Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sean Carroll on the embarrassment of quantum mechanics

Physicist and author Sean Carroll discusses the scientific embarrassment that there is no consensus on what quantum mechanics means:

The special role for observation in quantum mechanics makes many scientists uneasy. The notion that a mind or Mind may be necessary for the emergence of reality at a fundamental level makes materialists squirm.

Carroll's favored interpretation of quantum mechanics eliminates the need for a Mind. His explanation is Everett's Many Worlds Hypothesis: at each quantum interaction, the universe splits into as many universes as there are different quantum states, and each quantum potentiality actually happens in its own new universe, each of which is eternally separated from the mother universe. In other words, countless new universes are created continuously at each moment, for each quantum particle that interacts with another quantum particle.

Please understand: he means countless actual universes, continuously being created from every quantum state in the universe.

For Carroll, who is an atheist, the invocation of an infinite number of universes arising continuously makes a lot of sense. It obviates the need to invoke a Mind.

It simplifies things, in an atheist sort of way.

It is a measure of the desperation of atheists that Carroll sincerely believes that the creation of octillions of new independent universes every nanosecond serves as a much simpler explanation for reality than the explanation that the universe is created by a Mind.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve."

Marine combat veteran Josh Boston has penned a viral letter to Dem. Senator Diane Feinstein, who is introducing a bill to outlaw a whole new bunch of guns.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, 
I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one. 
I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America. 
I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an American. You will not tell me that I must register my semi-automatic AR-15 because of the actions of some evil man. 
I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public. 
We, the people, deserve better than you. 
Respectfully Submitted,
Joshua Boston
Cpl, United States Marine Corps

Amen. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental American right. It reflects the genuine relationship between Americans and our government.

We the People are sovereign,  and we will not be disarmed by our government.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is faith in God reasonable?

A great debate between William Lane Craig and Alex Rosenberg. Rosenberg is an atheist and chair of the philosophy department at Duke.

Of course, I think that it was Bambi vrs Godzilla. Rosenberg merely regurgitated banal atheist boilerplate. Craig was masterful.

I'm an enormous fan of Craig. I must say though that my take on theology and philosophy is more Aristotelian/Thomist, as you already know.

One of the many strengths of Christian apologetics is that it succeeds from so many different perspectives, as you might expect with the truth. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Richard Dawkins on junk DNA in 2009. Richard Dawkins on junk DNA in 2012.

My friend Casey Luskin has a great post on Evolution News and Views. He points out that Richard Dawkins sang to quite a different tune about "junk DNA" back in 2009 than he does today.

Dawkins in 2009:

"It stretches even their creative ingenuity to make a convincing reason why an intelligent designer should have created a pseudogene -- a gene that does absolutely nothing and gives every appearance of being a superannuated version of a gene that used to do something -- unless he was deliberately setting out to fool us... 
Leaving pseudogenes aside, it is a remarkable fact that the greater part (95 percent in the case of humans) of the genome might as well not be there, for all the difference it makes."

The 2009 iteration of Richard Dawkins asserts confidently that most of the genome is junk, just as Darwinism predicts! What an embarrassment to Darwin doubters!

Dawkins in 2012:

"I have noticed that there are some creationists who are jumping on [the ENCODE results] because they think that's awkward for Darwinism. Quite the contrary it's exactly what a Darwinist would hope for, to find usefulness in the living world....

Whereas we thought that only a minority of the genome was doing something, namely that minority which actually codes for protein, and now we find that actually the majority of it is doing something. What it's doing is calling into action the protein-coding genes. So you can think of the protein-coding genes as being sort of the toolbox of subroutines which is pretty much common to all mammals -- mice and men have the same number, roughly speaking, of protein-coding genes and that's always been a bit of a blow to self-esteem of humanity. But the point is that that was just the subroutines that are called into being; the program that's calling them into action is the rest [of the genome] which had previously been written off as junk."

The 2012 iteration of Richard Dawkins asserts confidently that most of the genome is not junk, just as Darwinism predicts! What an embarrassment to Darwin doubters!

As you may have noticed (e.g. 'hearts don't have a purpose'), Darwinists will say anything to protect atheism's creation myth. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Why I came to love Benedict XVI"

Michael Sean Winters has a beautiful reflection on the life and pontificate of Benedict XVI. Winters, who comes from the left of the faithful Catholic spectrum, has grown to admire and love this brilliant and humble man who has devoted his life to God and His Church.

Each day of Benedict's papacy, I have felt a great deal of gratitude for the fact that, whether I agreed with him on this policy or that, the church was blessed to have at the pinnacle of its hierarchy the man who is perhaps the most literate, cultured, learned man in public life today. If Lionel Trilling was correct that there is moral obligation to be intelligent, and I think he was, Benedict hit that moral requirement out of the ballpark. His three-volume trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth may be the most accessible yet profound theological reflection of recent years by anyone anywhere. I have a soft spot for popes like John XXIII who were schooled in church history as well as theology, but it has been an undoubted blessing for the church to have Benedict in the Chair of Peter. True, the Chair of Peter is not a faculty chair, and the Roman church must find better ways of dealing with its own theologians. But, there are not many theologians who can hold a candle to Joseph Ratzinger. His trilogy of books on Jesus not only invite one to engage the issues intellectually, but they inspire a more profound love for the Savior. 
I confess that on the day of his election in 2005, I was worried. On Feb. 28, he will abdicate the office in which he has surprised many of us. The next day, when we go to Mass and the priest does not mention him in the canon, I will miss the reference to "Benedict, our pope." I will miss it long after there is a successor. My dread in 2005 was misplaced. I have come not only to love this pope, but to let his teachings challenge and change me. I am a better Catholic today, and a happier person, because of him. In some of his writings, I felt he was speaking directly to me. Benedict walks into whatever time is left to him and into the historical annals as a good man and a fine pope who directed the church in important ways to remember that what really, really matters in the life of faith is not any ambitious program of human accomplishment, but the ongoing need of Catholics to surrender themselves to the will and the mercy of God. The Christocentric focus of the council has been the focus of Raztinger's entire theological life and the defining characteristic of his papacy. He has sought to impart that vision to the rest of us. Shame on us is we did not notice. Blessings on him for making the attempt.

Please read the whole thing. It is one of the finest essays on Benedict I have read.

May God bless Pope Benedict XVI in his retirement, as He has blessed us with his papacy.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Washington State to gun owners: 'No Fourth Amendment for you'

The original version of Washington State's recent new gun control bill-- Senate Bill 5737-- violated the Constitution... twice. The first violation, obviously, was the gun control. The second was this:

... with respect to the thousands of weapons like that already owned by Washington residents, the bill says this: 
“In order to continue to possess an assault weapon that was legally possessed on the effective date of this section, the person possessing shall ... safely and securely store the assault weapon. The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection.” 
In other words, come into homes without a warrant to poke around. Failure to comply could get you up to a year in jail. 

The Democrat sponsors of the bill jerked the 'police can enter your home without warrant to inspect your guns or you go to jail' provision of the bill, once the issue hit the press.

