F Rosa Rubicondior: November 2012

Friday 30 November 2012

Thank You. Be Humankind. Feed The World

Thanks to everyone who clicked on the ads and bought things from Amazon. Together you have raised a nice little donation to Oxfam:

Keep up the good work.

More can be given at: Oxfam - Give.
Be Humankind. Feed The World.

Graveyard Of The Gods

Just imagine if you went to your doctor with a problem and he consulted a 2000 year old book to find out what the problem was and what treatment to give you. Would that be the professional thing for a doctor to do?

Imagine if you went to a lawyer with a legal question and he consulted the laws of Rome or the laws of the Goths from 2000 years or more ago to see what your legal rights are. Would that be what you would expect a professional lawyer to do?

Imagine someone standing for election as your representative in government and she was advocating a return to the tribal laws of, say, fifth century BCE China or Zimbabwe, or at least making them the basis of your legal system. Would she earn your vote and be taken seriously as a professional legislator?

Thursday 29 November 2012

Spot The Loonies

Here's a good game.

According to Christians, Christians are good people who love others, never judge because they believe that's their god's prerogative, and always try to forgive. Because their god is watching over them, they can be relied upon to always be honest and truthful, and never to try to mislead with misinformation because bearing false witness is a sin and their god sees everything and never forgets. People, being the creation of their perfect god are all of equal worth, obviously.

Atheists, on the other hand, are evil people who have no way of telling right from wrong and so can't be trusted to be honest. Because they don't believe a god created everything, they have no respect for it and give nothing any value beyond its utility value.

So, if Christians are right, it should be easy to guess who said the following.

Give it a try, then hover over the word 'Show' to see who said it.

(If you don't agree with Christians, you may find this easier.)

Friday 23 November 2012

Order From Chaos

One of the things which seems to baffle people is how order can come from a chaotic system without help. After all, if the system is truly chaotic, what could give it direction, assuming of course that order implies some sort of direction?

This confusion is often seized on by people who push religions for a living, to sell the idea that there must be some sort of directing intelligence doing it, with the implication that this directing intelligence must be the locally popular god in which ever culture they are marking their snake oil. This predominates in Creationism where it's the single most used argument by Creation 'scientists' to keep their normally scientifically illiterate market buying their books and voting they way they are told to vote. But it can also be found in other areas of science where professional religious apologists tend to go to find confusion, ignorance and misinformation to exploit.

I'll take a few simple scientific principle to illustrate how order can and does emerge spontaneously from chaos in ways which we often take for granted.

1. The Gas Laws

Most people will have heard of the Gas Laws. These Laws are regarded as some of the most basic fundamental laws of physics, explaining how volume, pressure and temperature of gasses are related.

There are two such laws complimenting each other: Boyle's Law and Charles's Law. They explain much of how internal combustion engines and steam engines work. Don't worry about the technical stuff too much. That's not the point of this blog. There isn't going to be an exam at the end of it.

Boyle's Law.

Boyle's law (sometimes referred to as the Boyle–Mariotte law) states that the absolute pressure and volume of a given mass of confined gas are inversely proportional, if the temperature remains unchanged within a closed system.[1][2] Thus, it states that the product of pressure and volume is a constant for a given mass of confined gas as long as the temperature is constant. The law was named after chemist and physicist Robert Boyle, who published the original law in 1662.[3]

Charles's Law

Charles' law (also known as the law of volumes) is an experimental gas law which describes how gases tend to expand when heated.

A modern statement of Charles' law is:
At constant pressure, the volume of a given mass of an ideal gas increases or decreases by the same factor as its temperature on the absolute temperature scale (i.e. the gas expands as the temperature increases).[1]

It was first published by French natural philosopher Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac in 1802,[2] although he credited the discovery to unpublished work from the 1780s by Jacques Charles.

To understand what's going on with these gasses in closed systems, we need to understand what pressure is. Pressure is the total force exerted by all the molecules of the gas as they hit to wall of the container. Some of their kinetic energy, depending on their velocity and the angle at which they strike the wall, is transferred to the walls of the container which would be pushed outwards if it could move - which is why balloons get bigger as you put more gas into them.

The total force exerted on the wall of the container will depend on the average energy transferred multiplied by the total number of molecules striking the walls of the container per unit of area at any one moment, which is proportional to the density of the molecules in the container. If we reduce the volume of the same mass of gas (by making the container smaller) we increase the density of the molecules in that mass so there are more of them to strike the walls of the container per unit area of wall. (Boyle's Law)

But, molecules of gas are moving randomly and chaotically within the body of the mass of gas in the container. When they strike the wall of the container, nothing is directing them to; they simply happen to be randomly moving in a trajectory which hits the wall (of course, if they didn't strike other gas molecules on the way, they would eventually strike a wall because they are in an enclosed system. As it is, they are zig-zagging about chaotically because they are also striking one another. The probability of any one molecule striking a wall at any one moment is randomly distributed somewhere between certainty and impossibility.

So, individual molecules are randomly striking the walls of the container in a truly random and chaotic, therefore unpredictable, manner.

How much energy they have will depend on the temperature, which is why pressure rises when the temperature rises (Charles's Law). However, not all molecules will have the same energy; the distribution of energy amongst all the molecules will fit a bell curve, with some having more than the average and some less. When the temperature increases, it's the shape of the bell curve which changes as the average energy increases. For any individual molecule, however, it's energy will still be random. The angle at which they strike the wall is also randomly distributed between 0 and 180 degrees to the surface of the wall.

So, the amount of energy individual molecules transfer to the walls of the container which they randomly and chaotically strike is also random and chaotic, therefore also unpredictable.

And yet, from a chaotic system, we get emergent order, which is so dependable we even call it a Law - which in science means we can be certain it will happen under normal circumstances such as the universe continuing to exist.

There is no magic or direction, nor intelligence required to produce the Gas Laws, merely the chaos of randomly moving gas molecules with randomly distributed kinetic energy. What we have there is an example of a 'law of mass action' where we can only predict what the average outcome will be from properties which fit bell curves, like the kinetic energy of gas molecules and their direction of travel.

So, the Gas Laws, upon which steam power and motor car engines depend, are emergent properties of chaos.

