Sana Saeed and Salon Muddles Science, Name-Drops Richard Dawkins for Clicks:

By now, you are all used to the headline style.  Some online rag finds a religious defender who writes an article wholly unrelated to Richard Dawkins and anything he actually said or did, but leads in with a headline that screams his name like a cat in heat (and later in the article lists the other usual suspects) just to set up a big, fat strawman to rail against and gain clicks while ranting and spouting inanities.

Salon writer Sana Saeed; Muslim and budding Islamic apologist, has picked up this bad habit rather quickly in a rambling article whining against ‘New Atheists’ (as opposed to what?  Old atheism?  Did the ‘old’ atheists refer only to Zeus or something?) and claiming (through nothing but a one-person anecdotal story) that religion can’t possibly be in conflict with science because she liked science fairs as a kid or something.

Ok, Saeed ‘busts out’ a bit more than that.  She also drags out the trope that Islam was once a vast center of science and culture (yes we know; then it entered into its own Dark Ages a bit later than we in the West did and began to spend lots of time blowing all that culture up.  Today that trope is pretty irrelevant.  Lets not forget that much of that science and philosophy was developed by Western slaves, servants and dhimmis in the ’employ’ of Islamic courts).  Sure, there are shiny modern parts of the Middle East, and they are something to be rightfully proud of…and every one of them is modern in spite of Islam and big, fat targets for extremists everywhere.  Then there is Turkey, a nation that had to ban Islam outright to achieve modernity.

Regardless, the idea here is a pretty common claim; that science actually owes its advances, if not its very existence to religion, and early scientists were all religious.

Well, so what?  Budding proto-scientists had to be religious.  There simply wasn’t any other choice in the Middle Ages, and new ways of thinking were just re-emerging.  If you lived in the West in western science’s formative years you had to be a Catholic (or a Protestant in later ages, although for some time that was a death sentence if the authorities found out) and in the Eastern world one was more or less either Greek Orthodox Christian or of one of the Islamic sects.  A few slaves and scattered communities of other faiths (and the Jewish people of course, and look how both cultures treated them) were exceptions that proved the rule.  But original thinkers of all stripes were persecuted and killed by both religions, and when a coherent voice for atheism was formed, that too was immediately attacked and atheists were persecuted and even killed wherever they were found, right up to the enlightenment and beyond.  The list of great men killed in the name of original inquiry by Christians is profoundly sad, but the number of nameless men and women not remembered in the timeline of history is truly appalling.  Whole towns of original thinkers were slaughtered in the name of religion, such as the Cathers of the south of France.  Whole nations were decimated by the missionaries and conquistadors.  Whole cultures were converted by force, such as parts of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean by Islam and Saxon tribes by Christians.

Science itself was of course, just beginning to develop its methods during the Middle Ages, after suffering a bit of a set-back since the Greeks and Romans began developing it.  It disappeared almost entirely in Europe, replaced with secretive guilds that hoarded knowledge for the Church’s exclusive use, and the rote learning of fixed and officially-approved knowledge taught at universities (such as certain aspects of the blood circulation system which people could see for themselves was dead wrong every time a corpse was dissected.  But to say so meant imprisonment, torture, death).  All of this was controlled and regulated by the Church (Islamic universities were somewhat better but again, their ‘little set-back’ came later).

Italian universities for example, were strictly controlled; only teachers were allowed to even touch books from the Index of Forbidden Books, and could teach from them only to refute them.  The inquisition strictly monitored both teachers and students, demonstrated by the fate of Pomponio Algerio (1531–1556), a civil law students who was killed by the inquisition for his attitude of free inquiry.  In a time when early forms of Protestant movements were growing in number, he wrote that:

“… the Roman Catholic Church is a particular Church and no Christian should restrict himself to any particular Church. This Church deviates in many things from truth.”

At his trial, he wore his student’s robes to remind the Church that as a student, he was supposed to have the right to free expression.  Apparently, the Church saw things differently.  They boiled him in oil.  It is said that he took 15 minutes to die, and kept his composure the whole time.

The point is that both in the West and in the East, people were in the middle of a process; a process of growing away from strictly religious thinking and towards a more secular world view.  This left many people trapped in two worlds, so to speak.  To say that these people were ‘Christian’ or ‘Islamic’ is to oversimplify what was happening.  Many of these people had heretical ideas of what Christianity or Islam was all about.  Others may have been outright unbelievers, but for the sake of their heads, they kept their silence.  Still others were perfectly devout, but understood that religion alone couldn’t provide the answers to their inquiries, and that’s the key to understanding how one could be religious and still work in fields that conflict with religiosity.  It’s the ability to compartmentalize different ways of thinking, just like an anti-capitalist can still operate in a capitalist society–because they have to.

