Monthly Archives: March 2008

Expelled!

Ever hear of the movie Expelled, narrated/hosted by Ben Stein? Well, I hope not. But if you have been unfortunate enough to have been subjected to that mess, I suggest you check out this website which was set up to try and counteract the damage done by the movie.

Incidentally, check out PZ Myers’ experience when he went. It’s hysterical.

Sally Kern is an idiot

I refer you to the story of Sally Kern to get some background. In summary, she said that gay people are more of a threat than terrorists.

And she’s from where again? Oh right, Oklahoma. Couldn’t have been more ridiculous unless she was from New York.

Here is a polite and moving response to that from an 18 y.o. guy whose mom died in the Oklahoma City bombing. People have been also (allegedly) sending her death threats.

Great, so she’s already a moron and we’re going to fuel the fire by having gay people send her death threats – much like terrorists would do. I think her actions speak for themselves. When people are idiots, I like to just let them go for it while pointedly mentioning how wrong they are. That way, their own comments look idiotic (like they should) and my comments don’t prove their point.

Anyway, I get free speech and everything, but hate speech? That can hurt people physically. As Tucker said in his article linked above, words are hurting the gay teenagers who are already afraid of beatings at school – now the bullies have tacit permission to beat them.

America is ridiculously Victorian. Politicians have extramarital affairs and they’re history – gone. But biggots and anti-atheists are still welcome? Priorities, people!! This is what you get by being founded by puritans. You’re “free” to be as big a dink as you want with no motivation whatsoever to develop into a mature human being.

the art of public humiliation

Why is it that after a man is found out for cheating on his wife, AND maybe doing it in a way that is illegal, she is paraded around the next day with him while he admits it?

I get the whole “stand by your man” thing. I do. Even though I don’t think I could do it, I can understand why women would want to work things out rather than give up a marriage they might have been in for the last 20 years or so. And, who knows, maybe she doesn’t care. Maybe they have one of those separate beds kind of relationships.

But regardless of the situation, I can’t for the life of me understand the mentality of a person that asks a woman to parade herself in front of millions of people in a situation of total humiliation that she did not cause and is not responsible for. I also don’t understand how these women can bring themselves to honor the request (or offer…whatever the case may be). It’s one thing to stand by your man, it’s another to have to do it in public in the midst of countless media attention.

And…they’re politicians! How could they possibly think that no one would find out about their various extracurriculars? They subject their wives (or if a woman ever gets into power, maybe husbands) to psychological distress (maybe – there’s always the “I don’t care” possibility), public mortification, and risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

Yet there she is. Standing there with a face of stoic solidarity, next to their husband while he admits to a nation that he boned a prostitute, got a blowjob from an intern, or had sex with another man.

I don’t get it.

"The Evidence for Creation"

Part 2 of my series “Pamphlet Goo: Electric Boogaloo” (it’s a long one):

Ok, so scary time is over. We know our soul is in danger and that we’re going to burn in hell if we don’t do planning steps 1-3. Now onto the powerful evidence that God put us here in the first place – apparently so we could spend the entire time fussing about our souls. But nevermind that. It’s time to learn about creation! Upon further investigation I discovered the entire passage represented here.

2. The Evidence for Creation (this is gonna be good)

For this one I’m going to take a different approach. I don’t think my summary will do this pamphlet justice. I find sometimes it’s better to let the nonsense speak for itself. Now I’d like to point out that I’m not making fun of Mennonites as individuals. I’m making fun of the information – because it’s stupid and deserves to be made fun of. I will insert comments when I just can’t take it anymore and will provide links throughout. Their text is in italics.

We live in a fascinating world of awesome beauty and amazing order. Dazzling sunsets, cascading waterfalls, revolving, planets, glittering stars, and other wonders have captivated man’s attention ans triggered much curiosity. How did it happen?

So I guess it didn’t capture women’s attention then?

Either all things have developed by natural, observable processes operating in the world presently, or they have been created by an infinitely powerful and all-wise God. There is ultimately no other alternative.

