Pharyngula

We have a couple of unfortunate events happening.

One is the Creation Science Fair. I’ve been thinking for years that I ought to drop in on this event, and every year it rolls around and I find myself completely unable to do it. I can cope with adults who do stupid things — they are independent and presumably responsible, after all — but these are kids who are being lied to and led deeper into ignorance. It would be like going to a puppy-kicking party, and I’d just want to gather up all the victims and take them home with me.

The other event this weekend is a debate…a debate between a dimwitted dogmatic creationist and a minister in Owatonna. There can be no winner here: it’s a battle between a severely brain-damaged cretin and a blind man. The event is a byproduct of the Clergy Letter project/evolution weekend promotion, which seeks to get ministers around the country to preach science from the pulpit.

Did I ever mention how much I despise the clergy project?

I know they mean well, but I’ve read some of these sermons the participants preach, and they are uniformly awful. They say things like, “the rightful place of science is in church,” a sentiment I find horrifying. No, science does not need to be swaddled up in superstition and dogma. Ultimately, what this project looks like to me is an attempt to expand the domain of religion to encompass science, and that’s something I’m always going to oppose.

The ‘good’ guy in the Owatonna debate is John Weisenburger, a Lutheran pastor, who makes some semi-sensible comments.

My goal is to bring light to the fact that you don’t have to be a Christian and believe Genesis as the actual time span. That’s not why the Bible was written. It’s not a book that is set out to tell scientific facts — it sort of answers deeper questions related to why God created us.

So evolution is not a religious idea…so why is Weisenburger trying to appropriate it? Leave it alone. Keep it out of the churches. It’s kind of pointless, anyway, since in the Coming Atheist Paradise, people will be converting the churches into bowling alleys and art galleries, anyway.

But I also detest that claim that the Bible answers “deeper questions”. What are they? Zippy the Pinhead also answers “deeper questions,” but that doesn’t mean his answers are any good, after all. How do we evaluate the validity of answers the Bible comes up with? It seems to be an exceptionally unreliable document.

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A conversation with Weisenburger might be weakly interesting as an exercise in challenging someone who is at least trying to think. His opponent, Brock Lee, is a Big Fat Creationist Idiot. He’s not just ignorant, he’s been flogged hard with a stupid stick. Brock Lee is the kind of nitwit who makes arguments like this:

Around November 19th of 2008, Brock Lee calculated the number of mutations that would be needed to randomly create the largest protein in the world (which, according to Ian Juby’s The Complete Creation Part 12, is 26,926 amino acids long). The calculations took about half an hour to complete, and revealed that the required mutation number is 3.41777×10^35031. That’s correct: 3 followed by 35031 zeros, or more precisely, 341777 followed by 35026 zeros. This is a massive number, and shows the incredible intricacy of the creation and the impossibility of evolution. In other words, before creating even the most complex protein, there would have to be more than 1×10^35000 calculations per second. To beat the point to death, or as Ian Juby says, to flog the fossil equines, Brock gave evolutionists 1 quadrillion times the amount of time that they claim for the universe. It is still more than 1 x10^34998 calculations per second. Evolution is impossible. To read more, click on the title above to go to an article entirely dedicated to this topic.

He’s quite proud of the fact that he calculated the value of 2026926, so proud that he has a whole page dedicated to explaining how he did basic arithmetic in a spreadsheet. He doesn’t even stop to think that maybe his whole premise is false: it assumes the entire protein was instantaneously assembled completely by the chance arrangement of a series of amino acids. It’s so bad, it’s not even wrong.

Speaking of not even wrong, here’s the way his mind works in that newspaper article:

To me this is not about creation versus evolution. Most people want to peg it as religion versus science. It’s not. First off, if you’re going to say it’s a religion that’s preventing science, evolution is the religion that’s preventing science, because you’ve got atheistic evolutionists who are saying ‘Well, all the science points to a God, but I don’t want to believe in that so I’ll believe the impossible instead.’

This debate is going to be insane.

I’m half-tempted to go just for the laughs.

Comments

  1. #1 Ring Tailed Lemurian
    February 12, 2010
  2. #2 startlingmoniker
    February 12, 2010

    I think it would be awesome if you DID go to the science fair thingie, and just sit quietly with a sign offering a free trip to the library for an after-fair rap session. And maybe pizza. You might get one or two kids to come around to new ideas, which would be very cool. If nobody is bringing them to science, bring the science to them!

  3. #3 jebus-is-my-dog
    February 12, 2010

    Creation Science Fair??
    ummmm…. no.

    First off, if you’re going to say it’s a religion that’s preventing science, evolution is the religion that’s preventing science, because you’ve got atheistic evolutionists who are saying ‘Well, all the science points to a God, but I don’t want to believe in that so I’ll believe the impossible instead.’

    Alright. Which one of you said that all the science points to a God? Come on. Fess up……

    Hello? No one?

    But, he said that one of you said it and he wouldn’t lie would he?

  4. #4 daveau
    February 12, 2010

    The Creation Science Fair is at Har Mar Mall. You don’t want to go there anyway. And Owatonna is practically back to Iowa again.

    I’d think you might want to take it easy this weekend and spent a little time with TW. She probably hasn’t seen you much lately, and it is a Hallmark Holiday and all…

  5. #5 Matt Penfold
    February 12, 2010

    I love the fact that two people voted against the motion.

    I was less pleased to here on Radio 4 this morning that old lie that science and religion are compatible because people can be religious and do science. For one horrible moment I thought they might interview Mooney, but thankfully the BBC still has some standards.

  6. #6 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    it sort of answers deeper questions – PZ, quoting John Weisenburger, a Lutheran pastor

    Dontcha lurve that “sort of”! At some level, this guy knows it doesn’t, really.

  7. #7 KKBundy
    February 12, 2010

    As a atheist home schooler who has some ties to the mass of creationists who make up the vast majority of North Dakota home educators, I know these people. Just do a search for the North Dakota home school convention and look at the speakers. Buddy Davis from Answers in Genesis will be educating the children for two days singing quaint little songs about dinosaurs and Adam and Eve.
    This is the reason I started the Blessed Atheist Bible study at http://blessedatheist.com/ to poke holes at these people’s literal biblical interpretation through as much humor as I can find. But I’m pretty sure these people are immune to humor… or sense… or logic.
    I have solid friends and even my parents who are so fully wrapped up in this you would not believe. As PZ says their debates are amusing. But the laughter dies on my lips when I think these same people vote en masse to control the reins of science and education. They are a danger and must be fought. They are numerous and no longer on the fringe. They scare the Christ out of me. (pun intended)
    I think our best strategy is to mock them politely in public forum. I try it through looking at the bible as literal and poking holes in the silliness that is so inherent in a bronze age work of fiction. There are other ways. Find one. Everyone needs to join this battle.

  8. #8 daveau
    February 12, 2010

    #1-

    The religion vs. science compatibility issue can be resolved by a simple vote? Why didn’t we think of that before? Meeting adjourned forever.

  9. #9 mikelatiolais
    February 12, 2010

    I think that this point shows what the point is:
    5. Pray your exhibit will witness to non-Christian visitors.

  10. #10 IanM
    February 12, 2010

    How can we not be impressed by the greatness of God? He did it all in six days. SIX DAYS! Of course he could have done it all in an instant but in deference to man’s limited comprehension he deliberately took six days to do it. Then he rested. For a day. All that creation… six days… and then he only had to rest for one day. And here’s the brilliance of it all; no sun, no earth. How did he even know what a day was? Here was a deity who thought ahead. How can you beat that? YOU CAN’T! Pure and simple. Praise the Lord.

  11. #11 sp0n9e
    February 12, 2010

    Won’t you think of the knitters! Remember last time you mentioned knitting? They don’t just contact the muslims, they show up with their needles…then knit your door shut.

  12. #12 ckitching
    February 12, 2010

    This idea that evolution relies entirely on random mutation sure is difficult to put to rest, isn’t it? It is like saying that because a game like poker relies on random card distribution, that the game is entirely random and the best player is no better than the worst, and you might as well just play a simpler high/low card game instead.

  13. #13 daveau
    February 12, 2010

    The “Creation” “Science” “Fair” site is a scream. Here’s some choice excerpts from the guidelines:

    1. Model — The entry would show how various parts work together to accomplish the purpose for which they were designed. It includes projects which explain how a manufactured item such as a computer works and how a created item such as the leaf of a plant functions.

    Yes, by all means, explain to us how created items such as leaves work, using all the science you can muster.

    God’s Word should be related to the project, either by a verse directly applicable to the topic, or by an analogy. Although younger students may need assistance in finding and applying the verse(s), the student should be able to explain it in his/her own words. The Bible verse must be part of the display.

    …And God said, “Let p=mv”, and there was momentum.

    Plus, they have a whole section of project suggestions. Here’s a special one:

    How much voltage or current can a human take before he is killed?

    WTF?

  14. #14 Legion
    February 12, 2010

    PZ:

    It’s kind of pointless, anyway, since in the Coming Atheist Paradise, people will be converting the churches into bowling alleys and art galleries, anyway.

    Don’t forget strip clubs.

    Brock Lee:

    Evolution is impossible… Well, all the science points to a God, but I don’t want to believe in that so I’ll believe the impossible instead.

    WTF!? Evolution is impossible, but modeling people out of dirt, creating the earth in six days, and raising the dead isn’t?

  15. #15 Peter G.
    February 12, 2010

    To quote a truly great Canadian, Tommy Douglas, the man who made universal health care inevitable in this country, and an ordained minister ( a failing I am willing to forgive in light of his contributions): The Bible is like a bull fiddle, you can play almost any tune you want on it.”

  16. #16 Zifnab
    February 12, 2010

    The priest is ultimately not much better than the anti-science creationist goon. All you can do here is root for injuries (a la everyone sounding self-contradictory and leaving the audience more confused than before).

    On the one had, you’ve got a guy conducting patently bad math, and on the other you’ve got a guy whose argument basically boils down to “How can religion and science be compatible? You just have to take it on faith.” It’s two sides of the same coin. One abuses science to make a statement about religion. The other abuses religion in a Quixotic defense of science.

    What good comes from trusting the priest? At least if you drink the crazier guy’s kool-aid, you’ll lemming yourself off the cliff sooner. Then, maybe after you’ve been bitten one too many times as a snake-handler or come down with swine flu after attending another anti-vax rally, you’ll see the light. Or maybe your peers will look at you like a crazy person rather than just passively accepting you as a Lutheran, and feel inclined to slap you straight.

  17. #17 Zernk
    February 12, 2010

    Converting churches to bowling alleys is such a brilliant idea! All those pews can be recycled as real wood lanes. Talk about beating swords into plowshares.

    You midwesterners probably don’t know the joys of Duckpin bowling. This is the perfect plan for a resurgence of a sadly dying sport.

    I’m seein’ green, here.

