Thursday, May 17, 2007

Secular Earth

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Quote

The Quote:
In the lawsuit challenging the intelligent design policy, Buckingham was further quoted as saying: "This country was founded on Christianity and our students should be taught as such."

The Truth:If I only had a brain.
“This country was founded over 200 years ago and we should be a little more advanced in our thinking by now.”

I will endeavour to provide more intelligent commentary in the future but I find my emotions getting the best of me in witnessing this absurdity.  

Monday, September 26, 2005

First Kansas and now Pennsylvania. What is goin on down there people? WAKE UP!

Republished from
US school's evolution teaching goes on trial

Supporters of the theory of evolution go head-to-head with proponents of "intelligent design" in a Pennsylvania court today in what is being billed as a crucial cultural battle for American education.
A group of parents in the small town of Dover, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is seeking to overturn a decision by the local school board insisting that intelligent design - the claim that complex organisms have been designed rather than evolved in response to natural selection - must be included in the curriculum.

The case, to be heard in the US district court in nearby Harrisburg, will revisit the clash between creationism and Darwinism in the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial and highlight the growing influence of the religious right.

Any verdict in the case could end up before the supreme court because of the importance of the issues at stake.

The 11 parents challenging the Dover school board will argue that intelligent design is a cover for creationism and therefore an attempt to impose religion in schools.

"We're fighting for the first amendment, the separation of church and state and the integrity of schools," Philadelphia lawyer Eric Rothschild told the Los Angeles Times. "This trial should decide whether a school board can impose its religious views on other students."

This is the first legal challenge to the mandatory teaching of intelligent design, which is championed by a growing number of Christian fundamentalists and has been taken up by a number of school boards across the United States. President Bush has backed the teaching of intelligent design in schools.

Although supporters of intelligent design claim it is not creationism because it does not actually mention God, there is no doubt about the religious overtones of the controversy which has split the town of Dover as well as the nation.

In October last year, the school board voted six to three to require a statement on intelligent design approved to be read to ninth-grade science students. One board member, William Buckingham, urged his colleagues: "Nearly 2,000 years ago someone died on a cross for us. Shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for him?" The statement said: "Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in theory exist for which there is no evidence ... Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin ... With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind."

Students are then pointed to a book, Of Pandas and People: the Central Question of Biological Origins, published by an intelligent design advocacy group, the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, based in Texas.

Two school board members, Carol and Jeff Brown, resigned in protest and a group of angry parents contacted the ACLU, which is hoping to put intelligent design on trial as a theory without any credible scientific basis.

Standing against them will be a team from the Thomas More Law Center, a non-profit Christian law firm that says its mission is "to be the sword and shield for people of faith" in cases on abortion, school prayer and the 10 commandments.

In Dover, Sheree Hied and her husband Michael strongly back the board. "I think we as Americans, regardless of our beliefs, should be able to freely access information, because people fought and died for our freedoms," she said.

But neighbour Steven Stough countered: "You can dress up intelligent design and make it look like science, but it just doesn't pass muster. In science class, you don't say to the students, 'Is there gravity, or do you think we have rubber bands on our feet?" '

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely Yours,

Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen.

Friday, July 29, 2005

An actual horoscope

I found reference to this on James Randi's website James Randi is a man who is doing the world a lot of good.
This was taken from


Thousands of years ago, inhabitants of India thought the Earth was carried by giant elephants, which in turn were balancing on the back of a huge turtle, which itself was perched on top of a stupendous snake. We laugh at this belief now, but many of us have equally preposterous ideas about the way reality is constructed. I mention this, Libra, because it's the best time in many moons for you to revisit your own versions of the elephant-turtle-snake theory. I promise you it will be liberating. So examine any unwieldy delusions that are at the foundation of your personal worldview. Look for evidence that supports your theories about the nature of life, and if you can't find any evidence, abandon the theories.

I hope visitors to my site will see the irony of the above paragraph without an explanation, but if not just ask and I will explain.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I Am Starting To Think Carl Was Able To Bequeath His Talent.

Borowed from Skeptical Inquirer magazine.
Ann Druyan Talks About Science, Religion, Wonder, Awe . . . and Carl Sagan

It is a great tragedy that science, this wonderful process for finding out what is true, has ceded the spiritual uplift of its central revelations: the vastness of the universe, the immensity of time, the relatedness of all life, and life's preciousness on our tiny planet.