Oh, look. A False Dichotomy. Often this involves trimming down many options to two, but in this case they have added one to make two. Try to guess which, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Let us examine one of the most important questions of our day. Does strong evidence exist for creation or for evolution? If so, what is that evidence?

Well, that would be two questions, but seeing as how they can’t even understand evolutionary processes, how can we expect them to know how to count?

The universe gives powerful evidence for Creation.
The universe in which we live is a vast, orderly, majestic array of stars, planets, nebulae, and galaxies of unbelievable immensity! This earth [again not capitalized], as well as the whole universe, is not in chaos; it operates in orderly patterns and is controlled and directed by laws.

So far there is agreement with science here…wait for it.

Who made these laws? The fact of law requires a lawgiver. We know that every building must have a builder. Therefore we know that the universe, the greatest building of all, had to have an omnipotent Builder. “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). “The worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1). Ah, there it is.

First we have a False Analogy. Then we have several lines of “evidence” to support their point. Ordinarily in scientific discussions people would reference scientific documents – journal articles, textbooks, etc. – for evidence, but this publication has clearly decided to take a different approach.

The marvelous world of living things gives powerful evidence for Creation.

Why do they keep capitalizing “creation” and not “Earth”?

Scattered all over the world are countless numbers of remarkable creatures that are infinitely complex and extremely well organized. These creatures are highly specialized and perfectly adapted for their own particular environments. All function well where they are and reveal no need or “desire” for evolution of any kind.

This is a high school debating tactic. What they have done is taken reasonable information (animals are generally well-adapted to their environments) and mixed it with nonsense (animals are well-organized, evolution has a goal, the environment never changes) to make their ridiculous conclusion sound more reasonable. They have also misused the word “infinitely”.

Consider the amazing bombardier beetle.

Are you frigging serious!? The bombardier beetle again? Don’t you people have any new material? Moving on…

This odd creature has a remarkable defense that enables it to escape from its enemies.

What follows is a description about how wonderful amazing wow the bombardier beetle is – I will skip it for space.

Consider also the woodpecker, who resembles a miniature jackhammer.

What follows is a description about how wonderful amazing wow the woodpecker and its shock-absorbing head are – so I will again skip it. They amazingly don’t bring up the tongue thing, can it be they have finally given that one up?

Another testimony to God’s marvelous creation is the amazing [see they do use words like that, I didn’t make it up] defense system of a little water beetle named Stenus Bipunctatus.

I know this is nit-picky, but can anyone seriously believe that these people have even read a biology book if they don’t even know the proper notation for genus and species names? It’s Stenus bipunctatus, not Stenus Bipunctatus. What follows is a description of how S. bipunctatus evades its predators. This seems to be a new one, as a search for the species and “creationism” turned up only 39 results and I could not find an article about the use of water beetles in creation arguments on talkorigins.

To believe that such incredibly complex functions and traits of these creatures result from genetic accidents and gradual evolution is unbelievable. What good are partly developed combustion tubes on bombardier beetles? Such abnormalities are nowhere in either living creatures or in fossils. In order for them to serve their intended purpose, they had to be created perfectly and suddenly.

These statements are just blatantly false. See the above link regarding bombardier beetles, for example. No one is saying that the success of species is a result of genetic “accidents”. Furthermore, this argument assumes a lack of function for less-developed organs in a creature without taking into account alternate functions.

No living thing in the world needs to evolve, so why do some say they evolved in the past? Each is already perfectly adapted. The marvels of design and perfect adaptation in nature witness to the fact of Creation. In the endless spans of time, they could have never arisen by chance through accidental processes of evolution.

The existence of instinct in nature testifies for Creation.
In a thousand ways, instinct is in evidence in nature. Instinct teaches a bee to build a perfect honeycomb and the bird to build its own characteristic nest the first time it tries without previous experience. Instinct unerringly guides the whale, the bird, and the monarch butterfly thousands of miles in the long and amazing migrations, unguided, where they have never been before.

Curiously, they do not define “instinct”. Also, there’s little somethings called echolocation that guides whales, magnetism that guides birds, sun position that guides monarchs, and pheromones that guide bees. All of which have physical, explainable mechanisms – as opposed to God-guided magic.

