit as to why there is NO EVIDENCE OF A PLAIN STRAIGHTINTELLIGENTLYDIRECTED ROAD that the Designer took toward “designing” a species? The evidence in nature suggests endless cousin species, even cousin species of cousin species, continual branching paths, with few survivors, and that includes the evidence concerning how humans evolved. The Designer left behind in our wake untold branches of cousin species, and cousins of cousin species, trailing endlessly backwards in time, the vast majority of them having evolved only to become extinct, including the extinction of early species of humans, the extinction of early species of apes that had larger brains than any known living species of apes, extinct species of monkeys, lemurs, and their endless cousins, etc. All one can say based strictly on the paleontological evidence is that the surviving species survived, and that cousin species also had cousin species, so on and so forth, and the vast majority of them all went extinct. Therefore the so-called evidence for design over geologic periods of time is neither plain nor straightforward.

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Reply #1 to Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute, Proponent of Intelligent Design

Casey Luskin

Hi Casey,

I recall our conversations from years ago. I.D. has come no further. And you missed the point.

Itʼs not the problem of pain and cruelty, itʼs all the “stumbling about” based on what we know about the history of how organisms arose, via reproduction and death repeated endlessly, billions of years of stumbling about, countless “tries,” and the extinctions of the vast majority of them, including the extinctions of species of upright hominids with brains larger than those of modern apes, and even the extinctions of a few early species of humans.

Note also the scattershot approach to bringing life forth in the cosmos, designing or perhaps tinkering with endless numbers of galaxies, stars, planets, just to produce one viable planet, and even then not extremely viable, since an enormous proportion of the land on earth is desert that is far from filled with life (both sandy and frozen wastelands).

As for junk DNA, The theory of evolution does not demand that a lot of “junk DNA” exist.  And neither has the idea of “junk DNA” been fully rejected by the ENCODE folks. And even the ENCODE folks admit that concerning the new functions they found for portions of DNA, that importance lies along a relative scale (some DNA is not very important at all relative to other DNA), as even a YEC like Todd Wood pointed out.

Todd should be as enthusiastic as you when it comes to every new discovery that finds some degree of functionality in various portions of DNA since heʼs a YEC, but he remains pretty calm about the whole matter, and admits there are difficulties with creationism, and that modern studies of genetics are not giving up the ghost to creationism or I.D., and that evolution is not a theory in crisis about to be overturned tomorrow. Maybe itʼs because of Toddʼs advanced degree in biochemistry and his own work with DNA?

Take for instance the new discovery that viral DNA that has been inserting itself into the germ cells of our common ancestor for untold ages, and thought useless, but has been found to be useful in stem cell differentiation. Viral DNA apparently is linked to jumping genes (which makes sense since viral genetic material once injected into a cell takes command of it, controlling DNA, and probably jumping all over a healthy cellʼs DNA). But this new discovery fits into the larger tale of the evolution of eukaryotic cells, a tale of the jury-rigged rise of eukaryotic cells. There has been evidence and discussion for a while now concerning another cellular component, the mitochrondria, and how they probably arose from a species of bacteria that wound up inside early eukaryotic cells, living together in harmony. The mitochondria in our cells resemble bacteria in that they have their own mitochondrial DNA and mitochondrial division resembles that of bacteria dividing, so they are mostly separate from the DNA found in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell. So itʼs not unusual to now discover that eukaryotes also live symbiotically with the viral DNA that has been invading their cell walls probably ever since the first eukaryotic cells have been around. So what we are discovering is that our cells, the large cells known as eukaryotic cells, are the jury-rigged products of evolutionary symbiosis of different kinds of early organisms, both bacteria and viruses.

Thereʼs also evidence of evolutionary arms races evident throughout nature, one species prompting changes in another species, creating either further specialization in both species, or leading to jury-rigged symbiosis in both species as they each find their niches either one inside the other or beside the other.

Neither is evolution the story of “progress” as Cornelius Hunter put it recently on your blog. Itʼs the story of proliferation, of finding and filling niches via continued speciation, and when more diverse niches are filled instead of continuing to compete over a single niche, that often avoids competition. It produces as I said, a greater proliferation of species. And parasites that live off of (or freeload off of) other species in some way are the most numerous of all species per one book I read, and of course the most successful parasites are the ones that donʼt simply kill their host fast, which also kills the parasites. The most successful parasites are the ones you donʼt even know are there, like the tons of diverse parasites living on our skin, in our bodies and in our belly button. [Study finds a “rain forest” of species in our belly button.]

Dennis Venema and a host of Christians with advanced degrees in biology as well as a host of mainstream geneticists are going to always be there, and they seem to be gaining in momentum moreso than I.D. these days, what with the creation of the BIOLOGOS website, and the headlines about evolution questions continuing to heat up among Evangelicals in Christianity Today.

And Evangelical Christian theologians are also jumping into the fray, pointing out that Genesis is not about “science,” itʼs about ancient Near Eastern cosmic temple building, ancient cosmological notions that were pre-scientific.  So the impetus that creationism and I.D. once gained from the view that God was actively popping new organisms into existence, or tinkering with their genes over eons, is not necessarily supported by Evangelical theologians who are pointing out that Genesis 1 has nothing to do with science.

Also, I.D.ists are stuck like the creationists before them, complaining that evolution has not provided as detailed an explanation as they would like. But whatever evolution doesnʼt know concerning exactly how things evolved, I.D. has even less knowledge concerning how a Designer worked out inside his head how and why to make things in such and such a fashion.

Lastly, anyone wishing to read replies to the latest I.D. arguments and its claims of evolutionʼs imminent demise can look up rebuttals to I.D. arguments on my dedicated search engine at the top of all my blog pages. It includes links to pro-evolution pages by non-religious scientists as well as links to pro-evolution pages by Evangelical Christians who are scientists and theologians. You just have to type in the name of the prominent person, say an I.D.ist, and the links that appear will often lead you to responses to the latest I.D.ist arguments made by that person.

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“Design” by Robert Frost

Camouflaged spider

The poet, Robert Frost once wrote a little gem, titled, “Design,” in which he described a “fat, dimpled spider” sitting on a flower, having just finished devouring a moth, “itʼs dead wings carried like a paper kite.” Frost pointed out that this “snow-drop spider” was of the same white hue as the flower it sat upon, so it could lie in wait without being detected. The flowerʼs sweet scent attracted moths to dine at the very place where the moths then became the dinner of the camouflaged spider. Frost asked:

What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?—
If design govern in a thing so small.

See also:

The Most Provocative Things Ever Said About the way God “designed” the cosmos

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The Fine-Tuning Argument, Some Questions

Fine Tuning

Some theists (from progressive creationists to I.D.ists and Fine-Tuners) have argued that humanity was created at the ideal moment in geological time, viz.: A God of infinite wisdom and power prepared the way for the ascendancy of mammals and eventually Homo sapiens by carefully planning and accomplishing the dinosaurʼs demise via asteroid, or a combination of major volcanic activity and asteroid. The vast forests grew and decayed for over a hundred million years because of Godʼs plan to provide coal to humanity and so such products would not appear artificially inserted miraculously into Nature. Millions of sea creatures were born and perished to provide oil, natural gas, chalk, and diatomaceous earth for humanity. (For one of the earliest instances of such an argument see Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, [1955] Paternoster: Exeter, Devon UK, 1967, reprint, p.155.)

