Sunday 1 May 2011

Burnee links for Sunday

The Blog : Why I’d Rather Not Speak About Torture : Sam Harris
Is Sam Harris calling it quits? His point seems to be that there are some matters of ethics that it is impossible to discuss rationally.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a pompous old gasbag who doesn’t understand evolution « Why Evolution Is True
Jerry Coyne appears to blow a gasket over one theologian's review of another. (This is what theologians do. Nobody else is listening, so let them get on with it.)

The Edinburgh Science Festival, Creationism and the Centre for Intelligent Design | Wonderful Life
The Centre for Intelligent Design plays fast and loose with definitions — corrected here.
(Via BCSE.)

Wait, I thought they believed in an absolute morality? : Pharyngula
Greta Christina rightly condemned William Lane Craig's twisted morality. P Z Myers follows suit. The fact that Craig thinks his position is moral (when anyone with a gram of moral sense clearly knows it isn't) illustrates perfectly the corrupting influence of scripture.

Secular rituals the honest choice - On Faith - The Washington Post
"Why devalue a promise of commitment by making it in the name of a deity in which we do not believe?"
Paula Kirby on the importance of staying true to your principles when it comes to rites of passage.

With friends like these: Atheists against the New Atheism - ABC Religion & Ethics - Opinion
Russell Blackford on the New Atheism backlash.

Why do Americans still dislike atheists? - The Washington Post
It's a good question. Less of a problem in the UK, but even here, as in America, there are some in the public eye who are openly contemptuous of atheists. That doesn't mean they're representative, it just means that the media seeks them out.

Creation Science Movement - News - BCSE and Ekklesia Seek to Restrict Basic Freedom in Schools
But the CSM wants creationism to be taught as "fact" — or at the very least as something that is equivalent to evolution, when it clearly isn't. We've seen what happens when creationism is merely restricted to RE lessons (for example in Muslim schools the children don't believe what they're told in science classes, for the simple reason that in RE they're told that the science contradicts scripture). The creationists have the remedy in their own hands. Go out and do some research to show that creationism is scientifically valid, and get it published in respected, peer-reviewed science journals. Creationism will then be given the chance it deserves (as, indeed, it is given now).

Catholicism a Blood Cult – Official! : Atheism
Yuk. (Follow the link at the post, to the BBC article.)

Enough of the whining about New Atheists! - steve's posterous
Steve Zara on the faux "reasonableness" of Karla McLaren's recent post attacking the Gnus.

1 in 20 don't give a monkey's about Darwin - News - TES Connect
"Many first-year biology students reject evolution, survey finds." This Times Educational Supplement article bizarrely concludes with an ID proponent:
"Alastair Noble, director of the Centre for Intelligent Design, said if the message of the research was that students should have more opportunity to assess the scientific evidence for the various positions around origins, no one would disagree with that."
But the message of the research is that 5 percent of undergraduate biology intake is woefully ignorant of the fundamental principles of biology. If the schools won't fix this, the universities must. Noble goes on to imply that evolution is a non-intuitive, dogmatic religious position, while intelligent design attempts to "account for the sophistication we find in natural and living systems in terms of mind, as well as matter and energy”. Leaving aside Noble's total inversion of the facts here, this isn't what intelligent design does; ID is merely an argument from ignorance: "it's all too complicated, therefore [insert myth here] must have done it". There's no account or explanation in ID. It ought to be crystal clear by now: intelligent design is not science.
(Via BCSE.)