Expelled Redux!

Duped over at Dangerous Intersection.

They’ve started advertising the DVD version of that infernal, mendacious, highly offensive, wilfully ignorant and misleading waste of megabytes known as Expelled. Bay of Fundie has scratched the surface of their advertising and revealed some new information.Now, given that this is the DVD release of Expelled, it makes me wonder what kind of special features they’ll include. Of course noone can know for sure, but I have something of a wish list:

– a complete timeline of all the steps taken & communication entered into to secure the participation of such people as Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers, including a full explanation for the stark deviation from the premise of the original film: it was originally presented to Myers & Dawkins as a documentary named “Crossroads”, detailing the intersection of religion & science, which it clearly did not turn out to be, either by name or nature

– full, uncut, unedited interviews with the abovenamed

– a full explanation from the film’s producers of PZ Myer’s own expulsion from a screening of Expelled by security staff before he’d entered the theatre, despite the fact that he’d registered to attend under his own name and hadn’t attempted any kind of subterfuge, as was alleged early on by the producers (as well as an explanation of how Richard Dawkins, arguably more recognisable than PZ Myers, was allowed to enter unmolested)

– behind-the-scenes segments showing such things as exactly who comprised the audience in Ben Stein’s opening, paranoid address to college “students”and a clear explanation of Adolf Hitler’s alleged use Darwin’s theory of evolution to justify his horrific experiments

– a demonstration that the producers of this film – and Ben Stein himself – actually understand what the theory of evolution says and, importantly, what it doesn’t say: Stein is on record stating that evolution can’t explain certain astronomical phenomena & processes, apparently ignorant of the fact that evolution only applies to terrestrial biological diversity

– an explanation of how “micro-evolution” differs from “macro-evolution”, followed by an explanation of how a lit match can’t start a bushfire

– an actual clear-cut, definitive definition of the theory of Intelligent Design, the predictions made by this theory and why this theory requires equal time in science classes (see below)

– results of any actual research into & testing of ID’s predictions, including such information as the identity or even intent of the “designer” and the reason for the many, glaring inefficiencies, inconsistencies and illogicalities in biological “designs” from all branches of life. This should be presented by one or a combination of (but not limited to) the following high-profile design proponents: Michael Behe, William Dembski, Casey Luskin, Phillip Johnston & we mustn’t (nor will we ever) forget Ben Stein.

– a full explanation of the “controversy” that Stein & co wish to be taught to children, as it appears that the only controversy regarding the veracity of evolutionary theory is the one Stein & his partners in this endeavour have manufactured

– actual, scientific rebuttals of (or even credible challenges to) any aspect or aspects of the theory of evolution – without resorting to paranoid conspiracy theories or sweeping, unsupportable statements about “Big Science”

– an explanation of Stein’s infamous remark from an interview on a Christian TV programme: “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.”

– an explanation of how Intelligent Design is not based on (or simply is) Biblical creationism & an explanation of the actions of the obviously religiously motivated members of the Dover, PA school board (and their supporters from the Discovery Institute, authors of the infamous and clearly religiously-based “Wedge Document”) which led to the famous trial of 2004

– a justification for singling out Darwinian evolution for special attention, while other fields such as Newtonian physics and Copernican astronomy each contradict Scripture in various ways but are (for the most part) left unmolested and uncontested by religionists

– one good reason why teaching children their parents’ religion shouldn’t just stay in Scripture classes, Sunday schools, churches and the family home and one good reason why it should be taught as fact alongside evidence-based science when, as is repeated often, religion & belief is a matter of faith, which by definition means “accepting a proposition without evidence”

Of course, it’s all wishful thinking on my part. But no more so than Stein & Co’s insistence that “Big Science” persecutes & expels religious professors for dissenting views, that “Darwinism” is a one-way street to concentration camps or, indeed, the insistence of many ID supporters that Big Religion played no part in attempting to usher Bible stories into science classes through the back door in violation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States.

I eagerly await my hopes to be dashed.

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I see I’m not the only one …

… who sees spooky parallels between Sarah Palin and Miss Teen South Carolina …

And once more with feeling:

Pironiro, Thunderf00t and Tina Fey: I love you all (but I only love Tina in that special creepy way).