Of course they insist this was all just a silly mistake. But it wasn't a mistake. They just got caught, and the blowback was more than they expected.

The take home lesson is this: gun controllers don't really give a shit about your Constitutional rights. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

The wrong kind of prayer in school

A group of Arizona legislators have proposed a law that requires Arizona high school students to recite this oath in order to graduate:

I, _______, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge these duties; So help me God.

Bad. Very bad. What were these guys thinking?

One of the reasons I love America and our Constitution is that we don't have to swear loyalty to anything. I will defend the Constitution with my life, and that includes defending the right of my neighbor to not defend it, if he chooses.  I love the Constitution because I'm not required to love it. It's a very beautiful and fragile thing.

An oath to defend the Constitution that is mandatory for graduation is an oxymoron if it includes "I take this obligation freely." Of course you don't take it freely. You take it in order to graduate.

I don't like loyalty oaths for ordinary citizens where there is any legal compulsion involved. I don't like legal compulsion in doctrinal matters period, either positive ('you must say...') or negative ('you must not say...'). Exceptions can and should be made for obscenity, for clearly work-related responsibilities (oaths of office or for professional licensure), etc. I want my lawyers and judges to swear fidelity to the Constitution, because that's what I'm employing them for. If they want to work for me (the public), we insist on some preliminaries.

But I don't want ordinary citizens to be required to swear loyalty to anything.

Freedom of speech means freedom, and being forced by the government to pledge to any doctrine as a condition for government sanction is a gross violation of the Constitution and of basic God-given human rights.

It is wrong to compel speech or silence. Regarding school prayer, community traditions should be respected-- voluntary organized prayer in school, or lack of such, according to the majority vote of each community.

It is not the prayer, or lack of prayer, that is wrong or unconstitutional as such. It is the compulsion that violates rights.

Schools should be free to include or not include voluntary prayer in the school day, and students should be free to pray or not to pray. No prayer in school should be illegal or compulsory.

Government should not be in the business of compelling or forbidding speech. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"Asteroids are nature's way of asking: 'How's that space program coming along?'"

Glenn Harlan Reynolds:

Asteroids a reminder of space program weakness 
... nobody knows whether a massive asteroid is heading toward Earth next week or next century, the events of Asteroid Friday should serve as a wake-up call to us all. We're at the bottom of a well, and somebody is throwing rocks. Shouldn't we do something about it?

How about this: let's take all the money we waste (tens of billions of $ so far) on the global warming hoax and spend it on our space program, with an emphasis on protecting us from catastrophic meteor strikes.

Let's use our resources to protect us from actual risks, instead of lining the pockets of Al Gore. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Why I Raise My Children Without God"

An atheist mom explains herself, with my commentary.

Why I Raise My Children Without God
By TXBlue08 | Posted January 14, 2013 | Texas

(CNN PRODUCER NOTE TXBlue08, a mother of two teenagers in Texas, blogs aboutraising her children without religion. She said she shared this essay on CNN iReport because 'I just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me...)
"Not a voice out there for moms like me?"



Her children are drowning in a culture without God. Where is God in the news media? Where is God in movies and entertainment? Where is God in school? Where is God in higher education? Where is God in the business world and in government? Heck, many churches are essentially God-free zones.

Nearly all of the voices "out there" are atheist. She's blazing no new trails by raising her boys without God. She's just drifting with the culture.

When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.
Sounds like her kid asked better questions than she does.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.
So she tells him that he's a meat machine destined for extinction evolved by a process red in tooth and claw in a universe without purpose.

Now he feels more safe and loved.

One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.
She has a child's understanding of God, which is inconsistent and illogical.

And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community.
She'd fit in perfectly in the elite corridors of power and influence in our nation.

If she wants to know what "fringe" is like, she should try being an evangelical in Hollywood, or at MSNBC or CNN, or on the Harvard Law faculty, or on Wall Street.
As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me.
She merely needed to watch network TV or go to a movie theatre to see an endless queue of parents like her.
We are creating the next generation of kids,
She creates nothing. Her children come through her, not from her.
... and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.
They're already here, ma'am. They're not young, and they make your sons' movies and games and television shows and curricula. The cultural wasteland around us is their gift.

Here are a few of the reasons why I am raising my children without God.

God is a bad parent and role model. 
If God is our father, then he is not a good parent. Good parents don’t allow their children to inflict harm on others. Good people don’t stand by and watch horrible acts committed against innocent men, women and children. They don’t condone violence and abuse. “He has given us free will,” you say? Our children have free will, but we still step in and guide them.
God isn't a parent. He is our Creator, and his thoughts and purposes are not ours. We are eternal creatures, and we need to understand that God's plan for us is four our eternity. We do suffer in this world, often seemingly unjustly, but this world is not our home.

And if God does not exist, there is no objective moral law to which to appeal when we condemn injustice. Without God, there is no actual justice. Things just happen-- some we like, some we don't like. So to what moral standard does Atheist Mom appeal when she decries violence and abuse?

She presupposes objective moral law in her argument against the existence of the Creator of objective moral law.

God is not logical. 

How many times have you heard, “Why did God allow this to happen?” And this: “It’s not for us to understand.” Translate: We don’t understand, so we will not think about it or deal with the issue. Take for example the senseless tragedy in Newtown. Rather than address the problem of guns in America, we defer responsibility to God. He had a reason. He wanted more angels. Only he knows why. We write poems saying that we told God to leave our schools. Now he’s making us pay the price. If there is a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who loves his children, does it make sense that he would allow murders, child abuse, wars, brutal beatings, torture and millions of heinous acts to be committed throughout the history of mankind? Doesn’t this go against everything Christ taught us in the New Testament?

The question we should be asking is this: “Why did we allow this to happen?” How can we fix this? No imaginary person is going to give us the answers or tell us why. Only we have the ability to be logical and to problem solve, and we should not abdicate these responsibilities to “God” just because a topic is tough or uncomfortable to address.

If God does not exist, what standing does she have to declare the Newtown shootings immoral? Her opinion? The shooter's opinion was otherwise. If atheism is true, morality is all opinions, nothing more.

Her questions about God's forbearance of evil are valid, and haunt us all. But only believers in God have a logical basis to ask those questions. Atheists deny objective good and evil, and have no standing to ask any questions about evil.

Atheist Mom is not logical.

God is not fair. 
If God is fair, then why does he answer the silly prayers of some while allowing other, serious requests, to go unanswered? I have known people who pray that they can find money to buy new furniture. (Answered.) I have known people who pray to God to help them win a soccer match. (Answered.) Why are the prayers of parents with dying children not answered?

If God is fair, then why are some babies born with heart defects, autism, missing limbs or conjoined to another baby? Clearly, all men are not created equally. Why is a good man beaten senseless on the street while an evil man finds great wealth taking advantage of others? This is not fair. A game maker who allows luck to rule mankind’s existence has not created a fair game.
If God does not exist, nothing is "fair" or "unfair".  Inference to "fair" presupposes objective morality, which presupposes God.

