Creationists Talk Trash About Libby Anne but Her Response is Fantastic

The Creationists at Answers in Genesis think they know why Libby Anne — who was raised in a fundamentalist family — is now an atheist. Obviously, she just didn’t understand the Bible. Or she attended a secular school. Or she took a wrong turn somewhere down the line.

It’s insulting and demeaning and Libby Anne has responses to all of it:

… if the only way to preserve your creationist beliefs is to not have them challenged — i.e. not attend a college that teaches any contrary view — that says more about your beliefs than anything else. If creationism is true, someone raised as I was should have no problem defending it.

I didn’t “give up.” Rather, I realized I had been wrong. There’s a big difference there. And once I saw that creationism didn’t actually hold water, and that evolution was supported by the evidence, I had the intellectual honesty to change my mind. Why? Because that’s what you do when you realize you were wrong.

… My goal is not to teach [my daughter] to believe one specific thing, but to open her mind and teach her to think critically and come to her own conclusions. Ken Ham and Dr. Purdom, though, refuse to do that. Because, apparently, exposing children to a variety of viewpoints and teaching them to think critically and make their own decisions is dangerous.

I wonder if Ken Ham remembers the little girl in braids who stood in awe in his presence and eagerly asked him for his autograph all those years ago. Probably not. But that little girl, that little girl fascinated by science and ever eager to find truth, she’s still here. She’s just sitting on the other side of the fence now.

It’s a powerful response worth reading in full.

Also incredible is how neither Ken Ham nor Georgia Purdom have the guts to actually link to Libby Anne’s website, as if they’re afraid their followers might — *gasp* — get exposed to new ideas.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Alchemist

    As much as I admire Libby, I think she has it wrong when she says “and teaching them to think critically and make their own decisions is dangerous.”

    It’s not just the critical thinking that is the problem for men like Ham. It’s thinking itself.

  • http://twitter.com/Balstrome Mike de Fleuriot

    And day by day, we slowly but surely are winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the young.  We have great access and better answers for the kids than what their ignorant parents are able to give them.  Thunderf00t was correct when he said that the internet was the place where religions come to die.

    • Ndonnan

      Dont be so sure ,there is all the creationist information on the internet aswell. Because gullable teenagers go to uni and hear something new dont think they wont work it out in the end.Actually if you read creation magazine yourself you might realize just how ridiculous evolution theory is

      • Baby_Raptor

        I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Creationism is the ridiculous claim. 

      • Renshia

         Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. We all know it is easier than thinking. maybe you should look at the evidence and think for yourself. I am sure you will come to a new conclusion.

        But then, Gasp,  you get exposed to new ideas.
        Naw forget it, you might just break something.

      • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

        Forgive me if I use your inability to spell, punctuate and use grammar correctly as a reason to disregard everything you say. Why? Lack of attention to detail and inability to learn how to communicate generally means, in my experience, that you are hardly likely to be in a position to make grand judgments about a scientific theory that has such a massive body of supporting evidence.

        • Shanine

          I;m an aithiest and I don;t sea why NoT spelling or PuncTuating Corrrrrectly should have anyThing to do WIth an argument. 

          Sorry did that annoy you??
          Disagree with what is written not how it is written, it’s people like you who put intelligent creative dyslexics from commenting. I’ve seen the same ‘come backs’ on Christian comments when people disagree with them.  It’s not a valid reason for not listening to someone. Them writing a load of crap is

          • Ndonnan

            Thank you Shanine,Maik is a good example of why atheists are often regarded as arrogant and arent worth responding to. Fortunatly there are enough here who make some very good points that i sometimes find brilliant.There is also a lot of crap spoken in such eloquent terms they should be polaticions, and  despite how they might be amazed at their ability,they are just “polishing turds”

            • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

              I don’t know if you’re dyslexic or not, Ndonnan, but surely you have spell check on your computer? Why not put a bit of effort into making your comments intelligible? At the very least, you might glance up before spelling the word “atheist.” It’s written at the top of every single page.

