Questions that Creationists Can't Answer

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, June 30, 2009 | Published in

"Debating creationists on the topic of evolution is rather like trying to play chess with a pigeon; it knocks the pieces over, craps on the board, and flies back to its flock to claim victory." - Scott D. Weitzenhoffer

If you know me well you probably know that I've been following the evolution-creationism "debate" pretty devoutly for the last 4 years or so. I don't know why. It's usually like a rather nasty car crash with steel twisted every way. The creationists mindset is some rather interesting head space though. The amount of cognitive dissonance and outright denialism contained in one hardcore Creationist is more than enough to keep a whole team of psychologists and neuro-scientists busy for several lifetimes.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps) I've never been one to directly engage in prolonged debate with Creationists. Mainly because 1) research is hard 2) I'm allergic to direct conflict 3) I don't particularly like bashing my head against the wall. Instead I've always sat on the sidelines, cheered on the good guys, and occasionally tossed a very sharp object into the ring.

That being said, I have actually picked up some knowledge along the way. For instance, there are certain questions that will stop almost all Creationists in their tracks and make them do an abrupt 90° turn (because we all know that them doing a 180° is impossible). The one thing Creationists are good at is making rationalizations that they dub "apologetics". There are certain things that they can't answer though such as:

1) Why can we see starlight from millions of light years away? (Otherwise known as the Starlight Problem.) The only apologetics I have seen for this involve completely changing the laws of physics beyond repair or to invoke the Trickster God of Omphalos.

2) Why doesn't the Institute for Creation Research do any research? Why hasn't the Discovery Institute discovered anything? So far all either of these organizations have contributed is apologetics, public relations and legal muscle. Neither Creationist organization has ever put forth any new scientific information. They have never put forth a scientific model to do any tests around. There have only been a handful of Creation "scientists" that have done peer-reviewed work and none of these papers involved a creationist model. Their excuse is that Big Science is blackballing all of them but that leads us to our next question...

3) How far does the Big Science conspiracy go? Currently more than half of all humans in the industrial nations agree with evolution. We can wave that away by saying most of those are being fooled by the evolution "hoax". However we still have millions of scientists in the last hundred years that understand biology and agree with evolution. According to creationists they are just keeping their mouth shut because overturning an entire branch of science and winning a Nobel Prize would be too stressful. Add to that the fact that most government scientific agencies (and the entire Judicial branch of the US government) are helping prop up the theory. Then take into account the fact that many drug companies use the theory of evolution to develop new drugs (here is where Big Science intersects Big Pharma). And don't forget the oil and mineral companies that use non-Flood geology to discovery veins of the good stuff. Well, then you are talking about the biggest conspiracy in the history of mankind. It would include hundreds of millions of people over the last 150 years without one single person blowing the whistle. Of course, we can always hand wave this away by saying "Satan did it".

4) Why aren't there more Nazis in Scandinavia? One of the main theses of the movie "Expelled" was that Darwinism directly lead to the Germans killing millions of people. In fact, Ben Stein very clearly said in an interview that "Science leads you to killing people." And yet today the countries that have the highest percentage of people that accept evolution are the most peaceful. In the Scandinavian countries more than 75% accept the modern theory of evolution yet they aren't committing mass genocides. I wonder why this is.

5) Why do we patterns in the genetic sequence of all living things? Why is it that humans share more than 90% of our DNA with the other Great Apes? Why do we see the same exact pattern when it comes to endogenous retroviruses? I've always heard the excuse of "Same designer, same design" but that doesn't even make sense. Why would the same designer reuse the same bits in a specific pattern that makes it look like everything is related in a nested hierarchy? Why would he bother to put all of those retroviruses in in the first place? Is this another appeal to the Trickster God?

6) This one is specifically for Intelligent Design proponents: How can we gain knowledge of the Designer? What is the possibility for there being more than one Designer? And while we are at it, is there a possibility that the Designer isn't omnipotent, omniscient or benevolent? Could it have been aliens? At this point they will give away the game and reveal that Intelligent Design isn't really science, it's just rewarming the old natural theology arguments from the 1800s and using cooler jargon.

Ok, that is more than enough questions from me. If you want to see the master list of creationist claims and how to debunk all of them go over to Talk Origins. I'm pretty sure that they have over a thousand by now.

Selling Your Soul

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

Oh ho, those crazy East Europeans! According to an article in something called Mosnews (it's on the internets, so it's gotta be true!) a Latvian finance company is offering loans with a very interesting catch. You can use your immortal soul as collateral:
Riga-based firm, named Kontora, does not require credit history record or proof of employment. It grants loans of 50 to 500 Latvian lats ($100 to $1,000) to any adult after he or she signs the a very short agreement.

