The Great Evolution Debate Notes

This blog post is a quick look inside Host Chris Hanna’s mind as he prepped for the debate. I thought this would be good for those who want to read what went into our side of the debate. 

Don’t forget to check out the episode right here!

Listen to the episode right here!

Opening statement (10 mins)
Things to ask in rebuttal to Aaron’s opening
His definition of evolution: 

Science and fine tuning

Looking from the wrong direction: if you start at the solution (the theist way) then it’s amazing that life is so perfectly

Why the universe exists

Science explain morality

Science brainwashing

Evolutionists can’t explain the origin of life

Abiogenesis is not evolution

Big bang is not evolution

Preagers big bangs bull

Says we have never seen evolution

Evolutionism would be moraless and we should be animals

Evolution is not destiny, it is not fate.

-Evolution is neither moral nor immoral. It just is, and we make of it what we will. I have tried to show that two things we can make of it are that it’s simple and it’s marvelous.

Second law of Thermodynamics… Inaccurate use

Stalin and evolutionists and immorality

Immorality and murder abroad…

Why is the final size of a whale indicative of problems for its growth and for evolution.

Camel look down a giraffe and heart problem (mixed species?)

Beaver with wearable teeth?

Birds that work together to survive?

Upright tree confirms a global flood?
Chris Hanna’s Opening
So it goes… Some of you might recognize that phrasing from the late great Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5” as the allegorical end to life. Evolution is a dead theory; a claim professed wantonly, casually, and without refrain or source as our visitor told us in his last debate with Chris. Often, as Darwin so eloquently said:
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
So it goes indeed, as you have no doubt just heard; the goalposts have already been moved, the sharp and heartless lines of science cast aside for philosophical demand for absolutes. I am not here to offer you, our dear listener, any form of salvation, guarantee, or forever quiet your questioning mind. In fact I am here to do the opposite, the depth and brevity of the theory of evolution is the culmination of human kind’s short period of genuine investigative time on this earth.
From the undeniable fossil record, to the predictability of Darwin’s initial hypotheses, to the modification of evolution by gene sequencing known as neo-Darwinism, to the current Modern Evolutionary Synthesis, employing fossil transitions in palaeontology, and complex cellular mechanisms in developmental biology, and to the future in a proposed extended evolutionary synthesis, which would account for the effects of non-genetic inheritance modes, such as epigenetics, parental effects, ecological and cultural inheritance, and evolvability.
Yes, for those of you who do not know, and possibly for my opponent here, the basic foundation of Jean-Baptiste Lamarckian Inheritance, also known as soft evolution, that was given mechanical validity through Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and other notable publications, has acted as the underlying structure for further progress of the laws and predictions made by evolution resulting in the tools used by all modern biology.  
In every case of small or large modification to the theory of evolution, incorrect assumptions were replaced by verifiable, testable, and repeatable experimental data; all of this growth has further cemented its validity elevating the scientific consensus to that of fact.
The argument is as follows: the theory of gravity, the spherical earth, heliocentricity, the germ theory of disease, and the theory of relativity are all so empirically valid that even small changes are unlikely. Of course science is a probabilistic creature making absolutes all but impossible; still the likelihood of information calling into question the inherent truth to any of these foundational structures of modern science, including evolution, are so remote that the scientific community has in turn given its verdict, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are true. You really don’t think the recent spate of NBA stars professing a flat earth will really change anything do you?
So, let us first establish the skeleton before we attempt to populate the evolutionary creature with a functioning muscular system. The modern theory of evolution is as follows: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species— perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection. There are six basic tenets that make up the theory evolution, gradualism, speciation, common ancestry, natural selection, and nonselective mechanisms of evolutionary change.
The first is the idea of evolution itself. This simply means that a species undergoes genetic change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on changes in the DNA, which originate as mutations.

The second part of evolutionary theory is the idea of gradualism. It takes many generations to produce a substantial evolutionary change, such as the evolution of birds from reptiles.

The Third, that of splitting, or, more accurately, speciation.

speciation simply means the evolution of different groups that can’t interbreed — that is, groups that can’t exchange genes.

species don’t have to split. 

circumstances allow populations to evolve enough differences that they are no longer able to interbreed. 

The vast majority of species — more than 99 percent of them — go extinct without leaving any descendants.

we all share fundamental traits. Among these are the 

biochemical pathways that we use to produce energy, 

our standard four-letter DNA code, 

how that code is read and translated into proteins. 

The fourth, common ancestry; we can always look back in time, using either DNA sequences or fossils, and find descendants joining at their ancestors.

By sequencing the DNA of various species and measuring how similar these sequences are, we can reconstruct their evolutionary relationships.

This is the point where the second tier of evolution was added as mentioned earlier.

The fifth part of evolutionary theory is natural selection. 

explains apparent design in nature by a purely materialistic process that doesn’t require creation or guidance by supernatural forces.

Over time, the population will gradually become more and more suited to its environment as helpful mutations arise and spread through the population, while deleterious ones are weeded out. …It requires only that individuals of a species vary genetically in their ability to survive and reproduce in their environment.

Evolution is like an is not a master architect but more like a tinkerer who cannot design a building from scratch, but must build every new structure by adapting a preexisting building, keeping the structure habitable all the while. (13)

So natural selection does not yield perfection — only improvements over what came before. It produces fitter, not the fittest.

Richard Dawkins provided the most concise definition of natural selection: it is “the nonrandom survival of random variants.” 

The sixth processes other than natural selection can cause evolutionary change.

epigenetics, the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off

DNA from humans is made up of approximately 3 billion nucleotide bases. There are four fundamental types of bases that comprise DNA – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, commonly abbreviated as A, C, G, and T, respectively.

The sequence, or the order, of the bases is what determines our life instructions. Interestingly enough, our DNA sequence is mostly similar to that of a chimpanzee.