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Tina Fey rules

You couldn’t make this stuff up – the delightful Ms Fey pretty much didn’t have to. Her ramble here is almost a carbon copy of Palin’s odd spiel during her interview with Katie Couric (whose expression didn’t shift very far from “what the hell is this clown on about – am I at the Miss Carolina pageant?”

"Your problem is with God, not me…"

A Dangerous Intersection post of mine (a duplicate of this one here) attracted, surprisingly for me, a quick splash of comments from users. One born-again young-earth creationist respondent, a Mr Brewer, after pasting the usual slabs of fundie garbage & evangelist catchphrases, decided it would be ok to label me “depraved” (precisely, that I had a depraved or useless mind) because I’m not down with Jesus (I was already familiar with Brewer’s work as we’d had a brief stoush in a post of Erich Vieth’s about sex education. A pet project for fundamentalist ignorance and arse-backwardness, their stance on sex-ed amounts to “don’t tell ’em how to do it safely, just tell ’em not to do it at all.” Right. Worked a treat for Bristol Palin). And, yes, being called “depraved” annoyed me somewhat, as my responses no doubt indicate. So I bit back a couple of times. Who is this guy to judge & insult me because I disagree with him? At least I was only trying to, respectfully but firmly, smack his arguments (such as they were) down without resorting to insulting the guy.

But, really, being insulted (someone who thinks the entire planet is younger than verbal communication, the discovery of agriculture and the domestication of animals, no less, thinks my mind is useless?) wasn’t the problem. I can cop an insult, and “depraved” is pretty mild. Even so, I called him on it and pointed out that it’s not how grownups talk to each other. I didn’t expect an apology – at best, a cessation of such ad hominems in further posts would have been perfectly acceptable. Anyway, instead of an “ok, fine” or even just ignoring it and moving on (which would have been fine), he did it again. But this time he offered a justification – that it’s God who thinks my mind is useless. My problem shouldn’t be with Brewer whipping insults around the place in place of actual arguments, it should be with God. “Hey, don’t blame me, talk to God about it! It’s not me who thinks you’re depraved, it’s God. I’m just passing on his message. You can choose not to be depraved by accepting Christ! Gee, I’m sorry if you took offence at being insulted but hey, again, take it up with the Lord. I just want to help you poor pitiful atheists find Jesus because I care about you!” (I paraphrase here, but that’s the thrust).

Interesting, Mr Brewer. Even though it’s you who thought it and typed it and clicked “post” (repeatedly), it’s not your fault. The depravity – the “useless minds” – of all atheists might not necessarily be what you yourself truly believe but because you think God thinks it, you have a duty to pass it on for our own sake because you care … which is about the most gutless, laughable, pathetic and classically fundamentalist piece of rank bullshit I’ve ever heard. It’s on a par with “the devil made me do it!” as a complete abdication of personal responsibility. It’s a classic passing of the buck to someone who is completely unaccountable (and, to throw in my extra tuppence, whose existence is so gargantuanically improbable that it’s more or less safe to say he’s non-existent, or at least completely uninterested). You might think it’s okay, as many fundies do, to just throw shit like that out there and absolve yourself of any responsibility by hiding behind your god’s apron. “It’s God’s word, talk to him about it.” Or, in more accurate parlance, “Don’t blame me, blame my secret friend. He did it!”. Hey, it worked when you were six, why not keep it up?

I guess your average fundie clown would see this kind of thing as an epic win: you get to call the nasty old atheist whatever you want, be it “depraved”, “immoral”, “stained with sin” or whatever else you want to paste in the comments box from your weekly, talking-point filled email from Answers In Genesis or Ray “Watch Me Wank This Banana” Comfort or Ken “Not That Much Smarter Than A Leg Of” Ham. Then, if anyone gets shitty you can just say “Don’t blame me my friend, that’s just what God says.” Ha!

OK, I’m trying not to harp here. This isn’t a BAWW because some troll called me a name. Like I said, I’ve had worse. This is just a simple, honest Fuck You because the guy weaseled out of it by laying blame at the feet of his God who, conveniently, isn’t the kind who just answers you when you say “Oi, what’s this shit about me being depraved?” Shit, if you’re going to insult someone, have the balls to stand by it and accept whatever response you get and not refer me to your manager. Seriously, if you’re going to stand there, insult a person and say “oh no, it’s not me, it’s God” then you can go fuck yourself. Such blatant hypocrisy is a lot more insulting than an actual insult.

