Carnivalia and an open thread

Hey! Carnivals!

  • Accretionary Wedge #5. Rocks? How can they possibly find enough to write about rocks?

  • Carnival of Space #38. Space? Even worse. It’s mostly nothing!

  • I and the Bird #67. Birds? They’ve been at this for 67 weeks and there’s still more to be said about beaks, wings, and feathers?

  • Friday Ark #175. It’s almost all cats, so obviously this is the B-Ark, and they’re being loaded up along with all the hairdressers, insurance salesemen, and telephone sanitizers.


  1. says

    I was just wondering if Ben Stein would like to consider the divine theory for the Holocaust. You know, he blames “Darwinism” for it, but after all, it might have been God or Satan who did it.

    Well, you know, at least keep an open mind, and prevent the expulsion of Holocaust deniers from academia, at least if they’re espousing the divine theory of the Holocaust. For, until we have all of the evidence of the mental states and mechanisms of the Holocaust (echoing Behe), you really can’t rule out that God or Satan were responsible for all, or part, of the Holocaust. Only those who believe in the religions of naturalism and materialism would say otherwise.

    Ruloff hopes that the film will prompt congressional language to protect the free speech of people who dissent from Darwinism.

    Let’s tweak that, shall we?

    [parody]Ruloff hopes that the film will prompt congressional language to protect the free speech of people who dissent from blaming the Nazis for the Holocaust.[parody]

    And you know what “protecting free speech” means to these people, which is preventing real scientists from ridiculing the nonsense of religious pseudoscientists (iow, the opposite of actual free speech). Since, of course, there is already de jure protection of all speech (but not de facto protection from censure or ridicule from others for that speech), including ID and Holocaust denial.

    Give up actual science, and you can blame everything on the gods, including one’s charge of theft. “God put the gold bars from the bank in my house, not me.” Shouldn’t that defense be as legitimate and protected as Holocaust denial and ramming god-talk into science?

    That’s right, those who blame the supernatural for the Holocaust have every bit as much right to be hired in academia as those who blame intelligent design (in their case, it really isn’t supernatural) for it. Has-Ben Stein had better get cracking on this grievous injustice, where only natural causes are accepted for the mechanism of the Holocaust. The God who designed malaria for all the little children of the world might have just as easily chosen to design another arbitrary atrocity, after all, and we should be willing to give God credit for it.

    Glen D

  2. says

    In Every Stranger’s Eyes

    Those of you who know me and have followed my postings around the web are well aware that I never argue with creationists. I never dispute their belief in the truthfulness of the Bible or their interpretation of their religion. I’m not inclined to regard a person as a fool because I don’t understand them or because I don’t accept their version of truth.
    I do argue with evolutionists because they presume to represent science. They adopt the mantle of science, which I care greatly about, to give themselves legitimacy in their own eyes and (they hope), in the eyes of others.
    I hold to the view that we can understand ourselves better by identifying those traits and characteristics in others that most antagonize us. We meet ourselves every day in department stores, at school, in restaurants and in the pages of books (especially history books), magazines and on television. Each stranger that we meet is a reflection of ourselves, a portal to better self-understanding.
    Both evolutionists and creationists would be better served by not torturing those with whom they disagree, for certainly it is the tortured who soon enough turn into torturers. How quickly the worm can turn.

    Personally, I always defend science, because it informs us about the physical world better than any other method and it increases our store of knowledge more accurately than the use of pure reason alone.
    But a view that assumes that scientific understanding is the *only* kind of understanding that there is obscures and dilutes our insight and our harmony with the world. Science is a tool of the western mind, not all of mankind.
    Now I certainly can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, nor can I prove that he does. But I am sure of the fact that the *impression* of God (the archetype?) exists in *every* person. Whether God actually exists is mostly irrelevant. What is important is that large numbers of people believe it.
    I also believe that there is a huge advantage available to those who can locate this power, whatever its source, in their own individual self and use it for their benefit. Why should I deprive those who may have found this transforming energy in religion? What purpose does it serve me or them, to ridicule and condemn their beliefs as silly and unscientific as I might think they are?
    This doesn’t mean, of course, that I will allow others to impose their beliefs on me. The teaching of religion, while acceptable in church schools, is wholly unacceptable in public schools. Likewise, ideologies of any kind, especially those ostensibly validated by the mantle of science, are likewise unacceptable in public education.
    However, since religion is obviously an important part of my fellow citizens’ lives, I have no fear of sharing with them the joy and pleasure that they get from their mythologies, even though I’m a non-believer. I have no problem with a Christmas tree or a menorah in the town square or Christmas carols in the school concert or a moment of silence in a school day. These things do not threaten me, as they apparently threaten others. There’s little enough to feel good about in this uncaring and often cruel world; it seems a bit silly to deny people what comfort they may find, wherever they may find it.

