The Arrogance of “I Am Right, You Are Wrong” Thinking

Below is an article a church recently posted about former Pastor Jerry Dewitt’s deconversion from Christianity.  I am pasting the article–then inserting my comments in red as it goes:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Pentecostal preacher turned atheist Jerry DeWitt: How Could a former minister of God’s Word Change Into a Nonbeliever?    (My thought is, maybe he took his blinders off???)

 

When we read this article, regarding Jerry DeWitt, we feared for his soul, simply because he once knew the way (the typical Christian assumption that the Christian “way” is THE way and no one else’s “way” can possibly be right), but something must have happened in his life to make him think (my guess is what happened in his life is he stopped ignoring that little voice of reason inside that kept telling him belief & devotion to a genocidal child killer didn’t make sense) God does not exist.  Jerry DeWitt was a Pentecostal preacher for more than 25 years (Well, we all make mistakes in judgement, don’t we?), but eventually became a nonbeliever (like so many of us brainwashed who then finally snapped out of it).  He began ministry when he was 17 years old.  This story is very sad (actually I consider it a huge victory and a triumph–inspiring and very moving), because the Bible (a book of myths and magic very much akin to Harry Potter only instead of a childish, tantrum-prone god we have Voldemort–also very bigoted & having chosen people.  Oh, and Harry is rather the Jesus figure–he more or less dies, then comes back to save the day.  The only difference really is Harry throws away the Elderwand–having no desire to rule over others.) speaks about these sort of individuals (individuals?   We can’t call him a person now or a man?) who once knew the way (the way again.  How arrogant, this “way” of thinking!) but made a choice to turn away from God (that free-will thing Christians like to brag about.  Oh, except if you actually practice it, you get punished and thrown into hell forever). Jerry DeWitt reminds us (us?  Do you have multiple personality disorder?) a lot of Bishop Carlton Pearson, the only difference is Bishop Pearson claims to believe in God, but no Devil and no hell. (oh well, at least Bishop Carlton Pearson is on the right track toward using his brain).  Pearson is yet an unbeliever (how is he an unbeliever for just not believing in god’s creation Satan or god’s creation, hell?   I seem to recall when I was a Christian the only necessary criteria for being saved was belief in the divinity of Jesus and asking him into your heart?) and might as well join atheists in our opinion (and we won’t judge him like Christians do, or threaten him with hell forever for not believing exactly as we do, or tell him he’s an abomination for not believing in a book of fairy tales).  However, we must continue to pray (the Christian’s way of saying fuck you!) for not only Bishop Carlton Pearson, but also this man, Jerry DeWitt. (How patronizing can you get?)

