Saturday, August 31, 2013


The ICR and Babel

Peter, the Kiwi student who reads the Institute for Creation Research babble so you don't have to, has an amusing example at his blog, Eye on the ICR, involving an ICR video trying to explain language distribution with the story of Babel.

The facepalm moment comes when the video gives the above illustration and says:
The Yeniseian language family in Siberia, and the North American Na-dené language family share the same grammatical construction – and they're on opposite sides of the planet.
The video does go on to say that the two language groups are related and probably separated when people crossed the Bering Strait land bridge during the ("post-flood"!) ice age. But as Peter points out:
I thought they were trying to show that languages were different, not that they are similar and related even above the family level? What they should see is around 70 distinct language groups that have no genetic relation to each other, not that they came from even earlier groups.
For all the details and the ICR video, drop by Peter's place.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Nothing to Do With Religion

World Magazine has profiles of five people who spent 10 days in Seattle at the Discovery Institute's summer seminar learning about intelligent design. Try and find the difference between ID and religion:

David Brown (a pseudonym):
As a physics teacher, he doesn't talk about biology, but introduces the concept of fine-tuning in the universe. ...

Brown used to teach origins by telling students how some people believe the universe was created, and others believe it just popped into existence. At the Discovery Institute's intelligent design seminar this summer, though, science research coordinator Casey Luskin advised him that approach was technically considered teaching intelligent design—and therefore illegal.
Note that he wasn't told that ID has nothing to do with creation. Instead, he was told that mentioning creation is "teaching intelligent design," demonstrating that ID is intended to promote creationism.

Phoebe Johnson (a pseudonym):

When her public school principal complained she weren't teaching the curriculum on evolution, she moved to a position at a Roman Catholic school:
Johnson soon realized her new job environment would not be drastically different. While the school does believe the Bible is true, Pope John Paul II encouraged Catholics not to abandon science, which many took to mean embracing Darwinism. In her advanced biology class, she is allowed to teach the criticisms of Darwinian theory, but can't supply students with alternative possibilities. She can say, "Isn't God amazing?" while studying the design of kidneys, but can't say that it didn't come by evolution.
Instead, she'd like to abandon science and teach the "alternative possibility" of creationism.

John Ferrer:

A Ph.D. in the philosophy of religion, he "sees himself as an evangelist for the redemption of universities."
Ferrer believes Christians need to be the best students in the classroom. Then after they graduate, they should enter top-notch grad programs and places of influence in politics, business, and academia. Once Christians become professors or even college presidents, they have more power to change what is taught to the country's future leaders.
In other words, ID has nothing to do with science but has to do with the political advancement of Christianity, both inside and out of academia. Oh, wait a minute, we already knew about that.

Lugo Martinez (a pseudonym):
Martinez said attending the intelligent design seminar at the Discovery Institute this summer strengthened his faith: "I believe in the biblical frame of the origin of life. I think God came and put the conditions on Earth for life to begin." Martinez personally believes that biological life is young, perhaps 6,000 to 10,000 years old, but that the Earth itself is old. He believes Noah's flood was responsible for creating the fossil record.
Of course ID intends this effect, as explained by both Phillip Johnson and Paul Nelson.

Lori McKeeman:

The lead ... cough ... science teacher at The Potter's School, an online Christian school popular among homeschoolers and missionary and military families, she says:
She coaches students through experiments like extracting DNA from peas and fruit, and uses science to demonstrate the Bible's accuracy. (One example: Hyssop, a cleansing agent in the Bible, contains thymol, an antiseptic used in mouthwash.)
Ohhh! People have found natural substances that are useful. Strange, I don't remember any Bible verses about willow bark relieving pain. I guess Aspirin wasn't intelligently designed.

If there was any question about ID being religiously, instead of scientifically, motivated, the very people who attend DI's seminars dispel any such doubt.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 25, 2013


When the Babble Boggles!

It is hardly unusual to run across wingnuts making irrational arguments, especially at Alan Keyes' RenewAmeica website. But I defy you to make any sense at all of this from David Usher of the Center for Marriage Policy.