God does not protect the innocent. 
He does not keep our children safe. As a society, we stand up and speak for those who cannot. We protect our little ones as much as possible. When a child is kidnapped, we work together to find the child. We do not tolerate abuse and neglect. Why can’t God, with all his powers of omnipotence, protect the innocent? 
Why does Ms. Meat Machine give a hoot about innocents? Whence her  benevolence for the carriers of competitors' genes? Atheists consistently fail to understand that the very questions they ask presume objective standards of good and evil which their conclusions deny.

Advocating atheism based on the existence of evil is self-refuting.  

God is not present. 

He is not here. Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense. It means that we teach children to love an image, an image that lives only in their imaginations. What we teach them, in effect, is to love an idea that we have created, one that is based in our fears and our hopes.
He is always present. He is closer to each of us than we are to ourselves. But His voice is still and small. Godless Mom is immersed in the din of our godless culture and in her ignorance, and cannot hear Him.

God Does Not Teach Children to Be Good 

A child should make moral choices for the right reasons. Telling him that he must behave because God is watching means that his morality will be externally focused rather than internally structured. It’s like telling a child to behave or Santa won’t bring presents. When we take God out of the picture, we place responsibility of doing the right thing onto the shoulders of our children. No, they won’t go to heaven or rule their own planets when they die, but they can sleep better at night. They will make their family proud. They will feel better about who they are. They will be decent people.
Without God there is no standard to which one can practice morality, other than one's own opinions, which are by definition no standard. "Moral" choices presume objective morals to choose. Objective morals presume God.

God Teaches Narcissism 

“God has a plan for you.” Telling kids there is a big guy in the sky who has a special path for them makes children narcissistic; it makes them think the world is at their disposal and that, no matter what happens, it doesn’t really matter because God is in control. That gives kids a sense of false security and creates selfishness. “No matter what I do, God loves me and forgives me. He knows my purpose. I am special.” The irony is that, while we tell this story to our kids, other children are abused and murdered, starved and neglected. All part of God’s plan, right?
Yea. Devout Christians are so selfish, and atheist materialism is such an effective antidote to selfishness.

When we raise kids without God, we tell them the truth—we are no more special than the next creature.
If we are no more special than the next creature, why lament abuses and atrocities? Kill a kid, step on a cockroach. We're no more special than the next creature.
We are just a very, very small part of a big, big machine–whether that machine is nature or society–the influence we have is minuscule. The realization of our insignificance gives us a true sense of humbleness.
And humility has certainly been a big part of atheism's gift to the world.

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.
Atheist Mom has been insisting that belief in God is harmful, except for the "structure, community, and hope" part. Atheists have trouble even with simple coherent arguments.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs.
Stalin agreed.
It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers.
Atheists always scratch the totalitarian itch.
I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.
Schools and governments don't make decisions. People make decisions. And decisions based on the premise of God's non-existence have no logical or historical claim to superiority over decisions premised on God's existence.

I'll defend "endowed by our Creator" against "opiate of the masses" any day.


One last question for Ms. Freethinker: where's dad?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Belgium offers a two-for-one sale on lethal injection...

From Wesley Smith:

Twins Euthanized in Belgium
In just ten years, Belgium has trumped the culture of death in the Netherlands that took some thirty years to poisonously flower. For example, there has been a joint euthanasia of an elderly couple, which was celebrated by a Belgian bioethicist in a news report. Belgian doctors also brag about coupling voluntary euthanasia with consensual organ harvesting–particularly targeted at the disable who want to die because they have “good organs.” And now, twins have been killed in a joint euthanasia. From the Telegraph story:

Identical twins were killed by Belgian doctors last month in a unique mercy killing under Belgium’s euthanasia laws. The two men, 45, from the Antwerp region were both born deaf and sought euthanasia after finding that they would also soon go blind. The pair told doctors that they were unable to bear the thought of not being able to see each other again. The twin brothers had spent their entire lives together, sharing a flat and both working as cobblers. Doctors at Brussels University Hospital in Jette “euthanized” the two men by lethal injection on 14 December last year.
In a morally sane society, the death doctors would lose their licenses and be tried for homicide. But Belgium no longer fits that description.
But, I must say, after fighting against this issue for twenty years, I am not surprised. This is the simple logic of euthanasia consciousness. Once killing is seen as an answer to human suffering, the meaning of the term becomes very elastic and the killable caste, like the universe, never stops expanding.

"Doctors... euthanized the two men by lethal injection...".



Doctors killers euthanized murdered the men by lethal injection.

I used to wonder: what ever happened to the Nazis? After all, there were millions of them in WWII, and Patton didn't get 'em all. We tried most of the big ones, but what happened to the millions of admirers, the quislings? How could such a malevolently vibrant ideology simply vanish?

They didn't vanish. Now, a couple of generations later, the spiritual heirs of the Nazi doctors are rising in Europe. They are even killing twins, one of Mengele's favorites. This is happening faster than I had imagined, and I'm a real Cassandra about this stuff. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

CNN anchor: 'Are asteroids caused by global warming?'

CNN anchor Deb Feyerick:

“Every time we see a storm like this lately, the first question to pop into a lot of people’s minds is whether or not global warming is to blame? I’ll talk to Bill Nye, ‘the science guy,’ about devastating storms and climate change... Talk about something else that’s falling from the sky and that is an asteroid. What’s coming our way? Is this an effect of, perhaps, of global warming or is this just some meteoric occasion?”

The video:

You can't make this up.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pope Benedict's successor won't change Catholic doctrine

From Ashley McGuire:

What the church’s critics, especially those now giddily wondering if Pope Benedict’s successor will shake things up, just don’t seem to understand, is that church teachings on these issues are unchangeable. 
Even if we entertain the human possibility of a rogue pope, the reality is such a thing is currently sociologically impossible. About half of the current College of Cardinals (the men who will select the next pope) were appointed by Blessed Pope John Paul II. The other half were put there by Pope Benedict XVI. As you can imagine, they are all orthodox, or faithful to church teaching. On everything. 
While most editorial pages have spent the last eight years harping on Catholic social teaching and running hit pieces on bishops and the pope, Benedict has been filling the ranks with shepherds who will continue the church’s 2,000-plus year tradition of holding firm on the most important social issues. 
And not only will the church remain orthodox with Pope Benedict’s successor, it should. 
Our call to live counter-culturally is as old as the church itself. We believe in a God who lived among us, died for us, and showed us the way to live lives of courage and conviction–whatever our culture. Catholics are called, yes, to engage with the society around them, but not to adapt ourselves to the popular sentiments of our time. Instead, Catholics are called to live in radical service to our God. This includes loving our neighbor as ourselves. This also includes letting go of pleasure as the path to happiness (spoiler: it’s not). There’s nothing modern –or moderate –about that.

Beautifully said. The Church teaches eternal truth, not the tyrannical fads of modernity. The Church is the foundation of Western culture-- the best of it-- and at the same time it is profoundly counter-cultural, a redoubt of resistance.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ben Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast

Dr. Ben Carson gave a great speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Ben is director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins-- he is highly respected in our profession, and is a genunely humble and good man. He is a devout Christian, and an active public intellectual.