REPLY: Arguments and claims about what “God” or “a Designer” did, and “why” they did it, are all “after the fact.” Itʼs always possible to come up with rationalizations and justifications for “why” something happened after the fact, since you are free to invent whatever interpretations you like since the answers lay hidden from view, i.e., in Godʼs mind alone. (Interpreting Scripture is also like that. Two people can read Genesis, but interpret it quite differently, and neither of them can show the other what “Godʼs mind” was thinking when He inspired a particular verse in Scripture, thus contested interpretations abound.) One can at best, point out alternative, equally ad hoc, interpretations, i.e., substituting different “reasons” or “rationalizations” for what you think might have been in Godʼs mind. Going into greater detail, below are 10 Counter-Points to the Fine-Tuning Argument:

  1. What if God or “the Designer” was planning on evolving upright dinosaurs with two free hands and more complex brains, but the asteroid spoiled the original plan, so the Designer switched plans? (Any Designer with infinite wisdom and infinite power could have designed an intelligent upright reptilian species. According to paleontologists, some species of dinosaurs were already moving along on two legs long before mammals arose, while other evidence indicates that some dinosaurs were clever hunters and even showed motherly defense of their young, long before the mammals came along.)

  2. Why kill the dinosaurs via asteroid(s) and/or volcanoes? Such blunt means wipe out entire ecosystems of plants and animals that could have produced far more biomass and more coal and oil if they had been left alive. That was supposed to be the original argument, wasnʼt it, to produce coal and oil? Instead, whole ecosystems and their biomass was burnt up via a huge catastrophic conflagration followed by a cloudy sky and cooler temperatures that again inhibited lush biomass grow. (Any Designer of infinite wisdom and power could have exterminated only the dinosaur species, leaving the rest of the living world unharmed and building up more biomass. Looks to me like a lack of foresight and imagination on the part of the Designer, kind of like using a sledge hammer to remove thorns from a rose bush. Instead, a lot of biomass went to waste, not just the dinosaurs, but ecosystems, and so the biomass engine was stalled.

  3. That brings us to this question: Why are miracles O.K. for explaining the “progressive creation/evolution” of different species, but not O.K. for explaining the creation of the mineralogical environment that God was preparing for humanity for so very very long? I am talking about the idea that God could have simply inserted miraculously all the oil and coal in the earth that humanity would need, without having to create humanity so late in geologic time, and without having to wait for so many species to be created and then be destroyed and become extinct, and without having to stall the biomass engine a number of times, etc.

    A relevant quotation: Suppose that upon some island we should find a man a million years of age, and suppose we found him living in an elegant mansion, and he should inform us that he lived in that house for five hundred thousand years before he thought of putting on a roof, and that he but recently invented windows and doors; would we say that from the beginning he had been an infinitely accomplished and scientific architect? [Robert Ingersoll]

  4. How do you know that the Designer "wanted humanity to have" oil, coal, gas, chalk, diatomaceous earth, etc.? Saying such a thing is after the fact. You can always invent lots of explanations after the fact, like:

    • God put the nose and ears where they are so weʼd be able to wear glasses.

    • God made cork trees so weʼd have something to plug up the ends of our wine bottles.

    • God invented lambʼs intestines so weʼd be able to make lamb-skin condoms.

    • God made radioactive elements so weʼd be able to…

    You get the point.

    Quotations From Folks With Similar Questions:

    People who believe in “intelligent design” point us to the sunshine, to flowers, to the April rain, and to all there is of beauty and of use in the world. Did it ever occur to them that a cancer is as beautiful in its development as is the reddest rose? That what they are pleased to call the adaptation of means to ends, is as apparent in the cancer as in the April rain? By what ingenious methods the blood is poisoned so that the cancer shall have food! By what wonderful contrivances the entire system of man is made to pay tribute to this divine and charming cancer! What beautiful colors it presents! Seen through a microscope it is a miracle of order and beauty. All the ingenuity of man cannot stop its growth. Think of the amount of thought it must have required to invent a way by which the life of one man might be given to produce one cancer. Is it possible to look upon it and doubt that there is a design in the universe, and that the inventor of this wonderful cancer must be infinitely powerful, ingenious and good? [Robert Ingersoll]

    We are all naturally like that madman at Athens, who fancied that all the ships were his that came into the Port of Pyraeus. Nor is our folly less extravagant. We believe all things in nature have been designed for our use. Ask any theologian why there is such a prodigious number of stars when a far lesser number would perform the service they do us, and he answers coldly, “They were made to please our sight.” [Bernard de Fontenelle, A Plurality of Worlds, published in 1686]

    If Other Species Had Enough Intelligence to Ask the Question Wouldnʼt They Consider the Cosmos To Have Been Made “For Them?”

    Until the 1800s almost everyone had fleas and lice. In the 1600s it was considered bad manners to take lice, fleas or other vermin from your body and crack them between your fingernails in company. [Tim Woods and Ian Dicks, What They Donʼt Teach You About History] Obviously only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create “the flea” - a tiny insect with a thin body for moving easily through hair, and with immensely powerful legs for leaping many times their body length onto passing prey; and with the added ability to not just hurry and bite, but to spread infections, including plague germs which killed tens of millions of people in Europe and Asia in a few short years. My dear fleas, you are the cherished work of God; and this entire universe has been made for you. God created man only to serve as your food, the sun only to light your way, the stars only to please your sight, etc. [Voltaire, “Sermon Preached Before Fleas”]

    An Infinite Being Takes Billions of Years to Create Humanity?

    Are we really so splendid as to justify such a long prologue? The philosophers lay stress on values: they say that we think certain things good, and that since these things are good, we must be very good to think them so. But this is a circular argument. A being with other values might think ours so atrocious as to be proof that we were inspired by Satan. Is there not something a trifle absurd in the spectacle of human beings holding a mirror before themselves, and thinking what they behold so excellent as to prove that a Cosmic Purpose must have been aiming at it all along? Why, in any case, this glorification of Man? How about lions and tigers? They destroy fewer animal or human lives than we do, and they are much more beautiful than we are. How about ants? They manage the Corporate State much better than any Fascist. Would not a world of nightingales and larks and deer be better than our human world of cruelty and injustice and war? The believers in Cosmic Purpose make much of our supposed intelligence but their writings make one doubt it. If I were granted omnipotence, and millions of years to experiment in, I should not think Man much to boast of as the final result of all my efforts. [Bertrand Russell, “Cosmic Purpose” in Religion and Science]

    The Analogy of the Puddle That Perfectly Fits The Hole It Happens to Occupy

    Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in and an interesting hole I find myself in. Fits me rather neatly, doesnʼt it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, itʼs still frantically hanging on to the notion that everythingʼs going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. [Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhikerʼs Guide to the Galaxy)]

  5. Knowing the remarkable varieties of species the Designer was busy creating for hundreds of millions of years prior to humanityʼs last minute arrival on the scene, it seems a shame to destroy the majority of them, sometimes slowly, sometimes in vast catastrophes. Like knocking over a game table. What kind of a “game plan” is that? While humanity only gets to puzzle over their bones?

  6. Neither do we know how long manʼs “ascendancy” or those of the mammals will last. If we get along for 130 million years like the dinosaurs did weʼll be lucky, and if we survive for a similar period of 130 million years, what will human beings look like by then? Maybe weʼll have added genetic features via bioengineering? Or weʼll build silicon brains or hybrid silicone/bio brains that keep track of far more knowledge. Or, some robotic, or bio-engineered species will replace humanity? Or some meteors or cosmic rays or solar flares or passing star or black hole or nearby nova will extinguish life on earth and some other civilized race traveling through our solar system will merely cite “the story of life on earth” as an object lesson concerning the dangers inherent in the cosmos.

  7. What about life on other planets? If evidence of simple living organisms are found on Mars, or on one of Jupiterʼs moons, or on some planet or moon outside our particular solar system, how would the creation hypothesis or the I.D. hypothesis interpret such discoveries? Would the creationist admit God was specially creating things not mentioned in the Bible, or the I.D.ist admit that God was miraculously designing simple organisms elsewhere in the cosmos that didnʼt really need to be miraculously designed?

