God hates flop

Creationists are a special kind of crazy. Their entire fucking belief system centers around gullible acceptance of fanciful stories, and their lack of self-awareness and intellectual reflection means that they view everything else in the world in terms of unquestioning acceptance of imaginary tales. They just aren’t capable of thinking any other way. If they were, they wouldn’t be creationists.  And since they write hoping to influence (i.e. corrupt) young children, their prose is geared towards generating simple-minded mnemonics and catchphrases rather than eloquence or mellifluousness. Hence the title of this recent article from creation.com:

The 3 Rs of Evolution: Rearrange, Remove, Ruin—in other words, no evolution!

The genetic changes observed in living things today could not have turned bacteria into basset hounds—ever

Alliteration nourishes the lazy brain.

Mr. Catchpoole is clearly hoping to add another catchphrase to the creationist repertoire. Maybe “Rearrange, Remove, Ruin” will join other creationist stalwarts like “From Goo through the Zoo to You” and “Were You There?” and “Design Implies a Designer” and other empty bromides that creationists endlessly regurgitate without ever actually thinking about. But probably not.

Anyways, let’s look at what Mr. Crotchpull has to say.

Evolution textbooks cite variation as being something upon which ‘evolution depends’.1 However, when one examines closely the claimed ‘demonstrable examples’ of ‘evolution’, they actually fall into three categories, which we can label here as the ‘3 Rs’.

Spoiler: He doesn’t actually look at any demonstrable examples (in scare quotes or otherwise). In fact, there is no discussion of any recent experimental evidence anywhere in the subsequent article. I’m sure you’re shocked to learn this.

‘R’#1: Rearrange existing genes

Careful examination of many purported instances of ‘evolution in action’ shows that such ‘variation’ actually already exists, conferred by genes that already exist.

In science, careful examination means looking at evidence gathered from experiments or collected from nature. In creationism, careful examination means ignoring distinctions and nuance and creating false dichotomies.

Of course evolution involves variation that is already there. It wouldn’t work the way it does if it didn’t prominently involve pre-existing variation. Natural selection does not create out of nothing. It modifies what already exists. This has been a core principle of the theory ever since fucking Darwin himself proposed it over 150 years ago.

Creationists want us to believe that there’s some kind of XOR relation between pre-existing variation and new variation. But there is nothing of the sort. Evolution involves both pre-existing variation and new variation. Both are essential to the theory.

Here’s a simplified example that shows this, and also how such genetic variety might be misconstrued as ‘evidence of evolution’. The two dogs in the top row of Figure 1 are a male and a female. They each have a gene that codes for short hair (inherited from its mother or father) and a gene that codes for long hair (inherited from the other parent). In combination, this gene pair for fur length results in medium length hair.2

Congratu-fucking-lations, you’ve achieved a less-than-rudimentary understanding of partial dominance. And need I even mention that he’s not referring to any actual dogs that were part of any actual experiment, but rather just to a cartoon drawing that accompanied the article? Keep that in mind.

A casual observer, looking only at the outward appearance, i.e. unaware of what is happening at the genetic level, might think: “There were no long-hair dogs in the parents’ generation. This long hair is a new characteristic—evolution is true!”

You’re operating under the assumption that the casual observer is even dumber than you are. People had noticed this phenomenon long before the theory of evolution came along, and Darwin was well aware of it.

But such a view is incorrect. The only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to rearrange existing genes. There’s simply been a sorting out of pre-existing genetic information. There’s no new information here of the kind needed to have turned pond scum into poodles, Pekingese, pointers and papillons.

But such a view isn’t what evolutionary biologists are talking about. Your make-believe situation with the dogs is utterly fucking irrelevant. Experiments such as Richard Lenski’s long term E. coli experiments have demonstrated again and again organisms evolving new genetic traits which weren’t there before. Unlike your make-believe dogs, they did this with real organisms and used real genetic tests to see what genes were there already and what genes appeared in later generations. Why is it so hard for creationists to understand that reality trumps Magical Pretend Land?

I’ve got actual experimental evidence. You’ve got cartoon dogs. I win.

‘R’#2: Remove genetic information

What about natural selection, adaptation and speciation?

None of these represent the generation of any new microbes-to-mastiff genetic information either. In our ‘hairy dog’ example, if we were to send our new population of dogs, some with short hair, others with medium or long hair, to an icy, very cold location, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see natural selection at work, killing off any dog that didn’t have long hair (Figure 2, Line 1). When the survivors reproduce, the only fur-length genes passed on to the offspring are those that code for long hair (Figure 2, Line 2).

Thus we now have a population of dogs beautifully adapted to its environment. Biologists encountering our ice-bound population of dogs, observing them to be isolated3 from other populations of dogs, could argue that they be given a new species name.

So here we see natural selection, adaptation, and possibly even speciation—but no new genes have been added. In fact, there’s been a loss of genes (the genetic information for short-and medium-length hair has been removed from the population).

We don’t see anything here, because you’ve demonstrated nothing. You’ve taken a completely imaginary scenario and invented arbitrary rules for it. And here’s where you really fuck up…

Note that such examples of natural selection, adaptation and speciation are often portrayed as evidence for evolution, but the only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to remove existing genes. If this population of exclusively long-hair dogs were now forcibly relocated to a steamy tropical island, the population could not ‘adapt’ to the hot climate unless someone re-introduced the short-hair gene to the population again, by ‘back-crossing’ a short-or medium-length hair dog from elsewhere.

You have your imaginary bullshit. I have actual evidence. The precise situation you describe has actually happened in real life, and guess what? The result was exactly the opposite of what you say.

In 1971, lizards were transported to the island Pod Mrcaru from the island Pod Kopiste in the Adriatic Sea. In 2008, the lizards on Pod Mrcaru were examined, and were found to have evolved a number of new traits, the most striking of which was a cecal valve in their stomachs. A whole new valve, in under 40 years! Genetic tests showed that they did not interbreed with any other lizards–they were wholly descended from the Pod Kopiste lizards, even though those lizards do not have a cecal valve (in fact, cecal valves are extremely rare in any species of lizard). This is exactly what the creationists insist cannot happen, and yet it does.

Once again, you have some cartoony shit that you pulled out of your ass. I have actual evidence taken from nature. I win.

This is exactly the sort of thing that our crop and livestock breeders are doing. They are scouring the world for the original genes created during Creation Week4 but which have subsequently been ‘bred out’ (lost) from our domestic varieties/breeds of plants and animals because of breeders artificially selecting certain characteristics, which means other features are de-selected (lost).

This just downright idiotic. Here’s an example. In the picture below, on the right is an ear of corn. On the left is corn’s wild genetic ancestor, which is called teosinte.

499px-Maize-teosinte

There is clearly more going on here than just a few genes being missing. The entire overall structure has been radically altered.

Strike three for your bullshit cartoons and imaginary scenarios.

So how about that third R?

However, there are forms of dog genes today which were not present at Creation but have arisen since. But those have not arisen by any creative process, but by mutations, which are copying mistakes (typos, we might say) as genes are passed from parents to offspring. You would expect such accidental changes to wreck the existing genes, and that’s what happens. For example, the dog pictured in Figure 3 has just such a mutated gene, resulting in ‘floppy ear syndrome’.5

“Wreck”? What the hell does that mean? That’s not a scientific term, and it is never defined in this article. Instead, the buttfuckingly stupid example of floppy ears on dogs is somehow supposed to explain how mutations “wreck” genes.

Dogs with this genetic mutation have weaker cartilage and cannot lift up their ears. So they just hang, floppy before dinner, and sloppy after it—unless their owners are diligent in cleaning them. Such regular attention to ear hygiene is necessary, as dogs with floppy ears are prone to serious ear infections, which can even lead to hearing loss.6 Not that their hearing was especially good anyway. As you might expect, dogs with erect ears are far superior to floppy-eared dogs at detecting prey by sound.7

So fucking what? The dogs that have floppy ears have no need to hunt prey by sound, so they aren’t harmed by this at all. This is like saying that a dolphin is “wrecked” because its limbs aren’t strong enough to walk around on land. When would it ever need to do that?

I can remember reflecting on this when I was an atheist/evolutionist, and wondering how such floppy-eared dogs could have ever evolved and survived in the wild.

You must have been the stupidest atheist in the universe.

I now know that they didn’t.

Yeah, no shit.

Instead this mutation in the genes has arisen since the original “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17–19). The floppy-eared mutation in dogs is but one example of how a post-Fall world is very much “in bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19–22).

How the fuck did you get from floppy ears to bondage?

And, no, that is not the explanation.  Floppy ears are an example of paedomorphosis, which can result from developmental processes like neoteny or progenesis. This involves alterations to regulatory genes which alter the time or pacing of sexual development and cause juvenile traits to be retained in the adult animal. It’s been the subject of experimental research ever since Dmitri Belyaev was able to recreate how dogs evolved from wolves, except this time using foxes. And he did this 50 years ago.

It’s not “wrecking” the genes. It’s making alterations which, if adaptive, will be preserved by natural selection. In the case of floppy ears, for domestic dogs “adaptive” means “humans like it”, and that’s what we see with dogs.

