F Rosa Rubicondior: May 2020

Sunday 31 May 2020

Covidiots - Minnesota Catholic Church 'Above the Law'

Bernard Hebda
Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis
Showing Backbone, MN Bishops Defy State

Showing not the slightest sign of contrition or humility, following the bankruptcy of the St. Cloud diocese in Minnesota, because of the $22.5 million payout to the victims of its predatory paedophile priests, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota issued a defiant letter about the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, calling for the ban on assembly in places of worship to be lifted and declaring the church to be above the law.

In defiance of Minnesota governor, Tim Waltz, the letter asserting the "independence of Body of Christ has from secular authority" and announced the resumption of public Masses beginning May 26.

Astonishingly, they felt entitled to announce that they had given their parishioners "permission for the resumption of the public celebration of Mass on Tuesday, May 26, which will give us time to be ready for the celebration of Pentecost on May 31." They feel they have the authority to "give permission" to Catholics to defy the lawful instructions of an elected state governor!

The letter, signed by all six bishops (only one of whose dioces is not now in a state of bankruptcy due to having to pay their share of the $210 million paid to 210 victims of their priests) states that the lockdown order is an order "that defies reason." Presumably, a Catholic bishop knows more about viruses and epidemiology than virologists and epidemiologists.

Unintelligent Design - Spittlebugs and Bacteria

Spittlebug, the nymph stage of the froghopper, Clastoptera proteus
Two bacteria allow spittlebugs to thrive on low-nutrient meals | Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell Chronicle

Imagine you're an omniscient, omnipotent designer of living organisms and you've designed an insect you want to live and thrive. How do you go about providing it with food?

Well, you design it to live on the low-nutrient sap obtained from the xylem of plants, then you provide it with a ludicrously complex system of symbiotic bacteria which take this poor food supply and turn it into the essential chemicals the insect needs to live on, apparently.

Of course, you need to design special structures for these bacteria to live in. For some reason, you forgot all about the metabolic processes you designed for millions of creations, so you designed this unique one afresh, like re-inventing a wheel.

Saturday 30 May 2020

Evolution - Letting God Off The Hook for Covid-19

Evolution of Pandemic Coronavirus Outlines Path from Animals to Humans | Duke Health

One of the few amusing aspects to the Covid-19 pandemic is watching intelligent [sic] design creationists trying to explain why their putative creator created the virus in the first place. Attempts have included - er... it wasn't our god but another creator - Satan, and God wanted to teach us a lesson because [fill in whatever hobby-horse is currently upsetting local fundamentalists]. The other problem for creationists to explain was why the virus seems to be spread more easily amongst people who regularly gather in places of worship than amongst those who stay at home.

Now however, some scientists from Duke University Medical Centre, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Texas at El Paso and New York University have shown that it wasn't creationism's creator god who made the Covid-19 virus after all, but a perfectly natural process we call 'evolution'. This process caused the common coronavirus to change into SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) and to become highly infective and dangerous to humans.

The Duke Health press release explains:

Closing Another Gap - Consciousness

General anesthesia has been in use for nearly 175 years, but its mechanism for causing loss of consciousness has been unknown until now. So momentous was the first use of ether that it was memorialized in this painting, "First Operation Under Ether," by Robert C. Hinckley.

Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine,
Harvard Medical School.
Solving the 175-year-old medical mystery of anesthesia’s effects | Scripps Research

Scientists may not have fully explained consciousness and how the brain monitors its own thought processes but, as this piece of research by scientists from the Scripps Institute shows, consciousness does not exist independently of the brain, as some woo-peddling charlatans claim, but is an integral, materialist function of neurophysiology.

Scripps Research News explains:

Using modern nanoscale microscopic techniques, plus clever experiments in living cells and fruit flies, the scientists show how clusters of lipids in the cell membrane serve as a missing go-between in a two-part mechanism. Temporary exposure to anesthesia causes the lipid clusters to move from an ordered state, to a disordered one, and then back again, leading to a multitude of subsequent effects that ultimately cause changes in consciousness.

Friday 29 May 2020

Bible Authors May Have Been High on Cannabis

Iron Age Judahite shrine
New research reveals Cannabis and Frankincense at the Judahite Shrine of Biblical Arad.

Cannabis was used in early cultic ceremonies in the Iron Age kingdom of Judah, according to researchers from Tel Aviv University. This may explain some of the more bizarre stories and claims of revelations and experiences related in the Bible.