We question any person whom once believed in God, but now is an atheist (I would question too.  I would ask myself, why so many people are starting to actually read the bible and see all those verses you try very hard to steer people away from reading.  Perhaps you should change your approach during your sermons or…rewrite the bible so as to remove all those nasty embarrassing verses about god ordering rape and slavery and the butchery of pregnant women that keep tripping people up?).  If something very bad should happen in Jerry DeWitt’s life, our question is, would he call on God?  (In extreme moments people don’t think rationally so it’s entirely possible he might revert to deeply ingrained supernatural thinking–and then feel embarrassed later that he did.)   We understand there are some backsliders whom once knew God who walked away, because they became bitter (no, that’s not it.  That’s only your assumption of what it is and your assumption is wrong) and felt God did not love them (no, it has more to do with the belief that there is no god and there never was a god and all this bullshit was only contrived to brainwash and rule over people and get their money and not having to pay property taxes) or because maybe God did not give them an answer (it’s really hard for imaginary beings to answer questions.  Santa has tried it, but he hasn’t had much luck either) to their problem or they did not receive a blessing they fasted and prayed for (very hard to receive blessings from Unicorns too, I’ve heard).   However, to not believe in God, after serving him for so long is very scary. (No, it’s called being born again–more born again than the Christian notion of that phrase.  It’s called being liberated from superstition-instilled fear of death, fear of never being good enough, fear of an eye in the sky judging your every mood and policing even your thoughts.)   Then, to invite others to follow your movement (Jerry Dewitt has not invited anyone to become an atheist–that’s what Christians do.  Only Christians go door to door and preach on street corners and try to shove their “way” down other people’s throats) as an atheist is even more scary and also dangerous (dangerous, how?  Oh, you mean that invisible make-believe supernatural being in the sky again?), because people are souls and they have some place to go at the end of their lives (and your proof or evidence of this is where, exactly?)   Here is another interesting question, how would Jerry DeWitt or any other former believer of Christ feel, if they should die and discover their mistake of becoming an atheists?  ( Implying a self-serving reason to be a Christian and love god–so you can go to heaven when you die!   Now that is a kind of love a supernatural being can really respect.  But then that’s what he commands, doesn’t he?  Love me or else burn in hell for ever!   Just what I want to do–love a tyrant and a bully who needs to threaten people to get them to love him.  Personally I would rather go to hell than spend one more minute worshipping a god that did what this monster did as described in the much-ignored (by Christians) Old Testament.)  there would be nothing they can do to save their souls, because God gave them a chance to believe (and this loving god punishes them with an infinite punishment for committing a finite crime!).   Saints, this is a very serious issue, (saints?   LOL!!!!) because after the various testimonies we shared with you on our videos page that revealed people who actually been to heaven and hell (isn’t it funny how, when Catholics die they see Mary, and when Muslims die they see Muhammad and when Christians die they see Jesus?  We never hear about a Muslim who sees Jesus or a Christian who sees Muhammad, no.  It’s always a vision exactly matching that person’s earthly beliefs, no matter what those beliefs are.  Hmmmm…)  , we know God is real.   Although, we cannot see Him, we as true followers of Jesus Christ can feel Him (speaking as a born again Christian for over 30 years I can say I “felt him” too and I can reproduce that feeling right now.  It’s a placebo effect.  Same thing happens to large crowds at rock concerts or football games), and also we know He is real, because of the blessings of being alive (that’s right.  Nature has nothing to do with it!).   Our hearts cannot pump alone (Lol!  Oh, really?  I’m starting to wonder if the author of this article even graduated from High School.)  We cannot wake up without God waking us up (LOL!   And you cannot think without god thinking for you or feel without god feeling for you or move your legs without god moving your legs for you!).   We cannot see, hear or feel things without God.  We cannot walk or move our limbs without God (you actually go on to say this yourselves?  LOL!  Puppets–actually bragging about having strings and a puppeteer controlling them!).   We cannot use our minds and think without God (well, this much IS true for many Christians, unfortunately.)  Those of us whom are born again Christians would not have never been blessed with the free gift of salvation, if Jesus Christ had not of died on the cross (actually I think it happened when Mithras, god’s only son, came into the world and was crucified, dying for our sins and was then resurrected.  Jesus was only a faded copy of Mithras) and took the ridicule.  God gave us a choice to serve His Son (which one again?), if we give up sin (what Christians call doing wrong as opposed to doing right, only “sin” implies consequences that happen in the imaginary world that you live in after this one.   Therefore, God is very real (hmm, maybe if you say it over and over enough it will be true?) and there ought to be nothing negative that happens in our lives to change our belief in Him.   (That’s right.  You want to only surround yourself with happy brainwashed Christians who never challenge your beliefs or pressure you to think on your own!) Yes, we go through pain and cannot understand why there maybe some people that have more than us and  many of us have faithfully been serving the Lord for a longtime, but we cannot risk losing our souls (and um, if you were born in Iran to Iranian parents, for example, would you be saying/believing these same things about Islam?) by making a choice to stop believing in Him.


In the meantime, we will pray that God gives Jerry DeWitt (so magnanimous of you–wow!) and others like him to turn around from atheism (you mean to turn off our brains and blindly believe and follow a god that approves slavery, genocide, infanticide, abortion, etc., etc., )before it is everlasting too late.   We have faith God will reveal to Him, He is real (again!  You keep saying this like you think saying this makes it fact) and loves him very much.   



There was once a true story about an atheist whom went out camping by himself and he fell asleep out in the wilderness and he told the Lord (why would an atheist talk to god?), He said, ‘God if you are real, when I wake up, if that rock is gone, I will believe in you.’  When the man woke up that rock was gone.  (Can you please provide the reference to this “true” story?  Or did it come from Reader’s Digest?) This should reveal to anyone, God exist and has always proved himself to be real (really?  When?  Oh, that’s right.  Before we started actually recording our history in written form).  Therefore, we will have faith for Jerry DeWitt to be proven wrong (yes, when you die and experience the permanent black out that happens after you die I’m sure you’ll have some way of knowing Jerry Dewitt was proven wrong) and return back into the family of God.  (of which I believe Satan belongs to too, doesn’t he?  After all, god made Satan and Satan has carried out all God’s wishes to the letter!)

Note: Since CNN.com did not have a video of Jerry DeWitt explaining why he is no longer a Pentecostal minister and now an atheist, we felt led by God not to post the various videos we found on You Tube.   