              • Ndonnan

                Maybe i am and no i dont have spell check and what happened to i before e except after c ????

                • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                  “Atheist” is an exception to the rule. The English language is a tricky thing. Everyone makes the occasional mistake, but communication is a lot easier when people use proper spelling, capitalization, etc.

                • Ndonnan

                  How does one cope with txt [texting]then? Yes it would be ideal and i am wearing out my dictionary so you will all have to cope.

                • Glasofruix

                   You have spell checkers in every modern web browser…

                • Ndonnan

                  Im sure it can do amazing things if only you know how, typeing and spelling are enough of a challenge for now

      • jdm8

        I know someone that subscribes to AiG’s magazine.  I only scanned maybe ten pages, but I spotted a logical fallacy on most of the pages that I looked at.

        • Ndonnan

          You should report those errors to the sceintists who wrote them, they might learn somthing!

      • Patterrssonn

         Yes, magical talking snakes and gods who father themselves, who wouldn’t abandon science for that.

      • TiltedHorizon

         “Actually if you read creation magazine yourself you might realize just how ridiculous evolution theory is”

        “Actually”. No.

        Drawing conclusions about evolution from what you learn in creation magazines is like considering yourself a gourmet after eating mac & cheese.

        It is amazing how often theists defend the bible by claiming atheists failed to understand it yet they put in zero effort into the scientific theories they reject.

        • Patterrssonn

          I think you’re being unfair to mac and cheese.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Evolution is not a theory, it is an observation. The underlying theory is fundamentally based on the ideas first identified by Darwin, although in the finer points, individual theories can be quite complex.

        The basic theories that describe evolution are easy to understand and massively supported by multiple lines of evidence. I consider the failure to accept evolution as a fact to be proof of ignorance, stupidity, or pathological dogmatism.

        It is not possible for a reasonably intelligent, educated person to believe in creationism, or to not “believe” in evolution.

        • Ndonnan

          Thats right ,the foundation of Darwin on which you have built your “observation” is flawed. All your conclusions stemmed from a fairytale.Any reasonably intelligent person would observe cells devolve,we all get to our late teens then we start to degenerate, theres no missing link, the education you recived to become this intelligent was built on a weak foundation.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Biologically, there’s no such thing as “devolution”. Aging of cells and evolution of species are separate things.

            As noted, evolution is an observation. A fact. It is explained by many different theories. The underlying, core theory is that first described by Darwin, which can loosely be called “survival of the fittest”. It is, of course, so well supported by observation and experiment that nobody with any knowledge of biology has any doubt as to its broad truth.

            • Ndonnan

              I think the best recent example of Darwins theory is Starlin and Hitler not to mention Rawanda.A perfect example of “survival of the fittest”and a logical conclusion to a life without God,nothing to lose,no concequences,looking after number 1

              • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                The best you could possibly do would be to come up with an example where someone’s misunderstanding of Darwin’s theory lead them to mass murder.  None of your cases are that.  Hitler in particular rejected Darwin outright.

                Understanding evolution doesn’t lead people to not care about the lives of others.  And nothing about Darwin’s theory says that either.  It’s not about which individual survives, it’s about which genes end up in future generations, which is very different.

                People aren’t psychopaths because they’re atheists, or believe in evolution.  In fact some notable psychopaths have been very religious, and have thought they were doing God’s will.

                • Ndonnan

                  It really is irrelivent how you might rasionalise your belief because we all get to do with it what we will.Whilst most people are good moral people,for some who believe there is no God to fear or acountability after death nor a heaven to aspire to ,then why bother with anyone but me,eat,drink for tomorrow we die. There was a program on tv totally secular about Hitler and Stalin and how they conciously applied the concept of servival of the fittest,they didnt care about genes,they took control.You dont get to make the rules with a theory

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  Hitler was religious. He believed in God and integrated many religious concepts into his politics. It didn’t do much for his behavior, did it?

