Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust

No, not Grand-daddy Phelps, though the passing of the Westboro Church founder is noteworthy.

I'm announcing the resignation of megachurch founder Bill Gothard after allegations of sexual misconduct. This is not some small-town preacher. His fans include the glassy-eyed Duggar family *ptui* and preacher turned politician turned pundit, Mike Huckabee. He's one of the leaders of the home-school movement. His "Advanced Training Institute" is one of the main squawkboxes for Christian moral superiority. You can learn low-level skills at his "Verity Institute." Or earn a Certificate in Basic Life Principles by taking courses such as Biblical Life Principles V, in which "students focus on the Fall of man as the cause of society’s problems."

So in true churchy scandal tradition, he is a leader in the "holier-than-thou" sanctimonious cult tradition that seems to create big-time hypocrites. And what is he accused of? He didn't just have a fling with one buxom secretary - he molested or harassed over thirty women!

Fortunately, some of the victims of his backwards theology have been able to leave it behind them. Check out "Recovering Grace" http://www.recoveringgrace.org/.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How's Your Amygdala?

The amygdala is a part of the brain with many roles, and including a role in the development of empathetic or "moral" behavior.

How can you be good without God?  How can you be good with the Christian god?  How can parents believe in a "loving" Father could doom his kids to an eternal lake of fire, or wipe them all out in a global flood, or kills his only good kid then lets the brats off the hook?  How can they raise loving, moral children?  To the extent that they do, it's due to behaving like all the other social animals rather than bringing up kids to fear God.

This TED talk covers the neural basis of morality and proposes ways to change the brain.  (Won't work for murderers, though)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Discovery Institute Shills vs. Ball State

Apparently, the DI has realized a lawsuit would be a waste of time and money, so they've gotten four state legislators to shill for them:

http://www.thestarpress.com/article/20140311/NEWS01/140311010

The Discovery Institute says four state legislators led by Senate Education Committee Chair Dennis Kruse, R–Auburn, have sent a letter to Ball State University’s president and board of trustees expressing concerns about the university’s treatment of BSU physicist Eric Hedin and its “imposition of a speech code censoring faculty speech on intelligent design.”  ...

...“about whether improper procedures were followed while investigating professor Eric Hedin’s course, and whether an ad hoc committee appointed to investigate him was filled with persons with conflicts of interest...We are also concerned about the cancellation of Hedin’s class and the policy you announced last summer restricting faculty speech on intelligent design. We are disturbed by reports that while you restrict faculty speech on intelligent design, BSU authorized a seminar that teaches ‘Science Must Destroy Religion.’ ... The legislators promised to send additional questions to BSU in coming weeks.
This sounds like it will be the exact same letter filled with ridiculous questions that the Discovery Institute sent to the university last summer.  Apparently they're still butthurt about this thing, and they've managed to get a creationist sympathizer (who unfortunately is the chair of the Senate Education Committee) to embarrass himself for them.

Desperate times call for desperate measures?  From the sounds of things last summer, I was expecting to see them sue.  Apparently they realize they can't win in a fair fight so they're trying this now.  Ball State is their new "wedge."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

R.I.P. Tim Wilson

One of the funniest guitar comics ever.  He had a heart attack and passed away yesterday. This is my favorite of his many great songs:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 22 Link Round-up

Lawrence Krauss responds to Ken Ham's misrepresentation of the scientific method.

Honey Boo-Boo's new niece has an extra thumb. Says grandma, "She's highly evolved."

Parents who let a second child die because of their "faith" will spend at least three years in prison.  They were on probation for the death of another child at the time, so they ought to be doing time for that now, too.  And let's hope no more parents will get probation for letting a child die!

The next time an apologist comes around I'm going to borrow this idea: Apologist bingo!

An Indiana church is just too happy about vouchers

Not much this week.   Even youtube was rather quiet.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15 Link round-up

Getting back on track...

We atheist bloggers may not need to create link round-ups anymore now that TheHumanist.com is online.  Their editor is soliciting suggestions.

DNA proves that funny-looking skulls from Peru were not human. If there isn't already an episode of Ancient Aliens featuring these coneheads, there will be soon!

Jason Rosenhouse watched HBO's "Questioning Darwin" so you don't have to.

This is old but it's news to me.  Turkey's great Christian buildings, turned into museums during the secular era, are now being turned into mosques, including the Hagia Sofia, one of the most famous Christian cathedrals of all time.  (Wikipedia may need updating)  The Archbishop of Canterbury visited and thinks it should not be converted.  Well, East and West Christianity finally agree on something.  (More background on Turkey in the New York Times)

The jet stream may be changing.   How many other changes have to happen before global warming deniers get with reality?  Oh yeah, the big change would be if big oil stopped funding big PR firms.

Online deaf pastor comes out as an atheist.  The usual cause: he actually thought about what he was preaching.

Freethought books donated to prisoners.  Of course USA today had to come up with a snappy headline:  "Atheist groups cater to a captive audience" ... as if faith groups have been doing this since forever!


Video of the week (actually an oldie but goody): Morality in animals

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ham on Nye Link Round-up

There are jillions of write-ups of the debate asking "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern scientific era?" but I think these are the better ones, and of course I am not linking any Christian sites, though some of them may be reasonable. I'll leave it to some Christian to round up.

CBS morning show coverage:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bill-nye-defends-evolution-in-kentucky-debate/  (skip the write-up and go right to the comments!)

ABC's Nightline went behind the scenes for an 'only-in-America' show-down.  They outright call Ham's creation museum "pseudoscience."  Good for them!

Washington Post:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/bill-nye-defends-evolution-in-kentucky-debate/2014/02/04/7faa3184-8dfd-11e3-99e7-de22c4311986_story.html

NBC blog:  Bill Nye wins over the Science Crowd

Jerry Coyne in The New Republic declares Nye the winner  

The L.A. Times imagines a television series out of this.

Slate's William Slatan says Ham proved that creationism is a harmless compartmentalized fantasy that won't endanger scientific or technological progress.

Salon gives the edge to Ham not for the debate, but for advancing his agenda.

Pat Robertson and other fundamentalists are not okay with old-earth creationism (Christian "Science" Monitor)

Huffpo blogger Sam McElwee calls Ham a quack.

Someone from buzzfeed asked creationists in the audience to write out questions for the rest of us: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-from-creationists-to-people-who-believe-in-evolutio
... and also asked reasonable people to write their comments & questions for creationists:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/messages-for-creationists-from-people-who-believe-in-evoluti

Videos:
Lawrence O'Donnell interviews Nye post-debate:




The whole debate here: (Or you could watch it at Ham's Answers in Genesis youtube channel, but I won't link it - you'll have to find it yourself)