Posts Tagged ‘creation science’

Creationist Dirty Tricks: Censorship on YouTube

20 June 2009

For the past year or so, various YouTube channels have been the target of a campaign of censorship by Creationists. THis campaign has consisted of the following:

  • filing false DMCA claims. Filing a false DMCA -wherein an person oo organization claims ownership of a video that they do not really own – is considered perjury and is illegal and the filer can face civil and criminal charges in a court of law;
  • False flagging. YouTube has a flagging feature which allows users to mark a video as potentially unsuitable for minors to watch or could be a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service. In theory, a YT moderator is supposed to actually look at the video to confirm this, but due to the large number of videos on the site, it appears that YT simply takes the flaggers’ word for it and marks the video without confirming its content. This has become common knowledge and is an often-used tactic;
  • Down-rating comments. ThHis involves marking a videos comments with a “thumbs-down”. This used to involve marking only the comments that supported the video, but it is far easier to simply mark them all, so the person doing this doesn’t have to read the hundreds or thousands of comments that are posted;
  • Marking comments as Spam. If comment rating is disabled, in order to protect them from the previous tactic, then a user can mark a comment as Spam. With enough marks, the comment is hidden from view, unless some one clicks on Reply. Due to the amount of time it takes to do this, many people might not take that step;
  • Votebotting. This involves using a computer program to rate a video with One Star ratings, in order to prevent the video from appearing in search engines on YouTube. You simply run the program and it goes to each video several times, each time giving it a One Star rating. Supposedly, only registered users can rate a video, but there seems to be a glitch in YT’s system that does allow such programs to function without hinderance. As a result, even though a video may have only a few hundred views, it could still have thousands of One Star ratings. This has become the favored tactic of creationists in their fight against the pro-science (i.e. the side that explains the Theory of Evolution and debunks creationists’ claims) due to the total lack of legal consequences and YouTube’s lack of self-policing, as well as YouTube’s apparent lack of concern that this is even happening.

When YT users, such as Thunderf00t, posted videos calling for viewers to directyl contact YT to complain about the above tactics being used against their channels, YouTube would either ignore the complaints or would retaliate against the channel by suspending them or even closing their account permanently.

As such, the pro-science and atheist channels on YouTube have been censored and harassed with little or nothing they could do in response.

Few Christians have publicly condemned the above tactics being used, as it seeems to make their propagandizing on YT easier by eliminating the opposing side.

As pointed-out by YouTube user cdk007, this camapign of censorship only proves that creationists have no argument against evolution that can stand-up to scientific scrutiny and they must resort to dirty tricks in order to try to win the argument.

However, instead of “winning”, the usage of the above tactics and the failure of the general Christian community on YouTube to condemn them only shows that they have lost the debate and have nothing to bring to the table.

Here is a list of some of the hardest-hit channels on YouTube. feel free to watch their videos and subscribe, if you like:

Thunderf00t
AronRa
Potholer54

DonExodus2
ExtantDodo
AndromedasWake

dprjones
FFreeThinker
djarm67
ThetaOmega
JaguarJ0nes
ZOMGitsCriss
C0ct0pusPrime

These are just a few of the many channels hit by the censorship campaign. You will find links to other channels through them. You can also find a more complete list at the League of Reason webforum.

It seems that creationists have realized that they have no argument against science. So, they have decided to try to silence the opposing side through a cowardly censorship campaign.

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My Thoughts on YouTube User VenomFangX

27 May 2009

If you ever wanted to make a list of the most contoversial YouTube users, you would have to include a young man from Canada who called himself VenomFangX,

Shawn (his real first name, which he openly admitted) is a devout Christian and Creationist. He made numerous videos expounding Creationism, borrowing much of his source material from convicted criminal and former minister Kent Hovind. While Hovind and Shawn may convince those without a scientific backbround, people with scientific educations find such “information” laughable and several YouTube users, posted videos of their own debunking the claims of Shawn, as well as ridiculing him. The most famous groups of video series posted in response to Shawn and other Creationists on YouTube include:

There are, of course, other videos posted by these and other users, but these are the most well-known. Shawn’s initial response to these videos was to attempt to get into “debates” with these posters. However, Shawn’s near-total lack of a scientific education made any sort of debate with him to be a waste of time for the people he challenged and VenomFangX even admitted in one of his videos to Thunderf00t that he simply wanted to try to get Thunderf00t to “get out of his scientific bubble” and get him to try to see the world and universe from Shawn’s perspective. In other words, he wanted to preach Christianity to Thunderf00t in some sort of attempt to convert him. He even asked his subscribers to send messages to Thunderf00t to pressure him into agreeing to watch Shawn’s videos and debate him. However, Thunderf00t rejected the offer.  Shawn’s attempts to contact Thunderf00t and earn his respect seemed to border on the level of an obsessed fanboy, which Thunderf00t found to be rather disturbing and insulting.

While Thunderf00t and the other YouTube users allowed comments and ratings on their videos by anyone, Shawn did not. VenomFangX closed his comments to “approval only”, which meant that only the comments he allowed would be posted and it gave the appearance that everyone who commented on his videos agreed with him. When this point was brought-up, he did not change his practise and he also disabled ratings, so that no one could rate his videos either and neither could anyone post video responses. As such, Thunderf00t nicknamed Shawn “Posterboy from Creationist Stupidity” (PCS) and Shanw has been called PCS by numerous non-Creationists on YouTube ever since.

In an obvious attempt to eliminate the counter-arguments of Thunderf00t and others, Shawn began to file DMCA complaints against over 150 individual videos posted on YouTube. For a time, these videos were removed and a shitstorm of controversy was the result. Shawn tried to claim that “a friend” had filed the DMCAs on his behalf, but this was soon proven to be untrue and Shawn was revealed as the filer of those complaints. This resulted in Thunderf00t calling for Shawn to either shutdown his account for six months or face criminal and/or civil prosecution for his abuse of the DMCA system. At first, Shawn tried to bluff his way out of it, along with encouragement from other Creationists, but eventually was forced to admit his guilt for filing the false DMCAs and lying in an attempt to cover it up.

After receiving this smackdown, Shawn was a bit quieter than he had been before. However, he soon began to find new ways to offend people.

For a few days, Shawn closed his account after claiming that people had obtained his personal information and had threatened his family. Shawn posted a video announcing this, saying goodbye to everyone. However, he did log-into his account over the next few days and eventually returned with a video consisting of clips from his supporters’ videos asking for his return. This bit of drama was derided by his opponents as nothing more than appealing for sympathy.

In one of Shawn’s earliest videos, he appealed for a video camera and soon received one from a supporter. However, in clips of many of his videos, Shawn revealed that he lives in a palacial home with expensive decor, which made such appeals to seem selfish. He was obviously not from a poor family, so was seen as having no business asking for donations of any kind. In my view, even if some one knew that Shawn is from a wealthy family, but still wanted to give him a donation, that was certainly the donor’s choice.

