Saturday, December 6, 2008

Armageddon a Happy Marriage

A news article came out today on Yahoo News entitled “ Bush: Marriage has gotten better in White House” (read it at: It’s all about how the pressures of the presidency have brought W and his wife closer together. Isn’t that peachy keen. We’re fighting a huge made-up war where thousands of Americans have died and tens of thousands of the people we were liberating have died. Our government has alienated almost every country in the world. The Environmental Protection Agency thinks the only environment it should protect is in the board rooms of big corporations, and the American economy is swirling down the bowl before our (increasingly unemployed) eyes. But George W. Bush is fine because he was able to take time away from orchestrating the end of the world as we know it to make his marriage work. Is there a better example of how far up his own ass George W. Bush is?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Peace on Earth and Kill the Atheists

I worked at a retail store the year that Bill O’Reilly started his “War on Christmas” nonsense. Among my regular customers were people that I knew were Jewish. I also had customers from Japan, China, Arab nations, India and a bunch of other places. My first inkling that some Xians were outraged that stores’ employees were saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” was when a very angry looking sixtyish woman came into the store, stomped past the Christmas trees, past the decorations that spelled out “Merry Christmas” and past the inflatable lawn ornaments with “Merry Christmas” printed across them, to the customer service desk, where she demanded to know whether the customer service rep greeted customers with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. The CSR responded that she preferred to say “Happy Holidays”, triggering a “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” tirade from the woman before she stormed back out of the store leaving puzzled employees and customers in her wake.
There was no store policy about holiday greetings. Staff members were free to address customers in any civil manner they liked and virtually all of us would respond to a customer’s “Merry Christmas” greeting with something like “and Merry Christmas to you”. It’s just that some of the employees, like me, realized that our customers were not exclusively Christians, and that there were other holidays to celebrate at that time of year. Coincidentally, that year Hanukah began on Dec. 25th. , but some of the employees were obviously Bill O’Reilly fans or attended the same church as fans and “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” discussions occurred in the break room as well as at customer service.
Ultimately, the “Jesus” people were sure that there was some kind of conspiracy to completely remove all reference to Christianity from the month of December and they seemed to feel that Xmas was the one and only legitimate holiday in Dec. The “holiday” people lived in the real world and were aware that other people have a right to exist too.
I don’t know what Bill O’Reilly’s motivation is. He may believe there’s a war on Xmas or he may get off on creating nationwide outrage among conservative Xians. It is clear, however, that conservative Xians, who seem to require an enemy in order to feel fulfilled, believe that their world is under attack from the usual suspects and that they need to gird their arms and join the crusade before society collapses into an orgy of abortions and godless communism. So, the Jesus people get to feel enraged and outraged and persecuted and at war with everyone whose views differ from theirs (and who are therefore EVIL). Of course, if they win the war (oops, I mean when they win, because god is on their side) the world will be a better place because salespeople will say “Merry Christmas” to everyone as they kill each other while fighting over the last got-to-have-it-now-toy, and maybe they’ll say “peace on earth, good will toward mankind” too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Good Reason for Atheism

In a news article: ( a man crashed his pickup into a woman’s car. He told police he did it because God told him to. Chances are you’ll never hear an atheist say he committed a crime because his imagination told him to. Oh, and speaking of commitment, the article said that the man would be given a psychological evaluation. Pat Robertson says he speaks to god a lot, can we send him to a mental hospital for a while?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Man Died But I Got a Great Deal

I was appalled to hear about the temporary employee who died in a Long Island Walmart as a result of being knocked down and trampled by Black Friday shoppers. That shoppers don’t seem to care who dies or gets injured as long as they get a good price on a wide screen TV reinforces my worst opinions of the human race. The mob not only killed the man who was trying to open the door that was ripped off its hinges by the pressing crowd, they also knocked down and stepped on several employees who tried to reach the fallen coworker, and when employees asked people to leave because, due to the death, the store needed to close, shoppers refused to leave because they had waited a long time to get in.
I’ve often observed shoppers being so self-centered that the health and safety of everyone around them were of no consequence so long as the shopper got what they wanted. Fortunately, bumps and bruises were usually the worst result of these interactions, but it looks as though that the occasional death causes no more concern for such persons.
For me, there is absolutely nothing in Walmart that is worth even slightly hurting another individual, but what do I know, I’m an atheist and atheists, I’m told, have no morals. While lately, atheists have been in the news as the cause of everything from bad weather to bad politics, the odds are pretty slim that atheists represented more than a small percentage of the mob, and the odds are very good that the majority of the mob identify themselves as Christians, no news service or pundits would ever suggest that the cause was related to Christianity, even though the whole event was connected to a Christian holiday.

Ghosts Can’t Exist, Because I Said So

One area where my views are at odds with most of the other atheist bloggers and forum participants whose writings I have read is on the subject of ghosts. Atheists tend to be skeptical and only believe in things for which they see evidence, and that pretty much describes me too. But where I diverge from the majority is that I have seen the evidence of ghosts. That being said, I have no way of presenting evidence of what I believe to be true.
As you are probably aware, my belief in ghosts actually put me at odds with lots and lots of theists also. There are plenty of good reasons to be skeptical about this subject; the paucity of evidence, the persuasive arguments of doubters, the long history of charlatans in the paranormal field, and fear of the unknown. The only people I have a problem with are those who flatly refuse to consider the possibility that ghosts are real.
Among atheists it is fairly common to believe that if there is no deity and religion is invalid, then there is no afterlife. Obviously, if there is no afterlife, the spirits of dead people can’t be running around. Then there are some Christians who believe that all people go to heaven or hell, so anyone still hanging around must be demons (personally, I’ve never seen any evidence to suggest that ghosts are demons). Other people have never seen evidence, have always associated paranormal claims with side-shows, hippies and magic acts and can’t believe anyone could take such things seriously, and lots of people have lots of other reasons that I either don’t remember or never heard. The thing is all the people who refuse to consider the possibility of ghosts could summarize their attitude as: Ghosts don’t exist because I say so.
What the heck, I can’t even convince some people that sushi is good so I can’t be surprised that I can’t sway them about ghosts, but I’m frustrated that the those insistent that ghosts don’t exist shut down all conversation on the subject. What I really want is to start a dialog with other open minded skeptics about possible explanations for this phenomenon that may lead to a greater understanding of nature, but refusal to consider the possibility pretty much kills that discussion.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is It Sometimes OK for Christians to Lie?

