Monday, June 26, 2017

Shock of Shocks, I Agree with Kennie Ham . . . sort of!

Little kennie ham, owner and operator of several ministries (The Creation pseudo-museum, The Ark Park, and Answers in Genesis) is on his horse again.  Here's the article if you care to get your shoes all muddy:

"Ken Ham Warns America is on 'Precipice of Catastrophic Change', 'God is Judging Us' (Exclusive)" (The Gospel Herald, 22 June 2017)
You don't actually have to read it if I say one word:  "homosexuality".  Yes, kennie is running around like Chicken Little:
"Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham has warned that America is on the "precipice of catastrophic change" and said that one sign God is "turning people over to their depraved minds" is the increase in homosexual behavior seen across the country."
OK, if you want to read his rant, please be my guest, but if you have a single open-minded thought, it might turn your stomach.

So how can I possibly be in any sort of agreement with this bigoted pseudo-Christian?  It's in the wording, yes, I think we do stand on a precipice of catastrophic change, but not for the same reason.  I think the hate, bigotry, and intolerance spouted by people like kennie are the cause.  One of the reasons I think kennie is being so vocal about his bigotry is the huge shot in the arm such attitudes received when that hamster-haired serial liar and misogynist was elected.  Suddenly being a bigot might be socially-acceptable in some groups.

One of my friends, who is against gay marriage, actually asked me how I could be for it, since I wasn't gay.  I told him that I'm not a woman either, so how come I don't think women should be barefoot and pregnant?  I'm not a minority, so how come I don't think minorities and immigrants are second class citizens? Discrimination is discrimination regardless of whether the target is wearing a dress, has a different ethnic background, believes a different religion, or has a different idea of 'family' than you!  You might wonder how I can call him a 'friend', but I believe in the right to believe as you wish, I just refuse to allow him to force his beliefs on me.  If you think I am trying to force my beliefs onto him, you are in error . . . remember, he asked.

Discrimination should not be tolerated in any form.  People, like little kennie, who make their living being hateful, intolerant, and discriminatory are the ones that should be convicted of aiding and abetting the incivility, and often violence, that is the result.  As I have said before, you have the right to live your life, but you do not have the right to force others to live as you do.  For example, a couple of years ago Campbell's Soup featured an ad with two men feeding soup to a boy using hilarious imitations of Darth Vader and Chewbacca.  It was funny, touching, and cute.  But since it featured two men, homophobic bigots assumed the two men were the boy's gay parents and tried to make a tempest over it.

Don't buy Campbell's Soup if you dislike they commercial, but you do not get to decide no one should buy Campbells!  But something similar happened recently when Cherrios aired a commercial featured an interracial family.  Again, a minor news flap because of racist bigots.  The Today article raised an interesting point:
"“I’m not surprised at the reaction, because social media is kind of the new Ku Klux Klan white hood,’’ TODAY’s Star Jones said Monday. “It allows you to be anonymous and to say the kinds of things that you would never say to a person to their face. "
Personally, I thought the ad was terrific!  I'm not sure what it says about me, but I hadn't noticed the family was interracial until reading one of the bigoted comments on Facebook which pointed it out.  What was even better was that Cherrios brought the family back for a Super Bowl ad!  Now that's an appropriate response to bigotry.

As you can see, I do have to agree with little kennie's phrase, just not his cause, we are facing a potential catastrophe, but kennie is one of the ones pushing us closer and closer to that disaster.  His use of religion to push an environment of fear, mistrust, division, and intolerance is driving us toward that catastrophe.  Of course if/when a catastrophe occurs, he'll be standing on the sidelines blaming it on everything but his own personal hatred and intolerance.  Yes, kennie will be one of the causes, but one he will never admit -- after all he thinks god is on his side.  Certainly not the god I was taught about in parochial school, but a version even few Christians seem to recognize.

There are times, like when I read posts like this I do hope there really is a god and one that lives up to all of the ideals so many religions claim.  That way bigots like kennie will get their just reward, and a real hot one at that.  But in the meantime, kennie will keep making a living preaching intolerance and pushing hatred, incapable of recognizing the damage he does.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ark Park Failing?

An article in the Religious News Service: "Ken Ham disputes reports the Ark Encounter is sinking" caught my eye and my first reaction is "Of course he's disputing it!"  It's easy to dispute something no one is really saying.

