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This Week in Stupidity 31 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Religion, Science, This Week in Stupidity.
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Today’s Theme: Moronic arguments purporting to refute evolution

Before we begin, I should note that there is a possibility that Poe’s Law is in effect. I am leaning towards believing that these people are not Poes, given that one of the examples comes from a person that goes by the name “supersport”, who has been spewing forth ridiculous statements like these all over the internet for quite a while. So s/he is either really that ignorant, or is the best Poe ever. Either way, I’m going to treat them as serious, because I know that there are at least a few people out there who would seriously make these kinds of arguments. So, on to the show!

Gem #1, we don’t constantly drool, therefore God exists:

Ok, I have an Evolution Challenge for you. Make your mouth produce a bunch of spit, let it dribble down your face and time how long it is before you simply have to wipe it off. Go ahead; try it! I promise you it won’t be very long. It’s extremely uncomfortable to have it sit there.

Think about the babies in your life. Have you ever thought about the fact that they stop drooling after the first couple years of life? Have you ever imagined what life would be like if we didn’t stop? Some, sadly, know what this is like. Children with cerebral palsy that don’t stop drooling or those that begin drooling due to loss of facial muscle control know the horrors of this. Have you had to endure watching people stare at your parent or child as they experience this humiliating social embarrassment? Have you tried to alleviate the irritating sores that develop from skin being constantly wet? Have you tried to keep them in presentable clothing when saliva keeps staining their clothes?

What evolutionary advantage is there to developing the oral neuromuscular control at age 18-24 months? What if drooling, the default condition at birth, was the way our lives always are? How would you like to date, make love, run a business meeting, ride horses, grocery shop and take care of kids while drooling? How cool would you feel driving your fancy car down the road with sunglasses and drool? How would your wedding go with everyone trying to be discrete with their designer drool cloths or bibs?

The human body is designed to give us dignity. These specific designs and abilities point to a Creator who cares about even whether we are embarrassed or not. There’s no evolutionary advantage to not drooling. It’s the gift of dignity.

So this person spends several paragraphs giving examples of why drooling might be evolutionarily disadvantageous, yet then claims there’s no reason why not drooling is evolutionarily advantageous?  It’s all just about the fact that God doesn’t want us to look undignified?

Onto gem #2, by the über-troll supersport:

So moms are everywhere in nature. Females often go to great lengths to feed, save, and protect their young. Many construct homes and shelters…(all without knowing/understanding she’s even pregnant) and do so with great care and attention to detail.

So I’ve got two questions about this:

1) What is the evolutionary advantage of mothers doing everything they can to feed/protect their young? And remember, mothers often give food to their young that they might otherwise eat. And going out into the world to look for food is often dangerous — she could be killed looking for food. Wouldn’t there be an advantage to her personally just to forget about the kid and go about her own business of eating and finding a mate? Why the unnecessary risk? Why go to the trouble of building a nest to protect the young? Wouldn’t it be easier just to skip all that? I thought evolution was all about being selfish……….so why do so many animals put others’ needs before themselves? What’s the advantage to that?

2) Why wouldn’t it be an evolutionary advantage for mothers to eat their young? I know it sometimes happens in nature…..but not as a general rule. As a general rule, mothers and fathers very rarely eat their young…even when they’re hungry. But wouldn’t an animal be more likely to breed if it didn’t starve? Mothers should be consuming their offspring everywhere in nature — afterall, it would advantageous getting that extra nourishment.

How do the evolutionists here get around this? Where does this “love” or devotion for child come from? Got a gene you can show me? What’s the evolutionary advantage for all this? And remember — evolution cannot plan ahead.

This is a classic example of misunderstanding what the Theory of Evolution is about.  We are all familiar with the term “survival of the fittest” (which is not strictly true, but too long to get into right now).  What people fail to comprehend is that when scientist talk about “survival”, they’re talking about reproductive survival.  It doesn’t matter if a mother lives to a ripe old age through starving/eating her babies – if she dies without leaving offspring, her genetic information dies with her.  So any propensity to behave in a selfish manner would have died out quickly.  Mothers with altruistic behavior, who care for their offspring until they’re mature enough to survive on their own and reproduce, will pass on their altruistic behavior through successive generations.  It’s not difficult to see how altruism towards offspring might become prevalent in a species, assuming you’re not willfully ignorant.

H/T: PZ

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I Call Poe on ChristWire 23 May 2009

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Religion.
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3 comments

Here’s their 404 error message:

Our holy servers are currently experiencing miraculous amounts of high traffic and atheistic evils.