This comes from analysis of the material found on two Iron Age altars discovered at the entrance to the "holy of holies" of a shrine at Tel Arad in the Beer-sheba Valley, Israel, which were found to contain Cannabis and Frankincense.

The findings were published free access yesterday in Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

Catholic Abuse News - Another Diocese Goes Bankrupt

Catholic cathedral, St Paul, Minnesota.
Photograph: Jim Mone/AP
Catholic diocese in Minnesota to pay sexual abuse victims $22.5m | Guardian

The Roman Catholic diocese of St. Cloud in Minnesota is to go bankrupt but not before paying out $22.5 million to some 70 victims victims of sexual abuse by 41 priests, dating back to the 1950s, according to the terms of a settlement announced last Tuesday.

St Cloud will be the fifth of Minnesota's six diocese to go bankrupt because of sexual abuse compensation payments.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Covidiots - Missi Wimberly the Doctor's Wife

Screen grab of Missi Wimberly's 'Stop Social Distancing' Tweet
(now deleted)
Missi Wimberly: Backlash Over COVID-19 Pedicure Tweet | Heavy.com

Missi Wimberly was so shocked that her pedicurist wore PPE during her 'essential' pedicure that she flew into a rage and started a Twitter campaign to end social distancing. Apparently, the suggestion that anyone could catch something like the Covid-19 virus from her, or that she could catch it from a pedicurist was an unacceptable afront to her dignity.

One could almost accept this behaviour from an ignorant, spoilt little princess daughter of a Bible belt Redneck who had never read a book in her life, but Missi Wimberly is no ordinary Alabama Redneck. She proclaims herself on her LinkedIn page to be "a health, wellness and fitness professional". She is also the wife of a doctor who should understand the rudiments of epidemiology and the danger to people that the Covid-19 virus presents.

Her husband is Lee Thomas Wimberly, MD, an Internist with several Alabama hospitals and CEO of several retirement homes in the state. Together they have five children. One can only hope that, despite Missi's cavalier approach to infection control, their children remain safe during the pandemic.

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Evolution News - Women with Neanderthal Genes are More Fertile

Photo credit: Getty Images
Women with Neandertal gene give birth to more children | Karolinska Institutet Nyheter

The one in three European women who have a copy of a Neanderthal gene are likely to be more fertile because they suffer fewer miscarriages and incidents of bleeding in early pregnancy, according to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

The gene codes for a progesterone receptor. Molecular analyses revealed that these women produce more progesterone receptors in their cells, which may lead to increased sensitivity to progesterone and to protection against early miscarriages and bleeding.

Monday 25 May 2020

Covidiots - The Catholic Bishop and the 'Fake Shepherds'

Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan
Bishop Schneider: Govt’s are using COVID-19 as pretext to ‘persecute’ Church | Blogs | LifeSite

Never being slow to play the persecution card, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan, has declared the Covid-19 lockdown to be a global conspiracy to persecute Christians by forcing churches to close.

In March this year he told the Catholic News magazine, Life Site News:

Directives canceling all public Masses “are a pure human law; however, the supreme law in the Church is the salvation of souls”.

Covidiots - Dettol Cure (Not True, But Could Be)

Fake News - But not THAT fake

The story about a South African pastor killing 59 people by listening to Trump's idiotic suggestion and giving them Dettol to drink to cure Covid-19 is fake. It did not happen!

At least it did not happen then and to cure Covid-19.

It happened in December 2016 in the AK Spiritual Christian Church, Makgodu, Limpopo, where 'Prophet' Rufus Phala gave his unfortunate congregation Dettol to drink, telling them it would cure them of sickness.

'Prophet' Phala told his congregation that God had told him to give them the Dettol to drink and that he had received several WhatsApp messages from people telling him they had been healed by it.

There are no records of anyone dying as a result of this faith-based stupidity.

A few weeks earlier, 'Prophet' Lethebo Rabelago of Mount Zion Christian Church, Mathibela, Limpopo, had sprayed the congregation with the toxic insecticide 'Doom', telling them it would cure them of all sickness. He has now been banned from spraying anything on his congregation by the Limpopo High Court. His lawyer, Edmond Lubisi, had claimed 'Prophet' Rabelago had prayed over the insecticide, making it holy.

Phophi Ramathuba of the Health Department, welcomed the court ruling and announced that her department would be running various programmes to help poor and vulnerable people understand the effects of these 'unusual practices' performed on them by these pastors.

