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South Carolina State Sen. Mike Fair is doing his usual creationist thing and trying to block the teaching of evolution in public schools. He’s wrong. He’s an idiot. But then I read the clause in the state science standards that he’s opposing.
Conceptual Understanding: Biological evolution occurs primarily when natural selection acts on the genetic variation in a population and changes the distribution of traits in that population over multiple generations.
Performance Indicators: Students who can demonstrate this understanding can:
Analyze and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make predictions about the long term biological changes that occur within two populations of the same species that become geographically isolated from one another.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Fair’s argument is that this is Darwinism, and Darwinism must be opposed. My argument is that this is wrong because it equates evolution and natural selection, and even makes a factually incorrect assertion, that evolution is primarily a consequence of natural selection.
What’s a guy supposed to do when both sides of the debate have screwed up so thoroughly? Fair is more wrong, but I’m not in favor of teaching kids false versions of biology, either.
Questions of God's Existence Heat Up New Debate Between Atheist, Christian ...
The debate over God's existence heats up as leading physicist and atheist Sean Carroll is pitted against William Lane Craig, a top theologian and philosopher, to discuss their views about philosophy, cosmology and the role of God and the cosmos. Each ...
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I’ve been collecting responses to the notorious debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, and intend to write a couple of summaries of various aspects of the debate: Bill Nye won it hands down, but that does not remove him from criticism, and there have been some weird arguments presented both to defend and criticize him.
Right now, I want to focus on William Saletan, corporate tool and professional contrarian, who also seems to have some kind of weird Malcolm Gladwell envy. Don’t feel jealous, Will, to me you’re both glib and superficial apologists for capitalism. here’s the gist of Saletan’s bizarre interpretation of the creationism offered by the profitable folks at Answers in Genesis.
Creationism, as presented by Ham and his colleagues, is a compartmentalized myth. It doesn’t prevent its adherents from functioning as ordinary people or as scientists.
I would like to see evidence of this “compartmentalized” aspect of the myth. It looks to me like it’s spilling out all over. Saletan might want to look at the people Republicans appoint to oversee environmental concerns. John Shimkus, who believes global climate change is no threat, because the story of Noah’s Flood is literally true, and God promised he wouldn’t do it again; Paul Broun, who called evolution “lies from the pit of hell”. Is James Inhofe safely “compartmentalized”?
And then I look at what’s being done to public education. Louisiana is using state funds to promote creationism; are we building a wall around the whole state to compartmentalize it? About a third of Minnesota teachers are talking up young earth creationism in their classes — it seems to be an awfully porous compartment. The Texas Board of Education is packed with young earth creationists who do their damnedest to keep science out of the textbooks. Are these not doing harm?
Further, I’d argue that it does interfere with your ability as a scientist. Ken Ham trotted out a series of people who basically executed significant engineering projects, and called them scientists; Saletan, totally clueless as ever about what science actually entails, accepts that without question and thinks Ham was effective in portraying creationism as compatible with science.
Science is a process for generating new knowledge, and for creating a deeper understanding of how the universe works. Important as it is, it is not engineering. It is not about building gadgets for satellites. You can do science with satellite gadgets. It is an important distinction. And we’re dealing with people who reject science, who claim the universe is less than ten thousand years old, in defiance of all the science that says otherwise — you don’t get to claim that they are functioning as scientists.
But I also have to criticize Nye, who has been repeating this same kind of line over and over, and it really misses the point. Here’s Saletan again:
Nye portrayed creationism as a cancer. Each time he spoke, he closed with the same warning: Creationism threatens technology, innovation, and prosperity. He insisted that you can’t do good science or run a successful society while maintaining a distinction between real, experimental science and mythical “historical science.” At one point, he showed a satellite image of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. “That capability,” he said of the satellite, “comes from our fundamental understanding of gravity, of material science, of physics and life science.”
Actually, no. It doesn’t. You can be a perfectly good satellite engineer while believing total nonsense about the origins of life. That doesn’t mean we should teach creationism in schools or pretend it’s a scientific theory. But it does mean we can live with it as a compartmentalized fetish. Believe whatever you want to about monkeys, Noah, and the Garden of Eden. Just don’t let it mess with your day job.