                  Your idea that it requires a fear of punishment after death to make a person good are long since discredited.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  The same argument has been made of Christians.  Since as long as you’re saved, you go to heaven, you can do whatever you want- just make sure you ask forgiveness again afterwards to keep the gates of Heaven open.

                  I know, you don’t really think that’s how it works, but it makes about as much sense as your claim.

                  Belief in God doesn’t stop people from being evil.  It sure didn’t stop the 9/11 guys.  They thought there were on a mission from God.  It didn’t stop Andrea Yates either.  She thought she was doing her kids a favor by sending them to heaven.

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                Now you’re confusing social Darwinism, a disputed social theory that has nothing at all to do with Darwin, with evolution, which is driven by the preservation of traits present in organisms that survive to reproduce.

                I’m not sure what you think you’re doing in this forum. You’re arguing with people who have a good knowledge of science and who demand rational discussion. You clearly don’t know much about science, and I haven’t yet seen a well constructed argument.

                You’re out of your depth here.

                • Ndonnan

                  Not according to the sceintists i follow , they seem to think your “sceince” is wishful thinking.And really,this isnt a tecnical forum, yes there are some clever talkers here for sure and a lot of waffle so no i dont feel out of my depth by any means, what benafit do you get from everyone agreeing with you???

        • http://www.facebook.com/pascal.redfern Pascal Redfern

          Odd, I was going to say the same thing about creationism, that it is not a theory but an observation. Stranger how we do think a lot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

        Partly true: AIG has a website, with a fairly solid presentation of their position and assorted arguments. And there are others. Both factions have been on the web from fairly early on. There doesn’t seem to have been any major inflections to the rate-of-change curve on irreligiosity or acceptance of evolution at the 1993-1994 introduction of the WWW and massive upswing in public access to the internet. It’s merely facilitated idea dissemination for both sides, to no net change in the balance of social force. (Of course, the pre-existing trend to rising irreligion continued….) 

        However, while not directly informing on the question, the Georgetown/PRRI study that came out last month suggests the New Atheists (or some other recent development) may be having an impact; the fraction of Atheists and Agnostics (who tend to be more accepting of evolution and less accepting of creationism) is relatively abruptly way, way up.

        As Libby Anne seems to suggest, the primary way that Creationists now must maintain their worldview is by selective exposure: not looking at the alternatives as presented by their advocates. But the Internet lets you do that, if you prefer….

      • Glasofruix

         How unsurprising of you, silly me, I thought all this massive evidence supporting the evolution was true. Thank you for opening my eyes, not. Seriously, go crawl back in your hole of ignorance you call christianity.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        God- where human understanding ends and mystery begins.
        Science – expanding human understanding and solving mysteries.

        • Ndonnan

          Science- slowly starting to workout how God does things……………… God-is so obvious,what dont you get?

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            I’m still looking for something that either (1) requires a god in order to explain it, or (2) is better explained by assuming a god was involved as opposed to natural processes.

            Until I see one of those (and so far, nothing comes remotely close), it would be irrational for me to believe in a god.

            • Onamission5

              I’m still waiting for the god-healed amputees s/he promised us in another thread.

              • Glasofruix

                 same here

            • Ndonnan

              Look up  in the sky Mr. Peterson,or better still, look into a microscope,look at DNA as Antony Flew did. Its irrational for you not to belive in God

              • Onamission5

                The sky is evidence that the sky exists. DNA is evidence that DNA exists. No magic, invisible, all watching eyes of doom required.

                Why is it that you are in such a hurry to impose supernatural influences upon natural, explainable events and processes? 

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                I’ll take that response as evidence that you are unable to provide any reason that we need to introduce a god to explain anything we observe.