Usher's contention is that the:
U.S. Supreme court declared DOMA unconstitutional because defenders of heterosexual marriage never argued that gay marriage is unequal and unconstitutional. The Left screamed "equality" in every court in the nation. We never responded on the merits, were unable to state harm, and suffered an entirely preventable loss. ... It is possible to reverse the rulings and protect state constitutional bans if we lead with strong equality arguments in our briefs and in our public work on the cultural front.
Okay, Usher is going to show us how denying gay marriage actually results in greater equality ...
Heterosexual marriage is the only constitutional form of marriage because it is the only possible arrangement that automatically confers equal social, economic, and parental rights to all married men and women regardless of one's ability to naturally bear a child. Same-sex marriage immediately bifurcates these rights, destroying equality between men and women.

Sexual orientation is not relevant in same-sex (or so-called "gay" marriage) litigation or the cultural debate. The laws of a few states, the federal government, and the recent Supreme Court are irrationally flawed because they create the right for any two unrelated, unmarried human beings to marry each other regardless of sexual orientation. Where the discriminatory action of same-sex marriage will be imposed on all adults regardless of sexual orientation, sexual orientation is at most a secondary element an invalid cornerstone for the recent Supreme Court rulings.
Usher states that there are now three types of marriage:
Class 1: Mother-mother marriages: The class of marriages having most advantageous rights is marriages between two women. When two women marry, it is a three-way contract among two women and the government. Most women will bear children by men outside the marriage – often by pretending they are using birth control when they are not. Entrapped men become economically-conscripted third parties to these marriages, but get nothing in return.

This is a significant advantage compelling women who would otherwise become (or are) single mothers to choose to marry a woman instead of a man.
Riiight! Most straight women will marry other women just to "entrap" men into supporting their children. Wut? Why can't they do that as single women?
They can combine incomes, double-up on tax-free child support and welfare benefits, decrease costs, and double the human resources available to raise children and run their household. They are sexually liberated with boyfriends often cohabiting with them to provide additional undeclared income and human resources without worrying about what happens when they break up with their boyfriends.
Wait! If they are legally married their combined incomes will reduce or eliminate child support and welfare benefits. Sure, they will decrease costs but is that enough to get women to marry each other in any significant numbers? Can't they do that just by being "roommates"? And if they want to have boyfriends cohabiting with them to provide additional undeclared income and human resources, why do they need to marry each other?
Today, approximately 25% of single mothers cohabit with an undocumented boyfriend. Same-sex marriage allows women to double-up on everything, establishing sub-rosa polyandrous marriage as a common legal institution with men as peripheral servants without a stake in marriage or society.
But ... but ... why would men willingly become "peripheral servants"?
The Supreme Court cannot explain away the unconstitutionality of same-sex marriage when the welfare state becomes a predatory, automatic, and unnatural statutory third-party-provider to a class of often structurally-polyandrous marriages, extracting substantial income from taxpayers and entrapped men, that other marriages do not qualify for.
Can anyone provide a babble to English translation? Maybe this will help:
Class 2: Heterosexual marriages. The second class of marriages is traditional marriages between men and women. Children of these marriages are almost always borne of the marriage and supported by husband and wife without governmental involvement. In these marriages, men and women have natural parental and economic rights, standing in society, and equal "gender power" before the law. Traditional marriages will be economically-disadvantaged compared to mother-mother marriages because they cannot draw large incomes from the welfare state and they will be taxed to support other marriages. They are treated in discriminatory fashion having to subsidize Class-1 and perhaps Class-3 entitlements (including ObamaCare) in their taxes.
Ummm ... why can't men and women do the same thing as women-women can do, establishing sub-rosa polyandrous marriages with extra boyfriends and girlfriends acting as willing "peripheral servants"? Why can't men and women game the "welfare state" just as well as two women can? Is the whole premise of Usher's argument that men are really, really stupid? In which case, why should we listen to the Y-chromosome challenged Usher at all?