I posted this in the Rational Responders Forum, but if anyone blunders onto this blog, please leave a comment here:
I hope some of the theists out there can enlighten me on this matter: I was recently loaned a copy of "The Case for a Creator" by Lee Strobel and as I read, I checked the footnotes. What I found was that every single quote from a credible scientific source that I checked in the first three chapters (I gave up after that) was taken out of context and/or a misrepresentation of the source material. Strobel gave quotes from scientists as examples of evolution text books advocating atheism, when the quotes were actually from articles written about atheism, not evolution, and not included in any text book. He edited quotes so they appeared to say the opposite of their original meanings, he read things into analogies that were never intended, and he farmed quotes from other ID books rather than going to the primary sources. Furthermore he interviewed “open-minded scientists” (his term for ones that are open to a possibility of a creator) who all actually come from the Discovery Institute where the main goal is to promote creationism, and who published Strobel’s book. That doesn’t sound open-minded or unbiased to me. Don’t take my word for it, check for yourself.
Over the years, several creationist Christians have loaned me books that argued against evolution and all the books have followed the same pattern. I don’t blame the readers, they have no reason to assume that the authors are intentionally deceptive, but as one who has read the sources that are being quoted, the lies are blatant. Also, if Strobel read the source material he quoted, then he knows that misrepresentation was his intention. So, my question is: Do Christians think that lying is acceptable, as long as it helps them reinforce their religious doctrine? Do the Ten Commandments only apply when truth helps you win an argument?
I ask this partly because atheists like me, are often told that without religion they have no morality, yet I don’t need the threat of eternal damnation to know lying is immoral. So why do the producers of books (and articles and videos and websites) written by Christians, published by Christians and marketed primarily to Christians think this is acceptable and within the framework of good Christianity? By the way, can anyone direct me to an honest creationist book?

Beware: Dangerous Stupid People

Barack Obama has received an unprecedented number of death threats since winning the election. Some of these, as expected, come from racists, but there are a bunch of other crazies lining up as well. Some of the biblical end-times people have decided that Obama is the Anti-Christ, which they aim to prove by selectively cherry-picking the book of Revelations and to further back up with infinitely misinterpretable (and nonbiblical) quatrains of Nostradamus. Then there are the people who think Obama is a socialist and think that socialist and Stalinist are synonymous terms. Next are the ultra-conservatives who think that any Democrat, or just about anyone else who disagrees with them, is a blight on the land and should be eradicated. There are a bunch of other types I could list, but the scariest ones are just dangerous stupid people.
Dangerous stupid people listen to pundits like Shawn Hanity or Bill O’Reilly, who say everyone should be scared of Barack Obama because there’s no telling what he might do. Dangerous stupid people don’t stop and think that pundits like Shawn Hanity or Bill O’Reilly are self-serving egomaniacs who only care about high Nielson Ratings and don’t give a damn whether their inane blather is misinterpreted as suggesting that that the President-elect of the US is a threat to the American way of life.
Pundits like Shawn Hanity or Bill O’Reilly don’t care if their inflammatory, hate-filled rhetoric incites dangerous stupid people to kill a man who could prove to be a great President, just because the pundits’ job is to criticize Democrats, but they have nothing to criticize yet (because Bush is still the President!). Instead, pundits like Shawn Hanity or Bill O’Reilly choose to play on the fears of dangerous stupid people who haven’t the mental capacity to differentiate between the verbal masturbatory spew of pompous sociopathic blowhards and genuine warnings of impending disaster. So if anything bad happens to the President-elect, the pundits need to be imprisoned as accessories to murder.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bush Can’t Stop Ruining Things

George W. Bush, who became almost invisible in the run up to the election, has reemerged in an effort to insure that any future President will have to work damned hard to push him from the pedestal of “Worst President in History”. Bush’s philosophy has always been; what’s good for Exxon’s CEO is good for America, but I don’t understand why he thinks every piece of open land, every tree, and every wild animal is bad for Exxon’s CEO. His departure from the White House may be like the Russians retreating before Napoleon; leaving nothing but scorched earth all the way back to Texas.
House Democrats are currently trying to find way to prevent Bush from relaxing rules protecting endangered species so their habitats can be destroyed by development. He’s also trying to reduce the distance that big polluting industries can be built from National Parks, and change the way air quality is measured to disregard spikes in poor air quality. Maybe his next move will be to make the Grand Canyon into a toxic waste dump. He may as well since the pollution will be so bad that nothing can be seen anyway.
I don’t know if Bush is just trying to be decisive, but only capable of making wrong decisions or if he’s trying to leave a legacy comparable to the asteroid that ended the Cretaceous Period, but the results are about the same. I was looking forward to Obama as President; I just hope we’re alive to see it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I. D. Effect