Within the 3 billion bases, there are about 20,000+ genes. Genes are specific sequences of bases that provide instructions on how to make important proteins – complex molecules that trigger various biological actions to carry out life functions.

parental effects a situation where the phenotype of an organism is determined not only by the environment it experiences and its genotype, but also by the environment and genotype of its mother 

ecological and cultural inheritance, the process in which an organism alters its own (or other species’) environment, often but not always in a manner that increases its chances of survival

Evolvability the capacity of a system for adaptive evolution. Evolvability is the ability of a population of organisms to not merely generate genetic diversity, but to generate adaptive genetic diversity, and thereby evolve through natural selection
Whew, take a breath, the theory of evolution is quite vast, complex, and highly driven by experts at the very extent of human knowledge and understanding. Experts, I remind you, that while aggressively critical of each other’s work since they derive status and prestige from disproving proposed theorems and papers, are in almost uniform consensus on the validity of evolution.
So what now? Evidence you say? Oh damn right my good little budding scientists. Finishing out this segment will be cases of transitional fossils, evolutionary adaptations and the mechanisms where genuine evolution has been seen in the lab, and finally realtime, in the lifetime of one human, speciation that has has occurred will show up in the Q and A segments
While we may speculate about the details, the existence of transitional fossils—and the evolution of birds from reptiles—is fact. Fossils like Archaeopteryx and its later relatives show a mixture of birdlike and early reptilian traits, and they occur at the right time in the fossil record. Scientists predicted that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, and, sure enough, we find theropod dinosaurs with feathers. We see a progression in time from early theropods having thin, filamentous body coverings to later ones with distinct feathers, probably adept gliders. What we see in bird evolution is the refashioning of old features (forelimbs with fingers and thin filaments on the skin) into new ones (fingerless wings and feathers)—just as evolutionary theory predicts.

Australopithecus afarensis, or Lucy, is a personal favorite of mine, dating back 3.2 million years. She was between twenty and thirty years old, three and a half feet tall, weighing a scant sixty pounds, and possibly afflicted with arthritis. But most important, she walked on two legs. In a bipedally walking primate like ourselves, the femurs angle in toward each other from the hips so that the center of gravity stays in one place while walking, allowing an efficient fore-and-aft bipedal stride. In knucklewalking apes, the femurs are slightly splayed out, making them bowlegged. When they try to walk upright, they waddle awkwardly. If the femurs angle toward the middle, it’s bipedal. And Lucy’s angle in—at almost the same angle as that of modern humans. She walked upright. Her pelvis too resembles that of modern humans far more than that of modern chimps. Her head was distinctly ape like with a torso that appears a mixture of the two, and with a lower section that is almost identical to modern humans.
Human transitional fossils 20 species from over 6000 individual skeletons: 

Sahelanthropus tchadensis, 

Orrorin tugenensis, 

Ardipithecus kadabba, 

Ardipithecus ramidus, 

Australopithecus anamensis,  

Kenyanthropus platyops, 

Australopithecus afarensis, 

Australopithecus garhi, 

Paranthropus aethiopicus, 

Australopithecus africanus, 

Homo rudolfensis, 

Australopithecus sediba, 

Homo habilis,

Paranthropus robustus, 

Paranthropus boisei, 

Homo heidelbergensis, 

Homo erectus, 

Homo floresiensis, 

Homo neanderthalensis, 

Homo sapiens
5 min rebuttals each.

3 min Break

7 min Aaron Questions Time

7 min Chris Question Time
Please take a moment to explain the existence of useless and often detrimental vestigial features

the recurrence of pelvic and leg bones in whales and snakes,

the wings of flightless birds, 

the human Coccyx, 

the human appendix, 

wisdom teeth that have to be surgically removed, 

the human plica semilunaris which is like the nictitating membrane, or third eyelid, of other animals, and much more.

Now explain Atavisms, or the recurrence of ancestral traits in some not all like vestigial traits.

human embryonic processes where human embryos move through almost identical phases of mimicry of a fish embryo then amphibian, reptile, mammal, primate, and finally human? 

a combination of a tail, fishlike gill arches, and a fishlike circulatory system doesn’t seem necessary for a human embryo? | …The probable answer — and it’s a good one — involves recognizing that as one species evolves into another, the descendant inherits the developmental program of its ancestor: that is all the genes that form ancestral structures

Also some human babies have been born with a coccygeal projection which is, you guessed it, a tail

Some whales have wholly developed legs projecting from their vestigial hips, and horses often have two extra toes mimicking their fossilized ancestors? 

Dont forget Lanugo, its the full coat of hair that covers a human fetus’ body and is usually shed but sometimes mommy and daddy get a hairy baby.

Please explain the difference between Micro and Macro evolution and why one is possible but not the other.

Where is the line specifically

What about Ring Species? The Greenish Warbler of northern India migrated northeast and northwest around mountains that acted as a geographic barrier, the two northern forms viridanus and plumbeitarsus are highly distinct genetically, when the two expanding fronts met in central Siberia, they were different enough that they do not interbreed.

http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~irwin/greenishwarblers.html 

What about the new species of plants that we have directly seen evolve in the wild through polyploidy and allopolyploidy, synthesized in the lab to verify

How does the polyploid species form in the first place? We needn’t go into the messy details here except to say that it involves the formation of a hybrid between the two parental species followed by a series of steps in which those hybrids produce rare pollen or eggs carrying double sets of chromosomes (these are called unreduced gametes). Fusion of these gametes produces a polyploid individual in only two generations. And all of these steps have been documented in both the greenhouse and in nature.

Because of this, you might have thought that such speciation would be very rare indeed. But it isn’t. Given that a single plant can produce millions of eggs and pollen grains, an improbable event eventually becomes probable.

This new allopolyploid has since radiated into five separate, morphologically diverse species: G. mustelinum, G. darwinii, G. barbadense, G. tomentosum, and the most important global supplier of agriculturally used cotton fiber G. hirsutm

5 min Aaron Question Time

5 min Chris Question Time
Noah’s evolution party consisted of of 1,877,920 species or 3,755,840 individual animals on the ark, we need only six more pairs of each species of bird to make it come out to seven pairs. That brings our count up to a grand total of 3,858,920 animals aboard the ark—two of each species, except birds which number fourteen each.

This equates to 187 new species a year for the conservative estimate of 10,000 year old earth and 313 if the earth is only 6,000 years old.

Where are all these species and how did they get to their current locations of equilibrium now?

Where are their fossilized trails of tears, as they most certainly would have been when considering a penguin walking down Mount Ararat and heading for ice…

Do vaccines and medicine work?

Vaccinations and Medicine resistance are major issues for the future of humankind, why are some no longer as effective as they used to be?

Another prime example of selection is resistance to penicillin. When it was introduced in the early 1940s, penicillin was a miracle drug against Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”). 

In 1941, the drug could wipe out every strain of staph in the world. Now, seventy years later, more than 95 percent of staph strains are resistant to penicillin. 

After mutations made Staph stronger the drug industry came up with a new antibiotic, methicillin, but even that is now becoming useless due to newer mutations. 

