Tag Archives: Skeptic

Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen (R) Loses Mind

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.

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The Lazy-Minded Creationist

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.

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Filed under Christianity, Trawling For Creationism

Channel Surfering For Creationism

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.

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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.

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Genome Size and Complexity

the groups in this figure are arranged along made-up "scala naturae" to emphasize the lack of relationship between genome size and intuitive notions of organismal complexity -- please do not construe this figure as an endorsement of a progressionist view of evolution!).

(Note: the groups in this figure are arranged along made-up “scala naturae” to emphasize the lack of relationship between genome size and intuitive notions of organismal complexity — please do not construe this figure as an endorsement of a progressionist view of evolution!).

The chart above and note are from genomesize.com

As the note says, the bars in the chart indicate ranges of genome size. The measurements are given as a C-value, which here is a measure of weight in picograms. As we can see, genome size and complexity do not go hand in hand. Salamanders, flatworms, and algae are just a few of the groups which have members with genomes sizes larger than that of the mammals. Et tu, Chondrichthyes? Members of the protozoa have the largest. Isn’t it bad enough that humans have to deal with penis envy, now this? If there is a creator, he has an “inordinate fondness” for amoebae. All that sexy amoebic swaying and oozing is what did it. It’s a damn popularity contest. The swimsuit contest lost us the most points; the amoeba slipped out of its top, showed some membrane, and won the day.

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Filed under Biology, Intelligent Design

Young Australians Revolt Against Gullibility

Young Australian Skeptics

When I was 7 years-old my favorite subjects of conversation were Bigfoot and UFO’s. I eagerly believed in both of these questionable phenomena based solely on “the evidence” provided by cheesy TV shows. Boy, was I a major drongo (Australian slang for a stupid person). Well, I would have been if was an Australian. I’m not. I’m an American, so technically I was a dumbass. But America and Australia share a common problem. Both countries are plagued with creationism and other pseudo-scientific, and anti-intellectual movements, COUGH religion COUGH. Rev. Ken Ham is an export of Australia, I’m sorry to say.

So, it’s only natural that an organization of young Australians would spring up to encourage others to be more discerning and skeptical. It’s called Young Australian Skeptics: A Sanctuary for Young Free Thinkers. Check it out, or you’ll go to hell. What, you doubt me? Do you want to take that chance? But what if you’re wrong?

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PETA Is A Stupid Organization

I didn’t say animal rights are stupid. I said PETA is a stupid organization. Animal rights are great. It’s the anti-intellectual buffoons who run PETA who bother me. They make the rest of us liberals look bad. The main reason is that PETA members bend reality to fit their views instead of the other way round. PETA founder, Ingrid Newkirk, in order to spread the word about vegetarianism, has repeatedly made several baseless pseudo-scientific claims.

1) Newkirk claims meat and dairy cause most human diseases, from cancer to diabetes to mental illness. Aside from the complete lack of evidence for this belief, it’s funny that hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection hasn’t removed this harmful behavior from the human lineage. PETA’s “science” seems to indicate that the most sickly and poorly adapted animals survive to reproduce.

2) Newkirk has said many times that meat enhances human aggression. To back up this claim she points to wild carnivores like lions and tigers. The problem is she doesn’t know nature very well. Newkirk confuses aggression with killing. An animal that kills another animal to eat isn’t necessarily aggressive. Cheetahs, for example, like others cats, spend most of the day conserving energy, not picking fights with strangers down by the watering hole. Herbivores, like hippos or moose, are generally more aggressive than carnivores because they have more reasons to be aggressive, like holding grazing territory and warding off predators.

2) Newkirk advocates dogs and cats being converted to a vegetarian diet. I guess it’s not enough that Fluffy-The-Cat’s owner must subsist on berries and twigs, Fluffy must be converted to the same diet. Perhaps Fluffy can be convinced to join the Green Party, for if pet and owner eat the same, they must also vote the same. But I’ve read nothing but bad things about a vegetarian pet diet. For one, vegetarian cats and dogs can develop severe intestinal problems. Part of being a carnivore is having a shorter intestine than a herbivore. Meat is, in fact, easier to digest than plant matter. This is an engineering problem, one that cannot be overcome with wishful thinking.

Currently, PETA promotes the idea of In vitro meat, meat cultured in a lab from animal cells. PETA is even offering a $1 million prize to scientists to make this happen. I suppose all the health problems attributed to meat eating by PETA are going to be removed from this laboratory grade stuff. Yes? No? Maybe?

