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

 

Patriarchal Religion and Star Trek Don’t Mix

Star Trek is a fantasy.  Co-existing with other intelligent alien life forms and accepting them as respected equals is a fantasy.   As long as religion pulls the strings of our thinking, a possible future like we see depicted in the Star Trek universe, cannot be.

If we can’t even accept in our own species, that all of us are created equal, with equal rights over what happens to our bodies and equal rights to pursue our own happiness, how can we possibly embrace and accept the habits and behaviors of other intelligent, sentient cultures?

Because of religion we have sexism.  Because of religion we have bigotry and racism.  Because of religion we have intolerance and eagerness to judge others.  Because of religion we want to think in black in white and absolutes.  Either you are good or evil, followers of either a god or a satan, destined ultimately for either a heaven or a hell.

If some habit or behavior that is perfectly normal and healthy and positive for one group of people seems alien and beyond the comprehension of another group of people, it is regarded with suspicion, as are the people who engage in it.  

Human beings must be the entire reason why the immensity of the universe was created.  Human beings with our massive egos who want to believe we are the reason billions of years of evolution has taken place, and billions of other galaxies, along with ours, were created.

We are the center and everything else spins around us, and more specifically, human males are the center.  Even human females were created simply, just like other life on this planet and the Earth itself, to satisfy the wishes and needs of human men.  And even some races deem themselves superior to other races, god’s chosen people, with people of other tribes or races perfectly okay to overwhelm, invade, enslave, conquer, rape, or exterminate completely if the male made male, patriarchal god so commands it.

It’s a pie in the sky dream that human beings think we can reach out for the stars and co-exist with life elsewhere.  I have always been a devoted Star Trek fan, but at the same time that vision saddens me.  How can we hope to accept cultures so incredibly alien to our own, if we can’t even accept each other as equals?  Accept ourselves?

Not My America!

I am beyond being just angry by what I see happening to my country.  I am livid.  I am ashamed.  I am disgusted.

This is not my America.  How dare they rob me of the nation I know and love?  What gives them the right?  Who has suddenly decided that a twisted sexist and bigoted interpretation of the bible that I do not agree with, suddenly has more say over what our country does and what it stands for, than its own Constitution?

Almost on a daily basis I am seeing something else that makes me feel sick.  Here we have a global environmental crisis, an economic crisis, healthcare crisis, housing crisis, a prison overpopulation crisis…  What is the GOP focusing on?  What is the topic I have to be subjected to every single day? 

Alaska.  Arizona.  Wisconsin.  North Carolina.  Kansas.  In one state after another human rights are being decided upon  by not only one religion in a secular nation founded by Deists, but by just one flavor of that one religion.

Which state is next?   Which state is suddenly going to back-slide into bronze age thinking, deciding a fetus is a person before it is even conceived or that  women’s healthcare or mental well-being is now of secondary importance to the mass production and harvesting of potentially viable eggs or fetuses?  The new message here; women have rights only to a  point, and the Religious Right get to decide on a daily basis what rights women can or cannot have!

Now women can’t even…buy contraceptives if the pharmacist just happens to have a problem with population control in an already very overcrowded world where people die of starvation every single day because there’s not enough food?  You have got to be kidding me!

So then, following that same line of thinking, does this mean stores can deny cigarettes to smokers if the guy behind the counter doesn’t smoke or doesn’t believe in smoking, or alcohol if he thinks drinking goes against God?  Should bank tellers suddenly have the right to not give people with fancy clothes or fancy cars money because it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to get into heaven?

When does it end?  Or is this preferential treatment shown only to women?  Somehow because women have wombs they can become at any given time, breeding stock whenever a pharmacist decides its god’s will?

What the hell?

Now all of a sudden human rights are a privilege for some, not all.  Gay couples in love have to wait on pins and needles, hoping this time maybe the majority will finally vote that yes they may have the same rights as everyone else, while meanwhile heterosexual couples can marry any time they wish and that right is not subjected to a majority vote.

Since when should anyone’s basic human rights be subject to a majority vote?   If that’s the case then why aren’t traditional marriages subject to a majority vote?  Shouldn’t gays have the right to vote every four years if they think straight couples should be allowed to marry?

Protecting the sanctity of marriage–that’s the Religious Right’s war cry.  Yes, and we see so much of that among straight couples.  Gay marriage just isn’t natural the Right Wing claims.  Yes, and neither is riding in cars, flying in airplanes, drinking carbonated beverages, wearing contact lenses, false teeth or glasses. Should we do away with all these other things too because they’re not “natural?”

The bible is a book, and unproven–a book filled with errors and contradictions.  Bats are birds in the bible, unicorns exist, and donkeys talk, and yet, the bible should have equal or more authority over citizens of this country (regardless of their beliefs), than the United States Constitution???

Any divine inspiration the bible has is here say only.  I could say that J.R.R. Tolkien was divinely inspired and Lord Of The Rings is the one true word of god.  Does that make it true?

How come it is that the very same people who hold aloft the bible and point to the bits that says women should not have authority over men or gays are an abomination, can completely ignore the parts of the bible that say you should stone to death your daughter if she isn’t a virgin on her wedding night or stone to death your son in front of the whole town for being insolent?  Who are they to decide what is and what should not to be taken seriously in the bible?

This is not Christianity.  The Religious Right claim to speak for Jesus, claim to represent Jesus.  But what they represent is what they believe in.  Just like Hitler found bits in the bible to justify his actions, so does the Right Wing fundamentalist Christians find juicy little morsels to pick out of the muck that most of the bible is and say “Here!  Proof God hates gays!”

Anyone can at any time pick through the bible and find something there to support whatever opinion they want to have supported.  The bible says the handicapped or physically imperfect should not be allowed in god’s temple too.   And women should not wear braids or jewelry, or cloth of mixed material.

I’m sorry, but how stupid can we get?  What must the rest of the world think of us?  It’s embarrassing. 

This is not the America I grew up loving and believing in.  This is obscene and ugly and it needs to be stopped.  It doesn’t belong here.  Not here, the home of the free.

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.