                • Ndonnan

                  If you can observe anything,it needs an explaination,and the”big bang” really doesnt cut it.To read Pro Stephen Hawking explain the creation of the universe is kind of embarassing ,nothing did,negative energy,quantum machanics,time started at the big bang,a star being sucked into a black hole explodes then is spuwed out of a white hole.No evidence of course just”trust me i know”Billions of stars created all the time but never seen one.And you mock my beliefs

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  Actually, the Big Bang cuts it just fine. It’s an actual theory, which makes testable predictions and which we can (and do) use to understand our environment.

                  Your beliefs do nothing of the sort, so yes, we mock them for the baseless drivel they are.

                • Ndonnan

                  Bazinga Sheldon

                • Xmaximus

                  Evolution is a fact, and I’m a Roman Catholic aka the TRUE Christianity. Do you have any evidence that science is wrong?

                • Ndonnan

                  Of course it carnt be repeated, and theres no evidence

          • Glasofruix

             And skydaddy as a busy superior and perfect being is busy moving tides around the planet?

      • Steve

        I am going to start my own website that will clearly refute the theory of gravity, like evolution, is ridiculous. It’s obvious that everything is held to earth by fairies.

  • mikespeir

    Love her last paragraph!

  • Faithful Hypocrite

    And not only does he want to keep children from hearing opposing viewpoints, he wants to keep adults protected as well. Which is why he tried to keep Peter Enns ( who is a Christian, not just Of the same ilkas Ham) from speaking at a series of homeschool conventions last year. In the end, I believe it is Ham himself who is afraid of actually examining opposing viewpoints.

  • Dan Dorfman

    Those guys are still telling the whopper that the scientific evidence supports a 6 day creation and worldwide flood. They’re not just misaligned with the rails of reality, they’re on a perpendicular track entirely, so the fact that their sham of an opinion article didn’t link to any other resources save their own BS platitudes shouldn’t be surprising.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    An important point to remember when responding to a creationist in a public forum: the creationist himself is intellectually damaged, perhaps beyond repair. You will not convince this person that he is irrational, because… well, he is irrational! So when you respond, keep in mind that you should be directing your words not to the creationist, but to the other readers or viewers of the forum, many of them lurkers. These are the people you have the opportunity to educate, many of whom actually are educable, unlike the creationist, who is likely a lost cause.

    Pick your words, and your style, for the audience.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Arthur-Bryne/100002441143047 Arthur Bryne

      It’s unlikely that any one conversation will trigger a Road To Damascus experience (so to speak). Change tends to come slowly, relative to the pace of human conversation. And, being the particular focus tends to make one irrationally defensive, making it more likely that one can sway the audience easier than the nominal focus.

      Thinking of the person as “intellectually damaged” is probably a strategic error, though. If you control for belief in the Bible, among those who consider it Inerrant it’s actually the more intelligent who tend to be more religious and more strongly creationist.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I agree that no single discussion is likely to completely change somebody’s mind. But a follower of forums where such things are discussed may be predisposed to change, so directing your comments towards such folks seems productive.

        I think considering a creationist intellectually damaged is essential to understanding them. And outside of the young or isolated, who may not have been exposed to alternative ideas, and those with actual mental illness, I don’t think a creationist can be intelligent. The two are mutually exclusive.

        • amycas

          Here I disagree with you. Being “intellectually damaged” and being intelligent are not mutually exclusive. I’m the youngest of four, and the only child to have been bombarded with YEC nonsense from an early age. I have an hypothesis that this is due to the fact that I asked more questions than my siblings did, so my mom tried to find those answers for me. Unfortunately, she didn’t find the right answers. YEC believers aren’t necessarily unintelligent, but most are intellectually damaged.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Well, as I said, I pretty much define “creationist” as somebody who has made the conscious choice, in the face of contrary evidence they choose to ignore, that things were created by some sort of design.

            Intelligence is a complicated thing, and such people may have some good intellectual abilities in narrow areas. But personally, I’d not call them intelligent.

