Pharyngula

Now I’m going to have nightmares

Ken Ham, chief wackaloon at Answers in Genesis, was invited to speak…at a Pentagon prayer breakfast.

Just let that sink in.

There are people at the Pentagon who are in charge of planning where your sons and daughter and nephews and nieces and other beloved family members and friends will be sent to put their lives at risk. There are people there who can send missiles and bombers anywhere in the world. There are people there who control nuclear weapons.

And they think Ken Ham is a fine-and-dandy, clever feller.

It’s almost enough to make me wish I could pray. It’s not just Ham, either — it’s that the people with the big guns have prayer breakfasts.

And then, somehow, he segues into babbling about the existence of life on other worlds. He doesn’t think there is any. Look at the logic this kook uses:

The real world is the biblical world–a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life. … Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept; it does not comport with the biblical teachings of the uniqueness of the Earth and the distinct spiritual position of human beings.

Because the bible says we are the focus of the entire universe, there can’t possibly be any competitors. Of course, this means that his god created this vast, empty, uninhabitable space for no reason other than that we’ll have twinkly little stars in the sky at night…but hey, that’s the crazy Christian deity, always doing irrational stuff and encouraging his followers to be equally nuts.

Comments

  1. #1 Lago
    June 18, 2008

    Please,..kill me now

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    June 18, 2008

    Another way of looking at it would be that prayer is so trivial that no one cares who makes the prayer.

    Probably few enough of those there would think at all well of Ham. But even Ham can’t make prayers or magic spells “go wrong”. It’s impossible for them to “go right”, and when they appear to do so it’s a coincidence.

    You can rest assured that they’d never let Ham do any of their science.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 Draconiz
    June 18, 2008

    The Air force has been infiltrated by Fundies for years, Ed Brayton has covered this topic quite extensively.

  4. #4 Mark P
    June 18, 2008

    im going to kill myself

  5. #5 kirk
    June 18, 2008

    If I HAD any hair, I’d be tearing it out right now. Efing idiots.

  6. #6 Blake Stacey
    June 18, 2008

    The link syntax is screwed up. :-(

  7. #7 Wowbagger
    June 18, 2008

    Before anyone else can bring it up: yes, he’s from Queensland, Australia. Please don’t judge the state on the batshit loonery of one of its former residents.

    Remember, he had to leave Queensland in order to fulfil his deranged purpose of building a museumtheme park for fundy morons where its explained that the T-Rex had huge sharp teeth in order to husk and eat coconuts.

  8. #8 Tricia
    June 18, 2008

    Wow…just wow…Ken Ham came my mothers church and rambled all types of ridiculously absurd unproven nonsense about the impossibility of evolution (and all the churchies ate it up like a flock of sheep) I came there just to laugh at him..but..Isn’t this somewhat unconstitutional? I mean, a prayer meeting at the Pentagon. I think its semi comical how religious people are OCD when it comes to feeling “special”. I love Carl Sagan’s quote, “If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits?”… I would love to see Carl Sagan slap the sh*t out of Ken Ham=)

  9. #9 Julian
    June 18, 2008

    Wow. The real world is the biblical world. I guess I better start looking out for Philistine Giants that must be killed by three different people at three different places at three different times then. Warn your Jewish friends.

    Gives me a good reason to grow my hair out though. Olympic Weight Lifting, here I come!

  10. #10 Zeno
    June 18, 2008

    And why, pray tell, is the Pentagon even having a prayer breakfast?

  11. #11 ndt
    June 18, 2008

    PZ, do you have a link?

  12. #12 Kimpatsu
    June 18, 2008

    So, if NASA finds life on other planets, such as bacteria on Mars, will he recant?
    Nah, didn’t think so…

  13. #13 hje
    June 18, 2008

    I wonder if he told them about the threat to “our precious bodily fluids.”

  14. #14 Pat McComb
    June 18, 2008

    I believe this leads to the intended link:
    http://tinyurl.com/6c5uwn

  15. #15 Robert Byers
    June 18, 2008

    Ken Ham represents what tens of millions of americans believe is the truth on origins.
    To exclude the historic Christian belief on origins is to exclude the reality of American thought.
    By the way the universe was probably made for man to colonize. By this time in history if there had not been the fall the world be populaed with everyone who ever lived and more that would of been born. Crowded and nowhere to go put way up. It seems reasonable for creationists to conclude the universe would of been by now populated by humans on man manipulated planets. We’re way behind in actions if not science fiction.

  16. #16 Kel
    June 18, 2008

    Before anyone else can bring it up: yes, he’s from Queensland, Australia. Please don’t judge the state on the batshit loonery of one of its former residents.

    Like I’ve said before Wowbagger, we can bag the state based on it’s current loony residents ;)

    But yeah, I’m with you. It’s good that Ken Ham is out of Australia, just as I’m sure the Kiwis are glad to see the back of Ray Comfort.

  17. #17 mayhempix
    June 18, 2008

    “INVASION OF THE GOD PEOPLE!!!!”

    It’s like a really bad 50s science fiction film
    only without the science and the fiction.

  18. #18 Brendan S
    June 18, 2008

    Plus, you know if there was life on another planet, that would be proof of God’s existance too….

  19. #19 Holbach
    June 18, 2008

    Good freaking grief! Is this demented cretin getting worse with each posting by PZ? This is what we have become aware of by this insane retard due to PZ’s ever vigilant observation. What is scary is the stuff this moron spews out that we don’t hear about at all or until much later when his damage is done. And now he has been invited to the Pentagon to speak at a prayer breakfast! Will he invoke Thor to strengthen the lords of destructive power to unleash death for a righteous cuase? Why don’t they just let him in the War Room to check things out, and let the Hambone declare, “We don’t need these weapons of destruction; they are puny when compared to my god’s power. Get rid of them and let god do it”
    And of course his god has deemed that there shall only be life on this planet and no where else in the Universe. Wow, we will never hear the end of insane rantings from this demented Hambone.

  20. #20 Alex
    June 18, 2008

    deity worshipers wielding nucular weapons, stealth aircraft, warships, and missiles.

    We’re not gonna make it.

  21. #21 Chromosome Crawl
    June 18, 2008

    “Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept”

    Hmmm. That’s funny. I always thought that THEY were the ones who said their sky fairy wasn’t of this earth….

  22. #22 CleveDan
    June 18, 2008

    I hope during Ham’s prayer he bad mouths catholics and all other Christians and non-Christians faiths besides his. These creationists have a way of over stepping their bounds that way

  23. #23 AndrewC
    June 18, 2008

    I’ve long thought that there are two big discoveries (of course there are others) that would dismantle even the strongest believer or at least make him equal with a crazy person. One is a definitive showing of how abiogenesis took place and the easier would be extraterrestrial life. I can’t name a theistic god that said he cared about any other planet.

  24. #24 eigenvector
    June 18, 2008

    PZ, I know you are just making this up to mess with our brains! Please tell me you are just making this up!!! Please!! Please…..

    An aside: Thank you for your wonderful comments on being a father; I shared it all around and everybody loved it!

  25. #25 Benjamin Franklin
    June 18, 2008

    Words of wisdom from Isaac Asimov, from his wonderful treatise “The Threat of Creationism”:

    It is religion that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for or even against evolution, march in the army of the night with their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.

  26. #26 ngong
    June 18, 2008

    I’ve long thought that there are two big discoveries (of course there are others) that would dismantle even the strongest believer or at least make him equal with a crazy person. One is a definitive showing of how abiogenesis took place and the easier would be extraterrestrial life. I can’t name a theistic god that said he cared about any other planet.

    I couldn’t immediately google the quotes, but there was a time when a good number of Christian theologians believed that Mars and the moon MUST have life, since there’s no way God would create so much barren space.

  27. #27 Wowbagger
    June 18, 2008

    Kel, #16, wrote:

    Like I’ve said before Wowbagger, we can bag the state based on it’s current loony residents ;)

    Oh, I’m fine with that – I do a bit of it myself; if Queensland was that great I’d still live there. But now I live in South Australia – in the ‘City of Churches’, no less…

    I’m dreading the day when I’m no longer surprised (and sickened) by the institutionalised craziness that happens in the US.

    A prayer breakfast at the Pentagon? I mean, WTF? Has it not occurred to them that if prayer actually worked then they’d all be out of a job? Almost everyone who prays asks for world peace; I doubt that many request the continuing need for a grossly over-funded defence department with dubious ties to the military-industrialist complex.

    Idiots.

  28. #28 James F
    June 18, 2008

    By the way, I’m digging the background Gumby cartoon in addition to Comic Sans font.

  29. #29 Tater
    June 18, 2008

    Hey, look on the bright side….Perhaps an honest to goodness verified extraterrestrial encounter will finally place the Bible squarely in fiction isle.
    Something to look forward to. Thank Mr. Ham for setting the stage…

  30. #30 Benjamin Franklin
    June 18, 2008

    Next up in the Pentagon’s lecture series-

    Dale Earnhart Jr. on “How to drive an Abrahms tank in Baghdad”

    followed after the prayer breakout by “How to drive on Mars”

    Sign up now with the Pentagon Chaplain’s office

  31. #31 Kel
    June 18, 2008

    Oh, I’m fine with that – I do a bit of it myself; if Queensland was that great I’d still live there. But now I live in South Australia – in the ‘City of Churches’, no less.

    From memory, isn’t Adelaide the least religious city in Australia according to the latest census?

  32. #32 Neil
    June 18, 2008

    Ken Ham and the War Pigs, huh? Maybe we’ll get lucky and the bastards will eat each other for breakfast.

  33. #33 frog
    June 18, 2008

    The real world is the biblical world–a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life. … Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept; it does not comport with the biblical teachings of the uniqueness of the Earth and the distinct spiritual position of human beings.

    The man’s logic is impeccable. If we really live in Plato’s cave and the empirical world is just a shadow of the absolute, then the absolute can only be reached absolutely by revelation — and it is imperative to do so. Therefore, any empirical evidence that conflicts with the idealist universe must be dismissed. Vulgar Platonists — gah, they should’ve buried the student with the master.

    How long is it going to take to bury this Greek crap?

  34. #34 Holbach
    June 18, 2008

    Benjamin Franklin @ 25 I have not read that pasage from “The Threat Of Creationism” by Isaac for some time and it is ever more meaningful and portentious at this scary time in our country. Thanks for posting it.

  35. #35 Helioprogenus
    June 18, 2008

    Are we just pawns as these fuckers go around parading their ignorance in front of the world? If this idiot went around spouting some nonesense about the Quran being the inerrant work of allah, or how g-d made said pork is bad, therefore the pentagon must stop serving it in the deli, the country would be up in arms. Just because the majority of the brainless twits in this country believe in some dead jew granting them immortality, any asshole spouting such bullshit has a public pulpit to pronounce his idiocy. What the fuck happened to this being a secular nation? These fucks don’t belong anywhere near any institution fed and bloated on our taxes.

    I wonder when these idiots will learn that our true master and lord is the 7th dimensional Grolshaparkaslakrzwik, who assures our existence as long as we feed it the decapitated heads of the infidels who eat vegetables. When will they learn that eating vegetables, especially carrots is wrong, and deserves damnation in the 6th dimension? When will they come to read the monumental 7000 page treastise on the life and times of Grolshaparkaslakrzwik and come to embrace and understand the truth. It shall be revealed to those who ritually smash their genitals on the spiked orbs of revelation? Of course, for those of the reformed Grolshaparkaslakrzwik movement, they may have to restrain from striking their genitals with the spiked orbs of revelation, and instead, must use the poly-octagonal orbs of revelation.

  36. #36 kcanadensis
    June 18, 2008

    One word: scary.

  37. #37 Wowbagger
    June 18, 2008

    From memory, isn’t Adelaide the least religious city in Australia according to the latest census?

    I hadn’t heard that. It’d surprise me, since there’s a lot of institutionalised woo here – there’s a Xian College, lots of private church-affiliated schools, plus lots of happy-clappy, singalong church groups (one being that which Guy Sebastian, who won our version of Idol, belongs to) – and I know more than a few people keen on a career in some form of church leadership or missionary capacity.

    One can always hope, though…

  38. #38 S. Scott
    June 18, 2008

    Hopefully it will all be over soon.

    Obama…Obama…Obama…

  39. #39 Lycosid
    June 18, 2008

    hje #13,

    Forget evolution, fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face.

    Brilliant reference on your part. I salute you.

  40. #40 Sven DiMilo
    June 18, 2008

    Ugh…my stomach hurts.
    p.s. you really think Obama is going to abolish Pentagon prayer breakfasts? Not a chance.

    By the way, why don’t these people ever pray at lunchtime? Or at tea?

  41. #41 H. Telruim Malton
    June 18, 2008

    This is nothing new. I’ve been to the Pentagon a few times, and one time I passed by a huge table set up in one of the corridors from behind which people were handing out free copies of “The Purpose Driven Life”.

  42. #42 Patricia
    June 18, 2008

    OT – My local news station just reported a 16 year-old Gladstone, Oregon boy is dead. Of the same extended family, and church as the last poor little fundie girl. He had a fully treatable bladder problem.
    Prayer really helps.
    Stupid christian bastards!

  43. #43 Andrew
    June 18, 2008

    Sent to the gov, and sent the following to all my email contacts:

    Hello All,

    I am reluctant to send an email to so many people, many of whom I do not know, but for one reason or another have found their way into my address book. However, I feel so strongly about this issue that I cannot, in good conscience, restrain myself because this issue requires national attention.

    Just recently, a bill in the Louisiana state legislature called Senate Bill 733, “Louisiana Science Education Act” passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting Governor Bobby Jindal’s signature or veto. He has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.

    This seemingly noble bill is a veiled attempt to insert religion, specifically Intelligent Design, into the science curricula of public schools as a scientific alternative to the Theory of Evolution. This “theory”, which is the same as Creationism, the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis as scientific fact, has been rejected by the scientific consensus ( American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Center for Science Education, National Academy of Sciences, etc.).

    Science is the use of evidence to construct testable explanations and predictions of natural phenomena, as well as the knowledge generated through this process. Religion is based in faith, which is fine, but it does not belong in a discipline driven by evidence and testable hypotheses. To introduce religion into science classes is to stifle scientific progress. Look around you right now and take note of all the objects that are owed to scientific advancement and understanding.

    The Louisiana Coalition for Science has much more information here.

    This bill affects not just the the state of Louisiana, but the entire country in the precedent it sets and the precedents it ignores.

    Please let the Governor know your feelings on this matter of national import before he takes action. Below is the open letter from the LA Coalition for Science.

    As I said, this is an extremely important issue to me, and I believe it should be to everyone who values the Separation of Church and State. Government should not impose on religion and religion should not impose on government.

    Thanks for your time.

  44. #44 Helioprogenus
    June 18, 2008

    lest one thing I was writing god as g-d for religious reasons, I was just mocking the whole fucking idiocy of it. Some go out of their way to design their deities in the most garish fashion, others kill you if you try to illustrate the appearanec of their deity, while still others can’t even spell out the name of the fucking useless deity. This better not be the future.

  45. #45 Julian
    June 18, 2008

    frog: Well, we were almost done with it, then that jerk Hegel had to come along and revamp it for imperialist Europe, angering and driving Marx bonkers enough to invent communism. Thanks allot Plato, you woman-hating futon.

  46. #46 Pierce R. Butler
    June 18, 2008

    Hey, if anybody at AiG is reading this, could ya please ask Mr. Ham to get some comments from a tank officer on this Bible verse:

    Judges 1:19 And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

    Unless the angels have upgraded their equipment, this has serious strategic implications for the scheduled skirmish at Har Megiddo.

    Thanks!

  47. #47 Wowbagger
    June 18, 2008

    Thanks allot Plato, you woman-hating futon.

    ‘Futon’ is an insult now?

  48. #48 JohnB
    June 18, 2008

    This notion religion has of humans as the be-all end-all of the universe is as immature and self-absorbed as a baby who feels itself to be the center of existence. We’re still in the baby stage, we humans. Probably the vast majority of us. Everything revolves around us, it’s all for us. Aren’t we just so special.

    I wonder how long it’ll take us to grow out of this illusion of central position.

  49. #49 Patricia
    June 18, 2008

    News report video:
    http://www.kgw.com/video/index.html?nvid=255637
    My state sucks. No law against this stupid deadly child abuse.
    So just where the FUCK was gawd?!

  50. #50 Rey Fox
    June 18, 2008

    “The real world is the biblical world–a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life”

    That’s right, turn off the telescopes and dust off that bible. Fuck you very much, Ken Ham.

    “p.s. you really think Obama is going to abolish Pentagon prayer breakfasts? Not a chance.”

    Probably not, but maybe he’d invite that Reverend Wright fellow to one. That might liven things up a bit.

  51. #51 MH
    June 18, 2008

    hje #13: “I wonder if he told them about the threat to ‘our precious bodily fluids.'”

    That’s funny as it is chilling. I’m kinda wishing that I’d never seen that film so that I wouldn’t know what you were insinuating.

  52. #52 BMurray
    June 18, 2008

    At least he’s finally made a concrete prediction — we will never ever find evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

  53. #53 Capital Dan
    June 18, 2008

    Psst… Andrew @ #43? You in the wrong spot. You want the room next door. It’s the one with all the noise and cigar smoke.

