SCIENCE, RELIGION, AND SOCIETY: THE PROBLEM OF EVOLUTION IN AMERICA

It’s been a while since I’ve been busy.  Hopefully I’ll have some more time to write he and out.  I have yet to read this paper, but it’s only 10 pages and published by Jerry Coyne.  The paper is titled: Evolution.  Guess what it’s about.  Here’s a link.  And yes, it’s free.  Go to his blog if that link fails or if you don’t read his blog regularly.  It’s among the best on these topics.  Here’s the abstract:

American resistance to accepting evolution is uniquely high among First World countries. This is due largely to the extreme religiosity of the United States, which is much higher than that of comparably advanced nations, and to the resistance of many religious people to the facts and supposed implications of evolution. The prevalence of religious belief in the United States suggests that outreach by scientists alone will not have a huge effect in increasing the acceptance of evolution, nor will the strategy of trying to convince the faithful that evolution is compatible with their religion. Because creationism is a symptom of religion, another strategy to promote evolution involves loosening the grip of faith on America. This is easier said than done, for recent sociological surveys show that religion is highly correlated with the dysfunctionality of a society, and various measures of societal health show that the United States is one of the most socially dysfunctional First World countries. Widespread acceptance of evolution in America, then, may have to await profound social change.

I’ll try to write later today.  Anyways, it’s 4am.  Oops.

“Family Values”

Ok, I think it’s time that we stop using the phrases “Christian values” or “southern values” or “family values.”  Or anything related.

Lets investigate to see what these phrases mean.  First of all, they are all used synonymously, so lets take “family values.”  Conservatives use this to exemplify that they like the family.  Or so they claim.  Now, who exactly doesn’t like a family?  Who wants it to be broken up?  I’m not sure.  What they really are saying is, that the are homophobic, racist, religious fanatics who force creationism and other religious dogma into other peoples lives.

Doesn’t forcing fanatical beliefs on others kind of seem, anti-family?  They are against same sex marriage–against allowing the creation of a “family”–unless it meets their narrow minded views.

Doesn’t talking about how much they hate children being born out of wedlock and that they are the cause of all of societies problems seem, kind of racist?  But there’s more.  They constantly try to increase this by being pro-life.  Oh wait!  They did it again, they have created an even worse scenario.  They now are trying to make birth control more expensive!  What would this accomplish?  Well, it would mean that less women have access to them and that there would be more babies being born to unwed mothers!  That is exactly what they are “against.”

So you see, not only are their “values” homophobic, they are also vehemently racist and sexist dogmatic beliefs.

Now, I think it’s time we stopped giving the republicans credit for “family values” or “southern values” or “religious values” or anything related.  Let’s call them what the are, values of a fucking douchebag, or values of a sexist asshole or values of lets fuck over our friends and lie about it.

You don’t need to be a republican to like the concept of a family.  In fact, it seems awfully hard to be a republican and like the concept of a family.

World Series–Armed Services Promoting Religion

I do realize that the World Series is not a government event.  But, for the National Anthem, they have a celebrity singing.  Every single time.  Demi Lovato, Zooey Deschanel, etc..  But when “God Bless America” is sung, it is always a person in the military.  Not only that, but, it is televised when normally, it is not.  (During the regular season.)

Now, I think it is clear that this is trying to instill religion in the military and to promote it to the audience.  Why can’t a celebrity sing this song?  The announcers also tell people to stand up and take their caps off.  This is not a national song, and there is no reason to respect it as such.  In fact, this should be offensive to Americans for treating other songs with equal “respect.”

By using the military to sing God Bless America, exclusively, it is clearly a way of putting God into the armed services and saying the armed services support this being projected on the crowd.

Time and time again, God is forced into our daily lives, when it is in fact, illegal to do so.  I find it annoying when I go to a baseball game and then they take the time to sing this idiotic song.  In fact, when I refuse to stand and “respect” (as much as you can “respect” a song)  everyone around stares.  I understand that this is a private event and that they have the right, but it is still forcing religion on others.  If you try to walk around and go to your seats, the person looking at the tickets will yell at you.  Yes, I have done this.  In this country we should be able to go to see “America’s Pastime” without having to endure religious indoctrination.

In fact, a quick Google search brings up this lawsuit, where it was settled and the person got kicked out of Yankees Stadium when he had to use the restroom.

