How can anyone back Ken Ham?

July 22, 2014

Back away from him, yes. Back him? His brain baffles me with its illogical pronouncements.

Creationist Ken Ham, who recently debated Bill Nye the Science Guy over the origins of the universe, is calling for an end to the search for extraterrestrial life because aliens probably don’t exist — and if they do, they’re going to Hell anyway.

“You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe,” Ham wrote on his blog on Sunday. “This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.”.

And

Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.

And

The search for extraterrestrial life is really driven by man’s rebellion against God in a desperate attempt to supposedly prove evolution!

The rest of his screed is here but it’s not worth the clicks.

I don’t think there’s any desperate attempt to prove evolution, either. It happens. Ken Ham and his ilk are wasting their time, energy and money promoting their very silly alternative.

It’d be interesting to find out if life happened on other worlds, or is happening on other bodies in this solar system.

And it’s good that humans have the drive to discover. Speaking biblically, it turned out to be the wrong move for Adam and Eve because apparently God really wanted them to stay obedient and stupid. In the real world, that ambition to know is what moves us forward and keeps us fed, watered and housed. That drive to know is why we also have so many gods and religions — for some of the bigger questions, our ancestors had no way to find the answers so put gods in as placeholders. And people like Ken Ham want to keep them there rather than find any real solid answers. It’s a shame, really. The world, the universe, and our place in both is far more fascinating when taking the science into account than it is just blowing it off with “God did it!”

My mind is blown by the very idea that we’re all star stuff. I trust those who say it’s so. I’m just blown by what that means.. it’s so big and fantastic and wild. No god invented by man can beat that, in my mind.


Christians deemed “heretics” after claiming no historical Adam and Eve

August 10, 2011

Well, almost. This NPR article was a good find; some evangelicals are starting to realize that the truths being uncovered by geneticists and other areas of science are making it harder and harder to maintain the fiction that the whole of the earth got populated thanks to two people some celestial being molded together out of clay and a rib 6000 years ago.

conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: “That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.”

Venema says there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple. He says with the mapping of the human genome, it’s clear that modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population — long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago. And given the genetic variation of people today, he says scientists can’t get that population size below 10,000 people at any time in our evolutionary history.

To get down to just two ancestors, Venema says, “You would have to postulate that there’s been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.”

Others would likely try to say God miraculously made all those mutation rates possible in order to maintain the delusion of a functional biblical timeline, so it’s great to see logic and rationality taking charge here instead. Three cheers for science and minds open enough to accept its findings, even when they run counter to earlier, long-held beliefs. (That said, later down the page he appears to credit God for the evolutionary process as a whole so it’s clear he’s not willing to scrap the notion of a god’s interference completely. Can’t help some people…)

In fundamentalist circles these admissions are less than popular.

“From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith,” says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution. Rana, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio University, readily admits that small details of Scripture could be wrong.

“But if the parts of Scripture that you are claiming to be false, in effect, are responsible for creating the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, then you’ve got a problem,” Rana says.

One of those problems being cognitive dissonance. Hundreds of years of telling believers that the bible has everything right. Here come all these great minds devoting themselves to scientific inquiry and discovering so many examples where that’s clearly not the case. Yet, believers will turn away from all those the strange and frightening facts because their (outdated) beliefs are old and comfortable friends. They can’t possibly be wrong…

Of course they can.

A religion like Christianity is built on precepts that require believers to assume the world is other than it is in order to work. To trust those errors are not really errors at all.

To have faith. Faith in Genesis.
Faith in the Ark and the flood wiping out all but God’s chosen few.
Faith in a prophecy about a new king of the people. Faith in a story about angel visitations,
a guiding star in the sky and a baby born in a stable who,
wonder of wonders, will grow up to be that
King of heaven and earth and rise from the dead one day, too.

I’m impressed by how that part rhymes. You’d think I planned it…

“When Adam sinned, he sinned for us,” Mohler says. “And it’s that very sinfulness that sets up our understanding of our need for a savior.

Mohler says the Adam and Eve story is not just about a fall from paradise: It goes to the heart of Christianity. He notes that the Apostle Paul (in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15) argued that the whole point of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection was to undo Adam’s original sin.

“Without Adam, the work of Christ makes no sense whatsoever in Paul’s description of the Gospel, which is the classic description of the Gospel we have in the New Testament,” Mohler says.

