Thoughts On The Sandy Hook Shootings

This was vomited out in a ranty, knee-jerky fashion without edits or revisions. Please forgive my sloppiness and lack of references.

I'm getting pretty tired of hearing the following comments regarding the Sandy Hook shootings:

1. Things like this didn't used to happen.
Yes. Things like this have always happened. People have killed other human beings for little or no reason for as long as humans have existed.

2. People might have killed other people in the past, but they wouldn't take out groups of innocent children and then kill themselves.
Yes. They have. Do some research.

3. This was an act of hatred.
No. This was not an act of hatred. It was the act of a mentally ill man with access to large quantities of ammunition and assault weapons.

4. This was due to the decline of morality in our society.
No. Mental illness doesn't care about morals. An individual with a normal and healthy brain with the capacity for empathy will not commit an act like the one in Sandy Hook.

5. If we had more religion in our societies and in our schools, we wouldn't see things like this happen. Mental illness does not discriminate. No amount of religion (or lack thereof) will keep a mentally ill individual from acting on violent ideation.

6. In the past, if someone was crazy, they'd maybe kill a few people at most -- they'd never enter a school and kill 27 people.
In the past, schools were smaller, our cities and towns were not as densely populated, and assault rifles (and associated rounds of ammunition) were not available on the internet. The internet is only a recent phenomenon. One room school-houses existed just a generation ago. Do the math. If a psychopath had walked into a schoolhouse with an ax or a musket in centuries past, they might get away with killing or maiming a handful of children. And you better believe that psychopaths did kill women and children in the past. We are often blinded by our own lack of appreciation of time and history.

7. This person was pure evil.
We love to exculpate ourselves from culpability. Evil is a human construct. There is nothing at all supernatural about a school shooting.

Let's be honest and admit that what makes these horrible recent events seem so unimaginable is the fact that in all of history, the recipe for such events has not been possible. Mental illness + easy access to assault weapons + densely populated cities, towns, schools, malls = unprecedented fatalities caused by lone actors.

This wasn't an act of evil. It is not a sign of a decaying morality. It cannot be attributed to a lack of religion. These kinds of incidents have always happened -- Americans simply live in a time characterized by a) easy access to assault weapons online 24/7 and in neighborhood stores in every town in America, b) a widespread lack of understanding about mental illness, the stigma associated with it, and the failure of parents, families, co-workers, and neighbors to identify the signs of serious mental illness, c) densely populated cities, towns, and buildings.

It's time we stopped making excuses, accept the realities of our time and place in history, and work to improve the contributing factors that we actually can control.


Our Story In One Minute

A tapestry of footage tracing the cosmic and biological origins of our species, set to original music. Another great mash-up from Melodysheep.



The Bible As A Voting Guide

Over at Christian Post, there's an interesting opinion piece entitled Why the Bible Is the Best Voters Guide.

Here are a few of the key takeaways from the piece, along with quotes from the op-ed:

Don't Vote For The Kenyan
Civil leaders should be selected from among their own people. People must know the candidate. This is why the Constitution of the United States requires the president must be naturally born in the U.S.

Don't Vote For The Black Guy Who Supports Equal Pay, Women's Rights, And Equality
He must execute justice without respect to race, gender, and national origin, or any other categorical distinction made in society.

Don't Vote For Women
The Scriptures require that we "choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men." The word men used here is not the generic term for "mankind" but rather the word for "male." Everywhere the qualifications for civil leaders are mentioned in the Bible, males – not females – are identified.

Don't Vote For the Guy Who Endorsed Gay Marriage -- But The Mormon Still Makes Us Nervous
The Bible is clear that marriage is between one man and one woman, since "the two shall become one flesh"...This definition excludes multiple wives.

Never mind The Establishment Clause
So before you consult all the other voting guides, make sure you have rightly prioritized the words of Scripture above all the other voices for how you analyze the candidates.


AFA's Bryan Fischer: I Am A "Prophetic Voice" Warning Against The Gay Agenda

On yesterday's program, Bryan Fischer claimed to be a "prophetic voice," stating that America is "going to have to choose between the homosexual agenda and liberty, because we cannot have both."



Bill Hicks & George Carlin, Auto-Tuned, Share Their Views On Life

"The big electron -- it doesn't punish, it doesn't reward, it doesn't judge at all, it just is."


LifeWay Drops Rachel Held Evans' 'A Year of Biblical Womanhood' Over Content, Continues Selling Bible

LifeWay Christian Resources has dropped A Year Of Biblical Womanhood, by award-winning Evangelical author Rachel Held Evans, over her use of the word 'vagina.'

Meanwhile, LifeWay will continue selling a book that condones murder, acts of genocide, slavery, and contains acts of drunken incest, oral sex, and the collection of 200 dead men's foreskins.

That book would be the Bible, LifeWay's number one seller.

Evans' book is an entry into the 'do something for a year and write about it' genre. In 'A Year of Biblical Womanhood,' Evans writes of her experience living as a woman under the Bible's strict guidelines, including "growing out her hair, making her own clothes, covering her head, obeying her husband, rising before dawn, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church, and even camping out in the front yard during her period."

What's LifeWay's beef, then, if Evans is simply describing her womanly allegiance to the Bible?

Here's the passage (emphasis mine) that severed her ties with LifeWay (Evans refused to change the manuscript after requests to do so):
I signed my first abstinence pledge when I was just fifteen. I’d been invited by some friends to a fall youth rally at the First Baptist Church, and in the fellowship hall one night, the youth leader passed around neon blue and pink postcards that included a form letter to God promising to remain sexually abstinent until marriage. We had only a few minutes to add our signatures, and all my friends were signing theirs, so I used the back of my metal chair to scribble my name across the dotted line before marching to the front of the room to pin my promise to God and to my vagina onto a giant corkboard for all to see. The youth leader said he planned to hang the corkboard in the hallway outside the sanctuary so that parents could marvel at the seventy-five abstinence pledges he’d collected that night. It was a pretty cheap way to treat both our bodies and God, come to think of it.
Evans wrote about the Christian bookstore "chokehold" on her blog:
Christian bookstores have developed a reputation for producing a highly sanitized customer experience, purging from their shelves any language, content, or theology that doesn’t meet their uber-conservative standards. Walk into your local LifeWay and you will find plenty of Precious Moments statues, specialty Bibles, Veggie Tale movies, and Thomas Kinkade prints...but little trace of art or literature that intrigues, agitates, and inspires—as true art should! The Christian bookstore experience is, in a word, safe. Butsafe is not how Christians are called to live, and safe is not what artists who are Christians are called to create. In fact, based on LifeWay’s own standards, the Bible itself—which includes profanity, violence, and sex—should be banned from the shelves.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that the problem of sanitized Christian bookstores extends far beyond the inventory on the shelves to create an entire Christian subculture that is so sanitized and safe it often fails to produce art that is relevant to our culture or our lives.
Later in the post, Evans writes candidly about her own experience with LifeWay, saying that she was asked to take out words like “hell,” “damn,” and “kick-ass.”

