Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Creation “Museum” — Also Ugly

January 22, 2010

You might as well put a saddle on old Ken Ham these days. That poor old dinosaur is getting ridden constantly. Every time someone bothers to write about his Creation “Museum,” they come away with the same basic reaction: “Oh, the Creation … ‘Museum.'” It is important to make a full, and distinct, “airquotes” motion with your hands, because someday in the future, it will be the gold standard for denoting sarcasm.

This time, it is A.A. Gil from Vanity Fair who gets the sour taste of Ken Ham’s “museum” (Ken Ham will be alright though, most of his audience isn’t allowed to read a sinful thing like Vanity Affair).

What is truly awe-inspiring about the museum is the task it sets itself: to rationalize a story, written 3,000 years ago, without allowing for any metaphoric or symbolic wiggle room. There’s no poetic license. This is a no-parable zone. It starts with the definitive answer, and all the questions have to be made to fit under it. That’s tough.

Ahh, so true. It reminds me again of what Fred Clark has pointed out — these people are living with a serious false dichotomy. It is a sad thing to have people living with rigid minded thinking taken to its very limit — the impossible is true, or nothing is true. After writing my previous post on Ken Ham, I poked around Answers in Genesis a little, and came across this gem. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Dr. Jason Lisle:

Materialistic atheism is one of the easiest worldviews to refute. A materialistic atheist believes that nature is all that there is. He believes that there is no transcendent God who oversees and maintains creation. Many atheists believe that their worldview is rational—and scientific. However, by embracing materialism, the atheist has destroyed the possibility of knowledge, as well as science and technology. In other words, if atheism were true, it would be impossible to prove anything!

Oh snap! I was about to get popcorn but it looks like my frail worldview is about to get face-fucked by god again! Alright, I can take it, whip it out Jason!

Laws of logic are God’s standard for thinking. Since God is an unchanging, sovereign, immaterial Being, the laws of logic are abstract, universal, invariant entities. In other words, they are not made of matter—they apply everywhere and at all times. Laws of logic are contingent upon God’s unchanging nature. And they are necessary for logical reasoning. Thus, rational reasoning would be impossible without the biblical God.

The materialistic atheist can’t have laws of logic. He believes that everything that exists is material—part of the physical world. But laws of logic are not physical. You can’t stub your toe on a law of logic. Laws of logic cannot exist in the atheist’s world, yet he uses them to try to reason. This is inconsistent. He is borrowing from the Christian worldview to argue against the Christian worldview. The atheist’s view cannot be rational because he uses things (laws of logic) that cannot exist according to his profession.

Boom! GG fellow atheists, the jig is up. We cannot be rational because you can’t stub your toe on logic. With logic like that, who needs faith? The good doctor has just explained to us, (in so many words) that the god of the bible is literally true, or else there could be no such thing as ideas. And you certainly don’t think that there aren’t no ideas right? So God exists! GG again, thieving atheists. And to think all this time I thought logic proved god wrong, I was just proving *I* was wrong, because logic proves god! Bam! Dr. Jason Lisle continues on like this, even bringing up the smelly old arguing about the existence of air bit. Such thin gas, but so foul. QualiaSoup (from youtube) has several excellent videos that discuss this kind of flawed thinking quite well.

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It is a bad place for a person to be. Unfortunately, this is the place that millions of Americans are, and where people like Ken Ham are trying to keep them. Getting them to move away from that place is going to be a lot harder than it is to make fun of Ken Ham.

Mahered and Feathered

November 19, 2009

In a shocking move, Bill Maher has done a near 180 on his vaccine position. This comes hot on the heels of his recent angry rant about getting flack over his opinions, controversial to some, incoherently false to others, regarding vaccinations.

“Like I pointed out on my show, I’ve read Microbe Hunters when I was eight. But then I realized — I had read practically nothing about it since then. I’d mostly been listening to a bunch of alternative medicine people, and none of them even liked Microbe Hunters.” began Maher, during a recent fictional lunch discussion with me.

Maher, being very smart, and not one to be suckered like the countless masses of people who do not watch his show, realized it was too late and he himself had, himself, gotten himself infected with the big Pharma’s latest disease – anti-vaccinationism.