The fault lies in the need for humans to interpret everything. That must have been of evolutionary benefit at some point, because we’re so damned good at it. We’re really good at misinterpreting things, too. Something else we’re really good at is taking stuff for granted when we think someone else has interpreted everything correctly for us already. Why do people believe Paul was right? There’s nothing wrong with building lessons out of a story you’ve learned, and it’s easy to see why people want to believe he’s right, but that still doesn’t make him factually accurate. He just jumped to that conclusion and whole chunks of the world ultimately followed in his footsteps.

Creation myths exist across cultures. Some of them are very beautiful you’d just love for them to be true for that reason alone. Others sound so ridiculous you have to wonder what kind of dopes ever came up with them. Everyone wondered where things came from and how people came to be. The Judeo-Christian version is just one of hundreds, and easily determined to all be equally false once people finally get around to comparing them to what the reality of our history can really tell us.

Back in the article, some scholars liken this origin rift to the high stake action of the battle between Galileo and the Catholic church. Others are reluctant to make that comparison but admit evolution is a sore point and getting trickier to deny outright. Still, they continue to insist on doing so.

others say Christians can no longer afford to ignore the evidence from the human genome and fossils just to maintain a literal view of Genesis.

“This stuff is unavoidable,” says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. “Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have.”

“If so, that’s simply the price we’ll have to pay,” says Southern Baptist seminary’s Albert Mohler. “The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.”

I don’t see why that would be true. People tend to respect anyone willing to admit he or she was wrong. If there’s a reluctance to take that step and admit the whole premise of the faith is flawed, and was always flawed, people will continue to be taken in by it all. That said, I just know that if every theologian threw up his hands tomorrow and admitted it was all a damn sham and the Pope himself took his fancy hat off to apologize for lying to the masses, there’d still be thousands of people flocking to churches to pray to god, “Say it ain’t so! Give me a sign!” Then they’d convince themselves that every piece of fluff and feather was a sure sign pointing to God’s way being the right way and they’d change nothing.

But this is a good start. People should be willing to challenge long held beliefs. People should be brave enough to set those beliefs aside if enough evidence can be collected to refute them.

Which reminds me. Christopher DiCarlo will be in Saskatoon to promote his book, How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass later this month. The focus of the book is to train one’s self to think critically about all sorts of things and if you’re in the area and that sounds like something you’d like to learn, too, all the details are here.


Quotable reviews about history, faith & science

March 24, 2011

The documentary about God’s wife/consort Asherah has aired across the pond now and a reviewer at the Telegraph shared his thoughts about it. He was slightly amused by the choice of ominous music and the choices of phrasing that were supposed to make it sound shocking enough to knock the pillars out from under Judaism and Christianity for good. Alas no. Much of what was peddled as news to “rock the foundation, or undermine the basis” of both faiths had already been published in a 2005 book with the same title as the documentary: Did God Have a Wife? by William G. Dever. The religions went on like usual, ignoring evidence from history and embracing faith as the guide.

Diverting though it may be to examine ancient texts and archaeological finds, as Dr Stavrakopoulou did, there isn’t much point trying to attack a religion using facts, because a religion isn’t built on facts. It’s built on truth, or at least what its followers believe to be truth. And they’ll go on believing it no matter how many foundations or bases Dr Stavrakopoulou attempts to shake or undermine.

I’m going to toss a review in here myself. At work this week, my friend showed me a book she’d just worked on. The language in it is an appalling hick vernacular but worse than that, Sandra Dutton’s Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth turned out to be a creationist chapter book for young children. That said, it’s gotten good reviews:

Sandra Dutton has written a gem of a book that explores the faith/science divide. Mary Mae loves her church life, but loves her school life as well. Her Mama’s mind is completely closed, and new information seems to genuinely scare her. Granny is such a breath of fresh air and an amazing character that she quickly became a favourite of mine. She has a thirst for knowledge just like Mary Mae, and she makes Mary Mae feel safe in her explorations. Because of the questioning of faith this book not might find as wide of an audience as it should, but readers will truly enjoy Mary Mae’s journey and her bravery. Dutton has the voice of the family down pat, and I think this could be an important book for those on both sides of the evolution/intelligent design debate.

