This video is viral, and very funny, whether or not it's real. This is a girl on eHarmony describing what's important to her.
If you want to date her, you'd better like cats.
(HT: my son Scott)
Opinions and musings on religion, philosophy, science, politics, and life from a conservative Catholic neurosurgeon.
The government's inscription of the phrase "In God we trust" on coins and currency, as well as its addition of the words "under God" to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 and adoption of the phrase "In God we trust" as a national motto in 1956, were mistakes, which should be corrected.No problem, Doug. Next election, vote for the guy who agrees with you. When enough people do this, these guys who agree with you will pass legislation to correct the mistake.
Under our Constitution, the government has no business proclaiming that "we trust" "In God."We the People (i.e. the government) do have that right. It's not an establishment of religion, which is the only religious expression the Constitution forbids. There is no compulsion involved-- there are no Trust in God Police knocking on your door making sure that you're trusting in God-- so We the People can use our representative democracy to make any motto we want. 'We Trust in Buddha', 'We Trust in Beyonce', 'We Trust but Verify', 'We Trust No One', 'We Trust Doug'...
Some of us do, and some of us don't; each of us enjoys the freedom to make that choice; the government does not and should not purport to speak for us in this regard.Right, Doug. The Constitution bars the government from saying anything that 312,529,476 Americans don't all agree on.
Nor does the government have any business calling on its citizens to voice affirmation of a god in any circumstances, let alone in the very pledge the government prescribes for affirming allegiance to the country.That's your opinion, of course. You are entitled to work through the democratic process to stop the government from doing that.
The unnecessary insertion of an affirmation of a god in the pledge puts atheists and other nonbelievers in a Catch 22:"Congress shall make no law putting atheists and other nonbelievers in a Catch 22..."
Either recite the pledge with rank hypocrisy or accept exclusion from one of the basic rituals of citizenship enjoyed by all other citizens.That's right, Doug. The Constitution has an amendment prohibiting making you feel bad.
The government has no business forcing citizens to this choice on religious grounds,There's no force, Doug. Force is when you call the police to stop others from saying things.
and it certainly has no business assembling citizens' children in public schools and prescribing their recitation of the pledge--affirmation of a god and all--as a daily routine.People's children are legally required to attend school, and they are "prescribed" many things. It's called "curriculum".
But that's just me talking. The courts, on the other hand, have sometimes found ways to excuse such things, for instance with the explanation that they are more about acknowledging tradition than promoting religion per se.Bull. When most Americans say "God bless America" or "one nation, under God" they mean it. They want God to bless America and they believe we are a nation under God. It is peculiar to your atheist ideology to believe that other people don't hold their own views with the conviction with which you hold yours.
Draining the government's nominally religious statements or actions of religious meaning (or at least purporting to do so) and discounting them as non-religious ritual--sometimes dubbed "ceremonial deism"--is one way to find them not to conflict with the First Amendment.Invoking God is not deism. Deism is the belief that God is un-invokable. Deism is the belief that God does not act. Invoking God presupposes that He does act. Asking God to bless America or saying that our nation is under God is asserting that God acts and cares. It is the antithesis of deism. It ain't "ceremonial deism". What a dumb thing to say, Doug.
Ordinary folks, though, commonly see things differently; when they read "[i]n God we trust," they think the Government is actually declaring that "we" as a people actually "trust" the actual "God" they believe in.Most ordinary folks do trust in God. They are sovereign in America. We're a democracy. We made such references part of our public life.
If they understood it as merely a ritualistic phrase devoid of religious meaning, they would hardly get as exercised as they do about proposals to drop it.Yep. They understand what you're up to Doug, and it pisses them off. Pisses me off, too.
As you can imagine, those more interested in championing their religion than the constitutional principle of separation of church and state sometimes seek to exploit and expand such "exceptions" even if it requires they fake interest only in tradition.
[Egnor] "We hold these truths to be self-evident... all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights..."
[Dark Star] Of course this was written by the same people who codified the possession of one human by another into their Constitution (in the Enumeration, Importation, and Fugitive Slave clauses).So Jefferson is your hero who writes letters to Danbury Baptists about "separation of church and state" when it comes to bashing Christianity, but Jefferson (a slave owner himself) recedes into anonymity as one of "the same people who codified the possession of one human by another..." when it comes to... bashing Christianity. Convenient how that works.
Where exactly in the Bible does it say one person shall not not own another? No, it has rules about slavery that clearly do NOT condemn it, instead you are enjoined to obey your masters.The New Testament supersedes the Old Testament for Christians, so I won't comment on Levitical codes, except to point out that Levitical codes were regulations on slavery which delineated the rights of slaves and the obligations of Jews who owned slaves. The codes were an advance in human rights, in much the same way that the Magna Carta was an advance in political liberty, not because it guaranteed liberty as we moderns understand it, but because it limited a previously unlimited oppression. The Levitical codes limited slavery, and were revolutionary advances for human dignity, as was so much of the Jewish law.
