This is basically to provide a forum for discussion about origins of morals away from my post Does religion threaten human rights? I think it is obscene to hold that abstract discussion around a post describing violation of human rights and associated restrictions of freedom of expression. It’s like observers being sidetracked into these abstract discussion while they stand around watching a women being stoned for ‘adultery’ or a person being murdered for apostasy.
So some unrehearsed and initial thoughts on the subject – what is the source of our morals?
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, Bible, Christianity, Darwin, evolution, faith, human rights, religion, science, slavery, supernatural, superstition, terrorism, theology, tradition
Tagged ethics, morals
I am responding here to some comments on my post about science bashing and its discussion in other blogs (here, here & here). I think there are two aspects worth covering:
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, brights, Christianity, creationism, Darwin, evolution, Expelled, faith, intelligent design, religion, science, supernatural, superstition, tradition
Tagged inference, science bashing
This has been doing the rounds of the discussion forums and is really worthy of much more exposure. Original at A recapitulation of criticism against the theory of childhood:
Posted in belief, Bible, Christianity, creationism, evolution, Expelled, faith, god, intelligent design, religion, science
Tagged humour, parody, theory of childhood
It worries me that as we approach the 60th anniversary of the the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the world seems to be facing a new threat to freedom of expression. This freedom is basic in democratic societies. It’s also vital to exposing, and overcoming, violations of human rights throughout the world.
I have commented before about attempts by some international Islamic organisations to restrict freedom of expression when it comes to issues involving violation of human rights in Islamic countries. This has extended to preventing criticism of religion in UN organisations. Other religions have extended a degree of support for this position internationally, and within some European countries.
Posted in Christianity, human rights, interfaith, Islam, Jewish, politics, religion, supernatural, superstition, terrorism, tradition, Uncategorized
Tagged Amman, censorship, Danish cartoons, defamation of religions, Denmark, Fitna, Geert Wilder, Holland, Human Rights Council, Jordan, Muhummad, United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The science bashing film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed will soon be out on DVD (October 21st). So we will see a new phase in the intelligent design political campaign – getting the anti-science message directly into the schools and churches.
The Discovery Institute Center for Science & Culture is currently leading this campaign. A email from its director Robert Crowther (subject title Help Us Get Lawmakers Expelled) reveals two targets for the campaign: “key policy makers, opinion makers and leaders throughout the” USA and churches and schools, including “church or school bookstores.”
Discovery Institute is appealling for donations to “underwrite the cost of sending the DVD to these individuals.”
Expelled never made it to New Zealand theatres. However, I am sure there will be an effort to sell and distribute the DVD here and to organise screenings in church basements. There may even be efforts to get the DVD into some schools (as has been done by by Focus on the Family with other creationist material – see Christians challenge teaching of evolution).
Christian News New Zealand wasted no time kicking off the New Zealand campaign by excitedly posting the Discovery Institute email within minutes of its distribution.
Posted in belief, creationism, Darwin, evolution, Expelled, intelligent design, New Zealand, religion, science, supernatural, superstition
Tagged Focus on the family
Scientific research is a very creative and personally satisfying process. However, researchers often find that the inevitable specialisation and concentration on limited aspects of reality can lead to a lack of understanding and appreciation of discoveries in other fields.
Since retirement I’ve appreciated the opportunity to read more widely. I find myself returning to subjects I haven’t considered for decades, or have neglected. I’m learning about the amazing discoveries humanity has made (behind my back) in the meantime.
I was encouraged to check out, and summarise, what I have been reading by the reading lists blogged by Damian and others. The number of books I have got through (in four years) shocked me – perhaps I’m a bit obsessive, or maybe its just the freedom retirement has given me.
I can recommend most books on the list – but definitely not every one (guess which).
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, Behe, belief, book review, Christianity, creationism, culture, Darwin, Dawkins, Dennett, diversity, evolution, faith, god, Harris, intelligent design, Krauss, religion, science, Shermer
Tagged Atkins, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Barbara Forrest, Begley, Behe, Blakeslee, Books, Brian Greene, Brockman, Brookmyre, Carrol, Dacey, Doidge, Ellerbe, Goleman, Goodenough, Gould, Gross, Hitchens, Jared Diamond, Kandel, Lawrence Wright, Matt Ridley, Mayr, Miller, Norris, Ofray, Pascal Boyer, Peter Ward, Petto, reading list, Rees, retirement, Ridley, Sacks, Sagan, Smolin, Sobel, Stenger, Tyson, Wallace, Wilson, Wolpert, Zimmer
Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic.