Sunday 24 May 2020

Why Americans Are Losing Faith

Internet Access and Growth in 'Nones'
How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion | MIT Technology Review

This article in MIT Technology Review is from 2014 but, if anything the correlation is likely to be even more marked today as the increase in non-affiliation (Nones) in USA has increased considerably in the last six years, as has rejection of creationism as an explanation for the existence of humans and of biodiversity.

Data from University of Chicago's General Social Survey, which has been collecting cohort data since 1972, was analysed by Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts who came up with the following major causes of this decline in religious affiliation in the USA:

Covidiots - South Korea's Wackadoodle Christians

88 year-old Lee Man-hee, "the Second Coming of Jesus"
Prosecutors raid branches of religious group at center of coronavirus outbreak

A wackadoodle Christian cult in South Korea has been linked to 50-60% of Covid-19 deaths. Now the cult's leader faces homicide charges! The cult was founded by Lee Man-hee who claims to be the Second Coming of Jesus. His followers believe the Bible contains secret messages and metaphors that only he can understand (where have we heard that before?).

They also believe they are immune to disease. Now 1.2 million South Koreans are calling for the cult to be disbanded.

According to this report in The Korea Herald

Saturday 23 May 2020

Another Deconversion - Jon Steingard, Star of Christian Rock

Jon Steingard, ex-Christian Atheist.
Jon Steingard, Star of Christian Rock, Admits on Instagram He’s Lost His Faith | Terry Firma | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Jon Steingard is the latest in a long list of former evangelical Christians who realised their faith was vacuous when they began to examine it. He is now an Atheist and has told his followers so on Instagram.

He joined the Christian rock group Hawk Nelson in 2004 but had become increasing uncomfortable performing on stage to praise God because of his growing doubts about the existence of a god and the authenticity of the Bible. At last, unable to live with the dishonesty and pretense any longer, he 'confessed' his deconversion in an Instagram message to his followers.

Thursday 21 May 2020

Creationism News - Another Gap Closing!

Amino Acid Chirality chirality with hands from http://www.nai.arc.nasa.gov/ A "chiral" molecule is one that is not superposable with its mirror image. Like left and right hands that have a thumb, fingers in the same order, but are mirror images and not the same, chiral molecules have the same things attached in the same order, but are mirror images and not the same. Although most amino acids can exist in both left and right handed forms, Life on Earth is made of left handed amino acids, almost exclusively.
Source: Wikipedia

Cosmic rays may have left indelible imprint on early life, Stanford physicist says

One of the creationist 'gap' arguments you see pulled out of the toy box and dusted off once in a while is the so-called 'chirality' or handedness problem. The reason it's used so infrequently is probably because so few creationists have the capacity to understand what the term 'chirality' means. The 'problem' is to explain why all amino acids (and so biological proteins) and sugars are composed only of one enantiomere, 'L' in the case of amino acids and 'D' in the case of sugars.

Like so many creationist presuppositional 'gap' arguments, the answer is that the presupposed god did it. No evidence need ever be offered of the existence of this god nor any explanation of how or why it did whatever it is claimed to have done. 'Magic' and 'mystery' satisfy a creationist.

But now this creationist-satisfying gap might have closed according to a paper published in The Astrophysics Journal Letters by two STanford University physicists, Noemie Globus and Roger D. Blandford.

Taylor Kubota of Stanford News Service explains:

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Covidiots - Georgia's Christian Slow Learners

Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle Christians ignoring social distancing advice and spreading Covid-19 anmongst themselves.
After Reopening in April, Georgia Church Closes Again Following Virus Outbreak | Beth Stoneburner | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

After several weeks of campaigning and complaints that they were being denied their constitutional right not to take part in the nation-wide attempt to limit the spread of Covid-19 by staying at home instead of going to church, Georgia's Christian Covidiots finally got their way when Republican governor Brian Kemp finally caved into demands and lifted the ban on gatherings.

Catoosa Baptist Tabernacle, in Ringgold,promptly opened its doors for personal services and, as this photo shows, ignored the advice on social distancing, even allowing children to be put at risk. However, only about 25% of the normal congregation were foolish enough to attend.

Malevolent Designer News - Dental Caries!

With powerful microscopy, researchers were able to visualize the structure of a tooth decay-causing biofilm growing on toddlers’ teeth. The organism primarily responsible for cavities, Streptococcus mutans, labeled in green, shields itself under layers of other bacteria, enabling it stick stubbornly to the enamel.
Image credit: Dongyeop Kim
Cavity-causing bacteria assemble an army of protective microbes on human teeth | Penn Today

Next time your dentist tells you you need some work done to stop your teeth rotting away, or to prevent painful abscesses forming in your gums, you know who to thank for it.

