Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Onion's version of Intelligent Design

Last week on the show I talked about the notion that the new creationist tactic is to say they "believe in evolution" but describe a warped notion of evolution that is essentially indistinguishable from creationism. Closely related is the Intelligent Design technique of mostly accepting the science behind evolution but then insisting that some particular gap needs to be filled in by God.

This week The Onion takes up that theme with I Believe In Evolution, Except For The Whole Triassic Period.

Excerpt:
"In fact, scientific reasoning can explain nearly every stage of life from the Big Bang to the present day. I say "nearly" because the period that scientists claim lasted from roughly 205 to 250 million years ago, commonly known as the Triassic period, was quite obviously the work of the Lord God Almighty.

"Think about it: I'm supposed to believe that the same process that we know slowly changed us from simple bacteria into highly advanced reptiles over the course of the Paleozoic era is also responsible for turning us into highly advanced reptiles with different body lengths? Do these people ever pause to think how ridiculous they sound as they advance these theories?"

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Yabba-Dabba-Dumb!: Christianity's war on reality kicks it up a notch

Ken Ham opened his colossal monument to ignorance this weekend, the Creation "Museum", and PZ Myers is hosting a carnival right now of scientific responses to this folly. The NCSE has also issued a statement.

Clearly the anti-science fools in fundamentalist Christian circles will not rest until an entire generation of American students grows up completely miseducated and deceived, and America itself collapses in global stature to the level of a scientific and intellectual third world country. Not only that, but our economy could falter the more science and reason are rejected in America (among the supporters of Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback are people who deny — get this — that the earth revolves around the sun!), as America fails to advance scientifically and we become just as dependent on Europe and Asia for our medicines, our technology, and our research needs as we currently are on the Middle East for our oil. (I know that last bit sounds slippery-slope-ish, but come on, who ever thought we'd see people willingly pump $25 million into something like this?)

Finally, the stereotype of Christians as being just plain less intelligent than everyone else is powerfully reinforced. In the end, that may be the only bit of fact this "museum" promulgates.

Cletus and Clem Clodhopper enjoyed their trip to the Creation Museum this weekend, and reported they learned a lot. "Ah cain't read much 'sept comic books, so lookin at the big plastic dinersores was just like goina collidge, 'sept better, cuz I dint hafta read!" boasted Clem. Cletus particularly appreciated being able to spend a Saturday away from the family farm, which he shares with his mother/girlfriend and about 23 of his brothers/sons and sisters/aunts/daughters. "Mostly ah look forward to the weekend cuz after ah muck out the stables Pappy lets me blow the goat. Ah never thought ah'd get no schoolin but now ah done gone to the museum, I got alla mah schoolin in one day! Praise Jesus!"

Friday, May 25, 2007

What kind of atheist are you?

Find out. Here's me.

You scored as a Scientific Atheist. These guys rule. They know the rules of debate, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and can explain evolution in fifty words or less. More concerned with how things are than how they should be, these are the people who will bring us into the future.

Scientific Atheist

100%

Militant Atheist

83%

Apathetic Atheist

58%

Angry Atheist

50%

Spiritual Atheist

50%

Agnostic

33%

Theist

8%

What kind of atheist are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Hovind's mind is beginning to crumble

There are signs emerging that Kent Hovind is starting to deteriorate between the ears ("Whaddaya mean, starting to?" you're saying, I know) as a result of his incarceration. His latest letter from the pen posted on the Creation Science Evangelism blog is a bizarre, self-pitying bit of blather in which he refers to God as the "master," Jesus as the "woodsman," evolution as a "big oak" and himself as the "ax". He then goes off in a profoundly weird rant, following a "why hast thou forsaken me" motif.

I mean, get a load of this (spelling errors included):

Dear Woodsman,

Why have you done this? We were doing so well felling tress for the Master’s house and you quit chopping with me in the middle of cutting that big oak. Why? I was doing my best. I never flew off the handle. I cut as deep as I could every swing. What did I do wrong?

Why do you have me clamped in this vice? I can’t move! I can’t chop wood here. I was designed for chopping wood. I love it! Please don’t leave me clamped in this vice. I feel pressure on my sides that I’ve never felt before. I can handle the pressure on my cutting edge. Go ahead. Chop with me all day long. I can take it. Actually, I love it!

Now what? No! Wait! Why are you grinding and filing off part of me? Why would you take away pieces of the most effective part of me—my cutting edge?

Woodsman, the Master needs the trees cut! This delay is holding up the job we were doing for Him! Please stop grinding on me and get me out of this vice. I want to go back to work. I love cutting wood. Ouch! You are hurting me!

Woodsman, are you listening to me? Do you know what you are doing?

