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These guys cannot really be that stupid.  Because they do not have the intellectual capability to find joy in discovery, they think other more intelligent people can't either?????

Creationist author Terry Mortenson doesn’t understand how an atheist like Bill Nye “the Science Guy” can find joy in scientific discoveries.

Following the debate between Nye and Creation Museum founder Ken Ham on Tuesday night, Mortenson sat down with Creation Today co-hosts Eric Hovind and Paul Taylor to discuss the event.

“I was kind of intrigued by one of Bill’s last comments about the joy of discovery, but I thought, what is the joy of realizing that I came from pond scum as a result of an explosion and that eventually I’m going to die and I won’t be here, I won’t remember that I ever lived, nobody else will ever remember,” Mortenson said. “What is the joy of that? It is purposeless, as Richard Dawkins and William Provine and others have said.”

“There is no purpose,” he continued. “There is no morality. All you have in evolution in is what is is. It’s the survival of the fittest and if I’m stronger than you and I’m a lion and you’re a gazelle, sorry, you’re my lunch. And if I’m Hitler and you’re a Jew, sorry, you’re lunch. And if I am outside the body and you’re in the mother’s womb, and I don’t want you, sorry, you’re lunch.”

“There is no basis of morality or purpose, and Bill is stealing from the Christian worldview to find joy in discovery when there is no purpose or meaning to it.”

During the debate, Nye said the process of science filled him with joy.

“I base my beliefs on the information and the process that we call science,” he explained. “It fills me with joy to make discoveries every day of things I’d never seen before. It fills me [with] joy to know that we can pursue these answers. It is a wonderful, astonishing thing to me that we are — you and I — are somehow at least one of the ways that the universe knows itself.”

Evolution(?) / Map Showing States Where They Choose to Keep Kids Dumb
« on: January 28, 2014, 07:03:47 PM »

A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students, Zack Kopplin recently reported in Slate. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs. As the map below illustrates, creationism in schools isn’t restricted to schoolhouses in remote villages where the separation of church and state is considered less sacred. If you live in any of these states, there’s a good chance your tax money is helping to convince some hapless students that evolution (the basis of all modern biological science, supported by everything we know about geology, genetics, paleontology, and other fields) is some sort of highly contested scientific hypothesis as credible as “God did it.”

Evolution(?) / Evolution not "JUST" a Theory
« on: January 28, 2014, 01:07:21 AM »

I thought that evolution was just a theory? I mean, that's why it's called the theory of evolution, right? Once they prove it, then it'll be a law.

The purpose of this site is to clear up this little misconception. Not the one you think I mean. Theories don't get proven and then become laws. That's the misconception that a lot of people have.

That can't be right. A theory is a guess or conjecture, isn't it?

That's how the word is used in general, yes. But in science, the word theory has a completely different meaning.

What does it mean then?

Simply, the word theory refers to the current explanation for some natural phenomenon. Not a guess as to how we think it works, but a scientifically tested and verified explanation.

So when does a theory become a law?

It doesn't. Theories encompass laws. A theory may provide an explanation for many laws.

But lots of people say that evolution is just a theory. Are they all wrong?

They are wrong in the sense that they are trying to argue that evolution is not real by exploiting the multiple meanings of the word theory. If they are supposed to be knowledgable in this area, then they are doing it deliberately and disingenuously. If they want to argue against evolution, they shouldn't have to resort to what is essentially an untruth.

Why should I believe you?

It's not a question of belief. I'm trying to explain that the word theory doesn't mean what some people think it means. You can look it up in any dictionary.

So has evolution been proven then?

The Theory of Evolution has over 150 years of actual, scientifically tested and verified supportive evidence. In science, things don't get proven, they get supported.

Why'd you make this site?

To try and help clear up the misconception of the meaning of the word theory, and the mistaken argument that claiming that "evolution is just a theory" is somehow valid.


Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, sat down with HuffPost Live at Davos on Saturday and discussed the intersection of faith and science.

