Posts Tagged ‘Christian’
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 8, 2013
Every now and then, just when you think things cannot get too silly, they do. Case in point: the fact that the news media is actually giving some attention to a woman’s claim that her goldfish cracket is a “sign from God”…
It’s a fishy story, but the woman telling it believes it’s pure gold. The Florida resident says the markings she found on a Goldfish cracker are a direct message affirming her Christian faith.
“I believe that it’s a sign, a sign from God,” Patti Burke told Florida Today. “He is still in our life every day, and he wants to show that to his people.”
It’s not quite manna, but in Burke’s eyes it’s a manifestation of her faith.
The cracker in question has two markings, or imperfections, on its surface. Burke says the first marking is of a cross with a circle around it. The second marking, near the head of the fish, represents a golden crown.
“When I picked this one up, I knew he was special,” she said. “Something I’ve never seen before out of all the Goldfish I’ve eaten.”
Burke admittedly has been working from a large sample size, consuming between two and three pounds of the crackers per week. She says she eats the small crackers individually, examining each one for the optimal amount of savory coating. … [emphasis added]
Umm… yeah. Pardon me, but… IT’S A CRACKER!!! Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Come on folks, is it really any surprise that the person making this “miraculous discovery” (which has all the markings of a modern-day “religious relic” such as the infamous Virgin Mary Grill Cheese Sandwich) is a devout Christian? That is the classic marker of pareidolia – our evolution-wired brains are developed for pattern recognition, and one of the most recognized patterns for a Christian is the cross. Throw into the mix a bit of religious fervor (i.e. in this case, devout Christianity) and viola! you have a “miracle” appearance of the cross on a cracker.
Here’s another interesting bit of pareidolia to get you thinking. Years ago a man cut into a melon, and he saw this…
So what, if anything, do you see? If you’re like me, you see some wavy lines which are essentially meaningless. But if you are a devout Muslim who can read Arabic, you will likely see “Allah” (God) written out in Arabic. And, before you roll your eyes, there are people who treat this as seriously as our lady does her cross-marked cracker. So, what this shows you is that the interpretation of these “miracles” is strongly context and culturally specific.
In conclusion, what this all really teaches us about these kinds of “miraculous events” is this: it’s all in your head, folks, and people who believe strongly enough can find amazing ways to validate those beliefs – even if to the rest of us it’s utter gibberish.
It also seems to teach us something about God’s powers, namely that as time goes on the kind of “miracles” that God apparently performs become increasingly mundane, as this graph displays :)
Posted in psychology, religion | Tagged: Allah, Allah melon, Arabic, belief, Catholic, Catholicism, Christian, cracker, cross, God, God's power, gold, goldfish, grill cheese, grilled cheese, iron, Islam, Jesus, miracle, Muslim, pareidolia, pattern recognition, psychology, religion, sandwich, skepticism, Virgin Mary | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 8, 2012
But don’t take it from me, take it straight from his mouth…
First, allow me to state the obvious:
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… we see two things from this idiotic tirade from Rep. Broun:
1. He engages in the typical creationist fear-mongering about evolutionary science that it is inherently evil, etc (hence the “Pit of Hell” reference). I suppose we needn’t bother Rep. Broun with the annoying fact that many of his Christian brethren think evolution is just fine.
2. He, like far too many of his conservative colleagues in our government (I’m talking about YOU, Rep. Todd Akin), seem to have gone out of their way lately to declare war on any form of science they deem contrary to their ideology. This includes not only denying evolution and denying climate science, and apparently basic info on human reproduction, but also rejecting certain pesky historical facts along the way.
Folks, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people like this running my federal government. This is why I so strongly support efforts like Science Debate, and why I think you should, too. It is also why those of us who are defenders and advocates of science and skepticism should be involved in our political process.
Posted in creationism, politics, religion | Tagged: astronomy, atheism, atheist, belief, Bible, Big Bang, Christian, clergy, Clergy Letter Project, congress, Congressman, conservative, cosmology, creation, creationism, creationist, DI, Discovery Institute, embryology, evolution, faith, federal, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, Georgia, God, government, house, House Science Committee, ID, intelligent design, Jesus, Paul Broun, Pit of Hell, religion, Rep. Paul Broun, Representative, science, United States, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 3, 2012
Recently, one of my skeptical colleagues – Louise Kellar – attended the Creation Evidence Expo in Indianapolis, IN and she wrote up a guest blog on it over at Freethought Blogs. I wanted to share it with you here for two reasons: 1) it is a really thorough (and funny!) write-up of the whole event, and 2) Louise must have a much stronger stomach than me, because I don’t think I could have managed to attend this thing without rage-facing my brains out.