Why is this so important to consider, in the context of evolutionary claims that no Creator was necessary?

It’s not. Evolutionary biologists already understand floppy ears much better than you ever will, and unlike you, they have actual experimental evidence to back up their claims.

Evolutionary biologists, when pressed with the facts about natural selection, will concede that natural selection by itself can only remove existing genetic information. However, they argue that in tandem with mutations, natural selection would be a creative process.

But the floppy-ear mutation, for one, is a classic example of the widespread degradation of the genome—a downhill process. For microbes-to-man evolution to be true, evolutionists should be able to point to thousands of examples of information-gaining mutations, an uphill process, but they can’t.8 Mutations overwhelmingly ruin genetic information. Therefore evolutionists looking to mutations as being evolution’s ‘engine’ do so in vain.9 Thus they are left with no known mechanism capable of ever turning microbes into mutts—i.e. no way of ‘climbing’ up the supposed evolutionary ‘tree’.

This is why creationist fail. They fundamentally misunderstand the theory they’re arguing against, and end up making stupid arguments like this.

Evolution is not teleological. It has no direction. There is no path. “Good” and “bad” mutations are only good or bad relative to the environment the organism lives in. What’s good in one environment might be bad in another.

For this reason, there’s no such thing as “degradation” of the genome. What counts as a “good” genome depends on what kind of environment we’re talking about. In the wild, floppy ears might not be good. But living with humans, dogs with floppy ears have been successful and bred widely, and from a natural selection point of view that’s all that matters.

Note that while mutations degrade genetic information, sometimes an advantage arising from such degradation can outweigh the disadvantage vis-à-vis survival. While a floppy-eared mutant mutt might not last long in the wild, under human care—i.e. with regular ear cleaning—the equation changes. And what about the key moment when a buyer is looking for the ‘cutest’, friendliest pup in the pet shop window? Indeed, there is increasing evidence that the floppy-eared characteristic is strongly associated with tameness.10,11 Little wonder then, that floppy-eared dogs are so common today.12

Wait, so you acknowledge what I said earlier??? Then in what possible way could you mean “degrade”? Obviously you acknowledge that floppy ears actually benefit dogs in their human environment, so they’re not bad. So they haven’t been degraded or wrecked. Or is it that even in your tiny little creationist head you’ve never bothered to clarify just what the fuck those words are supposed to mean in this context?

Look, you’re conceding the point here. You’re acknowledging that in the right environment, a mutation might provide a survival benefit and, as a result, be preserved by natural selection. You basically just said that the evolutionists are right and natural selection preserves adaptive variations. In just one paragraph you completely undermined whatever garbled, nonsensical point you were trying to make about “degradation”. And yet you go on after this to spike the football and celebrate your victory over evolution, like a team that never looked at the scoreboard and doesn’t realize that they lost the game long ago, and in fact that last touchdown was in their own end zone. It’s just sad, really.

The Three R’s fail spectacularly. They’re supported by no actual experimental or observational evidence. Instead, they stand on only imaginary scenarios which either do not have any real life counterpart or are just childish recreations of rudimentary concepts. They don’t propose anything that evolutionary biologists hadn’t already considered (and often rejected). And in the end they undermine their own point. They boil down to a self-contradictory collection of nonsense founded on imaginary tales with arbitrary rules.

In other words, they are typical of religion.

Cloning the Language

There’s a widely cited term in the skeptical community about a commonly observed phenomenon in the gullible dingleberry community. Crank Magnetism, as it’s called, is the tendency of those who accept one ludicrous pseudoscientific or otherwise demonstrably false belief to accept others as well. So a creationist like Phillip Johnson also turns out to be an HIV/AIDS denialist.  Or a global warming denialist might also be a stem cell denialist. Essentially fucktardation in one realm of thought correlates positively with other realms of thought also being fucktarded. Stupidity spreads through one’s brain like the virus you deny exists, and makes your thoughts on a whole range of topics utterly fucktarded.

This is certainly true of the Discovery Institute, the primary driver behind the ball-crunchingly fucktarded pseudo-theory of Intelligent Design. They also are fucktarded in several other scientific domains, including the one I’m looking at today: Human Cloning. It also provides a perfect example of another odious practice that the superstitious and bigoted like to do: Appropriating Language. Observe:

Some worry most about the eventual birth of a cloned baby—an event that is still a long way off. But therapeutic cloning already poses an acute threat to human dignity.

It’s starting to reach the point where I cringe whenever I hear the word “dignity”, because it is more and more being used to attack things that have nothing to do with dignity. The damn Catholic Church claims that IVF techniques are an affront to human dignity, for fuck’s sake. Generally, “dignity” is more and more starting to mean “some airy idea or arbitrary rule that we will treat as more important than actual physical human beings.”

As Charles Krauthammer, who served on George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics, warned in the New Republic in 2002, creating cloned embryos for research—now accomplished—is “dangerous” because it reduces the cloned embryo to “mere thingness,” justifying “the most ruthless exploitation.”

Quoting Krauthammer, eh? That’s fucking hilarious, seeing as he once called you guys’ pet theory “tarted-up creationism” and thinks you Intelligent Design nuts are scientific phonies. But let’s see what this Iraq War supporter has to say about “dignity”.

He went on to say:

It is the ultimate in desensitization . . . The problem, one could almost say, is not what cloning does to the embryo, but what it does to us . . . Creating a human embryo just so it can be used and then destroyed undermines the very foundation of the moral prudence that informs the entire enterprise of genetic research: the idea that, while a human embryo may not be a person, it is not nothing. Because if it is nothing, then everything is permitted. And if everything is permitted, then there are no fences, no safeguards, no bottom.

Hey, Charles. Hyperbole just called. He said he wants you to tone it down, since even he’s embarrassed by this. Also, notice how he’s picked up the terms “exploitation” and “desensitization” from other issues and stuck them onto an issue to which they simply don’t apply. Remember, this is a single cell that we are talking about. One human zygote–that’s what therapeutic cloning produces. That’s it. It has no feeling, no thoughts, no experiences, no nerves, no brain. There is nothing there to be harmed in any way. A single cell has no dignity. It can’t be exploited. It has no senses. It is not a person. But in the name of “exploitation” and “desensitization” and “human dignity” we need to outlaw experimenting on it at the cost of valuable medical knowledge which could save thousands of real human beings.

Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine a trolley track with a fork in it. You’re at the switch. You can decide which track to send an out of control trolley down by pulling the switch.  On one track, there is a man tied to it. On the other track, a rack of petri dishes containing one thousand human zygotes. If you don’t pull the switch, the trolley will hit the man and kill him. If you pull the switch, it will hit the petri dishes and destroy all 1,000 embryos. What do you do?

If you answer “Pull the switch”, then you don’t believe zygotes are really people, since you’d be willing to destroy 1,000 of them to save one life.

If you say, “Don’t pull the switch and let the man die,” then you’re a fucking asshole.

The only effective preventative is to enact a comprehensive legal ban on human SCNT, not just the uses to which a cloned embryo may be put. Contrary to what the science intelligentsia, the biotechnology industry, and the mainstream media might claim, banning human SCNT is a step that is widely supported internationally. Indeed, in 2005, the General Assembly of the United Nationsvoted overwhelmingly in support of a non-binding resolution calling upon member states “to prohibit all forms of human cloning.”

Is there anything that the UN HASN’T issued a non-binding resolution on? I mean, Jesus, just about anybody can suck the right diplomatic cock and get a non-binding resolution through in the UN. And you gotta love how the right wing fuckberries rail against the evils of the UN and kowtowing to the international community…right up until they agree with them on something.

The devil will be found in how the term “cloning” is defined. In particular, we should be on the lookout for phony bans that actually legalize the SCNT process using human DNA. For example, many proposals would only outlaw “reproductive cloning.” But as we have seen, such a “ban” would not outlaw cloning at all, merelyone potential use that could be made of embryo made through cloning.

Yeah, kinda sucks when people use that tactic of  making a law vaguely worded so that it doesn’t actually do what you claim it does. Now, about those “academic freedom” laws that the Discovery Institute keeps pushing in state after state….

Outlawing human cloning would provide salutatory benefits

No, it wouldn’t. All it would do is deprive us of life-saving research in order to protect single cells. There is no plus side to this.

First, it would deprive cloning researchers of the funds to further perfect human cloning techniques.

Hear that? That’s every sane person on earth asking, “How the fuck is that a salutatory benefit?”

Outlawing human cloning would also be a clarion call to our scientists demanding that they stay within proper moral parameters as they serve society through the pursuit of knowledge.

I send this message out to all god-humpers, all sanctimonious twats, all conservative evangelicals and every moral crusader in the country:

YOU DO NOT GET TO DEFINE THE “PROPER MORAL PARAMETERS” FOR THE REST OF US. FUCK OFF.

And it would protect women.

You have got to be shitting me.

Recall that human eggs are the essential ingredients in the cloning recipe. As I wrote here last month, the need for human eggs in cloning threatens a great “human egg rush.”

