Saturday, 20 October 2018

Creationism Sent Spinning Over Wheels

Wheels are everywhere these days. Almost every intelligently designed machine needs wheels somewhere, either inside it, like a clockwork clock or outside it like a motor car or a bicycle. Even modern, solid-state electrical machines will probably have wheels somewhere. Even all but the most primitive ploughs have wheels.

Yet wheels are virtually unknown in natural organisms. The only thing approaching a wheel in nature is the tiny molecular rotary proton motor driving the flagellum. Why is this?

The reason wheels, and in that description I include rollers, pulleys and rotating shafts - in fact any rotary component - are used

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Catholic Abuse News - Paranoid Pope Again Blames Satan


That Satan! He's out there I tell you!
Pope blames devil for Church divisions, scandals, seeks angel's help | Reuters

Is Pope Francis losing his marbles?

Fleshing out his claim last month, that Satan is behind all the revelations of the activities of his paedophile priests, an increasingly paranoid-sounding Pope Francis has now ordered Catholics to say special magic spells to enlist the help of angels and frighten Satan off.

Presumably, that hadn't occurred to God as he sits watching his favourite church implode and disintegrate into mutually blaming factions while none of them take any responsibility for the scandals.

Catholic Abuse News - "Contraception Turned Priests Into Paedophiles"

Thomas Paprocki, Bishop Springfield, Illinois
Catholic Bishop: Secularism And Birth Control Is To Blame For Pedophile Priests - The Intellectualist

Having faced a sharp rebuke for attempts to wash their hands of the Catholic clerical child abuse scandals by blaming it on the LGBT community, some Catholic clergy have now settled on washing their hands of it by blaming secularism and contraception!

Somehow, it's always something outside the Church, either in the laity or the public at large - the very people whose children were abused - who are to blame. It's never the fault of the predatory priests themselves. They, poor things, are merely victims themselves - sometime even of the children they couldn't help abusing.

The latest bishop to try to deflect blame away from the paedophile priests and the culture of the church which facilitated and covered up their predation on vulnerable children, is Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois. Responding to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into child abuse by Catholic priests with an eight-minute video entitled "Sexual Misconduct: Pruning and purification continues within the church", he said:

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Christian Abuse News - When Rape is not Rape

Dr. Don Boys. "It's only rape if they scream."
Rapacious Rape Requires Resistance! | Dr. Don Boys

Dr. Don Boys is a respected (in conservative Christian circles) writer on religious matter, and, as a former GOP member of the Indiana House of Representatives, a leading defender of Judge Kavanagh. He has concluded that Kavanagh cannot be guilty of rape because his victim, Christine Blasey Ford, did not scream.

He reasons that for rape to be rape, the woman has to scream. It matters not that she may be unable to through disability, incapacity or threat to her life, or even if the rapist has his hand over her mouth (like Kavanagh's victim alleged). Why? Because the Bible says so of course. The Christian book of excuses makes it all clear. It's only rape if she is screaming during it.

In an earlier BarbedWire piece, now mysteriously taken down but archived here, Boys wrote:

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Catholic Abuse News - The Bloodletting Continues

Pope Francis and President Sebastian Piñera in the Vatican
Pope defrocks two Chilean bishops over child abuse claims | BBC.

Yesterday, Pope Francis, in an attempt to be seen to be doing something about the new explosion of sexual abuse scandals to hit the Catholic Church, summarily sacked or 'defrocked' two Chilean bishops without the right of appeal.

They are Francisco José Cox Huneeus, archbishop emeritus of La Serena, Chile, member of the Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers, and Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández, bishop emeritus of Iquique, Chile. According to the Vatican press release, the defrockings were "as a consequence of manifest abuse of minors". The announcement came after Pope Francis met Chilean president Sebastian Piñera in the Vatican.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Another Catholic Cardinal - Another Catholic Abuse Scandal


Cardinal Donald Wuerl.
Donald Wuerl, DC archbishop, resigns over clerical sex abuse crisis - Vox

In what must be one of the slowest resignations on record, Pope Francis has belatedly accepted the resignation of the most senior American Catholic cleric to be embroiled in sexual abuse and cover-up scandals, Cardinal Wuerl, former Bishop then Archbishop of Pittsburgh, PA and later Archbishop of Washington DC.

Wuerl was accused in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into Catholic clerical sexual abuse in the state of being complicit in allowing sexual abuse of young seminarians and minors by Cardinal McCarrick to continue and of simply reshuffling priests accused of abuses to other parishes, where they could continue to abuse children and have access to vulnerable people in a congregation unaware of their predilections and past activities.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Lessons From Catalonia - Miraculous Lies

The Virgin of Montserrat (Mare de Déu de Montserrat)
The Virgin of Montserrat (Catalan: Mare de Déu de Montserrat), or the Black Madonna of Montserrat, is co-patron saint of Catalonia with St. George.