The entire post is quite long, but I wanted to emphasize one section which I considered to be very important…
Louise Kellar – kickin’ it at the Creation Evidence Expo
… Dye kept putting up slides about education. “The aim of education should be to convert the mind into a living fountain and not a reservoir” and “Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave.” After that he went on about how god was taken out of school in 1963 and shared some statistics with us. Now bear in mind these statistics are all the direct result of God being taken out of school. (Also this is the short list)
- Violent crime up 995%
- Suicide up 300%
- Single parent families up 117%
- STDs up 226%
- Average SAT score down 80 points
- Assaults on teachers up 7000%
- Birth rate of unwed 10-14 year olds up 325% *last year he claimed it was 553%
- 84% of cities are in financial trouble
- 4000 churches close annually
- No new members added to 50% of churches
- 1400 pastors quit each month.
My mind was reeling from all these phony statistics, and of course he didn’t stop there. I am not even sure how he segued into the next topic. It was all about how evolutionists will try to trick you into not believing and he began explaining all the ways animals try to kill humans. He kept talking about how evolutionists will show up to your events and try to trick you. They will also stalk you and they will try their best to lead you away from god. “They kill, steal, and destroy.” He repeated that phrase about every minute. It appeared very much to be an attack on anyone who didn’t believe in creationism and how evil those people are. At one point he even mentioned that people will write bad things about him on the internet. I wonder if he saw what I said about him last year?
ZOMG – BEST FLOWCHART EVAR!!! Really, you can’t make this stuff up… even though the creationists kind of DID just make it up
This goofy flowchart (and the meme behind the statistics that Dye quoted above) were what I really wanted to make the focus of my comments in this post. Those things clearly show what we who call ourselves skeptics and defenders of science are up against when we fight against creationism: namely, we are up against a worldview which is completely devoid of any scientific understanding at all. Creationists are not only ignorant of scientific facts, they are ignorant of the entire process of science itself; and not only that, in many ways they are outright anti-scientific in their views because they have been convinced (likely through a lifetime of brainwashing in church and at events like the Creation Expo) that to accept evolutionary science will automatically turn one into a raving, immoral, baby-eating, murdering, AIDS-infested atheist intent on destroying all that is good and decent in society. Hence, stupidity like the flowchart above *facepalm*
And, quite frankly, when you’re up against that kind of crazy, all the science in the world won’t help you win these folks over.
Which is why, in many cases, I don’t try to fight a creationist with whom I’m arguing solely with scientific facts (since they seem to be largely impervious to such facts); instead, while I mention scientific information, I also try to engage them in a bit of a different manner, one which I think is more effective… I use religion. Specifically, I point out that the “evolution = atheism = evil” argument is completely bogus for one simple reason: there are numerous Christians (and people of other religious faiths) who accept evolution!
That one fact alone destroys their entire argument. Showing them that people of their own religion (Christianity, usually) disagree with their views on creationism is a killer, and it can lead to – pardon the pun – quite a lot of soul-searching on the part of more thoughtful creationists. In addition, I also engage them on the entire morality argument by challenging the assertion that atheists are inherently immoral and evil; this can, and often does, lead into deeper philosophical discussions on the nature of good, evil, ethics, etc. While they may be ignorant of science, they’re all about morals, so why not engage them on those terms using language they can understand?
I’m not saying that it will win them over to the PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins camp of evolution, but one thing it will get them to do is THINK. And that’s the first step.
Posted in creationism | Tagged: atheism, atheist, belief, Bible, CEE, Christian, clergy, Clergy Letter Project, Creation Evidence Expo, creationism, DI, Discovery Institute, evolution, faith, Freethought Blogs, FTB, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, God, ID, Indiana, Indianapolis, intelligent design, Jesus, Louise Kellar, religion, science, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | 4 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on September 3, 2012
In a welcome bit of science education news, the Clergy Letter Project has announced that it is expanding its effort to include Buddhist clergy. In case you don’t know, this is an effort to get clergy men and women to speak out publicly in support of teaching science (specifically, evolutionary science) in the public schools. These clergy do not see any conflict between their religious beliefs and science, and I think it is an excellent way to counter the blatantly anti-scientific arguments espoused by many creationists. Read on for more info…
Clergy who want science, including Evolution in schools, created the Clergy Letter Project and the chosen theme for this years “Evolution Weekend” is “Religion and Science” and marks the seventh year for the gathering of clergy to discuss science.