He has much to say on many topics, including political correctness, lawyers (he doesn't like them), Obamacare and death panels (Obama was sitting next to him), the flat tax, and several very funny jokes (I like the one about the talking birds).

Carson has been telling truth to power for a long time. He has even stood up against Darwinian claptrap.

The Wall Street Journal followed his Prayer Breakfast speech with an editorial titled Ben Carson for President.

That would be a prayer answered.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

For that special moment... it starts with a smile... a touch...

Jay Leno gives us a new commercial, based on Steve Kroft's fawning 60 Minutes interview of Obama and Hillary.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1.6 billion bullets?

DHS Purchases 21.6 Million More Rounds of Ammunition

Federal agency has now acquired enough bullets to wage 30 year war

Paul Joseph Watson
February 7, 2013

The Department of Homeland Security is set to purchase a further 21.6 million rounds of ammunition to add to the 1.6 billion bullets it has already obtained over the course of the last 10 months alone, figures which have stoked concerns that the federal agency is preparing for civil unrest.

A solicitation posted yesterday on the Fed Bid website details how the bullets are required for the DHS Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico.

The solicitation asks for 10 million pistol cartridge .40 caliber 165 Grain, jacketed Hollow point bullets (100 quantities of 100,000 rounds) and 10 million 9mm 115 grain jacketed hollow point bullets (100 quantities of 100,000 rounds).

The document also lists a requirement for 1.6 million pistol cartridge 9mm ball bullets (40 quantities of 40,000 rounds).

An approximation of how many rounds of ammunition the DHS has now secured over the last 10 months stands at around 1.625 billion. In March 2012, ATK announced that they had agreed to provide the DHS with a maximum of 450 million bullets over four years, a story that prompted questions about why the feds were buying ammunition in such large quantities. In September last year, the federal agency purchased a further 200 million bullets.

To put that in perspective, during the height of active battle operations in Iraq, US soldiers used 5.5 million rounds of ammunition a month. Extrapolating the figures, the DHS has purchased enough bullets over the last 10 months to wage a full scale war for almost 30 years.
You don't have to be a paranoid black-helicopter survivalist type to wonder....

Don Sensing has some insights and suggests some explanations for the DHS' sudden purchase of enough bullets to shoot every American-- man, woman and child-- five times:

On Jan. 2, DHS awarded a contract to

...Evian Group Inc., an organization that was formed just five days before the announcement of the solicitation [in December].  
As James Smith documents, Evian Group seems to be little more than a front organization and doesn’t appear to have any real business assets, a genuine physical address, a website, or even a phone number.
So not only is the DHS stockpiling decades of war's worth of ammunition - which means literally centuries of DHS usage - it's doing so through front companies that come into being to collect the contract checks and presumably disappear once the checks have been written. The real questions here are who owns or controls Evian Group and what is his/their connection to the Democrat party? 
Again the question, Why is DHS buying all this ammo? Here are the answers I propose in order of my preference of accuracy: 
1. To transfer enormous sums of money to politically-connected or -useful individuals. In other words, the massive purchases are just old fashioned, money laundering graft and corruption. It sure would be useful to know how much Evian was paid for the ammo, because my guess is that Evian's controllers are buying the ammo from manufacturers at discount, then marking it up at least 40 percent to sell it to DHS. 
What ultimately happens to that 40 percent markup? It goes two places: the bank accounts of Evian's controllers get half and the other half is funneled through shell-corps, bogus non-profits and established foundations, finally to the Democrat National Committee and Democrat campaigns and causes. 
2. To reduce the supply of ammunition available to ordinary Americans. 
3. To shoot right-wing domestic "terrorists," although honestly the purchases so far exceed what might be remotely be needed for that even if these presumed terrorists ever, you know, actually started terrorizing, that I can't imagine this is much related to the reason for the purchases. 
No, this is looting the public treasury, pure and simple, to keep the Democrat party in power.
Sounds like a hybrid of an aggregation of massive lethal force by a domestic surveillance federal agency and run-of-the-mill Chicago-Democrat-gangster money-laundering.

Do you think that there could still be an innocent explanation for the DHS ammo spree? A commentor on Rantburg has the last word:

What's "Evian" spelled backwards?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"I thank God... that abortion was there to save me...'

Toure on the abortion of his child:

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He wouldn't be the success he is, if it weren't for the abortion of his child 15 years ago.


That his butchered son or daughter would now be in 9th grade, getting ready to learn to drive, going on dates, the pride of his/her parents, with his/her own dreams and joys, seems not to bother Toure.

Toure's personal success is what matters to him. Whatever the cost to his own child.

The abortion movement is changing tack. It is abandoning its traditional junk science that a human fetus isn't human. It's more explicit now, no longer afraid or ashamed to admit:

'It's about me. If I have to kill my own kid to get what I want, so what?'

A more honest glimpse, at least, into a moral cesspool.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict to resign


Pope Benedict has announced that he will resign the papacy due to deteriorating health, effective February 28, 2013. There will be a conclave to elect his successor shortly thereafter.

The last time a pope resigned was 1415.

Text of the Pope's statement:

Dear Brothers, 
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is. 
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer. 
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013 

Pope Benedict XIV is a manifestly holy and good man, who has served God and His Church with distinction all of his life.  We have been blessed by his papacy.

Please pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance in the election of a new Shepherd for our Church. 

A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Litigious...

Former gay scoutmaster James Dale on growing up gay in scouting:
I was trying to fit in, looking for a niche or a crowd I could be part of. 
So I tried soccer, band, karate — all the activities that little boys growing up in my middle-class New Jersey suburb were supposed to enjoy. But I spent most of my time on the sidelines, never really feeling like I belonged.Until I was 8 years old, and I discovered Cub Scout Pack 242.

For the first time in my life, I felt I was a valued part of a group. I could be an insecure and fearful kid, but Scouting offered positive reinforcement, a direction, shared goals. My fellow Cub Scouts didn’t judge me because I couldn’t hit a home run. We were taught to appreciate each other’s strengths because each of us was a unique and necessary part of a larger whole. 
Scouting even brought me closer to my father. His demanding commute to Manhattan and weekends in the Army Reserve often kept us apart, but now, more than 30 years later, I still remember whittling down a seven-inch block of wood into a sporty sedan for the Pine­wood Derby with him. In our garage, surrounded by the pungent scent of sawdust and spray paint, we found common ground in Scouting. 
I went from Tiger to Wolf to Bear to Webelos, and at age 10 I crossed the bridge into Boy Scouts. Year by year, with every skill award and merit badge, I held my head a bit higher and became more accepting of myself, developing a sense of value and self-worth. During this time I started to think I might be gay, but it was a nonissue in the Scouting environment. I sensed no polarization, no culture war. In the Scouts I found countless peers and volunteers who helped me establish my convictions and find my voice. 
I would need those convictions and that voice on Aug. 10, 1990, just before my junior year at Rutgers, when I received a letter from my local council leader, James Kay. “The grounds for this membership revocation are the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America,” the letter read, “which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals.” 
It was a punch in the gut. Scouting was about overarching principles — kindness, respect, community — that could be upheld regardless of sexual orientation. How could this be?

