Sunday, July 29, 2012


Fluoride Lowers IQ

... just not the way the opponents think.

Friday, July 27, 2012


The Real Un-Americans

What do the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Hindu American Foundation, American Baptist Churches USA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations, the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the United Church of Christ have in common with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way, the American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance of America, American Atheists, the Center for Inquiry, the Secular Coalition for America, the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers and the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP?

They are among the signatories of a letter condemning the lunatic anti-Muslim paranoia of Representatives Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) who see the Muslim Brotherhood lurking under every bed.

It's worthwhile to read the whole thing:
Dear Rep. Bachman, Rep. Franks, Rep. Gohmert, Rep. Rooney and Rep. Westmoreland:

The 42 undersigned religious, secular, interfaith, advocacy, legal and community organizations are united by our work to protect religious freedom for all. As such, we write to raise our voices in protest of your recent letters regarding prominent American Muslim individuals and organizations. These letters question the loyalty of faithful Americans based on nothing more than their religious affiliations and what is at best tenuous evidence of their associations. As such, your actions have serious implications for religious freedom and the health of our democracy.

In your open letters to the inspectors general of the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, you call for an investigation into individuals and organizations that you claim may have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The basis for these claims comes primarily from reports by the Center for Security Policy, known for its consistently anti-Muslim agenda.

Those you accuse—including Ms. Huma Abedin and leaders of the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Muslim Advocates—have long-standing histories of positive and committed work to strengthen the United States of America. Furthermore, we take offense to the implications of your actions for the American Muslim community as a whole, as you give momentum to "guilt by association" accusations and betray our foundational religious freedoms.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) spoke well of the vision of America jeopardized by your approach when he said: "When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it." More recently, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) provided a much-needed reminder about what religious freedom means in the United States: "…the First Amendment prohibits the government from making a distinction between what is a 'good religion' and what is a 'bad religion.'"

Far from supporting the safety of our country, these accusations distract us from examining legitimate threats using proven, evidence-based security strategies. Moreover, we know all too well the danger of casting suspicion on loyal and innocent Americans simply because they hold particular beliefs. We will not stand idly by and allow our country to revive federal investigations into innocent individuals based on their religious adherence. We will continue to speak out in support of people of all faiths and no faith, and the religious freedom of all Americans to practice—or choose not to practice—a religion without fear of criticism or suspicion.


African American Ministers in Action
American Atheists
American Baptist Churches USA
American Civil Liberties Union
American Humanist Association
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Atheist Alliance of America
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Camp Quest
Catholics for Choice
Center for Inquiry
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Counselors Helping (South) Asians/Indians, Inc. (CHAI)
Disciples Justice Action Network
Equal Partners in Faith
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations
Faith in Public Life
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hindu American Foundation
Interfaith Alliance
Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers
National Council of Jewish Women
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
People for the American Way
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office Of Public Witness
Rabbis for Human Rights-North America
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Secular Coalition for America
Secular Student Alliance
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
Society for Humanistic Judaism
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)

Via Wall of Separation

Thursday, July 26, 2012



Zack Kopplin, who has been leading the opposition to Louisiana's "Science [sic] Education [sic] Act," has also produced a report on the cost of the state's "voucher program," which will spend over $10 million to send 1,230 students to 19 private schools which teach anti-science (creationism and/or Intelligent Design).

We already know that even the most benighted fundamentalists know that the state is failing their children by being next to the last in the nation in education.

But, then, Louisiana's pro rata share of scientific and tech jobs ... you know, the ones that the US will need to develop in order to compete in the global economy and keep our children and grandchildren from just being hamburger flippers for Chinese, Indian and Brazilian tourists ... is now 47th out of 50 states. 49th ... 47th ... hmm ...

Gov. Alfred E. ("Bobby") Jindal is condemning the children of his state to living in a backwater of the future for the temporary political advantage of pandering to the ignoratti. The fact that he, himself, had access to a good education makes his crass calculation even more venal.

Sunday, July 22, 2012



It is inevitable, I suppose. It could be called Columbineitis.

Some poor troubled soul, with the aid of irrational laws that make deadly weapons freely available to anyone anytime, goes on a rampage of killing, despite having been a "normal Christian boy," and some pompous asshole will declare the tragic shootings were the result of teaching students that they "are no different than animals."

