Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update on websites

Hi Everyone,

You may remember me asking for donations a couple of weeks ago in order to keep my two websites, and . I have good news: Thanks to the generous donations of Greg, Patrick, and Jerome these two websites will stay up!! I found a domain provider which is a little cheaper than my current one, and I am in the middle of transferring the domains. It should be complete by next Friday. The sites will not go offline at all because I am transferring while I am under contract with my current provider.

One more thing: I am still working on my book, but I need more resources. I have found a lot online, as well as through my library and the Alabama Virtual Library (an online database with peer-reviewed papers, magazine articles, and so on provided by the state of Alabama) but I know that there are some books out there which would almost certainly be useful to me. I've created an Amazon Wishlist and would appreciate anyone who is willing to purchase one of these books.

Friday, February 27, 2009

7 Major Missing Links Since Darwin

There are some very neat fossils in this article. From the earliest humans to dino-birds and walking fish!

Click here to read the article at NatGeo.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fuck the Prophet Mohammed

The UN has just passed a bill outlawing defamation of religion. (Watch a video on this here).

All I have to say is: What the hell are these people thinking? When you begin to shelter any idea from ridicule, defamation, or criticism, you are imposing on freedom, which Western Civilization is based on. Our happiness and livelihood depend upon being free. What on earth could be more important than the happiness of the people? Nothing!! And least of all some bullshit religion which idolizes a child molester.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Greatest Story Ever Garbled

Tim Callahan, Skeptic Magazine's expert on religion, has written an excellent article debunking the assertions of the movie Zeitgeist which allege that Jesus was a mythical figure based on earlier sun gods. I highly recommend it and have only minor disagreements with Callahan (namely on the authenticity of Josephus' reference to Jesus). It is a very good analysis of bad arguments for Jesus Mythicism.


What a Fucktard

Many of you may remember that long ago I had a throwdown with an apologist from my home state of Alabama about Vestigial Organs.

The same dumbass, Kyle Butt, appeared in a Youtube video I recently stumbled across. For all those who do not live in the South, let me assure you that most of us are not mentally retarded. Nor does the vast majority of Alabama, or the South in general, have such a stereotypical accent.

In the video, Butt-fuck tries to tell us that faith isn't really belief without evidence, it is belief because of evidence. That's funny, because it wasn't to the author of Hebrews: Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Does that sound like the author was trying to put forth an evidence based worldview to you?

Kyle then tries to claim that the divinity of the Bible can be proven because it is consistent. Did Kyle overlook Matthew 26:29, in which Jesus says that he will not drink of the fruit of the vine until he has come in his father's kingdom , and Matt. 27:34, in which Jesus drinks from a sponge filled with wine while on the cross? By the way, if you want to see this contradiction, you will have to use the NIV rather than the KJV (which says Jesus drank vinegar from the sponge). You see, the KJV was translated from a very erroneous manuscript which contained many scribal changes - ie, places where man saw fit to alter the "Holy Word of God" to get around embarrassing contradictions such as the one mentioned.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Will Richard Dawkins Debate Ray "Banana Man" Comfort?

Here is a very humorous exchange Richard Dawkins posted on his forum:

I have just had the following email exchange with a journalist, who seems to be acting as some kind of intermediary on behalf of the Banana Man:

I'm trying to reach Prof. Dawkins for a response to a challenge from author Ray Comfort toProf. Dawkins to a debate, with a $10,000 reward to Mr. Dawkins, win, loseor draw. Would I be able to reach you?This is an excerpt from the report: Comfort added, "I will donate $10,000 to him, or give it to any children'scharity he names. All I ask is that he goes into a studio and gives me 20 minutes on why there is no God and why evolution is scientific. Then I willgive 20 minutes on how we can know God exists and why evolution is nothing more than an unsubstantiated and unscientific fairy tale for grownups. Thenwe both will have 10 minutes to respond." Sadly, I have found that even evolution's most staunch believers are afraid to debate, because they know that their case for atheism and evolution is less than extremely weak," Comfort said. "I would be delighted (and honored) if Mr. Dawkins has the courage to debate me, but I'm not holding my breath."

