“If Atheists Ruled the World”

And now, a little bittersweet humor.

All the comments in this video are said to be taken verbatim from Christian fundamentalist online discussion boards. I tend to believe that this is true.  Most of it is actually about creationist attacks on evolution.

Ray Comfort’s appalling ignorance

Both P.Z. Myers and Larry Moran have commented on this but I want toget my own licks in. Ray Comfort (AKA Banana-Man) has squatted down and grunted out a fresh piece of “literature” attacking atheists (whatever) in which he also goes after evolution (which he mistakenly considers to be synonymous with atheism). Apparently his tripe isn’t selling as well as he thinks it should and so he gone on a whine-fest about how this is due to some sort of atheist conspiracy in a posting over at WorldNutDaily.

The article quotes him on one of his reasons for believing that evolution is an “unscientific fairytale”:

“I simply expose atheistic evolution for the unscientific fairy tale that it is, and I do it with common logic. I ask questions about where the female came from for each species. Every male dog, cat, horse , elephant, giraffe, fish and bird had to have coincidentally evolved with a female alongside it (over billions of years) with fully evolved compatible reproductive parts and a desire to mate, otherwise the species couldn’t keep going. Evolution has no explanation for the female for every species in creation,” he said.

Ye gods! Folks, this is a discussion stopper. It is beyond the pale. It is stupidity squared.  If you are someone who thinks that evolutionary theory requires that the origin of new species involves the separate, independent, origination of each sex of said new species, that this must happen each and every time a new species evolves, and further that this is to happen by coincidence, then you are far, far, too ignorant of the subject to even think about criticizing it.

Let me try and reformulate this in theological terms for anyone out there that might harbor some misguided sympathy for Mr. Comfort’s views.

Imagine if someone came into your church (to put it specifically in Christian terms) and said, with all seriousness, that they thought Christianity was a fairytale: “Because I can’t believe in this Jesus guy with his blue skin and eight arms. Nor can I accept his teaching that the only way to get to heaven was to die bravely in glorious combat.”

How seriously would you take such a persons critiques of the Christian faith?

Well that’s exactly how Comfort comes across to anyone with even a basic understanding of evolutionary theory when he utters nonsense like this. He either has absolutely no clue as to what he’s talking about, or he is deliberately misrepresenting things (lying) to score rhetorical points.

Either way he has disqualified himself from participation in any serious discussion of the subject (not that anyone was taking him seriously to begin with).

Wilkins on Darwin and race

John Wilkins, philosopher from down under, has written a nice blog post on Darwin and race, “Myth 7: Darwin thought that Australian aborigines were closer to apes than to Europeans“:

Actually, this one is better called “Darwin was a racist”, but as the text concerned is from the same source as those claims, I thought it might be easier to evaluate a single claim and generalise from that.

Our gospel for today is chapters V and VI of The Descent of Man, published in 1871.

If you read Darwin sloppily, or to find evidence that he really was a Very Bad Man for rhetorical – usually religious – purposes, you soon come across this statement. In fact, you can find paraphrases of it in literally hundreds of creationist documents and sites. Here is the offending passage, from towards the end of chapter VI of the Descent:

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla. [p201]

Many folk read this to be making the following claims:

1. It is right that civilised races should exterminate the savage races

2. It is right that the great apes (which Darwin calls “anthropomorphous” or “humanlike”) will be made extinct.

3. When this happens the gap between humans and apes will be wider because the intermediates, apes and negroes or Australian aborigines, will be gone.

Hence: Aborigines and negroes are more apelike than Caucasians.

Let’s look at a bit of context here. I do not propose to defend Darwin from his biases, but let’s be quite clear on what they are first (and note, if Darwin turned out to be a baby eating white supremacist, it no more makes evolution false than the fact that most baby eating white supremacists are Christians discredits Christianity).

Check out the rest over on Evolving Thoughts.

It’s Playing Chess with Pigeons 1st Birthday!

It was one year ago today (March 1st 2008) that I posted my first blog entry. Thank you to all my readers who have given this blog over 67,000 views so far.

I would also like to thank my friends and colleagues who have helped me with research and all those who were kind enough to link to my offerings. I’d like to think that it hasn’t been a bad first year and I hope to do even better in the next.

Once again thanks everyone!

Intelligent design creationism playing the racism card… again

Andrew Sibley, who I recently used as an example of the two faces of intelligent design creationism, has gone on another ‘Darwin was a racist/evolution leads to racism’, tear over on Uncommon Descent, basing his comments this time largely on an article (“What’s wrong with Darwinism?“) by another character by the name of Tony Campolo on a site called Christian Today. I was going to rip into Campolo’s piece given it contains outright falsehoods about Darwin, but my colleague Jason Rosenhouse has done an excellent job of doing so already over on Evolutionblog, so time saved.

However since Mr. Sibley has my attention once again I want to address his contribution to this steaming pile:

Campolo acknowledges that Darwin was a product of his time, and clearly Darwin did not invent racism with some of his relations for instance taking an interest in abolishing the slave trade. Darwin too in his early life questioned slavery, but what happened to lead him to embrace ideas where Africans and Aborigines were considered closer to apes than Caucasians? Instead, a plain reading of the Bible teaches that all mankind are related and are of common ancestry.

Darwin “questioned slavery”, “in his early life”, really? Well, now that we’ve had the ‘good facts‘ version let’s look at the actual facts.

Read on»