That Dave Silverman fella is soooo intolerant

Ken Ham is promoting this goofy exercise in special effects by Eric Hovind, a movie that claims to portray the 6 creation days of Genesis by throwing money at the CGI folks. Now Ham is quite irate that Silverman is intolerant of the movie. Just look at the wickedness Silverman spouts:

“I’m not at all surprised at this kind of support,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “As we have seen in nearly every religion in world history, indoctrinated victims of religion will do anything, including pay large sums of money, to have their antiquated beliefs of immortality validated. Flashy movies may make Christians feel like there is validity to the myth that they are immortal, covering up the known and proven truth with special effects.”

Waaaait. Intolerance would be if Silverman were to use all the funds at American Atheists’ disposal to crush Eric Hovind, or was calling for a world-wide boycott of all of Hovindiana. But opining that the movie is ridiculous and self-serving, and that Christians will dump buckets of money on it? That isn’t intolerant at all. That’s just expressing an opinion (and an accurate opinion at that.)

That’s what scares me about the Christian right. They have a definition of intolerance that repudiates any disagreement with Christianity at all — when they can see a comment that simply says there is soon to exist a silly movie that uses special effects to patch over Christian insecurities, and then regard it as an intolerant act, you can imagine the depths of persecution they would execute if they had any more power.

Uh, bacon?

Ray Comfort, king of non sequiturs and nonsensical arguments, is at it again. Apparently our menus are dictated by God.

Ray Comfort: There was a big fuss recently in Sweden about lasagna and burgers containing horse meat. Sweden is atheist heaven, and so there shouldn't be any hard and fast table manners—other than "if it tastes good, eat it." So why aren't cats and horses on restaurant menus in most countries? It's because Judeo/Christian nations base what is right and wrong to eat on the rules God gave to the Jews. But if atheism has its way, we can expect restaurants to expand their menus to include eagle-wings, double-double whale burgers, fresh cat casseroles, and tasty little kitten fingers. When any nation forsakes God, it defaults to mob rule (what society dictates) and that can go anywhere it wants.

Ray Comfort: There was a big fuss recently in Sweden about lasagna and burgers containing horse meat. Sweden is atheist heaven, and so there shouldn’t be any hard and fast table manners—other than “if it tastes good, eat it.” So why aren’t cats and horses on restaurant menus in most countries? It’s because Judeo/Christian nations base what is right and wrong to eat on the rules God gave to the Jews. But if atheism has its way, we can expect restaurants to expand their menus to include eagle-wings, double-double whale burgers, fresh cat casseroles, and tasty little kitten fingers. When any nation forsakes God, it defaults to mob rule (what society dictates) and that can go anywhere it wants.

If America bases what is right and wrong to eat on God’s rules, what are we to say about bacon, mussels, crab, pork chops, catfish, calamari, baby back ribs, steamed butter clams, ham, lobster, pork loin, and oysters? And you know that the avoidance of eating horse meats is primarily a habit in English speaking countries, and that many other European countries have no problem with it (although it may be regarded as a low quality meat, since horses aren’t typically raised for slaughter — they have too many other uses)?

Rabbits and squirrels are also not kosher, but we don’t have any other proscriptions against eating them.

We don’t eat cats and dogs, not because the Bible says we can’t, but because we’re uncomfortable with eating pets. I mean, come on, unless you’re orthodox Jewish or a member of a few other sects that takes Old Testament dietary laws very seriously, food preferences are determined by a broader cultural tradition and we simply ignore antique religious demands entirely. When you get rid of phony god rules, you get to make eating decisions based on flavor, availability, and ethics, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Besides, everyone knows that when we fully forsake the gods, we default to veganism.

Cancer reminder!

I don’t want you to forget just because it has scrolled off the first page, but Freethoughtblogs is fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We’ve raised $5887 so far, but we’re aiming for $10,000…and I’ve also promised another cancer biology post if we reach $7500. So cough up if you can!

Another important fact: the Todd Stiefel Foundation is offering matching funds, so it’s like your money will be magically doubled.

