jump to navigation

Blog Break… Friday, September 7, 2007

Posted by h3nry in Blogs.
6 comments

Argh… the pain of not having an internet access! I changed job few days ago so had to give my laptop back to my former employer… this means I am shopping now for a new laptop. In the meantime I won’t have much internet access at all – but I hope I will be back soon!

Australian Pastor Had Sex With His Daughters – To Teach Them To Be Good Wives Friday, August 31, 2007

Posted by h3nry in Australia, crime, faith, family, fundamentalism, incest, morality, religion, scriptures, sex, South Australia.
14 comments

Why – someone please explain to me – do we often have religious figures commit unspeakable, despicable crimes like this? People with religious duties are depended by many followers as their moral guides and supportive pillars, yet we seem to never stop hearing criminal and degrading sexual acts being repeated over and over again. Why?

In this report an Australian fundamentalist pastor is being jailed for eight and half years for having sex with his daughters – when both were in their early teenage years – to teach them how to be good wives.

Says in the report:

The man [the pastor] told the court the sex was not about fulfilling his desires but about teaching his daughters how to behave for their husbands when they eventually married, as dictated in scripture.

In sentencing, Judge David Lovell said the misrepresentation of scripture used to justify the abuse of the girls “defied belief”, and that he had “hypocritically betrayed” his religion and principles.

Many religious apologetics have said that religion is merely an expression, a vehicle for wrongful acts. This I will not contest. However, it is also important to face the fact that such as in this case, religion and blind faith are the root cause of wrongful, criminal acts themselves.

This so-called “pastor” makes me sick.

This Is Disturbing – Comic Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Posted by h3nry in anti-evolution, comic, creationism, Darwin, Darwinism, evolution, fundamentalism, God, violence.
8 comments

I found this comic, courtesy of Digg. I don’t know about you, but I found it really disturbing… perhaps the artist is trying to reflect the anti-evolution sentiment rampant amongst the religous fundamentalists? By why such violence, why the use of girls?

I have a suspicion that the caption was added later by someone which has nothing to do with the drawing. I’d like to think that the drawing comes from some innocent children’s book…

“Trapping the Evolutionist”

Click here for the original file. Click on it to see its full size.

Chill Out, Faith Heads Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by h3nry in Afghanistan, Allah, Christianity, faith, football, God, Hinduism, Islam, Jesus, Malaysia, politics, reason, religion, soccer, United States.
6 comments

It seems almost too coincidental, but two latest stories show yet again how blind religious beliefs can blind your sense of judgement.

The first story relates to the “Allah football” incident in Afghanistan. Apparently the US military has been dropping football (i.e soccer) balls in the country with the intention of giving the children something to enjoy. Those balls are nicely decorated with flags of different countries, as well as the name of Allah written on the balls. This caused great offence to some Afghans, and a demonstration has been held, because the use of the revered word “Allah” is very sensitive in Islam. Says one Afghan MP:

Afghan MP Mirwais Yasini said: “To have a verse of the Koran on something you kick with your foot would be an insult in any Muslim country around the world.”

I suggest the brothers and sisters of Islam chill out. Respect and sensitivity run both ways, so take a step back and understand the fact that the US military comes from a different culture, so at least tolerate these sort of mistakes (in fact religious-related “mistakes” like this should not be offences at all – but that is another story). Of course, I’d imagine that the protesters are a minority and the Afghan politicians may be using this incident to their personal advantages, but the point is, only religion can blind people people’s rational thinking and commonsense.

“Allah football”

The second story relates to the “Jesus cartoon” incident in Malaysia. A newspaper published a cartoon of Jesus holding a cigarette and what seems to be a beer can, and so some Christians and even some Hindus, both minorities in Malaysia, are not pleased, because if Muslims can get angry and therefore special treatment at a cartoon depicting Muhammad, then this case deserves the same treatment from the Islamic based Malaysian government. Consequently the offending newspaper outlet has apologised. Again, this issue involves complicated ethnic politics, but the point is the same: only religion, on its privileged pedestals, can cause such silly incident.

Needless to say, the second story reminds us of the horrible, silly and unfortunate case of the Danish prophet Muhammad cartoon case not so long ago – and the deaths and economical damages the whole drama unnecessarily caused.

Muslims, Christians, and even Hindus in this case – can you stop quarrelling amongst yourselves and behave in a civil way?

