1. says

    Not religion, but I’d love to get some thoughts on this.

    On a certain ESL message board for teachers in Korea, there’s a current events forum with an 87-page evolution thread. It was originally started by a bizarre Hare Krishna creationist. I joined in about page 35 and have been active in debating the Hare Krishna and a new Young Earther with three or four other people. His newest argument has me completely speechless, it’s so…well, ridiculous, but it’s not something I’ve ever encountered before. He seems to be claiming that evolution isn’t a science because…it isn’t its own field of science and is “just” a theory? He seems to be saying that theories aren’t science, which I countered, and he then posted a list of all the academic departments at Berkeley and Stanford, saying: “Now you will find within those departments courses that discuss, from an evolutionary point of view, the different science disciplines [you won’t find any from a equally valid creationists view] but you don’t find evolution listed in either school as a separate discipline referred to as evolution. I rest my case. Evolution is not a science.”

    He also asks “…what is evolution, is it ‘a theory and area of study core to the entire science of biology’ or is it a science [discipline] in and of itself?” and “How can something that is a theory, be a science?”

    Among the replies from me and others have been definitions of “science” and “theory” and how they are related and how evolution fulfills both definitions, a semantic explanation of how “science” could be different from “a science” and, of course, ridicule. Any suggestions on what the root of his thinking here is? I know it’s unlikely to be based in logic or anything, but I was just curious if any veterans in this debate have come across this line of thinking before.

  2. jud says

    You could ask him, since Newton and Einstein only had theories of gravitation, not the “facts” of gravitation, and since there are no university departments of gravitation (rather than physics), why he doesn’t just float away. Actually, you might ask him to just float away in any case.

  3. Richard Harris says

    From my recent email correspondence with Prof Andy McIntosh of Leads U & the mis-named Truth in Science website (google him & them), these creationist folks are hung up on finding meaning & purpose in the universe, rather than realizing that we’re the repositories of meaning & purpose.

    Having made this category error re the universe, they then confabulate, with little regard for logic, to justify their nonsense.

  4. oldhippie says

    Funny video. So the protestants are still making fun of those lower class anti-birth control catholics….I wonder if there is any truth at all to this stereotype in this day and age.

  5. says


    There’s still some truth to it. If you find a family with more than five children there’s a 90% chance, in my experience, that they are either catholic or mormon.

    (However, I think most catholics don’t quite follow the pope’s directive on the evils of birth control…)

  6. justawriter says

    oldhippie, I don’t know if a 25 year old film clip still qualifies as “still” making fun, but I do agree it is fun. And now for something completely different…

    On last night’s BBC America series Wire in the Blood a religiously motivated character was feeling out the lead character Tony Hill as a potential recruit for his cult by saying something about suicidal people needing the bible for a purpose in life. To which Tony replied derisively, “Needing religion to keep on living? God help us!”

  7. Amstrad says

    My wife is a pediatrician. Her patient population is mostly hispanic and therefore probably catholic. She sees alot of young mothers on their second or third child.

    What gets me is that these young mothers don’t even want to hear the words contraception or birth-control due to them being catholic, but they all have pre-marital sex. I bet they all eat meat on Fridays too.

  8. quork says

    Joel Stein: An Atheist Tries Jesus

    I HAD NEVER BEEN to church before. I mean I’d been inside them for weddings, architectural curiosity and once, in college, to hear some guy play organ so I could hook up with Jenny Hodge. I’m pretty sure God will be cool with that because, as an omnipotent being, he knows how hot she was.

    In fact, I’d never realized how much of a death cult Christianity is. When we weren’t fixating on how awesome Christ’s murder was, we were singing about how terrific it was going to be when we bite it. Chipper up, Christians! There’s a lot to live for. They’re making more of those “Narnia” movies.

  9. quork says

    The next time someone says that Dawkins is driving Creationism, hit them with this:

    Escalating religious violence and tax dollars being funneled into the Bush administration’s “faith-based initiatives” have increased membership in atheist groups by over 90 percent in the last six years.

