Archive for the ‘Creationism/Intelligent Design’ Category

ABC Article on Creation Museum Visit Misrepresents Atheist Bus Slogan

The recent Creation Museum visit taken by 300 secularists has been getting lots of attention and even an article from ABC. While overall I found the article to be pretty fair and balanced, I couldn’t help noticing that there was an error. You may have heard the story of Derek Rodgers (namedrop: I knew him personally before he became famous!) who got kicked out for wearing a shirt that said “There’s probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” In the article, the shirt, and the bus campaign slogan, is quoted as saying “There’s probably no God, so get over it.”

Now, a quick Google image search, and the above photo (although you still can’t really see the shirt all that clearly) are evidence that that’s not what the slogan actually says.

Minor error? You might say that, but there’s also some cheesy saying about the devil being in the details.

I would say that there is a big difference between saying that the shirt said “stop worrying and enjoy your life” and “get over it.” The devoutly religious will probably still be offended either way, but the average passerby who reads “get over it” probably thinks to himself or herself “humph, those rude Atheists are at it again being rude” whereas they’d be less likely to react negatively to the former.

So what did I do about it besides hash out a blog post? I sent ABCNews.com an e-mail using this comment form with the category of “Inaccurate Information”, told them I was an acquaintance of Derek Rodgers and happened to know what the shirt said, and politely suggested that they Google-image searched the Atheist Bus Campaign.

What I’d like to know is why more people don’t seem to get worked up about this sort of thing. My experience with a few non-atheism-related errors in articles in the past is that they get fixed. The BBC once did a sloppy job of changing an article that said the Columbine shootings occured “in Denver, Colorado” by saying they occured “near Denver” but these people pay attention to these things nonetheless. They do have reputations at stake.

And Atheists have reputations too.

News sources usually do have means of contact for tips like these from the general population and they’re not hard to find. What I don’t understand is why more people don’t do that. If you can write a letter to a senator, or, hell, if you can get worked up because somebody once spread a nasty rumor about you at school, you can find the motivation to fix errors in widely read news sources where people get their information from.

And again, here’s a link to that small little contact form.

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Science

While reading my biology textbook (Campbell-Reece, 6th edition), I found this useful description of how molecular systematics is making taxonomy a dynamic field. I thought I’d share it on here so that people can refer it to the next creationist or post-modernist that you meet who attempts to claim that science is completely useless because it’s something-scientists-believed-was-true-fifty-years-ago-is-different-now:

As emerging technologies such as molecular biology and fresh approaches such as cladistics produce new data or stimulate scientists to reconsider old data, hypotheses sometimes bend or even break under the pressure of the closer scrutiny. New hypotheses or refinements of the old ones represent the latest versions of what we understand about nature based on the best available evidence. And evidence is the key word in this disclaimer that even our most cherished ideas in science are probationary. Science is partly distinguished from other ways of knowing because its ideas can be falsified through testing with experiments or observation. The more testing a hypothesis withstands, the more credible it becomes.

I think that it should be inexcusable for anyone to not understand this when challenging well-demonstrated “theories”. Evidence, evidence, evidence my friends.

Answers in Genesis Ads

Somebody explain this to me…

Is the kid giving me a death threat for being a non-Christian, or is the kid killing people because he’s a non-Christian?

The latter would make more sense. Answers in Genesis can’t be stupid enough to put out a mass death threat to all non-Christians. Then again, it’s Answers in Genesis we’re talking about. I should probably go with the interpretation that makes the least sense.

And someone explain this other one to me…

Forcibly converting everybody to fundie Christianity = stopping prejudice?

God damn it. What happened to the Answers in Genesis I used to love where I could just laugh at them uncontrollably? Now they’re just confusing.

I want my old Answers in Genesis back!

Make a Difference

Having long ago signed up for the Expelled e-mail list and not received much from them since it came out on DVD, I was surprised when I found an e-mail titled as a “insider update” and was amused to find this:

I’ve got a better idea.

Make a difference… give your creationist friend, science teacher, or professor a copy of one of these books:

Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne

Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters by Donald Prothero

Science, Evolution and Creationism from the Big Science Academy National Academy of Sciences

Or, you can poke around Amazon.com for books about evolution yourself. Hell, buy some creationist books for your science teacher anyway so that they can have a good laugh. Expelled was just boring. Don’t put them through that. Have them read Answers in Genesis instead.

Why Edward Cullen is Not Sexy: A Biology Nerd Rant

A certain co-author of mine has been making me read Twilight out loud to him over Skype so that he can mock it (which is admittedly loads of fun), but even if we weren’t mocking it there is no way I could find Edward Cullen hot enough to make the book worth the 500 pages of tedium. Why?

Quite simply because Edward Cullen is a creationist.

Observe, page 308:

“Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn’t we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if you don’t believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?”

This can’t be ignorance talking. This is a man (with the body of a 17 year-old) who has been taking high school biology classes for the past ninety years! In all this time it would seem he has never heard of fossils, Malthus, Mendelian genetics, or variation within populations.

