Oh, yeah, this aughtta be interesting:

Anti-gay pastor who prayed for Obama’s death demands silence from women in church

“But when it’s learning time,” Pastor Anderson said, hammering his lecturn, “it’s silence time.”

“So what it’s saying is that they,” the women, “are to learn in silence.” He then quoted 1 Corinthians 14 again, saying that “when the learning is going on, they are not permitted to speak. When the preaching of God’s word is taking place — and first of all, it’s not for a woman to be doing the preaching, and second of all, it’s not for women to be speaking.”

“Even the Bible’s really clear on this,” he said. “Even if they were to have a question, they’re not to ask that question in the church, number one. Number two, even if they want to ask that question to their husband, they should wait until they get home.”

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that nobody really learns in silence, but through active questioning. Sure, you can get “facts” (accurate or otherwise) hammered into you by simply listening, but to really understand, you have to have some sort of back-and-forth. If someone tells you something that you don’t understand – either because the concept escapes you, it’s poorly explained or it conflicts with existing understanding – just letting it skate by is not the path to wisdom.

I’m sure, however, that this pastor will be getting an earful from the ladies.

As might be slightly obvious, I am in favor of scientific literacy and opposed to anti-scientific superstitious nonsense. It is a never-ending issue… nonsense is a remarkably self-restoring force. It gets knocked down here, it rises over there.  Witness astrology.

When you have a population that is scientifically illiterate, they can be easily seduced by the siren call of superstitious stupid. And then you get stuff like this:

Bulawayo man caught using mubobobo during church service

You really need to read the article to get the full flavor of the overwhelming dumbth on display. But in short, a man was severely beaten in Zimbabwe – that bastion of collectivism success stories – because he was using “mubobobo.” What’s “mubobobo,” you ask? It’s magical witchcraft. Specifically, magic that allows a guy to have sex with someone else without their knowledge. In broad daylight. Without touching them. At some considerable distance. Telepathically.

In other words: BS.

It’s also known as “Bluetooth sex,” not because a Bluetooth wireless device is used, but because the magic supposedly allows the user to remotely violate someone. One could argue that “well, it’s Zimbabwe. Shrug.” But the thing is: the whole concept is patently absurd… but people believe it anyway. People sufficiently technologically advanced to know what “Bluetooth” is and to have digital cameras to take photos of the beating, and to post about it on the web and discuss it online. Is it really so unreasonable to consider that this level of Grade-A superstitious moronery might find its way to the US? Considering all the commercials I see on late night TV for psychic chat lines? Considering the rise of “ghost hunter” shows? The success of  homeopathic “medicines?” The relatively recent importation to the west and rise in popularity of eastern magical bullcrap such as  Reiki and feng shui indicates that “alien” absurdity can become accepted by large numbers of people who, by all rights, really should know better. So why not mubobobo?

This acceptance of utter bilge is a societal danger. As someone who generally leans libertarian, with the view that what people do with themselves is their own affair, sometimes what people do needs to be countered. The anti-vaccine movement, for example, based as it often is on the myth that vaccines cause autism, has led to a whole lot fewer kids getting vaccinated. On one hand, the “live and let die horribly” part of me is fine with that: unvaccinated kids are more likely to contract and die from diseases they don’t need to, thus thinning the herd slightly and cleaning a smidgeon of idiocy out of the gene pool. On the other hand, it’s not the kids fault that the parents are superstitious idiots. And on the gripping hand, large numbers of the unvaccinated messes with herd immunity, and can risk large numbers of other people.

Further, acceptance of anti-science, and the incorporation of it into public policy, may wind up bringing down civilization. The political Left is forever screeching about climate change and how carbon dioxide is going to kill us all. The political Right is forever screeching about how it’s a hoax. Well… the facts back up the Left more than the Right here, even when you try to eliminate the hyperbole and dubious and sometimes outright fraudulent data collection.  The world *is* getting warmer, CO2 levels *are* rising, the climate *is* changing. How much, how fast and how bad are all valid arguments. But the political Lefts anti-science comes into full force on the climate change issue. If this is a problem, fine… suggest a solution. And the only suggestions they seem to support are increasing misery in the west via economic contraction… and putting energy production into the hands of the weather via solar and wind. what they *should* be doing, instead, is supporting wholeheartedly the development of many new nuclear powerplants, including thorium reactors. But on the whole they don’t. They display virtually the same exact superstitious fear of nuclear power as many Zimbabweans seem to have for witchcraft.

I suspect a primary reason why the political Right in the US is unconcerned with global warming is because so many of those who are loudest about the issue only offer solutions that result in economic backsliding, reduced standards of living and shrunken horizons. In one of the great modern political ironies, the “Progressives” are largely opposed to actual progress, while the “Conservatives” want society to become richer and more advanced. The solution to the global warming issue is thus straightforward: propose solutions that not only fix the environment, but increase wealth and the standard of living. But the superstitious dread of nuclear reactions causes far to many people to reject that outright. And thus we enter a cultural death spiral of idiocy.

Islamic law is adopted by British legal chiefs

New rules that allow for discrimination against women, non-believers and illegitimate children. Exciting times!

As a followup to THIS POST which discusses the idea some hold that the universe having a definite beginning is proof positive of the existence of God, I suggest a new discussion topic: how to prove Gods existence.

For simplicity, “God” in this discussion can be reduced to something like “an intelligent, thinking entity that created, intentionally, the Universe.” Probably add in “omniscient and omnipotent,” though that’s probably not necessary. Never mind whether that’s Jehovah or Zeus or Shiva or Feklar or Odin. Just “Prime Mover Guy.”

