Jerry wants you!

A reader sent along this tempting job offer.

Job Title General Education: Biology
Date 6/1/2006
Location NATIONWIDE,
Min Salary $2,100.00
Max Salary $3,500.00
Job Type Contract Part-Time
Job Description

BIOLOGY

Faculty compatible with a young-earth creationist philosophy to teach general education Biology courses.

It’s from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, of course. Doesn’t it make you want to jump up, drop whatever you’re doing, and enter the exciting world of academia?

Aside from the demand that you teach biology as if the world were 6000 years old and with complete neglect of any research and evidence acquired in the last two centuries, I should mention that the salary offer isn’t that absurd. This is fairly typical for non-tenure-track college instructors: a university will give you a few thousand bucks to teach one course for a term. It’s your job to accumulate a living wage by gathering multiple contracts, which may be from scattered universities. You won’t get any benefits, you typically have no say at all in faculty governance, you’re treated like a peon, and there’s absolutely no job security.

Parents, don’t let your children grow up to be adjunct professors.

Coulter Challenge status, day 8

I hopped out of bed this morning, certain that someone would have bravely answered my challenge to support Coulter’s ‘science’. But no, the Coulterites have completely vanished from my mailbox, and the official tally of entries stands at

0

Maybe I just haven’t given them enough time. It takes a while to read a book when you have to slowly sound out each word, and when you’re constantly tempted to close it so you can gaze rapturously at the cover, drooling.

I’ll report back when we hit the one month mark. Will that be time enough?

‘Brights’

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Since it was brought up in the comments, I thought I’d bring back my statement on the “Brights.”


There’s a lot of noise on the net right now about The Brights, the idea that we can invent a pleasant new name for godless atheists and thereby improve our image. It’s being pushed by luminaries like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. Here’s a nice quote that summarizes my opinion:

Perhaps the best of the available euphemisms for atheist is nontheist. It lacks the connotation of positive conviction that there is definitely no god, and it could therefore easily be embraced by Teapot or Tooth Fairy Agnostics. It is less familiar than atheist and lacks its phobic connotations. Yet, unlike a completely new coining, its meaning is clear. If we want a euphemism at all, nontheist is probably the best.

The alternative which I favor is to renounce all euphemisms and grasp the nettle of the word atheism itself, precisely because it is a taboo word carrying frissons of hysterical phobia. Critical mass may be harder to achieve than with some non-confrontational euphemism, but if we did achieve it with the dread word atheist, the political impact would be all the greater.

Guess who said that?

Richard Dawkins himself, as cited here. I have no idea what has happened to his good sense since.

I have absolutely no problem with the words “atheist”, “secular humanist”, “infidel”, “damned hellbound godless heathen”, or whatever names people want to apply to us. It’s very peculiar for an atheist to object to the terms “atheist” or “godless”, as if there was something negative about it. It’s even more pathetic to pick out some name you like, but that has never been applied to you, and ask that you be addressed by it—it smacks of a six-year-old who decides his name isn’t quite good enough, so he announces to the schoolyard that he’d like to be called “Spike” from now on. It’s laughable.

The argument that this is analogous to the appropriation of terms like “queer” and “gay” by the homosexual community is false. Those were used as terms of opprobrium by outsiders, and were seized and inverted by homosexuals to remove their sting, and as a mark of pride. This isn’t the case with “Bright”. It’s artificial and phony.

Why I am not an A-lister

If you aren’t up on the latest blogging scandals du jour, just ignore this.

  • I’m not on the “Townhouse” email list…in fact, I never even heard of it before.
  • I only read the Daily Kos for DarkSyde. I think Markos is an inconsequential part of the community there.
  • Markos has never told me what to do, and if he did, I’d ignore him.
  • I went to YearlyKos, and the A-listers bored me…but I thought the community was wonderful.
  • I think that coordinating responses by email is smart and practical, and that the righty nutcases who think it is cheating are just trying to undermine any hint of organization on the left.
  • Not enough open threads.
  • Even when he’s pouting, I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. (Petulance and a sense of entitlement are obligatory elements of divinity, right?)
  • I am not a goddess.
  • Jerome who? Armando who?
  • I keep writing incomprehensible science articles that get almost no comments.
  • I don’t measure quality by the numbers on a sitemeter.
  • Not enough sex. Or what there is involves more chelicerae or tentacles than anuses.
  • Jesus hates me. The feeling is mutual.
  • I don’t resent Atrios.
  • Everyone tells me I’m too softspoken and quiet in person—must start biting heads off kittens in public to strengthen reputation.
  • I don’t have a Pirate Mode any more.

I’m proud to be non-human

Here’s a dilemma: I think Ron Numbers, the philosopher and historian of science, is a smart fellow and a net asset to the opposition to creationism, and I agree with him that a diversity of approaches to the issue is a good thing. My opinion could change, though, because I am experiencing considerable exasperation with the apologists for religion on the evolution side, and this interview with Numbers isn’t helping things. Here’s an example of the kind of nonsense that drives me nuts.

QUESTION: Are scientists in general atheistic?

MR. NUMBERS: The public often gets the impression that most scientists are non-believers. But, that’s not true. Just within the past year the journal Nature published a study that revealed even today roughly the same proportion of scientists believe in God as did 75 years ago. [The figure is almost 40%]

[Read more…]

Bye bye, RA

I suspect that soon there will be at least one religious person who will claim he converted from atheism who I will believe. The Raving Atheist is getting ripe: he’s been ramping up the irrationality for some time now, precessing like a top slowing down, and I expect that soon enough he’ll flop over for Jesus. I’m not questioning his sincerity—he is an atheist, all right, and there is no doubt about it—but his sympathies are getting weirder and weirder.

This is not a new development. I’ve discussed his radical pro-life position before, and now Punkassblog and Amanda bring to my attention his latest post, in which he foreswears saying an unkind word about Christianity ever again, and in which I learn that he’s been actively working with one of those ghastly dishonest “crisis pregnancy centers” that offer no services other than propaganda (and, apparently, free teddy bears) and exist only to mislead women worried about pregnancy.

You know, I think I’d forgive an open conversion to Christianity far more easily than I can his irresponsible affiliation with those charlatans and fanatics.

His rationalizations for pro-life extremism simply don’t make sense: he seems to think something special happens at fertilization that unambiguously and unarbitrarily defines a human being. Diploidy is not the scientific term for ensoulment. Genetic specification is not sufficient to specify an individual. Potential is not a synonym for actuality. Fertilization is not a switch that triggers an ineluctable program towards individuality. The combinatorial uniqueness of an individual’s genome is inadequate to define the individual. Amanda notes that most opposition to abortion comes from either religious convictions, a commitment to a sexist social order, or I’d add, a rather primitive and unthinking desire to tightly control reproduction in potential mates and kin. I don’t know which of these apply to RA, but his weak excuses clearly rule out that it might have been an intellectual decision on his part.

He’s welcome to his convictions about abortion, but he needs to face it: they aren’t reasonable, and they’re as batty as Dawn Eden.