"For me, somebody who is a 'show me the data' kind of scientist, but also a believer [in God], I don't see a discordance there," Collins said. "In fact it enriches my experience, each basically harmonized with the other. It gives you a view of life that is actually quite satisfying, and not in any way in conflict."

When comparing science and faith, Collins said each can be applied to answer different questions, and if you mix the two together you get conflict.

"It is certainly true in the United States that there is an uneasiness about certain aspects of science, particularly evolution, because it conflicts, in some people's minds, with their sense of how we all came to be," Collins said. "But you know, if you are a believer in God, it's hard to imagine that God would somehow put this incontrovertible evidence in front of us about our relationship to other living organisms and expect us to disbelieve it. I mean, that doesn't make sense at all. So as soon as you kind of get over the anxiety about the whole thing, it actually adds to your sense of awe about this amazing universe that we live in, it doesn't subtract from it at all."


Astrophysicist and celebrity science advocate Neil deGrasse Tyson recently, and at great length, discussed the importance of scientific literacy with Bill Moyers.
Moyers began by reminding viewers of a recent Gallup poll in which 46 percent of Americans espoused the belief that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.” Moreover, a Pew Research poll showed that two-thirds of evangelical Protestants, “the bedrock of the Republican Party, reject altogether the idea that humans have evolved.”
Belief in the theory of evolution rose among Democrats to 67 percent.
Neil deGrasse Tyson attempted to explain this partisan divide in scientific literacy by discussing the role of the democratic process in science education. Because what’s taught in classrooms is handled at the state level, many Americans are “born into” ignorance.
He says this is a “self-correcting” phenomenon, because “nobody wants to die. We all care about health. Republicans, especially, don’t want to die poor. So educated Republicans know the value of innovations in science and technology for the thriving of an economy and business industry.”
So, he believes, eventually even they won’t want to see something “that is not science in a science classroom,” because that “undermines the entire enterprise that was responsible for creating the wealth that we have come to take for granted in this country.”


In a paper posted on the arXiv pre-print server on Wednesday, physicist Stephen Hawking dashed the dreams of science fiction aficionados by declaring that black holes don’t exist.
Stephen Hawking claims that two of the properties most often identified with black holes — the singularity and the event horizon — don’t exist, at least not in the way that was previously thought. Therefore, black holes themselves can’t exist. At the moment, he hasn’t offered up a new name for the objects that look and act like the objects previously referred to as “black holes.”
In “Information preservation and weather forecasting for black holes,” Hawking argues that there is no event horizon, nor is there a singularity siphoning in all matter, light and information and destroying it. He claims that information about this material — which is communicated through “Hawking radiation” — would not be destroyed, merely reconfigured to such an extent that it would be impossible to reconstruct what the objects that fell into the hole originally were.

Physicist Don Page told Nature that it “would be worse than trying to reconstruct a book that you burned from its ashes,” which is why Hawking compared it to weather forecasting, which is possible in theory, but rarely accurate in practice.
The consequences of Hawking’s theory would be that information, however scrambled, could escape a black hole — and given that, according to Hawking, “there is no escape from a black hole in classical [quantum] theory,” that means that black holes as we know them cannot exist.

Hawking’s paper is an attempt to respond to what has been called “the firewall paradox,” an attempt to reconcile the relativistic physics of Einstein with quantum mechanics.

According to the theory of relativity, an astronaut passing through the event horizon of a black hole should observe the laws of physics behaving as they do in the rest of the universe, slowly feeling her feet being pulled more strongly than her head as she begins to undergo what physicists call “spaghettification.”

But a team led by theoretical physicist Joseph Polchinski demonstrated that according to the laws of quantum mechanics, an astronaut unlucky to dive into a black hole would slam into a highly energetic region of space they dubbed a “firewall,” which would instantly cause her to explode from the subatomic level up.
Hawking’s solution is that the laws of both general relativity and quantum mechanics still abide, but that the conception of the “event horizon” is mistaken: it simply doesn’t exist in a manner that would cause the astronaut to combust: “[t]he absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes — in the sense of regimes from which light can’t escape to infinity,” he writes.
In its place, he posits there is an “apparent horizon,” an area in which space-time fluctuates too wildly for a sharp boundary to exist, alleviating the need for either an event horizon or a firewall.

