Sensuous Curmudgeon too kind to DI’s vanity press style promotion of Discovery Institute’s latest

Primate's Progress

Tuesday saw the launch of Stephen Meyer’s latest book, Darwin’s Doubt. I doubt if I will be reading it, but here’s a little of what the blurb on amazon.com says about it:

In Darwin’s Doubt, Stephen C. Meyer tells the story of the mystery surrounding this [the Cambrian] explosion of animal life—a mystery that has intensified, not only because the expected ancestors of these animals have not been found, but because scientists have learned more about what it takes to construct an animal. During the last half century, biologists have come to appreciate the central importance of biological information—stored in DNA and elsewhere in cells—to building animal forms.

Expanding on the compelling case he presented in his last book, Signature in the Cell, Meyer argues that the origin of this information, as well as other mysterious features of the Cambrian event, are best explained by intelligent design, rather than…

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Invent the Truth II

The Shogun of Sin

When engaging with a conservative on a social media website, one expects to find what you would with any common debater:

 

  • a series of easy-to-grasp talking points
  • data to back up their assertions
  • reliable sources of information, taken from independent parties
  • a lack of logical fallacies
  • ZERO shameless gimmicks that serve no purpose

 

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. While, admittedly there are many wonderful examples of well-versed modern conservatives who have a true grasp on current events, and have a talent for balancing various different topics including politics, the majority of them lack any clear direction with their arguments, which usually forces them to become belligerent and resort to defensive techniques. Instead of putting in an effort to add a bit of substance to their party-obsessed aggression, they avoid the conflict from the start by outlining a disgustingly useless wall of text that denotes their…

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Woman Being Denied Citizenship Because Her Morality Doesn’t Come From Religion

Divided Under God

Margaret Doughty, a 64-year old woman from the UK who has spent the past 30+ years in the U.S., is in the process of applying for United States Citizenship and happens to be an atheist. She is currently a permanent resident running non-profit adult literacy organizations, doing her part to enrich the lives of American citizens. In the process of applying for citizenship, all candidates are asked if they’d be willing to take up arms in defense of the United States of America.  Ms. Doughty responded,

“I am sure the law would never require a 64 year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form…

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Answers in Genesis supporter providing Religious Observance at Scottish “Non-Denominational” School

Primate's Progress

Creation_Museum_10Calderglen High School, a publicly funded school in East Kilbride near Glasgow, has a seven-member chaplaincy team,   which, according to the School’s website, “provides for the school a rich and key resource for the curriculum”. The team includes three representatives of Baptist churches, three from the Church of Scotland, and one, Dr. Nagy Iskander, from Westwoodhill Evangelical Church. Generally speaking, the Church of Scotland accepts scientific reality, while views within the Baptist churches vary. So what of Dr. Iskander, who holds the balance?

On the school website, he says

I am interested in Science and the Bible and always happy to tackle questions in this area, so please feel free to contact me about any questions regarding Science and the Christian faith.

What he does not say is that he is an out and out supporter of biblical literalism, singled out for praise by Answers in Genesis, and…

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A gynandromorph cardinal: one half male, the other half female

Why Evolution Is True

Reader Brian Peer sends us a photo of a “gynandromorph” cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).  A gynandromorph, as the name implies, is an animal that is part male and part female, with the sex-specific parts usually demarcated cleanly.  Here’s Brian’s description of how he saw the bird:

Your post this morning on Venus the Cat reminded me of a bilateral gynandromorph Northern Cardinal we found a couple years back in nearby Rock Island, IL. I’ve attached several photos of the bird. As you can see, the left side is male and the right female. For two winters the bird appeared at the feeder of a retired high school biology teacher. I was able to observe it on several occasions, and noticed that it didn’t associate with other cardinals, nor did I hear it produce any vocalizations. We attempted to capture it with mist nets so that Rob Fleischer and I…

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A Sex Education Horror Story, in Scotland

Pam Stenzel in Scotland. Medieval, unresearched views being taught in our schools.

Primate's Progress

[This follows up on an eye-witness account described in his article on the Scottish Secular Society web page by my good friend, Garry Otton: ] The speaker, specially flown in from California, grins at the audience and rubs her hands together in holy zeal, as she tells her little anecdote. A young man is offering his beloved a diamond engagement ring. Unfortunately, he is also offering her genital warts, which, she tells her captive audience of schoolchildren, will last like the ring for the rest of her life, be incurable, and make her sterile. No one, she repeatedly says, can have more than one sexual partner in a lifetime, and not pay a price for it.

Her name is Pam Stenzel, and she runs a California-based business that makes more than a quarter million dollars a year, educating children worldwide about sexual health.  What are her qualifications…

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The genius of our ancestors

Futile Democracy

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I get this a lot:
“If people evolved from apes…. why are there still apes?”
– The obvious problem here is with the word “still”. It presumes a continuation of the same, unchanged genetic make-up, untouched by the requirement to adapt. This is wrong. The apes you see today, are not the same apes as those 1,000,000 years ago. Apes today are as evolved as we are. As are slugs, spiders, and cats. They all required different methods of survival based on different circumstances; climate, terrain, predators etc. Apes today are evolved as a different branch from a common ape-like ancestor, shared with humanity. We shot off over millions of years, in all different routes. The ape-like ancestors that broke from the forested areas of Africa, over the savannah became so far apart from the ape-like ancestors still within the forested areas (body structure became different – those who left…

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Why Evolution Is True

Sam Harris is peeved, and rightly so.  Two recent articles, one in Salon by Nathan Lean and the other in Al-Jazeera online by Murtaza Hussain, have mounted nasty (and misguided) attacks on New Atheism because of its perceived “Islamophobia.” I’ve previously dissected Lean’s piece (see the first link), and Hussain’s is just as bad. Here’s a bit of it:

In the present atmosphere, characterised by conflict with Muslim-majority nations, a new class of individuals have stepped in to give a veneer of scientific respectability to today’s politically-useful bigotry.

At the forefront of this modern scientific racism have been those prominently known as the “new atheist” scientists and philosophers. While they attempt to couch their language in the terms of pure critique of religious thought, in practice they exhibit many of the same tendencies toward generalisation and ethno-racial condescension as did their predecessors – particularly in their descriptions of Muslims.

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Why Evolution Is True

UPDATE: See today’s New York Times piece on the Halappanavar tragedy, which includes this:

Mr. Halappanavar told the newspaper that he still could not believe his wife was dead. “I was with her those four days in intensive care,” he said. “They kept telling me: ‘She’s young. She’ll get over it.’ But things never changed; they only got worse. She was so full of life. She loved kids.

“It was all in their hands, and they just let her go. How can you let a young woman go to save a baby who will die anyway?”

But Mr. Halappanavar said he saw no use in being angry. “I’ve lost her,” he said. “I am talking about this because it shouldn’t happen to anyone else.”

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Although several bloggers have covered this tragic episode, Grania Spingies of Atheist Ireland is on the spot, and I wanted to add her perspective to…

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