I blocked these guys long ago, why are they clogging up my mailbox now?

I’m suddenly finding myself getting swarmed by evangelicals from KKMS/AM980, the Christian talk radio station. I’d blocked them, but I guess they changed something to get past my filters. So what am I getting?

We’d like to add to your family’s movie library!

I could win a 6 pack of Kendrick Brothers movies! Nope, not interested.

Do you trust God in everything?

No.

Share this gift with your pastor!

It’s a pastor appreciation event sponsored by Crescent Tide Cremation Services. No pastor, not interested in cremation services yet.

Have you ever questioned how God is at work in the darkness?

I question everything anyone says about gods, so maybe. Except this is an ad for a book, so not that one.

Here’s my favorite!

Thank you for your loyalty! Here’s your 20% off code!

I am so loyal that I just refreshed my filters to delete all their messages, now and henceforth, until they tweak things again. Which they will.

Tired creationist arguments, again

Oh god no, not another Ray Comfort special. He (or rather, some outfit called Genesis Apologetics, which for some unfathomable reason thinks Ray Comfort’s narration is a selling point) has a new movie out, titled “Genesis Impact”, and of course it’s a wretched pile of incoherent nonsense. Here’s the trailer.

It starts off with the patented Ray Comfort trolling technique of hitting random lay people with rapid fire questions of the creationist flavor, which they are not prepared to answer with substantive evidence. They aren’t scientists, Ray. We know that if they were scientists, you’d chop out their answers on the editing room floor, because that’s how you roll.

But then, there’s a difference: this movie has a premise, beyond just Ray bleating out questions at random strangers, like most of his “movies”. In this one, a woman is reminiscing about the time she studied “both sides” of the evolution question, and confronted a science guy at a museum and peppered him with questions he couldn’t answer. I guess if you don’t have a confused civilian handy, you just script up a confused scientist and have a young girl crush him with creationist dogma. This is also a familiar genre; it’s basically “Big Daddy” in movie form, where the adorable Christian confronts a professor with imaginary problems in evolution, and he goes staggering back, trounced and questioning his life choices.

In this one, our Christian teenager troops up on the podium and says, “Sir, I have a question.” The “sir” is a giveaway. I’ve never been addressed as “sir”, ever — it’s practically archaic, calculated to make you think this is a respectful approach, when it’s anything but. She says, “Isn’t that an unusually long time without any transitions between apes and humans?” What does that even mean? What is the expected time? How do you judge an appropriate length of time when you are simply refusing to believe in any transitions at all?

“It looks like a lot of speculation, even exaggeration,” she declares, this random uninformed Christian. How would she know? Is she reading the scientific literature? “The earth is billions of years old, which allows evolution to take place,” answers the scientist, which isn’t even a reply to the statement she made. Cut to rapt audience, who look surprised that someone has confronted a scientist with these “difficult” questions. Right. I can tell already there’s going to be a lot of scripted stupidity in this movie, with the creationist making absurd claims and getting no pushback from the scientist…because the scientist’s answers are all written by a creationist know-nothing.

“I don’t mean any disrespect, but I believe that the theory of evolution is the most fluid, ever-changing theory on the face of the planet,” she says with a smile and a shrug beneath her weird shaggy wig. That certainly sounds like a Comfortism to me, the constant pretense of being respectful, because when you’ve got no meat to your answers, you think you can substitute for it with tone.

Fuck that noise, little girl. We’re not going to let you Gish gallop through a dozen ill-formed questions for the next hour and 7 minutes, we’re going to drill down through one and I’ll show you why it’s a stupid question, and we’ll go into the science behind what real paleontologists and geologists and evolutionary biologists say, and then you can go back to your Bible.

The whole godawful movie is on Amazon Prime, and I’ll probably watch the whole thing this weekend. Fortunately, it’s only 67 minutes long. Unfortunately, creationists can pack an awful lot of bullshit into an hour. Here’s the blurb:

Secular museum docent (Reggie McGuire) presents his best case for evolution at the natural history museum, but Christina (Hannah Bradley) has a few questions at the end of his talk that turn the tables… Christina’s questions dismantle evolution and her presentation of the Bible’s account of origins awaken many to the truth.

