Too cool not to post

The Purple frog

Purple frog

Now in gross size!

Editorial does creationists no favors

Peter Bronson of the Cincinnati Enquirer is wondering why secularists are so afraid of the Creation Museum.

The live Nativity at the Creation Museum will have an actual, living, cud-chewing camel. Frightening.

There will also be goats and sheep. Terrifying.

Cuddly lambs might seem harmless to the average visitor, but some people are scared witless by the possibility that some innocent, devout secularist could accidentally wander onto the grounds of the Creation Museum and get exposed to radioactive Christianity or other dangerous ideas that should be outlawed.

Let’s just cut straight to the chase. Bronson is making up shit. The reasoning for the reaction to the Zoo/Museum combo ticket has nothing to do with fear or any other bull like that. Evolution is a settled question among scientists. There is zero doubt that it happened. It is just as sound a theory as gravity – insofar as it taking place. Precisely how it has taken place is still a huge field of study and interest and wonder and beauty. Much has been decided – random variation is acted upon non-randomly by natural selection. A fuller, more robust history of life is still waiting to be discovered – not by belief in ancient texts and magic, but through the power of the scientific method.

The Creation Museum web site gets about 1 million hits a month that could have been linked to the zoo. But the zoo got angry calls and e-mails that protested the promotion.

Here’s a sample of the flavor, from the Enquirer Web site:

“Asking me to ‘tolerate’ this kind of worldview is akin to asking me to ‘tolerate’ illiteracy. Both are problems of education and intelligence. Creationist thought is … naïve, it is anti-intellectual, and it harkens back to pre-enlightenment thinking. I don’t have any tolerance for that.”

Got that? Creationists are stupid, illiterate, naïve and backward.

It was an analogy, Bronson. That person did not say creationists were stupid or illiterate. Given that he was presumably writing a letter to voice his opinion to both rational people and creationists, it’s safe to assume he’s well aware creationists have the ability to read; they are, afterall, a bit attached to one of the greatest literary publications in history. What the e-mailer was saying was that creationist thought is unworthy of tolerance because it is shallow and dismisses evidence when that evidence doesn’t match a presupposed conclusion. It opposes the scientific method. For that reason, it is a bad thing. You are naive and backward, however. Good job.

“They’re the ones who are being intolerant,” [Museum owner and notorious creationist, Ken] Ham said. “We’re not afraid of creationists going to the Zoo and seeing their messages about evolution. People have to stand on their own beliefs. It’s not up to us to say you can’t go to this place or that place.

“But they’re sure worried about people hearing about creationism,” Ham said. “More and more, the secularists and atheists don’t want people to even hear the other side.”

First of all, no one is stopping anyone from going anywhere. Insofar as creationist thought should actually be tolerated it is in the sense that no law should be made which prevents people from their free thought – of course, that is concern for a principle, not creationism specifically. Second, a large portion of Americans believe “the other side”, Kenny. That makes this whole martyr complex all the more perplexing.

It makes me wonder: If the science is so unshakeable, what are they afraid of? Why wouldn’t they welcome a debate? Why not encourage open-minded exploration? Isn’t that what scientific inquiry is all about?

I’m going to let PZ Myers take this one.

Again, abandon that premise. We are not afraid. The real issue is that this is a settled scientific question, long resolved and with growing evidential support, and there is little point in continuing the discussion.

Anyone who has had kids knows this situation: when they discover the word “why”, they learn that it is a tool for starting an unending conversation. Give ’em an answer, and they just say “why” again; explain that, and it’s “why” again; the game keeps going until the adult gives up in exasperation. We all know that the kid is not trying to think or get a complete answer — he just wants attention. We can answer for a while with patience, but at some point we have to stop and insist that the child exhibit a little more honest curiousity to trigger more answers.

Creationists passed the point of honest inquiry long ago. I would suggest to Mr Bronson that he go through his little essay and try replacing every instance of the word “afraid” with “exasperated” and he might see his way through to a little more truth.

Mass state trooper is a mindless robot

A state trooper in Boston issued a citation to a man for using the breakdown/emergency lane to get his pregnant wifewhose contractions were 3 minutes apartto the hospital.

The couple said two state troopers allowed them to use the lane, but when they ran into a third, he refused to cut them any slack on their way to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge.

According to the couple, the trooper had the couple wait while he gave a citation to another driver and then gave John an envelope and told him he would be getting something in the mail.

They received a $100 ticket about two weeks later.

Jennifer also said the trooper made her feel as though she needed to prove that she was pregnant.

“He came over and said ‘What’s under your jacket?’And so I said ‘My belly.’ And he waited and was just kind of looking at me, so I took that to assume he wanted me to open up my jacket. And I did,” Jennifer said.

Their daughter Charlotte Jane was born hours later in the hospital

The couple plans to appeal the ticket.

A spokesman for the State Police said the trooper was using his discretion in following the breakdown lane law. If the Davis family decides to file a formal complain the incident will be reviewed.

There is a serious epidemic – and it’s encouraged in the media, schools, and workplace – to mindlessly follow the rules. We are told that the rules are there for a reason and we must obey them until they change.

It’s malarkey.

The rule is absolutely never important. It is the reason for the rule that matters. We should never simply do something (or not do something, as the case may be) because one person or one group of people arbitrarily place some sort of restriction on a situation. We should question the precise reasoning for these rules. This state trooper was not doing that at all. He saw what he thought was an illegal act and issued a citation. His basis was the rule, not the reasoning. He may get a promotion for being a good robot, but he isn’t advancing anywhere in the logic department.

I’m not sure what Mass law is precisely, but it would seem reasonable that the side lane is not simply for cars which have broken down, but also for emergencies, no? Assuming that is the case, the trooper actually failed at being a robot, too. The couple was in an emergency situation – in Boston traffic, no less. That would seem to justify their use of the lane from a simple legal standpoint, provided Mass calls it an “emergency lane” in some respect.

At any rate, this trooper should be ashamed of himself. The ticket should be revoked, an apology issued, and at least a one-day suspension handed down – not to mention a congratulations given to Jennifer and John Davis for the safe birth of their little girl, Charlotte Jane Davis, despite the efforts of this unnamed trooper.

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Thou Shalt Not Steal

An atheist sign criticizing Christianity that was erected alongside a Nativity scene was taken from the Legislative Building in Olympia, Washington, on Friday and later found in a ditch.

An employee from country radio station KMPS-FM in Seattle told CNN the sign was dropped off at the station by someone who found it in a ditch.

C’mon. Disagree in harmony. I hope no atheists, agnostics, humanists, Jews, Muslims, whathaveyou do this to any Christian display – or any other display, for that matter. It’s petty and juvenile. No group deserves to have its property damaged or stolen, regardless of the justification.