Saturday, 28 February 2015

Vatican At War As Pell Lives it Up in Rome

Cardinal George Pell arrives for a morning session at the Vatican.
Photo: Alessandra Tarantino
Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's financial watchdog, slammed for lavish spending

In a leaked document, Cardinal Pell, the former Archbishop of Melbourne who was put into the Vatican by Pope Francis to sort out its finances and root out the endemic corruption, has been accused of living a lavish lifestyle and handing out money to a chum in the form of an inflated salary.

But the real story here is the leak itself and what it shows is going on behind the scenes, as the Pope accuses the Curia of of suffering from fifteen 'spiritual diseases' including 'spiritual Alzheimers' and 'theological schizophrenia and Pell himself reveals that heads of departments in the vast Vatican bureaucracy had been salting away tens of millions in secret bank accounts, made possible because of shoddy bookkeeping and an almost complete lack of financial accountability with no records of where the money came from nor what it's to be spent on. The discovery of these large secret bank accounts potentially transformed the Vatican's financial position from precarious to very healthy.

Pell was put in soon after Pope Francis replaced the odious Pope Benedict who had done nothing to put a stop to the corruption revealed by his 'butler' in the 'Vatileaks' affair.

How Science Works - European History

Bouldnor Cliff submerged pre-historic site
DNA recovered from underwater British site may rewrite history of farming in Europe | Science/AAAS | News

An interesting example of how science works appeared in Science a couple of days ago. It concerns DNA evidence that domestic wheat, normally associated with farming, was being used by hunter-gatherers living in what is now southern England 8000 years ago, 2000 years before agriculture is believed to have reached north-west Europe.

Rather annoyingly, the article quotes archaeobotanist Dorian Fuller, of University College London, who was not involved in the research, as saying "[The work confronts archaeologists] with the challenge of fitting this into our worldview". Now, I'm not entirely sure what a 'worldview' is exactly but I suspect it's some sort of post-modernist nonsensical construction implying that all sorts of views of the world are possible and even equally valid, but reading the article it's very clear that what might need to be adjusted is this 'worldview' itself because this particular 'worldview' is a conclusion based on evidence. There is no fitting of new facts into a pre-existing conclusion; just the opposite in fact. The conclusion is adjusted to allow for the new information, just as the title of the article itself implies.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Britons Now Find Atheists More Moral Than Theists

I must be slipping as my attention was only drawn to this survey today in my copy of BHA News.

An opinion poll carried out for Huffington Post by Survation last November confirmed the astonishing rejection of religion in favour of non-belief in the UK in recent years and a consequent shift in the perception of the relative morality of Atheists and religious people.

Despite the 2011 census in which 55.3% of people in England and Wales described themselves as Christian and only 25.1% described themselves as having no religion, this survey revealed this to be

Sunday, 22 February 2015

More of Those 'Missing' Transitional Forms

Mammalian and non-mammalian jaws. In the mammal configuration, the quadrate and articular bones are much smaller and form part of the middle ear. Note that in mammals the lower jaw consists of only the dentary bone.
Evolutionary development in basal mammaliaforms as revealed by a docodontan

An arboreal docodont from the Jurassic and mammaliaform ecological diversification

Two papers published in last week's Science by the same team of researchers, describe two more of those 'non-existent' transitional fossils on which so much creationism depends.

They both deal with fossils of two members of an early and now extinct order of vertebrates which seems to sit somewhere between pre-mammalian reptiles and true mammals in that they have a transitional jaw joint closer to the 'squamous' joint typical of reptiles, where the mandible articulates with the squamous bone, and the mammalian jaw joint in which some bones have become reduced and now form the ossicles of the mammalian inner ear, allowing a new jaw joint to form between the quadrate bone and the mandible.

In all other respects these early proto-mammals have a mammalian skeleton and dentition. Because of this difference in jaw joint, the order is not universally accepted as a true mammal but are normally referred to an 'mammaliaforms', i.e., mammal-like - exactly the sort of taxonomic problem we would expect of something which is part-way between two others.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Collapsing Catholic Church in USA

St. Agnes Catholic Church, Chicago.
It seems it's not just in Europe where Christianity is declining at an accelerating rate, Catholicism no less so than the other Christian denominations.

