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)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ham on Nye Debate post #1

I missed much of the debate (thank you, winter storm) so I have been looking over the news and blogs about it, and I'll watch it later.

First, I looked at the blog ofCNN's Tom Foreman, the moderator: "What I Learned Moderating the 'Creation Debate'"  He didn't seem to have learned much, but I found a gem of a comment and decided to reproduce my reply to the creationist idiot:

(my replies are in italics):

If we all evolved from nothing by accident, we might expect to find:

1. Many half humans/half apes and no clear distinction between a human and an animal.
--No, we would expect to find fossils of hominids that resemble both apes and human apes.  And we have.

2. Pretty well no symmetry. The idea of two eyeballs and two ears on the same creature by random chance is impossible. (check out what Darwin said about the eyeball)
--No, symmetry is very adaptive, for example, two eyes give us depth perception.  Two ears give us balance and the ability to locate sounds.  Symmetrical legs allow animals to crawl, walk and run quite fast.  Whatever Darwin said about the eyeball is irrelevant, as he was not an expert in eye evolution and 150 years of research after his book has proved adaptive evolution has happened.

3. .0000001 of organisms survive because the rest die off because of starvation and harmful mutations. Under this scenario, the creatures would all become extinct only a few minutes into the grand evolutionary accidental experiment.
---No, there's no percentage of survival, and starvation is a matter of population ecology, not starvation.  If for some reason a species overpopulates its niche, its numbers will be reduced by starvation but not to that tiny fraction.  Mutations as in errors of DNA during reproduction, are inevitable but not that high of a percent.  The highest estimate of mutated fetuses that spontaneously abort in humans is only about 1/3, not 99999.9%

4. We wouldn't see distinct "Kinds" of animals, it'd be so much more random.
The term "kind" is a bogus distraction.  Google "equivocation"

5. We would certainly not expect to have a conscience.
--it is an adaptive trait amongst communal species to have behavioral expectations of each other and therefore of ourselves.  The extent to which we are capable of imagining the feelings of others dictates our level of conscience, so as you might predict, people with defective brains lack a conscience.

6. We would expect zero order in anything, whether that be the distance between the earth and the sun, or the language codes on our DNA. Much less trillions of cells that are each more complex than anything man has created working in harmony in our bodies to keep us alive!
--"order" is our perception of the world.  The distance between the earth and sun is just a distance.  DNA is not a language.  Cells just are.  Evolution does predict that DNA will create cells that enable the continuation of life.

If the Bible is true we would expect to find:
1. We would expect that since Humans are created in the image of God, they would be unique and clearly distinguishable from other animals. And would be completely different then the rest of the animal kingdom.
--Since nobody has seen God, there is no way to demonstrate this or predict which humans would resemble it more closely.  Humans are not completely different from the rest of the animal kingdom.  We share 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees, as evolution would predict. If we were really completely different by god's design we should not have any DNA in common.

2. We would expect to see very intelligently designed organisms.
---and we don't.  We find organisms that fit their ecological niche, with random bits of harmless stupidity hanging on.  For example, humans have tailbones.  Not very intelligent.  Using the same tube for both food and air is rather stupid.  Then there's the prostate gland.  Wouldn't an intelligent designer have done a better job and not make it look like it came from a quadruped's prostate?

3. Cleverly designed reproductive systems, that works to repopulate the earth.
"repopulate?"  Evolution predicts that organisms that fit all ecological niches could go everywhere, such as humans and cockroaches and e.coli.  Evolution predicts that if the ecological niches change, the reproductive system of the organism is useless.  If the earth's average temperature were to rise to 500 degrees, all humans would be dead regardless of the "clever" prostate gland

4. We would expect distinct "kinds" but a lot of variety within the kinds. Animals could only reproduce after their own kinds.
equivocation -- evolution predicts that as species diverge further and further there will be distinct branches, and there are.  It also predicts that species will only be able to mate (if they reproduce sexually, which not all do) only with the same species or a closely related one.  Lions and tigers can produce offspring (ligers).  Pet dogs can mate with coyotes or wolves.

5. We would expect to have a conscience.
--No, since God apparently doesn't have regrets and we are in his image, why would we?  He ordered genocide several times and condemns good people to eternal hellfire just for not believing in him.  Not a very nice guy.  If we're like him we would kill our own children for small acts of disobedience.  If you have children, I say to them... RUN!

6. We would expect order, and incredible complexity and design in how we were made, as humanly speaking we are miracles!
--No, we would expect whimsical decisions based on whether something pleased God or not.  So do cockroaches please god?  We're made in his image and we think they're icky.  Doesn't sound very logical.

The Bible is a book of stories made up by humans who didn't understand the world.  We are by NATURE inquisitive story-tellers.  Every culture and every religion has a story of origins, and they are all different. They are different because they are the product of the human imagination, not divine revelation.  For someone to believe these fairy tales 3,000 years ago makes sense, but to believe it now is just silly.