Thursday, December 31, 2009

On JP Holding

The following essay is one which I have seriously considered NOT writing. For one thing, this essay about someone who may not deserve my attention, but moreover, writing this essay might be taken as me "stooping" to JP Holding's level. I don't see it that way. I'm like George Carlin when he dealt with hecklers at his shows: I'm shredding Holding at his own game.

If you don't know who JP Holding is, I'll explain in a moment. But for now, here are some quotes to show you what kind of a person he is:

(Holding said this in response to an Amazon Commenter):

"Speculation has it that you have intimate relations with farm animals. I guess that wasn't much fun because you're here posting comments. See? Isn't that great?"

In response to a web-forum member:

"And you? You’re nothing but a sanctimonious ant with delusions of your own grandeur; you’re nothing but a modern day Hugh waving your swollen member around and knocking people over with it or else disgusting everyone by pointing to it and shouting to everyone to look at it."

In response to another person:

"Well, that's Crybaby's fault. He's an expert manipulator, and all I did was make him eat his own upchuck."

I can understand that Holding might get upset and say things like this on occasion (I can be a little testy when certain people make foolish comments on my blog), but believe me, this kind of verbal sewage is pretty typical from Holding. He says this kind of thing CONSTANTLY.

Who is JP Holding? He is an Christian apologist who mainly works through the internet, insulting his opponents and writing illogical and pseudohistorical garbage to defend his faith. You know all those crazy Jesus mythicists who think Jesus was based on a sun god? Holding is the other extreme. If you took someone with the mindset of a really cranky Jesus mythicist and somehow got him to become a passionate and devoted Christian fanatic, and gave him a douchebag goatee (see the picture below) then you'd have JP Holding. Same bad, biased thought patterns. Same biased, shoddy research and arrogance.

Although Holding has only a degree in library science, he feels very confident writing (EXTENSIVELY) about historical, biblical, philosophical and theological issues while constantly making arguments from authority and questioning the expertise of real scholars who happen to hold views that he doesn't agree with (see here). Holding also wrote a book called 'The Impossible Faith' which inspired a certain JohnnySkeptic to hire Richard Carrier to rebut the entire book (which is now itself a book: Not the Impossible Faith).

Now, to be fair, he actually has made a good point relevant to the argument from authority, and one that I am going to use freely to annhilate him later on. Holding said (in reference to Jesus Mythicists):

The critic may say:
"Just because a consensus of historians say that the Jesus-myth is wrong does not mean that it is wrong. The historians could be wrong. They could also be biased. Since this subject is dominated by theological agendas and philosophical presuppositions, a scholarly consensus does not constitute evidence for the existence of Jesus."
Yes, this is actually the core of many arguments made in favor of the "Jesus-myth": Behind every historian there is a conspiracy, a bias, or some gross error of judgment...
Of course, it is
possible that all of the professional historians (even those with no religious interest!) are biased or wrong, while proponents of the 'Jesus-myth' are the objective ones. And yes, a consensus does not equate with evidence. But a consensus on any historical question is usually based on evidence which is analyzed by those who are recognized as authoritative in their field, and therefore may be taken at their word.

Let's take this point to its logical conclusion: If those outside scholarship ought to accept the majority opinion of scholars, then Holding had better be ready to admit that the Book of Daniel is a second-century forgery and not a prophetic writing (which he doesn't), or he at least ought not find fault in outsiders who simply take the scholarly majority at their word. Look at what he says in his essay on the book of Daniel:

The whole problem of the dating of Daniel really has nothing to do with evidence. The reason the Maccabeean theory was proposed was because of a prior philosophical belief that fulfilled prophecy can not happen.

Yeah, the majority of Biblical scholars are all out to discredit the Bible. Riiight... : D

Holding also reveals to us what an uncomprehending dumbass he is when he said, in his article about Evolution:

I draw from The Blind Watchmaker. The work as a whole runs upon a premise of an immensely begged question (evolution must have taken place, because here we are).

Actually, if you read the Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins not only provides extensive evidence that evolution occurred, but he also argues that it is the only known (satisfactory) explanation for why we are here. The fact that Holding feels so comfortable accusing an esteemed Oxford Biologist of committing such a gigantic, blatant error of elementary logic ought to raise a red flag: Holding is a former prison librarian. Holding, here's some advice: before you open your big mouth about anyone, anyone at all, you had better thoroughly study what they write and if necessary ask someone smarter than you about these issues. You're not an intellectual, or a scholar, or even a bright guy, and writing things like this only shows what a dumbfuck you are.

And now we can leapfrog over to a recent dispute I've had with Holding. First I need to laydown some backround: As you can tell from this post, Holding has a big mouth and makes quite a number of enemies. It just so happens that one of the enemies Holding made (JohnnySkeptic) was well-off financially, and so when Holding wrote up an argument ('The Impossible Faith') Johnny decided to hire a professional historian (Richard Carrier) to respond to Holding's drivel. Da-Da-Daaaaan. I might be tempted to feel sorry for Holding... if he wasn't such an asshole. I mean, most internet apologists (like him) are harmless idiots with emotional problems that they solve by turning to Christianity and insulting atheists (who may or may not be more qualified/intellectual than them) to make themselves feel better. Those apologists seldom have to worry about the sheer terror that Holding faced with Carrier. I mean, hiring Carrier to rebut Holding was like using a nuclear missle to kill a squirrel. When Johnny agreed to pay Carrier for this job, Holding's ass became grass and Carrier proceeded to mercilessly mow him down, light a fire on the lawn, and sow the ground with salt. Listen to what Holding said about Carrier in a comment on amazon:

[T]here's not much confidence to be placed in a guy who took 10 years to get his doctorate, loses his debates badly, and is a proven quack when it comes to Greek.

For the right effect, just picture Holding lying on the floor, beating his fists on the groung and blubbering those words in tears. In fact, if one can recall Holding's responses to Carrier (which have now disappeared from his website) you'll know that he compared Carrier to a hired gun sent to assassinate him. Out of all Holding's rhetoric, I think that bit comes close to revealing how Holding really feels. Holding admittedly wrote his essay to respond to the claims of those who think the early Christians were a bunch of suckers. Holding has major emotional investments in Christianity, and it hurts him to see atheists making statements that are (in my view and probably also in Holding's) mean-spirited and uncharitable to the early Christians. So Holding wanted to devise an argument that no internet infidel could match, and something that would prove once and for all that his faith was not in vain. And to have a professional infidel hired to tear his argument to pieces pushed Holding over the edge. Again, behind the rhetoric and bullshit, JP Holding is a human being, and one with feelings.

