The Hummingbird

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This short story originally appeared in the first edition of the anthology God Makes Lemonade.

It was the first time I received a check for something I wrote. A friend asked where he could find the story, which reminded me that I’ve never shared it on my blog. The story is very personal, emotional, and true. The “baby” in the story is now a gorgeous cheerleader in high school.]

The Hummingbird

Lisa heard a tapping sound but when she checked the front door, no one was there. It wasn’t the first time during the past year she’d thought she might be losing her mind. Given all that had happened, it was understandable.

Her beautiful daughter Stephanie dropped out of high school during her senior year because of excessive absences for a mysterious illness that turned out to be morning sickness. A surreal sequence of events caused a rollercoaster of emotion through the course of her pregnancy. In the end a beautiful baby girl named Ava Grace was born, but months of pain and anguish preceded that happy delivery.

The baby’s father was 21 year old Josh.   Both Lisa and her husband liked the polite young man who seemed to calm their impulsive and unpredictable daughter. Stephanie and Josh met at church. Both families were cautious about their relationship given their age difference because a few years can make a big difference at their age. Although the young couple needed to complete their education, Lisa secretly thought Josh might be the right man for Stephanie one day. His tender and caring nature was demonstrated by the small things he did when he was around, from treating Stephanie’s younger brother like a human being to helping care for the menagerie of animals both inside the house and out. Josh often took care of the hummingbird feeders for Lisa. He took his self appointed task very seriously, religiously checking the feeders, keeping them cleaned and loaded with fresh hummingbird nectar.

Lisa was an avid gardener whose large backyard contained a beautiful lawn surrounded by lush perennial flower beds the local avian population found particularly inviting. Bird feeders were strategically positioned among the flowers and beside a small waterfall that re-circulated water from an underlying pond filled with goldfish.

The centerpiece of the waterfall was a long, flat slab of rock jutting out from the hill bank to form an excellent birdbath. Often Lisa would look out the picture window in her kitchen and marvel at the number of birds lined up waiting impatiently for their turn in the showers. Two or three birds could bathe comfortably and luxuriously in the running water, yet four or five would invariably be waiting their turn, stamping about impatiently on the ground, chirping and scolding those lingering beyond their allotted bath time.

Stephanie and Josh began having trouble in their relationship. Her impetuous free spirit was trying the limits of his practical responsibility. The young lovers decided some time apart would be best and Josh stopped coming around the house where he had come to feel so comfortable.

Only then Stephanie learned she was pregnant. Before deciding to tell Josh, she went to a family counseling service looking for help trying to decide what to do. After choosing to keep the baby, she told Josh.

The young man reacted badly to the news.  He was not eager to marry Stephanie. He felt they were both too young to become parents and pleaded with Stephanie to give the life growing inside her up for adoption. Stephanie adamantly refused, and the distance and bitterness between them grew.

Lisa felt very hurt and great sympathy for her daughter and felt betrayed by her own affection for the young man. Lisa struggled to squelch her feelings of bitterness and resentment. No matter what happened between Josh and Stephanie, he was going to be the father of her first grandchild.

Tensions developed at home between Stephanie and her parents. Her father encouraged her to put the baby up for adoption while Lisa supported Stephanie’s decision to keep the baby.   Despite her failure to finish high school so close to graduation, with no husband, no job prospects or means of support, Stephanie stubbornly insisted she would not give up her baby. Friction built between Lisa and her husband. Both loved their daughter, but Lisa’s maternal instinct to protect her young superseded her concern for her marriage. Their household was constantly on edge.

Stephanie and Josh went to counseling together.   Both families held out faint hopes for reconciliation between them. Failing that all hoped for at least a softening in Josh’s heart toward his unborn child. Although Josh agreed to help pay for his daughter’s care and upbringing, it was clear he wasn’t happy about a sudden lifetime commitment. Josh felt trapped by circumstances and struggled to come to terms with his pending fatherhood.

Three months before the baby’s due date, tragedy struck without warning. Josh lost control of his car late one night coming home from work.  It ran off the road and into the woods. Before leaving work for home, Josh had taken some cold medication that caused him to be disoriented.   Though he was dazed by the accident and the medication, Josh was mostly uninjured. But in his confusion he wandered deeper into the woods that dark and frosty night in February instead of back toward the road.   Before help could find him, Josh died of exposure, only a few miles from the warmth and safety of his parent’s home.

The news was devastating. In addition to the incredible sadness Lisa felt at the loss of such a young, handsome, genuinely goodhearted young man, Lisa felt incredible guilt for the resentment she held about his relationship with Stephanie. Raw emotion magnified and increased as it transformed from anger into grief and turned bitterness into remorse. Lisa alternated happy thoughts and growing anticipation for the pending birth of a new life with mourning the loss of another.

Lisa wallowed in misery, sorry for Josh’s parents, sorry Josh would never see his daughter or be able to demonstrate a change of heart, sorry she hadn’t seen it all coming and done more to prevent it.

The baby came into this world in a birthing room surrounded by mothers and aunts from both families. Eyes that spent months crying for the loss of Josh now wept tears of joy for the birth of his daughter.

After Stephanie and the baby came home from the hospital, Lisa resumed going through the motions of her life.  She took over the maintenance of the hummingbird feeders to honor the memory of Josh. Lisa watered her guilt with her tears like she used to water her flowers before his death, before her world was shattered.

Ava Grace was a magic tonic that initiated the healing process for Lisa. The baby girl was more photogenic than a Gerber baby. Her beauty was only surpassed by her sweet personality. Her thin blond hair gave her an essentially bald appearance that only accentuated her piercing blue eyes.

Seeing Ava Grace at the hospital for the first time, Josh’s mother said she was the spitting image of her father when he was a baby. That proved indisputable after a comparison of their respective baby pictures. Josh had been a beautiful baby as well. The pictures triggered a new flood of sad and sweet memories.

Ava Grace cemented the relationships between all those who loved her. The parents of Josh and Stephanie found common ground in their love for Ava Grace. Josh was sorely missed by all. His death seemed so senseless, so…wrong. It felt like he should suddenly reappear and shout something stupid like “April Fools” and everyone would laugh in an explosion of relief.   But his presence remained only in their memories.

Lisa heard the tapping again. Where was it coming from? She walked back into the kitchen to check on Ava Grace, still asleep in her baby carrier resting on the island countertop.   Lisa looked at the picture window and saw a small red and green hummingbird striking at the glass if was trying to get inside. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Hummingbirds just don’t do that sort of thing.

With all the birds that visited the backyard habitat, it wasn’t the first time a bird tapped at a window. There was one whole summer a bluebird who nested atop one of the columns on the front porch conducted an ongoing war with his reflection, determined to drive the intruder away from his territory. Once in a while a thrush or sparrow would accidentally fly into a window in a desperate attempt to flee the occasional hawk hunting on the premises.

