The Onion’s version of Intelligent Design

Last week on the show I talked about the notion that the new creationist tactic is to say they “believe in evolution” but describe a warped notion of evolution that is essentially indistinguishable from creationism. Closely related is the Intelligent Design technique of mostly accepting the science behind evolution but then insisting that some particular gap needs to be filled in by God.

This week The Onion takes up that theme with I Believe In Evolution, Except For The Whole Triassic Period.

Excerpt:

“In fact, scientific reasoning can explain nearly every stage of life from the Big Bang to the present day. I say “nearly” because the period that scientists claim lasted from roughly 205 to 250 million years ago, commonly known as the Triassic period, was quite obviously the work of the Lord God Almighty.

“Think about it: I’m supposed to believe that the same process that we know slowly changed us from simple bacteria into highly advanced reptiles over the course of the Paleozoic era is also responsible for turning us into highly advanced reptiles with different body lengths? Do these people ever pause to think how ridiculous they sound as they advance these theories?”

Yabba-Dabba-Dumb!: Christianity’s war on reality kicks it up a notch

Ken Ham opened his colossal monument to ignorance this weekend, the Creation “Museum”, and PZ Myers is hosting a carnival right now of scientific responses to this folly. The NCSE has also issued a statement.

Clearly the anti-science fools in fundamentalist Christian circles will not rest until an entire generation of American students grows up completely miseducated and deceived, and America itself collapses in global stature to the level of a scientific and intellectual third world country. Not only that, but our economy could falter the more science and reason are rejected in America (among the supporters of Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback are people who deny — get this — that the earth revolves around the sun!), as America fails to advance scientifically and we become just as dependent on Europe and Asia for our medicines, our technology, and our research needs as we currently are on the Middle East for our oil. (I know that last bit sounds slippery-slope-ish, but come on, who ever thought we’d see people willingly pump $25 million into something like this?)

Finally, the stereotype of Christians as being just plain less intelligent than everyone else is powerfully reinforced. In the end, that may be the only bit of fact this “museum” promulgates.

Cletus and Clem Clodhopper enjoyed their trip to the Creation Museum this weekend, and reported they learned a lot. “Ah cain’t read much ‘sept comic books, so lookin at the big plastic dinersores was just like goina collidge, ‘sept better, cuz I dint hafta read!” boasted Clem. Cletus particularly appreciated being able to spend a Saturday away from the family farm, which he shares with his mother/girlfriend and about 23 of his brothers/sons and sisters/aunts/daughters. “Mostly ah look forward to the weekend cuz after ah muck out the stables Pappy lets me blow the goat. Ah never thought ah’d get no schoolin but now ah done gone to the museum, I got alla mah schoolin in one day! Praise Jesus!”

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Hovind’s mind is beginning to crumble

There are signs emerging that Kent Hovind is starting to deteriorate between the ears (“Whaddaya mean, starting to?” you’re saying, I know) as a result of his incarceration. His latest letter from the pen posted on the Creation Science Evangelism blog is a bizarre, self-pitying bit of blather in which he refers to God as the “master,” Jesus as the “woodsman,” evolution as a “big oak” and himself as the “ax”. He then goes off in a profoundly weird rant, following a “why hast thou forsaken me” motif.

I mean, get a load of this (spelling errors included):

Dear Woodsman,

Why have you done this? We were doing so well felling tress for the Master’s house and you quit chopping with me in the middle of cutting that big oak. Why? I was doing my best. I never flew off the handle. I cut as deep as I could every swing. What did I do wrong?

Why do you have me clamped in this vice? I can’t move! I can’t chop wood here. I was designed for chopping wood. I love it! Please don’t leave me clamped in this vice. I feel pressure on my sides that I’ve never felt before. I can handle the pressure on my cutting edge. Go ahead. Chop with me all day long. I can take it. Actually, I love it!

Now what? No! Wait! Why are you grinding and filing off part of me? Why would you take away pieces of the most effective part of me—my cutting edge?