Of course, that fact doesn't excuse Holding anymore than it excuses criminals from crimes they committed because they were mistreated and had to lash out at society. Nor was the situation unjust: I've seen Holding be just as mean-spirited and insensitive towards the Mormons. Doesn't feel so good when it happens to you, does it, Holding? Cry me a river.

One more thing: Back when Holding had first posted his little essay 'The Impossible Faith' he actually ridiculed a 20 year old college student, Chris Hallquist, for suggesting that first century Judeans probably didn't have identical (or even near identical) standards or ideas about what constitutes 'evidence' that we 21st Century Americans do. Well, I've done some research and have proven that Holding was dead fucking wrong. If you read chapter 6 of The Social Settings of Jesus and the Gospels edited by Bruce Malina (Holding's hero whom he refers to and generally grovels before constantly) you'll find out that different cultures do indeed have very different ideas about what forms of experience (sensual, dreams, imaginings) constitute valid information in the real world. In fact, I sent Dr. Pilch the following email about his chapter:

Hi Dr. Pilch, I read some of your work. When you say that the people of Jesus' cultural contexts lived under a different consensus reality, it reminded me of something:

In the congo some of the locals have reported an animal, Mokele-mbembe, which is described as looking like an apatosaurus. Apparently a researcher traveled to the congo and asked a local villager:

'There's something I'd really like to know. Have you seen Mokele-mbembe?' 'What a stupid question,' said Doubla [the villager], looking genuinely surprised, stopping with the water-bottle halfway to his lips. 'Mokele-mbembe is not an animal like a gorilla or a python. . . . It doesn't appear to people. It is an animal of mystery. It exists because we imagine it. But to see it--never. You don't see it.'
It seems to me like this is a good illustration of how consensus reality can differ from culture to culture: Apparently in this culture, imaginings and daydreams are considered valid ways to learn about reality just as much as more "scientific" types of observation are considered to be valid ways of learning about reality are considered to be in the West.

Would you agree?

In fact he did agree with me, and if you don't believe me maybe you should go to his webpage yourself and ask him. Now, if you read Pilch's chapter, as you can online for free, you'll realize that this has dramatic implications for the supposed post-resurrection encounters with Jesus and on how dreams/strong gut feelings/imaginings/altered states of consciousness in general could have EASILY given the first Christians the conviction that Jesus had been raised. All of this is well documented social science. The fact that Holding was outwitted and outresearched by someone more than a decade his junior just speaks volumes. And remember, Pilch is not some crank scholar. He's employed at Georgetown University and has contributed to volumes edited by Holding's favorite scholar, Bruce Melina. Nor is he some atheist trying to cook up wild excuses to avoid the terrible fate of admitting that Christianity is true: He happens to be a devout Catholic, as I found out in our email exchange.

Now, I know what I've written is going to really stir some people up. I hope it does. I hope Holding's followers stop uncritically trusting his judgement and start thinking for themselves. I hope they read every criticism they can find of him, and I hope they bring it to his attention and demand answers. And the answer that will be given for this essay will be something like the following: Nick Covington is a coward! He won't come and debate me, the great James Patrick Holding, on theology web. And I have a response to that: On theologyweb Holding is given preferrential treatment: He's allowed to curse (calling Doug Shaver 'Dougie Dumbass') and be incredibly nasty to others, while anyone who does the same to him is penalized (I had a post altered and was given a warning on theology web for calling Holding a 'dishonest fag' after I had it up to here with his bullshit evasions). Holding is not acting brave by challenging me to debate in a place where I'll be treated badly and cat-called by his followers. And for him to call anyone else a coward for not coming to debate him there is a great example of how he projects his own identity onto others. Holding is nothing but a quaking, quivering piss-pants coward who is too chickenshit to show up on a more neutral territory and debate me. In fact, if he wants to debate anywhere that is more neutral towards both of us (like, I'd be glad too. But I just know he won't. C'mon James, show me up. Show the world you're not a big stinking wuss.

And with that, I want to conclude this article with the following: Anytime you see anyone anywhere reference JP Holding or his website tektonics, shame them thoroughly for not checking their sources send them over here. If they don't realize what an unreliable little bastard he is, then they aren't worth your time. Hopefully this will draw a few members of Holding's cult away from donating money to his sorry organization. Holding is NOT the guy you want representing Christianity on any level: his scholarship (if it can be called that) SUCKS, and he's all-around a very rotten individual. Don't support him financially or otherwise, and discourage others from doing so. He's only doing a huge disservice to your faith.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Ten Creationist Arguments

PS: Not all of these are Creationist arguments, some of them are just idiot arguments you hear from Christians.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Random Blog

Watch this video:

Also, there's a new documentary about Jack Chick: God's Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick. Has anyone seen it? If so leave a comment describing it.

Plus, check out Daylight Atheism's ongoing series that debunks Lee Strobel's 'Case for a Creator' book. The series is great, its just too bad that he didn't write the series until half a decade after the book was released. You know, Lee Strobel's books really take me back: long before I became an atheist, I remember briefly finding his book 'Case for a Creator' convincing.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Best Answers to Two Common Creationist Claims

A while back Pharyngula had a contest: the winner was whoever gave the best refutation of two common creationist questions:

1. Was evolution a significant and essential factor in guiding Nazi thought?

2. Can natural processes produce an increase in complexity?

Click on the link above to read the winning answers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How I Would Debate William Lane Craig

Most of you probably know who William Lane Craig is: He is, by far, the greatest Christian debater in the world. Now, in writing this post I am not saying that I have the ability to debate Craig. Maybe if I was given 25+ years of nonstop public debating I could. But I am NOT up to such a task now. I do, however, have some thoughts on how one might go about beating William Lane Craig in a debate:

1. Mess with Craig's mind. When you give your opening presentation, steal some of Craig's oft-used debating lines. For instance, Craig will often state that his opponent has the burden of destroying all of his arguments and then building a case for atheism. He does this because he wants to saddle his opponent with a burden that they might not be able to meet in the time given. I say you give him a taste of his own medicine: Give several arguments for the nonexistence of God (the problem of evil, unbelief, etc.) then tell the audience that Craig has the burden of destroying all of your arguments and building a positive case for the existence of God. Memorize the exact words he uses in his debates and then state those same lines, in the same tone of voice, only replacing certain bits of it to suit your own ends, as illustrated above. I have a feeling that this kind of tactic would leave Craig speechless, at least momentarily. Plus, it would be totally funny.