According to the agreement, the only security required of the borrower is their immortal soul, which they are asked to confirm as their previously unmortgaged property.
As the song goes, "If I sold my soul for a bag of gold to you, which one of us would be the foolish one?" Plus I'm sure you could default on the loan if you can convince the courts that you are morally bankrupt.

MC Hawking

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, June 27, 2009 | Published in

How about some straight-up nerdcore to get your weekend rockin'!!!

(Caution, NSFW languages bitches!)

OSS Simple Sabotage Manual

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, June 25, 2009 | Published in

It's been awhile since I've covered any Discordian literature so I thought I'd talk about an odd little book that wasn't technically written by a Discordian but should still be considered an important part of any Discordian's library. The book I am speaking of is unique among Discordian holy books in the fact that it was actually written by an arm of the US government.

The OSS (Office of Strategic Services) was the United States' main intelligence agency during World War II. After the war was over the agency was split between the Departments of State and War. Part of that eventually became the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Just last year the National Archives released all of the OSS's documents to the public. The names of 24,000 spies were revealed, including tv chef Julia Child, baseball player Moe Berg, and director John Ford.

Hidden among millions of pages of documents was a short book entitled "Simple Sabotage Field Manual". The purpose of it was to help dissenters on the other side of enemy lines to slowly take down the system from within. The book is a handy guide on how to commit corporate sabotage. It includes such epic passages as:
Where destruction is involved, the weapons of the citizen-saboteur are salt, nails, candles, pebbles, thread, or any other materials he might normally be expected to possess as a householder or as a worker in his particular occupation. His arsenal is the kitchen shelf, the trash pile, his own usual kit of tools and supplies. The targets of his sabotage are usually objects to which he has normal and inconspicuous access in everyday life.

It includes helpful tips on how to recruit other saboteurs and together chip away at the Machine until it topples over. It is a fairly short book and should be read by all Discordians.

And thanks to Scribd I can do stuff like this:

OSS Simple Sabotage Manual
(WARNING: Chaoskeptic advises you to not use any of the methods suggested in the OSS Simple Sabotage Manual. If you are caught doing anything illegal, Chaoskeptic will disavow all knowledge of said agent. The revolution has abandoned you - You're on your own now.)

EDIT: The original person who posted this on Scribd deleted their copy. Since this post has been getting a lot of hits via Google I have decided to take matters into my own hands and upload a copy onto Scribd. Sorry for any inconveniences.

Chemical Engineer Kit

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, June 22, 2009 | Published in

If I had known it was this easy I could have skipped all those years of college and saved myself thousands of dollars:

(Hat tip to Skepchick)

The Real Bible, Part 1: Moses

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Published in

Ok, we can all agree here that the Bible is mostly full of shit. It is iffy as a philosophy book, horrible as a history book and downright atrocious when it comes to science. So, I have decided to cut through all of the supernatural mumbo jumbo, hero worshiping, and myth creating nonsense. I am going to reinterpret the Bible in a more realistic fashion. No more miracles or personal edicts from God. Thomas Jefferson did it, why can't I?

Of course, I realize that this will rely heavily on the Law of Fives and if I have to ignore key facts in order to make the story fit better, then so be it! Thanks to the magic of postmodernism, I don't have to care about that nonsense.

So, without further ado, I bring you The Real Moses:

Picture this: Ancient Egypt, the dawn of history. There is a great and powerful Pharaoh on the throne. The people worship him like a god. He has many sons and daughters and many more grandchildren. One grandson in particular worries him though. The grandson is exceptionally cruel and has a tendency to kill slaves for little or no reason. The pharaoh finally gets fed up with his sadistic grandson and tosses him out of the palace to fend for himself.

He roams around northeastern Africa until he gains refuge in the Jewish community which is greatly oppressed (because that's what people always do to Jews). The Pharaoh's grandson meets up with a community leader named Aaron. Together they hatch up a plan to overthrow the Pharaoh. The grandson takes up the name Moses and claims that he is Aaron's long lost brother. They make up an intricate story about how Aaron's mother, Jochebed, had sent Moses down the Nile in a reed basket toward the pharaoh's palace to protect him. The Jews are willing to believe this since there was already a strong rumor that the pharaoh hated them and had secretly told their midwives to kill any Jewish male as soon as it was born. (Yes, blood libel has really been around that long.) They also say that their god, YHWH, had spoke to Moses in a vision as a burning bush and told him that they need to overthrow the pharaoh.