I'm reminded of Daniel Radosh's funny and insightful expose on Christian pop culture, Rapture Ready!, which contains a wonderful passage in which Radosh discusses Christin publishing taboos with bestselling Christian authors Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti.
I showed them the list of taboos for Christian romance novels.

Peretti shook his head at the prohibitions against dancing, nudity, and words like 'whore.' "They'd never publish The Bible!" He recalled a complaint he'd heard from another Christian writer: "You can kill and stab and shoot, as long as you have all your clothes on when you do it, and don't swear."


Race 2012: Our First 'Post-Racial' Election?

This post is part of PBS's Race 2012 Blogging Project. Race 2012: A Conversation About Race and Politics in America, a PBS election special, uses the current presidential election as a lens through which to explore America’s rapidly changing racial landscape. The film premieres on PBS Thursday October, 16th at 8p.m. (Check local listings)

Post-Racial America?
When Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on November 4, 2007, many started throwing around the phrase "post-racial America." While we certainly had reached a historic milestone -- much quicker than many of us would have predicted -- we are nowhere near such a theoretical society devoid of discrimination and prejudice.

The political rhetoric of this election cycle has mostly revolved around jobs, the economy, and federal spending, but there is an undeniable anxiety about race. To be clear, most issues surrounding the 2012 election aren't really about race -- at least not on the surface -- but we can't ignore race's strong undercurrent in this so-called "post-racial" election.

Romney's 47%
By now, everyone has heard (or heard about) the audio tape of Romney discussing the "47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

As we have come to learn, the 47% who don't pay taxes are actually comprised of the super-wealthy, college students, senior citizens, and service members deployed in combat zones, among those who are down on their luck.

Let's not fool ourselves, however. Romney's comments were the epitome of dog whistle politics.

Imira Jones, writing for Colorlines:
Mitt Romney’s comments on “those people” uttered in a video released yesterday are the missing link in the candidates views on race and economic justice.

[His] heartfelt riff was stunningly wrong and counterfactual in almost every way. Frighteningly it was grounded in over 500 years of racial stereotypes about people of color, particularly those of African descent. The former governor didn’t use the word “black.” He didn’t have to. The nature of his economic smear did it for him.
Of course, by claiming that Romney's comments were racial is to risk being accused of playing the "race card" by the right. And so it goes.

Same-Sex Marriage
What does same-sex marriage have to do with race? Quite a bit, actually.

When Obama's stance on same-sex marriage finally evolved (or was forced to evolve by a trigger-happy Biden), many declared that this pro-equality stance would cost him the election. The loudest voices decrying Obama's pro-equality stance came from African-American clergy.

Rev. William Owens, head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors:
“He has not done a smart thing and it might cost him the election,” Owens said during a press conference Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington. “There are more people that want marriage to be right than there are homosexuals.”...“[Obama] has ignored the black community because he thinks we are in his pocket because he’s black. We refuse to give him a pass.”
While the majority of African Americans have historically been opposed to same-sex marriage, polls taken after Obama's announcement seemed to indicate that opposition is waning.

Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee?
For those not following the story, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has leveled accusations that his challenger Elizabeth Warren claimed Cherokee heritage in order to benefit her Harvard law career. The accusations have prompted a series of inflammatory remarks from Republicans, pundits, and Native American organizations.

John McCain reacted to the allegations by stating, "I’m entertained. I just think it’s bizarre...I know lots and lots of Native Americans, they have a very huge presence in my state and I’ve yet to meet one of them who claims to be related to Elizabeth Warren.”

While Brown's accusations have boosted his chances against his Democrat opponent, his own camp didn't score any points when staffers were caught on video making tomahawk gestures towards a group of Warren supporters.

Voters are left deciding which is the worst offense: allegedly ginning up minority status for career advancement, or making racially charged gestures in public.

'You're Racist If you Vote For Obama Just Because He's Black'
This is not just something you might hear from your Tea Partying uncle at Thanksgiving. It's something you also hear from African Americans. Not many, but some, including Ben Kinchlow, minister/broadcaster/author and founder of the organizations Americans for Israel and the African American Political Awareness Coalition.

Kinchlow, writing in World Net Daily:
Let me state unequivocally: If you are a black person, and you are voting for Obama solely “because he is black,” then you are by default placing your imprimatur on racism. You are, albeit unknowingly, saying the Klan is right to demand a vote for a candidate solely “because he is white."...Has “the land of the free and the home of the brave” turned into a Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) or South Africa where only race matters?
It's important to note that Kinchlow seems to have a beef with Obama regarding his stance on same-sex marriage.

Magic Johnson, on the other hand, recently stated on CNN:
One thing African-Americans are going to do: They’re either go to vote for President Obama or they’re going to stay home and vote for nobody.”
This race stuff isn't so black and white, is it?

At Least You Know Where They Stand
I grew up in North Carolina, in the shadow of Jesse Helms, a man who didn't mince words when it came to race. Jesse Helms was so blatantly racist (and homophobic) that his own staff coined a slogan that would more or less define his career: "You may not agree with Jesse, but at least you know where he stands."

The past four years have provided us with countless examples of blatant political sentiment. It doesn't take much to know exactly where these folks stand.

In California, there was the empty chair hanging from a noose, with a watermelon and a sign stating, "Go back to Kenya."

In New Jersey, a shop-owner displayed a picture of Obama in witch-doctor garb.

In Ohio, a caller left a highly offensive post-debate message on the voice mailbox of a local labor organization.

In California, a professional rodeo clown told spectators a racist joke about Michelle Obama.

Also in California, a GOP official send an email depicting Obama's parents as monkeys.

In Arizona, radio host Barbara Espinosa said of Barack Obama, "I don't believe in calling him the first black president," she said, "I voted for the white guy myself. I call him a monkey." When told this was a racist comment, Espinosa replied, "with a last name of Espinosa I'm anything but racist."

There seems to be an awful lot of that going around these days -- people unaware of their own racism who are very quick to blame the president himself of playing the race card. Many whites will will cry "reverse racism," a claim utterly disingenuous, if not laughable. Whites can hardly understand what true racism entails given their status in America over the past few hundred years.

