Thursday, April 30, 2009

Faithful more likely to back torture?

A Pew Research Center poll indicates that regular churchgoers are more likely than nonreligious Americans to support the torture of terrorist suspects.

So, why would this be?  Is it a sort of "let God sort 'em out" attitude?  Or simply that regular churchgoers in America tend to be politically conservative?  Or is it that when an American Christian thinks about a terrorism suspect, he imagines an Arab in a turban, and thinks God's love doesn't apply?  I'm not sure.  But I do think it's evidence that the connection between Christian faith and compassionate behavior may, in fact, be an inverse relationship.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bachmann makes Swine Flu - Democrat connection

Michele Bachmann has noticed a disturbing link between Democrat presidents and Swine Flu outbreaks:
"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."
Holy crap.  She cannot possibly be this stupid, can she?  Can she possibly explain the cause of this alleged link?  I doubt it.  And actually, the earlier Swine Flu outbreak to which she refers began under the Ford administration, not Carter.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Biological basis for belief

For your consideration:

Friday, April 24, 2009

And speaking of Michele Bachmann...

If you want a clear example of the kind of batshit crazy that the religious right is pushing into positions of power, just spend some time with the Wikipedia entry on Michele Bachmann.  Don't blindly trust the article itself, check out its cited sources.  They're not making this stuff up.
  • Holds a degree from Oral Roberts University
  • Opposes phasing out incandescent light bulbs, believing that the government has no right to tell consumers what kind of light bulbs they can buy, but favors federal legislation banning online poker
  • Claims that homosexuals suffer from sexual dysfunction and sexual identity disorders, and that gays are specifically targeting children
  • Believes that evolution is unproven, and that intelligent design should be taught in public schools
  • Belongs to a church that believes the Pope is the antichrist, but doesn't have the guts to admit that publicly
  • Calls for the investigation of "anti-American" members of the Obama administration, and then, with no sense of irony at all, calls for armed revolution over environmental legislation
  • And it just goes on and on and on...
Folks, this is what you get when fundamentalist morons get together in large groups and use their tax-exempt war chests to push their toadies into elected office.

Michele Bachmann joins the idiot brigade

Good god.  Here's another one.  Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) on carbon dioxide and global warming:
"Carbon Dioxide is Natural. It is not harmful. It is part of earth's life cycle. And yet we are being told we have to reduce this natural substance, and reduce the american standard of living, to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is a naturally occurring in the Earth."
Here's a test you can do, Ms. Bachmann, to determine how harmless carbon dioxide is:  Take a plastic bag, put it over your head, tie it tightly around your neck, and breathe deeply for, say, 10 minutes.  Let me know how that goes for you.  Oh, by the way, you're an idiot.

Thanks to Greg Laden's Blog for this.

John Boehner is an idiot, too.

So, John Boehner (R-Ohio) goes on ABC's This Week, and says the following in response to a question about Republican plans to combat global warming:
"George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it’s clear…"
Oh, it's clear, all right.  Clear that you're an empty-headed moron who slept through all his high school science classes.
  1. It's not that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen, it's that it's a greenhouse gas.  Greenhouse gases trap heat and raise the average temperature of the earth.  Has nothing whatsoever to do with cancer.
  2. I assume you're referring to cows farting, in which case you might be referring to methane, rather than carbon dioxide, but in either case, it's a complete non-sequitur.  Animal life produces carbon dioxide, therefore it plays no part in global warming?
Boehner is an idiot.

Pat Robertson is an idiot, again.

Over at, there's a post documenting Pat Robertson's idiotic on-air assertion that the report from the Department of Homeland Security, warning of increased recruitment of extreme right-wing groups, was written by someone "whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question."  WTF?!?  And then, he encourages his listeners to "jam up" the phone lines of the department by calling and complaining.  What a pathetic piece of work Robertson is.
"It shows somebody down in the bowels of that organization is either a convinced left winger or somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question. But it's that kind of thing, somebody who doesn't think that we should have abortion on demand, is labeled a terrorist! It's outrageous!"
No, Pat, what's outrageous is that you abuse your freedom of speech, and your organization's tax-exempt status, to spread hate and lies about anybody who doesn't send you money.  You're an idiot.

Religious-Right lie of the day.

Again, from Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed explodes a recent lie told by Newt Gingrich about a judge's ruling striking down sectarian prayer in the Indiana legislature in 2005.