-Ann Druyan

I've been thinking about the distorted view of science that prevails in our culture. I've been wondering about this, because our civilization is completely dependent on science and high technology, yet most of us are alienated from science. We are estranged from its methods, its values, and its language. Who is the scientist in our culture? He is Dr. Faustus, Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Strangelove. He's the maker of the Faustian bargain that is bound to end badly. Where does that come from? We've had a long period of unprecedented success in scientific discovery. We can do things that even our recent ancestors would consider magic, and yet our self-esteem as a species seems low. We hate and fear science. We fear science and we fear the scientist. A common theme of popular movies is some crazed scientist somewhere setting about ruining what is most precious to all of us.

I think the roots of this antagonism to science run very deep. They're ancient. We see them in Genesis, this first story, this founding myth of ours, in which the first humans are doomed and cursed eternally for asking a question, for partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. It's puzzling that Eden is synonymous with paradise when, if you think about it at all, it's more like a maximum-security prison with twenty-four hour surveillance. It's a horrible place. Adam and Eve have no childhood. They awaken full-grown. What is a human being without a childhood? Our long childhood is a critical feature of our species. It differentiates us, to a degree, from most other species. We take a longer time to mature. We depend upon these formative years and the social fabric to learn many of the things we need to know.

So here are Adam and Eve, who have awakened full grown, without the tenderness and memory of childhood. They have no mother, nor did they ever have one. The idea of a mammal without a mother is, by definition, tragic. It's the deepest kind of wound for our species; antithetical to our flourishing, to who we are.

Their father is a terrifying, disembodied voice who is furious with them from the moment they first awaken. He doesn't say, "Welcome to the planet Earth, my beautiful children! Welcome to this paradise. Billions of years of evolution have shaped you to be happier here than anywhere else in the vast universe. This is your paradise." No, instead God places Adam and Eve in a place where there can be no love; only fear, and fear-based behavior, obedience. God threatens to kill Adam and Eve if they disobey his wishes. God tells them that the worst crime, a capital offense, is to ask a question; to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. What kind of father is this? As Diderot observed, the God of Genesis "loved his apples more than he did his children."

This imperative not to be curious is probably the most self-hating aspect of all, because what is our selective advantage as a species? We're not the fastest. We're not the strongest. We're not the biggest. However, we do have one selective advantage that has enabled us to survive and prosper and endure: A fairly large brain relative to our body size. This has made it possible for us to ask questions and to recognize patterns. And slowly over the generations we've turned this aptitude into an ability to reconstruct our distant past, to question the very origins of the universe and life itself. It's our only advantage, and yet this is the one thing that God does not want us to have: consciousness, self-awareness.

Perhaps Genesis should be read as an ironic story. Here's a god who does not give us the knowledge of good and evil. He knows we don't know right from wrong. Yet he tells us not to do something anyway. How can someone who doesn't know right from wrong be expected to do the right thing? By disobeying god, we escape from his totalitarian prison where you cannot ask any questions, where you must never question authority. We become our human selves.

Our nation was founded on a heroic act of disobedience to a king who was presumed to rule by divine right. We created social and legal mechanisms to institutionalize the questioning of authority and the participation of every person in the decision-making process. It's the most original thing about us, our greatest contribution to global civilization. Today, our not-exactly-elected officials try to make it seem as if questioning this ancient story is wrong. . . . That the teaching of our evolving understanding of nature, which is a product of what we have been able to discover over generations, is somehow un-American or disrespectful of strongly held beliefs. As if we should not teach our children what we've learned about our origins, but rather we should continue to teach them this story which demonizes the best qualities of our founding fathers.

This makes no sense and it leads me to a question: Why do we separate the scientific, which is just a way of searching for truth, from what we hold sacred, which are those truths that inspire love and awe? Science is nothing more than a never-ending search for truth. What could be more profoundly sacred than that? I'm sure most of what we all hold dearest and cherish most, believing at this very moment, will be revealed at some future time to be merely a product of our age and our history and our understanding of reality. So here's this process, this way, this mechanism for finding bits of reality. No single bit is sacred. But the search is.