The Ax

This is the kind of thing you read, and then sit there quietly for a second, before exhaling and thinking "...Wow!"

Hovind is disintegrating. When he's released, it is likely he will have to undergo treatment of some kind in a mental health facility. He may even have to be remanded to such a facility before his release. I don't feel sorry for him in the least for who he's been and what he's done. But it's a reassuring sign, I suppose, that his influence has considerably waned, and may even be considered negligible. In the "deuling polls" matter discussed a few days ago, the "Free Hovind" petition still has fewer than 100 signatures, many of which are pranks, while the "Keep Him Locked Up" counter-petition has over 1100. He's lost his fan base except for all but the stupidest and most deluded, and now he's losing his marbles.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Because goofing on YEC's is just fun!

Young Earth Creationists are not exactly the brightest lights on the tree, as we all know. And the dimmest bulbs among them have to be Kent Hovind's dwindling fan club.

In the way creationists in general think that facts will change to conform to beliefs, Hovind supporters have whipped up one of these stupid online petitions in the hopes of getting him pardoned and released. If there has ever been a case in the history of the internet where an online petition has impacted or changed — well — anything, I haven't heard about it. But to think the Florida criminal justice system would actually reverse a felony conviction and prison sentence on the basis of a handful of people signing an online petition is a particularly pitiful brand of stupidity. I mean, you'd have to be stupid enough to believe the earth is only 6000 years old or something to believe that!

Naturally, the atheist and science blogosphere has been having some fun at these poor fools' expense, just as they did with that numbskulled Christianity Today poll a few days back. A few people have posted phony signatures to the "Free Hovind" petition, but I, like PZ, would discourage this. Hell, it's just mean, like taking candy from a baby. The better choice for a mocking response has been the "Keep Hovind in Jail!" counter-petition, which, as of this morning, has 843 signatures to the pro-Hovind poll's 53 (and some of those 53, as I indicated, are pranks). The YEC's who started the "Free Kent" petition are aware of the counter-petition, and have gone into full "Mommy mommy, the monsters under the bed are trying to eat me!" mode.

Now of course, a key difference is that the people who started the "Keep Hovind in Jail!" petition know online petitions are bogus. The reason for the counter-petition is to give the poor deluded dimwits who still have the wool pulled over their eyes where Hovind is concerned a blunt reality check. The man was a liar and a con artist, a schemer and a deliberate crook. And those fine Christians who think he actually told them the truth about dinosaurs and the age of the earth are the victims of his most egregious and inexcusable con, and their views are not in the mainstream here.

Yes, sometimes it seems mean to pound on the religiously deluded and uneducated. But sometimes a little "tough love" is needed. Signing your name to "Keep Hovind in Jail!" isn't really like participating in an "iPetition." Think of it more as an "iIntervention".

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Creationism Evolves: Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution

Today on the show: Intelligent Design.

I'm pulling together some topics I have talked about in the past. For more information, see these pages:

Another fun atheism poll

Do vote, won't you?

Update — Monday 11:30 AM: After the poll results ended up looking like this...

...Christianity Today took the poll down. Guess they're gonna take their ball an' go home!

Could the Bible be ruled "indecent" in Hong Kong?

This is hilarious. More than 800 Hong Kong citizens are pushing to have the Bible legally classified as indecent material. In actuality, this is all by way of making a point about freedom of speech and of the press. Recently a column in a university newspaper containing frank discussions of deviant sex practices like bestiality was deemed indecent by the ominously-named Obscene Articles Tribunal. In reaction, the complaints about the excessive sexual and violent content of the Bible were filed. I have to admit, the idea of two girls getting their father drunk and screwing him, and all on the orders of God, to boot, might not go over well with many of today's proponents of Biblical "morality." But that, I'm sure, will remain on the list of Bible stories they don't read to you in Sunday School.

It's still all up in the air — and probably not likely; as Christopher Hitchens and others have pointed out lately, you can get away with anything if you slap the label "religion" on it — whether or not the Tribunal will agree with the complaints and actually declare the Bible an indecent publication. But I have to admit the thought of this makes me giggle:

If the Bible is ... classified as "indecent" by authorities, only those over 18 could buy the holy book and it would need to be sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice.

I'm sure Larry Flynt is smiling.

In which everyone's irony meters explode yet again

The latest funny thing I've gotten in my inbox from the American Family Association is a plug for a low-budget Christian movie called Flywheel, an earlier effort, broadcast on TBN back in 2003, from the producers of theatrical release Facing the Giants. Reading the plot synopsis, I wonder if ol' Don Wildmon saw a little too much of himself in the description of the protagonist.

This movie is about a used car salesman, Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick), who uses his smiling face and hasty promises to cover up his dishonesty and manipulation. He does everything his way until his true character is exposed and he becomes disgusted by the masks he wears and the lies he tells.