Upon reaching maturity, the eel migrates thousands of miles to reach spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda. Eels from as far as Europe and Labrador make their way to these deep waters to spawn and die. The baby eels that are born here make their way across uncharted oceans to the very same shore, river, inlet, in which their parents had lived. The salmon do a similar act. This mystery, which has baffled scientists for years, gives powerful evidence of intelligence far beyond what these animals themselves possess.

I love the “mysteries that have baffled scientists for years.” Let’s do a quick Google shall we and we’ll just see how baffled scientists are on the matter of salmons.

The source of this intelligence is the Creator, who fully equipped all forms of life and enabled each to survive in its own environment. The Bible says, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of air, and they shall tell thee: or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?” (Job 12:7-9).

The fossil record gives powerful support for Creation
The geological record of fossils does not reveal a progression of development from “simple” to the complex. In spite of all the efforts of trained observers, not one change, not one change of species into another is on record. More than 250,000 different fossil species are in our museums today. If evolution took place, thousands upon thousands of these fossils should be intermediate or transitional forms.

Wrong.

If apes evolved into man, invertebrates into fish, and reptiles into birds, a whole series of intermediate fossils would show this true. The fact is that transitional forms are nonexistent in the fossil record. Marine creatures appear as marine creatures, monkeys appear as monkeys, people appear as people. For all these creatures to have evolved from supposedly lower-life forms during millions of years of time without leaving a trace is not physically possible.

There is a very good reason for this.

Chimpanzees and mankind remain distinct and separate, and the fossil record continues to widen the gulf between man and apes. Another serious problem for evolution is that if animals have been evolving into transitional forms for millions of years, then why today are there no living transitional animal forms?

Firstly, we are all living transitional forms. Why do they make a distinction between “transitional form” and “regular species”? They are all life, so what is the difference? One form of life constantly leads to another. Secondly, “man” (more sexism) and chimpanzees are distinct and separate for very good reason – we are two completely different species! We descended from a common ancestor, yes, but that does not make us the same species. Frankly, this argument is just plain childish.

Instead of the fossil record giving scientific evidence for evolution, it gives powerful evidence for a Creator who brought all things into existence at the beginning of time. “In the beginning God created” is the best explanation for origins. The universe and the entire world of living things have not come about by random chance processes of evolution or by a Big Bang.

Wrong.

The fossil record also confirms the Biblical account of a world wide flood in Noah’s day. Chapters 6-9 of Genesis tell of this catastrophe, by which God brought judgment upon the earth He created.

Wrong.

A global flood explains the abundance of sedimentary rock on and beneath the surface of the earth. In this rock, geologists find the remains of literally billions of beautifully preserved creatures and plants. All over the world these specimens bear unmistakably clear testimony of an overwhelming flood of water that sealed their fate.

Those who are unwilling to believe the truth might spend a lifetime in research laboratories, attempting to document their erroneous persuasions, but to no avail. The simple fact of Creation cannot be altered or destroyed.

Ah yes, the poor scientists, atheists, and skeptics that have waisted their lives. That’s it. Actually searching for answers to explain the wonders in nature, searching for real-world explanations for natural events (that are often much more interesting than “God did it”), not fearing eternal hellfire for choosing the wrong interpretation of the Bible, etc… Oh yes, I’m really jealous.

The Bible says, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain with their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise they became fools” (Roman 1:21, 22). These words accurately describe the condition of man apart from a personal relationship with the Creator, God. They simply will not believe, whatever the evidence.

They are making the false assumption that it is they who have the evidence and I am the one ignoring it. Newsflash creationists: you have no evidence. The so-called “evidence” was even beat down in court.

We were created to bear God’s image but because of our sinful nature, we need His mercy and grace to save us from our sins and make us holy. Through faith in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, we can become a new creation and thereby honor our Maker. The Lord invites you to enjoy new life in Him by accepting His gracious offer of salvation today. “But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

When someone admits to me that they have faith and that’s why they believe what they believe, I can leave them alone. But when they try to fight me on my turf, science, and have it both ways, that’s when I get testy. I hope you have enjoyed my post as much as I enjoyed making fun of it.