Later, after Shawn claimed to have lost his job at a video store – after having used the store’s equpiment to copy DVDs from Kent Hovind’s organization and playing the DVD “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” on the store’s television and giving-away copies of Hovind DVDs to store customers as a way of prostelytizing to store customers – Shawn posted a video asking for people to financially support him so that he could Preach the Gospel as a full-time preacher. Specifically, he asked for at least 500 people to donated $1 each. He said that he would keep $500 for his own use and give anything over the $500 to Sick Kids Hospital. Shawn began to receive donations of more that $5 from several people, including donations of $500 from a couple of individuals, which was far in excess of the $500 he had initially asked for. A YouTube user, ImSoCritical, posted a comment that Shawn should simply put the excess into a savings account to carryover into the next month, rather than giveaway the excess. This account is seen by some, including myself, to be a sockpuppet account that Shawn used to post supportive cooments to himself. Whatever the case may be, Shawn soon abandoned the idea of giving away the money he received in excess of the $500 and began to spend it on other things, whether related to his ministry or not. These expenses included paying for parking at the college he preached at, car expenses and video recording equipment.

When pressure was brought on by people asking why he didn’t donate to the hospital, Shawn’s reply was that he had asked for 500 people to donate $1 each, but he said that, since he had wanted 500 donors, he still had not reached his goal. This flew in direct contradiction of his initially stating that he wanted only $500 per month and instead counted only the number of donors. So, if he received, say, $1000 from 499 people, he did not feel obligated to give any money to charity until he had gotten money from the 500th donor. While he did end-up making donations to various charitable organizations, he did not donate any money to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, but instead to other Christian groups.

In response to apparently fraudulent use of the name of Sick Kids Hospital to raise moeny for himself, YT user UNFFwildcard posted this video.

UNFFwildcard’s video was posted both a response to VenomFangX and as a way to raise money for Malaria No More, whose goal; is to supply bed netting for people in Sub-Saharan Africa in an effort to combat the spead of malaria.

This same YT user published further criticism of Shawn here

as well as a Thank You to all YouTube users who have helped in the fundraising drive

Unlike VenomFangX’s donation drive, UNFFwildcard’s effort was fully transparent and you always knew how much money had been raised and exactly where it was going.

Not to let Shawn off-the-hook for what was apparently an an attempt by Shawn to get money from people without having to work for it, another YouTube user lordhathor began his own campaign to interrupt the flow of money into Shawn’s pockets and you can view his playlist here

When Shawn began his donation drive, he stated that he wanted to be a full-time preacher and the donations were simply to financially support him while he did that. He posted videos on his channel showing him witnessing to several students at a local college. This was obviously an attempt by shawn to justify his money-raising and show that he wasn’t simply freeloading on the goodwill of others. Howvever, lordhathor uncovered evidence through an interview with a Christian minister who lives close to Shawn that

  • Shawn was offered an actual job as a missionary with a local church, but turned it down;
  • Shawn’s response to the church that offered him the job that he wasn’t interested in it because he didn’t want to answer to the church’s authorities;
  • Shawn also was not satisfied with the salary offer from the church, since he was making more money than that through his donation drive on YouTube;
  • the videos that showed Shawn converting people to Christianity were actually faked and the people he was preaching to were already Christians and, in some cases, had been so for years;
  • despite Shawn’s claims that he wanted to be a minister, none of the college courses he was taking were related to that occupation.

You can hear the interview on this video

We’ll never know how much money Shawn raised or what he did with it. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter.

In the end, Shawn posted another video on his channel to say goodbye. In this video he stated, once again, that people – Muslims, in this case – had obtained his personal information and sent threats against his life and the lives of his family members. As such , he was shutting-down his channel and deleting all his videos.

He did this…for a few days.

Shawn then reopened his channel, sans videos, and stated that he was giving his channel and its 26,000+ plus subscribers to another YouTube user, known as GEERUP. GEERUP is known as a rather off-the-wall character on YouTube and had less than 2500 subscribers. Now, with Shawn’s subscribers, he has a wider audience. GEERUP believes in the New World Order conspiracy and posted rather strange videos on his own channel. To his credit, CEERUp does allow comments to be posted on his video and allows comments on the VenomFangX channel, which is something Shawn did not. Time will tell if Shawn’s subscribers remain with GEERUP or will tire of his rantings and strange behavior.

Did Shawn really receive threats agaisnt his life and the lives of his family from Muslims, as he claimed? Personally, I don’t think so.

What I do think happened is this:

  • people reported Shawn’s use of the name of Sick Kids Hospital for the purposes of his money-raising;
  • it became obvious that Shawn had given none of the money he collected to that same hospital and had no real intentions of doing so;
  • copies of the video were sent to the Hospital’s legal division, as well as Canada’s Revenue Service and the Toronto police and an investigation of possible fraud was launched;
  • since Shawn lives with his parents, they became aware of what was happening under their roof when they were contacted by law enforcement and/or Sick Kids Hospital as part of this investigation;
  • Shawn’s parents, whom he lives with, were unaware of what he was doing until this contact was made. Since Shawn is over 18, they are not responsible for him or his actions previous to contact. However, now that they became aware, they are now responsible to prevent any further misuses of the name of Sick Kids Hospital by their son while he lives in their home;
  • rather than face criminal and/or civil repurcussions for the actions of their son, as well as damage to their reputations in the community, Shawn’s parents forced him to shutdown his YouTube channel and close his website.

Shawn made one last appeal for people who still wanted to send him money via his Paypal account. It’s anyone’s guess as to how successful this will be for him. For most of us,”Out of sight, out of mind” is how we are and while some of his subscribers will want to help him out, I think that when enough time passes, Shawn will be forgotten by most of his former followers and the money will stop coming in, if it does at all.

Ultimately, here is my assessment of Shawn:

  1. Shawn grew-up in a well-to-do family and his parents indulged him with gifts of expensive items;
  2. Shawn became a Christian recently and became a follower/admirer of Kent Hovind;
  3. Since Shawn was doted-on by his family, he has a strong need for attention and admiration from people around him;
  4. Shawn does not like being criticized by anyone for any reason and reacts badly to it;
  5. Shawn also has a vindictive nature, looking for ways that he can strike back at his detractors with little risk to himself for his actions;
  6. Shawn is a coward and when caught doing illegal or immoral things, will try to bluff or threaten his way out of them;
  7. When Shawn does not receive admiration, he will try to gain sympathy from others. He will settle for people feeling sorry for him, if they cannot admire him;
  8. When Shawn’s parents told him that he had to earn his own money, Shawn attempted to use the job as a platform to garner followers for himself and converts for his religion;
  9. Shawn was always allowed to do whatever he wanted to by his parents and was upset that his employers would not do the same;
  10. Shawn does not like having to work for a living and wanted to find a way to receive money without having worked for it;
  11. Shawn will try to use either people’s admiration or sympathy for him to get money for himself;
  12. He views whatever money he gets as his own money and will be loathe to give it up to anyone for any reason that does not benefit him in some fashion;

Basically, Shawn is just a selfish little punk kid who never had to earn his own money and he discovered that some people would give him money if he asked for it. He’s a lazy piece of shit who doesn’t want to break a sweat on a job and would rather spend his days playing on a computer and living the same carefree life he did when he was a child. Because his parents indulged him, he expects the rest of the world to do the same and he just can’t stand it that we all don’t line-up to kiss his ass.