  18. #18 Joffan
    February 12, 2010

    I get 3.417144 x 10^35031 . That’s the ten-second version of the calculation, and if Excel’s implicit claim of 15-sig-fig accuracy on the logarithms is correct then all those digits above should be reliable.

  19. #19 Eamon Knight
    February 12, 2010

    …Ian Juby’s The Complete Creation…

    Well, there’s a familiar name (in the “breeds contempt” sense). Juby seems to be one of the prime movers of our local bunch of fruitcakes.

    On behalf of everyone in the Ottawa valley, I apologize.

  20. #20 garth
    February 12, 2010

    In my Atheist Paradise churches would be turned into homeless shelters, and priestly adornments torn up to clothe the cold and needy.

  21. #21 hznfrst
    February 12, 2010

    I grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis and there was never anything like this back in the 50s and 60s. The nuts stayed mostly under their rocks back then, where they belonged.

    We have the cynical “Reagan Revolution” to thank for bringing them out, blinking in the sunlight like confused roaches while they preach their darkness. The Enlightenment is under attack and we have to fight for it again, sigh – but there is no other choice if we value civilization.

    Thank dog for people like PZ, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and everyone who stands up to these evil throwbacks!

  22. #22 raven
    February 12, 2010

    As a atheist home schooler who has some ties to the mass of creationists who make up the vast majority of North Dakota home educators,

    The home schoolers in my area seem to be a tiny minority. Out of around a million kids, it was 25,000 or so. Not all of them were fundies either.

    I’m sure some of them do an adequate job. Some don’t do anything. Two that I know of, both nonfundies, took their kids out of school for homeschooling. Which meant, doing nothing. One kid is now an adult who reads at a third grade level. The other adult barely reads at all.

  23. #23 hznfrst
    February 12, 2010

    Garth #20, in my atheist paradise there wouldn’t be any homeless or needy – or stinking rich either.

  24. #24 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawm0ImsgYFyoamSz8uEl7zxNaGvxMiFcL5w
    February 12, 2010

    I checked out “Reports” at the Brock Lee site and found something that looked like it came out of the Creationist Science Fair.

    My favorite line:”Could the process of converting
    petals to seeds be nothing more than an fluke of nature?”

  25. #25 https://me.yahoo.com/a/Tz4Fp.gMjpZBeSdmJ8peOaDGW7LRaEDS#e1735
    February 12, 2010

    Heh, I love how the link « lick here to open a txt file with the entire number written out » gives an answer that is not even accurate (there are lots of zeroes at the end).

    By the way, in less than 10 seconds, using appropriate (and free) software (by which I mean PARI/gp, not a stupid spreadsheet), you can find the *exact* number of configurations.

  26. #26 Glen Davidson
    February 12, 2010

    The calculations took about half an hour to complete, and revealed that the required mutation number is 3.41777×10^35031.

    I love it when they set out to prove how little it took to gain their “knowledge.” This is only a tad worse than Berlinski’s claim that you know enough about evolution if you studied it on a Sunday afternoon–and his remarks indicate that he knows little more than that.

    Of course it’s part of their ongoing and necessary smear of biologists–see, they must be lying or extremely prejudiced, since any dumbass can see through it.

    Any dumbass can, of course.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  27. #27 William Skyvington
    February 12, 2010

    Why is it, once again, that you Americans appear to be so bamboozled by the constant combat for basic common-sense enlightenment in your home towns? Here in France, the common folk got rid of crazy gods a couple of centuries ago. Sure, there are noxious remnants… but, in general, the Old World’s fine.

  28. #28 bgsmith42
    February 12, 2010

    Joffan, I was trying to figure out why it would take half an hour to do the calculation he did. Obviously he doesn’t understand logarithms.

  29. #29 Form&Function
    February 12, 2010

    Zernk @#17

    Converting churches to bowling alleys is such a brilliant idea! All those pews can be recycled as real wood lanes. Talk about beating swords into plowshares.

    Unfortunately the process works in both directions. Here in Seattle I’ve witnessed an older local movie theater made obsolete by the construction of a larger stadium-seating version nearby. Now the Oak Tree Theater is the Epic Life Church on Sunday mornings.

  30. #30 formosus
    February 12, 2010

    “… ,or more precisely, 341777 followed by 35026 zeros.”

    Without a doubt my favorite part. It was far better when it was in scientific notation, the notation now isn’t even engineering notation. It just amazes me that he thinks that the latter representation is any more readable or comprehensible than the former.

  31. #31 bgsmith42
    February 12, 2010

    #25, the calculation in question is 20^26926, which is 2^26926 * 10^26926, so it will have 26,926 zeros at the end.

  32. #32 bgsmith42
    February 12, 2010

    Ha!!

    The YECO site has this at the bottom of its “About Us” page:

    FAQ

    We?ve never received any Q?s, and without any Q?s we can?t have any FA ones, can we?

    I’m not certain, but possibly the reason they haven’t received any questions is that they don’t provide any contact information!

    Darn, I was hoping to enlighten Brock on the use of logarithms.

  33. #33 Nineveh
    February 12, 2010

    “the rightful place of science is in church”.

    Well, in the attempt to try to “own” the thing that fundamentally unravels their belief system, they seem to be forgetting that science always wins.

  34. #34 Anri
    February 12, 2010

    He’s not just ignorant, he’s been flogged hard with a stupid stick.

    Given the quote that you listed, PZ, I’m going to have to assume that during his childhood, his family were loggers in the Stupid Forest

  35. #35 IanM
    February 12, 2010

    Once we’ve put paid to your elitist sciency notions of evolution we are going to tackle the foolishness of heliocentricism and peel back the conspiracy behind the idea of a spherical earth. We are the meek, we are legion, and we will rock your world. Praise Jesus.

  36. #36 Etruscan
    February 12, 2010

    Some insanity from that website:

    “Hints from Judges Regarding Science Fair Projects

    “General hint: please include your Bible verse on the poster, not just in your report.”

    and

    “Oil is a renewable resource because it is being made today deep in the earth?s crust … One group says we are running out of energy so we have to cut back all that we do and will not allow us to drill for the new oil. This new group says we have plenty of oil, let us drill for it and use it.”

  37. #37 Lynna, OM
    February 12, 2010

    atheistic evolutionists who are saying ‘Well, all the science points to a God, but I don’t want to believe in that so I’ll believe the impossible instead.’

    If I, a certified atheistic evolutionist, went around saying that, I think my head would asplode from the massive build up of cognitive dissonance. I tried saying it out loud once, and if I didn’t have brain damage before, I do now. Ouch.

  38. #38 skylyre
    February 12, 2010

    I see PZ lounged in the back with a beverage, heckling and blogging away. Eh?

  39. #39 Iris
    February 12, 2010

    @36:

    “…we have plenty of oil, let us drill for it and use it.”

    Unnecessarily verbose. He could just say “Drill, baby, drill!”

  40. #40 raven
    February 12, 2010

    “Oil is a renewable resource because it is being made today deep in the earth?s crust … One group says we are running out of energy so we have to cut back all that we do and will not allow us to drill for the new oil. This new group says we have plenty of oil, let us drill for it and use it.”

    Well, it is true that oil is being made right now as I type. There should be some new filled oil reservoirs in another 50 million years or so.

    This is a long time to wait until one can fill up the gas tank again.

    This is cargo cult geology. So what else is new?

  41. #41 dinogami
    February 12, 2010

    His opponent, Brock Lee, is a Big Fat Creationist Idiot.

    I love it! We should just shorten all this to bifacrid (rhymes nicely with “hypocrite”).

  42. #42 Nebula99
    February 12, 2010

    From the link at #1:
    “What is faith but a series of hypotheses verifying the truth of what we believe?”
    *Facepalm* That word, hypotheses, it does not mean what you think it means…

    Creation Science Fairlure

    Fixed for truth.

  43. #43 Tulse
    February 12, 2010

    Why is it, once again, that you Americans appear to be so bamboozled by the constant combat for basic common-sense enlightenment in your home towns? Here in France, the common folk got rid of crazy gods a couple of centuries ago.

    At this point, we’d prefer to try it without all the beheadings.

  44. #44 Sastra
    February 12, 2010

    The event is a byproduct of the Clergy Letter project/evolution weekend promotion, which seeks to get ministers around the country to preach science from the pulpit.
    Did I ever mention how much I despise the clergy project?

    Hey! Several years ago, the local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship participated in the Clergy Darwin Day project by having ~me~ talk for 20 minutes about Intelligent Design, why it wasn’t science, and the significance of the Dover trial, which had recently ended. It was a small, informal group, but at least they weren’t terrified of having an atheist speak. Nor did they fear giving me a platform and captive audience, and setting me off (though they should) …

    The discussion period afterwards was interesting, though. UU’s are mostly “spiritual but not religious,” with a scattering of atheists and New Agers and in-betweens. I found out that they were opposed to creationism, but that most of them had a concept of evolution which wasn’t much better: a Teillard de Chardin style of progressive stages of enlightenment. On the whole, UU’s do not take very well to anyone telling anyone else they’re mistaken, even in scientific areas: they’re very much into the mushy harmony of celebrate-all-beliefs, everything accepted as long as it makes you a better person. Their real beef with creationism didn’t seem to be that it’s factually wrong, but that it’s conservatives trying to impose their religion on others, and having bad theology to boot.

    I have less problems with the Clergy Letter Project if I think it’s initiated by the clergy themselves, and not promoted by scientific organizations which seem to be putting the gold seal of approval onto the idea that science not only can, but should be infused with religious concepts. Telling congregations that God works through evolution is as useful as telling New Agers that evolution was part of the sacred knowledge of the psychics in Atlantis. Meaning, it’s politically useful.

  45. #45 Steven Mading
    February 12, 2010

    So we have a debate between two people who are both wrong in different ways. One accepts the true fact that his religion is incompatible with evolution, but then incorrectly sides with the religion. The other correctly sides with evolution, but then incorrectly claims doing so doesn’t present any sort of incompatibility with his religion. (Via the typical mistake of treating religious claims as if they were mere subjective matters where everyone can be right at the same time.)

    I don’t see either one as being any better than the other. They’re both incorrect and their incorrect beliefs are both harmful in different ways.

  46. #46 https://me.yahoo.com/a/DhjBEuJ8pt63x6eBKuPx0Jv9_QE-#7c327
    February 12, 2010

    I assume this means you won’t be showing up at my puppy-kicking party? You’ll be missed. We were expecting you to bring the crackers.

  47. #47 Givesgoodemail
    February 12, 2010

    Here are some ideas for projects to bring to such a joyous celebration of ignorance:
    –the energy needed to bash in a baby’s skull
    –what would happen to the energy needed for Joshua to stop the sun
    –how many babies would it take to nourish a grown person
    –tracing God’s lineage through the offspring of the Sons of God and the daughters of man

  48. #48 newt01
    February 12, 2010

    @19,

    Great, here I was thinking “well, at least we don’t have these creotards here at home”. Then I clicked that link. They want to build a creation “museum”. In Ottawa. Depressed now.

