Down the creationist rabbit hole

I don’t normally go to creationist blogs looking for fights, but when a church posted a little animated video yesterday, titled, “Evolution is impossible, really funny!!” temptation got the better of me. At any rate, it’s an opportunity to share something really cool (if you don’t already know about Tiktaalik roseae, the “fishapod”) and to say something about the peculiar style of argumentation that’s become common among evangelicals.

The post is here, with a video that features a cartoon fish who gets the idea to jump up on land and evolve into humans. As the fish flops around helplessly on dry land, the ‘camera’ pulls back to reveal the bones of other fish who have apparently tried the same thing.

Ha, ha! See? Evolution is impossible! A fish would die on dry land!

I rolled my eyes. I grew up with this kind of pat-yourself-on-the-back ignorance. Continue reading

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Freedom and regret

“For we are free—free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place.”

—Richard Adams, The Plague Dogs Continue reading

What do these countries know that the US doesn’t?

I’ll give you a hint: I don’t think it’s a lack of video games or a surplus of religiosity.

As with the health care debate, what’s so frustrating about the US gun control debate is this country’s stubborn refusal to learn from the rest of the world, as if the US is so special that what works for everyone else won’t work for us. Continue reading

The meaning of life … as seen from high altitude

Detail of the "Pale Blue Dot" photo, showing Earth as seen from Voyager 1. Via Wikimedia Commons

Detail of the “Pale Blue Dot” photo, showing Earth as seen from Voyager 1. NASA, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve heard the claim from Christians—that atheism strips life of its meaning. No divine plan, no eternity, only the finality of death. How could you find joy in such a pointless existence? Why even get out of bed in the morning? This is a subjective question, but let me explain how I look at it. An analogy came to me while I was looking down from an upper-story window onto a snow-covered lawn.

Someone had trampled a message into the snow, “I [heart] U,” and I realized that while you probably couldn’t read the words from the sidewalk, you could see them perfectly from a fifth floor window. In fact, I realized the whole lawn could best be read from here. I saw neat lines of crisscrossing footprints and could tell where each walker was heading, and with what stride. I saw clumps of ornamental grass bent down under the weight of the snow… a feral cat disappearing leisurely into the bushes… a squirrel racing up a tree… a young woman talking animatedly on her phone, holding it with one hand and gesturing with the other, smiling, and then hanging up and walking on quietly, hands stilled… another squirrel racing up that same tree. Continue reading

Domino’s Pizza and the fight over contraception

I was getting ready to write an angry post about Domino’s Pizza, whose founder is suing the federal government over the Obamacare contraception coverage mandate. The Associated Press reports:

Tom Monaghan, a devout Roman Catholic, says contraception isn’t health care but a “gravely immoral” practice.

He filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court. It also lists as a plaintiff Domino’s Farms, a Michigan office park complex that Monaghan owns.

Monaghan offers health insurance that excludes contraception and abortion for employees. The new federal law requires employers to offer insurance including contraception coverage or risk fines.

Monaghan says the law violates his rights, and is asking a judge to strike down the mandate. There are similar lawsuits pending nationwide.

Continue reading

Why Everyone Should Believe in Santa Claus

Santa1Santa2 Continue reading

Is the Bible’s jealous god an accident of history?

God the Father, by Ludovico Mazzolino, via Wikimedia Commons

God the Father, by Ludovico Mazzolino, via Wikimedia Commons

In a previous post I wrote about the story of Noah and the Curse of Ham (which has nothing to do with the Old Testament prohibition against eating pork!). That a curse could determine a people’s fate for generations is part of the biblical notion that God shapes history. In fact, history shaped God to reflect the fears and political realities of ancient Israel. The result is the Bible’s “jealous” God… an idea that influences history to this day.

Noah’s curse fell on Ham’s son, Canaan, whose descendants had the misfortune of occupying the Promised Land without being God’s Chosen People, and were therefore slaughtered. It doesn’t change anything that this is mostly nationalistic fiction written centuries later. Simply read as a story, the tales of the conquest of Canaan are part of a sensibility that shapes the entire Old Testament and its portrayal of God. A few highlights show what I mean: Continue reading