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More Evolution Talk
Entered on: January 3, 2005 8:33 PM by Ross
Well, since it's a constant favorite topic of mine, and all previous topics have too many comments, I thought I'd start a new topic.  
Here is an outrageously ignorant article written by a true dimwit:
and the proper, oh-so-satisfying smackdown is given by the folks at The Panda's Thumb. God, I love those guys.

NEWS 249 - 76 Comments
From: The Bone Entered on: January 4, 2005 12:35 AM
Good grief Charlie Brown. I can't stand it.  
When I was a Muffin's parents house, a news piece came on about calling it "The Holiday Season" versus "Christmas". The Holiday Season folks wanted to keep the Christian conotations out of it. I agree but don't really care what you call the December timeframe. Anyways, a lot of people were protesting and boycotting stores that didn't have "Merry Christmas" . They were quoted as saying, "Christ is the reason for the season". A good many people in the room with me had to agree.  
I started to get a little hot and came within inches of laying a Christmas smackdown. I wanted to tell them the pagan history behind their farking christmas tree and wreaths and for the date itself. I though they should be aware that most scholars believe Christ was born somewhere around April or May.  
Luckily I refrained and kept my tongue. However with the exception of a situation like that, I'm going to rebut any religious claim anyone makes. Muffin always asks me why I can allow people to believe in what they want. Well I can - JUST KEEP YOUR STUPIDITY TO YOUR FUCKING SELF. That is all I ask. If you are going to say something that I feel is ignorant and incorrect, I will retort. It is my duty.
From: Ross Entered on: January 3, 2005 9:09 PM
This comment is the perefect summary in a sea of gems:  
"What we have here is someone who is arguing that it?s ?censorship? not to teach criticisms that are laughably wrong while omitting crucial information. Why should we let someone completely ignorant of evolution dictate how we teach it? We wouldn?t let someone who couldn?t count tell us how to teach math. And if such a person screamed censorship, we?d immediately call them an idiot."
From: Ross Entered on: January 3, 2005 9:14 PM
I agree fully with you Bone, and I also concede that you did the right thing. It is your duty to rebut ignorant and offensive statements. But sometimes you also have to take one for the marital team.  
Lucky for me, Heather's family is non-confrontational and seems to have come to grips with my atheism. While they were all off praising Jesus at the local preacher station on Christmas Eve, I was fucking up Dark Jedi in Knights of the Old Republic II. A blasphemer's delight.  
It is shocking, though, how few Christians know anything about the origins of Christmas. It really reinforces the stereotype that religion promotes ignorance.
From: Creeko Entered on: January 7, 2005 7:26 AM
I just saw an old Burt Lancaster Film from 1960, Elmer Gantry, about a sinner/salesman turned preacher. It?s the kind of movie I never would have watched if I hadn?t caught the great disclaimer at opening about freedom of speech and freedom from religion and even a warning for parents to prevent "impressionable children" from watching it.  
It?s got a lot of preachin? but it also has an antagonist who?s an agnostic free thinking reporter. It was a supprisingly good flick. I was sure it was going to be a shit-fest of religion but I ended up enjoying it. Bert would probably like it too because it has a 100% tomato rating.  
"The movie is based on a 1927 novel by Sinclair Lewis and is about an alcoholic, womanizing huckster named Elmer Gantry who decides to become a revivalist preacher after getting the hots for a preacher lady named Sister Sharon at one of her revival meetings. The movie bashes revivalism pretty hard for it's showy entertainment, and lack of accountability and takes quite a few cheap shots at Christianity."  
The sweetest line in the movie was at the end when Lancaster?s character was walking away from the smoldering ruins of the tabernacle where his lover dies. The reporter tries to gives him the charred remains of his bible and asks him if he plans to rebuild and he says:  
?When I was a child, I spake as a child. I understood as a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things. St. Paul. First Corinthians. Thirteen eleven.?  
Then he walks away.  
It's kind os ironic how relevant this movie is forty years after it was released.  