If you need God to come into your life, we invite you to go directly to our Salvation page (I have that in my bucket–it’s right up there with stabbing myself in the eye with a knitting needle).  God is real and proved His existence when He created each and every last one of us (actually I think there’s this little fact called evolution…  You know, science?   That thing that requires fact and reproduceable evidence to back it up before it can even call itself a theory).  When He formed the earth, He already had shown us, He is real (did you ever actually take grammar classes in school?).  The sun, moon and the stars cannot hold up in the sky (brilliant display of your knowledge of science here!) without the Lord who created them.   Day cannot turned to night and night cannot change to daytime without God (yes, the creator of all the universe with its billions of galaxies actually hovers above this planet and nudges the planets stars and cosmos to revolve around the earth all just for OUR benefit while he worries about gay people getting married and whether or not so and so will have an abortion.)   We would not have different seasons (this is so incredibly beyond absurd it’s making my brain lock up) and they cannot change without the Lord (says who again?  Oh, yes, the bible.  Written by anonymous men who claimed to have been inspired by god.  Sure, I’ll believe that…)  So, we invite you to make a choice to not only believe in Him, but make a wise (?????) decision and serve Him (and stop thinking for yourself and believe everything we say hook line and sinker and give us your tithe!) before it is everlasting too late.   If after you make a choice for Jesus to come into your life, you are going to have trials (very much like you had before you accepted Jesus, and in fact nothing really changes except that placebo effect I mentioned earlier.  That and the fact that you start thinking that little voice you hear in your head is GOD rather than your own inner dialogue that we all are simply born with!)  God never said our walk as His children would be easy (that’s true, and in fact, God never said anything really because he doesn’t exist), but it does not mean He is not real (actually it does) and it does not mean He does not love you (that’s why he’ll roast you slowly and eternally in hell if you aren’t convinced by us saying he is real over and over and over and over).   Many times, you will go through bad situations, but they happen to make you strong (because god didn’t make you strong enough to begin with, apparently) and so you will have a testimony when you come out.   If you want to be saved (saved from what–oh yes, saved from dying because human beings are so special that they should get to live forever!), you must (absolutely MUST!!!) visit our Salvation page and follow the steps there.  God bless you dear brothers and sisters and welcome to the family of God.

Unbelieving preachers get help to ‘come out’ as open atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN
 

(CNN) – Jerry DeWitt entered the ministry when he was 17, launching a 25-year career as a Pentecostal preacher. He traveled all around his home state of Louisiana, preaching and ministering wherever he could.

All these years later, DeWitt, 42, is still on the road, and now takes his message all over the United States. But the nature of that message, along with his audience, has changed dramatically.

DeWitt is now an avowed atheist, and his audiences are made up of religious “nones,” the growing number of Americans who are atheist, agnostic, humanist or just plain disinterested in identifying with a religion. Today, DeWitt preaches a gospel of disbelief.

During his speeches, he talks about the process of leaving his…Read full article, here.

Source and Photo Courtesy: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com

 

And Yes, Who We Pick As Mates = Natural Selection

As far as I know (and I’m going by my layman’s (or woman’s) understanding of things) three things cause / contribute to the process of evolution.  Natural selection, climate change and TIME.

Interracial marriage is not an example of evolution, it is an example of natural selection which, over time, contributes to changes to a species, and that process of change over time is called evolution.

A hundred years ago the percentage of people who had to wear corrective lenses was less.  The further back in time you go, very likely the less people you find with impaired vision.  Why?    Because visually impaired humans living more closely with nature are a lot more likely to become bear fodder and never reproduce.   Because before we invented our way to the top of the food-chain, we needed our senses a lot more to survive; our ability to hear, and see, and RUN.  So, just like it is still in nature, survival of the fittest.

Of course this doesn’t apply today.  People like myself who get laughed out of the building when we try to enlist in the Navy (for being too blind) still manage to cope quite well thanks to corrective lenses.  We hold down jobs, we raise children–who likely will also inherit our weak vision.  Over time we have more and more people needing corrective lenses because it no longer happens that the weak sighted humans are killed off by bears, or by accidentally falling off cliffs or, whatever perils our ancestors had to face who didn’t have the benefit of corrective lenses, seeing eye dogs or white canes.

This is an example of natural selection working against a species.  Because those of us with weak vision are able to live and procreate we are creating more visually impaired people.  Usually the opposite effect comes from natural selection.   Weaker traits do not get passed on because the individual with that weaker trait doesn’t get to survive.  Not in the natural world.  Anyone who knows anything about wolves or lions or any of the big predators knows–it is the sick or the aged or the weak that predators target and go after.  Why?  Because predators naturally do not want to have their rib cages kicked in or their skulls crushed, and the bigger stronger younger prey are more likely to cause serious harm–assuming they can catch them at all.

So natural selection, over time, does change a species.  If you go to Europe and check out the doorways of those cool old castles, I hear the doorways are very short.  Like….people over 5 feet tall have to stoop over to walk through them.  Why?   Because people were shorter back then.

Even in my lifetime…I was the tallest girl in my school growing up.  That was back in the day when there weren’t any professional women sports teams and girls were just beginning to have the same kind of physical education/fitness programs in schools as boys.   in the 30 years since I graduated I have seen more and more taller young women.  Girls that make me look short.   My guess is because women are finally “allowed” and even encouraged to use their bodies more–push themselves like boys to discover what they can do–they are getting stronger.   Or maybe it’s just that the human race is still just getting a little bigger with each passing generation.  This is evolution.  Environmental changes or natural selection over time causes species to adapt physically.  That changing process is evolution.  If human beings survived another million years (highly doubtful) or more, those humans of the future might look a lot different than we do now.   Especially as we replace what we used to do physically to survive, with machines to do it for us.