2. Prepare brief but devastating responses to Craig's usual "five facts" case, write them down, and use them in the debate. It'll be a lot easier, and it will mean that you won't have to spend a lot of time rebutting Craig's case, so you can spend more time launching arguments for atheism. This won't be hard: Rebut Craig's Kalam Argument by noting that a being who "acts" outside of time is incoherent and unintelligible. For Craig's resurrection argument, note what Gregory Dawes explained in Theism and Explanation: for theistic explanations to be valid, they must show that the event in question is probable given God's existence. You can turn this argument on its head by finding passages in the old testament that show how God doesn't care for false prophets. Then you construct an evil twin of Craig's argument by presenting five facts that show Jesus predicted the end of the world in his generation. That won't be hard to do, just read books like the following: The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, this blog post, and also read some of the contrived Christian responses to this stuff so that you can destroy them and note how contrived they are (make Craig explain all the facts with one hypothesis, as he demands of opponents of his resurrection arguments).

3. Watch a lot of debates that Craig has had, and try to find the inconsistencies so often present in his reasoning so that you can expose them for all the world to see, if they come up in the debate.

4. Read this blog post.

5. Have at least twenty live debates under your belt before you debate Craig, and preferrably you ought to have won most or all of them. Read Craig's work, watch as many of his debates online as you can. Basically, just get to know how he argues and be prepared to argue well yourself.

And that's about it. Craig has won nearly every debate he's been in, although his debate with Shelley Kagan on godless ethics did NOT go well, his debate with Paul Draper didn't go well, and... I'm not sure if I know anyone else who has fared well against the almighty Craig. It certainly is not because it is impossible. Indeed, I think anyone can tell from what I've written here that it is totally possible for an atheist to blow Craig out of the water and strip his "five-facts" case naked.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009


I'm having an online written debate with a Christian. I'd appreciate it if you would register and, when the debate is done, vote a winner. Don't vote for me unless you honestly feel like I presented the better arguments and defended my arguments better than my opponent. Here it is:

Until next time...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guess What Came in the Mail

Yesterday I got something very special in the mail: A signed copy of Origin of Species from Ray Comfort. Comfort had advertised the free copies of the book on his blog a while back, so I shot him an email and requested one. Now I've got the book. I was thinking I'd sell it. If you're interested, just shoot me an email at ncovington89 AT (Remove spaces and replace 'AT' with @). And yes, I will sign the book also if I'd you like me too. If you want the book, just send me an email with an offer (all offers will be considered, so don't be shy!).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Everybody Wins

I have any idea. What would you say if I told you about a way that you could support your favorite skeptical/atheist authors and bring their ideas to a larger audience? You'd want to do it right? Well, here's the idea: Go to your local public library and request that they order some of the following books:

Sense & Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism by Richard Carrier

The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave Edited by Robert Price and Jeffrey Lowder

The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Mark Isaak

Why I Became an Atheist by John Loftus

Incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Robert M. Price

Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth Daniels

godless by Dan Barker

Atheism Explained by David Ramsay Steele

The Case Against Christianity by Michael Martin

A lot of libraries now allow you to request books from their websites. If so, you don't even have to make a trip to the library. But think about it: If the library purchases one or more of these books, then you've just provided the author with some financial support (which some, but not all of them, need), the book will be at the library for many years to come, ensuring that many people will read it and be influenced by it, and you're helping the library by suggesting some very interesting books that people will want to read! Everybody wins.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bob Price Speaks At Skepticon

Dr. Bob Price, editor of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave and author of The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man (both awesome and entertaining books that all skeptics interested in New Testament studies should read) gave a talk at Skepticon that is well worth watching:

Also See Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Study Refutes Old Creationist Argument

A new study has shown that entropy (or thermodyamic disorder) actually creates orderly and complex crystals.

This ought to be the final proof that the creationist argument from entropy is FALSE. Their argument goes something like this:

Evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that everything tends toward disorder, while evolutionists claim that throughout history life has become more orderly. Therefore, the Second Law disproves evolution.

I refuted this argument as follows on page 120 of my book, Atheism and Naturalism:

This totally misunderstands what ‘disorder’ in the thermodynamic sense is. Thermodynamic ‘Disorder’ is simply energy that is not available for use. Evolution does not violate this law because usable energy is supplied to living things by the sun.

Now it looks like we all have something easy to point to to totally blow the creationist argument out of the water and show that they are fundamentally wrong in their interpretation of 'entropy'.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Richard Carrier Speaks on the History of Jesus

Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6

Also, an Arab website interviewed Richard Carrier about Metaphysical Naturalism, Islam, Jesus, and more. Well worth a read.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Blog You Ought to Check Out

Sweet Scandalous Skeptic. You may remember that I poster her award-winning essay "Good Without God" a while back. She's also posted an essay by her son, Scooter the Skeptic, which has to be one of the all-time best skeptical kid-written essays.

Also: Capital City Free Press

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Justin Martyr and Pagan Parallels to Jesus

A few days ago I watched this video (see below). It attempts to explain something that the early Christian Apologist Justin Martyr said. You see, Justin was living in the second century, and he made a pretty damning statement about Christianity (which you'll see in the video). He points out that Christianity has quite a bit of specifics in common with older pagan religions. So the Christian in the video counters this by saying (basically): "Oh sure, he said it, but he only said it to show that the Romans were being inconsistent for NOT punishing other religous groups who believed the same type of stuff."

I might point out that it doesn't really matter why Justin said what he said, it only matters that he said it. If he said that Christianity had a lot in common with older religions (so much so that he attributes this to demons counterfeiting Christianity in advance) then why he said that DOES NOT MATTER. He still said it.

So the guy made this video goes on to give another quote from Justin Martyr that I think is worth addressing:

"[W]hatever we assert in conformity with what has been taught us by Christ, and by the prophets who preceeded him, are alone true, and are older than all the writers who have existed..."

So is Justin saying that Christianity is older than all these pagan poets (the 'writers')? Yes and No. Justin seems to be saying that the Old Testament prophets are older than the pagan poets. He is probably not saying that Jesus predates the pagan poets, because in chapter 23 of Justin's First Apology he says that before Jesus became a man among men, demons influenced the pagan poets to imitate Old Testament prophecies as having already happened to a pagan deity. So Justin realized that the pagan parallels needed an explanation, and he did the best he could to give one. That tells us something right there: If the parallels were not signifigant, he would not have needed to explain them. One could argue that Justin was wrong about these parallels needing an explanation, but look again at the parallels Justin cites in chapters 21-23 of his Apology (linked above) and you tell me if those parallels are insignificant nothings.