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A Mild Criticism Of Richard Dawkins

I disagree with Prof. Richard Dawkins on at least one point concerning religion; I think that a lack of religion won’t cure humanity of most of its evil behavior. Religion does amplify our inherent “badness”. But atheism, while it does alleviate this “badness”, it won’t remove it from our human nature.

But overall, I dig the way Richard Dawkins thinks and writes. His thought processes are clear, informative, and reasonable. He pushes people to think for themselves.

So, it’s with great sadness that I must make fun of the cover of his “Voices Of Reason” DVD. It looks like a bargin bin religious video: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. Prof. Dawkins, you’re not a savior, you’re a positive force. A shot of you staring off into the stratosphere framed against the perfect sunset is cheezy. I know your organization is non-profit, but still, a little more effort would have prevented you from looking like that uptight Charleton Heston.

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More Lies Supporting Expelled: The Movie

Pseudo-Science

Pseudo-Science

Ben Stein is putting his smirk and whiny voice to ads for the DVD release of Expelled: The Movie, No Intelligence Allowed. Christmas is just around the corner and a rotten lump of pseudo-scientific coal makes such a great stocking stuffer for the kids. In the ads, Mr. Stein claims Expelled is the #1 documentary of 2008. I think not. Let’s check the stats. Expelled grossed about 7.7 million and opened in 1052 theaters, while Bill Mahr’s documentary Religulous grossed 10.6 million and only opened in 502 theaters. If Mr. Stein is alluding to the reviews of Expelled making it #1, then he is wrong on that point, too. Most reviews were resoundingly negative. For example, The New York TImes said,

Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn “Expelled” is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

Finally, if you go to the Expelled website you can crash their ironic poll asking, “Do you think Darwin’s theories are outdated?” If Darwin is over-the-hill, then creationism is fossilized. I made a funny.

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Filed under Intelligent Design

Creationist Of The Month Club – Dinesh D’Souza

Weeeeeeeee, Im a creationist.

Wheeeeeeeee, I'm a creationist.

Dinesh D’Souza is a professional apologist. To him Christianity is the source of all good in the world, and evolution is nasty atheistic propaganda. Here’s an excerpt from a piece he wrote on evolution and intelligent design:

The problem with evolution is not that it is unscientific but that it is routinely taught in textbooks and in the classroom in an atheist way. Textbooks frequently go beyond the scientific evidence to make metaphysical claims about how evolution renders the idea of a Creator superfluous.

Chemistry and physics are also taught in an “atheistic way”, as are computer science and mathematics. Science, by its very nature, is secular because the supernatural is not open to any form of investigation. When teaching evolution a teacher ought not to even mention god, because god is not a source of viable data.

D’Souza accuses science of making “metaphysical claims“, but it is Christians like himself who are guilty of this sin. They presuppose the existence of a higher being, and they whine when their presupposition is contradicted in a science classroom. It is perfectly reasonable, considering the evidence, for a biologist to conclude that life on Earth evolved and was not designed. This claim is about the physical world, not the metaphysical one. To proclaim the existence of a grand designer is a “metaphysical claim“, one that is wholly untestable within our Earthly realm. In essence, what D’Souza is upset over is biologists not including a dash of the supernatural in the mix.

Most Christians don’t care whether the eye evolved by natural selection or whether Darwin’s theories can account for macroevolution or only microevolution. What they care about is that evolution is being used to deny God as the creator.

First D’Souza denounces science for making a “metaphysical claim“, then he squawks that science is not including the metaphysical. Way to go on the blaring contradiction there, Dinesh. Now I’m positive you’re a Christian and a creationist. Only an Olympic grade rationalizer would do a one-eighty within the span of a few paragraphs.

Yesterday, in another article, D’Souza offered his pity for biologist and atheist PZ Myers.

Asked whether Christianity deserves credit for founding the first Western hospitals, universities and even scientific breakthroughs, Myers said, “No. People made those contributions to Western civilization”… Christianity was a powerful motivating force in why people did those things. You can find all this out by opening up a history book.

[Emphasis added to distinguish the wheat from the chaff]

Apparently, D’Souza has no grap of science methodology or religion and its lack of methodology. Indeed, Christianity founded many great universities. But the fact remains that one cannot successfully investigate the natural world while limiting one’s answers to within a religious framework. European universities were scientifically unproductive places until the Enlightenment. In the 18th century, almost half of the pupils of Oxford and Cambridge studied for the clergy; emphasis was on the classics and the Bible. Natural philosophy, as science was known then, was looked upon with suspicion, as it meddled with the belief in creation. It was only when researchers were free to contradict scripture that any real work got done. Dinesh would find all this out by opening up a history book.

So, I dub Dinesh D’Souza creationist of the month for September, 2008. Congratulations, Dinesh, on a job well done.

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