“Evolution Weekend is an opportunity for serious discussion and reflection on the relationship between religion and science. An ongoing goal has been to elevate the quality of the discussion on this critical topic, and to show that religion and science are not adversaries. Rather, they look at the natural world from quite different perspectives and ask, and answer, different questions.
Religious people from many diverse faith traditions and locations around the world understand that evolution is quite simply sound science; and for them, it does not in any way threaten, demean, or diminish their faith in God. In fact, for many, the wonders of science often enhance and deepen their awe and gratitude towards God.”
They believe that modern science, including Evolution, and religion are in harmony with each other.
To that end, American Buddhist clergy join in the voices of Christian, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist clergy in writing letters supporting the teaching of Evolutions in public schools. …
Click here to read the entire article
Posted in creationism, religion | Tagged: atheism, atheist, belief, Bible, Buddha, Buddhism, Christian, clergy, Clergy Letter Project, creationism, Dalai Lama, DI, Discovery Institute, evolution, Evolution Weekend, faith, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, God, ID, intelligent design, Islam, Jesus, Jewish, Judaism, letter, poll, questionnaire, questions, Rabbi, religion, science, survey, Unitarian, Unitarian Universalist, Universalist, UU, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 10, 2012
For many years now, various fundamentalist Christian groups have been attempting to post the Ten Commandments (which version? Good question…) in public buildings, using the lame argument that they serve a “secular purpose” as a way of skirting lawsuits for violation of church-state separation. Well, now those folks have been hoisted by their own pertard
Judge Michael Urbanski suggested a possible compromise to the issue that has been raging in the Giles County school system.
By Laurence Hammack 981-3239
Could the Ten Commandments be reduced to six, a federal judge asked Monday.
Would that neutralize the religious overtones of a commandments display that has the Giles County School Board in legal hot water?
That unorthodox suggestion was made by Judge Michael Urbanski during oral arguments over whether the display amounts to a governmental endorsement of religion, as alleged in a lawsuit filed by a student at Narrows High School.
After raising many pointed questions about whether the commandments pass legal muster, the judge referred the case to mediation – with a suggestion:
Remove the first four commandments, which are clearly religious in nature, and leave the remaining six, which make more secular commands, such as do not kill or steal.
Ever since the lawsuit was filed in September amid heated community reaction, school officials have said the display is not religious because it also includes historical documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.
“If indeed this issue is not about God, why wouldn’t it make sense for Giles County to say, ‘Let’s go back and just post the bottom six?’” Urbanski asked during a motions hearing in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.
“But if it’s really about God, then they wouldn’t be willing to do that.” … [emphasis added]
I think this judge is a genius. He’s asking the obvious question which clearly shows the motivations of these fundamentalists: to use public institutions to force their religious beliefs upon the rest of us. Up until this point, the fundamentalists have tried to have it both ways, using the wiggle room argument of a “secular purpose” as a wedge. But I think that’s the point of what the judge here is saying: to deny them any wiggle room at all. They must either step up and admit flat out that they had (and still do) a religious intent when displaying the Ten Commandments, and thus risk being on the losing end of a costly lawsuit; or they must accept the compromise, and thus risk encurring the wrath of their constituents. This lame attempt on their part to play coy and try coming up with an ad hoc “secular purpose” after the fact won’t fly with this judge.
They only have themselves to blame for getting into this position in the first place. If they bothered to follow the First Amendment Establishment Clause in the beginning, they wouldn’t have this problem; but nooooo, they had to try pushing their religious beliefs.
Quite frankly, they deserve the smackdown coming their way.
Posted in politics, religion | Tagged: atheism, atheist, Bible, Christian, church, commandments, court, Decalogue, display, federal, First Amendment, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, Giles County School Board, God, judge, law, Michael Urbanski, Old Testament, public, religion, secular, separation of church and state, state, Ten Commandments, United States, Virginia | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on April 22, 2012
As most skeptics and atheists (as well as a number of well-educated religious believers) know, the Bible is a work of humans. As such, just as any other book, it has been edited and revised quite a lot over the last couple of thousand years. It’s not the purpose of this blog post to go into the details of who wrote what parts of the Bible when, nor will I get into the question of the numerous inconsistencies and contradictions contained within this supposedly “divinely inspired” book. (Though if you’re interested in those topics, I suggest starting with a basic primer on textual criticism of the Bible.)
Rather, I would like to address something which is easily verified by anyone: the fact that the Bible, contrary to the claims of many fundamentalists, is actually STILL being edited. And sometimes these edits have made quite significant deviations from the “original” text. Further, some of these edits have been made for what appear to be contemporary political purposes.
