ID/Creationism people cite criticism of Kitzmiller Case

March 17, 2006

They lost that case, and lost it big. They should be hanging their heads in shame because their utter sham was revealed.

Intead, they cheer at every option when someone critcizes the decision.

Evolution News & Views: Philosopher Alvin Plantinga Demolishes Part of Kitzmiller Decision

The critical response to Judge Jones’s decision in the Kitzmiller case continues to build. Renowned philosopher Alvin Plantinga has recently written a short article analyzing part of Judge Jones’s reasoning. Having Plantinga’s analytic expertise and philosophic understanding come down against the Kitzmiller decision does not bode well for the intellectual vitality Judge Jones may have hoped his opinion would achieve. For those who may not know, Alvin Plantinga is a highly respected philosopher who has written extensively on such topics as epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. As one of the worlds leading thinkers about the ‘science of knowledge,’ epistemology, Plantinga has published a seminal trilogy centering on warrant. He is highly respected in the philosophy community and has served as the president of the American Philosophical Association. All this makes Plantinga’s analysis of the reasoning employed in Kitzmiller highly relevant.

Hell’s Handmaiden shares my opinion, and has already dealt with the praised article here.

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Withering criticism of Leon Wieseltier’s review of “Breaking the Spell”

March 17, 2006

The very article that the Intelligent Design folks were drooling over has been met with a flurry of criticism.

‘Breaking the Spell’ – New York Times

Leon Wieseltier’s review of Daniel Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell” (Feb. 19) was an impressive demonstration of the power of religious faith. In gathering the wood for this auto-da-fé, Wieseltier showed no facility at all for scientific thought, nor even a basic appreciation for the standards of rigor and intellectual honesty that distinguish science from religion as a human pursuit. Wieseltier writes with triumphal smugness about the “excesses of naturalism” that apparently blight Dennett’s work. He might as well have pointed out the “excesses of historical accuracy” or the “excesses of logical coherence.” If utter naturalism is a sin, it is one only from the point of view of religious faith — a faith that has grown ever more blinkered in Reason’s glare.

That bit’s from Sam Harris.


Senator Bill Napoli (R) Googlebombed

March 14, 2006

The Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels have initiated a googlebombing of Bill Napoli, whom I quoted yesterday evening.

They chose to highlight the same bit I did yesterday, as to who might be allowed an abortion, copied here:

A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Now if you look up Bill Napoli on Google, you get this as the first entry:

napoli (not to be confused with the proper noun, which indicates the Italian city)
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): napolied
Pronunciation: nA’poli

1. To brutalize and rape, sodomize as bad as you can possibly make it, a young, religious virgin woman who was saving herself for marriage.
2. To hella rape somebody.

Etymology: From State Senator Bill Napoli’s (R-SD) description of an acceptable rape that would merit an exemption from South Dakota’s abortion ban.

Example of usage: “Did you hear? Laura’s dad totally napolied her, but according to Utah law, she still has to obtain his permission before getting an abortion.”

It’s good to see the Internet giving Napoli the recognition he so richly deserves.


Christian mischief at home (Weekly Roundup)

March 13, 2006

Lest you think that one religion is causing all of the problems of irrationality, I bring you the weekend roundup of issues with Christians in the West. Again, numbered for reference but no particular order:

    Harry Clarke reviews the case against Mother Teresa, where belief in a Higher Power led to neglect of care here on earth (emph mine).

    With regard to those suffering from serious diseases the Mother ‘prefers providence to planning; her rules are designed to prevent any drift towards materialism’. Her patients looked like inmates of Belsen because they all ‘had shaved heads…This is two rooms with fifty to sixty men in one , fifty to sixty women in another. There’re dying. They’re not being given a great deal of medical care. They’re not being given pain killers beyond aspirin…’. Why aren’t you sterilising the needles, ‘There’s no point. There’s no time’. Mother had money but who needs that when God is on your side and why corrupt these sufferers with materialism.

    To a patient dying of cancer and suffering incredible pain the Mother said ‘ You are suffering like Christ on the Cross. So Jesus must be kissing you’. The patient replied ‘Then please tell him to stop kissing me’. Why could he not understand?