The Jews decided to go along with it because they are tired of being oppressed (and Moses just happens to be one charismatic son of a bitch). They form an army and head to the pharaoh's palace. Once they get there they find that the throne has been taken over by one of Moses's uncles. Moses demands to have the throne since it is his Divine Right. He uses the recent stretch of natural disasters (a flood on the Nile, large swarms of locusts and gnats, diseased livestock, hail storms, etc.) to show that the god(s) were not happy with the current pharaoh and that the throne belonged to Moses.

The pharaoh, of course, doesn't see things this way so there ends up being a huge battle between the Egyptian and Jewish armies. The Jewish army loses. Badly. They beat a hasty retreat across the Sea of Reeds where the pharaoh's men give up the chase.

Moses decides that the best course of action is to build up a kingdom elsewhere. The Jews become nomads who roam around the Arabian peninsula for decades. They fight numerous other wandering tribes along the way but almost always manage to come out ahead. At one point dissension starts to grow as people start to follow other religions. Moses and Aaron decide to write up a simple set of laws borrowed heavily from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and makes sure that rule #1 states that everyone must worship YHVH or else. Moses is an adequate but short-tempered ruler. People grow restless when supplies run low but he always manages to provide in the end.

Eventually Moses dies and Joshua fills the power vacuum. Joshua leads the Jews into a prolonged war with the Canaanites. But that's another story...

The Return of Captain Disillusion

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, June 19, 2009 | Published in

I was all ready to write a big post about the triumphant return of Captain Disillusion when I realized that I had never written about him in the first place. So, a little introduction: Captain Disillusion is a skeptical superhero from "somewhere out in space". He has been debunking Youtube videos since 2007. He seemed to disappear for the last 6 months but it looks like it was because of a particularly hard video to debunk. He had to call in the big guns to help him out:

By the way, the ending is a reference to The Amazing Meeting 7, the JREF's annual conference in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds and my complete inability to plan ahead, I cannot attend. But that's ok. I can't wait to hear all the stories and interviews that always end up coming out of it. Fun times.

Immortalizing the Archelon

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | | Published in

Discordianism needs more lolcats. I couldn't find any cute cats to add lols to so I found a turtle instead:

Yes, I am doing it wrong.

Skeptics Mix Tape

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Wednesday, June 17, 2009 | Published in

Dan Loxton, the editor of Junior Skeptics and the mastermind behind "What Do I Do Next?", just put together another really cool project. I present to you "The Skeptics Mix Tape 2009". It's a collection of 12 science and/or skepticism themed songs plus a trio of PSAs (one of them read by Bad Astronomer and president of JREF Phil Plaitt. There are a couple of artists I have mentioned here before, George Hrab and Hard 'n Phirm, plus famed geek rocker Jonathan Coulton and a whole bunch of interesting people I have never heard of.

My only gripe is that there is not an option to download the entire album at once. Anyways, I have a strong feeling that I'll be playing several of these on my next Indie/Output show on Radio Free Discordia *SHAMELESS PLUG*.

Discordian Hymnal #010

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Published in

Let us all rise and open our Discordian Hymnal to Page #010: "The Great Destroyer" by Nine Inch Nails.

Geologic Badass

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, June 12, 2009 | Published in

For roughly a year I have been attempting to avoid everything George Hrab related. Why, you may ask? Well, before that you make ask who the hell George Hrab is. George Hrab is a rocker/podcaster. He is the singer and drummer for the Philadelphia Funk Authority and does the weekly Geologic podcast. I've been avoiding him because I already subscribe to too many podcasts. Between The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, the Naked Scientists, Skeptoid, Declaring Independence, and the occasional Point of Inquiry or Coverville I'm listening to a minimum of 5 hours of podcasts per week. That may not seem like a lot but I'm a busy man with shit to do. I don't need someone else cutting into my time. And I knew that once I started listening to the Geologic podcast I wouldn't be able to stop.

So guess what happened last week... I finally gave in and listened to one of his shows. Already hooked. I knew from the SGU's interview of him from last year's TAM that he was a pretty funny guy who knew his skeptic stuff. I didn't realize that he was this much of a badass though. Always funny, sometimes poignant, great musician. I highly recommend the Geologic podcast to anyone. I would go back and listen to the entire series but, like I said, I don't have that much time in the first place.

