F Rosa Rubicondior: December 2014

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Time To Remove The Bishops From The House Of Lords

What on Earth are 26 Anglican bishops and archbishops still doing in the UK House of Lords, or upper chamber of our legislature?

I suspect most people brought up in proper democracies, where membership of legislative assemblies is with the permission of, and consent of, the people as expressed in free and fair elections, will be astonished to know that we even have unelected people in our upper house, let alone people who can have a say in our laws who are unaccountable to anyone and who acquired that right simply by being senior wizards in one particular Christian sect - Anglicanism.

Sunday 28 December 2014

How Creationists Lie To Us Some More

Following on from my blog a couple of days ago about Ray Comfort's idiotic claim about the absence of gravity in space (sic) and his clear implication that the only explanation for how the people who wrote the Bible 3000 years ago knew this is that his locally popular god inspired them, I thought I would look more closely at this familiar religious false dichotomy fallacy and it's close similarity to the tactics of the snake-oil seller, con artist and shyster.

His fallacy has actually made me quite angry because of the contempt Comfort shows for his dupes, confident that their scientific illiteracy, eagerness for confirmation of their pre-existing bias, and difficulty with basic joined up thinking, would do most of the work for him.

Comfort is also playing to the schizophrenic attitude towards science of the average fundamentalist creationist: on the one hand, when it destroys and renders ridiculous their preferred mythical view of the Universe, it can be waved away as wrong, Satanic, the work of evil/mad/stupid/elitist scientists as appropriate; when there is the slightest hint that it might support them, suddenly brilliant scientists have proved the locally popular god is real.

Friday 26 December 2014

How Creationists Lie To Us - Ray Comfort

Unbelievably, not only did Ray Comfort actually post this publicly on Facebook, but his adoring fans seem to believe he's proved the locally popular god inspires the Bible with it.

But this blog isn't so much about Comfort's scientific ignorance and the credulous gullibility of his equally ignorant followers, but about what his Facebook post tells us about the dishonest tactics used by creationists who deliberately play on and exploit the scientific illiteracy of their dupes.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Fossil Fish Refutes Another Creationist Lie

Acanthodes bridgei
Image: Tanaka et al., Nature Communications
Three-hundred-million-year-old fossil fish still has traces of eye tissue | Science/AAAS | News

An amazingly well preserved fossil fish from 300 million years ago has its eyes so well preserved that it can be seen to have had both rods and cones in its retina, showing that it had colour vision. This is the first time a fossilized vertebrate eye has been found with that degree of detail and probably results from the fish becoming quickly submerged in anoxic sediment so protecting it from bacterial action.

It has also been shown to have melanin in its eyes - a pigment normally associated with good daylight and twilight vision when it's present in eyes, which would have been useful in the shallow, brackish, estuarine conditions in which it probably lived. It was found in ancient estuarine deposits near Hamilton, Kansas, USA.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Not A Happy Christmas For Pope Frankie

Pope Francis warns Vatican officials of 'spiritual Alzheimer's,' other ills - The Arlington Catholic Herald:

In a remarkably frank Christmas address to the Vatican Curia - the cabal of cardinals and Vatican bureaucrats who cluster around the Pope and generally run and live off the vast money-making and power-wielding organization that the Catholic Church has become - Pope Francis showed his frustration with them.

He bluntly accused them of suffering from fifteen 'spiritual diseases' including 'spiritual Alzheimers' and

Stem Cell Mistake Shows Why Science Beats Religion

Haruko Obokata anouncing the discovery
Image: Kyodo/Reuters
Acid bath stem-cell scientist can't reproduce results - health - 19 December 2014 - New Scientist

Unlike religion, science is a self-correcting process designed to minimise the opportunities for mistakes, statistical anomalies and downright fraud to pass unnoticed into the general body of science, and so ensure that the answers scientists believe they have found are at least a close approximation to the truth, and that our understanding of the world moves ever closer to the truth.