If this is true, however, it means that there is also no singularity at the core of the black hole. Gravity would pull matter and light into the black hole — and the more material it collected, the stronger that pull would be — but it would never truly be destroyed.

It would merely be incomprehensible, leaking out of the black hole via Hawking radiation, but as inadequate a means of understanding larger cosmic processes as a shifting breeze in upstate New York would be to predicting the 2056 hurricane season.

If you need more evidence as to why the Republican party is on the fast track to complete irrevellance on the national level other than the three states where they are attempting to make hatred, bigotry and discrimination a legal right, here is yet another sign of the stupidity within the party.

Missouri Republicans have drafted a bill that would allow parents to pull their children from science classes that are teaching the theory of evolution. According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), Missouri’s House Bill 1472 would effectively “eviscerate” the teaching of biology in the state.

NCSE’s deputy director Glenn Branch said, “House Bill 1472 would eviscerate the teaching of biology in Missouri.”

In a white paper written in 2008, Branch said, “Evolution inextricably pervades the biological sciences; it therefore pervades, or at any rate ought to pervade, biology education at the K–12 level. There simply is no alternative to learning about it; there is no substitute activity. A teacher who tries to present biology without mentioning evolution is like a director trying to produce Hamlet without casting the prince.”

HB 1472 is sponsored by Republican state Reps. Rick Brattin and Andy Koenig, who have authored pro-religion, anti-science legislation before, according to the NSCE.

The two conservatives have attempted to craft a number of bills that would order teachers in all public learning institutions — including colleges and junior colleges — to give “equal time” to the religious creationist theory of Intelligent Design. None of those measures have been successful.

Imagine how peaceful we could be if we got rid of religion all together.
Dr. Steven Pinker, Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard psychology professor, writes, “Today we may be living in the most peaceful era in our species’ existence.” He acknowledges: “In a century that began with 9/11, Iraq, and Darfur, the claim that we are living in an unusually peaceful time may strike you as somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene.” Pinker points out, wars make headlines, but there are fewer conflicts today, and wars don’t kill as many people as they did in the Middle Ages, for instance. Also, global rates of violent crime have plummeted in the last few decades. Pinker notes that the reason for these advances are complex but certainly the rise of education, and a growing willingness to put ourselves in the shoes of others has played its part.

Religiosity, however, continues to play its part in promoting in-group out-group thinking, which casts the difference between people in terms of eternal rewards and punishments. Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation, observes, “Faith inspires violence in two ways. First, people often kill other human beings because they believe the creator of the universe wants them to do it…Second, far greater numbers of people fall into conflict with one another because they define their moral community on the basis of their religious affiliation: Muslims side with Muslims, Protestants with Protestants, Catholics with Catholics.”

Evolution(?) / Gretchen Carlson mistakes atheists for Satanists
« on: January 07, 2014, 08:49:17 PM »

“So you don’t have a problem with that being up there,” Carlson pressed, before Rabbi Shumley Boteach interrupted.

“This is a democracy,” Boteach told Silverman. “How many people are Satanists versus believers in God?”

“This is a constitutional republic,” Silverman retorted. When Boteach accused him of not believing in democracy, Silverman shot back, “Do you know what a democracy is?”

“If modern atheism has been reduced to this level of intellectual debate, no wonder why atheism is receding,” Boteach said later.

“First of all, this is not atheism, this is Satanism,” Silverman responded, before Carlson cut him off.

Contrary to Boteach’s claim, however, Religion News Service reported in 2012 that the number of Americans identifying as atheists had increased from 1 percent to 5 percent, while the number of Americans who described themselves as “religious” dropped from 73 percent to 60 percent.

Evolution(?) / Bill Nye Fights the Good Fight Out of Patriotic Duty
« on: January 03, 2014, 01:14:10 AM »
Go get em Bill!

