all I know, all I believe
are crumbling images no longer comforting me
this ground is not the rock I thought it to be
thought I was high, thought I was free
thought I was there: divine destiny
I was wrong. This changes everything.
-- Maynard James Keenan
The late fall afternoon is peaceful as I cozy up on the sofa for a few hours of cable television movies. Flipping through the channels, I happen upon a prerecorded televangelist rally. I pause to observe. The small man on the stage shouts into his cordless microphone about the power of God and the salvation of Jesus, stomping up and down the length of the stage, visibly energized by the clamorous feedback of his audience. Although the program is nearing its end I know he has been performing in this manner for about an hour. He concludes his sermon with an emotional prayer backed by a solemn minor-key melody on electric piano. I watch then as hundreds of people stream from the arena seats to the stage, seeking salvation in the small man's invitation to become "born again." There are close-ups of teary-eyed individuals with upraised arms, singing and praying, overcome by joy to have finally found salvation.
Edward T. Babinski
The scene transports me back in time to my mid-teens when I, too, once responded to an altar call in a very large arena. I know what the people on the television are experiencing. I know also that many of them will one day abandon their "salvation."
Fundamentalist Christianity was for me an 11-year ordeal of confusion, self-censorship and self-abasement. After the joy of my initial religious experience wore off, I moved into the modus operandi of Christian fundamentalists everywhere: I shut down emotionally and instead relied on the Bible to dictate my feelings. In Christian fundamentalist circles this is known as "living by faith."
In my mid-20s I experienced a severe crisis which led me to question the wisdom of living in this manner. Over a period of about a year I allowed myself to think the doubtful thoughts which I had been filing away in the back of my mind for so long. I felt as if I was issuing a direct challenge to God himself, and lived in great fear of divine retribution. My doubts led me to discover that it was indeed possible to make sense of life, to make decisions for myself, to set and attain goals, and to know my own heart. My spiritual path forked. Do I remain true to honesty, or true to the faith? I chose honesty. Thus was I deconverted.
For several years I believed my experience to be unique. In time I met another person who had defected from the ranks of Fundamentalist Christianity; then another, and others still. I am now convinced that the number of Americans who have had a "deconversion" experience of some type is much greater than one would suspect.
Deconversion is currently an under-studied phenomenon which could provide an important perspective from which to understand religion in America. The specific psychological, sociological, cultural, and political implications of large numbers of religious deconverts are beyond the scope of this paper. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that deconversion births as radical a psychological shift as the original conversion experience. It is quite enough to impact American culture and religion, just as conversion experiences produce "born-again" Christians who impact American culture in clearly manifest ways.
To understand these questions I turn to Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, edited by Edward T. Babinski. This volume is a collection of 33 deconversion autobiographies from people once active and highly visible within the ranks of Fundamentalist Christianity. These essays give articulate voice to the deconversion process. They are at once diverse and congruous. Leaving the Fold is not intended to provide scientific statistical data; rather, it is an informal survey which provides much useful anecdotal material.
Surprisingly, the testimonies present only two key factors in their authors' deconversions. The first is related to external circumstances, including the behavior of other church members, leadership, or the denomination. The second is wholly internal: church doctrine simply becomes untenable.
The most common and compelling motivation for leaving fundamentalist Christianity cited by Leaving the Fold's contributors is, by far, a loss of personal faith. For the majority, the deconversion process begins with a single question, or group of questions, for which he can find no answer. This pattern emerges repeatedly. It is as if their fundamentalist faith is a large puzzle. Slowly at first, random pieces begin to fall away, creating holes in the overall image. These holes weaken the puzzle structure, allowing more pieces to fall away. Eventually all the pieces fall away leaving the deconvert free of the fundamentalist worldview. While this process is painful in many ways, all the writers consider it to be, ultimately, a great liberation. It is surprising how many of Leaving the Fold's writers consider their deconversion experience to be a "rebirth," or liken it to being "born again."
Another interesting aspect of the deconversion experience is that it is largely involuntary. Not one of Leaving the Fold's contributors relates a process in which he consciously decides to leave the faith with deconversion as a goal. The testimonies are of those who set out to find their answers in an effort to maintain their faith. Only grudgingly did they come to accept that the answers for their questions were to be found outside church doctrine. In various ways each describes how he was forced by intellectual honesty to face his discoveries.
It may seem surprising at first to think of deconversion as an involuntary act. However, I would point out that the initial experience of being "saved" is very often itself involuntary. Converts are generally not provided with all the facts necessary to make an informed decision. Instead, revival meetings and proselytization efforts are engineered to create a specific vulnerable emotional state within the target. The convert is then manipulated into accepting whatever religious message the evangelist has to peddle. Individuals converted by such deceptive methods have not voluntarily chosen to convert; they have been coerced. It is a difficult thing to accept that one has been duped. No one chooses discover that he has been lied to.
Because of their experiences, Leaving the Fold's contributors demonstrate a thorough disgust with Christian Fundamentalism. None view it as a positive religious expression.
The least hostile view its role as a stepping-stone toward greater faiths, such as Dennis Ronald McDonald's essay titled From Faith to Faith and Joe Barnhart's Fundamentalism as Stage One. I found Ernest Heramia's The Thorn-Crowned Lord/The Antler-Crowned Lord the most interesting of the stepping-stone testimonies. His deconversion path led him from Christian fundamentalism into neo-Paganism. I find this distinctly courageous, considering that of all religions, Paganism draws the wrath of the Fundamentalist like no other. In a very real though metaphoric sense, this particular move requires standing up at the Gates of Hell, facing one's demons, turning to the so-called "dark side." Neo-Paganism is eventually where my deconversion process brought me as well. His spiritual path is in some ways quite similar to my own.
Many of the testimonies are openly hostile to the very existence of Christian fundamentalism and view it as a kind of sickness. David Montoya's The Political Disease Known as Fundamentalism, Marlene Oaks's Old Time Religion is a Cult, and Kevin Henke's A Little Horse Sense is Worth a Thousand Inerrant Doctrines portray especially dysfunctional religious experiences. Frank Zindler's innocuously titled Biography depicts a deconversion which propelled the writer into anti-fundamentalist activism. So convinced was he of religion's evil that in 1978 he joined Dr. Madalyn Murray O'Hair "in her lawsuit to remove religious graffiti from American currency." Their efforts were unsuccessful, but to this day Zindler remains a pro-atheism activist.
