An honest creationist?

It’s nice to know there’s at least one honest creationist left. Or at least, partly honest. And he lives in Georgia.

Educators across the country are now developing what’s called the “next generation of science standards.”

A member of the Villa Rica Church of Christ told Channel 2’s Diana Davis evolution should not be a part of those standards…

[Church member Bob] Staples and his church are fighting for schools to include another view… Staples told Davis he believes in the literal meaning of the Bible: That god created heaven and Earth.  Although, he says, he does not expect public schools to teach the bible’s view of creationism.

None of this namby-pamby “teach the controversy” stuff. He wants evolution out and creationism in. He doesn’t expect to get what he wants, but he’s telling the plain and simple truth about his goals. Rather refreshing in a way.
[Read more...]

Worldview vs scientific literacy

A new study in Nature finds that, contrary to what you might expect, a person’s level of scientific literacy is not the best predictor for how likely they are to be concerned over the risk of climate change. Instead, the best predictor for a person’s concern over climate change is the hypothesis that

…people who subscribe to a hierarchical, individualistic world-view—one that ties authority to conspicuous social rankings and eschews collective interference with the decisions of individuals possessing such authority—tend to be sceptical of environmental risks. Such people intuitively perceive that widespread acceptance of such risks would license restrictions on commerce and industry, forms of behaviour that hierarchical individualists value. In contrast, people who hold an egalitarian, communitarian world-view—one favouring less regimented forms of social organization and greater collective attention to individual needs—tend to be morally suspicious of commerce and industry, to which they attribute social inequity. They therefore find it congenial to believe those forms of behaviour are dangerous and worthy of restriction

[Read more...]

Second-degree terrorism

Over at Pharyngula, PZ has a nice wrap-up of the debate between Bruce Schneier and Sam Harris on the topic of whether or not we ought to implement a 2-tiered screening system that subjects “Muslims or anyone who looks Muslim” to extra scrutiny at airports. Bruce points out some very good reasons why this is a bad idea, but there’s one somewhat tangential argument that he doesn’t mention. The biggest problem with screening for Muslims at the airport is that some of our biggest terrorists aren’t at the airport. They’re in the media, in Congress, and in the White House.

Of course, I’m not talking about first-degree terrorism, i.e. blowing things up and killing people directly. I’m talking about second-degree terrorism: keeping people in a constant state of fear in order to manipulate them. We’ve had going on 12 years of being told that we need to voluntarily surrender our liberties and constitutional rights because—gasp—there’s bad guys out there. And yes, there are, but there always have been. Our problem isn’t the terrorism that attacks us with bombs and guns, our problem is the terrorism that attacks us with legislation and unwarranted spying and other clandestine, illegal activities hidden behind the autocratic dictum of “state secrets.”

Bruce summed it up well:

But perhaps most importantly, we should refuse to be terrorized. Terrorism isn’t really a crime against people or property; it’s a crime against our minds. If we are terrorized, then the terrorists win even if their plots fail. If we refuse to be terrorized, then the terrorists lose even if their plots succeed.

Unless and until we stand up and refuse to be terrorized, unless and until we stop cowering and bleating like sheep every time a politician or media personality cries “security!”, these abuses of our liberty will continue to get worse. “Maximum security” is a prison, not a Utopia.

Missouri votes on redundant First Amendment amendment

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the voters in the state of Missouri will be voting this fall on a proposed amendment to the state constitution protecting the right to pray in public places.

While the U.S. Constitution protects the right to pray in public places, supporters of the Missouri ballot issue want to clarify those rights. In House committee testimony last year, they said there is increasing ignorance about religious expression. Opponents testified that the amendment adds nothing to existing law and may invite litigation.

Here Fido, here boy, who’s a good doggie then? Now roll over.

[Read more...]

The joblords

In some parts of the world, the government is relatively weak, and the real power lies in the hands of the warlords. I think we’re rapidly approaching a similar situation in the United States, at least economically: the government is relatively weak financially, and the real power is being concentrated in the hands of the joblords. Sure, they prefer to be called “job creators,” and they pay people to call them that on TV, but seriously, how many jobs have they been creating lately? They’re not job creators, they’re joblords, holding the rest of the country hostage to their demands, and threatening to withhold jobs, or even downsize, if the legislature does not crank out policies more favorable to the joblords increasing financial and political power.

A while ago my son and I were talking politics and he said an interesting thing. I forget his exact words, but they were something like this: our Founding Fathers made a very wise decision when they wrote the separation of church and state into the Constitution. Now we need someone to figure out how to do the same thing for the separation of business and state.

 

Morality or tyranny?

PZ Myers has a post up about the old “objective morality” gambit popular with Chrislamic apologists these days. It seems a couple of Christian debaters managed to derail the debate by asking “is there an objective morality that determines whether you would torture a toddler?” PZ gives four pretty good criteria by way of answering that question in the affirmative, so I’ll let him cover that aspect of the issue. Meanwhile, I’m going to turn that question around and ask, “Is there an objective morality by which we can judge whether God’s commands are right or wrong?”

[Read more...]

Orthodox Jews vs the Internet

So, you heard about the tens of thousands of Jews attending a rally last Sunday to look at the “problem” of the Internet? Tens of thousands of Jewish men, I should say.

The organizers had allowed only men to buy tickets, in keeping with ultra-Orthodox tradition of separating the sexes. Viewing parties had been arranged in Orthodox neighborhoods of Brooklyn and New Jersey so that women could watch, too.

via NYTimes.com.

You might think that the Internet is a good thing, and that there’s not really a problem. But then, you probably aren’t trying to sell net filtering software to tens of thousands of Jewish men.

The rally in Citi Field on Sunday was sponsored by a rabbinical group, Ichud Hakehillos Letohar Hamachane, that is linked to a software company that sells Internet filtering software to Orthodox Jews. Those in attendance were handed fliers that advertised services like a “kosher GPS App” for iPhone and Android phones, which helps users locate synagogues and kosher restaurants.

God and Mammon, together again.

My new favorite religion

For some reason I don’t seem to attract the kind of crank email that, say, PZ Myers gets, but now and then I stumble across a bit of good material. It happened to me this weekend: I was in the store buying vitamins, and noticed that someone had discretely slipped a copy of “Prophetic Observer” into one of the displays. (Talk about a bold witness, eh?) Published by Southwest Radio Ministries and the Southwest Radio Church of the Air, this was a full tabloid-sized four-page newsletter containing a single article: “Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?” by Noah W. Hutchings. And man, it brings the crazy.

[Read more...]

Sarcastic?

Just to follow up on yesterday’s post, I’ve had some objections along the lines of the idea that theism is wrong and therefore we should not express (or seem to express) our support of it, even to make a point. But isn’t that what sarcasm is? Expressing an idea you do not support, in order to make a point?

[Read more...]