F Rosa Rubicondior: October 2018

Wednesday 31 October 2018

Dinosaur Eggs Confirm Bird Evolution

A selection of bird eggs and a fossil theropod egg (on the right).
Image credit: Jasmina Wiemann/Yale University
Dinosaurs put all colored bird eggs in one basket, evolutionarily speaking | YaleNews

More evidence today, if any more were needed, of the dinosarian origin of modern birds. This time it is evidence that the pigments birds use to colour their eggs evolved in dinosaurs who needed to camouflage their eggs in open or partially open nests on the ground.

The study also changes our thinking on how and when bird egg colour evolved.

It had been believed that birds evolved egg colours multiple times according to environmental pressures, however, all bird use the same two pigments, red and blue, in various combinations and patterns to achieve the different markings. This study challenges that view by showing that dinosaurs also had pigmented shells.

Monday 29 October 2018

Catholic Abuse News - The Pope's Attack Dog Is Snarling Again

Bill Donohue, Catholic League President
The Pope's Pit Bull
Let Activists Dig Ireland's “Mass Grave” – Catholic League

The self-appointed Pope's pit bull, president of the American Catholic League, Bill Donohue is snarling and yapping again. This time, it is to mock and denigrate those trying to uncover the full horror of exactly what happened at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Galway, Ireland at the hands of sisters of the Catholic Bon Secours order, and give their victims a decent burial.

Saturday 27 October 2018

ECHR Ruling on 'Paedophile Prophet'

Conviction for calling Muhammad a paedophile is not in breach of Article 10 | ECHRPDF

On the face of it, the ruling yesterday by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that the conviction of 'E.S.' by an Austrian court for 'disparaging religion' by suggesting that Muhammad had paedophile tendencies, should be upheld, is disturbing to say the least. However, it needs very careful scrutiny.

It does not, for example, as some are claiming, make it illegal to call Muhammad a paedophile. Nor does it give any special protection to Islam not available to other religions.

Ireland - Another Rejection of Religious Bigotry

RTÉ exit poll suggests blasphemy referendum will pass

In another stunning rebuff to basic Christian teaching and to religious privilege in general in the Republic of Ireland, this once staunchly Catholic country appears to have voted overwhelmingly to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution, if exit polls are to be believed.

In the last few years, increasingly secular Ireland has voted by very large majorities to legalise same-sex marriages and to decriminalise abortion, both in the face of vigorous campaigns by the Catholic Church and against fundamental church teaching.

Thursday 25 October 2018

Another Failed Attempt at Christian Political Subversion

Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Credit: David Wallace/The Republic
Arizona superintendent fails in last attempt to limit evolution teaching | Ars Technica

Yet another attempt by entitled Christian fundamentalists to subvert the US Constitution and foist their superstition on vulnerable children at public expense, contrary to the Establishment Clause, has failed, just as it has failed in every attempt when brought before the US courts.

This latest attack on the Constitution was by Christian fundamentalist, Diane Douglas, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction (an elected position) who abused her position by instructing her staff to edit a set of educational standards to remove any mention of 'evolution'. She later also ordered them to remove any reference to 'climate change'. When these changes were rejected by the Arizona school board she tried another tack and attempted to have the entire educational guidelines for Arizona replaced by those developed by Hillsdale College.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Catholic Abuse News - What Pope Francis Knows

Nicola Corradi and fellow priest Horacio Corbacho, left, are escorted to a courtroom in Mendoza, Argentina, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016.

Credit: AP Photo/Emmanuel Rodriguez Villegas
Argentine abuse investigation involves priest previously reported to Pope Francis

In addition to the unanswered accusations by Archbishop Carlo Viganò concerning Pope Francis's knowledge of Cardinal McCarrick's sexually predatory habits, there are persistent accusations that, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he was informed of the predatory activities of Fr. Nicola Corradi at a Catholic-run school for deaf children in Argentina but did nothing to protect his victims or bring Corradi to justice.

This sorry story starts in Italy where Corradi, a member of the Company of Mary, an Italian religious community which operates schools for deaf children in several countries, including Argentina and Italy, is reported to have sexually abused several deaf children at the Antonio Provolo Institute for deaf and mute children. This allegation came from “Giuseppe” who was born near Verona with a congenital defect that left him deaf and mute. He was eventually enrolled in an Antonio Provolo Institute.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Bringing Christianity Into Disrepute - Really?

Pastor Penuel Mnguni of the End Times Disciples Ministries
'Snake Pastor' feeds dog meat to congregants for communion | News24.

In a slight variation on the Catholic tradition of feeding congregants on pieces of wafer and telling them it's really a piece of real Jesus, a South African pastor has come up with a slightly more nutritious alternative. He feeds them pieces of dog. Admittedly dog meat he has turned into a tasty stew.

In fact, it's so tasty so he says, that it simply must be Jesus.

He has also been known to feed them snake, hair, cockroaches and rat.

Pastor Penuel Mnguni of the End Times Disciples Ministries explained:

[I]t is not what goes through the mouth that disqualifies us and defile us but what comes out of the mouth – The heart matters most than what decomposes (Food we eat) (sic). Christianity has shifted so much from time to time, however at End Times Disciples Ministries the move of God has been seen as many peoples faiths has also been challenged. From changing a snake to chocolate – to partaking octopus and frogs – a dog stew was prepared for the Church to partake as Holy Communion.

Evolution News - Giant Mice Threaten Rare Seabirds

Tristan albatross Diomedea dabbenena
Gough Island restoration programme | RSPB

A very nice, even if worrying, example of evolution in progress was illustrated in a report by the RSPB on one of their programmes to protect the seabird population on remote South Atlantic Gough Island. The giant descendants of the house mice that were introduced accidentally to the island in the 19th century, have become predatory on the estimated more than eight million seabirds of twenty-three different species that nest there.

Gough Island is part of the UK Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, and is the nest site of the critically endangered Tristan albatross, Diomedea dabbenena.

Fake Dead Sea Scrolls an Intelligently Designed Hoax

'Dead Sea Scroll' display, Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at least partly fake, museum admits | CBC News

In the search for certainty, concern for truth takes a low priority.

The dangers of being over-eager for confirmation of bias were highlighted yesterday when a fundamentalist Bible museum was forced to admit that at least five of its sixteen claimed Dead Sea Scroll fragments were forgeries.

Despite highly dubious provenance, the museum had purchased the fragments which began mysteriously appearing on the international market in about 2002, despite the actual scroll fragments being tightly controlled by the Israeli Government's Antiquities Authority. Bible scholars had warned that these fragments appeared to be intelligently designed to target American evangelical Christians. A Baptist seminary in Texas and a evangelical college in California reportedly paid out millions of dollars for some of them.

Saturday 20 October 2018

Creationism Sent Spinning Over Wheels

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

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

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

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Catholic Abuse News - Paranoid Pope Again Blames Satan

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

Is Pope Francis losing his marbles?

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

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

Catholic Abuse News - "Contraception Turned Priests Into Paedophiles"

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Christian Abuse News - When Rape is not Rape

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

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

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

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

Sunday 14 October 2018

Catholic Abuse News - The Bloodletting Continues

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

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

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

Saturday 13 October 2018

Another Catholic Cardinal - Another Catholic Abuse Scandal

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

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

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

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Lessons From Catalonia - Miraculous Lies

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Why Did God Wait?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can a Christian explain this apparent tardiness?

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