Tag Archives: atheist

Scientists Visit Creationist Museum

The University of Cincinnati hosted the North American Paleontological Convention last week. In what appears to be a planned field trip, approximately 70 paleontologists, paleozoologists and geologists toured the Creationist Museum in Petersburg Kentucky. Apparently they were unimpressed, and who can blame them?

Many of the paleontologists thought the museum misrepresented and ridiculed them and their work and unfairly blamed them for the ills of society.

“I think they should rename the museum — not the Creation Museum, but the Confusion Museum,” said Lisa E. Park, a professor of paleontology at the University of Akron.

“Unfortunately, they do it knowingly,” Dr. Park said. “I was dismayed. As a Christian, I was dismayed.”

Sorry abuot that Dr. Park. I can only imagine what it’s like to have one’s life’s work completely taken out of context and abused and mangled in the way hers has been. But even sadder, I think, are those who visit the museum with the expectation and belief that what is being represented is not a point of view, but verifiable scientific fact. That it’s passed on to children as fact is even worse.

Terry Mortenson, a lecturer and researcher for Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built and runs the Creation Museum, said he did not expect the visit to change many minds. “I’m sure for the most part they’ll be of a different view from what’s presented here,” Dr. Mortenson said. “We’ll just give the freedom to see what they want to see.”

Dr. Mortenson and others at the museum say they look at the same rocks and fossils as the visiting scientists, but because of different starting assumptions they arrive at different answers. For example, they say the biblical flood set off huge turmoil inside the Earth that broke apart the continents and pushed them to their current locations, not that the continents have moved over a few billion years.

“Everyone has presuppositions what they will consider, what questions they will ask,” said Dr. Mortenson, who holds a doctorate in the history of geology from Coventry University in England. “The very first two rooms of our museum talk about this issue of starting points and assumptions. We will very strongly contest an evolutionist position that they are letting facts speak for themselves.”

I love it when religious people disagree with the fundamental conclusions of a scientific discipline but then try to use select parts of those conclusions to support their positions. It’s one thing* to reject science in favor of religion. It’s quite another to completely misrepresent science in order to force it to conform with your world view. The above statement is more than merely uninformed opinion, it’s intentional deceit. This man and the people working at the museum are intentionally deceiving the public in order to make their beliefs seem as though they actually have some bearing in scientific fact.

I’m more than a little amused that people who become so bellicose about science ‘making a mockery of religion’ are completely sanguine with the science fiction that is Creationism. It’s as if they thought to themselves that because science (in their opinions) belittles their beliefs, they now have the right to criticize science. Which seems somewhat arrogant and ignorant all at the same time.

What they don’t seem to realize is that science isn’t around specifically to disprove god or religion or anything of the sort. All science does…is explain our physical universe. Believe it or not my ignorant little theists, it is not necessary to even look at god in order to  do that. I do not need to invoke some unseen unknown inscrutable thing in order to know what conditions need to exist in order for lightning to occur. That isn’t a slight, no matter how badly you want to take it as one. It’s just that science sees that the simplest explanation is usually the best and most accurate. You need to get over yourselves. In short: science just ain’t that into you.

*Okay, yes, one very stupid thing.

Oklahoma State Legislature Jumps the Shark, Film at 11

Recently, the University of Oklahoma to speak at their celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. Dawkins’ talk focused on “seeing purpose all around by looking at the differences between the appearance of purpose, as seen in evolutionary development, and true purpose, being the product of the mind.” All went well, and Dawkins was greeted like a rock star.

Sadly, Rep. Todd Thompson was so threatened by the very thought of the brilliant biologist speaking and discussing evolution at a public university, he went and wrote up two resolutions, one of which stated:

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

Rep. Thompson, how dare you? How dare you attempt to enforce what can only be called censorship and hide behind the people of Oklahoma? And how dare you use something as transparent as argumentum ad populum to hide your repugnant and ignorant views? Once the “views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma” have a say in what can and cannot be taught at the UO, then that university will quickly top the list of “schools not to attend.”