Yet Lisa had never seen a hummingbird behave this way before, and she’d seen a fair number of them in her lifetime. The bird looked perfectly normal, but it certainly was acting strange. She often saw one hummingbird chase another from a feeder and as a result she’d placed one on each end of her backyard, but Lisa had never seen a hummer attack its reflection or try to chase anything but another bird. The hummer persisted, striking repeatedly with its beak against the glass. A quiet whisper of an idea entered Lisa’s mind.

Remembering Josh’s affinity for hummingbirds, she thought “Could it be?”

Almost immediately she dismissed the thought. It was crazy. But apparently so was this hummingbird. It kept striking at the window as if earnestly auditioning for a part in the remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic movie. There was food in the feeders and an abundance of blooming plants that should have attracted the bird. What could the hummer want?

Lisa watched for a moment, fascinated. The bird seemed to have an unusual intelligence considering the miniscule size of its brain, and it seemed to be following some sort of pattern or routine in its approach. Whatever it was trying to accomplish, it obviously wasn’t giving up easily. Again the same quiet whisper flitted through her mind, but this time on instinct she reacted. Lisa turned the baby’s carrier around to face the window, so Ava Grace could see the bird and it could see her.

The bird stopped hitting the window. It darted around as it had before, but no longer struck the glass. Seeing the baby’s face somehow mollified the bird. It flew back and forth, up and down, but it didn’t leave. Lisa picked up the carrier and moved Ava Grace closer to the window.

The bird wasn’t the least bit frightened by her approach. It continued to dart high and low as if searching for the perfect vantage point to see this beautiful baby. A long, indescribable moment passed where the bird seemed to hover in midair, its wings beating so furiously their movement was only a blur. Then as unexpectedly as it came, the bird disappeared in a streak of red and green.

Tears welled in Lisa’s eyes. The floodgates holding her emotions in check burst and she wept for the child who would never know her father and for the young man who never got to know his daughter.

This time her tears of sadness were mixed with tears of joy. She felt a new peace and comfort. Somehow she knew Josh had managed to see his new daughter after all. Lisa didn’t expect she’d ever see the bird again. She also knew she’d never see Josh again in this lifetime. The remarkable encounter she experienced allowed her to say goodbye to the tragedy and finally turn to face the future. She had a daughter to help establish her own life, and a new grandbaby to love.

Reader feedback

The original purpose for building this website was to create an internet platform to advertise the fact I’d become an author, and to promote my books.

The idea was that my writing would eventually provide me some level of income, but there’s only one small problem — I haven’t written enough material in any particular genre to draw and sustain a large audience, and there’s a lot of competition in this new age of digital publishing.

Long ago the decision was made to sacrifice quantity for quality, so I haven’t tried to produce a steady stream of content on one particular subject. I have tried to focus on writing well, rather than publishing more frequently. Naturally, it was a very rewarding feeling in 2013 when not one or two, but three of my books won awards, but the problem is that awards don’t automatically produce income. The market has been flooded with competition, and not enough people know who I am. I’m no genius when it comes to marketing myself as a writer, but I know that I don’t have enough readers, book reviews, and my work hasn’t gotten much publicity.

This is somewhat difficult to write without sounding like I’m pleading for money, but in order for my work to earn income, I need to sell books and short stories. I have resisted the idea of buttons soliciting donations to support the website, and Patreon accounts. But on the other hand, I don’t have an agent, or a book deal. I don’t get paid six or seven-figure advances on work that hasn’t even been written yet. The two small, independent publishers who have published my work paid fair royalties, but those are based on book sales. To be brutally blunt, if my family depended on my income as a writer to survive, we’d have starved to death about nine years ago.

Fortunately my wife believes in my talent as a writer, and I believe in myself.  The problem is largely one of my own making, I do believe.  Because my six published works range from nonfiction books about religion and philosophy (Divine Evolution and Counterargument for God), a collection of short stories about animal rescue called Always a Next One, plus three detective novels, I haven’t built an audience base that impatiently waits on my next book.

My first novel, Coastal Empire, introduced private detective Robert Mercer and his canine partner, Ox, as they tried to solve the mystery of why someone might steal a person’s identity without stealing their money. Premonition is the sequel to Coastal Empire, and Secondhand Sight is an amateur sleuth novel featuring Dan Harper as the main character. The next Mercer novel, which will be published in 2017, will be called Atheist’s Prayer.

I know from comments that people enjoy reading my blog, or so they claim, but do those same people read my books? If not, why not?

What do you like about my website, and what don’t you like? 

Like anyone else with an ego, of course I enjoy a complimentary review, especially when it is published at Amazon. However, I must admit that I crave constructive criticism, and I pay closer attention to those one and two-star book reviews, especially when it is obvious the person actually read my book. After all, if we fail to learn from our mistakes, we never stop making them. If my next novel isn’t better than anything I’ve written before, I’m not learning enough from my mistakes.

If you read one of my books, did you publish a short review on Amazon? Don’t worry about hurting my feelings, if you didn’t like what you read. Trust me, I’ll get over it.

I’ve been thinking about ways of monetizing the website, but the only thing I’ve decided to do so far is to publish here more often, and ask for your feedback on my writing. Having Atheist’s Prayer published later this year ought to help. Yes, I am committed to seeing that project completed in 2017, and then moving on to Devil’s Breath. I’m committed to working on Atheist’s Prayer every day, until published. Less time squandered on social media, and more time devoted to real work. If I simply went by Google Analytics, I’d write about Georgia Bulldog football every day, but I think there are enough websites already dedicated to that subject.

So…what do I do right? What am I doing wrong? What should I be doing differently?

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

The tilma of Juan Diego

guadalupe1[Author’s note: this article was originally published several years ago when I wrote as the Atlanta Creationism Examiner at Examiner.com. The article’s original contents have not been edited, requiring a correction: the tilma was not weaved from cotton, but agave plant fiber. As I say below, I’m not Catholic. I don’t need for this story to be true; I merely find the alleged details fascinating. Strangely enough, my atheist friends seem to desperately need the story to be false.]

I present the following information for your cogitation acknowledging that it is anecdotal in nature, but included there are some very interesting claims made by scientists involved in the story.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess that I’ve never been to Mexico to personally examine the tilma of Juan Diego.

Given the current climate and tendency of drug cartels to shoot or chop of the heads of people, I don’t consider it a tourist friendly travel destination. Therefore, I have planned no trips for the purposes of conducting a personal examination. Besides, we’ve firmly and cheerfully established my lack of credentials in certain natural sciences and my aversion to microscopes and lab coats.

My primary source of information for this story of Juan Diego’s tilma came from a book titled Divine Interventions by Dan Millman and Doug Childers.

Internet sources appear to confirm much of the information that I found in their book.

Juan Diego’s story begins on Saturday, December 9th, 1531 — the day Catholics celebrate as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

It is believed to be the day of Jesus’ conception, which is sort of odd considering I know Catholics also celebrate Christmas in December.

