Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: August 2009

Well, I don’t like talking about Bill Donohue, but he does provide amusement when his can-do-no-wrong view of Catholicism is threatened, whether the threat is perceived or real. And it’s never real. His view is that the Church is above reproach and that any criticism, no matter how apt, is an act of oppression. Bullshit, Bill.

Speaking of Bill Donohue and bullshit (the two go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly…. Mmmmmm….), I am shocked that there is no obituary for Bill after the airing of the latest episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, which took the Church head on and pulled no punches. Unfortunately for Bill, there’s nothing in it which can’t be backed up.

Here’s Bill’s latest press release (which the rest of the world will – correctly – ignore):

MASS MAILING OF PENN & TELLER SHOW

August 31, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the latest developments regarding the Catholic League response to Penn & Teller’s incredible episode on Showtime last Thursday:

I was happy to finger CBS this morning on “Fox and Friends” as the ultimate culprit: Penn & Teller’s Nazi-like assault on Catholicism that took place on August 27 will go down in history as one of the most vile, obscene programs ever aired in any nation. That CBS, which owns Showtime, allows this to go on is positively unbelievable.

We are now getting copies made for a mass mailing later this week. We will send a copy of this episode to 414 bishops, and to hundreds of influential Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Mormon religious leaders across the United States. We will also send a copy to hundreds of activists and members of the media. Then we will feature what Penn & Teller have done in the next edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal; that will reach a huge audience. Moreover, I am already scheduled to do several radio shows on what happened.

We want everyone to know about what CBS considers fair game. There is no way to undo the damage already done, but CBS/Showtime can still drop Penn & Teller. The ball is in their court.

Contact CBS rep Nancy Tellem at nancy.tellem@tvc.cbs.com

Read More »

Something I’ve been wanting to tackle for a long time is Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism which he presented to a Christian lay audience in an article published online in Christianity Today. Here’s a spoiler: it’s awful. According to Plantinga,

As I see it, this is a whopping error: evolution and naturalism are not merely uneasy bedfellows; they are more like belligerent combatants. One can’t rationally accept both evolution and naturalism; one can’t rationally be an evolutionary naturalist. The problem, as several thinkers (C. S. Lewis, for example) have seen, is that naturalism, or evolutionary naturalism, seems to lead to a deep and pervasive skepticism. It leads to the conclusion that our cognitive or belief-producing faculties—memory, perception, logical insight, etc.—are unreliable and cannot be trusted to produce a preponderance of true beliefs over false.

I have no problem with skepticism. I think everybody should be a skeptic. For those who don’t, I’m offering up the Brooklyn Bridge… Cheap!

Nor do I have a problem with anything in that last long sentence. Our memory is quite fallible. So is our ‘logical insight’, since it is based on heuristic and not rigorous logic. It just happens to work most of the time and is fast, and for the times it doesn’t it typically doesn’t matter. For instance, our natural instinct when out in the dark we hear a rustling in the bushes our impulse is to take flight. But whether the rustling in the bushes is a real danger (the tiger that Plantinga likes to use) or a prankster is not considered by our subconscious. With the former, our chance of survival increases because we don’t go over to the bush to check the source of the disturbance. With the latter, we just feel foolish. In both cases, our lives continue.

Read More »

I want to say this at the get-go before I am accused of being prejudiced and bigoted: I do not think that only atheists can do science. I do not think that only atheists can determine science policy. In searching for someone to head the NIH, such a policy would reduce the field considerably and exclude many excellent candidates that we would be justified in predicting they would do a fantastic job.

Francis Collins is not one of them. Yes, he has shown his ability to administer very large scientific projects. Yes, he has demonstrated his ability to do good science. But these are not the only requirements for heading the National Institutes of Health, the largest funding agency for biomedical research in the US. Something less well known is that it also funds research outside the US if certain conditions are met.

Read More »