The book embraces the idea that it’s okay to say God’s responsible for the fossils, so it’s okay to enjoy looking for them. I don’t think intelligent design should have made it to the threshold of a science class in the first place, so it’s not a book I’d feel like promoting. I don’t care for the idea of encouraging readers to feel comfortable giving God the credit, whether they support young earth, old earth, or whatever version of creation currently tickles their fancy. It’s not a view of the world supported by evidence, it’s all about trying to make facts fit faith. Fossilized during Noah’s flood, like the pastor in the book thinks, or only 100,000 years old like his wife thinks (page 125), it’s still not what the truth is. This book might promote the value of curiosity, but still puts God in charge of the whole process. It shouldn’t be coming down to a matter of opinion for which version you want to believe. Evolution is a lot more right than creationism will ever hope to be.

Sandra Dutton’s site for the book is interesting reading, though. She explains her choices about the language, the 1980s setting and such, bits of good review – including one from the National Council for Science Education:

Reviewing the book for RNCSE, David C. Kopaska-Merkel writes, “One thing I like about this book is its delivery through the persona of a child who is both passionate about her church and about science. She doesn’t reject either aspect of her life. She is as excited about the puppet show her Sunday School class is doing as about her interview with a trilobite for a school assignment.”

I guess for science educators, this will be an issue they’d face in their classrooms, so maybe having a book like this around to remind kids that science and faith can co-exist (to a point) would be worthwhile. I doubt the book will stop parents like Mary Mae’s mom (with less than great education herself) from thinking that they ought to educate their kids at home to avoid things they disagree with and don’t believe, but at least it’d show that their schools aren’t trying to make little atheists out of them though a devil inspired science curriculum. The aim really should be to get more kids interested in science and exploration. If people are left thinking science isn’t for the faithful, then people who might be really skilled at that are going to miss out, which means we’d all miss out in the end.

The more young people willing to get into science fields, the better, like a young prodigy featured in a story from last year. 14 year old Rui Song from Saskatoon dazzled judges at the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge and walked away with the first place finish.


Creation Museum “date night” is public relations nightmare

February 24, 2011

Seems like it should be anyway. A recent attempt by the Kentucky museum to encourage ticket sales resulted in security denying two men entry on its Valentine’s date night and wouldn’t refund the tickets, either.

Mark Looy, chief communications officer for the Creation Museum, said it was clear from the promotional material that the event was for heterosexual couples only.

“The message was one of Christian marriage, which the Bible teaches is between a man and a woman,” Looy said.

Meador admitted that Sonka had posted a blog entry in January saying that it was the patriotic duty of his readers to send a flamboyantly gay couple to the event.

Looy said that message suggests the group was looking to provoke an incident.

Jonathan Meador, a writer for the Louisville-based LEO Weekly alternative newspaper, and his female guest were allowed to enter.

The article doesn’t make it clear how Looy knew about Joe Sonka’s website and the “flamboyant” blog entry that Looy seems to be using as reason enough to keep him and his male friend out.

I wonder, though, if they can ban two guys from being in the place together for this kind of event, are they in the habit of grilling groups of men or women to see if any homosexuals are ticket holders in the hope of keeping them out of the place all the time? Can’t have good proper Christian couples rubbing up against teh gays. Might be contageous…kids might think it’s okay and hip and cool or something and want to try it on like a coat when they get home…

“We are not going to allow anyone to come to a private event and be disruptive,” Looy said. “It’s not fair to the other people who also paid to attend the event. We welcome anyone to come to the Creation Museum during regular business hours because we want all people to be exposed to our message.”

Meador denied that the group was looking for a confrontation, claiming they attended the event out of curiosity.

“It is telling, however, that they equate gayness and flamboyance with disruption,” Meador said.

Meador said to his knowledge neither Sonka nor his male guest are gay.

I guess they have the right to let in whoever they want and ban whoever they want but you’d think they ought to have a real reason instead of an fear-driven-might-never-happen-anyway reason. Sonka was declared guilty of disruption and all he physically did was order tickets and wait in line.

If this is the way they’re going to behave, that seems like message enough to me. Don’t support them in any way, no matter how much you might want to ride their dinosaur. Don’t encourage them. They ignore known earth history and perpetuate false ideas about how everything and everyone came to be here. Don’t help them do that. Don’t give them any more money.