I replied
I'm not aware of having had any communication from Mr Comfort, whom I know only as the Banana Man (you won't believe what you see if youtake a look at -- no it's not a MontyPython sketch, he really means it).$10,000 is less than the typical fee that I am ordinarily offered for lecturing to a serious audience (I often don't accept it, especially in the case of a student audience, because I am a dedicated teacher). It is not, therefore, a worthwhile inducement for me to travel all theway across the Atlantic to debate with an ignorant fool. You can tell him that if he donates $100,000 to the Richard Dawkins Foundation forReason and Science (it's a charitable donation, tax deductible) I'll do it. A further condition is that it will be filmed by Josh Timonen for my website,, and distributed by Josh as a DVD, if he thinks it is funny enough. To this end, it would be nice if Mr Comfort would reprise the ever popular Banana Sketch.
Richard Dawkins

The journalist replied
Sir, Thank you for your response. And please understand I'm only a reporterin the middle, but Mr. Comfort has suggested the possibility of raising theoffer to $20,000. Your reaction?

And I replied to this:-

Thank you, yes, I appreciate that you are only a reporter in the middle.$20,000 is closer to the fees that I am customarily offered. However, I am not in this for the money. My interest is in getting the Banana Man to PART with $100,000 of his money so that that money will NOT be available for buying animatronic dinosaurs with saddles, or other similar nonsense. The fact that he would be making a substantial donation to a charity dedicated to Reason and Science adds to the humour of the situation. Talking of humour, by the way, did you look at the great Banana video? It beats the Peanut Butter video for laughs, but only by a short head:
Richard Dawkins

Settin' Trends for Abiogenesis Calculations

Here are some creationist calculations concerning how probable the origin of life is:

This calculation was made in the 1940's
1 in 10^40,000
(Fred Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space)

This calculation was made in the 1980's
1 in 10^2000
(Michael Denton, Evolution: A theory in crisis)

This calculation was made in the 2000's
1 in 10^125
(Stephen C. Meyer, Evidence for Design, pg. 75)

Now, who can tell me what the trend is here?
; )

UFO's explained

Found via

Mysterious UFO sightings may go hand in hand with a puzzling natural phenomenon known as sprites — flashes high in the atmosphere triggered by thunderstorms.The dancing lights have appeared above most thunderstorms throughout history, but researchers did not start studying them until one accidentally recorded a sighting on camera in 1989.

"Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," said Colin Price, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft."

Researchers have detected the flashes between 35 and 80 miles (56-129 km) from the ground, far above the 7 to 10 miles (11-16 km) where usual lightning occurs. Sprites can take the form of fast-paced balls of electricity, although previous footage has suggested streaks or tendrils.The cause or function of the flashes remains murky, but Price suggested that they could explain some of the UFO reports which have cropped up over the years. That might provide some solace for UFO enthusiasts disappointed by human-caused hoaxes in the past.

Both jetliner pilots and astronauts have previously reported sightings of sprites, along with a different but equally mysterious phenomenon known as blue jets.Price and his colleagues have focused on "winter sprites" which appear only in the northern hemisphere's winter months. Their remote-controlled roof-mounted cameras can spot thunderstorms producing sprites far out over the Mediterranean Sea.Triangulation techniques have also allowed the researchers to calculate the dimensions of the sprites."

The candles in the sprites are up to 15 miles high, with the cluster of candles 45 miles wide — it looks like a huge birthday celebration!" Price said.Sprites may have some effect on the Earth's ozone layer, but researchers suspect that the global impact is small.

Here's another great article which debunks the "top ten" alien encounters.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Couple of Nuns = Couple of Dykes

Indian Nun Claims Sex is Rife Within the Church

Bookshops throughout India's Christian communities in Kerala have already sold out of Amen, the autobiography of Sister Jesme, who has alleged that priests and nuns not only broke their vows of celibacy with each other but regularly forced novices to have sex with them.

The Catholic Church in India is mired in a series of sexual controversies, and has only just begun to recover from the dismissal of a senior bishop who "adopted" an attractive 26-year-old female companion as his "daughter".

The book by the former nun reveals how as a young novice she was propositioned in the confession box by a priest who cited biblical references to "divine kisses". Later she was cornered by a lesbian nun at a college where they were teaching. "She would come to my bed in the night and do lewd acts and I could not stop her," she claims.

When she was sent to Bangalore to stay with a priest known for his piety, he lectured her about the need for "physical love" and later assaulted her.

"Back in his room, he tried to fondle me and when I resisted, got up and asked angrily if I had seen a man. When I said no, he stripped himself, ejaculated and forced me to strip," she writes.
According to Sister Jesme, senior church officials twice tried to admit her into rehabilitation clinics and claimed she had mental problems after she complained about the scale of sexual abuse and the number of illicit affairs between nuns and priests.