Finally, it seems that his parents may have realized what a selfish little shit they raised and have taken some belated action to rein him in before he ends-up in prison or the family gets sued. I hope that they sat him down and gave him a good talking-to about how he risked their family’s reputation for his schemes.

Now, I would view this all differently if Shawn lived on his own and appealed for donations from people without mentioning Sick Kids Hospital or any other legitimate charity as a form of leverage to get people to send him money. If he wanted to ask for money on his own and people gave it to him, then I really don’t care. People give money to fake preachers all the time.

But, his use of a legitimate charity’s name to raise money for himself so that he could continue a life of leisure without doing a bit of real work for it just burned me up.

Shawn isn’t even 25 years old yet. I hope the little shit grows-up before his actions land him in criminal or civil court facing real consequences for his nonsense.

He’ll be back, I think. When he’s not getting anymore donations and he feels a need for attention-whoring, he’ll come back to YouTube or some other forum and try to pickup where he left off.

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Tea Party, Part 2

16 April 2009

These are just my own predictions for life in America after the Tea Party Tax Day Protests. Bear in-mind that these are assumptions, based upon my observations of past events and movements like this, so I could be wrong.

Or I could be absolutely right and I think I am.

For one thing, this is not about taxes and never has been. That’s just a cover. Everybody hates paying taxes and Americans are no exception, especially since we created an entire mythology around our own Revolution on “no taxation without representation”.

This whole thing is about the elections across the USA in 2010, 2012 and 2014. That’s it and nothing else. It’s not about creating a popular movement or reforming the tax code.

It’s about creating the next crop of Republican candidates for the next three elections to unseat the Democrats in the White House, Congress, State and local government bodies over the next six years.

The Republican realized after the last election that they had alienated their base of “small government, low taxes, pro-business and pro-family” and they are trying to build some kind of movement of people with that mindset in order to gather enough potential voters to take them into office over the next six years. Plus, the emerging leadership of the anti-tax movement will be looked-over as potential candidates to run in those elections. The ones with the best popular support wil be vetted for future runs for political office, the ones who don’t make the cut may be seen as poptential helpers along the way, but that is doubtful. Remember, there is an entire machine out there for the Republican Party to tap into. All they need are candidates and that’s where this current movement comes in.

In the near future, we’ll be seeing more from the pro-gun lobby, creating a stir about supposed infringements of their right to carry or own firearms. Second Amendment advocacy groups are going to be coming out of the woodwork in the next few months.

Creationism is going to be making the news again soon, as Evangelican Christians use this as a means to further thier own agenda. It won’t take much to stir-up a base of people afraid of their kids learning about Evolution. Certain groups of people don’t want their kids being told that Life got started here on Earth as a natural process, without the need for Divine Intervention or a Divine Plan. Never mind that Creationism, Creation Science and Intelligent Design are laughed-at by real scientists. Most people don’t really know that much about Science and it will be that ignorance – and in many cases, fear – which will be exploited for the purposes of political gain.

Let’s not forget about the Family Values Issue. With four states no legalizing same-sex marriage, anti-gay rights forces will be on the march to reverse those. Yes, they will be trying to have gay marriage made illegal again there and rallying the voters, along with serious cash to try to undo them. Likewise, there will be other movements to undo any legal recognition of civil unions in any of the States that recognize it and will be mobolizing against it in any States where the movement appears to be strongest. Any State that looks like it might even consider recognizing gay marriage or civil unions will be getting some serious attention in the next six years. Forces will be aligned with the anti-abortion movement which has always attracted a strong based of Conservative Christians.

The rise of the “Drill Here, Drill Now” movement during the last election, I anticipate some sort of backlash against the environmental movement and laws that have been passed to curtail the increase of greenhouse gases and pollution. Painting such movements and advocates as “charletans and panickmongers” will be seen in the future, especially in such media as FOX News, which remains one of the most-watched television networks in the USA and whose word is often taken at face value.

Over the next four years, the Right will be atempting to recreate what they accomplish during the Clinton Administration by trying to paint President Obama as a socialist, pro-gay, anti-gun, tax-and-spend Democrat. Any sort of attack on his personal life will be exploited to its fullest extent. As far as his personal life, he certainly has given much less for them to work with than did Clinton, but that will not stop certain groups from looking for such material or making it up out of thin air if it becomes neccessary to do so.

However, it is a point of history that the eight years of the Clinto Administration were far better for the US economy than were the eight years of the Bush Administration. Under Clinton, we had economic growth and budget supluses, while Bush resulted in the exact opposite.

Any positive economic news will be spun to either give credit for it to President Bush and/or attempt to downplay any role that the  Obama Administration policies had in enabling it to happen.

So, we have the potential rank-and-file lined-up to form a base for the Six Year Plan:

  • anti-tax;
  • anti-gay rights;
  • anti-science;
  • anti-environmentalist;
  • pro-gun; and
  • anti-abortion.

Along with a machine to denigrate the Obama Administration at every turn, these people are looking to take back the White House and Congress beginning in 2010.

The sad part of this is that I don’t think the Democrats will even see it coming until they are fighting for their political lives in 2012.

You don’t hear much about Ron Paul anymore. If he doesn’t come out more visibly in the next few months, I think he will become irrelevent. The luster has worn-off, for now, and it will take some sort of action on his behalf to get back into the limelight. I believe that Ron Paul will make an attempt to attach himself to the movement I am describing, but they will not be enthused about his assuming any kind of leadership position. He will be kept at arm’s length, though his supporters’ votes and money will be appreciated and solicited.

Let’s see what happens in the months ahead. Look for activity in the fight to prevent a national health care system in the USA. Michael Moore has gone quiet on this issue and the void will be filled by some one who opposes any step in that direction.

See if I am right.

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Louisiana Becomes Creationism vs Science Battleground

18 January 2009

Providing the basis for a possible, and probable, series of lawsuits, the Louisiana State Board of Education approved a new set of rules to allow the introduction of creationist materials into school classrooms.

After failing on a 5-5 vote to delay adoption of the rules, BESE members unanimously approved them, minus a section that specifically excludes materials promoting “creationism or intelligent design or that advance the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind.” Such language in the rules was determined to be outside the realm of the legislation.

During a committee hearing opponents and advocates of the new rules expressed their views on the subject of whether the new rules should be adopted. The board was most swayed, however, by Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek’s argument that the language was unnecessary. He said “I’m satisfied that you cannot teach creationism or intelligent design” with other language in the rules. The portion he referred to states, “The materials shall not promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion”.

Teaching that life on Earth is the result of divine creation was expressly prohibited by a ruling of the United States Supreme Court, so openly teaching it as science is illegal. However, creationist organizations plan to review science textbooks for what they consider “objectionable material”. I guess they mean anything too scientific for their tastes.

See, this is how it starts. Allow creationist materials to be “available” to teachers, so any teacher who might have religious objections to teaching evolution could dip into the ready-made supply of creationist materials. That would equally be true of any teacher who might be pressured by outside groups to include “just a little” creation “science” as part of their classroom instruction.

