They really don’t like me

I’m still getting flamage from Dr Mike S. Adams’ fans. This one just happened to tickle me, for some reason. I wonder if I can get that title engraved on my office door?



I think the funniest part of this all-caps, misspelled, strangely punctuated rant and sneer at “HIGHER????” EDUCATION is that the guy’s signature proudly says, “Employee of University of Wisconsin”.

Time bobbles the God and science debate


The cover of Time magazine highlights the current struggle: it’s God vs. Science, or as I’d prefer to put it, fantasy vs. reality. I have mixed feelings about the story; on the one hand, it presents the theological sound in such a godawful stupid way that it gives me some hope, but on the other, stupid seems to win the day far too often. It sure seems to have won over the editors of Time.

The lead article covers a debate between the forces of reason and dogma. They picked two debaters and pitted them against each other, and on our side, we have Richard Dawkins. Dawkins talked to us a bit about this on our visit, since he’d just recently gotten back from a quick flight to NY to do this. Time says they’d had to consider a number of possibilities for this argument: Marc Hauser, Lewis Wolpert, Victor Stenger, and Ann Druyan (speaking for Carl Sagan, who has a posthumous book on religion coming out), so they had a competent collection on one side, and they just needed to find a good representative for the other. Unfortunately, here’s how Time characterized the search.

[Read more…]

Freethought symbology

There will be no poll. It’s presumptuous of me to even suggest coming up with a symbol for freethought, and seriously, this is a small corner of the internet, with a small subset of godless people, and the ones who’d respond to a poll would be such a tiny fraction of the possibilities that it would be meaningless.

So instead, we’ll have discussion. Reason with each other.

Here’s the agenda: make an argument for your favorite, and sway me. Whatever symbol gets the most persuasive argument (and actually, the argument that larger numbers of people will like your symbol will have some weight with me), I’m going to use. Look ever to the left sidebar, where it says “Profile”—at the top of that, the symbol will appear at about the same size as the box with my face in it, and it will link to some godless manifesto (Russell’s? My own? I’ll think about it later). That’s all I’m aiming for at this point.

If it is successful, that means that some other bloggers start using it, putting a discreet or blatant symbol somewhere on their pages that link to an explanation. The hope is that readers will wonder what that odd squiggle is, click on it, and learn something.

If it is wildly successful, it will achieve fairly general recognition so that readers won’t bother to click on it anymore—they’ll get used to seeing it and know that the author is one of them goddamned freethinkers, and they’ll scurry off or settle down and read for a while. This is the most hopeful scenario, and I’m not counting on it; attempts to make that kind of widely recognized association fail much more often than they succeed.

So, what I did was simply skim through the suggestion thread and pick those symbols that generated some degree of repeated interest, and that also met my general criteria of being reasonably simple and easy to scrawl out. I stripped out colors and shading as well as I could and reduced everything to a high-contrast gray scale, and then scaled them all to about the same size…and show here some large ones and some tiny ones. If people want to get fancy and produce elaborate, full color versions with the flayed skin of Hypatia stapled to the sides and Robert Ingersoll’s happy face peeping out of some space, that ornamentation can be done later and on your own—the goal now is to get a framework that is recognizable.

a period i-6281d85d2cea5f570dfbb92f8850ace1-a_dot.gif
affinity i-80fc7668e0d9b6472e8ada9562a78253-affinity.gif
asterisk i-f936bb2404d764ddbaf389d9f28f35c0-asterisk.gif
circle i-d6123a7d144c8479a8d6bc5d29fca05d-circle.gif
dna i-318a2b98d5443e17a945c5f2f0bf75f1-dna.gif
empty i-2ce2a9264d328489a915cf73482e9e6b-empty.gif
galaxy i-87d4725ba19cb548847d4b2bb9c1124f-galaxy.gif
infinity i-812252774b29955ada096b1c16a9a677-infin.gif
natural i-ae3e7021f28a28a46c0913cc18e46908-natural.gif
phi i-4c0ddd48380558d07f7089bae820dcac-phi.gif
pi i-a46c88f501e5e59f45971bba3a253871-pi.gif
spiral i-e96b568563021045332df38cc373c637-spiral.gif

So, talk about it. Please don’t get hung up on details of the rendering—think of this as something that ought to be recognizable if it were chalked onto a sidewalk, for instance, and the final version that would go on a website can be cleaned up and made sharper—and let’s avoid new suggestions, unless you’ve got something utterly stunning and brilliant. Let’s just hash these out right now.

