Archive for the ‘Science vs. Religion’ Category

Science, for Women and Guy(s)

August 28, 2012
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Mike Huckabee describes the political debate I want to see.

August 26, 2012

“This could be a Mount Carmel moment. You know, you bring your gods. We’ll bring ours. We’ll see whose God answers the prayers and brings fire from heaven. That’s kind of where I’m praying: that there will be fire from heaven, and we’ll see it clearly, and everyone else will too.”

Mike Huckabee, rallying Southern Baptists to support Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) in his campaign.

This is very interesting to me even aside from the implication that “good Christians” should believe like Romney, Ryan, or Akin – and the Republican Party Platform – that abortion should never be legal, and like Akin and Romney that rape somehow isn’t rape if it results in pregnancy.


I mean, look at that quote: I am sold. I want to have these charlatans who claim to know the mind of god stand before the world and have a miracle competition. As the judges we can get The Amazing Randi, Penn and Teller and any other stage magicians willing to watch for fraud. To enter the competition, contracts must be signed saying that anybody who tries but can’t perform a miracle has to tithe to the National Center for Science Education for the rest of their lives.

Anybody who actually performs a miracle before all the world suddenly has a much greater reach and audience.

I can see no possible downside… except to charlatans.

 

Mike Huckabee quote found through Political Wire.

Americans should be led, not driven by fear.

July 26, 2012

We have some serious issues in the United States:

We are embracing majority rule while turning our backs on individual rights.

We are complacent in the status quo and frightened of the other.

Our media and culture is trained to ignore the harm done by familiar institutions, while focusing on the harms of unfamiliar institutions.

We are told that immigrants will take our jobs – despite economics telling us immigration is a net good and emigration the net harm- and we are told that established multinational chains wouldn’t do anything to harm us because of the invisible hand of the market.

We are willing to give up our rights of privacy and freedom from bodily search for the sake of – not security – but the mere illusion of security.

We have public monies going to prop up a thousand intellectually bankrupt dogmas, and schools sacrificing scientific understanding in our children to the shrine of “teaching the controversy”: a controversy which only exists in culture, not in scientific fields.

We have the middle class and small businesses taking on a disproportionate share of taxes, while the ultra rich and mega corporations keep their money in tax havens and get the lion’s share of subsidies and services. And this is cheered on by those who cannot face the fact that they are more likely to get hit by lightening twice than to ever win that lottery which would still not make them of the 1%.

The American Dream still exists, but few can see it for fear.

Intelligent design – rejected by schools and Wikipedia.

July 8, 2012

Some creationists pretending to do science under the heading of “intelligent design proponents” are angry with Wikipedia, essentially because Wikipedia’s editors have standards too high for creationism in a lab coat.

Here are the words of the creationist making the complaint:

PLoS One has a highly technical study out of editing patterns on Wikipedia. This is of special interest to us because Wikipedia’s articles on anything to do with intelligent design are replete with errors and lies, which the online encyclopedia’s volunteer editors are vigilant about maintaining against all efforts to set the record straight.

Right, it isn’t at all because they are maintaining articles about science fact, and you are trying to advertise your Christ fanfiction.

Meanwhile, here is Wikipedia’s article mentioning “cdesign proponentsists.” But perhaps that’s not fair. Wikipedia is apparently run by a tyranny of the unemployed, what about the court of popular opinion? Urban dictionary gives this example of the use of the word:

Science says man evolved from other apes. Cdesign proponentsists say apes smell and prefer the scientific explanation “Goddidit”.

Ouch. Rational Wiki? Good luck there, creationism.

You know, maybe creationists should stick to editing Conservapedia, if they don’t want to deal with people pointing out nasty facts.

Found the story at Friendly Atheist.

Maybe sticking to reality is safer than believing in demons

July 7, 2012

If you are a pastor and one of your church members tries to beat the demon out of your head, maybe you should consider sticking to humanism and leave off the supernatural teachings.

And if you are in a congregation, maybe you should compare what you observe at every other point in your life to what you are told by someone with a financial incentive to keep you believing what they say.

Thanks to Jessica at Friendly Atheist.

This just in: Mermaids are NOT real, U.S. agency says

July 6, 2012

(Reuters) – This may not be much of a surprise, but mermaids aren’t real. No less an authority than the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has debunked the existence of the legendary half-woman, half-fish creatures.

Oh, goodness. The fact that a government organization felt the need to make this declaration is sad…

but I’m glad they are following a more sensible course than the U.K. National Trust.

The Effect of Activist Events (Or, in the micro: Why I’m Blogging Again)

July 18, 2011

Since almost all of my skeptical, atheistic and science activist friends have spent the weekend at TAM without me (but I’m not bitter), I feel this is a good time to talk about the effect that activist events have, using myself as an example.

My first contact with the atheist community was on the web- please contain your surprise. I was still considering myself an agnostic then, as I subscribed to the common misconception that the term ‘atheist’ meant someone who was certain about the nonexistence of god. I went to a few forums and youtube channels that discussed those issues, and found Friendly Atheist and Pharyngula as well. Watching the debates and reading posts helped me decide to identity as an atheist, but I was just an observer, not a participant.

I thought about starting an atheist club at my college, but I was still going back and forth when I discovered the Secular Student Alliance. I went to their summer conference and was completely sold on making a college group. I loved the sense of community (see my previous post for details) I had when I was at that conference, surrounded by other atheist activists, and I wanted to create something like that within my area.