In all, Leaving the Fold provides a solid overview of the deconversion process and what it means in the lives of ordinary Americans. The lack of data regarding the wider implications is disappointing to the say the least. Until scientific data are available, there is no way of knowing for certain how large a segment of the population has had a deconversion experience. However, the public status of most of this book's contributors may indicate that there is indeed significant impact being made throughout the American religious landscape. For this reason religious deconversion should receive the full benefit of future scholarly inquiry.
Edward T. Babinski, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists
(Nashville: Prometheus Books).
Most fundamentalists regard their faith as the only true form of Christianity. Sociologists like Bryan Wilson, on the other hand, regard it as a sect. Persons from both perspectives would have to agree, however, that fundamentalism is not a religious tradition that can be taken lightly. Consequently, those who leave behind this tight-knit community of faith take a giant step, as editor Edward Babinski, a member of the Furman library staff, himself testifies.
This book contains the stories-- testimonials-- of a variety of individuals who have left the security of the fundamentalist fold to become more liberal Christians, adherents of other religions, agnostics, or even atheists. The term testimonials is the best way to describe the accounts found here, for even those who understand themselves now to be profoundly atheistic use passionate and religious language to describe their journey.
For all who tell their story in this book, leaving the fundamentalist faith involved struggle. For most it involved pain. Yet one ends the book virtually certain that there will be no going back for any of them. Still, some of the contributors look back to their past saying that it was a good place to come from. For them fundamentalism provided a safe haven from more "degenerative pursuits" or ideas. For others, though, fundamentalism was a virtual cult, stealing not only their minds but their very lives.
Babinski's book features contributions from a variety of people, including well-known scholars such as Harvard professor Harvey Cox and writer Sam Keen; Ernest Heramia, an adherent of Wicca; and Mike and Karla Yaconelli, editors of The Door (formerly the Wittenburg Door), a magazine that combines humor with a hard-edged examination of Christianity. Of particular interest to Furman alumni and friends might be the stories of people like New Testament scholar Dennis MacDonald (a graduate of Bob Jones University); David Montoya, who became known in Southern Baptist circles for revealing what he claims were the dishonest practices of Southern Baptist Convention fundamentalists; or Joe Barnhart, author of the book The Southern Baptist Holy War.
-- Helen Lee Turner, Associate Professor of Religion
From: "Harry N."
To: Edward T. Babinski
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2003 9:20 AM
Subject: re: Leaving the Fold
I recently got my hands on a used copy of your book "Leaving the Fold" and have to say it is really an outstanding collection of the experiences of the individual authors. It's also a big plus reading the experiences of people who have spent years studying Christianity and the Bible from all angles and being able to tap into their knowledge. As I've come to learn over the last many months doing my own "seeking", it can be a daunting task to review the historical context of the time, the competing mystery religions etc etc. I think Farell Till said it best in one his debates on the secular web, when he said the average guy in the pew has no idea how his religion came about.
Upon reflection I also thought it highly bizarre that decades and centuries later, many Christians willingly died for their beliefs, yet the apostles all abandoned Jesus at the time of his arrest. I mean, if I had hung out with someone for three years who could perform real miracles like raising the dead, that person would have my unswerving loyalty to the end. Heck, we know of people who have died for their cult leaders throughout time, yet the accomplishments of these cult leaders aren't even in the same league as the "biblical Jesus".
Anyways thanks for a great book..............best regards.............Harry
Protestant fundamentalism claims many converts each year as the devout serve as "witnesses" to draw people "into the fold". This is where the media hype stops. Little is known of the thousands who leave, frustrated, anguished, confused. For them there are no trumpets of glory, no energised fanfare.
No one knows fundamentalism like a fundamentalist, and no one can express what it means to struggle with one's faith to the breaking point, like an ex-fundamentalist.
After presenting a fascinating history of "Fundamentalism's Grotesque Past", this riveting new collection offers testimonies of former fundamentalists who became so disillusioned with their church that they chose to leave. Presenting more than thirty personal journeys, this book gives a clear picture of what attracts a person to the fundamentalist faith and what can drive believers away from their religion.
Leaving the Fold includes the religious odysseys of those who left the fundamentalism behind in favor of atheism or agnosticism, as well as the spiritual journeys of those who remained Christians but backed away from the powerful attractions of fundamentalism. These testimonies convey not only deep feelings and penetrating facts, but the appeal of dogmatic fundamentalism and each individual's struggle to maintain their faith.
Leaving the Fold discusses the fears and dilemmas faced by each person who chose to part ways with the church, their gradual dawning of courage to continue asking questions, and their success in giving their intellectual curiosity the freedom it craves. Christians, atheists and those who may be questioning their own religious convictions will find Leaving the Fold engrossing. This volume also contains a collection of quotations and an annotated bibliography for those interested in tracking down further testimonies.
About the Author:
Edward T. Babinski was the editor of Theistic Evolutionists Forum and Monkey's Uncle.
He is currently on the staff of the J. B. Duke Library at Furman University.
Editorial Reviews from Amazon.Com
From Library Journal
Between an introduction and appendix provided by Babinski, 33 former Christian fundamentalists explain how and why they first embraced, and later abandoned, that belief system. Of these, eight have become atheists, eight (including Babinski) agnostics, one a wiccan, and one a Zen Buddhist; the remainder have remained Christian. Major contemporary religious writers such as Harvey Cox and Sam Keen are included. The agenda here is unmistakably antifundamentalist, and the occasional leak of vitriol does distract. Also, in its ambition to be comprehensive, Babinski's annotated "list of additional testimonies" neglects a distinction between trash and treasure. However, in the main the individual statements and recollections are clearly, thoughtfully, and intelligently presented, and documentation is thorough. For this reason, and because no similar collection of such breadth and depth is available, this work is reservedly recommended as a useful addition to church, academic, and larger public library collections.?Bill Piekarski, Southwestern Coll. Lib., Chula Vista, Cal. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Book News, Inc.
Beginning with an essay titled "Fundamentalism's Grotesque Past," this fascinating collection, written and edited by a former fundamentalist Christian, offers more than 30 personal accounts of former members of the flock who became so disillusioned with their churches that they chose to leave. Organized by the subsequent spiritual choices made by each contributor, this collection provides a revealing picture of what attracts people to fundamentalism and what can drive believers away from it. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
This riveting new collection offers testimonies of former fundamentalists who became disillusioned with their churches and left. Presenting more than two dozen personal journeys, this book gives a clear picture of what attracts a person to the fundamentalist faith and what can drive believers away from their religion. Photos throughout.
