Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
The creep of creationism in Texas is not limited to the public school system, which is often held intellectual hostage by backward members its Board of Education, as was discussed in other posts of mine. No, it doesn't end there, for Texas State Rep. Leo Berman wishes to give full scientific legitimacy to biblical literalism at the graduate level. Berman has introduced House Bill 2800 (PDF), which would exempt purely private, nonprofit schools from the authority of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board when it comes to the certification of master's degrees. While the legislation is actually quite sweeping it its implications, Berman's purpose is to allow "schools" such as the Institute for Creation Research to offer Master of Science degrees in, yes, creation science.
Per Nora Zimmett of Fox News, I'm going to let Berman speak for himself here, for he does it better than I could paraphrase:
Things are getting really scary in Texas. I'm not kidding. Something is bubbling in the Lone Star State, and it has the stink of 100 percent pure crazy.
First, science communicator Bill Nye was booed during a lecture in Waco for insisting that the Moon reflected light from the Sun. Then we have Chuck Norris advocating for secession and installing himself as president of Texas, presumably as part of Glenn Beck's lunatic "let's bring back the utter terror we all felt after 9/11" faux-movement ("We surround them" he assures his nitwit followers).
But you already knew about that, right?
Tonight I discovered a couple more things that scared the hell out of me. This post will cover the first, because I don't want to give anyone any ulcers.
Roy is a freakin' genius, and so funny. Check it out!
(Tip of the do-rag to Daniel Floren over at Unreasonable Faith!)
Here is a (Christian) set of videos about science that takes apart not only Creationism, but also Intelligent Design in support of traditional science.
I'd like to get some feedback evaluations and reactions to his presentations.
A report from the Pew Forum on belief in evolution is remarkable not only for its parsing of the various faiths' perceptions of evolution, but for what it says about how many atheists/naturalists/brights we actually have in America, and indeed, what it says about its own methods of categorization.
Take a look at their handy little graph (h/t Andrew Sullivan) showing what percentage of each religious group thinks evolution is the best explanation for humanity's origins:
Do you agree with Darwin’s theory of human evolution?
Does Parade's readership consist entirely of biologists? Are those that frequent its website all taking graduate-level courses in genetics? Are they sporting lab coats as they click the little radio buttons on the poll, having just put down this week's edition of Science?
A headline from the Las Vegas Sun caught my attention:
Raelians upset about incident at McCarran while awaiting spiritual leader
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The school board of a small central Ohio community voted Friday to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and burning the image of a cross on students' arms, according to the Associated Press.
The back-pedaling and loud protestations of injured innocence by this wack-job's attorney and friends are certainly amusing.
[link] John Freshwater discussed his creationism beliefs, disregarded evolution and failed to follow the standard curriculum while teaching eighth-grade science at Mount Vernon Middle School, board officials said.
An investigation revealed he continued teaching his beliefs even after he was ordered to stop, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported Saturday.
The investigation found Freshwater said homosexuals are sinners and branded crosses into some students' arms, the board said.
Freshwater's attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton, said his client's rights to practice religion were infringed and he plans to call for a hearing with the school board to fight the dismissal.
Hamilton said the allegations are "fabrications created by a couple of students … Not a single child has ever been harmed."
"Well, except for the whole 'burning a cross in their forearm' thing, yeah. Except for that." continued Freshwater later. "But that was really just, um, a science experiment. Yeah! That's it! That's the ticket!
"You can ask my wife - ah, um, ah... Morgan Fairchild!"
All I can say is that if my kid had come home with anything at all fucking burned into his arm by his teacher, then I would have gladly gone to jail for assault. However, the teacher would have gone to the hospital with multiple injuries and burns made with the same tool that he used to burn my child.
'Big Science' is always suppressing The Truth with their blatant pro-evolution anti-wacko agenda: from the fact that UFOs built the pyramids to the reality of creationism and fact the universe is "Turtles All The Way Down". It is time to fight back and urge schools to Teach The Controversy with these intelligently designed t-shirts.
And now through the 30th they're having a 25% off summer sale! Excellent!
I just read this on Wired News:
The Florida Board of Education officially upheld evolution yesterday.
In a 4-3 vote, the Board accepted a proposed curriculum that makes evolution central to public school science education.
Until now, Florida's schools weren't required to teach evolution. The old curriculum guidelines didn't even mention it by name.
The 4-3 vote was obtained by including a last-minute amendment to the standards. Suggested last Friday by religious conservatives and dubbed the "academic freedom proposal," the amendment required that the curriculum's references to "evolution" be replaced by the "scientific theory of evolution."
The amendment's supporters called the language change a victory -- and it is, though not in the way they imagine.
The biotech industry inserted a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that is responsible for creating a toxic protein into cotton to protect it against the bollworm moth. So now we have fields of human genetically modified cotton in fields across the south. Talk about putting pressure on the bollworm moth caterpillars. In response they have evolved a resistance to the Bt protein!
1. God is taking time out of controlling world affairs and answering prayers to mess with the genetics of the bollworm moth so they can live to destroy the US cotton crop. (Maybe God really wants to break out his polyester from the 70's again.)
2. We have some more compelling evidence to add to the evolution "debate".
Florida State Board Of Education member Donna Callaway gets it so wrong that it's painful to read.
[link] Donna Callaway, a former middle school principal from Tallahassee, told the Florida Baptist Witness that evolution "should not be taught to the exclusion of other theories of origins of life."
She also said she hoped Christians would pray over the issue. "As a SBOE member, I want those prayers," Callaway said. "I want God to be part of this."
