Christians regularly tell me I’m headed for hell for being a freethinker. But when I try to imagine this fiery underworld, my mind falls short, and all I see is spending an eternity with them –an army of pious brain-dead conservative robots, dressed in matching polyester outfits, oafishly shuffling about under twinkling chandeliers and gaudy lighting, to the most insidious, elevator music ever conceived. It’s an intellectually barren world where the only shape is a square. I’m afraid even considering its existence. Now, peer into my hell, if you dare.
Tag Archives: Eugenics
I’ve just finished reading Frogs, Flies, & Dandelions: the making of species by biologist Menno Schilthuizen –an engaging and informative book on species formation. Here’s a little taste of what I learned; it illustrates that genetics isn’t perfect, and evolution is beautifully adaptive.
Historically, the common dandelion, that ubiquitous and irritating weed found in gardens and fields throughout North America and Europe, has been a puzzle to botanists. For a long time, no one was sure how many species existed. In the 1700’s, Carolus Linnaeus said only one; in the 20th century, Scandinavian botanists claimed more than two-thousands existed. But with DNA testing, came the answer. Many dandelions are, in fact, clones. In place of normal sexual reproduction with two sets of chromosomes being divided into sex cells, the ovules and pollen, some dandelions reproduce by parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, because at one point in their history they mutated into having three sets of chromosomes, a number which is sexually indivisible. The mutant dandelions instead produce unfertilized –but still viable– seeds, each with a triple set of chromosomes –in other words, a clone.
What’s most illuminating is that the same mutation has popped up several times. So there are several strains with triple chromosomes, all sexually isolated from one another because they can only reproduce by cloning themselves. But it gets better; the clones still produce pollen, except it is completely sterile. Only in the light of evolution does this sordid asexual tale make sense. Why waste the time and energy producing “irregular pollen” if it’s never going to be used? Perhaps god takes a sadistic pleasure in irritating people’s allergies. Or he’s invested heavily in big pharmaceuticals. If so, I hope he had Bernie Madoff sitting on his nest egg.
Please note that the book review below–funny as it is– was not written by a real creationist, but by a faker. See the comment section for the full correction.
I occasionally like to sift through the reviews on Amazon.com of good, evolution related books. I wholeheartedly recommend Evolution: What The Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero. Although, one of the reviewers, someone named Sam Wood, decided it deserved only a single star and a ‘philosophical’ thrashing that is comical to behold. I can only assume it’s a real review and not a parody. I’ve emphasized my favorite parts in bold.
This book is the latest attempt by Big Science to put forth the Big Lie of evolution. Humble believers, the only real skeptics left, are supposed to simply cower in the face of the evidence. But here’s why you shouldn’t believe the Big Lie:
1) The Bible says that God created all earth’s creatures. Since the Bible is the word of God, I think it has slightly more authority than a goofy looking dingus named Prothero.
2) No one has ever seen evolution in action. Dogs don’t turn into birds, and mice don’t turn into armadillos.
3)If natural selection is true, it means that human minds evolved from lower animal minds, which means they are highly fallible. Yet evolutionists tell us to use these very minds to agree with them . If evolution is true, it must be false. That’s a contradiction, therefore Jesus died for my sins and God created the earth.
4) Where are all the fossils? The only fossil science has ever found is Piltdown man, and that was fake. Christians, however, have the Shroud of Turin, a fossil of Jesus. We also have fossil fingers of many saints. The fossils say that Jesus existed, the saints are holy, and Darwin was wrong.
5) It’s very hard to understand how evolution would work, while it’s easy to understand that God created the world. By the principle of Occam’s Razor, it therefore follows that God is the Creator.
6) Evolution is incorrect, and it is illogical to believe in something incorrect. Since the opposite of something incorrect must be correct, God and not Darwin or dinosaurs must be the creator.
7) Increasing evidence shows that Noah’s flood actually desposited[sic] all the layers of soil that geologists think happened over millions of years. The flood would have killed the dinosaurs, had dinosaurs ever existed, but they haven’t. A review of books shows that no one ever talked about dinosaurs until after Darwin, when they became part of the argument for evolution. Convenient, huh?
8. Evolution became popular around the time that scientists were becoming immoral and wanted to stop hanging around in labs and start having more sex. Evolution is the perfect excuse, since we’re all animals we should do it like animals. Christians find this offensive, since Mary was a virgin. If you suggest otherwise, it means you are thinking about the vagina of the mother of God, which is a sin.
So for all of these reasons, I call on Christians to reject Prothero and all of his works, and all of his minions. Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, the 12 apostles, and all of the archaegels[sic] and God the father are part of a holy plan which did not happen through evolution, so stop saying things that make God angry and vote McCain/Palin ’08.
After ingesting all that, I find my brain is awash in a dreamy haze of perturbation. So many questions remain unanswered: Is this sinister “Big Science” anything like Big Tobacco? Are all the non-existent fossils a drug induced hallucination delivered through my chlorinated, tap water? Is believing something to be correct both incorrect and illogical? Is my plastic dinosaur collection more valuable now that dinosaurs never really existed –they’re mint in the box? And are my impure thoughts about Mary, the mother of god, a sin if Aristotle is involved somewhere in the mix –if you know what I mean?
