Here’s one for the creationists!

Earlier today, our old pal Dan Marvin, eager for attention as usual, tried to threadjack the comments about the blog meetup following Dawkins’ talk on Wednesday. He implied he’d have a real stumper to ask Dawkins if he could be there, and then trotted out some more silly crap from AiG about the appendix, and how he seems to think the recent discovery that it actually seems to have a function presents some kind of problem for evolution. Typical know-nothing creationist idiocy, which I quickly spanked with some information from TO. Then, being an evil mean old atheist, I slapped him around with the usual batch of personal insults and sent him packing. Hey, I gotta keep my horns and my pointy tail sharp, don’t I?

But I haven’t been able to stop chuckling about the whole exchange this whole time. Because it’s ever so entertaining to know that there are these clowns out there who, in classic Dunning-Kruger Effect fashion, think they know more about subjects like biology than the leading experts in the field. Of whom Dawkins happens to be one.

So I thought I’d make an offer to creationists who won’t be in Austin on Wednesday, one they just can’t refuse. I will be your proxy. No, I’m serious. All you have to do is this:

Submit to the comments the question you would want to ask Dawkins during the Q&A. Make it as h-a-r-d as you can think of! A real toughie! Squeeze your brain like an old mop and come up with a real humdinger. No going easy on the man, now. If you’ve got a question you think would leave him slack-jawed in stupefaction in front of an audience of hundreds of people, entitling you to do a little Snoopy dance all around Hogg Auditorium singing “Pwned in the Name of Jeezus!” at the top of your lungs, then, by all means, ask it.

I will pick the best question of the batch and present it to Dawkins myself. That’s right. I’ll be your proxy.

In fact, considering that it may be difficult to get the question in at the Q&A, I will introduce myself and present the question to him at his book signing Wednesday afternoon. (Though I will still try to ask at the Q&A; I suspect those will be highly limited due to time, but you never know.) If he’s too busy at the book signing, or if store employees are just rushing people through the autograph line like a conveyer belt, which could happen if the place is as jam-packed as it’s likely to be, then I will ask him politely if I may have a moment of his time after the signing is over.

Now, there is just one simple rule. Please try to follow it, creationists. Because you know how we like to be mean and insulting, and so if you demonstrate that you can’t even follow one simple instruction, well, that will just give us godless amoral heathens an excuse to make jokes about you involving inbreeding and sex with indignant farm animals and what have you. So just do this: Post your question in the form of a simple, easily phrased question. Don’t cutpaste a ten-paragraph page from Answers in Genesis or the Discovery Institute and then go, “So what about that?” Obviously, there won’t be time for anything like that. Just present the one, on-point, direct question you’d get to ask if you were able to attend Wednesday night’s talk.

Feel free to ask silly shit like “How do you feel abot the fact yer gowing 2 HELL!!1!??” if you like. But that’s not a good question, you know. Really, I plan to pick the best, smartest question, and so take this as an opportunity to show us arrogant, know-it-all atheist assholes that you’re not as dumb as we think you are and are in fact quite a bit smarter, thank you very much.

So there you are. Let’s all play Stump Dawkins. Just submit your question, I’ll pick the toughest, best one (I’ll even ask Kazim and Tracie and the other regular posters here to weigh in with their opinion of the best question), and ask that question to Dawkins personally on Wednesday. I’ll even arrange to record myself doing it, so you can get your answer straight from God’s…ahem…Dawkins’ mouth.

Can’t get much fairer than that, right?

Bring it!


PS: To our regular godless readers: Think of this as one of those trivia board games, where another player has gotten an easy question they can’t answer to save their lives, and you’re sitting there clenching your jaw going, “Oh god, I know this one I know this one!” In other words, please resist the urge to answer the questions that come up yourself in the comment thread…at least until after Wednesday. At that point, all the non-picked questions can be answered freely by any of you. For the time being, remember these are creationists’ questions for Dawkins, and so let’s get his reply first. I’ll be leaving comment moderation on to ensure everybody plays nice. (Lui, put that cricket bat down. Down! Thank you.)

