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Natural Selections from Uncle Ed's Holy Book

Natural Selections from Uncle Ed's Holy Book

  • With regard to the gods I know not whether they exist or not or what they are like. Many things prevent our knowing; the subject is obscure, and brief is the span of mortal life.

    - Protagoras

  • My philosophy remains Transcendental Agnosticism. There are realities and intelligences greater than conditioned normal consciousness recognizes, but it is premature to dogmatize about them at this primitive stage of our evolution. We've hardly begun to crawl off the surface of the cradle-planet.

    - Robert Anton Wilson

  • The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.

    - Eric Hoffer

  • All great religions in order to escape absurdity, have to admit a dilution of agnosticism. It is only the savage, whether of the African bush or the American gospel tent [or American T.V. screen], who pretends to know the will and intent of God exactly and completely.

    - H. L. Mencken

  • We have infinite trouble in solving [natural and] man-made mysteries; it is only when we set out to discover "the secret of God" that our difficulties disappear.

    - Mark Twain (at the top of his sarcastic form)

  • Every other sect supposes itself in possession of the truth, and that those who differ are so far in the wrong. Like a man travelling in foggy weather they see those at a distance before them wrapped up in a fog, as well as those behind them, and also people in the fields on each side; but near them, all appears clear, though in truth they are as much in the fog as any of them...

    In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the want of it.

    - Benjamin Franklin

  • I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.

    - Wilson Mizner

  • An evangelical Christian once told me, "Only Jesus Christ can save Man..." (What about Woman, I wondered? Oh, well, one does not expect semantic sophistication from literalist Bible believers) "... and restore him to his lost state of peace with God, himself and others." Yeah, sure, and only new Pepsi can make you feel really happy, and only our brand is better than the competition, and only our country is the best country. It is truly amazing to me that people can utter such arrogant nonsense with no humor, no sense of how offensive they are to others, no doubt or trepidation, and no suspicion that they sound exactly like advertisers, con-men and other swindlers. It is really hard to understand such child-like prattling. If I were especially conceited about something (a state I try to avoid, but if I fell into it...), if for instance I decided I had the best garden or the handsomest face in Ireland, I would still retain enough common sense to suspect that I would sound like a conceited fool if I went around telling everybody those opinions. I would have enough tact left, I hope, to satisfy my conceit by dreaming that other people would notice on their own that my garden and/or my face were especially lovely. People who go around innocently and blithely announcing that they belong to the Master Race or the Best Country Club or have the One True Religion seem to have never gotten beyond the kindergarten level of ego-display. Do they have no modesty, no tact, no shame, no adult common sense at all? Do they have any suspicion how silly their conceit sounds to the majority of the nonwhite nonChristian men and women of the world? To me, they seem like little children wearing daddy's clothes and going around shouting, "Look how grown-up I am! Look at me, me, me!"

    There are more amusing things than ego-games, conceit and one-upmanship. Really, there are. I suspect that people stay on that childish level because they have never discovered how interesting and exciting the adult world is.

    If one must play ego-games, I still think it would be more polite, and more adult, to play them in the privacy of one's head. In fact, despite my efforts to be a kind of Buddhist, I do relapse into such ego-games on occasion; but I have enough respect for human intelligence to keep such thoughts to myself. I don't go around announcing that I have painted the greatest painting of our time; I hope that people will notice that by themselves. Why do the people whose ego-games consist of day-dreaming about being part of the Master Race or the One True Religion not keep that precious secret to themselves, also, and wait for the rest of the human race to notice their blinding superiority?

    - Robert Anton Wilson

  • Love can lead to devotion, but the devotion of the lover is unlike that of the True Believer in that it is not militant. I may be surprised - even shocked - to find that you do not feel as I do about a given book or work of art or even person; I may very well attempt to change your mind; but I will finally accept that your tastes, your loves, are your business and not mine. The True Believer knows no such restraints. The True Believer knows that he is simply right, and you are wrong. He will seek to convert you, even by force, and if he cannot he will, at the very least, despise you for your unbelief.

    - Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands

  • People need religion like they need a lift in their shoe. If it makes them feel a little taller and happier about themselves, fine. But if you keep that lift in your shoe all the time, as you walk, jog, play sports, etc., you can wind up sore, or maybe even crippled...And, PLEEEEASE, let's not send folks to other countries to nail lifts onto the natives' feet!

    - George Carlin

  • I'm not offended by Pagan, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, or Atheist viewpoints in fiction. Or in non-fiction, for that matter. I may disagree - but I'm almost certain to disagree with any author at some point. To anyone who equates disagreement with hatred, I say, "Bosnia!"

    - Gene Wolfe (award winning Sci-Fi author)

  • During my life I have made countless friends by arguing - I am a Northerner living in the South, a Jew in the most Gentile community on the continent, an integrationist among white supremacists. I have a lot to argue about. But I have made friends over discussing a difference of opinion because I make my mind up about what I believe, but I do not make my mind up about people.

    - Harry Golden, columnist who wrote during the 1940s to 1960s in the Southern U.S.

  • What is the best book in the world? I'd say that even the best book remains a mere book, and not life itself. Even the best book is one that can eventually bore you, if only through repetition. Be open to the best in every person, every experience and every book, and use your better judgment, built upon a lifetime of your own experiences. Books are not life, and cannot lead your life for you. You must decide. Even Bible believers have to decide which passages in Scripture deserve greater emphasis than others. And if an action commends itself to your conscience you don't need a book to also tell you whether it is "good" or not.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

    - Groucho Marx

  • Do you believe that the God who "created your mind" with it's exceeding curiosity (well, maybe not your mind), and its ability to ask the most fascinating questions of nature, art, beauty, science, etc., would also want to absolve us of having to think by giving us a so-called "perfect book" that must never be deeply questioned?

    - E. T. Babinski (in an internet discussion with a Bible believer)

  • Either god should have written a book to fit my brain, or should have made my brain to fit his book. The inspiration of the Bible depends on the credulity of him who reads.

    - Robert Ingersoll

  • Ever notice the way that preachers of "ye olde tyme religion" drag out the pronunciation of the name of their favorite holy book, calling it the "Buy-Bull?" Who buys that bull? Even the Bible tells you not to!

    "I will accept no bull..." Psalm 50:9 (NASB)

    "I will take no bull[ock]..." Psalm 50:9 (KJV)

    "...the rest of the bull - he must take outside..."

    Leviticus 4:12 (NIV)

    - E. T. Babinski

  • Read the Bible as you would any other book; think of it as you would any other, use your reasoning ability to ask questions as they naturally arise, just as you would if you were reading another book. And it will eventually dawn on you that the books of the Bible, or at least portions of them, were of strictly human and sometimes barbarian, invention.

    On the other hand, if you have gazed at the Bible for many years through "theology colored glasses" then you may not be able to detect the many shades and depths of questions visible within the text nor those within your own head and heart as they relate to the text. Because after years of church indoctrination most people don't even realize they have acquired a particular "theological" slant, or that they have been hypnotized by "orthodox" comments made by fellow church goers, and by "orthodox" commentaries on Scripture filled with pious platitudes - commentaries that pass in silence over difficulties, or else that read into the text "orthodox" meanings that are not there.

    Not only the Bible, but the Muslim's Koran, the Mormon's Book of Mormon, and the Hindu's Bhagavad-Gita, have pious adherents and countless pious commentaries written about them. In courtrooms in India, people are even "sworn in" with their hands on the Gita, not the Bible.

    And isn't it laughable when two "fundamentalist" commentators cannot agree on the meaning of a verse or group of verses, each commentator insisting that his interpretation is the perfectly natural one God intended? Both commentators agree that God wouldn't bother to write a book unless every chapter and verse in it was relevant to believers like themselves, believers who were being "led into all truth" by the "Holy Spirit." God wouldn't let His words and their meaning get lost in hazy translation, or misconstrued over time, especially not by true believers like themselves, would He? Of course, the history of Christian dogma tells a different story. The controversies that revolve around interpreting the books of the Bible have been around since before certain books were even picked to be in "the Bible." There were many competing interpretations before the Nicene Council in 325 A.D. (to which we owe the invention of "The Trinity"), all the way up to the multitude of different Christian denominations today, and God didn't stop plenty of blood being shed over them.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • Try as they might to be humble, to avoid the pitfalls of intellectual pride - largely because the Bible tells them to, perhaps - fundamentalists are dogmatic and doctrinalistic because their doctrine of the text forces them to be. They are reading an "inerrant" text. What they read, and therefore by definition what they interpret, must be inerrant.

    - Kathleen C. Boone, The Bible Tells Them So

  • I don't claim to be inerrant, but I recently received a miraculous vision that showed me exactly how the world will end: It is the year six billion A.D. and our sun is a slowly dying star. But our technology has grown so advanced that we simply move our planet. We head for the Andromeda galaxy and meet another planet headed in the opposite direction.


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Genesis is a Jokesis!

Genesis is a Jokesis!

  • Did God "gab" the world into being? Did His glossolalia fill the void? If so, in which tongue did He dictate Creation? Literalist Hebrew scholars assume that the book of Genesis contains the first recorded syllables of God's speech, "Let there be light!" (in Hebrew). Literalist Moslems insist that Arabic is the language of Allah (God), and therefore it is an insult or worse to translate their holy book, the Koran, into foreign tongues that are not the language of God. While Hindus claim that the Sanskrit syllable, "AUM," encompasses all the vibrations of Creation.

    Personally, I do not pretend to know what language God used to call forth Creation. It appears that only angels were listening to God's speech at the time, and I hesitate to declare if these were Hebrew, Islamic, or Hindu angels. Therefore, I find it easiest to assume that creation by the "word" of God is merely a poetic description of how God "called" the cosmos into being. But if the description of God "speaking," and the record of His alleged "words," is poetry, what does that say about how the rest of the story in Genesis should be viewed?

    - E. T. Babinski

  • And God said, "Let there be light." And the light causeth cancer.

  • God created everything out of nothing but the nothingness still shows through.

  • Work for a week, then 6000+ years on holiday - isn't God lazy?

  • Genesis says that after God created everything He "saw that it was good...and rested." In short, God was satisfied with his own work, and that is fatal.

  • The world is proof that God is a committee.

  • If God lived on earth, people would knock out his windows. - Yiddish saying

  • Maybe God is a kid playing SimEarth?

  • According to Genesis, chapter one, the "sun, moon and stars" were "made" (asah), and "set" (natan) in the heavens "to provide light, and for signs and seasons" after the earth was made. So, the "earth" existed before the "sun, moon and stars!"

    Did our lonely planet twiddle its continents as it waited for the sun to be created, which would grab our earth with its superior gravitation and girdle our planet round its fat fiery waist; waited for the moon to be created to fuel the earth's tidal engines; waited for billions and billions of gargantuan flaming balls to be created, whose light extends in all direction to the farthest reaches of the cosmos (and which do not merely exist to "light the earth" and "for signs and seasons" on earth)?