The University of Oklahoma is not a religious university.  It is a state institution, and as such is subject to the laws not only of the State of Oklahoma but also the United States. Censorship is a crime, and your resolution is censorship, Mr. Thompson. It is to be hoped that the rest of the state legislature will recognize the harm that would be done not only to the university, but to the state should these resolutions pass. The university will slide further behind the national average and lose students, tax dollars and prestige. The state in turn will become that much less competitive and functional and more deeply entrenched in economic stagnation.

This is precisely why religion should never be allowed control of the state. In every instance, ignorance triumphs over learning.

United States Becoming More Secular

A just-published study by the American Religious Identification Survey found that14.1% of Americans or 29,481,000 people identify as atheist, humanist, agnostic or non-religious (see pages 12-13, SO sorry about the PDF).

Additionally, nearly 40% of those who identified as Christian stated that neither they themselves nor members of their families belonged to or attended a church or religious institution. The difference between “identification as” and “affiliation with” [a religious institution] is very pronounced: people call themselves Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim… but don’t attend Church/Temple/Mosque. The association is more a state of mind than actual state of being.

Can we now, then dispense with the meme that “we are a Christian nation”? That in fact, we are a nation of people, many of whom identify when asked as Christian, but have no actual ties to any Christian church?

I take this as a particularly encouraging sign. What was previously seen as an impenetrable wall now seems no more than smoke and mirrors. Church membership is declining. Atheism and humanism is markedly on the rise. Reason is making headway in public schools and government. It does lead me to wonder, however, just how accurate a certain survey was. You know the one. It shows atheists as being the least trusted group in the U.S. With close to one fifth of the U.S. atheist/agnostic or non-religious….just how accurate is that statement?

Ted Haggard’s Closet Gets a Little Fuller

Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted, Ted. What are we going to do with you?

Yes, it’s true. Ted Haggard, public homophobe and pastor of the Denver New Life Mega-Church, is once again the center of a gay sex scandal. I know. I’m as shocked as you. Who would’ve thought that just two short years after having meth fueled sex with a male hooker (which I understand isn’t nearly as pleasurable or fulfilling as the straight laced hetero man on top get it over with quick with the lights out kind), yet ANOTHER story about Ted Haggard having gay sex with a member of his own church would find its way to the surface? Other than me and, probably, you.

The article states:

Boyd said an “overwhelming pool of evidence” pointed to an “inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship” that “went on for a long period of time … it wasn’t a one-time act.” Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.”

Ohhh, good. Because of all the things wrong with the head of a mega church that influences public policy by snuggling up to the President of the United States and getting him to pass harmful legislation against gays and women being found to have gay sex with a young member of his church, the one I’m MOST worried about is whether the young man was underage or not. Mr. Boyd, are we on the same planet? I think something a bit more worrisome was the fact that Mr. Haggard paid the kid off.

In a letter e-mailed Friday to New Life Church members, Boyd said of the settlement and agreement not to talk: “This decision was made not as an attempt to conceal wrongdoings, but to protect him from those who would seek to exploit him.”

Okay. I think we’re stretching the suspension of disbelief a little far, even for Christians. If part of the agreement was explicitly that neither party discuss the affair? It was hush money.

In an AP interview this month before an appearance in front of TV critics in California, Haggard described his sexuality as complex and something that can’t be put into “stereotypical boxes.”