Why and How

Many years ago, a Krishna friend said to me, “People often ask ‘why?,’ when what they really mean is ‘how?’”

Initially, this statement confused me. But he explained it further. It made sense to me. And since that day, I have adopted his stance.

On Yesterday’s show, we had a Christian caller who told us that she believes in god because she has personally witnessed miracles. Matt asked her to give us an example of a miracle. She said there were so many to choose from it would take too much time to go into them. Matt asked her to just give us one example.

If you are an atheist who is ever engaged by Christians, you know that it’s important to get an example of a miracle, because Christians do not agree on what constitutes a “miracle.” Like most other religious terms, the word is meaningless, and pretty much self-defined, along the lines of something like, “love” or “freedom.”

The woman explained her “miracle” pretty thoroughly. But it didn’t take much time to see this woman defines miracle as “a natural/reasonable occurrence that I interpret as a sign from god.” Her definition is not unlike an autobiographical story I once read about a Christian woman who hated the color of carpet in her church. When it was changed out, she knew it was a sign she should marry her fiancé, because, prior to that, she had determined she must be married in that church, but couldn’t bear to be married on that hideous shade of aqua carpeting. Most atheists don’t think of these types of things as “miracles,” so it’s always good to check before assuming when a Christian uses a word that relates to the supernatural. Since none of it is available for examination/verification to anyone—we’re left with the reality that any such term has only the meaning that any individual Christian assigns.

The woman on the phone said her reason for believing in god was that she began asking questions such as “why is the sky blue?” And she prayed ardently to a god (that she didn’t believe in) to let her know if he was there. She also began to research different religions. And she found one that really spoke to her, and became a Christian. So, now, in her words, “I know that I know that I know [there is a god].”

There are some obvious issues with a claim of “not believing” a god exists while I’m repeatedly pleading to that god. But this is already going to be long, so let me jump to where it ties into another obvious problem: the problem of asking for signs from spirit beings to determine whether or not they exist.

In other words, any “sign” I receive as the result of prayer is only open to subjective interpretation, and not to any verification. Christians put forward that it’s wrong to ask for any sort of verifiable miracle or definitive sign. To do so would be “testing” god—a serious no-no. So a person making this sort of plea is open to accepting any sort of subtle influence or coincidence. They’re not asking for Earth-shattering, convincing evidence—just something “meaningful” to them, personally.

What’s the obvious problem? Well, ask them how this sounds to their ears: “If you wanted to know if Big Foot exists, and I told you that I know Big Foot exists because I prayed to god for a sign to let me know if they exist. And after a few days, weeks, and months, I got nothing. So, I started researching Big Foot online—reading all I could find. I also kept on praying and asking to feel assured and have a sign. I prayed and prayed and kept on praying, and reading about Big Foot, until I finally encounter a subtle coincidence—a better job offer, a feeling of euphoria/peace, (or even a video of Big Foot online)—that convinced me god was telling me that Big Foot do, in fact, exist. And so now, I know that I know that I know Big Foot is out there in the woods.”

Would they think I had justification for belief in Big Foot? Or would they think I wanted so badly to believe that I just drilled myself until I finally accepted anything as proof of Big Foot’s existence?

If I want to know if a god exists, why not check into it like I would check into the existence of anything else—of Big Foot? Clearly define what it means to “exist,” exactly what it is I’m seeking, and where it should be found manifesting, then check to see if it’s actually manifesting there in the way I expect. If it’s not, then what I am seeking doesn’t exist. That’s, honestly, the best anyone could do to make a determination of the existence of any item-X. Praying to item-X for assurance it exists makes no sense unless, on some level, I’ve already accepted all sorts of claims about the existence of this item and how it operates—even while I attempt to assure others I haven’t presupposed these claims to be valid. I’m certainly throwing out everything I have learned in life about how to determine whether or not something exists and how to determine truth value, and it appears I’ve also, to some significant degree, accepted all the terms laid down by superstition in my search. And if I was truly skeptical—is this really how I’d go about it? Would I see proof of the validity of a god on supernatural terms? Or would I go with what I know to be tried and true in existent reality?

