Gillard is against gay marriage

If it was ever true that anything followed from atheism, then it’s odd that there are a number of atheists like myself who favor equal treatment of gays, while at the same time there are other atheists who think just the opposite. The Prime Minister of Australia is one example.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she does not support legalising gay marriage in Australia.

Labor policy on gay marriage will remain the same under her prime ministership, Ms Gillard told Austereo show today.

“We believe the marriage act is appropriate in its current form, that is recognising that marriage is between a man and a woman, but we have as a government taken steps to equalise treatment for gay couples,” Ms Gillard said.

Asked if that was also her personal view, Ms Gillard said it was.

I suppose she did only say she was atheistic, not anti-theistic.

Australia is led by an atheist

Australia’s new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has confirmed she is an atheist.

This morning during a Melbourne radio interview, the new Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard was asked point blank:

“Do you believe in God?”

Her reply:

“No I don’t, John”

And if all the lies Christians loved to tell were true, Australia would quickly be led into genocide, eugenics, and all sorts of other nasty consequences. But atheism is not a philosophy. Nothing normative concludes from atheism. It’s a descriptive position. And Australia is a democracy, not a dictatorship. Gillard is going to be led by the politics of her party, her own ethical system (which I’ll hazard is somewhat libertarian, but maybe someone from Australia will read this and be more specific and/or accurate), and – thankfully – not religion. In other words, reality is firm in her mind.

Hilarious attack on Dawkins

This article by Melanie Phillips about the recent atheist convention in Australia is hilarious not because she has a stinging wit or sharp tongue, but rather because it’s just…just so silly.

LIKE revivalists from an alternative universe, 2500 hardcore believers in the absence of religion packed into the Global Atheists Convention in Melbourne last weekend to give a hero’s welcome to the high priest of belief in unbelief, Richard Dawkins.

This reminds me of when Christopher Maloney went about spamming the Internet, calling PZ Myers a “Reverend” (complete with quotation marks for some reason). The difference here is that Phillips is aware of the irony of her term “high priest” (Maloney didn’t seem to know who PZ was at all). But with the normal flea-ish weakness of the rest of her post, she may actually think she’s made some grand point.

This was even after (or perhaps because) he referred to the Pope as a Nazi, which managed to combine defamation of the pontiff with implicit Holocaust denial.

Dawkins called Pope Pious XII, not the current pope, a Nazi. (Although he could have said the same of the current pope – it would be disingenuous, but accurate. At any rate, he said it of a past pope – and the lack of action on the part of the Catholic Church in WW2 should not be ignored.)

For someone who has made a career out of telling everyone how much more tolerant the world would be if only religion were obliterated from the human psyche, Dawkins manages to appear remarkably intolerant towards anyone who disagrees with him.

It’s sad that so many people seem unable to tell the difference between non-acceptance and intolerance. How is Dawkins suppressing others views? How is he making it harder to practice religion (other than through argumentation)? What restrictions is he placing upon anyone’s beliefs?

While he was writing about the “selfish gene” and the “blind watchmaker”, he received a respectful reception even from those who might have disagreed with him but were nevertheless impressed by the imaginative brio and dazzling fluency of his argument. But then he left biology behind and became the self-appointed universal crusader against God.

So Dawkins stopped writing about science and biology in 1986? He hasn’t written multiple other books, made several science DVDs, been on who knows how many panels, explained the basis of biology countless times, or recently written a book on the evidence for evolution? Is the 2006 publication of The God Delusion retroactive? I’m not sure why Phillips would want to say wrong things.

He became the apostle of scientism, the ideology that says everything in the universe has a materialist explanation and must answer to the rules of empirical scientific evidence

The former is called naturalism, the latter a strawman.

As for Dawkins’s claim that religion is responsible for the ills of the world, this is demonstrably a wild distortion. Some of the worst horrors in human history – the French revolutionary terror, Nazism, communism – have been atheist creeds.

First, the possessive apostrophe needs not that extra “s”. Second, what part of atheism leads to such varied histories? Why is atheism the same as capitalism and socialism? I don’t understand this argument.

And although terrible things indeed have been done in the name of religion, the fact remains that Christianity and the Hebrew Bible form the foundation stone of Western civilisation and its great cause of human equality and freedom.

Except for all those nasty misogynistic bits. Oh, and all the parts about slavery and other minor jazz like that.