James McGrath has an appropriate response:
He is wrong to suggest a correlation between the teaching of evolution and mass murder. As Paul Braterman pointed out in a comment on Facebook, the United States is weaker on the teaching of evolution, both in terms of the number of people who deny it and the number of biology teachers who skip it to avoid controversy, than any other major industrialized nation. We are, on the other hand, the leaders when it comes to the number of shooting deaths and mass murders that take place each year. There may be no actual connection between science education and shooting sprees, but if there were, it would presumably have to be due to our relative failure to teach evolution, rather than with our teaching it.
But we may just lead the world in pompous assholes.


Update: Rick Warren claims he wasn't referring to the shooting in Colorado or to evolution. I'm not sure I find his explanation wholely credible, but there it is.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Who You Should Be

In a stunningly articulate explanation of transsexualism, Zinnia Jones makes only one mistake ... when she says "I wasn't that smart after all."

Via Camels With Hammers

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Yeah, Right!

There's nothing wrong with a commander attending, even publicizing and encouraging ... a good and positive event for the morale and the welfare of military personnel.

There's nothing wrong with a commander saying, 'This is an event that I support and I am going to.' You're encouraged to go, but you are not ordered to go.

- Retired Col. Ron Crews, Executive Director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, a conservative Christian organization representing evangelical chaplains, concerning Christian proselytizing at the US Air Force Academy.
Of course, you can believe your military commander, the person who holds your career literally in his/her hands, when you are told that this or that prayer-fest is good for the morale and the welfare of your fellow soldiers, and who [cough] suggests you attend, that there will be no repercussions if you don't.

Riiight! We all believe that!

Here's the kicker:
"As I understand, Mikey Weinstein's [founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation] interpretation of the First Amendment is that we have freedom from religion instead of freedom of religion." Crews said. "Just because someone puts on the uniform does not mean that they give up their God-given, constitutionally protected religious liberties."
Why, yes, every American has the constitutionally protected freedom from government-imposed religion, including the use of intimidation by government superiors over their subordinates.

Imagine if an atheist commander "suggested" that his or her subordinates attend the Rock Beyond Belief festival because it was a "positive event for the morale and the welfare of military personnel."

The screams from Crews and the rest of the Religious Right would be deafening.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


You Can't Teach old Hucksters ...

There is an nice article at something called God Discussion, a site purportedly "for people exploring religion and sometimes controversial views about belief and gods." It is entitled "A Look at the State Republican Platforms: More than 1 in 5 state parties agree, creationism should be taught as science," and it says much about the antiscientific nature of the party, at least at the grassroots level.

By all means go look at it. Among the things that it does is review some of the state Republican Party platforms. Try not to let your head explode.

But this one deserves notice:
The 2011 platform of the Republican Party of Oklahoma states in its section on education:
4. We believe that the scientific evidence supporting Intelligent Design and biblical creation should be included in Oklahoma public schools curricula. And where any evolution theory is taught, both should receive equal funding, class time, and material.
Hello ... HELLO!!!

Not just "balanced" treatment? But equal treatment?!?!

Umm: Edwards v. Aguillard.

But, hey! It doesn't cost the Republican establishment anything to promise the impossible to the rubes or even to let the rubes write clearly unconstitutional planks into the platform ... as long as the rubes keep contributing and voting against their own interests.

Hucksters will always triumph over the rubes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


It Takes a Special Stupid

This is usually Ed Brayton's territory. But Bryan Fisher has just said something so stupid that I have to point and laugh:
Because after all, Obamacare is all about improving the health of the American people," the radio host explained. "We know that going to church is good for you, it's good for your health. So we are going to mandate that you go to church for your own health and we are going to tax the atheists who don't go to church.
Just to start, the claim that 'going to church is good for you' is not exactly on a par with 'having access to health care is good for you' but never mind that. And, of course, the purpose of "Obamacare" is not so much to improve health as it is to reduce the social cost of sick people ... the additional taxes we pay to treat people in public hospitals, who might not have been so sick in the first place if they had access to preventative health care ... but never mind that either.

The really amusing thing is that, if we started taxing people for not going to church, then churches couldn't refuse to allow atheists, heretics and other unbelievers in ... the same way we don't allow hospitals to refuse to treat people. As Keith Parsons at The Secular Outpost points out:
Well, if it comes to that, atheists should go to church! They should go to the local fundamentalist barn and sit on the front row in gym shorts and T-shirts. The T-shirt will read: "I won't teach evolution in your church if you don't teach creation in my school." Or maybe: "Jesus, protect me from your followers." They should laugh very loudly and scornfully at every stupid thing that is said, snicker and mutter during prayers, and sing the hymns very loudly and as off-key as possible.
As I said, it takes a special stupid to be a believer like Fisher.

Sunday, July 08, 2012


Mad Men

I thought this was rather amusing.