Another thing that creates change–diet.  In the horse example I gave in my previous blog, what I copied for that from Wikipedia describes how horses teeth changed as the horse’s diet changed.

If only brown haired, brown eyed people were allowed to have children, eventually blue or green eyed people would disappear–with maybe the occasional throw back now and then.  If interracial marriage became more and more accepted and popular, over time it is very possible the races now existing on this planet might be effected.  There might not be white people one day.  Because the more interracial couplings that happen, the more mixing of the races occurs, over a short amount of time, like 50 years or 100 years or 200 years, the face of humanity will change.  If all tall people were forbidden to procreate and only short people had children, the human race would likely start to get shorter again.

If the climate changes and the sun becomes more intense, again, white people might find it harder to survive than people with more pigment in their skin.  This would be a case where environment change is reshaping a species.   If the gravity on this planet were to change and become stronger…very likely many species would die out altogether, while other species might have a few individuals with stronger thicker bones, survive.  Those individuals with the stockier bone structure would mate with other individuals with stockier bone structure and that species would slowly adapt more and more to the new gravity, producing stockier offspring–and any offspring born without the thicker bone structure would die and not pro-create, until one day a stockier thicker boned version would exist, completely replacing the lighter framed earlier version of that same species that could not survive.

This is evolution or what causes evolution, as I understand it.  When you have the conditions of survival change and the life in that environment must adapt to the changes or die.

Another example–river dolphins.  Copied from Wikipedia:

Differences between marine and river dolphins

Both river dolphins and marine dolphins belong to a group of mammals called cetaceans, but they differ somewhat in appearance. For example, the snout of a river dolphin measures about 58 centimeters (2 ft) long, approximately four times as long as that of most marine dolphins. River dolphins have smaller eyes than marine dolphins, and their vision is poorly developed because they live in dark, muddy water. This environment also makes river dolphins less active than marine dolphins. River dolphins feed primarily on fish.[1

 
So….dolphins who do not use their vision very much because their environment doesn’t let them see, develop smaller eyes and weaker eye sight than dolphins in clear water who need and use their vision to survive.   Two examples of marine mammals very different from each other because of their environment.  And yet, both are dolphins.

Another example of animals who have adapted to suit their environment–Siberian tigers.  Gorgeous cats.  The largest of the big cats.  He has feet the size of platters–great big huge feet, why?  Because he travels on snow–needs to be able to run on snow.  So his feet have adapted.  Where humans have to wear snow shoes to walk on snow, the Siberian Tiger has his larger paws to achieve the same result.

An interesting animal to watch is the polar bear.  Either he will become extinct in the next 50 years, or he will adapt to his radically changing environment.  If he adapts he will physically change.   His diet will have to change.  How he gets fresh water to survive will have to change.  How well he can endure warmer temperatures will have to change.  If he can’t adapt fast enough, he will die and there will no longer be polar bears.

But there will be other bears.

Just like once upon a time there were Neanderthals and now there are not, while other species of humans who lived alongside Neanderthals did not die but endured.  Neanderthals didn’t become us…but they did leave their genetic signature behind and contributed to what has made humans what we are today.

I don’t know how to end this.  I hope this makes some kind of point. I guess what I’m trying to describe is, the ingredient Creationists don’t want to take into account is time.  Creationists are used to thinking a deity said “let there be–” and there it suddenly was.  They apply that same kind of thinking to evolution.  They think one species just suddenly becomes something else. That’s not how it happens.  It takes time–millions of years.   Over time creatures that looked rather like wolves started hunting more and more in the water, started feeding more on fish than prey animals on land.  Over time these animals adapted to hunting in water, and came out onto dry land less and less.  Over time these animals developed limbs more like paddles instead of legs, and longer leaner bodies to make them cut through the water more swiftly.   And over a really long period of time these animals became cetaceans–dolphins, Orcas, whales.  Warm blooded mammals that live like fish in the sea.

Given enough time, a species will adapt itself to its changing environment.   Because if it doesn’t, or if the change happens too soon, it goes the other route.  It becomes extinct.  Or changes to the point that it hits a roadblock and cannot change or adapt anymore, which is what they guess happened to the Neanderthal.

Evolution. One thing does NOT turn into another!

This is in response to a few rather absurd notes i received in response to a prior blog.

Dogs will always be dogs no matter how much cross breeding or selective breeding humans put them through.

Very true.

Just like Epihippus who lived 47 million years ago was as much a horse as thoroughbreds racing around tracks today. 


Do we see Epihippus walking around?   No we do not.  Because the habitat changed and Epihippus changed.  Over time he got bigger, he got stronger teeth, more specialized at eating grass instead of leaves…his middle toe got stronger as he learned to walk on it more and eventually his other toes weren’t used as much…they grew weaker and one day horses just didn’t have any extra toes anymore–just the hard crusty nail (or chestnut) we can still find half-way up modern horses cannon bones today.

