Hell’s Handmaiden vs. Intelligent Design

April 2, 2006

Intelligent Design proponents are propagandising via the Internet, and their blogs are truly a sight to behold. Their posts are sometimes so galling and perplexing that I literally sit agape at my computer as I read their takes on evolution and ID.

I am at times tempted to address their posts, but given the volume it seems like an insurmountable task. Hell’s Handmaiden nonetheless does a fantastic job of tearing them to logical shreds. Here’s a collection of recent posts and responses.

If the ID issue is of concern to you, Hell’s Handmaiden and the blogs he links to and discusses are valuable additions to your feed aggregator.


New study finds atheists most distrusted American minority

March 25, 2006

I think it’s time, or nearly so, for me to truly ‘come out’ as an atheist. Certainly my friends and associates know this about me, but not all of my family does, and while it’s not something I’m ashamed of, it is certainly something I’m currently cautious about disclosing.

This study is a good indication of why I am cautious.

However, I feel a responsibility toward emerging atheists and existing atheists alike to declare myself publicly atheist, to show that atheists are not, in fact, all evil, self-centered, untrustworthy and unethical frauds. 

I shall continue to ponder this, though I think my decision will likely be in favor of this public declaration.

Atheists identified as America’s most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study : News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.

ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:20 CST – I just came across this quote from an interview with Dennett:

Well, by leading a meaningful life. As I look around the world, I see all sorts of heroes in every walk of life. But there is a prejudice against this because a lot of [atheists] are reluctant to point it [their lack of belief] out. Nobody wants to spend their life going around being the ‘village atheist.’ They’re much more interested in just leading a good and normal life.

So a lot of people, I find, are surprised to see me so candidly and cheerfully acknowledging my atheism. Not because they’re not atheists, but because they don’t go around mentioning it. I think that’s unfortunate.

The emphasis is mine. The article is here.

ADDITIONAL ADDENDUM: 2006-03-25 @ 14:24 – another perspective on religion and ethics:

Everyday science: Science, religion and the atomic bomb

“We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb… fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link.”

So they go on to claim that religion should oversee science.

But a bomb does no harm unless it is dropped on someone. So who made the decision to bomb the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Not the scientists. Most of the scientists who knew about the bomb signed letters to President Truman asking that the bomb never be used, especially against civilians. But they had no say in the final decision.

<>Then who did decide to bomb cities full of women and children? Christians all:
President Harry S. Truman was a Baptist.
Secretary of state James F Byrnes was an Anglican/Episcopalian.
Secretary of War Henry Stimson was a Presbyterian.<>

So where was religion’s famous morality when these decisions were made? And where they now while our self-proclaimed Christian President George W. Bush wages a war in Iraq based on lies which kills civilians by the thousand?

Ohio schools have ecome officially atheistic, godless, and toxic…

March 17, 2006

I don’t really have words for this. The Atheist Mama had a few though.

The Columbus Dispatch – Editorials

In December, I submitted a resolution to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, urging pastors and parents to investigate the indoctrination of our young people into the homosexual agenda and to encourage concerned Christian parents to remove their children from public schools.

At the heels of the recent 11-4 decision by the State Board of Education to censor any criticism of Darwinian evolution, it has become clear that our young people are being indoctrinated into not only a pro-homosexual, but a humanistic religion, as well. Ohio schools have become officially atheistic, godless and toxic, morally, intellectually and spiritually, to our precious children.

Sounding both intelligent and reasonable

March 17, 2006

There’s a rather uninteresting post from the ID camp, except for one little line, quoted below (emph mine)

Evolution News & Views: The Scotsman: Intelligent Design Evidence-Based

Scotsman Alistair Donald recently engaged Peter Jones concerning intelligent design and the age of reason, and came off sounding both intelligent and reasonable.

This is the cornerstone of ID — sounding intelligent and reasonable. The average Joe or Jane may have a difficult time discerning real science from something that sounds intelligent and reasonable. This includes politicians. Thus, a large group of creationists gets together, makes a concerted effort to seem legit, and are subsequently percieved as scientific skeptics who just want to make sure that we’re dilligent in our skepticism.