It might have been more educational if Richard Dawkins –or that over-simplified museum chart– had explained that paleontologists aren’t so much concerned with complete transitional fossils –or intermediates– but the transitional characteristics displayed in the fossils. Fossils are after all collections of physical traits. But Dawkins is countering creationists, who are so often ridiculously literal in their interpretation of evolution that they imagine the fossil evidence for the transition between two distinct species as an exact in-between –for example, half dinosaur and half bird. Evolutionary history, though, is bushy and convoluted; a particular species may only bear an ancestral trait(s) that’s been slightly modified, or a novel trait(s) that is in its incipient state. That a species of dinosaur had proto-feathers –and not necessarily fully functional wings– is in itself profoundly informative. No cartoonish hybrid is needed as proof of evolution. The same goes for those floating pigs of the sea, those media hogs, those cousins of the hungry hungry hippo –the whales.
Comedy courtesy of DesertPhile
Prepare to sigh with frustration at how effortlessly an idiot can gain a political seat. Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen (R) says the Earth is 6,000 years old. Surely, the turnip truck that delivered her into this world yesterday can just as easily take her back as defective merchandise; she must have been bruised when she fell off the back.
What I find most irritating about debating creationists isn’t their ignorance of general science; we all don’t know things. What’s most annoying is their apparent lack of curiosity. If I don’t know something I like to do research. But if creationists don’t know something, they often pretend that they do know it, proudly and dogmatically, even if it’s blatantly wrong. This behavior reminds me of something Ron Reagan once said about his father, former president, Ronald Reagan:
He knew what he knew, and he didn’t want to know any more.
Well, I found a post titled The Great Debate: Genesis or Science? by Allen Epling, a man claiming to be a former, public school, science teacher, and believer in the inerrancy of the Bible. He begins by declaring his apathy toward science:
Why is it so important that we know how man got here? To believers it shouldn’t matter so much HOW [his emphasis], as much as WHY.
He then resorts to revisionist history to make religion appear accommodating.
In the past 300 years we have seen several instances where true science has advocated an opinion that is different from the Church’s, with the result that the Church has adjusted its interpretation of the Word of God to reflect a more modern view.
The Catholic Church has adjusted its position, reluctantly and belatedly, on several issues, like evolution. But how have fundamentalist Christians –who believe the Earth is 6000 years old and who think The Flintstones is a documentary– ever adjusted their “interpretation of the Word Of God to reflect a more modern view”? Biblical literalism doesn’t sound objective.
Allan Epling’s continues with another historical inaccuracy:
Galileo was threatened with excommunication from the Church if he didn’t recant his statements that the moon was full of craters, even though his telescope clearly showed their existence.
No, Galileo was accused of heresy for stating that the Earth revolved around the sun in his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. After being threatened with imprisonment and death, he recanted, and was given the lesser sentence of house arrest, which lasted almost 10 years. In 1992 –350 years later– the Catholic Church apologized for the incident.
And as a former, physics teacher, Allan Epling should know better than to make the following ridiculous statement, which turns an aspect of quantum physics into philosophy.
Many scientists firmly advocate a “certainty” that there is no God, in spite of believing ‘religiously’ in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal. In the forefront of today’s science is a body of evidence, catagorized[sic] as Quantum Mechanics, that makes clear that nothing in the entire universe is certain but is determined by a “probability factor”. Any scientist that is certain about anything is admitting hypocracy[sic] to his own field of study.
All Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states is that “the more precisely the POSITION [of a particle] is determined, the less precisely the MOMENTUM is known”. It has nothing to do with the general reliability of scientific evidence.
And where would creationists be without quote mining. Allen Epling delivers with the ubiquitous Einstein citation.
The truth must come from both sides without the barriers that now exist that prevent us from seeing that truth. Einsten[sic] said that “Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame”. How true.
It’s fairly obvious Einstein wasn’t specifically paying homage to Christianity, but to the fantastical nature of religion in general, as a source of inspiration and imagination. Nowhere in Einstein’s work will we find the religion variable; there is no equation E=MC2 + God.
The last paragraph of Epling’s post sums up creationism in a nutshell:
Each week a new topic will be dealt with presenting, hopefully, a balanced, educated viewpoint, while ALWAYS upholding the divinity and sanctity of the Bible. The basic tenet of this article is that every word of the book of Genesis is factually, historically, and scientifically true.
What Epling is really saying is that science should accommodate Christianity, while Christianity should concede nothing.
This afternoon, after wasting several minutes of my life being appalled at Glenn Beck’s smarmy self-satisfied monologue on FOX News, I decided to surf the channels for some old-fashion creationism. Within a few touches of the remote button, I came across CMT (Country Music Television) –not a channel I’ve ever cared to watch before, for fear of having to hear Toby Keith sing about kicking liberals in the head with his cowboy boots. But what I stumbled upon was a reality show called Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy. In the episode (titled, Chaffee/Hornaday) a liberal mommy from Georgia, who is also a die-hard, Star Wars fan, temporarily switched places with a mommy from a conservative Christian, Kentucky family. One particular moment stood out.