And so we pursue knowledge by using the scientific method to constantly ferret out all the mistakes that human beings chronically make, all of the lies we tell ourselves to combat our fears, all of the lies we tell each other. Here's science, just working like a tireless machine. It's a phenomenally successful one, but its work will never be finished.

In four hundred years, we evolved from a planet of people who are absolutely convinced that the universe revolves around us. No inkling that the Sun doesn't revolve around us, let alone that we are but a minuscule part of a galaxy that contains roughly a hundred billion stars. If scientists are correct, if recent findings of planets that revolve around other stars are correct, there are perhaps five hundred billion worlds in this galaxy, in a universe of perhaps another hundred billion galaxies. And it is conceivable, even possible, that this universe might one day be revealed to be nothing more than an electron in a much greater universe. And here's a civilization that was absolutely clueless four or five hundred years ago about its own tiny world and the impossibly greater vastness surrounding it. We were like a little bunch of fruit flies going around a grape, and thinking this grape is the center of everything that is. To our ancestors the universe was created for one particular gender of one particular species of one particular group among all the stunning variety of life to be found on this tiny little world.

There was only one problem. These very special beings for whom the universe was created had a holiday called Easter and they wanted to be able to celebrate it on the same day at the same time. But in this geocentric universe that they blissfully inhabited, there was no way to create a workable calendar that was coherent. At this time, there was a phrase to describe what science was. It is suffused with disarming candor and not a bit of self-consciousness at all. It was called saving the appearances. That was the task of science: To save the appearances. Figure out a way to take the reported appearances of the stars and the planets in the sky and predict with some reliability where they would be in the future. It's almost as if they knew they were living a cosmic lie. To call it saving the appearances is wonderful.

So the Lateran Council of 1514 was convened, and one of its main goals was to figure out a calendar that everybody could use so that they won't be celebrating Easter on different days. A man named Nicolas Copernicus, who was a very religious guy, whose lifelong career was in the church, had already figured out what the problem was. He was invited to present this information at the Council, but he declined because he knew how dangerous it would be to puncture this cosmological illusion. Even though the pope at that moment was not actually terribly exercised about this idea, Copernicus's fears were not baseless. Even sixty years later, a man named Giordano Bruno was burned alive for one reason: he would not utter the phrase, "There are no other worlds."

I've thought about this a lot. How could you have the guts to be willing to be burned alive? Bruno had no community of peers to egg him on. He wasn't even a scientist, he didn't really have any scientific evidence, but he chose this horrible death because he refused to say this phrase: "There are no other worlds." It's a magnificent thing, it's a wondrous mystery to me, and I don't think I completely understand how it was possible.

Copernicus did find the courage to publish his idea when he was comfortably near a natural death. When in 1543, On The Revolutions of Celestial Spheres was published, something unprecedented happened: a trauma from which we have never recovered. Up until that time, the sacred and the scientific had been one. Priests and scientists had been one in the same. It is true that two millennia before Copernicus there had been the pre-Socratic philosophers, who really were the inventors of science and the democratic values of our society. These ancient Greeks could imagine a universe and a world without God. But they were very much the exception, flourishing too briefly before being almost completely extirpated philosophically by the Platonists. Many of their books were destroyed. Plato loathed their materialism and egalitarian ideals. So there really wasn't a vibrant school of thought with a continuous tradition that survived down through the ages, daring to explain the wonder of nature without resorting to the God hypothesis.

It was actually initiated by a group of uncommonly religious men like Copernicus, Newton, Kepler, and (much later) even Darwin, who catalyzed that separation between our knowledge of nature and what we held in our hearts. All four of them either had religious careers or were contemplating such a profession. They were brilliant questioners, and they used the sharpest tools they had to search for what was holy. They had enough confidence in the reality of the sacred to be willing to look at it as deeply as humanly possible. This unflinching search led to our greatest spiritual awakening-the modern scientific revolution. It was a spiritual breakthrough, and I think that it is our failure to recognize it as such that explains so much of the loneliness and madness in our civilization, so much of the conflict and self-hatred. At that time, the public and their religious institutions, of course, rejected out of hand their most profound insights into nature. It was several hundred years before the public really thought about this, and took seriously what Copernicus was saying. The last four centuries of disconnect between what our elders told us and what we knew was true has been costly for our civilization.