"If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others. And if you want to be first, you must be the slave of the rest. The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people." (Matthew 20:26-28, CEV)
If you are a Christian and you believe that Slavery is morally wrong then you are in exactly the same position I am in...No, Dark Star we're not in the same position. Our positions differ radically.
On this Christmas Eve, one of the great unreported stories throughout what we used to call Christendom is the persecution of Christians around the world. In Egypt, the “Arab Spring” is going so swimmingly that Copts are already fleeing Egypt and, for those Christians that remain, Midnight Mass has to be held in the daylight for security reasons. In Iraq, midnight services have been canceled entirely for fear of bloodshed, part of the remorseless de-Christianizing that has been going on, quite shamefully, under an American imperium.
- Mark Steyn, Silent Night, December 24, 2011
The secular War on Christmas throughout the West presently serves as a lightweight bookend for the religious War on Christians throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. In the West, the persecution is still petty, tentative, and small-minded, elsewhere, it is purposeful, murderous and systematic. One cannot equate the banning of Merry Christmas wishes by elected politicians to the banning of Christians from holding elected office, or pretend that atheists co-opting public parks in order to promote nasty anti-holiday messages is the equivalent of violent attacks on Christian church celebrants.
But if the actions are different, the motivations stem from the same source, which is the desire to eliminate Christianity from the world. This is not a new desire; it was already hundreds of years old when the Emperor Diocletian issued the first of his four “Edicts against the Christians” in the year 303. Like the Western anti-Christians, Diocletian did not initially intend for there to be any bloodshed, but hoped that political and legal pressure would be sufficient to cause Christians to apostatize, but his hopes were dashed by the stalwart faith of the empire's Christians. His fourth Edict, therefore, demanded summary execution of all men, women, and children who were unwilling to offer sacrifice to any of the pagan gods.
Secular culture is no more intrinsically tolerant than Diocletian. Those who consciously adhere to “secular values” understand that they are fundamentally different than, and inherently opposed to, Christian values. While far too many Christians and non-Christians alike believe that it is still possible to arrange society in such a manner that secular values are given primacy in the public while still respecting Christian values in private, both ancient and recent history indicate otherwise. This is particularly true in any society with an activist government that uses fiscal policy and administrative law as tools for social engineering.
Many of the accomplishments of Christendom are being unwound, often by the unworthy heirs of Christendom itself. The increasingly secular British people bitterly complain about the continental subjugation of their once-independent isle even as they simultaneously continue to support the societal secularization that made that subjugation possible. Slaves are being bought and sold in numbers that have not been seen since William Wilberforce led the evangelical charge against the slave trade. As the concepts of individual rights and human liberty arose under Christendom, it is both logically and empirically apparent that they will decline in tandem with the decline of Christianity across the West.
And yet, Christians need have no fear for the future of their faith in the coming years. The Church has survived every persecution, every attempt to stamp it out for nearly two thousand years. It will survive the current secular assault just as it survived the historical Soviet assault. Kim Jong-Il is dead, while the Christians struggling to survive in the concentration camps he established throughout North Korea have not only outlived him, but celebrate the birth of their Lord and Savior today. We pray that their faith will be rewarded and their suffering will be eased; may they pray that our faith will survive our wealth and comfort.
The Truth is. It does not depend upon one man, or seven billion men, women, and children, acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord. All the powers and principalities of the world will exert their fury in vain, all the Gates of Hell will announce their lethal edicts to no avail, as they have already been defeated by the birth of the boy child who is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Merry Christmas, and may God bless us all, every one.
Why I am an atheist – Brian Raiter
December 2, 2011 at 8:53 am PZ Myers
As best as I can remember, I was eight or nine years old, and I was looking through one of my parents’ books that I liked. It was almost an accidental find, or at least I don’t remember anyone showing it to me. I had discovered it on my own. I occasionally went through the large bookshelf my parents had, looking for something that didn’t look terminally boring. On one such occasion I had discovered a Time-Life science book, titled simply “The Stars”. The first time I ever looked at it, it was of course largely over my head, but every now and then I returned to it, and found more and more of it comprehensible, and more and more of it interesting. This early-sixties era Time-Life book introduced me to such marvels as galaxies, globular clusters and supernovae. (In later years it taught me about the Main Sequence, the carbon fusion chain, and the predicted fate of our own sun.)Beautiful fascinating stuff. Virtually all of the great enlightenment astronomers who pioneered this wonderful science were passionate Christians.
