Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

QOTD: Theistic evolution is a problem for theists

Paula Kirby writes in the "On Faith" column of the Washington Post regarding the inherent problem within theistic evolution, and it bears repeating:

While I welcome anyone who recognizes that the evidence for evolution is such that it cannot sensibly be denied, to attempt to co-opt evolution as part of a divine plan simply does not work, and suggests a highly superficial understanding of the subject. Not only does evolution not need to be guided in any way, but any conscious, sentient guide would have to be a monster of the most sadistic type: for evolution is not pretty, is not gentle, is not kind, is not compassionate, is not loving. Evolution is blind, and brutal, and callous. It is not an aspiration or a blueprint to live up to (we have to create those for ourselves): it is simply what happens, the blind, inexorable forces of nature at work. An omnipotent deity who chose evolution by natural selection as the means by which to bring about the array of living creatures that populate the Earth today would be many things - but loving would not be one of them. Nor perfect. Nor compassionate. Nor merciful. Evolution produces some wondrously beautiful results; but it happens at the cost of unimaginable suffering on the part of countless billions of individuals and, indeed, whole species, 99 percent of which have so far become extinct. It is irreconcilable with a god of love.

I fell into the Theistic Evolution camp during my transition from the Young Earth Creationism that I was indoctrinated with as a student. But to argue that God 'tinkers' with species that mostly evolve on their own so that humans will one day stride the Earth means that God takes a dim view of the suffering of creatures. Was the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago a chance happenstance that was very fortunate for our mammalian ancestors? Or was it a deliberate strike by God because he grew frustrated with a pair of T-Rexes who kept blundering past each other, unable to find each other so that they could mate and continue life's inexorable advance?

I'm not interested in the sort of Designer who has to perform assassination in order to further his goals, even if they might happen to be favorable for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Turns out gays, not boobs, cause earthquakes

Not long after a minor earthquake rattled the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, along come the predictions by religious folk that God sends natural disasters to punish people, right on schedule.  Here's Rabbi Levin letting us know that this event  was due to, not Boobquake, but homosexuals:

The money quote at the 6:00 minute mark is:

"One of the reasons that God brings earthquakes to the world is because of the transgression of homosexuality, and the Talmud states, 'You have shaken your male member in a place where it doesn't belong. I too, will shake the earth.'"

Who knew that the Talmud was loaded with innuendo?

Of course, with minimal property damage and no reported injuries from this earthquake, one wonders if perhaps God is losing his grip.  And since gay marriage is illegal in Virginia, the epicenter of the quake, but not in New York, perhaps God has gone myopic as well.  God used to be able to kill off individuals in a crowd (2 Samuel 6).  Now he misses the target by hundreds of miles?  I'm afraid we expect much more from an omnipotent deity.  God may want to consider scaling back, spend some more time with his family, and perhaps take up a hobby...preferably one that doesn't involve sharp instruments.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Episode 22 - Carl Sagan - The Dragon in My Garage

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Carl Sagan, famous author and astronomer. The passage is a popular one from his book called The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.

You can subscribe within iTunes or download it directly from here

I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Atheists: No longer the least popular group

A mildly amusing survey shows that the Tea Party is less popular in America than all other groups mentioned:

In an op-ed article in the New York Times, Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard, and David E. Campbell, a political scientist at Notre Dame, say they have collected data indicating that the tea party is "less popular than much maligned groups like 'atheists' and 'Muslims.'"

To be fair, there's bound to be cross-over, as a Tea Party member could very well be an Atheist or a Muslim (although I would find it highly unlikely.) The survey also asks participants to rate religious groups, political parties, and notable individuals, so the results are bound to be weak and difficult to interpret.

But it's refreshing to see that atheists are no longer the whipping boys of American culture.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pastor Films Honey-Soaked Naked Girls in Shower

From the News of the Weird:

AUGUST 8--Using a hidden video camera, a Texas man filmed four naked, honey-drenched teenage girls while they showered at a church where he worked as a youth pastor...

The 30-year-old Fortenberry, investigators alleged, organized a “Fear Factor” game that included honey being poured over four girls he had picked to participate. After the contest, Fortenberry instructed the minors that they “could take a shower and wash the honey” off their bodies.

It was at this point that he allegedly videotaped the four teenagers with a camera he had hidden in the church bathroom.

I don't think this is what Yahweh had in mind when he promised believers a land flowing with milk and honey.

But since the statute of limitations has already expired, prosecutors today were forced to dismiss felony charges lodged against Thomas Fortenberry, who allegedly did the surreptitious filming in November 2007 at the Greater Harvest Community Church in Pasadena.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Episode 21 - Chapman Cohen - Freethought

This episode of Cold Beer for the Skeptic's Mind features Chapman Cohen, an English secularist, writer, and lecturer. Today's excerpt comes from his essay called, "The Meaning and Value of Freethought."

You can subscribe within iTunes or download it directly from here.

I hope you enjoy it.