I think we still have an acute case of post-Copernican-stress syndrome. We have not resolved the trauma of losing our infantile sense of centrality in the universe. And so as a society we lie to our children. We tell them a palliative story, almost to ensure that they will be infantile for all of their lives. Why? Is the notion that we die so unacceptable? Is the notion that we are tiny and the universe is vast too much of a blow to our shaky self-esteem?

It has only been through science that we have been able to pierce this infantile, dysfunctional need to be the center of the universe, the only love object of its creator. Science has made it possible to reconstruct our distant past without the need to idealize it, like some adult unable to deal with the abuse of childhood. We've been able to view our tiny little home as it is. Our conception of our surroundings need not remain the disproportionate view of the still-small child. Science has brought us to the threshold of acceptance of the vastness. It has carried us to the gateway of the universe. However, we are spiritually and culturally paralyzed and unable to move forward; to embrace the vastness, to embrace our lack of centrality and find our actual place in the fabric of nature. That we even do science is hopeful evidence for our mental health. It's a breakthrough. However, it's not enough to allow these insights; we must take them to heart.

What happened four or five hundred years ago? During this period there was a great bifurcation. We made a kind of settlement with ourselves. We said, okay, so much of what we believed and what our parents and our ancestors taught us has been rendered untenable. The Bible says that the Earth is flat. The Bible says that we were created separately from the rest of life. If you look at it honestly, you have to give up these basic ideas, you have to admit that the Bible is not infallible, it's not the gospel truth of the creator of the universe. So what did we do? We made a corrupt treaty that resulted in a troubled peace: We built a wall inside ourselves.

It made us sick. In our souls we cherished a myth that was rootless in nature. What we actually knew of nature we compartmentalized into a place that could not touch our souls. The churches agreed to stop torturing and murdering scientists. The scientists pretended that knowledge of the universe has no spiritual implications.

It's a catastrophic tragedy that science ceded the spiritual uplift of its central revelations: the vastness of the universe, the immensity of time, the relatedness of all life and it's preciousness on this tiny world.

When I say "spiritual," it's a complicated word that has some unpleasant associations. Still, there has to be a word for that soaring feeling that we experience when we contemplate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution and four and a half billion years of the story of life on this planet. Why should we give that up? Why do we not give this to our children? Why is it that in a city like Los Angeles, a city of so many churches and temples and mosques, there's only one place like this Center for Inquiry? And that it's only us here today? Fewer than a hundred people in a city of millions? Why is that? Why does the message of science not grab people in their souls and give them the kind of emotional gratification that religion has given to so many?

This is something that I think we have to come to grips with. There's a confusion generally in our society. There is a great wall that separates what we know from what we feel.

Medicine has had an oath that goes back to Hippocrates. Hippocrates is an amazing figure, both a father of scientific ethics and first articulator of the insight that frees humankind to discover the universe. He's one of those pre-Socratic philosophers I was talking about earlier, and he said something that resonated for me at a moment in my life when I realized what my path would be. His words inspired me to try as hard as I could in my own life to make it matter what is true. Hippocrates was writing in an essay called Sacred Disease 2,500 years ago. He was writing about the sacred disease that is now called epilepsy, and very matter-of-factly he said something that struck me like a lightning bolt. I'll paraphrase: "People believe that this disease is sacred simply because they don't know what causes it? But some day I believe they will, and the moment they figure out why people have epilepsy, it will cease to be considered divine." Why don't we have schools everywhere that teach children about Hippocrates, about the power of asking questions, rather than cautionary tales about the punishment for doing so. Our kids are not taught in school about Hippocrates, not taught about this multigenerational process of divesting ourselves of superstitions, false pattern recognition, and all the things that go with it, racism, sexism, xenophobia, all that constellation of baggage that we carry with us. We live in a society now where our leadership is all about promoting superstition, promoting xenophobia.

It seems to me that the biggest challenge we face is to evolve a language that couples the cold-eyed skepticism and rigor of science with a sense of community, a sense of belonging that religion provides. We have to make it matter what is true. If instead we say that what really matters is to have faith, what really matters is to believe, we'll never get there. It's not enough to have forty minutes of science in the daily school program, because science shouldn't be compartmentalized that way. Science is a way of looking at absolutely everything.