    According to the same chapter of Genesis, even vegetation and "fruit trees" were created before the "sun, moon and stars." As if God had decided, "Fifty-billion galaxies, including the sun, planets and many moons of the solar system must remain uncreated; in fact all the empty space in the cosmos must remain unfilled, until I have fashioned some orange, banana, and coconut trees on earth." Talk about an earth-centered creation account!

    Other "earth-centered clues" include the way that the earth and all that lives on it took "four days" to create while the rest of the cosmos, like the "sun, moon, and the stars also," only took "one day" to create. So the Creator spent "four days" on the earth and only "one day" on the rest of the universe?

    All of this leads me to doubt that the Hebrews ever viewed the earth as one among many "planets" or viewed the stars as "distant suns, or, distant `lamps' equally as `great' as the sun." The ancients simply viewed the "earth" as the "lower half" of creation, with the "upper half" being the "heavens" in which the sun, moon and stars were "made" and "set" to light the lower half. It's a flat world after all!

    - E. T. Babinski

  • Speaking of the creation of man, did you know that there is only a 2% difference between the overall genetic makeup of man and chimpanzee? I can see God, on the sixth day of creation. On the last minute of the sixth day of creation. He's been goofing off all day. He still hasn't created man. Then he looks at his watch. "Oh Meeee! Wait, I've got an idea. Where'd I put those chimpanzee genes?" (God searches His pockets.)

    - E. T. Babinski

  • On the sixth day of creation God was walking alone through the garden of Eden and thought "What this place needs is someone to cultivate and keep it (Gen.2:15)." Then God spied some chimpanzees in a tree and thought, "Hey, what if I monkeyed around with this creature's genes? If I changed just 2% of its DNA I think I might be able to come up with a passable gardener."

    (God goofed, making Adam the first "Martin Gardner," whose thirst for knowledge couldn't be satiated by merely thumbing through a Farmer's Almanac. He had to taste the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. Mr. Gardner is an ex-fundamentalist Christian, the author of Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, and, The Whys of A Philosophical Scrivener. He was also the mathematical puzzle columnist for Scientific American magazine for several decades.)

    - E. T. Babinski

  • In the Bible it says Adam named the animals. Did he go around saying, "You're `Fred,' and you're...hmmmmm...`Barney?'" Probably not.

    On the other hand, did Adam's names resemble scientific nomenclature? Did Adam divide every living thing into its phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Did Adam start the branch of science known as cladistics, which studies everything it can about a living thing's anatomy and genes before fitting it into it's proper category?

    No, I don't think Adam did that either.

    So maybe Adam gave the animals colloquial "artsy sounding" names?

    In any case, why should I be interested? We don't use Adam's "names" anymore. Besides, if I ever run into Adam or his immediate children in the next life I don't want to waste time arguing over whether a pig ^. .^

    should be called a "pig," or must be called a "dooble-hizpot," because that's what "Father Adam" named it "in the beginning."

    Creationists think the story points to Adam having had a "super brain," able to invent names for millions of creatures in a matter of days or hours, and remember which creature each name belonged to. Yeah, but could he do it again on a TV talk show, for us all to see, like Harry Lorraine the "memory expert" did, who memorized the names of every audience member, and then recalled them all on sight a little while later?

    Then again, what's the point of God having Adam "name" all these creatures, especially ones that Adam was not likely to see or encounter again, like creatures deep in lakes, oceans, caves and burrows in the earth, or high up on mountainsides, or in the tallest branches and leaves of tree-canopied rain forests, or for that matter, having him "name" creatures so tiny that no one would even know they existed until after the microscope had been invented "six thousand years" [sic] hence?

    The Hebrew tale about "Adam's naming of the animals" tells us more about ancient Hebrew ignorance of the breadth and depth of the biological world (or more about their mythic thought patterns) than about "Adam's super brain."

    And what about naming all the plant species? The Bible says nothing about that. I guess even Adam's "super brain" had its limitations. Yet since Adam was given "every green plant to eat" and couldn't eat any of the animals "in the beginning," wouldn't it have been more useful for him to start off by naming all the plants rather than all the animals? Or did Adam point out food to Eve by saying, "See that `dooble-hizpot' over there? That green stuff it's munching is really good, I tried some yesterday."

    Too bad good old Adam couldn't keep focused in the forefront of his "super brain" the one thing worth remembering according to the Bible fable, which was, "Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge." But then how could a "super brain" resist the temptation to ingesting more "knowledge?" Sounds like a sting operation to me.

    Needless to say, creationists take this stuff very seriously, as in the July 1995 "Impact" article #265, "Could Adam Really Name All Those Animals?" by William J. Spear, Jr., part of a series of "Vital Articles on Science/Creation" produced and distributed by the Institute for Creation Research, and mailed out to probably tens of thousands each month. Spear says that God used something similar to modern day VR (virtual reality) technology, i.e., when God "formed every beast of the field and fowl of the air out of the ground...and brought them unto Adam to see what he would name them." (Gen. 2:19-21)

    I'm tempted to add a final word about this "vitally scientific" ICR article, but I can't. Some stuff just writes its own punch line.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • Unless the Lord God was looking for a helpmeet for Adam, why did he cause the animals to pass before Adam (as it says in Genesis chapter two)? And why did he, after the menagerie had passed by, pathetically exclaim, "But for Adam there was not found a helpmeet for him"? It seems that Adam saw nothing that struck his fancy. The fairest ape, the sprightliest chimpanzee, the loveliest baboon, the most bewitching orangutan, the most fascinating gorilla failed to touch with love's sweet pain, poor Adam's lonely heart...[So God decided to make Adam a helpmeet out of Adam's own side.] Imagine a Lord God with a bone or bloody slice of flesh from Adam's side in His hand with which to start a woman, trying to make up His mind whether to make a blond or a brunette!

    - Robert Ingersoll

  • When Adam was a single man

    He couldn't find a mate.

    While all the other animals

    Could riffle up a date.

    This agitated Adam,

    Handsome, tall and slim,

    Seeing two of everything

    But only one of him.

    But when the Lord came by one day

    And took Adam by the hand,

    He asked him to name the animals

    In air and sea and land.

    "From all the animals I made,

    I expect you to choose a mate,

    Some charming little female

    With whom you can have a date."

    But when the job was finished

    Poor Adam stood alone,

    There was no mate that he could date,

    None he could call his own.

    Now Adam was disconsolate,

    He began to fret and grieve.

    It was then the Lord got busy

    And made him Mother Eve.

    Just think what might have happened

    To folks like me and you,

    If Adam had selected as his mate

    A female kangaroo.

    - Sam Hill

  • In the garden of Eden sat Adam,

    Massaging the chest of his madame.

    He giggled with mirth,

    For he knew that on earth

    There were only two boobs,

    And he had `em!

  • Adam (right after Eve was created): "Hey God, I've got more ribs. You got more women?"

    Adam (a year later): "Hey God it's not funny anymore, I want my rib back!"

    God created man, but I could do better.

    - Erma Bombeck

  • You think Oedipus had a problem? Adam was Eve's mother!

  • If Eve was created "from Adam's side" she must have been tiny! But he loved her. How big of Adam.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • If Eve was created from Adam's "flesh and bone" was she, in a manner of speaking, "cloned" from the DNA in Adam's blood and bone cells? A female clone would look almost exactly like the male original, and bear a greater resemblance than any sister does to her brother. Talk about self-love! Makes incest look tame by comparison! Clone yourself a marriage partner! Hey, it may become the wave of the future and it's Biblical! "Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone," clone of my clone.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • God said, "It is not good that man should be alone. Let us make him an help meet." Yet so far was she from helping him at all that she deceived him, and was in part the cause of his and her own fall.

    - The Roman Emperor Julian in his critique of Christianity, Against the Nazarenes (of which all the original copies were destroyed by Christians who would not put up with criticisms of their beliefs; mere fragments of Julian's work have survived in a Christian apologist's attempted rebuttal to Julian's embarrassing insights)

  • If Adam and Eve were the only two people around, and God told them to multiply, then their sons and daughters must have had some interesting arguments before bedtime over who gets to sleep with whom. Talk about sibling rivalry! If only God had had enough foresight to create another pair besides Adam and Eve. Then we wouldn't all be descended from the incestuous children of that first couple. Of course, another pair would have made the snake's job harder, having to convince four people, not just two, to eat the forbidden fruit, and the story would have dragged out longer.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • God the "Father" threw his first two children out of his house (or garden) after their first indiscretion, and barred their way back with a flaming sword. I don't know a single father on earth who'd treat his children like that after only their first indiscretion. What did God expect from "newborns" (as well as "newlyweds")? Or did Adam forget to floss after "eating" the precious piece of "forbidden fruit?" My, how horrible!

    Actually, Genesis, chapter one, is about how man got swindled out of eternal life. Adam and Eve are hustled from the garden by a frightened deity after they've tasted of the tree of knowledge "and become like one of us" [like "gods," or like "God," depending on your translation]. Better evict them before they take a bite out of the "tree of eternal life," and become even more like gods.

    Such myths were invented to explain why man was so superior to the animals in having a "god-like mind and amazing creative abilities like speech," yet still suffered the ignominy of death along with all the other animals. Hence, myths arose about man being "cheated" out of the other god-like quality he wished he had along with his intelligence, namely eternal life.

    Speaking of having "god-like" qualities, Genesis plainly states, as many theologians have pointed out, that man was created in God's literal physical image: "When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God...[And] Adam became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth" (Gen. 5:1,3). Ancient near eastern peoples also told tales about how the gods found human females physically "beautiful" (compare Gen. 6:2), supposedly resembling the gods' own "beautiful" faces? So, there are examples even in the Bible where "God" is depicted in an all-too-human fashion reminiscent of other ancient deities like Zeus or Apollo, to whom the ancient Greeks believed they bore a physical resemblance.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • The story of the fall of man in Genesis seems originally to have been one of the sardonic folktales of the Near East that explain how man once had immortality nearly within his grasp, but was cheated out of it by frightened or malicious deities. We have earlier versions from Sumerian times on that are less rationalized than the one in Genesis...The Genesis account permits itself a verse (3:22) in which God seems to be telling other gods that man is "now one of us," in a position to threaten their power unless they do something about it at once, with a break in the syntax that suggests genuine terror. [So Adam and Eve are hustled out of paradise by a frightened deity before they can "eat of (the second tree) the tree of life" and "live forever" as fellow gods. - ED.]

    - Northrop Frye, The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (Harvest, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983, p. 109

  • Psalm 115:16 says that God "gave the earth to the sons of men," but, "the heavens are the heavens of the Lord." They certainly are if you believe the story about how God punished mankind for trying to reach heaven by building a tower, "a tower whose top will reach into heaven" (Gen. 11:4), i.e., the infamous "tower of Babel."