But the funniest of all is this:
Class 3: Male-Male marriages. Marriages between two men are destined to be the marital underclass. In most cases, these men will become un-consenting "fathers" by reproductive entrapment. Men in male-male marriages who become fathers by deceptive means will be forced to pay child support to women in bi-maternal marriages, and become economically enslaved to Class-1 marriages. The taxpayers will be guarantors of child support collections for low-income fathers who cannot afford to pay (as occurs in the existing welfare state).
Ohhh Kaaay! Male-male marriages don't have all the "welfare state" advantages that women-women marriages do. So, we can assume that male-male marriages aren't matters of convenience, like women-women marriages are. Right? But all these gay men will be fucking all these predatory women because ... oh, right ... they're stupid and lusting after women, despite being gay!

Somebody around here is stupid ... but it isn't those in favor of marriage equality!

Update: Ed Brayton has also seen this and his commentariate leans toward an explanation that Usher is less homophobic than misogynistic. Interestingly, Usher had an earlier screed that, if not anymore intelligible, is more transparent:
Forget the terms "same sex" and "gay" marriage. These are victim-based marketing ploys invented N.O.W. to send us off into a heated debate about homosexuality and equal rights — distracting us from seeing their real goal of establishing "feminist marriage".
It seems Usher expects straight women, in large numbers, to marry each other to game the system:
Feminist marriage will be far more attractive to all women than heterosexual marriage. Sexual orientation does not matter when two women marry and become "married room-mates". They can still have as many boyfriends as they want, and capture the richest ones for baby-daddies by "forgetting" to use their invisible forms of birth control. On average, a feminist marriage will have at least four income sources, two of them tax-free, plus backup welfare entitlements.
This is thinking far more bizarre than is needed to be an average run-of-the-mill wingnut. Usher is an uberwingnut.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


How Can We Be Moral Without Religion?

How can we be moral with religion?
After 60 years of attending a Tennessee church, a family in Collegedale has been exiled because they supported their daughter while she fought for same sex benefits from the town where she worked as a police detective. ...

[L]eaders at Ridgedale Church of Christ gave Kat Cooper's mother, aunt and uncle an ultimatum during a private meeting after worship services on Sunday.

"They could repent for their sins and ask forgiveness in front of the congregation. Or leave the church," The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported on Wednesday.
Their sins?
"My mother was up here and she sat beside me. That's it," Kat Cooper explained to reporter Kevin Hardy. "Literally, they're exiling members for unconditionally loving their children — and even extended family members."

Ridgedale Church of Christ Pastor Ken Willis said that something had to be done because the family was publicly endorsing homosexuality by supporting their daughter.

"The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle," Willis insisted. "The Bible speaks very plainly about that."
Where, exactly, in the Bible does it say you have to abandon your child just because he or she is a "sinner"? I thought everyone is supposed to be a sinner, so why aren't every parent expelled from their church for endorsing their child's "lifestyle" of sin?

Who are the heretics? Those who would cast the first stone, or those who follow 1 Timothy 5:8:
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


At Least We Know What They Are

This is precious.

Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner, not exactly the brightest bulbs in the Talibangelical marquee, were riffing on the Boy Scouts, speculating not only that it would "invite homosexuals, active homosexuals, to be leaders of the troops" but that it would soon have "the sodomy merit badge" and even a "cannibal merit badge"

Cannibalism? Wut? They couldn't stretch their imaginations to the "Holocaust Merit Badge"?

But this was the funny part: "Christians are fleeing like rats."

Thanks for the physiology lesson.

Monday, August 19, 2013


It All Becomes ... Umm ...

If you were wondering why the wingnuts are driven to such panic by gays, it appears that they got ahold of a copy of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and thought it was a documentary:
Linda Harvey of Mission America explained today that gays and lesbians are attracted to people of the same-sex because they are empty inside and seek to "absorb" the personalities of others. "Those who have left homosexuality," Harvey said, talk about how "they've once felt empty" and as a result want "to absorb the personality and identity of another person, even someone of the same sex because the vacant feeling inside is so great." "When others seem to have meaning and purpose, the feelings of self-pity can be overwhelming," she continued.
Just imagine what a state they'll be in if they ever see Aliens.


