Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design, by Gundry, Stump, Ham Ross, Haarsma, and Meyer ★★★★
I interrupted the reading of another book to read this book, as it had just arrived from Amazon. The other book, Darwin Day in America by John West is a book most needed to be written and read by many, and describes the consequences on society of a Darwinian Weltanschauung. I will be reviewing West’s book later, but will suggest that I’d probably give it more than 5 stars if I could. This current book was read as a step back, since its been at least 10 years since I’ve read any texts discussing the controversies of creation and evolution. My interest in intelligent design came in the early 1990’s from the appearance of Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial, and has led me to have an Intelligent Design (ID) bias.
I’ve always appreciated the “4 views” texts, since they offer a discussion in a fair format for letting different views briefly present themselves. It’s weakness is that no view is able to develop itself fully, or defend itself fully. Yet, as this book demonstrates, it gives you a nice flavor of 4 different positions on Creation interacting with each other, and thus of value.
Ken Ham is a young earth creationist. He presents a mostly Biblical argument, supplemented here and there with scientific evidence, that supports a 7 day creation. I have deep sympathies for Ham’s thesis. My main disagreements include the fuzziness found in the Biblical creation language. As an example, Hebrew scholars are unsure as to whether Genesis 1:1-2 is a summary preface leading to the historical account of creation starting in Genesis 1:3, or whether the first two verses of Genesis are a part of that historical framework. I tend to side with the later view, though I won’t discuss the many reasons why I tend to lean that way. It is possible that the world was created with age, as Ham attests. Is that what God actually did? Only time will tell; hopefully, God fills us in on the details in the afterlife.
Hugh Ross has always been appreciated by me, as he writes well. He presents the old-earth view. He does not do an exegetical survey of Biblical creation passages in this argument, but mostly engages in the scientific rationale for his beliefs. The rebuttals were weak, though Stephen Meyer (ID defender) admitted that he had an old-earth leaning, and so had little to rebut.
Deborah Haarsma argued for a theistic evolution stance. Her arguments were quite flimsy when offering a scientific defense of her position. Her Biblical defense was even more flimsy. I believe that Meyer as well as Ross and Ham could have taken her to task much more than they did. Haarsma wishes to have her cake and eat it too. Evolution is unguided mutations leading to advanced biological life forms that God created by not guiding their evolution. Hmmmm. It’s a position that cannot be rebutted because it doesn’t make sense. What role DID God play in the formation of man? The position also leaves one very unsettled with the early Genesis narratives, especially with Adam and Eve.
Stephen Meyer offers the intelligent design arguments. Intelligent Design doesn’t fit the above categories, since it also assumes that you already have a position on young earth/old earth/theistic evolution, and indeed, members of all three of those camps live under the ID tent. ID doesn’t try to render a description for how creation happened, as God never gave us those details. Instead, it seems to be more of a negative argument, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the impossibility of unguided mutations leading to structures. ID actually does more than that, showing that even step-wise mutations would (in the case of complex machines like the flagella) demand thousands of correct simultaneous mutations for that structure to happen. You never see “loose parts” laying around awaiting a future function in a future biological machine. The main counterarguments from the young and old earth camp was that Stephen Meyer didn’t quote enough Scripture. This argument is specious, in that the discussion was NOT to establish the Scriptural grounds for a particular position. In the context of Scripture, ID tends to be strong and without need for defense. This is probably why the young and old earthers rely so much on the literature coming out of the ID camp.
