Exodus 12:20: "Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread."
Yeah, yeah.. I can already hear the protests. Jesus came to abolish the Law. No one followed the Laws in the first place. LOL, CONTEXT!!1! But if you want to treat Genesis like a history book or use Leviticus to discriminate against homosexuals then you have to follow all of it. Not my rules, yours. So there!
Arguing with a creationist is like playing Russian Roulette without bullets. It's pointless, & you eventually WANT to blow your brains out. - George Hrab
Ok, I really really didn't want to do this but it has been eating away at my brain since Friday so I guess I have no choice. Some of you may recall my post from almost exactly a month ago about Russ Pulliam's opinion column in the Indianapolis Star about evolution. I got some link love from both Exploring Our Matrix and Clever Badger over it. (Greetings if you are one of the people from there.)
On Friday Russ posted a follow-up piece in the Indy Star and I really want to do a rebuttal... but there is nothing to rebut. Now, I'm not saying that everything Russ wrote is correct, I'm saying that there is no substance to his column. But I guess I could point out a few of his mistakes because I've got time to kill and the scratching in my brain won't stop until I get it out of my system. For instance, he gets things very wrong in the first sentence:
I recently wrote an objection to the belief that Darwin's theory can be used an explanation for the origins of the universe.I'm glad you object to that Russ, because Darwin wasn't trying to explain the origins of the universe. If you had read even the title of his book you would notice that it was about the Origin of the Species. The theory of evolution explains the diversity of life on earth. Nothing more, nothing less. The origin of the universe would be in the astrophysics classroom down the hall to the left. Ask them to introduce you to Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble.
Furthermore, Mr. Pulliam writes:
Many of Darwin's followers have taken his theory as the ultimate road map for where humans came from millions of years ago. They occasionally wander out of the science building and over to the philosophy and theology departments. They suggest, for example, that romantic bonding comes from natural selection. It's an interesting theory, and natural selection may have a part in romantic attractions, but it's also speculative.First, saying Darwin's followers is just ridiculous. No one follows Darwin like a saint. Well, almost no one. He was a fallible man who had some very insightful ideas on biology. However, he knew absolutely nothing about DNA due to the time he lived in and couldn't have possibly known about such important concepts as genetic drift and horizontal gene transfer. No one takes his word as scripture. To imply so is just creationist dog-whistle language meant to make science look as dogmatic as religion.
Secondly, it appears that Russ wants us to limit scientific research to topics that make him feel comfortable. Why shouldn't science be able to research into topics like human sexuality and monogamy specifically? Why wouldn't natural selection (and sexual selection, obviously) play a huge part in the development of human bonding? If natural selection has nothing to do with it then why do we see similar sexual habits in our close biological relatives? And finally, does he have any other suggestions for how human sexuality came to be other than "God created them, male and female"?
He then goes onto mumble something about Dawkins. Yawn... I'll pick it back up just after he quotes another blogger:
Butler University religion professor James McGrath wants me to bone up on modern science. "Perhaps Pulliam's own ill-reasoned article is itself evidence that reason cannot be trusted, that we are too prone to self-deception. Yet even so, it can be argued that scientific methods do a better job of helping us avoid such self-deception and poor reasoning than anything else."McGrath is the man behind Exploring Our Matrix, btw. Smart fellow who, unlike Pulliam, understands that science isn't a thing or a person or an organization. Science is a verb. It is a process. Or more accurately, it is a toolbox of processes. Pure reason can be very helpful but it can also be very deceiving. That's why you test, re-test, and then re-test some more to be sure. Then you send your work out to someone else to test it again. Get rid of as much bias and unnecessary variables as possible along the way. Yes, this process isn't always perfect but it's the best toolbox we have at this time.
Pulliam's response to McGrath's letter:
Perhaps, but scientific methods don't help when it comes to questions about purpose in life and ethics.Well, duh! Science isn't about purpose or ethics. That would be the philosophy department, down the hall and to the right. Ask them to introduce you to Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. (Check out Søren Kierkegaard while you are at it. He's my personal favorite.) Anyways, Science isn't about explaining the why. Science is about explaining the how. Science is an attempt to map the natural world and the forces within it. Occasionally it will rear its head into the ethics classroom and yell "Hang on a minute" but only when the ethicists start straying away from reality too much.