Oh, and I guess it’s time to address the stupid use of prayer before, during, and after a game.  Ok, seriously, praying before a game?  Even if God existed (which it doesn’t) why would God care about a sports game when there are 925 million people in this world who are hungry?  Or when there are 9 million children under the age of 5 who die every year?  Yeah, seriously, praying after you get a hit, that’s being dumb, even by the standards of prayer.

Sarah Palin Not Running In 2012–(Silly Post)

As HuffPo reports,

Sarah Palin will not run for president in the next election cycle, according to multiple reports.

“After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president of the United States,” said Palin in a statement on her decision.” As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.”

Well, honestly, I didn’t really expect her to run.  Either way, I enjoy that she based her decision on prayer.  She also goes on to say that “my family always comes first…” but then goes on to say, “When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country.  My decision maintains this order.”  I think it’s a little confusing, is your family first, or is God?

Honestly putting a fairy-tale above your family and country is pretty outrageous, but it happens all the time.

Either way, I’m glad that God chose to be on my side this time and presumably, told Palin that she shouldn’t run.  Interesting that he chose to take sides with an atheist.  Hm, I wonder why….  Or maybe God wasn’t taking sides with an atheist, but instead, realized that the person who becomes president should at least have a decent IQ.  Hm, both of these seem plausible, so one must be true.  /sarcasm

Surprise! Evangelicals Love Premarital Sex Too!

As pointed out by Think Progress,

While the study’s primary report did not explore religion, some additional analysis focusing on sexual activity and religious identification yielded this result: 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex – slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.

Wow! 80 percent of evangelicals are automatically going to hell!  And they still believe this crap?  Hm, I think this would easily qualify as HYPOCRITICAL!  Am I mad that they are having sex before marriage?  No, in fact, I’m glad.  It’s healthy and there’s no reason to torture yourself by denying the opportunity to have fun.  But, the problem lies in the fact that they oppose sex education, birth control, and other contraceptives.  And no, abstinence-only “education” is not education.  But rather, indoctrination of dogmatic and foolish beliefs.

I guess this means that evangelicals really aren’t too afraid of going to hell or think that the concept of going to hell because they had sex before marriage is foolish.  Or maybe they think that the rules just, “don’t apply to them.”  I’m betting on the last one.

Furthermore,

As chief proponents of abstinence-only education, religious right-wing organizations insist that delaying sex until marriage “is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and out-of-wedlock pregnancy.”

This is not true!  What about parthenogenesis?  Their beloved “virgin birth.”  Oh wait, this is only documented in several animals that do not include humans.  And, only females can be born!  Ok, Ok, I kid the evangelicals, but still, you can contract an STI or STD without actually having sex.  For example, HIV can be transferred through a blood transfusion.  Yes, I do realize this is beside their “point.”  But the 100% statistic is still misleading.

Anyways, lets look at the evidence.

Health experts, however, note that evidence suggests such programs “are even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active.” Studies have not found that abstinence-only programs cut pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or even the age when sexual activity begins.

Without proper sexual education, sexually active young adults are more likely to have unintended pregnancies or contract STDs. Family planning health centers like Planned Parenthood, however, are dedicated to addressing these needs. Indeed, Planned Parenthood’s chief services are sexually transmitted diseases testing and treatment as well as contraception. These services help Planned Parenthood prevent “more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies each year.”

What!  Abstinence-only indoctrination doesn’t work!  Wow!  What a surprise!!!  Not.  That’s like telling a child not to ever play in the street and expecting them to abide by that 100%.  It’s rather silly, really.  But in fact, that is a bad example, because playing in the street can indeed be dangerous whereas sex, generally is safe assuming you don’t have low standards.  And even if you do, you would presumably be taking many other risks and sex would be one of the least concerns.

Planned Parenthood helps out many many women a year and only 3% of the services provided are abortions.  Planned Parenthood frequently helps out people with cancer screenings.  Is it really wise to take this away from the poor–those who need it most?  Is it humane?  No.  Planned Parenthood is a great organization that often helps out the less-fortunate or the non-fortunate.

This is just another unfortunate stance that the Religious-Right tries to force on the rest of America.  Not only is it terribly hypocritical, but it also suppresses woman’s rights, takes away from much needed health services for the poor, and indoctrinates the youth with religious dogma and abuses them with threats of going to hell.

This nonsense is derived from one source, religion.  In no way, does this “attack on sex” educate children.

EDIT: Just thinking about this, I would expect evangelicals to under-report premarital sex at a higher frequency than the general population since it is so heavily frowned upon in their circles.  So I would guess the already small gap of 8% is even smaller.