There can be only One Problem, and it is Muslim

The Pat Condell fanbois have been telling me that I have been thoroughly refuted by Anne Marie Waters, so of course I looked, and was a little appalled. A lot of Brits seem to be afflicted with Dear Muslima syndrome, and she’s got it bad.

He began by calling Pat a “racist cretin”, thereby devaluing the once-powerful word racist even further than it already has been by people like him.

I’ve heard so many variations on this theme, over and over again. Recognizing that racism runs deeper than just the obvious is not devaluing it; it is opening your eyes to the entirety of the problem. If we insist that anything short of calling all black people “niggers” and organizing lynching parties is not racism, what are you going to call the bigotry that leads to people trashing CVs from people named Lashinda? The ones who swear at Sikhs because they’re Muslims? The ones who organize political campaigns to evict brown-skinned people from the country (by entirely legal means, of course!) because they’re all genital-mutilating jihad-preaching Islamicists?

I focused largely on Condell’s bizarre ranting against feminists, and Waters continues in the same vein. Condell said that

…they turn a blind eye to religiously endorsed wife-beating, forced marriage, honour killing, genital mutilation, organised rape gangs, sharia courts that treat women as less than fully human, and little girls forced to dress like nuns.

Waters responds by parsing the words ever more finely.

At no point did Condell state that “progressive western feminists” have “no problem” with the horrors listed above, but that the majority of them remain silent and do absolutely nothing about it. Simultaneously, all over Twitter you will find campaigns to stop Tesco/Asda/Whoever from stocking magazines that might contain a picture of a woman’s breasts.

Condell’s question is a good one, and I wouldn’t mind an answer either – where are all those feminists on matters concerning Islam?

Ah. Condell didn’t say they had “no problem” with those acts, he was saying they do “absolutely nothing about it”! What a vast and significant difference. My apologies. I should have just used Condell’s words directly — oh, I did, embedding his video and quoting directly — with no commentary at all. I should be just shilling for him, I guess.

I appreciate the selective reading by Waters, though. She asks where are all those feminists on matters concerning Islam…didn’t I list a bunch? Yes, I did.

I’m looking around at my circle of progressive feminists — is it Taslima? Maryam? Ophelia? Sikivu? Heina? He seems to be flinging about wild accusations with no basis in fact here; it’s hard to even imagine a woman not deeply indoctrinated into Islam who would excuse murdering other women for infidelity, for instance.

Waters tries to support her claim that feminists are happy to let Islamic violence against women slide by listing lots of examples of feminists pursuing other problems than Sharia law. She wrote to the Campaign Against Domestic Violence about when they were going to start their specific campaign against Sharia approved domestic violence; they didn’t reply. This is clearly a sign that they have a gigantic loophole in place to tolerate spousal abuse by Muslim men — or that they didn’t feel obligated to answer the nutter who’s demanding special attention be paid to one kind of domestic violence, when they’re obviously doing all they can to fight all of it. When a woman is being beaten, we shouldn’t focus on the color of the hands doing the beating, but rather on just stopping it.

Then she complains that the high profile story of Nigella Lawson being abused wasn’t also associated with a condemnation of Sharia law.

Women’s Aid, an organization that fights domestic violence, doesn’t have an official condemnation of Islamic violence.

The Fawcett Society, which works for women’s rights, doesn’t have anything to say about Sharia law, either.

The Liberal Democrats and Labour parties don’t condemn Sharia-based sexism, they just condemn plain ol’ sexism. How dare they fail to single out one kind of sexism for special targeting?

That’s really the gist of her whole case. She sneers at feminists who are working to end violence against women because they aren’t focusing narrowly enough on her obsession that Islam is the most important source of this evil. What are they supposed to do? Give thuggish white Britons a free pass while they deal with thuggish Muslim Britons? Or simply focus on the problem, rather than the ethnic status of some of the individuals causing the problem?

I think Condell does acknowledge that Muslim women are the ones who suffer, it is Myers who doesn’t. He added “You know that backward, ugly attitude? Islam didn’t invent it. We’ve got plenty of it to go around in the western world as well”.