What I find disappointing about most religious beliefs is that they are a kind of statement of contempt for nature and reality. It's absurdly hubristic. It holds the myths of a few thousand years above nature's many billion-yeared journey. It says reality is inferior and less satisfying than the stories we make up.

Friday, May 06, 2005

It doesnt take much effort to discredit religion. Its leaders pretty much do that on their own.

Today on ABC’s This Week, Robertson was confronted with a passage from his book “The New World Order” where he writes, “How dare you maintain that those who believe in Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims? My simple answer is, ‘Yes, they are."‘

STEPHANOPOLOUS: Does that mean Hindu and Muslim judges?

ROBERTSON: Right now, I think people who feel that they should be in jihad against America (inaudible) the Islamic people saying they divide the world into two spheres: Dar al-Islam and Daral-Harb. The Dar al-Islam are those submitted to Islam. Dar al-Harb are those who are at the land of war. And they have said in the Qu’ran there’s a war against all the infidels. Do you want somebody like that sitting as a judge? I wouldn’t.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So I take it then, the answer to the question is that you believe only Christians and Jews are qualified to serve in the federal judiciary?

ROBERTSON: I’m not sure I’d make such a broad sweeping statement. But I just feel that those who share the philosophy of the founders of this nation, who assent to the principles of the Declaration of Independence, who assent to the principles that underlie the Constitution: Such people are the ones that should be judges.

America's Children and Future Are Threatened

I am sorry if I sound a little annoyed, but this story and this situation is pathetic. My tolerence for religion grows weaker every day. If you want to beleive in God then fine, go ahead. But at least adapt your religion to what science proves. The church has done this for centuries.

Why stop at Evolutionary theory, while your at it down there in Kansas why not insist on teaching the alternative view that the Earth is the center of the universe.

The people of Kansas should be embarassed by this development and should do something about it right now! / News / Nation / Echoes of Scopes Trial heard in 'intelligent design' hearing: "Echoes of Scopes Trial heard in 'intelligent design' hearing
Kansas panel eyeing school science change

By Nina J. Easton, Globe Staff | May 6, 2005

TOPEKA, Kan. -- The state's board of education yesterday kicked off a spirited four-day hearing on proposed changes to school science standards that could determine how evolution is taught to the children of Kansas -- five years after voters rebelled against a state school board that had sided with creationists.

Employing a courtroom format similar to the famed 1925 Scopes Trial in Tennessee that pitted creationists against evolutionists, the dispute seemed similar -- only this time evolution's critics insist science, not religion, is their motivation.

Instead of relying on pens, these lawyers used PowerPoint projections in an auditiorium packed with local residents and journalists from around the world. The ''jury' consisted of three school board members who had already made up their minds -- a veterinarian, an elementary school teacher, and a former preschool operator. All three continued to make clear, as they have in the past, their personal doubts about evolutionary theory.

Yesterday's witnesses studiously avoided references to God and Christianity, flaunted their scientific credentials, and tossed around words like ''reasoned,' ''empirical,' and ''peer review' as they touted intelligent design theory. Intelligent design, a relatively new twist to criticisms of evolution, posits that certain aspects of the universe -- particularly the origins of life -- are too complex to explain through natural causes, and that scientists should be willing to attribute mysteries to an ''intelligent designer.' Critics say the theory is just creationism dressed up as science.

The proposed change to school standards ''does not introduce religion. It does not introduce creationism,' insisted William S. Harris, a professor of medicine credited with groundbreaking research on fish oil's role in combating heart disease and cofounder of a Kansas group, the Intelligent Design Network.

Scientists opposing changes to state standards boycotted the hearing, saying the session was rigged to showcase intelligent design theory. Harry McDonald, a retired biology teacher and president of Kansas Citizens for Science, called the hearings a ''farce.'

''These are whiney people who haven't done good science on this issue,' he said in an interview. ''They haven't gotten their work accepted through peer review, and so they go crying to the school board.'

