Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Apparently when President Obama met with the Pope at the time of the G-8 summit he mentioned his latest encyclical which is was summarized by Hope TV as follows:
Better start stockpiling your food and guns now. This is clearly a more dire warning of the end times than all the previous 'sure' signs /end snark/.
1. A Global Government. The pope is calling for a "true world political authority" to fix the problems that plague the world. (page 67)
2. Church and State. The pope says this new political authority will make its decisions based on spiritual values. (Chapter 5)
3. The Papacy at the Head. These spiritual values cannot be derived from just any religion, since not "all religions are equal." (p 55)
4. Religion, Politics and the Economy. The church must influence all areas of society since God must have "a place in the public realm, specifically in regard to its cultural, social, economic, and particularly its political dimensions." (56)
5. Power to Enforce Law. This "political authority" must have real teeth" and "be vested with the effective power" to enforce its laws around the world. (67)
6. Control Buying and Selling. The new world governing power will institute socialistic policies for government to redistribute wealth. (chapter 3)
7. Resurgence of Labor Unions. Labor Unions are to be empowered to "play a decisive role" in the new world order. (23)
8. The Church's Goal. Pope Benedict says that this encyclical is to help achieve "The goal of the history of the human family" - to build "the universal city of God ." (7)
9. Redefining Religious Liberty. While claiming not "to interfere in any way in the politics of States," the pope redefined "liberty" as happening when the world obeys laws shaped by the Roman Church's spiritual values. According to the pope, as the church influences states to enforce its view of "truth" on others, people are set "free." "This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce." (9)
10. Immortal Souls. The non-biblical belief that man has an immortal soul helps to insure the pope's global agenda. "Man is ... God's creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul." (29)
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Maybe this is common knowledge and I wasn't aware due to the fact that I was on the inside of the Adventist system. I just had know idea that the SDA church was the lone reservoir of special pseudo-science for so long.
On a related note there was a special Creation Sabbath sermon here on October, 24. I didn't get to stay and listen, but I was hoping the audio would get posted. Looks like maybe I'll never get to see what I missed.
Monday, October 19, 2009
My voters guide came in the mail last week. I read the arguments for and against R-71. I found it interesting tough not surprising that the only organizations listed as being in opposition are religious.
I'm mailing my ballot today marked Yes on R-71.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I was pleased to notice that not once did I fear for my soul. I wasn't afraid that maybe I was wrong and I'd end up in hell after all. I didn't worry that maybe I should try to get right with Jesus just in case. I didn't even feel the need to meditate and align my chakras. I didn't waste any calories thinking about any make believe magic stuff. I did think about my family and my hope and dream and goals in life. These are things that I consider important and useful. In fact the only time anything religious came to mind was when Lori told me that I'd better be okay because she didn't want to deal with all the people that would tell her "that is terrible . . . it's so sad he turned away from the Lord".
If anyone is curious, I was having lots of muscle pain and trouble using my hands. The closest it got to a serious condition was when I couldn't get my pants off to go to the bathroom. Had a blood test and the diagnosis was Rhabdomyolysis. I must have exerted myself too much at the gym this week. The other thing I'm proud of here - besides my lack of religious guilt - was my ability to combine my major themes of atheism and body building into one post.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Now, this little internal doctrinal squabble is getting some wider exposure. Since this whole thing was thoroughly covered on Pharyngula, I don't need to say more. I'm off to find that fresh topic I hope to write about someday.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This month's topic in The Adventist World's series on fundamental beliefs is belief number six - creation. The official position is stated as:
God is Creator of all things, and has revealed in Scripture the
authentic account of His creative activity. In six days the Lord made
"the heaven and the earth" and all living things upon the earth, and
rested on the seventh day of that first week. Thus He established the
Sabbath as a perpetual memorial of His completed creative work. The
first man and woman were made in the image of God as the crowning work
of Creation, given dominion over the world, and charged with
responsibility to care for it. When the world was finished it was ``very
good,'' declaring the glory of God. (Gen. 1; 2; Ex. 20:8-11; Ps. 19:1-6;
33:6, 9; 104; Heb. 11:3.)
Which leaves a slight bit wiggle room, to adapt to scientific reality. You know, the moderate Christian position of symbolic time periods with a special 'ensoulment' of humans at some point in the recent past. However, fundamental Adventism cannot accept a moderate interpretation -
even of this easily falsifiable claim. The reason is probably clear to almost everyone, but for some reason only came into sharp focus for me after reading this article. It is this: young earth creationism is like a keystone. If it slips, it starts a cascade of failing fundamental beliefs and dearly held doctrines.