From: Ross Entered on: January 7, 2005 10:19 AM
Thanks for giving away the ending Creeko. I was about to go out and rent it. :)  
But it does sound pretty good. Too bad it's probably not around to be downloaded because I never rent movies anymore. I guess I could *gasp* read the book, though.
From: The Bone Entered on: January 7, 2005 10:56 AM
I've seen the movie when I was a kid. I remember it being pretty decent. Considering I was a kid and didn't care for old movies, it must be good.
From: Ross Entered on: January 7, 2005 1:17 PM
Want to be TRULY offended by a religious zealot? The lady from was on Howard Stern today, turning my stomach before I even got out of bed. Her thoughts on the tsunami are so outrageous that I can't even characterize it in my own words:
From: Jackzilla Entered on: January 7, 2005 5:15 PM
Isn't the internet wonderful?
From: Swerb Entered on: January 8, 2005 10:55 AM
I can't get that link to work, Bert. It appears that the site may not exist anymore.  
It brings to mind a discussion I heard on Science Friday on NPR yesterday. The host and some scientists were talking about how to prevent natural disasters from happening, especially the possibility of a comet or asteroid strking the planet, and how they could send a probe up to knock a large projectile off course so it won't hit the earth. (More info.: ) So this fucking tard calls in and has the gall to say that such ideas were "thought up by atheists," how it would be a "colossal waste of money" to do it, and basically, if a comet hits the earth, then it's God's will and we should accept it. The guy apparently doesn't realize that it could potentially save hundreds of thousands (maybe millions!) of lives - or how morally bankrupt it is to say it costs too much money to at least try! How very Christian of him! The host, Ira Flatow, said, "Well, that's a point of view," before the scientists shrugged off such notions as being ludicrous. You could almost hear them rolling their eyes.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: January 8, 2005 3:16 PM
That reminds me of the story of the deeply religious man caught in a flood: Neighbors, friends and rescue workers all tried to convince him to leave his home and come with them. He refused and continued to pray that God would save him. Eventually his house was completely flooded and he drowned. The old man goes to heaven and asks God why he didn't save him! God replies, "I didn't try to save you?! I sent your family! I sent your neighbors! I sent police! I even sent rescue workers in helecopters!"
From: Ross Entered on: January 11, 2005 8:16 AM
Salon has a really great article on the Dover case against evolution. You'll have to watch an advertisement to read the whole thing but it's worth it:
By the way, the godhatesfags link above is back.
From: TallPat Entered on: January 11, 2005 9:07 PM
I am part way through the Salon article. I read the following sentences and have decided I need to double my giving to the ACLU.  
"Like a great many members of the Christian right, he sees the ACLU as a subversive, possibly demonic institution. Quoting James Kennedy, an influential Fort Lauderdale televangelist, he called the ACLU the "American Communist United League." "I maintain it's a communist front," he said."  
From: Ross Entered on: January 12, 2005 10:23 AM
Gotta love people like that.  
I have decided that I'm going to (try to) read a couple of Intelligent Design books. I'm not going to pay for them - I'm going to get them from the library. I figure it's worth reading one or two instead of always reading ABOUT them. I don't know why I torture myself...
From: Swerb Entered on: January 12, 2005 10:51 AM
Bert, you "torture yourself" in order to be fully informed on the issues you discuss and debate, unlike most people. Also, you do it for the good of the team, because you will inevitably share your findings with the rest of us Jackassarians while we're off reading comics. :)  
And Pate, regarding that quip from the televangelist, if, indeed, it was the American Communist United League, it would be the ACUL, not the ACLU. He apparently doesn't have a basic grip on the English language, which I think erodes his credibility a bit. Besides, it's essentially name-calling, something that the creationists in the article lean on heavily. They may as well call the evolution backers a bunch of doody-heads - it has the same impact.  
Finally, I grabbed the new issue of Discover, and it has a cover story about how a group of scientists at Michigan State have proved that evolution works. I haven't read it yet, but it's likely worth checking out.
From: Ross Entered on: January 12, 2005 12:54 PM
I remember reading something evolution-related recently about scientists at MSU, but I don't remember much about it. Suffice it to say, though, saying that they "proved evolution works" is a bit misleading, if I can be philosophical for a moment - in science, nothing is even proven. More likely, they have demonstrated certain evolutionary mechanisms, thereby adding more evidence to the heap that natural selection is in fact the primary mechanism of evolution of life on this planet.  
That reminds me that the latest NCSE newsletter talked about a teacher at GRCC who was named Michigan College Science Teacher of the year for leading the fight in Michigan to have evolution taught in schools. He co-founded the site - probably worth checking out.  
This page referring to MI legislation is particularly troubling for those of you who are going to have kids going thru public schools there:
But the good news is, it's free to join.
From: Ross Entered on: January 13, 2005 9:46 AM
This guy from talkorigins (a great site) has a nice essay on why creationism/ID shouldn't be taught. I really like his style.
and this one's pretty good too:

From: Swerb Entered on: January 13, 2005 10:38 AM
Woo hoo! A victory for reason:

From: Ross Entered on: January 13, 2005 10:44 AM
Dude that site requires registration. Can you cut and paste?
From: Swerb Entered on: January 13, 2005 11:54 AM
Yeah, sorry. I thought I could do a direct link after registering myself. Here it is:  
Cobb evolution stickers declared unconstitutional  
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  
Published on: 01/13/05  
A federal judge in Atlanta has declared unconstitutional the evolution disclaimers placed inside science text books by the Cobb County school system and ordered the "stickers" removed immediately.  
In a ruling issued today, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper said the stickers violate the Constitution.  
"Adopted by the school board, funded by the money of taxpayers, and inserted by school personnel, the sticker conveys an impermissible message of endorsement and tells some citizens that they are political outsiders while telling others they are political insiders," Cooper wrote in a 44-page decision.  
The stickers send "a message that the school board agrees with the beliefs of Christian fundamentalists and creationists," Cooper said. "The school board has effectively improperly entangled itself with religion by appearing to take a position. Therefore, the sticker must be removed from all of the textbooks into which it has been placed."  
The lawsuit challenging the disclaimers, which call evolution a "theory, not a fact," was brought by six parents who believed the disclaimers violated the principle of separation between church and state. Cooper heard three days of testimony, plus closing arguments, last November.  
The parents' attorney, Michael Manely, during the trial hit hard on the fact that a scientific theory is not the same as "theory" applied in everyday life. He called on several scientists to testify to that effect, including biologist and textbook author Kenneth Miller.  
Miller, of Brown University in Rhode Island, explained, "In science, you don't use the word 'theory' about a stupid hunch. Theories explain facts. They tie it together."  
Testimony from most of the five school board members who took the stand indicated they had not distinguished between an everyday use of theory and scientific theory.  
Some board members said they took a "faith-based" approach to evolution, with one testifying he did not believe in evolution on a large scale. They also said they knew religious ideas of man's origin would be brought up in class when they put disclaimers about evolution in science textbooks.  
However, board members said they just wanted students to feel comfortable voicing their own beliefs. Teachers were still to teach evolution, they said.  
The disclaimers read: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."  
School system attorney Linwood Gunn during the trial repeatedly noted how Cobb now dealt with evolution, and he called the stickers "an interim step" that helped the district make changes. Students are no longer allowed to opt out of classroom discussion involving evolution, and the theory must be taught as directed by law.  
The school system's previous policy urged evolution not be taught because it could be "inconsistent with family teachings." The Cobb school district as recently as 10 years ago cut out from science textbooks pages that involved evolution, according to court testimony.  
School officials also testified they had not received an increased number of complaints since the disclaimers were placed in the textbooks.  
The evolution disclaimers stem from a petition drive begun in 2002 by Marjorie Rogers, a creationist. Rogers collected 2,300 signatures from supporters, prompting the board to stick the disclaimers on the inside front covers of 13 science books used in middle and high schools.  

From: Ross Entered on: January 14, 2005 10:41 AM
The NCSE weighs in on the Cobb County Sticker Verdict:
Man, I love those guys.  
This is of particular interest to me, though:  
"Relying on the plaintiffs' arguments and testimony from Kenneth R. Miller -- the Brown University biology professor who is co-author of the textbook used in Cobb County's high school biology classes -- Cooper also observed that the disclaimer's phrase "[e]volution is a theory, not a fact" plays on the popular meaning of the term "theory," suggesting that evolution is questionable or speculative."  
I am surprised more was not made of this - in fact the judge as much as said that it was unimportant. But doesn't anyone have a problem with a SCIENCE BOOK misuing a SCIENTIFIC word, right on the inside cover?
From: Ross Entered on: January 19, 2005 12:03 PM
The New York Times has a nice Op-Ed on creationism vs evolution with some decent background on the debate over the years. It's written by a woman whose recent book I've read which is about the history of secularism in America.  
You can always trust the NYT to get shit like this straight, luckily...

From: Ross Entered on: January 19, 2005 1:02 PM
And this is a hilarious take on Intelligent Design:
From: Swerb Entered on: January 19, 2005 2:24 PM
Hee hee...
From: Ross Entered on: January 19, 2005 5:45 PM
"Man, I gotta get one of those stickers for my guitar case. That'd be awesome."  
It would, though! I wonder what the black-market value for them is?
From: Ross Entered on: January 20, 2005 1:01 PM
For those who've ever seen Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, you know he's a fucktard. But this is so over the top, I can barely stand it. He's talking to a real biology professor (who knows his shit) and completely mangling the core concepts of science. Worse, he's doing it with gusto and pride!

From: The Bone Entered on: January 20, 2005 9:11 PM
I saw this whilst running on the treadmill at the gym. My heart rate went up from 135 bpm to 160 bpm lickety split.  
O'Reilly looked like a pure imbecile. His brain is all sorts of discombobulated. "24 hrs in a day - that's science." What a great comeback asshole!  
"And I think the people like the ACLU, who don?t want you to mention it in your biology class, are the Taliban." - This one is awesome. How about we adress every fucking possibility. That's right, with every biology book instead of a disclaimer, we also hand out Bullfinch's Mythology. Tell the student that we are able to verify the ideas in the biology book, but were open minded so believe whatever you fucking want.  
Die O'Rielly!
From: The Bone Entered on: January 20, 2005 10:13 PM
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up familiar with it" - Max Planck  

From: Swerb Entered on: January 20, 2005 11:40 PM
What's fucked up about our society now is that Planck's quote doesn't necessarily apply today. We either have honestly regressed, more Christians have been recruited for the cause (which I don't believe to be true) or people just weren't speaking up about their beliefs, and are now encouraged to do so. Regardless, it's frustrating.  
And Bill O'Reilly? He's a corporate knob-jobber saying what he thinks conservatives want to hear, and walking away with a big paycheck. We can go on and on and on about what a fuckhole the guy is, and how he's obviously not fully informed on either side of the issue. The problem is, people listen to the guy and believe him - and those people deserve beatings. Beyond dental recognition.
From: Ross Entered on: January 21, 2005 9:32 AM
Planck's quote holds true more for scientists than it does for laymen. In my opinion, it is still true for laymen as well with the caveat that when scientific truth conflicts with dogma or deeply held cultural beliefs, it takes significantly more than one generation to take root.  
Personally, I prefer Buckminster Fuller's version:  
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."  
O'Reilly annoys the living piss out of me... he's everything that is wrong with this country, and more aptly, the world. This idea that you can just hop on TV, start jabbering about any topic under the sun like you actually know what you're talking about and NOT HAVE A FUCKING CLUE is what galls me most. They keep you on because you mostly say what they want to hear and you know how to talk over people. That guy makes my blood boil.
From: Ross Entered on: February 2, 2005 10:20 PM
Found a sweet site with lots of fancy booklearnin:
From: The Bone Entered on: February 3, 2005 12:27 AM
Holy shit! The sheer display of ignorance boggles the mind. I mean really, this is third grade logic. I think I'm going to drop a line just to let him know his logic is F'ed in the A.
From: Ross Entered on: February 3, 2005 8:33 AM
I can't believe how much time and effort went into a site to promote basic fallacies. It's very special.
From: TallPat Entered on: February 3, 2005 10:10 PM
That site is like class project.  
"OK class, you now should be comfortable enough with Flash to build a basic user interface, including a repeating music loop, a menu, and a scrollable pane with some content. Choose something you are interested in and create a Flash-based website. Feel free to incorporate any of the things you learned for the various homework assignments, like the numeric countdown, moving rectangles, and mouseover sound effects."  
Good lord. I don't know what is more painful. The site. Or the content in the site.
From: Ross Entered on: February 7, 2005 12:59 PM
The NY Times has an op-ed today by Michael Behe, one of the top dogs in the Intelligent Design camp. It' outrageous:
Luckily, the superbadass PZ Meyers at Pharyngula dissects him nicely. It's quite entertaining.
and a lengthier but equally good one here:

From: The Bone Entered on: February 7, 2005 5:37 PM
I love the Pharyngula. It's funny you should post this because as I was driving to work today, I heard some idiot from the ACLJ (not to be cornfused with ACLU) talk about their lawsuits to teach creationism and ID along with Evolution. His arguement was basically that it was bad scinece to not teach creationism and ID.  
It pisses me of that these guys are able to pull the wool over the publics eyes because the general public doesn't know shit about science and the ID arguement is more intuative for the ignorant masses. Fuck that shit.
From: Swerb Entered on: February 7, 2005 8:20 PM
Did anybody see The Simpsons on Sunday? It was fucking hilarious. "I'm trying to raise my kids to be secular humanists, but the media keeps cramming religion down their throats!" "Mommy, why wasn't I baptized?" And, even better: "Before dinosaurs, there was the Bible!" If you haven't seen it, y'all better do so now...
From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 7, 2005 10:15 PM
Sorry, missed it. All we watch is Smallville around here. We've watched seasons 1-3 and the first 9 of this season. 3 more episodes and we're all caught up. What ever will watch then?  
By the way, after initially not being real impressed with Lois, I'm starting to develop a fondness of her skills.
From: Ross Entered on: February 8, 2005 7:10 AM
I tivo'd the Simpsons and American Dad but of course the Superbowl ran over so I had to download them - haven't watched 'em yet though.  
And Jack: I still hate Lois. Every time I look at her, I see someone in their mid-twenties, way too old for her character.
From: Ross Entered on: February 8, 2005 10:02 PM
Hey! Am I wrong, or was this episode the first time Comic Book Guy gave his real name???
From: Swerb Entered on: February 9, 2005 12:03 AM
Yeah, I was kind of taken aback by that as well. It kinda ruins it now that we know his birth certificate doesn't read "Comic Book Guy."  
Didja like the episode, though? I thought it took some pretty funny jabs at Christianity.
From: Ross Entered on: February 9, 2005 9:16 AM
Yeah, it was good. Definitely irreverent. I was glad there was no "moral" where we find that Christianity is okay after all.
From: Swerb Entered on: February 9, 2005 1:56 PM
The funny thing about The Simpsons is that it gets a lot of credit because it's not afraid to incorporate religion into its characters - Ned Flanders is sort of a champion of many Christians. But the show is still highly critical and occasionally heavy on religious satire, and they can get away with it because it's a cartoon. A lot of other sitcoms are really wishy washy in comparison.
From: Ross Entered on: February 10, 2005 10:18 AM
Back to the original topic, evolution/creationism, Reason Online has a good article about the NY Times op-ed I linked to a few days ago:  
It's the normal reporting, challenging Behe's claims but the end gets good when they actually talk about ramifications:  
"Why not let children in public schools hear arguments for intelligent design in biology classes? After all, if one goes to the Internet, one can readily see that the hardy band of intelligent designers has sparked an immense debate. Biologists would retort by asking, "So it's OK with you for high schools to teach astrology, phrenology, mesmerism, psychoanalysis, water witching, and so forth, too?" And that's a good point."
From: Swerb Entered on: February 10, 2005 11:42 PM
All right, Bert... it's time to advance my education on the evolution topic... what's a good book to start with? Something by Dawkins? The Blind Watchmaker, maybe? Or is there a good tome about the Scopes Monkey Trial? Do you have maybe a top three books you'd recommend? I don't know if I can handle anything too technical.
From: Ross Entered on: February 11, 2005 7:26 AM
First place to start is There, you can find answers to practically every question related to evolution vs creationism.  
They also have a short book list but I haven't read many on the list so I can't necessarily recommend them.  
The Blind Watchmaker is fantastic, and although it gets technical at times, for the most part it is not. I would say to get it and skim over the parts that you might find not to your liking - but most of it is quite entertaining and written for the layman.  
Also, another book I've been wanting to read (hence why I read some ID books first) is Unintelligent Design:
It's written by a guy who posts a lot on - a GREAT site for learning about evolution, really - honestly, there's more to be learned just from hearing those biology types talk about it a little every day than from one book, but I understand wanting to have a paper copy.  