Another useful datum would be to let us know if you would use such a symbol on your weblog, or some other place. That’ll help us get a feel for the potential for wider use.

South Dakota sleaze

Don’t ever claim that the little people can’t influence the course of government. Don’t assume that you need “credentials” or “knowledge” in order to make a difference. Read the inspiring story of the Unruhs and the South Dakota abortion ban.

Leslee Unruh, a person with no legislative or medical qualifications, drafts a law governing the medical care of female patients in South Dakota. She is also the the chief of the pro-ban campaign.

Alan Unruh, Leslee Unruh’s husband, a chiropractor, sits on the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortions, and is tasked with studying and evaluating medical evidence, reporting the findings, and making recommendations on the need for any additional legislation governing ob/gyn medical procedures.

See? This little family of unqualified, ignorant people possessing nothing but zeal and faith were able to make an entire state a laughing stock and put thousands of women at risk. Follow your dream, people! It doesn’t matter if it’s crazy or vile or requires you to misrepresent your abilities—just do it!

Of course, it also helps if you wangle one of those incestuous little deals where lazy legislators let proponents write the laws and stock the review committees with ideologues rather than competent experts, but you know what? That’s incredibly common nowadays.

Yakkety yak

So…I’m on this chat room thingie. Anyone else want to join in?

Is it more interesting if I say Mary and Skatje are there, too?

I’m out of that madhouse now…time to go to the theater. We’ll have to try it again sometime, but I suspect we’re going to have to move to IRC to cope with the volume.

A couple of candidates for the Pastor Ray Mummert award…

Richard Dawkins was interviewed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and whips out some of his standard ‘arrogance’.

Q Here are quotes about faith from two thoughtful Twin Cities clergy members. What is your response to each?

The Rev. Greg Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood: “I thirst for water, and water exists. I hunger for food, and food exists. I hunger and thirst for God, so I concluded that God must exist.”

Dawkins: The fact that you hunger and thirst for something does not make it exist. A young man ravaged by lust might hunger for a woman he believes loves him back, but she just doesn’t, and he can’t make it so by longing for it. It’s silly to assume that wanting something means it exists.

Roman Catholic priest and liturgist the Rev. Michael Joncas: “I am willing to embrace what science and knowledge offer us. Yet what has inspired me since early childhood is a great sense of holy mystery.”

Dawkins: Scientists thrive on mystery, on investigating it. But we would not use the word “holy.” To call life’s mysteries holy and imply that they have something to do with God is unhelpful and misleading. Among the things Roman Catholics call holy mysteries are the holy trinity and transubstantiation. But those things are myths.

Actually, that doesn’t sound arrogant at all to me. It’s more like clarity in stark contrast to the stupidity of a couple of “thoughtful” priests. Shouldn’t Christians be a little embarrassed at the vapidity of their representatives?

In another Twin Cities connection, we’re getting a warning.

Christian author and philosopher Os Guinness warns of a growing atheist backlash to the political strength of Christian conservatives.

In an interview with a radio station in St. Paul, Minn., Guinness said he doubts that atheists have grown more numerous, but he believes they’re now more organized and determined to press their case against religion and its influence in society.

Well, yes. Isn’t it about time? The only question is, when the “intelligent, educated segment of the culture” goes on the attack, which side are you going to be on?

It’s like watching contortionists at the freak show

Those funny guys at Uncommon Descent seem to have developed their new standard reply to charges that Jonathan Wells misrepresented Bill Ballard. They’re demanding an apology from me for saying mean things about Wells because—get ready for it—Wells is accurately reporting his agreement with Ballard’s ideas about development and evolution. I knew Ballard, briefly, and his work, and I’ve read both of Wells’ books cover-to-cover, so this is a surprise to me. Wells wrote these two books to support the evo-devo view? He isn’t trying to claim that development does not support evolution?

Come on, you kooks. Are you even aware of the bizarre position you’re putting yourself in? If you want to come in from that cold, crazy world you live in, though, please do: just admit that you were all wrong about evolution, and join the rational world.