Word of the day

Just been reading some of the reviews and comments about the Nye/Ham debate, and I’ve come to the conclusion our vocabulary needs a new word to adequately describe some of what we’re getting from the anti-science side. And that word is….

regurgibate (ree-GUR-ji-bate) v. To take an obscene delight in spewing or spitting up whatever one has been fed, undigested. “Though normally easy to talk to, he can’t defend Genesis without regurgibating creationist tropes that have been debunked time and time again.”

I hereby release this word into the public domain, in hopes that it will prove useful.

“Liberty means not allowing freedom”—Nuns

What does liberty mean to you? Normally, we associate liberty with freedom, i.e. the absence of people telling us, “You’re not allowed to do that.” But the Little Sisters of the Poor have a definition of liberty that seems to be the exact opposite. And they’re suing the government for the right to impose this “liberty” on their employees. The NPR web site reports:

The Justice Department has argued that the nuns’ group is already exempt from providing birth control under the ACA, as long as it certifies its standing as a religious nonprofit. But the Little Sisters of the Poor, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that documentation simply condones employees getting the coverage elsewhere.

“The sisters, under the new Health and Human Services mandate, are being forced by the government to either sign a form allowing a third party to provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs to their employees, or they’re being threatened with fines,” says Becket Fund director Kristina Arriaga.

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Why is Bill Nye fund-raising for creationism?

A lot of people are excited about the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at the Creation Museum in February. Some think Bill will be completely unprepared for standard creationist debate tactics, others think he’ll mop the floor with Ham. To me, that’s not the issue. The important thing to me (and probably to Ham) is that no matter how the debate goes, the fact that it happens at all is going to be a huge revenue stream for AnswersInGenesis.org. I’m sure if he loses, Ham will cry all the way to the bank.

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Speaking of moot

In May of 2012, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the Illinois ban on same-sex marriage. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois, the Thomas More Society, representing the defendents, filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed as moot. The response from the ACLU and Lambda Legal was predictably reasonable: they also filed a motion to have the suit dismissed as moot, since there was no longer any problem requiring a remedy. But even though the Thomas More Society was happy with this outcome, their response shows a certain failure to recognize what “moot” really means.

“We’re pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal agree with us that their lawsuits are now moot and thus should be dismissed,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Because the concerns of people of faith were ignored by the Illinois General Assembly when it redefined marriage under state law, we now turn our attention to the protection of the religious liberty rights of Illinoisans who object to being forced to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies.”

They’re pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal will not pursue remedies to a problem that no longer exists, and that means the Society is now free to pursue remedies to a problem that never has existed, does not exist now, and never will exist. Good job, guys.

Homophobe? Anti-gay? None of the above?

Writing in The Atlantic, Brandon Ambrosino has some serious misgivings about broad-brushing opponents of marriage equality and defining them all as homophobic and anti-gay.

As a gay man, I found myself disappointed with this definition—that anyone with any sort of moral reservations about gay marriage is by definition anti-gay. If Raushenbush is right, then that means my parents are anti-gay, many of my religious friends (of all faiths) are anti-gay, the Pope is anti-gay, and—yes, we’ll go here—first-century, Jewish theologian Jesus is anti-gay. That’s despite the fact that while some religious people don’t support gay marriage in a sacramental sense, many of them are in favor of same-sex civil unions and full rights for the parties involved. To be sure, most gay people, myself included, won’t be satisfied until our loving, monogamous relationships are graced with the word “marriage.” But it’s important to recall that many religious individuals do support strong civil rights for the gay members of their communities.

It’s a longish piece which he obviously put a lot of thought into, and he makes some points worthy of consideration. On the other hand, he also published an earlier article in The Atlantic, entitled “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University,” and I can’t help but wonder how much his thinking is colored by whatever background led him to Lib U in the first place.

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Senator seeks to “protect” churches

Oh, hey, there’s a cute story in TheBlaze.com.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) plans to introduce a bill Wednesday that would prevent the Obama administration from pressuring churches into recognizing gay marriage.

Yes, it’s very important to “protect” churches from having the president violate the First Amendment in ways he has no intention of doing. And while we’re passing frivolous, grandstanding laws, why not also pass a law protecting women and babies from Republican cannibalism? Yes, I know that doesn’t exist either, but you do oppose allowing Republicans to commit cannibalism right? If we’re going to protect things that aren’t in any danger, let’s at least be comprehensive.

What happens when God is wrong?

Pastor Rick Warren recently appeared on Piers Morgan’s show and discussed his stand on gay marriage.

Warren claimed that he believes in equality, but admitted he cannot support same-sex marriage because, he said, “I don’t get to change what God says.”

I’ve pulled out just this one quote because I think it exemplifies one of the most fundamental and unresolvable problems with religions like Christianity. They’re based on “revealed” authority, the idea that “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” You never have to learn anything new or adapt to anything that changes, because nothing is allowed to change. Once God speaks, that’s the way things are and must be, always and forever after.

But what happens when God is wrong?

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American Bible Society Sends 525 ‘Poverty and Justice’ Bibles to Congress Following Government Shutdown

The Christian Post reports that a bunch of believers are trying to meddle in politics again.

Fulfilling a promise they made during the government shutdown, members of the anti-poverty coalition “Circle of Protection,” are delivering 535 “Poverty and Justice” Bibles into the hands of senators and representatives this week.

Over the course of the 16-day-long government shutdown last month, members of the 65 denominations and relief and development agencies composing the coalition, publicly read the nearly 2,100 Bible verses pertaining to poverty and justice and vowed to reinforce the Scripture’s messages to their Congressmen and women.

Goddamn liberal Christians and their goddamn liberal Bible, always trying to shove that socialist “care for widows, orphans and the poor” religion down everyone’s throat, eh? It’s just not American. And I don’t care how many thousands of Bible verses preach it. It’s downright humanism. Haven’t they heard that whoever has the gold makes the rules?

Faith-based global warming insurance

One of the consequences of global warming is an increase in the number and severity of major storms such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and blizzards. Forgive me for indulging in a bit of rational thought, but since religious conservatives are among the most vocal deniers of climate change, wouldn’t it be nice if we could tax churches to raise funds for federal disaster relief to pay for repairs in the aftermath of such “acts of God”? Base the tax rate on the total damage done by storms, and grant an exemption to any church willing to sign a waiver stating that their god has no control over the weather and thus should not be held accountable for the resulting damages. If believers want lower taxes, they either get their god to do a better job managing the weather, or they sign the waiver.

Yeah, dumb idea. But still…

Kentucky City to help defraud gullible investors

As PZ Myers reported a little while ago, the latest scam from Answers In Genesis is to sell junk bonds to gullible investors—bonds that AiG has no binding obligation to ever pay back. Classic sucker bait, right? Anybody who knows anything at all about investing is going to steer clear of the giant red flags all over this investment.

But there’s a new twist in this sweet little con game. Everyone knows that government bonds are a much more sound investment than ordinary junk bonds. So why not sell your junk bonds through some government office, in order to trick people into thinking they’re getting government bonds instead of junk bonds? Ken Ham apparently has enough inside influence to make it happen.

A city in Kentucky may soon offer $62 million in securities for prospective investors to help aid the completion of a Creationist theme park and replica of Noah’s Ark.

Beginning next month, Williamstown may oversee the amount of taxable securities for investors to the project overseen by Answers in Genesis, reported Brian Chappatta and Priya Anand of Business Week.

Yes, for a mere $100,000 dollars, you too can purchase a “lifetime family pass,” allowing you to enjoy a full day of overcooked french fries and half-baked mythology for as long as the park remains profitable. And if it never does return a profit, AiG gets to keep all of your money, absolutely free.

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