Dr Paul Thelekkat, a spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Catholic church said he had some sympathy for sister Jesme, and respected her freedom to express her views, but he believed her claims were trivial. "How far what she says is well-founded I can't say, but the issues are not very serious. We're living with human beings in a community and she should realise this is part of human life," he told the Daily Telegraph.

My Comments:
Oh the porn movies that could be made from stories like this.In all seriousness, this incident does not surprise me at all. My mom has a book called "A Change of Habit" by a former nun and according to her she became aware of lots of sexual escapades that went on within the church: She walked in on a priest and a nun in the act, One of the Mothers sexually abused teenage girls, and so on.I mean, the vast majority of people do not have it within them to resist sexual temptation for their entire lives. The sooner we learn this, the better. Also, what good comes from people abstaining from sex for their entire lives? None.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Post Office Sucks

The Post Office Just now delivered an invitation to a high school graduation... From 1987.

Who wants these sites to stay up?

As most of you know, about a year ago I registered two websites:

A lot of atheists have complimented the latter as being an excellent resource, and have thanked me for creating it. Anyway, I purchased the domain names from Yahoo! and my contract is about to expire. I'm gonna need $35 to keep godriddance up, and another $35 to keep aigbusted (the site, not this blog). I don't have a job. So, if anyone wants to donate to keep one (or both) of these sites up, you can send a paypal payment to:

Ryansarcade AT Yahoo.Com

If I don't raise the necessary money in the next two weeks or so, these sites will have to go under. But, if worst comes to worst, this blog will still be here, and I will still be working on my book (Finished two chapters and am currently researching for further chapters).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

AiG Creationists

There is an excellent new post over at the blog "Panda's Thumb" which exposes the fallacies of creationist "presuppositionalism". Richard Hoppe writes,

"As I read those apologetics missives, one message is loud and clear. The core of AIG’s message is that one must choose one’s presuppositions and thereafter interpret the evidence in the light of those presuppositions. The creationist museum makes that very clear. An early display has two paleontologists digging in what looks like a sand pit, with one of them, the kindly-looking creationist, explaining that he and his evolutionist friend (who looks vaguely Asian and never speaks) use the same evidence, but that they interpret it from different starting points, Biblical creationism and “man’s reason.” Hence each interprets the evidence to support his presuppositions; the evidence is not a tool for testing presuppositions and assumptions, it is interpreted through their lenses.

Georgia Purdom, creationist geneticist in the employ of Answers in Genesis, is also very clear about it. She says

I had a friendly “debate” with a gentleman afterwards concerning the merits of presuppositionalism vs. evidentialism. This person believed there was “neutral ground” where evolutionists and creationists can debate the evidence and that the evidentialist approach was better to use with non-Christians. I tried to help him see that neutral ground does not exist because both sides have presuppositions–creationists start with the authority of the Word of God and evolutionists start with the authority of human reasoning. If we as creationists agree to “leave the Bible out of it,” then we are starting with the same presuppositions as the evolutionists and will not be effective."

Hoppe exposes this fallacious thinking with this:

"Now, the presupposition of the U.S. justice system is (purportedly) that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But if we adopt the AIG/ICR philosophical/apologetic position regarding presuppositions, no amount of evidence that seems to support guilt can alter the presumption of innocence. Hence if I’m ever charged with a crime, I want AIG creationists on the jury: I’m guaranteed an acquittal, because, you see, evidence doesn’t count in evaluating presuppositions! And doing CSI becomes infinitely easier: Decide who’s guilty beforehand and simply interpret the evidence appropriately."

I would like to add that

1. Even if AiG's philosophy is completely correct, How can a creationist assert that his or her presuppositions are any more likely to be right than an atheist's, a buddhist's, or a taoist's?

2. Georgia Purdom claims to be accepting God's word as superior to her own human reason. But how does she know that the bible is God's word if not through her own human reason? If she simly presupposes it, she has no right to criticize anyone who simply assumes that their own reasoning is correct. Besides, why would a creator make someone with such fallible reasoning? It would seem as though a creator would make human beings smart enough to find the truth no matter what their "presuppositions".

Why Women Are More Religious Than Men

Pretty Interesting article that can be read here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Earth Science

This was reported a few months ago, and I've been meaning to blog on it, but for various reasons I have not... Until now. You see, analyses of some very old minerals, 4.2 billion years old, to be exact, show that on this very early earth there was an ocean and that earth may have even been frozen over during this time. This is a huge change from our original understanding, which was that the earth was a fiery hell up until around 3.9 billion years ago. Of course, the new research has a few skeptics (This is a new and different picture of the early earth, after all), But, this research ought to stick in the craw of creationists for several reasons:

1. It provides evidence that there was a primordial soup. For some reason creationists like Lee Strobel and Michael Denton think this a major point. It has now vanished. There is, at very minimum, some evidence for the primordial ocean.