If accurately celebrated, it would be mean either the baby’s gestation period lasted a full calendar year. If the day celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is correct, according to the calendar Jesus should have been born in August or September.

Personally, I don’t think it matters when we celebrate Christmas, but that we recognize the birth and death of the promised Messiah.

But I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.

An Aztec peasant converted to Catholicism, according to the story Juan Diego experienced a vision of the Virgin Mary at a specific hill approximately nine miles outside of Mexico City. The vision sent Juan Diego on a mission to convince the bishop of Mexico City to build a shrine for her at the site.

Although he spoke no Spanish, Juan boldly approached the bishop to relay her request. After listening to the translator with little interest the bishop summarily dismissed him. A dejected Juan Diego departed for home.

The vision of Mary greeted him with encouraging words on his return journey. Juan confessed his failure and begged Mary to find a more suitable and articulate replacement.

Undeterred, the vision sent Juan back to speak with the bishop a second time.

This time Bishop Zumarraga found it more difficult to simply dismiss the determined peasant. He was troubled by his persistence, but needed more proof.

He thoroughly interviewed Juan Diego through their interpreter. The bishop wavered before committing resources to build the remote shrine on the word of the Aztec peasant who could not even speak Spanish. The authors of Divine Interventions write, “Finally, he told Juan that he required a sign; let the Lady decide what kind of sign to give—but he, the bishop of Mexico City, could not build a temple based on fantasy.” (pg 157)

It seems that for a purportedly religious man, Zumarraga took a very cautious and skeptical approach. I respect his conservative point of view as opposed to taking a blind leap of faith.

Greeted by the vision on his return home, she told Juan Diego to relax. The following day a sign would indeed remove all doubt from Bishop Zumarraga so the church would be constructed.

Juan returned home, only to find the uncle who raised him as his own dying from an arrow wound. His uncle begged Juan to fetch a priest, in order to receive last rites. Juan hurried to find a priest for his uncle, but the vision of Mary stopped him on his way at the same hill.

She told Juan not to worry; his uncle would recover. She sent him to the crest of the hill. There he found a wide assortment of flowers that were blooming out of season.

He gathered the blooms in his tilma — a long thin cotton poncho — believing they were the miraculous sign the bishop expected.

Juan Diego arrived at the bishop’s residence, who at the time was hosting another bishop named Ramirez and the governor of Mexico.

The bishop’s staff ushered Juan Diego into the room. He explained through the interpreter how he found the flowers as their powerful scent filled the room.

Juan released the bottom fold of his tilma that he’d curled up to hold the flowers. The petals dropped to the floor.

After a moment of stunned amazement the other men in the room also dropped to the floor on their knees, stunned into reverential awe.

According to “legend”, Juan Diego looked down and saw that the flowers had left a perfect artistic impression of the Virgin Mary on the thin cotton fabric. According to Millman and Childers,

Modern experts say the fifty six inch tall on the tilma of Juan Diego equals the artistry and beauty of the works of Da Vinci, Raphael, and Rembrandt. But the manner of its appearance on the tilma is more miraculous than its eerily vivid lifelikeness. For Bishop Zumarraga testified that he saw the image of the Mother of Christ appear on the tilma at the very moment he looked up from the flowers. Four centuries would pass before modern technology would unravel even more mysterious aspects of this unparalleled work of spiritual and artistic perfection. (pg 159)

So now let’s try to separate fact from fiction. Here’s what we know is fact.

  1. A church was built on that site.
  2. Juan Diego’s tilma still hung in the church when Divine Interventions printed in 1999.
  3. The normal life span of such a garment is twenty years.
  4. Though currently protected by a thin layer of glass, the tilma was exposed to candle smoke and other pollutants for hundreds of years without discoloration or ill effect.
  5. A bomb planted directly underneath the tilma exploded on November 14, 1921. Though the church suffered significant damage, witnesses reported not only was the garment unharmed, the glass protecting it didn’t even crack.
  6. Two fibers from the image were examined by the director of the Chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Heidelberg. He concluded “no coloring agent of any kind [existed] in the fibers.” The authors added, “The source of the color was untraceable, being neither animal, vegetable, or mineral dye. Yet no synthetic coloring existed before the 1800s.” [pg 160]
  7. Scientists using a microscope examined the image and declared no visible brush strokes were present.
  8. Using an ophthalmoscope, Dr. Rafael Lavoignet examined the eyes in the image and announced in the cornea of the eyes, a human image could be seen that had been imposed with the correct optical imagery produced by a “normal” eye. The date the image was created has been established as 1531. The nature of corneal eye reflections were not scientifically verified until 300 years passed. The image has been identified by matching it to a painting of Juan Diego.
  9. In 1962, an optometrist and his wife magnified a photograph of the image 25 times and announced they had discovered two more faces reflected in Mary’s eyes: Bishop Ramirez and translator Juan Gonzalez, identified from painting of the men.
  10. Professor Philip Callahan examined the image using infrared technology in 1979. The professor, an expert in the field of infrared radiation and an accomplished painter, wrote about the image on the tilma, “it’s color rendering and the preservation of its brightness over the centuries are inexplicable. There is no sizing and no protective over-varnish present on the image. Without sizing the tilma should have rotted centuries ago, and without protective varnishing the picture should have been ruined long ago by prolonged exposure to candle smoke and other pollutants. Under high magnification, the image shows no detectable sign of fading or cracking—an inexplicable occurrence after 470 years of existence.”

Those are the salient facts about the story I can provide that can be easily verified: the age of the church, the approximate age of the tilma and its failure to adhere to normal laws of physics that govern entropy. Experts in their respective fields have made remarkable claims about the garment in question.

Several other anecdotes about the history of the shrine include:

  1. The vision of Mary appeared to Juan’s dying uncle and healed him as she promised Juan. She told the uncle her name was “the Ever Virgin Mary Tequetalope, an Aztec word meaning “Who saves us from the Devourer.” This last word in her name was phonetically translated into Spanish as Guadalupe.” (pg 159)
  2. The day after Christmas in 1531, during the celebration of the swiftly completed construction of the chapel, some celebrants fired arrows into the air in jubilation. One arrow allegedly struck a man in the neck and killed him.

Millman and Childers write,

“His corpse was carried into the chapel and laid beneath the sacred image. The crowd prayed aloud to Mary for a miracle. Minutes later, the man opened his eyes and rose, healed. Spaniards and Mexicans – mortal enemies – now embraced one another with joyous affection.” (pg 159)

Whether or not these two anecdotes are true, we know for a fact that within a few years, more than nine million Aztecs converted to Catholicism. An estimated one billion pilgrims have since visited the shrine over the past four centuries.

As with the Shroud of Turin, the known facts surrounding the tilma of Juan Diego are fascinating if true.

But they don’t really prove anything.

My own tendency is to emulate doubting Thomas. I usually need to see the wounds for myself before I really allow myself to believe a story like this. But I don’t have to go to Mexico City to see proof of a miracle. I’ve met Matthew Botsford in person.