“You mean… it’s NOT the same as it was only 45 years ago?!!” — Image source
In order to prove my point, I would like to reference an excellent article on this topic from the Slacktivist blog over at Patheos.com titled “Mischief follows in partisan Bible translations”. The basic point behind this article is that contrary to the claims of various fundamentalist factions that the Bible is unchanging and inerrant, it has in fact been edited quite recently. Specifically, the evidence proves that the Bible has been edited for partisan political purposes on the issue of abortion as recently as the late 1970s (which is within the lifetime of many readers here!) Read this excerpt from the Slacktivist article for more on this:
… As I noted earlier, this change in the words and meaning of the Bible is more recent than the introduction of the Happy Meal.
The New American Standard Bible is a popular English translation, a revision of the American Standard Version of 1901. It was completed in 1971 and then revised and updated in 1995. I want to highlight one major change in one passage of the NASB — a case in which the 1995 update alters — and is intended to reverse – the text of the 1971 NASB.
Those dates are important in understanding the reason for this change. …
Now, let us look at the analysis of come critical Bible verses which have been edited in the context of contemporary views on abortion:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in politics, religion | Tagged: politics, religion, fundamentalist, belief, God, Bible, Jesus, atheism, atheist, book, Christian, Jewish, literal, women, inerrancy, criticism, abortion, literalist, Jews, Holy Bible, Christians, Old Testament, New Testament, textual criticism, validity, truth, editing, edit, Exodus 21:21-22, New American Standard Bible, NASB, version, inerrant | 21 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on January 10, 2012
Well, I have to say this much for creationists: they certainly are persistent. Despite mountains of solid scientific evidence proving evolution (and thus disproving most views of creationism, such as the most common variant – young-earth creationism) and decades of court rulings against the promotion of religiously-oriented concepts such as “scientific creationism” and “intelligent design”, the creationists just keep on coming.
Case in point, here are some recent legal developments from Kentucky (no surprise there) and… New Hampshire? Okay, Kentucky I can understand, but seriously… NEW HAMPSHIRE?!! Wow, methinks some of my Yankee brothers and sisters up north are going to have a serious case of voters remorse.
Once you read the proposals out of Kentucky and New Hampshire, it is easy to see the same old tired (and flat wrong, both scientifically and legally) creationist arguments. From the Kentucky case:
The Herald-Leader reports that Superintendent Ricky D. Line of Hart County public schools believes a new state-wide test for Kentucky high school students treats evolution as fact, not theory, and that the test will require schools to teach accordingly. Line raised the issue with state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Kentucky Board of Education (KBOE) members. Line wants them to reconsider the “Blueprint” for Kentucky’s new end-of-course test in biology.
Line contends that the test essentially would “require students to believe that humans … evolved from primates such as apes and … were not created by God.” “I have a very difficult time believing that we have come to a point … that we are teaching evolution … as a factual occurrence, while totally omitting the creation story by a God who is bigger than all of us,” he said. “My feeling is if the Commonwealth’s site-based councils, school board members, superintendents and parents were questioned … one would find this teaching contradictory to the majority’s belief systems.” …
Hmmm, so the superintendent’s argument is that people shouldn’t be taught anything which doesn’t fit with their preconceived notions? Interesting, seeing as how most preconceptions that people have regarding science are incorrect, the superintendent’s argument basically boils down to an argument for remaining ignorant. Nice. I have to wonder if we’ll hear the superintendent and his colleagues complain about how KY students are not properly prepared to compete in the modern world of 21st century science and technology? With an attitude like the one he’s displaying, he’d better get ready for a LOT of complaining regarding the latter…
Also note the implication in the article about how teachers could teach both (all) views, as if creationism is on par with evolution as a scientific theory. To that argument, I have one response…
Yup… a picture is worth a thousand words
Now on to the New Hampshire situation. Fortunately, the National Center for Science Education is on the case, and here’s their update:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in creationism, education, politics | Tagged: atheism, atheist, bacteria, Christian, Christianity, creationism, creationist, evolution, God, ID, intelligent design, Kentucky, legislation, New Hampshire, philosophy, public, religion, schools, science, shark, teach all views, teach both views, teach the controversy, theories, theory, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on November 16, 2011
Many of you have already heard about the Clergy Letter Project, an effort to show that when it comes to the issue of accepting evolutionary science one doesn’t necessarily have to be an atheist. Just as there is nothing wrong with being an atheist (I’m one), by the same token I don’t see any inherent problem to being religious while also accepting evolutionary science. As I’ve said before many times, I don’t have a problem with religion, I have a problem with anti-science; and those are different things (though sometimes they do overlap).