In both cases, scientists have identified the precise changes in the bacterial DNA that conferred drug resistance. 

Viruses, the smallest form of evolvable life, have also evolved resistance to antiviral drugs, most notably AZT (azidothymidine), designed to prevent the HIV virus from replicating in an infected body. 

Now we keep AIDS at bay with a daily three-drug cocktail, and if history is any guide, this too will eventually stop working. The evolution of resistance creates an arms race between humans and microorganisms

But fortunately there are some spectacular cases of microorganisms that haven’t succeeded in evolving resistance. (

We must remember that the theory of evolution doesn’t predict that everything will evolve: if the right mutations can’t or don’t arise, evolution won’t happen.) 

Streptococcus, for example, causes “strep throat, ” a common infection in children. These bacteria have failed to evolve even the slightest resistance to penicillin, which remains the treatment of choice. 

unlike the influenza virus, polio and measles viruses have not evolved resistance to the vaccines that have now been used for over fifty years.
3 min break

10 min Audience Questions

6 min closing arguments -whoever is making the positive claim goes first

The modern theory of evolution is as follows: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species— perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection.  
In an exhausted conclusion I defer to you dear listener, to the evidence given tonight and included in the links of my notes available immediately after this live show is concluded, to the simplicity of evolution compared to the alarmist fears that scientific materialism will invade our humanity like the hollywood robot revolution perversions of logic against the unpredictable emotional human obsolescence. Evolution is simply a theory about the process and patterns of life’s diversification, not a grand philosophical scheme about the meaning of life. it can’t tell us what to do, or how we should behave, or what we should believe in.. And this is the big problem for many believers, who want to find in the story of our origins a reason for our existence, and a sense of how to behave. 

If you can’t think of an observation that could disprove a theory, that theory simply isn’t scientific and this is a major failing for ID and Creationism in general as the presuppositions simply assert infallible ultimatums from the onset. While the heart of “materialism” or “naturalism” suggests that, evolution is true. And, any transcendent or metaphysical explanation that imposes itself upon the scientific and natural world are de facto discounted as irrelevant and absurd. However, conversely, transcendence and metaphysics are thus free from the imposition of scientific inquiry and invalidation. Hence my allusions to the segregation from belief and evolution including its acceptance throughout the progressive segment of the theistic population.
What we have seen here is well formed argumentative skills and a general formation of a worldview that is threatened, they believe, by the last universal common ancestor and the theory of evolution. But the genuine dog and cat ignorance of species and evoleitionFortunately as I just said he is rapidly becoming a minority as the largest christian faiths are evolving to survive. Once again:
Evolution is neither moral nor immoral. It just is, and we make of it what we will. I have tried to show that two things we can make of it are that it’s simple and it’s marvelous.
But there is something even more wondrous. We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be.

Sources

Review and Notes from Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

https://vialogue.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/why-evolution-is-true-notes-review/

file:///C:/Users/Chris/Downloads/why-evolution-is-true-jerry-a-coyne.pdf

Nature article about Polyploids, Allopolyploids, and heredity including new synthesized species

http://www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v110/n2/full/hdy201279a.html 

More Polyploidy

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/for-plants-polyploidy-is-not-a-four-letter-word/ 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyploid#Allopolyploidy

Noah’s ridiculous story

https://ncse.com/cej/4/1/impossible-voyage-noahs-ark

Human fossil ancestry database

http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils 

Shrinking Iguanas

https://asknature.org/strategy/body-shrinks-under-harsh-conditions/

Sea horses

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090522-seahorses-stand-up.html

#17: DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God”

Listen Here: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/17-debate-presup

This week is a first us here at Cellar Door Skeptics, a formal debate on the topic “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God?” Chris Hanna will be taking the moderator position in an effort to quell the fire and the flames between his co-host Christopher Tanner and our guest, Aaron Furlong. Aaron will be taking the positive with a strong background in presuppositional Christian apologetics and Christopher will be representing the skeptics and atheists who believe there simply just isn’t enough evidence.

Check out the link below for both of the presenters bios along with the rules for the debate.

Segments
——
00:00 Debate Introductions / Rules
05:21 Aaron’s Introduction
13:06 Christopher’s Introduction
21:00 Aaron Questions and Christopher Answers
37:58 Christopher Questions and Aaron Answers
54:11 Aaron’s Monologue Rebuttal
58:57 Christopher’s Monologue Rebuttal
65:00 Back and Forth with Christopher and Aaron
83:22 Audience Questions for Christopher and Aaron
113:30 Aaron’s Closing Statement
118:40 Christopher’s Closing Statement

Episode: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics/17-debate-presup
Subscribe: http://www.spreaker.com/user/cellardoorskeptics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CellarDoorSkeptics
RSS Feed: https://www.spreaker.com/user/8326690/episodes/feed
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/cellar-door-skeptics/id1044088575?mt=2&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
Website: http://cellardoorskeptics.com

Bios: http://wp.me/p6yn1U-1Yp

Links
——
Aaron Furlong
http://proofthatgodexists.org
——
Christopher Tanner
http://www.justinsweh.com/#!debatespresentations/cemp

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2013/08/14/andrews-vs-schieber-2/
http://treesearch.org/debate/summary-giunta-schieber-debate-2014
http://www.apologetics315.com/2013/08/john-frame-interview-transcript.html#more
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Presuppositionalism
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Begging_the_question
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evoscales_01
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01

DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God” Bios

DEBATE “Is There Sufficient Evidence For The Christian God” Bios

We wanted to do a post that both the Bios and the debate rules in it.  This is the post.  Our goal is to present the most information about our guests and allow for anyone reading this and listening to the show to be able to connect with the debaters.  At Cellar Door Skeptics we strive to present a well rounded and fair debate along with the information needed to give everyone the knowledge we hope they gain from it.  If you follow the episode link to spreaker or to the main podcast blog, you will find all the links both debaters provided that will allow you to follow the information where ever it may lead.

Debater #1: Aaron Furlong (Christian)

12637374_10208312403067664_657775170_oAaron Furlong is 32 years old and currently works and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was born and raised in Florida and still visits his family there often. He was raised in a Christian home but spent many years running from God and he feels very blessed to have the love of Christ in his heart again. He is very close with his father who is an elder of a Presbyterian church in Florida, as well as his mother who is a great Christian encouragement to him. He is also close with his older brother and is the proud uncle of one niece. He studies Christian Philosophers and Theologians such as CS Lewis, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. John Lennox, and Dr. RC Sproul. However his passion is Presuppositional apologetic. He has been most influenced by the works of Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Sye Ten Bruggencate, and Pastor Jeff Durbin. He’s appeared on atheist podcasts in the past but this is his first formal debate.