Imagine the complexity of mutations leading to development of new organisms. Based on science, there is no precedent. We just don’t see that happening. Imagine if an organism had a mutation which rendered it superior in survival. This mutation must have had happened in either the gametes that came together, or immediately after the one cell organism came into existence before its first division. After the gonads are developed (which is fairly early in the embryological scheme of things), any further mutations will perhaps benefit the host but not its progeny. So, possible mutations in a species can happen only for a short period of time with a few cells. All other mutations will NOT be passed on to progeny. This means that Carl Sagan’s billions and billions of years are actually seriously reduced. In addition, the mutation cannot run through a “trial” to see if it is beneficial before being transmitted to another organism. Yet, there are other issues. Most genes are not dominant but recessive. This multiplies the problem since then, the mutation will need to have happened twice in exactly the same spot in order for the trait to be manifested. True, the genome has “hot spots” where mutations are more likely to occur. This might seem as a favorable trait for evolutionists, but it is just the opposite, since mutations are not necessarily as free to happen anywhere and everywhere in the genome. I don’t believe that the theistic evolutionists have adequately accounted for all the hurdles that need to be overcome, as it’s not good enough JUST for mutations to happening, even if they are favorable mutations. What about the time argument? All it takes is sufficient time, and anything could happen. In a purely materialistic universe, anything could happen. The entire world could have just come into existence 30 seconds ago, and this chance pop into existence could have born collective memory that misleads us into thinking that we had a history. Hey, if time and chance can explain the current universe, then it could explain anything. The multi-verse diversion (and it is nothing but a diversion) is an admission that there just isn’t enough time. In essence, all the multi-verse theory does is to contribute more time (though happening simultaneous with the current moment) to the equation. I guess that with enough time, even a universe like us filled with Donald and Daisy Ducks could (and will!!!!) eventually occur. All it takes is time and chance and every possible imaginative universe will eventually occur. When an answer actually explains too much, then the answer has failed. That’s my two cents worth, but not covered in the book.
Is this book worth reading? Maybe… It depends on where you are in the Creation debate. If you are new to the debate, just get a book by Ham, Ross and Meyer. I leave out Haarsma because I am still waiting for a credible argument for her position. Read the books, then read the 4 views debate and form your own opinion. My personal opinion is that either a young or old earth position can be true, ID supplements my belief in a theistic creation position, while ID tends to distract me from the theistic evolution position as being weak both scientifically and theological. Hier stehe ich!
By now, most of our friends are aware that Betsy and I have moved to Spokane Valley from our home in Puyallup, WA. We are frequently asked as to why we moved, and as to why we chose to move to Spokane Valley. The easiest way to explain the situation is to run through the history of the move, beginning in early June.
June of 2021 brought some interesting challenges to Betsy and me. I had determined to take off for 4-6 more weeks to get in more miles of the PCT. I was going to resume the hike from two years ago at Walker Pass, and seek to get as many miles as possible for me. The challenges were mounting, as the temperature throughout the west coast was much higher than normal and water was going to be an ever-present concern, especially for the first 40 miles, before I reached the high Sierra. So, with great enthusiasm, I hopped on the Amtrak train and headed out to Bakersfield. When the train reached Klamath Falls, the conductor announced that a fire in northern California had engulfed the tracks and burned out a trestle, so we had to turn back. Talk about popping a balloon! Months of training and no way to reasonably get to the trailhead in the time that my permit allowed. So, I did a short backpack with Sam Flanagan, and sulked. I made a number of suggestions for adventures with Betsy (my best friend… also my wife) but received the same answer back every time. “If we leave now the flowers will die, the garden will die, the grass will die”. “We can’t leave our home!”. Mein Gott!!!!!! Betsy and I both realized that we were prisoners of our home. As our frustration fulminated, we slowly began to think of an idea that had been mulling for about a year now that we were retired. Why don’t we move?
Move? To where? And under what conditions? Clearly, we needed a set of criteria for deciding the conditions under which we would move. It was at this time that Betsy and I learned that our kid brother Gaylon was going to move to Ocala, Florida. Soon after that, my (nearly twin) brother Lew announced that he was flying with his wife Carol to Ocala to possibly lay money down on a new home in the 55+ community called On Top of the World (OTOW). That sounded exciting but Betsy and I weren’t really sure that it would be our style. We lived for two years in Biloxi, MS, and had been to Florida a few times, so weren’t quite as snared by the enchantments of Florida.