When I got back home, I put up Secular Student Alliance flyers, gathered friends who were interested and Doubters, Agnostics, Mythbusters and Nontheists (D.A.M.N.), a De Anza College Affiliate of the Secular Student Alliance was formed. We have had- in addition to discussions and panels- movie nights, blood drives, Fiction for Fiction events, Project Linus blanket making, events to promote Gay Rights, Sell Your Soul For a Cookie events (for which my group designed this snazzy flyer), and a MST3K themed Halloween party where we watched (and mocked) a film called Killer Klowns From Outer Space which starred- as one of the clowns- a now math professor at De Anza College who was kind enough to attend the beginning to give a short introduction to the film. In short, we made a place where we could have fun, improve our college and community and do good things without having it assumed that we were doing it because of a belief in a deity. We formed a community.

But other than club events and meetings, I wasn’t engaged with the community or movement. I stopped my blogging after a few posts. Recently, Harold Camping and his organization predicted that the world would end on the 21st of May. I had planned a presentation at my school for the 18th of May titled “The Great Success of Past Apocalypses” and ended up giving the speech on the 21st as well, at the American Atheist Regional Area Meeting. This was my third conference and it reintroduced me to many wonderful people. I heard great speakers, including other SSA group leaders like Jen McCreight, Lewis Marshall and Ashley Paramore as well as Greta Christina, who gave a speech “Why Are Atheists So Angry?”

I was talking with a friend who is at TAM earlier today, and I was expressing my jealousy to her, I mentioned the way I feel at activist events: disbelief that there are so many cool people about and  a feeling of family or simpatico with the other activists. (I may have also used the word “giddy.”) Between that feeling and Greta’s talk, I knew I wanted to be involved in more events.

Then, I went to SF Pride, in the atheist contingent. This is exactly the sort of thing I love: Two human rights movements working together for a cause! And it felt the same way, but with greater optimism because our causes are strengthened when they are joined. The secular movement wants to keep religion out of government, the gay rights movement wants freedoms that religious laws do not permit them. I marched with my fellow activists and I decided that I would do it again next year. I decided I would put more energy into human rights struggles. And because I think awareness is still one of the most important matters in these struggles, I decided to blog again.

I went from the sidelines- not even commenting on blog posts- to founding a local group, giving speeches (despite a fear of public speaking), marching and blogging. This is the effect of activist events. Now, I may not be the best example; you may consider my speeches or writing to do more damage than good. But if this effect is not limited to me, then allow me to give my own personal and subjective answer to Jerry Coyne’s question Are there too many atheist meetings?

No.

Creation “Museum”, also known as Ham’s Folly.

August 18, 2009

I have been putting off these posts for too long. I still haven’t got my pictures, but I will just have to add those later.

The trip was hilarious and sad and fun and upsetting and insulting and uplifting all at once.

That sentence didn’t make sense on the face of it, so let me explain:

The exhibits were hilarious in a horrifying, “they can’t really believe this, right- but if they didn’t, they wouldn’t build it, so they must believe it- but it is insane” sort of way. My favorite examples? 1)Believing that the earth contained enough water to flood the entirety of its surface to a height topping the tallest mountains and 2) Their epic fail with dinosaurs. Apparently Ham thinks that Noah saved all of the dinosaurs from drowning on the Ark, but the flood killed off every single plant the dinosaurs ate while leaving alive all of the plants eaten by humans and every other type of animal. The death of all of the carnivorous dinosaurs? I must have missed that part. Thankfully and helpfully, the other SSA members had apparently brought extra reserves of wit and humor and plain snark with them, which intensified the humor while mitigating the horror.

The trip was sad because I looked around this joke of a “museum” while small children became further insulated against science under the eyes of their already insulated parents. Really and truly, if anybody wants to bemoan the lack of scientific understanding in this country, I challenge them to tour the Creation “Museum” and come to the conclusion that religion is harmless in this regard. I’m looking at you, Mooney and Kirshenbaum.

It was fun because I met many great people who I was able to hang around with during the tour. If only we had more time, I’m sure just the handful of people I roamed with could have punched holes in every claim made in that Temple to Unreason.

The exhibits were upsetting in the sheer lack of regard for fact and reality. If any of the individuals making those exhibits had the smallest concern with truth, the results would have been far different. Of course, if they limited themselves to the truth, it would either not exist, or it would be a real museum.

The theme running through the tour was insulting to the entire species, pitting “Human Reason” against “God’s Word” and implying strongly that Human Reason was nothing to trust or be proud to possess. In addition, I felt resentful of the scare tactics they used about the big bad atheist. I was wearing my name tag which said Secular Student Alliance and my name, and I did my usual when interacting with people in customer service: said thank you to all of the staff who scanned my ticket or opened a door or helped me in any way- and although some of the staff said “You’re welcome” sincerely, two shied back from me. Did they think that talking with me would endanger their souls? Did they think I was going to lunge at them and rip out their throats? Maybe is my best answer to both questions. I frequently get mistaken as a Christian by Christians, (“Oh, you’re such a nice Christian boy.” “Well, you are partly right…”) and even with my experience with that, I was bothered by how much my group membership shaped perception of me.

Finally, the members of the SSA were uplifting in their humor, their curiosity, their respect for rational thought, and the way in which everyone treated everyone else with respect and civility, even when debating economics or politics while shuttling between Columbus, Ohio and Kentucky. It was great talking with you all. After this trip I am convinced that if everyone met an out atheist, we would be one of the most highly regarded groups in America, rather than second to worst, right above Scientology.

My next post will be about the Secular Student Alliance Conference and after that I will post about Timothy Keller’s humorously titled book “The Reason For God”.

con group 09 squid-y