When I first learned of his story on Biography Channel’s I Survived: Beyond and Back, it was hard to believe someone who looked that good could have ever been shot in the head.

The camera didn’t show everything, staying from the neck up. You couldn’t see his paralyzed left arm, or the leg brace on his left leg.

It was hard to believe he still had a bullet in his head until I held his most recent CAT scan image in my hand. When I saw his tracheotomy scars, I really began to believe the truth of his story that he’d been through hell and returned.

I can’t prove any of this: that Juan Diego’s tilma still hangs at the shrine for Our Lady of Guadalupe, or that the events happened as described. I can’t even prove the personal experiences that Matthew Botsford claims to have had are real.

For that matter, how do I prove that my own personal experiences are real unless I’m somehow able to apply the scientific method in real time?

Maybe life is just a figment of my imagination.

Your inner parakeet

2000px-Budgerigar_diagram-labeled.svgI love reading books written by Richard Dawkins. Quite ironically, he provides some of the very best material I could ever hope to find for use in discussions with my atheist friends about God and His creation, as well as existential science and evolution theory.

It turns out that virtually everything I might ever need for my argument in favor of a supernatural God can be found in his book The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution, simply by following the advice of Dawkins and accepting many of his claims about the theory of evolution on face value.

For example, in his book Richard Dawkins claimed that humans share a now-extinct ancestor with the budgerigar (another name for the common parakeet) that lived approximately 310 million years ago, writing that “Every species is a cousin of every other. Any two species are descended from an ancestral species, which split in two.” (pg. 254)

That would mean every modern living organism must be directly related to every other living organism on earth by descent — with modifications, of course. Not only is your cousin a chimpanzee, but your slightly more distant cousin is allegedly the cucumber.

The most obvious question coming to mind about this idea would seem to be “how?”

Now my atheist friends have frequently suggested that I publish the evidence that disproves my cousinship to fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers and turnips so that I might earn fame, fortune, and even to win a Nobel Prize. However, the Nobel Prize does not honor a category for evolutionary biology, making the goal itself nonsensical, even if one assumes that the purpose of pursuing a career in science is to earn fame, fortune, and win the Nobel Prize.

Not even Charles Darwin would have won the Nobel Prize if the award had existed when he wrote On the Origin of Species. Ernst Mayr never won the Nobel Prize, and also noted that there is no prize for evolutionary biology, presumably to silence his own critics. Besides, by the time I received my PhD in something, I’d only be a few years away from retirement age.

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins hasn’t won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, either. So winning one can’t be that big of a deal.

Ideas matter.southernprose_cover_CAFG Book sales matter. Being able to defend one’s ideas with logic, reason, and the support of available scientific ideas matter. An honest pursuit of existential truth matters. Prizes and book awards, not so much.

In case awards matter to other people and increase book sales, though, I will point out to the reader that the book shown on the right won a gold medal in an international book awards contest, as did collection of animal rescue short stories and the detective novel shown below.

Thus ends my brief foray into shameless self-promotion, which I freely admit only doing to irritate those critics of mine who often accuse me of relentless self promotion and trying to sell them a book that I’ve offered to give away.

This mentality reminds me of the classic line from Joseph Bologna in the movie Blame It on Rio: “Who packs, not to leave?”

DivineEvolutionCover_eBook_finalWho writes a book and manages to get published, but doesn’t want people to buy it?

Not that I’m complaining, but I think my accountant might still tell me today that Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, and Bob Dylan have all made more money off copyright permissions from Divine Evolution, my first book, that I have earned from sales to date. Writing is a labor of love that will eventually pay financial dividends to my estate, if not before.

Buy a book and read — it doesn’t have to be one of mine. Broaden your horizons. Try to learn something new. End of commercial.

Now back on point…

It has been frequently said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The assertion that humans might be related even to parakeets and even plants by sex, isolation of genetics, and time certainly would qualify as an extraordinary claim.

Dawkins writes (about the alleged reptilian human/parakeet common ancestor),

“In the unlikely event that a fossil of this ancestral species was ever found, it would need a name. Let’s call it Protamnio darwinii. We don’t know any details about it, and the details don’t matter [emphasis added] at all for the argument, but we won’t go far wrong if we imagine a sprawling lizard-like creature, scurrying about catching insects. Now, here’s the point. When Protamnio darwinii split into two sub-populations, they would have looked just the same as each other, and could have happily interbred with each other; but one lot were destined to give rise to the mammals, and the other lot were destined to give rise to the birds (and dinosaurs and snakes and crocodiles).” (pg. 254-5)

Now in order to reach this allegedly indisputable conclusion that humans and parakeets have ancestors in common, we only need to look at the evidence, according to Mr. Dawkins.

This is excellent advice, in my opinion. Never forget that extraordinary claims always require extraordinary evidence. So what exactly is this evidence, and what does it tell us?

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but birds have beaks, wings, and feathers. Their bones are hollow, yet incredibly strong. Birds lay eggs. Most birds can fly. They have a specially-adapted digestive system. In other words, birds are very, very different than human beings that appear to be engineered specifically for the capability of flight.

Neither birds nor humans are closely related to insect-eating lizards, though. Sure, birds, lizards, and humans have central nervous systems and cardio-vascular systems as well as skeletons, hearts, brains, eyes, and other organs that may be found in virtually every living animal, but this hardly qualifies as evidence for being the product of common descent.southernprose_cover_AANO

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins admits that there is an “overwhelming illusion” of design we may observe in nature, but then dismisses even the possibility of design versus descent because of his personal bias towards atheism. To justify his assumption, he refers to alleged evidence of “bad” design like the routing of the vas deferens through the human body or the laryngeal nerve in giraffes. My dogs are theoretically not only my best friends, they are allegedly my cousins as well.

Does anyone else (besides me, of course) have a problem with the absence of logic being shown here? We are being asked — no, told to believe that humans are related to giraffes and parakeets through common ancestry, conditioned to believe that evolution theory is the only conceivable explanation for the existence of a human being.

We are told to basically ignore all the differences like feathers and wings and emphasize any perceived similarities. If we attempt to ask intelligent questions about the science, we are branded as evolution deniers, as if we know some great existential truth that we stubbornly refuse to admit.

Skepticism about science will not be tolerated. Only skepticism about religion is allowed.

Nevertheless, common ancestry means that the primary factors that cause such incredible diversity are sexual reproduction, isolation of the gene pool (usually due to geography), and time. Both Dawkins and Coyne clearly agree on the importance of those three factors, especially isolation, in the formation of new species. Quite frankly, we are being conditioned to believe that only descent can possibly explain how a lizard, a parakeet, and a human being are allegedly “related” to each other.

Dawkins insists that we should go and look at the evidence — perhaps he should take his own advice and speak with paleontologist Michael Benton. An excellent candidate for Protamnio darwinii might well be a dicynodont named Lystrosaurus, the primary terrestrial animal that survived the Permian extinction of about 250 million years ago, according to Professor Benton. What’s sixty million years in the Big Scheme of things, compared to the life span of a human being?