Guilty of Being Black
One of the strangest racial phenomena of the past four years is the determination of some on the right to paint Obama as blacker than he actually portrays himself when in the limelight.

Take the 'leaked' video of then-senator Obama speaking at Hampton University in Virginia. In the video, it is purported that Obama speaks in a "racially-charged tone" -- in other words, he sounds more black.

Obama also speaks of the inequality exhibited in the government's response to Katrina. In other words, Obama is "favoring" African-Americans over the rest of America. It has been remarked that the release of this video was timed to counter Romney's "47% video."

It was baffling to hear talk show hosts remark about Obama sounding "more black" in this video, as if we were getting a glimpse of the "real Obama," an obvious tactic to associate Obama with the bogeymen of the 2008 election: Jeremiah Wright, ACORN, the Black Panthers, and Islam.

This charge is about boring as the fact that I often slip back into my Appalachian drawl when I am around my NC relatives at Thanksgiving.

And when people accuse the president of exhibiting signs of his allegiance to the interests of black people, I can't help but think about the past 40+ presidents and their laser-focus on the interests of white folks.

Birtherism, Immigration, and The Fear of Otherness
What does the Birther movement, voter ID legislation, and the draconian immigration laws of Arizona, Utah, Alabama, and South Carolina have in common? The GOP will tell you it's all about preserving the integrity of the constitution and the vision our forefathers had for America. While we can't deny that there might be a bit of truth to that, it comes down to xenophobia and otherness anxiety.

And while xenophobia can be found in all cultures, can be observed in primates, and most likely was crucial to the survival of our ancestors, as modern humans, we are (or, should be, anyway) civilized enough to suppress any unfounded anxieties associated with otherness.

This is difficult to accomplish when you have the propaganda machine working 24 hours a day to validate any anxieties one may have. Too many Americans will readily parrot AM radio talking points that paint African Americans, Latinos, and Arab Americans as threatening to the American way of life.

This xenophobia-stoking propaganda comes in the form of anecdotes, crude internet memes, forwarded emails, conservative pundits, bloggers, and talk radio hosts. They tell us that non-whites are living the dream on welfare (whites actually form the largest racial group on welfare). They tell us that blacks and hispanics are prone to violence and crime (whites commit the vast majority of crimes in America). They tell us to fear Arab Americans, who want to kill us (the fact is that America sees more Jewish acts of terrorism than Islamic terrorism).

However, we humans are not only prone to fear otherness, we are also prone to believe things that 'feel' true to us. It is often through personal experience and education that we overcome. Yet, so many never gain the experience or education necessary to do so. Propaganda, as we have seen throughout history, is designed to appeal emotion, not intellect. And so it goes.

Are We There Yet?
The fact that we have an African-American man sitting in the White House is a clear indicator that America has come a long way since the days of slavery and segregation. Something definitely happened on November 4 of 2008. We witnessed something truly wonderful that day -- a sign that we had fulfilled -- in part at least -- the elusive dream of Martin Luther King, Jr.

But like most important social causes, progress is often followed by temporary setbacks. As we have seen recently in the marriage equality fight, a step forward is often followed by a few steps back.

Those of us living today will likely never see a true 'Post-Racial' America. It is worth asking if such a thing will ever exist. 'Post-Racial' is as utopian as 'Post-Sexist,' or 'Post-Homophobic.'  The arc is bending in the right direction, but it is much longer than any of us had ever anticipated.


GOP Volunteer Tells Voter Obama Is Muslim, Socialist

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

In audio picked up by an answering machine, a volunteer for the Republican Party of Clay County can be heard calling President Barack Obama "a Muslim" and saying he wants to "get rid of your Medicare" while reaching out to voters in support of Mitt Romney's campaign.

The call was made as part of a statewide phone bank for Romney's campaign being conducted by the Clay County GOP. The volunteer, who was not identified, did not hang up before moving onto her next call.

Her pitch to the next person was picked up on the first person's answering machine.


Chick-fil-A Sandwiches No Longer Deep Fried In Hate

When zillions of 'family values' eaters lined up to support Chick-fil-A on August 1, many conservatives felt the turnout signaled a victory for free speech and Biblical values.

While those folks may have won the battle on that day, they didn't (and won't) win the culture war.

Via The Atlantic:
Fried chicken just went back to being delicious as the chain promised to stop "supporting organizations with political agendas," which includes anti-gay groups--a move that's gotten them back into a Chicago's good graces. We learned the news by way of Chicago's The Civil Right Agenda (TCRA) an LGBT-rights advocacy group, who report that Chick-fil-A has penned a letter saying, "The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas." That letter was addressed to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who along with Boston mayor Thomas Menino, said they would block the chain for its anti-gay views. WinShape is the chain's not-for-profit charitable arm that had previously donated to groups opposing gay marriage. TCRA adds, "In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage."
While it's likely that CEO Dan Cathy still hasn't changed his anti-LGBT views, and while Chick-fil-A is in no means pro-equality, it is indeed a victory for humanity in that one of our more delicious fast food chains is no longer funneling its profits into organizations that actively discriminate against the LGBT population.

Will the religious right now boycott Chick-fil-A for caving to the gay agenda?


Dr. Pepper 'Evolution Of Flavor' Ad Rankles Fundamentalist Christians On Facebook

Via HuffPo:
Controversy has erupted over the latest Dr. Pepper ad dubbed "The Evolution of Flavor," with a small, but vocal minority of commenters on Facebook posting complaints about the ad's evolution motif. 
The comments began after the ad appeared on the soft drink's official Facebook page Thursday afternoon. 
"I love Dr. Pepper but hate this photo," wrote Kara Duran, "Forget evolution... Jesus all the way!" 
"Well, there goes my support for this company," Jolynn Danae Pilapil wrote.
One of the most recent comments on the Facebook page this morning:

"Another lot going crazy over cartoons rather than when people are killed in the name of their religion.."


Hobby Lobby: Evangelical-Led Business Files Suit Against HHS Mandate

Via Christian Post:
Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a privately held retail chain with 22,500 employees led by a Christian family, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, opposing the Health and Human Services "preventive services" mandate, the company announced Wednesday. The company becomes the largest and only non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the government's contraception mandate.

The company's CEO and founder, David Green, said Wednesday that the mandate would force the Christian-owned-and-operated business to provide, without co-pay, the "morning after pill" and "week after pill" in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to 1.3 million dollars per day.
"We simply cannot abandon our religious beliefs and comply with this mandate," Green said during a teleconference press meeting. "We know that we have been blessed by God's grace and believe it is because we have chosen to live our lives and to operate our business according to His Word and we are very grateful for that. But our faith is being challenged by the federal government."
Hobby Lobby's evangelical roots were first noticed by many during the Chick-fil-A fracas earlier this year. Many news organizations began highlighting other businesses which, like Chick-fil-A, operated on Biblical principles.

