Archive for July, 2008

Piss Off The Catholics Month

EDIT: Apparently my tactics are considered a bit extreme. I do not want people ransacking the homes of Catholics. I want them to mock them for their beliefs. Religion is not immune to criticism. It never has been, never should be, and if we can pull this off, never will be. Keep this is mind when reading the post.

The Inquisition has recently targeted one of our own, PZ Myers, so it’s time to retaliate with excessive force. I intend to desecrate as many Jesus-bits as I can over the next month. I think I’ll make it into a game.

Why am I doing this? Good question. Primarily because it’s really, really fun, and because we’re showing that we will not be intimidated into respecting idiotic beliefs. Fuck transubstantiation, it’s a piece of crappy pseudo-bread that tastes like cardboard.

For anyone who wants to participate in Piss Off The Catholics Month, there are plenty of guides which will tell you how to take communion. Consider the church service you sit through to get a Jesus-bit a learning experience. If you’re lucky, they might have some pretty music.

The key is to get the Priest to place the Eucharist into your hand, and somehow make it look as though you placed it onto your tongue and let it dissolve, when you’ve really kidnapped the Jesus-bit. If you don’t make it look like you ate it, I assume no liability for your funeral expenses.

I mentioned that I’d make this a game, so here are the rules:

Piss Off The Catholics Game

For the month of July, do as much as you can to piss off the Catholics. The more points you get by the end of the month, the more you win. You don’t actually win anything, but it at least makes it fun. Compete with your friends. Brag to your enemies. Eat chocolate. The rules are included in parentheses beside the point values.

The following actions earn you the specified numbers of points:

1 Point – Sit Through a Minute of a Catholic Church Service (One point per minute. A two hour Sunday service gets you 120 points, plus more if you can kidnap a bit of Jesus)

10 Points – Wear Anti-religious Clothing (The clothing must be visible and worn in public for a minimum of three hours.)

10 Points – Sinful Sexual Activity (Participate in a sinful sexual act such as masturbation or premarital sex. Another 10 Points if it’s gay.)

15 Points – Anger a Catholic through the Internet (They must make obviously angry remarks through some Internet medium relating to your Piss Off The Catholics actions)

15 Points – Get Someone to Participate in Piss Off The Catholics Month (The person must play the Piss Off The Catholics Game and score at least 100 points of their own. They may only be counted once, so make sure others don’t recruit them.)

20 Points – Be Mistaken for a Satanist (Self explanatory. If a catholic is under the impression that Atheists are devil worshipers, 20 points. Each catholic only redeemable once.)

20 Points – Break One of The Ten Commandments (Please don’t kill anybody, obviously. Lusting, worshipping false idols, etc. gets you the points. Kidnapping Jesus-bits doesn’t count since that’s already counted. Only one broken commandment per day.)

25 Points – Anger a Catholic in Real Life (They must make angry remarks related to your Pissing Off the Catholics actions in real life. Yelling makes it an automatic Anger a Catholic score.)

25 Points – Receive Hate Mail (25 points for every piece of hate mail you receive. This must be through e-mail or the archaic and mythical “paper mail”.)

50 Points – Link to This Post or Post About Piss Off The Catholics Month on Your Website (May be redeemed once per website per Piss Off The Catholics Month)

50 Points – Kidnap a Eucharist (you must obtain the Jesus-bit at a Catholic Church and get it back to your home intact. After that, you have successfully kidnapped Jesus and can do what you want with it. Remember that it is only the “actual body of Jesus” for the time between when the Priest gives it to you, and you eat it. The key is to not eat it.)

50 Points – Confess To Heinous Sins or Be “Disrespectful” at a Confessional (Confess to obscene and incredibly sinful activity at Confession or disrupt by talking on a cell phone, etc. in the booth)

50 Points – Submit Your Score (At the end of the month, submit your actions and score to pissoffthecatholicsgame@gmail.com)

100 Points – Obtain some Holy Water and Use For Daily Tasks (Drink it, water your plants with it, etc.)

100 Points – Desecrate the Eucharist (do something demeaning to the Jesus-bit)

250 Points – Read Atheist Literature (This includes books such as The God Delusion, god is not Great, etc. Books read previously do not count. 30 points per book. Must read entire book.)