2. It allows hundreds of millions of years more than previously thought for the origin of life to occur. This means that the origin of life is allowed to be even more improbable, since we now have good reason to think that it had much more time to happen.

3. If the earth was frozen over, as this research suggests, it provides even more opportunity for life to originate in ice, which is what many scientists have begun to suspect.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Here's how you respond to a Creationist

Here's how one evolutionary biologist responded to an invitation to debate:

Dear Dr. Klinghoffer:

Thank you for this interesting and courteous invitation to set up a debate about evolution and creationism (which includes its more recent relabeling as "intelligent design") with a speaker from the Discovery Institute. Your invitation is quite surprising, given the sneering coverage of my recent newspaper editorial that you yourself posted on the Discovery Institute's website:

However, this kind of two-faced dishonesty is what the scientific community has come to expect from the creationists.

Academic debate on controversial topics is fine, but those topics need to have a basis in reality. I would not invite a creationist to a debate on campus for the same reason that I would not invite an alchemist, a flat-earther, an astrologer, a psychic, or a Holocaust revisionist. These ideas have no scientific support, and that is why they have all been discarded by credible scholars. Creationism is in the same category.

Instead of spending time on public debates, why aren't members of your institute publishing their ideas in prominent peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? If you want to be taken seriously by scientists and scholars, this is where you need to publish. Academic publishing is an intellectual free market, where ideas that have credible empirical support are carefully and thoroughly explored. Nothing could possibly be more exciting and electrifying to biology than scientific disproof of evolutionary theory or scientific proof of the existence of a god. That would be Nobel Prize winning work, and it would be eagerly published by any of the prominent mainstream journals.

"Conspiracy" is the predictable response by Ben Stein and the frustrated creationists. But conspiracy theories are a joke, because science places a high premium on intellectual honesty and on new empirical studies that overturn previously established principles. Creationism doesn't live up to these standards, so its proponents are relegated to the sidelines, publishing in books, blogs, websites, and obscure journals that don't maintain scientific standards.

Finally, isn't it sort of pathetic that your large, well-funded institute must scrape around, panhandling for a seminar invitation at a little university in northern New England? Practicing scientists receive frequent invitations to speak in science departments around the world, often on controversial and novel topics. If creationists actually published some legitimate science, they would receive such invitations as well.

So, I hope you understand why I am declining your offer. I will wait patiently to read about the work of creationists in the pages of Nature and Science. But until it appears there, it isn't science and doesn't merit an invitation.

In closing, I do want to thank you sincerely for this invitation and for your posting on the Discovery Institute Website. As an evolutionary biologist, I can't tell you what a badge of honor this is. My colleagues will be envious.

Sincerely yours,

Nick Gotelli

Not the Impossible Faith

Just got word today that Richard Carrier has released his book, Not the Impossible Faith. It's essentially a rewrite of his online book, Was Christianity Too Improbable to Be False? And he tells me he has rewritten some sections in the book in order to provide greater clarity and made various other minor changes. He blogs on it here.

Anyway, the paperback copy looks pretty pricey (Nearly thirty dollars!) But the downloadable version is a steal at two dollars and fifty cents.

Just to avoid confusion: This book does not deal with Jesus Mythicism. Carrier's book on that won't be available for a good while I suspect. This book only deals with the claim that Christianity spread and survived because it was true.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

Embryo I Drew

I'm taking Principles of Biology II right now, and I just wanted to post a picture of an embryo I colored. Something about embryos at this stage really strikes me. They're art.

Funny as Hell

Click on this to see something funny. WARNING: There is nudity here, so don't click if you are under 18, around family, or at work.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Hey Everyone,

I have not been making many blog posts lately. It's because I have a new job in which I work 50 hours a week. Night shift (7:30 pm-6:00 am). So of course, my blogging is going to slow down a little bit. It won't stop, but it will go down to like, 3 or 4 posts a week.

As for my book, I've finished 2 chapters of it and will soon begin on a third. I've stayed reading loads and loads of books to help me out. Here are some of the books I have read:

Endless Universe - Two physicists explain a new theory that allows the Universe to be eternal. I am going to give a brief overview of their theory in my book.