Ceationism is merely one issue, July 5, 2002
Reviewer: propa-gandhi from Peeking Over Your Shoulder, USA
According to fundamentalist reviewers like dave---f, the reasons people give for leaving the fold are nonsense. Let dave tell you the REAL reason they leave, i.e., because they "don't like being accountable to their Creator." So if you want to read dave's book it's quite short, but if you want to read this book, written by people who give their first hand accounts of why they left, then you'll have to take a bit more time and effort to understand all the reasons they left.
Dave---f mentions John Woodmorappe's book "Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study" which he claims shows how fallacious and even dishonest all attacks on Noahs ark and the Biblical Flood are. Actually, Woodmorappe's book is full of "could be's" and "might be's" as a means of propping up the Biblical Flood story. And there are numerous in-depth critiques of his book on the web from far more qualified geologists than Woodmorappe. In fact there are plenty of critiques of "Flood geology" written by some of Dan's fellow evangelical Chrisians like Dan Wonderly, Alan Hayward, Hugh Ross, Glenn Morton, not to mention the American Scientific Affiliation that consists of evangelical Christians who are scientists. ...In fact many early Christian geologists are the ones who first rejected "Flood geology" based on the plain evidence of the rocks themselves (the strict divisions in the fossil record -- right down to even fossil fragments and microfossils being carefully separated, even the chalk and coal layers in England not mixing, not to metion the tracks left by live land animals, the nests of dinosaurs with hatched eggs intact inside the nest, meaning it took time to mate, build a nest, lay an egg, gestate the egg, have it hatch, and then on a layer above that, having the same things happen again, and even paleosols [fossilized soil horizons]). The revival of "Flood geology" is a recent phenomenon, spurred on during the early 1960s by Henry Morris's The Genesis Flood, a book with so many misunderstandings of the geological record (the photos of the Lewis Overthrust in that book aren't even of the Lewis Overthrust!) that even Morris's Institute for Creation Research and the staff geologists there like Steve Austin, have backed down from continuing to defend many arguments in that book, from the debunked Paluxy "man-tracks," to the "human skull in coal," even to the Lewis Moutain Overthrust, that ICR now accepts was an overthrust and not evidence against the geologic column.
Dave---f adds his view that "Christianity hangs upon Genesis," by which I suppose he means, "Genesis as I understand it." But that is a matter best taken up with his fellow Christians who are old-earth and theistic evolutionists, who disagree with dave...
Emotional apostasies backed by pseudo-scientific "reasoning", June 16, 2002
Reviewer: dave---f from Brisbane, Australia
The essays in this book are yet more proof that people apostatize from their professed Christian faith because they don't like being accountable to their Creator. Then they find it easy to rationalize and pretend that their rejection of Christianity is because of 'evidence'.
A case in point are the essays giving ... attacks on Noah's Flood and Ark as their 'reasons' for rejecting the Bible. John Woodmorappe's book "Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study" shows how fallacious and even dishonest these attacks are. All the apostates can do is spout on about Ockham's razor (never mind that Ockham was a strong Christian) and fail to address the points or admit the many crass blunders.
But a good thing to come out of this book is how Christianity hangs upon Genesis. It's significant that the many of the contributors are a virtual who's who of the amateurs active in the Internet anti-creationist world. It shows that they need to keep fighting creation to justify their rebellion against their Creator.
Testimony to the Failure of Fundamentalism, December 30, 2001
Reviewer: Kevin R. Henke from Lexington, KY
I contributed a chapter to this book. Some have accused me and the other authors of this book of not having sincere conversions or not wanting to be "accountable" to a "creator." Because no one, including these "know-it-all" accusers, can know the minds of the authors of this book, I will only speak for myself. My conversion and deconversion testimonies in this book are entirely SINCERE. I wanted salvation. I committed my life to Christ and I encouraged others to do so. However, after I read the Bible, and especially the false prophecies in Revelation and the countless contradictions in the Gospels, I realized that the claims of Christianity were false. Also, I could no longer swallow the irrational and far-fetched excuses that fill the "Christian apologetics" literature. As discussed in my essay, the arguments used by fundamentalists are no different than the feeble and subjective attempts by Mormons to defend their "scriptures." The excuse-making of the "apologeticists" clearly violates the Principle of Parsimony (that is, "Ockham's Razor": a principle that now goes far beyond the embryonic thoughts of William of Ockham).
I finally had the courage to stop lying to myself and admit that the claims of the Bible are wrong. Fundamentalism FAILED us. The authors of Babinski's book discovered alternatives, which they found to be more realistic, fulfilling and moral than Christian fundamentalism. At the same time, it's just so easy for fundamentalists to blame the victims of fundamentalism rather than be adults and responsibly admit that there are SERIOUS problems with fundamentalism and its interpretations of the Bible.
My moral life has not changed since I left Christianity, so there's no evidence that I left because of any "love for the world." Indeed, a person would have to be insane to turn down a REAL offer for eternal paradise. I would like nothing better than to have eternal life, but conclusive evidence (some of which is presented in this book) says it's an illusion. Therefore, I prefer to be an honest agnostic with a clear conscience than a frustrated and self-deceived Bible fundamentalist.
Does "A reader" have the real thing?, May 26, 2000
Reviewer: Michael Zanussi from Albuquerque, NM USA
I chuckled when I read "A reader" from Chicago in his/her review ask, "Is it possible that they mistook an emotional or cultural experience for a real receiving of Christ as Savior?" as if that somehow answered why these "fallen" individuals are no longer fundamentalist Christians. I found it amusing because, in fact, I've always wondered the same thing about professing fundamentalist Christians themselves, whether that is the reason why they believe the way they do.
One would surmise from the negative reviews that these former fundamentalists are now heathen unbelievers, but such is not the case, as one would realise had they read the book itself. True, some have become atheists, but the majority of the testimonies presented were from fundmentalists who are now moderate/liberal Christians, or non-Christians (i.e., some religion other than Christianity), or simply agnostic. I suppose it is inevitable that these individuals would come under fire for abandoning their fundamentalist, evangelical beliefs, but isn't that decision between themselves and their maker (if they believe in one)? Who are we to judge them for their decision, their change of heart?
As I see it, this book, this collection of biographies, is a study of the human heart and intellect. These individuals looked at their life, their beliefs, and their world, and decided that they were following the wrong path. For us the readers, it's a chance to see into their minds and understand the change that was going on within them, and ultimately the reasons why they decided fundamentalist Christianity was not for them. Is there something so wrong in that? Can we not learn from these people? Are one's beliefs so fragile that they fear ideas that are polar opposites to their own will destroy their own beliefs?
If that is indeed the case, and if I felt that way, I'd begin to wonder just exactly why I believe the way I do myself.
