Friday, 3 July 2020

Malevolent Design News - The Covid-19 Designer Fights Back

Newer variant of COVID-19–causing virus dominates global infections | Los Alamos National Laboratory

If you're a believer in intelligent [sic] design, you'll no doubt be full of admiration for the way your designer created the deadly Covid-19 virus out of a harmless (to humans) virus which normally infects bats.

So you'll probably be delighted to know that he then added a small refinement that made Covid-19 more infective, so it eventually replaced the less infective form.

More Loopy Trumpanzees for Racism

Sheila Zilinsky. Went full Trumpanzee.
Christian Host Posts Video Showing “Demons” Around Fallen Confederate Statue | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

The Black Lives Matter campaign is exposing the sort of deranged fruitloops white Christian racist conspiracy theorists who support Donald Trump and who are against extending equal rights to black people.

One such is Conservative Christian radio host Sheila Zilinsky. Zalinsky is on record as claiming the NFL was brainwashing people with "alpha, gamma, theta waves, the delta waves lulling people into trances."

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Catholic Priest Calls BLM Activists, "Maggots and Parasites"

Rev. Theodore Rothrock, "They are maggots and parasites"
Catholic priest suspended for comparing BLM activists to 'maggots’

Were you under the impression that Christianity is about caring and compassion and regarding everyone as equally deserving of life and respect as children of God, and that Christians are people who would burn with indignation at the idea of a fellow human being treated as an inferior, lesser being?

Well, it seems it's not just the fundamentalist white evangelicals who disagree with you when it comes to black people, but an ordained Catholic Priest, the Rev. Theodore Rothrock, of St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carmel, disagrees with you too.

He has now been suspended by his bishop, Bishop Timothy Doherty, of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, for writing in his weekly bulletin:

Christian Racist Gun-Nuts for Jesus

Church Faces Backlash for Giving Out Free AR-15 During Sunday Service

Preacher of hate, John Koletas of Grace Baptist Church, Troy, Albany, NY has hit on a new idea for spreading the teachings of Jesus. He gives away guns to people who come to listen to his sermons in which he explains why killing things is good, why Greeks [sic], blacks and Jews are cursed, and why gun controls are "Socialist" and anti-Christian.

But then, when you live in a society where at least three minority groups are 'cursed' you can't take any chances. What you need is the means to kill thine enemies, and the smug certainty that you're doing God's work when you pull the trigger.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Episcopalians For Bigotry and Race-Hate

Scott and Debra Volland
Mississippi Church Ousts Pastor For Taking a Stand Against Racism | Val Wilde | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

The Black Lives Matter campaign, following the casual public murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, while his colleagues stood and watch the crime being committed, has polarized America like few other issues could have done, and has force people to show their true colours and take sides. This is, after all, what polarization does.

Evolution News - How The Mammalian Jaw Evolved

When mammalian middle ear bones develop, they begin as part of the arch of cartilage that makes up the embryonic jaw. In reptiles, these structures remain connected to the jaw as developmental processes gradually convert the cartilage to bone.

Hints at jaw evolution found in marsupials and monotremes | For the press | eLife

It's not a good day for creationists.

Back in 2017, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, King’s College London, and the University of Chicago showed how the mammalian ear evolved from the reptilian jaw, so, incidentally, showing how the mammalian jaw evolved.

Now researchers at King’s College London, UK, have found more evidence for this in the developing young of marsupials and monotremes.

Infant marsupials and monotremes use a connection between their ear and jaw bones shortly after birth to enable them to drink their mothers’ milk, new findings in eLife reveal.

This discovery by researchers at King’s College London, UK, provides new insights about early development in mammals, and may help scientists better understand how the bones of the middle ear and jaw evolved in mammals and their predecessors.

Common Ancestry - Monkeys and Humans Think Alike

Macaque monkeys. Think like humans.
Native Amazonians, Americans and monkeys show similar thinking patterns | Berkeley News

Humans and monkeys have similar thinking patterns, according to research from UC Berkeley, Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University.

Recursive thinking - a cognitive process of arranging words, phrases or symbols in a way that helps convey complex commands, sentiments and ideas - was thought to be unique to humans - has now been shown to exist in macaque monkeys. This thinking enables us to arrange ideas into nested hierarchies, rather like a linguistic expression of a venn diagram or the nested hierarchies found in cladistics, for example. This ability is crucial to syntax and semantics in human language.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Talibangelical News - SCOTUS Strikes Down Louisiana Restriction on Abortion

Chief Justice John Roberts. Voted with the liberals.
US top court strikes down law limiting abortions - BBC News

Conservative Christian hopes of using the Trump-given conservative majority on SCOTUS to force their religious bigotry into law took another blow today when, by a majority of 5-4, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts voting with the liberals, SCOTUS struck down a restriction on abortion services in Louisiana.

