Thursday, December 12, 2013
He was recently discussing, with all his usual historical and logical abilities ... none at all ... the 2010 Oklahoma law that permitted the erection of a 10 Commandments monument on the state capital grounds with the ... um ... fig leaf declaration that it doesn't amount to an endorsement of any religion but, rather, honors America's Judeo-Christian heritage and mandates that other such monuments be erected to stand beside it.
A group of (putative) Satanists have now requested permission to erect a monument as an "homage to the historic/literary Satan." Whether the ploys of the Oklahoma legislature or the Satanists will prevail is an open question (though at least one Supreme Court Justice believes that Satan is a real supernatural entity and, therefore, could conceivably be worshipped) but Fischer has the definitive answer in the video from Right Wing Watch above:
On his radio broadcast yesterday, Bryan Fischer spent two segments laying out his argument that, when the founders of this nation used the word "religion," what they really meant was "Christianity." As such, authorities in Oklahoma have every right to reject an effort by Satanists to erect a monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol building next to a monument of the Ten Commandments, Fischer said, because the Constitution's guarantee of the free exercise of religion was never intended to protect anything other than Christianity.Now for some real history!
"If by 'religion,'" Fischer said, "the founders, and the founders of the state of Oklahoma, meant Christianity, then you can ban a monument to Satan because that's not Christianity ... You can say 'no, we're not going to let you do it. Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we're not going to have that monument.' If we don't understand the word 'religion' to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains."
Thomas Jefferson drafted "The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom" in 1779, three years after he wrote the Declaration of Independence. However, the act was not passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia until 1786. The occasion for it's passage was that Patrick Henry introduced "A Bill Establishing A Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion." Essentially, Henry's bill would have taxed citizens of Virginia to support the Christian denomination of their choice. Jefferson was, at the time, away serving in France as the American ambassador but Henry's bill so alarmed James Madison (later the chief architect of the Bill of Rights) that, after some political machinations, caused him to write "A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments." The upshot was Henry's bill was tabled, and in its place the legislature enacted Jefferson's Bill for Religious Liberty.
So, with that as background, what did Jefferson and Madison, certainly among the most important "Founders," and, in Madison's case, the most important of the Founders of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, think about any claim that "religion" in the First Amendment only referred to Christianity?
From Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance":
Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? ...And Jefferson, reflecting back in his Autobiography, said this about the passage of his bill:
[E]xperience witnesseth that eccelsiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.
Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.Thus, the Founders of the United States had already thrashed out this issue and had no intention to designate Christianity as the one and only religion that the First Amendment covered. Fischer is a moron or is playing one on the radio to advance a deeply un-American agenda of Christian theocracy.
An amusing postscript to this is that Fischer has declared that his God-given role in life is as "the truth detector." In a way, he may be right. Take anything Fischer says and the opposite is likely to be the truth.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Requiescat In Pace
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Oh, Please! Oh, Please! Oh, Please!
From Obamacare to immigration, from enslaving Obamacare mandates to feckless foreign policy debacles, the GOP leaders have been either complicit, supine, or AWOL. They have also shamelessly declared political war on GOP U.S. senators and representatives who have honestly tried to represent the intense opposition to socialist tyranny simmering hot amongst the voters. ...As one of the chief cretins, Alan, I sincerely hope you lead some significant percentage (about 3-4 % would be good) off into a quixotic third party. The big donors won't follow, of course. They'll continue to fund the establishment Republicans, who will be glad to be rid of the crazies, while hedging their bets with the Democrats, who are almost as business-friendly as the Republicans. The Tea Party politicians will be jettisoned or co-opted and Congress will get back to the business of amicable compromise through swapping ways to enrich themselves and their donors at the expense of all the rest of us.
[T]oo many people remain tragically blind to, or apathetic about, the truth that is the key to thwarting Obama's anti-American putsch. Tyrannical socialism would have no chance of overthrowing the citadel of America's liberty except for the consistent and increasingly bold cooperation of the forces that dominate what is supposed to be the Republican opposition.
In the 19th century, Abraham Lincoln and many others prominent in the rise of the original Republican Party started their political careers as members of the Whig Party. When the Whigs refused to confront the challenge of expanding slavery, or promote the policies needed to exploit the nation's opportunities for economic development, these political leaders left the Whig Party. They accepted the task of representing the voters the Whigs refused to heed.
In our day, where are the political leaders with enough foresight, integrity, and courage to accept the task of effectively representing the voters the GOP's elitist faction leaders are betraying? People like Mitch McConnell and John McCain clearly regard these voters with disdain. They portray authentically American conservative voters as cretins, who deserve to have no choice in politics that truly represents their faith in God and their allegiance to their country's God-acknowledging principles.
Not much will really change but the babble and crazy will subside back to the good ol' days when everyone ignored the John Birch Society.
Via Right Wing Watch
Saturday, November 30, 2013
I suppose we knew it was coming.
On November 20, 2013, Illinois became the sixteenth state to permit same sex marriage (Congratulations!) when Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislation, passed a few weeks earlier, into law.
There were heavy tornadoes in Illinois on November 17th.
So, naturally, an ultra far right Catholic group had this to say:
The massive tornadoes that hit Illinois after the passing of the same sex "marriage" bill, has stimulated many people to reflection.Well, I think your god's aim sucks:
In it, some see God's chastisement; others see it as yet one more merciful warning from Providence; others yet deny both options and give various reasons.
What do you think?
Illinois was the hardest hit, with 43 tornadoes, followed by 23 in Indiana, 13 in Kentucky, one in Missouri and one in Ohio.I also think you are morons.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving ... Unless You're Gay!
But Peter LaBarbera (or is that LaBarbarian?), of the oxymoronic Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, doesn't want LGBT people to even think they have a right to be thankful that the tide of public opinion about gay rights, particularly in regard to same sex marriage, has turned in their favor.
Thanksgiving, you see, is reserved for "Christians and Bible-respecting Jews." (I guess "Judeo-Christian" is no longer specific enough ... and forget those nasty Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and, especially, atheists!)
It isn't really worth the time to dissect LaBarbera's foaming-at-the-mouth screed but I did find this bit amusing:
And so, we have come full circle: citizens of a nation founded "under God" use our annual day of gratitude — conceived to humbly give thanks to God — to celebrate sin. ...Up until the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, one of the nadirs of our democracy ("Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"), our motto was generally considered to be E pluribus unum, Latin for "Out of many, one."