"Special creation preserves the integrity of Scripture, safeguards the loving, praiseworthy character of God, establishes the reality of the atonement and redemption, and the soundness of the seventh-day Sabbath. These reasons, and more, show why a special creation worldview matters so deeply to the Adventist message and mission."
Most important is the seventh day Sabbath, which is the nearly the entire identity of Seventh-Day Adventism. The other beliefs specifically mentioned in the article that are threatened by reality are "authority and inspiration of Scripture", "the biblical teaching of the
loving character of the Creator" and the "literal fall" of man.
This last is significant because absent a literal fall and a historical Adam who transfers sin to humanity, we no longer require atonement and redemption. No need to for Jesus to die, no need for Christianity. Clearly no religion is going to acknowledge and embrace its own obsolescence.
Although creationism is demonstrably false, I'm sort of in favor of the SDA position of holding firm. It seems to be fairly benign in practice. I don't think my science education was irreparably damaged. But, it serves to underline the ridiculousness of the religion and hopefully decrease its influence and relevance in the culture. As PZ Myers eloquently put it.
"When fundamentalists tie their faith absolutely to a claim that is easily refuted, that contradicts the evidence, and that requires them to constantly escalate their denial and delusions in order to sustain their belief, it makes it really easy for atheists to demolish their religion. We don't even need to attack religion in the classroom at all - we just calmly lay out the facts, let the students work out the conclusions, and sometimes...it's epiphany time! They realize their pastor lied to them, or was just really ignorant, and suddenly their respect for Christian authority begins to crumble away. It's not the atheist's fault, though. The lesson should be, "Don't lie to your kids,"
Monday, July 13, 2009
Not that the general conference needs any help focusing on creationism. Two articles in the latest Adventist World are devoted to focusing on literal biblical creationism. In addition to the links I posted earlier. This one is especially disturbing. It encourages parents to confront teachers and report them to the administration if they disagree with the things they teach. This could be ugly.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Nothing surprising just the usual anti-scientific creationist stuff of the literalist six day variety. This is of course the official position of the SDA church. It just seems like we'd be getting to the point where it would be considered wise to sort of stick that sort of thing in the back corner rather than emphasize it.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Any way I'm trying to be fair and so I've been reading Science Discovers God by Ariel Roth in some of my free time. First off, the book has been very predictable. All the usual subjects: Issac Newton was a brilliant scientist and a christian, living things are very complicated, some bad statistics, a few Albert Einstein quote mines and a really horrible understanding of evolution. Really nothing new. I can't decided if I'm going to feel sorry for the author or angry at him. This is a new book (2008) but he is still beating the 'irreducible complexity' of cellular flagella and the eye into the ground. Now Darwin's Black Box came out in 1995, and maybe some of these things could have been taken seriously at the time. But in the last 15 years the whole idea has been thoroughly debunked. That is in addition to the inexplicably bad explanations of how evolution is supposed to work. So, either Dr. Roth is decidedly ignorant and out of date or he is lying to influence those who don't know any better or would rather ignore what they do know. I'm leaning towards the latter explanation. Dr. Roth earned a Ph.D in Zoology. Even if it was over 50 years ago, I'm sure he had to demonstrate an understanding that surpass my slight self-directed learning. Based on that I'm convinced he is a lying scumbag. I'm also sure he is thoroughly deluded, but I do not think that excuses his deceit. Still nothing surprising here.
What is a little more interesting is the motivation for 'forgetting' the book here in the first place. I think I understand very well why it was left, and I can't blame those responsible for trying to do what they think is right. However, I also know that those that left us the book have not read it. Said it was 'over their heads' etc. So, since they aren't really sure what they are trying to convince me of and aren't interested in discussing, how do they think this is going to lead me where they want me to go?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I'm facebook friends with some people I went to school with, but who I don't know that well. For some reason this last week I got several status updates and associated comments appreciating the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The timing is kind of strange since the theatrical release was over a year ago and the DVD was released last October. In the interest of full disclosure I admit I haven't seen the movie and I'm not sure I will. I do feel like I have a pretty good idea of the content from reading many blogs and reviews, including opinions from several of the people interviewed for the movie and from reputable mainstream sources like Scientific American, Roger Ebert and the New York Times. I'm also aware of some of the entertaining events that occurred at a screening. Anyway, back to the story . . . As I normally do when encounter some Expelled love, I posted a link to Expelled Exposed. Nothing more. A person that I don't know but somehow connected in the facebook universe replies with:
Seriously. Every thinking person should watch this film. Here is a pretty good collection of rebuttals to Expelled Exposed:
While it really wasn't anything to get excited about, I resent the baseless assertion that I am not a thinking person. I may not be a thinking person, but that is not evidence by the fact that I don't agree with this stranger's appreciation for dishonest and inflammatory film making. I did not reply, but I did go to the link provided to see the 'refutation' of Expelled Exposed. What do I find? Casey Luskin. Oh well, at least now I know which of the two of us debaters has bothered
to learn a little something about science.
