Gentiles = “Dogs” To Jesus

An excellent article I found I think every Christian should read.

https://www.facebook.com/diane.fadden?ref=tn_tnmn#!/notes/the-thinking-atheist/lies-damned-lies-and-the-claim-jesus-would-have-loved-you/470499726313342

Page admin and guest blogger Meg put together a perspective on the beloved Christian “savior” that many haven’t yet heard.  This is her article, entitled:

 

Lies, Damned Lies, And The Claim Jesus Would Have Loved You

Jesus did not want you in his club. Unless you were a Jew, Jesus thought you were a filthy animal. Yes, even if you are Christian. It is all in the Bible.

Unless you spend much time on The Thinking Atheist Facebook page where you might have already seen me discuss this topic, the above statement regarding Jesus is likely surprising even to you as a nonbeliever. To put the issues aside, we will first clarify a couple of the obvious questions before examining what the Bible says on the subject, questions such as:  How could Christianity become the dominate faith of the world if Jesus would have detested nearly every one of his followers? And how could it not be common knowledge that Jesus held such views? And why is an atheist interested in what the Bible says, much less making the effort to tell others about it?

Prior to the Reformation when Protestants began translating Bibles and thus undermined the efforts of the Church, for the first 1,550 years or so of the Christian faith, the Church went to extreme lengths to ensure the average person could not read the texts of the Bible themselves and were forced to rely on Church clergy.

It was not only a crime to translate the Bible from Latin into common languages, it was a crime to even possess a translation of the Bible or to print a Bible in Latin without a license granted by Church authorities, and the Church took the matter seriously.

Not satisfied by his death, the Church had the body of a man who dared to translate the Bible into English, John Wycliffe, dug out of his grave 74 years after his initial burial. Church officials then burned what was left of Wycliffe’s body, dumped his ashes in a river, and decreed the same fate for any of his remaining followers. While that sounds petty to us, the Church had Christians convinced they required their physical bodies for the Second Coming, so no body meant no eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven for you, a fate far worse than death to their minds.

The few people with the means to obtain an education and become functionally literate generally did not speak Latin, but rather their native tongue, so even the educated were prevented from reading the Bible. With the exception of a few members of the French nobility who had partial texts in their own language, those who could both read Latin and had access to the Biblical texts were typically members of the clergy. Obviously, telling followers what the Bible actually said would have put early Christian leaders and their predecessors out of a job — a job that gave the clergy enormous privilege and power over the illiterate masses.

Contemporary Christians, at least those who actually bother to read their Bible, are aware of the verses we are going to review. What they lack is knowledge on Judaism, the traditional views and culture of the Middle East, and the history behind the writing of the New Testament, knowledge that the Biblical authors and early Church leaders would have taken for granted. Reading the Bible through the filter of a modern mind gives a skewed impression of what the texts intend to communicate.

To read the Bible and truly understand it, you have to keep in mind that Jesus was a Jew of the ancient world, not a modern Christian. And you must read the Bible in context. Not only the verses of the Bible, which must be read in their entire chapter to grasp the actual meaning, but also read in the context of the culture and time in which a particular text was written.

Due to the rise of Christianity, in which, as we have just explored, lack of public education played a tremendous role, humanity has suffered through nearly 2,000 years of innocent lives being destroyed and there is still no end in sight.

2,000 years of witch burnings, Crusades, the subjugation of women, the persecution of homosexuals, genocide, families and societies being torn apart, superstition being taught as truth, and hard-won factual knowledge being sacrificed on the altar of the God of tiny minds.

What people believe informs their actions, such as how they vote and how they treat others. Those who long for the end of the world so they can live on a cloud in the sky, who believe women are lesser beings, who believe being homosexual is unnatural, who believe “The Flintstones” was a documentary series, and people who are willing to throw their fellow human beings, even their own family members, under the bus to score points with a nonexistent deity tend to vote differently than those of us who do not believe those things. It matters what others believe; it affects each and every one of us who lives in a democratic society.  

