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Scientists, NCSE Wants You Friday, August 24, 2007

Posted by henry000 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.

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

Posted by henry000 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.

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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.

“What Is The Danger of Teaching Creationism?” Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-ID, creationism, education, evolution, God, intelligent design, science.
16 comments

This is a question asked by a fellow blogger Steve at Bits of Brain. Specifically, he would like to know what the impacts and consequences are for teaching creationism alongside of evolution in our schools:

So I remain curious as to what you see are the impacts, the consequences, the ramifications. What will HAPPEN to our children if one day our courts fail us and permit this craziness to enter the classrooms?

Naturally I was appalled by this question and so I left a couple of comments to his post, which I thought I will promote and repeat them up to a post here.

First of all here is the background. Brian at his nice blog Laelaps posted an entry titled “Combating Creationism with History“. Steve then replied with lots of questions, basically sympathesizing with the creationists and questioning why creationism must be fought against. Brian has done a lengthy reply which is worth a read, while I took a different angle in saying that it is important to combat the religious ideology because creationism and its various flavours have been a pest and great waste of resource to our educational systems.

Why is creationism dangerous? As Steve states:

… What is the danger?” What is the “threat” that creationism presents to our society, to our culture, and to our school-children?

Well, in a nutshell it is the same as teaching astrology, numerology or alchemy in our classes.

Education is established as a system to impart knowledge, values and attitudes to the children, while allowing them to learn and develop critical skills and habits.

There are several critical skills that our educational system teaches which arms the kids to become self sufficient and get more out of life. These skills include sports, using computer and learning foreign languages to other more abstract basic skill set such as critical thinking, problem solving and respecting others.

Creationism teaches none of the above – at its core it says an intelligent-designer-did-it and nothing more. Evolution, on the other hand, is a product of scientific disciplines, which is based upon several fundamental skills such problem solving and critical thinking. Now let us look at it n terms of bodies of knowledge, which for example include philosophy, arts, literature and history. Again, how does creationism fit in? What sort of knowledge does it provide?

The best category where creationism can fit in is science. But the problem is that it is not science and does not value any of the scientific fundamentals. It has nothing scientific. Granted, there are areas of uncertainty in it but this is quite normal in all scientific disciplines – just think about the fascinating unsolved mysteries in astrophysics and quantum physics. The ever-dwindling sets of unsolved problems and yet-to-be-explained phenomena are best left for science to deal with, not a religious doctrine that says god-did-it.

So we have established that creationism has absolutely no values. Therefore, the impact of teaching it in our classes is a great waste of resources. The ramification of teaching it is to dumb down or kids, and a direct insult to our educational systems.

Kansas Classrooms – Comic Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-fundamentalism, comic, education, funny, humor, humour, Kansas, science.
1 comment so far

Kansas Classrooms

It doesn’t have one drawn specifically dedicated to evolution!?

Click on it to see it bigger.

Intelligent Design Marching Into UK Thursday, July 12, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-evolution, anti-fundamentalism, anti-ID, BBC, creationism, education, Eugenie Scott, evolution, intelligent design, Lewis Wolpert, podcast, rationality, religion, science, Science Weekly, Simon conway Morris, Truth In Science, UK, United States, video.
6 comments

Blue Rat alerts us that the dishonest, disingenuous and manipulative movement called Intelligent Design is trying to get into the UK schools. Here is a video of an interview conducted by the BBC’s Newsnight program between an ID advocate from an organisation called Truth In Science and Professor Lewis Wolpert, a distinguished biologist and humanist.

In December 2006 Science Weekly published a podcast on this very topic, this time again involving Professor Wolpert as well as the famous paleontologist Simon Conway Morris. Also in the podcast is Dr. Eugenie Scott from the USA, a leading science educator who has been at the front-line of combating creationism and Intelligent Design for years, and has recently published a book titled Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools. You can download the entire podcast in mp3 format on the Science Weekly website.

Parents: Please Don’t Indoctrinate Creationism To Your Kids Monday, July 2, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-fundamentalism, creationism, education, evolution, funny, humour, Sam Harris, video.
2 comments

Courtesy of A Whore in the Temple of Reason

How To Think Like a Religious Fundamentalist Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-fundamentalism, anti-ID, atheism, Christianity, creationism, education, evolution, faith, fundamentalism, funny, God, humour, intelligent design, parody, rationality, religion, sarcasm, science.
50 comments

I have just discovered this seemingly ancient, yet ageless article on how to think like a religious fundamentalist. Buried in a Web 1.0 style website, I decided to bring it to spotlight and submitted that page to Digg. Don’t you just love it when stumbling upon a germ like this?