What some Creationists with blinders don’t get, and don’t want to get.  Humans did not come from apes.  We are simply of the same family as apes. Because there are still apes around today just as there are humans around today. Does one sibling become another? They are our siblings…our cousins. The most similar to us genetically. We are the same with them (primates) like lions and tigers are the same (felines). WE were never THEM. They never morphed into us.

I understood this concept even when I was a Christian…a child! Being a Christian should not excuse being ignorant. How difficult is this concept really???

Are there Epihippus still around today?  No, because between Epihippus and the modern day horse there was a series of horses adapting from a creature about the size of a fox to a creature approx 14 hands tall, or the size of a large modern day pony.  These later forms of horse replaced the earlier forms because the earlier forms died out–were not able to continue to live in their changing environment.  So today we see the horse, but we do not see the earlier forms of HORSE that were replaced.

This same thing happened with human beings.  Apes did not become humans.  Apes are still here and have been here for a very long time.  There were other species of primates (which humans are) that are not walking around now because they too adapted to their changing environment and changed and replaced the earlier versions no longer able to survive.  Our ancestors have long since disappeared from the earth, just as the apes ancestors have long since disappeared from the earth.  We are all primates however, so a very long time ago, apes and humans did have the same ancestor.  We are cousins to apes.  We are apes ourselves of a different kind, classified as great apes, actually.  but we are not gorillas like we see gorillas today.  We are not chimpanzees either.   We are human beings.  We have always been human beings and we will always be human beings.

I really wish Creationists would get it.

Another modern day example of evolution:   records–vinyl–45’s, etc….then 8 track tape players…then reel to reel players…then cassette players…then CD players…then DVD players…then digital.   Do we still see 8 track tape players around today?  Do we see very many cassette players around today?  Did these things suddenly turn into something else?  Or were they REPLACED by a newer better more adaptable technology?  This too is evolution in the modern world.  There are lots of examples of evolution at work all around us.  But where are there any examples of Creationism in the modern world?  There are none.

Copied from Wikipedia:

Epihippus

In the mid-Eocene, about 47 million years ago, Epihippus, a genus which continued the evolutionary trend of increasingly efficient grinding teeth, evolved from Orohippus. Epihippus had five grinding, low-crowned cheek teeth with well-formed crests. A late species of Epihippus, sometimes referred to as Duchesnehippus intermedius, had teeth similar to Oligocene equids, although slightly less developed. Whether Duchesnehippus was a subgenus of Epihippus or a distinct genus is disputed.[citation needed]

Mesohippus

In the late Eocene and the early stages of the Oligocene epoch (32–24 mya), the climate of North America became drier, and the earliest grasses began to evolve. The forests were yielding to flatlands,[citation needed] home to grasses and various kinds of brush. In a few areas, these plains were covered in sand,[citation needed] creating the type of environment resembling the present-day prairies.

In response to the changing environment, the then-living species of Equidae also began to change. In the late Eocene, they began developing tougher teeth and becoming slightly larger and leggier, allowing for faster running speeds in open areas, and thus for evading predators in nonwooded areas[citation needed]. About 40 mya, Mesohippus (“middle horse”) suddenly developed in response to strong new selective pressures to adapt, beginning with the species Mesohippus celer and soon followed by Mesohippus westoni.

In the early Oligocene, Mesohippus was one of the more widespread mammals in North America. It walked on three toes on each of its front and hind feet (the first and fifth toes remained, but were small and not used in walking). The third toe was stronger than the outer ones, and thus more weighted; the fourth front toe was diminished to a vestigial nub. Judging by its longer and slimmer limbs, Mesohippus was an agile animal.

Mesohippus was slightly larger than Epihippus, about 610 mm (24″) at the shoulder. Its back was less arched, and its face, snout, and neck were somewhat longer. It had significantly larger cerebral hemispheres, and had a small, shallow depression on its skull called a fossa, which in modern horses is quite detailed. The fossa serves as a useful marker for identifying an equine fossil’s species. Mesohippus had six grinding “cheek teeth”, with a single premolar in front—a trait all descendant Equidae would retain. Mesohippus also had the sharp tooth crests of Epihippus, improving its ability to grind down tough vegetation.

[edit] Miohippus

Around 36 million years ago, soon after the development of Mesohippus, Miohippus (“lesser horse”) emerged, the earliest species being Miohippus assiniboiensis. Like Mesohippus, Miohippus‘s evolution was relatively abrupt, though a few transitional fossils linking the two genera have been found. Mesohippus was once believed to have anagenetically evolved into Miohippus by a gradual series of progressions, but new evidence has shown its evolution was cladogenetic: a Miohippus population split off from the main Mesohippus genus, coexisted with Mesohippus for around four million years, and then over time came to replace Mesohippus.[16]

Miohippus was significantly larger than its predecessors, and its ankle joints had subtly changed. Its facial fossa was larger and deeper, and it also began to show a variable extra crest in its upper cheek teeth, a trait that became a characteristic feature of equine teeth.