*sigh*…. Ted? Ted, you’re gay, and you’re closeted. That’s about as boxed in as you can get. Look. I’m going to try to help you. I know you’re scared and  I know you’re worried, but at this point…how much worse can it really get? You lost your church, you lost your reputation, you’re a national joke, and the woman you’re married to doesn’t trust you now and (thanks to this new thing) probably never will again. You’ve shamed your children. Was it worth it? Ted…stop making their and your life miserable. There IS a way. Two simple words, and then … believe it or not… life will get easier. Ready? Repeat after me. “I’m gay.” Now own it. It will be okay. I promise. Your wife will be able to move on with her life. You may even be able to mend fences with her. Your kids will need lots of attention and understanding, but you could really be a model dad, one who shows just what grace and acceptance really mean, not all that fire and brimstone crap you’ve been spewing for years. And YOU, Ted, will be happy. At least, happier than you are now. Believe it.

And later, we’ll work on that whole god fixation thing.

Texas Rejects God in the Science Classroom

I am still being surprised by my adopted state. I have had to reject my preconceived notions about Texas and recognize that, while some stereotypes do apply, when it comes to politics and sociological views, it’s as diverse as my home state of California.

Today Texas stepped firmly into the 21st century and embraced science without religion. Although it isn’t final, the fifteen member board voted to remove the “strengths and weaknesses” clause in the state’s science curriculum as it applies to evolution. The clause has previously been used to open the door to the “alternative theory” of Intelligent Design.

The article states:

The new science curriculum standards will take effect beginning with the 2010-2011 school year and last about 10 years.

[snip]

Instead of allowing teachers to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolutionary theory, the proposed science curriculum standards would encourage students to apply critical thinking, scientific reasoning and problem solving “to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing.”

In other words, YES, question evolutionary theory. YES, look for gaps in reasoning and facts. But use facts to get there. The original wording of the “strengths and weaknesses clause” reads as follows:

(1) good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and

(2) where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.


Never mind that were science simply taught as science, there would BE no controversy, or that religion and philosophy have no place in a science classroom, or even that the US Senator who originally proposed the clause was a huge proponent of intelligent design and felt religion should be re-instituted into public schools. Just go ahead and teach the kids that not everyone “believes in” evolution because we need them to know God’s there, too. No. If you want your kids to know that God’s there, too, YOU teach them that. Let the science teachers teach science. It isn’t their job to remind them that they need to feel guilty for learning there’s more to the universe than was covered in the Bible/Torah/Qu’ran.

So I think it is an astounding and wonderful and courageous move by the Texas Board of Education that in the face of knee jerk reactionaries and politicians who are too afraid of not getting re-elected and the near omnipresent church (you can’t go three blocks without seeing a church in Texas), they agreed to let the kids learn how to apply logic and reason in their studies. Of course there are those who disagree:

Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, who voted to keep “strengths and weaknesses,” said he wouldn’t rubber stamp recommendations from the experts.

“This is a battle of academic freedom. This is a battle over freedom of speech,” Mercer said. “It’s an issue of freedom of religion.”

No, Mr. Mercer. It is not an issue of freedom of religion, because there IS no religion in our classrooms. It is an issue of teaching science in the classroom without fear of religion being inserted. It is an issue of teaching our children to be competitive in a global market. Because we owe them that. We owe our country that. The US is falling behind in scientific development, and the blame can be laid squarely on the shoulders of those superstitious uber religious fundamentalists who have been allowed to push their agenda in our schools and our government. No more.

Today I can honestly state that I am proud of my adopted state; happy to be a Texan.

Yet More Repression of Christians

The Christian News Wire (tag lined “The most used, recognized, respected religion newswire,” which made me smirk a bit) did a top ten list entitled “Top Ten Instances of Christian Bashing in America, 2008.”  Aside from the eye-rolling banality of yet another top-ten list (is there a single place in the blogosphere that DIDN’T put one out?), the list itself comes off as whiny, petulant and paranoid, filled with appeals to emotion, distortions and logical fallacies. Not to mention a distinct lack of citations for the assertions it makes.  A couple examples? I thought you’d never ask.

INSTANCE #5: Chaplains Fired for Praying in Jesus’ Name

Chaplains for the State of Virginia are being denied their right to pray in Jesus’ name. Six chaplains were fired for continuing to pray in Jesus’ name. Earlier this year in Virginia, Rev. Hashmel Turner, a city councilman in Fredericksburg, was told by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his prayers during city council meetings that ended in Jesus’ name will continue to be banned.