  49. #49 Harry Tuttle
    February 12, 2010

    But I also detest that claim that the Bible answers “deeper questions”. What are they?

    One word: Why?

    It may well be a stupid question, but religion gives you stupid answers for stupid people so that’s not surprising.

    A more fulfilling answer is available (ie that mysticism is just a set of metaphors used in exploring your own psyche), but it really does not apply to the vast, vast majority of religious people.

    I somehow doubt you’ll be invited to debate Rosicrucian alchemists, Sufi dervishes or Zen masters any time soon.

  50. #50 The Pint
    February 12, 2010

    Oh sweet Jebus. A Creationist Science Fair??

    *does best Mrs. Lovejoy impression* “Oh won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!?”

  51. #51 notthemama
    February 12, 2010

    Question: In the future if someone comes to me with these giant calculations and claims that the evolution of such a long protein is impossible in evolutionary terms how do I answer them?

    Thanks.

  52. #52 Givesgoodemail
    February 12, 2010

    Dr. Myers! You are #45 in the list of 50 most famous winners in my book!!

    Free beer of your choice is on me the next time you’re in the Twin Cities.

  53. #53 berlzebub
    February 12, 2010

    @ #51:

    Question: In the future if someone comes to me with these giant calculations and claims that the evolution of such a long protein is impossible in evolutionary terms how do I answer them?

    Thanks.

    My understanding is that the calculation doesn’t take into account that some of the proteins developed in parallel, instead of sequencially. If someone else has a better explanation, or a correction, please let me know, too.

  54. #54 Holytape
    February 12, 2010

    I know I’m a little old, and I don’t live in Minnesota (Although I was born there), but can I enter the science fair? Pretty please. I can prove that Jesus fought a dinosaur or that fire prevention is the work of the devil. Also I can write really really big numbers like 3.15*10^1234567890987654321. That number alone is sciency enough for a blue ribbon.

  55. #55 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Hey guys. Try to look for some practical ground. If people with authority in the world of “Godwith” folks want to talk up a more rational view – ie Creationist are nuts – Then let them. Don’t ridicule the channels that break down the Creationist view point.

    You are more likely to win the Creationism is a dumb way to think, than Religion is out dated mythological nonsense.

    People really love the idea of God. So, let them like God. The problem is they have taken their little fable story and are trying to undermine science. Well, that isn’t going to be stopped by invective from Atheists. They are well armed with their “faith” and can easily ignore us. Creationist can be stopped more rational thinkers on the inside. Support them.

    Who cares if they want to believe in God. What matters is that they are trying to spread their nonsense into schools and are hacking away at the foundations of science in subtle destructive ways. Stop that. Support the good guys on the inside.

    Yeah, science doesn’t belong in church and church doesn’t belong in science. But its already there, so lets separate them by letting Reverend Science talk about the nuttiness of Creationism. And applaud his efforts.

  56. #56 cypress
    February 12, 2010

    I first heard of people converting churches into homes a while becak. Here’s a beautiful example.
    http://www.travelet.com/2009/07/one-pair-bought-and-converted-church-into-home-in-kyloe-northumberland/

    I SO wish I had the $ to do that! The graveyard is a nice touch.

  57. #57 CTC
    February 12, 2010

    The best – frankly, the only worthwhile – support that can be provided to “the guys on the inside” is to remind them, “Hey, that stuff you believe in? It’s probably bullshit.” And strangely enough, faith has that in common with accommodation.

  58. #58 Miki Z
    February 12, 2010

    I was both impressed and made nervous by this portion, from the “Creation Science” Fair site:

    We heard about one lady who saw the Science Fair displays at the Mall. She began to read some of the verses on the displays and was convicted to start attending church and get right with God. There are probably other stories like this we have not heard but it shows the power of God’s Word through our program.

    The American Inquisition is starting. Oh, and I heard about one kid who ate pop rocks and drank coke and his stomach exploded. There are probably other stories like this we have not heard but it shows the power of candy and cola.

  59. #59 the2ndsaint
    February 12, 2010

    @55

    The problem, Sara, is that generally a belief in god stems from sloppy thinking which bleeds into other areas. God belief does not exist in a magical vacuum; it informs other decisions.

    Saying “let them believe what they want to believe” is exactly what needs to be opposed; when beliefs are demonstrably false there needs to be more discourse, not less.

  60. #60 Zabinatrix
    February 12, 2010

    @berlzebub:

    Question: In the future if someone comes to me with these giant calculations and claims that the evolution of such a long protein is impossible in evolutionary terms how do I answer them?

    This isn’t specifically about evolution, but it’s about how any “after the fact” calculation of odds like that is stupid.

    Imagine that I roll 1000 dice in a row. Everyone knows that the odds against them all coming up sixes are astronomically high. A series that looks something like: 4543612436[...]156431 looks a lot more likely.

    But the fact that it looks random doesn’t make it anymore likely – that exact sequence of numbers would be just as unlikely as all sixes. The odds are still astronomically against it. This does not mean that a miracle occur every time we roll 1000 dice however. There has to be some sequence of numbers from it – the dice will give some outcome even if every specific outcome is very unlikely.

    So a miracle isn’t needed for that astronomically unlikely string of numbers – the only thing that is needed is 1000 dice. The odds for a specific sequence are very low, but some sequence will still come if you just have the dice. And for a string of 26926 amino acids you just need 26926 amino acids… The odds against that specific chain forming might be very high, but some general chain just needs the amino acids.

    Calculating probabilities after the fact is bogus, just like it would be bogus to look at the 4543612436[...]156431-dice and say “A miracle must have occurred! Look at those dice, my mighty calculations say that there is virtually NO chance that they would come in that specific order by pure chance!”

    As I said previously though, this isn’t specifically about evolution but just about the general use of probability. When you throw in evolution, the stupidity of the probability argument is just even greater, because evolution is not just random chance.

    I’m no biologist so I won’t say more about that particular area, but I’d say that the argument is stupid even if you don’t know any biology and seems just even more stupid as an argument against evolution.

  61. #61 tsg
    February 12, 2010

    People really love the idea of God. So, let them like God. The problem is they have taken their little fable story and are trying to undermine science. Well, that isn’t going to be stopped by invective from Atheists. They are well armed with their “faith” and can easily ignore us. Creationist can be stopped more rational thinkers on the inside. Support them.

    We are, right now, paying for generations of watering down science with a good number of people who a) don’t understand evolution and b) think they are entitled not to have their beliefs challenged, and you think the solution is more of the same?

    Who cares if they want to believe in God. What matters is that they are trying to spread their nonsense into schools and are hacking away at the foundations of science in subtle destructive ways.

    They are trying to spread their nonsense into schools because they think they are entitled to do so by their belief in god.

    Yeah, science doesn’t belong in church and church doesn’t belong in science. But its already there, so lets separate them by letting Reverend Science talk about the nuttiness of Creationism. And applaud his efforts.

    NOMA fails because the religious don’t stick to their own end of the field. That he’s not a complete kook doesn’t make him not wrong.

  62. #62 JBlilie
    February 12, 2010

    @21:

    I grew up in the western suburbs of Minneapolis and there was never anything like this back in the 50s and 60s. The nuts stayed mostly under their rocks back then, where they belonged.

    We have the cynical “Reagan Revolution” to thank for bringing them out, blinking in the sunlight like confused roaches while they preach their darkness. The Enlightenment is under attack and we have to fight for it again, sigh – but there is no other choice if we value civilization.

    Thank dog for people like PZ, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and everyone who stands up to these evil throwbacks!

    I second those motions. Seems to me the resurgence of nut-jobbism began in 1980 when Reagan was elected. I sure saw it in Seattle and the Twin Cities. The mega-church right-wing-nuts spread just like the putty-colored housing developments of the 1980s and 1990s.

    Too bad liberals are so idealistic and, well, liberal, (and unwilling to shout down the opposition) and atheists seem to be contrarians mostly. We’ll never self-organize like the right-wing sheep. (Note the demise of Air America and the decades-long run of Limbaugh.)

  63. #63 abb3w
    February 12, 2010

    berlzebub: If someone else has a better explanation, or a correction, please let me know, too.

    Depends how advanced you want to get the discussion.

    Another factor is that the calculation assumes the string is formed by random selection of monomers, and ignores the possibility of a string resulting from combination of pre-existing polymers; by analogy, “BOOKKEEPER” only being possible coming from “B+O+O+K+K+E+E+P+E+R” alone, rather than “BOOK+KEEPER” or “BOO+KK+EEP+ER” (and all the other combinations) if you have the others around beforehand.

    Additionally, it neglects that proteins are catalysts. So, if a string “FOOM” develops, it may make it more likely for “A” to react with “H” to for “AH” or “AHA”. This allows for cases of autocatalysis, where the reaction product makes the reaction more likely to happen.

  64. #64 Zabinatrix
    February 12, 2010

    Oops, my last post was @notthemama, not berlzebub. My bad.

  65. #65 SQB
    February 12, 2010

    Since Greg is already taking care of the fair, my advice would be to go to the debate and try to disturb the Q&A by asking innocent questions. Or course, there’s always the chance they’ll recognize you and not let you in.

  66. #66 abb3w
    February 12, 2010

    From the Home School Science Fair web site that PZ linked: When our results don’t agree with our expectations, we usually look for other reasons why our experiment “failed,” but when they turn out like we expect, we often stop at that point without realizing that there may be other factors present which make our results less reliable than they appear.

    Sad. Teetering on the brink of understanding….

  67. #67 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Saying “let them believe what they want to believe” is exactly what needs to be opposed; when beliefs are demonstrably false there needs to be more discourse, not less.

    I don’t deny discourse should be there. But that is what this little debate is “discourse” between two people who are more likely to influence each other because they have a basic shared belief. (right or wrong) You are not going to be able to influence a fundamentalist. You would be considered wrong just because you don’t believe. But someone who shares some of the same beliefs can have a conversation.

    You want to deconvert these folks. But what they believe is none of your business. The right to believe is a fundamental right in the country.

    When their belief is causing them to try and inflict their wrong thinking in school – then they are affecting public policy – that action can and should be opposed.

  68. #68 Miki Z
    February 12, 2010

    Hmm. Is the irony unintentional on the topics page?

    The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 1:7

    These are the raw questions as I have not had time to clean them up or rephrase them in a statement for a hypothesis.

    The Bible says, “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.”

    2. How many shades of skin color are there? Use a paint scanner to test 100 people.
    54. Why do they live longer before the Flood?
    72. What is God made of?
    91. Why do we need to eat?

    April 2008 Version

    I wonder when Russ McGlenn will find time to turn those questions into hypotheses.

    Maybe he needs to be more afraid of God to get some more knowledge?

  69. #69 BBCaddict
    February 12, 2010

    It’s kind of pointless, anyway, since in the Coming Atheist Paradise, people will be converting the churches into bowling alleys and art galleries, anyway.

