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Global Warming: “Almost a Religion”? 21 Nov 2007

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It is, at least according to John Coleman.

That’s why I say it’s the biggest scam in history … because the media [and] the politicians have joined the cabal of scientists and environmentalists and turned this into almost a religion.

How, exactly, does the “cabal of scientists” practice their “religion”?  Do they meet on Sunday mornings in a room with the heat turned on full blast, wearing t-shirts and shorts and Birks, chanting and praying to Al Gore?   Is “An Inconvenient Truth” their holy book?

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A Big List of Gods 20 Nov 2007

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Reverend e has compiled a list of almost 3000 gods, by culture, in alphabetical order.  It looks like we humans like a wide selection when it comes to worshipping deities.

His Wife Is A Bitch. Literally. 19 Nov 2007

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Don’t let Rick Santorum get wind of this:

Man ‘marries’ dog to beat curse

An Indian man has “married” a female dog, hoping the move will help atone for stoning two other dogs to death.

P Selvakumar, 33, said he had been cursed since the killings, suffering paralysis and a loss of hearing.

The wedding took place at a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu state. The “bride” wore an orange sari with a flower garland and was fed a bun to celebrate.

Superstitious people in rural India sometimes organise weddings to animals in the hope of warding off curses.

“Holiday”: The New Curse Word 19 Nov 2007

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Mat Staver, dean of Jerry Falwell’s law school, is fighting back in the manufactured outrage that is the “War on Christmas”. The Liberty Council has put out a Naughty and Nice List, cataloging stores that do and do not use the word “Christmas” in their advertising. All in nice pdf form, making an easily-printable list of the blasphemous stores to avoid.

Before people get the vapors because Circuit City has a “Holiday Gift Guide”, I would like to ask a few questions. Is it possible that insisting that everyone insert the word “Christmas” into every advertisement actually contributes to the secularization of Christmas? Does overexposure to the word in secular settings really “put the Christ back in Christmas”, or does it dilute the religious origin of the word? Are you comfortable with the notion that non-Christians are increasingly using the word “Christmas” because it’s so ubiquitous that it’s becoming less and less meaningful with every passing year? Just something to think about.

And about “Happy Holidays”: it’s not necessarily a politically-correct cop-out. Do you celebrate New Years? If you do, you celebrate two holidays during the season. So if it makes you feel better, you can think of “Happy Holidays” as a shorthand way of saying “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year”.

Fred Flintstone’s Lawnmower Discovered 17 Nov 2007

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Okay, not really, but Nigersaurus looks like it would have been perfect for the job:

A Saturday Comic 17 Nov 2007

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Click to embiggen.
toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

LOLCreashun 17 Nov 2007

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John Scalzi recently visited the Creation Museum in Kentucky and took lots of pictures. So of course it’s now time for a LOLCreashun contest. I didn’t post my contributions to the site, but I had to share them somewhere.

(According to the museum, dinosaurs were vegetarians until the Fall of Man. Then they got all carnivorous on us.)

These were way too much fun to do.

PBS Documentary on Intelligent Design Is Now Online 16 Nov 2007

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The PBS documentary “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design On Trial” is now available for viewing online.  The program covers the 2005 federal case of  Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, the first legal test of Intelligent Design as a valid scientific theory.  SPOILER ALERT:  The judge ruled that it was, in fact, a repackaging of creationism, not legitimate science.

I found the program to be very interesting.  I didn’t follow the trial while it was going on, and I didn’t realize just how awful the shenanigans of some of the school board members really were.  I didn’t know that two of the guys perjured themselves in their depositions.  Isn’t lying a no-no according to the Ten Commandments?  Or is it okay if you’re lying for Jesus?

Conservative Christian Biologist Criticizes ID 16 Nov 2007

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Mac Johnson, a molecular biologist and contributor to the conservative publication Human Events, points out that Intelligent Design is bad science, whose recent popularity is traceable to two factors:

One is that, even ten years ago, ID had enough confidence and honesty to go by its birth name, “Creationism.” Whereas today, it has been dressed up in a lab coat and a mail order Ph.D. and is trying to pass itself off as a scientific theory, thus the sudden re-branding as “Intelligent Design.”

I’m not sure if renaming creationism into something more euphemistic leads to an increase in popularity, but I agree with the general statement. It’s funny ’cause it’s true.

The other reason is that the mainstream media (and other spokesmen for the liberal establishment) love the idea of associating the conservative movement with ID, so ID has gotten much more than its fair share of press time.

The Left believes, correctly, that Intelligent Design is a political loser, and so they gleefully attempt to hang it around the neck of every right-of-center movement from libertarian neo-conservatism to isolationist populism — shouting all the while “See, the American Taliban has come for your children! Elect a Democrat before it’s too late!”

In truth, the proponents of ID are only a small part of the Conservative movement in America, and include many who have only instinctively supported the cause because it so eagerly casts itself as yet another victim of the very real leftist repression of religion in our nation’s public space.

