Tag Archives: Militant Atheists

Catholic Comedy Is A Tragedy

PZ Myers receives hate mail from a Catholic. No surprise there. But I’m jealous. I’d like some of that ire tossed in my direction. Most of the Christians I’ve had ‘discussions’ with are of the Protestant persuasion, although, my childhood experiences with religion were mostly at Catholic Churches; they either consisted of my religiously apathetic mother dragging me to Christmas Mass, “for the pageantry”, or a friend’s parents inviting me to Easter services, because they thought I was a heathen. My boyish reaction at these events was usually the same; I felt like a disappointed fan at a rock concert when the main act doesn’t show up; everyone in the audience pretended like god the ‘rock star’ is going to make an appearance, but he’s a no-show. All hype and no delivery was how I saw religion. My feelings remain the same.

But one of my favorite stories about Catholic priests is from 2001, out of San Francisco. The details are so over-the-top that you’d think an anti-religious Hollywood writer had penned them while in therapy. One Rev. Bernard Dabbene was literally caught in the act.

A priest of 34 years, Dabbene was spotted by police on Nov. 11 with the teenager in a parked car at 25th and Illinois streets — an area frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes.

Both were found with their pants unzipped and Dabbene’s trousers fell down when police confronted him.

The boy said he was running from a gang and sought help from the priest only to be fondled. The priest said they were merely discussing unspecified job opportunities.

In the TV news reports at the time, it was stated that when Dabbene stepped out of the car, his pants fell to his ankles. This is comedy gold. And it reminds me of the twisted and often ironic humor of Dante’s Inferno. It almost makes me wish there were a hell.

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Spin The Wheel Of Religion, Where She Stops No One Knows

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.


Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Religion

What’s Wrong With Being A Mad Scientist?

Fictional mad scientists are most often portrayed as highly driven and glory hungry; they are the unwitting villains, the victims of their own inquisitive natures. Author, Reto Schneider, has written The Mad Science Book, which chronicles the history and present of questionable experiments carried out by real-life “mad” scientists. A list of nine of these experiments is on The New Scientist website. My favorite is Dogbot, the robot dog that was a social reject. Real dogs wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe his nose glowed red or he aspired to be a dentist. Whatever the reason, Dogbot was not allowed to participate in dog games.

What I like about mad experimentation is it’s raw unbridled curiosity. What does it matter if some experiments go wrong or if others are completely useless and outright wacky? What counts is that humans have a desire to understand the world. Thomas Edison was a mad inventor; he wasted ten years of his life on devising a new mining technique, which failed miserably. He also designed furniture and homes made out of that comfortable substance know as concrete. Not big sellers.

The lesson here is that in a complex world, curiosity saves the cat, it doesn’t kill it. But still there is an intellectual divide in society. There are those who care to know the world, and those who don’t care to have their world views tarnished by reality. I’m talking about creationists here. To them a mad scientist is someone to be feared.

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Charles Darwin Accused Of Theft

It’s unsupported claim time. Roy Davies, an author, has written a book, The Darwin Conspiracy: Origins Of A Scientific Crime, claiming that Charles Darwin stole the work of naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace and presented it as his own. The “theft” supposedly occured when Wallace wrote to Darwin. Conspiracy by snail mail. A UK article explains:

[Davies] crucial evidence, he claims, is in pinpointing the exact dates that letters from Wallace to Darwin explaining his theories arrived at Darwin’s home, proving that the Welsh scientist developed them first.

When Darwin received “the” letter from Wallace, Darwin had already been researching his theories for 20 years. Darwin’s famous sketch from 1937 clearly shows that he understood that evolution was a branching tree and not a straight line. Wallace had extensive experience in the field, but his published work at the time was practically nill. Science requires evidence.

Both men presented their theories to the scientific Linnean Society of London, but Darwin’s manuscript was published the following year, and he has since been universally credited with the theory, while Wallace’s name has largely been forgotten.

Both their papers were presented for them at the Linnean Society. Wallace was in Malaysia at the time and Darwin was cloistered at home. The papers fell flat and no one gave them much notice. The reason was that big claims require even bigger evidence. The papers simply weren’t enough. So, Darwin spent the next year writing his book, On The Origin Of Species. If anything, Wallace’s letter spurred him on to compile his book. Both men independently discovered how evolution works. However, Darwin was the first to explain it properly with mounds and mounds of evidence.