As an update, the Clergy Letter Project started back in late 2004 when the latest variant of creationism, so-called “intelligent design”, was coming onto the national scene and causing lots of problems across the country for science education. To date, the letter (which was originally geared towards Christian clergy but now includes Rabbinical, Islamic and Unitarian versions) has gathered nearly 13,500 signatories!
Now the Clergy Letter Project is taking part in another kind of outreach: developing a grant proposal designed to help foster discussion and improve understanding between faith communities and scientists. They want to do this by sending out the following questionnaire to clergy members, so if you are a member of the clergy or know someone who is, please give it a look:
**Send all responses to Michael Zimmerman at email@example.com
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in creationism, religion | Tagged: atheism, atheist, belief, Bible, Christian, clergy, Clergy Letter Project, creationism, DI, Discovery Institute, evolution, Evolution Weekend, faith, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, God, ID, Imam, intelligent design, Islam, Islamic, Jesus, Jewish, Judaism, letter, mosque, Muslim, poll, questionnaire, questions, Rabbi, religion, science, survey, Unitarian, Unitarian Universalist, Universalist, UU, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on August 21, 2011
It was with much interest that I read the following NPR story on the question of Christian evangelicals acceptance (or not) of evolutionary science. I wanted to just highlight a few key parts of the story and give my thoughts on this interesting development…
Let’s go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair?
According to the Bible (Genesis 2:7), this is how humanity began: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” God then called the man Adam, and later created Eve from Adam’s rib.
Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It’s a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity, from evangelicals to confessional churches such as the Christian Reformed Church.
But now some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: “That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.” …
What I find so interesting about this situation is that these evangelical scholars are going against the grain of the traditional belief in a literal Adam and Eve. One has to wonder how the broader evangelical community will react: will they seriously reconsider these traditional beliefs, will they dismiss the scholars because their creationist interpretation of Genesis trumps all, or will they seek to label these scholars as “heretical” and seek to purge them? I think the likely scenario is a combination of all three, but it seems that some prominent Christian evangelical institutions are seeking the second and third possibilities. On the one hand, some institutions are choosing to ignore scientific reality:
“From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith,” says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe, an evangelical think tank that questions evolution. Rana, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio University, readily admits that small details of Scripture could be wrong.
“But if the parts of Scripture that you are claiming to be false, in effect, are responsible for creating the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, then you’ve got a problem,” Rana says.
Soooo, when hard scientific evidence from nature contradicts you interpretation of Genesis, you ignore what nature says? Yeah, that’s dumb. No wonder people who don’t already buy into this particular theology tend to think it’s downright silly.
What’s worse, other Christian evangelical institutions are going even further and actively working to “expel” scholars who don’t toe the literal line on Genesis:
Several other well known theologians at Christian universities have been forced out; some see a parallel to a previous time when science conflicted with religious doctrine.
“The evolution controversy today is, I think, a Galileo moment,” says Karl Giberson, who authored several books trying to reconcile Christianity and evolution, including The Language of Science and Faith, with Francis Collins.
Giberson — who taught physics at Eastern Nazarene College until his views became too uncomfortable in Christian academia — says Protestants who question Adam and Eve are akin to Galileo in the 1600s, who defied Catholic Church doctrine by stating that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa. Galileo was condemned by the church, and it took more than three centuries for the Vatican to express regret at its error.
The great irony here is that so many of these same Christian evangelical organizations made such a big deal a few years back when the failed film “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” came out. “Expelled” argued that secular academia was forcing out scholars who dared to question evolutionary science; now, in fact, we see the hypocrisy behind these arguments. For years, we’ve heard these folks bitch and moan at length about some supposed conspiracy to discriminate against them, yet they are the ones purging “heretics” from their ranks because these scholars follow science as opposed to a blind allegiance to certain theological interpretations of the Bible.
Last, but not least, is a word of warning from the article. Christians, take note:
“When you ignore science, you end up with egg on your face,” Giberson says. “The Catholic Church has had an awful lot of egg on its face for centuries because of Galileo. And Protestants would do very well to look at that and to learn from it.”
Posted in creationism, religion | Tagged: academia, Adam, Bible, Christ, Christian, Christianity, creation, creationism, creationist, DNA, evangelical, Eve, evolution, expel, Expelled, Expelled Exposed, Fazale Rana, Francis Collins, Galileo, Garden of Eden, Genesis, genetics, genomics, God, heresy, heretic, ID, Karl Giberson, original sin, purge, Reasons to Believe, scholars, science, sin, The Fall, theology | 3 Comments »