    "And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, `Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they propose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.'" (Gen. 11:5-7)

    This "God" sounds a bit frightened - not as much as in Genesis, chapter 3, but still frightened - in this case, that man will "reach heaven" by "building a tower."

    What I want to know is how tall was the "tower of Babel?" Was it taller than a Babylonian ziggurat? Taller than the pyramid of Cheops? Taller than the Twin Towers of Manhattan? Taller than the tallest mountain on earth? Reaching higher into heaven than mankind's deepest space probe? Just where does "God" draw the line between the "earth" and things that "reach into His heavens?"

    The "tower of Babel" must have been taller than the tallest "tall tale" ever told by Mark Twain for God to have "come down" to take a look at it, fearing it would "reach heaven," and then confuse our language.

    Heck, we're at the point where we name our heaven-going spacecraft after pagan gods, like "Gemini and Apollo," and then leave our footprints on "God's" moon in "His heavens!" And God won't "come down" and raise a ruckus again? Maybe Bible lovers who are busy picketing abortion clinics should shift gears and get busy picketing NASA before something "really bad" happens.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • I doesn't matter to me whether Adam and Eve were created with or without "bellybuttons."

    I want to know, were they created with anuses? Did they use leaves to wipe themselves? Was Adam sometimes just out of reach of leaves and had to ask Eve to find him some nice soft ones?

    What about fecal odor? Did their farts smell? Did their underarms smell from the excrement of bacteria? What about foot odor? (Did God feel the least bit obliged to give them the recipe for soap?) Did they burp?

    In other words, wouldn't Adam and Eve have been ashamed of a number of things long before they were "ashamed" to discover they were "naked?" And what does all this imply about the "perfection" of the Biblical God's creation?

    Even in Genesis it says that God cursed woman by "increasing or multiplying" her pain during childbirth, which implies that God had already designed pain and suffering.

    - E. T. Babinski

  • How can God be perfect? He's not. It shows in his work. Take a look at a mountain range. Every mountain different. Different height, different shape. Leaves are all different. He can't get two fingerprints the same. He's had a billion years to work on that. Can't even give one person two thumbs the same. And everything He makes dies. So He needs a lot of help. He's only third in command. The guy that we think is "God," third in command, He's the western marketing manager. That's all. The real God is too busy, are you kidding, He's throwing gas balls around the firmament. "Don't worry about earth man," He says, flinging another huge gas ball, "What is it, a planet? Oh well," He says, tossing another, "Earth, right? Ha, ha. I'll betcha it's Sunday, that's the day, my one day off, and they all crowd into church, `Blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah,' day off my ass.

    - George Carlin (from his comedy routine on "God")

  • Mosquitoes were designed by God to make flies seem better.

  • AIDS is a virus. Pat Robertson is the punishment from God.

  • If AIDS is a divine punishment then lesbians are God's chosen people.

  • The good Lord never gives you more than you can handle. Unless you die of something.

  • I doubt any God who inflicts pain for his own pleasure

    - McCoy (on Star Trek)

  • There is no devil, it's just God when he's drunk.

  • There is no God, it's just the devil when he's sober.

  • A Bible lover once accused me of "denying God's presence."

    I answered, "He doesn't make it very well known to most of us, except of course to lucky old doubting Thomas. Instead, everyone on this planet is equally blessed in being able to detect the undeniable `presence' of earthquakes, tornadoes, genetic defects, diseases, hunger, boredom, ignorance, and strife, praise God!"

    - E. T. Babinski

  • "Fear of God" is third to "Fear of Spiders and Snakes," and second to "Fear of Public Speaking."

  • My greatest fear is being stuck in heaven for eternity with a bunch of televangelists.

  • Wisdom begins where the fear of God ends.


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Berlinski or Babinski?

Berlinski or Babinski?

David Berlinski is the author of "The Deniable Darwin," which was featured in the June 1996 issue of Commentary. (He rebutted criticisms in September's issue of the same magazine.) Should we ever cross pens or tongues in public, imagine an audience's confusion in trying to keep track of "Berlinski's, or was it Babinski's(?)" remarks. I almost feel moved by the similarity of our names to submit my own article to Commentary, praising some of Darwin's observations and the hypotheses he offered. For instance, in Darwin's day, the notion of the "immutability [or changelessness] of species," was increasingly being challenged but apparently was not completely overthrown! For Darwin stated in the Introduction to his book, The Origin of Species:

"I can entertain no doubt after the most deliberate study and dispassionate judgment of which I am capable, that the view which most naturalists until recently entertained, and which I formerly entertained - namely, that each species has been independently created - is erroneous. I am fully convinced that species are not immutable [emphasis added - ED.]; but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are lineal descendants of some other and generally extinct species, in the same manner as the acknowledged variations of any one species are the descendants of that species. Furthermore, I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the most important, but not the exclusive means of modification."

So in Darwin's day a minority of scientists (and probably a large portion of the general public), continued to assert adamantly that "species were immutable" and no species had ever "descended" from another. In fact, the word "species" is a Latin term meaning "type or kind," as in the Biblical statement, "God created each creature after it's kind." The famous cataloger of animals and plants, Carolus Linnaeus, who died 81 years before Darwin's Origin was published, regarded each species as a "special creation" endowed by their Creator with unique and peculiar behaviors, habits, abilities, markings, anatomical designs, etc., that set them apart, even from near-identical neighboring species. There was always some anatomical trait or complex behavior pattern which was "puzzlingly peculiar" to each species, and creationists from the 1800s to the mid-1900s pointed to such irreducible differences between species as "proof" to support their idea of the "immutability of species." In similar species of, say, spiders, the "puzzling peculiarity" could be a manner of web-spinning or mating; in similar wasp species it could be the way each parasitized a specific host-species, or in similar species of insects that pollinated plants, it could be the unique (and sometimes amazingly complex) ways each interacted with a specific species of cactus or orchid, etc. And let's not get into the beetles, which probably number upwards of a million species, each with some unique structure and/or behavior that could be cited as evidence of that species' irreducible complexity.

It was only with reluctance that such "old time" creationists abandoned the battle over what their modern-day counterparts sneeringly call "mere microevolution." Modern-day creationists instead speak adamantly in terms of "the impossibility of macroevolution." As if the dividing line between what they call "micro" and "macro" evolution was clear and incontestible in every case, and more than just a mere juggling of prefixes.

The irony of creationism's present position is that there are some creationists who advocate geocentrism based on a straightforward reading of Sacred Scripture (just like Luther and Calvin advocated). These modern day "Biblical astronomers" (as they call themselves) argue that Copernicus' theory of heliocentrism, and Newton's theory of gravity, ought to be abandoned in favor of a more Biblical theory wherein the whole cosmos circles the earth once a day. Furthermore, these fellows attempt to provoke doubt in "modern astronomy" by pointing out that microgravity (obeyed by objects on the earth's surface), and macrogravity ("supposedly" obeyed by planets in orbit around the sun) are "not the same thing." (Does this point sound familiar? Ring a bell? Hey, stop the sun, fellahs, I want to get on!)


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More of the Best Things ever said in Favor of Human Evolution

More of the Best Things ever said in Favor of Human Evolution

"Brookfield, Ill. -- A toddler fell into a gorilla exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo Friday afternoon... A 7-year-old female gorilla with a baby gorilla on her back, picked up the child, cradled him in her arms, and placed him near a door where zoo keepers could retrieve the boy."


"I saw one female chimpanzee, newly arrived in a group, hurry up to a big male and hold her hand towards him. Almost regally he reached out, clasped her hand in his, drew it towards him, and kissed it with his lips."


"I handed him the cigarette packet. He opened it, took out a cigarette, and put it between his lips. He then reached out his hand again and I gave him the matches; to my astonishment he took one out of the box, struck it, lit the cigarette, and threw the box down on the table."


"Anyone watching our Cameroons chimpanzee, Missie, sitting at table in her salon, pouring out three cups of coffee one after the other, and then smoking a cigarette, having lighted it herself, must have had an uncontrollable urge to laugh. But she also gave food for thought."


"In one of the American monkey stations a completely tame and highly `civilized' chimpanzee named JoJo always switched the light off itself before settling down to sleep."


"Chimps (which have the same sleep stages as we do and even seem to dream in almost the same cycles), sleep about 8 hours."


"The chimpanzee possesses a certain sense of humor...When the animal has succeeded in overturning a pail of water and caused a great deal of this, often including the pail, to descend upon the head of some poor unfortunate human attendant, it will clap both its hands over the top of its own head and emit a succession of loud, explosive noises from its larynx."


"Mountain gorillas become killers when their social groups come face-to-face...One gorilla group will deliberately seek out another and provoke a conflict...An enormous male left a skirmish with his flesh so badly ripped that the head of an arm bone and numerous ligaments stuck out through the broken skin. Another left the battle scene with eight massive wounds where the enemy had bitten him on the head and arms. The site where the conflict had raged was covered with blood...Fossey actually recovered gorilla skulls with canine cusps from other gorillas still embedded in the skull's crest."


"The males from the larger band of chimpanzees began to make trips south to the patch of land occupied by the splinter unit. The marauders' purpose was simple: to harass and ultimately kill the separatists. They beat their former friends mercilessly, breaking bones, opening massive wounds, and leaving the resultant cripples to die a slow and lingering death. When the raids were over, five males and one elderly female had been murdered. The separatist group had been destroyed; and its sexual active females and part of its territory had been annexed by the males of the band from the home turf."


"The happy-go-lucky chimpanzee has turned out to be the most lethal ape - an organized, cooperative warrior."


"Darwin was wrong. Man's still an ape."


"They prosecuted some poor sucker in these United States

For teaching that man descended from the apes.

They coulda settled that case without a fuss or a fight

If they'd seen me chasing you, sugar,

through the jungle last night."


"A recent film shown on the DISCOVER channel (Sept. 1996), showed bonobo chimpanzees engaged in long `tongue kissing' sessions - chimpanzees French kissing on national television! They also showed a male and female bonobo engaged in intercourse, face to face, in the `missionary position.' They are the only known species of primate besides man that performs sex in that position. All other chimp and gorilla species do it `doggie style.' It was also announced on the program, but now shown, that bonobos engage in oral sex and homosexual-like behaviors. Some scientists believe that bonobos are the species of chimpanzee most like man."


"The folks who study DNA say there's very nearly as much `chimp' in our DNA as there is `man' in the chimp's DNA! Our DNA is 98% identical. Yet chimps don't complain that they're stuck with so much `man' in them, so why should creationists complain when evolutionists remind creationists that man is still in many ways an `animal?'"


"1996 presidential contender, Pat Buchanan, said something along the lines of `You may believe that you're descended from monkeys, but I believe you're a creature of God.' I guess that Buchanan hadn't considered that one of the basic tenets of Christianity is that God is the Creator of everything, including `monkeys.' It seems to me that one of the basic reasons behind the so-called `creationism' is the feeling that somehow parts of God's creation are not worthy of being our ancestors."