Meanwhile, we met with a realtor that we had known from church for 5-10 years, and she felt that we could get good value for our home, but that we needed to reduce the clutter before it would be most marketable. For me, this meant boxing up much of our stuff and getting rid of bad furniture and stuff that was really nothing but junk. Multiple trips to the junkyard were experienced. The stuff of ours that we knew we needed to liquidate but was of high value were distributed among our children in the Washington State area. In the meantime, our refrigerator died, and our microwave went on the blink. We had already ordered nice replacements before we anticipated selling our house. As the time came nearer to having the house on the market, there became a problem of fitting the new microwave into the existing space of the old microwave. We purchased the appliances from Wiers (an awesome company), but the installer, young and enthusiastic but inexperienced dude did a horrid job on the installation. In a last-ditch frantic move, Weirs sent out an experienced installer and with some makeshift solutions, ended up with an attractive installation. We needed our shower glass replaced, and the upstairs bedroom rugs replaced. The bedroom rugs ultimately ended up being replaced after the fact. Meanwhile, we spent the full month of July and half of August doing nothing but packing, working on the house, and preparing the house for a sale.
But, where were we going to move? Options abounded. Should we stay in Puyallup? Should we move to Ocala? Belize? We seriously considered many options. The first option that seemed reasonable was to move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, close to Rachel. Rachel naturally wanted us to move across the street from her in a retirement facility. For various reasons, this did not click with us. We looked intensely at which states are good states to retire in, and the list was somewhat short, the ones for us being South Dakota, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Idaho. Washington actually is NOT a bad state to retire in. They do not have inheritance and other death taxes. Iowa actually was quite low on the list of states that were favorable retirement states. We looked for 55+ communities in South Dakota, of which there were none. We looked for both houses and apartments, as well as what the Sioux Falls community would be like. We were ever so close to purchasing plane tickets to Sioux Falls when the words of my father became loud and clear to me. Our family moved from the midwest to California in 1962 because dad was totally sick of the winters. He had to get out of the midwest. Then, I looked at what old folk in Iowa and South Dakota do in winter. They sunbird to Texas or Florida. I had NO interest in sunbird-ing. So, the Sioux Falls, South Dakota option died quickly. Florida came up next. We examined both retirement communities as well as houses/apartments outside of the 55+ environment. I concluded that Lakeland, Florida would probably be my first choice. There were no choice retirement communities in that area, but there were nice apartments to accommodate us. It was at this point that I realized that the highest elevation in Florida was about 345 feet above sea level, but most of southern Florida barely achieves 50 feet elevation. There were no mountains in Florida. There were not even any hills. Florida was flat and I needed mountains. It just wasn’t the right fit for us.
Texas became a consideration. At this time, we were still thinking of 55+ communities. San Antonio and Austin had some nice options, but something wasn’t clicking with us. We looked hard at Arizona, both in the Prescott area as well as in the greater Phoenix/Maricopa County area. Slowly, the idea of living in a 55+ community with nothing but a bunch of old farts just didn’t appeal to me. We couldn’t do it. But, we realized that Las Vegas had many 55+ community options as well as apartments. Las Vegas seemed like a hyper-sleazy town, but we broke down and went to visit it. This was at the same time as our house was going on the market, so when we returned, we would learn as to whether the house sold or not. Betsy and I were both pleasantly pleased with Las Vegas. Outside of the strip and North Las Vegas, it had a nice feel similar to that of Phoenix or Scottsdale. There were mountains which were beautiful. Nevada was an inexpensive, low-tax state. It all seemed like the right choice, and we located several apartments that we thought would be perfect for us. But, the last day, after we had viewed several apartments, we took a drive out to Hoover dam. It was an impressive facility, but we noted that the level of water in Lake Mead was half of what it should be. The southwest was running out of water! We still had a level of unease about the whole prospect of moving to Las Vegas, though we both were thoroughly impressed with the area and the possible accommodations. Our two conclusions in Las Vegas were that we truly did NOT want to live in a 55+ community and that we really weren’t ready to immediately purchase another home. As the trauma of selling a home became more intense, it only strengthened our resolve to stay in an apartment for a while until we could see more clearly what we should do.