Miohippus ushered in a major new period of diversification in Equidae.[14] While Mesohippus died out in the mid-Oligocene, Miohippus continued to thrive, and in the early Miocene (24–5.3 mya), it began to rapidly diversify and speciate. It branched out into two major groups, one of which adjusted to the life in forests once again, while the other remained suited to life on the prairies.[citation needed]

[edit] Miocene and Pliocene: true equines

[edit] Kalobatippus

The forest-suited form was Kalobatippus (or Miohippus intermedius, depending on whether it was a new genus or species), whose second and fourth front toes were long, well-suited travel on the soft forest floors. Kalobatippus probably gave rise to Anchitherium, which travelled to Asia via the Bering Strait land bridge, and from there to Europe.[17] In both North America and Eurasia, larger-bodied genera evolved from Anchitherium: Sinohippus in Eurasia and Hypohippus and Megahippus in North America.[18] Hypohippus became extinct by the late Miocene.[19]

[edit] Parahippus

The Miohippus population that remained on the steppes is believed to be ancestral to Parahippus, a North American animal about the size of a small pony, with a prolonged skull and a facial structure resembling the horses of today. Its third toe was stronger and larger, and carried the main weight of the body. Its four premolars resembled the molar teeth and the first were small and almost nonexistent. The incisive teeth of Parahippus, like those of its predecessors, had a crown as humans do; however, the top incisors had a trace of a shallow crease marking the beginning of the core/cup.

[edit] Merychippus

Merychippus, an effective grazer and runner

In the middle of the Miocene epoch, the grazer Merychippus flourished. It had wider molars than its predecessors, which are believed to have been used for crunching the hard grasses of the steppes. The hind legs, which were relatively short, had side toes equipped with small hooves, but they probably only touched the ground when running.[14] Merychippus radiated into at least 19 additional grassland species.

[edit] Hipparion

Protohippus simus

Three lineages within Equidae are believed to be descended from the numerous varieties of Merychippus: Hipparion, Protohippus and Pliohippus. The most different from Merychippus was Hipparion, mainly in the structure of tooth enamel: in comparison with other Equidae, the inside, or tongue side, had a completely isolated parapet. A complete and well-preserved skeleton of the North American Hipparion shows an animal the size of a small pony. They were very slim, rather like antelopes, and were adapted to life on dry prairies. On its slim legs, Hipparion had three toes equipped with small hooves, but the side toes did not touch the ground.

In North America, Hipparion and its relatives (Cormohipparion, Nannippus, Neohipparion, and Pseudhipparion), proliferated into many kinds of equids, at least one of which managed to migrate to Asia and Europe during the Miocene epoch.[20] (European Hipparion differs from American Hipparion in its smaller body size – the best-known discovery of these fossils was near Athens.)

[edit] Pliohippus

Pliohippus pernix

Pliohippus arose from Callippus in the middle Miocene, around 12 mya. It was very similar in appearance to Equus, though it had two long extra toes on both sides of the hoof, externally barely visible as callused stubs. The long and slim limbs of Pliohippus reveal a quick-footed steppe animal.

Until recently, Pliohippus was believed to be the ancestor of present-day horses because of its many anatomical similarities. However, though Pliohippus was clearly a close relative of Equus, its skull had deep facial fossae, whereas Equus had no fossae at all. Additionally, its teeth were strongly curved, unlike the very straight teeth of modern horses. Consequently, it is unlikely to be the ancestor of the modern horse; instead, it is a likely candidate for the ancestor of Astrohippus.[21]

[edit] Dinohippus

Dinohippus was the most common species of Equidae in North America during the late Pliocene. It was originally thought to be monodactyl, but a 1981 fossil find in Nebraska shows some were tridactyl.

[edit] Plesippus

Mounted skeleton of Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens)

Plesippus is often considered an intermediate stage between Dinohippus and the extant genus, Equus.

The famous fossils found near Hagerman, Idaho were originally thought to be a part of the genus Plesippus. Hagerman Fossil Beds (Idaho) is a Pliocene site, dating to about 3.5 mya. The fossilized remains were originally called Plesippus shoshonensis, but further study by paleontologists determined the fossils represented the oldest remains of the genus Equus.[22] Their estimated average weight was 425 kg, roughly the size of an Arabian horse.