The opening statement is great:

Planning a career in online Christian fundamentalist apologetics? How about the exciting world of Young-Earth Creationism? Witnessing to, and debating with, atheists and other hellbound unsaved sinners on the internet can be hard work, so you need to familiarise yourself with the tried and tested methods used by fundies all around the world. After completing this simple training course, the shadow of doubt will never again flicker across your mind whilst listening to the lies and deceptions of those ignorant infidels who disagree with your self-evident truths.

After all, that is what religious fundamentalism is about – being blinded by faith without any discourse to reason and rationality. This how-to “training course” then starts with what I call the Fundy Rule 1 on inerrancy:

First and foremost, the Bible is the absolute, literal word of God. Contrary to popular opinion, it contains none of the following: errors of any kind, contradictions or absurdities .

which I believe can be expanded to the Koran of Islam, as well as other holy scriptures, not just that of the Bible of Christianity.

Here comes Fundy Rule 2 which is on science:

There is but one measuring stick required to determine the truth of any claim – how it compares with Holy Scripture. More precisely, how it compares with your personal reading of Scripture. So, if some secular humanist scientists dare to dream up a theory (or “wild guess”, as it is more accurately known) that apparently conflicts with the teachings of the Bible, clearly these egg-head mad professors have made yet another idiotic mistake, possibly under demonic influence. How do we know they are mistaken? See “1 Inerrancy”.

Here comes my favourite – how to debate and reason against attacks on fundamentalist thinking. While I don’t claim myself as being particularly analytical and intelligent, and definitely not a fan on belittling people’s mistakes and intelligence – but, time and time again, we come across totally ignorant and utterly bewildering stupid arguments put forward by religious fundies. So this training course has it, with Fundy Rule 3 on how to debate like a fundy:

  • Self Contradiction – the Bible stands correct at all time;
  • Logic and Reason – just the playthings of the unbeliever – faith in the Lord is all that is needed;
  • Burden of Proof on the Skeptic – the unbeliever claim God does not exist – ask them to disprove that;
  • Repeating Yourself;
  • Reply with Huge Answers;
  • Grammar and Spellings – not important, as long as the Holy Spirit guides us;
  • Knowledge – there is no need to know anything science offers us – all the evidence in the world is no match for a single grain of the True Faith;
  • Definition of Words – the Spirit will guide us through if unbelievers say we are mistaken with words;

Furthermore, the training course provides the last of priceless rules, Fundy Rule 4 – performing mental gymnastics. Here is :

  • Lying for Jesus – being economical with the truth, making up data on the spot and ignoring conflicting evidence are all handy weapons to save souls;
  • Compartmentalisation – keep scriptural knowledge away from the secular knowledge that allows you to function in worldly matters;
  • Wilful ignorance – Ignorance is bliss, and what is more blissful than reading the Word Of God?

Feel free to click on the Digg button below to Digg that fantastic article.

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Map of Teachings of Evolution in the US Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Posted by henry000 in anti-creationism, anti-ID, creationism, education, evolution, faith, intelligent design, map, rationality, religion, science.
1 comment so far

This is a map showing the status of teaching of evolution in the US on a state-basis. On the map, the colour red indicates the more anti-evolution states, where the teaching of evolution is seen as “unsatisfactory, useless or absent”. Yellow means “satisfactory or good”, and green indicates “very good or excellent”.

This post, featured as Blog of the Minute on the WordPress home page, provides a commentary on the map – and as you ca see from the 250-plus comments made by the readers, it is no kidding that the evolution vs. creationism debate is still raging well and alive.

After spent quite some time reading through the comments (much of it at work…), it is just more and more obvious to me that many people who are anti-evolution are still very ill-informed. Amateurish arguments against evolution such as evolution is a theory of chance (“airplane in the junkyard” argument), that we descended from monkeys, that the word “theory” means speculation… etc are seen quite commonly in the readers’ comments on the post.

Is this evolution vs. creationism debate a truly US of A phenomenon? I was just thinking the other day, after reading through more ignorant, bigotry arguments from creationists, that we should not waste any more time in debating with these people. However, on the second thought, I was alarmed that we must do something to combat these people – their impact is real. Just look at the map mentioned, and the several court cases concerning the teaching of evolution at schools that have taken place in the US recently.

Anyway, here is a thumbnail copy of the map here, click on it to enlarge:

How Evolution is Taught