Gee. Except for that last bit, it could be Wildmon's life story!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What still hasn't been reported about the bomber

The would-be family planning clinic bomber Paul Ross Evans was indicted today on a number of charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He got most of the materials for his bomb at a local Wal-Mart and used his credit card for the purchase. It didn't take too much effort to solve the crime. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison. Apparently, he realized the seriousness of his little stunt while awaiting trial and he made a suicide attempt.

It might be interesting to readers to know that this event occurred in Austin Texas, the home town of the Atheist Experience. While Austin is a great place to live, we have our nuts, too.

The press has been eerily silent about the motivations of this guy. Anybody who pays the slightest bit of attention to the culture war knows that the only people who care about making trouble for family planning clinics are the hard-core Christian conservatives. I'll bet anyone that this guy had some religious indoctrination along the way. I wonder if he didn't get some of that faith-based programming while he was in prison earlier. I seriously doubt the mainstream media will look into the question, given their pro-religion bias. Believers certainly don't like to be confronted with the reality that belief (denying reality) has bad consequences. It's bad for newspaper sales.

The press has reported that the guy has no known affiliations to terrorist groups, but I think perhaps it's time we broaden the definition of terrorist groups to include some more of these religious extremists. It seems that there is some confusion about what kind of crime the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to go after. If this sort of bombing isn't an example of domestic terrorism, I don't know what is. Meanwhile, DHS is apparently charged with going after child predators, yet the leaders of the largest pedophile organization in modern history still flaunt the law, impede investigations, and roam free. Can anybody guess who they are? Perhaps it's time we stop giving religious believers a free ride in the morality department. After all, aren't they supposed to adhere to a higher standard?

Back to the Paul Ross Evans story, I can't help but point out the irony of "pro life" people trying to plot murders. "Pro life" seems to be little more than a marketing device. If you believe that human bodies are just soul traps, that souls are the essence of a person, and that it's the ultimate destiny of the soul to escape the trap, you're naturally going to de-value human life. Not surprisingly, countries with more believers also have more suicides and murders. ...Oh, and higher abortion rates, too. (Too many ironies for one paragraph. That last point really calls for a separate post.) You can bet that Paul Ross Evans believes that humans have souls. He might even believe that he'll have a special place in Heaven because of his actions.

I have yet to get a definite theological answer on what becomes of the alleged souls of aborted embryos, since Christians seem to think they have them. This question is especially important now that the Vatican has backpedaled on their invention of limbo. If those little buggers go automatically to heaven, then maybe killing them isn't so bad, as Andrea Yates correctly concluded. If they go to hell, as original sin would indicate, then we have to wonder how Christians live with the fact that their "gift" of free will from a benevolent God is the cause of the infinite torture of innocent little babies.

I want a front-row seat to this!

I almost wish I were a musician simply so that I could start a band called Satanic Sodomite Zeitgeist!

Can we get religion to just ... stop?

Here's a sobering report from the front lines of battle in Gaza City between Hamas and Fatah. In this case, the front lines are right at the door of this reporter's apartment, where he spends entire nights with his wife and child huddling in the outer corridor because bullets are blowing out their apartment windows. No matter how crappy your life is right now, I guarantee you've never had it as bad as what these people have to go through every day. And make no mistake, this is a religious war. You've had these two groups of people, Israelis and Palestinians, and they've been killing each other without end over possession of lands believed to be theirs by divine mandate. As a result, horror ensues. If religion did not play such a central role in this area, the hatred and tribalism and attitude of "hey, you have a beard, I have to shoot you!" would not exist. It's as simple as that.

People, could you just please please stop with the religion thing?

Just stop it! Fuck!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Remembering Falwell

Was out to lunch at Cici's when word came over the idiot box that Falwell's ticket had in fact been punched. Fox News currently has nonstop coverage, as if Falwell was some kind of head of state (and I guess in many ways he was), and naturally, spinning a complete hagiography. Just as naturally, there was no mention of what you're going to read here. Remember that the preacherman who's being hailed as "compassionate" by Fox's army of sycophants once made the compassionate remark that "If you're not a born-again Christian, you're a failure as a human being." Guess that must be some of that Christian Love™ we keep hearing about.

Ganked from the ACT UP site: A partial transcript of Falwell and Robertson on The 700 Club, September 13, 2001:

JERRY FALWELL: And I agree totally with you that the Lord has protected us so wonderfully these 225 years. And since 1812, this is the first time that we've been attacked on our soil and by far the worst results. And I fear, as Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, said yesterday, that this is only the beginning. And with biological warfare available to these monsters — the Husseins, the Bin Ladens, the Arafats — what we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact — if, in fact — God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

PAT ROBERTSON: Jerry, that's my feeling. I think we've just seen the antechamber to terror. We haven't even begun to see what they can do to the major population.

