Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Off, It's Not a Mosque

There is a debate raging in New York City now and no, it's not over those stinkers from . . . New Jersey. No, this is a debate of both religious ignorance and intolerance. This is a debate that shows how much Americans have deviated from what was once considered a virtue. This is about the "mosque" that is being planned in New York City.

First off, it's not a mosque. It's an Islamic COMMUNITY CENTER. While it is true that the top floors of the Park 51 building (which, by the way, is not actually anywhere near Ground Zero) will house a worship center, there is no "mosque".

The issue here is one of ignorance and freedom. Americans (dare I say, Christian Americans) don't blame Al-Qaeda for the attacks on 9/11, they blame all Muslims. Is this fair? It's like saying all Christians are responsible for Crusades or the Charles Manson killings (he claimed to be Jesus). Muslims, in general, are not this American hating group of people. While there are some who truly do (because we fuck around in their country), this is not indicative of the entire population. Therefore, building a COMMUNITY CENTER cannot possibly pose any threat, and anyone who does feel threatened is purporting a very bad stereotype.

While average citizens are allowed to protest this as much as they want, there is one group that can't: our government. I'm glad the NYC panel cleared the way for the building of this, because in America, everyone has the right to practice their religion ANY WAY THEY WANT! Why don't we tear down the Christian church that happens to sit MUCH CLOSER TO GROUND ZERO! It's that kind of ignorance and religious intolerance that I cannot stand.

Get the hint, the Muslims who want to build that community center have every right. You, however, don't have the right to tell them that they can't. Get over yourselves.

Is a Soda Tax Necessary?

The idea of a soda tax has been gaining some clout in 2010. Proponents of this kind of tax say that they can lower demand for the sugary products with the tax and increase the overall health of the populace. It sure sounds like a good deal, but is it really? Do we need to government to, through a sin tax, guide us towards better eating habits? The correct answer is no, we don't.

Obesity is the result of choices (and to a degree genetics, but we're going to leave that part out for now) that are made by the individuals. If becoming obese is a personal decision, then so is losing that weight. It is not the job, nor the right of the government to influence social behavior through taxes. It should be up to the individual to make the decision not to buy unhealthy foods.

Government is here to protect me, not make me thin and healthy. I can do that on my own.

What about the consequences of this tax? If this tax truly lowers the demand for soda, what's going to happen to the soda industry? What will happen undoubtedly is that they will lose income, be faced with budget shortfall, and try to cut costs. You want to know what the number one method of cutting costs is for most businesses? Cut jobs.

Just because we can't absolutely predict consequences like that doesn't mean they should be ignored. Is the violation of our personal liberty (meaning, the ability to make our own choices and face our own consequences) and the potential job loss worth it? How about we let the market and those who do want to eat healthy make those choices on their own, so that maybe in the future the market will be producing more and more healthy foods. It's already happening now, just look at all of the kinds of "healthy" foods that you can buy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 9

The ninth argument that evolutionists should avoid is that "sedimentary layers show millions of years of geological activity".

The first problem with this is that we have switched topics - from Biology to Geology. Sedimentary layers have very little to do with evolution, at least in this context. But, let's just roll with it for a second.

Something a lot of creationists don't seem to know is that sedimentary layers are NOT how geologists actually date the Earth. What they use is volcanic rock that has worked its way into the layers. This data is confirmed and constantly retested many times all over the world, all of which arriving at the same conclusion: the Earth is really old. But how does AIG see it? Dating rocks is based on assumptions, and that all of the sedimentary layers on Earth were deposited by one flood. Makes sense.

Once again, AIG brings up the age-old "based on assumptions" argument, without actually presenting what those assumptions are. In this situation, all there is to do is say "okay", and continue on. I can point to hundreds of pieces of evidence for the age of the Earth. What do they have, a book?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 8

The eighth argument evolutionists should avoid is that "common design means common ancestry".