The conservative husband while driving the liberal mommy through town pointed out his family’s church as a place of interest. And that was enough to broach the subject of religion and evolution.
She said she didn’t care for churches.
He asked if she was an evolutionist.
She said yes; her family accepts science and Darwinism.
The Kentucky man then spoke up in a solemn tone and asked if he may say something on the subject. Without a thought he outright claimed there is no “absolute proof” for evolution. He knows so because his family subscribes to a Christian periodical called Creation Magazine. He then invited the liberal mommy to read it for herself –his family keeps a copy in the bathroom.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. How beautifully appropriate. I can see it now –the juxtaposition of the crinkled heavily-read pseudo-scientific magazine against the shine of the toilet bowl; it speaks to me like a Monet seascape. It’s perfection. And yes, I can spare a square; I mean a page.
One example of the inconsistency of religion
Trapped in the recesses of the web –like hardened chewing gum stuck for eternity in the cracks of a sidewalk– are religious forums and pseudo-news organizations with URL names beginning with “faith”, “belief”, or “answers”. They’re little worlds unto themselves, and that’s the way their readers like it. They don’t spurn reality, for they create their own; the same way Las Vegas casinos don’t cheat because they make up their own rules.
At Belief.Net a dude named David Klinghoffer has chronicled his Dialogue with Atheists. He challenged atheists to explain how life can have meaning or morality without a supernatural being bestowing them upon us. Klinghoffer stretched his argument to the extreme, though, by comparing atheists to the Joker, the supreme nihilist. He forgets, though, that the Joker also loves to expose hypocrisy.
As an atheist, I’m left wondering where religious folk find their meaning and morality. Surely it’s not in any religious text; for bestsellers like the Bible and the Quran are morally ambiguous at best. They’re all things to all people. Prohibitionists, for example, used the bible to speak against the evils of alcohol; and we know how that ended. And according to which Christians of the 19th century you consult, the Bible both supports and condemned slavery. Today, if you compare the King James version of the Ten Commandments to more modern translations here’s a hint of what you’ll find: The former says Thou shall not kill; the latter say Thou shall no commit murder. How Orwellian.
Religions are not wells of meaning and morality; they’re justifications for capricious humans. Give me reason over faith any day.
Casey Luskin insists the Discovery Institute is a secular think tank. And he says it with a straight face.
What is it about the spreading of pseudo-science that makes reasonable people cringe and gag? One characteristic is surely the introduction of religious / political thinking into discussions of fact. The natural world simply is. If it upsets our human sensibilities, too freaking bad for us. When a bull shark bites a potential food item (a human leg, perhaps), it is being neither good nor evil; it’s simply hungry and inquisitive. It’s nothing personal. Thus, describing the natural world is best accomplished through observations of what is, not through contemplation of how things should be. Blaming Darwinism for the Holocaust, communism, capitalism, rock ‘n roll music, abortion, racism, moral relativism, and the general decay of Western society is irrelevant to the scientific question of whether or not evolution by natural selection is a valid explanation for observed evolutionary change on planet Earth. What is and what ought to be are two distinct questions.
But throw a rock at the Discovery Institute and you’re more likely to hit a lobbyist or a lawyer than an actual scientist. For example, Casey Luskin, an attorney with the DI, blogs to his fellow intelligent designers about the “it’s just a theory” argument.
Darwinists love to bash Darwin-skeptics who call evolution “just a theory, not a fact.” The truth is that I rarely, if ever, hear people who are closely involved with the ID movement using this line to oppose evolution. The “evolution is just a theory, not a fact” phrase tends to come from the vox populi—intelligent people who studied this issue in their biology class or perhaps have read books like Darwin’s Black Box, Icons of Evolution, or Darwin on Trial, but otherwise don’t follow the issue very closely.
But most creationists do use the argument, endlessly. They also use the “intelligent designer” and “irreducible complexity” arguments. The fact is that intelligent design creationists are a small minority. Polls indicate that most American creationists are of the Old Earth variety. And I think the Discovery Institute knows this full well. Isn’t it really all about talking points, ones the DI can easily disseminate, and ones the general public can easily digest and regurgitate, regardless of the scientific facts?
Casey Luskins also lists his scientific qualifications:
Having taken over a dozen courses covering evolutionary biology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, I’m a scientific skeptic of neo-Darwinism.
Fine, be a skeptic, Luskin. But are you as skeptical about intelligent design? Have you taken a dozen courses covering intelligent design at the undergraduate and graduate level? No, because intelligent design isn’t a science, and it can be pretty well summed up in a single 15 minute lecture. ID is a vague conclusion, not an explanation. The only thing propping it up is a propaganda machine. And all the whining in the world about “morals”, “culture”, and “academic freedom” isn’t going to polish the ID turd. The Discovery Institute calls itself the “Center for Science and Culture”. But it really should choose one or the other, “science” or “culture”, not both. Let “ought” and “is” be distinct; life works so much better when our desires don’t cloud our judgment of reality.