    There’s an amusing bit about Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa at the end.

  1. Bush links the Department of Homeland Security with faith-based organizations. Great. Now we can pray for security.
  2. The Vatican wants Italian schools to allocate Islamic prayer time. They seem to rightly recognize that if one religion is allowed into schools, theirs might follow.
  3. Scientists are rallying as they realize that people will in fact believe Intelligent Design (read: creationist) BS if it’s fed to them. Educated people used to shrug it off, as if we could never slide that far back, but we are doing just that. It’s good to see that people are getting worried and doing something about it. Don’t believe it’s a real problem?

    Aside from the recent legal battles, educators point to several other signs troubling them about evolutionary education in the United States. For example, in a study published last year, Randy Moore, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, reported that 20 percent of the biology teachers he surveyed in Minnesota include creationism in their classes and believe that it is scientifically valid.

    More examples will follow.

  4. Lest we think that humans are somehow now exempt from evolution, a professor at the University of Chicago would beg to differ.

    Providing the strongest evidence yet that humans are still evolving, researchers have detected some 700 regions of the human genome where genes appear to have been reshaped by natural selection, a principal force of evolution, within the last 5,000 to 15,000 years.

    But humans didn’t evolve. An intelligent designer made it look that way to confuse us.

  5. More info on South Dakota’s move to criminalize abortion. A state senator explains the charity of the one loophole in the law,

    “A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl, could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

    I wonder, if she weren’t a virgin, but she were raped, would she be able to use the loophole? Or what if she weren’t sodomized? But surely, abortions are done for simple convenience, because people are too lazy or hedonstic to control themselves as long as abortions are available (Napoli [quoted above] believes most abortions are performed for “convenience,”)

    “It was difficult when I found out I was pregnant. I was saddened because I knew that I’d probably have to make this decision. Like I said, I have two children, so I look into their eyes and I love them. It’s been difficult, you know, it’s not easy. And I don’t think it’s, you know, ever easy on a woman, but we need that choice.”

    How callous of her. Soon, you won’t just be prevented from aborting a pregnancy, you’ll be prevented from preventing one:

    In South Dakota, pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives should it trouble their conscience, and some groups who worked on the anti-abortion bill believe contraception also needs to be outlawed. Good plan. After that, we’ll reconsider women’s property rights, civil right and voting rights.

    I’m dumbfounded.

  6. Britain, considered by some to be a shining example of secular rationality is considering teaching about creationism in school science courses. A science teacher in Sussex voiced some of his concerns,

    “This opens a legitimate gate for the inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in science classes as if they were legitimate theories on a par with evolution fact and theory.

    “I’m happy for religious theories to be considered in religious education, but not in science where consideration could lead to a false verification of their status as being equal to scientific theories.”

    This rings of The Wedge Strategy.

  7. Tennessee is also on the way to banning abortion.

That’s enough for tonight. This is depressing me.


Science turns its lens on religion, with controversial results

March 13, 2006

There’s been a lot of discussion around the web with insults, comments, retorts, counter-retorts and more over a recent book by Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell), wherein he turns the lens of scientific inquiry on the biology behind religious belief. Clive Cookson gives an ineresting overview of the subject matter.

According to Tim Adams of The Observer, Dennett

has been called a ‘Darwinian fundamentalist’ in that there is no area of life or experience that he believes cannot be understood in terms of natural selection.

This is a subject that has sparked a nontrivial amount of debate on this blog recently. It seems he has taken Dawkins’ suggestion of the ‘meme’, sort of a virus of the mind, very seriously.

It also seems he shares my aims with regard to taking religion off of its untouchable pedestal:

Breaking the Spell opens up a new front in this engagement. ‘It just became clearer and clearer to me that there were too many presumptions in the air about the elevated status of religious presuppositions,’ he says. ‘I thought that wasn’t right. I wanted to find out why religion still has such a hold on people.’

