The Problem with Faith

Why do I get so upset when people believe in something like ID? Faith is important in many peoples' lives, so why can't we just live and let live? This is a question that was recently asked by a friend of mine who is generally smarter than I am. It's been bothering me for a while now, so I feel I have to get out an answer.

Let me try to explain the problem I have with faith. Faith is belief without proof. Religions teach people from an early age that faith is a virtue and doubting is a sin. This is one of my biggest issues with religion. Faith is NOT a virtue. Blind belief should not be something that people respect. I understand that faith in some things makes sense, but faith in and of itself is not a good thing. Respecting faith because it's faith is akin to tolerating intolerance.

Faith is what empowers suicide bombers. Faith is what keeps stem cell research from its potential. Faith is what encourages people with AIDS to not use contraception. And in any of those three previous statements I could have used a different word: Ignorance.

If there were a god and He were truly wise and just, I find it impossible to believe he would not reward intelligent skepticism more than blind faith. On the subject of ID, this same friend said that many rational people believe in ID to some extent. If there really are plenty of rational people who believe in ID, then there really are only two explanations. The first is that they don't really know what ID is. I explained previously that it is creationism re-branded. I was not exaggerating. If they know that and still believe it then they might as well believe the world is flat because I don't know how to talk someone out of that much crazy. The second explanation is that they believe in a creator of some sort that had a hand in designing us. A belief in god is not something I'm going to attack in this post, but denial of evolution is just ignorant. I see the options as a few categories.

1. The person believes in creationism. The earth is only a few thousand years old, etc.
2. The person believes that there is a god or designer who designed all that exists. The person denies evolution for the most part or totally.
3. The person believes there is a god or designer who may have had a hand in evolution. The person does not deny evolution, but thinks god helps it along with some greater purpose (humans ... or perhaps bananas).
4. The person believes evolution has happened without the need of any divine intervention.

I believe anyone in the 1 and 2 category is severely deluded. The rational people my friend spoke of must be those of group 3. I think that those in this category suffer from a earth-is-the-center-of-the-universe complex and a lack of education in genetics and evolution, but certainly these people are rational and just a few books and perhaps a bonk on the head will land them in category 4. Basically, if you deny evolution in favor of a biblical explanation, you are not rational.



An Interview with Dawkins

This is a pretty good interview that covers some important points. The questioner is kind of a douche who clearly hasn't read anything by Dawkins, but he's polite enough to let the man talk. Enjoy!
Part 1:

Part 2:


Merry Christmas

And for your viewing pleasure... Cosmos

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Peace out.


You've got to be kidding me

This is one of the most disturbing things I've ever seen in politics. Words fail me.


A Concise Annihilation of Intelligent Design

Let me explain to those who aren't quite solid on this topic. It's very simple. Evolution is science and Intelligent Design is not. I think it is really important for everyone to understand this, because there are a lot of very powerful and rich people making a lot of noise in the name of ID and Creationism right now. In fact, an ID propaganda film starring Ben Stein is coming out early next year. Click here for a rather scathing pre-screening review. Anyway, on with the annihilation.

1. Intelligent Design is Creationism. You know: Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, man and dinosaur living together. That's all there is to it. It isn't some new theory spawned by scientists with some top secret evidence proving wrong evolution. It is Creationism re-branded. The Dover trial, in December 2005, included some remarkable revelations about the book intended for use in the teaching of ID. Upon investigation of the previous versions of the manuscripts for this book, the prosecution discovered that the earliest versions, until 1987, looked a lot like creationist books. So they wrote a script counting the number of times the words "creation" "creationist" etc appeared vs the number of times words like "designer" or "intelligent design" appeared. The results were a remarkable 1:1 trade off in 1987 switching from all creationist to all ID. Why 1987? Because that is exactly when the Edwards vs Aguillard trial resulted in making it illegal to teach Creationism in schools. For a much better retelling of the story of this trial and how badly the Dover school board lost, click here.