Also, there are several reasons Justin Martyr's explanation will not work. First, it smacks of special pleading because in any other case we would simply say that Christians borrowed this stuff from the pagans. Second, a lot of the stuff about Jesus that Justin thinks the Jews prophesied actually weren't: The Old Testament does not predict that the messiah would be born of a virgin, or that the messiah would be the literal son of God, that he would suffer a miserable death, be resurrected, heal the lame or blind, etc.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just a Reminder

I published a review of Charles Darwin's classic Origin of Species at DB Skeptic. Check it out and comment!

How Could Creationism Not Be Dishonest?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Want This Debate

Here's a post from the blog Panda's Thumb about a debate between ID proponents Stephen Meyer and Richard Sternberg and scientists Don Prothero and Michael Shermer. Sounds like Prothero really slammed the ID side. If anyone has the audio or video of this debate, I WANT IT. Seriously, if you can give me the web address to where I can listen to the audio or video of this debate, I would be much appreciative.


Update: Found the debate on this youtube channel. Just look at the most recently uploaded videos.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tee Hee

Apparently Stan Guffey, the guy whom Ray Comfort plagiarized from, is now considering legal action over this whole ordeal. I think he should go for it. Ray Comfort knew that what he was doing was wrong, and he deserves to face justice for it. Furthermore, I would find it highly insulting and degrading if something I wrote was plagiarized and then used in a creationist writing full of lies and distortions.

I emailed Guffey after I wrote my now-infamous post. So, I wonder: Did I do that?

Climate Change A Hoax?

I haven't had time to check the info in this video YET, however, I encourage others to do so, and furthermore, I think the argument presented against Global Warming being a conspiracy (because of the difficulties and implausibilities the video author explained) in and of itself conclusively disproves the notion that this is a big conspiracy.

Why Christianity Needs to Die

Apparently Rick Warren, the smiling imbecile pastor behind that awful book "The Purpose Driven Life" (BTW, Here's a much better book,The Reason Driven Life by Dr. Robert M. Price) cannot bring himself to condemn a Uganda law that would put homosexuals in prison for life (and in some cases it would put them to death).

I know quite a few Christians on the internet who are not opposed to putting homosexuals to death. People who think this way aren't just run-of-the-mill idiots like Ray Comfort, but people I know on internet forums who are otherwise intelligent. They've simply accepted the Bible as the accurate word of God. And the result is dangerous bigotry. This is just one reason Christianity, in the long run, must perish for the well-being of our species.

Friday, December 4, 2009

How Did You Learn About Sex?

A Signed Origin

The folks from Skepticon are auctioning off a special signed copy of Ray Comfort's Edition of Origin of Species. PZ Myers, Dan Barker, Rebecca Watson, Joe Nickell, Richard Carrier, DJ Grothe, and JT Eberhard all signed it. Richard Carrier even wrote "Plagiarist!" under Ray Comfort's name, which I thought was funny. I was also kind of proud since I was the one who uncovered the big scandal of Ray Comfort's plagiarism. Here's a picture of the signed page:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

God Takes Care of Children and Fools

This is so silly:

The Gospel of Luke records that, as he was dying on the cross, Jesus showed his boundless mercy by praying for his killers this way: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

Not so fast, say contributors to the Conservative Bible Project.

The project, an online effort to create a Bible suitable for contemporary conservative sensibilities, claims Jesus' quote is a disputed addition abetted by liberal biblical scholars, even if it appears in some form in almost every translation of the Bible.

The project's authors argue that contemporary scholars have inserted liberal views and ahistorical passages into the Bible, turning Jesus into little more than a well-meaning social worker with a store of watered-down platitudes.

I've sometimes wondered if Conservatism was being fueled by Fundamentalism. But this indicates that (in some cases, at least) it's the other way around: Fundamentalism is being fueled by Conservatism. In other words, conservative politics don't always come from religion, sometimes religion is hijacked and altered to suit the needs of conservative politics. The article continues:

Contributors to the project aren't arguing on ideological grounds alone. The discussion forum on the site is full of discourse on Greek grammar, along with arguments long familiar to Biblical scholars about the history of certain passages.

Take the famous passage from Luke: the Conservative Bible Project omits it not only because it's "a favorite of liberals," but because there's some dispute over its authenticity, based on the manuscripts it appears in.

Professor Timothy Paul Jones said while some early Greek manuscripts omit Jesus' words, others include them.

"There are so many factors to consider when looking at that, but here it gets boiled down to 'liberals put it in,'" he said. "You've got people who are doing this who have probably never looked at an actual ancient manuscript."

Amen to that. The project is very transparent: It's a bunch of dogmatic conservative self-declared-expert idiots using the bible as means to an end for their ideology. Moving on:

The Bible's roots in a dizzying variety of ancient manuscripts require a lifetime of dedication to master, said the Rev. Frank Matera, a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a former president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America.
"There's a little Italian proverb, 'Every translator is a traitor,'" Matera said. "Most Bible translations are usually done by a group of scholars, precisely so they can balance out each other. It's not something that everybody can do."

Exactly. Where do these people get off thinking that their amateur bible knowledge is sufficient to do something that takes a team of experts who have studied the stuff for decades?

I'm glad that people like Matera and Jones are taking a stand against this stuff. Timothy Paul Jones is someone I confess to having a guarded admiration for. His book, Conspiracies and the Cross, is excellent. In a very conversational tone, Jones explains why so many popular folk theories about Jesus (that he married Mary Magdalene, for example) are just dead wrong. It is truly a great skeptical work. His reasoning throughout the book is, with few exceptions, spot on. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that. Stay Rational, folks.

Rebecca Watson Talk @Skepticon

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review of 'Signature in the Cell'

Here's an interesting (and critical) review of 'Signature in the Cell', a book by ID proponent Stephen C. Meyer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Good Atheist Reading From Around the Web

Here's some things I've found on the internet that make great reading:

The Case Against Presuppositionalism Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3
- Great series of articles on a very peculiar way to defend the Christian faith.

The Anthropic Argument Against the Existence of God - Appears to be a novel formulation of the Argument from Evil. Nevertheless it is fascinating and easy to comprehend.

Holding's Hypocritical Zeal - Good article on a quasi-popular Christian apologist.

Funny Skeptical Cartoon

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Without God

The following is an essay written by a member of my local freethought group, Amanda Gulledge.