Sounds sinister, doesn’t it? If only it were true. In fact, the chaplains resigned in a snit because they were asked by the state to NOT reference Jesus Christ in prayers at public events and to keep the prayers non-denominational after a ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Yes, I have a citation. The new policy does not apply to private functions like funerals, just public state functions. Naturally, the reaction has been…well…over-reactionary:

In a statement Wednesday, Grayson County Delegate Bill Carrico called on the Superintendent to abandon, “this attack on Christianity.”

Delegate Morgan Griffith says, to “require those troopers to disregard their own faith while serving violates their First Amendment rights and prevents them from serving effectively as chaplains. These men had little choice but to resign.”

Aren’t we being just a little over the top? Nobody’s being asked to “disregard their own faith.” They’re being asked to actually obey the constitution and NOT attempt to force the state to recognize one religion over others. Y’know, if you’re going to invoke the first amendment, you’d better read the whole damn thing.

Next:

INSTANCE #10: Jack Black Musical Video

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, “Prop 8 The Musical,” an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible. Jack Black played the lead role of Jesus.

Um…Okay. First, Jack Black didn’t “defame” Christ, he portrayed Christ. Nor did he “distort” the teachings of the bible at all. Every single thing he said was true and a tenet of scripture. That Christians are not able to defend those tenets does not make it “defamation.” It just points out certain hypocrisy.

It’s difficult to take these people seriously. Really, I laughed when I read this list. Christians get everything they want by stamping their feet; they even manage to get programs removed from broadcast television and politicians discredited just by saying that person isn’t a Christian. But they’re being repressed? Yuh, right. No group in the history of our country has enjoyed such a protected position as Christians. The difference is that now, that position is being challenged because they’re not the only game in town, and they’re losing their power base. They now have to respect “freedom of religion” in practice as well as in theory. Which is something they’re just going to have to get over, because it isn’t going back to the old way any time soon.

First: Do No Harm. Unless You Disagree With Their Morals.

On December 19th, the Bush administration very quietly approved provisions to put the final nail in the coffin of American healthcare. Effective Jan 19th (one day, you will note, before President-elect Obama takes office), all entities tied to healthcare…including insurance companies…will be able to deny care or coverage for any service they feel disagrees with their moral code.

As a woman, I am furious. How dare you, Mr. Bush, tell any insurance company or doctor that I may not obtain reproductive health without risking my life? As a bisexual woman, I am seething. How dare you open the door to anyone to question me on my sexuality and deny me care because they don’t approve? As a nurse, I am so livid I am nearly speechless. We do not question the morality of our patients. It is not for us to judge. If someone comes to me because they are injured, in pain, or just have questions, I am here to do my best to help them. Their personal life is not for ME to judge. How dare ANYONE decide such a thing?

So now I can deny care based on my moral outrage? Fine. How would it be, then, if I, as an atheist, were to refuse care to fundamentalist Christians because I morally disagree with their warped perceptions of reality? How would it be if I were to refuse care to some redneck idiot who had broken his neck on his motorcycle because I’m morally opposed to treating morons who refuse to wear a helmet? How would it be were I to refuse to assist in delivering a baby because I think the world is overpopulated enough and it’s against my ethics?

Mr. Bush, you do not know the damage you have done. You think you are merely putting down rights for gays and women. I assure you, sir, you have no idea the death blow you have dealt my profession. I am saddened. But more, I am enraged that anyone would dare do such a thing as risk the lives of the people of this country all so that a few backward, self righteous, judgmental overbearing jerks can look down their noses and deny care to people they consider inferior to themselves.

I am sickened by the very thought of what this will do to a profession of which I have always been proud to be a part. There are simply no words for how disgusted I am by this ruling.