Most of the articles about the 'ark park' don't claim it's failing, but that it is failing on its promise of economic benefits to the local area, that's all.  There is a world of difference, but it's easier to refute things not being said than those that are.  With one exception every other report shows the ark park hasn't had the impact kennie promised.  In one report, the one kennie mentions, it says that one community has seen an increase.  It is attributable to the park?  I don't know and neither does kennie, but he's going to take the one claim and use it to his advantage.

Ham dismisses the multiple reports from actual shop owners, calling it anecdotal evidence, but the one positive report doesn't talk to any business owners, just the Mayor of Dry Ridge.  Yes, politicians never stretch the truth, do they?  I think a reporter or two should talk to some of the other business owners in Dry Ridge and see if the ark has had an impact.

Granted the ark park isn't doing as well as kennie wants it to do.  His early predictions of attendance, approximately 2,000,000 per year were cut to between 1.4 and 2.2 million for the first year back in 2016.  The reality is that its been open just over a year and hasn't hit the 1 million mark yet, the reports say it might hit it next month . . . might?.  Not a good sign!  Other more reasonable estimates say about 345,000 average per year, recognizing that the first few years will see the most visitors.  Only time will tell which sets of numbers are nearer to accurate.

Attractions generally do best in their first few years, and then attendance drops.  That's why they are continually adding new attractions to keep their core audience coming back year after year.  I have a friend who has been to Disney World every year since he was 18, he's 40 now.  Little kennie is no different, he plans to add other features, I've seen mention of a Tower of Babel and a re-creation of Sodom and Gomorrah.  I believe those exhibits were going to be part of the ark park originally but it had to be scaled down after the failure of much of his funding schemes.

He, little kennie, learned a bit from his first ego monument, the Creation pseudo-museum, and how it was getting pretty poor numbers after being open for several years, He did try and added a petting zoo, gardens, and a zip line -- but opening the ark park has bolstered those attendance numbers at his other ego monument and quite possibly saved kennie's bacon for now.  The question is will the normal statistical occurrence of dropping numbers occur with the ark park?  Has any attraction, particularly one based loosely on the Bible bucked that trend?  I am not aware of any.  Many that have existed are closed, like Jim and Tammy Fey Bakker's Heritage USA and Dr. Dino's Dinosaur Adventure Land.

Do I really care about the economic numbers?  To be honest, not much.  My main issue with the park, and kennie's nearby pseudo-museum, is the message of ignorance they proclaim.  When I was at the pseudo-museum I listened to a parent explaining how perfect the world was before Adam at the apple and how sin and disease are all because of Adam.  The poor kid was swallowing it up!  I'm sure the parent believed it as well, more's the pity.

The person I felt most sorry for was the child.  Once you get locked into such a narrow belief set, how many educational and career fields become closed because of your closed-mind.  With church attendance shrinking, there's only room for so many ministers, right?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Does Protectionism Work? Not Economic, but Theological Protectionism.

One of the limits on our Freedom of Expression is frequently described as "If you are going to yell 'Fire!' in a movie theater, there had better be a fire."  It's expressed this way to remind folks that freedom of expression isn't an absolute freedom, but one that comes with responsibilities.  Wisconsin is dealing with such an issue.  Here is something to consider:

Rep. Terese Berceau, a Madison Democrat, was quizzing Rep. Jesse Kremer, her Republican colleague from Kewaskum, at a hearing for his proposed Campus Free Speech Act before the state Assembly’s Committee on Colleges and Universities recently. . . 
“Is it okay for the professor to tell them they’re wrong?” Berceau asked during the lengthy session on May 11.
“The earth is 6,000 years old,” Kremer offered. “That’s a fact.”
"Gagging the UW: Critics worry campus speech bill is another attack on academic freedom" (The Cap Times, Madison, Wisconsin, 7 June 2017)
Granted Kemer also said:
“this bill stays out of the classroom.”
But then he immediately reversed himself suggesting that:
"So the law could potentially cover things that happen in the classroom."
Notice that Kremer never said whether or not the professor can tell them they are wrong or not.  How crazy is this?

You know, I can understand a student being unwilling to voice an opinion that differs from the curriculum, like trying to say the Earth is 6000 years old in a Geology class.  But it's a GEOLOGY class and religious-based opinions, no matter how factual anyone would like to claim, has little place in the classroom -- except for maybe a historical perspective.  If the student really, truly holds that as one of their core religious beliefs . . . then WTF are they doing in a Geology class?