[W]e as a nation must repent and return to honoring our motto of being under God if we are to achieve greatness again, and avoid His divine judgment upon us.
LGBT people are one group out of the many that make up this country and our Founders, imperfect as they were, at least pointed us towards an ideal that all that multitude would stand equal before the law and be protected in their rights.
It is the LaBarberas of the world that keep us from being as thankful as we should be.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
They Grow 'Em Ignorant in Texas
It's regrettable that he had no rebuttal from the other side, for evolution has enough flaws as to make it laughable.Which, of course, is why upwards of 98% of scientists knowledgeable in biology accept it. They just have a good sense of humor.
Then there is the obligatory hoary quote mine of Darwin about the vertebrate eye, so beloved by the ignoratti, and the claim that it was "men of faith" who gave science its start, as if that changes the fact that those men (and, ahem, women) were, nonetheless, intent on using the methods of science to understand the material world.
But then it gets funny, with the writer assuming, in a classic petitio principii, that it was all aimed at producing human beings:
Here are some of my favorite ideas contrary to evolution: How did the evolutionary forces know there existed in the cosmos such things as taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing so they could develop those senses in man?But, of course, knowing what was in your environment and what might eat you, or might be eaten by you, was of great use to all organisms. As was pointed out by Darwin, a simple eye spot was use enough in the land of the blind to set off an evolutionary "arms race" that favors ever better eyes and other senses.
Next there is this:
How did those forces understand that communication was desirable and so give man a voice?Any of the old talk.origins "howlers" will understand that communication among social species, from monkey warnings, to ant pheromones, to bee dances, to prairie dog chirps, to elephant trumpets, etc., etc., are of use in survival of the population. All those, and many more, have "voices."
After a brief digression into 'how do we account for beauty, love and sex?' (which can be explained by such things as color sense needed for selecting ripe fruit to eat, sexual selection, and the need to swap genes to avoid parasites, among many other reasons), comes the truly precious argument:
The greatest wonder is that of man himself. As for him, consider all the protective devices built in to his body to ensure his survival: blood that clots; adrenaline that gives man an extra burst of energy in cases of emergency; properties in the blood that resist infection; pain to serve as a warning; protective reflexes such as sneezing, coughing and vomiting; and the balance mechanism in our inner ear that keeps us from falling down.If the "protective devices" human beings have show that they are the "greatest wonder" of life, then the author should be able to name all the mammals, from shrews to elephants, that don't have blood clotting, adrenaline, immune systems, pain, sneezing, coughing, vomiting (good grief, hasn't he ever owned a cat?) and a balance mechanism in their inner ear.
He won't, of course. The arrogance and ignorance is strong in this one.
The "flaws" he sees in evolutionary science are not flaws at all but just a deep lack of knowledge of biology.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Stringing Us Along
It seems that Neanderthals made string ... ergo God!
Oh, let's see how this works. Humans (Neanderthals were close to, if not the same, species as us) appear to have taken a product of nature (plant fibers) and did something to them ... mechanically twisted them ... something that we can not only reproduce but can understand the reason for. It only "defies explanation by reference to unguided natural processes" if you assume that humans or our near relatives aren't also a result of unguided natural processes. In other words, if you run in such tight logical circles that there is a real danger of disappearing up your own ass.[Bruce] Hardy and his colleagues have found slender, 0.7-millimetre-long plant fibres that are twisted together near some stone artefacts at a site in south-east France that was occupied by Neanderthals 90,000 years ago. Such fibres are not twisted together in nature, says the team, suggesting that the Neanderthals were responsible (Quaternary Science Reviews, doi.org/pzx).Note the sentence in bold. Plant fibers twisted together are evidence of intelligent design, since such a pattern defies explanation by reference to unguided natural processes of chance and necessity. It reflects intention and creativity. But DNA strands twisted together and bearing the encoded genetic information vital to life -- oh sure, nature had no difficulty coming up with that one.
"If they are indeed remnants of string or cordage, then they would be the earliest direct evidence of string," says Hardy. "Albeit very fragmentary evidence."
At 90,000 years old, the material purported to be string predates the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe.
On the other hand,
Yeah! How alike those propositions are!
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Rattles and Bones
Some backwater third world nation?
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said he will offer prayers for "exorcism in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage" at the same time Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the same-sex marriage bill next week.How does that go again? "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."
Paprocki said he will offer the prayers intended to cast out evil at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the state's capital Wednesday. ...
An exorcism, which often refers to a rite performed on an individual, is applicable in the case of same-sex marriage because the devil can appear "in various forms of opposition to and persecution of the church," the diocese of Springfield said in statement.
But Todd Wood ... as honest a person as any YEC can be ... is worried:
Looks kind of impressive, doesn't it? But then almost any movie can look kind of impressive condensed to two minutes.Well, sure. If trailers predicted the worth and marketability of movies, when would there ever be flops?
For myself, I am wary. I've already read two different takes on an early script draft (Brian Godawa's and Peter Chattaway's). Admittedly, they both reviewed early drafts of the script, so the final version is likely to be different, but I am concerned about turning the Noah story into a modern environmentalist fable. The Flood story is pretty grim to begin with (all of humanity wiped out in a single, global catastrophe?), but the notion that humanity must be destroyed because we're bad for the planet? That sounds like the stereotypically worst attitudes that the environmentalist movement has to offer.But what is this "environmentalist fable" of which Todd speaks?
That we are bad for other species (other than our favorites, rats and cockroaches ... and, maybe, cats and dogs and cattle) is no fable; there can be little doubt of the Holocene extinction. Maybe some people think that is okay because we are given "dominion" over creation but, if we really do have dominion, then we can do other than what we are presently doing.
But I'm glad that a YEC can admit that the "Flood story is pretty grim to begin with." Just think how may abortions God committed by drowning all those pregnant women ... and that doesn't even count the toddlers, who most people wouldn't think of as idolaters and sinners, who were drowned.
But, Todd, I would like to know the names of anyone in the "environmentalist movement" who actually advocates for the destruction of the human species.