On the plane flight back from Las Vegas, we discussed the possibility of putting down the money for the apartment we liked most in Las Vegas, but I then suggested that perhaps we should check out Spokane. As an aside, two other areas were under consideration. The first was various places in Idaho, but those thoughts were squelched by several issues: 1. Betsy did not wish to live in a remote location, 2. Housing prices were insane, especially in Northern Idaho, which was being bought up by Cafilornians. 3. The Boise area had low appeal to both Betsy and me. The other area under consideration for me was the Reno, Nevada area. I would have loved this area, but Betsy did not agree with my assessment, so Reno was tabled.
Two other issues were of concern for Betsy and me. The first is that we were concerned about finding a good church where we moved. Hopefully, this church would be a church of the Reformed persuasion. There was a PCA church in Las Vegas that Betsy and I attended for the Sunday we were there, but we really didn’t care for it. There was something just not right about it. We knew that there was a CREC church in Spokane, though we weren’t sure whether the Doug Wilson influence would so heavily prevail over the church as to make it an uncomfortable situation for us. I love the fact that Doug Wilson has held his ground against liberalism. I detest that Doug Wilson has what seems to be an obnoxious, confronting personality. The other issue was that of being able to easily travel, especially with a mind toward seeing grandchildren. Both Las Vegas and Spokane seemed to fit that bill with good airports, as Spokane had regular flights to many of the major cities in the western US, and to get to Rachel in Iowa would be easy, as well as the 5-hour drive to western Washington would be to see Jon, Sarah, or Diane.
Arriving home from Las Vegas, we learned that we had an acceptable offer on our home. This put much greater pressure on us to find a place to move to. The inspection report was borderline insane. Often there was no correlation with reality, and often the defects were so poorly defined as to be meaningless. Otherwise, the report requested items like cleaning out the rain gutters which had almost nothing in them. Though I was borderline furious at the inspector and ready to report him to the state, it was explained that this was just the norm for the real estate market. It really should be named the fake estate market, because that’s what it is. Using the realtor’s husband (whom I knew well) we were able to accomplish the various repairs in order to get the house acceptable to the buyer. In the tense days between the offer and final closure on the sale, Betsy and I took an overnight trip to Spokane to see several apartments. The apartments all seemed quite nice but we located one that we especially liked and made an offer on it that day. Soon afterward, our house closed and we were moving.
We left our home a week before the formal closure. My brother Gaylon drove up from Vancouver, WA, and was able to help us load a 20′ UHaul and get everything moved in a single load. Amazingly, Gaylon was able to fill every square inch of space in that truck, we were filled to the brim, barely shutting the truck door with all of our stuff. Sarah and her dear family were able to meet us in Spokane and help unload the truck so that it could be returned to UHaul. A final trip by me back to Puyallup and a meeting with the realtor left us to say our last goodbyes. A large sum of money was soon identified in our banking account.
In Spokane Valley, we now had to create a home. The first chore was to discover the community that we were living in. There was a trail 10 minutes walking distance from our home which followed the Spokane River from Couer d’Alene to past Spokane. Betsy and I took off twice, first walking east toward Idaho, and then walking west toward Spokane. The trail was nicely kept up. Later, I was able to bicycle up to Coeur d’Alene and another day bicycle into Spokane to the Expo ’74 grounds. It was easy to see that cycling was a very acceptable activity in this community, and the potential for going much further afield was there. There are also an abundance of hiking trails in the vicinity. Closer to home, the apartment complex had a pool which we were able to use several times before settling in for the winter. There is a limited exercise facility in the complex which I’ve been able to use at least several times a week. Betsy also signed up for the YMCA, which is only several miles away. There is a shopping mall in the vicinity of our neighborhood, which we recently ventured into. It is big and beautiful, with more shops than appeared on the outside. Indeed, all the shopping, restaurants, and other amenities that we had in Puyallup are also close, but without the devilish traffic issues of Puyallup.