But this proposed bill will not only make it easier to voice their religious-based opinion, but what happens when they answer a question on an exam using those fact-less religious perspectives?  If this law doesn't specifically forbid it, you know someone is going to use it to defend their religion.  That is not how science works!  A religious-based opinion is NOT the same as a scientific theory.  One is nothing but conjecture, the other is based on actual evidence!  While theists like to think so, religious writings are not evidence!

These sort of laws are designed to force a University to remain neutral when addressing such topics.  But that, to me, is a smokescreen.  Theists, particularly religious conservatives, know damn well they cannot compete with evidence-based science, so how do you fight against it, you get the politicians to pass laws protecting your viewpoint.  A point to consider, in the long run, how successful is this strategy? Anyone else remember these:
This is a short list, there have been others, like when the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) filed a lawsuit against the University of California.  Bottom line is the ACSI was using religious books to teach a variety of college preparatory courses and were unhappy when University rejected those courses.  The results:
On August 8, 2008, Judge Otero entered summary judgment against plaintiff ACSI, upholding the University of California's standards.  The university found the books "didn't encourage critical thinking skills and failed to cover 'major topics, themes and components' of U.S. history" and were thus ill-suited to prepare students for college.
There are a great many similar cases, where the religious try to use the legal system to protect their religious views.  Once examined objectively, the offered protection fails.  See what I mean?  In the short run this sort of protectionism ends up losing when challenged. What is really short-sighted is how much damage does this do to your belief set once you lose this challenge? Remember what St. Augustine tried to teach:
Augustine took the view that, if a literal interpretation contradicts science and our God-given reason, the Biblical text should be interpreted metaphorically. While each passage of Scripture has a literal sense, this "literal sense" does not always mean that the Scriptures are mere history; at times they are rather an extended metaphor. (Augustine of Hippo, De Genesi ad literam 1:19–20, Chapt. 19 [408], De Genesi ad literam, 2:9)
Instead of learning that lesson, theists go the protection route, a route that has failed them over and over again.  You cannot claim that your religious opinions as fact without backing it up with real evidence!  Without the evidence, any temporary legal protection breaks down as that lack of evidence gets displayed over and over again.

The downside is this constant cycle of attempted protectionism fails, but the ones who get hurt the most are the students.  How many scientific careers are closed off because not only does a student hold outdated ideas, like the Earth is 6000 years old, but when a professor attempts to correct a student, a politicized protection law may make it illegal!

Tell me, other than working at place like Answers in Genesis (AiG), how much value with a Geology education that includes very little Geology?  Where do most geologist work?  Oil and gas drilling, mining, construction (dams and bridges) , hydro-geology (drinking water). . . don't such employers have an expectation as to the education of their employees?  How can that happen when protection of religious opinions take precedence over education?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ark Park: Economic Boom or Bust?

There have been a great many articles about the economic impact that 'little kennie' ham's latest monument to his own ego, the Ark Park, has had on the local community.  The clear majority has been bad news for the citizens who thought it was going to be a tourist goldmine.

If you remember, one of the rationalizations that kennie used to sell the building of his ark park was how many visitors it would being into Grant County, Ky and the surrounding area.  By portraying it as a tourist trap and not a ministry, he sold it to the State and local governments who granted him all sorts of incentives and breaks.