The occasional creationist who snickers at me when I talk about achaeopteryx I can understand. Ignorance is forgivable… to a certain extent. How much time do you have to spend in a high school biology class with evidence staring you in the face before you accept the fact that creationism is complete bollocks? Answer: Not ninety years!

The vast majority of the creationists in my 8th grade science class came out at least theistic evolutionists (I can only think of one exception). A classroom full of thirteen to fourteen year-olds, half of whom have been brought up with terrible misconceptions of evolution, and almost all come out accepting evolution, while a 100 year-old man has been in high school level biology for ninety years still denies it? This can be indicative of only one thing:

Edward is a stupid git.

How thick do you have to be?

Answer, far too thick for it to be worth it giving your genes a chance. In other words, completely unsuitable as a mate. In other words, not the least bit sexy. Even if he weren’t a creepy paedophile who follows me home, breaks into my house and watches me sleep, oh, and sparkles in the sunlight, Edward Cullen is too thick to be sexy.

This is why I shall never become a rabid fangirl like my friends. My standards simply aren’t low enough. If I don’t become a rabid Edward Cullen fangirl then I won’t fit in. And this, my friends (to quote John McCain), is the reason why I will never fit in at school.

End rant.

Update: Read before commenting.

I have identified this as a post likely to attract comments of low quality. In order to not make fools of yourselves if you fall into a certain range of literacy, I implore you to read this post.

Ahahahahahaha!

Expelled has put out a new press release for the DVD coming out in October…

The film’s numbers proved that freedom-loving Americans were outraged to discover that teachers and professors across the nation are teaching a theory as indisputable fact and that scientists who dissent from that theory are being silenced and ousted.

A theory? Oh noes! Well, at least we know that they don’t teach the theory of relativity, or the atomic theory of matter, or the germ theory of disease. That would just be absurd!

“Big Science in this area has lost its way,” says Stein. “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-science, it’s anti-American.”

And if you had any evidence you could have gotten published in a peer-reviewed journal by now. So far all I’ve heard is “this is too complicated for me to be able to explain, ergo Santa Claus God did it.” That’s not science, that’s the argument from ignorance.

Well, all the rest has been said before. I’ll still get good laughs from this stuff but Expelled died a long time ago. Besides, I have a speech in two days on the subject which will be just as uncreative as the argument against intelligent design has been said by all of us before. It’s unfortunate that I still have to repeat it for people.

Hm… now, I wonder… I can continue to poke fun at them or I can go to sleep… Hm…

PZ Myers is Made of Win

So, after the Metro-State Atheists went through much stress and annoying bereaucracy stuff involving the student government, I got to see PZ Myers give an epic speech that was made of win!

After having heard the majority of my non-science teachers pussyfoot around having to say the “E word”, it was refreshing hearing somebody say that we shouldn’t avoid talking about evolution just because the creationist “has a big rock”.

Most refreshing was hearing somebody say that science and religion are in fact competing worldviews. One relies on faith, while the other asks for evidence. Now, that doesn’t mean that people can’t be compartmentalised and use faith in one situation to make them feel warm and fuzzy on the inside and science when they end up in an emergency room, but they’re really not the same.

PZ gave a very good summary of the present state of science education in our country, loaded with all those juicy statistics and stuff. He also pointed out that a certain vice-presidential candidate is a creationist and thinks that creation should be taught along-side evolution.

He then divulged his evil plan for when he becomes Emperor of the world by showing us a clip from Expelled with him saying that he wanted religion to become like knitting. But of course, after saying that quote a bunch of knitters (including myself… er… not really… I’ve knitted a few scarves and stuff) because upset that he had vilely compared their hobby to religion so he made a new analogy (and I will paraphrase and plausibly severely misquote him here)

I want religion to become like masturbation. Something that everybody does, doesn’t talk about it that much, doesn’t affect their lives… but it feels good and it doesn’t harm anybody…

I don’t want it to become a deciding factor for president of the United States though.

He then talked about the whole cracker incident and shared a few of the e-mails he had gotten from it, and as entertaining as it was to hear him tell the tale in person, I frankly felt he spent more time on it than he needed to… and I don’t think he tied it in to the talk very well. Actually, I still have no idea how it related to science education. I loved listening to it and all but…

Sorry, PZ. You’re still made of win. Just a touch of constructive criticism…

He ended with a quote from Lawrence Krauss…

I wonder which is more important: using the contrast between science and religion to teach about science or trying to put religion in its place?

He said “why can’t we do both?” And I agree. The better a person understands the scientific method, I’ll bet the more likely they are to apply it to everything.

Education needs to be about freethought. It needs to be about teaching kids skepticism and not telling them “apply this to everything! But not your religion.” We can’t make conclusions for them, but we can give them the freedom and the tools to get to their own conclusions… if they choose to use them.

So, in conclusion, when PZ becomes emperor of the world it’s not going to be that bad of a place. If you don’t like cephalopods, though…

Anyway, still a pretty awesome talk.