Friday, 20 July 2018

Fraud of Turin Exposed as Fake - Yet Again

A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin | Journal of Forensic Sciences - Wiley Online Library

If it wasn't for the Catholic authorities, with the Pope's cooperation and approval, refusing to accept that what they have on display in Turin Cathedral is not the authentic shroud that Jesus was allegedly wrapped in but a Medieval artefact, possibly a deliberate forgery as this recent paper suggests or a prop used in Early Medieval Passion plays as British historian Charles Freeman convincingly argued, it would have been put into a museum drawer labelled Medieval European Religious Artefacts years ago.

And all this despite Catholic Bishop Pierre d’Arcis writing to Pope Pope Clement VII in 1390 to tell him that the 'shroud' was a forgery.

[The Shroud is] a clever sleight of hand [by someone] falsely declaring this was the actual shroud in which Jesus was enfolded in the tomb to attract the multitude so that money might cunningly be wrung from them.

Bishop Pierre d’Arcis,
Letter to Pope Clement VII, 1390
But here we are again with yet another scientific investigation and yet another conclusion that the Shroud of Turin is a forgery.

In fact, this discovery is not itself particularly new, being presented at the 66th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 17‐22, 2014, in Seattle, WA, USA and again at the 67th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, February 16‐21, 2015, in Orlando, FL, USA. However, it appeared in print for the first time here. Regretably, all but the abstract is behind a paywall:

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Yet Another of Those 'Non-existent' Transitional Fossils!

A. afarensis juvenile foot DIK-1-1f.
DIK-1-1f shown in (clockwise from top left) medial, dorsal, and lateral views. To right, dorsal view of DIK-1-1f and the adult A. afarensis foot A.L. 333-115. Scale bars, 1 cm.
A nearly complete foot from Dikika, Ethiopia and its implications for the ontogeny and function of Australopithecus afarensis | Science Advances

Imagine, you're a creationist and you've spent hundreds of hours on the social media yelling at scientists and people who accept what science demonstrates over an over again as true beyond a shadow of doubt, telling them that there are no transitional fossils and that Charles Darwin said this would destroy his theory, and you keep being shown yet another example of a transitional fossil!

Maybe you've even spent hours indoctrinating your unfortunate home-schooled children that 'evolution' had been proved false because of this absence!

What do you do?

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Creationists! Test Your Personality With This Simple Test!

Find out what makes you a creationist with this simple personality analysis.

Just note down the letter of the answer that comes closest to your reaction to everyday online experiences. No scientific knowledge is needed and you don't even need to know your holy book. Just be as honest as you can.

What could be simpler?
  1. When you see the word 'evolution' in an online debate do you:
    1. Start typing stuff about the Big Bang, Atheism, life from nothing and evolution being a religion?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

More Malevolence From the Malevolent Designer

Once it enters the cell, the parasite rotates to close the door it has opened. This movement also seals it into a vacuole, a sac where it stays and develops.
© Isabelle Tardieux
A new twist on how parasites invade host cells - CNRS Web site - CNRS

To get a proper perspective on the sort of creature creationists imagine they're worshipping, consider a man in your neighbourhood who obsessively invents and refines ways of making his neighbours sick and frequently killing them, indiscriminately at any age from babies to old people.

He doesn't just do this once but continually and isn't satisfied with just making them sick but tries to find ingenious ways to overcome any attempts his neighbours make to avoid getting sick or reducing the harm he's doing them. The methods he chooses to harm them are invisible to the naked eye; they get into them via their food, in the air they breathe, by being injected by blood-sucking parasites or in any number of ways that are hard to control or defend themselves against.

Australian Catholic Child-Abuse Archbishop Sentenced

Archbishop Philip Wilson
Archbishop Philip Wilson sentenced for concealing child sex abuse - BBC News

Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic cleric to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse by fellow priests, has been sentenced to 12 months detention.