After all, they might be as dangerous to society as the YEC God.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
15 ... and Counting
HONOLULU – Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Wednesday legalizing gay marriage in the state that kicked off a national discussion of the issue more than two decades ago.Hawaii's pivotal role in the same-sex marriage fight was something that, until recently, I had forgotten:
Hawaii's gay marriage debate began in 1990 when two women applied for a marriage license, leading to a court battle and a 1993 Hawaii Supreme Court decision that said their rights to equal protection were violated by not letting them marry.You'd think conservative free-enterprise-types would be pleased:
That helped lead Congress to pass the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, part of which was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.
An estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says gay marriage will boost tourism by $217 million over the next three years, as Hawaii becomes a destination for couples in other states, boosting ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons in the islands.But Nooooooooo!
Congressman Bob McDermott has filed a lawsuit against Abercrombie claiming that same-sex marriage cannot be legalized until a court rules on the meaning of a constitutional amendment passed in 1998 about gay marriage.
The Amendment reads, in its entirety:
The Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples.Loooozzzar argument!
By the very nature of legislatures, whatever it has the power to do, it has the power to undo. And that is all it did in this case.
McDermott contends that "the issue of gay marriage needs to return to the people for a vote." He and his fellow travelers have the right to begin again whatever the Hawaiian process is to amend its Constitution but, in the meantime, they don't have a semblance of a legal leg to stand on.
McDermott is merely grandstanding ... possibly to the surprisingly (to me) large population of Mormons in Hawaii (some 5% of the population).
It's very bad of me ... but I can't help but wonder if their magic underwear just isn't up to Utah winters.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Remember that cinematic blockbuster proposed by "Award-Winning Filmmaker and FaithWords Author Joe Amaral"? You know, the one where he was going to "explore some of the most amazing facts and attributes about earth ... analyzing the importance of gravity, oxygen, water, atmosphere and distance from the sun" to investigate whether "the Holy Bible's description of creation fit with what we know from physics and science"?
Well, it seems that his Kickstarter campaign has failed. Amaral was looking to raise $19,500 CAD but only got to $9,657.
In the interest of artistic advancement (and the possibility of much hilarity) maybe I can offer a suggestion ... next time don't use the working title "God's Big Bang."
Your intended funding base might just be a little put off by a proposed film that sounds like it is going to star Johnny Wadd.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
~ Mark Twain was demon-possessed;
~ That, after allowing homosexuals in, the Boy Scouts will soon have merit badges for incest and cannibalism; and
~ The Colorado government is worse than the North Korean government because it allowed civil unions for gays.
Now he is out with a book, Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West (promoted by ... who else? ... WingNutDaily) that claims that "Western Civilization" is in decline since 1700 because of a cabal made up of (I kid you not!) Charles Darwin, John Locke, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Dewey, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nietzsche and ... wait for it ... William Shakespeare!
It seems that "[s]ince Shakespeare's day, the theater and the fine arts have become seedbeds for homosexual themes and homosexual behavior."
Funny ... wasn't it just a few years ago that the wingnuts were crowing about the 30+ states that had passed anti gay marriage legislation or constitutional amendments? Damn George Soros and his time machine!
If you want to read fiction dressed out as history, the least you should demand is that it be entertaining. Therefore, instead of wasting your time reading low-class trash by Swanson, you should waste it reading high-class trash, as in:
The TRUTH: Being a TRUE and IMPARTIAL account of the history of that damnable religion, the great EVIL of DARWINISM, also called EVOLUTIONISM and its attempts to bring the downfall of all moral and TRUE CHRISTIANTM virtue. Based on accounts of the events which form this evil history written by the best historians of the evil devices of DARWINISM and EVOLUTIONISM, and based on the best scientific principle of SUBJECTIVITY, and rejecting utterly the ATHEIST doctrine of OBJECTIVITY which clouds the mind of mankind and leads to the rejection of TRUE CHRISTIANITYTM. Written by a TRUE BELIEVER [and unearthed by the inestimable Richard Forrest].You'll get every bit as accurate a picture of history from either but you'll have a lot more fun reading the latter.
Via Ed Brayton
Saturday, November 09, 2013
For me, the heart of Sue's story is this:
[W]hile visiting a neighbor's home at the age of twelve, she discovered a well-torn copy of Northup's book and read, for the first time (albeit only briefly), about the terrible things that occurred in her own backyard. It must've seemed like a great mystery to her, an unsolved crime, maybe even a betrayal, this old book that told a story everyone around her seemed all too eager to forget. ...What a wonderful and worthy epitaph! Would that I could claim one half as good.
However, six years later, when she was attending Louisiana State University, Eakin chanced upon a copy in a local bookstore. She asked the owner how much it cost. "What do you want that for?" he asked. "There ain't nothing to that old book. Pure fiction. You can have it for 25 cents."
As Eakin later observed, "I spent the next seventy years proving him wrong."
Then Lamar turns to today:
Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. Quoting from The Times-Picayune:Are the people of Louisiana really the worst, most criminal, people on Earth? Or, maybe, its government is just the worst ... a possibility that is reinforced by the fact that "although nearly 65% of Louisiana is white, the vast and overwhelming majority of prisoners in Louisiana are African-American."
The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.
Go and read Lamar's post. It is touching, uplifting, depressing and infuriating in turns. Well worth the effort.
Friday, November 08, 2013
Touchy, Aren't They?
E.W. Jackson, the failed candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, first claimed he was being "taken out of context." Then, he claimed he was being "marginalized" and "persecuted" by having his actual words repeated to people who didn't share his far, far right views. Lastly, he just took to lying about ever having said the things he did.
Now, Gordon Klingenschmitt has, since he announced that he is running for the Colorado state legislature, started down the same path.
As Right Wing Watch announced:
Former chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who calls himself "Dr. Chaps," got our YouTube account terminated today by filing copyright complaints against a handful of our videos, resulting in several thousand of our videos being taken down. We have filed an appeal to YouTube and hope to get our channel restored shortly. If you would like to help, you can tweet @YouTube and urge them to expedite the review process.Of course, ... Klingenschmitt claims:
RWW has been a thorn in the side of countless Christian ministries for years, quoting out of context ministers like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and political leaders like Michelle Bachmann and Alan Keyes.He also claims that Right Wing Watch was stealing from him. It appears that Dr. Chaps knows nothing about, among many other topics, copyright law and "fair comment." It should take no more time to reverse the YouTube action than it did when Pat Robertson tried this.
And he is not merely being persecuted, he has had "death threats" from "followers" of Right Wing Watch (comments to the YouTube videos) and then takes offense at being told "he didn't know how the internet works."