  8. Reminds me of the account in Genesis that states God created the two great “lights” (literal Hebrew is “lamps”) to rule the day and night on earth, but other planets in our solar system also have great lamps, even a multitude of lamps (moons) to rule their nights and “for signs and seasons” in their heavens. I might ask why this is so, and why those planets also have their own “days and nights” “evenings and mornings” of their own unique duration having nothing to do with the earthʼs duration? Modern astronomical facts make the Genesis account appear a tad parochial, earth-centered, having everything created just to light the earth and fill it, during “six” evenings and morning on earth. And a little awkward having to explain why God created/designed all those other “lamps” to “rule the nights” of uninhabited worlds.

  9. Even if a Designer planned to give us coal and oil, note that the burning of coal has released much mercury into the environment all over the planet. Now the mercury levels are so high that it is not advisable to eat large ocean going fish more than a few times per month or less, like tuna. The burning of coal and oil and using petroleum to manufacture plastics and to run factories has released pollutants galore, including PCPs, which also are polluting the entire planet. In fact the Killer Whales in the Pacific Northwest are dying out because of PCP poisoning according to a National Geographic special I saw recently, “The Dolphin Defenders.” The carcasses of dead Killer Whales are so full of PCPs that they have to be treated like dangerous chemical waste. And of course, we also know that the worldʼs oil supply will not last forever, because demand, especially in China and India is growing exponentially. In a blink of geological time, mankindʼs industrial revolution may have come and gone:

    “It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing high intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only.”
    (Hoyle, 1964)

  10. Also click on these pieces…

    They explain why the concept of “providence” seems to raise as many questions for some as it answers for others.

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Suffer the Children to Come Unto Me — Jesus

Suffer the Children, Jesus

The phrase, “Suffer the children to come unto me [=Jesus]” is from the King James Bible which was written in Elizabethan English. At that time the word “suffer” meant “allow.” Just “allow” children to “come to Jesus?” Seems a little tame compared with statements in the Hebrew Bible that taught parents to beat disobedient children into submission or even stone them, including anyone of any age who tempted others to follow “other gods.” After Christianity arose, further “allowances” were instituted such as dedicating oneʼs child to the parentʼs religion at birth, i.e., the Hebrews practiced circumcision, but the early Christian church soon chose infant baptism as an alternative. Children were thus “allowed” to come to Jesus. But what choice did they have?


Kids, You Canʼt Beat ʻEm, Unless Youʼre a Firm Believer In The Bible, Then Itʼs An Obligation

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
— Proverbs 19:18 (The Hebrew word for “chasten” means literally “chasten with blows.”)

The blueness of a wound cleanses away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.
— Proverbs 20:30 (The Hebrew word translated “stripes” means “beating.”)

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the foolʼs back.
— Proverbs 26:3

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beats him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Sheol.
— Proverbs 23:13-14

As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee (with blows).
— Deuteronomy 8:5

For whom the Lord loves he chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receives.
— Hebrews 12:6 (The Greek word translated “chasteneth,” also means “beating.”)


And If Beatinʼ ʻEm Donʼt Work…

Rev. William Einwechter, vice-moderator of the Association of Free Reformed Churches, is convinced that we as a nation are in danger of suffering the penalty of Godʼs wrath unless we begin stoning to death “disobedient children” who are in their “middle teens or older.” The reverend cited Deuteronomy 21:18-21 as his keystone verse:

“If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

He and his fellow Free Reformed Christians should not be chided for focusing on “disobedient children,” because they believe that blasphemers, witches, adulterers, and those who seek to convert people to religions other than Free Reformed Christianity, are all candidates for a good stoning.

— E.T.B. (citing Rev. William Einwechter, “Stoning Disobedient Children,” Chalcedon Report, Jan. 1998)


Other Ways Children May Suffer

A father and mother who chose prayer instead of medicine watched as their sick baby daughter died. They were sentenced to a year of weekends in jail and parenting classes. Julia, 11 months, died of bacterial meningitis in July 2001, suffering high fever, vomiting, and convulsions. The parents pleaded no contest to charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse. Richard and Angeles Weibe are members of the Church of God, Upland, Calif., which shuns medical care.
— Associated Press, Sept. 16, 2003

Rhiana Rose Schmidt, who was born on Aug. 17, died on Aug. 19, after being delivered breech-birth at home to parents who belong to the General Assembly Church of the Firstborn in Morgantown, Ind. The church eschews medical care. She died of puerperal sepsis, a general infection acquired at birth, which is treated with antibiotics. She had difficulty breathing from the onset and the family knew she was ill, but believed it wrong to rely on medicine over “Godʼs will.” An acquaintance of the family, Franklin College Professor David Carlson, recalled that the mother of the deceased child had been an exceptionally bright student in his religion classes. She had a strong religious faith but belonged to a sorority and did not fit the stereotype of a closed-minded fundamentalist, he said. “Maleta was one of the brightest students Iʼve had in my 25 years here, excellent writer, good thinker,” said Carlson, who attended the Schmidtsʼ wedding at the church near Morgantown. “I have not found her judgmental at all.” Hers is the third such death involving children from the same church. The previous two cases involved prematurely-born Aspen Daniel, who died at six days of dehydration and underdevelopment in November 1998, and, Bradley Hamm, 12, who died in February 1999 of an undetected heart attack. Indiana law provides a defense for parents providing “spiritual care.” No charges have been brought in any of these cases.
Daily Journal (published in Johnson County, Indiana) Aug. 23-24, 2003

A Tennessee mother who let her daughter die of untreated bone cancer last fall was indicted on misdemeanor charges in April. Jessica Crank, 15, died on Sept. 15. Members of the New Life Ministries prayed over the girlʼs open casket for her resurrection. Jessica had a basketball-sized tumor on her shoulder. Mother Jacqueline Crank, 42, and Ariel Ben Sherma, 74, the church leader, each face a single count of child abuse and neglect.
— KnoxNews.com, April 17, 2003

Hans Missal, 51, was sentenced to 90 years in prison for attempting to set fire to his family. He admitted to dousing his Orlando home with gasoline. Missal also duct-taped the doors shut and ran a hose from the house to a car tailpipe while his wife, son and daughter slept before he attempted to set the structure on fire. Missal compared himself to the Bibleʼs Abraham, who was commanded by God to sacrifice his own son, and said he received a message from God to kill his entire family, Local 6 News reported. “God had a plan for my family, I had no idea what that plan was,” Missal said. “I trusted God and God was faithful to the end.” Missal said God stopped the sacrifice by waking up the family before he set the house on fire. “I know that God was putting me through a test,” Missal said. “He said, ‘Do you love your family?’ And absolutely, I love them more than anything in this world.” Missal understands why people may think he is mentally ill,” Local 6 reporter Mike DeForest said. “But he said it was all Godʼs plan for him to serve the next 90 years in prison.” He also said it was Godʼs plan for his wife and children to endure such mental anguish. “I know too many children who have easy lives and they suffer for that,” Missal said. “So, this was to make your kid stronger?” DeForest said. “It was not to make my kid stronger, but they will be stronger because of it,” Missal said. Missal is leading a Bible study group at jail. He will soon be transported to state prison, where he plans to spend time praying.
— 2006 by Internet Broadcasting Systems and Local6.com, April 26, 2006

A mother charged with murder for cutting off her baby daughterʼs arms in what her lawyers portrayed as a religious frenzy was found not guilty by reason of insanity Friday by a judge. Dena Schlosser, 38, will be sent to a state mental hospital and held until she is no longer deemed a threat to herself or others. Police arrested Schlosser in 2004 after she told a 911 operator she had severed her babyʼs arms. Officers found the 10-month-old baby, Margaret, near death in her crib and Schlosser covered in blood, holding a knife and listening to a hymn… Last week it was disclosed that Schlosser had a brain tumor that defense attorneys said could have caused hallucinations… Among other things, psychiatrists said Schlosser suffered severe mood swings and religious hallucinations. One doctor said Schlosser told him she wanted to cut off her babyʼs arms and her own limbs and head and give them to God.
— Julia Glick, “Texas Mom Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity,” AP, via www.SFGate.com, USA, Apr. 7, 2006