According to the five year plan of the Discovery Institute, they want to start with creationism being taught in addition to evolution. From there, they want it to become the dominant scientific perspective in twenty years. Never mind that science has wholly rejected creationism or intelligent design as legitimate, creationists plan to use the ballot box and the general ignorance of science on the part of the masses in order to further their agenda.

What do they hope to gain, you ask?

Simple answer: Power.

If more people disregard science in favor of religious dogma, that gives more power to religious leaders. That means more congregants, more donations and more influence in the political arena in order to pursue their agenda on issues such as abortion, gay rights, and the futherance of the accumulation of power for the Religious Right.

They want power and the best way to achieve power is to start by indoctrinating the young while their minds are still vulnerable. If they can indoctrinate the young, they wil have followers for decades to come. When the yound mature, they will grow-up and become voters who will support those candidates the Religious Right tells them to and then the agenda can be brought to fruition via the ballot box.

I seriously doubt if even the Doscovery Institute really believes in the crap they’re peddling. After all, their arguments get torn to shreds by real scientists whenever they actually manage to get into a debate with them. However, teaching evolution in public schools and convincing the general public to believe in it doesn’t empower the Religious Right. But, creationism does.

They want o be the kingmakers of America. They want to be the ones calling the shots as to who has the right to do what and when. They don’t really believe this nonsense, as it is only a means to an end.

Belief in evolution empowers science and that’s the last thing the Religiuos Rights wants, which is pretty frakking scary.

 

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Creationist Superfraud: Harun Yahya

15 January 2009

Okay, let me start by mentioning that Harun Yahya’s real name is Adnan Oktar a.k.a Adnan Hoca. He was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1956 and is the leading Muslim creationist in the world.

His most well-known book is Evolution Deceit, a copy of which I own and it is mostly a rehashing of old creationist arguments with an Islamic tone added to them. Copies of his latest work, The Atlas of Creation were distributed to teachers and scientists in Europe and the United States.

Oktar is the head of the Foundation for Scientific Research (Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, or BAV) which originally adopted its arguments from young-earth creationist organizations in the United States, but discarded claims about a young Earth and a global flood which are not vouched for by the Qur’an or in Islamic tradition (the Sunnah). As such, BAV showed a degree of sympathy for “intelligent design” creationism instead, employing catchphrases like “irreducible complexity” and using the phrase “intelligent design” as equivalent with “creation.” Later, however, Oktar denounced “intelligent design” as not being Islamic enough.

Oktar got his start as an author in 1986 by publishing  Judaism and Freemasonry. After this, he was arrested and imprisoned, eventually being transferred to a mental hospital (I wonder why?) and was released after 19 months. Naturally, Oktar claims that the Freemasons were behind the whole thing.

Later, in 1996, his organization published The Holocaust Lie, crediting the deaths of “a few Jews” to a typhoid epidemic that occurred near the end of the war, which is one of the lies that Holocaust deniers like to use. A strongly-worded criticism of this book by a Turkish painter and intellectual, Bedri Baykam, published in the Turkish paper, Black and White, was responded by Oktar to with a lawsuit alleging that Mr Baykam had committed slander. The suit was withdrawn a few months after Oktar was revealed as the author by Mr Baykam.

Since then, Oktar has backed-off his anti-semitic tirades and has embraced, at least publicly, inter-religious dialogue, except in the case of Buddhists, which I will explain later.

In 1998, Oktar began his campaign against “Darwinism” by attacking Turkish academics who taught evolution. Teachers were harassed, threatened and slandered in fliers that branded them as communists. Six of the professors eventually sued and won a large settlement.

Oktar also doesn’t like Buddhism, asserting that Buddhism is  a false religion built upon idolatry and falsehood. He calls Buddhist rituals “meaningless” and “empty”. Interesting that he picks on a religion that has a long history of not trying to forcibly convert everyone around them at either the point of a sword or the barrel of a gun, blowup school buses, take hostages or similar acts of religiously-inspired violence.

Oktar has become well-known for using bullying tactics in order to silence anyone who speaks-out against him.

In September 2008, a Turkish court banned Internet users in Turkey from viewing the official Richard Dawkins Web site after Oktar claimed its contents were defamatory, blasphemous and insulting religion, arguing that his personality was violated by this site. In response, Dawkins posted a Turkish translation of his “Venomous Snakes, Slippery Eels and Harun Yahya” article  on his website. Then one week later a complaint by Oktar led to the banning of the internet site of the Union of Education and Scientific Workers as a reaction to the Union’s uncomplimentary press release about Adnan Oktar’s Creation Atlas.This was followed in October by a block of the country’s third-biggest newspaper site, Vatan.

Furthermore, no one in Turkey will be able to read this blog without using a proxy, as Oktar had successfully petitioned a Turkish court to block access to WordPress after a blog critical of him was posted there and WordPress refused to take it down. You can read WordPress’ blog post on the topic.

Oktar’s lawyer made this demand of WordPress, which I reproduce here in the original typefont”WE DEMAND YOU TO REMOVE AND PROHIBIT ANY BLOGS IN YOUR SITE THAT CONTAIN MY CLIENT’S NAME ADNAN OKTAR OR HIS PEN NAME HARUN YAHYA OR VARIOUS COMBINATION OF THESE 4 NAMES.”

Well, I have this to say to you and your client, Mr Kerim Kalkan and Atty. Ceyhun Gökdoğan: screw you and screw the ugly horse you rode in on! You might be satisfied living in a country that’s a dictatorship where free speech exists in name only. But, here in the USA, we actually have free speech. As such, I am free to tell you, your law partners, your client, your clients’ friends, your friends, your pets and everyone else associated with you and them to go straight to Hell!

There. I am now assured that I will never be allowed to travel to Turkey. But, that’s okay. After all, I have the pleasure of knowing that Oktar is going to be grabbing his ankles for the next few years in a Turkish prison after being recently sentenced to prison by a Turkish court for running an illegal organization for the purposes of personal gain. Sucks to be him, am I right?

In September 1999 Adnan Oktar was arrested following multiple scandals and further allegations. In that court case, Oktar was charged with using threats for personal benefit and creating an organization with the intent to commit a crime. One complainant, a fashion model named Ebru Simsek claimed she was blackmailed and then slandered as a “prostitute” in fax messages sent to hundreds of different newspapers, TV channels, major business companies, foreign consulates and government offices for refusing to have sex with Adnan Oktar. Having seen a picture of Ebru and a picture of Oktar, I cannot fathom why Oktar would even think that a woman that looks her that would ever even think about having sex with somebody that looks like him. A woman has to have some standards, right? Besides, since Oktar claims to be such a devout Muslim, doesn’t the Qur’an forbid having sex with a woman that you’re not married to? And how the hell does this pious servant of Allah manage to live in an opulent mansion? Didn’t theprophet Muhummad himself willingly live in poverty and eschewed personal extravagance of any kind?

Hey, what’s the Turkish word for “hypocrite”?