More time than we have to observe the alleged processes in action, that’s for sure. That is roughly the same amount of geologic time that has elapsed since the Cretaceous extinction killed off the dinosaurs. Most modern animal species we can observe today allegedly “evolved” within the last 65 million years, with a few notable exceptions such as crocodiles and coelacanths.

It would be absurd to deny the possibility that descent alone might explain the existence of both the ant and the anteater, the cotton plant and the boll weevil, because we know that species (or kinds) are perpetuated by sexual reproduction, which is of course, descent. But why should we assume descent must be the only possible contributing factor, when there is overwhelming evidence drawn from inference that suggests manipulation and design might also be involved?

My point is merely this: it is absolutely silly to assume that descent explains the relationship of humans to bananas, while details of the process by which it occurred remain completely unknown. My goal is not to persuade the reader he or she should not believe Darwin’s theory solves all problems — I’m asking for someone to explain how it works to me, so that I might believe, too.

Currently we don’t even seem to know how recent evolution occurred, for example how humans evolved from ape ancestors. The “smoking gun” evidence that advocates of evolution theory love to cite is the commonly believed fusion of human chromosome 2, which biologist Ken Miller has said appears to be so clear that it appears “something” joined two primate chromosomes together as clearly as if a piece of Scotch tape had been used to connect them.

However, when pressed to explain how a fused joining of those chromosomes could occur slowly over many generations, Professor Miller explained that the joining of those two chromosomes had no discernible impact on ape-to-human evolution. But how can an event with no known relationship to human evolution be claimed to provide evidence that it occurred? If the evidence that humans evolved from apes doesn’t explain how it happened, why should we believe that it even happened?

And if human chromosome 2 created by fusion didn’t cause ape-to-human evolution to occur, what did?

It’s very important to note that Richard Dawkins admits that we don’t have the slighted clue about what causes or allows macro evolution to occur, writing: “What actually happened at this epic parting of the ways (divergence from reptiles into species that evolve into both humans and parakeets), nobody knows.” (pg 255) How…inconvenient. Or convenient, depending on your point of view.

Doesn’t that seem like something vitally important to know before it becomes universally accepted to be an indisputable truth? How can we assume something could have only happened one way, if we don’t even have the slightest clue how that way actually works in the real world?

Remember, if evolution as Dawkins describes it really is true, you’re not only a cousin of a chimpanzee, you’re also literally the cousin of a cucumber. All dramatic (and beneficial) mutations only made possible by sex. Plus isolation of two gene pools from the same ancestral creature. And lots and lots of time, of course. Dawkins also wrote in his book that “Biologists use the word ‘speciation’ for the splitting of a species into two daughter species.”

The problem with what biologists call “speciation” is the definition of the word species, originally redefined by Ernst Mayr to mean animals that don’t reproduce for whatever reason, regardless of their kind. Doesn’t this sort of diminish the whole concept of selection? In ring species, is it true that the animals can’t reproduce, or could it be possible they don’t mate by choice? Is a bluebird absolutely unable to mate with a cardinal, or possibly just not attracted to them?

I don’t ask questions because I know all the answers…I’d only like to know them.

According to Dawkins, the cichlids of Lake Victoria have allegedly evolved into hundreds of new species of cichlids. But the cichlids haven’t actually become a truly new kind of organism. Only more diversity in cichlids can be observed, even 400,000 years after the lake formed.

The real question of speciation is this: how long does it take for tilapia to evolve into trout?  Remember that in open ocean waters, a decent fisherman might catch bass, trout, flounder, salmon, mackerel, or they might encounter countless other forms of marine life — or perhaps they might even hook an alleged fossil fish, the coelacanth. Will the cichlids of Lake Victoria ever evolve into something other than a cichlid?

During Richard Lenski’s experiments with e-coli bacteria didn’t evolve into a completely different organism with a new body plan. It didn’t even evolve into a different form of bacteria such as salmonella or listeria. The e-coli merely adapted to changes in its environment. The experiments do demonstrate the remarkable resilience and ability to adapt to a changing environment for a well defined kind of animal, but haven’t shown how truly new organisms emerge.

My atheist friends want to know how I can dismiss evidence of evolution seen in ERVs, meaning the endogenous retroviruses that may become part of the DNA inherited by offspring.

Under what circumstances might an infection from a virus have beneficial results to the host organism? Trying to think of candidates for viruses that may become permanently embedded in the host’s DNA, I’m only coming up with examples such as herpes simplex/Chickenpox thus far — viruses without beneficial effect on the host organism.

New information might get added to the genome, all right, but it’s more than likely detrimental in nature, if it’s viral.

The latest and greatest discovery in evolutionary biology is the identification of the miR-941 gene that allegedly “helps to explain how humans evolved from apes. It appears to have played a crucial role in the development of the human brain and may shed light on our use of tools and language.”

The problem is that the article making this stunning announcement also had this to say:

Scientists say, however, that this gene emerged, in a startlingly brief interval of evolutionary time, fully functional out of non-coding genetic material. This material has been termed “junk DNA.” [emphasis added] Previous to this study, it has been remarkably difficult to see this process in action.

In light of these new clams, perhaps calling Sir Fred Hoyle’s famous tornado-through-a-junkyard analogy a “fallacy” is the truly egregious logical error in this exercise. I just don’t believe that the traits which make humans special formed quickly and naturally came from AREs and junk DNA.

southernprose_cover_SHSIn his book The Greatest Show on Earth, Dawkins repeatedly encouraged his readers to imagine being private detectives investigating a crime scene. As it just so happens, that is precisely what I do for a living — I write detective novels, published using the pen name Rocky Leonard.

So I’ve had to train my mind to imagine crimes and then to solve them.

It seems intuitively more obvious to me that God, not good luck, has monkeyed around with our DNA.

God doesn’t make junk. Complexity exists for a reason.

Perhaps the most telling comment of all from Dawkins was this: “Once again, I must stress, the details [emphasis original] of my little story are pure fiction [emphasis added].” (pg. 256)

He follows that up with: “Most biologists will tell you that geographical isolation is the normal prelude to speciation, although some, especially entomologists, may chime in with the reservation that sympatric speciation can also be important. Sympatric speciation, too, requires some kind of initial, incidental separation to get the ball rolling, but it is something other than geographic isolation.” (pg. 257)

Given the stated importance of genetic isolation of two breeding populations within species boundary, does this mean that humans, in the age of worldwide travel, can no longer evolve on earth?

That thought seems to beg yet another question: must humans colonize outer space in order to be able to evolve into new species? How else might two different human gene pools get isolated long enough to diverge, in this day and age?

I know this article turned out to be long, but I wanted to cover as much territory as possible and get all of the residual questions off my chest, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t see future books about evolution or religion.

