F Rosa Rubicondior: June 2020

Monday 29 June 2020

Talibangelical News - SCOTUS Strikes Down Louisiana Restriction on Abortion

Chief Justice John Roberts. Voted with the liberals.
US top court strikes down law limiting abortions - BBC News

Conservative Christian hopes of using the Trump-given conservative majority on SCOTUS to force their religious bigotry into law took another blow today when, by a majority of 5-4, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts voting with the liberals, SCOTUS struck down a restriction on abortion services in Louisiana.

Only a few days ago, SCUTUS enraged fundamentalist Christians by confirming that all Americans, of whatever sexuality, are entitled to the full protection of the law, so cannot be sacked on the grounds of their sexuality.

Making Excuses for God's Psychopathy

The Battle, Nicholas Poussin (1594-1665)
Sporting contest, biblical style.
Christian Apologist: God’s Calls for Genocide Were Just “Figures of Speech” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

It's a mark of just how far decent Humanist values have penetrated into Christianity that Christian apologists are now having to make excuses for the things God supposedly ordered in the Bible that nowadays would be thought of as barbaric and unacceptable - the actions of a tyrannical war-criminal.

When it was written in the Bronze Age, no doubt the terrible things they wrote about God ordering were the sort of things you would expect a powerful despotic tribal leader to order his people to do, so, naturally, any self-respecting god would be expected to behave the same way. A brutal, merciless tyrant who rewards his loyal followers with plenty of land, war-booty and women captives and in return sanctions and glorifies their savage and brutal behaviour.

Talibangelical Christian Subversion in Mississippi

Mississippi State flag, adopted 1894, 29 years after the South lost the covil war.
Look away, Dixie: Mississippi to lose rebel emblem from flag

The extremist Christian campaign to subvert the US Constitution and impose a fundamentalist theocracy on the people, moved a small step towards its goal in Mississippi last Sunday.

The Mississippi legislature passed a bill to set up a commission to redesign the state flag to remove the racist Confederate Battle Flag and replace it with one which must incorporate the words "In God we trust". In other words, the Mississippi state government has at last accepted that the South lost the civil war and has jumped at the chance the "Black Lives Matter" campaign has created to establish Christianity, or at least theism into the state flag and to endorse a religion that 14% (and growing) of the population don't believe in.

Sunday 28 June 2020

Catholic Abuse News - A Massive Increase in Complaints

The U.S. Catholic Church Spent $281,611,817 on Child Sex Abuse Cases in 2019 | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

In the year ending June 2019, the number of allegations of sex abuse by US Catholic clergy quadrupled to an astonishing 4,434 cases - up from 1451 cases the previous year, according to an annual audit of more than 200 diocese and Catholic Church entities produced by CARA.

The report also highlights the fact that child abuse is continuing in Church establishments and that there is complacency with continued failure to publish reporting procedures, poor recordkeeping of background checks, dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards and a lack of formal monitoring priests who have been removed from ministry.

Far-Right Raging at 'Non-White' Jesus

GraphicaArtis/Getty Images
White people are furious that the archbishop of Canterbury said Jesus shouldn't always be white | indy100

The raving right in Britain are incensed at Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby's statement of the obvious on BBC Radio 4's Today Program that Jesus was not a white man.

Welby made this statement in response to the "Black Lives Matter" movement's campaign to have statuary and representations of racists and removed and the general review and reassessment of institutionalised racism in society, following another casual killing of a black man by white police in America.

Saturday 27 June 2020

Talibangelical Christian Pastors Throw a Tantrum

Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
American Pastors Network Says Supreme Court's LGBTQ Ruling Undermines Biblical Order and Invites God's Judgment | Right Wing Watch

Stung by the SCOTUS ruling that the law applies to all Americans, a group of fundamentalist Christian pastors have thrown a collective tantrum and are now threatening people with their imaginary friend.

They had expected SCOTUS, with it's Trump-given right-wing majority, to join with them in victimising and persecuting people from the LGBTQ community by agreeing that they could be freely discriminated against when it comes to employment rights. Instead SCOTUS ruled by a clear 6-3 majority, that federal sex discrimination protections extend to gay and transgender workers, making clear that employees cannot be fired under federal law simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Friday 26 June 2020

Covidiots - Getting Even More Loopy As the Second Wave Hits

More than 20m Americans could have contracted Covid-19, experts say | US news | The Guardian

Due at least in part to the campaign by covidiot evangelical Christians, more than 20 million Americans could now have contracted Covid-19, according to CDC.

This new information is based on serology tests for the presence of antibodies that have shown, for every person with symptoms who tested positive for antibodies, a further 10 also tested positive. With the number of known cases nearing 2.4 million, multiplying those together gives the 20 million + estimate.

Thursday 25 June 2020

Covidiots - Christians For Covid-19

FL Christians Condemn Face Masks for Blocking “God’s Wonderful Breathing System” | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

It's easy, and accurate, to place the blame for the deepening Covid-19 crisis in the USA on the inept and incompetent Donald Trump, but we also have to place some of the blame on those credulous idiots who elected him and who continue to support him - the right-wing Trumpanzee evangelical Christians who, as a requirement of their faith, have forsworn the use of reason to embrace infantile conspiracy theories.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Covidiot News - White Evangelicals Least Bothered About Others

White Evangelicals’ Coronavirus Concerns Are Fading Faster...... | News & Reporting | Christianity Today

You would expect evangelical (i.e fundamentalist) Christians to be the most compassionate, most caring and most concerned for the welfare of their fellow humans, given their fundamental belief that we are all created by the same god who holds each of us in the same high regard, and give the alleged teaching of Jesus that loving your neighbour is second in importance only to loving God.

The reality is something very different, as their response to the Covid-19 pandemic is showing. There is something in the mindset of evangelicals that make them the least concerned, the most cavalier and the most selfish in their attitude toward collective responsibility for reducing the spread of the virus, as a recent poll showed.

Ireland - Where Religion Poisoned Everything

The Great Famine
“[The famine is an] effective mechanism for reducing surplus population [as well as] the judgement of God… The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people.”

Charles Trevelyan, letter to Lord Monteagle of Brandon

Trevelyan's repugnant words, typical of English upper-class thinking of the time, illustrates just how much religion played in the response to the Irish Potato Famine, just as it had played a major part in setting the conditions for it to happen in the first place. Although the anti-Catholic Penal Laws begun by Cromwell and later extended, had been repealed, the repeal was too recent to have altered the distribution of land which was still heavily tilted in favour of Protestants, who were the main landlords, especially in the south and west of the island, and Catholics owned little or none of it.

I explain this in detail in my popular book A History of Ireland: How Religion Poisoned Everything:

Holy Bodgers! Hilarious Art Restorations in Spain

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s original work (left) and two attempts at restoring a copy of it.
Photograph: Cedida por Coleccionista/Europa Press 2020
Source: The Guardian
Another botched artwork restoration leaves Spain in stitches | Barry Duke

And now a little bit of light relief from the accounts of covidiot religiots helping to spread the Covid-19 virus and turn places of worship into major Covid-19 hotspots.

Another Spanish restorer has managed to create mirth amongst the increasingly irreligious Spanish.

Following the 'success' of the hilarious restoration by octogenarian Cecilia Gimenez, of the Ecce Homo fresco in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, which turned Jesus into what looked like a monkey, an art collector employed a furniture restorer to restore his copy of Bartolomé Esteban Murillo’s, 1687 painting of the Virgin Mary, entitled The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerable. The result left Mary looking more like Jezebel. Mercifully, Murillo made a number of copies of this major work.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Evolution News - How Long-Tailed Tits Avoid Incest

Long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus
Source: ebird.org
Long-tailed tits avoid incest by recognising the calls of relatives | EurekAlert! Science News

The long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus is one of my all-time favourite birds. And now they illustrate a fascinating aspect of evolution - how something evolved for one purpose can be co-opted and used for another. In this case, the constant twittering they make to maintain flock cohesion and to identify members of their extended family groups, is used to avoid incestuous breeding.

You can come across these lovely little birds in woods, especially in autumn and winter, when suddenly you realise the trees are alive with little twittering black, buff-orange and white birds, constantly on the go as they move through the trees foraging for small insects in groups of maybe a couple of dozen, constantly twittering and calling. Then, just as suddenly as they arrived, they're gone.

Bad News for Creationists - Filling the Abiogenesis Gap

The characteristic (HhH)2 fold and its binding to the minor groove of a modern DNA molecule. How did the first ones form?
Which Came First?

It's another day when scientists incidentally and without conscious effort, refute creationism with science.

One of creationism favourite god-filled gaps is the question of abiogenesis with constant questions about where the first proteins came from and how they self-assembled from non-living raw materials. This paper answers them. It details the findings of a team of scientists led by Prof. Dan Tawfik of the Weizmann Institute of Science and Prof. Norman Metanis of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and including scientists from Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

Sadly, once again a scientific paper of wide general interest is behind a firewall, however we have a news article from the Weizmann Institute of Science to explain the research:

Stickleback Setback for Creationism

Three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus

Parallel evolution in three-spined sticklebacks – what happens in the Eastern Pacific, stays in the Eastern Pacific | University of Helsinki

Three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus, are common in streams and lakes all over the Northern Hemisphere but what is not generally known is that they are a marine species inhabiting inshore waters, which, since the retreat of the ice sheets since the last ice age has repeatedly migrated into fresh-water environments as these became available for exploitation. Lake Windermere in England's Lake District, for example, has two different populations of three-spined stickleback which occupy different regions of the lake and which are probably derived from two different colonisations.

As we would expect, given that there is generally not that much variation in the environments in different river systems in the same part of the world, there is considerable parallel evolution between different, isolated populations. However, this degree of parallelism is much more marked in populations originating in the Eastern Pacific coastal waters and less so in the Western Pacific and in the Atlantic where much more genetic and morphological variation is found.

Monday 22 June 2020

More Powerful Old Dead Gods of Wiltshire

Distribution of features over a composite Lidar and OS profile data derived digital surface model (shaded) with OS 10k overlay © Environment Agency copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Lidar Composite DTM 2m resolution, Scale 1:8000 and 1m resolution, Scale 1:4000; © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 OS 1:10000 Scale and Profile DTM Raster, Scale 1:10K; EDINA Digimap Ordnance Survey Service (100025252)
A Massive, Late Neolithic Pit Structure associated with Durrington Walls Henge. Internet Archaeology 55.

A major new discovery in the landscape of Wiltshire, England, associated with Durrington Walls, shows the immense power that must have been wielded in the name of some long-forgotten god or gods some 4,500 years ago. The labour-force needed to construct structures like Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and and Durrington Walls indicates an economy and political organization able to provide and command this labour-force as well as to supply it with food - which would need some form of tax on those who were producing it.

This in turn suggests a ruling class that would have needed more than simple force of arms. It suggests an elite ruling with divine sanction, probably in the form of priest-kings and a fearful population who believed the priests and gods were necessary to ensure continuity of the seasons and the success of the crops. It's likely that these structures played an important part in the religious rituals, so there was a strong motive for constructing them.

Covidiots - Covid-19 is Killing Fewer Non-Believers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by religious group, England and Wales - Office for National Statistics

Despite all the promises that God will protect the righteous from Covid-19, and the forlorn hope that somehow it was going to kill off people with whom the self-righteous fundamentalists disagree, the facts are turning out to be something very different. Covid-19 is killing more religious people than non-believers, according to figures provided by the UK Office of National statistics.

The reasons for this are many and complex and probably more related ethnicity than to religion (and incidentally a reflection of how religion tends to be inherited with ethnicity rather than something arrived at after objective analysis of the evidence) but one thing is certain: there is no evidence that a deity is using the virus to punish non-believers or to reward believers in any one religion. Jews, Muslims and Christians are no safer for their piety whereas non-believers for a number of reasons are being statistically less affected by the virus.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Covidiot News - Christians for Greed and Selfishness

'Churches don't make health policy,' Pallister says in face of petition for full-capacity service | CBC News

Wouldn't it be nice to hear religious leaders just once telling their followers that Covid-19 is a serious and present danger to us all and, as good, caring people they are going to be doing everything they can to reduce its spread and so reduce the number of people dying or made sick buy it. That they'll willingly close their doors and forego the usual income from passing the plate around during services, because no sacrifice is too good much for the people they love.

I'm not saying there aren't Christian leaders who think and say those things, but they are silenced by the loud whining and clamour for the right to ignore the lockdowns and social distancing orders and put anyone and everyone at risk just to maintain their income and their grip in the local community.

This is no less true in Manitoba, Canada than it is in the US Bible Belt where defiant churches are becoming Covid-19 hotspots.

Christians For Genocide

Pastor Tupirani da Hora Lores of the Geracao Jesus Cristo church, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazilian pastor prays for second Holocaust to 'destroy the Jews like vermin' | The Times of Israel

In a chilling reminder of how inter-religious rivalry can result in hatred so intense that one side advocates (and often practices) genocide against the other, a pastor in the Geracao Jesus Cristo church sect in Brazil is advocating another Jewish Holocaust! The Geracao Jesus Cristo Church is a radical, Christian evangelical sect in Rio de Janeiro.

In a service in which the congregation joined in by echoing his words, Pastor Tupirani da Hora Lores called upon God to:

Saturday 20 June 2020

Talibangelical Subversion in Tennessee

Capitol Building, Nashville, Tennessee
Tennessee lawmakers pass fetal heartbeat abortion bill backed by governor - CNNPolitics

Christian talibangelicals, seeking to impose theocratic laws on Americans despite the constitutional bar on the establishment of any religion in the US, have scored a minor triumph in Tennessee, with a law which effectively denies the women of Tennessee the same rights as other American women as established by the Supreme Court in Wade vs Roe.

Tennessee legislators yesterday passed a bill which makes termination of pregnancy a criminal offence, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 dollars, if performed after the developing embryo has a detectable heartbeat. The only exception is when the mother's life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy. Pregnancy resulting from rape or incest are not exempt.

Christian Fruitloops For Trump2

Kat Kerr, Prophetess and personal friend of Jesus
Christian “Prophetess”: I Told 100,000,000 Angels to Protect the GOP Convention | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos.

The Grand Old Party; the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and one of the two great parties of American democracy has degenerated to the point where this is almost considered mainstream. A fruitloop Christian Trumpanzee who has declared herself to be a prophetess, has ordered 100 million angels to protect the GOP National Congress. She has already given them their orders and placed them at strategic locations around the town.

Clearly, America's mental health services leave a great deal to be desired:

Christian Anti-Gay Bullying Suffers a Setback

One of the nation's largest conversion therapy networks is disbanding.

According to psychologists, obsessive homophobia is very often a sign of repressed homosexuality. Never was this better illustrated than in the once-popular 'gay conversion therapy' organizations which burgeoned in the USA, as the demand for LGBTQ rights grew. Now, having lost many of their leading advocates, these organizations are almost gone. Very many of their leading lights have come out as gay themselves and acknowledged the harm they did to others in their attempts to come to terms with their own latent homosexuality.

One such was Hope for Wholeness founder and head, McKrae Game, who stunned the movement last August by publically coming out and renouncing the 'therapy' as a fraud and the program as torture which did enormous harm to its victims - victims who were only made to feel in need of 'treatment' by the religion that them sold it regardless of the harm it was doing. Having defined a natural impulse was a 'sin' or mental illness, churches then sought to profit from selling a cure for an illness that didn't exist and which inflicted real mental illness on their victims to the extent that many committed suicide.

It was the realisation of the harm he was doing to his victims that finally drove McKrae Game to renounce his faith and the organization he founded and condemn it as 'false advertising'.

But McKrae Game was not the first. In 2014, nine founders and leaders of the most prominent gay torture organisations wrote an open letter, published online by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, calling for these 'conversion therapies' to be banned, declaring:

As former ex-gay leaders, having witnessed the incredible harm done to those who attempted to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, we join together in calling for a ban on conversion therapy. It is our firm belief that it is much more productive to support, counsel, and mentor LGBTQ individuals to embrace who they are in order to live happy, well-adjusted lives.

Now, having failed to appoint a successor to lead the Spartanburg, South Carolina-based Hope for Wholeness scam, the board have decided to throw in the towel and close down. Despite this, the organisation is still advertising its torture sessions to those who have been shamed by religion into believing they are ill with:

Hope for Wholeness exists so that those who struggle with homosexuality can find freedom to live according to God's design. Genesis 1:27 We accomplish this by not trying to "change" people, but instead walk beside them and encourage them on their journey to wholeness in Christ. We are all fallen, and walk together in our collective imperfection. We are not anti-gay or political in any way. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for answering questions, help with resources, prayer, and encouragement. We ask for your support in our efforts to impacting those affected by homosexuality, same-sex attractions, and transgenderism, as well as opportunities to walk with those who do not struggle with these issues but share in similar sexual and relational brokenness.

Note the false claim "We are not anti-gay" in a paragraph that equates homosexuality with being abnormal (not designed by God) or incomplete ([lacking] wholeness in Christ) and talks of "those affected by homosexuality, same-sex attractions, and transgenderism"

Despite telling NBC:

It has been a tumultuous several years for us. We lost the founding director, searched for two years for his replacement, hired a new director and then lost that director as well,” the memo, which was signed by the group’s board, states. “After much prayer and discussion, we have made the difficult decision to dissolve the organization. This was not an easy decision. But we do believe it is the right decision.

The scam organization is still appealing for funds on its website and makes no mention of its impending closer. It is also unrepentant, pledging to donate its (undisclosed) assets to another gay-abuse organization, Abba's Delight, an affiliated organization, based in Louisville, Kentucky and having broadly similar aims and methods as Hope for Wholeness.

so long as there are victims to bully for money and so long as there are impressionable people who can be fooled into believing perfectly natural desires and feeling are 'sinful', there will be frauds stepping forward to take their money, with not a hint of conscience about the harm they are doing.

These repugnant charlatans hide behind Christianity and blame their behaviour on Bronze Age superstitions written in a 'holy' book.

Covidiot News - California Church Helping to Spread Covid-19

Pastor Michael Jacobsen.
Butte County CA church thwarted COVID-19 contact tracing | The Sacramento Bee

Loving thy neighbour as thyself, which according to Matthew 22:37-40 is second only in importance to loving God, doesn't seem to extend to protecting thy neighbour against deadly viruses, if Pastor Michael Jacobsen, leader of Palermo Bible Family Church in Butte County, California is anything to go by, according to this report in Sacramento Bee.

According to Ryan Sabalow and Tony Bizjak:

Bad Samaritans. Religious People Less Compassionate Than Atheists

Hate thy neighbour!
False witnessing for a god who allegedly forbade false witnessing!
Atheists More Motivated by Compassion than the Faithful | Live Science

Despite purporting to believe in a god who told people to do unto others what they would want others to do unto them, and despite Jesus allegedly making up a tale about a 'good' Samaritan to show you don't need to be Christian to be good, you just need empathy, and that anyone who needs your help is 'thy neighbour' whom you should love, religious people tend to be less caring and compassionate than Atheists, according to recent research. Their work is to be published in the Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science on 12 July and builds on the same team's findings published last April in the same journal

In that paper, a research team reported finding that compassion is greater amongst less religious people, who so tend to be more generous. The team tested the hypothesis that, with fewer religious expectations of prosociality, less religious individuals’ levels of compassion will play a larger role in their prosocial tendencies. They found, as the results of three separate studies that:

  1. Compassion was more critical to the generosity of less religious people.
  2. Increased generosity among less religious individuals but not among more religious individuals
  3. Feelings of compassion predicted increased generosity across a variety of economic tasks for less religious individuals but not among more religious individuals.

Although that paper is firewalled, the experiments were described in LiveScience:

  • In the first study, Saslow and her colleagues analyzed data from a national survey of more than 1,300 American adults taken in 2004. They found that compassionate attitudes were linked with how many generous behaviors a person was likely to report. But this link was strongest in people who were atheists or only slightly religious, compared with people who were more strongly religious.
  • In a second experiment, 101 adults were shown either a neutral video or an emotional video about children in poverty. They were then given 10 fake dollars and told they could give as much as they liked to a stranger. Those who were less religious gave more when they saw the emotional video first.

    "The compassion-inducing video had a big effect on their generosity," Willer said. "But it did not significantly change the generosity of more religious participants."
  • Finally, a sample of more than 200 college students reported their current level of compassion and then played economic games in which they were given money to share or withhold from a stranger. Those who were the least religious but most momentarily compassionate shared the most.

Experiments such as this give the lie to the frequent claims of religious frauds that, because Atheist allegedly have no moral compass or 'objective' moral values, they are incapable of acting morally.

In fact, those claims are only ever made by religious fundamentalists whose 'objective' morality seems not to tell them that bearing false witness such as this is wrong because it encourages hate towards those who tend to be the most compassionate and so do the most good in society, often to mitigate some of the harm done by religions.

False witnessing against Atheists by religious frauds is probably a terror management strategy designed to cope with their fear that Atheists are right, and they are wasting their life hoping for something better later.

Atheists, on the other hand, are living for life, not waiting for death, so get on with creating a better world for the one life we have.

Friday 19 June 2020

Ancient DNA Shows Early Irish Incestuous God-Kings

Newgrange burial mound, County Meath, Ireland
Photo credit: Ken Williams"
DNA study reveals Ireland's age of 'god-kings' - BBC News

It makes a pleasant change to be able to write about something that isn't related to covidiot religious fundamentalists doing their bit to spread the Covid-19 virus, debunking creationist frauds with facts as revealed by science or to Catholic priests abusing children for recreation.

This is about Ireland and Irish history, something in which I have long taken an interest and written about in my popular book, A History of Ireland: How Religion Poisoned Everything".

Religion seems to have played as big a part then as it did until recently in the island of Ireland.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Evolution News - Refuting ID With the Bombardier Beetle

Bombardier beetle, Brachinus elongatulus
How the Beetle Got Its Bang | Stevens Institute of Technology.

One of creationism's favourite arguments from ignorant incredulity - how the bombardier beetle's explosion couldn't have evolved - has now been refuted and the gap closed. No gods or magic were involved.

A team from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ, has worked out how the beetle concocts the chemical cocktail that it uses as a deadly defence mechanism and discovered how it had evolved.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Unintelligent Design - Hummingbirds and Suboptimal Human Eyes

Male Broad-tailed hummingbird, Selasphorus platycercus
Photo Noah Whiteman
University of California-Berkeley
Wild hummingbirds see a broad range of colors humans can only imagine

One of the more idiotic and demonstrably false claims by intelligent [sic] design creationists is that the human eye is so perfectly designed that it must have been intelligently designed by magic. This claim is even hilariously repeated by spectacle-wearing Ken Ham of the disinformation site, Answers in Genesis, blissfully oblivious of the contradiction his vision-correcting spectacles betray.

However, a few minutes studying vision in other vertebrates will show that the human eye is actually fairly ordinary and unremarkable as vertebrate eyes go. It lacks the visual acuity of an eagle's eye for example, and now, as this study shows, we can see (sorry!) our eyes lack the colour vision of birds; in this case a broad-tailed hummingbirds, Selasphorus platycercus.

Monday 15 June 2020

Covid-19 - Be Safer. Wear Face-Covering!

Texas A&M Study: Face Masks Critical In Preventing Spread Of COVID-19 - Texas A&M Today

Not wearing face-covering dramatically increases the risk of catching Covid-19, according to research led by a Texas A&M University professor. This has special significance as countries emerge from the drastic lock-downs imposed in the early stages of the pandemic, if a more serious second peak is to be avoided.

The team, which included Nobel Laureate Professor Mario Molina of University of California San Diego, found that face covering reduced the number of infections by 78,000 in Italy and by 66,000 in New York, according to a paper by Renyi Zhang, Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and the Harold J. Haynes Chair in the College of Geosciences, and colleagues from the University of Texas, the University of California-San Diego and the California Institute of Technology.

Sunday 14 June 2020

Covidiots - Muslims For Covid-19

Ala Hazrat Dargah Islamic Seminary, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India.
"Alcohol-based hand-cleanser is 'Haraam'"
Use of alcohol-based sanitizer in mosques sparks off debate among scholars- The New Indian Express

In another astonishing example of the danger religious superstition poses in a Covid-19-infected world, a Muslim cleric, Mufti Nashtar Farooqi, in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India, has declared alcohol-based hand-cleanser 'haraam' (evil, banned) and therefore prohibited to Muslims. In particular they should not bring it into or use it in a mosque because it is ‘napaak’ (impure). He gets this from a passage in the Qur'an which forbids the drinking of alcoholic beverages - as though people drink the hand-cleanser - and his seminary, Ala Hazrat Dargah, has issued a fatwa against them

Malevolent Design - Helping Covid-19 Kill You

Tissue sections of mouse lungs, after infection with influenza. The image on the left is the control and the image on the right is from mice without receptors for interferon lambda. The lungs where interferon lambda signalling is blocked (right) shows improved epithelial cell growth and differentiation (in red).
A protein that helps to fight viruses can also block lung damage repair | Crick

More evidence of just how malevolent and exquisitely nasty or grossly incompetent any intelligent designer who designed both the mammalian immune system and Covid-19 would need to be to design this most nasty of viruses.

A team of researchers at the Francis Crick Institute have discovered that the proteins, type I and III interferons, our immune systems produce to combat the virus, make it more difficult for your body to repair the damage to your lungs later on. This in turn means the virus can do even more damage.

Covidiots - Another Faith Healer Dies

'Godman' Aslam who 'cured' by kissing hands, dies of coronavirus

In another reminder of the danger of religion and the stupidity it can encourage, an Indian Muslim 'Godman' or Aslam, who claimed to be able to cure Covid-19 with a kiss, has died in Madhya Pradesh’s Nayapura district or Ratlam. Amongst the people who visited him for his magical 'cure' 19 have now tested positive for the virus. The district of Ratlam has now become an Covid-19 hotspot.

29 Other faith healers offering similar magical cures, which includes drinking water the 'faith healer' has blown into, have now been put into government quarantine facilities while tests are carried out on them and their clients.

Saturday 13 June 2020

Christian Fruitloops for Trump

Pastor Robert Henderson - "God's chosen running mate"
Robert Henderson Says His Patriotic Shirt Makes God 'Remember the United States of America' | Right Wing Watch

The extent to which American talibangelical Christianity has taken over Christian fundamentalism and how desperate it is for Trump and his GOP colleagues to continue in government, can be seen in the ravings of right-wing extremist, pastor Robert Henderson of Robert Henderson Ministries.

Henderson, who appears to believe he has a direct line to God, nevertheless feels God needs his help, especially for a little amnesia problem. He has taken to wearing a shirt made from the US flag as a reminder to God that he is under instructions from Henderson to ensure Trump wins the forthcoming presidential election for a second time.

Unintelligent Design - Creating Problems

Leopard marking its territory
Simulations reveal interplay between scent marking and disease spread: Accounting for individual animal movement could boost understanding of emerging infectious diseases -- ScienceDaily

In a paper published in PLOS Computational Biology a couple of days ago, Lauren White of the University of Maryland's National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, Annapolis, MD, and colleagues have shown how a solution to the problem of parasitic infections, can create an opportunity for parasites to spread infections in a classic twist of an arms race.

Animals are liable to pass infections between them by physical contact, so one solution to this problem is for some species to be solitary and live within a territory. However, this solution only works if individuals are able to signal the borders of territories to other members of their species. Unlike birds, which often use song or calls, many species use scent markings placed at strategic positions.

Evolution News - Creationists Losing It

Good news: US classrooms are warming to evolution, thanks in part to scientist outreach

The Discovery Institute's plan to subvert the US Constitution and teach creationism at public expense in US public schools is failing badly, according to a recent report published in Evolution: Education Outreach. The proportion of science teachers teaching creationism as valid science in US public schools fell from 32% in 2007 to just 18% in 2017.

Astonishingly, in 2007, two years after a federal court ruled in Kitzmiller vs Dover District, that 'Intelligent design', like its predecessor, 'Creation Science' lacked any scientific merit as was nothing more than fundamentalist, Bible literalist religion dressed up to look like science, American public schools were in breach of the 'Establishment Clause' by allowing creationism to be taught in science class. Only just over half of teachers (51%) were teaching evolution unequivocably as factual.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Fundamentally Violent

Christian crusaders take Jerusalem and massacre the Jewish and Moslem inhabitants
Why People Kill in the Name of God | Psychology Today

Anyone who spends any time talking to religious fundamentalist on social media will be acutely aware of how quickly the conversations turns to abuse and threats of violence, especially towards those who challenge and dispute the claims of religious fundamentalist. Questioning their beliefs or presenting opposing arguments that threaten to undermine them, seem to provoke aggression instead of reflection and honest consideration.

The reasons for this were explained by a study led by Daniel N. Jones, of the University of Nevada Reno, published in the Sage Journal, Social Psychological and Personality Science last April.

Sadly, the paper is behind an expensive firewall but the conclusions are presented in an article in Psychology Today, by Professor David Ludden, PhD, a professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College.

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Malevolent Design News - How Meningococci Make Us Sick

False color scanning electron micrograph of meningococci (orange) adherent to human host cells (green).
Image credit: Alexandra Schubert-Unkmeir / Universität Würzburg
Small Protein, Big Impact - Universität Würzburg

Entering the strange world of intelligent [sic] design we find numerous examples, like Covid-19, of the sheer malevolence of any intelligence that could design such things.

Take for example, this recently discovered mechanism whereby the Meningococcal bacteria cause life-threatening meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia. It was discovered by research groups led by the Würzburg University scientists Christoph Schoen and Jörg Vogel and published in the journal Nature Communications a few days ago.

Monday 8 June 2020

Another Factual Finding Debunks the Bible Narrative

Recent view on the Selenga River close to the archeological site Ust-Kyakhta-3.
© G. Pavlenok
Oldest Connection with Native Americans Identified Near Lake Baikal in Siberia | Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Some 35,000 years before the origin myths in the Bible were being invented by Bronze Age Canaanite hill farmers, the ancestors of Native Americans were living in the Lake Baikal area of Siberia, and even dying of plague.

This was the conclusion of a massive study led by the Department of Archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

As their press release explains:

Sunday 7 June 2020

Bible Debunked Again by Science Without Even Trying

Illustration of one of the early settlers in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Sea served as a kind of ‘aquatic highway’ that connected the islands with the mainland.
Illustration: Tom Björklund.
Ancient DNA provides new insights into the early peopling of the Caribbean – University of Copenhagen

According to a new study by an international team of researchers from the Caribbean, Europe and North America, led by Cosimo Posth, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, humans were busy populating the Caribbean islands from North and South America at around the time the Bronze Age pastoralists who wrote the Bible were recording their origin myths. These myths include that of a global mass genocide and repopulation of a sterile world from 8 survivors, just a few thousand years ago.

Monday 1 June 2020

A Life Damaged by Christianity - Rev. Louis Sheldon

Rev. Louis P. Sheldon,
Leading homophobe and persecutor of the LGBTQ community, dies aged 85.
Rev. Louis Sheldon, Who Fiercely Battled “the Homosexual Agenda,” Is Dead at 85 | Terry Firma | Friendly Atheist | Patheos

Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, founder of the extreme homophobic Traditional Values Coalition, has died, aged 85. Few in the LGBTQ community will mourn his passing.

Preacher of hate, Rev. Sheldon has dedicated his life to promoting the bullying, alienation, demonization and stigmatising of homosexuals, based entirely on a passage in the Christian Bible that appears to forbid a man "laying with another man as with a woman" (something a gay man does not do, of course, unless anal sex with a women was the norm in Biblical times).

Evolution News - Europeans' Mixed Ancestry

Maps showing inherited genetic component from hunter-gatherer (blue) and Anatolian Neolithic (orange) populations along time slices. The expansion of the Anatolian component carried by Neolithic migrants and the differences in proportions observed regionally and chronologically illustrate the diversity of processes at work during the Neolithic expansion in Europe.

© Maïté Rivollat
Interaction Between Neolithic Migrants and Hunter-Gatherers | Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

A team of French and German scientists have worked out how modern Europeans are derived from two different waves of migration by two different routes, as Neolithic farmers replaced the earlier hunter-gatherer people, but the degree of admixing varied widely, suggesting a complex relationship between the two neolithic groups.

The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History press release explains:

Analyzing the first archaeogenetic data from the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Western Europe, a team of French and German researchers documents levels of admixture between expanding early Neolithic farmers and local hunter-gatherers seen nowhere else in Europe.
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