It won't be long before he starts denying he said any of those things.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
We all know what that means:
THE WAR AGAINST CHRISTMAS IS HERE!
Via James McGrath comes this hilarious post by Hemant Mehta about Liberty Counsel's annual list of businesses that have been naughty by not saying "Christmas" often enough on their website (hint: 14 times is not enough!).
However, a funny one that Hemant overlooked was the entry for Home Depot:
"Christmas" page that redirects to Decor-Holiday-Decorations. Home Deport is both "Naughty" and "Nice" in that the company uses the colors, sights and symbols of "Christmas" to attract 70% – 78% of the American population who self-identify as "Christians" (Rassmusen Polls) but simultaneously offends that same majority population by repeatedly using the word holiday in large bold letters.I didn't know that Christmas wasn't a holiday.
Tuesday, November 05, 2013
From the the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ["ENDA"]:
Why is the absence of a distinction between same-sex sexual conduct and same-sex attraction in ENDA problematic?So, basically, the bishops think it is fine for all employers to discriminate against anyone who has sex outside of marriage?
While the Church is opposed to unjust discrimination on any grounds, including those related to same-sex attraction, she teaches that all sexual acts outside of the marriage of one man and one woman are morally wrong and do not serve the good of the person or society. Same-sex sexual conduct, moreover, is categorically closed to the transmission of life and does not reflect or respect the sexual difference and complementarity of man and woman. Therefore, opposition to same-sex sexual conduct by the Church (and others) is not unjust discrimination and should not be treated as such by the law. In contrast to sexual conduct between a man and woman in marriage, sexual conduct outside of marriage, including same-sex sexual conduct, has no claim to any special protection by the state. Therefore, although ENDA may forbid some unjust discrimination, it would also forbid as discrimination what is legitimate, moral disapproval of same-sex conduct.
Maybe I'd take this better if the bishops and the Vatican had shown any indication that they took pedophile priests having sex outside of marriage more seriously.
Saturday, November 02, 2013
The Density of Belief
In one of his latest, Fischer tells a caller, self-identified as a "non-practicing homosexual," that homosexuality "is a matter of choice." Then it gets interesting:
Caller: Could you have sex with a man?Fischer then switches the subject back to haranguing the "non-practicing homosexual" about abstinence and chastity, completely missing the point Fischer has just admitted: that sexual orientation is not a choice.
Fischer: I'm sorry?
Caller: Could you have sex with a man?
Fischer: Would I?
Caller: Could you?
Fischer: [Derisively] No.
Caller: I thought it was a choice?
Fischer: Sure it is, I'm just saying it's emotionally, morally, mentally impossible for me—
Caller: But you just told me that you couldn't do it?
Fischer: Yeah, I couldn't do it, there was no way; there is nothing in me that would let me do that ...
Caller: OK. How do you think I feel about women?
Fischer: I don't know. How do you feel about women?
Caller: There ain't no way.
The density of his beliefs (in all senses of the word) prevent him from even listening to himself.
Via Right Wing Watch
Monday, October 28, 2013
The Language of Will
Okay, since I already broke my pledge to myself not to comment anymore on Jerry Coyne's philosophical deficiencies, I might as well dip my toe in again, but I am going try to try to restrict myself to the occasional delectation.
As we all know, Jerry's defines free will "as the way most of us conceive of it: a situation in which one could have made more than one choice."
Now, he gives us some examples:
Clearly, if you're a compatibilist, then you might admit that a computer programmed to respond (deterministically) to many complicated contingencies has free will. So do robots. And perhaps a thermostat has free will. If it doesn't, then there's somewhere on the continuum of "response devices" where one must say, "I'll arbitrarily decide that free will begins at this point." And, of course, compatibilists must agree that some (but perhaps not all) animals have free will, and even some plants (after all, plants can respond to diverse environmental challenges in complicated ways).But we also know that, especially when it comes to issues involving religion, Coyne likes to talk about rationality, reason and science. As a non-compatibilist, does Jerry admit that a computer, robot or thermometer programmed to respond (deterministically) to many complicated contingencies is being rational, is applying reason and is doing science?
But you needn't do any of this if, as Ben implies, you just deep-six the whole idea of free will and use other language to express what you mean.
Maybe Jerry should just deep-six the whole idea of rationality, reason and science and use other language to express what he means.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
When Will This ENDA?
[A] powerful group of Republican donors, who see the GOP's staunch opposition to gay rights as a major problem, is trying to push the party toward a more welcoming middle ground — where candidates who oppose marriage rights can do so without seeming hateful.Baby steps, but ok.
The behind-the-scenes effort is being led largely by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, a hedge fund executive whose son is gay, and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who revealed his homosexuality in 2010, long after he had left the GOP leadership.
Singer's advocacy group, the American Unity Fund, has been quietly prodding Republican lawmakers to take a first step toward backing gay rights by voting for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ["ENDA"]. The measure, which is expected to come to the full Senate for a vote as early as this month, would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
But you know it won't be easy:
"Regardless of how much money [Singer and his allies] bring to the table, it is not to the advantage of Republican officeholders politically to support his agenda," said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, one of the major evangelical groups opposing the ENDA. "Particularly in Republican primaries, the Republican Party is still strongly socially conservative. These are core convictions that people have."I have a core conviction that the conduct of socially conservative, so-called "Christians," who oppose equal rights for anyone, based on their sexual orientation, should be disapproved of as being morally wrong!
Sprigg described the ENDA as a "legislative way to declare that it's morally wrong to disapprove of homosexual conduct." The bill, he said, is a "direct attack against the moral convictions of social conservatives."
Does that mean I can discriminate against them in the workplace?
When the Republican party can give me a reason that I should be barred (as I am) from discriminating against these faux Christians, while they are allowed to discriminate against gays, or can demonstrate that the party can free itself from being hostage to the political threats of this hateful minority, maybe then I'll consider voting for Republican candidates again.
Until then ... it's just lipstick on a pig.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Oh, Fuck Off, Jerry!
I have resisted the temptation to comment on Jerry's increasing banning of people from his "website," that he ridiculously insists is not a "blog," because they are "rude" to him (probably including me, though I didn't hang around long enough to find out, because I've been at this too long). He has also withdrawn the "title" of "Uncle" from Eric MacDonald for the "sin" of disagreeing with him about scientism.
