cubelight gfx

Art Out

Buy Stuff

Friday, May 22, 2009

The more rigid the belief, the more inevitable the snap.


Interesting, compelling, and a side of the story I hadn't seen yet.

Belief may be a right, but God forbid beliefs should ever be tested, disparaged, challenged, or contradicted in a publicly-funded space. Where, I wonder, did the Farnans learn that the most appropriate response to such challenges is litigation, instead of discussion and confrontation? (And what, I wonder, have the creationists who plainted about "activist" judges in 2005 have to say about this decision?)

So then I see this.

So a few brief, open comments to creationists:

The Earth is not 6,000 years old. The Bible does not claim it is. Those who are familiar with the writings of James Ussher understand how the number was derived (relying on numerous sources separate from scripture), and must also recognize the inherent fallibility of such methods. He worked with the best information he had at the time, and had to fill the gaps in scripture from sources external to the Bible. Now we've moved on. More sources of information have come to light since then. So unless you accept the age of the universe being around 14 billion years, you really do believe in nonsense.

Believe whatever you want. But no amount of pretentious posturing, declarations of faith, litigation or lying will ever make such beliefs acceptable or true.

There is also no doubt that people who believe such things are arrogantly ignorant, like Don McLeroy here. Anyone less afflicted with hubris would be ashamed to say such things. Anyone less afflicted with hubris would probably also know better than to embarrass himself in front of God and an entire planet.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Going to England in September...

Because we're going. Haven't done anything but purchase plane tickets at this point, but that's a major start.

Since this is my first trip to that splendid isle, any advice from savvy travelers or natives would be most welcome.

Now that I'm broke, I need to get funds together for the registration proper, place to stay, and something to live on while there.

Anyone need some work done?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Of the Folly of Fools

An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.
--Proverbs 17:11

Recently I was involved in yet another discussion with a creationist (this time online). Unfortunately the entirety of the conversation was deleted. So I can't point it out. I don't think I need to speculate why creationsts excise threads on their own blogs where their opinions have gone awry.

However, before that, I had planned and written a final response to a link he provided to the Institute of Creation Research, which I've adapted and expanded here:

There is a passage in the Bible when light is created (Genesis 1:3). Not the Sun, but light (the Sun is created on the fourth day). The ancient Hebrews apparently regarded the light of the sky as something separate from the light of the sun, hence the apparent redundancy.

But the failing of light in the evening does not define a day--the rotation of the Earth does (and this defines the days in the calendar year, which must be occasionally corrected to accommodate the actual length of a solar year, otherwise planting seasons will fall out of sync). But since such was unknown at the time the original Hebrew was set down, it might make sense back then to regard the light of the sky as the definition of day--but carrying this notion forward as a literal interpretation means all science about the roundness of the Earth and where our light comes from--the basis of the calendar year and its subsequent and necessary modifications--must be rejected.

In order to regard the Bible as literal and inerrant, it is now therefore better than all of observed reality, without any regard to how Creation itself is observed--if God made the universe, and the Bible contradicts what God has made, then what we can see of Creation must be discarded in favor of the human-made text. All of geology, astronomy, cosmology, biology--boom. Overturned. Done with. It doesn't matter how useful they are or how correct they are--it is now "wrong." The consequences could be staggering and devastating to civilization, but who cares?--We're putting the human interpretation of the text above reality. The hermeneutic Literal and Inerrant makes a liar of Creation.

But all of this awkwardness goes away once Literal and Inerrant is rejected in favor of parable, story, and metaphor. Make no mistake: the choice of interpretation of these writings is ultimately a purely human decision (and is not rooted in the word of God).

Since theology is about (in part) the relationship humanity has with its creator, I have to ask what sort of theology it is that permits Jesus to use parables, but such things aren't tolerated elsewhere in the same text? If Scripture is inspired by God, if not outright literally represented as the word of God, then could any theology be more awkward than one which actually disallows God from communicating in a method that would be remembered, recorded, and passed on, rather than a literal scientifically-accurate description of how the universe came to be?