One day, after admiring the artist’s conception of colliding galaxies near the back, I was paging through it looking for more to read about, and I hit upon a two-page spread that described the early formation of the solar system. It showed a cloud of interstellar dust slowly collapsing from its own gravity, spinning faster as it became denser, until there was enough matter crammed into the center to be a sun, at which point it started to heat up. When pretty much everything had collapsed into a single ball, it was spinning fast enough that it threw off a bunch of extra matter at the equator, where the speeds were fastest (and gravitational attraction was weakest). The ejected matter began repeating the original process in miniature, with several different areas forming their own local balls of matter that eventually drew in everything nearby. Many of them even repeated the part where at the point of maximum rotational speed they threw off a bit of matter from the equator before stabilizing, which in turn eventually collapsed into other balls. Voila: sun, planets, and moons, with the last straggling bits of matter winding up as asteroids or comets.The modern science of astronomy flourished only in Western civilization, which is grounded in Christian theology and philosophy.
Pretty typical as explanations go at that age, in that it seemed to raise a bunch of really obvious followup questions, like for example if it just formed out of a bunch of preexisting matter then where the heck did THAT come from? Still, it was very likely easier to explain where a formless cloud of dust came from than a fully formed solar system, so even at that age I could see where this explanation was helpful. It wasn’t trying to do everything, but was just one piece of the puzzle.Good sorting out of primary and secondary causes. Smart nine year-old.
I had read these pages before, of course, but on this one day something struck me about it. A light bulb went on within my head. I reread the text to make sure, even though I already knew full well there was no mistake. Here was a description of the formation of the solar system (complete, for the part that it described) that made no reference to God.There's no reason to refer to primary cause (God) in a discussion of secondary cause (natural science).
None. Not even to suggest that God had nudged the cloud into position, or had given some chunk of matter a bit of a backspin in order to get things started, or even that he had carefully watched over it without interfering.Many of the Enlightenment scientists did refer to God in their work-- e.g. Copernicus, Newton, Kepler.... Most modern ones don't. The reason is professional and cultural. There has not been any "scientific discovery" that has rendered God extraneous to nature.
Not even to apologize for not mentioning God. It was that irrelevant.One need not refer to primary cause in a discussion of secondary causes.
There were people, I realized, who didn’t believe in God.Nine-year old Brian never heard of Stalin or Mao or the Marquis de Sade? Outrageous. Children should be taught about atheists at a young age. (Well, we can leave de Sade until later...)
There were holes in my logic, I saw (if not immediately, then not long after).Yep.
Just because these people contradicted the first chapter of Genesis didn’t mean they didn’t believe in God.They didn't contradict the first chapter of Genesis. The first chapter of Genesis is not a science textbook. It's an allegorical description of Creation. It's like saying that Hamlet doesn't tell important things about life because Shakespeare didn't mention physiology.
They might still believe other parts of the Bible were right. Or they might believe that God created the interstellar dust, knowing that it would lead to the solar system and human beings. They might believe in a God I wasn’t familiar with.
But none of those objections really mattered, I realized. This explanation for the formation of the solar system was printed in a regular book, after all, and meant for kids to read. Clearly it wasn’t the work of a handful of lunatics trying to push their wild-eyed beliefs onto children before they were old enough to know better. No, this theory of the solar system’s formation had to be pretty widely accepted. Or even if it wasn’t, they at least were comfortable with the idea that it wasn’t God just stepping in and doing it by hand.The idea that God works in nature through rational laws that can be discovered by man is a distinctly Christian idea. Christianity is the foundation of modern science. Modern science only emerged in Christian culture.
And I knew that, even if all those people actually still believed that God existed, they couldn’t speak for everybody.Actually, forcing everybody to accept official doctrine is a characteristic of state atheism.
I mean, taking this idea to its logical conclusion was simply too obvious, too compelling. If you could come up with a plausible notion of how the solar system formed just by leaving a bunch of interstellar dust alone for millions of years, then surely the formation of everything else could be explained similarly.Yea. Shit happened, then some more shit happened. Atheism is a trove of wisdom.
So even if everyone who worked on this book believed in God, there were definitely other people out there who didn’t.Duh.
And if it truly turned out that there weren’t any other such people, well, there was one now.Brian's Desiderata. "Even if there aren't other people dumb enough to think that everything just happened, I will persevere..."
If it had turned out that every adult I ever met believed in the Bible, then I wasn’t about to rebel against that.Brian was going to wait until he grew up, became an adult atheist, and then sue Christians in federal court.
Those are long odds, stupid odds. But something within me, even at that age, didn’t find the Bible stories particularly compelling.Therefore God doesn't exist. But if Moses had written better stories...
They were just too strangely skewed while at the same time trying to be too pat. (Pat in a way that real explanations never seemed to succeed in being.)Brian's odd example of "not too pat":
"If you could come up with a plausible notion of how the solar system formed just by leaving a bunch of interstellar dust alone for millions of years, then surely the formation of everything else could be explained similarly..."Brian:
All I had needed was reassurance that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.You aren't.
The moment I deduced the existence of atheists, I knew that I was one too.You didn't deduce anything, Brian. You just made some prepubescent inferences from a science book that you liked. They don't make much sense. They're a pitiful excuse for philosophy.