CEO David Green, at left
[CEO David] Green is a big contributor to evangelical education, having given to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and Oral Roberts University. He has also acquired Christian artifacts (medieval manuscripts, Hebrew scrolls and Codex Climaci Rescriptus: a rare sixth century Bible written partly in Palestinian Aramaic) for the National Bible Museum. In August 2011, Green announced that he is donating a 170-acre ranch in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., to Saddleback Church. A preacher's son from a poor background, Green started Greco Products in 1970 with $600, which he spun into his first Hobby Lobby arts and crafts stores in Oklahoma City in 1972. The family-friendly chain now has 490 locations in 40 states. Green strives to grow the company according to biblical principles; stores are closed on Sundays. The company has also delivered 508 million copies of a gospel booklet to children in more than 100 countries.
Fox News:
Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts store chain, cites its commitment to “honoring the Lord” on its website and closes its 500-plus nationwide locations on Sundays, as does Chick-fil-A.
“We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured,” its website reads. “He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future.”
While there have been many lawsuits challenging the US government's mandate, Hobby Lobby appears to be the first Evangelical-led business to file.
There are now 27 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare"). These HHS challenges were not affected by the Supreme Court's June 28th ruling on the constitutionality of the "individual mandate."

"These abortion causing drugs go against our faith and our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful and have supported our family and thousands of employees and their families," said Green, whose company is being represented by the Becket Fund, a religious freedom law group.

"The nationwide litigation against this HHS mandate is a fight for religious freedom for all Americans," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund, during the teleconference. "Today, [Hobby Lobby and its owners] are asking the federal court to protect their right to run their business as they always have in harmony with their Christian faith."

Bryan Fischer On Libya Attacks: Hang Every Member Of The Mob From Nearest Bridge

Via Right Wing Watch:
On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer declared that the attack on the US Consulate in Libya in which the US Ambassador and three staff were killed was nothing short of "an act of war," proclaiming that President Obama's declaration that justice will be done means nothing "until every member of the mob that killed these Americans in cold blood is hung from the nearest bridge by the neck until dead."
Sure, Brian. That'll help.


'Symphony of Science' Takes On Climate Change

A musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it. Featuring Bill Nye, David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov. "Our Biggest Challenge" is the 16th episode of the Symphony of Science series by melodysheep.

NC Values Coalition Mailer: 'On Aug. 1st I Ate At Chick-Fil-A. On Nov. 6th I Will Vote'

Tami Fitzgerald's anti-LGBT organization, NC Values Coalition, has a new get-out-the-vote campaign.

The slogan of the campaign is "Pledge to Vote: From the Pews to the Polls." It appears that Fitzgerald & co. want to capitalize on the overwhelming support for a certain anti-gay chicken sandwich establishment.

Here's the email that was sent to NCVC's mailing list:

Fitzgerald also released a statement after it was announced that the Democratic platform would support gay marriage:
“This is historic. Marriage has been the union between one man and one woman since before North Carolina became a state and before America became a country. Marriage is a union defined by God – not national political parties. The fact that the national Democrat Party believes it can re-define marriage in a party platform is contrary to our founding principles. It is radical and extreme, and I believe the American people will not stand for it. They will not embrace leaders who embrace homosexual marriage.”
The latest NC Values Coalition email follows closely on the heels of Fitzgerald's bizarre assertion that Equality NC's most recent campaign video depicting an anti-LGBT gun owner repeatedly shooting a pro-equality yard sign was "a thinly-veiled threat against supporters of traditional marriage and can have no other purpose than to incite hatred."


Creation Museum Scientists Challenge Bill Nye To Evolution Debate

The scientists from The Creation Museum have challenged Bill Nye to a debate. If there's a god, I pray that he makes this happen. On live prime time television.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that Bill Nye angered quite a few Creationists with a video he made for Big Think, in which he stated that Creationism is indoctrination and inappropriate for children.

Faster than you could say "Adam's rib," the folks at Answers In Genesis (the creationist ministry behind the Creation Museum and the forthcoming Ark Encounter) responded with a facepalm-inducing rebuttal of Nye's comments.

Bill Nye then responded to Answers in Genesis with the following comments:
"When I see reasoning like this, I often feel that we educators have failed to convey a fundamental idea in evolution. We humans, who design and build things, or who plant crops according to a calendar, think in what would be top-down style or method of design. Evolution works the other way; it's bottom-up design. The only designs that we observe in nature exist, because they have been successful from generation to generation."

""Creation Science" is not useful, because it can make no successful predictions about nature or the universe. So, it is reasonable to say the expression is an oxymoron, or simply: it's not science. It has no process of observation, hypothesis, experiment, then predicted outcome. A useful theory about time and organisms would make no distinction between "observational" and "historical" science.
In terms of critical thinking, its claims are completely refutable. When creationists assert that the Earth is 6,000 years old. That claim can be evaluated and shown to be untrue or simply wrong. If creationists claim that ancient dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time, that can be shown to be false. Judge John E. Jones in Dover, Pennsylvania used the expression "breathtaking inanity" to describe creationists' arguments, i.e. claims so silly that they took his breath away."

"My concern again is that we cannot afford to raise a substantial fraction of the next generation of students, who do not have the skills to think scientifically. We are at a crossroads in the history of the U.S. Without scientifically literate kids, we will fall behind other countries as inventors and innovators. We will lose our edge."

Ken Ham of AiG seems a bit pessimistic on whether Nye will accept the debate challenge:
Well, we’ve already seen a lot of web chatter by secularists saying that they don’t debate creationists. They claim creation has nothing to do with science and that Christians like Dr. Purdom (with aPhD in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State) can’t be real scientists if they are creationists.

They argue that there is no debate because evolution is fact. In other words, these secularists use every excuse they can put forward because ultimately, they do not want to debate creationists. They don’t want the public watching such a debate. They realize that when the public hears the creationist information that has been censored from them and learn how they’ve been brainwashed, they will definitely question evolution.

...The secular media by and large support Bill Nye’s false statements about evolution and science, the mainstream media would not want the general public to hear anything else. It’s almost always this way. Most in the secular media aren’t out to report news—most of them have a very liberal anti-God agenda. But we are used to that.

Bill, please accept the challenge. We will get the popcorn ready.

Holi: Festival of Colors

2012's Holi has come and gone (the Hindu festival takes place each spring), but I recently stumbled across this breathtaking video from the folks at The Good Line. It's a wonderful bit of filmmaking.