2. Clouds

The thing about clouds is that they look different depending on how far away from you they are.

Normally, when you look at them from the ground and they're up in the sky, they look like distinct things. We talk about them as though they are distinct objects. They can even look like solid objects, at least solid enough for ancient superstitious folk to imagine gods and angels standing on them.

When we fly into them in a plane, we realise they have no real outline; no edge as such.

When they are at ground level, or we are up a mountain at cloud level, we realise they are just microscopic droplets of water suspended in the air. Inside this fog we don't see the cloud as a thing at all; it's just different air which is difficult to see through.

And yet, in these pictures on the right we can see shape and form; we can see structures, even patterns. Surely there is order in clouds, isn't there? And this is not the usual humans looking for patterns and seeing faces and castles in the air, Jesus in toast and virgins in dropped ice-cream, sort of structure. (It's a pity for Muslims that there aren't more pictures of Mohammed otherwise they could see him in their toast as well.)

And yet the individual droplets of water or particles of ice which make up clouds are randomly distributed and randomly moving about and were formed from a chaotic weather system.

So clouds have no definable outline and are composed of chaotically moving particles formed in a chaotic system. And yet they look like discrete objects and have structure.

Again, structure is an emergent property from chaos. Not quite such predictable order as the Gas laws, but we can be fairly sure that, given certain meteorological conditions like wind direction and speed, temperature gradients as we go up through the atmosphere and humidity, we will get particular 'types' of clouds (in other words, clouds with different structures). We can also make a fairly good guess about what the weather is going to be from this emergent order from chaos, which took no direction and no intelligence to emerge.

There are other structures which flow from the emergent nature of clouds from chaos, of course.

Under the right conditions, the microscopic water droplets start to join together into larger droplets which become too large to stay in suspension in the air, and fall out as rain. They may also form the incredibly ordered snow flakes, the precise form of which is also random and emergent from chaos.

The next section deals with this.

3. Flowing Water

Falling rain eventually reaches the ground where it erodes the land into river valleys, chalk hills into caves and gorges, wears jagged rocky mountains into rounded hills and rough stones into smooth pebbles. Flowing rivers carrying eroded silt form sand bars, oxbow lakes, river beds and mud flats. All emergent structures out of chaos.

In Southern England we have a wonderful structure called Chesil Beach (from Old English ceosel or cisel, meaning "gravel" or "shingle") made entirely from pebbles. This entire 18 mile long structure was an emergent structure formed by the chaotic action of water molecules. As you go from one end to the other, the pebbles change in size. They have been graded into order by the same chaotic actions of water molecules.

Rivers, seas and oceans are composed of countless billions of water molecules all moving chaotically. It would be impossible to take any single water molecule and accurately predict its movements even for a few seconds because that depends on what the water molecules around it are doing, whilst what they do in turn depends on other water molecules. And yet, give something directional like gravity, order will begin to emerge and structures will appear in the water, some brief and transitory, some longer-lasting, but all being unpredictable. An order of sorts emerges from chaos.

Look at this video of a gentle stream. It's worth watching anyway. You will see little eddies forming, ripples on the surface of the water, peaks and waves and splashes. All of these are emergent structures, emerging from the chaos of mass action responding to gravity alone.

No intelligence and no direction save the natural force of gravity is required.

All of these examples of order emerging from chaos, and especially the latter of order emerging under a natural force giving a direction such as gravity, illustrate a basic principle of evolutionary biology.

They illustrate how order can emerge from randomly imperfect replication of genes under the directing influence of natural selection to give structures and forms best able to replicate genes in that selecting environment. Evolution by natural selection is an iterative process, complete with directing feedback system which requires no more direction nor intelligence than does water flowing down a stream.

And it is as mindless and majestic as flood water washing away bridges, cars, buildings and people.

Further reading:

Thursday 22 November 2012

Stacking Up The Odds

How come Evolution can create such hugely unlikely things that it's hard for people who don't understand, wilfully or otherwise, how Darwinian Evolution works without being directed?

To understand this you need to understand a few simple ideas.

  1. How many ancestors have you got?
  2. This should be quite simple to calculate. You have two parents, four grand parents, eight great grand parents, etc, etc. So, for every generation you go back, the number of ancestors doubles. You can imagine this as a fan shape going back in time, starting with you, each line splitting in two at every generation. Suppose we want to know how many ancestors we had a thousand years ago, we need to know how many generations there have been in a thousand years - approximately forty, assuming the mean age of parents at child birth is about twenty-five years. Then, we start with two and double it, forty times. In other words, 240 (2 raised to the power of 40), which is 1,099,511,627,776 (a little over one trillion) ancestors who lived in the year 1000 CE.1

Tuesday 20 November 2012

No Women Allowed!

The great thing about the Bible is, with only a little imagination and creative reinterpretation, it can mean just whatever you want it to mean. Whatever excuse you're looking for, for whatever you need to excuse, can usually be found with only a few minutes random search.

Take for example today's news that the General Synod of the Church of England has voted against allowing female bishops.

Firstly, I can't think of any reason at all why any self-respecting woman would want to be a leader of a church which doesn't want her. For that matter, I can't think of any honest reason why anyone would want to be a member of any organisation which specialises in pushing superstition onto gullible and vulnerable people and children, but that's neither here nor there.

For some reason some women do want to be Anglican bishops but those who have already made it through the stained-glass trapdoor have decided to slam it shut and pile tea-chests on top of it to keep it all for themselves, in their kind, caring, compassionate, Christian way.

Where did they turn to to find the excuse they needed? Why, the bigot's handbook, aka, the Holy Bible, of course! Where else?

Saturday 17 November 2012

The Power Of The Story

Once upon a time, in a continent not far away, there dwelt a puny ape who had learnt to walk upright so it could see further than other men without needing to stand on the shoulders of giants.

This little ape wanted to find dinner and wanted even more not to be dinner. But, the trees it once lived in had mostly gone away because the rains which used to come very often now came less frequently, so it could no longer shin up the nearest one to avoid the lions or swing from branch to branch to escape the leopards. Instead, it had to learn new skills if it was going to leave any descendants - and if it hadn't, how would we know about it now?

