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Chill Out, Faith Heads Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by henry000 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”

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

Posted by henry000 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…

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

Posted by henry000 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.

Hate Crime vs. Art – Comic Thursday, August 16, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Bible, Christianity, comic, funny, hate-crime, humor, humour, Islam, political correctness.
33 comments

This comic depicts the current over-sensitive political-correctness towards Islam.

Hate Crime vs. Art

This is a re-post from here.

An Atheist Hate Letter Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Posted by henry000 in atheism, Christianity, discrimination, faith, fundamentalism, hate-crime, hoax, OUT campaign, religion, Sam Harris, statistics, Texas, United States.
19 comments

Update:

Several readers have kindly pointed out that the letter is actually a hoax – please see the comments for more details. My apologies for not being able to double check this before posting…

h3nry – 15 August 2007

Check out this reader’s letter to a newspaper – tell me if I should laugh it off or see it as some sort of hate-crime? Surely if we replace the word “atheists” with some other minority group, the letter would never have been published.

Courtesy of this page here (via Reddit). Unfortunately not much else information is given on this letter.

Reader Voices Strong Opinions on Atheists

The ending sentence exemplifies the prejudice and religious bigotry of the writer of the letter:

I don’t care if they have never committed a crime, atheists are the reason crime is rampant.

Those of you who have read Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation might remember the interesting statistics correlating crime rates in the more religious areas of the United States in comparison to the less religious areas:

Of the twenty-five cities with the lowest rates of violent crime, 62 percent are in “blue” states and 38 percent are in “red” states. Of the twenty-five most dangerous cities, 76 percent are in red states, 24 percent in blue states. In fact, three of the five most dangerous cities in the United States are in the pious state of Texas. The twelve states with the highest rate of burglary are red. Twenty-four of the twenty-nine states with the highest rate of theft are red. Of the twenty-two states with the highest rates of murder, seventeen are red.

where the “red” states are the conservative religious states and the “blue” states are the more liberal states.

It is worth noting that the writer of the letter is not anonymous – which I suspect by choice – which to me seems to reflect the general anti-atheist sentiment held by the majority in the US.

I suppose it is precisely because of this sort of hatred that the OUT Campaign is designed for – although not unexpectedly it has also convinced atheists to continue to hide their views.

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God In the Maths Thursday, August 9, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Baptist, Christianity, creationism, education, faith, fundamentalism, funny, mathematics, Texas, United States.
2 comments

Check out this math curriculum description of a Baptist school – God is in the maths.

Some highlights are:

Students will understand the absolute consistency of mathematical principles and know that God was the inventor of that consistency. They will see God’s nature revealed in the order and precision they review foundational concepts while being able to demonstrate geometric thinking and spatial reasoning.

Mathematical study will result in a greater appreciation of God and His works in creation.

And guess what, it seems to be a school based in Texas (surprise, surprise…)

Just imagine what the biology and physics descriptions would be.

“A New Breed of Atheist” Friday, August 3, 2007

Posted by henry000 in atheism, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, Dawkins, humanism, rationality, reason, religion, Richard Dawkins, secularism.
10 comments

A writer at ChristianPost has joined a chorus of concerned religious lots in attacking the current atheism movement spearheaded by Dawkins and Hitchens and all. He identifies this new breed atheism, or anti-theism, as something that is:

There’s no substance, just anger and a lot of hot air.

The lack-of-substance argument has been widely used as a main criticism to these hot-selling anti-theism books such as The God Delusion; some even calls them naive and simplistic. I have stressed it previously that when criticising religion or any other ideology systems you need not to be a complete scholar in the subject – there is a difference between being completely ignorant and being knowledgeable enough.

Further, the writer notes:

They don’t argue; they yell. They’ve decided that, simply because they dislike religion, there is no reason to respect it. In their minds, it’s stupid, dangerous, and that’s all that needs to be said.

He also addresses the current atheism trend from the more concerned atheists (emphasis mine):

The old-guard secular humanists are questioning this new trend, and rightly so. Most traditional atheists simply had their own belief system, and if we wanted our belief system that was okay. The new breed reflects the death of truth. They’re like the communists who feared religion more than anything else because it was a competing truth claim.

How many wrongful claims can you find in this single paragraph along?

Incredibly atheism has been equated once again to a belief system. No it isn’t! If so, what is it and what is its faiths and beliefs?