But retrieving human eggs can be very dangerous to women’s health and fecundity. Banning cloning can thus prevent the further objectification of the female biological function.

There’s more appropriation for you. “Objectification”. Except for the fact that this issue has nothing to do with objectification or feminist critiques thereof.

This shit really pisses me of.  This asshole is leaving out the part where women volunteer their eggs in order to further scientific knowledge. It’s not like scientists are running through the streets probing every woman they find in order to get at her precious, precious ova. Women–grown up, adult women–donate the eggs of their own free will.

And yet, this guy is trying to sound like a feminist while leaving out a woman’s ability to make her own choices about her own body. I’m gonna call this bullshit Patriarchal Pseudo-Feminism. Basically, it means infantilizing women, treating them like they are unable to determine their own lives and choices, just like patriarchy always does to women, but disguising it in the language of feminism. I see it a lot. I’ve seen it used to attack pornography, abortion, IVF, contraception and a host of other issues relating to women. It frustrates me even more than overt sexism or misogyny, since at least if someone is being blatantly sexist they aren’t trying to lie to me about what a piece of shit they are.

But this fucknugget is treating women like they’re helpless children who need the law to protect them from evil scientists, and trying to make it look like he’s pro-woman for this. Fuck that. I’m not standing for it. Women can make their own fucking choices about their own fucking eggs. And (assuming they’re properly informed) if they want to give them to a scientist for a cloning experiment, the rest of us should respect their decision and not make condescending, patriarchal comments about how we need to protect them from themselves. Fuck you, Discovery Institute.

And any time you hear someone demanding that we need to ban something in the name of feminism, but they conveniently leave out the notions of informed consent and a woman determining her own life, tell hem to fuck off with their patriarchal wolf in feminist clothing.

Finally, on a positive note, once human cloning becomes beyond the pale, we could begin to row in the direction of areas of biotechnology that are morally licit, freeing human and financial resources for the pursuit of the abundant avenues of moral andefficacious biotechnological research—such as adult stem cell research, genetically tailored chemotherapy, and other medical treatments.

Except for the fact that there are things you can do with cloning that can’t be done with those other types of research. You’d be preventing us from making certain discoveries, not encouraging discoveries in other areas.

We can achieve remarkable biotechnology breakthroughs in this century without surrendering our ethics.

“Our” ethics? I certainly don’t share ethics with you, shitwad.

Outlawing human cloning is the essential progressive act.

And we end with one more act of cloning the left’s language in order to attack it. “Progressive” my boney white ass.

Gay marriage vs. “science” I pulled from my ass

Since I just ragged on a letter to the editor of a newspaper in my former home state of Maryland, I guess I should also look at an anti-gay letter from my other home state of Oklahoma, where the situation for gays is much, much worse. The scholar who wrote this particular piece of…something is Pat Rupel of Edmond, the town where I went to high school. He opposes gay marriage in the name of SCIENCE!

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set science back about 3,000 years by…

Wait, wait, wait. I gotta stop you right there. You do realize that in Oklahoma, proposing to “set science back about 3,000 years” is a good thing to most citizens, right? I mean, we get at least one bill proposing exactly that every year in the state legislature. It’s the people who support these kinds of things that are most receptive to the whole “Legislate gay people’s lives” schtick. You need to be aware of your audience.

Anyways, continue.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg set science back about 3,000 years by comparing millions of years of anthropological and genetic evolution to the difference between whole and skim milk.

Science will never recover from Bader Ginsburg’s courtroom analogy! We might as well just take evo-devo and the Higgs boson and shove them up our asses at this point!

It says a lot about my ambivalent attitude towards the state of my birth that, when I read this, my first thought is, “At least this asshole believes in evolution.” Though I question what he thinks the term “evolution” means. I get “genetic evolution”, but what exactly is “anthropological evolution”? Is that just a fancy term for human evolution? If so, why not just say “human”?

More importantly, how does Bader Ginsberg’s analogy have any effect on any evolutionary science anywhere in the known universe?

The assumed equality of homosexual and heterosexual unions is strictly a legal invention, not a fact based on scientific research.

And what scientific research established heterosexual marriage? Last time I checked, straight marriage was just as much a legal invention as gay marriage.

In an attempt to be “tolerant,” we appear to be willing to ignore or remain ignorant of recent biological, psychological and genetic research into gender differences.

Oh, you mean the extremely controversial evolutionary psychology that is by no means established mainstream science yet?

Look, here’s the thing about gender differences:

Is there good reason to suspect that evolution resulted in behavioral/psychological differences between the genders? Probably. Evolution resulted in numerous other species with gender dimorphisms in behavior, so we have no reason to consider ourselves a magical exception.

Do we have a good grasp what those differences are in our species? Rarely. For most, we have only biases, stereotypes, and poorly reasoned evolutionary psychology. Acknowledging the reality of gender differences is not the same as having a scientific basis for specifying what exactly they are. There are very few gender differences in behavior that have anything like a solid scientific basis proving that they exist.

Should we expect these gender differences to be set-in-stone, black-and-white differences with no overlap or middle ground? Absolutely not. Evolution doesn’t work that way. There’s always variation. We should expect gender differences to be real, but we should also expect to find a lot of variation. And we sure as fuck should never act as if relationships which don’t fit the stereotype of some gender difference are somehow “unnatural”. Variation is natural. Difference is natural. If we’re going by evolution as our standard, then we should expect there to be some individuals who are different from the majority. Not all women will fit neatly into the stereotype of femininity. Not all men will fit neatly into the stereotype of masculinity. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just nature.

Additionally, not all gender differences are the result of genetics. Some are hammered into people’s heads as they grow up. Girls are discouraged from being assertive or standing up for themselves (Be a proper lady!). Boys are discouraged from being honest about when something hurts them (Take it like a man!). Is it really a genetic fact that women are passive and men are insensitive? Almost certainly not. More likely, people are just trained to act this way. It might be a psychological byproduct of the fact that men are larger and more muscular than women, so people associate the personality of toughness with those who have the stronger body, and the personality of passivity with those who have the weaker body. It might be true when averaged over the population, but that doesn’t make it a good predictor of how any particular individual should be. Nor does it mean that there’s anything wrong with the numerous individuals who don’t fit this stereotype.

Oh, wait, I was responding to a homophobe. What does he have to say at this point?

I don’t care how consenting adults get their sexual pleasure or if the legal rights enjoyed by heterosexual “unions” are given to same-sex “unions.” However, don’t expect me to park my intellect at the door of so-called tolerance or political correctness.

And here I was trying to discuss gender differences with at least some amount of nuance and sensitivity to the current political and scientific climate. What I really should have done is pull turds out of my ass labeled “political correctness” and “tolerance” and throw them at the Daily Oklahoman, so they could publish them as if they were actual opinions from an actual human being. Silly me!

Despite the groupthink of the American Pediatric Society, the scientific jury has just started deliberating on how the significant differences between male and female might affect child development.

And this is relevant to gay marriage because — LOOK! A MOOSE! *runs away*

We’ve not even begun to understand how to combine the gifts of female and male.

Someone didn’t get the talk.

Words and their associated ideas change the world.

This sentence seriously followed right after the one I quoted above. Your guess is as good as mine.

We may change the name of the “rose,” but its essence doesn’t change.

This pseudo-Shakespearean sentence followed immediately after the one I subsequently quoted. It contradicts it. No explanation is given.

Look at the impact of the technological revolution.

Again. Very next sentence. I have no idea what this motherfucker is saying at this point. We don’t know how to combine males and females, words change the world, except they don’t, look at technology. I’m starting to wonder if the author had a stroke at this point in the letter.

If our leaders can simplify millions of years of complex animal and human evolution to the difference between skim and whole milk, then we may as well believe the earth is flat, the sun revolves around the earth human activity doesn’t affect global warming or that black people aren’t citizens and therefore without legal rights…

Yes! If we accept that gays can have families, then we might as well throw out all of modern science and all the progress made in civil rights since the Civil War. All because Bader Ginsburg oversimplified things! Only a really evil, stupid person would make a sweeping judgment based on a gross oversimplification and ignorance of science! And Pat Rupel knows that the evil, stupid person doing this is none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I mean, who else might be doing something like that?

America: Teabagged by God

Over at the WingNutDaily, legendary deep thinker Pat Boone has copiously spewed forth once again on gay marriage, and gifted us with yet another nuanced and erudite rumination on sexual politics in America.

LAW OF THE LAND

Still one nation under God, or not?