I’ve pretty much said all that needed to be said, and what I wanted to say. Until the announcement of next great evolutionary breakthrough, that is.

Perhaps when they claim to have discovered how gene mir-942 helped turn monkeys into men.

Georgia’s next defensive coordinator

Sellers_pinkpanther7First of all, let’s get something straight up front. I have no special access to insider knowledge. I don’t have a mole inside the UGA athletic department.

No little bird has been whispering in my ear. Nobody who knows anything has told me anything that no one is supposed to know.

In other words, take my analysis with a grain of salt, if not the whole shaker.

I’ve been blessed with the God-given ability to use my brain to think like a private detective, which coincidentally comes in quite handy because my day “job” is to write detective novels. I use the pseudonym Rocky Leonard to differentiate the novels from my nonfiction writing.southernprose_cover_SHS

Kirby Smart does not have my number on speed dial. Nobody has divulged any Georgia Bulldog secrets to me. I’m a writer, not a sports journalist.

Like Sergeant Schultz from the old television show Hogan’s Heroes, I hear nothing. I know NOTHING!

Sgt_SchultzBut I think I know who Kirby Smart might be planning to hire as his defensive coordinator, given only the fact that he didn’t retain former UGA defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Coach Smart’s hires for the offensive side of the ball seem to be excellent choices, especially considering the overwhelmingly positive reaction that came from the experts in sports journalism and the fact the new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach have experience working together.

Nothing has been said about the defense, though. If we have confidence that the (soon-to-be) former defensive coordinator at Alabama has a clear plan in mind for the Georgia defense, we should assume that Coach Smart has someone in mind already.

If that’s true, then this coach must still be working toward something pretty important (like a national championship, for example) if the deal has been done, but the hire cannot yet be announced for some reason.

Furthermore, this hypothetical new coach would probably be someone with whom Coach Smart is familiar and comfortable, which would be someone he’s worked with before.

Since that person was obviously NOT Jeremy Pruitt, who could it be? Who on Alabama’s current staff might be the next defensive coordinator at Georgia? Who is an outstanding, imminently qualified candidate?

Looking at the rest of Alabama’s current staff for 2015, outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi appears to be too young and inexperienced.  Bo Davis is an excellent and experienced defensive line coach, but so is Tracy Rocker.

Jeremy Pruitt coached the secondary. At Alabama, assistant head coach Mel Tucker currently coaches the secondary.

And who is Mel Tucker, you may ask?images-7

Well, here’s what his coaching biography at Alabama says:

Mel Tucker has coached at LSU and Alabama in the SEC.

Tucker also has served as the defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars and Ohio State Buckeyes in addition to coaching for the Cleveland Browns and Miami (Ohio).

Tucker also went 2-3 as the interim coach in Jacksonville after the Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio.

Let me remind you once more — I’m pulling this all out of thin air. We might not know the true identity of the new UGA defensive coordinator until mid January.

But if my “reasonable” speculation turns out to be right…Wow!

 

What makes some atheists so angry?

southernprose_cover_CAFGContrary to popular belief (of my critics), it doesn’t really bother me if people call themselves atheists. I’m not a big fan of anti-theists, though. Life is too short to spend much time in the company of thoroughly unpleasant people.

What annoys me more than anything is when people presume that I’m stupid and try talking down to me merely because I have identified myself as theist-agnostic. Because I believe in a supernatural God, they immediately assume that I’m some sort of idiot, before I can even say another word.

Since we are all agnostic by nature, we can then claim to be either theist, atheist, or apathetic (because you apparently don’t care enough and don’t know enough to even form an opinion).

While describing my beliefs, I usually attempt to justify them using scientific evidence, logic, reason, and common sense. This strategy often upsets my atheist counterpart, because rarely if ever do I refer to the Bible, unless I am forced to defend my Christian beliefs.

I certainly know better than to assert I can prove what I believe to be true beyond any and all doubt. Nor can I claim to know with absolute certainty that I’m right about everything (or anything) that I believe.

Hence the “agnostic” bit was added as a qualifier. This was all explained in my book Counterargument for God, though perhaps not quite this clearly — I meant to say that everyone should consider themselves agnostic.

Nobody knows for sure the true nature of our supernatural Creator, nor even whether or not God actually exists. According to my analysis, however, the probability of God appears to be very high.

On the other hand, I’m very adept at using the available, known scientific evidence available in the public domain to construct a very compelling argument for design over descent.

Once the only two true possible answers to humanity’s existential questions have been identified (an intelligent, supernatural creator God versus very stupid and stupendous good luck), the choice of atheism becomes extraordinarily more difficult to defend.

The atheist never believes me when I say that my counterargument for God and intelligent design will use the same scientific evidence used to argue for common descent — the fossil record, comparative anatomy, and DNA.

Of course, everyone enters into this sort of discussion about science and/or religion believing their opinions and understand of things are correct. Otherwise, we would be arguing for the sake of argument. I would never waste your time, or allow you to waste mine in such fashion. I always assume that any attempt to communicate with me is made with sincere intent, until proven otherwise. My time is valuable to me.

Though in the past I have been accused of being a prophet as well as an evangelist, I claim to be neither. I’m just a writer. If those other accusations really were true, I must be the most conservative prophet in history and the laziest, most apathetic evangelist of all time. I’ve never preached a sermon.

As I’ve said before, if God were to prove His existence beyond all doubt, we would lose our ability to exercise free will. We have no choice but to become slaves to our belief.

Because I believe in free will, I must allow my atheist friends the option to reject the supernatural Creator in whom I believe: Yahweh, the God of Abraham, and Jesus the Christ, whom I have personally accepted as the Messiah promised to the Jews in Isaiah, Chapter 53.

I’m not begging anybody to believe what I believe.

Free will allows us all to make choices about whether and what to believe. I’m not trying to shove my religious or scientific beliefs down anyone’s throat.

However, I do take exception when my beliefs are mocked and ridiculed by people who seem to have no clue about what they are saying. You’re free to try and provoke a reaction from me, but it’s almost never going to be what you expect. My worst sin is pride, I’m afraid.

I know I’m not stupid. I always grant my opponent the benefit of the doubt and assume them to at least be my intellectual equal, until proven otherwise. I never underestimate the other guy.

I’ve had much smarter people than today’s useful idiot try talking down to me before. It never worked out well for them because I am always underestimated, and assumed to be their intellectual inferior. It’s one thing to claim the superiority of your logic, and quite another to demonstrate it.

I wouldn’t have felt the need for writing this article if hadn’t been for a recent exchange with one rather enthusiastic atheist on the internet intent on provoking a reaction from me. We can all learn from his example. The confrontation began when this person wrote (among other things) that “evidence is superior to proof.”

To me, that assertion seemed like an extraordinarily silly thing to say, and so I merely pointed that out, writing this in response:

That statement doesn’t make sense. Evidence leads toward proof, with proof being the goal of improved evidence. For example, you ask me to prove my identification. I produce a Social Security card and show it to you. You say that’s insufficient evidence, because the SS card lacks a photo. So I produce new evidence, a driver’s license. You complain it is from out-of-state. I produce a valid US passport, and finally you concede that I have proved my identity to your satisfaction. (In other words) Evidence leads to proof.

Upset by my temerity to employ logic while justifying my point (presumably he could tell I am a theist), the conversation soon degenerated to the intellectual equivalent of a food fight during lunch in the cafeteria of a middle school.

First this person created a straw man argument (saying I had asserted there is proof in science), pretending it was mine, then he attempted to “educate” me by posting a barrage of links supporting his assertion that is no proof in science, in spite of the fact I never said there was. I merely said proof is superior to evidence.

For scientists, proof does not exist only because it is considered unattainable. It’s the unreachable goal. To say evidence is superior to proof is simply preposterous. Evidence accumulates to approach the level of proof — this is how hypotheses become theories.

I had merely pointed out his faux pas. Rather than conceding the validity of my point, this atheist person became openly hostile.

In a somewhat feeble attempt to bruise my ego, this person suggested I should be embarrassed by my lack of skill as a writer.

I decided to exit the forum before the temptation to embarrass this person grew too strong. I have nothing to gain by defeating a defenseless person in a battle of wits.

However, none of this changes the fact the very first definition of the word “proof” found in the dictionary reads as follows:

evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to produce belief in its truth.

Therefore, the moral of the story appears to be this: before you argue about the meaning of a word with someone, you might want to make sure the other guy isn’t a professional writer. Writers, assuming they want to be good at what they do, usually make sure they know what words mean and how to use them properly in a sentence.

Perhaps next time, you should check the dictionary to make absolutely sure that you’re one hundred percent correct in what you are saying before calling people names or trying to insult them. Assuming you don’t want to end up looking like a complete idiot, of course.

You should probably also keep in mind t51VqubTGmyL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_hose of us who write novels for a living are constantly needing good names for characters — in fact, the next time I need to name a gay transvestite axe-murderer character, I’ll already have a name to use in mind. Thanks for the inspiration!

All seriousness aside, I still wonder: whatever made this critic of mine assume that I have feelings, anyway? Silly rabbit. Trix are for kids.

Perhaps, had someone written a review that said Wow, who knew you wrote so much sheer drivel. I would be shamed if I were you immediately following publication of Divine Evolution, it might have crushed my ego, that many years ago.

Nowadays I realize that’s almost a compliment when coming from an atheist of obviously lesser intellect and more than likely the smartest thing they could think of saying, so the insult slides off me like water off a duck’s back.

Seriously? That’s the best you’ve got? I’ve been called a moron, narcissist, idiot, know-it-all, buffoon…and those were the nice things people were saying. At this stage of my writing career, I’ve been called just about every name in the book (at least twice.) Most of them aren’t repeatable, not fit for public consumption. Suffice it to say that I’m used to criticism. Heck, even my own wife told me I’m arrogant.

I prefer to think of it as confidence born of the fact the criticisms of my arguments by atheists never seem to get appreciably smarter.

The only thing this somewhat pathetic attempt to annoy me succeeded in doing was to make me ponder this question: what makes people like this guy so angry, simply because of something I happen to believe? Why can’t atheists simply be happy with their atheism?

I can only think of two possible reasons: either this guy’s jealous of me, or he’s insecure about what he believes himself.

Jealousy can’t be ruled out as a possibility.

Though I’m hardly what you might call a commercial success, I write a pretty good novel, according to most of my reviews. My audience slowly grows by the day. Lack of exposure seems to be my biggest current obstacle to success.

Word-of-mouth recommendations from readers to their friends seems to be gradually building my audience over time. Three novels have been published thus far. By the time that number has doubled, we’ll probably be ready to spend money on advertising. Life is good.

The most important thing to a writer is having lots of readers. Though jealousy is a possible motive, even at this fledgling stage of my career, I don’t think it’s the most likely one.

It’s far more likely this person is simply insecure about his atheism, troubled by my confidence in theism. Perhaps this vociferous critic of mine noticed that over 700 people have shared my recent article about carbon dating and the Shroud of Turin with their friends on Facebook.

southernprose_cover_SHSThe fact that quite a few people apparently appreciate what I have written might have unnerved him, shaken his confidence in his atheistic beliefs, and his own intellect.

On the other hand, he could be nothing more than an immature jerk with the mentality of my eleven-year-old grandson.

Or, he might be a gay transvestite axe-murderer.

 

The Pearl: 19 March 2015

Groucho-MarxOutside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. — Groucho Marx

I remember what I’ve said in the past about actors…but Groucho was a lot more than just a movie star. He was a comedic genius who wrote most of his own material, and he was even funnier and more brilliant when he ad-libbed without a script.

Besides, he said something nice about both books and dogs, and in the same sentence.

It’s a very funny line. And if you’ve read my book Always a Next One, you know how much I love dogs.

The Pearl: 18 March 2015

AquinasTo one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. – Thomas Aquinas

This pearl of wisdom from St. Thomas Aquinas is a reminder for me that arguing online with atheists is such a terrible waste of my time.

My Counterargument for God has already covered every reason I could think to offer why design is superior to descent to explain why we have the variety of flora and fauna on Earth that we can easily observe.

I’ve discovered that most atheists won’t finish my book. They can’t even get past the section on Darwinism and my explanation why design is a superior argument.

Design is superior to descent for one simple reason.,,,life cannot evolve until it exists. Life cannot “descend” from inanimate matter. In other words, before evolution ever becomes possible, either supernatural creation, or stupendous good luck, has already occurred.

Of course, when St. Thomas uses the word “faith”, of course he means religious faith, or belief in a supernatural creator God.

But atheists also have faith, if only faith in their intelligence, and that of their peers. southernprose_cover_CAFG As a general rule, atheists apparently refuse to even consider the possibility that someone with religious beliefs could have experienced something they haven’t, or might know something they don’t.

However, observation is a crucial component of the scientific method, and I have observed phenomena in multiple personal experience that literally defies the laws of physics. Firsthand observation is empirical evidence, according to the scientific method.

The reason I have rejected descent as the better option is not because I have strong confirmation bias toward the evidence for design.

In fact, it’s the exact same evidence — meaning the fossil record, DNA, and comparative anatomy.

This realization poses the question: is it really that easy to believe that sex, isolation, and random mutations, which translates to luck, and of course, lots of time — coincidentally, more time is needed than would allow humans to observe the phenomena — is that really easier than believing in a superior intellect capable of reconfiguring DNA?

Remember this: if “descent” is really true, those factors: sex, time, isolation and mutation explain not only your relationship to the monkey, but also moss, the moth, and the moose.

Sex. Isolation. Time. And lots of good luck, of course.

To believe all that, you also must ignore all the evidence that implies the existence of an intelligent, supernatural Creator.

And some people will ignore any evidence that fails to conform to their pre-existing worldview.

