Can you believe this is still going on?

This last Tuesday, I found myself once again in Austin taking part in the media circus and associated freak show that is the creation/evolution debate still being presented before the heavily-creationist state board of education.

People living outside the US may find it difficult to believe that this debate is still going on, that it is even possible for someone to have legitimate science degrees and still believe in the fables in the Bible. They may find it difficult to believe that one may claim as “current science” claims that were proven fraudulent in a court of law a decade ago.  Welcome to the madness that is Texas education.

While there were many cameras there initially, the only cameras to record this entire event were mine the one belonging to the National Center for Science Education.

How bad it is on Texas’ textbook review board

These are some of the most notable nominees on the Texas textbook review board:

Walter Bradley was an engineer who coauthored a book, The Mystery of Life’s Origins, which essentially launched the “intelligent design” movement. He and Raymond Bohlin of Probe Ministries are both associated fellows of the Discovery Institute. Another engineer, Richard White, and David Zeiger who teaches in a private Christian school, and Ide Trotter, spokesman for the grossly-misnamed creationist group, ‘Texans for Better Science Education’ -all advocate teaching scientifically discredited “weaknesses” of evolution in Texas science classrooms.

In addition to these, we also have board member, Ken Mercer, who argues that morphology and biochemistry somehow represent two different discordant trees rather than one twin-nested hierarchy. Then there’s board chairman Barbara Cargill who was called out for trying to influence specific changes outside her charge or ethical boundaries.

I can hardly imagine a less appropriate panel to govern over the standards of science education.

What [secular] Women Want

Feminatheist Sheila Blackadder, (formerly on the EB of the Secular Party of America) Courtney Caldwell (cultofcourtney) and Ashley Paramore (HealthyAddict) formerly of the Secular Student Alliance- join Lilandra and Shannon Nebo, (and myself as well) to discuss ‘what women want’ with regard to the secular movement. No spoilers, but tonight’s topic will include controversial conflicts and confrontations.

The discussion will stream live to the n0nes‘ YouTube channel at 8:30pm central (Texas) time. If you want to join the conversation, message the n0nes’ facebook with your Google Hangout info.

 

 

DPR Jones’ live streaming charity for Doctors w/o Borders on tonight!

For the last few years, my friend, DPR Jones has been running an annual charity telethon benefiting Medecins sans frontières, also known as Doctors without Borders.  It is normally a 24-hour event with guest hosts taking turns running the show from all over the world.  It has also been (I think) the largest virtual gathering of atheists in that many of the world’s best known champions of freethought have participated in the show, and it’s generally a good time.

It’s always been in September until now. The full 24-hour show had to be moved to November this year, and I will promote that one more as the time draws near, but there will still be an eight hour show on tonight, (midnight British Summer Time, 6:00pm central).

Check the links on the Magic Sandwich Show website, including the donation and just giving pages.

 

Apostacon!

Friday Sept 20th – Sun Sept 22nd I will be in a far off exotic location, Omaha Nebraska. I’m going for a free-thinking skeptics event called Apostacon.  The speakers line-up looks good, and the hotel looks REALLY nice!  But the folks putting the event together are a little loopy I think.

First off, the event plays heavily on the Flying Spaghetti Monster as you can see on their promo page.  But then they’ve gone and added cartoon ninjas to slash prices and such. Tickets are now available for $77.00.  Good.  The more people that can make these things, the more fun they are.

Back to the textbook trenches in Texas

Next week, Tuesday Sept 17th, I will be in Austin once again, testifying before a panel reviewing and revising our science standards.  They’re good as they are, no revision necessary. So guess who’s trying to change them and why.

Once again, I will be speaking to a panel of religious ideologues determined not to listen, determined not to learn, and determined not to teach anything that is actually factually true.

The new textbook review committee was nominated by our now infamous State Board of Education, which means that several of these panelists were strategically-positioned with the specific intention of undermining science education in favor of a religious agenda. Some of the people on that board are associated with, or actually employed by, the Discovery Institute. That’s the creationist belief-tank that has turned up behind every misguided faith-based deception in all our public schools over the last decade or so at least.

According to the National Center for Science Education, they’re still denying that humans have any responsibility or influence with regard to climate change. They are still trying to include the oxymoron of ‘creation science’ based on ancient fables, and they’re still denying all of the verifiable facts of evolution that I listed for them last time.

All their arguments have been soundly and profoundly repeatedly disproved many times over, and they know it! But they don’t care. They’re still on their same old mission to mislead and deceive. So once again I’m siding with the Texas Freedom Network to Stand Up For Science.

 

How is secular humanist governance better than theocracy?

Occasionally I’ll get a PM that I think warrants a public reply.  The questions recently posed to me by quranresponse are a good example:

I am talking to you now, as smart atheist man\women I want to see your opinion how can atheism solve the world problem

Atheists are simply people who are not convinced that any actual deities really exist. There is no collective group of that kind. About the only thing all atheists agree on is that there isn’t any reason to believe in gods. However there are many atheists who believe in other things that are almost as absurd, homeopathy, reincarnation, extraterrestrial alien visitors and so on.

I identify as apistevist, meaning that I’m a rational empiricist who don’t hold any beliefs based on faith. For the purpose of this conversation, you could also consider me a secular humanist, as that seems to be who it is you mean to address.  So let me correct your question as necessary in order to answer.

