Dembski is just another wacky Christian

How do people stomach this stuff? Bill Dembski was on the Bible Answer Man broadcast, so I tried to listen — the host goes on and on about his dogma, and it makes no sense. “Here’s what the Bible says, it’s true, therefore you have to believe.” And then he introduces Dembski as someone who uses science to justify Christian superstition in a “biblically satisfying” way.

Then Delusional Dembski gets on, and the first thing he does is claim the evidence for design in nature has been getting stronger and stronger…and he claims that the reason scientists haven’t been embracing it is the problem of evil. No, wrong, it’s because there is no evidence for design. He cites things like the rabies virus that seems to be designed to destroy human nervous systems, and fire ants, and parasitic wasps, and that these are problems for Darwinists (?) and that this natural evil has to be explained. His explanation: the Fall. But wait, he also admits to being an Old Earth Creationist; if natural evil was present long before Adam and Eve, how can the Fall be an explanation?

Easy. The effects of the Fall work backward through time. God created a world containing evil in anticipation of Eve chomping on an apple.

That was enough. I stopped right there. I’m not a psychiatrist, so listening in to two lunatics babbling at each other isn’t particularly interesting.

Wait…let’s add a third lunatic. Ken Ham was outraged at Dembski’s “outlandish statements” and is very peeved at the Bible Answer Man. They’re heretics! He doesn’t find them outlandish because they’re babbling pseudoscience, it’s because they don’t immediately reject this old earth stuff to accept Ham’s literal interpretation of the Bible. Ham is upset because Dembski is undermining the authority of the Word of God.

I say put ’em in a cage match and let them tear each other apart.

Monckton rebuked

Christopher Monckton, the lunatic climate change denier, has been trying to trade on his false authority, claiming to be a member of the House of Lords.

When asked by ABC Sydney’s Adam Spencer if he was a member, he [Monckton] said: “Yes, but without the right to sit or vote … [The Lords] have not yet repealed by act of parliament the letters patent creating the peerage and until they do I am a member of the house, as my passport records. It says I am the Right Honourable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. So get used to it.”

So the House of Lords has published a formal reply.

The letter, sent by David Beamish, clerk of the parliaments, to Monckton last Friday and now published on the Lords’ website, states: “You are not and have never been a member of the House of Lords. Your assertion that you are a member, but without the right to sit or vote, is a contradiction in terms. No one denies that you are, by virtue of your letters patent, a peer. That is an entirely separate issue to membership of the House. This is borne out by the recent judgement in Baron Mereworth v Ministry of Justice (Crown Office).”

Get used to it, Monckton.

I don’t get the point, though…should anyone be swayed by a peerage or an appointment to a congregation of upper class twits, anyway?

More crime!

I don’t know whether to be pleased or dismayed at this story of an obsessed Minnesotan who turned to crime for petty revenge. Barry Ardolf got mad at his neighbors, the Kostolniks, because they reported him to the police for kissing their 4-year-old child on the mouth, which is already a bit creepy, and then he got really creepy.

The man, a Medtronic computer technician, downloaded a Wi-Fi hacking program to tear into his neighbors WEP encryption. Ardolf created a fake Myspace page as well as several fake emails for Matt Kostolnik. The hacker then posted child porn on the Myspace page and emailed the same child porn to co-workers at Kostolnik’s law office.

To top it all off, the Blaine hacker sent death threats to Vice President Joe Biden and other politicians from Kostolnik’s Yahoo account. This granted Kostolnik a visit from the secret service who had traced the emails back to his IP address. One of the emails told Biden, “I swear to God I’m going to kill you!”

The good news: Ardolf was caught, tried, and convicted. That’s one lunatic punished and off the streets.

The worrisome news: he got sentenced to 18 years in prison with a further 20 years of supervision and restriction from computer access. That seems excessive for a non-violent crime, and for an individual who seems to need psychological help. But then, read this story of another grudge-bearing, angry, vindictive man…do we wait until the guy crosses the line into physical violence?

(Hi, Dennis Markuze! For some reason, these stories made me think of you.)

It’s the petty stuff, going on and on

If you work for the Florida Museum of Natural History, someone doesn’t like you. For years, someone has been vandalizing the vehicles of workers at the museum.

It started small. Darwin Fish emblems would be ripped off cars a few times a year. Undeterred, the victims would simply replace them. Then bumper stickers were scraped off. Then notes containing prayers were left on cars. And now the vandal has apparently taken the next step: driving nails into tires. One researcher said she discovered a long nail had been deliberately forced into the side rim of her new tire, destroying it. Another researcher had both front tires ruined by long nails. These incidents all happened in a parking lot behind Bartram-Carr Hall.

Why hasn’t the local law enforcement installed a security camera or two to catch this cowardly miscreant in the act? This would be big news and the subject of public outrage if it happened, for instance, in a church parking lot.

Stop me if this sounds familiar

I got an email from someone requesting advice. I can’t imagine how he thought of me when in this situation.

There’s a group of geocentrists — specifically, these guys — who are trying to film a documentary, and they want to interview my advisor, Dragan Huterer. A couple of months ago, they contacted Dragan under false pretenses: they said they were filming a documentary on modern cosmology. They were interested in coming to a conference and interviewing Dragan. We had no reason to suspect anything strange until just before the conference, when one of the people running the film company made some strange remarks about some of Dragan’s previous research, which set off an alarm bell in my head. Unfortunately, by that point, Dragan had already signed a release form granting these people the legal right to film him and to use that footage in a publicly-released documentary. We did manage to stop them from getting the right to film on the UM campus, so they didn’t come to the conference. We didn’t hear from them for six weeks, so we thought they were gone, but now they’re asking if they can come to town simply to film an interview with Dragan.