Jesus “supporting” literal 6 day creation doesn’t make it true

February 20, 2011

I marvel over the things Christians want to think about sometimes. Mind you, if they didn’t write about this kind of thing, what on earth would I have to write about? This opinion piece by Rhys Demman comes out of the Pincher Creek Echo.

There is a common misconception floating around with many Christians, that Jesus does not support a literal six day creation because he never actually talked about it.

Did he have bowel movements or belly button lint? Bible says nothing about those either. The Bible says little about how he spent his childhood. Did he magically skip a few years and go from age 12 to 33? The original writers weren’t trying to outline Christ’s autobiography so people would understand the history of the man. They just picked the parts of Christ’s life that could be used to drive a belief system.

What I found interesting are the attempts to track Jesus back in time via geneology. Both Luke and Matthew trace his lineage through Joseph who supposedly isn’t even his father anyway. It would have made more sense to go through Mary’s if they wanted accuracy via genes. But they didn’t. Maybe they wanted to prove he qualified as the answer to prophecies made years earlier. Debate goes around and around trying to figure out why it’s written like it is and it seems everyone has his own theory.

Moving on.

But if everything that Jesus said was recorded in the Bible, there would be about thirty volumes of more text, so it is impossible to say whether he really did talk about it. Despite this, when you go into the scriptures, you see that there is evidence that supports the fact that Jesus was a part of creation.

He quotes John 1:1-3 like this:

“In the beginning was the word (Jesus), and the word was with God, and the word was God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that has been made.”

What’s his proof that “Jesus” is interchangeable with “word” here? John 5:46-47:

” If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Personally, I think this makes Jesus sound like he has delusions of grandeur, creating a prophecy about himself so he can show everyone how well he fits into it. And rather than think he’s a loon, they bought it and packaged it and sold it to everyone who wanted someone to believe in. Is it worth mentioning that there’s debate about how much of what Jesus is reported to have said actually got said by anyone, let alone him?

Moving on..

Moses’ account of the 10 commandments, is taken as completely literal by nearly every Christian, and even by some non Christians. If you believe that Moses’ account of what God says is accurate, then why do so many find it so difficult to believe in a literal six day creation?

The commandments are an example of a set of laws meant to benefit everyone in a society and the majority of those are still useful rules in secular society. Some in the list are more “morally wrong” than legally wrong these days.

I found a honking huge list of commandments Jesus supposedly wanted his followers to abide by so why do people constantly look at the Exodus or Deuteronomy list as though those were all that matter? Exodus lists more than ten, besides. Why are these ten the only ones that get posted, though? A funny quote from a site regarding all the rest of them:

The number of edicts is not even ten; it is not really clear where one ends and the next begins, but in Exodus 20 there are at least fourteen and arguably more. The last one is the rather precious “neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.” (Apparently Hebrew priests, like Scotsmen, were not in the habit of wearing undergarments.)

Six day creation is hard to swallow because it requires faith that it’s true. There’s no evidence of it beyond what the book says, and says twice in different ways besides. Pick one or the other and you still can’t prove either, but reams of scientific documentation exist that can refute the claim. All Genesis is is a story of creation: two of them from two different time periods – likely the tenth century B.C and four hundred years later. And every culture has had its own stories of how the world came to be. Read a few of them and then ask yourself why the bible stories should ever be considered truer than those.

It seems as though everywhere I look, all I see are people trying to justify non-biblical claims about God using millions of years to create the world. Such claims are unfounded and inaccurate, because God’s account of creation is completely contrary to the account set forth by evolution.

He thinks this way because he’s used to using bible stories to create reality instead of letting reality speak for itself. Reality like the earth being round(ish). Reality like the earth revolving around the sun. Reality like dinosaurs dying out long before hominids appeared. People who want treat the bible like it’s the only thing they’ll ever need to read and believe are at risk of deluding themselves and they are not the ones we as a progressive society should be putting our trust in. They are wrong and uninformed and willfully ignorant and holding us back. I think proof of that kind of thinking is in the next paragraph:

We need to stop using the excuse that certain biblical statements are not literal, when you read about Joshua and the Israelites marching around the wall of Jericho for seven days, you would never assume that they marched for seven million years!

He’s creating a magnificent reductio ad absurdum with his ludicrous example. We know humans then were lucky to make it to the age of 70, no matter how old the bible might say Adam (930, Gen. 5:5) and Methuselah were (969, Gen 5:27) when they kicked it. Nobody would question seven days marching around a wall; it’s perfectly rational to question seven days making a universe and all that’s in it.