“Prophet Muhammad cartoons”

The Peppered Moths Stike Back Monday, August 27, 2007

Posted by h3nry in evolution, Icons of Evolution, intelligent design, Jonathan Wells, Judith Hooper, Majerus, natural selection, pepper moth, science, science experiment.
4 comments

If you ask anyone off the street to give you one example of evolution, chances are it will be the peppered moth phenomenon. The story of the darker type of moths out-surviving the lighter coloured moths in industrial polluted areas has been cited in just about all evolution and biology textbooks.

However, this icon of evolution has been under heavy attack recently, raging from flawed experiments to outright fraud or fakery. The charges include manipulated photographs, deliberate suppressed evidence and dismissing other alternative conclusions out of hand. The critics include the Intelligent Design proponent Jonathan Wells in his infamous book Icons of Evolution and Judith Hooper’s Of Moths and Men.

This attack has completely repelled, and vindicated by a recently experiment conducted. A Cambridge professor named Michael Majerus has repeated this experiment in his own backyard for a span of seven years – taking into the criticism into account as well. His study has conclusively shown that the phenomenon is indeed a shining example of natural selection:

(more…)

Teach Alternatives in Chemistry – Comic Sunday, August 26, 2007

Posted by h3nry in chemistry, Christianity, comic, creationism, fundamentalism, funny, humor, humour, parody, rationality, religion, science.
7 comments

Check out this clever comic! Click on it to enlarge.

“Periodic Element Table”

Sorry, I forgot where I originally downloaded this from…

Some Thoughts on Dawkin’s Enemies of Reason (Part I) Saturday, August 25, 2007

Posted by h3nry in astrology, Carl Sagan, Channel 4, Dawkins, documentary, dowsing, Enemies of Reason, medium, new-age, paranormal, pseduo-science, psychics, rationality, reason, Richard Dawkins, skeptics, spirituality, video.
add a comment

I finally got around to watch the much anticipated TV documentary, Enemies of Reason (part one), created by you-know-who – Richard Dawkins. For those who don’t know, it is a skeptical examination on the irrational, the superstitious, the disillusioned, and the unreasonable. The first part of the series includes a look at astrology, dowsing, psychics, medium (talking to the dead) and certain forms of new-age spirituality (which I will bucket them all with the term “the irrational” from now on).

Here is the link to the video you can watch online or download:

My gut feeling is that something is wanting in the documentary, something is missing. I think it lacks in stressing the dangers of the irrational present to the general public. It is not harsh and devastating enough. Dawkins approach is mainly that of a scientific one, as one might expect – he looks at why people tend to believe in the irrational (Skinner’s Pigeons), carries out controlled tests on dowsing and astrology readings, mentions repeatedly how science has advanced our species and way of life, and is genuinely interested in what the psychics have to say about their practices.

There is nothing wrong with all of the above and I agree with them all. However, the documentary needs to examine critically at the practical implication of the irrationals. From memory, there is only one instance of this, where in the case of communicating with the dead Dawkins is concerned with the mental states of those who have lost their loving ones. I would have liked to see Dawkins apply his usual scholarly excoriation to expose and bulldoze his way through all forms of irrationality, as well as mentioning some stories too. Astrology is not merely harmless as one might think, people do act based on the readings, and I think the quackery of communicating with the dead equates to a form of emotional abuse with these so-called mediums praying upon the fragile and needy mental states of people.

(more…)

Scientists, NCSE Wants You Friday, August 24, 2007

Posted by h3nry in Butler University, education, faith, fundamentalism, Michael Zimmerman, NCSE, rationality, religion, science, scientists, The Clergy Letter Project.
2 comments

Update:

As NCSE has pointed out, this initiative is actually “it is the brainchild of Michael Zimmerman of Butler University, and he deserves all the credit.”

You can find the relevant information on the Butler University webpage, “Religion & Science Collaboration”:

http://www.butler.edu/clergyproject/religion_science_collaboration.htm

h3nry – 25 August 2007

The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has started a great initiative which I think deserves more attention in the blogspere and mainstream media: The Clergy Letter Project. This project aims to encourage scientists to serve as consultants to speak to local clergy members and parishioners to advance the beauty and general understanding of science.