Their really is a conflict between science and religion (of any kind), but religionists get it completely wrong by thinking of it in terms of a war or battle (like they always do when criticized).  Its the claims that are in conflict, and it is the methods that the two fields use to come to those claims that are incompatible.  Revealed knowledge can never arrive at any form of truth, save by accident.  This is because, at the very least, it is impossible to verify the truth of what a ‘revealer’ says.  A prophet could by lying, a faith-healer may be sincere but deluded, a visionary might have been on drugs and hallucinating at the time; we just cannot know, and without some real means of independent verification, revealed knowledge can never hold a candle to the scientific method, which does provide the means of independent verification, faith or no faith.

This isn’t to say that there are no actual battles that pit the two concepts against each other.  Creationists are certainly waging an organized, high-stakes battle against evolution, and we fail to take this battle seriously at our peril.  Christian Evangelists did a great deal to hold back stem cell research in the U.S. costing many lives and putting us behind other countries.  I don’t need to talk about Catholics and Aids, and Islamic groups target schools all over the Middle East and Africa.

We certainly can’t wax all poetic and dream that both concepts sit all chummy and comfortable side-by-side, like the way that religious moderates like Saeed want to present the situation.  When Saeed and people like her present their own stories and go on about how they don’t understand where this ‘conflict thesis’ comes from, they either don’t get the concept, or they are being intellectually dishonest.  What they don’t get is that they are nobodies–completely irrelevant.

When adults talk about a complex situation, they often take verbal shortcuts by making generalizations.  Both sides of the discussion; if they are being honest, understand this, and come to the table knowing what main terms and concepts mean.  So when we say, “science and religion’ are in conflict, we understand that by ‘science’ and ‘religion’, we are talking about the leadership and powerful, influential members of a church or scientific institutions, or the claims made by many people from these disciplines, or any official doctrines or dogma that may be relevant, but not the rank and file and moderate nobodies, although there are plenty of nobodies that have no problem supporting extremists, and plenty of useful indoctrinated idiots willing to do the work of religious leaders for them; just recently, excavations from as late as the 17th century revealed the body of an astrologer stoned to death by an oh-so-moral mob after accusations of rape and black magic were leveled at an astrologer.  This type of mob law (perpetrated overwhelmingly for moral and religious reasons) was far too common in the Middle Ages and often left unrecorded.  It the main though, we are talking about the small group of people with the ability to directly shape their institutions.  In the case of religion, overwhelmingly, these people embody the criticisms that New Atheists level at religion.  Just look at Bill Donahue or Pat Robertson.   Even the new Pope, for all his liberal ideas, is almost medieval in his thinking when it comes to the right to criticize religion.

So, if you are the type who goes around wailing about how atheists ‘have childish definitions of religion’, maybe you need to look a little closer to home.  Unless they actually did provide a definition, it says more about you than it does about atheists when you are the one providing that definition by accusing others of having it.  If you don’t ‘get’ the generalization, you don’t deserve a place at the table yet; go back to reading.  At least atheists engage with the actual religious texts directly.  It seems that ‘sophisticated theologians’ of any faith just make up whatever they feel like when an atheist is in the room and then returns to the definition of religion we all know damn well once they leave.  All that ‘God’ is big and unknowable malarkey is just that.  Neither Christians nor Muslims believe in Pantheism, and we all know it.

Getting back to science itself, Sana Saeed all out gushes about Islamic ‘science’ as if their ridiculous claims about science are somehow better than Christianity’s outlandish claims.  For her big example, she makes much of Al-Tusi’s ‘theory’ of evolution, that denies that humans are related to apes and argues some kind of learned hereditary inheritance.  She further writes of Al-Tusi’s theories:

“Al-Tusi’s discussion on biological evolution and the relationship of synchronicity between animate and inanimate objects is stunning in its observational precision as well as its fusion with theistic considerations. Yet it is, at best, unacknowledged today in the Euro-centric conversation on religion and science. Why?”

I propose that the West doesn’t ignore this theory out of Eurocentric considerations.  Perhaps the West ignores Al-Tusi because his theories are a muddled mish-mash of unscientific woo mixed with mythology and stories of genies and elemental monsters.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe Western scientists are just jealous and want to engage in a vast conspiracy to suppress religious-based science (a pretty good feat of cooperation when they are all competing against one another).  But if you want to be taken seriously as science, one must play by the rules of the scientific method.  If Al-Tusi ever used “observational precision” to see fire-monsters, I want to know how others can verify this (or a list of ingredients from his pipe!)  There were many others who theorized that organisms evolved; both in the East and West.  We don’t talk much about them because they were wrong and Darwin was right.