Choose Church or Jail

ThinkProgress notes of this new unconstitutional program in, Bay Minette, Alabama.  The program is called Operation Restore Our Community.  These are the details:

Operation Restore Our Community or “ROC”…begins next week. The city judge will either let misdemenor [sic] offenders work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church every Sunday for a year.

If offenders elect church, they’re allowed to pick the place of worship, but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender’s case will be dismissed.

It doesn’t take much brains to realize that this is unconstitutional.  And considering this is ordered by their city judge, it is obvious that he is just trying to promote religion.  According to the local news wkrg.com, this is what the Bay Minette Police Chief, Mike Rowland, had to say

it costs his department about 75 bucks per inmate per day. Rowland says the ROC program will be cost-effective and could change the lives of many people heading down the wrong path.

Rowland says the program is legal and doesn’t violate separation of church and state issues because it allows the offender to choose church or jail…and the church of their choice.

Rowland is blatantly lying.  And like the city judge–I could not find his name–he too is trying to promote a religious agenda.  How in hell is giving someone the option between church or jail a real choice?  Who is going to say, no I think I’d prefer to be locked up.  Yeah, that seems like fun.  I won’t see my family, I won’t have to work, I can’t go on vacation, I’ll make a bunch of new friends in jail.  Oh! I just can’t wait!

This is obviously unconstitutional and if the police chief thinks that this isn’t true, not only should he be fired, but his department should be investigated.

Furthermore, Reagan appointee to the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia, notes,

In his dissenting opinion in Lee v. Weisman, Scalia wrote that the state may not us the “threat of penalty” to “coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise.” Telling someone — even someone convicted of a crime — that they must participate in a religious service or go to jail clearly fails Justice Scalia’s test.

Yes, even Scalia would be against this fanatical program.

Think Progress adds that even conservative law Professor Eugene Volokh points out,

religiously compelled church attendance is so clearly and obviously unconstitutional, that the Mississippi Supreme Court held that a “judge’s decision to order people to attend church as a condition of bail is not just unconstitutional, but merits a 30-day suspension from the bench.” Again, this was in Mississippi.

Even Mississippi is against this.  Mississippi for crying out loud!  This state is in the heart of the bible-belt and it still says this program is unconstitutional!  A 30-day suspension to the judge should be given at the very minimum.  The judge obviously knows it is unconstitutional and intentionally ignores the law.

This is the problem with religion.  People are not able to keep it to themselves; they have to force it upon the rest of the world.  Whether it be divorce, abortion, sex education, contraceptives, family planning, child abuse, hatred toward homosexuals, or pushing a religious agenda in the public school system.  All of these are bad.  So called “moderate” religion is not benign either, it acts as a succor for hatred and violence.

Instead of this program, how about something that is helpful?  Say, attending school or going to therapy or how about public service?

Cats Praying… What The Fuck? Oh, And You Don’t Have Free Will.

Jerry Coyne pointed this nonsense out in which the author, Pamela Gerloff, Ed.D., at Psychology Today, claims that cats pray.  This is her evidence:

The other day, as I was dusting off a little glass shelf that had been my mother’s, I inadvertently bumped one of the tiny figurines on it–one of a set of blue and white china elephants she had once given me. The disturbance sent all the beloved creatures toppling. As I juggled to keep the whole shelf from falling, I felt a flash of frustration move through me; I might have been tempted to utter a censorable word, except that just at that instant my eyes caught Miss Kitty’s. Sitting motionless on the footstool next to me, her inward gaze shifted outward ever so slightly, just enough to neutrally observe my agitated state.

Instantly, the contrast in our inner experiences became palpable to me and I had a sudden insight. “Why, she’s praying,” I thought, as my mind fell into the calm oasis of her silent meditation.

Millions of cats throughout the world quietly doing their spiritual duty, emanating peace and contentment.

I see in no way how this is any evidence of praying.  Was a brain-scan performed to see look at which parts of the cats brain lit up?  Of course not.  And who the fuck should get funding for that idiot project in the first place?  Even the crackpot Templeton Foundation would not fund this lunacy.

Now, why would anyone think that a cat is capable of conscious though?  And more so, idolize a God in the same way humans would?  Can felines also read?  If they can’t how could they be praying to a God that humans pray to?  Oh, but you’ll claim next that they can understand English and must have overheard someone talking about Jesus/God.  Or maybe that they know innately that God exists.  Or how about that the receive transference from humans?  Yea, that makes sense too.  But in fact, it makes just as much sense as a cat praying.