I work as a Client Relationship Manager for a payment processing company and travel all over the country to build and maintain partnerships that are profitable for his company. I have moved to a different part of the valley seven times in seven years and haven’t found a Church to call home in North Scottsdale. However, I visit three different churches including Apologia Church where I’ve studied under Pastor Jeff Durbin. This is my first formal debate but did appear on Tanners previous show, Atheist Analysis, four different times where the topics varied from gay marriage, to evolution, all the way to Christianity’s influence on western culture.

Contact: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.furlong.716

Debater #2: Christopher Tanner (Agnostic Atheist / Secular Humanist)Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 3.54.00 PM

Christopher Tanner is a host and co founder of Cellar Door Skeptics.  He currently works in Kentwood Michigan and is 32 years old. He was born in Ohio and spent his formative childhood in Toledo Ohio. He was raised in a conservative Christian home. His father was the deacon of a baptist church while both his parents were youth group leaders. Christopher attended a non denominational Christian school from 1st through 9th grade. Christopher’s parents moved to Grand Rapids Michigan when he was 15 where he became active in the local baptist church. At the age of 18 he had a crisis of faith with his local church and became an independent denomination. For the next 10 years he spent his time researching different faiths and religions along with alternate denominations.

After long searching, Christopher discovered he saw little evidence that pointed to a God and no evidence to point to a Christian God. Christopher has spent the last 4 years as an out agnostic atheist doing research on theological philosophy and Socratic methods. He has worked for Dogma Debate, Atheist Analysis, Center for Inquiry Michigan, Heretical Minds, Jenison 4 Love, Small Town Allies and lgbtq, Decriminalize Gr, Grillin with Atheists, and now Cellar Door Skeptics. His passion is help to raise awareness over religious beliefs by adding a voice to the conversation that will engage and listen to the opposition while developing conversations that will push the boundaries of the Christian vs atheist debate. He is a feminist, secular humanist, lgtbq ally,  and advocate of separation of church and state. His fist priority is his family and in his free time his pursuit of knowledge.

Contact: cellardoorskeptics@gmail.com

Debate Time Frames

Introduction: 8 Minutes Aaron

Introduction: 8 Minutes Christopher

Cross Examination: 15 Minutes Aaron Asking Questions

Cross Examination: 15 Minutes Christopher Asking Questions

Rebuttal: 5 Minute Aaron

Rebuttal: 5 Minute Christopher

Joint Cross Examination: Christopher and Aaron ask each other questions with a moderator.

Audience Question and Answer: 15 Minutes Lead by Moderator with Questions for Both Christopher and Aaron

Conclusions: 5 Minutes Aaron

Conclusions: 5 Minutes Christopher

Morris on my Mind, and Not the Saved by the Bell One…

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

A weekend of collecting, sorting and cleaning Ordovician-Period marine fossils from the Arbuckle Mountains has got me thinking once again about one of the strangest beliefs held by fundamentalist Christians: that about 4,400 or so years ago, the deity who had created the universe a couple of millennia earlier got all pissed off and wiped out almost everything in a global flood. I suppose that would have been a good enough belief for someone living in the Middle Ages, but its prestige has been completely undercut by the science of geology, beginning with its birth in the late 17th century. By around the middle of the 19th century, the only people who still took the Noahic Flood seriously were circuit-riding evangelists and the crowds of superstitious, snake-handling bumpkins who followed them. In most cases, their backwardness can clearly be attributed to the lack of general education.

 

During the second half of the 19th century, public education began to rectify some of the illiteracy and ignorance that had characterized the frontier population at large; this program went into full swing after the Civil War and the U.S. gradually began to show signs of a more general secular awakening. That awakening looked frightening to many people (not least to the preachers whose incomes were thereby threatened), and it was out of that fear that fundamentalism was born late in that century.

 

Unlike the frontier revivalism that characterized much of the U.S. earlier in the 19th century, fundamentalism was in some respects a self-consciously “modern” movement. It was born out of a psychological conflict: the wish to enjoy the fruits of modernity (making necessary a kind of lip-service to the sciences that made those benisons possible) while swearing allegiance to the literal truth of the Bible – one of the strangest notions that’s ever been hatched by the unquiet mind of man. Since the findings of science were obviously at odds with biblical cosmology and history, fundamentalists were at pains to debunk those findings.
Continue reading “Morris on my Mind, and Not the Saved by the Bell One…”

The Ark Encounter: One Man’s Dedication to Ignorance and Lies

Ken Ham and his followers remind me a lot of the Mormons. In general terms, they have a fair amount of similar traits: non-violent, blissfully happy, respect freedom of speech, and each group actively works hard to stay ignorant about reality. All good traits to have, except for the last one. People who actively try hard to stay ignorant about reality typically have some delusional views. Ken Ham is a perfect example of that. Who in their right mind would think that it is a good idea to turn global genocide into a “happy-go-lucky” amusement park? How many other Earthlings are disturbed by this?

 

Noah’s Ark is just a fictional story, but Creationists believe it is real. Fictional or not, though, it is unsettling to see people celebrate a story about global genocide. That would be similar to making a restaurant for the Inquisition. Why not make a restaurant to “celebrate” the Inquisition though? I mean, if you are going to celebrate the imaginary time that your god killed 99.999% of his children, why not celebrate the time that your god’s followers actually murdered people for him? After all, they were just following his orders (2 Chronicles 15: 12-13 NAB).

 

Can you imagine it? Ken Ham and “the banana man”  talking about their future plans…
Continue reading “The Ark Encounter: One Man’s Dedication to Ignorance and Lies”

International Women’s Day Tribute

international_womens_day_ap_imgToday is International Women’s day, and here at Atheist Analysis we know it is necessary to recognize those who have contributed to atheism. In our society, women do not get equal recognition for the work they do. This is a shame and I hope that everyone appreciates the contributions of women especially within the atheist movement. This blog is to give an overview of some women in the atheist movement who have influenced me. Their work and dedication to humanity not only affects me but also affects the world we all live in.