Catholicism is also rapidly approaching the point of no return in the USA, as its congregations dwindle, churches close, parishes have to be amalgamated to reduce costs as donations dwindle accordingly, and recruitment to the priesthood of people of the right personal qualities, who are not going to embarrass the church later, becomes increasingly difficult.

Everywhere from Boston to Minneapolis, Catholic churches have closed or been consolidated into regional clusters. The chief reason is declining Mass attendance.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Pope Francis No Longer Mr. Nice Guy

Pope Francis compares trans people to nuclear weapons - Gay Star News

In a new book published in January, Pope Francis appears to have abandoned his attempt to make the Catholic Church look a little more civilised, even slightly humanitarian, by not being quite so hateful towards gays and transgender people.

He has now reverted to the tradition name-calling and threats, playing on people's ignorant superstitions, phobias and anthropocentric arrogance to enforce the Church's historical dogmas and policies of hate, demonisation, dehumanisation and division.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Even Crows Can Put Two And Two Together

Crows Spontaneously Exhibit Analogical Reasoning

One of the major difficulties creationists seem to suffer from, at least in the way they deny evidence and logical argument, is a seeming inability to do basic joined up thinking. I appreciate that many creationist merely feign this inability in the same way they feign ignorance and even difficulty with basic comprehension when presented with unarguable facts.

For example, lead a creationist carefully through the three steps needed for evolution to be inevitable and you can get them to agree every single stage -

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Idiot Designer. Beautiful Evolution

Luna moth, Actias luna (female)
Source: Wikipedia - Actias luna.
Uploaded by Kugamazog
Luna Moths’ Gorgeous Wings Throw Off Bat Attacks | Science | Smithsonian

Here's a beautiful moth that teaches us a great deal about evolution, how it works and how it can end up producing things that look decidedly maladaptive, even sometimes a little ridiculous and unnecessarily ostentatious. But perhaps the most important lesson here is how it has nothing to do with us and our perception of what looks intuitively to us to be maladaptive and unnecessary. In fact, in this case, what it has to do with is bat perception.

I'm referring to those long streamers on the ends of the hind wings which twirl around more or less randomly as the moth flies. They surely make flight more difficult, don't they?

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

How Muslim Clerics Lie To Us - Dr Ahmed Al-Muzain


Hamas TV Scientist Dr. Ahmad Al-Muzain: Bayer Invented Its Cure for AIDS on the Basis of a Hadith by Prophet Muhammad about the Wings of Flies

I don't know about you but if I really believed something was true and wanted to convince you, I would present the evidence for it and tell you where you could check the facts for yourself, confident that the facts supported my belief, and if they didn't, then I'd be wrong, not the facts.

If you check any blog I have published you'll see I almost invariably provide links to supporting evidence, especially on scientific matters. This is because, as a rationalist, my beliefs are based on evidence and so I believe this evidence will also convince you. I don't ask you to just take my word for it but I have confidence that the evidence can speak for itself. I have no interest in

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Even Other Apes Laugh At Creationists

Watch this video. It illustrates the work of Marina Davila Ross of the Psychology Department, Portsmouth University, UK, and her colleagues.

Be honest now, what was your reaction when you saw the bonobo laughing? I'll bet a fiver to Oxfam that you smiled at least, or even laughed.

What you were doing was responding just the way you would if you saw a human laugh. You did this because we share laughter with all the living Great Apes, even our most distant relative, the Orangutan, and the

Was Jesus a Fundamentalist Extremist?

Expulsion of the Moneychangers from the Temple,
Luca Giordano (1632–1705)
Reading all three so-called 'Synoptic Gospels', Matthew, Mark and Luke, they all agree that Jesus' arrest, trial and crucifixion followed closely after the 'cleansing of the temple' when Jesus allegedly drove the moneychangers out of the temple. Was this in fact the violent terrorist act of an extremist leading a bunch of dissidents in an attack on the Jewish authorities who ran Judea under Roman suzerainty and who were de facto the local government of the day?

There is no hard evidence that Jesus ever existed at all, and certainly no contemporaneous eye-witness accounts of anything associated with his life and death exist and even the two historians living and writing at the time (Philo-Judeus and Justus of Tiberius) are entirely silent on the matter, so it's hard to make a case for the stories of Jesus being based on

Saturday, 14 February 2015

How Religions Evolved By Mistake

The evolution of superstitious and superstition-like behaviour

Ever wondered what the biological basis for irrational superstition and religions is?

It turns out to have a perfectly rational explanation in terms of biological evolution in a sentient species. Darwinian evolution can even explain why people are religious in the absence of any evidence for a god or any rational reason to suppose that gods ever do anything.

Human beings are superb at pattern recognition and see patterns in the natural world, often where there aren't any - Jesus on toast, a face in a cloud, etc. The only reason Muhammad never appears on toast is because no one knows what he

Friday, 13 February 2015

Confused Pope Abuses Childless Couples

Pope Francis. Confused.
Pope Francis: 'The choice not to have children is selfish' - People - News - The Independent

In another astonishingly insensitive outburst, just a few weeks after telling Catholics who had been obeying official Catholic teaching prohibiting contraception and effective family planning that they are wrong for "breeding like rabbits", he has now told childless couples that they are selfish for choosing not to have children.

There is no recognition of the fact that some couples

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Darwin's Finches - Another Triumph For Science

Evolution of Darwin/'s finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

On Darwin Day, it's good to see yet more scientific evidence showing just how robust and unassailable Darwinian evolution is as a scientific theory. This is confirmed paradoxically by a paper which showed he was ever so slightly wrong about the Galapagos Finches. He thought there were only 14 different species, now genetics has shown there are 17.

However, it confirms what Darwin said - they all radiated from a single founder population and the cause of diversity was natural selection. We now have the genetic evidence.

God Needs Darwin To Help Him Create Evil?

Few people can be unaware of the hysteria Stephen Fry caused recently in Christian circles, and not just with the fundamentalist with obvious mental issues. Even supposed 'moderate' Christians waded in to tell us childhood cancer was all our fault and their creator god can't be held responsible for the evil it creates. How it's all to show us how much it loves us and just to remind us all just how disgusting and unworthy we are of its love and lucky that it loves us so much in spite of our loathsome unworthiness.

Of course their hysterical over-reaction to Fry's simple little point is understandable, given their sensitivity to the point made by Epicurus in about 300 BCE:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Looking At Elms

The Cornfield.
John Constable 1826 showing typical English elms in the landscape
We went to church today.

No, not that church, silly; to the real one where something worthy of praise and adoration lives. We went to the countryside; to the fields, hedgerows and woods where nature lives aloof and indifferent to us; offering no rewards for praise or threats for ignoring it, but deserving love and wonder and protection none-the-less.

We went for a walk in the English countryside on a glorious bright sunny February day with an azure blue Mediterranean sky and birds already staking out their territories and attracting mates with songs and displays. And we saw how natures budges over, accommodates change and carries on. We saw English elm trees in their new guise and role as hedge plants and small thickets for windbreaks and wildlife.

Forgive me if I get a little sentimental here - elm trees were big in my life as a child.

Anyone born after about 1970 in Britain will not remember the giant elm trees that seemed to line every

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Maths For Christian Students

Inspired by the introduction to the two-volume Biology for Christian Students, I thought I would produce a little maths primer for Christian students based on the same principle. Creationist homeschoolers will find it especially useful.

The introduction to the Christian biology book, written by creationist Stephen S. Pinkston and publish by Bob Jones University states, on page 1:

  1. 'Whatever the Bible says is so; whatever man says may or may not be so,' is the only [position] a Christian can take..."
  2. If [scientific] conclusions contradict the Word of God, the conclusions are wrong, no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back them.
  3. Christians must disregard [scientific hypotheses or theories] that contradict the Bible.

Friday, 6 February 2015

This Could Be Good News For Creationists!

Credit: The University of New Brunswick
Seafloor grooves record the beat of the ice ages

Scientists have discovered an amazingly accurate natural clock, more accurate even than the magnetic reversal clock found in mid-ocean ridges which makes an indelible record of every magnetic reversal Earth has gone through since the continents split and the oceans opened up. This new discovery should be great news for creationists because, if their beliefs are correct, this natural clock should prove once and for all that Earth was created just a few thousand years ago.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Twitter CEO Costolo "Ashamed" of Abuse

Dick Costolo, CEO Twitter.
In a leaked memo, revealed in The Verge, Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter (@dickc) has admitted he is ashamed of the way Twitter deals with abusive trolls and fails to protect it customers.

But he needs to do more than just control the trolls if he wishes Twitter to remain a platform for free speech and for exchanging ideas, no matter how they might upset vested interests, people who simply don't like people disagreeing with them and think it shouldn't be allowed, or people exposed for lies, deceptions and scamming gullible and vulnerable people who currently infest the Internet.

I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing...

It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.

Dick Costolo

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Unintelligently Designed Mitochondrial Disease

MPs vote in favour of 'three-person embryo' law | Science | The Guardian:

With todays new's that the UK House of Commons has passed a bill by a majority of more than 3:1 to allow a form of in vitro fertilization to include mitochondrial replacement in cases where the woman is a carrier of mitochondrial disease, I thought it might be worthwhile looking at the cell organelles called mitochondria and how they and the diseases they can cause fit into biological evolution, and how poorly they fit into intelligent design, especially intelligent design by a benevolent and omniscient designer.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Silly Bible - Even Language Refutes Creationism

European and Asian languages traced back to single mother tongue | Science | The Guardian

I've written a couple of time about how the Bible story of the Tower of Babel is, probably next to Noah's Ark, the least plausible story in the Bible. The problem was probably that even the Bible's authors didn't really understand or believe it but felt compelled to include it because it had gained the status of a sacred and holy text.

Later apologists such as Flavius Josephus even claimed that Yahweh dictated it to Moses, though that claim is never made in the Bible and a moments thought should tell you that the scribe doesn't normally write about his own death and burial in a secret place. Josephus was obviously reporting widely-believed myths rather than what he had actual evidence for.

Anyway, just to recap: according to this myth, Yahweh got spooked when it looked like his creation were going to get up to Heaven (which was directly over the Middle East and just above the sky, apparently). He hadn't seen that one coming and even had to go down to Earth to take a look. He then made everyone speak different languages so they couldn't work together any more, and that's how all the world's languages arose.

Don't laugh! These were simple people with no science to speak of and they lived in a world which they thought ran on magic.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Take Comfort in Moral Bankruptcy

If you want an example of the moral bankruptcy and the abdication of moral responsibility of fundamentalist Christianity you'd be hard pressed to find a better one than millionaire Ray Comfort's bloodcurdlingly inhumane celebration of the malevolent and vindictive personality of the god he worships, in his astonishingly brutal response to Stephen Fry.

Stephen Fry, TV personality, actor, author and Atheist Humanist, and one of the most respected and trusted people in Britain, was replying to a question from RTE chat-show host, Gay Byrne on Irish television. Byrne had asked, should Fry ever find himself standing in front of the Christian God, what he would say to him.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Genghis Khan And Gene-Meme Co-Evolution

Genghis Khan. Unknown artist.
Genghis Khan's genetic legacy has competition : Nature News & Comment.

A technical paper published a few days ago in the European Journal of Human Genetics shows how, at least in humans, genes can increase in frequency in a population not necessarily because they represent an adaptive advantage in their own right but because they are bound to other replicators, such as cultural memes, which give them an advantage. This linkage may be entirely due to chance.

For example, a culture which is hierarchical and expansionist, and especially where sons inherit the power, authority and privilege of their fathers, may facilitate the spread of genes carried by powerful men, especially where power gives access to females and comes with a higher standard of living so children are more likely to survive. The actual genes benefitting from this may be completely unremarkable.

This paper found that it was possible to identify a number of clusters of particular haplotype of the Y-chromosome (only carried by males and so indicating the male inheritance line). By counting the number of mutations in a given region of the Y-chromosome and

Rites and Reason in Tribal Religion

E. O. Wilson: Religious faith is dragging us down - opinion - 27 January 2015 - New Scientist.

Rite reasons: Why your brain loves pointless rituals - life - 19 January 2015 - New Scientist.

A couple of articles in New Scientist this week help explain the attraction of organised religion and why so many people are seduced by them despite the absence of any evidence that any religion is based on anything more than myth and superstition, so no objective basis for choosing one over another or indeed for following any of them.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Earth-Sized Planets May Be Commonplace.

Ancient planets are almost as old as the universe - space - 27 January 2015 - New Scientist

It's been another dreadful day for creationism.

Not only have we had news of another of those 'non-existent' fossils showing intermediate characteristics not just between species but between orders, with four fossil early snakes with lizard-like features and possibly even legs in one case, but now we learn that Earth-sized planets may well be common in the Universe and at least the Milky Way galaxy in which we live has been making them for 11.2 of the 13.8 billion years that the Universe has been around.

Oh Creation! Now It's Transitional Snake Fossils!

Source: Nature Communications
Fossils of oldest known snakes unearthed | Science/AAAS | News: "DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6402"

Thanks to Science Magazine's excellent content sharing initiative, I'm able to embarrass creationists with another piece of science for them to ignore or lie about. This time it's news of the discovery of four very early snakes which push the known evolution of snakes back by almost 70 million years and they show unmistakable signs of transition from lizards with whom they are known to share a common ancestor.

So that's transitional snakes living between 143 and 167 million years ago, and already showing considerable diversification, suggesting an origin many millions of years earlier. It must be embarrassing having to try to force-fit facts like that into a superstition which claims Earth is only a few thousand years old

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Haeckel's Embryos and Creationist Hypocrites

1874 illustration from Anthropogenie showing "very early", "somewhat later" and "still later" stages of embryos of fish (F), salamander (A), turtle (T), chick (H), pig (S), cow (R), rabbit (K), and human (M)
How fudged embryo illustrations led to drawn-out lies - life - 20 January 2015 - New Scientist

Haeckel's embryo drawings are something of embarrassment for biology, but how they have been used to mislead their dupes should be an even bigger embarrassment for creationist pseudoscientists, if it were even remotely possible to embarrass them with evidence of false claims, that is.

Haeckel produced his set of drawings intending to show how vertebrate embryology supported Darwinian evolution by pointing to a common ancestor and because the stages of development represented a replay of the evolution which led to their final adult forms. Unfortunately, he not only 'enhanced' his drawings to support this 'Recapitulation theory' but then

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Unintelligently Designed Reproduction

Petunia (P. × atkinsiana)
Credit: Hiroyuki Kakui
Sophisticated system prevents self-fertilization in petunias | EurekAlert! Science News

Why would an intelligent designer design a system which is prone to errors then design a mechanism for avoiding those errors, and then, in different circumstances, have to break that avoidance mechanism because the solution is worse that the problem it was intended to solve?

I don't expect any self-respecting intelligent design creationists to answer that question because the default, "It's all a mystery which humans can't be expected to understand", or the easier, "I'm ignoring that question because it can't be true", response should have cut in by now.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Gender Gap in UK Religious Belief

Religious faith in Britain today
Women much more likely than men to say 'I'm a believer', study finds:

A survey out today has shown that 54% of British men born in 1970 now identify as non-believers but the same survey also showed that only 33% of women in the same cohort share this non-belief. The survey is the latest report from a longitudinal cohort study tracking the lives of 9,000 people born in a single week in 1970 being carried out by the UCL Institute for Education (IOE).

This gender gap is perhaps rather surprising but so is the wide range of different religious beliefs

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

How Creationist Lie To Us - Jehovah's Witnesses

Professor Rama Singh "I fully support the theory of evolution."
The Freethinker - The voice of atheism since 1881 » Prof’s words twisted to attack evolution

What the Jehovah's Witness on-line magazine, "Awake!", claims:

How would you complete the following sentence?