But in all the press concerning such economic benefits, I have seen only one semi-positive article, the rest portrayed communities feeling more than a little victimized.  There was one that should to be viewed with a grain of salt . . . it was written by little kennie himself ("Economic benefits of Ark Park unfairly downplayed").  The clear majority of the reporting has shown that the ark park hasn't meet the expectations of the citizens who are paying for those incentives and breaks.  Here are a few examples:
"While a steady stream of visitors has flocked to visit the ark and the nearby Creation Museum, the impact on Williamstown’s economy has been far less than what many local residents expected." (Answers in Genesis? Ark, other attractions haven't boosted economy as expectedThe Daily Independent, June 7, 2017)
"Stormey Vanover is less hopeful. . . . She has operated Country Heart Crafts on Williamstown’s Main Street for the past nine years, sometimes with a profit, sometimes at a loss. “We do get a few people from the Ark, but they don’t really know we’re here,” she said amid the Kentucky-made soaps, candles and ornaments featured in her store, which is surrounded by empty storefronts. “It’s just not impacting us the way we thought it would.” " (Town expected flood of business after Noah’s Ark opened. So far, it’s a trickle, Lexington Herald Leader, June 2, 2017)
But the project’s single largest source of funding was actually $62 million in junk bonds floated by the town of Willamstown, population less than 4,000, home to the Ark Encounter and the county seat of Grant County, which faced bankruptcy this spring.“In terms of revenue for the county, we don’t get too much from them,” says the county’s chief executive, Stephen Wood. The Ark Encounter negotiated a vastly discounted 30-year rate on property taxes in 2013 under a previous administration. “I hate it, but that’s the deal,” says Wood.(A giant ark is just the start. These creationists have a bigger plan for recruiting new believers., The Washington Post, May 24, 2017 )
So, with the conclusion that the economic windfall isn't happening, the next question is who is to blame.  While that might not sound like a fair question, it does need to be addressed because little kennie, for all his pronouncements about how well the ark park is doing, posted this today:
"Recently, a number of articles in the mainstream media, on blogs, and on well-known secularist group websites have attempted to spread propaganda to brainwash the public into thinking our Ark Encounter attraction is a dismal failure. Sadly, they are influencing business investors and others in such a negative way that they may prevent Grant County, Kentucky, from achieving the economic recovery that its officials and residents have been seeking." (The Secularist Media War Against the Ark Continues, Answers in Genesis Ministry News, June 12, 2017)
Basically it's the atheists' fault.  Regardless of the lack of reporting from little kennie on actual attendance figures, or economic information impact, it's all the secular groups' fault.  Now I have a question, do you think believers in kennie's narrow version of the universe really pay much attention to the media, especially when the media isn't particularly flattering about one of their ministries?

I'm serious, I don't think anything the media says would affect their interest to visit kennie's ministries.  The media hasn't been particularly flattering to his Creation 'museum' and it seems to be making kennie lots of money, but not the communities in the surrounding area.  So, if anything, the media's representation of the ark park is probably keeping some people away, but would those people want to visit it anyway?

Serious question, while some might visit out of curiosity, but no media coverage, flattering or not, will get most people who disagree with kennie's point of view to visit one of his ministries.  So why aren't the local communities experiencing some sort of economic renaissance?  One thing might be kennie's overstated projections.  In his post Kennie said ". . . The economic recovery that the officials and residents have been seeking" but that's not an accurate picture.  It's not just that those communities were seeking, but that's the economic impact kennie said they would receive . . . providing they gave kennie all sorts of incentives and breaks so he could build his ministry there.  They did, yet the economic benefits are going where exactly?

Before the ark park was built, little kennie made a number of projections made, he even reduced his final set of attendance estimates to between 1.4  and 2.2 million visitors a year, recent reports say he's close to seeing his 1 millionth visitor -- which is interesting since it's been open over a year now.  More realistic estimates claimed while the first year will bring in many curious believers, as time goes on, it will decline to about 375,000 a year.  Far below his projections.

While it would be nice to blame kennie, the fault isn't entirely his.  Yes, his forecasts and projections have been mostly smoke, but the local people and their elected officials are also responsible.  What they should have told kennie when he announced plans to build his ministry was "Have fun!"  They should not have offered any incentives or tax breaks, after all it's a ministry.  But they were looking for a lifeline and that bought into kennie's overly optimistic numbers. Remember the adage "Let the buyer beware.", well they bought into it and now they get to pay for the privilege.  If I recall correctly. kennie forecasted 3000 new jobs, but in reality on about 900 have materialized.  A small county not getting 2100 anticipated jobs is another significant impact.

Things are so bad for Grant County that they may have to go bankrupt.  But they do have a plan, and it hits kennie where it hurts, in his wallet.  They are proposing a $0.50 tax on entertainment ticket sales.  We wrote about it in "Greedy Shepherd Annoyed that the Sheared Sheep are Making Noise".  Little kennie claims such a tax would force him to raise his $40 ticket price.  Sure, 1.25% tax is going to 'force' his to raise his ticket prices.  It wouldn't have been necessary if kennie had made realistic projections and the county understood what it was getting.  But that is a little too much to ask.  

What I will say, at this point, is someone is making money off of the ark park, and it's not the local community.  Gee, I wonder who it could be?  In the meantime, little kennie's 'ark of ignorance' is open for business while the rest of the area might not be able to say that for long.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Do Creationists Understand How Science Works? Apparently Not! (Part II)

Yet another example of trying to take one of the strengths of Science and claiming that it as a Negative.  As I've said many times, and as evidenced by scientific advances time and time again, science doesn't stand still.  As we learn more and more, we adjust the scientific theories, the explanations of what we are learning, in order to better explain the world around us.  Think of any field and think about the changes from 100 years ago, or 50, or 25, hell even just 5 years ago.  We learn, we adjust.  Nothing is carved in stone!  That's one of the main strengths of science and scientific methodology.