The Archbishop of Adelaide, News South Wales, Australia, was convicted in May of covering up the child sex abuses of his friend and colleague, James Patrick Fletcher, and had been awaiting sentence by Adelaide magistrate, Robert Stone. In sentencing Wilson, Stone said he had shown no remorse.

Monday, 2 July 2018

More Pain for Creationists - The Evolution of Testes

Kidney (blue) and testicle (orange) position in elephants, seals and horses.

© Lehmann & Eberhardt/ Senckenberg
The evolution of testes | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Crisis? What Crisis?

Creationists frauds continually dupe their credulous marks with the absurd idea that 'evolution is a theory in crisis'. The reason is that this was a central dogma of the Discovery Institute's Wedge Strategy which aimed to spread enough dis and mis-information about science to cast serious doubt as to it's validity in the largely scientifically illiterate American electorate.

This was to be in preparation for the overthrow of the US Constitutional prohibition on an established religion and the establishment of a far-right Taliban-style Christian fundamentalist theocracy in the USA, complete with brutal Levitican laws.

It was of course nonsense; a lie intended to mislead for a political agenda. There is no such crisis in biological science and evolution continues to be the grand unifying theory underpinning much of biology, palaeontology and comparative anatomy and physiology, as this paper, published in PLoS Biology illustrates. It concerns the location of the mammalian testes and in particular why a group of African mammals have retained their testes inside their abdominal cavity instead of having them outside in a scrotum.

As the press release from Max-Planck-Gesellschaft explains:

Hypocrites For Jesus

Ocala Police Chief, Kenneth Gregory (Greg) Graham
Florida city challenges court ruling over police prayer vigil - The Freethinker

As though to illustrate the Christian sense of entitlement, the city council in Ocala, Florida, USA is defending it's beleaguered police chief after a US District Judge ruled last May that the prayer vigil he organised was in breach of the Establishment Clause.

In his judgement against Ocala Police Chief, Kenneth Gregory (Greg) Graham, Judge Timothy J Corrigan ruled:

The government cannot initiate, organize, sponsor or conduct a community prayer vigil. That is what happened here.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Internet Apologists' Handbooks

Three new booklets by yours truly!

A humorous and provocative look at Internet fundamentalist apologetics. Most Internet apologists seem to know little of what they are promoting and nothing at all about what they are opposing and none of them seem to be able to understand basic ideas of probity, intellectual honesty, personal integrity or the difference between wishful thinking, assertions and actual evidence. Often, there seems to be a hidden agenda with very little evidence of an actual belief in the god being promoted, judging by the scant regard for anything by way of personal behaviour that the promoted religion teaches.

Friday, 22 June 2018

The Intelligent Designer Is Coming for American Babies!

Culex tarsalis
Vector competence of Aedes aegypti, Culex tarsalis, and Culex quinquefasciatus from California for Zika virus

Followers of my blog will recall how I have often commented on the efforts the putative Intelligent (sic) Designer puts into making life difficult or unpleasant for people.

In particular, the efforts it made to produce handicapped children by designing a virus which prevents normal brain development so babies who's mothers become infected with the virus are born with a condition known as microcephally and so will be mentally handicapped and dependent on others for their care, so blighting the lives not only of the victim but also those of the victims parents, siblings and maybe the entire extended family.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Your Sons and Your Daughters are Beyond Your Command

The Age Gap in Religion Around the World | Pew Research Center

A major new Pew Research Center report on Religion and Public life has confirmed that in very many countries, young people are less religious that their parents, often by a wide margin. This confirms the finding of other surveys that show younger people in the USA are now far less likely to identify with any religion, believe in God or to take part in religious activities.

This gap is seen regardless of the social or economic context of the country, showing that even where religiosity is high due to poverty and in countries that are overall highly religious. This is also true regardless of the predominant religion. This is not to say that there is a gap in all countries - in 63 countries there is no statistically significant difference - however, where there is a difference it is almost always true that young people are the less religious group. In only two countries were younger people found to be more religious that their parents - Chad (Muslim) and Ghana (Christian).