Education is key to the future well-being of humanity. And we know for a fact that education works, because like the overwhelming majority of those in the TTA community including its driving force, TTA Founder Seth Andrews, I am a former Christian.

So, for those of you plagued by friends and family who insist Jesus loves you, we are going to provide information useful in educating those around you, in this case to explain to them how Jesus felt about non-Jews.   The following is written to address Christian believers.

In the culture in which Jesus lived, the ultimate insult was to call someone a dog. One of dozens of disparaging verses in the Bible which mentions dogs is Job 30:1, which says, “But now those younger than I mock me, whose fathers I disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.”

That verse is described as the following in “Barnes’ Notes on the Bible”:  “To have set with the dogs of my flock – To have associated with my dogs in guarding my flock. That is, they were held in less esteem than his dogs. This was the lowest conceivable point of debasement. The Orientals (a European term for those from the Middle East) had no language that would express greater contempt of anyone than to call him a dog.”  

In Matthew 7:6 Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; do not cast your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

Jesus is not talking about dogs in the sense of the animal; he is using the term to refer to human beings. In that verse, Jesus is saying to not give what is holy to contemptible, repugnant people.

Of course, that is only one example of Jesus using a particular word or phrase to represent other people or himself. In the Bible, Jesus refers to himself as bread, for example by saying he is the bread of life (John 6:25-59) and to eat bread as his body (Matthew 26:26). And Jesus also used a number of phrases, which he took from the Tanakh (also called the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament) to refer to his fellow Jews, such as the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24), the children of Israel, etc.

You’re not a Jew? Then you are not a child of Israel.

For the Jesus fans reading this, Gentiles means “white people” and all other non-Jews.  You’re not a Jew? Then you are a Gentile.  So what did Jesus have to say about a Gentile like you?

  • Matthew 10:5 “Go not into the way of the Gentiles”
  • Matthew 15:24 “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
  • John 4:22 “Salvation is of the Jews.”

In Matthew 15:21-28 (and in Mark 7:25-30) Jesus is in Gentile territory when a distraught mother approaches Jesus and begs him to help her daughter.  Jesus ignores the mother, and his disciples (also all Jews, naturally) complain, “Jesus, that woman is getting on our nerves. Get rid of her.”  

The Gentile woman persists, begging Jesus to heal her sick child. Jesus eventually responds by insulting the woman for being a Gentile. But rather than getting angry, the Gentile woman uses his slur to talk Jesus into healing her daughter.

21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

 Jesus turned his back on this mother’s child while his disciples complained the woman was being a pain in the ass. It is not until the mother begs and grovels at his feet after being called the most rotten term of contempt possible is his language that Jesus finally caves in and helps the woman’s poor daughter.

In neither version of the story, which appears in both the gospels of Mark and of Matthew, does Jesus even touch the daughter. Perhaps the daughter was menstruating and was “dirty” according to the religion of Jesus, Judaism? Or perhaps the fact she was a filthy dog was bad enough?

And amazingly, after all that, Jesus making it clear he and his disciples had nothing to do with the Gentiles and Jesus slinging the most degrading, hateful insult of his culture at us non-Jews, Christians will read that and say, “yeah, but he did heal the child.”

That’s nice. Is that how you would react if you came across a wounded little kitten that needed your help? Refuse to do anything until someone managed to beg and grovel at your feet until you relented? How would you honestly feel if you saw a doctor refuse to render help because a child was outside his ethnic or religious group until the child’s mother fed the doctor’s bigoted superiority complex?

The only reason you’re a Christian as a non-Jew is that Paul and Luke, who were close friends with each other and not part of the disciple gang, took it upon them to spread their own altered version of the message of Jesus. Paul and Luke never even met Jesus. It was Paul and Luke, along with forged letters attributed to Peter [1][2][3], who changed the message of Jesus to include Gentiles for their own benefit.

Writings attributed to Peter contributed to Gentiles being allowed to join the Jesus club as well, though according to the Bible Peter was illiterate (Acts 4:13 describes both Peter and John as agrammatoi, a Greek word that literally means “unlettered” that is “illiterate”) and even Christian Biblical Historians acknowledge Peter didn’t author the books attributed to him.

