Update on Presidential Candidates

January 11, 2008

faithwatch
PFW:25

Well it’s 2008 and we’re seeing Presidential candidates dropping like flies. We’re through the first couple primaries and by now we’ve said goodbye to:

Sam Brownback – an extremely religious candidate this blog is sad to see go, simply because he gave us such fun stuff to talk about.

Chris Dodd – Dodd, a Roman Catholic, didn’t have enough support to really be in this race to begin with.

Joe Biden – Biden once said, “The next Republican that tells me I’m not religious, I’m going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.”

Tom Tancredo – Tancredo, along with Brownback and Huckabee, denied a belief in evolution.

Bill Richardson – Bill Richardson is the latest candidate to go. It’s now becoming a time when actual qualified candidates are dropping out of the race. Richardson said to win the war against Jihadism, “the United States must first live up to its own ideals.”

My prediction for the next Candidate to go: Ron Paul. I think true or not, this story is going to bury him!

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Idiotic Comment Award

December 27, 2007

Every once in awhile, we like to poke fun at those who post comments on the Internet with which we take issue. Today’s Idiotic Comment Award goes to a commenter on another Web site outside of TheGreatRealization.com. I thought it was fair game since the comment was on a story that referenced a Great Realization post questioning the Godliness of the world’s largest philanthropists.

Before we get to the comment, here’s the article.

[DRUM ROLL PLEASE] And the idiotic comment award goes to a user by the name of “Patrick” for the following gem!

I don’t know any religious thinker who says “without religious belief you cannot be moral.” I don’t doubt that there are some religious people who think so, but this is not a serious argument. I know many religious people who say that without religion, society cannot transmit morals, moral behavior is not promoted in society, and that immoral behavior is not discouraged. I don’t think a feeling of empathy can get a society to that point.

As far as the effect of religion on Buffet and Gates, I wonder if they haven’t been raised in religious homes. I don’t know. Maybe their motivations are simply altruistic, in which case they are the exception to the rule. Still, the American culture and environment in which they operate is religious. Good behavior is determined largely by the values that the Judeo-Christian tradition has engendered. As Arthur Brooks has shown, religious people give more than secular people. Of course that is not true in every particular. Regardless of their religious (or lack of) motivation, Gates and Buffet are doing good things.

stupidOkay, Patrick. Let’s take this piece by piece. First of all – there are MANY religious thinkers (if not most) that argue that religion is essential for morality. Just recently Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney made that exact argument in a speech about religion. Christian writers argue all the time that without Religion, we’re relegated to being a bunch of immoral monkeys running amuck around the planet. Just yesterday, Chuck Colson used a twisted understanding of the philosophy of Nietzsche to argue in the Christian post that:

One atheist understood the moral consequences of his unbelief: That was Nietzsche, who argued that God is dead, but acknowledged that without God there could be no binding and objective moral order.

Of course, the “New Atheists” deny this. Instead, they unconvincingly argue that you can have the benefits of an altruistic, Christian-like morality without God.

Of course, it should also be noted that Colson thinks that “You won’t find many atheists feeding the hungry and ministering to the sick in places like Africa or Mother Teresa’s Calcutta.” Apparently he doesn’t read this blog.

Look – I probably shouldn’t even use Colson as support here. He’s obviously got a screw loose and furthermore doesn’t understand science very well.

The point is – as an atheist, one sometimes fears telling other people about their lack of belief because of situations like this:

magikent: …so I helped serve food to the homeless at the shelter over Thanksgiving and then I delivered cookies to all the grandma’s in a three state area.

believer: Really, that’s so nice of you.

magikent: Yeah, then I went home and wrote a blog entry for “The Great Realization,” my atheist blog.

believer: What? You’re an atheist? I thought you said you helped feed the homeless? [HEAD EXPLODES]

dumb

I hear stories like this all the time. There are sadly many that simply can’t imagine a human possessing morals and values without the threat of eternal damnation.