It’s really very amusing, and pitiful, in hindsight. Being accused of having a useless mind by a guy who is so mindless he won’t even take responsibilty for his own words & who believes the Earth is 6000 years old despite centuries of evidence (evidence – remember that?) to the contrary is probably the best & clearest example of fundamentalist hypocrisy I’ve ever seen. Sticks & stones, Mr Brewer. Hell, not even your words faze me that much. Actions, though, are something different. When you accuse me of having a useless, depraved mind, deny your own mind as the source of your words and then attribute responsibility for those words to the mind of your god (who’s conveniently unavailable for comment), you reveal yourself either as the worst kind of cowardly liar, eager to absolve yourself of responsibility for your own actions and pass it on to someone who’s completely unaccountable, as a rank hypocrite or merely as an intellectual zombie – an empty vessel for the thoughts and opinions of others, be they your god, pastor, community or whoever it was who originally put that idea in your head.

To me, a truly useless mind is one that can be used by others for their own purposes as easily as yours seems to be, Mr Brewer. The pity I now feel for your empty mind is far more than any annoyance I previously felt at being insulted. I can think of no worse fate than being a mere vehicle for someone else’s bigotry and ignorance. If I had a religious bone in my body, I’d pray for you.

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Anglican Bishops assembles A-Team to combat Dawkins; I pity da fool

[RD.net]

Canterbury, England (ENI). The Anglican bishop of London, Richard Chartres, is to host a study day at St Paul’s Cathedral in the British capital to help clergy counter the influence of the scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins. A keynote speaker will be John Cornwell, the author of “Darwin’s Angel”, whose subtitle is, “An angelic riposte to ‘The God Delusion'”. Cornwell will advise clergy on how to respond to the claims of Dawkins at a time when the apparent polarisation between religion and science raises many questions for people of faith.

Schedule of events

“Oh, no, don’t go in there! What if Dawkins’ evil questions make you think about what you believe? Dear God, no!” What’s wrong with people learning to think for themselves and find their own answers, o wise clergy?

From the schedule:

11.05 am God Without the Gaps

One consequence of the current science and religion debate is that it makes theology appear reactive and defensive. Professor Keith Ward has for many years worked on developing a scientifically literate approach to theology. Today he goes beyond the ‘God of the gaps’ to explore a positive theological approach to science and its role in Christian formation.

Theology without resorting to “God of the gaps”? I’d honestly like to hear Professor Ward’s argument. Although, with him presumably being a professor of theology, I have no choice but to assume there’d be a laundry list of mental contortions on display. I’ve really encountered nothing but when reading or hearing theological arguments, even from those considered the “best” in their field. I suppose when your field can be summed up as “proving the unprovable” or “preaching to the converted in such a way as to flatter their intelligence & justifying their blind faith in an unsupportable idea” you’re not exactly starting in the fastest car on the grid.

2.00pm The Gospel according to Luke (Skywalker)?

Science plays an important part in fuelling our imagination though literature, films and television. In this session David Wilkinson, the author of The Power of the Force: The Spirituality of the Star Wars Films considers practical ways for clergy to communicate the Gospel using science fact and fiction in preaching and teaching. The session includes Q&A.

Well, first let me put on my giant nerd pants and say Star Wars isn’t science fiction. Space opera, science fantasy, a common swashbuckling pirate narrative transposed to space, really long commercials for toys, yes (especially the new ones), but not science fiction. Asimov, Banks, Clarke: these are true science fiction.

Nevertheless, this section would also be very interesting to see. Especially considering the recent Star Wars prequels, in which those Jedis or Sith Lords strong in the previously-referred-to-as-mystical “energy field” – the Force – now are revealed to simply be bursting with biochemicals known as “midichlorians”. Young Anakin Skywalker’s midichlorians were indeed “off the charts” which is seemingly the reason it was so hard for his master, Obi-Wan, to control him. So, instead of having a very strong bond with the energy field which binds everything in the Universe together, it now seems young Annie is reduced to being hyperactive & moody (& whiny – oh god the whining!) because of a gland problem. Maybe it was George W. Lucas’s attempt to inject the “fiction” with a bit more “science”.