I find his ‘bright’ moniker for himself and others of like mind (including me) a little arrogant. He’s certainly not out to tread softly with this stuff. On the other hand it’s a nice example of framing (similar to the pro-abortion vs. pro-choice, pro-life vs. anti-choice name-wrangling of that debate), as he states in the article,

Dennett has written editorial pieces in the New York Times about the brights being America’s most persecuted minority these days; the godless worse than jihadists in some eyes. Is the term gaining currency?

‘Well,’ he says ‘there was a flurry at first and then it sort of died down and people said, “Ha! It’s not going to catch on.” But it took the term “gay” quite a few years to catch on. So let’s come back in five years and see what is happening to “bright”. I think it would be good if there was a familiar novel term for people who don’t believe in the supernatural. There are such negative connotations to the word atheist in that it defines an opposition. I’d like a word that stands on its own.’

Dennett does not make the comparison with gay liberation tritely. For a while now, he has cheerfully been announcing to anyone who will listen that he is bright and he is proud.

‘When I came out as a bright at this wonderful conference of high-school kids up in Seattle, the effect was electrifying,’ he recalls. ‘Many of them came up to me afterwards and said, “Thank you! Thank you! I have never heard an adult say that before.”‘

The children had apparently held these private doubts about God for years, but they’d had to keep them to themselves, worried about being different, or strange. ‘Let’s shout it out,’ Dennett exclaims. ‘We’re brights! We don’t believe in God!’

There are still circles of my life where I feel the shame of being an atheist. I’m not ashamed myself, but I know that the responses I’d get for ‘coming out’ would have the intent of making me feel ashamed. This is sad. Since becming a for-sure atheist, I’ve had much more sympathy for homosexuals. And they generally don’t have a choice in the matter, which makes my situation somewhat less traumatic. He seems to have the same spirit that I do about the whole issue of ‘tolerance’ for religion:

Dennett is clearly a profoundly generous-spirited man in person, but he gives no quarter intellectually to anyone. ‘The only meaning of life worth caring about,’ he says, ‘is one that can withstand our best efforts to understand it.’

There’s no reason to abuse anyone because you disagree with them, but attempting to disabuse them of their religious beliefs should not be off-limits.

Dennett sees the world of the future polarising between rationalists and believers and, from the corner of his quad, watches that fracture deepening daily. When he wrote his seminal book, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, people used to ask him: why is it so dangerous? They don’t ask him that any more. Dawkins wrote that people had ‘evolved to be Darwinists’, but some people are clearly taking a lot longer than others.

I think this polarization is becoming more evident by the day. Amusingly, his father was a historian specializing in Islam,

‘Here was a man who intimately understood the Middle East, and who was deeply interested in politics, who loved the Arab world. It would have been great to have him in the State Department for a few decades.’

He also shares my worries about Bush’s high regard for a Higher Authority.

Dennett has a major critic at the NYT, but because of their registration BS, I won’t link to it. The [Un]intelligent Design people are loving this and another exchange between Dennett and a fellow proponent of evolution, Michael Ruse. Bill Dembski of that camp quites the exchange here.

I think that Ruse has a good point, in that the antagonistic approach might be considered rash and provocative. I also think that the time for that caution is past. All of this intelligent design nonsense being pushed into schools is a sign that the other side has moved first, while the rest of us sat calmly thinking that we were slowly winning.


Judie Brown, self-proclaimed ‘tool of satan’, cheers South Dakota’s Folly

March 10, 2006

I was looking for articles about South Dakota’s new anti-abortion law, when I stumbled upon this gem, which led me to the blog mentioned within, wherein Judie Brown praises the new SD law.

She doesn’t say much in the newer post, but reading the aforementioned gem on “Renew America” is telling. If you read the NoGodBlog post I link to in my bit about South Dakota, you’ll note that the author links the religious disposition to impose religious beliefs on everyone to this law. Given that this is essentially religious in nature, it’s ironic that a site (Renew America) so bent on protecting free speech should be so supportive of something that arguably violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.

She says, (and yes, I’m picking the religious bits, emphasis mine),

I pointed out that in some cases this “prevention” is accomplished by ending the life of a new human person in the days between fertilization and implantation in the mother’s womb.