<snort> Yeah, right. She’s going to “dismantle evolution” with stupid questions. I’ll probably live-tweet the experience. Who knows? Maybe at the end I’ll emerge believing in the literal truth of Genesis I. (No, I won’t. I’ve attended this rodeo many times before, and it’s going to be an hour of garbage.)

How can you tell when a creationist is making stuff up?

I read this paper, “Using statistical methods to model the fine-tuning of molecular machines and systems”, a while back, and it was obvious crap. You can tell right there in the abstract where it makes a promise it does not deliver on, that “molecular fine-tuning…challenges conventional Darwinian thinking”. It then goes on to make a statistical argument that the probability of producing a functional protein with chance and selection is infinitesimal, that the waiting time problem is a killer for Darwinian mechanisms (it isn’t), and cites Behe extensively. The authors, Thorvaldsen and Hössjer, might as well have fired off a flare that exploded in flaming glitter letters that spelled out “I AM A CREATIONIST”, followed by Thorvaldsen doing a happy dance because he got his garbage published in a legitimate journal.

Now the journal has published an apology (not a retraction, an apology — it’s weird).

The Journal of Theoretical Biology and its co-Chief Editors do not endorse in any way the ideology of nor reasoning behind the concept of intelligent design. Since the publication of the paper it has now become evident that the authors are connected to a creationist group (although their addresses are given on the paper as departments in bona fide universities). We were unaware of this fact while the paper was being reviewed. Moreover, the keywords “intelligent design” were added by the authors after the review process during the proofing stage and we were unaware of this action by the authors. We have removed these from the online version of this paper. We believe that intelligent design is not in any way a suitable topic for the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

Hold on there, cowboy. Your reviewers and editors were unable to figure out that this was a creationist/intelligent design paper except that the authors added the keywords “intelligent design” post review? And you think removing the keywords now is sufficient action? If “intelligent design” is not a suitable topic, why is the paper still there with only the most superficial change?

I am not impressed with the perspicacity of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, and suspect that whoever wrote that strange disendorsement is lying.

Catholicism…REVOKED!

Were the right magic words spoken during your baptism? If not, you might not be truly Catholic, according to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

For centuries, the baptismal formula in the Roman Catholic Church has been: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Most Protestant churches have also used this formula.

Toward the end of the 20th century, however, a few baptismal ministers began tinkering with the formula. A few ministers have said “We baptize” to bring out the familial or community dimension of the baptism.

For example, a priest might say, “In the name of the father and of the mother, of the godfather and of the godmother, of the grandparents, of the family members, of the friends, in the name of the community we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

In June the congregation, which deals with doctrinal issues, ruled that a baptism was invalid if the minister said, “We baptize” instead of “I baptize.…”

This kind of literalist stickling has led to major imaginary problems! One priest saw in a video of his baptism that the guy said “we” when soaking his head, and that meant his life was a lie, and he was never a Catholic or a priest.

But since his ordination in 2017 was invalid, people who went to Hood’s “Masses” did not really attend Mass and did not receive consecrated bread at Communion. It also means that his absolutions in confession were not sacramental. His confirmations and anointing of the sick were also invalid. When he performed these sacraments, he was not even a Christian, let alone a priest.

And look at this — clearly, SJWs and their goofy pronouns are servants of Satan, undermining Christianity by spawning hordes of the unshriven.

This isn’t the first time the formula, which the congregation holds was mandated by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, has been tested. Some priests have tried gender-neutral nouns: “I baptize you in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier.” Others used “Creator, Liberator and Sustainer.”

As an atheist, I have to ask why some Catholics think God is so stupid that he can’t understand meaning and is ridiculously focused on the precise formula of the words. I mean, this is the same god who accepts Catholics baptized in Latin, Spanish, German, French, Ukrainian, and Chinese, where the specific words are entirely different from English, so shouldn’t he be fully capable of grasping a range of minor variations in phrasing? He sounds a bit like my bank voice recognition system, which only accepts a limited range of words as input and gags if I mumble a bit.