Impractical as this sounds, science isn’t about jobs. Nye is making a huge mistake tying understanding science to strictly utilitarian and immediate ends, and that may be a consequence of his background as an engineer.
Let me rephrase it to make the flaw in this argument obvious. What if we were talking about art?
Art is clearly important for a healthy society — it’s how we see and think about ourselves, it’s how we express human values, it’s fundamentally part of being human. It’s also an effective and powerful way to challenge preconceptions and make our culture better. But it doesn’t pay. And corporate art tends to be bland pablum that does nothing to fulfill the essential functions of art.
(If anyone here dares to make that stupid joke of smug philistines everywhere, you know the one that ends Want fries with that?, you deserve to be lobotomized and shackled to an assembly line for the rest of your life, OK? You don’t understand anything. You have drunk the kool-aid and think the purpose of your life is serving your bosses, you don’t understand art or science, and you can just fuck off.)
So here’s Nye asserting that the measure of the importance of science is how well it trains you to do a job, and here’s Saletan basically agreeing with him on the purpose of learning about science, and disagreeing with Nye by claiming that learning bad science isn’t going to have any impact on your work prospects, because he thinks The McJob is what science is all about. Not only is he building a fallacious case for science, he’s essentially throwing art under the bus along with it.
A pox on both of them. Nye is good at communicating a passion for science, but fails to note the conflict when he pretends that science is about being a better, more employable widget maker for Big Widget, Inc. Saletan is just a cynical contrarian twit who isn’t even aware that his cocky excuses for the corporate status quo are the opposite of contrarian or challenging or provocative. They’re simply sad.
I’m going to have to ask that all you confident utilitarians please sit it out when you’re asked to discuss the validity of science, because you’re prone to reducing it to the wrong foundation. I’m also going to ask what the hell is wrong with Nye for making an argument based on personal profit when he ignored Nick Matzke’s commandments for wanna-be debaters, which are all about locking down where the money will go.
It’s just inconsistencies all over the map.
George Will is an atheist
Back in December, conservative icon Charles Krauthammer raised some eyebrows for stopping just short of calling himself an atheist. “There was once a philosopher who said, 'I don't believe in God, but I fear him greatly.' That's about where I am,” he ...
Why Are So Many Pastors 'Coming Out of the Closet' as Atheists?
If you are a pastor doubting your faith, atheist Richard Dawkins is willing to foot the bill to get you out of the pulpit and on your way to a brand new career. Dawkins' organization, along with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are the main ...
This old white guy is also from Texas, and he’s a sportscaster, yet somehow in one fabulous speech he manages to put the whole Michael Sam story into perspective.
You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? You lie to police, trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that.
You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!
Good work, Dale Hansen!
Brianne writes fairly frequently about her experiences as a clinic escort, dealing with shrieking fanatics who stand on sidewalks harassing people going into family planning clinics. They’re hideous and awful and have lost all sense of perspective and humanity, and they’re also remarkably ineffective…unless, of course, their goals are to make other people miserable and to expose their own obsessive inhumanity.
They have a lot in common with another group, animal rights protesters. Sanctimonious assholes, all of them. They’re all over UCLA, and they’re busy protesting researchers’ homes, at least when they’re not too busy planting bombs around the neighborhood or setting cars on fire or vandalizing people’s property.
Look at that person comparing animal experimentation to the Holocaust; it makes me wonder, do they intend to elevated monkeys to the status of Jews, or are they simply equating Jews and monkeys? Can we please not trivialize the murder of humans by pretending it has the same moral equivalency as biomedical research?
I think they, like clinic protesters, have forgotten the difference between expressing an idea/protesting against another idea, and harassment. They also lose all right to put themselves on the side of right in the Holocaust comparison when they say things like this, about UCLA researcher David Jentsch:
And later, the leader of the group whispers to the reporter:
“Wasn’t Jentsch’s car burned or something?” Then, above the din of chants, she adds, “I don’t know how to put this—I only wish he were in it.”
How can they compare researchers to Mengele when this is what they advocate?
I’ll be watching that asshole; I don’t want that piece of garbage and his family living in this neighborhood. He ought to be experimented on.
This weekend, there will be a counter-protest on the UCLA campus. If you value scientific research, you should go. If you believe in ethical research conduct and think these bloody-minded lunatics are actively undermining the responsible monitoring of research, you should go. If you’re just a decent human being who has had enough of idiot fanaticism, you should go.
They’re meeting at 10:15am on 15 February at the Franz Hall lobby on the UCLA campus. Go there, be civil and intelligent, and show people how ideas should be argued — don’t set any cars on fire, don’t harass your opponents’ children, don’t destroy their homes. Not that I’d expect anything less than rational behavior from the science side.
On Darwin Day, Atheists Get A New News Website, But Will It Evolve Into A Must ... - International Business Times
International Business Times
On Darwin Day, Atheists Get A New News Website, But Will It Evolve Into A Must ...
International Business Times
Maggie Ardiente, another senior editor (as well as AHA's communications director) added that the website is an effort to serve “[m]illions of humanists and atheists [who] are absorbing information about the secular movement through the Internet.” The ...
Humanists Launch 'Godless Media Hub' As Landing Place For All Things Non ...Huffington Post
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Deaf Pastor Who Turned Atheist Is 'Vengeful, Pathological Liar' Who Needs to ...
After claiming in an explosive CNN article Monday that he began losing his faith in God after being overworked and underpaid at a church run by a tyrannical, golf-loving pastor who made $80,000 a year, deaf pastor turned atheist, Justin Vollmar, is ...
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For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.
But wait! Then they hired a Christian consulting group to independently help them grapple with the problem. That’s a step in the right direction.
But wait again! Now they’ve fired their consultants, because they were going beyond the originally outlined intentions, that is, they were coming up with criticisms and answers they didn’t like.
This is how BJU handles assault complaints.
Erin Burchwell said that when she accused a university employee of sexually assaulting her in the late 1990s, “their idea of an investigation and counseling was to ask me what I was wearing and whether it was tight, and to tell me not to talk to anyone about it because it wouldn’t look good for me.” She said university officials alternated between “saying it never even happened and saying I was a willing participant.”
I doubt that I have many readers among the student body at BJU, but in case there are any, here’s my advice: get out while you can. Transfer to a real college.
The Twin Cities Creation Science Association is hosting their annual science fair again this weekend, at the University of Northwestern St Paul, 3003 North Snelling, Roseville, Minnesota, in Maranatha Hall. At least it’s being done at an appropriately Christian college.
Every year I note this thing, and every year I fail to attend. It’s just too depressing to see the sad little displays and the cheerful kids who are being detoured into failure. I always feel like I should go, though, just to witness it.
So I was thinking, maybe if I had a little more incentive…is there anyone else in that part of Minnesota who’d like to meet up, take a tour through the tackiness, and then get together to restore our faith in humanity with a beer or lunch? Let me know in the comments. I’d probably aim to get there around 10am, when it’s all set up and judging is going on, and be off by early afternoon. If anyone can recommend a good pub or something in that area, even if you can’t make it, it would be appreciated.
Let me add: if you look at the photos of last year’s fair, you’ll see that these are fairly typical of even secular science fairs — the only weird bit is the required inclusion of a Bible verse, and every once in a great while someone trots out some nonsense about a young earth or whatever. If you think this is an opportunity to get together and poke fun at some kids, stay home, OK?
Help me wrap my brain around this tweet. I can’t grok it.
Philosophers' historic failure to anticipate Darwin is a severe indictment of philosophy. Happy Darwin Day!
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) February 12, 2014
Philosophers’ historic failure to anticipate Darwin is a severe indictment of philosophy. Happy Darwin Day!
John Wilkins isn’t helping.
— John S. Wilkins (@john_s_wilkins) February 12, 2014
Likewise, scientists’ failure to anticipate The Beatles is a severe indictment on science.
Don’t you mean Pink Floyd, John?
Also, since Charles Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus was a philosopher and poet, and since his work did anticipate (incompletely) evolution, couldn’t we say that a philosopher actually did anticipate Darwin, and he was a Darwin too? We could also declare that the poets got there first.
And since Darwin considered himself a natural philosopher, couldn’t we also say that a philosopher did more than anticipate, but actually came up with Darwin’s theory of evolution?
Darwin appreciated philosophy, but also thought it essential to include experiment and observation. In his Autobiography he actually praised his education in philosophy.