Testimony by former students of John Freshwater, and teachers who subsequently dealt with those students, stated, in the Freshwater termination hearing, that the creationist content of the curriculum caused the students to doubt the value and veracity of science. One of the students who took the stand was Jewish, demonstrating that creationism in the classroom effects all students; not just those whose religious convictions align with a literal interpretation of Genesis. This is disturbing to me for a couple of reasons.
In the 2006 PISA international science test, the US ranked 19th out of thirty nations tested; well below average. Yet it indicated that only Switzerland spends more money per student than the US and, with one of the highest percentages, 38.8% of our students believe they will be in a science related job by age 30. This seems to indicate that although we do a lousy job of teaching science, we do a good job of convincing our students that we are preparing them to be competitive in a high tech world. An awful lot of our kids will be surprised and disappointed when they end up serving hamburgers to the high tech workers that got the real science educations. I saw the results of our educational system when I worked for a biotech company 15 years ago; a lot of US applicants were losing out to people from overseas in the most demanding jobs.
So, what does this have to do with Freshwater? We already have demonstrated that we are below average at teaching science and we know that a fair percentage of those kids will be told Sunday morning to disregard whatever information they were taught the previous week, under threat of eternal damnation. The last thing our kids need is a science teacher exacerbating the situation. Who knows how many potential gifted scientists were steered away from finding a disease cure or inventing a flying car by the propaganda from one teacher.
The other thing that bothered me was that a Jewish boy was convinced that conclusions drawn from the scientific method were irrelevant; but that the views of someone else’s religious beliefs were relevant. There are several non-bible-based religious centers near Mount Vernon, so it’s possible that Freshwater’s classes could contain children of Hindus, Buddhists or a few other religions that don’t have anything to do with the Bible. How would it feel for a student from a Hindu household to be told that he or she was required to be familiar with the first chapter of someone else’s religious book as part of their science curriculum? Would the Christian students in Mount Vernon mind aligning their scientific curriculum with the Bhagavad Gita?
What I’m trying to say is that we owe our children the best education money can buy and that should make them the most learned students in the world. Our schools don’t even come close to that goal and we have people investing huge amounts of money and effort in propaganda that undermines that education. The “intelligent design” proponents have no interest in science education; their only goal is to prosthelytize for their religion. That is unethical, unconstitutional, and incredibly self-centered. The creationists are destroying our educational system and the future of our children simply because they believe it will earn them more brownie points with God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More on the Freshwater Case

The Freshwater Hearing was back in session today and the injured boy, Zachery Dennis and his mother, Jenifer Dennis took the stand today to give testimony about Zach’s injury that was inflicted by John Freshwater and about Christianity taught in the classroom. Richard B. Hoppe, a visiting professor at Kenyon College has been following the case and posting info at
Freshwater’s lawyer insisted that the injured boy’s identity be made public the first day of the hearing, and I was worried that he might be harassed or hurt by passionate supporters of Freshwater, but, thank goodness, that appears not to have happened. Jenifer Dennis gave her first interview to the Columbus Dispatch to comment on the case and to promote her efforts to get state laws changed to protect the identity of young people in similar cases. She has set up a website: to help with the effort.
The Dispatch story can be found at:
If you want all the background and the latest news go to:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Republicans Learn from Creationists

It is obvious that most fundamentalist xians are republicans. Some guy found a public radio show on which Barack Obama was featured as part of a panel discussing the history of civil rights. You can listen to it here: . So what he did was take parts out of context (like the way fundies argue against evolution), then he put his cut and paste recording on YouTube. You can hear it here: . The upshot of it is that it makes it sound like Obama was advocating socialism, instead of talking about history. Now, if you hear someone on the radio talking about the Obama and redistribution of wealth, treat it the same way you would a quote that purports to prove that Darwin believed in Noah’s Ark.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Domestic Terrorism

Just in the last few days I have learned that since McCain started talking about ACORN in his town hall meetings, the ACORN offices have been receiving a large number of threatening phone calls and death threats. Several of the offices have also received boxes covered with threats that contained an unidentified white powder.
Here in Ohio, Republicans filed a lawsuit that demanded that the Secretary of State’s Office investigate voter registrations that the Republicans felt were suspicious. The suit went through the courts all the way to the US Supreme Court who sided with the Secretary of State and struck down the law suit. Since that occurred, the Ohio State department’s website has been hacked into, the office has received many threatening phone calls including death threats and they have received a box covered with threats that contained an unidentified white powder. What a coincidence.
The Republican politicians have been the most vocal supporters of the War on Terrorism; actively promoting unconstitutional and unethical activities to be sure we keep America safe and get the bad guys. What occurred at ACORN and the Ohio SoS Off. were nothing less than terrorism and I think the investigative methods promoted by the GOP should be used to zealously investigate these crimes and then whoever is caught should be denied a trial and sent to Guantanamo for a few years of CIA hospitality.

