Category Archives: Culture Warfare
No matter how well a person states something, no matter how eloquent, mild mannered, and straightforward they are, religious drones will find some way of belittling and warping the initial message. Promoting a reverence for Christianity only protects Christians; promoting freedom of speech protects everyone. But some Christians miss this point entirely and criticize writers like Philip Pullman for writing an “offensive” book they don’t have to buy or read. And then some of them sometimes ask why Western atheists don’t speak blasphemously of Allah, too. What’s most disturbing is the envy that question betrays.
All the graves of US Confederate soldiers have opened up, and the evil dead are walking among us in the form of revisionist amateur-historians. For only a mindless corpse could make the case that the American Civil War was fought over states’ rights. Here’s why –It’s an undisputed fact that leading up to the Civil War, the slave states demanded, in no uncertain terms, that by law all slaves that runaway to free states ought to be forcibly returned to their masters; it was a major issue leading up to the war. The slave states argued that states ought to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to participate in slavery. And to this day Confederacy sympathizers attempt to fight the Civil War for a second time by saying that it was really all about states’ rights, and not so much about that pesky side-issue called slavery. Bullshit, I say.
The difficulty with this most hypocritical of arguments is that for slavery to have continued, the free states would have had to comply with the returning of runaway slaves, which is an act of slavery in itself. But how can a state have a choice if it is forced to participate in an evil it wholeheartedly rejects?
Do you see the contradiction? The South was happy to use the states’-rights argument when it worked in its favor, but when it was inconvenient it insisted that the law compel the North to participate in the horrors of slavery. You can’t have it both ways. Either a state had the choice or it didn’t. What the South really desired was that all the states abide by the tenets of slavery, which wasn’t going to happen, hence the inevitable war. The Union either had to consist of all free states or all slave states; it could not exist peacefully as a combination of both.
I recommend everyone read The Causes Of The Civil War (edited by Kenneth Stampp), a wonderful little book of essays, which chronicles the politics preceding the war.
Anyone interested in paleontology, rational thought, or the scourge of creationism might want to read the transcript of an interview with Per Ahlberg, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University in Sweden. His straight talk and wit are refreshing. Here’s a sample:
I think mainstream science has a duty and a responsibility to expose creationism and ID for the pseudoscientific frauds that they are. This is something quite different from engaging them in debate, the way you would do with adherents of an opposing but conceptually sound scientific viewpoint. Scientists must expose them simply because they are frauds, and it won’t do to have large parts of the population bamboozled by the lies and misrepresentations of charlatans… Note that there is an important point here: creationists and ID proponents by necessity attempt to befuddle their audience, not just about the evidence for evolution, but about the nature of scientific enquiry in general. They have to, because it is their only way of concealing the threadbare nature of their own claims. (His emphasis)
From this, it should be clear why I have chosen to take part; though you can add the fact that I enjoy talking to people and presenting my ideas to popular audiences. Money, fame and hot chicks would be welcome but have not been forthcoming so far…
Per Ahlberg is known for his work with fossil tetrapods. His latest contribution is as co-author of a paper about 395-million-year-old tetrapod trackways that were found in Poland. (Here’s a summary of the find by PZ Myers at Pharyngula). And a short video about the find is available on the Journal Nature website. Enjoy!