It’s important in trying to limit the impact of ID that we understand the social and psychological manipulation perpetrated by its proponents.

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.

More on Protests, Cartoons, and Censorship (Weekend Roundup)

March 13, 2006

I sorted through nearly 600 feed entries this weekend, several of which contained more news about the cartoons and Islam-inspired censorship. Here’s a list (numbered for reference — no particular order):

  1. Catallaxy quotes a story on the debates now taking place among moderate Muslims as a result of the cartoon insanity. The Democratic Muslims want to make sure it’s clear that not every Muslim shares the same views,

    “I have been in Denmark for 17 years but I was not part of the integration debate because I just thought that everything would work out,” says Mr. El-Abed, who is of Palestinian origin. “But since this crisis came, I decided that I can no longer allow others to speak on my behalf … many others are in the same position.”

  2. Sandmonkey talks about a response to his question — which was which book the world Muslim population should ban next. Surprise! It’s Don Quixote.
  3. A recent conference in Denmark geared toward easing tensions had disappointing results, including (probably unintentionally) veiled blackmail (emph mine)

    Khaled sought to emphasize that “we are here to build bridges for dialogue” and suggested that a continuing boycott of Danish goods in Arab countries could stop if Danes and their government reach out with initiatives such as health care or help for small businesses. [Though a boycott is the right way to go about this, compared with violence –RR]

    and outright expression of anger and demands for apology:

    “We are here today because we want to tell you that every Muslim in the world is very angry,” said Tareq Alsuwaidan, general manager of the Kuwaiti satellite channel Al Resalah.

    “We request an official apology from your government to the Muslim nation. Your government has done a very bad job and you have to do something about it.” [Still better than violence and threats thereof –RR]

    and out come the demands for censorship again:

    He demanded that the European Union enact a law that forbids insulting religious figures. [This is not how it works… –RR]

    Europe’s existing issues with freedom of expression are giving them leverage:

    “Freedom of speech shouldn’t be absolute,” said Al Habib Ali Aljifri, an Islamic scholar from Yemen, noting that many European countries do not allow anti-Semitic speech. “We must come to an understanding of rules governing freedom of expression.”

  4. Sugiero compiles an interesting review of the provocation within the Muslim world that resulted in the widespread outrage, including the fabrication of additional images that supposedly “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.”
  5. A newspaper editor in Yemen is under threat of the death penalty for publishing Danish caricatures of Muhammad. Sandmonkey comments on how great this is for the image of Islam. A story of the Prophet’s endorsement of killing is being used to encourage the dismantling of the accused newspaper and the execution of its editor. Apparently, obscuring the (shrunken) images and actually condemning the cartoons was not a sufficient counterweight to publishing them.
  6. French philosopher Glucksmann seems to argue that it’s okay to censor holocaust denial but not cartoons of Muhammed because one is based on faith and the other on fact. This is the sort of thing that’s referred to above about conflicting rules, and if we are going to have our freedom of expression and really mean it, we can’t tolerate either camp.
  7. Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka points out the folly of Islamic censorship and the Western voices that support it.

    Who is it that really defiles the name of the Prophet Mohammed? Those who butcher innocents in the name of that Prophet, innocents who have never tasted Danish butter in all their lives, who do not even know of the existence of a nation called Denmark, or some cartoon editor who, for all we know, has never related spiritually to Jesus Christ or Mohammed, to the Buddha or Orisa-nla?

    The Danish government, thank goodness, declined to assume the burden of guilt by succumbing to the call to apologize for the conduct of one of its citizens, an individual who at no time was accused of being its official, representative or spokesman, but a free agent in his own cause, however censurable. The proposition that a government should act as monitor for individual choice within a free society is repugnant. [It’d be nice if some other Western governments would back them up –RR]

I can’t believe this is still going on. How long ago were these cartoons published?

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?