JERRY FALWELL: The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this.

PAT ROBERTSON: Well yes.

JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I'll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."

PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government. And so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do. And, the top people, of course, is the court system.

JERRY FALWELL: Pat, did you notice yesterday the ACLU and all the Christ-haters, People For the American Way, NOW, etc. were totally disregarded by the Democrats and the Republicans in both houses of Congress as they went out on the steps and called out on to God in prayer and sang "God Bless America" and said "let the ACLU be hanged". In other words, when the nation is on its knees, the only normal and natural and spiritual thing to do is what we ought to be doing all the time — calling upon God.

PAT ROBERTSON: Amen!

Falwell later attempted an insincere apology for these remarks.

Another brilliant insight from the Falwellian Hit Parade was his famous remark about the Antichrist: "Who will the Antichrist be? I don't know. Nobody else knows. Is he alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish. Of course he'll pretend to be Christ. And if in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll be an adult at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere today."

Aaaaand — cue another insincere apology.

Then we get around to Falwell's ludicrous antiscience ravings, such as the time he dismissed global warming as "Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus" from evangelism to environmentalism. Let's see...here we have a majority of the world's scientists agreeing that human activity has led to measurable climate change, we have Al Gore appearing in an intensively researched documentary bringing these facts to the public, and this is in turn dismissed by a clown who thought it was all a big prank on the part of a mythical being with horns and a pitchfork and a pointy tail. Does lunacy or idiocy describe it better? Discuss.

I'd like to think that things will change with Falwell's passing. But of course, fundamentalist tribalism, hate and intolerance, and its concomitant superstitious tomfoolery will continue unabated. Who will check out next — Pat, Tim, DJK — and how many contortions will the lapdogs in the mainstream media twist themselves into, to convince viewers of what shining examples of unimpeachable rectitude they were?

Falwell found unconscious in office, rushed to hospital

An alert on CNN has just mentioned this. Yeah, we hate this guy. He's an anti-Semitic, homophobic scumbag who blamed Americans he didn't like for "allowing" 9/11 to happen. But we don't gloat over people who might be passing out and dying. I'll leave that to the Coulters and Phelpses of the world; they do it so well. Every time someone dies there are friends and families involved, and we hope they are spared any tragedy.

But this event does bring up an interesting point in regards to fundamentalism in America: the old guard is getting old indeed. Falwell, Robertson (who's had prostate cancer), D. James Kennedy (who's been hospitalized lately), Paul Crouch and Tim LaHaye are all well past that three-score and ten. When they're gone, what will the next generation look like? Harsher and more openly theocratic, subtler, or just more of the same?

Somehow, this completely escaped our notice

Christopher Hitchens debated Marvin Olasky in Austin last night, and for some reason, no one in the local atheist community — neither in the ACA nor in the CFI-Austin group — seems to have known it was going to happen at all. According to the brief and rather shallow article in the Statesman, it sounds like it was one of those "lots of heat but little light" affairs, with Hitchens deilvering his usual acid-tongued snark (which can be quite entertaining in its way; I'm about three chapters into God Is Not Great and am enjoying it much more than I anticipated), and Olasky whining about what a big meanie Hitchens is. If anyone reading this actually did manage to go see them, we'd love a detailed report.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A right way, and a wrong way, to protest Ken Ham's fantasy "museum"

On the one hand, I fully believe that Answers in Genesis' new "museum" of creationist quackery in Kentucky (as if the south didn't have to deal with enough ignorant-hick stereotypes) ought to go down in flames as any monument to folly and ignorance should.

But I worry about the effect a formal protest will have, which, I think, will be next to none at all in terms of letting the public know about real science, and instead give Ham and his other little Hamsters plenty of material to work with in order to mount one of their famous "Oooo, the godless Nazi evilutionists don't want us around because they know we're telling the truth" lines of nonsense. Anyone who has ever dealt with creationists will know that they lie and lie and lie again, as if they are drawing from a bottomless well of rank dishonesty which is entirely justified, to them, by the belief they're saving people from their God's hell. Lies are to creationists as water is to fish. Even a court of law will not stem the tidal wave of their falsehoods, as the Dover trial proved.

Ham and his ilk have a common ancestor: P.T. Barnum. And this "museum" is little more than the present-day equivalent of the Cardiff Giant rolling tent show. Not only are there thousands of uneducated people who will lap up Ham's nonsense as eagerly as people lapped up the Giant hoax back in the 1800's, but they'll be all too eager to buy the conspiracy/persecution theories offered by Ham once supporters of real science allow themselves to be made angry and come out with signs. All Ham has to do is tell the flock that the protestors hate Jesus and are out to take away everybody's Bibles and turn their children gay, and the airlocks will slam shut on everyone's ears and minds.