His latest, "Bertrand Russell on why the term "agnostic" is for show," has driven me over the edge.
He quotes Russell's short piece, "Am I An Atheist Or An Agnostic? " as follows:
As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.Of course, Russell is making a nuanced point. Some years ago, I was asked if I was "religious" and I respected the questioner enough to answer that I was not technically an atheist "but most people might not be able to tell the difference."
None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of Homer really exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.
Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.
Jerry, the alleged animal lover, enthusiastically dons one of his many pairs of dead animal hides to cover his feet while trying to stomp out any nuance that might intrude upon his world:
One problem here is that yes, you cannot give a logical demonstration that the Greek gods don't exist. (That's the "you can't prove a negative" line.) But you can give a practical demonstration that their existence is improbable, for if they interact with the world you should find some evidence of that interaction; and you find none.Logic is for wimps! The mind boggles!
One concludes from this piece that philosophers, at least in Russell's time, respected logic more than evidence, and were more concerned with logical possibilities than with probabilities.
The answer, of course, is that if you have no belief in gods, you should call yourself an "atheist." The term "agnostic" is for wimps.
Jerry is becoming a caricature of a supposedly liberal intellectual buffoon ... of the sort that Jack Chick might draw!
Monday, October 21, 2013
It starts out:
Discovery of the so-called "God particle" not only helped two physicists win this year's Nobel Prize, it also unwittingly bolstered the arguments of the Intelligent Design movement, according to Southern Baptist scientists.Let's see ... a "doxology" (Greek for "saying") is a short hymn of praises to God in various Christian worship services. And, of course, Psalm 19:1 is a religious text. But wait a minute! ... ID doesn't have anything to do with religion because the DI tells us so! Maybe Gordon didn't get the memo!
The particle, whose scientific name is the Higgs boson, derives its popular name from the title of the 1993 book, "God Particle," by atheist physicist Leon Lederman. However, "a closer consideration of the function and properties of the Higgs boson is very enlightening from a theistic perspective," Bruce Gordon, associate professor of the history and philosophy of science at Houston Baptist University, told Baptist Press in an email interview.
"In direct opposition to Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg's remark that 'the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless,' we can only recommend the more obvious and rational view that the greater our comprehension of the universe, the more we should be given to doxology: The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork (Psalm 19:1)," said Gordon, who also is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank that plays a leading role in the Intelligent Design movement, which argues that the universe is the product of intelligence rather than blind chance. [Emphasis added]
Amusingly, the only scientist among the "profs" cited is not so enthusiastically sectarian as Gordon nor as dishonest as the DI:
William Nettles, professor of physics at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., agreed that discovery of the Higgs boson suggests the universe is orderly and designed, but he urged Christians not to blow the new scientific insight out of proportion.Once again we see the IDer's dilemma: how do they signal to the faithful that ID is all about arguing, "scientifically," that there is a God, while keeping that fact from the rest of us, particularly the courts?
The discovery "does not detract from the faith-held fact that God created the universe, and all things hold together in the Son," Nettles told BP. "We just have a better picture of God's details ... Our mission is still to bring glory to God through telling His Gospel to all.
Friday, October 18, 2013
New Jersey Joins the Civilized World
To its credit, New Jersey was an early adopter of "civil unions," a stopgap measure while public opinion caught up. In 2006, its Supreme Court ruled that the state must provide "full rights and benefits to samesex couples" as are given to opposite sex couples but gave the legislature the option to "either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure, which will provide for, on equal terms, the rights and benefits enjoyed and burdens and obligations borne by married couples." The legislature chose "civil unions."
Now, a state court judge has ruled that the state, starting October 21, 2013, must issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. Governor Chris Christie sought a stay of the lower court decision in the state's Supreme Court, which was denied. Therefore, gay marriages can begin sometime next week.
While the Supreme Court will still hear the full appeal, its justification for denying the stay leaves little doubt that, barring some last-minute genius argument on the part of the state, gay marriage will certainly become a full reality in New Jersey. The Court ruled unanimously that "the State has not shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits" of the appeal. In other words, the state has lost but the Court will go through the motions.
The logic is impeccable. Having ruled that same sex couples must be given, under the State Constitution, the "full rights and benefits" of marriage, when the US Supreme Court overturned the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act in US v. Windsor and required the Federal government to give all Federal benefits to couples, same sex and opposite sex, who are legally married under state law, those in "civil unions" were deprived of benefits that married opposite sex couple receive. It was no longer a Federal law that created this disparity but the state's civil union statute and, therefore, the civil union statute violates New Jersey's Constitution.
A few points to be remembered: since this ruling depends on the State Constitution, it is not subject to review by the Federal courts, short of overturning Windsor itself and reinstating DOMA ... a possibility too remote to be taken seriously.
Furthermore, this result is the best thing that could happen to Christie. He had vetoed a same sex marriage law passed by the state legislature and, while his gubernatorial reelection is in no doubt, the issue could have dogged any future campaign for national office he may run. On his right, he can truthfully point to his opposition to same sex marriage and even throw in something about "judicial activism." On his left, one volatile issue has been removed.
Congratulations, New Jerseyites and welcome to the 21st Century!
Update: Gov. Christie has dropped the appeal ... possibly taking a swipe at someone at the same time:
The governor concluded that, legally, he was out of arguments, and that it would be what one aide called a “fool’s errand” to continue in the face of almost certain failure.Hmmmm! Who in recent memory does that remind you of?
Palm, Meet Face!
Award-Winning Filmmaker and FaithWords Author Joe Amaral Announces Upcoming Documentary "God's Big Bang!"There is a Kickstarter page* where it gets worse:
... "God's Big Bang!" investigates the question of whether faith and science can get along, or are they eternally destined to be sworn enemies. Does the Big Bang Theory automatically disqualify the possibility of an Intelligent Design by an omnipotent God? And does the belief in an Intelligent Design by an omnipotent God automatically disqualify the possibility of the Big Bang? This premise will serve as the driving force behind the film. Does the Holy Bible's description of creation fit with what we know from physics and science?
Rich and beautiful images of stars, planets, clusters, nebulae and galaxies will be featured to display the glory and majesty of the universe. The film will refute and/or challenge the view that the cosmos was created by random chaos. In the end, it will be shown that the universe was designed with purpose and in the way the Bible describes. Special focus will be given to Bible verses that mention astronomical objects and events.Oh, look at the pretty pictures! ... ergo God!