    Don’t forget awesome houses!
    I would love to live in an old church – just because of all the neato things you could do with it. You could put your bed on the altar, have a nice reading room up in the spire where the bells would have been, etc.

  70. #70 Ewan R
    February 12, 2010

    @60 and previous question.

    The dice rolling doesn’t quite get to the heart of the matter – rolling 1000 dice and getting a series of 1000 numbers and then claiming a miracle would still be plausible if for some reason the 1000 numbers you rolled coded for something very specific which any other (or most other) combinations of those numbers did not code for – this is the crux of the arguement being used against evolutionary biology by this line of “reasoning”

    The vast fallacy behind the arguement is that no serious minded evolutionary biologist proposes that proteins spring into being in their full complexity from a completely random process. There is randomness in the process, but the important part is the selection.

    Say you throw a lesser number of dice, and get a set of numbers which when translated into whatever function you’re looking at is 50% effective at it, and then you take this selection of numbers and randomly reroll one or two of the dice in each out of a population of a few thousand replicates. Then you look at the new population (each of which will likely differ now at a few points) and translate each sequence (by whatever arbitary rule you have) and select that which has the highest effectiveness (lets assume it creeps up by 2%) – you then repeat the process. Assuming a 2% gain per ‘generation’ you’d arrive at the 100% effective combination within 25 generations from a starting point of 50% (or within 50 generations from a starting point of 0) – rerolling all of the dice again every time would require increasingly impossible lengths of time dependant on the number of dice you were using.

    For a somewhat better explanation (which if I werent so fond of the sound of my own keyboard I would simply have put in rather than attempting a completely garbled explanation)

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

    Dawkins sums it up rather well using monkeys and Shakespeare

  71. #71 tsg
    February 12, 2010

    You want to deconvert these folks. But what they believe is none of your business. The right to believe is a fundamental right in the country.

    Saying that people have the right to believe whatever they want is not the same as saying whatever they choose to believe is a good choice.

    Creationists are demonstrably wrong. Period.

  72. #72 BBCaddict
    February 12, 2010

    @ 62

    Note the demise of Air America…

    All the worthwhile people that were on Air America have moved on so it’s NOT any sort of referendum on how there’s no “liberal media” left.
    (www.randirhodes.com is a good place to start and of course MSNBC for Rachel’s TV show)

  73. #73 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Why do they live longer before the Flood?

    I was caught. I had to know what they would put down as the answer. So I googled, as is my want.
    And found the following for the edification of the under educated here at Atheist Central.

    But let no one, upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument, that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life, for those ancients were beloved of God, and [lately] made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a number of years: and besides, God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, which would not have afforded the time of foretelling [the periods of the stars] unless they had lived six hundred years; for the great year is completed in that interval.”

    http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/why-did-man-live-longer-before-flood-of-noah-than-after-it.html

    Don’t you feel so much smarter now? I do. I feel like I have had an epiphany…Or it might have been aneurysm.

  74. #74 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Wow! Did you see how cool I messed up my HTML!
    Sometimes being inept is fun.

    TSG – Creationist are wrong. I agree whole hearted. I don’t want them teaching that crap in schools.

    I will fight it all the ways I know. But I want to win the fight. And I will accept the allies I can get. So I think – support Rev. Science Guy. He is against Creationist, so am I.

  75. #75 Miki Z
    February 12, 2010

    My question about the “antediluvian” lifespans is:

    How do you turn that into a hypothesis? The author makes a big deal (not on the topics page, though, I note) about the necessity of having a falsifiable hypothesis, making the claim that unlike secular educators he teaches the Scientific Method. Many of the more than 100 questions even could be falsified. Some of them are just too stupid to have ever been listed:

    58. Why did God create the moon to control the tides?
    84. What events caused them to become evolutionists?
    97. Why did God make birds to fly?

  76. #76 tsg
    February 12, 2010

    TSG – Creationist are wrong. I agree whole hearted. I don’t want them teaching that crap in schools.

    I will fight it all the ways I know. But I want to win the fight. And I will accept the allies I can get. So I think – support Rev. Science Guy. He is against Creationist, so am I.

    But he’s still wrong. Not only is he wrong, his position is part of the reason why creationists think they can push their nonsense into schools. It’s the difference between treating the symptoms and curing the disease.

  77. #77 Watson
    February 12, 2010

    Check out this event from the Twin Cities Creation Science Association calendar. I can hardly wait.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010 7:30 pm
    Russ McGlenn

    “Beowulf the Dragon Slayer –
    Truth or Fantasy?”

    Northwestern College, 3003 North Snelling, Roseville Minnesota
    Nazareth Hall Chapel (the building nearest the lake)

    A colorful presentation by Russ McGlenn on literature that tells of ancient people killing dinosaurs. Featured will be dinosaur models and weapons used to slay dracans (dragons) the old English name for dinosaurs. When people studied Beowulf in high school, the traditional interpretation of the poem was that it was a fantasy about ancient Danish peoples and their fight with trolls. No one took it seriously. It was made into a movie a few years back that continued this myth. Bill Cooper, an English language scholar, has written a book called “After the Flood.” He makes a good argument for Beowulf being a historical figure killing Dinosaurs as described in the poem. Russ will bring to life this incredible historical record using models, reenactments, and colorful Power Point slides. If you have a sword, dagger, shield, helmet and want to bring it to the meeting to display please do so (carefully) or want to come dressed in ancient battle gear. Two prizes will be given for the weapon that best fits Beowulf’s dragon slayer sword or dagger and for the best costume.

    Questions answered:
    Grendel. What kind of dinosaur was he?
    What ancient weapon finally slew Grendel’s mother?
    What was the fire breathing dragon that killed Beowulf?
    What is a dragon harpoon?

  78. #78 SteveM
    February 12, 2010

    I first heard of people converting churches into homes a while becak. Here’s a beautiful example.

    Alice (of “Alice’s Restaurant) lived in a church, in the choir loft and threw their garbage on the main floor leading to Arlo and friends cleaning it up for them and getting into trouble with the law (with lots of glossy 8×10 photographs with circles and lines and a paragraph on the back of each one)…. but I digress.

    Another good use for churches is community theatre (which could be said is what they were being used for originally). When I was in high school I worked with a community theatre that had bought an old church and converted it.

  79. #79 Sastra
    February 12, 2010

    Sara #67 wrote:

    You want to deconvert these folks. But what they believe is none of your business. The right to believe is a fundamental right in the country.

    You’re confusing a political right, with an epistemic right. You also seem to be conflating a person-centered ‘Dinner Table Diplomacy’ with the importance of larger issues. We refrain from arguing religion and politics at the dinner table, or in situations where the other person is shy or reluctant, on personal basis. This does not mean that religion and politics are ‘off the table’ when it comes to full-blown debate. What Christians believe is very much our business, because they are making fact claims based on poor evidence and argument.

    Religion is not just personal therapy or a form of art. It’s supposed to be true, and it’s supposed to matter. There are consequences which flow from that, and these consequences are not going to be in the form of “who cares, can’t you just leave them alone?” They care, that’s who. Truth matters.

    People do not have “the right to believe” whatever they want, without criticism. Religious beliefs have gotten a free ride in an armored tank, to use Greta Christina’s elegant phrase.

    Yes, it is good that the liberal Christians are chiding and correcting the conservative Christians, on a science issue. They are our allies here. Yes. Agree. Bully for them. Kumbaya. Hugs and kisses.

    But these liberal Christians and theists still advocate a faith-based approach to reality, still accept special revelation, still carve out a special niche for irrational beliefs, and still promote the idea that religious belief is a sign of sensitivity and awareness. They are right on the science because of what amounts to luck. How lucky for us that they decided to draw the line where they did, in a system which celebrates having a special area of facts where reason cannot go.

    Do you know the best way to stop religious fighting between factions arguing over who got God right? Bring in the atheists. Nothing unites them in happy harmony like agreement over what they’re NOT. Kumbaya, indeed.

  80. #80 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    He doesn’t even stop to think that maybe his whole premise is false: it assumes the entire protein was instantaneously assembled completely by the chance arrangement of a series of amino acids.

    Don’t get intellectual honesty get in the way of a good straw man.

  81. #81 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    That should say “Don’t let …”

  82. #82 SteveM
    February 12, 2010

    re 70:

    One problem most creationists can seem to get past is that “random” does not mean “every possible outcome is equally likely”. So instead of just rolling dice, imagine taking a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and selecting pairs of pieces at random. See if they fit together, if they do, glue them together to form a new larger piece and throw it back in the box. Continue and eventually you will produce the assembled puzzle using a “completely random” method. And in much shorter time than by calculating the total number of possible arrangements of those 1000 pieces.

  83. #83 SteveM
    February 12, 2010

    re 82:

    “One problem most creationists can seem to get past…”

    Of course, I meant to say “… can’t get past…”

  84. #84 alysonmiers
    February 12, 2010

    First off, if you’re going to say it’s a religion that’s preventing science, evolution is the religion that’s preventing science, because you’ve got atheistic evolutionists who are saying ‘Well, all the science points to a God, but I don’t want to believe in that so I’ll believe the impossible instead.’

    Wow. That is an impressive piece of projection right there.

    When we bring about the Atheist Paradise, I think a lot of churches would make very nice libraries.

  85. #85 llewelly
    February 12, 2010

    Watson | February 12, 2010 4:05 PM:

    Grendel. What kind of dinosaur was he?

    *raises hand*

    I know! I know!

    A duckbill!

    That’s how we know evolution ain’t true. If it were, Grendel would have been a crocoduckbill, an impossible monster.

  86. #86 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    Wow. That is an impressive piece of projection right there.

    Yeah, it’s quite staggering projection. Unbelievable amounts of projection. Multiple irony-detector breakages projection.

    All science points to God? If that were the case, then why are they trying to change science textbooks?

  87. #87 Vashti
    February 12, 2010

    Some insanity from that website:

    “Hints from Judges Regarding Science Fair Projects

    “General hint: please include your Bible verse on the poster, not just in your report.”

    Which boggles the mind since it is followed by the hint: “Do not include material that is not directly related to the project.”

    83. Why do people believe in Evolution? 84. What events caused them to become evolutionists?

    Some of the suggested topics seem downright dangerous for creationists. These two certainly wouldn’t have been allowed in any of the fundie schools I attended.

    12. Trilobites prove Noah’s flood because they are curled up or not?

    Some are perplexing. Never mind the confusing grammar, this is the first time I ever encountered dead trilobites as evidence for the flood and therefore creationism (but I was raised by Yecs* who only acknowledged fossils as the tricks and traps of Satan). Possibly I don’t get out enough, since a quick online search shows that trilobites are an apparent favorite of creationists (even Ken Ham touts a trilobite paperweight which makes my trilobite necklace seems a little dirty now). Still, I can’t see how trilobites help the creationist case in any way (of course, neither do dinosaurs and that doesn’t seem to bother Yecs anymore).