She is also an example of how legends are created out of whole cloth and then transmuted into sacred truths by the church and fed to the people to keep them in awe and in thrall to the church, its wondrous powers and its oneness with God.

Having just spent a few days in the beautiful city of Barcelona, in my humble opinion, one of the loveliest places in Europe, we decided to spend €35 each on a train ride to the sacred mountain of Montserrat for the pleasure of the ride up a steep mountain railway, the spectacle of the views and the interest of the geology - of which more later in another post. What we were least interested in was the monastery itself, which was fortunate because we arrived hungry and thirsty at about 3.45 pm with everything closing at 4 o'clock, with barely time for a snack and a drink at the cafe.

The story of how carved effigy came to be in the monastery atop Montserrat, north-west of Barcelona is interesting. According to legend, she was carved in Jerusalem by St Luke, who gave it to St. Peter to bring to Catalonia. In 718 she was moved to the site of an old Roman temple to Venus on Montserrat to be hidden from the invading 'Saracens' who were moving north from their stronghold in Andalucia up into south-west France.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Why Did God Wait?

Imagine, you're an omniscient, omnipotent deity and you've created humans who are going to behave badly and disobey you, but you love them and want to save them from the terrible punishment you've prepared for them for behaving the way you designed them.

Because you're omniscient, you know exactly what will save these creations and you desperately want to save them because you love them. You have always known this because you know all things.

The only thing that will save them is to have yourself manifest in human form and have yourself sacrificed as the ultimate blood sacrifice because everyone knows that blood sacrifices impress and satiate gods. It's the only thing that will work; there is no alternative. And you have always know this would be needed.

You even inspire the authorship of a book and in that book, according to some people, you include lots of hints and 'prophecies' about a 'Messiah' coming as a saviour. You even tell 'Isaiah' although you get the name of the 'Messiah' wrong.

But you still don't do anything even though you know what's needed and you've decided to do it. Instead, you wait about another 1000 years, allowing millions of people that you love above all else, to not be 'saved', and keeping them in complete darkness about the solution.

Then about 2020 years ago, for no apparent reason it should be at that precise moment, you decide to act and impregnate a virgin so you can be born and grow up as a human, then you get yourself 'executed' and pretend to be dead for 3 days.

And that does the trick. You can now 'save' people from yourself.

Some people apparently find this story convincing but they never think to ask why God waited so long. Why didn't God do this right away when it saw Adam and Eve begin to go wrong? Why didn't it do it after Noah and the animals got off the Ark?

And why did it tell humans that they needed to be saved and that it had provided this vital way, in a manner which took the best part of another 1800 years before everyone got to know about it, so allowing even more millions to not be 'saved'?

It's all rather odd. It really doesn't sound as though this god was really that bothered.

Can a Christian explain this apparent tardiness?



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Friday, 28 September 2018

Baby Beetles Evolve in 13 Generations

Sexton beetles, Nicrophorus vespilloides and larva
Credit: tomhouslay.com
Neglected baby beetles evolve greater self-reliance | Cambridge University Research News

How do you make your offspring grow big and strong?

If you are a sexton beetle, you feed them on dead mice, neglect them and let them fend for themselves. Well, not exactly their immediate offspring but the offspring of your 11 time great grandchildren who will evolve to be better at fending for themselves than those who are cared for, as this observed example of evolution in a laboratory shows.

Sexton beetles, Nicrophorus vespilloides, provide a useful service in the British countryside by burying the dead bodies of mice and other small vertebrates to create food for their offspring. They represent an intermediate level of parental care, between providing for all their needs and providing no care at all. Normally, the females remove the hair from the corpse and make cuts into the skin so their larvae can get into the body more easily. They will also bite off pieces of flesh and feed it to their larvae.

Fruitloops For Jesus

Pastor Paul Begley.
"They're out there you know! Coming to get us! Only Brett Kavanagh can save us!"
Paul Begley: Kavanaugh Allegations Represent 'The Darkest Hour in the Last 150 Years' | Right Wing Watch

A measure of their values and of their desperation to take over the American judiciary can be got from the hysterical response of fruitloop American Christians to the revelations about the character of their nominee for the vacant SCOTUS seat, the religious fundamentalist and right-wing political extremist, Brett Kavanaugh.

For example, here is fellow fruitloop, Pastor Paul Begley's hysterical outburst. Bear in mind that this is an adult speaking:

I am stunned at the level of disgrace that our country has come to... I am embarrassed. I am worried. I am heart broke. I am shocked.