Once we decide that we like a passage better when it is not taken literally, it’s easy to take other passages of scripture and twist them to mean what we want them to.

I agree that’s a problem, but not the way he’s seeing it. Thinking Genesis could be true is the problem. “Knowing” that God held off flooding the entire world so people could mourn Methuslah for a week (Genesis 7:4) is a problem. Thinking God actually did flood the entire world is a problem. Believing every animal on the planet was collected and on the ark (even though that would be beyond impossible for the stated size of the thing and the known size of the planet) is a problem. Teaching this shit to children as if these are facts as valid as theories of gravity, planetary motion and evolution is a problem.

We have very limited minds and understanding, and are not able to fully fathom a God that can create a universe with but a thought and a spoken word. Psalm 90:2 says “From everlasting to everlasting you are God,” and Jesus says in Luke 18:27, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” The fact that we don’t understand how God did it, doesn’t mean that we can take what we want of his Holy Scriptures and twist them to our own devices.

Hanging onto beliefs like this is what limits minds and understanding. There’s no decent reason to hang onto the idea that a god did anything for us. It’s interesting to wonder how the universe got its start but pointing to a god and thinking that’s enough of an answer is a very big and problematic limitation people put on themselves. I don’t know why they can be satisfied with that answer. It’s also worth noting that people who think like this might also be people who would deny their children medical care because they think God’s plan is more important than trying insulin injections. That prayer will lead to cures or answers when all you get is loss and unnecessary suffering.

People need more than a belief in the bible to get through life.


edit Feb 21/11 — edited a couple paragraphs to fix the wording of an idea.


Edit same day but later: found an interesting piece at Camels With Hammers worth quoting:

I think this either/or logic is crucial in many other fundamentalists’ minds. They cannot accept the liberal’s or the moderate’s willingness to judge some things the Bible says as false or immoral because to do so would admit that it was not a perfectly true and moral book and they need it to be perfectly true because if it can be false anywhere then it is most likely false in the most important parts. Only if it is a perfect expression of a perfect God’s will, can we have any hope that its most outlandish offer of hope, for life after death, could possibly be true and not just one of the first parts to be discredited as obviously false.


The One Minion Search Party vol. 42

October 27, 2010

What the hell did this mean, I wondered:

puslespil+dinosaur

Turns out puslespil is Norwegian for problem, which led me to a pile of puzzle games I’ve never played before. (Speaking of – the post that popped up on account of this search was this one, about a dinosaur puzzle I found for sale once)

Translating it to problem + dinosaur leads me to a few interesting websites. One, dinosaurtheory.com, tackles the giant problem giant dinosaurs cause in terms of figuring out how the hell they could have been that huge and still mobile. It’s full of delightful math and science for those who like that stuff.

Of course, there’s also Creation Ministries’ issue with dinosaurs and their growth rate which may as well get quoted:

the new information is a help to creation, because the original paper shows that dinosaurs had a type of adolescent growth spurt—the pattern is called sigmoidal or s–shaped (Nature 412(6845):405–408, 429–433, 26 July 2001). For example, in Apatosaurus, the spurt started at the age of about five years and the growth leveled off at the age of 12–13 (see graph, right). It means that God, who brought the animals to Noah (Genesis 6:20), could well have chosen specimens He knew would undergo their growth spurt as soon as they left the Ark.

If anyone asks me today what I last laughed at, I’ll mention that. Cripes. It’s so hilarious how they have to manipulate science to make their faith work. Bill Hicks and Stephen Colbert discussed this problem at one point, too. The video for that is here.

Some scrap wood dinosaur “faced extinction” in Vermont back in July. The thing was too large and unsightly, neighbours thought. Complaints led to officials insisting the builder needed a permit for something that large on his property. The web seems to be short on updates to that, sadly, although in August some dude name Gus Jaccaci defended its existence and used a case from history as proof this was a bad idea – even worse than

the Duke of Sforza destroying Leonardo da Vinci’s 32 foot tall glorious bronze horse and melting down the bronze to make it into canons for his ill-begotten local army.”
“You are dragging the whole town through a needless disgrace to Thetford and to the free state of Vermont.”
As an aside to neighbors, Ira Allen went on to say, “At this rate of increased regulation, soon we will be issuing driver’s licenses to cows crossing roads from the pasture to the barn for the evening milking.”