Yea. How could the BSA possibly know that Dale was gay?...

At this point in my life I was openly gay and unashamed of it. I was co-president of Rutgers’s Lesbian/Gay Alliance and an assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 73 of Matawan, N.J. — and saw no contradiction between the two parts of my life. A local paper had published an article about me, and that is how my sexuality had become a matter of public record.
Oh. He was president of his college LGBT alliance and announced the fact that he was flouting BSA policy in the press.

Then he sued the BSA for the same policy he implicitly endorsed by signing up to be a scoutmaster, hoping obviously for a big payday at the expense of the kids:

I challenged the BSA policy in the New Jersey Supreme Court and won a unanimous victory. “The human price of this bigotry has been enormous,” wrote Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz. “At a most fundamental level, adherence to the principle of equality demands that our legal system protect the victims of invidious discrimination.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Alan B. Handler emphasized that being gay does not take away from “one’s ability to participate in and contribute responsibly and positively to society.”
Dale could practically taste the money...
When the BSA appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, I continued the fight — and ultimately lost in a 5-4 decision on June 28, 2000.

So much for early retirement. Those scouts are so selfish...
The majority ruled that it was within the BSA’s First Amendment rights to exclude gay members if it thought our presence would undermine its mission. In other words, the nation’s highest court ruled that the Scouts could legally enshrine bigotry into the Scout Oath and Law.
The court ruled that private organizations can legally restrict membership to people who share their values. The First Amendment protects freedom of association. 

The ruling contradicted all I’d learned in my years of Scouting. As a Scout, I couldn’t accept it. So I’m still fighting...

Maybe the big payday will still come...

... the Boy Scouts of America is choosing to become increasingly irrelevant. With each passing day, the Scouts will continue to lose members, sponsors and funding because people are disassociating themselves from an organization that tells a boy he is immoral, unworthy or unacceptable simply because his is gay...
It all comes at an unacceptable human cost; this kind of bias is the reason for high rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide among gay youth. It’s a policy that will harm some of the young people that the Boy Scouts was created to help.

Yea. The high disease and death rates among homosexuals have nothing to do with massive promiscuity in service to a sexual perversion in the midst a deadly epidemic and the use of dangerous drugs to heighten sexual experiences.

Gays are such helpless victims. It's all the fault of people who don't engage in gay sex.



Here's some suggestions for Mr. Dale:

1) Start your own organization-- "the Gay Boy Scouts-- GBS".  Parents can send their boys on GBS camping trips with their gay scoutmasters-- "Camping equality"... Ranks are Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Rear Admiral... Merit badges in T-Ball, Tent-Sharing, and Tea-Bagging... "A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Discreet, Submissive..." It'll be a big hit with families. 

2) In the interest of reciprocity, Mr. Dale, as former co-president of the Rutgers Gay and Lesbian Alliance, should take the Gay Alliance to court for not having enough conservative Christians who disapprove of homosexual conduct as members of the Alliance. Heck, if opponents of the values of the Boy Scouts should be leaders of the Scouts, why shouldn't opponents of the homosexual lifestyle should be leaders of gay organizations? Why shouldn't a conservative Christian anti-sodomy activist be "co-president" of the gay alliance? The reciprocity seems obvious.

If Boy Scouts should be forced by law to admit even to leadership positions people who do not share their values, why should gay organizations not be similarly forced?

Gay organizations aren't a bunch of bigots, are they?

Actually, Mr. Dale will never have to worry about being forced to accept people who disagree with him in membership or leadership positions in his gay organization. 

Fortunately, the Supreme Court decision that Dale lost protects his right to form private organizations that reflect his personal views-- the right to freedom of association-- without coercion by some litigious intolerant hypocritical scumbag looking for a big payday and his five minutes of fame. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Maybe the horse got his wings from the mud or the volcanoes..

One of the more amusing conceits of atheists is that atheists are more rational than believers. Of course atheists define "rational" as "things atheists believe".  For example, atheists assert that the belief that the heart has no purpose is "rational".


Case in point-- commentor Anonymous:
... believing in miracles (including winged horses that carry you away to some glorious place) is not something I can abide; it defies all logic.

Now of course I'm not a Muslim, so I don't believe that Mohammed's Night Journey to heaven actually took place. Yet as a Catholic, I do believe in many miracles-- the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, the Lord's healings, the Resurrection, among many others.

I do believe in miracles.

Atheists believe in miracles as well.

Atheists believe that all life arose spontaneously-- without purpose or intelligent agency-- from mud or perhaps underwater volcanoes. Contra Anonymous, I fail to see how abiogenesis is more "logical" than winged horses.

Christians: 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us'.

Muslims: 'Mohammed flew to heaven one night on a winged horse'.

Atheists: 'Mohammed, all men, and all horses came from mud or volcanoes.'

Which one is more rational to you?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Voyager 1 at the Heliopause

From The American:
Voyager has traveled so far that it is now near the heliopause. At the heliopause, the solar wind — the stream of charged particles that emanates from the sun and causes such phenomena as aurorae and the tails of comets — becomes so attenuated that it blends into the interstellar medium. The heliopause, in other words, is the farthest limit of the sun’s empire. Beyond is true interstellar space, the empire of the Milky Way.

A man-made spacecraft has entered interstellar space. Very very cool. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

The teleology of DNA replication

Jonathan M. at Evolution News and Views has a great post on the extraordinary complexity and purpose manifest in DNA replication. He quotes from a 1998 paper in Cell:

Synthesis of all genomic DNA involves the highly coordinated action of multiple polypeptides. These proteins assemble two new DNA chains at a remarkable pace, approaching 1000 nucleotides (nt) per second in E. coli. If the DNA duplex were 1 m in diameter, then the following statements would roughly describe E. colireplication. The fork would move at approximately 600km/hr (375 mph), and the replication machinery would be about the size of a FedEx delivery truck. Replicating the E. coli genome would be a 40 min, 400 km (250 mile) trip for two such machines, which would, on average make an error only once every 170 km (106 miles). The mechanical prowess of this complex is even more impressive given that it synthesizes two chains simultaneously as it moves. Although one strand is synthesized in the same direction as the fork is moving, the other chain (the lagging strand) is synthesized in a piecemeal fashion (as Okazaki fragments) and in the opposite direction of overall fork movement. As a result, about once a second one delivery person (i.e. polymerase active site) associated with the truck must take a detour, coming off and then rejoining its template DNA strand, to synthesize the 0.2km (0.13 mile) fragments.
To which Darwinists reply: DNA replication manifests no evidence for teleology, no evidence for intelligence, no evidence for design, and no purpose at all.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

"There. I've defined the heart without mentioning 'purpose'."

Several commentors and I have been having a discussion of teleology and purpose in biology.

Teleology is a metaphysical theory that change in nature is generally restricted to a limited array of outcomes. Striking a match causes a flame, but never an atomic explosion, or an ice cube.