I say if we're going to do this, is ought to be with mockery. (And maybe that's the protest's real plan.) Don't just stand around holding a sign. Go into the "museum," tour it, and ask the tour guides (if they have those) pointed scientific questions they won't be able to answer. Challenge them on their knowledge. Every time a creationist used to call the TV show when I was host, and claim to be very knowledgable about evolution, I'd ask him a simple Biology 101 question: what's the difference between a genotype and a phenotype? I never got a correct answer, and mostly got indignant huffing and puffing. (This isn't to say that no creationists know the answer, only the ones who called us.) The point is to let these people know that evolutionary biology is a vast field of science they just don't know. And that actually knowing facts should not be a scary thing. Remember the myth of Eden: the tree Eve ate the fruit from was — all together now — the Tree of Knowledge. That myth is at the root of all fundamentalist antiscience right down to the present day. Reality must be denied in favor of "faith," because that's what keeps the sheep in line and the collection plates full. Knowledge = bad = going to hell, Belief = virtue = going to Heaven.

That's a seriously emotionally powerful meme to have to overcome with, you know, boring stuff like evidence.

I think it'd be a good exercise to come up with funny ways to demolish the "museum" with satire, and then submit those ideas to people actually planning to attend the protest. If our side is shown to be confident in the facts, rather than being scared of a potential threat to "Darwinist dogma" (because remember, that's always how the creationists frame it), then a good dose of sarcasm and wit will go much further than you'd think. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and South Park hit bullseyes as often as they do for a reason. Their way of treating things that are stupid really works. We ought to model after their example.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Carnival of the Godless #66



Welcome to The Atheist Experience, and the 66th Carnival of the Godless. We are proud to be hosting this installment, which I confess I wish had an extra digit in its issue number.

If you've never read our blog before, or seen the Atheist Experience TV show, or listened to the Non-Prophets podcast, or read the Iron Chariots wiki, I think your visit here will add quite a lot to your online atheism activities. I hope that you will excuse the liberal dose of self-pimpage, but below is a quick "best-of" compendium of AE blog entries from the last few months, which I'm sure you'll enjoy reading and will perhaps persuade you to bookmark us. As one person of discriminating taste to another, I'm sure you will!

  • First, you can read all my coverage of this year's The Amaz!ng Meeting 5, hosted by the James Randi Educational Foundation in Las Vegas back in January, by clicking here.
  • You can also watch several video files of Atheist Experience TV episodes by choosing this tag.
  • Pat Robertson predicted the US would fall victim to a nuclear — or is that "nucular"? — terrorist strike this year, and I had, shall we say, a little fun with it. Previously appeared in COTG #57.
  • TV show host Matt Dillahunty has a word or two in response to the hysterical overreaction by some Christian groups upon the discovery of — gasp! — an actual real-live atheist holding public office! Clearly the fall of the republic is at hand, and the barbarians are at the gates!
  • Stephen Rogers crucifies the Crucifixion.
  • In our most linked-to and highly-trafficked post (over 1000 hits from Pharyngula alone), we present a series of YouTube clips revealing Kent Hovind's phone calls from jail. They display the infamous YEC's delusions and disconnection from reality to a truly sad degree. A number of comments have also been left by Hovind defenders, some earnest, some sad, most just as deluded as Hovind's own ravings. As PZ Myers described them, these tapes are a real window into fundamentalist creationist pathology.
  • Stephen again, presenting an example of what he calls "half-hearted evangelism."
  • I walk all over a popular Christian retort, that there are no such things as atheists, or that atheism presupposes theism, here. Ray Comfort likes to use this one a lot. It's as dumb as most of what usually comes out of his mouth.
  • Don Baker examines The "Thou Shalt Not Judge" Mind Game.
  • And last but not least, me again, refuting the "appeal to free will" rebuttal to the Problem of Evil.

Now onto this edition's submissions. Thanks to all the fine godless bloggers who've participated. And yes, I actually read all of these before adding them to the list below, because, hey, blog carnivals are all about reading great stuff! Please note these are in no particular order. Just peruse at will. There's a load of stuff here to choose from, and it's full of awesome!