Exclusive: Pat Boone prays for ‘9 humans who will decide future of America’

When WingNutDaily calls an article “exclusive”, it can mean only one of three things:
  1. It’s not actually exclusive, and a dozen other websites are reporting it.
  2. It’s actually a thinly disguised advertizement for some charlatan “natural” cure or survivalist claptrap.
  3. It’s an op-ed so stupid, crazy, malevolent, incoherent and/or pointless that no one else would dream of publishing it.
This is definitely an instance of case #3.
Would you allow a doctor, no matter his credentials, to infuse you with pig blood?
Wait, I thought this was about gay marriage… Is pig blood code for dick?
My mother, herself a trained registered nurse, received a pig valve in her heart in her ’80s, and it apparently extended her life to almost 91.
So your mom’s gay? What the hell are you babbling about, Pat?
But pig blood? In her veins, mixing her human blood with that of a pig?
You’re fine with tissue, but incredulous about blood. Okay. Where is this going?
Never! And no doctor worthy of his certificate would ever suggest it.
Fine. I won’t infuse you with pig blood, or dick, or whatever it is you’re going on about.
Why? Because human beings are created different from other animal forms. While we can accept blood from other humans, we dare not corrupt or pollute our human blood with that of any other life form.
A few points:
  1. Ever heard of blood types? You can’t take just any human blood and put it in anybody else.
  2. You can’t put walrus blood in a yak, either. And I don’t see sharks being very receptive to a pig blood transfusion. The immune system would reject it. The fact that you can’t put just any blood in our veins doesn’t exactly make us special.
  3. What the fuck exactly is your point?

Our DNA forbids it, and it’s not negotiable. Messing with our created state is deadly.

Then why are the pig valves okay? Did the DNA just get sloppy?

What is America’s DNA?

An overplayed, Ur-Fascist and essentialist metaphor abused by self-righteous nationalists to disenfranchise those who supposedly aren’t American enough?

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

Catch that word, their “Creator”? Our founders knew – and publicly proclaimed – that our rights, and life itself, flowed directly from the power and benevolence of our Creator!

Actually, it’s just a bit of rhetorical flourish that you’re reading way too much into.

And that a democratic republic, unprecedented in human history, must be comprised of, and governed by, individuals who would diligently endorse and obey the rules laid out by that Creator for the continuance of that free society.

Again, a few points:

  1. America was not the first democracy or the first republic or the first mixture of the two. There are these things called Greece and Rome you might want to look into.
  2. If you actually read what the founders such as Jefferson and Madison wrote (rather than just regurgitating fake or out-of-context quotes you get from frauds like David Barton), you’d realize that they were keenly aware of the fact that the will of the “creator” differs depending on whom you ask.
  3. Again, is there a point to any of this?

There was no other way to perpetuate our new liberties, including equality for all citizens.

Yes, all the citizens get equally butt-fucked by the patriarchal Christian tyrant in power.

That way was based completely on the Bible, and on the precepts God had revealed unmistakably in His Book. Without the Bible, we would never have had our Constitution.

In fact, the Bible is so important to the Constitution that it is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, and the drafters of the Constitution actively resisted attempts to put religious language in the document.

The signers of the Constitution knew that full well. Has anybody ever informed you that virtually all the 55 writers and signers of the United States Constitution of 1787 were members of Christian denominations?

Has anybody ever informed you that literally all of them were wealthy white males, and many of them owned slaves? If the fact that most were Christian means that Christians should dominate everything, then the fact that they were also wealthy white male slave owners should mean that we should role back rights for women, blacks and the poor, right?

Some revisionists today want you to believe otherwise. When I talked about this with Bill Maher, a cynical unbeliever, he sent me an Los Angeles Times article declaring that all the framers were deists or outright atheists, not Christians.

I responded, drawing his attention to the byline, attributing the distortion of facts to a member of an atheist organization who deliberately lied, ignoring the historically recorded truth.

It’s by an atheist, so it must be false!

The truth is that the Founders were much more diverse than either Maher or Boone realize. There probably were very few outright atheists, but they certainly weren’t uniformly orthodox Christians. Many were Deists or very liberal Unitarians. Many rejected the divinity of Christ and the reality of miracles. Many viewed the Bible as a collection of useful moral tales rather than actual truth. However, it is also true that many really were devout Christians who believe all the stupid dogshit that Christians believe.

The point is that no one can claim that The Founders were a monolithic group that is totally in line with exactly what anyone believes in 2013. No one gets to claim the Founders as their endless allies.

I also sent him a quote from John Jay, appointed by President George Washington as the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, who helped form the Constitution itself:

“Providence (God) has given to our people the choice of their rulers,
And it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our
Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

Why? Because it was Christians, guided by the Judeo-Christian Bible, who created the profound document guaranteeing liberty and equality to all, including atheists. They were – and are – the veins through which the blood of freedom flows!

First off, let’s look at some of the context for that quote, from Wikipedia:

Religion

Jay was a member of the Church of England, and later of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America after the American Revolution. Since 1785, Jay had been a warden of Trinity Church, New York. As Congress’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs, he supported the proposal after the Revolution that the Archbishop of Canterbury approve the ordination of bishops for the Episcopal Church in the United States.[27]He argued unsuccessfully in the provincial convention for a prohibition against Catholics holding office.[28]

Jay believed that the most effective way of ensuring world peace was through propagation of the Christian gospel. In a letter addressed to Pennsylvania House of Representatives member John Murray, dated October 12, 1816, Jay wrote, “Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war. Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”[29]

[Emphasis added]

We can learn a few things from this.

  1. The attitude which John Jay was expressing failed to prevail, since the Constitution explicitly prohibits having any religious test for office.
  2. John Jay had a rather naive view of history, seeing as Christian rulers have provoked war over and over and over throughout the entire existence of that noxious religion.
  3. John Jay seemed to have a view of “equality” similar to Boone’s, which boils down to “Christians are better than everyone else, so all non-Christians get to be equally pushed around and disenfranchised by Christians.”
  4. The mere fact that John Jay said something doesn’t make it law.

And the blood of freedom is the Word and will of God.

No. Whenever someone brings up the “word of god”, it is almost always something along the lines of “Believe this, without evidence, or else.” That is not freedom.

So what’s my point? I hope it’s obvious.

That’s some funny shit right there.

Just as your body, and mine, is created to run on one fuel – and only one – so our America was created to operate on only one set of principles. They are our very DNA. And those principles are found only in the Bible. Yes, the Bible.

Yes, the Bible. Where God orders his chosen people to commit genocide, slavery, rape, polygamy, torture, and a host of other things that are part of our principles.

And can we at least start circling around something vaguely resembling a point at some juncture in this article?

“Separation of church and state?” Take the “church,” the institution that promulgates Bible principles, out of the “state” – and you will not have the “state” called America. It will be something else (and some today seem to prefer it), but it will not – could not – be the America that became the greatest nation in history.

Except for the part that that’s exactly what it would be. It wasn’t the Bible that created our vast industrial system, our scientific excellence or our gradual march towards expanding civil rights to more and more Americans.

Our Supreme Court is faced right now with its greatest challenge, ever.

Because whatever topic I’m discussing at the moment is, in my goldfish-like mind, the most important thing that ever happened!

By June, concerning the very definition of marriage, nine human beings will decide whether we remain “one nation under God,” governed by the God who created us and them – or take on a new fuel, the treacherous, fickle, amoral “popular opinion,” a synthetic mixture of poll results, ignorance of unchangeable biblical principle and outright hedonistic rebellion.

Yeah, fuck democracy!

Don’t you right-wingers usually say that the Supreme Court is evil because it (sometimes) overrules the popular opinion? But now it’s evil because it might reach a decision that’s in line with popular opinion?

Why don’t you assholes just admit it? You hate the concept of an independent judiciary. You hate the concept of Americans reaching their own conclusions about other Americans rather than just accepting what your church tells them to think about others. You hate the fact that most people don’t give a flying fuck about your superstitions. You hate the fact that the things that are most important in your lives don’t mean shit to the rest of us. You hate the fact that you’re losing the so-called “culture war”. And you hate the fact that the very constitutional republic you pretend to idolize is your #1 enemy in all of this. You just hate the fact that the American people have a voice, and your voice is a tiny, screechy, obnoxious minority in it.

Already this court has ruled against equality, dictating that innocent babies still in their mothers’ wombs have fewer rights than their mothers. And in so doing, they’ve ruled against life itself – at least for the near 60 million babies aborted since their infamous decision in 1973.

Actual living, breathing, feeling, thinking women should be beholden to undeveloped fetuses that don’t even have higher brain functions yet. You know. “Equality”.

If you have any knowledge at all of our Founding Fathers’ intentions and guiding principles, can you seriously imagine their considering marriage, even for a second, as anything but the union of a man and a woman?

I can seriously imagine them thinking that it’s okay to own another human being. I can also seriously imagine them thinking that a marriage is only between a man and a woman of the same race. Because that’s exactly what they did. Why should I have to align every belief I have with theirs?

Were they stupid or naïve or ignorant about human inclinations?

No, but you are. They were a product of their time. You are a sad, pathetic twat trying desperately to pretend you don’t live in yours.

And as true now as then, our concepts of morality and virtue come directly from God, through His Bible. That’s undeniable.

It’s totally deniable. “Deniable” and “Morals come from the Bible” are so close they might as well be gay fuck-buddies. Every Christian on Earth, including Holy Pat himself, denies it every day. No one has ever actually derived their moral system from the Bible. They instead adopt the moral system of those around them, and then shoehorn Bible verses into it.

His love is universal, for all of us.

God loves you. And he created a place of eternal torment where you’re destined to go if you don’t believe in him. Because that’s how love works.

But His blessings are promised only to those who honor and obey His Word.

Because that’s how you treat people you love!

When a society decides to substitute its collective will for His, it changes its spiritual and moral DNA – like pumping pig’s blood into human veins.

Again, a few things:

  1. The collective will is this thing we call democracy. Get used to it.
  2. “His” will always seems to coincide with the prejudices of whatever old white male happens to be speaking. Can’t help but notice that “He” doesn’t actually pipe up very often.
  3. Putting the blood of another species in your body won’t change your DNA, you fucking dumbshit. Your analogy sucks.

People, we must pray, and pray very earnestly, for the nine human beings who will soon decide the future of America. Only if we remain “one nation under God” will we long survive.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Anyways, let’s take the obligatory look at what the commenters at WingNutDaily have to say on this topic.

nolejoea day ago

Decent NORMAL people don’t get sexually excited over people who are of their same sex. Mentally deranged perverts do.

BobCactusFlower William Wilson5 hours ago

You mean those NORMAL people, who, when constantly confronted by a deviant sexual behavior, find anal sex between perverts ABNORMALLY disgusting?

Nope. That’s as normal as (blechh) apple pie. It’s just that the perverts are still PERVERTS and rather than be legalized, they should be caged and retrained like the filthy animals that they are.

No need to thank me!

Equality! Biblical morality! Universal love!

proclaimingGodsTruth12 hours ago

I think judgment has already come to America; only now the judgments are increasing. The fabric of America’s Christian heritage is coming apart at the seams. We are on the verge of a huge financial collapse that will devastate this land.

It’s time to get right with God, it’s time to proclaim Him in the streets, in the churches, among family – everywhere! God means business – He doesn’t joke, kid around or play games.

We’ve got over 3,000 years of people saying this shit. The well’s gotta run dry at some point, right?

Nottolate buzz13195011 hours ago

When the framers of the Constitution spoke of freedom of religion, they were referring to Christianity only. How do we know? First, the majority of them were Christians (some deist mixed in). Second, other religions were not present in the land at the time. Third, what does that have to do with what I wrote? I spoke on the issue of gay marriage and not freedom of religion.

Can’t argue with that non-reasoning!

BobCactusFlower buzz1319505 hours ago

Brilliant assessment of American founding principles notwithstanding, this country remains OURS and when you try to take it from us, you’re going to find out just how much freedom of worship costs to create and keep.

You’re going to find out that it takes a lot more than a couple of filthy communists in the White House to make God’s people accept sexual perversion, murder, and open worship of satan and your other pals….lol

Freedom for all, as long as you recognize that this country is OURS and you can fuck off!

Larry Bohannon Michael Leone11 hours ago

I can tell that you are ignorant public school student. [sic] You don’t even know the difference between “you are” and your. [sic] Why should we even listen to foolish talk. [sic]

There’s this thing you should look out for when correcting the grammar of others…

Chris Farrell Michael Leone5 hours ago

Where did you gather that the Christians only argument against so-called “gay” marriage is that “Jesus doesn’t like it?”

Marriage, to a Christian, is a covenant in which one man and one woman enter into with God.

I couldn’t possibly have gathered it from exactly what you’re saying.

BobCactusFlower Michael Leone5 hours ago

lol…….get MARRIED to a pervert homosexual? (yeah, you call them gay, but I have YET to see one even marginally cheerful)

That’s probably because they’re stuck being around you.

02word6 hours ago

As one judge said, the gay rights/same sex marriage people haven’t even been around (I mean come out) for but a few years. It’s a made up excuse to push their beliefs into society.

Yeah, fuck them! Only an asshole would do that! Now let’s get back to that part where freedom of religion only applies to Christians and America’s laws all have to be based on the particular Biblical exegesis of a small number of self-righteous bigots.

A Turd By Any Other Name Would Smell As…

Sometimes you feel like responding to something on the internet is a big fat waste of time. This post is definitely one of those kinds of things. It’s major SIWOTI Syndrome. I’m dumb for doing this. But I can’t help myself. I actually interrupted watching Joss Whedon’s DVD commentary of The Avengers to write this shit. I suck. But I’ve got shit to say, and I’m dumb enough to say it. At least I’m drunk. That’s less an excuse than a mea culpa, but it’s all I got.

Anyways, so Jerry Coyne made a light hearted post about a silly t-shirt. It was really just filler posting for his blog. It didn’t really amount to much. I’ll admit that I often forget the periodic table of elements, so it took me a few seconds to get the joke. Again, I’m dumb and I suck. But whatever. The point is, it’s a nothing post taking a light jab at the ID movement.

Enter Lee Bowman, who posted the following in response:

Actually, there is a controversy over the summation of tentative causative factors within evolutionary theory, and in my considered view, there are multiple causative factors.

But is interventionary input by a directed source even a possibility? Of course, but it eclipses orbiting teapots.

I occasionally comment on Yahoo Answers, although a back and forth exchange doesn’t work well there.

My biggest concern was what I view as a misconception over what ID entails, evident by the answers preceding mine.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130124202750AANy5NV

Where to begin with this shit? He completely missed the point of Russell’s teapot; he’s ignorant of the fact that evolutionary theory already involves multiple causal factors; he’s using fancy-talk and $10 words to disguise the fact that he provides NO actual evidence; he confounds possibility with plausibility (the existence of unicorns is possible, but that doesn’t make unicorns scientific); he swipes at previous commenters without bothering to actually point out any flaws they made; and he is, in general, bloviating like a big gas bag and then giving us a link to his “concern”, which is just another comment on another thread at Yahoo where he bloviates some more:

First, I am a rationalist, or free thinker, which eclipses both liberal and conservative philosophies. And by that, I mean that I view the evidence in assessing the data, NOT an indoctrinated conclusion assessed by others, and in this case BOTH religion and materialist oriented science regarding evolutionary theory.

That said, I’ll now give you my interpretation of ID within biology. It is simply an adjunct hypothesis regarding causative factors in producing functional complexity, and sits with equal status along with natural causation. Both are valid hypotheses, and IMO, both were operatives in the evolutionary processes.

So in answer to the question, first, we need definitions.

Evolution = an overall set of processes which have culminated in living organisms.

Intelligent Design = not a separate theory from ToE, but a causative hypothesis entailing directed input at key points, by a single or multiple intelligences, and NOT based on scriptural accounts.

Natural Selection of genetic variation = a causative hypothesis entailing non-directed input to phenotypic advancements, which result in fecundity advantages based on sexual and environmental selective pressures.

Horizontal Gene Transfer and other natural processes are hypothesized to produce upward complexity and novelty as well. All of the above are hypothetical and equally viable at this time.

Now that ID is properly understood and defined, it sits within evolutionary theory in addition to natural causative factors, and cannot be ruled out summarily. It is thus a legitimate concept for discussion and further research, classrooms included.

More word salad, and even less actual substance. What I’m finding really annoying at this point is his penchant for inventing new terms without bothering to define them.  What, for example, is an “adjunct hypothesis”? I’ve been studying philosophy of science for almost 15 years and never come across such a term. I’ve seen the term “auxiliary hypothesis”, but an example of an auxiliary hypothesis is something like “The sample in this particular Petri dish is not contaminated”. Clearly not what Lee Bowman has in mind. But it doesn’t stop there. What’s a “Causative hypothesis”? What’s a “phenotypic advancement”? What’s a “fecundity advantage”? None of these terms occur in the scientific or philosophical literature, and exactly where they fit into it is never made clear by Mr. Bowman. We can speak of causal hypotheses in philosophy of science, but the question will revolve more around how properly to structure the experimental and control groups in designing an experiment which can prove more than mere correlation in a statistical study. And while you’ll hear a lot about phenotypes in a biology class, you won’t hear much about their “advancement” because that’s just nonsensical. Evolution doesn’t have a direction and no phenotype is more “advanced” than any other except in a highly relativized sense. And “fecundity advantage” just seems like Lee Bowman’s attempt to make the term “natural selection” sound smarter by using bigger words to say it. Blah. Not impressed.

Bowman’s definitions are utterly worthless and unoperationalizable. Defining evolution as “an overall set of processes which have culminated in living organisms” is like defining general relativity as “a set of physical interactions that, like, make galaxies and shit.” Worthless. General relativity is testable and well supported if you define it like an adult human being would, but if you insist on doing nothing but stringing words together that don’t actually mean anything, then that’s exactly what you’ll get. There IS, in fact, a very testable and very mathematically definable definition of general relativity, just like there are testable and definable formulations of the theory of evolution, but you have to do this horrible thing called STUDY SOME FUCKING SCIENCE to understand them. If you did this horrible thing called STUDY SOME FUCKING SCIENCE, you would understand why “a causative hypothesis entailing directed input at key points, by a single or multiple intelligences,” is meaningless gibberish. The ID proponents have, only on rare occasions, tried to define what these “key points” where intelligent intervention are. Every time, someone has pointed them to experimental findings which show that no such ID is required at this so-called “key point” (examples include bacterial flagella and the Krebs cycle). ID proponents respond by changing their definition of what’s a “key point”. It’s just an old-fashioned Moving the Goalposts fallacy, dressed up in fancy language. There’s no way to operationalize the idea of “key points” where ID is needed, because every time someone does operationalize it ID fails, and its proponents just move their “key point” to some other aspect of biology.

The theory of evolution (which includes natural selection, genetics, genetic drift, common descent, evo devo, etc.) is testable, and has been tested, and has passed those tests. Intelligent Design is not testable. A fortiori, no test has ever supported it. And Lee Bowman hasn’t changed any of this. He’s just dressed up creationism in fancy terms like “interventionary input by a directed source” and magically declared himself to be “a rationalist, or free thinker, which eclipses both liberal and conservative philosophies” (I don’t believe in god, but even I avoid calling myself rationalist and freethinker. It just sounds pretentious most of the time).  At first, I responded to him briefly (which was wise–what I am doing now is definitely not wise):

LeeBowman,

You seem to be under the impression that taking the exact same things a zillion people have said before and gussying them up in stilted, needlessly prolix language makes your comments sound more rational or more relevant.

It doesn’t. Whether you say, “God done it” or “interventionary input by a directed source”, it’s still discredited gibberish. I actually have more respect for the rednecks who yell “God done it!” and wave their Bibles around. At least they’re just simply stating what they believe. Your brand of pseudo-intellectual sophistry is much worse.

I should have just left it at that. I really should. Lee Bowman responded on Jan 27, and I should just ignore it, because he doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said by a bajillion creationists before him. He doesn’t present any new experimental evidence. He doesn’t formulate any new hypothesis that hadn’t already been spewed out by creationists pretending not to be creationists. He in fact does not do anything new at all in any way. So I should just ignore him.

But god damn it. I’m drunk. I’m surly. Fuck this guy. Give me your counterarguments, you magnificent Lee Bowman bastard you…

Ah, but what may “seem” to be the case (in your case)

Let’s not overuse the word “case”. It’s especially ill-advised to include two very different senses of the word “case” in the same sentence at the same time, like you just did. You wouldn’t want to equivocate between what “seems” to be the “case” and what’s my “case”. This is especially true since the “quotes” you put around words kinda undermine whatever “case” you’re trying to make in that regard.  When you put the word “seem” in quotes, are you trying to allege that it doesn’t actually seem that way to me? That I’m misusing the word “seem”? If not, why put the quotes around the word? I put the word “case” in quotes because that’s what one does when one wants to discuss a word as a word. I’m still a bit confused as to why you put the word “seem” in quotes. You are not discussing the word “seem” itself, which makes me think that you put those quotes there without really thinking about what putting quotes around an English word means.

Oh, wait, I see. You’re just scare-quoting me when you put quotes around “seem”. Sorry. I was too distracted by your clumsy use of the word “case”. If you don’t want me to take you to task for how you use “case” in the future, then don’t needlessly put “seem” in quotes, and it won’t happen. But if you want to use bullshit scare-quotes on me, I’m happy to reciprocate. Also, my use of the word “seem” does not merit scare-quotes in your response, unless you disagree with me about what the word “seem” means. Scare-quotes are only warranted when you allege that the quoted author is using the word inappropriately. Since you never made any such “case”, you can take your scare quotes and “shove” them up your “ass”.

Ah, but what may “seem” to be the case (in your case) is a blatantly false assumption based upon several false presumptions.

And how much time have you put into examining your presumptions? Or, even worse, your assumptions based on presumptions?

One, that ID is a religious view, two, that anyone espousing it has an a priori religious position, and three, that couching that view in loquacious verbiage to sneak it in under the wire is merely a tactic.

First off, “loquacious” is a description of the person who spews the words, not a description of the words themselves. There’s no such thing as “loquacious verbiage”. If you must use big words, please use them properly. At least look them up in a dictionary or thesaurus first. That’s not too much to ask. Seriously. I’m not kidding about this. People using big words without bothering to learn what they mean is a big pet peeve of mine. Use the words the way they should be used. Don’t just make up your own imaginary meaning for words which have nothing to do with what they really mean. If you keep improperly using big words, I’m going to call you a Sparkling Yak Sesquipedalian. By my imaginary definition,  Sparkling means “Numb nuts”, “yak” means “internet faker”, and “sesquipedalian” means “sesquipedalian”. Look it up, bitch. (“Bitch” means you.)  If you don’t want me to make up imaginary meanings of words, then stop doing it yourself. Use “loquacious” according to its actual definition, or STFU.

Firstly, ID is an evidence based hypothesis.

That’s laughable. Every time an ID proponent has proposed a hypothesis that can be tested by evidence (such as bacterial flagella or blood clotting), tests have shown that Intelligent Design fails. How do they respond? By changing the standards of the test. ID is not evidence based by any standard.

There are not any experimental programs currently using any ID model. No ID proponent had produced any new experimental data. If you go to any biology laboratory anywhere in the world, you will find scientists using the theory of evolution to construct their experiments. And these experiments work. But you won’t find people using ID to construct experiments. That’s because “Invisible undefined magic man did it” is not a testable hypothesis. ID is promulgated by lots of people, but  ID is not promulgated because some scientific evidence supports it. None does. It’s promulgated because there are a large number of Americans who believe that Jesus rode a dinosaur to the gun range, and they feel all poopy inside about the fact that all of modern science contradicts what they believe, so they pay good money for people who pose as scientific rationalists to pretend to treat Jesus riding a dino to the gun range like it’s not a stupid, crazy idea.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s stupid and crazy.

While to some it may imply a monotheistic god, this is a faith based position that may proceed from design inferences, but does not predicate a design inference. ID is based primarily upon the improbability of natural causation where probability bounds are exceeded.

“Probability bounds”? What do you mean by that? Do you mean Markov conditions? Or is this some kind of Bayesian epistemology? Or is it just big words that mean nothing? Probabilities are defined in terms of a defined number of events picked out of some probability space. Both the probability space and the function that picks out an event need to be defined, but Bowman attempts neither. The work I’ve done involving probabilities, such as  Decision Theory, Markov Decision Processes, and Bayesian Networks, don’t involve any kind of “probability bounds” being “exceeded”. This is just Lee Bowman inventing terms without defining them again. Big surprise there.

Of course, he’s not really doing any new work or research. Actually, he’s just appealing to the old false dichotomy of creationism: “Either it’s designed, or it just happened randomly.” This is illogical, as the algorithmic process of natural selection is neither designed nor random, so once again Lee Bowman is just using fancy sounding language to express dumb, already disproven ideas. What Bowman calls “the improbability of natural causation” is just the old Watchmaker argument, which goes all the way back to William Paley in 1802. Natural selection is not random–it’s determined by the environment. So any theory that bases its explanatory power on whether it’s more explanatory than randomness is already a straw man.

Secondly, there is no basis for this assumption, simply because there have been examples cited where this was evident. Example: Judge Jones’ assumption that actions by the school board in the Dover PA district, along with a few other examples, proved that ID was religion based. The scientific basis for ID went completely over his head.

How law works and how science works are two different things. People with functioning brains get this. Lee Bowman is not one of these people.

Judge John Jones was charged with multiple tasks in the Dover trial. One was to evaluate the scientific merit of ID. Another was to adjudicate the claims about whether ID should be taught in schools. Another was to adjudicate the actions of the people on the Dover school board. Another was to decide whether their particular ID policy was consistent with judicial precedent on constitutional law. In other words, he needed to be a Judge. ‘Cause that’s what judges do. They interpret the law.

Lee Bowman has not actually read Judge Jones’ decision. But you can read it here. Merely reading words in a document will already put you way, way, way, way ahead of anything Bowman has to say. Judge Jones was not merely interpreting the science. He was interpreting the law, insofar as it relates to science. The pro-ID evidence presented to him consisted of some religious nuts who knew nothing about the very topics they expounded upon (i.e. the Dover school board), and scientists such as Michael Behe who openly admitted that ID requires that supernatural claims be allowed into science. Basically he had people saying “Jesus Jesus Jesus!” and people saying “We aren’t screaming ‘Jesus!’, but we don’t have any other reason to be here…” The reason for including ID in Dover was religious.

No scientific basis for ID was assessed, because none was presented. No experiments supporting ID were presented at the trial, because no such experiments have ever been performed. This is in stark contrast to evolution by natural selection, where numerous experiments were presented, none of which were challenged by the defendants. They just simply didn’t have anything to respond with.

And three, what I stated was what design inferences are based upon, i.e. the postulated addition of intervention to natural processes at key points, to facilitate subsequent altered phyla.

What the fuck are “altered phyla”? That’s not a scientific term, and you also have not made any attempt to define what the hell it means. It’s yet again another term you throw out there without bothering to define what the fuck it means.