How to Be a Real American

We all found out over the last few days that there are two Americas; real America and un-America or something like that. Sarah Palin, McCain senior advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer, and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann all have made statements on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign in which they refer to real Americans and the others, who are either implied or openly suggested to be un-American or even anti-American, apparently because they don’t want to vote for McCain (those evil, evil, un-Americans).
So, what does it take to be a real American?
1. You need to live in a small town, or maybe a city, as long as you live in a real American part of that city. But under no circumstances should you live in an anti-American city like New York City (or really any place on the East Coast north of Delaware and south of Maine, even as far inland as Washington DC) or Los Angeles (and people in San Francisco should just pack up and move to Godless-Homo-Commieland before election day).
2. You need to be a conservative evangelical Xian, because if you don’t believe literally some parts of the bible and ignore the parts that suggest you’re wrong or just sound too inconvenient, then you can’t be a real American. Also, although it’s not in the bible, you can’t kill any zygotes, but it’s ok because you’re allowed to kill most of them when they grow up.
3. Two out of three real Americans agree that you should try to ban all innocuous children’s fantasy movies because imaginary creatures remind real Americans of Satan, and we can’t have any of that! You should also advocate banning any books that you might disagree with, especially if they help someone deal with a disgusting, immoral, sickening, unspeakable, aberrant behavior (you know who you are).
4. You should be a hard working, blue collar, bring home the bacon kind of person who makes at least $250,000 a year because you need to like Bush’s tax cuts and hate Obama’s proposed tax cuts. Real Americans believe that rich people should pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes so that they can use it for more important things like trickling down and giving huge donations to the Republican Party. Besides, people making 10% of that would waste any extra money they received on frivolous food and shelter anyway and giving them the tax breaks that G.W. Bush promised but never gave is the exact same thing as painting the country red, changing its name to Americommie, and calling everyone comrade.
5. Real Americans know that anti-Americans are trying to destroy this country, so you need to learn to distinguish between the two. Try some subtle questions like, “Which is better, the 10 commandments or the constitution?”, or “How old is the earth?”, or “Do you believe homosexuals should be allowed to marry, or should they have stakes driven through their hearts, be doused with gas, set on fire and be shipped off to Anti-American Homoland?”, for example.
So there you have it. If you don’t fit the above categories you’re not a real American and you should probably just leave or commit suicide or turn yourself in to the authorities for prosecution and deportation. Or you could vote against these hate-mongering bigots and make sure their names never appear on a ballot again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Editorial for Fredricksburg

I just sent an editorial to the Fredericksburg, VA newspaper in response to an editorial entitled, “No Christian should support pro-abortion candidate Obama”(If you read the title you don’t really need to read the article). I tried not to show my personal beliefs (or lack thereof) but I think it’s time for conservative evangelicals to wake up and smell the hypocrisy. There’s more to life than pro-life and they need to vote that way. The link to the original editorial is below.
Lisa Haythorn, please consider this.
In response to Lisa Haythorn’s editorial, “No Christian should support pro-abortion candidate Obama”, I think her view needs reconsideration. For the last two election cycles pro-life supporters have advocated voting Republican to protect the lives of the unborn. Pastors have even preached from the pulpit that their congregation would go to hell if they didn’t vote Republican. But, quite frankly, nothing came of it.
For the first six years of the G. W. Bush administration there was a pro-life GOP majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, there was a pro-life President and a pro-life majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, but no effort was made to overturn Roe v. Wade. I believe that the Christians are being manipulated by the Republicans.
The period of pro-life majority government was a rare opportunity that is unlikely to recur for a long time, but only lip service was ever paid to overturning Roe v. Wade. The Republicans have learned that as long as they dangle a pro-life carrot in front of Christians they have guaranteed votes. If they overturn abortion rights, they lose that guarantee. I’m not suggesting that people should vote for Obama, or anyone else for that matter, I’m just saying that Christians need to vocally support other issues rather than loudly announcing that candidates need only to put a pro-life plank in their platform to receive your vote. That way, candidates know that the voters are on to their ruse and that they need to do what they promise or get voted out of office.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mark Twain and the Good Old Days

I was listening to an audio book of Mark Twain’s "Life on the Mississippi" . As he was telling about a trip from New York to the Mississippi River, he observed that the further one traveled from New York, the more plain people seemed to be. Although the clothing plain people wore may have come from the same New York manufacturers as those worn by the most sylish New Yorker, the choice of attire became more conservative in style and color as distance from the Big Apple increased.
So, what the hell does that have to do my blog? Well, Mark Twain went on to say that those people who were most plain and conservative were so out of touch that they actually believed the literal biblical timeline. That observation was made about a trip in the 1880’s. Imagine that. When Mark Twain wrote those words he knew that suggesting that people were young earth creationists would be viewed by his readers as the height of ignorance. And in the 21st cen. such an admission can get you elected president.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fundies Cheat

My nephew loaned me a copy of The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel so I decided I would write down all the inaccuracies, quotes out of context, and intentional misrepresentations. After one chapter I almost died of terminal writer’s cramp. For many who argue against evolution, I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt. I think the average creationist just regurgitates what he has read in books recommended by his church, although I do wish one of these fundies would actually check the footnotes.
Lee Strobel and xian apologists like him are different. Strobel obviously looked for at least part of his own source material, so he knows where he’s taken things out of context or intentionally misrepresented things. The whole book is based on interviews with “open minded scientists”, but nowhere does he mention that everyone he interviewed worked for the Discovery Institute, a group whose whole purpose is to force intelligent design into the public school curriculum. So I think it’s safe to say that Lee Strobel is a big fat liar liar pants on fire.
This is a pattern I see again and again; if evangelical xians cannot accomplish their goals honestly, they never hesitate to lie, misrepresent facts, and engage in attacks on their opponents. Don’t they realize that “the ends justify the means” is from Machiavelli not Mathew? Their books are not the only place they resort to these questionable tactics. When the school board of Dover, PA was sued for trying to inject religion into the curriculum, the board members put their hands on the bible and swore to tell the truth, then promptly lied their asses off. When Judge Roy Moore dumped a rock carved with the ten commandments in his courthouse, he insisted along with his backers (all evangelical xians) that the rock was a secular symbol and to prove it, the xians formed a prayer circle around the rock to pray for the protection of their secular symbol. If they had bothered to read the ten commandments they’d have known that they are forbidden to lie or create and worship graven images.
When proponents of evolution argue against the fundamentalists, they have to dot every I and cross every T to insure that their arguments leave no flaws that the fundies can blow out of proportion. But the xians can lie, make things up, and attribute false statements to anyone they want. Then they follow up their web of lies by insisting that atheist have no morality.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's Columbus Day

