Things they would have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XXX

14 02 2009

The week in fundie:

  1. For starters, given that it was Darwin Day only a couple of days ago, here’s the idiot quote of the week from Australian Bishop Tom Frame:

    The problem I face is weariness with science-based dialogue partners like Richard Dawkins. It surprises me he is not chided for his innate scientific conservatism and metaphysical complacency. He won’t take his depiction of Darwinism to logical conclusions. A dedicated Darwinian would welcome imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, euthanasia, forced sterilisations and infanticide. Publicly, he advocates none of them. (Brisbane Times)

  2. In Irasburg, Vermont, a public school is being sued by two families after it was claimed that a schoolteacher proselytised in class, bought religious (including creationist) literature with school funds for dissemination in the classroom, and punished students who complained. (Times Argus)
  3. OMGTEHHOMOSEXUALAGENDACONTROLSTELEVISION!!!!!!!!!!!! World Net Daily shrieks hysterically about teh radical homosexual agenda to control your TV sets and convert your children to gay homosexuals. “Note” “their” “over-use” “of” “scare-quotes” “around” “the” “word” “gay,” “as” “if” “gays” “don’t” “really” “exist”—“even” “though” “they’ve” “just” “spent” “the” “whole” “article” “whining” “paranoiacally” “about” “them.” “Morons.”
  4. Meanwhile, in Australia, loving Christians are up in arms at the Victorian Police Commissioner’s plans to march in the Pride Festival. Article writer Peter Stokes, of Christian group Salt Shakers, quotes Peter Stokes, of Christian group Salt Shakers: “The normalisation of homosexuality by these people is a disgrace!” (Christianity Today)
  5. There have been more than 50 murders of suspected “witches” in Papua New Guinea over recent months, according to Times Online. One woman was burnt alive on a pyre of rubber tyres. Another woman escaped death when she began to give birth while hanging from a tree.
  6. In the Indian state of Bihar, eight members of a poor family were shot and beheaded after a family member married a wealthy girl. (UPI)
  7. Also in India, Hindu extremists who recently stormed a bar, dragging out women and beating them, have warned that they will attack anyone they catch celebrating Valentine’s Day. (Telegraph)
  8. Journalist Laurie Lebo takes a look at anti-Darwinism as a “peculiar American institution.” (Religion Dispatches)

In which various media outlets and bloggers prove that Dawkins

30 10 2008

makes for a very convenient strawman.

Dawkins responds: Read the rest of this entry »

Was I dodging a bullet, or being dismissive?

12 08 2008

Here’s the scenario. I was travelling on a subway carriage in Japan with a group of friends, one of whom iwas soon to return to Australia, another of whom is a (I presume) born-again Christian. For weeks I had been raving about Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, boring my girlfriend to tears with a panoply of zoological “Did you knows” (e.g. did you know that the cicada produces its distinctive and loud song not by the rubbing together of wings/limbs that is associated with crickets and grasshoppers, but by buckling parts of its thorax as one would an aluminium can?). It was my girlfriend who dropped The Ancestor’s Tale into the conversation. “What’s it about?” asked a member of our group. “It’s about evolution,” she replied.

This elicited a roll of the eyes and a derisive “Oh, evolution,” from my Christian friend, at which point I panicked, and immediately changed the subject. My intentions were honourable: we had gathered together that night to have a good time and to give the girl returning to Australia a good send-off. I didn’t want the occasion soured by a religious debate, nor did I want my Christian friend to feel uncomfortable.

In hindsight, however, I wonder how my intervention must have seemed to her. Would she have appreciated what I was trying to do, or would she have felt as if I was simply dismissing her views, patronisingly attempting to rescue the night from her embarrassing Christian otherness? (She’s not the stereotypical born-again Christian: she’ll cuss and drink with the best of us, and doesn’t seem comfortable being “out” about her beliefs around her secular friends. Indeed, I wasn’t aware of her religious affiliation until I came across her blog.)

Or, did I perhaps miss an opportunity to take one for the team, as it were, by engaging her in frank debate and discussion on the topic of evolution? Would this in fact have been the more respectful thing to do?

Spend Gerry Rzeppa’s Money

9 05 2008

As I blogged last month, Gerry Rzeppa wants to pay Richard Dawkins a shitload of money for the privilege of proselytising to him. Rzeppa is offering Dawkins

$64 000 of my very own money if he will join me before a live audience to answer a single question about my little poem. I’ll read the story aloud and pose the mystery query. He’ll answer and walk away with the loot. Simple as that.

There are very good reasons to be skeptical about whether it is possible to collect on these “challenges,” given the likelihood that goalposts are greased up and ready to shift at a moment’s notice. As for whether Dawkins himself will ever take up Rzeppa’s challenge, you do have to bear in mind that he’s been lied to by Christians before. And let us not be sucking each others’ jagons here: who doesn’t look at a “challenge” like this and think to themselves that the author might as well have written, in the subject line of the mass-email, “CONGRATULATIONS!! RICHARD DAWKINS MIGHT ALREADY HAVE WON $64,000!!!”

Still, Rzeppa assures us that his gauntlet is being thrown down in good faith:

My offer to Dr. Dawkins is essentially a speaking fee. ANY response he cares to give to my question at the public event — even “No comment” — will be acceptable and will result in his collecting the $64,000.

Which causes me to wonder. Richard Dawkins is doubtless a wealthy man by now. If Rzeppa has a small fortune that he’s willing to just give away, can’t he find a more worthwhile use for it than to deliver to a man who probably doesn’t need $64,000 to begin with? That kind of money could go a long way in one of the 63 villages devastated in the Burmese district of Labutta last weekend. It could help deliver sanitation, hygiene education and safe water in Africa and elsewhere in the Third World. Wouldn’t something along these lines be a more productive investment than the opportunity to preach to Richard Dawkins? That’s all I’m saying, and I don’t care if you’re Gerry Rzeppa or David Coube Larry. As long as you’re prepared to give away tidy sums of your cold hard cash, there have to be more worthy causes out there than preaching in public to celebrity atheists.

So here’s my challenge to my readers. Suggest a more worthwhile use for Gerry Rzeppa’s money.

Counter-apologetic pwnage par excellence

20 02 2008

At Richard Dawkins’ site, Paula Kirby offers a lengthy but absolutely devastating critique of four anti-Dawkins books–Alister McGrath’s The Dawkins Delusion?, John Cornwell’s Darwin’s Angel: An Angelic Riposte to The God Delusion, Andrew Wilson’s Deluded by Dawkins? A Christian Response to The God Delusion, and David Robertson’s The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths–focusing most of her attention on the last of these, which she finds the best of the four, though that is certainly no compliment to Robertson.

As Kirby’s review demonstrates, all four books are chock-full of the same canards, fallacies, unsubstantiated assertions and other varieties of woolly thinking (to say nothing of blatant misrepresentations of The God Delusion) that many of us experience in countless exchanges with apologists–the one about how since Stalin and Hitler were atheists (arguable in the extreme in Hitler’s case), atheism leads to Stalinism/Nazism, & c. & c. being a particular favourite. Kirby’s reaming of Robertson (who apparently trolls the discussion fora at Dawkins’ site) is so thoroughgoing that it serves as an eminently useful primer in counterapologetics. So much so that it has earnt itself a permanent slot on my sidebar. Read the rest of this entry »

Sunday afternoon at the YouTubes

13 01 2008

Richard Dawkins on The Late Edition with Marcus Brigstoke

Read the rest of this entry »