This is ridiculous. Common design is not the only evidence for common ancestry, and so trying to refute just this piece doesn't truly yield any results. There is tons of other evidence, apart from homologies, that confirms common ancestry. If we ignore the DNA evidence alone, there are some creatures in different branches of the tree of life that evolved similar features but don't share a recent common ancestor. Oi.

Instead of listing all of the individual pieces of evidence for common ancestry, I'll just link you to this Talk Origins page.

Friday, August 20, 2010

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 7

The seventh argument that evolutionists should avoid: "natural selection is evolution".

No, it's not. Natural Selection is a mechanism by which evolution operates (one of them, anyways), it is not evolution itself. It drives evolution in a non-random direction, giving it some kind of structure. Natural selection does not prove molecules-to-man evolution, it has never intended to. It just demonstrates how certain characteristics can potentially be removed or kept in a population. Of course natural selection doesn't have the power to create anything new, otherwise it would be called natural creation. It selects, not creates. The last part they got right: natural selection only works on characteristics that are already there. How those characteristics get there is an entirely different and interesting process, one that is backed by evidence.

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 6

The sixth argument evolutionists should avoid is "It is here, so it must have evolved."

I can't imagine anyone ACTUALLY using this argument, it doesn't really make sense. Scientists tend to generalize and assume that whatever organism they are studying has evolved, and so go about their research following that assumption. They do this because evolution has already been proven to be factual, and any experimentation that a scientist does with this assumption is tested and still works out to be factual.

Once again, we know evolution occurs, and we have irrefutable evidence of it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 5

The fifth argument that evolutionists should avoid is that "doubting evolution is like believing the Earth is flat".

AIG starts off by claiming that the Bible states that the Earth is round and hanging in space, long before it could have been observed. The quotes they use to defend this are from Job 26:10 and Isaiah 40:22, and they are below (in that order):

"He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, at the boundary of light and darkness."

"It is He who sits above the circle of the Earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a dent to dwell in."

First off, I should point out to these retards that the Earth is a SPHERE, not a circle. A CIRCLE is two-dimensional and FLAT. Secondly, I fail to see any mention of space? Even if you could interpret those passages as mentioning space, why is it that in the first quote the horizon is being drawn on the face of the WATERS, something that is mentioned in Genesis 1 when the world is created. Not space, water!

Next, they say that the appeal to the claim is that it stereotypes Creationists as being stuck in the past (they are), because the common assumption is that people once universally believed the world was flat before science proved otherwise (which they claim to be false).

We have documented historical evidence concerning this matter. When you read that, what do you come up with? The Catholic Church taught as part of its dogma during the middle ages through the scientific revolution that the Earth was flat, and people believed it because they didn't know any better. So, maybe not 100% of the population truly believed it, but what's important is that it was taught as part of the Catholic dogma. Not only did they claim the Earth was flat, they persecuted those that didn't! Just to give an example, look up Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, or Galileo. You can't just go back and claim that people didn't almost universally believe this to cover your ass, because the fact of the matter is that they did.

They then go one to make some bullshit claim that observation shows us the Earth rotates around the sun, and that Evolutionary stories about fossils are not direct observations. If only they knew the real science behind Evolution, and all of the observations we've had to make.

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 4

The fourth argument that "evolutionists" shouldn't use is the argument that "doubting Evolution is like doubting gravity."

This isn't an argument for Evolution, per say, it's merely an analogy. The fundamental forces that govern both Evolution and gravity are theories (because that's what theories are, models of how an observable fact works). Both are supported by a wide-array of evidence, otherwise they would cease to be acceptable theories. So, when we say that doubting Evolution is like doubting gravity, we're saying that both are substantiated by evidence and that it would be silly to ignore some facts and accept others (we actually know more about Evolution than we do gravity).

The example that AIG uses is one out of pure ignorance (and probably should belong on the list of arguments Creationists avoid).

"Take a pencil or pen. Hold it in the air. Then drop it to the floor. That’s gravity. Next, make a single-celled organism—like an amoeba—turn into a goat. Go ahead. We’ll wait. . . . No? As you can see, there’s a fundamental difference between operational science, which can be tested through repeatable experimentation, and historical science, which cannot."