Patrick also argues that “Good behavior is determined largely by the values that the Judeo-Christian tradition has engendered.” What? Patrick, my dogs can exhibit good behavior and I’m pretty sure they haven’t been up watching the 500 Club. Good behavior has to do with several things. The innate desire to end suffering, the natural understanding of “the golden rule,” and the desire to show compassion to others. These are things that are possible without any religious beliefs. They’re simply a condition of being human. We want to be happy and in order to be happy, we learn what makes us end our sufferings. One of the most obvious of these is to treat other people the way we would want to be treated. Even more sophisticated “learned behavior” could be attributed to mimicking of parenting styles and role models more than religion. However most Christians would tell you that it is the code of the Bible (most of the things above are mentioned as God’s word in the Bible) that is necessary to know these tips for good behavior. Because many of the Judeo-Christian God’s rules are natural, inborn desires and feelings in humans, the Bible is unnecessary for good or moral behavior. How many of the “Ten Commandments” can be explained through “Treat others as you wish to be treated?” Almost all of them. Yet Christians will argue that without understanding and living through God’s law, one can not be moral.

Patrick doesn’t believe it, so he get’s today’s idiotic comment award. YAY.


Is the World Flat? Daytime TV Windbags Want to Know.

September 20, 2007

Recently Sherri Shephard, co-host of ABC’s The View, was asked by Whoopi Goldberg “Is the world flat?” I’m pretty sure Whoopi was asking the question rhetorically, but Shephard didn’t understand this and started to answer the question academically. “Is the world flat?” repeated Shephard, “I don’t know.” She went on to explain it’s not important if the world is flat or round because what’s important is that she feeds her kids. Man, I hope her kids don’t want to grow up to be astronauts or geologists.

The View is great because it reflects the real life stupidity of Americans and delivers it to us in a convenient hour-long package. Some of the senseless ramblings that occur on this show are beyond belief.

Sherri wouldn’t make a very good contestant on Jeopardy, as she explained the next day on the program that she got confused due to the pressure. Since she was nervous from being asked a question in public, instead of “Is the Earth round or flat?” she heard, “How many triglycerides does it take to make pluto when the robutussin comes and the earth’s sun.” Man, her hearing must get really fucked up when she’s nervous! I’ve never heard anyone on Jeopardy confuse 1st grade science with cough medicine. Roll that beautiful bean footage:

Moral of the story. Memorize this clip. The next time ANYONE backs an argument with “Oh yeah? Well on the view, so and so said such and such,” you can pretty much tell them to go walk off the edge of the Earth.


Ed Brayton Addresses Evolution Education at YearlyKos

August 17, 2007

Ed Brayton, of “Dispatches from the Culture Wars,” gave a speech at YearlyKos.


My personal favorite part was the following definition:

Virulent Ignorance: the systematic accretion in one’s mind of a collection of myths, half-truths and outright falsehoods that gives one the illusion of knowledge.


Kent Hovind, Creation Scientist

August 8, 2007

Sorry, Children of Texas – You’re Fucked

August 8, 2007

The Atheist Experience has a story [via Texas Observer] about the future of students in the state of Texas.

Republican Rick Perry, who replaced George W. Bush as Governor of Texas is a pretty good representation of the religious right. (In 2003, he condemned the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas striking down sodomy laws and called Texas’s last such law “appropriate.”) Recently, Perry appointed Crazy Creationist Don McLeroy to be the Head of the Texas State Board of Education. Since then, there have been outcries from citizens calling him on his misinformed and dangerous view of science.

creation

One angry citizen writes:

I received a message from a Texas Citizens for Science supporter about an email message from SBOE member Don McLeroy that he received on October 30:

As an educator, I strongly dislike this trend. Are you doing things to combat this? Here is the email…

I replied as follows:

I share your disdain for McLeroy’s irrationality and contempt for science. I didn’t elect him. I am doing everything I can to prevent him from accomplishing his goals. Many other scientists and science educators are also involved in this effort.

In a perfect world, individuals such as McLeroy would not be elected to the State Board of Education. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in Texas.

I can assure you that many people organized months ago to oppose this nonsense. McLeroy is not even the worst one on the board.

If we fail in the vote, a court suit will surely follow.

Best,

Steven Schafersman

I reprint McLeroy’s recent letter below. It apparently was sent to his fellow SBOE members. It is mindboggling in its ignorance and contempt for science. McLeroy’s ranting deserves the widest possible exposure and publicity. Citizens should realize what kind of individuals they elect to an important public official position. I won’t bother to comment on his ignorant misrepresentation of scientific methods knowledge, since I have done so elsewhere at great length. Instead, I want to discuss his newest and latest excess.