250 Points – Debate a Catholic and Win (You must win a debate with a Catholic which would fill a minimum of two pages of text were you to transcribe it into a word processor. IM conversations should be four pages due to the formatting involved in copy pasting them into a word processor. You may consider yourself victorious if they concede, resort to declaring logic invalid, saying you “need to have faith” and presenting no evidence when pressed, or repeat already discredited points more than twice.)

500 Points – Receive Death Threat (500 points for every piece of hate mail containing phrases such as “I will kill you…” or “These people will kill you if…”. If they appeal to the Muslims being willing to kill you if you were to do a similar thing to their religion, it doesn’t count as a death threat.)

1 000 Points – Convince a Catholic Fence-sitter to Give Up Their Religion (A conversion to Atheism or Agnosticism is acceptable. Unitarian, Deist, Pantheist, etc. all count as well. As long as it isn’t Catholicism, you get the points.)

Try to get as many people to play as you can. If I get enough valid responses, I’ll recognize the winners in a post at the end of the month. Remember, scores, suggestions, and anything else related to the game should be sent to pissoffthecatholicsgame@gmail.com. Merry POTCM, and happy Christaunting!

Bunnies.

Ignunt Fool of the Week

This is a toast which I wrote for Teen Skepchick on questioning people and investigating things for yourself. I also decided that it would make a good Ignunt Fool of the Week.

I have definitive proof that unicorns exist. I’ve heard testimonies from various reputable people who have seen unicorns with their very eyes. There are documents with code names and code numbers of secret government projects involving the investigation of unicorns. I have papers from a bunch of zoologists about resonance biological quantum fields which allow unicorns to have inter-dimensional phase matrices.

If I just said unicorns exist, it would be a good starting point to say “prove it,” but now that I’ve said that I have proof are you just going to be content with that? Or are you going to question me further?

Two nights ago, I went to see a man named Dr. Greer (an actual medical doctor) give a talk on the Metropolitan State College of Denver campus. He wasn’t talking about his specific field, medicine. Instead he was talking about how he had definitive proof that extraterrestrials have been visiting us and that they’ve given us the capability to have sustainable energy.

He wants to get a ballot initiative passed in Denver that will create an “Extraterrestrial Affairs Comission” and get the government to disclose all this information they’ve been keeping secret.

The talk began with a man saying “there are a lot of people out there who want to keep this information secret, so if you read anything out there that is completely negative of what Dr. Greer is saying, obviously they’re part of it.” Since this post isn’t going to be particularly fond of what he’s trying to do, I guess most of the people who heard that are just going to start going on about how I am working for the government without caring for my reasons why I don’t think he has much substance behind what he’s saying.

Most of what he talked about on that stage with a few hundred people packed in the lecture hall was the conversations he had had with people in government who had seen UFOs or who had told him that Eisenhower was hiding information locked away in a little black box which could bring about sustainable energy and world peace.

Besides people diverting their resources which could be spent doing actual science to find sustainable energy, he wouldn’t ordinarily cause harm… except… he wants us to spend tax payer money on his quest to find sustainable energy and our government to support him.

Okay, so the government does stupid things without good reasons, but we ought to do things for good reasons. Since whether or not he’s correct affects the way taxes get spent should we take these words at face value? Or should we ask him for evidence?

We could just absorb all that he’s saying, or we could wonder if there really is any possibility behind his affirmation that we already know how to do things like extract zero point energy and the government just isn’t telling us. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Perhaps we could look on his website to see if he has papers from peer-reviewed scientific journals.

And look! Under “research” there are links to some papers, but do they have any substance in them? Should these links cause us to throw all our support behind him?

Most of the papers are just put up on the website without any reference to having been published in the journal Nature or another reputable journal, but let’s take a look at them anyway.

One of them is by a man named Stanley A. Meyer. The paper doesn’t get off to too great a start with him saying (emphasis added, grammar unedited):

The Law of Change

A law of Physics establishes a proven function based on “Preset” conditions…

Change anyone of the conditions and the law no longer applies…

A “new” law emerges in the consciousness of Physics

Why? … Atoms possess intelligence

Pseudoscience has a talent for abusing scientific terms that people are unfamiliar with to appear as if they know what they’re talking about. If it appears nonsensical, then there’s a reasonable chance that it’s because it is nonsense. I’ve had quite a bit of physics in school and I’ve read quite a bit about it and it appears to me that’s he’s just throwing out jargon so that he sounds scientific even though he hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about.

Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert in physics but, in another paper

Another theoretical breakthrough by Puthoff is the derivation of Newton’s Law (F=ma) from ZPE electrodynamics. It appears to be related to the known distortion of the zero point spectrum in an accelerated reference frame. We therefore have an understanding as to why force and acceleration should be related, or even for that matter, what is mass. Puthoff explains that the resistance to acceleration defines the inertia of matter and it appears to be an electromagnetic resistance. To summarize: the inertia effect is a distortion at high frequencies whereas, the gravity effect has been shown to be low frequency effect, according to the Puthoff theory.

Three things:

  1. How the hell did he get from Newton’s second law of motion to talking about inertia?
  2. The parts of Puthoff’s Wikipedia entry which contain citations (we should be skeptical of the parts which don’t have citations since anybody can add or change Wikipedia) says that he was involved with the church of Scientology in the 70’s and was convinced that Uri Geller had psychic powers (here’s a 9 minute video with James Randi on why he almost certainly is not psychic). Already he doesn’t seem to have much credibility.
  3. I showed this to two engineers I found in an office at the Metropolitan State College of Denver who spent several minutes rereading it before telling me that it didn’t make any sense to them as respectable scientists.

Two more things:

  1. This time I asked people smarter than me to verify that this was indeed gobledy-gook. However, just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t actually  have any idea what they’re talking about.
  2. The argument from authority can be a logical fallacy. Just because somebody is a fancy-pants scientist doesn’t mean that they’re not wrong. Ultimately it’s the evidence they use to back up what they’re saying that has weight on what is true. But it seems that he’s not saying anything.

Most of the papers are like this. Non peer-reviewed gobledy-gook which, if it were true, would be revolutionary enough that they could probably get published easily and win nobel prizes.

The lesson here, don’t take the words of people for granted. Investigate for yourself. Ask other people where your knowledge ends. Use logic. Most importantly…

Demand evidence.

I Have Writer’s Block

I’ve had pretty bad writer’s block for a few days now. It feels like my brain is simply… dry. That, and I keep getting very distracted by people wanting to talk to me.

So I figure that the best way to get rid of my writer’s block is to write about how I have writer’s block. Actually,  I don’t think that’s going to help at all.

I’m trying to write critical thinking 101 type stuff for Teen Skepchick but if I detail critical thinking as much as I’d like to it would make an exceptionally long post so I’ve been trying to break it down into basic stuff (questioning things, demanding evidence, fallacies, good and bad reasons) but they keep overlaping onto each other and I’m trying not to make it all intimidatingly too long to read.

It’s really not working.

And now I don’t know what to say.

I still don’t know what to say.

Space is big.

Maybe it would go away if I started typing in another language.

Hola. Me llamo es Elles. Me gusta ciencias.

I’m thinking of going to do some math problems but I don’t think my brain can do math if it can’t write. Oh, this inability to think about explaining critical thinking is going to drive me mad. Then I can be a mad scientist!

You know, I’d like for there to be fewer mad scientists in science fiction. I wish for once, just once…

I still feel all dry. I’mma go get some sleep methinks.

Fuck Cen***ship

I don’t like censorship. I don’t like asterisks, bleeps, black bars over “naughty areas,” or fluffing dubbing. According to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (courtesy of Elles), since my copy of the Oxford Not-Completely-Unabridged-But-Still-Huge English Dictionary is at home,

cen·sor

-noun
1.    an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.
2.    any person who supervises the manners or morality of others.
3.    an adverse critic; faultfinder.
4.    (in the ancient Roman republic) either of two officials who kept the register or census of the citizens, awarded public contracts, and supervised manners and morals.
5.    (in early Freudian dream theory) the force that represses ideas, impulses, and feelings, and prevents them from entering consciousness in their original, undisguised forms.
–verb (used with object)
6.    to examine and act upon as a censor.
7.    to delete (a word or passage of text) in one’s capacity as a censor.

censor, v.

trans. To act as censor to; see CENSOR n. 2b; spec. with reference to the control of news and the departmental supervision of naval and military private correspondence (as in time of war) or to the censorship of dramatic or cinematographic productions. Often in ppl. a.

censor, n.

2b. spec. An official in some countries whose duty it is to inspect all books, journals, dramatic pieces, etc., before publication, to secure that they shall contain nothing immoral, heretical, or offensive to the government. More explicitly dramatic censor, film censor.

Censorship is the act of altering media “for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.” Save for censorship of important military or legal information, none of the above are justifiable.