End of rant. Hopefully both my readers will help my fragile ego and tell me I'm really not an unthinking Darwin worshiping Nazi so I can regain my confidence and carry on the good fight for good science.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
I'm having a hard time figuring out what I enjoy the most about TAM. It is really fun to be around so many people who are rational thinking and pro-science. It is such a positive atmosphere. I know a lot of people who aren't aware of the skeptical movement view skepticism as a negative world view. They think all it is, is people sitting around saying 'moon landing hoaxers are morons, 9/11 truthers are idiots, etc.' Skeptics to generally hold those positions, but it is a secondary result of a skeptical outlook. In general skepticism is focused on understanding how the world works based on evidence and the scientific method. This is a positive stance that encourages learning all sorts of exciting things and is free from superstition and irrational guilt and fear.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Apparently the SDA church is planning a Sabbath for special emphasis on creation in October. Not much detail at this point, but it looks like they will be consciously avoiding uncomfortable details like facts and evidence.
"This isn't to enter into a debate on evolution versus creation, but to emphasize God as our creator"I'll have to see if the local church gets involved with this. It might be worth checking out. I'm probably to timid to actually say anything though, but somebody should. In promoting their anti-scientific agenda they distort reality to an astonishing degree. "
The major influence of Darwin's work was to separate God from the world"Spoken like someone who has little concept of evolution. I think that Darwin's work has had a major influence on modern medicine and agriculture, but it seems that those things are not significant.
In another example (scroll down) we see Adventist again misunderstanding or misrepresenting evolution.
"Evolutionism is not a physical science where you ... observe data and you come up with a hypothesis to explain what you have observed."There is an extensive list of examples to
contradict this statement. Tiktaalik is just one. There are probably better ones I'm not aware of as a non-biologist. Just another instance of people changing definitions around fit their beliefs.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
This is one flavor of Christianity raging against another somewhat different flavor. Add this episode to your file, for when someone makes claims for religion's benefit to society.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Dr. Novella is a neurologist and has spent a lot of time on his blog dealing with dualism. Dualism is a philosophy of the mind, that asserts that some properties of consciousness are not due to physical phenomena. This is known as Cartesian Dualism. Naturalistic Dualism holds that it is the brain that causes conscientiousness, but we don't know how.
Neuroscience supports the position that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.
- there is no mind with no brain.
- brain development correlates with mental development
- if you damage the brain you damage the mind
- different states of consciousness correlate with different brain states
- able to provoke specific mental effects by stimulating the brain (MEG)
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Now I'm looking forward to and making plans for this years TAM 7. This year's meeting will be July 9-12 at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas. There is going to be a good mix of returning and new speakers. Dr. Phil Plait, Lt. Col Hal Bidlack, Adam Savage, Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Steve Novella are returning presenters and I couldn't be more excited to see them again. The keynote speaker this year is Bill Prady, creator of the TV show The Big Bang Theory. This should be good though it will be incredibly difficult to equal Dr. Tyson's talk from last year. Overall it looks like a great mix of scientist, educators, journalist and entertainers.
This year I'm looking forward to knowing a few more people there, being a shameless fanboi getting books autographed and maybe getting in on some more of the afterhours programs like the Penn & Teller show.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Now that he has completed the project, he is releasing a book about it. Could be interesting. In the Slate article about the book, Plotz also makes a good argument for everyone reading the Bible. The Bible has had a profound and far reaching influence on western culture. It is
pervasive. We get everything form figures of speech "the writing on the wall" to a deep seated fear and loathing of homosexuality from the Bible. For those who are Biblically illiterate (this includes a huge number of nominal Christian) it could be enlightening to discover where these cultural features are derived from. If everyone was familiar with the details of the Bible it may even help to clear up the misguided notion that it is all beautiful, noble, lofty and ultimately moral.