To say that Darwin stole Wallace’s material is pure speculation and contrary to the overall facts. Writers love to create controversy where none exists, because it sells. And dead men can’t defend themselves. No doubt creationists will misuse this new book by Roy Davies for their own sleazy agenda.



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Defeating Darwinism In 4 Easy Steps… Not

I enjoy reading PZ Myers’ blog Pharyngula, because he digs up the worst right-wing religious nutbars. And I get to comment on them, too. He found Bryan Fischer, a truly deluded fool. And hungry for more creationist foolery, I sifted through Fischer’s garbage – I mean archive – and went straight for his article on Deafeating Darwinism in 4 Easy Steps. Prepare to gag on the smell:

What follows is a straightforward, 4-step refutation of the theory of evolution. They’re easy to remember, and make a nice little cadence when spoken with a little rhythm: First Law, Second Law, Fossils and Genes. Armed with this truth, go forth and conquer.

Not even an encouragement to read a book or two? Just memorize these 4 things and regurgatate them at anyone who accepts evolution? Sadly, there’s more:

[E]volution teaches that everything that exists is the product of the random collision of atoms, this logically includes the thoughts I am thinking about evolution.

Ah. The ubiquitous “evolution is random argument”, reduced now to the atomic level. Does Fischer even know the difference between biology and physics? Now Fischer’s 4 steps in brief:

First Law of Thermodynamics.This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed…. What this means, then, is that science simply has no explanation for the most basic question that could possibly be asked: why is there something rather than nothing? Intelligent Design advocates have an answer to this question; evolutionists do not.

Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a law) teaches us that in every chemical or heat reaction, there is a loss of energy that never again is available for another heat reaction… This law teaches us, then, that the universe is headed toward increasing randomness and decay… But what does the theory of evolution teach us? The exact opposite, that the universe is headed toward increasing complexity and order. You put up a theory against my law, I’m going to settle for the law, thank you very much.

Fossils. What the fossil record teaches us, in contrast to the theory of evolution, is that increasingly complex life forms appear fully formed in the fossil record, just as if they were put there by a Creator…. Evolutionists are at a total loss to explain the Pre-Cambrian Explosion… Thus the fossil record is a powerful argument for the existence of an Intelligent Designer while at the same time being fatal for the theory of evolution…. Intelligent Design theory has an explanation for the fossil record; evolution does not.

Genes. The only mechanism — don’t miss this — the only mechanism evolutionists have to explain the development of increasingly complex life forms is genetic mutation… The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism.

Bryan Fischer repeatedly makes a distinction between a “law” and a “theory”, as he sees it. He thinks a law is somehow superior. He then contradicts himself by proclaiming the power of “Intelligent Design theory”. ID isn’t even worthy of the title of theory. If it is, then every marijuana induced epiphany is a law.

The 1st law of thermodynamics seems to contradict a creator. If matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, then how did a creator create them? How does ID answer this question? Magic? Anyway, it has nothing at all to do with Darwinian Evolution. But in Fischer’s mind there seems to be a connection.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics is an old creationist argument, easily disposed of. Basically, the earth is not a closed system. It receives energy from the sun. And no biologist ever said that the universe is becoming more complex. Fischer is just pulling arguments out of his ass, or someone else’s ass.

What Fischer doesn’t know about the fossil record wouldn’t fit in the Grand Canyon. Creationists never actually discuss the fossil record, they only discuss what they think the fossil record is. The two are light-years apart. Their fossil record is a caricature. Enough said.

Finally, most mutations are completely neutral, not harmful. Except for the ones Fischer’s mother accumulated prior to his birth.

I really do believe that creationist nutbars like Bryan Fischer are deeply afraid of science. It’s the only explanation for their complete ignorance. They stay so far away from it that not even a kernel of truth rubs off on them.



Filed under Trawling For Creationism, Uncategorized

Michael Medved Is A Tool

Over at scienceblogs.com biologist PZ Myers has dumbo Michael Medved in a headlock for commenting on “American DNA” and race, two subjects Medved, obviously, knows nothing about.

Well, I dug through Medved’s archives and found this piece of garbage.

Actually, there’s little chance that atheists will succeed in placing one of their own in the White House at any time in the foreseeable future, and it continues to make powerful sense for voters to shun potential presidents who deny the existence of God. An atheist may be a good person, a good politician, a good family man (or woman), and even a good patriot, but a publicly proclaimed non-believer as president would, for three reasons, be bad for the country.

