To thine own self be true

Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Beyond parody?

Posted by Polonius on 10 August, 2007

There are a wide variety of religions in the world. Even within Christianity (the one I’m most familiar with), there are a range of denominations, and individuals within denominations. Some of these are essentially sensible people who accept that the world is broadly consistent with all the evidence we have before us, but also believe there’s more to life, the universe and everything, that there’s still something numinous going on. At the other extreme, there are the wing-nuts, the flat-earthers, the extremists.

Here in the UK, these loonies are not much to be seen, but the interweb is rife with evidence of their existence in the US. Answers in Genesis, with its $27 million Creation Museum, shows that they’re able and willing to throw stupid amounts of money at their denial of reality. That some otherwise sensible people, such as PZ Myers, feel they need to challenge these people at every turn only adds to their credibility. Conservapedia in particular (I refuse even to link to it), should never have been taken seriously.

At the most extreme, it becomes difficult to distinguish these loonies from parody. God Hates Fags has become notorious; surely these people can’t be serious? The much talked about Fox News interview suggests they are. Incidentally, here’s a tip for Fox News – she’s a crazy; your job as a journalist is to let us see how crazy she is; by talking over her, by flip schoolyard put-downs like “What’s the matter with you?”, you just show yourselves as assholes and distract from her craziness.

from time to time we get amusingly silly ideas like Christian mathematics, which probably is serious, but here’s another one that seems beyond the credible to me. Baptists for Brownback is part of the campaign for a no-hoper candidate in an election that (it may come as a surprise to some Americans) is a matter of supreme indifference to the overwhelming majority of the world. Before long, the few people who have heard of this Brownback (and I wasn’t one until today) will soon forget about him, but let’s not forget some of the absurdity that has been published in his name. Surely this is a joke to undermine his campaign?

Update: Yeah, it’s a joke – but hats off, it had me fooled.


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Posted by Polonius on 28 July, 2007

I find the popularity of the Abrahamic version of the creation myth in America quite depressing. But a Gallup poll reveals the inconsistency of people in responding to polls. 53% of people think that evolution is at least probably true, while 66% think that creationism is at least probably true. Even before we start taking account of those who had no opinion (which reduces the total who did have one below 100%), that means that 19% believe both evolution and creationism are probably true.

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Good writing

Posted by Polonius on 19 May, 2007

Here’s a couple of essays I’ve been reading. They have little in common except that they’re fairly well-written and seemed interesting to me.

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/05/rare_risk_and_o.html (including link to http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/nyt2.htm)

http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2007/05/back-to-dark-ages.html (via http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2007/05/if_the_description_of_the_begi.php)

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/Wrong.html (via http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=592616)

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Evolution – an analogy

Posted by Polonius on 1 January, 2007

I’ve been reading ScienceBlogs lately, and I continue to be struck by the differences in culture between the US and Britain. Here in Britain religion, particularly Christianity, is deeply entrenched in schools and the system of government, yet the creationist fringe is almost unheard of. Creationism puts the Alpha and Omega in cretinism.

Thinking about creationism, I was struck by the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle. In the fossil record, we have found a few pieces of the puzzle, and even fewer of them actually fit together, but they are all clearly pieces of the same puzzle. Creationists would have us believe that each piece was painted as an isolated work of art, that the pieces appear to be part of the same scene because a perverse creator wanted to taunt us with the idea that they might fit together, that they are oddly shaped for the same reason, and that some of them actually do fit together purely by coincidence. Why do they have such a low opinion of the creator?

Posted in Musings, Religion | 2 Comments »