This is one of the reasons that I don't resent my religious education. I'm no great bible reader, but I rarely come across something that I had no idea was in there. Because I spent so much time in church school I know the facts of the Bible better than lots of people who believe but have only a passing familiarity with what they say they base their beliefs on.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
We see a significant number of professed Adventists denying Bible truth so foundational that nearly all Christendom agrees upon it.I don't think that the majority of Christians these days are obsessed with a literal 6 day creation and world wide flood, and that is even for those who don't consider catholics Christian. This is a good sign that some realism is penetrating religion.
Things like a literal six-day creation (seven if you count the Sabbath) or the literal worldwide flood of Noah's day.
I did agree with the main point of the article however. I also think that Adventism and evolution are incompatible. I also agree wholeheartedly with his admonition to
Keep seeking with a fervent and honest heartWhat I reject is the condition he put up on honest seeking for truth.
As long as you stick to the Bible (and Ellen White's books and articles) you will not go wrong.I suppose if you already know the answer you want to get it is okay to limit the data you are willing to consider, but there is absolutely no way you can call that honest seeking. I thought I'd try to be unemotional about this post, but this pisses me off.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I'm really glad that I made the effort to visit as it looks like there may not be another chance here in the US. What a shame and embarrassment for Americans that one of the great scientific discoveries of our time can't even get 200,000 visitors in six months in one of the countries most pro-science cities. It was an amazing experience for me. I wish more could have shared it.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
On a positive note, they gave out free dinosaur teeth at the second meeting, which has the potential to spur honest interest in science.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I have absolutely no formal training in biology, and because of that there are tons of basic things I don't know. However, lately I've really enjoyed being a biology nerd and doing lots of reading mostly on genetics and development. Also, the Theory of Evolution is a major piece of my atheistic worldview, so the more understanding I can gain the better I can support my position.
Recently I was involved in a discussion with a creationist, which is why I ended up watching the Boonstra movie. One of the major portions of the Boonstra argument (and I think this is a standard creationist position) was that the theory of evolution doesn't explain the origin of life therefore god did it. In my discussion I repeatedly demanded that a distinction be made between evolution and abiogenesis. My point was that evolution works if life developed spontaneously, was seeded by an advanced alien race or was sneezed into existence by the Great Green Arkleseizure. I still believe that this is a correct understanding, but I need to be careful how I phrase the statement. For rhetorical purposes it is useful to make a distinction between origins and evolution, but based on the some recent research on chemical replicators (the the biology nerd in me gets really excited about) it would probably be false to say that natural selection had no part in the origin of biological life.
In the study reviewed on pharyngula and neurologica some enzymes were able to assemble themselves spontaneously from simpler chemicals. The researchers relied on natural selection to optimize the reaction. From PZ Myers:
"They started with a very rough sequence, one that inefficiently catalyzed an A + B → E sort of reaction, but that not only worked slowly, but also produced faulty products that eventually killed the reaction after a few cycles. Then they tweaked it to form a minus-strand enzyme, and then they subjected both the plus and minus strand forms to — natural selection! They made copies with mutagenic PCR (so they had a range of random variants), ran it through several cycles of in vitro selection for more efficient forms, and ended up with two RNA enzymes that were good at building copies of each other."
And from Steven Novella:
"Specifically, what they found was that when they added different versions of their self-replicating RNA with limited raw material to the same test tube, the different RNA “species’ competed with each other. The more “fit” RNA species, those better able to compete for raw material and replicate, dominated the resulting brew of RNA. Further, different RNA species combined together to form new versions of RNA - the molecules evolved - with more fit molecules being selected for."
While this is almost certainly not how life started on this planet, this is a nice proof of concept that more complex chemical structures can build themselves from simpler components.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely sayI have to admit I'm a sucker for Top 10 Lists and Countdowns, so of
all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad,
because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12
course I couldn't let this list of the Top Ten Instances of Christian
Bashing in America, 2008 pass without comment. The list includes the
YouTube video "Prop 8 The Musical" where Jack Black plays Jesus,
Crackergate and Barack Obama defaming Christianity by not being
In a country that won't elect an atheist to high public office, modified
a state's constitution to ban gay marriage, and has a healthy government
funded faith based initiatives program it seem to be a stretch to claim
that Christians are "treated like second-class citizens". Christians
have the majority, hold positions of power and are treated with undue
levels of deference, yet if anyone should want to disagree with them
they claim they are being persecuted or subjected to hate speech. I
guess I can see why Christians are desperate to be persecuted. That is
how they know that they are doing what Jesus wants them too. I just
have no sympathy for them and their over sensitive persecution complex
when it seem like they are the ones doing most of the discrimination.