So, the judicial process lasted over two years, during which most of the complainants’ retracted their claims, repportedly because of threats or bribes from SRF members. As a result most of the cases against Oktar and SRF members were dismissed, with only two members receiving jail sentences for a year each.

According to the indictment of the prosecutor’s office, cited by the daily Cumhuriyet, Oktar’s organisation used its female members to attract young scholars from rich families, with the promise of sex in exchange for attending events. Should one of these female members attempt to leave the group, they were threatened with the release of the tapes.

Oh, my FRAKKING G-d!

Okay, what’s the Turkish words for “sexual slavery” and “blackmail”?

Amidst ambiguous circumstances all charges were dropped by that court only to be picked by another court eight years later. In 2008 Oktar was finally convicted for a variety of crimes including engaging in criminal threats. On May 2008 Oktar and seventeen other members of his organisation were sentenced to three years in prison. Oktar intends to appeal these charges.

Yeah. Harun Yahya would like to have some sex, just not the kind availble in a Turkish prison.

harunyahya

Kent Hovind, Ted Haggard and, now, Harun Yahya. Is there something about creationism in-general, that attracts people like these total scumbags?

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Creationism & Evolution: Hearing Both Sides

12 January 2009

Science expert questions intent of teacher’s aids

It seems that a teacher in a Mount Vernon Middle School classroom decided to inject a bit of creationism into her science class. Naturally, this has the school board upset at what is essentially teaching religion in a public school.

I’m going to talk about something that one student was quoted as saying in the article whose link I posted above.

Levi Stickel, 17, who attends the hearing daily and carries a Bible, said he thinks it is good to hear both sides “to strengthen your own beliefs.”

This is what I want to discuss, the whole idea of “hearing both sides”.

Creationists like to claim that they are unfairly shutout of science classes and they simply want kids to hear both sides of the Creation vs Evolution Argument.

The problem they have is that Creationism isn’t backed by science, at all. Anytime creationists try to quote what they call “science” a real scientists immediately shows them why they are wrong and most creationists really don’t know that much about science.

Creationism or Intelligent Design isn’t based on science, but faith. They start out with a preconceived idea – that G-d or an Intelligent Designer created the world and all the life on it – and work backward to try to find evidence to support the conclusion. Science does it the other way around, by collecting information, formulating hypotheses, doing tests and coming to a conclusion based upon the preponderance of evidence. That’s a simplified way of explaining the Scientific Method, but it will do for now.

So, there is no scientific debate between the two. It’s religion versus science and that’s it.

Let’s take the whole “let’s hear both sides” argument to it’s natural conclusion, shall we? Let’s go over some of the ideas that we teach kids in school these days and juxtapose what we would also have to teach them if we wanted them to learn “both sides”:

  • teach them that Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969 and that the whole thing was faked by the US government;
  • teach them about racial equality and that one group of people is racially superior to others;
  • teach them about the biological and environmental causes of disease and that evil spirits cause illness;
  • teach them that the world is round and teach them that the world is flat;
  • teach them that the Earth orbits the Sun and that the Sun orbits the Earth.

Where does it stop?

Oh, I know. The creationists say that there is so much evidence that the world is round, the Earth orbits the Sun, etc and all the other ideas have ben refuted by science that there is no reason to teach the “other side”.

But, the scientific evidence tells us that life on Earth evolved over time. Beginning with simple forms of life,  then on to more complex lifeforms until we come to where we are now. All the scientific evidence supports it, so why not teach that in science class?

Answer: because it disagrees with somebody’s religious beliefs. Not because it disagrees with science, but because somebody feels that it opposes his religious faith, he wants to have his side taught alongside, even without science to back him up.

As far as “equal time” is concerned, there is really no desire to have Creationism on an equal footing with the Theory of Evolution in science classes or in the scientific community. The true goal is to have creationism become the dominant view in scientific circles, including in America’s classrooms.

How do I know this? Because the Discovery Institute blatantly admits this in their “Wedge Document“, which was written in 1999.

The Wedge Document outlines a twenty-year plan for the inclusion, and then dominance of creationism in our public school curriculum and in public life in general.

To quote from their five-year goals:

  • To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
  • To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
  • To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Their twenty-year goals:

  • To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
  • To see design theory application in specific fields including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics, cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology, and philosophy in the humanitites, to see its influence in the fine arts.
  • To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

You can read it for yourself. They will not be satisfied with equal time, as it only serves as a precursor to their hoped-for domination of the scientific perspective regarding the origin and development of life on Earth.

All this talk about scientists “being afraid” of creationism being taught is erroneous. Scientists aren’t afraid of the idea of creationism itself. The fact is that there is no scientific evidence for the instantaneous creation of life on Earth in its present form by a Higher Power.

None. Zero. Zip. Nadda.

The Theory of Evolution does have practical applications, as well. Scientists can accurately predict how life could be affected by climate changes, how viruses can adapt to antibiotics, and other practical applications.

Creationism has no practical applications. You can’t use it for anything other than attempting to validate a religious opinion. Beyond that, nothing.

That teacher who attempted to sneak creationism into a public school classroom is only a footsoldier in the Discovery Instutue’s plan to subvert science and further their own goals.

In that same document, under “ACTIVITIES”, they include as item #10 Academic Debates, which is interesting since very few real scientists question the Thery of Evolution as a fact-of-life. The only people the creationists can usually find to argue their position are people either with no scientific degrees, people with degrees from non-accredited universities or even people with real degrees but in a field of science unrelated to evolution.

Scientists have no problem with debates. They just prefer that both sides know what they are talking about and creationists have a problem when the best they can come up with includes tactics like quote mining and deception.

One thing creationists like to do is claim that evolution is “only a theory” without understanding how scientists actually define “theory”.

Most people use the word to describe a guess or a hunch. In science, a theory is the best possible explanation for an occurrance, based upon a preponderance of evidence. A theory can be tested, modified, changed or even scrapped altogether if subsequent evidence invalidates it.

A “hypothesis” is the closest equivalent to a guess, in the scientific community. But, it’s not supposed to be a wild hunch based upon a gut feeling. More like an educated guess, to put it simply.

So, once again, creationists are attempting to hide their true objectives, hiding behind a wall of lies and ignorance. Never mind how teaching creationism in our schools will harm future generations of scientists. They’ve got an agenda and a religion to validate. SO, the facts be damned.

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Creationist Dirty Trick: Masquerading As Some One Else

6 January 2009

If I had a website, using my real name of an intenet alias commonly associated with me, as the URL, people would think that the website was really mine and the views expressed on it were, in fact, my own.

That may be the heart of the reason some dirty mutherfrakker has created a website using the name of well-known (on YouTube, anyway) evolution apologist and pro-science advocate AronRa.

The website http://aronra.com was created on 14 November 2008 and it was done by an individual who chooses to remain anonymous. The domain is registered via GoDaddy.com and the registrant is Domains By Proxy (a subsidiery of GoDaddy), a service that allows you to own a domain with only the company you purchased the domain from to know who you are. Supposedly, this protects the website owner from spammers and other vile scum who try to contact you in some way.