Rebel flags, crosses, a church on every corner and county road signs that read, “Go to church or the Devil will get you”, seem to be staring back as my little boys press their noses to the truck glass. It is a hundred degrees outside and the mockingbirds sing while the smell of barbeque and magnolia trees linger. If you haven’t guessed by now; I live in Alabama.

Alabama, the Bible Belt, is also our Home Sweet Home. My husband, two boys, and I have an honest, open relationship about the many mysteries of existence. We don’t believe in an ever watchful, all powerful Deity or an ever burning place of punishment. Instead, we have lots of discussions about the best choices. Every day I am inspired by the natural goodness that radiates from within my children. When my boys have their lemonade stand, they choose to give their profits to fight children’s cancer; when we discuss stealing, they look at me like I am crazy and ask me to think how I would feel if someone took my belongings.

Before school I inhale the aroma of freshly brewed coffee as the smell of bacon wafts throughout the house. My pajama clad sons are watching the science channel and cutting trash bags to make play clothes. They explain that it will help save money and I shouldn’t worry so much about what they look like. I admit I am a bit of a fashion lover. My heart swells with pride and I fight back a tear as my husband refills my coffee and kisses us each on the head before leaving for work.

My eldest son turns every light in the house off to save energy and demands we use as little water as possible while brushing our teeth. He uses a candle in his bedroom instead of a light bulb. I tend to throw things away, but am quickly humbled when my children gasp and rescue the item. Chastising my carelessness, they proceed to remind me of the children and families in need.

Three cousins and two neighborhood friends were not allowed to play with my children because we do not attend church or accept Jesus Christ as our savior. Unbeknownst to me, my children approached both families and convinced the parents that it would be ok and that religion would never be mentioned. My eldest son promised to tutor one child and to teach another to play chess. Last night, in the truck and from the backseat, my little one began to talk of how short a mosquito’s life was. His brother then reminded us all how lucky we were to be humans. I looked back and then glanced at my smiling husband and said, “I am so very lucky to get to spend my life with you three”. Two boys exclaimed in unison, “Group Hug!!” There at a red light… in a truck in Southern Alabama a freethinking family embraced. Good without God? You betcha.

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to Assess the Truth of a Religion

Lukeprog, over at the blog "Commonsense Atheism" has written a blog post about assessing whether or not a religion or worldview is true. One of his criteria is 'Consistency with known facts'. He writes:

If a religious claim contradicts what is known in another field, this may be grounds for rejecting the religious claim, unless the religious claim is better supported than the other knowledge. For example, if a religious system claims that the earth was created 6,000 years ago, but millions of pieces of solid evidence from multiple fields of consistent research conclusively show the earth to be much older than that, then this gives us cause to reject the religious claim. If the religious claim is central to the religion, then the whole religion may be rejected.

I would extend this principle even further: Don't fall into the trap of accepting numerous gross, unsupported speculations and just-so stories that attempt to make reality fit the religion in question. Too many times I have seen Christians defend Biblical inerrancy with just-so stories and speculations to get around the apparent (and probably actual) contradictions in the Bible. But guess what? There's no reason to accept those just-so stories unless you are already committed to Bible inerrancy. So that makes their speculations circular, if one is trying to approach religion objectively, as one should. Let me give you another example: Mormons claim that the Native Americans are descended from Hebrews. But archaeology and DNA evidence conclusively shows that they are not. So what do the Mormons say to this? They say DNA is a young science and so it doesn't have all the answers yet. As for archaeology, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But again, realize that there is no reason to accept these ways of bullshitting around the facts unless you are already committed to defending Mormonism. But you should not be committed to Mormonism unless the facts bear it out as true. And if a Mormon accepts that, then they have to realize they are making a circular argument if they say that they are committed to Mormonism because the facts bear it out but then rely on their committment to Mormonism when the facts don't bear it out.

I would also add something else to Luke's post: It is possible that many religions are consistent with known facts, are logically consistent and consistent overall. So what one wants to look for is the religion or worldview that is the best overall explanation. The best overall explanation can be determined by explanatory scope, explanatory power, simplicity, and so on.

Christmas Shopping for Skeptics

In honor of the biggest shopping day of the year, I've put together a list of books and DVD's that your skeptic relatives will definitely love as Christmas presents:

The God Who Wasn't There - This is a really cool documentary movie that pretty much any atheist/agnostic will enjoy. I mean, it discusses all the flaws of religion, Jesus mythicism, and has a goosebump-giving ending. Don't forget to print out Richard Carrier's critical comments on the movie and leave it in your recepient's stocking.

PBS Evolution Boxed Set - This is another one that pretty much any skeptic will enjoy: An 8 hour special on Evolution. 8 hours is enough to qualify as a 'gift that keeps on giving' and the show is fascinating. Of course, it's $70, so only give to the people you really like.

The God Delusion - Any skeptic who loves to read will enjoy this book, provided they don't already own it. So make sure they don't before you buy it (plenty skeptics have it). Otherwise, it makes a great gift.

Sense & Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism - So you wanna buy something for your very bright, very well-read, college-sophomore nephew/son/grandson? Get this. It's a little deep, but a bright and well-read college skeptic will have no trouble understanding it. It's a superb book.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution - Perfect for anyone interested in evolution or creationism. Also a good gift idea for your Uncle Dana who reads a lot of creationist polemics and makes an ignoramus of himself everytime someone mentions 'millions of years'.

Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists - Get this for your skeptic relatives who already have 'The God Delusion'.

Skeptic Magazine Subscription - It's the gift that keeps on giving, all through the year! Every skeptic will love this magazine!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


A youtube user has begun uploading videos from an event called "Skepticon 2". The first videos are of a student debate on the existence of God. It's well worth a watch, although I believe the theistic side did have the edge. Not an unfair edge, I simply mean that they were a bit better in their arguments and how they presented them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Debunking Dinesh D'Souza

I'm going to correct some very common errors that Dinesh D'Souza has repeated over and over, most recently in his debate with Dan Barker.

Dinesh says that Science confirms that "once there was nothing, then there was a universe." Not true. No one knows what happened before the Big Bang, or even if there was a 'before'. It may be that the Big Bang is the first moment and no moments exist prior to it, or it may be that there was a 'before' and that perhaps the universe is eternal. In fact, there are cosmologists who defend the notion that the Big Bang was part of an epic cycle within eternity, see: Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang. But even if Dinesh was right that "once there was nothing, then there was something" why does that point to God? Why couldn't the nothing-to-something transition be a natural event? As Victor Stenger has pointed out, Physics tells us that simple states tend to transition to more complex ones. Since "nothing" is as simple as it gets, it would be expected to transition to something. And in fact, this would not break any of the laws of Conservation, since we know that the universe contains equal amounts of positive and negative energy and electric charge (meaning the total NET energy and charge of the universe is ZERO).