I don't really have much to say about the rest of his column after that other than to say that I'm jealous that Clever Badger got a mention but that I didn't. I mean, c'mon! I made the exact same point that he grossly oversimplified evolution as amoebas changing into men. Would it have hurt you to slip my name in there? It would help your word count and my hit counter.
Also, it is good to admit that he isn't a Young Earth Creationist so at least he has half a brain. It would be nice in the future if he would just come out and say what his position on all of this is rather than just saying that science can't answer everything. Debating someone who refuses to state their position is like trying to eat jello with a fork. How can I hit you if you won't stand still, Russ???
Hopefully this will be my last post about Russ Pulliam. I don't want to turn this into a series.
Back way way long ago there was a man named James Ussher who was the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate* of All Ireland. Very important man with lots of time on his hand. So much time that he figured he'd put it to good use by counting back all of the begats in the Bible to see exactly how old the earth is. After much calculation and triangulation he came up with an exact date: Sunday October 23, 4004 BC. Nightfall, to be exact. That means that today (presumably at sunset in Israel) the earth will be exactly 6012 years old. Happy birthday, earth! You've come a long way, baby! However, I must say that you are looking awfully old for your age what with all the wrinkles, stretch marks, and radioactivity. You really need to learn to take care of yourself better.
And now for a short rebuttal:
* - Yes, it is ironic that one of the icons of Young Earth Creationism openly called himself a primate.
In a dramatic announcement at the National Press Club today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reversed its position on climate change policy, and promised to immediately cease lobbying against the Kerry-Boxer bill.
Within minutes of the Chamber's dramatic announcement, it was revealed that the "Chamber spokesperson" was an impostor, and the press conference an elaborate hoax designed by activists to draw attention to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "troglodytic" fight against climate change legislation. At the close of the news conference, a visibly rattled Chamber of Commerce spokesperson (Eric Wohlschlegel) barged into the room and declared the event a fraud.
Of course this was all caught on video:
Plus coverage by the Rachel Maddow show:
I was sorta disappointed by this one because there was no humorous angle to it other than having competing spokesmen trying to address the confused press at the exact same time. (I'm sure there was a better/funnier plan in place before the real spokesman showed up.) However, if it makes the US Chamber of Commerce readdress their stance on climate change then I'm all for it. Climate change is a settled scientific fact at this point. The only thing debatable at this point is how much is going to change, how fast, and what humans can do to slow it down. It's understandable the USCC wants to protect their business from over-regulation but there will be no business if we don't have a planet.
On that subject, here is a very handy link on How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.
And did you see what they did to Lenny Bruce? All the man ever wanted to do was get up on stage in dark smoky nightclubs and tell dirty jokes. But They said that it was "indecent". They made the mistake of thinking that words can harm others. They wanted to protect the audience from the artist. They wanted to decide what people could and could not say in public. They didn't like what Lenny had to say so they hounded him around the world. They threw him in jail for "just words" and threw the book at anyone who dared to let him talk. The coroner's report says that old Lenny died of a morphine overdose but everyone knows that They were the ones that really killed him. They broke his heart and his spirit by taking his words away from him.
Thank the gods They know what's best for us.
A Baptist Church near Asheville, N.C., is hosting a "Halloween book burning" to purge the area of "Satan's" works, which include all non-King James versions of the Bible, popular books by many religious authors and even country music.
The website for the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, N.C., says there are "scriptural bases" for the book burning. The site quotes Acts 19:18-20: "And many that believed, came and confessed and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts, brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed."
Church leaders deem Good News for Modern Man, the Evidence Bible, the New International Version Bible, the Green Bible and the Message Bible, as well as at least seven other versions of the Bible as "Satan's Bibles," according to the website... "I believe the King James version is God's preserved, inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God," Pastor Marc Grizzard told a local news station of his 14-member parish.
