Sal Cordova’s idea of a hit film January 29, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Religion, Science, wingnuts.
I see a great ending for this film: God laughs evilly from heaven as the young lovers prepare to down. Unfortunately, Sal’s also a fan of the “hydroplate theory,” and so before everyone drowns, they–including Noah–are vaporized.
My favorite part, though, is that Sal thinks it will inspire people to “uncover the mysteries of the great flood.” Sadly for Sal, “Magic Man Done It” is still not a scientific hypothesis. And pop culture nonsense is still not a way to do science, or else we’d be using Dinosaurs as household appliances.
But don’t tell Sal: if he gives up on his movie dreams, he’ll just go back to fantasizing about “Darwinists” molesting animals.
Apparently heaven is not as awesome as we’ve been led to believe January 24, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in News and politics, reproductive rights, wingnuts.
I must admit to occasionally being confused by how anyone finds the traditional Christian version of heaven appealing. Even leaving aside the fluffy white clouds and baby-faced angels of pop culture, I wonder if sitting around singing praise songs and contemplating just how swell a guy God is strikes anyone as the best way to spend an eternity. I bet even good Christians are bored in church sometimes.
But what I really can’t figure out is why people who think that the afterlife is a perfect, eternal paradise always seem so worried about getting there. Maud Flanders once lamented about a near death experience that she was terrified that she was about to spend an eternity in paradise. While I tease, I understand that even belief in an afterlife is often cold comfort, even when it is believed in rather firmly.
But what really amazes me is when Christanists get so caught up in their causes that they denigrate their own idea of heaven:
Yes, it must be absolute hell up in heaven for all those fetuses. Now I realize that Varvel obviously doesn’t intend to lament how all those poor babies ended up in heaven, but authorial intent isn’t everything. And this cartoon depicts aborted fetuses lamenting that they got to heaven so quickly. I wonder if Varvel would be as willing to condemn god for the billions of naturally aborted fetuses, and the billions of children who were born and never made it to their first birthday.
Actually, I don’t wonder about that. Obviously he doesn’t worry about such moral problems, or the cartoon should have depicted instead the baby complaining to God about how poorly designed a system is when an estimated 15-20% of fertilized eggs never implant on the uterine wall.
But all that would require an understanding of complexity and nuance that this cartoonist is obviously incapable of displaying. After all, he’s advocating that women be forced to give birth to babies, many of whom, in Christian doctrine, would grow up, live their lives, and go strait to hell. Presumably he’d okay with that, as at least they get to blow out birthday candles once a year for eternity.
You’d think people like Varvel would take a moment to think about what they’re really saying. But I suppose thoughtfulness isn’t a trait that’s selected for in the world of wingnut cartooning.
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A Roman Catholic archbishop said Tuesday that he will ask officials of Saint Louis University to take “appropriate action” against its basketball coach, who said in a television interview that he supports abortion rights.
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke says he’s concerned abortion rights comments made by basketball coach Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus (above) could “lead Catholics astray.”
One of the game’s winningest coaches, Rick Majerus made the comment at a weekend rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke declined to say what the action against Majerus should be, saying that was a decision for the Jesuit university. But he said the coach is a leader and shouldn’t support views in opposition to church teaching.
“I’m concerned that a leader at a Catholic university made these comments. It can lead Catholics astray,” Burke said by telephone as he attended March for Life anti-abortion events in Washington. “I just believe that it’s of the essence for people to understand as a Catholic you just cannot hold these beliefs.”
Apparently Archbishop Burke believes the personal opinions of other people are worthy of punishing. Is anyone really surprised? I guess Burke figures the best way to draw people back to the church is to tell them what they can and can’t believe.
It must really bother him how many Catholics don’t base every opinion on what the official church stance is. I can understand that: after all, authoritarians don’t do well when people think for themselves. It seems the upper levels of the Catholic Church just can’t stand that they don’t get to control what their parishioners think.
