Questionable Motives

February 28, 2010

A creationist that admits evolution is true?

Filed under: creationism,Evolution,Religion,Science,Truth — tildeb @ 3:34 pm

From Todd Wood’s blog post, bold included:

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.

I say these things not because I’m crazy or because I’ve “converted” to evolution. I say these things because they are true.

If only he had left it there, but alas.

Todd is clear about one thing: although he recognizes what is true, he chooses to believe that it is not ultimately true.  I’m not quite sure how something true cannot be true – ultimately or otherwise – but cognitive dissonance hasn’t slowed down many intelligent believers yet and I suspect it won’t start anytime soon. Believing that something is and is not comes with the territory of holding fast to religious faith. But at least such an admission about evolution from a creationist is a significant step up in the intellectual integrity ladder. It’s a start.

Tip to Panda’s Thumb under the heading Creationism really is a science stopper. Enjoy the comments.

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Are we surprised?

From Radio Netherlands comes this peek into the RC church and its claim that it holds the moral high ground:

Amid the high-profile child sexual abuse scandals in the United States and other European countries, the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands has remained unsullied. But a joint investigation by Radio Netherlands Worldwide and NRC Handelsblad reveals that this is unjustified.

And imagine this:

Two years ago, dissatisfied with the attitude taken by the Dutch bishops, Yvo van Kuijck, now vice-president of the District Court in Arnhem, resigned along with the entire Assessment and Advisory Committee. Priests guilty of abuse in one parish were simply transferred to another parish where they were free to find new victims. “Not only is that unprofessional, it’s inconceivable.”

Inconceivable? Really? After the “Crimen Solicitations” document was made public?

Hardly.

It would be inconceivable if the sexual assaults and rapes of children did NOT continue with such officially sanctioned protections from the pope himself solidly entrenched in the policies and procedures for the abusers.

This story isn’t surprising; it shows that as far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned , it’s just business as usual.

February 27, 2010

The Templeton Foundation: How to bring science and religion togther?

Filed under: belief,Science,Templeton — tildeb @ 7:51 pm

By bribing one writer at a time, silly, like the ‘science’ writer Chris Mooney!

Excerpts from WEIT (and don’t forget to check out the comments):

So you’re an organization whose mission is to blur the lines between faith and science, and you have huge wads of cash to do this.  What’s the best strategy?

The Temple Foundation is wily, but they’re not exactly honest.  Look at this:

After decades during which leading voices from science and religion viewed each other with suspicion and little sense of how the two areas might relate, recent years have brought an active pursuit of understanding how science may deepen theological awareness, for example, or how religious traditions might illuminate the scientific realm.  Fellowship organizers note that rigorous journalistic examination of the region where science and theology overlap – as well as understanding the reasoning of many who assert the two disciplines are without common ground – can effectively promote a deeper understanding of the emerging dialogue.

Now if you’re interested in seeing how science and religion “illuminate” one another, what’s the first thing you think of?  How about this:  is there any empirical truth in the claims of faith? After all, if you’re trying to “reconcile” two areas of thought, and look at their interactions, surely you’d be interested if there’s any empirical truth in them.  After all, why “reconcile” two areas if one of them might be only baseless superstition?  Is the evidence for God as strong as it is for evolution? Does the “fine-tuning” of physical constants prove Jesus?  Was the evolution of humans inevitable, thereby showing that we were part of God’s plan?

These journalism fellowships are nothing more than a bribe—a bribe to get journalists to favor a certain point of view.  The Foundation’s success at recruiting reputable candidates proves one thing: it doesn’t cost much to buy a journalist’s integrity.  Fifteen thousand bucks, a “book allowance,” and a fancy title will do it.

February 26, 2010

Wahhabi morality: what can we learn from religious belief?

Filed under: Education,Faith,Fatwa,Human Rights,Islam,Morality,Religion,Secularism — tildeb @ 4:12 pm

Well, we can learn that it is right and proper to murder people for creating an inclusive classroom that dares to allow the mixing of male and female students. Now there’s a fine example of divinely inspired morality from which we learn what is right and what is wrong. Also, let us be grateful that the religion of peace brings us another reminder about the true source of immorality, namely, secular education and the apostasy it promotes. From Quilliam:

Yesterday, a leading hardline Wahhabi cleric issued a fatwa in which he orders the killing of Muslims who allow the sexes to mix freely in the workplace or in educational institutions. The prominent Saudi cleric, Abd al-Rahman al-Barrak (1), who is highly reputed within the Saudi religious establishment, issued the fatwa in Arabic on his website:

‘And whoever permits this mixing  – and if it leads to these impermissible things – has permitted these forbidden acts, which means that he becomes an apostate, so he should be made aware of his mistakes and given a chance to repent or else it is obligatory to kill him’.
This fatwa comes in the wake of strong opposition from the hardline Saudi religious establishment to the opening of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology – the first academic institution in Saudi Arabia that is not gender-segregated.

The lesson? You may not want to kill in the name of god, but a good muslim is obligated. The test will be at a later date.

February 25, 2010

The religious: biased towards paranoia?