In recent years, Nye has undergone something of a career and image renaissance. He is the CEO of the Planetary Society, the world's largest nongovernmental space interest group. He has a YouTube series with NASA. He was on Dancing with the Stars this year, his highest profile foray into dance since he finished fourth at a Cornell talent show where he did a jitterbug routine choreographed to "Runaround Sue." He organized the "Save Our Science" campaign, which has pushed Congress and the White House to provide at least $1.5 billion annually for planetary science and exploration.

"He's been instrumental in helping advance some of the president's key initiatives to make sure we can out-educate, out-innovate, and out-compete the world," an Obama administration official tells me. "The president lights up when he sees Bill," another official says. (That's not to say Nye is never at odds with the president; in early December, he issued an open letter on YouTube to Obama asking him ensure more funding for planetary exploration—something that has endured some rough budgetary hits during the Obama years.)

But of his new endeavors, he's likely best known for his politically tinged, no-bullshit talk about science education in America. Over the past few years, he's gained wide attention on social media, the lecture circuit, and television (he's appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Live and HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, among others) for countering creationist drivel, conservative politicians' claims, and climate change denial.

"I fight this fight out of patriotism," Nye says.

"We have a problem," he continues. "We can't have economic growth without basic investment in science and research. And we can't have irresponsible school board members in Texas teaching that the earth is 10,000 years old. We can't have us embracing scientific illiteracy."

Off-Topic / Hallelujah Cover
« on: November 28, 2013, 12:20:50 AM »
Well done.  I have always love Cohen's Original but this is good.


Late last week, the Texas Board of Education failed to approve a leading high school biology textbook—whose authors include the Roman Catholic biologist Kenneth Miller of Brown University—because of its treatment of evolution. According to The New York Times, critiques from a textbook reviewer identified as a "Darwin Skeptic" were a principal cause.

Yet even as creationists keep trying to undermine modern science, modern science is beginning to explain creationism scientifically. And it looks like evolution—the scientifically uncontested explanation for the diversity and interrelatedness of life on Earth, emphatically including human life—will be a major part of the story. Our brains are a stunning product of evolution; and yet ironically, they may naturally pre-dispose us against its acceptance.
Biological Essentialism. First, we seem to have a deep tendency to think about biology in a way that is "essentialist"—in other words, assuming that each separate kind of animal species has a fundamental, unique nature that unites all members of that species, and that is inviolate. Fish have gills, birds have wings, fish make more fish, birds make more birds, and that's how it all works. Essentialist thinking has been demonstrated in young children. "Little kids as young as my 2 and a half year old granddaughter are quite clear that puppies don't have ponies for mommies and daddies," explains McCauley.

If essentialism is a default style of thinking, as much research suggests, then that puts evolution at a major disadvantage. Charles Darwin and his many scientific disciples have shown that essentialism is just plain wrong: Given enough time, biological kinds are not fixed but actually change. Species are connected through intermediate types to other species—and all are ultimately related to one another.
Teleological Thinking. Essentialism is just one basic cognitive trait, observed in young children, that seems to hinder evolutionary thinking. Another is "teleology," or the tendency to ascribe purposes to things and objects so as to assume they exist to serve some goal.

Recent research suggests that 4 and 5 year old children are highly teleological in their thinking, tending to opine, for instance, that clouds are "for raining" and that the purpose of lions is "to go in the zoo." The same tendency has been observed in 7 and 8 year olds who, when asked why "prehistoric rocks are pointy," offered answers like "so that animals could scratch on them when they got itchy" and "so that animals wouldn't sit on them and smash them."
Overactive Agency Detection. But how do you know the designer is "God"? That too may be the result of a default brain setting.