Woodsman, the Master needs the trees cut! This delay is holding up the job we were doing for Him! Please stop grinding on me and get me out of this vice. I want to go back to work. I love cutting wood. Ouch! You are hurting me!

Woodsman, are you listening to me? Do you know what you are doing?

The Ax

This is the kind of thing you read, and then sit there quietly for a second, before exhaling and thinking “…Wow!”

Hovind is disintegrating. When he’s released, it is likely he will have to undergo treatment of some kind in a mental health facility. He may even have to be remanded to such a facility before his release. I don’t feel sorry for him in the least for who he’s been and what he’s done. But it’s a reassuring sign, I suppose, that his influence has considerably waned, and may even be considered negligible. In the “deuling polls” matter discussed a few days ago, the “Free Hovind” petition still has fewer than 100 signatures, many of which are pranks, while the “Keep Him Locked Up” counter-petition has over 1100. He’s lost his fan base except for all but the stupidest and most deluded, and now he’s losing his marbles.

Because goofing on YEC’s is just fun!

Young Earth Creationists are not exactly the brightest lights on the tree, as we all know. And the dimmest bulbs among them have to be Kent Hovind’s dwindling fan club.

In the way creationists in general think that facts will change to conform to beliefs, Hovind supporters have whipped up one of these stupid online petitions in the hopes of getting him pardoned and released. If there has ever been a case in the history of the internet where an online petition has impacted or changed — well — anything, I haven’t heard about it. But to think the Florida criminal justice system would actually reverse a felony conviction and prison sentence on the basis of a handful of people signing an online petition is a particularly pitiful brand of stupidity. I mean, you’d have to be stupid enough to believe the earth is only 6000 years old or something to believe that!

Naturally, the atheist and science blogosphere has been having some fun at these poor fools’ expense, just as they did with that numbskulled Christianity Today poll a few days back. A few people have posted phony signatures to the “Free Hovind” petition, but I, like PZ, would discourage this. Hell, it’s just mean, like taking candy from a baby. The better choice for a mocking response has been the “Keep Hovind in Jail!” counter-petition, which, as of this morning, has 843 signatures to the pro-Hovind poll’s 53 (and some of those 53, as I indicated, are pranks). The YEC’s who started the “Free Kent” petition are aware of the counter-petition, and have gone into full “Mommy mommy, the monsters under the bed are trying to eat me!” mode.

Now of course, a key difference is that the people who started the “Keep Hovind in Jail!” petition know online petitions are bogus. The reason for the counter-petition is to give the poor deluded dimwits who still have the wool pulled over their eyes where Hovind is concerned a blunt reality check. The man was a liar and a con artist, a schemer and a deliberate crook. And those fine Christians who think he actually told them the truth about dinosaurs and the age of the earth are the victims of his most egregious and inexcusable con, and their views are not in the mainstream here.

Yes, sometimes it seems mean to pound on the religiously deluded and uneducated. But sometimes a little “tough love” is needed. Signing your name to “Keep Hovind in Jail!” isn’t really like participating in an “iPetition.” Think of it more as an “iIntervention”.

Creationism Evolves: Intelligent Design and Theistic Evolution

Today on the show: Intelligent Design.

I’m pulling together some topics I have talked about in the past. For more information, see these pages:

Could the Bible be ruled “indecent” in Hong Kong?

This is hilarious. More than 800 Hong Kong citizens are pushing to have the Bible legally classified as indecent material. In actuality, this is all by way of making a point about freedom of speech and of the press. Recently a column in a university newspaper containing frank discussions of deviant sex practices like bestiality was deemed indecent by the ominously-named Obscene Articles Tribunal. In reaction, the complaints about the excessive sexual and violent content of the Bible were filed. I have to admit, the idea of two girls getting their father drunk and screwing him, and all on the orders of God, to boot, might not go over well with many of today’s proponents of Biblical “morality.” But that, I’m sure, will remain on the list of Bible stories they don’t read to you in Sunday School.