I knew about the Mark of the Beast, I knew that this ugly seven-headed monster was going to rise. I knew that it would hate the church. I knew it would hate the Gospel. I knew this thing would hate freedom. I knew it would hate children. I knew it would hate life. I knew it would hate freedom. I knew it would hate you and me.

But I didn’t know dark it would get.

This is the darkest hour in the last 150 years. What’s going to happen? Will we survive? Only God can spare America now. Only God can rescue us from clutches of darkness and evil that lurks all around.

Apart from his appalling ignorance of history, he seems almost... no, exactly... like someone in the throes of a paranoid psychosis; a morbid theophobia that makes him intellectually paralysed with a terror of lurking invisible persecuting demons and evil forces.

This poor man's fanatical mind is stuck in a terrifying, pre-enlightenment, demon-haunted world that would be at home in the 15th Century.

But what of his social values? What morality does this terror produce in his fear-filled little mind?


The Harrowing of Hell, Hironymus Bosch
Does he honestly think failure to get a fanatical right-wing extremist inserted into the highest court in the USA would be worse than the Holocaust or worse than the 2004 Asian tsunami; worse even that the current world-wide HIV-AIDS epidemic or the two world wars or the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 that killed 50-100 million people?

We can excuse him on the grounds of ignorance of some of these, maybe, but he can't seriously be ignorant of the Holocaust or two world wars. Yet he ranks these below the 'terrifying prospect' of not getting a misogynistic, arrogant, privileged and would-be rapist fruitloop into a position of power in which he is accountable to no-one and cannot be removed!

This folks is what Christianity in today's Trump-run America had degenerated into.


Monday, 24 September 2018

Catholic Abuse News - Why Francis and Benedict are Staying Silent

Why Francis and Benedict won't answer the accusations dividing their church - CNN

An intriguing insight into the Byzantine machinations in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church is beginning to emerge as the fall-out from the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into Catholic clerical child abuse continues.

And it's becoming apparent why Pope Francis is under a self-imposed code of omerta concerning the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that both Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, knew of the sexual abuses by disgraced Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick but allowed him to continue in his role as the senior American Catholic Cardinal.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Catholic Abuse News - The Vigilance of Bishop Timlin


Bishop James C. Timlin, Suffer little children.
Some Pa. Catholic priests impregnated the girls they abused,

Buried deep in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into Catholic child abuse in the state are some horrific stories that are only just coming to light.

One of them is the account of how a priest in Scranton diocese, Father Thomas D. Skotek, sexually abused a girl over a period of five years while serving as pastor of St. Casimir in Freeland, got her pregnant and arranged an abortion for her.

You might think those facts alone would be

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Christians Tax-Free Lying for Jesus, Trump and the GOP

Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons
Atheist Group Tells IRS to Investigate Church That Told Members to Vote for GOP | Hemant Mehta.

Eagle Mountain International Church's Terri Copeland Pearsons may have cost her father's money-making enterprise a hefty tax bill, if the Freedom From Religion Foundation's complaint to the IRS is upheld.

After turning the church into a political mouthpiece for Donald Trump and the GOP, in violation of the Johnson Amendment which removes the tax exempt, charitable status from churches that are openly partisan in their politics, Terri and her co-preacher Paula White, a 'spiritual advisor' to Donald Trump, boasted that since Trump became president they didn't need to bother about that because the Johnson Amendment has been abolished.

The only problem is, the Johnson Amendment has not been abolished and is still the law of the land. Trump promised to abolish it so the conservative Christian churches could have their greatest wish fulfilled so they could have the political power denied them by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. They would, of course, without exception, support extreme right GOP candidates who would naturally be in hock to them and effectively in the pockets of church leaders like Kenneth Copeland and his daughter Terri. To date, however, Trump has failed to keep that promise.

This Week's Accidental Evidence for Evolution

Octopus bimaculoides
Credit: Tom Kleindinst/Marine Biological Laboratory
Octopuses Given Mood Drug ‘Ecstasy’ Reveal Genetic Link to Evolution of Social Behaviors in Humans.

As I've pointed out many times, biologists these days don't set out to find evidence for evolution any more so than physicists set out to find evidence for the Laws of Thermodynamics nor do chemists set out to prove the Atomic Theory. It just happens, because the theories are true, that whatever they do confirms the underlying theories.