But of course any change, small or large, is portrayed by the Discovery Institute as proof that science doesn't work. In this post "Another Day, Another “Rewrite” on Human Origins", you can see it in the title, without bothering the read the article itself.  Here's the closing paragraph:
"The more that experts on human evolution know about our origins, the less they seem to actually understand. Given evolutionary presuppositions, the direction of research and learning is not from lesser to greater clarity, but just the opposite. The result is, as Scientific American more candidly puts it, a “mess” (“Ancient Fossils from Morocco Mess Up Modern Human Origins”). If that is the case, maybe the problem is with the presuppositions."
First off, I have to ask  . . . which is it?  Is the scientific community hidebound, parochial, and too steeped in their own righteousness to examine mew ideas . . . or, as the DI claims here, so open to new ideas that we really don't know anything?

Think about it, how many times has the DI whined and complained because 'Big Science' doesn't let anyone play because they have it all sewn up?  That was one of the messages from that abortion "Expelled:  No Intelligence Allowed!", it's also been a constant theme from the DI as they portray themselves as champions of science because they are willing to consider all ideas, including their religious ones.  Yet as real science learns more and more, we change our explanations pretty often.  

So which is it?  Are we too locked into 'presuppositions' or too close-minded because no one outside of very specific religious circles gives Intelligent Design serious consideration.  You sure can't tell from reading posts, books, and articles from the DI.  

The DI also seems to have a problem with English.  Here is the definition of 'presupposition' :
"a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action." (Google: Presupposition)
Is a scientific theory a 'Presupposition'?  That's where the typical word games of the DI try and take us.  Theories are explanations based on the current state of our understanding AND are subject to change.  There is no 'tacit assumption', if that were so they would never change.  But . . . when you look at the explanations offered by religion, what changes there?  Don't Creationists 'presuppose' answers before even examining the question?  Isn't that exactly what the DI is guilty of, presupposing an intelligent cause for no other reason than they believe it to be so.  They offer no evidence other than their presupposition.

So, science is bad because it changes, yet religion is good because it doesn't change . . . yet religious answers to scientific questions are worthless whereas scientific answers actually work.  So there you have it folks, if you don't want to change, join a religion.  But when you hit the switch for your TV things might not work well because the high priests at the power plants are busy praying instead of learning how to run the place.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Isn't it Time We Protect Children From Religion?

Do you remember those TV shows, like 'When Sharks Attack" or "When Ghosts Attack"?  I think it's time for one called "When Religion Attacks".  The problem is the usual victims are children.  Yes, a couple of more examples of religious parents inflicting their religion on defenseless children.

I do want to first remind you that back in 2011, Followers of Christ members Dale and Shannon Hickman were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison for the death of their newborn baby in Oregon City.  They have lost all appeals and hopefully they are still serving their sentences!

But, this isn't about them.  Did you know Shannon Hickman has a sister, Sarah Mitchell. The real pity is she now has something else in common with her sister, aside from being members of the same church. She and her husband, Travis, are charged with murder in connection to the death the death of one of her newborn twins.  Same reason, refusing to get medical help and relied on prayer instead.  Being surrounded by 60 fellow church members wasn't much help.

See what I mean when I talk about 'When Religion Attacks'? Unfortunately, all too often it's children like Ian, Neil, Matthew, Austin, Amy, Robyn, Andrew, Harrison, Nancy, Dennis, Arrian, Zachery, Troy, Shauntay, and Rhett. who all died because some people, often their theist parents, believed prayer beats out medical care.

The downside isn't just death, but a life of misery. 20-year-old Mariah Watson, who would like to see her parents prosecuted for what they did to her, or rather what they failed to do.   Mariah has a condition called pulmonary hypertension. Her current situation could have been prevented if doctors had closed the small congenital hole in her heart in her infancy or childhood.  Now she's waiting a risky heart and lung transplant because of all the damage this reparable condition has caused her.  She is permanently disabled and requires a breathing machine or oxygen tank.  She didn't get any medical treatment until she managed it on her own, in her late teens.  I guess rancid olive oil rubbed on the skin isn't as effective as actual medial treatment, who would have thought?