LIFE IS THE RESULT OF _______________________________________.

SOME might assume that a scientifically-minded person would pick "evolution" and that a religious person would pick "creation."

Is Pope Francis Fit For Purpose?

Pope Francis insists Catholics do not need to breed 'like rabbits' and criticises woman for 'tempting God' with eighth pregnancy - People - News - The Independent

Is Pope Francis up to the job? Does he even understand what the job is?

It's beginning to look like his ever-present public smile is not the smile of an affable, avuncular and kindly old man full of the joy of living, but the stupid grin of a confused and muddled misfit not quite sure what he should be doing. His spontaneous little 'pearls of wisdom' as often as not seem like the thoughtless blurtings of someone who can't keep his silly mouth shut as he lurches about like a theological loose cannon.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Why Christians Are So Easy to Fleece

Alex Malarkey (The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven)
"I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said it to get attention"
The Freethinker - The voice of atheism since 1881 » Boy’s visit to heaven is now pulped fiction

This week we have yet another example of just how easy it is to fleece credulous and gullible Christians as a Christian book, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, by Kevin & Alex Malarkey, a 2010 New York Times Bestseller, is being withdrawn and pulped because the boy in question has admitted it was a lie.

The reasons for this vulnerability to frauds is probably all too obvious to people who have decided to be led by the evidence, wherever it may lead, and who base their conclusions on evidence, reserve judgement when the evidence is lacking and change their minds

12 Questions for Punching Pope Francis

"If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others."
An open letter to Pope Francis in view of his proclamation that people who insult religion can expect to be punched.

Dear Pope Francis

I saw your recent statement in Manilla in response the the Charlie Hebdo atrocities in Paris, that people who insult religion can expect to be punched. I am surprised that you seem to be excusing Islamic violence, presumably because you feel solidarity with other religions in the face of growing secularism in Europe, and find it confusing in view of official Christian teaching.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

"Jesus Was Wrong. Punch Your Enemies" - Pope

BBC News - Pope Francis: 'Curse my mother, expect a punch'

In a quite astonishing response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the Pope not only defended those who use violence to deny others the right to criticise religion but reversed centuries of Christian official teaching, and said that people who insult religion should expect to be punched, just as someone should expect to be punched for insulting someone's mother.

In all matters of morality and theology the Pope is considered by Catholics to be infallible and to speak the words of God to humanity, so we can assume that, according to Catholic dogma, God has changed his mind and now thinks Jesus was wrong when he said:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matthew 5:38-39

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Look! No Women for Charlie!

Thanks to Why Evolution Is True for this little snippet:

Did you see that fantastic rally in Paris to reaffirm France's (and Europe's) secularism and determination to not be swayed from the basic principles of the European enlightenment and modern secular democracy - the principles of Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité - in the face of a cowardly and frightened little creed too insecure in its faith to be able to tolerate questions, criticism and doubt?

I'm talking of course of the mega crowd which

Friday, 9 January 2015

Martyrdom And Mind Viruses

Martyrdom of St Stephen
One man's heroic martyr is another man's deluded fool or misguided idiot who probably deserved what he got.

I wrote yesterday about how the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris were the effects of mind control by viral memeplexes we call religion, which take control of human minds and convert them into machines for replicating not humans or human cultural ideas, but of the religion virus, just as a genetic virus can take control of a cell's DNA replicating mechanism and convert it to a machine for making viruses.

The characteristic of these viruses, memetic or genetic, is that the host has only a utilitarian value to the parasite and so is disposable once its usefulness has passed.