Now, as I understand it, these ads are placed by third-party agencies and Ed Brayton had to replace the one he originally chose because they had no way to put in filters to target the ads to the likely readers of Freethought Blogs. And, of course, FtB doesn't get any money if people dont 'click through.'

Presumably, the advertizers also pay a fee and they are wasting their money if their ads are not put on sites where they might generate business.

I wonder who is losing the most here.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


Of Chickens, Homes and Roosts

This is deliciously ironic.

First of all, consider the new front runner for dumbest state legislator in America: Republican (natch) Rep. Valarie Hodges of Louisiana:
Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal's overhaul of the state's educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools. 
"I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America's Founding Fathers' religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools," the District 64 Representative said Monday.

"I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school," Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that "religious" meant "Christian."
She's heard of people called "Founding Fathers" but hasn't a clue about what they did ... as in writing a Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But it gets better:
The Livingston Parish School Board voted unanimously June 21 to join 19 other school districts in a lawsuit against the state, challenging the constitutionality of Act 2 (formerly HB976).

School Superintendent Bill Spear said that 124 of the 125 voucher-approved schools have some sort of religious affiliation. ...

The new system improperly uses public school funding for vouchers to pay tuition to private schools, including those run by religious groups, according to the lawsuit.
That would be the same Livingston Parish School Board that was so dumb that they couldn't understand the nudge, nudge, wink, wink of the Undiscovery Institute-inspired Louisiana Science [sic] Education [sic] Act and thought it meant they could teach outright creationism, giving Bruce Chapman apoplexy.

And, after all, the public schools can teach religion as well or better than private schools anyway.

But the cherry on the top is this:
Hodges said she was sympathetic with the Governor's overall goal of bringing "meaningful reform to our education system, because we are next to the last in the nation."
Geeze, with people like you in charge, who'd uv thunk it?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012



There is a fine (relatively) new entry in the anti-creationism blogosphere:

Eye on the ICR

... by a High School Student from "a small country you've probably never heard of" ...

We could use a few of them over here!


Who They Are

Everything you ever neeeded to know about scientists.



There are certain things you can expect on the Fourth of July ... picnics ... fireworks ... the Discovery [sic] Institute lying about Thomas Jefferson ...

Jefferson was a providentialist ... he believed in an ultimately benevolent God. He believed it was rational to believe in such a God.

However, unless you are a lying pack of PR hacks, there is no reason to believe that Thomas Jefferson would need the ACLU to remind him about the difference between theology and science.

I wish I could say that it takes a special kind of scum to try to use the Fourth as an occasion for deceptive political rhetoric ... but I can't ... we'll get plenty of that today.

But there is no reason not to point out the pipsqueaks while they are at it.

Monday, July 02, 2012



What happens when you try to speak rationally to a conservative ideologue:
Laura Ingraham: Welcome to our show.  
Rev. Rebecca Turner: Thank you for inviting me.  
LI: You are a minister so I take it you follow the teachings of Jesus.  
RT: Yes, that's true.  
LI: If Jesus were here today do you think he would counsel a woman to have an abortion?  
RT: Jesus always showed compassion to women. He acted with respect even to the ones who were accused of sexual impropriety. I'm sure Jesus would do the same thing today, and that's my model.  
LI: [Angrily] You didn't answer my question. So you think Jesus would applaud the murder of millions of innocent children, in the first, second, and third trimester?  
RT: We know that abortion existed during the time Jesus was on earth, and for thousands of years before that. If he were opposed to abortion he would have said something about it.  
LI: [More angrily] Where do you get the idea that Jesus knew about abortion?  
RT: We know that abortion has existed for thousands of years, so I'm confident that Jesus would have been aware. There were many plants used as medicinal abortifacients in that part of the world. And yet his concern was for the way women were being treated.  
LI: [Nearly screaming] What part of "Thou shalt not kill" don't you understand?  
RT: The Bible actually says "Thou shalt not murder." I'm sure you would agree that every ending of a life is not murder.  
LI: [Frustrated] Well you have your 40 prayers. I'll pray for you and this interview is over!  
LI: [Hangs up.]

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Intelligent Design Creationism

Does there need to be anything more said about ID being creationism than this from William Dembski?
My presentation was titled "An Information-Theoretic Proof of God's Existence," in which I showed how the type of information we find in living systems is beyond the creative means of purely material processes, so that if we backtrack this information in time, the amount of information that needs to be accounted for only intensifies. This leads to a regress of information that naturally points to some ultimate source of information. Who or what is such an ultimate source of information? From a naturalistic perspective, such a source remains a mystery. But from a theistic perspective, such an information source would presumably have to be God.

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