One of the things it acquired was the ability to recognise patterns. How useful it was to recognise the tracks of the animals they were hunting, and to recognise the tracks of the animals who were hunting them. They were probably the only animal which could look at animal tracks and read the information in them - what made them, which direction they were going in, how long ago they were made, and how many there were. This ability may have created the environment in which a large brain could evolve because the puny little ape could now make good use of a large brain and could catch the high protein dinner needed to grow it.

With pattern recognition came the ability to recognise sequences of events and to arrange them into a story. They could tell the story of those two leopards that came down to the water hole two hours ago, and then went up near to trees. They could also tell the story of how that gazelle was walking with a limp and would be easy to catch, and they could tell the story of how they would be welcomed home if they caught it and 'invited' it home to dinner...

Maybe it'll earn the opportunity to pass those pattern-recognising genes on to more offspring - though they wouldn't have known about the genes of course. They would have known the value of a good meal and their mate would have known the value of a good provider of good meals when it comes to rearing the children, and how to reward and keep a good thing when she saw it.

And so they evolved the ability to tell stories because those with that ability contributed more genes to the gene pool. They interpreted the world they saw in terms of stories. They worked out what would happen next and they worked out what probably happened before. The leopards came from that rocky outcrop. Best not go there. The world of these creatures became a world of a past and a future with the future caused by the past and they lived in the story they wove from the patterns they saw all around them.

And we've inherited these pattern-recognition genes because they helped our East African ancestors to pass on their genes and we are the descendants of those who left most descendants. It has even been said that, rather than Homo sapiens (thinking Man) we should be called Homo narans (story-telling Man) because so much of our thinking is actually storytelling.

We develop this ability very early in life. Show a three year-old a series of pictures and ask then what is happening, and they will joint them together with a story. They will even make up a story to explain what's happening in a single picture and they will tell you what will happen next. They do this because they assume there is a story. We see stories in everything.

We looked at tall mountains and said, "Some day a man will climb to the top." and so we climbed to the top of tall mountains and fulfilled our prophecy.

We looked towards the North and South Poles and said, "Some day someone will go there!", and so we went there and fulfilled our prophesy.

We looked up at the moon... and, because we couldn't allow it to be a Russian, it had to be an American. And it was so, and the prophecy was fulfilled because the prophesy said it would be.

So Homo narans has evolved another ability - the ability to create self-fulfilling prophesies.

Once upon a time, when we were in the childhood of our species, at a time before we had discovered iron or invented the wheel, a small tribe of Homo narans wanted to justify driving some people off their land and taking it for themselves, so they invented a story of how it had been given to them by a spirit in the sky who had chosen them for special treatment. Later on a scribe wrote it down, then someone included it in a book of tales and origins myths.

After many years they in turn were driven off their land by invaders but they remembered the tale of being the 'chosen' people and being given the land by a magic spirit in the sky and joined it to another story that one day a magic king would come to 'save' them when they get their god-given land back, build a temple, cast some magic spells and sacrifice a bull. Then they can have the whole world all for themselves, just like their magic spirit in the sky promised.

Another version of this story said the magic king had already appeared but had now gone away to wait for the chosen people to build the temple, when he would come back and kill them and everyone else who doesn't believe he's already been once, so some other specially chosen people will have the world all for themselves instead.

Two thousand years later, some people who believe they are the special people (how could it be anyone else?) are still working to ensure this prophecy from the infancy of mankind is self-fulfilled. One group is ensuring that the most powerful nation the world has ever known is on side and helping to fulfil the prophesy by supporting Israel as it wages genocidal war against the people who have lived in Palestine for thousands of years, on the land the story says a magic spirit gave to its chosen people.

The Triumph of Death, Pieter Bruegel The Elder
They are doing this in the hope that the legendary magic king will come back and kill everyone so they can have the world all for themselves. It's that thing we call Armageddon, in which we all get to die!

The worry is, that many people think this would be a good thing and have a lot of influence on people who could do it tomorrow if they wished.

We do not have to fulfil this insane prophecy, people!

It's a story we made up when we were too ignorant to know any better! We can change the story.

We have to change the story, or the very ability that allowed us to conquer the world, to climb the highest mountains and go to the moon could be the very thing which ensures our extinction.


"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better." - J. K. Rowling

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Friday 16 November 2012

Is Religion A Mind Virus?

Look at the lovely viruses!
Ever since Richard Dawkins introduced the idea of memes in The Selfish Gene people have speculated on the nature of religion when seen as a memeplex. There are two ways to view the religion memeplex:
  1. Is it a meme which has evolved within the human cultural memome (the memetic equivalent of the genetic genome) because it conveys benefits to the carrier and is thus differentially selected for in the evolution of cultures
  2. It like a virus in that it conveys no benefit to the carrier and may even be harmful but it subverts the replication mechanism and converts the host to a machine for producing viruses.

Why Creationists Lie To Us

Having written a number of blog posts on how creationists lie to us, it only seems fair to take a look at why they do it.

First, a little background:

Creationism as a political movement is largely a late nineteenth / early twentieth century American invention; it's often forgotten that Darwinian Evolution, when it was first presented as a scientific theory, did not cause a major outcry in mainstream Christianity, at least in England.

Most educated people had come to accept that the universe was a changing place and was not created as is a few thousand years ago; that the earth had a long geological history, though they estimated this in tens of thousands, perhaps millions, rather than billions of years. Evolution was just an extension of this principle of change and development into the realm of biology.

Most people didn't seem to understand it well enough to realise how thoroughly it undermined the notion of divine creation. In fact, mainstream Christianity had become more deist than theist.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Misguided Evolution

Here's a strange claim from theologian and Christian apologist, Alvin Plantinga. One seriously wonders if he thought it through before writing it down, or whether, as with so many religious apologists, he wasn't writing to persuade doubters and convert non-believers but to help believers cope with the cognitive dissonance caused by trying to hold on to faith in the teeth of reality.

Plantinga is one of the Christian apologists who has accepted the overwhelming evidence for Darwinian Evolution but has also accepted, unlike some other apologists like Francis Collins, that Darwinian Evolution, properly understood, abolishes the need for a god in any theory of the origins of life - that in turn utterly destroys the nonsensical doctrine of original sin and causes the entire Christian religion to collapse under the weight of its own absurdity in fact.