And that's a wrap for this edition! Submit your blog article to the next edition of Carnival of the Godless, which will be hosted on May 27 by Letters from a Broad, using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found at the blog carnival index page. Thanks again to all the participants this time, and we'll see you readers back here again very soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I understand it's a "religion of peace"

Check this out. Pakistan, I am told, is our friend in the War on Terror. That's what they say. Bush says it, and we know what a stand-up guy he is, so it must be true. And we know the Bush administration takes a hard line against those Islamofascists, too, because they're always saying so on Fox News. And we know how fair and balanced they are, so it must be true. I mean, the Islamofascists are why we can't leave Iraq, right? Because that's where they all are, and so if we leave, well then, they're just going to swarm the globe in their millions, and it'll be Islamofascism here, Islamofascism there, Islamofascism everywhere!

So I wonder just how our fine, courageous, standing-up-to-the-terrorists president is going to react if our good fellow-Islamofascist-terrorist-fighting friends in Pakistan pass this bill that would make it a capital crime for a Muslim man to decide he wanted to leave the faith. Hey, at least they're going easy on women, who would only get life in prison. I suppose this is what passes for "progressive" in an Islamic country. After all, Islamofascists aren't known for making women's lives very pleasant. I mean, for real. Like, if you're a woman, and you live in an Islamic country, it pretty much sucks to be you. So for women who want to leave Islam to get off so lightly with a mere life sentence seems to indicate that Islam has made a bold step forward into the 17th century, at least.

But come on. Really. To pass a law saying that we'll fucking kill you if you don't want to belong to our religion any more is pretty barbaric even for Islam, which is already just about the most barbaric belief system any bunch of barbarians ever practiced barbarism under. And I say this as someone who has lived in the Middle East, known plenty of the "good" Muslims, knows what good and kind people they can be, and remains utterly nonplussed that decent folks can continue to live under the yoke of such a totalitarian, anti-human, tyrannical religion. Hell, maybe that's the problem that has motivated Pakistan's desire to draft this law. You wouldn't think they'd need it if there weren't the real threat of mass defections by good Muslims who have concluded they simply cannot stand by and be part of something so evil any more.

Well, I'm sure Bush'll give ol' Musharraf what-for over this. Won't he? He will, won't he? Sure he will.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A good excuse not to swallow!

A study that will no doubt transform some religious fundamentalists into ardent supporters of scientific research overnight finds that oral sex puts people at high risk of throat cancer. HPV infection seems to be the big culprit, again, lending more support to the vaccine that fundies have vocally opposed. So expect a renewed vigor to be applied to opposition to the HPV vaccine. The Landover Baptist Church could very well do good business in these. If good Christians don't want their little girls to grow up to be fluffers, then by all that's good and holy, keep them away from modern medicine!

In the meantime, I'm sure all socially conscious women out there will rush to get the vaccine as soon as possible — for the pubic, erm, the public good, don't you know. After all, a humming society is a happy society! Or something like that.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Abortion still condemned by head of church that enabled rapist pedophiles

Yes, I suppose if you abort them now, it makes it hard to sodomize them later.

Joseph Ratzinger, known to millions of Catholics around the world as "the Pope," has immediately touched off what melodramatic journalists love to call "a firestorm of controversy" over his condemnation of politicians upholding reproductive rights. He has said in effect that Catholic politicians who do not take a stand against abortion have basically excommunicated themselves and should not receive communion, a mad creepy ritual in which believers drink wine and eat little crackers and imagine themselves to be eating Jesus's flesh and sipping his blood. Again, the moral confusion of the Vatican is enough to make your head reel. What possible system can condemn abortion but sweep pedophilia under the rug and hold entire services for people to perform pretend-cannibalism? (Yes yes, I know they don't see it that way, but that doesn't lessen the bizarreness quotient.) And they call us "moral relativists."

Ratzinger's remarks were occasioned by his first visit to Latin America, an area populated by almost half the world's Catholics, and yet one which is undergoing a sea change where women's rights are concerned. In Mexico, they've just legalized abortion. The Vatican is losing followers to Protestantism, particularly this fad called "liberation theology". (Would that they were losing more to rationalism, but hey, you know, baby steps.) Liberation theology in particular drives Ratzo crazy. Part of what he is trying to do in his Latin tour is jerk a few million leashes and scare all the backsliders back into line.

Amusingly, the response from other prominent Catholics is to scramble to "clarify" Ratzinger's remarks. This is funny, as I always thought it was part of the Catholic rulebook that their "Pope" is supposed to be God's mouthpiece and thus infallible. But Papal infallibility doesn't exactly seem to be in vogue in a part of the world where hardline adherence to the most intractible and medieval Catholic doctrines about sexuality could prompt even more mass walkouts then the Church has already suffered there.

This pope's apparent candor can get him in trouble, said John L. Allen Jr., a reporter with the National Catholic Reporter. "Benedict doesn't seem to distinguish when he is speaking as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and when he is speaking as the head of the Roman Catholic Church."