Most of what we see as obscene today is the result of the rotting remains of puritanism clogging our collective common sense-nostrils. Material containing or suggestive of swear words, nudity, violence, or drugs are all considered obscene in most cultures, except in America where the list excludes violence.

I’ll address why censorship of all of these is stupid and pointless in turn, starting with profanity. I’d list all the words we’re not supposed to say, but I prefer to make my word counts variations of the devil’s number naturally.

A proper answer as to why exactly these words are “bad” is very difficult to find. “They just are, respect mah authoritau” seems to be the most common response. Let’s take a look at what could make these words bad.

Could it be sound? No, if it were sound, fuck and duck would be just as profane. This is certainly not the case – “fuck” gets shocked looks in some circles, while “duck” makes people reach for the nearest slice of bread. “Aren’t they cute?”

It’s not meaning either. If it were, saying “to doom to eternal punishment or condemn to hell” would be just as bad as “damn”. Since one can presumably read the bible on television, this isn’t it.

All that’s left is “that particular combination of letters and the sounds they make are intrinsically bad because we say so.” Given the permeation of religious hangups and stupidity in the world, it seems likely that this person who says so is Jesus.

The last time I checked, zombies were not allowed to dictate morality (I’m pro-life when it comes to brain eating.) Non-existent zombies are even more un-allowed (non-existent since the bible lacks truthiness). There is no good reason to censor profanity. You can’t keep kids from learning “bad words”, they don’t harm people, and they can help one to make their damn point if used correctly (see what I did there?).

Next up, nudity. Puritanism strikes again. It smells a lot like burnt almonds. Actually, I don’t know what burnt almonds smell like, but I’m sure they smell like puritanism. Regardless of the smell of burnt almonds, we have another case of things being “wrong” because a bunch of upper class Victorians were told by Jesus that it’s “just wrong”. Nice reasoning there, eighteenth century British culture.

By stigmatising the human body, we manage to destroy the body images of anyone’s Hollywood hasn’t destroyed yet. People can do with a lot less confidence in their mental faculties, and a lot more in their bodies (excluding situations involving trailers, the southern United States, and people who could do with a lot less confidence in both areas). All the non-rednecks, however, certainly shouldn’t feel that there are parts of them that are approximately as evil as Mordor. To anyone who will never be able to see The Lord of the Rings the same way again, I apologise.

Still, a person should be able to be comfortable with a figure somewhere in between “anorexic” and “morbidly obese”, and a complexion slightly less perfect than you’d expect from a skin cream advertisement.

The Black Bars of censorship fail to do what they are intended to do. People know what breasts, penii, and vulvae look like (I admit that this sentence is almost entirely a perhaps excessively nerdy exercise in pluralization), and covering them with magical black bars or pixelating them certainly doesn’t decrease people’s desires to see what’s underneath. Christians, who are mostly responsible for this, of all people, should know what forbidden fruit tends to do.

Now for humanity’s favourite pastime: violence! Violence in media, be it games, television, movies, or “other” is a convenient scapegoat often used to explain actual violence. The problem is that, as most people should be aware, correlation does not equal causation. If violence in media is grounds for banning it because violent people often enjoy it, we should probably ban socks. I’m sure most school shooters were wearing socks at the time of their killing sprees.

A better explanation is that violent people like violent media because it’s a convenient outlet for their tendencies. It’s far better to kill simulated people than it is real people. The skills someone might gain through playing violent games or watching violent films or movies is almost completely inapplicable to real life. The skills needed to play a First Person Shooter game and actually shoot people are completely different. Being good at aiming with a mouse does not make one a sniper in real life.

Next up, drugs. Without getting into why the war on drugs is stupid, I’ll say that the war on information about drugs is really stupid. Yet again, we turn drugs into forbidden fruit by saying nothing about them and making actual information about them rather hard to find. There are substances that people put into their bodies to make them live longer. There are substances people put into their bodies to numb pain. There are also substances people put into their bodies to make songs sung by the Beatles make sense, and make themselves feel really good.

We should feel just as obligated to tell people the effects of tetrahydrocannabidol as we do to tell them of the effects of excessive acetaminophen on their livers. For the less chemically inclined, those are the active ingredient in marijuana and Tylenol, respectively.

All the things I’ve described above exist. Covering them up doesn’t help, and in fact does the opposite. Covering things up because we don’t like them is childish and stupid. Let the ideas roam free(ly).

Bunnies.