Theology shouldn't be troubled by the material, but some religious believers have willfully and rigidly set their philosophies so that it is just that. Why does a minority of Christianity allow itself to be troubled by evolution? Because their chosen philosophy demands that any perceived conflict with the material universe (i.e., Creation) be dealt with by rejecting evidence, rebelling against science, and idolizing the authority that obliges them to do both.

So when any religious group goes up against science, it has absolutely nothing to do with God (and everything to do with rebellion).

Not when so many fail to quote accurately from the science itself, which is nothing short of deceit. (A distortion is deceit. A quote mine transfigures and edits text from the source in order to make it reflect a very different agenda--and it is nothing less than deception.) And how many refuse to stop parroting the "evolution is impossible because it is statistically improbable" argument, when, to anyone who actually knows anything about mathematics or statistics, it is wrong (and trivially easy to refute (see item No. 10))? Could it be that this argument is not aimed at those who are familiar with these subjects, but, in fact, those who are ignorant of them--who have neither education nor knowledge otherwise? (Do Christians who do this sort thing think there's a clause or loophole in the ten commandments that permits this dishonest behavior? What on earth makes them believe they do?)

Not when so many make use of the most poisonous rhetoric to describe evolutionary biology and those who use it in their work (cf. comparison to Nazism etc.).

Not when they fail to uphold their own standards (or what should be their own standards) when it comes to representing science. Arrogance combined with ignorance is so typical of virtually every creationist I've talked with--in person or online--that it has actually become a legitimate stereotype. (Behold the behavior of those who supplant science with their own religious viewpoints. They plaint that science rejects their ideas, but since they rejected science first, why should anyone sympathize with them?)

When every "creation research" organization I've ever seen without fail commits these acts of deception, disrespect, and hubris, what basis is there for their existence? The fact that they advance outright garbage as science is almost completely beside the point. Any organization or individual who behaves in this manner will simply not be seen as trustworthy. And why should they be? If they sacrifice the smaller morals, how can the larger ones have any meaning?

What research program do any of these "research" organizations really offer? What have they published--not self-published, but really, actually published in the scientific literature? If the answer to that is "nothing," (and it is) then these organizations--some of which subsist largely on enough donations that would embarrass in their riches many legitimate scientific labs worldwide--are nothing but parasites.

And for what? So they can keep up the pretense of belief in God merely because they crave an unassailable authority that allows them to do so?

Is that what faith is supposed to be about? Can it truly be faith if it is crucially dependent upon something as hollow as human authority?

Decadent is a word which often goes with decay, and on that note, does any word better fit the moral landscape presented by the political movement of fundamentalist creationism? Most professional creationism is already perfectly synonymous with dishonesty--and scientists and informed laypersons alike both know it.

Fact is, many Christians find their faith isn't challenged by science. Millions of them worldwide simply take science in stride--and it affects their religious beliefs not a bit. If you're a Christian who believes the Earth is young and that evolution is a lie, maybe you should ask yourself what they are doing right, and figure out what you are doing wrong.

It is up to you to adopt a theology which, as the very keystone of its existence, doesn't oblige the most egregious illiteracy (historic, scientific, and theologic) and therefore doesn't fly in the face of reality.

I want to close this with a bit of a confession: I don't really like the role of the cruel messenger. I find I am ill-suited for it and would much rather spend time with those who do know what they are talking about, who actually practice science--a process of knowing and understanding which is unequivocally unrivaled in its results. From them, I can and have learned much about science and the universe.

In contrast, what creationists have taught me is that they are often untrustworthy, arrogant, and difficult to deal with. I sometimes resent the time it takes responding to them because honestly, cruelty is not all it's cracked up to be, and my patience for dealing with arrogance and dishonesty is becoming shorter the longer I do it.

But I suppose so long as the cult of rebellion against science exists, I'd best get used to it.