Kilimanjaro Hike 2010

One of the members of my Kilimanjaro group took some video of the trip and edited a few things together for YouTube. With his permission (which I figured I’d get since the video isn’t available in a public search) I present it to you. (In case you think I’m worth trying to see, I don’t make much of an appearance.)

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Calling dishonesty

I’ve never been a big fan of calling someone dishonest with much ease. There are exceptions (a lot of politicians by virtue of being politicians, people who understand the science behind something but intentionally contradict it at the behest of a big corporation, i.e., researchers who long denied the effects smoking has), but I’m not usually ready to throw out a label of “dishonest” without good reason. I’ll say it for virtually all public-figure young Earth creationists because they present arguments they know are wrong (i.e., Kirk Cameron and his crocoduck; even when it was explained to him that evolution predicts no such thing, he continued to claim otherwise. I don’t think he’s smart, but he can’t be that stupid), but I won’t say it for the random young Earth creationist because they usually don’t know why their arguments are silly. For the former, I have good reason. For the latter, I do not.

And then there are theists in general. I believe most of them think their positions are valid and logical. They don’t inherently make arguments they know or believe to be false simply so they can push an agenda. This is true for all religious members as well as atheists, agnostics, and whatever else we care to name. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t big name theists willing to distort facts, make up history, and outright lie.

Enter the Pope.

‘As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society.’

Specifically, he means Nazis. This is a fallacious argument that attempts to link what just about everyone recognizes as a terrible regime to atheism. Hitler wasn’t an atheist and the Nazis did not promote atheism. The Pope is being overtly and brazenly dishonest.

In light of this, PZ has a series of Hitler quotes that help to demonstrate what the German leader thought. They’re worth a look in their entirety, but I’ll provide just a few here.

“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.” (1936 speech)

~~~

“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders.” (1922 speech – this one goes on for longer than what I’ve represented here)

~~~

“This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief.” (Mein Kampf)

~~~

“ATHEIST HALL CONVERTED

Berlin Churches Establish Bureau to Win Back Worshippers

Wireless to the New York Times.

BERLIN, May 13. – In Freethinkers Hall, which before the Nazi resurgence was the national headquarters of the German Freethinkers League, the Berlin Protestant church authorities have opened a bureau for advice to the public in church matters. Its chief object is to win back former churchgoers and assist those who have not previously belonged to any religious congregation in obtaining church membership.

The German Freethinkers League, which was swept away by the national revolution, was the largest of such organizations in Germany. It had about 500,000 members …” (New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 2, on Hitler’s outlawing of atheistic and freethinking groups in Germany in the Spring of 1933, after the Enabling Act authorizing Hitler to rule by decree)

Far from being an atheist, Hitler believed in God. Furthermore, he actively suppressed atheist groups. The Pope, having lived in Nazi Germany and having been forced to join them, knows this. His people know it. Everyone frickin’ knows it.

But my favorite quote of all (which isn’t on that list):

Walking about in the garden of Nature, most men have the self-conceit to think that they know everything; yet almost all are blind to one of the outstanding principles that Nature employs in her work. This principle may be called the inner isolation which characterizes each and every living species on this earth. Even a superficial glance is sufficient to show that all the innumerable forms in which the life-urge of Nature manifests itself are subject to a fundamental law–one may call it an iron law of Nature–which compels the various species to keep within the definite limits of their own life-forms when propagating and multiplying their kind. (Mein Kampf)

Mmyes. In addition to not being an atheist, Hitler didn’t even accept the fact of evolution. Only a fundamentally dishonest theist would bother to argue otherwise.

‘The Grand Design’

I just got my copy of Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design”. I’ve only looked at it briefly, so a full report is not possible at this time. However, I think it’s worth quoting a section he has on miracles.

It is Laplace who is usually credited with first clearly postulating scientific determinism: Given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past. This would exclude the possibility or miracles or an active role for God. The scientific determinism that Laplace formulated is the modern scientists’s answer to question two (‘Are there any exceptions to the laws, i.e., miracles?’). It is, in fact, the basis of all modern science, and a principle that is important throughout this book. A scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene. (Page 30)

Emphasis mine.

This is a concise account of why the belief in miracles is so anti-science: science tells us ‘These are laws which are true at all points and all times within the observable Universe’ whereas a believer in miracles inherently says, ‘No, no. These aren’t laws at all. They can be made untrue at any point and any time, and in fact some of them have not been valid in certain places and at certain times.’ Of course, the believer doesn’t actually say that. But his belief in miracles means that.