    This place is for kicking Ham around.

  54. #54 Scott D.
    June 18, 2008

    “Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept; it does not comport with the biblical teachings of the uniqueness of the Earth and the distinct spiritual position of human beings.”

    Funny how “Humble” Christians who feel that the universe was created for them alone have the audacity to call atheist arrogant.

  55. #55 Paula Helm Murray
    June 18, 2008

    Um, P.Z., do you remember where you left the brainwash? I need to scritch out that image.

    farking yikes.

  56. #56 antaresrichard
    June 18, 2008

    Well, if Jebus fails to make his return appearance, we can still all be blown to kingdom come!

  57. #57 T Menacher
    June 18, 2008

    Call him a wackaloon, but note that on his website he tells you how to sign up for electronic funds transfer and monthly giving. He makes more money off this nonsense than god.

  58. #58 Mena
    June 18, 2008

    Darn you Helioprogenus @ 35, darn you for the ear worm!

  59. #59 black wolf
    June 18, 2008

    Some quotes from KH on Israel (from his blog): “Evidence that overwhelming supports the Bible is thus missed! Archaeology is another area that needs to be dealt with, just as we deal with evolution and millions of years.”
    “I also found out they do teach the Bible in schools over here [Israel], but the Bible teachers are what we would call extremely liberal. They teach that the Bible is a collection of myths, fables, etc. There’s an incredible anti-Christian bias in the schools-this is truly a pagan country.”
    “[Israeli kids] don’t really know how to make moral judgments…” (Remember the study that was done in Israel where the kids overwhelmingly answered that genocide is ok when God orders it, but morally wrong when not?)
    “We also drove through an area where many of the Orthodox Jews live-so sad to see the men, women and children who are all lost, and going to a Christless eternity…”

  60. #60 Angel Rose Young
    June 18, 2008

    I came across Answers in Genesis quite a while ago (early 2005 I think). I was doing research for an online debate I was having with an ex Ass. of God preacher I met on a most scandalous site. I thought Answers in Genesis was the most ridiculous site I had ever seen until this preacher introduced me to the “Gap Theory” and sent me to a site called Christian Geology. This site’s depiction of the flood, and where all that water came from, had me in stitches and horrified me at the same time. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a laugh a minute. Anyone knowledgeable in the Earth Sciences should probably have heart medication real handy. That link is http://www.kjvbible.org/ if you want a really good laugh. If you go, do scroll down to the topic “The Fountains of Noah’s Flood and the Windows of Heaven”. That should keep you in stitches for a while. All the articles are said to be written by Gaines R. Johnson, and an APO address is listed for this person. Scary…

  61. #61 Ragutis
    June 18, 2008

    Prayer? At the Pentagon? Did it go anything like this:

    “O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them – in spirit – we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

  62. #62 Foo
    June 18, 2008

    I think he was invited there by Air Force General Buck Turgidson.

    My 9 year-old knows more about science than Ken Ham.

  63. #63 BaldApe
    June 18, 2008

    Of course, this means that his god created this vast, empty, uninhabitable space for no reason other than that we’ll have twinkly little stars in the sky at night

    Of course it’s really worse than that. The vast majority of those stars aren’t even visible from Earth.

    I remember some young Earth creationist arguing that the Earth can’t be billions of years old because all those years without humans would be “meaningless placeholders.”

  64. #64 Brachychiton
    June 18, 2008

    From memory, isn’t Adelaide the least religious city in Australia according to the latest census?

    I just checked the 2006 census summary cos I found this interesting. Apparently, Darwin has the highest percentage of non-believers. 25.5% of the city’s population has no religious affiliation. Mind you, that translates to only 26,693 people.

    Adelaide has the second highest percentage at 24% or 265,129 people.

    Melbourne, it appears, has the largest number of godless. Although only 20% of the population is non-believieng, that’s 717,717 people.

    More detailed analyses are available. But I’d better get back to work.

  65. #65 ndt
    June 18, 2008

    This notion religion has of humans as the be-all end-all of the universe is as immature and self-absorbed as a baby who feels itself to be the center of existence. We’re still in the baby stage, we humans. Probably the vast majority of us. Everything revolves around us, it’s all for us. Aren’t we just so special.

    I wonder how long it’ll take us to grow out of this illusion of central position.

    Posted by: JohnB | June 18, 2008 9:25 PM

    Well if it took humanity 200,000 years to mature to the age of a two-year-old, then we can conclude that one humanity year is roughly 100,000 person years. So it’ll be another 1,600,000 to 1,900,000 years before humanity as a whole reaches anything like an adult level of empathy and impulse control, and we will have to wait until humanity has been existence 2,500,000 years before our cosmic car insurance rates go down.

  66. #66 Kel
    June 18, 2008

    I just checked the 2006 census summary cos I found this interesting.

    thanks for that link. Where I am now had 23.3% of non-believers, though I wasn’t here (Canberra) at the time.

  67. #67 Wicked Lad
    June 18, 2008

    Bald Ape beat me to it. The twinkly little stars we can see are only the a paltry portion of the vast, empty universe…that god created for us.

  68. #68 Screechy Monkey
    June 18, 2008

    My first thought was “I thought he was still in prison for tax evasion,” and then I realized I was getting my creationist fucktards confused.

  69. #69 moioci
    June 18, 2008

    Three random thoughts:

    Wasn’t this argument (man= the center of God’s creation)the very same one leveled against Galileo and heliocentrism? I thought this was refuted 500 years ago.

    There’s no chance that Jindal won’t sign the bill in question. It will endear him to his mancrush, Johnnie Mac and the fundamentalists who are wishy-washy on McCain. If it’s overturned in court, that’ll further their ‘activist judges’ agenda.

    Third, if you had the ability to blow lots of people to kingdom come, you’d probably want to put the blame on an invisible, inaccessible absolute authority.

  70. #70 Jeph
    June 18, 2008

    Wasn’t Giordano Bruno burned at the stake for positing (among lots of other things) extraterrestrial life? SETI researchers need to tread lightly around the Pentagon.

  71. #71 Brain Hertz
    June 18, 2008

    @ Patricia #49:

    But there is a law against it. The religious shield from prosecution in cases of children subjected to withheld medical attention was legislated out of existence in 1999. As a result, the parents of this 16 year old face prosecution (and prosecution is in progress for his deceased cousin already).

    The thing is, being illegal doesn’t necessarily prevent kooks from killing their kids in the first place.

  72. #72 genesgalore
    June 18, 2008

    OH GOOD GOD!!! EVEN THOUGH THERE ISN’T ONE.

  73. #73 J. D. Mack
    June 18, 2008

    Not that this will make most of us feel better, but I thought I’d post this.

    The Pentagon Prayer Breakfast is sponsored by the Pentagon Chaplain’s office ( http://www.hqda.army.mil/chaplain/default.htm ) Here are some of the other things they sponsor:

    – Catholic Confession at 1115 hrs, Monday – Friday in room 1E438.

    – Catholic Mass at 1130 hrs, Monday – Friday in the Chapel – 1E438.

    – Episcopal service is each Wednesday at 1230 hrs, Chapel room -1E438.

    – Hindu Service at 1230 each Thursday in the Chapel – 1E438.

    – Jewish Service and Torah study at 1230 hrs each Friday – 1E438.

    – Latter Day Saints service is at 1100 on Thursdays in the Caucus Conference Room inside of room 1E423.

    – Muslim service is at 1400 hrs each Friday and prayers are offered Monday – Thursday at 1400 in the Memorial Chapel – Room 1E438.

    So you can see, there is at least the possibility that people of other faiths (other than atheists) aren’t having their rights totally trampled, and that the Constitution isn’t being violated.

    J. D.

  74. #74 raven
    June 18, 2008

    Byers the Death Cultist moron:

    Ken Ham represents what tens of millions of americans believe is the truth on origins.

    Well you are incredibly stupid like all creos. 20% of the US population believes the sun orbits the earth. 30% believe in astrology. Not so long ago, half the US believed black people were subhumans but made good slaves, believed enough to fight a vicious war over it. Ken Ham represents the darkness of the human soul, the part that can’t understand reality much less accept it. So do you.

    Byers the moron:

    To exclude the historic Christian belief on origins is to exclude the reality of American thought.

    More dumbness. To exclude racism, religiously perpetrated murder, slavery, and the massacre of Native Americans excludes the reality of American thought We don’t exclude anything, we just say some historical thoughts were evil and wrong.

    Byers the troll:

    By the way the universe was probably made for man to colonize. By this time in history if there had not been the fall the world be populaed with everyone who ever lived and more that would of been born. Crowded and nowhere to go put way up. It seems reasonable for creationists to conclude the universe would of been by now populated by humans on man manipulated planets. We’re way behind in actions if not science fiction.

    I see you know your bible as well as you know science, logical thinking, and the truth. Not in the least. Before the fall, the first two people were innocent and didn’t reproduce. Without the fall, there would still be 2 immortals running around in a garden.

    The galaxy may be empty and may be ours for the taking. If that happens it won’t be because of fundies with a brain the size of a walnut who want to bring back the Dark Ages. It will be many clever, well educated scientists who provide the technology. The fundies will just be noise and sand in the machinery. Like they are now.

  75. #75 Bacopa
    June 18, 2008

    The fundie effort at the USAF Academy took a blow today with a chane of leadership. New guy’s Jewish, and not some kind of goofball Ultra-Orthodox end-tmes’er.

    The fundie effort to get access to The Bomb has been thwarted to an extent.

  76. #76 melior
    June 18, 2008

    By the way the universe was probably made for man to colonize.

    By this logic, humans were probably made for E. coli to colonize, and this troll was almost certainly made for our amusement.

  77. #77 Kel
    June 18, 2008

    Ken Ham represents what tens of millions of americans believe is the truth on origins.

    Empiricism is not a reflection of popularity among the masses.

    To exclude the historic Christian belief on origins is to exclude the reality of American thought.

    Science is not a reflection of mass belief

    By the way the universe was probably made for man to colonize. [b]By this time in history if there had not been the fall the world be populaed with everyone who ever lived and more that would of been born.[/b] Crowded and nowhere to go put way up. [b]It seems reasonable for creationists to conclude the universe would of been by now populated by humans on man manipulated planets.[/b] We’re way behind in actions if not science fiction.

    Case in point

  78. #78 Patricia
    June 18, 2008

    #71 – Brain Hertz – Thankyou for this post. The news report on TV as I posted didn’t mention this.
    I plan to look into this more as far as Oregon law goes because I have four little great grand nieces. NOT that my nieces would withhold medical treatment from their children, but because my area is full of fundy fruitcakes.

  79. #79 Brain Hertz
    June 18, 2008

    #78 Patricia:

    KGW has coverage (this is the earlier fundie fatality): http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_033008_news_faith_healing.1742971c.html

    An Oregon City couple accused of using prayer instead of medical care to try to cure their mortally ill daughter pleaded not guilty Monday in Clackamas County to charges of manslaughter and criminal mistreatment.

    Authorities say Carl Worthington, 28, and Raylene Worthington, 25, may be the first parents prosecuted in the nine years since Oregon cracked down on faith-healing deaths. They could spend more than six years in prison.

    The Worthingons are members of the “Followers of Christ Church” in Oregon City. It’s a church with a long history of child deaths., a history that led lawmakers to eliminate legal protections for parents who practice to faith healing.

    Since the new laws took effect in 1999, said child abuse Detective Jeff Green of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, “We haven’t seen any cases of significant medical neglect … until now.”

  80. #80 speedwell
    June 18, 2008

    Goddammit, you got me with that one. My vote will go to Obama this election. (Bleah.)

  81. #81 Brain Hertz
    June 18, 2008

    I should have added – I don’t think this is something that you need to worry about in the general case. It’s one particular wackadoodle church that is responsible.

  82. #82 Disciple of "Bob"
    June 18, 2008

    @62

    I can no longer sit back and allow atheist infiltration, atheist indoctrination, atheist subversion, and the international atheist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

  83. #83 BobC
    June 19, 2008

    “Ken Ham, chief wackaloon at Answers in Genesis, was invited to speak…at a Pentagon prayer breakfast.”

    I thought PZ invented a new word, wackaloon, but I found a dictionary definition of it.

    wackaloon: Someone whose behavior bypasses moron idiot and dumbfuck. Characterized by saying or doing the same stupid thing over and over even though others have pointed out your ridiculous behavior.

  84. #84 shane
    June 19, 2008

    Soon only those that pray will have guns…

    ‘Futon’ is an insult now?

    Yep it gets worse. You spring-filled-quilted-cover mattress or you foam-rubber-plastic-sheeted block… Futon is more succinct though.

  85. #85 clinteas
    June 19, 2008

    Apart from the overwhelming feeling of impending doom this leaves me with,Im not quite sure what to be more bewildered with :
    The fact that the people with the finger on the bombin the US have prayer breakfasts,or the fact that they think,as PZ put it so nicely,”that Ken Ham is a fine-and-dandy, clever feller”.

  86. #86 AndrewC
    June 19, 2008

    ngong,
    I’m well aware of that, but I don’t see how it would mesh at all with the Earth being favored and unless they found life on EVERY body, then they’d have no argument.

  87. #87 Wowbagger
    June 19, 2008

    that Ken Ham is a fine-and-dandy, clever feller”.

    They’re probably using the same measurement system as GWB did when he said that the guy whose incomepetence led to the Katrina disaster being all-that-much worse was doing a ‘heckuva job’.

    It’s sad for me – as it should be for everyone – that (probably) the first Queenslander to be invited to the Pentagon is this embarrassing, demented idiot.

  88. #88 andrew
    June 19, 2008

    Fuck.

  89. #89 clinteas
    June 19, 2008

    Wowbagger,iv taken the day off work,whats your excuse to hang around here all day LOL

    And I would not want to be “invited”to the Pentagon,nor any other place in the US for that matter,dont like flying to countries where the Gestapo,sorry Homeland Security,can just lock you up if they dont like your face….

  90. #90 Kel
    June 19, 2008

    It’s sad for me – as it should be for everyone – that (probably) the first Queenslander to be invited to the Pentagon is this embarrassing, demented idiot.

    We’ve had Rudd at the whitehouse so it’s not all bad.

  91. #91 Psychocow
    June 19, 2008

    I’m not surprised at all. They start on the bottom and work their way up. The armed forces is one of the biggest god cultures I’ve ever seen. As a member myself I feel rather compelled to keep my mouth shut a lot of the time if the topic of religion ever come up. Basic training alone is like the world greatest closed audience for religious converting. Most people who aren’t religious begin to go to church there just to get out of sunday morning work and they’re exposed to quite an emotional rollercoaster of a show. I have to think that quite a bit of that sticks with a lot of people and end up carrying that right up the chain of command.

  92. #92 Wowbagger
    June 19, 2008

    Clinteas, you have a point – though I’d love to be the one to be there when it gets closed down for there being no reason for it to be around anymore – and turned into the ‘Five Corners Mall’ a la that Simpsons episode.

    I tend to forget Kevin07 is from Queensland. Why am I always focusing on the negatives?

  93. #93 Patricia
    June 19, 2008

    Thankyou Brain Hertz – I do intend to look into this matter more closely. I live in one of the most ass backwards counties in Oregon, but I think the District Attorney will answer my questions on this matter.
    If a law was passed in 1999, then the deaths of these kids is even worse, this is just sickening. Oregon needs to grow up.

  94. #94 Nomad
    June 19, 2008

    This has reminded me of the time when I was just out of high school and I got a call from my friendly neighborhood army recruiter. At the time I just gave a muttered explanation that I’m an independent thinker and I didn’t think I’d do well in the military as to why I wasn’t interesting in offering up my life to be sacrificed in any politically expedient war that the government should happen to take a fancy to.

    I’ve got so many more things to add to my list now. The fun of having to choose between being punished for disobeying illegal orders, or being punished for obeying illegal orders was previously high on my list. Now the fact that the US military has become a recruiting arm of the fundamentalists is right at the top.

  95. #95 Brian Coughlan
    June 19, 2008

    I wonder when these idiots will learn that our true master and lord is the 7th dimensional Grolshaparkaslakrzwik, who assures our existence as long as we feed it the decapitated heads of the infidels who eat vegetables.

    Wow, that sounds pretty interesting.

    Do you have a pamphlet?

  96. #96 Patricia
    June 19, 2008

    #83-BobC – Aha sir, I have you.
    There is no such word in the Queens English as ‘wackaloon’. No, sir.
    The Eleventh Edition of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary has no definition of ‘wackaloon’.
    Take care sir, there are ladies AND sluts on this blog.

  97. #97 Wowbagger
    June 19, 2008

    You’re far more principled than I, Nomad. Despite being raised in a gun-loving environment (and was taught to shoot to kill before I was 8) I was turned off by the early mornings and running about while carrying heavy stuff…

    And I can’t imagine that the Australian Army is quite as Xian indoctrinal as the US equivalent. Church would get in the way of all the drinking and ganging up to bash (mostly) harmless university students.

  98. #98 H.H.
    June 19, 2008

    Maybe they just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the promotional line “Come join us for Ham and eggs.”