Today we honor the man who didn’t discover America. The Native Americans obviously discovered it first. Then Vikings, Chinese, and maybe others arrived. Columbus never even found the North or South American continents; he only landed on some Caribbean Islands. What he did do is begin the invasion of the Americas by European Christians. These were soldiers accompanied by priests. That way, when they were done torturing, enslaving, infecting, and killing the indigenous people, they could force the survivors to adopt Christianity.
Ferdinand and Isabella, the rulers of Spain, having driven off or killed all the Jewish, Islamic and other non-Catholic people, needed someplace new to spread Christian love and charity. Thus began centuries of religious bigotry, holy wars, destruction of native cultures, and ethnic cleansing, as soldier and inquisitor marched arm in arm across the land. Praise the lord and pass the ammunition.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fossils from the Flood

Lately, I’ve been stumbling on many articles and videos wherein young world creationists try to explain the source of fossils. This is what I call willful ignorance. They can sum up the source in one sentence; these are all the things that died in Noah’s flood.
The articles assure us that the flood is the most logical explanation for fossils. We all have seen dead animals on the side of the road, or on the sacrificial alter, or from an aircraft as we gun them down in Alaska. Those animals don’t become fossils; they just rot away. But if they were underwater with sediment settling atop them, like might happen in a really big flood, then fossils would be formed all over the world. So there.
All the layers of sedimentary rock were laid down during the flood. As proof that this could occur they point out that in events, like the Mount Saint Helen eruption for example, sediments settle in alternating light and dark layers. The creationist writers don’t seem concerned that real sedimentary layers have sandstone below limestone below shale and so on and so forth. Furthermore, they don’t seem to notice that geologist don’t have any trouble distinguishing between a single volcanic event and several layers of rock.
The writers demonstrate an equal lack of concern about the fact that specific species can only be found in certain layers. In fact they assure us that although marker fossils are found in the layer they are used to identify, they may also be found in other layers. So don’t be surprised if you find a trilobite lodged in the throat of an Australopithecine. Actually the creationists never seem to notice that life forms are not spread evenly though all strata or that the layers higher up always contain the more advanced species. Were mammals more buoyant than amphibians?
I know creationists have no respect for those imprecise wishy-washy scientific theories. But shouldn’t the law of superposition receive more respect? I suppose, if someone pointed out that older strata underlie younger, they would merely say that Cambrian fossils sank on the first day and Pleistocene fossils settled to the bottom near the end. Maybe more advanced animals could climb up the mountains and hang on the longest. Whatever their motivation, I think what will always amaze me is that people will invest so much mental energy to invent a spurious explanation for what would be obvious if they stopped working so hard.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Just Don’t Get It

I read an article today that said more moderate Xians are moving to Obama’s camp. To clarify, they point out those who attend church once or twice months are more likely to vote Democrat than last presidential election. Voters who attend church every Sunday are still solidly behind McCain. Why can’t Evangelical voters look past their religion to actually consider everything in the President’s job?
The evangelical right voted unwaveringly for W. the last two elections and what did they get? They got lied to: about the war, about tax cuts, about the budget, about the environment, and about Medicare, just to name a few examples. But the lie that should have had the evangelicals screaming for impeachment was the promise to overturn Roe v. Wade. There was a pro-life president, a pro-life GOP majority in both houses of congress, and a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. They are unlikely to have the deck so stacked in their favor ever again, but the Republicans didn’t even try. And the Evangelicals didn’t even notice.
I think I know why the GOP hasn’t tried to overturn Roe v. Wade. As long as they campaign on a pro-life platform, the Xian right will vote for them. If the amendment actually got overturned, Xians would look for a different cause to fight for. That could steer them toward the Dems or worse yet, they may look at the rest of the GOP platform and realize they’re getting screwed every 4 years. So why don’t these voters wake up to the fact that it’s never going to happen and start thinking about something other than zygote souls? Maybe it’s because, as things are now, it’s a win-win; the GOP gets guaranteed votes and the Xian right never have to think before voting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Palin, the Good Christian

Gov. Sarah Palin is out on the campaign trail telling the crowd that Obama pals around with terrorists and doesn’t see America the way she and her audience do. It’s true that many years ago Barack Obama was on some community boards with William Ayres, who had been a member of the Weather Underground when Obama was eight years old, and that Ayres hosted a fund raiser for Obama early in the senator’s career, but that doesn’t make them pals and it doesn’t mean that he even knows more than one (ex) terrorist. So, since Barack Obama has denounced the actions of the Weather Underground and has not associated with Ayres at all for many years, could Palin’s assertion be described as a truthful statement?
She also says Barack Obama is different than them. Of course he’s different. He’s a Democrat and she’s speaking to Republicans. She goes on to explain that he thinks America is imperfect. Well it’s true that he thinks the current administration is less than perfect, but if no one in Palin’s audience can see any room for improvement in the Bush administration, she must be talking to cardboard cutouts. Wait a minute, haven’t she and McCain beeen saying that they are mavericks who will change everything in Washington? So, could there be some other way that Obama is different? Hey, isn’t he a different color than they are? Surely she wouldn’t be implying anything like that.
Sarah Palin is another of those politicians we see every election cycle who dress up in the trappings of Christianity and tell lies, breed intolerance and stimulate visceral hatred for anyone whose views differ from theirs. The target audience of these hate-mongers is the group of people who describe themselves as loving, giving, tolerant, and, above all, the most moral people in America; the evangelical christians. And yet these good xians (actually I think they consider themselves the best xians) never seem to notice that what’s being said is at odds with a couple of those gosh darn 10 commandments they want to post in all public buildings. Apparently as long as politicians say they believe the world is 7 thousand years old and that zygotes are more important than post-partum people then none of the other rules count.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Alaska Christian Heritage Week