Getting all of our boxes unpacked has been a month-long plus ordeal. Thankfully, nothing was broken, and only several items remain unlocated. We discovered that we simply had way too much stuff. Did we need an extra set of dishes (which we never used anyway) for special occasions? Did we need 20+ wine glasses? Did we need 7-8 cookie pans? The list could go on and on, not only in the kitchen but for every room of the house. Truth be told, it has been a cathartic and wonderful feeling to get rid of all of your junk. We gave away much furniture that we knew would not be necessary after the move, but there was much furniture that we actually needed, mostly for efficient storage. We needed some bookshelves, pantry shelves, a tv stand, and various types of dressers and armoires. All of these arrived by Federal Express in very heavy boxes and demanded hours to assemble. Assembly was easy but took up much time. Once pictures were replaced on the wall and my cuckoo clock hung, it finally began to feel like home again.
Another issue was that of getting reconnected to the world. Betsy and I decided to drop our landline telephone and were able to maintain contact with the outside world with our trusty iPhones. Our only choice for internet connection was through Xfinity (Comcast) which I truly did not like. We did not sign up for extra sewage to come across our cable lines but were able to get our entertainment system rewired, which included a connection via an Apple computer to the broader internet. Lastly, I determined to start up my blog page. Hours and multiple evenings were spent trying to resolve the bugs. I decided to off-load my page to an internet service, which is relatively inexpensive, yet provided a little more protection against data loss. Sad to say, but I had to finally conclude that somehow I lost my entire webpage contents from the past 15 or more years. I’m sure the CIA has it stored somewhere in their vaults in Utah, but I’m not going to bother them to get it back.
The future now sits before us. This weekend will be our first trip back to Puyallup since leaving. We’ll be attending the funeral of a dear friend of ours, Delores Tulfo. We will also be seeing family at the Puyallup Oktoberfest where a friend of mine (Lyle Schaefer) will be performing with his polka band. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to see Dr. Peters as well as to make it to church. In the coming weeks, I will be helping Gaylon move to Ocala, Florida. We will combine that with a trip to Iowa to see Rachel, and will probably report that trip as a single blog entry.
On the home front, we still have many chores. We are still waiting for newly purchased furniture to be delivered, in order to complete the assembly of our home. We would like to get to know our neighbors better. We would like to develop a much stronger relationship with a church. We attended the Christ Church in Spokane and liked it, though there will be much that we will need to get used to. They take pride in their music, though I consider it to be strange, and could be of a much higher quality. The preaching is good. The church seems to attract those with a very specific mindset that is a bit foreign to our thinking, such as them wondering why we are doing what we are doing by moving to Spokane. I haven’t seen much with men’s activities, and the ladies’ activities center around crafts which doesn’t catch Betsy at all. Perhaps it is the church still emerging from the Wuhan virus era. Perhaps. The greatest draw of the church is that it has not given in to the liberalism that is destroying most churches in America. It would be easy for us to adapt to any church including a Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, or generic church, though our heart merges most with those who hold a Reformed theological mindset and where God is truly honored and the Scriptures truly honored.
Winter is setting in, and we haven’t lived for over 30 years in an area where it assuredly snows every winter. Will I take up cross country skiing again? Snow-shoeing? Do I dare ride my mountain bike in the snow, like many do around here? What about the PCT? Can I possibly resume the hike next year? Can I resume at Walker Pass like I intended to do this year? Will I be able to get to know the trails in this area? Idaho has much beautiful backpacking opportunities, but how will I go about getting to know the trails? Will there be backpacking folk interested in joining me? Will Betsy adapt to the area? Will we be able to find activities that we enjoy doing together? Only time will tell. At this point, we are completely happy and content with the decision we made to move to Spokane. We have no clue as to whether we’ll stay here or move on. We are happy that we don’t have the restraining ties of a home to limit our options. Maybe we’ll end up in the flatlands of Florida with a purchased home? Maybe we’ll end up back in western Washington? Only God knows.
One of the last entries of my now deleted and forever vanished webpage was an essay on orthocogy. Since a few people have asked me about this word, it will be one of the blog entry sites that I will attempt to reconstruct.
Orthocogy is a word that I had made up, but is necessary for the English language. It is a composite construction with the first part “ortho” designating that which is true, right, or correct, and “cogy” is from the latin “cogitare” (to think). Thus, orthocogy is the art and practice of thinking correctly. It is intended to complement the words “orthodoxy” – to believe correctly (connoting the correct/true content of one’s believes) and “orthopraxy” – to behave and act properly. Thus is formed a triad of thinking, believing and acting well.