  3. Sili says

    Because I read too many comics:

    Perhaps the pareidolia is more Phil’s thing …

    Sinfest has been on a roll lately.

    And we Danes can do it too. Due to the archival system the link only works today. It’s the one for 21. January.

    (Incidentally, Divus, the fat guy, is god for the world as we know it.)

    Divus: What’s your opinion on this quote: “We must modes the world after God’s command instead of wanting to bend God’s word to what people currently think about society”?

    Cassandra: I say that then they’re right, all those who warn against the march of Islamism: This is sharia-thinking of the most stupid kind!!

    Divus: It’s a quote from Mike Huckabee – on of the foremost US presidential candidates.

    Cassandra: That’s not funny.

    Divus: Not funny at all.

    (Idly, from the original quote it looks like Huckabee is an isis-speaker.)

  4. Sideways says

    Re: #4: So, to recap your main points, Julenissen:
    -you “always defend science” by “never argu[ing] with creationists”, only “evolutionists”
    -evolutionists and creationists “torture” each other, the one by doing scientific research, the other by calling for scientists to be muzzled, harassed, fired from their jobs, or assassinated
    -Only “Westerners” practice science
    -just because Christianity’s empirical claims are wrong, doesn’t mean they’re wrong, and you can’t “prove” anything
    -and you’re okay with public religious displays, as long as they’re Christian with maybe a token menorah.

    What an astonishing clog of banality, tripe, and slovenly thinking. Please don’t fool yourself: if you don’t value skepticism, empiricism, and careful scholarship, you don’t value science.

  5. says

    So I can repost the link to Martin Sheen in westwing taking on a christard,

    The clip ended before the best part. He then turns to Toby and says “that’s how I beat him” (referring to his first congressional opponent. Toby had asked him “how did you beat him”? and Jeb says “I can’t remember.)

    “West Wing”…best tv show ever? Nahhh….”Deadwood”

  6. says

    “Space” isn’t “really” mostly “nothing”, it’s “full of virtual particles”, but are they “really real” or “not”? Sounds like a theological argument, oh boy!

    (Well, maybe it is, per does God need to have structure etc. I said no due to the foregoing, some said well if matter can come from “space” in some energy-level shift who needs “God”, but I say the laws still need explaining, so there.

  7. Karen says

    Perfect, an open thread! Just what I needed!

    My kid brother serves at the family church, he’s 15. They make him serve every week, even though he hates getting up in front of people. Tomorrow, he’s supposed to give a speech on what the church and god mean to him. He’s understandably having trouble – and has confided in me that he doesn’t believe in god anymore.

    I’m at a loss. I thought we had cobbled together a perfectly inoffensive couple of paragraphs, but his mom says he failed to discuss what god means to him. She doesn’t know he’s been calling me with a ‘crisis of faith.’ I haven’t got a clue what to do.

  8. says


    Thanks for the link. Oh, and by the way, space isn’t mostly nothing. But it *is* mostly dark, so you just can’t see a lot of the interesting stuff that’s there…


  9. Owlmirror says

    but his mom says he failed to discuss what god means to him

    Get mom to discuss what god means to her. Then paraphrase, emphasizing its source; then discuss what mom means to him.

    This wins on several levels: It emphasizes his family loyalty and the audience will infer that the kid will retain loyalty to religion as he retains loyalty to family. Mom will eat it up.

    Or maybe not.

    Well, that’s all I can think of at the moment. Am I way too cynical? Probably.

  10. Another Karen says


    I hope your brother can come up with some variation of the inoffensive paragraphs and get through the ceremony. After that, I’d strongly encourage him to terminate his service.

    How can they make him serve every week, without his willing cooperation? Maybe he simply needs to not show up at church for a couple of weeks. (Although he might get no end of harassment at home.)