The filming took place in Spanish Fork, Utah.


Holi. Festival of Colors. 2012 from Good Line on Vimeo.


Carl Sagan's 'Pale Blue Dot' - Animated

This is a wonderful animated adaptation of Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot. Sagan's book was inspired by a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from a record distance of 3.7 billion miles from Earth.

The animation was created by Adam Winnik for his graduation thesis project at Sheridan College.



Pat Robertson's Advice To Man With Marital Woes: Become A Muslim And Beat Her

How do the producers of the 700 Club continue to allow Pat Robertson to give advice?

“Well you could become a Muslim and beat her," said Robertson. "I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.”


SBM Worldwide: You Too Can Prevent Homosexuality

SBM Founder, Stephen Bennett
Via SBM Worldwide:
Stephen Bennett, 49 years old, struggled with same-sex attraction (SSA) throughout his teenage and young adult years, living an openly-gay lifestyle for more than 11 years until he was 28 years old. In 1990, Stephen, happy with his homosexual lifestyle and in a committed "gay" relationship for several years, was lovingly and biblically engaged about his lifestyle and evangelized with the gospel of Jesus Christ by a Christian friend. Two years later, much to the shock of everyone who knew him — especially his family and friends — Stephen was born again and completely surrendered his life to the Lord. It was at this time that Stephen made the decision to walk away from his homosexual lifestyle, never to return. His journey of "coming out" of homosexuality then began — dealing with many painful, emotional issues he had buried — including being molested at the age of 11. Stephen would never be the same again. 
Stephen left his male partner and began his new walk with Christ in January of 1992. He began dating Irene in October of that year, then the two were married the following year, in June of 1993. Today, more than 20 years later, Stephen no longer struggles whatsoever with homosexuality. He shares his story of freedom and complete change at churches, conferences, events, and in the media worldwide. His encouraging message is that individuals who desire change can know that change is completely possible.
SBM Worldwide describes its organization as "an evangelistic, educational, exhortational, and encouraging Christian ministry dedicated to ministering to homosexual-identifying men and women who are seeking change. SBM Worldwide provides biblical, practical, and prayerful support and resources for men and women who are looking to overcome their unwanted same-sex attractions and identity."

Bennett and his wife Irene appeared on the CTN program "Homekeepers" to talk about Bennett's 'transformation.' Host Arthelene Rippy used the opportunity to plug the NARTH-endorsed Parents' Guide To Preventing Homosexuality.



Richard Dawkins Speaks to CNN About Scientific Literacy, Morality & Creationism

CNN has a nice in-depth video interview with writer/biologist Richard Dawkins. It's definitely worth your time if you care about scientific literacy.

A few highlights:

On whether or not evolution should be taught to young children:
You can't even begin to understand biology, you can't understand life, unless you understand what it's all there for, how it arose - and that means evolution. So I would teach evolution very early in childhood. I don't think it's all that difficult to do. It's a very simple idea. One could do it with the aid of computer games and things like that.

I think it needs serious attention, that children should be taught where they come from, what life is all about, how it started, why it's there, why there's such diversity of it, why it looks designed. These are all things that can easily be explained to a pretty young child. I'd start at the age of about 7 or 8.

There’s only one game in town as far as serious science is concerned. It’s not that there are two different theories. No serious scientist doubts that we are cousins of gorillas, we are cousins of monkeys, we are cousins of snails, we are cousins of earthworms. We have shared ancestors with all animals and all plants. There is no serious scientist who doubts that evolution is a fact.

On the source of morality:
We have very big and complicated brains, and all sorts of things come from those brains, which are loosely and indirectly associated with our biological past. And morality is among them, together with things like philosophy and music and mathematics. Morality, I think, does have roots in our evolutionary past. There are good reasons, Darwinian reasons, why we are good to, altruistic towards, cooperative with, moral in our behavior toward our fellow species members, and indeed toward other species as well, perhaps.

There are evolutionary roots to morality, but they’ve been refined and perfected through thousands of years of human culture. I certainly do not think that we ought to get our morals from religion because if we do that, then we either get them through Scripture – people who think you should get your morals from the Old Testament haven’t read the Old Testament – so we shouldn’t get our morals from there.

Nor should we get our morals from a kind of fear that if we don’t please God he’ll punish us, or a kind of desire to apple polish (to suck up to) a God. There are much more noble reasons for being moral than constantly looking over your shoulder to see whether God approves of what you do.

Where do we get our morals from? We get our morals from a very complicated process of discussion, of law-making, writing, moral philosophy, it’s a complicated cultural process which changes – not just over the centuries, but over the decades. Our moral attitudes today in 2012 are very different form what they would have been 50 or 100 years ago. And even more different from what they would have been 300 years ago or 500 years ago. We don’t believe in slavery now. We treat women as equal to men. All sorts of things have changed in our moral attitudes.


Oh, for Xenu's Sake: Scientologists 'Helping' Vietnam's Agent Orange Victims By Providing 'Hubbard Method' 'Detoxification'

Via Washington Post:
Vietnamese with ailments linked to Agent Orange are undergoing a “detoxification” treatment involving saunas and vitamins that was developed by the Church of Scientology and which has been criticized as pseudoscientific.

Scientologists use the “Hubbard Method” to try to cure drug addiction and alcoholism. The church set up a center in New York after the 9/11 attacks offering a similar service for first responders who may have been exposed to toxins.

A group of 24 people arrived for treatment at a military hospital in Hanoi for a month, free of charge, Dau Xuan Tuong, deputy administrator at the Vietnam Association of Agent Orange Victims, said Thursday. He said 22 people underwent the treatment in 2011 in northern Thai Binh province.

“Their health has improved after the treatment, and some saw their chronic illnesses disappear,” he said. “We need to do more scientific research to determine its impact.”
Ya think, Doc? You do realize that science and Scientology don't really have anything to do with each other, right?

And who's funding this garbage?
U.S. Embassy spokesman Christopher Hodges said Washington was not funding the program and said “we are not aware of any safe, effective detoxification treatment for people with dioxin in body tissues.”

It wasn’t known what other medical care the participants were receiving. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard opposed psychiatry and the use of drugs for mental illness and addictions, but church members accept conventional medical treatment for physical conditions.

Actor Tom Cruise co-founded the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, where participants were each given vitamins and nutritional counseling and participated in daily exercise and sauna sessions. He defended it at the time as helping the workers recover.

Critics, many of them scientists, have said there is no evidence the “Hubbard Method” does any good.

It was unclear if the Vietnamese government was aware of those concerns before agreeing to try the project.
Full story here.