But that’s a huge digression. Back to “why” and “how.” Definitions can change, I understand. And I will be the first to admit that people I know use “why” and “how,” often, interchangeably. I’m not writing to say “you’re wrong.” I’m writing to call out a subtle difference that may/may not speak to a difference in perspective that an atheist should be aware of when he or she is engaged by a Christian. When the Christian says, “I was asking myself, ‘why is the sky blue?’” I should already be wary, because the Christian is potentially starting off asking the wrong (and potentially very loaded) question. With my prior disqualifier regarding definitions firmly in place, I’m going to appeal now to Webster for a standard, accepted definition.

“Why” is listed as basically meaning: “For what reason, cause, purpose or motive.” “How” is listed as “in what manner, in what way, by what means.”

Can they be used interchangeably? I think so. However, consider this: In a discussion about whether or not the universe is the result of natural causes or intelligent purpose, doesn’t the term “why” carry with it the potential to muddy the waters with presupposition, whereas “how” is more unpresuming and more to the point? If a god did it, “how” will get to that. If a god didn’t do it, “how” will also get to that. But if a god didn’t do it, “why” may or may not get to that—depending on how we’re using it.

Depending on what the Christian means by “why,” the word comes preloaded to presume purpose and motive in creation. When I hear a Christian ask “Why X?,” where X is a natural function, I will say, “I think you mean ‘how’ X.” The less biased and more accurate question is “How is the sky blue?”

We use “why” rather than “how” so often that that last question may sound awkward to some. But I recommend getting used to it. And I recommend pointing out the bias that comes with a preloaded word like “why” when a Christian uses it. “Do you recognize that a more appropriate word would be ‘how’—since ‘why’ presupposes motive in natural functions and causes? You’re potentially already starting off with a bias that the universe has purpose. And since that is the very point of our debate, I have to declare that I don’t know if there is any reason ‘why’ the sky is blue—but I believe we can discuss something of how the sky is blue; and if it leads to a purpose, so be it.”

Am I being over-analytical here? I don’t think so. Consider that the Christian on the phone was responding to Matt’s question about what made her believe a god exi
sts. She answered that she was putting questions to herself, such as “Why is the sky blue?” What does that have to do with god unless you perceive a motive behind the reality that the sky is blue? If Matt had asked her a question about determining truth values or finding the cause of natural realities, then there probably would be no reason to consider the word “why” to have any ulterior meaning beyond it’s interchangeable use with “how.” But in the context of “Why do I believe an intelligent being is behind the natural universe?,” the idea that someone pondered “Why is the sky blue?,” takes on a whole new (pardon the pun) shade of meaning.

Make of it what you will. Draw your own conclusions. If you think I’m being too detailed in analyzing the language people use, then disregard my point entirely. But I find that definitions often are key source of misunderstandings in any discussion with a Christian. And, so, I see no reason to allow for more than will certainly already occur. “Why” has, over the years, become a red flag to me in discussions with Christians. I don’t know there are any “why”s for the things they want to know. But we can talk about “how”s, if they’re ready to investigate nature in an unbiased fashion.

Strictly for Austinites

Okay, so everyone’s looking forward to Dawkins’ appearance at UT this coming Wednesday. That will be at 7:00 PM. I suspect it will go about two hours, including Q&A. So I thought that following the talk, unless you’re all going to be a bunch of pathetic gotta-go-to-work-tomorrow candy-asses, we’d have an Atheist Experience Blog meetup somewhere in the vicinity. I’m announcing this early so that people will have a couple of days to think about it and add it to their schedules accordingly. There are any number of kewl coffeehouses or bars or late night restaurants to repair to in the UT area, up and down the Drag and elsewhere. Hell, even Amy’s Ice Creams is an option. So, all you locals chime in, and if you’re interested, offer your suggestions.

Christians trying to destroy education altogether in Oklahoma

What do you do when those damn pesky facts keep throwing cold water on your precious, precious Bronze Age superstitions? Why, just rewrite the law so that no facts can be taught in classrooms, ever.