It’s still all up in the air — and probably not likely; as Christopher Hitchens and others have pointed out lately, you can get away with anything if you slap the label “religion” on it — whether or not the Tribunal will agree with the complaints and actually declare the Bible an indecent publication. But I have to admit the thought of this makes me giggle:

If the Bible is … classified as “indecent” by authorities, only those over 18 could buy the holy book and it would need to be sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice.

I’m sure Larry Flynt is smiling.

In which everyone’s irony meters explode yet again

The latest funny thing I’ve gotten in my inbox from the American Family Association is a plug for a low-budget Christian movie called Flywheel, an earlier effort, broadcast on TBN back in 2003, from the producers of theatrical release Facing the Giants. Reading the plot synopsis, I wonder if ol’ Don Wildmon saw a little too much of himself in the description of the protagonist.

This movie is about a used car salesman, Jay Austin (Alex Kendrick), who uses his smiling face and hasty promises to cover up his dishonesty and manipulation. He does everything his way until his true character is exposed and he becomes disgusted by the masks he wears and the lies he tells.

Gee. Except for that last bit, it could be Wildmon’s life story!

What still hasn’t been reported about the bomber

The would-be family planning clinic bomber Paul Ross Evans was indicted today on a number of charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He got most of the materials for his bomb at a local Wal-Mart and used his credit card for the purchase. It didn’t take too much effort to solve the crime. He faces a potential sentence of life in prison. Apparently, he realized the seriousness of his little stunt while awaiting trial and he made a suicide attempt.

It might be interesting to readers to know that this event occurred in Austin Texas, the home town of the Atheist Experience. While Austin is a great place to live, we have our nuts, too.

The press has been eerily silent about the motivations of this guy. Anybody who pays the slightest bit of attention to the culture war knows that the only people who care about making trouble for family planning clinics are the hard-core Christian conservatives. I’ll bet anyone that this guy had some religious indoctrination along the way. I wonder if he didn’t get some of that faith-based programming while he was in prison earlier. I seriously doubt the mainstream media will look into the question, given their pro-religion bias. Believers certainly don’t like to be confronted with the reality that belief (denying reality) has bad consequences. It’s bad for newspaper sales.

The press has reported that the guy has no known affiliations to terrorist groups, but I think perhaps it’s time we broaden the definition of terrorist groups to include some more of these religious extremists. It seems that there is some confusion about what kind of crime the Department of Homeland Security is supposed to go after. If this sort of bombing isn’t an example of domestic terrorism, I don’t know what is. Meanwhile, DHS is apparently charged with going after child predators, yet the leaders of the largest pedophile organization in modern history still flaunt the law, impede investigations, and roam free. Can anybody guess who they are? Perhaps it’s time we stop giving religious believers a free ride in the morality department. After all, aren’t they supposed to adhere to a higher standard?

Back to the Paul Ross Evans story, I can’t help but point out the irony of “pro life” people trying to plot murders. “Pro life” seems to be little more than a marketing device. If you believe that human bodies are just soul traps, that souls are the essence of a person, and that it’s the ultimate destiny of the soul to escape the trap, you’re naturally going to de-value human life. Not surprisingly, countries with more believers also have more suicides and murders. …Oh, and higher abortion rates, too. (Too many ironies for one paragraph. That last point really calls for a separate post.) You can bet that Paul Ross Evans believes that humans have souls. He might even believe that he’ll have a special place in Heaven because of his actions.

I have yet to get a definite theological answer on what becomes of the alleged souls of aborted embryos, since Christians seem to think they have them. This question is especially important now that the Vatican has backpedaled on their invention of limbo. If those little buggers go automatically to heaven, then maybe killing them isn’t so bad, as Andrea Yates correctly concluded. If they go to hell, as original sin would indicate, then we have to wonder how Christians live with the fact that their “gift” of free will from a benevolent God is the cause of the infinite torture of innocent little babies.