I also said that the medical establishment relies on a phony definition of pregnancy to say that these pills do not abort; that a mother is not considered “pregnant” until her preborn child implants in her womb, which occurs about a week after fertilization (the point at which a human being’s life begins). [I’m impressed that she’s such a medical expert! –RR]

“Exactly who died and made you God?” wrote one respondent. Other than the obvious theological fact that God is very much alive and Judie Brown makes no claim to His heavenly throne, the big deal here is that somebody did die — an innocent human being who was never given a chance by those in the medical community who deny his very existence. But I suppose denying the existence of a baby is child’s play for all in our society who deny the existence of God.

One lost human being is one loss too many. [Better not let pregnant women walk or do anything else that might dislodge a zygote — a common occurrence –RR]

I suppose one could say that all human beings are “programmed for sex,” since that’s how the Creator intended the species to procreate. It is highly ironic that this individual would choose to support Planned Parenthood [Donate now! –RR], however, as this is the one organization that has done the most to plant the suggestion in our collective minds that kids are going to have sex regardless of what we do to encourage chastity. [And (I’m going to look for the study and link it) it turns out that encouraging chastity without other sexual education increases their chances of contracting an STD! That’s great for the children! –RR]

It shouldn’t take a graduate-level biologist to figure out that the most effective way of stopping out-of-wedlock pregnancy is stopping out-of-wedlock sex. Yet this scholar seems to have failed to grasp that simple concept. [She’s also a biology and psychology expert — who knew? –RR]

Is the link becoming clear to you?


Abortion to be equivalent to murder in South Dakota

March 10, 2006

This news is a few days old, but it’s important. South Dakota’s legislature has banned abortion. It’s reported on by tons of sources.

NoGodBlog reports and reflects on this ban, noting the glaring problem with this law:

The problem I have with this whole thing is that most people have lost site of the real issue, the separation of church and state. The abortion issue is not about abortion, but rather about religious people forcing other people to obey the religious way of life. Gay rights, death with dignity, school prayer — all the same thing. Those who oppose all these issues are predominantly (exceptions noted) the same people, the same organizations, the same money. Most of the debates are not about the specific issues, but rather just cloaks around religious discussions.

Their strength comes from our missing the point! When we fight these issues on an individual level, we are divided and therefore conquered! We should NOT be voting on abortion or gay rights — we should be voting ONLY on the issue of separation of church and state. When those in office agree that one religion should not rule the masses (like Iraq and Iran), these issues will go away by default.

Abortion Clinic Days goes into detail about just how dangerous the wording of this law is (they quote an article by Lynn Paltrow and Charon Asetoyer):

Those who authored this bill and those who voted for it want to create the impression that only the people providing the abortions will be punished, not the women having them. They are not brave enough or honest enough to admit what is clear: Women will be punished, and they and their families will suffer if this law goes into effect.

South Dakota, like many other states, has adopted numerous laws that seek to establish the unborn as full legal persons. For example, South Dakota has a feticide statute that makes the killing of an “unborn child” at any stage of prenatal development fetal homicide, manslaughter or vehicular homicide

[The new law is based on the conclusion] “that life begins at the time of conception,” and that “each human being is totally unique immediately at fertilization.” [A religious belief –RR]

This sounds bad for choice proponents, but it gets worse,

a pregnant woman who has an abortion can be prosecuted as a murderer under already existing homicide laws. Farfetched? Not at all. Prosecutors all over the country have been experimenting with this approach for years. In South Carolina, Regina McKnight is serving a 12-year sentence for homicide by child abuse. Why? Because she suffered an unintentional stillbirth. The prosecutors said she caused the stillbirth by using cocaine, yet, they did not charge her with having an illegal abortion – a crime that in South Carolina has a three-year sentence. Rather, they charged and convicted her of homicide – a crime with a 20- year sentence. They obtained this conviction in spite of evidence that McKnight’s stillbirth was caused by an infection.

Losing a baby isn’t enough — now, without proof that it was even the fault of the pregnant mother, it may be concluded that she has murdered her stillborn child. This is not something that could happen. It has. And she’s not the only one (see the article). This is not a large step away from a witch hunt.

Could this be connected to some recent SCotUS nominations?