  99. #99 Autumn
    June 19, 2008

    I very briefly (three days) attended The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.
    This is a public college, supported by public funds.
    Incoming freshmen (knobs, plebes, shit-for-brainses) were, at least in 1994, required to attend chapel sevices every Sunday for their first year. It was explained that non-believers were not required to participate, but that attendence and wakefulness were necessary.
    My brother and a couple of my friends attended the United States Naval Academy, and they reported similar requirements.
    It’s difficult to tease out the true nature of the requirements, as we all entered that stage of our lives as nominal believers, and may have accepted our lot to pretend to pay attention in church; most of us had been using church to sleep with our eyes open ever since we discovered Saturday nights.
    I never did find out what would happen to, say, an Orthodox Jew who wished to worship on Saturday, and to work on Sunday.
    At least in terms of The Citadel, I’m fairly certain that they never have had to deal with any Orthodox Jews, or Muslims of any kind. The Citadel is a cathedral of the Confederacy to the point that an African-American company commander had a giant Nazi flag in his room to symbolize M (Mike) company; Mike’s Reich.
    He was told to remove it, and the designation “Mike’s reich” was also discouraged, but still…

  100. #100 Autumn
    June 19, 2008

    My point, which I laboured to arrive at, and may have skipped entirely, is that group-think is powerful and influential; it is also either suicidal or genocidal when taken to its logical end.

  101. #101 Paul Murray
    June 19, 2008

    Wowbaggter – this is absolutely typical for Queenslanders. I lived there for three months – un-freaking-belivable. The place is a facist hellhole, Australia’s Texas.

  102. #102 Masks of Eris
    June 19, 2008

    I don’t know what these Bible-and-breakfast things are like, but hey, anyway, I can make up a pretty plausible scenario of how they might end:

    Prayer breakfast at the Pentagon

    Speaker: “Oh, and one more thing. Could you do me a little favor?”

    General: “Huh?”

    S: “Er, there’s this one person in Oxford I don’t like —”

    G: “And what do you mean by that?”

    S: “Uh, if you could somehow, er, neutralize him —”

    G: “My dear man! This isn’t the CIA!”

    S: “Ah, sorry. I just —”

    G: “We don’t do half measures! If that fella annoys you so much, we’ll flatten the entire country!”

    S: “Uh, hm, thanks?”

    G: “Wait — Oxford’s not in the States, right?”

    S: “No. It’s… Wait. What’s that other place where they speak English?”

    G: “Hm, English… English… Ah! Australia. Lieutenant, would you be so kind as to lob a few thousand big ones at Australia. Yes, those big megaton penile thingumbobs. Oh, and call the press secretary; there might be inquiries.”

  103. #103 Serena
    June 19, 2008

    I am really hoping that Glen @#2 is right and the only reason a complete loon like Ken Ham was even allowed in the building is because the prayer breakfast is not a big deal.

    Something tells me that may be wishful thinking.
    Then all I have to say is:

    WHY?!?! WHY!?!?!? Make it go away…..I can’t take it anymore. *sob*

  104. #104 Jeanette Garcia
    June 19, 2008

    People like Ham, inhabit a teensy, tiny little world, devoid of imagination or curiosity. The bible is probably the only book he has ever read. Why is the Pentagon inviting this cretin, ding bat to lead prayer? What is the intelligence quotient of our leaders? GAh!

  105. #105 amk
    June 19, 2008

    And then, somehow, he segues into babbling about the existence of life on other worlds. He doesn’t think there is any.

    Best argument for SETI, as well as microbe-hunting interplanetary probes, that I’ve ever heard.

  106. #106 clinteas
    June 19, 2008

    Paul Murray,
    Queensland is a many things,but not a fascist(and certainly not a facist)hellhole,you might want to rethink that one and inform yourself a little bit first.

  107. #107 Wowbagger
    June 19, 2008

    Paul Murray #101, wrote:

    Wowbagger – this is absolutely typical for Queenslanders. I lived there for three months – un-freaking-belivable. The place is a facist hellhole, Australia’s Texas.

    Fascist hellhole, yes. But fundie, no. There are some standards.

    And I lived there for 24 years

  108. #108 Michael
    June 19, 2008

    Because the bible says we are the focus of the entire universe, there can’t possibly be any competitors. Of course, this means that his god created this vast, empty, uninhabitable space for no reason other than that we’ll have twinkly little stars in the sky at night

    lol, PZ…Does that mean it’s impossible to have no other life than human in the Universe?

  109. #109 anaglyph
    June 19, 2008

    We’re not the centre of the Universe? You mean Copernicus was right? I really have to check Google News more often.

  110. #110 Serena
    June 19, 2008

    Some interesting qoutes from the link provided:

    “Also, the Bible makes it clear that the whole of creation groans because of sin (Romans 8:22)–and that Jesus stepped into history on earth to become a human (the God man)-…”

    “So, it wouldn’t make any sense for there to be intelligent beings like us on other planets–they would be suffering from the effects of sin but can’t have salvation, as only descendants of Adam can be saved.”

    End quote.

    Wow. He’s right. God’s a dick.

  111. #111 clinteas
    June 19, 2008

    @Serena,No 110 :

    Thanks for that quote,because all of a sudden it has become totally clear to me that the guy is actually mentally ill in the clinical sense.Because that there :

    //”So, it wouldn’t make any sense for there to be intelligent beings like us on other planets–they would be suffering from the effects of sin but can’t have salvation, as only descendants of Adam can be saved.”//

    is confabulations if I ever seen any.

  112. #112 Lightnin
    June 19, 2008

    Don’t forget Pauline Hanson and Joh Bjelke-Petersen!

    I’m sorry, I’m only bagging Queenslanders cause I love ‘em so much :P

  113. #113 Serena
    June 19, 2008

    clinteas
    “is confabulations if I ever seen any”

    Yeah, he’s a nutter all right.
    You know for some reason the extreme arrogance of religious people never ceases to surprise me. Each time I think I’ve seen or heard the limit, and then my eyebrows shoot to a new extreme yet again. I guess I am still shocked that they actually believe what they claim.

    It’ funny and then it’s scary.

  114. #114 Rey Fox
    June 19, 2008

    Michael: No. That’s not what he said at all. Do try and keep up. Sound words out if you have to, and remember to think about the tone in which PZ might have intended them. And stop laughing all the time. You sound like Beavis and/or Butthead.

  115. #115 Emma
    June 19, 2008

    “I wonder when these idiots will learn that our true master and lord is the 7th dimensional Grolshaparkaslakrzwik, who assures our existence as long as we feed it the decapitated heads of the infidels who eat vegetables.”

    Apostate! Heretic! The Lord or 11 Dimensions shall cast you into the singularity of the abyss! The true, inerrant text clearly states that it is the decapitated heads of infidels who eat RAW vegetables which are the acceptable offerings, except for red-heads. In orthodox areas, the infidels, unfortunately, have started treating their hair with henna and hair dyes. Saint Fryxyllasthos has explained that the Lord’s rejection of red-haired offerings is due to their resemblance to carrots.
    **************
    If you think this nonsense is silly, see Leviticus for it litany of proscriptions!

  116. #116 Emma
    June 19, 2008

    “I wonder when these idiots will learn that our true master and lord is the 7th dimensional Grolshaparkaslakrzwik, who assures our existence as long as we feed it the decapitated heads of the infidels who eat vegetables.”

    Apostate! Heretic! The Lord or 11 Dimensions shall cast you into the singularity of the abyss! The true, inerrant text clearly states that it is the decapitated heads of infidels who eat RAW vegetables which are the acceptable offerings, except for red-heads. In orthodox areas, the infidels, unfortunately, have started treating their hair with henna and hair dyes. Saint Fryxyllasthos has explained that the Lord’s rejection of red-haired offerings is due to their resemblance to carrots.
    *****
    If you think this drivel is silly, check out the litany of proscriptions in Leviticus and the other books of the Pentateuch!

  117. #117 Atheists Love a War!
    June 19, 2008

    Hitchens and Harris are gung ho for the war.

    Harris loves anything that kills Muslims, and defends the Mecca Option and the pre-emptive use of nukes. (p.129 TEOF)

    And, since Dawkins claims most scientists are atheists, atheists have provided nuclear weapons plentifully.

    Who ya kiddin, sport?

  118. #118 clinteas
    June 19, 2008

    Take your meds,troll.

  119. #119 DiscoveredJoys
    June 19, 2008

    Tax Ken Ham

  120. #120 DiscoveredJoys
    June 19, 2008

    Pasta and meatballs for a ‘Power Lunch’, sponsored by the FSM?

    Makes as much sense.

  121. #121 Dianne
    June 19, 2008

    Being a sci-fi nerd, I’ve always hoped that the aliens would show up some day to share their views on life, the universe, and everything and maybe trade a tissue sample or two. It’d be so cool to find out what a truly different life form and civilization was like. Now I have another reason for hoping they show soon…to annoy Ken Ham.

  122. #122 Sigmund
    June 19, 2008

    Rumors have it that Ken Ham is being recruited to head up the Pentagon’s secret bioweapons division. They are planning to breed T-rex’s and want Kens advice on turning them from friendly vegetarian coconut eaters who give piggybacks to kids, into ravenous carnivores who can bite you in half at a moments notice,

  123. #123 Ragutis
    June 19, 2008

    Hey there, Atheists Love A War

    When an adult deliberately shoots someone, whose responsibility is it: the trigger puller or the manufacturer?

    And don’t try to paint all atheists with the same brush. You’ll find plenty of people here that disagree with Harris and Hitchens on many things, especially their support for the war. Don’t believe me? Try the search feature.

  124. #124 Dutch Delight
    June 19, 2008

    “you don’t believe in gods, therefore you x”.

    Unless x is “don’t believe in gods”, it’s not really all that interesting to discuss. It certainly is not interesting when instead of “gods” someone mentions his specific god or goddess, because that tells you that person lives in a tunnel.

  125. #125 Lilly de Lure
    June 19, 2008

    Wowbagger said:

    Remember, he had to leave Queensland in order to fulfil his deranged purpose of building a museumtheme park for fundy morons where its explained that the T-Rex had huge sharp teeth in order to husk and eat coconuts.

    WTF? This is a joke right?

  126. #126 negentropyeater
    June 19, 2008

    Dutch Delight

    Unless x is “don’t believe in gods”, it’s not really all that interesting to discuss.

    I’ve never really understood this argument, and I think it backfires. If really, atheism is only the absence of belief in Gods, and it has no consequences (which I expect most people here would consider beneficial) then, it’s not that interesting to discuss.
    Why can’t people be a bit more proud of their atheism and say what atheism means for them ?

  127. #127 Stephen Wells
    June 19, 2008

    The people with something to contribute are those capable of rational thought, and for those people, atheism is a consequence rather than a cause of their views.

  128. #128 True Bob
    June 19, 2008

    In a prior life, I worked near the Pentagon for the DoN. It was strange to me that so many self-proclaimed christers would be in the Department of War. I always wondered what happened to that whole “turn the other cheek” spiel. Anyway, this news does not surprise me in the least, because there are so many religios in the DoD. I saw them at all levels, and definitely in some evangelizing modes (I still have my KJV from one such nutcase).

    neg, what would atheist mean to you? To me, it means what it means – I apply it to myself to describe nothing – to set myself apart from those who are theists.

  129. #129 MrSquid
    June 19, 2008

    I’ve long thought that there are two big discoveries (of course there are others) that would dismantle even the strongest believer or at least make him equal with a crazy person. One is a definitive showing of how abiogenesis took place and the easier would be extraterrestrial life. I can’t name a theistic god that said he cared about any other planet.

    Much as I’d like to agree with you, I always figured Orson Scott Card hit close to the eventual scenario for discovery #2. In Speaker for the Dead, shortly after discovering a new alien species, the Christians set about trying to convert them, save their souls, and decry their vastly different reproductive strategy as filthy sin.

    Should that situation ever happen, you know they’ll thank their Big Buddy for being given the chance to do so much good…

  130. #130 Dutch Delight
    June 19, 2008

    To me, atheism is just a tentative conclusion based on evidence like most of my other conclusions. I don’t see much reason to be proud of that specifically since it’s not a big deal to me. It’s a big deal among people who’s opinion on the nature of reality i do not value very highly anyway.

    Thats coming from someone in a relatively secular society though, that might be the difference.

  131. #131 Fernando Magyar
    June 19, 2008

    Any chance the folks at the Pentagon could be forced to start every morning by watching this video as a little reminder of our true place in the cosmos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pfwY2TNehw

    Then follow it up with a mandatory discussion about why it is that we have scientific missions such as Phoenix sitting in the Martian Artic with a highly sophisticated array of instruments capable of detecting for extraterrestial biology.

    They should Close with a discussion about the implications that the confirmation of such life would have on the furthur diminution of our importance in the truly grand scheme of the universe.

    Good luck to you megalomaniacal humans on your speck of dust.

  132. #132 John Phillips, FCD
    June 19, 2008

    negentropyeater: Why should I be proud or ashamed of being an atheist? Unless being able to look at evidence critically, i.e. how I came to my atheism, should be considered a matter of pride rather than simply, in my opinion at least, a necessity.

  133. #133 Dianne
    June 19, 2008

    It was strange to me that so many self-proclaimed christers would be in the Department of War.

    They really should just admit that they’re really followers of Mars or Ares or one of the other Gods of War. But that would be admitting that their former religion wasn’t the One True religion and might endanger their excuse for going to war…

  134. #134 Beowulff
    June 19, 2008

    So Ken Ham claims extraterrestrial life can’t exist because the bible doesn’t mention it? The bible doesn’t mention Australia either. Ken Ham was born there though. Therefore, by his own logic, Ken Ham doesn’t exist. I am now picturing that as soon as he realizes he doesn’t actually exist, he’ll just go ‘poof’ and the world will be a better place. A guy can daydream, right?

  135. #135 NP
    June 19, 2008

    Don’t worry, PZ. Amphioxus should give creationists plenty of nightmares.

  136. #136 Donovan
    June 19, 2008

    Okay, that’s it!

    In response to this, it is time to act. There is only one continent in the world where nearly 100% of the population is intelligent, logical, and science rules the day. They have built a small outpost and I think we should join them. We sail for Antarctica! We will colonize the land as rational people, or penguins (the animal, not the Catholic kung-fu ruler master). The land will be ours! It might be cold at first, sure. But the rest of the world will destroy themselves while making Antarctica into a tropical paradise. Viva le revolution! Viva Antarctica!

  137. #137 extatyzoma
    June 19, 2008

    actually its probably a good thing that these people think prayer is effective. instead of destroying the world themselves, they will pray for god to do it, this gives us time.

  138. #138 Eric
    June 19, 2008
  139. #139 doug l
    June 19, 2008

    A number of commentors above seem to hold the belief that when Obama is president example of this will become less central to the role of leadership. I suggest those commentors expand their understanding of just how f**ked up the leadership of this system is and how it is that the leadership got there by wrapping themselves in flags and bibles..

  140. #140 Kristine
    June 19, 2008

    Ken Ham is an extraterrestrial.

  141. #141 BlueIndependent
    June 19, 2008

    #133:

    That is not sufficient. I submit that a singular god possessing the most extreme totality of power over all things big and small is more attractive to power freaks than a god or two whose sole purview is mass-scale human-on-human conflict.

  142. #142 Quiet Desperation
    June 19, 2008

    “im going to kill myself”

    Dude! YouTube it!

  143. #143 Matt Penfold
    June 19, 2008

    I would be unfair to tar all of Queensland just because of Ham.

    My sister in law comes from Brisbane, and she seems pretty sane. Of course she did marry my brother, which may make her sanity somewhat questionable, but other than that she seems sane.

  144. #144 Bill Dauphin
    June 19, 2008

    I’d be down with the “oh, let ‘em pray; we all know prayer is trivial” line if it weren’t for the various (you should pardon the expression) revelations we’ve had in the last few years regarding efforts to specifically indoctrinate military leaders and the pool of young officers from which they eventually come (esp. in the Air Force) relgiously based geopolitics. Enough people have already referenced Dr. Strangelove that all I need to say is [shudder] “mega-dittos.”

    you really think Obama is going to abolish Pentagon prayer breakfasts?

    No, but I also don’t think he’ll foster an organizational culture of “faith-based” government… and that will be a huge step back from the cliff edge the Bushies’ dominionist/neocon fusion has led us to.

    Face it: It’ll be years before we elect an atheist (or even aggressively secularist) president… but Obama is about as thoughtful/skeptical about religion in the public square as any viable candidate could be in the current political environment. “A journey of a thousand miles…” and all that, you know.

  145. #145 mary77
    June 19, 2008

    Whew. I’d be impressed if this prayer crew talked about the health & welfare of our soldiers instead of waiting for the wings, the wand, the tights & the cape…and the tiara! Pathetic [AF service brat]

  146. #146 ZombieJeebus
    June 19, 2008

    Onward Christian psycho soldiers…

    No suprise, the magic sky-fairy has a lot of followers at DoD.

    Just one example:

    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/09/19/3954/

  147. #147 baz
    June 19, 2008

    @#29: I’m ready for my anal probe now…

  148. #148 some of my co-workers are nuts
    June 19, 2008

    deity worshipers wielding nucular weapons, stealth aircraft, warships, and missiles

    Michael Behe and other lesser-known but similar nuts have given talks at Sandia National Laboratories, which is responsible for all the US nuclear weapons. Videos of these talks are available in the video services library. “Christians in the Workplace” has a number of web pages on Sandia’s web, complete with bible quotes, statement of faith, instructions on choosing a suitable (i.e. suitably fundamentalist) church, and the schedule of bible studies (on lab property).