"Creationists ask, `How can man and chimpanzee be related if they don't have the same number of chromosomes?' (23 pairs in man, 24 in great apes). The answer is found in "The Origin of Man: A Chromosomal Pictorial Legacy" by Jorge J. Yunis and Om Prakash (Science, Vol. 215, Mar. 19, 1982, p. 1525-1530). This paper has a picture of all the chromosomes of man, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans with each pair of chromosomes lined up next to each other and showing the 1000 band stage with all the sections labeled. Just by examining the picture you can clearly see that the chromosomes are remarkably similar. The differences are equally revealing as a vast majority are simple inversions of sections of chromosomes. Chromosome #2 of humans is shown next to two chimpanzee (and gorilla and orangutan) chromosomes since the human chromosome #2 is twice as long as the chimpanzee (and the other two as well), yet all the bands match up showing that the one less human chromosome is merely the result of two chimp chromosomes getting connected together!"


"Why are the chromosome numbers, lengths and banding patterns for humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, so similar? [See picture above.] A `Designer' who `separately created' all four species could just as easily (with the aid of His omniscience) have stored the DNA information for the production of each species in very different numbers, lengths, and banding patterns of chromosomes.

"The evolutionary explanation is that the numbers, lengths and banding patterns of the chromosomes of these species were simply inherited from common ancestors."


"Is it possible for humans and chimpanzees to inter-breed? Utilizing modern tricks of the trade geneticists in England have cross-bred a goat and a sheep. They call it a `geep.' In the case of trying to cross man with chimp some say that genetic engineering may not be necessary, normal insemination may suffice. By artificially inseminating a female chimp with human sperm (after numerous attempts), you might produce a fertilized egg (and, if it continues to develop without any major difficulties), an embryo, a fetus, or even a `chimpman,' or a `humanzee.' Geneticists point out that some species with greater genetic differences than man and chimp have produced hybrid offspring. Take the hybrid between a gibbon and a siamang, two species that differ more in chromosomal composition than do humans and chimps (Science 205:308). So it may be possible to produce a hybrid `human/chimp' even without the help of genetic engineers.

"Would such a creature be a `man' or an `animal' according to the strictly `either/or' definitions of `creation science?' Or, to put the matter more sharply, `If you could use genetic engineering to substitute the DNA sequences of a chimp with human DNA sequences, doing it one base-pair at a time, then at what base-pair substitution would the chimp cross over to being a `human being?'

"Fortunately for creationists, few of them have even thought about such questions. As for evolutionists, no scientist I know wants to risk seeing how he might be treated should he attempt such an experiment. Especially not after the `Christian Coalition,' or Muslim fundamentalists, rally their forces against him/her. Of course, once fertilization has occurred, the Christian Coalition would be faced with the dilemma of either urging that the fertilized cell be aborted, or letting it grow, and risk it being born. Could they allow a creature to be born which might provide living proof that man was not a `special kind' but that he could also interbreed with chimpanzees, his nearest genetic cousins? What a dilemma!"


"I'd like to see some human females volunteer their eggs and wombs for insemination with bonobo chimpanzee sperm." - Michelle Steiner

"Wow! You'll do anything to get laid." - Alan "Uncle Al" Schwartz

"(Blush!)" - Michelle Steiner


"Hawaii consists of a string of `young' volcanic islands that are still being formed as tectonic plates pass slowly over volcanic activity on the Pacific sea floor. The volcanoes spew up new island-making material at the end of the Hawaiian island chain as the islands ride the tectonic plates and pass overhead. Thus, the string of islands known as `Hawaii' keeps growing. The first island that was formed in the chain has been measured to be about 5 million years old. The islands that form the rest of the chain are younger in a descending order from the first.

"Hawaii also contains over 800 species of Drosophila, or, "fruit flies." That's probably because when the first Hawaiian island formed, the fruit fly was one of the first flying insects to inhabit it, and the environment of the Hawaiian islands grew varied as the islands blossomed forth. On them you can find sunny beaches with strong winds, cool forest valleys, tropical rain forests, and mountainous terrain. So the flies had a wide range of niches they could inhabit with little or no competition. As new islands in the chain sprouted up, and grew distant from one another, that led to the isolation of flies on different islands where they could no longer interbreed but evolved different species in different habitats.

"The unusual and diverse species of fruit flies that are found only on the Hawaiian islands, obviously had to have evolved from a common stock, just as evolutionists claim that man and chimpanzee diverged from a common stock. And like the species of fruit flies that evolved in 5 million years on the Hawaiian islands, it was about 5 million years ago, according to evolutionary theory, that man and chimpanzee diverged, and the genetic distance between man and chimpanzee (about 2% of their DNA being different) is about the same as the genetic distance between some species of fruit flies on the Hawaiian islands. Thus, human evolution, like fruit fly evolution, is, as Pope John Paul II recently put it, `more than just a hypothesis.' And that's putting it mildly."


"We have obtained estimates of genetic differentiation between humans and the great apes no greater than, say, those observed between morphologically indistinguishable (sibling) species of Drosophila flies (fruit flies)."


"There are more than a thousand different species of cichlid (pronounced SICK-lid) fishes in the world today. Some are bigger than goats; others could fit in a thimble. Some are thick and boxy; others lean and long. They are brown or turquoise or every shade of a neon rainbow painted on a single beast [with a host of different mouth adaptations for different feeding habits. - ED.]...In Lake Victoria in East Africa three hundred species of cichlids arose from one progenitor species in less than 200,000 years, an evolutionary pace that no other animal group has rivaled...One genetic study looked at the DNA of fourteen Lake Victoria cichlid species exhibiting highly divergent feeding behaviors...Yet despite the fishes' specialized appetites, their genes differ by only two or three base pairs, or chemical subunits, out of the many thousands that constitute the genes examined. There is more genetic variation among people than there are among these fourteen fish species - and people, keep in mind, are all members of the same species."


"The genetic distance between humans and chimpanzees is so small, in fact, that it corresponds to that between sibling (closely allied) species and is less than between two nonsibling species of the same genus.

"It is also apparent that the malarial parasites of man and those of every one of the apes evolved from a common ancestor. This is an important point, as it indicates that their hosts, man and apes, did likewise."


"The same retroviral DNA sequences appear in the same relative places in the DNA of both human beings and primates. And there isn't the faintest probability that such sequences could have been inserted on two separate occasions by two of the same species of retroviruses and wound up in the same relative places of the DNA of both man and primates. So, the Designer is either telling us that man and primates evolved from the same distant DNA stock into which a retrovirus inserted its DNA long ago - a stock that split afterwards into man and apes; or, the Designer is pulling a con game not unlike the one proposed by some creationists who argued that the Designer sculpted all the fossils - which merely mimicked the remains of once-living animals and plants - and filled the rocks with them to purposely deceive mankind into believing that such animals and plants had existed in the past."

E. T. BABINSKI [For information on retroviral sequences found in the same places in both human and primate DNA, see Bonner et al., 1982, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 79:4709; Mariani-Constantini et al., 1989, Journal of Virology 63:4982; Edward E. Max, letter published in Creation/Evolution, issue 27, summer 1990, pgs. 45-49]

"Why is it that whenever a paleontologist notes similarities between an australopithicine's fossil knee joint (or femur or foot) and modern man's bones, the creationists jump all over it and state with supreme conviction: `That femur or foot bone, belonged to a "fully human" being who lived right beside his so-called evilutionary ancestors!' It doesn't matter to such creationists that the pelvis, femur, and foot bones belonged to creatures that only grew to be three-and-a-half to four feet tall at maturity, or that the big toe of these ancient foot bones (as seen in ancient footprint tracks in volcanic ash dating back to the Australopithicine era), was splayed outward, and not exactly like that of `fully human' beings.

"Don't creationists ever wonder about the fact that the paleontologists found ape-like skulls with the `human leg and foot bones,' rather than the other way around, i.e., human skulls with `ape leg and foot bones?'

Come on, creationists, think about it! Did God hide the human skulls, only leaving behind leg and foot bones belonging to human midgets with misshapen feet, and mix such bones only with the skulls of ape-like creatures with larger cranial capacities than living apes? What a "kidder" the creationist's God must be.

Or maybe, just maybe, ape-like creatures existed in the past that walked erect, which freed their hands to perform actions guided by their larger-than-average ape brains? Hey, that sounds like evolution. Golly gee wiz."


"The most obvious specialized features of the modern apes are their long arms and the `simian shelf,' a bridge of bone joining the two sides of the lower jaw directly behind the front teeth. The simian shelf strengthens the lower jaw, a function performed in modern man by the chin. The long arms, of course, are great for swinging through trees.

"These specializations are not primitive features but relatively recent developments. The Miocene apes discovered by Louis Leakey had relatively short arms and still had not developed a simian shelf, indicating with respect to these features that apes have been getting progressively less manlike over millions of years."


"Creationists claim it would be impossible for a chimpanzee to ever produce the works of Shakespeare. But something like that has already happened and it only took about five million years, because chimp and man share a common ancestor, one of whose descendants grew up to be Shakespeare."


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The Problem of Pain and the Egomania of the Psalms

The Problem of Pain and the egomania of the Psalms

Rebecca Anne Reed, whom I knew as "Becca," was a co-worker and friend with a good sense of humor. She died recently from a blood clot that moved from her lung to her heart. She was only 27 years old, engaged to be married, a lover of dogs and children, and working on writing a romance novel.

I attended her funeral, which was held in a Catholic church. One of the songs sung was based on Psalm 91, which declares, "Surely He will deliver you...from the deadly pestilence...You will not be afraid of...the arrow that flies by day; or of the pestilence that stalks in darkness; or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you...Because you have made the Lord your evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your dwelling. For He will give his angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways...They will bear you up in their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and cobra; the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot...Because you have set your love upon Me [Yahweh], therefore I will deliver you...with long life I will satisfy you."

Becca was beginning to attend church after having shunned it for a while. It was then that she was struck down at home ["no evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your dwelling"] by an embolism ["Surely He will deliver you...from the deadly pestilence"], and died at age 27 ["with long life I will satisfy you"]. The irony of the words of that psalm being sung at Becca's funeral was apparent to me though no one else there seemed to notice, maybe because the psalm was matched with a pretty melody. Religious services are not designed to make you think more rationally, they are designed to "move" you.

Upon reading Psalm 91 later, after the service, I noticed how it consists of a list of outrageous "promises" of earthly security, stringing absurdity after absurdity, until the author wound up with "angels" not allowing him to stub his toe. Trust in Yahweh and your life will be like Superman's (or like that of another "well nigh invulnerable" comic book character, The Tick!) You'll be invulnerable to "arrows" [a modern day version of this Psalm would probably add that "bullets shall not harm you, and atomic bomb radiation shall not burn you even though thousands around you melt into puddles of ooze" - which reminds me...Pat Robertson, in the late 1970s gave a rousing speech about how "machine gun bullets" wouldn't be able to hurt true believers]. So, like Superman (or The Tick), you need not worry about any disease, deadly animal, poisonous snake [even if you walk upon it], or even worry about jamming your pinky toe! That's what the psalmist promises will happen to those who "trust in Yahweh."