The website is a crationist/Christian website founded as part of the “Atheist vs Christian” conflict and was doubtlessly founded by some creationist butt-muncher that had encountered AronRa on YouTube and didn’t like what he/she/it saw and heard.

Really nice way to “take a stand for the Lord”, don’t you think? I thought that Christians were supposed to be unafraid of the World, which is supposed to be under the control of Satan, the Father of Lies. But, it seems that concealing one’s identity and attempting to co-opt the identity of another is perfectly okay, as long as you do it in the Name of Jesus.

I am reminded of this verse from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians,

“Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints”
Ephesians 6:10-18

I put the parts about “truth” and “righteousness” in bold text in order to pose the question to the registrant of the website: what part of truth and righteousness is covered by registering your website under some one else’s username? It’s just a question and it’s one I’m dying to hear the answer for.

This isn’t the first item out of the dirty tricks bag that creationists have pulled – the most famous being the filing of false DMCA claims against videos posted by evolution defenders. But, it is one of the most cowardly. After all, when you file a DMCA claim, the targeted person does discover who the petitioner is and can react accordingly.

As far as damaging AronRa’s reputation as a strong advocate of science and as an atheist, I feel that this website’s total effect upon his reputation will come to a grand total of zero effect and Epic Fail.

AronRa already lists his website on his YouTube homepage and is located at http://LocoLobo.org where you can learn a lot about evolution and the classification of lifeforms.

Unlike the putz-smoker that registered AronRa.com, the real AronRa does let everyone know, not only where he goes to university, but also what he studies and he even provides his email address.

Odd how people who supposedly support the life-changing faith of the Bible and Jesus, are some of the most duplicitous scumbags you’ll ever meet.

Frakk you, you frakking frakkers!

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Laymen’s Guide in Debunking Creationism

5 January 2009

Lack an advanced degree in science, but want to know how you can respond to creationists?

Want to know if what creationists are telling you is true or not?

Or do you just want to know more about Life, the Universe & Everything?

Well, I have decided to collect every video series that I can find on YouTube that debunks creationists claims and post them on this blog entry.

This list will grow as I update it with new listings. However, I will mention the updates in future blog posts.

Watching all of these videos would take days, even weeks. But, after you’ve seen them, you will have a much better knowledge of science and how creationists are full of Bantha poodoo.

Here they are:

Creation Astronomy Propaganda (CrAP) Debunked
by AndromedasWake

Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism
by AronRa

Evidence FOR Evolution and Against Creationism
by cdk007

Origins the Series
by cdk007

Why Young Earth Creationists Must DENY Gravity
by cdk007

Creationist Dishonesty
by DonExodus2

Evolution Proven Beyond Reasonable Doubt
by DonExodus2

God, Darwin, and Design – Ken Miller

by DonExodus2

How Evolution Works
by DonExodus2

Transitional Fossils I and II
by DonExodus2

Way of the Master- Lies and Ignorance Exposed
by DonExodus2

From Big Bang to Us — Made Easy
by potholer54

Debunking Hovind – The Age Of The Earth
by ThetaOmega

Intelligent Design Is Not Science
by ThetaOmega

evolution vs creationism (some videos are not functioning in this playlist)
by Thunderf00t

Why do people laugh at creationists?
by Thunderf00t

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Why the Religious Right is So Powerful

4 January 2009

A modern phenomenon in the USA, which makes it unique for a Western Democracy is the sheer power of a religious organization to achieve the level of power that it has. While other Western countries have their own religous organizations which exert force within their own political structure, the United States stands alone as the one Western republic where a blatantly religious group  holds such sway, not only on the state level, but on the national stage as well.

But, where does this power come from and what can be done to counter it?

That’s a question many people on the Left have been asking for decades and there’s really no simple answer, but I’ll give it my best shot.

Historically speaking, the United States has always been a religious nation. Even today, the USA is the second-most churchgoing country in the Western World, second only to predominantl- Catholic Ireland.

Founded as a haven from the waves of religious persecutions in Europe, for a time groups such as the Quakers, Unitarians, Jews, Roman Catholics from predominantly Protestant countries and other groups found themselves a safe haven where while religion played a factor in everyday life, there were few instances of outright massacres of groups which were even minorities in the colonies or states in which they lived. Granted Catholics and Quakers weren’t exactly welcome in certain areas, but you didn’t find the state-sponsored street massacres of innocent civilians as had occurred in much of Europe. Even the historically-disliked Jews were never the victims of wholesale slaughter and pograms as had happened in Europe.

For a time, the Unitarian Church was one of the most powerful churches in America, with several of the Founding Fathers among its membership. George Washington, America’s first President, even sent a letter of assurance to the Jewish community that they would have nothing to fear from the government regarding their freedom of religion.

So, how did we get to where we are now?

Well, religious groups that flee from their native country to avoid persecution tend to be the most devoted follwers of that faith, so there was a concentration of religious fervor of all types in this country from early times.

This was coupled with the missionary zeal inherent in some churches, notably the Baptists, which energized the desire to convert the newcomers to the domestic churches in the USA at the time of their immigration. For some groups, they had no local branches of their churches in America, so they could either found their own church – a very difficult task, especially when they lacked clergy – or assimilate to a church in America that most closely resembled a faith they had left behind. For example Eastern Catholics from the Assyrian and Antiochan Churches, usually converted to Roman Catholicism. For a long time Eastern Orthodox Christians had a difficult time finding a church for themselves and sometimes became Catholics also. Still, others would abandon their old faith to join a local demonination in the effort to gain social acceptance in their new locale. The best example might be Irish Catholics converting to Baptist when moving to the Southern States pre-Civil War.

Over decades, Americans found themselves at war with people with whom they had religious differences, though these were not religious wars in the true sense. Catholic Spain and France, though they assisted America in its War of Independence, were strong regional powers and controlled much of the New World outside America’s borders. Native American tribes either followed their own religions or had a strong influence of Catholicism, due to missionary work from Spanish or French priests or monks. Even Great Britain, with its Church of England, was a major rival, oweing in part that its church had a pope-like figure in the King or Queen.

Independant, pastor-led denominations where congregations held more power than a college of cardinals or similar religious assembly, flourished in America and a spirit of religious independence took hold in this country. Local pastors became politically powerful, especially when there were no ccontrols from higher authorities to keep them in check.

Protestantism became entrenched and with its lack of oversight, the pastors held political power and could influence how people voted on election day. Pastors would exort their flocks for whom to vote and what type of ballot measures to approve.

Catholics had a similar experience in America and the Church often had to attempt to rein-in American priests and bishops who felt little need to adhere to the dictates of Rome. One notable example was Father Charles Edward Coughlin, who had a radio program a few years before World War Two, where he openly admired Adolph Hitler and railed against the Jews in to forty million listeners who tuned to his weekly broadcasts. The Church had to repeatedly admonish Coughlin to tone-down his rhetoric, with Coughlin often obeying for a time and then resuming his activities.

During the Cold War, where America found itself opposing the decidedly atheistic Soviet Union, Christian religious fervor reached a new peak. Despite the fact that Western Europe was similarly threatened, only in the USA did Christians feel that they had a special role to play in fighting both communism and, especially, secularism.