From: Ross Entered on: February 25, 2005 8:24 AM
I haven't posted any good evolution stuff in a while, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty going on. However, even I can recognize that it can get redundant. Nonetheless, I was reading one of my favorite blogs today and found this quote to be such a perfect summary of why the ID proponents are assholes, I have to share it:  
"The fact is that every scientific theory presented as orthodoxy in science classes began in exactly the place ID finds itself now: A heresy believed by a handul of people dissatisfied with the orthodox view. In no case, however, did the adherents of the heresy earn their place in the curriculum by appealing directly to schools boards and state legislatures. In every case the heresy won out by producing evidence adequate to convince a large majority of scientists."  
Also, by the way, just heard about this site:  
I can't come up with a comment worthy of the disdain I am feeling right now.
From: Swerb Entered on: February 25, 2005 8:47 AM
The Rapture Letters site was adequately ridiculed on The Daily Show recently, which I find somewhat comforting.
From: The Bone Entered on: February 25, 2005 9:07 AM
Rapure Letters: At least all the assholes will be gone.
From: Ross Entered on: February 25, 2005 9:37 AM
It'd be worth it to be wrong about it and have them gone if only for a little while...
From: Jackzilla Entered on: February 25, 2005 10:23 AM
What is this "electronic mail (e-mail)" that they speak of?
From: BigFatty Entered on: February 25, 2005 4:49 PM
I looked at the site. It seems to me like they just want to make us non-believers feel stupid that we are not in heaven with them. It really should be writen -  
Dude! We are in heaven, dancin to the tune with Jesus! Where are you at!!???!! Hows that athesism working for ya? Just wanted to drop you a line cuz we figured you'd be wondering about the millions of corpses stinking the place up. (The Lysol is under the sink). Good luck with the Devil!  
I just wondering if we can get a list of the people using this 'service' so we can send them an electronic mail (e-mail) every Friday that asks 'ARE YOU DEAD YET!?!' Best wishes,
From: Swerb Entered on: February 25, 2005 5:37 PM
The messed up thing is, when the rapture never happens, and the guy running the site croaks, all the e-mails will be sent out anyway. How funny is that?  
I had a very interesting conversation with Stacy the other day. She had been talking to her mother about my atheism - Stacy's mother is sort of a Bible-y person, although she never really talks much about it or goes to church, but I did occasionally get some bullshit forwarded propagandist Jesus e-mails from her (note the past tense). Anyway, her mom made a comment that if I had read the Bible first and THEN decided I didn't believe in god, that my argument would have more credibility.  
I couldn't believe how narrow-minded that is. My response was, "Did she read every major religious text before making her decision to be a Christian?" Of course she didn't. Just because Christianity is the religion of a majority of Americans doesn't mean the Bible should be required reading for anybody born in this country. It's not an either/or proposition - you're not either "Christian" or "other," although that's how a lot of Christians seem to view it. I choose to reject all supernatural baloney, and therefore all religions who believe in ghosts, higher powers, reincarnation, etc. etc. You're either a believer or a non-believer in such crapola, unless you're a fence-sitting agnostic. I admit, I've never really read the Bible beyond what was required in two lit classes I took (one of them Cochrane's class, Bert), although I'm interested in reading it just to have some fuel for my arguments against specific details about Christianity. However, I'm worried that I'll be bored out of my skull if I actually do try to read it, especially when I get to all the begats. It is, after all, just a BUNCH OF STORIES SOMEBODY MADE UP, and nobody even knows for sure who made them up.  
By the way, I found it appropriate that the Biblical scholar guy in the Bible episode of Bullshit was from Western Michigan University. He looked and sounded pretty stupid, too.
From: The Bone Entered on: February 25, 2005 5:55 PM
I read, or had read to me, pretty much the entire Bible when I was a youngster and I can honestly say that the lunacy of the stories is what actually got the ball rolling on my departure to atheism. I was always into Greek and Norse mythology and reading the Bible made me aware that it was no different. I mean come on, Noah's Ark failed even my 10 year old mind's sanity check. If that was bullshit then what else was, I thought. As it turns out - THE WHOLE THING!
From: Ross Entered on: February 25, 2005 6:09 PM
I haven't read all of the Bible either, but I can tell you this: to an educated individual in this day and age, the Bible is HARDLY a ringing endorsement for why you should choose to be a Christian - it's full of fucked up repugnant shit, a copious amount of which is perpetrated by their diety, no less. Global flood? How very benevolent. Genocide? You betcha, go read Numbers. All I can say is that the more you read, the more you want to have nothing to do with anyone who makes apologies for such an antiquated system of beliefs (the Earth was also flat back then, dontcha know). And yes, Swerb, the Bible is also very boring, even to the most patient people (one of which I am not).  
I've had people level similar charges at me, and I like to think I am pretty good at putting them in their place. One girl basically said that I must think pretty highly of myself to think I have this figured out to the point where I can claim "there is no god." I explained that that is in fact NOT what I say, but that I refute your PARTICULAR god's existence, based on the evidence at hand. Furthermore, assumption of "no god" is the default position that everyone is born with. Religious types are the ones making the positive claim that there IS a god - she has it backward - it's they who have to have things figured out to the point where they can posit the existence of a PARTICULAR supernatural being. And even if there were good evidence for one (which there is not), the god of the Bible is a ridiculous and inconsistent caricature that no sane person ought to revere (think Tsunami).  
So the message to Stacy's mom is simply this: It isn't you who decided to DISBELIEVE in any gods, it is she who decided to BELIEVE in a particular one.  
I also definitely recommend at least skimming the first few books of the Bible using the Skeptic's Annotated version:  
You will learn a lot. :)
From: The Bone Entered on: February 25, 2005 6:51 PM
Isn't the only difference between an atheist and a Christian that the atheist believes all gods are bullshit, and the Christian believes all gods are bullshit except their own?
From: Ross Entered on: February 25, 2005 6:57 PM
The supposed quote is this:  
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.  
- Stephen Roberts
I've seen his writings about this quote somewhere but I can't find it just now....
From: Ross Entered on: February 25, 2005 7:05 PM
Just came across this page, has some good distillations of arguments for atheism:

From: Ross Entered on: February 27, 2005 3:53 PM
There's also a portion of the Bible that even most Christians haven't read: Spider-Man's greatest Bible stories!

