Open thread for AETV #879: Russell and Don on Failing the Environment

This is Don.  I hijacked this post so that I could share some of the links that I used for the show today, in case anyone else wants to follow some of the details.

The show idea came from David Swanson, “Why We Allow the Destruction of our Planet” in The Humanist magazine.  Another good article is How the Religious Right is Fueling Climate Change Denial.  Another prominent point came from this disturbing Newsweek poll on end-times belief.

Some of the Christian climate crazy is tracked at Right Wing Watch.

John Shimkus is a powerful Congressman who has had some nutty things to say about whether climate change is real.

James Inhofe is pretty sure climate change is a hoax, though he seems to be in the pocket of those with vested interests.

Some ministries have done multimedia presentations calling scientists idolaters and communists.

John Hagee, who peddles end-time snuff porn as part of his ministry is pretty convinced that bad weather is just all part of the plan.

Creationists say the cutest things

Guy P. Harrison sent me this:

22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution

Here are my answers.

  1. Of course.
  2. No.
  3. Almost completely.
  4. No.
  5. Rotation of the earth.
  6. They don’t.
  7. What about them?
  8. Deriving meaning is up to the individual.
  9. No: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
  10. That’s pithy and dumb.
  11. Who embraces it?
  12. Wrong.
  13. Sure, but tangentially.
  14. Because it’s been observed.
  15. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.
  16. Genetic variability.
  17. See #8.
  18. Fossilization is rare.
  19. Yes.
  20. Easily.
  21. It wasn’t a star, but don’t have enough data.
  22. If Americans come from Europeans, why are there still Europeans?

You’re welcome, creationists!

Climate change “skeptics” in the creationist role

We received an email from a relatively new atheist who is still coming to grips with various science-related issues now that he’s shed his theism.  He wrote:

After de-converting I’ve started reassessing some long held political beliefs that were based on my old religious beliefs. I’ve found that when I look at things from a skeptical point-of-view it is much easier to come to a rational political position than if I just accept things on faith or along party lines. Unfortunately I might be looking at things a little too skeptically. Here’s my current dilemma:

I’ve been studying the merits of accepting the concept of global warming. I am not a scientist, so I have to base my decision on the information that is available to me, which is usually dumbed down for mass consumption. I have done quite a bit of research outside of news articles, but I couldn’t really get far without hitting the political side of things. Unfortunately, I see way too many logical loopholes in the presentation; especially the Al Gore/liberal democrat presentation, which to be honest, sounds like it’s based on religious indoctrination.

It’s taken me quite a while to compose a reply, but the response touched on quite a lot of useful concepts about scientific claims, peer review, how laymen learn about complex scientific issues, and the political tactics of creationists.  While this isn’t always directly related to atheism, it’s one of those issues that comes up from time to time from atheist viewers, and it’s worth a discussion.

The rest of his letter, as well as my response, is below.

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The structure of social revolutions, part 1

As I see it, atheism as a movement is about two things.  First, it’s about skepticism and the advancement of knowledge free of dogma.  Second, it’s about achieving social change.  We want to remove the stigma of atheism, allowing atheists to be open and honest about their non-belief while minimizing fear of prejudice and hostility against them.

Speaking as someone actively involved with atheist visibility, I know that it can be really frustrating when it seems like progress is not happening.  In fact, people commonly write us to ask, “Why do you bother?  It’s not like you’re going to turn Christians into atheists.”

Social progress always happens slowly, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the possibility of long term change, and even reasons to believe that you might have a small part to play as an instrument of that change.  In this post and the planned follow-up, I want to talk a bit about taking a big picture perspective on social change.

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