IWD Tribute AA ADInternational Women’s Day is a holiday we should all celebrate. It has been around since 1911. I recently discovered it from a post on Facebook and thought I would investigate it. My research led me to the main website where there was everything from events happening around the world to celebrate this holiday, to the history of the celebrations, and even a place for resources. This site should be on everyone’s list to visit this weekend. But the more research I did, the more I felt like this is an under celebrated holiday in the United States. We have many national holidays, but this one did not fall on my radar until recently. Shame on me for not investigating more, and I hope by reading the bios I will be posting below and watching our upcoming show dedicated to women on this Sunday night will inspire you to take a more active role in promoting this awesome holiday. The amount of information this site alone has will give you a whole new perspective on what women have been through, what they are going through, and how we can support them as they empower the world.IWD Tribute AA Guests

The main website mentioned above says this, “International Women’s Day on March 8th is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday. Suffragettes campaigned for women’s right to vote. The word ‘Suffragette’ is derived from the word “suffrage” meaning the right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed.”

If you want to help celebrate some of the women who have inspired me while moving the atheist and humanist movement forward, please check out our website to watch interviews with these amazing women. There is far to many for me to mention, and I feel bad because my ignorance and lack of education on all of the women who have influenced atheism. Please do not stick just with my list or interviews but seek out more women. This list is just a taste of the women who have helped change the world and we need to recognize them all. So call shout out the women who have influenced you in our comments section. Next year we will be holding another event and want as much input as we can get.

This year the theme of International Women’s Day is “Make It Happen.”

Watch our show live and chat tonight!

Check out the show after the air date and celebrate women each day.

Without further ado here is the bio’s I have acquired about our guest along with their pictures. Enjoy and please share with your friends, family, and anyone that appreciates women.

BIOS

 

 

Danielle Muscato

Communications Manager

Danielle Muscato is a writer, activist, and public speaker. A former Christian praise & worship musician, she has been active in the atheism movement since 2009, and with American Atheists since 2013.  As Communcations Manager of American Atheists, Muscato directs American Atheists’ online social networking presence, works directly with media outlets, promotes American Atheists in as many venues as possible, updates the blog portion of the American Atheists’ web page, issues press releases to the media and general public, and works directly with the administrative team at American Atheists to project its vision and mission.  Muscato has appeared on or been quoted in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, MTV News, NPR, MSNBC, “The Real Story” with Gretchen Carlson, The O’Reilly Factor, Huffington Post Live, Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Raw Story, CNN, CBS, Kevin & Bean/KROQ in LA, and Howard Stern. Originally from Missouri and an avid traveler, she has been to more than 140 cities in 6 countries. She also enjoys playing jazz guitar and bass guitar. Muscato is a trans woman, formerly Dave Muscato.

Twitter: @daniellemuscato

Email: dmuscato@atheists.org

Website: http://atheists.org/

Abbie Smith

Post Doctoral Researcher at Emory University

Abbie Smith is a post doctoral researcher at Emory University, studying the co-evolution of HIV and the immune system, in the hopes of designing an HIV vaccine.  Abbie has blogged at ERV since 2006, covering virology and immunology, and lots of fun dealing with Creationists/HIV Deniers/anti-vaxers.  She has spoken at numerous conferences, on podcasts, and is dedicated to science education for everyone who is willing to listen.

Website: http://scienceblogs.com/erv/

Bridgett Bria Crutchfield

President of Black Non-Believers Detroit

Bridgett Bria Crutchfield is the current president of Black Non-Believers Detroit.  She also sits on the board for Black Non-Believers and Minority Atheists of Michigan.  She is actively involved with Michigan Atheists.  She formerly sat on the board for We Are Atheism and was involved in the campaign for Obama/Biden in 2012.

Website: http://www.meetup.com/Minority-Atheists-of-MI/ , http://www.minorityatheistsofmi.org/, http://www.blacknonbelieversofdetroit.org/

Twitter: @briabria

Heina Dadabhoy

Blogger at FTB

Heina Dadabhoy spent their childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in their right mind would have believed that they would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist. Heina has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007, and on the national stage since 2011. They are currently writing A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam. She is a blogger at Freethought Blogs and soon-to-be author of A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam. Former Muslim, current atheist.

Website: http://freethoughtblogs.com/heinous/

Aubrey Adrianson

Founder of Godless Family

Aubrey Adrianson is a blogger and runs the Being Atheist in a Christian America and Godless Family websites. She has a bachelor’s degree in English education from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Grand Valley State University. Aubrey has taught English in a variety of settings but most enjoys teaching English to adults. Currently, she works in faculty development and training. Aubrey became interested in the secular movement after having children. She was becoming concerned about what seemed to her as the institutionalized and systematic indoctrination of her children. Since then, she has sought out other atheists, started a blog, and written a book. Aubrey’s book is children’s fiction that focuses on the struggles children who are raised without religion face, both internal and external.

Website: http://godlessfamily.com/

Kelley Freeman

Communications Associate for the Secular Student Alliance

Kelley Freeman is the Communications Associate for the Secular Student Alliance as of October 2014. Kelley graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2013 with a B.A. in Russian and a minor in sociology. She was the president of SSAUSC and is a former intern for both the Secular Student Alliance and Foundation Beyond Belief. During her time in college, she also founded a progressive student coalition at the University of South Carolina and was service director for her university chapter of Omega Phi Alpha, national service sorority. Currently, Kelley is one half of the Secular Start Up team. When not at work, Kelley is an avid tea drinker, cat lover, and enjoys crocheting and reading.

Website: https://secularstudents.org/

Rebecca Vitsmun

Development Coordinator

Rebecca is the Co-host at Ask An Atheist. She has recently become Humanist Disaster Recovery Teams Development Coordinator at Foundation Beyond Belief.

Website: http://www.foundationbeyondbelief.org

Candace Gorham

Founder/Author of Ebony Exodus Project

Candance is the founder of the Ebony Exodus Project. Ebony Exodus is about Black women who are leaving organized religion. It is about Black people who have decided to free themselves from all manner of bondage. Ebony Exodus is about examining the unique intersection of racism and sexism which African American women must face, especially in the context of religion. Black women are the single most religious demographic in the United States, yet they are among the poorest, least educated, sickest people in the nation. It’s time that we take a closer look at the many dynamics that affect these issues. Their page is mostly about black women who have left organized religion but it’s for anyone who cares about the plight of black women. This page is open to all people, male, female, transgendered, black, white, yellow, green, alien, human.