 

First off, any potential Proof Of God would have to be able to get past the concept of Really Powerful Aliens. Something like turning the moon blood red would have impressed folks a few millenia ago (or even just a few centuries ago), but today it could be explained via any of a number of physical phenomena that Really Power Aliens could employ. Or something like The Rapture: hundreds of millions of people get bodily borne up into Heaven… by, say, Really Powerful Aliens with tractor beams or transporters or phasers set to *disintegrate.* Or something like the dead returning… thanks to Really Powerful Aliens who have been watching us for a while, recording our minds, and then uploading those recordings into cloned bodies. Stuff like that doesn’t work as Proof Of God, since it could easily be explained by forces far lesser than Omniscient and Omnipotent.

OK. So, if God wanted to prove his/her/its existence, how might God go about doing it? Science Fiction brought us two possibilities that I think would be pretty damned convincing, if they came to be:

1) Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” included the notion of a message embedded within pi. Pi is an infinitely long string of seemingly random numbers. Within any infinite string of random numbers, statistically speaking you will find sections that look like messages, but are just happenstance. But if the “message” is sufficiently complex and ordered so as to be beyond statistical probability, that would argue that the message was intelligently created. And a message embedded within pi, or the natural log of 2, or the square root of 2… this would argue strongly in favor of an intelligent creator of the universe. The hypothetical message may only start ten trillion digits into pi, and, worse, pi in base 42… but still, the message would be there and it would be accessible to anyone. Across all time and space, the message would be discoverable by anyone with sufficient math skills and number-crunching capability. Really Powerful Aliens would seem incapable of actually tinkering with the constants of the universe.

2) Stargate: Universe featured a starship billions of lightyears away, built by a long-dead species of vastly intelligent and powerful aliens who were on a mission. That mission was, as memory serves, to cross the universe in order to get observations as widely spaced as possible of the cosmic background radiation. Because they had detected a message within the CBR. Here again, Really Powerful Aliens would seem insufficient to explain a message embedded within the Big Bang.

Either of these, if confirmed and *rigorously* re-re-re-confirmed, would be strong arguments for the existence of some “god” or other. It would not necessarily follow, of course, that a message embedded within pi would imply one *particular* God. But then… it *could.* If the message in pi started off as a geometric thesis, in order to grab the mathematicians attention, and then turned into the Old Testament in binary code, ending with “To be continued in the square root of 2,” and then the New Testament is found in the square root of two… that’d be a pretty fair argument in favor not just of a generic creator-god, but the Christian God. Of course, the New Testament in root-2 might end with “To be continued in the square root of pi.”

So: what physical/scientific/mathematical discovery could, if it was made, serve as a really good Proof Of God? Discuss.

It’s a blog. But it’s a CNN blog, so…

Does the Big Bang breakthrough offer proof of God?

Oy.

If the universe did indeed have a beginning, by the simple logic of cause and effect, there had to be an agent – separate and apart from the effect – that caused it.

Ah… no.

As we observe the complexity of the cosmos, from subatomic particles to dark matter and dark energy, we quickly conclude that there must be a more satisfying explanation than random chance.

Ah… no.

I get a pain *right* *here* when people use bad, bad “logic” to support their positions. And people misapplying the findings of science to support their religious beliefs has long been a particularly effective abuser.

 

If you’ve never heard of a “Chick Tract,” how to explain them? Well, they are comic strip-like illustrated screeds that give Biblical lessons via modern characters. But they are more than that. They are a view into straight-up crazy… everything is  a conspiracy, the Catholic Church is Satanic, evolution is a lie, that sort of thing. All the nuttiest chain-emails you ever got, doped up on meth and Jesusjuice and with a couple thousand volts running through them. What really astonishing is that the guy behind them, Jack Chick, really believes it all.

One of the most popular of the Chick Tracts is “Dark Dungeons.” Dating from way back in 1984, when a lot of people were freaking out over Dungeons and Dragons, this one tells the tale of lives ruined and souls lost to D&D, which turns out to be an actual pathway to Satan. Don’t take me word for it, GO HERE and read it.

Someone is finally getting around to making a full movie of “Dark Dungeons.” And they are doing so with Chicks permission, and apparently the script is sticking directly to the original Tract. One might think that the only way this could happen is if the movie makers are themselves Believers. But all evidence, including the FAQ, seem to point to the direct opposite. It appears that what’s going on is that they are going to allow the over-the-top nature of the source material serve as self-parody. Kinda like “Noah,” but on a lower budget. A *much* lower budget.

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Founder of Westboro Baptist Church, Rev. Fred Phelps Sr. dies

Will there be protests at his funeral? The mind boggles.

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twain

Chancel repair liability: The ancient law that could hit house prices

In short, a law can hold private home owners responsible for paying the bills for repairing churches built before 1536. This seems to mean that individual homeowners can be on the hook for up to £250,000 to fund the repair of a church, simply because they happen to be nearby.

Of course, there is similar insanity in the US. If an endangered species is found on your property, your right to modify your property as you see fit can be wiped out. The differences are important; not least being that if *you* find the endangered species first, you can whack it upside the head and bury it. If a British homeowner decides that the best approach to a massive repair bill for something he doesn’t own is to burn that something to the ground, someone will probably notice.

How many times have we seen some religious – or at least self-righteous – figure massively screw up and wish that some divine retribution would lay a smackdown on ‘em? And how often are we disappointed? Sometimes, though, Odin comes through…

Pastor dies during “confession”

In short: Bishop Bobby Davis keeled over while being yelled at by his congregation for apparent infidelity.

Oops.

 

The premiere episode of the new Cosmos (ultra-brief review: promising… but the music? Meh) had only the briefest mention of evolution in it. But even that was too much for an Oklahoma Fox affiliate who *conveniently* ran a promo for the news right over that one little mention:

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There are many possible responses to that, but the two best come from this brief article about the issue on io9.com:

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And…

gotg

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