But Plantinga has a vested interest to defend, so that logic can't be allowed to get in the way; a work-around has to be found, even if that work-around is as absurd as the superstition it is designed to defend.

Seriously Weird Stuff

One of the things science teaches us is humility.

We can't really begin to understand things unless we are prepared to put aside our vain ego and resist the temptation to dismiss things just because they don't 'seem' right, or we find them hard to believe. This is the classic mistake Creationists make with Evolution, or often, with nearly all science - "You can't tell me... blah... blah... blah!". For some reason they seem to believe the universe must be easily understandable so anything which is hard to understand can't be right.

As someone once said (and I can't find who!), "Relativity is not hard to understand; it's hard to believe". I mean, it just doesn't seem right that no matter how fast you are moving, the speed of a beam of light coming towards you is the same as the speed of light going away from you. And yet every measurement ever made confirms that this is true and that it is time which changes when you go faster or slower.

The reason Einstein was able to conceptualise this idea was because he was able to ignore intuition and trusted the maths instead. Einstein allowed the evidence to lead him instead of assuming a right of veto over reality. Very many people, especially religious people, find it difficult or impossible to be that humble. That doesn't seem right to me so it can't be true; I don't know how to explain it so my guess must be right; that conflicts with my belief so the fact must be wrong.

Take, for example, the 'size' of the universe: we know when it started and that it started very small - as near to nothing as it's possible to get - and we know how long it's been expanding for, so we should be able to calculate its size - shouldn't we?

But the problem is, the space we are trying to measure isn't flat; it's curved.

Another thing we know about the universe is that it's not infinitely big. How do we know this? Simply by looking up at the sky. If the universe was infinite then every line you can draw from your eye would land on the surface of a star, and so the sky would be uniformly bright, even at night. It isn't, so the universe is not infinite. (This has been argued against on the grounds that it could be that the light hasn't had time to reach us yet).

But the universe is not like a balloon being inflated. A balloon is being inflated into something. Not so the universe. The universe is expanding into itself because all time and space are inside the universe. When the universe expands, it's the amount of space inside it which increases. There is no outside because there is no time and/or space for an outside to exist in 'outside' the universe, so the universe has nothing to expand into.

Because it has no outside, this means the universe doesn't have an 'edge'. In other words, the universe is finite but unbounded.

It also means that, if you could somehow stand outside the universe, the universe would not exist for you. It could not exist because there is nowhere outside the universe for it to exist in and no time for it to exist. Physical existence only has any meaning in terms of occupying space and time. Nothing can exist without space and time.

This is the reason we couldn't detect other universes. They don't exist in our Universe's spacetime so, so far as this Universe is concerned, they don't exist at all.

The universe only 'exists' inside itself. Asking what is outside the universe is as daft as asking what what is north of the North Pole. A bit like an ant walking endlessly round a wheel, wondering when it's going to get to the end.

It's also as daft as asking what there was before the Big Bang. (See now how the so-called Cosmological Argument so beloved of religious apologists depends on your intuitive rejection of what the evidence tells you? But why the need to explain a 'before' when your explanation implicitly accepts an arbitrarily designated cause that had no 'before', and logic tells you that there could not have been a 'before' without space and time?)

So, like Doctor Who's Tardis, the universe is very big inside but very small outside. In fact, 'outside', the universe is still the same 'size' it was at the moment of the Big Bang.

So what size is the universe?

Here's another thing to think about that just doesn't seem right:

The further you look into space, the older is the space you are looking at, because it takes time for the light you are seeing to travel from what you are looking at. But we know the universe is expanding and once occupied a point of infinite density and (almost) zero space 13.8 billion years ago.

This means, if you could see far enough to see light which started out 13.8 billion years ago, you would be seeing the Big Bang. But, the Big Bang wasn't a very long way away; it was here. In fact, it was everywhere. It was inside you, or rather inside the space you occupy, just a long time ago.

So, the further you look into space, the closer what you are seeing gets to you - but the longer ago it was. You are not so much looking further, you are looking back in time.

So, what is this massive universe with no edge and which doesn't exist outside itself made of?

Well, empty space really. Most of the universe is empty. By far the largest part of you is empty space. In fact, if it wasn't for the electrical charges carried on the electrons surrounding the atomic nuclei of the atoms you are made from, you would be invisible. Photons would mostly go right through you unmolested. It's actually the repulsion forces between atomic orbital electrons which makes things feel and look solid.

Take for example a hydrogen atom consisting of a single proton as a nucleus with a single electron around it (I say 'around' because it doesn't really exist as a single particle like a miniature planet orbiting a sun, but as a kind of a cloud surrounding the nucleus - yes, electrons really are in all possible places at the same time like a wave, or a probability function of being in any particular location).

So where is this empty space? Imagine the hydrogen nucleus magnified up to the size of a football and sitting on the centre spot at Wembley Stadium (for non-Brits, that's the English national football ground in the western suburbs of London, which is in South-east England). The electron 'cloud' on the same scale would be a sphere with its edge in Durban, in South Africa. The empty space is not only the space between atoms but the space inside atoms.

So, only a minuscule portion of the universe is in the form of particles or quanta of energy; the rest is 'empty' space. And yet that empty space is not 'nothing'. It exists in space and time.

And that's where it starts to get really strange and full of electromagnetic 'fields', like radio waves, magnetism and gravity, and vibrating 'superstrings', branes and other weird stuff like coiled-up micro-dimensions, and where virtual particle-antiparticle pairs spontaneously generate without cause and then annihilate one another.

Very strange and hard to believe - but well worth the effort.

So much more honest than settling for 'magic' and giving up trying, and then just pretending you know best like so many people who use religion as their excuse do as they pretend it gives them a short-cut to knowledge and wisdom, but usually end up looking scientifically illiterate and intellectually dishonest.

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Friday 9 November 2012

How Christians Lie To Children

Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander
For sheer repugnant nauseatingly mawkish sentimentality and the grotesque sentiments it explicitly advocates, this Anglican hymn probably takes some beating - though I am open to persuasion on that point if you can find an even more repugnant one...