“As I grew older,” Cohen wrote, “I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these: … Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity and beauty.”
|Crucified skeleton Santa Claus erected as a holiday display outside a courthouse in Virginia. |
|Christians protesting against an earlier form of legally-enforced bigotry in the 1960's|
By Todd Starnes/TWITTER
The Texas Attorney General has offered to defend a Texas county under attack by a group of Wisconsin atheists who are demanding that a Nativity located on the lawn of the Henderson County courthouse be torn down.Atheists in Wisconsin are outraged by the presence of a manger scene in a small town in East Texas. The display-- 1000 miles from the Freedom From
“Our message to the atheists is don’t mess with Texas and our Nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments,” Attorney General Greg Abbott told Fox News & Commentary. “I want the Freedom From Religion Foundation to know that our office has a history of defending religious displays in this state.”The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-Christian hate group operating under a patina of legal advocacy, routinely sues organizations and municipalities to remove reference to Christianity from public spaces. The organization's website proclaims "Reason's Greetings!" and "The Winter Solstice is the Reason for the Season", and brags of the use of legal force to censor Christians.
Abbott sent a letter to Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders offering whatever help he could provide in the event the county is sued. He also assured the judge that the county has no legal obligation to remove the Nativity scene from the courthouse grounds.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group based in Wisconsin, sent a letter to Henderson County explaining that a local resident had complained and they wanted the Nativity removed.If I write a letter Madison, Wisconsin officials demanding removal of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, do you think they'd do it?
“It sends a message of intimidation and exclusion to non-Christians and non-believers this time of year,” FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor told television station KFDW.
She said the location of the Nativity — on the lawn of the courthouse in Athens, made non-Christians feel unwelcome.
“Anybody walking by that is going to say, ‘Hmmm. This is a Christian government building. I’m not welcome here if I’m not Christian,’” she told the television station.
Yep. Non-Christians have avoided the center-of-town courthouse for decades while the manger scene is there.
Attorney General Abbott said the organization is trying to “bully local governmental bodies” and he said he wanted to make sure Henderson County knows “there is a person, a lawyer and an organization in this state that has their back, that has the law, that has the muscle and firepower to go toe-to-toe with these organizations that come from out of state trying to bully governmental bodies into tearing down things like Nativity scenes.”
Many residents and ministers in this east Texas community have vowed to fight back. Hundreds of people are expected to attend a rally on Saturday to show their support for the Nativity. Nathan Lorick, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Malakoff is one of the organizers of the rally. He called on residents to gather peacefully and in a spirit of love.
“It’s time that Americans stand up and take America back for the faith that we were founded upon,” Lorick told Fox News & Commentary last week. “We’re going to stand up and fight for this.”
Henderson County Commissioner Joe Hall called the attack “stupid” and said he’s going to do whatever it takes to stop the group from removing the Nativity.
“I’ll tell you this — I’m going to fight this until hell freezes over,” Hall told Fox News & Commentary. “I hope and pray that we leave it up.”
Hall said he’s lived in the community for 35 years and as long as he can remember the Nativity has been erected on the courthouse lawn.
“It’s been up there for decades without any complaints,” he said.
Pastor Lorick said it’s time to draw a line in the sand — and start standing up for the Christian faith.
“Christianity is under attack in America,” he told Fox News & Commentary. “Our country is quickly heading down a direction which the Christian faith is taking a hit — it’s quickly becoming suppressed.”
The attorney general agreed with that sentiment.
“There has been an ongoing battle between the forces of atheism and the forces of those who are antagonistic to all things religious against those who recognize the religious heritage of this country,” Abbott said. “And by defending Nativity scenes, by defending the Ten Commandments and by defending students who try to say a prayer at a graduation ceremony, we’re trying to preserve, protect and defend what we know is perfectly legal.”The FFRF website has this statement under "Our Legal Work":
The national Foundation has brought more than 40 First Amendment lawsuits since 1977, and keeps several Establishment law challenges in the courts at all times.Anti-Christian bigotry is a full-time job.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sounded the alarm bell on a multitude of other First Amendment violations. We act on countless violations of separation of state and church on behalf of our membership and the public, successfully correcting many violations through persuasion and education."Successfully correcting many violations..." is a nice touch. Threats, intimidation, harassment, shakedowns. Sometimes they don't even have to sue you.
Atheism is the belief that the universe has no purpose, and that moral law is mere subjective opinion. It can accommodate any viewpoint-- libertarian, totalitarian, or anything in between. Hitchens and Kim are-- I mean were-- members of the club in equal standing. Heck, Hitch was a Trotskyite, don't forget. He loved the thug. And Hitch was a libertarian, too. Kim was the hero of his people. And the butcher of his people. And a servant of his nation. And a delusional autocrat with a golf handicap of 38-under-par who didn't defecate. No contradiction. Atheism denies meaning in the world and denies objective standards of right or wrong. No consistency required. The door to the atheist clubhouse is wide open. Being godless means never having to apologize, in the end. Not even to yourself.But surely, this reporter asked, the denial of God entails certain conclusions. It has some characteristics of an ideology-- there is no objective moral law, there is no ultimate accountability, there is no ultimate purpose in life, human beings are not qualitatively different from lower animals. It would seem that atheism means a lot, ideologically.