This is the goal of HB 2211 — named, with typical Christian-martyr self-absorption, the “Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act” — in Oklahoma, which essentially allows any stupid fundie student to substitute “Duhhhhh…Goddidit!!!1!” in lieu of the correct answer on any test or homework assignment, and, by law, a teacher could not grade that answer as incorrect! I am not shitting you!

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student’s belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation.

Whatever shenanigans Kansas has ever gotten up to in the past will look like tiddlywinks compared to this, people. This is a bill that renders the practice of education itself pointless.

And naturally, the damn thing has actually passed the House Education Committee. All of which argues for a state run by fools who are not merely anti-intellectual but actively hostile to knowledge. I may disagree with that wacky old lush Christopher Hitchens on many, many things. But on this point, he’s hit nothing but net: Religion poisons everything. And here, we see religion poised to poison the educational standards of literally millions of young children in the worst way possible, by making it effectively impossible for any teacher in that state to teach them anything factual at all.*

So if little Trailer Park Timmy is asked on his American History exam, “Who was the first president of the United States?” and he answers, “Jesus!” that answer could not be counted as wrong.

And people whine about that horrible Professor Dawkins and how he dares to call religion a form of child abuse.

Oklahoma citizens, if any of you are reading this, it’s time to get out the big guns. If you care, not only about your state’s reputation, but about the future of your children and anything resembling truth and intellectual integrity at all, you need to be bombarding your state representatives and senators day and night with angry mails and phone calls expressing your dismay in no uncertain terms, that a piece of legislation this patently absurd and outrageous could even be written in the first place, let alone get passage out of committee, in this day and age. And remind them that it’s 2008 C.E. (actually, you’d better use AD), not 2008 B.C.E.

Millions of minds are in the balance here.


Addendum: *Okay, I can see some readers responding to that part with “Hyperbole much?” After all, there’s no reason to think that this bill would mean that students were suddenly not learning that 2+2=4 or that the Third Reich lost World War II if it were passed. Of course, this just illustrates more succinctly than ever that the whole purpose of the bill is — here we go again — to target science education specifically. Still, the way it’s worded, it would be very easy to poison other courses apart from science if it actually passed. I can see the Reconstructionists using it to warp history curricula in order to reflect the “Christian nation” pseudohistory of America promoted by such groups as David Barton’s Wallbuilders, for instance.

Suffice it to say that if HB 2211 does become law in Oklahoma, the ink won’t be dry on the governor’s signature before the federal lawsuits get filed. And then you’ll have the entire course of education in that state needlessly disrupted as the Christian Right finds itself having to fight and lose yet another Dover. As Barbara Forrest pointed out when she spoke here last fall, all that these attempts by anti-science religionists actually achieve is the tearing apart of communities, the unnecessary waste of millions of dollars in legal fees, and the disruption, not enhancement, of the students’ educations. It just isn’t worth it.

Expelled = epic fail!

An invitation-only (of course) private screening for Expelled in Florida, held expressly to influence state legislators to support a bogus “academic freedom” bill that’s been introduced to counter the recent ruling that schools must teach evolution, tanked miserably, drawing only about 100 viewers. There’s a report here. It seems no one (least of all lawmakers, thank goodness) is fooled by the movie’s disingenuous message, or its amateurish attempts at stealth marketing.

A truly tragic meltdown

Matthew Murray, the poor messed up kid who shot up his church in Colorado back in December, had a lot wrong with him. Beyond his ADHD, there were overwhelming feelings of rejection, and not belonging. With his brain chemistry so badly screwed up (he was taking medication, but it’s impossible to tell if he was on it at the time of his rampage), it’s hard to say what could have prevented him from doing what he did.

God didn’t, of course, but that’s because there isn’t one, so you can’t exactly be bitter about that. But not only didn’t Christianity provide the path to peace and healing Murray needed, but it may well have exacerbated his situation. An angry letter from Matthew written to God has come to light. In it, Matthew rails against the hypocrisy he sees all around him in the Christian community.

“The more I read your stupid book, the more I pray, the more I reach out to Christians for help the more hurt and abused I get,” he wrote.