Some philosophers have noted that teleology invokes the notion of "purpose" in nature. There often seems to be a striving, a goal-orientedness, to natural processes. Purpose seems particularly obvious in biology. The purpose of the eye is to see, the purpose of the ear is to hear, the purpose of the lungs is to breathe. Purpose is evident at the cellular level. The purpose of mitochondria is to make energy, the purpose of ribosomes is to make proteins. Purpose is everywhere in living things.

Several of our atheist commentors have a real problem with assigning "purpose" to biology. Clearly, atheists are uncomfortable with acknowledging purpose in biology because it conjures a Source of purpose, which makes them squirm. Always eager to sacrifice science on the altar of ideology, atheists claim that inference to purpose is not necessary to discuss biology.

I disagree.

The heart is a hollow muscular organ which rhythmically contracts and pumps blood into relatively high pressure arteries, and rhythmically relaxes and receives blood from relatively low pressure veins. 
There. I've defined the heart without mentioning 'purpose'.

Just because we simplify things by using "purpose" langauge, doesn't mean there is actually any "purpose" there in the sense that you require.

it is impossible to discuss biology without discussing purpose.


That's rubbish Michael (unless you'd care to demonstrate that impossibility)....
Still waiting for your demonstration of goal directedness/purpose/final causality/Thomistic teleology in biology :-)

OK. Can I demonstrate that it is impossible to discuss biology without invoking purpose? Well, here goes.

Bach was kind enough to describe the heart without explicitly invoking purpose:
The heart is a hollow muscular organ which rhythmically contracts and pumps blood into relatively high pressure arteries, and rhythmically relaxes and receives blood from relatively low pressure veins. 
But if you neglect purpose,  there are other ways to describe the heart:
The heart is red, with yellow fat.
The heart is in a pericardial sac.
The heart weighs about a pound.
The heart moves continuously.
The heart makes a lub-dub sound.
And, oh heck, there are a lot of other things that are just as true about the heart:
It makes a "splat" sound if you drop it from a tall building.
It has no eyes.
It doesn't make urine.
Most people would agree that it wouldn't taste good, even with spicy pesto sauce.
It makes a lousy soccer ball.
It can be used as a paperweight, although it makes the papers soggy.
It can be fired out of a cannon, but it makes a mess.
It has never driven a race car in the Indianapolis 500.
It can be used as a doorstop, although it is rarely used for that purpose.
It can't play the violin.
There are an infinite number of ways to describe the heart, if you eschew "purpose". The heart has never been used as a baseball in a major league baseball game. It can be used to juggle. It is meaty. It would fit in your shoe. It pumps blood. It can't dance. All are equally true, if you are unconcerned about purpose.

So how, pray tell, does a scientist decide which of the infinite number of true facts about the heart are relevant?

Here's how:

Scientists invoke the purpose of the heart.

The heart's purpose is to pump blood.

In fact, you can sum up the main project in biological science during the past 2,300 years: to learn the purpose of things like hearts and DNA and kidneys and mitochondria.

Ironically, bachfiend, in his description of the heart, picked the one description, out of an infinite number of true descriptions, that alluded to  the heart's purpose-- and then he claims that the heart can be "defined" without allusion to purpose!


Even when atheists try to describe biology without "purpose", they invariably select a property out of an infinite number of true things about biology because it alludes to purpose.

It is impossible to discuss biology without discussing purpose. You can't even begin to talk about biology without selecting facts based on purpose. DNA is less tasty than a cannoli. DNA codes for proteins. DNA would make a lousy heat shield for the Space Shuttle. All are true of DNA.

When you talk about DNA, where do you begin? You pick the description of its purpose to talk about it.

The primary goal of biological science is to understand purpose in living things. Without purpose, nothing in biology makes any sense.

Where does purpose come from? Now you atheists can go ahead and squirm. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Rape in India: A Result of Sex Selection?"

From Erika Christakis at Time magazine:

The horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year old medical student in New Delhi may seem unrelated to fundamental demographic forces, but it isn’t. The public outcry following the victim’s death from catastrophic internal injuries has rightly focused on calls to reform India’s criminal justice system. Yesterday, five men were formally charged and the case is being put on a fast track set up in the wake of the incident to handle crimes against women, in contrast to the years of delay rape victims often face. 
But behind the angry protests is an even deeper story: the preference for male babies in India and much of the world may be at the root of this senseless violence. 
Growing evidence suggests that in countries like India and China, where the ratio of men to women is unnaturally high due to the selective abortion of female fetuses and neglect of girl children, the rates of violence towards women increase. “The sex ratio imbalance directly leads to more sex trafficking and bride buying,” says Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. A scarce resource is generally considered precious, but the lack of women also leaves many young men without marriage partners. In 2011, the number of cases of women raped rose by 9.2 percent; kidnapping and abductions of women were up 19.4 percent. “At this point, we’re talking correlation, not causation. More studies need to be done….[But] it is clear from historical cases and from studies looking at testosterone levels that a large proportion of unmarried men in the population is not a good thing,” says Hvistendahl. 
In a natural state, slightly more male babies are born than females (roughly 105 male infants to 100 females). Male infants are a little more fragile than females at birth, and women generally have a slightly longer life expectancy, so absent conditions such as warfare or unequal access to health care and nutrition, we would expect to see a nearly 1:1 ratio of adult men and women of marriageable age. 
India’s 2011 census showed 914 females to one thousand males, the most skewed ratio since India’s independence in 1947. In some regions, such as the Northern state of Haryana, there are only 830 females to 1000 males. More than twenty years ago, Nobel prize winner economist Amartya Sen warned of more than 100 million “missing” girls from India as a result of this preference for male children. 
The imbalance has squeezed poor and uneducated men out of the marriage market in particular, so there is a surplus of young men who are unable to find partners and assume standard adult roles in their societies. According to the Economist, China has nearly as many unmarried young men, known as ‘bare branches,’ as the entire population of American men. Ironically, the men themselves are harmed by the gender preference shown to them: unbalanced sex ratios may also increase the odds of ill health and early death in men. Something similar has been observed in a number of animal species: it is stressful to compete for mates and this stress can shorten lives. 
We’ve seen spasms of outrage before after random acts of barbarism, but violence towards women in the developing world continues unabated, and unremarked upon. India was recently rated the worst country for women among the G20 group of wealthiest nations. Yet sex discrimination rarely rises to the level of diplomatic action; we don’t apply economic sanctions to countries like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan where the violation of women’s freedom and safety is routine. But it’s long past time to recognize the problem of “missing girls” as an issue of international security. Alarmingly, the imbalanced sex ratios arising from what some have called “Gendercide” are wreaking havoc on the fabric of many growing societies, not just in Asia but in Eastern European countries such as Albania, Georgia and Armenia. Perhaps this reality will finally get the world’s attention when the shortage of women worldwide has downstream economic, health, and security effects, and we realize that the missing girls are a devastating loss to us all.

Population control is the real war on women. Its consequences are obvious. There are 100 million missing women in Asia. Each missing girl was killed by sex-selective abortion or female infanticide, both utterly predictable consequences of population control policies championed by Western scientists and fanatics and enacted by Asian nations.