According to creationists it was the work of a brilliant intelligent [sic] designer who designed the bacterium,Streptococcus mutans to create the caries. Scientists have now worked out how this brilliant design works, according to an open access paper published a couple of days ago in PNAS.

According to Penn Today, the University of Pennsylvania news magazine:

Covidiots - Magic Cure Pastor Dies of Covid-19

Pastor Frankline Ndifor, "Prophet and faith-healer"
Panic Grips Faithful After Cameroon COVID Pastor Dies | Voice of America - English

Sad news from Cameroon that another victim of religion has died of Covid-19. Pastor Frankline Ndifor, a candidate in Cameroon's last presidential election, head of the Kingship International Ministries Church and popular purveyor of magic faith 'healing', died at his home in Douala a week after contracting the Covid-19 virus, probably when laying his magic hands on another victim.

According to this report in Voice of America, by Moki Edwin Kindzeka, his death has provoked panic in his congregation, many of whom had fallen for his bogus claims and regarded him as a prophet.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Malevolent Designer - God Hates Millipedes

The photo of the American centipede shared on Twitter. The fungi can be seen in the small red circles towards the top.
Credit: Derek Hennen.
New bizarre species discovered on… Twitter - University of Copenhagen

Discoveries like this present intelligent [sic] design creationists with two choices.

They can either accept that their putative designer creates things because it hates some of its creation and behaves like a malevolent influence in the World who actively seeks to increase suffering in ever-more inventive ways, or things like this evolve naturally while their god just sits back and allows it to happen.

Neither of these choices leave their designer resembling an omnibenevolent god who wishes to minimise the amount of suffering or who loves its creation.

Monday 18 May 2020

Malevolent Designer News - Covid-19 Devastating Church Congregations

Raul Luis Lopez’s funeral, at the house in Queens where the delivery worker lived, is the first Reverend Fabian Arias has presided over in a private home.
These Two New York City Churches Lost a Hundred Members to COVID | Terry Firma | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Despite the regular claims by religious fruitloops that they are magically immune to Covid-19, having been protected with magic spells or potions and having been 'washed in the blood of Christ' [sic], and even claims that Covid-19 is God's punishment on specific people like Atheists, pro-choice 'liberals' and other members of the conservative Christian demonology, as this CNN article shows, Christians are being hit at least as badly as others and probably more so. (Cue: the 'no true Scotsmen' fallacy - "well, they're not true Christians!")

It is also clear from this report, that racial/ethnic minorities are being hit disproportionately, just as we are finding in the UK where black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups have been hit twice as hard as the white population.

Sunday 17 May 2020

Covidiots - India's Fools' Gold

'Saint' Sobhan Sarker, aka 1008 Viraktanand Saraswati, aka Suryabhan Tiwari
Looked 'beneath the Earth' and saw a thousand tons of magic gold!
Police Book 4,100 Who Crowded Godman’s Funeral in India Despite COVID Rules | Terry Firma | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Covidiocy appears to be a characteristic of most religions, including Hinduism, if these Hindu Covidiots are anything to go by.

Despite the nationwide lockdown as India battles against Covid-19, thousands of people forced their way past police lines to attend the funeral in Kanpur last Wednesday, of self-styled Godman, Sobhan Saker, aka 1008 Viraktanand Saraswati, aka Suryabhan Tiwari. 4,100 have been charged with lockdown violations. Sakar was regarded by his followers as a sadhu or saint. He claimed he could see "beyond the sky and beneath the Earth".

Saturday 16 May 2020

Mormons for Child Abuse

Fundamentalist Mormons demonstrating in support of polygamy (and the right of their men to abuse women and children).
Utah decriminalises polygamy. Opponents are outraged | Barry Duke

According to this report by CNN, the state of Utah has reduced to penalty for polygamy from being a third degree felony punishable with up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine to that of a misdemeanor on the same scale as a traffic offence.

Polygamy, allowing a man to have several wives, had once been a central tenet of Mormonism and the practice that led to their moving to Utah to found their own colonies, free from the persecution of the mostly Christian states which outlawed the practice. It was the issue that kept Utah out of the Union until, in the nick of time, God revealed to the leaders of the church that marriage was now the union of one man with one woman, for life, just as it was in the other states.