Another trait, closely related to teleological thinking, is our tendency to treat any number of inanimate objects as if they have minds and intentions. Examples of faulty agency detection, explains University of British Columbia origins of religion scholar Ara Norenzayan, range from seeing "faces in the clouds" to "getting really angry at your computer when it starts to malfunction." People engage in such "anthropomorphizing" all the time; it seems to come naturally. And it's a short step to religion: "When people anthropomorphize gods, they are inferring mental states," says Norenzayan.
Dualism. Yet another apparent feature of our cognitive architecture is the tendency to think that minds (or the "self" and the "soul") are somehow separate from brains. Once again, this inclination has been found in young children, suggesting that it emerges early in human development. "Preschool children will claim that the brain is responsible for some aspects of mental life, typically those involving deliberative mental work, such as solving math problems," write Yale psychologists Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg. "But preschoolers will also claim that the brain is not involved in a host of other activities, such as pretending to be a kangaroo, loving one's brother, or brushing one's teeth."

Dualistic thinking is closely related to belief in phenomena like spirits and ghosts. But in a recent study, it was also the cognitive factor most strongly associated with believing in God. As for evolutionary science? Dualism is pretty clearly implicated in resistance to the idea that human beings could have developed from purely natural processes—for if they did, how could there ever be a soul or self beyond the body, to say nothing of an afterlife?
Inability to Comprehend Vast Time Scales. According to Norenzayan, there's one more basic cognitive factor that prevents us from easily understanding evolution. Evolution occurred due to the accumulation of many small changes over vast time periods—which means that it is unlike anything we've experienced. So even thinking about it isn't very easy. "The only way you can appreciate the process of evolution is in an abstract way," says Norenzayan. "Over millions of years, small changes accumulate, but it's not intuitive. There's nothing in our brain that says that's true. We have to override our incredulity."
Group Morality and Tribalism. All of these cognitive factors seem to make evolution hard to grasp, even as they render religion (or creationist ideas) simpler and more natural to us. But beyond these cognitive factors, there are also emotional reasons why a lot of people don't want to believe in evolution. When we see resistance to its teaching, after all, it is usually because a religious community fears that this body of science will undermine a belief system—in the US, usually fundamentalist Christianity—deemed to serve as the foundation for shared values and understanding. In other words, evolution is resisted because it is perceived as a threat to the group.

So how appropriate that one current scientific theory about religion is that it exists (and, maybe, that it evolved) to bind groups together and keep them cohesive. In his recent book The Righteous Mind, moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that religions provide a shared set of beliefs and practices that, in effect, serve as social glue. "Gods and religions," writes Haidt, "are group-level adaptations for producing cohesiveness and trust." The upside is unity; the downside, Haidt continues, is "groupishness, tribalism, and nationalism."
Fear and the Need for Certainty. Finally, there appears to be something about fear and doubt that impels religiosity and dispels acceptance of evolution. "People seem to take more comfort from a stance that says, someone designed the world with good intentions, instead of that the world is just an intention-less, random place," says Norenzayan. "This is especially true when we feel a sense of threat, or a feeling of not being in control."
In any event, the evidence is clear that both our cognitive architecture, and also our emotional dispositions, make it difficult or unnatural for many people to accept evolution. "Natural selection is like quantum physics...we might intellectually grasp it, with considerable effort, but it will never feel right to us," writes the Yale psychologist Paul Bloom. Often, people express surprise that in an age so suffused with science, science causes so much angst and resistance.

Perhaps more surprising would be if it didn't.

Evolution(?) / Texas Textbook Publishers Say No To Creationism
« on: November 20, 2013, 05:57:54 AM »

It appears that science is prevailing in the latest battle over Texas schoolbooks.
Though earlier this year several of the state’s textbook reviewers called for biology textbooks to discuss creationism, publishers are not complying with those requests, according to the Texas Freedom Network. The nonpartisan watchdog examined material made public by the Texas Education Agency and found that publishers are sticking with teaching evolution.

Citizens who serve on the Texas review panels are charged with making suggestions about proposed classroom texts that are being considered for the state's list of “approved” schoolbooks. While most reviewers on this year’s biology panel made routine, noncontroversial suggestions, some took issue with the fact that the proposed books did not include information about creationism while focusing on evolution.

However, information that publishers submitted to the Texas Education Agency show they are not incorporating the suggestions about "creation science" and plan to print books free of references to the theory of intelligent design.

Off-Topic / Doing Science Is In Our DNA
« on: November 18, 2013, 10:05:25 PM »

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