Rusty Yates met traveling evangelist Michael Woroniecki, admired his message and introduced him to Andrea Yates, Rustyʼs wife… Itʼs widely believed that the itinerant preacher inadvertently supplied Andrea with the framework for her psychotic delusions. She told her doctors she believed Satan lived within her, her children were going to hell and she had to kill all five of them [which she did by drowning them one at a time in a bathtub filled with water] while they were young so God would accept them in heaven. Rusty, the leader and authority figure in the Yates household, is commonly blamed for other decisions—such as to home-school the children or live in a converted bus—that made life more difficult for Andrea. At times Rusty is bitter about the criticism he has received from near and far. He was a devoted nurse. He desperately wanted his wife to get well. Early on, he was ignorant about her mental health problems, but most Americans are slow to recognize the signs and symptoms. [Especially slow are those who believe you can get all the help you need from God alone, it just takes more faith.—E.T.B.]
— Claudie Feldman, “Pain, Work Relentless in Yates Case,” Houston Chronicle, USA, Jan. 25, 2004 www.chron.com To read more on the Andrea Yates case see, Are You There Alone? : The Unspeakable Crime of Andrea Yates by Suzanne OʼMalley; Breaking Point (St. Martinʼs True Crime Library) by Suzy Spencer; or; “Women who kill their children: case study and conclusions concerning the differences in the fall from maternal grace by Khoua Her and Andrea Yates.” (Tenth … from: Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy) by Jayne Huckerby

Deanna LaJune Laney, 38, killed sons Joshua, 8, and Luke, 6, both found dead in the yard, large rocks atop their bodies. Deputies found her 14-month-old son, Aaron, alive in his crib, bleeding from a skull fracture and with a pillow over his face. Wearing bloodstained pajamas, their mother told the first deputy on the scene “I had to,” Investigators who interviewed her said she occasionally started singing spiritual hymns or muttering about God… What is known publicly about Laneyʼs case suggests that she might have had “something like bipolar disorder where people get very agitated, have religious delusions of God speaking to them, and they have some sort of mission or purpose or duty that they have to carry out and sometimes end up doing very horrible things,” Puryear told The Dallas Morning News…. At the church where Deanna Laney once ministered to youth, sang in the choir and spoke in tongues, worshippers Sunday prayed for her and her family a day after she was acquitted by reason of insanity of bludgeoning two of her young sons to death. Members of the Pentecostal First Assembly of God church turned to their faith to cope with killings, which Laney said God told her to commit.
— Associated Press, “Lawyer in Case of Slain Children May Use Defense Similar to Yates,” May 13, 2003 http://www.religionnewsblog.com, and, “Pastor Preaches of Healing at Church Attended by Mother Who Killed Young Sons,” Associated Press, USA, Apr. 5, 2004, Boston News & Herald


Iʼve worked with more born-again Christian abusers than any others. A lot of our child killers are evangelical born-again abusers.

Ray Wyre, head of the UK young sexual offenders clinic at Gracewell, Birmingham, England, in an interview with Men and Crime (Issue 13, Summer 1992)


The Christian Doctrine of “Infant Damnation”

Devout Christians contribute to the deaths of children whenever they waive medical assistance for the child and instead rely only on prayer in times of severe illness; or whenever a missionary drags their children along with them to a country filled with people violently hostile to their beliefs (or converts children there, who may then be disowned or beaten by their parents, or imprisoned). Devout Christians have also beaten young children (see examples below) in “tests of will” or while trying to “drive out a spirit of disobedience” or “exorcise a demon” from them (see the section on EXORCISMS). Some Christians believe in imposing psychological as well as physical pain on children (sometimes of a deadly sort), to get them to believe as they do, and out of fear of “eternal hellfire.” Which brings me to some even more bizarre cases of child abuse:

  • A small Danish (Protestant) sect went around killing as many newly baptized infants as they could discover, thereby preserving them from sin, from the miseries of this life, and from hell, and sending them infallibly to heaven. In the light of their beliefs they were acting rationally, but they did not secure Voltaireʼs approval: “These charitable persons omitted to consider that most fathers and mothers are sufficiently worldly to prefer having their sons and daughters with them than to see them slaughtered as a passport to Paradise.” — A. J. Ayer, Voltaire

  • “[T]he extermination of the Canaanite children [by the Hebrews as commanded by God and described in the book of Deuteronomy] was not only an act of mercy and love to the world at large; it was an act of love and mercy to the children themselves.”
    — R. A. Torrey [one of the contributors to The Fundamentals, a series of tracts published in the 1920ʼs that helped popularize “fundamentalist” Christianity. Torry argued in the above case that slaughtering the children was an act of infinite mercy because it ensured them eternal paradise.]

    Some (Catholic) Spaniards in Mexico and Peru used to baptize Indian infants then immediately dash their brains out; by this means they secured that those infants went to heaven.

    — Bertrand Russell, Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?

  • One might compare with the above cases the Inquisitionʼs history of attempting to “save” a personʼs soul via torture and confession followed by execution. Moreover, according to towering Catholic theologians like Saint Augustine, an unbaptized infant was a “limb of Satan”:

    Infants, When Unbaptized, are in the Power of the Devil… The Christian faith unfalteringly declares that they who are cleansed in the laver of regeneration (i.e., the baptismal font) are redeemed from the power of the devil, and that those who have not yet been redeemed by such regeneration are still captive in the power of the devil, even if they be infant children of the redeemed … From the power of the devil … infants are delivered when they are baptized; and whosoever denies this, is convicted by the truth of the Churchʼs very sacraments, which no heretical novelty in the Church of Christ is permitted to destroy or change, so long as the Divine Head rules and helps the entire body which He owns—small as well as great. It is true, then, and in no way false, that the devilʼs power is exorcised in infants, and that they renounce him by the hearts and mouths of those who bring them to baptism, being unable to do so by their own; in order that they may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of their Lord.- Saint Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book 1, Chapter 22

    Some Catholic saints even experienced “spiritual visions” that depicted little children suffering in hell. Saint Fulgentius in the sixth century taught that “little children who have begun to live in their mother“s womb and have there died, or who, having just been born, have passed away from the world without the sacrament of holy baptism must be punished by the eternal torture of undying fire.”

    Later, the church settled on a more merciful destination for unbaptized infants, “Limbo,” which was kind of like “Hell Lite.” But recently the Catholic Church has even abolished “Limbo,” and stated that unbaptized infants who die go directly to heaven. (Ironically, thatʼs the “heretical novelty” that Saint Augustine expelled so much hot air arguing against!)

    Even as late as 1890, at least one approved Catholic work continued to depict young children suffering in hell, Rev. J. Furnissʼs, Tracts for Spiritual Reading, designed for First Communions, Retreats, Missions, etc. (New York: Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 1890). The Reverend wrote, “See the little child in this red hot oven. Hear the fire! It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell—despair, desperate and horrible.”

    — E.T.B.


My daughter is five-years-old and, people say how inhumane, I let my daughter lay and cry herself to sleep for a week straight about the flames of Hell. See my daughter personally lay at night and say, “I donʼt want to go to Hell, I donʼt want to go to Hell,” and sheʼd be laying there crying. I could have run right in there and gave her the Gospel and she could have made a profession of salvation, but I let it get deeper into her memory. Know that I mean? That there is a Hell. And that will affect her whole life. Thatʼs why sheʼs an obedient child.

