Saturday, February 7, 2009

200 Years of Darwin on NPR

This link is to NPR's Science Friday on evolution and the 200 year anniversary of Darwin's Birthday and the 150 year anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. It features an interview with Matthew Chapman, Darwin's great-great grandson.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lee Strobel's "The Case for a Creator" review and commentary

An acquaintance at work lent me a book to read that supports his religious and creationist viewpoint. Since I’ve always found the religious worldview puzzling; I am going to read it hoping that there is a grain of truth and honesty, especially after listening to people like Kent Hovind and Harun Yahya with their blatantly dishonest tactics and contentions.

The book is Lee Strobel’s “The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward a God.” My plan is to do one post per chapter, as time permits.

Chapter 1: White-coated Scientists versus Black-robed Preachers

The first chapter was an anecdote about an incident in the 1970’s concerning Christians in West Virginia that were acting violently in reaction to school books that they felt were “anti-Christian” and “un-American.” Strobel actually does seem to have a fair grasp of the science oriented atheist’s position although he is consistently expressing it in a way that would inflame the emotion of true believer. An example of his seeming grasp of the position can be found in paragraphs such as this one.

“Didn’t he know that evolution is a proven fact? Didn’t he realize that in an age of science and technology that it’s simply irrational to believe the ancient myths about god creating the world and shaping human beings in his own image? Did he really want his children clinging desperately to religious pap that is so clearly disproved by cosmology, astronomy, zoology, comparative anatomy, geology, paleontology, biology, genetics and anthropology?”

His primary tactic to illicit an emotional response from true believers is the arguments of his interviewees that took place in West Virginia and his use of the term Darwinism rather than evolution. I believe that these interviews will set the tone for the rest of the book. The bottom line of them is that they believe, not because on evidence or credibility but because they do not like the implications of their religion being false. An excellent example can be found almost immediately on page 11 where an interviewee says…

“If Darwin is right, we’re just sophisticated monkeys. The bible is wrong. There is no god and without god there is no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go. The basis for all we believe is destroyed. And that is why this country is headed to hell in a handbasket.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My Surprising Favorite of the Auto Show

As I've already mentioned, I spent a portion of my weekend at the auto show. There were some awesome cars, there and a surprising number of fuel efficient autos. I already own an Accord hybrid and a Mazdaspeed MX-5 but am always on the lookout for my next automotive toy. A car that I was particularly attracted to was an aggressive looking black, 2010, Chevy Camaro V-6. While I haven't seen any acceleration numbers, this V-6 does not appear to be a slouch with 300 hp at tap. More impressive than this, however, is its 27 mpg highway rating. This is comparable to my turbocharged miata.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Proselytization on the run

I went to the auto show this weekend, as I do every year. I happen to live close to the train and decided to travel by the metro rather than by car. It takes about a half hour to get from my stop to downtown and during the trip a fundamentalist christian must have taken note of me and another guy who was sitting across the aisle because he quickly stood up and handed us a small booklet, saying "can I give this to you" and quickly darting out of the train. He jetted so quickly that he almost hit one of the doors. I'm not sure why the haste, maybe he was afraid he'd get stuck with us.

The booklet was a generic booklet with the address of a local church on its back. It brought one phrase to mind, god-fearing. This booklet is the essence of what is wrong with Christianity.

It has it all; blaming the victim, stressing blind belief and threats, lots of threats.

Here are a couple of examples:

Can you see the major contradiction? God loves you but if you don't toe the line you'll burn for eternity.

Let's begin with the assumption that there is a god and it is the Christian god. Where does love fit with a creature that would create such beauties as a worm that has to survive by burrowing into a human's eyeball and feasting on their optic nerve? Or how about a creature that would create a being with curiosity and logic only to punish said being for using these attributes. There are many more examples, way too many to list. No matter what, these are not examples that one would expect in a world created by a watching and loving being.