It is clear that McLeroy’s strategy is to play one publisher against the others, hoping that if the others see that one biology book will be put on the conforming list, they will quickly agree to revise their books to also be adopted to that list. The reason for this is because adoption on the nonconforming list greatly reduces sales. This is the insidious power that the SBOE possesses to compel publishers to censor their books.

His statements that, “This action would approve all the books up for adoption, plus reward the book that most closely follows our standards. It does not negatively single out any book but fulfills our responsibility of standards conformity,” are untrue. It approves all the biology texts–except one–for the nonconforming list, thus negatively singling them out for ultimate rejection. The lucky one (Glencoe) on the conforming list will garner most of the sales due to widespread adoption by the state’s school districts.

Nonconforming books–while often perfectly good and scientifically accurate–will nevertheless be chosen far, far less than conforming books by the school districts. Putting textbooks on the nonconforming list greatly reduces their sales There are two reasons for this:

1. The adoption of nonconforming books by districts requires that every parent must be informed by letter that such books are being used. This obligation is SBOE policy that has been communicated to all Texas school districts. The only reason for this paperwork policy is to make it extra tiresome and difficult for school districts to adopt books that the SBOE decides do not meet its standards (such as scientifically-accurate biology textbooks).

2. Books adopted as conforming by the SBOE are completely free to requesting school districts. Nonconforming books, however, are not totally free. School districts must pay a percentage of their cost (I believe this is 20%, but I will have to research this to confirm).

The difference is certainly worth many tens of millions of dollars to a publisher on the conforming list, especially if you are the only one on the conforming list. Adopting only one textbook as conforming would be extremely unfair to the other texts, especially when they are just as scientifically accurate–perhaps more so–as the lucky book and the reason for their nonconforming adoption is due completely to the personal ideology and politics of the SBOE members. Remember, the TEA textbook review panel found that all the biology books were 100% conforming to the TEKS. If McLeroy’s motions were to pass, all the publishers whose books were adopted on the nonconforming list would have major grounds for litigation.

Don McLeroy’s strategy–to succeed in his aims by using a publisher’s legitimate desire to make the highest profit and attempt to play one off against the others–is cynical and contemptible. Such conduct is completely unsuitable for an elected public official who is supposed to place the education of Texas students above his own personal agenda. Don McLeroy’s conduct should be condemned by all rational and ethical Texas citizens who value the education and welfare of their children.

Read more information here.

According to The Atheist Experience:

The Observer has unearthed (now this is journalism, people!) a recording of McLeroy addressing a sermon to his church, Grace Bible Church in College Station, on the subject of ID and evolution. The real battle, evidently, is against liberalism and naturalism. McLeroy sees ID as this glorious “big tent” that brings together religious pseudoscience of all stripes to unite against evil liberal naturalistic…uh…all that stuff. I can imagine the flacks at the Discovery Institute groaning over this one:

“Why is Intelligent Design the big tent? Because we’re all lined up against the fact that naturalism, that nature is all there is. Whether you’re a progressive creationist, recent creationist, young earth, old earth, it’s all in the tent of Intelligent Design.”

I especially love this passage from the Observer article.

McLeroy counsels fellow travelers to publicly battle evolution on the merits. “We must know our subject — facts and evidence are crucial,” he said in his sermon. But he acknowledges that this strategy has proven an utter failure.

Great work by the Texas Observer here.

To the citizens of Texas. I’m sorry. You’re fucked. If your Governor insists on making decisions like this, the future of your state is in jeopardy. Why would a student in Texas want to grow up to study geology if its a useless endeavor? After all, there’s no sense in studying what we know God made, right? So look forward to a generation of people coming out of Texas with absolutely no ability to grasp scientific reasoning.

And thanks Texas, for your contribution to our ever-growing reputation in the world for being a country who no longer leads in education; a country in which more than half of the population reject the theory of evolution. I was just saying the other day that what this country needs is more fucking lunatics. And it turns out, Texas has proved its ability to provide exactly that.


God Bless Atheism

August 5, 2007