Unlike Oregon, where Hickman and Mitchell lived, Mariah lives in Idaho which has one of those religious shield laws which may be enough to protect her parents from prosecution, even in the event of her death from this treatable condition.  If you wonder why I have issues with religion, now you know!

Inflicting a belief set on a child should be illegal!  Kids aren't allowed to drive, vote, smoke, drink alcohol, join the military, or even hold a job until they reach certain ages.  Those laws are for the protection of the children.  Isn't it time we protected them from religion?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

So There is Nothing Religious about Intelligent Design (Part XII)

I have to wonder, if there is nothing religious about ID, why this:

"On a new episode of ID the Future, author J. Warner Wallace talks with Center for Science & Culture research coordinator Brian Miller about the role that Wallace’s work as a cold-case detective played in his first analyzing the evidence for intelligent design. 
. . . 
That evidence played a key role in Wallace’s own spiritual and intellectual journey. He says he was attracted to the story and person of Jesus. However, in the course of exploring religion questions, he asked himself whether science and reason allowed for any view inconsistent with philosophical materialism." ("A Cold-Case Detective Weighs the Evidence for Intelligent Design")
Aside from the idea of the DI even has a 'research coordinator', a question we sort of already addressed in "The Discovery Institute has Opened an ID Center in Brazil! Quite Possibly the Perfect Retirement Job!", I underlined a couple of points to illustrate things that make it harder and harder to separate Intelligent Design from its religious roots.

No, I haven't listened to the podcast.  You might think I am remiss is not doing so, but when the description is so obviously theistic, do you really need to put yourself through it?  I don't believe so.  Like the DI's pseudo-scientific writings -- where they use lots of scientific-sounding language, I would expect this pseudo-detective to use lots of investigatory-sounding words and phrases, but at the heart of it is his personal spiritual journey -- which makes it all suspect from the start.

Now you might think I am overstepping things by calling him a pseudo-detective, after all, he is a detective, or at least he was one at one time.  However, is he acting as a detective when using his 'spiritual journey' as a basis for this conversation?

This is similar to a question we've dealt with before, "Whether or not a Creationist can be a Scientist?"  We've answered it simply that Creationists can be scientists -- but only if they are able to set-aside their creationist-beliefs and look at the world in a more objective fashion.  Those that cannot will forever be known as 'Creation Scientists' and their impact on real science will be marginal.

Those who are acting as scientists, especially those recognized for their work as scientists are those who are produced scientific work that is not based on their beliefs, but on supportable, falsifiable, and explainable science.  Little kennie ham himself once identified such an individual a few years back.  Of course kennie focused on his beliefs -- but never seemed to find a tie between his beliefs and his work.  We talked about him in "Documentary vs Documentary-Style -- aka Reality vs Fiction":
"A Renowned Creation Scientist, Inventor of MRI".  No one has ever pointed to any part of the theories behind magnetic imaging and said "and here is where God did such-and-such." or "here is the part that is based on creationism".  The celebrated work was not based on any religious belief, but on actual science -- supportable, falsifiable, and explainable science.  
So I am sure this detective has had success as a detective, but I am equally sure his religious beliefs were not mentioned in any report when he actually closed a case, much in the way Raymond Damadian's beliefs were not part of his MRI work. Therein lies the difference between a scientist, or a detective, who is a Creationist and a 'Creation Scientist/Detective'.  So when I refer to him as a pseudo-detective, that's the point I am trying to make.  He's no longer acting as a 'detective' when he starts using his religion, but as a pseudo-detective.  But back to my main point.

If there is nothing religious about Intelligent Design, then such a discussion wouldn't be based on his spiritual journey.  But since you cannot intellectually separate the two, listening to this podcast would be a waste of time. This is nothing more than another believer couching his belief in terms that try and mislead the listener into thinking they are some sort of objective investigator, when you already know from the start that it isn't true.

In my opinion anyone who can separate the two is lying and doing their best to mislead people.  If you disagree, just look at the words and 'tactics of mistake' the DI has been using for years.  They try and try to divest themselves of Creationism and Religion, not because they don't believe in it, but because they know it places a huge legal roadblock in worming their way into the classroom.  Look at their marketing efforts and who they keep targeting.  Are they doing the scientific legwork to gain actual acceptance within the scientific community? No, they are marketing to religious groups for support and politicians for legal assistance in pushing their religious agenda.

Of course you can read all their denials, and then they post something like this which makes the ties that bind them tighter and tighter to Creationism.    They whine and bitch about the metaphorical noose that spelled such disaster for them in Dover, and then tighten it even more with posts like this.