— Barry Weaver, street preacher, quoted in Jim Naughton, “The Devil & Duffy Strode: In Marion, North Carolina, a Boy Preacherʼs Hellfire Gospel Alarms a Quiet Community,” Liberty, Jan./Feb. 1989


Religious Prisons for Children

Joan Grise, 70 years old and suffering from cancer, is making a valiant effort to have her grandson freed from the clutches of a private religious prison operated in Arcadia, Louisiana by the New Bethany Baptist Church. The boyʼs father, a member of the authoritarian sect, decided that his son Matthew is “evil” and must literally have sin driven out of him. So, he turned the youngster over to the clutches of Rev. Mack W. Ford, who is notorious for his brutal style of corporal punishment.

Ford says that his treatment is designed “to reach the unwanted with the love of God,” but even the local Deputy Sheriff of Bievnville Parish, where Fordʼs compound is located, refers to the place as a “private jail.” It looks it too, surrounded by barbed-wire fencing and out of sight from observers. Sheriff Stewart told the Rocky Mountain News that Ford gets kids “down here and works the heck out of them and spanks the heck out of them and does what he wants to do…”

A 1984 report in the New York Times discussed a similar religious compound that Ford was operating in South Carolina. Along with the heavy regimen of corporal punishment and Bible —verse indoctrination, youngsters were divided into levels. At the bottom were boys described as “in bondage.” According to the newspaper reports, they were “marched into fields to work while tied together with rope,” and prohibited from even talking or laughing. Above them, the “bonded servants” enjoyed the privilege of conversation, but still were in forced labor. At the top were the “sojourners.” South Carolina authorities raided Fordʼs work camp, and the county prosecutor declared, “Most of the boys were brainwashed, just like Hitler did with kids.”

At his new compound in Louisiana “Ford repeatedly has rebuffed the attempts of state regulators to inspect the facility,” notes The News. “Even the state fire marshal is not allowed on site to assure the safety of the approximately 50 children housed there…”

A raid on his South Carolina compound produced evidence of children being struck with a “rod of correction,” and reports that children were confined in cells with ropes and handcuffs, and evidence of physical bruising.

— Conrad Goeringer, “Theistwatch Short Shots,” AANEWS (American Atheistsʼ News), Nov. 3, 1998


A police investigation into a Corpus Christi, Texas area Baptist group, the Peopleʼs Baptist Church, has uncovered allegations of child abuse… Eighteen-year-old Justin Simons told police that a church employee punched him in the chest, and punished him and another young boy by tying their wrists together and forcing them to run through the woods and even dig a 15-foot-deep pit. “When I tried to jump the pit, I fell and sprained both ankles.”

The Peopleʼs Baptist Church operates the Rebekah Home for Girls and the Anchor Home for Boys, and carries on a ministry founded by the late evangelist Lester Roloff. Practices at Roloffʼs various “homes” and other ministerial operations attracted concern in the past from media and authorities over charges involving abuse, beatings and other forms of “Bible based discipline” which the evangelist unabashedly espoused. Roloff defended his punitive child-control techniques, declaring, “Better a pink bottom than a black soul.” Then-Texas State Attorney General John Hill bluntly responded, “I donʼt mind pink bottoms. What I do object to is black, blue and bloody…”

— American Atheists, Inc. “Probe of Abuse Charges at ‘Bible Discipline’ Home Leads to Bush, Raises Questions of Faith-State Partnership” Web Posted 4/12/00


Survivor Testimonies from Former Attendees of Lester Roloffʼs Homes for Boys & Girls

For years I have tried to find someone who could relate to me. I was happy to find you and very upset at the same time. Yes we were in a cult. Yes we were cut off from the world, starved and abused, and so many other things. I am 38 years old. I was in Lester Roloffʼs Rebekah Home for Girls in 1984. The year is still a little unclear maybe 1985. No one need to ever send a child to a place like that. Those people took my soul, my dream, my mind. People to this day say why do you not “take up for yourself?” They call me a doormat. I was not a doormat in my teens, I was outspoken, I loved to have fun. Was it a bad thing? I never hurt anyone never used drugs or drink. My mother had her life, she didnʼt want to deal with me. So she locks me away. And I come back into the world a mental wreck. Bro. Cameron will face his Maker one day. As for the others, I would like to know where you were there. Did you have morning med call? I did. That was where we went to take our so-called vitamins. Mr. and Mrs. Barrett were the house parents and let me tell you they terrorized me. I just tried to play the game. That was the only way I knew I would get out alive. I canʼt clean a bathroom without the thought of that place. If we didnʼt wipe it down their way we were punished. How do we stop this going on again? Well I could go on and on as you know. Take care, be strong,

— Melissa

My name is Jim and I too was in the Rolloff Enterprises group homes. I was in the City of Refuge for boys in Frederick Okla. back in 1966, when kids had no rights at all. The consensus being we were the property of our parents or legal guardians and no one could tell you how to raise your kid, so if you wanted to beat them it was nobodyʼs business What Regina has said is not only the truth but barely scratches the surface of the abuse and forced labor I experienced while there. We were cut off from the outside world completely, we were not allowed to read anything but the Bible, and had to memorize versus of scripture. The only radio we were allowed was one hour a day to listen to brother Rolloffs sermon and attendance was mandatory, we were forced to attend church every night of the week. They had a church on the home and brother Harmon Oxford preached hell fire and brimstone every chance he could, which was every Monday, Tues, Thurs, Fri. and Sat., while on Wed. and Sun. we attended churches in town. We were not allowed to attend school for the first six months we were on the home as we had a school on the premises. It was never used but it was there and kept in working order in case anyone ever wanted to see it.

I was twelve years old at the time I was there. Twice a year we were loaded up and taken to McAllan Texas to first irrigate and then pick oranges in the groves Lester Rolloff owned. We were made to pick cotton at the home in Frederick Okla. Rolloff made a bundle off of us and we didnʼt get so much as a thank you. We would start in the fields at five in the morning and work till dark, more than once I had to soak my hands it the sink due to them bleeding from the cotton plants cutting them up, no they didnʼt give us gloves to wear. I have back problems to this day from being forced to carry tree stumps we were clearing from a field these stumps were bigger than I was and quite heavy, but if you were smart you didnʼt complain about it you just did it. I wasnʼt smart though, and I was constantly in trouble and received many a beating for it with a three foot long paddle with holes drilled through it.

One of the things I got beat for the most was having black friends at the high school when I was finally allowed to attend, according to their teachings blacks were beneath us and were cursed by God to serve whites, I will never forget when brother Harmon Oxford interviewed a boys parents form Georgia and accepted him over the phone when they arrived and Oxford found out he was black he tried to get out of accepting him to the boys home but couldnʼt do it so he told each of us we were to pick on him and abuse him so the kid would run away and Oxford could throw him off the home. When I refused I was beaten and was then fair game for the rest of the boys on the home.

Rolloff and the Oxfords made big money off of our forced labor and the fee to our parents to keep us there, all the while getting donations from all the churches in the area. We often had tours of the home for our benefactors, but the trouble makers like myself were locked up in a room and kept out of sight,I mean they didnʼt want them to see the bruises from the beatings we got or take the chance one of us would tell them what was really happening inside their home. My time there was a living hell and it ruined my life well into my thirties. It is my hope that Lester Rolloffʼs homes will be shut down for good. And you will all write your government officials and demand that these types of homes be regulated by what ever state they are in. If you know of anyone who was on City of Refuge for Boys when it was in Frederick, Oklahoma, I would like to hear from them: bartholomewroberts1719@hotmail.com

Thanks, Jim.

— SOURCES: Brother Roloffʼs Traveling Salvation Show by Lisa Freeman and membersʼ comments

ADDENDA: On November 2, 1982, Roloff, along with a female staff member and a ladies singing trio from the home for adult women, were killed when their plane crashed near Normangee, Texas on their way to a preaching and singing service they were scheduled to conduct.