    Shudder. The consequences are not as frightening here as with those who have their finger on the trigger, but the idiocy and mental compartmentalization required are much higher.

  149. #149 brent h
    June 19, 2008

    so, why the fuck does the pentagon have a prayer breakfast?

    and why the hell would you want to ruin the best meal? It’s the one with bacon, for fuck’s sake.

    BACON AND GOD DON’T MIX!

  150. #150 Jacques
    June 19, 2008

    Sure would be extra cool if aliens showed up this morning on the lawn of the pentagon now wouldn’t it. Almost enough to make one pray for it to happen.

  151. #151 Tom
    June 19, 2008

    This morning I was worried about my tax bill, paying for my 3 kids through college, my next contract, etc… After reading this, I just go “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha” We’re all fucked!

  152. #152 Skelli
    June 19, 2008

    @73 J.D. –

    Perhaps they could try including prayers for FSM, asatru, etc etc, and run out of rooms at the pentagon? (Sorry, can’t plan a mission today, busy being preached at).

    Doesn’t the constituntionality of that variety of prayer meetings depend on your reading? It’s okay if it’s an accomodationist reading of the constitution (don’t support one religion OVER the other), but disallowed by a separatist reading (have nothing to do with it). Too bad those in charge don’t use the Founding Fathers as anything other than a symbol – Jefferson and Madison were both staunch religion/state separtists.

    Since it’s impossible to accomodate all of the multitude of religious fancies, accomodating none seems like the practical as well as ethical solution. Of course, this is probably preaching (heh) to the choir (double heh). We all know religion has nothing to do with being practical.

  153. #153 David W. Irish
    June 19, 2008

    The attempt by Fundamentalist whack-jobs to take over the military has been going on for quite some time, and I have documented a lot of major events related to this story at my blog, “Fundamentalist Deceit: An American Tradition”, which is my research blog on Christian Fundamentalists lying for Jesus.

    Read what I found out here:

    http://fundamentalistdeceit.blogspot.com/

    I have been on top of a lot of news concerning the rising tide of Fundamentalist Morons trying to sucker America out of it’s democracy, and frequently fry my own brain on Ray Comfort’s idiotic blog.

  154. #154 Bacopa
    June 19, 2008

    I would like to point out that the DoD has been at least moderately accomodating to neopagan faiths. I think a dead soldier got a pentagram gravestone after much agitation by his family.

    As for aliens not being likely because they would be influenced by Adam’s sin but unable to participate in Jesus’ salvation: Why couldn’t he take Brother Theo’s position in Babylon 5? Theo believed that God revealed himself multiple ways on multiple worlds. O perhaps God’s just a jerk and doesn’t care whether aliens are sent to hell. Or perhaps God would reveal to the aliens that their sin trouble was the result of sin on another planet and that planet’s redeemer could save them.

    I hope it’s not the last option. If I were those aliens I’d want to build a space fleet and crush the earth. “OK, God. We got rid of the species that caused the sin problem. Let’s get back to the good old days. Remake our Eden.”

  155. #155 ndt
    June 19, 2008


    I would like to point out that the DoD has been at least moderately accomodating to neopagan faiths. I think a dead soldier got a pentagram gravestone after much agitation by his family.
    Posted by: Bacopa | June 19, 2008 2:13 PM

    “Much agitation” was actually an 11-year effort culminating in a lawsuit. The Pentagon didn’t give in until they lost the suit.

  156. #156 JJR
    June 19, 2008

    “The fundie effort to get access to The Bomb has been thwarted to an extent.”

    Except for, y’know, the Commander in Chief…
    Whom “God told me to invade Iraq”, etc.

    The description of the Citadel makes me glad I opted for Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets instead. Sure, we had our unit chaplains and there were plenty of believers, etc, but there were also plenty of hard-partying, hard drinking nonbelievers in uniform who made fun of them and slept in on Sunday mornings, too. That was the early 1990s, though–might be more Jesus-y now. I attended exactly one Bible study out of curiosity with our unit chaplain and when he let it be known he was a creationist, I laughed and never returned.

  157. #157 BpB
    June 19, 2008

    You may want to check out: http://militaryreligiousfreedom.org

    Mikey Weinstein is a former AF Acadnemy graduate and had been on the front of the fight to get the fundies out of the military.

  158. #158 kcrady
    June 19, 2008

    Wow. This makes me wish we could have an alien invasion.

    Ken Ham: “Oi’m tellin’ you goi’s, it was just a dream! There are no aliens–”

    >armada of flying saucers descends from the sky< GODDAMMIT! (><)

    Or:

    General: “But Mr. Ham, if there can’t be any aliens, then what’s that thing we’ve got in the freezer at Area 51? …Oops.”

    To be a little more serious, I don’t think that the discovery of extraterrestrial life, especially little microbes, would dent the faith of people like Ken Ham. They could retcon it pretty easily. After all, C.S. Lewis wrote books about people on Mars and Venus without getting lynched by his fans.

    What would really cause them problems IMO is:

    1) The creation of sapient robots/computers.

    2) One or more permanent human outposts elsewhere in the Solar system.

    The first would cause them problems because their human-centered theology would not allow for the creation of new intelligent life forms that would be superior to humans in many ways. Also, the idea of intelligent beings not created by their Sky King is unthinkable. For awhile at least, they’d probably claim that demons were possessing the computers (those mischeivous “Sons of God” from Genesis 6 again…).

    The second would be a challenge for them because the people living on Mars would be out of the range of the various plages and torments of the Book of Revelation, which are all targeted at the Earth.

    Still, it’s hard to imagine any actual fact that would make these people say, “Whelp…OK, we were wrong.” If they can believe their god gives us free will while simultaneously predestining all of our choices, they can believe anything.

  159. #159 S. Scott
    June 19, 2008

    Sorry to interrupt. :-)Cross Post from PT:

    … As a retired military member, I must say that this whole Ken Hamm breakfast thing has goten blown out of proportion.

    Let me explain.

    Ken Hamm has quite an ego if he thinks that he is someone “special” to have been asked to speak “at a prayer breakfast at the Pentagon !” WoW!! WooHoo!!

    The breakfast he spoke at was a weekly prayer breakfast sponsored by the Chaplains office. It’s not like the entire Pentagon shut down to go see him speak.

    Here’s a good link. You can see how important the prayer breakfast is for yourself.

    http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07c/pent…]n_spinks.pdf

    And keep in mind …

    Defense Department policy states that it ” does not endorse any one religion or religious organization; it provides free access of religion for all members of the military services; it does not judge the validity of any one religious expression over the validity of any other and it supports free access for service personnel to the religious expression of their choosing.”

  160. #160 Longtime Lurker
    June 19, 2008

    BpB@157, “big ups” for mentioning Mr Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom group. Funny how self-appointed guardian of the faith Bill Donohue never went after these fundies for proselytizing R.C. air force cadets. Guess he’s only active when liberals imperil the faithful.

    With any luck, Ham will get salmonella from a tomato breakfast burrito, and try to cure it with prayer instead of antibiotics.

    Regarding NP@#135″Don’t worry, PZ. Amphioxus should give creationists plenty of nightmares”

    Problem is, they’re sequencing the geneome of the FLORIDA lancet, and we all know how twisted Floridians are these days.

  161. #161 Kristine
    June 19, 2008

    The really hilarious thing about this is, if you hung around New Agers in the late 1980s-early 1990s (okay, I went to the Rainbow Gathering, but I wasn’t expecting such woo), or if you visit fundy websites today, they all insist that the Pentagon is rife with Satanists.

    “It’s a five-sided figure, did you ever NOTICE????!!!!” Er, no, you don’t say.

  162. #162 Maria
    June 19, 2008

    I wish they would just come out and say it,”We are an undercover theocracy in progress!” just so I can start planning my move to another country. Spirituality is fine and all but I think the forefathers had it right when they mentioned (mentioned?) separation of church and state.
    I think I am going to go eat a pound of chocolate and take a long nap now.

  163. #163 Longtime Lurker
    June 19, 2008

    Kristine, anyone who’s read “Illuminatus!” by Shea and Wilson can tell you that Yog Sothoth is imprisioned in the Pentagon.

    All hail Discordia!

  164. #164 Janine ID
    June 19, 2008

    Watch out for those golden apples marked with a “K”.

  165. #165 ryan
    June 19, 2008

    Prayer breakfasts are not new in the military. I just got out of the Army and the had them every few months. The chaplain even came to the battalion formation Monday and led a prayer. The military is heavily religious. There are atheists though despite what the fundies think about atheists in foxholes.

  166. #166 Rolan le Gargéac
    June 19, 2008

    Helioprogenus @ 35

    I wonder when these idiots will learn that our true master and lord is the 7th dimensional Grolshaparkaslakrzwik, who assures our existence as long as we feed it the decapitated heads of the infidels who eat vegetables.
    YES ! At last I have found the God I always knew was there !
    When will they learn that eating vegetables, especially carrots is wrong
    Oh Bugger !

  167. #167 S. Scott
    June 19, 2008

    To me-this is much more of a story than the breakfast thing. I was just alerted that there is an “Intelligent Design game!” ROTFL LMAO!

  168. #168 Krubozumo Nyankoye
    June 19, 2008

    #s 49, 71 etc.

    The Oregon faith healing law can be found at:
    http://www.leg.state.or.us/99reg/measures/hb2400.dir/hb2494.en.html

    It only applies to children under 14 years of age.

  169. #169 Rob
    June 19, 2008

    That was the logic that also told them the sun revolved around the earth.

    Man was that logic WRONG!

  170. #170 Wowbagger
    June 19, 2008

    Lilly de Lure:

    Wowbagger said:

    Remember, he had to leave Queensland in order to fulfil his deranged purpose of building a museumtheme park for fundy morons where its explained that the T-Rex had huge sharp teeth in order to husk and eat coconuts.

    WTF? This is a joke right?

    Sadly, no. It’s not a joke. There’s a Pharyngula post in the last month or so that links to a review someone wrote – sorry, I haven’t got the time to find the link – and that’s one of the ‘explanations’.

  171. #171 Mooser, Bummertown
    June 19, 2008

    Well, after all, PZ, if you can be a “militant atheist” why can’t they be “militant theists”?

    If you want to think that the “theist” is more of a problem than the “militant” you just go right on thinking that. See where it’ll get ya’.

  172. #172 Mooser, Bummertown
    June 19, 2008

    Anyway, they better pray over there at the Pentagon. They can’t even win a war against the civilian population of Iraq, and the Iraqis gave us about a year before they even fought back.

    By the way, speaking of the Air Force, doesn’t assuming the world is flat sorta screw up your navigation? Or do the pilots just look for angels to follow to victory?

  173. #173 Mooser, Bummertown
    June 19, 2008

    There are people at the Pentagon who are in charge of planning where your sons and daughter and nephews and nieces and other beloved family members and friends will be sent to put their lives at risk.

    Speak for yourself, PZ. Maybe you would turn your daughter over to them, but they won’t get their little bloody hands on mine. No way.
    And “be sent to put their lives at risk” just tops it all.
    They are sent to put other people’s lives at risk.

  174. #174 Kseniya
    June 20, 2008

    By the way, speaking of the Air Force, doesn’t assuming the world is flat sorta screw up your navigation? Or do the pilots just look for angels to follow to victory?

    Yes. They follow the Archangel Coriolis.

  175. #175 Scott Hatfield
    June 20, 2008

    PZ, PZ, take a chill pill.

    There are more than 25,000 employees at the Pentagon every day, and a very large number of them are civilian. Ken Ham is also likely exaggerating the size of the audience, and overstating (as is his wont) the degree to which his listeners, even amongst the evangelical churches, regard his message as core doctrine. Frankly, given the number of conservative Christians in this country and the fact that such believers tend to be more heavily concentrated in the military, it would be astounding if he couldn’t merit a few hundred in attendance (less than one percent). It doesn’t mean that he has any real ‘pull’ with the gummint.

  176. #176 Dan
    June 20, 2008

    Well, after all, PZ, if you can be a “militant atheist” why can’t they be “militant theists”?

    If you want to think that the “theist” is more of a problem than the “militant” you just go right on thinking that. See where it’ll get ya’.

    Posted by: Mooser, Bummertown

    I’m thinking that whole thing probably sounded a lot better and more sensible in your head, didn’t it?

  177. #177 Bill Dauphin
    June 20, 2008

    Mooser:

    And “be sent to put their lives at risk” just tops it all.
    They are sent to put other people’s lives at risk.

    Nice echo of the speech from Patton. As for…

    they won’t get their little bloody hands on [my child]. No way.

    You can well bet that if the Bushies manage to start a war with Iran before they blow town (or Bomb-Bomb McCain gets the chance to, FSM forbid!), we’ll have a draft, and you won’t have any say in the matter, short of aiding and abetting a felony.

    Scott:

    It doesn’t mean that he has any real ‘pull’ with the gummint.

    Maybe this prayer breakfast doesn’t mean anything… but I’ve seen enough reports of organized efforts to evangelize senior military leadership to be very nervous about the overall outlook. Some of these folks are looking forward to Armegeddon!

  178. #178 ulu
    June 20, 2008

    oh come on, they just wanted to have ham for breakfast

  179. #179 DoctorE
    June 20, 2008

    Uhhh praying with guys like that in the Pentagon, time to kiss our ass goodbye.

  180. #180 CosmicTeapot
    June 20, 2008

    kcrady @158

    The creation of sapient robots/computers may give Ken Ham problems, but have you not heard of silicon heaven?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Heaven

    Perhaps we would have to give the robots religion, to stop them rebelling!

  181. #181 hetherjw
    June 20, 2008

    “The real world is the biblical world–a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life. … Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept; it does not comport with the biblical teachings of the uniqueness of the Earth and the distinct spiritual position of human beings.”

    So when we find extraterrestrial life that will disprove Ken Ham’s understanding of his faith. The logical conclusion at that point would be that his faith was in error and has been overtaken by fact.

    Unfortunately, what we will probably get is “See! More proof of (the Christian) God’s greatness! Let’s convert our newfound space friends.” The understand of religion changes to fit the evidence. Everything is proof of God because god was made up.

  182. #182 Steven Sullivan
    June 20, 2008
  183. #183 phantomreader42
    June 20, 2008

    I just finished reading a little book called “Wine of the Dreamers” by John D. MacDonald. Sci-fi written in the fifties doesn’t always age well, but one line is pretty apropriate here. Talking about the egotism of man, that his planet is the only inhabited planet, that his species is the pinnacle of life.

    It’s the old self-centered delusion that WE are the most important things to ever exist, that all the universe revolves around us. The reason religious nuts in the past were so eager to murder people for questioning geocentrism, because they couldn’t bear the thought that Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, because that would mean THEY weren’t the center of the universe.

    The old piglet-rapist is just showing off his own delusions of grandeur.

    Speaking of old sci-fi, putting this guy near nuclear weapons sounds like something out of Heinlein’s Crazy Years. Does the name “Nehemiah Scudder” ring a bell?

  184. #184 ZAR
    June 20, 2008

    SO, Basically, you oppose not just Ken Ham, but Prayer Breakfasts, because you think everyoen shudl be an Ahtiest liek you, and it scares you that people not only aren’t all Atheists, and in fact hold positions at the Pentagon while not being Athiest, btu openly express their beelifs and ask for guidance form God.

    Yeah, that makes them far, far mroe dangerous than the nice, rational Athiests of the Soviet Union.

    I’m sorry, but as much as I disagree with Ken Ham, I dont disagree wth peopels rights to speak to him or invite him.

    And Prayer Breakfasts do nto indicae that the US is in great peril because its run by nutcases. Just becaue you disagree with the people holdign it dens’t mean you have actual evidence of real danger.

    Incedentlaly, Ham and you arew rong. The Bible never says Humanity or this earht is the focal poin of creaiton ofr Gods intent. Theres nothign in Scripture that says hsis and acutlaly verses that say the oposite.

    At any rate, Im a whacko to you as I pray dialy and beleiv ein God and wuldn’t midn attending a Prayer breakfast, btu do you relaly think I shoudl be insulted? Well, maybe you do.

    But do you htink that your own attitude is relaly better, sicne you simply degrade others?

    And how rational are you to indicate htis as somethign to have nightmares over.

    Coem off it.

  185. #185 negentropyeater
    June 20, 2008

    ZAR,

    1. there’s no soviet union anymore.

    2. if some people in position of power at the pentagon ask guidance from god, and god tells them to drop a nuclear bomb on canada, what should they do ? what about if it’s iran instead of canada ?