    Gosh, and I thought maybe it was just that Interweb thingie made it easier for people with unusual interests to find each other.

  10. Paula Helm Murray says

    aa: there is also some sort of new order Baptist group that encourages large families and home schooling to “protect the children from sinful though’. the Dugger family (featured on A&E or Discovery Health, don’t remember which) has 16 kids and wants more.

  11. quork says

    Anti-religion group joins Academy’s church program

    A group that rejects any religious belief, thought or practice in favor of “reason” has joined a religious instruction program at the United States Air Force Academy.
    Officials for the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs say they want to inspire the “non-religious” cadet to become the “noble animal” he or she can, just as Christian groups seek to have cadets become like Christ, or Jewish students seek to study, know and follow the Torah.

    This being the WingNutDaily, the latter half of the article is dedicated to spin, granting extensive column inches to a minister who claims that atheism/humanism is just another religion. He cites such reputable sources as Ann Coulter.

  12. jeffw says

    In fact, I’d never realized how much of a death cult Christianity is. When we weren’t fixating on how awesome Christ’s murder was, we were singing about how terrific it was going to be when we bite it.

    Makes you wonder what the heck they’re hanging around for? Why don’t they do us all a favor and snuff it? Like Jim Jones or Appleby.

  13. jack monday says


    I wonder if a similiar argument against religion has been made somewhere: suppose something similiar to the “end of days” is happening and there are great miracles all around. Some entity presents itself as god. But how to know this for sure? It could be something else. Satan or whatever, who tries to fool the people.

    “God wouldn’t let this happen” doesn’t apply, because god does a lot of wierd things and it’s wise and glorious nonetheless.

    So where can I read more about the argument of not being able to distinguish between god and a trickster?

  14. says

    Since we’re looking at videos this week, this one is most cool:

    and now for the REAL Zager and Evans!
    It ain’t Simon and Garfunkel but what the hay!

    (insert standard hypertext transfer protocol)

  15. Justin Kissel says

    But Catholics *do* allow contraception, it’s called NFP. Of course, their apologists fight tooth and nail to deny it. It’s “natural” and not “artificial”. It’s “passive” and not “active”. But none of the distinctions they contruct make a difference, as even their own Church Fathers condemned the method (ie. the contraceptive act of planning to have sex when the girl is least likely to get pregnant). Oddly, the Catholic apologists always seem to miss the passages where ancient Christians condemn that (cf John T. Noonan, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment By the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, p. 1, p. 16 and especially p. 120). Anyway, I guess the point is, Catholics are perfectly happy to let their people use contraception, as long as they can cover it up with a lot of theological jargon, so the fight is already half won. It is also a good sign that other conservative Churches have also begun to allow contraception, like some of the local Eastern Orthodox Churches.

  16. jeffw says

    Some entity presents itself as god. But how to know this for sure? It could be something else. Satan or whatever, who tries to fool the people.

    I think they call it the antichrist. According to the bible most people will be fooled. I wonder how falwell and robertson would interpret that, since whomever they ultimately endorse will most likely be the antichrist? Personally, I’m more interested in the whore of babylon.

    Revelation is definitely drug-induced literature. But it would be neat of all these revelation characters could be purchased as a cool action figure set, with the four horsemen, antichrist, whore of babylon, etc.

  17. says

    And while I’m in the mood:

    And where is Barry McGuire today?

    Yep, you guessed it.
    Born-again Christian.

    “And there was a real shedding of the old dogma, like boundaries of morality were being broken down and everybody was into the new party mode of just loving on each other. Which destroyed thousands of us. I lost 16 of my personal friends through that lifestyle.