Dinesh says that the ancient Hebrews also said that "once there was nothing, then there was a unvierse" even while other cultures believed that a creator had fashioned the universe from pre-existing material. That may not be true, because one scholar thinks that the Hebrews did in fact believe that God fashioned the universe from pre-existent material.

Dinesh also brings up the old fine-tuning argument, about how the speed of light is so well fine tuned. I recommend watching this video for a good refutation of that particular example. I've debunked Dinesh's argument further in my book.

He brings up arguments for the resurrection of Jesus. He asks, "Why would Christ's disciples die for a lie?" I recommend reading Ken Daniels' book for a good refutation of that:

[T]he assertion that Jesus' disciples died for their faith has no historical foundation; it is mere hearsay, as Bart Ehrman informs us:

And an earlier point that Bill made was that the disciples were all willing to die for their faith. I didn't hear one piece of evidence for that. I hear that claim a lot, but having read every Christian source from the first five hundred years of Christianity, I'd like him to tell us what the piece of evidence is that the disciples died for their belief in the resurrection (Craig and Ehrman 2006, 28-29).

What Erhman is saying is that we have no historical grounding for the martyrdom of even one of Jesus' disciples. All details regarding their manner of dying emerge years later in accounts that are far removed from the actual events. Even if it could be proven historically that some of the earliest disciples were martyred, we would still be unable to look into their minds and know they died specifically for their belief in Jesus' Resurrection.

Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob in 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois. Latter Day Saints believe he was martyred for his unwavering conviction that God revealed himself through golden tablets that Smith had discovered in 1830. Many non-Mormons believe he was killed because he was a criminal. If the facts are so readily disputed for a relatively recent and well-documented event like Joseph Smith's death, how can we say with any confidence how or why Jesus' disciples perished, let alone what was in their minds when they died?

I've debunked arguments for the resurrection of Jesus in my book and also here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"On The Origin of Species" A Review

A wrote a review of Charles Darwin's classic on DB Skeptic. Click here to read it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why I Believed

I just read a fantastic book called Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary by Kenneth Daniels. You can read it for free here at Internet Infidels. Ken tells a very touching story, and also manages to respond to a lot of Christian arguments with good sense and reason. Here's a quote that really struck a chord with me:

"In the end I realized it is human judgment alone that comes to the conclusion that the Bible is God-breathed. When skeptics challenge the Christian faith, they are merely pitting one fallible human perspective against another. There is no more to it than that. Did God tap ever me on the shoulder to tell me he wrote the Bible? No, and even if he had, how would I have known it was God? Ultimately I had to fall back on human judgment to make that determination. This debate is not one between skeptics and God; it is one between fallible skeptics and fallible believers. When my high school Mormon friend learned of my deconversion, he admonished me not to lean on "the arm of flesh" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 4:34) or human reason, but to listen to God. Yet we must all use our human reason or intuition or tradition to decide where we think God's voice can be found (if it is to be found at all), whether in the Jewish scriptures, in the Protestant Bible, in the Catholic Bible, in the Koran, in the Upanishads, in the Book of Mormon, in other sacred texts, in nature, or in our own heads. There is no way out of this bootstrapping problem other than to make a human judgment at some level."

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Was Mentioned!

Go check out the brand new Don't Diss Darwin website. It is NCSE's response to Ray Comfort's propaganda-filled version of Origin of Species. And it mentions my post in which I caught Comfort plagiarizing.

The Charity Argument

A poster over at Debunking Christianity has responded to the claim that Christians give more to charity. I always thought there was something fishy about the argument. After all, study upon study that I've seen, along with my real life experience, has always told me that secular folks are equally or more moral than religious folks (at least on average).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Creationists: Put Up or Shut Up

Here's the latest CDK video. I predict he will be met with complete silence. Every time I post something on this blog or in a forum asking for direct evidence of ID or creationism, I get silence or bullshit rantings against evolution, such as when I posted this.

Water Discovered on Moon

Yep! Go read it right now!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Novel Objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument

Philosopher Stephen Law recently blogged on his objections to the so-called 'Fine-Tuning' Argument for the Existence of God. It's worth a read: At least one of his objections I had not heard before.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Re: Evolution, The Genetic Code, and Message 'Theory'

In May 2009 I published an article entitled, “Evolution, The Genetic Code, and Message ‘Theory’: A Response to Walter ReMine”. Walter ReMine had written a series of articles for that gosh-awful blog “Uncommon Descent” in which he made some outlandish claims, including the claim that Evolution never predicted a universal genetic code, but rather many genetic codes.
Here’s how I argued for common descent: If life evolved from just one original species, then all living things should have inherited the code relatively unchanged because of the severe difficulties in changing the code. Although we do know of mechanisms that can change the code (see my article for details), the real problem with changing it is that if a codon (three letters of the genetic code that represent one amino acid or ‘stop codon’) suddenly begins coding for a different amino acid than it originally did, this will change so many proteins that it will almost certainly kill the organism.
A commenter who went by the name “Walt” (Whom I suspect is ReMine himself) criticized me by saying that Evolution did not predict a universal code, since I admitted that the code could change (if only rarely). And the admission that rare changes are possible means that it is theoretically possible that enough of these rare changes may have occurred so that genetic codes were all completely different from one another. I have email Dr. Douglas Theobald about this, and he has clarified the issue: (My words are in italics and his are not):

Hi Doug,
I just had a question concerning "The 29 Evidences for MacroEvolution": You wrote that the universality of the genetic code was evidence for common descent. But of course scientists have written about how the genetic code can change, and how codons can be reassigned for different use. You're probably aware of this, but if not, I can cite some articles if you need me to.
Anyway, couldn't it have been the case that by the time human beings evolved, the genetic code had undergone so many codon reassignments that there was no longer a universal genetic code?

Of course I have to admit that it is possible -- but for reasons, explained better below, it is unlikely.