      • amycas

        I used to be a creationist. I believe I was intellectually damaged at the time, not in a mental retardation way, but more in the way that I was taught to think. I literally had to change the way I thought about things when I started to question my beliefs. Teaching children ridiculous things that contradict reality and telling them they must believe it no matter what is intellectually damaging.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

       but the origin of this story is a creationist (Libby Anne) who was willing to be rational, and who did eventually change her mind. She was not a lost cause.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Sure, it can happen. I’d argue that in most cases, however, these creationists are largely that simply because they’ve never been exposed to alternate ideas. That is, they’re ignorant, but not stupid. You could perhaps call them passive creationists.

        When we debate “creationists” in a public forum, it is almost always what we might call active creationists- people who have deliberately made the decision to accept a belief despite the fact that it is contradicted by simple observation. These are the folks who are largely beyond help (never say never, of course), and that’s why I think discussions with them are best tailored for the audience, not the creationist.

  • CanadianNihilist

    I love the “exposed” to creationism but never “understood” it. argument. Like there’s anything hard to understand. GOD DID IT!

    That’s kind of the appeal of it for so many people. No thinking, no questions that can’t be answered in three words and no tricky science stuff to memorize.

  • GregFromCos


    Also incredible is how neither Ken Ham nor Georgia Purdom have the guts to actually link to Libby Anne’s website, as if they’re afraid their followers might — *gasp* — get exposed to new ideas.”

    Many of them do the same thing. They may not say it publicly, but they know what they do is brainwashing. Linking to contrarian views would expose people to the unfiltered view of those who disagree, but it would also more easily show how often they engage in using straw men to refute the oppositions opinions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    I hate the “you just don’t understand” excuse. I admit, when I first became an atheist, I didn’t have much of an understanding about the Bible. However, after gaining a much better understanding, it further cemented my thoughts that it’s nothing more than an anthology of ancient fairy tales.

  • Michael Corry

    Ken Ham has a seriously damaged personality.  If you can bear the nonsense read the accounts of their childhood and adolescence posted by Ham and his brother on the AiG site some time ago.  Pay attention to the way their father behaved both toward his family and toward various hapless pastors and you’ll see quite clearly how Ham’s intellectual train was derailed.

  • Johan

    //There’s a big difference there. And once I saw that creationism didn’t actually hold water, and that evolution was supported by the evidence//

    Wow, by this logic Augustine must be an atheist too since he also rejected creationism, oh wait, I forgot he rejected it for theological reasons long before the modern theory of evolution, so how did we get to atheism from a rejection of creationism? This is clearly a false dichotomy 
    //I had the intellectual honesty to change my mind. //

    The problem is, evolutionists can be just as dogmatic as fundamental creationists, consider the following from Dawkins:  “I will not only explain that Darwin had the right answer, but I will show that he had the only possible right answer.” What evidence could possibly convince such a fanatic that evolution was false?Johan

    • Ndonnan

      Good point Johan,We all have been educated to belive things are true and few will bother to activly test those beliefs,unless ofcourse its to justify a behaviour or position. How many here after reading Dawkins greatest show on earth read John ??s The greatest hoax on earth to hear the other point of view,none im guessing?

      • Ndonnan

        Jonathan Sarfati PH.D

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I have read lots of AiG, and then I look up the same things on Talk Origins.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Sarfati is not qualified, either educationally or in terms of his post educational work, to have an opinion on the subject of cosmology that deviates from the consensus of actual experts.

          Your appeal to authority represents one of the basic logical fallacies.

          • Ndonnan

            Interesting,i must tell him to stop writing books, erh when did you asess  his work,???

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              Do you think he’d listen to you? Because when it comes to cosmology, he’s incompetent, and definitely should stop writing books or speaking on the subject.

              • Ndonnan

                Ha im sure he would say the same to your ilk

                • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                  I hope so. As a professional scientist with a good reputation, it would be embarrassing to have the endorsement of a pseudoscientist who believes in creation.


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