We atheists believe that atheism isn't itself an ideology, but it is consistent with all sorts of ideologies. Consumerism, totalitarianism, nihilism, as well as democracy and political liberty.I can understand how atheism is consistent with consumerism, totalitarianism, and nihilism, I said. If one denies ultimate purpose in life, gluttony, power, and despair are logical pursuits.
Ummm... gee... aaaa... ummmm... but... yaaaa... well... you see... mmmmm.......
Our ideology is... any ideology. Whatever floats your boat. You choose. Atheism's a big tent. Christopher Hitchens, Marquis de Sade, Michael Ruse, Kim Jung Il, Woody Allen, Stalin, Jodie Foster, Pol Pot, Katharine Hepburn. A human animal doing whatever it wants in a universe without purpose leaves a lot of room for creativity. It's part of the vitality of atheism.So atheism is freedom?
A certain kind of freedom. Christians have defined freedom as the liberty to do what is right. We atheists define freedom as the liberty to do. We decide what is right. Since there are no transcendent moral laws, what is right can be whatever we want.
Sure. Freedom is slavery, so to speak. No rules, 'cept the ones I make, if I can.
Don't like my rules? Who ya' gonna complain to?
Why I am an atheist – Anna Yeung
December 5, 2011 at 6:36 am PZ Myers
I was 12. Attempting to rebel, I declared that I didn’t believe in God. My parents didn’t really care, given that we were only Buddhist at funerals. I went through a New Age-y phase where I believed in astrology, the paranormal and spirits. But as I got older, I got wiser. I was a voracious reader, and came upon the multitude of crimes against humanity committed in the name of religion – its effects on women, sexuality and science. However, my turning point came in a grade 12 biology class. A girl who I couldn’t stand, who became brainwashed when her parents accidentally sent her to Christian camp, got up to do a project on evolution. She prefaced her presentation by saying she didn’t believe in evolution because of her religion, and then proceeded to talk about Australopithecus afarensis. That kind of dichotomy astounded me. Partially because I hated her, and partially because it was the only conclusion based on reason and logic, I became non-religious. But it wasn’t until I stumbled onto Pharyngula, that I realized that there was a name for it. Atheist.
AustraliaI'm hesitant to snark here. Anna sounds young, and her post is kind of pitiful. Her "multitude of crimes against humanity committed in the name of religion" is true, of course. But there are two provisos:
Of the four horsemen of the New Atheism, Hitchens was the only one I found likable, and the only one possessed of a modicum of wisdom about the human condition, or at least as much wisdom about the human condition as one can have while remaining essentially a man of the Left.
Global warming alarmists try again
Global warming devotees gather for U.N. conference to demand money from developed nations, even as more and more countries defect from “the cause.”
By MARK LANDSBAUM / Register columnist
It's a good thing the world's economy is going into the toilet. Otherwise, global warming extremists would have done some real damage.
It's ironic that as evidence mounted exposing the shaky science and duplicitous scheming behind global warming alarmism, it wasn't these truths that undermined the movement to tax and regulate your carbon footprint.
Science, as alarmists inadvertently confirmed from the onset, essentially is irrelevant in deciding whether the Earth is heating dangerously, and whether that requires regulations and taxes at monumental cost – and huge profits to warmist profiteers. Think Al Gore.
It wasn't the trumped-up science that drove this movement. It's always been about control and money. Their control of your money.
It's interesting that rather than the emerging true science slowing the rush to global conformism, instead it has been a deteriorating economic climate that put the skids to the climate change movement. Thank goodness for bad economic times
Regardless of who is right about the next 100 years of temperatures, it has been declining sales, job losses, foreclosures and bankruptcies that ultimately slowed the global warming movement's momentum. Average Joes and pretentious potentates alike increasingly determined their own economic self-interests make it unwise to redistribute their wealth to stave off another almost undetectable 0.8 degree of temperature increase like the one we've experienced over the past 150 years. By the way, can you feel the difference of 0.8 degree Celsius?
Thousands of attendees, the "usual suspects," as contrarian environmental scientist S. Fred Singer puts it, have gathered again under the auspices of the United Nations for "two weeks of feasting, partying, living it up in luxury hotels" at someone else's expense in Durban, South Africa, (oh, the carbon footprint) to get worldwide consensus to impose Draconian regulations and punitive taxes. Fat chance.
Maybe the best news out of Durban last week was this pronouncement by Seyni Nafo of Mali, who whined: "Developed countries as a whole are not taking climate change seriously as a global issue. Look at the U.S."
It's times like this that make you proud to be an American...
As global warming faded amid worldwide financial cooling, it didn't help "the cause" that thousands of emails authored by the leading IPCC grant- and tax-funded researchers provided a damaging look behind the scenes. The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Marlo Lewis describes this alarmist cabal as, "schemers colluding to manipulate public opinion, downplay inconvenient data, bias the peer review process, marginalize skeptical critics and flout freedom of information laws." We think Marlo's a bit soft in his criticism.