Pat Robertson: Democrats Are The 'Party Of Gays, Godlessness And Whatever Else'

It's gotten to the point that it would be newsworthy if Pat Robertson didn't say something completely insane in his broadcast. He's a broken record of bigotry, senility, and illogic.

That being said, Robertson is downright outraged that the Democratic platform openly embraces marriage equality and the right to abortion.

Robertson, speaking on The 700 Club:
Back in the 1850s or 60s there was a charge that one party was the party of rum, Romanism and rebellion. I don’t know what you label the Democrats now but it’s the party of gays, godlessness and whatever else. I mean, same-sex marriage is in the platform, they want to go along with that as a right, I’m just astounded.

They can’t defend it and you ask yourself, you’re going to go before the American people and that’s going to be the face they’re going to present to America. You have insulted the Catholic Church with your rules, you have insulted right-to-work states, you have insulted certain union groups with your stand on the pipeline and now you’re going after God, it makes no sense but that’s what they want to do.


Chuck Norris' Anti-Obama Video Warns of '1,000 Years of Darkness'

Via Christian Post:

American actor Chuck Norris has made an anti-Obama video with wife, Gena Norris. The couple recently released the YouTube video that invokes God and Ronald Reagan, and encourages Evangelical voters to use their power to oust President Barack Obama from his position as Commander-in-Chief in the upcoming November election. Norris begins the video by saying that "our great country and freedom are under attack," and that the U.S. may be "lost forever" if changes are not made.

"We can no longer sit quietly or stand on the sidelines and watch our country go the way of socialism, or something much worse," Norris warns.

 Norris then encourages Evangelical voters to head to the polls to have their voices heard. According to the video, 30 million Evangelicals failed to vote in the 2008 presidential election.

Gena Norris implies that this religious absence at the polls led to Obama's victory four years ago. 


'Incredibly Ironic': Equality NC Responds To NC Values Coalition's Cries Of Victimization

This weekend, the anti-LGBT organization known as the NC Values Coalition sent a strange email alerting their donors to Equality NC's latest campaign video.

NCVC's email claims that NC Equality's video, "Payback Challenge," which features footage of an Amendment One supporter shooting holes in an anti-Amendment One yard sign, was a "thinly-veiled threat against supporters of traditional marriage and can have no other purpose than to incite hatred." (See the full email here.)

The email was clearly a classic example out of the Religious Right playbook: the victimizer playing the victim.

I reached out to NC Equality's Stuart Campbell to get his take on the claims.

"We find it incredibly ironic that the NC Values Coalition would condemn Equality NC for recounting the shooting of one of our supporter's signs when they were deafeningly silent during the Amendment One campaign with their condemnation when the actual shooting occurred," stated Campbell.

"This latest attack comes from the same organization that partnered with the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and various SPLC-identified hate groups to support writing discrimination into our state's constitution--an organization that would now, speaking out of the other side of their mouth, attempt to deflect its own hate-filled agenda by calling us "out of line."

Their twisting of the truth demonstrates that the NC Values Coalition will stoop to any level to promote their own agenda of discrimination and division, and that it has never been more important to unite our supporters in our fight for equality."

To learn more about Equality NC and to help them in their fight for equality, visit their website here.


The Bizarro World Of The NC Values Coalition

The NC Values Coalition sent out a fundraising email yesterday that is jaw-droppingly insane.

Let me walk you through it. Here goes:
This week we are reminded that our fight for traditional marriage did not end on May 8th.

EqualityNC has released a very disturbing video targeting our own Tami Fitzgerald and pro-marriage legislators under their "Payback Challenge" campaign. [emphasis theirs]
Let's stop for a second before we get to the crazy part.

Just so we're all clear, Equality NC's "Payback Challenge" is, in their own words, a fundraising drive "dedicated to making strategic investments in key legislative and state races in North Carolina’s primary and general elections." Disturbing stuff, right?

The "Payback Challenge" video's goal is pretty simple. First, it is intended to remind LGBT North Carolinians and equality-supporting allies that Amendment One was very much "personal," and very much "payback," despite the insistence from Tami Fitzgerald and Vote For Marriage NC that it wasn't.  Secondly, the video is to urge LGBT North Carolinians and pro-equality allies to donate to Equality NC who are working to help elect pro-equality candidates in the 2012 election. Horrible, right?

Here's the video, before we move on with NCVC's facepalm-inducing logic.

Pretty effective, right? Sometimes, organizations like the NCVC do all the work for you. All you need is to hold a mirror up to them, and you have yourself all the ammunition you need (no pun intended, seriously).

Okay, back to the hilarious NCVC email:
The video - which can be found here - overlays gunshots and video of a man shooting at an anti-amendment sign with video of NC Values Coalition Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald praising the passage of the marriage amendment on election night.

The video is a thinly-veiled threat against supporters of traditional marriage and can have no other purpose than to incite hatred. [emphasis theirs]

Their purpose is clear and it is distasteful in light of the shooting incident that occurred just a few weeks ago when a volunteer at a Washington DC homosexual rights group walked into the lobby of the Family Research Council and started shooting. This video is innapropriate, and EqualityNC has crossed the line. [emphasis, again, theirs]

We do not expect EqualityNC to agree with us. But we do expect them to communicate responsibly and civilly. We condemn this video and hope that Americans from all walks of life will join us.

Friends, we at the NC Values Coalition will consistently and constantly defend traditional marriage. In spite of their threats.

Please stand with us against their attacks and join us in condemning this disturbing video.

Jessica Wood
Communications Director, NC Values Coalition
Wait, what?


(Also, "In spite of their threats" is not a sentence, but let's not quibble over grammar.)

Also, these are very likely the same folks who thought it was silly and overreaching that people got upset when Sarah Palin released a map with crosshairs targeting legislators who voted for Obama's health care bill.

But I digress.

So, back to the email. "Equality NC's purpose is quite clear"? Um, you mean, that they're showing people how hateful and violent your fellow anti-LGBT, "pro-marriage" supporters were in the weeks leading up to the Amendment One vote?

And while nobody on the pro-equality side is condoning the lone act of violence against hate group The Family Research Council, there is nothing -- nothing -- in the video that even remotely suggests that compassionate pro-equality North Carolinians go out, purchase an arsenal, and shoot anti-gay activists and hate group members.

This is what you do, people, when you have nothing but your own religious bigotry. You make stuff up. You project your own hatred, and the hatred of those who share your beliefs, onto your opponents -- opponents who want nothing more than to allow all of their fellow North Carolinians to be treated equally and to not be discriminated against because of their natural traits.


