Sunday, January 31, 2010

please take our useless notions seriously

Apparently they've got religious nuts up in Canada as well. I looked in on a particularly virulent Christianist site, Black Kettle, and tried to engage in a bit of an argument over their Lying for Darwin post.  Several of my comments were scrubbed, which is I suppose is typical for a religious site (they live for censorship).

The point they were trying to make is that I need to read a 700 page book on intelligent design, Signature in the Cell, before I can criticize its thesis (i.e. the Magic Man did it).  The point I made, which was deleted, was that I don't need to read every holocaust denial treatise, astrology primer, or witch hunting manual to understand that these ideas are false.  Reliable, authoritative analysis has banished these nonsensical notions from academic circles.  It would be foolish to introduce Holocaust denial to a classroom as a subject worthy of debate, no matter how many idiots howl for its validity.

Science is a process that elevates theories that work and discards ideas that don't.  You don't see many alchemists around any more.  Intelligent Design and creationism are not useful to explain existing data or make any predictions.  As ideas they have no value. If they did, they would be in use.  I can guarantee few businesses desire profit more than the pharmaceutical industry.  I can also guarantee not a single private sector lab is spending a single dollar testing the validity of Intelligent Design as a useful concept for drug discovery.  Intelligent Design, like its parent Creationism, is a shallow attempt to insert religious doctrine into science education. It won't work, because it doesn't work.

Atheists challenge Ireland's new blasphemy law with online postings -
"LONDON -- Atheists in Ireland are risking possible prosecution with an audacious online challenge to the country's new blasphemy law.

Under the law, which went into effect Friday, a person can be found guilty of blasphemy if 'he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.'

The penalty is a fine of up to 25,000 euros, or more than $35,000."


Blasphemy law still needed: Indonesian Minister

The Jakarta Post:

"Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said Sunday that Indonesia was still in need of the blasphemy law in order to main harmony among religious followers, especially among Muslims.

Speaking in Medan, Suryadharma said Islam was open for different interpretations to its teachings, but not to its core issues."

Nigerians claim religious massacre

Al Jazeera English:
"Hundreds of people have died in violence between Muslims and Christians in Northern Nigeria.

The clashes began six days ago in the city of Jos, but later spread to the countryside.

Al Jazeera has obtained evidence that suggests the bloodshed from ethnic and religious violence could be greater than feared.

Our news team filmed bodies dumped in wells and saw the corpses of children.

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons travelled to the village of Kuru Jantar, just outside of Jos, where locals told him about what they are calling a massacre."

Bishop Lahey child porn plea expected Feb. 3

Happy Sunday

CBC News - Ottawa - :
 "The case of a Roman Catholic bishop facing child pornography charges has been put off again until Feb. 3, when he's expected to enter a plea.
Raymond Lahey was charged in September with possessing and importing child pornography —10 days after he was detained by customs officers at the Ottawa airport upon arriving aboard a flight from Britain."

Stop church burning

The Jakarta Post -  editorial:

"We bet most people are not happy about the burning of churches in North Sumatra on Friday night. As a Muslim-majority nation, we are a proud democracy. And we have had enough Christian-Muslim conflicts in the past, notably the Ambon and Poso conflicts. We are also an emerging multicultural nation with a proud legacy of religious pluralism. However, the trajectory of a nation toward its maturity is often difficult to fathom.

Our minds promptly turn to religious leaders and the many interfaith dialogues that have been held.

We are afraid that they might have only churned out sweet talk and exacerbated such conflicts.

We are also concerned that there is a big gap dividing religious leaders and those at the grass roots.

The question is how to close this gap.

Past experience has taught us that religious conflicts often mask the real issues beneath them."

And religion is like gasoline to a spark.  A reason for violence is always at hand.

among the believers

at war with the enlightenment

a trip to a Creation Museum in Vanity Fair:
"The Creation Museum isn’t really a museum at all. It’s an argument. It’s not even an argument. It’s the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That’s an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology."
a little later
But we should cut the creationists a little slack, because every new bit of evidence, every discovery, is a nightmare for them. Take the ark. The big-boat business poses all sorts of questions. But, again, they’ve got answers. There are models and plans and layouts of the vessel. You can walk through a part of the hull. There’s biblical carpentry and weather reports. And the dinosaurs are on board. (They were probably small ones, the museum helpfully adds.) But recently scientists found a new giant rat and a fanged frog in Papua, New Guinea, so now some Noah-ists have to redesign the amphibian quarters. The rats probably sort themselves out. O.K., so you get everybody aboard, 10 million creatures, times two, without the neighbors’ noticing. Where did the water come from? You have to flood the whole world. Did they import water from the Scientologists? No: it came from underground. There is a great reservoir, presumably for flooding purposes, under our feet. I assume that’s where it went back to. Why don’t we drill for it to water Phoenix? (By the way, the flood is where we get fossils from. That’s all the dead stuff, caught in mud.) When the waters abated, the animals got off, stretched, and walked around the world eating one another’s children. I’m not making this up. Nobody’s making this up. This is what happened.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Christian terrorist found guilty for murder of doctor

Roeder found guilty - KSN TV: "Roeder admitted everything on the stand from a religious conversion while watching an episode of “The 700 Club” to his growing frustrations with the law’s lack of success in shutting down Tiller’s clinic and then finally to his decision to take the law into his own hands by hunting down the doctor in his church and shooting him to death in the lobby."

Hitler was a Roman Catholic

Bent Corner: Why didn’t the Catholic church ever excommunicate Hitler?

If you assumed that the Catholic church excommunicated former alter boy and genocidal mass murderer Adolf Hitler, you would be wrong. Hitler’s mother was a Roman Catholic and raised young Adolf to be one too. In 1941, Adolf Hitler told Gerhard Engel, one of his generals, that “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.”
The Vatican recently excommunicated a doctor and the mother of a 9-year-old Brazilian girl that was raped by her step-father. The reason? Because the poor girl was pregnant (with twins) and received and abortion. The doctor performed the abortion, and was excommunicated because of it. The mother consented to the abortion, and was excommunicated because of it. The step-father that raped his 9-year-old step-daughter was not excommunicated.
Other national leaders have been excommunicated by the Catholic church. Napoleon Bonaparte was excommunicated by Pope Pius VII in 1809. Fidel Castro was excommunicated by Pope John XXIII in 1962 for simply being a communist.
If Communists can be excommunicated, why can’t Nazis?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

That is the idea -- that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called Ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.
-- Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian,"

Friday, January 22, 2010

in the beginning

musings on the religious virus
searching for a cure