    If that doesn’t work, maybe he could stop letting your mom approve his speeches? After all, at 15 he’s old enough to speak his own mind.

    If nothing else, do encourage him not to be put off by speaking in public. For most of us, the only way we’ve learned to do it is by practice, practice, practice… and it’s a marvelously handy skill to have. It’s also helpful to learn how to speak, not in lies, but not necessarily exposing the whole truth as understood by the speaker. I’m not encouraging bad behavior here; but a few years from now, he may well find himself in the position of saying “the project is pretty much on schedule” without adding “except that three key people quit last week, and my manager hasn’t decided what to do about it.”

  11. Another Karen says

    Rocks? How can they possibly find enough to write about rocks?

    Easy for you to say PZ, living more-or-less on a relatively stable piece of tectonic real estate. Come spend some time in California. Or back in the Pacific Northwest; don’t forget, subduction zones are capable of the most intense earthquakes.

  12. charley says


    It’s probably too late for a suggestion, but see if you can convince him to come clean with mom about his doubts. If he is absent due to “sickness” today, she’ll probably cover for him at church. It may not be a pleasant conversation, but he can’t put it off forever.

  13. Karen says

    We spent quite a lot of time on it last night, and ended up with a speech that she deemed ‘very good.’ He decided that we’d be a hell of a team if we wanted to go into politics. I was pretty adamant that he not get up there and spout lies – but it took a lot of work to come up with a carefully worded set of paragraphs. It was not helpful that all the other teens who have given this speech recently talked about how God had given them Jesus to die for their salvation, and that God would help them into heaven. I can’t blame him for breaking down and calling his evil older sister.

    Among other things, he discussed some lessons learned from his elders there at the church, the values he particularly liked among biblical teachings, and the gratitude he feels for being in his particular place and time. I was damned proud.

    Soon come the tough parts – he’s going to have to talk to her about this sometime. I cannot convince him that she is far more interested in his sense of ethics than any specific religious doctrine, but he is afraid she’ll go nuts. Sweetly enough, he’s also worried she’ll blame me. I’m just glad we got through this part – I know the final discussion won’t end with, “Then you aren’t getting anything for Christmas!”

  14. Owlmirror says

    Soon come the tough parts – he’s going to have to talk to her about this sometime.

    Well, not necessarily. I’ve seen more than a few threads where people mention having difficulty discussing their current beliefs with their families.

    I know that in mine, religion is more or less a tacit no-discussion zone.

    Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: Religious parents in general have emotionally invested very strongly in their beliefs. Rational arguments against that religion, no matter how well intentioned, are going to be hurtful in emphasizing the double standards of reason, not to mention the wasted time and energy, involved in the religion. This is especially true if the arguments are coming from their own children.

    So it may well be, that the only choice between not lying and not being hurtful is silence.

    At least, that’s one perspective. Maybe getting it all out there would be cathartic.

  15. Karen says

    She actually took my lack of faith amazingly well – I never even got confirmed, which means I had refused to attend services sometime before 6th grade. I helped out in the nursury, though, and was active with a great service group, and she was far more interested in my being a good person than being one particular religion’s version of a good person. I can’t promise him she’ll be as accepting of him, but he’s old enough now that if he wants to choose another community organization to spend his time, I’ll support him wholeheartedly.

    I still haven’t heard from him! I’m dying to know how it went. He was afeared that someone would try to chastise him about it after church – which bothers me mightily about this congregation.

    I’m torn – it’s not like I ‘want’ my brothers to lose their faith, but at the same time, I’m damned proud of him.

  16. Owlmirror says

    she was far more interested in my being a good person than being one particular religion’s version of a good person.

    A potentially consciousness-raising question for him to ask mom: “Are people good because they believe in God and {your flavor of religion here}, or because they’re taught to be good, and believe in being good?”

    Although she may counter by claiming that God and good are synonymous. And further disputation may lead to, well, disputes.

    He was afeared that someone would try to chastise him about it after church

    If he does get this for not parroting the party line exactly, it’s long past time for him to leave this particular conformity-enforcing church.

  17. says

    It’s almost all cats, so obviously this is the B-Ark,…

    Hmmm, the B-Ark is perhaps not the simplest explanation of why you humans continue to feed, house and skritch all those kitties

    On the other hand I look forward to the day when our invertebrate overlords dominate the ark!