Compare Psalm 37:25, where, at the end of a long life the psalmist sings that he has "never seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread." Most people do not go through life so blind to reality and accident statistics as the psalmists apparently did.

What's even more ironic is how other portions of the Bible deny the "inspired lessons of the psalmists." Jesus "trusted in Yahweh" but look what happened to him (Ouch)! Or look at the "mystery of the suffering of the righteous" according to the book of Job. Job (if such a person ever existed) would probably have beaten the author of Psalm 91 over the head in disgust at his naivete (as it was, some of Job's friends argued like the Psalmist that "none of this would have happened to you, Job, if you trusted in Yahweh and were righteous," and Job of course, proved such a view naive to say the least).

And what about folks who were never members of "God's chosen people" yet who lived long loving happy healthy creative and prosperous lives? The psalmists were blind to that reality also.

Besides an egomania of blessings tied to their earthly existence, the psalmists sung about cursings, or "perfect hatred," toward any non-Hebrew people whose egos dared to affront their own. About such people the psalmists' wrath knew no bounds:

"Let his days be few...his children fatherless...his wife be a widow...wandering about begging...seeking food far from their ruined homes...let a creditor seize all he has...strangers steal from him...none to extend a hand...nor to his orphaned children...may he be cut off from the memory of the earth...But Thou, Oh Yahweh, deal kindly with me...Do I not loath those who rise up against Thee, Yahweh? I hate them with perfect [utmost] hatred...The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance, he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked...That your foot may be dipped in the blood of your enemies and the tongue of your dogs may be dipped in their blood...Blessed [or happy] will he be who dashes your little ones against the rock." [Ps. 58:10; 68:23; 137:9; 139:21-22 & 109]

Any ethical Supreme Being must puke at the sound of such passages being sung to him. (Not to forget equally grotesque passages found in less "sing-able" portions of the Hebrew Bible, like Exodus 32:27-28; Deut. 5:9; 6:13,15; 7:2,4; 13:6-9; 20:16,17; 28:45,47,53; 32:42; Lev. 27:28-29; Num. 31:8-9,15-18; Joshua 7:26; 11:20; Judges 11; 1 Sam. 15:3; Jer. 19:9; 51:20,22; Hosea 13:16.)

When will God's worshipers grow up (instead of merely being "born again and again") and realize that they are better than some portions of their "Holy Scriptures," or, that some portions aren't that "holy?"


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Who is the "Lord of the Flies"? Satan or God?

Who is the "Lord of the Flies"? Satan or God?

Martin Luther's View

The father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther, thought flies were noxious, sent by the devil to vex him when reading. He may have gotten that idea from the New Testament, where "Satan" is connected with "Beelzebub" - from the Hebrew, "baal-zevuv," meaning literally, "lord of the flies." Of course, I'm not sure if calling Satan "lord of the flies" was originally meant as more of an insult to flies or to Satan.

Needless to say, Luther saw "Satan" lurking everywhere. According to Luther, "Snakes and monkeys are subjected to the demon more than other animals. Satan lives in them and possesses them. He uses them to deceive men and to injure them..."

"Demons are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly places ready to hurt and prejudice people; some are also in thick black clouds, which cause hail, lightning and thunder, and poison the air, the pastures and grounds..."

"In my country, upon a mountain called Polterberg, there is a pool. If one throws a stone into it, instantly a storm arises and the whole surrounding countryside is overwhelmed by it. This lake is full of demons; Satan holds them captive there..."

"How often have not the demons called `Nix,' drawn women and girls into the water, and there had commerce with them, With fearful consequences."

"I myself saw and touched at Dessay, a child...which had no human parents, but had proceeded from the Devil. He was twelve years old, and, in outward form, exactly resembled ordinary children." [Editor's note: Referring to children that were believed to have been produced as the result of "commerce" with the devil.]

"A large number of deaf, crippled and blind people are afflicted solely through the malice of the demon. And one must in no wise doubt that plagues, fevers and every sort of evil come from him..." [Editor's note: Boy that Satan, what a designer! He must work longer hours than God! See the section above, "Why We Believe in a Designer," for examples of what Luther might have called "Satan's handiwork."]

"Our bodies are always exposed to the attacks of Satan. The maladies I suffer are not natural, but Devil's spells..."

"Satan produces all the maladies which afflict mankind for he is the prince of death..." [Editor's note: So, who needs antibiotics, or modern sanitation and health and building practices? We just need more good Christian exorcists to heal "all the maladies which afflict mankind."]

"As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil..."

[All the above are from the collection of Luther's speeches with his friends, titled, Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther]

"I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is the Antichrist..." [Luther, letter to Spalatin, Oct. 10, 1520]

"When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children." [Luther in his Commentary on Galatians]

"I would have no compassion on a witch; I would burn them all." [Luther, Table Talk, a volume in The Collected Works of Martin Luther]

"The heathen writes that the Comet may arise from natural causes; but God creates not one that does not foretoken a sure calamity."
[Luther, Advent Sermon]

For further quotations see Heiko Oberman's acclaimed recent biography, Luther: Man Between God and the Devil

Mark Twain's View

Like Martin Luther, Mark Twain held an opinion of the "fly" that was lower than Lucifer's hooves. Unlike Luther, however, Twain did not give "Satan" the credit for wondrously designing all manner of harmful hateful creatures and natural disasters. Twain didn't think God would have allowed Satan such near-absolute creative license, allowing him to "re-create" the whole of nature. So, concerning the fly, Twain wrote:

"Can we imagine a man [much less a God] inventing the fly, and sending him out on his mission, furnished with these orders: `Depart into the uttermost corners of the earth, and diligently do your appointed work. Persecute the sick child; settle upon its eyes, its face, its hands, and gnaw and pester and sting; worry and fret and madden the worn and tired mother who watches by the child, and who humbly prays for mercy and relief with the pathetic faith of the deceived and the unteachable. Settle upon the soldier's festering wounds in field and hospital and drive him frantic while he also prays, and between times curses, with none to listen but you, Fly, who get all the petting and all the protection, without even praying for it. Harry and persecute the forlorn and forsaken wretch who is perishing of the plague, and in his terror and despair praying; bite, sting, feed upon his ulcers, dabble your feet in his rotten blood, gum them thick with plague-germs - feet cunningly designed and perfected for this function ages ago in the beginning - carrying this freight to a hundred tables, among the just and the unjust, the high and the low, and walk over the food and gaum it with filth and death. Visit all; allow no man peace till he get it in the grave; visit and afflict the hard-worked and unoffending horse, mule, ox, ass, pester the patient cow, and all the kindly animals that labor without fair reward here and perish without hope of it hereafter; spare no creature, wild or tame; but wheresoever you find one, make his life a misery, treat him as the innocent deserve; and so please Me and increase My glory Who made the fly.'" [Twain, "Thoughts of God," early 1900s]

"We approve all God's works, we praise all His works, with a fervent enthusiasm - of words; and in the same moment we kill a fly, which is as much one of His works as any other, and has been included and complimented in our sweeping eulogy. We not only kill the fly, but we do it in a spirit of measureless disapproval - even a spirit of hatred, exasperation, vindictiveness; and we regard that creature with disgust and loathing - which is the essence of contempt - and yet we have just been praising it, approving it, glorifying it. We have been praising it to its Maker, and now our act insults its Maker. The praise was dishonest, the act is honest; the one was a wordy hypocrisy, the other is compact candor...

"We hunt the fly remorselessly; also the flea, the rat, the snake, the disease-germ and a thousand other creatures which He pronounced good, and was satisfied with, and which we loudly praise and approve - with our mouths - and then harry and chase and malignantly destroy, by wholesale." [Twain, "God," 1905]


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The Most Provocative Things Ever Said About The Way God "Designed" The Cosmos

The Most Provocative Things Ever Said About The Way God "Designed" The Cosmos

  • "God ordained that the rattler who sleeps in the fallen pine must sink its stone fangs in the child's pale ankle, just as the boy's heart must clench at the first flush of venom - the cold climbing his shins."

    MARY KARR, "AGAINST NATURE," PARNASSUS 18:2 1993 & 19:1 1994, a one volume combined edition of that journal

  • "He creates a beautiful bird, then plants the instinct in the cat to tear it apart. He brings babies into the world and watches cancer devour them...He sends down no `manna' from heaven to feed the starving, not even if they are little children. [Maybe he ran out of manna, having given it all to the `stubborn hard hearted' Israelites in the desert? - ED.]."


  • "The noise of December wind banging against our insulated house is an admonition that this domestic conditional stuff, and that the universe which surrounds it has a way of being brutal and unsparing...

    "Last week, on the same night our community opened an efficient and hospitable shelter, an area man froze to death...When your wife and children are nestled all snug in their beds, and you're alone with your thoughts in the kitchen and you hear that relentless wailing, you know how much of creation theology is bull...

    "In a high tech, antiseptic, hospital...I watched in helpless anguish as well-trained doctors and nurses rushed to save the lives of my wife and prematurely born son. Had nature been allowed to take its course, the Midwestern soil would have claimed what I love for fertilizer...

    "The earthquake in already bleeding Armenia didn't take place because of any systemic injustice. Nor did the hurricane that flattened the already hopeless villages of Nicaragua. Nor did the flood in Bangladesh.

    [Editor's note: The poorest people of the world suffer most from nature's "designedly" brutal ways. The earthquake in Armenia (in the 1980s) was less powerful than the earthquake in San Francisco, yet only a couple hundred people died in the U.S. quake while 25,000 died in the Armenian one. The roofs of the cheaply made houses and buildings in Armenia collapsed on their occupants, killing them, while the houses and buildings in our far wealthier nation were constructed better, with finer materials, and didn't collapse as easily. Neither is it easy for poor people to obtain all the medical assistance and proper housing and appropriate information they need to deal with nature's brutal ways. There's the weather and natural disasters as well as parasites, natural poisons, bacteria and/or viruses in their food water and air. If God designed nature to "punish" mankind He certainly must have known that such a plan would punish the poor people of the world most of all.]

    "When Mount St. Helens burst like a boil on the earth's skin, the gas suffocated a family or two. I remember a dead little boy in the back of his parents' pickup truck. The photographs of his corpse showed the eyes wide open and the mouth agape. A tiny and bewildered face stared into an empty sky...

    "Recently, when a green hickory branch broke and fell in Illinois, shattering the skull and mind and family and friends of a four-year-old boy, the problem was not human hardness of heart. When leukemia was diagnosed in a six-year-old girl, her parents learned something no liberation theologian has yet expressed about the nature of evil. None of these things is our fault.