And what are “key points”? How does one decide what “point” is a “key” point? What scientific standard is used to distinguish regular old points from “key” points? And what makes any phylum “subsequent”, regardless of whether it’s “altered” or not? “Altered” phyla is already nonsense, but calling some phylum “subsequent” on top of being “altered” and adding in that this phylum had some kind of completely undefined “key point” is just piling undefined nonsense on top of undefined nonsense. If you’re going to use terms that have no presence in the scientific or philosophical literature, at least do us the favor of providing a definition. And “a causative hypothesis entailing non-directed input to phenotypic advancements” is NOT a good definition, seeing as you never bothered to define what the fuck a “phenotypic advancement” is.

While not offered as hard fact due to its non-empirically replicable forensic nature

Forensic science is perfectly empirical and replicable. Nothing that you have said has even addressed that point at all. Basically, you’re saying, “I don’t have jack shit to support ID, but I can PRETEND that’s also true for natural selection!” Well, sorry, you’re wrong. Natural selection has tons of empirical evidence to support it. Galapagos finches are just the beginning. There’s also the massive mounds of evidence from comparative morphology, biogeography, genomics, domestic breeding, population genetics, deep homologies, ecology, and tons of other areas. You have not addressed any of these. The reason you haven’t addressed any of them is because you don’t know anything about them.

neither are totally natural causative processes, which have not been empirically confirmed as well.

Remember, Bowman is claiming that my problem is that I think ID proponents are advocating for the existence of some kind of deity. Lee Bowman claims that’s a bogus “presumption” on my part. And yet he couches the argument in terms of “natural” versus “designed”. What’s the alternative to “natural”, Lee? If it’s not “supernatural”, then what is it?

At least at this juncture, neither are proven as absolutes.

True, in that science doesn’t deal in absolutes. Rather than absolute truths, the Evolution/Intelligent Design issues could be better summarized thus:

Amount of evidence:

Evolution: A Fucking Shit Ton (Pretty much the entire science of biology provides evidence for it)

Intelligent Design: Almost Nothing (and pretty much the entire science of biology contradicts it)

But none of this stops Lee Bowman from being very, very proud of himself.

Omigosh, I just noticed that my response to the evolution/ ID question posed by ABA was just awarded ‘Best Answer’ by him. Since there were (24) other answers 180 deg. to mine, I guess we must both be creotards

Hmmmm, let’s look at the original question….

Do you believe that both theories of evolution and intelligent design should be taught in school science?

If not tell me if either/or/none should be taught.

Please tell me if your liberal or conservative..
(Studies show liberals are typically more intolerant of other viewpoints so I’d like to test this theory)

Yup. Both creotards. Here, let me pose a similar question:

Do you think people who disagree with me about unicorns being real should have equal time in schools?

Tell me whether either/or/none unicorn science should be taught to other people’s children.

(Please indicate whether or not you’re a different political orientation from me, because I’ve heard people who have different politics from me think differently from me and the people who told me this called it science without actually providing experimental evidence, so I want to know whether you think differently from me so I can ignore your opinion from the get-go also my grammar sucks i hate the english language suck it education dumb people rule!!!!!111)

Oh my god, you got voted up on a Yahoo thread by a barely literate creationist. Maybe both of you are just narcissistic…

Or perhaps just rational thinkers …

No. You’ll be classified as rotifers based on morphology before either of you is ever mistaken for a rational thinker.

Occam’s Blinders

Most people have heard the term Occam’s Razor. In a nutshell, it means “Don’t needlessly multiply hypotheses,” or less precisely, “The simplest answer is usually correct.” It can be seen as a way to excise or cut away less plausible or more doubtful hypotheses in explaining some phenomenon, instead sticking with the one’s that have greater prior probability based on what we already know. So the “razor” part is a figurative means of cutting away the hypotheses that require us to make more assumptions or unsupported assertions, leaving only the more defensible hypotheses.

It’s possible to imagine some method that does precisely the opposite. Let’s call it Occam’s Blinders. Rather than trim the less plausible hypotheses away from the more plausible, it instead blocks out the more plausible, leaving the least plausible hypotheses as the only choices left. The obvious question one would ask about Occam’s Blinders is “Why the fuck would anyone want such a thing?” And yet, I maintain that such thinking is quite common. Take, for instance, T. M. Luhrmann at CNN.com, who argues that talking to God is a perfectly “normal” thing. (I put “normal” in scare-quotes because, as I’ll argue later, Luhrmann is equivocating throughout the article on just what “normal” means.)

Most people reading the ancient scriptures understand these accounts of hearing God’s voice as miracles that really did happen but no longer take place today, or maybe as folkloric flourishes to ancient stories. Even Christians who believe that miracles can be an everyday affair can hesitate when someone tells them they heard God speak audibly. There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

Except that usually it’s not.

Well, okay, fair enough. Schizophrenia affects only about 1% of the adult population, and yet hearing voices in one’s head is something most if not all people might experience at some point in their life time (presumably only rarely, though). What the hell does this have to do with “scripture” or “god”?

Hearing a voice when alone, or seeing something no one else can see, is pretty common. At least one in 10 people will say they’ve had such an experience if you ask them bluntly. About four in 10 say they have unusual perceptual experiences between sleep and awareness if you interview them about their sleeping habits.

Yup. That’s what’s called a hypnogogic or hypnopompic hallucination. Lots of people have them, myself included. Hell, just this morning, as I slowly woke up, I had a short discussion about Rawlsian political philosophy with a figment of my imagination. It was a dream that felt more real because I was half awake during it. What’s the big deal? What does god turning himself into a person, killing himself, and coming back (i.e. scripture) have to do with it?

And if you ask them in a way that allows them to admit they made a mistake, the rate climbs even higher. By contrast, schizophrenia, the most debilitating of all mental disorders, is pretty rare. Only about one in 100 people can be diagnosed with the disorder.

Yup. Hearing voices or hallucinating on occasion is not necessarily a sign of mental disorder. No argument.  Please get to the point.

Moreover, the patterns are quite distinct. People with schizophrenia who hear voices hear them frequently. They often hear them throughout the day, sometimes like a rain of sound, or a relentless hammer. They hear not only sentences, but paragraphs: words upon words upon words. What the voices say is horrid—insults, sneers and contemptuous jibes. “Dirty. You’re dirty.” “Stupid slut.” “You should’ve gone under the bus, not into it.”

That was not what Abraham, Moses and Job experienced, even when God was at his most fierce.

You’re saying god never accused people of being dirty, promiscuous, or said they should be destroyed? Because if you read the prophets, it seems like that was pretty much all he had to say.

For the last 10 years, I have been doing anthropological and psychological research among experientially oriented evangelicals, the sort of people who seek a personal relationship with God and who expect that God will talk back. For most of them, most of the time, God talks back in a quiet voice they hear inside their minds, or through images that come to mind during prayer. But many of them also reported sensory experiences of God. They say God touched their shoulder, or that he spoke up from the back seat and said, in a way they heard with their ears, that he loved them.

A lot of people also report seeing bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Are they crazy? Not necessarily. Most are just normal folks. But that doesn’t mean that we should take their bigfoot reports seriously. Most likely, they saw an animal they were unfamiliar with and let their imaginations run away from there. That’s normal. But normal can still be wrong. In fact, normal is normally wrong. In America, it’s normal to reject evolution, for instance. Doesn’t change the fact that anyone who does so is wrong (and ignorant).

In fact, my research has found that these unusual sensory experiences are more common among those who pray in a way that uses the imagination—for example, when prayer involves talking to God in your mind. The unusual sensory experiences were not, in general, associated with mental illness (we checked).

Here we have the beginning of Luhrmann’s equivocation. “Normal” means, in this paragraph, “lot’s of people without mental illnesses have unusual experiences”. As such, it has absolutely nothing to do with “god” or any other supernatural being.

Importantly, she leaps from reports of unusual sensory experience being more common to unusual sensory experience being more common. This is almost certainly an example of confirmation bias. People expecting to have such experiences will be more likely to remember them, while those with no such expectations will likely forget them. This is commonplace and, again, perfectly normal human psychology. And the following paragraph strengthens my suspicion–the one’s more likely to be looking for such experiences are the ones more likely to report them:

They were more common among those who felt comfortable getting caught up in their imaginations. They were also more common among those who prayed for longer periods. Prayer involves paying attention to words and images in the mind, and giving them significance. There is something about the skilled practice of paying attention to the mind in this way that shifts—just a little bit—the way we judge what is real.

Here’s where Occam’s Blinders come in. Take something most people have (unusual sensory experience), and interpret it via not what is (a) most likely (the brain is an imperfect organ that will sometimes give strange or erroneous feedback), but rather via (b) what most tickles your imagination (an invisible being who doesn’t want me to masturbate is touching me). And from this point on, Luhrmann will equivocate between the simple empirical observation (a) and the highly embellished theological interpretation (b), even though she has only been able to show that (a) is “normal”.

I would contend that putting on Occam’s Blinders is not in any way “the skilled practice of paying attention to the mind,” but rather quite the opposite. It is the refusal to pay enough attention to the mind to notice important cognitive biases and re-evaluate one’s own thoughts and beliefs in light of them. One wearing Occam’s Blinders immediately leaps to “god” as the explanation of an occurrence in her own thoughts. One who has the meta-cognitive abilities to examine her own thoughts more thoroughly and critically might consider the god hypothesis, but then reject it because there are other more plausible explanations. It’s the latter who has more skilled practice of paying attention to her mind. The one who judges that god is real based on inner voices is the one paying less attention to how her mind works.