Intelligent design advocates are actively promoting teaching their critiques of evolutionary theory in at least 16 states besides Kansas, though in yesterday's hearings they stressed they do not argue in favor of forcing the teaching of their own theory. They point to public opinion polls indicating that only a third of Americans believe Darwin's theories are supported by the evidence.

Opponents say intelligent design is stripped of references to God so as not to cross legal lines set in 1987 when the Supreme Court outlawed the teaching of creation science.

While mainstream scientists are refusing to send witnesses to the Topeka hearings, they tapped one of the Midwest's top civil rights lawyers, Pedro Irigonegaray, to question proponents of the intelligent design. In cross-examinations, Irigonegaray made the case that Kansas teachers and students already have the right to criticize and debate both evolution and intelligent design, that intelligent design advocates had religious motivations, and that reliance on intelligent design risked thwarting scientific inquiry.

The proposed changes, which are being promoted by a three-person school board subcommittee that was not part of the original revision process, would inject language into statewide standards that are critical of macroevolution theory, which refers to evolutionary changes that can result in new species.

Intelligent design advocates say they embrace microevolution -- evolutionary changes within a species. They also want students exposed to evidence challenging Darwin's theory that human and animals share ancestry, and arguments that the origins of life cannot be reduced to chemical reactions.

Both sides agree that the current school standards do not address origins of life, do allow intelligent design to be discussed, and do not refer to evolution as random or ''unguided.'

In 1999, a Kansas school board controlled by religious conservatives voted to downplay the importance of evolution in the standards. The following year, voters recast the school board with moderates back in control.

In media briefings conducted outside yesterday's ''courtroom,' science groups questioned the religious motivations of witnesses appearing on behalf of intelligent design.

Harris, the day's first witness, acknowledged his ''designer' would be ''the God of the Bible' and that his interest in school standards dates back to 1999, when antievolutionists were more openly called creationists. He also said that reading ''between the lines,' the standards embraced atheism and naturalism."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Some new quotes for thought

Religion is the opiate of the people.
~ Karl Marx

If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be - a Christian.
- Mark Twain

A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy,
education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary.
Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of
punishment and hope of reward after death.
~ Albert Einstein

"Where knowledge ends, religion begins."
-- Benjamin Disraeli

"The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by Homo Sapiens is that the Lord God of
Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of his
creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does
not receive this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of
evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least
productive industries in history."
-- Robert Heinlein

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

"Hell is an outrage on humanity. When you tell me that your deity made you in his image,
I reply that he must have been very ugly."
-- Victor Hugo

"Take from the church the miraculous, the supernatural, the incomprehensible,
the unreasonable, the impossible, the unknowable, the absurd, and nothing but a
vacuum remains."
-- Robert G. Ingersoll

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear
thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth."
-- Henry Mencken

"Nothing can be more contrary to religion and the clergy than reason and common sense."
-- Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire)

"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

Good people can do good and bad people can do evil. But for good people to do evil -- that takes religion.
-- Steven Weinberg

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
-- Blaise Pascal

Friday, February 25, 2005

Praying for the Pope

"Pope John Paul II has released a new controversial book where he suggests same-sex marriage is part of an "ideology of evil" and draws an analogy between abortion and the Holocaust."

This type of hatred cannot be tolerated. In my country if I wrote a book and stated that gay marriage was evil I may be charged with a hate crime.

The Pope should be respected for holding true to his faith, but as society changes (and the Catholic church is always the last to jump on board) we must take responsibility to argue against statements that are both ridiculous and harmful. If the Pope had said that evolution is the new ideology of evil, I would not have been concerned. No people were attacked by a statement like that. It is doubtful that scientists will be assaulted in bars. But homosexuals are much more of a target to pathetic individuals who could justify their actions with the words of the Pope.

I am tired of his defenders stating all the good he has done (I agree he has done some good) with statements like John Paul II has seen the fall of communism. Well so have I, but John Paul was no more responsible for the fall of communism than I was. Lets not forget he has also seen the rise of pedophilia within the church, and this is an area where he has some power.