Filed under: belief,Biology,Evolution,Religion,Science — tildeb @ 4:10 pm

Apparently so. And less intelligent. And less liberal. And less sexually exclusive.

Who knew?

Religion is a byproduct of humans’ tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see “the hands of God” at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. “Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid,” says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. “So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists.”

Read the rest of this fascinating study and its conclusions over at Physorg.

What drives evolution? Physical environment or species interaction?

Filed under: Evolution,Science — tildeb @ 3:39 pm

The question is important to determine whether changes in the physical environment is primarily responsible for evolution or the interactions between species. What might we do to better inform these positions? Michael Brockhurst and Steve Patersonbile have come up with a really interesting experiment based on blocking adaptation to what happens:

It’s a question that has plagued biologists ever since Darwin first proposed his theory of natural selection in ‘On the Origin of Species’, and now researchers part-funded by the Wellcome Trust may have found some clues – from the bacterial kingdom and the viruses that infect them.

When pairs of species have opposing needs – for instance a host and its virus parasite – they can become locked in an arms race, where an adaptation that improves the chances of one’s survival is necessarily detrimental to the other. The other has to evolve a counter-attack just to keep up. And so forms the basis of the ‘Red Queen Hypothesis’, named after Lewis Carroll’s character from ‘Through the Looking-glass’ who explains to Alice: “here, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

This week in the journal ‘Nature’, a team led by Michael Brockhurst and Steve Paterson from the University of Liverpool provide the first experimental evidence that the Red Queen Hypothesis holds true. Using viruses known as phages that replicate by infecting and killing bacteria, they were able to observe hundreds of generations of evolution in action.

“Together, our findings suggest that it is the interactions between species that are the main drivers of evolution. And by causing rapid divergence, they could even lead to speciation itself.”

This is good science. Read the rest of the article over at WellcomeTrust.

February 24, 2010

Anti-choice advocates: why is it all right to allow the female incubator to die?

Filed under: abortion — tildeb @ 5:59 pm

Read it and weep:

Amalia (an alias), a 27-year old Nicaraguan woman with a 10-year-old daughter, has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer. She is in the hospital and could be treated, but for one thing.

She is also pregnant.

And therefore, under the law in Nicaragua, her life is meaningless.

Amalia–a person, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother–may soon become one of those statistics we all bat around from the safety of our computers to talk about abortion and maternal death.

First diagnosed with cancer many years ago, Amalia was treated and went into remission.  She moved on and lived her life.  She had a daughter, now 10 years old, for whom she wants to stay alive.

In the first week of January, she was hospitalized and after testing was diagnosed with metastatic cancer for which her doctor stated aggressive chemotherapy and radiation would be needed to save her life.

However, because the chemotherapy might affect or lead to the death of the fetus, no doctor will treat her because they fear the consequences of a law that leads to imprisonment for doctors who even deign to think that women like Amalia–merely an incubator under Nicaraguan law–have the right to be treated as aggressively as they would a man.

February 23, 2010

Religious Education: Isn’t that an oxymoron?

It most assuredly is in England and Wales, where a third of all schools are faith-based but state funded. To add insult to this travesty of a public policy – one that directly undermines the principle of a common education for all children regardless of their parent’s superstitions, bigotry, and gullibility – the catholic church will receive a special exemption from having to teach any parts of the public curriculum that in any way conflicts with their “religious character.” From the Guardian:

It was a source of relief when, rather than receiving the extensive opt-outs that many feared, the bill introducing compulsory sex and relationships education (SRE) for all children, made it clear that state-funded “faith schools” would have to follow the same principles as all other state-funded schools. By those of us who had feared much worse, these general principles – though not perfect – were considered an acceptable minimum.

Now, with parliament on holiday and late in the day, Ed Balls has tabled an amendment to his own bill, which would exempt state funded faith schools from even the modest requirements that it currently proposes to place on them and the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales have proudly announced that it was their lobbying that won it. We should not be surprised. This is just the latest in a 12-year catalogue of concessions and exemptions made to state-funded faith schools, from a widening of their ability to discriminate on employment, to their continuing discriminatory admissions practices.

The most shameful consequence of the amendment is that it would shift the focus of the law as it applies to faith schools away from the needs of children, towards the religious prejudices of the school, as if this is what the law should really be protecting. Who is education supposed to benefit – the child or the church?

Obviously, the church. And isn’t that a sad state of affairs? Parents who support this exemption out of some sense of loyalty to their religious beliefs above and beyond the education of their children are selfish abject fools. Unfortunately, it is their children who, with no say in the matter, will pay the price. When an organization presents educational ignorance as a virtue, we should recognize that as a clue that something is not quite right. And what is not quite right is simple: religious belief and an informed education are polar opposites.

How well does theism translate into peace?

Filed under: belief,Peace,Religion,Society — tildeb @ 3:23 pm

Correlation is not causation, but it might be worth thinking about.

Tip to onegoodmove

February 22, 2010

Is hell real and everlasting?

According to the pope it is.

Yup, the central message of christianity is that it’s all about god ‘s love. With visions of eternal torment haunting your ‘free’ choice if you make the wrong one, can you feel the love?

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