On the other hand, Evolution does predict that for some unspecified amount of time the genetic code should have retained statistically signifigant similarity across lineages. It could be that we humans evolved within a time frame to be able to observe organisms before enough time had passed for the code to undergo so many codon reassignments that it was no longer the same in all organisms.
But what if they hadn't evolved within a time frame to observe those signifigant similarities in the code? That wouldn't falsify common descent, we just wouldn't know if common descent were true or not. But I thought that in order to make a scientific prediction, certain possible outcomes were supposed to falsify the prediction. In this case it does not seem that way. Am I making sense? What are your thoughts on this?

I think, for the most part, you are reasoning about it correctly. In evolution everything can change, and if we are all related by a common ancestor, there can be change from the original state. The argument here is that the genetic code is one of the most functionally constrained things in all of biology, and so we expect it to have an extraordinarily low rate of change. Given how similar some products of the genetic code are across all life (e.g., histone proteins), it would be incredibly surprising if the code had changed more. (Boldness added for emphasis)Furthermore, think about how we would react now if we found an organism with a DNA genome and the usual proteins, but with an extremely different genetic code. For a creationist, such a finding would present no problem whatsoever -- God just made this one different. But the scientific community would be at a loss to explain it - it is hard to stress enough how shocking it would be. Why is that?
(This marks the last quote I’ll use from Doug’s email)

Doug’s reasoning about this (which I marked in bold) seems sound to me. I suppose creationists would not have to worry if someone found an organism with a different genetic code. Walter ReMine has written that his theory predicts that all life is meant to look like the product of one designer and is also meant to resist evolutionary explanations. Now, if an organism had a different code (but it was still constructed of DNA) a creationist could still choose to see that fact as evidence of a single designer: Even though there are differences in which codons code for which amino acids, creationists would say, the designer still created all organisms with the same molecule (DNA) to store genetic information.

In fact, if Walt Remine’s Message “Theory” is true, we ought to see different genetic codes because this would falsify common descent, and Remine has stated that (according to his ‘theory’) life was designed to resist evolutionary explanations.

Further Comments on ReMine’s So-Called Theory

Here are some miscellaneous comments that I have on Remine’s So-Called Theory, some of which I published to the comments section of

1. Walt claims that Evolutionary theory could explain everything and its opposite because it is theoretically possible that there might have been enough time for new genetic codes to evolve. Point taken. But he misses the fact that even if a designer created organisms to be unified at the biochemical level, it is also theoretically possible that they may have evolved new genetic codes since the original creation. So Evolution doesn’t predict a universal genetic code and neither does Message “Theory”. And if Message “Theory” does predict a universal code, then Mr. Remine needs to explain why we find organisms with slightly different codes. Is that a falsification of his theory?

2. I brought up the fact that whales swim by moving their tails up-and-down while fish swim by moving their tails from side to side. This makes perfect sense in light of evolution because land mammals (like otters) swim the same way as whales do. Whales swim that way because they are descended from land mammals. On the other hand, there’s no reason a designer couldn’t have designed whales to swim the same way as fish. Indeed, if he’s so fond of uniting organisms on the biochemical level (for some reason) then the same reason that caused him to design animals alike on the molecular level ought to cause him to design animals as similarly as is reasonably possible on the macro-level. What flaw is there in that reasoning, Walter?

3. As I see things, Message “Theory” and all forms of the “Common Design” argument are falsified at the macro-level. However, that may not preclude the hypothesis that a designer made the very first forms of microscopic life and designed their genetic codes all the same way (He, She, it or they, if they were limited beings, might have used the same code again and again as a matter of convenience). Of course, that would be the same thing as common descent, since those microbes would have been able to exchange genetic material and would have represented a single gene pool, which is compatible with the current definition of common descent. But here is the point that I want to make: Scientists have methods of finding out the characteristics of the (hypothetical, not actual) common ancestor of practically any group of similar organisms. When scientists use their techniques to figure out what the hypothetical common ancestor of all life would have been like, they find that it would have been rich in amino acids thought to be most common on the early earth[i]. This is surely to be expected if life arose naturally from the chemicals on the early Earth. Later organisms could’ve evolved ways to synthesize amino acids which were not readily available in the environment. Yet the very first organisms would not have had the ability to synthesize just any amino acid. They would have had to use what was readily available – the simple amino acids generated by Miller-type experiments. The fact that the LUCA predominantly used these simple amino acids means it likely evolved from an organism which used these simple amino acids exclusively (or almost exclusively). This is what we would expect if this form of life originated naturally. And exactly what we would not expect to see if life was designed. If life was designed, then the hypothetical common ancestor of all living things might have been a highly advanced organism that retained no vestige of an earlier evolutionary history.

Further comments from Dr. Douglas Theobald

Dr. Theobald wanted me to share these further comments he made:

[I]t might be a bit clearer if I emphasized the three different (though related) arguments that have been made for expecting a universal (or nearly universal) genetic code based on common ancestry:

1) The genetic code is extremely functionally constrained, hence should have an extraordinarily low rate of evolution, and thus we expect genetic codes from different species to be highly similar(if common descent is true).

2) All known life carries genetic information in nucleic acids, and all known life performs metabolic functions with proteins. All known life thus must have a genetic code to relate the two. If all known life is also united by common descent, it must also be united by a universal genetic code.

3) Given the fact that we now know that all organisms studied to date have a very similar genetic code, we can use common descent (and argument 1 above) to predict that all undiscovered or unexamined organisms will also have a similar genetic code -- even though this prediction is not functionally necessary, as there are many other functionally equivalent genetic codes (an astronomical number of them).The first two arguments were used by scientists before the genetic code was cracked, and before it was known that it was highly similar in all organisms. The third argument is an extremely strong argument based on additional information gained since then.


[i] Brooks DJ, Fresco JR, Lesk AM, Singh M. “Evolution of amino acid frequencies in proteins over deep time: inferred order of introduction of amino acids into the genetic code.” Mol Biol Evol. 2002 Oct;19(10):1645-55.
Accessed 11/14/09 at:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In the Beginning

I just finished reading In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial, and the Making of the Antievolution Movement. It reads like a PBS documentary on the subject, covering the pre-Scopes trial era, to the trial itself, and afterwards (although it spends little time discussing modern creationism, from the 60's to today). I especially liked page 90, which discusses how racism played into the movement. Author W. J. Cash recalls,

"One of the most stressed notions which went around was that evolution made a Negro as good as a white man."