It was Paul, Luke, and an unknown individual pretending to be Peter who created Christianity, not Jesus. And Jesus clearly did not intend to change his mind either.

In Revelation 3:9 Jesus says, “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

Jesus makes no mention of Christians or anyone else. According to his own words (see Matthew chapter 5, along with other comments such as those above), Jesus never intended to begin a new faith; he came to further his own religion, Judaism.

If you’re not a Jew, you’re not a member of his club. In the words of Jesus, you’re the lowest, most contemptible sort of person on the planet.

The reason you think you can speak to Jesus and feel his love is the same reason you can have a conversation in your head with President Obama. We build models of other individuals in our brains to predict their behavior. [4]

That’s what happens when you neglect to read the book by which you supposedly live your life, when you fail to learn its history and objectively investigate what you think you believe — you end up having a fantasy relationship with a bigoted, dead Jew.

[1] Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Oxford University Press, 2000.

[2] Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday, 1997

[3] Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Mayfield, 1985

[4] Thomson, J. Anderson; Clare Aukofer. Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith. Pitchstone Publishing, 2011.

 

LikeUnlike · · Share

Advertisements

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.

Becoming Atheist

It seems to me people think it’s a choice, being atheist.  Like, I wake up one day and think, “today I’m going to become atheist.”  That’s not what happens!

For many it’s not about “becoming” atheist at all.  They simply are atheist.  They’ve heard all the bible verses before–all the arguments, always the same cherry picked verses people quote.   They’ve perhaps tried various faiths or religions, or at least looked into them, but none are backed up by fact or evidence, and so they can’t believe.  Not everyone can have magical thinking, and that’s what it takes to be a believer–any kind of believer.  The same quality children have to be able to believe in a Santa Claus.  Magical thinking.  The ability to suspend disbelief or put aside the questions and just have FAITH, trust that what a million or more people say is real–if so many people believe, it must be real.

But for others like myself, we did believe once.  We were able to set aside the doubts and nagging questions.  Like, having a little pebble in your shoe; rather than stop and shake it out, you keep walking, hoping it will slide to the side where it can’t be felt and you can walk normally for awhile, without limping, forgetting the pebble is there…up until it finds its way back under your foot again where it hurts.

No Christian wants to lose their faith.  That’s the thing.  Every Christian really loves the idea of seeing Jesus when they die, and not having to cross the valley of the shadow of death alone.  To see loved ones you miss.  To be young again if you’re old, or strong and whole again if you’ve been hurt, blinded, or crippled by some disease.   We all like to think we’re special, too special for us to deserve to just…cease to exist after we die.   There must be a reason we were made.  Certainly this isn’t all there is!

Belief is like a teddy bear.  Once you have it, it comforts you.  You don’t want to let it go.  In the storm, in the dark, it’s what you reach for to clutch tight against you.  The idea of having that taken away…what a scary thing!   So you block your ears whenever anyone says anything that stirs up that doubt again, brings the pebble back under your foot inside your shoe.   You don’t want to hear.  You don’t want to risk losing something you treasure, something so much a part of you for so long.

No born again Christian (or any kind of Christian) asked to become an atheist.  We were all Christians once, desperate to keep the faith alive, the hope of seeing our loved ones again, of living forever in some paradise.  But then something happened.

Does it make us evil that this something…happened?  Do we deserve contempt and to be branded as demonic or worse…because this something happened?   I have been an atheist now for three years.  I was a Christian for over 30.  Has anything changed for me?  I don’t think so.  I still FEEL all the things I did before.  I still feel in tune with that little voice inside, that I now realize is really myself, my rational self that comes and comforts my animal, frightened, instinctive self.   I love the same, care the same, still possess what I once called “the fruits of the spirit.”  I feel guilty when I make someone feel sad.  I feel the same strong desire to not cause hurt or harm.