It was Scripture that first clued me to the need for another word in the English language. In Mark 4, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, and he was later queried by his disciples as to the meaning of the parable. His answer was quite interesting. “And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” This suggests that right thinking would have allowed the disciples to grasp the meaning of this and other parables. If Scripture did not record an interpretation, it is interesting to speculate as to how various factions of Christianity would have dealt with this parable. I doubt that none of them would have gotten it completely correct.
There are other Scripture passages that provide an equal challenge, and the reader is often left wondering as to how a consistent theology or ethic would be formed with the passage under consideration. Take for instance the parable of the unjust steward, where a steward in the process of being fired by his boss for dishonest dealings works some shady business with his bosses’ clientele. In the process, Jesus’ assessment is stated in Luke 16:8,9, “The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Clearly Jesus is suggesting that the disciples develop the ability to think through situations and deal wisely with the circumstances at hand.
Orthocogy could simply be called wisdom. The word in Greek is sophia, but the Hebrew word hokmah (חוכמה) tends to have a broader meaning with implications as to general survival in life, including skills, artistic abilities and craftsmanship as well as shrewdness and craftiness in thinking.
So often, the wisdom literature seems to contradict the writings of other Scripture. How often has one questioned statements in the Proverbs or Ecclesiastes as to their ethical correctness? How often has one pondered how the wisdom of the book of James fits in with the doctrines of Romans? A clear-thinking, orthocog person should not have a problem with the wisdom literature, yet how often we need the wisdom literature to allow us training in orthocogy! It is often that the higher institutions of learning best remove us from being able to think with orthocogy.
Make no mistake, orthodoxy and orthocogy are not the same. How often have one seen people of strong faith sometimes make the stupidest decisions? How often do you see the academic scholars of the seminaries make the most foolish political or social judgments? How often has one seen personal heroes of the faith in their worst moments owing to a fogginess in their thinking and inability to act in an orthcog fashion? The most bitter fighting among the most academically respected Reformed scholars leaves me baffled but demonstrates how people could be so orthodox and yet lack orthocogy. For examples, think about Luther’s battles with the Calvinists over the substance of the eucharist, or VanTil’s treatment of Gordon Clark, or Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ treatment of JI Packer, or the general PCA witch trial of Peter Leithart. Politically, I think of Machen’s strange love for Woodrow Wilson, or Doug Wilson’s most obfuscated thinking about Donald Trump. The list could be far lengthier, but I think I’ve made my point.
Orthocogy is a difficult trait to specifically identify, but manifests itself with how well a person is able to conduct himself in the art of living. Orthocogy cannot be measured. It is like humility; the person that claims to have humility is precisely the person that is NOT humble. A person that boasts the ability to think well similarly must be viewed with deep suspicion.
Proverbs entreats us to seek wisdom. Orthocogy is a trait that is acquired with time and diligence. Like the rest of the triad, orthocogy must (of necessity) be in partnership with orthodoxy and orthopraxy. True, there are godless men who possess orthocogy, yet for the Christian man, right doctrine and ethical practice must be simultaneous with right thinking. May we all acquire wisdom, and may we all have a proper balance of good thinking, good beliefs, and good behavior.
Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947, by Thomas Goodrich ★★★★★
This is one of the most challenging books that I’ve read in a long time. It was difficult to speed through the chapters of this book. Each page held the earnest reader in grief and thoughtful reflection of the events of Germany at the end of the war* and the years that follow. This is not a revisionary history of the war; it doesn’t deny the holocaust or wholesale murder of “innocent” Jews. It doesn’t attempt to make the Nazis look nice or ameliorate the evil that they performed. But, it does add another layer to the evils of the war. There is a popular meme that has gone around (attempting to make a joke of the Nazis) with a Nazi soldier asking the question, “Are we the baddies?”. This book helps one to understand that when history is examined critically, it might be hard to know who really was the worst “baddie”. Perhaps the allies were the most morally culpable, explaining why we are now seeing God’s judgment on western civilization. The beauty of this book is that it is compiled of eye-witness accounts of each of the particular situations that Goodrich describes in this book. Thus, the only agenda is the attempt to give an account of the end of the war which also includes the perspective of those of German descent scattered throughout Europe.