Just why is he so angry and why does he hate religion so much? After all, as many religious scientists can attest, science and religion are – contrary to his claim – not incompatible at all.

Oh. People can think things are compatible? It must be true.

A clue lies in his insistence that a principal reason for believing that there could be no intelligence behind the origin of life is that the alternative – God – is unthinkable.

That piece of crap Expelled movie ends with an interview where Dawkins bends over backwards to say, yes, aliens could have done it. And he goes to length in numerous other places to spell out that some divine creator could be at work. But to go further with these possibilities, he asks for evidence. He’s a real stickler about that stuff.

And so the great paradox is that the arch-hater of religious intolerance himself behaves with the zeal of a religious fundamentalist and, despite excoriating religion for stifling debate, does this in spades.

…what? Dawkins does not argue that religion stifles debate. The debate is about religion. It might stifle scientific discussion because it is an antithetical distraction, but where are all these arguments Phillips keeps attributing to Dawkins?

I don’t understand why someone would want to lie like this. Why isn’t Phillips honest? Why does she make things up? Is she doing it for fun? Does she hate honesty? Does she think of herself as clever? Why would she think that? Is she on some sort of medication? I don’t understand how people come to think the sort of string of words people like Phillips put together is worthwhile.

Sydney dust storm

Only in the light of evolution 3

Once again I am following a chapter in Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True.

There is a pattern within Life that can be seen on oceanic islands. Species which are present are often endemic – only found in that one location. The species common to continents, on the other hand, are often not present on these islands.

In 1703, Alexander Selkrik was part of a plundering group that sailed to the Juan Fernandez archipelago, a few hundred miles off the coast of Chile (pretentiously pronounced “chill-a” by people not from Chile who like to pretend they’re so full of culture). He was voluntarily marooned on one of the islands (Mas a Tierra). He remained there for over four years. He hunted goats and utilized other species introduced by earlier sailors. Little did Selkrik know, his island (now named Alejandro Selkrik Island) was full of these foreign species.

On the island are five species of birds, 126 species of plants, a fur seal, and various insects which are entirely unique to the location. Equally notably, there’s a lot missing from the island. There are no native amphibians, reptiles, or mammals. Islands throughout the world show this same pattern.

Creationism wholly fails to explain the distribution of species – biogeography. It is only in the light of evolution that any logically tenable solution is found. Species are spread across the globe in patterns which follow the movements of the continents. For instance, plants which have a clear common ancestor are explained by the fact that Earth once was composed of a supercontinent known as Gondwana. It split into several sections. This divided species which had already split from one another, causing more adaptation (or extinction). One must believe in tremendous coincidences to just wave this away. That is, the evidence (the biggest foe of the creationist) says plate tectonics caused the movement of the continents which corresponds perfectly to the distribution of species. There is no other plausible explanation.

When observing the world’s biogeography, it is obvious that Australia needs some explanation. Why is it dominated by marsupial mammals while lacking so much in placenta mammals? Better yet, why is the rest of the world lacking in marsupial animals (except for the Virginia opossum)? The answer is in evolution. The animals on Australia show their common ancestry with animals elsewhere by their Class: they are mammals, just as tamarins are mammals. However, they show their divergence and evolution with key differences. Notably, the birthing process and raising of young differs drastically.

Now here’s a prediction that all this makes. Marsupials are found as early as 80 million years ago. Interestingly, they are not found at this time in Australia, but instead North America. With their evolution, they spread to South America about 40 million years ago. About 10 million years later, they’re in Australia. This means there was a connection of land from South America to Australia. The evidence bears this out. Geologists know South America was connected to Antarctica. That in turn was connected to Australia – actually, it was more like a cobble of connection; these continents were all part of Gondwana, deep in the Southern Hemisphere. So, to get from South America to Australia, marsupials must have passed over what is now Antarctica. Prediction: There should be fossils dating between 30 and 40 million years in Antarctica.

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that, yes, there are marsupial fossils in Antarctica. And yes, they date from 35 to 40 million years in age. Again, a person has to believe in tremendous coincidence to reject this evidence. Geologists independently concluded that Gondwana existed and how it separated, and at roughly what times this all happened. Biologists then concluded that, if evolution is true, marsupial fossils must be presented in a particular location. They were right. Only in the light of evolution does this make sense.

Coyne goes on to explain islands, which I may address in the future. For now, I will leave the evidence at this point. The tremendously short attention span of people – creationists and rationalists alike – forces my hand.