Posts Tagged ‘skepticism’

Ricky Gervais answers: How Did You Lose Your Religion?

January 16, 2010

Ricky Gervais @ Big Think. •  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dknumOcNVcU

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The only part that slightly irks me is there at the end when he says “by accident,” — but I understand the colloquial shorthand used by a comedian. He’s probably more concerned with effect than precision of meaning.

Still, it’s a great to be able to distill “losing your religion” down to a precise moment like that!

Advertisements

Can Ken Ham can ham?

January 15, 2010

Around the World with Ken Ham. A, round world, Ken Ham? Where in the bible, does it say the world is round? I wouldn’t mind being literally shown, where someone literally explains, (or, this being religion, baldly asserts) that the earth is round. There is probably some apologetics for that somewhere, though. More importantly, Ken Ham comes from Australia. Atheists are having a big convention in Melbourne, and he does not approve.

Imagine—listening to a meaningless talk at a meaningless conference held on a meaningless planet in a meaningless universe! Now, that would be an uplifting conference

Alright Ken, I’ll play your game. Meaningless talk…got it….meaningless conference…ok….planet….universe….alright I’m set. So something like…..

The next generation is calling it quits when it comes to traditional church attendance, and it’s not just happening on the fringe—it’s occurring in main-line denominations as well, says a local church, pointing to national studies.

St. Luke Church in Haslett is holding an open discussion on how the church, Sunday School and families can more effectively pass on the faith to coming generations.

This 90-minute workshop will be facilitated by Nate Burmeister, director of Fellowship and Youth at St. Luke, on Thursday evening, Jan. 14 from 7–8:30 p.m., in classroom 203.

The general public is invited to attend this free forum.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! So empty, so void of life! Oh why, WHY did I chose to be on the wrong side of history?!!

Anyway, Ken Ham is obviously struggling with a bit of cognative dissonance here. I mean, he’s from Australia, and he’s a young-earth creationist.

Let those things sink in for a second.

As Fred Clark from slacktivist has pointed out, that is impressively absurd. Ken Ham is from a place with punchlines older than he claims for, say, all the existence of the universe. There are Kangaroo shits that have been around longer than Ken Ham gives for all of time.

I first was going to post about Ken Ham when the Secular Student Alliance, along with PZ Myers, went to Ham’s wretched Creation “Museum.”  Looking at various posts and videos that came out of that trip, I realized that the Creation “Museum” is really more like “The Creationist Hospital.” It is a tiny oasis in an otherwise relentless erosion of their beliefs, faith, entire world view.

Quoting Fred Clark again from the same post linked above,

The real problem with Answers in Genesis can’t be found in Genesis, or in their tortured reading of it. The real problem is that they’ve somehow become convinced that there exist two and only two possibilities. Either their particular, smallish reading of Genesis is “literally” true and the world was created in six, 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago by their particular, smallish notion of god, or else the universe and human existence within it are meaningless, a realm violence and death in which kindness, goodness, justice and beauty are nothing more than illusion. They believe that either the history of the universe is a brutally short 6,000 years, or else life in that universe is nasty, brutish and short and nothing but. They prefer the former, understandably. And any challenge to it — by argument or by exposure to science or reality — is thus interpreted as an affirmation of the latter view

This brings us back to the tragic figure of Ken Ham. The bitter apostate calling herself an atheist simply isn’t capable of organizing an international conference of like minded people. Or even imagining the point of going to such a thing.  How could she, devoting all her time to hating something she only pretends to even exists?

Ken Ham is not capable of engaging, or even honestly admitting the existence of, the people who make up the vast majority of atheists. That is a huge swath of a group that is otherwise quite diverse and fragmented.  But after the meat grinder that is Ham’s mind, it all looks the same.

We either all hate god, or all believe in nothing.  The rest is simply unthinkable.

The Hovind Hundred (and one)!

December 10, 2009

Oh no! “Dr” Kent Hovind “Ph.D” is probably too busy (in prison for tax evasion and fraud) to do much about his crappy dissertation entering public domain. In the spirit of the great Fred Clark at slacktivist, I think it may be worth checking out the rocket that launched “Dr” Kent Hovind to his intellectual orbit.

Fred Clark has been wading though the “Left Behind” rapture novels, taking his time to unpack the awfulness page by page, and I want to give Kent’s dissertation a similar airing-out with this series of posts. His “Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Education — A Project Submitted to Dr. Wayne Knight” (nice title) is a hardly comparable to the quivering theological madness that animates LeHaye and Jenkins in their awful books, but it is still worth taking a good long skeptical look at.

Both Hovind and L&J are chock full of strange, American-grown evangelical Christian fundamentalism, but Hovind is no premillennial dispensationalist. Hovind didn’t write an 11 novel fiction series to “prove” his wacky beliefs right, but at least LeHaye and Jenkins don’t try to pass their “literal” reading of the bible off as science in the classroom.

In any case, the exercise of slowly pulling apart something terrible should (might) be worth the effort for three reasons. One, to show what can pass for scholarship at unaccredited diploma mills. I have heard Hovind make a fuss over people calling out his “Ph.D”. “So what if its an unaccredited college?”, he says. Well, Hovind can now serve as his own refutation to that question.

Second, this is a chance to get a first-hand glimpse of the mind of someone dedicated to young-earth creationism. In amidst the paragraphs of endlessly repeated assertions, there may well be a few interesting and revealing thoughts, intentional or not, as to how he thinks. Even if turns out to be all dreck, its dreck straight from the source, and I like to sample my bullshit pure when possible.

Third, it will be pretty funny. Not so much for his kooky, young-earth creationist beliefs, out there they may be. Hovind, like most creationists, is piously unoriginal. It is often a point of pride to toe that young-earth line, no matter how much intellectual artillery is shelling it. But when Hovind plays the part of the apologist, or says almost anything about science — that’ll have some funny shit. I wonder how many factual errors he can pack into 101 pages? Can he keep up with the likes of Deepak Chopra for gibbering nonsense aped as science? I’ll try to compile a list and keep track as I go, so some kind of lies errors/page ratio can be found.

To give a small idea of where this Doctorate of Philosophy in Christian Education will be taking us, I will quote the last four sentences of this 101 page document. The last paragraph is five sentences, so this is our closing gesture, the final flourish. I don’t want to take Hovind out of context, the first sentence of the closing paragraph is “These honest questions deserve an honest answer.” He is referring to a raft of questions about evidence for a young earth that preceedes it. But here it is, Hovind’s parting shot:

I believe we have been lied to about the age of the earth. Satan, the father of all lies, has come up with this one to make a fool of Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 19:4 that the creation of Adam and Eve was the beginning. I believe Jesus was right.

See? Look at how tight, how concentrated, how streamlined those last 4 sentences are. Nonsense, religious nonsense, bible quote, affirmation of faith, DONE.  Now for the rest of it.

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.”