Goodrich begins his war accounts with the firebombing of Hamburg. On July 24, 1943, long before Germany had committed any indiscriminate bombing of England, the British engaged in a massive firebombing attack on Hamburg. Before then, targets were selected (especially by Germany) as having military concern, and sparing the general civilian population. Now, the situation had changed, and an attempt to demoralize the general population through attacks on the entirety of Germany, the German public received the most hellish conditions describable to man. The toll of human suffering, of women and children, the elderly and infirm, and even foreigners who were held prisoner or otherwise detained in Hamburg were victims. It is easy to talk about firebombings, but to experience such a thing defies words, where the heat of the attack rises above 1000’s of degrees melting all in the vicinity, where the oxygen is sucked out of air letting victims suffocate should they escape the heat, and where massive windstorms then are generated by the atmospheric conditions. Eye-witnesses describe the horrors of such an event, which sadly the blind eyes of the attackers remain ignorant of. The Allied motives for such attacks were clear, in that their hatred for “Germans” had no bounds (though ignoring the fact that the British King was German!). Churchill and Eisenhower both had an unrelenting hatred for anything German and were not shy in openly admitting this, as is documented well in this book. Thus, it wasn’t the German militia or the Nazis who were the enemy, but the very German people.
The bombing of Berlin was a prolonged matter, as each square inch of the capital of Germany was bombed not just once or twice, but repeatedly, week to month on end, and long after there were no longer any standing buildings or structures. How people survived the bombings and continue to occupy the capital is a mystery.
A greater fire-bombing tragedy was brought out later in the book and was popularized by Kurt Vonnegut, the bombing of Dresden. This time the fire-bombings occurred days on end, and at a time when there was absolutely no strategic advantage to be gained. Indeed, there were large populations of American prisoners of war in Dresden who were also participants in receiving the wrath of Churchill and Roosevelt. Countless artworks and historical works were destroyed in the process. Dresden was not a military city and the west knew that. It was purely an act of blind vengeance and vengeance that someday would be returned on the English-speaking peoples of the world.
While the west was delivering its typical version of hell on the German people, the eastern front saw the Russian hordes pushing back the retreating German front. For the last 700 years the German people have been migrating eastward, much from the invitation of the Russian czar. Now, these ethnic Germans were caught in a life-and-death struggle. The Russians saw these people as no different from the invading Nazis and treated them no differently, even though they were entirely innocent of the sins of the homeland. The millions of ethnic Germans were now being displaced from their traditional homelands. Much of this was entirely supported and financed by the west, through agreements between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt.
The treatment of the displaced German people were as immoral and ruthless as describable. Many were shot point-blank, though that was usually too kind, and prolonged torture was more fitting to the Russian mindset. Women of all ages, from 8 to 80 and beyond, were raped, oftentimes abusing a young woman 20-30 times in a night. Those left to live were stripped of all of their possessions and typically died of starvation. All of this happened under the knowing eyes of Churchill and Eisenhower, who offered no appeals for restraint. Refuges from the east came under attack, and oftentimes the attack was from the west, when the Brits and US Air Force bombed boats in the North Sea which were known to contain only refugees fleeing from Russian hands.
Many military deaths occurred not only from the enemy, but from comrades, and this was true for Germany and even more so for Russia. The Germans wished so slow down the retreat back to Germany, and positioned SS troops behind the front to arrest and often to execute those moving in retreat. Oftentimes, innocent people like messengers moving back and forth from the front became the victim of these SS police. What the Germans did, the Russians did with a far greater degree, numbering perhaps even into the millions, of soldiers who were stalled or moving backward, or soldiers who were suspected of having been captured by the enemy; all experienced the same fate of death at the hands of a firing squad.