This example concerns an exciting and, if true, revolutionary 2012 'discovery' by a Charles Vacanti of Harvard Medical School working with Haruko Obokata and others at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan

Thursday 18 December 2014

Catholic Outrage - The Law Applies To Them Too!

Bernadette Smyth. "I'm no witch, I'm a Christian".
BBC News - Bernadette Smyth: Anti-abortion protester given community service

Catholics in Northern Ireland expressed shock and disappointment that a judge at Belfast's Magistrates Court had imposed a community service and issued a restraining order on Catholic anti-abortionist campaigner, Bernadette Smyth, preventing her from harassing Dawn Purvis of a Marie Stopes clinic and going within 20 yards of the clinic.

She was also sentenced to 100 hours community service and given a five-year restraining order

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Mad Manny Gets Another Warning

It's not often that I have something positive to say about the people at Twitter Support these days, as it was beginning to look like they had given up even pretending to be taking abuse and harassment seriously and seemed to be selecting random responses to complaints or ignoring them altogether.

But I see they've at last taken notice of all the complaints they've been getting about the behaviour of Manuel de Dios Agosto, the expelled seminarian and notorious Internet stalker and abusive blogger. Manuel is currently using his @CatholicGadfly, @SCDTVS, @SacerdotusRadio and @StudiousAtheist accounts to abuse, defame and denigrate anyone who responds to his phoney piety and infantile challenges to debate (usually first made in secret without informing the victim so he can claim victory by default).

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Bob Jones Uni Abusers - It's Not Just The Catholics!

Boz Tchividjian
Sex abuse report: Bob Jones University fosters culture of victim-blaming | Guardian 11 December, 2014

According to a report by GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), an non-profit Christian organization headed by Billy Graham's grandson and Liberty University Law Professor, Boz Tchividjian, the Protestant Evangelical Bob Jones University was even worse than the Catholics when it came to sexual abuse of students.

Bob Jones University has seen a spectacular decline in admissions in recent years as disbelief gains ground in the USA. This may not be disconnected with their desire to clean up their act, hence the commissioning of this report, albeit the moment of panic when they sacked GRACE only to reinstate them last January.

The report catalogues systematic sexual abuse of students, actively facilitated by a policy of blaming the victims, piling guilt and shame on them and discouraging them from reporting it to the police whilst abusers were left to carry on their abuse.

It states:

Sunday 14 December 2014

Malaria Is Down - But Not Yet Out

Scale-up in effective malaria control dramatically reduces deaths | WHO 9 December 2014:

Brilliant news that the infection and death rate from malaria has fallen worldwide and especially sharply in Africa where 90% of malaria deaths occur - and it's all down to science again.

The number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and malaria cases are also steadily declining, according to the World malaria report 2014. Between 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO African Region - where about 90% of malaria deaths occur.

New analysis across sub-Saharan Africa reveals that despite a 43% population increase, fewer people are infected or carry asymptomatic malaria infections every year: the number of people infected

Friday 12 December 2014

Pope Francis Just Can't Hide His Misogyny

Lost in translation? 7 reasons some women wince when Pope Francis starts talking - Religion News Service

Poor old Pope Francis just can't hide his misogyny no matter how hard he tries to look like a modern liberal reformer. These seven examples of where his prejudices are showing comes from religionnews.com a site not normally associated with religious criticism.

The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the son of Italian immigrants, comes from a background and a clerical tradition not normally associated with its liberal progressiveness and

Thursday 11 December 2014

Ken's Ham-Fisted Plan Scuppered

The Lost Ark: Kentucky will not grant tax incentives to Ark Encounter - Insider Louisville

Thanks to their own arrogant stupidity, the plan by the money-making loons at Answers in Genesis to subvert the US Constitution and con the State of Kentucky into using taxpayers money to help them promote their fundamentalist Christian bigotry and Bronze Age superstition, despite the 'Establishment Clause', has failed.