Conservative Christians see Secularism as a much more severe threat than communism. Most Americans would never accept the abolition of private property, so the very idea that America could ever have become a communist state was ludicrous. But, it could be very possible for a nation, such as the United States with its plethora of religious denominations all co-existing in relative harmony, to become a nation where, while the general populace could be very devoted chuchgoers, religion would play little part in deciding America’s foreign policy or how its educational curriculem would be selected. After all, that’s what happened in Western Europe, right?

While Europe’s churches once held great power, the tide shifted around the time of the French Revolution, where the Catholic Church was deposed from its place of guaranteed power and never assumed it again. As much of Europe moved away from church-dominated monarchies and toward more secular forms of government, the days of a church-dominated government came to an end. Mostly, this change happened peacefully in Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, the most direct cause was the Soviet expansion after World War 2, where churches were closed and clergy either killed or imprisoned.

Either way, the effect was the same: the power of  the Christian Church was primarily limited to the pulpit.

However, the United States proved itself unique. While Christian ministers could influence elections on the local level, there was no national movement to effect the imposition of a particular theology or political view.

That is, until television came along and certain Protestant ministers began to view themselves as having an agenda that could, and should, be imposed on a national level.

One of the first was Pastor Jerry Falwell, who led the Moral Majority for a long time. His influence is credited with helping Ronald Reagan become President in 1980 and re-electing him in 1984. After over 200 years without a unified conservative Christian front in the USA, the Left was off-guard and severely misjudged how much power the Religious Right could and would attain in a very short time. The effect on the nation was palpable and the United States seemed doomed to fall into an ideological quagmire from which it would take a long time to extricate itself from.

However, the leaders of the Religious Right overstated their sense of self-importance. When even conservative Republicans began to resist the influence of the very pastors who had led much of the movement that got them elected, the Religious Right soon found itself relegated to the fringe. Scandals rocked the Religious Right as Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart were engulfed in sex scandals that ended their position of power on the national stage.

The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis newspaper. ran a series of articles authored by Michael Stephen  Clark that exposed the strong influences of the Falwell-led Moral Marority upon the Republican Party. The organization dissolved in 1989 and was succeeded by the Christian Coalition, led by Reverend Pat Robertson.

While the Coalition enjoyed a heyday of power for many years, it couldn’t escape from the Taxman. The Internal Revenue Service repeatedly butted heads with the Coalition over back taxes and its tax-exempt status. Fortunes declined and the organization was essentially bankrupt in 2004, which is quite a fall from its having $26.5 million in 1996 to only $1.3 million in 2004. The power of a pastor-led political movement seemed on the decline. Pat Robertson even ran for President of the United States in 1988 and did well in some primaries, but ended-up leaving the race.

While the Coalition claims to have 1.2 million members, according to its list of contributors and former employees, it has about 30,000.

Plus, there were added image problems for the Religious Right when Falwell and Robertson made outlandish public comments. Falwell in blaming the 9/11 attacks on liberals and homosexuals; and Robertson predicted natural disasters occuring in the United States in 2006 and terror attacks in 2007; neither of which happened, despite his claiming that G-d told him that they would. Public comments like those embarrassed the Religious Right and caused many of their adherents to shy away from them, at least publicly.

The Religious Right had an epiphany: Americans might be the second-most church-going populace in the Western World, but they are more than a little uncomfortable with megachurch pastors running for political office or holding great sway over elected officials, especially in light of the effects of clergy-led governments in Iran and Afghanistan, whom the United States condemned for their religious fanaticism and intolerance of religious minorities.

A new crop of leaders had to be chosen and they couldn’t be ministers. They had to be secularly-employed or business owners, but still devout Christians. The sledgehammer tactics of openly campaigning for political and social causes had to be abandoned for more covert means, where they would get people elected to public office and then those people would move their respective legislative bodies toward a position the Religious Right approved of. Large money contributors were found to fund their campaigns and ties had to be as obscure as possible to avoid public revelations from derailing their efforts. Churches could still be used to recruit campaign workers and church mailing lists could be exploited in the search for donations.

Certain issues had to be exploited for maximum gain and they had to be issues which could get the most support across denominational lines. These issue were old ones which were dusted-off and used to maximum effect. Pushing the Panic Button became a frequent tactic, where people were warned that if a certain group took power or if something wasn’t stopped, the United States of America would be destroyed from within.

Of course, many people don’t really know too much about American history. For a nation that survived events like its own war of independence, a civil war, the Great Depression, two World Wars in less than 35 years and the nuclear escalation of the Cold War to be destroyed unless Same Sex marriage was outlawed from coast to coast or unless abortion was criminalized or unless Bill Clinton was impeached, etc is perposterous to even comprehend for anyone who knows anything about American history. There have ben attempts by groups to actually turn the United States into a dictatorship, such as the Officers’ Plot near the end of the Revolution or the Business Plot in the 1930s. None of these plots succeeded and the United States remains the oldest surviving republic in the Modern World.

However, as I said, the Religious Right realizes that most Americans don’t really know much about their own history and exploits the “do something about (insert political cause of the day here) or America is doomed!” to great effect.

Let’s be honest and admit that the fight against gay rights has been one of the most successful ploys of the Religious Right. Most heterosexuals don’t like homosexuals, for whatever reason. I have gay friends and I long ago realized that they have many of the same problems as straight people, including paying their bills on-time and making ends meet from week-to-week, but most Americans don’t have many gay friends and haven’t really taken an interest in their lives beyond what they do in the privacy of their own homes. Circulating mass-mailings about some “Gay Plot” to subvert the American family and oft-repeated stories of how gay people are actively trying to recruit more Americans to become gay have caused too many people to view gays with suspicion and loathing. If you don’t know some one, you can be easily motivated into believing something bad about them, especially if it’s coming from people that you trust, like the people you go to church with. Dislike and open hatred of gays and lesbians cuts across all racial and religious lines, so has been a very successful tactic of the Religious Right.

Fear of the collapse of American morality is one reason why so many Christians oppose the teaching of evolution in our public schools. If people think that they are only the end result of a cosmic accident (the Big Bang) and not the result of the direct intervention and creation of an omnipotent creator, then it is feared that people across America will lapse into the most antisocial behavior, such as murder, robbery, rape, etc. feeling that there is no one to answer to and no afterlife to have to worry about receiving eternal punishment in. All this ignores that fact that, even in pagan societies, murder, rape, theft, etc were crimes. Even if you could find an entire society where no one believed in a god, murder would still be illegal, due to the fact that no society could exist for very long if such behaviors were legal. An entire society would collapse in all the chaos that would ensue. So, laws against murder, theft, rape and other antisocial behaviors would still have to be enforced to protect the social fabric. But, most people don’t think three dimentionaly. People often think in simple terms and science isn’t something most people understand or know much about. Real science is difficult, at best, for the layman to comprehend and the Religious Right uses that ignorance to full effect.