Website: http://www.EbonyExodus.com/

Shanon Nebo

Founder/President of Be Secular

Shanon is the founder and president of Be Secular. She guest blogs over at Dan Arel’s patheos account. Be Secular is proud to accept religious and non-religious secular Affiliates that support our core values. Here are a few examples of the secular Universal Human Rights issues we support: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Equality, Sex/Gender Equality, Racial/Ethnic Equality, Women’s Reproductive/Contraception Rights, Separation of Church and State. Be Secular gives 50% of the proceeds they make back to the affiliate of your choice.

Website: http://besecular.com

Amanda Metskas

Executive Director of CampQuest

Amanda K. Metskas is the executive director of Camp Quest, Inc. She has been involved with Camp Quest since 2003, and served on the board of directors from 2004-2007. Amanda became executive director when Camp Quest, Inc. hired her as its first staff person in January 2008. As executive director, Amanda oversees the growth and development of Camp Quest. In addition to her work with Camp Quest, Amanda is a board member of the Secular Coalition for America. She co-authored Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief with Dale McGowan, Molleen Matsumura and Jan Devor. Amanda holds an M.A. in political science from The Ohio State University, and a B.A. in international relations and psychology from Brown University. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband August E. Brunsman IV and their two cats.

Website: https://campquest.org/staff

EstaAnne Ammerman

Founder of Moving Humanity Forward Podcast

Esta has recently deconverted from Catholicism over the last two years. She has decided that it is her passion to help people recover from their religious upbringing. She started as a PR Director for Inspiring Doubt podcast. She later branched out and started her own show called Moving Humanity Forward where she wants to work with Christians who share similar political beliefs to try and accomplish more.

Twitter: @estaanne

Godless Mom

Founder of Godless Mom Blog

She have moved from a large urban centre on the West Coast of Canada, to a small rural town in the Southern Interior of BC. While she’s yet to really meet anyone and get to know them, she may have taken note of the numerous churches in a town of 12,000. The bells, they ring out across our little town too. She is clearly outnumbered, and she is gonna need an outlet. And so, godlessmom.com was formed. She am a well-traveled, well-read extreme left atheist mother, wife and writer. She has a little dude about 5, a stepdaughter about 11, a rescue pup about 13 and a husband who likes to play the drums. Goidless Mom was not born and raised anything in particular. She has Catholics in my family, plenty of Christians, been to churchy funerals and godly baptisms and holylike weddings and such. I’ve had Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu friends and boyfriends. But I’ve always found wonder in science, the universe and the natural world. She requires empirical evidence to believe something and contrary to popular belief, this creates more mystery and wonder than a couple of old books will ever be able to.

Twitter: @godlessmom
Website: http://godlessmom.com/

Ellen Johnson

Former President of American Atheist

is an American activist for the civil rights of atheists and for the separation of church and state in the United States. She served as the president of the organization American Atheists from 1995–2008.  She is an active speaker for atheism.  Recently she spoke at the Michigan Atheist convention on the need for atheist to step up and speak out against religion in our government.

Jennifer Beahan

Assistant Director at CFI Michigan

Jennifer Beahan is Assistant Director of Center for Inquiry–Michigan. She was raised in a fundamentalist christian family and graduated summa cum laude from Cornerstone University with a Bachelor’s of Music Education. While attending Cornerstone University she and her childhood sweetheart/best friend of almost 21 years, and husband for 10, Jeremy Beahan, came to see the light of reason and were introduced to philosophy and critical thinking. Jennifer and Jeremy became members of the Freethought Association of West Michigan, now CFI–Michigan in 2002 and have been actively involved in the organization ever since. In 2007 she was hired on as the first staff person, and since she began volunteering in 2003 she has helped to develop numerous programs, and expand the programming of CFI–Michigan from 3 events each month to over 30 events a month in 8 cities throughout Michigan. Her professional interests include volunteer management, program development and evaluation, secular activism, and women’s rights. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education (K-12), and in addition to her work for CFI she teaches private music lessons on piano and woodwinds. She also enjoys hiking/camping, gardening, and loves to cook.

Rebecca Hensler

Founder of Grief Beyond Belief

Rebecca Hensler founded Grief Beyond Belief in 2011, following the death of her infant son Jude. She runs Grief Beyond Belief from her home and continues to write and speak on the topics of grief without faith and secular grief support.

Twitter: @griefbyondblief
Website: http://www.griefbeyondbelief.org/

Mandisa Lateefah Thomas

Founder/President of Black Non-Believers

Mandisa was born and raised in New York City and has lived in Atlanta since 1998. Although never formally indoctrinated into religious belief, she was heavily exposed to Christianity and Islam. Mandisa is a graduate of the famous LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, and attended Queens College (C.U.N.Y.). She likes to read, travel and spend time with her immediate family, as well as the newfound friends and colleagues gained in the freethought community. In her professional life she is an events manager at a conference center and is the owner of D & D Desserts.

Twitter: @BNonbelievers
Website: https://blacknonbelievers.wordpress.com/leadership-team/

Jennifer Lovejoy

Founder of Atheist Avengers/President of Carolinas Secular Association

Jennifer “Love” Lovejoy is a wife, mother, activist, and disabled veteran. Raised by an agnostic father and a Pentecostal Christian mother- she entered adulthood seriously questioning the biblical teachings she heard as a child. Jennifer enlisted in the US Army in 1997. It was while serving in the Army that she got her first real taste of activism by marching in uniform in support of gay rights. When medical issues abruptly ended Jennifer’s military career, she and her family moved to Asheville, NC. Her early retirement brought newfound free time; she immersed herself in separation of church and state issues after being shocked by the amount of biblical references in her children’s school work and the pamphlets sent home with her children that promoted local churches and discriminating organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America. Jennifer’s activism took a back seat after 9/11 when her husband – also a US soldier was deployed to Afghanistan. The needs of her children and family became her primary focus during her husband’s absence, but the hiatus from activism was short lived when her husband returned a year later with a spine injury. Jennifer came to realize that, as the war progressed, the idea that to be a “good and proud American” meant supporting the war and the troops with “under god”. Jennifer then took up the fight to recognize atheists within the military. Jennifer’s life was forever changed in the summer of 2010 when she agreed to become the Asheville spokesperson for the “One Nation Indivisible” billboard campaign in North Carolina. The international attention catapulted Jennifer into the spotlight and under the microscope. She had to learn how to juggle motherhood, being a wife, and being recognized as an atheist activist on a much larger scale. Jennifer is now busier than ever and wears many hats. She is the Affiliate Services Manager for Atheist Alliance of America. She is the founder and former president of WNC Humanists, former co-chair for the North Carolina Chapter of the Secular Coalition for America, president of the Carolinas Secular Association, a regional organization that supports secularity in the Carolinas and surrounding states. Jennifer also sits on many other boards for organizations that focus on secular issues and humanist values as well as national committees. “Love” as her fans know her, she is probably most recognized as a popular podcast personality. Her brand new show Atheist Avengers is sure to be a hit In the future we may see her name on a ballot for public office or running a national group. Jennifer Lovejoy is determined to change the world.