Oh, there's a difference? I thought that once Ratzinger got Popified, he wasn't a mere cardinal any longer. But what does a heathen like me know about it? I must confess I have little interest in the carryings-on of a gang of medievalists who like to dress up in funny robes, give themselves pompous titles, and declaim as if they had any authority over anyone or any expertise to speak on any subject other than their storybook. I might as well take an interest in what a bunch of LARPers tra-la-la-ing about the woods in tights and chain mail and frilly blouses pretending to be Robin Hood and His Band of Merry Men have to say about abortion or human rights or geopolitics, for all that's worth.

Another humorous comment from Ratzo: God, unlike what most Christians have been led to believe, is not in fact omnipotent.

"In all parts of the world, there are those who don't want to hear," Benedict said on the plane. "Naturally, even our Lord did not manage to make everyone hear."

Naturally? Naturally. So there you have it, from his Infallible Mouthpieceness Himself: there's something God cannot do. Ta-ta, omnipotence.

It would appear that, while most of Central and South America remain devoutly Catholic, there is growing courage amongst those who would stand against the policies and practices of an oppressive Church, that, ever since the pedophilia scandal of a few years ago, has as far as I'm concerned lost any moral authority it ever had to lecture anybody on anything. As Mexican legislator Leticia Quezada, herself one of Ratzo's self-excommunicating Catholics, and one of the sponsors of Mexico's new abortion law, has said, "I voted to address a crisis of public health…. I will continue to be a believer. The church has no right to interfere in my conscience." Go, girl! It's high time — centuries overdue, in fact — for the Vatican and its gang of thugs to be handed their walking papers by the human race. Let's sweep the bums out, turn the Sistine Chapel into an art museum, and move forward with education and humanitarian aid efforts for delevoping countries that aren't based on scaring them into submission to men in robes and their invisible magic capo in the sky.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hovind in the hole

Word is getting around the blogosphere that creationist Kent Hovind, currently doing time for violating numerous tax laws, has been thrown into solitary confinement, though reasons for this are obscure. One explanation is that Hovind has been trying to run his own prison ministry without approval, though to what degree that is true is up in the air.

Given Hovind's penchant for portraying himself as an innocent martyr to the faith who's being victimized by an evil government trying to silence him for preaching "the truth" about evolution, and the brainless eagerness of Hovind's wide-eyed followers to parrot this self-serving delusion (seriously, check the comments in the link above, as well as some of those that have turned up even here), it's likely any story that comes along as to why Hovind has been so incarcerated — if he even has — will have been thoroughly run through CSE's distortion machine.

Naturally, I feel about as much sympathy for Hovind, let alone his claims of martyrdom, as I do for Paris Hilton. Neither an imaginary deity nor spoiled-brat celebutard status puts anyone above the law.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maybe not the best sales pitch...?

Uh....What exactly do they do to you at these services!?

Atheist Experience #495-496 double feature

In the interests of catching up, two more shows for your pleasure.


Atheist Experience #495: 4/8/07. Ashley Perrien talks about god & evolution polls and the local $500 non-abortion incentive.


Atheist Experience #496: 4/15/07. Deconversion II. Tracie Harris continues to discuss the process through which believers become non-believers.

Austin's Joe Zamecki interviewed in Telegraph article

The ACA's Joe Zamecki is prominently interviewed in this piece in the UK's Telegraph, which discusses the rise of atheism as a very public and politically active movement in the US, spurred on, of course, by the depradations of the Christian Right and the Bush administration in this decade. Congratulations to Joe, and it's always great news to see the favorable coverage the growing trend towards godlessness has been getting in the media (even if you have to go out of the country to read it). As the article notes — and as we all know to our chagrin — there is a long way to go to overcome the sheer volume of religious ignorance in this country, as indicated by the recent Republican debate in which no fewer than three candidates proudly announced their stupidity for all the world to see by admitting they were evolution deniers. But it's a start. The theocons know we're out there, and they aren't happy, which means, of course, we are. Reason may yet triumph over darkness one day after all. (Yes...the eternal optimist...that's me.)

Russell and the Jehovah's Witnesses

I apologize for the blog pimping, and I try not to do it too often, but...

Yesterday I had my first experience with JW's at my house, and I wrote all about it on my blog.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

National Day of Prayer never had a prayer

Several more prominent blogs have already reported on this, arguably making its coverage here superfluous. But it's just so hilarious that I couldn't not remark upon it. In Washington D.C., no one bothered to turn up to the National Day of Prayer event on the Capitol lawn. They set up 600 folding chairs, and a podium with a huge PA system. But there were never any more than four seats occupied. The official spokesman for the International Bible Reading Association responded to this ultimate in flopdom by saying, cryptically, "This isn't that kind of event." What kind of event? The kind where people turn up at all, you mean, thereby making it an "event" in the first place? Then why set up 600 folding chairs?