    "There are those who have gazed unflinchingly at these things and said they are the will of God. Some unfathomable thing goes on, they seem to say, that makes sense out of our orphans, puts all our shattered children and demented and despairing parents into some context. It has to do with Jesus on the cross or multinational corporations or Our Lady of Fatima. Their assertions are duplicitous or insane.

    "No, A universe in which such things can happen is simply intolerable. And we have to tolerate it. The attempt to explain away such things is contemptible...The faith makes no attempt, but does enigmatically insist that God himself has entered and overcome the horrors of this plainly blighted project...That is no exhaustive reassurance to be sure..."


  • "Our quaint metaphysical opinions, in an hour of anguish, are like playthings by the bedside of a small child deathly sick."



    Scene: A small boy lay dying in agony from the plague. A priest and an atheist doctor are in attendance, both unable to help the child.

    Father Paneloux [the priest]: "This sort of thing is revolting because it passes our human understanding. But perhaps we should love what we cannot understand."

    Dr. Rieux [the doctor]: "No, Father, I've a very different idea of love. And until my dying day I shall refuse to love a scheme of things in which children are put to torture."



    "Don't tell me God works in mysterious ways, there's nothing so mysterious about it. He's not working at all. He's playing. Or else He's forgotten all about us...How much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?"

    "Pain?" She pounced upon the word victoriously, "Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers."

    "And who created the dangers?" he demanded. "Oh, He was really being charitable to us when He gave us pain! Why couldn't He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of his celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person's forehead. Any jukebox manufacturer worth his salt could have done that. Why couldn't He?"

    "People would look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads."

    "They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony or stupefied with morphine, don't they? What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering."


  • "It was no use feeling the pain of an inflamed appendix until modern surgical techniques were sufficiently advanced to remove it. And often the `warnings' appear ill-adjusted to the seriousness of the disease. Toothache kills few people, while sadly some forms of cancer give little pain in the early stages. So we are left with a large amount of pain that seems to serve no purpose and which is not far distant from torture."



    Act 1, Scene 1 [Setting: Young pregnant woman found dead in a parking lot, struck by lightning.]

    Cop : Looks like lightning hit her on the head. Guess it was the will of God.

    Detective: It's the work of God all right, and I'm gonna make sure he goes up the river for this one.

    Detective's narration: Ever since I started this beat, God had been responsible for putting more people six feet under the ground than any other thug in the city. They had all been written off as natural causes, but I knew better. And now he was getting sloppy. The lightning was his personal trademark.


  • "I think that I shall never see

    A God so cruel

    he'd make a Flea!

    "A Flea whose hungry mouth is pressed

    Against my dog's

    hot itching breast.

    "A Flea that looks for dogs all day

    And jumps three feet

    to land its prey.

    "My dog (who may in summer wear

    ten nests of Fleas

    deep in his hairs)

    "Upon his bosom they have lain,

    He intimately lives

    with pain!

    "Brave doubts are born in fools like me:

    There is no god

    who'd make a Flea!"


  • "Oh Rose, thou art sick;

    The invisible worm,

    That flies in the night,

    In the howling storm,

    Hath found out thy bed

    Of crimson joy,

    And his dark, secret love,

    Doth thy life destroy."


  • 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, "it's 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 flower's 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."


  • "Mr. Hollister says the wasps catch spiders and cram them down their nests in the ground - alive, mama! - and there they live and suffer days and days and days, and the hungry little wasps chewing the spider's legs and gnawing into their bellies all the time, to make them good and religious and praise God for His infinite mercies...Dear mama, have you fainted?"


  • "I recall one day in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago around 1968, I came upon the Great Horned Owl. He or she was in a cage with a sign saying among other things that he or she was a `desirable' bird. The desirability of the Great Horned Owl was explained by the fact that he or she eats various critters that annoy farmers. This seems to me one of the silliest things I ever read outside of a Creationist journal. My own hunch is that the Great Horned Owl would consider itself desirable no matter what humans thought about the matter; and I also suspect that the critters eaten by the Great Horned Owl do not consider it a desirable bird at all, but probably regard it as actively nefarious.

    "An old Sufi teaching-story is apropos here. Somebody asked the divine Mullah Nasrudin, `Why do crickets make that annoying noise all night?' The mullah replied, `To give philosophers something to argue about all day.' He who has ears, let them hear."


  • Back in the days when Christians were being fed to the lions, one Christian, who was being pursued by a lion, ran all around the arena looking for a safe place to hide but to no avail. Finally he fell to his knees and said, "Oh Lord, please hear my prayer and fill this lion with the spirit of Christianity." Looking over at the lion, he saw the lion fall to its knees, clasp its front paws together and say, "Oh Lord, I humbly thank you for the food I am about to receive."

    "A Mouse that prayed for Allah's aid

    Blasphemed when no such aid befell;

    A Cat, who feasted on the mouse,

    Thought Allah managed vastly well."


  • An aunt of mine was teaching Sunday school. She was telling the youngsters about Daniel and the Lion's Den. She had a picture of Daniel standing brave and confident with a group of lions around him. One little eight-year-old started to cry.

    The teacher said, "Don't cry. The lions are not going to eat Daniel."

    The girl said, "That's not what I'm crying about. That little lion in the corner is not going to get any."


  • "A small girl prayed to God to heal her of an increasingly pain-filled illness, but the TB germs continued to torture her for years, `honoring God's purposeful design' with every bite they took of the child's life, comfort, and sanity."



    "Beloved children, I write to you today to offer you loving guidance against the unnatural use of antibiotics...God created bacteria and viruses for the purpose of infecting organisms sometimes seriously, sometimes less seriously - and we must never presume to interfere with the right order of God's creation...Just as all forms of birth control go against the natural purpose of conjugal relations - namely, procreation - so the use of all forms of man-made antibiotics interfere with the God-given design of bacteria and viruses and how He intends them to interact with the human body...each and every bacteria-body interaction must remain open to the transmission of bacteria...It is immoral to impede development of a natural process. That is why we have so exhaustively spoken out against artificial birth control and now anti-biotics. We cannot impede a process that God has created. No impeding, no impeding! ...God created syphilis to infect sexually immoral people, and cause them suffering and eventual death. In no way should a man-made antibiotic interfere with this God-given process. Also, the fear of syphilis is a natural encouragement toward marital fidelity, which could not otherwise hold its own in a free market."


  • "Infectious disease is one of the great tragedies of living things - the struggle for existence between different forms of life. Man sees it from his own prejudiced point of view; but clams, oysters, insects, fish, flowers, tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, fruit, shrubs, trees, have their own varieties of smallpox, measles, cancer, or tuberculosis. [I guess God had to work overtime at his biological warfare lab! - ED.] Incessantly, the pitiless war goes on...a nationalism of species against species [with human beings having attained numerous honors in the `war' effort, probably having obliterated more species - including many individuals of their own kind - than any other competitor on the planet. - ED.]...

    "Speaking of degrees of ferocity not yet attained by man...Husband eating is an accepted custom with female spiders, and among the Scorpions, it is quite fashionable for the mother to devour the father and then, in her turn, to be eaten by her `kiddies.' When male members of the larger cat families - that is, mountain lions - waylay and eat their own children, this is not truly an evidence of ferocity. It is an indirect crime of passion; the result of an impatient tenderness for the lioness who has become too exclusively tied up with the demands of motherhood...

    "Of course, there is probably as little conscious cruelty in the lion that devours a missionary as there is in the kind-hearted old gentleman who dines upon a chicken pie, or in the staphylococcus that is raising a boil on the old gentleman's neck. Broadly speaking, the lion is parasitic on the missionary, as the old gentleman is on the chicken pie, and the staphylococcus on the old gentleman...

    "Nature seems to have intended that her creatures feed upon one another. At any rate, she has so designed her cycles that the only forms of life that are parasitic directly upon Mother Earth herself are a proportion of the vegetable kingdom that dig their roots into the sod for its nitrogenous juices...But these - unless too unpalatable or poisonous - are devoured by the beasts and by man; and the latter, in their turn, by other beasts and bacteria...

    "Swords and lances, arrows, machine guns, and even high explosives have had far less power over the fates of nations than the typhus louse, the plague flea, and the yellow fever mosquito. Civilizations have retreated from the plasmodium of malaria, and armies have crumbled into rabbles under the onslaught of cholera spirilla, or of dysentery and typhoid bacilli. Huge areas have been devastated by the trypanosome that travels on the wings of the tsetse fly, and generations have been harassed by the syphilis of a courtier..."


  • "Parasitism is such an appealing way to earn a living that the majority of the earth's organisms have adopted it. A number of parasites, like ticks, are generalists, hopping readily from one warm-blooded creature to another. Many more are remarkably specific. There are mites that can survive only in the rectum of a giant tortoise, worms that fit snugly into the quills of a single species of bird, and mites that live exclusively and harmlessly at the base of human eyelashes. Most parasites are themselves burdened with parasites." [Fleas burdened with mites, which are burdened with protozoa, which are burdened by bacteria, which are burdened by viruses! - ED.]


  • "So, naturalists observe, a flea hath smaller fleas that on him prey. And these have smaller still to bite `em; and so proceed ad infinitum."


  • "Although most parasitic diseases are now rare among those in developed nations, the majority of the world's people are hobbled by one or more types of parasite."


  • "Until the discovery in the mid-1800s that dirt, germs, and disease all helped to kill people off, washing was not a popular activity. Before that time, the Ancient Romans were just about the only people who enjoyed it. They built large public baths with steam rooms...

    "Also up until the 1800s parasites were an accepted part of life. 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...

    "Lack of washing led to infestations of parasites such as fleas and lice, which in turn contributed to the spread of disease, particularly plagues. These were often carried by the fleas living on the rats which flourished in the garbage-filled streets."


  • "We can hardly suppose [that lice, ticks, fleas, intestinal worms, and such] were living on Adam and his lady...And yet as such creatures disdained to graze the fields or lick the dust for their food, where else could they have obtained it?"


  • "Supposedly Noah, his wife, and their sons and daughters-in-law on the ark, would have had to bear on their skin and in their veins and guts the many parasitical species found only in and on human beings today. Otherwise such nasty parasitical species would have troubled mankind no more, having died out with their `evil' human hosts who were wiped out by the Flood.

    "I certainly don't envy Noah, his wife, and his three sons and daughters-in-law, having to put up with such annoying and deadly passengers on and in their own bodies, like fleas, lice, ticks, bedbugs, hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms, liver flukes, filarial worms (that cause elephantiasis), trypanosomes (that cause sleeping sickness, and, Chagas' disease), and other parasitical species peculiar to human beings (or most suited to survive on and in human beings).

    "Not to mention that Noah would have had to have taken aboard only those pairs of animals who were infested with parasitical organisms that afflict those animals today. What a boat full of parasites illnesses and diseases!"


