The “Values Voters Summit”

I just can’t believe this actually happened, and that these nitwits are still being taken seriously as candidates for the presidency of the most powerful nation, ever. (Better coverage at goodasyou.org). All for their ability to pander to a crowd over moral panic issues .
Take for example Fred Thompson’s position on the judicial system. I’m not making this up, see the video in which he promises to make a constitutional amendment to limit the power of the judicial branch of the United States Government. His reason? Moral panic about “Judges legislating from the Bench”. This man refuses to understand that the separation of powers was designed specifically to stop tyranny from any one branch. Considering that it takes a lot more education, a much better understanding of “the rule of law”, and presumably a better grasp of how to separate bullshit from the truth, to become a Judge than to become a Congressman or President, I feel we should be handing the courts more power, not permanently taking power from them.

My only hope at this point is that the Republican/NeoCon vote will be split so at least we’ll have a President who’s interested in the affairs of the world we actually live in, rather than some imaginary one where it’s a good idea to enforce “the sanctity of life” and other bullshit issues by power of law.

Actually there is some hope for this: the straw poll at the “Value Voters Summit” has Romney winning. CNN has him trailing Guiliani by a big margin.

Food for thought: if our laws were all made by majority rule based on “values” (as interpreted from teh pulpit out of teh damn bible) back in the 1860s, Romney’s LDS church would have been crushed by the ruling church of the time, and laws passed to justify the action. Put that in your pipe and feel self-righteous about not smoking it!

Grrrr, I don’t have the time to go through all of this and make a good, coherent posting (yes I have a life), but let me just say that if these are the grounds upon which our population decides its next President, then there’s a lot of doom forthcoming. Try googling the term “dark ages”.

Top Ten Proofs that Creationists are liars

or perhaps just greedy. Definitely intellectually dishonest.

I refer the reader to toptenproofs.com which is a site that exists literally to sell you apologetic reasons to believe in God. I will save you some money by telling you, pro bono, that each of the reasons can be simply and easily debunked by any person willing to examine the reality in which we actually exist.

I’m just going down the list, destroying the first argument of the first claim of each of the CDs on sale at the site.

Claim: Christianity is the Only True Religion
First evidence offered:

Jesus is the only “religious leader” who actually claimed to be God on Earth, in the flesh

Refutation: Google the following (in roughly chronological order).

Just for fun, I thought I’d mention that the website author’s subsequent claim is that John is an eyewitness of Jesus’ life, when all lines archaeological and other evidence show that, at best, the gospel of John was written decades after the reported death of Yeshua of Nazareth. This is acknowledged almost universally by anyone who’s studied the bible beyond just reading a modern english translation.

Claim: God’s Existence
Evidence provided:

For example, if I see a beautiful sand castle on the beach with intricate design, but no one there along with it, I can not “prove” someone made it.

Refutation: This is the much abused, and very unhelpful “Argument from Design”. We recognize designed objects not by their complexity, order or beauty, but by knowledge about the designer and contrasting them with naturally occurring objects. It is intellectually dishonest to refuse to recognize this once it has been pointed out.

Claim: Evolution is scientifically impossible
Evidence Provided:

So much of the evidence presented in school textbooks, science journals and consequently the secular news media is just partial evidence. People can be made to believe just about anything if they are only given part of the evidence, but when all of the evidence is presented, the truth has a funny way of coming out

Refutation: Wow, that’s true. Shame we don’t have several man-years to invest in proper thorough demonstrations of all the facts, per student. If we made that investment, this would be the smartest nation in the history of mankind within one generation. I wonder whether we’d start with masters’ degree courses in astronomy, statistics, geology, biology, atomic theory, chemistry, nuclear physics, or quantum mechanics (per student) first? Or should we just try to teach these things all at once? Get real. We teach our kids only the basics because they’re only going to listen for so long, then start focusing on lunch, or the kid sitting in front of them, or sex.

There are, in fact, endless catalogs of scientific journals and other literature being distilled into what is taught to our kids. I wouldn’t want to try to read them all, and neither should you.