There is an epidemic of sex trafficking, bride buying, rape, kidnapping and abductions of women in Asia. And there are a 100 million young men who have no chance at romance or marriage or a family. You don't need a PhD in psychology to predict what men do when 100 million women are missing.

Population control isn't just junk science. It is perhaps the most lethal public policy in human history, and it will rip nations apart, especially poor Third World nations.

When the consequences of population control are so obvious and so predictable, why are there still people who advocate it? 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Steven Novella takes on the creationists

Steven Novella has a post criticizing a recent video that challenges Darwinian orthodoxy and presents evidence for intelligent agency in nature.

As you may know I'm not a young earth creationist. The evidence is good that the universe is 15 billion or so years old, the earth is 5 billion years old, and life has evolved (changed) over time. I'm open to other evidence, but I have no good reasons to doubt these basic views.

I do assert that the universe is created by God, and that there is obvious evidence for intelligent agency in nature. My understanding of this evidence hews more to a Thomist approach than it does to a specific intelligent design approach. ID is clearly true, but I believe that ID in nature is a subset of teleology in nature, and teleology is irrefutable evidence for God's existence (Aquinas' Fifth Way).

I have no truck with Darwinism. Random variation and natural selection explains nothing. "Things change and survivors survive" is banality and tautology, and not real science. Darwin's idiot "theory" is a philosophical scam that has been successful merely because it was proposed in a culture duped by atheism and panting for a creation myth. Atheists are easy to please (c.f. Dawkins is considered a 'public intellectual') and largely innocent of even rudimentary philosophical rigor.

I'll not address the video specifically (it's a good video worth a look), but Novella's arguments are worth some commentary.

Genesis Weak
Published by Steven Novella under Creationism/ID 
I advise you to please turn off your irony meters before reading further or clicking the link to the video I will be discussing today. You may also want to take a couple of deep relaxing breaths to help preserve your neurons from the irrational assault they are about to suffer.

I was recently asked to take a look at Genesis Week with Ian Juby (Wazooloo), a slick YouTube series in which Juby takes us on a mystical journey through the looking glass of creationist nonsense. In his world science and reason are flipped completely upside down. It is, as they say, a “target rich environment” – too rich for any one blog post, so I will pick out a few gems.

The title of this episode is “I’m hooked on a feeling,” referring to new research showing that acceptance of evolution is strongly influenced by a gut “feeling of certainty” that people have about the theory. Juby makes much of this study (without, of course, putting it into any context) concluding that people believe in evolution despite the evidence (what he describes as overwhelming evidence for creation) rather than because of it.

The study itself reviews prior research on this question, summarizing it:

Despite the variety of studies that have been reported, there are no convincingly clear findings about the relationships among knowledge level, beliefs, and acceptance level regarding the theory of evolution. While some studies have provided evidence for a robust relationship between knowledge level and level of acceptance (Paz-y-Miño & Espinosa, 2009; Rutledge & Warden, 1999), others found no evidence of a straightforward relationship (Sinatra et al., 2003), and little evidence that instructional treatments affect acceptance levels (Chinsamy & Plagányi, 2007), even when learning gains have been substantiated (Nehm & Schonfeld, 2007). It has also been suggested that the nature of relationships change when acceptance of evolutionary theory is framed in the context of macroevolution rather than microevolution (Nadelson & Southerland, 2010).

So – it’s complicated. Results of research seem to depend upon how the study was conducted, meaning that confounding variables have not adequately been controlled for so they determine the outcome of individual studies, which therefore have conflicting results.

However, at least so far there does not appear to be a clear relationship between teaching students about evolutionary theory and their acceptance of it. This is actually not surprising and in line with the consensus of psychological research, which shows that people form opinions largely for emotional and ideological reasons, and then cherry pick the facts they need to support those opinions.

The findings of the current study are therefore nothing new, and there is no reason to think that this phenomenon is unique to belief in evolution.

But to put this study into its proper context – this is about affecting the opinions of students by confronting their emotional reactions to evolution. It is not about how scientists form their opinions about evolutionary theory.
Of course it is. Darwinism is a cesspool of ideologically-driven propaganda posing as dispassionate science.
This is a common logical error that creationists make – confusing public opinion with expert scientific opinion. Juby tries to make it seem that this study shows that acceptance of evolution in general (including among scientists and educators) is about feeling rather than evidence.
It is clear that the public approaches questions of origins much more rationally than the little coterie of atheists inhabiting departments of evolutionary biology.

Ordinary people aren't stupid, and evolutionary biologists are a hopelessly ideological clump of sheep stuck in a branch of science not known for perspicuity.

Ordinary people know propaganda when they see it, and their unwillingness to be duped drives atheists nuts.
He then goes on to another common claim of creationists that reflects their astounding intellectual dishonesty.

intellectual dishonesty (noun): the ability to distinguish atheist propaganda from science.
He lists a few biologists who are creationists – as if their opinions are evidence based, and contrasting them with the emotion-based acceptance of evolution. 
Among scientists, however, >99% accept evolutionary theory
Notice that atheists never define "evolution" in a way in which their assertions can be tested. All scientists accept that organisms have changed over time. Most scientists don't accept Darwin's assertion that RM + NS can account for all of it. Only a subset of all scientists (although a near unanimity of evolutionary biologists) accept the atheist framework on which Darwin's theory hangs.

The meaning of "evolution" constantly changes, in accordance with rhetorical needs.
– a relevant fact that Juby failed to mention. This is also in line with other research, showing that only at the highest levels of science education do facts trump emotion in forming our beliefs about controversial or emotional topics.
Yea. Only students at the pinnacle of their scientific training are really rational. What b.s.
Among the experts there is a strong consensus – the evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that all life on earth is related through an evolutionary process.
Living thing change. No one doubts that.

Does the fossil and molecular record support universal common ancestry? The evidence is mixed.
Juby, however, rattles off a couple of creationist exceptions as if they are the rule.
It is the exceptions in science that lead to genuine new insight.
It is hard to imagine that Juby is not aware of these facts. We are left to conclude that he is either living in a creationist bubble or is flagrantly dishonest in dealing with the question of scientific acceptance of evolution...
... whatever atheists mean by "evolution" at a given moment.

Eventually Juby gets around to listing some of the alleged overwhelming evidence for creation, including irreducible complexity and lack of a mechanism for increasing genetic information. He lists a bunch of old long-discredited creationist canards, and that is his “overwhelming evidence.”
Irreducible complexity and the enormous difficulty in explaining complex biological systems using known rates of heritable change are profound problems for atheism. Teleology explains such observations naturally, but teleology presupposes intelligent agency.

Teleology has been under a code of Omerta in natural science for several centuries for just that reason.