Yet even many of these Christians, who wanted so badly to have a back-and-forth relationship with God, were a little hesitant to talk about hearing God speak with their ears. For all the biblical examples of hearing God speak audibly, they doubt.

Gee, I wonder why. Could it be because Christians, no matter how devoted they claim to be, still on some level recognize the silliness of claiming that an invisible man is telling you what to do? Could it be because they recognize that merely hearing a voice in your head is not sufficient evidence to leap to the conclusion that the omnipotent ruler of the entire universe is personally letting you know that fags are evil? And why would many Christians be reluctant to interpret a voice in their head as god? Could it be that while hearing the voice might be normal, interpreting it as god is not normal?

When the Christians I know heard God speak audibly, it often flitted across their minds that they were crazy.

This is a false dichotomy. “Crazy” and “god talking” are not the only two options here. “Normal brain fart” is also an available option, if you take off Occam’s Blinders.

Look, your brain is processing a lot of information, and it never does it perfectly. Sometimes sensory input will be interpreted as a voice when it is not actually a voice. Sometimes a slight muscle spasm will be interpreted as a touch on the skin. Sometimes your inner monologue will feel like someone else’s voice. Sometimes you’ll start dreaming before you’re fully asleep, and see and hear things that aren’t there. This happens. But these simple empirical observations do not in any way justify an inference to the nature of the entire universe (which is exactly what any claim about god is).

In his new book, “Hallucinations,” the noted neurologist Oliver Sacks tells his own story about a hallucinatory experience that changed his life. He took a hearty dose of methamphetamines as a young doctor, and settled down with a 19th century book on migraines. He loved the book, with its detailed observation and its humanity. He wanted more. As he was casting around in his mind for someone who could write more that he could read, a loud internal voice told him “You silly bugger” that it was he. So he began to write. He never took drugs again.

Now, Sacks does not recommend that anyone take drugs like that. He thinks that what he did was dangerous and he thinks he was lucky to have survived.

I loves me some Oliver Sacks. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is an excellent book, and his research is important. But I do have to ask a few questions…

1.) If hearing these voices is so good and normal, then why is taking drugs that cause them so bad and abnormal?

2.) If these voices can result from purely chemical, drug-induced brain frenzy, then what sane person would insist they come from the Almighty Ruler of All That is and Ever Will Be?

3.) Or are we seriously going to claim that god can’t communicate with us any better than a meth-induced hallucination can? If that’s the best god can do, I am not impressed. If talking to god is so normal, then why can’t god just talk like a normal person?

4.) If your goal is to claim these things are “normal”, then wouldn’t the guy snorting meth and hearing voices in his head be not exactly the best example?

What interests me, however, is that he allowed himself to trust the voice because the voice was good. There’s a distinction between voices associated with psychiatric illness (often bad) and those (often good) that are found in the so-called normal population. There’s another distinction between those who choose to listen to a voice, if the advice it gives is good, and those who do not. When people like Sacks hear a voice that gives them good advice, the experience can transform them.

How do we define what’s a “good” voice and what’s a “bad” voice? And by what measurement do we establish that the voice heard by the general population are “often good”?

These distinctions seem to me to be utterly artificial. Unless you can show that the etiology of the voice in the head is somehow causally related to what’s “good” or “bad”, then I’m not buying it. And since good and bad are highly complex and situational value judgments made in complicated social contexts, it would be hard to prove to any degree of satisfaction whether a voice in the head is pathological based on whether it’s good or bad.

About a third of the people I interviewed carefully at the church where I did research reported an unusual sensory experience they associated with God. While they found these experiences startling, they also found them deeply reassuring.

So what? So they had experiences which, according to your own research, most people have. But they childishly imagined it was Jesus babbling in their ear rather than a brain fart, and they felt better for it. We can easily comfort ourselves with implausible delusions or cognitively simple but irrational modes of thought. This is well known.

But the question of whether “god talking” is normal is not addressed by this data. That would be equivocating between an empirical observation about the brain and a hermeneutical or epistemic attitude towards one’s subjective experiences. The fact that many Christians will admit to having the former but be reluctant to acknowledge the latter (as Luhrmann herself said just a few paragraphs ago)  is evidence that hearing god’s “voice” is NOT normal, if we’re going by the statistical definition of normal used earlier in this op-ed, wherein if most non-mentally ill people have it then it’s normal. Most people have the experiences, but most also do NOT interpret them with Occam’s Blinders on. So it’s not normal by Luhrmann’s own definition. The only way this doesn’t follow is if we equivocate on the distinction between the empirical observation that people report these experiences and the way someone chooses to interpret them.

Science cannot tell us whether God generated the voice that Abraham or Augustine heard.

The fuck it can’t. If science can show us how the normal operations of the physical brain might generate such experiences (which it can), then the burden of proof falls on those who insist it’s actually god and not physical matter that’s doing this.  But in order to come up with such proof, you need to take Occam’s Blinders off.

These kinds of statements really annoy me. Andrew Newberg, a neurologist who studies the effects of religion on the brain, has committed a similar fallacy. In his study of religious experience, he has found clear evidence of physical changes in brain activity which can explain what’s going on in a so-called religious experience. However, he then goes on to say, “But this doesn’t mean it’s not God or Allah or Xenu or Darth Vader that’s doing it” (I’m paraphrasing).

This is nonsense. It’s like saying, “Yeah, your experiments show that oxygen causes combustion, but that doesn’t prove that phlogiston doesn’t cause it.” Not directly, sure, but it does shift the burden of proof entirely onto the phlogiston theorist. If you want me to take phlogiston seriously, it’s your job to come up with empirical evidence of phlogiston. The same goes for religious experiences and god “talking” to us. We have good evidence that this results from the way the brain is wired up. If you insist “god” has anything to do with it, it is your job to prove it. Otherwise, science has for all intents and purposes eliminated the god hypothesis.

But it can tell us that many of these events are normal, part of the fabric of human perception. History tells us that those experiences enable people to choose paths they should choose, but for various reasons they hesitate to choose.

It can tell us that strange sensory experience is normal, NOT that interpreting such experiences as Jeebus whispering in your ear is normal. History might actually provide some good lessons here. Conquerors throughout history have relied on “signs” from god(s) or “visions” to guide them in slaughtering and enslaving other peoples. The question is not whether people do follow what their hallucinations tell them to do, but whether or not this is a wise choice. Maybe your “good” voices will lead you down a shitty path, one that leads to harming others for your own “good”. History certainly provides examples of that kind of thing happening. Hell, even the Bible itself has the people of Israel hearing the voice of god telling them to invade and kill their neighbors. Is this an example of listening to the “good” voices or the “bad” voices? And is there any reliable way to distinguish between the two other than one makes you feel nice and the other makes you feel poopy?

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, in the winter of 1956, terrified by the fear of what might happen to him and his family during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said he heard the voice of Jesus promising, “I will be with you.” He went forward.

Voices may form part of human suffering. They also may inspire human greatness.

They’re also terrifyingly unreliable. For every Martin Luther King, there’s a King Xerxes.

The defenders of superstition often like to point to anecdotal evidence of some individual good thing resulting from some individual religious thing. But it’s pretty rare to see them try to make the case that religion can reliably produce such good things. Bearing in mind the old adage about broken clocks, it’s one thing to find a silver lining in a dark cloud, it’s quite another to find a cloud that consistently brings you silver.

Luhrmann is no different. She has a few anecdotes about MLK and Oliver Sacks, and some testimony from evangelicals that they felt all warm and fuzzy after hearing a voice and attributing it to Jesus, but she ignores the central equivocation in her thesis which completely undermines her point. Yes, it’s normal to hear voices on rare occasions; but no, it’s not normal to think these voices are god and then act on them. As she herself says, people are very hesitant to do this. Why? My guess is because the rational part of their brain says, “How do you know you can trust that voice?”

Does Luhrmann really want us to ignore what our rational mind says in favor of whatever voice pops into it? Is she seriously suggesting that humanity should become more reliant on vague, undefinable “voices” or “sensations” and ignore the more difficult (but more reliable) path of rational thought? If not, then what the hell is she saying? Yes, a voice in your head can lead you down the right path, but that doesn’t mean much. If there’s only a 1% chance of it being right, then it remains true that it can lead you to choose the right path. But if there’s another method with a higher probability of success, then why should you eschew it for the 1% chance? Other than the fact that lazy thinking like Occam’s Blinders is easier, I can’t think of a reason.

“Normal” doesn’t mean “right”, and the fact of the thing is not the same as the subjective interpretation of the fact of the thing. Yeah, voices in the head might not be all bad, but they tell us nothing about any gods, and I would recommend people put more thought into their actions before acting on what a voice in their head tells them. Don’t assume that just because it popped into your head and it feels “reassuring” that this makes it “good” and something you should act on. Things that feel good and reassuring in your mind can still be stupid and dangerous when actually acted upon.