First off, you can't MAKE a single celled organism instantly turn into a complex multi-celled organism (it takes billions of years). You simply don't have the time. Is it possible? Yeah, we have the evidence that shows how single celled organisms could have evolved into multi-celled organisms (it doesn't have to be a goat, of course). Just because you can't watch an amoeba turn into a goat doesn't mean that evolution isn't true, it's just a long process. We can look back in time, essentially, and see that some kind of evolution obviously took place because of the evidence the process left behind, but we can't evolve new species from amoebas. Evolution is operational science, which operates not only in Biology, but in many other scientific disciplines. There's nothing historical about it, more and more discoveries are being made every day: all of them support evolution.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prop 8, an Actual Victory for Gay Rights

Finally, after so much time there is actually a chance for the gay rights movement to succeed. The federal judges overruling of California's Prop 8 represents an actual victory for gay rights: something with tangible benefits. Hopefully other states will follow suit now that the precedent has been set, and maybe soon gays will be granted civil liberties like the rest of us. The next step after that is to get the government out of the marriage business entirely, but that's for another time.

Like I said, this ruling represents and actual victory for the movement. None of that "Oh, Obama said that he would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, therefore I think he is a good president and we have won our rights". Bullshit. This is the only real chance at justice gays have had in a while, and for once it is not included in the speech of a person who is desperately trying to hold on to the gay vote.

This is a step forward, but there is still work that needs to be done. First off, you have to end the gay pride movement. No one cares that you're proud of your gayness - you need to be able to prove them wrong and show that you can be valuable, productive, and caring parents and members of society. You've won one battle, but the war has just begun.

12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 3

This next argument that we "evolutionists" should avoid might just be my favorite yet, because it is by far the most ridiculous. The argument? That "overwhelming evidence in all fields of science supports evolution".

First off, not EVERY field of science supports evolution. Theoretical physics, or meteorology for example, typically do not cross the paths of evolution. So, right off the bat this argument is null and void, but lets assume that they didn't mean ALL fields of science.

The reality of the situation is that evolution is supported by several fields (namely, all of those fields that somehow intertwine with the theory). We have the evidence, what more can we give you? The fact that we have evidence from several fields of science all confirming a theory written down 150 years ago is amazing and is something to be celebrated, not ignored. Geology, Astronomy, and Cosmology all support the idea that the earth is billions of years old, giving evolution the expanse of time it needs to work. Geologists' work with strata and rock formations also helps us date fossils, fitting creatures exactly where they were predicted within the branches of the evolutionary tree of life. Genetics and Molecular Biology show us how the basic molecular structures of life can mutate and cause variation within a species. Zoology and taxonomy link and categorize the traits that confirm common descent. Paleontology has discovered transitional fossils which show how species change over time. Embryology shows us the similarities in development and how DNA is passed on (as well as how it affects an animal or plant), and the list goes on and on and on.

This is an argument that can and should be used. It is truly amazing that not only every branch of biology, but several fields outside of biology, confirm predictions made by evolutionary theory.


12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid, Part 2

Part two of Answers in Genesis' list of 12 arguments that evolutionists should avoid is the argument that only the uneducated reject evolution.

Here's the truth about this argument: it is one that should be avoided. It's not that people who don't accept evolution are uneducated or even less educated (there would be no proof for that), it's that those people do not typically understand the volume of evidence supporting it. To say that these people are uneducated is simply a generalization and of course is not supported by any evidence. A better way to phrase it is that people who reject evolution are typically scientifically illiterate. They either don't understand the science, or don't care to understand the science.

So, yes, this argument should be avoided (because it doesn't hold up), but how many "evolutionists" actually use that argument.

Very little.

Just saying that the other side is dumber or less intelligent than you doesn't make you right, and most "evolutionists" know that. We rely on evidence, not ad hominem attacks.