The latest leaked emails show internal bickering apparently revealing some of their own reaching their tolerance limits, such as this email to Keith Briffa of the British Climate Research Unit: "Keith, See the last item. Why don't you just give these people the raw data? Are you hiding something – your apparent refusal to be forthcoming sure makes it look as though you are. Tom."
These candid confessions, obviously never meant to be made public, include admissions like one from Briffa's CRU colleague, climatologist Phil Jones: "Basic problem is that all the models are wrong – not got enough middle and low-level clouds."
It's the warmists' touted computer models that assured us for nearly two decades how intolerable global warming will make our future. They have no other way of knowing.
The warmists' snow job is based on gathering ground temperature records, but not to use all of them, and then to "adjust" many of those they do use. For example, numerous stations located in cold Siberia disappeared in the 1990s. And isn't it fascinating that original data is unavailable for critics to review?
As even some of their supporters are beginning to acknowledge, the vast majority of U.S. ground temperature stations are improperly located, often adjacent to heat-generating sources. Richard Muller, the UC Berkeley professor who got a lot of press when he released a study essentially confirming temperature readings used by alarmists, also conceded that 70 percent of U.S. stations are badly sited. Garbage in, garbage out.
Incidentally, the U.S. stations are far superior to those in the rest of the world.
Not so incidentally, Muller's report, lauded by the media, took no position on whether the less-than-trustworthy warming he found is caused by humans.
But the IPCC faithful have no qualms about blaming warming, however much may or may not be happening, on mankind. Just don't ask too many questions.
"Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of research grants we get – and has to be well hidden," CRU's Jones wrote in another email. "I've discussed this with the main funder in the past, and they are happy about not releasing the original station data."
Lest we jump to conclusions, consider another Jones email: "I've been told that the IPCC is above national FOI [Freedom of Information] Acts. One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process."
Heartland Institute's senior environmental fellow James M. Taylor points out, "More than revealing misconduct and improper motives, the newly released emails additionally reveal frank admissions of the scientific shortcomings of global warming assertions."
Some alarmists claim the emails are out of context. We join other critics who await alarmists providing any context that would render such comments innocuous.
Already, preliminary greenhouse gas-inspired regulations and taxes make energy more costly. More-costly energy makes food more costly, and transportation, housing, and, well just about everything.
If the economy improves, decision-makers and the public will should use real science to decide whether mankind is superheating the Earth. And if so, what, if anything can or should be done about it. We hope someone will suggest weighing costs against presumed benefits.
Perhaps then, less weight will be given to manipulators, secretive schemers and grant-hungry IPCC scientists, such as those who whipped up global warming fever for 20 years.
Perhaps more attention will be paid then to what an internal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report acknowledges: "given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based upon a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data."
That, mind you, is a U.S. government agency heretofore eager to clamp down on your carbon emissions. The author doesn't advance "the cause," which is how climate alarmist scientist Michael Mann referred in one email to the global warming campaign.
A Mann email complained about a defector from the movement: "I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don't know what she thinks she's doing, but its not helping the cause."
And you thought it was about science?
We aren't threatened by global warming. The threat is from global warmists.
What they have is a theory that things are getting warmer, which may or may not be true. Then they take a leap in logic that says things will continue to get much warmer, even though the purported cause of this warmth, greenhouse gas emissions, have escalated for 15 years while temperatures have remained flat or even declined.
Then they take another leap that presumes warming is harmful, even though it makes growing crops easier, and life less expensive in cold places, and more CO2 in the atmosphere is a boon to agriculture. Then they presume man can reverse all of this by using windmills and solar panels, which no one will buy unless someone else subsidizes them, and even then must be backed up with conventional, C02-emitting energy plants for when the sun doesn't shine and wind doesn't blow.
This is a chain of so many "ifs" it's amazing so many people have bought in to it. Until, of course, they are asked to sacrifice their own prosperity and comfort. Then, as they are discovering in Durban, that's enough of this nonsense.
"We join other critics who await alarmists providing any context that would render such comments innocuous. "There is no honest scientific evidence that global warming is caused by man or is a threat to mankind. Given the hidden and massaged data, and the remaining temperature recordings obtained with little concern for scientific integrity, the threat mankind faces is from corrupt scientists and from politicians and greedy entrepreneurs who are perpetrating the most egregious scientific hoax in recent history.
... Philosophy, frankly, is a lousy tool to analyze the world.That's a philosophical assertion. Self-refuting, I might add.
And you are pitting one philosophical position against another.That's a traditional way of sorting out the truth.
Nothing will be decided on philosophical grounds.Another philosophical assertion. Self-refuting. On a par with the liar's paradox: "This sentence is false".