I do not wish any ill will for a man who has devoted his life to his faith, but I will always point out the fallacy of his beliefs and all others who believe as he does. Sooner or later their will be a new pope and while I wish we could just scrap the whole religion altogether, I know this will not happen (yet). So the best we can hope for at this stage is a Pope that grew up in another generation and is somewhat more worldly in his views. Perhaps a Pope who lived through the sixties. This way changes that swept western society 45 years ago could finally reach the Vatican.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Worst Christianity Has to Offer

This letter was written to President Bush after his election win. Can you imagine if more of these types actually find themselves in positions of power. A government like that would be the Taliban of Christianity.

November 3, 2004

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The media tells us that you have received the largest number of popular votes of any president in America's history. Congratulations!

In your re-election, God has graciously granted America--though she doesn't deserve it--a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

Had your opponent won, I would have still given thanks, because the Bible says I must (I Thessalonians 5:18). It would have been hard, but because the Lord lifts up whom He will and pulls down whom He will, I would have done it. It is easy to rejoice today, because Christ has allowed you to be His servant in this nation for another presidential term. Undoubtedly, you will have opportunity to appoint many conservative judges and exercise forceful leadership with the Congress in passing legislation that is defined by biblical norm regarding the family, sexuality, sanctity of life, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and limited government. You have four years--a brief time only--to leave an imprint for righteousness upon this nation that brings with it the blessings of Almighty God.

Christ said, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my father honour" (John 12:26).

The student body, faculty, and staff at Bob Jones University commit ourselves to pray for you--that you would do right and honor the Savior. Pull out all the stops and make a difference. If you have weaklings around you who do not share your biblical values, shed yourself of them. Conservative Americans would love to see one president who doesn't care whether he is liked, but cares infinitely that he does right.

Best wishes.

Sincerely your friend,

Bob Jones III

PS: A few moments ago I read this letter to the students in Chapel. They applauded loudly their approval.

When I told them that Tom Daschle was no longer the minority leader of the Senate, they cheered again.

On occasion, Christians have not agreed with things you said during your first term. Nonetheless, we could not be more thankful that God has given you four more years to serve Him in the White House, never taking off your Christian faith and laying it aside as a man takes off a jacket, but living, speaking, and making decisions as one who knows the Bible to be eternally true.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Unknown author's

"'Faith is deciding to allow yourself to believe something
your intellect would otherwise cause you to reject --
otherwise there's no need for faith.'
unknown author

'Theology: The study of elaborate verbal disguises for non-ideas'
unknown author

'There are none more ignorant and useless, than they that seek answers on their knees, with their eyes closed.'
unknown author

'Humanity's first sin was faith; the first virtue was doubt.'
unknown author

'I am treated as evil by those who feel persecuted because they are not allowed to force me to believe as they do.'
unknown author

'A society without religion is like a crazed psychopath without a .45.'
unknown author

'Philosophy is questions that may never be answered.
Religion is answers that may never be questioned.'
unknown author

'Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day;
give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish.'
unknown author

The mind of the fundamentalist is like the pupil of the eye:
the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract.
unknown author"

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Faith and Reason Quotes

William K Clifford
“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

Richard Dawkins
“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

Benjamin Franklin
“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

William James
“Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.”

Søren Kierkegaard
“Certainty... lurks at the door of faith and threatens to devour it.”

Martin Luther
“Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.”

Blaise Pascal
“Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them.”

Bertrand Russell
“We may define ‘faith’ as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of "faith." We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”

Mark Twain
“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”

"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."
-William Kingdon Clifford

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear."
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
When I became convinced that the universe is natural--that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world--not even in infinite space. I was free--free to think, to express my thoughts--free to live to my own ideal--free to live for myself and those I loved--free to use all my faculties, all my senses--free to spread imagination's wings--free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope--free to judge and determine for myself--free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past--free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies--free from the fear of eternal pain-- free from the winged creatures of the night--free from devils, ghosts, and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought--no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings--no chains for my limbs--no lashes for my back--no fires for my flesh--no master's frown or threat--no following in another's steps--no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all words. And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain--for the freedom of labor and thought--to those who fell on the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound in chains--to those by fire consumed--to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.