This is a gross insult to every single suffering woman in every single Islamic state on the planet.

Yes, there is misogyny and violence against women in the west but to compare it to what women face in Islamic states demonstrates total ignorance, and is a crass belittlement of the true horror of life for females under sharia law.

Oh, really? I assure you, I also oppose female genital mutilation, I think Sharia courts should not be recognized as legitimate legal entities, and that the oppression of women in Islamic countries is horrific and is far more extreme than it is in the US or UK. I also think Islam is a nightmarish religion, as are all the Abrahamic patriarchical mythologies. Get rid of them all.

But how shall we get rid of them? Deport all their proponents? Make laws that single out certain religious beliefs as criminal? Treat immigrants and people of recognizable racial groups as suspect?

I favor education, secularizing, and setting a good example. The Muslim citizens of the US and UK are exactly that, citizens, and deserve the same rights and protections as the paler residents of those countries, and most importantly, also deserve the same opportunities. You want those Muslim immigrants to be full participants in your society? Stop treating them as an underclass.

I don’t want laws saying “it is illegal to beat your wife if you are Muslim.” I want laws saying “it is illegal to beat your spouse,” period. I don’t want specific proscriptions against halal meat, I want laws that guarantee humane slaughtering methods, period. I don’t want laws condemning the poor educations students receive in Islamic madrassas, I want requirements that every child get a respectable secular education. Period.

And when I see godless, secular people working to build a better world, I want them to recognize all abuses, not just the ones by “foreigners”. That Muslim women in Somalia are suffering greatly doesn’t mean we should ignore Christian women in Somalia. We should also pay attention to the Quiverfull movement and religious corruption of education and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There are a million problems in the world, why should everyone drop all concern for all of the others and pay attention to only the ones Anne Marie Waters and Pat Condell and Pamela Geller think are important?

Shall we tell Doctors Without Borders to stop what they are doing because it isn’t addressing the Muslim Problem? Shall I stop teaching at my university because most of my students are of German, Scandinavian, and Indian descent, with scarcely a Muslim among them? If I take the time to help a student learn about molecular biology while a woman is being raped in India, am I a moral monster? How can Ophelia Benson write about the horrific death of Savita Halappanavar when she wasn’t even Muslim? Catholic abuses must be ignored right now because there are Islamic abuses — and atheist abuses must be treated as nonexistent. Drop everything, people, any positive action you take to improve your community that doesn’t involve specifically hating Muslims is going to be read by a gang of bigots as detracting from dealing with the Most Important Problem in the Universe!

And how can you deny that Anne Marie Waters is the best judge of the relative importance of problems when she can say something like this with a straight face?

When women in west face violence, the law – though imperfect – tends to be on their side.

Right. Tell that to Marissa Alexander. Let her rot in jail while we all team up to defeat Islam right now.

Own goal!

I just wanted to share some fun tweets I got today. I was waiting in the airport, and some loon took offense at my criticisms of Pat Condell, and just had to vent…and managed to flame himself beautifully.

@patcondell @pzmyers the clown isn’t worth a response. #PZMyers is an embarrassment to white men everywhere. He is a faux feminist. #dhimmi

To “white men”? He’s a bit concerned with preserving the dignity of the White Race.

@pzmyers @patcondell You are disgusting. You represent every self loathing white in the world. You’re disgusting excuse for a white man

Gosh. Was that racist? I think it was.

@reggiereggie66 @pzmyers @patcondell anyone who sides with leftist theory, PZMyers BS or any other antiwhite parties are sick in the head.

For not being a racist, Pat Condell sure seems to attract some wild racists.

But — get ready for it — I agreed completely with this!

@pzmyers @patcondell calling Pat Condell a racist is like You saying you’re a feminist. #Fail

Yes, #Fail. Booyah!

A few other people commented on his meltdown, prompting, unsurprisingly, the sexist side of Mr @J77Crazy.

@DrJaneChi no one cares what you think. That’s why feminists and beta males hate everything. Go get some dick, you look like ya need it

See? Fun!