An especially powerful mechanism often used by the religion virus is to kill the host in such a manner as to impress the minds of its other carriers, or at least render them less susceptible to resistance. This is of course to turn the victim into a 'martyr' where their disposal can be presented as some great act of heroism rather than the act of an automaton being controlled by a mind virus. The notion of martyrdom is of course already present in the human meme pool in the form of

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Religion Kills People

A particularly malignant form of the religion virus hit Paris yesterday when three infected individuals, directed by the virus, tried to suppress criticism of it by killing people who made fun of it. This especially virulent strain of the Islam memetic virus, which can control the mind and actions of its victims, making them do things which no sane person would normally do, is reaching epidemic proportions in parts of the world, especially in the Middle East where the population has suffered from various form of it for centuries.

Like other forms of the religion family of memetic viruses, Islam is normally passed on to children when they are at their most susceptible to infection so in many parts of the world, infection rates can reach almost 100% of the population.

The human infant is almost unique in nature being sentient, keen to learn and understand the world around him or her, having good memory recall and having a long childhood. To avoid the danger of overly-curious and sceptical but naive children being easy prey for predators, humans evolved childhood gullibility so parents could teach children almost anything quickly and without the children doubting them. So, for example, children told by their parents to keep away from the water hole where there were crocodiles didn't go to check for themselves.

OUI! OUI! OUI!

En solidarité avec le peuple français que je reproduis cet article par Ayaan Hirsi Ali sur son déconversion de l'Islam, traduit en français par Google Translate, afin excuses pour mauvaise grammaire et l'orthographe. L'original peut être lue ici.

D'abord un peu de fond sur Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Né en Somalie, elle a pu constater les mutilations génitales féminines à la main, la cruauté cléricale, et la barbarie de la religion d'inspiration. Après avoir échappé à la Hollande, elle regarda son collègue Theo Van Gogh a été assassiné par des extrémistes islamiques pour la satire de la répression islamique de la femme et a dit qu'elle devait être leur prochaine victime. Elle avait d'abord cru que l'islam pouvait être réformé, mais vite rendu compte que ce est la «foi» lui-même qui est le problème.

Quand j'ai finalement admis à moi-même que je étais un incroyant, ce était parce que je ne pouvais tout

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The God Of Low Standards - It's Official!

David Noel Freedman. Lowering the Standards.
I've just started on Raphael Lataster's There Was No Jesus, There Is No God and, while I'm not going to write a blog on every little gem I find in it, this one justifies a brief note, I think.

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog on The God of Low Standards in which I argued that belief in gods always involves people lowering their standards of evidence way below that required to believe in fairies, to believe in other gods and even to believe that an empty road is safe to cross. In other words that religion in general and their god in particular requires a much lower standard of evidence, logic and reasoning than is used for normal, everyday life. (See for example, The Milk Bottle Delusion - Why Prayers Always Work, for the standard Christian 'proof' that God always answers prayers.)

So it's good to see a leading Christian apologist and Bible scholar, the late David Noel Freedman, as quoted by Raphael Lataster, confirming that Bible scholars need to lower their standards way below that normally required to substantiate a claim with:

We have to accept somewhat looser standards. In the legal profession, to convict the defendant of a crime , you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil cases, a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient. When dealing with the Bible or any ancient source, we have to loosen up a little; otherwise, we can't really say anything.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Bottle of Milk Delusion - Why Prayers Always Work.

I don't claim original authorship of the argument here, but I think it's worth a little elaboration. I'm assuming, by the way, that an Islamic argument to prove Allah always answers prayer would be very similar if not identical. Indeed, there doesn't appear to be any other possibility for what could happen as a result of prayer.

No doubt some Christians will argue that there are more ways that their god answers prayers, such as the five here, where there are three yesses (somethining else happens; something happens and them something else happens; the thing happens) or the four here ("I can't hear you!" although how that differs from "No", and how the faithful tell the difference is beyond me). I wish they would make their mind up. Perhaps they are talking about different gods.

But in any case, all of these can be arbitrarily ascribed to a bottle of milk too, or any other object, animate or inanimate, animal vegetable or mineral or any combination of those for that matter.

Now, I daresay every Christian and Moslem will see the good sense of all this when ascribed to their particular god as its response to their particular prayers, so what's wrong with the logic when we ascribe it to a bottle of milk, when the outcome is identical and indistinguishable?

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