Nothing has changed.  And because nothing has changed in me, this has reinforced for me that what I had before was just a different explanation for what I’ve had all along.  I haven’t lost it.  What it is simply isn’t what I thought.  It’s not a supernatural being or a eye in the sky or imaginary friend.  It’s not a teddy bear.  It’s my strength I have within me, that I didn’t believe in–thought I needed this crutch instead, to be strong.  But I don’t because…it’s all still there inside me, making me strong.

All on my own.

I didn’t ask to become an atheist.  But I’m really glad I did.  I like living with the perspective I will cease to exist when I die.  Perhaps it will make me try a little harder to make a difference in this life, while I live.  Then if I’m wrong and I do find something after death, it will be a happy surprise.  And if I don’t, I won’t be here anymore to feel regret–but I also will not have wasted my life on something false, either.

Testimony Against… (Dan Barker’s story)


I Just Lost Faith In Faith

This was my first article for Freethought Today. It ran in the June 1984 issue.

Religion is a powerful thing. Few can resist its charms and few can truly break its embrace. It is the siren who entices the wandering traveler with songs of love and desire and, once successful, turns a mind into stone. It is a Venus fly trap. Its attraction is like that of drugs to an addict who, wishing to be free and happy, becomes trapped and miserable.

But the saddest part of the dependency is the fact that most participants are willing victims. They think they are happy. They believe religion has kept its promises and have no desire to search elsewhere. They are deeply in love with their faith and have been blinded by that love–blinded to the point of unquestioning sacrifice.

I know this is true because I was one of Christ’s disciples for over nineteen years, and my subsequent self-excision was/is traumatically painful.

My Dad was a professional musician during the 1940’s. At one of his concerts he met a female vocalist and, as things go, they went (lucky for me). They got married and, when I was a toddler, they both found true religion. Dad threw away his collection of original Glenn Miller recordings (ouch!), turned his back on his former “sinful” life and enrolled in seminary to become a minister. He didn’t finish because of the strong demands of raising three boys. But he lived his faith through his family and through lay ministry in local churches.

My folks’ spirituality was so strong that they often found it hard to find a church that met their needs. So we church-hopped for many years. I can’t remember all the churches, but we were Baptists, Methodists, Nazarenes, Assemblies of God, Pentecostals, fundamentalist, evangelical, “Bible-believing” and charismatic.

For a number of years we formed a family musical team and ministered in many Southern California churches–nothing fantastic–Dad played trombone and preached, Mom sang solos, I played piano, my brothers tooted various instruments and we all joined in singing those famous gospel harmonies. It was a neat experience for us kids. My childhood was filled with love, fun and purpose. I felt truly fortunate to have been born into the “truth” and at the age of fifteen I committed myself to a lifetime of Christian ministry.

My commitment lasted nineteen years. It gave my life a feeling of purpose, destiny and fulfillment. I spent years trekking across Mexico in missionary work–small villages, jungles, deserts, large arenas, radio, television, parks, prisons and street meetings. I spent more years in traveling evangelism across the United States preaching and singing in churches, on street corners, house-to-house witnessing, college campuses and wherever an audience could be found.

I was a “doer of the word and not a hearer only.” I went to a Christian college, majored in Religion/Philosophy, became ordained and served in a pastoral capacity in three California churches. I personally led many people to Jesus Christ, and encouraged many young people to consider full-time Christian service.

I served for a while as librarian for Kathryn Kuhlman’s Los Angeles choir, observing the “miracles” first-hand. I was even instrumental in a few healings myself.

For a number of years I directed the “King’s Children,” a local Christian music group that performed quite extensively including a brief term of hosting a local Christian television show.

For fifteen years I worked with Manuel Bonilla, the leading Christian recording artist in the Spanish-speaking world. I was his main producer/arranger, and working with him gave me the opportunity to learn the skills to produce many more Christian albums, including some of my own.

I have written more than a hundred Christian songs which are either published or recorded by various artists, and two of my children’s musicals continue to be best sellers around the world. (“Mary Had A Little Lamb,” a Christmas musical, and “His Fleece Was White as Snow,” for Easter, both published and distributed by Manna Music. You can see the religious symbolism: Christ, the unspotted lamb of god who became the final sacrifice for sin.)