So, the clergy is going to attempt to use the Force to combat Dawkins (and, presumably, all his little secular wizards).

Interesting as this segment might be, it still amounts to using fiction to justify fiction.

3.30pm Eureka! Science in liturgy

How can we bring science alive as a part of Christian liturgy, and the Gospel alive in the light of scientific understanding? In this session Lucy Winkett, Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral and David Wilkinson discuss practical ways in which the awe and wonder inspired by the natural world can be expressed in Christian worship.

How indeed? How to inject the facts of the universe into mythology? How to tint reality with fable? How about not doing that at all and just enjoying nature for its own sake? What is exactly so wrong with the awe and wonder of the natural world that you can’t simply enjoy it for what it is?

What I’d like to know is, are these guys going express awe over such wonders of nature such as HIV, ebola and ovarian cancer in Christian worship? Truly these are marvels of creation; tiny self-replicators able to spread rapidly and follow their design ruthlessly, often with proud, strong, intelligent humans standing by helplessly. Or are such inconvenient facts of life to be ignored? Really, if you’re going to use nature’s awesomeness as a way to exalt the Great One, you’re only doing half a job if you just concentrate on little kitties and baby giggles and waterfalls.

Humbug.

Greta C nails Palin

Greta Christina at the Blowfish Blog, in her typical straight-shootin’ style, nails down exactly why Caribou Barbie (aka Sarah Palin) is unfit to be Vice President – concerns about her pregnant unwed teenage daughter aside.

I think her main, crucial point – apart from everything else that’s completely retarded about McCain’s VP pick – is this:

[The Vice President’s] most important job is to be President if the President dies.

I can not imagine anyone more unqualified to be holding the codes to a staggering arsenal of nuclear weapons in the event of a serious military emergency than Sarah Palin. Neither can Matt Damon (no link for you! Google it :)).

Yes, people, all jokes aside, McCain is old. He’s 72 and he might freaking well DIE and leave Palin in charge (nominally, anyway) of the most powerful military in the world (it’s hard to imagine someone less qualified than George to run the US military, but fuck me – McCain found a DOOZY!). This is a woman who believes she lives in the End Times and that Armageddon’s just around the corner and soon Jesus will arrive in his gleaming gold battle-mech and lay waste to the Hellish legions of orcs and trolls and whatever else she and her apocalyptic pastors can imagine. Does America want this lackwit staring down North Korea or reacting to a terrorist dirty bomb? Sheesh. I like America. I like the Americans I’ve met & spoken to & befriended. I KNOW that there are smart people there. But if you allow this woman access to the West Wing, well, that’s it. You’ll officially be the fucking stupidest fucking country on Earth and will reap the rewards. You think life sucks under Bush? Let Palin in the Whitehouse and you won’t have seen nothin’ yet.

Seriously. I’m worried about you guys. Please, this time, for the love of all that’s good and decent, just vote with your brains & not with that part of you that thinks “Oh, she’s nice, I’d have lunch with her.” That’s what got you eight years of George!

Hey, isn’t it interesting how noone’s talking about John McCain anymore? Talk about making yourself irrelevant.

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Dangerous Intersection, indeed!

Erich Vieth over at Dangerous Intersection (the “DI” I don’t think are a pack of well-funded LIARS FOR JESUS), upon seeing a comment of mine aimed at a commenter of theirs in the comments of this post, kindly invited me to be a contributor.

I just published my first post over there – it’s a repost of my Ethics Gradient post “Why I am not an atheist” along with a small introduction.

I hope I can contribute in some small way to the continuing success & traffic of Dangerous Intersection. It’s one of the stops in my daily blog cruise and it’s quite an honour to be invited to contribute my, um, thoughts. I thank Erich for allowing me the opportunity and hope my future posts can justify his, um, faith in me …

Hank

PS: I’m dropping the “Mandrellian” tag at this blog but I’ll still be the sole contributor, unless I suddenly get swamped with traffic (lol?) at which point I’ll hire a helper monkey.

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