Bethel Boysʼ Academy

[A private Christian military academy that practices abuse & torture]

This past summer of 2003 my husband and I placed our son at Bethel Boys Academy in Lucedale, Mississippi. It is owned and run by Herman Fountain and his son John Fountain. My son was only there for a few days when I had changed my mind and returned to Miss. to claim him. During those few days he was beaten, tortured and deprived of food, sleep, water and bathroom privileges. He was covered head to toe in bruises. We took our son to the Attorney Generalʼs office in Jackson, MS. They sent an investigator to get my sonʼs deposition and also to try and take pictures of the bruises.

Within the next month another 16 boys would be removed from that torture chamber. All with stories of abuse, beatings for no reasons, torture including electrical shock, and being locked in a foot locker for the whole day. Forced exercise for hours straight with no breaks and no water. The Attorney Generalʼs office had 13 of those boys testify before a judge asking to close the place down. Mike Moore publicly announced his intention to do just that in all the newspapers down in MS. We were all to appear in court on August 26th, 2003 to testify and show proof of the abuse the boys suffered at the hands of the Fountains and their evil Drill Instructors. Two days before court Mike Moore, the Attorney General made yet another deal with Bethel Boys Academy to allow them to remain open. I guess his political agenda (possibly running for U.S. Senator) was more important to him than saving all those abused childrenʼs lives. The new decree with Bethel admits guilt right and left. It basically says they will no longer use electrical shock on the children. They will give them water to drink. I couldnʼt believe that the State of MS. knows about this abuse as this particular home has been in the news every year since they opened. The State even shut them down before only to have them reopen a few years later to continue with the abuse. We treat our P.O.W.ʼs better than that. These are innocent children. Herman and John Fountain love to blast their mouths in the paper that this is a last resort school. Only the bad children come there. My son wasnʼt bad, just getting off the right path. He wasnʼt in trouble with the law, never has been. My son was in there with children who thought Bethel was a private Christian Military Academy. They donʼt advertise as a teen boot camp where your child can be abused and tortured for a whopping $25,000 a year. The Fountains are liars and child abusers. The State of Miss. and Mike Moore are weak and too concerned about their own political agenda to do that right thing—which is to stop legalized child abuse.

— By Anonymous Hero, Mar 28th, 2005


Eight people were indicted in the death of 12-year-old Alex Harris, of Haughton, who died of dehydration and trauma to the head following a punishment run at Hope Youth Ranch, a Christian-based nonprofit juvenile facility. He reportedly was denied water during the run and was dropped on the ground when an older boy picked him up after Harris had collapsed… Doug Pierrelee said at one point during Harrisʼ punishment, the eight employees locked themselves in an air-conditioned truck to keep Harris from getting inside. “These eight people missed the opportunity to save a 12-year-old child who was begging for his life.”
—Vickie Welborn, “Eight Booked Over Boyʼs Death at Minden Area Youth Ranch: Grand Jury Indicts Seven Employees, One Ex-Employee on Negligent Homicide Charge,” Shreveport Times, May 23, 2006


Jesus Land

Julia Scheeres is the author of Jesus Land: A Memoir, published in both the U.S. and Britain. http://www.juliascheeres.com/

Julia writes, “I was born in Lafayette, Indiana. My grade school was Lafayette Christian and my church Lafayette Christian Reformed. The memoir I wrote is about my close relationship with my adopted brother David. It covers our Calvinist upbringing in Indiana and our stint at a Christian reform school in the Dominican Republic as teens. The ‘program’ practiced at that Christian reform school made me lose my faith. The abuse I witnessed in the name of God made me resent organized religion and especially Christian fundamentalists. Of course I pretended to believe in God to get out of there quicker—you must conform to their religious ideology to graduate. The Christian reform school to which I was sent, Escuela Caribe, is a miserable place founded on the concept that all students who are sent down there are ‘bad kids’ who need to be punished. It doesnʼt take into consideration that many children come from homes where they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused, or that some students have documented mental health problems. NHYMʼs one-size-fits-all program is a simplistic approach to complicated issues. But itʼs also convenient dumping ground for wealthy evangelicals who donʼt want to deal with their troublesome teens. The image of the teacher punching my little brother in the stomach, and my helplessness at not being able to defend or comfort him, will haunt me forever. It reminds me why itʼs important to expose the truth about NHYM, and possibly spare other children from similar abuse.”

Alumni, Julia Scheeres

Stories of Other Alumni from the Above Christian Institution

Alumni, New Horizons Youth Ministries

Yahoo group for alumni of New Horizons Youth Ministries, including Escuela Caribe

Escuela Caribeʼ is but one of hundreds of such camps operating both in the U.S. and abroad under the auspices of American organizations. My fiancĂ© is another survivor of Escuela Caribeʼ, and I can tell you that the abuse described by Ms. Scheeres, who was a “high-leveler,” is even worse for those like my fiancĂ©ʼ, who was a “zero-leveler.” Any publicity of the abuse perpetrated by Mr. Redwine and New Horizons Youth Ministries is welcome as another chip away at the edifice of abuse built by these horrendous people, and a step closer to outlawing these type of horrific institutions. Again, thank you for your attention to this issue.
— Robert Allen Wilbur, “Stop Institutionalized Child Abuse,”

Where American Teens were Abused in the Name of God, Newsweek


The Sisters of Evil

Forty years ago at a Catholic orphanage in Dublin run by the “Sisters of Mercy” the children were regularly, ritually beaten with the legs of chairs; in some cases eight-year-old children were whipped with rosary beads. Infants strapped to potties were beaten if they did not give quick results. Children who misbehaved—or were “bold”—were trussed up like chickens and hung upside down on high oak doors, so that every time the door opened their heads would bump on the floor… Those who wet their beds were made to carry the stained sheet around all day. Some who threw up the foul food were force-fed and made to eat the vomit…

For hours after school, each child was obliged to turn out 60 rosary beads a day. Working with sharp wire, pliers and beads, they were not allowed to stop, even when the wire bit into their bleeding fingers…

Christine Howe was persuaded to let the sisters take care of her baby temporarily when she had to go to the hospital and her husband was working in England. Four days later her husband received a telegram telling of the childʼs death “from acute dysentery,” and also saying he had no need to return, the convent would take care of the funeral arrangements. The husband insisted on seeing the child prior to burial and discovered bandages on the childʼs legs; removing them, he found deep holes in the inside of both knees, the kind of wound that could be caused by a hot poker. The nuns admitted it had been an “accidental death” but refused to discuss the details with the parents… Reports of abuse are still coming in from other orphanages in southern Ireland.

— Peter Lennon, “The Sisters of Evil,” The Guardian Weekly, March 31, 1996—a discussion of the documentary, Dear Daughter by Louis Lentin, along with the deluge of corroborating reports that came in after the film was first aired on British TV.