To further their war on science, the Religious Right has organizations, such as the Discovery Institute, that produces books and videos that can be easily distributed by mail or over the Internet. They also have lecturers who will travel across the  country to speak at events and before legislative bodies, all paid for from sales of their materials and by donations given from wealthy contributors and devoted legions of devout Christians. People who support evolution being taught usually do not have similar resources at their disposal and they lack a devoted following of similar magnitude. There is no pro-evolution (actually, Pro-science) organization that can dispatch speakers at the drop of a hat to testify at a hearing on the other side of the country. Sheer manpower and financial resources give the Religious Right an edge that they can, and do, exploit.

Abortion is a cause that has had a limited amount of success for the Religious Right. Most Americans want abortion legal, even those for whom may not consider having an abortion themselves. The Religious Right uses fear tactics and frequent comparisons to Nazi Germany or Communist China to further their goals, without admitting that making accurate sex eduacation available and allowing access to birth control does more to reduce the number of abortions than speeches given by any pastor or TV/radio show host ever could. It is no coincidence that teen pregnancy rates are higher in locales where sex education is either limited or nonexistant. By the way, the rates of teen preganancy and abortion went down during Bill Clinton’s Presidency, much against the predictions of the Religious Right.

Nevertheless, the anti-abortion lobby has such a devoted following, that they can have a protest rally set-up in only a few hours, with dozens of people carrying ready-made signs. They are devoted and, in some cases, fanatical to the point of being willing to commit violence. John Eric Rudoplh is only one example. Remember that physicians have actually been murdered by people like this, with little in the way of condemnation from Religious Right leadership, aside from “Well, we certainly don’t approve of violence. But, Dr (insert name here) was responsible for the killing of thousands of unborn children.”. How many times did you hear that?

So, how do we fight an organization that is so well-funded and has a large base of devoted followers?

Well, as with any political and societal organization, the Religious Right has earned the power they have right now. If you work hard and are dilligent, you deserve your place of power on the American political landscape. So, to fight them, you have to earn your position of power, as they did. One bad thing to try to do is try to do it all by yourself. Don’t. You’ll burnout and give-up.

More on this topic in a future blog.

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Evolution vs Creationism in Texas BoE

3 January 2009

Final draft on science standards pleases scientists, watch groups

First, I would like to thank YouTube user AronRa for much of the background information that appears in this blog.

Creationists appear to have had limited  success with injecting their agenda into the current curriculum of the public school system in the State of Texas. But, that was only after a long and difficult road to arrive at our final situation.

The chief issue was what creationists refer to as the “weaknesses” and “limitations” of scientific evidence for evolution. Naturally, they are often unable to specifically state what those “weaknesses and limitations” really are, beyond that they disagree with their religious beliefs. When the religious Right attempted to put such wording into the cirriculum, it was removed, then put back in after a public hearing that attracted over 200 speakers and then removed in the final draft. Dan Quinn with the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin-based nonprofit group that opposes religious influence on public education, states that with the references to any supposed weaknesses removed, supernatural explanations will have no place in public school education in Texas.

One problem with even getting the Texas BoE to come up with a curriculum for science education is that the Board is essentially controlled by the Religious Right.

Two of its members – David Bradley and Cynthia Noland Dunbar, both Republicans – are college drop-outs who homeschool their children, thus their children are not covered by the BoE’s guidelines. You have to wonder why they even ran for a seat on the Board, other than to inject their personal religious beliefs into the school curriculum. Mr Bradley, who is actuallly the vice-chairman, considers critical thinking to be nothing more that “gobbledy-gook”, which is quite revealing as the nature of the inner workings of his own mind.

Another member, Gail Lowe, has openly stated that she will oppose any textbook that attributes global warming to human activity. Not because of any scientific evidence, but because of the fact that she has openly stated that she will oppose any measure that is not supported by social conservatives.

One person who can be credited with achieving conservative Republic control of the BoE is Texas multi-millionare Joseph Leininger. He injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign with the stated goal of putting conservatives on the Board and succeeded in getting the two top slots occupied with such people, especially the chairman, Don McLeroy, who considers evolution to be vital to understanding the social sciences, but not the biological sciences, which naturally contradicts what evolution is, being that it is all about the biological sciences and that over 800 Texas scientists signed a document stating that teaching evolution is vital to understanding all the biological sciences. Mr McLeroy considers evolution as only an opinion, not as scientific concensus, and that “opinions” (i.e. evolution) should not be taught as fact.

This is what happens when people who are not scientists and have limited knowledge of science try to tell the rest of us what science even is.

Think it couldn’t get any worse? Think again.

Back in October, the conservatives on the BoE nominated three people to sit to the six-member panel of professional scientists that later reviewed the draft Texas science standards that had been written by workgroups of Texas science teachers and scientists. That first group had taken references to “weaknesses” out of the curriculum. Two of the people selected by the conservative-controlled Board were Stephen Meyer and Ralph Seelke, who had previously co-authored a textbook of their own, called “Exploring Evolution“, which itself contained four known scientific falsehoods in its introduction. Neither of these men are from Texas and Meyer is the vice chairman of the creationist Discovery Institute and Seelke os a professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin who travels around the USA testifying in front of government bodies in the attempt to have creationism/intelligent design taught in America’s public school system.

Is there any reason, beyond a blatantly political and religious agenda, why these two non-Texans would be selected to be on a panel discussing the science curriculum for the Texas public school system? Obviously not, especially when Texas has an ample supply of fully-qualified scientists of its own?

Meyer and Seelke are the kind of people Southerners would refer to as “carpet-baggers”, individuals from out-of-state who come there to take control, in whole or in part, of a Southern government to attain some sort of financial or political power for themselves at the expense of the people of that State.

However, the final proposal has been shown to be more science-friendly and references to any sort of scientific “debate” over the validity of the Theory of Evolution have been watered-down or removed.

The current situation in Texas regarding the teaching of evolution isn’t unique. It happened before in Kansas, where religious conservatives took control of a school system, molded it to conform to their own agenda and beliefs, being backed by wealthy conservatives and Christian money-generating machines whose only goal is not to advance the quality of education in America, but to further their own agenda and remove any and all references to scientific findings which their religious opinions do not agree with. The voters in Kansas removed the anti-science Board members, but the voters in Texas don’t seem to mind having a bunch of scientific illiterates deciding what science is and what it is not.

Things may be looking up in the Lone Star State. But, I’m willing to be good money that this won’t be the last controversy to come out of the current school board.

After all, despite this final draft being  put together, there is no guarantee that the Board will even accept it.

Yeah, you read that right. After all meetings, committees, hearings, public input, etc. the Texas Board of Education could simply frakking ignore the final report and put forward an agenda of their own devising.  After all, they did it once before back in May 2008 with a teacher-recommended language arts curriculum that they discarded in favor of one where some of the Board members say that they had an hour to read it before they had to vote on it.

What you have in Texas is a Board of Education who takes their marching orders from a small group of conservative policy-makers, both from within and outside Texas.  The Texas Board of Education is only one battlefield in the USA, where religious conservatives fight for their agenda, both openly and covertly, in their struggle to remold America in their image.

I’m going to post a blog on the topic of the Religious Right’s war on America in the next few days.

This is going to get uglier before it gets prettier. Believe me.

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