How Evangelical Christians Rate Books "Outside the Fold", May 11, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Greer, South Carolina
The "Reviewer" who gave this book but one star has either not read it, or, not digested its contents. Like a lot of reviews written by people of an evangelical faith he rates it with only "one star" because he disagrees with its contents on apriori religious grounds and hopes to discourage others from being contaminated by its contents (not because the book was written badly or researched badly or lacked interesting information - it is in fact, written well, researched fastidiously, and contains much interesting information not found in other such works).
Predictably, the reviewer suggests a "better" book that agrees with his particular evangelical faith, like "Why Christian Kids Leave the Fold." Such a "review" is both "sad" and "not surprising," and says more about the reviewer than the book he has "reviewed."
To put what I said above in perspective, even having "left the fold" I, for instance, have not searched for books by Evangelical Christians to give them only "one star" and then suggest that readers would be better off reading "Leaving the Fold" instead. (Though come to think of it, what better way to try and draw attention to books you wish others to read. Though such "non-reviews" are also an annoyance to those of us seeking to gain knowledge from a book review. ...
As for the naive and deprecating comments concerning "people leaving the faith" due to their pursuit of "sinful pleasures," it proves the "Reviewer" never read the book, because he ignores the rational arguments and reasons given by those who left Christianity, moreover, fully a third of the book's testimonies were written by fundamentalistic Christians who REMAINED CHRISTIANS after leaving their "fundamentalistic" beliefs and/or attitudes behind. Neither have "most of those who have fallen away" in the book ever returned to their former "fundamentalistic" ways or views. You can look up a number of them on the web and ask them for yourself. And one of the contributors in this book was Billy Graham's best friend and a former evangelist, whose book, "Farewell to God: My Reasons For Rejecting the Christian Faith" was published just this year.
Lastly, I have read the book the "Reviewer" suggests, "Why Christian Kids Leave the Fold," and I'd like to say that a close friend of the person who wrote that book, whom the author knew to be one of the brightest and most enthusiastic Evangelical Christians he'd ever met, left the fold, never to return. The author's conclusion and embarrassing admission after he saw that happen to such a close dear Evangelical Christian friend was that intelligent and enthusiastic Christians who love Christ, can and do "leave the fold."
(Just to keep the playing field level and "average out" the scoring of this alleged "review," I think I'll give this book five stars.)
Sad But Neither Complete Nor Surprising, May 8, 2000
Reviewer: A reader
This book lacks the proper context about those who abandon a profession in Christ. When many of Christ's disciples stopped following Him, He was not surprised. To the contrary; He gave the following challenge to the remaining disciples: "Will you also go away?" (John 6:67). The Lord never forces anyone to follow Him. Nor is it at all surprising that apostates can often find a fulfilling life without Him. After all, the Bible recognizes that sin is pleasurable (Hebrews 11:25)--that is, for a season. Finally, the book is woefully incomplete in that it totally ignores those who fall away for whatever reason but then return to active practice of the Faith. The book "Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith" is much more informative overall, and especially in regard to the latter issue. Most of those who fall away eventually come back.
Yes Chicago, IL - we are legion., April 10, 2000
Reviewer: Michael from Brisbane, Australia
After reading the reviewer from Chicago, please take the time to read Mr Babinski's full comments. I read a library copy of this book and have now placed it on my birthday list. It's greatest value is for people like me, ex born again Christians. 'Chicago, IL' can't imagine the other side of the great divide you pass through when you 'come out' of Christianity, but WE know and Mr Babinski's subjects do. If you once loved Jesus, worshipped him and shared the gospel with others but now find yourself in a wilderness, take heart! This book is a great first step to discovering 1)You're not alone in this experience and 2)A joyful and rewarding life still awaits you.
Did They Ever Have the Real Thing?, February 3, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Chicago, IL
Various reasons are given for leaving the faith. Some, for instance, clearly bought into humanistic ideas. Others fell into sin. However, most if not all of the authors in this anthology testify to once having "gone up to the altar" and "feeling saved". Is it possible that they mistook an emotional or cultural experience for a real receiving of Christ as Savior? Or, as the Biblical Demas, did they simply fall in love with the world?
OUCH! NOT AT EASE IN ZION, December 15, 1999
Reviewer: A reader from Orange, California
Parts of this book are painful for those of us who are still Christian believers, but Ed Babinski has done a superb job of bringing together a wealth of material and presenting it clearly and efficiently. Not all Christians could read through such a litany of disillusionments without going into depression (just as not all anti-Christians could read through it without gloating). I think this book is too harsh for naive, well-meaning Fundamentalists, but that it contains valuable information for moderate and conservative Evangelicals who care about truth even when it hurts. Mature Christians, seminary students, and seminary professors would do especially well to ponder and discuss the contents of this book.
There are others like me--what a relief!, November 6, 1997
Reviewer: A reader from Greenville, South Carolina
There are other atheists who are former Christian fundamentalists--I am not alone! Some of them had, as I did, ties to Bob Jones University, perhaps the foremost incubator of fundamentalists. After reading "Leaving the Fold," I felt free to talk openly, for the first time, about my recanting Christianity. I even told my family--incorrigible fundamentalists! I am indebted to Mr. Babinski.
MID-TO LATE 1980s
In those years I produced and edited two zines (each of which grew thicker by leaps and bounds, and featured contributions from Dr. Howard Van Till, Dr. Conrad Hyers, Mark Hartwig (of Origins Research), Rev. Robert Farrar Capon, and Robert Anton Wilson; the zines were titled, Theistic Evolutionists’ Forum, and, Monkey’s Uncle, copies of which can be found in the Iowa State Library’s Creation-Evolution collection and indexed in World Cat/OCLC). I also composed my first manuscript, "Does the Bible Teach Scientific Creationism?"
SCHOLARS REVIEW MY FIRST MANUSCRIPT
Gustavus Adolphus College
May 30, 1984
Dear Ed, Thanks for sending your manuscript on creation myths. I have read it with keen interest and found it profitable. Lots of research, well marshaled.
Dr. Conrad Hyers--Former Bob Jones University student who continued his religious studies and became Chair of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College (now retired), author of The Meaning of Creation: Genesis and Modern Science (Word, 1984). Also author of the online article: "Genesis Knows Nothing of Scientific Creationism: Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Biblical Texts"
Dear Mr. Babinski:
Thanks for sending me your book manuscript, Does the Bible Teach Scientific Creationism? I have read it and am delighted because it seems to do the kind of thing that I have been saying for years needs to be done by someone: detailed critiques of creationist Biblical scholarship that parallel the detailed critiques of creationist scientific scholarship that have been produced by the scientific community. Biblical cosmology, as you describe it, is summarized in a diagram in The Interpreter’s Bible and is well known to reputable Bible scholars. But what you have done is to bring together a large number of Biblical and other citations that make it very difficult to shrug this interpretation off as a concoction of 1iberal
theologians, or, indeed, to accept any other conclusion -- and all in a form readily accessible to the layman. At least, so it seems to me... I believe you have written a much-needed resource.
