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Monthly Archives: September 2008

On an episode of a Christian radio program The Things That Matter Most, William Lane Craig spoke on the subject of ‘Is God Real or Imaginary?’ Of course, being a theist, Craig posits that God is real. Fine, but what follows disgusted me to no end, as Christian apologetics in regards to atrocities assigned to his minions in the Old Testament are wont to do.

About 9 min into the show, Craig tries to explain why he feels Dan Barker’s journey to atheism is wrong. He seems to think the problem lies in a rigid belief that the Bible is inerrant, and once that rigid position is broken it is more reasonable to believe that the Bible may be wrong here and there than to cross over to the ‘Dark Side’ known as atheism…

‘The Bible is not an accurate record of what God is like, that the ancient Israelites in writing these narratives got it wrong about God.’ 

OK. If the Bible is wrong about God, how can he speak about God in an authoritative way at all? If the Bible is NOT inerrant, then you must pick and choose what you want to believe and there is no basis which is not arbitrary! This is just nonsense. His suggestion that this is an argument against the inerrancy of the Bible and not the existence of God is correct, but he doesn’t go to the obvious conclusion that if the Bible is wrong here and there, and you do not know exactly where or how many of these places there are, you have to throw the whole thing out. In fact, Craig throws the Old Testament out, but as we’ll see, he arbitrarily claims that the New Testament is okay even though it suffers from exactly the same issues.

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There are many out there that refuse to accept that the same science which is used to convict criminals can also be used to demonstrate conclusively that humans evolved from common ancestors with chimpanzees, which evolved from common ancestors with great apes, etc. Very strange, since lay people are so trusting of the former. I’m going to write here about a story about one gene, out of the many thousands of similar stories in our genome, the NANOG gene. For those that are interested in molecular studies of evolution, with particular reference to human evolution, I strongly recommend Daniel Fairbanks Relics of Eden. This is a great primer for how molecular biology is applied to the problem of evolution. The following information is contained within Chapter 5 and Appendix 1 of Relics of Eden.

What is NANOG?

NANOG is a homeobox gene which encodes a transcription factor critical in development. In other words, it is a regulatory gene. The products of this gene allow cultured stem cells to divide indefinitely without differentiation (to become specialized cell types). It becomes activated shortly after conception.

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I’ve grown up believing that you should not speak ill of anyone, but then, I don’t lie, either. The subject of this blog is Kent Hovind, or ‘Dr. Dino’; a man that, without ever having met, I completely loathe. No, it goes beyond that, and I will now tell you why.

Yesterday, I downloaded a debate that was made available on the Infidel Guy website between Mr. Kent Hovind and Dr. Massimo Pigliucci which originally aired in 2001. Dr. Pigliucci most ably defended evolution with a great deal more patience than I would have had. I have little patience for stupidity (which is why I never found ‘Friends’ funny at all) and have to fight the urge to stop my hand from smacking topside of the head anyone suffering from this all too common affliction. Mr. Hovind would receive a great deal less gentle attention in my presence.

It is apparent that Mr. Hovind is unhappy at being called ‘Mr.’ and feels that his ‘degree’ from an unaccredited university demands that the title ‘Dr.’ be used when addressing him:

‘… I have a doctor’s degree also, though it’s not from an accredited university but I don’t think that matters…’ 

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Today I’m going to blog about something that I actually have some expertise in, for once. This has been a blog a long time in coming, an idea that came from an especially bad argument someone defending the existence of the supernatural: Science can’t measure everything therefore it is unreasonable to dismiss the existence of the supernatural. This is backwards logic. Since by definition one can have no knowledge of the supernatural, discussing the topic as if any knowledge about it can be had is irrelevant. One example this person gave me refuting the ability of science to measure everything was in the form of a question: ‘How can I know that I love my wife?’

There are several things wrong about this example, which underscore the problem with the argument itself. Indeed, Science can’t measure everything – at the moment. The implication of the above statement is that if something like emotion can’t be quantified by any current method available, then it will never be measureable. A bold statement indeed, especially in light of the second premise behind the above challenge which is itself incorrect. Not only can I indeed demonstrate that I love my wife, I have access to the equipment to do so.

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The origin of life problem is perhaps the most important question to ever have been the focus of scientific scrutiny. The only other question that I think rates of similar importance is the origin of the universe. Both questions have special obstacles to overcome before any answers are within sight.

The Miller-Urey experiment of the 50s was a lightningrod for research into this question, but the euphoria caused by the viewpoint that the answers were near quickly receded once the scope of the problem was realized and it was decades before the excitement was rekindled in the scientific world. It’s no surprise that the search is a difficult one. Remember, researchers are trying to compress the millions of years that undoubtedly were required for nature to give life a kick start into the lifespan of humans. Couple this with only a limited knowledge of what the conditions were at the time life started except in the grossest terms with the possibility that trace elements may be essential for the synthesis of life greatly compounds the issue. Anyone thinking that if life arose through naturalistic processes means it should be both easy, and that a mere 50 years of research should have resulted in the creation of protolife really doesn’t have a good grasp of the scope of the problem.

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Here we go again. From the local CTV affiliate….

HPV vaccine nixed in local Catholic schools

Updated: Wed Sep. 24 2008 22:53:00

ctvcalgary.ca

The Calgary Catholic School District passed a motion Wednesday night to refuse to offer the HPV vaccine in its schools, making it the second school board in Alberta to do so.

Six out of seven board trustees voted in favour of opting out of giving the controversial vaccine to its grade five female students. The board says it’s following the Alberta Bishop’s spiritual guidance on the issue.

Last Friday Alberta Catholic School trustees met with one Bishop to talk about the vaccine which offers protection against sexually transmitted disease.

The Chair of the Calgary Catholic Board, Margaret Belcourt told CTV News parents will receive two letters, one from the Bishop stating his position and one from Alberta Health officials informing them about the vaccine.

‘The Bishop felt it was a moral issue and that might make schools, Catholic schools appear to be condoning pre-marital sex. We are saying, if parents felt that it’s a health issue and not a moral issue, then the parents can make that decision.’, says Belcourt.

The decision will affect grade five students in 83 schools within the Calgary Catholic School District.

The St.Thomas Aquinas school board near Edmonton is the first to refuse to offer the vaccine to its students.

CTV News spoke with Alberta Health officials Wednesday; they say any school board can opt out of providing the HPV vaccine.

Health officials are looking at other ways to make the vaccine available to students.

If someone would actually show me the data that HPV vaccinations promote premarital sex, I’d shut up. But then we’re dealing with an institution that recklessly claims (again without presenting any data whatsoever) that condoms are ineffective in the fight against AIDS. This is ONLY a health issue. Honestly, the only moral issue I see was created artificially by this demonstration of wanton disregard for their children’s health and welfare. I find it incomprehensible that the Catholic School Board would abrogate their responsibilities to the welfare of their wards because some bishop is worried how giving their students the HPV vaccination will look. I think they should be far more worried about how this needless risk-taking will appear to the public. Some trustees they are!

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