Meanwhile, back in reality…

While the Creationist Noise Machine continues annoying the public with its endless mantra of “there’s no evidence for evolution!” and “teach the controversy (that we’ve made up)!”, over in the real world, scientists continue to ignore such nonsense and concentrate on the actual research those people don’t do.

There’s an interesting report today about new discoveries in convergent evolution, where it’s been found that similar mutations in species of Asian monkeys and South American monkeys have led to genes that appear to confer resistance to HIV. The implication is that HIV possibly isn’t a new outbreak, and that similar diseases have afflicted primates in the past. Neat. The article doesn’t say if this research can lead to new, genetic treaments for HIV in humans, but it quite possibly could. You’d have to ask Abbie Smith about that — that’s her line.

Observe. This is exactly the kind of beneficial research that no creo has ever done. The kind of research that would be kicked in the balls if they got their wish of confusing students’ educations by introducing non-scientific ideas like ID into classrooms, shoring it all up with bold proclamations of conspiracy theories declaring scientists are evil thought police trying to control outside-the-box thinkers. Has the Discovery Institute produced any research that points to findings like the ones above, and do they have a way to explain these developments using ID? (And don’t tell me, “No, because teh eebul Darwinistas at the universities won’t let them!” because we all know how independently well funded the IDiots are.)

Of course not, all the ID crowd ever does is glom onto the latest research real scientists have done, then bitch about how it’s all wrong and shows biases against the supernatural and whatnot. As always, the IDiots have nothing to bring to the table, except their Dunning-Kruger-enhanced egos and pitiful need for attention. When it comes to advancing knowledge, they’re left sitting on the sidelines like the sad ugly kid at the school dance.

The Expelled farce gets even funnier

Check the latest post by PZ, concerning a desperate press release by the Expelled team, who are huffing and puffing and doing their best “well I never!” posturing over Robert Moore’s blistering review of the movie in the Orlando Sentinel. They claim — you’ll love this — that Moore created a “security breech [sic]” (at a press conference?) by sneaking in (to a screening for which his paper was sent an invitation?) disguised as a minister (huh?), and that he refused to sign the nondisclosure agreement (and what kind of “press conference” requires its attendees to sign an NDA?).

The usual “waah waah, the evil atheist conspiracy meanies are picking on us” self-pity you get from these losers, in other words. And they say “Big Science,” Ben’s imaginary villain, are the ones who want to “control the message”? Project much? Of course they do: they’re IDiots, which means they’re pathological liars and meretricious scumbags.

Note that on the Expelled blog, the whiny tard patrol respond by deriding PZ as an “atheist blogger and fabulist,” while somehow forgetting to note that he’s the same “fabulist” from whom they requested and got an interview for their movie under false pretenses.

How tragic it must be to be the sort of people who flail through life, literally psychologically incapable of being truthful, ever.

Because it’s not like there’s going to be a DVD boxed set

Our pal Joe Zamecki has posted the very first episode of The Atheist Experience to YouTube, from almost eleven years ago. I’ve never seen it till now. Hosting the program, which was not shot live in studio but taped at the cafeteria where the ACA used to have its Sunday brunches, are (from left) Joe, Mary Sue Osborne, and Don Rhoades, one of ACA’s true gentlemen.

A little while before my time, ’97. Yes, the technical quality is — ahem — crude. But it was a first effort from a fledgling atheist group trying something new and challenging. And the show it launched, that still runs to this day, has been an influence upon the media efforts of dozens of other little local godless organizations around the country. So here are its most humble origins, the first of several parts (the rest of which you can watch at YouTube itself). Thanks for unearthing and posting this, Joe!

England swinging towards reason

Their money is worth far more than ours, and now it seems their intellects are as well. Well, that last bit isn’t fair at all, of course. Great Britain has always had one of the richest intellectual and cultural legacies on earth. But to read that fully two-thirds of the population of the UK claim no religious affiliation is jaw-droppingly joyous to behold. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all embracing Dawkinsian atheism en masse. But it does mean that a greater percentage of them are thinking freely about these matters and refusing to commit to received belief systems and religions simply as an act of following the herd. It’s such a contrast to the headlong rush into the morass of anti-intellectual, anti-science religious irrationalism that the poor old US of A is suffering, that all one can do is wonder at how two free Western societies could take such disparate paths.

I think, in my layman’s way, that part of the cause of religion’s demise over there can be placed on their having a state-sponsored church. Nothing can turn a modern enlightened population off to the intellectual and moral dead end of religious belief than living in a country that still has blasphemy laws and is only just now considering repealing them, several centuries too late. And the way in which Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams enjoys shooting off his mouth without first loading his brain on such subjects as Muslim sharia law can only serve to make the clergy and the beliefs they represent look not only unappealing but wholly reprehensible.