This week for example we have a couple of papers that yet again casually confirm that the TOE is true and the only way to make sense of what can be seen.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Catholic Abuse News - Campaign to Blame the Gays

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin. "It was the gays!"
Credit: CNS/Jason Studnicka
U.S. Bishops Blame The Gays For Priests Raping Children, Cite ‘Homosexual Subculture’ | Michael Stone

The current frantic campaign by Catholics to try to combine their need to dissociate themselves from the crimes of paedophile and sexually predatory Catholic clergy with their desire to victimise and demonise homosexuals, did not start with Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights; he was merely following the party line it seems.

It was the line also taken by Bishop Robert Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, last August when the Pennsylvania report detailing the abuse of over 1000 children by 300 Catholic priest in Pennsylvania was released. In a letter to his diocese Morlino said:

It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord...

New Book: A History of Ireland: How Religion Poisoned Everything

My new book, A History of Ireland: How Religion Poisoned Everything, is a bit of a departure for me, delving into other areas of interest - history and Ireland - and combining them into a coherent critique of religion and the harm it does.

Originally conceived many years ago as an objective background to the then prevalent 'troubles' in Northern Ireland, it quickly became inescapable that the underlying cause of them was religion. There are few if any other factors involved. There is no significant racial, linguistic or ethnic difference between what amounted to warring and mutually detesting communities.

The Catholics spoke English as did the Protestants, the 'Old English' had long been assimilated into the Catholic Irish community and the Protestants were mostly Scots whose divergence from the Celts of Ulster had been within the last 1500 years. Both communities now spoke predominantly English which had largely replaced a Goidelic Celtic language so similar and with such recent common origins that they amount to dialects of one another and are mutually intelligible.

The one major difference was religious, and yet the differences ran so deep that the two communities maintained a virtual apartheid; one faction seeing the other as a lesser people destined to be for ever ruled over by the other and that faction seeing the other as usurpers, occupying their ancestral homelands. A hatred that ran so deep that it became more important to avenge some half-legendary wrong done to grandparents than to ensure a peaceful future for grandchildren. A hatred that cost 3000 lives and gained not an inch of territory and not a single significant political concession.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Texas Mormons For Child Abuse

Sam Young - Excommunicated for defending children.
The Mormon Church Just Excommunicated a Man Who Was Trying to Protect Children | Hemant Mehta.

Like so many other Christian churches, the Mormons also have a problem with child abuse and, like other church authorities where the cat is out of the bag and the abuses they thought they were hiding from public view are now common knowledge, the Mormons are acting swiftly. They have taken decisive steps to ensure it carries on by excommunicating a member, Sam Young, who has been campaigning to stop it.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Phoenix Pastor Abusing Girls For Years

Jose Vicente Morales. Pastor of the Iglesia Cristiana Impacto de Fe, Poenix, Arizona
Phoenix pastor sentenced to prison for molesting underage girls.

I'm not sure if this will give Catholics any comfort, but it seems their priests are not the only ones who use the trusted access their position gives them to abuse minors and vulnerable adults.

51 year-old Jose Vicente Morales, pastor of the Iglesia Cristiana Impacto de Fe, a small, primarily Spanish-speaking church in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, was doing exactly that throughout the 1990 and again between 2007 and 2011.

He was sentenced to 12 year in prison followed by a life-time on probation by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville, last Monday, having been arrested in 2016. His offences came to light when one of his victims, then aged 17, began self-harming and told her mother that Morales had been sexually abusing her since the age of 12. Another victim gave evidence that he sexually abused her regularly when she was between the ages of 7 and 12. Her mother was also sexually abused Morales when she was a child.

Pando - Something for Creationists to Ponder

Pando, the Word’s Heaviest Organism, is an Ever-Growing Witness of an Ancient Earth – Naturalis Historia

What is the world's oldest living and almost certainly the heaviest organism?

No it's not the blue whale, a mere minnow by comparison, or 'Methuselah', the 4850 year-old bristlecone pine tree from California and nor is it General Sherman, the giant sequoia or redwood tree.

It is in fact, Pando, a clone of trembling aspen, Populus tremuloides, around Fish Lake in Central Utah, USA. It gets its name from the Spanish for 'I spread' because of the extensive spread of what has been shown to be a clone of all males trees (so they can only reproduce vegetatively, by root suckers). The total weight of this organism is estimated to be 13 million pounds (5900 metric tonnes).

Pope's Popularity Takes a Tumble

Pope Francis Favorability Down Sharply in U.S. | Gallop.

Although Pope Francis still maintains a positive approval rating amongst Americans, the 53% approval recorded by Gallop between 4-12 September this year masks what amounts to a major shift in perception of his 'approvability' by non-Catholic Americans.

Amongst this group his approval has fallen 18 percentage points in the month since the publication of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, from 63% (and from a high of 72% recorded in February 2014), to the present low of 45%.
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