    104.Why do cats hate dogs and dogs hate cats?

    My dogs insist that this is utter nonsense, they love cats the same way most Pharyngulites love bacon.

    Quote regarding the Creation Science Dinosaur Dig:

    ?With the replica of the dinosaur bone we dug up, we have been successfully witnessing about God’s judgment and God’s mercy.?

    Huh??
    *Thanks negentropyeater, I will no longer talk about YECs or Young Earth Creationists, just “Yecs” or maybe Yecks. It sounds so deliciously icky.

  88. #88 Legion
    February 12, 2010

    We think that given enough time, sustained atheist resistance could result in the devaluation of religious thought within our culture until membership in a particular religion is roughly equivalent to being a fan of a particular sports team.

    Believers could still have their faith, just as fans have their teams. The difference is that the idea of taking a set of dogmatic religious beliefs and using them as a basis for public policy would seem as ludicrous as asking the local high school football coach to draft a position paper on international finance.

  89. #89 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    Some of the suggested topics seem downright dangerous for creationists. These two certainly wouldn’t have been allowed in any of the fundie schools I attended.

    Given they’re creationists (and from experience creationists don’t even know what evolution is or why it is so strongly supported), you don’t actually expect them to be honest about this do you? I’m going to bet it’s a talk about morality that has nothing to do with evolution at all, just putting a false link between evolution and atheism – because that’s all they are capable of doing. Heaven forbid they actually understand what they’re talking about…

  90. #90 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Sastra, I don’t agree with any idea that involves me in defining anyone else choices — UNLESS their choices are having a direct effect on me.
    Creationists in School is WRONG. Because it effects me.
    Creationist believing in Creationism – is their problem, and if they want to start using their brain they can or they can let it dry rot for all I care. I’m not responsible for it.

  91. #91 Ewan R
    February 12, 2010

    Sara – the root cause of creationists trying to get creationism taught in schools is that creationists literally believe in creationism.

    You can battle as much as you want at the school level, but until widespread acceptance that belief in creationism is as valid as belief in fairies at the bottom of the garden the root cause will remain and the battle will have to be perpetually fought.

    The same arguement applies to more nefarious aspects of religion such as the promise of 72 virgins, god sanctioned murder of doctors and suchlike – not going after the root cause (belief in the ridiculous) means that the problems will not go away, merely be dealt with, again, and again, and again.

  92. #92 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 12, 2010

    #13

    Yes, by all means, explain to us how created items such as leaves work, using all the science you can muster.

    And while you are at it, explain why the single most important enzyme on the planet has a tendency to bind oxygen rather than carbon dioxide, photorespiring all over itself like a noob slob.

    Nice work, Jehovah! But no thanks…I think I’ll make my own sandwich.

  93. #93 MadScientist
    February 12, 2010

    Creationists demonstrating that they don’t understand science. Creationist Bible Fair: why religion should be kept out of US schools. Or any school for that matter.

  94. #94 Ewan R
    February 12, 2010

    Antiochus #92 – I believe that is because global rises in CO2 were prophecized meaning that by the time of the second coming the whole system will be working as intended.

  95. #95 Sastra
    February 12, 2010

    Sara #90 wrote:

    Sastra, I don’t agree with any idea that involves me in defining anyone else choices — UNLESS their choices are having a direct effect on me.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “defining anyone else’s choices.”

    Are you talking about writing books and articles saying that belief X is wrong? Public discussions? Debates? Letters to the editor? Displays in the library? University courses? “Here is why X is wrong, and why you shouldn’t believe it.”

    Or are you concerned about marching up to people who are minding their own business, and shouting in their faces that they’re wrong, even when they try to turn away and start to cry?

    I need some examples of someone “defining someone else’s choice,” so I know what you don’t want to get involved with.

  96. #96 MadScientist
    February 12, 2010

    “Ultimately, what this project looks like to me is an attempt to expand the domain of religion to encompass science, and that’s something I’m always going to oppose.”

    I think it’s NOMA from the other side and it’s been practiced by the catholic church even before Galileo’s arrest. The only way a religious person can convince another religious person that science isn’t so bad is to say that (1) it doesn’t really contradict religion and (2) it’s god revealing more about his awesome creations. Chris Mooney is a major screwup for believing that the non-religious can use the same tactic on the religious – that is, lie about science not contradicting religion – I doubt there’s a significant number of religious people who would believe the lie when told by the non-religious, nor do I believe lying like that will accomplish any good.

  97. #97 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Sastra
    To me defining someone else’s choice is attempting to “deconvert” the religious people. It is the same as them evangelizing to me. I don’t want to stop them from believing in god. It matters not at all to me if they believe in god. If by some strange irony there is a god, I doubt if it even matters to that god.

    I want to stop their erroneous belief from infecting public policy. That is a position I can get behind.

  98. #98 Rhubarb
    February 12, 2010

    I’m uncomfortable with the dogmatism of the religions with a belief creed, and I’m uncomfortable with the dogmatism of atheists who say they know for sure…so I’m an agnostic. I do not know “the answers” and I’m not going to let anyone else propagandize me into a belief system. I have to figure it out for myself.

    With that viewpoint, comes a kind of freedom (and responsibility) that I think is celebrated by most UUs. A free and responsible search for truth is our mandate. Yeah, the language of “interconnected web of life” is warm and fuzzy, but if that’s the way some people want to talk about it, fine with me. It is just another way of expressing the idea.

    The one thing that is truly abhorrent to UUs is the imposition of one group’s belief set on another. We covenant with each other to mutual support, service to society, and a free and responsible search for truth, wherever that search leads us.

  99. #99 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2010

    The one thing that is truly abhorrent to UUs is the imposition of one group’s belief set on another intellectual rigor. – Rhubarb

    Fixed for you. No charge. BTW, in the UK, “Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb” is what groups of film extras are supposed to say to give the impression of holding a conversation without actually saying anything meaningful. You chose your nym well!

  100. #100 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    I’m uncomfortable with the dogmatism of the religions with a belief creed, and I’m uncomfortable with the dogmatism of atheists who say they know for sure…so I’m an agnostic. I do not know “the answers” and I’m not going to let anyone else propagandize me into a belief system. I have to figure it out for myself.

    Gah, not another concern-troll agnostic. Two things:

    Firstly, atheism is not about being sure. It’s simply the negation of the positive. Do you think that not believing in Santa is something you can be sure about? What about the fairies at the bottom of your garden? Most atheists are agnostic atheists, they don’t think they can absolutely disprove God (in the same way they can’t disprove that there aren’t gremlims inside atoms).

    Secondly, atheism is not a belief system. It simply is the negation of theism and has no prescriptive qualities. It’s just saying “I have no good reason to accept the claims of any interventionist deity interacting in nature”. That’s it, not really much to call a belief system.

  101. #101 Watson
    February 12, 2010

    I’m thinking that he was a t-rex. Something that had puny, slender arms.

    Grendel. What kind of dinosaur was he?

    llewelly | February 12, 2010 4:29 PM

    I know! I know!

    A duckbill!

  102. #102 Qwerty
    February 12, 2010

    I find it amusing and pathetic that creationists often think they are the “true” scientists.

    As far as the creation science fair goes, I think it’s sad that these people are putting their children into an intellectual straitjacket into which their thinking and learning has to be Biblically based. (Or should I say biased.)

    It stifles curiosity and leads to a lack of an ability to think critically.

    Since I live nearby, I may pop over and check it out.

  103. #103 Zeno
    February 12, 2010

    From the Home School ‘Science’ Fair site: “If possible, make your measurements using Metric System measurements.”

    Don’t they know that the metric system is the satanic product of the godless French Revolution?

    (That ought to scare the crap out of those crazy buggers.)

  104. #104 Sastra
    February 12, 2010

    Sara #97 wrote:

    To me defining someone else’s choice is attempting to “deconvert” the religious people. It is the same as them evangelizing to me.

    “Deconvert them” how? Going door to door and interrupting their dinner — or writing a book that’s put in a book store window? Richard Dawkins gives lectures on college campuses, arguing that atheism is more reasonable — and more likely to be true — than theism.

    He’s trying to change people’s minds. Is this evangelism? Too much like evangelism? He should drop it, maybe.

    Is it always wrong to try to change someone’s mind — or is religion a special area, with different, relaxed rules, more like tastes and preferences that don’t need to be defended. Does it not matter at all, whether it’s true or not — as long as the people who think it’s the most important thing in the whole world, don’t start getting ideas that it’s true true, in everyone’s world?

  105. #105 Paul
    February 12, 2010

    Most atheists are agnostic atheists, they don’t think they can absolutely disprove God

    I go even farther in my agnosticism! I think that us mere mortals can not even in principle know whether or not gods exist. Sort of related to Clarke’s Third Law, regarding sufficiently advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic. If we had a deity telling us of it’s omnipotence, how could we test it? Our finite minds could not conceive of necessary proof to distinguish true omnipotence from mere vast incomprehensible power. And we would have no way to verify that it was in fact the source of everything, instead of a sort of Demiurge pretending to be God. And all that is ignoring that we haven’t yet proven we’re not brains in jars.

    Parsimony is what brings us to the position that there are no gods. It isn’t dogma, no matter how much it tickles UUs to pretend scientists are dogmatic about lack of gods so they feel superior in their smug neutrality about the nature/source of existence. They’re like the Neutral Planet denizens from Futurama: “All I know is my gut says maybe.”

  106. #106 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 12, 2010

    I’m uncomfortable with the dogmatism of atheists who say they know for sure

    Most of us here keep the same refrain going. Parsimony states that without evidence, your deity doesn’t exist. Then we ask for conclusive physical evidence for their deity. Something solid and conclusive like an eternally burning bush. No mealy mouthed sophist philosophy. Solid physical evidence. And it never, ever comes. We’ll change or minds if it ever does, but until, remember parsimony…

  107. #107 Sastra
    February 12, 2010

    Most atheists are also agnostics; it depends on the question. Does God exist? Technically, unless someone has been obliging enough to define God with logical contradictions, we cannot know. I don’t know. Ah, but what do we believe? Does God exist? What’s our best guess, our working theory, our inference to the best explanation, our provisional assumption, our pragmatic reliance?

    No.

  108. #108 Janet Holmes
    February 12, 2010

    Could we stop this ‘religion vs science’ stuff? Science is just a process for discovering the truth about reality. What we really have is

    Religion vs REALITY!!

    It’s too easy for people to wall ‘science’ off from the rest of the universe as something different, other and unnecessary. You get an entire education without studying much science. Reality however is a bit more difficult to ignore. Let’s have some ‘Religion vs Reality’ debates and see how that goes. Opens the field up a bit too. There’s plenty of things not considered ‘science’ which stand against religion.

  109. #109 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Sastra
    I don’t have a problem with anyone debunking Creationism. Go for it. All day long. I will help. Because they are using it as method to push a public policy that will have a detrimental effect on our current and future lives.

    I don’t even have a real problem with anyone trying to convince the religious that they should be Atheist. I won’t do it because I place value on people coming to their own decisions. Now if someone wants to have a voluntary conversation with me on my views – I am happy to share them and all the relevant ideas that led me to them.

    My Point is that putting a lot of energy on what tsg calls the Disease (their belief in god) is wasteful. We know its not going to be cured. Or maybe that is just my cynical view….
    But we can control the symptom (creationism as science) by fighting their desire to place creationism in our public school system like it has scientific validity. ( I think Ive beaten that metaphor to death – don’t you?)

    We won’t agree. So lets just disagree.

  110. #110 Suck Poppet
    February 12, 2010

    Creation Science

    It’s like milatary intelligence – an obvious oxymoron.

  111. #111 Desert Son, OM
    February 12, 2010

    Sara posted:

    My Point is that putting a lot of energy on what tsg calls the Disease (their belief in god) is wasteful. We know its not going to be cured. Or maybe that is just my cynical view…

    I was a believer in gods for a long time. Many people, in many different ways and media, confronted (directly and indirectly, with kindness and ridicule alike) my belief in gods, inspiring me to think, and over time, with the help of tools like reason and logic (though I certainly am not always reasonable and logical) and evidence and exploration and the Scientific Method, and with the help of others encouraging me to think, I came to realize that, in fact, I don’t believe in gods, that there’s no evidence for them.

    To all of you out there who have put the energy into confronting belief, directly and indirectly, you have my thanks. It wasn’t wasted on me, and I suspect I am not alone.

    Sastra, awesome posts in this thread. Many thanks.

    alysonmiers,

    When we bring about the Atheist Paradise, I think a lot of churches would make very nice libraries.

    Ah, after my own heart! I imagine the cathedral in Köln, or Mont-Saint-Michel, or the National Cathedral with shelf after shelf, row upon row, of beautifully bound volumes, with comfortable tables and wonderfully stuffed chairs, shaded lamps, reading rooms, soft rugs, a quiet cafe tucked in a wing of the transept, and sunlight streaming in through the stained glass, the soft echo of patrons’ steps on old stone rising gently to the vaulted ceiling.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  112. #112 Sastra
    February 12, 2010

    Sara #109 wrote:

    I don’t even have a real problem with anyone trying to convince the religious that they should be Atheist. I won’t do it because I place value on people coming to their own decisions. Now if someone wants to have a voluntary conversation with me on my views – I am happy to share them and all the relevant ideas that led me to them.

    Again, you seem to be conflating two different senses of what it means to “evangelize” — the personal one which addresses a particular person in a particular case, and the more general one which involves getting the information out there, in public, so that when people come “to their own decisions” they don’t just have the side they’re used to, to consider. I don’t think Dinner Table Diplomacy should be brought up as an argument against the outspoken atheism of Dawkins (or PZ.) Try not to invoke straw-man aggressive atheism, the village atheist who brings it up at every opportunity, appropriate or not.

    You will be relieved to hear that I, too wait to be approached. But I do not think that relevant to the larger issue here.

    My Point is that putting a lot of energy on what tsg calls the Disease (their belief in god) is wasteful. We know its not going to be cured. Or maybe that is just my cynical view….

    It won’t even be modified or improved if nobody tries to “cure” it — on the assumption that it won’t work, or that people have the “right” to believe, or so on and so forth. It’s interesting that the concern for religious sensibilities so often rests on the idea that theists are not as intelligent, strong, or reasonable as atheists, so this needs to be taken into account and ‘respected.’ The intemperate language involved in telling someone they’re wrong may be outweighed by the implicit but tender double standard.

    I think that, as a general rule, controlling symptoms and avoiding what looks like the underlying cause is probably not a good long-term strategy.

    And how do you know we won’t agree, eventually?

  113. #113 SteveM
    February 12, 2010

    I go even farther in my agnosticism! I think that us mere mortals can not even in principle know whether or not gods exist.

    Actually, that is the definition of agnosticism.

  114. #114 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    Actually, that is the definition of agnosticism.

    The original definition of agnosticism anyway, not how it is used in the modern-day vernacular.

  115. #115 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 12, 2010

    Suck Poppet #110

    It’s like milatary [sic] intelligence – an obvious oxymoron.

    I’ve always found this sneer to be one of the most stupid things I’ve ever come across.

    * It assumes that anyone involved with the military is an idiot.

    * It doesn’t recognize that the word “intelligence” doesn’t mean the same thing in the military as it does in common usage. It’s rather like the difference between scientific theories and common-usage theories.

    * It shows the sort of unthinking prejudice we expect from fundamentalists towards atheists.

    So go ahead, Sock Poppet, tell us what other forms of bigotry you’ve got. Still think that them darkies are too uppity? And you know that women should be kept barefoot and pregnant.

  116. #116 Janet Holmes
    February 12, 2010

    I just read the rest of the comments so I have to add that the Christian definition of god does contain logical contradictions. You can’t have a god who is omnipotent because then how can he create a rock he cannot lift? He can’t!

    The old Greek gods didn’t have this problem, we should be agnostic about them maybe but not Yahweh.

  117. #117 dude070012
    February 12, 2010

    Go for shiggles (shits and giggles) Bring a video recorder to post online just for shiggles

  118. #118 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    You can’t have a god who is omnipotent because then how can he create a rock he cannot lift? He can’t!

    Well Plantinga gets around this by saying that God isn’t all-powerful but maximally powerful. Though I like the way you think, it’s just like omniscience that if you know everything then you have know that you know everything then you have to know that you know that you know everything … thus there’s an incompleteness to knowledge. Because no matter what set of knowledge you have, that set of knowledge can be further encompassed in a greater set.

    Of course, talking about whether gods can be proven or disproved a priori means absolutely nothing because of any attribution to Gods that we give would be a posteriori. To say God is omnipotent or omniscient may have logical problems, but the very attribution of omnipotence to a god is an a posteriori argument and thus trying to prove or disprove gods using reason is impossible. Rather that there must be a burden on any theist who attributes anything to the concept of God – including existence – to demonstrate such a being exists using evidence.

  119. #119 IanM
    February 12, 2010

    Creationism is a monstrous evil, fed by lies, egotism, and fear, which robs people of their true heritage and history. It seeks to mutilate our understanding of who we are and how we came to be. It obliterates the past. The nature of the thinking which underlies it corrupts our ability to think. It hijacks science and religion. It takes a work of poetry, an achievement of man’s imagination with regard to his earliest awareness and fashions it into a bludgeon to empower small-minded, self-righteous bigots. It cheapens and diminishes us and our achievements as a civilisation.

  120. #120 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    Sastra states

    I don’t think Dinner Table Diplomacy should be brought up as an argument against the outspoken atheism of Dawkins (or PZ.)

    I have never once suggested that outspoken atheism of of Dawkins or PZ is an issue. You have suggested that I think that on multiple entries, but I didn’t.

    I suggested that supporting Rev. Science was good strategy. TSG and yourself suggested that the solution is to attack the root issue – their belief in God. And I infer, that therefore to support Rev. Science would be bad. I feel that this strategy of running down your allies is counter productive to my larger goal of deleting the Creationist public policy program.
    Theist live in a cocoon of illogical faith. You won’t win the public policy debate there. But you can attack the creation story and win a whole slew of middle of the road people who have a generalized belief in a fuzzy godlike thing, but who don’t think God created the earth in 6 days, several thousand years ago. And they need to be woken up and told that their right wing counterparts are loony tunes.

    We need to discuss Evolution loudly and in public forums. We need to discuss geology and cosmology and physics Loudly and in public forums. We need to discuss the lunacy of making Creation Theory some kind of Science, rather than a religious story. And we need to stop Religious views and theories from being a part of our public school science curriculum.

  121. #121 John Morales
    February 12, 2010

    Sara @120, in short, we can’t cure the disease, so we should merely palliate the symptoms.

    Though it may seem superficially pragmatic, I think that approach ultimately defeatist.

  122. #122 Sara
    February 12, 2010

    John @ 121
    Yeah. I know. But I honestly don’t think we have a hope of eradicating the Disease. Its been around for probably ever…

  123. #123 Desert Son, OM
    February 12, 2010

    Its been around for probably ever…

    Probably so has cancer. Some fights are worth fighting.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  124. #124 IanM
    February 12, 2010

    Kel, I know it’s hard to get our minds around the inherent contradictions of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God but perhaps the best way to deal with it is to think of God as an open system and to understand those contradictions in terms of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem. A belief in God, like the real numbers, isn’t totally irrational, just infinitely so.

  125. #125 Kel, OM
    February 12, 2010

    perhaps the best way to deal with it is to think of God as an open system and to understand those contradictions in terms of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem

    My criticism of omniscience was actually based on Godel’s incompleteness theorem. If infinite knowledge is inherently impossible then labelling anything as having infinitely knowledge breaks logic.

  126. #126 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 12, 2010

    I took a look at some of the suggested topics for creation science fair projects. As a scientician, I thought that I would try to get the kids started in answering some of these. Stumped as I was by the first one, I stated at number 2. Now kids…I’m not doing your homework for you. This is just to help get your creative juices flowing.

    2. How many shades of skin color are there? Use a paint scanner to test 100 people.
    I got kicked out of home depot before the experiment was completed. Evolutionists!

    ?3. Make a computer model of the Flood currents.
    Unfortunately, my computer completely died after the second glass of water. Now I go to the library to read Professor Dendy?s blog.
    ?
    4. Statistical occurrence of giants, and midgets and dwarfs and giantism. Use Princess Flo, Goliath, and brothers.
    Sorry. I don?t know that much about Pokemon. However, approximately 7% of the people that I know are gigantic. I don?t know any midgets or dwarfs?therefore the statistical probability?Oh?and dude, ??midget? is not the preferred nomenclature.
    ?
    5. What can we learn from the Amish blood disease and sixth finger? Compare this to the half Jewish Samaritans. (Bob Helfinstine may have info on this).
    People with the Amish Blood Disease and the sixth finger are less statistically probable than giants. Even more statistically improbable are half Jewish Samaritans. I suspect that I know one of these, and his name is Bob Hilfenstine.

    ?6. Build and run studies on a strata forming wave tank. This would confirm or disprove strata are all laid down at the same time. See http://www.icr.org/newsletters/impact/impactoct00.html and video tape Evidences: The Record & the Flood from Geoscience Research .
    See #3. I?m done with flood research.

    ?7. Does Tanning leather affect C14 content and date?
    Sometimes when I tan leather, I find that time slows to a tedious grind. At the submolecular level, I?m not sure tanning has any effect on any of the existing isotopes of carbon, except that that they become more fashionable as a rule.