Only a few days ago, SCUTUS enraged fundamentalist Christians by confirming that all Americans, of whatever sexuality, are entitled to the full protection of the law, so cannot be sacked on the grounds of their sexuality.

Making Excuses for God's Psychopathy

The Battle, Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665)
Sporting contest, biblical style.
Christian Apologist: God’s Calls for Genocide Were Just “Figures of Speech” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

It's a mark of just how far decent Humanist values have penetrated into Christianity that Christian apologists are now having to make excuses for the things God supposedly ordered in the Bible that nowadays would be thought of as barbaric and unacceptable - the actions of a tyrannical war-criminal.

When it was written in the Bronze Age, no doubt the terrible things they wrote about God ordering were the sort of things you would expect a powerful despotic tribal leader to order his people to do, so, naturally, any self-respecting god would be expected to behave the same way. A brutal, merciless tyrant who rewards his loyal followers with plenty of land, war-booty and women captives and in return sanctions and glorifies their savage and brutal behaviour.

Talibangelical Christian Subversion in Mississippi

Mississippi State flag, adopted 1894, 29 years after the South lost the covil war.
Look away, Dixie: Mississippi to lose rebel emblem from flag

The extremist Christian campaign to subvert the US Constitution and impose a fundamentalist theocracy on the people, moved a small step towards its goal in Mississippi last Sunday.

The Mississippi legislature passed a bill to set up a commission to redesign the state flag to remove the racist Confederate Battle Flag and replace it with one which must incorporate the words "In God we trust". In other words, the Mississippi state government has at last accepted that the South lost the civil war and has jumped at the chance the "Black Lives Matter" campaign has created to establish Christianity, or at least theism into the state flag and to endorse a religion that 14% (and growing) of the population don't believe in.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Catholic Abuse News - A Massive Increase in Complaints

The U.S. Catholic Church Spent $281,611,817 on Child Sex Abuse Cases in 2019 | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

In the year ending June 2019, the number of allegations of sex abuse by US Catholic clergy quadrupled to an astonishing 4,434 cases - up from 1451 cases the previous year, according to an annual audit of more than 200 diocese and Catholic Church entities produced by CARA.

The report also highlights the fact that child abuse is continuing in Church establishments and that there is complacency with continued failure to publish reporting procedures, poor recordkeeping of background checks, dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards and a lack of formal monitoring priests who have been removed from ministry.

Far-Right Raging at 'Non-White' Jesus

GraphicaArtis/Getty Images
White people are furious that the archbishop of Canterbury said Jesus shouldn't always be white | indy100

The raving right in Britain are incensed at Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby's statement of the obvious on BBC Radio 4's Today Program that Jesus was not a white man.

Welby made this statement in response to the "Black Lives Matter" movement's campaign to have statuary and representations of racists and removed and the general review and reassessment of institutionalised racism in society, following another casual killing of a black man by white police in America.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Talibangelical Christian Pastors Throw a Tantrum

Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
American Pastors Network Says Supreme Court's LGBTQ Ruling Undermines Biblical Order and Invites God's Judgment | Right Wing Watch

Stung by the SCOTUS ruling that the law applies to all Americans, a group of fundamentalist Christian pastors have thrown a collective tantrum and are now threatening people with their imaginary friend.

They had expected SCOTUS, with it's Trump-given right-wing majority, to join with them in victimising and persecuting people from the LGBTQ community by agreeing that they could be freely discriminated against when it comes to employment rights. Instead SCOTUS ruled by a clear 6-3 majority, that federal sex discrimination protections extend to gay and transgender workers, making clear that employees cannot be fired under federal law simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Friday, 26 June 2020

Covidiots - Getting Even More Loopy As the Second Wave Hits

More than 20m Americans could have contracted Covid-19, experts say | US news | The Guardian

Due at least in part to the campaign by covidiot evangelical Christians, more than 20 million Americans could now have contracted Covid-19, according to CDC.