“I’ve heard good things about what Jesus can do, yet everywhere I go in Christianity, all the Christians I see or meet are miserable, angry, selfish, hypocritical, proud, power hungry, abusive, uncaring, confused, lustful, greedy, unsure of their doctrine and mean-spirited … Am I too lost to be saved? My soul cries for deliverance. I’m dieing (sp), praying, bleeding and screaming. Will I be denied???”

This stuff is just heartbreaking. And revealing in the way so much of his anger and bitterness is directed at the religious beliefs in which he’d been raised, setting an ideal for which he never believed he was good enough, while all around him, he saw people who had been accepted, loved and successful within the church (like Ted Haggard, whose sex scandal was especially appalling to him), revealed as hypocrites and liars.

I’m sure his family tried to help as his mental chaos overtook him, but his suffering was beyond them. It would have been so nice if there really was a God for guys like Matthew, who could hear a guy like Matthew’s pleas and reach down from whatever otherworldly, higher realm it lives in and simply, magically take the pain away. But that God’s just not there, for him, his victims, you, me or anyone. We’re the ones who have to look after and care for one another. You don’t heal the problems of someone like Matthew Murray by filling his head with ideas about heaven and hell and being a horrible sinner who must please a jealous God if he wishes to “be saved.” Build up a person’s life, help him realize that he has value and worth here and now. Because this is the only shot at life any of us gets. And it’s tragic to see anyone’s life go down in flames — especially when it takes others with it — the way Matthew’s did.

Proud of my bud!

Nothing to do with atheism, really, but just thought I’d give a shout-out and high-five to my buddy Kat Feller, who’s enjoying much newfound fame and fortune as part of the cast of the TV Land reality show High School Reunion. They’re plugging her as “The Lesbian,” which I think is kind of lame, because there’s a hell of a lot more to her than her sexual identity — she’s one of the most talented voice actresses I know, for one thing, appearing in a number of video games and animated movies, and she’s got a role in Madagascar: The Crate Escape, which is hitting theaters in November. But I notice part of the gimmick of the show is to fit everyone into one-dimensional labels, kind of like high school itself — “The Bully,” “The Jock,” that kind of thing. Anyway, she’s getting press and interviews all over the place (here’s one), and I’m really proud of her. So go Kat! Say, what do you think knowing that you’re more dangerous to America than a terrorist!? LO-fuckin’-L.

Theomatics again

Probably not many of you have long enough memories for this, but one of the very first topics I ever did as a guest on the Atheist Experience TV show was about a concept called “Theomatics.” If you’re familiar with the “Bible codes” then you probably have the general gist of what it’s about. You don’t create crossword puzzles to find significant words and phrases. Instead, you have a cypher which assigns each letter to a number, and then you attempt to find significant words or phrases in the Bible that are multiples of some number that you pick.

It’s all very silly, of course, because you can pick any number that you like, and then given a long enough sequence of words, you can find seemingly significant phrases on any subject. If you’d like to verify this for yourself, you can read the short article I wrote at the time, and then find your own gematria-based phrases by running my program.

I still get email about this from time to time. Part of the reason is because I’m linked from the first page of a Google search on Theomatics, and I’m also linked from the Wikipedia page. Here is an email exchange I just had.

Gary writes:


I just reviewed your Theomatics Debunked rebuttal of Theomatics… and immediately,
it became a useless challenge.

I have known of Theomatics for over 20 years… and understand it.
After reading your rebuttal and so called “Debunking” it became
immediately apparent that you completely misunderstand the entire
premise and subject. And so much so, that I can see that your only
goal was to slam Theomatics… whether you proved anything or not.

In totem, your ‘Debunking’ was hillarious… hedging on utter stupidity!

Now, usually I don’t respond to this level of obnoxiousness at all — somebody who walks in assuming that I’m an idiot is unlikely to yield a fruitful discussion. But I was curious about what Gary might bring to the table, so I replied:

Okay, I’ll bite. What was it about my program that failed to capture
the point of Theomatics? Can you be more specific about what makes it so stupid?