All I can say is I’m proud and envious of the British public as they continue to disprove the canard that we’ll never really be rid of religion, because people are weak sheep who need its comforting lies. Pro-religion views can only support themselves by selling humanity short. Secularism celebrates humanity and freedom to the greatest possible heights. I often dream I’ll live to see the day that America joins Britain and much of Europe in leeching the vile poison of religion from its system at last. What a day it will be when we can look back on the era in which megachurches brought in tens of thousands of sincere but unhappy people to separate them from their money, and politicians were judged worthy of office mainly to the degree they pandered to the most preposterous delusions, and shake our heads and laugh at our collective childishness. Alas, in too many people here, the disease really has rotted too deeply to be cut out. Will America advance, or remain mired in its superstitious rut while the rest of the West passes us by and leaves us nothing more than an intellectual backwater, to be pitied and ridiculed in equal measure? Hope springs eternal, but I remain cynical.

One Nation Under God

“It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase ‘under God.’ I didn’t.”

–Barak Obama, “Call to Renewal” Keynote Address, June 28, 2006.

This quote was featured this morning on another atheist blog I frequent, Austin Cline’s atheism.about.com section.

Austin makes some good points, and points most of the people who visit this blog spot would probably think of themselves. That the phrase is openly discriminatory toward atheists, and that it furthers the disenfranchisement of atheists in our culture.

I certainly don’t disagree. Although, if I’m going to be honest, I personally also never felt that the Pledge thrust religion or monotheism upon me as a youngster. I honestly don’t believe that any child will become monotheistic by being compelled to say the Pledge every morning and recite the phrase “One Nation Under God.”

Let me be clear, however, that I acknowledge that the insertion of the phrase is completely in violation of the Establishment of Religion clause, and should be removed, if on no other grounds than that.

Also, just because the phrase never offended me, personally, I certainly don’t take issue with anyone else feeling uncomfortable with it. How it makes a person feel is just that–how it makes them feel. It’s not wrong to have feelings or to acknowledge them. And just because I don’t share a person’s feelings, doesn’t invalidate their feelings, or my lack of them.

So, it is a phrase that at the very least violates our Constitution and, therefore, our law, and also that may offend some citizens who like to think that they are just as patriotic as any theist, or that they don’t want their children compelled to say this any more than a Christian would want their child compelled to say “One Nation Without a God.”. And these are real problems.

In my humble view, however, as someone who has dialogued with quite a lot of theists, neither of these things comes close to what I consider to be the real harm caused by the insertion of this phrase into our Pledge of Allegiance. What disturbs me beyond these two very real concerns? The fact that there is a group of very vocal, very politically active theists, specifically Christians, who would insert this phrase and similar phrases all over our government and our government-sponsored public institutions in order to promote the view that we are, on some level, a theocracy.

The last time I was on AE, Matt Dillahunty pointed out that if a person says “This is a Christian nation,” and they mean by that that our citizens, by and large, are Christians, they are correct. If they mean by that that the vast majority of early Americans and founders of the United States were Christians or monotheists along Christian lines, they are correct. If, however, they mean by that that our laws are based upon the Bible, and that Biblical authority or Christian authority supersedes Constitutional authority, they couldn’t be more wrong, (and, I would add, perhaps dangerous).

I know that by posting this, I’m preaching to the choir. And I have no intention of launching into arguments that already plaster the Internet regarding why I disagree with the theocratic stance. I’m only writing to address that, to me, it is unwise to ignore a growing group who vocally express a wish to enforce their religion upon the rest of our society. And it is unwise to believe that simply because I’m not feeling particularly offended by something, it’s not potentially threatening or harmful. Did anyone see the early push that Huckabee got in the primaries? Anyone who thinks there isn’t a growing movement for theocracy in the Christian community isn’t paying attention. And anyone who isn’t concerned by that isn’t thinking it through to the end. Even Christians should fear that concept, because, historically speaking, believers haven’t been particularly kind even to other believers when they aren’t in complete doctrinal agreement.

I’m not going to slam Obama as a uniquely insensitive or unaware, here. I’m sure Obama isn’t the only person–or politician–to share this sentiment. I actually have heard many atheists say the same thing: “It doesn’t bother me, why get all worked up over it? It’s harmless recitation.” But to that, I have to respond that there is a larger world out there, beyond me and how I feel. And it would be wise of us all to take notice of how others around us “feel,” because we might find they feel that our government should require us to adopt, if not their beliefs, at least their behaviors with regard to their religious perspectives. And they use these seemingly innocuous items to promote that agenda. Since it shouldn’t be there in the first place, by law, is it wise to endorse it, retain it, or defend it as “inoffensive,” while supporters of a U.S. theocracy begin to rally and test their power?

I’m thinking, “not.”