Again in my last year I worked with some earnestness for my final degree of B.A., and brushed up my Classics together with a little Algebra and Euclid, which latter gave me much pleasure, as it did whilst at school. In order to pass the B.A. examination, it was, also, necessary to get up Paley’s Evidences of Christianity, and his Moral Philosophy. This was done in a thorough manner, and I am convinced that I could have written out the whole of the Evidences with perfect correctness, but not of course in the clear language of Paley. The logic of this book and as I may add of his Natural Theology gave me as much delight as did Euclid. The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the Academical Course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind.
He also respected William Whewell, a philosopher (and a theologian. Christ, we’re screwed here!).
Dr. Whewell was one of the older and distinguished men who sometimes visited Henslow, and on several occasions I walked home with him at night. Next to Sir J. Mackintosh he was the best converser on grave subjects to whom I ever listened.
Whewell is also the guy who invented the term “scientist” to describe practitioners of a specific branch of…philosophy. I guess it was a philosopher who anticipated scientists.
And, apparently, Darwin’s shipmates on the Beagle called him “philosopher”!
The first Lieutenant, however, said to me: “Confound you, philosopher, I wish you would not quarrel with the skipper; the day you left the ship I was dead-tired (the ship was refitting) and he kept me walking the deck till midnight abusing you all the time.
So I am confused. How can anyone use Darwin Day as an excuse to indict philosophy? It’s as if I used my birthday as an opportunity to cuss out my dad.
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Huffington Post UK
In a move beyond parody, London South Bank University's Student Union removed posters from its Atheists Society depicting a god on the grounds that they were offensive. The god in question was the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a deity invented as satire in ...
Union apologises for censoring atheist 'Spaghetti Monster' posterPolitics.co.uk
Atheist Groups Unhappy with Removal of Michelangelo's 'Creation of Adam ...University Herald
Free speech outcry as images of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are banned from ...The Independent
24dash (press release) -The Guardian -Index On Censorship
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I thought I’d include a picture of the young Charles Darwin, since we are celebrating his birthday today. That’s him in 1816, when he was 6 or 7 years old, with his younger sister, Emily Catherine Darwin. And then I started wondering about that other person in the picture. Darwin’s sisters were an extremely important influence on his life, and I don’t know a heck of a lot about her; Darwin had four sisters and one brother, Erasmus, and most of the biographies say quite a bit about the older brother who preceded him to university, but the sisters seem to be background noise. It seems Catherine’s life was mainly about caring for her father’s household, and she married late in life, at age 53, only to die a few years later. You can read some of Catherine’s correspondence, and she seems to have been a lively and intelligent person.
According to Darwin’s autobiography, she was also the smart one.
I have been told that I was much slower in learning than my younger sister Catherine, and I believe that I was in many ways a naughty boy. Caroline was extremely kind, clever and zealous; but she was too zealous in trying to improve me; for I clearly remember after this long interval of years, saying to myself when about to enter a room where she was-”What will she blame me for now?” and I made myself dogged so as not to care what she might say.
Roughly the same age, roughly the same intelligence, but Catherine Darwin didn’t have the opportunity to go to college or to sail on the Beagle. It makes the picture even more interesting: foreground and background, different fates, different choices, different chances. We know what will happen to those two children — Darwin will die in 1882, Catherine in 1866 — history does this odd thing of telescoping complex lives into just a few events, and I don’t know, but it makes me sad.
I am now resisting the temptation to pull out the old photos of my kids from that box in the closet.
Atheist Who Attempted to Auction Off Her Church Attendance Finally Visits a ...
After a public war of words with eBay, the popular bidding company, a South Carolina atheist who tried but failed to auction off her attendance at church to the highest bidder has officially attended service at a local house of worship — and she says ...
London Review of Books (subscription)
The Atheist's Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed by Georges Minois, translated by Lys Ann Weiss Chicago, 249 pp, £21.00, October 2012, ISBN 978 0 226 53029 1. One of the ways in which literary texts are capacious is their ability to ...
Atheist ' would love to go back to church after faith swap experiment
A Christian and an atheist have shared their experiences of swapping lives for one month. In January, friends and comedians Simon Capes and Bentley Browning each gave up their respective belief systems in favour of the other's, in the hopes of ...