Gary replied:



For one (major) of many points:

I am admitedly no expert on the subject, but I’m not brain dead. Your analogies to debunk Theomatics were clearly without merit.
All you did was show that numbers can be found in random text.
a) you completely ignore the fact that in the Bible, specific NUMBERS are established “in the text/writings” that also correlate and become significantly re-established in the numerology of both the Hebrew/Greek alphabet. That these numbers are adequately repeated throughout scripture.
Theomatics reveals that these numbers written in text (IE: seven, two etc) are reinforced by the subjects, themes and within context of “MEANING” whether literal or prophetic, whether poetic or factual, whether spiritual or historic… THESE SAME NUMBERS IN TEXT are directly supported by the construction of the writings… which, across 4000 years span of two languages/cultures (Hebrew/Greek), and authored by 40 authors… the letter symbol construction of these writings in these two languages reinforce the script or TEXT level numbers and meanings. None of which was assembled in random nor is there ANY evidence in collusion between or amidst the authors to establish the onion skin-like layers of numerical significance. To go further, The phenomenon of Theomatics wasn’t even KNOWN until the mid seventies.

In this point alone, you have missed the boat in your lame attempt to make an analogy of Theomatics with your examples. In short, your examples leave out 80% of what is significant about Theomatics.

I replied:

I certainly do appreciate the feedback, but I’m not convinced that
your claim has any bearing whatsoever on my response.

Regardless of how the significant numbers are chosen, the point of the program was to demonstrate that ANY number can yield seemingly significant results from any text. Thus is doesn’t matter whether the text attaches significant meaning to 111 or 52 or 69. By running a large enough text through a computer with some set of rules and any number you please, you can pick out thousands of phrases which translate to multiples of that number. It’s simply a matter of confirmation bias. No collaboration or special planning on the part of the authors is required.

> To go further, The phenomenon of Theomatics wasn’t even KNOWN until the mid
> seventies.

Of course it wasn’t, and that’s part of the point also. Theomatics doesn’t make any predictions and it doesn’t yield any useful new knowledge. At best it can be used as a tool for identifying events in hindsight. You know what you are looking for already, and you find things that appear to confirm the significance of phrases that look
important.

Gary replied (all bold text from the original):



But you DO SO at the complete exclusion of the fact that the numbers
are significant because they are established IN THE TEXT and writings.
They are established both in language/writings and are given specific
relationships to people, times, places and subjects.

Your analogies do NOTHING but prove you can produce detached numbers!
You exclude that the phrases associated with these numbers are related
IN CONTEXT of the commucation of concepts of various central theme.
No. I have reviewed your site all morning… and you simply DO NOT MAKE
A VIABLE CRITIQUE that holds relevence whatsoever to support “debunking.”
All you achieved is to debuke yourself.


Of course it wasn’t, and that’s part of the point also. Theomatics
doesn’t make any predictions and it doesn’t yield any useful new
knowledge. At best it can be used as a tool for identifying events in
hindsight. You know what you are looking for already, and you find
things that appear to confirm the significance of phrases that look
important.

Wrong again. But, you’ve already debunked yourself.
So I will leave you to your own defunct debunkingness.


Then I replied:

But as I’ve already said, it doesn’t actually matter how the numbers are chosen. The number 111 will produce significant hits, and so will all other numbers. You claim that the number 111 is especially interesting because it is established as important by the text — although in reality, 111 is just one of thousands of numbers which could be regarded as significant depending on your interpretation.

But I don’t care how you pick your numbers. The point is that whether a number is “significant” to you or not, it will yield phrases which appear to relate to any topic you choose. It’s just that you care about the resulting phrases when the chosen number is “significant,” and you don’t care when the chosen number is not “significant.” It’s your own filter on the text that makes it meaningful or not, however you read it.

> Wrong again. But, you’ve already debunked yourself.
> So I will leave you to your own defunct debunkingness.

That’s a great word you’ve invented. Although I think I would have picked something like “debunkiferation.”