Ken Ham's Strange Commercial

Ken Ham has a new commercial for his Creation "Museum" that, at least some people, take as an admission that there is no scientific evidence for Intelligent Design. I'm not so sure that's what he's saying but here it is:
You know, ministers would love to have the final proof that evolution is a lie. The right scientific evidence will trounce those opposed to Biblical creation forever, right? Well, no. You see, Romans Chapter 1 tells us that God has revealed himself to man in nature, so there is no excuse for denying the witness of creation. In fact, we have solid proof in our hands that evolution is a lie: the Bible. You see, we can't depend solely on our reasoning ability to convince skeptics. We present the evidence and do the best we can to convince people the truth of God by always pointing them to the Bible. After all, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

P.S.: PZ has also notice the commercial and agrees that Ham isn't saying what some people think he's saying.

And now Ham has confirmed that PZ was right!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


No Comment Necessary

Non Sequitur

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Well, As Long as You're Going to Be Reasonable About It!

Even the folks at Focus on the Family may be waking up.

As Right Wing Watch reports:
Focus on the Family spokesman Glenn Stanton, who called same-sex unions satanic, ironically told virulently anti-gay talk show host Janet Mefferd in an interview yesterday that the Religious Right should move away from the polarizing rhetoric of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson, the founder of Focus. ...

Stanton said that activists who aren't "fire breathing" conservatives are having a stronger appeal, such as the late Chuck Colson: "People aren't reacting against that, they are reacting against certain manifestations of the culture war and in some sense we can say you know what some of those things were fine for the 70s but we are in a new age and we need to address these issues in truth and in a very different kind of way. I think Chuck Colson, who we don't have anymore, was a wonderful example of that kind of thing.
As Right Wing Watch goes on to point out, that was the same Chuck (Look Out Grandma!) Colson who said "gay marriage invites terrorist attacks, gravely damages children, leads to the end of democracy and a Nazi-style dictatorship and unleashes 'cultural Armageddon,' and longed for the day when homosexuality was condemned as 'sexually deviant' and ' shameful and embarrassing.'"

Right! Toning down the rhetoric!

Why all this "concern"? It seems that they are beginning to lose their own flocks!

According to a study reported by HuffPo:
Researchers at Baylor University found that 24 percent of evangelicals were "ambivalent," meaning they support civil unions or legal recognition of gay relationships, despite harboring a moral opposition to homosexuality.

"What you have is this increase in people coming out publicly and saying, 'I don't want to be a part of this anti-gay rights movement as an evangelical,'" said Lydia Bean, assistant professor of sociology at Baylor and co-author of the study.
What seems to be potentially interesting is that 41 percent of evangelicals lean toward being the foaming-at-the-mouth culture warriors we have come to know and love as just about the biggest reason for the amazing turnaround we've experienced in public opinion concerning gay marriage and gay rights in general. Bull Connor, George Wallace and Lester Maddox did nearly as much, in their own way, to rally public opinion in favor of civil rights as did Martin Luther King. The virulent anti-gays are doing the same.

Another 35 percent of evangelicals are "Cultural Progressives," who "remain on the outside rim of the evangelical subculture." But the 24 percent, called "Ambivalent Evangelicals" (or "Messy Middle"), "are more likely to be married, have lower levels of education, attend church more frequently, identify as born-again Christians and read their Bible more often."

In short, they are the natural fodder for the rabid culture warriors and, likely, a large percentage of their parishioners.

And they are getting tired of it!

The culture warriors' influence, financially (the donation plate) and politically (reliably turning out the voting hordes), may be slipping away as more and more people realize that you don't act "godly" by denying the basic rights of others.