How could rational, analytical, and compassionate people deal with these real world problems with real-world solutions rather than pretending that a magic invisible ghost will make their wishes come true, or actually do anything to help? Or how could we construct laws based a reasonable and enlightened analysis of reality rather than the primitive authoritarian mandates of the ignorant and bigoted savages who wrote all our supposedly sacred scriptures?

 

(1) wars: Religions way of solving this problems:

The old testament says fight back.

The new testament says turn your cheek to the transgressor.

Islam says fight back the transgressor until they stop.

(A) How can atheism stop war?

Diplomacy. It doesn’t matter what our out-dated, hate-filled, prejudicial doctrines and man-made mythologies might have said. There is no such thing as a ‘religion of peace’. Religion only knows how to react violently because they don’t understand reason and have never practiced tolerance. That’s why secular humanist diplomats will be necessary in order to end wars and other violations of human rights.

(2) killing or murdering ineccent people?
Religions way of solving this problems:
Actually jail doesn’t exist in religion books as a part solution, it is man made solution who thought that, the law of God is unfair and it is not wise, so he thought himself is more merciful and wiser than the one who created man and knows how to fix him up.
Actually jail is part of the problem.
(1) The old testament says the killer must be killed.
(2) The new testament doesn’t give a solution, because Jesus died for the killer sin, and Paul said Christians no longer live on the law of God.
(3) Islam says the killer must put to death unless if he killed some one by mistake. Or the family of who got killed forgive the killer.
(B) How can atheism stop the killing?

Again, ‘atheism’ doesn’t stop killing, and religion obviously doesn’t either. Secular humanism does however.

Religion’s preferred punishment is almost always death, regardless of the crime. But the death penalty is a statistical failure just like all their proposed solutions to other problems always are. Here in the US, the states that still have the death penalty also have the highest murder rates; its a negative correlation.  The problem there is one of society, the conditions imposed and the types of responses that are culturally coaxed.  When murder happens, and that person is caught and tried, we should remove them as a threat, and whether they are imprisoned, institutionalized, or what have you should be determined by the particulars in each case.

(3) stealing:
Religions way of solving this problems:
(1) The old testament has no solution it just says don’t steal..
(2) The new testament doesn’t give a solution, because Jesus died for the thief sin, and Paul said Christians no longer live on the law of God.
(3) Islam says if the thief make of stealing a job government must cut his hand.
But if starving people steal to eat, no cutting hands for those people.
(C) How can atheism stop stealing?

It seems that religion only knows how to react violently, out of vengeance. Again this is because it’s a belief system rooted in dichotomy and bigotry, with little or no desire to consider extenuating circumstances and NO ability to question itself objectively. Rational apistevists have that.  That again is why secular humanist leaders are better equipped to invent punishments and deterrents that are more appropriate and actually bring justice in one form or other as necessary. For example, payment of fines, or performance of community service, things like that.

Despite the severity of their punishments, religions have still consistently failed in virtually all attempts to curtail criminal behavior, and have in fact actually empowered or promoted criminality in many ways. More reasonable laws are usually more effective.

(4) rape:

Religions way of solving this problems:

(1) The old testament says if some one rape your daughter and paid you money it is ok..

(2) The new testament doesn’t give a solution, because Jesus died for the rapist sin, and Paul said Christians no longer live on the law of God.

(3) Islam says rapist must put to death, to keep the society clean. (D) How can atheism stop rape?

Islam also allows that the victim should be blamed, which is about as wrong as wrong can get.

Religion doesn’t solve the problem of rape at all; it exacerbates it. It should be (and in some atheist societies, it is this way) that women could walk about scantily-clad or even nude, and that men would have respect or sanity enough not to be violent against them on such paltry excuses as a lack of human decency or self control.  I mean, you don’t bludgeon children to death when someone’s kid is crying loudly and annoying you, right? So why would you victimize a woman just because you find her attractive? That’s sick, but that is the attitude that is typically perpetuated by religion.

Among religion’s many failures is that it is supposed to inspire moral behavior in all people, regardless what they look like or how they dress, and yet we constantly hear about sex crimes being most often committed by devoutly religious people, and these also tend to be the most savage cases too.

Rational progressive people admittedly can behave that way in relatively rare instances, but its neither as severe nor as frequent because we just have no excuse for it.

(5) Starvation or hunger.

Religions way of solving this problems:

(1) The old testament says charity..

(2) The new testament says charity.

(3) Islam says charity and sadaqa.

(E) How can atheism stop Starvation and hunger?

We would say charity too, but that would be secondary. The first suggestion is education, including sex education, empowering women to control their reproduction, and empowering all people to better master their situation. Otherwise all the charity you have isn’t going to work. This is another area where religion always fails.  Remember you’re talking to a Texan now. So I have some direct experience with several aspects of this particular failure on the part of the religious right.

So my question in response is that, since religion has failed so completely in all these applications and more, why do you still practice it?

A Complimentary Compilation of Quotes

 

People say, if there is no God, what is the meaning of life?

My response to that is, what is the meaning of God?

Because whether anyone’s god exists or not is irrelevant.

Either way, we are arrogant, vain, but still evolving apes,

and all our sacred scriptures are just man-made mythology.

Confirming God’s existence would not change these facts!

Either way, every religion has gotten an awful lot wrong,

and no religion can show even one thing they surely got right.

Either way, humans express both humanism and inhumanity,

and in either case, they give credit to their favorite deities,

asking that we pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Either way, prayers are useless compared to helping hands.

Either way, our laws are conceived and enforced by people,

and regardless whether God exists, history will be our judge.