I don’t think that the above statement is entirely true. While he is probably correct in his statement that many conservatives like ID because it is an explanation that is more in line with their religious leanings, I think ID proponents make up a much larger part of the conservative population than Johnson would care to admit. After all, studies have shown that as many as half of Americans believe in creationism. I can’t imagine that someone who believes the Genesis account would throw their support behind evolution over ID. So ID supporters are probably encompass a large portion of conservatives.

Now the criticisim:

So in light of the issue’s new prominence and with a desire to improve the mental hygiene of others, I would just like to say that Intelligent Design is a really, really bad idea –scientifically, politically, and theologically. I say this as a dedicated conservative, who has on many occasions defended and espoused religion and religious conservatism. I also say it as a professional molecular biologist, who has worked daily (or at least week-daily) for years with biological problems to which the theory of evolution has contributed significant understanding — and to which Intelligent Design is incapable of contributing any understanding at all.

Scientifically, attributing every aspect of biology to the arbitrary design of a divine tinkerer explains as much about biology as attributing the eruption of volcanoes to the anger of the Lava God would explain geology. A theory, by definition, makes predictions that can be tested. Intelligent Design predicts nothing, since it essentially states that every thing is the way it is because God wanted it that way.

This quote is a good summation of one of the basic problem with ID. Even if you set aside the fact that ID relies on the existence of God (erm, sorry, an “intelligent agent”), it still fails because it has no predictive power.

According to the mindset of ID leaves could have been green or they could have been blue. But God chose green because he was feeling a bit green that day. Or maybe he thought green would really bring out the color of Adam’s eyes; it’s hard to say really. But it definitely had nothing to with the unguided selection of the chlorophyll molecule to best utilize atmospherically filtered sunlight as an adenosine triphosphate producing energy source.

Biology (already burdened with the study of the most complex phenomenon known to man) is reduced by Intelligent Design to a meaningless cataloguing service for divine handicrafts. It can no longer seek to understand so much as a sniffle or a dandelion seed without endlessly recycling the same useless answer: must be how God wanted it!

And finally, some parting shots:

Intelligent Design is The DaVinci Code of Biology — an emotionally attractive conspiracy theory that seems to explain the most amazing facts and coincidences. But in the end, it’s just not true, and worse yet, it gets one no closer to God. That’s all fine for an entertaining diversion, but it’s a poor base upon which to build either a factual or theological worldview.

Intelligent Design is a bad idea, and the otherwise intelligent men that are espousing it would do well to re-examine their beliefs, before they corrupt both science and faith –and the amazing progress that conservatism has made during the last forty years.

Although I do not agree with Johnson on a number of points, this article was quite good. I hope it gives ID supporters some food for thought.

The “War On Christmas”: It’s Baaack! 16 Nov 2007

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Bill O’Reilly is at it again this year railing against the supposed “War on Christmas”. The focus of a recent tirade were the recommendations of the Holiday Display Task Force of Fort Collins, CO regarding display of religious symbols on public property.

One of the suggestions was to use white lights rather than colored ones for decoration. This was a particular target of ire for O’Reilly’s guest, Dan Caplis:

You have this arrogant minority that wants to go to the point of stripping away Christmas trees and colored lights. I mean, this sounds like something out of the old Soviet Union.

Setting aside the mistaken statement that Christmas trees are banned (they’re not), it’s a truly amusing statement. Colored lights make Baby Jesus happy, and only godless commie pinko bastards use white lights. I had no idea that God was so picky about decorations.

But let’s look at the statement more closely. The implication is that Christmas is not as much about celebrating the birth of Jesus as it is about having the right decorations. So maybe the biggest culprit in the secularization of Christmas is Madison Avenue. From November 1st onward, we are bombarded with advertisements showing us what we should do to have the perfect Christmas. We must decorate profusely (preferably with a theme so that we have to buy new stuff every year). We have to find the perfect gift for everyone we know. We have to buy new clothes to wear to parties. The Christmas meal must be so fabulous that people will talk about it for months. But we can’t eat too much because we are concerned about those extra holiday pounds. Oh, and don’t forget the family cards, the travel, and the rushing around at work so that you won’t get too far behind while you’re on vacation. And if you don’t do all of it just right, everything is ruined.

Notice anything? None of it has anything at all to do with the religious aspect of Christmas. In fact, most of the traditions we now associate with Christmas (including those that are so loved by O’Reilly and his ilk) did not have anything to do with Christianity until the Church co-opted them from pagan celebrations that also occur around the winter solstice. This is why many non-Christians (including atheists) have no problem with decorating a tree.

So if you want to fight back in this “war”, you can start by refusing to buy into the hype. Stop digging yourself into debt buying crap for everyone. Stop obsessing about the fact that your neighbor’s house has more lights on it than yours does. Don’t panic if things aren’t exactly perfect. And for Pete’s sake, don’t have a coronary if someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. There are much bigger problems in the world.