One last thing; Saeed makes a big point about how ‘free’ she is as a woman thanks to Islam.  I would really like to see those “Quranic verses and references from the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad” that ‘prove’ that Islam doesn’t subjugate women.  I followed the link she provided, and just found an article about her father where she once again references her ‘rights’ as a woman (ala the Quran, of course) without actually mentioning what those rights happen to be (why should you even need the Quran if they are rights?).

 

 

 

Ken Ham Shakes Fist at Those Damn Atheists:

By Rev. Lance Luther:

Ken Ham, visibly red; sweat pouring down from his face and his shirt collar loose and partially undone, raised his fist defiantly to the air and screamed to the very heavens:  “Damn you, you ungodly atheists!!  Damn you all to Hell!!!”

Some people who witnessed the event swore that there was an ear-splitting crack of thunder as Ham shouted those words, and that lightning played across the well-known creationist’s fist, but most observers admitted that it was a sunny day with birds singing and a slight breeze lightly blowing across the lands that make up the Ark Encounters theme park, where Ham made his statements to the press.

Vowing revenge of Biblical proportions, Ham has stated that he intends to sue the State of Kentucky over his right to receive $81 Million dollars in order to build a giant toy boat with,  while discriminating against workers.  “I wasn’t going to do that, I WASN’T!!!  I WASN’T!!!” Ham exclaimed, jumping up and down while pumping his fists, with busts of steam coming out of his ears and great clouds of earth rising up around him.  “I was only going to discriminate against people over at the secular bits of my museum!”

So now Ham is claiming that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is violating Ham’s god-given–I mean, constitutional right to deny employment to anyone that isn’t Ham’s kind of Christian…the stupid kind.  Ham’s lawyers, not familiar with the difference between a church and a for-profit business, insist that Ark Encounters should be able to discriminate, like ‘all other religious organizations do’ and to do otherwise would “change their identity,” not only making the state’s case for them, but also accidentally implying that religions are inherently discriminatory.  It’s like God created a stupid-bomb and set if off around everyone involved with the Creation Museum and Ark Encounters.

Seeking the opinion of some of Ham’s competition, I spoke to Pope Methuselah Leroy about Ham’s attitude.  Pope Leroy is the old fella up the way who awoke one day to a vision that told him he was Christ’s real, bad-ass vicar on Earth and then commanded him to make a giant five story tree-house church out of nothing but old tires.  He said that Ham should just “Quit his hollarin’.  I didn’t get no million-dollar grant and I did just fine.  Jesus provides, remember?  There’s plenty of free timber at the town junk yard, and nails are all over the place.  Watch out for the dogs though.”

But Ham would hear nothing of good old Christian self-reliance.  Instead he erected a cruel and terrible revenge upon the atheists…a billboard that made them all laugh out loud.  One atheist was reduced to tears.  Once he had recovered he was finally able to gasp feebly, “Sink this ship…”, before collapsing to the ground again.  “Ken Ham couldn’t do better if he had channeled the spirit of Robin Williams!”

Credit: Ark Encounters
Credit: Ark Encounters

Nationwide, those atheists were up to even more shenanigans.  It wasn’t enough to put up those mocking Satanic displays in Florida (praise be to the brave ‘Christian Warrior’ who saved us all from that threat), or to help some evil Muslim woman in Ohio sue the Cuyahoga County Jail for forcing her to attend Christian services.  This is just a small sample of the evils that atheists have allowed to propagate across the land over the last few months.

Now those dirty atheists are going after our precious Homeland Security laws, along with a Kentucky plaque placed at the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort that actually, according to Ham, “requires Kentucky’s Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can’t keep the state safe without God’s help.”  Because apparently, an invisible man who is never around and never heard to issue orders is the commander and chief of all of our military (which would explain a lot, actually).

Yes, Ham has taken to the internet with a withering expose on how those atheists are trying to get rid of part of a Kentucky state anti-terrorism law that comes dangerously close to providing a legal framework for a state religion (although it makes no mention of any particular specific religion, thankfully).  Both the law and the plaque in question, (which partially reads that national security, “…cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God.”), “…is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I’ve ever seen,” according to Edwin F. Kagin, the national legal director of  American Atheists Inc (based out of Parsippany, N.J.).  In his brilliant condemnation of the atheists, Ken Ham notes that Ed Kagin lives in the same region as himself and the Creation Museum, has been persecuting poor Ham and his loony bin–ah, museum, for years, and that–oops!  His address is 2800 Evilton Ave, Petersburg, KY 41080 and his private number is (588) 582-4253 and it sure would be a shame if that infidel unbelieving heathen were to be harassed or something….