  • "It is likely from evidence that, somewhere in the legendary past of the history of lice, an offspring of a free-living form not unlike our book louse found that life could be infinitely simplified if, instead of having to grub for food in straw, under tree barks, in moss or lichen, in decaying cereals and vegetables, it could attach itself to some food-supplying host, and sit tight. It is one of the few instances in which nature seems extremely logical in its processes. The louse sacrifices a liberty that signifies chiefly the necessity for hard work, the uncertainty of food and shelter, and exposure to dangers from birds, lizards, and frogs; loses the fun of having wings, perhaps; but achieves instead a secure and effortless existence on a living island of plenty. In a manner, therefore, by adapting itself to parasitism, the louse has attained the ideal of capitalist civilization, though its methods are more direct than those of business or banking, and its source of nourishment is not its own species.

    "Thus, at any rate, arose the parasitic lice, - first, perhaps, the biting ones, the Mallophaga: the chicken louse, the goose louse, the slender duck louse, the pigeon louse, the turkey louse, the biting guinea-pig louse, the horse louse, to mention only a few [species, which live on] a diet of feathers, fur, and dandruff.

    "[Another type of parasitic louse, not content with such a dry, bare diet, arose from the first type, or evolved separately, to take up residence] on thin-skinned, warm-blooded animals. These lice discovered by an incomprehensible cleverness (or perhaps by an accidental scratch and an occurrence not unlike the discovery of roast pig by the Chinese) that under their feet ran an infinite supply of rich red food. They developed boring and sucking structures, and thus arose: the hog louse, the dog louse, the rat louse, the foot louse of the sheep, the cat louse, the short-nosed ox louse, the monkey louse, and the head, body and crab lice of man.

    "Interestingly, the similarity between the various monkey lice and those of man is so close that they can interchangeably feed on one or the other host without harm. We have ourselves fed two hundred Arabian head lice on an East Indian monkey for weeks at a time, with relatively low mortality. Such interchange of hosts is not usually possible. A louse fed on a foreign host, in most cases, suffers a probably painful and fatal ingestion...

    "The lice that infest each species of monkey in South and Central America, so far as known, fall into distinct species according to the hosts they infest, thus indicating to a certain degree a parallel evolutionary descent for both the host and the parasites that evolved with them and upon them [emphasis added - ED.]."


  • "The horrid truth is that each of us has about as many bacteria and yeasts on the surface of his or her skin as there are people on earth; far from being `clean' after a bath the number of organisms released from the surface actually goes up as they emerge from the nooks and skinny crannies where they multiply. It is time to take a new look at the back of our hands and to realize that our skins are a habitat which supports a whole flora and fauna of creatures that have evolved with us through millennia [including creatures larger than yeast and bacteria but smaller than can be seen with the naked eye, like the mites on all of us - ED.]. However hard we may wish to retreat from our animal origins we will not be able to escape our fellow travellers. [Emphasis added - ED.] The huge majority, numerically, are harmless or beneficial. But then the huge majority are also invisible and earn our indifference...There are over two million species of animals and plants. We are just one of those species, at the mercy of the smallest virus or bacterium."


  • "The need to evade parasites may have been the force driving some birds, fish, and mammals to become migratory or to spend part of every year in isolation from their potentially pest-ridden fellows...

    "The red spotted newt carries a parasite related to the agent of deadly African sleeping sickness in humans...However, at the time when the newt harboring a more virulent strain of the parasite might transmit it, the animals are spending months roaming alone through the woods, rather than congregating in ponds. Those newts carrying a malevolent parasite die off during their migrations, leaving only the newts with a mild strain of the parasite that return to the pond to mate...

    "Birds that fly each year from North to South America may be avoiding more than bad weather. During the nine months down south, the animals do not breed and are not particularly close to one another, limiting the chance for [tropical] pests to feather-hop...

    "When a female barn swallow has an adulterous encounter she invariably copulates with a male having a slightly longer and more symmetrical tail than that of her mate; the more sumptuous tail appears to be evidence that the male is resistant to parasites, a characteristic of broad appeal to the female. Not only may she help her young to gain the resistant trait, but, by avoiding infested partners, she limits her own exposure to bloodsucking parasites."


  • "Some religionists delight in ascribing to God the credit for having made apple trees in fields of green, under a blue sky. But where was his desire for beauty when he made tapeworms? Is there any justice in praising him for the beautiful, but keeping silent about the hideous? I think I would be embarrassed to have to admit that I believed in an `all-wise God' who had made tapeworms."


  • "Cupping my hand, I shoveled a bee-laden mass of water onto my pool deck. I assumed the bee would quickly dry and get airborne...but the bee hobbled and his left side appeared crippled...About this time I noticed a small black ant approaching at great speed, but in crazy, zigzagging ant-patterns, as though dodging gunfire. The ant ran past the bee, checked both flanks, then dashed headlong at the bee, grabbed an antenna, and pulled with such might that the vastly larger creature momentarily lost his footing...The bee yanked itself from the ant's grip and the ant ran away...Then two ants appeared and one charged the bee and flipped him...The bee quickly righted itself, but then a third ant appeared...a fourth, and then...entire platoons of ants loping madly across my deck, weaving in complex attack patterns. The bee went wild, twisting, rolling, bobbing, but he was besieged by dozens of creatures. They badgered his head, tugged at his wings, rocked him from side to side...They pulled and pushed him...toward a seam in the deck...and steered his head out over what must have seemed to them like a precipice, then shoved him off...the ants then dragged the bee back up the vertical wall, got him to the top, and pushed him back off a second time. It seemed like overkill, but that's how ants are - ruthless...By now the bee's tongue looked dried up. He stopped moving. The ants began the long haul home with the carcass...

    "Nature rewards behaviors (genes) that impede or destroy rivals. In other words, Nature isn't nice...

    "[On the other hand] It is not a profitable scheme to kill everything. Killers don't thrive. Adapters do."


  • "The evolutionary process is not at all a perfect one and many traits created by it are not even adaptive. It is precisely because of this that we suffer from such unadaptive traits as back pain, fallen arches, impacted wisdom teeth, varicose veins, appendicitis, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, Huntington's disease, schizophrenia, manic-depression, alcoholism, painful childbirth, and a host of other maladies which genetic evolution has created, but which natural selection has done nothing to eliminate.

    "Moreover, each evolutionary change tends to bring with it new forms of pain and suffering that had not existed before...

    "For example, sexuality is not absolutely superior to asexuality, and the evolution of the former has brought with it many forms of conflict and suffering that do not exist in organisms that reproduce without sex...

    "Sociality is not absolutely superior to solitary life, and its evolution has created new forms of competition and conflict that are less frequent, or even unknown among asocial animals...

    "Bipedalism [walking on two legs] is by no means absolutely superior to quadrupedalism [walking on four], and the evolution of a two-legged gait in Homo sapiens has brought with it countless adverse side effects...

    "Intelligence and behavioral flexibility are by no means absolutely superior to instinctive behavior, and their evolution had brought with it many forms of [intellectual angst and] emotional pain that are virtually unknown in the nonhuman world...

    "No animal has undergone more major changes during the course of its evolution than Homo Sapiens, and no animal has inherited a greater capacity for pain and suffering. With every evolutionary change we have sustained, we have discovered new ways to protect our genes and new ways to suffer for their benefit. With every passing generation, the aggregate price paid for their preservation has become dearer and dearer. And our genes - unlike us - remain blissfully ignorant of the staggering mass of suffering that has been endured for the sake of their perpetuation."


  • "He remembered the sense of loss and disgust and horror when he saw it: it swam upward wriggling heavily in a flail of heavy dying protest, through a thickened murk of greenish water, and he saw that to its brain was fastened some blind horror of the sea, a foul snake-like shape a foot or more in length, a headless, brainless mouth, a blind suck and sea-crawl, a mindless abomination, glued implacably, fastened in fatal suck in one small rim of bloody foam against the brain-cage of the great dying fish."


  • "What kind of God can one infer from [the study of nature]? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror. Millions of sperm and ova are produced that never unite to form a zygote. Of the millions of zygotes that are produced, only a few ever reach maturity. On current estimates, 95 percent of the DNA that an organism contains has no function.

    "Certain organic systems are marvels of engineering; others are little more than contraptions. When the eggs that cuckoos lay in the nests of other birds hatch, the cuckoo chick proceeds to push the eggs of its foster parents out of the nest. The queens of a particular species of parasitic ant have only one remarkable adaptation, a serrated appendage which they use to saw off the head of the host queen.

    "Whatever the God of natural history may be like, He is not the Protestant God of waste not, want not. He is also not a loving God who cares about His productions. He is not even the awful God portrayed in the Book of Job. The God of the Galapagos is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray."


  • "The same Institute for Creation Research publishing house that brought us Bomby the Bombardier Beetle has served (by one account) as distributor of another tract titled `God's Plan for Insects' - and for that matter another called `Unhappy Gays' - but I strongly doubt that either of those comes to grips with the phenomenon of `homosexual rape' among bedbugs. If X. maculipennis is another instance of God's wisdom made manifest in the works of creation, I suspect that the sort of god manifested is not the one that creation evangelists want."


  • "I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors,

    But I think that God's got a sick sense of humor,

    And when I die I expect to find Him laughing."


  • "Rachels [in his book, Created from Animals] presents brief and powerful arguments against natural theodicy [`natural theodicy' being the attempt to justify the ways of a good creator God in a world containing naturally painful and hideous aspects], rather discomfiting to those of us who have published articles on this subject (see Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 39:150-157)...

    "It was the amount, rather than the fact, of evil in the world that made Darwin reject God: `There seems to me too much misery in the world...' both human and nonhuman...(to what purpose all this suffering?)...

    "Rachels has done the best job I have seen of drawing Darwinian evolutionary principles to their ultimate moral conclusions. The results are objectionable to the Christian, but not as horrible as we might have feared. It does not lead, as some preachers warn, to totalitarianism and a complete devaluing of human life. Rachels' excellent book gives intelligent readers a chance to sharpen their minds and examine their beliefs."


  • "I've heard many preachers counsel their congregations not to be too concerned about the mysteries of life. They warn that the misfortune of the just (or worse, the good fortune of the unjust) should be accepted in faith, even if the purpose isn't understood. The same principle should apply to the mysteries of nature. Not understanding why God created us through evolution is no reason to sink into a morass of delusions that futilely deny modern science."


  • "If evolution were divinely guided, why didn't it take a lot less time? And why all the dog-eat-dog destruction along the way, the grim contest of the survival of the fittest?

    "Briefly, let me say that this is indeed a problem, but at least it is no new problem! Isn't it exactly the same challenge to faith when you look at the chaos of the world around you every day? If you say you believe God's in control, you have a lot of explaining to do! And yet we have come to feel we can live with that bafflement. The red randomness of evolution is simply more of the same. Get used to it."