    3. nobody is disputing people’s right to invite ken ham, of course they have the right to invite him. the question is why would they do this when he has only lies and evident falsehoods to offer (you say yourself that you disagree with him)

    4. the reason why it’s worth having nightmares over, is that unfortunately, it is likely that a few of the people in the attendance are going to be seduced by Ham’s dishonest propaganda and where this could cause them to make a critically wrong decision about our military strategy or tactical aspects

    If you pray daily, it’s your own decision, or maybe your parents have influenced this, but you aren’t probably like like Ken Ham who would love to see this country turn into a theocracy. Or would you like it too ?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theocracy

  186. #186 Ragutis
    June 21, 2008

    ZAR, first of all: Jiminy H. Christ! The only excuse for that kind of typing/spelling is that either your fingers are the size of bratwursts or that you’re well drunk. Seriously dude… I’m no grammar of spelling Nazi, but that’s just plain awful. How do you expect your argument to be taken seriously when it’s presented like that? It’s your words and thoughts. Have some pride in ‘em.

    As for the former Soviet Union, while officially atheist, it became a cult of personality. In other words, pretty much a religion only Stalin used Lenin and himself in place of deities. Atheist or not, that’s not what I’d call rational. Nor was falling for the unsubstantiated claims of the government while standing in bread lines. Again, quite religious-like behavior.

  187. #187 Ragutis
    June 21, 2008

    I’m no grammar of spelling Nazi

    *headdesk*

  188. #188 Notkieran
    June 21, 2008

    Ragutis @ 187:

    i. Supreme irony. Allow me to shake you by the hand.
    ii. I want to nominate ZAR for a Poe prize. If there isn’t one, we can make one.

  189. #189 Aaron Boruff
    June 21, 2008

    In response to the possibility of him recanting if life is found on other planets, “The devil put those germs there to test your faith” or “That was a hoax”. Take your pick.

  190. #190 Teknon
    June 21, 2008

    That you are all slating Ken Ham means he has the upper hand and you are self-confessed losers – big style. You are quite unable to resist or overturn the sterling logic and scientific debate, based on biblical principles Mr Ham and his associates at AiG turn out 24/7. I perceive that you cannot sustain the case for molecules-to-man evolution, nor can you present a logical case against the biblical position AiG adopt so you resort to name-calling. Shame on you, especially on PZ, who is not worthy to be teaching students if what he says about Ken Ham is typical of his logic and backbone.

  191. #191 Carlie
    June 21, 2008

    Oh, come now, only two wackaloonies coming over to defend Ham? Jeez, Ken’s losing his touch. Back in the old days, a trackback to PZ from a fundie site would bring on the crazy in droves.

  192. #192 Chris Krolczyk
    June 21, 2008

    Teknon:

    I perceive that you cannot sustain the case for molecules-to-man evolution,

    I perceive that you cannot understand the whole of biology, paleontology, geology and the rest since you apparently believe that your idol Ham – aka, The King of the Stupid – is actually capable of “sterling logic and scientific debate” in the first place instead of the endless parade of OEC apologetics that his career consists of.

    nor can you present a logical case against the biblical position AiG adopt so you resort to name-calling.

    Want something other than name-calling? Fine. The AiG position is intellectually bankrupt, morally reprehensible and scientifically vapid.

    There. Not a bad word or an insulting name in the bunch and it has the merit of being both brief and accurate. Satisfied?

  193. #193 Chris Krolczyk
    June 21, 2008

    ZAR, just as it was posted:

    At any rate, Im a whacko to you as I pray dialy and beleiv ein God and wuldn’t midn attending a Prayer breakfast, btu do you relaly think I shoudl be insulted? Well, maybe you do.

    I’m far more insulted by the fact that you didn’t even bother to check your own spelling or grammar before you posted that screed.

    (Free clue: this might not’ve been the best way to prove that Ham’s crowd aren’t semiliterate wackos.)

  194. #194 Dagger
    June 21, 2008

    Teknon said; “you are quite unable to resist or overturn the sterling logic and scientific debate, based on biblical principles Mr Ham and his associates at AiG turn out 24/7.”

    Unable to resist? Overturn the Logic? Sciencific debate? Based on biblical principles?

    Well, we can’t resist because we’re tired of you trying to brainwash young impressionable minds with fairy tales masquarading as scientific fact. That makes you at best liars and at worst cultists.

    What logic? Do you even know what that word means? No of course you don’t. Everytime your “logic” is questioned your default answer is “god did it”. That’s not logic by any definition. That’s avoidance. That’s righteous indignation.

    When it comes to religion, there is no scientific debate, because there is no science in religion. Period.

    What principles? The principle of preaching to people that the earth is 6000 years old? Well, that’s a proven lie (using actual real science). That someone named Noah took two of every single living thing on the planet and stuffed them into a boat for 40 days and nights while the entire planet flooded? And oh yes, the dinosaurs were there too!!Well that’s a scientifically confirmed lie (again using actual real science). So again I say, what principles? Because if you subscribe to any of that utter and total nonsense, you have none.

  195. #195 Dan
    June 21, 2008

    It’s unfortunate that the majority of those who comment on this blog are so closed-minded. I realize that you have no absolute morality with which to censor your venomous thoughts, but really, some of these comments are extreme, even for godless heathens. And while I realize that most of you will write off anything I say because I’m “a semiliterate wacko,” I thought I’d give you the benefit of the doubt, something I’m sure you’d not do for me.

    I’ll keep this brief, knowing that there will be very little mind-changing among this group. So let me just ask, do any of you really have any idea what creationists believe? While I’m sure you will readily answer that you do, comments above like Dagger’s@194, “fairy tales masquarading as scientific fact,” (by the way, in the spirit of your response, Dagger, masquerading is spelled wrong) lead me to believe otherwise. You see, I have studied evolution and evolutionary ideas for 18 years now. I can guarantee that I know more about evolution than the vast majority of this audience. How many of you can say the same thing about Christianity in general or creationism specifically? You pretend that you’ve seriously debated the issues, when in fact, you immediately write off any concept that does not fit within your dogma. How many of you question any single ‘fact’ of evolution? I question everything that I hear from every creationist. I don’t take anything at face value – I thoroughly researched it and come to my own conclusions. Do any of you do anything close to that? Or do you absorb all evolutionary doctrine without criticism and simply accept it? It’s obvious that not many of you have thought through the ramifications of your world-view to see the logical conclusion. And it’s clear this same mindset carries over into other realms as is evidenced by most of the comments about the military.

    It’s unfortunate that you hold all people with contrary views in such distain. For while you may hate creationists, most creationists love their fellow man, regardless of beliefs. So I’m comforted that evangelical Christians may be the ones in charge of nuclear arsenals. I know I was much less worried about being killed by bad decisions when I had a Christian unit commander than an atheist one. Because while anyone can make a bad decision, I’d rather face the consequences of a bad decision made based on a Christian outlook rather than a humanist one. I look forward to seeing the dismissive and vitriolic comments about my post – enjoy yourselves.

  196. #196 Dan
    June 21, 2008

    Dagger, I apologize for criticizing your spelling publicly. I see that you were not the ‘grammar of spelling Nazi’ from an earlier post. Sorry.

  197. #197 Dagger
    June 22, 2008

    First Dan, I couldn’t care a less about someone critiquing my spelling. I don’t use spell check like most people do. You still understood what I meant though, right?

    As for morality, don’t make presumtions about people you don’t know. You have absolutely no basis for that statement. It’s inflammatory and erroneous. Frankly it makes you look intolerant, the very thing your accusing us godless heathens of. Speaking of which, religion does not hold the patent on morality Dan. Far from it. It may be the most immoral thing on the planet. While your mulling that over think on this. Would you still be a “nice” person if you weren’t religious or better yet, religion didn’t exist? Would most religious people still be nice? I’m betting they’d be exactly the same people they are now. Morality is a trait that doesn’t require faith or superstition. It’s something passed down from generation to generation, through parents and peers. Does it really get you upset that a good portion of us no longer require fairy tales to make us act properly towards our fellow humans? Is the fact that religion is dying at an ever increasing pace causing you pause for concern? Will you cease functioning as a good human when religion enters its final death throes? I sincerely hope not. I know I haven’t. I’m exactly the same type of person I was before I broke free of the bonds of religion. Perhaps even nicer.

    So you say you’ve studied evolution for 18 years now. What exactly have you studied? Do you have a PhD? A Masters? A certificate? I suspect if you’d done a bit more studying and less pontificating you’d have ascertained that evolution doesn’t involve dogma of any sort. Stop ascribing religious wording to something that isn’t religious and maybe you’ll have an easier time understanding it, hopefully without taking another 18 years.

    Okay, the whole idea of questioning anything scientific, let alone evolution, is something called scientific method. For someone who’s studied for 18 years I would have thought that you would have come across that term at least once. Perhaps it’s the understanding of it your having trouble with. It’s no shame to ask for help you know.

    There is no contrary view. That’s a self delusion intitiated by creationists to try to make themselves feel better and to justify those same delusions. It’s a viscious circle. Creation cannot ever be verified. Ever. Period. Therefore it is not in anyway shape or form, science, so stop trying to match it up because it never will. Evolution on the other hand is science and it can, has and will continue to be verified using *gasp* scientific method. Ain’t that a bugger :)

    Next on your list. I find your rational on military commanders seriously flawed. You know the difference between the two? The christian commander will feel bad about your death but delude himself and others into believing your in a better place. The atheist commander will feel bad about your death because he knows the finality of it. Now who’s going to be more concerned with putting you in harms way? The guy who knows you ain’t going home to your family or the guy who thinks you get to magically keep going? No contest Dan, no contest at all.

    As for evangelicals having their hands on a nuclear arsenal, that would explain why 99.99% of the worlds population has been living in fear for the last 8 years. Because some dickcheese asswipes (sorry to offend your sensibilities, but there just aren’t any other words for them) believe in something called the rapture. That means that 00.01% get to live on and the rest of us can just die and rot. Where’s your morality now Dan? Lost a bit of it’s luster yet? Naw, I doubt it. You rather continue on your path not having to think about the consequences of statements like those wouldn’t you? Luckily most of us aren’t as deluded and our numbers are growing. Luckily for you, most of us are nice…

  198. #198 spaghettimonster
    June 22, 2008

    It’s unfortunate that the majority of those who comment on this blog are so closed-minded. I realize that you have no absolute morality with which to censor your venomous thoughts, but really, some of these comments are extreme, even for godless heathens.

    Yeah, yeah… blah, blah… get to the point, will you?

    And while I realize that most of you will write off anything I say because I’m “a semiliterate wacko,” I thought I’d give you the benefit of the doubt, something I’m sure you’d not do for me.

    Yawn… actually, I am writing off anything you say because it is just *plain* boring.

    I’ll keep this brief, knowing that there will be very little mind-changing among this group.

    Oh, do not flatter yourself. That comment of yours was not “mind-changing” material. Do you think you are the only one that has tried that in this blog?

    You see, I have studied evolution and evolutionary ideas for 18 years now. I can guarantee that I know more about evolution than the vast majority of this audience. How many of you can say the same thing about Christianity in general or creationism specifically?

    Meaningless drivel, talk is cheap and you can’t guarantee squat.

    You pretend that you’ve seriously debated the issues, when in fact, you immediately write off any concept that does not fit within your dogma.

    That’s because there is nothing to debate about. Show me some serious and respectful creationist study with sound (not stupid and recycled) evidence against evolution and then we can talk. On the contrary, most (if not all) creationism poster boys just repeat the same beaten-up fallacious arguments ad nauseam. And you don’t have to be a biologist to detect fallacious arguments. Really, if they are the best creationism has to offer, I better not waste my time any more…

    How many of you question any single ‘fact’ of evolution? I question everything that I hear from every creationist. I don’t take anything at face value – I thoroughly researched it and come to my own conclusions.

    Hmm… but evolution and creationism are, by definition, mutually exclusive (after all, creationism accepts creation according to Genesis). So what is the use of questioning a “single fact” of evolution if you imply that we should question all of it by being more open-minded about creationism?

    It’s obvious that not many of you have thought through the ramifications of your world-view to see the logical conclusion.

    Which is…?

    It’s unfortunate that you hold all people with contrary views in such distain. For while you may hate creationists, most creationists love their fellow man, regardless of beliefs.

    Well, thanks. That’s a very thoughtful and noble coming from someone that thinks atheists have little moral values and “venomous thoughts”. But still, creationists think that non-creationists are just misguided and would love to educate them. Since most non-creationists think they are allowed to believe (or not believe) in whatever they want, I think you can see why there could be a little problem…

    So I’m comforted that evangelical Christians may be the ones in charge of nuclear arsenals. I know I was much less worried about being killed by bad decisions when I had a Christian unit commander than an atheist one.

    You are entitled to your opinion of course. Even if it means that you prefer if someone with the power to decide the fate of millions of lives base their judgement on the belief of a supernatural entity (and every little thing that comes with that) instead of pure and simple rational decisions. Some people beg to differ.

  199. #199 Nick Gotts
    June 22, 2008

    You see, I have studied evolution and evolutionary ideas for 18 years now. – Dan

    Liar.

  200. #200 Rey Fox
    June 22, 2008

    “I can guarantee that I know more about evolution than the vast majority of this audience. How many of you can say the same thing about Christianity in general or creationism specifically?”

    Try us.

    “Or do you absorb all evolutionary doctrine without criticism and simply accept it? It’s obvious that not many of you have thought through the ramifications of your world-view to see the logical conclusion.”

    The mere facts that you call evolution “doctrine” and a “worldview” with a “logical conclusion” shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sounds like projection to me.

    “For while you may hate creationists, most creationists love their fellow man, regardless of beliefs.”

    So they say.

    “Because while anyone can make a bad decision, I’d rather face the consequences of a bad decision made based on a Christian outlook rather than a humanist one.”

    Why? Because the Christian is one of your tribe?

  201. #201 Jan Chapman
    June 22, 2008

    After Ken Ham’s meeting…I mean, prayer breakfast…with the Pentagon, the generals decided that military weaponry should now be Bible based. Weapons contractors are now hard at work on new slingshot technologies. That should fix those terrorists!

  202. #202 Dark Matter
    June 22, 2008

    “For while you may hate creationists, most creationists love their fellow man, regardless of beliefs.”

    And yet they still think those fellow men are going to The Bad Place when they die because they didn’t believe in the right Ceiling Cat and feel free to kill or criticize all of those fellow men because it’s all so OBVIOUS that they’re wrong…Gotta love that Christian morality.

  203. #203 Carlie
    June 22, 2008

    Dan, you ignorant slut. You flounce in here and declare that people here don’t know anything about creationists without having a clue as to who the people here are and what their histories are. There are many who have been lifelong atheists, but there are an awful lot, possibly a majority, who come from religious backgrounds. There are quite a few who come from creationist backgrounds, and a lot who have studied religion a hell of a lot more than you probably have. Definitely more than you’ve studied evolution, regardless of your claims.

  204. #204 Benjamin Geiger
    June 22, 2008

    Carlie@203:

    No, no, no!

    It’s “Dan, you pompous ass!”

    Don’t make me sic Brenda on you for getting your pop culture references wrong!

  205. #205 phantomreader42
    June 22, 2008

    Why can’t Dan be both an ignorant slut AND a pompous ass? He’s a fan of Ken Ham the piglet rapist, which pretty much makes him an intellectual prostitute from the start. And he’s spewing that old “atheists have no morals” lie, which marks him as a sociopath on top of everything else.

  206. #206 Thucydides Junior
    June 23, 2008

    I don’t have a problem with military chaplains or religious events under their direction.

    I *DO* however have a problem with their vetting process on speakers. I think extremist religious types of ANY religion in a military setting is absolutely terrible.

    To be a creationist and Young earther is simply a cover to be anti-science. How the military squares an anti-science bent with a technological, science based army is just beyond me.

    The only logical explanation I can think of is that this isanother way to keep troops in a single mindset that does not question higher authorities and ignores any contradiction, however obvious.

  207. #207 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    Why should atheists/evolutionists have morals?

  208. #208 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    Why should anyone?

  209. #209 Nick Gotts
    June 23, 2008

    Christine@207. Because people without morals tend to hurt or kill other people, damage the environment, etc. Simple, really.

  210. #210 MartinM
    June 23, 2008

    Why should atheists/evolutionists have morals?

    That question is quite literally meaningless. One cannot construct a moral argument for having morals.

  211. #211 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    So I’m comforted that evangelical Christians may be the ones in charge of nuclear arsenals.

    You’re comforted that people who look forward to Armageddon may be in in charge of nuclear arsenals?

    Interesting.

  212. #212 Nick Gotts
    June 23, 2008

    Re #210 I interpreted the question as meaning “What undesirable consequences would follow if atheists/evolutionists did not have morals”, and answered accordingly. Maybe Christine would like to tell us what she meant – but probably she’s just a drive-by troll.

  213. #213 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    Ah, so morals are a good thing. Glad we can all agree on that. It’s who decides what’s moral and what isn’t that leads to all the problems, isn’t it? And of course, it’s always other people (never us!) that do all the bad things, and can’t think,right?
    The fact that life is a gift, that you didn’t create yourself, and that your brain cells were given to you so you could think – shouldn’t you be thankful to the One who gave you these things? But, you prefer to denigrate and curse the very ONE who gave you yourself and your planet. But that’s okay behavior, right, since you just tell yourself you evolved from muck and that there’s no one to be thankful to.
    You can call me mean names and tell me I’m obviously brain-washed and ignorant if you want to, but then, is that how you would want to be treated?
    Maybe the better route would be to just respect that other people believe things that you don’t, based on very good evidence and reasoning, and that you are free to reject their evidence and reasoning and believe your own. That doesn’t mean you have to make them out to be the devil himself…oh right, you don’t believe in such things anyway. Maybe it’s just your own heart from which hatred springs.