“It came as a total shock to me one night”, Maher continued, “not like the kind of shock of like, that first coffee enema to remove the festering toxins, but, you know electric acupuncture? Like twice that. I was thinking about some of the things I said a while ago”, said Maher, citing some various, recent, beatings showered upon him on the internet, and his own show. “And I hadn’t really thought about all the things, I had actually said, were all out there – on the internet – and people just kept linking me back to my own stuff over and over and over. At the same time, I keep getting these emails, lots of them, about the “millions and millions” of lives saved by vaccines. And that’s when it hit me.”

Maher is not afraid to take anti-authority stances. He is known for being willing to deny the whole of western medicine as a scare tactic. With his new revelation idea conspiracytheory in the works, he was going to have to go once step further. He was going to need to take an anti-authority stance — with the anti-authorities.

“These weren’t your run of the mill ‘Ph.D.’ doctors we’re talking about”, Maher explains. “They were directly opposite of that, if not more so. I had just assumed because they were opposite, they were equal. But it went much further than that.”

Maher had found that night, with his own mind, the root of the entire system. “It was those millions and millions”, Maher continued, mimicking Carl Sagan’s memorable “billions and billions” quote. “Who had the most to benefit from all those people living long lives? It was obvious : Big Pharma itself”.

“I’m just asking questions here”, Maher warned. “But it looks like the medical community is secretly using dirty tricks, like these anti-vaccine cranks, to finally do away with their biggest, most arrogant mistake. Vaccines. By getting rid of all these diseases, western medicine is robbing itself of untold profits. They regret cranking out healthy kids, many with near disease free childhoods. The hospital industry has been hankering to undo the money lost ever since the CDC was formed, to rid the United States of malaria.”

“A flu shot is the worst thing you can do!” Maher exclaims angrily. “A flu shot just compromises your immune system! I said those things, on TV. How many people were tricked because I myself was tricked. I checked the evidence, it’s overwhelming how much there is, for vaccines. And now they just want to use these Wakefield charlatans to scare people off vaccines, to line their pockets again. It never ends, does it?”

When asked about his new position, Maher was cautionary about how solidly he stood. “You never really can be sure”, he explained. “My change isn’t a near 180. It’s more like a near 540. And I’m ready to do another anytime, when it comes to medicine.”

Ruse the day

November 11, 2009

Philosopher Michael Ruse has recently put up an essay about the newest new atheism news: The Schism. Or as PZ Myers has described it Deep Rifts, DEEP RIFTS! that are rending the frail alliance of non-accomodationalist new atheists and the old republic of old accomdationalist atheist vangaurd! The drama! I can’t wait to hear of the latest encyclical from the pope his most rationalist Dawkins Darwin the Fifth on the dogmatic neccesity of philosophical naturalism and its twin sister the materialist evolutionism-ist neodawinianism-ist humanist secularism.

Anyway, Ruse says,

As a professional philosopher my first question naturally is: “What or who is an atheist?” If you mean someone who absolutely and utterly does not believe there is any God or meaning then I doubt there are many in this group. Richard Dawkins denies being such a person. If you mean someone who agrees that logically there could be a god, but who doesn’t think that the logical possibility is terribly likely, or at least not something that should keep us awake at night, then I guess a lot of us are atheists.

Seriously? His first question as a professional philosopher naturally is about who counts as an atheist? What a waste. Maybe he just means on this particular topic. Sure, in a certain sense, you can only be agnostic as to whether gods exist because, Jesus Christ could come back tomorrow (or some Other , Thing…)
and strike all his believers dead rapture them to heaven, forcing a reconsideration of a few points of view.

Atheists are even more complex than a these-and-those situation. “We”, as Ruse doesn’t seem to realize, form a continuum of different beliefs, just like any other group of people you might care to imagine in your granfalloon.

Moving on,

But there is certainly a split, a schism, in our ranks. I am not whining (in fact I am rather proud) when I point out that a rather loud group of my fellow atheists, generally today known as the “new atheists”, loathe and detest my thinking. …

and then he goes on to detail all the proud detestation he has earned, at length. Its a shame all Ruse got out of PZ’s response was “clueless and gobshite“.

I have had first hand experience with Michael Ruse. Both I and slightlyharmless were at the CFI World Congress in Bethesda, MD, where Ruse made the argument that, as he later states in this essay,

If, as the new atheists think, Darwinian evolutionary biology is incompatible with Christianity, then will they give me a good argument as to why the science should be taught in schools if it implies the falsity of religion? The first amendment to the constitution of the United States of America separates church and state. Why are their beliefs exempt?