The end of the war should have been the end of suffering, yet for many, matters only became worse. This was true both from the west and from the east. Though both the American army and German army had violations of the Geneva convention for treating prisoners of war, Germany did its best to hold to the treaty. Contrary, the facts of the matter and statements from Eisenhower demonstrate a complete indifference toward adhering to agreed-upon conventions. The Nazi interrogators are oftentimes made the brunt of war movies, yet the behavior of the Americans and British after the war, in well-documented instances, make the Germans appear as school children. Starving women were turned into sex slaves for the teenaged American soldiers. The only glimmer of good behavior came from the frequent protests of the Red Cross, and the tireless and selfless work of the Salvation Army. The western allies have not a shred of moral superiority over their German brothers.
It is also noted that the suffering in the east was also in the extreme. The flow of immigrants to the west was greeted by the extreme savagery of the Russian soldiers. Typically, the front-line soldiers would pass through quickly, then the second wave of Russian soldiers coming through would engage in looting, raping, and pillaging in extreme order. Few women were left virginal. Nobody was left unharmed. Following the war, the Polish population then began to take vengeance on the German population that had done them no harm. If there ever was a situation of extreme genocide, it was to the Germans in Russia, Poland, and the Slavic countries. It is said that more citizens perished after the war than during. As an American population, we are quick to divest ourselves of this moral responsibility, yet that is not the case. Goodrich emphasizes time and again how the agreements between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt were such that all the players were responsible for what Stalin did. It is like how we would treat a mob boss who commissioned an underling to perform a “hit” job. Both the underling and the boss would be equally morally charged. Such is true of Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt.
Goodrich details in the last chapter what has been considered the crime of the age, the treatment by the USA and Great Britain in their now vanquished foe. Revenge and vengeance were the themes. This was especially true of the Jews and their bitter spirit of revenge, which persists to this day. It is challenging to make a final assessment as to which nation held the moral superiority. Too often the Nazis behaved better than the Americans. When General Harris of the British Air Force was questioned as to the inhuman savagery of his bombing of Dresden, his reply was that he was only following orders. Seems like a few Nazis also offered that alibi.
Goodrich offers an epilogue that was quite moving. Germany began to rebuild, and in the absence of men, it became the duty of many women to clean up the streets and rebuild the cities. The Allies realized the Soviet threat that was now building and understood that the recovery of Germany would be in their own personal best interest. A German public that could have been justifiably revengeful chose instead the motto “Forget the past, only the future counts”. Meanwhile, their conquerors from the other side of the pond maintained the motto…
They got exactly what they deserved. We felt we were fighting an inhuman philosophy We became a force of retribution I always said that the only good German was a dead one and I still say that!
Goodrich completes the book by requesting the reader to engage in a sobering reflection as to who really held the moral high ground in World War 2. Certainly, one is left with no doubt that the USA or Great Britain cannot make that claim. This is not historical revisionism. This book calls for the act of truly grasping the moral depravity of all sides in the second world war. By not grasping this lesson, the USA is now falling prey to the eventual judgments that will result. I shudder to imagine that someday the US population might receive the same brutalities that we blithely administered to Germany. Pray that God be merciful.
*I use the word “war” in the singular as I consider World War I and World War II as the same (though second) 30 years war that haunted Germany. It was the very poor decisions and attitudes of the west toward Germany after WWI which made WWII inevitable. After both wars, the west’s inability to acknowledge equal responsibility for the war has made the west the more morally culpable for the carnage that resulted.
Betsy and I have recently moved from Puyallup, WA to Spokane Valley, Washington, from the west to the east side of the state. In the process, for unknown reasons, my blogsite deleted itself from my Synology server. I’ve spent countless hours trying to retrieve the data and resolve the issues to no avail. Thus, I will be starting a brand new blog page, beginning on 01OCT2021. I was completely unable to retrieve any of the past pages on my blog site, and that data is lost down the rabbit hole forever. But, I’ll start afresh and not make the mistakes of the past. I will not be administering the blog page through my own server but will be utilizing a hosting site. Hopefully, there will be less data lost and less downtime that is experienced. You should be seeing new blogs in the near future.