2. Evolution is not random. The most common arguments against evolution by ID proponents go along these lines: "xyz is so complicated, it couldn't have evolved by random chance." And that's true! Evolution is not random! It is the process of natural selection. Whether that is through sexual selection, a slight advantage over a predator, a slight advantage over prey, better resistance to disease, or just genetic drift caused by any number of things, it is not random. Now lets take an example of a made up creature, the burbox. If a burbox has a child who is slightly more attractive than other burboxes, lets say through a brighter purple horn, it may get the chance to mate more than the competition. Over time (many generations) it's possible that almost all burboxes will have developed a brighter purple horn. Now many may say, "but that is random! What are the chances that a burbox would evolve the more attractive purple horn!?" But this is the wrong question! Think of it this way. If you have 100 random letters, the chances that a given letter is 'A' is 1 in 26. Okay, so what are the chances that in that sequence, you'll spell the word 'CAT'. Pretty low, right? Actually extremely low. What about the word "ELEPHANT"? Impossibly low. But again, this is the wrong question. Instead we should be asking, what are the chances that in those 100 letters, a word will be spelled? While the particular observed mutation has a low probability, a mutation actually has quite a high probability. If this is interesting to you, read some Richard Dawkins.

3. Stop saying things are irreducibly complex! This is the central argument of ID and it is related to the previous one claiming things are too complicated to happen randomly. This argument says that certain things that have evolved, like the human eyeball, are so complex that they could not have evolved. There are a few major problems with this. First of all, if you think this is true, you probably haven't done any research, and you probably have no imagination. Just because it seems impossible to you, does not mean it is impossible. The eye, in particular, has a well documented evolutionary path. And science doesn't pretend to have all the answers. Things are constantly being discovered and theories reworked. The most unbelievable thing about this argument is not just that they think these things are too complex to have evolved, but that they then jump to the conclusion that they must have been designed by someone! Now if that doesn't strike you as a logical fallacy, just ask yourself, "who designed the designer?" If you say, "no one, he is God!" then well, I think you just proved me right that ID is not science. This argument can be summed up like this (ill use the Eye example. Notice the logical fallacy even if their assumption was true.):

X is true [the eye exists]
(bad) Assumption:
Y does not imply X [evolution did not bring about the eye]
Z implies X [a designer must have done it!]

Whaa?! Where did Z come from?! I guess one of their assumptions must have been that Z is true [there is a God .. oops, i mean designer], but even with that as GIVEN, it does not logically lead to their conclusion. Can we finally move on here people? It is so ridiculous that this stuff is still a topic of conversation and people are trying to get it into the schools.

Please educate your friends and family. If you sit quietly while your friends believe this bullshit, you are part of the problem.


Embarrassed to be American

Evangelical Christians in America are constantly reaching new lows. This video is so ridiculous that to any rational person it would be comedy if they didn't know its true intentions. For those who don't want to watch or aren't link-click happy like I am, it's about a letter written from a kid named Josh who is going to hell (after his death) to his Christian friend Zach. Zach didn't tell Josh about Jesus and because of that Josh is going to hell. It's meant to guilt trip Christians into telling everyone they ever meet about Jesus and to scare those who don't believe into the heaven-hell ultimatum. This kind of propaganda really makes me sick.

And a teacher in North Dakota had the audacity to show this video to her health class. It appears a Jewish student in the class has a parent or two in a law firm. Oops!

Choice comments on the video on GodTube:


Thanks, asshole. Try the capslock button. And what exactly is JUST about punishing one man for another's lack of action?

it scared me at first to watch it.....than i relized tht i need to reach out to my lost friendz

I'm sick beyond the ability to create a PG response.

Just in case any (both?) of my readers think that this kind of unapologetic mindless evangelicalism is a rare thing, I think I must remind you that you are living in a dream. Just because the big cities on the West coast seem to be relatively lacking in the crazy department, doesn't account for the rest of the population, particularly the South.

I can't recommend enough this documentary [trailer here]. I really think everyone should watch it as soon as possible. It will shock you how things really are in America. I mean the comical creationist museum, which depicts man and dinosaur living together, had 250,000 visitors in 5 months!

Sane people, no matter their religion, should be appalled at this state of affairs and lack of rationality.


Today's cool stuff

First, imagine the tenth dimension. This is a very cool flash video about dimensions 1-10, and while it isn't the accepted way that string theorists think of the dimensions, it is still quite interesting and thought provoking. Link.

Monkeys are cool. Some chimps beat a bunch of college students in a memory test. I highly recomend that you watch the two videos in this article. The second one in particular blew me away. The chimp memorizes 10 numbers way faster than I could. Link.

A duck billed dinosaur was discovered with soft tissue in tact! This is huge and could change a lot about what people know about dinosaurs. Link.