Claim: for the physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Evidence provided:

None of us were around when George Washington was President, so technically, we can’t “prove” he was President, however, if there is enough historical documentation attesting to his Presidency and corroborated historically by enough eyewitnesses, combined with absolutely no documented claims denying these facts, logic demands we accept his Presidency as historically true. To deny this would be illogical and unscientific.

Refutation: I LOL’d when I saw this opening argument. The difference, of course, is the volume and quality of historical documentation and corroboration involved. I don’t have the numbers but surely at least a bare majority of the electors in the electoral college of 1789 believed he existed at the time. Wait, we’re talking about George Washington? That’s 100% of the electoral college (69 reasonably educated and duly appointed men) who must have at least had contemporary knowledge of his historical existence. Not that I’ve read them, but it is certain that the Library of Congress has an endless collection of documents of myriad purposes and forms, about or addressed to our First President.
This argument is being made by someone who most likely believes in a literal reading of a collection of ancient poems and stories that only claims 44 authors, but doesn’t try all that hard to assert that it was never edited. This book incidentally includes the tale of a man who killed 10,000 men, solo. Consider: even using the gentlest possible way to slay a person with the jawbone of an ass, would it really hold up to ten thousand repetitions of that same action? In the conditions of hand-to-hand war, is Samson likely to have survived long enough to have done this gently? How reliable can the bible be? [Edit 2007-09-18: turns out it was only one thousand. Guess they’ve got me now]

More Evidence provided:

History records from eyewitnesses that Jesus Christ actually died and then 3 days later rose from the dead and was seen by 500 men over a span of 40 days.

Refutation: Many accounts do exist. But do they all tell the same story? I haven’t read every scrap of parchment ever dug up in the area that dates to 30CE, but I do suspect that since the 4 gospels, selected by majority vote of a council who did (whose purpose was to canonize the scraps that most agreed with each other to form a doctrine), don’t even tell the same story, it is quite possible that the 500 men who saw him, well, didn’t. To claim that all the four gospels agree is dishonest. To assert that hundreds of accounts that don’t agree count as historical corroboration, is even more dishonest.

Claim: America’s Christian Heritage
Evidence Provided:

that out [sic] Founding Fathers believed in a BLENDING of Church and State, not a separation.

Refutation: This is a joke on its first face! Next assertion please.

Better Evidence Provided:

I remember saying “Fisher Ames, the author of the 1st Amendment said the Bible should be taught in schools, but you say a teacher even having an open Bible on her desk is a violation of the 1st Amendment, so I’m curious…..who do you think knows more about the 1st Amendment, the guy who WROTE it, or the ACLU, 200 years later?” I couldn’t believe my ears when the ACLU actually said to me “we do”. They actually said that.

Refutation: Can’t dispute his argument that Fisher Ames was concerned about the bible not being properly used in every classroom. But Ames and the other Founding Fathers had direct historical memory of the tyranny of the official (“blended”) state church, and would have wanted to prevent that. The prohibition of using the bible as a textbook comes from two powerful ideas. 1) the bible isn’t such a great text for teaching morality or history, viz Jefferson or Paine. 2) use of any religious writing as a textbook by any instructor with a captive audience does in fact Establish religion. The ACLU’s “We do” argument is surely based on subsequent Supreme Court opinions, which are as legally binding as the Bill of Rights, but more easily modified.

Claim: Dinosaurs Lived With Man
Evidence Provided:

First, dinosaurs were nothing more than reptiles that continued to grow. Most people are unaware of the fact that reptiles never stop growing in size.

Refutation: Wow. So, why don’t we see giant-sized reptiles now? The biggest ones (crocodiles to my knowledge) get up to about 20 feet. Even when they’re over 130 years old, like the “first humans”. Even in places where food is plentiful. Dinosaurs had to have grown more quickly. Fact: Very few dinosaurs looked like anything alive today. More facts: Dinosaur fossils are not found with human fossils. Ever. The strata in the geologic column tell a story that cannot be explained away by the great Flood. Why? Because reptiles that are alive currently also show up in the fossil record contemporaneously with humans, but dinosaurs never, ever do. Rabbit fossils never show up in the Pre-Cambrian strata. There is a mechanism that explains this, called geologic time. It’s real. To deny this is dishonest. Liar.