It is still sung in primary schools and Sunday schools, though there have been attempts to ban the third verse from state schools.

1. All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

2. Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.


3. The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.


4. The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;−

It trolls on for another three equally odious verses but readers may like to read that third verse again...

It was written by Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander (nee Humphreys), who was born in Dublin, the third child and second daughter of Major John Humphreys (of Norfolk, land-agent to 4th Earl of Wicklow and later to the second Marquess of Abercorn) and wife of William Alexander, later Bishop of Armargh and Anglican primate of Ireland.

It was written especially for children whom Mrs Alexander felt needed to be reminded not only what a lovely little planet God had provided for them but how he had thoughtfully provided them with a neat social order with the rich in their castles and the lowly at their gate.

Skibbereen, Ireland, 1847
This charming little piece of unashamed combined social and anti-science propaganda was written in Ireland in 1848, the third and most devastating years of the Great Famine when upwards of 500,000 'lowly' Irish men, women and children were starving to death outside the gates, whilst their wealthy land owners in their castles were exporting food.

Meanwhile the English gentry parliament in London was refusing to distribute relief supplies for fear it would destabilise the laws of supply and demand which God had also thoughtfully provided to help ensure the social order was maintained and the rich continued to get richer by living off the labours of the lower orders. What did a few hundred thousand dead Irish matter when there were plenty more where they came from?

Particularly pleasing is the way it sets impressionable little children up with a twee little rhyme about flowers and little birds, before equating them with a rigid and god-given class system so these lucky little children would know their place and understand why they should stay in it.

Of course, this was a sincere eulogy to God and had nothing at all to do with the French Revolution of February 1848, the publication if the Communist Manifesto in the same month, workers uprisings throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a massive Chartist rally in London, audaciously demanding universal adult male suffrage and paid MPs so you didn't need to be rich to represent people in parliament, all within a few weeks of one another; events which had simultaneously concentrated the minds and slackened the bowels of the English ruling class.

How fortunate we were to have such a thoughtful ruling class to explain these things to us simple plebeians and such a kind, caring Anglican Church to promulgate it down to the lower orders and ensure we got the lesson early in life.

Apropos of nothing in particular, our present government is led by the rich son of an aristocrat. Most of his senior ministers have similar backgrounds. Their political party is known colloquially as 'The Nasty Party'. Some of their families still own castles although many of them were thrown out of Ireland by a curiously ungrateful people almost a hundred years ago. I don't suppose we'll ever really understand why.

[Edit] The day after writing this, the Old Etonian with aristocratic connections and relative of former Tory grandee Richard Austen (RAB) Butler, Justin Welby, was confirmed as Archbishop of Canterbury (pastoral head of the Anglican church) by UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, an Old Etonian with aristocratic connections.

It is not clear whether either of their aristocratic families still live in castles but it's reassuring to see how the English class system so beloved of the Anglican Church of 1848 is still very much alive and kicking, even if almost no one now takes any notice of the church and its vicars spout their weekly sanctimonious snobbery at almost empty pews in return for their wages.

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A Big Welcome To New Atheists

So you've finally admitted to yourself that you're an Atheist!

The first thing to understand is that you're not alone; you are part of a very rapidly growing world-wide 'community' of Atheists. I use the term 'community' loosely here because Atheism is not an organised movement. It doesn't commit you to believing in anything in place of gods so there are no dogmas, axioms or tenets of faith (how could there be?). Atheism is not an alternative faith. Atheism is an alternative to faith. It has been said that the only certainty is that there are no certainties.

Thursday 8 November 2012

God's Nob

Justin Welby
Next Archbishop of Canterbury
BBC News - Justin Welby 'to be named as new Archbishop of Canterbury':

Exciting news that Justin Welby, a rich Old Etonian with aristocratic connections and a relative of former Tory grandee Richard Austen (Rab) Butler, is to be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, by rich Old Etonian with aristocratic connections and current Tory grandee, Prime Minister David Cameron.

Justin Welby is current Bishop of Durham, a post he has held for less than a year.

In case anyone was under any illusions that the Anglican Church has any hint of democracy about it, it is worth looking at how this widely leaked decision was made.
[The] Crown Nominations Commission (known until 2003 as the Crown Appointments Commission), ... consists of:
  • The Archbishops of Canterbury and York (in the event of a vacancy in either post, then the House of Bishops elects another bishop to take that Archbishop's place)
  • Three members elected by the General Synod's House of Clergy from within itself
  • Three members elected by the General Synod's House of Laity from itself
  • Six members elected ad hoc by the Vacancy-in-See Committee from itself
Beyond these fourteen voting members, the Prime Minister's appointments secretary and the Archbishops' appointments secretary meet with the commission and help supply it with information on possible candidates. Normally the archbishop in whose province the vacancy lies chairs the commission.

When meeting to nominate an archbishop, the commission is chaired by a fifteenth voting member, who must be an "actual communicant lay member of the Church of England". He or she is appointed by the prime minister (if an Archbishop of Canterbury is being appointed) or by the Church of England Appointments Committee (if an Archbishop of York).

The commission meets several times in secret. The commission then forwards two names to the prime minister, who chooses one of them, or (exceptionally) requests additional names from the commission. In recent memory, the only prime minister who has not accepted the commission's preferred candidate was Margaret Thatcher, who opposed James Lawton Thompson’s nomination as Bishop of Birmingham, due to his (perceived) liberal and left-leaning views. If the chosen individual accepts the office, the prime minister advises the Sovereign, who then formally nominates the prime minister's choice. Thereafter, the diocese's College of Canons meets to 'elect' the new bishop. (This stage of the process was mocked by Ralph Waldo Emerson thus: "The King sends the Dean and Canons a congé d'élire, or leave to elect, but also sends them the name of the person whom they are to elect. They go into the Cathedral, chant and pray; and after these invocations invariably find that the dictates of the Holy Ghost agree with the recommendation of the King" [Emerson, English Traits, XIII, 1856].)
It must be reassuring to members of the worldwide Anglican Community that the British Prime Minister (head of government) is in charge of the whole process. As you can see from the current membership of the Crown Nominations Commission, over-seas interests and opinions are well represented (not!):