And this bit straight from the 19th Century Bridgewater Treatises:
In this section we will explore some of the most amazing facts and attributes about earth. We'll be analyzing the importance of gravity, oxygen, water, atmosphere and distance from the sun.Really? The Goldilocks argument? Is that the best they can do?
*As of 1:30 am Eastern US Daylight Savings time (don't ask!) they had raised $1,500 out of a goal of $19,500.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Can't They Just Shut Up?
That article was revealing enough but now there are further details in a new article (amusingly enough, from Al Jazeera America):
The pastor of Cornerstone Ministries in Murraysville, Pa., last spring hosted a six-part series, Origins, in which he portrayed the teaching of evolution as a triumph of secularists and "neo-Darwinists" who want "to drive God from the marketplace and ... keep us from being able to give God the glory for what he's done."But ID and "academic freedom" have nothing to do with religion ... because the DI tells us so!
"We are the spiritual children of the founders of this nation," Chapman said. "This has been stolen from us. We need to take it back and give it back to God."
Although Saccone said in an interview that the "academic freedom" bill had nothing to do with religion, he told the Origins class, "God is part of our government. We just need to get the word out. We, too, can turn back to our godly heritage."Thank you Pastor Chapman and Rep. Saccone. If this act ever becomes law, you've made it soooo much easier.
The poor DI ... they just can't get the faithful to understand the 'nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean" strategy.
Via Ed Brayton
Monday, October 14, 2013
Day and Night
Nonetheless, the contributors to this volume also think that Larry Laudan’s famous dismissal of the demarcation problem— almost three decades ago now— as an ill-conceived and even pernicious pseudoproblem, and of terms like “pseudoscience” as pieces of hollow rhetoric, was just as premature and misguided. Laudan may have forgotten Socrates’ lesson: even if we do not arrive at a neat and exceptionless formal definition of some X, based on a small set of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions, we may still come to learn a lot in the process. If we raise the bar for the demarcation project too high, settling for nothing less than a timeless and essential definition, a death pronouncement such as Laudan’s is all too easy to make.- Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry, eds., Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2013.
If accurate, I am glad to see the philosophy of science community rejecting what I have long seen as Lauden's naïve dismissal of the possibility that we can know what science is and is not, just because there may be gray areas.
As Edmund Burke said in another context: "Though no man can draw a stroke between the confines of day and night, yet light and darkness are upon the whole tolerably distinguishable."1_______________________________________________
1Gould, Stephen Jay 1980. "A Quahog is a Quahog", The Panda's Thumb. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., pp. 204-213.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
An effort to overturn a new law allowing transgender students to choose which school restrooms they use and whether to play boys or girls sports got a boost Friday when a major player in the passage of California's now-defunct same-sex marriage ban threw its support behind the campaign.But lest you think this is a grassroots reaction to the law:
The National Organization for Marriage announced it was working with another conservative group, the Capitol Resource Institute, to repeal the law at the ballot box. The marriage group provided early fundraising and organizing for the 2008 ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriages, known as Proposition 8.
The political strategist who ran the successful Proposition 8 campaign, Frank Schubert, has signed on to manage the referendum campaign. Noting that no one has ever qualified a referendum in California using only volunteers, Schubert said "it's a virtual certainty" the campaign will hire paid petition-circulators to supplement work already going on at churches statewide.So uphill is the campaign that Protect Marriage, long after the Prop 8 barn door has been shut, still wants an exemption from California's political campaign disclosure laws for the donors to the organization's future "campaigns regarding protecting marriage."
"We are actively talking with donors about helping to fund that," said Schubert "A referendum is a very hard thing to do. It's definitely an uphill thing."
I'd almost have sympathy for that argument if there was significant harassment of small donors who gave over California's reporting threshold of one hundred dollars. But we all know that the idea is to protect big donors such as the Mormon and Catholic Churches.
Frank Schubert's statement about the trangender law is, however, illuminating:
This is not a law people support by a long-shot," he said. "This is an attempt to hijack an issue that may be legitimate for a small number of people and use it to impose a statewide mandate in pursuit of a larger political agenda ... to strip society of all gender norms so there is no difference between men and women.Because, of course, there should be legal differences between male and female (and everything in between) human beings.
Henry Drummond may be fictional, but he is far more real than Schubert: "fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding."
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
The Discoveryless Institute is crowing about "some open-minded students at the University of California, Irvine, invit[ing] Discovery Institute's Casey Luskin to speak about ID on the campus."
Citing a lack of classroom discourse on intelligent design at the University of California Irvine – a highly regarded scientific research institution – a Christian student group recently brought in a scholar to discuss the merits of the controversial theory, which suggests an intelligence can be found in the blueprints of life.Of course, "open-minded" and "Christian" are synonymous! ... Just ask any gay person!
"Intelligent design is a valid explanation that should be able to be freely taught on a scientific campus," UC Irvine biomedical engineering major Daryl Arreza, 23, told The College Fix.What's the matter, Mr. Arreza? Aren't you going to Sunday school? Oh, are you expecting a state university to hold Sunday school classes in its science curriculum?
Arreza, co-president of Ratio Christi, the Christian apologetics campus group that sponsored the recent talk, said the lecture was needed to expose students to the theory of intelligent design, which is ignored in campus science classes.
"We hope people think, 'How come we don't hear about this in our classes?'" Arreza said.
This is kind of fun: "[t]he pro-intelligent design scholar" is, no less, Casey Luskin. Now, we can all think of many epithets for Casey ... but scholar?
Then there is this:
... Lusskin added intelligent design is neither simply a negative argument against evolution, nor is it necessarily an appeal to a supernatural power, such as God.Of course, you wouldn't necessarily make an appeal to a supernatural power to a Christian apologetics campus group ... Heaven Forfend!
The rest is blather, borrowed, as always, from "Creation Science," such as:
"Common design could be another explanation," [Casey] said. "While human and ape DNA is said to be 99 percent similar, why couldn't the cause of that be a common blueprint, because it is a useful design?"There is much other silliness but how many times can you beat the grass where a dead horse once peed?