"Are You Planning Ahead?"

I’ve got a story.

So I’m walking down the street listening to Skeptoid and just as Brian is explaining to me about building 7 of World Trade Plaza allegedly being blown up on purpose, this man thrusts 2 small pamphlets at me. The one on top was entitled “Are You Planning Ahead?” and had a picture of a man looking at a calendar.

“Hmmm,” I thought. “I wonder if this is some sort of financial thing.”

I lightly brush it aside with my thumb to reveal the gem underneath entitled “The Evidence for Creation” with a scenic painting of water and fall-colored trees on the cover.

“Aaaaah-ha!” I thought, “and I thought he was going to help me with my student loans.”

How ironic that I should be listening to one of my most skeptic of podcasts as a man shoves religious propaganda into my unsuspecting grasp? Oh, the mysteries of life.

These particular pamphlets were produced by the local Mennonite church. I thought it would be fun to summarize these pamphlets so that everyone can have the benefit of my experience.

1. Are You Planning Ahead?
This pamphlet begins by giving us examples of how planning ahead worked well for some people. For example, squirrels preparing for winter, parents preparing a college fund, keeping ourselves healthy by planning meals, etc. They then liken this to planning ahead for the next world and when the poor, innocent wittle bitty Mennonite tried to explain this to the mean ogre-faced heretic on a plane one day, he wanted none of it! How sad! (The sad thing is a direct quote.)
Did you know that we have something more valuable than all of the gold and money in the world? We do, and it’s our soul. I guess our soul isn’t worth more than diamonds. I wonder what the soul’s worth is in salt? Good to know the hierarchy for future reference.
So we agree that it’s good to pan ahead for money and health, then why not your soul too? It lives forever after all. Do you want to be banished to Hell, away from God, for all eternity because you didn’t plan ahead? I didn’t think so….stupid.

  • Step 1: Plan to meet God in peace. We must repent and have our sins forgiven through Jesus (because that’s the only way possible).
  • Step 2: Plan to live for God. We can be taken to God or away from God [emphasis theirs] depending on who we “obey” – so let’s all obey Jesus!
  • Step 3: Plan to let God in your life. The only way to achieve this is through the Bible and the only way to do that properly is to go to church. I guess AA meetings don’t count.

See? It’s really easy to plan ahead. All you have to do is worship the God the Mennonites believe in (peacefully)…and believe Jesus is the only way to salvation…and studying the Bible…AND go to church. Happy souling!

They didn’t even capitalize the word “Earth”. Tsk, tsk. It’s a proper name, folks, show some respect.

Next time on “Pamphlet Goo: Electric Boogaloo”: The Evidence for Creation!

Jenny McCarthy has idiotic beliefs, spreads same

Jenny McCarthy has decided that a smattering of anecdotal reports about the effectiveness of diet and vitamins in easing the symptoms of autism is enough “data” for her liking. McCarthy’s 5-year-old son has autism and she travels around America unfortunately giving talks about the alleged benefits of natural medicines. She accuses doctors of failing to acknowledge that diets and vitamins can be used to treat autism. Newsflash Jenny: Diet and “vitamins” (by that I mean proper nutrition), in combination with exercise, are beneficial for everyone.

She says, “I’ve been speaking to moms across the country who are all shouting out the same thing: ‘This (diet and supplement intake) is working.’ It’s so heartbreaking to see the medical community not support something called diet and vitamins. And it pains us, city after city after city. I see this heartbreak on these mom’s faces. Autism isn’t covered by (medical) insurance. If things like diets and supplements are working, then why not support it? These kids are getting better and I will not shut up and will not stop fighting about it.”