Friday, 8 June 2018

Darwin Creationist Award 2018 - Call For Candidates

I've recently looked in on Twitter again after a few years absence and discovered that there is a rich seam of candidates for the Darwin Creationist Award still. It would be a shame to waste this resource so I have decided to relaunch the popular Darwin Creationist Award contest.

Briefly, the award goes to the creationist who, in the opinion of the voters, has done most in a single Tweet, Facebook comment, YouTube video, etc, to remove creationism from the human meme-pool. Candidates must display at least one of:

  • Deep ignorance of science especially evolution
  • Blatant dishonesty
  • Dunning-Kruger idiocy of an exception quality
  • Cringe-making smug arrogance
  • Clear evidence of what Francis Collins described as scientific and theological bankruptcy
  • Any combination of the above

Please provide a link to the candidate post in comments below. Add any comment you wish. Entries will be accepted throughout the summer and the winner will be by popular vote.

As always, the winner will receive the much-coveted picture of the Ray Comfort Golden Banana to print off and frame together with a copy of their winning post.

I have provided a couple of candidates as examples.

Christians Denying Human Rights in Northern Ireland

Pro-abortion demonstrators outside Belfast city hall.
Photo credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Northern Ireland abortion law clashes with human rights, judges say | Guardian.

Northern Ireland, that most devout part of the UK where Christianity in its two main flavours - Protestant and Catholic - more so than in any other part of the UK informs legislation, is denying basic human rights for its citizens because religious dogma requires it.

The UK Supreme court today ruled that the law which criminalised abortion in Northern Ireland in almost all circumstances, uniquely so in the UK, is a violation of human rights and is thus itself illegal, being in breach of the Human Rights Act (HRA) which takes precedence over all other laws in the UK.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Only One Way To Find Out!

What could possible motivate an individual to create multiple accounts with Amazon then use them to obsessively trawl through the book lists putting hostile and defamatory pseudo-reviews on them? Well, as we'll see in a minute, there is no real rational answer for people's irrational behaviour, other than in terms of what causes their irrational behaviour in the first place.

For example, this is what people who have actually read my book, What Makes You So Special: From the Big Bang to You, or who have read other of my books, have said about it:


I can't wait for this book to join my collection of Rosa Rubicondior books. All of the ones I have so far have been an easy to read, jaw opening enlightenment for me. I can't believe the research that this writer has done to back up their words in the books I have. I'm truly amazed and can't wait to get this at my door. Thank you Rosa Rubicondior for your knowledge and books!!

A great introduction to science and how it relates to everything. Rosa gives a whole new perspective on how everything is connected and related with an infectious enthusiasm. Not some New Age mystical cult woo but solid science. If you don't feel a bit more special, especially after the last chapter, and don't see nature and the world in a different light, then you need to reread it.

Human Brains Refute Creationism Without Effort

Human-Specific NOTCH2NL Genes Affect Notch Signaling and Cortical Neurogenesis | Cell.

Here's another of those regular occurrences where science casually and without effort or intent, refutes creationism with a few facts. It's the news that a team have identified a trio of genes that account for the increase in the human brain from a volume of about 0.5 litres in our earlier ancestors to the 1.4 litres we have today.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Weakening Religious Commitment in Europe

Key findings about religion in Western Europe | Pew Research Center

A new survey by the Pew Research Center highlights major differences between Europe and the USA not only in the level of religious affiliation but in what exactly religious affiliation means.

In the USA people who identify as non-practising Christian, i.e., people who self-identify as 'Christians' but who don't go to church regularly or, in some instanced, don't believe in God, are far more likely to believe in God with absolute certainty (27%) than Europeans (3%); they are ten times more likely to pray daily (20% and 2% respectively), to attend religious services at least monthly (9% and 1% respectively) and think religion is important in their lives (13% and 1% respectively).