This new information is based on serology tests for the presence of antibodies that have shown, for every person with symptoms who tested positive for antibodies, a further 10 also tested positive. With the number of known cases nearing 2.4 million, multiplying those together gives the 20 million + estimate.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Covidiots - Christians For Covid-19

FL Christians Condemn Face Masks for Blocking “God’s Wonderful Breathing System” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

It's easy, and accurate, to place the blame for the deepening Covid-19 crisis in the USA on the inept and incompetent Donald Trump, but we also have to place some of the blame on those credulous idiots who elected him and who continue to support him - the right-wing Trumpanzee evangelical Christians who, as a requirement of their faith, have forsworn the use of reason to embrace infantile conspiracy theories.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Covidiot News - White Evangelicals Least Bothered About Others

White Evangelicals’ Coronavirus Concerns Are Fading Faster...... | News & Reporting | Christianity Today

You would expect evangelical (i.e fundamentalist) Christians to be the most compassionate, most caring and most concerned for the welfare of their fellow humans, given their fundamental belief that we are all created by the same god who holds each of us in the same high regard, and give the alleged teaching of Jesus that loving your neighbour is second in importance only to loving God.

The reality is something very different, as their response to the Covod-19 pandemic is showing. There is something in the mindset of evangelicals that make them the least concerned, the most cavalier and the most selfish in their attitude toward collective responsibility for reducing the spread of the virus, as a recent poll showed.

Ireland - Where Religion Poisoned Everything

The Great Famine
“[The famine is an] effective mechanism for reducing surplus population [as well as] the judgement of God… The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.”

Charles Trevelyan, letter to Lord Monteagle of Brandon

Trevelyan's repugnant words, typical of English upper-class thinking of the time, illustrates just how much religion played in the response to the Irish Potato Famine, just as it had played a major part in setting the conditions for it to happen in the first place. Although the anti-Catholic Penal Laws begun by Cromwell and later extended, had been repealed, the repeal was too recent to have altered the distribution of land which was still heavily tilted in favour of Protestants, who were the main landlords, especially in the south and west of the island, and Catholics owned little or none of it.

I explain this in detail in my popular book A History of Ireland: How Religion Poisoned Everything:

Holy Bodgers! Hilarious Art Restorations in Spain

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s original work (left) and two attempts at restoring a copy of it.
Photograph: Cedida por Coleccionista/Europa Press 2020
Source: The Guardian
Another botched artwork restoration leaves Spain in stitches | Barry Duke

And now a little bit of light relief from the accounts of covidiot religiots helping to spread the Covid-19 virus and turn places of worship into major Covid-19 hotspots.

Another Spanish restorer has managed to create mirth amongst the increasingly irreligious Spanish.

Following the 'success' of the hilarious restoration by octogenarian Cecilia Gimenez, of the Ecce Homo fresco in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, which turned Jesus into what looked like a monkey, an art collector employed a furniture restorer to restore his copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s, 1687 painting of the Virgin Mary, entitled The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerable. The result left Mary looking more like Jezebel. Mercifully, Murillo made a number of copies of this major work.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Evolution News - How Long-Tailed Tits Avoid Incest

Long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus
Long-tailed tits avoid incest by recognising the calls of relatives | EurekAlert! Science News

The long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus is one of my all-time favourite birds. And now they illustrate a fascinating aspect of evolution - how something evolved for one purpose can be co-opted and used for another. In this case, the constant twittering they make to maintain flock cohesion and to identify members of their extended family groups, is used to avoid incestuous breeding.

You can come across these lovely little birds in woods, especially in autumn and winter, when suddenly you realise the trees are alive with little twittering black, buff-orange and white birds, constantly on the go as they move through the trees foraging for small insects in groups of maybe a couple of dozen, constantly twittering and calling. Then, just as suddenly as they arrived, they're gone.

Bad News for Creationists - Filling the Abiogenesis Gap

The characteristic (HhH)2 fold and its binding to the minor groove of a modern DNA molecule. How did the first ones form?
Which Came First?

It's another day when scientists incidentally and without conscious effort, refute creationism with science.

One of creationism favourite god-filled gaps is the question of abiogenesis with constant questions about where the first proteins came from and how they self-assembled from non-living raw materials. This paper answers them. It details the findings of a team of scientists led by Prof. Dan Tawfik of the Weizmann Institute of Science and Prof. Norman Metanis of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and including scientists from Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

Sadly, once again a scientific paper of wide general interest is behind a firewall, however we have a news article from the Weizmann Institute of Science to explain the research:
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