Malevolent Designer News - How Malaria was Designed to Maximise the Harm

The malaria parasites growing inside this infected red blood cell (blue) will eventually burst out in unison with millions of other parasites lurking in red blood cells around them. This feat of timing is coordinated by the parasite’s internal clock.
Malaria Parasite Ticks to its Own Internal Clock | Duke Today

A paper published a couple of days ago in Nature explains just how meticulously, creationism's intelligent [sic] designer has designed the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium falciparum to maximise its ability to harm and kill people - if you believe that superstition that is.

So successful has its design been that it randomly kills a child every two minutes.

Friday 15 May 2020

Unkind Monster Problem for Creationists

A reconstruction of the Tully Monster as it would have looked 300 million years ago, swimming in the Carboniferous seas. Notice the jointed proboscis, the multiple rows of teeth, and the dorsal eye bar.
Illustration by Sean McMahon / Yale University
Solving the mystery of the Tully Monster | YaleNews

The natural world can be so unkind to Creationists sometimes.

The case of the so-called Tully Monster, Tullimonstrum gregarium which has puzzled taxonomists for years might have been solved, according to a paper published today on Nature, which seems to end the debate, coming out firmly on the side of it being a vertebrate.

This is based on A combination of new evidence and modern approaches to phylogenetic analysis by a team from Yale led by Victoria E. McCoy of the Department of Geology and Geophysics.

Fossils of Tullimonstrum gregarium are found in the Mazon Creek fossil beds which have been dated to 309 million yeas ago. It had been variously classified as a molluscs, an arthropod, a conodont, a worm, and a vertebrate. About the only thing that could be agreed on was that it was a soft-bodied bilaterium.

Human Remains From 40,000 Years Before Creationists Say God Created Earth!

Stone artefacts found at Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria
Longer overlap for modern humans and Neanderthals - BBC News

A couple of papers published a few days ago, here and here, show that modern (Homo sapiens) humans entered Eurasia at least 46,000 years ago. This is some 2,000 years earlier than previous finds suggest and mean that moderns had much longer to interact with their cousin species, the Neanderthals, H. neanderthalensis, before the latter went extinct.

Human remains, found in a the floor of a Bacho Kiro cave in northern Bulgaria, including multiple bone fragments, and a tooth, have been dated to between 46,000 and 43,000 years old. Analysis of the DNA recovered by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, shows that they were the remains of H. sapiens. This places them within the IUP.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Evolution News - Another Beneficial Mutation

Cape honey bee workers laying parasitic eggs on a queen cell.

Photo credit: Benjamin Oldroyd
Virgin birth has scientists buzzing - The University of Sydney

I have often commented in this blog about how science without any effort or intent, casually refutes creationism by falsifying another of it's articles of faith, or sacred dogmas.

This paper on parthenogenic bees is yet another of these, as was the recent one on the transitional plant fossil. It illustrates how a mutation can be highly beneficial in the right environment. Creationist dogma says it can't be, of course, because all mutations are harmful and increase 'genetic entropy' - an argument made popular by Michael J Behe in his failed attempt to show that evolution is consistent with the Christian notion of 'the fall' because all evolution is really 'devolution' [sic].

Yet here we have a mutation in a subspecies of honeybee - the Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis) which is highly advantageous, enabling this subspecies to parasitise other honeybee colonies, to the extent that they present a serious threat to other honeybee populations.

Friday 8 May 2020

Covidiots - Alveda King - It's All About New York

Dr Alveda King
Alveda King: New York Has COVID Problems Because It’s “The Home of Abortion” | Beth Stoneburner | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

To be a dedicated American Covidiot it's essential to forget one thing - that unimportant place called "The Rest of the World".

Dr Alveda King, niece of the late Martin Luther King, has decided that the Covid-19 pandemic is all because abortions are legal in New York. Her god has decided to kill millions of people worldwide in places like China, India, Europe, Africa and South America to teach New Yorker a lesson - not Chinese, Indians, Brits, Italians or Spanish, but New Yorkers!

Thursday 7 May 2020

Covidiots - American Fundies Dying To Be Martyrs.

Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton
New Mexico Sheriff “Deputizes” 20 Christians, Exempting Them from Lockdown Order | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Two more stories of wackadoodle Christians demanding the right to catch Covid-19 in church today.

The first is from New Mexico where Sierra County Sheriff Glenn Hamilton has sworn in 20 Christians as "deputies", so exempting them from the state-wide ban on gatherings. He was exploiting an exemption from the ban on gatherings for law-enforcement officers.

Catholic Abuse News - Pell Knew About Child Sex Abuse

Cardinal George Pell speaking to the media at the in Rome in 2016 after giving evidence via video-link to Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images
George Pell: cardinal was aware of children being sexually abused, royal commission report finds | Australia news | The Guardian

According to this report in today's Guardian, The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has released previously redacted sections of their report which show that Cardinal Pell knew of instances of child abuse.

Pell was recently acquitted by the Australian High Court following his conviction and imprisonment for the sexual abuse of two choir boys, despite his defence lawyer arguing for leniency in the original sentence, on the grounds that the sex was 'vanilla sex' where penetration was brief and didn't result in ejaculation.

Winning With Science

Towards antibodies against COVID-19

What is noticeable more than anything during the current Covid-19 pandemic is the contrast between science and religion in how they see their responsibilities to the world at large.

On the one hand, we have religious leaders treating the whole thing as a get-rich-quick opportunity, selling magic spells and quack snake-oil cures to those gullible enough to fall for the scams and others campaigning to end the social distancing measures so they can continue to fleece their congregations.

On the other hand, we have hundreds of scientific research programs like this one, aimed at producing treatments and, in the long run, cures in the form of vaccines, whilst creationists continue to decry science as 'scientism' in an attempt to reduce it to the status of creationism as though it's also an evidence-free superstition.

This research program for example, has produced what could be a valuable treatment for people who already have the virus. It is an antibody that binds to and neutralises the 'spike' proteins that enable the virus to bind to the surface of a cell before inserting it's contents into it. If this treatment proves effective, it will prevent the virus infecting new cells and so damaging the tissues and producing more copies of itself.

Antibodies like this supplement the body's own defences but are relatively short lived because they don't stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies, unlike a vaccine which does just that. Hence they are useful as treatments but not prophylactics.

This is just one example of the multi-pronged attack on the Covid-19 virus being launched by medical science.

Apart from scamming their credulous dupes, what have religions been doing? In particular, what has the creation industry, which tells anyone who'll listen that it's definitely a science, not religion is disguise, been doing? Where are the creation 'science' laboratories in all this and what results have they produced?

None at all, of course. Although they will undoubtedly rush in to claim the credit for their god when we, as we will, have the cure and tha pandemic recedes into history. Hopefully, history will remember how it was science that produced the goods, whilst religions just used the opportunity to fleece the gullible and stupid and was quite prepared to spread the virus in pursuit of greater profits.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Covidiots - Russian Orthodox Fruitloops

Patriarch Kirill, in the white headdress, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, at a procession in Moscow last month. Experts say his reluctance to enforce orders against church gatherings has led to an explosion of coronavirus cases in monasteries and convents.

Photo credit: Patriarchal Press Service, via Reuters
A ‘Breakdown of Trust’: Pandemic Corrodes Church-State Ties in Russia - The New York Times

It might be some comfort to Americans that they are not the only people whose lives are being put at risk by religious nutjobs and fauds more interested in keeping their income stream flowing than in ensuring the health and safety of their families and society at large. Russian Orthodox Christian nutjobs are at it too.

According to this report in the New York Times:

A physics student at Moscow State University, Dmitri Pelipenko turned away from science in 2018 to devote himself to God, enrolling as a novice monk at Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Malevolent Design - Covid-19 Mutating

A colorized scanning electron micrograph of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Photo credit: NIAID
Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 offer insights into virus evolution

As I've remarked before, if you've fallen for the intelligent [sic] design hoax, you need to be able to explain why evolution is the only explanation for the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) that doesn't leave your putative creator looking like a malevolent, anthropophobic, genocidal psychopath.

That problem just got worse with publication by the University College, London (UCL) Genetics Institute that they have discovered close to 200 recurrent genetic mutations in the virus. They found these by examining the genomes of the virus recovered from 7,500 patients. Covid-19 looks for all the world like it's evolving, or, in ID hoax believers terms, being intelligent redesigned.

Coviots - Christian Pastors and Their Dupes Are Dying of the 'Phantom Plague'

Services at Life Tabernacle Church in the suburb of Baton Rouge, La., are continuing despite the governor’s order banning large gatherings to fight the spread of the coronavirus. On Sunday, 1,265 congregants attended morning services at the church, the pastor said.

Photo credit: Woody Jenkins / Central City News
'A phantom plague': America's Bible Belt played down the pandemic and even cashed in. Now dozens of pastors are dead | The Independent.

It is tempting to talk about Darwin Awards and score points about these sad deaths, but I need to keep reminding myself of the basic Humanism in John Donne's "No Man Is An Island" - "Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee."

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each person's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
Let's not forget that, no matter how stupid they were; no matter how brainwashed they had been to believe superstitious nonsense and carefully cultivated paranoias, these were still people; fooled by frauds and lied to by cheats who took advantage of their credulity, certainly, but still people.

If any good is to come of this tragic pandemic, it is that their sad deaths should remind us of the danger religion poses to humanity when it induces stupidity on this scale, puts money above people, and exploits the stupid and gullible to serve the naked greed and avarice of the frauds who promulgate it.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Evolution News - Yet Another Transitional Species

In this image of one of the new ancient species’ reproductive structures, elliptical impressions of sporangia can be seen in one row, while on the right, another row displays preserved carbonized spore masses.
Image credit: Andrew Leslie
New ancient plant captures snapshot of evolution | Stanford University.

What with their problem explaining why evolution is the only explanation for Covid-19 that doesn't leave their putative designer god looking like a malevolent, genocidal psychopath, the last thing creationists needed was another one of those annoying transitional species that so bedevil their precious dogma.

But here we are, with another one, announced just yesterday. This time an extinct plant showing evidence of transition from spores to seeds - an essential step in the evolution of the flowering plants, or angiosperms.

And once again without any effort or intent, science has again refuted creationism with evidence.

One of the major advances in plant evolution was when the gymnosperms (cone-bearing) and angiosperms (flowering) plants broke free from the constraints of the reproductive methods used by the ferns and club mosses, which required moist conditions to allow their motile male gametes to reach the sedentary female gametes.

Monday 4 May 2020

IDiot Designer Blunder - He Got The Wrong Species!

Scientists were inspired by antibodies produced by this llama, named Winter, to develop their antibody against SARS-CoV-2. Winter is four years old and still living on a farm in the Belgian countryside operated by Ghent University’s Vlaams Institute for Biotechnology.
Photo credit: Tim Coppens.
Antibodies from Llamas Could Help in Fight Against COVID-19 - UT News

You'd expect an intelligent designer to know what it's doing, wouldn't you?

Not so creationism's intelligent (sic) designer, it seems. It's only gone and given a species that doesn't even suffer from Covid-19 the ability to create immunity to it!

Researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA and the National Institutes of Health and Ghent University in Belgium have discovered that a llama produces two natural antibodies when vaccinated with Covid-19 'spike' proteins, that, when linked together:

...binds tightly to a key protein on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This protein, called the spike protein, allows the virus to break into host cells. Initial tests indicate that the antibody blocks viruses that display this spike protein from infecting cells in culture.

As the University of Austin press release explains:

When llamas’ immune systems detect foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses, these animals (and other camelids such as alpacas) produce two types of antibodies: one that is similar to human antibodies and another that’s only about a quarter of the size. These smaller ones, called single-domain antibodies or nanobodies, can be nebulized and used in an inhaler.

Covidiots - Covid-19 Problems for Theists.

The Covid-19 pandemic currently devastating economies and killing people by the tens of thousands is a major problem for religions, especially the Abrahamic religions who believe everything is created by a god who personally supervises and controls events, making things happen, or not happen, according to its will and plan.

For example:
  1. The question of how the virus arose. All the Abrahamic religions hold that there is a single creator god who alone is responsible for its creation. The entire intelligent (sic) design industry, popular with both Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, and probably with the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects, depends on the belief that everything is intelligently designed by an omniscient, omnipotent creator - who just happens to be similar in all respects to 'the one true God'.

    This god, so it is assumed, knows exactly what its creations will do. They will do precisely what it designed them to do, nothing more and nothing less, hence it deigned the Covid-19 virus to behave in exactly the way it is behaving - killing indiscriminately the believers and non-believers alike, and differentially selecting the elderly and sick to kill.

    The problem for these fundamentalists is that by any measure, this portrays their supposedly loving creator as a malevolent, anthropophilic, genocidal psychopath, and leaves the detested scientific explanation - mindless, unplanned and amoral evolution - as the only explanation that doesn't present their god in such an appalling light.

Sunday 3 May 2020

Covidiots - Followers of Bishop Climate Irungu Wiseman

Coronavirus: London church selling ‘plague protection kits' for £90 consisting of oil and red yarn | The Independent

Perhaps Americans can feel a little less embarrassed by the antics of their religious fundamentalist when they learn that we in the UK are plagued with them too. This example is from Camberwell in London where 'Bishop' Climate Irungu Wiseman of the Kingdom Church is cashing in on the Covid-19 pandemic emergency by selling a quack 'cure' for £91 for a 'kit'.

The kit consists of a bottle of 'Divine Plague Protection Oil' and a length of red yarn. 'Bishop' Wideman, who runs Bishop Climate Ministries claims:

It is by faith that you can be saved from every pandemic by covering yourself with the Divine Cleansing Oil and wearing the Scarlet Yarn on your body. That is why I want to encourage you, if you haven’t done so already, to get your Divine Plague Protection Kit today! Available to order online and ship to you right away.... That is why the Lord has instructed me to prepare special oil that has been mixed with cedar wood, hyssop, and prayer. Yes this special oil has sat upon the altar for 7 days. It’s called Divine Cleansing protection Oil. As you use this oil, along with a special scarlet yarn, every plague and any other deadly thing will pass over you. Just like the children of Israel were spared from death, just like Rahab and her family were saved from destruction, the same will happen for you.

Saturday 2 May 2020

Malevolent Design - Does 'God' Hate Honey Bees More Than Humans?

Honey bees
Photo credit: Newcasle University
Emergence of deadly honey bee disease revealed - Press Office - Newcastle University

If you buy into the creationist hoax of intelligent (sic) design, you must wonder why the putative designer is being so hateful at the moment. Not only do you need to explain it's apparent malevolent, genocidal mendacity in designing the Covid-19 virus to indiscriminately kill people, but we now hear that it's apparently designed another nasty little virus.

This one is a virus that is spreading quickly in the UK and which kills honey bees, often wiping out the entire hive, as though the Varroa destructor mite wasn't doing it quickly enough. It's as though this putative intelligent (sic) designer hates honey bees almost as much as it hates humans.

More Evidence of Americans Losing Faith

This Chart Shows How Quickly Americans Are Abandoning Organized Religion | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

More evidence, if any were needed of the steep and accelerating decline in religiosity in the USA as more and more Americans turn their backs on organised religion.

This evidence comes in the form of a report released yesterday, by Adjunct Fellow Lyman Stone for the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, which should set alarm bells ringing in the ears of those whose livelihood depends on Americans continuing to go to church and support them with money. This chart, based on data from multiple sources and methodologies shows how all the measures of religiosity show the same thing - American religiosity has fallen off a cliff edge and is plummeting downwards at an accelerating rate.

Friday 1 May 2020

Thank You For Being Humankind Again!

It's with great pleasure that I can report another donation to Oxfam from money I get for advertising Amazon products on this blog. This time a donation of £100.02. This sum has been slowly accumulating in my account with Amazon and finally triggered a payment by crossing the £100 threshold (just!).

This time I have donated the money to Oxfam's Coronavirus Emergency appeal. I produce all relevant receipts here because in previous years these donations have produced a near-hysterical response from fundamentalist Christians and online scammers which Oxfam GB needed to become involved with, to verify that all donations had been paid as reported.

It seems that professed Christianity is no barrier to bearing false witness nor trying to prevent charitable donations aimed at bringing famine relief to those less fortunate than ourselves, so I hereby give Oxfam GB permission to reveal all details of my contributions to Oxfam, other than details of my name and address, should anyone wish to verify this donation.

Should you wish to support me in this small fundraising effort, please buy products from Amazon through this blog. On a laptop, scroll down to the Oxfam search tool and search there. This will then record the search against my account. The other way is to click on the Amazon ads for books and other products. Basically, clicking any ad bearing the Amazon logo will be recorded against my account.

Regrettably, Amazon are unable or unwilling to make these commission payments directly to a nominated charity.

Of course, you can always make a donation directly to Oxfam, here.

From Oxfam's website:

Covidiots - Magi Spell

Covidiots ignore social distancing and put their children at risk in support of Pastor Tony Spell's bid for martyrdom and in defence of Christian privilege.
Phone lines at Central police are 'tied up' by calls from Tony Spell supporters, officials say | Coronavirus | theadvocate.com

As part of Pastor Tony Spell's campaign for martyrdom and the right to spread the Covid-19 virus as widely as possible in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, supporters have now blocked the local police departments phone system after his mother, Magi Spell, published their phone number on her Facebook page and asked people to ring it.

Supporters are also demonstrating outside the Louisiana governors house demanding a lifting of the house arrest order intended to prevent Spell from holding church services in defiance of the social distancing order forbidding gatherings of more than ten people.
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