Division along Racial Lines is Bad, but Division along Religious Lines is OK! Really?

The Gospel Herald has an article about one of my favorite targets, little kennie ham of the Answers in Genesis, Creation 'museum' and Ark Park fame. In it they quote little kennie talking about racism:

"There aren't 'white' or 'black' people-we're all the same color," Ham wrote in a Facebook post. "All humans have the same basic color of skin (which comes from the pigment melanin) just different shades--there are no 'white' or 'black' people. Using terms like 'white' and 'black' promotes division, racism, and prejudice--all are brown." ()
My issue doesn't address race, but division and prejudice.  Yes there are specific terms are divide people in many ways.  In recent years we've seen huge examples of divisiveness due to politics, more so than I can ever remember.  But there is another set of divisive terms and for some reason kennie not only doesn't address them, but promotes them.  They have to do with religion.

This is the same man who is hosting a 'World Religions Conference' next month and the stated purpose of that conference:
""Join us for the World Religions Conference July 24-27 and please share this with friends and family members who might be interested.More than ever, Christians need to know what other religions believe and then learn how to reach the lost souls mired in them." (World Religion Conference)"
Let me repeat the last part of that: "reach the lost souls mired in them".  So we are expected to believe this is a person whose wants to end divisiveness and prejudice?  And yet shows absolutely no tolerance for any religious beliefs other than his own!  What makes his belief set any better than any other?  Absolutely nothing!  In my opinion, the fact that kennie believes it, should be a huge warning flag to anyone with a functioning brain!

He preaches that we are all one people, but it only works for kennie if we all share one religion, his religion.  It's not even mainstream Christianity any more, but a narrow version of Christianity based on his personal beliefs.  It may have started with Christianity once upon a time, but it's evolved into something much more divisive and prejudicial.  How can someone claim to against divisiveness when he clearly demonstrate s prejudice against anyone who fails to share his narrow viewpoint.

You can't even work for ham unless you share that view.  Here is a copy from the AiG Employment Website for the requirements for a Plumber:
Remember, this is for a Plumber, not a minister, a plumber.  But to work for kennie at any of his ministries, you have to share his narrow religious viewpoint. I can understand the first three, but what do the last three have to do with your ability as a plumber?  Although, you might ask why kennie would need a plumber, won't prayer handle any problems?

One of the things you can expect if you visit one of kennie ham's monuments to his own ego, is the lack of any sort of freedom of expression.  Back in 2009 the Secular Students of America visited the place and there was a number of email exchanges pretty much guaranteeing that free speech is not allowed, particularly any attire the Creation Museum staff decided was 'godless'.  Here is one example.

I was in attendance that day as well and found the SSA folks to be quiet and reserved.  I didn't notice any 'godless' clothing, but I did listen to a guy who was told to turn his shirt inside out because it said "There probably is no God".  A valid opinion, but not if you are kennie's place.  See what I mean, how divisive is an arbitrary limit on freedom of expression.

This is also the man who was dis-invited from two homeschool conferences back in 2011 for what was described by the organizers for:
"The Board believes that Ken's public criticism of the convention itself and other speakers at our convention require him to surrender the spiritual privilege of addressing our homeschool audience," read the email, posted on the AiG website."Our Board believes Ken's comments to be unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst," the homeschooling group wrote, however, that it is "100% young earth" in its scientific stance."
Look at the words:  "divisive at best and defamatory at worst"!  Little kennie, and his 'Hamians', are among the most divisive people on the planet.  They believe so strongly in their particular religious strain, that they are perfectly OK with discriminating against the rest of the world, the overwhelming majority of which don't share his views.  We don't even have to get into his views on the LGBT community to realize how divisive and prejudicial Ham and Co. is.  So take his post about racial divisiveness with a large bag of salt.  He doesn't care about it, he's just using it to market his religion. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Further Evidence of the Myth of Biblical Literalism

I haven't posted about Biblical Literalism lately, there really hasn't much to say.  However, today, over on one of the other blogs I read regularly, "Religion Prof: The Blog of James F. McGrath" is a new post which drives home one of the many issues with Biblical Literalism "The Bible is Getting More Loving".