The current (May 2012) members are:
  • Professor Glynn Harrison - Diocese of Bristol - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • Mrs Mary Johnston - Diocese of London - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • Mr David Kemp, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
  • The Most Revd Dr Barry Morgan, Primate of The Church in Wales, elected by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.
  • The Rt Revd James Newcome, the Bishop of Carlisle - elected by House of Bishops.
  • The Very Revd Andrew Nunn - Diocese of Southwark - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • The Rt Revd Michael Perham, the Bishop of Gloucester - elected by House of Bishops.
  • The Reverend Canon Mark Roberts, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
  • Mrs Caroline Spencer, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
  • The Revd Canon Peter Spiers - Diocese of Liverpool - elected by General Synod to serve as member of the Commission for a five year period.
  • The Revd Canon Glyn Webster - Diocese of York - elected by General Synod to serve as members of the Commission for a five year period.
  • The Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, elected from the Diocese of Canterbury by their Vacancy in See Committee.
In addition, the Archbishops' Secretary for Appointments (Ms Caroline Boddington), the Prime Minister's Appointments Secretary (Sir Paul Britton) and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion (Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon) are non-voting members of the Commission.
Of course this elaborate process is in place to ensure the right types get appointed to these important posts, untrammelled by the attendant risks in allowing the hoi poloi a say.

Do sheep get to elect their shepherd? Whatever next!

For example, one pitfall this process has avoided is appointing John Setamu, as Archbishop of York, the natural successor to the Archbishop of Canterbury and a person who, on the face of it is admirably suited to the job both academically and in terms of his experience. He had been widely tipped as the next Cantuar by naive commentators, however, as the token African Archbishop, both the CNC and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, obviously felt it wasn't worth the inevitable disintegration of the world-wide Anglican Community which would certainly have followed the appointment of an African as its head.

Phew! What a good thing these things are so tightly controlled by the ruling classes!
Further reading: Christian Democracy.

'via Blog this'

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Are All Governments God's Governments?

Here's a lovely little passage from the Bible that, for some reason, you hardly ever hear Christians quoting these days. It's almost as though they don't agree with it, and yet it was written by the major founding father of their religion - St Paul, supposedly directly inspired by God.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [my emphasis] Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.

Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

During the recent US presidential election campaign, you'd have expected Christians to have gone on endlessly about how all governments are ordained by God and how we should all pay our taxes because governments only do good and fight evil.

Very strange.

But of course, this passage, if you believe it, means that all government, everywhere and for all time, not only Barack Obama's, are, according to St Paul, ordained by God and all are doing nothing but God's work and fighting evil.

All governments, mark you! Not just modern Christian ones, or the first century CE Roman one. And every soul is subject to their rule. No geographical, political, religious or time constraints. The passages is unambiguous and unequivocal. All powers are of God and ordained by Him, and every soul is subject to them.

That means the governments of Saddam Hussain in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Hozni Mubarak in Egypt, the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the Communist governments of Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Joseph Stalin and the governments of the Soviet client states of Eastern Europe, were all ordained by God and doing God's work.

It also means the Sandanista government in Nicaragua, the Allende government in Chile, the segregationist state governments in Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas of the 1950s and 1960s were, just as the latter three claimed, doing God's work, as is the Chávez government in Venezuela.

In fact, every government in history; the German Nazis, the Mongol hoards of Ghengis Khan; the Early Medieval Muslim conquerors of the Holy Lands, North Africa and Spain, all doing god's work, according to the Bible. And of course, if you believe the Bible, you'll believe the colonial government of George III of England was entirely legitimate and should never have been overthrown in the Americas, least of all over the issue of taxation.

According to St.Paul, every citizen of every nation enjoys God's protection against evil from His government, and every citizen of every country should pay taxes so their government can afford to carry out God's work, as God ordained.

Strange then that the fundamentalist Christian supporters of the tax evading Mitt Romney were urging the overthrow of God's ordained president and are in favour of intervention to destabilise and over-throw so many of God's foreign governments.

Unless they think the Bible is wrong, of course.

Sunday 4 November 2012

More Loopy Religious Cults

Continuing with the series on religious cults, (see The Heavenly Peace of Jesus and Top Five Christian Cults), this blog looks at a few more religious cults from history.

A band of Thuggee

The Thuggee

The Thuggee cult, from which we get the English word 'thug' was an Indian Hindu cult devoted to the goddess Kali the consort of Shiva (The Destroyer).

The cult was first mentioned around 1356. Their speciality was joining bands of travellers and gradually gaining their confidence until the place and time were right, then they would ritually murder them by garotting them with a silk handkerchief, after which their bodies were robbed and buried.

The cult seems to have been put down by the British by 1870 having killed an estimated 2,000,000 Indian travellers.


Assassins of Alamut

The Islamic cult that gave us the word 'assassin' for someone who carries out a political or contract killing. The name was originally a term of abuse derived from the Arabic 'Hashishin', for 'user of hashish'.

The cults origins are obscure but it was taken over by its legendary first grand master, Hassan-i Sabbah, a Persian Ismaili Muslim missionary of the Nizari order, to defend his mountain stronghold at Alamut in about 1091, in response to the First Crusade and the political turmoil this had caused in Persia.

The cult leaders gave their followers hashish, which they told them gave a glimpse of Heaven, so they could be persuaded not to fear death. They then sent them out to carry out political killings for clients. Often, the assassination took place in full public view to increase the kudos, and hence the price, of the cult but the Assassins were usually careful not to kill innocent bystanders as they believed this would discredit the order and lead to civil strife.

As they grew in strength, the cult expanded into Syria and at one point reputedly considered converting to Christianity so they could benefit from lower taxes then paid to the King of Jerusalem, Amalric I. Ironically, this plan came to nothing when the Assassin negotiators were assassinated by Christian knights.

The Alamut fortress was eventually overrun and by Mongols in 1256 and it's library completely destroyed, hence the obscurity of the order's origins. The Syrian stronghold was occupied by the Mamluk Turk, Sultan Beibers I in about 1265, though the Mamluks continued to make use of their services for a while.