I could go on listing my Christian accomplishments, but I think you can see that I was very serious about my faith, and that I am quite capable of analyzing religion from the inside out.

Last Friday evening I directed a bible study in my own home. I opened it to all comers and announced that I would welcome all points of view with the purpose of examining the documents with skepticism rather than faith. The eight people who arrived (to my astonishment) were Christians who had been informed of my present atheistic stance and were curious about my intentions. My closest ally was my brother, a theistic agnostic [Darrell is now an activist freethinker]. One fellow, a theologian, informed me that his purpose in coming was to convert me back to the faith. (He failed.)

It was a fun, lively evening and much information was exchanged, but I noticed something interesting. They were more concerned about me and my atheism than they were about the bible. The discussion kept coming around to an analysis of my conversion from the faith. They were intrigued that someone who had been so strongly religious could so radically “stray” and not be ashamed. They kept probing for some deep psychological cause, some hidden disappointment, secret bitterness, temptation or pride. They were like spiritual doctors trying to remove a tumor or blinding cataract.

One fellow suggested I had been blinded by Satan–the Devil being so intimidated by my strong Christian witness that he needed to neutralize the enemy, get me out of commission. That was very flattering, but it misses the point.

The point here is that the merits of an argument do not depend on the character of the speaker. All arguments should be weighed for their own sake, based on their own evidences and logical consistencies.

Before the bible study even commenced one fellow said, “Dan, tell us what caused you to lose your faith.” So I told them.

I did not lose my faith, I gave it up purposely. The motivation that drove me into the ministry is the same that drove me out. I have always wanted to know. Even as a child I fervently pursued truth. I was rarely content to accept things without examination, and my examinations were intense. I was a thirsty learner, a good student, and a good minister because of that drive. I always took things apart and put them back together again.

Since I was taught and believed Christianity was the answer, the only hope for “man,” I dedicated myself to understanding all I possibly could. I devoured every book, every sermon, and the bible. I prayed, fasted and obeyed biblical teaching. I decided that I would lean my whole weight upon the truth of scripture. This attitude, I am sure, gave the impression that I was a notch above, that I could be trusted as a Christian authority and leader. Christians, eager for substantiation, gladly allowed me to assume a place of leadership and I took it as confirmation of my holy calling.

But my mind did not go to sleep. In my thirst for knowledge I did not limit myself to Christian authors but curiously desired to understand the reasoning behind nonChristian thinking. I figured the only way to truly grasp a subject was to look at it from all sides. If I had limited myself to Christian books I would probably still be a Christian today. I read philosophy, theology, science and psychology. I studied evolution and natural history. I read Bertrand Russell, Thomas Paine, Ayn Rand, John Dewey and others. At first I laughed at these worldly thinkers, but I eventually started discovering some disturbing facts–facts that discredited Christianity. I tried to ignore these facts because they did not integrate with my religious world view.

For years I went through an intense inner conflict. On the one hand I was happy with the direction and fulfillment of my Christian life; on the other hand I had intellectual doubts. Faith and reason began a war within me. And it kept escalating. I would cry out to God for answers, and none would come. Like the battered wife who clings to hope, I kept trusting that God would someday come through. He never did.

The only proposed answer was faith, and I gradually grew to dislike the smell of that word. I finally realized that faith is a cop-out, a defeat–an admission that the truths of religion are unknowable through evidence and reason. It is only undemonstrable assertions that require the suspension of reason, and weak ideas that require faith. I just lost faith in faith. Biblical contradictions became more and more discrepant, apologist arguments more and more absurd and, when I finally discarded faith, things became more and more clear.

But don’t imagine that was an easy process. It was like tearing my whole frame of reality to pieces, ripping to shreds the fabric of meaning and hope, betraying the values of existence. It hurt. And it hurt bad. It was like spitting on my mother, or like throwing one of my children out a window. It was sacrilege. All of my bases for thinking and values had to be restructured. Add to that inner conflict the outer conflict of reputation and you have a destabilizing war. Did I really want to discard the respect I had so carefully built over many years with so many important people?