At this time, however, the materialist position has a crucial advantage: it has neuroscience on its side.Neuroscience is natural philosophy-- the application of logic and inference to natural phenomena. Materialism is gibberish, and can't withstand even rudimentary logical scrutiny. The notion that neuroscience provides evidence for materialism is nonsense. The fundamental problems of materialism-- intentionality, qualia, persistence of personal identity, incorrigibility, restricted access, free will-- utterly defy materialist reduction. The assertion that neuroscience provides a materialist explanation for the mind is akin to the assertion that chemical analysis of paper and ink provides a materialist explanation for Hamlet.
Insights into the properties of mind will come from neuroscience, not philosophy.Neuroscience is philosophy, oleg. It investigates neurological phenomena in a limited way-- examining material and efficient causes of brain function-- and does a nice job if one keeps the limitations in mind. It provides no meaningful insight into fundamental problems of the mind, such as intentionality and qualia, which are addressed with metaphysical insight and are beyond its purview.
Get busy organizing a scientific enterprise if you want an upper hand. That would be a hoot: scientists studying soul...Clueless dogmatic materialists speculating on the soul is a hoot. Learn some rudimentary logic, oleg-- 'philosophy is bunk' is philosophy, and is self-refuting-- and we can discuss these issues intelligently.
Why I am an atheist – David Spero
December 4, 2011 at 9:48 am PZ Myers
Dave Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, posted recently over at Open Salon a copy of a letter he received from an atheist friend.The president of a tiny loud claque of litigious atheists has a last name that sounds like "noise". I love irony.
The friend wrote the letter to his own 11-year-old daughter, who was “very upset about her father’s non-belief” — particularly his refusal to pray for her (something apparently advocated by the friend’s wife, who is a Christian).
I won’t comment on a family situation I know next to nothing about, but it did remind me of the very issue that began the unraveling of my own faith: prayer. About 20 years ago, I was on a path to ministry. I was in the middle of co-founding a fellowship organization on my college campus and had just finished drafting the group’s constitution (as required by the school to be an official student organization and thus receive activity funds) when I had a moment of clarity while praying for guidance. Yes, I appreciate the irony.
The path I was on would have led me to fervent proselytizing. I was 19 years old, post-Catholic and in training to present the Word to non-believers. I studied the Bible with an ordained mentor and doggedly researched apologetics. I was going to provide irrefutable answers in defense of Christ in debate.
But there were no irrefutable answers.The classical demonstrations for God's existence-- Prime Mover, First Cause, Necessary Existence, Greatest Good, Final Cause-- are irrefutable. Critics have tried for several millennia to destroy these arguments, and no one has laid a glove on any of them.
I decided to keep on it — after all, I was just getting started and I had faith more would be revealed as I continued in my studies. But each revelation was more suspect than the last. Every question I had was answered with circular reasoning (e.g., why believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God? Because the Bible says so.).No one makes the argument that we should believe the Bible is God's word because the Bible says so. Logical nonsense is the provence of atheists ("everything came from nothing"..., "there is no objective moral law, and it's immoral to believe that there is..."), not Christians.
Finally, while praying to understand God’s will, a giant hole ripped in the fabric of my belief: Who am I praying to? Why? Why does God require me to pray when he is supposedly omniscient? What does that say about the nature of the god I’m praying to?It says, David, that God wants you to know Him, personally. Prayer is for you. He doesn't need prayer. You need prayer, and He loves you and wants to bring you to Him. It's analogous to when a father accepts a penny from his toddler as a "gift for Daddy". The father doesn't need the penny, but he delights in his child's love and gratitude. The meaning of prayer is the relationship it fosters.
The God I believed in was supposed to be perfect. Too perfect, in fact, for mortal minds to fathom. Ultimate love. True goodness. Omniscient. Omnipotent. Omnipresent. The whole nine yards and then some. Whenever something about God didn’t make sense to me, I countered myself by saying my definition of God must simply be too narrow. But because of that, God soon became just an infinitely broad but paper-thin abstraction.That's because you never met Him, in prayer or otherwise. Christ is many things. "Paper-thin abstraction" isn't one of them.
It was then a very small step to the realization that the concept of a personal God was absurd. Eventually, I came to understand the fallacy of the “God of the Gaps“. There was no chance I’d turn to another religion; it was clear they’d all fail the litmus test instantly.The "God of the Gaps" fallacy is an idiotic argument. The inference is that science is continuously explaining things previously attributed to God. This foolish argument confuses primary with secondary causes. Science sheds light on secondary causes. It is silent on primary causes, which are the domain of philosophy and theology.
I claimed to be an agnostic throughout my 20s. I left open the door to the idea of a higher power but, again, was pretty sure the matter was too complex to be comprehended. It wasn’t until my 30s that I faced the issue head on and realized I had been making the same weak excuses.David, you never understood Christianity and never met Christ in any way that you understood.