Mokichi Okada

Church Of World Messianity

The Church of World Messianity is a Japanese cult, with offshoots in the Japanese community in Brazil, which was started by a Tokyo jeweller, Mokichi Okada in 1935.

Okada, a former member of the Shinto Oomoto sect, claimed he had received a special revelation from God in 1926 telling him about the healing power of divine light, or Johrei. He soon branched out into the quack medicine business opening a clinic for healing with divine light. Believers hold out their arm towards a sick person with their palm open. 'Divine light' flows down their arm and into the patient, allegedly healing them. It can't be seen or otherwise detected in any way known to science. The origin of this 'divine light' is a paper scroll with some writing by Mokichi Okada on it.

The clinic was closed down by Japanese authorities a year later as it violated Medical Practitioners' Law. Not forgetting his jewellery business, he required cult members to wear a pendant, bought from the cult, naturally. No scientific evidence for the efficacy of this treatment is known to exist.

Mokichi Okada soon became a multimillionaire and amassed a large private art collection, now housed in the private Mokichi Okada Association Corporation's Museum of Art in Atami, Japan.

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Saturday 3 November 2012

Intelligently Designed With Love?

Look at this beautiful little jewel of a wasp (Ampulex compressa). Any Creationist 'scientist' worth his/her salt would point at this and assert that it must have been designed, and hope you'll just gaze in wonder at the exquisite skill of such a marvellous designer who could intelligently design such a thing, and then hopefully you'll buy his books, visit his museum and give him lots of money to help spread the good news.

What you won't be told however, is what this lovely little insect actually does; and there is a very good reason for this. Appearances can be deceptive, and the Creationist 'scientist' will understandably be sensitive in this respect. Like him, the deceptive little thing is a parasite, and a particularly nasty one at that.

This little wasp hunts down cockroaches.

"And what's wrong with that?", you might ask. "Who wants cockroaches around?"

Well, cockroaches do for a start, and, if you believe in an intelligent designer, or even a designer who is not particularly bright, you surely must believe it intended cockroaches to be around too.

But it's what the wasp does to cockroaches which should at least make you wince, if not question the entire basis of your 'faith'.

As early as the 1940s it was reported that female wasps of this species sting a roach (specifically a Periplaneta americana,Periplaneta australasiae or Nauphoeta rhombifolia)[1] twice, delivering venom. A 2003 study[2] using radioactive labeling demonstrated that the wasp stings precisely into specific ganglia of the roach. It delivers an initial sting to a thoracic ganglion and injects venom to mildly and reversibly paralyze the front legs of its victim. The biochemical basis of this transient paralysis is discussed in a 2006 paper.[3] Temporary loss of mobility in the roach facilitates the second venomous sting at a precise spot in the victim's head ganglia (brain), in the section that controls the escape reflex. As a result of this sting, the roach will first groom extensively, and then become sluggish and fail to show normal escape responses.[4] In 2007 it was reported that the venom of the wasp blocks receptors for the neurotransmitter octopamine.[5]

The wasp proceeds to chew off half of each of the roach's antennae.[1] Researchers believe that the wasp chews off the antenna to replenish fluids or possibly to regulate the amount of venom because too much could kill and too little would let the victim recover before the larva has grown. The wasp, which is too small to carry the roach, then leads the victim to the wasp's burrow, by pulling one of the roach's antennae in a manner similar to a leash. Once they reach the burrow, the wasp lays a white egg, about 2 mm long, on the roach's abdomen. It then exits and proceeds to fill in the burrow entrance with pebbles, more to keep other predators out than to keep the roach in.

With its escape reflex disabled, the stung roach will simply rest in the burrow as the wasp's egg hatches after about three days. The hatched larva lives and feeds for 4–5 days on the roach, then chews its way into its abdomen and proceeds to live as an endoparasitoid. Over a period of eight days, the wasp larva consumes the roach's internal organs in an order which maximizes the likelihood that the roach will stay alive, at least until the larva enters the pupal stage and forms a cocoon inside the roach's body. Eventually the fully grown wasp emerges from the roach's body to begin its adult life. Development is faster in the warm season.

Adults live for several months. Mating takes about one minute, and only one mating is necessary for a female wasp to successfully parasitize several dozen roaches.

While a number of venomous animals paralyze prey as live food for their young, Ampulex compressa is different in that it initially leaves the roach mobile and modifies its behavior in a unique way. Several other species of the genus Ampulex show a similar behavior of preying on cockroaches.[1] The wasp's predation appears only to affect the cockroach's escape responses. Research has shown that while a stung roach exhibits drastically reduced survival instincts (such as swimming, or avoiding pain) for approximately 72 hours, motor abilities like flight or flipping over are unimpaired.[6][7]

Which is all very well, if you're an emerald cockroach wasp; not so good if you're a cockroach.

What gruesome intelligence could come up with such a plan? Why on earth would an intelligent designer design cockroaches and equip them with all the paraphernalia needed to be a cockroach, then think up something so malignantly horrific as our exquisite little wasp, which seems to have no other purpose in life but to make cockroaches die slowly and helplessly by having their internal organs eaten?

Of course, as intelligent design, and especially intelligent design by an omni-benevolent designer, emerald cockroach wasps make no sense at all. Neither do cockroaches in a world intelligently designed for humans, for that matter.

As the products of a thoughtless, unemotional, undirected process, where the only thing that matters is what gives more living, breeding descendants, they make perfect sense. The emerald cockroach wasp does what it does because evolution has pushed it in that direction by naturally selecting for whatever produces most reproducing emerald cockroach wasps. There is no need for an explanation more complicated than that.

And of course, a similar process is currently pushing parasitic Creationista pseudo-scientificus in the direction of evolving more and more ways to exploit the susceptibility to mind-control that religion has produced in their victims - those who have been stung into senselessness by religion and now allow themselves to be led by the nose and to be fed on and used by self-seeking Creationist pseudo-scientists, preachers and right-wing politicians, having been stripped of their ability to think for themselves.