    ?8. How much voltage or current can a human take before he is killed? (This is a to be a literature search, NOT an experiment.) What sorts of shocks have been known to kill people and how much have people tolerated and lived? What is it about electicity that kills? Would the same thing be true of plants.
    Again, see #3. What is it with you guys and pouring water into computers?
    ?
    9. How much electricity does an eel put out?
    Why don?t you pour some water on one and find out? *Just kidding* Eels don?t put out for anything less than champagne

    ?10. What was life like before the Flood?
    Less mildew.Take one medium sized nebula, apply a generous pinch of a pressurized gas (your favorite noble gas would work great) and serve cold. Ok?not an experiment, but a light meal. Add lemon zest for freshness.

    ?12. Trilobites prove Noah’s flood because they are curled up or not?
    They?re what we call in the ?fetal? position?so yeah, curled up. They?re not trying to prove anything. They just want to be loved. Is that so wrong?

    13. Do Lilydale closed clam fossils support a world wide flood?
    They would love a world-wide flood. They are marine organisms after all.

    14. Can salt water and fresh water fish live in the same water or not?
    *blink* *blink*

    ?15. How long can flies survive freezing in a frig?
    I have had these damned flies in the refrigerator for two days and they are still not frozen?maybe something is wrong with my refrigerator

    16. How can you tell if animals are color blind?
    I just look at what they?re wearing.

    ?17. Does geography affect health?
    Never been in a Walmart south of the Mason-Dixon, have you?

    ?18. Is intelligence influenced by physical attributes. i.e. are blondes “dumb” or does skin color influence intelligence?
    ? Blondes are no more likely to be creationists than anyone else. So, no on the hair color?and you can see where this is going.

    19. Can a dog run a maze faster than a gerbil?
    With training and determination, your dog can do whatever he sets his mind to. Unless, I guess the gerbil does the same. What kind of maze are we talking about here?

    ?20. Why do we have allergies?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?21. Does a bad mood spread?
    No. But apparently a dumb mood is contagious like the clap.

    22. Could a person function without thumbs?
    Let?s see?come here, son.

    23. Why do we have an Adams apple?
    We aren?t really fabulous women of the stage?

    ?24. Why do we feel cold when it is 30 degrees in the Fall but in the February 30 degrees seems warm?
    Buddy?I live in east Texas. Not a clue how I feel when it is 30 degrees.

    ?25. Does weather affect attitudes?
    I think the answer is apparent from question #24 .

    ?26. Is energy ever destroyed or created?
    It is becoming more obvious to me by the moment that it can definitely be wasted.

    ?27. What happens to garbage in a land fill?
    Look. Nothing happens when you die. Why do apologetics always start with these seemingly simple questions?

    ?28. What makes an animal wild?
    Axe body spray

    ?29. Why do some foods give you a stomach ache?
    I hid thumbtacks in those dishes.

    ?30. Why does the ocean appear blue but when it is in a bucket it is clear?
    How big a bucket are we talking about?

    ?31. Why is the sky blue by day and black at night?
    During the day the sky misses his old lady. At night, he?s a ninja.

    32. Why do we hiccup?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?33. Why is hair thicker on the head than the rest of the body?
    I thought I e-mailed you my full body pic. I?ll send that again right away.

    ?34. What are freckles and why do we have them?
    Freckles are the outward signs of herpes. I used to have freckle outbreaks all the time. Then I started using Valtrex.

    ?35. Why does the Bible say there is one glory of the sun, one glory of the moon, and one glory of the stars?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    36. Why is snow 6 sided?
    Yes. Snow is a cube.

    ?37. Why does liquid water turn to a solid at 32 degrees F.?
    Like I said (#15). My refrigerator isn?t working right.

    38. Why can’t we see air?
    Speak for yourself, Stevie Wonder.

    ?39. Why does hair turn gray when we age?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?40. Does sea currents affect climate?
    They definitely does.

    ?41. Is everything, including non-living things, made of cells?
    yes

    ?43. Does commercial feed, corn and grits, or range feed, increase egg production in chickens?
    Yes, but these food sources do nothing to help egg production in roosters, puppies, or rocks.

    44. Why do trees have leaves?
    So that the teabaggers, members of Westboro Baptist, and the Klan can march in the shade. Maranatha!

    ?45. How high can a model rocket fly?
    If science knew the answer to this question, we could finally fly to the moon

    ?46. Where are teeth stored?
    In an old coffee can in my garage.

    ?47. What is the best way to care for teeth?
    See #46.

    ?48. Is there a way for humans to get to Jupiter? Mars? etc.?
    Boys use candy bars to achieve this end. Girls opt for getting stupider. Or maybe the other way around.

    49. How does friction work?
    When a man and a women love each other very much…

    ?50. Why does blood look blue in our veins (it is actually dark red but looks blue when we see it through our skin and the walls of the veins) but turns bright red when we are cut?
    Cutting angries up the blood.

    …and: If we are cut in a vacuum or in an oxygen-free environment, would the blood stay dark?
    If you are considering entering into a knife fight, move to a well-ventilated part of the alley.

    ?51. Why do we have finger nails?
    It would be hard to get the tape roll started without them.

    ?52. What was the weather like before the Flood?
    Just before the Flood it was rainy.

    ?53. Were all the animals friendly to man before the Flood?
    Yes, except for the kittens and puppies and unicorns. The kittens and puppies had a change of heart. The unicorns? Well?

    54. Why do they live longer before the Flood?
    Less risk of drowning.

    ?55. Why do only mammals have hair?
    Mammals are a bunch of fashionistas

    ?56. Why do plants and insects die in the Fall?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?57. Why is chlorophyll green?
    Because it absorbs energy primarily in the blue and green portions of the spectrum. It?s not funny.

    ?58. Why did God create the moon to control the tides?
    Because god hates a static body of water more than he hates homosexuals, even. The better question is, why didn?t He create an even larger satellite to control the homosexuals?

    ?59. What is color?
    God?s little way of helping us sort our laundry

    ?60. What is heat?
    What a precious question. Oh, you poor Minnesotans.

    ?61. What is light?
    An apt question from creationists, seeing that they live perpetually in the dark.

    62. Why do plants give us oxygen?
    They are expecting something more than friendship. And they are tired of waiting.

    ?63. What is electricity?
    Ever see Cirque du Soleil?

    ?64. Why do we sleep at night?
    To keep from fornicating

    65. What affects skin color? Is one color better than another What was God’s purpose in this?
    I?m not touching this one. Kids?I suggest you choose another topic?like #66.

    66. What color is our brain?
    Stop squirming and maybe I could tell you

    ?67. What is the fastest speed something can go?
    I don?t know, but the slowest speed record took place one sultry summer afternoon at a DMV in a small town in Mississippi…[This was the beginning of Strom Thurmond?s record breaking filibuster]

    ?68. Why is a dog’s nose wet?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?69. Why do cats always land on there feet when they fall?
    To obtain the answer, I will need 100 cats and a week of uninterrupted study atop the Seattle Space Needle.

    ?70. How do mice react after 24 hours of confinement?
    I have tried this experiment many times, but my baby Burmese Python keeps eating them.

    ?71. How does soap clean?
    Pretty well compared to a brick of ramen noodles.

    ?72. What is God made of?
    Lumbering ions being exchanged among the thirteen neurons in Billy Grahams cranial ganglion. He will live as long as BG roams the planet. Maranatha!

    ?73. How does water turn into clouds?
    Clouds are made out of marshmallows. Idiot.

    ?74. What happens to eyes so you need glasses?
    See the answer for #17

    ?75. What is plastic made out of?
    Recycled plastic. What do you mean ?infinite regress??

    ?76. Why do some people get allergic reactions?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?77. How do we get headaches?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?78. What is rubber made out of?
    Recycled rubber. You just like saying ?infinite regress? don?t you?

    ?79. What are bones made out of?
    Recycled bones

    ?80. Why did God make pests like bugs and mosquitoes?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?81. Why are there joints and cracks in the earth’s crust?
    Because God hates Haitians for their practice of the dark art of voodoo.

    ?82. Why do our joints crack?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?83. Why do people believe in Evolution?
    Because they want to be harassed non-stop by idiots.

    ?84. What events caused them to become evolutionists?
    First, descent. Then modification

    ?85. How does a computer chip work?
    I?d love to tell you, but see #3.

    ?86. How is a tooth cavity formed?
    Innocently enough?an impure thought, a pair of pants that are a bit too tight, holding a pumpkin on your lap during a hayride…then the next thing you know?

    ?87. How does Novocain work?
    Who says it works?

    ?88. How does glue stick?
    More importantly, how can I pry my fingers apart?

    ?89. Is posture related to digestion? Greeks lay down to eat, we sit up.?
    You may be able to infer from my moniker that I am in fact Greek. The assertion that Greeks eat in a reclining position is absurd. We eat standing up in a bariatric chamber filled waist high with the briny blue waters of the Mediterranean. Or at least that is how Greek vampires prefer to eat.

    90. Why do we experience a feeling of fear?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?91. Why do we need to eat?
    Because otherwise dinner would just be talk, talk, talk.

    ?92. Why do some animals lay eggs and others bear babies alive?
    Despite the ritual food restrictions layed down in the Torah, God loves an Egg McMuffin.

    ?93. Why do people sometimes eat and drink a lot when they are depressed?
    I don?t honestly know. I find that when I?m feeling blue, stabbing a lot can turn my frown upside down.

    ?94. Why does ocean air seem “fresher” than city or “land” air?
    Stand on South Beach, Staten Island facing Coney Island across the Verrazano Narrows, and just try to ask that question with a straight face.

    95. Are humans mammals?
    Your lips say no. But your tits and hair say yes!

    96. Does morning, night, or the Sun control how tired we are?
    It is more complicated than that. Your energy levels are totally based on the position of your furniture in relationship to the sun. I find that if I move my furniture into a different position each morning and then back again at night, I feel tired.

    97. Why did God make birds to fly?
    Walking from the tree parked above my car to the power line positioned precisely above my freshly shampooed head just seemed too dangerous.

    ?98. Were dinosaurs alive at the same time as humans?
    One word: Yabba-dabba-doo. Or is that more than one word?

    ?99. Does a mare in foal become more ornery than one not?
    Just get your lazy ass in the car, pick up a gallon of Blue Bell mint chocolate chip, and stop bitching. Or, wait. I have a better idea. Why don?t you carry this big ass foal in your uterus. No? Your keys are on the kitchen table.

    ?100.What does an Adam’s apple do on our throat?
    Pretty much ruins the illusion that I am trying to create.

    ?101.If there were aliens, why would they visit humans?
    Crazy people in rural areas keep the kinds of things in their rectal cavities that aliens really need.

    ?102.Why do we have pimples?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?103.Where was the Garden of Eden? Is it around today?
    I heard that it is in Missouri. Somewhere near Booneville.

    ?104.Why do cats hate dogs and dogs hate cats?
    They belong to competing monotheistic traditions.

    ?105.What are aliens and are there really any in our world? see Lamentations 5:2, Eph 2:12, Heb 11:34.?
    Lamentations 5:2 reads ?Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, our homes to foreigners. The aliens want something lodged deep within the fundaments of our prophets.? There you have it.