Gary replied:


You have missed the entire collective point.
I don’t know how to help you see it, but I have friends who are
PHd’s that get it… and several friends who are not even Christians
see the signifiance. If you see a copy of the book I have,
Sanford University’s Statistics division studied Theomatics
for several months and produced a report that said that
the Theomatics feature in the Bible is unique. They could
not produce the same results in other writings, or even
spiitual writings. And they said the chances of it just
happening were like 1 out of several hundred billion.
If I find the online re-print of this I will send it.

I replied:

> I don’t know how to help you see it, but I have friends who are
> PHd’s that get it…

It looks like you can’t. Maybe you should ask them to discuss it with me instead of you.

> If you see a copy of the book I have,
> Sanford University’s Statistics division studied Theomatics
> for several months and produced a report that said that
> the Theomatics feature in the Bible is unique.

Since “Sanford” doesn’t appear to be the name of an actual university, I have to assume that you mean either “Stanford” or “Samford.” Samford is a Bible college in Alabama, so I bet it’s that. Imagine that: a Bible college came to the conclusion that Theomatics is correct. I’m floored by their objectivity.

> They could
> not produce the same results in other writings, or even
> spiitual writings. And they said the chances of it just
> happening were like 1 out of several hundred billion.
> If I find the online re-print of this I will send it.

Well, I produced what appears to be a similar result in just twenty minutes on my computer, so perhaps they weren’t trying all that hard. I expect you’ll continue to repeat that I missed the entire point of Theomatics, as you have in each letter so far. So far I still don’t see the relevance of your argument that some numbers are more important than others. But I suppose that’s just a factor of my dysfuntional debunktionality.

That was the last message in this exchange.

So let’s see: in the final tally I see at least two arguments from (unnamed) authority, and three things I’ll say are confusion of cause and effect (the phrases were found in the Bible after the “discovery” of theomatics, therefore they were put there deliberately by someone who knew theomatics in advance).

Did I miss any others?

What’s your G.D.I.?

That’d be “God Delusion Index.” Mine is a healthy zero, thanks very much. Now, I’m not exactly sure how this fellow has set up his methodology. I do note that the more absurd a question is, the more points you’re awarded for answering yes. This may not be a, ahem, scientific poll. But I think his results are reliable. And funny.

More embarrassing press for Expelled

The more these clowns responsible for Expelled get any press outside the protected confines of the fundamentalist anti-science subculture, the more desperate and dishonest they look. Now the New York Times has published an article about the whole fracas involving Orlando Sentinel reviewer Roger Moore, the absurd press conference and screening he attended where people were required to sign nondisclosure agreements, and the total harshing of the movie he eventually wrote for the paper.

Hilariously enough, the Times doesn’t have to do anything other than let Ben Stein and publicist Paul Lauer speak for themselves to make them look foolish. For instance, the hilarious excuse Lauer gives for disinviting Moore to the screening is that “the film was not polished enough for professional scrutiny,” ironically implying that to pass muster amongst the fundamentalist Christian audience they’d hand-picked for their screening, professional polish wasn’t necessary. Hey guys, never let it be said you don’t respect your audience!

The article makes it abundantly clear just what a hypocritical exercise Expelled is. While on the one hand it assaults its imaginary villain, “Big Science” (led, no doubt, by Michael Myers in full Dr. Evil getup), for disallowing “academic freedom” in “suppressing” ID, on the other hand it clearly only intends to preach to the converted, gearing its marketing solely towards a fundamentalist audience already sufficiently scientifically illiterate to lack the knowledge to know how badly they’re being lied to. Keeping out critics from the mainstream media, or anyone who isn’t already part of the fundamentalist camp, is something they’re dead set on.

As has been remarked upon, if Stein and Lauer and the liars-for-God behind this movie really wanted a free and open exchange of conflicting ideas, they’d host numerous press screenings, not require nondisclosure agreements to be signed (talk about wanting to “control the message”!), and in fact enthusiastically encourage scientists and academics to come to those screenings and debate the film’s claims. That they don’t is clear indication they don’t want knowledgeable people exposing Expelled‘s campaign of deceit, at least not before that campaign has gained a foothold and spread even more anti-science poison among a populace who’s already been crippled by too much of it already.