(Incidentally, we haven’t told them that we know that they’re geocentrists. We only found out that they were geocentrists 36 hours before they were originally scheduled to arrive at the conference, so we had neither the time nor the inclination to get into a confrontation with them. We told them that the chair of the Physics Department wasn’t comfortable with filming the conference, and that they should take the issue up with him.)

Crazy dingbat pseudoscientists trying to film a biased, anti-science documentary by flim-flamming legitimate scientists into sitting for filming? It’s somehow familiar.

As for advice, maybe some of the commenters will have some, but I do have a few suggestions.

A release is not the same as a contract obligating him to perform. It just means they can use any footage they can get, so don’t give them any. Unless there is some kind of contractual requirement that he has signed, he can just tell them to leave him alone. No problem.

Otherwise, and this will come as no surprise from me, go on the offensive. Contact your school and local newspaper, and make it a public joke. Annoy the heck out them, which ought to be easy, because they’re freakin’ geocentrists, crazy people who think the sun and stars and planets all revolve around the Earth. Turn the tables on them if they come to campus and interview them.

And if they do get a documentary made, and if they do use recordings of anyone rational, try to get kicked out of the movie premiere.

Look to the skies, America!

American Atheists is sponsoring banners to fly over select areas in 26 states to celebrate the Fourth of July. The banners read:

God-LESS America — Atheists.org

and

Atheism is Patriotic – Atheists.org

These are perfectly pleasant, inoffensive messages — that Silverman guy is such a timid, inoffensive fellow, I’m going to have to school him next time I see him — and simply affirm that the unbelievers are also part of this country, a good thing to remind people of as they listen to “God Bless America” before setting off small explosive devices.

But of course, panties are being wadded, pearls are being clutched, and fainting couches are fully occupied as the word gets out that atheists have seized control of the air. It’s going to get even uglier as the day progresses and good Christians look up and see godlessness cruising through their picnicking airspace, and there will probably be fists shaken heavenward and arcs of potato salad vomited forth.

Leading the way is the ever-insipid Mitch Albom, the guy who made a fortune selling treacle and vague apologetics, who asks If God Made The Sky, Can Atheists Fly It? , a questions so stupid and so pointless that I spent ten minutes trying to puzzle it out. I think the answer is no, which means that the fact that atheists are flying it tells us that god didn’t make the sky, which we could have told him long ago. Mitch doesn’t like it.

This is a classic example of an OK concept meeting a terrible idea. The group insists, on its Web site, that this “is not about … shoving our views down people’s throats.”

Really? Then why rent airplanes?

Because, obviously, airplanes are exactly the best tool for shoving things down people’s throats. Or maybe it’s just that a banner flying by briefly is a prominent but fairly inoffensive counter to the state-sponsored religiosity we usually get on this day. So what’s bugging you, Mitch? Will you feel compelled to abandon that drivel you call faith if you see a message from atheists.org? A one-day ad isn’t exactly intensively coercive, you know.

Poor Mitch tries to be fair and whine that atheists are being just as offensive as the religious.

By the way, this is just as true for displays of religious fervor. It is why some people cringe at billboards celebrating Jesus, or when Ten Commandments monuments are placed outside of public buildings.

Those are the very things to raise the ire of atheists everywhere.

Except…while I roll my eyes at the Jebusite billboards, I do not argue that they should be taken down, and I understand that private displays of belief are legitimate examples of free speech. Also, atheists do not get irate if a citizen puts up a ten commandments display on his or her property — the thing that raises our ire is when our supposedly representative government favors a specific religious tradition, and people try to argue that the sectarian nonsense that constitutes the bulk of those ten commandments actually has something to do with the law in our country.

Also, we are not fooled, Mitch Albom. You aren’t really against public displays of religious fervor — you aren’t railing against the Soledad cross, or that children are expected to say “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, or the fact that every coin that crosses your palm has a religious injunction on it. No, what got your cranky butt to the word processor is that now some atheists have dared to openly express their views. Your protestations would have a little more credibility if you had a history of campaigning for secularism and the separation of church and state and had mentioned a few times before that public displays of belief were unseemly…but a guy who makes a living selling New Age spiritual pablum can’t quite get away with that.

Pat Robertson = Fred Phelps now

Pat Robertson is just losing it. His mind was always rather decrepit, but it looks like the rest of him is catching up now. He’s also repeating his familiar claim that no society can ’embrace’ homosexuality and survive, and now he’s saying that god is going to destroy America for allowing gay marriage.

The lesson I take from his senile ramble: we’re OK as long as we don’t do any angel-raping. Consensual gay sex: god is cool with that. Raping angels: god will nuke you.

Texas explained at last

It’s demons. The whole state is infested with ’em.

There was a big conference on exorcism offered by the Catholic church in Texas; it was apparently well-attended by an enthusiastic crowd who were anxious to learn how to purge the state of evil invisible magic beings. Bishop Pfeifer had this to say:

Pfeifer said he believes there is demonic influence in West Texas manifested through cults…

Oh, sure, he went on to say the demons were secular and on the internet, but I think he would have been better served looking at the wackaloons babbling at his conference.

Stop digging!

After the public scorn Scott Adams received in response to his appalling “pegs and holes” post that tried to play the self-pity card — Adams is so disadvantaged by being a man — he sent out an invitation to various magazines to engage in a public dialog.

I’d like to offer an opportunity to one of the writers at Salon, Huffington Post, Jezebel, Mediate, or Mediabistro. Allow me to interview you, by email, for this blog, on the topic of why you so vehemently disagree with your hallucination of my opinion. (Fair warning: It won’t work out well for you.)

Salon took him up on it. It isn’t working out so well for Scott Adams, who is looking even more like an irrational, whiny prick.