FYI – He was dressed as Ira Allen at the meeting and apparently argued in character. Ira has his history wrong anyway. Da Vinci never did cover his clay horse in bronze. French armies destroyed it before he got that far. A nature preserve in Michigan has one, though, and it’s beautiful.

Amazon lists a cute kid’s book called You Can’t Buy a Dinosaur with a Dime which is apparently designed to explain money to children.

So I started with games, got into dinosaurs and ended with children. So how about a childish giant dinosaur battle game to end things?


Glenn Beck is proof science class is important

October 21, 2010

World Net Daily is quoting him in an article saying some completely stupid shit about the evolutionary process.

Were human beings created by God in an instant, or over millions of years through evolution?

Glenn Beck addressed the question on his radio show today as he came to the defense of Christine O’Donnell, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware under fire for challenging evolution.

“Did evolution just stop?” Beck asked rhetorically. “I haven’t seen the half-monkey/half-person yet. … There’s no other species that’s developing into half-people.”

“I don’t know how God creates. I don’t know how we got here,” he continued, wondering what God might tell him after he dies. “If God’s like, ‘Yup, you were a monkey once,’ I’ll be shocked, but I’ll be cool with it.”

Humans are humans. Monkeys are monkeys. We’re related but we’re not inbred cousins like Beck’s relatives might be.

Beck explained, “If God didn’t create, if things evolve, then your rights evolve. You’re not endowed by your Creator.

“Just like you go from a monkey to a man, you go from simple rights to higher rights and somebody has to take those rights and give them to you and take them away or change them. This is again the evolutionary thinking of progressivism.”

Of course rights evolve. They evolve as cultures and communities grow and adapt to new environments, new ways of thinking about the world and the people and animals in the world. Think about all the work done to get blacks the vote. To get women the vote. The SPCA. The Rights of Children. It’s appalling to realize none of that was automatically given. Absolutely appalling.

Nobody should be in favour of taking any rights away from people once they’ve been fought for and earned. Well, aside from what goes on with prison, I suppose.

Jokingly referring to himself as a “half-monkey person,” Beck blasted self-labeled progressives who seem bent on halting the viewpoints of anyone who disagrees with them.

“They have to stop the half-monkey people leaders so the rest of them can be saved and become fully developed, thinking human beings.”

Beck also challenged the notion that scientists are always correct.

“There are so many things that are accepted science that are later proven to be out of whack and false. … Science, they don’t know their a– from their elbow.”

Proven to be false by other scientists, you ass. What part of you is half-monkey? I’m guessing the brain.

Beck also alluded to the media’s fascination with O’Donnell’s admission she had dabbled in witchcraft in her teenage years.

“I don’t think the Wiccans are creationists. I imagine they’re evolutionists,” he said. “First she’s a witch, and then she’s a Christian. Which is she?”

She’s a problem and she’s an idiot. If she doesn’t understand the First Amendment and still thinks she’s qualified to run for public office, then anyone who votes for her is also a problem and possibly an idiot.

Hopefully sense and intelligence come out ahead.


I’d pay more attention to politics but…

September 16, 2010

I get scared easily.

I’m glad I’m not in Delaware where Christine O’Donnell, their Repubilcan Senate primary winner, once said some very stupid shit about God and health problems.

Her latest gem was revealed by Talking Points Memo, who quoted her in a C-SPAN interview back in 1997. Apparently money spent on fighting AIDS was wasted because encouraging condom use is pointless, and those who are infected with HIV totally bring it on themselves.

“A lot of the money that we’re spending goes to things that we know will not prevent AIDS, but indeed will continue to spread the disease. A lot of our money goes to distribute condoms in high schools, and a lot of our money goes to distribute material that is literally pornographic.”

She also went so far as to claim cancer was “an act of God.”

If Sarah Palin was already rooting for her back in 2008, she must be cut from the same cloth, and this has bothered me enough to find more things she’s quoted as saying. Will the U.S. (and the world) have a Palin clone in the next election? I sure as hell hope not.

Salon has a great article with videos and all kinds of funny. It’s just too bad she’s attempting to be serious. She used to be part of “an ultra-conservative Christian group called SALT (Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth) and as a spokeswoman for the Concerned Women of America and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute” so was big into abstinence in schools and shit that shouldn’t have concerned her unless she was in school or trying to control the sexual urges of her own children. Like that stopped her, of course.