From: The Bone Entered on: February 27, 2005 5:07 PM
Morning Sunshine! Who wants some eggs and bacon?
From: Swerb Entered on: February 27, 2005 5:14 PM
Sweet evil Jesus, that's fucking hilarious. I thought it was real for a minute, because youth-targeted Biblical propaganda is usually that ludicrous... but Spidey hanging out all day and night with Jesus while he hung on the cross? That one clued me off.  
Oh, and thanks for the link to the Skeptic's Annotated Bible... it's quite educational.
From: Ross Entered on: February 27, 2005 5:56 PM
I see you've picked up my favorite P&T line: Sweet Evil Jesus. Bravo.
From: Swerb Entered on: March 2, 2005 1:53 PM
This is sweet!

From: Ross Entered on: March 2, 2005 2:02 PM
Awesome. I printed a copy and it's hanging in my cube now.
From: Ross Entered on: March 3, 2005 8:21 AM
Swerb, if you thought Cochrane was bad about religion in English class, read this, it's great. In a I-want-to-kill-someone kind of way:

From: Swerb Entered on: March 3, 2005 8:42 AM
I'm more pissed off about the link to the article about the kid who was detained for "making terrorist threats" for writing a goddamn short story about zombies. Since when did Kentucky become a breeding ground for fascism?  
Thing about Cochrane is, he was a dink, yes, and he wore his beliefs on his sleeve (I still laugh when I tell the story about how he "traced his ancestry" back to Adam and Eve), but I don't remember him being overtly biased. Subtly biased, maybe. I'm relatively certain he thought I was a heathen for wearing heavy metal T-shirts and having a bad mullet...
From: Ross Entered on: March 3, 2005 10:01 AM
No, Cochrane was actually a good teacher and would have never done anything like that wretched one. And I agree, the Zombie story is what REALLY makes me want to go out and mow some people down. And t's a FELONY!
From: The Bone Entered on: March 3, 2005 10:52 PM
Here's an article that will brighten your day.

From: Ross Entered on: March 3, 2005 11:32 PM
The most annoying part about that article is that Democrats are so stupid that they think what they have to do is be more like the republicans, and embrace crazy religion just like them. We deserve this! Morons to the left of me, assholes to the right... I might as well start cutting some ears off.
From: Swerb Entered on: March 4, 2005 12:28 AM
Has anybody ever read these magazines? I'm considering subscribing, but don't want to blindly drop some cold cash...  
Bert, are you still getting the FRFF publication? I laugh when they have two entire pages dedicated to further publicizing the crimes of Christians and clergymen. Is it me, or is that kind of petty?
From: Ross Entered on: March 4, 2005 9:16 AM
It is... but there's some good stuff in there, too. The latest issue is actually quite good. They have a speech given by Steven Pinker who's a famous neuroscientist, as well as a good rundown of why the Ten Commandments should not be on display in public courthouses or other buildings.  
And I don't read Free Inquiry (I think it's new) but I do have a subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer. It's not bad, but Skeptic ( ) is better though it's only published four times a year.
From: Ross Entered on: March 8, 2005 12:14 PM
Swerb, a while back you asked about books to learn about evolution. This one is expensive ($50) but written by the head of the National Center for Science Education and I've heard her speak numerous times, she's very good. Haven't read teh book, though, but I'm sure it's good. Probably worth getting from the library or something if you're really interested.