Nazi Darwinism

The mini-debate on biochemistry that’s been going on in the comments of one of my older toasts just keeps reminding me of Expelled. So, I’m just going to post a few random videos.

And now a random picture.

Prudishness and Viagra

How can an article about Viagra be so prude?

Not that I had much respect for the Daily Mail in the first place, but I definitely don’t have any respect for this writer now.

The article is about how “Viagra has turned old men into a generation of delinquent nymphomaniacs.” She cites two numerous anecdotes to back up her thesis about how old men are more flirtatious because of Viagra. Some of my favourite ignunt lines (emphasis added to some).

Since its launch in 1998, Viagra has largely escaped criticism. However, a report compiled by researchers in the West Midlands announced yesterday that Viagra was responsible for a rise in promiscuous behaviour amongst Britain’s over-50s.

Apparently you can do a respectable research study in which you are able to measure promiscuous behaviour. How the hell do you do that anyway? Sit around on a beach a keep a tally of old men wearing Speedos? It is times like these when I become nostalgic for the “Works Cited” pages of academic papers. That way you can verify that the person isn’t just being stupid.

Such men are a disgrace to dignity. Elderly men, whom biology dictates should spend their twilight years occupying an easy chair, pipe in mouth, are now leaping from their Zimmer frames like wild animals from a cage. Viagra has turned them into wolves in sheeps’ clothing.

Is she really suggesting that men are genetically predisposed to sitting in easy chairs and smoking pipes once their telomeres reach the shorter ends? Has anybody ever seriously opened up a biology textbook and read that elderly men should spend their twilight years smoking pipes and sitting in easy chairs? This is why we need more remedial science classes.

Please women? Are these relics, who should be in pickle jars, under the illusion that women find them attractive?

Sorry, old boys, we don’t. Nor do we consider your behaviour morally acceptable.

So most of my friends probably wouldn’t be attracted to older men, but so what if they do? After all, longevity might indicate a lack of lethal genes which you wouldn’t want your off spring to have. Everybody has their own sexual preferences. If young attractive women are into that sort of thing (obviously there must be some if the old men are that confident) who’s to say they shouldn’t be?

And how the HELL is it immoral? If the woman consents and they go have a fun sexy time, what harm is being done? Only a prude would be offended by what men do with women if they’re thirty, twenty, forty, fifty decades apart.

So ladies, rise with me in revolt! End this now before the streets are no longer safe from Zimmer frame lotharios.

Put your foot down before your husband scampers off after a 24-year-old Russian model. Join me in protesting at the monstrous notion that our octogenarians should be emulating Errol Flynn.

Courage, my braves! Save your relationships by going through your partner’s personal effects every day. Viagra tablets in the bottom of his underwear drawer? Throw them out now!

And, my advice to my single sisters: if an elderly man on crutches asks you out for dinner, be sure to take a knuckleduster and a can of pepper spray.

Add paranoia to prudishness.

How can this article exist without people’s brains imploding with dumbness and the space-time continuum collapsing?

Blog Toasts

My co-author and I have decided that from now on we will not refer to our “blog posts” and “posts.” Rather, we shall henceforth refer to them as “blog toasts,” only speaking of “blog posts” to clarify what a blog toast is when somebody requests clarification, wherefore we shall clarify.

Toast.

toast

Make it so.

tea, earl grey, bunnies.

Ignunt Fool of the Week

Okay, so I decided not to be lazy after all since I had someone else do this for me. Thank you to Chalmer from the MSCD Atheists group for responding to a commenter on one of my earlier posts.

Here is her comment:

I was certainly never “brainwashed” by “Expelled”. A friend of mine was denied his Ph.D. because it bacame known in his department that he questioned the evolutionary paradigm. I have seen others in the science departments I was in ridiculed if they expressed any doubt of neo-Darwinism. The message was clear. Toe the party line or have your career destroyed. There was no room for questioning.

The point on self-repicating molecules ignores the point that the molecules required for the first cell to exist are enormous, extremely complex and highly ordered. Having a single amino acid in the wrong place in a protein, for instance, can kill the entire cell. The proteins, DNA, RNA, and other molecules must be in a precise order and these molecules are hundreds or even thousands of base pairs (DNA and RNA) or amino acids (proteins) long. In addition the proteins all are made of L- amino acids in a world where amino acids are 50% L- and 50% D- amino acids. How did they all become composed of a single isomer? Again, it is statistically impossible. Impossibility, in statistics, is defined as any event which would occur in less that 1 time in 10 to the 50th power events. (This is a one followed by 50 zeros.)