Lucille Poulin says she prayed to God before hitting small children with a thick wooden rod—and the Almighty would tell her how many strokes to administer. The 78-year-old former Roman Catholic nun alternated between evangelical zeal and stern lectures on disciplining children as she testified in her own defense at the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island trial where she faces five charges of assaulting children at a rural PEI commune. Ms. Poulin said she did not want to use the rod to discipline the nine children she cared for and taught on the PEI commune. But she said she is a prophet and talks to God and receives messages from the Almighty regularly. And she said God told her she had to obey the words of the Scriptures about using a rod to correct the behaviour of children to save their souls from hell. “It isnʼt easy, but God said to do it,” Poulin said, noting that she administered the rod to the five children named in the charges on more than two dozen occasions from October, 1999, to July, 2001.
— TGM, Oct. 1, 2002


The founder of a fundamentalist Christian community near Petersburg, Virginia, was convicted of manslaughter, along with the parents of a 2-year-old boy, after the boy died in 1982 as a result of two hours of paddling that she said was necessary to win a “test of wills” with the child.
News of the Weird, “Weird Clergy”


Eleven-Year-Old Nearly Beaten to Death for Misbehaving in Bible Class

Austin, Texas—Twenty-three-year-old Joshua Thompson, pastor of the Spanish-language congregation at “independent fundamental” Capitol City Baptist church, and his twin brother and assistant at the church, Caleb Thompson, were convicted in the beating of a Bible student. They used an inch-thick tree branch to beat Louie Guerrero, an 11-year-old boy, for “goofing off” during Bible class because he was not taking preparations for a Scripture recital competition seriously. “The indication that we have is that (the boy) had been accused of cheating in memorizing Bible verses.” Court records allege the beating was to physically “break” the boy for lying. As punishment, Pastor Thompson took the boy from the church school to Calebʼs home, snapped a branch off a tree, and beat the boy as Caleb held him face down on a bed. They turned up the radio to cover the childʼs cries. (The boy told his family the beating lasted about 90 minutes, and he was allowed to take a break in the restroom during the beating. At one point, the boy said, he was told to pick up the pieces of the tree branch that broke during the beating. He said the beating resumed after one of the brothers got a new stick.) Contra the boyʼs testimony, Pastor Thomson said “the beating lasted about 10 minutes.” The boy and a doctor who treated him said he was hit at least 100 times. Jurors saw graphic photos of the boyʼs back with red and purple bruises and blood spots from scrapes or puncture wounds.

Pastor Thompson and his brother took the boy home, where they met Louieʼs mother and stepfather and told them we have a “big problem.” The pastor told the boyʼs stepfather that he was unable to “break” the boy, and that the stepfather should “beat Louie for two more hours” to fix it. “Do it!” Thompson said three times, according to court papers. The pastor added that he would not allow their son to return to church because his bad example might affect the other children.

After the pastor and his brother left, Louieʼs mother and stepfather discovered bruises and small cuts from his neck to his buttocks as a result of the beating. More bruising was found on his arms and the right side of his head. Police said the boyʼs back was a giant swath of red peppered with cuts and blood spots.
The pastor said the boyʼs parents had given him permission to punish the boy and that he didnʼt intend to inflict serious injuries. The boyʼs parents deny telling the pastor that he could hit their child. The boy was admitted to intensive care at Brackenridge Childrenʼs Hospital. Broken blood vessels had caused his kidneys to fail. A nurse told investigators that he needed a blood transfusion to live. The boy spent five days in intensive care after the beating.

The boy told police that in the past he had been spanked or forced to maintain a push-up position for an extended period, and that he has seen other children physically disciplined. Other members of the church have called Bobby Taylor, the boyʼs attorney, alleging abuses, and he advised them to call the police. Detective Douglas Havens of the child abuse unit said the boy reported seeing a church member spank another child at the church but that the child was not injured. “The indication of the family is that many church members approve of this kind of thing or at least have accepted the religious philosophy behind it.” Havens added that the boyʼs family indicated harsh and severe discipline is often used in the Spanish-speaking segment of the church. Havens said the victim told police he had never before been hit with “the rod” as church members referred to the stick.

Pastor Thompson reportedly testified that at the time of the beating he thought he was doing the right thing, but that since the July 3 incident he has realized that his actions were “totally, totally, totally, totally, totally wrong.”

“When I lay my head on my pillow at night, I try to forgive myself,” Caleb Thompson said.

— SOURCES: “Texas Boy Nearly Beaten To Death by Pastor,” July 9, 2002 (Reuters); The Houston Chronicle, “Accused Pastor, Brother Surrender, Austin Police Probe Possibility Other Youths Abused in Church,” July 10, 2002; The Dallas Morning News, Newspaper, “Pastor, Brother Face Charges in Boys Beating,” July 10, 2002; Fox News, “Pastor, Brother Charged With Beating Boy For Cheating In Bible Studies,” July 10, 2002; AustinChronicle.com, Dec. 12, 2003: Politics: Naked City; Jim Vertuno, “Brothers Guilty in Beating at Bible Study” Associated Press/Dec. 10, 2003

Comments on the Texas Boyʼs Beating, by a Baptist who Recently Rejected “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist” Churches

Perhaps some do not believe the “allegations?” So, why did little Louie need a blood transfusion, why was he bleeding in his urine, why kidney failure? Just “allegations” no doubt. Rev. Hank Thompson has been talking like he would be shocked if his twin sons had acted brutally. But the Thompson twins learned about discipline from experience and from listening to Papa preach on it.

An eleven-year-old boy lied about learning his Bible verses so he could meet the requirements in a Bible memory contest. That is wrong, and Louie should have been disciplined for that from his daddy only. The admonition to chasten a child in the Bible is to fathers, not to the High Priest or the local church pastor. Louieʼs daddy would know how to punish Louie, and if Rev. Thompson twin sons did not like Louieʼs behavior that much, they could just ask the parents to take him out of the program.

There is a great lust for corporal punishment these days. One very potent factor is the recent book, Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. The authorsʼ teaching is all about their wonderful children and how utterly successful they were as parents. The reader is encouraged to beat a child of a couple of months old until they cry and then until they stop crying. If little Louie did not cry, that would explain why he “needed” to be beat for one and a half hours. This is the notion being promoted in Baptist jackboot churches these days. (By the way, about 99% of these baby beaters believe that one should rely upon the King James Bible alone, all other translations being lies, or, “of the Devil.”)

There is a temperament of violence and rage in almost every Independent Fundamental Baptist, a sort of devilish mood cultured in their churches that is infectious. Bible Institutes and Bible Colleges also add to the mood. It is a mood of siege and defensiveness. Most Fundamental Baptist preachers talk regularly about Satan resisting them and their work. I believe this is all too often a clever cover story for their deficiencies and sins.

The fat overweight preacher will try to account to his lethargic slow belly and lack of punctuality as interference by Satan. The fornicating preacher will produce devils in women who are always tempting him. It is never his fault. The porn loving preacher will claim he is checking up on Satanʼs turf when he is visiting a peep show. The bar hopper will say he was at the bar to rescue some church member who called him from the bar and asked for deliverance. On and on—Satan gets a lot more credit than he deserves for the mess these preachers make of their own lives and the church they rule.

According to my own observations Fundamental Baptist preachers do not admit guilt, even when caught. Witness the asinine preaching of Jack Hyles when he was caught using his church secretary as a concubine. He preached his way out of a corner with sermons on restoring fallen preachers, but he never admitted his sin.

Death of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists, David Rice


A Scene from the Childhood of Radio Preacher & Politician Rev. James Dobson, Author of Dare To Discipline

Myrtle Dobson [Jamesʼs mother] was an amiable and social woman, but she didnʼt hesitate to whack her son [James] with a shoe or belt when she felt it was required. Consequently, [James] Dobson writes, he learned at an early age to stay out of striking distance when he back-talked to his mother. One day he made the mistake of mouthing off when she was only four feet away and heard a 16-pound girdle whistling through the air. “The intended blow caught me across the chest, followed by a multitude of straps and buckles wrapping themselves around my midsection.”

— AMERICA, July 17, 2006


The leader of a conservative Christian group in Wisconsin instructed 50 parents for 2 1/2 hours at an Eau Claire meeting on how to spank children: “You spank them right here on the gluteus maximus, which God made for that purpose,” insisted Marvin Munyon, demonstrating how to use a paddle and switch.
— Associated Press, Asbury Park Press, Sept. 25, 2000


Spanked for Christ

Although Iʼm “against” spanking, it was such an integral part of my upbringing that Iʼve internalized a huge part of the pro-spanking agenda. I feared spanking for almost everything. My parents often glowed from compliments on how well-behaved we were, yet we kids agreed that we only behaved in public because we were terrified of catching hell in private.