TPMuckraker provides information about her college days:

She was a junior, she said in another profile published in 2006, when a friend “asked me if I knew how an abortion was performed … She showed me the medical journals, and it was frightening.”

“There’s only truth and not truth,” she said. “You’re either very good or evil. I went back to my dorm and asked myself what I was.”

O’Donnell decided then to drop her acting ambitions (she was a theater major). She became an evangelical Christian, a departure from her relatively lax Catholic upbringing. She joined the College Republicans and campaigned for the Bush-Quayle ticket.

That was the beginning of O’Donnell as crusader. Her biggest crusade has become preaching abstinence until marriage to young women.

“Not only because I think I’m right,” she said in 2004. “I know what it’s like to live a life without principle.”

Back to Salon: SALT believed masturbation was just the same as adultery, cheating on your spouse with yourself, apparently. Who knew? A double sin if he or she likes watching…

She’s a creationist who seriously believes proof of that outweighs proof of evolution.

She wondered if co-ed dorms would lead to orgy rooms. College West had been co-ed when I was there and I don’t know of any of that happening. Of course, I wasn’t getting any sex anyway.. not because I took a vow of abstinence, though. I just couldn’t get laid.

She also wrote some interesting stuff about the role of female figures in Lord of the Rings, although I don’t know why Salon includes that as an example of her weirdness. I think she makes some fair points, given what they’ve quoted of it. The whole article is worth a read.

But back to what’s wrong with her. The Economist notes that her beliefs (discounting creationist screed) come straight out of Catholic teachings.

While Ms O’Donnell’s views on evolution do not flow from her Catholicism, it seems that her views on masturbation and lying do. Now, Joe Biden, a former Delaware Senator, also adheres to the Roman Catholic faith, but nobody titters discussing his moral convictions, and he evidently had no problems getting elected to the Senate in Delaware. Could it be that Catholic doctrine is a risible barrier to office only if one is willing, as Ms O’Donnell clearly is, frankly to defend it in public without a hint of embarrassment?

Lying is always a sin, apparently. She’s quoted from Politically Incorrect as stating,

A lie, whether it be a lie or an exaggeration, is disrespect to whoever you’re exaggerating or lying to, because it’s not respecting reality.

I wonder if anyone thought to ask her about how the Catholic church gets around all the lies of omission required to avoid telling the world just how far flung sex abuse by priests is. Dismal news out of Belgium – there isn’t one Catholic church there safe to put kids in, if you get down to it. (H/T Bligbi)

Well anyway. I think that’s enough. She’s sounding like someone too many people will put their faith in, even if she does come across as a nutball to the rest.


Dracula connection to a young earth?

June 30, 2010

Normally I avoid Answers in Genesis like a plague, but with a headline like that, there’s got to be some fun reading in it. Sadly I don’t know enough about vampire bats to know if John Woodmorappe is properly describing their evolution from insect eater to blood sucker. There’s a footnote listing a journal published by the Linnean Society and hopefully the original article included this information as it’s presented here (with one obvious exception).

Interestingly, the family containing vampire bats (Phyllostomatidae) has, on the whole, certain anatomical features that would have made it easier for blood drinking to arise in them rather than another bat family. Most notable is the fact that they already have a certain type of specialized sharp teeth. It would have taken only a small modification to have them used for piercing flesh instead of fruit. The structure of the tongue in the whole family happens to already be well-suited for lapping blood in the way vampires do. Clearly, such ‘pre-adaptation’ does not necessarily mean that a structure was originally designed for that purpose.1

Sorry, just have to ask: have you ever seen a real vampire feeding this way, Mr. Woodmoreappe? Where’s the evidence of that? No handy footnote leading to Bram Stoker’s classic, or any other “proof,” sadly. Fiction or otherwise.

I’ll quote the paragraph above this one next:

I suggest that bats were originally created primarily to eat fruit, nectar and/or insects. Most bats today are insect-eaters. (The death of insects arguably need not be death in the biblical sense, because invertebrates are not conscious and perceptive—‘nephesh’—creatures in the same way that vertebrates are.3) After the Fall, vampire bats may have begun drinking blood if they accidentally wounded their host. Eventually they acquired a preference for blood, which then became their exclusive diet.