    106.Can plants affect your growth?
    Yes, you eat them. Or you climb on them.

    ?107.How does pencil lead (graphite) stay on paper?
    Only the eraser knows.

    ?108.Why does our skin wrinkle?
    Because God loves us and wants us to love Him.

    ?109. Why does earth (dirt) crumble in your hand but is hard when you walk on it?
    Strong hands, weak feet. It runs in my family.

    ?110. Why does lead melt at a low temperature?
    It makes it easier to fashion bullets with which to convert the unbelievers.

    ?111. Why are clouds white?
    ColorSafe Tide.

    ?112. What is the difference between cold and warm blooded?
    The ability to gun down your own mother in the street.

    ?113. How can we have hot and cold water in the ocean at the same time?
    I know. It?s complete madness.

    ?114. What shape is outer space?
    It was in great shape before Lucas made Star Wars Episodes 1-3. Now space sucks.

    ?115. If people stayed in caves with no clues to day and night, how long would their daily sleeping and waking times be?
    See the answer to question #61.

  127. #127 Noir The Sable
    February 12, 2010

    …I’m sorry to get off topic here, but am I the only one who can’t stop picturing the Creationist debater as a giant talking frond of Brassica oleracea? (I mean really. Brock Lee… Broccoli… damn, his parents must’ve had a cruel sense of humor)

  128. #128 Rincewind'smuse
    February 13, 2010

    Antiochus @ #126; Bravo! Snorting out soft drink all over the keyboard in appreciation( I feel it to be a more personal touch than mere applause).

  129. #129 Usagichan
    February 13, 2010

    #126 – Those answers were truly hilarious – Almost had me (what’s the word?.. kind of reminds me of a dyslexic Antipodean painter and light entertainer… damn this failing memory). The answers were almost as funny as the questions.

  130. #130 DLC
    February 13, 2010

    I really find it incredible that so many people listen to what amounts to “and magic-man waved a magic wand and made everything” and believing it.

  131. #131 Nomad
    February 13, 2010

    I’ve wondered this before, but who on Earth thinks “what color is your brain” is a workable science project for a student?

    I mean I can only guess that these people think you do science projects by looking stuff up in books, or, dare I say it, making up your own answers. Which would explain the ever popular one about how much electricity it would take to kill a human. Although I find I can’t keep from associating that question with the fact that religious people seem more prone to support the death penalty and then that makes the whole thing even creepier.

    Nice work Antiochus, I’m impressed that you took the time to give that entire list the treatment.

  132. #132 Knockgoats
    February 13, 2010

    If we had a deity telling us of it’s omnipotence, how could we test it? Our finite minds could not conceive of necessary proof to distinguish true omnipotence from mere vast incomprehensible power. – Paul

    Could even an infinite mind (assuming such to be possible), know that it was at the top of the hierarchy of minds? After all, there are infinite hierarchies of mathematical infinities, and however you try to capture all of them by defining ways of constructing them, it seems always to be logically consistent to assume there are more, even bigger ones that you haven’t defined. OK, a rational deity would say to itself, I seem to know everything, I don’t know of anything I don’t know, but how can I be sure there’s not a higher deity laughing up its meta-infinite sleeve at my ignorant presumption?

  133. #133 Kel, OM
    February 13, 2010

    What’s even more incredible is these people who believe in a magic event by definition then turn around and accuse evolution of being a magic process. That it’s a fairy tale.

  134. #134 cnocspeireag
    February 13, 2010

    Thank you for pointing me towards Brock’s ‘article’. How do you understand the mixture of titanic ego and deep stupidity that assumes a bit of childrens’ arithmetic could overturn a well-established scientific theory?
    It’s tempting to assume mental impairment, but even Sir Fred Hoyle succumbed to something similar later in his life when he likened life to the spontaneous assembly of a passenger jet.
    How many times? Chemistry doesn’t work like that. If it did, Nylon would be rarer and more costly than fine diamonds are in the real world, and visible diamonds would not have formed at all.

  135. #135 bjorn.watland
    February 13, 2010

    While the Home School kids have their science fair, the Camp Quest kids will be going to the Science Museum. Which cause would you rather support? http://minnesota.camp-quest.org

  136. #136 Carlie
    February 13, 2010

    Antiochus Epiphanes @126 – *reads*….I…*reads more*….I think I love you.

  137. #137 IanM
    February 13, 2010

    OMG Kel. Do you suppose that’s why, when I explain my “beliefs” to Christianists, they go off gibbering, when all I’m doing is trying to convince them that the real number system doesn’t collapse because it contains inherent paradoxes and that their faith shouldn’t collapse because they believe in something that is ridiculous. I’ve never actually gotten to the “clever” points of my position, that their monotheistic deity is as real as the real numbers and that he is as “knowable” as the real numbers are countable. I know that stupidity exists… it doesn’t mean I have to believe in stupidity.

  138. #138 RickR
    February 13, 2010

    Did somebody say The Sex Pistols?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQkActP-isE

  139. #139 RickR
    February 13, 2010

    Ooops. Wrong thread. But on second thought, it works as a kind of reply to idiot creationists….

  140. #140 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 13, 2010

    Note to self: Antiochus Epiphanes for February OM.

  141. #141 Antiochus Epiphanes
    February 13, 2010

    #126, 57: Blue and red. Dammit.

  142. #142 Sara
    February 13, 2010

    #126 – Wow. Good Job. I am sure you will win. Because you clearly understand the God Loves us and he wants us to Love him. And that I suspect is the answer they want from each and every child.

    What in the name of noodley one could they possibly be referring to by saying Greeks eat in a reclining position.
    I am at a loss.
    Someone enlighten me.

  143. #143 'Tis Himself, OM
    February 13, 2010

    Sara #142

    What in the name of noodley one could they possibly be referring to by saying Greeks eat in a reclining position.

    Probably they were thinking of Roman banquets where everyone ate sprawled on a couch. Why Greeks instead of Romans? You ask? Silly person, if creationists can’t tell the difference between billions of years and thousands of years, do you expect them to know the difference between Romans and Greeks?

  144. #144 Sven DiMilo
    February 13, 2010

    Your lips say no. But your tits and hair say yes!

    *writes on palm of hand*

    The whole thing is epic, AE, epic.

  145. #145 IanM
    February 13, 2010

    …God Loves us and he wants us to Love him.
    God does come off as a bit clingy, when you think of it. Lonely too. Sad. And we are such a disappointment. Better than the dinosaurs, though. All they ever did was eat each other and go extinct.

  146. #146 Peter H
    February 13, 2010

    @ #126

    The very first time I ever stayed with a post over 300 words, and loved every bit of it.

    Some of those questions(?) projects(?) are so loopy that it’s difficult to comprehend that someone – actually, it seems, a lot of someones – give that sort of drivel any honest(?) credence.

  147. #147 daveau
    February 14, 2010

    Antiochus Epiphanes @126

    That is a special kind of obsession that I admire very much.

  148. #148 rory-roybal.myopenid.com
    February 15, 2010

    Many have been told evolution is science and creation is religion, but this is false. Neither are science, since both views are not observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable as required for proof by the scientific method. Since both views require faith to believe, they are both philosophies or religions, but do not meet the qualifications for true science. See an interesting comparison of these views here.

  149. #149 Rorschach
    February 15, 2010

    lying kook @ 148,

    Neither are science, since both views are not observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable as required for proof by the scientific method

    Lenski

    Please do inform yourself before you post rubbish on the internet.

  150. #150 John Morales
    February 15, 2010

    rory-roybal, many tell many things, and some who tell also know that almost every single scientist will tell you evolutionary science is, in fact, science and religion is, in fact, religion though they tell you otherwise.

    Disputing that science is, in fact, science is not very convincing, never mind the way you did it by naked assertion.

    You should have the decency to clothe your assertions with a suitable justification.

    See an interesting comparison of these views here.

    No.

  151. #151 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    Many have been told evolution is science and creation is religion, but this is false.

    Nope, they are both true. And it’s not because “I’ve been told”, it’s because evolution is evidentially science and creation is evidentially religious.

    Neither are science, since both views are not observable, testable, repeatable, or falsifiable as required for proof by the scientific method.

    Wrong, for so many reasons. Evolution is science, while creation isn’t. Evolution is observable and has been observed many times both in the field and in the lab. As for testable, evolution is tested every time a new fact about biology is found. Every time a new genome is sequenced, every time a new fossil is found, every time a new life form is discovered – each time evolution has a chance to be falsified, but it has not been falsified by a single experiment or piece of data in the last 150 years. Repeatable? Just look at the AIDS medication. Or you can look at the state of violet opsin genes in nocturnal creatures and cavefish – or smell genes on mammals with trichromatic vision. And falsifiable? You’re damn right evolution is falsifiable. Show mammals in the precambrian or birds in the devonian.

    Since both views require faith to believe

    Well creation demands faith, but you don’t see evolutionary biologists appealing to faith. Normally they seem to say “just look at the evidence”. And there’s plenty of evidence to look at, it only requires faith in the same sense that gravity requires faith.

    they are both philosophies or religions

    Non-sequitur. Would a religion centred around gravity have any bearing on the truth of gravity? Not at all. Even if evolution were a religion (it’s not, it’s a science) it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to the truth of the claims. Just go look at the evidence for yourself – look at the feathered dinosaurs and dinobirds. Look at the marsupials and monotremes of Australia. Look at the nylon-eating bacteria. Look at the similarities between us and chimpanzees. The evidence for evolution is all around you, if you’ve been told otherwise then you have been lied to.

    Advice for the future, if you’re going to post online then it helps to actually know something about a topic. Your personal ignorance is no substitute for an argument, and when you come onto a science blog don’t you think that the people who frequent here might actually know something about science? Be intellectually honest, actually read about the topic before you talk on it.

    Imagine if I said to you “Christianity is wrong because Jesus riding into Salt Lake City on a unicorn is absurd”. How would you take such a comment? That I was completely ignorant on the matter? Because that’s what you sound like here, you don’t even have the faintest clue what you’re talking about, just posting the same creationist rhetoric that someone does at least once a week.

    Please do everyone here and yourself a favour, learn about evolution before you post. Because if you disagree that evolution happened, then the least you can do is represent what you’re arguing against fairly. Personally I recommend the following two books: Why Evolution IS True by Jerry Coyne, and Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. Both excellent reads, and both informative about what you’re arguing against. The least you could do is actually learn the topic you profess to dismiss, it’s the only honest thing to do (and it saves you from embarrassment at posting something that shows your ignorance to a wide group of people)

  152. #152 Kel, OM
    February 15, 2010

    Just remember, the less you know on a topic, the more likely you’re going to overstate your abilities. It’s called the Dunning Kruger effect.

  153. #153 See Nick Overlook
    February 19, 2010

    So did anyone actually make it over to the HarMar mall to see the creation science fair? How was it?