Robert Green Ingersoll

Friday, December 17, 2004

My First occurrence of Disregarding God

My views and opinions on religion were both developed out of my own experiences as a child attending Sunday school and as an adult who has developed somewhat of a "Free thought" attitude. Free thought is the need to justify an opinion with evidence rather than to have faith in an opinion in spite of evidence. (see

As a child of approximately seven or eight years old I was attending Sunday school classes (an event I dutifully tried to avoid every week). It occurred to me at some point prior to going to class that the story of creation in the Bible as I understood it conflicted with my understanding of dinosaurs and their presence on Earth 65 million years ago. I asked my mom about this at the time and I suppose as she was unable to answer the question (being a "believer"); she suggested that I ask the Sunday school teacher. As best I can recall I set out to do just that in my next class. The Sunday school teacher being an older woman, very conservative I would say in retopect, struck me as someone who would not be able to answer the question. My concern fore putting her in a awkward situation in which she have no answer in frount of the entire class forced me to abandon my question. She may have very well had an answer but to this day my doubt remains.

Even at this age I was aware that stories I was being told every week were not backed up by any degree of evidence, while evidence was abundant for opposing views. I cannot remember as I look back, a time when I ever really believed in God.

I can't beleive I have never added this Saganism

Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy. -Carl Sagan

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Intelligent design being taught in US schools

As a Canadian this does not directly affect me as I have not heard of any jurisdictions adding "Intelligent Design" to the curriculum. However, south of the border in the US it is being added by more and more school boards as part of their high school biology or science classes.

In the US, Intelligent Design is not taught in any credible Universities, the only exceptions are a couple of evangelist run institutions. I have read several articles in the last couple of days in which Intelligent Design is referred to as a theory (ie Intelligent Design Theory), as if it should be considered along side the likes of Evolutionary Theory.

Their are 2 definitions of theory that apply here:
1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.

The first definition is the accepted scientific definition of what constitutes a theory, the second is a contrived definition whos usefulness is designed to add credibility to a statement which would not be considered probable.
The first definition applies to Evolutionary Theory. The second definition describes what the religious right has done to adapt to a more and more accepted truth that threatens to discredit their beliefs.

Intelligent Design is pseudo-science. Adding this to the curriculum only serves to put those students at an intellectual disadvantage when compared to students around the world.

Teaching Intelligent Design serves and agenda. The very fact that their are groups who lobby to have this added should be cause for alarm, it should make us ask why. Evolutionary Theory on the other hand has earned its place within the schools. It has been tested, it has adapted and it is accepted. Proof of this is the emergence of Intelligent Design as a last ditch effort to make some connection to a God, but in accepting intelligent design one has to completely disregard Genesis. I wonder if the religious right considered that.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Why I am an Atheist

The following is an excellent article.

Why I am an Atheist

from: "The Value of Free Thought"

What makes a Free Thinker is not his beliefs, but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought, he finds a balance of evidence in their favor, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.'

- Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Once again a quote from the best.

To discover that the Universe is some 8 to 15 billion years and not 6 to 12 thousand years old improves our appreciation of its sweep and grandeur; to entertain the notion that we are a particularly complex arrangement of atoms, and not some breath of divinity, at the very least enhances our respect for atoms; to discover, as now seems probable, that our planet is one of billions of other worlds in the Milky Way Galaxy and that our galaxy is one of billions more, majestically expands the arena of what is possible; to find that our ancestors were also the ancestors of apes ties us to the rest of life and makes possible important - if occaisionally rueful - reflections on human nature.
--Carl Sagan (Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Men dare not avow, even to their own hearts, the doubts which they entertain on such subjects. They make a merit of implicit faith; and disguise to themselves their real infidelity, by the strongest asseverations and the most positive bigotry.
--David Hume

from: The Age of Reason

Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. --Tom Paine

Friday, November 26, 2004

Bible Verses

I was going to write about ridiculous bible verses in the next couple of days, but this e-mail I received has saved me the trouble. Feel free to verify these, they are all in the bible.

Dear President Bush,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from you and understand why you would propose and support a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As you said "in the eyes of God marriage is based between a man a woman." I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18: 22 clearly states it to be an abomination . . End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25: 44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21: 7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a air price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness - Lev. 15: 19-24. The oblem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev. 1: 9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35: 2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11: 10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there degrees of abomination?

7. Lev. 21: 20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11: 6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19: 19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and aspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24: 10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20: 14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, as well, you have a direct line to God so I am confident you can help
Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.