Dr. Karl D. Fezer—Retired professor and author of Scholarly World, Private Worlds: Thinking Critically About Science, Religion, and Your Private Beliefs
University of Denver / Center for Judaic Studies
November 21 1984
Dear Mr. Babinski,
Enclosed is the manuscript you had sent me that I have now read with great
pleasure and benefit. As you mentioned, your approach is somewhat similar to what I had undertaken and, I think, that you have done a very nice job... I congratulate you on a thorough and nicely done job.
Dr. Frederick E. Greenspahn--Judaic studies professor and ordained rabbi, he has said that the purpose of the Bible’s creation narratives is “to interpret the meaning of the universe rather than to make a scientific statement as to its origin or history.” Also author of the online article, “Biblical Views of Creation”
May 7, 1985
Dear Mr. Babinski:
I have read over your ms carefully. I am, of course, in complete agreement with your position on Creation and science. As a Biblical scholar I consider the creationism of Henry Morris and others as wrong; far from being scientific it is a camouflage for the religious tenets of a politically active group of Biblical fundamentalists.
Frederick L. Moriarty, S.J.--Visiting Professor in Biblical Studies
(author of Introduction to the Old Testament)
LEAVING THE FOLD
Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists, Ed., Edward T. Babinski (Prometheus Books, 1995). One county library received complaints and removed the book for review, but later placed it back on the shelves after no complaints were voiced at the review meeting that had been advertized in the press. I was phoned by a South Carolina public radio news person to make a statement concerning the attempt at library censorship of my book by residents of the aforementioned county; and two front page local newspaper articles carried the story regarding the “Controversial Religious Book Banned in Anderson County," as did a national censorship watch group.
I hate you.
I sat down with "Leaving the Fold" last night at 9:30. Before I knew it, it was 2 in the morning! And I had to get up at 6!
Thanks a lot.
verrrrrrrry interesting. A lot of quite amusing anecdotes.
I'm amazed at how similar your and my own "testimonies" are. We're about the same age (I graduated high school in 1976) and I recognized all those same authors and books that were a part of your (and other peoples') early Christian development.
Mr. Babinski: I read your book and found it very entertaining. Do you by chance have an email address for David Stamos, the ex-New Apostolic Church member? Thanks,
Mr. Babinski, I read your book, Leaving the Fold, two years ago. Your book was the beginning of my exodus from fundamentalism. I have always wanted to thank you.
Hello Mr. Babinski, I happened to find your book, _Leaving the Fold_, on Amazon and recognized your name. I wrote you some years ago when you were editing your evolution/creation newsletter. At the time, I was a strong believer in creationism, and with the arrogance of my (relative) youth, thought I could take you on in argument. You sent me an envelope full of stuff I just couldn't answer.
As a result, I am an ex-creationist, although I still remain unsure about a lot of things. But then that's partially what life is about, yes? Learning to live with a certain amount of ambiguity and uncertainty without becoming a raving dogmatist. And it is just this that fundamentalists can't seem to grasp… Anyway, thanks for opening my very closed, insecure mind.
Having just purchased Babinski's book, "Leaving The Fold" just a few days ago, I noticed that the creationist webmaster, J. Scott, who had tried setting up an alternative to the talk origins archive, is displaying the classic characteristics of one who's doing just that, leaving the fold. Clearly, he's still in a state of confusion. As I said before, we should leave him alone for a while, and watch him carefully to ensure that all of this isn't just a bluff. Time will tell.
[Time did tell, J. Scott left the creationist fold, here is his testimony]
By the way Ed, that is one great book. It's downright spooky.
[The same kind person, above, sent me the email below. --ETB]
Hi Ed. I love your book. Are you considering a sequel? I notice your book calls testimony a powerful force for those leaving the fold. But don't you feel that folks in your book also want to give their testimony so they could at least attempt to come to terms with why the did what they did and why they thought what they thought? I know that I'm haunted by my religious past every day. If I were to write my own testimony that would certainly be part of my motivation. Anyway, congrats on a great book.
Pacific Northwest Skeptics
I read Edward Babinski's "Leaving the Fold", and the testimonies in that book were compelling. (How shocking it was for me, with my Calvinist training, that people really "lost" their salvation!) I had to admit eventually that I no longer believed all the fundamentalist doctrines about hell fire, Biblical inerrancy, wives submitting to husbands, etc.
I stopped attending my church a year ago. It was hard: I still have friends there, and much of my Christian life was marvelous... When I was a young believer it was so exciting to hear Bible doctrine and to witness to others. As I grew older I stopped witnessing, and those previously exciting Bible stories seemed boring.
Right now I'm somewhere between being a liberal Christian and a secularist. Who knows how it will end up? I'm in no rush to come up with the "right" answer. I can't deny that when I was born again my life immediately changed, but if that was the Spirit working in me, then the Spirit seems to have given up on me in recent years.
Ed, I have written you once before congratulating you on your superb book of testimonies.... Do you have any more papers on creationism or ex-Christian stuff?
Mr. Babinski, Thanks for the list. I'll look into it right away. By coincidence I just today finished your book "Leaving the Fold". :)
Hi Ed, and thanks for the response. Yes, I have read "Leaving the Fold", and need to read it again. Unfortunately, I don't have complete freedom to explore materials of that type due to the extreme amount of discomfort it generates for my dear wife..... Although not a fundie per se, she has definite leanings towards it. Right now, she's deep into the "Left Behind" novels, etc. Thankfully, I don't get preached at, she's not that kind. Her concern is totally based on the fear that I will one day step out too far onto the path ending at Hell's gate. In her defense, if the situation was reversed, and I was leaning toward religious fundamentalism, or toward fundamentalism of any sort, I am sure I would not be near as subtle as she has been... She has a deep need to be "in church", and the last 4-5 years have been very difficult for her. Formerly, our social life TOTALLY revolved around the church, we were church leaders, choir members, etc. As I recall (after reading "Leaving the Fold"), I had hoped at some point to be able to have some person to person dialogue with you. I'll be a little reticent to talk about certain things in the ***** forum [I deleted the name of the forum for this person’s privacy—ETB], it's a little too public! If (and only if) you are open to it, I would welcome some direct conversation between us.
I would love to take a peek at your upcoming Chicken Soup for the Damned Soul manuscript, at your discretion.
[This kind person also sent me the message below.—ETB]
My, my, how the coincidences continue to stack up!
I was just perusing your "Chicken Soup For the Damned Soul" manuscript that you sent. Sorry that I didn't acknowledge the receipt earlier--this mail comes to work, so I don't have to worry about worrying my wife with any of this stuff...
The chicken soup manuscript is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing!
You've obviously spent considerable time on this project. Maybe one of the best plusses for me is the list of additional resources you've tacked to the end.
While the wife was out shopping (and I was brewing a batch of beer) on Saturday, I had a chance to sneak another peak at the "Leaving the Fold" book. We definitely have some common past experiences though you are more well read, and a better researcher than I am! I had been thinking about some of the things I wanted to "bounce" off of you, and a couple of them reared their ugly little heads in your manuscript. While involved in the Pentecostal church I read/studied extensively with some of the following material/authors/historical figures: "Caught Up Into Paradise" by Richard Eby, Smith Wigglesworth, Jack Van Impe (you name it - Revelation Revealed, etc.), Grant Jeffrey (heard him speak several times and bought a bunch of books/tapes - the Pastor of the A/G church we were going to had performed the marriage ceremony for Grant and his wife). It is astounding to me considering the fervor and volume of material that these folks pump out, that there isn't anything you can seek your teeth into! How can people write stuff like this without there being any beef in it? As a starry eyed fundie, you just accept the stuff "on faith" because that's what you are conditioned to do. The fact that a sincere and (supposed) expert is telling you that "the end is near" makes it all but impossible to deny... I was convinced that the ark of the covenant was about to be revealed any day to the modern world, according to Jeffrey. I was convinced that the tribulation was right around the corner according to Van Impe. I was sure that God could still do miraculous healings like the ones attributed to Smith Wigglesworth... And then there's all the 700 Club junk reporting healings during prayer, Pat Robertson mania, and Focus on the Family trying to take over the political world.... the volume is deafening to say the least...
And yet, we reach full circle again from my original post to the **** forum: the expectations simply don't match up to the (boring) day to day reality... and the fundies like to talk about non-believers being "blinded by Satan"?!? Then what are they blinded by? If all this stuff is happening and is REAL, there ought to be boatloads of incontrovertible evidence! Not emotional stories, but hard core see-it-for-yourself results. You mentioned Benny Hinn in chicken soup... I was completely offended at the one and only "crusade" we attended. This was right at the time when my cognitive dissonance was first emerging. The whole thing was ridiculous, even from a Pentecostal perspective!
My dear wife is convinced that people like the calmer non-Pentecostal preacher, Charles Stanley, have all the answers. What's worse, is that I was the one that prayed with her to "receive the Lord." I'm not sure what that means any more... She always looked to me to provide spiritual direction, and my doubts and re-evaluations have thrown her for a loop!
She agrees that there is room for doubt--she herself has taken a peek at some of the "heretical" literature I've looked over, including "The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read". I have decided NOT to be an anti-evangelist--she needs to come to her own conclusions.
Peace and Long Life,
Mr. Babinski, I read "Leaving The Fold" a couple of months ago and found it extremely helpful and fun to read. I want to personally thank you for putting together such a book. What do you do these days? Write, lecture, or teach? Thank you for your time,
Hi Ed, I received your book last night and I really like it. Naturally, I jumped right to page 206 to read your testimony first. I'm now an expert on you. Feel free to ask me anything you might want to know about yourself. And I know you said that one atheist reviewer didn't like your notes but I think your notes are great. They're so meaty you could probably put them in a separate book! Personally, I always enjoy reading an author's notes. Author notes are right up there with bibliographies on my list of what attracts me to a book. Of course, what the book is actually about is also important. If your book had been about cheese mold I don't think notes and a bibliography would overcome my basic lack of interest in such things. I really enjoyed reading your testimony and I think it is a good mix of story and information. I didn't just learn about you, but I also feel that I got a mini education in biblical criticism. I think that's a very effective way to teach. Have you ever thought about teaching?
I'm sure I'll have more comments and questions later, but for now I'll just say that I'm very impressed and I think you've done a good thing for the world by writing that book.
Hi Ed, I'm thinking of putting together a 6-8 wk workshop on leaving fundamentalism. I'd prefer to have handouts to expose people to books like yours. Could I have your permission use your book in class, and to perhaps photocopy a short piece from it? I would certainly talk it up, and suggest that people buy it. Also, do you know of anyone who is doing anything similar? Might you have suggestions for a syllabus? How are your projects going?
Hi Ed, I have almost finished reading your book and want to commend you for a job well done! As one who has left evangelicalism himself, I am encouraged by reading the many stories. Currently, I am in a period of transition, not knowing exactly where I will end up. Your own story is very interesting, and I find your agnosticism optimistic.
I do know that I want to challenge evangelicalism, if for no other reason than to protect people from its abuses. I've emailed you before about how I might get the message out there, and you had mentioned that your book had sold only about a thousand copies. [Over 2500 copies sold by 2005, but not sure what the numbers are since it went paperback. Though there are now four different books titled, “Leaving the Fold” at amazon.com—ETB.] It seems the written media does not provide a lot of coverage, at least in book form.
What about radio? I have six plus years in media (local host of a public access TV show called Life Issues) and can articulate my views well. In fact I was told recently by a leader in the Conservative Baptist Association here in the Northeast that I am very persuasive. He said it negatively. I took it as a complement. Anyway, I would love to tell my story over the airwaves. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them.
Dear Dr. Babinski [I am not a doctor. That’s perhaps what people think of when they imagine authors of books on religion or science.—ETB], I heard of your book "Leaving the Fold" (Prometheus Books 1995) from Glenn Morton during a discussion on the ASA. Would you be so kind as to sell me a copy? Please let me know what your price is and cost of postage.
S. D. Olsen Ph.D
Ed: I read about your book, "Leaving the Fold," at amazon.com, and feel it will be a very good one for me to read. It sounds like we have a lot in common as to our respective fundamentalist pasts. I too spent about ten years in zealous leadership and apologetic ministries (having come out of 15 years of drug addiction); and I too finally became very disillusioned. I still seem to bounce between guilt, anger, and apathy regarding having left the church; but peace I have not yet found. I look forward to reading the book.
[This kind person later sent me the following email.—ETB]
I just wanted to drop a line to let you know that Leaving the Fold arrived from Amazon.com today. As promised, I will get back to you after reading it. I may be of some use on your next work. I still consider myself a Christian, but I don't think Jesus fits into the modern church that bears his name any more than I do.
Hi Ed, Thanks for the info. I'll get a copy when I return home from my present trip.
Atheists for Jesus
I look forward to reading your book.
Professor Mark Noll--Christian historian and author, Wheaton College
(Billy Graham's Alma Mater)
Dear Edward, I recently read your brief story on http://www.infidels.org/. It very nearly parallels my own… Thank you for sharing your story… There are so many of "us" out there with stories to tell... both the joy and the pain of our experiences with restrictive religions. My son in law is an ex Catholic priest... now an Episcopalian priest, but very progressive (as much as you can be in any organized group) I keep pretty quiet about my own views... not many I know share them. I still have some anxiety and related problems from my experiences in the church, but I am working hard to remember who I was before I gave up so much.
Thanks again for the note,
Hi Ed, I read your condensed "leaving the fold" testimony on the internet, but haven't read your book yet. I will check at the library to see if they can get a copy... By the way I am a former fundamentalist minister, who graduated from Bob Jones University (not far from Furman University) with a Masters in Christian Ed. I self published a little book about my experiences... [Escape From Depression by David Goliath, ISBN 0-936407-02-6]
Ed, I hope you persist in looking for a publisher for your second book because I'm sure it is only a matter of time and effort to get your manuscript published. I don't know that I have read anything quite so helpful as your quotes on ending the fear of hell, Satan and of making the wrong wager. I'm many years out of fundamentalism but still have lingering irrational doubts on occasion in spite of knowing how illogical and impossible these teachings are. I have saved what you wrote to read at such times.
Hello Ed, I was researching articles on the Internet regarding Christian Fundamentalism to help a friend who is conflicted. I spent 6 years in a Southern Baptist church before I left several years ago. You have a wonderful website and I thank you for all of the information you have compiled. Thank you once again for your terrifically informative and helpful website. God Bless you and your family.
Ken's deconversion testimony is probably the most captivating, sincere, detailed, and dramatic I've read. He even mentions reading your book! If you ever write a second edition for your book, Ken's would make an awesome addition.
Dear Mr. Babinski, Thank you for your website. [I deleted her lengthy and personal testimony about coming out of an Orthodox Jewish fundamentalist background.—ETB] Wow! Thanks for all of those leads. I will be looking into this with much vigor. Your time and effort is most appreciated. If appropriate, I'll let you know if I discover anything noteworthy. I look forward to purchasing your book.
Ed, I started reading your book Leaving the Fold this week, and I have to extend a GIGANTIC thank you for writing and getting it published! [I deleted her discussion of the fundamentalist mindset.—ETB] Thanks so very much for being bold enough to put it out there. I can just imagine the hate mail you must get! So count mine on the good stack. :) Thanks for the recommendations for additional reading--I'll definitely look into it. I have to share one experience I had recently with you! I'm a member of an online community, in which there is one zealous born-again who never hesitates to spew quotes and 'absolute certainty' at every turn. I
happened to mention offhand to the community that I was reading your book, and provided a link to it on Amazon.com.
They replied: "They were NOT Christians! They never knew Christ!"
I didn't respond. Partly because I don't know what to say other than, "Define 'knew'." Normal logic just doesn't work, and I don't know if I have the energy to talk to these nuts, or if it's even worth my time! It's almost like they are alcoholics, but with the Bible. Like it's a vital crutch which they can't live without. And once they start on it, they can't stop.
What started my interest on this topic was my missing my sister. [I deleted her personal discourse about her sister—ETB.]... I think I can understand evangelical folks much more compassionately, given those explanations that you [Ed] provided…I don't want to destroy the framework of living that my sister has become so comfortable with. However, I hear her echo the same feelings about missing her sisters and family. I also have two other sisters who don't share her religious excitement. Maybe it's her attachment to it that she feels when she says she also misses us, not only b/c we will be "gone forever" when we die (since we're not in the fold), but b/c of what she would have to give up to be "accepted" with her original family again. It must be a very tough position she's in to feel like she can't have both her families! :(
…And quite honestly, I have no problem whatsoever with people who need and have religion in their lives. I'm just tired of having the agenda shoved down my throat. I do wish there was some middle ground, as you say. What I wouldn't give just to have a conversation like this with Judy!... In some weird way, I'm reassured that no one can really force anyone to feel or think a certain way, and now that I have better insight into how they view things, it's not necessary to be threatened or defensive always. Just sometimes. :D Thanks for taking time with me.
Ed, I came across your Web site while doing a google search for a supposition of mine about a self-fulfilling prophecy of the end times, and I must say that, as someone who groveled in Christian fundamentalism for ten years, five of them as a dyed-in-the-wool deacon, I find your research and observations to be a much-needed breath of fresh air…[Deleted exegetical comments.—ETB] Speaking of the Bible’s alleged predictions, especially regarding Israel, you stress that they are self-fulfilling. I agree…[Deleted exegetical comments—ETB] I appreciate your consideration of my questions. As for myself, I wouldn’t say that I have necessarily rejected my beliefs. Rather, I would say I rejected my former dogmatic interpretations of those beliefs. People can legitimately and sincerely understand and approach God in their own unique ways according to their culture, customs and traditions. But when people consign others to hell for not agreeing with their specific and exclusive views of God (which ironically also happens to be the case within Christianity), the God they believe in is certainly neither a God of mercy nor a God of unconditional love.
Thank you, and God Bless!
Dear Ed, As you can see, I work in a library, too. What do you do in yours? I just came across "Leaving the Fold" while I was weeding ("Leaving" stayed, no pun intended) and snapped it up to check out. Wow! I could have easily written one of the "testimonies" and I laughed out loud through some of yours. It is so the way it was in places with me. Hal Lindsay and everything. I graduated from a fundamentalist church related college in the 60's, so the opportunities for questioning were limited, but I did take a class on the Life and Teachings of Christ where the teacher talked about opposing viewpoints and left the conclusions up to us. That was mighty liberal of him. It did make me think, and through the next couple of years and getting married and having our first child, I had some serious doubts about my beliefs. But then I did have that little girl, and about the same time picked up a copy of "Late Great Planet Earth" and was sucked very deep into all of it again, mostly on emotion and need to find answers for a number of less than ideal aspects of my life.