The issue I am talking about is something often denied by literalists, on how the Bible changes with the various translations.  Yes, the Bible changes, much more often than people realize!  Today's post is a clear demonstration of that:

Original Source
As you can see the Bible is constantly changing . . . evolving, you might say if you really want to annoy most literalists.  One of the common themes of such literalists is doing their best to ignore many of the more uncomfortable parts of the Bible.  As Prof McGrath posted back in 2008, and I discussed here, a recipe for Biblical Literalism:
"Take one part overly-familiar Bible verses. 
Repeat these verses over and over again until a thick, opaque layer is formed. Use this layer to cover the remaining 39 parts consisting of Bible verses that do not talk about the same subject as those more familiar verses, verses which seem to disagree with them, as well as verses you don't understand, verses you understand but do not put into practice, and any other verses you could happily live without. Bake until the lower verses are obscured from view.

Avoid stirring and serve."
Prof McGrath closed this latest post with::
"It illustrates the way translations reflect linguistic, cultural, and theological changes."
I think he missed one, 'political', because many of the changes noted in the King James Version (KJV) were specifically designed to deal with some of the political issues facing the King.  Imagine what the Bible would look like if a certain hampster-haired serial liar and misogynist got to direct a re-write?  Scary, huh?

And so we close another chapter on the ongoing myth of Biblical Literalism!

Do Creationists Understand How Science Works? Apparently Not!

Apparently not. One of the Discovery Institute (DI) talking heads has a new book out, and in a 'video conversation' he claims that "Fossil Finds Only Confuse Human Origins".

But my issue is more serious than that bit of misleading labeling -- I mean 'video conversation'?  Just what is 'conversational' about the video?.  His words characterized my issue:
"The problem with such fossil finds is that they never provide the lasting clarity about human origins . . ."
Now, for years the DI has been claiming that science is too hidebound, that is they are too resistant to new idea . . . specifically Intelligent Design.  Think it through, did you see the DI supported 'Expelled' pseudo-mockumentary?  Their moniker of 'Big Science' to try and create this feeling that there is some huge secret monolithic organization controlling scientific thought.  How about the DI developed 'academic freedom bills' which have nothing to do with academic freedom, but are designed to cast doubt on actual science without offering a viable alternative.

And yet here we have Wells whining that new discoveries only confuse things and that:
" . . . each discovery complicates matters even more than they were complicated before."
This particular post from none-other-than little davey 'klingy' klinghoffer, closes with:
"If Darwinian theory accurately characterized the history of life and satisfactorily identified the engines of biological evolution, it would provide more clarity as time went by, not less. Don’t you think?"
Actually when I read this I saw a common theme (e.g.: Teaching People to Mistrust Science and If You Don't Know It All, Then You Don't Know Anything . . . Really? are a couple of examples that I've commented on it before). That if science cannot answer every question to an absolute degree of certainty, it should be tossed aside.  That's garbage, plain and ordinary garbage.  It's not even the creative kind of garbage we've all come to expect form the DI.

One of science's strengths is its ability to change as we learn new things.  I've said it before, scientific theories are like snapshots in time.  They are the best explanation we have today based on our current state of knowledge.  Tomorrow, as we learn more, we not only have the ability to adjust our thinking and theories, but we have the desire to do so.  If this were not the case, we would still be living in caves -- if we dared set foot in a cave in the first place.
I can see it now, a group of neanderthals standing in the rain, looking at a cave.  The ones with more forethought are trying to move into the cave and out of the rain.  But there is always at least one in the group who wants to stand out in the rain, because they don't know everything about the cave to begin with.  It might be wet inside, there might be an animal in it, it might even be dark -- or the ultimate whine 'the spirits might not like it'.  There's always at least one who refuses to even look inside the cave to get a better understanding.  Who needs understanding when you think you already have the answers!

Science is a process, and Wells' comments further convince me that the DI doesn't understand the process or how it works.  If they understood the process, they wouldn't say such foolish things.  And if they understood how the process worked, they wouldn't whine so often about not being taken seriously -- they would know why no one takes them seriously.  But admitting such would dry up their funding from religious sources, which is nearly all of their funding.  I mean if anyone was after actual scientific results, the DI is the last place they would go asking questions.

I do have a question for klingy and Wells . . . which is it?  Is science so locked into its dogma that it cannot evaluate new ideas . . . or do new ideas only confuse and complicate things?  So which is it?  I have a suggestion.  It's not that science is closed to new ideas, what they are closed to is religion and pseudo-science masquerading as if was actual science.  If Wells thinks new knowledge confuses things, I can understand that -- after all how much change does a Creationist ever admit too!