I can understand why people cling to their faith. Faith is comforting. It provides many “answers” to life’s riddles. My Christian life was quite positive and I really see no external/cultural reason why I should have rejected it. I continue to share many of the same Christian values I was taught (though I would no longer call them “Christian”–they are my values); and many of my close friends are decent Christian individuals whom I love and respect.

Christians feel deeply that their way of life is the best possible. They feel their attitude toward the rest of the world is one of love. That’s how I felt. I couldn’t understand why people would be critical of Christianity unless they were inwardly motivated by “worldly” Satanic influences. I pretended to love all individuals while hating the “sin” that was in them, like Christ supposedly did. (We were taught that Christ was the most loving example.)

It was a mystery to me how anyone could be blind to the truths of the Gospel. After all, don’t we all want love, peace, happiness, hope and meaning in life? Christ was the only answer, I believed, and I figured all nonChristians must be driven by other things, like greed, lust, evil pride, hate and jealousy. I took the media’s caricature of the world’s situation as evidence of that fact. For me to grow into one of those godless creatures was almost impossible, and I resisted all the way. (I have since discovered that ethics has nothing to do with religion, at least not in positive correlation.)

There was no specific turning point for me. I one day just realized that I was no longer a Christian, and a few months later I mustered the nerve to advertise that fact. That was last January, six months ago. Since then I have been bombarded by all my caring friends and relatives. I appreciate their concern and I sincerely wish to keep a dialogue open.

As an example, while I was typing this article I received a long distance call from a former Christian friend who had heard about my “defection.” It is hard to handle calls like that. She was stunned, and I am certain that she is at this very moment in prayer for me, or calling others to join in prayer. I love this person, I respect her and do not wish to cause any undue harm. She told me that she had read an article I wrote to my local paper. (How it got to her area is a mystery.) I understand her concern and sympathize with her since I know exactly what she is thinking.

I was a preacher for many years, and I guess it hasn’t all rubbed off. I would wish to influence others who may be struggling like I did–influence them to have the guts to think. To think deliberately and clearly. To take no fact without critical examination and to remain open to honest inquiry, wherever it leads.


Losing Faith In Faith by former minister Dan Barker

I have this book, and in fact Mr. Barker’s writings, along with others, have given me the key to unlocking my chains.  One of my favorite bits in his book, “Losing Faith in Faith,” I found online and thought I’d post below:


Dear Believer

The following open letter was reprinted from Losing Faith in Faith (1992).

by Dan Barker


D
ear Believer,

You asked me to consider Christianity as the answer for my life. I have done that. I consider it untrue, repugnant, and harmful.

You expect me to believe Jesus was born of a virgin impregnated by a ghost? Do you believe all the crazy tales of ancient religions? Julius Caesar was reportedly born of a virgin; Roman historian Seutonius said Augustus bodily rose to heaven when he died; and Buddha was supposedly born speaking. You don’t believe all that, do you? Why do you expect me to swallow the fables of Christianity?

I find it incredible that you ask me to believe that the earth was created in six literal days; women come from a man’s rib; a snake, a donkey, and a burning bush spoke human language; the entire world was flooded, covering the mountains to drown evil; all animal species, millions of them, rode on one boat; language variations stem from the tower of Babel; Moses had a magic wand; the Nile turned to blood; a stick turned into a snake; witches, wizards, and sorcerers really exist; food rained from the sky for 40 years; people were cured by the sight of a brass serpent; the sun stood still to help Joshua win a battle, and it went backward for King Hezekiah; men survived unaided in a fiery furnace; a detached hand floated in the air and wrote on a wall; men followed a star which directed them to a particular house; Jesus walked on water unaided; fish and bread magically multiplied to feed the hungry; water instantly turned into wine; mental illness is caused by demons; a “devil” with wings exists who causes evil; people were healed by stepping into a pool agitated by angels; disembodied voiced spoke from the sky; Jesus vanished and later materialized from thin air; people were healed by Peter’s shadow; angels broke people out of jail; a fiery lake of eternal torment awaits unbelievers under the earth … while there is life-after-death in a city which is 1,500 miles cubed, with mansions and food, for Christians only.