For my Discordian friends, I suggest going to episode #65 (or skip to somewhere around the middle of #118.1) for the spoken word piece "Door Hinge". That piece alone should get him Discordian sainthood. I can't find the transcripts of it or a way to embed the thing here so either go find it or take my word for it.

Oh yeah, he also has a song called "Think for Yourself". If that doesn't make him a crypto-Discordian then nothing will.

The Ultimate Paradox of Discordianism

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Published in

If they ever form a Discordian State, I shall tear it down. - The Good Reverend Roger

The only thing that can kill Discordia is success. - Anonymous

This, my friend, is the ultimate paradox of Discordianism: Even if all of our dreams came true we still wouldn't be satisfied. We don't want to win. We don't actually want to take over the world. If we were offered the crown we would outright refuse it. We aren't the kings and we never want to be. We are the rat bastards behind the throne. We are the advisers that lead the emperor around by the nose while constantly trying to find ways of poisoning his sons. We are the jesters in the corner poking fun of the king right to his fucking face and getting away with it. We are the insane monk leading the flock to certain ruin.

No, if we were ever in charge we wouldn't know what to do with ourselves. That's why we choose to always be on the fringes. We are the subversives who are constantly throwing rocks at the Establishment. It doesn't even matter who the Establishment is, they were stupid enough and greedy enough to get into power. That alone means that they are corrupt down to the little black hearts. We know because we would do the exact same thing if we had that power. We don't know the crown because we know that it isn't worth it. It's much more effective to work the edges and hope for Total Chaos.

Or Kill Me.

Betty Bowers on Marriage

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Monday, June 8, 2009 | Published in

Landover Baptist Church is one of those rare sites that does a great job of proving Poe's Law correct over and over and over again. They have effectively been skewing evangelical Christianity for years. A little too effectively I suppose because every once in awhile you'll still find someone who thinks that their articles are real. They are like a cross between OneNewsNow and The Onion. No wait, that's World News Daily.

Well, now regular columnist for Landover Baptist Church and self-proclaimed America's Best Christian™ Betty Bowers has put together a little video for us explaining traditional Biblical marriage to the rest of us heathens:

Looks like I'm several hundred concubines behind.

St. Tater Salad

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Friday, June 5, 2009 | Published in

How about a little comedy to pick up your Friday? Here's a guy I consider a Discordian saint even though most others don't, Ron White. Sure he is a little too redneck but I'm roughly 75% redneck so he speaks to me. Here's a little bit of dating advice from his stand up special "You Can't Fix Stupid".

Skeptic's Circle 112

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Thursday, June 4, 2009 | Published in

Cheshire is having a Skeptic's Party over at his blog and guess who got an invite... Me, you dummy! I've been included in the 112th edition of the Skeptic's Circle. Specifically my recent post on ignosticism. I'm very honored and hope that it is the very of many Circles I can join in.

If you are a first time visitor than please have a look around. Don't get the carpets too dirty, don't knock over any lamps and the upstairs bathroom is off limits. If you have any specific questions about Discordianism (or irreligion in general) then consult your pineal gland feel free to ask away. Consider this an open thread. Welcome!

Invisible Lines

Posted by : Rev. Ouabache | Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | Published in

You know what your problem is? You believe in too many of these Invisible Lines. You seem to think that this area is somehow better than that area way over there because of the invisible lines someone once drew on a map. The only difference between inside the city limits and outside the city limits is the type of badge that the guy hauling you off to jail is wearing. No matter how hard you look you will not find a real line separating one state from the next. The only difference from one state to the next is what percentage of your money goes into who's coffers. There is no difference between the people in this place and the people in that place. We all bleed just the same.

Even worse though is the fact that you believe the Invisible Lines in your brand of Holy Book. You think that there is a bright and sharp line between Good and Evil. You think that there is a clear list of Thou Shalls and Thou Shall Nots. But let me tell you, bucko, those beliefs will not save you. Sure, you say that all killing is wrong but when a tweaker with a switchblade is rushing you like a Berserker you'll pull the trigger 99 times out of 100. (The other time you'll be too busy crapping yourself). You say that it is better for the one to sacrifice for the good of the many until it is your ass on the line. Everyone believes in situational ethics, it's just that some of us are most honest than others.

And another thing, you are too idealistic. Ideology is screaming at the world that the color gray doesn't exist. It's pretending that black is over here and white is over there with a nice neat Invisible Line right down the center. But there's a whole lot of in between spaces you are missing. There are grays and purples and blues and reds and greens that you completely miss if you let idealism pluck out your eyes. What I'm saying is: don't stop believing, just don't limit your options.