F Rosa Rubicondior: February 2016

Sunday 28 February 2016

Misleading Christians

On Darwin Day, 5 facts about the evolution debate | Pew Research Center

Although all but the most honest creationists will try to pretend that their unscientific, anti-science views are actually good science with masses of scientific support, because that is the impression that the fraudsters who misinform them give them, the evidence from a Pew Research Center study into the views of Americans on evolution, re-published on Darwin Day this year, shows something completely different.

It shows that these unfortunate people are getting their 'science' not from proper scientists but from preachers and pastors who normally have no training in science whatsoever and that their opinions are based on religious dogma, not a rational examination of the scientific evidence. There is a clear correlation too between the degree of fundamentalism in religious affiliation with the degree of rejection of the scientific view of evolution by an unguided, natural process.

Jehovah's Witness (6%), Mormons (11%), Evangelical Protestants (11%) and 'Historically Black' Protestants (16%) all report astonishingly low (by European standards) levels of understanding that humans are the result of evolution by a natural process. This figure only rises to 28% for Mainline Protestants, 29% for Orthodox Christians and 31% for Catholics, still low by European standards.

The mainstream Christian figure is close to that for Muslims at 25%. It may surprise many fundamentalist Christians to discover that they are more extreme in their views than Muslims, who they traditionally regard as extremists.

Friday 26 February 2016

Fundamentalist Christians and Un-Christian Politics

Click to enlarge
U.S. religious groups and their political leanings | Pew Research Center

Rarely do I venture into American politics in these blog posts, but the increasingly right-wing political extremism of the Republican Party, as it cements its ties with Christian fundamentalism, becoming, in effect, the political wing of the Christian theocratic and anti-science movement, is worth commenting upon.

First a little test.

Supposing, just for the moment, that Jesus were to return, and was pretty much the way he is portrayed today in his social attitudes, given the following choices, which would he be most likely to go for?
  • Would he:
    1. favour giving even more money to the rich?
    2. favour giving money to the poor?
  • Would he:
    1. favour leaving the sick to fend for themselves as best they can?
    2. favour helping the sick to get better, regardless of their income?
  • Would he:
    1. favour sending more people to prison for longer?

Wednesday 24 February 2016

The Malevolent Designer Does It Again!

Host cell invasion and replication by the influenza virus.

Influenza A virus targets a cGAS-independent STING pathway that controls enveloped RNA viruses : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

For those wingnuts who still believe in intelligent design, the hardest thing to explain, if they ever give much thought to it, is why their putative intelligent (sic) designer so often resembles a malevolent, hate-filled and completely evil designer who hates everything it has designed.

The story goes that this intelligent (sic) designer created the entire Universe just so it could make a tiny planet in a remote part of it (bear with me! I'm not making this up!) so it could make intelligent beings to worship it. So thrilled was it with it's invention, which it had taken an infinite amount of time to think up, that it loves it more than anything.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Filling The Gap and Evicting Creationism's Magic Friend

Illustration: Karen Carr.
Closing Romer's Gap | The National Museum of Scotland

To any decent creationist, it's all about those lovely gaps. Gaps in the current knowledge, gaps in the fossil records, gaps in our understanding or ability yet to explain! Any gap will do, and if the right one can't be found, one can easily be invented with a childish parody of science. No-one will ever notice because the target audience couldn't tell a childish parody of science from the real thing. It's all magic anyway.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Vatican Issues Abuse Cover-Up Code - Omerta!

Catholic bishops not obliged to report clerical child abuse, Vatican says | World news | The Guardian

This report from last week slipped under my radar unnoticed.

The Vatican has issued new training material for newly-named bishops which tells them they don't have any obligation to report cases of clerical abuse of children unless the local law requires it. Their only obligation is to deal with the matter internally. Apparently, the notion of a moral obligation over and above an obligation to merely comply with local laws, to protect children and expose abusers is not a Catholic thing.

Monday 15 February 2016

Shark Bite For Creationists

An ancient dental gene set governs development and continuous regeneration of teeth in sharks | ScienceDirect

Astonishing news today that the creationist industry's intelligent (sic) designer favours sharks over humans.

Although humans notoriously suffer from all manner of dental problems, including dental caries caused by bacteria, abscesses formed in the gums and jaw when these caries erode the tooth to the point where the dentine and root canals are exposed, and gum diseases leading to the teeth actually falling out, sometime by middle age, the intelligent (sic) designer apparently designed a system for replacing teeth but switched it off in humans, and most of our vertebrate relatives, way back in our evolutionary history. It left the genes there, not doing anything useful though.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Gravity Waving Goodbye To Big Bang Doubts?

Gravitational waves: Scientists might be about to announce detection of 'ripples in the fabric of spacetime' | Independent.

It looks like creationists are about to be hit with another scientific discovery they are going to have to work hard to ignore, as another gap slams shut and no god was found in it.

There are persistent rumours in the scientific world that a team working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) system will announce tomorrow that they have discovered 'primordial gravity waves'. These are gravity waves from the first moments of the Big Bang and, if confirmed, could increase our knowledge of exactly what happened in that first few microseconds of the Universe's existence.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Lesson From Toulouse - How Christians Lie To Us

St Saturnin being dragged by a bull
source: Wikipedia
This is a blog post I intended to write last Autumn when we got back from Dordogne in France but it got put on the back burner for a while as other things intervened. It is the ludicrously silly tale of Saint Saturnin (or Sarin) of Toulouse, legendary first bishop of Toulouse in Southwest France.

We had some time to kill before our flight home from Toulouse, so spent it in the town, mostly browsing the wonderful vegetable market, but this church down a side street caught our eye so we went to investigate. The church of St Sarin is a wonderful building in mock Romanesque style, slightly reminiscent of Eastern Christian churches. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses what are alleged to be St Saturnin's mortal remains. It is supposedly built on the site where his body was hidden after his curious method of execution. Saint Saturnin is known by several names depending on language and local dialect; Sernin in French, Sarnin in Occitan, Sadurní in Catalan, etc.

Friday 5 February 2016

Manny the Bronx Fraud is Still Trying

Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk
Manuel de Dios Agosto, aka Sacerdotus, the expelled former Catholic seminarian from Bronx, has been inventing some more online personae. This time, the platform he displays them on is Amazon.com, where he pretends to be different people posting 'objective' reviews on his own books and books he hasn't read.

Take these he's recently posted on one of my book's page, for example:

This book is a disaster of intellectual thought. Old refuted arguments are represented by the author and are uninteresting. They expose the author as lacking literacy in science and philosophy. She attempts to spin science in the favor of atheism and while doing so, fails logically. Do not waste your time and money on this rubbish. There are far better sources out there that argue for the atheistic viewpoint. This author, Esther Harrison, is clearly inexperienced as a writer and doesn't have the academic know-how to publish professionally. Lastly, her books are on her blog so you can read it there for free.

Monday 1 February 2016

Diabolically Fishy Problem For Creationists

Devil's Hole pupfish, Cyprinodon diabolis.
Image credit: Olin Feuerbacher / US Fish and Wildlife Service / CC BY 2.0
Diabolical survival in Death Valley: recent pupfish colonization, gene flow and genetic assimilation in the smallest species range on earth | PRSB.

Something diabolical indeed for creationism!

Now we have an example of rapid genetic diversification leading to a new species in just a few hundred years, and this could well have happened several times with repeated cycles of repopulation, evolution and extinction.

The Devil's Hole pupfish, Cyprinodon diabolis, has been described as one of the rarest fish on Earth and exists only in a small, aquifer-fed geothermal pool in a
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