If you believe these stories, then you are the one with the problem, not me. These myths violate natural law, contradict science, and fail to correspond with reality or logic. If you can’t see that, then you can’t separate truth from fantasy. It doesn’t matter how many people accept delusions inflicted by “holy” men; a widely held lie is still a lie. If you are so gullible, then you are like the child who believes the older brother who says there is a monster in the hallway. But there is nothing to be afraid of; go turn on the light and look for yourself.

If Christianity were simply untrue I would not be too concerned. Santa is untrue, but it is a harmless myth which people outgrow. But Christianity, besides being false, is also abhorrent. It amazes me that you claim to love the god of the bible, a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can’t tolerate criticism. I would not want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!

The biblical god is a macho male warrior. Though he said “Thou shalt not kill,” he ordered death for all opposition, wholesale drowning and mass exterminations; punishes offspring to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5); ordered pregnant women and children to be ripped up (Hos. 13:16); demands animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judges women to be inferior to men; is a sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Is. 45:7); discriminated against the handicapped (Lev. 21:18-23); ordered virgins to be kept as spoils of war (Num. 31:15-18, Deut. 21:11-14); spread dung on people’s faces (Mal. 2:3); sent bears to devour 42 children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punishes people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide; and said fathers should eat their sons (Ez. 5:10). Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?

And Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, “I and my father are one,” and he upheld “every jot and tittle” of the Old Testament law. Mt. 5:18 He preached the same old judgment: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He believed in demons, angels and spirits. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. Women were excluded as disciples and as guests at his heavenly table. Except for hell he introduced nothing new to ethics or philosophy. He was disrespectful of his mother and brothers; he said we should hate our parents and desert our families. Mt. 10:35-36, Lk. 14:26 (So much for “Christian family life.”) He denounced anger, but was often angry himself. Mt. 5:22, Mk. 3:5 He called people “fools” (Mt. 23:17,19), “serpents,” and “white sepulchers,” though he warned that such language puts you in danger of hellfire. Mt. 5:22 He said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Mt. 10:34 (So much for “Peace on Earth.”) He irrationally cursed and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season. Mt. 21:19 He mandated burning unbelievers. Jn. 15:6 (The Church has complied with relish.) He stole a horse. Lk. 19:30-33 He told people to cut off hands, feet, eyes and sexual organs. Mt. 5:29-30, 19:12 You want me to accept Jesus, but I think I’ll pick my own friend, thank you.

One of Jesus’s many contradictions was saying good works should be seen, and not seen. Mt. 5:16, 6:1-4 One of his mistakes was saying that the mustard plant has the smallest seed. Mt. 13:31-32 The writers of Matthew and Luke could not even get his genealogy straight, contradicting the Old Testament, and giving Jesus two discrepant lines through Joseph, his non-father!

I also find Christianity to be morally repugnant. The concepts of original sin, depravity, substitutionary forgiveness, intolerance, eternal punishment, and humble worship are all beneath the dignity of intelligent human beings and conflict with the values of kindness and reason. They are barbaric ideas for primitive cultures cowering in fear and ignorance.

Finally, Christianity is harmful. More people have been killed in the name of a god than for any other reason. The Church has a shameful, bloody history of Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-burnings, heresy trials, American colonial intolerance, disrespect of indigenous traditions (such as American Indians), support of slavery, and oppression of women. Modern “fruits” of religion include the Jonestown massacre, the callous fraud of “faith healers,” recent wars and ethnic cleansing, and fighting in Northern Ireland. Religion also poses a danger to mental health, damaging self-respect, personal responsibility, and clarity of thought.

Do you see why I do not respect the biblical message? It is an insulting bag of nonsense. You have every right to torment yourself with such insanity — but leave me out of it. I have better things to do with my life.