Study: Supernatural Reasoning Increases With Age

Via Futurity:
As we age, we often rely more—not less—on supernatural explanations for major life events, such as death and illness, research shows. 
“As children assimilate cultural concepts into their intuitive belief systems—from God to atoms to evolution—they engage in coexistence thinking,” says Cristine Legare, assistant professor of psychology the University of Texas at Austin and the study’s lead author. “When they merge supernatural and scientific explanations, they integrate them in a variety of predictable and universal ways.” 
Legare says the findings, published in the journal Child Development, contradict the common assumption that supernatural beliefs dissipate with age and knowledge. 
“The findings show supernatural explanations for topics of core concern to humans are pervasive across cultures,” Legare notes. “If anything, in both industrialized and developing countries, supernatural explanations are frequently endorsed more often among adults than younger children.” 
The results provide evidence that reasoning about supernatural phenomena is a fundamental and enduring aspect of human thinking, Legare says. 
“The standard assumption that scientific and religious explanations compete should be re-evaluated in light of substantial psychological evidence,” Legare suggests. “The data, which spans diverse cultural contexts across the lifespan, shows supernatural reasoning is not necessarily replaced with scientific explanations following gains in knowledge, education, or technology.”
Full story here.

'The Fighter' Boxer Pulls Support From Scott Brown, Fights For Marriage Equality

Micky Ward, the Massachusetts boxer who inspired Oscar-nominated film The Fighter, has delivered a blow to Scott Brown.

“I can’t support Scott Brown. I just can’t do it,” Ward told The Sun of Lowell after agreeing to back Brown, who is up against progressive Democrat Elizabeth Warren. “I found out Scott is anti-union and I’m a Teamster guy. I found out he’s also against gay marriage, and I say, if you love someone, you should have the same rights no matter who you are.”

(h/t Queerty)


Would A Chronological New Testament Help Address The Problem of 'Biblical Inerrancy'?

Over at Huffington Post, Marcus Borg writes that we could all benefit from reading a chronological New Testament. He states, "This matters not just for historical reasons but also for Christian reasons."

"About half of American Protestants belong to churches that teach that the Bible is the inerrant "Word of God" and "inspired by God.""

I have written in these pages of the problems with biblical literalism and the belief in biblical inerrancy, and I feel strongly that many of the most divisive social and political issues would not be issues if we as a society could accept that Biblical inerrancy is a relatively recent development.

Borg writes:
The key word is "inerrant." Christians from antiquity onward have affirmed that the Bible is "the Word of God" and "inspired" without thinking of it is inerrant. Biblical inerrancy is an innovation of the last few centuries, becoming widespread in American Protestantism beginning only a hundred years ago. It is affirmed mostly in "independent" Protestant churches, those not part of "mainline" Protestant denominations. Catholics have never proclaimed the inerrancy or infallibility of the Bible, even as many have not been taught much about the Bible.

Biblical inerrancy is almost always combined with the literal and absolute interpretation of the Bible. If it says something happened, it happened. If the Bible says something is wrong, it is wrong.

For Christians who see the Bible this way, whatever Paul wrote to his communities in the first century is absolutely true for all time. For them, whatever the Gospels report that Jesus said and did really was said and done by him. So also the stories of the beginning and end of his life are literally and factually true: he was conceived in a virgin without a human father, his tomb really was empty even though it was guarded by Roman soldiers, and his followers saw him raised in physical bodily form.

These Christians are unlikely to embrace a chronological New Testament. It would not only change the way the see the Bible and the New Testament, but also make them suspect and probably unwelcome in the Christian communities to which they belong.
Read the full post here.


If The Astronauts Had Been Marooned: The Undelivered Speech

Neil Armstrong's death last week reminded me of a document that I stumbled upon several years ago.

Like obituaries that are written by journalists in anticipation of a prominent public figures' death, it is not terribly uncommon for presidential speechwriters to write two versions of speeches so that the President is prepared for various outcomes to events of national importance.

The following is a short speech written by William Safire, who was Richard Nixon's speechwriter at the time, to be given in 1969 if the astronauts had been stranded on the moon.
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. 
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. 
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. 
They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown. 
In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. 
In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. 
Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. 
For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Stephen Colbert On How The Gays Created Hurricane Isaac To Disrupt the RNC

Stephen Colbert explains how the gays created Hurricane Isaac to disrupt the Republican National convention.

"Hurricanes form from rising moisture created by hot steamy man action aboard a gay Caribbean cruise. When that sin gets high enough it makes the angels cry and those tears fall to earth in the form of massive precipitation because homosexuals are a vital part of the water cycle. That's why the gay symbol is a rainbow!"


Answers In Genesis Responds To Bill Nye's Anti-Creationism Rant


Of course, comments are disabled on YouTube.

Bill Nye's original post here.


Bryan Fischer: Gays Have 'No Business' Being Republican

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bryan Fishcer of the American Family Association said that gays have "no business" in the Republican Party.
"They have no business being there. Our message is to them is that your home is in the Democratic Party," said Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, a conservative radio host and a leading anti-gay figure in the GOP.

"These groups are actively working to undermine and subvert the Republican party platform and the principles of the Republican Party," Mr. Fischer said in a telephone interview. "They are undermining the moral foundations of the Republican Party."

It's no matter to him that Log Cabin Republicans support nearly every other party platform from tax policy to gun rights.

"There is no place for the homosexual agenda," he said. "The Republican platform is very clean on the issues of marriage and family and parenting, and these are people that are actively working against the principles of the party."

"The reason they are for gay marriage is that it is an issue of liberty for people to have the freedom to do what they want ... but we oppose gay marriage because it threatens liberty," he said.

He offered two examples of businesses whose freedoms were trumped by what he calls the gay agenda. First, he said several mayors are trying to keep Chick-fil-A restaurants out of their cities because the company's devout Christian owners oppose gay marriage. In another example, he said, the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission fined Christian photographer Elaine Huguenin for refusing to photograph a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony.

"The gay agenda is a threat to religious liberty. It is a danger to the liberty that the party stands for ... and it's tyranny that's being launched against businesses," Mr. Fischer said.

He said younger members of his party don't see that "because they are young and they are immature and they are unaware of the severe dangers to liberty that is posed by the homosexual agenda."
There you have it, my LGBT friends. The Republican Party does not want you. The Democrats, on the other hand, could sure use your help voting bigots out of office.


Bill Nye: Don't Indoctrinate Your Children With Creationism -- The Future Needs Them

So many times, when discussing evolution, creationists will say, "Why do you care what I believe?"

Bill Nye answers the question.

"When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in [Evolution] it holds everybody back," Nye says. "Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates."

"[I]f you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them," Nye says. "We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people...engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."