    One time I was with a friend of mine who’s dead now, and we had this big block of cocaine about the size of shoe box. And we were slicing off lines and I was just ready to spoon a spoonful into my nose, and as I did I just started holding one finger on one nostril. I looked up, and here’s these posters on the wall, this house we were at. And there’s Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and Marilyn Monroe and Lenny Bruce and all these posters, and I looked at them with my one eye open and I turned to my friend and I said, maybe this stuff ain’t good for us. Like, what are we doing here? And now he’s gone. I mean, all those great wonderful friends are gone, because of the lifestyle we were living, without boundaries.

    I remember we woke up one morning at Denny’s house and John Phillips called. He said, you guys okay? We said, yeah, what’s wrong, what’s going on? He said, well, everybody’s dead over at Sharon’s house at Terry Melcher’s place. When it all finally started to unravel what had happened, I said, well, maybe we should have one rule: we shouldn’t kill each other. So gradually, and then I had an Italian roadster that I built, it took me five years to build it, it was stolen from me and stripped. I said, well maybe we should have another where we shouldn’t steal from each other. So then there was a lady that I was desperately, madly in love with who went off with a friend of mine, Scott McKenzie, and I said, well, maybe we shouldn’t rip each other off for our old ladies.

    So gradually, I just adopted the Ten Commandments (laughs). ‘Cause I started to see a reason for ’em, you know. Why can’t we do these things? Because you just can’t do those things. I didn’t know why. So I threw all the rules away, and everybody starting dying around me, and I wound up desolate and bankrupt, and I said, oh, that’s why. So I adapted that into my life. ”

    I don’t necessarily agree with his solution, but God damn, I do understand it.

  18. Stogoe says

    Seems the early christian church had a big problems with ‘early departure,’ as it were, so suicide was inserted as a sin to keep the faith, well, alive.

  19. says

    Justin wrote:

    “But Catholics *do* allow contraception,…”

    Yes, indeed. There’s even a birth control pill that the Pope has approved.

    It’s held firmly between the knees….

  20. says

    I think my favourite fact relating to the Monty Python video, above, is that this one scene blew the entire budget of the film.

    Apparently, when John Cleese found out that the production was now heavily in the red because Eric Idle and Michael Palin had spent so much on children singing and dancing, he more or less stopped talking to the rest of the Pythons for a month or two.

    As usual, t’is better to ask forgiveness than permission.

  21. says

    I will pray that you have a safe flight home.

    [God]Hm, there goes that accursed atheist PZed Mayers on a transatlantic flight. I’d so like to set his ass on fire for eternity in the circle of hell I have prepared for him. Why wait, especially since I could cause a freezer full of future snowflake babies to “miraculously” survive, so I’ll get even better press. I can see the headlines now… “God smites evilutionist atheist but spares frozen embryos!” Lessee… shall I take out a populated area while I’m at it?

    Hold the phone, it’s another fucking prayer. What the? George is praying for Meyers to have a safe flight home? Great, now I have to let him go. Why did I leave that stupid prayer back door open? Every one of those little security lapses makes me feel well-nigh vulnerable. I may as well have given root to neocons at NORAD. Oh, wait, I did, didn’t I. Maybe the day’s not a total wash yet…[/God]

  22. oldhippie says

    Iceland whaling
    Quork, slightly strange article. If, in truth, they do not eat the whales, they are certainly not taking enough whales to cut down on fish loss. I would cut the Icelanders a little slack – My impression is they manage their seafood stocks better than anyone else. They had to practically go to war with the British over their fishing rights many years ago.

  23. Richard Harris says

    “But Catholics *do* allow contraception,…”

    Yes, indeed. There’s even a birth control pill that the Pope has approved.

    It’s held firmly between the knees….

    That’s no goddam good. You put it in your shoe; it makes you limp.

  24. says

    Richard wrote:

    “That’s no goddam good. You put it in your shoe; it makes you limp.”

    Agreed. Your way is better than mine. My way, you can still f*** her from behind. Your way, not a chance!

    Here’s one I wouldn’t have believed until I actually saw it!