The good news is it’s highly unlikely that Majerus will get in any trouble. See, the Archbishop might not like it, but Majerus is one of the most respected coaches in the nation. I have a feeling continued basketball success will rank somewhere above the Archbishop’s twisted panties on their list of considerations.
And I’m sure this was just a coincidence that this blowup happened after a Clinton rally. Without Kerry to kick around anymore, I guess they have to find other tactics but denying candidates communion to push their agenda on others.
Hopefully the so-called Libertarians will be all over this one… January 23, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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..but unfortunately I suspect that many will be in a hurry to defend this horribly-argued piece of trash over at the Cato institutes’s blog. The poster, Andrew J. Coulson, makes the old mistake of thinking that science is a democracy:
Free schools to teach science properly if they so desire, and quit fooling yourselves into imagining that you can force the rest of the public to understand science by having government ram it down their throats. Make science humble, exciting, and welcoming again, in the vein of Carl Sagan and Jacob Bronowski, instead of calling our religious fellow citizens rubes or worse, and treating them like recalcitrant children.
Yeah, I’m absolutely sure Carl Sagan would be thrilled with the idea of teaching anti-science in science classes. </snark> And since when is providing an education ramming anything people’s throats? Imagine the outrage if he’d suggested we teach English classes by providing “alternate theories” on how to punctuate, or if we let students decide which math was correct. Of course no one would ever be taken seriously if they advocate that, because facts don’t changed based on how many people know them.
I suspect that in Coulson’s ideal world would have the government having no say in schools. But the rest of us, for those who actually believe that education our children is an important goal, know that we must take a stand against misinformation. We can’t let local school boards teach Creationism as science, because it isn’t science, it’s religion. We can’t say “let people dictate to their own schools what is taught” if that would violate the First Amendment by promoting religion, and if it would ruin science education out of a misplaced desire to let popular opinion control curriculum.
Maybe Coulson doesn’t understand why school boards bring in experts to recommend curriculum, to set outcomes. Maybe he doesn’t get why we should let scientists, not those who are randomly polled, tell us what science is. But he should, because personal liberty isn’t supported by encouraging schools to teach religion as science: it is destroyed. Coulson would have us give up the fight in light of the fact that some people don’t believe in evolution. He would deny many of our children an education in the name of freedoms he clearly does not understand.
What possible reason could there be for teaching non-scientific explanations in a science class? If there were other scientific explanations than evolution, no one would object to offering them in biology classes. There aren’t, so we don’t. Is Coulson favoring intellectual affirmative action?
It certainly seems so. I would also ask why Coulson thinks high school science classrooms are the appropriate place to decide on the scientific merit of ideas. We don’t let high school students decide for themselves how geometry works, what the boiling point of water is, or how Spanish should be pronounced. Why would we let them pretend they (or their parents, or school board members, or teachers) are experts on evolutionary biology?
As a final aside, I should note that many of the values espoused by groups like Cato are right in line with my progressive beliefs. So why does it so often happen that in practice, so many so-called Libertarians seem to side with the enemies of freedom? I sincerely hope thoughtful Libertarians will speak out against Coulson’s stupidity.
D. James Kennedy: why do these upstanding moral leaders rely so heavily on dishonesty? January 23, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
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D. James Kennedy today released his latest in a long line of historically inaccurately screeds, this one against evolution. No transcript is available at the moment, but you can get an idea of Kennedy’s tactics from the blurb at the above link:
Just how flimsy is the case for evolution? Even Darwin himself said, “Not one change of species into another is on record.” So why do his followers continue to support his crumbling theory? Find out, on Truths That Transform with Dr. D. James Kennedy.
Naturally, that quote is irrelevant, since Darwin built up an impressive case for evolution, and since then we’ve expanded that to an overwhelming avalanche of evidence for evolution. What’s worse, though, and surely a, ahem, respected scholar like Kennedy should have known, is that Darwin never said that. He said something moderately similar, in the context of explaining the strong evidence for evolutionary theory, but he never wrote or said the words Kennedy attributes to him.