As I pointed out in my original letter, all these molecules have to come together in the same place at the same time. They also have to be in a particular order, and have the correct isomers. Then they must not be destroyed or changed in any way before they could be surrounded by the lipo-protein envelope. They all have to be just perfect. If you know anythng about biochemistry and cell biology, you know that this is just not going to happen.

I could go on, but I started doubting Darwinism over 30 years ago, and the more study I did in biochemistry, genetics and cell biology, the more I could see that I had been misled for many years. My doubts solidified over many years, until I fianlly realized that the “wizard” (scientists) was really just a man behind a curtain after all, pretending to be all knowing, all seeing, all powerful. Guess what, scientists are just people, they make mistakes, and are too stubborn to admit it just like everyone else. What are they so afraid of that they will not allow open discussion?

I think they protest too much.

And now I hand off the reigns to Chalmer.

“The point on self-repicating molecules ignores the point that the molecules required for the first cell to exist are enormous, extremely complex and highly ordered”

The number of molecules required for the first cell is unknown!  We know that a single cell has certain requirements in order to survive, and these requirements are indeed vast.  However, this is due to a common mechanism in nature whereby different biological agents interact in a voluntary symbiotic way.  Because of the interaction, the agents will begin to specialize.  Those functions compensated for by the other agent will degrade an disappear.  Eventually, the relationship becomes obligate becuase each agent only retained what was being actively used.  This relationship applies to indavidual biomolecules, cells, and organisms.  This is why a single cell has such vast requirements.  All of its molecular components have slowly evolved an interdependency.  For the same reason, you can’t take the liver or brain out of a human being.  However, as an embryo we do, albeit temporarily, survive without a liver or brain.  The cell is a giant clump symbiotic relationships, whose self-sufficiency was dropped as dead weight a long time ago.

“Having a single amino acid in the wrong place in a protein, for instance, can kill the entire cell.”

The operative word here is can.  That doesn’t mean that it will.  Every single gene can be found in a variety of forms within any species.  Whether of not a mutations is deadly also depends on which system it affects.  Some systems or completely necessary and resist change, while others are more of a biological luxury.

“The proteins, DNA, RNA, and other molecules must be in a precise order and these molecules are hundreds or even thousands of base pairs (DNA and RNA) or amino acids (proteins) long.”

The don’t always need to be in a precise order, and often are not in a precise order.  And the length is erroneous becuase creating linear polymers is anything but impressive.  Besides, as I said earlier, most of the obligate precisions or predicted by evolutionary thought, not contradicted by it.  Or objections seem to stem from a single misunderstanding, the dependency can not evolve from independence.

“In addition the proteins all are made of L- amino acids in a world where amino acids are 50% L- and 50% D- amino acids”

Actually, in our world L-amino acids are more common becuase they are less sensitive to light exposure than D-amino acids.  One of the principle means by which we identify isomers is by their interaction with light, becuase most isomers interact with light differently.  If life evolved in an environment with light exposure, this observation makes perfect sense.  Even if it didn’t, this strategy would need to be adopted for evolution to extend its reaches into the light.

“How did they all become composed of a single isomer? Again, it is statistically impossible. Impossibility, in statistics, is defined as any event which would occur in less that 1 time in 10 to the 50th power events. (This is a one followed by 50 zeros.)”

The unfortunate thing about statistics is that is disregards the physical properties of amino acids.  No only are L-amino acids more available, bu systems that evolved to use them exclusively were much more likely to survive.

“As I pointed out in my original letter, all these molecules have to come together in the same place at the same time.”

No, they don’t.  Dependency is an evolutionary development, not a biological necessity.

“They also have to be in a particular order, and have the correct isomers. Then they must not be destroyed or changed in any way before they could be surrounded by the lipo-protein envelope”

They don’t need to be in a particular order.  If that were true nearly ever single person alive today would be dead.  Lots of different combinations can be and are well tolerated.  Isomer selectivity confers an advantage, and this it makes sense that any species that might have lacked it has long since been out competed, if ever they existed at all.  The the cellular envelope is probably a more recent development, which molecular systems eventually learned to interact with.

“They all have to be just perfect. If you know anythng about biochemistry and cell biology, you know that this is just not going to happen.”