At the end of the Pliocene, the climate in North America began to cool significantly and most of the animals were forced to move south. One population of Plesippus moved across the Bering land bridge into Eurasia around 2.5 mya.[23]

[edit] Modern horses

[edit] Equus

Skull of a giant extinct horse of the genus Equus, E. eisenmannae

The genus Equus, which includes all extant equines, is believed to have evolved from Dinohippus, via the intermediate form Plesippus. One of the oldest species is Equus simplicidens, described as zebra-like with a donkey-shaped head. The oldest material to date is ~3.5 million years old from Idaho, USA. The genus appears to have spread quickly into the Old World, with the similarly aged Equus livenzovensis documented from western Europe and Russia.[24]

Molecular phylogenies indicate the most recent common ancestor of all modern equids (members of the genus Equus) lived ~5.6 (3.9-7.8) mya. The oldest divergencies are the Asian hemiones (subgenus E. (Asinus)), including the kulan, onager, and kiang), followed by the African zebras (subgenera E. (Dolichohippus), and E. (Hippotigris)). All other modern forms including the domesticated horse (and many fossil Pliocene and Pleistocene forms) belong to the subgenus E. (Equus) which diverged ~4.8 (3.2-6.5) million years ago.[25]

Pleistocene horse fossils have been assigned to a multitude of species, with over 50 species of equines described from the Pleistocene of North America alone, although the taxonomic validity of most of these has been called into question.[26] Recent genetic work on fossils has found evidence for only three genetically divergent equid lineages in Pleistocene North and South America.[25] These results suggest all North American fossils of caballine-type horses (which also include the domesticated horse and Przewalski’s horse of Europe and Asia), as well as South American fossils traditionally placed in the subgenus E. (Amerhippus)[27] belong to the same species: E. ferus. Remains attributed to a variety of species and lumped as New World stilt-legged horses (including E. francisci, E. tau, E. quinni and potentially North American Pleistocene fossils previously attributed to E. cf. hemiones, and E. (Asinus) cf. kiang) likely all belong to a second species endemic to North America, which despite a superficial resemblance to species in the subgenus E. (Asinus) (and hence occasionally referred to as North American ass) is closely related to E. ferus.[25] Surprisingly, the third species, endemic to South America, and traditionally referred to as Hippidion, originally believed to be descended from Pliohippus, was shown to be a third species in the genus Equus, closely related to the New World stilt-legged horse.[25] The temporal and regional variation in body size and morphological features within each lineage indicates extraordinary intraspecific plasticity. Such environment-driven adaptative changes would explain why the taxonomic diversity of Pleistocene equids has been overestimated on morphoanatomical grounds.[27]

According to these results, it appears the genus Equus evolved from a Dinohippus-like ancestor ~4-7 mya. It rapidly spread into the Old World and there diversified into the various species of asses and zebras. A North American lineage of the subgenus E. (Equus) evolved into the New World stilt-legged horse (NWSLH). Subsequently, populations of this species entered South America as part of the Great American Interchange shortly after the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, and evolved into the form currently referred to as “Hippidion” ~2.5 million years ago. Hippidion is thus unrelated to the morphologically similar Pliohippus, which presumably went extinct during the Miocene. Both the NWSLH and Hippidium show adaptations to dry, barren ground, whereas the shortened legs of Hippidion may have been a response to sloped terrain.[27] In contrast, the geographic origin of the closely related modern E. ferus is not resolved. However, genetic results on extant and fossil material of Pleistocene age indicate two clades, potentially subspecies, one of which had a holarctic distribution spanning from Europe through Asia and across North America and would become the founding stock of the modern domesticated horse.[28][29] The other population appears to have been restricted to North America. One or more North American populations of E. ferus entered South America ~1.0-1.5 million years ago, leading to the forms currently known as “E. (Amerhippus)“, which represent an extinct geographic variant or race of E. ferus, however.

[edit] Pleistocene extinctions

Digs in western Canada have unearthed clear evidence horses existed in North America until about 12,000 years ago.[30] However, all Equidae in North America ultimately became extinct. The causes of this extinction (simultaneous with the extinctions of a variety of other American megafauna) have been a matter of debate. Given the suddenness of the event and because these mammals had been flourishing for millions of years previously, something quite unusual must have happened. The first main hypothesis attributes extinction to climate change. For example, in Alaska, beginning approximately 12,500 years ago, the grasses characteristic of a steppe ecosystem gave way to shrub tundra, which was covered with unpalatable plants.[31][32] The other hypothesis suggests extinction was linked to overexploitation of naive prey by newly arrived humans. The extinctions were roughly simultaneous with the end of the most recent glacial advance and the appearance of the big game-hunting Clovis culture.[33][34] Several studies have indicated humans probably arrived in Alaska at the same time or shortly before the local extinction of horses.[34][35][36] Additionally, it has been proposed that the steppe-tundra vegetation transition in Beringia may have been a consequence, rather than a cause, of the extinction of megafaunal grazers.[37]

In Eurasia, horse fossils began occurring frequently again in archaeological sites in Kazakhstan and the southern Ukraine about 6,000 years ago.[28] From then on, domesticated horses, as well as the knowledge of capturing, taming, and rearing horses, probably spread relatively quickly, with wild mares from several wild populations being incorporated en route.[29]