Now, this begs the question of what other animals pray?  Well, obviously a praying mantis does.  Duh!  It’s in their fucking name!  Not only that, but the assume a praying position!!!  How could one not think that they are praying?  What are the chances that they would randomly obtain a position that is generally designated to prayer?  Yes!  They must be a religious insect!  Um, no!  They too cannot comprehend thoughts like humans can.  They too, like cats, don’t think.  They are instinctual.  They have reactions.  That’s how their brains function.  Neurons fire back and forth and cause an action to occur.

Now is the time for me to introduce the concept of “free will.”  This will surprise many people, but this concept is an illusion.  We do not make the choices that we think we make.  People often have a hard time understanding or comprehending this because is appears that we do have free will.  But, there are experiments that can test this notion.  What happens is that we hook someone up to take brain scans and then the person is told to make an choice on two arbitrary objects as soon as it comes to that person’s head.  We can actually “predict” the choice with high accuracy before the person “chooses” themselves.  This means that your unconscious is making the decisions.

Do you really think that you can control 100 billion neurons in your head firing back and forth?  Or take this experiment.  Think of someone in your head and say the first person who pops in.  Lets say you said Tom.  Why did you think of Tom and not Dan, or anyone else for that matter?  You did not “freely choose,” and thus, you can see that you do not, in fact, have free will.  Another test is to start talking in a conversation with someone.  Notice that you don’t know what the last word of the sentence is going to be.  But, somehow our brains do.  If they did not, we would constantly make grammatical errors and the sentences would rarely make any sense at all.  But we never do!  It really is incredible to think that our brains somehow know what our sentence will look like before we actually consciously know!

I know what you’re going to say, “you’re telling me that if i stand up and walk across the room, I did not choose to do so?”  Correct.  Let’s take the following as an example.  Most people don’t think that a dog has free will.  In fact, let’s use a mouse because that’s even more ridiculous to assume that a mouse has free will.  Then take two equivalent treats.  Next, place them two feet in front of the mouse and and let the mouse go.  The mouse will run (or walk if it’s a lazy fucker) toward one of the treats.  It looks like the mouse made a decision.  He didn’t.  His brain reacted in some way that made him go toward one treat over the other.  He did not consciously choose.  This is the same illusion that happens with humans when we think we consciously chose something.

Another thing that gets people on the whole notion of free will is that they will ask, “well, if you say I don’t have a choice in anything, then I should just not do anything since it will happen anyway.”  No, this is called fatalism.  This was more of a Calvinistic idea.  Lets say for instance that I did not write this blog post.  Will the blog post write itself?  Of course not.  You still have to do stuff.  Even if you try not to do something, your body will push you to do something.  Try sitting in bed all day.  Your body will make you want to go to the bathroom, talk to friends, go eat, go get up and walk around, etc..  Just because you don’t have free will does not mean that you can lie around all day.  Our actions are based on our genes and our environment.  That is how our brains work.  So enough of this fatalism nonsense and back to this cat prayer lady.

I have provided another quote that completely ignores facts.

She then went on to quote her mom in saying,

It was a musing-aloud about how maybe the world seemed to be in increasingly bad shape because there were fewer and fewer monks and nuns spending time in seclusion praying.

Really?  You think the world was better in the past?  Would you have liked to live in the 14th century while the Black Death took place?  Or how about during the Inquisitions?  Or the Crusades?  Was it a better world when gays were put to death?  How about the Salem Witch Trials?  Would you prefer to live then too?  Or the Civil War?  Was it a much better time period when slavery was all over?  Do you prefer when infanticides or genocides were horribly common?  Or how about before modern medicine when you could die of nearly any illness we consider minor today?  And when the life expectancy was cut in half of what it is now?  How about during the Partition of India in 1947 when millions were slaughtered?  Yes, these atrocities resulted from religious beliefs.  Science has made everything much more pleasant.  Religion has served to slow the progress of science and encourage hatred.  As Steven Weinberg famously said, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

If one takes only thirty seconds to think about like in the past versus life today, one would never choose to live in an earlier time period unless of course, they are terribly sadistic.  I encourage you to look at the history of violence in this world since you clearly overlook all of the evidence.  How about reading this book by Steven Pinker.

It’s really incredible to think that a cat would pray for you because you almost knocked over a table.  Why would a cat possibly care about you knocking over a table?  It’s incredible that you are even seriously suggesting this as a possibility.

Of course I do realize this is a joke, but it looks doubtful.