  214. #214 MartinM
    June 23, 2008

    based on very good evidence and reasoning

    Such as?

  215. #215 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    Wow, Christine, it’s a huge leap to go from having brain cells to having those brain cells being created by an omnipotent supernatural being! Justify that leaps of logic please! Us atheists are thankful, thankful to our friends and families, and all those who came before us. There was no creator, no ONE person to be thankful for. You’re short-changing your ancestors and family and friends. You should thank them once in a while instead of thanking your imaginary god so much.

    respect that other people believe things that you don’t, based on very good evidence and reasoning

    What evidence? What reasoning? We haven’t seen any of that, only lies and a priori assumptions that Genesis is true. Btw, it’s not.

  216. #216 Nick Gotts
    June 23, 2008

    It’s who decides what’s moral and what isn’t that leads to all the problems, isn’t it?

    We each have to decide that for ourselves, Christine, although others can advise us. It’s called being an adult. You should try it sometime.

    And of course, it’s always other people (never us!) that do all the bad things, and can’t think,right?

    Are you claiming to be morally perfect, Christine? That’s extremely arrogant of you, and a claim I never recall hearing an atheist make.

    The fact that life is a gift, that you didn’t create yourself, and that your brain cells were given to you so you could think – shouldn’t you be thankful to the One who gave you these things?

    It is true I didn’t create myself – my parents did that. I am indeed grateful to them, for a great deal more than that, but they didn’t give me my brain cells – those just grew.

    But, you prefer to denigrate and curse the very ONE who gave you yourself and your planet.

    Don’t be silly, Christine. How can you denigrate and curse something that doesn’t exist?

    other people believe things that you don’t, based on very good evidence and reasoning

    I’m sure they do. For example, any competent historian of China believes many things I don’t, on very good evidence and reasoning, since my knowledge of Chinese history is quite limited. However, if as I suspect you are talking of belief in a deity, no such evidence or reasoning has ever been presented to me.

    Maybe it’s just your own heart from which hatred springs.

    Feeling hatred, like all emotions, depends on the state of the brain rather than the heart – although of course if your heart stops for very long, you’ll stop feeling any emotions at all.

  217. #217 Bill Dauphin
    June 23, 2008

    It’s who decides what’s moral and what isn’t that leads to all the problems, isn’t it?

    I say the universe decides what’s moral and what isn’t. That’s not an expression of pantheistic woo, though: What I mean is that I think that once you dig below the superficial cultural differences, all morality has its roots in the so-called Golden Rule, which is just another way of acknowledging the moral equivalence of all people (note that this is not to suggest any moral equivalence of all behavior). That principle, I believe, arises naturally from our very existence: Ultimately, behaving in ways that recognize the moral equivalence of others, and that encourage social structures that recognize the moral equivalence of all, is pro-survival, and thus morality has a natural, almost Darwinian inevitability. Like the world of evolved creatures, human morality is a somewhat chaotic product of randomness, but it exists as it does because it must exist for us to be here. Not because some ghost writer in the sky made it so. (Note that my degrees are in English, not Biology, so what you have here is a poet’s notion of what’s “Darwinian”… which is to say, I’m aware the biologists among us may think I’m talking out of my ass. If so, discount the analogy, and I’ll still stand behind the underlying argument.)

  218. #218 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    Dennis, as we both know, there are reams and reams of pages written that present both evidence and reasoning for your position, and for the position that people are created beings made by God. You can’t write it all off by calling it lies – if it were that simple to prove these things are lies, there wouldn’t be quite so many people believing them. It would be more truthful to say that there are just certain things that we don’t know for sure, that we really can’t know for sure, and what we do see around us could be evidence for your view or for my view or for some third person’s view. I just think there is more evidence supporting creation, and you obviously disagree. I enjoy discussing things with people I don’t agree with, which is why I ventured to throw out a question on this blog.
    I am very thankful for my family and friends, yes. I tell them that often. God is no more imaginary than you are You cannot prove that he is, so why even make a statement like that? It’s better to say you think God is imaginary. I can respect that opinion very much, but not a blanket statement you cannot prove.

  219. #219 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    I just think there is more evidence supporting creation

    Again… Such as?

    Just so you know, the “Morality exists: Therefore, God” argument won’t get you from the cab to the curb.

  220. #220 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    Nick #216 – I would never claim to be perfect, as I know emphatically that I am not. None of us are, nor do any of us know if some things are absolutely true or not true. I am faced with my own imperfections every day, and I’m reminded that there are things/concepts that human reason cannot fully grasp or understand, so it doesn’t make any sense to me to insult people who disagree with me about such things. Just because the reasoning/evidence for God’s existence has never been presented to you, doesn’t mean it’s not there, or that you could read about it yourself if you had the interest. Obviously, you don’t. That’s your choice. Others have made other choices. That’s all.

  221. #221 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    The burden of proof is on the believer. The default position is no god, just as it is for no unicorns, no leprechauns, and no Easter bunnies. I cannot disprove a nebulous god, but I think it is clear that a god is very implausible. The Christian god however, the one Ham believes in, has been falsified in multiple scientific disciplines. We know the age of the earth is greater than 6,000 years; we know there was no global flood; we know dinosaurs and humans did not live together.

    Ken Ham has no evidence for his assertions. I am stating that Ham is chock full of lies.

    Dennis, as we both know, there are reams and reams of pages written … for the position that people are created beings made by God

    I have read some of it, and remain unconvinced. If you would like to state your case here, I would be glad to listen. I’m not very interested in being pointed to piles of unnamed works. If there was solid evidence for it, why are there so many different, mutually exclusive religions? Why are almost all of us here well-read on religion and still not convinced? If god was real, shouldn’t there be clear unambiguous evidence of him?

    It would be more truthful to say that there are just certain things that we don’t know for sure, that we really can’t know for sure

    Saying we don’t know something, therefore god, is a leap, it is an argument from ignorance. I know you didn’t exactly make that argument, but I wanted to nip it in the bud.

  222. #222 Nick Gotts
    June 23, 2008

    Christine,
    You’re a liar. You don’t enjoy discussing things with people you disagree with, or you would by now have started doing it – you enjoy preaching at them. If you had any good evidence of or reasoning for God’s existence, you would have presented it.

  223. #223 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    Evidence for God’s existence (you asked for it, though you’ll have arguments against all of it) – the Bible, fulfilled prophecies, Jesus Christ and his witnesses (many brutally killed), your own conscience, your own wonder at this world and universe, the complexity of all living things, the human eye, the mission work and red cross and salvation army and hospitals founded by churches and Christians….our very striving to deny God’s existence – where did the knowledge of God come from? Flood legends amongst many cultures of the world? There’s a lot there, if you want to start digging.

  224. #224 spurge
    June 23, 2008

    Yawn……

  225. #225 CJO
    June 23, 2008

    Just because the reasoning/evidence for God’s existence has never been presented to you, doesn’t mean it’s not there, or that you could read about it yourself if you had the interest.

    We hear this a lot, Christine. What we don’t hear is a clear, concise elucidation of this reasoning/evidence. Which, forgive us, leads us to believe that such an elucidation is not possible, because the evidence does not exist and the reasoning is only convincing to those who are assuming the conclusion; in short, that you and others who claim to be in possession of this reasoning/evidence are lying.

    So let’s see it, or let’s end the tiresome charade.

  226. #226 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    Flood legends amongst many cultures of the world?

    So you’re putting forth evidence for the Babylonian global flood mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh?

  227. #227 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    you asked for it, though you’ll have arguments against all of it

    Did you ever stop to think maybe there’s arguments against it because…it’s false? Do you want to hear arguments against your assertions or do you want to come here, preach, and blame us for not believing your weak logic? This is why we think you’re not here for discussion.

    If you had any good arguments, we would not have good, solid arguments against them (which we do), we would be believers. Why is it you think we don’t believe?

  228. #228 negentropyeater
    June 23, 2008

    Christine,

    There’s a lot there, if you want to start digging.

    It’s precisely because most of us have really done the digging that they know that there is nothing there !

    You should start the digging, and open up your mind, you will be very surprised with what you will find.

    Of course, this will suppose that you reject all a priori judgements and only submit yourself to evidence and reason, which I don’t know if you are willing and/or capable to do.

  229. #229 Janine ID
    June 23, 2008

    I would never claim to be perfect, as I know emphatically that I am not. None of us are, nor do any of us know if some things are absolutely true or not true.

    Christine

    Just one of these silly questions that annoys me to no end; just what is “perfect”? What would the “perfect” person be? Too many people cover up huge gaps in their thinking by bandying about the terms “perfect” and “imperfect” they cannot be applied on anything.

  230. #230 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    Give it up, guys. She’s a lost cause.

    No offense, Christine. You seem very nice, and and well-spoken. But really – do you think you’ve brought anything in here that’s even remotely new or compelling? Who do think you’re addressing? Five-year-olds who were raised by rhododenderons?

  231. #231 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    I would like to hear solid evidence against the existence, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and against the existence of his apostles, all but one of whom were killed because people did not want to hear their message.
    Also, I would guess that not one of you would look at a car or a computer and say that it came into existence without design or planning. Read Evidence that Demands a Verdict, written by an investigative journalist.
    You don’t believe simply because you don’t want to believe. You use the same a priori reasoning, because you have to. No one can be completely objective, it is impossible. Christ said you are either for Him or against Him. If you want to call this discussion preaching, that’s your choice, but if I were preaching, I would be using some actual texts from scripture, and trying to convince you to believe them. I just want you to admit that you don’t know the answers to some questions, because you cannot know them. That’s all.

  232. #232 Janine ID
    June 23, 2008

    Come now, Kseniya. All fundamentalists approach strangers assuming the person they are about to meet never heard of the word “Jesus” before. The magical powers inherent in the name is enough to make you stop in your tracks.

  233. #233 Janine ID
    June 23, 2008

    I would like to hear solid evidence against the existence, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and against the existence of his apostles, all but one of whom were killed because people did not want to hear their message.

    The simple fact that there is no written record of this event until three centuries after the “fact”.

    And, yes Christine, you are preaching. And you have nothing that has not been refuted repeatedly.

    Read Evidence that Demands a Verdict, written by an investigative journalist.

    You are not even trying here. Just who is this “journalist”?

  234. #234 Steve_C
    June 23, 2008

    I’m against the myth of Christ. Sorry no walking dead for me. Too creepy.

  235. #235 CJO
    June 23, 2008

    Also, I would guess that not one of you would look at a car or a computer and say that it came into existence without design or planning.

    Nor would any of us fail to note that cars and computers do not reproduce.

    I would like to hear solid evidence against the existence, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

    And I would like to hear solid evidence against the existence, death and resurrection of Osiris.

  236. #236 Rey Fox
    June 23, 2008

    “the Bible”

    There are lots of other books out there.

    “fulfilled prophecies”

    Some of them within the text of that bible (self-fulfilling), some not fulfilled at all. Not an impressive track record, really.

    “Jesus Christ and his witnesses (many brutally killed)”

    Eyewitness testimony isn’t particularly reliable, especially eyewitness testimony from thousands of years ago written down decades after the fact.

    “your own conscience”

    Empathy hardwired into our brains as a condition of being a social species that thus far hasn’t killed itself off yet.

    “your own wonder at this world and universe”

    An emergent property of intelligence.

    “the complexity of all living things”

    Why would a god need to create complex things? And the more we find out about biology and chemistry, the more the things that a god seems to be necessarily behind shrinks and shrinks.

    “the human eye”

    See above, argument from Behe.

    “the mission work and red cross and salvation army and hospitals founded by churches and Christians”

    And Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and unbelievers and on and on.

    Apparently we have different definitions of “evidence”. I’m having a hard time seeing how any of the things you listed necessarily points to any sort of god, let alone the bearded fellow who created people in a garden and killed thousands of people in the bible and is obsessed with what consenting adults do in their bedrooms. Unless, of course, one was raised in an environment where talk of that god is ubiquitous and is never questioned.

    “You don’t believe simply because you don’t want to believe.”

    You believe simply because you want to believe. We just don’t see why that should be considered noble.

  237. #237 windy
    June 23, 2008

    Jesus Christ and his witnesses (many brutally killed)

    Many followers of Falun Gong have been brutally killed in China. Is that evidence for the truth of Falun Gong?

  238. #238 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    Yawn.

    I just want you to admit that you don’t know the answers to some questions, because you cannot know them.

    Exactly right. Now look in the mirror and say that. Think about just what it is you’re claiming to know.

    Next.

    A universe is not a car. A world is not a computer. An eye is not a camera.

    Why is the human eye different from, and inferior to, other eyes found in nature?

    You don’t believe simply because you don’t want to believe.

    Therefore, you do believe simply because you do want to believe. Tell me, then: How does indulging in wishful thinking translate to a morally superior philosophical stance, let alone a more evidentiarily supportable world-view?

    Give me one one piece of “solid evidence” from a non-biblical source supporting the divinity or resurrection of Jesus. One. Just one. Not an opinion. Not an analysis. One piece of solid evidence. Hey, I’m playing by your rules, here.

    Please note: The existence of Jesus and his apostles, even if proven or merely assumed, is not proof of his divinity.

  239. #239 Janine ID
    June 23, 2008

    The stories of the murder of followers of Falun Gong has the advantage of having primary sources. No need to believe that they were murdered because we know they were murdered.

    Oddly enough, that does not give validity to Falun Gong.

  240. #240 Nick Gotts
    June 23, 2008

    I just want you to admit that you don’t know the answers to some questions, because you cannot know them. – Christine

    Easily satisfied!

    I don’t know whether there is an infinite number of twin primes (prime numbers exactly 2 greater or less than another prime number).

    I don’t know whether there is life beyond Earth (apart from any bacteria still surviving that piggybacked on probes launched in the last few decades).

    I don’t know when I’ll die.

    I don’t know what you had for breakfast yesterday.

    Enough? Now if you have nothing more interesting to say, go and tell your “God” from me that if he existed, he would be a psychopathic, megalomaniac, pathologically jealous, deceitful, hypocritical, genocidal sadist. My evidence? The Bible.

  241. #241 phantomreader42
    June 23, 2008

    Christine, all you have is bullshit. And it’s not even original bullshit. It’s the same old worthless tripe from the bottom of the barrel flung around by the laziest and stupidest of creationist trolls like chimps with their own feces. Some of your fellow cultists are at least imaginative in how they present their delusion. You’re just pathetic.

    Christine the death-cultist troll @ #231:

    I would like to hear solid evidence against the existence, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and against the existence of his apostles, all but one of whom were killed because people did not want to hear their message.

    Sure, as soon as you give us solid evidence against the existence of Vishnu, Odin, Prometheus, Apollo, Bastet, Marduk, Coyote the Trickster, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, The Invisible Pink Unicorn, Io the Ninefold Dragon, Olidamarra the Laughing Rogue, Lolth the Demon Spider Queen, The Great Green Arkleseiure, Mumm-Ra the Everliving, Kira and Cthulu. Then you can get started on the countless local deities, and do something about Elvis-worship while you’re at it.

    The reason you demand that others prove you wrong is that you know you don’t have the slightest shred of evidence that you’re right, and you’re too lazy to even try to look for any. Which means that when you claimed to have such evidence, you were lying.

    Christine the liar, in the same post:

    I just want you to admit that you don’t know the answers to some questions, because you cannot know them. That’s all.

    Oh, so that’s all you want? Which means that when you said you wanted something else in the very same post, you were lying again? Isn’t your imaginary god supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

    We don’t know the answers to everything. Neither do you. The thing is, we never claimed to. We would be interested in actually learning new things and looking for answers. But you have no interest in searching for knowledge. You’ve deluded yourself that you’re representing an all-knowing invisible sky fairy, and think this somehow makes you qualified to whine about how closed-minded and arrogant everyone else is. Of course, there’s nothing at all arrogant about thinking the creator of the fucking universe has some special reward waiting for you, and is going to torture anyone who dares disagree with you for all eternity. There’s nothing closed-minded about declaring that your religion and only your religion is the source of all truth, everyone else on Earth is absolutely wrong, and no arguments to the contrary are even allowed to enter your ears. You’ve deliberately blinded yourself, in order to avoid seeing how wrong you are. You project your own faults onto others, in order to deny your own imperfection.

  242. #242 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    Christ said you are either for Him or against Him.

    To be more precise, the authors of the bible said someone named Christ said this. We have no extra-biblical sources to back up that a man named Christ said anything at all. Either way, that is definitely a black and white way to look at it, and needs to be updated to meet more modern moral standards. The morals of men 2,000 years ago just don’t cut it anymore.

    No one can be completely objective, it is impossible.

    I hate presuppositional arguments. They go into my head and all I hear is, “we have an already established belief in fairytales, and it is without warrant, so everything else must be without warrant.” It’s all sour grapes. If they can’t be right, no one can. I live in a world where people can be wrong. Thinking the Earth was created 6,000 years ago is wrong.