After the Fall? Please. Funny talk about insects, too, by the way. Food is food and dead is dead. He tries to prove that he’s right via the abuse of discoveries in the 1960s regarding some sharp-beaked Galapagos finches that opted for a little blood with their meals, a stark difference from their counterparts. If finches can become blood eaters within however many generations, then the world is only 6000 years old! Nyer, nyer, we’re right, la dee skippy lala! Last quote is the proof of that sentiment:

This helps explain why blood eating arose only among a few South American bats, and not on any other continent. The bats on other continents had too much anatomical change to overcome in contrast to the Phyllostomatidae (in order to give rise to individuals which would attack animals and drink their blood). This fact fits better with the young earth creationist time frame than an evolutionary one. Had millions of years been available, many more bats should have had the time to develop such a blood habit. But with just thousands of years available, only a few of those bats which already possessed anatomical features facilitating blood sucking actually switched to it.

Even with millions of years available, if there was no logical reason to switch food sources, they wouldn’t have to adapt to do so. I don’t know near enough about the species existing in South America compared to, say, Saskatchewan but I’m sure our bats are gorging themselves every night on the billions of mosquitoes available. They don’t even have to work for it. All they have to do is fly around with their mouths open for a minute and they’ll feast like kings. And given the predatory habits of their easiest meal, most of them are feasting on blood at the same time anyway. Maybe Saskatchewan bats would have evolved claws or teeth sharp enough to cut through animal hide and eliminate the middle bug had the need been there, but the need simply wasn’t there.

The feeding habits of bats and finches isn’t proof that Genesis is right. It’s proof that Spock is right: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. So there. Nyer nyer, la dee skippy lala.


Science teacher vs creationist kids – who’ll win?

February 19, 2010

I come across this story via World Net Daily and we all know that’s “quality journalism.” But, P.Z. Myers and Hemant Mehta thought the story was worth a moment, so let’s see why.

Apparently Melissa Hussain, an 8th grade science teacher, ran up against creationism in her classroom and several students who took the religious P.O.V. got sent to the office for (according to WND) asking about God’s role in the whole thing. Hussain was annoyed enough about the “Jesus Loves Me!” attitude around there that she just had to tell the world about it via her Facebook account. And of course, people commented on her comments. And of course other parents or kids who found out about the comments took their complaints about her to her school. She’s been suspended.

Myers, a university associate professor, had this to say about it:

I think teachers have a right to complain when their students and their students’ parents spread rumors and are disruptive in class. And yes, singing “Jesus Loves Me” during science class is inappropriate, a waste of time, and a transparent attempt to taunt the teacher. I also doubt that there is such a thing as “free time” in a science class: more likely, they’re given time to work as individuals or groups on classwork, and reading their Bible is not getting their work done. Eighth grade science class is not Sunday School, although I guess some retrograde retard might understandably confuse the two.

Hemant’s also teaches and is sympathetic:

if you read the Facebook comments (PDF), they don’t show any anti-student maliciousness on her part. If anything, they just show a teacher who is shocked that kids would be so damn mean. She wants them to be aware of the hurt they’re causing (good luck with that). But she posted them on a public Facebook page and others have taken them out of context.

Even worse, they’re using her friends’ comments against her. That’s just ridiculous. That’s like criticizing me for something a random commenter on this site says. Just because someone posts something on your site (or Facebook wall) doesn’t mean you automatically approve of it.

It’s all a big positive feedback loop that’s not going in Hussain’s favor.

And when you see the awful article about her, it’s no wonder people are having a hard time sympathizing with her.

The “awful article” is at News Observer.

It’s pretty obvious that her trouble with the kids and their dedication to her course has been a problem for a while. They’re doing their own thing, being overtly and religiously annoying when they ought to be doing their class work. They don’t respect her and they don’t appear to want to learn anything she’s trying to teach them. And then they have the gall to whine to their parents when their grades fall (which she also wrote about on the site). She probably really loves teaching and is stymied by all the idiocy going on there, especially since it looks like the board won’t take her side. I don’t envy her, having to deal with that kind of atmosphere every day. If the board does let her back into her classroom, I don’t imagine the kids will behave any better. More likely, they’ll be smug about how easily they got to her and might try to escalate things again to really get her fired.

It’ll be interesting to see how this is resolved.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 123 other followers