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Sleight of Handwaiving
In Chapter 19, he argues against Methodological Naturalism and, in particular, tries to excuse the failure of ID to specify just how their relentlessly unspecified intelligent designer actually achieves its alleged effect on the material world. At page 397 he states:
At present no one has any idea how our thoughts—the decisions and choices that occur in our conscious minds—affect our material brains, nerves, and muscles, going on to instantiate our will in the material world of objects. However, we know that is exactly what our thoughts do. We have no mechanistic explanation for the mystery of consciousness, nor what is called the "mind-body problem"—the enigma of how thought affects the material state of our brains, bodies, and the world that we affect with them. Yet there is no doubt that we can—as the result of events in our conscious minds called decisions or choices—"will into existence" information-rich arrangements of matter or otherwise affect material states in the world.On the next page, he says:
We do know of a cause that can produce the functional information necessary to build complex systems. But we do not know exactly how mind interfaces with matter. If we were to ask what caused the Rosetta Stone to arise, and then insist despite all evidence to the contrary that a purely material process is capable of producing the information-rich etchings on that stone, we would be deluding ourselves. The information etched into that black slab of igneous rock at the British Museum provides overwhelming evidence that an intelligent agent did cause those inscriptions.First of all, notice the shift between talking about our present lack of knowledge of how "choices" in our "mind" (which many philosophers and neuroscientists think are, in fact, illusionary) act on the brain, to the assertion that "all evidence" is that our "intelligence" is not "a purely material process."
It's not hard to reach an "inference" to non-materialistic design when you assume it in your premise.
Of course, to use a favorite phrase of the IDers, "we have abundant experience in the present" that, if you physically damage a human brain, a material object, say by putting a bullet in it, the "mind" ceases to interface with matter ... fairly strong evidence that, in humans at least, "mind" is a material process ... unless ghost stories are now part of the "evidence" for ID.
Furthermore, we have good evidence exactly how those letters arose on the Rosetta Stone from the chisel marks and our discovery of the sort of period tools that made them. Humans do not "will" such things into existence, we use fully material means to produce material objects. Where is the evidence of how the designer caused the supposedly sudden change in animal morphology during the Cambrian? If IDers can't specify that, then their whole "analogy" of human design to disembodied design collapses from its lack of correspondence.
And, no, "poof" is not a scientific explanation.
P.S. By the way, in that chapter Meyer uses the same quote from Richard Lewontin that the openly creationist plaintiffs in Kansas used in their lawsuit ... showing, once again, that the only thing making ID distinguishable from creationism is that the creationists are (slightly) more honest.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Failing to COPE
Just nine paragraphs in they dredge up the infamous quote from Richard Lewontin from his review of Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark:
The Orthodoxy is an atheistic faith-based doctrine that has been candidly explained by Richard Lewontin, a prominent geneticist and evolutionary biologist, as follows: "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." [Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons 44 N.Y. REV. OF BOOKS 31 (Jan. 9, 1997) (emphasis added)]I was unaware before that Lewontin was a prophet or that the New York Review of Books was scripture that could establish "Orthodoxy."
Anyway, here is the quote in context:
With great perception, Sagan sees that there is an impediment to the popular credibility of scientific claims about the world, an impediment that is almost invisible to most scientists. Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. When, at the time of the moon landing, a woman in rural Texas was interviewed about the event, she very sensibly refused to believe that the television pictures she had seen had come all the way from the moon, on the grounds that with her antenna she couldn't even get Dallas. What seems absurd depends on one's prejudice. Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity "in deep trouble." Two's company, but three's a crowd.While I think that Lewontin was not terribly clear in this review, the closing paragraph of the review helps:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.
Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.Contrary to the plaintiff's claim that Lewontin was establishing or expressing an "Orthodoxy" of atheistic science, he is actually arguing against such certainty and against what he sees as the rhetoric of Sagan and the other "
It's not exactly a quote mine ... it's a failure of reading comprehension, whether inadvertent or intentional.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
You may remember Calvert as a lawyer (Oh, Shame!) who was a prominent figure in Kansas "evolution wars" of the 2000s. He was a founder of the Intelligent Design Network that helped, briefly, to make Kansas a laughingstock by removing the word "evolution" from the state standards and by redefining "science" to include supernatural causes.
Now he seems to be behind a lawsuit to prevent Kansas from actually adopting the
An anti-evolution group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to block Kansas from using new, multistate science standards in its public schools, arguing the guidelines promote atheism and violate students' and parents' religious freedom.Not so, says Calvert!:
The group, Citizens for Objective Public Education, had criticized the standards developed by Kansas, 25 other states and the National Research Council for treating both evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts to be taught from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Kansas State Board of Education adopted them in June to replace evolution-friendly standards that had been in place since 2007.
The new standards, like the ones they replaced, reflect the mainstream scientific view that evolution is well-established. Most board members believed the guidelines will improve science education by shifting the emphasis in science classes to doing hands-on projects and experiments.
"The state's job is simply to say to students, 'How life arises continues to be a scientific mystery and there are competing ideas about it,'" said John Calvert, a Lake Quivira attorney involved in the lawsuit.Huh? I'd be very surprised if the standards say the origin of life is scientifically settled.
Oh, wait a minute, that's a windmill, isn't it? What he really means is that the diversity of life, particularly how humans originated, is not scientifically settled.
Of course, it is! Common descent is as firmly established scientifically as that the Earth orbits the Sun rather than vice versa.
As Joshua Rosenau, programs and policy director for the National Center for Science Education, said: "[t]hey're trying to say anything that's not promoting their religion is promoting some other religion."
The lawsuit argues that the new standards will cause Kansas public schools to promote a "non-theistic religious worldview" by allowing only "materialistic" or "atheistic" explanations to scientific questions, particularly about the origins of life and the universe. The suit further argues that state would be "indoctrinating" impressionable students in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's protections for religious freedom.No, by the time you're in middle school, you'll (hopefully) be educated in science.
Calvert said the new standards are particularly troubling because students would start learning evolutionary concepts in kindergarten.
"By the time you get into the third grade, you learn all the essential elements of Darwinian evolution," Calvert said. "By the time you're in middle school, you're a Darwinist."
As Judge Overton stated in McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, favorably cited by Justice Powell and Justice O'Connor in their concurrence in Edwards v. Aguillard:
[I]t is clearly established in the case law, and perhaps also in common sense, that evolution is not a religion and that teaching evolution does not violate the Establishment Clause (Citations omitted).As Steven Case, director of the University of Kansas' science education center, said, previous court rulings suggest that this lawsuit "won't hold up."
