The Internet just became a slightly better place

I don’t know if she is blogging elsewhere (I didn’t find anything), but it appears that Roxeanne de Luca has ceased her blogging. While I hope it isn’t for any reasons of personal tragedy or whathaveyou, I am glad she is no longer clogging up the Internet with crazy falsehoods and anti-science rhetoric.

The rejection of science and confusion of morality amongst Evangelical Christians

Pew has put out a new survey in which it asks Evangelical Christians what they believe about life:

First, and probably of no surprise to anyone, is the result of the question regarding acceptance of the scientific theory of evolution. The survey posed the question:

Which statement comes closest to your own views?” – the options being:

1. Humans and other living things have evolved over time due to natural processes such as natural selection.
2. A supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today.
3. Humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

In other words the choices are evolution, intelligent design of the Michael Behe variety, and standard creationism. It is important to note that the Pew foundation used a wording for the evolution option that, unlike some previous surveys, doesn’t specifically exclude a role for God: for instance, someone who believes that God set up the laws of nature and that biological evolution is just one of the consequences of these laws should answer option A.

What proportion of evangelicals accept the scientific theory of evolution?

The answer is 3%

In addition to this confusion over the underlying foundation of all of biology, many Evangelical leaders don’t seem to be so sure of what their little cultural god is telling them:

“A majority (73%) of the leaders from the Global North consider alcohol consumption to be compatible with being a good evangelical Christian. By contrast, a similarly large majority of the leaders from the Global South (75%) say alcohol consumption is not compatible with being a good evangelical.”

And there really is no way to resolve the issue. The Bible, written and changed by men, is like any other piece of literature – all interpretations of it are subjective. These divides amongst Christians – even Christians of the same subgroup, no less – amply demonstrate that fact. Furthermore, even where something is straight-forward and hardly ambiguous, it is still interpreted by humans, under human constructs, and by the human brain. It can’t help but be subjective. And unlike, say, science, it doesn’t have any methods which can remedy these facts in a way that works.

What’s more, there appears to be a marked difference in views on how women should be treated.

“Among U.S. leaders, 44% agree women should stay at home, while 53% disagree. Leaders in Europe, however, reject the idea of women staying at home by a more than two-to-one margin, 69% to 28%.”

and

“European leaders (62%) and North American leaders (54%) are especially likely to reject the idea that a wife must always obey her husband. On the other hand, upwards of 60% of leaders from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East-North Africa and the Asia-Pacific region agree that a wife must always obey her.

Even the “good” numbers (62% and 54% for the latter part) are awful.

I’m well aware that many fields today are dominated by men. That is often a legacy of past sexism as well as a problem of current, though undeniably reduced, sexism. It’s true of science, it’s true of atheism, it’s true of video games, and it’s true of so many other fields. But those areas don’t tend to attempt to perpetuate the worst of their legacies. That isn’t what we see with Evangelicals.

More liberal and/or more aware Christians have this habit of denying the nature of the fundamentalists within their religion. ‘Surely they aren’t as bad as everyone describes them, right?’ Wrong. This Pew survey pulls back the curtain and shows many of these people for what they are. And let’s not forget just how many people we’re talking about. Estimates of Evangelicals in the U.S. range from 25-30% of the population. That means, to put some of the results into real numbers, about 35 million people in the U.S. believe a woman should obey her husband. (And how many of those people ironically also describe themselves as libertarian, I wonder?) Only a few million of these people are willing to accept established and overwhelmingly evidenced science. And when we look at Evangelicals around the globe, they sometimes demonstrate a deep confusion over what their particular cultural god is telling them. (Yet how many claim that the Bible is objectively true or that they can objectively know something?) This all presents a very real challenge to the progress of the nation and the world at large. The delusions and confusions of faith-based thinking are holding back real knowledge and clarity of thinking, and that ought to make everyone nervous.

Anti-science stances

One of the indicators that science is the best way of knowing is how everyone clamors to claim their views are in line with its findings. Of course, it can’t be so that anyone’s views are entirely in line with science, even for those who, ya know, actually accept scientific findings. That’s simply because it isn’t possible to be familiar with every ounce of science out there. Anyone who is smart enough to constantly be considering what science has to say on the issues around us will have discovered this time and time again; if you haven’t had to change a preconceived view in light of learning something new within science, then you can hardly be aware that, no, not everything you believe is in line with science.

That said, it is possible to hold a vast majority of one’s views in line with science. Evolutionists do this, as do most atheists. But one group that can’t possibly do this is theists who believe in miracles.

It is a basic fact of physics that for something to be considered a “law”, a consistent, discernible pattern must be exhibited. We call gravity a law, in part, because it is true everywhere and at all times. If it could be suspended at the whims of a supernatural being, it wouldn’t be worth calling a law. All we could say is “Gravity is true. Probably. Maybe. Who knows?” And what more is a miracle than a claim that any given physical law or constant can be altered without regard to what science tells us can happen?

This is one of the dangerous of religion. The belief that science isn’t really describing the Universe because, hey, miracles can contradict all we know, sows unjustified seeds of doubt. But religion encourages such belief. It says it is okay to claim any random thing can happen – and it’s okay that it isn’t possible to describe why. Such an insane fostering of promoted and celebrated ignorance has no scientific backing; belief in miracles is about as anti-science as it gets.

Watch out for this guy

Bobby Jindal is currently the governor of Louisiana. There’s been quite a bit of talk about him making a run for the presidency in 2012. Aside from being a Republican and thus inherently wrong a vast majority of the time, he is also known to support creationism. He has come out in support of intelligent design. Worse yet, he’s anti-science when it comes to just about everything else that contradicts his distorted view of reality.

Gov. Bobby Jindal attracted national attention and strongly worded advice about how he should deal with the Louisiana Science Education Act.

Jindal ignored those calling for a veto and this week signed the law that will allow local school boards to approve supplemental materials for public school science classes as they discuss evolution, cloning and global warming.

Political observers said Jindal’s signature will please one of his key local constituencies: conservative Protestants in north Louisiana.

Doesn’t it seem strange that the bill focuses on a few issues with which conservatives object? Actually, no. It isn’t strange at all. This is a man that is willing to sacrifice quality science education for his own selfish political ambitions. He signed a bill which undermines education in biology and on the climate, among other issues. He hates science. He loves getting backward-thinking hick votes.

Think of Sarah Palin with a funny name and a penis.

Japanese Researchers Begin to Pull Ahead

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the soon-to-thankfully-end Bush administration, the United States is beginning to fall behind in science and technology. One example to this effect is the recent advancements made by the well-funded research of Japanese scientists.

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese researchers said Thursday they had created functioning human brain tissues from stem cells, a world first that has raised new hopes for the treatment of disease.

Stem cells taken from human embryos have been used to form tissues of the cerebral cortex, the supreme control tower of the brain, according to researchers at the government-backed research institute Riken.

The tissues self-organised into four distinct zones very similar to the structure seen in human foetuses, and conducted neuro-activity such as transmitting electrical signals, the institute said.

Research on stem cells is seen as having the potential to save lives by helping to find cures for diseases such as cancer and diabetes or to replace damaged cells, tissues and organs.

The team’s previous studies showed stem cells differentiated into distinct cells but until now they had never organised into functioning tissues.

Let’s hope an Obama administration can finally give the scientific community the true support it has been needing for the past 8 anti-science years.