Twitter: @AvengerAtheists
Website: https://www.facebook.com/AtheistAvengers/

Kristi MD Winters

Atheist Youtube Activist

GESIS – Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Project Manager for CharmStats in Germany. The Data Coding and Harmonization (DataCoH) project will provide the software package CharmStats (Coding and Harmonization of Statistics) and be an online resource for researching the coding and harmonization of social science data. CharmStats products are a line of free and open-source software programs developed by GESIS to assist researchers in documenting, organizing and publishing data harmonizations. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow from British Academy UK and conducted the Qualitative Election Study of Britain. She runs a youtube channel focusing on what an Atheist would ask and reviewing literature she finds important.

Twitter: @KWintie
Website: https://www.youtube.com/user/drkmwinters/

Shelley Segal

Musician/Atheist Activist

Shelley’s third studio album, ‘An Easy Escape’ brings a cool indie-folk vibe to her Beach_shoot (10 of 21) musings. The album was recorded at Britannia Row studios (Pink Floyd’s old studio) in London and was produced by Tom Nichols (All Saints, Kylie, Celine Dion, Tina Arena). Lead single ‘Morocco,’ a travelling song that includes depictions of poverty, drugs and sexual inequality is already making waves with over 55,000 views and a heated response in the national and international press. Segal’s fierce yet emotive voice sings with an almost prescient, ‘Find your own way and be happy,’ a mantra to keep pushing forward despite criticisms and controversy. Segal grew up in a musical household. She began singing at the age of three, then writing and performing at eleven. Joining her father’s Jewish wedding band early on provided her with an ease and enjoyment performing and writing across a broad range of styles including pop, folk, jazz, blues, rock and reggae. Intimate, story-telling and biographical lyrics are what unifies Segal’s song-writing across genres. Shelley accompanies herself on guitar and has been performing her original music around Melbourne and internationally for the last twelve years. In 2009 she recorded her first EP with acclaimed producer Josh Abrahams at Fishtank Studios. In 2010, Segal completed a Bachelor of Applied Music from the Box Hill Institute of Tafe. The same year she also wrote and recorded a song with world-renowned DJ Carl Cox. The track, ‘Chemistry’ was a drum and bass single from his latest album ‘All Roads Lead To The Dance Floor.’ Segal has performed to crowds with Cox at Stereosonic festival and at Melbourne’s iconic Billboard. In November 2011 an award winning remix of ‘Chemistry’ spent two weeks at number one on the Beatport techno charts. 2012 saw the release of her forthright, ‘An Atheist Album’ highlighting her versatility as a singer and song writer. The folk-pop protest record embodies Segal’s thoughts on religion and quickly made her “a new pin-up girl for the international atheist movement.” (Barny Zwartz -The Age) Last year Segal teamed up with talented US guitarist Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman, Ani Difranco) to create ‘Little March,’ an enchanting and delicate collection of jazzy, bluesy folk tunes. Produced by grammy award-winning S. Husky Hoskulds, ‘Little March’ is intimate and reflective, combining both artists’ genuine song writing with Adam’s stunning, mellow guitar playing and Shelley’s captivating voice. The two enjoyed a successful Australian tour last July, with sold out shows at Melbourne’s premier jazz venue, Bennett’s lane.

Twitter: @shelleysegal
Website: http://www.shelleysegal.com/

Susan Walsh

Detroit Sunday Assembly Leader

Susan has worked hard to promote and lead the Detroit Sunday Assembly chapter in Detroit Michigan. She is a long time support of Michigan Atheists and has worked hard for the rights of atheists and minorities in Michigan.

Stephanie Renee Guttormson

Operations Director for RDFS

Stephanie joined the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science in March of 2013. She was the leader of an award winning student group at the Metropolitan State University of Denver that developed widely successful unique events such Food for Freethought and The Pseudoscience Fair. She also brought in notable names such as Michael Shermer and James Randi to speak on campus. She holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Linguistics and Theoretical Mathematics from the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Vyckie Garrison

Founder and Blogger at No Longer Quivering

Vyckie Garrison started No Longer Quivering to tell the story of her “escape” from the Quiverfull movement. Over time, NLQ has developed into a valuable resource of information regarding the deceptions and dangers of the Quiverfull philosophy and lifestyle. Several more former QF adherents are now contributing their stories to NLQ and our collective voice makes these Quiverfull warnings impossible to dismiss or ignore. NLQ is a gathering place for women escaping and recovering from spiritual abuse.

Twitter: @noquivering
Website: http://nolongerquivering.com

Zinna Jones

VideoBlogger/FTB Blogger

Zinnia Jones is a writer and videoblogger, co-blogging with Heather McNamara and Lux Pickel. She’s written extensively on the subjects of secularism, feminism, and being transgender. Since 2008, her videos have received over 8 million views, and her articles have been featured in Autostraddle, the Huffington Post, and The Fight magazine. She has been producing informed commentary on YouTube since 2008, covering news, politics, religion, secularism, civil rights, LGBT issues, philosophy, ethics, and just about anything else. Zinnia has been transitioning for the past two years, which has required her to learn a lot about a variety of transgender-related subjects. In that time, she’s found that most mainstream coverage of trans topics is largely inadequate – presenting only shallow oversimplifications, produced by cis (non-trans) people, for cis people.

Twitter: @ZJemptv
Website: http://zinniajones.com/

Teresa Macbain

Assistant Director for Recovering from Religion’s Hotline Project.

Teresa MacBain became a non-believer after serving for many years as a pastor in the Deep South. Through a long process of questioning, research, and reality-based thinking, she discovered the religious faith she’d built her life upon was simply a lie. She came out publicly as an atheist during the 2012 American Atheist convention in Bethesda, Maryland.
In addition to her former work as a pastor, Teresa has worked for the Humanists of Florida as Executive Director and as the Public Relations Director for American Atheists. In 2013 she was named “Atheist of the Year” for her dedication to the secular community. Currently Teresa is the Assistant Director of the Hotline Project.
In her spare time, you’ll find Teresa playing fetch with her beloved Yorkie, wandering the country-side photographing the wonders of nature, or catching up on missed episodes of a Doctor Who.