Now comes the hilarious part. The aforementioned spokesman is one Jeff Gannon (real name James Guckert), best known for having the most unusual career trajectory in all Washington. Prior to finding his way into the White House press corps, where he was essentially a plant whose role was lobbing Democrat-bashing softball questions at Bush, he was offering his services for $200 an hour at HotMilitaryStud.com, a gay online escort service. Now he's the spokesman for the International Bible Reading Association? Truly, the Lord works in mysterious ways. But then, I suppose He can afford the 200 bucks.


Jeff Gannon before...

...and after.


You think Jeff let Bush have that one on the house?

Praise the Lord and pass the KY!

I'm sorry. That was pretty bad. Even for me.

PS: The article goes on to state that a counter-rally for the National Day of Reason held nearby by the Beltway Atheists drew only five people (one more than the NDOP crowd!), indicating that the whole thing is, to the general public, pretty much a non-event. Which I'm pleased to see. The more that the efforts of the theocrats are met with blanket indifference by the public at large, to the point where even protest actions are seen as utterly unnecessary, the happier we'll all be. Nevertheless, our own Don Baker reports that the NDOR gathering in Austin went over rather well, so perhaps we can persuade him to blog about it for those who couldn't attend.

Friday, May 04, 2007

To Christians, it's "common sense" to shove religion down our throats

The latest blow against religious freedom and diversity and in favor of theocracy was struck here in Texas, when the House voted by an overwhelming margin (of course — they want to get re-elected, after all) to add "under God" to the Texas pledge.

First off, it's news to me that there was a "Texas pledge". I don't recall reciting one when I was a student way back when, so this must be a new development in the last decade or so.

Mirroring the current trend among social conservatives to force unanimity of thought as regards religion upon schoolchildren everywhere, the House had precious view members with the integrity and character to speak up against this bill. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat, floated the idea that this just might, you know, impinge on the individual religious freedoms of students.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, rejected that argument and said adding the words was simply "common sense."

So there you have it. Suck it up, rationalists. It's just "common sense" to go with the fundamentalist flow and shoehorn acknowledgment of an invisible magic being into a daily school activity. And now that that's out of the way, this intelligent design stuff looks pretty nice, too, don't it...

Here is Debbie Riddle's contact information. Let her know, in polite but unflinching terms, how you as a Texas atheist feel about her bill. Tell her how proud you are that the legislature has done such a fine job of solving all of the state's other pressing problems that they had sufficient free time to devote to Godding up the Texas pledge. And here is a choice quote, on another matter entirely, reflecting on Debbie's loving, Christian nature.

  • "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it's cleverly disguised as having a tender heart, [but] it's ripping the heart out of this country." Source.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Oh, this ought to be fun!

Ray Comfort, easily the lamest Christian apologist in the business this side of Jack Chick, is moist with excitement over an upcoming debate in which he claims he will prove, without recourse to the Bible, the existence of God. I wonder what it will be this time? A kumquat?

From a WorldNutDaily article:

"The network originally offered me only four minutes to present my case," Comfort said. "After speaking with Kirk [Cameron, former Growing Pains and Left Behind series movie star] and conferring with the atheists, they settled on 13 minutes. I'm ecstatic. I can prove the existence of God in that amount of time."

Well! There you have it. Ray Comfort will achieve in 13 minutes on ABC what no theologian or apologist or scientist or philosopher has done since the beginning of human civilization! I can't wait! Sounds like must-see-TV to me.

Mark your calendars: May 9 at noon Central on ABC.com.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

This Saturday, see author Victor Stenger in Austin

Jeez, I've been slacking bad on this. Those fine folks at the Center for Inquiry Community of Austin are sponsoring a visit by Victor J. Stenger, author of the new Prometheus title God: The Failed Hypothesis this Saturday morning at 11:30 AM at Book People. So if you're an Austin atheist, and I hear we have a few, this would be worth waking up for. Do come.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

MST3K, please come back!

This is why we need you, Satellite of Love! Don't let the floodtide of filth get me!

Okay, everyone: comments challenge! Let's see who can come up with the best MST-ed responses to this. Bonus points for actually using Crow and Servo in your riffing.


Dug up a little more info on our boy George Putnam. An intriguing data point about the little masterpiece we're streaming here is that according to the Wikipedia entry, it was financed by Charles Keating, who would go down in ignominy in the 1989 savings and loan scandal. Putnam, amazingly, is still alive and working in his mid-90's, and has a right-wing radio talk show.

Here also is Wikipedia's interesting entry about the film.

And then enjoy this to see how much fun you can have with editing software.