Yes, you read that correctly. A Christian church is going to burn Bibles because the Bibles (which they are about to burn up) told them to. It's like Irony has turned itself into a snake and is currently trying to swallow its own tail. To show that they don't just hate the translation work of other Christians they gave us a handy list of other books they plan on burning:
We will also be burning Satan's popular books written by heretics like Westcott & Hort , Bruce Metzger, Billy Graham , Rick Warren , Bill Hybels , John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll , John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham , Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn , Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa , The Pope , Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, etc.I'll admit that I don't know half of those names but I can understand why a couple of those are on the list. Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, Rick Warren and TD Jakes have always been considered by fundies to be too liberal and squishy when it comes to theology. The Pope and Mother Teresa are obviously on there because Baptists have long hated all things Catholics. Some even go so far as to deny having a "common ancestor" as it were. Swagart and Hinn are there for being outright con men. The ones I don't understand being on there are Dobson, Colson and Tim Lahaye. They are about as far right theological speaking as you can get in the United States. At this point the only Christian authors left for them to read are John Haggee, John Calvin, Tertullian, and Genghis Khan.
To round everything out they will also be tossinga couple of old LPs and Satanic CDs onto the fire:
We will also be burning Satan's music such as country , rap , rock , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel , contempory [sic] Christian , jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc.So presumably this means that Stephen Curtis Chapman, Carmen and DC Talk will join the usual suspects of AC/DC and Judas Priest in the flames. (Yes, all of my references to contemporary Christian music are from 15 years ago.) And you know you are dealing with the fringe of the fringe when a Baptist church in the South hates Southern Gospel music. It makes me wonder what kind of music they use in their services.
As always, Poe's Law is in effect here. This whole thing might be an elaborate hoax to make Christians look goofy. The point of Poe's Law is that there is no way to tell without an overt sign of humor. This is more than likely just a dozen people in a strange fundamentalist cult who feel like they are fighting the brave fight against modernity. I'm going to pull a Glenn Beck for now and just say that my sources have not been able to disprove anything yet.
(Hat tip to both Skepchick and Friendly Atheist)
There once was a huge boulder, perched precariously, on the edge of a cliff. For hundreds of years this boulder was there, rocking and swaying, but always keeping its balance just perfectly. But one year, there happened to be a severe windstorm; severe enough it was, to topple the boulder from its majestic height and dash it to the bottom cf the cliff, far far below. Needless to say, the boulder was smashed into many pieces. Where it hit, the ground was covered with a carpet of pebbles--some small and some large--but pebbles and pebbles and more pebbles for as far as you could walk in an hour.
One day, after all this, a young man by the name of Ichabod happened on the area. Being a fellow of keen mind and observational powers, naturally he was quite astounded to see so many stones scattered so closely on the ground. Now Ichabod was very much interested in the nature of things, and he spent the whole afternoon looking at pebbles, and measuring the size of pebbles, and feeling the weight of pebbles, and just pondering about pebbles in general.
He spent the night there, not wanting to lose this miraculous find, and awoke the next morning full of enthusiasm. He spent many days on his carpet of stones.
Eventually he noticed a very strange thing. There were three rather large stones on the carpet and they formed a triangle--almost (but not quite) equilateral. He was amazed. Looking further he found four very white stones that were arranged in a lopsided square. Then he saw that by disregarding one white stone and thinking of that grey stone a foot over instead, it was a perfect square! And if you chose this stone, and that stone, and that one, and that one and that one you have a pentagon as large as the triangle. And here a small hexagon. And there a square partially inside of the hexagon. And a decagon. And two triangles inter-locked. And a circle. And a smaller circle within the circle. And a triangle within that which has a red stone, a grey stone and a white stone.
Ichabod spent many hours finding many designs that became more and more complicated as his powers of observation grew with practice. Then he began to log his designs in a large leather book; and as he counted designs and described them, the pages began to fill as the sun continued to return.
He had begun his second ledger when a friend came by. His friend was a poet and also interested in the nature of things.
"My friend," cried Ichabod, "come quickly! I have discovered the most wondrous thing in the universe." The poet hurried over to him, quite anxious to see what it was.