Claim: Theistic Evolution is Not Biblical
Actually, I don’t have a problem with this one. It is clear “prima facie” that the authors of the bible had no concept of how old the earth actually was, or any rigorous theories on the origin of species.

But I will mock this single assertion: “[T]he Bible does not say the Earth is flat. It describes it as a sphere suspended upon nothing, which of course, is true” because the bible also describes the world as having ends, and the heavens as having pillars.

Claim: a Young Earth
Evidence Provided:

Over 99% of all the layers in the actual ground are different than the official “Geologic Column” you see in your Geology book. Bottom line, it appears that way on paper, but not in the ground. The layers in the ground are actually all out of sequence, upside down, inverted, missing layers, etc. The layers are all randomly shuffled throughout the entire planet like a deck of cards. This is exactly what we would expect to see if there were a worldwide flood producing massive mudslides all over the Earth. It is not what we should see if these layers supposedly represent the surfaces of the Earth over the last “500 million years.

Refutation: yes, there would be missing layers all over the place. This is predicted by the theory behind the Geologic column. Nobody’s saying that all this material just piles up over time like layers on a really large onion- the material has to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is several things, e.g. lava, meteorites and space dust, the skeletons of really large numbers of very small animals, etc. Erosion is an obvious example of how layers could be missing. The random mudslide hypothesis on the other hand is testable, and easily demonstrated to be untenable, and denial of this is dishonest.

My final evidence that these guys are dishonest?

On their face it appears strongly that these materials are either produced by, or culled from, Kent Hovind’s creationist sect, y’know, down south.

And of course in the interests of skepticism, I encourage you not to take my word for it. See also Talk Origins, Iron Chariots, and of course Google is your friend.

Viral Google Spider Goats?

So there’s this video I’ve come across via teh interwebs, looks like some extreme left wing stuff I don’t agree with but feel deserves a good hard look.

It’s a 50 minute spiel, part inconvenient truth, part paranoid conspiracy theory.

[update: this is not the point-by-point refutation it should be (for example I’d like to add timestamps for each point), but I’m at work here and don’t have the resources handy enough to do this properly. I also don’t have the original source, which I regret. If anyone has the source, let me know.] Continue reading

Are you kidding me?

Found a new blurb in something I mentioned earlier by the unbelievably stupid Chuck Norris. The quote:

If we are ever to restore civility in our land and our schools, we must turn back the clocks to a time when such shocking crimes didn’t even exist – when we valued life and respected one another much more then we do today. We must use the Bible (humanity’s blueprint for life and ”bluebook” for value) to retrain our youth about theirs and others’ value as children of God, made in His image.

Turn back the clocks to a time when such shocking crimes didn’t even exist? Are you fucking joking? The old testament you claim as a history text is strongly focused on genital mutilation, wars, genocides, incest, rape, prostitution, deception, human sacrifice, and literal wrestling with god! The high point of the new testament is the torture and murder of a traveling preacher, against whom the closest thing to a legal claim is that he preached on the sabbath.

The foundation of modern xianity is based on a reframing of that guy’s teachings by a Roman citizen who never met him. And we want to use this as the foundation of our culture in a time when we have guns?
Yes, let’s go back to the days of stoning disobedient children, shunning the sick, and prayer for healing. I sure would like to be able to rape a young woman if she rejects me, pay her father a pittance, then legally keep her as my wife. And if I decide I don’t like or can’t afford my daughters, perhaps it really is in their best interest that I should sell her into biblically sanctioned servitude. That, by the way, is just a nice word for “slavery”, and would most likely become “sexual slavery”, which I suppose could be fun for the girls.

And I really love the idea of “us” vs. “them” mentality, especially when we get to claim the deity is on our side, and that we are persecuted if our preconceived notions of morality conflict with someone else’s. It’s a great system to teach respect for life and keeping the peace in god‘s kingdom.

The biblical times were the good old days? Not fucking likely, Chuck.

Asshat.