Former Navy officer talks about gays in military

Thanks to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars for pointing us to this post from The Crossed Pond.  A former Navy officer discussing his experiences of discharging gay servicemen and servicewomen under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policies.  He finds himself convinced that discrimination against gays in the armed forces has got to go, with which I agree.  Apart from that, I find this section interesting:
"The next one was more disturbing. He was a hard working deck hand, a book worm, a loner, and a fundamentalist Christian. He made the mistake of leaving a moderately erotic drawing of a partially nude male on his rack in his assigned group berthing compartment. Someone took it, reported it, officers questioned him, and then we kicked him out. But along the way, I learned about self loathing. This young man believed he was demon-haunted and devil-tempted. He could resist these urges so long as we stayed in our home port, where he could attend nightly services at his small church, and pray for strength with the handful of other worshippers. But when we left home port, spending weeks at sea where he had no access to his support group, he grew weak, and would seek anonymous sex in the usual hang outs at the first port call. He hated himself. He comes to mind often; I wonder if he ever came to terms with his sexuality, if he still exists in his self imposed purgatory, or if he killed himself. My questions and doubts grew."
An example of the damaging effects of a religion that teaches you to hate yourself because of your sexual orientation.  A reminder that devout believers can be gay, too.  An illustration of how gays can be driven to destructive sexual behavior ("...would seek anonymous sex...") by the fear and self-hatred imposed by their religion.

And I find myself dumbfounded by the fact that he was turned in over having a drawing of a partially nude male in his bunk area.  What kind of bigoted asshole turns in a fellow sailor over something as harmless as that?  So, the end result is that the "hardworking deck hand" is discharged, while the creep that turned him in stays to make more sailor's lives miserable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Concerns about engineered food

Control over our food supply is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few multinational corporations.  Check out the links below:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Creation Science examines weather

Oh, how I wish I could attend this:

So, here's what gets me:  one observable natural phenomenon like weather is evidence of God's design, but a different observable natural phenomenon (evolution) is not?  Why do these people insist on keeping God in such a small box?

P.Z. defends human-nonhuman hybrid research

P.Z. Meyers, over at Pharyngula, makes a great defense of research involving the mixing of human and non-human cell material.  Here's the best bit:
  • "Look, Hughes, let's face up to reality. You aren't promoting this ban because you have any knowledge of the science; if you knew anything about the subject, you'd know that culturing cells of different species is common. Those cell lines to which George W Bush limited government-funded research? Many of them are grown on beds of mouse feeder cells. We could grow specific human cell lines on human feeder cells, but you'd freak out over that, too. There are gene mapping procedures that use fused rodent/human cells to produce cell lines with partial chromosomal losses. Monoclonal antibodies are made by combining immune system cells with immortalized cancer cell lines. And then there's the ultimate miscegenation: bacterial cells made with copies of human genes, to make human gene products, like insulin. You look old enough that if you aren't diabetic yourself, you probably have friends who are…and they're shooting up the product of a human-non-human hybrid. Are you going to ban those next?"
Click here for the whole post.

Argument against arguments against gay marriage

Great video that makes several very important points that are often overlooked in the gay marriage debate.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Iowa and Gay Marriage

Iowans really need to get a grip over the gay marriage issue.  Now that our state Supreme Court has invalidated the "one man, one woman" law, clearing the road for gay marriage in the state, the usual idiots and bigots (*cough Steve King cough*) are waxing apoplectic about the apocalypse that's sure to result.  Oh, spare us, please.  Some points to consider at your convenience:

  • The ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court was unanimous.  Surely you're not going to claim that they're all godless liberal atheists who hate the institution of marriage?
  • If you think the supreme court overstepped its authority, and created legislation from the bench, you need a serious refresher in Government 101.  Study up on the Separation of Powers and the Equal Protection Clause.
  • People calling for a vote on the issue are totally missing the point.  Can the people vote to overturn Constitutionally-protected civil rights?  Brush up on "tyranny of the majority".
  • The arguments being made against gay marriage are identical to those once used to oppose abolition, desegregation and interracial marriage.
  • There's no threat here to "traditional marriage".  Heterosexuals will go right on getting married at the same rate as before.  My marriage is not suddenly meaningless now that gays can do it, too.
  • If you're concerned about the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, you may want to actually read the Bible.  All of it.  You could probably find 50 things you do that are condemned in there somewhere.  You could also find justifications for all sorts of nasty stuff, slavery and genocide to name two.
  • And even if the Bible DID condemn homosexuality clearly and unequivocally, so the hell what?!?  Biblical pronouncements do not override equal protection under the law.
  • If you believe that adherence to the rule of (secular) law will bring the wrath of God down upon the whole nation, maybe you should ponder whether a God like that is really worthy of worship.
  • And has anybody considered why government should be in the marriage business at all?  Why not let marriage go back to being a religious institution, and stop giving legal and financial perks to certain people as a reward for participating in a religious ritual?

Wait a Minute, Smart Guy...

...Isn't Buddhism a religion?

Well, that depends on how you define religion.  And even if we decide that it is a religion, that still doesn't excuse it from the burden of rational defense.  Additionally, there's the problem of using the term "Buddhism" as if it refers to one monolithic body of teaching.  Personally, I think it's not a religion, because it doesn't concern itself with the existence or nature of  a supernatural God, and I think core Buddhist teaching defends itself pretty well in the rationality department.