Why do 404 error messages occur?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe 404 Error message was created by an unholy menagerie of vile atheists, Democrats, liberals and Godless Soviets in the Year of our Lord 1992. We’re told through electronic pathogens and demonic incantation rituals, they managed to create ways to electronically limit the amount of lost souls and seekers of truth that ‘web servers’ could process in a given minute.

Though their machinations are evil and everlasting, through hope, prayer and clicking refresh you can eventually overcome these wicked limits during times when tens of thousands of people flock to ChristWire per hour to discover the works of True Christians.

Heaven Has Too Many Tribbles 13 Apr 2009

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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I guess I was about 7 or 8, and I was riding with my best friend to her parents’ house.  Her grandmother was driving.

Her grandmother was a Southern Baptist, and she knew I wasn’t.  I was Methodist, which, in my area, was about on par with being a godless heathen.  She asked me how I was baptized.  I told her that I was sprinkled on my head, as was the tradition in my church.

I remember vividly her reply: “Well, then only the top of your head will go to Heaven, since that’s all you had baptized.”

And all I could remember thinking was that there must be a lot of tops of heads crawling around in Heaven, like tribbles on the Enterprise.

This Week in Stupidity 22 Mar 2009

Posted by Jessa in Atheism, Humor, Religion.
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And the winner is….Pastor Chris Fox of Kendalls Baptist Church in New London, NC.

He tried to pull a reverse-Poe at a blog written and read by atheists.  Hilarity ensued.

PROTIP:  You will get caught if you Lie for Jesus.

On a related note, lolcats nail it:

More Tacky Christian Gifts 17 Mar 2009

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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3 comments

The Prayer Cross.  Beware.  Mute your computer if you click through, because it has audio you can’t disable any other way.

Even when I was a Christian, I would have berated you for spending $19.99 (plus $7.99 S&H) for such tacky crap.  Because nothing declares your devotion to Jesus like tacky jewelry.

The Great Cracker Conflagration of 2008 12 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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11 comments

Regular readers of this blog (hi to all four of you) probably already know about this – PZ Myers has found himself in a bit of an internet uproar over a communion wafer.

A condensed timeline:

  • A student at the University of Central Florida takes a consecrated communion wafer home with him.  Much outrage ensues, including accusing said student of a “hate crime” and “kidnapping”, and e-mailed death threats.
  • PZ writes about it, and includes a call for people to send him wafers to desecrate.
  • Bill Donohue (of Catholic League fame) gets wind of it, and acts typically by issuing a press release calling for people to write to the University of Minnesota president to demand that PZ gets fired.
  • PZ responds and fights back.
  • Meanwhile, he’s getting his own batch of hate mail, some with death threats.
  • The Catholic League issues another press release calling for extra security for Catholics at the upcoming Republican Convention in Minneapolis, despite the fact that Morris is 150 miles away from Minneapolis and PZ has not threatened anyone.

Whew. What drama.

I’m somewhat undecided about PZ’s pledge to desecrate a cracker.  On one hand, I think it’s a fairly juvenile stunt.  On the other hand, actions like his can open up a dialog (if somewhat heated) about important issues.  Some of the most important insights I’ve had in my life have come from getting offended and then examining why I was offended.

But what I did find interesting was the thread that ran among the comments from those supporting the Catholic outrage.  Most of them either implicitly or explicitly included the idea that an individual has a right to have their beliefs respected.  Um, no.  Your right to hold a belief should be respected, but the belief itself has no right to be respected.  The idea of respecting beliefs sounds like a good one at first blush, but it’s totally unworkable.  There are some sincerely held but genuinely silly beliefs out there.  Anyone who has spent any time on the internet can come up with at least 5 examples off the top of their head.  By the rationale of the “respect beliefs” argument, we must respect the belief that aliens built the Great Pyramids.  Or that the moon landing was a hoax.  Or that the US government was behind 9/11.  There are people out there that believe these things just as deeply as Catholics believe that a priest can, with appropriate hand gestures and incantations, turn a wafer into the Body of Christ.  See how respecting all beliefs just won’t work?

But the “respect beliefs” commenters don’t really believe that all beliefs should be respected.  A great number of them are calling for PZ to desecrate a Koran instead.  So apparently they have no problems with disrespecting the beliefs of Muslims.  I guess “respect beliefs” really means “respect the beliefs with which I agree”.

Mmmm…I love the smell of hypocrisy.