From NCSE:

As part of its efforts to encourage and support members of the clergy who acknowledge the scientific importance of evolution, the Clergy Letter Project is seeking scientists who are excited about the possibility of explaining the beauty and power of science to clergy members and their parishioners. Over 400 scientists throughout the country and abroad have already agreed to act as advisers to local clergy and speak publicly to church audiences about their areas of expertise; a list is available on the Clergy Letter Project’s website.

This is really important. The anti-science sentiment is rampant mainly because either people just aren’t interested in science, or they have not been properly educated about what science is, or they have been manipulated by the faith-head fundamentalists – and it is for the third reason that this project was born to address. I think having the scientists go out there to inform the public – particular to the religious members with the power and responsibility of educating the faithful – addresses all these problems.

Note that I am not advocating that science and religion should reconcile – there is no denial that there are plenty areas science and religion overlap and conflict – the questions of how species come into existence is the most obvious one. This project is about education. From experience, there are lots of anti-science or anti-evolutionists out there simply because they are not properly informed of the facts, not properly educated on the beauty and enlightenment science offers, and/or they are being manipulated by the fundies. It is this population that projects like this can win over (I mean, by definition, nothing will change the minds of fundamentalists).

One important issue here is about the attitudes these scientists should adapt. They are educating and engaging the public, so the mentality should be that of a consultant – polite, professional and educational (well, of course, when confronted by fundies, then they shall be merciless).

If you are a scientist or know any real scientists, please spread the word for this worthy cause.

Darwinism and Its Discontents – Book Review Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Posted by h3nry in anti-creationism, anti-fundamentalism, anti-ID, Behe, biology, book review, Charles Darwin, Christianity, consilience, creationism, Darwin, Darwinism, Dawkins, evolution, genetics, geology, God, Gould, Haeckel, human evolution, philosophy, Piltdown Man, punctuated equilibrium, rationality, reason, religion, science, scientific theory.
2 comments

I have been thinking about the ideas in this book for about four decades and have decided that the time has come to put them all together.

This is the opening sentence of Professor Michael Ruse’s latest book Darwinism and Its Discontents. Ruse is a well-known evolutionary philosopher and has been a great defender on Darwinism for a number of years. And with an opening statement like that, naturally I was thrilled to read what the discontents are all about, and if they matter at all.

The book is a defender of Darwinism and the fact of evolution from all sides of attacks, and is understandably light on refuting creationism of various flavours, so read this book to cement your understanding of Darwinism and evolution – I certainly learned a good deal from it.

Darwinism is defined as a particular theory in which evolution works. Its heart lies in the concept of natural selection, the chief causal process behind all organisms, and is the widely accepted evolutionary mechanism by the scientific community. However, it has always been under attack from various disciplines in social science, philosophy, religion, and even within science itself, and Ruse writes how these attacks are categorically mistaken.

Darwinism and Its Discontents Cover

The first chapter goes through the historical background of Darwinism. Ruse includes a number of notable historical figures ranging from people who did not have direct contribution to Darwinism such as Lyells and Malthus, to modern day scientists such as Fisher, Haldine and Wright. The conclusion of the chapter is right on spot – why was Darwin important? Because it was after him that a revolution happened – that life is a naturalistic, not a supernatural or God-inspired one.

The next few chapters are, I think, the highlights of the book as they outline what the fact of evolution is, its path, its cause and its limitations. Ruse presented the concept of consilience argument – that is, direct evidence supporting evolution from a myriad of fields of studies: palaeontology, biogeographical distribution, classification, morphology, embryology and so on. These chapters are essential in understanding the science of Darwinian theory of evolution – population genetics, adaptation, physical constraints on the phenotype, drift, and of course, natural selection, as well as a dash of Gould’s famous punctuated equilibrium theory.

The second half of the book then takes a different turn. It examines humans, the mistakes and dishonesty made in the history of evolutionary science (such as the Piltdown Man and Haeckel’s drawings) – and finally, Ruse looks at Darwinism from philosophical and religious point of views.

Overall I thought this book is very well balanced and not too technical for the layman; however it is definitely not an introductory level kind of book. If you are looking for the whole creationism vs. evolution debate then this is not an ideal book; conversely if you are looking for a book that covers a wide areas of Darwinian evolution – from past to present and across various disciplines, then this book is it.