When I heard that Gov. Palin signed a bill for an Alaska Christian Heritage Week, I had to take a look. Six quotes from our founding fathers were cited to demonstrate their Christian heritage. The quotes were from Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Patrick Henry and George Mason. The first four were not Christians. Sarah would have liked Patrick Henry; he wanted to make Anglican the official religion of Virginia. Lastly, I don’t know what George Mason’s religious beliefs were, but I know that the quote comes from the part of the VA constitution that guarantees freedom of religion.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Freshwater Update

The start of John Freshwater's hearing, originally scheduled for yesterday was postponed until today. Only opening arguments will be heard today. I went by the building where the hearing is being held and it was pretty quiet. The hearing room only seats 35 people, so I couldn't go in, but Columbus' channel 4 ( and channel 28 ( were there, so they should have the latest updates.
The results of todays hearing was that the school board said Freshwater was basicly running his own little Christian school inside the public school, that he injured children and that he refused to remove his bible from his desk. Freshwater's defence is that he denies doing anything that he's been accused of and, besides, when he did them he had the approval of the board. It will probadly be a month before a final decision is reached.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Opinion of John McCain Drops Lower

While watching the first McCain-Obama debate, I heard McCain site a pork barrel spending rating for Obama from “Citizens Against Government Waste” ( I jotted the name down, because, as I think I mentioned before, I like sites that record how the candidates voted on bills. So, I looked up their website.
Let me digress for a bit. I used to be a big fan of John McCain. He was smart, funny, a hero, and when he thought an issue was important, he didn’t cave in to partisan pressure or lobbyists. He was a politician with integrity. But something happened a couple of years ago that was strange. It’s like a bad Halloween special where mad Doctor Frankencheney performs evil experiments on the unsuspecting John McCain, destroying most of his brain cells and turning him into (dunt, dunt, duh!) George W. Bush! Aaaaggghhh! I can’t watch!
McCain has reversed his stand on Roe v. Wade, Bush’s tax cuts, the NRA, Waterboarding, Domestic Surveillance and so on. Some websites list 61 flip-flops and counting. I think he may even have flopped on less filling or tastes great. All these reversals seem to be intended to align him politically with the conservative voting blocks. I heard on the radio today that voters are thinking he might be insincere. Go figure.
OK, I’m done digressing now. McCain quoted a rating from “Citizens Against Government Waste” and I went to their website. What they do is look at the bills in congress and label the results as either “The Taxpayers Won” (less waste) or “The Taxpayers Lost” (more waste) then they tally up the senators’ and representatives’ “The Taxpayers Won” votes; zero percent to 100 percent. Then I looked at the 2007 results and the average for both houses was; Republicans 63.5% and Democrats 5%. Then I looked at the bills. I couldn’t see what the criteria were for their “Won” or “Lost” rating, but it seemed like all the “Won” bills favored the GOP and all the “Lost” bills favored the Dems. Surely this non-profit, tax-free organization couldn’t be less than completely unbiased.
I googled the CAGW and found that the organization was started by a corporate CEO with a lot of safety and environmental violations and an ultra-conservative journalist. They are almost totally funded by corporate donations from people like Exxon, RJR Nabisco and Philip Morris. They have their own lobbying arm that had connections with Jack Abramoff and mostly opposes efforts by the govt. to punish corporations for federal crimes. Oh, and almost all of their campaign donations since 2004 have gone to John McCain. The organization is also under investigation for improper political active by a non-profit. If you think McCain is just a lucky recipient of their donations, listen. His cell-mate in the POW camp, long time friend, and veterans’ liaison for the McCain campaign, Orson Swindle, is on CAGW’s board of directors.
So that means John McCain is a corrupt, insincere, flip-flopping corporate shill and maybe our next president.

Freshwater Hearing Wednesday

John Freshwater, the evangelical creationist teacher from Mount Vernon Middle School will have his hearing Wed. Here's a link to the article in the Mount Vernon newspaper:

Monday, September 29, 2008

They Mean God as a Metaphor, Jerkface!

I just signed up for the Google ad deal on my blog, where Google puts “appropriate” ads on your site. That’s fine. Being a blog about atheism, they put on an ad for “The Atheist’s Riddle.” I always thought the atheist’s riddle was the one that goes something like, “What is black and white and black and white and black and white?” “A nun falling down stairs.” So I thought I’d check out his web site and see if he was thinking of the same joke
It turns out that his joke was completely different. It was really long and convoluted, and while it had some very funny parts, it didn’t hold a candle to a nun falling down stairs.
It was a web site by a guy named Perry Marshall who wants to sell a four part lecture series about how scientists have irrefutably proven the existence of God. Really. When the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite) project found evidence of the beginning of the Universe, astrophysicist George Smoot reportedly said, “What we have found is evidence of the birth of the Universe. It's like looking at God.”
Perry Marshall asserts that the statement means that Nobel Laureate George Smoot looked at the evidence of the Big Bang and saw God looking back. Now wait, before you question the veracity of Mr. Marshall, he then tells of a conversation with Geoffrey Burbridge, a member of George Smoot’s team, who when asked about the discovery, complained that all of his peers were rushing off to join the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang. So, there you have it, straight from the astrophysicists’ mouths. The COBE team saw God and then immediately ran off and joined a church.
Marshall reached the one and only logical conclusion: Big Bang =Jesus Christ. (I know, Smoot said he saw God, not Jesus, but it was from really far away, so it might have been Jesus, considering the family resemblance and all.)
If you’re not convinced yet, you cynic, Marshall also said Einstein predicted this very thing when he came up with his singularity equation! That’s when Ol’ Albert became convinced that God exists and that he created the Universe. That sure straightened me out on a couple of facts. I’d always heard that Einstein did not believe in the existence of God and, furthermore, God didn’t play dice either (although the dice thing seemed like an awfully obvious conclusion from such a brainy guy).
With all this enlightening information, I almost forgot to tell you the riddle: How did the Universe begin? The scientists don’t know. I told you the nun joke was better.
But wait! Perry Marshall knows the answer to the riddle. Since scientists can’t solve the riddle, the only possible conclusion you can reach is that God did it! And that proves that god exists! So there! Now, excuse me. I’m going to be sick.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Party of Change