From: Swerb Entered on: March 8, 2005 10:24 PM
I'll definitely check it out. I'm reading The Blind Watchmaker right now, and I'm finding it fascinating, but there's only so much I can digest in one sitting (especially some of the technical stuff), and I'm of the slow reading style.  
I also just added the movie Inherit the Wind, which is the Spencer Tracy movie about the Scopes Monkey Trial (supposedly one of Tracy's best), to my Netflix queue. Have you seen it yet? There's a more recent TV movie remake of it starring Jack Lemmon, too.
From: Ross Entered on: March 9, 2005 9:28 AM
I saw one of them, can't remember which - it was black and white, I remember that much. It's high on drama and kind of silly at times but it still fun to watch.
From: Ross Entered on: April 4, 2005 10:07 AM
Swerb (or anyone else), if you want to read any other books on evolution, my favorite blogger (who is a biology professor) has produced his own list:
I haven't read many of them, though a few are on my to-read list. I do know that Carl Zimmer is one hell of a writer and I read his blog regularly too so his book might be a good one to check out.
From: Swerb Entered on: May 16, 2005 11:12 AM
An interesting editorial column from syndicated writer Ellen Goodman ran recently:  
Creationists' new design  
By Ellen Goodman | May 12, 2005  
I DON'T KNOW whether to call this good news, but something is happening when the opponents of evolution recast themselves as defenders of academic freedom and guardians of open debate.  
This is the take-home lesson from Kansas, where another in the apparently endless controversies over science and religion took place on the 80th anniversary of the Scopes trial. This time, hearings were called by the State Board of Education on whether to change the science standards and require Darwin's theory to be challenged in the classroom. This time, the anti-evolution crowd was carrying a new slogan: Teach the Controversy.  
The parade of Darwin's adversaries argued in terms that might have been ripped from the playbook of People for the American Way. One insisted, ''We're looking for an objective approach that looks at both sides." Another called the evolutionists ''the true censors." A third called evolution ''an ideology." A fourth said, ''It's important to foster academic debate and thinking and reasoning."  
My favorite remarks came from a member of the Kansas science standards committee, William Harris, who said, ''Public science education is an institution. It appoints a teacher to be a referee among ideas. . . . Nobody would tolerate a football game where the referee was obviously biased." Who knew the budgets were so tight that teachers were now referees?  
My, how the opponents of evolution have evolved. As recently as 20 years ago, the leaders quoted Genesis as the one true scientific source: The world was created in seven days, those geological layers were the work of Noah's flood, case closed. This evolved into creationism or creation science. But in 1987, the Supreme Court declared that teaching creation in the classroom was teaching religion and unconstitutional.  
Now the leading argument is ''Intelligent Design," an intelligent redesign of the old arguments in new clothing. As Ken Miller, co-author of one of the most respected biology textbooks, says, ''So-called Intelligent Design is nothing more than creationism stripped of everything that a court would immediately recognize as religious content."  
Unlike the earlier creationism, ID is agnostic on questions such as the age of the Earth, but not on the role of an intelligent designer (or Designer) in the creation process. Unlike the earlier creationists who fought to get Darwin out of class, the new generation of intelligent designers ostensibly wants equal time to debunk him and promote their alternative.  
The Kansas rule-makers also want to change the way science is now defined as a search for natural explanations. Says Miller, ''Think hard. What's a nonnatural explanation? A supernatural explanation." He can imagine an earth science class teaching about tsunamis. ''One side teaches about tectonic plates. The other side teaches about people punished for their sins."  
Miller also worries about mandating doubts about evolution: ''I'm not the least worried these guys will prevail scientifically. What they may succeed in is giving young people the message that the science establishment is dishonest with the evidence. If that's written into the curriculum it will drive a wedge between young people and science."  
It's the height of irony to hear the same partisans who intimidate science teachers positioning themselves as the defenders of fair and open debate. Open-minded? Listen to the words of committee member Harris: ''Our overall goal is to remove the bias against religion that is in our schools. This is a scientific controversy that has powerful religious implications." Science that doesn't teach his religious beliefs is biased against his religious beliefs.  
This is what's going around. At least around the political circuit. If a court remains neutral on religion, it is immediately attacked as hostile to religion. When an oil lobbyist argues against global warming, it's cast as a plea for open scientific debate. It's like tobacco companies criticizing the cancer researchers for only giving the bad news about cigarettes.  
In this case, the opponents not only cast evolution as a flawed ''ideology" but deliberately characterize evolutionists as atheists. They then insist on a false equivalency between evolution and Intelligent Design, and demand equal time for the faithful with the so-called faithless.  
I suppose there is something positive in the audacious way that the right has taken over the language of the left. It means that values such as open debate and academic freedom are so universally accepted that the right is using this popular vocabulary. But only when they need to. The same political allies in Texas who argued for an open debate in science textbooks last year are back arguing to close the debate -- abstinence only -- in sex ed textbooks this year.  
So let's ''Teach the Controversy." I'm all for it. But this controversy doesn't belong in biological science. It belongs in political science.  
Ellen Goodman's e-mail address is  

From: Ross Entered on: May 16, 2005 1:11 PM
One thing I love about the ways the creationists turn evolutionist's arguments back on them by calling evolutionists ideologues. That's the height of irony! But it gives you a window into the mind of these creationists: they ACTUALLY BELIEVE that evolutionists say what they do about biology because they want to turn people into atheists. So they must be claiming to detect no presence of any creator because they don't believe in one, a priori. But even if that was true on the whole (which I really don't think it is), certainly SOMEONE in the evolution camp (someone who actually understands it, that is - not the lawyers and other non-biologists of the ID camp) would break silence and crack this consipracy of secularism! But wait, what you find, instead, are people like Kenneth Miller, who are practicing Christians and are very strong supporters of evolution. This whole ideology argument is absurd in the extreme.  
The most offensive thing about the Kansas debacle (and there was a lot of offense to be given) was that the school board wanted to redefine science to include non-natural explanations. I mean, they literally wanted to gut the definition of science and replace it with its opposite! If that's not ideology, I don't know what is.

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