To put you at ease, I’m an under graduate in chemistry and biology and near the top of my class.  If you know anything about biochem and biology, you know that molecular properties predict these sorts of developments.  They don’t need to be perfect.  If that were true we wouldn’t have the huge number of discrepancy that we do.  Different bacterial species all have variations of a gene that carries out the same process.  Change is tolerated, and the genome is malleable.

“I could go on, but I started doubting Darwinism over 30 years ago, and the more study I did in biochemistry, genetics and cell biology, the more I could see that I had been misled for many years.”

Your objections are based on misunderstandings, and a lack of knowledge on the subject.  How exactly did you go about you investigation?

Hooray America!

Feliz Navidad Cuatro del Julio!

Before I continue, there’s no Ignunt Fool of the Week today. I know, I said I’d do it every Friday, but time is just a social construct. What’s Friday for me isn’t what’s Friday for you and it’s just my faith that it’s not Friday today so you can’t question that!

Today is July 4th when we commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the awesome sexyness of our founding fathers. Living in a country that has a Bill of Rights is one of the awesomest things ever.

Just to refresh your memories, here’s the Bill of Rights:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Have a great Fourth of July!

I’m going to go watch some All-American Doctor Who.

Why God Almost Certainly Does Not Exist: Part II

Ah, air travel. It’s the fastest mode of transportation we have, and manages to make itself seem like the slowest. Having spent hours lying or sitting in uncomfortable airplane seats or on airport Rows of Seats We Can’t Squish Together to Make a Comfy Bed, I feel I have enough Pure Evil stored up to do a post relating to atheism. I give you: Why God Almost Certainly Does Not Exist: Part II.

It seems some theists have finally actually read The God Delusion. Good for them. Unfortunately, as Captain Kirk once said “You’ve managed to read just about every other book, but like a theist you keep. Missing. The point.” For anyone wondering, he later beat Khan using the Argument From The Mutara Nebula.

The point that seems to be consistently missed is that god does not actually exist. I suppose it’s understandable why it’s been missed – Dawkins does leave his section on why a creator god must be as complex if not more so than its creations a bit lacking. I’ll fix that.

Let’s start with binary. 0,1. On, off. We can do amazing things with these two numbers, but we do use these two numbers. Over, and over, and over. We measure the information these numbers encode in terms of often trillions of these. We store these in hard drives, and they can be found in millions of PCs wordwide (Macs don’t count).

You’re probably wondering “where is he going with this?” or “he? Thrawn has a defined gender?”, so I’ll address the first one. My point is that computers contain quite a bit of information. Newer computers can contain more information than older ones. This information is encoded in electronic 1s and 0s, which are essentially parts. Using a simple definition of complexity, a newer computer is far more complex than, say, a Commodore 64.

How this relates to brains and from there thought is obvious. A brain is an extremely advanced computer with a dual core processor, built in sensory processing suites,  a GUI thousands of times better than Windows XP, and a hard drive with a capacity in the insertlargemetricprefixhereB.

A human brain is more complex than a troglodyte brain, with the single exception being myxoma’s brain (see “Internet Infidels All Over Again”. No, I’m not going to stop mocking her.) A human who creates something has the units of information pertaining to that creation stored in their brain (I am aware that “their” is not a gender neutral English pronoun. I’m making it one. Adapt or die. Resistance is futile.).

toast

This information may be deleted at some point in the future to make room for other information, but the capacity to store the information remains.

Let’s apply this reasoning to a god. This god needs to create the universe, everything in it, design it such that it develops in precisely the way we observe it to be today, and have extra brainpower left to spare to develop an individual “plan” for all six billion of us, somehow maintain our “free will” it somehow gives us, and make the whole thing look like it happened naturally. If we add in omniscience, god has infinite complexity. If god is not omniscient, god is only as improbable as the sum of her actions, the informational complexity of the universe, plus god’s intentions.

If god is not omniscient, god’s complexity is equivalent to the sum of the complexities of all her actions plus an additional amount of complexity greater than 0 which accounts for god having a consciousness of some sort. This possibility is still more complex, and therefore less likely than the universe existing naturally.

If god is omniscient, then her complexity is infinite. A being that knows all things is aware of all things, of knowing all things, of knowing of knowing all things, etc. ad infinitum. Infinite complexity is infinitely improbable. Compared to something of finite improbabilty, an infinitely complex being spontaneously coming into existence is essentially impossible.

Subject: Yahweh. Status: Terminated.

Bunnies.