Evolution is not a "theory of origins of life", number one, and number two, the Christian God cannot, by law, "be a part of" the Florida State Board Of Education - unless you rescind the United States Constitution, or secede from the union.
But you've all heard this before, time and time again. It's been said, over and over, a thousand times or more. The facts are always the same; ignorant Christian creationist who does not understand what evolution is, or what science is gets elected to the school board. Then they convince other ignorant Christian creationists on the school board to "teach the (nonexistent) controversy" by reading the religious tracts put out by the Discovery Institute, WoTM, or Dr. Dino. Overworked civil-rights defenders like the ACLU and FFRF take the school board to court and win. Many indignant news stories and op-ed columns are written about the evil atheist plot to persecute innocent Christians by teaching science instead of Christian mythology in - ahem - science classes. Overwrought email chain letters get forwarded to everyone and their grandmother shouting about the nasty atheists and their evil plan to barbecue all the Christian children in the public school system for the crime of being Christian.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Things like this make me tired. It feels like we're bailing out a leaky boat with plastic beer cups. I mean, were doing something, going through the motions, making a lot of noise and fuss, but the reality of the situation is that the boat is filling up too fast. I fear that we are sinking, and that there is not a lot we can do to prevent it.
Still, we'll keep on bailing because what else can we do?
Why is it that I want to tag every religion-related post with "Stupid Human Tricks"?
The really sad part? 43% of your fellow Americans (assuming you're here - the rest of the world already knows how crazy we are) basically agreed, saying the following statement was true: That God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.
So, when do we get cake? I need something to buffer the bottle of vodka I just got to help me forget this...
I know you are supposed to actually read a book before you give it a positive review, but I have never been one to follow the rules.
I just finished watching a C-SPAN2 program called Book TV that featured an author named Peter Irons and his new book called God on Trial: Dispatches from America's Battlefields. Mr Irons is a brilliant man and spoke for a little over an hour about some very famous cases that have come up before the Supreme Court or are pending review by the Supreme Court. These cases include The San Diego Cross, the 10 Commandments in Austin and Kentucky, and the Intelligent Design in the Dover Pa. schools. He also discussed the Rev. Barry Lind and his organization called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, as well as Michael Newdow and his lifelong battle to remove god from the pledge and our currency.
For three years the priests would eat a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another three years and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which contains Urushiol (same stuff that makes poison ivy), normally used to lacquer bowls. This caused vomiting and a rapid loss of bodily fluids. Finally, a self-mummifying monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would not move from the lotus position. His only connection to the outside world was an air tube and a bell. Each day he rang a bell to let those outside know that he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed.
Well, shoot. There's 2 minutes and 5 seconds of my one and only life I'll never get back. I could almost feel my brain cells atrophying as I watched this. Creationist Chuck Missler takes evolution-denial to a hilariously all-time low.
I sure hope that we make it through the next few years because shit like this is just depressing.
(If you just want to get to the point and avoid much background bio, read just the first and last paragraphs.)
Now, I am not a philosopher, did not study philosophy in school or in college (took a logic course to satisfy that requirement), and have no formal or informal education in philosophy. What I have are my brains and my experience. I have noticed that in plenty of areas of life I have reached conclusions of personal philosophy about which people spent the time to write complete tomes. Anyone else here experience this?
Like Brent, around the age of 16, I abandoned faith as nonsense. It was a gradual procession throughout life but got a kick start with my father (the ordained, born-again, intermittently evangelical Presbyterian), when I was around 12 years, who said to me with no viciousness mind you, 'I've done what I think is right in bringing you up but you obviously can't accept faith as openly as I have. You have a different path to follow and you need to find that on your own.'
So, now that science seems to be closing in on a genetic or at least developmental basis for homosexuality, the Religious Right is taking an interest. Why? So they can stomp it out, of course.
Now, I'm not gay, and I don't have kids, so in one sense I don't have a dog in this fight. But saying that is like saying that I don't care what happens down in Gitmo, just because the likelihood of me ever winding up in that situation is nil.
Besides, I like the hypocrisy of how the Religious Right will disavow the power of science to determine truths about some things, and yet embrace other aspects of science when it conveniently fits with their agenda.
First of all, I apologize for my (second) long absence. In addition to finding out I had to move and then actually having to move within the course of 30 days, I had two family members die - one before and one after Christmas, so this has been a pretty hectic and emotional time for me these few months.
One of the first things I noticed (other than the fact that when you reach the age of 35 your friends and family will no longer help you move) was how death brings people from all religions together, but tends to exclude atheists. If death is the end, then what does it matter? Why even bother attending a funeral if you don't believe in God? It can be very upsetting and sometimes depressing to realize that one day it will be me that dies. It is a very hard reality to face.
But I also spent a good bit of time watching astronomy shows with my son (thank you Science Channel), who wants to be an astronomer when he grows up. (It is amazing to hear a 10-year-old boy tell me that he wants to invent a telescope that will allow humans to see ‘dark matter’). One scientist made a particularly astounding comment, and I paraphrase; ‘every molecule of matter on this planet and in our bodies was forged in the center of a star somewhere. So when we study the universe, we are actually studying ourselves.’
I've been thinking about the premise of The Fall which is central to the Abrahamic faiths. Even more important than the various methods of saving the soul from sin is the principle of why sin exists and why one needs to be saved from it. In addition, it has acted as a backward-looking brake on the progress of mankind because it asserts that once everything was great, but now things have decayed--which makes obvious that regression is more profitable than progress.