Really. He makes this argument (At Bethesda it was phrased a bit different, the content was the same). As if somehow beliefs derived from the bible are on par with hard earned science. So apparently, if a well meaning parent feeds a child bullshit, we “atheists” are to blame for science teachers contradicting the bullshit put there. This IS America, after all. Just because it’s factually wrong doesn’t mean you can’t make your kids believe it. Ruse treats creationism leading to kids being christians, and evolution leading kids to being atheists sitting on exactly the same grounds.

Its insane. Even putting aside whatever crap someone put in a child’s mind, shouldn’t any kind of real education change a child’s beliefs about the world? Any deep understanding of the sciences (or history, languages, art, literature, etc) *should* change how you view the world, because it makes you think in new, different ways.

Ruse does have the drop on me though. I didn’t know that, as a “new” atheist, “that all religion is necessarily evil and corrupting”. I had previously thought that religions in general were full of good people because churches attracted a certain kind of them, but now I will dogmatically adopt the latest decree from the lords of new atheism. I hope they tell me to think for myself soon.

Ruse asks “us”, “how dare we be so condescending?” Oh, “we” new atheists, if we could just stop being such jerks! How dare we talk about the cause or contributing factor to many problems. Tough questions! The hard, varsity level ones like “should people be treated equally under the law?”. I’d say yes, but as Maine shows, religions can be part of the problem.

I’ve started re-reading Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and this part

But to tear down a factory of revolt against a government … because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. pg 88

The “new” atheist movement has a lot to do with religion. Mostly, against it. Some people just want religiously motived (or funded) groups to stop attacking the separation of state and church, and keep the god nonsense away from politics. Others would arrest all clergy for fraud. If the approach Ruse favors could work, it would have by now, and there would be no need for the entire “movement”, because we would all have moved on to moon bases, and free oral sex for everyone, and ending hunger and disease and overpopulation and all those other real problems, real people have, in this world, now.

It seems to come down to one main point Ruse seems to have for us: just shut up already.

Oral from the masters of aural

November 4, 2009

Bats are amazing. Using echolocation, they can catch insects in the darkest skies, or swoop down and fly over a pond set up by a photographer to take awsome pictures of them. They navigate in huge masses around caves, tuning out the cacophony of sounds emitted by thousands of other bats around them. Some drink blood. They can hover, do precise landings, and some of them can even run.

All the flying, echolocation, vampirism, and eating insects, may leave you thinking we have almost no good way to relate with our flying cousins. You would be wrong! What’s something most all humans (and those horndog bonobos) love? You guessed it, Oral Sex. To the Bat-J!

But this just raises so many questions. If 70% of females do it, and it improves chances for reproduction, are they the only ones that do it? Homosexuality exists in many animals studied, and bats may be no exception. Maybe they fill in for the 30% of females who don’t do like oral. So even bats could have “the trade” going on in those massive cave roosts.

Even more interesting than that: Are bats better at it than us? Think about it, we thought we were the best at it, but that was ’cause we just thought we were the only ones that did it. And of course we’re better at than those bonobos, we win almost every ape contest hands down, except for brute strength and having a tail. Bats though? Bats have been around a lot longer than we have, about 50 million years. That’s a lot longer than we have been around, even generalizing to the homo genus, which gives us around two million years.

The oral sex of millions of years ago was no doubt primitive to the oral sex we modern mammals are enjoying, but bats have been doing it for roughly 25 times as long (or at least could, who knows if the earliest ones did, lets just assume they figured out it was great pretty quick). Twenty five times the time for generations and generations of bats expertly licking penises. The mind reels.

Get the damn flu shot

October 6, 2009

I’ve now run into three people who expressed skepticism about the flu shot. Two of those people were involved in the medical field. People. Who work in hospitals. Not talking up vaccines. This blows my mind. The last flu epidemic killed as many people as WW2. It took a lot of nasty work to kill 50 million humans in WW2. The flu killed 50 million people by existing in a nasty strain for a while.

“I never get flu except when I get the vaccine”, “I’ve never gotten the flu before, why should I get the shot?”. These were two of the attitudes of people I ran into over the last few weeks. Not getting the flu, (yet) doesn’t mean you can’t get the flu (ever). I would even think that, as a person who’s never gotten the flu in recent memory, that being vaccinated would be the best way to avoid getting the flu without actually having to get sick. But you know, thats just based on what the the CDC says.