The Republicans are calling themselves "the party of change" this election cycle so I thought it might be interesting to look up the definitions of liberal and conservative. Here is how they are defined in

liberal (lĭb'ər-əl, lĭb'rəl)

Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.

Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
Not strict or literal; loose or approximate: a liberal translation.
Of, relating to, or based on the traditional arts and sciences of a college or university curriculum: a liberal education.

Archaic. Permissible or appropriate for a person of free birth; befitting a lady or gentleman.
Obsolete. Morally unrestrained; licentious.
A person with liberal ideas or opinions.
Liberal A member of a Liberal political party.
[Middle English, generous, from Old French, from Latin līberālis, from līber, free.]

liberally lib'er·al·ly adv.
liberalness lib'er·al·ness n.
SYNONYMS liberal, bounteous, bountiful, freehanded, generous, handsome, munificent, openhanded. These adjectives mean willing or marked by a willingness to give unstintingly: a liberal backer of the arts; a bounteous feast; bountiful compliments; a freehanded host; a generous donation; a handsome offer; a munificent gift; fond and openhanded grandparents. See also synonyms at broad-minded.
ANTONYM stingy

conservative (kən-sûr'və-tĭv)

Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
Traditional or restrained in style: a conservative dark suit.
Moderate; cautious: a conservative estimate.

Of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism.
Belonging to a conservative party, group, or movement.
Conservative Of or belonging to the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada.
Conservative Of or adhering to Conservative Judaism.
Tending to conserve; preservative: the conservative use of natural resources.
One favoring traditional views and values.
A supporter of political conservatism.
Conservative A member or supporter of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom or the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada.
Archaic. A preservative agent or principle.
conservatively con·ser'va·tive·ly adv.
conservativeness con·ser'va·tive·ness n.

Any questions?

There’s an Election Acomin’

It is time again for what I call my quadrennial ulcer, when I’m reminded that the whole one-person-one-vote-thing might not have been such a great idea. Living on the buckle of the bible belt I hear most of my neighbors express their reasons for their presidential choice, which run the gamut from “He’s pro-life” to “I’d like to drink a beer with him and he’s pro-life.” Basically, most of these folks have been evangelical Christian Republicans their whole lives, so their presidential choice was decided by their grandfathers and all they have to do is rationalize why they made the same choice as every other election.
I’m just the opposite. I go to Google News so I can read articles from both liberal and conservative sources. I check and regularly as well as sites where I can check voting records and who’s donating to whom. However, I could probably just vote for whoever runs against my neighbors’ choice.
The trouble is the Republicans keep lying. Not that the Dems haven’t done a little truth stretching themselves, but they’re still rank amateurs compared to the Elephant-men. The GOP’s biggest, brashest, most painted-on-the-barn-in-neon-paint lie is that the GOP is the party of change. The people who lied to get us into a war, turned the country’s biggest surplus into its biggest deficit, who helped Exxon make record profits, OK’ed the torture of every Muslim in the world, ran roughshod over the Constitution they were sworn to protect, increased the income gap between the rich and poor, and deregulated the loan industry so as to cause huge numbers of home foreclosures and the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression (just to name a few examples) are now the “Party of Change.” Do they think they’ve screwed up the country so much that anything they do now is bound to be an improvement?
John McCain repeatedly reminds everybody that he’s been called a maverick, but he doesn’t mention that they haven’t called him that recently. In the last couple of years he has reversed himself on just about every stand he has ever taken and kissed up to every conservative group he can find. At least it’s true in one sense that he’s the candidate of change. Unfortunately he’s changed from a maverick to a George W. Bush clone. Who would ever vote for this guy? My neighbors would.
Don’t get me wrong, the people that live around me are the nicest, most generous and big hearted people I’ve ever known, and I would do almost anything for them, as they would for me. They are just kinda naïve and unsophisticated. They’ve never met a gay couple or a Buddhist or experienced the other cultures and beliefs that don’t show up in the heart of Ohio. They also believe that the pastors of their Fundie churches are direct conduits to god and should always be believed.
The pastors take advantage of their privileged status to dictate politics from the pulpit under the implied threat of eternal damnation, and this weekend they are intentionally testing the IRS’s rules that would take away their tax-exempt status for being political. In addition, I saw this morning that a group of clerics has joined forces to come out against a couple of issues on the state ballot (you can read about it here: I don’t always disagree with the clergy on these issues, in fact, I definitely will vote with the clergy on these issues because the people who benefit most from voting the other way are pond scum. But that’s not the point. The pastor’s job is to tend to the moral guidance of his or her own flock and then it’s up to the individuals to determine what candidates and issues best fit their morals.
In the last two election cycles I was told of ministers who actually told parishioners from the pulpit that they either vote for W or face eternity on the devil’s rotisserie, and we all know how well that turned out. A large Baptist church in the area even invited Bill O’Riley and a couple of other famous right wing pundits to speak at their church one Sunday. The fact that they weren’t all struck dead on the spot is further proof there is no god. It prompted me to say that pro-lifers would vote for Satan if he said he was anti-abortion. Maybe they already did.
Anyway, all the above is really just to say that it’s each voter’s responsibility to get all of the facts before voting for one of the most powerful leaders in the world. It’s not as if we lived 150 years ago when all of our information would have come from a few very biased newspapers; now we have a bazillion websites, radios, and TVs (which, in spite of assertions to the contrary, can be switched from Faux News to real fairer and balanceder news sources).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Freshwater Fiasco