[edit] Return to the Americas

Horses only returned to the Americas with Christopher Columbus in 1493. These were Iberian horses first brought to Hispaniola and later to Panama, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and, in 1538, Florida.[38] The first horses to return to the main continent were 16 specifically identified horses brought by Hernan Cortes. Subsequent explorers, such as Coronado and De Soto brought ever-larger numbers, some from Spain and other from breeding establishments set up by the Spanish in the Caribbean. Later, as Spanish missions were founded on the mainland, horses would eventually be lost or stolen, and proliferated into large herds of feral horses that became known as mustangs.[citation needed]

The indigenous peoples of the Americas did not have a specific word for horses, and came to refer to them in various languages as a type of dog or deer (in one case, “elk-dog”).[citation needed]

[edit] Details

[edit] Toes

The ancestors of the horse came to walk only on the end of the third toe and both side toes. Skeletal remnants show obvious wear on the back of both sides of metacarpal and metatarsal bones, commonly called the “splint bones”. They are the remnants of the second and the fourth toe. Modern horses retain the splint bones; they are often believed to be useless attachments, but they in fact play an important role in supporting the carpal joints (front knees) and even the tarsal joints (hocks).

[edit] Teeth

Throughout the phylogenetic development, the teeth of the horse underwent significant changes. The type of the original omnivorous teeth with short, “bumpy” molars, with which the prime members of the evolutionary line distinguished themselves, gradually changed into the teeth common to herbivorous mammals. They became long (as much as 100 mm), roughly cubical molars equipped with flat grinding surfaces. In conjunction with the teeth, during the horse’s evolution, the elongation of the facial part of the skull is apparent, and can also be observed in the backward-set eyeholes. In addition, the relatively short neck of the equine ancestors became longer, with equal elongation of the legs. Finally, the size of the body grew as well.

What Is Atheist?

I say Atheist, rather than AN Atheist, because really, it shouldn’t be used like a title.   It is a state of being, not someone’s identity.   Someone can say they are a Christian–they’re describing a portion of their identity. People who are Christian see themselves differently than they were before.   Or at least I think.  Atheists are merely people who either never believed, because there is no evidence at all for any of it, or people like myself who did believe, until they started acknowledging, rather than ignoring those pesky mental questions, and then at that moment they ceased believing.  In that respect they have not so much changed but rather have returned to what they originally were, what nature intended them to be, as innocent and good in spirit as the family dog, cat, or horse is.   Because sin is a human invention, created to make belief in religion necessary.

Atheists should not be asked to prove there is no god, and yet we frequently are.  It follows that the one making the extraordinary claim that a supernatural being is responsible for what nature herself could and did manage all on her own quite handily, should be the one required to produce proof.  Ok, so show me something that isn’t explained by nature.  Something that could only be brought about by a super-intelligence in the universe.   A miraculous healing of a terminal cancer patient?  That 1% that wasn’t supposed to get better that did?  Should we praise god for his healing and call it a miracle, and ignore the other 99% of the terminal cancer patients who did not receive that miracle?   And why did they not?  Were they not saved because they had no special purpose in the world?  Or perhaps they didn’t pray enough?

Incidentally, I’ve always wondered: why hasn’t god ever healed any amputees?   You know, restored their missing limb?  Did those amputees not pray for it hard enough?   Not even those amputees who were Christian? Can’t this god do anything? Ok so it was not part of his master plan…ever? Not one amputee restored? Is it just me thinking this is odd?

See, I believe Atheists see that miraculous healing event that occurred for that terminal cancer patient, and they think, wow, what a great doctor he had for trying out that new approach or that combination of treatments instead of the conventional radiation treatments. Or I might think, so and so was sure lucky to have a friend who kept him laughing so much all the time.   Or I might thank the fact that he has a parent who survived cancer and inherited from that parent some special resilience.  Or I might thank the new drug that just became available in the US that has worked so well in Europe.  There are all kinds of forces at work, including that sick person’s strength of will, when a serious illness is overcome.  I give the credit to where I feel it belongs, not to some supernatural whatever in the sky.

Same is true for newborn babies and sunsets and falling stars and natural disasters that wipe out communities of people who just happen to not be Christians.  I don’t see any god’s hand in it.  I see nature at work.   And as for evolution, one need only to look at the perfectly great example of it we have all around us.  Technology, our creation, has gone through one evolutionary stage after the next, even just in my lifetime.   “Natural selection” has happened artificially with the 8-Track cassette player being replaced by the CD being replaced by the DVD being replaced by digital, etc. etc.   Is this not natural selection (with humans changing their own environment to make it necessary) causing the extinction of the older less adaptable technology and the rising in its place of something new?  Same thing happens in nature.  We can artificially produce it by selectively breeding dogs and cats or chickens or horses too–breeding only for what traits we want to keep, letting the bad traits in those animals die out because we deem them undesirable.

Anyway, just felt like writing this morning.   I hope some of this made some kind of sense.