Yeah, it’s really heartbreaking that the medical community would rather do things that work (cognitive training, early intervention, health and wellness, adaptive aides, etc.) to help people who have autism rather than stuff them full of vitamins, possibly without consulting a dietitian to see if that is even necessary. Why not blindly support vitamins and “natural” medicine? Because food is enough to give proper nutrition and supplements could be unnecessary, simply providing expensive pee, or harmful. “Supplements” aren’t regulated by the FDA which means they could contain anything – even harmful hormones and drugs.

Also, what is natural about a bunch of chemicals in pill form (vitamins)? Isn’t that exactly what these same people use as an argument against other medicine? Unless you’ve picked the root from the ground yourself, you can’t be sure of the ingredients of the vitamins and supplements you get in the store. Also, the root itself may contain substances that are harmful. I’ll point out the obvious cliche that, as Mythbusters illustrated, even eating poppy seeds can get you to test positive on an illicit drug test – and what is more natural than eating a plant you’ve picked from the ground? The fact is, there are many supplements on the market today that do not have sufficient clinical trials to back them up. And as they say, the plural of “anecdote” is “anecdotes”, not “data”.

I understand the emotional turmoil that goes on for parents with autism, not being able to connect with their children and not knowing what to do to help. It is a desperate situation and it’s easy to fall victim to snake oil salesmen and the latest health scheme. I feel the deepest sympathy for families in this situation. But I do not condone spreading personal beliefs that are not backed up by evidence and using public “fame” and influence to convince other families to distrust doctors, scientists, and medical research. That is despicable, regardless of my sympathy for her situation, and the medical community needs to stand up for itself.

I realize that engaging in arguments gives the air or false legitimacy to these sorts of claims, but I feel that it does far more damage in these cases for the medical/scientific community not to anticipate these problems (considering history) and launch “preemptive strikes”, so to speak. We need to get out there first and tell everyone about the amazing new autism treatments that have been shown, through research, to be effective. We need to give people hope and let them know that we can help and we aren’t out to make their lives more miserable by “ignoring” alternative treatments”. The qualified need to provide help and information so that families don’t find them in the arms of someone not qualified to give them that hope.

Blaming the victim just got a whole lot more annoying

Remember that time you were watching daytime TV and a show came on about female violence (rape, spousal abuse, etc)? I do. I learned about self-defense, never to go out by myself at night, that I’m stupid to stay with my abusive husband, and to fear every man bigger than me that I encounter in the dark.

Remember that show focussed entirely on how men just shouldn’t rape and beat women, how disgusting that behaviour is, and what they must do to help themselves stop? Hmmm….

Why is it that the responsibility for safety lies on the victim of crimes of assault and battery? If blaming the victim is not ok, then holding them responsible for prevention as well should also not be ok. If a woman goes out at night and does get assaulted, is it her fault because she didn’t take the proper precautions? Of course not. Why then do television shows about these subjects focus mainly on what women need to do to fix the problem?

This situation doesn’t only apply to women. This can apply to any situation in which one person is taken advantage of by another. For example, when someone is defrauded, bullied, swindled, etc. The phone numbers for advice are geared towards the victims reaching out for help. The commercials are about “consumer awareness” and all the things we should be paying attention to. The shows are geared towards how we can “defend ourselves” from evildoers.

This is garbage.

These predators have taken our power away and have made us responsible for everything bad thing they do to us.

If we can’t focus on prevention from the perspective of helping the perpetrators improve themselves and seek help, then we will never stop these crimes from happening. If we continue offering up well-meaning (but utterly defeating) advice, then all we do is place even more responsibility on the victims of these crimes and instill guilt that they did not try hard enough (or were too careless) to prevent what happened to them.

I realize it’s much harder to reach people when they sometimes don’t want to be helped (i.e., the perpetrators), but does that mean we shouldn’t try? We need to stop placing guilt and responsibility on the victim’s shoulders. We need to stop giving advice to women that ultimately defeats their basic human freedoms (i.e., only go out of the house at certain times of day).

We need to help people and stop crimes before they happen by placing the responsibility where it belongs – squarely on the shoulders of the people who victimize others. Fear and a few self-defense courses are not going to help reach that goal. If we spend our wholes lives afraid, whether we put these people in jail or not, they will always have gotten the last laugh.