We don’t fear religion. We are incredibly concerned about the dangers religion has shown over and over again, and these dangers are based on irrationality and blind faith. The dangers range from discrimination against non-believers, to religious-based practices such as honour-killing, genital-mutilation, creationism to name just a few, and to global-wide conflicts that I need not to mention here.

This is why the new atheism is being blunt and in-four-face, bringing the religion down from its pedestal.

Further, in a sweeping generalisation the new atheism movement is being labelled as a system that competes with religion to claim truth. Again this is wrong. Atheism keeps an open mind as to what the so-called truth is – it never claims truth. Religions do. And they do that based not on rational approaches but on dogmatic beliefs and ancient writings. Each religion claims it is the truth religion, let alone the plethora of cults and denominations.

The new atheism may be too loud and blunt – get used to it and get over it.

Power of Prayer Proven (and Disproven) – Videos Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Posted by henry000 in animation, Bible, Christianity, Ed Current, faith, funny, God, humor, humour, Jesus, parody, prayer, rationality, reason, religion, sarcasm, video.
2 comments

Here is another great video from Ed Current, whose other previous works The Atheist Delusion and The Deluded Mailbag I have bloggged earlier. He really has a knack of creating good parody!

Here is his latest work which proves that prayer works:

Courtesy of the Friendly Atheist.

Okay, for all the atheists out there, here is a different video which refutes the power of prayer. Now I am totally confused as to whether prayer works or not…

Creationism Article in The Seoul Times Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-evolution, biology, Christianity, creationism, evolution, fundamentalism, intelligent design, Korea, religion, science, Seoul, South Korea, Turkey, UK, United Kingdom.
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I came across this creationist article the other day and didn’t really pay too much attention to it, as it is yet another typical creationist fundie mumbo-jumbo. Then again on a second thought, this article seems just a little bit different to the other ones out there. You will note that the publisher is The Seoul Times – a South Korean based newspaper.

You’d thought that creationism is a peculiar US phenomenon? Well, it is not true anymore. For example, the recent creationism movement in Turkey is making great inroads in the Islamic world and has captured the attention of the media in the West. The recent Intelligent Design Movement is also making some noise under the ironic name of Truth in Science in the UK. And now, this article published in a Korean newspaper shows just perhaps creationism is also making progress in South Korea.

A while ago I posted an entry showing how the theory of evolution seems not very well accepted worldwide, however there is no data regarding South Korea, a country with a history of producing Christianity cults, so perhaps we must not be all that surprised by it.

This is what the article has to say:

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My First Time Experience In a Creationism Sermon Monday, July 30, 2007

Posted by henry000 in Anthony Flew, anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-fundamentalism, Charles Templeton, Christianity, church, Creation Ministry International, creationism, fundamentalism, Haeckel, Piltdown Man, Presbyterian, science, sermon, Sydney.
3 comments

Given the rare chance and out of immense curiosity, I attended a creationism sermon – for the very first time – at a Sydney Presbyterian church last weekend. The title of the sermon is Creation, a Key to the Gospel.

The presenter was Dr. Tas Walker, a retired engineer with quite a good working experience. He now works full time at the Australian based fundamentalist organisation called Creation Ministries International, where the Ken Ham, the brain behind the $US27 million Creation Museum originally comes from. I knew this before I attended the sermon, and was glad that someone highly educated and seemingly intelligent was delivering it, rather than the idiotic Ray Comfort type. The sermon was conducted with Powerpoint slides.

Walker opened the sermon by showing a collection of newspaper headlines on evolutionary discoveries, presenting it as if the secular media favours too much on evolution. He also asked if the Christians have ever had troubles or being bothered in completing school assignments on evolution, and how he hoped his presentation would answer some of the troubles. This exemplifies one central characteristic of fundamentalists – the psychology of they being marginalised and even victimised by the secular society. Perhaps these creationists should openly protest against the teaching of evolution and start a public civil movement of destroying the fact of evolution.

After this sensationalised opening, Walker proceeded to the make his case of why creationism matters. I did not fully grasp his logic because I was puzzled by his reasoning. Anyhow it roughly went something like this: Christianity is based on the Gospels and the Genesis, the two absolute central basis of the Bible, and it is in the Genesis that it states clearly that God created the world and all living things. Then evolution comes along and turns this completely upside down, hence it must be bad for Christianity. This is quite the normal argument (although I regretted not having writing down or recording his sermon… but I think next time I will be much better prepared).

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