  25. myeca5 says

    In response to Paula waaay up the thread:
    Yeah, I saw the Dugger family thing too, it was something about building a ginormous house to house them all (17 now I guess). The creepiest thing is how the kids are all named with “J” after their dad Jim Bob. C’mon, Jinger is definitely pushing it…
    And what effect can a resurgence of huge families have ecologically? Sure they’ll be shielded from sinful thought, they’ll be huddled in bunkers as the toxic build-up from an earth over-populated by religious nuts spills forth…

  26. says

    CBGB’s has closed.

    Did you see Patti Smith on the cover of yesterday’s New York Times?

    The best thing was the picture of the bathroom inside the first section.

    Trivia Time…
    What seminal punk rock band of the seventies was directly inspired by this group, this song in particular, even lifting some of the riffs for their own use?
    Who woulda thunk it?

  27. bernarda says

    Barry Maguire missed a much better rhyme for his song.

    “My Blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’

    I’m just sittin’ here ejaculatin'”

    That is better than his “contemplating” which doesn’t really fit.

  28. says

    God, I DO miss the Ramones….

    More trivia:

    What was Joey’s main interest in the last years of his life and what well know TV commentator was he infatuated with?

  29. plunge says

    Here’s a man currently serving in Congress:

    “As for Armageddon, I just note with interest that’s what the Bible says. That it’s on the Plains of Megiddo. Right there in Israel. And it makes you wonder where this conflict’s all going to ultimately lead. And I happen to believe it will ultimately lead to what the Bible says.” -John Doolittle, Deputy Majority Whip, Secretary of the House Republican Conference


  30. Stephen Erickson says

    While checking in this morning for my orthopedics appointment, the woman behind the counter asked me, I shit you not, my “religious preference.” After laughing in disbelief, I replied, “I don’t care.”

    The second time I was asked, at a different desk, I was prepared and responded with “Greek orthodox.”

    I don’t think she thought it was funny.

  31. says

    Because Of
    by Leonard Cohen

    “Because of a few songs
    Wherein I spoke of their mystery,
    Women have been
    Exceptionally kind
    to my old age.
    They make a secret place
    In their busy lives
    And they take me there.
    They become naked
    In their different ways
    and they say,
    “Look at me, Leonard
    Look at me one last time.”
    Then they bend over the bed
    And cover me up
    Like a baby that is shivering.”

    Indeed, there is only one Leonard Cohen.

  32. bernarda says

    Racist bigots like charlie wagner make me shake my head, “How come Jewish guys make such great singers and songwriters?”

    What makes any or all of these guys jewish? Do they all believe in the supertitious nonsense of the bible? How can you be jewish if you don’t believe the dogma?

    I also notice that charlie omitted women. As the monotheist religions are all viciously misogynist, I have my suspicions about charlie.

  33. Owlmirror says

    “Greek orthodox.”

    I don’t get it.

    Now, “Greek orthopedics” might have been funny.

    Where was this, and why on earth did they want to know?

  34. Steve_C says

    Bernarda I don’t think saying there’s some great Jewish song writers and singers and wondering what about Jewish culture creates that if it does at all is racist.

    There’s tons of Jews who seem to want to entertain, be it as writers, actors or comedians too…

  35. Steve_C says

    WOW. Big mistakes…

    Bernarda I don’t think saying there’s some great Jewish song writers and singers and wondering what about Jewish culture creates that if it does at all is NOT racist.

    I repeat NOT racist.

  36. Stephen Erickson says

    >> Where was this, and why on earth did they want to know?

    Birmingham, Alabama, and presumably because there are enough religious wingnuts down here who actually give a crap what religion (if any) their doctor practices.

    My assumption was that there aren’t many practicing Greek orthodox down these ways, they would be much more used to methodist, baptist, etc. Wasn’t implying that Greek orthodox is innately more or less humorous than any other denomination.

  37. Stephen Erickson says

    “Jerry, it’s our sense of humor that sustained us as a people for three thousand years.”

    “Five thousand.”

    “Five thousand, even better.”

  38. bernarda says

    If charlie had a clue, he would have included Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield, among others.

    Bob Dylan at Newport with Mike Bloomfield.

    One of the best Dylan’s ever.

  39. CCP says

    charlie, what were Barry’s personal experiences that led him to accept the first 3 commandments?

  40. bmkmd says

    quork “…a minister who claims that atheism/humanism is just another religion. He cites such reputable sources as Ann Coulter.”

    There’s a nice retort to that kind of comment, with deferrence to David Eller in his Natural Atheism, i.e. responding to references to Atheism or Liberalism as just a religion by asking, “Is that a complement or a criticism?”

  41. says

    Stephen Erickson wrote:

    While checking in this morning for my orthopedics appointment, the woman behind the counter asked me, I shit you not, my “religious preference.” […]

    I think I would reply, “I hope the doctor’s not so incompetent that I feel like resorting to prayer!”

    Or maybe you should say you’re a Pastafarian – praise His Noodly Appendage!

  42. says

    Have you been following the Michele Bachmann debacle on the Dump Michele Bachmann blog as well as the main stream press? It seems a certain Living Word Christian Center church may be losing its tax exempt status for endorsing Ms. Bachmann’s evangelical bid for congress.

  43. suirauqa says

    Call it coincidence, but PZ’s impending return was marked for me today by an incident that is at once funny and sad. A grad student in my lab teaches biology part-time to Jewish undergraduates in a Jewish university (which shall go unnamed). She brought in their test sheets, and was correcting them in her spare time. Student after student, she noticed a strange, identical mark at the right top corner of all anwer sheets; all she could make out was that it was written in hebrew. So she asked our Jewish research tech if it meant anything. It turns out, that that mark is applied to ‘bless’ the test sheet; not only that, the ‘holy’ test sheet apparently cannot be thrown in anger or irritation, by a Jewish teacher – even if there is enough cause for aggravation in the test sheet itself. I don’t know – perhaps this practice may even be required by their university which is guided by strict religious rules. Unfortunately for them, it had no effect on my young friend, who neither is Jewish, nor suffers fools gladly.

    This funny attempt at propitiating some unknown entity to get a better test score was kind of sad actually, because these Jewish youngsters are steeped in religion and indoctrinated at a very young age; in reality, it perhaps ruins their straight-thinking abilities. Even without the frantic call for divine intervention, some of them wrote perfectly good answers, but would this enforced dependence on an unknown entity ever give them the desirable qualities of self-assertion and confidence?

  44. Stephen Erickson says

    Allah save me from being as “straight-thinking” as idiots like the previous commenter.

  45. Millimeter Wave says

    I will pray that you have a safe flight home.

    I’ll just hope that prayer isn’t the basis of the airline’s maintenance procedures.

  46. says

    By the Way, Dawkins was awesome, though Colbert’s format wasn’t the best thing for his message. Regardless, I was laughing my ass off at the obvious stupidity of Stephen’s satire. All in all, the interview was good.

  47. J Daley says


    Richard Dawkins was just on the Colbert Report!


    It was awesome. They were both hilarious!

    I totally pooped my pants.


    I’m sure everybody knew this already, but I didn’t. Now I’m totally going nuts.

  48. Ian H Spedding says

    Dawkins was great and quite unfazed by the odd ‘boo’ from the audience.

    Now, if he and Coulter could just be got together in the same studio…

  49. Michael Martin says

    Your answer about your religious preference struck a chord with me, only I think I would answer “Geek Orthodox.”

  50. Richard Harris, FCD says

    If i were asked my religious status, i could answer that i’m a Minister of the Church of Google. (You know how to find out about it.)

    Upon reflection, i guess i wouldn’t, because they wouldn’t understand that. I’d just say that i’m an atheist.

  51. Richard Harris, FCD says

    I might also add that i’m a Bright & a Humanist, if i thought that they might have an available pigeon hole for such information.

  52. Richard Harris, FCD says

    Oh jeez, i should’ve said to google for “The Church of Google”. I just didn’t know how many heresies were out there!