Twitter: @teresamacbain

Website: http://teresamacbain.com/

Sarah Morehead

Executive Director at Recovering from Religion

A life-long evangelical Southern Baptist, Sarah spent years as a dutiful wife and mother before finding the courage to leave an abusive marriage. She ultimately let go of her faith, becoming a passionate advocate for growing the secular community by developing resources for practical support as people reconsidering the role of religion in their life.

In 2011 she joined the leadership of Recovering From Religion and in 2012 she was appointed the Executive Director. Thanks to her tireless efforts, Recovering From Religion is well known as the bridge of hope for those negatively impacted by religion. In 2014 she was honored with the American Atheists “Atheist of the Year” award for her activism throughout the secular movement and in January 2015 she was elected President of the Reason Rally Coalition.

When she is not busy directing RR and organizing events like Apostacon, she enjoys spending time with her family and homeschooling her many children.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair

Former President of American Atheist

Madalyn who also used multiple pseudonyms (her most preferred being M. Bible) was an American atheist activist, founder of American Atheists, and the organization’s president from 1963 to 1986. She created the first issues of American Atheist Magazine. One of her sons, Jon Garth Murray, was the president of the organization from 1986 to 1995, while she remained de facto president during these nine years.

Faces in the Crowd: A Darwinian Family Affair

Imagine a small crowd of people – a hundred or so – in a public place. A few minutes earlier they were all in transit to various other destinations, but a momentary spectacle has drawn them together. They do not, for the most part, know each other and in most cases they’ll never see each other again once they go their separate ways. They include representatives of every age group from infancy to dotage; there are people of various ethnic backgrounds, political and religious persuasions, socioeconomic status and states of mental and physical health. There is little consensus among them with respect to tastes or aspiration. Some are happier than others.

 

The people in this crowd have come to be together purely by accident, and it is the kind of accident that will never again draw this same crowd: the crowd has no identity, no “meaning.” Many people would be tempted to say of the people who make up that meaningless crowd, “They have nothing in common.”

 

But that sweeping statement, “They have nothing in common,” is not entirely true is it? They are all human, so they have that in common. Since they are all human, they are all the offspring of two biological parents, even if one of them merely traded his semen for cash at a sperm bank, or if in vitro fertilization was involved. And this makes it possible to list a great many other commonalities: they all have 23 pairs of chromosomes; they’re all bipeds; they’re all mammals; they’re all vertebrates; they’re all mortal; they’re all subject to the laws of physics and chemistry that make life possible, sets its limits, and so forth.

 

chromosomes
Continue reading “Faces in the Crowd: A Darwinian Family Affair”

Fundamentally Fundamental about the Fundamentals of Fundies: Facepalms of Biblical Proportions

Despite loose usage of the term and the tossing about of its diminutive form, “fundamentalist” is not a pejorative: the word was invented by conservative Christians for purposes of self-identification and bears an exact meaning that has only secondarily to do with attitude. I’m well acquainted with the history of this word because it is my interesting fortune to have been raised in one of the small, fractious, separatist, backwater Christian sects that coined it around the turn of the 20th century.

 

By the time I was born at mid-century, Missionary Baptist churches all over the U.S. South proudly touted their fundamentalist bona fides on the signs that identified them: “Independent – Bible-believing – Fundamental.” While dismissing the historic creeds as the inventions of fallen man, such churches showed not the least hesitation in publishing “statements of faith” (as though “creed” meant something different) sometimes disguised as “church covenants,” and those published statements always included an article such as “We believe the Bible to be the divinely-inspired and wholly inerrant Word of God.” Fundamentalists of the other monotheistic religions hold a similar attitude regarding their various “holy books.” Belief in the divine origin of a “sacred scripture” is essential to fundamentalists of all sects, because it’s the primary premise – often unspoken – in all of their arguments.

 

What I wish I could say to fundamentalists of all stripes (and wish they could hear me when I say it) is that their foundational premise is false. The Bible is most certainly not the Word of God: it has no more to do with the (alleged) creator of the universe than the Qur’an, the Book of Mormon or the Left Behind series.
Continue reading “Fundamentally Fundamental about the Fundamentals of Fundies: Facepalms of Biblical Proportions”

Just Foamin’ at the Mouth

Earlier this morning, occupied as I was by two projects of interest simultaneously (making my breakfast and writing this essay), I managed to burn my first attempt at the former on account of turning my attention full-bore to the latter. The result furnished me with an object lesson (as if I needed it) in the way things work in the natural world. If one were to inquire into the reasons why my first pancake went into the trash, thoroughly blackened on one side and filling my house with acrid smoke, two equally viable and meaningful answers would present themselves, one having to do with the nature of chemical changes and the other with human psychology.

 

The first of those answers simply has to do with molecular bonding, with the propensity of oxygen to bond with many other chemical elements in its never-ending pursuit of a lower energy state – which is something that everything in the universe seeks continually, and which drives everything from the fusion reactions in the cores of stars to the chemistry of life. The second answer has to do with our prioritizing of tasks – which is one of many things that we have in common with every other animal. It might be more difficult to distract a cheetah from its fixation on a gazelle than it is to distract a human from making his breakfast, but it most certainly can be done. Our priorities – the priorities of all animals, in fact – are flexible. This is one of the realities that lies behind the notion of “free will” – the appearance of which, pretty much everyone agrees, is far more pronounced in humans than in other animals. (The line of demarcation is not by any means so clearly drawn, however, as creationists imagine. And the very notion of “free will” is a fallacy anyway, as research in neuroscience may have demonstrated.)
Continue reading “Just Foamin’ at the Mouth”

Reading the Myths Aright, Part II

In Part I of this essay, I left off my reading of Genesis 3 with verse 7. At that point, the Fall was a fait accompli as evidenced by a sudden flush of shame and an ineffectual attempt by our first parents to cover their nakedness; all that remains to tell of this story is the defense, the verdict, the sentencing and the dolorous postscript. As I take up the tale at verse 8, I try to see it through the eyes of a Bronze-Age agriculturalist/pastoralist. It’s useful to ask oneself from time to time, “If I were a Mesopotamian farmer living 4,000 years ago and hearing a tale like this from a recognized religious authority, what would it mean to me?”
 

(8) They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (9) But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”
Continue reading “Reading the Myths Aright, Part II”