It wasn't until about 10 years ago when various and sundry things took place in my life that I once again allowed myself to back away and take a better look. None of the things came to pass as I expected for remaining "faithful" through the years. So, here I am, a former fundamentalist, an agnostic, but a practicing Episcopalian (which participants, by the way, do drink out of the same communion cup) finding much needed spiritual community after being non-churched for several years and making a move cross-country. It is okay to be a skeptic in the Episcopal Church, and I find comfort in the sacraments and old Christian symbolism. Sometimes I truly miss the traditional Evangelical music (which really doesn't exist much anymore what with the new fangled mega churches and their media praise displays) and devotional emphases. But all I need to do is remind myself of the many "anti" positions of that genre of faith, and I know I can never again be part of something that narrow and scary. I didn't mean to make this lengthy. I just wanted to say thanks for helping people like us to know there are others and suggesting some intelligent ways to deal with it.
Hello Ed! I just wanted to tell you, though I'm sure I'm not the 1st to do so, that your page is amazing!! I even had to pass it along to the members of my web ring and my friends. Thank you and your wonderful webmaster for putting what must be a large amount of energy into this website.
Ed, Thank you profusely for your thoughtful and purposeful work in the area of working toward a meaningful view of the individual's place in this world and this life. The service you are rendering is worth more than I can ever repay.
Ed, Fantastic articles! I'll definitely be linking to your site. Now get crankin' on that second book. I'll be the first in line to buy a copy. Consider selling a limited number of autographed copies for devoted website fans.
Dear Ed: Thanks so much for actually taking the time to reply. I had recently come across your site as I was researching fundamentalism. My background was in the charismatic churches (Vineyard, Calvary and similar small groups) via the "Jesus Movement" of the 1970s. I came to Christianity through a former high school teacher-mentor-friend after my mother had died of cancer when I was 15. I was persuaded by my very intelligent and charismatic teacher (a Jewish convert to born again Christianity) and became a Christian at 17 and had a somewhat on again off again involvement with the charismatic churches amidst many moves about the country until about 1990.
In the heyday of shepherding I had on a couple occasions been "rebuked" for my "resistance to authority, self-will, independence and rebellion," and general "ambivalence" about God and Christian ministry in general. Not to mention being told I asked too many questions and thought too much. Something I am quite proud of in retrospect.
I did not leave Christianity so much because of exhaustive apologetics research but the moral failures and "shepherding" abuse of the mentor pastors I was involved with, which led me to think, there's either something wrong with this religion or the teachers of it. That subsequently led me to apologetics and "discernment ministries" on the Internet -- all in the desperate hope to salvage what little faith I had. But the discernment ministries only led me to conclude that it must be by the luck of the draw that any body would be born at the right time and place and get the doctrinally correct version of the gospel to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Didn't add up with a God that desired that none should perish should also make it so difficult to find him...
The doctrines of "spiritual warfare," explanations for the problems of evil, suffering, death and hell seemed in the end untenable and certainly logically inconsistent with a loving God. The theodicy problem certainly continues to be a problem to me.
On the other hand I agree with the associated feelings you mentioned when you finally let go of the faith. [Deleted additional comments.—ETB]
I'll definitely be checking out your book.
Can't say as I would want to stick my neck out on the Internet the way you have. But I am glad you did. I would hope that true Christians would be able to understand the issues you have grappled with rather than judge you by what they perceive or misperceive your motives to be. Thanks again for writing!
Dear Ed: How extremely refreshing is your website and your book. I encourage you to circulate your ideas as widely as possible… Your message seems to be very gentle, loving and non-threatening (as was the true message of Jesus) and the true kernel of truth to be found in most of the world's religions.
I believe the true message of Jesus was completely at odds with that espoused by Evangelists. In fact, Jesus has no doubt been appalled at the death and destruction done in the name of Christianity throughout history. [Deleted additional comments.—ETB]
...An important insight came from Ed Babinski (thank you very much, Ed), who told me that religious beliefs can be internalized to the point that to attack them seems to be a personal attack; the defense is therefore not of a belief, but of the person defending their very selfhood, who they are. I hope I got that right. So by staying impersonal, when that is possible, I can make valid points and still avoid acute angles (pardon the geometry metaphors, "points" and "angles").
MID TO LATE-1990s to 2005
In those years I produced a new zine, "Cretinism or Evilution," that the webmaster of the Talk Origins Archive heard about in a forum and asked to see copies of, and then asked if they could feature the issues digitally at their website.
Jeff Lowder of the Secular Web asked me to critique chapter 12 of Josh McDowell’s, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, "The Uniqueness of the Christian Experience." I contributed additional articles to the Secular Web, the most kudos going to one titled, "The Lowdown on God’s Showdown." The Secular Web created an "Author Page" for me in their "Modern Library" section.
One day a delightful woman, Sharon, who is a gifted website creator (and a former member of a fundamentalist religious group) googled up a post I had written somewhere on the web on cetacean evolution, and found it so interesting and apropos of the questions she had been asking that she contacted me and insisted we expand the post and add photos of modern whales with protruding hind limb rudiments, and solicit comments from leading cetacean evolution researchers. The enterprise was successful, after which she volunteered to fill several websites with any articles I may produce.
Ed, I just came across your "most provocative things" page at the talk origins archive while searching for the keywords "Darwin," "theodicy" and "wasps".
I read every entry.
Thank you for your excellent contribution to the intellectual commons.
Mr. Babinski, I am a freshman at the University of Wisconsin. I am writing a paper on the comparison of evolution and creationism. I stumbled upon your website and found your section on "Why we believe in a designer" to be quite interesting.
I plan on using it in my paper (with proper citations of course!).
[L. Wenke was a young-earth creationist in college and had created a website to battle evolution. Below is L.'s letter to Answers in Genesis in which he mentioned my name and the influence that a packet of geologist's reports I sent him on the Green River formation, had upon him. Sarfati of Answers in Genesis wrote L. a long letter urging him to reconsider the fact that what had been sent to him in that packet of materials was from an "apostate," and should not be heeded, only the word of God should be heeded. But L. refused to listen even to his former hero, Jonathan Sarfati of Answers in Genesis.]
Dear Answers in Genesis, I see you have a link to my creation-evolution website, "Dirt or Slime?" on your "Noah's Ark Site Chronology" page. I just killed that site today, so you should take that link off, because my pages no longer exist. About 2 months ago I became convinced that the earth is millions of years old by the Green River formation. I was sent material from a former young-earther (Ed Babinski) which included responses from creationists. Your article in Creation magazine raises no further evidence. Except that a hurricane left 6 inches of deposits. The formation is several hundred feet! It has dark and light layers and there are even layers with animal tracks and thin volcanic ash layers. There are 6 million layers and I think that means a layer every second or so, across many miles, if the Flood was true, etc. An old earth makes a lot more sense...