In the end, this from the HuffPo piece is funny:
Glenn Stanton, director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, said the Messy Middle is a group without a well-tested conviction. He said it's not hard to understand why young evangelicals become ambivalent toward homosexuality, because of how conservatives are portrayed on sitcoms and in the news.

"Conservative people who are opposed to gay issues are just seen as bigoted bumpkins," Stanton said. "How are you not going to hold that position?"
Ummm ... maybe you could stop being bigoted bumpkins?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


One More Tilt Over

Not very well known is that the opponents of marriage equality in California have been fighting a rather quixotic rear guard action in the wake of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court's refusal to allow the Proposition 8 proponents to defend it once the state refused to continue to do so.

The Prop 8 proponents, joined briefly by the San Diego County Clerk, argued before the California Supreme Court that the ruling of Federal District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker, that the proposition violated the US Constitution, applied only to the two plaintiffs in that case and/or applied only to the two counties that were sued by those plaintiffs, Alameda (San Francisco) and Los Angeles counties. Specifically, they argued that state officials, such as the governor, attorney general, or license registrar could not order, as they have done, the other 56 county clerks to carry out the Walker order. Therefore, they argued, Prop 8 is still the law in most of the state.

In no great surprise, the California Supreme Court has rejected the argument which would have resulted in a procedural nightmare for the state. The state court was terse: "The petition for a writ of mandate is denied."

Which does not mean that the anti-equality people are done. They are, after all, the descendants of those who have fought every advance in human freedom from the very day Constantine transformed them from the oppressed into the oppressors.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Jerry vs. PZ

Non Sequitur

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Darndest Things


Saturday, August 10, 2013


Uh, Oh!

I got a DMCA notice from Blogger.

I had stolen appropriated ... um ... borrowed a graphic of "Grifters and Shills" to illustrate a couple of posts about the Discovery [sic] Institute.

It turns out it belonged to a duo that calls its oeuvre "roots music." I should have made sure no innocent bystanders were involved.

To Rebecca and John, my sincere apologies.

I should have known that no respectable grifter or shill would want to be associated with the people at the DI!


Straight from the Horse's ...

I've had a thing or two to say about the Springboro (Ohio) school board, the kindest of which is that they don't really have the courage of their convictions.

But now Richard B. Hoppe is reporting at The Panda's Thumb that the board's creationist members are ... wait for it ... getting advice from John Freshwater.

Apparently, however, the (sometimes respectable) Rutherford Institute didn't want to sully its hands in Springboro. Next up to bat is Liberty Institute (not to be confused with Mat Staver's merry band of incompetents from Jerry Falwell's faux university), which we last saw representing the Jackson (Ohio) School District in its "fight" to keep a "portrait" of Jesus hanging prominently in a public school. Liberty Institute seemingly has not advised the school board there to commit economic suicide (unlike Staver's outfit) and, so it can be hoped that it will do the minimum legal sanity for Springboro as well.

Good luck, Springboro taxpayers ... you're going to need it!

Thursday, August 08, 2013


In Which I Wholeheartedly Agree With Jerry!

Jerry Coyne has a post at his blog website that recounts the position of the Catholic Church in Ireland that objects to women undergoing chemotherapy simply being told that they should consider contraception because the chemotherapy might damage a fetus, particularly during the first trimester.

Regular readers of this blog (you few, you happy few) know that I grew up in American Catholicism in the northeast and that I harbor few bad memories of that experience, though I put it behind me as a teenager. The Church of my youth was a place where priests rarely, if ever, asked why young healthy couples only managed to produce 2.5 children or otherwise questioned the commitment of the "faithful" to all the Vatican's dictats.

Jerry is 100% right about this:
All the doctors want is a public warning that there are dangers involved in mixing chemotherapy with pregnancy, and that there are several ways to avoid pregnancy. In the meantime, people may be dying because the Church doesn't want people covering their genitals with rubber sheaths. Such is legacy of medieval theology.
It's enough to make anyone spit!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013



Non Sequitur

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

. . . . .


How to Support Science Education