In Europe 'Christian' is much more a cultural identified rather than a statement of religious belief, with 16% calling themselves Christian but not actually believing in any god and only 24% believing in the god of the Bible. The remaining 51% believe in a 'higher power' of some sort but not the Biblical god. In effect, 16% of European 'Christians' are actually Atheists and have no problem describing themselves as Christian Atheists, just as non-religious Jews will identify themselves as Jewish Atheists.

Hidden in that statistic is the fact that 67% of European 'Christians' don't believe in the Bible, or at least the god described in it, and implicitly reject the Bible as the divine word of the Christian god. Curiously, 2% of church-attending Christians don't believe in any god. Presumably they attend regularly with someone who does believe in the Biblical God.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Chile Catholic Abuse Scandal Deepens

Chilean Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić.
Credit: Diocese of Rancagua.
After scandal, head of Chilean Church’s anti-abuse panel resigns

Following the mass 'resignation' of all Chile's 34 bishops at a meeting in the Vatican, where they were handed a 10 page report by the Pope detailing their neglect and failure to protect children, the victims of clerical abuse that they had been complicit in covering up, there is now another high-level resignation.

Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić of Rancagua, head of the Chilean Church’s National Commission for the Prevention of Abuses has resigned his chairmanship because of 'difficulties that have occurred in the diocese he leads'. The 'difficulties' are that fourteen priests in Goic’s diocese have been suspended, accused of being part of an organised paedophile ring called 'La Familia', (the family) which practised sexual behaviour including, but not limited to, the abuse of minors.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Another Massive Rejection of the Catholic Church in Ireland

Greeting the result
Credit: AP
With the result now confirmed, the 'Yes' campaign has scored a stunning victory in their campaign to legalise abortion in the Republic of Ireland.

The result is 66.4 : 33.6 in favour of replacement of the 8th amendment - article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution - which forbids abortion in almost all circumstances, with one which reads “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.”

According to this report, the Irish government has already said it will bring legislation before the Dail which

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Chile Wind At The Vatican

Chile's 34 bishops offer resignation to Pope

Credit: AFP/Getty Images
All Chile's 34 bishops offer resignation to Pope over sex abuse scandals - BBC News

All 34 of Chile's Catholic bishops have tendered their resignation after crisis talks in the Vatican during which Pope Francis produced a 10-page document which accused the Chilean Catholic heirarchy of neglect in sex abuse cases.

According to the report, leaked to Chile's T13 television, Pope Francis said he was ashamed that people had been pressurised into not investigating allegations fully.

Covering Up Down Under - Catholic Archbishop Convicted

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson

Credit: Darren Pateman/AAP
Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson found guilty of covering up child sexual abuse | Newcastle Herald

And another Catholic cleric is convicted of facilitating child abuse by paedophile priests.

This time it is the most senior Catholic cleric world-wide to be convicted of covering up child abuse, Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson of Adelaide, Australia. He was convicted earlier today, Australia time, of failing to report allegations of child sexual abuse against paedophile priest Father Jim Fletcher, who died in jail in 2006.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Evolutionary Paradox - Predation Pushed Red Squirrel Numbers Up!

Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris).

The enemy of my enemy is my friend: native pine marten recovery reverses the decline of the red squirrel by suppressing grey squirrel populations | Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences

A while ago I wrote a book under my real name about my childhood in rural Oxfordshire and included a brief mention of the loss of the native red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, that had been so familiar to us in the 1940s and 50's but which had disappeared almost completely by 1960 to be replaced by the non-native grey squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis.

In it I speculated, based on observations in Ireland, that it might have been the loss of the predatory pine marten, Martes martes, that was actually a contributory cause because it had allowed the grey squirrel to proliferate.

It's rewarding to see that this link has now been given added credence by a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences.
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