The whole of the sermon is similar to that slip-up: quote-mining, out of context nonsense, claims without a word of evidence, gibberish about every evil “ism” in the world, from Nazism to communism, being caused by Darwin, and the usual argument from consequences that has absolutely no merit.
I don’t recommend listening to it unless you have a strong stomach.
But anyway, you don’t have to: Kennedy demonstrates in his blurb that he cares nothing for the facts or the evidence. He demonstrates he’s either a liar or completely incompetent, and either way he should not be taken seriously. It’s staggering pathetic. It would make me laugh how easy it is to refute Kennedy, if it wasn’t for how large and credulous an audience he has–and many of his ilk have.
Blog for Choice Day 2008 January 22, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Blogging, Morality, reproductive rights.
I’ve tried to think of something to say about why I’m for reproductive choice that hasn’t already been said better by any number of wonderful bloggers (a few exhibits: 1, 2, 3). I don’t think I can match their high standard, especially today as a new semester begins and I am short of time.
So I’ll keep this short. I’m male, and one reason I’m for reproductive justice because there are women in my life: friends, sisters, my wonderful girlfriend. They’re wonderful, brave, intelligent, beautiful people, and they live in a world that consistently attempts to dehumanize them. They’re told they’re only worthwhile for their wombs, that they’re dirty when they have sex and useless when they don’t reproduce.
One particularly horrific manifestation of this desire to punish women and control their bodies is the move to take away their reproductive choices. In the US, this tends to involve forcing them to give birth. In other places and at other times, it involves forcing them not to reproduce. But it’s all based on the same impulse: to make sure women can’t take ownership of their own bodies, because once they own their bodies, they’re just that much harder to control.
I support reproductive freedom because I love the women in my life, and because I’m sick to death of those who would demean, degrade and dehumanize them. I work to be conscious of the privilege that’s afforded me as a man, and the very least I can do is speak up when I see assaults on the rights of women. When they take away a woman’s bodily autonomy, they are doing their very best to make her less than human. That devastates women, devastates us all.
There have been times in my life that I was hesitant to raise my voice on those issues that touch others more directly than they touch me, but if I remain silent, I am part of the problem. So I will speak out; I will do my best to be an ally of women, and to support feminists.
And that’s one more reason why I’m proud to be a blogger for choice.
Obama gets this one absolutely right January 21, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Morality, Politics.
I’ve made no secret of my irritation with Obama over his right-leaning rhetoric, praise for “bipartisanship” that’s code for giving in to conservatives, and his refusal to take a stronger stand against homophobia. His recent praise for Ronald Reagan didn’t do much to impress me either. But I’ll give this to the man: what he had to say the other day about bigotry was spot on:
For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.
We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.
Now that’s a message of inclusion I can get behind. Well said, Mr. Obama. I hope we see more of this from you in the future.
Remembering Dr King January 21, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Morality.
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Like many others, I would like to take a moment to remember the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. The legacy of the civil rights movement remains vibrant, but unfortunately we still have a great deal of bigotry to overcome. I’ll let Dr. King say it better than I ever could:
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
If you haven’t read the whole thing recently, you should do so.
Did ID finally make predictions? January 20, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in Origins, Religion, Science, wingnuts.
Not really. Denyse “Buy My Book” O’Leary thinks that she’s come up with a list of nine ID predictions, and they’re unbearably silly.
1. No good theory will be found for a random origin of the universe, either by the Large Hadron Collider or anything else. The universe will consistently behave more like a great idea than a great machine.
Quote of the Moment, ancient poetry edition January 15, 2008Posted by Evil Bender in language and lit, Poetry.
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Today seemed like a good time to give a hat-tip both to that wonderful book of ancient poetry, Ecclesiastes, and to an insightful and hilarious essay on language, Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. I don’t agree with Orwell on every point, but he does make the single best example of bad prose that I’ve ever read:
Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.