I live about 15 miles south of the town of Mount Vernon, OH and followed with interest the battle between Jr. High science teacher John Freshwater and the school board that ordered him to remove the 10 commandments and his bible from view in his classroom. Freshwater agreed to remove the 10 commandments from the wall, but refused to remove his bible from his desk, saying it infringed on his rights.
I started hearing about this in mid- April of ’08 and his termination hearing is set for Oct. 1st. A large number of Christians in the area have rallied around Freshwater, insisting that his rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion have been violated, and a lot of the students have held a “bring a bible to school day” to show their support. Meanwhile the school board issued a statement saying that they were not opposed to religion but were required to do this because "under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect against the establishment of religion in the schools. As a public school system the district cannot teach, promote or favor any religion or religious beliefs.”
Freshwater has filed a countersuit against the school district claiming emotional distress, lost time from work, and anxiety. He wants to have the case heard before a jury.
Most of this information has made the national news thanks to Fox News. What has not been widely reported is that the order to remove the bible came as a result of many complaints to the school board from parents of his students, because he was teaching creationism in class, making repeated religious references, and using an electric device to burn a cross into the arm of at least one student. The student reportedly has the scar to prove it.
The large fundamentalist Christian population in the area has come out in support of Freshwater because they believe that force-feeding Christian dogma to public school students is exactly what he should be doing. The kids that brought their bibles to school used the opportunity to mark non-bible–carriers as the enemy, and therefore legitimate targets for bullying and harassment. And lest you think that this really was about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, a Jewish boy who brought his Torah to school to show solidarity was also made a target of their righteous Christian hatred.
Supporters of the teacher staged rallies on the public square in Mount Vernon and came in large numbers to school meetings boisterously insisting that the separation of church and state was a myth and insisting that they were the victims of religious persecution. They also erected a large sign along the main route into town that read, “If the bible goes the school board should follow.”
As the summer wore on fewer and fewer people attended the rallies and a few of the people who agreed with the school board’s decision could be heard above the din, but the fundies still just didn’t get it. The message is that the separation of church and state isn’t a myth and every court case that used the myth defense has lost, and sometimes that loss cost big bucks. Just ask the Dover, PA board about the 2 million dollar hole in their budget. Furthermore we have the documents from the founding fathers that state that the U.S. is a secular nation that favors no particular religion. Heck, Jefferson coined the phrase “separation of church and state” while clarifying the intent of the first amendment to assure Connecticut Baptists that the Congregationalist majority couldn’t legislate them out of existence.
Another argument against Freshwater that I never heard is that he was hired to teach science to middleschoolers and if he was doing something other than that during class time, then he wasn’t doing the job he was hired to do. Who among us can get away with doing whatever we want during work hours without it having some negative ramifications. The only reason he got away with it for so long is that Christianity has special status in this area. If Freshwater had spent class time teaching French lessons instead of science, he’d have been gone long ago, but you don’t want to piss off the Big Guy upstairs or his huge fundamentalist following that could vote you out of office.
The biggest losers in this mess are the kids. Almost everything I have read has addressed whether or not John Freshwater is a victim and most writers seem to have forgotten that this whole donnybrook played out in a middle school full of about 1000 students. Shouldn’t the highest priorities of a school and its supporters be education, welfare of all the students and a safe, healthy learning environment? Why have these matters been largely overlooked in the discussion?
Freshwater had been allowed to teach at that school for 20 years in spite of similar complaints throughout his career. Granted, Mount Vernon’s large, vocal, right-wing evangelical population must be very intimidating, but 20 years is a very long time to sweep problems under the rug and hope they will go away. Is it any wonder that US science education ranks around 24th in the world, behind even war-torn, third-worldish Sri Lanka? Students receive science lessons watered down to avoid offence or where a teacher’s personal agenda takes precedence over facts. They take this diluted information home where they are assured by parents and clergy that their science education is largely invalid and the facts are not to be trusted. When they leave school they are only prepared for becoming Amish.
If these youngsters are not learning anything in school they should at least be in a safe environment. Junior High students almost universally reflect the religion of their parents and they don’t really get a choice in the matter. The adults in the school should be aware of that and protect these students but most teachers in Mount Vernon have been raised to believe that their religion is right and good and all others are wrong and bad. I’m sure if Freshwater had been espousing a non-Christian religion, he’d have been thrown out so fast his shadow couldn’t keep up. Heck, if he’d been promoting Islam he’d be in Guantanamo by now.
I saved the most important point for last. John Freshwater intentionaly injured a student! He asked for volunteers for an electrical demonstration and then used a device like an improvised branding iron to burn a cross shape into the arm of one of his students! I can’t understand why the community didn’t rise up with pitchforks and torches and come after him like peasants storming Frankenstein’s castle. This man shouldn’t be awaiting a decision from the school board, he should be in prison for child abuse and assalt and battery. Oh, but wait. This doesn’t count as a bad thing because he was doing God’s work. If the child was a godless infidel, it probably would have been OK to drive a stake through the evil kid’s heart, as long as he didn’t get any blood on the bible on his desk.