I should probably just block this guy because he’s evil and stupid, but he keeps coming back with jewels like this:

@thedxman @SpokesGay @pzmyers @patcondell no one here mentioned race, just a religion. You ppl are hopeless. Fuck all Whites like all of You

Martin Luther College looks like a total waste of time and money

New Ulm is a town in Minnesota. It hosts Martin Luther College (MLC), which, as you might guess from the name, is a religious school. An acting group in New Ulm planned to put on the play “Inherit the Wind”, but now they won’t be — MLC refused to allow them to use any of their facilities for practice, and also pressured the actors to drop out because evolution is contrary to their teachings.

MLC is the college of ministry for the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS), which believes in creationism that teaches the Genesis story as a factual, historical account. Schone said MLC was concerned about making it absolutely clear to its students, WELS members and the public about its beliefs and teachings on creationism. He said he recognizes the subtext of the play, but feels it is unfairly critical of creationism and that most people would only see the criticism.

"We felt it was not compatible with what [the school] teaches the Bible says about the universe and the world,"? said Schone. "This is a ministerial school. People employing our students need confidence about their views."

It is not unfairly critical to the bankrupt fairy tale of creationism, it is unfairly generous. I really like that last line, though. Apparently, one of MLC’s selling points is that they work hard to keep their students safely and confidently ignorant of any perspective outside the Wisconsin synod’s accepted interpretations.

That’s not an education. That’s carefully nurtured stupidity.

Now they want to poison knowledge

We all know that the creationists have been busily trying to redefine science so that they can call Bible-based faith that the earth is 6000 years old “science”, while empirical research and validated theories are relabeled “dogma”. But now they’re going to reach deeper into the educational process and redefine “knowledge”.

While most of us think that it is ignorance that needs to be stamped out, advocates of Kentucky’s new unapproved and forcibly implemented science standards are targeting … knowledge.

Just take a gander at the responses to my opinion piece in the Louisville Courier-Journal which were published on Monday. According to Brad Matthews, former director of curriculum and assessment for the Jefferson County Public Schools, one reason we need these unapproved and forcibly implement standards is to extirpate that bane of all modern permissivist educators: memorization.

"Science education has moved away from the memorization of many facts," says Matthews, "and toward understanding how the laws and principles of science are applied."

That’s right: students have memorized too many facts. Their heads are bursting with scientific facts. There is not enough room in their tiny little brains for an understanding of how these facts should be applied because all the room us currently taken up by scientific facts which these students have memorized. There is simply no space in those fact-crowded little heads for scientific concepts.

The solution is obvious to people like Matthews: clear all that knowledge out of there so they will be able to apply the knowledge they will no longer have under these standards.

Knowledge is now the rote memorization of “facts”, and educators who try to get students to understand concepts are now enemies of knowledge. I’m sure the taskmasters who run madrassas are now nodding their heads in complete agreement.

Brad Matthews’ statement is entirely reasonable, and does not warrant one iota of the hyperbole Cothran applies to it. The worst classes in the world are the ones where we sit students down and force them to memorize strings of data and then regurgitate them onto an exam. That does not imply that kids shouldn’t have to master some basic rote skills; sorry, gang, knowing your times tables is still important as a basic life skill.

But you still have to understand how to apply that knowledge. For instance, in cell biology, I expect my students to memorize the structure of a peptide bond (that’s not hard) and the basic properties of the classes of amino acids (only slightly harder), and we talk about some basic chemical reactions, like hydrolysis. They should be able to figure out how you break a peptide bond, without memorizing all the pairwise combinations of amino acids and how they’re split chemically. Once you know the general principle you can apply it everywhere!

Also, if you’re learning science, you have to learn how to fit new facts into an existing body of knowledge, and memorization won’t cut it.

What these guys are really afraid of is that deep ideas like evolution are natural inferences from all the data and facts floating around in science — if you learn how to think, you’ll inevitably figure out that creationism is bullshit, evolution actually works and makes sense, and that all those religious cranks have been lying to us. So in defense they want to truncate education: memorize what we already know (and even that they will tightly circumscribe), but don’t you dare teach kids how to think.