On the other side of the issue, Dem. Rep. Tom Riner said, “No government by itself can guarantee perfect security.  There will always be this opposition to the acknowledgment of divine providence, but this is a foundational  understanding of what America is.”  Apparently, Riner failed to understand that 9/11 was a far cry from “perfect Safety”.  Where was divine providence then?  Where was God’s protection then?  Did he only begin his job as protector after Kentucky passed a law and made a shiny plaque?  What about the wounded veterans?  Didn’t they deserve ‘perfect safety’?  And since we are talking about ‘perfect’ safety and protection, as in God-like levels of perfection, shouldn’t our reputation and standing as a nation have been completely untarnished after events in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc?  After all, a shining reputation makes a nation safer than a tarnished one does.

On the other hand, maybe God let 9/11 happen on purpose, just so Kentucky could pass this law and God could get his official ‘in’ as the Grand Poo-bah of the military.  A spiritual ‘coup’ or false flag operation, if you will.  After all, he works in mysterious ways and all that, at least he does whenever Christians can’t think of an easy justification.

Anyways, the forces of Satan and the children of iniquity have been busy in Kentucky.  The atheists may mean well, based on their twisted, immoral little ideologies, but for each legal success they obtain that doesn’t replace religion with something at least as absolutist in its place, the rotten fruit of agnosticism creeps closer and closer.  Without God’s protection in our military, we might have to actually think about our motivations and goals.  Where’s the percentage in that?  Then there’s $81 Million bucks for an oversize wooden boat that will without a single doubt be causing accidents and injuries as it falls apart around the customers due to shoddy workmanship, construction shortcuts and funds diverted to offshore accounts and religious coffers.  Without that noble monument…ummm…ah…uhh, well….damn.

I can’t think of a single thing that anyone would lose if that eyesore never gets made.

Rev. Lance Luther

Lance Luther was born to a father who was a snake-handling Baptist from Warren, MI and a Louisiana Puritan mother who practiced Macumba on the side that made him do chores all day until Luther realized he could get his 13 brothers and sisters to do them for him if he collapsed to the ground, drooled, and made random noises while inserting ‘instructions’ to his siblings.  He never looked back and embarked upon his career as the Reverend of the ‘First Reformed Protestant of the Lost Lamb With the Swinging Sword and the Holy Spook with (Redacted)’, or the ‘Holy Swingers’ or ‘Swingers for the Lamb’ for short.

Noting the need for religious reform in America (too many laws that restricted the flow of money into Luther’s wallet), Luther penned his massive, monumental, brilliant, opus, ‘Manifesto Against the Protestant Work Ethic and a Call for a New ‘Murican Reformation’.  On a day that came to called ‘The Great Day of Reform’ among Luther’s followers, and ‘Sunday morning’ among everyone else, Luther had a copy of his manuscript nailed to every church door in the U.S. where they promptly blew away.  

Luther is currently involved in re-writing his greatest work (he forgot to keep a copy–forethought isn’t a prophet’s greatest strength) and calling for legislation to drug test babies before their mothers can be eligible for food stamps.  He also heads C.R.A.S.S.S. the Christians Response Alert for Silly Stories in School which advocates the teaching of alternative theories to evolution–but only if those theories are absolutist.     

He formed C.A.A.C.A. with Professor Richard Sqauwkins after a two week-long flame war that left both sides convinced that the real enemy of mankind is uncertainty.    

 

The 18 Million-Dollar Church & State Bitchslap:

Ken Ham’s Pet Ark project (known as the Ark Encounter; his proposed Noah’s Ark-based theme park under pseudo-construction in Kentucky, of all places) has hit a snag–the ‘museum’s’ hiring practices are clearly discriminatory and a violation of Federal Law because Ham insists on running it as a for-profit business (How some churchey-types just LOVE taking from Caesar).

ArkEncounter002
Pictured: Reality Credit: Ark Encounters

 

This minor detail has brought down the ire of both atheists, such as Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and secular/religious Church/State separation supporters, such as Americans United.  You see, Ham recently applied for a 18 million dollar tourism tax incentive, which was granted preliminary acceptance (how it got that far is scandalous enough, but Rev. Luther is drooling all over the keyboard at the possibilities).  Now, the Project’s proposal has been turned down.

The proposal went adrift because Ham and his fellow creationists forced potential new hires to sign a declaration of faith before they can climb aboard and set sail.  When the storm moved in, secular groups were forced to drop the anchor and try to make Ham walk the plank.

Ham, of course denies everything and insists that the religious oath was only meant for the non-profit part of the project–like designing the Ark, the religious object everyone is going to be looking at if this Turkey flies (boat ever gets christened?).  You can see some of the actual job postings over at Dan Arel’s Patheos blog, Danthropology.

In related news, the Ark Encounters website just ran a feature on a crocaduck.

Updates as the tide comes in.
C.A.A.C.A. got the story from Faith Street, http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/