"This is about as frivolous as lawsuits get," Case said.But what fun would it be if
Update: The NCSE has a post on this with more good legal references.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Old Guy: "Get Off My Lawn!"
He made his comments in a letter published by Italy's La Repubblica newspaper on Tuesday. Specifically, it was in response to a book by Piergiorgio Odifreddi, a member of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
Benedict spends time in the letter denying that he tried to cover up sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests or was otherwise part of the problem rather than the solution. But here's the part where the stomach-wrenching turns to belly laughs:
In response to Odifreddi's 2009 declaration that the church preaches conjecture, not facts, and is therefore "science fiction", Benedict said: "There is, moreover, science fiction in a big way just even within the theory of evolution. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins is a classic example of science fiction."I suggest one old fossil should visit another ... by the name of Tiktaalik.
He added: "The great Jacques Monod wrote the sentences that he has inserted in his work certainly just as science fiction. I quote: 'The emergence of tetrapod vertebrates … draws its origin from the fact that a primitive fish' chose 'to go and explore the land, on which, however, was unable to move except jumping clumsily and thus creating, as a result of a modification of behaviour, the selective pressure due to which would have developed the sturdy limbs of tetrapods'".
Sunday, September 22, 2013
This is the fun part:
The general theory of organic evolution requires that animals with four-chambered hearts, mammals and birds, evolved from animals with three-chambered hearts, amphibians and reptiles. If so, sometime along the way there would have been animals with three-and-a-half chambered hearts. Now, every oilfield roughneck, as I was, knows that a three-and-a-half cylinder pump would not work. It does not require science credentials to know that.Except ... wait for it ... there are animals with three-and-a-half chambered hearts. They are called "turtles":
Turtles are a curious transition — they still have three chambers, but a wall, or septum is beginning to form in the single ventricle. This change affords the turtle's body blood that is slightly richer in oxygen than the frog's.Once again, a creationist mistakes ignorance for evidence.
Most up to date is Charles R. Marshall's review in Science entitled "When Prior Belief Trumps Scholarship." Of most interest to me is this from Marshall's review:
It [Marshall's disappointment in the book] stems from Meyer's systematic failure of scholarship. For instance, while I was flattered to find him quote one of my own review papers*—although the quote is actually a chimera drawn from two very different parts of my review—he fails to even mention the review's (and many other papers') central point: that new genes did not drive the Cambrian explosion. His scholarship, where it matters most, is highly selective.That's the same "chimera" (a polite term for "quote mine") that John Farrell revealed in his review of the book in National Review.
Casey Luskin tried to poo-poo the quote mine as merely an "alleged misuse of an ellipsis" but now we see that the author himself feels abused by Meyer.
Not that a little thing like honesty is going to give the IDers any pause.
*C. R. Marshall, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 34, 355 (2006).
Via John Harshman at talk.origins
Saturday, September 21, 2013
He states that ID challenges "New Atheism" (of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens) and "Theistic Evolutionism" (of Francis Collins) ... neither of which are science. Amusingly, he goes so far as to say "the theory of intelligent design, which Collins says he opposes, does not necessarily challenge this part (common descent) of Darwinian theory" (Emphasis added). It's hard to see how you can be "scientific" and not necessarily support common descent but, hey, they're striving for nothing if not a big tent.
But let's get down to the nitty-gritty:
Unlike the theistic evolution of Francis Collins, however, the theory of intelligent design does not seek to confine the activity of such an agency to the beginning of the universe, conveying the impression of a decidedly remote and impersonal deistic entity. Nor does the theory of intelligent design merely assert the existence of a creative intelligence behind life. It identifies and detects activity of the designer of life, and does so at different points in the history of life, including the explosive show of creativity on display in the Cambrian event. The ability to detect design makes belief in an intelligent designer (or a creator, or God) not only a tenet of faith, but something to which the evidence of nature now bears witness. In short, it brings science and faith into real harmony.Because the purpose of the "science" of ID is to bring science and faith into harmony ... opps! Where have I heard that before?
Just as importantly, perhaps, the case for design supports us in our existential confrontation with the void and the seeming meaninglessness of physical existence—the sense of survival for survival's sake that follows inexorably from the materialist worldview. Richard Dawkins and other New Atheists may find it untroubling, even amusing and certainly profitable, to muse over the prospect of a universe without purpose. But for the vast majority of thoughtful people, that idea is tinged with terror. Modern life suspends many of us, so we feel, high over a chasm of despair. It provokes feelings of dizzying anxiety—in a word, vertigo. The evidence of a purposeful design behind life, on the other hand, offers the prospect of significance, wholeness, and hope.Well, so much for the claim, solely for constitutional purposes, that the "Designer" is anything other than God. After all, why would an alien or time traveler or some such offer us a "prospect of significance, wholeness, and hope"? More importantly, if you are willing to lie in order to evade the consequences of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, why should we believe you about anything else, including your criticism of evolutionary theory?
As my son walked out across the mountain high above the Yoho Valley, he was surrounded by many slabs of rock containing some of the very fossils we had come to see. But as he surveyed that barren portion of landscape, he lost perspective on where he was and what he had come to do. Without landmarks or steadying points of reference, he felt as if he were lost in a sea of sensory impressions. Without his sense of balance, he feared even to take a step. He called out for his father.Except that your stated "consummation Devoutly to be wished" gives us reason to doubt your "compelling explanation" for accepting ID, especially since the vast majority of scientists reject it.
It occurred to me only much later how closely his experience parallels our own as human beings trying to make sense of the world around us. To gain a true picture of the world and our place in it we need facts-empirical data. But we also need perspective, sometimes called wisdom, the reference points that a coherent view of the world provides. Historically, that wisdom was provided for many men and women by the traditions of Western monotheism—by our belief in God. The theory of intelligent design generates both excitement and loathing because, in addition to providing a compelling explanation of the scientific facts, it holds out the promise of help in integrating two things of supreme importance—science and faith—that have long been seen as at odds.
The theory of intelligent design is not based upon religious belief, nor does it provide a proof for the existence of God. But it does have faith-affirming implications precisely because it suggests the design we observe in the natural world is real, just as a traditional theistic view of the world would lead us to expect. Of course, that by itself is not a reason to accept the theory. But having accepted it for other reasons, it may be a reason to find it important.
If it quacks like apologetics ...