A couple of comments on a previous post attempted to discredit evolutionary science by claiming that “evolution is a ‘religion’ that demands huge amounts of faith“ and “evolution demands far more faith than I possess.”
Well, a recent satirical article* at The Onion gives an idea of what evolutionary science would be like if this were true (see Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain). It has a stream of “devoted evolutionists” witnessing “what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton.”
Since witnesses first reported the unexplained marking—which appears to resemble a 19th-century male figure with a high forehead and large beard—this normally quiet town has become a hotbed of biological zealotry. Thousands of pilgrims from as far away as Berkeley’s paleoanthropology department have flocked to the site to lay wreaths of flowers, light devotional candles, read aloud from Darwin’s works, and otherwise pay homage to the mysterious blue-green stain.
Capitalizing on the influx of empirical believers, street vendors have sprung up across Dayton, selling evolutionary relics and artwork to the thousands of pilgrims waiting to catch a glimpse of the image. Available for sale are everything from small wooden shards alleged to be fragments of the “One True Beagle”—the research vessel on which Darwin made his legendary voyage to the Galapagos Islands—to lecture notes purportedly touched by English evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace.
However, this ‘religion’ and the wall stain has its detractors:
“It’s a stain on a wall, and nothing more,” said the Rev. Clement McCoy, a professor at Oral Roberts University and prominent opponent of evolutionary theory. “Anything else is the delusional fantasy of a fanatical evolutionist mindset that sees only what it wishes to see in the hopes of validating a baseless, illogical belief system. I only hope these heretics see the error of their ways before our Most Powerful God smites them all in His vengeance.”
This is hilarious as a satire – but it would be sickening if it were true.
Then again, some people seem to be happy to belong to religions or world views which behave in exactly this way.
* Thanks to The Sensuous Curmudgeon.
Posted in belief, Christianity, creationism, Darwin, evolution, faith, intelligent design, religion, science, superstition
Tagged humour, miracle
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN starts up next Wednesday. I have been meaning to post about this but think this video below gives a better outline than I could. (I’m all in favour of using novel and popular methods to communicate science). The rapper is Katherine McAlpine (known as alpinekat). She has a day job as a science writer.
Large Hadron Rap
LHC gets its own rap song Scientific American news.
Let the Proton Smashing Begin. (The Rap Is Already Written.) New York Times article.
Time Lapse video of ATLAS experiment assembly
LHC First Beam Photos
CERN Podcast – Dr. Brian Cox takes guests around the LHC discussing its construction and what discoveries are expected.
Guardian News and comment on the world’s most ambitious scientific experiment: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European laboratory for particle physics near Geneva.
Beautiful photographs of the LHC at the Big Picture.
Lecture on the LHC by Robert Orr, John Ellis – European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Live Webcast of LHC first beam on 10 September.
I have just finished reading Ken Miller’s new book Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul. Some intelligent design proponents reacted angrily to the publication of this book a few months ago (see Holy war!). Have a look at how upset Bill Dembski was in his Uncommon Descent post Theistic Evolutionists Close Ranks — Let the Bloodletting Begin! But I didn’t find anything in Miller’s book about theistic evolution.
First, let me say that Only a Theory is an excellent book. Ken Miller is a cell biologist well known for his biology text books and for his very effective role in defending evolutionary science against intelligent design (ID)/creationist attacks. He was an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Kitzmiller v. Dover (2004-05) trial in Pennsylvania, USA which found attempts by the Dover School board to introduce ID in science classes illegal. Miller is also a devout Catholic and author of the book Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. His writing is just as clear and enthusiastic as his lectures are.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, Christianity, creationism, Darwin, Dembski, evolution, intelligent design, religion, science, theology
Tagged Ken Miller, Kenneth Miller, theistic evolution
Whenever I get God-botherers knocking on my door these days I try to treat the exercise as a learning one. That is, I quickly divert the discussion to questions that interest me. Like – what is the attitude of your church towards parliamentary prayers or tax exemption for the advancement of supernatural beliefs?
A while back I asked a Jehovah’s Witness door-knocker where his church stood in the evolution-creationism debate. I did this because I had become aware that while 75% of New Zealanders accept evolutionary science about 40% of New Zealand Christians still prefer to believe in creationism. So I was genuinely interested.
I was not surprised to find out that his church does support creationism. But I was surprised by how difficult it was to get an answer from him. He spent 10 minutes attempting to avoid or divert the question. Like: “that is an American controversy and we don’t interfere in American affairs.”
Posted in belief, Christianity, creationism, Darwin, evolution, intelligent design, religion, science, supernatural, superstition
Tagged Add new tag, Darwin Lectures, Museum