The Reason Driven Life - This is a book by Robert Price (from The God Who Wasn't There) which is a response to Pastor Rick Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life. I must say it is a devastating blow to fundamentalist Christianity.

How to Think Straight - This is a book by atheist philosopher Antony Flew which exposes common errors in thinking.

The Cosmic Landscape - Book by Leonard Susskind on String Theory and Multiple Universes. I doubt that I will learn anything from this book that I will need to know in writing my book, but this work is interesting nonetheless.

There have been many other books which I have only read portions of because I did not need to know anymore.

Anyway, those are the books I've read over the past few months, and I have a good many more I'm planning on reading.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Looks like a pretty good show on NatGeo. Here's some info and cool stuff about 'Morphed' here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Jesus Project

For those of you who have not heard of the Jesus Project (or the massive write-up Richard Carrier did of one of their meetings), it is a secular attempt to reconstruct who Jesus probably was and the events in his life (if indeed there was a Jesus, which is a question which will be addressed). Here's an excerpt from the Jesus Project's Intro:

"We believe the mixing of theological motives and historical inquiry is impermissible. We regard previous attempts to rule the question out of court as vestiges of a time when the Church controlled the boundaries of permissible inquiry into its sacred books. More directly, we regard the question of the historical Jesus as a testable hypothesis, and we are committed to no prior conclusions about the outcome of our inquiry. This is a statement of our principles, and we intend to stick to them."

I certainly hope they will live up to such noble words.

They won't finish the Project until December 2012, so in the meantime I recommend checking out their list of articles and forums. Especially interesting to me was an "Open Letter to Lee Strobel". This guy really holds Strobel's feet to the fire for the self-deception he engages in. I really enjoyed his quote from Plato:

"….they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them, no one knows what awaits us."

I never knew about this before, but it really solidifies the link between the mystery cults and Christianity. I was annoyed that the author of the open letter did tell the exact source, but I own a copy of Plato's works and was able to find it: It is in Republic Book II 364e-365a.

I know this post has been sort of a disconnected ramble, so sorry. One final thing: Be sure and check out April DeConick's new blog post. It's pretty interesting.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Transitional Whale Fossil

She's a beaut. Check out Carl Zimmer's write up or the original peer-reviewed paper.

Doubting Altruism

Here's a great article from Skeptic magazine. It's about some new experiments which cast doubt on whether chimps actually exhibit altruistic behavior. It suggests to me that maybe altruism is caused more by cultural factors rather than evolutionary ones.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Take That, Creationists!

A new study has shown that the evolutionary tree of life and the fossil record are in remarkable agreement. Via Sciencedaily:

The researchers studied gaps in the fossil record, so-called ‘ghost ranges’, where the evolutionary tree indicates there should be fossils but where none have yet been found. They mapped these gaps onto the evolutionary tree and calculated statistical probabilities to find the closeness of the match.

Dr Wills said: “Gaps in the fossil record can occur for a number of reasons. Only a tiny minority of animals are preserved as fossils because exceptional geological conditions are needed. Other fossils may be difficult to classify because they are incomplete; others just haven’t been found yet.

“Pinning down an accurate date for some fossils can also prove difficult. For example, the oldest fossil may be so incomplete that it becomes uncertain as to which group it belongs. This is particularly true with fragments of bones. Our study made allowances for this uncertainty.
“We are excited that our data show an almost perfect agreement between the evolutionary tree and the ages of fossils in the rocks. This is because it confirms that the fossil record offers an extremely accurate account of how these amazing animals evolved over time and gives clues as to how mammals and birds evolved from them.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Solution to the Problem of Induction

Here is an idea I have for solving the problem of induction, which draws upon the thoughts of Karl Popper but also manages to go a little further:

If I drop an object, it will fall. I can do it again and again, dropping the object a million times and watching it fall a million times. But how do I know that the object will drop every time just because it has dropped every time in my experience?

How do I know that the sun will rise tomorrow morning? I formulate a hypothesis that the sun will rise every morning, and I know that it is to be preferred because it is simpler. The reason it is simpler is because it employs fewer assumptions (assuming that the sun always rises is simpler than assuming that the sun occasionally rises and occasionally does not). The reason fewer assumptions are preferred is because, all things being equal, the more assumptions we make the more likely our hypothesis will be wrong (If the assumptions are equal to one another, and each one has, for example, a ten percent chance of being wrong, then obviously the hypothesis with fewer assumptions has a higher chance of being right). This brings us to mathematics and logic, which are self evident and must be accepted in order to even think.

Is my solution successful? You be the judge.