AiG had been planning to create an 'Ark Encounter' theme park to promote its infantile belief that the story of Noah's Ark in the Bible is a literal account of an

Sunday 7 December 2014

How Creationists Lie To Us - Michael J. Behe

Kenneth R. Miller
Edging towards Irrelevance - part 1

Professor Kenneth R Miller is an evolutionary biologist and expert in molecular biology and cell membranes. He is also a Roman Catholic who has written books such as Finding Darwin's God trying to show that evolution is compatible with belief in the Christian god. He also profoundly disagrees with the notion of 'Intelligent Design' as promulgated by fellow Roman Catholic, Michael J. Behe and the Discovery Institute.

The Discovery Institute was set up with the aim of using the Theory of Evolution, which many Americans find distasteful because it doesn't make them feel important enough, to undermine science as a prelude to subverting the secular US Constitution and installing a fundamentalist Christian, Taliban-style Levitican theocracy in America and elsewhere. Behe is a leading light in this disinformation campaign and concentrates particularly on misrepresenting evolutionary biology.

Miller's opposition to Behe and the Discovery Institute has made him a particular target of the antisciencers who are continually demanding he apologise for disagreeing with Behe and pointing out the misrepresentations of science, glaringly bad mathematics and false conclusions in his 2007 book, The Edge of Evolution, in which Behe tries to bamboozle his readers into thinking Darwinian evolution is mathematically impossible.

Saturday 6 December 2014

A Message From Homo Erectus

Homo erectus made world's oldest doodle 500,000 years ago : Nature News & Comment

A fossilised etched river mussel shell, dated to between 430,000 and 540,000 years old, from Java in Indonesia is being attributed to one of our immediate ancestors, Homo erectus and so becomes the oldest known engraving, beating the previous earliest by some 300,000 years and the first to be unequivocably pre-modern. This early artist from our remote ancestry unwittingly left an important message for those with the scientific literacy to read it.

This find is highly significant, if it turns out to be what it's claimed to be, because it's the first real evidence

Thursday 4 December 2014

Catholic Deception - Pope To Venerate The Fake of Turin

A typical ‘souvenir’ of an exposition with presiding clergy (1608), one of several made between 1578 and 1750.

The Trustees of the British Museum.
The Origins of the Shroud of Turin | History Today

News that Pope Francis is to make a pilgrimage to Turin Cathedral to venerate the Shroud of Turin, despite it now being regarded only by the most die-hard supporters as anything other than a fairly crude 14th Century painting on linen made from flax which grew in the 14th Century, shows that the 'reforming' Pope, whom many people thought was going to modernise the Catholic Church and introduce a modicum of honesty into its teachings and dealings with people, is still happy to follow his predecessors and mislead the credulous and gullible with forgeries and deliberate deceptions.

The Pope's announcement came only a few days after the publication in History Today of a slamming refutation of the Shroud's authenticity by a British historian. I've written before about this forgery here and here so it's pleasing to read this exposé by historian and writer, Charles Freeman, who, in this article destroys any remaining vestige of arguments for the shroud's authenticity and offers a possible explanation for its existence. An intent to deceive may well not have been the motive of the 'artist' who created it. That came later probably from the Savoy family who bought it and, of course, was adopted later by the Catholic Church in its constant search for the means to fool gullible people and keep them giving the clergy power, money and privileges.

Monday 1 December 2014

Look Where Manny Is Accessing The Internet From!

Manuel de Dios Agosto, the Bronx expelled seminarian, Internet stalker and habitual liar has boobed again and revealed something interesting about himself. He has shown us exactly where his emails are coming from and it's all available online from public sources so you don't even have to take my word for it; you can check for yourselves.

Twitter users will have watched in stunned amusement as Manny, with his usual Dunning-Kruger cock-sure self-confidence, via his sock puppet account @CatholicGadfly, challenged Twitter user Ellif D'Wulf to post evidence that he knew his IP address. Ellif had been pointing out that at least two of Manny's sock puppet accounts have the same IP address. Didn't he realise that Ellif doesn't make evidence-free claims? Not everyone does, Manuel! It's not normal!
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