  53. amphioxus says

    Can someone post a working link for the Colbert Report with Dawkins, please?

    This one worked for me:

  54. Stephen Erickson says

    “Bright” is such a painful euphemism. Let it die.

    Like napster, youtube is too good to last.

    Colbert is tha man.

  55. Richard Harris, FCD says

    Stephen Erickson, ‘Bright’ is not a euphemism, because there’s nothing wrong, (in the sense of overly harsh), with ‘atheism’. And surely it can only be painful to those who think the opposite is ‘Dim’. It isn’t. The opposite to ‘Bright’ is ‘Super’.

  56. Stephen Erickson says

    I can’t be the >only< philosophical naturalist that despises that term. I mean, c'mon guys, maybe it sounded good at 2am at the Mensa barbecue, but you wake up the next day, get over your hangover, and move on with your life.

  57. suirauqa says

    I am sometimes amazed how PZ’s blog attracts personified weirdness, such as O’Brien and a few others, just as Tara’s blog at Aetiology has attracted jspreen. The fact that they all turn out to be overtly religious, mostly ignorant wingnuts may or may not be a coincidence. I see that the latest addition to that ilk is Stephen Erickson, who derives comfort from peppering the discussions with poorly articulated, disjointed show of contempt for atheism and rationality, or anything portraying the harms wrought by organized religion. Or, is this a rather transparent effort to cover up his own inadequacies by indiscriminate ejaculations?

  58. Stephen Erickson says

    suirauqa, I have contempt for neither atheism nor rationality. I actually enjoy well-written, intelligent freethought that is based on more than second- to third-hand accounts of a culture about which the writer knows nothing.

  59. Stogoe says

    So only True Christians can talk about how terrible the lessons of Christianity are? Ha. Ha, I say. Jolly good, jolly good, eh, wot wot?

  60. suirauqa says

    Stephen Erickson, I am glad that you chose to respond in complete coherent sentences. Good for you that you have “contempt for neither atheism nor rationality”. That august attitude did not quite come across when out of the blue you called me an idiot in response to my post. Did you even read the posting in its entirety? I related an incident involving my colleague and her students, and yes, I did see that mark with my own eyes. Where do you see “second to third hand accounts” in that?

    And for someone who enjoys “intelligent freethought”, you assume a whole lot, don’t you? How did you know this was a culture about which I knew nothing?

  61. quork says

    Republican misbehaviour:

    AG: Voter warning linked to GOP campaign

    SANTA ANA, Calif. – State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent to thousands of Southern California Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

  62. quork says

    The Secular Coalition for America “Find an Atheist, Humanist, Freethinker Elected Official” Contest

    The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) will award one thousand dollars ($1,000) to the person who identifies the highest level atheist, humanist, freethinker or other nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States of America.* The SCA is an advocacy organization representing the interests of nontheists in the nation’s capital.

    Although our Constitution states, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,” the religion of our elected officials figures prominently in America. As a nation, we have made progress in preventing religious bias from influencing some electoral choices. John F. Kennedy in 1960 was the first Roman Catholic to become President and Keith Ellison from Minnesota, if elected this November, would become the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. Members of other groups once precluded from the political arena because of prejudice (such as women, African Americans, Jews, Mexican Americans, Mormons and gay/lesbians) have been elected to public offices; however, atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists are invisible in the electoral arena.

    Nontheists contribute to the American way of life in all other professions including scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors, authors, engineers, and soldiers; they should not be excluded from public service or feel the need to remain in the closet.

    Help the Secular Coalition for America find the secular public servants courageous enough to acknowledge they are nontheistic.

    The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) will award one thousand dollars ($1,000)* to one person who identifies to the SCA, pursuant to the terms and conditions below, the highest level self-identified atheist, humanist, freethinker, or other nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States of America.

    Note: This prize is not to “out” closet athiests, it is clearly intended to reward officeholders brave enough to have “outed” themselves.