Still, I halfway wish it were true. It would be hilarious if I got to heaven and got admitted because my childhood priest said the right incantation while the Pope got kicked out on a technicality. Although it would also kind of suck if you were condemned to an eternity in hell and had to tell your roomie in the Pit that you were there because your priest used gender-inclusive language, while he gets to brag about being an axe-murderer.

The lies that form the popular misunderstandings of genetics

Marcus Ranum discusses an outrageous article on racist abuses of genetics.

It’s really depressing if you study the history of how Darwin’s great idea was immediately grabbed and warped into social darwinism (racism), and scientific racism (racism) with a sprinkling of pop psychology and garbage social science thrown in, to create a witches’ brew of wrongness that is still with us, to this day: [politico]

“You’ve never seen him sick. You’ve never seen him without energy,” Brenden Dilley, a self-described “MAGA life coach,” told his viewers on his radio show Friday. “[He’s] not walking around with weak-ass, p—- f—— genetics. He ain’t got those liberal genes. These are, like, god-tier genetics; top 1-percentile genetics.”

That’s a nearly perfect summary of the stupidity and ignorance of scientific racism. I’m not going to try, but I’m pretty sure one could write a book, or a goodly thick pamphlet, just digging into what’s wrong about that chucklefuck’s stated beliefs.

You could, but it would be exhausting and would have to start with teaching biology from scratch. Just the idea that there is something called “god-tier genetics” or “top 1-percentile genetics” has me reeling at the depth of the misconceptions in this guy’s head. There’s no such thing, he has no idea of what genes Trump has, and he probably couldn’t even explain what a “gene” was if you pinned him down on it, or what makes for “god gene” vs a “mere mortal gene”.

That Politico article, by the way, is just horrible lazy “journalism” — it quotes MAGA twit after MAGA twit, reporting their idiot takes without taking any time to point out that they’re all wrong, anti-scientific, and based on nothing but ignorance and fantasy. Brendan Dilley is a high school graduate (at least he got that far) and is now a “MAGA life coach” and “works in the world of commercial real estate development” and has now had his dumbass ideas about genetics promoted far and wide without any pushback from Politico. This is one of the ways we got into this situation, journalistic outlets dumping bad ideas on the media without any critical thought…and further, specifically seeking out the very worst ideas to publish for their entertainment value.

Where’s the evaluation of their sources? Where’s the statement that Brendan Dilley is an unqualified buffoon who is wrong about genetics? At the very least, where’s the “he said she said” journalism, the lowest form of reporting, in which they balance the bullshit with comments from real geneticists who know what they’re talking about? Politico can’t even do that. Journalism has a responsibility to inform in addition to dumbly reporting the opinions of fools.

As the Wormhat turns, so goes the nation

That was a busy weekend, but I still disciplined myself to crank out a Sunday video, even if it didn’t appear until the 11:00 hour. What I talk about here is the sad case of Hans Wormhat, a YouTuber with a very strange channel.

What’s interesting about him, though, is that he is neither stupid nor crazy — he’s a person with an absurdly strong ideological and religious commitment that he is furiously rationalizing. The world is coming at him with both barrels, but he carries all the baggage of fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity, and his way of reconciling reality and his faith is to deny everything that causes a conflict. Noah’s Ark was real, but couldn’t possibly have held millions of species…therefore, there are Illuminati high schools with sports teams and mascots used to train up puppeteers, fursuit wearers, and animatronics experts who populate the world with fake animals, with the intent of undermining your faith in the simple truth of God, who created a flat plate world with a firmament above and just a few useful, normal animals for people. There are no sharks or penguins, they are demonic creations built by Satan to deceive you into denying Jesus.

He has crazy ideas, but take him and his kind seriously: he’s not crazy or dumb, he’s just way way out there on the spectrum of ideological zealotry. He’s not all that unusual, though. He’s like a QAnon or Trump supporter with the dial turned up to 11. Ignore his kind and next thing you know, you’ll be living in a country that has come totally unmoored from reality.

On a lighter note, if you watch to the end, you’ll see my lovely list of Patreon supporters in the scrolling credits, and I also put in some drone footage shot from 60m above my front yard. It’s fall! The trees are turning all orange and yellow! I think. Unless the local Illuminati high school students have been out pranking us again with paint.