And these sad little mind-controlled zombies actually think it gives their lives meaning to try to produce even more potential victims for these nasty little parasites - and I'm not talking about wasps. Wasps have a nobility and elegance which cannot be granted to human 'religious' parasites. Unlike these humans, they can be forgiven, for they know not what they do.

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The 2012 Darwin Creationist Twit - Result!

The coveted Darwin Creationist Twit Award for 2012 Results:

In third place with

is @jtrubo

Well done to @jtrubo for doing so well with what was a really late entry, only just making the deadline.

In second place with two candidate entries:

is @Absird.

Very well done, @Absird. A valiant effort which I thought would take some beating for its pompous idiocy. Two very good candidate tweets there.

However, the clear winner with:

is @loadsofduck with an entry so moronic that it proved impossible to beat for it's sheer ignorant stupidity, even by the exceptionally strong entries from @Absird.

Well done, @loadsofduck,DCT for being the 2012 Darwin Creationist Twit of The Year. Don't forget to impress your friends and followers by putting those much sought after letters after your name.

Friday 2 November 2012

Apologists' Glossary

In recognition of the frequent need of religious apologists to re-define everyday words to make their arguments appear to work and look logical, I have produced this handy glossary. It can also be used by normal people to decode apologetics and turn it from gibberish into normal English.


Anything in a holy book which science has now shown not to be true and which no one in their right mind would now believe was ever meant to be taken literally. Allegories do not need to be for anything; they just need to be too silly to be taken literally now we know better.

Big Bang

  1. Silly idea that nothing went bang and made everything, so the evidence for it can be ignored.
  2. Not as sensible as the idea that a magic man made from nothing made everything from nothing so he would have somewhere to create me.

Climate Change

Something which isn't happening and which has nothing to do with the different weather we are having. Anyway, God will take care of it and it doesn't matter anyway because Jesus will come back soon.


  1. Any scientific idea about which there may be the slightest uncertainty or which is not completely understood in absolute detail, or which any person claiming to be a scientist has ever questioned at any time in recorded history, if it casts doubt on a religious dogma.
  2. Anything which contradicts the holy book of the religion being defended.


  1. Something which can safely be assumed to exist if it would support the religious idea being defended.
  2. Something which arrogant, elitist scientists keep going on about.


  1. The belief that chimpanzees have human babies, invented by Stephen Dawkins who is friend of Karl Marx.
  2. A scientific process which is impossible because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
  3. An old idea that everyone knows has been disproved.
  4. The scientific explanation for how all the different species evolved from two of each kind in just 4,000 years after Noah's flood.


Anything presented without supporting evidence in support of religious dogma. May be given addition power by being appended with an exclamation mark and used at the end of a sentence.


  1. Pertaining to anything tending to disprove a religious dogma, no matter how well supported with evidence or reason.
  2. Anything which contradicts the holy book of the religion being defended.

False Witnessing.

  1. Telling lies - something forbidden by one of the Ten Commandments, so no Christian would ever do it.
  2. Definitely not claiming to have evidence for a god when there is none, or making claims for which there is no evidential support.
  3. Also, definitely not accusing people who you don't agree with of doing things they haven't done.


  1. How to tell that all other faiths are false.
  2. Believing things for which there is definitely really good evidence which convinced the people who told me what to believe. No doubts about that at all. Honestly! Anyway, I wouldn't believe it if it wasn't true. Why can't other people see that?


Anyone who doesn't agree with a religious dogma.


Any claim, fact or logical argument which tends to falsify the religious dogma or argument currently being used.


  1. Pertaining to any act called for in a holy book, regardless of its effects on other people.
  2. Pertaining to people who claim to be members of the religious sect being promoted, regardless of their behaviour.

I know it to be so.

Cf. Fact!

Just a theory.

  1. A guess with no supporting evidence.
  2. Description of any body of science together with the supporting evidence, research findings and consensus of opinion of experts in the field, which contradicts anything in the holy book or religious dogma being promoted or defended.

Let's agree to disagree.

I've run out of arguments and can't refute anything you've said but I'm not going to admit I've lost because I might have to change my opinion.

Literal Word Of God.

  1. Everything written in the holy book being promoted. Utterly beyond dispute.
  2. Unless it's just too absurd to be believed, or embarrassing, then it is allegorical - but still literally true, obviously.


The passive-aggressive act of condescending to people who disagree with you in an attempt to intimidate them.

Lying For Jesus/Allah

The paradox of religious apologists denying doing it when caught in the act.


See Allegory. Normally applies to a instruction in a holy book which, if done today, would be socially unacceptable or even criminal. What it is a metaphor for is often an ineffable mystery which only devout people can understand.


  1. Pertaining to anything done in the name of the god being defended or called for in a holy book, regardless of the effect it has on other people, especially non-believers.
  2. Pertaining to any act done to promote the sect being promoted, including deception, misrepresentation, false-witnessing and violence, threatened or actual.


Pertaining to something which can't be demonstrated to exist but which would need to exist for a religious dogma to be true.


  1. Not to be trusted if it gives the wrong answer. What St Paul and Martin Luther warned us not to use but didn't say why.
  2. What people who don't trust God use.
  3. What William Lane Craig and other religious apologists brilliantly prove God is real with.


Pertaining to Christians who believe they have been saved from their god because they believe it exists.


  1. When contradicting a religious dogma, an unreliable philosophy depending on an unproven materialist view of the universe, which never produces anything worthwhile in terms of knowledge, understanding or progress.
  2. When believed to support a religious dogma, indisputable and infallible method for proving what's true.


  1. When agreeing with the religion being promoted, brilliant and indisputable authority.
  2. When disagreeing with the religion being promoted, mad, elitist, fraud who thinks he knows more than God/Allah. Probably a Communist, rapist and devil-worshipper.
  3. Anyone with letters after his/her name, even if not qualified in a science subject, especially if called 'doctor'.
  4. A Creationist who has watched the Discovery Channel or who owns a science book.

Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Science which makes Evolution impossible.


Everyone. If Catholic, someone who has sinned since they were last let off by a priest. Some people are obviously sinner than others.


Pertaining to anything which would support religious dogma if it were so, especially in the absence of any supporting evidence.


The act of saying anything at all which might, if believed, persuade another person to join the religious sect being promoted.

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