The rules for spankings changed with nearly every Bill Gothard seminar or other religious gathering my father/parents attended. Theyʼd come home and announce that their three-stroke limit was unbiblical, that the proper way to spank was until the child *STOPPED* crying in demonstration of a surrendered spirit. Maybe that worked for meek kids, but I had strong lungs. Another time they learned that nightmares were a childʼs way of punishing her/him-self, so when one of us screamed out at night, Dad would bring the paddle in and “free” us from guilt so we could go back to sleep. Waking up to the sound of a sibling being spanked is traumatic in its own right. Ah, and our father made many wooden paddles in his shop… with a handle cut in and a leather loop for hanging convenience. Our mom inscribed Bible verses on the surface and helped stain and shellac the little numbers. They gave a bunch of them away as presents, but we had plenty left for ourselves.

Yet I remain conflicted about spanking. I *know* itʼs not a good idea, but any other way of raising kids is still foreign to me. A few years ago I read Irwin Hymanʼs book, The Case Against Spanking/Discipline Without Hitting, and was astounded that someone actually thought a spanking-free childhood would be okay, even preferable. After reading it I had a discussion with my youngest brother, who was often spanked quite severely, yet who says itʼs the only way to raise “Godly kids.” Little parrot. “Mom and Dad spanked me so they could get their loving boy back.” Iʼm 18 years older than he is, but not much further ahead of him in coming out of this mess. I still expect to be hit randomly without grounds.

The better—and safer—my personal situation gets, the more I remember bizarre things like my fatherʼs consideration of stoning as an appropriate punishment for my rebellious nature, and his friend who spanked a three-month-old because he “saw rebellion in his sonʼs eyes”. Oh, and forced fastings to bring us into contact with the Holy Spirit, but thatʼs another topic. I still have a lot of nightmares, many of trying to escape from my father when heʼs coming after me to punish me.

Sorry to spew so much personal history here…I have a feeling that others besides P.& R. have experience with this stuff and understand the Biblical twist on narcissistic parenting. I havenʼt yet found a therapist who can do more than stare at me with mouth gaping if I talk about this stuff. One was so helpful as to remark, “Wow, your family is really f*cked up.”
— Naomi@exitfundyism@yahoogroups.com (Mar. 25, 2001)


The Rev. Mr. Munger has suddenly become a revivalist. According to the papers he is sought in every direction. His popularity seems to rest on the fact that he brutally beat a twelve-year-old girl because she did not say her prayers to suit him. Muscular Christianity is what the ignorant people want.

— Robert Ingersoll


SCHAUMBURG, Ill. A six-year-old boy has been suspended from a Christian school in Illinois after his mother refused to spank him. Thatʼs according to the mother. Michelle Fallaw-Gabrielson says her son had been piling up disciplinary notes for such offenses as talking out of turn, chewing gum, and bringing toys to school. She says she knew he was a disciplinary problem, but she never anticipated what occurred on Wednesday. She says when she arrived at Schaumburg Christian School to pick the boy up, an assistant administrator ordered her to spank him. When she refused, the official said her son was suspended. The next day, the mother withdrew the first-grader from the school.

— Associated Press, 2005


Join the “Religion-Related Child Abuse” Book-of-the-Month Club!

Just check the appropriate box, and weʼll rush you our featured selection, Philip Grevenʼs Spare the Child, that cites American Protestant authors who continue to promote violence against children. Next month weʼll send you Alice Millerʼs For Your Own Good, which traces the roots of physical violence towards children in the western world to the influence of Christianity. To illustrate her point she includes many biographical accounts, including a look at the Christian training that Adolf Hitler received during childhood. And in the months ahead you can look forward to receiving Annie Laurie Gaylorʼs Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children that documents cases of child abuse by the clergy. And Mary Raftery and Eoin OʼSullivanʼs Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Irelandʼs Industrial Schools, a story of incredible cruelties perpetrated by minions of state and church. Train Up the Child: How Children Get Hurt in Churches by Louise Anne Owens. And James A. Haughtʼs Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness, and, Holy Hatred: Religious Conflicts of the ʻ90s, which include some frightful accounts of religion-related child abuse. Donʼt delay! Sign up today!


The serial killing cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer, had fundamentalist Christian parents.

And blasphemous “shock rock” star, Marilyn Manson, composer of the “AntiChrist Superstar” CD, was forced to attend a fundamentalist Christian school in his youth.


Some devout parents would sooner risk the loss of their childʼs love in order to retain what they imagine to be “Godʼs.” For instance, a televised report (on Dateline or 20/20) in 1996 told how some “Christian counseling centers” boasted in their brochures they could “treat homosexuality.” Children and adolescents who had been “treated” at such “counseling centers” told reporters they had been locked up, held down, and screamed at to “induce shame” and to “teach them how they should feel about what they were doing to their parents and God.” Worse forms of abuse also took place. Some children and teenagers were detained for weeks, months, even years. At least one young girl sued her parents after she escaped from the “counseling center.”


Daughter Tells What Happened When Her Christian Mother Found Out She was Gay

I was 24 years old when my mother, through a series of mishaps, found out I was gay. My mother came over to where I worked, screaming, and told me I was “dead” to the family. She called me “sick,” “crazy” and “of the devil.” She said that I would never see my family again. For more than five years after that day, I heard nothing from my family. No birthday cards, no invitations to Christmas or Thanksgiving events. It wasnʼt just the loss of my immediate family that was difficult, but the loss of my extended family as well. Since my mother refused to be in the same room with me, it forced my aunts and uncles to choose sides. I have not been to a family reunion in more than a decade. When my partner, Trisha, and I decided to have a child, we were not unlike most couples making this decision…The only thing unusual about our pregnancy was the critical necessity of a lawyer. Given my motherʼs abject hostility toward gay and lesbian people, in the process of my pregnancy we had to spend thousands of dollars protecting ourselves from her potential interference. In spite of the fact that she has never, in more than a decade, visited me, and has written numerous articles comparing me to pedophiles and people who have sex with animals, according to the law, my mother has more rights to our child than Trisha.
Sadieʼs Lesbian Daughter Speaks Out


Like all creeds that claim the total allegiance of the individual—like communism, for example, in our own day—early Christianity was a powerful divisive force. Every town and every house, says Eusebius, is divided by a civil war waged between Christians and idolaters. Justin tells of a Christian wife who was denounced by her pagan husband; Tertullian speaks of cases where wives have been repudiated or sons disinherited for turning Christian; in Perpetuaʼs account of her relations with her father we see how a family could be torn asunder by religious differences. For such situations the blame was naturally laid on the Christian missionaries. Celsus has an illuminating passage, too long to quote, about Christians who get hold of pagan children, encourage them to disobey their fathers and schoolmasters, and lure them into Christian coventicles; often they work on the womenfolk as well. Origen does not deny that this happens; and Jerome later paints an equally unfavorable picture of fanatical monks who worm themselves into the homes of the aristocracy and exploit the guilt-feelings of women. Christianity, like communism, was a domestic trouble- maker.

— E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian In An Age of Anxiety (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1970), p.115-116.


To the contention by [the pagan philosopher] Celsus that Christians took children away from their parents… Origin [the Christian apologist] could only respond that Christians did not lure children away from better things or incite them to worse things. This was a lame argument, one that could hardly have appeased a pagan who cherished family life and worked hard to give his children a good education and a place in society. In this case, Origenʼs near admission of guilt may only have confirmed many suspicions held by pagans that Christianity was by and large a disruptive force.

— Stephen Benko, Pagan Rome and the Early Christians (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1984), p.157.


See Also,

Exorcisms.

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