The title confuses me


It’s an article in The Humanist titled “Why Science Is Not in Conflict with Religion”…but its whole point is that religion is completely wrong. It argues that the existence of an interventionist deity is a question of science; it mentions that religions make scientific claims all the time.

All religions, particularly the “big three” Abrahamic religions, make claims about the natural world that clearly fall under the purview of one or more fields of science.

I’m reading the whole thing and agreeing with it, and wondering how they’re going to argue themselves out of this discussion of major conflicts to deny the existence of a conflict, and they sort of do, at the end.

Science will continue to advance. Predictions will be made and conclusions drawn, many that are accurate but others that will be in need of revision as further evidence is compiled. Humans will continue to gather information about every aspect of the natural world, and if findings don’t correspond with or support religious beliefs, as has happened throughout history, then the theists do themselves and humankind a disservice by denying objective evidence. The scientific process is neutral; it is objective and seeks only to discover new information, and thus is not in conflict with any entity besides itself as it self-corrects and achieves greater accuracy over time. If there is indeed a conflict, that conflict was fabricated by those whose agenda is driven by subjective beliefs and who fight to preserve positions that are no longer tenable in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Oh. There’s the problem. Science is objective and neutral and just plain true, therefore it’s not in conflict with mere subjective beliefs.

I’m sorry, you don’t get to do that. You don’t get to simply declare that your position is ultimately the correct one, that your authority is the universe itself, and therefore you aren’t really conflicting with anything that matters. This is a kind of bland scientism that obliviously steamrolls right over the issues in question.

There clearly is a conflict when a majority of Americans believe in a divine authority as the cause of the entire universe, and claim the authority of a supreme being greater than the universe as the source of their information. Waving that fundamental assumption aside as irrelevant because Science is not a valid way to address the question. The points the author brings up are valid, and they may refute the existence of a deity, but do not refute the existence of a conflict.

Anyone who is at all involved in science also knows that there isn’t simply a truth laid out in a clear path before us. We struggle within science to figure out what’s true, so it’s unfair to pretend it’s obvious what’s right in a conflict outside of science. Do the work. There is no shortcut.

It’s as if two fighters climb into a ring, and the referee looks them over and announces that A is 5 pounds heavier than B and has a longer reach, therefore this fight does not exist and A has won it. There are no victories by fiat, and you’d better realize that we really are in a battle here.

There is more evidence that ex-wrestling coaches will molest your children, than that transgender people will

Ah, Republican hypocrisy. Ripe and pungent, flowing everywhere. While they’re flailing across the land to gin up a new moral panic over transgender people needing to pee, they’re also rushing to defend a convicted child molester who was one of their own. Dennis Hastert, form speaker, is guilty of sexually abusing children when he was a wrestling coach, and is about to be sentenced. His pals have written letters begging for leniency, and those letters have been made public, because the judge refused to accept them unless they were made openly.

So here’s the verminous Tom DeLay:

So I know his heart and have seen it up close and personal. We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can.

So we get a heavy dose of Christian hypocrisy, too. If Hastert gets his integrity and values from Him, that really puts an insidious twist on Matthew 19:14 (Suffer the little children to come unto me).

I also have to ask: do transgender men and women deserve what they go through?

Change is entirely natural

What a surprise — once upon a time, way back when we lived in Pennsylvania, I voted for Harris Wofford for the senate. He lost. He was defeated by Rick Santorum. I haven’t heard much about him since we moved out west to Minnesota.

I’ve now learned that his wife died in 1996, 20 years ago, and a few years later, he started dating again. He’s been in a long-term relationship ever since, and is now, at age 90, planning to get married, to Matthew Charlton. No big deal; he loved his wife, Clare, sadly lost her to leukemia, and found new love with a same-sex partner.

Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between. I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness.

I thought that was wonderful. You love a person, not just the sex of the body they inhabit. And hey, you can keep romance alive into your 90s? Good news!

Sightings on the road

I don’t understand these billboards. What are the people who put these up thinking? Do they think Jesus might come tooling down I94 from Fargo in a tan Ciera and be reassured by its message? Jesus is the big guy. The Holy Ghost is the little guy, kinda funny looking, and he’s driving.

Jesus: Where is Pancakes House?

Holy Ghost: What?

Jesus: We stop at Pancakes House.

Holy Ghost: What are ya nuts? We had pancakes for breakfast. I want to go somewhere I can get a shot and a beer, and a steak, maybe. No more fuckin’ pancakes, c’mon man. C’mon man! Okay here’s an idea. We’ll stop outside of Brainerd. I know a place there we can get laid. What do ya think?

Jesus: I’m fuckin’ hungry now, you know!

Holy Ghost: Yeah, yeah. Jesus. I was just saying we could stop, get pancakes, and get laid.

[As they pass the Sauk Centre exit, they see a billboard]


[Jesus smiles]

Holy Ghost: Hey, look at that. You ever been to Sauk Centre?

Jesus: Nope.

Holy Ghost: Would it kill you to say something?

Jesus: I did.

Holy Ghost: “No.” That’s the first thing you’ve said in the last four hours. That’s a, that’s a fountain of conversation, man. That’s a geyser. I mean, whoa, daddy, stand back, man. Shit. You know I’m sittin’ here drivin’, doin’ all the drivin’, man, the whole fuckin’ way from Brainerd, drivin’, just tryin’ to chat, you know, keep our spirits up, fight the boredom of the road, and you can’t say one fuckin’ thing just in the way of conversation? Well, fuck it. I don’t have to talk either, man. See how you like it. [Pause] Just total fuckin’ silence. Two can play at that game, smart guy. We’ll just see how you like it. Total silence.

[They pass another sign]


Jesus: Unguent.

Holy Ghost: What?!

Jesus: I need Unguent!

At least, that’s the conversation I imagine as they’re on the way to the Big City as they pass these colossal non sequiturs.

These really are billboards mounted along the freeway. I don’t get the point, other than making a display of public piety, unless they really do believe Jesus cruises around on I94.

“Australia’s biggest ever environmental disaster”

The Great Barrier Reef is dying. We’re killing it.

The corals are bleaching. When stressed, They lose their symbiotic algae, and then they starve and die. What’s stressing them? Rising ocean temperatures. What’s making the ocean temperatures rise? Fossil fuel consumption.

So this was a bit ironic.

As news of the bleaching spread around the globe, the Australian government granted more approvals for what could be Australia’s largest ever coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin.

This isn’t just Australia’s fault or Australia’s disaster, though. We could point to the exploitation of oil shales by Canada, or the US’s eagerness to suck in more oil pipelines and blow out more CO2, or China’s enthusiastic conversion of coal into smog. It’s a world-wide catastrophe.

We seem bound and determined to destroy ourselves, do we really need to take out every ecosystem on the planet on our way out?

Who is the big bad stressor?

You could argue that humans were more impactful than the radiation.

You could argue that humans were more impactful than the radiation.

Boxplot has been running this comic series on the science behind the video game Fallout — basically its about the reality of radiation. You know it’s not good for you, right? It doesn’t give you superpowers, and mutations in somatic tissues are called “cancers”?

But at the same time, there are a couple of places where radiation drove people away — Fukushima and Chernobyl come to mind — and we’re currently seeing a remarkable rebound, as nature comes rushing in to flourish. There’s the temptation to wonder if maybe radiation isn’t as bad as the scientists say it is.

Rather, though, we should be making the point in the panel above and to the right. Humans are much worse for the environment than we think.