Because their minds are closed.

Education versus indoctrination

Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Recently Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was visiting London when a reporter tried to sandbag him, asking if he was “comfortable” with and accepted the theory of evolution.

Walker apparently sensed the question was intended to be a trap. So he replied that he was going to punt the question, cleverly adding that it was a topic on which politicians shouldn’t be asked to give an opinion. Uber liberal Democrat Howard Dean then tried his best to turn Walker’s non-answer into an advantage for his political party on CNN’s Morning Joe.

Dean said that because Walker dropped out of college his senior year and refused to say that he believed in evolution theory, he should be considered “uneducated” and therefore unqualified to be elected President of the United States in 2016.

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough accused Dean of taking a cheap shot at Walker, who had dropped out of Marquette to take a lucrative job with the American Red Cross.

Scarborough correctly pointed out that people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were merely a few examples of extremely successful businessmen lacking college degrees.

Dean tried defending his comments. He stammered, “Evolution is a widely accepted scientific construct. People who don’t believe in evolution easily, easily either do it for hard right religious reasons or because they don’t know anything.”

Screaming Howard Dean

Screaming Howard Dean

Really?

Howard Dean has a medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University after receiving his undergraduate degree in political science from Yale University.

So I won’t insult his intelligence by suggesting Howard Dean doesn’t know anything. However, I’m relatively certain that I know a lot more about evolution theory than he does.

The title of my first published book was Divine Evolution, in fact. Because I am not running for political office, I will state for the record that I have serious doubts about successfully extrapolating Darwin’s theory beyond the boundary of species.

Recently Greg Gutfeld of Fox News Channel’s The Five astutely pointed out, “College has changed. You are no longer taught how to think. You’re told what to think.”

When I went to college, I was taught that evolution theory was actually an undisputed fact. Neo-Darwinism was considered so far beyond the point of reasonable doubt that the only appropriate response to any questions about the legitimacy of the theory was scorn and ridicule.

Objections to Darwinism were simply assumed to be born from religious dogma, not the product of logic or intelligent thought.

Yet that’s exactly where my objections originated, after Richard Dawkins suggested that a computer was intelligently designed, but the human brain on which that design was crudely based, was not.

Humans simply don’t live long enough to observe the sort of metamorphosis required for humans, apes, and dolphins to share common ancestry. But we can observe severe constraints on the reproductive capabilities of modern species to cast significant doubt on the ability of sexual reproduction to explain common ancestry between man, apes, and the bananas we both like to eat.

Counter_cover_smAs I tried to make emphatically clear in my book Counterargument for God, the debate is often falsely cast as creationism versus evolution. The argument for evolution theory defies logic an common sense.

Before evolution can even be said to be possible, miraculous creation has already occurred.

The universe was created from absolutely nothing, in an event a physicist named Fred Hoyle once derisively called The Big Bang as an insult to the theory.

Living organisms were somehow created by the animation of matter in an alleged chemical process described by a hypothesis called abiogenesis.

So, the “argument” isn’t science versus religion. It most certainly isn’t “scientific fact” versus the “myth of creationism.”

The best way to frame this debate is to crystallize the question down to two possible options: design versus descent. Or, if you prefer, the debate is over the possibility of a supernatural God versus rather unbelievable good luck.

Life cannot evolve until it exists.

When I was indoctrinated to believing in Darwinism, I was persuaded by the bandwagon fallacy of scientific “consensus” the theory was true. I trusted my professors. They were authority figures.

I wasn’t there to get a biology degree. There was no point in challenging my biology professor. I was in school to learn how to write computer software.

Mission accomplished, I forgot all about evolution theory that fateful night when I watched biology professor Richard Dawkins being interviewed on The Colbert Report.

Dawkins was on the show to promote his book The God Delusion. His brash confidence made me quite curious as he declared cars, computers, and cell phones were all intelligently designed, but human beings were not.

I wasn’t considered an expert on cars or cell phones, but computers were another matter entirely.

It took several years of research before I fully realized how horribly wrong Dawkins was about virtually everything he’d written in his book as a rant against divine intervention.

I wrote Divine Evolution and especially my book Counterargument for God to explain exactly how I know he’s wrong.

Greg Gutfeld also said,  “Howard Dean is proof that a college diploma doesn’t correspond with IQ.”

True fact. Indoctrination does not create intellect.

It creates a virtually useless form of artificial intelligence.

The only way we get smarter is to read, and then learn to think for ourselves.

A red-faced blue nation

Limbaugh

Recently a friend of mine referred to me as a journalist and a political writer, but I am neither.

Normally I would have been very flattered, if it weren’t for my extremely low opinion of contemporary journalism.

First and foremost, I am a novelist who writes detective fiction. I have also written several nonfiction books, and, of course, I blog here at my website.

The more liberal members of my family seem to think I’m some rabid right-wing Republican who has been brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh.

I do admit that I enjoy listening to Limbaugh’s show occasionally. I think he can be pretty funny, and admire Rush for overcoming some really serious adversity — the total loss of his hearing, and somehow managed to continue his career, with the help of a cochlear implant. I also think he’s very smart, patriotic, and quite entertaining.

But I don’t agree with everything Rush says. Just most of what he says, and practically everything he says about liberal politicians.

I don’t really consider myself a Republican — I’m more of a Libertarian who tends to vote Republican in most major elections, but certainly not someone willing to write checks to help fund the party. Currently, I don’t make enough money that I feel like I can afford to throw any of it away on a political party. After all, my wife and I are about to be hit hard by Obamacare.

I am not a person who refuses to vote for a candidate simply because they are a Democrat. In fact, I’ve voted for more than one common sensical Democrat in my career as a voter. I believe the last one was Zell Miller.

Most of the time, I try to get both sides of an argument  before I form an opinion.

Occasionally, my quest for the alternate perspective on an issue even takes me to liberal outlets such as Blue Nation Re view, where I can get the liberal point of view on subjects ranging from Kaci Hickox to the tragic death of a young girl.

I’m looking for those few opportunities where we can all agree — whether we are liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican or Libertarian.

When I saw that liberal Democrat Sarah Burris wrote this at Blue Nation Review: “We egotistically and selfishly troll Facebook and poke fun at people — or worse, bully them until they snap. We are too often mean. Too often self absorbed.”

Heck yeah! We agreed completely…or so I thought.

I even believed she was right on the money when she added, “[S]o many Americans are extremely fortunate and we don’t even know it.”

Unfortunately, she didn’t stop there. She should have.

Only a few sentences later came this perfect gem of a punch line: “Imagine your child is playing piano one minute and the next day she is dead.  Then you have something really to complain about. Until then, all you teabaggers can shut the f*ck up.”

That insulting, vicious, and arrogant attitude helps me understand why the Democrats were absolutely decimated in the elections two weeks ago, even worse than expected. Ms. Burris should be ashamed of her vile, absurd little tirade.

But she’s a liberal. She’s probably very proud of herself.