VA Complies With Establishment Clause; Christians Cry Discrimination 06 Jul 2008

Posted by Jessa in Politics, Religion.
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2 comments

Yet another example of “Help! Help! I’m being oppressed because the government doesn’t grant my religion special privileges over other religions!”:

North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes says some officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs are engaging in anti-Christian discrimination.

Last year officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs ordered the VA Hospital in Fayetteville to remove all Christian religious symbols from its chapel – crosses, Bibles, and stained glass windows. According to the VA, the chapel must remain “neutral” in order to make worshippers of all faiths “comfortable.” Chaplain Archie Barringer retired from his position as service chief at the hospital in protest.

Congressman Hayes takes issue with the hospital’s actions. “This is the very basic and crux and core of our religious faith and of who we are in this country. And it has certainly offended me, as I know it has a number of other people, to see these articles of faith removed that our veterans have fought, bled, and died in order to preserve,” Hayes explains.

So the VA, in order to make a publicly-financed space inclusive of all faiths represented in our military, decide to remove symbols that are specific to a particular religion.  That’s not anti-Christian discrimination.  Anti-Christian discrimination would be to put a sign on the chapel door saying “No Christians Allowed”.   What they’ve done is remove the pro-Christian discrimination, in compliance with the Establishment Clause.  You’re still free to worship there as you please.

And our veterans “have fought, bled, and died in order to preserve” Christian religious symbols?  I’m sure that would come as news to  the many non-Christian soldiers out there (and, yes, they exist).  Let’s see what the Oath of Enlistment has to say:

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. (So help me God.)

Hmmm.  I do see a mention of “God” in the optional part at the end, but it doesn’t say which God.  It mentions defending and maintaining allegiance to the Constitution and obeying the President and superior officers.  I don’t see any reference to crosses, Bibles, or stained-glass windows. It seems that Mr. Hayes was wrong.  Color me shocked.

And for those Christians out there who don’t understand why the VA wisely decided to remove the crosses and Bibles, ask yourself how comfortable you would feel praying in a chapel (paid with your tax dollars) that contains exclusively Muslim (or Jewish, or Hindu, or Buddhist, etc.) iconography.

Earth. It’s the Center of The Universe. 15 Jun 2008

Posted by Jessa in Uncategorized.
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I’m a Bad Person 01 Jun 2008

Posted by Jessa in Religion.
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…at least according to The Good Person Test.

This ridiculous test embodies one of the real issues I had with Christianity.  I spent most of my life being told that I was a wretched, pathetic piece of filth that was completely incapable of being a good person.  And it didn’t matter if I spent the vast majority of my life keeping the commandments.  All it took was one white lie or one moment of anger for me to be damned for all eternity.  If I wasn’t absolutely perfect, I was destined for hell.  Unless, of course, I begged God to forgive me for telling my mom that dinner was delicious when it really wasn’t, or whatever other egregious offense I had committed.

I was also taught that I was to be held accountable for sins that I committed without my knowing it.  If I accidentally took a pen home from work and didn’t realize it (and therefore didn’t confess it), I was going to Hell.   I spent a great deal of my childhood scared to death that I couldn’t remember everything that I might have done wrong, and would therefore never get to Heaven.

Now that I’ve left religion, I am stunned by how ludicrous this is.  How can anyone take seriously a moral system that makes no distinction between getting angry at someone vs. murdering them, or taking a pencil vs. robbing a bank, or being attracted to someone vs. having sex with them?

Ford Dealership to Non-Christians: Sit Down and Shut Up 27 May 2008

Posted by Jessa in Non-Religion, Religion.
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From a radio advertisement from a Ford dealership in California:

But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians, who believe in God, we at Kieffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don’t tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that’s tough, this is America folks, it’s called free speech. None of us at Kieffe & Sons Ford is afraid to speak out. Kieffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don’t see you today, by the grace of God, we’ll be here tomorrow.

Wow.  It’s a great big bucket of wrongity-wrongness.

First, not all Americans who “say they believe in God” are Christians.  You know, like Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, etc.  So this ad insults more than just atheists – it insults all non-Christians.  But have a feeling that whoever decided to make this ad would have no problem telling people of other religions to shut up as well.

Second, it is the height of irony that this guy is invoking his right to free speech in telling another group that they should not speak freely.  Sorry, pal – it doesn’t work that way.

Third, despite the blustering, we all know that they would have no problems taking money from a non-Christian.  Given their financial woes, it’s not as if a Ford dealership can be choosy about its customers.

Maybe they can sell this model at their store: