Hustling the Gospel

Writing for the Huffington Post, Pastor Rick Henderson explains Why There Is No Such Thing as a Good Atheist.

While it is true that there is no definitive atheistic worldview, all atheists share the same fundamental beliefs as core to their personal worldviews. While some want to state that atheism is simply a disbelief in the existence of a god, there really is more to it. Every expression of atheism necessitates at least three additional affirmations…

What follows is another one of those arguments where morality is supposed to come from God, and therefore without God there can be no good or evil, and therefore atheists can’t be “good” because they’ve denied the existence of good and evil. What’s interesting is the way Pastor Rick introduces this particular scam.

For those of you who are eager to pierce me with your wit and crush my pre-modern mind, allow me to issue a challenge. I contend that any response you make will only prove my case. Like encountering a hustler on the streets of Vegas, the deck is stacked, and the odds are not in your favor.

The atheist is talking with the pastor, but he’s being hustled, because the pastor has stacked the deck. I’ve seen believers pull this particular hustle before, but Pastor Rick is the first one to openly admit he’s using dishonest tactics to achieve his goal. But let’s lay all our cards on the table and check out his “three additional affirmations” and then see who deserves to win this particular hand.

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Public schools “terrified” of creationism

Writing for the “Communities” section of the Washington Times, one Frank Kacer asks, Why are public schools terrified of examining evolution & creation?

If evolution is true, there’s a simple way for public schools to destroy any student’s belief in creation. Simply test each theory objectively in science classes using the scientific method. Instead, irrational lawsuits, court orders and fears of anything hinting of Christianity have become the weapons of choice to prevent use of objective science.

So, what are public schools really afraid of?

One wonders exactly who Mr Kacer believes the public schools are suing. If he stopped for a moment and remembered that the public schools are the ones being sued for First Amendment violations, he’d know that it’s only the creationists in public schools who are afraid right now. And if they’re not, then the school district is going to get taken to court and ordered to obey the law.

But despite his garbled grasp of the relevant facts, I think he has the germ of a good idea. Creationism has benefited a great deal from its special, protected status as a religious account of origins. I think we should teach the controversy and let public schools teach kids exactly why Genesis is a myth. If Mr Kacer and other creationists really want a head-to-head confrontation over the scientific study of origins, let’s take them up on it. [Read more…]


I said it again the other day, but then I had second thoughts. “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion,” I said, but is that really true? Have you ever thought about the full range of opinions we’re implicitly endorsing by saying everyone is entitled to believe whatever they believe?

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Defining superstition

One of the problems we frequently encounter when discussing religion (especially in the context of science) is that a lot of people have a hazy understanding of what superstition is. They think superstition means “silly things other people believe,” and if we describe any of their beliefs as superstition, they think we’re merely insulting their beliefs without making any substantive criticism. This in turn allows them to get away with a lot of superstitious thinking, at least in their own estimation.

For that reason, I’m always on the lookout for a nice concise, comprehensive definition of what superstition actually is, so that we can share it with people and say, “This is why I describe your belief as a superstition.” So far, the definition I like best is this one:

Superstition is when you arbitrarily associate some particular effect with some particular cause in the absence of any plausible or verifiable, non-magical connection between them.

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Seems like creationism, and specifically young-earth creationism, is poking its head up once again in the wake of Rubio’s uninformed comments regarding what we know about the age of the earth. As Ed Brayton reports, both Bryan Fischer and Joseph Farah have recently argued that no one knows how old the earth really is because none of us were there when it was first created. God is the only eyewitness, they claim, and therefore we should just take His Word for it.

Well, Bryan and Joe, I hate to disagree with you, but if you take Genesis literally, then God is not the only eyewitness. I’ll grant you there’s no human alive today who was around at the origin of the earth. But if you read Genesis 1, you’ll find that God created the heavens on the same day He created the earth. And we’re all eyewitnesses to the (non-)creation of the universe.

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AiG’s outreach to atheists

I actually got this off a friend, but it’s kind of fun. You know how Answers In Genesis likes to target most of their material at weak and wavering Christians (especially if they have too much cash on their hands)? Well, now they’re extending that same hand of duplicity fellowship to atheists as well, in the form of a post entitled “Dear Atheists,” by Bodie Hodge. And believe me, it’s everything you’d expect from a ministry like AiG.

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Good news from Kansas reports more good election results:

Democrat Carolyn Campbell of Topeka won a second, four-year term on the State Board of Education in Tuesday’s election in the 4th District of northeast Kansas. She defeated Republican Jack Wu of Topeka.

Jack Wu moved from California to Kansas to attend the Westboro Baptist Church, and was running for the school board on an “I hate evolution” platform. Apparently Westboro’s famous “God hates America” stand doesn’t play too well in Kansas these days.

Ah, here we go

This is some news I’ve been expecting for a long time.

A former computer specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was not dismissed because he advocated his belief in intelligent design while at work, a Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled.

Judge Ernest Hiroshige said Thursday he is leaning in favor of JPL’s argument that David Coppedge instead was let go because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp.

Hiroshige, who presided over the lawsuit’s trial in April, ordered a final ruling to that effect be drawn up and distributed within 30 days.

Coppedge, as you may recall, is the JPL sysadmin who hounded his co-workers with Discovery Institute DVD’s and then submitted a legal brief that sounded like the script for Dark Helmet playing with his dolls. The only surprising thing about this decision is that it took so long to reach it.

The point of viability

The day job is getting a bit intense right now so I only have time for a quick post. I’d like to address a comment made by NotAnAtheist on yesterday’s post. (The bold text is an excerpt from my post, to which NotAnAtheist is responding.)

The earliest point at which it makes sense to draw a legal line would be viability—the point where the child is formed enough to survive on its own outside the womb. At that point, if the woman wishes to terminate her pregnancy, then she can do so without killing the child, and nobody’s rights need be violated.

Well, that’s only true if the fetus is a “nobody” up until viability then afterwards its now suddenly a person, a “somebody” with rights to be violated. It can’t be both ways. If you say that before a certain point, you are certain that “nobody’s” rights are being violated and afterwards you declare abortion to be wrong, then you are drawing a line at viability.

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New study shows measurable bias against women in science

Inside Higher Ed. has an article about a new study that betrays the existence of a not-so-subtle bias against females in the sciences. The study involved sending hypothetical student resumes to scientists to evaluate as potential new hires. Qualifications were identical except that half the resumes listed a female name, and the other half listed a male name. The results were anything but equal.

For instance, the scientists were asked to rate the students’ competence on a 5-point scale. Male faculty rated the male student 4.01 and the female student 3.33. Female scientists rated the male student 4.10 and the female student 3.32. On salary, the gaps were also notable. The average salary suggested by male scientists for the male student was $30,520; for the female student, it was $27,111. Female scientists recommended, on average, a salary of $29,333 for the male student and $25,000 for the female student.

I wonder what Christina Hoff Sommers will say?