Creationists proposed the notion of irreducible complexity over a decade ago, and really it was just a reformulation of arguments they have been putting forward for a century and a half – since Darwin proposed his version of evolutionary theory.
IC is an old idea, asserted recently by Mike Behe based on modern biochemical evidence. It is obviously true, and a very important observation that is devastating to Darwin's theory.
It has been debated and discussed among scientists, and found to be a fatally flawed idea.
fatally flawed idea (noun); any idea inconsistent with atheism.
It’s flat out wrong – disproved by numerous counter examples.
Just-so stories aren't examples. There is vanishing little actual scientific evidence that complex biological systems can evolve step-by-step through IC roadblocks.
I first wrote about it myself in 1999, and the arguments haven’t changed.
The arguments haven't changed because they are valid, and there's no reason to change them.
The alleged lack of a mechanism for generating new genetic information is nonsense – not a serious scientific or even philosophical argument.
I challenge Dr. Novella to write one paragraph of his blog post using randomly generated variations of letters "selected" by an algorithm that lacks the endpoint of a syntactically correct and semantically coherent paragraph.

Generating Dr. Novella himself without intelligent agency is an even more difficult matter, as you might imagine.

Generating Dr. Novella's ideas without intelligent agency has already been done.
(I first debunked this one in 2002.) The combination of random mutations and selective pressures, combined with gene duplication and other genetic mechanisms, are fully capable of increasing overall genetic information and creating new information.
Scrambling information without forethought creates no "new" information. Tearing up newspapers into tiny bits and flinging the bits in the air does not generate new newspapers.
Creationists like Juby have no counterarguments to the scientific consensus clearly demonstrating that irreducible complexity and creationist abuses of information theory are false. They simply trot out the same discarded claims over and over again with arrogance and casual dismissiveness of the scientific consensus – a consensus slowly built on a mountain of evidence.
IC remains fatal to atheism and to Darwinism.
I’m not bothered by the fact the people like Juby can promote their nonsense on an open forum like YouTube.
Why would Novella even think to question Juby's right to free speech?
He is unlikely to change anyone’s opinion.
He doesn't have to. Creationists are the majority, Steven.
He also provides yet another opportunity to point out the terrible logic and questionable honesty of the creationists. They do make it easy in that they have nothing new to say.
We tell the obvious truth, which is not new.
Science changes and new ideas and new evidence are brought to bare.
... brought to bear. Maybe Novella is writing his post using random letters...
Creationism is stuck in its prescientific conclusion, and continue to rely upon long discredited arguments – even when dressed up in a slick YouTube video.
Creationism terrifies atheists, because atheism can't explain design in nature. Atheists have known since the mid-19th century that their only hope to prevail is if they can silence debate.

That's getting harder to do.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Nick Gillespie on gays in the Boy Scouts

From Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine:
A Lesson From the Scouts' Own Book 

The Boy Scouts of America are in the news again, for the only thing they ever seem to be in the news for anymore: their attitudes toward homosexuals. 
Next week, the Scouts will hold a vote that's widely expected to end the blanket ban on gays joining as members or holding adult leadership. By most accounts, the century-old organization will probably let individual chartering groups—many of which are churches—decide whether homosexuals can join and help run their troops.

A 1940S Boy Scout playing bugle. Can the organization be as resilient as its members?
Before I get to whether that's a good idea, let me share some of the lessons I learned while working toward the rank of Eagle Scout which I earned in 1980. Many were trivial, others profound. Most have stayed with me. 
I learned how to show up on time, or better yet, 10 minutes early. I learned how to dress carefully and distinctly, how to roll and secure my troop's signature pale blue neckerchief in exactly the prescribed manner, how to shine my shoes and how to cinch my belt so that the metal-clad tips met "brass on brass." I learned that wearing a uniform didn't mean you all had to think the same way. 
I learned how to stand straight and not laugh inappropriately and how to tie not just a bowline knot but a sheepshank, too. I learned that woodworking and carving were hard but, like any other skill, if you practiced it long enough, you could get pretty good at it.
For one of my 20-plus merit badges, I learned that I could survive in the woods overnight with nothing but a length of rope, a pound of ground beef, a pocketknife and a flint-and-steel for starting a fire. 
I learned the incredible rush that comes from starting a fire with nothing but a hunk of rock and a piece of metal when you're cold and hungry and wondering what the heck you were doing outside with nothing to eat except a pound of ground beef. I learned I could swim a mile in a lake without touching the bottom once and that I could use a compass to find my way through the woods. 
I learned that one of the best ways to deal with a troublemaker was to give him a little responsibility (I was a troublemaker). I learned that I could talk to my father about sleeping outdoors in a tent as he had done as an infantryman in World War II. I learned that men who weren't your dad but had fought in Korea and Vietnam and worked jobs that weren't glamorous or even personally rewarding could teach you a lot—and could be great fun.
I learned about trust and confidence and leadership when I was asked to instruct Tenderfoot scouts (the lowest rank) on how to use axes and hatchets safely, build fires without burning down the forest, and shine their shoes and roll their neckerchiefs properly and stand at attention without laughing inappropriately. 
I learned that not everything and everyone had to be ironic or cynical or jaded all the time and that some of the goofiest, most earnest traditions and rituals—circling up for "Taps" at the end of each weekly meeting, say, or reciting the Scout Law ("A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful...")—held enormous power. I learned that the Scout motto ("Be Prepared") and slogan ("Do a good turn daily") were pretty good ideas to take seriously throughout life. 
During hundreds of camping trips and meetings and service projects and weird and wonderful events such as the Klondike Derby (a cold-weather competition in which scouts drag makeshift sleds over frozen ground for hours), I learned how to adapt to changing circumstances on the fly while keeping the main goals in sight. 
Now, of course, it's time for the Boy Scouts themselves to learn a lesson about adaptability—one that I fear may be coming too late to save the group from its long decline in numbers and influence. 
I still draw on what I learned in the Scouts, whose mission statement talks about preparing "young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes." That creed has helped to make me a better father—or at least a less-bad one—to my two sons, whom I kept from joining the Boy Scouts because of the group's position on gays. 
It was a decision that I made with much sadness and not a little anger, but it was fully in keeping with the Scout Oath, which requires members to do their best to be "morally straight" at all times and to do what they think is right. 
I hope that by the time my sons become fathers, they will feel comfortable enrolling their own children in the Scouts, and I will be able to talk with my grandkids about what it's like to sleep in a tent outdoors and to pull a sled over frozen ground and how to stand at attention without laughing inappropriately and all the rest.

Shame on the Boy Scouts for caving on this critical issue.

The Boy Scout's ban on homosexuals has been because homosexual conduct is immoral, and because putting boys and young men in intimate situations with men in authority who are sexually attracted to them is unsafe. Even if one makes the argument that being 'gay' does not predispose to pedophilia (it does), most Boy Scouts (age 12-17) are post-pubescent and sexually mature, and same-sex attraction to them isn't pedophilia anyway.

Sorta puts the lie to libs who claim that their excoriation of the Catholic Church for the abuse scandal is because they want to 'protect the kids'.  When it comes to letting gays in the Boy Scouts have easy access to youngsters to which they are attracted, libs are in the cheering section. But then again why would we expect people who defend aborting kids to have qualms about putting them at risk for sexual abuse?

Nick Gillespie may have the opportunity to talk with his grandsons about a lot of things besides sleeping in a tent outdoors, after their first overnight camping trip with their gay scoutmasters.