  243. #243 Rogier
    June 23, 2008

    Christine is obviously trying to pull a joke. The name Christine should ring a bell. It’s either that, or rationality has failed in human beings. Which is scary. You might ask a simple question like how much is 1 + 1, and you’ll don’t know what answer (or worse) to expect. It could be “2”, “3”, “I’ll slay you” or “I’ll pray for you”. I’d prefer the first two. I’m glad I read most mythical books, so I know a little what to expect. Otherwise I would not dare to talk to people.
    This stone age we live in pisses me off. What’s the need of going to school, when it does not teach reasoning.

  244. #244 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    Either way, that is definitely a black and white way to look at it, and needs to be updated to meet more modern moral standards. The morals of men 2,000 years ago just don’t cut it anymore.

    I dunno, Dennis, it worked for George W. Bush.

    Sorta.

    ;-)

  245. #245 God
    June 23, 2008

    I would like to hear solid evidence against the existence, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

    Sure. Everything you’ve read or heard about this so-called “Jesus Christ” came from other imperfect beings like you. Beings who could make mistakes. Beings who did make mistakes.

    I, the Holy, Almighty and Perfect God, say that the whole thing is nonsense. If I wanted any of you to join Me in Heaven, I would just bring you in. As it is, of course, I don’t care for the company of any of you. Unless I change My Mind, of course.

    What more evidence would you need?

  246. #246 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    It didn’t work so well for Anakin Skywalker at the end of Episode III.

  247. #247 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    Only the Sith deal in absolutes, so Jesus = Sith.

  248. #248 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    Yeah Dennis, true, but that happened a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away). Probably more than 2,000 years ago. I guess. I dunno. But I must be right. I feel it in my, you know, my… my gut.

  249. #249 Martha
    June 23, 2008

    WOW…I found Wackaloonville and the village idiots.

    Attacking the messenger while ignoring the message…!?

  250. #250 Kseniya
    June 23, 2008

    Stick around, Martha. The message gets its due.

  251. #251 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    Nah, accepting the message as one small voice in a large body of philosophy. Much of Jesus’ ideas have been expanded on and improved. The fact that they came from him or the author’s of him don’t matter. I was only making a joke. The Sith are part of a work of fiction, just as the bible is a work of fiction. A big mistake would be to worship the messenger, instead of analyzing the message, thinking about it critically, comparing it to other messages, and deciding for yourself. Accepting one message as absolute truth is wackaloon. Most absolutes are wackaloon.

  252. #252 Danio
    June 23, 2008

    Martha @249: “Attacking” ? debating. Nor is it synonymous with requiring that baseless assertions be backed by evidence before they are taken seriously.

    And what is this ‘message’ you speak of, exactly? “My delusions make me happy so you should believe them too?”

  253. #253 Christine
    June 23, 2008

    It’s interesting to read all the responses written to my statements and questions. Many of you made assumptions about me that you cannot possibly know from the few things that I wrote here…such as that I can’t think, that I refuse to look at facts and evidence, that I am not well read, that I haven’t investigated other religions…on and on and on. You assume those things about me, I suppose, since you don’t seem to want to accept the fact that a person can look at many pieces of evidence and come to a different conclusion than you. Did Jesus Christ exist? Apparently, eye-witnesses don’t matter, Josephus’ historical account doesn’t matter (who was a Jew and wouldn’t have cared to promote Jesus’ message), the fact that a Roman Emperor converted to Christianity within a few centuries of the events, the fact that the way we tell time (in the west) hinges on the life of Christ, the eye-witness accounts were written down within decades, not centuries, of them happening. Like I said, there’s a lot there and it is very compelling. You don’t find it so, and that is your choice. Of course, it is easier for you to think that I am some dimwit than to accept otherwise. Anyway, the author of the book “Evidence that demands a Verdict” is Josh McDowell, and you can buy it on Amazon. But, since no argument in the world will convince you of something you don’t want to believe, Josh’s book probably won’t either. And yes, I freely admit that there are many things I cannot know for sure. I often question my faith and have done a lot of reading and searching, but have so far not come across anything that can solidly contradict it. If you want to denigrate me for that, go ahead.
    One more thing – what does reproduction have to do with complexity? (computers and cars can’t reproduce? What does that prove? That humans can’t design self-replicating things, but God can?) I think maybe some of you need to work on your own logic and reasoning as well…
    I wish you all the best in your searches for meaning and truth!

  254. #254 Rey Fox
    June 23, 2008

    “the fact that a Roman Emperor converted to Christianity within a few centuries of the events, the fact that the way we tell time (in the west) hinges on the life of Christ, the eye-witness accounts were written down within decades, not centuries, of them happening”

    Weak sauce. Total weak sauce.

    “One more thing – what does reproduction have to do with complexity? (computers and cars can’t reproduce? What does that prove?”

    That the analogy you used is faulty. But go ahead and shift the goalposts anyway.

  255. #255 CJO
    June 23, 2008

    Josephus…was a Jew and wouldn’t have cared to promote Jesus’ message
    C’mon, Christine. Jesus was a Jew. All of his apostles were Jews. The earliest Jesus-cults were Jewish splinter groups.
    Now, I don’t believe Josephus was associated with any of them, so it’s not that I think the paltry one sentence about Jesus in the Jewish Antiquities was inspired by his desire to “promote Jesus’ message,” but, really, it’s important to remember how firmly in the context of Judaism were the teachings of Jesus.
    And, about the line in the Antiquities, most scholars are agreed that the mention is probably genuine. But later Christian scribes embellished the text, so, unfortunately, we’ll never know what Josephus wrote. And one extra-scriptural mention in a work composed at a time when the earliest collections of sayings and possibly even Mark were circulating is not exactly making a splash on history.

    One more thing – what does reproduction have to do with complexity? (computers and cars can’t reproduce? What does that prove? That humans can’t design self-replicating things, but God can?) I think maybe some of you need to work on your own logic and reasoning as well…

    It means, you tiresome moron, that differential reproduction among competing organisms in a limiting environment is an explanation that can account for the diversity of living things but not for human technologies, so your facile analogy to cars and computers is a non-sequitur. Anyway, “complexity” per se is beside the point. Simplicity is how we recognize effective, rational design.

  256. #256 Steve_C
    June 23, 2008

    Wow. What does complexity have to do with a creator?

    NOTHING.

    Hey Christine, I’ll give you that a Jesus MAY have existed 2000 or so years ago… but that’s it.

    The son of a god? Nope. Of a virgin? Nope. Walked on water? Nope. Died and came back to life? Nope. Unless you want to say zombies are real too.

    Are angels, demons and ghosts real too because of “eyewitness” accounts?

    Nope.

  257. #257 Danio
    June 23, 2008

    Christine, leaving aside for the time being the relative strength of the anecdotal ‘evidence’ you have provided, Kseniya’s last point in comment #238, above, is still hanging out there. Even if we wholly accept your ‘evidence’ that a historical person named Jesus lived and said all the things attributed to him in the Bible, there is no evidence of his divinity, then or now. And although you imply that you have studied other religions just as objectively as you have studied Christianity, I note that you have failed to address the repeated requests for explaining the myriad supernatural events inherent to any of these other faiths. What is it that makes the Christian myths so much more compelling? I’m going to go ahead and make another one of those shameless assumptions about you: If you had been born and raised in Saudi Arabia, you’d be a devout follower of Islam right now.

    One more thing – what does reproduction have to do with complexity? (computers and cars can’t reproduce? What does that prove? That humans can’t design self-replicating things, but God can?) I think maybe some of you need to work on your own logic and reasoning as well…

    Apparently CJO (the person who originally addressed your ‘design’ gambit) was giving you more credit than you deserve in your understanding evolution, and how it is possible to achieve greater complexity (of organisms, of organs and structures like the eye) via transmission and modification of genes, through REPRODUCTION, over many, many, many generations. It would appear that you need to increase your basic scientific knowledge before further attempts to school anyone on logic and reasoning around here.

    There was that creepy Stephen King story, though, about a car that could regenerate itself…what was it called? The name’s right on the tip of my tongue…

  258. #258 windy
    June 23, 2008

    a Roman Emperor converted to Christianity within a few centuries of the events

    The first Muslim caliphate was established right after Muhammad’s death.

    PS. You didn’t answer whether persecution of Falun Gong followers is evidence for its truth.

  259. #259 God
    June 23, 2008

    I often question my faith and have done a lot of reading and searching, but have so far not come across anything that can solidly contradict it.

    Hello! I, Almighty Perfect God, contradicted it. What more do want, Jesus himself? Hold on, I’ll fetch him. Well, one of him, anyway.

  260. #260 Jesus, called Christ
    June 23, 2008

    Yes, unfortunately, it’s true. The whole thing was a scam. I never came back to life after dying. What can I say? It seemed like a good way to subvert the Roman occupation. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that people would come up with the Nicaene Creed a few centuries after I was trying to get my little rebellion going.

    God was (and still is) amused by the whole business, but he’s a megalomaniacal sadistic psychopathic narcissist, and he found the massive religious conflicts (or as he likes to say, screaming and hitting each other with sticks) terribly funny.

  261. #261 Dennis N
    June 23, 2008

    I’ll address this arrogant little snippet:

    the fact that the way we tell time (in the west) hinges on the life of Christ

    Who is we? Have you heard of the Julian Calendar? Muslims don’t use BC and AD. Why does the way we tell time matter? It’s not universal, as you yourself pointed out. Does this make Jesus true over here, and Muhammad true over there? How about the fact the some of our days of the week are based on the Roman gods (in the west)? Is that a point for Saturn that 2 days ago was Saturns-day?

    Yes, much of human history has been influenced by religion. That doesn’t make any of it true.

  262. #262 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    Dagger@197, thanks for the response. Though I didn’t intend to single you out, I would certainly like to debate some of what you said. And to answer all the naysayers up front, I do not have a degree. Yes, I am a poor schmuck who had to get his education from *shudder* the public library (military base library, technically). Please, feel free to hold that against me.

    “As for morality, don’t make presumtions about people you don’t know. You have absolutely no basis for that statement. It’s inflammatory and erroneous. Frankly it makes you look intolerant, the very thing your accusing us godless heathens of.”

    Actually, I have a perfectly logical basis for saying you have no absolute morality. I didn’t say that you have no morals. However, your morals are all subjective, since you have no ultimate authority upon which to base them. I think Bill@217 said it very well. Perhaps you may claim that the state (in our case, we the people) sets the laws and therefore has the ultimate moral dictate. However, laws change constantly. Abortion is legal, with variances, across most of the US. If the law were to change tomorrow, outlawing abortion and then change back, legalizing it again, it would not change the morality of it one way or the other. Or perhaps your morals come from your own conscience, as Socrates said. Unfortunately, everyone has a different idea of what is ethical and some pay little heed to any conscience. You specifically say your morality comes from parents and peers, passed down from one generation to the next. And while I’m sure you’re a very nice person, whose conscience works just fine, how can you possibly say that anything is morally wrong? You see things your way, I see things mine and in your worldview, neither can be absolute. So really, unless you can logically refute that, you should probably stop complaining about ‘religious nuts’ – their morality is just as valid as Bill Clinton’s, or George Bush’s, or Stalin’s, or Mother Teresa’s, or Hitler’s, etc, etc – whose morality was passed down . . .

    Though, since we’re on religion, I concur that religion never did anyone any good. I dare say that my own God, Jesus Christ, didn’t like religious zealots. Someone posted under a different article about the Good Samaritan (yes, I read some other articles by CZ!). There couldn’t be a better illustration of Jesus calling out the religious hierarchy of the day, though there are plenty of others. So, please, don’t think I’ll argue with you about religion – we’re in total agreement. Of course, I’m sure we have differing views of what religion is or isn’t, though I won’t bore you with the details of that (unless you ask).

    No, what I’d really like to call into question is your understanding of the scientific method. I fully understand that the scientific method stresses experimentation and induction from data rather than philosophical deduction. What you seem not to realize is that when legitimate fields of study (geology; biology; etc) begin to delve into evolution (or vast periods of time), they veer off course of the scientific method. For to experiment on an organism today, you must have the organism in hand, today. You cannot experiment on it 1 million years ago. Nor even 10k years ago. So, while experiment, observe, record, repeat, may give you a great deal of information about the organism, speculation about the past of that organism is guesswork, no matter how educated. And I, least of all, would accuse someone such as PZ or any other doctorate professor of being uneducated or unintelligent. In fact, as in my other post, I also give you the benefit of the doubt, assuming that you are quite intelligent. Why else would you even be debating such things? Also, I never said that creation could be scientifically verified. You are absolutely correct in saying that it is outside the realm of experimental science. Unfortunately, evolution resides in that same realm, though I’m sure I will be deluged with cries of “Is not! Is not!” and plenty of high-brow name calling to boot. You say, “Evolution on the other hand is science and it can, has and will continue to be verified using *gasp* scientific method.” Can you give me one? Verification, I mean. (If PZ or some other PhD decides to jump in at this point, I may request additional time to research their example.)

    As far as the military leader bit – the only thing you show in your rationale, is a proof of my statement on how little you know about Christianity. And while I recognize your use of hyperbole in saying 99.99% of the world’s population has been living in fear for the past 8 years, I’m not quite sure how everyone else’s ignorance of Christian beliefs proves that you understand them better.

    I especially like the implied threat at the end that most of you are nice. Meaning of course that not all of you are and I should be worried. Fortunately, I worry about very little and, threat or no, I would still give my life for yours in hopes of seeing you saved (yes, in the spiritual connotation of the word). See, I just set up the whole audience for jokes about my premature demise. Enjoy.

  263. #263 spurge
    June 24, 2008

    “I’m sure I will be deluged with cries of “Is not! Is not!””

    Of course we will. That is exactly what you are saying.

    You don’t have the first clue how science actually works.

  264. #264 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    Ah, thank you for that clarification. And let me just say, is too, is too.

  265. #265 MartinM
    June 24, 2008

    For to experiment on an organism today, you must have the organism in hand, today. You cannot experiment on it 1 million years ago. Nor even 10k years ago.

    But fortunately, events in the past leave observable traces in the present. So that’s not a problem at all.

    So, while experiment, observe, record, repeat, may give you a great deal of information about the organism, speculation about the past of that organism is guesswork, no matter how educated.

    If by ‘guesswork’ you mean ‘dependent on at least one assumption,’ sure.

  266. #266 spurge
    June 24, 2008

    where exactly did you say anything other than a long winded “is not”

    It is quite clear that you don’t understand how science works.

    By your logic we can’t study geology because we don’t have the glaciers in hand that used to cover much of North America. Geologists must only be guessing that they did.

  267. #267 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    Martin, I am impressed. I go to many websites and do these fun little debates. You are the first (or at least the earliest in the process) to give even that tiny concession.

    And you are absolutely correct, past events leave some sort of impression, observable by-products that something did indeed happen. The big question is, how do you test for something about which you have the conclusion but no starting point?

  268. #268 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    See, Spurge? Follow Martin’s example. I never said anything close to the conclusions you are reaching. Although your last sentence, no matter how sardonically you meant it, is closer to the truth than anything else you’ve said.

  269. #269 spurge
    June 24, 2008

    OK Dan, Lets see if you will answer questions as well as pose them.

    How old is the earth and how do we know?

  270. #270 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    Well done, Spurge. That’s a well played gambit, baiting me to blurt out that the earth is 6,000 years old and that the Bible proves it. Of course, I’ve already said that creation cannot be scientifically proven. I will say that I do believe the earth to be rather young, in the vicinity of thousands, not millions of years old. I cannot prove it, though I can tell you why radiometric dating cannot prove it to be million/billions of years old, either. As was noted, there are assumptions when trying to figure out past events. Radiometric dating takes one of the biggest assumptions of all in its process. Namely, that uranium, or potassium, or pick your radioisotope dating method assumes a constant rate of decay for the given isotope over however many millions of years the process is supposed to have occurred. For example, the half-life of uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years. This is what has been measured in a controlled, laboratory environment. Of course, there are numerous conditions by which the half-life could be affected, from heat to pressure, spark or other environmental conditions. So to suppose that the rate of decay remained the same over those vast eons of time is an assumption beyond what common sense can bear. Not to mention the fact that initial levels of each of the various elements is always unknown. But looking past these two glaring anomalies, yes I suppose radiometric dating could be accurate.

  271. #271 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    And since we’re on the topic of age dating, let’s cover carbon dating. I’ll let the uninitiated look up the basics. Suffice it to say, I find it compelling that every carbon based sample that has been tested, all those I’ve read about anyway, has at least some carbon-14 residing in it. Coal samples, 50 million of years old. Diamonds, hundreds of millions of years old. All, amazingly, have residual carbon-14 in them. But there’s a simple explanation for that – contamination from the environment. In every sample ever tested. I supposed that could be possible. Not likely, but possible. Yes, I understand, it’s a much more complicated process than I’m making it out to be. So, by all means, take your assumptions and run with them.

  272. #272 Nick Gotts
    June 24, 2008

    Dan@262
    I have a perfectly logical basis for saying you have no absolute morality. I didn’t say that you have no morals. However, your morals are all subjective, since you have no ultimate authority upon which to base them.

    There are several things to say here.