"In another couple of centuries that world view [Creationism]...just won't exist. There's no evidence for it."



"It Really All Stands To Reason" That Few Women Get Pregnant From Rape

If Todd Akin's comments on "legitimate rape" and pregnancy have had you pounding your head against the desk, you might want to avoid the following clip of the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer and Brad Mattes of Life Issues Institute discussing the strong reactions to Akin's asinine remarks.

According to these two, it's rare for women to get pregnant from rape because "it really all stands to reason."



Creationist Ken Ham: 'Bathtub Arks Are Dangerous'

According to Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham, parents should avoid the baby-friendly depictions of Noah's Ark -- or as he calls them, 'bathtub arks.'

Ham is worried that these cutesy depictions of Noah's Ark might lead children to believe that the Genesis narrative is a myth.

He writes:
Many times over the years, I have warned parents about using pictures of what we call “bathtub arks” with their children. Such pictures, usually with giraffes sticking out the top in a small unrealistic boat overloaded with animals, are sadly the norm in many Christian children’s books that deal with the topic of Noah and the Ark.

I have warned parents that such pictures are “cute but dangerous.” Why?

The secularists do all they can to mock God’s Word and in an effort to capture the hearts and minds of children so they will not believe the Bible and its saving message of the gospel. The secularists accuse Christians of believing fairy tales if they accept the Genesis account of Creation, Fall, and Flood as written—as true historical records. And really, when we allow children to think Noah’s Ark looked like one of these “bathtub Arks,” we are reinforcing the false idea that the account of the Ark was just a fairy tale.

Over the years, I’ve found many churches have “bathtub arks” depicted on the walls of their kindergarten area, in their children’s Sunday school classrooms, etc. In my writings, I plead with leaders in the church to remove these—what I consider to be dangerous to the spiritual well-being of children.
I have news for Mr. Ham. It isn't cartoonish depictions of dingy-sized arks that lead children to believe that Noah's Ark is a myth. It's the fact that the Noah's Ark narrative has no basis in reality. The Noah's Ark story has collapsed under scientific scrutiny over the past 250 years such that by the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1875), there was no effort made whatsoever to reconcile the Noah's Ark story with scientific fact.

Ham continues:
We need instead to show children that Noah’s Ark was a real ship—a great ship—with plenty of room to fit the land animal kinds, and seaworthy to survive a global Flood. That’s why at Answers in Genesis and in our materials, we show Noah’s Ark according to the dimensions in the Bible and as a real seaworthy ship.

Let’s make an effort to “sink” the “bathtub arks” and make sure we use it as an illustration of a real ship of biblical dimensions.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying, including for our Ark Encounter project.
Remember folks, we need to ensure that at least some of the kids in future generations can be indoctrinated to believe that the Noah's Ark story is true. Ken Ham has a lot of money riding on it -- $172 million, to be precise.

It's not the goofy depictions of the Ark, Ken. It's the goofiness of the story in light of our modern scientific understanding of the world.


Catholic Deacon Keith Fournier: Chick-Fil-A Boycott Is 'Viewpoint Discrimination'

The Editor in Chief at Catholic Online, Deacon Keith Fournier wrote a piece praising the hordes of 'pro-family,' 'pro-marriage' supporters who showed up to buy sandwiches and waffle fries on Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day.

The Deacon, like millions of Americans who lined up last week, doesn't seem to get it.

He writes:
The massive crowd reflected a cross section of America. They were young, old, middle aged and senior. They were thin, overweight, short, tall, well groomed, sloppy, well dressed, tattooed and of every race and color. There were young Moms with their children in tow, blue collar workers, students and business men and women. Amazingly, everyone was kind, courteous and willing to wait in line. No-one complained and most were smiling.

In fact, you sensed you were participating in something historic by simply purchasing a chicken sandwich. I do not doubt everyone wanted their chicken sandwich, especially after such a long wait. However, they were there, like me, for a reason much more important. They were making a collective statement of support for the Restaurants' willingness to stand up for marriage and family in the face of open hostility, ridicule and threats.

They were standing up for free speech and against political correctness. They were applauding with their purchase the courage shown by the owners of this restaurant. They did not back down in the face of forceful, even hateful, opposition from those who, while claiming to be tolerant have become so intolerant of those who do not agree with them.
Last week I wrote about how this flap is not about free speech, and I still stand by that assertion. (It was pointed out to me by several readers that the threats by elected officials to ban Chick-fil-A from their cities was very much about free speech, and I would agree -- if any of these threats were actually implemented. The comment of Rahm, Menino, et al. amounted to grandstanding and the type of knee-jerk reactions we expect from elected officials.) But the consumer boycott itself, and the outcry against Chick-fil-A has absolutely nothing to do with stifling free speech and everything to do with consumers refusing to indirectly fund hate and intolerance.

While Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy's remarks certainly were inflammatory to those who are in same-sex relationships and those who support equality, his vocal remarks were not the reason for the boycott. Boycotts of Chick-fil-A have been in existence prior to Cathy's comments. Cathy's remarks simply provided a prime opportunity for discussion of Chick-fil-A's substantial annual donations to organizations that perpetually spew hate and widely-dismissed anti-LGBT propaganda.

Fournier continues:
Chick-fil-A has been under assault because their President publicly affirmed their company support for true marriage and the family and society founded upon it. Dan Cathy expressed his deeply held religious convictions to the Baptist Press in an interview and literally - all hell broke loose among some new Cultural Revolutionaries.

Among the most vocal opponents was Carlos Maza of "Equality Matters", a homosexual equivalency activist group. He told the Washington Post that Dan Cathy's position in defense of marriage, along with the contributions made by his family's foundation to pro-life and pro-family groups, "solidifies Chick-fil-A as being closely aligned with some of the most vicious anti-gay voices in the country." That is nonsense. To defend marriage does not equate to being "anti-gay".

The effort unleashed against Chick fil-A was an example of viewpoint discrimination parading as a concern for equality.

Viewpoint discrimination. That's amazing. So, when millions of American citizens became outraged when Michael Richards went on an 'N-word' rant in a comedy club, they were all guilty of "viewpoint discrimination."

When abolitionists focused attention on the inhumane nature of slavery, they were guilty of "viewpoint discrimination."

When Americans decried "miscegenation" laws banning marriage between blacks and whites? Totally "viewpoint discrimination."

Furthermore, when Carlos Maza of Equality Matters stated that the restaurant's policies, donations, and actions "solidifies Chick-fil-A as being closely aligned with some of the most vicious anti-gay voices in the country," he was absolutely correct. If the good Deacon needs any evidence, there's plenty of it on record.