Truly Sad – WordPress Censored in Turkey – Creationist Harun Yahya Involved Monday, August 20, 2007

Posted by h3nry in Adnan Oktar, anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-fundamentalism, Atlas of Creation, censorship, Edip Yuksel, education, Europe, European Union, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, Harun Yahya, Islam, rationality, reason, religion, science, Turkey, United States, WordPress.
7 comments

Correction:

I was under the impression that Turkey was a member of EU, which is incorrect. Thanks for the reader who kindly pointed out my mistake.

h3nry – 21 August 2007

This is official: my dear blog host WordPress has been blocked in Turkey due to the so-called “defamation blogs” containing alleged “slanders” made to the Turkish Islamic fundamentalist, and the newest and hottest creationist kid in town, Adnan Oktar – or better known by his pen name, Harun Yahya.

Harun Yahya has recently published a fantastically crafted creationist book called Atlas of Creation that has been translated into many language and been shipped, unsolicited, to the schools and universities in various parts of Europe and the United States (which I briefly blogged here). It is not clear how Harun Yahya financed this book and its junk distribution, but the content of it often violates copyright laws.

Now on to the ban of WordPress in Turkey. It seems that the issue is that a person by the name of Edip Yuksel, a self-proclaimed Islamic reformer, has registered various subdomains of WordPress such as:

http://AdnanOktar.wordpress.com

http://HarunYahyaArabic.wordpress.com

and various other domains to, in the words of Harun Yahya’s legal team, “defame” the Islamic fundamentalist. Be sure to check out the site http://AdnanOktar.wordpress.com to see, I think, photos of what seems to be Harun Yahya in prison and being arrested by police.

Here is the extract of a letter sent to WordPress by Harun Yahya’s lawyer (italics mine):

The number of our attempts to inform and warn you regarding these defamation blogs must have been at least twenty, many times through your support page, a couple of times to your legal department and we even sent a regular mail to Mr. Matt Mullenweg (from the WordPress team). Most of our attempts were unanswered.

These defamation blogs contained slanders to some of my client’s friends as well. They also applied WordPress.com support with their official ID cards and a representative directed them to write to the legal department. So they did but again no response from legal.

So it seems this has been an on-going issue. How did WordPress respond to the letters, it is not known. Needless to say this is quite a tricky and complicated issue. The root cause is fundamentalism vs. reformation, there is the policy and responses from WordPress, and there is the unreasonable law of banning the entire blogging service in the entire country. I would have thought that one reasonable approach is to ban those subdomains in dispute get banned – if they are indeed found to be defamatory and that WordPress is judged not have been carried out its legal responsibilities (I cannot say for certain since most of the content are in Turkish and really, I guess it would be somewhat subjective and I am no expert in this fuzzy legal area). It is worth noting the comment made by a reader edezu from Turkey (italics mine):

This person’s (Harun Yahya) current strategy is to block all the sites which attacks him and his ideas. A few months ago, he made a similar move and blocked “eksi sozluk”, an open dictionary which is, in my opinion, a bastion of free speech in turkish online media, with more than 10.000 writers and about 2.000 entries each day.

Adnan Oktar is taking advantage of the gaps in Turkish laws on the internet, which are sadly on their infancy, to silence all the voices against him. Internet poses a real threat to people like him, where ideas are exposed, and people read them!

Yes, one big gap in the Turkish law indeed. My sympathy goes out to the WordPress gang and the Turkish Internet users. I wonder if the European Union will somehow act or put pressure on this Turkish ruling? What’s the lunatic Harun Yahya going to do next – ban Google?

To all of the people out there who feel that this whole entire evolution vs. creationism debate is something of a fringe interest, or an issue that can be safely dismissed – think carefully again. It is an issue that reflects the bigger war between the fundamentalists and the reasonable, the religious fanatics and the rational, lunacy and integrity.

It is good to know though, as one of the readers jimcolella noted, there is already a petition underway:

On that score, I’ve found there is already a Facebook petition to protest the blockage (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4940847710) and I would strongly recommend all interested parties to write to Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post” programme via their Web site — a great TV prog that covers precisely these types of issues, i.e., freedom of speech… precisely what I’m going to do as soon as I log out of this.

An entire blog publishing service is being censored in an European Union country, the entire freedom to information for the Turkish population is being compromised by a few deranged individuals. This is a truly sad day.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.