    (1) Although you did not say explicitly that atheists have no morals, here is what you did say:
    I realize that you have no absolute morality with which to censor your venomous thoughts, but really, some of these comments are extreme, even for godless heathens.
    Why should it require an absolute morality, rather than simply morals, to “censor venomous thoughts”, or make any other moral decision?
    (2) Of course you are right in saying atheists have no “absolute morality”, if by that you mean “morality based on the say-so of an external authority” – which, from the rest of the text I’ve quoted, you apparently do. That, Dan, is the superiority of the philosophical basis of atheist morality (note that I am not saying atheists are better people than believers): we have to take responsibility for our own moral commitments, we can’t say “I was only following orders”. Most atheists, I think, would be “consequentialists” rather than “deontologists” with regard to morality: that is, would regard the core of morality as consideration of the effects your actions, and the moral commitments you make or fail to make, will have or are likely to have – particularly but not exclusively the effects they will have on other people. (Deontologists, on the other hand, consider the core of morality to be following a particular set of rules for how to behave. In your case, as for many religious believers, there appears to be one “master rule”: “obey God”. I’ll return to this below.) Now, your error is in thinking that because there is no external authority, moral commitments are arbitrary. They most certainly are not – because what commitments you make can have enormous effects on the world. Consequentialists, as the name suggests, can perfectly well argue about the consequences of adopting particular standards, and about the internal consistency of such standards, and persuade each other to change their minds. All this may be easier to understand if you consider the analogy of artistic judgement. Here, there is certainly no external authority which tells us George Eliot was a better novelist than Jeffrey Archer is (or let’s bend over backwards to be fair, has yet shown himself to be), so in your sense, its “all subjective” – yet a very good case can be made out that she was – in terms of range and beauty of language, depth of characterisation, subtlety with which human motivation is explored and moral issues are considered, etc. In brief, non-absolute does not mean arbitrary.
    (3) In any case, the supposed advantage of having an external authority turns out not to exist in practice, because Christians disagree among themselves about what God has commanded. This point is so obvious, it is really difficult to see how you could fail to notice it. Some Christians take “Thou shalt not kill” to require pacifism, others do not. Some believe homosexual behaviour is a sin, others do not; ditto, drinking alcohol. Some believe the Sabbath should be held on Sunday, others on Saturday. Slavery, the subordination of women, racial segregation, burning of “heretics” – all have been (and some still are) considered commanded by God by some Christians, and condemned by others. Possibly you will say something along the lines of “My particular sect are right, all the others are wrong” – or even, that your sect are the only true Christians. But how is the outsider to judge? It is also worth noting that the God of the Bible is a truly disgusting fellow: he commits genocide and orders others to commit it, deliberately “hardens Pharoah’s heart” so he can demonstrate his powers, torments Job just to settle a bet with Satan, is insanely jealous and proud of it… and this is the being who you say should be the fount of human morality!
    (4) In practice, high levels of religious belief in a society do not appear to lead to more moral behaviour – if anything, the reverse. Consider that the USA is the most “Christian” of the rich countries – and also has the highest murder rate, and by far the greatest proportion of its population in prison.

    I fully understand that the scientific method stresses experimentation and induction from data rather than philosophical deduction. What you seem not to realize is that when legitimate fields of study (geology; biology; etc) begin to delve into evolution (or vast periods of time), they veer off course of the scientific method.
    Here I think we see where Dan’s coming from. The “wedge strategy” using “Intelligent Design” having failed, we have heard rumours that creationists’ next fall-back will be precisely this claim: that science can say nothing about the past. This would, of course, make all science impossible (perhaps that’s actually the idea). Suppose a chemist sets up an experiment, mixing two chemicals, then records and publishes the result. In doing so, she must detail how the experiment was set up – in other words, she must make statements about the past. She must assume that the universe did not suddenly leap into existence during or after the experiment, complete with her memories, her notes, etc. She must assume no malicious demon, or extraterrestrial superintelligence, intervened to change these memories and notes. Moreover, she must rely on the prior work of thousands of other scientists, going back decades, to even be able to describe what experiment she has carried out and why – how can she know that the reagents she used have the same properties they had yesterday, or fifty years ago, without an assumption that the world has the right kinds of regularity?

    Your characterization of science is in any case wrong. While induction may suggest hypotheses, the core of the scientific method is to derive predictions from your hypotheses, then test them. Note that the predictions are about what you will find if you undertake a particular scientific procedure. This may be an experiment, but in many areas of science it is not. For example, astronomers cannot experimentally manipulate planets or stars, but they can specify what they expect to observe if their hypotheses are correct. This is how Newton tested his hypothesised inverse square law, how Neptune was discovered, how general relativity was tested during a transit of Mercury (IIRC). Sometimes the predictions cannot specify when something will be observed: theories about supernovae, for example, can only be tested when a supernova happens to occur. Geology and evolutionary biology work in much the same way. For example, it was deduced, from theories of evolution and plate tectonics, that marsupials must once have lived in Antarctica – so, given what we know about the processes of fossilisation, it was predicted that a sufficiently diligent search would find fossils of them there – and indeed, such fossils were subsequently found. When asked how empirical findings could disprove evolution, J.B.S. Haldane replied simply “Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian”. This is only one of an enormous, indefinitely large number of ways in which it could be disproved. Suppose variations in the human genome had turned out to imply that we all descended from a common ancestor 6,000 years ago? Suppose the human genome had turned out to be quite different from that of apes? Suppose comparisons of animal eyes had suggested, contrary to the fossil record, that land vertebrates were more closely related to cephalopods than to fish? I really could go on indefinitely here.

    I especially like the implied threat at the end that most of you are nice.
    No Dan, that’s just your paranoia at work. Dagger may have been warning that commenters here may be rude to you, particularly if you are rude about atheists (as you were in your very first post), or come out with egregious rubbish; or may just have been making the general point that an increase in the number of atheists does not imply a decline in behaviour within a society.

  273. #273 MartinM
    June 24, 2008

    Martin, I am impressed. I go to many websites and do these fun little debates. You are the first (or at least the earliest in the process) to give even that tiny concession.

    I don’t consider it a concession at all, actually. Of course conclusions about the past are based upon assumptions. Conclusions about the present are based upon assumptions too. Indeed, everything we know is contingent upon some set of assumptions. So what?

    And you are absolutely correct, past events leave some sort of impression, observable by-products that something did indeed happen. The big question is, how do you test for something about which you have the conclusion but no starting point?

    Not sure what you mean by this, to be honest.

  274. #274 Kseniya
    June 24, 2008

    I will say that I do believe the earth to be rather young, in the vicinity of thousands, not millions of years old.

    Then you’re a deluded fool.

    It’s time to wake up. And grow up.

  275. #275 Dan
    June 24, 2008

    Nick, thank you for the thoughtful response. Much better than simply calling me a liar. I look forward to some good discussion when I return in a few days.

  276. #276 Thomas Moss
    June 24, 2008

    Does Ken Ham’s post have a comments section? Try as I might, I cannot find it – he probably doesn’t have one. I guess this means I have to post my dissatisfaction with his writings here, where people following the link from his site may find it.

    There are two things that Ken said which really annoy me – the fact that he called PZ intolerant (with the assumption that intolerance is always a bad thing), and the way that he assumed that a world without some supreme sky-daddy must also be without moral absolutes.

    First, the intolerance. I think that PZ is intolerant of creationism, and this is a GOOD thing; certain things should not be tolerated. Asking a scientist to tolerate creationism (which they regard as wild conjecture unsupported by sound evidence) would be like asking a judge (who believes that the suspect is guilty) to be tolerant of murder. In order to not be sent to jail, you have to make sure that the judge does not believe that you are guilty, either by proving your innocence or showing that the prosecution has not provided sufficient evidence. Likewise, creationism has to provide convincing evidence first (and, although they claim to have done this, they have not). Pleading for tolerance just won’t do it.

    I also dislike the way Ken assumed that God must be the only source of morality. This seems quite silly to me. Why is an omnipotent being the only sort of being who is capable of making sound moral decisions? We can understand the consequences of our actions, and we are capable of recognizing certain consequences (pain, suffering, and death) as inherently and absolutely bad. Why does Ken assume that we need a God to tell us that actions that lead to these consequences are bad?

    One last thing about radiometric dating (which seems, for some reason, to be the current topic of conversation in this post) – all of those factors Dan mentions have to be taken into account when using these dating techniques. These make such dating difficult, but not impossible. That is why we have error bars on our results – we don’t say that a leather pouch was made from an animal killed on tuesday, June the 30th, 3876 BC, for example. We say 3850 BC, give or take about 50 years (actually, most dating techniques are a little more precise than this. Also, we have many dating techniques, and we would be able to tell if we made a mistake when different techniques yielded wildly different results.

  277. #277 Kseniya
    June 24, 2008

    No offense meant, Dan. I’m doing you a favor by telling you the truth. Take it or leave it.

  278. #278 JeffreyD
    June 24, 2008

    Thanks to both Nick for #272 and Kseniya for #274 – different styles but both made the point.

    Nick, I truly enjoy your posts, reasoned, intelligent, well written. Thanks again.

    I will actually be surprised, not necessarily pleasantly, if Dan returns. Anyone who apparently has done some research and still believes in a young earth is, I suspect, beyond “redemption”.

    Ciao y’all

  279. #279 Dennis N
    June 24, 2008

    The big question is, how do you test for something about which you have the conclusion but no starting point?

    Like the conclusion (assumption) that the earth is a few thousand years old, because it has to fit your worldview? Then disregarding all science that disagrees with that worldview? I think you might be talking about either the age of the Earth or evolution. We did not know the age of the Earth before we started using science to find out. We discovered the age of the Earth through testing. As as you’re living proof of this, there was and is resistance to this. Science did not have a a priori assumption based on it’s worldview that the Earth much be 5 billion years old, and then sought to prove it. It’s not creationism.

    As for evolution, that’s something else we discovered. There was no worldview ahead of time that needed evolution. Scientists weren’t out searching for bits of fossils to prop up evolution to fit their previous conceptions of life. It’s just that we’re surrounded by fossils that show obvious transition. Only the deluded ignore this.

  280. #280 Nick Gotts
    June 24, 2008

    JeffreyD@278 – Thanks, much appreciated, and reciprocated!

  281. #281 Dennis N
    June 24, 2008

    I’m starting this bad habit of leaving spelling and grammar errors….

  282. #282 MartinM
    June 24, 2008

    Of course, there are numerous conditions by which the half-life could be affected, from heat to pressure, spark or other environmental conditions.

    No, there aren’t. Nuclear decay rates are constant to remarkable precision under a vast range of conditions. There are a few rare exceptions, under phenomenally extreme conditions, but for the most part these things really are constant.

    But let’s suppose that there exists some unknown physical mechanism by which decay rates may be altered. What would such a mechanism look like?

    There are multiple different radiometric dating methods, so it’ll have to affect multiple different elements. Those elements decay by different mechanisms; it’ll have to affect all of those. Those methods produce ages that, according to your beliefs, are too high by roughly a factor of one million, so the decay rates will have to be higher by roughly that much. Those methods produce consistent results, so it’ll have to alter the various decay rates by approximately the same factor. On the other hand, altering all decay rates by that factor would cause elements which are currently stable to undergo significant radioactive decay, leaving behind daughter products which are not found in nature. And, of course, increased decay rates mean increased energy output; we’ll either have to find a way to get rid of that excess energy, or assume that our hypothetical mechanism somehow accelerates decay while decreasing the energy per decay.

    In short, it’s not enough that the assumption of constant decay rates be violated; young-Earth creationism requires that assumption to be violated in an extremely precise way, such that the observable record remains exactly as we would expect it to be had no such violation occurred. You apparently find this more plausible than the alternative; namely, that no such violation occurred.

    Not to mention the fact that initial levels of each of the various elements is always unknown.

    The same argument applies here. To make the results of radiometric dating consistent with a young Earth, it’s not enough to propose contamination. You require multiple different contaminants to be present in precisely the right quantities to consistently produce the same wrong answer. In essence, you require the Universe to conspire to appear older than it actually is.

    And of course, there are dating methods which don’t make any assumption about initial levels – look up isochron dating for more info.

  283. #283 Kseniya
    June 24, 2008

    I wish these creationits would apply the same, ah, rigorous standards of examination to their own mythology that they apply to Norse, Greek, or Roman mythologies, or to any New World or Oceanic indigenous mythologies, or to any pre-Christian mythology from any corner of the globe. Or for that matter, to any science that contradicts their favored myth. But no. Their ancient mythology is The One True Word of God Our Creator and anyone who says otherwise – mountains of evidence be damned – is “arrogant” and/or “close-minded”. Gotta love it.

  284. #284 Kseniya
    June 24, 2008

    (And kudos to Martin for #282.)

  285. #285 PZ Myers
    June 24, 2008

    Yeah, those who argue for increased decay rates in the past always overlook the consequences: it means there had to have been much, much more radioactive material in the world at the beginning, and that it was all decaying at a furious rate. There’s the minor biological issue that this would have meant cancers and birth defects all over the place (and this is from people who say all mutations are deleterious!), and the slight problem in physics that means the planet would have exploded in a rather spectacular nuclear chain reaction.

  286. #286 Owlmirror
    June 24, 2008

    Dan, you pompous ass,

    Of course, there are numerous conditions by which the half-life could be affected, from heat to pressure, spark or other environmental conditions.

    Heat? Pressure? “Spark?” All of these might well affect atoms; radioactive decay occurs in the atomic nucleus.

    And these forces have supposedly affected every single sample, taken from multiple locations from every strata, all over the planet? And always uncorrected for? And to a sufficient degree to make every single sample and group of samples give an error of FOUR OR FIVE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE?

    And you, an ignorant layman, has just figured this all out, and no geochemist or physicist who actually works with the radiochemical samples and has studied how radiation actually works ever has?

    Dude, you’re either a genius who is going to revolutionize the field of radiometric dating, not to mention every other field having to do with radioactivity, or you’re an utterly ignorant moron who is pulling bullshit and nonsense out of his arse and offering it up as something reasonable.

  287. #287 Jesus, called Christ
    June 24, 2008

    I dare say that my own God, Jesus Christ, didn’t like religious zealots. Someone posted under a different article about the Good Samaritan [...]. There couldn’t be a better illustration of Jesus calling out the religious hierarchy of the day, though there are plenty of others

    You’re still confused, even after I explicitly said that I wasn’t God? Let me say it again: I WAS NOT GOD. I AM NOT GOD.

    And as for not liking religious zealots: I was a religious zealot! Don’t you remember the lines about the sword? The bits about “Render unto Caesar” and “turning the other cheek” were what would nowadays be called “dog whistle” phrases; the implicit followup was always “until we come into our own, then we’ll show those bastards who’s in charge”.

    The reason for the parable of the Samaritan wasn’t in opposition to zealotry in general, it was in favor of what might be called “Pan-Children-of-Israel” politics, sort of like Baathist Pan-Arab politics. The whole point was to oppose internecine, sectarian zealotry, and to encourage anti-Roman and anti-Hellenistic zealotry — under the very noses of the Hellenized Romans.

    Of course, the original meaning was quickly forgotten, and well-meaning evangelists went around saying “Oh, this means everyone should be nice to everyone else.” Oh, well.

    Not that it mattered much. The number of sectarian conflicts that arose over the interpretation of the stories I told, and the stories told about me, just kept on climbing.

    Much to God’s eternal amusement.

  288. #288 God
    June 24, 2008

    The number of sectarian conflicts that arose over the interpretation of the stories I told, and the stories told about me, just kept on climbing.

    I still get giggle fits from thinking about “homoousia-homoiousia-heteroousia”.

    Watching apes trying to do theology is almost as funny as watching them hit each other with sticks and rocks.

  289. #289 Sophia
    July 29, 2008

    I am confused about your logic and hope you can help me understand. I didn’t see any indication that it was a mandatory meeting for all pentagon staffers. I don’t know that any of the people who control the nuclear weapons were there. But, your reasoning seems to be this: a) There are people who work at the pentagon who have control over the “big guns.” b) There are people at the pentagon who pray and are therefore kooky. Conclusion: All people who work at the pentagon are kooky loose-cannons who are putting all of humanity at risk.

    I don’t follow your logic.

  290. #290 Jeremy
    December 7, 2008

    Typical.
    Politically correct, tolerant people, who LET others do what they want, unless it conflicts what they want.

    If you care for someone, you try to help them. A child may not want to be disciplined, but in the end it is beneficiary.

    Time will tell. And I find there is only one thing to base all my beliefs on. Everyone will see.
    Or already has, or is.

    If people of The Pentagon who participated in sewing or training dogs wanted to have a meeting, would you kick up such a fuss?
    Would you want someone who knits fleeces to be charge of bombs, rather than someone who is working for a cause greater than themselves- based on thousands of years of loyal faith, and hundreds who have died for the same belief?

    These traits are admired through any walk of life, except towards those who associate themselves with Christ.
    Hypocrisy.

    But idle times make for crude gossip, and if this is the worst, then Christians are in the clear.

    laters

  291. #291 Owlmirror
    December 7, 2008

    Would you want someone who knits fleeces to be charge of bombs, rather than someone who is working for a cause greater than themselves- based on thousands of years of loyal faith, and hundreds who have died for the same belief?

    Oddly enough, no-one who knits fleeces has killed for the sake of knitting, while those working for a cause “greater than themselves” who have claimed to have “loyal faith” use that as an excuse to butcher those who have a slightly different belief.

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