A sequence of events and introspection ultimately left nowhere for my intellect to hide. Once I allowed myself to practice skepticism honestly, the absurdities appeared everywhere I looked. There was no God.Your intellect still hides, and your simplistic caricature of Christianity doesn't count against the existence of God. None of your skepticism is honest, or really skepticism. You need to understand what you are rejecting, which you don't. Rejecting something without understanding it isn't skepticism, but its opposite. You are a credulous atheist, willing to believe in God's non-existence without really engaging the issue.
And it quickly became clear that many of civilization’s messes — either directly or indirectly — were catalyzed by some form of religion.Right, David. Embracing the metaphysics of Marx and Stalin and Mao is such a rational response to civilizational messiness. You just jumped from the greatest source of good for mankind (Christianity) to the most malignant evil (state atheism). As I said David, you're no skeptic.
My eyes were opened, and I was faced with one big question: Now what? It didn’t take long to understand that the only sane response to an insane world was to roll up my sleeves and try to make it a better place. All alternative responses were (and remain) unacceptable. Ultimately, I discovered my ideals matched those of organized Humanism.If God doesn't exist, whence your passion for human betterment? How very un-Darwinian. If there is no God, there is no source of objective morality, and no objective good or evil. Merely animals struggling to procreate. "Atheist benevolence' is an oxymoron.
So yes, you could say that prayer accidentally provided me with guidance. It was exactly the spark I needed to put me on the right path.
An atheist dies and wakes up to find he is in hell. He's really depressed as he stands in the processing line waiting to talk to an admittance counselor. He thinks to himself "I know I lead a wild life but I wasn't that bad. I never thought it would come to this." Looking up he sees that it is his turn to be processed into hell. With fear and a heavy heart, he walks up to the counselor.
Counselor: What's the problem, you look depressed?
Atheist: Well, what do you think? I'm in hell.
Counselor: Hell's not so bad, we actually have a lot of fun. Do you like to drink?
Atheist: Sure, I love to drink.
Counselor: Well then, you are going to love Mondays. On Mondays we drink up a storm. You can have whiskey, rum, tequila, beer, whatever you want and as much a you want. We party all night long. You'll love Mondays. Do you smoke?
Atheist: Yes, as a matter of fact I do.
Counselor: You are going to love Tuesdays. Tuesday is smoke day. You get to smoke the finest cigars and best cigarettes available anywhere. And you smoke to your heart's desire without worrying about cancer because you are already dead! Is that great or what? You are going to love Tuesdays. Do you do drugs?
Atheist: Well in my younger days I experimented a little.
Counselor: You are going to love Wednesdays. That's drug day. You can experiment with any drug you want and you don't have to worry about overdoses or getting hooked because you are already dead. You are going to love Wednesdays. Do you gamble?
Atheist: Yes, I love to gamble.
Counselor: You are going to love Thursdays because we gamble all day and night -- black jack, craps, poker, slots, horse races, everything! You are going to love Thursdays. Are you gay?
Counselor: Oh , you're gonna hate Fridays...
The Climate Cataclysm Is Not Nigh
“We have some room to breathe,” a scientist reports.
In 1783, William Pitt warned the British Parliament about the dangers of those who would reflexively employ “necessity” as an argument in favor of their preferences. “Necessity,” Pitt exclaimed, “is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves!” These are wise words indeed. But in a purely Machiavellian sense, the tactic is also a risky one. Those who shout “or else!” tend to be left in the role of the boy who cried wolf if their apocalypse fails to turn up on time.
The environmental Left has long neglected Pitt’s admonition and is starting to pay the price. Having careered wantonly from “global cooling” to “global warming” to “climate change,” the greenies eventually settled on the rather dramatic “global climate chaos,” a neatly eschatological term that has the delicious benefit of being so vague as to be unfalsifiable. For years now we have been told that this week, or month, or year — or conference, or junket — is our last chance to save the world.
Such an approach is rapidly losing its efficacy. What the global downturn has done for prioritization, science is doing for perspective. Enter Andreas Schmittner, a professor at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. Schmittner headed up a major study recently published in Science and funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, which baldly concludes that the sort of doomsday scenario readily thrown around by the scaremongers is simply not rooted in reality...
... In other words, we’re not all going to die.
By painting Armageddon as the price of inaction, the green lobby has sought to achieve two goals. First, focusing in on an extreme scenario allowed advocates more effectively to play the we-should-do-something-just-in-case card. Second, with all nuance removed from the discussion, even the slightest evidence in favor of an anthropogenic contribution to climate fluctuations could be tied to eschatological imagery, and “climate moderates” could be portrayed as being just as complicit in bringing about the end of the world as the evil deniers. “Necessity” would thus become the mother of intervention.
“The whole aim of practical politics,” wrote H. L. Mencken, “is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” It is still a matter of debate whether there are any hobgoblins at all (the very existence of a “consensus” is rendered comical, given the existence of new papers such as Schmittner’s), but if they do exist, the tallest among them are disappearing at a rate of knots.
As they go, we must insist that so too do the invitations to be led to safety, for without necessity we have no reason to be slaves.