  • "Many `Design theorists' believe in a Designer who separately created each `kind' of animal and plant and plopped them down at different points in geologic history. But this means that a vast multitude of animals and plants were created only to suffer pain and death over periods of millions of years and then have their species become extinct. `Designing' creatures for pain suffering and extinction, and then having to `design' some more for that same `purpose,' was repeated again and again, all before man appeared on the scene.

    "At least evolution `utilizes' the pain suffering and extinction of countless generations of creatures which are not `separately created,' but interrelated. So, no animal or plant is specially created just for extinction, but so that it may play a part in the ever branching struggle to change and occupy new niches and continue the survival of life in general.

    "Thus, evolution exhibits more of a purpose than the world of the `Design theorists' because evolution `makes the best it can' out of seemingly purposeless pain, death, extinction and competition - even if evolution's `best' is just `jury-rigged design' in a world of survivors who temporarily beat death more frequently than some of their cousins.

    "And I might add, isn't the purpose of religion similar to the purpose of evolution? Both propose to `make some purposeful sense' out of the seemingly purposeless pain death and competition in the world around us."


  • "On Thy wonderful works I will meditate...The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works...Thou dost open Thy hand, and dost satisfy the desire of every living thing." [By giving them living things to prey upon? But then how is the desire of every living thing satisfied? - ED.]

    "He will also hear their cry and will save them." [But if He "saves" them from being eaten by some creature, then He's starving that other creature. - ED.]

    PSALM 145:5,9,16,19

  • "He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens which cry."

    PSALM 147:9

  • "If the psalmists' god is responsible for `hearing the cries of animals and satisfying their desire,' then their god isn't doing a very good job of it. I recently read in a science magazine (Discover? Scientific American? Nature? Science News? Science? sometime in August, 1996) that a recent study showed that nearly 50% of the dead birds they examined in one province in England had died of starvation! Which isn't surprising, since birds have to eat from one quarter to one half their body weight daily. (I picked up a bird in my backyard this fall that couldn't fly and was hopping about slowly, and gave it to some local Wildlife Rescue people, who informed us that the bird was `starving to death.' They held up its wings and showed us its rib cage was sticking out. The bird was already too far gone and did not survive, even after being fed and cared for by the kindly Rescue folks.)

    The psalmists' god certainly doesn't `hear the cries' of any of the baby birds that the baby cuckoo tosses out of their nest so that only the cuckoo chick remains in the nest and is fed by the other bird's parents. Nor does such a god `hear the cries' of the baby birds that I saw on the "Hunting and Escaping" video (in the Trials of Life series) which were dragged from their nests by sea birds of a rival predatory species in order to feed the predator's own hungry chicks. Nor does such a god `hear the cry' of baby birds tossed out of the nest by their own parents (because they aren't developing properly or swiftly enough). Or who fall out of their nest simply because the nest itself was poorly constructed. (After we'd found a small baby dove running on the ground outside our house [not the same animal as the starving adult bird, mentioned above] the Wildlife Rescue people informed me that the nests of doves are constructed more poorly than the nests of most other birds, hence, their chicks are liable to fall out of them more often.)"


  • "If an animal dies because its competitors have beaten it to the food, it is just as dead as if it had died in battle; and its demise is not less definitive for having been bloodless. Animal conflict, in sum, whether subtle or overt is virtually universal...And some amount of reproductive competition [for mates and/or territory] is known to occur in all animal societies (with the possible exceptions of asexual clones and eusocial sisters)."


  • "Sometimes several hundred species of cichlid (pronounced SICK-lid) fish co-exist in the same lake, and each has evolved its own hunting method...One cichlid resembles a rotting fish and spends a lot of time floating as though dead; but when another fish approaches, thinking it has happened on an easy meal, the corpse springs to life and attacks the would-be scavenger...

    "Another has its head bent permanently to the left (and yet another has its head bent permanently to the right), an adaptation that enables them to scrape, with their teeth, a meal of scales off the side of a passing fish's body...

    "Another eats only the eyes of other cichlids...

    "Another exclusively sucks baby cichlids out of the protective mouths of their parents."


  • "I call myself a reverent agnostic because I am overwhelmed by the beauty and the wonder and the majesty and the order and the loveliness and all the wonderful things there are in the world.

    "At the same time I am appalled and overwhelmed by the suffering and death that is a part of life. When I think that at this moment a million creatures are being killed, at this moment. And now that the moment has passed, another million creatures are being killed, all the way down to the tiniest ameba, all the way up to a jungle cat leaping onto a gazelle, or a slaughterhouse a mile and a half from here, where, in order to keep the city of Toronto going we kill something like fifty thousand cattle every night. Fifty thousand die every night, so that this city might live.

    "The entire world is built on death. Nothing can live unless something dies. [Editor's note: That `something' includes either a plant being chewed up and digested, or an animal. Thus every animal except carrion eaters must kill some other living thing in order to continue it's own life. Even carrion eaters live on the remains of animals usually killed by some other animal or disease organism. And speaking of plants, some kill other plants, while a few even eat animals in order to live. Even animals that live solely on plants engage in competition for mates, food, and territory. Sometimes the competition is just an innocuous ritual. But in some species the competition is brutal and fierce, males injuring other males, and sometimes mortally wounding them. Brutal herbivores? You bet.] And most of the deaths in nature are full of pain. If you look at animals, most of them aren't dead when they're eaten. Big fish eat little fish, and on and on.

    "And, you can not look at the tragedies caused by earthquakes in Armenia, Mexico, the Philippines, without being similarly appalled and overwhelmed. Man has nothing to do with that. Man can not control earthquakes. Man can not control typhoons that sweep across poor people's countries. Man can not control the fact of northern Africa, where the weather changes, the ground dries up and these people just all starve to death, not to speak of the malnutrition and illnesses that follow.

    "And the horror of it all is, people say, `Why don't they go somewhere else?' They can't. They have no money, no means of transportation, and nowhere to go. They're doomed from the moment they were born by where they were born, just as people are doomed in places of the world by their color; or the fact that they were born syphilitic because their mother was sold into prostitution when she was ten years old.

    "You cannot look at this world and then say, whoever started it, he being omniscient, and knowing the future and the past and the present as one, would know all of this anger and hatred and murder and killing and death, and beauty and majesty and wonder, all of it is going to happen - to believe that he could be described by the word, `Father,' is just impossible. I couldn't treat my children the way he's treated his."


  • "I believe in Someone Out There - call Him God, since other names, like Festus or Darrin, do not seem to fit - but I am not entirely certain He is all that mindful of what goes on down here. Example: Recently a tornado destroyed a town in Texas and dropped a church roof on a batch of worshippers. One of the few things left standing were two plaster statues, one of Jesus, the other of Joseph. The townspeople, according to the news, `Looked at the statues' survival as a sign of God's love.'

    "Hold the phone. This sounds like the he-beats-me-because-he-loves-me line of thought. If the Lord in his infinite wisdom drops a concrete roof on the true believers but spares two hunks of modeling compound, it is time to question the big Fella's priorities. If I have to be made of plaster to command attention in this universe, something is amiss."


  • "There was a woman whom I'll call Mrs. Howard. She was a widow whose life revolved around her thirty-year-old son, Johnny Fred, who was physically deformed, his body twisted like a gnarled tree, he was mentally retarded and his speech was garbled. Every day Mrs. Howard parched and boiled peanuts and sacked them in brown paper bags. In turn, Johnny Fred would maneuver his convoluted body up and down Beulah Avenue, selling those peanuts to passersby.

    "One day she asked me, `Preacher, why did God let Johnny Fred be born the way he is?'

    "How could I say to this baffled mother, `God loves you. And this God of love has blessed you with a deformed, mentally deficient son who hobbles down Beulah Avenue selling peanuts while truck drivers frighten him by blasting their horns?'

    "I think I would have made some sense if I'd said, `Mrs. Howard, I don't know the answer to your question. Here you are a widow with a deformed son, living in a shack behind a gas station, supporting yourself and Johnny Fred on parched peanuts. Frankly, Mrs. Howard, I think you're eating chicken s---.' ("Eating chicken s---" is a Southern expression that means a person was experiencing undeserved and irrational troubles.)...

    "Repeatedly I met people who were hurting, experiencing a flood of irrational sorrow...As Tylertown's preacher I confronted a prevalence of pain among my people. My `coherence problem' has never gone away. I've never escaped from the shadowy side of life. I've seen children wasting away from leukemia. I've watched living bodies rot from lupus and cancer and cystic fibrosis. I've been with parents moments after a child has been killed by lightning. [Or, moments after a son or daughter has told their stunned fundamentalist Christian parents, "I'm gay!" - ED.] I've encountered people locked into deformed bodies, bodies twisted from birth - going through life in wheelchairs...And I've seen people existing into a senile and pointless old age, nature's final insult...Most of this human suffering - it seemed to me - was undeserved and served no purpose...

    "Sooner or later every person with eyes to see and ears to hear stumbles into what theologians call `the problem of evil.' If God is a heavenly father who loves his children, why does he give some of them chicken s--- to eat, sending them leukemia and twisted bodies and broken hearts and minds? Did not Jesus teach, `What man of you, if his son asks him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?'...

    "In the presence of such undeserved suffering I saw the point of Robert Frost's couplet:

    Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee,

    And I'll forget Thy great big one on me.

    "Why are some people brought into this world to hobble down Beulah Avenue in grotesquely-twisted bodies and to devote their life's energy to peddling peanuts? Christian thinkers tend to avoid questions like that. They leave the sad dimension of life to the Buddhas and Schopenhauers and Clarence Darrows and Mark Twains. But the tragic dimension of life will not go away. It causes us from a human viewpoint - the only viewpoint us humans have - to question the nature of God. So I was able, at least, to understand why a Tylertown Baptist said to me, `Preacher, the greatest fear I have is when I die and pass over to the other side I'll discover God is the bastard I've sometimes feared him to be.'"


  • "Somebody should have written a book in the Bible about boring, everyday life - the grind of routine. Like shopping, and the [cart or chariot - ED.] not working...Did [Jesus - ED.] ever have to stand in the `eight-items-or-less' line at the supermarket, watching a woman get out a check book and buy twenty-five items? [Did Jesus ever run out of toilet cloths with which to wipe his behind right after he had relieved himself? - ED.] It's the sheer trivialization of existence that drives out not merely religion, but all perception of the good and the beautiful and casts a kind of grey fog over life."


  • "Our forefathers (thanks to good King James)

    Talked funny, They had oddish names.

    They fell in love, succumbed to lust,

    And trampled strangers in the dust.

    They suffered flood and fire and drought.

    A few of them remained devout.

    Their lives were jolly, vapid, grim,

    According to Jehovah's whim.

    How little things have changed since then!

    Whose fault that is, God knows. Amen."


  • "Let's take violence off TV, off the movie screen, and out of our schools...

    And leave it in nature and the Bible, where it belongs!"


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