Chances are that we have already had an atheist president. American politicians bow to religion only out of self-preservation and politeness, anyway. Clinton was seen carrying a bible around at the same time he was in trouble over Monica. George Bush likes to be seen as a religious man, but we all know his actions contradict most Christian tenets.

Abraham Lincoln was a very non-religious man. And George Washington at one point vowed never to attend church again. The founding fathers were mostly deists, which is one step from being atheistic. But who knows what their personal beliefs really were? Atheist was a dirty (dirtier) word back then.

If we read between the lines, what Medved is really saying is that only Christians should be elected to office. The problem is that religious people lie for their faith, and politicians lie to keep their asses in office. Besides, an atheist president couldn’t be any worse than Bush the Christian.


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Ben Stein – Creationist Of The Month

Ben Stein

I offically declare Ben Stein as May’s creationist of the month. He earns his position for his ignorance and sleazy behavior.

In Expelled: The Movie, Ben Stein attempts to draw a link between Charles Darwin and the Holocaust by misreading a quote from Darwin’s famous book The Descent Of Man. Scientific America Magazine explains with an article:

One of the many egregious moments in the new Ben Stein anti-evolution film “Expelled” is the truncation of a quote from Charles Darwin so that it makes him appear to give philosophical ammunition to the Nazis.

Here is Ben Stein quote-mining Darwin in the movie Expelled:

“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

Now here’s is the rest of Charles Darwin’s words, the part Stein conveniently left out:

“The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil.

The Descent Of Man is a thick book, perhaps too thick for Ben Stein’s thick head. He might not have had the discipline to read it in full. Or maybe he didn’t edit the quote himself, he could have just read it that way from a script. Either way it looks bad, really bad. Ben Stein is either too lazy to pick up a book, or he’s a prositute-puppet, who says anything for money. Congratulations to Ben Stein for being creationist of the month, he’s earned it.

P.S. I recommend The Descent Of Man to anyone interested in evolution or the history of science. I read it last summer. It’s truly fascinating. The Penguin Classics Edition has a great introduction. Also, check out the complete works of Charles Darwin online.    




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The Great Darwinian Conspiracy

Dissect any creationist’s arguments and you’ll eventually uncover a belief in a worldwide Darwinian conspiracy. Scientists everywhere are hiding the truth of creation and teaching evolution as part of a vague shadowy plot to destroy religion and to corrupt the world’s youth with liberal ideas. Why should scientists do this? Is it for that sweet professorship level income? Is it to be in the presence of mobs of grateful undergraduate students? Or are all scientists radicals?

A better question is do scientists get along well enough to concoct a conspiracy? I’ve just finished reading The Earth Dwellers: Adventures in The Land Of Ants by Erich Hoyt. And featured in this book is entomologist Edward O. Wilson, who’s famous for creating the sub-field called sociobiology. One of the implications of sociobiology is that human behavior is partly genetic. Unfortunately, some people erroneously saw hints of social-Darwinism, racism, and sexism, in Wilson’s work. As a result, Wilson received nasty criticism and personal attacks not only from the public but from his colleagues at Harvard University. Two of his most vocal critics were fellow professors Stephen J. Gould and Richard C. Lewontin. Do you feel the love?

In the book, we also get a glimpse into Wilson’s feelings toward James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. The author writes:

Wilson found Watson the most unpleasant, scornful scientist he had ever met. Watson’s discovery [DNA structure] was so earth-shattering that he [Watson] became a “Caligula” who could do or say no wrong. In spite of Watson’s disdain, Wilson deeply admired the man’s accomplishment and even his sheer audacity. He credits Watson as his “brilliant enemy” or “adverse hero”.

This is just one example of conflict amongst scientists. The history of science is fraught with nasty disagreements. What good scientist wouldn’t disagree with a colleague in order to gain personal glory? If the evidence and data indicate a contrary opinion, then that’s the path one must take? Wilson found Watson “unpleasant”, but he still admired the man’s work. It’s the work that counts, not loyalty and ideology. Of course, scientists are human, and like everyone they have their biases. But most of the time they have no misgivings about following the data wherever it leads. This is why a worldwide conspiracy to hide the “truth of creation” simply wouldn’t work. And this is why evolutionary science couldn’t be suppressed in the 19th century.


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