That quote ought to be whipped out every time someone like Ken Ham tries to say evolution is a racist theory.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The New Atheism

I have just finished reading The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason by Dr. Victor Stenger. It reads like a dispatched update from the War between Rationality and Superstition. Stenger responds to the ignorance and misrepresentation of those who write against the "New Atheists". We get a thorough debunking of the myth that atheism is responsible for the atrocities of communism, some of which mirrors the arguments I made in my book, Atheism and Naturalism. Stenger also gives a brief summary of his natural scenario for the origin of the universe, which I must admit, I still find puzzling. However, his summary of the origin of the laws of physics is a great deal more understandable, and is fascinating. You won't find that information in many other books. I spotted a problem with Stenger's arguments at the end of his first chapter in which he said,

"The reason we trust reason and science, and have no trust whatsoever in religious arguments, is that science and reason work in understanding the world and making it a better place for humanity while religious argument leads universally to dismal failure and untold human suffering."

This sounds very much like a circular argument. For example: if one uses science (knowledge gained by observation) only because one has observed it to work, well, we all see the circularity inherent in that. However, on page 239 Stenger makes some comments that may clear this up.

Anyway, Stenger also spends some time on Eastern religions and finds that there may be something to them (when stripped of their supernatural beliefs, of course). Overall I enjoyed the book. It's a good read.

Friday, November 13, 2009

10 Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About ID

PZ has responded to a ridiculous list of questions asked by Bill Dembski and Sean McDowell. Well worth a read.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Latest in RNA research

Recently, Uracil was produced in a laboratory under plausible prebiotic conditions. That gets us a step closer to understanding how life originated, as have past discoveries, such as these.

Is the Universe 'Fine-Tuned' for Life?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Explain Evolution in Two Minutes Contest

The winners have been naturally selected due to their survival advantages of quirkiness, simplicity, humor, etc. Watch all five videos here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Best Edition of Origin of Species

What do you think the best edition of Origin of Species was? Be sure and list the name of the publisher. Criteria for the best edition include the following:

1. How comfortable the book is to hold/read. I never like reading those tiny mass market paperback books with their tiny letters and their small margins. Nor do I like reading a book that is too wide. Something in the middle works for me.

2. How beautiful the cover is. A beautiful cover means extra points for any book.

3. How good the bonus material in the book is. Pretty much every edition of Origin of Species has at least an introduction discussing the history of the book, and sometimes much more.

4. Anything else you like!

Write in the comments the edition you like best (who published it and when). I think my favorite edition so far is this one:

The Origin of Species (Modern Library)

I'm also considering this: Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated It's an updated version of the Origin.

Blind Faith, Creationism, and Atheism

Here is an excellent post from Evolution blog about the aforementioned subjects. Worth reading no matter what views you have.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ray Comfort Gets A Whuppin' Again

Apparently Ray Comfort didn't learn his lesson a couple of days ago when he responded once again to Eugenie Scott concerning Evolution. So Scott tore him a new one again on a US News blog. It is really worth reading.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ray Comfort: Plagiarist

I recently had a look at Ray Comfort's "special introduction" to Origin of Species, and, I got to thinking that the first part of the introduction sounded a little too smart to be Ray Comfort. So I did some googling and found that Ray's introduction looks suspiciously like "A Brief History of Charles Darwin" by Dr. Stan Guffey. Here are some quotes from Ray's intro followed by their parallels in Stan Guffey's work:

Ray: Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England.

Stan: Charles Robert Darwin was born February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England.

Ray: ...[Y]oung Charles showed less interest in studying than in hunting, natural history, and scientific experimentation. In 1825, he enrolled at Edinburgh University.

Stan: Early in his youth he demonstrated predilections for hunting, natural history, and scientific experimentation. In 1825, after public school education, he enrolled at Edinburgh University.

Ray: On returning to England in 1836, Darwin set to work examining and disseminating the extensive collection of specimens he acquired during the voyage. He quickly established a reputation as an accomplished naturalist on the London scene. In 1839 he married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. That same year he published his journal of the voyage of the Beagle, which brought him immediate celebrity among London’s intellectuals. In 1842 he and Emma moved to Down House in Kent. It was there that she bore ten children and she and Charles spent the rest of their lives.

Stan: On returning to England in 1836, Darwin set to work examining and disseminating the extensive collection of natural history specimens acquired during the voyage. He quickly established a reputation as an accomplished naturalist on the London scene. In 1839 he married Emma Wedgwood, and saw his journal of the voyage of the Beagle published. In 1842 he and Emma moved to Downe house, Kent where Emma would bear 10 children and she and he would live for the rest of their lives.

Ray: During his great adventure as the Beagle’s naturalist, Darwin had studied certain aspects of the morphology and biogeography of the many species of plants and animals that he had observed. He eventually concluded that species exhibited varying degrees of similarity because they were to varying degrees related.

Stan: On his great adventure as the Beagleʼs naturalist Darwin had noted and begun to ponder certain aspects of the morphology and biogeography of the many species of plants and animals that he had observed. In particular, he had begun to explore the possibility, and eventually concluded, that species exhibited varying degrees of similarity because they are to varying degrees related.

I've found other similarities, but I think for now this is sufficient to prove that Ray Comfort is a plagiarist and is totally dishonest.

Edit: Since this is one of my most viewed posts in the entire history of the blog, I thought I'd let readers know that I am the author of a book called Atheism and Naturalism, about atheism, the arguments for God (including an extensive section on evolution) and a bit of my own personal philosophy. I also recently released a book called Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence, and the Resurrection of Jesus which takes on the claim that one can prove the resurrection of Jesus with historical evidence and debunks it.

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homo Sapiens Disappoint Me Sometimes

I get disappointed with people in general sometimes. I really do. I was reading something on a computer at school today and a classmate happened to see that it was about Evolution. "Evolution? What a Crock of Shit!" He said. We began talking about it, and he brought up the fact that monkeys still exist, and the fact that Evolution is 'Just a Theory', and so on. He didn't object when I said that the evidence supported evolution, but he thinks that since science has changed a lot in the past that means it must be a-gonna change again! In his eyes, the fact that science changes means that eventually evolution will be abandoned in favor of one particular bronze age myth. Seriously, that's what he said, although he didn't refer to Genesis as just another bronze age myth. I cannot even count the number of fallacies involved in that line of reasoning. It disappoints me to see that there are so many people who aren't any smarter than this.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ray Comfort Makes An Ass Of Himself (Again)

US News published a piece by Ray Comfort in which he defends his "special edition" of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. Comfort brags about how his last book topped Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion on the Amazon Best Seller List. What he doesn't tell you is that his crappy little book was released three years (!) after The God Delusion. Are we supposed to be impressed?

Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, responded to Comfort and really rips him apart.

The Evolution of Confusion