I am such a nice guy

Since I’ve had more than one request for it, I guess I’ll go ahead & post a couple of the nudes.

They’re not exactly what you’d call erotica- I took them as a reference point so I can judge the results as I get going with my body building quest (I’ve always wanted to be a hunky muscular guy, best I’ve ever managed was a really lean cut look).

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Texas Culture War

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to the only high ranking school official I know. He is very close to my family, but unfortunately (as of the last time we spoke on the topic) is not what we’d call a supporter of the theory of evolution.

Ordinarily I’d just call it “his loss” but the breathtaking inanity of the culture war on this topic* has me really concerned, and it clearly isn’t going away even though it should.

I sent this letter to him. I doubt he’ll even acknowledge receiving it, but I am reposting it here to show that, yes, I am actively trying to prevent teh stupid from propagating.

*[ by the way: Evolution is a fact. Get over it ]

[ edit: two hours later, Todd replied with assurances that he indeed would not help propagate teh stupid. I feel better now. ]

Todd,

A lot of crazy stuff is going on in Texas, and probably Florida, along
exactly the same lines as the recent problems in Kansas and
Pennsylvania.

If you didn’t already know, an employee of the Texas Education Agency
was recently forced to resign for implicitly violating a policy of
“neutrality when talking about evolution and creationism”. Full
disclosure: I think such a policy does a serious disservice to
students.

http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/2007/12/muzzling-dissen.html

I’m sending you this simply to ask you to read this article and follow
a few of the links (which I consider very relevant) so you know what’s
going on here. And I’d like to ask for your reassurance that, at least
within your sphere of influence, this kind of silliness will never
happen.

Evolution, like it or not, is the best basis we have for scientific
understanding of life and its diversity on our planet. That this is
true has been proven (too) many times in the scientific community and
in the court system. Please assure me that, should this kind of
question come up in your school district, you will not behave like the
folks in Kansas, Pennsylvania, Florida, and now Texas. They are doing
the students in their care a disservice.

Thank you,
me

As good a reason as any to visit U of M

So a Discovery Institute fuckwad lecturer, John West, plans to make a little visit to the U of M this week.

I have three really good reasons to go:

  1. a good opportunity to hear and mock the man in person
  2. a chance to meet PZ Meyers
  3. free beer

Plus the idea that I’m trying to make some friends up there as I will be most likely moving to the Cities soon.

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.