Ichabod showed him the carpet of stones...but the poet only laughed and said "It's nothing but scattered rocks!"
"But look," said Ichabod, 'see this triangle and that [square] and that and that." And he proceeded to show his friend the harvest of his many days study. When the poet saw the designs he turned to the ledgers and by the time he was finished with these, he too was overwhelmed.
He began to write poetry about the marvelous designs. And as he wrote and contemplated he became sure that the designs must mean something. Such order and beauty is too monumental to be senseless. And the designs were there, Ichabod had showed him [that.]
The poet went back to the village and read his new poetry. And all who heard him went to the cliff to see first hand the [carpet] of designs. And all returned to the village to spread the word. Then as the enthusiasm grew there developed a group of those who love beauty and nature, all of whom went to live right at the Designs themselves. Together they wanted to see every design that was there.
Some wrote ledger about just triangles. Others described the circles. Others concentrated on red colored stones--and they happened to be the first to see designs springing from outside the carpet. They, and some others, saw designs everywhere they went.
"How blind we have been," they said.
The movement grew and grew and grew. And all who could see the designs knew that they had to have been put there by a Great Force. "Nothing but a Great Force," said the philosophers, "could create this immense beauty!"
"Yes," said the world, "nothing but a god could create such magnificent order. Nothing but a God."
And that was the day that God was born. And ever since then, all men have known Him for His infinite power and all men have loved Him for His infinite wisdom.
Excerpted from a treatise concerning The Nature of Gods and The Eristesque Movement, to be found in the SUMMA UNIVERSALIA, the Holy Work of MALACLYPSE (THE YOUNGER), K.C., Omniscient Polyfather of Virginity-in-gold, and High Priest of The Heretic Fringe and Protestant Persuasion of the ERISIAN MOVEMENT of the DISCORDIAN SOCIETY ----- Hail Eris
Official Discordian Document #TD 1-1.2.2-4:11:64
(Hat tip to Rev. Loveshade and WikiSource for helping to keep this intact)
Or you could be like me and get yourself ordained online. That's right, there are several organizations out there that are willing to declare you a fully ordained minister if you are willing to fill out the proper forms. I went with the Universal Life Church Monastery because who doesn't like the word "monastery"? They will ordain you for free over the internet in exchange for your legal name, e-mail, and address. (Don't worry, they do not spam you unless you ask nicely).
If you would like to make the process feel more complete you can head over to their online store to buy yourself a Bestowal of Title Certificate with your name and any religious title of your choice (including Pope!) You could be like me and get the sleek looking wallet credential card. Or, if you are feeling especially smart, you can have your own Doctor of Divinity or Doctor of Metaphysics certificates. Sure, this may cheapen those doctorates but it's not like anyone gave them much respect in the first place.
What is the point of all this, you may ask? Well, as the website says you are now free to "perform a wedding, baptism or funeral for friends and family, regardless of your spiritual or religious denomination". Of course, the wedding laws vary from state to state so make sure you do your research before hitching people together in holy matrimony. You may have to register with the county clerk before you are allowed to sign any marriage certificates. Baptisms and funerals are always fair game and are only limited by the beliefs of those being baptized and funeralized.
As an added bonus, as a ULC Minister you have the legal authority to ordain new ministers into the ministry. So make sure to deputize all of your friends and family. Feel free to ordain your pets too. (I don't think that would have any legal backing though.)
Big Thanks to Agent Pariah for the awesome formatting job here.
(It's probably best to skip ahead to the 3:30 mark so you don't have to listen to the extremely out dated monologue. Also notice all of the 90's era Comedy Central ads in the middle. I keep forgetting how much voiceover work that Penn Jillette did for them.)
By the way, Maher is scheduled to receive the Richard Dawkins Award from the Atheist Alliance International this weekend. Personally, I agree with Orac and PZ Myers that Maher doesn't deserve the award since he doesn't live up to the pro-science criteria. I appreciate Maher for his comedy and his politics but his anti-vaccine and germ theory denialism are very odd. Here's hoping that he answers some of the hard questions this weekend.